Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy Tax Year

It looks like 2011 will be a good year for big government.

Or at least big government will get richer while taxpayers get poorer.

So says the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, which calculates that we will all be paying more in taxes next year, with residents in Ontario getting dinged the hardest.

Oh well, try and have a Happy New Year anyway.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Attacks on Private Property

The Ontario Landowners Association has a list of some of the more outrageous abuses of private property rights that have taken place over the past year.

Check it out.

Monday, December 27, 2010

2010 a good year for Canadian conservatives

All things considered 2010 was a pretty good year for Canada’s conservative movement.

True, by American standards, conservatives here are still pretty quiet – we don’t yet, for instance, have the equivalent of a boat-rocking, Tea Party-style political operation – but in the past year we had our victories and more importantly we saw new voices emerging.

Here’s a quick rundown of conservative highlights in 2010:

  • Maxime Bernier
    In January 2010, former Conservative Cabinet minister, Maxime Bernier declared, “If we want conservative principles to win the battle, we have to defend them openly, with passion and with conviction.”  Then for the rest of the year he lived up to those words, travelling across the country promoting the ideas of smaller government and individual freedom. In the process he gave Canadian conservatives something they have not had for a long time: a politician we could actually cheer about for something other than his singing prowess.

  •  Rob Ford’s Victory
    Conventional wisdom confidently states the Greater Toronto Area is a death zone for conservatism. In fact, we were told the only way for a conservative to win in Toronto is to disregard principles and start talking like Karl Marx. But then Rob Ford came along and disregarded the conventional wisdom. He talked about reducing waste, reining in public sector union bosses and lowering taxes. And he won! Perhaps this will act a blueprint for other conservatives seeking Toronto votes. (Yes, I am looking at you Stephen Harper and Tim Hudak) As a side bonus, the Ford victory even resurrected the “left wing pinko”phrase, courtesy of Don Cherry.

  • Wild Rose Alliance Party
    In Alberta, the conservative/libertarian Wild Rose Alliance Party continued in 2010 to increase its popularity, proving even a dopey name can’t stop good ideas. If nothing else the WAP’s success shows how politics, like nature, abhors a vacuum. If a conservative party, like the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta, ignores its base, then its base will move somewhere else. Again, this is a lesson for other political parties.

  • Reseau Liberte-Quebec
    The Reseau Liberte-Quebec, or to use its English name, the Quebec Freedom Network, is a brand new organization dedicated to promoting the ideas of “individual responsibility, free markets and personal choice” in Quebec. And although this group is still small, it’s already punching well above its weight, garnering tremendous media attention for its cause. What’s really impressive about the Network, however, is its goal of putting principle ahead of politics. It does not wish to become a political party and win elections. Rather it wants to win the war of ideas. And that’s the battle that really counts.

  • New Conservative Network
    One of the hot topics in 2010 was the emergence of Sun News, a new conservative-oriented network that would act as a counterweight to all the left-wing propaganda that emanates from other mainstream media. If Sun News does indeed surface in 2011 as conservative-friendly network, this would be a true breakthrough for the movement. In the US, media personalities like Glen Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly have helped to shape American conservatism. The same could happen here. Never underestimate the power of TV when it comes to getting out a message.

So as 2010 draws to a close, Canadian conservatives have reason for optimism.

But we have many challenges ahead and still face many roadblocks, not the least of which is a nominally conservative federal government that is taking the country in the wrong direction at least when it comes to fiscal matters.

Let’s hope conservatives in 2011 keep pushing to make Canada a freer and better country.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Suzuki's pagan cult

Scientist David Suzuki likes to think of rivers as the "earth's veins."

Or at least I heard him say that recently on a TV interview.

It made me  wonder if the scientist Suzuki also likes to think of mountains as the earth's acne and forests as its hair? And I don't even want to know what body part comes to mind when he ponders the Grand Canyon!

Anyway, what this shows is that while environmentalists like Suzuki like to trumpet the "science" of global warming, what really seems to be their motivation is some sort of bizarre mixture of socialism and pagan mysticism.

In short, they believe a free-market-based, industrial society is evil because it offends the goddess Gaia.

Bolivia's socialist president Evo Morales summed this attitude up best when he recently declared, "either capitalism dies or Mother Earth dies."

So I fully expect in the not too distant future, Suzuki or Morales or Al Gore will be calling upon us to toss a virgin SUV into a volcano to appease Mother Earth.

But of course, it will be done in the name of science.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

I must be at 101

The Ottawa Hill Times newspaper recently listed the top 100 most influential people in government and politics.

In what must be an oversight, I didn't make the cut!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Kinsella's tactic is wrong, but strategy is sound

Liberal spin doctor Warren Kinsella is offering, free of charge, an idea to the Opposition parties which he says "could blow Harper’s campaign to smithereens".

What's the idea?

Well essentially Kinsella argues the Liberals and NDP should appeal to Canadian nationalism by opposing a trade agreement the Harper government is apparently negotiating with the United States.

Writes Kinsella: "leak of the entire agreement, a few days ago, suggests strongly that Harper is giddily hitching our wagon to a declining U.S. economy, and — in exchange for a few paltry trade changes — we are going to see our policies related to immigration, refugees and national security decided by the aforementioned (Secretary of State Hilary) Clinton. In Washington. To whisk a few trucks across the border in two hours instead of three, we are going to lose control over some of the very things that distinguish us from our neighbours to the south."

Harper is "erasing the border", says Kinsella, which will enrage Canadians from coast to coast.

Basically, this is a suggestion to replay the 1988 Liberal campaign which opposed freer trade.

But the Liberals lost in 1988. And I sincerely doubt the Liberals would gain much from embracing this particular issue in the next federal election.

In the first place, Canadians in 2010 aren't as spooked by free trade as they were 25 years ago. But more importantly, Kinsella's "secret" agreement is a complicated issue, an issue that would first need to be explained to voters before it could be attacked.

And that's a serious weakness. In politics any communication process that requires a two step process is not likely to succeed.

Still, although Kinsella's tactical idea is flawed his overall strategic concept is correct: the Liberals desperately need to latch onto some issue to mobilize their moribund base.

And they need one fast because it looks more and more like we will have a federal election in the Spring.

In short, if Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff doesn't come up with way to rally his troops, Harper and the Tories could stomp him bad.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Interim

If you're a conservative Roman Catholic, or if you just care about social/moral issues, I would strongly suggest you subscribe to The Interim newspaper.

It's a paper which will give you a thoughtful and insightful perspective on news and current events that you just won't get in other media.

And while it's geared toward a social conservative audience, the paper would also be a great read for conservatives of any slant.

Besides interesting news items, it features great regular columnists like Michael Coren, Rory Leishman, Rick McGinnis and Paul Tuns, plus great guest columnists as well.

So check it out "Canada's Life and Family Newspaper".

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The speech the PM never gave

About a year ago, I wrote a column in the Toronto Sun which presented the speech I wished Prime Minister Stephen Harper would give.

Now in light of Harper's recent less than conservative economic decisions I thought just for fun, I would run it up the flag pole one more time.

Besides its Christmas, the season for reruns.

Here it is:

My fellow Canadians,

Starting today you are going to see a dramatic change in me and my party. That's because from now on, I am going to start acting and talking like the real Stephen Harper.

No longer will I listen to those advisers, pollsters and spin doctors who for the past five years have convinced me to act like a sweater-vest wearing, big spending, quasi-Liberal.

That's not me.

In fact, I am every Red Tory's worst nightmare: I am a dyed-in-the-wool, honest-to-goodness, small "c" conservative.

That means I believe government should be a lot smaller, that free enterprise is superior to socialism and that the only good thing about the CBC is Don Cherry.

I also believe government must live within its means. Simply put, deficit spending is wrong; today's deficits are tomorrow's taxes.

So to help eliminate the deficit, which admittedly my own government wrongly created, I am going to cancel many of the spending projects previously announced as part of my so-called "stimulus package."

Let's face it, the only thing government spending stimulates is more government.

Rather than increasing spending, I am going to do something I have wanted to do ever since I became prime minister, which is move the capital of Canada to Calgary.

Ha, ha, just kidding.

What I really want to do is cut spending. Under my government there will be no more corporate bailouts; no more handouts to special interest groups; no more pork-barrelling and no more regional subsidies.

Plus I want to make deep tax cuts. I would rather Canadians keep and spend their own money rather than hand it over to bureaucrats who will use it to subsidize things like balloon festivals in Quebec.

And speaking of Quebec, I now realize how much time, energy and money I wasted trying to win seats in that province by pandering to nationalists voters.

That's going to stop.

I will now treat all citizens and all provinces equally. There are no "nations" within Canada, there are no special groups with special rights, there are just Canadians.

Now I fully understand the Opposition will resist my new conservative agenda and force an election.

But that's OK. I welcome the chance to offer Canadian voters something they have not had for a long time: A true political choice.

In the next election, voters will have an opportunity to support the Liberals, who stand for big government, or the NDP, who stand for even bigger government, or the Bloc Quebecois, who want to run a foreign government.

Or they can support my party which wants to get government out of people's lives.

That's an election I can win.

Thank you and God bless Canada.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Canada still in trouble

Twenty years ago William Gairdner came out with a book called The Trouble with Canada.

A devastating critique of Canada’s leftist economic and political failures, it was a must read for every Canadian, especially for those Canadians who cherished our freedoms and traditions.

Gairdner, who by the way, is a brilliant political philosopher, laid out in stark terms how wrong-headed government polices were wrecking our country.

And for me, The Trouble with Canada was also an excellent resource. Whenever I needed a fact or an argument for some case I was making, my first move was to consult Gairdner’s book.

That’s why I am happy to say that Gairdner has a new book out called The Trouble with Canada … Still!

More than just a revision, The Trouble with Canada … Still! updates the case against the leftist ideology which, unfortunately, still motivates much of Canada’s governing and media elites.

And Gairdner pulls no punches. He goes after big spending politicians, enforced bilingualism, activist judges, radical feminism, official multiculturalism and a whole herd of sacred cows.

In the process the book touches on a myriad of topics including the national debt, the battle against terrorism and socialized medicine.

You may not agree with all of Gairdner’s arguments, but I guarantee you will find his ideas both thoughtful and thought-provoking.

If you care about fixing what’s wong with Canada and if you want an clear, concise outline that provides the answers, then get a copy of the Trouble with Canada …. Still!

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Book ideas for Christmas, really

The holiday season is here, meaning all of us are experiencing the same traditional Christmas feelings, feelings which at any other time of the year would be called extreme stress and anxiety.

And lots of that stress is associated with finding that perfect gift.

Well, you can relax and start enjoying your eggnog.

After much research, I have come up with a list of Canadian political books that would even please grumpy old Ebenezer Scrooge, assuming, of course, Scrooge … you know actually cared about Canadian politics.

Anyway here’s the list of 10 gift books:

  • How to annoy left-wing kooks and pinkos, by Don Cherry. (Special foreword written by Rob Ford)

  • Crush, Kill, Destroy: My life in politics, by Stephen Harper

  • My obvious intellectual superiority – political asset or liability? by Michael Ignatieff.

  • Take your long census form and shred it, by Tony Clement

  • Ten naughty ways to stimulate your economy, by Jim Flaherty

  • The brain-dead moron’s guide to building a lasting political coalition, by Jack Layton

  • Don’t let irrelevancy stop you from thriving, by Gilles Duceppe (Available in French only)

  • Crying polar bears: climate  fear-mongering  for fun and profit, by David Suzuki

  • Thanks suckers!,  the Chairman of General Motors
 (OK that's only nine books, but given the sorry state of Canadian politics this is the best I could do!)

Believe me these gift books will at the very least be excellent door stops.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Good luck to Stephen Taylor

Finally the folks running the National Citizens Coalition have caught on to their own irrelevancy.

After years of wallowing in obscurity, they have hired Stephen Taylor, who unlike the people currently running the operation, actually possesses media and political savvy.

So they deserve credit for making a good move.

It says here, Taylor will be a "director" and will apparently be  in charge of the group's social media.

And God knows the NCC's social media desperately needs help. Both the NCC Facebook page and Twitter accounts are jokes.

But I hope Taylor does more.I hope he takes on a broader range of duties in terms of directing the NCC's policies and media strategies. I hope he can become the new "face" of the NCC.

After all, social media alone can't make a difference. You also need to have a vision. You need to engage issues that actually matter. You need the ability to communicate in a persuasive manner. You need the courage to take on battles even if it means going against the odds.

I know Taylor and he has what it takes to embrace these challenges.

In any event, I would like to offer him the following suggestions to help restore some of the NCC's lost grandeur:

* The NCC must stop cheer leading for the Harper Tories. To have any credibility, the NCC must be an ideas-oriented, tough, non-partisan organization, not a lap dog for the Prime Minister.

* Bring back the old NCC-style ads which were fun, had zing and generated news. Today the NCC, if it advertises at all, sticks to the bland. Boring doesn't work for an advocacy group.

* Once you announce a campaign follow it through. All too often, the NCC will announce a campaign with great flourish, but then you never hear of it again. For instance, more than three years ago the NCC promised to produce a report on how to reform health care. It never materialized. What happened?

* Develop a professional look. The NCC blog is jammed with spelling and grammar errors. And the writing style is awkward.

* Send out a news release once in a while. As far as I can see the NCC only sends out a release once every six months.

* Develop a media presence. Get quoted in papers. Appear on news shows. Write op eds. Since I have returned from the US, I have appeared on six TV programs, five radio shows and had op eds published in four different newspapers, which is more than the combined media for the NCC all year!

Anyway, I wish Stephen Taylor all the luck in his new job.

I have a special place for the NCC in my heart. I want it to do well.

Canada needs all the principled conservative voices it can get.

Monday, December 06, 2010

What's wrong with our skools?

When I was in grade school, way, way back in the early 1970s (yes I am that old) I was subjected to (victimized by?) education reforms that were considered "progressive."

This included "open concept" where five different classes were taught in one massive room, with no walls to divide them; a "teach yourself" model, where students were expected to create their own lessons using the teacher as only one of many resources and "fun Fridays" which meant we got to go bowling.

At the time I thought this sort of "progressive" learning was great, but as it turned out the only thing I really learned was how to graduate without learning anything.

High School turned out to be a bit of a shock: "What do you mean there's no bowling?!"

Anyway, I am bringing all this up because I recently attended a meeting put on by the Society for Quality Education where a Manitoba teacher, Michael Zwaagstra, was speaking about what's wrong with public education.

And he made it clear that unfortunately progressivism is still alive and well in our schools.

Protecting "self-esteem", it seems, is deemed more important than you know, actually teaching kids stuff.

Zwaagstra has co-written a book on this topic, which includes ways to set our schools back on the right track.

It's too late for me, but perhaps we can save a future generation of students.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Canadian democracy explained

Canadian democracy is in grave danger.
Or so say lots of pundits, journalists and academics who keep warning us about how the politicians in Ottawa are slowly eroding away our traditional democratic institutions.
They point out, for instance, how an “unelected Senate” recently killed a “Climate Change” Bill and how the House of Commons didn’t debate Canada’s military role in Afghanistan and how Prime Minister Stephen Harper was recently seen getting fitted for a medal-bedecked general’s uniform.
But fear not.
Despite what some critics are saying democracy is alive and well in Canada, although admittedly it’s a unique form of what might be called Canadian-style democracy.
What’s Canadian-style democracy?
Well, it’s a form of government we have developed over the last 100 years or so which manages to blend ideas adapted from the political traditions of Britain, America and the Byzantine Empire.
Unfortunately, however, given the pervasive influence of American media in Canada, many people mistakenly compare our system with the republican system south of the border.
Hence they wrongly assume democracy is in trouble in Canada.
So in the interest of setting the record straight, here’s a short primer of Canada’s distinctive political institutions:
  • Members of Parliament
    Elected directly by the people, Canadian MPs have two key responsibilities. 1) Blindly and obediently obey their party leaders 2) Stay in the House of Commons long enough to qualify for gold-plated pensions.
  • The Opposition
    Under our Constitution, the “Loyal” Opposition performs the extremely important democratic function of putting forward ideas that are so ridiculous they make governing party look good by comparison. 

  • The Governor-General
    The Queen’s representative in Canada, the Governor-General once had no real power, but today he or she must perform the crucially vital duty of understanding, pronouncing and spelling the word, “prorogue.”

  • The House of CommonsThe heart of Canadian democracy, the House of Commons is a place where MPs from different parts of the country and from different political parties gather with a democratic mandate to hurl juvenile catcalls at each other.

  • The Senate
    Yes Canadian Senators are “unelected”. But let’s face it, who wouldn’t want to be a Senator and get paid lots of money to basically do nothing? It’s the Canadian dream job. And it’s a job that’s open to anyone regardless of race, creed or colour, so long as you’re a loyal party hack or on good terms with the Prime Minister.  Isn’t that a sort of democracy?

  • The Prime Minister
    Some say Canada’s Prime Minister has the dictatorial powers approaching that of a Latin American despot. That’s a complete and utter falsehood. In fact, his powers are more like an African despot.

  • The Media
    Although not a government institutiona free media is also crucial to our democracy. Indeed, through hard work, insightful analysis and courageous reporting, the Canadian media helps us understand the great importance to democracy of the Canadian media.
 And finally, as the ultimate safeguard of democracy, Canadians have the power to regularly vote in federal elections.
 That means if we think a government is bad we can always replace it with something worse.
Crossposted at Libertas Post