Monthly Archives: May 2009

Around the House (Last Place in the Spelling Bee Edition)

Sorry for the delays between posts. I’ve been devoting much of my free time to the job hunt.

  • The fight over EI continues in the House of Commons. As far as I can understand it, the Liberals, NDP, and Bloc Quebecois want to eliminate regional differences in EI eligibility, and the Tories don’t. As it currently stands, EI eligibility is different in each part of the country, with those living in regions with higher unemployment able to collect after as little as 420 hours of work a year.  However,  some of those regions may be terribly gerrymandered, as New Brunswick’s are. The reason for this is so people who work in areas of high unemployment aren’t penalized for the lack of work in their area. Eliminating regional differences temporarily, as Iggy’s proposing, makes some degree of sense considering unemployment’s up everywhere, but especially in places like Alberta that were booming before the economic clusterf**k. It would likely be far too expensive to eliminate these differences permanently, however, as the NDP and BQ are proposing. Methinks they are pandering to their base. That said, there may be an election yet over EI.
  • If Rodney MacDonald had any hope of winning the Nova Scotia election, he needed only good news stories about his PCs between now and election day and maybe rescue a few kittens from trees or something.  He did not need this little nugget coming out. As someone running on his record as premier (which isn’t exactly blemish free – see the last three years), this makes him look like a premier willing to sacrifice long-term financial health for short-term political gain – not the kind of person Nova Scotia deserves as a premier.
  • While unpolitical, a quick shout out to the Kennebecasis Valley High School Reach for the Top team. This past weekend, they were in Toronto representing New Brunswick at the National Championships, where they didn’t disappoint. They went 11-1 in the round robin, beating powerful opposition from across Canada. After beating Harry Ainley Composite High of Edmonton in the quarterfinals and edging Cobequid Educational Centre of Truro by 20 points in the semis, KV fell to Ontario champs London Central in the final. I played four years of “Reach” for KV, went to two National Finals, and sat in a couple of practices against this year’s squad and I’m very proud of what they accomplished. Going 53-2 for a season is something to brag about. The team is Mike Forestell (captain), Josh Koncovy, Nick Manuel, Alexander Maxan, Stephen Spence, and coach Jason Thorne.
  • Quote:

“Long before the search for a Trauma Director began, I was asked to attend a meeting with our sitting Minister of Health, Michael Murphy. He was relatively new to the position, and I was admittedly passionate about the subject of trauma and the needs of this Province. Today, I offer to Minister Murphy an apology if, for whatever reason, I made a less-than-favourable impression. The feedback has been undeniably negative. In my defence, we only met the one time, and I was operating under the impression that my input was welcome.”

– Dr. Andrew Trenholme, Medical/Surgical Director of Trauma at the Atlantic Health Sciences Centre, in a column in Saturday’s Telegraph Journal. Trenhome was explaining his withdrawal from consideration last week for the job of New Brunswick Trauma Coordinator. More on this topic (and, I guess, health care in general) later this week.

  • In focus, spot the mistake on this souvenir bobble-head offered last weekend:Then again, what do you expect from a team that can’t even spell its own name right?
  • Wednesday, expect a post on that exciting topic of New Brunswick health care, with a follow-up Wednesday night or Thursday profiling the British expenses scandal. Before the end of the week, I spill what little I know about the Nova Scotia election.

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Around the House (Ayn Rand is Sexy? edition)

  • “Around the House” will be a regular feature on the blog, generally serving as a catch-all for all sorts of random stories, unorganized thoughts, and items that don’t quite merit a full post. It’ll run on weekdays at least every other day. I promise these blog posts will become more regular once I settle down and get a paying job.
  • As some of you may be aware, Nova Scotia is having an election. The latest polling numbers do not look good for the governing Tories. If an election were held today, far from forming government again, Rodney MacDonald’s PCs would be fighting for official opposition status with the Liberals, a practical non-entity in Nova Scotia politics since 1999. MacDonald’s government has been foundering in the polls since its election in 2006 over a number of serious cabinet gaffes and has lost two points since March. Darrel Dexter seems on pace to form Atlantic Canada’s first NDP government, albeit a minority one. More on the Nova Scotia election this weekend.
  • The abortion debate, like a bad movie franchise, is back in New Brunswick with another sequel. Last week, Health Minister Mike Murphy told an anti-abortion rally that he was “not entirely” comfortable enforcing abortion laws, saying he believed life began at conception. Those laws, which only have Medicare (read: the taxpayer) cover the cost of a hospital abortion if two doctors deem it “medically necessary” will likely be challenged in court soon by Dr. Henry Morgentaler after being granted standing on the matter by the Court of Appeal. Now, the province will want to take its argument, that only a challenge from a woman treated at Morgentaler’s clinic is acceptable, to the Supreme Court, but I doubt they’d even hear the case. They dealt with this issue of a doctor’s standing in abortion cases during Morgentaler’s lengthy challenge of federal abortion laws in the 1980s.
  • Buried deep in the financial pages this week are the latest inflation figures. While I, like most people, find these stats drier than a pub with no beer, they paint a very real and harsh picture for New Brunswick. Our inflation rate dropped 0.5% in the last month and, while it’s one of the smallest drops in the nation, it puts our inflation rate at -0.3%. Economists call this deflation – in plain English, it’s when demand falls below supply. Less demand generally mean bad things for employers and, by extension, employees. With falling lobster prices, an ever-shrinking forestry industry, and doubt starting to develop over the Saint John energy hub (supposedly New Brunswick’s economic savior), stay tuned.
  • Quote:

“This is one of those stories, Sandi, that it doesn’t matter what we say on this show… nothing can be as funny as somebody claiming the cost of cleaning their moat.”- Fred MacAuley, Scottish comedian, talking about the British Parliamentary expenses scandal on The News Quiz, BBC Radio 4, 15 May 2009.  The scandal involves MPs of most parties exploiting loopholes in expenses rules for personal property, such as home renovation and garden fertilizer to a duck island and, yes, a moat cleaning. Speaker of the House Michael Martin has announced his intention to resign next month over his handling of the issue. I’ll have more on this over the weekend.

  • In Focus:  Tim Andrews, former head of Australia’s Young Liberals, has gotten him and his party in hot water this week over a number of racy photos devised to attract young men to the party. Apparently, Aussies are turned on by Atlas Shrugged.

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The B.C. Election

Polls have just closed, but I think Gordon Campbell’s Liberals will soon be re-elected for a third term in government. This has less to do with the anything Campbell did (his most notable moment of the campaign was a series of patronizing, misogynistic comments during the debate, hardly inspiring to voters) and everything to do with Carole James’s campaign for the NDP.

Last year, Campbell introduced a carbon tax in B.C., and it predictably went over like a very wet balloon. Uproar against it was so strong that the Graham government here in N.B. discreetly shelved its plans for a carbon tax. James, sensing a chance to earn some easy votes, quickly declared that the NDP would abolish the tax. This pissed off the environmental wing of the party, but support from the mostly rural carbon tax opponents seemed to counteract that in the polls.

Then, the economic shitshow happened and gas prices fell.

Suddenly, the carbon tax wasn’t such a big deal for voters, and its opponents mainly deserted the NDP. The environmental vote, however, stayed with the Green Party and the Liberals.  As a result, far from forming government, the NDP will form a smaller opposition. My projection, based on examination of polls and the swing, has the Liberals at 53 seats and the NDP at 32. In spite of growing popular support, the Greens won’t be able to collect enough support in any one riding to win a seat.

More important for the rest of the country will be the referendum on the Single Transferable Vote (STV).  To be honest, I don’t have the best grasp on  STV, but it would create 20 large districts which would elect a certain number of MLA’s. Voters would rank their preference, and if no candidate wins majority support, the lowest polling candidate would be removed and their support would be redistributed to the other candidates. .This process would repeat until all the candidates in the district are elected.

While I admittedly don’t like the district proposal, mainly because not every district will have an equal number of ridings, I’d love to see some real electoral reform in this country. I think it should engage people more in democracy, and make individual votes count more. I also think this will be the last chance for electoral reform in Canada for awhile if it’s defeated tonight. STV was defeated in BC in 2005 and mixed-member proportional representation was defeated in PEI in 2005 and Ontario in 2007. I don’t think it could stand a fourth nail in the coffin.

UPDATE, 1:26 ADT: The CBC has just declared that there will be another Liberal majority in BC. They are currently leading or elected in 48 ridings, the NDP leading or elected in 37.

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Clean-up during the moving process

Sorry for the lackk of posts; between moving home and breif illness I haven’t been posting. Some thoughts from the week gone by:

The Disease Formerly Known As Swine Flu is here – but forgive me for thinking the furor is all for naught, especially since plain 0ld regular flu kills thousands in Canada annually.

Does anyone know what’s going on in social development? – The premier and Mary Schryer, social development minister, got caught in a contradiction this week. She said the government was still committed to the goal of raising social assistance rates to the Atlantic average, but Shawn Graham doesn’t think so, based on dubious “better information.” As an aside, can my neighbours in Quispamsis please elect someone who’s not incompetent to the Legislature next year? Schryer’s scarcely an improvement on Brenda Fowlie, the PC MLA who got kicked out of cabinet for revealing a Liberal member’s private property dealings.

The PC’s introduce a lobbying registry bill that the Liberals don’t like – which wouldn’t be notable if the Graham hadn’t promised to introduce a lobbiest registry in the ’06 election. Oops. The Liberals say they haven’t done it because they’re negotiating with the other Atlantic governments to form a regional registry.  Those prospects seem lousy, though, considering Rodney McDonald’s Nova Scotia government is expected to fall son and get trounced in an election. If the Liberals don’t like this bill, they should ammend it to their liking, leaving the door open for a regional registry. That said, good on the PCs for a rare show of initiative.

And on a lighter note: Britain’s favorite douchebag midlife crisis sufferer Jeremy Clarkson offers an entertaining look at the importance of alcohol. Cheers!

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