Conditional Costs

Posted: 30/03/2016 8:19:28 AM





When I read the story of Felipe Montoya in the Globe and Mail, I knew something was not right. It wasn’t a big story. It was, in fact, a small story. It was a page five story and yet it did not pass the smell test.

Felipe came to Canada four years ago from Costa Rica with his wife and two kids. The man is highly educated. He is now a full-time, tenured professor at York University. He’s got a big job, he pays taxes. The perfect citizen.

But this is where the story becomes hard to believe. According to the Globe and Mail, the Government of Canada has said Felipe and his family cannot stay in Canada; they cannot become permanent residents because his son has Down syndrome. Okay, this is where I thought this story cannot be true. I mean I know Canada is not perfect but surely to God we are not throwing children out of the country because they have Down syndrome.

Well apparently that is exactly what we are doing. Apparently there is a war on kids with Down syndrome that I was completely unaware of. The government's position is because the kid has Down syndrome he could potentially, maybe, become a burden on the system.

Really? We’re going to predict that now? What's next? We’re gonna say that family can't come in because that kid in grade eight just failed his math test or that one’s got a funny foot?

There are absolutely no guarantees in this life when it comes to predicting who will contribute what to society. Some dude with Down syndrome working at Loblaws contributes a hell of a lot more than some of the guys I went to high school with—people I am proud to call my friends and fellow Canadians.

I was so hoping this story was untrue. I was wrong. Here's hoping that our new Government, with its sunny ways, sees the error of its ways.

My Canada includes an extra chromosome. 

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Go, Tom. Go!

Posted: 23/03/2016 8:37:23 AM





In just three weeks members of the New Democratic Party of Canada, or the NDP, they will be gathering in Edmonton for their annual policy convention. Now I know what a lot of you are thinking. You’re thinking who are the NDP again, why is that name so familiar? Well back in the olden days, like ten months ago, they were the party that was going to win the federal election. Their leader, Tom Mulcair, was ahead in the polls, confidence was high. Team Mulcair was in it to win it. Now we don’t need to dwell on what happened next. 

Ok, let’s dwell. 

The NDP came in third, Justin Trudeau became prime minister; Stephen Harper resigned to spend more time with his anger. But Tom Mulcair, he stayed on the job. Now why he wants this job, I have no idea. Although I have seen this type of behaviour before. There was a dude in Iowa who won the lotto, he still went to work the next day cleaning out sewers. So there is a precedent.

But if Tom stays on as leader he’s gotta go to this convention, he’s got to stand there while the members vote on whether they want to keep him or not. If 50 percent plus one say he’s gotta go, he’s gotta go. And anything less than a 70% approval rating is kind of embarrassing. 

Tom, don’t do it. You were a great Leader of the Opposition. Perhaps the best one Canada has ever seen. So you didn’t become Prime Minister, big deal, that’s a very big club, there’s like 36 million people in that club. If you leave now, you can escape with your pension and your dignity. Very few people get out of politics with both. You stick around and your own party may take away the latter. Life is unfair. Politics is worse. 

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The Hour

Posted: 16/03/2016 8:32:36 AM





So this past Sunday the clocks jumped ahead an hour. We all lost an hour of sleep. Daylight Saving Time is now in effect. It happens every year at this time. We don’t question it, we just change the clocks. And so the day after I'm walking around, I’m in a bad mood cause I didn’t get enough sleep and I'm mumbling to myself that Daylight Saving Time is stupid. Now I admit this was not based on any evidence, this was just me being grumpy.

But then I did something that’s very dangerous: I Googled. Turns out there are a group of likeminded geniuses out there who have the exact same opinion as I do. They believe Daylight Saving Time is very bad idea for a bunch of reasons, the least of which is it drives children berserk. True thing. Also in the 48 hours after the clocks go ahead, men keel over in droves with heart attacks. Not that men need a lot of excuses to have heart attacks, but still the data is very troubling.

Car accidents go through the roof, which makes perfect sense. The Monday after the clocks go ahead the roads are suddenly filled with people who are late for work, in a bad mood and half asleep. Call this what it is. It's not Daylight Saving Time — it's a population cull. And it should stop now. And in the fall, when the clocks go back, that’s even deadlier. Although when that happens we gain an hour of sleep, so that one I can live with.

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The Trump Effect

Posted: 09/03/2016 8:26:50 AM




I am at a complete and utter loss as to what is happening in the United States. I can’t even begin to understand what is happening to the Republican Party. How is it that the party of Eisenhower, the party of Abraham Lincoln, has become the play thing for the host of the Miss Universe beauty pageant? And how is it possible that the more outrageous Donald Trump becomes the higher his numbers go? I don't get it. It is the most ridiculous thing I have ever seen in my entire life. 

But I’m getting very tired of people who say that because of Donald Trump, American politics has become like reality TV. Not true. Reality TV is not this stupid. Although I wouldn’t be surprised if Donald Trump chose Honey Boo Boo as his running mate. 

What’s truly disturbing is that we in Canada are not immune to this behaviour. Ten days ago Conservatives from all over Canada gathered in Ottawa for the Manning Conference. There was one subject on their mind — who would be the next leader of the Conservative Party of Canada? And who got all the attention? Who was the big star? Kevin O'Leary from the Dragon's Den. A Man whose entire shtick is that money is a religion. And the more outrageous he became the more they loved him. It's embarrassing. He's up here in Canada doing Donald Trump's act, not as well and it's working. He's like a Rod Stewart impersonator. Big crowds in small towns only. 

But thanks to Kevin O'Leary, I now relate to those Americans who say that if Trump becomes President they want to move to Canada. Because if Trump becomes President and Kevin O'Leary becomes Prime Minister I want to leave the planet. Seriously I would rather live in a bubble on Mars and eat potatoes grown in my own poo. Trump and O'Leary? Stop the world, I want to get off.

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A Wide Range of Bedfellows

Posted: 02/03/2016 9:49:03 AM




Ever since I’ve been following politics, ever since I was a kid, there were always people around who loved to talk about proportional representation. Or as they like to call it PR. Which means changing our democratic system entirely.

Basically it means taking what we’ve got now, throwing it out and changing it so the number of seats a political party has in the House of Commons reflects the percentage of the vote the party received.  All you have to know is that it’s the Green Party's all-time favourite fantasy.  

I never spent much time thinking about this PR business because, quite frankly, it was always academic. It was the domain of political nerds. I figured if it's never going to happen in my lifetime why should I even think about it? Kind of the way I used to feel about a Justin Trudeau majority. 

But recently something astounding happened. There's an organization devoted to making PR happen. They’re called Every Voter Counts. Now this group until recently, and don't take this the wrong way, they have been the usual gang of lefty suspects. You know, you’ve got the Ed Broadbent institute, Idle No More, the Canadian Labour Congress. All good people, all firmly on the left.  

But just days ago, Stephen Harper's former Chief of Staff, Guy Giorno — a giant in Conservative circles — he joins the gang.  Just to be clear, Stephen Harper's Chief of Staff sitting down with the Ed Broadbent people is kind of like Darth Vader sitting down with the Ewoks to fight climate change.  

I don't know what this means but I kinda like it.  Smart people, political rivals coming together with one goal—improve our democracy.  These are very interesting times indeed. It may be the worst of times for our economy but the best times for Canada.

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