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Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Just what every modern fighting force needs 

I guess no one should really be surprised any more. Quick on the heels of allowing homosexuals in the military it's natural that you'd follow it with an affirmative action recruiting program:
The Royal Navy is to place advertisements for recruits in the Pink Paper as part of a new campaign to recruit homosexual sailors.

The move follows its decision to sign up to the Diversity Champions programme run by the equal rights charity Stonewall, the first time a branch of the armed forces has done so. [...]

The charity will advise on promoting role models, collecting data on sexual orientation and implementing homosexual-friendly relocation allowances, travel benefits and bereavement leave.

There are an estimated 2,100 homosexual personnel in the Navy and it is hoped the programme will encourage more to "come out".
One can only imagine their new hazing rituals.

(Via Occam's Carbuncle)

Monday, February 21, 2005

Central planning at work 

Whenever a centrally planned bureacracy goes to work to end shortages, the results are fairly predictable:
Quebec has been losing nearly half of its new general practitioners to other provinces since a government policy came into effect requiring them to start their careers in regions outside of Montreal.

The province had expected to recruit 216 GPs last year, but only 145 stayed on to practise in Quebec, according to the latest government figures. This means that 71 doctors who were trained in Quebec - many at McGill University - decided to start their careers elsewhere.

The trend has coincided with a policy designed to steer more doctors to remote regions like the North Shore and Gaspesie.

Those doctors who choose to stay in Montreal are docked 30 per cent of their pay. Before they can regain their full salary, they must first work for three years in an outlying region.
Gosh, you ensnare the best and brightest, the most valuable, coveted workers in society with regulations, quotas and miserable working conditions and they decide to take their skills and work elsewhere? Who could have anticipated that? Dr. Mark Roper, director of the division of primary care at the McGill University Health Centre, says "The law of unexpected consequences is taking place here." I'll be generous and assume he meant to say "unintended consequences", as this result can hardly be called unexpected. Who could be surprised that a doctor would leave the province rather than be sentenced to three years in Chibaugamau?

Sunday, February 20, 2005

See John blog 

I see John Robson is the latest columnist to join the 20th Century and create his own blog. This is excellent news, as John is one of my favourite columnists and I used to go buy an Ottawa Citizen on Fridays just to read his column.

Now we can get the benefit of his wit and insight and save the buck. And unlike other columnists it looks like he's doing more than just putting his columns online. We also get witty posts like this:
In a splendid opinion piece in Friday’s National Post (p. A14) Dr. Charles Shaver points out that through years of parsimony the Ontario government pays doctors only $17.30 for a basic office visit. With, as he also notes, a million people in Ontario already unable to find a family doctor, 20% of practising physicians nationwide being between 55 and 64 and 11% being 65 or older, it is time to reconsider the government philosophy that abuse and ration cuts will continue until morale improves.
And this:
Pseudo-conservative big-spending Alberta Premier Ralph Klein's latest inspiration, according to Friday's Globe and Mail (p. A5), is to raise his province's minimum wage from $5.90 an hour to $7.00. Like most such measures it will be counterproductive: Those whose labour is currently worth at least $5.90 an hour but not $7.00 to employers will now be relieved of the opportunity to work for a low wage but not of the need to do so. It is difficult to see how their situation will be improved by this development.
Welcome to blogging, and the blogroll, John.

Update: Andrew points out that John's wife Brigitte Pellerin, another excellent columnist on Quebec affairs has her own blog, too. One might think this would be an opportunity for co-blogging, but apparently not.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Fighting Obesity 

Now that all the great and the good are convinced of the virtues of the fight against obesity, I'm sure they'll be supportive of a private initiative that actually takes the condition seriously. After all, obesity is the hottest, politically correct public health concern of the day, so how could any right-thinking progressive object to any private measures that combat it?

On that note, I'm sure they all hope this is just the beginning of a trend in workplace public health measures:

On Monday, the flashy Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, known for its cleavage-baring booze servers, will start weighing all its "Borgata Babes" — and those who gain more than 7 percent will lose their jobs unless they lose the weight.

The new policy has infuriated women's groups and the waitress' union — but the hotel said it was merely advocating for its guests.

Of course the hotel really should dress up their justification in more self-righteous rhetoric for PR purposes.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

The new official flag of Trudeaupia 

From Right in Canada we find the new official flag of the Peoples Republic of Trudeaupia:



I think I'll have to order one.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Red Ensign roundup 

On this day, the fortieth anniversary of day the Red Ensign was replaced by the Liberal Party Logo Maple Leaf, Striving Against Opposition has raised the Red Ensign Standard. Go check it out.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Cultivating Addicts 

In Orwell's 1984 there's a character (whose name escapes me at the moment) that very bluntly talks about how once they control the language they control what people can think. Winston figures the guy will sooner or later be disappeared because he spells out the plans too bluntly.

I wonder if that may be Ken Dryden's fate, too. Any observer of the Liberal party knows they try to cultivate a constituency of people dependent on their handouts. Campaigning then becomes a matter of threatening their clientage that the evil Conservatives will come and take their entitlements away and utterly destroy your way of life because they hate you. East coast handouts, medicare for the elderly, artists, media companies, dairy farmers, natives, Bombardier, Ontario auto plants, Technology Partnerships, the new deal for cities - it's all a variation of the same story. Develop a large enough clientele that have arranged their affairs to be dependent on Liberal handouts and entitlements and you have a secure, even paranoid voting block that will excuse almost any egregrious behaviour.

So, via Bruce at Autonomous Source we find this creepy speech by Ken Dryden on cultivating parents who will become dependent on a federal daycare program. Here he describes its purpose:
To get them excited, to hook them, to get them involved, to get them to take on some of the load as well. And all the time, it is important to approach the development of this system as an "of course." It will happen. It is a matter of when, not if. Go on the offensive. Put the other guy on the defensive. You have earned the "of course," so use it.

We also need to make what we are doing as irreversible as possible. There will hard moments, moments when it will be much easier to go back than to go ahead. We need to make going back as painful as possible. With each step we all take in these next five years, it will be harder to go back. More spaces, higher quality, higher expectations and ambitions, a bigger and growing public appetite, building the pressure on each level of government, to reinforce the commitment implicit in building a system. We need to paint ourselves into a corner because it's a corner we want to be in and need to be in.
There you have the Liberal strategy as it can be applied to almost any problem in the country, which is essentially that of your local crack dealer. But usually they dress it up in self-congratulatory high-falutin rhetoric. This speech, by contrast, absolutely creeps me out. You can read the whole thing here, if you think you haven't had enough nightmares lately.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

A spectacle of stupidity 

So what does a former Chief of Staff in the Mulroney government do once the electorate sent that bunch of losers to their deserved oblivion? Well, after a stint as a tobacco lobbyist Norman Spector eventually descends to engaging in insulting, trolling behaviour that ought to embarrass and adolescent. The most immature, idiotic, desparate act of an adolescent troll is to throw around insults under a variety of names to provide the illusion others joining in on his side.

Norman Spector, Globe and Mail columnist, former ambassador to Israel. Now accusing a fellow Shotgun blogger of being a "White bigot" under a fake name. Honestly, just how pathetic is that?

I guess if an ex-tobacco lobbyist can possibly experience humiliation he ought to be feeling a little twinge of it now.

And this guy thinks he is in a position to tell bloggers what they should be blogging about, after turning the Shotgun into his personal trolling ground? I have a suggestion for Canadian bloggers, too. Don't make an utter ass of yourself with undignified idiocy like this.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Soft power at work 

There are certainly few things more irritating than having an effete liberal throw a hissy fit, no one is really afraid of it. It's an annoying and rather distasteful sight, sure, but it's nothing anyone would actually be afraid of. So once Canada has unilaterly disarmed and decided that the only thing terrorist-supporting countries really need is a little hug, the reaction from Hezbollah-supporting countries like Lebanon and Syria is fairly predictable:
A news conference with Lebanese Foreign Minister Mahmoud Hammoud came crashing to a halt minutes after it began when Mr. Pettigrew said that Hezbollah, which is based in the south of Lebanon, needs to recognize that "violence is not the way to proceed," and must give Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas a chance to succeed in his efforts to make a deal with Israel. [...]

Mr. Pettigrew was answering the first question lobbed his way by reporters, and there would not be another one. As soon as he finished his answer, Mr. Hammoud stepped to the centre of the podium the two men had been sharing, forcing Mr. Pettigrew to back away from the microphone.

Without taking any questions, Mr. Hammoud spun on his heel and returned to his office, leaving Mr. Pettigrew to head for his car while aides and Canadian embassy staff exchanged bewildered looks.
Gosh, he didn't even get to lecture them on their need to respect fundamental human rights by allowing homosexual marriages. Of course Mr. Hammoud knows there are no consequences to snubbing a Canadian foreign minister anymore, so we should expect these stunts as a logical consequence of "soft power" in action.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Reason #8,958 why unions have outlived their usefulness 

Via Jason Hayes, we find this inspiring story of the downtrodden working class bravely fighting back against capitalist exploitation:
THE union that pioneered extra time off work for women suffering painful periods yesterday argued it was time menstrual leave became common in Australian workplaces.

The National Tertiary Education Union was the first to negotiate an extra 12 paid days off a year for women at four universities.

Eight years later the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union has lodged a log of claims with car manufacturer Toyota including menstrual leave.
I wonder if it was a demand something like this that finally pushed the Saguenay Wal-Mart into oblivion.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Tolerance of corruption 

Lightly reported in the English media, after being disgraced in France due to a corruption charge, former French Prime Minister Alain Juppé has been invited to teach in Quebec. At ENAP, the National School of Public Administration.

You can't make this stuff up.

So, I find it not very surprising that Chrétien treats an inquiry into corruption with utter contempt and stages a publicity stunt with golf balls. In healthy democracies the media play some role digging into this sleaze and holding those responsible accountable, but in Canada a juvenile stunt is all it takes to generate fawning, boot-licking coverage.

For the record, no one cares that the Prime Minister handed out golf balls and received similar ones from other foreign leaders. Other world leaders didn't buy their golf balls from advertising agencies who took massive commissions, nor do they try to pass off such purchases in secret accounts as some kind of expense related to national unity.

But with the exception of Andrew Coyne at the National Post, it appears the idea that Lib-friendly advertising agencies are even taking a cut on purchases of golf balls is just one big joke to the nation's media. I'd say it's this implicit tolerance for corruption that explains why there's so much of it in Ottawa.

Goal based governing 

It's important for governments to set goals and measure them. Setting a goal for a balanced budget, for example, is good. Or setting a target debt-to-GDP ratio.

But how do you like your government setting this as a target?
the Liberals say they want "to increase by 20 per cent the number of British Columbians who eat the recommended daily level of fruit and vegetables."
They will presumably be putting up this dietary advice in their heroin injection sites. Get your government-supplied heroin and nagging about eating your vegetables all in one place.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Privatize the SAQ 

It's great to find another conservative in Quebec. Patrick at Tout le monde en parle is parleying the idea of privatizing the liquor stores in Quebec. I couldn't agree more.

The strange thing is we can buy beer and wine in private stores, but not liquor. It is truly the most incomprehensible monopoly.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Saudi man rode a bicycle 

And, strangely enough, this is news:
“Satan’s horse” is not a myth. As narrated by an elderly Saudi, it is the name local residents of Buraidah, Al-Qasim, used to call a bicycle some 47 years ago at a time when new inventions were unacceptable to the majority of people there and ignorance prevailed.
Ah, so this was back at time when ignorance prevailed. That explains it.
“The commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice — locally known as the Mutawaa and known then as the “Nuwwab” — banned people from riding bicycles. The permission I received from them was a statement written on one of their official documents saying that, ‘since Ali Al-Mirdasi needs to ride his cycle from Khab Algabr to school, we have given him permission to ride his cycle from that area to his school.’ And it had their official stamp,” he said.
Cool. An official stamp giving permission to ride a bicycle. I've never had one of those. Though I understand I may soon be in trouble if I venture into Ontario without a helmet, where I expect their nanny state mutawaa will be dishing out similar treatment.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Eco-colonialism 

There is no other way to put this, but western environmentalists are deliberately and knowingly killing Africans to satisfy their chemophobic fantasies:
The European Union on Wednesday warned Uganda that its exports to Europe may suffer if it goes ahead with plans to use the controversial pesticide DDT to fight malaria. [...]

The chief of the EU mission in Uganda, Sigurd Illing, said there could be dire consequences for outgoing trade with Europe -- which accounts for more than 30 percent of Uganda's total exports -- if DDT was detected in such goods.
"We support the fight against malaria ... but we wanted to make a general warning that all considerations should be made before the spraying," she told AFP by phone.

The Ugandan government has indicated it may soon begin spraying of DDT in people's homes to reduce the infection rate of malaria which now kills an estimated 70,000 people, mainly children under five, a year.

The country's health ministry is backing the use of DDT, a highly effective mosquito killer, in a bid to reduce the whopping 347 million dollars per year that Uganda spends on treating patients with malaria.

Currently 40 percent of all outpatient care in the country is devoted to malaria and related illnesses, according to the ministry.

But environmentalists have loudly protested the move, noting that DDT, which has had a devastating effect on wildlife, particularly birds and fish, can remain in the soil for 10 to 15 years after its application.
Spraying the inside of houses saves lives and has no effect on wildlife or leave residues on agricultural exports. The EU is essentially saying Uganda should accept 70,000 deaths a year as a cost of continuing to export to Europe.

Banning DDT in the west after it's no longer needed to fight malaria is one thing, but this sacrifice of African lives in unconscionable.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Protests in Iraq 

Friends of democracy in Iraq are reporting protests going on in the district of Al Hamadaniyah and surrounding villages due to failure to get election supplies delivered in time, depriving an estimated 150 thousand people of their right to vote.

While it's unfortunate that there were these sorts of glitches in the election, I find even this reaction a very hopeful sign. They didn't just shrug it off with a passive cynicism, they are taking to the streets in peaceful protest to demand their right to vote and there are bloggers reporting the story. I hope they find an acceptable solution to the situation without creating an undue risk of fraud.

I think we are witnessing truly extraordinary times in that region. There will undoubtedly be a great deal of turmoil, but I am more optimistic than I've been since the day Saddam's statue was toppled.

Mercredi des Cendres 

Here in Quebec we will soon be observing Mercredi des Cendres, known elsewhere as Ash Wednesday. I don't wish my blog to be a bible-thumping one, but this is one occasion where I thought a small reflection on faith in a modern age would be appropriate.

But as I pondered it a little, I came across this wonderful post by Chris Taylor which expresses so many thoughts better I ever could. While the post is nominally about same sex marriage, it expresses a philosophy of life that is so much wider. I simply insist you read it all, but here are a couple of excerpts:
I am not in the least worried about immorality overrunning the ramparts of Christendom. The Christian faith does not, as I am sure Mr. Brooks is aware, reduce one to the state of a metaphysical clean-freak, feverishly scrubbing away every speck of immorality and vice that invades one's life, environs and society. Christianity is above all things the restoration of a relationship; the reconciliation of ordinary men and women with an awesome, ineffable God.
Indeed. I think one thing I find in common with so many Christians I respect is a profound sense of humility. We are but ordinary men and women and will need grace and forgiveness in our lives.

I think at least some of the Bush-hatred running amok these days comes from utter incomprehension of his role of faith in life, best summed up by this quote:
"I believe in a God who calls us not to judge our neighbors, but to love them. I believe in grace because I've seen it and peace because I've felt it, in forgiveness because I needed it."
If you listen to those words and understand these are words that guide his conduct rather than being some soundbite that played well in a focus group it would make it a lot harder to cling to the weirder paranoid fantasies of the left and isolationist right.

And this verse that contains what Chris calls a Very Big Truth:
Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.

-- 1 Thessalonians IV 11-12, NIV
There is so much wisdom packed into that verse one could write a book, or at least fill an essay. What a profound recipe for social peace, to mind your own business and not be dependent on anybody. So many of our social tensions and ills derive from people unable to mind their own business or are existing in a state of dependence. These days your are accused of being a greedy selfish capitalist exploiter if you advocate social policies that attempt to minimize dependence. And how much of the crushing nanny state could have been avoided if more people had the ambition of a quiet life and could restrain themselves to mind their own business?

Certainly a society that has abandoned its faith has abandoned so much more than just that.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Afghanistan on humanitarian mission 

Not long ago the Taliban were dragging people into soccer stadiums for public executions and blowing up Buddhist statues. And now, they're sending a medical relief team to Indonesia, with the team led by a woman in uniform, no less. Avary has some other great pictures, too.

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