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Babel-on-the-Bay: Would they also kill the first-born?

It seems many liberals were outraged when somebody suggested that we only accept Syrian women with children as refugees. Now we find out that fathers are included. Maybe we should be concerned about the Pharaoh’s troops going out to kill the first-born? That is the kind of fear that has been exhibited across North America […] . . . → Read More: Babel-on-the-Bay: Would they also kill the first-born?

Babel-on-the-Bay: Can the provinces keep the money?

It seems that the point has been made about climate change: Industry can destroy the environment if they pay a tax on it. And that is why the provinces are so eager to cooperate with the Trudeau government. It is all determined by who gets the money. It makes you wonder how the federal government […] . . . → Read More: Babel-on-the-Bay: Can the provinces keep the money?

Babel-on-the-Bay: Is the media the measure?

Commentator Chantal Hébert worries that Justin Trudeau lacks the gravitas of former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien. Thomas Walkom fears Trudeau is out of touch with the world leaders who have decided Russia’s Putin is a good guy after all. And we discussed Rosie DiManno yesterday who thinks Justin is juvenile. And those people write for […] . . . → Read More: Babel-on-the-Bay: Is the media the measure?

Babel-on-the-Bay: Don’t have a cow DiManno.

Toronto Star writer Rosie DiManno is the reason better publications have the best editors. And the reason many people do not waste their time on her stuff is that the writing is excessive and pedantic. She must be one of the last newspaper writers around who thinks the one who writes the most words wins. […] . . . → Read More: Babel-on-the-Bay: Don’t have a cow DiManno.

Babel-on-the-Bay: Canada’s new PM is entitled to a victory lap.

When the victor in a gruelling race gets up from the finish line and gamely trots around the track one more time, nobody begrudges them their victory lap. It is the honour of the victor. It is the same with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. He did what only some of realized he could do. He […] . . . → Read More: Babel-on-the-Bay: Canada’s new PM is entitled to a victory lap.

Babel-on-the-Bay: Marc Garneau blots his copy book.

Why is it the people you like who can really screw things up? And what could be a safer job for MP Marc Garneau than Minister of Transport? You would think the former astronaut and head of Canada’s space agency would have more smarts than to pander to the juvenile audience on Twitter. You would also think he would understand the biased opinion of Toronto MP Adam Vaughan and use some discretion.

Marc was acting more like you would expect from the Harper government than a new broom that Justin Trudeau promises.

Decisions about Toronto’s Billy Bishop Airport on Toronto (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: No pirouettes for Justin.

There will be no pirouettes to mock the Queen when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stops over in London to meet the Queen on his way to the Malta meeting of the G-20. Justin Trudeau might be as ambivalent towards the Royals as his father was before him but he has no interest in rocking the constitutional boat in Canada. While Canada needs to rid the halls of Ottawa of the cloying smell of long dead Royals, it is not going to be done by Justin Trudeau in his first mandate.

Maybe it is easier for someone with Scots ancestry, such (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Advice for new (and old) politicians.

Interim Conservative Leader Rona Ambrose made her first mistake last weekend. It was in a reply to something Tom Clark asked her on his West Block show for Global Television. She started her answer with “Well look.” That was former Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s favourite phrase throughout his overly long farewell campaign. You knew that the answer following those words would be critical of the question and just more Conservative ideology.

And those words are actually filler that the speaker uses to give some time for preparing his or her thoughts. If you really need time to consider the (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Pick your preferred pollster.

They say that if you cannot beat them, you might as well join them. Obviously nobody has learned their lesson about pollsters. Through most of this past year, we had to put up with polling reports that seemed to have every federal politician except Elizabeth May in the Prime Minister’s role. Why do we listen to people who could not find an elephant in a telephone booth? (Oh damn. Kids today have never seen a telephone booth!)

Can you imagine a stupider way of doing polls than making automated telephone calls to random telephone numbers? How you tell whether (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: “You can’t get to Heaven on the Yonge Streetcar”

While the song might have had its origin in the U.S. Bible Belt, the guys in our Canadian Air Force barrack seemed to know at least a dozen verses, including the scatological. Mind you there were advantages for a kid who had been hauled by his mother through four-foot snow drifts in the morning of Toronto’s blizzard of 1944. It was a time before the Yonge Street subway but we were very relieved to find the old wooden Yonge Streetcars with their pathetic little coal stoves still running.

Mother was only two hours late getting to her war plant. (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: “It is your friends who bring you down.”

That headline was a casual comment by Susan Delacourt of the Toronto Star on Tom Clark’s West Block show on Global last Sunday. She was, of course, talking about politics. It was the old truism that in politics that you do not worry as much about your enemies because you keep them where you can see them. Danger lurks among the people behind you.

It is something that is always there in politics. Last week the “expert” from Toronto who came to take charge of the recount in Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte electoral district warned the scores of people supporting the Liberal candidate (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Practicing polite politics.

If there was a single fixed point of departure from the Harper era to the new Trudeau government, it would be in foreign affairs. The choice of former Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion was a clear criticism of Harper’s people and actions. And it all boils down to Dion being a gentleman.

If you know nothing else about Dion, you see him in action once and you know he is a refined, well-spoken, educated gentleman. He would never insult the leader of a country in the way that Stephen Harper insulted Russia’s Vladimir Putin. He would never place Canada in the (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Leave it in the ground says Obama.

President Barack Obama has finally let the shoe drop on the Keystone XL pipeline. His rejection of the partially built pipeline was expected. It is now the answer to many other pipeline proposals emanating from the tar sands of Alberta. Keystone XL was just the stalking horse.

What the American President said was that if we are intent on preserving this planet “We are going to have to keep some fossil fuels in the ground.” He was saying that the bitumen derived from the tar sands is too polluting to be used to make synthetic oil.

And the people (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Can this be Canada’s Camelot?

They came out into the sunlight from Rideau Hall. They are the 15 women and 16 men who now serve Canada. They sit at the Round Table of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. And who will ever forget that when asked why the equal number of men and women in his cabinet, Justin Trudeau replied, “Because it is 2015.”

In two years Canada will be 150 years in the making. In this year, it has moved forward a century. It has moved from an oligarchy towards a democracy. It is returning to its world citizenship, to peace and caring and (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Are Canada’s Conservatives worth saving?

Is the Conservative Party of Canada figuratively dusting itself off and saying, “We’ll do better next time?” If they are, they should ask themselves some key questions first. The simple question would be if you were studying history fifty years from now what would be said about the political experience of the last nine years?

Did Conservative ideology—or Stephen Harper ideology—serve Canadians well? Did we fair better financially? Were our rights and freedoms protected? Did Canada gain in prestige with other countries? Did we protect our environment? Do we have better relations with the United States? Did we make (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: The New Democrats will not lead us.

If the New Democratic Party (NDP) is expecting democratic renewal to be its saviour, it might have a very long wait. The party’s first problem is that democratic renewal is a cafeteria style lunch and you need to take some leafy green salad along with the starchy entrée. Balance is important. The second problem is how to convince the party in power to help move the ideas along. And finally there are the communications problems with Canadian voters. The NDP needs a large drawing board and lots of design help.

Let us say for example that the primary democratic renewal (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: A slippery slope for the Barrie Examiner.

Why do you get the feeling that the Barrie Examiner newspaper is like an over-age Junior-A hockey player due for his last trade? The newspaper currently sports identification of being part of both Sun Media (the previous Quebecor owner) and PostMedia (the new Toronto-based owner). Despite the various owners, the newspaper still appears to be impoverished, badly written and edited and an embarrassment to the City of Barrie.

In a discussion with another Barrie resident about the merits—or lack thereof—of the Examiner last week, the suggestion was made that we were setting the bar too high for this local publication. (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: A simple argument for first-past-the-post.

If there is no other reason for first-past-the-post (FPTP) voting it is that your Member of Parliament (MP or other elected person) represents your community, your neighbours and you. This is the single most prized advantage of FPTP voting. It uniquely individualizes government for the citizen. Our MP is our personal point of contact.

Political parties would much prefer that you only vote for the party. That way, you might carelessly elect the village idiot to parliament. And we do that occasionally. It is only embarrassing to us when others realize what an idiot the person is and blame the (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Democratic renewal has to start at the top.

If you think the Trudeau Liberals will push democratic renewal very far, you need to learn what politicians mean when they say they will study something. Admittedly the Liberals never dreamed they would go from third-party status to a majority government in a single election. It is why Leader Justin Trudeau made the slip of the tongue that this might be the last election in which Canadians use first-past-the-post voting. There might be more steps to that change than Justin Trudeau realizes and you best not bet heavily on it happening all that soon.

And the truth is that democratic (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: The small thinking of the railroader.

It was a long time ago. When heading to Montreal for an important luncheon, we heard the Toronto airport had problems and instead of going west to the airport, the route chosen was south to Toronto’s Union Station. With one more passenger comfortably seated in the club car, the train started for Montreal. It almost got to Guildwood station (at the eastern edge of Toronto) before it stopped and started backing up. It went all the way back through Union Station and into the freight yards and there it sat—for more than an hour.

Somewhat concerned about the delay, we (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: The Social Democratic opportunity.

New Democratic Party members have a rare opportunity over the next four years to create a political party for Canada’s future. They are uniquely based to change the NDP into Canada’s first social democratic party. It would be the kind of political party that the founders of the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) were really contemplating when they wrote the ill-conceived and inflammatory Regina Manifesto.

The 1960 creation of the New Democratic Party (NDP) stepped away from some of the socialist rhetoric of the Regina Manifesto but still clung to the class-struggle as the union movement became a dominant force in (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Bobbsey Baird is out; Is Bobbsey Kinney in?

This might be a last chance to write about the Bobbsey Twins of Canadian Conservatism. They are sure breaking up that old gang. Without the Hair to crack the whip over those sled dogs of his, they are scattering to the sounds of different drummers.

The first Bobbsey Twin John Baird has already left for the allure of anonymity in the private sector. And nobody cares how he spends his idle hours as he accepts the right directorships and consults for special billionaire friends. Would he have survived in his Ottawa area electoral district in the 2015 Liberal sweep? It (Read more…)

Mind Bending Politics: Canadian Charges Still In Force in the Amanda Todd Case

Recent media headlines have somewhat suggested that charges against the accused man that cyber-stalked Canadian teen Amanda Todd have been dropped. Most will remember the story of Amanda Todd. A Canadian teen who was harassed, extorted and bullied by a cyber stalker. Heart wrenching pleas for help to make the abuse go away were posted […] . . . → Read More: Mind Bending Politics: Canadian Charges Still In Force in the Amanda Todd Case

Babel-on-the-Bay: A return to the boredom.

Tom Clark’s West Block show on Global went back to its half-hour format last Sunday. Tom was away and it was a return to boredom. If we really wanted to be bored that much, we could have gone to church. Just look at the line up for the show on Sunday:

The first guest was the long-serving Ralph Goodale MP from Regina. Goodale is supposed to be a Liberal but seems to always get elected by reassuring his constituents that he is more fiscally conservative than either his Conservative or New Democrat opponents. Goodale did a typical political run-around of (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Where have all the pipelines gone?

Dan Gagnier of Justin Trudeau’s election team was the only person in the federal election campaign without the political smarts to stay away from pipeline questions. And the TransCanada people who asked Gagnier how to lobby a new government must have been impatiently stupid. There is plenty of time during the transition to the new government for questions such as that.

What is also stupid is the basic question of pipelines themselves. Canadian experience with pipelines for transmitting gas and crude oil long distances has been good. Sure, we have had some spills but gas and crude oil are known (Read more…)