Economic Bewilderment

Posted: 28/01/2015 8:52:57 AM

There’s nothing I hate more than those situations where the more I read, the more confused I become. Welcome to the Canadian economy. Five minutes ago the Government was crystal clear—it was all about the oil. It was practically Government policy that every first born child in Canada should become a pipefitter. If anyone dared suggest that our economy was too dependent on oil, they were nothing less than an enemy of the state.

And now the price of oil has tanked, the world is dumping our currency and the Prime Minister is showing up in Ontario of all places talking about manufacturing. Yes Alberta, I hate to break it to you but Big Daddy's flirting around Eastern Canada saying, “oil-schmoil, I barely knew her.” Give him another week, he’ll be admitting he was born and raised in Toronto.

This is why I am so confused. The Bank of Canada says low oil is very bad for Canada. All of Canada. And yet the Government is saying there are tax breaks for the wealthy coming and everything is on budget. But oh, wait, there is no budget. How can there be no budget? You know why there’s no budget? Because behind the dull eyes of the Finance Minister is a brain melting in full blown panic.

Look, I lived in Newfoundland before the collapse of the fishery; I understand how upset people in Alberta are. But one thing we know is no matter what happens, we will get through this together. As sure as the sun will rise, the sun will set, and there are very expensive commercials on TV paid for by us, telling us, wait for it, our economy is the envy of the world.


Talk Amongst Yourselves

Posted: 21/01/2015 7:11:17 AM

On January 30th, every premier and territorial leader in Canada will gather in Ottawa for a meeting. Imagine, all those leaders in one room behind closed doors. They call it the Council of the Federation. And once again the Prime Minister of Canada will not attend that meeting. He's been invited but he said no. He will not pose for a photo; he will not engage in small talk about hockey, the weather, or plunging oil prices. And nor should he. He’s got six episodes of the Murdoch Mysteries in his PVR; he needs to catch up.

Now of course the premiers, they don't like the fact the Prime Minister refuses to meet with them again. He hasn't done that in 6 years. But if you read any great book by any great leader they will tell you, the last thing you should ever do is get all the decision makers together in one room.That could lead to discussion and even solutions.

And as a leader, the other thing you must never do is engage in frank talk with people who have been elected to represent every part of the Nation. It’s that kind of thinking that lead to the creation of Canada in the first place.

And what I cannot abide is the suggestion that the Prime Minister is afraid to meet the premiers. That is a low blow. He's not afraid to meet the premiers; he just has no interest in anything they have to say on any subject.

So let the premiers go off and busy themselves with the silly work of nation building. My Canada includes my Prime Minister across the street, at home, alone, in the dark.


No Words

Posted: 14/01/2015 7:35:31 AM

On the morning of October 22, Cpl. Nathan Cirillo was gunned down while guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the National War Memorial. In the weeks after the shooting there were probably ten million words written about that incident. Yet nothing came closer to capturing the mood of the nation than the cartoon that was published the very next morning in the Halifax Chronicle Herald. The artist is Bruce MacKinnon. He is one of Canada's greatest editorial cartoonists. We have a lot of them in this country. Which is why, every week, in every newspaper in Canada, there are letters from people who are deeply offended by a cartoon. That is what comes with opinion.

In all my years of wandering around spouting off in an alley I have gotten hundreds of emails from people who are offended for one reason or another. And yet, I can't remember one that said I didn’t have a right to my opinion. They said I was stupid, wrong, pig headed, ignorant, yes, but no death threats. The most I've had to deal with was a late night drunk dial from an agitated cabinet minister.

How lucky are we that we live in a country that when offended, that’s what we do. Send an email or leave a rambling voice message. Like most people who move around upright, I have beliefs. I’d like to think I have beliefs that I would die for. The freedom to offend is very near the top. Thankfully that has never been put to the test. It was put to the test this past week in Paris.

Honestly, I can't put into words how I feel about what happened in Paris. But when I go online and I see the editorial cartoons created in the aftermath, I don't have to.


The Right (and Left) Thing to Do

Posted: 03/12/2014 6:43:26 AM

I have a question; it’s been bothering me for a while now. Well actually, it’s been bothering me since about eight o'clock this morning when I was almost crushed by an SUV on my way to work. When did using a turn signal become optional in this country?

Remember the turn signal? That little stick on the left hand side of the steering wheel? I say “remember” because I'm guessing a lot of Canadians, they have no idea what that stick is or what it's used for.

If aliens came down from outer space and studied the way Canadians drive they would assume that using a turn signal was a voluntary exercise and that there were no actual firm guidelines surrounding its use.

Refresher: it’s to signal people, it tells people what you’re about to do before you do it. Which comes in handy at 110 kilometres an hour. And all of you people who use it to tell people what you have done? After you have done it? You are doing it wrong.

And to you, the guy in the intersection who decides at the last minute to turn left but decides that there is no reason in the world to tell anyone what you’re up to or why you’ve suddenly stopped on a green light. You sir are not only a bad driver, you're a bad person. How bad? Everyone around you hates you. But don’t worry, I can help you. There’s a simple solution.


It's as easy as lifting a finger. Literally. So this holiday season, save a life, lift a finger. So the rest of us don't have to show you ours.


Partisan Inferno

Posted: 26/11/2014 7:41:32 AM

Dante’s inferno. A very famous 14th-century epic poem describes Dante's descent into Hell. According to Dante, there are nine circles of suffering. And as one can imagine they get worse as you go on and on. Spoiler alert—the final circle is basically sitting in a room watching Canada Action Plan ads over and over again on a loop. 

By now everyone is familiar with these ads. You can't watch a hockey game or an episode of Steven and Chris in this country without a Canada Action Plan ad telling you to love your government because your government loves you. My favourite one is the one that tells us how much our government loves and cares for our veterans. I swear to you, if I have a stroke in the next 12 months it will be while I’m watching one of those commercials. 

Governments are not supposed to spend taxpayers' money on ads promoting their own party or their election platform. End of story. 

Now, I'm not saying this government is the first one to do it, far from it. But let’s give credit where credit is due. They have turned it into a fine art. They have spent over 620 million tax dollars on such advertising since they’ve been elected. Partisan advertising has become like doping in sports. Those who do it, defend it. But we all know it’s designed to give one party an unfair edge. And we all know it’s cheating.

Canada's Action Plan. The only thing honest is the title. Canada—I know what that means. And I know what action the government’s doing to us when they put those ads on TV. I would draw a picture, but that, you can't show in primetime.