Canadian Honky-Tonk Bar Association

Rejoice, you have a voice, if you’re concerned about the destination, of this great nation,
We represent the hardhat, gunrack, achin’-back, over taxed, flag-wavin’, fun-lovin’ crowd!

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Liberals trying to get "Tough on Crime"

Wow, looks like the Liberals are willing to declare war! Oh, wait, it’s a war on guns. Yup, Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin, Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty, and (Liberal) Mayor David Miller agreed to, as CTV puts it, “use all levels of government to bring about tougher sentences, tougher bail conditions and the full force of the RCMP and Justice Departments.” In fact, “They also spoke of increasing mandatory jail sentences specifically for gun-related crimes.”

Wait a minute, where have we heard about increasing the sentences (and mandatory minimums) on gun crimes before? Oh, right, from the Conservatives.

Bill C215, tabled by Daryl Cramp (Prince Edward – Hastings), reads in part

(3) Every person who commits an offence under subsection (1) is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to an additional minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of

(a) five years if the firearm is not discharged in the commission of the offence or during flight after committing the offence;

(b) ten years if the firearm is discharged in the commission of the offence or during flight after committing the offence; or

(c) fifteen years if the firearm is discharged in the commission of the offence or during flight after committing the offence and a person, other than the offender or a party to the offence, is thereby caused bodily harm or death”

It goes on to clarify that those are consecutive times, not concurrent times, with the original offence.

So, defender of our streets Paul Martin must have supported this, right? Nope. Harold Macklin, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, stated, “ … the manner in which Bill C-215 proposes to realize that objective raises serious concerns. The most glaring concern is the proposal to add a sentence on top of a life sentence in the case of murder committed with a firearm.” (and if Life in prison meant Life in prison, that’d be almost a decent point, but Life doesn’t mean Life). This one died on the order paper – it squeaked through second reading 149-148, with all the Conservatives, all the NDP, and 34 Liberals supporting (Paul Martin not among the supporters)

Come on, Paul, if you’re going to try to pretend to be the defender of our streets, put your vote where your mouth is.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Toronto is "Innocent"?

“Toronto has finally lost its innocence”, said Det. Sgt. Savas Kyriacou of the Toronto Police. With no offense intended to my friends from Toronto, didn't that ship sail a long time ago? Yet another crime committed by an illegally-carried (and likely, illegally-possessed) firearm, that our precious firearms registry didn't prevent (just like, oh, the other 52 shootings in Toronto over the past year).

The Liberal solution is, in a word, asinine – they want to make illegal guns illegal. That's like me saying, “there are a whole lot of murders happening, so let's make it a crime to commit the felony of murder”. It makes no sense. We don't know yet if the crimes were committed by an adult or youth (the fact that no specific age or name has been released leads me to believe that the individual arrested was a youth), but given the state of our justice system, if it was a youth he/she will probably get off with a few hours of community service, and a stern lecture from a judge.

Toronto's mayor is marching right along with his Liberal friends. CBC reports that Miller, “... said the provincial and federal governments needs [sic] to do more to help get guns off the streets.” Sure – let's do that. The guns on the streets, by and large, aren't ones that law abiding citizens own. Statistics Canada (or any other such group) hasn't done any research that I can find to show where these firearms uesd in crime are from – I'll bet strongly that the majority are prohibited (under C-68) firearms that were smuggled across the border.

Getting a gun (or ammunition) isn't as easy as the left (such as, for example, Michael Moore) want us to believe can be done legally. Watching that movie, we saw Michael walk into an Ontario Wal-Mart, and buy some ammunition. Shows that “Canadians are peaceful, even with guns”, or some such BS like that. Well, either Michael and Wal-Mart set something up to fake the purchase as demonstrated, or Michael (and Wal-Mart) broke the law. You need a possession/acquisition license (PAL) or possession only license (POL) to buy ammunition (or guns) in Canada. He may have applied for, and received (well in advance of his trip to Canada), a non-resident temporary borrowing license for non-restricted firearms (hunting/target rifles, shotguns; unless the gun looks scary, then it'll be considered restricted) The other possibility is that he brought a firearm with him, declared it at the border (answering, by the way, less questions then a Canadian wanting to get a gun), and filled out a Non-Resident Firearm Declaration form.

That being said, the limitations that we have in Canada haven't stopped crime – they have, in fact, increased it. Read through criminologist Gary Mauser's “The Failed Experiment”, published by the Frasier Institute. That will also show what can happen if we go further with the prohibition of guns, looking at Australia and England's prohibition and the resulting increase in crime.

You want to stop crime? Let's get more police officers on the street. Let's make sure they have the equipment they need to do their job, which often includes tasers. Let's make sure that our border is secured – more men and women patrolling it, and equipping them properly – if we want them to stop a gun smuggler, they may want to be armed themselves. Let's get some tough sentences – life in prison meaning just that, mandatory minimums for violent crime, reforms to young offenders, consecutive sentences rather then concurrent, to name a few possibilities. Let's crack down on the criminals, rather then those of us who just want to enjoy a nice day at the range.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Balanced Poll

On right now there is this poll question, "A number of people were shot at a major retail site in Toronto on Boxing Day. Is a federal ban on handguns an appropriate approach to curbing such crimes?"

What a loaded question! The initial statement makes people lean a certain way. If the question was asked, "In other countries that have instituted a handgun ban, gun crime has actually increased. Is a federal ban on handguns appropriate?" Or, "Most gun crime happens with unregistered firearms that are illegally purchased on the black market. Should the federal government ban the registered handguns that law abiding citizens own?"

Clearly the two questions I made up are biased, even though they are true. When the Globe and Mail decides to start the question with a preamble that will produce certain results, they clearly aren't trying to gauge their readers' true opinions on the subject.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Victimless Crime?

The one thing missing from this whole Goodale scandal is the victims. Clearly there was someone that broke the law here, and it seems to have come from the Finance Minister's office, but I think the reason there isn't all that much outrage is that no one really gets hurt from insider trading. When insider trading happens there is no real loser, even though there is a winner.

Let's say a stock is going to go way up once information goes public (everything works in reverse if stock will go down). On an efficient market, such as the TSX, there are always buyers and sellers at the given market price. So when the insider decides to buy extra shares that he knows will soon go up, the seller actually is doing what they would be doing regardless. Again, the seller would have sold their shares regardless of the insider. So what impact did the insider have? Well he actually, very slightly, rose the current market value of the stock. As there is more buyers than sellers at the market price the market price rises. The market price is the equilibrium price that is arrived at by balancing the buyers and sellers that have the same knowledge base (in theory). So when the insider has this advanced knowledge, there is nothing the stock can do but go up since there is an extra buyer. I understand everyone hates the ideas of these powerful insider traders stealing money from the common folk, but I just don't agree that it really harms them. Any crime where you cannot mention a victim should not be a crime, no exceptions.

So now that I argued why Martha Stewart really didn't do anything all that, I will go on to explain why Ralph Goodale did. There is a big difference between a private citizen knowing something about a company or a government official knowing how new legislation would change stocks. That private citizen would have found this new information from a completely legitimate source, just one that not enough people (deemed by insider trading laws) also had access to. With Goodale, he made the information himself, he didn't get this information from talking with anyone or hiring a private research company, he is in government and chose this new legislation. This is a vastly different situation. He took advantage of his role as the Finance Minister to affect his personal situation. By only informing a select group of people about the upcoming annoucement there was an opportunity cost to every Canadian that weren't in Goodale's inner circle. There was no productivity increase in any of these companies whose shares went up, it was purely that a more beneficial tax system for them raised their value. With regular insider trading, any new information is heard by many different people at different times before it is deemed that it is public knowledge, but in this situation Goodale created the gain for the companies by his role as the Finance Minister, and then abused his power by telling only a select group of people before the rest of the country. Shame on you Mr. Goodale. This announcement should have been made after the close of trading, as it was, but the leak was a pure abuse of power that the Canadian public trusted him to have.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

As Unqualified As You Can Get

After seeing Aaron's post, I was shocked who got nominated for the NDP in Etobicoke-Lakeshore. Liam McHugh-Russell had to be the worst student official I have ever come into contact with. In his role as the University of Waterloo VP Education, his goal was to keep tuition low, which is fine enough, but he wanted to keep tuition low regardless of quality of education. While I never had a smear campaign against me like Aaron did, I will recount one anecdote.

In my 2nd year of university, while Liam was VP Education, Liam decided to speak at a Mathematics Society council meeting. At this meeting he wanted to address the problem of Wilfrid Laurier University's proposed BBA (Bachelors of Business Administration) tuition deregulation. The reason this mattered to the UW students was that there is a joint double degree program where you can get a BBA from WLU and a BMath from UW in 5 years. I am a student of this program, so this is why Liam's comments came to my attention. At the meeting he said (paraphrasing), "I want to hear about how if your program was deregulated, you would not have chosen to come here. I want to hear about how if your program was deregulated, how you would not be able to afford to come here. I just want to hear feedback. Even if you want to send emails that say 'I hate Laurier' that's fine." He wasn't interested in any type of feedback so he can see how to best represent the students, he just wanted to get negative comments from double degree students so he can use us as quotes as evidence to his conclusion that he came to before talking to anyone. So I sent him a fairly lengthy reply to this saying that I was completely in favour of deregulation, and that I expect him to apologize for insulting WLU in his official capacity when there are a number of joint students that he represents. I never got a response to my e-mail. At the time I wasn't involved with any conservative campus club or political party, so he didn't ignore me for any reason other than I disagreed with his conclusion that double degree students were against deregulation (and for the record, every double degree student I talked to was either in favour or indifferent to deregulation).

This has to be one of the only ridings where I would actually prefer the Liberal candidate to the NDP due to Liam's extreme lack of qualifications. Plus him running pisses me off since there is a weak dipper candidate so the center-left votes may go to the grits. I'm hoping that John Capobianco can clean house here.

Is There Anyone the Liberals Actually Like?

Over the past three days, the Liberals have managed to insult, oh, nearly half of Canada’s population.

It started on Friday, with the finance ministry’s communications director, John Embury, calling Canada’s Association for the Fifty Plus Associate Executive Director Bill Gleberzon “old and confused” for having stated that he was contacted by Goodale’s office hours before the official income trust announcement. This leaves me asking, hey guys, do you think that all elderly Canadians are “confused”, or just the ones that you told about the income trust decision ahead of time. This was reported by CTV.

And then this morning/afternoon, two senior Liberal strategists opinioned that parents would be more likely to spend the $1,200 (Conservative) direct child care transfers on “beer and popcorn” then on quality child care. First came Scott Reid (Martin’s Communications Director) on CBC, and then Martin’s senior advisor John Duffy backing it up on CTV. This follows Ken Dryden stating that parents taking care of their own children does not constitute “child care”
So, by Liberal logic, seniors = “old and confused”, parents = selfish… I suppose they haven’t insulted parentless 18-49 year olds, or children (except those that own firearms). But, never fear, the campaign is still young.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Federal Involvement in Provincial Jurisdiction - It Can be Done Well!

Let’s start off by saying, education is a provincial matter. Any federal program dealing with education has to be very careful to ensure it does not infringe on provincial responsibility. That said, I think that the Conservatives are on the right track with yesterday’s release of an education plank of the policy.

This helps not only those attending universities, but those who are going into the trades as well. Harper announced a tax deduction for tools, an apprenticeship grant for apprentices, and a tax credit for companies who bring on apprentices (I think that one was a double-release from their small business tax announcement a couple days ago). This should help to attract more people into the trades and open up training spots for them – there is a shortage of skilled tradespeople in Canada right now, and this will address the issue to the best extent that the Federal Government can.

And then, we have the post-secondary education planks. A tax credit of $500 for textbooks is good – that’ll cover, oh, between a third and half of the cost of textbooks over a year, helping students without giving them a completely free ride. Working with the provinces to increase family income thresholds for student loans – absolutely good idea. I wanted to take out a loan when I was in University in order to pay for my own education (rather then live off my parents), but because my family income was too high (you only needed, at that time, a family income of around $50k or so for a single child not to qualify) I could not take out a loan. Yes, my parents could have afforded to help me out some – but, instead of living off them, I wanted to work it off myself. Exempting the first $10,000 in scholarships and bursaries from taxation – again, a good idea.

This goes about as far as the federal government can (and should) go with regards to education. It doesn’t infringe too far on the provinces, and instead of hauling bags of money around, it seeks to reduce tax burdens.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

More on guns...

In my rushed post here after first hearing about the proposed Liberal ban on guns, I forgot to mention possibly the most obvious argument against this. How much will this cost? Canada has about 1 million hand guns (from Coalition for Gun Control). I don't know what the average handgun's market value is, but from a search around Google it seems that if you are paying $300 you are getting a good deal. So there must be guns that are way more expensive than this too. If the government wants to pay the fair market value for handguns, a very conservative estimate would be $500/gun on average. So let's make my almost completed math degree come to use here with this equation:

$500/gun * 1 million guns = HALF A BILLION DOLLARS

This isn't counting any administration and enforcement costs, plus maybe my estimate of $500 was too low. Do they also pay the gun owners for their now useless bullets? I am not sure on how many bullets the average gun owner would have, but I think $30 worth would be fair maybe, which adds on another $30 million. Either this $30 million will be paid extra by the government to these people, or they will be forced to eat their loss which is completely unfair to them. Not to mention the costs and time these people went through to get certified and register their guns. The gun registry was supposed to cost in the low millions, and it ended up over a billion. If the initial projection for this is over half a billion already, how high will this go?

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Get Your Hands out of my Holster!

Ok, listen. I'm not a bad person. I work long hours during the day, pay my taxes on time, and except for a couple of photo radar tickets, stay well within the boundaries of the law. When I decided to take up target shooting a year or so ago, I went to the range a few times with a good friend, studied the manuals, and took the tests for the restricted and non-restricted firearms license. I passed both practical exams with 100% marks (had to load, unload, and show safe handling and firing methods with three restricted, and three non-restricted firearms). I passed one of the writtens with 100%, the other with 98%. I purchased my firearms (one handgun, one shotgun, and one rifle), registered them, and in the case of my handgun, received an Authorization To Transport (ATT) from the Canadian Firearms Centre (CFC) , to bring the package containing my handgun from the post office (attached to my apartment building via an underground tunnel) to my apartment. I then went down to the local CFC office, applied for and received, a long-term ATT to bring my handgun, “via the most direct means practical”, from my apartment to a firing range, port of entry into Canada, gunsmith, or gun store. That meant that I could not, on the way from my apartment to my range (½ hour north of the city) stop off at Tim Hortons for a coffee. I followed every rule to the letter, and right now have my trigger-locked handgun, rifle, and shotgun in locked containers that cannot easily be broken into.

However, according to the Liberals, I am now somehow a danger to others because of my hobby. Never mind that more people are killed by bathroom fixtures every year then firearms. Never mind that shooting a handgun at a range is safer then, oh, playing bridge (ok, that might be pushing it, but among sports, handgun shooting is one of the safest). They want to confiscate my guns, in the manner of the Nazis in Germany.

This isn't going to make a difference when it comes to gun violence. The guns used, for the most part, are unregistered to begin with, imported illegally from the United States, and many would already be prohibited under C-68 and C-10A. The NDP realize that this is a useless attempt to stop crime. The BQ... hard to say, they have loved C-68 thus far, I don't see them having too much of a problem with it (unless they end up having a moral objection to stealing private property).

All in all – hopefully Torontonians (because really, that is exactly who this is aimed at, let's not fool ourselves into believing this is attempting to do anything but save some seats from falling to the NDP primarily, a few [maybe] to the CPC) see through this BS, and realize that confiscating items which are not the problem, will not somehow be the solution.

Choice in Daycare

Yet another election platform which demonstrates the difference between the left and right. With a $1,200 benefit for every child, parents will have a bit of help in determining how to take care of their child. The Liberal plan is to force parents who want assistance with health care to put their child in a public institution – let the brainwashing of the young start even before they enter school, I guess. This has the support of the NDP, and of the unions. The union support is very easy to understand – daycare for kids = more people working = more union dues = more money for Buzz.

The criticism of the Conservative plan is that $1,200 will not fully subsidize a daycare spot. Again, I fail to see the problem with that. By what right am I forced to fully support your child? If I have a kid at some point later in life, I will expect to pay for his/her care – that’s part of being a parent. The counter to this is, “children are an investment in our future.” I would tend to argue that, while the children of today will be supporting my old age security and health care in retirement, I should not be forced to make a given investment. It is like the government saying, “well, we know that you really want to invest in (for example) RIM, but you can’t; instead you have to buy Canada Savings Bonds to help out the country.”

Beyond parental choice, the Conservative plan actually makes sense. The Liberals have pledged, by my accounting 11 billion over 10 years (2005-2015). They haven’t provided any numbers which show that every child will receive a daycare spot. If the Liberals really want to provide universal daycare – I bet it’ll cost more then a billion and change per year. How much more? I don’t know, neither do the Government’s accountants. Frightening.

Health Care - Private is not Evil!

Health Care is the hardest issue for Canadian politicians to discuss. If the third rail of American politics is social security, for us it is health care or, more specifically, the involvement of the private sector in health care.

On the political right of this issue is, of course, the Conservatives. Steven Harper, in his health care policy announcement here in Winnipeg on Friday, stated that he would not shut down private clinics – that shutting them down would not help cure the health care system at all. Makes sense, doesn’t it – the problem is not enough medical facilities, so the solution isn’t shutting facilities down. He also stated unequivocally that he would not allow for a parallel, private health care system.

The NDP is the next group, well to the right of the Liberal’s stated position. According to the CTV, Layton said that, “private clinics are a "fundamental aspect" of the health-care system founded by former Saskatchewan premier Tommy Douglas…” To be fair, he stated explicitly that no public money will go towards private clinics.

And then there are the Liberals. As of their last stated position, they were dead set against any private health care. That would include, I guess, the Victorian Order of Nurses, who since 1897 have been providing health care services to Canadians. Even worse is the Copeman Healthcare Centre, a new clinic in BC who, for $200/month (or $2,300 per year, children under 18 free) will provide private treatment, outside of the public system. Medically necessary services will be provided by their physicians (and paid for by provincial heath care); extra services such as comprehensive disease risk screenings (which would have to be paid out of pocket as they are not covered) are covered by that annual fee. Heck, they even provide house calls!

The left will say, “but… but… but… then the rich get better health care!” Yup… and I am missing the problem with that. The “rich” are a) still contributing to the public health care system through taxes, and b) are reducing the burden on the public health care system by getting their services elsewhere, thus improving the services that the rest of us can get.

Canada is only one of three countries in which individuals cannot legally pay for their own medically necessary health care – North Korea and Cuba are the other two. So, because we have “univeral” health care, we must rank highly on the WHO’s ranking of health care quality, right? Wrong. Canada ranks 30th in the world (as of 2000). To be fair, the US ranks worse (38th), however having a mix of private and public health care, the left’s accusations notwithstanding, is not stricly “Americanization” of health care. We could call it, “Europeanising” (France has the best health care system, according to the WHO, and a lot of other European countries rank higher then Canada), “Asianising” (Japan has the second-best health care system, or even “Colombianizing” (Colombia has the 22nd-best health care system). And yes, this study does also look at access to health care across the socio-economic spectrum (that is why the USA fell so low, because of poor access to health care for the poor)

No matter which model we follow, the fact remains that there are 29 better systems then ours. It would be nice to see a politician (of any stripe; blue, red, orange, green) stand up, admit that our system isn’t the best, and that improvement may (or will) involve private health care. Too bad the media will crucify that individual.

From our cold dead hands...

Well I have actually never owned a gun, but a Liberal proposed ban on handguns really annoys me. The crime wave is happening with illegal guns, not the legal ones that are registered by the billion dollar gun registry. I hardly see how this will solve anything. Criminals already have shown they are willing to break the law by not having registered guns, why would anyone think that a ban on handguns will magically make them not have guns anymore?

This proposed ban reminds me of a conversation I had about 6 years ago, when the gun registry was going into place. My then girlfriend's father was explaining to me that he would not register his guns because then the government may eventually take them away. We had an argument about this, I was thinking he was crazy to even suggest that the government would do something like this. At the time I was thinking that he was completely paranoid. I guess he had reason to be.

I don't get this...

Ok, so for years I have been hearing from the left that a consumption tax disproportionately hurts the poor because they spend a higher percentage of their income. Sure, this is true, someone making $30,000 does spend more of that then the person making $100,000. So now that the Conservative Party announces a plan to cut the GST the left is saying that this will help the rich because luxury items will cost less? So when for years the conservative parties talk about income tax cuts we get told that we are trying to help the rich, and now our consumption taxes are trying to help the rich? Please someone explain this to me because my head hurts.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

More on child care...

So the Liberals fight back with their ad hoc plan to throw billions more at the socialized child care. I don't think they even budgeted this or anything, but wanted to respond to Harper's plan with something bigger. Well, bigger is not better. Except if you ask left wing activists, oh and by chance, this article from CTV has.

Monica Lysack, Executive Director of the Child Care Advocacy Association of Canada, "If we simply give the money to parents, we're saying 'Take the money, now it's your problem.' And I think that would be a really cowardly thing for the government to do."

I think she has a real point, if we allow parents to raise their own children, they won't be reliant on government for an aspect of their lives. The horror! This day care may not be far enough I fear, we need an department of child punishment too. When a child misbehaves the parent can fill out a standardized form and then 6-8 weeks later the government can let the parent know how to best discipline their child. We need to take the parent out of parenting!

Or... "Paul Moist, the national president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), says the Conservative plan is flawed because it would use public funds to open the door to "big box" commercial child care chains."

What don't you people understand, this will help the big evil corporations! Sure he may not be talking about the quality of care the children will receive, but don't forget that union workers can take these child care jobs that the government could create! Whenever we propose any new child care plan, we need to think of how it can impact our union workers, not those greedy fucking children/parents that want the best child care to meet their specific situation.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Baby Bonus

The Conservatives annouced they want to give every family $1200/year for each child under the age of 6. This is certainly better than the idea of socialized day care that the Liberals and NDP want. If we are going to spend money to help parents raise their children, who knows how to spend the money then the actual parents themselves? This money can still go towards day care if the parents want to send their kids there. But maybe one of the parents wants to work part time then use the $1200 to help pay for a babysitter or one parent does not work and the $1200 will help a parent be able to afford to stay home. Socialized day care really won't be equal for all, many do not live in urban settings and will be paying towards the children in cities while their children recieve nothing. I will always favour giving the user direct payments to let them choose the service that best fits their need over the government providing a service that a family may or may not want.

The money will count as taxable income, but can be counted for either parent. So if one parent does not work and this is their only income, they will not pay any tax on this. This plan certainly helps the poor more than the rich, as the income will be taxable at the marginal tax rate of the lowest income earning parent.

Now this does not get to the real reason that people have trouble paying for child care, taxes are just too high. Consumption, income, payroll, and property taxes take so much of the income that every Canadian earns, it is no wonder they are reliant on the government to help take care of their children. This $1200 will be helpful, but I'm hoping we can reduce the tax burden to the point where it will not be needed.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

I'm Back

Well I've stopped blogging a while ago, mainly due to laziness. With the election on, I figured I needed to start up again.

So the NDP support private clinics? This is definitely a good thing. If Layton is talking about private clinics being a "fundamental aspect" of our health care system, clearly the Conservatives can't be attacked as long as we say we want to keep the public system running. Maybe something can be done to allow more private involvement in our system if the NDP support this.