Monday, March 31, 2008

Gun Deaths in Canada and the Gun Registry

Listening to some conservatives you would think the case against Gun Registry was open and shut: it does no good at all full stop.

However is the evidence consistent with such a stance? Hardly. Judge for yourself.

The suicide rate in Canada peaked at 15.2 in 1978, dipped below 12 for the first time in 32 years in 2000 and reached a post 1970 low of 11.3 in 2004.

The average suicide rate per year between 1970 and 1976 was 13.35, between 1977 and 1983 it was 14.5, between 1984 and 1990 it was 13.1, between 1991 and 1997 it was 13 and between 1998 to 2004 it was 12.

The number of suicides by firearm in Canada dropped from a high of 1287 in 1978 to a low of 568 in 2004. There was an average of 1033 fire arm suicides per year between 1970 and 1976, 1197 between 1977 and 1983, 1084 between 1984 and 1990, 970 between 1991 and 1997 and 682 between 1998 and 2004.

The number of accidental shooting deaths in Canada stood at 143 in 1971 and has generally declined since then; a low of 20 was reached in 2000. There was an average of 117 accidental shooting deaths per year between 1970 and 1976, 70 between 1977 and 1983, 62.3 between 1984 and 1990, 50.1 between 1991 and 1997 and 28.1 between 1998 and 2004.

The rate of homicide in Canada peaked in 1975 at 3.03 per 100,000 and has dropped since then, reaching lower peaks in 1985 (2.72 per 100,000) and 1991 (2.69 per 100,000) while declining to 1.73 per 100,000 in 2003. The average murder rate between 1970 and 1976 was 2.52, between 1977 and 1983 it was 2.67, between 1984 and 1990 it was 2.41, between 1991 and 1997 it was 2.23 and between 1998 and 2004 it was 1.82. The number of homicides as a percentage of the number attempted homicides has increased. In other words, the attempted homicide rate has fallen even further than the homicide rate.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Conservative Cogito

In order to confront critics, who accused him and other Conservative MPs, aka the Blue Meanies, of lacking substance, Peter Van Loan came up with his own version of Descartes' famous Cogito. "I am angry, therefore I am" said Van Loan.

Dion as Waldo vs Stephen Harper (AKA) Angry Dad and the Blue Meanies


Sunday, March 23, 2008

Brain Dead Animal

It speaks volumes about the blogging torries that this tool is one of their most read bloggers. Kate McMillan: "The Nazis Didn't Carry Out The Holocaust. The German state did that.

Most people would say that if someone of sound mind deliberately runs over an innocent person and kills them that they are guilty of vehicular homicide, but not Kate. According to Kate, the fault lies with the car and the car alone.

Yes sir conservatives are all about taking personal responsibility.

Perhaps we can make partial sense of Kate said. Maybe she was saying that there were insufficient constitutional safeguards in Germany at the time and no tradition in Germany of respect for the rule of law.

Conservatives are all about constitutional safeguards and needless to say have a long history of supporting an independent judiciary. “It’s the stupid charter” “"Well, the heck with the courts." “Activist judges” "If the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is going to be used as the crutch to carry forward all of the issues that social libertarians want, then there's got to be for us conservatives out there a way to put checks and balances in there."

Friday, March 21, 2008

Political Poverty of the Liberal Platform

Global warming is not the winner everyone has made it out to be. Saying that one is concerned about the global warming has and will continue to garner at best a "that's nice" response from the public and worst “yeah right” response. The Liberal environmental record is poor, their policies only vaguely understood and for those people for whom the environment truly is the most important issue they are going to vote, drum roll please, Green.

The only thing the Liberals have going for them as far as the environmental file is concerned is that Dion’s cap and trade proposal is a good one. That said, it hard to see the public being overly excited about such and idea.

The Liberal pledge to fight poverty is similarly politically ill-conceived. People are not going to get overly excited about a grab bag of repackaged Martin policies that 95% of the Canadians do not have the time nor, energy to seek to understand.

Once you get past poverty and the environmental you have the baron repackaged wasteland that is the rest of the Liberal platform.

All is not lost for the Liberals though; they just have to understand what the Conservatives did going into the 2005/2006 campaign. The Conservatives trotted out easy to understand policies that took aim at broad spectrum of voters. Whatever else one may think about them, the GST cut and their promise give parents with $100 a month for every kid under 6 were both politically brilliant.

The Liberals do not have a choice but to copy such a program. They simply lack the money, grassroots support and media presence to target sub groups of voters the way the Conservatives can. As an opposition party they do not have the power to control the agenda the way they once did. They are going to have to develop 3 or 4 simple, easy to understand policies that are aimed at a broad cross section of society if not everyone.

Now, the Liberals have let it be known that they would like to hold off announcing policy until after an election was called. I found such a line believable in the summer. I certainly do not now. The cupboard is bare and the party is stalling. Either that or they are even more badly led than anyone thought. Holding back policy is no way of improving fund raising numbers that are not magically going to get better on their own. It is also no way to keep sinking party moral up, the media interested in anything other than infighting and the public at all interested in the Liberal’s very existence.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Layton has to Go

Although I have been impressed with the NDP’s call for a national minimum wage, a national pharmacare program, their call for the senate to be abolished and their stance on Afghanistan, it is time for Layton to go. The NDP is stalled in the polls and have been since Harper was elected. More importantly the NDP do not seem to realize that their fortunes are tied to the Liberals and that their willingness to sacrifice their principles in hopes of political gain gives them a smaller voice. Finally, the NDP needs to be rescued from its own confused, wordy and jumbled messaging that is made all the worse by Layton’s frenetic style of delivery.

Of all the parties out there, the NDP can least afford to waste time trying pander to every single constituency. It gets but a fraction of media attention the other parties do. The party simply does not have the money or the media attention that would allow them to spend all their time and effort trying to target various subgroups and taking shots at the other parties. Talk of seniors, students, families, natives, Liberals, Conservatives Elizabeth May, George Bush… needs to be abandoned and replaced with how this or that policy benefits all Canadians. Everything else is extraneous noise. Naturally this means recommitting the party to universality, paring down the message, and abandoning the special interest stink that has enveloped the party like pig pen for a long as the party has abandoned any talk of class. A la what the NDP did the 60s, hold up what various European have achieved should serve as a model. Clarity of message and easy to understand policy is all important. 5 examples come readily to mind.

National minimum wage

A national pharmacare program based upon the one currently available in the UK

4 weeks paid vacation for all Canadians

dental care as part of health care

Universal Day Care for kids aged 1-5

Electoral reform and the war in Afghanistan is also possible subjects of discussion, but by in large the party should focus basically all of its time talking about a few core issues and hitting them again and again and again.

Liberals are in Big Trouble in BC

Leaving Quarda aside, the Liberals are in real trouble in BC. North Vancouver, Richmond, Newton North Delta are all on the razor's edge, Keith Martin will be in for a fight in Esquimalt Juan de Fuca and West Vancouver is as good as gone. If the election was held today I say the Liberals would loose 4 of the aforementioned 5. I think Martin would hold onto his seat. One problem is Dion's English. His accent is strong and his ability to express himself in English is not nearly what it is in French and well that does seem to be a problem in Toronto it certainly is here. Another problem is that Vancouver is a fiscally conservative city, with a very fiscally conservative media. This is not a town of Red Tories. This is not Toronto. There is no Toronto Star. There is the Vancouver Sun and the Fraser Institute. Luckily for the Liberals it is also socially liberal city. By and large SSM played very well here and there is strong support for drug reform of all kinds. If the Liberals are serious about holding onto what they have in BC and perhaps even picking up a seat or two, they need to develop some policies that will appeal to libertarians. Right now the cupboard is bare.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Harper's suit Threatens Blogsphere: Harper's lawyers argue that only the MSM has protection when quoting Hansard

Harper suit is premised on a sharp distinction between “news” organizations and everyone else. Harper is in effect saying that the Liberals are not free to quote from Hansard because they are not a “news” organization. Protection does not apply to them. However, the implication of this is that bloggers too are not protected when quoting from Hansard. If the Liberals could be sued for quoting what Ignatieff said in the House, and Harper suite takes aim at just that, then so could I or any other blogger.

If the Liberals where smart they would take aim at just such a sharp distinction and encourage people to quote the offending passages on face book and on their blogs and anywhere they can think of. A false distinction between the news media and everyone else can only damage freedom of speech. Protection from libel must apply to all who quote Hansard.


MPs can not be sued for what they say in the House, but MPs can not use this privilege to insulate themselves against libel by simply quoting what they said in the House. That is why Ken Dryden read out what he said in the House word for word. News organizations, on the other hand, are free to quote what was said in the House without fear of libel. Where this relates back to the matter at hand is the Liberals are asserting that the two articles in question were “news” articles and as such protected from libel. Where this relates back to the blogsephere is if judge concludes that these articles, even though they bare a healthy family resemblance to any news article out there on the subject, are not news, then it is but a hop skip and jump to the saying that any blogger that happens to quote Ignatieff's words is also open to libel.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

"Paul Martin Supports Child Pornography?”: Martin and Liberals should Sue

I see the Conservative lawsuit boils down to the two headlines on the Liberal website and how could it not. Everything else was simply repeating what was said in the House. Harper could no more sue the Liberals for reporting what was said in the House then it could sue the Globe and Mail for reporting the same. Now, I would mention what those two headlines were, but you know I might get sued. Then again if they did sue me I would have my 15 minutes of fame that I have always desired. I might even get on TV. The possibilities are endless. So, here goes it.

1) “Harper knew of Conservative Bribery”

2) “Harper Must Come Clean About Allegations of Conservative Bribery”

Seriously that is some pretty thin gruel. If I was feeling stubborn enough and I searched through the thousands of News headlines relating to Gomery and Dingwall affairs I could come up with some similarly salacious headlines used to draw readers in but then upon reading turn out to be nothing but a badly constructed reference. Anyway, I got to thinking. Although it is true that such headlines of the type the Liberals have on their site are plentiful enough, one simply does not come across headlines such as the following everyday.

1) "The NDP Caucus Supports Child Pornography?"

2) "Paul Martin Supports Child Pornography?”

And one certainly simply does not come across anything like the following in the body of any news story.

"Today, Martin says he's against child pornography. But his voting record proves

I think the Liberals should sue. After all, the Conservatives never apologized. Indeed, Harper had this to say about the headline.

CTV Asked about the 'taste' of the headline, Harper said: "What's in bad
taste is the Liberal Party's record on child pornography.” Think of the fun the Liberals could have in discovery. Oh the joy!

In closing out, I got to thinking about something else. Will Harper say outside of the comfy confines of the House that the tape was altered? I am sure Mr. Zytaruk wants to know. Maybe someone in the meantime could take the Harper tape to Mr. Dash.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Some thoughts on Cherniak's be Good Bloggers Post

Cherniaks comments are in red. My responses are in black. His entire post can be found here.

>>>> Liberals in Ottawa tell us we're not ready for an election yet.

I agree. The Liberals would get killed if an election was held today.

>>>> What does that mean? Nobody except the decision makers can be sure.

Bullocks! The reasons are as clear as day. The Liberals have no platform to speak of, have dismal fund raising numbers, have nothing in the bank at the riding level, have a leader who still struggles mightily with English, they have not moved up in the polls in 2 years and they punted away the only wedge issue, viz., Afghanistan, that might have worked for them. How you managed to argue against those calling an election without pointing this out is amazing.

>>>>> However, as I argued yesterday, I don't think that should matter to a grassroots Liberal.
It sure as hell should.

>>>>> Instead of asking why we aren't ready, all grassroots Liberals - including bloggers - should ask themselves what they have done to make us ready.

Jason the bloggers are simply pointing out the obvious. The Liberal Party can not continue on like this; their credibility is being undermined daily. That means that however threadbare their platform and however many their problems if the party will not commit to change, then it might as well go now. Things are not going to get any better, indeed only worse. Alternatively the party will have to commit to, at a minimum, a policy convention this summer.

>>>> Let me give you an analogy. There are some Liberal caucus members who like to whisper to media. Many of us bloggers have questioned their judgement about complaining in public. We recognize that it does no good for caucus to question the direction of the Liberal Party. Why is it any different for bloggers?

This strikes me akin to saying the following. There are players on the Canucks who are not shy about publicly criticizing their teammates and management. It is widely recognized that this hurts the team. Why is it any different when Canucks fans criticize management and players alike? The fans criticisms do nothing to help the team win.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Dion’s Environmental Delusion

The environment, i.e., the issue of global warming, will not determine the next election. The Conservatives have muddied the waters, the Liberal track record is poor, and quite frankly this is not the burning issue that many make it out to be. The changes are gradual enough and the effects not injurious in the way an economic downturn or health care cuts would be. The very notion of Dion building a platform around the issue of global warming, especially when he will not consider anything as meaty and concert as a carbon tax, is patently absurd.

The Liberals need to create a so called “wedge issue”, a la SSM by proposing legislation that will divide the public. (To describe SSM as a wedge issue prior to 2003 is to abuse the term. Sure there was mixed feelings about SSM prior to the 2003 Ontario Court decision, but it was hardly on the political radar the way it was after Chr├ętien’s decision not to challenge the ruling.) In the past I have mentioned two such possible wedge issues, viz., marijuana legalization and legalized euthanasia and have said the former has far more potential, but is also much more dangerous. A carbon tax would also fit the bill.

The other thing the Liberals need to do is they need to get back to their socially democratic roots based on a strong commitment to universality. The type of small potatoes grab bag hopelessly diffuse pc special interest liberalism now on offer is uninspiring to say the least. The Liberals need to commit to two or three policies that would further the cause of social democracy in Canada and be an expression of the party’s renewed commitment to universality. In the past I suggested that Liberals commit to giving all Canadians, as is the norm throughout the rest of the Western world, a minimum of 4 weeks of vacation a year. I also recommended that they propose including dental care as part of heath care and introducing a pharmacare program, a la what is available in Britain. To make the latter two seem more economically palatable the Liberals could propose raising the GST back up to 7%. Finally, the Liberals could again revisit the issue of Child Care. The problem is they fumbled the ball the last time around and they seem unwilling to commit to a truly universal system. Peace meal childcare does not address the problem and so does not stand any hope of being a political winner.

Monday, March 03, 2008

The Conservative Lawsuit: Very Clever

There is more than enough evidence on the Harper tape to conclude that Harper sanctioned something that was illegal. However there is not enough evidence to prove that Harper new of the alleged life insurance offer. In fact, Harper said he did not know the details. The Liberals got greedy.

Harper is thus well positioned to win a such a libel suit, should it be allowed to go forward, well all the while being guilty as sin. It should be noted that, should the Conservatives fishing expedition fail, none of the individuals named in the suite are in any danger whatsoever. They did not write the offending article in question and while their quoted words might be libelous if said outside the House the fact remains that they said them in the House.

This new approach is a better tact for the Conservatives than trying to deny the allegations while refusing to attack the integrity of either Donna Cadman, or her late husband. Indeed without outright accusing Donna Cadman of lying, the Conservatives can not very well cite the words of Chuck Cadman as dispositive. After all, if Donna Cadman is telling the truth, either Chuck Cadman lied to CTV or he lied to his wife.

Update, I have looked at the two offending posts again. I changed my mind. I do not think the there is no there for Harper to win a label suit. That said, there is not a enough for the criminal charges to stick.