Ask me anything? Really?

Anyone who works with me at Daisy will tell you, if I get asked to do something, I quickly agree, forget about it, and then wonder why I agreed in the first place.

Anyway, this Reddit “Ask Me Anything” thing is today at 2, and I forgot that I agreed to do it pretty soon after I agreed to do it. I predict a total fiasco, as a result.

Link here. If you are irritating, I will find you and kill you.

Trudeau: rendering the economy in cartoons

Sun News wants me to talk (a lot) about this video today.  My reaction:

  • PRO: It helps to flesh out his economic vision, which has been a policy soft spot.
  • PRO: It correctly identifies the fiscal problem of the next decade – the feds in structural surplus, the provinces/municipalities in structural deficit. (Oh, and the separatists about to get a majority.)
  • PRO: It is non-partisan.
  • CON: It’s too long.  It contains too much info.  If you can’t say it in two minutes, per Chuck Berry, it can’t be said.
  • CON: The “sunny ways” thing is a wee bit obscure.  Adds nothing, potentially distracts.
  • CON: Will enough people see it?

My big beef, however? They seriously owe my brother royalties! Check out Lorne’s online CV, then watch Justin’s thing. See any stylistic similarities?

I am part of the problem

How representative is the Canadian media? Specifically, how much do so-called opinion-makers reflect the country that ostensibly makes up their audience?

Not much.

Got home from Son Two’s game last night, fired up National Newswatch, and this is what I saw: all white, all male, all middle-aged in the columnist line-up. Every single one.

There’s all kinds of reasons why traditional news media are in so much trouble: bad business decisions, underestimating the Internet, big changes in the way people receive news. But I’d be astounded if the homogeneity of the media wasn’t part of the reason, too.

Horwath’s smart move

This was quite clever:

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath warns she will topple Premier Kathleen Wynne’s minority Liberals if the budget imposes any new levies on Ontarians, according to a letter obtained by the Star.

In a high-stakes game of poker — with an $80-million provincial election hanging in the balance — Horwath is calling Wynne’s bluff about wanting to keep the legislature afloat.

“I will not support any new taxes, tolls or fees that hit middle-class families,” the NDP leader wrote in a letter hand-delivered to the premier’s office at Queen’s Park on Monday night.

For some time, the Ontario NDP have been positioning themselves as the Pocketbook Party: they know that the main preoccupation of most voters, these days, is how to make daily life more affordable. So they have essentially usurped what is traditionally a Liberal position, and become the advocates for the middle class. Or, at least, she has become a Romanow liberal democrat: balanced budgets, no new taxes, government living within its means.

Horwath’s talking points on her main opponents are quite clear. too. The Hudak Conservatives want to shut down government, and anyone who disagrees with them; the Wynne Liberals want to turn government into a big group therapy session, where lots gets said, but nothing gets done.

With her move last night, I believe Horwath has forced Wynne’s hand: the Liberal leader is not going to get a budget passed. If the Liberal leader wants to frame the debate, she’ll have to go to the Lieutenant-Governor, and dissolve the Legislature.

Welcome back, MPPs. If I were you, I wouldn’t take off my winter coats and boots.  You’re going back on on the road very soon.



In Tuesday’s Sun: uncharitable

The Hebrew word for charity – tzedakah – means justice. It’s a better definition than the English, because charity shouldn’t mean simply giving to the poor. It means (or should) seeking a righteous, fairer world. Justice, in other words.

In the Jewish tradition, then, charity isn’t merely something you do if you feel like it. It is, instead, an obligation owed to God. If you are to live a godly life, you have an actual ongoing responsibility to make the world a better place. This is why, I think, we consistently see so many Jews at the forefront of charitable ventures in Canada – to them, charitable work is an article of their faith.

Jim Flaherty and Stephen Harper don’t think Environmental Defence, Tides Canada and the David Suzuki Foundation are trying to make the world a better, fairer place. They don’t think those charitable groups should exist, even.

Environmental Defence, Tides and the Suzuki folks are now being audited by the Canada Revenue Agency. More than a half-dozen environmental groups are being similarly audited, in fact. The Conservatives say the environmental groups are too political (which is a lie). The environmental groups say the Conservatives are using their power to silence them, or put them out of business (and that’s the truth).

Environmental Defence has been around for 30 years. Its mission is to “inspire change in government, business and people to ensure a greener, healthier and prosperous life for all.” Sound too radical or political to you? Me neither.

A few years back, they tested various MPs bodies’ for toxins. One of the participants was Conservative cabinet minister Tony Clement – he apparently didn’t consider Environmental Defence too political back then. Thereafter, his government smartly decided to declare one of those toxins, triclosan, a threat. Again, sound like a bad political thing? Nope.

The Suzuki Foundation – with which David Suzuki himself is no longer affiliated, because he didn’t want the group to be targeted by the Harper regime, so great is their hatred for him – does stuff like “science-based research, education and policy work” about the environment. Radical? Um, no.

Environmental Defence, the Suzuki folks and others aren’t wild about the oil sands – and, last time we checked, neither is the President of the United States, who calls them “destructive.” Being unenthusiastic about the oil sands is what you’d expect an environmental group to think, no? It’s not a big deal.

Not to Flaherty and his ilk. The Finance Minister recently even insinuated that environmental groups are honest-to-goodness terrorists. “If the critics of the government are terrorist organizations and organized crime, I don’t care,” he told Postmedia, in a story that was about charities. Seriously? If I were legal counsel to an enviro group, I’d sue Flaherty’s Irish ass for linking my client to terrorism.

But that’s me. The environmental groups, you see, are too nice. They are quietly going along with the audits. They should, instead, be fighting like holy Hell. The Conservative, meanwhile, should back the Hell off – because their obsession with these environmental groups will ultimately persuade Canadians that (a) they’re scared of the environmentalists’ message and (b) they favour free speech, but only for them and their friends.

They’re charities, doing good work. If they are engaging in terrorism or money-laundering, put ‘em in jail, and throw away the key.

But if they’re not? Back off, Jimbo.

Justice demands it.