Big oil gouging the public: obscene profits

According to the TIMESONLINE, BP and Royal Dutch Shell have reported massive increases in profits for the first three months of this year on the back of rocketing oil prices.BP's pre-tax profits rose 48 per cent in the first quarter to $6.6 billion while Shell increased its profits 12 per cent to a record $7.8 billion.

Meanwhile back here in Canada Petro-Canada has exceeded expectations by reporting a more than 80 per cent year-over-year jump in first-quarter profit. Petrocan's revenue soared to $6.58-billion from $4.84-billion in the first quarter of 2007, yielding a profit of $1.07-billion.

Worldwide the gouging of consumers continues driven by the greed of speculators. This is having a catastrophic effect as it ripples through the world economy driving up the cost of essential goods such as food. When will somebody in power speak out against the piling of obscene profits no matter what the cost?


Sport of choice: Ball size

INTERESTING OBSERVATION1. The sport of choice for the urban poor is BASKETBALL. 2 The sport of choice for maintenance level employees is BOWLING 3 The sport of choice for front-line workers is FOOTBALL. 4 The sport of choice for supervisors is BASEBALL. 5 The sport of choice for middle management is TENNIS. and....6 The sport of choice for corporate executives and officers is GOLF. THE AMAZING CONCLUSION: The higher you go in the corporate structure, the smaller your balls become.


Smitherman: Cut staff and beds

Everyone knows that Canada faces a medical crisis. We are besieged daily with expert articles telling us about shortages of doctors, nurses and other skilled medical personnel and the ill waiting months for surgery because there are not enough hospital beds to accommodate them post-surgery. Given this context, I was surprised to pick up the newspaper today and read that Ontario Health Minister George Smitherman is saying that the Ontario government is not about to bail out hospitals that are laying off nurses and closing beds. He suggested that the cuts may be a necessary evil to help the hospitals balance their budgets.

Has the Ontario government lost its marbles? I agree that budgets must be balanced but not on the backs of nurses and hospital beds.



Is Bilingualism A Failed policy?

In an op-ed piece in Saturday's Globe and Mail, KONRAD YAKABUSKI examines the state of bilingualism in Canada and concluded that bilingualism is a failed policy. Recently there has been controversy about the efficacy of early French immersion programs in some provinces, particulary New Brunswick, Canada's only officially bilingual province. Yakabuski oberserved that, despite the billions spent since the adoption of the Official Languages Act in 1969, the already derisory rates of bilingualism are falling in English Canada. And in Quebec there is a continued obsession with making everyone learn French, to heck with English even though that is the world's language of commerce (with Chinese on the rise).

However, contrary to Yakabuski's opinion, you cannot aspire to be an executive in the federal public service unless you are a fluently bilingual anglophone, a francophone or a female. If you are a francophone female with some talent, the world is your oyster. You can be fast-tracked to the most senior levels of the public service in rapid fashion.

Yakabuski states: "Ottawa still works largely as it did before 1969: If there's an anglo in the room, the meeting is in English." That is simply no longer true. If you are an anglophone in B.C. or Newfoundland who somehow made it to the executive level, you will forced to sit through management meetings or teleconferences listening to your francophone colleagues pontificate while you struggle to understand them in your fractured French.

Canada's experiment as a bilingual country is not working for the vast majority of Canadians.



Wheels off Clinton campaign

The wheels are coming off the Clinton campaign train. Tonight Clinton lost her chief campaign strategist Mark Penn who was forced to resign his position after becoming embroiled in controversy after he was discovered lobbying for a free-trade agreement with Columbia that Hillary has opposed. Penn was caught in a conflict of interest because he had kept his $3m a year job as head of the British-owned lobbying firm Burson-Marsteller while guiding Mrs Clinton's campaign. In that capacity he was caught lobbying the Columbian ambassador on behalf of the proposed free trade agreement.

To compound the damage Penn had earlier tried to limit the damage by calling the meeting an "error in judgment". In retaliation the Colombian government announced Saturday it had fired Burson-Marsteller after Penn apologized for meeting with its representatives, saying his statement conveyed a "lack of respect" for the country.

Also the public release of the Clintons tax returns showing an income of $109 million over eight years will hardly enhance her standing with blue-collar workers.


Prison versus Work

You'd rather be working than stuck in prison like Conrad Black, right? Not so quick.... Maybe you should consider the following factors before answering so quickly....


You spend most of your time in a 10X10 cell


You spend most of your time in an6X6 cubicle


You get three meals a day, fully paid for


You get a break for one meal and you have to pay for it


For good behavior, you get time off


For good behavior, you get more work


The guard locks and unlocks all the doors for you


You must carry a security card and open all the doors yourself


You can watch TV and play games


You could get fired for watching TV and playing games


You get your own toilet


You have to share the toilet with people who pee on the seat


They allow your family and friends to visit


You aren't even supposed to speak to your family


All expenses are paid by the taxpayers with no work required


You must pay all your expenses to go to work, and they deduct taxes from your salary to pay for prisoners


You spend most of your life inside bars wanting to get out


You spend most of your time wanting to get out and go inside bars


You must deal with sadistic wardens


They are called 'managers'

Maybe Conrad doesn't have it so bad After all.

Why Hillary will lose

Alan Abramowitz at RealClearPolitics.com presents a detailed and interesting set of projections on the likely outcome of the Democratic nomination battle. He projects that Barack Obama will still have a lead of 153 pledged delegates and 107 total delegates at the end of the primary season. Assuming that there are no switches among the superdelegates who have already endorsed a candidate, this means that in order to make up a deficit of 107 delegates, Hillary Clinton would have to win the support of 66 percent of the 349 uncommitted superdelegates. He points out that this would require a substantial improvement on the 55 percent support level that she currently enjoys among superdelegates who have made an endorsement. An interesting footnote is that that 53 percent of the remaining uncommitted superdelegates are from states that have supported or are expected to support Barack Obama while only 42 percent are from states that have supported or are expected to support Hillary Clinton.

This analysis indicates that Hillary's chances of winning the nomination are slim to non-existent.
For details, go to:


Another Day, Another Poll

If you didn't like the April 1st poll showing the Tories with a 10 per cent lead, here's another one more in line with the majority of recent polls showing the two major parties in a dead heat. The moral of the story is: if you don't like today's polls, wait for tomorrow's.

The latest Canadian Press Harris-Decima survey suggests the Conservatives and Liberals remain in a virtual deadlock in public support.The Tories have 32 per cent support, with the Liberals at 30 per cent, which is within the survey’s margin of error.


Quebec/"The fruit is not ripe"

Apparently Jean-Pierre Blackburn was busy today trying to swallow his words from yesterday. Having indicated that a Conservative majority would open the Pandora's Box of constitutional change and satisfy Quebec's historical demands, he was busy backtracking today. Today he said:

""I think everyone can see the fruit is not ripe at this stage.As Quebecers, we can all hope to see the day when all these measures are part of the Canadian Constitution. However, to do it you need the will of the provinces, you need the right circumstances to head in that direction."

As Macleans so cleverly put it: "He did not say whether the fruit would be ripe if the Conservatives won a majority government."

Another Conservative Quebec MP, Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon attempted to slam the door shut: "There is absolutely no appetite to open the Constitution and to have any amendments to the Constitution."

But the horse is out of the barn. The fruit is rotten. The only question is: can the Liberals ride it smoothly to reverse their sagging fortunes?


Harper's Tories Pandering to Quebec

According to the Globe and Mail, the Harper government is telling Quebecers that if the Conservatives win a majority in the next election, they will look to reopen the Constitution and give more meaning to their recognition of Quebeckers as a nation. Jean-Pierre Blackburn linked satisfying“Quebec's historical demands'' to the possibility of the Conservatives winning 30 to 40 seats in Quebec, up from the current 11. Blackburn indicated that the Conservatives will launch further constitutional talks with the provinces if the Conservatives form a majority. According to a recent poll the Conservatives and the Bloc are neck and neck, at 29 per cent and 30 per cent, respectively in Quebec.

It appears that Harper's Conservatives are prepared to sell their principles (assuming they have some) for the sake of stealing some nationalist seats from the BQ in the next election in the hope of securing a majority. How will this go down in the Conservative/Reform heartland out west? If I were a Liberal stategist, I'd be arranging for someone (not Dion) to give great prominence to Blackburn's comments in Saskatechewan, Alberta and British Columbia. Why let Harper get away with this dumb move without subjecting it to the cold light of day?

Have they forgotten the Kim Campbell debacle after Mulroney's attempts to buy Quebec off through Meech Lake and later Charlottetown? Maybe there's still some hope for the Liberals after all.



Is Dion on the ropes?

According to a new Toronto Star/Angus Reid Poll, Stephane Dion's voter approval rating stands at only 11 per cent, and the Tory party has a 10-point lead. The party standings were:

Conservatives 36%
Liberals 26%
NDP 18%
Green 9%
Bloc Quebecois 9%

Apparently 57 % disapprove of Dion's performance. And Canadians continue to express doubts about Harper as prime minister. Harper's approval rating is only 33 %

Dion seems headed for the abyss. Don't be surprised if Harper concocts some excuse to provoke an election to capitalize Dion's sagging fortunes.

Note: Other recent polls have shown the two parties virtually tied.