Thursday, December 31, 2009

Dean Soreyko of BC Blue doesn't like reading Dr. Dawg's column in the Nat Post

From Dean Soreyko of BC Blue:
"Today was the first time I’ve time I read one of the National Post’s newest contributors and I gave my head a sad shake." (see column here)

"John Baglow, known as Dr Dawg to the on-line blogger community,  is now getting his anti-Harper/Conservative ramblings published in the only decent newspaper in Canada and you have to wonder what editor Kelly McParland is thinking." (continued)
I left a comment on BC Blue.  I don't know if it will get published as it is in moderation.  Here's is my comment anyway:
"Please, do all newspaper and magazine writers need to be conservative? I read different print and electronic news sources. I don’t care if they are liberal or conservative. I want to read good writing. I can enjoy a conservative Economist magazine as well as a liberal Toronto Star. I can read the Jerusalem Post as well as Al Jazeera (English). I can enjoy all of them. I read them because I want the authors to challenge my own way of thinking. If I just read things which which I only agree, I would limit my own range of thinking. If people wish to only read things with which they agree, they can read their own toilet paper."  [Links added on my blog post]

Update: BC Blue did publish my comment.  Thank you so kindly.

Lake Superior State University 2010 List of Banished Words

Happy 2010!  Will that be two thousand ten or twenty-ten?

Lake Superior State University has just published its list of banished words:
  • shovel-ready
  • transparent/transparency
  • czar
  • tweet
  • app
  • sexting
  • friend as a verb
  • teachable moment
  • in these economic times...
  • stimulus
  • toxic assets
  • too big to fail
  • bromance
  • chillaxin'
  • Obama-prefix or roots?
Click the link for details about each word or sets of words.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Google Street View stops about 500 metres north of the 49th parallel

I am looking at Google Street View for some of the major places in Canada.  Southeast of the Vancouver area, Google Street View stops about 500 metres north of the 49th parallel.  If you live on Zero Avenue right along the border (but on the Canadian side), you will not see your own home.  It seems you live in the buffer zone where Google Street (View) life does not exist.

Google Street View does get close to the Canadian border from the American side in many cases.  However, US border officials and indivividual vehicles are not identified.

Here are some examples of Canada's Google Street View that stops about 500 north of the unofficial DMZ between the north and south:

Southeast of Vancouver on 172 Street


View Larger Map

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English Bluff Road, Delta BC


View Larger Map

Does our Canadian government want to hide our border from us?

-----

Go to Basel, Switzerland if you want some Google Street views very close to the French and German borders.  Remember to click and drag the little orange human to the street that you want to view.

Update: Rouses Point, New York: Hwy 276:


View Larger Map

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Toronto Star: Save Local TV, but for what?

From the Toronto Star:
Has there ever been a bigger false cause in Canada than the private network's "Save Local TV" campaign? What are we being asked to save again – the right for rich guys to simulcast Lost?

Canada's broadcasters want the CRTC to grant them something Canadians have never had to pay extra for before, a direct, monthly fee for access to programming – most of which they could watch on free feeds from U.S. border stations.
Continued.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Oh, the sub-humanity!

From Eric Margolis (Toronto Sun):
"The Swiss People's Party, like conservative, right-wing parties in Canada, the U.S., Britain, Germany, France, Italy and Australia, adopted anti-Islamism as their most potent, popular ideology. As I've been writing for years, hatred and fear of Muslims is the modern version of 1930s anti-Semitism

Just as Nazis denounced Jews as malevolent, dangerous sub-humans, today's western right-wingers, Christian fundamentalists, neoconservatives have simply changed the label to Muslims from Jews."
My emphasis in bold.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Santa's elves are wearing skimpier clothing each year

I just happened to be in Yorkville in Toronto with my camera.  Lo and behold, I saw Santa's elves running down the street.  They were raising money for the Toronto Hospital for Sick Children.  Here are some slightly distorted photos so that the elves' true identities won't be discovered.




Monday, December 7, 2009

Greenpeace vs. Harper-in-South Korea

Based on my observations of watching the news on CBC, CTV, Canwest Global, and a couple of other stations, the Greenpeace protest at Parliament Hill knocked off most coverage of Stephen Harper's visit to South Korea.  Even the missing boy from Nova Scotia received more coverage than Harper's visit.  Thankfully, the missing boy was found alive.

Greenpeace achieved its objective of getting media exposure today.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

I don't usually talk about the goodness of Harper...

...and I am not about to.

While many my friends on Progressive Bloggers will criticize Prime Minister Harper on his belated trip to China and his upcoming trip to the climate summit in Copenhagen, Harper's constituency of support is very different from many of my fellow bloggers.  He wants the support from Canadians who place the economy first, then human rights and the environment next.  Put it simply, by my very rough estimate, a one percent increase in unemployment means a one percent loss of support for the Conservatives.  A one percent increase or decrease in pollution means very little change in support for the Conservatives.

The magic percent is 40.  On Harper's trip to China and his upcoming trip to Copenhagen, he needs the approval of 40 percent--not 50 percent plus one.  Under Canada's First-Past-the-Post voting system, Harper only needs to reach the magic 40 percent in order for his party to receive a majority of the seats in the House of Commons.  He can go to Copenhagen.  Most of the people from other countries and non-governmental organizations may hate him and Canada's environmental stance; he will still end up a winner in his own eyes.  Why?  His supporters are more concerned about the economy.  All Harper has to do is show up at the climate summit in Copenhagen, talk about balancing economic and environmental needs, and then play for a Strategema draw.

I don't normally give advice to Harper, I will suggest to him or any future prime minister visiting China to reply to any perceived insult by stating how great Canada is as a free society which helps create economic, social, and environmental wealth for its citizens.  No need to mention China.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Swiss anti-minaret referendum

In the referendum to ban the new construction of minarets in Switzerland, 57.5 percent of Swiss voters supported the ban.  Also, voters 19 1/2 cantons out of 23 voted "yes" and supported the ban.  Had the Swiss referendum used the rules under Ontario or British Columbia's referendum law, it would have failed to achieve the 60 percent threshold for passing.

Whether 50 or 60 percent of the voters should agree in a referendum or if a referendum should have taken place at all, that is something that people can discuss.

I'm still trying to figure out the half-canton thingy.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Will this broadcast website publish my comments?

I left both positive and negative comments on this website under two aliases. I wonder if both comments will get published within 24 hours.

I'll check back in 24 hours.

Sincerely,
SD / JW

Update: Even though I made a negative comment about "Boycotting the Olympics" under my Skinny Dipper alias, my positive comment about watching the Montreal Olympics in 1976 did get published under my other CTV alias: JWilliams.  I did send the negative message first.

Former prime minister sings Bohemian Rhapsody

Go to 3:48 to see one of Canada's former prime ministers sing with the Muppets.



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tgbNymZ7vqY&feature=player_embedded#movie_player

Monday, November 16, 2009

So You Think You Can Dance India with Stephen Harpuur

Toronto Star's Rick Westhead writes an article about Stephen Harper's trip to India:

For Harper, the visit may have to do less with new trade deals or warmed relations than with building ties to Indo-Canadian voters before the next election.

So rather than strategizing on new bilateral investment with India's Ambani brothers, the Prime Minister will travel to the Golden Temple in Amritsar – the holiest shrine in the Sikh faith – and meet with Hindi film star Akshay Kumar, a torchbearer for the Vancouver Olympics.

"By and large the Canadian Indian population has voted Liberal, but there's been an effort by this government to make Indo-Canadians feel connected," said a former Canadian diplomat, suggesting Harper aims to continue that effort with this trip.
 
The prime minister's trip isn't about improving trade ties between Canada and India; it's to increase votes for Stephen Harper's Conservative Party.  This is a brilliant strategy.  I encourage Harper to go on more trips in order to attract Canadian voters from different backgrounds.  Harper can to go to Paris in order get votes from French-Canadians.  A plane ride to Warsaw will secure the Polish-Canadian vote.  A couple of sidetrips to Stettin and Breslau will make him sehr-popular with our German-Canadian friends.
 
Vielen Glück Herr Harper!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Boy won't cite Pledge of Allegiance--no liberty or justice for gays

From the Arkansas Times:
"After asking his parents whether it was against the law not to stand for the pledge, Will decided to do something. On Monday, Oct. 5, when the other kids in his class stood up to recite the pledge of allegiance, he remained sitting down."

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Apu, here's your new guide to talk and act like a Canadian, eh!


No smokin' sitars within nine metres of a mall entrance.  If you want to learn how to talk and act like a Canadian, eh! read the government stuff on Canadian citizenship.*  Otherwise, get out!

Thank you, come again!

*Courtesy of the Harper's anti-Sitaric government 

Update: Go to this link for highlights from DAS BOOK.  So lustig, ja!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Harper celebrates the falling of the Berlin Wall....

...by building a new version around the Greater Toronto Area.

In Canada, Stephen Harper's Conservatives hold 143 of the 308 seats in the House of Commons.

Today, there are four by-elections where his party is unlikely to win any of the seats. So instead, the prime minister has ordered the different government departments to build a wall surrounding Mississauga, Brampton, southern York Region, Toronto, Pickering, and Ajax.

With the immediate construction of the wall and blockade of the Toronto area, the number of seats in the House of Commons will be immediately reduced by 35 to 273. Harper's Conservative Party will now hold a majority of seats in the House of Commons.

When asked about the forced blockade of Toronto and denial of access to the city by Canadian citizens, Harper replied, "At least the number of winning professional NHL hockey teams in Canada won't be reduced."

Earlier in the morning, Thornhill MP, Peter Kent, was seen fortifying the wall within his riding until he realized that he had just figuratively painted his constituents in a corner by completely surrounding his riding with the ugly wall. All the neighbouring ridings have Liberal MPs.

Why Harper imposed a Berlin-style wall around Toronto, he stated that he wanted to preserve Canadian unity and potentially prevent a hostile Liberal "régime" from taking over his Canada. Liberal leader, Michael Ignatieff, comes from "hostile Canada."

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Toronto Star's Kathy English says columnists have the right to offend

The public editor of the Toronto Star, Kathy English, writes that columnists have the right to offend. Tell that to Antonia.

From Kathy English:
"As Poets, Pundits and Wits, a collection of newspaper columns, tells us, columnizing is a 'self-indulgent' occupation, and columnists have licence to be 'rude, reckless, silly and prejudiced.'"

Some of Ms. English's other thoughts:

From Kathy English last July 18;

From July 12.

Thanks to Unrepentant Old Hippie for the July links.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I love Canadian multilingualism

I went to a ScotiaBank bank machine in Toronto and selected among a choice of languages: English, Cantonese(?), Mandarin(?), and Spanish.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

I guess signs like these will become illegal in Olympic Vancouver

The BC government wants to pass a law banning certain signs like these during the Bancouver Olympic Games.

It might be time for another sponsor boycott.

Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I wish I were paid for conducting an internet poll

Last week, I decided to conduct an AV or STV style internet poll on who would be the best candidate for mayor of Toronto in 2010. I used the website DemoChoice to conduct my poll. That website let me include up to 32 names as potential candidates. The people I placed in my poll included well-known people outside of Toronto's city council such as John Tory and George Smitherman. I also included 29 of the 44 city councillors. I selected councillors that had name recognition. I also included private citizen Enza Supermodel Anderson because she's hot!

No one paid me nor suggested I conduct this poll on behalf of any candidate. It would have been an honour to have conducted this poll on behalf of a candidate; it would have been more of an honour to have been paid lots of money!

An unknown person emailed about my choice of potential candidates. I guess I didn't satisfy him/her.

I will be conducting a new poll sometime around January when potential candidates start to confirm their candidacy for mayor of Toronto. In my current poll, I did not list former Winnipeg mayor, Glen Murray, who now lives in Toronto. I only found out after I started the poll that he might become a candidate.

Here is the letter from the unknown commenter, Undivulged Name:

"Dear "Skimpy": (as in applying as little thought as possible to creating this "poll" without lots of spaces for write-in names, or an apology for offering a premature group of names).
But then, maybe guys like you prefer to vote for a NAME. There will be, obviously, other as-yet undeclared potential candidates out there, even one quite interesting one I've already heard of who's not on your list.
C'mon, skimpy...are you trying to damn us to another four years of spinning our wheels? Or are you perhaps in the pay of someone on the list?
It's time to wake up and smell the coffee. THIS ISN'T A POPULARITY CONTEST. We're not choosing a NAME; we're choosing the LEADERSHIP OF OUR CITY.
Investigate closely every single one of the names you have proposed, and you'll find out how (--unlike a real prize candidate who will hopefully step forward, and who will be necessary to do the job properly--) shallow your list is for the role of leader of this city: no thought-through ideas (a.k.a. "vision"), no leadership potential or concept of a citizen-centered development of the third or fourth largest city in North America. Not one.
Your kind of choice is reminiscent of how we got Miller last time. Let me remind you. The media gave the city three choices, based upon each only having a NAME: an ineffectual former council member that turned out to have nothing to offer, a former president of the Liberal party that kept telling the media that he didn't want to be elected, and an incumbent who had done little to nothing for the past three years. The media finally "hijacked" that election down to one choice, and told us who to vote for in its headlines.
Like you're trying to do in your little exercise. Get real! When the time comes to register the candidates, there will be a couple of dozen names on the list you never even heard of. I for one want to know who the best person for the job is.
Don't you?
NO? OK, then YOU vote for a NAME, Skimpy. And while you're at it, why don't you tell us all which NAME should be included on OUR list of possibilities? During the election, Skimpy, be sure to ignore all but three or four of any other declared candidates so we don't get sidetracked away from your choices when you're telling us who to consider. This is a nice head start. "

EQAO board member, Lorna Earl, conflict of interest allegation

What's that old saying? "If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck."

In 1997 Lorna Earl helped design the first EQAO standardized tests for students in grades-three, six, nine, and ten. Eventually she was appointed by Dalton McGuinty's government to become a board member for EQAO.

Recently, it has been found that Earl is a director at Aporia, a consultancy business, to help school boards improve student performance in the classroom. While this may or may not be the same as getting the students to perform better on the EQAO tests, Aporia would not be able to the same kind of service to the school boards without the use of the EQAO assessment data for each school--assessment data designed by Lorna Earl.

Right now, Aporia is dependent of the EQAO test results when offering its services to the school boards. Lorna Earl who is a director at Aporia is also a board member of EQAO. That seems like a conflict of interest to me.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Vote for mayor of Toronto for 2010

The mayor or Toronto, David Miller, will not be running for re-election in 2010.

Vote for the new mayor of Toronto using the preferential ballot link as shown above. Or you may click on the link.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Susan Delacourt: we are shoppers/eaters, not educated citizens

Susan Delacourt writes about Stephen Harper choosing to go to a donut store instead of attending a meeting at the United Nations. His action shows what he thinks of Canadians. Through his eyes, we are shoppers and eaters instead of being educated citizens.

H/T: Aaron Wherry, Maclean's

Monday, September 21, 2009

MIT Project "Gaydar": I might be gay based on my Facebook site

I guess if I have a lot of gay Facebook friends, then I must be gay.

I wonder if I had a lot of black Facebook friends, would I be black?

A couple MIT students predict your sexual orientation and political leanings based on your Facebook information.

Time to go read some tarot cards.

Friday, September 18, 2009

I love those crazy right-wing tea parties

You Tube



I think those right-wingnuts should worry about Obama Canadianizing the American alphabet: X, Y, cZar!

Coo-koo!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Stopping the Internet Repooooooooooorn Party!

My comment for this blog: http://www.acreativerevolution.ca/node/2080

I suspect Conservative MPP Gerry Martiniuk added the schools to his anti-porn Internet safety crusade because stopping library porn alone won't get the public interested. By adding schools, he can gain more support for his anti-porn bill. Also, he must know already that most school boards in Ontario already have filtering software to prevent students and staff from viewing pornographic and other so-called unacceptable sites such as Facebook, YouTube, Hotmail, Twitter, MySpace, and the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation. I tried the last one myself. I can't get on this site at any school where I teach. I have even been prevented from seeing some Toronto Star articles because naughty words have appeared in them. I did get blocked out of a Vatican web page for some reason. OMG, I didn't know why. Jesus Christ!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

UJA: Blacklisting them only stifles the exchange of cultural knowledge

The United Jewish Appeal published a petition that supports the Toronto International Film Festival. It opposes blacklists of Israeli artists.

We don't need another blacklist

We applaud the Toronto International Film Festival for including the Israeli film community in the Festival's City to City program. The visiting filmmakers represent a dynamic national cinema, the best of Israel's open, uncensored, artistic expression. Anyone who has actually seen recent Israeli cinema, movies that are political and personal, comic and tragic, often critical, knows they are in no way a propaganda arm for any government policy. Blacklisting them only stifles the exchange of cultural knowledge that artists should be the first to defend and protect. Those who refuse to see these films for themselves or prevent them from being seen by others are violating a cherished right shared by Canada and all democratic countries.

I wish the UJA could have told their friends at B'nai Brith and the Canadian Jewish Congress that supporting the blacklisting or banning of Deborah Ellis's book, Three Wishes: Palestinian and Israeli Children Speak Out, in schools only stifles the exchange of cultural knowledge that the author should be the first to defend and protect. Those who refuse to read Three Wishes for themselves or prevent it from being seen by others are violating a cherished right shared by Canada and all democratic countries.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Maclean's Forum in Toronto: Our Democracy is Broken

For those of you who would like to attend the Maclean's forum called Our Democracy is Broken, it is being held at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts in Toronto on Wednesday, September 23. The cost is $20 plus a $3 service fee. It is $15 for Maclean's magazine subscribers, students, and seniors.

The moderator will be Peter Van Dusen from CPAC. Panelists include Andrew Coyne and Paul Wells from Maclean's, former leader Ed Broadbent, Eddie Goldenberg, John Ralston Saul, and Tasha Kheiriddin.

I hope many people will attend.

Maclean's forum: Our Democracy is Broken

St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts
Toronto
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
7-9 p.m.
Tickets $20 plus $3 service fee--$15 for Maclean's subscribers, students, and seniors.

Naomi Klein and Judy Rebick must be sending out the secret police

Yes, Mesdames Klein and Rebick are prepared to send out secret death squads to go after all people who support the Toronto International Film Festival's choice of Tel Aviv in the City-to-City Program. I must infer this truth based on a column that I read in the Toronto Star by Martin Knelman. In the column, Mr. Martin writes:

In the view of those who have fought back by protesting the protest, those objecting to TIFF's Tel Aviv series have stooped to the methods of the most notoriously repressive regimes of past and present, from Stalin to the Taliban, all of whom sought to silence artists and stifle free expression.

Since Toronto is in North America, I don't think Klein and Rebick would send out the death squads to murder supporters of TIFF and Tel Aviv. They'd probably send out bounty hunters in order to snatch these supporters and place them in front of death panels. Punishment could include a transfer to the Attawapiskat reserve in Northern Ontario. The supporters could suffer a slow and painful death if held inside the empty but contaminated school in Attawapiskat.

One may revolt at my twisted sense of humour. Mr. Knelman made some convincing arguments until he compared the protesters to the repressive Stalin and the Taliban. He wrote about some Israeli film makers who produced films that were critical of the Israeli government. One example he cited was Ari Folman's animated movie Waltz With Bashir.

Personally, do I object that Tel Aviv is not represented in a miserable plight? No, I don't. Everyone's version of Tel Aviv may be different from others just as my version of Toronto--suburban and relatively well off--may be different from someone else's--downtown and down-'n'-out. If someone wishes to make a movie about the lives of Israeli-Arabs/Arab-Israelis living in Tel Aviv, they can choose to do so. Four years ago, when I was in Paris, France during the riots, I saw two different versions: the poor suburbs that with flames shooting up from burning vehicles and a city-centre with a tentative sense of normal peace. On the television in my hotel room, it looked like all of Paris was burning.

Thankfully, Mr. Knelman didn't call the protesters "anti-Semitic." He should be careful when he compares these people to the evils of Stalin and the Taliban. I believe "Comrade" Klein and "Suicide" Rebick would agree.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

If Canadians vote this fall,...

...I will be supporting the Bloc Québécois.

First and foremost, I support proportional representation. I do not wish to see either the Conservative or Liberal Party form a majority government with a minority of the votes. One way to prevent this is by supporting the Bloc which can win a lot of seats with a high concentration of votes in Quebec. Since I do not live in Quebec, I cannot vote for the Bloc. I can donate money which can either be a big or small amount. I can place a Bloc logo on my blog. I can encourage my friends living in Quebec to vote for the Bloc.

I won't be voting in the next federal election because we do not have proportional representation. I do encourage Quebeckers to vote for the Bloc.

No to bogus majority governments.

Screw the antiquated First-Past-the-Post voting system.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

John Snobelen is full of testing hooey

After reading former "Progessive" Conservative MPP John Snobelen's Toronto Sun commentary about standardized testing in Ontario's schools, I understand his purpose of testing: to test the teachers--not to test how well the students know the curriculum.

It was near the end of his comments where he stated:

They would like to know how their child's teacher has performed. Grading a teacher's professional acumen by his/her students' performance is a sophisticated bit of work. There are a lot of variable. But it can be done.

With a little more investment the standardized testing system could be used to rate teachers and identify strengths and weaknesses. Great teachers could be rewarded and parents could make sure their kids were not exposed to inferior teaching. Not bad really.

I have seen the schools' overall test scores as presented by the government through EQAO. I have also seen the interpretations of scores by the Fraser Institute and C.D. Howe Institute. The Fraser Institute scores each school from a scale of 0 to 10.0. One school received a 10.0 while a neighbouring school received a 2.3. The first school had grade-six students enrolled in gifted classes. There were extremely few lower level special education students enrolled at the school. Of course the test scores are going to be high. In the second school. There were many ESL students enrolled in the regular classes. That school had several community classes for students with autism or were developmentally delayed. These students do not write the tests. However, the Fraser Institute and C.D. Howe Institute gives these students zeros for not writing the tests. As a parent, I could interpret a school's Fraser Institute score of 2.3 as being that the school has lousy teachers.

If Mr. Snobelen wants parents to rate teachers, he can always tell them to go to a "Rate My Teachers" website. I would probably rate very well because I sometimes give my students small treats on Friday afternoon. I have also given them Robert Munsch's mini-books that are worth about a dollar each. Both students and parents love me! I think I'm a pretty good teacher. I will admit that giving students candies and books doesn't make me a great teacher professionally.

Mr. Snobelen did mention earlier in his commentary that teachers teach to the test because students are being tested on the curriculum. That is what teachers should be doing. As a teacher, that is not what my fellow teachers and I mean by "teaching to the test." It means going over the rules of the EQAO tests with the students several times before the actual tests. It means telling the students how to write their responses so that they will receive maximum scores. For example, students are taught the APE method of answering questions--answer, prove, and explain. Students are taught how to answer questions if the first word in the question is list, explain, compare, justify, describe, etc.

I would love to see an enlightened school principal at a fairly large school take two grade-three or six classes, mix and divided the students into two new groupings. There would be a fair mixture of boys and girls with different academic abilities in each group. The first group would perform test preparation exercises and learn how to take the EQAO tests; the second group would learn curriculum content--either new or review. The teachers in the two classes can rotate teaching the two groups each second day. I would suggest that the first group would perform better on the EQAO tests than the second group based on the preparation skills of the first group.

Mr. Snobelen would like to reward great teachers. I don't know how he would do that. Perhaps teachers could receive smiley stickers for students receiving level threes (B's) and fours (A's) on the EQAO tests. Great teachers know that formal testing is only one small assessment measure. Great teaachers inspire their students to want to learn. The EQAO tests are no inspiration for student learning.

Great teachers want to teach. However, they don't need to teach in Ontario. They can teach anywhere in the world. If Mr. Snobelen wants more standardized testing, great teachers won't teach in Ontario.

Here's a video of a speech by Sir Ken Robinson about schools killing creativity. Enjoy!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Harper's Senate reform proposal

If I were Ontario's Premier Dalton McGuinty, I would take advantage of Prime Minister Harper's Senate reform proposal.

I would let Harper know that Ontario would be willing to hold elections for the up to 24 members of the Senate who represent Ontario.

It would be expensive to hold elections once every four months for Ontarians to elect a senator. Instead I would have one big election once every eight years. Since the Senators could sit for eight years (ignoring the constitutional rules), Ontario could have one big election where senators would be elected by the At-Large voting system where voters get to choose as many candidates as there are positions. The Senate elections can be held at the same time as every second provincial election. By using the At-Large voting system, voters could elect a slate of either Liberal or Conservative candidates. Eventually, if there are 24 Senate seats available from Ontario, it is possible that 22 out of the 24 could be Liberals or Conservatives. Maybe someday, there will be a slate of new New Democrats or greener Greens elected.

I love the At-Large voting system. I could select Liberal candidates except for the non-white ones, gay ones, and utterly strange ones. Knowing that the nNDP and gGreens will never elected any capital "L" loser candidates, I could for a few remaining white Conservatives--preferably men so long as they are not gay or francophone.

In the end, Ontarians could eventually have a slate of 22 to 24 Liberal senators to represent us in the Senate. Quebeckers could have a slate of 22 to 24 Parti Québécois senators. Albertans would still be stuck with six.

Who needs real Senate reform or abolition when we have Harper's great Senate proposal?

Friday, August 28, 2009

My repost of House of Commons and Senate reform

On March 12, 2008, I posted a blog about my suggestions to reform the House of Commons and Senate in Canada. I still think these suggestions are as relevant today as they were last year.

I think about the three main options that the federal and provincial governments can do to reform the Senate:
  1. Abolish the Senate. This would be efficient as we would no longer need to pay unelected people to sit in the House of Senility. However, people who live in the small and medium populated provinces will eventually complain about representation again. Without any kind of Senate, there won't be any incentive for the people living in the smaller provinces to share power with people living in Ontario and Quebec. The federal parliament will never get any new powers.
  2. Keep the Senate as it is. We can keep praying for the Senate messiah. Someday, some charismatic person living in the Alberta or elsewhere will realize that Senate reform will never happen within Canada. If regional tensions increase in the future, Senate reform will become a sideshow to separation.
  3. Reform the Senate. Make it elected by the people. There are other matters to deal with an elected Senate such as the provincial/territorial seat distribution and effectiveness of the elected Senate.
I present to you (again) my solution to reform the House of Commons and Senate (originally published on March 12, 2008).
http://skinnydips.blogspot.com/2008/03/canadian-house-of-commons-and-senate.html
I am presenting my proposal to reform the House of Commons and Senate. This proposal does not cover every conceivable topic related to Canada's parliament. It touches on key points such as the distribution of seats in the House of Commons and Senate, the roles that members of Parliament play as they represent their constituents on a local, provincial/territorial, and bi-cultural/bi-national nature of the country.

My proposal is designed to be fair. It changes the assumptions that members of the House of Commons can only represent their constituents based on population and Senators only represent their constituents based on some form of regional/provincial/territorial status. My proposal provides multiple roles for members in both the House and the Senate.

My proposal is designed to be flexible and meet the needs of Canadians based upon where they live according to their population, the province or territory where they may live, and the linguistic community where they may live.

In terms of linguistic community, MPs and Senators linguistic status would not be determined by a means test delivered by a Speaker of the House of Commons or Senate. It would be determined by the numbers or percentage of people within each province/territory who speak English or French as a first official language. A parliamentarian whose mother tongue may be English but lives in Quebec would represent the Francophone national community. Likewise, a parliamentarian whose mother tongue may be French but lives outside Quebec would represent the Anglophone national community.

Next, while Quebec may be perceived as having special status, its MPs and Senators would not have an overall veto over any bill in Parliament.

Finally, if every MP and Senator from Ontario and Quebec supported a bill and every other MP and Senator opposed a bill, then the bill would not pass. The bill would only have the support of MPs representing two of13 provinces/territories. In the Senate, the Ontario and Quebec Senators would represent a minority of Senators and a minority of provinces/territories. Within the Anglophone national community, Ontario would represent a minority of Anglophone Senators (around 25 percent).

My Proposals for Reforming the House of Commons and Senate of Canada

Why?

Canada needs a system of decision making that better reflects the needs of the population as a whole, the provincial and territorial regions, and the linguistic/national communities.
What is proposed?

Both the House of Commons and the Senate need a redistribution of seats that better reflects the population and socio-regional communities of Canada.

Next, the current members of the House of Commons and the Senate perform a single function of officially representing their communities. The members of the House of Commons represent their constituents based on population. The members of the Senate represent their regions.

My proposal would legally have the members of both houses of Parliament, when they vote on bills, represent their constituents based on either population (House of Commons) or partially on population (Senate). In each house, the members would also represent their provinces/territories and their linguistic national communities. Currently the national communities would consist of the Francophone majority province of Quebec and the Anglophone majority provinces combined.

A bill being voted on in Parliament would require broad approval:

The House of Commons would be the primary house. A bill could be successfully passed if a majority of the members approve over those opposed. Conditionally, the bill would also require the approval of the members who represent (1) a majority of the provinces/territories and (2) the national communities (Quebec and rest of Canada) over those opposed. If one or both of the conditional requirements could not be met in the House of Commons, then the Senate would be required to vote on the bill with a majority of Senators in support over those opposed.

This proposal is not designed to be perfect. It does, however, allow for a broader requirement for acceptance when the members of the House of Commons and Senate vote on bills. This proposal is designed for flexibility when determining if a bill has received broader acceptance beyond a simple majority of members living in a limited number of regions.

My proposal is fair and flexible.

1. It offers a fair distribution of seats among the provinces/territories in the House of Commons and Senate.

2. It ensures that bills on third reading will require the support of a majority of MPs over those opposed and in the Senate if needed.

3. It is flexible in offering a broader regional/linguistic endorsement of all bills. If MPs and Senators are elected on the basis of some form of proportional representation, coalitions among political parties are workable across either territorial or linguistic lines. Parliamentarians will be able to vote on and pass bills without the worry of having a straight-jacket placed upon the institutions of parliament. [Note: Without Excel, I cannot show you the possibilities of single parties or coalitions of parties forming governments. A "super" majority of parliamentarians required to approve a bill that includes regional and/or linguistic support would need the support of about 55% of MPs and Senators.]

Representation in the House of Commons

The seats in the House of Commons shall be distributed to the provinces and territories based on their populations. The seats shall be rounded up to the nearest whole number.

Distribution of seats in the House of Commons
  • Newfoundland and Labrador 6
  • Prince Edward Island 2
  • Nova Scotia 10
  • New Brunswick 8
  • Quebec 78
  • Ontario 125
  • Manitoba 12
  • Saskatchewan 10
  • Alberta 34
  • British Columbia 42
  • Yukon 1
  • Northwest Territories 1
  • Nunavut 1
  • Anglophone national community 252
  • Francophone national community 78
  • Total 330

The members of the House of Commons, who shall represent their constituents based on population, shall collectively represent their constituents based on provincial/territorial regional status and their territorial national community (Anglophone Canada-RoC and Francophone Canada-Quebec).

Representation in the Senate

The seats in the Senate shall be distributed to the provinces and territories based on the square roots of their populations. The seats shall be rounded up to the nearest whole number.

Distribution of seats in the Senate
  • Newfoundland and Labrador 4
  • Prince Edward Island 4
  • Nova Scotia 6
  • New Brunswick 6
  • Quebec 16
  • Ontario 20
  • Manitoba 8
  • Saskatchewan 6
  • Alberta 12
  • British Columbia 12
  • Yukon 2
  • Northwest Territories 2
  • Nunavut 2
  • Total 100
Half the Senators from each province and territory can be elected every three years.

Passing a bill on third reading

Method 1:
House of Commons • Approval by a majority of the MPs over those opposed representing both: a majority of the provinces/territories over those opposed. (Ties or no votes within a province or territory would count neither in the affirmative nor negative); and a majority of the national communities (English-RoC & French-Quebec).

Royal Assent

Method 2:
House of Commons • Approval by a majority of the MPs over those opposed.

Senate • Approval by a majority of the Senators over those opposed.

Royal Assent

Note: With both methods, the Senate may introduce bills first according to the Constitution Act, 1867.

Members of the House of Commons and the Senate could use some form of electronic voting so that the results could be easily tabulated.
Questions one may ask:

1. Why should each northern territory get the same regional vote as Ontario?

This is understandable. However, any governing party or coalition should be able to obtain seats in at least one or two of the three northern territories. It makes sense that parties and coalitions seek support across Canada. Besides, coalition governments could go after support from MPs representing linguistic communities instead of provincial/territorial regions. This system of parliamentarians voting on bill is designed to be flexible. Coalitions should be able to represent a majority of the MPs representing either a majority of the provinces/territories or linguistic communities (national communities).

2. Why should Quebec be treated specially?

It is not that Quebec is being treated specially. It is just that it is the only province that has a majority of people whose first official language is French. All the other provinces have English-speaking majorities. If in the future (in theory) a majority of people in New Brunswick speak French as an official language or if Quebec splits into theoretical Francophone provinces of North Shore Quebec and South Shore Quebec, the French and English speaking communities in Canada could still be protected under this proposal as there would still be provinces with French and English speaking majorities.

3. Some provinces would lose their percentage of seats in the House of Commons. Is that fair?
Newfoundland, PEI, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan would lose seats. However, these provinces would gain status as being provinces equal to all others in terms of regional representation within the House of Commons. For example, MPs from PEI who may oppose a bill would have the same amount of authority as MPs from Ontario who may support a bill when determining regional approval. The same holds true for all other provinces and territories including Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan.

4. How about First Nations representation?

This proposal is flexible to include First Nations peoples as both a regional territory and national community. Seats for First Nations could be apportioned from existing provincial/territorial populations and combined to form a multi-seat unit. Representation could either include or exclude the people who do not live on reserves/First Nations territories. That could be up for discussion. Note: First Nations peoples would not get a double vote but have one vote in choosing either Aboriginal or provincial/territorial MPs. The same holds true for selecting Senators.

5. What about future provinces/territories?

Again, this proposal is flexible to allow for additional provinces.

6. Is the distribution of seats in the Senate fair?

The seats are distributed based on the square root of the population of each province and territory. If all the provinces and territories have complaints about the distribution of seats, then something must be right overall.

7. How about provincial/territorial representation within the Anglophone national community in the House of Commons?

The distribution of seats among the Anglophone provinces would be based on the provincial/territorial populations in the House of Commons and based on the square root of the populations in the Senate. In the House of Commons, the Ontario members would represent about 50 percent of the Anglophone national community; the four western provinces – 39 percent; the four Atlantic provinces – ten percent; the three northern territories – just over one percent.

8. How about provincial representation within the Francophone national community in the House of Commons?

Since Quebec is the only province with a Francophone majority, it shall assume the status as a national community. If, in theory, Quebec split into two or more Francophone majority provinces, then collectively these new provinces would form the Francophone national community.

9. Could the parliamentarians from Ontario and Quebec alone pass a bill without the approval of MPs and Senators from the other provinces and territories?

If all the MPs and Senators from Ontario and Quebec supported a bill and if the rest of the MPs and Senators from the other provinces and territories opposed the bill; then the bill would not pass. Even though Ontario and Quebec represent a majority of MPs within the House of Commons, these two provinces do not represent a majority of provinces and territories (2/13). The bill would need approval of the Senate. Since Ontario and Quebec still represent only 2 of 13 provinces/territories, the bill would not have approval from Senators representing a majority of provinces/territories. Ontario and Quebec would also only have 38 of 100 Senators. A bill would be defeated based on the lack of support from a majority of Senators. Linguistically, while Quebec Senators could guarantee the support of Senators representing the Francophone region, Ontario Senators would only carry about 25 percent of the Senators representing the Anglophone region. One out two linguistic regions supporting a bill does not represent a majority. The bill could not pass.

10. Should the distribution of party seats be based on proportional representation?

That could be up for discussion. My proposal is adaptable to different methods of selecting parliamentarians to the House of Commons and Senate. Members of either the Commons or Senate could be elected by the citizens of Canada, appointed officially by the Governor-General, or selected through some other method such as being chosen by their provincial premiers or legislatures. If the members of Parliament are elected by the citizens, the election of members can be decided by the current first-past-the-post system or some proposed form of proportional representation.

11. Should the Senators be chosen at the same or different times from the members of the House of Commons?

If voters elect Senators and members of the House of Commons at the same time, the average difference in percentage of seats that each party would receive in the two chambers of Parliament would be about 2½ percent with a maximum difference of about five percent. Even though the distribution of seats for each province/territory in the House of Commons and Senate would be different, each party would receive about the same percentage of seats nationally.
The differences in seat distribution percentages may become greater if members of each chamber are chosen in different election periods rather than simultaneously.

Conclusion

My proposal to reform the decision making process in Canada's parliament will modify the distribution of seats within the House of Commons based on population of each province and territory. Within the Senate, the distribution of seats will be based on the square root of the population of each province and territory.

It ensures that bills on third reading will require the support of a majority of MPs over those opposed and in the Senate if needed. This will ensure that all bills will have the support of MPs representing a majority of Canadians.

It is flexible in offering a broader regional/linguistic endorsement of all bills. Bills will not only require the support of a majority of voting MPs, approval of these bills will also require the support of MPs who represent either regional or linguistic territorial communities. Flexibility is also ensured by either having the members of the House of Commons alone vote on bills, or have members in both the House of Commons and Senate vote separately on bills if the highest threshold of approval cannot be guaranteed within the House of Commons—approval required from a majority of voting MPs representing both a majority of provinces/territories and a majority of linguistic regions.

This proposal to reform the House of Commons and Senate is something Canadians should consider.
Here are some results based on my proposal (published on October 17, 2008).
http://skinnydips.blogspot.com/2008/10/could-reformed-house-of-commons-and.html



I am reposting this blog with a clickable link of my graph on the left side.

Last March, I posted a proposal to reform the House of Commons and Senate in Canada. My proposal would have a House of Commons with 330 seats apportioned by population of each province and territory and a Senate with 100 seats apportioned by the square-roots of the provincial and territorial populations. Half of the senators would be elected every three years.

Below is the distribution of seats for each party by province and territory in both the House of Commons and Senate. For the Senate I used both the 2006 and 2008 election results to represent a rolling Senate with half of the Senators being elected every three years.

If you cannot click on the image to get the results, here are the highlights:

House of Commons seats by proportional representation:

Conservative: 130
Liberal: 88
NDP: 61
Bloc Québécois: 31
Green: 20

Total: 330
Majority: 166

Senate Seats:

Conservative: 43
Liberal: 29
NDP: 21
Bloc Québécois: 7
Green: 0

Total: 100
Majority: 51

The Conservatives would be able to form a coalition with either the Liberals or NDP. They would be able to pass bills in both the House of Commons and Senate. There would be little or no Senate paralysis that some nay-sayers of Senate reform might indicate. The only difference in the Senate is that there might be a more regional examination of some issues by the Senators in their committees.

I would like to note that the Green Party would have a difficult time getting seats in the Senate because the Senate is a smaller chamber than the House of Commons. Also, if elections for Senate seats were decided provincially/territorially rather than nationally, and if half of Senators were elected, the Green Party would need to achieve about 20 percent of the vote in a province to get a Green candidate elected to the Senate. Unfortunately, an elected Senate with Senators elected by some form of proportional representation would not be kind to parties that receive a very small number of votes. I would still consider the Green Party to be a micro-party. As a consolation prize, the Greens would have 20 out of 330 MPs in the House of Commons under my proposal.

Some of you may prefer a Triple-E Senate or some other distribution model. Others may want the Senate abolished. I just wish to point to you reading this blog-post that it is possible to have an elected Senate to coincide with an elected House of Commons that can function well with each other. The Senate will not paralyze the work of the House of Commons.

Let's reform both the House of Commons and Senate.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

First, they fought against the Negroes

In the 1950's and 60's, the American right fought against equal rights for African-Americans.

In the 1970's and 80's, the American right fought against women's rights including the right to have an abortion.

In the 1990's and early 2000's, the American right fought against rights for gays and lesbians.

Now, the American right is fighting against public health insurance. Why? Perhaps public health insurance will benefit some people who can't afford private health care--people such as African-Americans, women, gays and lesbians.

Here is someone's letter to the editor of the Toronto Star to add to my thoughts.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Heading to Ottawa and Montreal for the weekend

Yours truly will be in Ottawa on Thursday and Friday and will be in Montreal on Saturday and Sunday. Maybe I will see President Obama buy a beavertail in the Byward Market in Ottawa. Wish me luck. Maybe former President Clinton will make a surprise visit. I know he will be visiting Toronto sometime soon.

I'm going to enjoy my four day vacation. If I see any polar bears, I'll let James Morton know.

Skinny Dipper

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009

If you want to see Obama's bill on health care reform, click here (pdf document). It is 1017 pages long but probably shorter than a Harry Potter novel.

Section 401 on page 167 deals with a tax on individuals without acceptable health coverage. It amounts to 2.5% of annual of gross income. There is some legalese which you may wish to help translate into plain English. There are some exemptions for people paying this tax. They include non-resident aliens (i.e. Canadians visiting Disney World), US citizens living outside the country, and US citizens living in possessions of the United States such as Puerto Rico, Guam, and possibly the prison at Guantanamo Bay. I don't think this section means that illegal immigrants/ undocumented aliens are going to get free health care. They, like Canadians visiting Disney World, will need to pay out-of-pocket for their health care while in the US unless they hold insurance of some kind.

Here is a link to an explanation of the health care reform bill simplified from NowPublic.

Enjoy.

Sick for Profit (Video)



Link: Sick for Profit

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Thanks Pample the Moose for a great PB party

I would like to thank Pample the Moose for a great afternoon party at his home. Both he and Matthew were great hosts. There were quite a few people in attendance including Guelph Liberal MP Frank Valeriote, former Green Party leader Jim Harris, and Senator Elaine McCoy. It was great seeing no one live-blogging or twittering the afternoon fête. Everyone was friendly and we all agreed that Vijay Sappani would be hosting the event next summer. Vijay doesn't know his hosting duties for next summer yet as he was unable to attend this year's event.

Thanks again to M&M for keeping the rain away from their backyard.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Brief thought: health care and race

When I watch CNN and see mostly white Americans heckling at town-hall meetings on health care, I wonder if the main issue is about health or race.

Just a thought.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

If political parties were stores, what would they be?

When I drive or take transit through Toronto, I wonder which store each political party would resemble.

The Conservative Party is Canadian Tire. Assistant Manager, Jason Kenney, has got some ethnic person standing inside the front entrance ready to ask you if you want a Canadian Tire/Conservative credit card. You want to get away from this person as fast as possible. Heck, I've entered the store through the exit just so I can avoid the annoying credit card person. When I need help, there is no one to assist me. The employees are too busy following their manager's instructions to keep stocking those shelves. When I've got my goods, I head to the cash registers and pick the one with the shortest line. There are only two open. The shortest line is also the slowest because the cashier can't operate the optical scanner and an old lady who is ahead of me in line is spending ten minutes counting $19.99 in change when she clearly has a $20 bill in her purse. Canadian Tire does have a loyal following of old people who like to hold up the cash register line.

The Liberals are Zellers that is run by people who would rather shop at the Bay. There's something for almost everyone. However, there's always comparisons between Zellers and its magnificent American competitor: Wal-Mart.

The NDP is a cross between Home Hardware and The Source (formerly Radio Shack). Its party élite probably shop at Zellers. Some shop at the Bay.

The Green Party is Mountain Equipment Co-op. MEC is active in the major cities. They'll never beat Canadian Tire for common camping equipment. However, its higher priced enviro-friendly status symbol camping equipment make Greens feel good about themselves as they trounce around the paths of the world spreading their message of keeping our carbon footprints as small as possible.

I can't figure out the Bloc Québécois. Aidez-moé. What store would the Bloc be?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The hidden rules of society

I think Harvard Professor Mr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. understood the hidden rules of society when he was arrested for disorderly conduct by a Cambridge, Massachussets police officer.

Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Mistaken Identity - Season 1, Episode 6, part 1.



Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Mistaken Identity - Season 1, Episode 6, part 2.



Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Mistaken Identity - Season 1, Episode 6, part 3.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Your choice for mayor of Toronto

Who would you like as mayor of Toronto? You may select by using the link above. This is an STV or AV style poll where you get to rank your preferences 1, 2, 3, and so on. The poll is unofficial. If you live outside of Toronto, you may vote in this poll because I can't stop your internet signal from crossing Steeles Avenue into Toronto. If you can vote more than once, again I can't stop you.

Have fun.

Mayor of Toronto in 2010

Saturday, July 18, 2009

My refugee streamlining proposal

I personally think that most refugee applicants to Canada can be processed between 48 to 72 hours (not including weekends and holidays). Here is what I would propose:

When a refugee applicant arrives at an airport or another port of entry, the applicant will be interviewed by an immigration officer who will record all the details provided by the applicant.

If the immigration officer determines that the applicant has a credible case for refugee status he/she may release the applicant into Canada. Within 48 to 72 hours, that applicant will need to present his/her case in front of a two-person refugee board who will decide on the case. If the applicant convinces one of the two board members, that applicant will be admitted as a refugee because at least two of the three people (an immigration officer and one board member) who will have heard the applicant will have approved the applicant's admission.

If the immigration officer determines that the applicant does not have a credible case for refugee status, he/she may recommend deportation. If the applicant agrees to leave, the file is closed. If the applicant disagrees, the immigration officer may detain the applicant to be held at the nearest immigration facility. Within 48 to 72 hours, the applicant will present his/her case in front of a two-person refugee board who will decide on the case. The applicant will need to convince both board members in order to be admitted as a refugee because the immigration officer was originally not convinced of the applicant's claim.

If a visitor who has already entered Canada legally decides to apply for refugee status, he/she will have his/her case heard by a two-person refugee board. The refugee applicant will need to convince both members in order to be admitted to Canada as a refugee.

Statistically, it would be better for a person to apply for refugee status as at a port of entry. The odds of receiving refugee status would be 50% as three people would ultimately determine one's status (YYY, YYN, YNY, NYY, YNN, NYN, NNY, NNN). By applying after entry, the applicant will only have a statistical 25% success rate (YY, YN, NY, NN).

An unsuccessful applicant can appeal a board's decision. The applicant will need to remember that he/she may remain or be detain until the appeal has be decided.

At any time an applicant can end a refugee claim and leave Canada voluntarily.

In the case of a Roma from the Czech Republic applying for refugee status, If I were an immigration officer or refugee board member, I would ask the applicant why he or she didn't just move to another Schengen agreement EU country as the international borders are open among Schengen countries. If the applicant could not convince me that he/she would face persecution in the other Schengen countries, I would reject the claim.

I think these steps would help cut down on the number of refugee claims from the Czech Republic and Mexico. We should be able to restore visa-free travel by Czech and Mexican citizens to Canada.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Canada imposes visa requirements on Czech and Mexican citizens

Starting at 12 midnight, the Canadian government will be imposing visas on citizens of the Czech Republic and Mexico. Wasn't there a country 20 years ago called Mexoslovakia? Just kidding. Canada will be requiring visas because these two countries are the two highest for refugee claimants in Canada. I do know that most claimants from the Czech Republic are from the minority Roma community.

While I can speak about Mexico, I have travelled to the Czech Republic. I think it's a great country. I have been in Prague/Praha and the smaller cities such as Cesky Tesin, Hradec Karlove, Jablonec nad Nisou, Liberec, and Cheb. The last city has lots of prostitutes who are mostly Roma. The other cities are very beautiful; the people are reserved but nice.

I just hope that the Czech Republic or the European Union countries do not slap visa requirements on Canadians. I don't think Mexico will impose visa requirements on Canadians. It needs our tourist dollars.
Top photo: Zittau, Germany on far side of the Neisse River. Czech Republic on front left side of ditch. Poland on the right.
Middle photo: Jirikov, Czech Republic on other side of gate. Not seen: Ebersbach, Germany. Watch out for the cigarette cops when returning to Germany.
Lower photo: Evil Italian border guard chickens in Gorizia, Italy. They scratch, then ask questions. Photo taken on the Slovenian side of the fence in Nova Gorica. I thought I would throw in this photo for fun.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Thanks Don Newman for your many years in broadcasting

All the best to you, Don, in your retirement. CBC Newsworld's Politics was a great show with you as host. I'm sure Canadians will be seeing you again on the television once in a while.

Thank you, Don.

Skinny Dipper

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Canadians should thank the prime minister and the leader of the opposition

Thank you, thank you! You two make Canada great!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Who's more American and less Canadian?

I like this letter to the editor that mentions Michael Ignatieff and Stephen Harper: Toronto Star.

Friday, June 12, 2009

"This parade ought not to be politicized ... we're disappointed."

Bernie Farber doesn't want Toronto's Pride Parade to be politicized.

From the Toronto Sun:

Jewish groups are outraged that the Toronto Pride Parade could be hijacked by anti-Semitic protesters.


And the Canadian Jewish Congress has asked parade participants to lobby against the colourful and popular event becoming a venue to attack Israel.


Organizers have angered some Jewish groups by letting Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA) be among the 164 registered groups in the Sunday, June 28 parade.


Jewish groups say the parade included growing anti-Israeli sentiment in recent years and accuse Toronto lawyer El Farouk Khaki, the 2009 parade marshal, of being anti-Semitic.


He did not return a call to the Sun last night.


But Pride Toronto executive director Tracey Sandilands said Khaki was elected parade marshal in a majority vote -- honoured for "humanitarianism" and helping many gay refugees get into Canada. "We're thrilled to have him."


She said Khaki assured her he won't express political views as parade marshal.


"This parade ought not to be politicized ... we're disappointed," Bernie Farber, Canadian Jewish Congress CEO, said last night.


"It's a pretty sad story that the Pride Parade, a highlight of the summer which invites people to come out and show pride in their identity, includes heavy-duty, very intense political debate," he said.


"It's very sad that even fun has to be political," he said.


The issue of Israel's status in the Middle East has led to "very hostile, vicious kinds of debates, where Jews and Israelis are accused of being racists," he said. "When you suggest Israel is an apartheid state, you're saying they are racists."


Sandilands said QuAIA participated in last year's parade unofficially, registered to join this year's 5-km march, and includes some Jews.


Its website says QuAIA seeks "to reignite Toronto's queer community in the fight" to brand Israel's occupation of Palestine as apartheid, opposing its promotion as "a tolerant, queer-positive democracy."


Instead of legal action, Farber said the congress wants gays to tell parade officials "it is not a political event."


Sandilands said QuAIA's admission was debated by organizers and their lawyer.


Pride Toronto's mandate is to organize a variety of Pride Week events, not exclude anyone except if they break laws, she said.


"We serve a very diverse community ... the last thing we can do is take the side of one group against the other," Sandilands said. "You're entitled to voice your opinions as long as you don't step over the anti-discrimination policy and hate laws."


Parade marshals, whose ranks were increased from 25 to 80, will watch for harassment and unregistered infiltrators, who pose an "insurance liability" risk, she told the Sun. Even anti-gay groups would be permitted, except for "racist, sexist or homophobic" behaviour.


She said a pro-Israeli group expressed concerns, and a worried pro-Israeli team was promised a parade position far from QuAIA.


IAN.ROBERTSON@SUNMEDIA.CA


I could accept that the Pride Parade should not be politicized so long as the Walk for Israel, too, is not politicized in any way.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

I went to Desi-fest in Toronto today

I went to downtown Toronto to do some shopping at and near the Eaton Centre. While I took a break from my shopping, I went to the south-east corner of Yonge and Dundas and enjoyed some of the Desi-fest festivities. I saw a children's dance performance, a singer, a McMaster dance group, and 12 drummers drumming. I didn't see 11 pipers piping or ten lords-a-leaping. The McMaster group was really great with their leaping! I didn't count if there were ten performers in their group. Several of the groups that I heard either sang or danced to songs that had a contemporary techno-Indo beat.

I did savour some Tandoori chicken and rice. The chicken tasted great, but not as great as Vijay Sappani's wife's Tandoori chicken that I enjoyed at Vijay and his wife's home at last year's Progressive Bloggers gathering.

Vijay did mention to his friends that he would be attending Desi-fest. Unfortunately, I didn't get to see him. Maybe next year I will.

The weather was great and there were lots of people. I think it was great that many of the attendees came from various South Asian and non-South Asian backgrounds. It was a Toronto event that was enjoyed by those who were there.

Thanks Vijay for informing me about Desi-fest. I had a great day!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

CRTC reports and local television: Help me translate into plain everyday English

I am looking at some CRTC reports about the state of television. When I hear about how broadcast companies need help by getting the cable and satellite companies to pay for carriage of local stations, I wonder why. If I interpret some of the information found in the CRTC reports, specialty channels are gaining in revenue while the on-air (terrestrial) stations are stagnating. Local television news is facing a couple of challenges. People, especially young people, are watching less television. Also, the CBC is increasing resources to provide better local news production. Both of these will cut into the revenues that the private stations get from airing the local news.

If someone could help me interpret some of the information found in these reports, that would be great!

http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/publications/reports/rp090123.htm

http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/publications/reports/PolicyMonitoring/2008/cmr2008.htm

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Local television: "It's the plus and plus, if the minuses are played correctly"

CTV and the A-Channels are holding public open houses and community events in order to get the locals to believe that they need to help save local television. I just looked at my Rogers TV guide and noticed with CFTO-TV Toronto and CKCO-TV Kitchener that the only differences in scheduling are the one-hour suppertime news at 6 p.m. and the late evening news at 11:30. That's only one and a half hours of local programming today (Saturday). On the weekdays, there is an extra hour of lunchtime local news. Wow. Local programming is 10.42% of the daily weekday schedule. And it's all news programming.

If you want to see what local programming was like, what this news story about the former Tiny Talent Time show from CHCH-TV Hamilton:



Here's a piece from the 1970's show, WKRP in Cinninatti. I know the content is not exactly related to the so-called fight for local program. However, I do get the feeling that CTV is trying to shift its plusses and minuses in order to maximize the benefits for itself. It's using the campaign to support local television as a way to gain more revenue. Cue to 2:30:



Update: Perhaps we need less local television. See video with station info. at the end:



Another update: If you didn't read my first blog about the local television campaign, click the link.

Another update again: The Tyee has a great blogpost about how the "local" A-Channel in Victoria, BC missed covering the provincial election--especially the local races. Instead, the A-Channel ran American programs.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I know I am an energy waster when,,,

...it's 20 degrees Celsius outside, my portable heater, air-conditioner, and electric fan (which is blowing toward the wall) are all running at the same time in my apartment. The window is open next to my wall-mounted air conditioner.

Me bad.

Help Save Local Television! Cough-cough!

CTV wants you to contact your local MP in order to save local television from the greedy cable and satellite companies.

"I agree that cable and satellite companies should pay for the signals they distribute." That's an email that you can send to you local MP with a carbon copy being sent to Heritage Minister James Moore, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and CTV.

I used to work for a broadcast company several years ago. I enjoyed my time working in Toronto and if I could do it again, I would. I would just prefer 9-5 working shifts. That's not usually possible in 24 hour television.

I won't talk about my former employer. That would be unethical and perhaps illegal due to confidentiality requirements. However, with all these media mergers, I'm not sure if I can avoid it.

If you have a cable or satellite package that allows you to get television stations that come from most major cities in Canada, you will notice that on many of the local stations, the programming is the same. For example on CTV, one will see the exact same programs aired at exactly the same time in Ontario on different stations such as Toronto, Kitchener, Ottawa, and Sudbury. The only thing different is the supper-time and late evening news programs. During the day, when you are watching Oprah, you will notice that each segment airs at exactly the same time. The only difference is when the commercials come on, local spots are inserted. The master control room, where programs and commercials are aired, comes from Toronto. One master control operator can operate all the stations for Ontario. Thanks to automation, the programs and commercials go to air without the operator lifting a finger. He or she does have an important job when the automation fails. That doesn't usually happen.

Many years ago when I lived in northern Ontario, there were the local CTV stations in Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie, North Bay, and Timmins which had their own daytime programming and each one aired their own news programs. That was in the era when the rabbit ears ruled the earth and everyone was happy to get two television stations plus the French Radio Canada which no one watched except for the Montreal Canadiens hockey games. CBC English in Ontario usually aired the Toronto Maple Leafs. What's new? During the expansion of cable and satellite television, CTV consolidated the news programs and converted the news centres into news bureaus for a regional suppertime and late evening program coming from Sudbury. All other local programming was dropped. Remember the commercials in most of Ontario are now aired from Toronto.

CTV and I assume other private broadcasters want cable and satellite companies to pay to provide local over the air stations on their services. This seems interesting except as I mentioned previously, CTV has gutted local programming over the years that there is very little of it to maintain.

Do I think private broadcasters deserve fair compensation? Yes, I do. Do I think they deserve to receive money from the cable and satellite companies this time? No, I don't. If I remember correctly from my time working at the broadcast company, cable/satellite-only stations such as TSN and Showcase are allowed to air eight minutes of commercials every hour. Note: promotions for Canadian shows do not count as commercial time. Over the air stations are allowed to air about 12 minutes of commercials every hour. The CRTC licencing requirements will be different for each station. The over the air stations can air an extra four minutes of commercials every hour. Private broadcasters want the cable and satellite companies to pay an extra charge for providing these stations to their customers. As we all know...

...we, the customers, pay in the end.

For information: http://savelocal.ctv.ca/

Monday, May 18, 2009

Le Petit Nicolas Sarkozy--the film

If you ever wondered what French President Nicolas Sarkozy was like when he was un petit garçon, the movie is being released to the public on September 30 in France.






Le Petit Nicolas (Little Nicholas) is a series of books that contain short stories about a fictional boy named Nicolas (Nicholas). The first book was published in 1959.



Below is a trailer of the film, Le Petit Nicolas. No, it is not based on the life of little Nicolas Sarkozy. The kid in the movie seems too sweet.

En français:

Happy Queen Vixen Day!

Happy 2-4 and all that other crap!

On this weekend holiday, I am proud to claim that I am a proud monarchist--so long as the king is I.

Prime Minister Stephan Harper complains about Czar Ignatieff being outside Canada for 30 friggin' years. He should complain about that Queen Lizzard Beth for being out for 57 years. That's only counting the years she's been our dairy queen.

Anyway, starting next week, I am going to be your king.

Here's a rap poem I made up. You better like my poem because I will be your tyrant king and chop off your heads if you don't like it.

King Skinny D
Walks down the street,
In his emperor's robe,
as proud as can be.

The people rejoice.
They bow and curtsy to the roy.
From the crowd comes a voice
Of a tiny-little boy.

"King Skinny D,
You're a proud man to be
Showing for all to see
Your free willy, tee hee hee!"

Was the king embarrassed?
Should he run really fast?
No, he knew he was better.
He was a trendsetter.

The people walked with the king.
They threw off everything.
A king must always be cool,
Or else people will see him as a fool.