Tuesday, June 19, 2007

CanWest Steals Your Money

We've been on a spring-cleaning, simplifying and cost-cutting exercise at TDPC HQ recently, part of which was the decision to cancel a subscription to the Ottawa Citizen. Commonly this happens in the summer coincident with the end of woodstove season; we subscribe to the firelighting publication again as winter draws near.

With this seasonal cancellation I have been able to build up a pattern of billing practices from the Citizen that is consistent. Here's the deal. You pay your subscription by direct debit from a chequing account. A monthly payment is taken in advance from the bank and the newspaper arrives on the doorstep each morning. This part works. 

I've now cancelled a subscription four times and my experience has been the same every time. Cancelling is the easy part. The newspaper stops coming the next day. However, the billing continues. In the latest example, I cancelled well before the end of May, having been billed on May 19th for the coming month. Yesterday I was billed again - only this time I have just changed banks from TD to Scotia, so I incurred a $37.50 NSF charge on the old TD account, courtesy of CanWest.

On investigating with the Citizen's customer service line, it turns out that after the payment on the 19th May, there was a credit of $20 on my account - but their policy is that they don't return credit balances unless the customer asks. The customer service agent denied the new billing for June could have taken place, because it didn't show on the account. This might be because it was returned NSF?? I'm faxing the proof and hopefully we'll get that money back too. This has happened every time I cancel; it's always taken about 8 weeks to get them to stop billing and get our money back.

But how many other cancelled subscriptions have left credit balances in accounts and how much does the Citizen make from this fraudulent practice? How long do those balances sit waiting to be claimed before being absorbed into CanWest profit? Is this standard across all CanWest publications? Comments welcome from other cities...

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Bill Casselman The Word Guy: Who Knew?

I'm an occasional reader of Canadian Geographic magazine and have had occasion therefore to read occasional amusing and enlightening columns on Canadian words and figures of speech from Bill Casselman, author of several books on the subject.

Funnily enough I always pictured Mr. Casselman as an educated, kindly sort of chap whose affection for language was probably reflected in an equal affection for Canada and for people in general. I think many readers of Mr. Casselman's other work will therefore be surprised to discover that he is in fact a raving loony left moonbat with a fondess for profanity. Who knew?

Important Safety Recall

Federal Products International is announcing a safety recall on certain items manufactured at their Ottawa, Ontario facility on March 19, 2007.

Equalization Formula manufactured on this date may be subject to spontaneous combustion and explosion. Several cases have been reported in the maritimes and one in Saskatchewan. No deaths have been attributed to the Equalization Formula but several cases of political damage have occurred.

If you are currently using Equalization Formula you should cease immediately. Previously manufactured Equalization Formula should also not be used as it is likely to be past its best before date and could be stale.

Falklands 25

Today marks the 25th anniversary of the British victory in the Falklands War. I vividly remember the events of spring 1982; as a 14 year old boy at the time, naturally the war was a preoccupation for myself and all my friends. My father was at home in the last few months of his battle with cancer; every evening I would rush home from school and he would fill me in on the events of the day. Thankfully he lived to see the islands re-taken.

I remember the Ministry of Defence spokesman Ian MacDonald, whose monotone delivered good news and bad, against a plain blue background. While the war did play out on television to a certain extent, the technology was still not available for really rapid reporting; we often were a day or two behind actual events.

It was a time when political correctness was just beginning; there was almost open warfare in my school between teachers who supported the task force, and peaceniks who wanted to teach us how wrong it all was. In the end common sense prevailed and we even prayed for our forces; imagine that.

Mrs. Thatcher of course rose to the occasion and was the same source of inspiration and courage as Churchill had been before her. Her courage and determination won her the next election, but having read extensively about the conflict and especially the accounts of the political goings-on, I think there was something more to it. She was possessed of extraordinary political instinct. So while from the beginning she intended to retake the islands and to have no truck with pacifist United Nations interference, she had the political skills to maneuver the important players into the positions in which she wanted them all along. While British forces steamed south to outplay the Argentine military, Mrs. Thatcher outplayed diplomats and statesmen at their own games abroad and stymied Labour opposition at home.

This was perhaps the last really clear-cut international adventure for the British military; although Tony Blair threw in his lot with the Americans in Iraq, and no doubt the British forces perform there with the same skills and courage, he lacked the political skills needed to complete the other games of public opinion and international diplomacy.

So today is a day to reflect on a great victory for Britain and for freedom, and to salute the veterans of the South Atlantic, those who survived and those who lost their lives.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Statement of Claim

Mr. Rodney MacDonald, Halifax, NS 
Mr. Danny Williams, St. Johns, NL

Honest Steve's Auto Sales, 24 Sussex Drive, Ottawa, ON

Summary of Claim:
In February of 2005, Plaintiffs visited the used car dealership located at 24 Sussex Drive, Ottawa, Ontario which was then trading as Dithers Car Mart. They inspected and agreed to purchase a used Geo Storm convertible in red, for the purchase price of $4,995 plus applicable taxes. The proprietor of the dealership at the time, one Mr. Paul Martin, agreed to a sales incentive of $1,000 cash back.

Subsequently the dealership changed hands and is now trading as Honest Steve's Auto Sales. Plaintiffs became aware that there was now a Cadillac Escalade in black on the lot, with substantial after-market equipment, colloquially known as 'bling'.

It is Plaintiff's contention that by entering into the original sales agreement, Mr. Martin intended Plaintiffs to be able to pick any vehicle on the used car lot for the same purchase price and with the same cashback arrangement as the original. However, when Plaintiffs attempted to take delivery of the Cadillac, the current proprietor, Mr. Stephen Harper, refused to hand over the keys.

Honest Steve's Auto Sales claims the correct purchase price for the Cadillac is $45,000 and that the cashback sales incentive does not apply. Plaintiffs contend that the original contract was not sufficiently specific to the Geo Storm and therefore grants them the right to purchase the Cadillac and receive the cashback incentive at the same time.

Filed in Superior Court by Mr. William Casey of the firm Sue, Grabbit and Runne LLP this 13th day of June, 2007.

Sunday, June 10, 2007


As ex-pat Brits, who despite being Canadians for the better part of ten years still have fairly fresh-off-the-plane accents, we're often asked three questions:
  1. Do you miss 'home'?
  2. Would you go back?
  3. Why? (this in response to the resounding 'No' generated by the first two questions)
There is a short answer, which is a list including but not limited to: crime, expense, overcrowding, dirt, litter, etc.

There is a longer and deeper answer, which can be found here. H/t to Kathy S. who as always sees right to the heart of the matter.

Anglican Church in Row with Sony Over Video Game

A spat has erupted between Sony and the Church of England over what Sony says is the unauthorized use of parts of a PlayStation game by the Anglican Communion. A spokesman for Sony says that the company's title Resistance: Fall Of Man has been plagiarized and taken to 'entirely inappropriate' levels by the worldwide Anglican Communion.

"In our game, there is simply some fighting in Manchester Cathedral, with dead bodies littering the nave," he said. "What the Anglican Communion has done by elevating this to a massive worldwide fight over human sexuality and the ordination of women is simply barbaric and completely unauthorized."

A spokeswomyn for the Episcopal Church in the USA (ECUSA), speaking on behalf of Anglicanism, says Sony is taking the situation far too seriously. "Clearly," she said, "a situation in which practising homosexuals can be bishops is a work of fantasy. Nobody can possibly take ECUSA or the Anglican Communion too seriously here."

Link fixed, thanks to Matthew in the comments

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Detainee Scandal Deepens

The world of Canadian politics was rocked to its foundations today with the revelation that many Canadian citizens have been captured and imprisoned in a secret long-term detention facility. Leading human rights advocates claim that these Canadians may be held for periods up to 45 years, with no hope of escape.

"These Canadians are quietly captured by the Liberal Party and spirited away to a place they call the 'Senate'," said a spokesman for Amnutty International. "Here, although we can't be sure, we think they are paid outrageously high salaries for little or no work, and are forced to wine and dine with the rich and powerful."

Canada's New Government has been making efforts to free these prisoners, in particular by imposing a maximum term of incarceration of eight years, but they have been frustrated by the hard-line, tough-on-entitlement Liberals. Said Stephane Dion, a man claiming to have some affiliation with the secretive Liberal regime, "Do you think it's easy to make priorities?"

Despite the best efforts of organizations like Amnutty and their leader Alex Naive, it seems there is strong support for the hardline approach being taken by the Liberals. Extremist bloggers have been writing about the need to 'lock these people up with their caviar and champagne'. It seems there are very few willing to come to the aid of these helpless prisoners in Ottawa.

Stolen Chainsaw

Anyone in Montague or surroundings, please let me know if you see someone with a newly acquired used chainsaw, or are offered one for sale. My chainsaw was stolen sometime in the last week or so from my barn. It's an 18" 42cc Poulan Pro, black and yellow, in a case with gloves, spare chain, oil, etc. A similar model can be seen here. Feel free to leave an anonymous tip. Thanks.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The Accord Hybrid 2004 - 2007

The Honda Accord Hybrid has died. It was three years old. Famous for very little, except it's excitingly bland styling, it would appear that the car will be missed by very few.

The Accord Hybrid is survived by other unworkable and unwieldy devices including David Suzuki, Governor Schwarzenegger's Hydrogen Hummer and the Canadian Senate.

It is widely expected that North American vehicle buyers might be offered some decent fuel-efficient luxury cars in 2008 as Volkswagen, BMW, Mercedes and Honda all bring clean burning diesel engines to market. Finally.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Job Posting

The Liberal Party of Canada has an opening for a Poster Boy. This high profile position will deflect attention away from important issues of policy, and provide cover for corruption within the Liberal Party. The successful candidate will have the following qualifications:

  • Baby face
  • Aged between 15 and 15, in perpetuity
  • Contacts within the Human Rights Industry
  • Excellent media relations, including a fawning and cringing relationship with CBC reporters
  • Fluent in Arabic
  • Experience as an international terrorist
  • Family tradition of terrorist activity
  • Confirmed kills of American service personnel are a significant advantage
  • Brown envelopes of cash would be an asset, to the Liberal Party, that is
  • Significant periods of incarceration will be considered highly desirable
To apply, please send resume, charges and documentation confirming terrorist affiliation to:

M. Ignatieff, Liberal Party of Canada
81 Metcalfe Street, Suite 400
Ottawa, Ontario
K1P 6M8
Phone : (613) 237-0740
Fax : (613) 235-7208

Monday, June 04, 2007

In Which McGuinty The Pooh Builds An Elektorit Trap

Early one morning, when the sun had risen over the Hundred Acre Wood, McGuinty The Pooh stepped outside his house in the Hollow Tree, and found a note. In Christopher Robin's best handwriting, it read:


McGuinty The Pooh studied the note for a while, then decided to go and visit his friend and finance minister, Rabbit. When he arrived at Rabbit's hole, he stuck his long nose inside and called. But there was no answer.

"Hmmmm," thought McGuinty The Pooh to himself. "I am a Premier of Very Little Brain," he thought, "but I would say that Rabbit isn't home. He must be visiting his Friends and Relations at Royal Group Technologies. But there is an Elecshun coming up and I must Make A Plan. I shall go and see my Trusted Advisor Tigger."

At Tigger's house, McGuinty heard loud punk music coming from every window and door. He shouted as loud as his gruff, deep bear's voice would let him, but he couldn't get Tigger's attention. Once he saw Tigger's tail flash past the window as Tigger bounced in time to the Shagging Pile Carpets, but even then he couldn't make himself heard.

"I know," thought McGuinty The Pooh, "I shall go and see Piglet, the Attorney General."

At Piglet's house everything was quiet. Pooh stuck his head around Piglet's door. "Are you at home, Piglet?" he called. A small squeaky voice answered him. "No," said Piglet. McGuinty The Pooh scratched his head. "It sounds as though you are home," he said at length.

"I'm not here." said Piglet. "Christopher Robin says there is a Native Protest at the Poohsticks Bridge, and I am not coming out until they've all gone away. I'm scared of Native Protests."

McGuinty The Pooh walked sadly away from Piglet's house. He was starting to worry about the big Elecshun creeping up on him, so he kept looking this way and that, taking glances over his shoulder. Then he tripped over a log and scratched his knees. "Bother," said Pooh. "I had better go and see Owl. He will know what to do about a scratched Premier of Very Little Brain."

When Pooh arrived at Owl's tree, Owl was nowhere to be seen. Even the sign for the Wolery had disappeared. While he was looking around, Roo hopped past. "Hello, Health Minister Roo," said Pooh. "Do you know where Owl has gone?"

"He left," said Roo. "He had a better offer from the United States."

Pooh sat down on an old tree stump and buried his head in his paws. "But my health tax was meant to cure the doctor shortage," he said to himself. After a few sorrowful minutes, he picked himself up. "I know," he thought. "I'll make a cheery Healthcare Hum." So as he walked through the Forest, he hummed to himself.

"The more I tax," he sang, "The more I spend... My tax and spend, it knows no end... Some say they have no real healthcare... but Toronto's all right, so I don't care.... The only thing that really Annoys... is when reporters make some Noise... about my slush fund for my friends... and now that Scam has had to end..."

After a while, McGuinty The Pooh met Kanga. She was putting up signs on all the trees in the wood. "TAK MOR MALT XTRACT" they said, and "NO SMOKING". "Hello, Health Promotion Minster," said Pooh. "Thank you for being such an Excellent Nanny to my State."

Eventually, McGuinty The Pooh found himself back at his own front door. "Hmmmm..." he said to himself. "Here I am, back again, and I still don't have a Plan for my Elecshun."

Pooh thought and thought until his Thinker hurt; about thirty seconds. "Let me see," he said. "I went all around the Hundred Acre Wood looking for my Elecshun Plan, but I couldn't find Rabbit or Owl... and Tigger is too loud and bouncy... and Kanga was too busy to help... and Piglet is too scared... and now here I am, back where I began... Oh BOTHER."

And then the idea came to him. "If I am back where I was, " he thought, "I can just set my old Elektorit Trap." Carefully, he dug a large pit in the middle of the Forest. Around the outside, he set up notices; "BETTER HEALTHCARE THIS WAY" and "EDUKSHN RULS". A very large sign above all the others said "I WILL NOT RAISE YOUR TAXES." Slowly and laboriously, McGuinty The Pooh signed the Big Notice. "Just like last time," he said to himself, with his usual smug, self-satisfied smile.

Finally, McGuinty The Pooh wrote one more notice and dropped it into the bottom of the Elektorit Trap. He wondered how many he would catch this time and how many voters would get to read the Very Small Print that said... "I LIED... AGAIN."

Friday, June 01, 2007

I'm Conservative, But Did Jim Flaherty Miss Economics 101?

So, Mike drew my attention to this snippet in the local media today. Finance Minister Jim Flaherty stopped by Chesterville, ON, a town that has seen the Nestle plant close, with consequent job losses. His upbeat message? The high loonie is good news for manufacturing in Canada, we're booming, lots of jobs, etc. etc.

Now, I'm not an economist, but it doesn't seem quite right to me that a Finance Minister can stand up and say a high dollar is good for our manufacturing sector, when in reality it is pricing us out of world markets, both in terms of cost of goods and cost of labour. It's partly to blame for the shrinking manufacturing sector and the loss of jobs.

That Jim Flaherty should make this speech in Chesterville, with the Nestle closure still raw, Cornwall's Domtar closure just along the river and Smiths Falls' Hershey closure just north, seems particularly ill-conceived. What were his advisors and handlers thinking?

There is good news in the economy for sure, but can't we have some good old-fashioned political savvy back in the Conservative Party? Let's try to make sure we're pitching the right message to the right audience at the right time. This speech could be seen as adding insult to injury in the audience to which it was addressed; it's not good economics and it's even worse politics.