Monday, July 29, 2013

Warren Kinsella wrong about Trudeau and Marijuana

The U.S. is our largest trading partner. They are also (historically) protectionist and (presently) nowhere near decriminalization, let alone legalization. If we proceed with Trudeau’s policy, we risk further impeding cross-border trade – something we can ill-afford now, or at any time. Protectionist American politicians will use decriminalization as a flimsy pretext to further slow down and/or stop trade with Canada – not to mention impede visits to the U.S. by Canadians.

Trudeau spoke of legalization. So it odd that Kinsella shifts to talking about legalization to talking about decriminalization. No matter; his point is good as far as it goes. I would add to two things though. One given that marijuana possession is misdemeanor offense or decriminalized in most US States, it would be rather rich, even by the lofty standards of congress, for a critical mass of American politicians to really press for a slow down in the face of Canada decriminalizing marijuana possession. Two, the worry is not that protectionist politicians will use decriminalization or legalization to roll back trade per say as it is that they will try to use them to roll back free trade in one direction. They will want to have their cake and it too and given that the Patriot Act had such an effect, they might feel emboldened. No one is going to use this as a pretext to attack NAFTA.

All that being said, the problem is with Kinsella's whole line of reasoning is that it does not make marijuana prohibition any more legitimate in the eyes of the Canadian people. Support for legalization has been above 50% since 2004 and a recent poll in BC put it at 75% there. In BC the last year 4 attorney generals, a large chunk of the medical establishment, a former police chief, the current mayor of Vancouver and 3 former Vancouver mayors came out in favor of legalization. Support for prohibition has all but collapsed in this province and is quickly collapsing in rest of Canada. It is remarkably cynical of Kinsella to council Trudeau to go on locking up Canadians for breaking a law that Trudeau no longer believes in, that Liberal supporters no longer believe in, that the majority of Canadians no longer believe in and that even he no longer believes in. We as a society should not pass laws or keep others in place simply to placate foreign governments. We as a society should not be enforcing laws that no one believes in. This goes especially for laws that would result in Canadians languishing in jail. Any perception that Canada is enforcing laws to met with illegitimate demands of a bullying third party, whoever that may be, is simply poisonous to the health of a functioning democracy.

Trudeau’s staff and supporters are claiming that because two U.S. states (including one border state, Washington) have recently decriminalized, that means this is the way to go, or is in some way safe. They’re wrong. Changes at the state level have caused no small amount of confusion, and recently landed a lot of Canadians in legal trouble. And, the last time I checked, it is the U.S. Customs and Border Services that staffs those border checkpoints – not state-level employees.

Kinsella is wrong about a matter of fact. Washington and Colorado did not decriminalize marijuana. They legalized it. It also does change everything. The last time I checked Obama holds the White House and Washington and Colorado are solidly Democrat. Obama has shown no sign of wanting to go to war with two Democratic States over marijuana legalization yet alone a large portion of the Democratic base and it is hard to fathom him ever wanting to. Moreover, this is an issue that has clearly started to tip not only in Canada but also Stateside. Obama is no drug warrior and as with SSM he was will gladly do about face once the issue grows more ripe.

Trudeau’s motivation, perhaps, is to curry favour with young Canadians. There’s no doubt it’s a policy change that’ll be popular with them. There are, however, two problems with his political analysis: one, young Canadians mostly don’t vote. Two, those who do he already has.

Exactly the same argument was made during the SSM debate. Indeed, the issue was much more polarized down generational lines. However, no one today would say that issue was winning issue for the Conservatives. Politics is far more complicated than simply getting on the right side of likely voters. It turns out that once in blue moon -- almost always with regard hot button issues -- arguments do matter and the SSM debate was just such an issue. The arguments offered up by the defenders of traditional marriage were terrible and over time the Conservatives looked stupid trying to hold back the historical tide. The same will be true with marijuana legalization. The potential for the Liberals does not hinge on whether the the majority of likely voters support it. No the potential lies in the fact that as Conservatives MPs trout out reefer madness myths for months if not years on end a good chunk of the population comes to ruthlessly mock them for it.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Marijuana Legalization: Is Trudeau trying to find a way to turn Gold into Lead?

Trudeau deserves credit for repeating that he favours the legalization of marijuana. It is not only good policy, but also good politics. It is blindly obvious that this issue is more less tipped. What got my hackles up is that the one argument that he gave for why it should be legalized is one pro legalization argument, viz., that teenagers have an easier time scoring weed than booze, that is complete BS. Yes there might be more strangers willing to sell "young people" marijuana than there are strangers willing to sell them alcohol. However, far more "young people" drink than smoke marijuana for one very good reason. They know people who have legally bought the former and they get it off them. They steal alcohol from their parents' liquor cabinet. They ask their older brother to pick up a 6 pack for them etc etc. There are simply not that many teenagers brave enough to go buy illegal drugs. This fact limits the number of teens trying marijuana and it certainly limits the amounts consumed. If marijuana was legalized, they might find it harder to obtain on the street, but it is bound to be more readily available at home.

As for those Liberals who bemoan that Trudeau is playing right into the Conservatives plans, remind them that when it comes to crime their I smoked it but did not inhale advice has been heeded for 7 years now and during that time the Conservatives have been beating the Liberals like circle monkeys. It should also be pointed out that many of those same people also advised caution when it came to SSM -- the one issue that Liberals won handily over the last 7 years. Marijuana legalization is not like abortion. It is like SSM. The defenders of the prohibition do not have a leg to stand on.

To wit:

The US will Never Let it happen

Yes Canadians understand some Americans would not be pleased about legalization. As such, Harper's musings about legalizing marijuana causing trouble at the border seem reasonable enough. The problem is this does not make marijuana prohibition any more legitimate in the eyes of the Canadian people. Support for legalization has been above 50% since 2004 and a recent poll in BC put it at 75% there. In BC the last year 4 attorney generals, a large chunk of the medical establishment, a former police chief, the current mayor of Vancouver and 3 former Vancouver mayors came out in favor of legalization. Support for prohibition has all but collapsed in this province. Whether you think the marijuana issue an important one is somewhat beside the point. We as a society should not pass laws or keep others in place simply to placate foreign governments. We as a society should not be enforcing laws that no one believes in. This goes especially for laws that would result in Canadians languishing in jail. Any perception that Canada is enforcing laws to met with illegitimate demands of a bullying third party, whoever that may be, is simply poisonous to the health of a functioning democracy.

All that being said, it was one thing for opponents of legalization to employ the let us not piss off the Yanks argument in 2004; it is quite another for them to dust this argument off now and act as if nothing has changed Stateside. Colorado and Washington State just voted to legalize marijuana. This changes everything. Indeed, it is hard to fathom Obama going to war with Colorado and Washington State over the marijuana legalization yet alone large portion of the Democratic base. Moreover, this is an issue that is clearly started to tip not only in Canada but also Stateside.

Obama's ability to push back is limited for other reasons as well. He freely admits to having marijuana in the past ("I inhaled frequently. That was the point") and his marijuana use is not a part of some redemption narrative, a la George Bush. It was a path he choice not to continue going down. Drug use was never presented as a demon he had to overcome yet alone one he still struggles with the way an alcoholic does with drink. This would leave him open to the charge of hypocrisy. Far more importantly though, the war and drugs, especially with regard to marijuana, has had a profound impact on the African American community in the States. If Obama was to toe the standard line, he would be in a world of hurt politically. The African American community would not, of course, abandon him, but they would be unhappy and their unhappiness would have the potential to throw his whole second term out of whack politically. His whole message of being a force for change would be called into question.

Finally, least we forget it was Obama that set help set the wheels of legalization in motion in the first place by declaring that he would not crack down on medical marijuana back in 2009. For you see, unlike in Canada, in California, for example, one does not have to be afflicted with a particular aliment to be eligible for medical marijuana. A doctor can proscribe marijuana for whatever they see fit. Needless to say, such a system is ripe for abuse and the Bush administration was right to see medical marijuana program as a potential Trojan horse. But Obama let the wooden horse to be wheeled into California and other States anyway. In so doing, Obama has allowed the medical marijuana industry in California and elsewhere to grow to the point there is no saving prohibition from Odysseus. There are more "medical" marijuana dispensaries in LA than Starbucks. It is not a question of if marijuana will be legalized in the US it is matter of when. Canada had best start preparing.

Talking points:

1) It is not matter of if the US will legalize marijuana, it is matter of when. Furthermore, this is likely going to happen sooner rather than later and Canada had start preparing.

2) We do pass laws or keep others in place in order placate foreign governments. This goes especially for laws that would result in Canadians languishing in jail.

Potent Pot

Potent pot is more myth than reality.

However, even if one assumes that potent pot is a reality it is certainly nothing to be concerned about. Indeed, saying that potent pot is reason for keeping marijuana illegal is akin to saying that alcohol should be banned because gin has higher alcohol content than beer. It makes no sense. The pharmacological affects of consuming 1 "chemically supercharged" joint, as various US attorneys like to say, versus x number of "dad's joints" would be no different if the amount of THC consumed is the same. As for consumption, just as people do not drink the same volume of gin as beer, the higher the THC level in pot the less people consume. Hence, ironically more potent pot may be a welcome development. After all, one of the most prominent health effect related to marijuana, if not the most, is that it is usually smoked. The more potent the pot, the less people have to smoke to achieve the same high. Lester Grinspoon of Harvard Medical School concurs, so does Mitch Earleywine of the University of Southern California and so does UCLA's Mark Kleiman.

That said, if potency is the concern, then it should be legalized. After all, the only way to regulate the potency of pot is to legalize it.

Finally, the attempt to scare parents that have grown up on marijuana by distinguishing between potent pot and “your dad's marijuana” is too clever by half. It begs the following question. If today's marijuana is truly different in kind from "dads marijuana", would it be okay to legalize "dad's marijuana", i.e., low potency pot?

Talking Points

1) Saying that potent pot is reason for keeping marijuana illegal is akin to saying that alcohol should be banned because gin has higher alcohol content than beer. It makes no sense.

2) If today's marijuana is truly different in kind from "dads marijuana", would it be okay to legalize "dad's marijuana", i.e., low potency pot?

Gateway Drug

Researchers have rightly noted that people who have try marijuana are statistically more likely try other illicit drugs. This gave raise to the theory that there was something about marijuana that encouraged drug experimentation. Marijuana, it was alleged, is a gateway drug. This, in turn, was given as one more reason to keep the drug illegal. However, the gateway drug theory has until recently fallen on hard times for lack of an intelligible mechanism. The problem was that there was no coherent explanation for why marijuana would lead people to experiment with other drugs. Without this explanation doubt was cast relationship being more than mere correlation. That said, in recent years researchers have breathed new life into the theory, albeit with a sociological twist. According to the new version, it is not marijuana's pharmacological properties that serve as a gateway, but rather marijuana's illegal status. Specifically in the process of illegally procuring marijuana, users are introduced to the criminal elements with access to other illicit drugs and hence it is the forged black market relationship between dealer and buyer that serves as gateway.

In this context it should be noted that when the Dutch partially legalized the sale of marijuana, heroin and cocaine use went down despite an initial increase in marijuana use. Dutch use of hard drugs remains well below the European average.

Talking Point

Every time someone goes to buy marijuana they come into contact with criminal elements with access to other hard drugs. This is your gateway. When Holland decriminalized consumption and made it available in coffee shops, heroin and cocaine use went down.

Schizophrenia and Marijuana

Epidemiological studies have consistently failed to show any kind of positive correlation between marijuana use and schizophrenia. Despite a massive increase in the number of Australians consuming the drug since the 1960s, Wayne Hall of the University of Queensland found no increase in the number of cases of schizophrenia in Australia. Mitch Earleywine of the University of Southern California similarly found the same with regard to the US population and Oxford's Leslie Iversen found the same regard to the population in the UK. According to Columbia's Alan Brown, "If anything, the studies seem to show a possible decline in schizophrenia from the '40s and the ‘ 50,"

Talking Point

There has been an astronomical increase in the number of pot smokers since the 1950s and no increase in the rate of schizophrenia whatsoever.

The gangs will simply move on to other drugs

The market for marijuana positively dwarfs the market for all other drugs combined and marijuana is far and away gangs' biggest money maker. The notion that the gangs would simply shift focus and thereby maintain the same levels of profitability is absurd. Comparable demand for other kinds of drugs is simply not there. Moreover, such an argument rests upon a mistaken assumption. Namely, it assumes that the sure size and scope of the marijuana industry is limiting the distribution of other kinds of drugs. The reverse is true. Marijuana profits and sometimes even marijuana itself are providing the seed capital the gangs need to diversify operations (e.g., cocaine, heroin, human trafficking and guns) and to expand those other operations. This is one of the main reasons why we need to nip this in the bud.

Talking Point

It is not like the gangs have access to capital markets. Marijuana profits and sometimes even marijuana itself are providing the seed capital the gangs need to diversify operations (e.g., cocaine, heroin, human trafficking and guns) and to expand those other operations. This is one of the main reasons why we need to nip this, pardon the pun, in the bud.

The Black Market will live on

It is one thing to illegally sell a legally produced product and make a profit, e.g., black market cigarettes. It is quite another thing to illegally produce and sell a product (e.g., moonshine) in market where there is legal competitors. The reason is simple. The illegality of the product means that your production and distribution costs are significantly higher. Also demand for your product is always going to be less. People want to know what they buying and consuming. So when given the choice of buying an illegally produced product versus a legally produced product they are going to go with the later. (There is one notable exception and that is when an illegally produced product is successfully passed off as a legal one, e.g., fake brand name goods). That is why no matter how much Canadians drank during the time of American prohibition, I am sure that it never crossed the RCMP’s mind that American moonshine might become a competitor of Molson’s.

Talking point

Molson executives do not worry about moonshine eating into their market share. Demand for illegal products is not what it is for legal ones.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Moron Mike Gillis Strikes Again

Some Gillis apologists have said that the Canucks did not loose much by trading one star goalie and keeping the other. The problem is that Luongo is no star goalie. He is above average at best and average at worst. This partly explains the lack of interest in him in the trade market. He has the 28th best save percentage last year and 12th best the year before. Once more when staked up against Schneider his numbers simply do not compare. Schneider's save percentage was 21 points better than Lou's this year and 18 the year before. Lou has always had his flaws. He is a terrible shoot out goalie.

2013 .643
2011-2012 .595
2010-2011 .538
2009-2010 643

By comparison, this is how Lundqvist's numbers break down.

2013 .760
2011-2012 .720
2010-2011 .848
2009-2010 682

He is terrible at handling the puck. And he is vulnerable on the rap around. Above all else, Luongo has tendency to melt down in ways that other so called top goalies simply do not do. These flaws still exist and Lou's skills are eroding fast enough such that they will only become all the glaring in the future.

As for trading a stud goalie for the 9th overall pick, a 20 year history of 9th overall picks reveals who truly stupid that is.

1989 John Marshall D: Best season 11 points 67 career points
1990 John Slaney D: Best season 17 points 91 career points
1991 Patrick Poulin F: Best season 51 points 235 career points
1992 Robert Petrovicky F: Best season 17 points 65 career points
1993 Todd Harvey F: Best season 31 points 223 career points
1994 Brett Lindros F: Best season 4 points 7 career points
1995 Klye Mclaren F: Best season 25 points 207 career points
1996 Ruslan Salei D: Best season 32 points 204 career points
1997 Nick Boynton D: Best season 30 points 144 career points
1998 Michael Rupp D: Best season 19 points 98 career points
1999 Jamie Lundmark F: Best season 19 points 99 career points
2000 Brent Krahn G: Played one period
2001 Tumo Ruutu F: Best season 57 points 299 career points
2002 Peter Takicek F: Played 3 games did not record a point
2003 Dion Phanuef D: Best season 60 points 340 career points
2004 Ladislav Smid D: Best season 15 points 59 career points
2005 Brandon Lee D: Best season 8 points 36 career points
2006 James Sheppard F: Best season 24 points 53 career points
2007 Logan Colture F: Best season 65 points 167 career points
2008 Josh Bailey F: Best season 35 points 139 career points
2009 Jared Cowan D: Best season 17 points 18 career points

Friday, May 31, 2013

Was Nigel Wright Reimbursed?

Was Nigel Wright reimbursed for the money he gave Mike Duffy? If so, where did money come from?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Abolish The Senate

Many Liberals, like many Canadians, are of the view that either the Senate should be abolished or it should be elected. This only goes to show that many Liberals have not given the matter much thought. It also shows just how abysmally bad the media coverage of the issue has been and that the media have focused almost entirely on the feasibility of changing the senate.

Canada is already a de facto unicameral state. Yes just like the queen, constitutionally senators have all kinds of power and every once in a blue moon the Senate has stalled major pieces of legislation (e.g., free trade and the GST). However the aforementioned instances of stalling are so rare they are the exceptions that prove just how "ineffective" the senate truly is. Moreover, no senate I can think of has pursued a legislative agenda of its own accord; opposing legislation is one thing; purposing legislation is quite another. The reason the senate is not an "effective" body is that senators are not elected and as such lack legitimacy. Furthermore, senators are members of legitimate federal political parties and the parties that they belong to are loath to have their unelected members exercise real authority least their actions undermine the party. Finally, the fact that it is the ruling federal party and not, say, provincial governments that appoint senators defines a clear pecking order, with the Senate answerable to the House.

To try to argue as the supporters of a Triple E senate do that the current senate is both undemocratic and ineffective makes no sense. A body that adds nothing to the genuinely "effective" process can not take away anything either. The notion that the senate is undemocratic because it is unelected is as absurd as leveling the same criticism against the British monarchy. Both should scrapped yes. However, both are decorative.

The difference between electing senators and abolishing the senate is thus huge. It is the difference between abolishing an expensive debating society and transforming that debating society into a intellectual and democratic abortion.

The problem with an elected senate starts with implementation. Being unable to reform the Senate in one fell swoop, Harper has proposed electing Senators piece meal. Under the Conservative plan, new senators would be elected and would be limited to serving out a 8 year term. The elephant in the living room is that if the senate's lack of effective powers flows from the senate's lack of legitimacy, then electing senators might provide the senate with a degree of legitimacy it currently does not hold. One problem with proceeding thusly is that current senators are free to serve until the age of 75. As a result, Harper's actions could either transform an unelected political body with no real power into a largely unelected political body with real political power or commit Canadians to the farcical and expensive act of electing people to office who hold no real power. Always content to play the Tin Man and Lion to Conservatives scarecrow, the Liberals, with the notable exception of Stephane Dion, remain largely mum on the subject.

Of course the problems with an elected senate go far beyond problems with how to implement it.

First arguments for regional representation rests on a false contrast; seats in the House of Commons are supposed to be assigned on basis of population, but in actuality that is not the case. Consider the 905. There are currently 4,356,617 in the 905 and there are currently 32 seats for an average of just over 136, 144 people per riding. There are 5 ridings with over a 190,000 people in the 905, Bramalea - Gore - Malton (192,020) Brampton West (204,146) Halton (203,437), Oak Ridges - Markham (228,997) and Vaughan (196,068). By contrast there are 4,676,552 people in Sask, Man, NWT, Nuv, Yuk, PEI, NS, NFLD, and NB and there are 62 seats for an average of 75,428 people per riding. Moreover, there is but one riding in the 10, St John's East (100,559) with over 100,000 people. Given current growth trends, the 2016 census might show there to be more people in the 905 than the aforementioned provinces and territories. Now 15 seats are being added in Ontario, but Harper would have to give Ontario almost 70 seats to make things equal. 15 is just not enough. Of course, the problems do not stop there. Not only are the smaller provinces grossly overrepresented so too are rural areas in most provinces. For example, the riding of has Labrador has 26,728 people as compared to the riding of St John's East which has 100,559, Kenora has 55,977 and suburban riding of Oak Ridges - Markham 228,997, Miramichi has 51,996 and Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe 98,539, Kootenay - Columbia has 88,026 - Port Kells 160,129.

Second, simply by virtue of having provincial jurisdiction and provincial representation people living in Canada’s less populated provinces already have a means of leveraging far more attention and support from the Federal government than their numbers warrant. Danny Williams had the government's attention in ways that the mayors of Surrey, Red Deer, Brant, Fredericton and Churchill did not even though we are talking about equal number of seats in both cases. There is more. There is also the asinine Canadian tradition of handing out cabinet posts based not on talent but region.

The third reason is that while one person one vote is bedrock principle of any democracy, one province one senate vote is something else entirely. People, not provinces, deserve equal representation. A province is no more or less than the people that make up that province. Giving the 140,204 in PEI the power to determine everything under provincial jurisdiction, provincial representation and 4 MPs well all the while giving the 228,997 residents of Oak Ridges - Markham (228,997) one MP is bad enough as it is. Piling on and giving the 140,204 people in PEI the same number of “effective” senators, as per the American Triple E Senate model, as 12,851,821 Ontarians is beyond stupid and grossly undemocratic. Equally silly is having one "effective" Senator for every 75,117 New Brunswick residents (10 senators in total) versus one Senator for every 733,343 BC residents (6 senators in total). And that is what the current configuration gives us.

Four, as Benjamin Franklin put it, having two equally matched houses makes as much sense as tying two equally matched horses to either end of a buggy and having them both pull. Having two houses is not only a lobbyist's dream, it is a recipe for political gridlock and pork barrel politics. The only thing that would be worse is if one needed 60% of the votes in the senate to overcome a filibuster.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Team Garneau Answers Survey

I sent out the following survey to candidates and Stuart from Team Garneau was kind enough to answer.

1) Canada lags behind behind virtually every other Western nation in terms of the number vacation days its citizens are guaranteed. Is it time that Canada bridge the vacation gap?

EU minimum is 4 weeks Switzerland 4 weeks New Zealand 4 weeks Norway 5 weeks

Stuart: Marc believes that it is essential to reconcile a more productive Canada with a better quality of life. However, at this time idont think he would commit to support a higher minimum vacation time, and believes that a larger national discussion with the provinces is required that benefits all parties equally.

Koby: Let me say again. Canada lags far behind the rest of the Western World in this regard. Yet Marc believes that Corporate interests and right wing premiers need to be consulted before bringing Canada in line with everyone else.

2) Should Canada legalize some form of euthanasia?

Stuart: This a difficult and controversial issue, and one that will require much more study. I think he is empathizes for the need for it but isn't totally there yet. As a man of science, Marc believes that all policy should flow first from a solid base of research, analysis and debate.

Koby: Yes policy should flow from a solid base of research, analysis and debate. And if this was Liberation therapy we were taking about and this would be perfectly good answer. However we are talking about euthanasia and there are whole sections of university libraries devoted to the subject. Marc might not have familiarized himself with literature, but it is absurd to claim that there is not enough been said on the subject to have an opinion.

3) Do you support the Legalization of marijuana?

Stuart: Marc supports the legalization of marijuana. Marc understands that rigorous scientific study is required before making any legislative decisions on the decriminalisation and legalization of marijuana but Marc fully supports the idea of regulating the marijuana industry in a manner similar to the alcohol and tobacco industries.

Koby: Good.

4) Would you scarp the F-35 contract?

Stuart: Marc has publicly questioned the government's position on the F-35 contract, and believes that the procurement process must be transparent and detailed. Should the F-35 fighter prove to be the best for Canada's defence purposes, then it should be procured. But there needs be a open tender process first.

5) Would you scrap the temporary foreign worker program?

Stuart: Marc believes we must do a complete review of the temporary foreign workers program. The Conservatives had vastly expanded that program and there are serious questions on how many workers are coming and their treatment when they get here.

Koby: Most important of all is why the government is paying to have hundreds of thousands of unskilled foreigner guest workers brought in for the sole purpose of driving down wages.

6) Every election there are a slew of grassroots efforts to get young people to vote in greater numbers. All have been miserable failures.

Getting young people to the polls is vital for the future health of Canadian democracy. Many Canadians in their 20s will move into their 30s never having voted and it remains to be seen just how many will start voting.

Do you support mandatory voting as the solution to this problem?

Stuart: To be honest, we've never asked him that question! He proposes we reform our democracy to a preferential ballot to make our first past the post system more representative

7) This is two part question. 1) Do you support reinstating the per vote subsidy? 2) If so, will you promise to help pay for such a subsidy by no longer making contributions to political parties tax deductible?

Stuart: Again, don't know if he would bring back the per vote subsidy.

8) Will you end the charitable status for overtly political organizations such as the Fraser institute and Manning Center?

Stuart: I don't think Marc would comment specifically on those two organizations.

Koby: I was not asking him to. They were just given as examples. I was asking if Marc would end the charitable status for overtly political organizations -- organizations,I might add, that do no charitable work whatsoever.

9) How much your vote counts for depends whether you reside near or in a major urban center. For example there are 228,997 people in Oak Ridge Markham and mere 55,977 In Kenora. There are 26, 728 In Labrador and 100, 559 in St. John's East. Would you support a measure calling for there to be equal representation within provinces?

Marc supports making sure our tidings better reflect population changes. That has been at the heart of the ongoing discussions on seat redistribution. It is controversial though!.

Koby: God knows why. If you live in or around Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver you are getting doubly screwed. Compared to ridings in other provinces you grossly underrepresented and you are grossly underrepresented when compared to rural ridings within your province. It is high time this stopped. There is only so much that can be done to address the largest provinces underrepresentation. However, there is no reason why an act can not be passed to insure that each riding within a province has roughly the same number of people.

10) Consider the following argument for the gun registry:

The number of legal gun owners in Canada, is huge (1.85 million) and with any large population certain very accurate predictions can be made about their future behavior. One thing we can know for sure is that a small percentage of "law-abiding duck hunters and farmers" will be convicted of a crime sometime in the future and that a small percentage will develop a mental disorder that will render them unsuitable for gun ownership at least for period of time. Now, even though this number is small in percentage terms, in absolute terms the numbers are quite large, in the 10s of thousands. Enter the gun registry. It made it easier for authorities to seize the guns of people who should no longer have them. Why? Because the onus is on the gun owner in question to produce any registered weapons. If the police do not have proof that someone owns any unrestricted guns, how can they demand that he produce them?

Do you find fault with this argument?

Stuart: As to your gun registry question, it is Marc’s stated position that the long-gun registry will not be brought back. Although supported by a majority of police associations across the country and by victims groups, it was strenuously opposed by many Canadians in rural areas across Canada. Marc has publicly stated that it is not his intention to spend more money to bring it back. Marc intends to focus on ensuring the protection of Canadians from gun violence through measures that will result in stricter penalties for those who commit crimes with a gun. As well, Marc proposes stronger interdiction measures at the border to prevent firearms trafficking, along with taking action to prohibit weapons that could be turned into assault rifles.

Koby: That is not what I asked. I asked if he found fault with the above argument. Apparently, Marc's commitment to rigorous debate stops when he feels the need to mirror the opinions of Justin Trudeau. Leaving aside a very weak legitimacy argument, the notion that Canada could reduce gun related violence by imposing tougher penalties on individuals who have committed gun related crimes is ludicrous. It certainly has not worked down south. Such measures also fail to address the issue of gun related suicides. The registry servers two purposes. One, "Studies have shown that in the US, states with both licensing and registration (versus one or the other) had fewer guns diverted from legal to illegal markets." Two, as explained above, it makes it easier to take guns away from gun owners who should no longer have them.

It should also be pointed out that calling for all hand guns to be registered, but not long guns makes about much sense as saying only pick up trucks should have valid registration but not cars.

11) Given the support for campaign spending limits, will you support a ban or least a limit on pre writ political advertising?

Pre-election, and indeed all government advertising is something that clearly needs to be looked at. The governing party in power shouldn't be allowed to spend taxpayers money on what has clearly become partisan advertisements and we should limit political advertising between elections. No one needs partisan spam!

12) What was the last two books you read?

13) What was the last two movies you saw?

14) What is your favorite non Canadian vacation destination?

Stuart: His favourite non-Canadian vacation destination? Space, of course! ;)

Koby: I do not know that he went there for vacation! But I like this answer.

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Judiciary Needs to be Remade

The moment of truth has arrived. The recent decision to grant status to non status Indians and Metis is just the tip of a very big iceberg. Bigger battles lie ahead. Given current trends the judiciary looks like it will not only grant Native peoples a veto over virtually every resource project in the country, but also ensure billions of royalties that now flow to the provinces will go to the bands instead. Furthermore, should the Supreme Court's pattern of treasonous behavior continue -- we are talking nation to nations after all -- and they cement Phelan's idiocy into law, race relations would be set back several generations and the feds and provinces will be out billions. For once the distinction between non-status and status Indian goes away so too does the ability of the crown to impose any income or excise taxes on native Canadians and Metis. On the one side will be 1.3 million native Canadians and a yet to be determined number Metis. On the other side, a shrinking number of work age Canadians will face a double whammy. Not only will they bare the financial burnt of all those baby boomers retiring, but they will also be picking up the tab for the only demographic group in the country with a fertility rate way above replacement levels. Invariably tax evasion amongst this later group will become endemic as chances for tax evasion increase exponentially and as they inevitably loose all faith in the system.

Extreme measures need to be taken. The government must remake the judiciary. Above all else, the government must remake the Supreme Court to insure that decisions like Phelan's do not become the law of the land. If that means politicizing the courts the way they are down south, so be it. Decades of judicial idiocy must come to an end.