Friday, March 31, 2006
In case you were wondering...
Brilliant. I wish I was this good.
POLITICS AS USUAL: Three Great Ladies
I am happy to say that Christine Elliott and Lisa MacLeod won in Whitby-Ajax and Nepean-Carleton respectively. They both won by comfortable margins (regardless of what some people say about Whitby-Ajax, the fact that Judy Longfield, the former liberal MP had huge name recogonition didn't help her overcome the Tory stronghold.)
I am sorry to say Georgina Blanas in Toronto faired a bit more poorly, but given the two heavy contenders from the Liberals and NDP, I feel she held her own.
I was happy to see that we fielded three great women candidates. Two more for our caucus and I am hopeful we will see Georgina out again.
Congratulations Ladies. Well done.
Thursday, March 30, 2006
Q! Talk Daily: The West Wing finale
So I am reading this, (UPDATED: I meant this) which pretty much gives away almost everything that is going on with the West Wing, and I see that they are planning a nude scene.
I am not sure who will be nude, but I am guessing it is Jimmy Smits' butt.
At that point, the series will have officially "jumped the shark", luckily there are only a few episodes left.
While some have been complaining about the direction of the show, I have really enjoyed the campaign episodes. I like Alan Alda as a "compassionate conservative" and I find him really believable (although it is hard not to see Hawkeye from time to time).
I began my career in partisan politics as a true idealogue, but now I get a rush from the game. A sad devolution from principled-partisan to political hack.
By the way, if you live in Nepean-Carleton, Whitby-Ajax, or the Beaches, get out and vote today (unless you are planning on voting Liberal or NDP, in which case, stay home and don't worry about it).
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Where does the time go...
I woke up today thinking what a great day. Sun shining. Birds singing. Even made it to the gym this morning (part of my 2006 goal to drop 25 lbs by the end of the year, but subject for another blog.)
Then I heard the news above.
I loved that song and am not ashamed to say I danced to it repeatedly.
So much for my attaining Hipster status.
And then...I got to work and I read this... and this... and this... (all via Bourque btw)
And I worry that politics as usual will remain politics as usual.
I now feel old and tired today.
My hope is that the Throne Speech really will set the tone.
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Why I like Jim...
That is a good question.
But it goes back to my Queen's Park days. I worked for a backbencher MPP who was happy to just be a backbench MPP with no delusions of grander, no plans to be in cabinent, no pining for the fjords.
While others were promoted to cabinet had a tendency to "go hollywood", Jim always took the time to take calls from my boss personally, talk to him directly and get an answer back to him, without filtering it through several layers of politcal staff.
In addition, I have a wife who despises politics. As far as she is concerned, politics is just one of those things which seems to keep me out of the house (at this stage of our marriage, this is considered a bad thing, I understand that in later stages it may be a good thing...I just hope to get to the later stages).
During the last provincial leadership campaign, we recieved a voice mail from Jim. A real, honest to god voice mail, not some damn demon-dialer. In it, Jim, who obviously had my name on the list must have heard my wife's name on our out-going message and mentioned her by name. To this day, my wife refers to the new Minister of Finance as "my friend Jim."
This, however, peturbs me to no end.
I recogonize that we have a minority and that not all of our program will be met. However, why can't our guys just come out and say that. "We wanted to cut capital gains, but with a Minority, we didn't want waste any capital (pun intended) on anything but our five priorities. If we get a majority next time, we will try again." By admitting it is too complicated, we have basically handed ammo over to the Liberals and NDP for the next election.
I liked working with the Mike Harris Tories in 1995-1997. The whole time we were able to hold our head high and say, "Read the Common Sense Revolution. It is in there. We said we would do it and we are." Even when things went wrong, we always got credit for trying.
I know, Majority vs Minority.
Sunday, March 26, 2006
POLITICS AS USUAL: Life on the Hill
I am going to go out on a limb and say the next federal election will be May 14, 2007. I haven't even checked my calendar to see if this is a Monday or not.
And I am even going to go further out on a limb and say, the Tories will win a majority.
Why and how can I say such things without even hearing the throne speech, the first budget or even an election poll?
My reasoning is contained in the above link with the following additions:
1) I think the Tories were denied a majority this time out because "scary Harper" was still in the shadows. While there have been some mis-steps, I don't believe we are going in the wrong direction. There is no appetite on the part of the PM to begin looking social issues when there is so much to do on the fiscal side of the ledger. "Scary" Harper will be seen as someone who has kept his promises.
2) The Liberals still have not acknowedged why they lost. By heading straight into the leadership process, and fast tracking it at that, they are, for all intents and purposes, saying "We lost because Paul Martin was our leader," rather than saying "We lost because we had no direction, no policy, no plan that resonated with the voters." Most of the Liberal brain trust has said on TV and in print "we had policy, lots of policy, but we couldn't sell it because of the scandal(s)." My belief is that while the scandals certainly caused people to look at the Tories this time out, when they turned back to the Liberals to see what they were saying, nothing was interesting, new and/or exciting. Cutting the GST may be bad tax policy, but it is good politics (and while improving productivity may be sound economic planning, telling people they are going to have to do more with less is not good politics.) People already feel they work too hard, too long with too much being taken at source. Pumping up productivity gains is not going to win you any points with Joe Average.
3) Why am I sure on the date? It will be 37 days after the Tories introduce their second budget. That budget will include more goodies and promises. The Tories will have kept the five priorities in the first budget, so they can then go to the electorate and say "Listen, do you like what we did so far, we kept our word. How about more of the same?" More of the same will include the fact that the sky hasn't fallen.
4) The liberal leadership talent pool is pretty thin. I haven't seen any candidate that I would be scared to put Mr. Harper against in the next election.
5) Quebec/Ontario. I think with the break-through in Quebec, many Ontario voters are going to see the Conservative Party as a national party again. This was the last election where it could be said only the Liberals had a national presence. The voters in Ontario are going to see the acceptance by their Quebec brethren as a sign that maybe the Tories deserve another look.
So, there you have it. Monday morning quarterbacking 14 months ahead of time.
Q! Talk Daily: Randy's woes...
So it seems Randy Quaid is upset that the producers of Brokeback Mountain misled him about the status of the project.
As I hear-tell, the Quaidmeister normally recieves 6 figures and points of the gross...
My question is this:
Are you f-ing kidding me? Randy Quaid ?!?!?!
While I get a laugh from most of his performances, wouldn't he count as the consumate B-list actor?
How can he justify 6 figures and "points of the gross"?
I need to give up politics and go into acting.
Evidently when RQ was in his twenties he was nominated for an Oscar, name the movie and the role.
Friday, March 24, 2006
Buy me a coffee...
On the political front, the Ontario Liberals have decided to buy a new car before paying of the old one. (or in this case a new bus).
It will be interesting to see what actually happens for small/rural municipalities.
After promising small-town Ontario stable funding, the Liberals immediately halted the CRF funding the Tories implemented to help offset downloading, they replaced it with OMPF funding which was half of what they used to get, only to be told it would be ZERO after 2007.
Got to hand it to the Liberals for keeping that promise. Zero funding for the next 20 years is what I would call stable at least.
Thursday, March 23, 2006
Our rich neighbours...
I think this pretty much answers the question...
While I don't think Ralph is a true conservative, by any stretch of the definition, I am very jealous of Alberta. I love the province, I love Calgary and Edmonton. I would love to live there. They are making it easier and easier for me to make that choice a reality.
I know there is the whole bonus from natural resources, but just think what our bonus here in Ontario would have been over the last 10 years if we hadn't been mired in debt. (Back of the envelope shows me at least $115 Billion in interest payments in the last decade). If Mike Harris hadn't given up our program in 1998 and kept things moving, we could have been 15 Billion less in debt and had another couple billion in interest savings.
I don't see anyone on the right side of the spectrum here in Ontario who gets this.
We will have to be satisfied with someone who just promises to hold the line on taxes.
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
POLITICS AS USUAL: Membership SHOULD have its privileges!
The current liberal leadership rules are causing some consternation with some regarding the early cut-off date for membership sales. And while I have no problem with causing any liberal frustration, I can sympathize.
I have been a card carrying Tory for 12 years now. I renew my membership faithfully when my local riding association sends me the notice. I renew federally on line and I am happy to do so. I am active (most days) in my local association and even if I miss a few meetings, I do offer my comments via email to the executive of the day.
Here is my problem: ALLOWING MEMBERSHIP SALES AT ALL DURING LEADERSHIP/NOMINATIO RACES
It seems to me that this process just becomes a game the various camps play with each other. Instant liberals or insta-tories are not helping the process along.
Let's begin with the premise that we believe in parliamentary parties and that these vehicles should continue (some may argue we should abolish them, or more precisely, ask what's the point if a) they are all the same and b) MPs can switch with no consequence, and I will comment on that later, but for now let's assume we want to continue with political parties).
Then, shouldn't there be some sort of privilege that goes with being a party member. Specifically, shouldn't we have the right to choose our candidates and our leader.
We are the ones who stay on between elections, attend the fundraisers, stuff envelopes, put up with the grief from our non-partisan brethren who snicker at us for our commitment.
If I had my way (and I am seriously considering a motion to ammend our Party Constitution at the next AGM, if for no other reason than to get people thinking about it), I would limit the cutoff date to December 31st of the year PRIOR to the leadership/nomination being called.
The only membership sales allowed in the "campaign period" would be for renewals. AND you would have to demonstrate you were a member in the previous calendar year.
Why do this?
First, it makes being a member more important between these races.
Second, it means we don't have to cull the list after every nomination/election and put up with those who throw out their cards after their candidate doesn't win.
Third, it would make recruitment into the party a priority at all times, not just when you want to win a nomination/stack a riding association/etc.
Fourth, all those who want to run for nomination/leadership/party executive would have an interest in maintaining those high membership numbers all the time because they would never know when an election/leadership may be called.
Fifth, the "star factor" would fade a little. These so-called "stars" would actually have to appeal to the existing membership.
Sixth, fewer and fewer dead people may sign up for the leadership convention.
So that is my $Q.02 <-Trademark meaning my two cents worth.
I have other process related rants, but they can wait for now.
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
POLITICS AS USUAL: When Bob Rae made my Day
I don't dismiss this theory. I remain one of those who believe this to be the case, because if anyone has forgotten what the NDP did to Ontario, I am certain that I, and others of my ilk, will work overtime to make sure everyone remembers.
With all that ranted, I would like to say that I genuinely like Bob Rae. I tell the story of the very first Mike Harris Throne Speech. A beautiful fall day and, as happened quite often in the early days of the Harris Regime, a bomb threat was called in. Leaving the LG's suite me and my newly minted conservative staff brethen headed for a cold ale at the Sutton Place Hotel.
Sitting at the bar, who was there, but none other than the former Premier of Ontario Bob Rae. A good friend of mine had a copy of "Rae Days" by Thomas Walkom, a fairly damning condemnation of the NDP's years in power. I suggested that he should ask Mr. Rae to sign it.
I suggested that Mr. Rae has a good sense of humour and would probably get a kick out of one of the new, wet-behind-the-ears, tory staffers asking him to sign the book.
Now keep in mind, less than 2 hours previously, Mr. Rae and his rump of NDP colleagues, had listened to the Lieutenant-Governor outline how Mr. Harris and was going to systematically dismantle everything he had done in the past five years AND less than 3 months previously, the electorate had basically tossed most of Mr. Rae's colleagues out on their ass.
So, armed with the book and a smile, my good friend approached Mr. Rae and asked for his signature.
Suffice it to say, Mr. Rae did not have the sense of humour that I thought he might.
I, however, laughed and laughed and laughed some more.
Bob Rae for Liberal Leader... we need a good laugh.
Monday, March 20, 2006
Enter, Stage Right
So this is my inaugural entry into the blogosphere and although I have lots to say, this post is just going to be a little bit bland.
A few housekeeping things:
First, big thanks to B-Double for giving this opportunity to keep the Conservative Hipster going. I feel like Jason Todd taking over for Dick Grayson. I only hope I don't get voted out like he did. It is a bit humbling to know that my good friend B thinks highly enough of me to let me continue his work. B-Double is moving on to bigger and better (and dare I say, more grown up) blogging work. I am content to remain an anonymous sidekick for now.
Second, I have not taken the time to learn all the nuts and bolts of the blog website, so over the next week or so, B-Double is going to help me personalize it just a little bit better to represent my interpretation of what it means to be a Conservative Hipster.
Third, a little bit about me (if I was completely up on this blogosphere, here is where I would put the "MY SO-CALLED LIFE: My so-called life" header):
I have known B-Double for over a decade now and we have been bonded by our love of the absurd. And as anyone who has followed right wing politics over the last decade or so, we have had lots to keep us amused.
My hope is that I never take myself so seriously that I can't laugh at myself. The Q comes not from 007 or Star Trek, but from my favourite politician, Diamond Joe Quimby. (In fact, when I heard that there was possibly an opening here at Conservative Hipster, I caught the very first plane back to Springfeld....urrr, ummm, Springfield).
I think I have some good policy ideas which I float ever now and then, and while I am Ontario-centric (meaning I am a card carrying PCPO member), I am also fond of our new CPC.
I tend to be more libertarian in my social views, meaning you won't find too many rants about same sex marriage here with the following exception:
There are those who oppose gay marriage because the do not condone the lifestyle. They do not think it is right for two people of the same sex to engage in sexual activity. I cannot think of a better way to stop two gay people from having sex than by allowing them to marry.
That's not mine, but I cannot for the life of me remember where I heard it. My wife slaps me when I say it in public.
Finally, I just wanted to let you know whose blogs I regularly read:
Warren Kinsella - because he is witty, not afraid to call it like he sees it, and so beautifully partisan that when he has an issue, no one doubts his sincerity to the party.
Calgary Grit - because he always has the most balanced and fair insight into Liberal Party politics. I think if we met, we would enjoy a cold ale and share lots of tall tales.
Adam Daifallah - because he is among the smartest and brightest on the right side of the political spectrum and I usually learn something new when I read his commentary.
The Colbert Report - because he knows he is right, and so am I.
Paul Wells - because he does return my emails.
Andrew Coyne - because I agree with him more often than not.
Rick Mercer - because he makes me laugh out loud.
There are others, and as I get the hang of this, I will link more often than not.
So there you have it. Probably a bit longer than one of these should be. I do hope to post more often the B-Double (one of my ongoing complaints about the lazy bastard). And I will probably reveal more about myself than anyone cares to know.
For those of you who know me, I am looking forward to your assessment of my "hipness". For those of you who don't, I can only say:
"GET TO KNOW ME" :-)
Friday, March 17, 2006
EXIT B-DOUBLE, ENTER Q
Its my honour to introduce the new Conservative Hipster, Q.
Q is a long-time Conservative activist who has a sick sense of humour and is pretty damn opinionated, which is why I thought he'd be perfect to replace me.
He is scheduled to take over on Monday. so check back for some of the new truth!
I think he'll be a good fit and an entertianing read, as long as he's not blogging drunk--then he'll be a hoot!
Anyway folks, stop by, say hi and welocme Q into the Conservative blogosphere.
MY SO-CALLED LIFE: A, B, C YA
Does that make me the Paul Martin of the Blogging Tories?
I will introduce the new owner at in the next post, but I first wanted to talk about what's most important: Me.
I started off this blog because I had a lot to say and I couldn't stand listening to the left and the media painting Conservatives as cold-blooded corporate whores or crazy nutjobs. At the same time, I wanted to show the outside world that we're not all a Borg-like monolithic collective.
I think I've done that. This blog has witnessed the U.S. election, the disappointing 2004 federal election, the victorious 2006 version, the Ontario PC Leadership and countless by-elections. During that time, I've commented on events of the day with regular smarminess and almost no frontal nudity.
This blog has been voted "Blog of the Week" by the Soapbox and mentioned by at least one MP as his favorite. Its been on Kinsella's page and despite numerous flowers and handwritten sonnets, not on Inkless Wells.
Regular traffic, lots of linkage. Success as far as I'm concerned. And something I hope continues.
So, before we get to intros of the the new Hipster, I have a few pearls I'd like to share with you on my way out the door:
- I will be popping up online again soon. Count on it.
- I want to thank Adam Daifallah for being one of the first larger blogs to give CH "props" at a time when ALL my regular readership had the same last name as me. I really need to read your book. I swear I'll get to it. I'll even buy it!
- Since I didn't know, apparently "GMD" = "Gay Midget Dwarf" = Tom Cruise. Guess I'm not as hip as I thought.
- I'd like to give a big middle finger to Mike Brock, who never returned an e-mail, posted a link or responded in any way (even when I linked to him) when I was trying to promote my blog early on. Who gives a rats ass if you're occasionally on the radio, dude?
- Calgary Grit is a great source for REAL, balanced commentary on all things FIBeral. Should be a daily read.
- The last season of the Sopranos will be fantastic. Its only Episode 1 and already Tony gets shot? Oops. Spolier alert! Awesome anyway.
- Free Dominion is an embarassment. I've never seen so much bigotted, homophobic whining and complaining ANYWHERE that poses as legitimate political commentary. Stop playa hatin', beyotches! If people want ammo on the CPC, that should be your first stop. Unfortunately, I hear Harper's crew actually takes it seriously.
- Big up to Stephen Taylor and Craig Smith for starting up the Blogging Tories. A fantastic initiative that should be replicated at the provincial level and at every possible opportunity. They are directly reponsible for many a blog's success. Believe it.
- We should cut PM Harper some slack, but his crew needs to step up their game. These three months have been the round robin. When Parliament opens, its the playoffs.
- White is the new black this season.
Anyway, folks, its been real. I hope to have some guest spots on CH, and the Colbert Report and Uncommon Truths have offered a place if I want it. So, if I feel the need to rant, I have places to vent.
I hope you keep checking in here. I know I will.
Peace out--B-Double is Audi 5000 (hip hop lingo; you wouldn't understand, as much as I've tried).
Friday, March 10, 2006
MY SO-CALLED LIFE: THIS HIPSTER NEEDS A HOME...
For a lot of different reasons, I have decided its time to hang up the ol' spurs and give up being The Conservative Hipster.
While a lot of people have been doing this a lot longer than me, I do feel like I got in before the "blog wave" and really learn about blogging from the ground floor.
That being said, I've come to the conclusion that I really want to start talking about other things and I can't do that in this space. So, I have decided to move on.
However, I would like CH continue. I've spent a long while getting this thing up and running and frankly, its not a bad li'l blog. While I don't drive the readership of an Instapundit or an Inkless Wells, I do have a fairly healthy steady readership (that hit counter didn't get there on its own!). This blog is already a member of the Blogging Tories, Red Ensign Brigade and Tories in Toronto
So, I'm willing to take offers on taking over CH. Obviously, I would strip off all the personal stuff for the new user, but it is a turn key operation. Once I give you the new passwords, you're ready to go. No, I'm not looking for offers of the monetary variety, I'm looking for someone who wants to take this blog to the next level. This blog is already a member of the Blogging Tories, Red Ensign Brigade and Tories in Toronto.
But I don't just want my baby to go to anyone, so I have a few questions for potential owners:
- Are you a Conservative?
- Are you willing to blog regularly (i.e. once every 2-3 days)?
- Where do you want to take this blog?
- What will be its main themes?
- How will you add to the blogosphere?
I've seen a lot of blogs close their doors and I've seen others just wither on the vine. I don't want to do that. I'd like CH to continue, just without me.
So, I'm throwing it out there. E-mail me at email@example.com and we'll talk.
My farewell post will also announce the new owner.
Thursday, March 09, 2006
POLITICS AS USUAL: TALK ABOUT DODGING A BULLET...
Of course, I'm not sure that's true, given that the higher ups are pissed at him that he sat on his infamous e-mail when the Tory campaign was actively looking for any firm Fiberal connections to the Income Trust scandal. As a "committed Tory", you'd think he would have known that.
I'm personally happy that this e-mail has come to light now--the NDP-fuelled RCMP investigation announcement was enough to scuttle the FIBeral post-Christmas "day-late-dollar-short" policy offensive (hey, thats a double entendre!) and it will sink the overly ambitious Scotty 2 Hotty before he gets out of the gate.
Its like 2 for 1 at the pub!
B! TALK DAILY: KERPLAWWWW!
I wanted to be the first to tell you that there WILL be peace in the Middle East in 3-5 days.
How do I, a young(ish) blogger from the Great White North, know this?
Because actress Sharon Stone is on the file. And she's ready to get busy.
Stone shows Basic Instinct for peace
Mar. 9, 2006. 06:35 AM
TEL AVIV, Israel—Actress Sharon Stone is ready to do her part for Mideast peace..to end the Israel-Arab conflict.
She arrived in Israel on Tuesday for a five-day trip sponsored by the Peres Center for Peace, founded by Nobel Peace laureate Shimon Peres in 1996 to improve relations with Arabs. It's her first visit to the Holy Land.
Stone, best known for her role in 1992's Basic Instinct, told a news conference yesterday she couldn't solve the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians but could use her fame to help encourage peace efforts."
Wow. And there's nothing she won't do to fulfill her mission:
"I would kiss just about anybody for peace in the Middle East," she said, drawing laughter from a throng of Israeli reporters. Stone playfully turned down calls to give Peres, who was at the news conference, a peck on the cheek."
Amazing. For a lasting end to the conflict in the middle east, Sharon Stone is willing to put it all on the line. She is literally willing to kiss (almost) anyone for peace.
Talk about self sacrifice. *Sniff*
Except Shimon Peres, apparently.
As an aside, how much of a nerd do you feel like if Sharon Stone says she'd kiss pretty well anyone for peace and then when asked to kiss you she says "No thanks".
His pillow will be wet tonight. Oh wait--that came out poorly.
Hollywood: Kissing for Peace.
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
B! TALK DAILY: UH, YOU MIGHT SAY THAT....
"Conservative America long has been at odds with liberal Tinseltown, championing films with religious overtones like the blockbuster "Passion of the Christ," which was snubbed at the 2004 Oscars."
Saying a film--ABOUT THE DEATH OF JESUS--has "religious overtones" is like saying "some consuption of alcohol" appears on-screen in "Animal House".
My goodness me.
Monday, March 06, 2006
POLITICS AS USUAL: STRANGE BEDFELLOWS, INDEED
Interesting chat about all things political and Campaign 2006.
Discussion turns to PM Harper and his advisers.
Says I: "So who's giving advice to Prime Minister Harper? He clearly had some good people around him during the campaign"
Says Friend: "You know, the usual. Folks you've read about in the papers. Although, Harper really is his own adviser. But you know the the most interesting one?"
Says I: "Do tell."
Says Friend: "Warren Kinsella."
DAY-LATER UPDATE: Semi-denial from Warren.
Thursday, March 02, 2006
POLITICS AS USUAL: BY-ELECTION UPDATE
More as I get it. While both nominations are acclaimations, they still present an opportunity to show our support for Lisa and Georgina and to sign up to help.
Be there. If you don't, I'll be forced to thrash you.
POLITICS AS USUAL: 3 BY-ELECTIONS CALLED IN ONTARIO
These elections are to fill vacancies for three MPPs who decided to move on to the federal theatre: Jim Flaherty (wicked successful), John Baird (big time successful) and Marilyn Churley (not so much).
As the defender of 2 of the 3 seats in play, these contests are high stakes for the Ontario PC Party and their leader, John Tory.
I am using this corner of the blogosphere to ask each of my readers (assuming most of them are supporters of the Ontario PC Party and the CPC) to give ha hand in the next month. Obviously, McGuinty called a snap election to try and catch the Party off guard. But we have strong nominated and/or declared candidates in Lisa MacLeod (nominated), Christine Elliott (declared), Ian MacNeil (declared) and Georgina Blanas (nominated).
It's time to send the Ontario FIBerals a message that Ontario deserves better than 80,000 lost manufacturing jobs, a crippling health tax and no plan for our future energy needs.
What can you do?
- Make a donation. Either to the Party at www.ontariopc.com or the candidates themselves.
- Come out and help! If you're on Parliament Hill, Nepean Carleton is a 20-minute drive and Whitby Ajax is wonderful in early spring. You can also enjoy the Toronto nightlife after a day of campaigning in Toronto Danforth. What else are you doing this weekend? What about next weekend?
- Get the word out. Use your blog, e-mail and any other wonders of technology to recruit money and volunteers.
Don't know anybody at the Ontario PC Party? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll hook you up. I'm good that way.
John Tory and countless other Ontario Tories were proud to stand with Stephen Harper and his CPC candidates in Ontario in the last election. Many of us played key roles in the various campaigns in the drive to push Martin's FIBerals out of office.
I now ask each of you to stand with us and lend a hand in these key ridings.
The Party needs your help to elect three great candidates.
B! TALK DAILY: AND THE BULLS**TER OF THE YEAR AWARD GOES TO.....
Trash talk exudes a whiff of mystery
They say they can turn garbage into energy, insist they have a $60-million contract with unnamed companies to burn up millions of tonnes of Toronto-area trash, and count former Washington mayor Marion Barry -- famously re-elected after a conviction for cocaine possession -- as a supporter.
But the strange and contradictory story of First NRG, a virtually unknown company based in Hogansburg, N.Y., on the St. Regis Mohawk reserve, doesn't stop there.
Its founders say they are backed by "native cigarette manufacturers" and have had discussions about their gasification technology with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, the vice-president of Sudan and Cuban officials. They also say they have won half of a $1-billion deal to process garbage in Jakarta.
Simon Romana, a New Zealander who says he is the inventor of the firm's gasification technology, says the machine uses "thermal reduction" to turn solid waste into gas that is then used to create electricity.
Reached on the phone yesterday, Mr. Romana said the firm plans to build two plants, both on reserves in Canada: one at Oneida Nation near London, Ont., and the other on Cornwall Island on the Akwesasne reserve, across the U.S.-Canada border from St. Regis.
The plants, Mr. Romana says, are going to process 1.5 million tonnes -- and perhaps double that in the future -- of "household" garbage a year from Toronto and other nearby municipalities, with the Oneida plant starting up June 1.
However, all of Toronto's residential waste is shipped to a Michigan landfill under a long-term contract with waste management giant Republic Services, which has had no dealings with First NRG. And senior City of Toronto officials say they have had no contact with, and have never even heard of, First NRG.
Mr. Romana would not reveal for publication the names of the private waste companies with whom he has signed what he says is a $60-million contract, saying the deal was "confidential."
There are other questions about the scheme. Construction has yet to begin at the Oneida site, according to Mr. Romana, which is to start accepting garbage in just three months. (The Akwesasne site, he said, should open six months later.) Mr. Romana says the facilities need no government approvals or environmental assessments, because they would be on native land.
But even the Akwesasne band council said it had not received any application for a gasification plant on its land, Chief Larry King said in a statement e-mailed by an aide to The Globe and Mail.
Mr. Romana and investor Windell King, an Akwesasne resident, have been touting their technology in Washington, with visits last fall and this week, demonstrating what they said was a $1.5-million version of their machine that fits on a flatbed truck.
The visits were supported by Mr. Barry, now a District of Columbia councillor.
Mr. Romana said yesterday he was working on a deal with the District to build gasifiers to process 1,200 tons of the municipality's sewage sludge: "We're just negotiating it as we speak."
But Chris Peot, biosolids manager for the District of Columbia's Water and Sewer Authority, said no such deal was in the offing: "That may be what they want to happen. But it's not going to happen."
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