Friday, July 30, 2010

From my Bleeding Heart: The Census and Discrimination

When the Harper government announced its intent to make 54 of the 62 questions on the long census form voluntary, Harper and Tony Clement claimed that it was to protect people’s privacy from invasive questions.  I, like many businesses, academics, politicians, government agencies, and rationally minded citizens, felt that explanation seemed… lacking, which made me suspicious of Harper’s actual motivations.

One month later, while the controversy over the census rages on, the CPC announces that they intend to “review” the government’s hiring policy in regards to affirmative action. 

So Harper has modified the census so that it will be harder to determine if there is racially based discrimination in the job market, then he seeks to remove a program designed to combat the same problem.
The only way privacy makes sense as an explanation for the changes to the census is if it refers to the government’s “right” to enact legislation in private, without “interference” by the opposition, media, and non-white Canadians.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

In response to Searching for Liberty's "Advice on filling out the Long-form Census"

Original Post

The response after the jump is based on all information up until my comment on the original post that reads:

"My rebuttal is getting rather long, when I finish it I'll post it on my blog."

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Census: the Long and Short of It

Harper has reduced the long census from 63 to 8 because he claims that the rest of the questions are overly intrusive on our individual right to privacy.  Lets have a look at the new census and then the questions that have been left out.  Please be aware that I have paraphrased them to keep this post as short as possible.

F-35s... Why?

I know this topic is being talked about to death... but I saw the bandwagon and said, "me too!"

So, a few weeks ago Harper stated his commitment to reducing the deficit by half by 2013.  His first major action after that: $16B for 65 state of the art F-35s.  $9B for the planes and an estimated (though not confirmed) $7B for maintenance.  To put that into perspective that's four times the amount that was set aside for the economic action recovery plan.

The CPC has said that the cost is necessary to replace the aging fleet of CF18s that are currently in use.  All of the remaining 79 of which are finishing a $2.6B upgrade to a wide variety of their systems.

So if we're upgrading the existing planes why do we also need new ones?

The CPC's reasons were that we had already invested $168M into the development of the plane (as have many of our allies) and that we need to keep pace with our allies in terms of military capability.  Also, the airframes on the CF-18s are getting old and do need to be replaced, but that can also be done at a fraction of the cost.

The first reason is filled with so much stupid that its not worth making a serious argument against it.  It's like buying a ticket to a hockey game then buying the entire team to justify the ticket's expense.  At best $168M gives us the option to choose to purchase then jets.

Which allies are we trying to keep up with?  It seems that the cost of the F-35 is a major problem for all of the countries that have invested in the program except us.  The US and many of the other countries involved in the project have cut the size of their orders, and the Dutch have withdrawn from the program altogether.

The original cost of the F-35 was slated at $55M each, which had ballooned to an estimated $115M as of May of this year.  Now in July we've agreed to pay $138M per plane... I think Harper needs to work on his bargaining skills.  We're purchasing from the first production run, which typically is rife with minor technical errors; if we had waited until the fourth run, we could have paid half.

During a financial meltdown it seems like a better use of tax money would have been to stabilize and expand the economy.  As mentioned before the F-35 expenditure is four times greater than the stimulus fund.  But maybe we need the jets more than we need to repair and upgrade our infrastructure, help struggling businesses and families, and oh yeah prevent further expansion of the deficit.

As I read through the Toronto Star I was amused that the very next article following one about the F-35s was about the dire condition of our existing infrastructure.  Apparently the cost to bring Ontario's roads need about $160M to maintain them at a minimum safe standard.  But hey, its not like infrastructure has anything to do with the economy, right?

To conclude, I was annoyed with this decision in light of the recent commitment to reduce the deficit by a half in three years.  But I guess if you make it as big as possible this year, halving it will be all the easier.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Part 2: Understanding Progressives

As promised in an earlier post here's my review of what George Lakoff has to say in the Political Mind about the progressive mind and view of the family.

Nurturing Parent Model:
Quoted from the Political Mind
[T]wo parents, with equal responsibilities, and no gender constraints - or one parent of either gender. Their job is to nurture their children and raise them to be nurturers of others. Nurturance is empathy, responsibility for oneself and others, and the strength to carry out those responsibilities.  This is opposite of indulgence: children are raised to care about others, to take care of themselves and others, and to lead a fulfilling life.  Discipline is positive; it comes out of the child's developing sense of care and responsibility.  Nuturance requires setting limits, and explaining them.  It requires mutual respect - a parent's respect for children, and respect for parents by children must be earned by how the parents behave. Restitution is preferred over punishment - if you do something wrong, do something right to make up for it.  The job of parents is protection and empowerment of their children, and a dedication to community life, where people care about and take care of each other.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Implications of an Elected Senate

Since his election in 2005 Harper has been pushing to reform the Senate. As witnessed in his 2006 and 2010 senate reform bills he wants senators to be elected and have a term limit of about 8 years. By doing this Harper says he hopes to bring accountability and legitimacy to the Senate.

There are a number of problems with his plan.

1. He can't change these things without a constitutional amendment

The Constitution Act 1982 §42 (1)(b) states:
(1) An amendment to the Constitution of Canada in relation to the following matters may be made only in accordance with subsection 38(1):
(b) the powers of the Senate and the method of selecting Senators;

This means that if Harper wants Senators to be elected or to have an 8 year term limit, he needs to get the approval of Parliament, the Senate, and at least 7 provincial legislatures who have a total of at least 50% of the population. The CPC has argued that the election part of this can be circumvented since, the PM will simply appoint whoever wins the elections. But lets not fool ourselves, even if I accept this method it's facially still a change to method of selecting Senators.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Thoughts on Electoral Reform

Electoral reform has been a topic of debate for many years in Canada. I thought it was time that I weigh in with my "highly informed" opinion .

Canada currently uses the first past the post system (FPP) which we have inherited from the the British. The idea is that whoever gets the most votes win, even if they don't have a majority.

Andrew: 36%
Bob: 29%
Cathy: 35%

Andrew wins.

The problem with this system is that most time the winner doesn't have the support of the majority of voters. Andrew wasn't supported by 64% of those who cast their votes. If you think that's silly, you're probably right.

Over the years this has resulted in majority governments typically being formed with only around 35% of the popular vote. Only 2 federal governments have been formed with at least 50% of the popular vote since 1950. Despite what Harper may say; it is constitutionally possible for several parties to band together to form a coalition government.

Ex. Bob and Cathy agree that Andrew would make a bad leader and will use his twisted ideology to cause irreparable damage to the country. So they decide to work together to prevent Andrew from forming the government. But in this case Andrew whined and grossly misrepresented the constitution to the public.

Wait what was I talking about and why do I suddenly feel like perogies? Oh right... electoral reform!

So why don't we change to something better? Well there are two reasons: most politicians don't want to change it and we can't agree on what to change it to.