a conservative heretic commenting on hypocrisy and stupidity in a world with too much of both
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#1? #6? #15? Take Your Pick – We’re all of ’em

iStock_000002554429Medium2-300x199A link has been circulating on Canadian social media about a report that in terms of personal freedom, Canada is ranked number one. It has been primarily been circulated by former Conservative Cabinet Ministers and their supporters and was posted on my Facebook time line by former Conservative Cabinet Minister Pierre Poliviere. I thought that being ranked number one was quite nice and I wondered who it was that had ranked nations so took it upon myself to try to find out.

It wasn’t all that difficult to track down as it turns out. Canada’s ranking was determined by the Legatum Institute as part of a larger report they issued recently on the state of 142 countries. What is the Legatum Institute, I hear you ask? I had never heard of them either so I took a brief trip over to their web site.

Here’s what I learned. Continue reading

Sunny Ways for Most but Not All

“I have had before me as a pillar of fire. . .a policy of true Canadianism, of moderation, of reconciliation.”
Sir Wilfred Laurier


PM Justin Trudeau, his wife Sophie Gregoire and the new Liberal Cabinet appointed on Wednesday. (Photo CHRIS WATTIE/REUTERS)

Well – it’s official.

Justin Trudeau has been sworn in as Canada’s new Prime Minister, appointed his Cabinet and the sky hasn’t fallen. I know this because I went outside immediately after the ceremony Wednesday and looked. It was still blue skies and a few clouds hovering way up high. It is going to rain tomorrow but it’s rained before so I’m optimistic it won’t bring the sky down with it.

Ever since the Liberals won the election, I’ve noticed a significant change in mood within the country. I see it every day on my social media timelines and in casual conversation with folks out in the real world. It’s like the sun has come out again after a prolonged period of cold, bitter winds. I think that is what Justin Trudeau was referring to on election night in his victory speech when he paraphrased former Canadian Prime Minister Sir Wilfred Laurier.

It was a bit flowery for my taste but it did have an historical context.

Laurier who was Prime Minister from 1896-1911 defeated the Conservative government of Sir Charles Tupper which was embroiled the Manitoba School Controversy at the time. The Tupper Government had been intransigent, even threatening and Laurier contrasted it to his planned approach using Aesop’s fable of the Wind, The Sun and the Coat in which the sun and the wind compete to see which can make a man named Greenway remove his coat.

In a speech first delivered in Morrisburg Ontario he summarized his position by saying,

“…the government are very windy. They have blown and raged and theatened, but the more they have theatened and raged and blown the more that man Greenway has stuck to his coat. If it were in my power, I would try the sunny way. I would approach this man Greenway with the sunny way of patriotism, asking him to be just and to be fair, asking him to be generous to the minority, in order that we may have peace among all the creeds and races which it has pleased God to bring upon this corner of our common country. Do you not believe that there is more to be gained by appealing to the heart and soul of men rather than to compel them to do a thing?”

Fast forward to today and Canadians embraced the sunny ways of positive politics over the harsh winds of the politics of division and threat.
Continue reading

We Have Too Many Drips Under Pressure

Math formulae.

Math formulae.

In mathematics, an ‘X’ is an unknown quantity. In plumbing, a spurt is a drip under pressure. Combine the two and you have an X-spurt or as it is more commonly known; an expert. Increasingly, we are surrounded by self-professed experts; unknown drips under pressure who have been working overtime to make a mess of the world in which we live.nepal

To be fair, some of them are just cynical greedy buggers who are in the ‘spurt’ business for the cash. It may not make the nonsense they impose on society easier to deal with but at least it’s honest. Under the right circumstances, who knows how many of the rest of us might not become a Spurt if there was enough cash being presented.

The Spurts that really get under my hat, however are those who are true believers in their own expertise. Their faces glow with earnestness as the light of Jesus shines from their eyes and a constant flow of stupidity flows out of the mouths. They are folks that tend to worm their way into positions of influence (often at great public expense) and then proceed to take themselves far more seriously than we take them. Continue reading

Neither Rain nor Snow nor Common Sense. . .

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.

imagesCanada’s postal service announced a few months ago that it was ceasing door-to-door mail delivery. Instead, it would install neighbourhood mail boxes and people would be required to go to their assigned box to pick up their mail. Canada Post has been installing these mail boxes in newly built neighbourhoods for years and the Crown Corporation has indicated that it needs to make this change across the board in order to cut operation costs.

This isn’t an issue that I’ve been too concerned about to be honest. Maggie and I have been collecting our mail from a neighbourhood mail box for years and at the end of the day, it really isn’t all that big a deal to us. But it is a big deal for many Canadians.

There has been quite an outcry at the loss of daily door-to-door delivery and the roughshod manner in which Canada Post has overruled municipal governments and citizens about where the boxes will be installed.claire-marie-gagnon-sits-in-front-of-the-canada-post-communi

Many people are – well, to put it delicately – pissed.

Some have taken to protest by planting gardens on the site of a proposed mail box. Others have picketed and a few enterprising souls have laid down on the site of a new box and refused to move out of the way of the installers.

It isn’t quite the French Revolution but we’re Canadian and that’s how we do things here.

The Conservative government pretty much ignored the issue, most likely because there didn’t appear to be any niqab-wearing letter-carriers but the new incoming Liberal government has ordered a halt to the installation of the mail boxes until a full review has been conducted.

That caught my attention – not because I agree or disagree with any of the decisions taken before or since but rather because of the amount of political indecision triggered by a fundamental lack of business vision by all concerned. Continue reading

Let Go of my Lego

downloadMy grandson loves Lego although lately he’s been into this thing called Minecraft (also by Lego) which looks to me like something thrown together by a bunch of people with no design ability whatsoever. Lego was around when I was a kid but I didn’t play with it much. I built stuff using Tinkertoys and Mecano when I built anything at all. But times change and Lego is huge these days.

So huge that pro-democracy Chinese artist Ai Weiwei decided to incorporate Lego into his art.wai-2_2233070b

He tried to buy sufficient Lego directly from the manufacturer but Lego declined to sell it to him because they deem his work to be too ‘political’. Imagine that, a company headquartered in a democratic nation finds the free expression of pro-democratic rights to be ‘too political”.

I suspect it isn’t what his art expresses so much as at who is art is targeted – The People’s Republic of China.

China is not noted for its stellar respect for democracy or human rights but – and it’s a big but for companies like Lego – it’s the single largest market in the world and when it comes to making a buck; there are few companies that will risk offending the red giant by put democracy and human rights ahead of sales.

I’m not even close to being anti-business but I am very opposed to companies (often supported by governments) ignoring what is right in pursuit of profits and we’re seeing more and more of it these days. Continue reading

Trying to Justify the Present by Rewriting the Past

“History is written by the victors.”
-Winston Churchill

“Those who can’t change the future, are left with rewriting the past.”
-Zehava Galon, Leader of Israel’s Meretz Party

As the Nazi regime of Adolf Hitler rose to power, it targeted identifiable groups as enemies of the state starting with communists and gypsies and the mentally infirm. Its real target, however, was the Jews. Once in power, a series of laws were enacted first restricting Jews in countless ways and then forcing them to wear the now infamous yellow Star of David badge on their clothing. Eventually, they would be rounded up and ‘emigrated’ from Germany to camps in Eastern Europe.

They became slave labour and when they could no longer work, they were simply killed. By 1941, the killing of Jews had become unofficial Nazi policy and was left in the hands of local and regional leaders to organize.

Initially, Jews were shot but there were a number of problems that arose. Bullets were expensive and necessary for the war effort. It was a time consuming process that did not rise to the standards of typical German efficiency and finally, it was having a negative effect on the morale of members of the SS doing the killing; something Nazi bureaucrats had failed to consider.

By the summer of 1941, the Nazis were experimenting with different methods of mass killing including the use of carbon monoxide gas. Specially designed and built trucks were used to transport Jews who were gassed by carbon monoxide from the vehicles emissions. Because of the sheer numbers of Jews to be exterminated, however, it was becoming increasingly clear to the Nazi hierarchy that an even more efficient means of mass killing was required. Continue reading