Where is modern civilization heading?

As a society are we heading in the same direction as the ancient Romans? If so the question becomes.......

Are our leaders fiddling while civilization burns?

While we ponder the question I will post my personal thoughts on this blog. Often I will focus on current events that catch my interest, however I am not and do not pretend to be a news organization. I'm simply a guy with his own thoughts on issues that I believe affect our country and society.

Be forewarned, I have been accused of being a right wing thinker and if that is offensive please move on. Remember, this is my blog and my opinions, and unlike many facets of our already over-governed modern society they are not being forced on anyone.

However, please feel free to leave your comments, good, bad or indifferent, after all this is a free society we live in (at least for now).

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Sometimes allies are found in the strangest places....

canadian beaver, eaton, senate,
Cute little fellow isn't he?
A few months ago we posted our opinion about one of Canada's Senators, Nicole Eaton and her campaign to "fire" the beaver as Canada's national animal and replace him with the polar bear. Thankfully this campaign of stupidity went nowhere and our beaver is still safe and proudly displayed on our nickel.

Now recently Senator Eaton has taken up another cause, one that I hope she is successful in and which has put her in my good books, although I still harbor a little resentment about her vicious attack on the beloved beaver. Why do I personally like the beaver? Simple, he is a hard working guy that contributes to the country, looks after his family,  keeps his nose clean, and doesn't ask for a nickel of government money. In other worlds the ideal Canadian citizen!  Sorry, I got a little off track there, so let's get back the the issue at hand, Senator Eaton's latest mission.

Ladies and Gentleman, now we have a horse race!

It's official, April 23 is the date when Albertans will go to the polls to elect our next provincial government. Our current premier, Alison Redford met yesterday  with Lt.-Gov. Donald Ethell in his Alberta legislature office and the writ was issued at 10:00 am.

Immediately following her meeting with the Lt-Gov the Premier joined by members of her caucus spoke to the press on the steps of the legislature and had the following to say;

"This election will be a defining moment, where we will decide what we want the future to be and how we want to conduct ourselves, and I'm looking forward to talking to Albertans and letting them make those decisions over the next 28 days".

Pretty positive attitude for a politician who is facing what may be the battle of her political career up to this point. There's a lot riding on this election, Premier Redford who only late last year took the reins of the Conservative party via a leadership race, accepted with the role a lot of partisan responsibility. After all, the Conservative party has been running this province for 40 years and with just one more win will become Canada's longest serving government at 44 years, so needless to say the party will not look kindly on any sitting Premier that loses the throne. With Redford, seeking her first public mandate as premier she has a number of challenges to face going into this election, some of her creation, some not. So what makes this election so different from ones of the past? Let's face one reality, this is Alberta, a place where even a guy like Don Getty can hold the Premiers office, or an often times "not so sober" former Liberal turned Conservative, Premier Ralph Klein can be loved as a "man of the people" and referred to universally throughout the province as just "Ralph". The bottom line in the past was as long as you dressed an individual in Conservative Blue, chances were they would claim electoral victory. However I have a feeling it won't be quite that easy this time around. Why?

Saturday, March 24, 2012

A taxpayers prescription to doctors and government, take on a daily basis.....

Image Courtesy of Acclaim Clipart

Doctors for Fair Taxation, a group of Canadian doctors is "prescribing" increased taxes on Canadians in higher income brackets. Promoting the slogan "Tax us. Canada's worth it!", the group is suggesting that both the Federal and Provincial levels of government raise taxes on the top 10% of wage earners in Canada.

"We are pleased that so far most of the health care system has been spared the cuts made to other sectors. But we see the impact of these cuts in our patients who lack the community services, housing, and income to be full participants in Canadian society," the group states in an online petition addressed to the federal and Ontario governments. "When a family faces a loss of income it doesn't resolve the crisis by denying food to one its members. A functional loving family makes the existing food go further. Our country should similarly find ways to best use our existing resources so no Canadian will be deprived of their health and security," said the group.
(Hold your horses Docs, since when did an individual citizen's earning become a national "existing resource"?)

In a nutshell, they suggest the following tax formula,
Canada's top 10% of wage earners, those who make more than $100,000 a year would see a 1% tax increase. But it doesn't stop there, they also suggest a 2% tax hike for the 1% of Canadians who earn more than $170,000, a 3% tax hike for the 0.1% who make more than $640,000 and a 6% hike for the top 0.01% who earn more than $1,85 million.

Now, some Canadians may look at the above proposal as being fair and just, after all why not take more from the "rich" (they can afford it, right?). Personally, I have some serious issues with the way that our progressive taxation system penalizes (via higher tax rates) individuals for taking risks and achieving success. But that's only part of the reason this proposal stinks......

Friday, March 23, 2012

See you in the funny pages....

alberta politics, wildrose party
Alberta Politics - Busting with Enthusiasm
If your looking for a little humor be sure to check out the latest addition to our "Just Plain Funny" page. It's sure to "bust" you up ....lol
In fact it is the talk of the town here in the great white north, here's a hint......

The wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round, round and round, all day long.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Apparently this is called "Justice" in Canada...

Mark your calendars folks, this week is a truly sad one for Canada's Justice System, although it is not the first such occasion nor do I suspect it will be the last. What has taken place this week has been described by many as a travesty, personally I don't feel that is a strong enough word to describe the transgression of justice that occurred and as a Canadian I hold my head in shame. I only hope that this is a call to action that echoes through the halls of parliament and one that motivates our politicians to create laws that set the standards for the rest of the world.

Earlier this week we witnessed one more example of how truly broken the system is and how a criminal's needs and rights generally supersede those of their victims. In our current legal system at times it seems that even when the crime is heinous and the victim is violated in ways that will have lingering consequences, the judicial attitude appears to lean in the direction that "too harsh" a sentence for the convicted will only ruin another life. The recent conviction of pedophile Graham James earlier this week is just one more classic example of how our system fails to protect society from the "worst of the worst". Just how bad are things?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Peter, Thank you for wasting my Friday evening right along with my tax dollars

Being a Friday night I had planned a quiet evening, nothing too serious, no blogging, maybe a little television for the evening. I did however have a blog article in mind for posting on Saturday, one that I have been researching over the last week or so. Like every night, when I arrived home I checked my mailbox to see what had been delivered and what I found threw my plans for a peaceful Friday night right out the window and put me on a different writing path than my intended Saturday blog.

As anyone who is a regular reader of this blog is aware I have had little if anything positive to say about the "Occupy" movement since its inception. The Occupy movement which originally sprouted from "Occupy Wallstreet" in New York's financial district had lost all sense of purpose by the time it moved to other locales and cities. What was essentially in the beginning a protest against massive government bailouts of poorly managed financial institutes and the corruption of sub-prime mortgages (funny enough, both are issues that I could have supported protesting against) quickly evolved to protesting  "the flavor of the week" depending on the particular group of Occupy Drones that formed in any specific city. Every perceived woe that faced society came under attack by Occupy Drones and allowed them to self justify criminal acts such as illegally trespassing on private property or the destruction of public property. After all it was all in the name of a greater cause. Soon they were demanding forgiveness of personal student loan and credit card debt, withdrawal of troops, closing down the oilsands, a reduction of CO2, you name it they wanted it. The bottom line is that the Occupy movement became a gathering place for the disenchanted and anarchists, at times the "camps" even became havens of refuge for the homeless. So whats this got to do with what I discovered in my mailbox?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Maybe it is time for a new face in Alberta politics?

Back in December of 2011 I started to write a piece about the political landscape in Alberta and what options were available to voters.Unfortunately at the time other things caught my interest and life in general was keeping me pretty busy, so I filed away what I had written with the intention of one day blowing the dust off and posting it. Well yesterday, the front page of the Edmonton Sun caught my eye, or more to the point the results of a recent poll in Alberta awakened me. In a nutshell the headline was a simple one, big bold letters, a picture of our current Premier, Alison Redford photoshopped to appear to be staring down Danielle Smith leader of the Wildrose Party of Alberta and the text.....

Conservatives - 34% vs Wildrose - 29%
Redford - 33% vs Smith 25%

So what's it mean? well on the surface it appears that the Conservatives have a 5 point lead, and that people in general have a fondness for Redford over Smith. However, one poll does not win an election, so here's my December piece with the dust blown off and a few more paragraphs added.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

And the beat goes on.....Oink, Oink

Is it just me or do our elected officials at times seem to be suffering from memory loss or possibly even dementia?

Just two days ago I posted an article about 21 Alberta MLA's who have been lining their pockets to the tune of $1000 a month for sitting on a Legislative committee that hasn't met in the last 39 months. The article was aptly titled Like pigs they head straight to the trough.... Well, this particular incident of pork barreling appears to have annoyed the public at large more than the regular gouging of the taxpayer that our elected officials participate in on a daily basis. It's the talk of the town, featured on the nightly news, in newspapers, and on talk radio everyday. It has actually gotten so bad that Alberta's Premier, Alison Redford addressed it personally from out of the country last week.

Last Thursday Premier Redford who was in New York conducted an interview with the Calgary Herald in which she stated that she was unaware that 21 government and opposition provincial representatives have been paid $1,000 a month - a total of $261,000 annually - to sit on a committee that hasn't met since 2008.
"I did not know," Premier Redford stated. She continued by saying the situation with the committee "wasn't something that connected to me at all. But it's not right."

Now lets jump forward a day to Friday when speaking with reporters the Premier went on to say that the fact provincial representatives were paid to sit on a committee that doesn't meet was "a ridiculous situation." "It isn't the way that Albertans want politicians to be paid," she said. "It's why I asked for an independent panel to look at how everyone in the legislature is being paid."

Now before we go any further just so I am clear on this, the Premier has called a panel to look into a committee? Wasn't enough financial damage done by the first committee, I guess not as she feels it necessary to form a second one and pay them as well. Although I suspect there is a deeper and more thought out reason for forming an "independent panel" to look into the payroll issue. Such a committee will make recommendations for changes moving forward, they will not make judgement or access any blame on individuals based on how they were paid within the guidelines previously. This will further support the MLA's who were paid for serving on, but never attending the The Standing Committee on Privileges and Elections, Standing Orders and Printing. After they were simply being paid under the guidelines that existed at the time, they did nothing wrong. Whereas, if the Premier were to take a strong a stand on the issue, agree that it is wrong, and insist on immediate rule changes she will have to by default answer questions about the integrity and honesty of the MLA's involved.

So why is this something she would rather avoid? Well the most obvious answer is that it is making the governing party look bad, something that is not desirable for her in an election year. However, if you dig deeper there is another issue that I suspect worries our Premier equally.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Water, Water everywhere but not a drop to .....

For those of you not familiar with the city of Edmonton (which is about about 99% of the known world) here are a few facts about the city. Located on the North Saskatchewan River the city is the capital of the province of Alberta (yes readers, the capital of Alberta is on the North "Saskatchewan" River....strange but true) and the province's second-largest city. Situated in the Canadian prairie's the surrounding geography is pretty uninspiring, mostly flat with the nearest mountains located in the Jasper region, about a 3 1/2 hours drive northwest of the city. From a tourism point of view our cities main claims to fame are undoubtedly, West Edmonton Mall one of North Americas largest shopping centers, and during the summer months a large number of music and cultural festivals that draw tens of thousands are held within the city. The winters are harsh and long (October through April)  most years with temperatures at times dropping as low as -40 at the worst of times.

So to say that Edmonton is not a tourist hot spot is not unreasonable, but by the same token many of us view Edmonton as home and would not live anywhere else by choice. Over the years attempts have been made to make our city more interesting (some successful, some still in the works, and some just plain laughable). One of these attempts made back in 1980 was the creation of a "waterfall" on one of the bridges that cross the river. Although the term "waterfall" may be a bit of a stretch in describing a long pipe fitted with sprinkler heads,(hey its Edmonton remember). Now before you decide this falls into the "laughable" category consider this, Edmonton is not blessed with a lot of natural wonder and this particular man made one draws thousands of spectators every-time it is fired up, which is typically 3-4 times a year. Here's a video of Great Divide Waterfall in all of its glory (sorry for the short commercial at the front)

Apparently this "iconic" piece of Edmonton may have seen its last days. Why? Well in large part simply due to government regulation, or more to the point conflicting regulation between different levels of government.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Like pigs they head straight to the trough....

Every year the Canadian Taxpayers Federation announces the annual winners of their Teddy awards. For 14 years running these awards have been presented for the best examples of government waste, federally, provincially, or at the municipal level. In fact upon reading the details of the winners there are times when the thought that this is fiction crosses your mind, unfortunately folks sometimes the truth about our elected officials is just plain ugly. These awards are a great public service as they bring to light just how frivolous those that we elect are with our money.

As an Albertan, when I was reviewing the winners of this years Teddies one in particular caught my interest for a number of reasons.... Here you go , courtesy of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (I love these guys)

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Robocalls, Is that anything like Robcop?

Over the last couple of weeks it seems the "talk of the town" for Canadian news media has been the "robocall election scandal" and who is responsible for it.

Was the Conservative government behind it?
Was it perpetrated by a third party to discredit the ruling Conservatives?
Were riding's that were in a tight battle for votes specifically targeted?
Is this a plot to destabilize Canada?
Could extraterrestrials (ET's) be involved? (I threw this one in myself for fun)

Now before I go any further with this, just in case any of you are wondering what I am referring to, here it is in a nutshell. It has come to light that during the last election  thousands of automated pre-recorded calls (thus the name "robocalls") were made that allegedly misdirected Guelph-area voters to non-existent polling stations. On top of this allegations have been made that all kinds of telephonic dirty tricks were used, including everything from live callers who made harassing phone calls to Jewish voters on the Sabbath, and others who promised to drive voters to polling stations, and then never showed up.

How serious is the issue? Well, within just the last couple of days Elections Canada has reported a steady stream of complaints from Canadians since the robocall scandal first broke, so far 31,000 and counting. This will almost certainly grow as the opposition parties keep this as their focus and plead with Canadians to report any such calls they may have received to Elections Canada.

Now while the media is busing running this as their lead story every day (I assume due to the lack of any other news that might be important to Canadians?), parliament is also embroiled in the scandal. Virtually every day accusations are flying across the floor of the house with one party blaming the other, with suggestions being made that this may have changed the outcome of the last election (I imagine that's a lot easier for the Liberals to accept than the real reason they got skunked), and so on and so forth. It inspires me with confidence to see our elected officials focusing on the most critical issues of the day.....sheeeh! Shouldn't this investigation be the responsibility of Elections Canada, or maybe the RCMP? Once the facts are determined then parliament can spend time debating it, until that point they are simply wasting time (and taxpayers money) discussing innuendo and rumors (oops , what am I thinking based on that alone, it is business as usual for parliament).

Now trust me, I don't have any inside information as to who is responsible for all of this and as a Canadian I can only hope that the guilty party is determined and brought to justice. After all as Canadians we are proud of the fact that we are a democracy that holds honest elections, not some third world banana republic where the election outcome is announced before the votes are counted. However I do have a solution to prevent this from ever taking place again, and in fact it is very simple.