CBC’s 75th Birthday

Taxpayers are wrapping up yet another gift to the CBC as the state broadcaster celebrates itself.

And you’re invited! (to pay for it whether you want to or not)

Yes, the CBC’s annual budget has ballooned to $1.1 Billion which included a $60 million top up from our new Conservative majority government.

QMI reports that the information commissioner is at war with the state broadcaster over disclosure of its expenses.  The President of the CBC says that they’ll only respond to a court order.

Cabinet ministers won’t even expense lunch if they don’t need to and when they do, they’re more likely to show how frugal they are like when Monte Solberg expensed a $16 lunch for two with a journalist. Even when ministers abuse their expenses, like Bev Oda’s Juno junket, it’s right there for taxpayers to read in black and white online. However, when we grumble about when cabinet ministers get a driver, or fly first class, similar expenses and perks enjoyed by the CBC brass are a state secret.

Yet, our politicians are accountable; we elect them.

If they receive our tax dollars, CBC and any other crown corp should be accountable for every dime.  We don’t elect their boards of directors but we should at least know how they’re spending our money

The National Citizens Coalition is calling upon the government to implement transparency legislation for crown corps including the CBC. Any organization that receives such a beautifully wrapped gift forcefully given by the taxpayer must be transparent to the same.

Last night, I was on Brian Lilley’s Byline on Sun News talking about CBC’s birthday bash.  The hard newsing, straight talking plucky upstart spends in a year what CBC spends in a week. But Sun money is private, the CBC’s money belongs to us.

So, this year the CBC celebrates.  It’s the most lavish office party you’ve ever be told to chip in for.

We celebrated the occasion at Sun News. Our party cost less than $14.

How about those mandatory minimums?

CP reports,

MONTREAL – After preying on 285 young girls, and getting them to remove their clothes in front of their computer, a convicted cyber-predator received his sentence Thursday: two years in prison.

Philippe Truchon, who used Facebook and chat sites to convince adolescent girls to take off their clothes, was handed that penalty at the Montreal courthouse.

The sentence was far more lenient than the five years Crown prosecutors has asked for.

In the 40th Parliament, Bill C-54 was in Senate committee when the opposition pulled down the government.

Bill C-54 sought, among other things,

to increase or impose mandatory minimum penalties for certain sexual offences with respect to children;

Currently, mandatory minimum sentences are not in place for luring a child. Bill C-54 would have put in place a mandatory minimum sentence for this offence. If the law had applied then, on indictment on four counts of cyber-luring (s. 172.1) to which Truchon plead guilty, he would have received a minimum of four years in prison. The judge in this case would have had no other option than to rule that this sentence be served. But, we then learned that this case was even worse after Truchon plead guilty.

During sentencing arguments last week, [the judge] Rheault was informed Truchon approached 285 teenage girls between March and July 2008 through social networks such as Facebook.

Four counts plead, 285 victims, 2 years in prison.

This is not justice.

It’s time to re-introduce and expeditiously pass C-54.

Lemon, lime and whine

In America, they sue when they aren’t warned that the McDonald’s coffee is hot. In Canada, they sue when they can’t get their Pepsi in French:

When Michel Thibodeau couldn’t order a 7-Up in French on an Air Canada flight in spring 2009, the federal-government worker didn’t just grumble about poor service. He and his wife Lynda sued the airline for more than half a million dollars.

They weren’t just upset about the can of pop. The soft-drink incident was one of half a dozen times the couple said they were denied service in French over the course of two trips they took with Air Canada and its contract carrier, Jazz, in 2009.

“If I take a flight and I’m not served in the language of my choice, and I don’t do anything about it, then my right is basically dead,” said Mr. Thibodeau, who is fluently bilingual. “I was not asking for anything other than what I was already entitled to. I have a right to be served in French.”

A Federal Court judge on Wednesday agreed, granting the couple $12,000 in compensation for four occasions when Air Canada failed to serve them in French. The judge also ordered the airline to apologize to the couple and introduce a system to track potential violations of its language duties.

A friend reminded me of a quote from Prime Minister Stephen Harper that might be related,

“After all, enforced national bilingualism in this country isn’t mere policy. It has attained the status of a religion. It’s a dogma which one is supposed to accept without question.” — Stephen Harper

Ahem. Nothing to see here folks…

Discriminatory hiring in the government

Here’s a good job that may interest you.

A Corrections Officer making $59,513 to $74,647 per year would be a great paying job for most Canadians. You must apply by July 24th to the Correctional Service of Canada.

However, under the Who Can Apply section we see the following restrictions. Surely these must be based upon learned skill, educational qualification, or the content of one’s character? No, some particular hiring restrictions are based on the colour of one’s skin.

Persons residing or employed in Moncton, NB and within a 400 kilometer radius* of Moncton, NB, within Canadian territory, extending to, amongst others, Miscou Centre, NB, Cape Tormentine, NB Seal Cove, NB, Forest City, NB, Connors, NB, North Cape and EastPoint, PE, Yarmouth, NS, Main-à-Dieu, NS, Leslie, QC, Cap-des-Rosiers, QC, Saint-Antonin, QC who are members of one of the following Employment Equity groups: Aboriginal persons** Visible minorities***

Those asterisks helpfully let us know what these terms mean,

**An Aboriginal person is a North American Indian or a member of a First Nation, Métis or Inuit. North American Indians or members of a First Nation include treaty, status or registered Indians, as well as non-status and non-registered Indians. Effective January 1, 2010, all departments and agencies under the Public Service Employment Act are required to use an Affirmation of Aboriginal Affiliation Form (AAAF)for appointment processes in which the area of selection is restricted to Aboriginal peoples only or to employment equity groups that include Aboriginal peoples. The AAAF is a condition of appointment: it must be completed and signed by the candidate before or at the same time as the Letter of Offer. For more information, consult the Public Service Commission’s Web site on AAAF.

***A person in a visible minority group is someone (other than an Aboriginal person as defined above) who is non-white in colour/race, regardless of place of birth. The visible minority group includes: Black, Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, South Asian-East Indian (including Indian from India; Bangladeshi; Pakistani; East Indian from Guyana, Trinidad, East Africa; etc.), Southeast Asian (including Burmese; Cambodian; Laotian; Thai; Vietnamese; etc.) non-white West Asian, North African or Arab (including Egyptian; Libyan; Lebanese; etc.), non-white Latin American (including indigenous persons from Central and South America, etc.), person of mixed origin (with one parent in one of the visible minority groups listed above), other visible minority group.

This issue has come up before and a review was promised by Stockwell Day, then Minister of the Treasury Board.

“While we support diversity in the public service, we want to ensure that no Canadian is barred from opportunities in the public service based on race or ethnicity,” Day said in a statement.

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, who was also involved in the decision to review the government’s hiring practices, which give priority to qualified applicants from minority groups, said everyone should be considered for federal jobs.

“We are in favour of appropriate diversity in the public service and reasonable efforts to achieve it, but we don’t think any Canadians should be excluded from applying within their government,” he told CBC News. “It’s OK to encourage people from different backgrounds to apply but in our judgment it goes too far to tell people that if they are not of a particular race or ethnicity they cannot apply [for a job] that is actually funded by their tax dollars.”

A representative workplace that doesn’t discriminate is an ideal that should be held by everyone. What is the progress of this review?

Political Guest Stars

Ok, so it’s a slow week in Ottawa. The sun is out, the Byward market patios are in full swing and there’s really not too much Ottawa-based political news to talk about. Cue a fluff story about the Prime Minister for the media to chew on! Yes, Ottawa is talking about the Prime Minister’s long-promoted appearance on the Murdoch Mysteries, a Canadian television production.

A still of the PM’s performance. The video promo (including his performance).

The Prime Minister has also appeared on CTV’s Corner Gas.

Prime Minister Paul Martin also did a guest spot on the show.

Stephen Harper isn’t the first politician (or head of government/state) to appear on a television show as an actor. After a bit of research, I was able to dig up the following examples.

King Abdullah on Star Trek: Voyager. Apparently, the King wasn’t a card-carrying member of the Screen Actor’s Guild so he wasn’t afforded any lines.

President Barack Obama appeared on Mythbusters

Prime Minister Tony Blair did a guest voice for The Simpsons

Swedish Prime Minister Göran Persson dances with a cow on a Swedish Kids show. Yeah, I don’t know either…

Then UK Conservative MP and now London mayor Boris Johnson was on Top Gear and did a lap.

John McCain on 24
Get More: John McCain on 24

Senator John McCain was on 24. He does know what Jack Bauer does to the terrorists, yes?

And way, back when… Richard Nixon, then running for President was on Laugh in.

Do you know of any other examples? How do you rate these performances? Let me know in the comments!

Daryl Fridhandler joins Mar’s campaign?

First, an intro of Mr. Fridhandler from his website,

I was first attracted to the Liberal Party in the 1968 election after having seen Pierre Trudeau ride into the local skating rink in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia on the back of a convertible.

Opportunity knocked after settling in Calgary when I volunteered on local campaigns including those of the late Sheldon Chumir, Liberal MLA for Calgary – Buffalo.

I became more involved on the fund raising side, working on the Executive Committee for Leader’s and PM’s dinners and the Alberta Revenue Committee since the early 1990s.

I chaired the 1997 campaign of now Calgary Mayor Dave Bronconnier in Calgary West (and his various civic campaigns, including 3 mayorality campaigns). I was Alberta co chair of the leadership campaign of Prime Minister Paul Martin as well as 2004 campaign co chair for Alberta. I was also National Vice Chair Revenue and National Chair of the Laurier Club during Prime Minister Martin’s tenure.

In 2005, I was honoured by the Alberta Young Liberals as honorary Young Liberal of the year.

More recently, I have served as Alberta Co Chair of Michael Ignatieff’s leadership campaigns in 2006 and 2008/09 and was recently appointed Alberta Election Readiness Co Chair for the next election.

This bio served as an introduction to Liberal Party faithful for Mr. Fridhandler’s run for National (English) VP of the Liberal Party of Canada.

Daryl’s a lifelong Liberal. And a senior one at that…

So, has Alberta PC leadership contender Gary Mar won a significant convert?

That’s Gary Mar in the centre and Daryl Fridhandler to his right. Both are wearing Tear Mar colours.

Dollars for Donuts

From the Globe and Mail,

Stephen Harper’s Conservative government announced they’d pony up $190,000 for Mrs. Dunster’s Donut of New Brunswick. The money, for a cold-storage freezer, is supposed to help the doughnut-maker sell more doughnuts. It is part of a string of small funding announcements the government has been making since Parliament closed shop two weeks ago.

It only takes one member of caucus to bend the minister’s ear to deliver some half-baked dough to his or her riding, but how about some caucus support for the principles of fiscal restraint and staying out the marketplace? The government should not indulge in picking winners and losers. Of course, this donut example is but a small example of a larger problem. Bailouts and corporate welfare have become too common in our system.

This has to stop.

No more pinko donuts from the government bakery.

UPDATE: Some think it would be fair to point out that this is a loan from the government. This is still outside of the market and one not underwritten by any bank.

Google schools the CRTC

There’s just so much that I enjoy about Google’s latest submission to the CRTC. I wanted to share their very pointed response to the regulatory body in its call for consultations from stakeholders. (highlighting is mine)

This Consultation is déja-vu all over again. The CRTC tackled this exact issue two years ago. It received submissions. It heard evidence. It made an important — and correct — decision to maintain and expand the exemption for New Media. The key facts on the ground underlying the CRTC’s current don’t- mess-with-a-good-thing policy are the same as the last time around. No new online audio-visual content regulation is warranted.

Without doubt, Canadians have benefited from and embraced the open Internet and the increased choice it provides. Canadians continue to contribute a voluminous and diverse range of New Media content, a diversity not seen before in the history of mass communications. On YouTube (a business operated by Google), there is no disadvantage to being a Canadian content creator. There were hundreds of thousands of new hours of Canadian content added to YouTube last year. Also, importantly, in 2010, Canadian videos had roughly the same number of views per video as American videos. In other words, Canadian content is not being drowned out online. Compelling Canadian content succeeds online — without subsidy or quota.

Canadian creators are making money from uploading their videos to YouTube, resulting in a flow of funds directly to artists, enabling them to create even more Canadian content. Artists are able to reach their audiences and be compensated, without having to work through studios, marketing companies, broadcasters or distribution undertakings. In the past year alone, YouTube’s partners (i.e. content creators, including Canadians) made nearly 300% more from advertising revenue on YouTube than they did the previous year.

The hand-wringing leading up to this Consultation reflects a discomfort with innovation. While a multitude of New Media start-ups have emerged, and some have prospered, many of Canada’s more staid players have taken only modest online steps, despite the latter having substantial advantages over the former (for example, when it emerged a mere six years ago, YouTube was a start-up above a pizza shop and did not have the financial resources, contacts, or ready access to content enjoyed by traditional media).