Sunday, December 24, 2006

Happy Christmas

It's been nine months since I took fingers to keyboard and started the Doggerel Party. Things have tapered off recently, with the arrival of baby Ewan at HQ. However, there has been plenty to fill the last nine months. We've covered lots of things that we shouldn't have had to: natives getting away with vandalism and attempted murder in Caledonia; journalists fabricating news in the mid-East; unsavory political machinations, and so on. Locally, this blog became the focus of an entire community's controversies, disputes and divides as the Montague township election and aftermath unfolded.

Recently, while idle, I could have been writing about the usurption of Christmas by commercial interests, or the attempted elimination of Christmas by politically correct zealots.

Today we went to the family Christmas Eve service at our church. I was holding my infant son as the Gospel story of the birth of Christ was read and the carols were sung. Looking at the pure, blank canvas that is every newborn, and remembering that Christ came into the world as one of these to save all of us, the meaning of Christmas is thrown into very sharp relief this year and the sense of peace I experienced in that service was very profound.

So in the end, it doesn't matter who you are, or what your politics are, or even if you believe in Christmas or not. Christ was born in Bethlehem those 2,000 years ago for you, for me and for all of us. The gift of that inner peace is yours and mine, and it remains on offer for as long as it takes someone to decide to receive it.

So from TDPC HQ to all readers, no matter who or where you are, I wish you the gift of that inner peace tonight and this Christmas. There will be lots of time for the politcal fighting in the new year, but for this next 24 hours may we all enjoy the real gifts of Christmas.

A very happy, peaceful and blessed Christmas to you all.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Environment, You Are The Weakest Link... Goodbye

PMSH gave what has to be the least veiled thinly veiled hint ever today that Rona Ambrose's days as Minister of the Environment are numbered. This will turn out to be a good move, I think. This portfolio is a tough one to master, and it needs a heavyweight politician.

Minister Ambrose's announcement today on biofuels is a typical case where a heavier approach is needed. Mandating bio content for diesel fuel is a subject dear to my heart and to my VW's fuel tank; 2% by 2012 doesn't seem to be trying very hard. This is ironic for a country that produces so much canola. Indeed, Europe is beginning to relax their ban on Canadian GM canola, not for their food supply, but for their biodiesel industry. We could and should be a leader in biofuels, but it needs some political muscle to make it happen. Rona Ambrose just doesn't seem to have the 'ooomph' necessary. The slightly half-hearted nature of the plans combined with a tentative delivery is making the government very vulnerable on these issues.

With a strong hitter in this portfolio, there's no reason why the government can't hold its own in any environmental debate. We're up against a man who as environment minister presided over constant increases in pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, a man who can't even figure out which passports he wants to carry. As Don Martin wrote in the Southam newspapers today, Stephen Harper is betting that strong leadership will beat poll-watching - nowhere is this more true than on the environment file. But the government needs to try, and be seen to be trying, a little harder, while still avoiding the pie-in-the-sky dreamworlds of Mr. Dion and his dog Kyoto.

Montague : The Reckless Steals TDPC's Controversies

Keen and observant readers have noticed that there has been silence here for nearly two weeks, during which a war of letters has raged in the Smiths Falls Record News. One commenter observed that this should be taking place here, not in the Reckless, so here's an open thread for Montague-ites to discuss recent developments:
  • How's the new council doing, after their first two meetings?
  • What do you think about the letter exchanges in the Record News?
  • Why isn't it snowing in Montague Township and does this have to do with the hot air from the Reckless?
  • Anything else that's on your mind.

Have at 'er....

Friday, December 08, 2006

A Leader Writes : 'Steph' Dion on Principles

On French Citizenship:

One day:

He snapped when a reporter raised New Democrat MP Pat Martin's opposing opinion on the matter: "He may keep his opinion to himself. I am proud of who I am, and I am fully loyal to my country. I think I have proven it, and no one will question it."

The Next Day:

"I'm born like that. It's part of me. It's my mother who gave that to me. And like all sons, I love my mother and I love what she gave to me. And so to remove that from me, I'd be sad," Dion said.

"This being said, if I see that it's a liability for our winnability, I will do it."

On The Environment:

One Day:

"Just as important was the climate change plan for our country that I released in April 2005. Project Green recognized what we all know: the next economic crisis will revolve around energy. Canada’s climate change plan recognized this by being both a powerful environmental plan, while also being a forward-looking energy plan."

The Next Day:

"Project Green. It's part of me. It's David Suzuki who gave that to me. And like all CBC viewers, I love David Suzuki and I love what he gave to me. And so to remove that from me, I'd be sad," Dion said.

"This being said, if I see that it's a liability for our winnability, I will do it."

On Social Justice:

One Day:

"If you give me the opportunity to be the prime Minister of this country, as a Liberal I will improve our social programs and the social safety net, because I believe that is the key to ensuring that we live in a just and fair society."

The Next Day:

"The Social Safety Net. It's part of me. It's Pierre Trudeau who gave that to me. And like all Liberals, I love Pierre Trudeau and I love what he gave to me. And so to remove that from me, I'd be sad," Dion said.

"This being said, if I see that it's a liability for our winnability, I will do it."

On Healthcare:

One Day:

"My approach to healthcare in Canada is based upon the binding moral principle of equity and our shared objective of providing the best quality care."

The Next Day:

"The binding moral principle of equity. It's part of me. It's Tommy Douglas who gave that to me. And like all New Democrats Liberals, I love Tommy Douglas and I love what he gave to me. And so to remove that from me, I'd be sad," Dion said.

"This being said, if I see that it's a liability for our winnability, I will do it."

Continued ad nauseum....

Irony, Liberal Style

Is it just me who finds it ironic that the interim Liberal leader compares Tories to Nazis on the same day as the extent of anti-Semitism in the Liberal party is revealed?

Let's All Send $0.29

Joanne Hussey, ringleader of the Women Who Are Angry says that Stephen Harper owes her 29 cents, being the supposed difference between what she makes at her job and what a man would make. Not that the Atlantic Centre of Excellence in Women's Health would employ a male in her position, but I digress.

Since it's the season of giving, I suggest to all readers that they should place 29 pennies in an envelope and mail them to:

Joanne Hussey
ACEWH
1465 Brenton St., Ste 502
Halifax, Nova Scotia B3J 3T4

Maybe she'll be less angry if enough people make up her missing $0.29.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Montague Council Meeting

The first meeting of the new township council was held last night (Tuesday 5th December 2006) and I attended along with about 30 other members of the public. And for those loyal readers who have enquired about my take on how it went, I have good news. The good news is... the meeting was actually pretty dull in places. No fireworks, no controversy to speak of, no anger, no animosity.

The meeting opened with a presentation from MPAC, the beloved corporation responsible for property value assessment in Ontario. Everything at MPAC is kind of on hold while they grapple with the Ombudsman's highly critical report, so this was really just an update on where they are in the process of improving things. The only major item of interest here is that MPAC claims they need an 11% increase in funding in order to implement the recommendations in the report; that funding comes only from Ontario municipalities.

Our council endorsed a resolution from the Niagara region strongly opposing this funding increase; MPAC is to begin consultations with municipalities across the province shortly.

Apart from the routine business of council the only other issues of note were the passing of a resolution stating that council will no longer initiate discussion of the legal matters in the recent past, and the discussion of council remuneration.

Council passed a motion to restore remuneration to where it was prior to the outgoing council's last meeting, but also called on the staff to conduct another study to compare Montague with other Lanark County municipalities. Peter Kavanagh pointed out that since Council was only faced with the discussion because of a deeply unethical act, it was only proper to restore the status quo and then go from there. The only councillor unhappy with this decision was Dianne Coates, who was of the opinion that the review should happen prior to any adjustments.

There was some discussion of the Rideau 175 anniversary celebrations; Bill Dobson had attended a symposium on the celebrations being planned and some ideas for Montague to participate were discussed.

Peter Kavanagh drew attention to the excellent work of the Fire Department during the recent storm, and Council received a letter from one couple thanking the firefighters for their help.

There was an open question session at the end of the meeting, as promised.

All in all, it was an excellent start and sets a new course.

On that note, I was disappointed by the editorial in today's 'Reckless'. The newspaper draws attention to the two recent letters to the editor and then, based on the letter from Don Page, accuses Montague's new council and the MRA of attempting to stifle free speech. This is mischievous of the newspaper. My views on the Page letter are already here for people to read - I'm not a big fan. But I also know for a fact that Mr. Page's letter was written without the knowledge of the MRA, and certainly had nothing to do with the new Council. It's just deliberate stirring of the pot for the Record News to link Mr. Page's letter with the new Council. Shame on you, Reckless.

Angry Women Revealed

Sharp eyed blogger (and newcomer?) Silk Stocking busts open the identity and workplace of the famous Angry Women.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

It Was Only A Matter of Time

before this happened.

The Corgis Are Angry...

... and two of them are bitches.

This Macleans story about a group calling itself Women Are Angry has already been given the royal treatment by Kathy and Kate. I particularly like Kate's treatment of the Angry Women logo.

The Women Are Angry for several reasons. TDPC would like to soothe their ruffled feathers, so let's take a look at each of their reasons for being so angry, shall we?
On September 25, 2006, Stephen Harper's government announced a $5 Million dollar (40%) cut to the budget of Status of Women Canada.
Ladies, ladies. 40% does seem like an awfully big cut, doesn't it? Perhaps you'd be less angry if you'd paid more attention in math class, or if that nasty male teacher hadn't stereotyped you as being unable to learn math. Because in my world, $5m from a $23m budget is 21.7%. There. You're half as angry already!
This cut, along with $95 Million dollars in other cuts, have destroyed vital programs for women, children and families across this country.
Name one. Name a program that has been 'destroyed'. You'd be a lot less angry if you stopped hallucinating, you know.
Prime Minister Harper has justified these cuts by suggesting that equality has already been achieved for women in Canada.
Did you gals miss this little Charter of Rights and Freedoms thing we have here?
Women in Canada face inequality everyday, the most obvious example of which isthe fact that in 2005, Statistics Canada reported that women still earn just 71 cents for every dollar earned by men.
See, you're all angry again about something that just isn't true. Men and women earn equal wages for equal work. Show me an employer who pays a female employee less than a male for the same job. Show me the $0.71 and the $1.00 paycheques. It doesn't exist. It's a lie. You'd be much happier if you stopped inventing untruths to make yourselves angry.

Women deserve EQUALITY, which includes an equal share in the wealth we have created through both our paid and unpaid work.

So we can expect you Angry Women to get behind the campaign for income splitting then, so that all the unpaid work that women do in the home finally gets recognized?

I suspect that the www.thewomenareangry.org website traffic is peaking today, and that their message is getting out to a whole lot of people - but it may not be the audience they were hoping for.

There's another great quote in the Maclean's piece from Alexandra Dobrowolsky. Challenged on the fact that SOW does no real work for women, but pursues endless research:
"It's not accurate at all to say this research is going nowhere," she says. "You're sparking a lot of debate and you're getting people mobilized."

Phew. What a relief. For a second I thought the $25m a year was being wasted, but no! It's sparking debate.

We at TDPC are only angry that these people leeches sucked so many of our tax dollars into their endless research and advocacy and in so doing deprived many women of real concrete help they might have needed.

Moving Targets

The Ottawa Citizen reported yesterday that parked cars in Ottawa are being targeted by drug addicts, who steal valuables in order to pay for their next fix. The Doggerel Party feels that it would better serve the interests of justice - and also be entertaining - if the addicts concerned were to target moving vehicles instead.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Sometimes It's Nice To Be Wrong

So, St├ęphane Dion beat the odds, the pundits and the corgis' prediction to take the Liberal leadership. No doubt time will tell whether this was a good choice for the Liberals, but I am feeling more comfortable after the weekend than I was before it.

Mr. Dion is in many ways like Stephen Harper. He's quiet, not at all charismatic, smart, policy oriented, and so forth. In a race between two such men, neither of whom might engage many people on a 'gut' level, the incumbent has a huge advantage - people have had time to be comfortable with Harper, the sky has not fallen in and people will choose the known over the unknown most of the time.

Mr. Dion's biggest issue, the environment, is also arguably one of his weakest. Not only did he preside over a 33% increase in greenhouse gas emissions as Liberal environment minister, but the plan he released during the leadership race (a) 'borrowed' heavily from the Suzuki Foundation, and (b) pretty much matches the Conservative's Clean Air Act. A Liberal leader saying one thing and doing the opposite might be a hard sell, with so much of that kind of thing still fresh in peoples' minds.

Dion is part of the old Chretien and Martin teams, and represents less of a break from the past than the Liberals might have wanted. It shouldn't be too difficult to dig up clips of him from Adscam days defending his party, for example.

In choosing Dion, most people's third or fourth choice, the Liberals follow a pattern of defeated government parties; I can see a comparison with the Conservative Party in the UK going with William Hague after John Major. You pick a compromise, or unity, candidate. He's not really anyone's first choice, but he's inoffensive. Often he has a 'break the mold' kind of buzz around him - aka 'generational shift'. And in the end he loses the next election and steps down, albeit leaving a party in much stronger shape and with the confidence to choose a real leader next time around.

Once the honeymoon is over and the polls settle down from their post-convention fever, we'll see what Mr. Dion is made of. Will he be Stephen Harper the second? Or will he be the between-election rebuilder of an opposition Liberal party?

Friday, December 01, 2006

Handel's Hydro Music

So, the situation here at TDPC HQ tonight is this: There is a small-ish ice storm going on, and as a result a limb of maple tree is hanging nicely from the hydro and telephone lines between the house and the hydro pole on the other side of the street. As you might expect, Hydro One is kind of busy tonight, and we've been on hold for 2 1/2 hours now waiting to report our potentially imminent power outage.

I don't object; they are swamped no doubt. But who chooses the holding music???? A sample: Early on, we had The Most Wonderful Time of The Year. Shortly afterward we were treated to My Favorite Things... yes, of course, we love raindrops on roses. At the 72 minute mark, we got Let It Snow. Er... no, actually, if it would not snow, that would be fine with me. And the piece de resistance, O Tannenbaum. Next years hot holiday album folks, the Hydro One Ice Storm Medley. Get it now, while your call is in priority sequence.