CBC got it wrong on Rob Ford

Police Chief Bill Blair has released the following statement:

Statement from Chief William Blair

Friday, October 28, 2011 – 4:53 PM

“While it is not my practice to comment on 9-1-1 calls made to TPS emergency operators, serious allegations have been made about what was said during a series of three calls involving the mayor, and whether there was any abuse of the 9-1-1 service.

“I’m concerned that this may have created confusion with the public about whether to call 9-1-1 or not. I cannot allow that to happen. Public safety is too important. Let me be clear. Anyone who has concerns for their safety, or the safety of their family, should call 9-1-1 without hesitation.

“I also feel it is necessary to set the record straight about the conversations. There have been no complaints by any members of the TPS about the 9-1-1 conversations.

“The content of those conversations has been misrepresented by what are claimed to be “several anonymous sources,” presumably from within the TPS, in which case I have to set the record straight. I have listened to the three emergency calls. The mayor did not use the word “bitches,” attributed to him by those “several anonymous sources.” The mayor did not describe himself as the original account claimed.

“Emergency calls involve people who are under stress, trying to communicate with emergency operators. Those operators work under great pressure, trying to get vital information from people, who are extremely anxious, so the proper police resources can be deployed. Our emergency operators are extremely well trained, equipped to deal with the most difficult situations. What is most important, above all else, is that public safety is protected.”

William Blair

Chief of Police

Earlier: Toronto Mayor Rob Ford Called 911 Dispatchers “Bitches” After TV Encounter (Report):

“You … bitches! Don’t you f–king know? I’m Rob Ford, the f—king, the mayor of this city!” the politician told emergency phone operators, the CBC alleged Thursday.

Announcing Election Maps

This has been a long time in the making. You may recall that back in 2009, I put together this short video where I gave an overview of mapping/translating/projecting NRCan .shp files in Google Earth. I took the 2008 poll boundaries and the 2008 general election results and mashed them up so that every poll division from that election could be visualized in Google Earth.

What about the results from the 2011 General Election? Could those be mapped too? Yes.

When I first put the video out lots of people were interested in the project and asked if they could play around with the maps themselves. I’ve been up to a few other things since then and lost track of the project, but recently I’ve been busy on this again and I’ve put together a maps section on this website where you can explore election results in Google Maps. Not only this, you can download the files to zoom around on your desktop version of Google Earth.

Not only this, but I’ve gone ahead and mapped the 2006, 2004, 2000 and 1997 election poll divisions and results in addition to those from 2011 and 2008.

So, for those counting: that’s 6 general elections, 308 ridings per election (301 seats in each of 2000 and 1997), about 200 average poll divisions per riding and a handful of candidates running in each riding. That’s amounts to approximately 1.6 million polls! The data, all-in-all, takes up about 12 GB on my server’s MySQL database.

Go on and take a tour of the new Maps feature (if you don’t have the Earth plugin you can easily switch to Maps, Satellite or Hybrid). Many of the maps are too large to render on a simple browser iteration of Google Maps so you’ll have to download the maps to Google Earth to get a full appreciation (links are provided).

If you like what you see, give it a shout-out on twitter. I’d be happy if more people had access these files.

Here’s a sample of some of the visuals from the maps:

2011 Labrador

2011 Central Nova

2004 Esquimalt Juan-de-Fuca

1997 Vancouver Centre

Long gun registry this week

I’ve heard from some who know that the Conservative government is planning on tabling legislation this week to put an end to the long-gun registry.

It’ll be a government bill introduced by the Minister of Public Safety Vic Toews and it is on track for Thursday of this week according what I’ve heard.

Candice Hoeppner — the Conservative MP who introduced private members legislation last session — will no doubt be taking a significant role selling the government’s legislation to the media and the broader Canadian public.

Now that the Conservatives have a majority, the legislation is expected to sail through Parliament.

The legislation comes on the heels of another long time Conservative promise this week to end the Canadian Wheat Board monopoly.

UPDATE: Intent to introduce legislation was just announced today (10/19). Nicholson will introduce, according to Postmedia.

UPDATE PART II: Was right about Toews all along! Toews introduced the bill (10/25).

Why Tim Hudak lost

Last week, Ontario voted to re-elect Dalton McGuinty to a third term as Premier of Canada’s largest province. Ontario is big on the Canadian stage and is unrivaled in sheer population numbers at 13.2 million, unrivaled in its debt numbers at $237 Billion, unrivaled in unemployment outside of Atlantic Canada and it set a new record for voter turnout: a low at 49% — unseen since 1867.

Given the numbers, it would be foolish to dismiss Ontario’s hunger for change and the Hudak team knew this. They did everything to label their candidate as the province’s agent of change — they even named their platform “Changebook”. Yet a label will only take you so far. What Hudak’s team failed to offer was change itself.

Barack Obama won a campaign on hope and change. Though in truth he was a superficial agent of change at best. Suffering wars, recession and bailouts, a chance to elect America’s first black President proved to be the change America had been waiting for, but not the change they needed. Three years later, America is still at war, deeper into recession and Obama is still trying to bail out America with more spending. Hope and change indeed. But America was interested in what Obama represented, not who he was.

To say the least, the Hudak plan to offer superficial change did not elect him to high office. No, on October 6th, Tim P. Hudak was not giving a chance to Ontario to turn a chapter in Canada’s troubled anti-Slovak history and elect the first descendant of Slovak grandparents to sit as provincial leader of the free Confederation.  The greatest strength offered by Tim Hudak to the Ontario electorate was that his name wasn’t Dalton McGuinty. Needless to say, it wasn’t enough.

If you took a passive view of the PC campaign over the past two months, you might have been vaguely aware of what Changebook’s greatest promoted promise was: a cut in the HST! (ahem, off of home heating costs). Or maybe you heard about chain gangs for prisoners! Or that foreign workers something something bad something something! Or that Premier Tim was going to reverse Premier Dad’s move to educate our kids about “the gays”.

Tim Hudak ran as the “change” candidate, yet he offered none. Why? A few polls early in the low signal to noise phase of the campaign early this year told his team that he was up 20 points! Time to shift the “change” plan into the superficial gear and run a front-runner no drama campaign, it was likely decreed. Yet, those polls didn’t really represent anything substantive and as the campaign began, Hudak could only count himself to be a meager few points ahead.

A true message of change was one that would have resonated with the people of Ontario. Every new green job that Dalton McGuinty was creating was costing 5 jobs in the real economy due to the higher cost of doing business. Ontario’s credit rating will come under greater pressure in the coming years making it cost much more to pay off the interest on Ontario’s $237 billion debt — now nearly double from when McGuinty took office. Ontario is a have not province meaning it is the laggard of Confederation, drawing on the wealth generative capacity of the likes of Newfoundland and Saskatchewan. You want a message of change? Ontario stands to our own Greece as $7 of new government spending is supported by $1 of economic growth. What to change?

1) End government involvement in creating economically unsustainable industries.

2) Cut the HST from 13 to 12 to 11 percent

3) Cut the Ontario corporate tax rate to encourage new investment

4) Cut government spending 5%, then 10-15%

5) New union and lobbyist transparency rules

5 priorities? Stop the Gravy Train? Sounds familiar? A clear and consistent message track. Put change in the window. Tim Hudak can be Ontario’s next Premier, but only if he lets Ontario know he has a plan to change.

How did Alison Redford win?

Alison Redford is the new leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta and will be sworn in on Friday as Alberta’s 14th Premier.  She pulled off a stunning upset of her chief rival in this year’s leadership race against front-runner Gary Mar.

I say upset because Redford accomplished just 19% on the first ballot compared to Mar’s 41%.

Between the first and second ballots, Redford jumped to 28,993 votes while Mar jumped to 33,233 total. Mar also had the benefit of the endorsement of the other contenders. But as the preferential ballot broke after the second ballot was counted, Redford picked up the rest.

Who were these new members?

Between the first and second ballot, Redford had a meeting on September 22nd with the Alberta Teachers Association, a 43,000 member strong union. Redford sent a letter to the ATA president promising to restore $107 million in education funding that the previous cabinet (of which she was a member) cut. Mar and other leadership rival Ted Morton said that such funding could not be restored due to Alberta’s deficit budget, but Redford made the promise to the union.  Here is her letter:

Dear Ms Henderson,

As you know I am contesting the Leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party to become the next Premier of the province of Alberta.  My priorities, like so many Albertans, are healthcare and public education.  In particular, I am committed to funding public education properly and it is important that the government move quickly on that front.

I will commit to restoring the education cuts made in the 2011/2012 budget within 10 days of being sworn in as Premier. This funding should not have been removed from the budgets of Alberta School Boards. I only regret that the timing of the leadership contest means that unacceptable disruption has already occurred that must be reversed. If elected Premier, I will not allow that to happen again.

The restoration of this funding will allow School Boards to hire back teachers and support staff laid off this summer. This, in turn, will reduce class size to a more manageable level. In consideration of the funding restoration, I will request that School Boards also roll back fee increases passed onto parents this fall.

Further, I commit to stable and predictable funding on three-year cycles in the future. School boards need to be able to plan, not annually react to unpredictable budgets. In order to keep talented teachers, we must be able to offer them longer term stability, not a continual cycle of layoffs and rehiring. Students and parents must know what to expect from year to year.

It is increasingly obvious that we need to change how we consult, and how we plan and implement government initiatives. I am very hopeful that you will work with me going forward to build a much better process, for the benefit of public education, public health care reform and other areas of government.

I very much appreciate the opportunity to address your representatives on these issues, and look forward to some challenging questions!


Alison Redford

And then ATA Executive Director Gordon Thomas published a letter on the union website encouraging union members to sign up to influence the leadership vote,

As I write this editorial, Gary Mar, Doug Horner and Alison Redford are in the final days of a long campaign seeking the leadership of Alberta’s Progressive Conservative party.

I encourage all members to consider being active in this leadership campaign—and, for that matter, any leadership campaign. Get involved in choosing the next premier of Alberta. Assess the candidates for their education platforms. In my role with the Alberta Teachers’ Association, I have met with all of these candidates to discuss their views on education. I look forward to working with the new ­premier, no matter which candidate wins, as the teaching profession and the government work together to improve public education in Alberta. While the Association is decidedly unpartisan, we do encourage our members to get involved in public affairs—and this leadership competition will have a real impact on the ­province and our future.

Did a $107 million dollar promise activate the machinery that turned out most of the new votes on the 2nd ballot? One thing is for certain, the second ballot took a decidedly different direction than the first and that new direction was due to brand new members. The Tory rank-and-file showed up to vote on the first ballot. Did the special interests rush the ballot box to take Redford from 19% to victory?

As an allegedly “conservative” party, the Alberta PC is not supposed to be delivering for the special interests. Today a $107 million promised hand-off and tomorrow a ballot box explosion? Did Alison Redford use taxpayer dollars to unions to guarantee her victory?

Tsk, tsk Freedom Party

The Freedom Party is running in the Ontario election, hoping to eke out a seat or two for libertarian hopefuls. I like libertarian principles but unfortunately this “fringe” party really has no shot of getting elected as the government. In fact, they may stand as a spoiler to the Progressive Conservatives in some ridings. Yet, this situation may cause PC candidates to compete for votes in the freedom space of the electoral spectrum, so this is a good thing.

However, I must take issue with their latest commercial on prayer in public schools. Their ad uses a clip of mine, and not only do they take Tim Hudak out of context but, these property-rights-loving folks didn’t ask to use (or even credit) my video!

Here’s my interview with Tim Hudak from April 2, 2009:

At 4:08, I ask about vouchers and faith-based schools. If we go to 4:50 we hear Hudak say about faith-based schools,

“Very clearly, in the 2007 election, voters rendered a clear verdict that they didn’t support the party policy of faith-based schools support. And as leader of the Ontario PC Party, I won’t be opening that door again. It has been closed by the voters. I’ll look forward to working with our grassroots policy process with our members of the PC Party who are involved and our PC caucus colleagues. I’ll look for ways to innovate, create competition in choice, but within our public school system.”

In the Freedom Party ad below, the narrator says “PC Leader Tim Hudak is quietly committed to faith-based public schools.” Hudak: “Choice, but within our public school system”.

Hudak wasn’t talking about moving the faith-based argument from tax-credits of private schools to infusing religion in public schools. He was talking about creating competitive elements within the public school system. It was quite clear that he recognized faith-based meddling in education wasn’t a winning strategy in 2007. Vouchers as a general concept is a good one (and an competitive tool which I imagine the Freedom Party would support in our public schools system). The Freedom Party distorts this point using a quote from Hudak out of context.

And without any tagline for my video! Fair use is fair use, but please pass on the credit.

CBC Opt Out Campaign

Here’s our latest from the National Citizens Coalition:

OTTAWA –– With the federal government struggling to emerge from a $36-billion deficit this year, taxpayers have been demanding an immediate end to wasteful spending.

“This government was elected to balance the budget – that must remain the top priority,” says Peter Coleman President and CEO of the National Citizens Coalition. “If they are serious about the promises they made during the most recent election it is time to put the CBC on the chopping block.”

With taxpayers being forced to hand over $1.1-billion annually to fund the CBC, the broadcaster has still failed to remain relevant.

Now, a new petition has been launched at www.cbcoptout.ca, which allows taxpayers to join with thousands of others to symbolically opt-out of providing funding.

“It is time to tell Heritage Minister James Moore and Prime Minister Harper that the buck stops here – all 1.1 billion of them.” adds Coleman.

The CBC’s negative impact on the Canadian economy is deeper than most taxpayers realize.

“Private networks must compete with the CBC for advertising dollars, and the CBC has repeatedly refused to even open its books,” says Stephen Taylor, a Director with the NCC.

“Without a transparent, forensic audit the true costs of the CBC are impossible to estimate. This is before even including the millions of public dollars spent each year by other government agencies, such as Canada Post, to advertise on the CBC,” adds Taylor.

The National Citizens Coalition has been working hard for several years to bring this issue into the spotlight. Now that the CBC is in the hot seat, the pressure is on the federal Conservatives to act decisively and to stop wasting taxpayers’ dollars immediately.

Visit www.cbcoptout.ca and sign this petition today!