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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…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Are bloggers lower than politicians?

There is an interesting facial reaction when you tell people you write a blog. Maybe the thing around the eyes is pity, at first. They then ask what you blog about. When you say politics, the nose definitely tilts up a bit and the forehead crinkles into a frown. They remain polite but quickly lose interest.

In reading Alison Loat’s compilation of the Samara Institute’s interviews with former politicians in the book Tragedy in the Commons, she notes that bloggers have been classed as something lower than politicians. It seems to be a casual observation. This blogger is still determining (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: And you think this is voter apathy?

There has been a flurry of concern lately about what people see as voter apathy. And when voter turnout in federal and provincial elections heads toward the 50 per cent levels, we should be worried. What is wrong is not that the first-past-the-post voting is wrong or that attack advertising is turning people off. What is wrong is the political parties are letting us down. They are not doing their job.

The other day in a discussion with a local riding president, the question was asked of him what was needed in his newly formed riding. His answer was that (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Finding the facts on prostitution.

Taking a poll on prostitution is probably the least helpful exercise by the government in assisting themselves and others to understand the issues. Top of mind response to polls can trivialize the topic. And that is what you get to telephone surveys. It is also why you get very different answers to the same questions in research focus groups.

In a group setting, skilled researchers can break down barriers to discussing the issues and then you can start getting thoughtful answers from people. Nobody in research work pretends that focus groups are representative of the total population. It just enables (Read more…)

reeves report: New evidence of Triclosan toxicity

Hand soaps containing triclosan and triclocarban. (Andrew Reeves/Reeves Report)

OTTAWA KNOWS that a common ingredient in antibacterial soaps is posing acute and chronic problems for human health and freshwater ecosystems but has done nothing to ban triclosan, according to environmental and consumer advocates.

But now there’s even more evidence against the toxin. The Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA) teamed up with Clean Production Action to test the environmental and human health impacts of triclosan and triclocarban. Both chemicals are found in everything from clothing and yoga mats to cutting boards, but are found most commonly in antibacterial hand soaps where (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: There are liars and damn liars.

The Woodrow Wilson Institute based at the Smithsonian in Washington is an honoured institution recognizing the only American President to have earned a PhD. It seems a shame that its name is being besmirched by the cant of the tar sands exploiters and the sham of Prime Minister Harper’s energy policy. This commentary is instigated by a Toronto Star opinion piece on July 17 saying Canada must diversify its energy pitch to the U.S. It is by Andrew Finn program associate at the Canada Institute of the Woodrow Wilson Institute.

The first (complex) sentence of the article is all (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: The best attack is self inflicted.

The Conservatives have been wasting a great deal of money on their attack advertising against the Liberal’s Justin Trudeau. What is missing in their strategy is that kernel of truth that is needed to make the attacks plausible. Being young is hardly a negative. Nor is brashness a bad trait. The Conservatives have had to wait until Justin Trudeau supplies that kernel.

The most recent example of a kernel such as this was supplied by Ontario Tory Leader Tim Hudak in the recent provincial election. He was doing fine with his extreme right-wing agenda going into the campaign. It was (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Prohibiting political parties!

People should be careful of what they wish. Now they want to abolish political parties. They make very serious complaints about them. Some of the complaints are quite valid. Some are just smoke. The only problem is that they need to think long and hard about what replaces them before they suggest a really stupid move.

Our favourite argument amongst the stupiditsia (the opposite of intelligentsia) is that municipal politics gets along just fine without political parties. Frankly, municipal politics would run much better if the political parties and their organizers were never allowed within a kilometre of city hall. (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Political polls past their prime.

Seen any political polls that you believe lately? If not, just wait, one to meet your bias will be along shortly. The only problem is that you have no trust in the sample, the methodology or the laughable chance that it might be right 19-out-of-20 times. It is not just our changing demographics, technology or attitudes as much as it is the inability of pollsters to read the information they do get and to ensure that it is properly explained to the intended audience.

Some of the best polling done in the past was based on voters’ lists from previous (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: A choice for Babel Conservatives.

The Babel Conservatives thought they had everything organized. When the Barrie riding was split, the south half of the city had lots of reliable conservative country voters from south of the city added. It was the same for Barrie’s north half. The new riding of Barrie, Springwater, Oro Medonte comes complete with its strong phalanx of rural conservatives. The political name for the process is called gerrymandering.

It should have been clear to the Conservative Party adherents when the Babel MP adopted his new running mate on whom he intended to bestow the new north riding. (He had already decided (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: In the ignominy of ignorance.

Can you imagine? At a time when a young man’s fancy is to indulge in a summer hockey camp, our Babel MP has spent the past week talking about prostitution. Not that he has necessarily found it a learning experience. He is likely to be as ignorant on the subject at the end of the week as he was at the start.

And would you believe that Babel’s MP is being paid extra by the taxpayers to study his government’s bill on prostitution? He could learn more on a Friday night in July walking down Dunlop Street in his home (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: The Hair’s letting it all hang out.

Did you see the news clips of the prime minister the other day? They had him dressed in casual clothes to check out the flood problems out west. And with an open jacket, he was letting his growing corporation hang out. It shows the soft life he has been living. The guy has been growing a gut!

It is a shame the Hair is aging badly. It is not as though he has the angst of an American president. Obama, for example, entered the office with his curly black hair looking good and it has turned grey in office. Even (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Thomas Mulcair, by Agatha Christie.

New Democrat leader Thomas Mulcair comes across as another character created by famed Brit mystery writer Agatha Christie. Like Christie’s prolific series of books from 1920 to 1975 featuring the Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, the politician is from another time, another era. It might explain why Mulcair is out of step with Canadians. He does not connect.

Despite the painstaking and persistent grilling he has given the Conservative government in the House of Commons, Mulcair’s excellent performance has been little noted. To Canadians, he is just a stuffy little man in his three-piece suit. Taking off his tie makes little (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: We must save CBC News.

Many of us have been watching in horror as the Conservative government has casually and constantly whittled away the funding of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. It is a death of a thousand cuts. Yet there are those concerned that the CBC’s priority for news coverage is at the expense of the corporation’s cultural offerings. Let us make ourselves clear at this time: kill the culture, keep the news.

The one thing that the CBC can still offer Canadians is the truth. This is a commodity beyond value. Though no news outlet can ever be perfect, the CBC strives for excellence (Read more…)

reeves report: Ottawa completes $400,000 Asian carp science lab

A $400,000 ASIAN CARP science lab was opened by Public Works Minister Diane Finley Monday as part of $17.5 million committed by Ottawa to fight the spread of this aquatic invasive species.

Captured grass carp at Dept. of Fisheries and Oceans research lab in Burlington, ON (Andrew Reeves)

The new lab in Burlington, Ontario — which is housed in the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Canada Centre for Inland Waters — will allow sample testing to be done in Canada rather than relying on genetic testing of water samples to be done in the United States to identify Asian carp DNA (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Politics is not a business.

We all struggle with metaphors to explain politics but the recent Toronto Star effort by Susan Delacourt of the paper’s Ottawa Bureau missed by a mile. She should leave business analogies to Star Business writer David Olive. To try to explain the recent federal by-elections in business terms seems to be a stretch too far.

Politics fails us when it is addressed as a business. The public are not consumers of politics as much as they are the owners. They have proprietary rights. Believe it or not, candidates for election are actually applying to them for the job. Involving the (Read more…)

reeves report: Province urged to hold off on Rouge land transfer

A coalition of worried environmental groups is calling on Premier Kathleen Wynne to refrain from transferring provincially owned land in Scarborough to Ottawa over fears that ecological protections in Bill C-40, the Rouge National Urban Park Act, are substantially weaker than those already in place.

Days after the federal Conservatives called C-40 for second reading debate on June 19, Environmental Defence, Ontario Nature and Friends of the Rouge Watershed issued a joint release saying the bill from Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq “fails to meet the standards needed for a sustainable national park that respects conservation science.”

The bill (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Is this the “New Way” Justin Trudeau?

While it might seem a churlish comment to some, there is regrettably no honour for Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau in the win in the Trinity-Spadina by-election. Running up to the vote on June 30, the Liberal Party ran television ads in which Justin talked about a ‘new way to do politics.’ Yet what we saw was the same old top-down, autocratic leadership that real liberals have been fighting against for the last 25 years.

Screw you Justin! You neither seem to listen nor learn. You talk in platitudes and bromides. You neither understand nor register your hypocrisy. With the (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: O’ Canada, O’ Canada, Oh God!

Happy Canada Day. Canada is 147 years young and we still need to grow, develop, mature and grasp the reins of nationhood. There is so much to admire in Canada. There are Canada’s peoples, its beauty and its natural wonders. There is also its future. We need to share our ideas of what this country should be. We can only hope that it is not the country that the Conservative government in Ottawa is trying to shape.

In a pre-emptive pique, the Harper Conservatives are criminalizing our country. Canadians were puzzled at first because this government wanted to build prisons (Read more…)