Tuesday, December 23, 2008

My resume, as it were

Well, it appears I have been tagged by balbulican. Well in the spirit of the season of light emerging from darkness, I'll play along.

The meme is pretty simple: List all the jobs you ever have had, in order. Omit anything that may incriminate you.

So here goes:

Lawn and yard maintenance worker
Farm hand (picking stones)
Farm hand (haying)
Farm hand (hauling wood)
Farm hand (collecting eggs, feeding the chickens)
Sales Person and Manager of Production, Sarnia Cheesboards (Junior Achievement)
Grocery Stock and Bag boy
Farm hand (cleaning rotten silage)
Farm hand (harrogatting the soy beans)
Farm hand (incorporating the spray)
Stable Boy at a horse farm and riding academy
Janitor at local post office
Assembly line worker at Holmes Foundry (making engine blocks for Chrylser - Cummings Diesel)
Bouncer, Fenn Lounge - included roadie duties before and after shows
Assembly line worker at Holmes Foundry (and CAW member)
Bouncer, Fenn Lounge and Brees Inn
Reporter and Photographer, Haliburton County Echo and Minden Recorder
Sales Person - Eastview Photo
Retails sales - Blue notes, Pantorama, Balloon store on Bank street.
Bouncer, Grand Central
Loss Prevention Officer, independent
Loss Prevention, The Bay
Male Exotic Dancer (one night only - two months free rent out of the deal...wink, wink)
Canada Customs, Bluewater Bridge
Retail, Pantorama again.
Salvation Army Halfway House worker, adult offenders from Burrits Rapids
Residential Youth Worker, 12-18 year-old-boys
Children's Mental Health Worker, 6-12 year olds
Software Developer
Software Arhcitect
Development Manager
Independent Software Consutlant
Senior Software Developer and Security Consultant.

That's a pretty wide variety, and I'm sure I missed a few (I'm certain I wasa paid nude art model at one point too). During my university years at Carleton, I was working about 20 hours per week part-time in order to afford school and my roomates often joked about "Mike's Job of the Week" I changed so often. So again, I've probably forgotten a few.

And depsite the passage of years, its amazing how much of this stuff stays with you and becomes automatic. I'm still a pretty good photographer and I think my writting reflects well on my time in J-school and at the Echo. To this day I cannot actually shop at the Bay. When I walk in, I get the "thousand yard stare" and immediately go into seeking shoplifters. I helped my old co workers make at least two arrests months and years after I was no longer a Loss Prevention Officer. And yesterday, I spotted a "booster" at Rona, and informed the staff.

Luckily, my dancing skills aren't what they once were.


So, to play along, I tag the following:

Olaf at the Prairie Wrangler
Red Tory
James Bow
JJ at Unrepentant Old Hippie
John at Dymaxions World

Have at 'er.

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Friday, December 19, 2008

A time for Celebration

The UN gets one right and one of the architects of the Rwandan Genocide is jailed for life.

This is the one of the men Lt Gen Romeo Dallaire was talking about when he said he shook hands with the devil.

Let this be a warning to ALL politicos who think somehow they can operate above the law and commit crimes against the innocent, destroying freedom as the go. Justice will be served one way or another.

Yes, Dick Cheney, I'm looking at you.

Now, if the UN can get Radko Mladic, the man responsible for Srebrenica, the world will be a little better place.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Awe crap....

This years Christmas dinner may turn out to be "Uruguayan rugby players"...

Happy holidays everyone.

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Saturday, December 06, 2008

19 years ago...

On the evening of Wednesday, December 6, 1989, I was sitting in front of the TV, studying for my upcoming Christmas exams. I was in my apartment in Ottawa, directly across the street from the Perley Hospital and a stone's throw from Landsdowne Park. I was there with my 3 house mates, all in Engineering and their girlfriends.

An alert came on CBC. Knowlton Nash broke into regular programming to tell us that there had been a shooting at Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal - and there were deaths. It was unclear, where it was and initial reports said the library.

Six of us turned in unison and looked at Donna, one of my housemate's girlfriends.

"Donna, I think you should call Kathy," I remember saying quietly.

Kathy was a highschool friend of Donna's from Toronto we had hung out with the previous summer. She was a student at Ecole Polytechnique. Donna tried for the next five hours, but could not get through - the phone lines were jammed.

We waited for updates throughout the evening. We stopped studying and tried to figure out what happened.

It was a long night.

In the end, Kathy had been at the library. She was safe and couldn't get to the phone because of the MUC Police lock down. In the end we found out what happened and why.

It touched me in a number of ways. For the first time, my typcially conservative engineering roomates were drawn together with the lefty, liberal housemate and their girlfriends on a political issue. The 14 died because they were women and they were something of a rarity in 1989 - women in an Engineering Faculty.

We all attended the candlelight vigil the next evening.

I was angered more deeply because I am a survivor of violence against women - my mother was battered by my biological father when I was a child. He was a police officer at the time. And he used to get my brother and I up to watch him beat the shit out of my mother.

To hear the words of hatred in that suicide note, to learn why he separated out the men and let them go but kept the women, brought that all back.

I have worn a white ribbon every year for 19 years. Some years, it was a white scarf.

I am now a father of a daughter and I have vowed that she will never grow up in a society that allows what happened to me to be common or to create the killer of December 6. I will make her strong so that no one will abuse her.

And I will never mention the killer of December 6. He deserves not notoriety, nor mess dinners in his honour. He deserves to have his name forgotten, to be removed from our lexicon and from our history. Not his deeds or his self-profressed reason for doing them, but him.

Rather than him, we should be remembering these women:

  • Geneviève Bergeron (born 1968), civil engineering student.
  • Hélène Colgan (born 1966), mechanical engineering student.
  • Nathalie Croteau (born 1966), mechanical engineering student.
  • Barbara Daigneault (born 1967), mechanical engineering student.
  • Anne-Marie Edward (born 1968), chemical engineering student.
  • Maud Haviernick (born 1960), materials engineering student.
  • Maryse Laganière (born 1964), budget clerk in the École Polytechnique's finance department.
  • Maryse Leclair (born 1966), materials engineering student.
  • Anne-Marie Lemay (born 1967), mechanical engineering student.
  • Sonia Pelletier (born 1961), mechanical engineering student.
  • Michèle Richard (born 1968), materials engineering student.
  • Annie St-Arneault (born 1966), mechanical engineering student.
  • Annie Turcotte (born 1969), materials engineering student.
  • Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz (born 1958), nursing student.
Never let this happen again.

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Thursday, December 04, 2008

Are we done screaming yet?

It has been a wild week of recriminations, lies and hyperbole. Passions are running hot on all sides.

And as of this morning, we'll have 7 more weeks of the same. Governor General Michaelle Jean prorogued Parliament this morning. I don't blame her of course and I agree with John at Dymaxion World - she did what most people thought she would do, though it clearly took a few hours of convincing from Stephen Harper. Its not her fault, as some in the Progressive Blogsphere are suggesting. Its squarely on Stephen Harper. It was Stephen Harper who decided to first delay the confidence motion by a week then to ask to prorogue Parliament, because he was did not want his government to fall.

Now that is democracy in action. Or not in action, as the case may be.

In order to calm a few folks here is my non-partisan, free advice to all the parties involved and worth every penny:


You may think you have won, but you haven't. You have a delay, a chance to really get the propoganda wurlitzer running and the fake grass-roots campaign going, but all you have done is delay the innevitable. Here is a rundown of things you should remember
  • Stephen Harper, in violation of his own fixed election date law, called an unneeded and unwanted election in Sepetember.
  • The Conservative Party campaigned without a platform for most of the election period, relying on sweater vests and attack ads.
  • After winning an increased Minority, Stephen Harper spoke about dropping ideology for pragmatism in order to address the economic situation.
  • A week after saying that, Stephen Harper and Jim Flaherty delivered a fiscal update based on data that no one else can seem to reproduce, including the parliamentary budget officer.
  • During that update, Stephen Harper choose to make cuts designed to destroy the finacning of the opposition, using the economic crisis as an excuse. There were cuts and policies never discussed during the election campaign (I agree in principle with no public financing of political parties, but that was a baltant attempt to destroy your enemies by means other than the ballot box, and don't try to deny it. THAT is undemocratic).
  • In the ensuing furor, Stephen Harper and the Conservatives decided to lie about the nature of parliamentary democracy and our traditions in order to fan the fires of our regional cleavages. All in order to cling to power. Stephen Harper created a unity crisis and essentially wrote off Quebec voters in order to save his job.
  • When that looked like it wasn't going to work, Stephen Harper decided that the best way to deal with the econmic crisis was to take 7 weeks off and fill the air with propoganda.
Conservatives, its time to back down. I think its true what some of you have been saying, privately and not so privately - "What was he thinking?" Indeed. Your biggest problem right now is Stepehn Harper. He is toxic. He is divisive. You have 7 weeks before it really starts again. You can either spend it further trying to divide and alienate the country or you can do something else.

You would not be in the trouble your are now if not for Stephen Harper and you know it.

Ask yourself what you would have done if Paul Martin had prorogued Parliament back in May of 2005 or November of 2005? Ask yourself what you would have done if he tried to destroy your funding back then.

The actions of the Conservative Party this week have nearly torn the country apart again, solely so Stephen Harper can remain Prime Minister. That's hardly standing up for Canada.


Funny time to fine the cahones. About 2 months too late. While I applaud your sudden willingness to work with other parties, perhaps you could have done something a bit sooner.

I would also expect that if you really are doing this for alturistic reasons, they you should really have an alternative budget already to go, right?

If I were your, I'd take advantage of the 7 weeks to fund raise like ther is no tomorrow, because if your party mess this up, there won't be. This started because you became too dependant on the pusre whose strings were controlled by your enemies. Enemies with questionable ethics. That you didn't seem to notice until it was almost too late reveals something about your judgement.

So priority number 1, fundraising so that Harper can't try to stick you with a shiv in the yard again (and you know he's going to try).

Priority number 2, how about firing your, ahem, "communications team" and hiring someone who knows how to work a camera and maybe iMovie. Its 2008 and you had over 24 hours notice of Harper's speech. That sorry kerfuffle last night tells me perhaps you aren't ready to lead, no matter how may MPs you have. And that can't be put on Dion, no matter how goofy he is - a good team can make him look good. In the marketing department when running agianst the Conservatives, you brought a pencil to a gun fight.

Priority number 3, Dion has to step down as leader of the Coalition. For the same reason he is stepping down as leader of the Liberals. Put Ralph Goodale in charge. Or change your leadership convention to a one emember one vote phone vote and have it done by Christmas.

The coalition is fragile and it will collapse if Dion remains leader, no matter how much people hate Harper. Its just that simple.


The heart is in the right place, but for god sake, read an economic text over the break. Pouring millions into auto plants to keep union workers making cars no one want to buy is going to be worse than laying them off. Try thinking long term.


Congratulations. You have both won and lost.

You've won because thanks to Stephen Harper's out right attacks on you, you are now seen as the defender so Quebec against the anti-French rednecks. The Conservatives have clearly given up on Quebec and written off the seats there. They are yours for the taking.

You've lost, for the same reason. Any chance you had of influencing the government is pretty much gone, since Harper doesn't even want to talk to you.

I'd like you to remember how many non-Quebec Canadians supported you in this crisis next time you contemplate separation.

I am stuck with no one now. I have said before I don't really care who wins because I cannot support either - I don't care for the lying, proto-fascist bullies in the Conservative Party nor the bumbling idiotic big-government socialists in the coalition.

I am going to be sujected to this now for 7 weeks. I offer advice for the parties to clean up their act so that I don't have to face this again and so that the angry passions we are seeing exploited today do not take us down a road we cannot return from.

Personally, I'd love to see the govenment just shut down, period.

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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

I get mail....

Received today, from my ever eager Conservative MP for Nepean-Carleton, Pierre Poilievre:

Stand up for Canada - Let the people speak

Two months ago, Canadians elected the Prime Minister with a strengthened mandate to address the global economic crisis.

Now, a Socialist-Separatist-driven coalition is attempting to overturn the results of the last election and impose a Prime Minister that Canadians rejected.

The Socialist-Separatist-driven coalition is:

  • An attack on Canada
    • Separatist participation and a Separatist veto on national decisions
  • An attack on Canada’s democracy
    • Canadians resoundingly rejected Stéphane Dion as Prime Minister
  • An attack on Canada’s economy
    • The Liberals themselves called the NDP “economically-damaging”.

Canada’s Government will use every legal means possible to:

  • Protect Canada
    • No Separatist Participation and No Separatist Veto
  • Protect Canada’s democracy
    • No imposition of a radical new Government without the people’s consent
  • Protect Canada’s economy
    • No economically-damaging agenda for the country

During a global economic crisis, Canada needs leadership. Canadian leadership. There can be no Socialist-Separatist-driven coalition without the people’s consent.

It’s time to Stand up for Canada.

It’s time to Let the people speak.

Contact Info for the leaders of this Coalition:

Stephane Dion


Fax: 613-996-6562

Jack Layton

Phone: 613-995-7224

Fax: 613-995-4565

Contact Info for the Governor General:

Phone: 613-993-8200

Email: smcook@gg.ca

Isn't that swell?

Here's my response:

Dear Pierre,

Shut the hell up.

There is nothing illegal or extra constitutional about the Liberals NDP and Bloc forming a coalition. Two months ago, the people of Canada elected their MPs to Parliament. We don't elect the Prime Minister, Parliament does. The Prime Minister is the person who can maintain the confidence of the House. Under normal circumstances that is the leader of the Party with the most seats, by convention. During a minority, it requires that the person acting as Prime Minister works with the other parties to ensure maintaining that confidence. If he loses that confidence, the government falls and we either have an election OR someone else in Parliament can try to for the government.

Well, Stephen Harper thought it better to take advantage of an economic crisis for crass,partisan political opportunism to try and destroy his political enemies by means outside of the ballot box. THAT is undemocratic.

Harper took a gamble and he lost. In a gl;obal economic crisis Canada does indeed need leadership - too bad Stephen Harper choose not to be that leader, but a petty bully with no vision or plan.

I'd like to point out that the proposed coalition represents more than 50% of the population and commands 163 seats in the House of Commons. It represents the 63% of Canadians that specifically didn't vote for Stephen Harper. It is by definition, legal, constuitutional and representing the will of Canadians.

If you don't understand how our system works, why are you an MP? If you don't like this system, propose a meanful systemic change or leave. Just stop the lying and fear-mongering. It merely shows how desparate and child-like you are.

Your points specifically:

"Socialist-Separatist-driven coalition"

Yawn. This kind of belicose language might play in the US or, but not in most of this country. Every party to the coalition is a legitmate federal party with seats in Parliament.

  • An attack on Canada
    • Separatist participation and a Separatist veto on national decisions

No, the Bloc has laid out its conditions and signed an accord that states very clearly what it will do. It says nothing about vetoing national decisions. I might point out that the Bloc represents more than just "separatists"...many non-separatist Quebecers vote Bloc because they provide good representation.

  • An attack on Canada’s democracy
    • Canadians resoundingly rejected Stéphane Dion as Prime Minister

No, that is a bald faced lie. This move is totally within the rules of our Parliamentary democracy and actually has precident, both federally and provincially, in Canadian history. "Canadians" did not reject Stephane Dion as PM because Canadians didn't vote for Stephane Dion - they only voted for their MP. STop confusing our system with the American Presidential system. Or stop purposely doing this to confuse people who may not know better. No Canadian voted for Stephen Harper either, except those people in Calgary-Southwest. He is the Prime Minister because under our rules of Parliamentary democracy, he currently has the confidence of the House. The same reason why Stephane Dion will be Prime Minister next Tuesday morning.

Stop lying and misleading.

  • An attack on Canada’s economy
    • The Liberals themselves called the NDP “economically-damaging”.

Sure, whatever. Propoganda. I do not like the NDP much either, but they will not be holding any key economic cabinet positions. I'd also like to point out that the NDP has a long record of balanced budgets when in power provincially (though not always).

Red baiting is so 1960's. Grow up.

"Canada needs leadership. Canadian leadership."

So the members of the Coalition are not Canadian? Or just the Bloc members from Quebec? Nice littel dog whistle to the anti-Quebec and anti-French base. Well done.

"There can be no Socialist-Separatist-driven coalition without the people’s consent."

Earth to Pierre, the coalition is made up of duly elected Canadian Citizens, elected fairly to the House of Commons 6 weeks ago and together the represent the majority or the electorate and the majority of the seats in the House.

The people have spoken, you just don't like what they have to say.

So really Pierre, this is pitiful. Outright lying, hyperbole and exaggeration, 60's style red baiting and baseless fear mongering. All so you can maintain your grasp on power.

How very Paul Martin Liberal of you.

What can we expect next, Pierre? Dark, forboding TV ads:

"Socialist. Spearatists. In our streets. I'm not making this up"

You really want to Stand up for Canada? Sit down, shut up and take your lumps like a man. In the game of politics, Stephen Harper and the Conservatives lost. Maybe you ought to be question the judgement of your leader in instigating this, instead of wasting your breathe lying and trying to scare people into supporting you.

BTW, good luck with that RCMP investigation into the illegal recording of the NDP caucus meeting. Since you were a party to the distribution, I'm sure they'll want to talk to you. Law and order, remember.

Enjoying your misery thoroughly

I despise liars and opportunists. I really don't care if the Coalition or the Conservative are in power. I dislike them both, on principle, but I especially dislike parties that emulate the tatics and divisive thuggery of fascists. In this case the Conservatives are the guilty ones.

Make no mistake, if and when the Coalition is the government, I'll be going oafter them for their bone-headed wastes of money in bailing out the auto-sector. Or cheap make-work projects. Or the continuation of low interest rates that are at the basis of the current market problems.

I loathe dishonesty and pandering and I don't care where it comes from.

Instead of the Coalition or the Conservatives, can we pick none of the above and just fire the whole figgin' lot of them?


In case any frothing Conservative boobs like Pierre or members of his staff are reading this after a google alert, I'll let James Laxer school you on our system of government. Now stop lying.

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Monday, December 01, 2008

No dog in the fight, but...

I am an unabashed libertarian and Market Anarchist. That means I don't want any "government" that isn't explicitly voluntary - if I don't agree explicitly to follow the rules and pay the taxes, I don't. I don't think we need coercive government of any kind to have a just and fair society. I firmly believe, based on evolution and studies in behavioural economics, that people will cooperate rather than compete most of the time, even in a true "free market" economy.

That means on principle I have no dog in the current fight between the newly minted Coalition and the Conservatives. I could care less who runs the circus in Ottawa because in the end, I will ignore any laws and rules I do not agree with, no matter who passed them.

The battle over the last 4 days has been highly entertaining and great spectator sport. It has even revived some of my imaginative juices, as can be seen in my previous post.

Now all of that being said, I am not totally neutral. On principle I agree with the Conservative policy of ending direct subsidies to political parties - no $1.90 per vote. But I want to end all subsidies and that includes the tax credit for political donations - the very tax credit used by the CPC to subsidize 75% of their coffers from the government. I think any individual or any organization should be allowed to donate any amount they deem fit to any and all political parties they wish. Any of these individuals and parties ought to be able to advertise on behalf of their chosen champion. This stand is not popular amongst my progressive friends. Neither is it popular among the right either - they know that doing away with the tax credit will cripple the Conservatives.

So, in the end, this particular move by Harper turns out to be abusing the power of government to attack his opponents, in order to, one can only assume, move to a state dominated by the CPC.

I don't care for the CPC social conservative bent and I don't care for the Liberal and NDP interference in the market for short term gain. On social issues I am squarely with the the extremes of the left and with economics I am a full blown laissez-faire libertarian.

What I cannot stand is lying and outright dishonesty, no matter who uses it. Until yesterday, I saw this whole thing as entertainment, but not any more. The Conservatives have stooped to dirty tricks, violating privacy (and probably a section or too of the criminal code) and are proud of it.

Well, that kind of authoritarian hubris, along with their mean-spirited anti-democratic behaviour now has me rooting for the Coalition. The brain trust in the CPC needs to be removed, because right now, they are a far greater threat to my liberty than any misguided NDP or Liberal economic policy, any Taliban militant or Quebec separatist combined.

So, for the Conservatives who are whining and screaming about "treason" and "coup d'etat" let me remind you:

Nothing the NDP, BQ or Liberals is doing is remotely illegal (unlike say, taping a private conversation without the express consent of those involved and distributing it). Talking strategy in a minority parliament is prudent, not sinister. Under our parliamentary system, the government is formed by the party or parties that can gain the confidence of the majority of the House. Usually that happens to be the party with the most seats, but not always - see Ontario in 1985.

If you call this a coup, you are lying. If you call this undemocratic, you are lying. If you call this against the will of the Canadian electorate, you are not just lying, you can't add.

This is the way our system works and has worked since 1867. Yes, its broken. Yes, its archaic. Yes, its terribly unfair.

So, dear Conservatives, rather than whine and whip outrageous hyperbole, perhaps you ought to look at changing the system. In the interim, perhaps try learning about it.

I don't have a dog in this fight, but that doesn't mean I like or dislike the dogs equally. The Conservative Party of Canada and Stephen Harper in particular deserve to be destroyed for their mean-spirited, authoritarian and divisive rule over the last 3 years. Their latest Nixonian moves have only served to show how proto-fascist they really are and how the people of Canada should utterly distrust them - if they did this with a Minority, what on earth would they have done with an unquestioned, 5-year Majority? I truly shudder at the prospect. As bad as the Liberals and NDP are going to be, they would not be nearly as horrific as a Conservative Majority.

I'm rooting for the Coalition.

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