Friday, April 30, 2010

Left Wing Media Bias is a Right Wing Media Bias!

Every so often the conservatives in the country called Canada start screaming that the CBC is left wing. The most recent case involved a Ekos President Frank Graves. This is a polling company that does polling for the show Power & Politics. It was disclosed by panel mate Kory Teneycke, himself a self confessed conservative, that Graves gave money to Liberal candidates in far greater amounts that to Conservatives running for office. The key being he said nothing about it pretended to be neutral but wasn't! Since Graves had know formal ties with the Liberal Party ,membership or contractual arrangement, the accusation hinged on Frank not being able to separate business and private life. In other words you either accept that he is an honest broker or you don’t. The Tory’s didn't.
That is where it starts. The CBC uses undisclosed liberals and it is unfair. The doors is now open for al the usual accusations. Did you know that everyone that works for the CBC is a liberal and that’s not fair! This doesn't mean that our conservative friends want more conservatives on the payroll, they wouldn’t mind, they just want to de-fund the CBC. The CBC, I will admit is geared to a liberal audience, no doubt owning to the fact that most Canadians are liberal or left. Yes conservative friend add up the poll numbers less than 40% of Canadians vote conservative and I'm giving you some of the Bloc who are probably at least economically conservative. Non news programming trends might be not be described as Liberal or Conservative. Sure David Suzuki is liberal but his show is the Nature of Things I don’t know how to construe that as liberal, conservatives I’ll need your help their. Little Mosque on the Prairie, I don’t watch often it’s not a bad show , their hearts in the right place. Yes I’ll call that show liberal, a program about how to get along with people that are different, or for my conservative friends might describe ”it how to give away our culture a bit at a time”.
The news is just the news if you can detect a slant from the National then your looking way to hard. The opinion shows are the usual three people on a panel a Liberal, Conservative and a New Democrat. It is the same whether they are pundits or members of parliament or journalists. That does bug me a bit because usually one of the three is defending a point or action that is not defensible and they look like hacks rather than the educated experienced people they normally are.
The final point I wish to drag kicking into the argument is that Conservatives do not believe in Public Broadcasting. It is essentially government in competition with private interests, violating the sanctity of the free market. The CBC is a Big Government waste of taxes and by the way does not represent my voice either so I pay for something I don’t like or use. Even if the voice of the CBC became all Husky ,Strong and Conservative they would still hate it, though I imagine make great use of it.
I didn't really prove that there is no bias have I? Sometimes bias is nothing more than not wanting to see or hear something you don't like or agree with. It is easier to claim that the media is biased than to confront the possibility that your position is in error. That goes for Left Liberal and Right.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Big Government or Big Business do we have to choose?

Is the choice really between government or business? One of the core values represented by conservatives is that government should be small. So they represent the choice as being between Big Government or small government The role assigned to government should be confined to preserving order within the state and protecting it from external threat. Economic participation limited to regulation of trade. The American constitution sets out the powers of government quite clearly and conservatives have adopted this document to illustrate how good government should work. I might note that Conservatism as it is articulated today has a decidedly economic taste to it. The modern conservative will intertwine economic activity with most any issue.
I won’t sit here and try to convince anyone that government should be building cars or making couches or telling you what colour to paint your house. This is activity best left to Business, most economic pursuits are best handle by the private sector. The question we have to answer is where to put the dividing line, is overlap bad or necessary? Conservatives have answered this already saying that less is better. Liberals proposed that government intervention is necessary, or to put it less militantly, regulation while not a panacea for all economic and societal ills it makes life better. Your legislature should not be picking your paint colours, but it should be ensuring the safety of the product you use. That is the liberal position. The government tries guarantee the safety and quality of products used by the citizen because no individual can. The conservative trends to the idea that everyone is responsible for themselves if the product is bad people won’t use it anymore, the company in question will go out of business and be replaced by a better one that does a better job. I am not saying that conservatives want no regulation but they see the market largely as a responsive self correcting entity that regulation interferes with.
I am not economist but from observation markets don’t always acting according to plan. The Great Recession that we are pulling out of now certainly points to people acting so much in their own interests that they collapsed the system they operated in. Liberals don’t believe in entirely self-regulating economic systems, where there are people there will be self interest, and it is that self interest that needs over sight.
So we can see why conservatives want small government as a way of protecting business. But how does small government protect the citizen? Without being overly dramatic, I can not recall a single incidence of an economic interest protecting rights and freedoms of anyone not part of its’ structure. There are not tails of freed slaves, the down trodden being uplifted, the wrongly accused being championed by a multi national corporation. In the interest of fairness if you google Google you will see how they pulled out of China, they refused to act as an agent of the state police. Well done Google. If you follow this link you will find yourself at Business & Human Rights home page. This site offers you a look at the way business operates around the world.
A more specific example of how business is not like government, is a Wal-Mart incident involving the “can I see your receipt please” request. This is the link is from the individual involved weigh its’ value much the same as you would any information, . The affair consists of a consumer who bought a product the alarm went off as he left store, he was stopped and asked to see his receipt and the man refused. He was detained by store security in his words poorly treated, the police were called. The man confirms that the officer was professional and polite in contrast to the Wal-Mart staff. The police confirmed that the product was purchased and not stolen, the man was however barred for life from all stores. Should the man have offered up the receipt? Maybe, it certainly would have made things easier, but the point to be made here is he had no choice in the matter. The store rules trumped his right to decline. By contrast his interaction with the police is very different. The officer does not demand compliance, but asks the man if he may search him. The implication is that the man has the right to refuse, though refusal also comes with consequences. there is nothing about the Wal-Mart policy that implies the right to say no, compliance is demanded and expected refusal is met with eternal banishment.
The key point here is not the surliness of the shopper but the nature of Wal-Mart, it is acting solely in and for its’ own benefit. While the officer is acting in the interests of both citizen and store. I don’t hate business for being self interested it is what they are designed to be. I don’t expect dogs to sing or cats to fiddle so why would I expect corporation to champion human and civil rights if it is not in their interest to do so. I think that is unethical and immoral but certainly in keeping with the mission to turn a profit.
It is however the purpose of government to guarantee rights and extend those rights to those who are lacking them. It is how I interpret the role of protecting the state from internal dissension and external threat. A government without the resources or the will to properly regulate the economic and social forces at play in society will fail most of its’ citizens. Power within a society is finite and distributed among centres of authority. The less power government wields does not lessen the amount available in a given society it transfers it to some other body willing to use it. Power in the hands of people or institutions with no obligation to the citizen can not be described as a good thing, unless that person or entity is yours. I would rather have power centred in a government contained by law for the benefit of the many.
In the end corporations will and should welcome regulation because it help to ameliorate the exuberance of business.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Nothing to report on today. Everything unfolding as desired. Listening to the Blue Jays watching the hockey game, enjoying some tea. Not every day needs to be filled with political and social commentary so relax and enjoy tonight.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


To day on April 27, 2010 the speaker of the House of Commons of the Parliament of Canada certified once more the supremacy of Parliament. This ruling stems from an order from parliament to the government requiring they hand over documents pertaining to Afghan dettainees. The government had stalled and then returned to the Afghan committee heavily redacted documents, effective ignoring the motion.
The speaker has given the government two weeks to fullfil the order.
This would never have occured if the government had a majority of seats. The motion to compel documents would have been voted down. We are in Canada expecting to have more minority governments for some time, voting blocks based on region seem to be the case for now, atleast. So what was established today and into the future is that government does not have an absolute right to decide on what parliament can have.
Here is the Macleans magazine post of the complete text of the speech by the speaker.

Monday, April 26, 2010

How Controversial...?

Last week on CBC’s Power and Politics one Kory Teneycke accused EKOS Research president, Frank Graves of being biased towards Liberals because of undisclosed donations to Liberal candidates of some eleven thousand dollars in the past decade. Added were accusations of offering advice to the liberal Party. What seems to have brought the issue into the open was this statement by Graves, he apparently told the Globe and Mail that the Liberals: “should invoke a culture war. Cosmopolitanism versus parochialism, secularism versus moralism, Obama versus Palin, tolerance versus racism and homophobia, democracy versus autocracy. If the cranky old men in Alberta don’t like it, too bad. Go south and vote for Palin.” It was not the just this statement that got the Conservatives huffing and puffing, but that Mr. Graves who they say passes himself off as a neutral party appears to be acting in an advisory capacity. He did apologize later for the remarks admitting that they may have been offensive.
Now the Tories I imagine have no problem with partisanship, Graves accuser, Kory Teneycke is a open and vocal conservative, he is paid by CBC to appear as a guest and deliver a conservative viewpoint. Mr. Teneycke’s problem was that CBC pays Graves for his polling, and commentary on the results of said polls. If Graves is a closet liberal operative then it must call into question Mr. Graves punditry. You can't be objective if you gain benefit from an association. The accusation was enough to set the conservative outrage machine into action. All the usual suspects including Ezra Levant and just about all Conservative leaning blogs slammed Graves and of course the CBC for this apparent conflict of interest, ( a two for one, as most conservatives can’t pass up an attack on the CBC.
We have the charge of bias but is it supported by facts. Graves does give money to Liberals in a greater degree that he does to Conservative. So I guess he is a liberal but is he a “Liberal“. Graves is not however a member of the Liberal party. He offered political advice to the Liberal Party in a newspaper interview. I think Ezra Levant would have to agree that Freedom of Speech laws do protect the right of Mr. Graves to talk on many and diverse subjects, though not to be from rebuttal . He is not a paid consultant of the Liberal Party. His company is not retained to do political polling on behalf of any party.
Now we come to the point where we look at some of the facts in our possession and deliver a verdict. What happened here was that Graves has liberal ties, just like the rest of us have connections to various political parties. I am a card carrying Liberal, just so you know and if you disagree with this post you now have a reason why. What caught out graves is the appearance of bias, Teneycke was skillful in his presentation and Graves unprepared to rebut the claim. Having connections does not necessarily lead to bias, keep in mind that it depends on the strength and depth of said association.
We live in a world where people make vast sums of money cheer leading one political side or another. Charles Adler makes money being a conservative talk show host. Kory Teneycke makes money by being a conservative spokesman. It also happens that they are also deeply committed conservatives, interest lines up nicely with proclivity. For others it is not that neat. A doctor might be pro life but will still offer services to those in medical need. A judge may be conservative but still up hold a law they may not like.
For those whose occupations seem to come in conflict with their politics, must be given the benefit of the doubt. We have to say that accusation is not enough, real tangible evidence of malfeasance must be in evident before they can be called to account.


I just finished " The Tube has Spoken: Reality TV and History" edited by Julie Ann Taddeo and Ken Dvorak. It Is a collection of essays dealing with the history and meaning of reality TV. It does a good job of deconstructing the genre. Each essay takes a look at the content of a single show or a particular concept dealt with by different productions. After reading you won't be able to view reality TV the same way.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

To be Free and Secure

Yesterday I said that I would not trade my civil liberties in return for the promise of security. This was in answer to the question of how to deal with the radicalism found in small pockets of the immigrant community. I then faced the counter question, “ how were my civil liberties being abridged” . I was caught , my interlocutor asked the question that I must answer with “they aren’t but…” Well twitter is the world in 140 characters or less and no room for detail. So I figured I would make a longer reply on the blog nobody reads.
My civil liberties are not in direct danger. I live in Canada , a country founded on the rule of law, a population secure in their rights and knowledgeable in their defence. I am not saying it couldn’t happen, just that the road is a long one till you get to the cliff edge. I have always picture the loss of liberty as gradual, not the slippery slope, but a see saw. Where all is all one way till it isn’t anymore. The shift is not the ball rolling down hill in a continuous predictable way allowing most to become accustom to a new normal, but instead is the quick and sudden shift that changes everything.
To address the question first raised how to deal with increased threat of radicals in our midst? The answer is increased security, passive and active surveillance. Laws change by bits and pieces to enable better monitoring ,arrest and detainment of suspected radicals. If you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear. But changes in one area of our society bleed over into other parts. Power created is power used. These are not platitudes or fear mongering. I never thought I would see the day when a President of the United States would shift the line between torture and interrogation, done for the security of the nation. Warrant less wire-tapping another shift to a new normal.
No the rights of average Americans, those with no contact with radicals are unaffected. But for how long? How will the nature of national security be interpreted a decade from now? What will define radical? We are a Liberal Democratic nation and it was a hard fought century long battle. Every right we now possess was taken from some authority that held it from us. Taken gradually, acknowledging that a time had come, or by force against a grasping power.
The point I failed to make then was that , the eroding of rights however justified at the time should not be lightly taken or be open ended. Lowering the standard on searches and surveillance. Restricting movement or access to information and public spaces. The reduction in free speech that many Conservatives and Liberals alike decry . Freedom of association or religious belief.
No I do not live in fear of a Jack Booted Police, bent on my enslavement. But I do know that such places have existed and exist now. For people to be free they need both security and liberty. If we tend to much to one or the other we risk losing the Canada we know and love.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Twitter and Other Chat

I joined Twitter just about a month ago and i like it. It was easy learning how to navigate around in twitter space. Once you become familiar with hash tags, how to search out and follow people, you can have a bit of fun. I find myself following political figures, journalist, newspapers and other agencies that provide information. That is how I use Twitter not social networking though I do comment on the comments of others.
The content is the comment in 140 characters or less. There is enough room to express a feeling but seldom enough space to explain it. Users seem to divide among those that provide links to content like blogs, web sites or newspapers and the floaters that drift around inside social pools leaving thoughts in their wake.
A lot of the writings are banal, updates on where you are what you are feeling make up a large part of this sphere. Things get a bit more pointed when politics enter the fray. Popular pundits and political parties and figures are railed against, slurred or rallied for depending on your divide. Ignorant and uncivil behaviour was not invented with the chat room but it has found a fullness of expression here. In real life we are anonymous in public. We seldom know anything about the pepole we walk by or bump into on the subway in the malls. To make our way in this public world we are generaly civil. When we choose to associate with others for fun or profit we still try to be polite for the most part, pleae forgive these qualifiers, some small fringe have always been ignorant and abusive.
What I find disconcerting is the large number of people who choose to be ignorant and abusive in the "anonymous in public" framework of the chat space. If you frequent the opinion section of newspapers, blogs , Cable News sites or anything with a political flavour you find the descent into uncivil discourse is geatest.Now it is not that poeple haven't always argued politics, sports and religion, but in the past you did it in the same room with the other guy and this generally restrained both parties. Online comments sections or chat spaces require self restraint that many appear not to have.
What we end up having are partisan sites, where people of like mind congregate safe from opposing view points. Other people do show up and bait these groups with outrageous statements, these people commonly called "trolls", but these people are quickly ejected. The most important topics in our society can no longer be discussed in open and public forums without disruptions. People thanks to the internet can come from all over the world and seperate into groups along lines of belief and never have to hear an opposing thought which is kind of sad.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


I accept the science of climate change. A simple statement. Climate change is not a religion for me nor is it a money making venture. I have no axes to grind against Exxon specifically or capitalism in general. I am not interested in controlling the lives of everyone on Earth by making them drive bikes, turn off their lights and where hemp.
I am not a scientist, so when i have a question I look to science for the answers. I understand the scientific method and accept that conclusion arrived at through peer review, provide us with accurate answers. is a site that gathers the threads together for easy access by the layman.
All I can offer from this point is my opinion. You can determine the value yourself. I know that the average temperature of earth is higher now than when I was born. I know that the amount of atmospheric CO2 is higher now than it was 50 years ago. The Arctic sea ice while fluctuating in area covers less ocean than it used to and it is thinner than ever before. The number and size of glaciers are both in decline. The CO2 content of our oceans is higher now than in the recent past.
These are facts. Many try to argue the data is corrupted so conclusions drawn from such sources are not valid. Science works through the continual accumulation of information, models and theories change as new data is integrated into the theory. If the weight of new information causes the theory to break down it is slowly discarded and a better explanation is sought out. You either except that science contains within it a self correcting method resistant to manipulation or you don't. If you are one of those people no amount of information will ever satisfy you. You will never be convinced to change your mind.
When scientists are accused of misleading people on climate change for personal gain it is disturbing. I believe in the self correcting nature of science, but it does not mean a speedy reversal. We don't always have the time to get back on track. Now I have to weigh the accusation of corrupt science. Is climate change science being corrupted to secure government research grants or by the money flowing from the Fossil Fuel Industry and Conservative foundations. This is a personal call. It is unlikely that any Company would fund research that had the potential to damage profits or reputation. Industry has a long track record of buying the support of science. Government on the other hand funds the research and gets stuck with whatever conclusions are arrived at. They may favour one branch of research over another in an attempt to select direction of inquiry, but they don't order the results to meet their needs. Again this is what I accept to be true ,if your the kind that is thinks badly of Government I can't convince you different.
The mounting evidence of climate change has forced a change in tack. We are now trending to the belief that we have climate change but it's natural. Humans have no affect. This position once again favours industry and the Conservative position. If true it means that economic activity can continue without change.
Even without man made climate change we can't continue to use resources and pollute the way we do now it is unsustainable. It is better to transition to more sustainable economic activity while we have the time. The longer we take the harder it gets and the more expensive it will be.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Public Safety

I was watching the Minister of Public Safety Vic Toews on the CBC last night. He was talking about the governments intention to address crime in Canada. Now Stats Canada tells us that crime is on the decline, do in part to an aging population. That does not free us from dealing with the crime we do have. The conservative say that our justice system is not working and needs reform. I am in favour of reform. Institutions and policies need regular checkups to make sure are functioning as intended. There is a difference between a system needing reform because something isn't working and changing a policy because it works in a way that you don't like.
The conservatives want to change the rules regarding pardons. I can support changes that piratical and in the public interest. The purpose of the pardon is to allow someone who has turned their life around a fresh start. This site can answer questions you may have .The idea is that someone should not pay for a life time for crimes they have committed and served their sentence on. There are an astonishing number of ways in which a conviction can hurt a persons at a fresh start. Certain crimes of a sexual or violent nature or certain individuals who by the very nature of their crimes or unrepentant behaviour should make up a separate category. But any changes need to satisfy the public interest not political interest. That interest being, the transition from criminal to productive citizen and the protection of the public. If changes are being made to firm up your brand with the crime and punishment crowd then you are not serving the public good.
The other thing that Mr. Toews said that struck me was the Conservative intention to spend more more to keep violent offenders in jail longer. He seemed to imply that they were going ahead with this regardless of opposition. I had to think hard on that one, but I couldn't think of any Political party that supports early release of violent offenders. People who are violent need to be kept separate but this leads to a problem, they eventually get out. Unless the Minister is going to change the rules and keep people in prison till they are harmless. What is the appropriate mix of punishment and reform? I don't know that, but i do know if it's all punishment they come out just as bad as they went in. Luckily the reason we elect people to government and employ competent public servants is to deal with these tough questions.
My last remark concerns the gun registry, for which the Minister has no money for. I like the gun registry. I am under no illusion that this registry prevents crime, but I think it is handy for the government to know who has weapons, how many they have and of what variety. Lets be frank on this as well, the Government has no plans to take away any ones legally owned and registered weapon. I will admit that this is a belief I am not actually a party too Government plans in this regard. I will also admit that members of my family have been gun owners and hunters for a long time, though i am not. I support gun ownership, a well regulated one. I think that police like it too even if the ones Toews talked with don't seem too, I know their bosses like it. I think changing punishment for noncompliance to a ticket from a criminal charge is correct. Legal gun owners need to register their weapons because it is required by law but should not suffer unduly if they don't. I think that the push for retiring the Gun Registry is just a sop to the base and if it is defeated in parliament the Tories can use it to run on. You know it will go like this Liberals hate guns and gun owners please vote for us.

Monday, April 19, 2010


I often hear some conservatives decry the growing dependency of the citizen on Government. The creation of the welfare state for some marked the beginning of the decline where liberty and freedom would slowly wither. Social programs like old age pension, employment insurance and welfare sapped the will and settled the shackles ever so gently on an unsuspecting population.
These entitlements said with a slightly up curled lip are a danger to the citizen. When people know they have a net they are prone to act differently maybe even recklessly, taking chances they ordinarily would avoid. The successful citizens are then forced through taxation to permanently support a class of people that sponge off the rest. While i agree that some people take advantage of programs designed to soften the blows of economic and social mischance. Many and i think the majority, make use of social programs to lighten their load or provide a soft cushion to land on, then get up dust of and start again.
The conservative is willing to throw over the legitimate need to avoid support the free loaders. While the liberal (me) is willing to support the few bad apples to ensure they many get the help they need.
I do not think that conservative are heartless, the amount given in charity for one thing is quite high. It is the way they seek to effect change, on the level of the person not the State. By person, i refer to the religious giving, job creation or personal patronage. It allows the conservative the freedom to help or not too, it's a choice. Only those deemed worthy get the help they need, with the State every one applies and can get benefits first then later if proven fraudulent they can be removed.
That brings me back to dependency, the conservative that abhors the welfare State, is quite comfortable with dependency on a personal level. Things like charity and to some extent jobs have no guarantees, they maybe with drawn at anytime leaving the former beneficiary in a position of great need. State funded programs or stable with well understood rules and obligations.
It is a fair to say that the economically vulnerable you are the less free. The welfare state tries to lessen this vulnerability and in doing so allows a person to preserve a modicum of freedom in the direst of straits.
I would if only two choices were available, which is seldom the case, rather be dependent on Government which is responsible to me in law if not always in fact, than to find myself beholden to private citizens or business that owe to me nothing and whose goodwill may be withdrawn on the slightest of pretext.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Writing attempted...

Today I have attempted to write on a number of topics. I threw them into the digital trash bin. Writing is harder than it looks, something I understood in the theory but not in the practice. Writing to make a point is strewn with pitfalls. Luckily the biggest two wirries being money and audience are not factors. I am unpaid and have no audience, so I am left with only quality and content. I am hopeful that both will improve with time.
What is the point of my bloging? Vanity comes to mind. I have to acknowledge that having someone read what I write, whether with approval or not would be gratifying. The idea that what I communicate through this blog might be helpful or entertaining sits well with me. I have no illusions. This is one blog among millions a voice in the crowd. So I have a sort of public anonymity, one among the many. I like image of a cheering spectator, one voice added to a multitude indistinct but necessary and on occasion rising above the tumult to say something meaningful.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

What is going on in Parliament

I added a new link. It leads to Open Parliament, a site that connects you Your members of Parliament, what they are saying and how they are voting on legislation before the house. I found this on twitter, I can't recall who first posted it. It is a great place doe anyone who wants to see what they are vetting for their money.
This is one of the many reasons I place more trust in government than in business. Government for all its' faults, works largely before the public. Anyone interested in the goings on of MPs can read a paper, visit websites or drop by their constituency office. Government is not perfect, but the nature of Liberal Democracy leans towards openness. The nature of business is by necessity, more secretive. So in the chain of command I prefer business to be subordinate to government if only by a small margin.
I also included the government website that links direct to legislation that is before the house.

April 13 2010 - 1:48 pm
Update: I found the Open Parliament site through a Twitter by Andrew Coyne

Monday, April 12, 2010

I'm on the train to Toronto, Burlington to union station. The closer we get the more jays fans are getting on. Fans are loud happy and ready to enjoy the game. How many are die hards? How many are just out for the home opener? It doesn't matter much. I like games where it is standing room only, with the way the Jays have played it happens infrequently. Now if the Yankees or Bosox are in town we get close to sell out but half the fans are cheering for the other side, a weird feeling to share your park with the opposing teams fans.
The Olympians walked in to great applause, giant Canadian and American flags unfurled and a marching band they are going all out for this home opener.
When they announced the White Sox poor Rios was booed, I don't agree, he played he played his best and it didn't work out, that's how it goes sometimes
The game was great despite the loss. Home runs, double plays , everything you want in an opener except the loss. The blue jays had a bunch of come from behind wins so now it goes the other way. It's long season and I expect a lot of these types of games.