7/31/2007

Public Sector Employees

According to this report at CTV, Canada's public servants earn an average salary far higher than those in the private sector
I, for one, am not really surprised. With a body like CUPE on their side, does anyone expect anything else?
The Treasury Board of Canada posted the 800-page study on its website last week.
In 2002-2003, the average salary of workers in the core public service was $53,000, increasing to $73,400 when factoring in benefits.
"For me to make that amount of money, I would have to work twice as much time," tradesman Tim Cogswell told CTV News.
In the private sector, the average salary was $38,885...

That is a huge wage gap. In my opinion, such a gap is unjustifiable. In another part of the article, public servants argue that they deserve the higher wages and benefits due to the stress of their jobs. Apparently, public servants suffer more harassment and work-related stress. That may be. However, public servants are also notoriously lazy, slow and inefficient. They are secure in their jobs as even the poorest performance does not result in job loss, as it would in the private sector.
By 2003, the number of public servants had bounced back to 235,000. The total number of people employed by the government increased to 351,000, excluding Crown corporations and federal business enterprises, at a cost of $25 billion per year...
The study also shows that civil servants took a total of 7.74 million days of leave in 2002-2003. On average, each employee took:
* 17.3 days for vacations
* 8.3 days for sick leave
* 1.6 days for family-related leave
"I think the whole idea that public servants are somehow overworked is just a farce," said John Williamson of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation...

No kidding. That's a lot of vacation time.
The report makes 77 recommendations, focusing on how Ottawa compensates its employees and deals with unions. In particular, the study says public servants should not be quick to strike for better wage conditions.
"Exceptional bargaining strength derived from the privilege of serving the public should not justify going beyond what is reasonably comparable in equivalent circumstances in the private sector," the report states. "The time has come to search with determination for better ways to settle disputes fairly, without recourse to the strike weapon.

Pretty much. CUPE strikes at the drop of a hat.
"Those of us who are paying the freight for this very well-off public service are going to be so pinched that we're not going to provide for our own retirement," said Catherine Swift of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

Agreed.
Although, I think I would go one step further and say that a lot of us aren't providing for our retirement now. We just can't afford it, and not all of us get pensions... unlike the public sector workers.

7/23/2007

Changing Prostitution Laws

Interesting article at Canada.com. There are always different opinions on how to tackle something like prostitution.
The Conservative government has turned aside calls from Liberals and New Democrats, as well as its own MPs, to rewrite federal criminal laws in order to shift the burden of punishment away from prostitutes and onto their customers and pimps.

The problem with shifting all of the burden away from prostitutes is that it implies they are always the innocent party. Certainly, prostitutes are significantly more likely to face exploitation than their pimps or customers. It would be a mistake however to assume that they are always being exploited.
Ontario New Democrat Irene Mathyssen also accused the government of not taking the problem of human trafficking seriously enough. In particular, she said, recently proposed legislation to limit the number of women who can come into the country to work in strip clubs was more about optics than substance, given that the practice had already all but disappeared under the former Liberal government.

All but disappeared? What statistics was she looking at? Where was she when Sgro was busted? Under a rock?
But Tory MP Joy Smith said opposition MPs should not rush to judgment. She insisted she is not giving up on getting the government to agree to target johns and pimps instead of prostitutes.

Again, not to be repetitive, but I think the words "instead of" indicate a wrong approach to the problem. Pimps and johns should receive tougher sentencing, of that there can be no doubt. But it would be a mistake to assume prostitutes are always innocent.
The committee had also wanted the criminal law amended so as to make purchasing a sexual service a criminal offence, and to repeal provisions that outlaw the act of soliciting by prostitutes and that make it illegal for them to be found in a bawdy house.

I agree with making it illegal to purchase a sexual service. That is unquestionably a step in the right direction. Repealing laws that make it illegal to solicit isn't necessarily the way to go however.
Although Nicholson did not respond directly to the call for revamped federal prostitution laws, he did defend the existing law.
"The Criminal Code of Canada provides a comprehensive set of tools to ensure that traffickers are held accountable," the government's response statement said.

Nicholson is wrong. Our current laws are totally inadequate. That is why the situation is as bad as it is.
I think we need tougher sentences for johns and pimps. Instead of lightening the sentences for prostitutes, I think we should develop a comprehensive program to help them get out of the trade. The program should include counselling, a program to help them get off any drugs if needed, a halfway house for them to live while they get cleaned up, and an employment service. The convicted prostitute should be able to avoid a sentence if she agrees to go through this program and change her life.
No mercy for the scum that exploit people though.

7/21/2007

With Respect to Free Dominion

Previous post on Free Domionion

The complaint against Free Dominion was filed by Marie-Line Gentes. The subject of the complaint is Bill Whatcott. As you may be aware, Mr. Whattcott has been the target of a previous Human Rights complaint, with regards to his views on homosexuals. The complaint itself appears to surround some alleged anti-Muslim comments made at the Free Dominion forum. Ms. Gentes is not a Muslim herself, but feels her rights were violated by whatever comments may have been made.
In my opinion, the complaint is most likely frivolous. Lodging a Human Rights complaint against an Internet forum is not the best use of ones time, unless the forum is a clear vehicle for racism, genuine hate speech or terrorism. Free Dominion is not such a vehicle.
However, I do have to make a comment on the forum at Free Dominion. It's not the place for me. It's too exciting, and I don't mean that in a good way. I tried to follow the thread about the complaint. At the time of writing, there were well over 60 pages (and these were generated in only 3 days) and most of it was hysterical hand waving and arm flapping. Anyone who suggested that the group should remain calm and wait to see what the charges actually were was immediately pounced on and denounced as some sort of vile lefty stooge.
I can only call such behaviour exceedingly unwise, especially in light of the fact that the majority of members claim to be professing Christians. If the complaint lodged against Free Dominion comes to something, then filling the forum with insults regarding the Canadian Human Rights Commission does you no favours. Indeed, it could actually injure your cause. If you are innocent, then act innocent. Don't immediately dive into the gutter of hysterical speculation and ad hominem. The Bible has a lot to say about how and when we should speak. Proverbs 13:3 comes to mind He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin. Proverbs 10:19 warns that When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise. Proverbs 17: 27, 28 says A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a man of understanding is even-tempered. Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue. Proverbs 21:23 says 23 He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity. Proverbs 29:20 has similar words: Do you see a man who speaks in haste? There is more hope for a fool than for him.

Showing up late for a Party

So, a bunch of the people I know at church are on Facebook.
Man, where have I been? Under a rock?
We really need a website for our church. If you go to my church and are reading this, vote for us! We've been trying to get the job for some time now.

PS: That article I mentioned is seeming even more ridiculous.

7/20/2007

My one Facebook Complaint

Aside from the annoying way it seems to be handling (or rather, not handling) blog feeds...
The details Facebook gives for describing friends are totally inadequate. There are so many categories I want to use. There should at least be a slot for prof and religious affiliation. The "Through a friend" option should not limit you to Facebook friends only. They should have provided some sort of generic "other" box, so people could add other categories not thought of.

Test Post

This is a test post. I want to see if it will show up in my Facebook notes, like it's supposed to.

Facebook

So, my husband and I are on Facebook.
Interesting.
I've been playing around with it, finally figured out how to add my blog feed to my profile. I don't really love the Events calendar though. There's no way to add a generic event (like a birthday or anniversary) without providing a lot of extra information. At least, if there is, I haven't figured it out yet.
With all the apps one can install, a profile can become cluttered fairly quickly. It would be nice if there were more ways of organizing information. I'd also love it if the profile and home page were skinnable.
Facebook is the ultimate online referral service (I know a friend of a friend who knows... etc). The more people you know, or who know you, the more likely you are to be a real person, the more people who don't know you or have never met you can trust you. In fact, Facebook seems to be making a concerted effort to address the issues of trust online.
Recall my annoyance with a certain article printed in the Christian Renewal some time ago. Having played around with Facebook, I can confidently say that nearly everything in that article was wrong.
If I were still in school, Facebook would make a great topic for a research paper.

7/19/2007

Free Dominion Under Attack

For more information:
http://www.freedominion.ca/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=84457

The conservative website Free Dominion has just been slapped with a Human Rights complaint. No indication has been given as to the nature of the complaint.

7/11/2007

An Open Letter to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI

With regards to your recent affirmation that Protestant churches cannot be called "Churches" in the proper sense I can only say that neither I nor any other Protestant I know are surprised. This position of the Roman Catholic Church has come to be expected. After stubbornly dwelling in doctrinal error for more than five hundred years, no one expects change overnight.
As you well know, the word Church is used to describe both the universal Body of Christ, His universal Bride and also the individual Christian congregations of which these are composed. (Matthew 16:18, Acts 14:23, Acts 20:28, I Corinthians 11: 16-22, Ephesians 5:23-32). By this definition then, all those who are Christians are consequently a part of the universal Church and the Bride. It is also incumbent upon all Christians to join a local congregation and so enjoy the spiritual fellowship of their fellow believers.
Christians are defined as those who follow Christ. The Bible commands us to repent, believe, be baptised and bear spiritual fruits (Matthew 7: 15-20, Acts 16:30-34, Galatians 5:22). Indeed, should a group of individuals who call themselves Christians not conform to this definition, one would be well within their rights to question the authenticity of their faith. Such individuals would not be Christians, neither would they belong to the Church universal. They would reasonably be classified as a cult.
However, this was not the reason given. According to your own words, Protestants "do not enjoy apostolic succession in the sacrament of Orders, and are, therefore, deprived of a constitutive element of the Church," and that "these ecclesial Communities which, specifically because of the absence of the sacramental priesthood, have not preserved the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic Mystery." From this I understand that you believe we are not members of the Church, and by extension not Christians, due to the fact that our churches are not run by Catholic priests. Since the Eucharist, or Communion, is not administered to us by members ordained through the Roman Catholic Church we are not members of the Church, and by extension not Christians.
Surely you must be aware that this is a grievous error on your part. Such an opinion is never enjoined in Scripture. While it is true that only the Twelve Apostles were present at the Last Supper, it is unequivocally not true that these Twelve were the only ones allowed to administer communion. Indeed, early communion bore almost no resemblance to what is currently practiced even in a Protestant church. In early church history, communion more closely resembled a Jewish seder. Although it was certainly the focal point of the meal, there was no administration of bread and wine as either of our churches currently perform it. This was a later innovation, likely developed to both conserve food and to facilitate the incorporation of communion into weekly services.
Furthermore, the claim that the priesthood of the Roman Catholic church is based on Apostolic Succession is supported neither by history nor Scripture. Since you have practiced a celibate lifestyle for many hundreds of years, no priest ever leaves an heir neither is he descended from a previous priest. You therefore cannot claim to succeed the Apostles through blood. Since there are significantly more than twelve priests in the world, you also cannot claim that your succession is passed on by proxy. How can you then claim that the Roman Catholic Church fulfills the requirements for a genuine Communion while Protestant churches do not?
I am deeply sorry for your lack of understanding as to the true nature of what it takes to be a Christian, and therefore a member of the Church. Your belief in the supremacy of the Roman Catholic Church is depriving you of the true Communion of the Saints. Belief in ones' own superiority is pride, a sin. You have not judged with the measuring stick given you in the Bible. Instead, the Roman Catholic Church uses itself as the standard by which all Christianity is to be measured. This is dangerous. Your edicts are not inherently right or true just because they come from you. There is a Higher Standard to which you must conform.

Opinions in Iran

(h/t Dr. Roy)
This poll was conducted by Terror Free Tomorrow on the opinions in Iran.
These are... findings of the first uncensored public opinion survey of Iran since President Ahmadinejad took office. The survey was conducted... from June 5 to June 18, 2007, with 1,000 interviews covering all 30 provinces of Iran (and a margin of error of 3.1%). The last poll to ask similar controversial questions was conducted in September 2003 by Abbas Abdi inside Iran. He was imprisoned as a result.

Developing nuclear weapons was seen as a very important priority by only 29% of Iranians.
88% of Iranians considered improving the Iranian economy a very important priority.
80% of Iranians favor Iran offering full international nuclear inspections and a guarantee not to develop or possess nuclear weapons in return for outside aid.
70% of Iranians also favor normal relations and trade with the U.S.
a majority of Iranians even favor recognizing Israel and Palestine as independent states, ending Iranian support for any armed groups inside Iraq, and giving full transparency by Iran to the U.S. to ensure there are no Iranian endeavors to develop nuclear weapons.
61% of Iranians were willing to tell our pollsters -- over the phone no less -- that they oppose the current Iranian system of government, in which the supreme leader rules according to religious principles and cannot be chosen or replaced by direct vote of the people.
79% of Iranians support a democratic system instead, in which the supreme leader, along with all leaders, can be chosen and replaced by a free and direct vote of the people.
Only 11% of Iranians said they would strongly oppose having a political system in which all of their leaders, including the supreme leader, are chosen by popular election.
Iranians across all demographic groups oppose the unelected rule of the supreme leader in favor of electing all their leaders. While these views run stronger in Tehran, they are also held across all provinces of Iran, and in both urban and rural areas.
Most Iranians oppose their regime and want normal relations with the West...
Most Iranians see the economy as the major issue. They want democracy and freedom.


In light of the riots over gas rationing, I am not overly surprised by the results of this poll. In fact, I would not be surprised if this was the opinion held by most Middle Eastern countries. There is a significant gap between the ruling elite and the average citizen. The problem, of course, is that the average citizen either does not have or feels they do not have the power to effect change.
The average Iranian citizen both wants and needs empowerment; I am just not sure what form that empowerment should take. I doubt very much that there is a western military solution to this problem. The Iranian people need assistance in freeing themselves from the tyrannical regime that rules them. Sending in an army from the outside however, be it a NATO or UN force, would likely not do any good.

7/06/2007

So True



Some scramble for the latest gadget. Others are left scrambling for food.

Practical Environmentalism

Interesting story at Canada.com.
STONELEIGH, Warwickshire (Reuters) - McDonald's said on Monday it is to convert its British delivery fleet to run on biodiesel made largely from its own recycled cooking oil.
Matthew Howe, senior vice president with McDonald's UK, said the fast food restaurant should eventually be able to replace the six million litres of diesel its fleet used last year with cooking oil from its 1,200 restaurants in Britain.
"We may even have a little bit of excess (biodiesel) capacity we can sell into the market," he told Reuters.
McDonald's launched its rollout on Monday with half of its 45-strong fleet based in Basingstoke and in about 12 months would convert all its 155 delivery trucks to run on the green fuel...
The biodiesel will initially be made up of 85 percent used cooking oil collected from around 900 McDonald's restaurants and 15 percent from pure rapeseed oil.
"As we get better at the refinement we will be able to remove virgin rape (oil) from the process," Howe said.
Howe said the company keeps its used cooking oil apart from other supplies.
"We have ensured we don't have any other oils. A lot of other cooking oils that are collected are very contaminated," he said, noting animal fats can cause refining difficulties...
Seed companies have expressed concerns that the growth of demand for rapeseed oil from the biofuels sector was hampering the expansion of healthier but sometimes lower yielding high oleic varieties.
By using the fuel, McDonald's will save 1,675 tonnes of carbon per year, the company said.

If a company wants to reduce its carbon footprint, then as far as I am concerned this is a very practical way to do it. Simply find a way to recycle your waste. Not everything needs to be thrown out.
What's important to note is that no one is forcing McDonald's to do this. There's no law. They took the initiative themselves. I would like to see more food companies follow McDonald's lead if they can.

Parenting 101

The following story is for the people who commented here. It is for those who accused me of being a bad parent. It is especially for those who think you can rationalize with a child under two.

Last night I was bathing my kids. I took my son out of the tub first and went to dry him off. As is the habit of many three month old males, he peed all over himself and the wall.
So much for his bath.
I took him back to the bathroom, intending to rebathe him.
My daughter abruptly started screaming. I thought perhaps she had hurt herself or had dropped something. I entered the bathroom to find her standing up in the tub, panicking, and pointing at the water. She was babbling incoherently, wide eyed and obviously afraid of something. So I looked in the tub.
She had pooped.
Great.
I told her it was just a poop, that everything was fine. She would have none of it. Where had it come from? What was it doing there? Would it get her? As far as she was concerned, that poop appeared on its own, out of nowhere. She had no idea that it came from her own butt. In fact, she was so afraid of her own poop, she didn't want me to leave the room. Even after I took her out of the tub, it still took me a good five minutes to calm her down. She was not calm until after she was dried, dressed, the offending poop was disposed of and the tub was clean.
As for me, I was all but collapsed with laughter.
For those that think you can rationalize with an individual who is scared of their own crap, good luck to you.

7/05/2007

Miiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiini Wheats Wheats Wheats



My little story takes place at a tropical villa
I fell in love with a flavour, yes it was vanilla
Miiiiiiiiiiiiini wheats wheats wheats
I wanted vanilla for so long
Mini wheats wheats wheats
It's high in fiber you can’t go wrong
Vanilla flavour mixed with wheat
Put 'em together it can't be beat
Vanilla flavour mixed with wheat
Tastes so good, what a treat.
New Vanilla Flavoured Mini Wheats Cereal
Tastes so good good good.

(Because if I have to suffer with this tune in my head, then so do all of you...)

7/04/2007

Final Comments on The Great Canadian Wishlist

The top ten wishes were:

1. Abolish Abortion in Canada: 9543 supporters
2. I wish that Canada would remain pro-choice: 8008 supporters
3. For a spiritual revival in our nation: 4508 supporters
4. Restore the Traditional Definition of Marriage: 4485 supporters
5. I wish tuition fees would be either lowered or eliminated: 3388 supporters
6. It's time for drastic measures to save our environment: 3357 supporters
7. Canada should keep Abortions and Gay Marriage Legal: 2308 supporters
8. A Canada where no one must choose between paying rent and their medication: 1941 supporters
9. Proportional Representation: 1810 supporters
10. Greener Canada: 1301 supporters

Only a few things need to be said about the CBC's Facebook experiment. Three of the top five wishes were religiously motivated. It looks like there is a remnant in Canada after all (1 Kings 19:18).
Wishes 2 and 7 are not wishes of themselves, but counter-wishes. They were created only after someone wished against gay marriage and abortion. These counter-wishes only serve to highlight the true wishes, the originals.
With regards to abortion, as pointed out by John Pacheco, there is an error in the CBC's coverage. Environics conducted this poll in October of 2006. This poll suggests that 54% of Canadians do not support abortion beyond the first trimester.
There is no end of vitriol coming from the pro-choice side. I am not going to link to it here, but if you need an example go to Choice-Joyce's blog. It's interesting that she considers the CBC's contest "stupid." This is apparently the real reason for the lack of action by pro-choicers. Presumably, they didn't want to sully themselves.
Given the results, I am not surprised that the CBC limited their coverage of the contest. No doubt the powers-that-be feel the contest was a PR disaster. This is where the Internet and YouTube come in handy. It doesn't matter when the footage was actually aired. People will be able to watch it whenever they want for a long time.

7/03/2007

CBC's Great Canadian Wishlist Coverage

Aired on Friday:


Aired on Sunday:


The Wishlist also received some coverage on CBC Radio.
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