Saturday, June 30, 2007

Is Deseronto the chokepoint of Ontario's economy?

Yesterday there was a Day of Action by First Nations people which included the closing of Highway 401 and the main railway line at Deseronto by a group led by activist Shawn Brant. I'm not going to go into the specifics of the rights or wrongs of the protest in this post but rather discuss the fact that Canadian National Railway declared that $100 million dollars worth of goods were blockaded due to the protest. Presumably that's $100 million every day the line closes. 5,000 VIA Rail passengers had to make other plans.

In recent years CN and CP have been allowed to abandon pieces of railway infrastructure. I don't have a problem with that per se, it doesn't matter to me who owns them, but they should not be allowed to simply be lifted or rust among weeds while the remaining lines become more and more critical. The Government of Ontario should be buying up these lines to either keep them open or to at least preserve the alignment in public ownership so that when demand for rail increases as I believe it will due to Kyoto pressures, the lines can be swiftly recommissioned.

Specifically, I would like to see the reopening of an active railway link between Toronto, Peterborough and Ottawa, paralleling the Highway 7 corridor on part or all of the old Canadian Pacific route, to allow railway companies to send freight through in the event of a natural disaster or other closure of the Lakeshore route.

In regular service the link could carry electric or diesel high speed express services such as TGV or ICE-TD trains to reduce the impact of flights between Toronto and Ottawa with a stop at Peterborough. The current four hour VIA Rail service could be reduced to two and freights could run during the night to allow maintenance windows on the Lakeshore. This would not necessarily mean stopping service to Ottawa via the Lakeshore since the targetted passengers would be those using airlines at present.

Microsoft PR is so easily mocked

Via commandN, a parody of Microsoft Surface.

Note to Irish Green Party - stop making fools out of yourself

The Green Party are afraid of the Progressive Democrats sitting near them in that Dail in case they are appear to be "in the PDs laps" or "having the PDs elevated over them". Here's a tip Gormley, Cuffe et al - when the next election comes some of your disgruntled members will remember you going into Governments with the Great Satans without seeing where you sit on Oireachtas Report. Those votes are gone. Your job is to run the country efficiently enough to get voters to replace them - and even then FF will get more credit than you because that's how it works in successful coalition governments. Just ask the Labour Party.

The three-ply no-fly lists in Canada bag a couple of kids

The CBC reports that two kids with the same name, Alistair Butt, have been held for security screening when attempting to fly via Air Canada by a no-fly list but it's not clear if it is the Canadian, American or the Air Canada list. The kid from Ontario is 15 and the one from Saskatchewan is 10. Hopefully the latter kid is related to Brent Butt as since Harper got his guest spot on Corner Gas it would be nice to see him repaid for it with a sharp commentary from the Prairies.

Transport Canada, predictably, were damn all use:
Allan Kagedan (...) advised the Butt families to appeal to the organizations operating all three lists.

"You can approach all three, I suppose, and they can guide you in terms of doing what's needed to try to avoid problems in the future," he said.

He would not confirm which list contains the Alistair Butt name.
I suppose the first place to start would be to try WestJet - that would eliminate one.

The Saskatoon Star-Phoenix (hat tip Creekside via the CBC blog list) hears from another TC flack:
Julia Ukrintz would not comment on the case, but she reiterated the point that Canada's "no-fly" list was not in effect until after the family travelled. And she said a traveler is flagged only when the name, birthdate and gender are identical to those on the Canadian list.
That seems to indicate that it may in fact have been the American list or the AC list if we are to assume that the Canadian government doesn't screw up...

No-fly lists should be limited to persons convicted or wanted for crimes such that a person would not be refused flight so much as arrested and charged. The lists should able to be queried by members of the public through their local police to check they aren't on it and there should be an expeditious way to contest the listing.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Interesting article on the City's farcical handling of urban planning

Philip Preville's blog post pointed me to his article in Toronto Life which is in part a brief history of the recent contentious development/gentrification on West Queen West/Queen West West - including a mention of the Zeidlers which reminded me of having recently watched "Last Call at the Gladstone Hotel". The blog post expands on the article, including that the most recent City Planning and Growth Management Committee was inquorate with only three members showing up for a presentation by a visiting British guest speaker.

I recommend Preville's pieces to those who are following the Miller regime's stewardship of development in Toronto. Some of the information would have been familiar to those who follow Christopher Hume's columns but this piece brought together a number of interesting strands.

Preville notes that the last time a Chief Planner went before the board, Paul Bedford spent a week successfully stopping a waterfront Home Depot. That was nine years ago. Just such a fight may be imminent with the proposal for a SmartCentre - likely to include a WalMart - on Eastern Avenue. The bad news for Leslieville residents is that John Barber has taken up their cause - I wouldn't like to bet on his strike rate not least because of the attitude he takes to OMB in his piece in contrast to Preville's.

Among other tidbits it mentions that the City is routinely breaking the law in respect of planning applications (failure to respond to an application in six months is grounds for an OMB absent any other reason - the City has declared itself unable to respond in less than nine). It tells us that the City Planner was offered extra staff by Councillor Kyle Rae but Tyndorf bottled it when asked to defend the need at Budget time. It also makes clear the pivotal role Councillors have in ensuring the City does not get hosed by developers and the consequences when inexperience and delegation means this role isn't fulfilled. Even when the City appeals to OMB their arguments are unorganised and cannot be heeded even before a sympathetic board member.

Retired Planner Bedford also recommends the revival of the City Planning Board, which would be a separate commission and employ planning staff directly - something he has called for in other interviews. However, its previous composition of councillors and citizens is unlikely to be repeated, since Toronto councillors are unwilling to release the levers of power as seen with the abolition of citizen TTC commissioners and the City's refusal to make their citizen-only appointments to the Port Authority.

In Brown's Britain - Olympics more important than Defence

Lucky they are only fighting two wars I suppose so that Secretary of State for Defence Des Browne has time to do another job. Presumably communities in Scotland dependent on defence facilities can feel immune to closures now.

Meanwhile the Olympics is more of a strain than two wars as Tessa Jowell is not being asked to double-job.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

CBC's The National airs shocking expose on political pandering to violent separatists

A week after the unveiling of the Air India 182 memorial in Etobicoke, tonight's National featured a piece by Terry Milewski (text summary here) on the involvement of NDP, Liberal and Tory politicians with Sikh parades in BC and Ontario. Some participants and floats in the parade glorified members of various banned organisations which seek the secession of "Khalistan" from the Punjab area of India and Pakistan such as Babbar Khalsa, and International Sikh Youth Federation.

In the case of the Surrey parade, both of the acquitted in the Air India Trial present - and the Premier of British Columbia. The Liberal, Tory and NDP MPs challenged on their presence issued supportive statements but later flip flopped - as did the Premier.

Some of the "martyrs" were linked to the mass murder of those aboard Air India 182 near Akahista (which had a huge impact in Cork then and still reverberates today) and the killing of Indira Gandhi - an incident celebrated in a Toronto area Sikh publication linked to the World Sikh Organisation. Among those interviewed for the piece were Tarek Fatah, who had by then left the Muslim Congress and was a Rae organiser and Ujjal Dosanjh, the latter having been severely beaten in 1985 for speaking out against Sikh extremists.

Of the three parties, the Liberals seem to have more questions to answer. The allegations of Sikh block voting against Bob Rae for his report on Air India 182 and in favour of Gerard Kennedy and Stephane Dion were also brought up again. Meanwhile Dalton McGuinty's government has handed out 750,000 dollars to temples with either links to banned organisations or which have been accused of financial mismanagement as part of his handouts to various religious organisations. The sunset of temporary provisions in the Anti Terrorism Act which would have allowed further RCMP investigations, opposition to which was spearheaded by the Liberals, was also mentioned.

Of the four major parties it is ironic that the Quebec separatists are the only ones who do not have serious questions to answer - whether that is because Sikhs primarily settled in Ontario and BC may or may not be the reason for this.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Should they "stop that Polish chatter"?

The Times notes that someone forgot to tell the Polish Prime Minister, as in "the Germans" episode of Fawlty Towers, "don't mention the war"
Speaking from Warsaw, he claimed Poland deserved a better deal on voting rights because of Germany’s “incomprehensible crimes” against his country between 1939 and 1945.

“It was the Germans who inflicted unimaginable injury, terrible harm, on Poles – incomprehensible crimes – and Poles like Germans, while Germans do not like Poles,” he said.
Another reason if the EU ever need more why voting rights should be by mathematical formula rather than horsetraded. Meanwhile the Sun delights over this incident, calling the Poles "plucky".
PM Jaroslaw Kaczynski fumed: “We are demanding one thing, that we get back what was taken from us.

“If Poland had not to live through the years of 1939-45, Poland would be today looking at the demographics of a country of 66million.

“It was the Germans who inflicted unimaginable injury, terrible harm, on Poles — incomprehensible crimes — and Poles like Germans while Germans do not like Poles.”
Basil Fawlty would have been proud:
Guest:"Will you stop mentioning the War?"
Basil: "You started it"
Guest: "We did not start it"
Basil: "Yes you did, you invaded Poland."
I wonder how British newspapers would take a similar demand from Ireland for more votes because of the British handling of the Famine in the 1840s - sure the EU wasn't around then either but Mr Kaczynski didn't give a cut-off.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Toronto Council steps back from the brink on support for the Canadian Forces.

There are certain similarities between the civilian emergency services and the military, not least that they tend to be as much vocations as jobs, rarely overpaid or undertasked and in our heart of hearts those of us who aren't members of either find it hard to see what the attraction is, at least to the point of signing up for a contract. It's not altogether surprising then that members of Toronto's Fire and Emergency Medical Services organised the placing of "support the troops" decals on their vehicles.

That the Canadian Forces are involved in a harder task than at any time since Korea is surely undebatable. Yet there is a cohort of people in Toronto and Canada generally that oppose the war - fair enough - but target the Forces in doing so. The Forces, as I have noted previously, are politically directed. It is in my opinion perfectly logically coherent to wear a yellow ribbon while holding a sign calling for an end to the Afghan deployment - although those who are on the right would probably quibble with that.

Toronto City Council let itself down badly today, and none more so that Hizzoner, Mayor David Miller. He came out with a ludicrous statement that while Toronto's public servants could support the troops, it could only do so for a one-year non-renewable term. What this really meant is that he was annoyed that Fire and EMS got this through originally but at the first maintenance interval off they would go again. Councillors like Janet Davis and Pam McConnell weighed in. I was disappointed with this statement
"It's being used in a political way to say that you're either with us or against us," Coun. Adam Vaughan said. "You either support the troops or you don't support the troops and if you don't put a yellow ribbon on your car, what does that say about you?"
But it's not your car Adam, is it. No one is suggesting that councillors do this, just that they permit the Emergency Services to do what their unions want to show support.

Death intervened in the form of the roadside bomb which killed Cpl. Stephen Frederick Bouzane, Pte. Joel Vincent Wiebe and Sgt. Christos Karigiannis, 3rd Battalion PPCLI. A proposal to "disappear" the decals, having rapidly become public debate was now threatening to be a PR disaster. Miller reversed himself at the vote in Council which was recorded as unanimous because the left wing skulked outside the door rather than be true to their principals. McConnell is cited as having done so in various media reports, and I read in one place that Davis (who was on record as opposing the decals) did also but I don't have corroboration for that. According to this there were 39 yes votes which means six councillors either absent from the entire proceedings or just that vote.

Memo to any Councillors who skulked outside - you get paid to at least sit in the chamber during votes of this nature even if your concern for your re-election won't permit you to vote no in a losing cause.

It should also be noted by them that just because a minority opposes something doesn't make it cause for the City of Toronto to panic, just as it was when Rob Ford ranted against the City's support of Pride Week.

Porter Airlines crosses the border

A good week for Porter, a bad one for Air Canada. Its Jazz subsidiary was denied summary judgement in their attempt to regain access to Toronto City Centre and must issue a formal statement of claim within 30 days and submit to discovery processes (which would disclose Jazz' strategy towards the Island Airport). Failure to do so would mean they would be exposed to costs - Porter claim to have spend $1m so far.

This was followed by the US Department of Transportation decision to allow Porter to operate to the US. This was opposed by Air Canada and some US airlines but DOT decided that what the Port Authority did to Air Canada was not their concern, and all that mattered was their relationship with American carriers - noting that TPA came to an agreement with US Airways, irrespective that US did not take up the service.

Porter is expected to begin service to Newark in Q4 2007 or Q1 2008 but are expected to serve other US destinations. CEO Robert Deluce had recently announced plans to finance the purchase of the next six aircraft in their firm order with Bombardier. Personally I'm hoping he names one of them "John Barber".

Monday, June 18, 2007

Liberal plan fails to meet Kyoto targets

Ontarians will only meet 1990 levels of CO2 by 2014, according to the McGuinty government. Meanwhile they are throwing $600 million at developing green cars. Maybe Ontario would have reached 1990 levels sooner if the Liberals hadn't previously thrown $500m at cars that were distinctly less green.

The fact that Buzz Hargrove likes this plan probably means this is a handout for Detroit's plants to go green rather than a further assistance to companies like Toyota and Honda who have done the heavy lifting to go for even more efficient cars, but they are more averse to unions like Buzz's.

Friday, June 15, 2007

McGuinty's welcome (and conveniently timed) transit plan

We don't know where the money's coming from yet (but that Health Tax is definitely staying now since the Libs haven't the stones to hike fuel taxes) but some of the McGuinty $17.5 billion, 902km plan (on the Premier's website, not Transportation!) is not just welcome but stunning
  • the new routes of Crosstown GO, Bolton GO, and Havelock GO
  • the extensions to Lakeshore East, Richmond Hill and Stouffville
  • Transit City suddenly has a pulse
  • Electrification of Lakeshore opens the door to future electric VIA Rail or electric local rail in the 416
Other bits I'm less enthused by - 
  • most important - no sign of a ministerial signature yet on the Simplified Transit Environmental Assessment
  • another subway to York Region - which presumably Toronto will pay any losses for, again.
  • the seeming resurrection of SNC-Lavalin's divisive Blue 22, but hopefully the EA will demand it be a GO train with a Weston stop.
  • Sheppard East LRT (merely preserves the Don Mills mode change and probably the Sheppard bus too) and the lack of a connection on Sheppard West to Downsview.
  • no sign of any commitment to the Georgetown-Guelph-Kitchener-London line which is dire need of improvement.  
  • I really hope Havelock GO isn't a set-up for Pickering Airport.
It was convenient that this plan fell nicely on a day when a Liberal cabinet minister and a backbencher announced their intentions not to seek re-election, both in Hamilton, home of the McGuinty hockey offer and now two rapid transit lines.

There are some caveats - some projects are re-announcements (par for the course) and the GTTA has to approve it.  The mention of the feds makes me nervously hope either the rumoured national transit strategy is in the offing or that it is going ahead with or without them as otherwise god knows when we'll see this stuff.  

As for the provincial election, let's hope Sorbara does a better job of "booking" the money than Goodale did with the Kelowna Accord.

Steve Munro is also studying the plan - it might be worth keeping an eye on this page.

LA Dodgers eject Canadian flag wavers

I meant to blog about this when I saw it on Torontoist a few days ago but am catching up now.  A Blue Jays fan waves a Maple Leaf at Dodger Stadium and gets hassled.  Various Canadian expats get stroppy with the rent-a-goon.  

Apparently being cosy with the Governator, bolthole for their soldiers and the largest source of their oil imports still gets the Canadian flag classified as "a sign or a banner", as a Dodger VP (one of a hundred, no doubt) tries to justify it.  A couple of fans were chucked out and a few others left in solidarity.

Apparently the US flag is also banned - a clear case of justifying a stupid policy with a stupider (and puzzling given the mawkish wrapping in the flag American sports teams do so frequently).  

I'm all for restrictions at certain times and places - like Belfast Giants hockey team banning flags and especially Celtic and Rangers jerseys, but this was very irritating when Canada puts up a bunch of securocratic crap from the US - no fly lists and so on - and are putting their sons and daughters on the line in Afghanistan (as the rent-a-goon was reminded).  There's a border between us, not a damn Peace Line.

Quebec "anti-war" letters a breach of the criminal code?

I had heard that some Quebec activists opposed to the Canadian Forces deployment in Afghanistan had been writing letters to soldiers near CFB Valcartier to dissuade them from following their orders to deploy.  What I didn't know until today was that to do this is a breach of Section 62 of the Criminal Code which is an offense with a tariff of up to five years imprisonment on indictment (or 14 years if charged as Sedition under section 61 or Incitement to Mutiny under section 53) - although I doubt any convictions here would attract more than trivial punishment since combat is not occurring on Canadian soil, in the unlikely event that prosecutions were even brought.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Taxpayer cash for NHL team - Manitoba Liberals nay, Ontario Liberals yea?

I'm sure Jason Cherniak could find a way to justify this - I sure as hell can't.  From the beginning of the manoeuvering to acquire and move the Nashville Predators, the thing that didn't seem to be missing was money. Jim Balsillie was throwing down 240 million US dollars to acquire a team worth far less than that, having failed in a 175 million offer for the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Meanwhile, in the Manitoba Provincial Election, the Manitoba Liberals decried the Tories pledge to assist the bringing of a team back to Winnipeg, and the NDP's assertion that they would be more likely to make it happen sooner, better etc. No money mentioned (directly anyway), but Bob McCown ridiculed it as a stunt on the FAN590. All very principled by the Libs but you could understand in a way that in an underpopulated province like Manitoba it might take government grease to make it happen.

Not in Ontario, though. Not in the Golden Horseshoe. Not with deposits for season tickets already rolling in. Right?
PETERBOROUGH (CP)–Premier Dalton McGuinty says he would consider giving some financial help to Hamilton if it lands an NHL team. According to reports, billionaire Jim Balsillie would make Hamilton home if he buys and then moves the Nashville Predators.

McGuinty says the government would "seriously consider" a funding proposal if Hamilton were to get a team.
Let's not forget this is the same Premier who talks about the environment while giving autosector handouts to makers of muscle cars. The 2.5 million claimed by Hamilton booster Ron Foxcroft as the catchment for the team is twice the population of the entirety on Manitoba in a miniscule fraction of the land area. The Globe reports $6.25million in season ticket and corporate box deposits for a team that essentially doesn't yet exist. These are the guys the Ontario Liberals wants to help?

If McGuinty wants to help Hamilton, he should bring bread - in the form of jobs for those who used to be steelworkers, not subsidise circuses who already have enough money to get on with. But there's an election coming, he has seen what being against the populist side gets you (no seat gain) and wants to look like a good guy in Hamilton, increasingly an NDP region.

Just remember this when McGuinty says there's no way we can abolish the Health Tax. There's four months to go to election day and there will be plenty more handouts promised by then.

Safari - bugs in 24 hours, bug fixes in 48

So no sooner had Safari for Windows hit the net than some bugs made an appearance. So Apple fixed them - 24 hours later.


Obviously I'm not sure 9.9Mb was required but I suspect this was another Apple bandwidth wasting full install.   (By the way why is it necessary to offer Quicktime with seemingly everything you download from the main Apple web site?  Isn't the iTunes bundle enough bloat?)

Reading Planet Mozilla I couldn't help but feel there was a bit of bile towards Safari - no grown up "room for all of us in the market" sentiments they used to urge on IE devotees. They also were concerned about reportage that Safari was a better renderer and launched rebuttals.

But then I saw this post and started to understand. Steve Jobs is hunting Gecko, so the Mozilla community, thinking they had an ally, now realise they have an enemy. This is pretty juvenile on both sides. The enemy should be IE and their crap CSS support and their awful ActiveX.

The IEBlog has nothing to say about Safari - they were too busy with other things on Tuesday.

For me, I find Safari's rendering to be quick but where it really scores is Bloglines - I don't know how it does it but it is really easy to read in Safari. This might be because I have been reading on CRTs rather than LCDs so far. Joel Spolsky compares Apple and Microsoft fonts to "Target vs Wal-Mart". (hat-tip)

Its cute dropdowns and buttons almost make the TTC website look like something not designed by daycare infants. If only Lotus Notes 8 was going to WebKit and not IE for rendering html. That said, its selection of text leaves something to be desired, even on beta3.0.1, and some websites don't render anything for a long time.

Meanwhile, Apple passed 1 million Safari downloads in the first 48 hours - for a beta. Yikes.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

TTC to broadcast mugshots on TV screens

Here's the CBC on it. Now if they could only find a way of showing... oh let's pick something random... why the subway is running slow and hundreds of people are stuck on hot platforms from Queen to Wellesley.

Blair's broadside at the press

makes for a very interesting read, not least for the admissions respecting spin. I was surprised that the Independent came in for such stick but I lived in the UK during a time when one wondered if the Independent would be around next month so things have obviously improved.

I also like Paul Wells' take - hat tip to him as his blog was the first place I noticed this story.
With 15 days to go before the press gallery can't tear any more strips off him, Tony Blair takes a great big strip off the gallery. The word "harlot" makes an appearance.

UPDATE: You'll be shocked to know the speech didn't go over well. The tale of the tape:

BLAIR: I'm not complaining.
TELEGRAPH: We're not defensive.
INDEPENDENT: We're not sanctimonious.
GUARDIAN: We're not as bad as the other guys.

How many times do Irish Rail/CIE need the term "adverse possession" explained to them?

To any CIE types reading, here's a primer.  God knows after various past fiascos one would have thought you'd have taken notice, but here we are, back in court.
Mr Dunne (54), of Rowlagh Avenue, Clondalkin, Dublin, told the court yesterday that he had found the lands "wild" in June 1977 ànd had placed his horses there after erecting fences, poles and wire.

Over subsequent years, he built stables for the horses and stored hay and feed. He said the local children called him "Dinty" and described the land involved as "Dinty's field".
There have been various dark mutterings on message boards about possible encroachments on the Claremorris-Collooney railway line - maybe that's why the new government has declined to commit to its construction?

Adéquistes - dub French movies into... French!

Having been outmanoevered by the Péquistes on the budget, Mario Dumont wants Shrek III dubbed into québécois because he can't understand French.  Attempt to get Québec vocal artists onside notwithstanding, somehow I don't think that was the kind of thing for a Québec leader to say when Harper has just met with Sarkozy.  

That said I imagine Sarkozy was easier to understand when he hadn't seemed like he was on the lash with Vladimir Putin. It's ironic that while Sarkozy is apparently a non-drinker, it used to be the Russians who had to apologise to the eccentricities of their President.

I wonder will Parisians be demanding similar dubbing of the Sopranos' excursion into Joual?

Greens enter government

Well, after a few hiccups the Greens are in, and approved by a thumping majority too. The party activists took the deal well and the opposition of Roger Garland in some ways shown how the Green movement has changed since he was the spearhead - whether for better or worse I can't tell beyond the seat count.

Among the various items in the agreed programme for government, the decision to force reopening of rail to Navan and to limit the Western Rail Corridor's Northern limit to Claremorris is a step in the right direction. The Electoral Commission, similar to Elections Canada I suppose, is also a good idea.

Trevor Sargent's decision to step down as leader and refuse a Cabinet seat is an interesting one - a nod to those in the party who didn't bargain for this arrangement, and Canadian readers might reflect that Peter McKay should have done likewise after the merger which betrayed the word he had previously given. From a tactical point of view it might be useful to have a senior figure not being sandbagged by the Civil Service to distract them from what is going on in their departments.

What can one say about the justification of the Shannon military flights? Worthy of the Jesuits. A lot of Green voters will not understand that one.

Now that Bertie will be sworn in as Taoiseach, the next question is how long will he remain before exiting in favour of Cowen?

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Apple Safari for Windows Beta 3

Apple OS X's bundled Safari web browser, which has its origins in the Konqueror project, has had Beta 3 of the 3.0 version posted at www.apple.com/safari. Testing it so far has been reasonably pleasing, not least seeing its faithful rendering of Acid2 (which in production releases is only matched by Konqueror 3.5, Opera 9 and their derivatives), and fans of iTunes will like the similar interface.

The installation is snappy too - about 30 seconds or less for the browser only. However, it is definitely not to be relied on as a primary browser - the Preference for checking before closing a multi-tab window has no effect as I found to my cost.



Having four browsers on the one PC is a bit much (IE7, Firefox 2, Seamonkey 1.1 and now Safari 3.0b3) but it makes for interesting comparison. Hopefully the addition of Safari, which may attract many curious users not tempted by Firefox, will press Microsoft through the erosion of even more Internet Explorer market share to improve CSS fidelity in IE 7. That would make many people trying to maintain CSS on multiple browsers (such as myself through DominoWiki) very happy.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Could the Sorbara Line cost Toronto taxpayers $14,200,000 a year in losses?

According to Steve Munro's informative post, this TTC Commission Report thinks so, with the majority being incurred by the section in York Region and yet Toronto is on the hook for all of the shortfall. This subway extension above York U is looking like a worse deal every day.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Convicted fraudster with taste for deadly accessories denied entry to Canada - read all about it

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, the woman who in 1986 declared that "necklacing" would liberate South Africa, and was convicted of involvement in the killing of James Seipei (also known as Stompie Moeketsi) has been denied entry to Canada. Her trip was in part to attend an event connected to an opera about her life.

The CBC compares Madikizela-Mandela's case to Martha Stewart's.
The Globe report notes that even the Americans let her in.
The Star reminds us that at her fraud trial, the judge told her she was no Robin Hood.

UPDATE: Paul Wells points me to today's Star coverage. Thomas Walkom, no friend to the current Government, expands on the desirability of refusing the visa. It is understandable that Dion is questioning the refusal, since since one of his own MPs helped sponsor the application.

More free stats

Statcounter has increased the maximum log size for free accounts from 100 to 500, which makes it a bit more useful. If you're already running Statcounter you have to sign into your account and increase the log size as it stays on 100 until you manually change it.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

This sounds vaguely familiar...

"McGuinty vows Liberals won't raise taxes if re-elected". Uh-huh.

While the Health Tax won't be McGuinty's version of the Poll Tax, it should and will hurt him with lower middle class voters. Yes, Ontario had a deficit, how big depends who you ask, but he rammed in this tax without consultation and in such a way that some employers had to swallow it due to old collective agreement dating from the OHIP Premium. The tax discriminates against work, since it taxes two lower incomes more than one large one.

I don't object to higher taxes - I object to stupid ones, and especially ones which entail zero improvement in services delivered.

Why did David Miller not meet Arnold Schwarzenegger?

During his recent trip to Canada, the Governator met with Stephen Harper (the Kyotoevader), Dalton McGuinty, who broke his pledge to close coal-fired power in Ontario, and Gordon Campbell, whose province is planning new coal plants despite objections from his neighbours in the state of Washington.

Yet while in Toronto he did not meet with our Mayor, David Miller, the greenest broom wielder in Canada. I for one would love to know why. Could it be that word has got around about Hizzoner's deserted presentation in New York, in contrast to Ken Livingstone's packed house?

While Schwarzenegger promotes his Hydrogen Highway, Miller is promoting the idea of plug-in cars, which is a curious idea from a Mayor who believes we don't need new power plants or power lines. Even restricting use to off peak will require specialised infrastructure to ensure people don't plug in their cars in day time because they really really really need to make that trip to Walmart. Like the heavily electricity-dependent Transit City proposal, it's time for the Mayor to tell us where future electricity is going to come from in forms he's willing to accept.

Socons want the CBC to wish for the abolition of abortion or of equal marriage

The CBC are still on the "greatest something or other bandwagon". In addition to choosing the Seven Wonders of Canada they are asking Canadians to vote on Facebook for a wish, the most popular wishes to be announced on the CBC on Canada Day. Big Blue Wave urges its readers to support "Abolish Abortion in Canada" which at time of writing currently leads the list with 1223 votes. Sixth is "Restore the traditional definition of marriage".

Fortunately there is also a wish that Canada would remain pro-choice, that Bob Cole would retire, and that we celebrate what binds us, instead of what divides us. I'm up for all of those.

Throw the book at them

The Irish Defence Forces are just completing what had until then been a highly successful three and a half year UN deployment to assist with the stabilisation of Liberia which included the escort of Charles Taylor to his expulsion to Sierra Leone's UN international tribunal. During the deployment Ranger Sergeant Derek Mooney was killed in a road accident near Monrovia.

It is appalling that a couple of clowns have marred the image of the Defence Forces by uploading to Youtube a video showing them pointing weapons at local civilians in acts of horseplay. It's not like idiots in other armies haven't done similar things in the past and the soldiers superiors should also take some blame in failing to sufficiently impress on their subordinates the damage such videos can do.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

The Green Party and coalition

Well this is telling it like it is:
Let's be clear. A deal with Fianna Fáil would be a deal with the devil. We would be spat out after 5 years, and decimated as a Party. But, ... would it be worth it? Power is a many faceted thing.
so said Ciaran Cuffe, newly re-elected, on his blog. (Hat-tip Slugger). The question is - is Bertie using the Greens to panic Labour into making him an offer, and if so by even considering coalition with FF could they suffer the same effects as if they had done so anyway?

Meanwhile, the same post spreads rumour about John Deasy's possible defection to the depleted PD ranks. One would ordinarily be concerned about his electoral prospects given running under one flag only to take up another while the ink is drying on the election results. However Deasy's surname probably brought him more votes than his Party, as so often in Ireland and probably the reason FG didn't just dump him even after threatening Enda Kenny with a leadership challenge. I suspect that any defection will be with a view to being party leader. If this is true, it's always fascinating to see the unusual sight of a rat joining a sinking ship.