Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Incremental Senate Reform...

There are those who are opposed to small reforms to the Senate. But I think that some small steps are worth taking. Limiting terms of Senators to eight years is a good start (provided they can't be reappointed) until real, fundamental reforms can take place.

I reiterate, I do not have a problem with having an equal number of senators from each province.

Here is another idea:

Senate elections would coincide with provincial elections. The new senators would be appointed on a proportional basis by the leaders of the provincial parties. This would certainly ensure provincial buy in. The Senate would almost always be in flux, but at least the provinces would feel they have a say in the workings of Confederation.

I still like the idea of 10 Senators per Province. After each provincial election, the leaders of the provincial parties (those who recieved, say, more than 15% of the popular vote, would get to appoint their choice for Senators). Ideally, each party leader would be required to submit a list of 10 names as their choices prior to the provincial election (say when nominations for candidates is cut off).

Boy, I bet Prime Minister Harper put me in charge of Senate reform.

There's a thought, appoint me to the Senate now, and I will spend the next 40 years reforming the Senate.

Really I will. I promise.

Q

Municipal Election Update

Well three weeks in and no one has challenged me yet. I must be doing a such great job that 100% of the population wants me acclaimed :-)

Actually, my ward-mate has not filed yet. I suspect he is waiting to see if he is going to make the jump to the Regional level, which means there will be a vacancy in my ward, which means lots of people will take a stab at it, which means no acclamation.

Believe me when I say, I believe in democracy and local politics are democracy at its truest form. It doesn't mean I wouldn't rather be acclaimed.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Q! Talk Daily: Up, up and away




The new trailer is out. (quicktime required)

And it rocks.

I was skeptical of this movie as I understood it was trying to be a sequel to I-VI and not a reimagining like the successful (and more acurate to the comics) Batman Begins.

However, after seeing the trailer I can actually see Christopher Reeve in Brandon Routh. I think Kevin Spacey is one of the most brilliant actors of our time and to see him play Lex Luthor is most excellent (a choice piece of casting second only to Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor)

So, I know where I will be on June 30, 2006.

Q

Monday, May 29, 2006

Senate Reform

Word has it that Senate reform is going to be on the agenda this week.

I have my own thoughts on Senate reform and since I have a blog, I will share them with you.

I believe that the Senate should be elected. I think appointments to the Senate are completely and totally unreasonable, especially since there is no recall provision.

I believe that the Senate should be effective. i.e. It should have a mandate. If it is elected, then maybe the Senate should/could approve Prime Ministerial appointments to key positions in government and crown corporations. Also, I don't think the Senate should be able to introduce legislatation. I think its "sober second thought" could continue, but on a time related basis. No legislation should be held up by the Senate, but ammendments could be proposed.

I believe that the Senate should be equal. i.e. equal number of Senators per province. I know this is not a commonly supported position, but the House of Commons already provides representation by population.

I think the Senate should provide 10 seats per province. I think that the seats should be assigned on a proportional basis per province based on the percentage each party won during the general election. Each leader would be able to appoint (from a list or other such mechanism) his/her choice for Senate seats. The Senate lists would be public prior to the election and the term of each Senator would be until the next general election.

Obviously this plan would need to be worked out in better detail to allocate percentage vote splits and that sort of thing, but you get the gist.

The Senate would then become a house of the provinces. Its mandate to be effective would ensure that all provinces are represented equally at some level of the federation.

My $Q.02 in case anyone asked.

Q

PS I recogonize that the potential for my name to be placed anywhere on those lists is pretty limited :-)

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Politics as Usual

Well??? No Duhhhhhh!

Is there anyone out there who doubts the PM would love to go to the polls now when we are at 43% and the liberals are leaderless and at 25%?

However, if it is going to happen, the PM must be able to show it was the opposition who forced the election. And since the Afghan vote was not a confidence motion, there was never any chance the government would fall over it.

Since most of our programs are budget items and the Bloq is supporting our budget, chances of any real confidence motions are pretty low.

Q

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

For all you smokers out there...

... hopefully this is a bit of a wake up call. My condolences to Heather Crowe's family and friends.

I do not smoke. I have very little sympathy for those who do.

I understand it is addictive and many of the previous generation got hooked before "all the evidence was in".

However, I think that anyone who is smoking today, who started smoking in the last five years, is an idiot. Anyone who has started smoking since the restrictions have been imposed at bars and restaurants, and now with the total ban going into effect in Ontario, you are an idiot.

I do applaud the efforts of McGuinty et al to implement the comprehensive smoking ban. It is a good first step.

However, I don't know why the police do not bother to crack down on kids smoking. I drive by the local high schools and after school and on breaks there are at least 15-20 kids who are smoking underage. If 15-20 teenagers were sitting there drinking booze, something would be done.

The real way to end smoking is to raise the age limit for cigarette purchases by one year each year.

I realize that this rant is contrary to my otherwise libertarian fews. But smoking doesn't just harm the smoker (see the link above).

I wonder if our Kyoto Targets could be met just by banning the sales of cigarettes.

Q

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Our man John...

Evidently years of cultivating your contacts at the Toronto Star results in this.

Mr. Tory is going to be walking a fine line as he tries to keep rabid, right-wing conservatives (you know, the kind that live outside Toronto) and all his liberal friends at the Star in line for the next election.

Since WK has set his sites on John, it will be an interesting campaign.

Evidently it will take more of a campaign platform than just:

"McGuinty: Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire"

to unseat Dalton McFly and his Fiberals. However, given that everyone is saying how much they admire Mr. Harper for doing what he said he would do, perhaps the voters will punish the big fat liars in 2007. I remain cautiously optimistic.

Q

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Q! Talk Daily: Today's Foxtrot

In case any of you were wondering, the morse code tap dance played by Jason in today's Foxtrot cartoon, spells out:

Someday I will rule you all!

It is a theme that resonates with me personally :-)

Q

Friday, May 19, 2006

Taking an extended long weekend

So nothing new until Tuesday.

Have a great Victoria Day Weekend.

God Save the Queen.


Q

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Capt Nichola Goddard.

This was going to happen eventually.

I join with everyone else in expressing my deepest sympathies for the family of Captain Nichola Goddard. The death of any soldier is tragic. The fact that she was serving our country in the interest of preserving peace is of minor consolation to her family.

It is a fact that if we are going to allow women to serve in our military in fighting capacities, there will be female soldiers killed in action.

It is my hope that the death of Capt Nichola Goddard isn't a) used to justify a withdrawal from Afghanistan or b) used to reopen the debate on women serving in our military.

As with all our soldiers killed in action, wherever it may be, my thoughts and prayers are with her family.

Q

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

A little late today...

...as I have decided to return to working out at my gym in the morning.

This has nothing to do with politics but may be directly related to the amount of time I spend in front of the computer reading blogs and news. Actually it has a little to do with politics as I was trying to make up some literature for my campaign and realized how much my face had changed in the three years since my last flyer. I would like to think it is the haircut, but I am honest enough to realize it is the extra 25 lbs I have put on since 2003.

I have been a member of a local gym in town which has an excellent facility (everything except a pool/hot tub, but they are coming) and I have been making my monthly donation for the past year and a half. It is a donation because until recently I have not been recieving any goods or service for my monthly fee.

So, this past weekend, as I was getting winded running after my daughter, I decided that it was time to do something about it.

I was going quite regularly until the birth of our second child (a year ago February). At that point, all my available time seemed to collapse into a short 10 minute period which arrived between 12:40 and 12:50 am each day.

Over the past year, I have made several starts and stops back at the gym, but I have not been able to do so with any regularity.

So, this past Monday, I decided I would get up 45 minutes earlier and come hell or high water I would go to the gym.

Monday arrived, my alarm went off at 5:15 am and by about 5:45 I was headed to the gym. Now I know there are lots of programs out there, but at this point I just need to eat less and exercise more. So I began with a 45 minute walk/jog.

Yesterday arrived, my alarm went off at 5:30 am (because I realized I didn't need a full 1/2 hour to get ready if I packed everything the night before) and headed out. Was able to manage a good 30 minute jog and was feeling pretty good about myself (maybe I wasn't so out of shape as I beleived).

Today, my alarm went off at 5:30 am and I hit snooze and hit snooze and hit snooze to the point where my wife said if you don't get out of bed I will kill you. (we have that sort of crazy kinda luv), so I headed out at 6:45 and didn't get on the treadmill until 7:00ish. I then just set the machine and walked and walked while watching CNN.

So this has nothing to do with politics, but my reason for being late with a post today.

In the future, I will try to figure out how to post with my blackberry like Double B was able to and then I can post while sitting on the bike.

Q

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Long Gun Registry?

Looks like it is about to become a thing of the past.

The problem I have had with the registry is that no one has actually explained to me the benefit of the registry. If someone who supports it could please explain how the gun registry is gun contol, or specifically how it reduced crimes, I would be happy to support it.

However, having a list of those who have long guns has not prevented any crimes from those with hand guns (which have been restricted and registered for upteen-years) and those who choose to acquire weapons illegally.

I, like many other conservatives, believe the original gun registry concept was nothing but a cash grab. As it was implemented, it became nothing more than a boondoggle.

I am not a big supporter of guns. I don't see the need for one in urban settings (although here in town we have a huge influx of Coyotes, so maybe I may have to rethink that :-) ) I have owned rifles in the past when I participated in biathalons (but I have no desire to have a gun in the house with kids around), so I am not totally anti-gun.

But calling the gun registry "gun control" as we allowed the Liberals to do, is a farce.

Now maybe the money can be better used like, oh I don't know, hiring more cops to go after those with illegal handguns, not legal long guns.

Q

UPDATE:

In the Globe story on the same subject, the police chief said that police used the registry prior to serving warrants to see if there is a gun in the house.

Does it not seem ridiculous for police to assume otherwise?

If you are serving a warrant, then hopefully all police officers go with the idea in mind that the offender may be armed?

Our only hope is that the criminals who haven't registered their guns are kind enough to announce they are armed to our police when they arrive.

As for the Firearms being removed from the mentally ill, would it not make more sense to keep tabs on those who have been issued Firearms Acquistion Certificates, rather than the individual weapons. Certainly easier and cheaper, one would think.

Q

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Four Year Municipal Terms

The McGuinty Government passed legislation last Thursday as part of the budget bill extending municpal terms from 3 years to 4 years.

Some people are up in arms about this change. I am relatively indifferent. And I say this as a municipal politician. I am just ending my first three year term, and I had held off filing my papers for reelection until this measure was decided. A four year term is a commitment I was not certain I was ready to make.

The AMO surveyed municipal politicians to ask what we would like and lobbied the municipal affairs minister for the change.

We assumed such a change would be open to legislative debate and a seperate bill, or part of the municipal act changes. Sneaking it in with the budget bill was not overally appropriate.

Anyways, the decision is made and I will be running again. I will be filing my papers today.

Wish me luck

Q

Friday, May 12, 2006

Last PC PM?!?

I actually enjoy reading Chantel H├ębert over at the Star. But I hate it when people get their facts wrong.

In today's column, which provides so interesting parallels between Bouchard and Manning, she says that together they ensured Brian Mulroney was the last Progressive Conservative PM ever.

Poor, poor, poor Kim Campbell. When the political hacks who comment on parliament for a living can't even remember you, then how can we expect anyone else to?

Oh well.

Happy Friday Everyone!

Q

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Why Kyoto is a farce...

The press is maligning the Conservative government for not funding Kyoto. The public are expressing concern about environmental issues.

The two are NOT related.

The Kyoto Accord has been sold to us as an environmental accord to clean up our environment. It is not. It is an agreement to reduce greenhouse gasses. Is that a good thing? Probably. But greenhouse gasses are not the major environmental problem facing Canadians.

Greenhouse gasses are defined as Carbon Dioxide and Water Vapour. The increase in emmissions of these gasses are causing global warming. These gasses are NOT responsible for smog days.

Smog is generated by particulate and volatile organic compounds and about another million noxious and in some cases poisonous gasses.

THESE NEED TO BE REDUCED THROUGH SOUND ENVIRONMENTAL PRACTICES.

Kyoto doesn't address them.

The public has been led to believe that by following Kyoto we will get cleaner air. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I, for one, welcome global warming as I hate winter here in Canada. I enjoy the heat and the sun and hot, sweltering days.

If you want to support Kyoto, stop breathing!!!!

Q

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Whine on, my friends, whine on.

I couldn't have said this better myself.

Warren et al can't understand why Prime Minister Harper would openly endorse John Tory as the next premier of Ontario.

Could it be that Stephen Harper is a man of integrity committed to full filling his campaign promises, where McGuinty and his Fiberals are just a big bunch of dirty rotten liars?

I don't know, but it could be.

As for endorsing John Tory at a partisan event, it is brilliant. It signals to Ontario Conservatives that Stephen Harper isn't so scary and is one of us, and it signals to the electorate that Stephen wants to work with a moderate, red-tory who is also a man of his word.

If the liberals can't handle that, then whine on, my friends, whine on. It will only help our chances next time (both federally and provincially).

Q

PS It is also a possibility that Stephen Harper will be facing his election before John Tory, so keeping those troops lined up is not an un-smart thing to do.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Fiscal Imbalance?

I am trying to understand Ontario's complaint about the fiscal imbalance. As I understand it, Ontario sends 23Billion more in taxes to Ottawa than it receives in services from Ottawa.

I am not sure if giving more money to Ontario is the right way to correct this.

In my mind, the right thing to do is to have the federal government concentrate on areas of its jurisdiction, determine how much revenue it needs to do the things it is supposed to, set the tax rates and duties accordingly and then deliver the federal services we need. If some of those services go to other provinces, then we have to trust our federal representatives that this is the most effective way to deliver the federal obligations.

The problem with defining the benefits of federalism as "dollars in (to the federal govt) from province A vs dollars out (from the federales) to province A" is that it would suggest that the federal requirements of each province are identical.

I do understand the Ontario government's concern when put in the context of federal intrusions into provincial jurisdictions. Then you can make an argument for more money since the feds are spending money on these areas outside their jurisdiction and if it is not just for getting votes, then everyone should get the same amount (per person). However, if I was making this argument to the current government, I would be very careful, because I am tempted to beleive the Mr. Harper's response will be more along the lines of "you are right, the feds shouldn't even be funding this or that" and pull out all together, leaving everyone scrambling for alternatives.

The real politic being what it is, this is unlikely to happen. My guess is that an agreement for more money and less federal intrusion will be the result of the meeting in the fall with one caveat, and Ontario will get more, but still be short-changed. And when Mr. McGuinty cries foul, the response will simply be "See, the rest of Canada, Ontario is never satisfied, it is never enough."

$Q.02

Friday, May 05, 2006

Conspiracy buffs unite.

This has nothing to do with politics in our country, but my man with a plan, Dan sent me this link.

Now I am not a huge conspiracy nut or anything like that, but doesn't this look interesting?

Unfortunately with the internet, it is easy enough to fake stuff like this to make up conspiracies, but I haven't been able to find anything (video or pictures) to dispute this.

I was at home on September 11th. My wife and I had flown home from Bermuda via Philly the night before and because of delays at Philladelphia, we did not arrive back in Buffalo until gone midnite and home asleep until after 2. I decided to take the day off and called in to let them know, when my secretary told me a plane had hit the world trade centre, I should turn on the news. I expected to see a small plane or commuter jet had hit the trade centre.

Needless to say, I stuck by the television for the next 8 hours. I was watching when the second jet hit in NY. I had friends who worked in the WTC complex and I was in disbelief. I am happy to say both made it out.

However, I don't remember seeing any of the footage regarding the pentagon crash. Now it has been 5 years, but I remember the wtc video so vividly, I can't beleive I would forget anything on the Pentagon crash.

Oh, well. Maybe we will find out what really happened about the time we find out who had JFK shot, or where they faked the moon landing, or where the alien bodies are....

Q

PS I realize that there are real issues affecting us out there, but its Friday and I just don't care.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Good Budget

I, for the most part, am happy.

I would have preferred for the income tax rates to stayed the same, but I understand the tinkering that was needed at the lowest rate. The increase to the personal exemption will mitigate the pain for most of us.

At 35,000 the .25% increase means we have to pay an additional $60 bucks or so, but since I spend more than a six thousand a year on GST-able items, chances are I will get that back with the gst cut. (for the mathematically challenged = 35,000 less 8000 exemption = 23,000 taxed at lowest rate - .25% of $23,000 = 57.50 where as 6000 * 1% gst savings = $60)

The rest is pretty good, but I have some general problems with all the tax deductions. We are trying to encourage certain lifestyles through tax credits. Is this any different from the Liberals trying to encourage certain lifestyles by throwing tax dollars at them? I know my conservative brethren will say that you have a choice to use those credits, but I would prefer no coercive spending and no coercive tax credits and just an overall reduction in the tax rate. Let me spend those dollars as I see fit.

Now I am off to Calgary on business, so no posts until Friday.

Q

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

ECE vs DAYCARE

I am a big supporter of Early Childhood Education. But I don't believe it should be confused with DayCare.

I think that there should be resources available for education children early in life and those resources should be equally available to those who choose to stay at home with their children as those who need to use day care to make a living.

My wife and I make every effort to use what little we know to provide a sound basis for our kids education. We are also lucky enough to have two resource centres in our small town that offer a coop style resource centre for early childhood education. But neither of these two resource centres is for day care. The parents have to help with the maintenance in order to belong and we have access to a early childhood educator.

Nothing in the Liberal day care plan would enhance these centres or benefit those who choose to stay at home with their kids.

I understand that the Childcare Allowance the Tories are going to propose today is not a daycare alternative. However, it will go a long way in providing a little relief to those of us who are punished for choosing to stay home and raise our kids.

Q

Monday, May 01, 2006

Budget Eve

Tomorrow is the day.

After tomorrow, we will know whether we have elected a government we can count on, a government we can believe in, a government who will keep its promises.

As my own personal litmus test, I expect no less than the following to ensure my continued support of the current Prime Minister and his government:

1) GST Cut

This is an absolute no-brainer. Failure to implement this would mean certain death. While there are those who argue it is not good economics (and this may be true) the truth is that if this one thing is not implemented then no one will trust anything politcians say from this point on.

2) Spending reductions

The Conservatives in opposition have railed about the unnecessary largesse of the previous Liberal government. There was no problem too big or too small that the Liberals were not prepared to spend billions of dollars over ten years (provided the provinces and municipalities put up their share). Modest savings are there to be found and failure to do so would mean it is just business as usual and we are being bought with our own money.

3) Child Care Allowance

Whatever you want to call it and whether you believe it will make any difference, it was a promise the governmnet made. (See point 1). There are many, many people who do not have access to subsidized day-care, who use relatives and friends as sitters, who stay at home and take the hit because they would rather raise their kids than have someone else do it. These people all deserve a little help and this sort of universal credit for all is sorely needed.

4) Income Tax Cuts

Regardless of what some may say, the last minute reductions by the Liberals was a crass and obvious attempt to buy votes. The cuts were implemented (if you don't believe me, look at Schedule 1 of your T1 General return). To increase them again would be short sighted. Income Tax reductions ARE good economics. However, I would rather see the total tax burden simplified rather than reduced. The number of deductions/reductions/credits and exemptions merely means that most of us don't see much in the way of tax relief and we are subsidizing other people's life choices in the name of good tax planning.

5) Military Spending

See last week's post about honouring our soldiers. The crap our military has had to put up with over the past 20 years is enough to make one weep. We cannot expect to be peacekeepers, let alone peacemakers, when we cannot transport our own troops, when we cannot protect our own troops and when we cannot arm our troops properly.

There will be other fluff and irrelevant issues in the budget, and I am sure the left will howl about no funding for Kyoto (I will post my opinion of why Kyoto is bad public policy later), but at the end of the day, if PM Harper et al can meet the above, they will have my continued support.

Q

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