The Creative Crockpot of Christopher Olson

Harper Government Destroying Democracy

So the Harper government broke the law, and went ahead and disbanded the Canadian Wheat Board in a brutal over reach of authority. The legislation of the Canadian Wheat Board specifically required consultation with the farmers, so that no one government could quickly kill the wheat board in a rash act.

The Harper government knowing it did not necessarily have the support of farmers went ahead and dissolved the 70 year old Wheat Board and ignored the legislation. Their rationale is in a nutshell, that no legislation can stop the government from making legislation, so it doesn’t matter if they’r breaking the law, because they’re above the law.

WOW. So basically they’re saying there are no restrictions on legislation. None. Does this include the Charter of Rights & Freedoms? It certainly prevents the government from passing legislation, so I’m going to go ahead and say yes.

Anyone else feel a cold chill?

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FaceBook Privacy Too Late…

I would say, it’s about time, but in reality it’s probably too late.

Facebook has finally, after many grievous and brutal breaches of users trust and their own published policies, settled with the American Federal Trade Commission. It had faced charges that it had deceived consumers to share more personal information than they had originally agreed.

I don’t think anyone can argue that point. They added new features then turned on the sharing features without our consent, and shared plenty of information that we did not explicitly agree to with people we had not approved.

But the new changes, meaning that facebook actually has to get users explicit permission before changing their settings on them, is a little late for most of the long term users, since it’s the internet. Once the information is out and leaked, it’s not put back in. It’s not like the settlement means that advertisers who have collected your information are going to give it back.

This really is a matter of closing the barn door once the horses have fled. This cat can’t be put back in the bag, or any other number of clichés that fit quite nicely here.

Nope, the damage for most of us is done. The only thing this does is make it look like it won’t happen again.

And with face book’s track record, I wouldn’t count on it.

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Concussion Law and Agreeing with NDP?

BC Liberal MLA Moira Stilwell is making an attempt at further developing a nanny state in BC with the introduction of new legislation that she says would prevent concussions in young athletes.

The private members bill would require a young athlete to be removed from play if a concussion is suspected.

Now, how removing someone from play after a concussion has occurred is supposed to prevent a concussion, I’m not too sure. The only thing it can prevent is the escalation of the severity of a concussion, which is wise, but I think common sense is probably better for dictating that sort of decision rather than a police officer.

I mean really, we just started laying charges in connection to the Vancouver riots, in which we had plenty of photo and video evidence. We have a huge new crime bill about to be shoved down the provinces throats, and our justice system is already so backed up drunk drivers who kill people are getting off scott free. You think the police are going to have time to investigate when little Timmy bumped his head, and got back into the game? The rhetorical answer for those of you who don’t understand sarcasm is no.

Not to mention that introducing a law is probably the dumbest way to try and manage something of this nature, especially when concussions are still a difficult injury to understand and measure.

I agree with the NDP’s Peggy Nash that Canada is moving in the wrong direction, becoming more combative. I also agree sales taxes shouldn’t be raised. That’s where my agreement ends. Her views on exploring the Bank of Canada’s monetary policy are uninformed, and even changing the expectation of their policy can actually impact the economics pressures on inflation. Thankfully, she’s leadership hopeful, not a front runner, so we probably don’t have to worry too much. If ever she gets in power, hopefully someone smarter than her will tell her to shut the hell up.

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I’m Surprised…

… that there aren’t more opposition MP’s cracking and swearing up a storm. How many times have the Conservatives limited time so far? Actually, a better question, with a much shorter answer would be, “How many bills haven’t had their time debate time limited?”

I would love to know the answer to that. Just because it’s a majority doesn’t mean they have the right to ignore the parliamentary  process. It’s a democracy, and in another three and a half years, you face another election. Keep this up, and Canada might be fortunate enough to see another conservative party die.

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Redistribute Seats Possible?

The Liberals are proposing redistributing the existing MP’s in the House of Commons to make up for the underreprenstation by region instead of bringing in a slew of new seats.

CBC has a nice chart showing the change in representation using the plan comparing it to the Conservatives. The NDP used the opportunity to say if the Liberals were really about saving money they’d support abolishing the Senate. The Conservatives blasted it, I imagine, without evening looking at it, because it’s not their idea.

Leave it to the NDP to bring up something not even remotely related, and the Conservatives to blast the plan and give brilliant quotes that show a complete lack of thought.

The plan is brilliant. I think it’s a creative approach to addressing the issue of under presentation during a period where the government should be cutting costs,  not increasing them. I don’t recall there being any real public outcry asking for more seats or representation in the public, and the Conservatives complete objection to the plan without even discussing it just shows the entire thing is a manufactured issue.

I wish the Conservatives would just pretend to think about good ideas before outright rejecting them.

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Conservative Government of Canada “We are the Law”

So, Québec has become the voice of reason, the Conservatives appear to be breaking the law in the way they are dismantling the Canadian Wheat Board, and now they’re ignoring their own hiring requirements for a top government job that is assigned for ten years. 

Canada has become a very scary and wacky place since the Conservatives won their majority earlier this year. I can’t think of a time I agreed with Québec and their rational in any national issue, but they seem to be the only sane place left in Canada. That should be pretty telling.

Québec claims the lowest recidivist rate in Canada amongst its criminal element. This means their policies are probably working. Texas on the other hand, has a very high recidivism rate, and as such, has changed their tack, and is using similar policies to Quebec due to both the lower cost, and higher success rate. 

Which direction does Ottawa and the Western provinces want to take? The old Texas solution – lock ’em up and throw away the key. Which is insane. Especially in BC. This is a province where the courts are so backed up that drunk drivers that have killed people are getting off free because it’s taking too long for their cases to get to court. And Premier Christy wants more mandatory jail sentences and lengthy criminal cases? I’m sorry, but I think she might be an idiot.

Ontario opposes the legislation, but not because it’s inherently wrong, but because it costs more. I think it’s a slightly more pragmatic approach in that they know the Harper government isn’t going to change its mind, but if they whine enough, maybe they’ll get more money to help pay for it.

And now the Conservatives have chosen an Auditor General that doesn’t fit the basic requirements as laid out by the government. He’ll be the first Parliamentary Officer who is not bilingual.

This sets a pretty shoddy precedent for the public service, which is required to be bilingual in many cases. It also pretty inconsistent for a government that claims to believe in law and order. The rules don’t seem to apply to them. 

I have to back the Liberals on this one – it’s a slimy move that reeks of cronyism.

And with both the railroading of the Canadian Wheat Board in what may be an illegal introduction of legislation, and now the appointment of an unqualified Auditor General, a position that really should have bipartisan support and some distance from the governing party, the Conservatives are showing both a disdain for law and government.

Also, heads up, there are some exploding toothbrushes out there.

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Conservative Government Railroading Canadian Wheat Board

The Federal government, in their rush to dismantle the long standing Canadian Wheat Board is holding late night committee meetings to hear testimony so it can claim due diligence and continue pushing the legislation through parliament.

The Conservatives have already justified limiting debate in the house on the issue by saying western wheat farmers need certainty before entering the 2012 growing season. Well, it turns out that the legislation that formed the board in the first place had some protection built in, to keep hasty decisions from being too easy.

Section 47 of the Canadian Wheat Board Act says a minister can only change legislation after adequately consulting the board and holding a vote to obtain the mandate from Prairie wheat farmers.

The Canadian Wheat Board has launched a lawsuit challenging the the government on their failure to take that aspect of the law into account.

I wish the Wheat Board good luck. I’m tired of hearing about how the Conservatives continue to ramrod legislation through the house with out allowing ample debate or a chance for anyone to even read the entire bill.

I also applaud Ontario and Québec for taking a stand and saying they won’t pay for the Crime Omnibus bill because its taking the wrong approach and all the costs will fall to them. I don’t know what affect this will have, but the growing dissent with the unilateral actions of the Conservative government really calls out for a strong opposition with a leader to take the reigns of government next election.

It’s time to start hoping for a Liberal miracle, because the only disaster I can imagine worse than the current governing Conservatives would be an NDP majority.

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C-10 Facing Media Scrutiny

Even the more right leaning National Post is questioning the wisdom of the Harper Government’s omnibus crime bill, C-10, with a pair of editorials blasting the minimum sentence provisions, and their lack of study or insight into the matter. The Post’s Chris Selley blasted the minimum sentences as unjust. Jonathan Kay says the bill lacks any intellectual backing, and is purely ideological propaganda.

Both good reads, but unfortunately, as Selley realistically points out, “nothing any journalist says is likely to make any difference.”


People asked how much trouble can a Conservative majority really create? I think we’re going to find out.

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Winnipeg’s Mayor Should Stop Whining

So Air Canada decided to move their flight crews to hotels stationed outside of downtown Winnipeg because of safety concerns. Winnipeg, sometimes called Winterpeg and Murderpeg by those who mock it, has a mayor that is in an uproar over the message it sends.

“If Air Canada’s making that kind of statement I think they should be, you know, up front and say exactly what it is that they’re saying as opposed to letting us all try and read into what it is they are saying,” Katz said.

Really? You don’t think this bulletin wasn’t clear? They think your city is UNSAFE, and to protect their employees, are moving them outside of the danger zone. I think it’s pretty clear why they’re doing it. That it sends a signal that you city is unsafe is unfortunate, but they didn’t make the decision in order to send a message, so stop your whining and take care of the problem.

The Winnipeg Police Services helped conduct the security review. What is more telling, that they decided to move, or that your own police service helped them reach that decision?

Don’t whine about how unfair it is that people are avoiding your downtown because it’s not safe. Do something about it.

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Why Shorten Sentences Automatically?

When I read stories like this, it really makes me wonder what point there is in giving out a lengthy sentence.

If you don’t feel like reading the article, a woman was sentenced to five years in jail for taking a strangers baby and smashing it into a sidewalk. The judge, then gave the woman double credit for the time she had already served, (two years), so now she’ll only have an additional year to serve.

So basically she got a three year sentence. I don’t understand the point of telling her she’s getting five years, but with the caveat that it’s really only three years.

By giving the “harsh penalty” of five years, you might be sending a message that random assault is not tolerated. But by then giving extra credit for time already served, you’re undermining that message. Why not just eliminate the credit, and hand her a three year sentence? It’s not like people see this and think, “geez, she got five years for assault.” They think, “she’s only serving three years.”

If she had been simply sentenced to three years in jail, most people would think that was appropriate, three years in jail on its own seems like a long time. But comparing it to what she could have got, we instantly think, well, now it’s only three years, that’s not that long, she should have to serve all five years in prison.

We look at the end result, what’s the cost to the assailant. It’s human nature, we look at the actual cost. And giving us an additional reference point, this case five years, makes the cost seem less.

And the cost, and the message, is that if you get drunk, grab a strangers sleeping baby out of a crib, and smash its head against the pavement, you’re getting three years in jail. Does that seem right? I don’t know. The judge seemed to think five years was appropriate.

But if that’s the message the judge wants to send, fine, but don’t delude yourself into thinking you’re telling people it’s five, you’re saying it’s three. And you shouldn’t be making the public mad by making it sound like she’s getting a smaller sentence than she deserves. It’s one or the other, it’s not both.

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