Seen on Parliament Hill – despite Michael Ignatieff’s best wishes

This fellow was just off of Parliament Hill today showing passers-by a portable video playing the video clip of Michael Ignatieff saying “You have to decide what kind of America you want. Right? You have to decide. It’s your country [the US] just as much as it is mine.” The clip can be seen in the Conservative Party’s “definition” ads on the Leader of the Opposition.

Aparently, the man dressed as Uncle Sam was protesting Michael Ignatieff’s attempts to goad C-SPAN into ordering a cease-and-decist against the Conservatives for using video from their network.

Glen MacGregor of the Ottawa Citizen reports from an interview with C-SPAN’s Bruce Collins,

“He wanted to know if we were aware if our video was being used in this way,” Collins said. “If our rights were being violated, he wanted us to enforce them.”

Collins goes on to say,

“There’s nothing legal to do with it, Collins said. “Given the way video is used throughout the world, with YouTube, it would be fruitless.”

Collins says he watched the ad and believes it falls within the fair-use provisions in copyright law because of the short length and subject matter.

“It’s the highest form of speech — political speech,” he said, adding there would be no economic loss to C-SPAN resulting from the ad.

One might have thought that Michael Ignatieff would have read the first amendment to the US Constitution protecting speech during the decades he was abroad. For someone who claims ownership of the United States as Ignatieff does, he should believe in political free speech, even if such rights are generally not afforded Canadians when it comes to using CBC and CPAC footage.

He said “tar baby”? Who else did?

Today in the house, Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre said,

“On that side of the House, they have the man who fathered the carbon tax, put it up for adoption to his predecessor and now wants a paternity test to prove the tar baby was never his in the first place”

This caused a stir on the opposition benches and caused Liberal House leader Ralph Goodale to ask Poilievre to withdraw and deemed the term “racist”.

Here are some recent uses of the term by journalists including Chantal Hebert.

“The nasty legal squabble over who owns the cash-strapped Phoenix Coyotes and whether they can relocate to Hamilton is hardly the first such tar baby the NHL has dealt with, and it won’t be the last.” (John Mackinnon, Edmonton Journal, May 18, 2009).

“It’s a Tory/Liberal tar baby and I’ve lost faith that they can do anything but keep changing the minister and pretend everything’s under control.” (Ralph Surette, Halifax Chronicle Herald, February 14, 2009).

“At this stage, the McTeague bill looks more like a Liberal tar baby than a party brainchild.” (Chantal Hebert, The Toronto Star, March 12, 2008).

“Along the way, Parti Québécois leader Pauline Marois has got herself in trouble with the usual suspects as she fumbles with the language tar baby and prepares for one of those gawdawful national council meetings the PQ caribous use to exasperate and humiliate the unfortunate chief of the moment.” (Norman Webster, Montreal Gazette, February 17, 2008).

“Marois’s effort to shake off the referendum tar baby is good news…” (Editorial, Cynical PQ bid to rebrand party, The Toronto Star, Friday, March 7, 2008).

“Same-sex marriage has generally been treated like a political tar baby over the past few years, with most parties reluctant to whip up highly sensitive arguments touching on religion and deeply rooted social values.” (Susan Delacourt, Martin could exploit gay-marriage gift, The Hamilton Spectator, Friday, December 10, 2004).

“Nobody is saying you toss over your U.S. relations. Of course you don’t. But it doesn’t mean to say you have to become slavishly connected like some kind of tar baby with them.” (Lloyd Axworthy, Canada’s new leader to improve U.S. ties, Detroit Free Press, Thursday, December 11, 2003).

h/t: David Akin

“We created the country you live in. Never forget it”

In this collection of clips,

1) Ignatieff seems to forget he’s in Canada.
2) An example of Ignatieff’s I, I, I problem
3) A declaration that the election is, to Ignatieff, about the Liberal Party reclaiming its place in Canada.
4) Not a hint of arrogance (because he says so)
5) A tired old attack line.

Is Michael Ignatieff the next Gandhi?

Watch this video produced by a Liberal Party supporter (we presume) that I found discussed in detail on David Akin’s blog.

Akin writes,

“The Visitor” ad, above, seems to be a creation of a Liberal supporter and is being distributed on YouTube. It spoofs the “Just Visiting” spot, below, which is a creation of The Conservative Party of Canada and is being shown as a paid ad on Canadian network television.

It seems clear that Liberals (I assume they are Liberals) are having a certain amount of fun riffing off of the Conservative “Just Visiting” attack ads. Here’s one from the Libs that accuses Mahatma Gandhi of being a mere arriviste for Indian independence. I’ve put up the YouTube links to both ads here on the assumption that you need to see the original (on the bottom) in order to get the joke (on the top.)

Now, here’s a great article by a columnist for Forbes magazine in the United States. In her piece titled “Cosmopolitan Patriot – Michael Ignatieff’s love letter to Canada”, Elisabeth Eaves makes the point beautifully that I would make to the attempted equivalence made above.

If your country is plagued by chaos and autocracy, no one thinks there’s anything wrong with your spending many years abroad before returning to take charge. Witness the post-Soviet leaders who returned to Eastern Europe, or one-time exiles like Jose Ramos Horta or Benazir Bhutto. There is an acceptance that whatever ideas about governance one may have picked up abroad, they can’t be any worse than the modus operandi back home, and that in any case, if the returning politician had stayed home, he or she would be dead.

When you come from a thriving democracy with a high standard of living, though, and try to pull off the prodigal son routine, you have a little more explaining to do. Such is the conundrum in which Michael Ignatieff finds himself. British radio and television host; American public intellectual; author of 15 books of history, biography, memoir, politics and fiction, “Iggy” returned to Canada in 2005 after 27 years elsewhere, ran for office, and in 2006 became a member of parliament for the opposition Liberal Party

Click here for the rest of the article.

Hudak and Elliott campaigns protest party decision on London debate

I received news this evening that the PC Party had moved to prohibit recording devices from a leaders debate to occur today in London. I’ve verified with a reporter covering the race that this indeed was the case. The Elliott and Hudak campaigns were quick to protest the decision. Here are their emails (forwarded to me by the respective campaigns).

The Elliott campaign,

and the Hudak campaign,

Finally, I’ve heard that the party will go ahead and allow reporters to use recording devices during the debate.

UPDATE: This is confirmed. Here is the media advisory from the party.

Hudak memberships in question?

The story broke on PerezHudak.com earlier today. It is rumoured that the Hudak campaign filed a number of their membership 1.5 hours late of the deadline.

I’m hearing that the Tim Hudak campaign has failed to meet a deadline for submitting some of their paperwork, and as a result many of their memberships may be in jeopardy:

As you probably know the deadline to submit actual membership forms with signatures was today for the leadership campaigns – an electronic list was submitted last thursday to the party by campaigns.

Apparently Team Hudak submitted their forms 1.5 hrs late today and could result in all their sales being disqualified.

Rumour is that the Christine Elliott campaign is pushing to have these members struck from the list of eligible voters for the leadership election. The Leadership Election Committee is meeting tonight to consider the matter.

I’ve learned that about 5,000 memberships may be in questions. This was confirmed to me by sources close to both the Elliott and Klees campaigns.

Yet, where the story differs, and where it may have instead developed, is in the Elliott campaign reaction. I received this from the Elliott campaign addressed to the Party.

This is either a sportsmanlike gesture from the Elliott campaign or an attempt to bring more attention to the issue and flesh it out within the news cycle.

UPDATE: I’ve heard that Elliott’s campaign lobbied the Leadership Election Committee all day to toss the Hudak memberships, but when they received a “definitive no”, that’s when the strategy changed to put out a statement supporting the memberships in question.

UPDATE: I’ve received formal communication from the Hudak campaign explaining what went wrong,

Social engineering, one plastic bag at a time

Starting June 1st, the city of Toronto is mandating that all private businesses charge “a minimum of five cents for each plastic shopping bag requested by the the customer to carry out their purchases”. The City of Toronto, in their benevolent wisdom, also mandate that if the retailer does not offer plastic shopping bags, a free alternative must be offered.

One of the most offensive lines in this document is,

“Retailers are entitled to keep the money received from the plastic bag charge, the money is not remitted to the City of Toronto. While the City does not stipulate what retailers should do with this money, it does support reinvesting the funds in local environmental or community-based initiatives.

You see, it’s not a tax. The city of Toronto is mandating prices.

We also learn,

“Retailers will be prohibited from offering or providing to customers plastic bags that are incompatible with Toronto’s recycling program (e.g., biodegradable plastic bags, compostable plastic bags or plastic bags with metal detailing or grommets, rope or hard plastic handles)”

Two steps forward, two steps back. Biodegradable plastic bags do not conform to Toronto’s bureaucratic vision of perfection.

Today, in the National Post, we learn that the cloth reusable bags offered at Loblaws and now Metro Inc. grocery stores may contain unacceptable levels of microorganisms.

“The main risk is food poisoning,” Dr. Richard Summerbell, research director at Toronto-based Sporometrics and former chief of medical mycology for the Ontario Ministry of Health, stated in a news release. Dr. Summerbell evaluated the study results.

“But other significant risks include skin infections such as bacterial boils, allergic reactions, triggering of asthma attacks, and ear infections,” he stated.

The study found that 64% of the reusable bags tested were contaminated with some level of bacteria and close to 30% had elevated bacterial counts higher than what’s considered safe for drinking water.

Further, 40% of the bags had yeast or mold, and some of the bags had an unacceptable presence of coliforms, faecal intestinal bacteria, when there should have been 0.

If we are to depend upon the benevolence of the state to protect us from ourselves, will Health Canada mandate that every reusable grocery bag be provided with cleaning instructions and warnings of reuse? How will the competing of agendas play out here? Will the city bow before the environmental lobby at the expense of our health?

Environmentalism is all about the efficient use of resources, and there’s something ironic in the fact that the market (and even the government) has determined that plastic bags cost 5 cents while a reusable bag is 99 cents. Would you reuse that bag 20 times to recoup the effective cost? If so, what effect will the bleach and detergent have on our lakes and rivers? I’m certain that city council will soon force retailers to build in the real cost of a resuable bag for their customers.

But let’s get our focus back. Fundamentally, it is the principle of choice that is under attack here. A retailer should be able to build in the cost of a plastic bag into their prices, just as retailers build in their other costs, such as municipal, provicial and federal taxes.

Actually, that gives me an idea. Businesses of all sizes should organize to list all costs on their receipts and thankfully, the city of Toronto has already started this process (though mandated). When you buy a television from Future Shop, the real price should be shown (cost + profit) and taxes should be added onto the sticker price afterwards. Among others, municipal property taxes, the garbage collection tax, the proprietor’s income tax, taxes that go to climate change awareness, taxes that go to subsidizing your neighbour’s mortgage, the CBC, Via Rail, and the post office. In fact, there are so many hidden costs built in via taxation, we should break down the tax burden for the customer so that they can then change their behaviour about government too.

I think that the city of Toronto is onto something here. If we show Canadians the damage that they are really doing to themselves and others perhaps then we’d have less tax, and less need for meddling city coucillors and tax collectors at all levels.

Ontario PC Party leadership race fundraising numbers

Christine Elliott is the money leader so far in this leadership race rounding out the pack of four leadership contenders. Membership sales closed days ago and the campaign enters its persuasion phase.

Candidate Christine Elliott Frank Klees Tim Hudak Randy Hillier
Total raised $315,100 $62,517 $153,940 $91,809
Average donation $2046.10 $2604.88 $1241.45 $1311.56
Median donation $500 $740 $500 $142.50
Donations 154 24 124 70

A few observations are noteworthy. The Hudak campaign had claimed at membership cut off time that donations would surpass $200,000. Since we are about 5 days past the close of membership sales and noting that donations must be declared within 10 days, the campaign may have indeed raised $200k by the membership cutoff date. Despite this, the Elliott campaign more than doubles the Hudak campaign in fundraising contributions. Frank Klees, who is the perceived front-runner in membership sales checks in with a disappointing $62,517. He’ll need to raise a lot more in order to effectively convert the thousands of memberships that he’s reportedly sold come (leadership) election day. Randy Hillier makes a respectful showing with $91,809, a sum that includes two donations from federal MP Scott Reid ($30,000) and himself ($25,000).

Cumulatively, the four PC leadership contenders have so far taken in 16 donations of $10,000 or over. Here they are:

Scott Reid $30,000.00 HILLIER
CIC Developments Inc. $25,000.00 ELLIOTT
Cougs Investments Ltd. $25,000.00 ELLIOTT
Steven Pietrobon $25,000.00 ELLIOTT
Phillip Sutherland $25,000.00 ELLIOTT
Shiplake Management Company $25,000.00 HUDAK
Randy Hillier $25,000.00 HILLIER
Pace Credit Union $20,000.00 KLEES
David Cynamon $10,000.00 ELLIOTT
Howard Holdings Corp $10,000.00 ELLIOTT
Joanne Love $10,000.00 ELLIOTT
Peter Westaway $10,000.00 ELLIOTT
Ross Whalen $10,000.00 ELLIOTT
Robert Wilson $10,000.00 ELLIOTT
Steane Consulting Ltd. $10,000.00 HUDAK
Mass Insurance Brokers Ltd. $10,000.00 KLEES

All data accurate from Elections Canada as of 9:15pm EST May 19th, 2009

BC Hookers get media training for Olympics, paid for by the taxpayer?

According to the Times & Transcript,

VANCOUVER – Vancouver sex trade workers need to know their rights when dealing with cameras and reporters and will be offered media training leading up to the 2010 Olympic Games, an advocacy group said.

The Prostitution Alternatives Counselling and Education Society (PACE) will hold the session in November.

“We just want our members to feel safe in the neighbourhood in which they live and safe to work in the neighbourhood in which they live,” said spokeswoman Kerry Porth.

“We find sometimes that media attention to the area can be a little less than compassionate and we don’t want them to feel like animals in a zoo during that time.”

Kevin Gaudet of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation asks on Twitter, “Hookers get media training for Olympics. Are taxpayers paying for this?” and provides a link to the T&T article.

Kevin, the answer is probably yes.