Thursday, April 27, 2006

Fly the Flag

Again, my real job has interfered with my blogging responsibilities.

I was visiting our neighbours to the south and had an opportunity to spend a couple of days with a former US Marine drill instructor. The gentleman in question had served his country with honour and dignity before leaving to begin his own business. To this day, whenever he can, he visits Paris Island for the graduation parade and makes sure that no one in the bar pays for drinks while he is there. The reason? He says that without the training, discipline and responsibility that he received from the Corps, he would never have made it so well in the business world.

We had the opportunity to talk about some of the things going on here regarding the flying of the flag at half mast for our fallen soldiers and of media filming the returning bodies at Trenton. He suggested that the best way to honour our soldiers was not in the lowering of the flag or filming of dead bodies. The best way to honour our soldiers is to make sure they are the best trained and best equipped men and women on the battlefield. The best way to honour the dead is to make sure that they were participating in a worthwhile mission.

If you believe, as I do, that the mission in Afghanistan is worthwhile; that the elimination of the Taliban and their supporters is a moral obligation on the part of our country; that we, as Canadians, who are blessed with a healthy democracy with rights and freedoms, have a duty to help other countries experience what we take for granted, then our dead are honoured by our continued support and they will not have died in vein.

I think the military has experienced enough disrespect from past governments as their budgets have been slashed, their military needs have been politicized and ignored, and their working conditions (in peacetime) are a joke.

If we conservatives want to honour our fighting men and women, then don't worry about the raising and lowering of flags, instead we should provide funding for training, provide funding for better wages and living conditions, and make sure our men and women in combat situations have the best equipment and armour available. If not, then don't send them into harm's way.


Monday, April 24, 2006

Day Care Comments

Greg Weston had a good article regarding the day car debate in this wekend's Sun.

I don't think we conservatives can call the $1200 per year a day care plan, but the incentives for private daycare expansion should be. These two issues should be considered separately in my mind.

Everyone knows that $100 per month per child is not going to be the answer to daycare issues, but nor was the Liberal plan. Lots of new, institutional daycare in large urban centres ignored the fact that most people in need of daycare are commuting from small towns and suburbs, where no new places were going to be created.

I am a strong believer in Early Childhood Education and Learning, but then it should be provided in centres where parents who choose to stay at home can take advantage as well.


Friday, April 21, 2006

What's in a Name?

So I was reading WK's column about the Prime Minister's wife, and what we should call her, and my wife commented that she was happy to take my name.

At the risk of outing myself, my last name is Quirk.

You can well imagine how finding someone who was a) willing to marry be b) mother my children and c) take my last name was, shall we say, a bit of a challenge (given my otherwise flawless personality these were the only challenges :-).

I never gave it a thought. In my single days, I always assumed the woman I married would do whatever she wanted. I did think that our children should have my name and not some freakishly hyphenated thing and maybe that makes me sexist, paternalistic but I was the last male Quirk in my family and the proud name must continue. (In fact, there is an ongoing bet from university that gives me $1000 if I can persuade her to name our next boy James Tiberius, but that is for another post).

Isn't the whole feminist thing about giving women the choice to do what they want and then accepting that choice? My wife chose to take my name - despite how weird it is. My wife chooses to stay at home with our kids - despite the fact she made a lot more money than I can ever hope to. My wife likes it when I hold the door open for her - despite the fact that someone commented it on it being sexist. She often says that the result of many of the feminist strides over the years have served to make it more difficult for women to be the women they choose to be and not what the feminist movement expects them to be.

Anyone who knows her, knows she doesn't put up with any crap and no one is forcing her to do anything she doesn't want to do.

Meanwhile, I think that WK has it right. What the Prime Minister's wife chooses to call herself is her business. I just don't think anyone should be offended if they choose to use their maiden name and someone refers to them by their married name accidently.

Q(uirk) out

Thursday, April 20, 2006

My So Called Life - Early Morning Blues

Sorry for the late post today. My real job interfered (as it is prone to do from time to time :-(

My Early Morning Blues refers to the fact that I was up at 6:00 am this morning and I was filling up the gas tank at $1.082 per litre and I was thinking that while I profess to be a free-market liberal, it pisses me off that gas rates can fluctuate this much on any given day.

Why is it that beer companies have to give 30 days notice of any price change, but gas companies can change their price hourly. It seems to me that the gas that is in the tank under the ground was bought and paid for at a certain price. The company marked it up to make a profit and the govenment taxed it. If the gas station has not received a new delivery of gas, what has changed in their day to day operations that makes it necessary to change the price.

If I was Prime Minister, I would make the companies post the price based on the current amount of fuel. They could not change the price until the next delivery was recieved. This might lead to some outrageous hikes at one time, but at least you would know ahead of time. Some gas stations would still have some at the cheaper level and be keep it at that price until they too ran out.

I know, I know. Overly simplistic and not realistic given this day and age of global economy, but with $63 Billion last year in profit for the big gas companies, the only thing letting me sleep at night is the fact that some of my mutual funds hold oil companies in their portfolios.

Q out (of gas)

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Politics as Usual: Newsflash - Liberals out of touch

I think the best thing the liberals could do would be to force an election over the childcare allowance. It would certainly mean a majority for the Conservatives the next election.

I can't believe how out of touch the Liberal party is with average Canadians. My wife and I do not need subsidized day-care. We are very lucky that way. But an extra $200 a month would be very useful to us in managing our day to day finances. Even if I wasn't a Conservative, how do you think I would vote?


Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Dealing with Thugs

After my post yesterday, I recieved the following comment from OneMoreMiddleAgedGuy:

So the land of the dictator Castro who not so long ago called Canadians a
nation of bastards now has several thousand of your hard earned dollars!

My response was, "That is true, and if it all works out well, I hope to have several hundred thousand of his."

Which leads me to my question of the day? Who is it acceptable to trade with?

Given the number of dictatorships, monarchies and out-right thuggeries that are still out their in this day and age, should we trade with them. My argument would be yes. I don't think sanctions (like those against Iraq and the ones the US uses against Cuba) actually hurt those in charge. The only ones who suffer are the people. Are we cutting our nose of to spite our face.

In the case of Cuba (and in the interest of full disclosure, I holiday there whenever I can), the country is getting hard currency from an influx of tourists (1.3 Million in 2000, 4.3 Million last year), and increase in Nickel and Oil and Sugar prices have given it actual money. Sherit in Canada is in a joint venture to exploit their nickel reserves. Why should I not benefit from increasing their awareness and subsequently reducing their potential environmental impact.

In the past, I have sold equipment to China through Canadian companies that have established factories there. Even though some of their regulations are much less than ours, our Canadian companies are driving the agenda to exceed the local regulations.

Should we be sending arms shipments to China/Cuba/Iran? No, definitely not. But other products? For sure.

Q out

PS Of course I am a conservative conservationist. I am happy to protect the environment as long as I can profit from it :-)

Monday, April 17, 2006

A few thoughts from the past week..

1) Warren Kinsella's article about Stephen Harper using the term God Bless Canada to end every speech was right on. I don't enjoy going to church, but I married a good catholic girl, and part of the deal was we would attend church. My preference would be to sleep in on Sunday's like I did in my bachelor days (although to be fair, the term would be "sleep off" back then). I don't particularly "get it" with all the standing up, sitting down and kneeling, but it gives comfort to my wife and provides a moral compass for her. I let her be my moral compass and we are all happy. I have absolutely no problem with asking God (whomever she may be) to continuing to bless Canada ("and nowhere else" <-Chris Rock movie line, which one?)...because.... this leads me to...

2) I was away last week in Havana exploring a series of business opportunities. I believe that every Canadian upon graduating highschool should be forced to spend 3 months in a third world country. Upon returning, I am certain that they would understand how much He/She/It has blessed Canada and there would be a lot less whining and a lot more effort in making Canada just a wee bit better. In my spare time (when I am not blogging) I design air pollution control equipment for industrial applications. The conditions I saw in Cuba would make me jump for joy, if they could actually afford our stuff. The reality of this socialist paradise is that only industries which draw in hard currency are even interested/allowed in improving their air quality. The health of the workers is not even a concern, the entire pitch had to be about improving productivity. Of the six plants I visited, the only one that was concerned about worker's health was the sugar industry, and that was only because of health related absenteeism.

3) If Preston Manning wins the Alberta Leadership, I may just have to move out there. I think Preston has some strong ideas on how government should be run, and given the fiscal position of Alberta, would be able to implement some ideas with minimal upheaval. As Adam D. points out, throwing money at every problem and spending like drunken sailors is not what being a conservative is all about.

There are probably more thoughts about last week, but a small amount of Cuban Rum has prevented me from fully compiling them in a coherent manner.


PS Just because I don't enjoy church does not mean I am willing to give up my Easter Holiday, so I hope everyone had a Happy Easter.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

My So Called taking me out of town

Nothing new for a week or so, as I am going to be out of town in a place with limited internet access.

See you Easter Monday.

Q out (of town)

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Politics as Usual: My Humble Suggestion

Before all the hysteria regarding the "National Childcare System" introduced by the Liberals gets all out of control, what I would offer by way of a suggestion to our new Minister of Finance is go back to the lump sum transfer system to the provinces, get out of specifiying what the money is for.

The problem with the so-called "fiscal imbalance" is that the federal government has, over a number of years, insinuated itself into areas of provincial jurisdiction. Now all these side agreements have meant the provinces are getting more and more money to partially fund programs that didn't exist before, and do not have the funds to pay for the programs they are supposed to pay for in the first place.

The entire paragraph above could be repeated with the words "provincial government" replacing "federal government" and "municipalitis" replacing "provinces"....

No wonder no one wants to vote. There is no clear delineation of responsibilities.

Oh, and before I forget, our town did get a bunch of money in the last provincial budget - "one time funding" of $452,000 for roads and bridges. Without sounding ungrateful, our town has spent lots of its tax funds on roads and bridges over the past 15 years, and does not have the "infrastructure deficit" some other municipalities who have decided to fund things outside of their mandate ("Hello Toronto") and thus we now have to scrape and scheme to find ways of spending this money.

In the meantime, we have debentured for our Recreation Services and now we have to put in new roads rather than pay off past debts.

Man alive, it bugs me.

Q out

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

A little late today...

Sorry, but my real life caught up with me today and so I am a little tardy in posting anything.

And even given all the exciting things that have occured the past couple of days, I don't really have much new in the way of commentary to offer.

I will say this, if you are getting a new floor installed by professionals, and they say it will take one day, take that with a grain of salt. The floor looks great and the price hasn't changed, but last night we found ourselves with no room to move and no floor in our bathroom and kitchen. With little ones running around, it was not the safest environment.

We subsequently fled to the in-laws for a night of relaxation.

Q out

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Politics as Usual: The Throne Speech

Greg Weston calls this the drone from the throne in today's Sun.

Obviously, for conservatives out there this is an exciting time for us, if for no other reason that it has been a little while since the Conservatives have written a federal throne speech.

Greg's point is that this will be boring because the points are already known: 5 priorities - 5 promises - let's make it happen.

Given past campaigns where the political parties promised everything to everyone, the Throne Speech was the first indication of which of those promises would actually be kept. The real meat is in the budget.

I remain cautiously optimistic that the direction of government will change for the better today, despite my earlier misgivings.

In the meantime, enjoy the show...


PS If you have the time, check out this. A band that shows some promise on the local music scene.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Early morning ponderings...

A couple of thoughts...

I wonder if this guy was one of those who bought Tim Horton's at $70.00 in pre-market trading last week and watched his investment cut in half in 12 minutes.

Warren was a pleasure to read Saturday morning. I thought his first post of the month might have had something to do with his earlier post about some guy buying him a beer and him getting all teary-eyed at the King Edward event. Then I saw the date...

and continuing under that vein, I thought for sure I had stumbled onto the best one of the day listening to the radio Saturday morning, but it seems it might be serious...isn't it a shame when some people don't realize that their 15 minutes ended already.


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