Friday, June 30, 2006
A good start...
Municipal property assessment is required to make sure there is a balance between new houses and old houses. The problem was that it was too arbitrary and not incredibly fair (more fair than previous systems).
The fact that it was annual was an issue.
Well, since councils will be elected for four year terms, I think re-assessments should be done once every four years. That gives the assessors lots of time to get it right and lots of time to appeal. From a council point of view, we will know what assessment we have to work from for budgeting purposes.
Market value is the best we have right now to keep the system balanced. Ultimately, I would like to see residential property taxes eliminated and replaced with a better tax system. It would probably have to be linked to the income tax system and allocated proportionately on a per capita basis. But I don't think any politician has the courage to change this (except me and it will be a while before I am premier :-)
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
I think this is a decent article.
Hope to get back in the swing of things tomorrow.
Monday, June 26, 2006
GST to fix fiscal imbalance...
The entire equalization/transfer system has to be scrapped and start again from scratch. Too many side deals and tinkering over the years has left a system that is impossible to understand let alone describe.
McGuinty has been successful in making people think we write a cheque from Ontario that is handed out to other provinces. But the fiscal imbalance is different from equilization and not everyone gets that.
I was away this weekend with a bunch of my friends (using the term really loosely here) but they are generally well-educated, successful non-partisan guys who actually believe we are cutting a cheque from the provincial treasury and sending $23 billion to Ottawa.
It took a lot of arguing and a lot of beer before I was able to explain the whole concept. For the most part, they were not offended by the fiscal imbalance as they understood that this is what the Federal government was for. In any federation, where there is a central government, it would be almost impossible to ensure every province recieved the same amount back as they contributed.
Thursday, June 22, 2006
"Using "messengers whom we're not allowed to reply to" doesn't solve the Democrats' biggest problem: their message."
It started me thinking about Liberal Policy Platforms over the past 15 years or so, and it seems to me much of what the Liberals write about, they don't actually implement. They make their points in the election campaign by slamming the conservative or socialist policy (depending on which votes they are trying to win) and then implementing those policies that will get them re-elected.
WK's post from yesterday says pretty much the same thing. Liberal policy is to win and when they are faced with a Conservative who has pretty much the same plan, they are in trouble.
That got me thinking about our policy process. I realize that there are lots (like me) who are disappointed and frustrated from time to time by the decisions Mr. Harper is making. But every now and then I have to give my head a shake and remember we are in a minority situation and compromises must be made.
With that said, we (as conservatives) aren't allowed to muse too loudly about what we would do if we were a majority because a) it will scare off voters who like conservatives but only when there is no chance of them banning abortion or implementing capital punishment and b) we are just as arrogant as the Liberals who beleive majority governments are a god-given right.
Finally, there is a comment in Mark's opening paragraph about how the liberal left believe that belief in a higher power is unenlightened. My own views about organized religion not-with-standing, I do believe in some higher power. I haven't personally defined this power and I have (on more than one occasion) prayed to whatever it might be ("thank God for unanswered prayers"), but at the end of the day, if you are not prepared to open your mind up to all the possibilities of the universe, what is the point?
Q (feeling just a little philisophical before a weekend of drunken debauchery with the boys :-)
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
Peace be with you...
One of my favourite criticisms of organized religion and a raging example of, well, road rage takes place each and every morning at my local church.
As a point of full disclosure, I only go to church cuz my wife makes me. It was one of the conditions of getting her father's blessing that our kids would be raised Catholic. I signed on thinking that if the wife and kids headed down to church every Sunday, I could sleep in. Turns out I was actually expected to go. (D'oh!)
Anyways, this past Sunday was a perfect example of why I think some who attend church are a bit hypocritical. As we get ready to leave (and keep in mind we are usually among the last out and we have to strap two kids into their car seats), everyone else decides that the lines and arrows directing traffic to circle around the parking lot no longer apply to them.
It took us almost 10 minutes to get out of parking lot. 10 minutes. Keep in mind it takes two point five minutes to drive from one end of my town to the other.
It is difficult to keep a straight face when the people I have just shared the "peace of God" with are yelling at others while still in the parking lot.
Somewhere, I think, my God is smiling because he has a sick sense of humour.
PS Belated Happy Father's Day to everyone to whom it applies. Needed a little down time this past weekend and ended up in Nova Scotia yesterday. Busy day all in all.
Thursday, June 15, 2006
Men need not apply?
Not because I don't want to see more women in politics, but because of this simple question:
How can you guarantee more women in politics if you are committed to a fair and open nomination process?
McGuinty has it easy. He can just appoint his candidates.
Is John Tory looking for the same authority? Do we need to change our Party Constitution to give him that power? Isn't this a set back for all the women in the legislature (hi Christine Elliot) who fought a nomination battle against a man and won?
UPDATE: Evidently Christine didn't have to go through a nomination process. See the comments section. But does being acclaimed mean the same as being appointed.
UPDATED: Evidently Ian McNeil did run for the nomination but withdrew prior to the nomination meeting. Interested to know if he actually filed nomination intentions with the party?
UPDATEDER: In fact, the original shout out to Christine in my original post is irrelevant. The point is: How is the party going to ensure more women are nominated while respecting the integrity of the nomination process?
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
Always good to hear...
I am sure Warren will have the appropriate spin to make this seem meaningless.
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
Gay Marriage, again and again and again...
After my post earlier, there seemed to be some confusion on where I stand on this issue.
I think I should be entirely clear: I don't care.
If two people want to stand up and tell the world they love each other, in a world full of people who hate for no other reason than to hate, who am I to tell them not to.
Marriage means so many different things to so many different people that allowing two people of the same sex to express their love in that way does not diminish my marriage and the love I have for my wife and children in the least. In actuality, it enhances it.
Those who use the bible as an argument against gay marriage or those who call themselves Christians need to pull that dusty book off the shelf or out of the drawer and reaquaint themselves with Christ's teachings.
First and foremost "Do unto others as you would have done unto you." i.e. live and let live.
There are those who call themselves men/women of God who profess to speak for the Almighty. I hope when they come face to face with the big Guy (or Gal) that they get bitch slapped across the face.
Isn't it the height of hubris to believe that any man/woman can speak for God?
US Air Travel...
...Is actually quite civilized. I am sitting at Buffalo Airport awaiting my flight to Chicago (unrelated to my crane needs of yesterday, which were resolved easily enough).
I am litening to a fello traveller who is complaining about security measures, how invasive they are and how much extra time he has to allow to accomodate.
I am not overly sympathetic. I would rather wait an additional 5 minutes if it means a little extra scrutiny.
I laugh that I have to take off my belt, but it goes to show my gym efforts have not been as effective as I would have liked as my pants did not fall down.
Taking off my shoes is just a health hazzard to my fellow travellers.
However, all in all, I find air travel within the US super easy and I think we take it all for granted.
I just finished reading a book called Warday, which uses a pseudo-documentary/journalistic review of the United States five years after a limited nuclear exchange between the USSR and the states. It was written in 1984, takes place in 1993 and talks about the one day war in October 1988. Frighteningly realistic and a good read. The one thing that is emphasised is the lack of air travel and how that effects the overall economy from recovering.
Monday, June 12, 2006
Sorry, I am brief today. Real world catching up with me.
Need to rent a crane fast (literally).
Friday, June 09, 2006
So much for the Pentavirate...
5 marks for anyone who can identify all five members of the Pentavirate and 1 bonus mark for the name of the movie :-)
Have a great weekend.
I know that Stephen Harper made the decision after the merger to protect incumbents from challenges. And I think that was the right thing to do, given the fragile state of the new party.
However, I am hoping this ban is lifted in time for the next election so that our Conservative brethren out west can at least have the opportunity to challenge Mr. Anders.
If he wins the nomination fair and square, so be it and all the best to him. But this sort of thing is an embarrassment.
How can we critize the Liberals for this and this and all the other stuff, when one of our own members are acting like this.
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
Happy Devil's Day
UPDATE: I didn't even know this was coming out. So much for being a Conservative Hipster.
Why I shouldn't be a politician (a confession of sorts..)
I have prided myself on not taking the ramblings and rantings of delegations to our council personally. I smile to myself and let the people have their ten minutes at the mike and let them get it off their chest. Usually they are content to let it go after lambasting council for various wrongs (real and percieved) perpertrated on them by the council of the day.
Last night was different. A person who had successfully defeated a town by-law at the OMB came council to "clarify" some of the issues. (in actual fact, he came to gloat)
He began, as expected, claiming that some councillors, at the previous meeting where the OMB decision was discussed, had made erroneous and misleading statements. At this point I sat back because I knew I was not one of those. In fact, I had been supportive of this person's position since the beginning, had spent hours on end with him and his wife discussing options and compromises and generally explaining the process they would have to follow if they were unhappy with the town's position.
It was then that I was blindsided as the only one of nine this person decided to jump on. My comment at the May 15 meeting was taken out of context and pointed to as an example of erroneous and misleading.
At this point I lost it, I snapped, head faked him with a copy of the Official Plan, one-two to the solar plexus, and he dropped like a sack of shredded by-laws....
...no that was just me fantasizing.
I did, however, take him to task for statements made, the impact of the OMB decision in limiting future council directions and the fact that while he may claim he was not "anti-daycare" (which is what the issue was all about), the argument and precedent he set at the OMB meant that no future daycare would be allowed in residential areas within our town.
Afterwards, I honestly debated with myself whether I should be in this racket or not. It has dawned on me that I do not suffer fools well enough to be a "polished" politician. I do, however, get things done. And maybe that will be the measure of my success (or failures).
So, for the time being, my name remains on the ballot, but I can think of at least one person who will be seriously considering challenging me.
"Bring It On!!!!"
Sunday, June 04, 2006
Gay Marriage redux...
The motion will read something along the line of "should we revisit the debate."
This is a brilliant move by Harper. The motion will be defeated by BQ, NDP and Liberals and Stephen Harper will not have to deal with the issue. He will be able to mollify his far right critics by saying "listen, I have always said this should be decided by a vote in parliament and not by activist judges. Parliament has spoken and as a democrat, I respect the results."
I am not opposed to gay marriage. I am completely indifferent. I do not believe that two gay people getting married diminishes my marriage and relationship in any way.
Friday, June 02, 2006
Federal funding to municipalities...
I am not overly thrilled with the idea of giving municiaplities the power to enact income or sales taxes.
However, I would like to offer this humble solution:
Let municipalities continue to charge GST for the goods and services they provide (many fees that municipalities charge have GST included) and then let them keep the money.
Currently municipalities don't have to pay GST anymore. Why not let them keep the GST they collect.
I don't know how much big cities collect in GST, but a back of the envelop calculation for our small town with $500,000 in parks and rec revenues, the GST would mean another 35,000 (30,000 after July 1st). In our municipality that would represent a 0.5% reduction in our total levy. And we are just a small town of 20,000.
If you think this is a good idea, forward it on to someone with some pull in the Harper government.
Thursday, June 01, 2006
Fixed Election Dates
Does anyone know what would happen if under the proposed law a minority government lost a vote of confidence, say 4 months before October, 2009 and a majority resulted?
Would we then go to the polls two months later, or is there a provision if the election is held in the Calendar year, the next election would be the following four year cycle.
Young Offenders Act
I know a bill was introduced to raise the age of consent to 16. Doesn't it make sense to lower the YOA to 16? (if this has been done and I have just not been paying attention, let me know).
It seems to me that if you are old enough to make decisions about your own body, surely you are old enough to know the consequences of your actions.
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