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Babel-on-the-Bay: The shifting sands of Quebec federal politics.

It is important to listen when the Toronto Star’s Chantal Hébert discusses what is happening politically in Quebec. You sometimes get the impression that she is so caught up with the nuances of the Quebec angst that she fails to open her mind to possible results. Take the demise of the Bloc Québécois for example. The writer frets over who will inherit the votes if there is no acceptable separatist option available.

Has Ms. Hébert considered that the first option this small group of malcontents might contemplate is to vote for the Conservatives? They would achieve as much as voting (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Why would you force people to vote?

It is one of those silly ideas that surface every once in a while. Someone notices how low the turnout of voters is at elections. They get all concerned and say, “We must get more people to vote.” Why?

Some even suggest that there should be fines for people who do not make it to the polls. Do you really want people to go and take their pique out on the politicians? ‘Leave sleeping dogs lie’ is more than just an aphorism. It is good advice. It can save people from being bitten.

There is the story from many (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Considering the alternatives to Trudeau.

Will Justin Trudeau make a great prime minister? Not likely. Is he better than the alternatives? You bet. There is something of a debate in the household these days about a forthcoming event for Mr. Trudeau in September. We might just use the $300 it would cost for two of us to attend to stock up on Kraft Dinner. There is a long cold winter coming.

You would think at her age, the wife would hardly be gaga about Justin’s good looks. She liked the father too. While Pierre Trudeau was hardly as good looking, he was certainly a lot (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: The Hair’s annual northern holiday.

We Canadians seem to enjoy our regular getaways but the Hair beats us all. How many times is this now that the Hair and his hairdresser and his wife have headed for the Arctic during the dog days of the Ottawa summer? Sure, it guarantees full coverage by the servile news media—that has nothing else to report on. It also saves the Hair the tedium of talking to other dull Conservatives on the political barbeque circuit.

Just think of how much money Canadians could save if those scenic sets he goes to could just be blown up pictures in the (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Michael Chong, the MP from naϊveté.

No, Naϊveté is not an electoral district in Quebec. The Hon. Michael Chong is the Member of Parliament for the Ontario riding of Wellington-Halton Hills. What Mr. Chong has not done is endear himself to his Conservative Party Leader Stephen Harper. He left Mr. Harper’s cabinet over what he likely perceived as its pandering to Quebec separatists. He has further distanced himself from his leader by promoting a private member’s bill to give MPs the power to remove the leader of their party. What Michael Chong has really done is annoy members of all three major political parties in Canada.

(Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Premier Wynne should not toy with Quebec.

It seemed an unfortunate heading given to a story in The Toronto Star the other day. The heading was “Wynne toys with buying more Quebec electricity.” The headline editor must have been very impressed that the two lines of the headline were balanced but the connotation was unfortunate. This is not a question with which anyone wants to ‘toy.’

And the absolutely worst basis for this discussion is as a customer. To approach Hydro Quebec, hat in hand, as a customer is entirely wrong. Ontario and Quebec are the two oldest and largest members of the Canadian confederation. (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Liberals playing stupid numbers game.

It makes sense that you would not waste your good ideas a year before the election but nobody wants to play the numbers game. It is just that the last thing that voters care about is how many seats you might win a year from now. And it sounds very naïve to tell reporters that Canadians want a stable, strong government. It was with that banality that Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau wrapped up the Liberal’s Edmonton caucus meeting this past week.

It seems like a terrible waste of time and money to put the caucus on display in not so (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Do nothing, deny everything.

One of the less endearing qualities of Conservatives is that they are never responsible for anything. To a lesser extent, Liberals often follow suit. Luckily for New Democrats, they get few opportunities to show their incompetence. The only reason the Conservatives are best at being irresponsible is that, with them, it is an ideological trait.

Take the scene the other day when Transport Minister Lisa Rait blamed everyone except the government for the Lac-Mégantic rail disaster last year. The Transportation Safety Board reported that there were 18 different factors that came together to cause the deaths of 47 people. The (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Finding fair and impartial Conservatives.

We have discovered why the federal government cannot find enough people to adjudicate on its Social Security Tribunal. Murielle Brazeau, Chair of the tribunal, explains on its web site that the tribunal is fair, transparent and impartial. That must be why the Conservatives cannot find more people. There must be a limited supply of fair and impartial people among Canada’s Conservatives. There used to be about 1000 people working part time for Employment Insurance, Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security. The new tribunal serving the three agencies is trying to do the job with less than 70 people.

And (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: The political expendables also serve.

While it is never wise to disagree with a judge, we hope the superior court justice who tried the case goes easy on the kid blamed for the Guelph Robocalls. As much as you agree with how reprehensible the act might be, letting the perpetrators of the crime pick the scapegoat is not justice.

When the Prime Minister can throw his chief of staff under the bus at the hint of possible legal action, you know that nobody is safe in politics. It is the way the system works and nobody should be proud of it. It leaves us without (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Is Justin Trudeau peaking too soon?

With at least 14 months to go before the expected federal election, you would be wise to hold off placing bets. And it has little to do with the pollsters who see Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau leapfrogging his way ahead of both Prime Minister Stephen Harper and New Democrat Leader Thomas Mulcair. It is the people running the Liberal campaign that have us worried.

The one thing you can count on over the next year is that the strategic plan necessary for the Liberals to win is going to have to change at least three times. The first change will (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Fraser Institute spreads alarm on taxes.

There was a news flash from the Calgary based Fraser Institute the other day. Researchers there found that the tax portion of the income of an average Canadian family had gone up more than any other necessary expenditure since 1961. As the Fraser Institute only sends out tax information to convince people they are overtaxed, they left out some of the most interesting information.

When you consider what we got for our tax money in 1961, there is no surprise that we are paying more today. The Canada Pension Plan and Medicare are just two very major components of today’s (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Bad math trumps bad science in bitumen battles.

Following the battle over bitumen is like following a small car full of clowns. You never know what will happen next. The latest on bitumen is that a study published in the U.S. science journal Nature Climate Change has claimed that the U.S. State Department figures on greenhouse gasses from the Keystone XL pipeline are wrong. The authors are saying that greenhouse gasses emissions estimated by the State Department were underestimated by a factor of about four times.

What you might remember is that we humans are pumping some billions of metric tonnes of carbon into the earth’s (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: The Hair that roared.

For Prime Minister Harper is the Hair. Hear him roar! Can the Hair not roar at the Russian bear? Can the Hair not send a token planeload of supplies to aid the Ukraine in its efforts to assert control over its own country? Can the Hair not stand foursquare behind Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu as children and non-combatants continue to die in Gaza? It says it all when the American president calls responsible countries together to resolve world problems and nobody thinks to invite Canada.

The difference is that the American President is doing his job while the Canadian Prime (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: When the bitumen bubble bursts.

The last time Canada had a real leader, it was Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. The least understood and the most vilified of the actions he took on behalf of Canadians was the National Energy Program (NEP) of 1980. It was an attempt to ensure Canadian control, self-sufficiency and sharing of oil resources. It was never an attack on Alberta’s wild ride on oil revenues but a reasoned proposal to protect those resources for all Canadians. The problem today is that when the bitumen bubble bursts it is going to take down Stephen Harper, Thomas Mulcair and Justin Trudeau from their (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: The dystopia of the CRTC.

One of our favourite movies from the 1930s was the British-made H.G. Wells Things to come. The movie starring Canadian Raymond Massey was considered dystopian at the time as it was the opposite of utopian in a pre-War II world. And yet it was the immediacy of the televised images in the advanced world shown that helped create the chaos at the film’s end. The body that seems to be encouraging that chaotic immediacy of television in Canada today is the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).

And it is in the interest of furthering changes in how Canadians view (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Babel Conservatives have a candidate.

You have to admit, the Conservative Party of Canada makes it look easy. You want a Conservative candidate for the coming federal election? You get one appointed from Ottawa. It could not be simpler. No fuss, no muss, no lawsuits, not like the Liberal Party.

Our new federal riding of Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte has a home-grown young nebbish ready and willing to be the popular choice to go to Ottawa to and do nothing. It’s something of a tradition with Babel Conservatives. They were all weaned on Gilbert and Sullivan’s song on how you get to be ruler of the Queen’s Navy. (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Inquiring minds want to know.

The American penny dreadful National Enquirer must have been named before Fowler’s Modern English Usage encouraged people to say ‘inquire’ for asking and ‘enquire’ for an investigation. Or maybe not. Nobody cares about the proper use of English anymore.

But something that caught our attention last week still has us puzzled. Why would the Department of National Defence be the biggest spender in the Canadian government in doing research into the opinions of Canadians? It is bothersome. One rarely thinks of our National Defence Headquarters staff of having enquiring or even inquiring minds.

Are we finding out with whom Canada (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: The lies we sew come back to haunt.

Having at one time tried swimming off the government dock at Cold Lake, Alberta, we can assure you that the lake is accurately named, year ‘round. There is not much in the way of entertainments around the air base located near by and it did not take many ‘Dare yah’s’ to get young airmen to jump into that frigid water. Nobody could stay in for long.

But now we find they found a use for some of that water. A company called Canadian Natural Resources Limited is reported to be using a technology that involves heating water to steam and (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: We need a broader ‘Do Not Annoy’ list.

If we can have a ‘do not call’ list, why can we not have a do-not-mail list? It does no good to put a ‘no-junk mail’ admonition on your mailbox but even if Canada Post is not very automated, surely it can handle a ‘Do not mail’ list. All we really need is to eliminate the junk mail from our Member of Parliament.

If it was ordinary junk mail all you have to do is sort your mail near your blue box. To-day, with electronic billing, you rarely get bills and even the government uses direct deposit instead of cheques. (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Conservatives inciting to hatred.

Those Harper Conservatives really know how to turn up the rhetoric! First of all some dimwit thought it would be appropriate to have a rally in support of Israel on the lawn at Queen’s Park. The participants would have been smarter to stay in their comfortable rocket-free homes in Toronto and buy more Israeli bonds.

But you can hardly have a rally at Queen’s Park without greetings from the Prime Minister (of Canada?). Sure, Prime Minister Harper has never seen a mob he disliked. To be safe though, he sent Toronto MP John Carmichael to read an incendiary letter. (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: The real Tragedy in the Commons are the MPs.

By the time you finish reading Alison Loat’s book for the Samara Institute Tragedy in the Commons you are in a state of despair. You wonder why collectively these former Members of Parliament who were interviewed for the book ever ran for office. Eager or reluctant, they chose their own road to perdition. And yet, in leaving parliament, they had much to say about what is wrong but little to say about how we can fix the growing problems with our political system in Canada.

The concept of the book is something like asking weevils to explain how to restore (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Conservatives are covering their causes.

There must be an election due in the next year. Why else would the Harper government minions be running around in the heat of the summer pandering to Conservative interest groups? Take the inappropriately labelled Public “Safety” Minister Steven Blaney, for example. He showed up at a Northern Ontario gun club the other day to announce convenient changes in the rules for happy gun owners. These changes might make some sense in such a remote rural setting but he should try to explain his changes to people at Dundas and Yonge Streets in Toronto.

But you have to admit, the (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Political parties never die. They merge.

Some of our kindly readers have send notes asking what happened to Babel-on-the-Bay’s forecast in May of the immanent demise of the Ontario New Democrats. Yes, there were some brazen forecasts of such departure and logically we could show you where we were right and where we might have been blind-sided.

But the truth of the matter is that the New Democrats in Ontario have nowhere to go. The provincial election tore the heart out of the NDP in Toronto. The Windsor area Liberals might have been more pissed than we realized but you can hardly run around the province (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Yes, charities can harangue governments.

There is nothing new about charity chill. No party in power wants to be harangued about what they are doing wrong. Mind you the Conservative government has definitely gone overboard in forcing Canada Revenue Agency to conduct expensive audits of charitable organizations that annoy the government.

Over thirty years ago, the Liberal government of the time was also threatening charities. As the then head of a major health agency, some of our board of directors were quite concerned that we might be going too far in defying government edicts about lobbying. This presented a problem when Finance Minister Marc Lalonde (Read more…)