Happy New Year!

Happy New year everyone! Good luck sticking to those resolutions. I didn't make any ;-)


Campaign Conduct: Liberal Style

Perhaps Paul Martin thinks Canadians aren't paying attention to politics over the holiday season. I can think of no other reason why he would defend Ralph Goodale's decision not to resign over the RCMP investigation of the Income Trust scandal during a political campaign. This is not how you get re-elected. This is not how you convince people you are cleaning up government.
The NDP and the Tories are, quite rightly, making Goodale's refusal to resign a campaign issue. Goodale's behaviour only feeds the opinion that the Liberal Party culture is one of entitlement. His defiance in the face of dishonour is not going to help convince anyone that the Martin Liberals are any different than the Chretien Liberals... the one card Martin has tried to play in the aftermath of the Sponsorship Scandal.
I'd like to see the Liberals get only one or two seats in the next election. I doubt this will happen, but you never know.

On Giving Birth

After giving birth in the back of an SUV, I am sure this mom will be able to handle anything.
Dion Lewis said the doctor in Princeton told them there was plenty of time to reach Penticton because the baby was still six hours away. "I'm pretty upset about it because they knew she was four centimetres dilated," he said. "Her water had already broke, and they're capable (at the Princeton hospital) of delivering babies.
The doctor told a woman who was four centimetres dilated that she was six hours away from delivery. According to the CBC story, the woman went from 4 centimeters to pushing in an hour which, quite frankly, sounds about right to me. Please also note that my entire birthing process, that is from my first real contraction (not my three weeks of cramps and pre-labour, the real thing) to the time Eden was out, was only six hours, if not slightly less. The excuse given was that the hospital in question hadn't done deliveries in a few years.
My mom had my brother at home, but that was after 6 kids. My dad delivered him because the doctor was late, but again six kids gives you lots of experience. A friend of mine had her first at home, but a midwife was present. This woman delivered (what sounds like her first, I could be wrong) in a SUV and a guy who obviously had no experience had to catch. Beat that!! I sure can't. She is living proof that you only need to be healthy to have a healthy birth. You don't necessarily need a lot of paraphenalia. Still, she is lucky. I hope they really stick it to the hospital.


The Downside of Political Blogging

Executive vice-president of the Liberal Party of Canada in Ontario Mike Klander successfully demonstrated the potential pitfalls of political blogging. It was a profoundly stupid move on his part, comparing Olivia Chow to a dog, not to mention his many other online misdemeanors.
Note to Klander: people can read what you write online. That is, in fact, the point of a blog!


Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone!
Hope you have a blessed holiday season!


Visitor 10,000... since May 2005

I have had my blog since May 2004.
I began keeping track of my blog statistics on May 24, 2005, right around the same time I joined the Blogging Tories. I am pleased to say that this morning I had my 10,000th visitor since I began counting.

I am Geekin' Out Over Here!

It's a twinge of excitement only true nerd can feel.
Tim Berners-Lee started a blog!

Scrooge Leads the Liberals

Mr. Martin, if Zwarte Piet doesn't get you this year, the three Christmas ghosts will.
...a campaign cost-cutting plan they have to allow campaign staff currently on unpaid leave return to their government jobs during Christmas week when the campaign slows down...A reporter pressed Martin on whether it was necessary to have the Liberals working in their government jobs that week, which is usually fairly slow.
"They're not really going to be working during the Christmas holidays, surely?" a reporter asked. "They better be," Martin said in response. "I'm going to tell you that's there's a lot of stuff that has to be done. And they better be working because I'm going to be working and I certainly expect to see them there."

Nice to see Martin wants his minions back at work.
Then of course there is the question of whether or not this is actually ethical.
Prime Minister Paul Martin was asked about whether the practice was ethical while campaigning in Nova Scotia Thursday... Martin said it is okay for Liberals to receive their government salaries as long as they are not doing campaign work for that week. However, the Liberal war room says that not all campaign staff that choose to end their leave of absence to return to government will be at their desks. Some of those who can return to the government could opt to use their vacation credits instead. "Some may use earned vacation credits," Ken Polk a spokesperson for the Liberal campaign told PoliticsWatch. "Others may work. The bottom line is that if they chose either of those options they cannot be on the campaign." The Liberals say they are not violating election-financing laws by using this practice.
Now, the minute I see that they are supposed not violating election laws, I begin to wonder.
...Shapiro stresses that ministerial staff that are still on the government payroll or are on vacation leave cannot be actively campaigning. "All individuals who work on behalf of a minister or a minister of state, and who become actively involved on a full-time basis in a federal election campaign are required to: take leave of absence without pay or resign their position, where these individuals are working in a minister's office (vacation leave or any other leave with pay is not permitted to be taken for election campaign purposes.." Shapiro wrote.
According to the law then, you may not campaign and also receive your regular paycheck. In order to save money, the Liberals are expected to return to their regular jobs next week. They may not campaign while at the office. They will receive their paycheck for that week out of our tax money as usual. That would be normal, except they are in the middle of a campaign. Presumably, this is how the Liberals will save a few bucks. They don't pay them; we do.
Am I understanding this correctly?
In any case, regardless of whether it is ethical or not, forcing your people back to work over the holidays just so you don't have to pay them out of the campaign budget is cheap. No one else is doing it! Take a break for crying out loud! It's Christmas... err, excuse me, the holiday season.


A Real Debate

After Martin refused Duceppe's challenge to a one-on-one debate, Harper stepped forward ready to stand in Martin's place.
It's an interesting move, going into a debate you are destined to lose. But then this time it's really not about winning against the Bloc, is it? It's about winning against Martin. It's about proving your manhood.
The Conservatives have not won a seat in Quebec in years, but Harper's offer of a one-on-one with Duceppe is aimed as much at impressing English-speaking voters in the rest of the country as it is at francophone Quebecers who have never warmed to the Tory leader. The point of the Conservative strategy is to steal the thunder of Martin, who has campaigned energetically on the national unity theme.
I approve.
As for the idea of a Conservative minority encouraging independence in Quebec, I am unconcerned at this point. Sovereignty happens at the provincial level, not at the federal level.


Say it With Feathers? What Were They Thinking?

White feather Christmas wreaths: nothing good can come of this, I assure you.
Ever watch Trading Spaces? Ever see the stuff Hilde comes up with? Well, this is something she would have invented. Don't believe me? Try watching the episode where she glues chicken feathers to the wall.
White Christmas: say it with feathers
A fluffy wreath. Similar materials can be used to make tree

Tree? You mean that thing is a tree and not a tassle?
And by the way, what exactly are you trying to say? We're here, we're queer? Merry Christmas... I mean, Season's Greetings? Or are we saying I'm 15 and have too much babysitting money and nothing useful to spend it one?
Project: White feathered square wreath
Hands-on time: Less than an hour.
Total time: Less than an hour.
Skill: Easy.

That should have been Skill: Optional.
Project cost: Less than $30, depending on the type of feathers you buy.
You could go with ostrich feathers, however, and end up with a $200-$300 dollar wreath. You'll be tacky AND expensive! (Trump will love it)
Feather wreaths are a huge trend in home decor, and they make stunning accessories for any season. They are absolutely spectacular poised on a fireplace mantel, centred over a large mirror, on a door or hooked casually over a chair. Festive feather wreaths are graceful yet quite easy to make.
This should have read:
Feather wreaths are Cher's favorite this year. They make stunning accessories for any season... no, really. Your friends won't know what to say. Put them atop your artificial fireplace or centre them over your vanity mirror leopard-print edging for a truly ghastly look. Hook it casually over the chair in your boudoir. Your "customers" will appreciate the effort.
A feathered wreath will last for years.
Uh huh.
A feathered wreath might make it to December 26th if you have no kids. This also assumes that feathered wreaths will be in fashion next year... which I doubt.
Each holiday, you can give it a fresh new look by just decorating it with a variety of different accessories.
Be sure to replace the feathers that fell out last year.
Leave the wreath plain or include assorted embellishments such as colourful miniature balls, fresh ivy, a feathered bird, berry clusters, bows and creative wire ornaments.
A feathered bird!!
Oh the sick irony of a tiny bluejay or cardinal perched amongst the feathers of its kin!
If you use feather wreaths outdoors...
Like some kind of moron...
...be sure to place them under a covered porch area to avoid direct sunlight or snow. You will want a feather wreath for every season, to hang over a door, on a wall or over a mirror. They make wonderful gifts, too.
In fact, I gave one to a friend this year. Funny how she hasn't been returning my calls.

Reports on Khadr

How a news outlet covers a story says a lot about them. While this sounds obvious, consider the recent coverage of Khadr's arrest and possible extradition to the US.
The CTV coverage is, I'm sorry to say, lazy. Better coverage of the story can be found at the Globe & Mail. The most in depth coverage of all is located at the National Post.
Consider the following:
Silver said the warrant contains no details about the U.S. government's allegations. The RCMP arrested Khadr on Saturday under something known as a provisional warrant. Such warrants are issued based on accusations from another government. In this case, the accusations come from the U.S.
That accusations come from the US in no way make them any less valid. The writer makes no attempt to explain a provisional warrant, and the wording suggests that this type of warrant is less valid.
Consider the view from the Globe.
Prosecutors say their information is unequivocal: "Khadr told FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force agents that he was asked to undertake those activities by his father, Ahmed Said Khadr, allegedly a colleague of Osama bin Laden." ... Mr. Khadr is to make another court appearance this morning and the complaint against him in Boston may be unsealed. Under Canada's Extradition Act, the United States has 60 days to produce its case against Mr. Khadr. Canada's Justice Department then has another month to review the case before proceeding.
Interesting. The view is not only more balanced, it also presents more information.
The National Post has this to say on the provisional warrant:
RCMP officers, acting on a provisional warrant issued by U.S. authorities, arrested Mr. Khadr on Saturday night at a McDonald's restaurant near his Scarborough apartment. He now faces possible extradition to Massachusetts, where prosecutors have charged him with possessing a destructive device in furtherance of a crime of violence, and conspiracy to possess a destructive device in furtherance of a crime of violence. Both criminal charges carry a maximum sentence of life in prison and a $250,000 fine... None of the allegations has been proven in court. American prosecutors have 60 days to present evidence to the Canadian Department of Justice, which must now decide whether or not to extradite Mr. Khadr. Even if the government agrees, it will likely be months -- if not years -- before he ever steps foot in Massachusetts.
Again, interesting.
Like the Globe, the Post presents a more balanced report and provides the reader with more complete information.
I am sure I could go through a number of other media outlets and find similar instances of good or bad work. This illustrates the absolute need for a balanced approach to reading the news. The first thing you read, in my case it was the CTV report this morning, may not present the whole story. It may take several readings of several versions of the same story in order to get a clear picture of what exactly happened. While it sounds like obvious advice, it can be hard to remember. I can think of many times I have written something on the first report I read only to discover that what I read was either very biased or was missing important information.

And, innocent until proven guilty considered, I hope Khadr gets his bogey whooped!


Godless Government Day Off

Such a great post today by Monte Solberg.
Brilliant, in fact.
Anyway, forget all that stuff. Here is what I want to say. I know I am speaking on behalf of all Canadians when I say that I hope Paul and Sheila (who is truly a very nice and charming woman) are able to explain to the boys why Paul inexplicably refused to make them part of the future of Canada. After they patch things up and look at some windmills it really is my hope that they, and all my colleagues, and all who read this have a safe and Merry Christmas.
Quite frankly, I hope Martin gets coal in his stocking. He spent $240 on a wreath this year, so I'm sure he won't mind not getting any presents.
Actually, I just had an evil thought.
Who here knows anything about the Dutch Christmas? More specifically, do you know anything about Zwarte Piet? I only recently learned about this tradition, not being of Dutch decent myself.
Once upon a time, Saint Nicholas once liberated a young slave named Peter, who decided to serve Nicholas rather than enjoy liberty alone. Zwarte Piet, or Black Peter (or Sweaty Pete as my husband calls him) is Santa's Little Helper. No cute little elves for the Dutch! No sireee! Parents tell their children that if they have been good, Zwarte Piet will bring them gifts and sweets. If they have been bad, Piet will scoop them up, stuff them in his huge sack and spirit them away to Spain. And you thought that big bag carried only toys! They should have made the kids work for Santa in his shop without food. The irony would have been...
Pete carries a whip or scourge to chastise children who have been too naughty for presents. Giving coal is clearly for wussies.
So enjoy Christmas while you still can, Mr. Martin.
Zwarte Piet is definitely coming for you this year.

Funny Quote Of the Day

I've been to Canada, and I've always gotten the impression that I could take the country over in about two days.
Jon Stewart

I love the new RSS feeds in GMail, especially the one for funny quotes.

The Debates and The Apprentice

I watched the first half of the leadership debates last night. I fully agree with CTV's assessment:
Four federal political leaders preaching from four podiums is not a debate... the first debate was less about mental agility than the perfection of cadence, pacing and language that comes from working with a good speechwriter... as a test of leadership in the crucible it did little to illuminate the candidates for Canadian voters.
In short, what I saw was boring. Last years debate was much better.

And now for the Apprentice.
Rebecca and Randall were always my two favorites. Going into the last show, I was hoping Trump would hire both of them. It was exciting at the end; it honestly looked like he would.
And then Randall had to blow it!
What a window into his character! The inability to share glory is, in my opinion, a flaw. What does he care if Rebecca was also an Apprentice? She would have been working on a different project and it's not as though it would have taken away from him.
Oh well.
If Trump was smart, and I'm sure he is, he'd ignore Randall and hire her anyway. So the rest of the world doesn't hear about it; so what? I think many corporations would bend over backward for an employee like that.


Leadership Debates

The first of three leadership debates airs tonight at 8pm and will run for two hours.
This leaves me with a critical question: do I watch the debate or the season finale of the Apprentice?
Given that the format has changed since last year and that Randall and Rebecca are undoubtedly the best Apprentice candidates had so far, I suspect the debates will be the loser.
It's too bad the debate format was changed. Last year's debate was awesome. It really showed what a disaster Paul Martin was. I seem to recall writing about it here.
Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe said Wednesday that the Bloc was the only one of the three parties that wanted to keep the 2004 format.
"I'm there to debate," he said. "I was hoping that there would be interaction between the leaders. We were the only party asking to have interaction..."

Of course you were Duceppe. That's because you rocked last year.
NDP Leader Jack Layton said the 2004 format was "absurd" and "disrespectful."
"I prefer this format for the debate where we will be given an opportunity to express our views," he said.

Please. You sucked, Layton. You couldn't debate worth beans! All you did was advertise for the NDP!
I love the tips for Martin.
Martin should try to remain prime ministerial and not go on the attack too much. If he hasn't thought about it, he should be concerned about a question coming up from an average citizen out of nowhere - such as one about David Dingwall and his severance...
Must not do: The prime minister cannot look tired, act irritated, stammer and ramble on.

This is not happening.


Politics and Blogging

Be sure to read this article on politics and blogging posted at the Globe & Mail.
It's too bad the article doesn't member the various blogging communities (ahem, us) but it does mention that the Conservatives were the first to provide podcasts. It also mentions, yet again, that the writer oftheir blog is still anonymous.
I can't say as I agree with NDP Brad Lavigne's reason for not having a blog. It sounds like a cop out, if you ask me. It's an official blog of a political party; people are going to take it with a grain of salt no matter what it says.

Legalizing Prostitution

If there was ever a reason not to vote Liberal in this election, their plan to legalize prostitution is it.
My husband sent me this article at CTV and this article at the Edmonton Sun. Pay close attention to the last paragraph in the Sun article:
Before the Liberal government fell, a House of Commons committee was fine-tuning a report recommending Ottawa scrap all Criminal Code sections that deal with adult prostitution, according to a draft leaked to the media.
Fine tuning a report?
I wonder if they are referring to the last section of this plenary report available at the Liberal Party website or something else. I hope it's not something else that I have yet to see. Such a covert approach to a highly controversial subject would be...
typical, actually.
Some time ago, Shane posted a link to this insightful article on prostitution at the Tyee. The author makes a number of points against the legalization of prostitution, and I agree with her.
Experiments in full decriminalization in Australia and New Zealand have failed. There are four times as many illegal brothels than there are legal ones. Women still face the violence of prostitution, not just rapes, beatings and murders, but the harm prostitution itself causes, ranging from post-traumatic stress disorder to HIV.
She could have added the Netherlands.
But what about what is already happening here in Canada?
The current laws are a mish mash. Prostitution is actually quasi-legal in Canada... the City of Vancouver collects licensing fees from strip clubs, massage parlours and escort agencies, which are in effect a form of legalized prostitution.
Really? Is it working?
Several women report that their welfare workers suggested, directly and indirectly, that they consider licensed escort agencies as a work option. If prostitution becomes legal, that makes it a fully viable job option. As rape crisis workers, the last thing we want is to see women escape violence, and come to our transition house, with two kids, no job, and no money, only to be told by their welfare worker there's an opening as a prostitute. These women could be denied welfare on the grounds that they are refusing to work. And of course single women could be considered even more eligible for the "occupation" of prostitution. This is what legalization looks like, and it's already happening in Vancouver.
This sounds like a great plan, doesn't it?
It just goes to show you how concerned the Liberals are with women's rights, and more specifically poor and abused women's rights. In an age where violence against women is a growing problem, it saddens me that any government would consider the legalization of prostitution a viable option.
The most shocking statistics in the report are these, however:
Three out of four women say they began prostituting before the age of 18... The average global age of women entering prostitution is thirteen.
If you have a daughter, ponder this issue carefully.
Do you want her growing up in a country where the sexual objectification of her body for the purposes of some deviants pleasure is not only legal, but encouraged?

Provincial Politics

I don't often talk about Ontario politics. Today we have important news however.
Ontario will have fixed election dates and online, real-time disclosure of political donations under a new law passed today.
This is good news. Ontario is only the second province besides BC to have fixed election dates.
The law sets the province's next election date for Oct. 4, 2007. Provincial elections will now be held on the first Thursday in October every four years.
It is my hope that the new federal government will follow this example and also give us fixed election dates.


The NDP Commercial

Has anyone else seen the NDP commercial? I just saw it five minutes ago for the first time this campaign season. It's quite brilliant actually. I love the boot.
Why didn't the Conservatives come up with an ad like this?

Manitoba Metis Federation vs. Clare Pieuk

November 30, 2005

WINNIPEG - The Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF) has brought suit against Clare Pieuk, the webmaster of CyberSmokeSignals, for allegations made in an online petition posted on the website in January 2004.

In its Statement of Claim, the Manitoba Metis Federation contends that the following allegations in the petition are defamatory:

"And whereas the Manitoba Metis Federation has been needlessly spending vast amounts of money for inappropriate travel and accommodation for David Chartrand, as well as, some Board Members;

"And whereas David Chartrand has already spent tens of thousands of dollars on pre-election campaigning [...];

"And whereas very large sums of money intended for appropriate purposes such as consulting with members on hunting and harvesting issues has already been spent by David Chartrand on campaigning;

"And whereas Metis people believe that MMF elections should be conducted fairly with all candidates having an equal opportunity;

"And whereas the Federation's Board has been illegally authorizing campaign spending for David Chartrand and unlawfully spending your public monies to pay his election court challenge fees;

"And whereas unnecessary Board travel has been authorized for public relations purposes to one candidate only, namely David Chartrand;

"And whereas Metis have no confidence that any extra funding provided to the Federation will be spent in a legal or appropriate manner but rather believe all
principles of fair play will be set aside by the Board of Directors approving campaign and public relations expenses for David Chartrand only;

"And whereas the Metis believe that any extra money provided to the MMF will be used in attempts to hinder and suppress the rights of the other candidates for the presidential election rather than providing them with an equal opportunity."

Jeff Niederhoffer, the lawyer for Mr. Pieuk, has already indicated to reporters that his client plans to fight. "We intend to vigorously defend the truth of each and every one of the allegations in the petition. My client is in possession of evidence to back up what's written in the petition, and we look forward to using it at trial," Niederhoffer has said. "We are going to show what we have to a jury and let them make up their own mind as to who is telling the truth."

The MMF has alleged that the documents and evidence in Mr. Pieuk's possession have in fact been stolen from its offices.

In an unprecedented pre-trial motion, the MMF has not only demanded that Mr. Pieuk turn over all material in his possession, but that he disclose how he came into
possession of it.

Niederhoffer confirms he plans to fight the MMF's motion when it comes up before the court. But Niederhoffer also indicates that the question of control of the documents may soon be academic. "Months ago, as a safeguard, we provided copies of everything
we have to the Auditor General's office, and we also took other steps to ensure that the contents of the documents will be public knowledge by the time this comes to trial."


Jeffrey J. Niederhoffer
Barrister and Solicitor
PO Box 48081 RPO Lakewood
Winnipeg, Manitoba R2J 4A3


I went to see The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe on Friday night. I've been meaning to put together a write up since then, but I just haven't gotten around to it until now.

What a fantastic movie!
I grew up on the Narnia books. If I read them once as a kid, I read them a thousand times. I also saw the BBC version and an old cartoon of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Narnia was my first introduction to the words of fantasy books. I don't think I could have been more pleased with what I saw last night. It was an extremely faithful rendition of a classic.
Tilda Swinton was truly powerful as the White Witch. It would have been easy to overact the part. Instead, she presents that perfect balance of barely contained rage and truly evil calm. As the warrior-queen leading her minions into battle, Swinton did an excellent job. I loved the use of the sword and wand.
And speaking of battle, the great battle scene towards the end of the movie exceeded my expectations. When I saw Aslan's army lined up, waiting for the Witch to charge, I expected a typical Frankish Charge. Let's face it: when a battle scene makes use of horses, the Frankish Charge would seem to be what all directors turn to. It's something easy for the audience to recognize. The great battle was more than just that, however. The use of griffons as bombers and a phoenix as an incendiary bomber was brilliant. It added just a touch of World War II.
The children who played the four Pevensies were well chosen, as were Tumnus and the voice of Aslan. The special effects were good and did not overpower the viewer, with the notable exception of the blue screen shot on the overpass. That was too obvious.
I am anxious to see the next installment of the series. To the best of my knowledge, only Prince Caspian is a guarantee at this point. However, I would not be surprised to see the other books make it to film.
And to those out there who were concerned about the overtly Christian content of the film or who were concerned that Peter had to kill the wolf (ahem, Globe & Mail), please familiarize yourself with more of Lewis' works before committing such stupid statements to print where everyone can read them.


Martin's Apology: A Freudian Slip?

I was reading the CTV account of Reid's ridiculous beer and popcorn comment. I couldn't help but notice the wording of Paul Martin's apology.
"There's no doubt in my mind that parents are going to use it for the benefit of their families. They're going to use that money in a way that I'm sure is responsible. Let there be no doubt about that."
Are going to use it?
They're going to use?
Did you mean to say it like that, Mr. Martin?
One might conclude that you think the Conservatives will win this election and we'll be getting our money.

Red Ensign Standard 33

The latest issue of the Red Ensign Standard is up. it is being hosted by Nicholas at Quotulatiousness.

What $100 a Month Can Cover

In light of Scott Reid's ignorant comment regarding the average Canadian's use of the proposed $100 a month for child care and John Duffy's even more ignorant agreement, I thought I'd provide a list of what $100 a month can actually buy for the average middle to low income family.

  • 1 bag of diapers a week... and I only go through a bag every two weeks

  • 2 large boxes of wipes a week from Costco ...mind you, the biggest box can last me a whole month

  • 4 or 5 outfits (if Eden actually needed clothes, which she doesn't)

  • 10 or 12 new burp cloths (I could finally give my sister in law back the ones she loaned me)

  • 1 new breast pump, with change left over

  • 15 boxes of breast pads (and I only need one box every two weeks)

  • 1 safety gate, 1 toilet trainer, 1 step stool and a child's toothbrush

  • 1 child's snowsuit and accompanying winter boots... this is Canada after all

  • 5 jumbo colouring books, two packages of construction paper, one large box of crayons, one pair of safety scissors and one glue stick

  • 1 complete grocery order

  • 2 oil changes ... mind you, we need less than one a month

  • 2 tanks of gas

  • the electricity and summer gas bill

  • the winter gas bill

  • the phone and cable bill

In three months, we'd have enough for a new cabinet from Walmart with doors for the TV room, to prevent our baby from pulling apart the dvd player, or pulling the TV down on top of her, or getting her hands all over our software, or tangling herself up on the cords that are currently being stored on the floor. In six months we'd have enough for a new bed for her room. We'll need it, because babies don't stay in cribs forever.
Considering the above list, please note that two of my sisters-in-law would be getting $300 a month. Had this money been available last year, one would have received $400 a month. I can think of several families that I personally know that would also receive $300 or more. Two friends of mine will receive $200 a month as of June next year. My cousin would receive $200 a month now. I am sure you don't need me to list what that much money can pay for.
Scott Reid and John Duffy either don't have children of their own, or they have been extremely lax fathers. To suggest that the average family would make popcorn and beer their first priority when there are so many other expenses, is utterly absurd. Paul MArtin can try to retract the comment as much as he wants, but it is too late. The damage is done and your parties anti-family stance has been revealed.
I will never send my child to one of your government funded daycares.

Party Website Rankings

Behold! My first non-partisan political post of the campaign! I examined party websites during the last election also. Today, I will put my usability background to use and rank them according to their aesthetic appeal.

  1. The Green Party

  2. The NDP

  3. The Conservative Party

  4. The Bloc

  5. The Christian Heritage Party

  6. The Liberal Party

  7. The Communist Party

I was surprised by how good the Green Party's website looked. It's clean, well laid out and makes excellent use of the party colours. I was also surprised by the NDP site. Green and orange can be difficult to use well. Take the Blogging Dipopers community, for example. That is a classic example of how not to use green and orange.
The Conservative website isn't bad. There just isn't anything that makes it really stand out. It doesn't make me go "Wow!"
The Bloc website isn't bad. It's about tied with the Conservative site, but perhaps slightly below. If I had been the designer, however, I think I would have selected a slightly smaller picter of Duceppe. Honestly, that thing is huge! Also, I can only find a French version of the site. If an English version is available, and I doubt there is, it's buried too deep for me to find. As an aside, I couldn't help but notice that Duceppe has jumped on the latest bandwagon to hit Canadian politics. He has a blog. For some reason, this struck me as being extremely funny.
The CHP site is ok. Again, it's not bad. It just doesn't make me go "Wow!" on first look. Digging deeper one can find pages that don't follow the template used for the rest of the site. This error should have been avoided.
The Liberal website is too red. The layout of the front page is good, but the rest of the site is substandard. When working with a colour that is as strong as red, you have to be careful not to overdo it. The banner at the top of the page is simply too grating. A better example of how to effectively use red can be found at the Liberal Underground.
By far, the Communist Party has the ugliest website. No one should use frames. Ever! There is simply no excuse for it.

Online Rights Canada

A new organization called Online Rights Canada was launched a week ago Friday. The group was founded as a reaction to a bill that increased the powers of the RCMP and CSIS. I wrote about the bill here. Fortunately, with the start of the election campaign, the bill died. However, the Globe & Mail is most likely correct when it suggests that this bill will most likely be revived.

I Am So Disappointed

My favorite station, Classical 96.3FM, has Jack Layton hosting this morning.
Well, at least it's not Paul Martin.


Out of the Mouths of Babes

I saw a link to this interview at Small Dead Animals.
Oh if only all our youth was this informed and had this much common sense! What a bright how there would be for Canada!

Chuck Strahl: Blogger

Conservative MP Chuck Strahl has started his own blog. This promises to be an interesting read (eventhough his main page could use a little work).
I first became aware of Mr. Strahl back in October when I saw him on Question Period. Craig Oliver was interviewing him about his recent cancer diagnosis. I posted about it here. Mr. Strahl is one of the few politicians (dare I say people) who had my respect the moment he opened his mouth. He took the oportunity given him in the interview to share his faith. It was great.

Old and Confused

The Liberal Party excels at hanging their friends out to dry. I couldn't help but feel for Gleberzon when I read in this article that the Finance Ministry's communications director, John Embury, said he was "old and confused." Apparently, Gleberzon didn't tell CTV what he was supposed to tell them. According to the National Post, Gleberzon is no longer taking calls on the subject.

Did you Know...?

Apparently, the Blogging Tories have an exclusion policy?
How strange.
I've been a BT member since sometimes early in the summer and this is the first I've heard about it. Get a load of our supposed "rules."
1. Established readership
2. Critical acclaimed in the blogging community
3. Enthusiasm for the Blogging Tories

Please note all that when I joined, I did not meet a single one of our supposed "criteria."
But, let me dissect this post further.
Should I be surprised to see the Blogging Tories purge bloggers from their rolls that have not posted in the past six weeks?

A possible rephrasing of this question could be "Should I be surprised to see the Blogging Tories engage in completely normal behaviour for any large (and steadily growing) blog community?"
Should I be surprised by the fact that this decision was announced on the same day as the no-confidence vote in the House?

I obviously missed this announcement. I can't find it anywhere on the BT site either. Craig? Stephen?
I'm also wondering, what could a non-existent announcement possibly have to do with the no-confidence vote. Or is this one of those "if you can't figure it out, I'm not going to tell you" things?
Should I be surprised by the fact that the Blogging Tories have a new policy that excludes new blogs from being added to their aggregator for a period of three months?

Still looking for this mythical policy.
Should I be surprised by the fact that the Blogging Tories exclude blogs from their ranks based on Conservative values?

This is the only point that makes sense. Of course a Conservative community is going to limit their membership to Conservatives. Why else would it be called Blogging Tories? I have to ask the author of this post, are you actively seeking Conservative bloggers for your community? If I wanted to join, would you let me?
Just like the Conservative Party, the Blogging Tories appear to have a policy of exclusion, when blogging is all about inclusion, not exclusion.
Blogging is all about writing. It has nothing to do with inclusion or exclusion. For some people, blogging is a chance to express themselves on political matters. For others, a blog is nothing more than an online diary. For others, blogging is a chance to improve their writing skills or compile research notes.
My favorite is this line:
If you're new (1), like a new immigrant, you're out of luck...
What does being an immigrant and established readership have to do with each other? (Let me make it easy for you: NOTHING) It is entirely possible that someone could be a citizen in Europe somewhere or Asia and have a blog. They could build up quite a readership and then move to Canada. That's why cyberspace is said to have no borders.
Or maybe you didn't know that.

Cool New Gmail Feature

Gmail has added a feature that allows you to add RSS feeds to the top of your mail page. It seems to be a bit buggy at the moment, but I think this is cool. I can add the feeds from all the blogs I regularly read.


How Stupid are These Guys?

Ah! The beginning of an election campaign. What better time to get caught in the act of insider trading. Since Martha Stewart was an American, surely no Canadian will remember that she did go to jail for the same thing.
Goodale's plan must have seemed foolproof at the time.
But, given that the Liberal Party is full of fools...


Ah, the Irony

In days of yore, feminism was a useful tool. It procured us the right to vote, equal pay for equal work and increased awareness regarding sexual harrassment.
Those days are gone.
Long gone, in fact.
Now, feminism provides us with this piece of stupidity. I got this one from Les.
Try not to laugh at the idiots. They're trying. Really.
The spokesman for a feminist-based environmental group accused men of being the biggest contributors to human-caused "global warming" and lamented that women are bearing the brunt of the negative climate consequences created by men...
"To give you an example from Germany, it is mostly men who are going by car. Women are going by public transport mostly," Rohr told Cybercast News Service. Rohr was standing in front of her booth, which featured a banner calling for "creative gender strategies" from "rural households to global scientific bodies."
"In most parts of the world, women are contributing less [to greenhouse gasses]," Rohr continued. But it is the women of the world who will feel the most heat from catastrophic global warming, she said.

I see. So, men are creating the problem and women are bearing the most siginificant consequences of it. Why is that?
Behold the answer (not to mention the irony of it).
...it is women who are more affected because they are more vulnerable...
Now, let this notion really sink in for a moment.
A feminist is saying that women have a harder time with climate change because they are more vulnerable.
I just have to ask, who could we possibly be more vulnerable then?
Surely not.
We're equals, aren't we?

The Great Canadian Vote Auction

According to PoliticsWatch, eBay recently had to shut down an auction to buy someone's vote at the upcoming election.
"This is a brand new vote for the January 23rd Canadian Federal Election !" the item proclaimed in its description.
"The actual Liberal government is buying votes through spending promises, why couldn't you buy a vote to help them or to get rid of them? This is a unique opportunity, express yourself twice (or more) .....Voting is fun, double your pleasure !"
The person selling his vote emphasized that it was not for sale to political parties.

Unlike the Liberal government of course, who only sold itself to other political parties.
Elections Canada said selling a vote violates Section 481. (1) of the Act, which states: "Every person is guilty of an offence who, during an election period, directly or indirectly offers a bribe to influence an elector to vote or refrain from voting or to vote or refrain from voting for a particular candidate."
Subsection 2 on accepting a bribe states: "Every elector is guilty of an offence who, during an election period, accepts or agrees to accept a bribe that is offered in the circumstances described in subsection (1)."

Although, technically speaking, selling ones vote shouldn't count as a bribe if you are not planning to vote yourself. As for subsection 2, again we see a convenient example of the law applying to Joe-Average-Peon-Canadian, and not to the upper cruty Liberal Party.
Grewal anyone?

On Family

Before I begin my discussion (which will probably turn into a rant), I'd like to ask the same question Michael Coren asked the Liberal representative on his show last night, Martha Hall Finley. Her mother stayed at home to raise her and her five siblings.

Do you wish your mother had gone to work and left you in daycare?

Please note, there was the most enormous silence after this. My husband and I laughed. She eventually conceded that her mother had done an excellent job and never answered the question. Coren then said that mothers tend to be good at being mothers.

I started digging through my archives today and found surprisingly little on the urgent need for stay at home mom's and family man dad's. I thought I had written something, but obviously not. Time to address the issue.
I come from a traditional two parent family. So does my husband. There were six kids in my family, five girls and one boy, and four kids in his, two of each. Our immediate families are committed to the idea and practice of a stay at home mom.
I have a Master's degree in Computer Science. Had I not gotten married, I probably would have gone on to get a PhD (there's just something about calling myself Dr. Ruth). As it is, I probably will continue my education at some point in the future, but for the moment it is not my primary goal. I am not cut out for the corporate scene (two summers working at a bank ruined me for that), but if I were, with my skills and education I would have no trouble making an excellent wage. However, making big money is not my life's primary goal. In fact, it's not on my to do list at all.
My husband and I have a daughter. She is nearly three months old and I have decided to remain at home to take care of her. We hope to have more children. In fact, a large family (6+ kids) would be fantastic, albeit expensive. The more kids we have, the greater need there will be for me to remain at home and the greater the pinch there will be on the family wallet. Sending my child to daycare or paying for a live in nanny so I can go out to work, however, would be a tragedy. I would miss all the best parts of her early life. She will only take her first step once. Her first word will only be spoken once.
Sadly, I am the only one of any of the girls I graduated with (and there are precious few women in the computing industry) who has made the decision to stay at home and raise their families. Most opt for the money. My husband and I have decided to make do on his income. Should I manage to pick up contract work that I can do at home that would be wonderful, but my child is undoubtedly my first priority and I am not willing to sacrifice family for the sake of a career. Money, although it makes life more comfortable, cannot replace a child. At the end of your life, it will not give you grandchildren. You cannot walk money down the aisle. You cannot send money off to its first day at school or watch it graduate.
My husband is very much a family man. I became aware of this trait early on when we were dating. Both of his sisters have good sized families, and it was always a treat for me to watch him with his neices and nephews. It made him incredibly attractive, because I was keenly aware of how rare this behaviour is. Although my own father was also a family man, I knew that men of his type were in short supply. The ability to deal well with children is a learned skill, and not everyone is taught. It is more common in our church community of course, but as a percentage of the population, we are only a small group.
In our community, private education or homeschooling is preferred. I can think of many large families with 4+ children who are on a single income, making less than $50k a year and still manage to save $10k+ after taxes to send their childen to the local private school. These people are not up to their eyeballs in debt either. If they can do it on a modest income, then why do you need to abandon your children to daycare in order go out and make the really big money? Why can't you learn to do without the enormous house, SUV and brand name everything? Why is "stuff" more important than your family?
The Liberal plan to improve daycare does nothing for the people who are making a monetary sacrifice for the good of their family. It does nothing for those people who want to make the sacrifice, but due to social pressures do not. I can think of at least one example of someone (my cousin) who would love to permanently stay at home with her two children, but can't due to the pressure to live up to a certain social standard. It takes a lot of effort to balk the system, especially when there is no one encouraging you to do so.
If our future government does not invest in families, what will happen when we have to rely entirely on immigraiton in order for our population to grow? What will happen to the economy? Providing money to families, especially large ones, can only be a good thing for our country. It's an investment, not a waste.


Power to the Stay At Home Moms

Behold this CTV interview with a stay at home mom.
Notice what she says.
With her first child, she tried daycare. Her child, like so many, did not do well. Eventhough she made more money than her husband, they decided it would be better for the family if she stayed home to look after their child. She now has two more children.
I have no idea who the woman in the interview is. Lady, I salute you. I wish there were more women like you... like us... who make the unpopular decision to forego a career for the benefit of their family. It is an uphill battle agaist the stereotype of the "stupid" stay at home mom.

This was a Problem?

Where was I?
PoliticsWatch has an article indicating that there is no problem with political blogging during an election. This is the first time I heard there might be.
Blogging Tories is mentioned in the article, as are blogging groups for the Liberal and New Democrat Parties. I guess the Bloc is behind on this one.
Liberals could try to "use Elections Canada in an attempt to level the playing field" in the blogging community, which is dominated by conservatives, even in Canada.
Now that I think about it, such an anti-democratic move would not have surprised me at all. Given the leak about certain Gomery testimony, however, it's not likely it would have been successful. The recent decision by Elections Canada ensures that this will not be happening over the course of this campaign.


Comment Policy

I bit the bullet at last and posted a comment policy. It's too bad I had to do it, but quite frankly, there are too many people posting that don't understand what is acceptable behaviour.
If you wouldn't say it to a friend, your mom or even your enemy to his face, then don't say it here.

Comparing Criminal Stances

Canada.com has an article on the Conservative stance on crime.
We also have this tidbit, pointed out by CanadianPreacher.
If ever there was an election that will show where your priorities are, this is it. You can either choose to get tougher on crime, or you can legalize prostitution and marijuana use.
What a nightmare!
I don't understand how any woman with a grain of sense can possibly approve of such a law. No doubt the honourable Ms. Stronach and Ms. McLellan consider themselves to be great feminists. How the hell can they support a party that not only supports prostitution but is prepared to pass a law that will legalize it? Prostitutes are frequently victims of rape or abuse. They often have severe drug addictions. Women forced into the so called "sex trade" need help to get out. They don't need laws that encourage further victimization!! I do not want my daughter to grow up in such a country.
I am appalled that the Liberal Party would consider such a law. This is further proof that they do not have the moral authority to govern.

And Speaking of Children

CBC has this article on the Conservative Plan for Child Care.
As a stay-at-home mom, I am in favour of it.
The Conservatives' two-part plan includes money to help create child-care spaces as well as the $100 a month "choice in child-care allowance."
With the new allowance families would receive $1,200 a year for each child under the age of six.
"Parents can spend the money however they wish. You can choose the child-care option that best suits your family's needs," Harper said.
The new program would not replace any existing major benefit program, Harper said. It would be in addition to the current Canada Child Tax Benefit, the National Child Benefit Supplement and the child-care expense deduction.

So, I would get my tax credit and an extra $100. That would be incredibly useful.
Some child care advocates, however, say the Tory plan is based on old, outmoded thinking. "We've been trying to fund child care through benefits to families or parent subsidies for 30 years, and it hasn't worked," said Kira Heineck, executive director of the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care. "We'd like to see investment directly in programs across the country."
What the heck do you know?
You think day care is the best way to go, which it isn't.
To those of us who wish to keep our kids at home during the crucial first five years of their life, pumping money into your programs is not useful at all.

What a Cute Picture!!!

Oh my gosh!!
If this picture (swiped from the Conservative website) doesn't bring in the mom vote, I don't know what will.

(My baby is cuter though.)


My Riding Info

Niagara West-Glanbrook
Vote for Dean everybody!
I do not have a sign yet. Hopefully, I'll get one soon.

I have one now.
I was in my pyjamas.
No, I'm not lazy. I have an excellent reason for being in my pyjamas at 2pm. I have a Christmas party to go to tonight, and anything I put right now on is only going to get puked on anyway, so why generate more laundry than is necessary?

New Look

Guess how I'm voting this election?
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