Words to live by for 2010


1. Throw out nonessential numbers. This includes age, weight and height. Let the doctors worry about them. That is why you pay 'them'

2. Keep only cheerful friends.. The grouches pull you down.

3. Keep learning. Learn more about the computer, crafts, gardening, whatever. Never let the brain idle. 'An idle mind is the devil's workshop.'

4. Enjoy the simple things.

5. Laugh often, long and loud. Laugh until you gasp for breath.

6. The tears happen. Endure, grieve, and move on. The only person, who is with us our entire life, is ourselves. Be ALIVE while you are alive.

7. Surround yourself with what you love , whether it's family, pets, keepsakes, music, plants, hobbies, whatever. Your home is your refuge..

8. Cherish your health: If it is good, preserve it. If it is unstable, improve it. If it is beyond what you can improve, get help.

9. Don't take guilt trips. Take a trip to the mall, even to the next county; to a foreign country but NOT to where the guilt is.

10. Tell the people you love that you love them, at every opportunity.

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.

We all need to live life to its fullest each day!!


Restraining the PM's power to prorogue Parliament

All of us who oppose Stephen Harper's decision to prorogue Parliament want to spark spark a debate on new conventions governing the powers of a prime minister and a governor general. Let's urge the Opposition parties to tackle this now that Parliament's back.


Canadians against proroguing Parliament, Harper abuse of power, restrain PM's powers


Duelling Polls: How would Canadians Vote?

Two conflicting polls released in the past couple of days suggest widely different outcomes if an election were held today.

An Harris-Decima poll conducted Feb. 18-28 for the Canadian Press shows the Tories and Liberals tied at 31 per cent each with the NDP at 16 per cent. "It appears that the so-called ‘new normal’ in Canadian politics is a statistical tie between the two main parties,” said pollster Allan Gregg. “Neither one has been able to capture the federalist vote in Quebec; the Conservatives continue to be locked out of the major metropolitan centres, while the same can be said for the Liberals in the Prairies and in most parts of rural Canada.”

These poll results are similar to those of a number of recent polls. http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/773840--tories-liberals-both-stalled-poll

On the other hand an Ipsos Reid poll conducted for CanWest and Global National suggests that voters would elect another Tory minority.In that poll the Conservatives enjoyed the support of 37 per cent of voters across the country, followed by the Liberals with 29 per cent and the NDP with 16 per cent.Ipsos surveyed 1,000 Canadians by telephone Feb. 18-22. http://www.montrealgazette.com/story_print.html?id=2628789&sponsor=

The Harris-Decima poll was conducted over a longer period and polled twice as many voters.Given that it is consistent with a number of recent polls the Harper government would be ill-advised to read too much into the results of the Ipsos-Reid poll suggesting that they would coast to an easy victory.

Libs-Cons tied, New polls, Conflicting polls, voter intentions, Tories easy victory


Danny Williams medicare debate Part II

John Gedded has an excellent piece in Macleans on the Danny Williams health care controversy. He concludes:

"Canada should be looking for ways to adapt, not revolutionize, health care. If the path from primary physician to specialist is shorter in the U.S., learn from that. If, as I’ve been told recently by Canadian doctors, Britain has done better at cutting wait times within a public system, learn from that. If Europe is broadly better at computerized records, there’s our classroom.

"None of these potential lessons, I’m afraid, has zing to match of the saga of a millionaire politician jetting south for surgery. Personal stories are fun to tell. Policy requires charts and graphs."

His observations bolster the case for the universal healthcare insurance that we have in Canada.


Commonwealth Fund, Danny Williams, health care, wait times

Danny Williams and medicare

Lorrie Golstein asks why are lib-left commentators giving Danny Williams an easy pass after he went to US for cardiac surgery. The columnist then indulges in the usual right-wing diatribe on why we need two-tier medicine in Canada.

There are some legitimate questions as to why people are letting Danny Williams off the hook on this. I think the main reason he went to Florida is because he could recuperate in the sun in his Sarasota condo.

The bottom line is that the Premier is responsible for health care in Newfoundland and Labrador. Hence, he should hacve accessed the surgery he needed here in Canada where it is available.


Danny Williams, medicare, heathcare, two-tier medicine


New Procurement Agreement

The Harper government and provinces signed a multi-pronged government procurement agreement with the United States on February 16 that will see provincial and local spending powers permanently limited under World Trade Organization (WTO) rules. It is unacceptable that the government would sign a new procurement agreement with the United States, and permanently include the provinces and territories in the WTO's Government Procurement Agreement (GPA), while Parliament is prorogued and without any parliamentary approval process.



High Noon on March 3rd

Writing in the Toronto Star, James Travers discusses what is likely to happen when Parliament commences its new session. He foresees a contest of wills that will test Parliament's control over the Prime Minister.

He observes that the dispute over the release of documents pertaining to the Afghan dtainess issue is "turning Parliament's March 3 return into high noon. Once the throne speech is read, expect the Prime Minister's refusal to be raised as a point of privilege. It then becomes a priority that must be considered before debate moves on to the budget and economic issues more in the Prime Minister's interest." The House could find the Prime Minister in contempt.

More profoundly, he concludes:

"Over the past 50 years, Canadian prime ministers have taken back powers it took 500 years to strip from British monarchs. Harper's current confrontation with Parliament is a rare opportunity to reinforce that the Prime Minister answers to the Commons and, through it, to the people. Eroded by stealth and increment, that principle is too important not to defend, even if the result is an election no one wants."

Amen to that.



Are you a "cat" or a "dog" person?

Are you a "cat" or a "dog" person?

As a rule, dogs are more social and eager to please, while cats are more introverted and curious.In a new study, self-described cat and dog people appeared to share these traits.

Check it out:


How to replace Harper in next election

During the past two elections the Conservatives have been able to form a minority government with the support of only about a third of Canadian voters. The alignmet of the vote on the right through the merger of the Reform and Progressive Conservative parties while the vote from the center to the left is split several ways has allowed Harper to seize and hang on to power.

Philip Resnick and Reg Whitaker, writing in today's The Tyee, call on the Liberals, New Democrats and Greens to make an electoral deal. This is something I have been advocating for some time. Basically it would involve the caucuses and leaders of the three opposition parties whose principal support lies outside Quebec agreeing amongst themselves not to contest a sufficient number of seats across the country so as not to split the anti-Conservative vote. As Resnick and Whitaker point out,
"roughly 65 percent of Canadian voters do not want a Conservative government for a whole variety of reasons -- its contempt for Parliament and for an independent civil service, its poor environmental policy, its gutting of cultural programs, its weakening of Canada's international position as a respected middle power."

They suggest that these three parties focus on the 60-80 seats where a three-way split in opposition party votes has allowed the Conservatives to win ridings with fewer than 35 percent of the votes, or come within striking distance of defeating current Liberal or NDP sitting members. "The party with the best-placed candidate in 2008 would then be able to run its candidate, with the others stepping down. To ensure the Greens some representation, in particular the seat where its leader chooses to run, the other two parties would give its candidate a clear run."

I think that this is the right way forward. Identify those seats that could be taken from the Conservatives if the other parties cooperated and do just that.



Harper's latest gambit

After weeks of being criticized for proroguing the Commons, Harper is trying to win back pissed-off Canadians by adding extra House sittings in March and April to make up some lost time. The plan is to cancel two weeks of planned parliamentary breaks, including one in March that MPs often use for vacations.

Conservatives are denying that this is an admission that prorogation was a bad idea.

Harper was too clever by half the last time he tried to outsmart the opposition. This is a rather lame-brained attempt to make up for lost ground.



Harper in trouble

A new Harris-Decima poll puts Liberals and Tories in dead heat, with opposition making inroads in key battlegrounds. Overall the two parties are tied at 32 per cent. But Harris-Decima chairman Allan Gregg says the real story lies below the headline numbers.

“What you have on the surface is a dead heat, but if you dig a little deeper, what you see is that the Liberals are clearly making some inroads into key, battleground constituencies.”

“They are emerging as the federalist default option to the BQ in the province of Quebec, they are ahead in Ontario for the first time since September.”

He observed that Harper's decision to prorogue Parliament has added to what has always been a character issue. In terms of his leadership rating, "Harper basically took a 14-point hit between fall and post-prorogation.”

Keep it up Canadians! Let him know what we think and we may soon be rid of this dictator.



Stretching credulity to breaking point

Sometimes you see the most ridiculous things that stretch credulity to the breaking point. An example is a piece in the Toronto Sun by former Conservative MP Monte Solberg headlined:
"Harper government is a conservation leader."

You have to wonder what Solberg, a long-time favourite of Conservative bloggers, has been smoking since he left public office. He trots out a few examples of nature conservancy and Ducks Unlimited initiatives to support his preposterous thesis.

The reality of course is that the Harper government has an abyssmal record on environmental and conservation issues. Their position on climate change, or lack of a position that entails anything other than propping up Big Oil, is well known. Canada was the laughing stock of the recent Copenhagen Conference and won more fossil awards than the space available to accommodate them in Ottawa. This is still the bald fact notwithstanding Rex Murphy's sarcastic comments in today's National Post about the advocates of the need to take measures to address and mitigate the effects of climate change. Rex used to always get carried away by the sound of his own voice and mastery of arcane words even when I knew him at Memorial University. He's beginning to sound a bit like David Warren, resident fossil at the Ottawa Citizen.

But I digress. Nothing exemplifies more clearly the poor track record of the Harper government on conservation issues than its recent sell-out of Canadian interests in the renogtiation of the Convention for the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries, i.e. the NAFO issue. The House of Commons Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, after extensive hearings, called on the Harper government to reject the proposed NAFO amendments and to launch an objection to kill the ratification process. The House of Commons itself by majority vote adopted a motion by Liberal Fisheries critic Gerry Byrne calling on the government to scuttle the amendments. In line with its general disdain for Parliament and all things democratic, the Harper government proceeded the very next day to announce Canadian ratification of the NAFO amendments which had been widely condemned by experienced former DFO executives and the Parliament of Canada. I will touch on the implications of this for conservation of straddling fish stocks in a subsequent post.

So, Mr. Solberg, I suggest you look a little more clearly at the government's record on environmental/conservation issues before making preposterous claims that do not bear up to scrutiny.


Harper a political changeling

James Travers continues to demonstrate that he is one of the most astute political observers writing for Canadian media. In his latest column he observes:

"The problem is Harper is a political changeling. Instead of the rigid ideologue feared by many voters, his guide rail is expediency. He will say and do whatever is necessary to take, protect and manipulate power. The PM fills political vacuum with rhetorical hokum."

He is "the suspect promoter of promises that come from nowhere and are going nowhere."

The best description of Harper that I have seen so far.



Harper on the precipice

There is growing speculation that Harper has squandered his opportunity for a majority. The latest series of polls suggest a possibility that the Liberals could form a minority government if the March budget precipitates a spring election.

The latest seat projections from EKOS Research suggest that the Liberals could get enough seats to displace Harper. Also a new Angus Reid poll shows that 57 per cent of Canadians believe a federal election this year is “very likely” or “moderately likely”. It also shows that 61 per cent of Canadians disagree with the government’s decision to prorogue.

The portrayal of Harper as an anti-democratic tyrant could form the election issue the Opposition has been seeking. They should focus on and hone this perception in the months ahead.

Info from: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/blogs/bureau-blog/will-canadians-want-to-throw-the-bums-out-in-a-spring-election/article1447446/


Still tied in polls as Opposition prepares to turn up the heat

According to a new Ipsos-Reid poll, the Conservatives hold only a slim lead over the Liberals. This confirms earlier polls this past week, and suggests the government's response to the earthquake in Haiti has not translated into substantial political dividends.

Meanwhile the opposition plans to keep the heat on the government as government ministers fan out across the country in an attempt to raise the government's plummeting approval ratings. The Liberals will hold a series of meetings on Parliament Hill this week, following on the heels of the anti-prorogation rallies on Saturday.

Read more: http://www.nationalpost.com/news/story.html?id=2479681#ixzz0dag32lVx



Take back the power from King Harper

James Travers has an excellent article in the Toronto Star entitled "You have the power to rein in this PM" which sends a pwerful message of reinforcement to those of us who participated in today's rallies against prorogation. Travers decscribes " a slim book, published 100 years before Saturday's protests against Stephen Harper's darkened Parliament, (that )the Prime Minister should read. Written by professor and poet R.S. Jenkins, Canadian Civics makes the still timely point that "government is too vital to be left to politicians, that citizenship is not a spectator sport."

"What too many now grasp for Conservative comfort is that the Prime Minister is slipping the essential bonds of democratic control. Harper has gone too far in tipping the balance of power from Parliament to Prime Minister, from the legislature to the executive."

I was impressed with the wide range of ages at the Ottawa rally today. Contrary to pundit predictions there was a high preponderance of over 40s, many in their 50s and 60s. These are the voters. The students from Ottawa U did a great job organizing it. I was proud to stand there among a wide range of people telling Harper to "et back to work" Harper badly miscaculated on his prorogation move. As Danny Williams said in NL first, vote ABC (anybody but Conservative) in the next election. To this end it would be a good idea if the Liberals and the NDP didn't split the vote in key ridings that could be taken from the Cons otherwise.


Harper stands alone in abuse of prorogation power

Stephen Harper stands alone among Westminster-style peers when it comes to using prorogation to shut down Parliament for pure political gain, according to Richard Foote in the Sunday Citizen. No other English-speaking nation with a system of government like ours -- not Britain, Australia or New Zealand -- has ever had its parliament prorogued in modern times, so that its ruling party could avoid an investigation, or a vote of confidence, by other elected legislators.

Robert Hazell, the director of the prestigious Constitution Unit at the University College of London observes, "No other parliament has been prorogued in recent times to rescue the government from a political difficulty."



Further condemnation of Harper's prorogation decision

Even Conservative apologist CTV's Craig Oliver has read the tea leaves and joined the condemnation of Harper's prorogation decision.


Conservatives on verge of losing government

The detailed breakdown of the latest Ekos poll shows the Conservatives are on the "razor's edge" of losing government if an election were held today. Harper’s Conservatives would lose 33 seats and only maintain a slim hold on minority government if at all, according to an article by Jane Taber in the Globe and Mail.

Frank Graves’s seat projections are that the Tories would have only 112 seats compared to the 145 they have now. Last fall, when his polls had the Tories in majority government territory. Their biggest losses would occur in Ontario, dropping to 33 from 51 seats. The Liberals, meanwhile, would make gains in Ontario, taking 60 seats from their current 38. Nationally, Mr. Graves has the Ignatieff team winning 107 seats compared to the 77 seats they have now.

A steep price that Stephen Harper didn't consider when he decided to prorogue Parliament.


Prorogation tightens gap between Tories, Liberals

A new EKOS poll for CBC news essentially confirms the earlier Strategic Counsel poll. The lead enjoyed by the Conservatives over the Liberals has dramatically narrowed since Prime Minister Stephen Harper suspended Parliament last month. 30.9 per cent of those polled chose the Conservatives, and 29.3 per cent backed the Liberals.

Almost 64 percent of respondents felt suspending Parliament was "anti-democratic." EKOS president Frank Graves said "Canadians have noticed, they do care and this is having a very negative impact on Conservative fortunes."



New poll Conservatives/Liberals tied

Stephen Harper is paying a price for his decision to thumb his nose at democracy by prorogating Parliament.

A new poll by the Strategic Counsel shows that Conservative support has dropped in wake of Harper's decision to prorogue Parliament. Conservatives are at 31 per cent, compared to 30 per cent for Liberals, in the poll conducted by Strategic Counsel late last week.

More details in a report by Susan Delacourt in the Toronto Star:


Harper is going to pay for his obnoxious pattern of behavior.


Even conservative commentator turns against Harper

Diane Francis, writing in today's Financial Post, poses the question: Just what is Harper trying to pull? She observes:

"The decision by Stephen Harper, the Prime Minister, to prorogue Parliament again has upset some and sent others to their dictionaries.
The word means suspension, but not dissolution, and is an eye-glazer that masks to most Canadians the irritating fact that the Tories have essentially given federal politicians a month off with pay to watch the Winter Olympics in Vancouver. It's irritating that leaders would do this in a jobless recession.
The unjustifiable manoeuvre is undemocratic but most annoyingly unbusinesslike for Canada's party of business. Those, unlike MPs, who actually work for a living are outraged if they know about it. Others feel that the country should be prorogued for three weeks with pay to watch the Olympics, too, under the government's stimulus programs. This would be as effective as shovel-ready projects."


Has Harper lost his marbles?

Has Harper finally lost his marbles? He defends prorogation by arguing that Parliament in session creates instability. Does he understand the concept of parliamentary democracy?



Liberal ads effective

It took a long while but finally the Liberals have some effective ads now that they've chosen to ride the grassroots revolt. Scott

Liberals' ads ask: What is Stephen Harper trying to hide?

Harper underestimates public backlash

The grassroots' revolt against Harper's decision to prorogue Parliament continues. An Angus Reid poll found that 53 per cent of Canadians disagree with Harper's decision to prorogue Parliament, and only 19 per cent agreed with the move.


David Eaves points out in today's Globe and Mail that Harper underestimates Facebook at his own peril . The Facebook group Canadians against proroguing Parliament is now at 150, 000 strong and growing daily. Rallies are being organized across the country, including Ottawa, for January 23rd.



Emphasize arrogance to make prorogation stick to Harper

Bruce Anderson has a good piece in the Globe and Mail where he suggests that the way to get prorogation to stick to Harper is to emphasize that it is a major display of arrogance. And I would add: and contempt for voters.


The blog Skyreporter.com also has a good commentary on the prorogation issue entitled:
Most Canadians Reject Muzzling Of Their Parliament. See:



Proroguing may bite Harper in the ass

Stephen Maher in today's Halifax Chronicle Herald points out that if Canadians come to think that Mr. Harper is abusing their democratic institutions to suit his political goals — which he is — they won’t like that. http://thechronicleherald.ca/Opinion/1161290.html

Polls already indicate that the vast majority of Canadians disapprove of Harper's decision to proprogue Parliament. It may come back to bite him in the ass.

New full-body airport scanners

The reaction to Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's attempt to bring down an airplane over Detroit by detonating explosives sewn into his underwear has generated a new wave of security screening measures for air travellers. Full-body scanners are being installed in airports across Canada and around the world.

In a sober analysis of what this all means, James Travers, in today's Toronto Star, concludes:

"Peeking through passengers' pants won't find explosives in body cavities or provide a reliable substitute for the hard, expensive, painstaking and necessary work of analyzing data and connecting the dots before extremists can do their damage. Suicide bombers win when societies defined by freedom willingly trade it for the fantasy of security. They lose when treated as the thugs they are by countries that invest soundly and without delusion in their own protection and then demand results, not overreactions."


I agree with Travers. What do you think?