Lost Decade

Posted: 03/02/2016 9:26:49 AM

If you're like me, since New Year’s, you were waiting desperately for Monday, January the 25th to roll around. Last week it finally happened, marking the return of the 42nd Parliament. I was going to go up there in person and line up at midnight so I could actually watch it live but instead I caught it on TV.

Now, since then, there have been seven Question Periods. I’m guessing you don't watch every day because, well, you have a life. It's far more likely you’ve set the PVR so you can binge a whole bunch of them on the weekend. You know, invite over a special friend, Question Period and chill.

Now I don't want to give away too much away but spoiler alert—this season is awful.

Remember Rona Ambrose? Last season she was Minster of Health, this season she's Leader of the Opposition. And remember when she got the job she said on her watch the Tories wouldn’t heckle and act like spoiled children. Turns out she meant the opposite. They’re worse now than they ever were.

And the plot lines this season—totally unbelievable. Like the Conservatives are now mad that the Liberals haven't legalized marijuana yet. That is the most ridiculous plot twist I have ever heard. Do they think we’re stupid? Rona, we remember last season, heck, we remember the past ten seasons. Your party has always said legalizing pot would mean the end of the world. Now you're upset because you can’t get your weed at Costco?

And what's with Tony Clement? Every time he opens his mouth he’s saying that governments have to be transparent. Who are these people fooling? A couple of seasons ago Tony took fifty million dollars earmarked for border security and secretly spent it on gazebos in Ontario cottage country. I'm sorry, his character talking about transparency just doesn't ring true.

And then other main characters from last season have been totally written out. According to the credits, Stephen Harper’s still in the cast. He has yet to utter a single line. Why are they still paying this guy?

Look, it's early in the season, granted I will still keep watching Question Period. And Rona, it’s okay to oppose. You are the Leader of the Opposition. But stop pretending like the past ten years didn't happen. Despite appearances, it's a democratic institution, not a soap opera; you just can't pretend the past decade, poof, was all a dream.


Keep It Together, Coderre

Posted: 27/01/2016 8:18:59 AM


So Denis Coderre, the mayor of Montreal, held a press conference last week. He made it abundantly clear that he’s against the Energy East pipeline. Now that pipeline, if built, will ship a million barrels of oil every single day from Alberta to an ice-free port in New Brunswick. Now let's be clear — a lot of people do not like Alberta oil. They hate the fact that Canada is in the oil business at all. They hate the fact that the world is addicted to oil and Canada is sitting on a whole bunch of it.

But Denis avoided that debate. Instead, he made it clear he wants to stop this pipeline because there is not enough in it for Montreal. There's not enough money in it for Quebec.

Now at the risk of sounding like someone who cares deeply about a national federation; Denis, try to wrap your head around this — this has nothing to do with Montreal. This has nothing to do with Quebec. This is about one part of Canada trying to get their natural resources to the world market. Now when Alberta sells their oil to the world, they make money. It's ugly but it’s true. But then, they take a bunch of that money and they put it in the transfer payment pot. And then that money is given, no strings attached, to provinces not making as much money.

Last year alone Quebec received 9.5 billion dollars. As they should. “Have provinces” transferring wealth to "have not provinces” so we all share the same standard of living. And why? Because we are a country; we are in this together. It is astoundingly decent. It is astoundingly Canadian.

So with all due respect to the Mayor of Montreal. Alberta has been paying their fair share for a very, very long time, and right now, today, they are hurting. We all need this thing. It is time for Provinces to start asking what's in it for Canada, not just what's in it for me?


Antisocial Etiquette

Posted: 20/01/2016 9:15:27 AM

Over the holidays a buddy of mine, we’ll say his name is Bob, he was mentioned in a major Canadian magazine. Well, it was their online edition. Why he was mentioned is irrelevant—let’s just say it was a slow news day.  But because he’s a buddy, I read the article. Then I started scrolling through the comments and sure enough at the top of page two someone posted, “Bob is a hypocrite, I hope he dies a painful death.” Nice.  

Now turns out Bob is not a hypocrite. He's just a guy who happens to be mentioned in a pretty boring article. Yet for some reason, some guy named Tunnelsnake87 thought it was okay to write and then publish a death threat.  And then for some other reason, it stayed there for days on a website owned by a major Canadian media company. And the reality is this doesn’t surprise us. 

If there’s an article online, it doesn’t matter what the subject is about, it will be followed by comments that are racist, sexist, hate filled and simultaneously riddled with spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. 

Look, I'm old enough to remember when the internet happened and the idea of a comment section after news articles, a virtual debate as it were, held a lot of promise.  No more. The only promise now is that if you read the comments you will despair for society. 

And even though these people are always anonymous, I know exactly who they are. So do you.  You can pick them out of a line up.  In fact, you know that famous graphic illustrating the evolution of man, you know the guy on the far right, the one standing up perfectly straight? The dude behind him, slightly bent over—that person. Turns out they have the internet and they’re ruining it for all of us. 

It is time for serious media organizations to stop the anonymous comments and shut down the online hate.  I’m sorry Tunnelsnake87—put your real name up, or shut up.


Open Arms Deal?

Posted: 13/01/2016 7:49:15 AM

I love it when political parties get along.  Like in the last federal election, the Tories, the Liberals, and the NDP, they all put their differences aside and they agreed that none of them, under any circumstances, would question why Canada is now selling arms to Saudi Arabia. It never became an election issue. And why should it? 

All we are doing is selling some high-tech armoured military vehicles to our good friend Saudi Arabia. They have a lot of money, they have a huge army and they are number one in the world when it comes to cutting off people's heads. It is literally the easiest place on Earth to get your head cut off. If you’re caught doing a magic trick they will cut off your head. I'm no fan of magic but what ever happened to old fashioned booing? 

Women are not allowed to drive there. If they’re caught driving they will be convicted and then beaten in public. I would say like a dog except of course in Canada we don't beat dogs in public.

So why are we in bed like this with Saudi Arabia? Well Stephen Harper brokered the deal. So his DNA is all over the contract. So of course that means it's top secret. And the only thing Justin Trudeau has said on the matter is that we are selling them some Jeeps. Really Justin? Jeeps?  Like Barbie used to drive a Jeep? Did Barbie's jeep have a machine gun turret? I gotta hand it to Justin. Usually Prime Ministers are on the job for a few years before they start talking down to Canadians. He's learning so fast.  

Look I understand, selling armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia mean Canadian jobs. And if I was Prime Minister I don’t know if I would have the courage to end the contract this big. But before we embark on any more adventures selling arms to despots. Can we agree to debate and discuss it in advance. Because unlike Saudi Arabia, Canada is a free country.


Open Session

Posted: 01/12/2015 11:22:22 PM

In just a matter of days the 42nd Parliament of Canada will begin. For 338 MPs this is not just the first day of school, this is like all the first days wrapped up in one. Think of the pressure. The mood levelers must be flying off the shelves in Ottawa. As they say in pharmaceutical circles, we moved enough anti-depressants to feed the entire Conservative caucus.

Stephen Harper is returning to the hill as a backbench MP. Now normally when prime ministers are defeated they resign, but no, Harper says he is going back and even says he will show up for work on occasion. Remember that one kids: if you're ever in a job interview, promise to show up for work on occasion.

One thing we do know about day one guaranteed: Tom Mulcair will be there front and centre. Well not so much front and centre as down the way and off to the side. Tom Mulcair is always fun to watch. Or you could close your eyes and smell the electrical fire in his head.

And then of course we have Justin Trudeau. To say that he was a disaster in Question Period is an understatement. That boy could not ask a question to save his life. But maybe he’ll be good at pretending to answer questions, which is basically what prime ministers do.

But whatever happens in this first week, we must hold our MPs to account. They all promised more civility and less partisanship. Now let's not aim for greatness because that won’t happen. But let's set the bar of decorum at an achievable height. Let’s aim for grade nine, we’ll settle for grade eight. And between you and I, anything above grade six is a win.