Monday, November 29, 2004

THE GREATEST - PREDICTION

Frankly, I am somewhat surprised that Tommy Douglas has remained so resilient at the top of the Greatest Canadian Standings. Nevertheless I am standing behind my original prediction. I think a late surge by Fox and Trudeau will put the final standings at:

1. Terry Fox
2. Pierre Trudeau
3. Tommy Douglas

Nestruck is not willing to make a prediction given his past record on guaging the mood of the Canadian citizenry. However, his insider information suggests that Douglas is not a lock at number one.

When all of this is finished and those who have been paying attention at all have forgotten about it on Tuesday morning, the next question is: what can the CBC possibly do next?

Posted by Matthew @ 3:28 PM :: (0) comments

Friday, November 26, 2004

THAT IS WHAT THE PRIME MINISTER IS THERE FOR

I seem to be all about defending the constituted authority these days. Sometimes though, Jack Layton just gets too annoying. (Skip the obvious sometimes? joke.)

From a CNEWS story on PMO plans for the upcoming presidential visit:

Layton, leader of the fourth party in the House, is apparently upset that he likely will not get to meet with President Bush during the president's visit to Canada.

Layton said Martin has forgotten he's heading a minority government and that opposition parties collectively hold more power.
"Martin is not able to speak for all Canadians," Layton said, adding he wants to grill Bush on the missile defence program.

First, thanks Jack, for reminding us, yet again, that this is a minority Parliament. Remind us again how many seats you lead in that minority?

Second, Paul Martin is the Prime Minister. Of course he can represent all Canadians! In foreign relations that's his job. He holds the confidence of the House. He is the elected leader of the nation. Just because the government is in the minority does not mean that the country gets governed by committee.

Thirdly, when Layton says the opposition collectively holds more 'power,' he's wrong. What he means is that the opposition holds more votes. If Layton does not want Paul Martin representing Canadians then he is free to use his vote to defeat the government at his next available opportunity. However, if Layton doesn't want the Prime Minister in a minority situation to represent Canadians, then that is a whole different problem.

Finally, I would not let anyone represent Canada who says they want to 'grill' a foreign leader. These situations call for diplomacy. If Layton were to meet with the president he would only use the opportunity to score political points with his supporters, which is exactly what one would expect from the leader of the fourth party, and that is exactly why said leaders should not attend such meetings.

Posted by Matthew @ 4:45 PM :: (0) comments

GOD SAVE THE QUEEN (AND HER VICE-REGAL REPRESENTATIVE IN THE DOMINION)

A Common's committee has recommended cutting the Governor General's current $19 million annual budget by $417,000. This is, of course, a result of various complaints that I'm sure everyone is aware of, that the Governor General, particularly our current Governor General, lives a far too lavish lifestyle. The stereo typical 'champaigne and caviar' line inevitably comes up whenever this issue is mentioned.

I'm also sure that many others will be voicing opinions much like Sean's in support of the budget recommendation, but since his is the first post I found, I'll pick on him.

First, Sean says,

A $417,000 reduction of a $19,000,000 budget amounts to two percent. I can't speak for you but in the world where I live, trimming two points from 19 mill isn't a slash, it's a paper cut.

I agree about that. The cut is not actaully that much, and not nearly as bad as I feared it would be when I first saw the article headline. However, the cut is indicative that the committee believes the G.G has been spending too much, which is unfortunate, but I'm coming to that.

Sean then writes,
As for the substance of the matter, I've no objection to knocking the G-G's champagne-and-caviar lifestyle back a notch.

There's that cliche 'champaigne and caviar' line. I'm willing to bet that Madame Clarkson and her husband are actually more fond of Ontario or British Columbia wine, since they have done an incredible job in promoting both wine industries across the country and around the world, but lets move on.

Sean next writes,
While she has an important role to play in representing Canada on the world stage, I don't see why hardworking taxpayers should pay through the nose for conferring on her the privilege of doing so.

Hold on. Sean thinks that a 2 percent cut on a budget of $19 million is not a 'slash' but 'a paper cut,' yet he says Canadians "pay through the nose" for the budget of the Governor General? The federal budget for Canada is in the range of 200 billion dollars. At $19 million the G.G's budget is less than 1/100 of a percent of the total Canadian budget. 'Paying through the nose?' I'm willing to pay Sean's share for him.

Sean admits the Governor General has an important role to play. Shouldn't we be funding the position so that whomever holds it can carry it out well?

Sean continues:
I don't think I'm alone in this view. Here in the middle class, we'd like our representatives to be a little more representative, wouldn't we?

First, please spare me the 'middle class,' 'tax-payer' appeal, it's so tired. I don't want to be identified as a taxpayer. I'm a citizen of this country. Yes, that involves paying taxes, but it involves a whole lot more. Reducing Canadian citizenship to nothing more than forking over money to the government is demeaning. I participate in the life of this country in way more ways than just by paying taxes. I'm a citizen, you don't need to remind me that I pay taxes.

Secondly, I have a representative. Peter Milliken (Kingston and the Islands) sits in the House of Commons. Its called the House of Commons because it is composed of commoners. The Governor General represents The Crown for God's sake! We live in a constitutional monarchy. The Queen of England is also the Queen of Canada. She is our head of state. The Governor General represents her. We have city councillors, we have MPP's we have MP's, we even have Senators (but lest not drag them into this). There are plenty of levels of governmet that adequately represent me.

I don't want our head of state to be representative of the average Canadian, because Canada is greater than the sum of its average parts. That is what the Governor General represents. I don't want the Governor General entertaining war veterans and foreign leaders in a syle that would embarrass the country.

I want the Governor General flying across the country and around the world. And I want the Governor General to bring along the best representatives of Canadian food, culture, and arts with her. I want the Governor General to be elite and to showcase Canada's elite. Goveror General Clarkson has done an outstanding job in making Canada look good, and in promoting Canada to Canadians and the world.

Madame Clarkson's budget has been higher than any other previous Governor General because she has done more work than any previous Governor General.

I can't stand the complaints of people who want our head of state to be average. I can't stand the complaints of people who would cheapen our country's traditions over something as petty as money (especially when it amounts to so little of it). How much humility does this country really need?

The Governor General makes us look great and reminds us that we are great. The position is worth every penny and Madame Clarkson has been worth ten times as much.

Posted by Matthew @ 2:10 AM :: (0) comments

COINCIDENCE

A few days ago Chris wrote an interesting post about coincidences. Yesterday Armchair related this story. Does anyone want to calculate the odds of that happening?

Posted by Matthew @ 1:33 AM :: (0) comments

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

FREE UKRAINE

I'm behind on the whole situation in the Ukraine but getting caught up. Nestruck has been all Ukraine for the past two days and has a host of good links to follow including Neeka's Blog, written by a woman living near Independence Square in Kyiv. This is the kind of thing blogging does best.

The most recent CBC article on the sitution is here. From that report, yesterday opposition leader and the apparent rightful president, Viktor Yushchenko declared:

"We have two choices: either the answer will be given by the parliament, or the streets will give an answer."

Inspiring stuff in Ukraine today.

Posted by Matthew @ 3:43 AM :: (0) comments

Monday, November 22, 2004

THIS IS NOT HISTORY

Scotish company Traffic Games, released a new video game today entitled 'JFK-Reloaded.' Simply put, the game allows the player to re-create the events in Dallas of November 22, 1963 and attempt to kill the president again.

Not suprisingly the Kennedy family has called the game 'despicable.'

The producers of the game defend themselves:

"What we are hoping to do is re-ignite people's passion for history. This is a unique insight into the assassination. We think there's a whole generation of people who have no experience of the Kennedy assassination.

If this is the way they want to ignite an interest in, and teach young people about, American history I've got a few ideas for new video games I expect we will be seeing soon:

Virginia Plantation Re-born
A sim style game in which the player operates a cotton plantation in late-18th century Virginia. Starting with just a few acres of land and only two slaves you have to manage your crop, and your slave labour to become the wealthiest plantation owner in the state. Choose between different styles of slave management, from benevolent paternalist to brutal... slave driver. Bonus points for freeing all your slaves just before the game ends, but after you have the high score.

Trail of Tears Marches Again
This would probably be a top-down role playing game. Its the summer of 1838 and you are a U.S Army lieutenant under the command of General Winfield Scott. Your mission: Round up 10,000 Cherokee from North Georgia and march them to Oklahoma, pronto. Make sure you get all of those Indians out of Georgia, and use as little food and resources as possible in getting them to Oklahoma. Remember, you're not too concerned if the Indians don't make it to Oklahoma, just don't leave any in Georgia. High score goes to the player who completes the mission causing the least hassle for the federal government.

United Airlines Flight 93 Re-fought
A first-person action game/flight simulator. Its the morning of September 11, 2001. You are one of the lead highjackers on United Flight 93. Your fellow highjackers have already flown their jet-missiles into the Trade Towers and the Pentagon. The passengers and crew of your plane, however, are giving you some trouble. Your mission: Subdue the passengers and crew, take control of your plane and crash it into the Capitol Building, the White House, or another side of the Pentagon; your choice. Highscore for the most damage caused to whichever building you choose to hit.

Are you getting the point?

A video game re-enacting the Kennedy assassination is not a means to study history, or honour history, or stimulate interest in history. Its an exploitation and glorification of a tragic and despicable crime of history. Justifying a video game like this as promoting interest in history is like burning books to promote an appreciation of literature.

Posted by Matthew @ 4:14 PM :: (0) comments

Sunday, November 21, 2004

MEN OF ACTION

I imagine that this will play well for the President back home.

According to a videotape of the incident, Bush turned around and saw that one of his Secret Service agents was being forcefully restrained from entering by Chilean [...] security guards. The president dove into the crowd, where people were arguing and pushing one another, and pulled the agent through the door of [the] center.
[Ed. Note: quotation edited for ridiculous typos]

Just remember who the original political man of action was. Here he is taking matters into his own hands.

Post-Script:
Did Rob Cordry of The Daily Show join the President's Secret Service detail? (check the picture with the Bush link).

Posted by Matthew @ 12:18 PM :: (0) comments

Saturday, November 20, 2004

CAMPAIGNING FOR THE GREATEST

Stephen Taylor continues to be hot on the case of tracking the NDP e-mail campaign supporting Tommy Douglas as "The Greatest Canadian."

Just to provide some perspective, two quick Google searches found the following:

The Canadian Diabetes Association, The University of Western Ontario and the City of London, are all supporting sir Frederick Banting for Greatest Canadian.

The Sierra Club of Canada is actively endorsing David Suzuki as "The Greatest," despite the fact that Suzuki himself has come out in support of Tommy Douglas.

Terry Fox Secondary School is, I suppose unsurprisingly, supporting its namesake.

Stephen also seems to suggest that there is something wrong with stuffing the ballot box in an on-line/phone-in popularity contest. He's so principled.

Finally, CBC's current age bracket breakdown of the 'Greatest' standings indicates that Terry Fox leads the vote of all those under fifty, while Tommy Douglas leads in voting by people over fifty. Perhpas its not the NDP voting for Douglas but just old people.

Posted by Matthew @ 3:08 PM :: (0) comments

Thursday, November 18, 2004

BY WAY OF EXPLANATION

If anyone else is noticing the lack of 'analysis' or 'commentary' in the posts since Remembrance Day you're not the only one. Basically it's mid-November, which means assignments are coming due and I'm somewhat busy. But rather than not blog at all, I'm quickly linking to things that interst me and tacking on a few pithy comments.

It wouldn't suprise me if these posts are more appealing in a lot of ways than my more verbose attempts. However, as my academic writing winds down the energy will have to be chanelled back somewhere.

Posted by Matthew @ 7:03 PM :: (0) comments

LAND CLAIMS DECISION

Just the other day in my Aboriginal Societies history class we were informally discussing the significance of Canada continuing to be ruled under a constitutional monarchy. And then today the Supreme Court emphasises that significance.

Governments have a legal duty to consult with First Nations to some extent about the development of disputed land, Canada's top court ruled Thursday.
...
In the 7-0 decision, the court ruled the government has a legal duty to consult, and if appropriate, accommodate, aboriginal groups prior to their claims. But the ruling did not extend to the developers of the land.

Aboriginal people have an historic and legal relationship with the Crown that dates back to 1763. Today's decision reminds us that however antiquated the British monarchy may seem, Canada's constitutional arrangement still matters, and that the relationship between First Nation's and the Crown can't be ignored.

Update, November 20th:
Over at GenXat40 Alan agrees with me. Alan, being a lawyer, offers a little more analysis and excerpts from the decision than I do.

Posted by Matthew @ 6:47 PM :: (0) comments

PARRISH

The prime minister has kicked Carolyn Parrish out of the Liberal caucus. I think a good argument can be made that Parrish should have been dumped some time ago. Calling all of the people of a particular country bastards, particularly when that country happens to be our closest ally and trading partner, is far more egregious than stomping on an effigy of thier President in political satire.

But the 22 Minutes bit obviously was not why Parrish got the boot. It was the catalyst to this latest round of Parrish Theartre, but obviously she was dismissed because she challenged the PM to dismiss her. You just can't do that and not expect to get fired.

The media is going to pay a lot less attention to Parrish's remarks now that she is not a member of the governing party. Now she's just some shrill isolated local MP yelling from the sidelines. Does she have a future with the NDP? I sincerely hope not. It would just go further to confirm the NDP as a party of Liberal rejects.

Posted by Matthew @ 5:09 PM :: (0) comments

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

MORE IRANIAN TYRANNY

Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and OxBlog all direct our attention to a series of arbitrary arrests in Iran of 25 Internet publishers and other civil society activists.

This is not especially unusual activity for Iran, but just because this kind of thing happens often does not mean that it should not be news. OxBlog has the contact information for various authorities that you can write to regarding this issue, including Her Excellency Louise Arbour, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Posted by Matthew @ 6:12 PM :: (0) comments

PROLIFERATION? WHAT PROLIFERATION?

With the 21st century terrorsit threat that the world faces, I sure am glad that the Cold War is over.

Posted by Matthew @ 5:42 PM :: (0) comments

Thursday, November 11, 2004

REMEMBRANCE DAY

I just returned from the Kingston Remembrance Day ceremony. They do a pretty good job of it here, which I suppose is to be expected given that the city is home to a forces base and the Royal Military College.

It is a pretty cold, damp, bleak, day here in Kingston, which is actually weather that I think is appropriate on Remembrance day. Remembering those who gave their lives for our peace and freedom shouldn't be comfortable, and, for me, standing outside in the cold helps focus my thoughts on remembrance.

On Remembrance Day I usually try to read and, now that I blog, post a few poems that strike me as being appropriate for the occasion. I have so little, or really no, experience of war, that I find there is little that I can adequately say about it. Except that I am grateful for that luxury.

Posted by Matthew @ 12:02 PM :: (0) comments

IN FLANDERS FIELDS

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

- John McCrae

Posted by Matthew @ 11:51 AM :: (0) comments

I THINK CONTINUALLY OF THOSE WHO WERE TRULY GREAT

I think continually of those who were truly great.
Who, from the womb, remembered the soul's history
Through corridors of light where the hours are suns,
Endless and singing. Whose lovely ambition
Was that their lips, still touched with fire,
Should tell of the Spirit clothed from head to foot in song.
And who hoarded fom the Spring branches
The desires falling across their bodies like blossoms.

What is precious is never to forget
The essential delight of the blood drawn form ageless
springs
Breaking through rocks in worlds before our earth;
Never to deny its pleasure in the simple morning lilght,
Nor its grave evening demand for love;
Never to allow gradually the traffic to smother
With noise and fog the flowering of the spirit.

Near the snow, near the sun, in the highest fields
See how these names are feted by the wavering grass,
And by the streamers of white cloud,
And whispers of wind in the listening sky;
The names of those who in their lives fought for life,
Who wore at their hearts the fire's centre.
Born of the sun they travelled a short while towards the
sun,
And left the vivid air signed with their honour.

-Stephen Spender

Posted by Matthew @ 11:00 AM :: (0) comments

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

GRANATSTEIN IS FUMING I'M SURE

Pop Quiz:
1. Can you name Canada's prime minister during the Second World War?

2. Are you between the ages of 30 and 44?

If you answered 'Mackenzie King' and 'yes' to the above questions you are smarter than most people in your age bracket, or says the Montreal Gazette.


A new survey aimed at gauging Canadians' basic knowledge of the Second World War has revealed a startling blind spot among the 30-to-44 age group. It found that the number of prime-of-life citizens who believe the prime minister during the 1939-45 conflict was Lester B. Pearson exceeds - by far - the number who can accurately name Mackenzie King. The error seems all the more egregious because even younger Canadians - those age 18 to 29 - know enough history to pick King over Pearson.

What's the reason for this? McGill University historian Jack Jedwab speculates:

It's no surprise the two oldest groups - many of whom were born in the King era or just after - tended to get the right answer. Jedwab said he suspects the youngest cohort in the survey still remembers enough of their high school history to strongly associate King with the Second World War, while the 30-to-44 set has simply forgotten what they must have once been taught.

Fair enough I suppose, but how big a problem is this? Does it indicate a woeful lack of knowledge in Canadian history?

Every year around Canada Day, and often other occasions like Remembrance Day, some institute commissions a survey on Canadian history and finds that Canadians can't answer certain (what are assumed to be fundamental) questions. As a history student my head is full of arcane Canadian history facts (just ask my friends). But if my history studies have taught me anything it is that this knowledge is largely useless without a greater understanding of the meaning and significane of historical events.

But does this lack of knowledge of the basics suggest a lack of greater understanding? I'm not convinced. I know many intelligent people, several with Ph.Ds, who do not necessarily score well on those annual Canada Day quizes. They can't say exactly when the First World War started and ended but they understand its importance to the development of Canadian nationality. They may not be able to pinpoint the year of confederation, but how important was confederation anyway? They can tell you that building the railroad was more significant.

The same thing happened in a class of mine just today. The article being discussed centred on the 1804 Sedition Act of Upper Canada. Everyone clearly understood the importance of this law and its related cases to the relations of power and authority between the state and the people in early 19th century Canada. Then the professor asked, "so what exactly did the pertinet section of the Act say?" Silence from the class. Then we all flipped to the first page of the article and re-read what the act actually said. And that's the point. All the trivia kicking around in my head is just that: trivia. Most of it I could look up easily if I needed to.

Additionally, history is the only subject for which popular surveys of this sort are commissioned. No one goes around asking gen-Xers how much of their highschool biology, calculus or grammar they remember. I certainly wouldn't do well on such a test; I can barely remeber how to add fractions. But because history is understood to be such an important aspect of a nation's identity, and because Canada has a perpetual identity crisis, we are constantly lamenting the results of these endless tests.

Is there actually a lack of understanding amongst Canadian's about their history? I don't know. What I do know is that asking people trivia questions doesn't answer that question.

Posted by Matthew @ 2:39 AM :: (0) comments

Monday, November 08, 2004

MACLEANS UNIVERSITY RANKINGS

Has the CBC always reported on the annual Macleans university rankings? It strikes me as odd when one media outlet reports, as news, the content created by another media outlet. It certainly seems to lend even more unnecessary legitimacy to the Macleans rankings.

Macleans certainly provides a very comprehensive aggregation and analysis of important data about Canadian universities. It is data that is certainly worth consulting when choosing a university to attend. The problem is the near unimpeachable reputation this survey has developed amongst many Canadians. But there is no way that anyone can adequately rank the 'overall quality' of the universities.

The school's that consistently rank in the top five of the medical/doctoral category (UofT, McGill, Western, UBC, Queen's) are probably the best school's in the country. But people probably already know this because of the schools' reputations and the graduates they produce. Further, because these school's are understood to be the best they maintain their reputations by getting the most private donations, research grants and top professors. This overshadows the high quality of education at other Canadian schools and any relative improvement that those other schools such as Dalhousie, Alberta and McMaster might make.

Am I bitter that my alma matter (McGill) is again ranked second to the behmouth that is UofT, and that my new school (Queen's) has fallen from third to fifth? Perhaps. But to me this just proves my point. The two best schools in the country are not ranked 1-2.

Posted by Matthew @ 11:11 PM :: (0) comments

LOSING THE WAR ON DRUGS

The number of women incarcerated in American state and federal prisons is at an all-time high. This is a direct result of the 'War on Drugs.'

There were 101,179 women in prisons last year, 3.6 per cent more than in 2002, the Justice Department said. That marks the first time the women's prison population has topped 100,000, and continues a trend of rapid growth.
At the close of 2003, U.S. prisons held 1,368,866 men, the Bureau of Justice Statistics reported. The total was two per cent more than in 2002.
Expressed in terms of the population at large, that means that in 2003, one in every 109 U.S. men was in prison. For women the figure was one in every 1,613.

Longer sentences, particularly for drug related offences are credited for the dramatic rise in the American prison population. The proportion of incarcerated women has increased at a much greater rate than that of men and the start of this trend corresponds almost exactly with the beginning of the 'War on Drugs' in the early eighties.

One of the principal problems with the 'War on Drugs' is that it creates a ripple of other social problems beyond just drug abuse. One commentator said of the rise in female incarceration:
"It represents a sort of vicious cycle of women engaged in drug abuse and often connected with financial or psychological dependence with a boyfriend, or other man involved in drug crime."
The Drug War, of course could be won if the conditions necessitating a 'war' were removed: namely if all or most drugs were regulated and legalized.

Canada, despite the much talked about legislation on marijuana is hardly moving in this direction. As for the United States it has far too much invested in the current 'war' to even consider changing its policies.

'Just Say No' obviously is not working.

Posted by Matthew @ 1:37 AM :: (0) comments

Saturday, November 06, 2004

EIGHT OF OUR GREATEST

There are eight known surviving Canadian veterans of the First World War. In the National Report section of today's Saturday Star there are interviews with all of them. Their names are:

Clare Laking
Lazarre Gionet
Alice Strike
John Babcock
William Proctor
Paul Metiveir
Dwight Wilson
Lloyd Clement

Many of them never made it to combat in Europe. Upon arriving in England, most were discovered to have enlisted under the legal age and were assigned to non-combat units. Nevertheless, these men, and one woman, volunteered to serve their country when they were still children, and they did it in 1916 and 1917 when there could be no mistaking that Europe was a massive killing field. At the ages of 15, 16 and 17 these Canadians chose to fight a war.

I can not think of any significant decision I had to make at the age of 15, yet alone one of that magnitude. The reason for that, of course, is because the Canadians who have come before me did have to make that decision. Throughout the 20th century, when war came, Canadians responded. They chose personal sacrifice and often death to defend a cause greater than any one individual.

This is why we remember.

There are only eight left from the Great War. Pick up a copy of The Star, or read their stories here.

Posted by Matthew @ 10:01 PM :: (0) comments

Thursday, November 04, 2004

WITHDRAWL

Medecins Sans Frontieres is pulling out of Iraq. That can't be a sign that the situation is improving.

Update: Next day
In the comments below, Chuck suggests that perhaps MSF is leaving Iraq because the situation has in fact improved so much that they are no longer needed. Further, that the portrayal of this as a withdrawl is an effect of the liberal media. Okay, that's a legitimate point. Lets then go to the source and check the MSF press release explaining their actions.

Amman/New York, November 4, 2004 - Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) is closing its programs in Iraq. The international humanitarian organization took the decision in view of the extreme risks currently run by aid workers in the country. Given the still considerable humanitarian and medical needs of the Iraqi people, the decision was reached with a great degree of regret and sadness.

Maybe MSF is just trying to provide political fodder for the liberal media. Maybe they're just a bunch of wimps who can't take the heat.

Somehow I doubt it.

[Link to the MSF press release via Pogge who has the same take on this sitution as I do.]

Posted by Matthew @ 5:10 PM :: (0) comments

THIS IS WHAT I HAVE PARENTS FOR

The Ontario legislature MUST have something better to do. First it was a ban on owning certain property (pit bulls) now the government is denying the citizens the ability to choose whether to wear a helmet when biking and in-lining skating. I suppose the people of Ontario really can't be trusted to judge what's in their own self-interest.

Here are some choice quotations from our parliamentarians:

"At its core, I think this bill is really about creating a culture of safety in this province."
- Liberal MPP, John Milloy, who sponsored the private members bill.

Culture of safety? What about a culture where the state micromanages our lives? It's not just that this is a restriction on liberty, although it is. I'm not a totally anti-government libertarian even though this Liberal government seems to be turning me into one lately. I like the government, I think the government can do great things for the people. THIS IS NOT ONE OF THEM. Why are they wasting time and resources on stuff like this?
"There isn't a day goes by that I don't see someone on the streets of Toronto, an adult, with no helmet on their head, and I want to get out of my car or off the sidewalk and I want to grab them and I want to shake them." - Michael Prue, NDP MPP

Well, this bill does just that, writ large. The state is getting up and shaking all of Ontario. I love that MPP Prue frames it in terms of a physical attack. That's great, it really drives the point home.

The article's description of the debate in the legislature:
Milloy's bill won unanimous approval on second reading from the members of the legislature, many of whom used their debate time today to tell touching stories about friends or family members whose lives were cut short by head injuries.

Touching personal stories. Nice.

I don't want to diminish the very real pain I'm sure these people have experienced but the legislature of Ontario is not a support group. Democracy relies on participatory debate in the public sphere. That debate relies on citizens and legislators coming to the table with detached, substantive arguments that appeal to reason and the public interest. When we start conducting our debates with appeals to personal sentimentality reasoned impersonal debate is no longer possible. Its then the first step to the breakdown of the general will.

This bill and the debate surrounding it is wrong on so many levels.

Posted by Matthew @ 4:41 PM :: (0) comments

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

PRESIDENT RE-ELECTED

It's not technically over but Kerry is certainly not in a position of strength. The incumbent president leads the popular vote by 3.5 million, he leads the electoral college, and he leads in all three states that have not officially been declared. His lead in the all important Ohio is by some 140,000 votes, which seems insurmountable regardless of any recount or provisional ballots.

Living in a Society declares this election for George W. Bush.

The process seems to have been clearer and more definitive than last time. Americans certainly turned out in record numbers for this election. There are a few allegations of irregularities but it does not seem like anything too substantial. I'm not saying the process was perfect but it seems to have worked. And democracy is all about the process.

Posted by Matthew @ 9:33 AM :: (0) comments

I'M GOING TO BED

CNN is still trying to pretend that Ohio is in play. They've officially labelled it a 'Green' state, whatever that means. Basically they're revelling in their indecision.

I expect George W. Bush to still be president in the morning.

Posted by Matthew @ 1:59 AM :: (0) comments

IT'S BUSH

I think that's it folks. NBC has called Ohio for Bush. The mood is pretty depressing at Kerry HQ. CNN is still falling over themselves to be careful about making any call too early but the general sentiment is that its going to be Bush.

The president's lead in Ohio has been widening perceptibly over the past hour to about 140,000 votes. None of the votes in any of the states seems to be close enough to warrant a serious law suit. Bush is also leading the popular vote, which is better than he did last time.

It's been close, but America's choice seems clear.

Posted by Matthew @ 1:13 AM :: (0) comments

MIDNIGHT ANALYSIS

The polls are closed, the votes are coming in, its very early on E-Day+1 and here's where I think we stand. (All numbers from C-SPAN

President Bush currently has 237 EC votes. With zero precincts reporting I'm ready to call Alaska for Bush. With 63% of precincts reporting in Colorado and the president up 53-45 I'm ready to call that state for him. Alaska and Colorado put the president at 249 votes, which means he needs 21 more to win.

Bush's best bet is to take Ohio (20 votes) and one other state. He's currently leading in New Mexico 51-48 with 71% reporting. I'm just about ready to give him that one.

So, as expected it comes down to Ohio. How does that state look? Not good for Kerry. With 76% of precincts reporting Bush is leading 51.26-48.24 or in actual votes 2,154,140 to 2,027,229. As of this writing and by my count there are 42 counties with incomplete reports. Of those Bush is leading in 27 of them, Kerry is leading in 10, three are too close to call (within 2 percent) and 2 have not reported at all.

By those numbers it looks like Ohio is going to Bush, and that would be the election.

I haven't heard much about any law suits yet, and I'm not quite ready to call the election for Bush, but its going his way.

Posted by Matthew @ 12:28 AM :: (0) comments

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

THE CITY UPON A HILL

"For we must consider that we shall be as a City upon a Hill, the eyes of all people are upon us."
-John Winthrop, aboard the flagship Arbella, en route to America, 1630.

The eyes of all the world turn today toward America. Waiting. Questioning.

Who will win and earn the right to lead the most powerful nation in the world? Will the post-9/11 foreign policy of President Bush be confirmed or denied? Will the election result be clear and definitive or will we see a repeat of the 2000 Florida saga, perhaps extended to other states?

Most of us can do nothing more than watch and wait, because the decision now is up to the American people. This is a point we would do well to remember: That the leadership of the most powerful nation in the world is determined by the great mass of its own citizens. When one considers the long history of human society and even conditions throughout much of the world today, one comes to the realization that this is quite remarkable. Democracy is still quite young and not nearly well enough established across the globe.

But in America, that which was forged in battle on the field in Concord and through compromise in the state house in Philadelphia, lives on today.

The fundamental principle of democracy is that, "governments are instituted amongst men derriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."

Today the governed of America re-affirm that consent. They exercise their legitimacy as citizens.

America, the world is watching. Don't let us down.

Posted by Matthew @ 3:36 AM :: (0) comments