Contrary to popular belief...

I woke up this morning and walked down the hall of my apartment complex as usual. Glancing down to floor as I walked by a door I saw the headline "Tory attack ads target Dion".

Now we aren't in election mode in Canada. No one seems to want an election lately. Least of all the Liberals... Just what is there debt level today?

The crippling effect of limiting political donations to individuals and not corporations has no doubt been the greatest give Jean Chretien ever gave to the Conservative Party... Forgetting Joe Volpe type loopholes of course.

Yet for some strange reason the powers that be in the Party of Sir John, feel it appropriate to launch a preemptive strike against their new Liberal foe Chef Stephane Dion.

Dion's reaction was to protest that old protest of those attacked in politics: "..it will backfire..."

So it seemed to backfire when Liberal strategist Warren Kinsella made fun of Stockwell Day's faith on national television. It also seemed to backfire when claims of bigotry and holocaust denial were readily made... Claims of Two-tier healthcare also seemed to backfire... And if horses were wishes we'd all be eating steak - or so the saying goes. But I guess not all those attacks were done in TV ads per say.

But it makes the point - Attacks, and Attack ads work. No one wants to admit it. But they do. Otherwise political campaigns wouldn't use them. Frequently however campaigns either go to far, or they get chicken after they release them. That can create damage. As much as some will say the "factual" component of the ad matters I seriously doubt it.

People don't question. They don't doubt. They accept everything they see - unless it conflicts with their personal world view or affects their cushy lifestyles. In that latter case they'll doubt that the sky is blue if it inconveniences them.

Another factor often repeated as important for negative ads to work is time. Time is everything. They need time to sink in. Otherwise all they produce is negative press about yourself being neg.

And that's the kicker here. There's no election in sight. These ads have all the time in the world to sink in.

Another thing we're all forgetting here is that there are really two classes of attacks in politics: attacks on policy and attacks on the individual. They are two very different enchiladas.

The Mike Harris Tories were legendary for short 30 second ads they aired with simple "T-Bar" charts. Here's where the Tories stand on Taxes on the left. Here's where the Liberals stand. Very simple. Very succinct. Very policy based.

And that's fair game as far as I'm concerned. Stuff like making fun of someone's faith, alleging holocaust denial, or calling someone a "reptilian kitten eater from hell" aint.

On that score the Tory ads win in droves:"The three 30-second ads portray Dion as ineffective on the environment, power-hungry and indecisive. They rely heavily on excerpts from public debates during the recent Liberal leadership contest."

Relying on quotes straight from the clowns own mouths is pretty hard to find fault with. If Liberal leadership contenders found these attacks to be worthy of debate during their own leadership race, just what makes it wrong for Tories to bring them up?

Nada. The media can suck all it wants to. There's nothing wrong with these ads... U
nless there's some sort of weirdness in them that the media hasn't reported thus far...

Arar's much deserved apology...

Maher Arar, the man who was deported to Syria by the US only to be tortured for reasons still unknown, has finally been granted an apology. His claim with the Canadian state has been settled for a paltry ten mill.

Personally I think that Mr Arar's next move should be to sue the US government. That's the only way he can clear his name - especially with the US still wanting to keep him on their watch list.

What has Mr Arar done wrong? What is the evidence against him? Those questions unless answered continue to put a cloud over him. No man should have to live with the burden he now faces... He's an "alledged" terrorist. Without proof or an articulated reason he is branded forever now.

What the US does in response to this is entirely up to them. I prefer to deal with the issue of Canadian culpability surrounding this case rather than tell another capable democracy what to do.

Some Liberals are shamelessly trying to pin blame solely on the Conservative Party, the Prime Minister, and Stockwell Day for Mr Arar's difficulties.

Why? Because the Conservatives used leaks they had received on the Arar case to attack the government at the time for being "soft on terror."

Leaving the question aside as to whether the government at the time was "soft on terror" (which it most certainly was) the question is does Stockwell Day hold some culpability over this? In opinion yes he does.

But politics favors those that are like elephants with long memories. I distinctly remember before the conclusion of the trial Stockwell Day making the comment to the effect that he, and perhaps other opposition MP's, had been briefed on the Arar affair and had been assured by the Liberal government that the RCMP had good information that Arar was indeed a threat.

So indeed Stockwell Day is guilty of something: trusting Liberals. It was the Liberals who were deceived on this issue. Stockwell Day and the party at the time should have been more cautious in using Arar as centerpiece of the attack on what they believed was a government "soft on terror."

At the end of the day Mr Arar and other Canadians find themselves still asking the same question: why?

Until that gets answered this case is nowhere near over.

Risk Adverse Society...

""I would support any helmets, any type of safety equipment that could be put on. I think that it's something we need to look into and legislate...You may see in the next little while I may just bring it to the table." - Sandra Yeung Racco, a city councillor in Vaughan.

This is what you would call "attack of the busybodies."

We all love to meddle. Meddling is one of our favourite pastimes as a nation. We can't just leave people alone. We can't just let people experience the consequences of their actions.

Instead we prefer to treat everyone as stupid. And no doubt there are many people that are just that - stupid. But if you want to assume everyone is stupid... Well... That's what I call "arrogance."

Sorry, but I don't feel that the government needs to get involved in our lives when it comes to tobogganing. I think we're all smart enough to figure out how to slide down a hill without killing ourselves...
"Tobogganing caused 502 head injuries in Ontario between 2004 and 2005, according to the Ontario Injury Prevention Resource Centre."

That's an average of 251 head injuries per year. Assuming all of those were fatalities, that works out to a fatality rate of about 1 in 46,000. 13,000 deaths happened in 2000 due to injuries. That accounts for 6% of the deaths in 2000. Assuming that remained nearly the same in 2004 and 2005, that would mean that fatalities due to tobaggon head injuries accounts for 2% of all injury related deaths. That works out to a probable 0.2% of all deaths in Canada.

That's hardly a number that screams "we have a problem."

I don't want to belittle the children that have died in tobogganing accidents. But do we really need more laws to tell people something that we should all be smart enough already to do? Maybe people don't know that their kids should be wearing helmets while tobogganing. Spreading the word is definitely in order.

But all I see here is another attempt to meddle in our lives. We don't always need to wear helmets I'm sure. And it should be left to our own discretion to make those decisions. Anything less negates the individual, and eliminates personal responsibility.

Negating the individual by passing legislation on tobogganing helmets would only further enforce the risk adverse society we already live in. Sometimes risks need to be taken. That's life. We take risks everyday we walk out of our homes and into the world. We can't escape it. We can't deny it.

Dion copying... Harris?

Just days after Stephane Dion accused Harper of Liberal copying, the man he's put in charge of writing an election platform for him is doing some Harper copying.

Oh but it gets better:
"One MP said that Mr. Rae's comments suggested that he and Liberal Leader St├ęphane Dion will build an election platform that will emulate that of former Ontario Tory premier Mike Harris, who came up with a so-called Common Sense Revolution."


Rae copying Harris? Now things truly have gone full circle.

When some things don't belong...

In a speech that would make even the most modest of Tories blush with glee, after a year in power that saw the Conservatives meet what was their two main priorities in a minority government, the Globe and Mail offers this bit of cynicism:
"There was no mention of health care in Mr. Harper's 15-minute, address. Obtaining a wait-times guarantee from the provinces had been one of his government's top five priorities but seems to have fallen down the list."

Does that sound peachy? Kinda like a Liberal could have written it - but let's not insult people here.

It's very strange because I remember Harper listing two main priorities that would be the primary focus of his government in interviews during the last election. The GST cut and the Federal Accountability Act were mentioned more than once if I'm not mistaken. The greater 5 were portrayed as part of the bigger package likely to stretch over his entire mandate.

But it seems all it takes for the Globe is for one priority to be missed in a minority government that's in it's first year for negativity to be ripe...

I wonder where the globe was with comments like this one during Paul Martin's regime? That government managed to accomplish bupkis by this point in their mandate...

Non-Winnable Issues...

"We must have done something right because Mr. Harper is now frantically trying to imitate us..." Liberal Leader Stephane Dion.

As Mr Dion flatters himself, we're left to consider the possibility that Mr Dion is right. Is Harper "frantically trying" to imitate the Liberal Party?

The short answer of it is yes. It's becoming obvious that Harper now believes that the environment is a non-winnable issue for the Tories much as he saw health care once upon a time.

The mantra was once "wherever the Liberals are so are we" when it came to health, and now it's the same when it comes to the environment.

Anyone worry though in all this political realism that Harper's displaying lately will lead to more bad than good? Having principles and standing by them is an underestimated strategy if you ask me. Telling the truth about what we can do to help the environment, instead of following along with the trend because we don't figure the truth will sell is not something that sits well with me.

An important note:

None of these measures that Harper is adopting does beans all for the environment if you ask me.

Some of these were Liberal policies a limited practical value. Throwing money at a problem doesn't tend to solve it.

The Liberal strategy of meeting the Kyoto accord targets was to run some commercials encouraging people to save energy and to get "carbon credits" for energy that we already exported to the US. And that's how a country is supposed to cut carbon emissions over a quarter by the end of the decade?

Now Harper's Kyoto strategy doesn't seem all that insane. Quite frankly it seems non-existent. Which I think is the saving grace of this strategy.

Harper must figure that we'll do whatever the Liberals promise on the environment, but we won't fool ourselves into changing our stance on Kyoto.

And maybe that's how Harper is thinking. The principle that is important here is that Kyoto is not achievable, but we'll do everything the Liberals do anyways just to prove it so...

That's unless the Tory position on the Kyoto accord will or has already changed...

Release the report already...

Dion's joined the bandwagon express to get Harper to release newly defected Tory MP Khan's report on the middle east.

At this point just what is holding the PMO up from releasing the darn thing? As rumors swirl, it can't possibly as bad as people are making it out to be.

We all know he spent $13,000 to make up the thing. And apparently Khan made a promise to make it public when he was done. Now the question "just what is the definition of a promise" to the Liberals leaves one to wonder if Khan promised anything such. Lacking any evidence otherwise I'm forced to trust the media (gulp!) and believe that he did make that promise.

Release already. Let's get it out in the open so we fight it, or diffuse what's quickly turning into a circus.

And if not that better communicate a message about why you aren't releasing the report. The PR vacuum on this affair is getting tiresome.

Rumors, and Rumors of Rumors

Peter MacKay dismissed the rumors today surrounding rumors of equalization and the governments plans on curing the non-defined "fiscal imbalance".

One would think that the first rule in curing something that no one can agree on the definition of, is to define it. Instead the rumor mill has decided to do it for us:
"It's clear what they are trying to do is buy Quebec votes with Western oil, and I think that is a very dangerous game to be playing. This is not the way that Confederation should work..."

"The Conservatives campaigned hard on saying they would remove natural resources from the equation. If this is the fact, that they are going to move forward with this, this is an absolute betrayal of what their election promise was." -Saskatchewan Finance Minister Andrew Thomson

Apparently a rumor of nefarious promise breaking is enough to qualify as a fact to Honorable Finance Minister of Saskatchewan. To him, and the rest of the media running with the rumor mill, the "fiscal imbalance" means to Harper's government a reform of the equalization program. They managed to find that out all by themselves in the absence of any ministerial statement, a speech, or even the mildest fart that says so.

Now in all truth this could be what they call a "trial balloon." The former Liberal governments of Martin and Chretien were infamous for making leaks to the press to gauge what the people's reaction would be to a particular policy. They would trial it in the media and see the response.

If that's what the Tories are doing, I think it's about as gutless as they come. They made a promise, and they should keep it. There is no debate. There should be no trial balloons. But considering that the government has come out on the record refuting these claims so quickly, it seems likely that this was something else.

The only other reasons to start a rumor like this is to distract people away from something else, or to tarnish someone's image.

If it's the first, what could that something be? It's a situation ripe with conspiracy theories with giant headed aliens and Tory two-tier health care.

What's this? More rumors on top of the rumors this time that Khan's report contradicted the PMO's views.

Quite probable because the "secret" report is... well... "secret."

Usually when something is secret any crackpot's theory is plausible. "Anonymous sources" don't even require a level of credibility whatsoever since they are "anonymous." "Secret reports" are great because we don't have a helluva clue what's in 'em. Yet still somehow we can figure out what's in them before hand.

These rumors of course could be proven to be true. That being said they could be proven wrong as well. Either way both the Tories and the Conservative party come away tarnished.

All these rumors make me wonder are there any facts anymore? Or is there just bias, innuendo, and truth gone relative?

Ratting Is Still Ratting

PLEASE NOTE: Frequently I screw up. I did so in the post below. I was under the impression that Persaud was himself also an MP. My apologies. The post still is valid for Khan though.

Let me be the first one to extend a warm welcome to Persaud.
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"Anyone can rat [change parties], but it takes a certain ingenuity to re-rat." - Sir Winston Churchill
"It is easy for an individual to move through those insensible gradations from left to right, but the act of crossing the Floor is one which requires serious attention. I am well informed on this matter for I have accomplished that difficult process, not only once, but twice."-Sir Winston Churchill
With the election of Stephane Dion, many Martin Liberals are jumping ship.

With a new leftist leader, the guard has changed. The balance of power has shifted and obviously some people don't feel so comfortable anymore.

And no doubt many of my fellow Tories will be pointing to the fact that Ol' Churchill himself not only defected once but twice in his political career. That being the evidence that many will offer that these defections could in fact be genuine and moral.

I wonder though if the loudest critic to that line of thinking would be Churchill himself. As he said, it's one thing to change political ideologies, it's quite another to change parties, and even more to cross the floor of the Commons in mid parliamentary session.

It isn't something that should be common, or entered into lightly.

If these new insta-Tories were really genuine I wonder why they didn't resign their seats the moment they started to seriously question their commitment to the Liberals?... What were they doing continuing being Liberals while they seriously considered joining the Tories?

Of course that's assuming that such a period existed to begin with. Bolts of lighting knocking sense into people is possible - just like conversions on the road to Damascus have a habit of happening.

There will be endless debates about whether this was a moral act. People will shout and scream. There will be small protests of less than a half a dozen Liberals that will somehow garnish the same attention that a crowd of hundred Tories would.

Let me sum up my opinion for you surrounding this: This was a WRONG.

I don't believe these MPs had pressing reasons to not do the honorable thing, resign their posts , and run in a bi-election. We are not at war. We are not in a state of crisis.

Tories in those ridings did not nominate these knuckleheads. They fought against them in general elections. I don't care what change of hearts these people had. Their future nominations should not be guaranteed. They should have to win the hearts and minds of local Tories just like anyone else would in those ridings.

Further, people elected these MPs as Liberals not as Tories. They've been cheated. The right thing to do would have been for Khan and Persaud to resign and run again in a bi-election after being dually nominated by local Tories.

Now we welcome to the fold people of questionable judgment, and questionable loyalties.

If I were Harper I wouldn't trust these idiots with a nickel of money or a shred of paper.

I'll give Lapierre credit on this one - at least he did the right thing. He resigned and didn't try to extend his stay unnaturally.

Winston Churchill may have crossed the floor twice, but it wasn't something he thought others should enter into lightly. Also when Churchill did switch parties, he was de-selected from by his own seat before crossing the floor the first time, and ran as an independent before becoming a Tory the second time he defected...

That's a far cry from what Khan and Persaud just did.

Day care oddities...

The CBC is producing talking points for the Liberal Party apparently:
"'We figure we'll reasonably create about 25,000 spaces a year,' Harper said then."

"A year later, no spaces have been created and the plan for more spaces hasn't been completed yet."

First of all by what metrics is the CBC claiming that no new day care spaces have been created? Parents have been getting their $1,200 cheques since July, so logic would seem to conclude that at least some of them would spend it on Child care.

The question is how many more children have been enrolled in child care across the country? It could very well be that over 25,000 more children have been enrolled in child care all across the country. I find it highly improbable that not a single extra child was enrolled into day care in this country since July.

All the CBC produces here is talk about how long waiting times are for access to childcare. Just what are they counting as "day care spaces?" Government run day care spaces? What about private day care?
"'We launched our business four years ago. And in the last four years, we've had over 300 companies that have signed up to be clients,' said Sopic, who was appointed to sit on a committee to advise the Harper government on how to implement its plan."

So private day care is growing, but somehow day care spaces aren't being created? Just what counts as a day care space anyways?

I chose the wrong profession...

Limo driver... Why didn't I ever think Limo driver instead of engineer?
"The Conservative cabinet minister in charge of helping the world's poor spent more than $4,000 for a fill-in chauffeur while her regular driver was off for 11 days, Sun Media has learned."

Now, let's all take a collective deep breath here.

Limo costs regularly can get up to $130 per hour to rent. The chauffeur in question worked for 124 hours over 11 days. That's an average of 11 hours per day. At a total cost of $4,000, that works out to an hourly rate of $32 per hour.

That's about the rental fee of a cheap luxury sedan.

So, the next question becomes just what do other minister's normally pay for limo's? Did previous Liberal ministers pay any less?... Somehow I doubt that.

My thinking is that this story is merely a ploy by the Liberals to generate some negative publicity out of freedom of information requests.

"Socialism or death.."

Where do I sign for the death camp? God help Venezuela.

iPod, iSchmod...

What's the latest innovation from Steve Jobs? Listen to this, a mobile phone that can actually play music... ummmm... Just like almost every other mobile phone out there?..
"The maker of the popular iPod portable music player will introduce a mobile phone capable of playing music..."

How downright spine tingling. All the mac masses bow to your golden calf.

Steve Job's brilliance has produced tech that can let you do what you already could do except now you can pay Mac to do it.

Yep those are some sherlock's working for Jobs I'll tell you that much...

But what's this? Their mobile is "different" they say.

How so? It "...will run on Apple's operating system and utilize a touch screen instead of the multiple buttons used on other mobile devices."

Because we all know how much people were just screaming for a touchscreen on a mobile phone. It's not like there aint enough things that could already go wrong on one of the darn things.

Now we need an extra piece of tech on it?... For what? People who can't be bothered to press push buttons?

And better yet, it will run on a Mac OS. Like we really were screaming for another monopoly on operating systems this time when it comes to cell phones.

The only hope for me came when I heard of "iTV." Watching downloaded video on your TV seamlessly is definitely some new tech that is on the cutting edge.
"Jobs said Apple TV will have 720 pixel high-definition video, a 40GB hard drive to hold up to 50 hours of video. Apple TV will also use 802.11n, the new wireless draft standard. The product will sell for $299 US."

"'Just like you set up an iPod, set up a TV,' he said."

Great. They're gonna copy the one loosing model they already have for selling music online and mirror it when it comes to movies.

"Selling" is such a relative word to coneheads in the IT industry. Legal music download sites provide what's closer to song "leasing" or song "renting." Because many services will terminate your use of your MP3s if you stops subscribing. And in the case of Apple's iTunes service, you must pay extra if you want to transfer your music to a portable MP3 player. Any attempt to work around this problem is prevented by the iTunes service agreement which states that you buy their songs agreeing that you will not remove any security features on them that limit their use.

It's better to just buy a damned CD from the store.

I look forward to the day when a company in the IT industry comes forward with three ideas that I believe will shake things up:
1) Lowering prices below those of their competitors, and actually really competing from a classic supply and demand view point.
2) Granting user licenses that are "freer" for the end user
3) Creating new tech, that is actually new, and actually lets people have some sort of new functionality instead of re-inventing old ones.

Gradatim Alright...

Jeff Bezos has creaked open the dead bolted door to his Blue Origin experiment.

We can see a ship. We can see it fly. We can see it not crash.

All and all he's beating a lot of Ex-X-Prize competitors already.

What's better he seems to have a sense of reality: "Slow and steady is the way to achieve results, and we do not kid ourselves into thinking this will get easier as we go along."

No kidding.

The road to space tourism is littered already with the dead decapitated bodies of small business startups that "thought" they could... Or so the story goes.

I'm thinking that their insistence on using a vertical take-off and landing system is going to make their motto "Gradatim Ferociter" (TM) all the more appropriate.

Polls Are For Dogs

Bias in the mainstream media? That's just a conservative fairy tale isn't it?
"Ottawa — A new poll suggests that at year's end, the Conservatives and Liberals were in a virtual dead heat in political support."

"The Decima Research survey, made available to The Canadian Press, suggests the Conservatives had 34 per cent support, compared with 31 per cent for the Liberals, a spread within the poll's 3.1-percentage-point margin of error."

Some good statistical analysis a goings on there. Margins of error are there for a reason. We know the poll reveals a Tory lead, but that statistically it is insignificant.

So then you'd figure that that rigorous statistical analysis would be applied to regional results which show a Liberal lead in Ontario and Quebec? Think again.
" In Ontario and Quebec, however, the survey numbers indicate the Liberals had an edge on the Tories....The poll gave the Liberals 40 per cent support in Ontario, compared with 35 per cent for the Conservatives... The margins of error are higher for regional samples."
That "higher" margin of error was almost surely above 5% seeing that the national confidence interval was over 3%. Given that the poll shows a lead, but it is statistically insignificant as it was in the national poll.

They were more than willing to point out the statistical insignificance of a 3 point lead in a poll with a 3.1 margin of error.

But when the lead is for the Liberals with a larger margin of error, it's no longer a "dead heat" it's and "edge"?

Can't the Liberal apologists at the Globe come up with more subtle ways of injecting their bias into everything they write?

Rona Aint Dead Yet

Slowly but surely Rona Ambrose is being crucified for her stand on climate change. Pre-mature predictions of her ousting from cabinet over her apparent mishandling of the environment have turned into predictions of a “demotion” to intergovernmental affairs.

Going from a major government file that no one wanted, that had gave little chance for a young female up-and-coming Conservative MP to make any name for herself in, to a major government file that many people want, and gives Madame Ambrose ample opportunity to make a mark on, strikes me as being an odd action to refer to as being a “demotion.”

Madame Ambrose is well respected by the party faithful for standing up for Conservatives principles when it comes to child care. And she has been loyal to Harper’s leadership unlike some.

Despite some errors in judgement, I don't believe a shuffle of Ambrose to Intergovernmental affairs comes at any fault from her loyal performance to the Conservative cause. I think it comes from shifting strategy.

Harper I believe is starting to see the Environment file in much the same way that he sees Healthcare strategically: wherever the Liberals are - so are we.

With the election of an enviro-centric Liberal leader Stephane Dion and the surprising results in the recent London North Centre Bi-Election that showed a near Green Party victory, Harper may see the environment as becoming a non-winnable issue for the Tories.

Ambrose is still alive and well.