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14 posts from January 2009

January 28, 2009

If Harper Gets Put on Parliamentary Probation....

Number8 If Harper gets put on Parliamentary Probation, you have to wonder how he'll feel about abiding by these standard provisions of a typical probation order:

Could be a bit of a jolt after the relative freedom he enjoyed during prorogation, don't you think?

Note: Also to be added to the file for this Parliamentary bad boy, with regard to his likelihood to re-offend: Remember that flirtatious comment he made to Geri Hall about handcuffs (a comment she's no doubt struggling, to this day, to get out of her head)? Perhaps it speaks to his character. Please copy and file. Thanks.

Budget Bizarreness

The National managed to find the one Canadian working class family that actually believes that the extra $.33 it finds in its pocket each day is going to dig this country out of a recession. ("We spend this dollar. And then the next person spends this dollar.") It sounds like that 1970s shampoo commercial about telling two girlfriends -- but there's much more at stake than great hair. (Even the middle class, who were supposed to fall in love with Stephen Harper all over again via this budget, are getting $.67 a day, unless of course, they can take advantage of the home reno tax credit -- up to $1350 to do home renos or "build a deck at the cottage," as Jim Flaherty suggested.)

There are much more significant problems with this budget, of course. The budget doesn't address the need for EI reform -- even though 50 percent of unemployed Canadians don't qualify for benefits; and EI at least helps to break the fall as Canadians who are out of work try to regain their financial and employment footing.

One of the budget measures that will reward people on social assistance for working part-time sounds a lot like Mike Harris' welfare to work projects of the late 1990s -- except this time there are very few jobs to be found. So by not finding work in the midst of a recession, those social assistance recipients are, in effect, being punished for, what? Being social assistance recipients. This seems to tap into that deep-rooted belief held by many in the far right of the deserving and the undeserving poor.

To be fair, there are some positive initiatives as well. The investment in green initiatives. The investment in social housing. I'm sure if I read the budget line by line, I could come up with many others.

But, overall, this budget lacks focus and vision. By spreading the resources in so many different directions in order to try to buy political favor, this budget is $40 billion dollar deficit-producing budget is really $40 billion ado about nothing. It seems very wrong that you can spend so much money to accomplish so little.

A budget that offers something for everyone? Sure, I'll buy that definition -- as long as you accept that the "something" is politically-fortified crumbs.

On the other hand, the budget managed to tick off the Fraser Institute, and that's definitely something for a neo-conservative government. Bet they never thought they'd see the day.

Related:

Seating Plan for House of Commons:
Useful tool given that Parliament has only been in session five times since June.

January 26, 2009

The Star Says It Will No Longer Hide Its Progressive Light Under A Bushel; Faith Leaders Call for a More Progressive Agenda from Harper

TheStar.com | GTA | Key changes in today's Star come thanks to your feedback.

This is fabulous stuff -- particularly this part:

"Only the Star among Canadian media has an explicit mandate to encourage progressive and just initiatives to strengthen the social fabric of our Greater Toronto community, our province and our nation.

"To that end, we will no longer hide our light under a bushel. In print and online, we will bring you the reflections of the best minds of our time on the most vexing questions of the period. And we will make this discussion and debate easy to find every day."

Also not to be missed in today's paper -- this article discussing how faith leaders are calling for the Harper government to follow a more progressive path.

January 20, 2009

Obama, Harper, and Leadership

After riding the Obama wave all day, I made the mistake of catching up on politics on this side of the border. Shudder. Talk about culture shock.

The shift south of the border has changed things for us, too, Canada. When the House of Commons resumes next week, we can't settle for business as usual (or as it has been for the past three years). It is time we raised the bar for our leaders here at home -- that we put our MPs and political party leaders on notice that the time for change is now, whether there's a change in leadership, attitude, or both.

Personally, I vote for both.

Harper isn't showing any evidence of becoming a team player. And who can trust a leader who believes that when the going gets tough, the tough crank up the propaganda?

Not me.

January 19, 2009

Guernica's Interview with David Frum

The current issue of Guernica features a fascinating interview with David Frum. Here's a brief snippet.

"Probably my first political experiences were in the summer of 1975. I worked on a provincial campaign for a friend of my parents who was running as a New Democratic Party candidate—that was the Left Wing party (in Canada). It wasn’t that I was so left-wing, but this was a chance to work on a campaign with somebody my parents knew. So he gave me a little job getting coffee and typing up letters. That was also the summer I read The Gulag Archipelago. My mother had given it to me as a birthday gift, and it made a huge impression on me. And then the uncertainty and anxiety of the late nineteen seventies were crucial. I think I probably began to think of myself as a right-of-center person when I was in college—starting in the fall of 1978."


January 15, 2009

Books Run in My Family: What I'll Be Talking About at Frontier College at Trent University's 9th Annual Literacy Conference, Sat. Jan. 24th

FCTU Brochure09FINAL

I'm the keynote speaker at Frontier College at Trent University's 9th Annual Literacy Conference later this month. Here's the scoop. (Be sure to tell your friends you read it here first!) The conference is being held at Peter Gzowski College at Trent University (Peterborough, Ontario) on Saturday, January 24th.

The event runs from 11 am to 4 pm and will feature a variety of guest speakers throughout the day. You can register online. Admission is FREE.

I'll be presenting from 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm. I'll speaking for between 30 and 45 minutes and then answering questions for the remainder of the time.

The topic I've chosen is "Books Run in My Family" -- all about the way books and the love of reading have been passed up and down my family tree. (There are quite a few published authors in my family. I'll be talking about that, too.) If you've ever heard me speak, you already know that I have a pretty chatty style. I'm big on sharing personal anecdotes, life lessons learned (particularly anything learned through the School of Hard Knocks), practical tips and advice -- plus as many from-the-trenches author war stories as I can possibly fit in. (That's the whole reason to come out to an event like this, isn't it?)

If you do come out, be sure to ask me about my worst-ever book event (it's pretty awful) and the worst event any author ever had (it's about as bad as you can imagine -- but, thankfully, it didn't happen to me). I hope to see you on the 24th. Be sure to bring a friend or two -- or your entire book club. The more the merrier, after all.

January 13, 2009

Transition Town Peterborough: Meeting This Week

Plantman Transition Town Peterborough is hosting a meeting that will focus on permaculture (designing sustainable human settlements that mimic patterns and relationships found in nature) on Wednesday, January 14th. The meeting will be held at the Peterborough Public Library from 6:45 to 8:45 p.m.

The session will be introduced by Trent Rhode of Transition Town and led by Paula Anderson of Peterborough Green-Up. It will define permaculture, outline local action steps, and end with a public discussion.

To find out more about the event or Transition Town Peterborough, email Trent Rhode.

Fair Vote Canada: Peterborough Chapter Planning Meeting

Number24 Planning meeting for the
Peterborough Chapter of

Fair Vote Canada

Sunday, January 18th
1 pm to 3 pm
Peterborough Public Library

Please RSVP

The Frank Truth

The first post on the twitter page of frankluntz

"A compelling story, even if factually inaccurate, can be more emotionally compelling than a dry recitation of the truth."

January 10, 2009

Charities Deserve a Tax Break: Charities Can't Offer Donors The Same Tax Incentives As Political Parties -- So They End Up Paying for High-Priced Fundraising Talent

TheStar.com | News & Features | Sick Kids loses top-paid fundraisers.

I've been thinking a lot about this story ever since it hit the paper yesterday morning.

A lot of people have been talking about the poor return on investment that Sick Kids donors have been receiving lately -- less than 50 cents on the dollar on some projects, according to The Star's investigation.

That is a concern. I always factor in a charity's overhead when I'm making my donation decisions. But this points to a much bigger issue. Charities perform a lot of valuable work in our society -- work that would otherwise go undone or have to be funded by government. (Anyone want to place a bet on which way the coin-toss would go these days?) And they have to raise their own funds to carry out that work.

Competing for those very same donor dollars are political parties, who can offer donors much sweeter incentives to open their checkbooks. (And there are more donor perks to come in Ontario.)

If charities were competing for donor dollars on the same playing field as political parties, they wouldn't have to fork over all those dollars for high-priced fundraising talent, and donors would get a better return-on-investment on their donations.

It seems so obvious to me that it's in everybody's best interest to change our tax laws to level the playing field. Because if the charities can't raise the dollars they need to deliver their much-needed programs and services, our entire society will pay a very big price.

This really is a no-brainer.