Monday, January 30, 2006

When the Headline Doesn't Sound Right... the story:

Conservatives could face a $1-billion legal penalty

Stephen Harper's new government could face a $1-billion legal penalty after a European aerospace firm filed a claim for damages, citing political interference by the Liberals during the 2004 purchase of naval helicopters.

Is anybody else slightly worried about the nature of that headline? Doesn't it make it sound like the Conservatives did something wrong?

Bad editorial decisions aside for the moment.

In a nutshell, the story says that the new helicopters that Chrétien's Liberals cancelled in 1993 are the ones the Canadian military had again selected as its preferred choice, until "the government [allegedly] reduced the performance criteria" to exclude the EH-101 from possible selection.

So now Agusta-Westland, the maker of the chopper, is suing the people of Canada for $1,001,000,000 in damages and punitive damages.

I think Agusta-Westland is really just looking to scare the new Tory government into re-opening the bid.

Everybody who thinks the Tories need motivation in that direction, say "Aye!"

[cricket chirping]
I Love Funny Politicians

George W. Bush:

On the controversy involving domestic eavesdropping without court apprval, Mr Bush feigned astonishment.

"You know, you can't please some people no matter what you do," he said. "Half the time they say I'm isolated and don't listen. Then when I do listen, they say I need a warrant."

Friday, January 27, 2006

Wow, Has it Started Already?

On Tuesday - the first day after the Conservatives held power in Canada in the preceding 12 years, 3 months, and 30 days - Canadians were informed that the Toronto Stock Exchange had lost a bit of ground.

Shockwaves spread through the nation - it was almost tangible. People who had voted Conservative suddenly collapsed en masse, faces in hands, and cried out to the universe in chorus, "What have we done?" News commentators predicted dark days ahead for the Canadian economy, as investors were "uncertain" about the new Parliament.

Now most of the articles I've seen actually attribute the dip to legitimate stock concerns: Reuters even said "a positive mood following the election of a minority Conservative government on Monday was spoiled by falling energy and gold-mining issues due to lower commodity prices."
On Friday, however, the strong performance of oil futures, gold stocks, and copper boosted the index "up 119.38 points to 11856.81. That was the third record close of the week for the TSX."

And as much as every article I saw on Blue Tuesday had a lot to say about the election, the positive reports we're getting today (shall we call it Transparent Friday?) say absolutely nothing about the new Conservative government because....

...[wait for it]...

...because the index went up, not down. Wouldn't want to associate the Conservatives with that, now, would we?

Must the fang-sinking begin so soon? Can't you liberals in the media give Harper & Friends a week of peace before he starts sharing blame for the world's problems with Texas W?

Don't worry, that's rhetorical.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Blue Skies

Monte Solberg, the energetic Conservative MP, has a fun blog.

Two quotes from it over the past few days:


...It was a gorgeous day and I knew that that hard wind would soon soften to a chinook, and it did. And the pale orange sky soon turned a brilliant blue, a Conservative blue. The days are getting longer and warmer now as the new Conservative era begins.


It's January and people in Calgary are wearing t-shirts and shorts. Yes, this is what the weather will be like under a Stephen Harper government.


If they campaigned on that, they'd have swept the Maritimes and the Territories, eh by?
Election Musings

The New Regional Party in Canada

The Liberal Party is now the runt in Canadian politics. They only recently accused the Reform/Alliance/Conservatives of being a regional party, but they themselves are now mostly based in three urban cores. Taking into consideration their smatterings of support on the coasts (20 seats) and the sparsely populated northern regions (11 seats), the “party of the centre” is no longer the party of Central Canada.

If you look at the electoral breakdown map provided by Elections Canada, you’ll see a massive red swath cutting across the top and middle of the country.That’s those 11 seats. In those seats, the Liberal margin of victory was significant in only four (24.7% in Yukon, 12.2% in Churchill, 10.2% in Nipissing-Timiskaming, and 9.5% in Nunavut). The rest were all very close races, with the Liberals winning by less than 5% of the votes. If the Liberals had lost about 3300 votes (total) to the runners-up in those close ridings, the map would look more like this:
[pardon the sloppy-looking image; I’ve never pretended to be a Photoshopper]

Yet even then, the Conservatives would still have a minority of 127, the Liberals 96, and the NDP 33. But looking at the eroded Liberal support across Canada reveals that they have been reduced to occupying the holes of the Blue Donuts around the cities (about 0.01% of Canada's surface area). 69 of the 103 Liberal seats are in big cities in Ontario, Quebec, and BC, and they have 3 seats in Regina and Winnipeg. Who’s a regional party now?

Liberal Leadership

When Paul Martin announced during his concession speech that he was resigning, I slapped my forehead in disbelief. I don’t want him to resign – I think an angry old man in charge of the Liberal Party will do the Conservatives and Canada a lot of good. It’s going to take time to undo the damage the Grits have done to the country – not withstanding whatever good they have admittedly done – and a functional Liberal Party will make it difficult to find that time.

My hope for the new Liberal leader is Allan Rock. He’s an old fashioned Chrétienite, and has an arrogance and bluster that will further break up the Liberals. I’d think he has a good shot at taking the leadership too – the core Liberal base must be frustrated with the incompetence of Martinism.

Spoiling Ballots

One of the many tidbits I picked up during this election was that not only is it illegal to spoil one’s ballot, it’s pointless because nobody notices. Yet the election results do include the number of ballots marked incorrectly. With the simplicity of the Canadian ballot, I find it hard to believe that many people spoil them accidentally.

Here’s an interesting fact: Winnipeg South’s Conservative candidate Rod Bruinooge defeated Liberal veteran Reg Alcock by 111 votes. There were 111 spoiled ballots in Winnipeg South. If those voters who spoiled their ballot voted Liberal it may have spoiled Rod’s victory party.

Although the official count of rejected ballots isn’t fully available as some of the results are still preliminary, an interesting trend emerges with what’s already been counted.

*not all spoiled ballots are yet confirmed; this data is preliminary

You’ll see that of all disenfranchised voters, Albertans are the least disenfranchised. As you move up the scale, it’s plain that when any ballots are spoiled, it’s generally worse in the provinces that vote more to the left. Note that in the above table I’m considering the Conservatives as right, and the Liberals, NDP, and Bloc as left-leaning. I’ve factored out the minor parties from the left/right equartion, mostly because math is hard enough without trying to figure out where a Libertarian, Green, or Independent stands on the spectrum.

Les Têtes du Bloc

The Bloc should hurry up and close up shop already. They’re the ultimate election-promise breakers. One term, remember? Their existence within our national Parliament is so ridiculous that it defies analogy.

But I’ll try.

It’s like a pickle going to a party for cats. There’s no similarity, and no real direct opposition, so what’s the point of it attending? I could understand if a dog wanted to attend, for it would have a real agenda. If a mouse were to be invited, that too would make a bit of sense. But a pickle at a cat party is pointless. Cats don’t like pickles, and pickles are indifferent towards cats.

Of course, the Bloc won’t leave Parliament until it’s “good for Quebec” to do so. Here’s hoping the Conservatives can improve provincial relations enough to cause that condition to be met.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Want an Easy Way Into Canada?

Attention American criminals, or anybody desperately wanting to get into Canada!

There is an easy way in, if you want to avoid the emotional discomfort of this type of conversation:

Canadian Border Guard: "Where ya going to, eh?"
Murder Suspect Fleeing Police: "I'm wanted for murder and need a place to lie low for a bit."
CBG: "Bringing any liquor into the country?"
MSFP: "Only what's already in my system."
CBG: "Any weapons?"
MSFP: "Hell yeah."
CBG: "I'm afraid I can't let you in, eh."
MSFP: "Ok, I guess I'll go turn myself in peacefully."

Most criminals don't want things to go that way. So if you are fleeing police, simply phone ahead and let Canada Border Services know you're coming, and that you're armed and dangerous. They'll leave their posts "if they believe they are in imminent danger" - and who can blame them, for they aren't allowed to carry firearms - so you'll have a clear path through.

That is, if those pesky Yanks don't get in your way (thanks to the unnamed deputy sheriff who stopped them, by the way).

If this had happened a few days ago, we might have had a Conservative majority.

No disrespect to our fine men and women who guard the border - kudos, in fact: it speaks volumes of your bravery that you approach each visitor (a.k.a. potential threat) with no recourse to defend yourself or your country. Here's hoping our new government will give you the tools you need!

h/t Small Dead Animals

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Really, the Government should be Conservative Anyway

Because who's on the right from this unchanging perspective?

Liberals, welcome to the stubby side of the mace!

More cool Parliament pics here:

Sunday, January 22, 2006

How to Make Paul Martin do Symmetrical "Thumbs Up"

Wow, he's kinda freaky.
Phrases Paul Martin has Said that I Wish Were True

"Let me be perfectly clear." If I could, I would!

"Fundamentally..." I wish you had some fundamentals.

"This election is about values." Ok, so what are yours? Really - what are they? 'Cause I can't tell.

This Just In #2*

Paul Martin's Liberals are making a last ditch effort to voters, with a Conservative win seeming inevitable on Monday.

"We know that Canadians are aware of the imperfections of our party, and that they want to hold us to task for the mistakes of the Chretien government. All indications are pointing to a Liberal Opposition," he acknowledged to a crowd of party faithful in Vancouver Saturday night. "But let me make one thing perfectly clear. My government was not involved in any of those scandals. This is a new era in Canadian politics."

He appealed again to red Tory, NDP, and Green party voters, saying, "Give us one more chance. Even if Canada wishes to hold the Liberal Party to another minority, we'll accept the will of the people. All we ask is for a bit of time to control the House of Commons, to go in and dig through the financial records, and to correct any irregularities we find."

As he said this, several of his aides behind him at the podium looked at each other uncomfortably. One of them approached Martin and whispered something in his ear, but Martin gave him a stern look and he went back to his place.

"Even if you won't give us the honour of forming the government again, we ask for a 1-day mandate to go back to the government offices and straighten out some issues we left behind. After all, we thought we'd be going back anyway when this campaign began. But fundamentally, we will accept the will of Canadian voters, if you allow us one day - even one hour - to go tie up some loose ends."

At this several of his aides attempted to strongarm him away from the podium, but he punched one in the face and kneed another in the groin before they backed down.

"Even if you don't give us an hour - five minutes is all we ask. There are some pressing needs we have to attend to... including removing all the S and H keys from the computer keyboards. But all kidding aside, even thirty seconds should do it. Just enough time to pull some files and shred them, or to log on to the network and delete certain data, that's all we ask."

At that point, a naked man streaked through the audience, wearing a Stephen Harper mask and waving a Conservative flag, shouting, "Vote for me! I'll abolish gay marriage and abortion, I'll institute a draft and send troops to Vietnam, I'll outlaw everything in Leviticus, I'm Stephen Harper!"

Several witnesses identified the man as the same Martin aide who had been silenced earlier.

When the commotion died down and the RCMP had taken the man into custody, Paul Martin had left the podium.

Moral of the story: don't give them a chance to tidy up the books, Canada.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

The Benefits of Having a Humour Consultant on Your Campaign Bus

Question posed to Paul Martin on the Liberal site blog:

As a leader, do you believe you have any characteristics in common with the Capt. Kirk from the original series?

PM responds: "Well, I certainly had more in common with him back then than I do now that he's a fat lawyer."

I'm no scrooge; I'll acknowledge funny when I hear it.

In unrehearseable life however, Martin's funniness is more like burping grandma funny than gosh you're witty funny.
...And Counting, and Recounting

Today is my 31st birthday. My wife surprised me with a party last night.

I gave a little speech to the crowd, saying "I don't know half as you half as much as I should like, and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve."

There were enough Tolkien readers in the room to get it.

I also said, despite the reception of a really cool gift, that what I really wanted was a Conservative majority for my birthday.

So come on Canada, be nice to a guy who's too young to ever have had his party in power.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

This Just In #1*

Paul Martin has admitted to a press conference that the Conservatives are running a better campaign, have a better platform, and will govern more effectively.

The Prime Minister stated, "Fundamentally, this election is about values. We have come to realize, that fundamentally, Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party have a lot of good ideas. Their values have come through with astonishing clarity, and they are values that all Canadians believe. They deserve your vote."

He even went so far as to retract many of his hostile statements from the last few weeks that have not had their intended effect on the polls. "I've accused Mr. Harper of aligning himself with all sort of strange characters, but my statements were fundamentally incorrect."

Last week the Liberal Party pounced on a perceived flaw in the Conservative's budget plan. This too, Martin retracted. "We admit that when we looked at the Conservative budget, we were looking at it from a partisan angle, and were trying to score political points. Fundamentally, that approach is not the way to analyze a budget. Many of our top minds, including Finance Minister Ralph Goodale, got carried away by desperation. That was, fundamentally, unfair."

He concluded his press conference that announcing that he had already voted in advance polls for Georges-A. Bastien, the Conservative candidate in Lasalle-Emard where Martin himself is running for re-election.

The moral of the story: Fundamentally, are we really to be surprised that the Liberals think we've got it wrong?
Attention Class!

I'll be starting a new type of posting here. Any pieces under the title "This Just In" are news stories I've made up entirely; they will include copious amounts of sarcasm and irony - but each one will have a moral.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The Efficacy (Or Lack Thereof) of Politics

As one who identifies himself primarily as a still-eager Catholic convert, I must admit that many of my recent posts have been specifically unrelated to my Catholicism.

I lived in Ottawa, our nation's capital, for a few years, and my favorite way to blow an afternoon was by going to Question Period and observing. This was back in the heyday of Stockwell Day and Jean Chretien and Jane Stewart and Don "Binder Boy" Boudria, and it was an exciting time to observe.

During those years, I began to realize that I may be called to enter politics someday. This isn't something I tremendously want to do; it's more something that I feel I must do out of a sense of civic duty, as there are few people in Parliament that relate to my worldview and can reliably represent it in government (a notable exception is Jason Kenney).

Yet even with that, I'm under no illusions about the ability of politics or government to do any good. British political historian Edward Jenks argued that the main purpose of government can be found in its origins - to be a military provider. Thus the sword is a more accurate symbol of government than the ballot box. Western democracy is a recent innovation in governing styles, and it will crumble once the public realizes they can vote themselves the contents of the treasury (I believe it was Plato that first stated that) - and that's a path we've already set several strides upon in Canada.

Government is there to keep the peace and to judge those who would destroy it. Politics is the art of convincing people that one person or group can govern better than another, and it can never be anything more. And neither government nor politics can truly help the poor, provide universal health care, or educate the uneducated. Historically, these social requirements have been fulfilled by the Church. One could argue that giving government the responsibility for social welfare, health care, and education has eroded the Church's contribution to these fields, much to our detriment.

We recently had two nuns over to spend some time with our family. It's important for us to present a religious vocation as an appealing life to our kids, and what better way than to become familiar and intimate with men and women who have sacrificed earthly marriage for divine marriage?

Yet these nuns are not from around here; they hail from Nigeria, where vocations are flourishing. Our Canadian government has impacted the Church quite negatively by quietly and slowly removing all elements of religion from health care and education, and that, among other factors, has had an impact on vocations. We need to take these fields back; not with an eye on political power, but with an eye on the poor, the sick, and the uneducated, to demonstrate the love of Christ for all people.

For bonus points, who is the one politician of renown in recent years who has recognized the place of faith in public life as such? Hint: US Democrats think he's the devil.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Paul Martin Actually Said:

Ralph Goodale "is a person of the greatest integrity, and he will not be stepping down."

Goodale will not be stepping down.

In Wascana.

In Saskatchewan.

In Canada.

We are not making this up.

Choose your Canada.
Open Letter to Stephen Harper


A Suggested Chess Move (xa8)

Dear Mr. Harper,

How about the following deal to the Liberals:

Derek Zeisman will immediately withdraw from the race in his riding and never enter politics again if found to be at fault, and Ralph Goodale will do the same.

Pawn for Rook.

Convert Man

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Something Silly That I Heard

Paul Martin, our soon-to-be-less-entrenched Prime Minister, was shown recently at a photo-op playing touch football with some 10-year old kids. Afterward, at a press conference, he referred to his sagging poll numbers, and tried to muster the troops with the following allusion to football:

"It's only the 3rd quarter, and you don't spike the ball until... [real awkward pause while he searches his mind] ... the game is over."

Then he looked around anxiously to see if the reporters picked up on the fact that actually you spike the ball when you score a touchdown... which, like the Conservatives going up in the polls, means more points.

Spiking the football, by the way, is like "gay marriage" - it's allowed in Canada. Unlike "gay marriage," however, there is a limit (item d).

Monday, January 09, 2006

See What Happens When You Give Up Absolutes?

On December 21, 2005, our accursed Supreme Court, in R. [Her Majesty The Queen, a.k.a. the Crown] v. Labaye, decided that there is no societal harm intrinsically elemental to the allowance of "swinger" clubs.

David Warren's site first advised me of the grotesqueness of this story, and when I dug into the actual details of the ruling, I was somewhat enlightened.

For really, the court had no choice but to rule as it did. I say this with great sadness.

For decades now, we have loosened the definition of morality by straying from the natural laws that God has placed in our hearts. Many of these laws are common to all the great religions, and no state that has abandoned them has lasted.

Sexual norms do exist. Let's start with an extreme:

  • It's wrong to have sex with kids.

Ok? Everybody agreed? Let's go down the ladder from there:

  • It's wrong to have sex with animals. [Well, it's kinda gross, but to each his own, eh? I'm not gonna stop ya, if you're not hurting anybody. Just stay away from my dog.]
  • It's wrong to have group sex. [Hang on there... the Supreme Court just said it was fine! Not my cup of tea, but it's nice to know the option is available to me should I ever swing that way!]
  • It's wrong to have sexual relations with somebody of the same gender. [Whoa, buddy, now you're being offensive and hateful - some of my best friends are gay, and they're the sweetest, gentlest people you'd ever hope to meet, and I daresay more tolerant of your bigotry than you are of their lifestyle!*]
  • It's wrong to have unmarried sexual relations with anybody. [Geesh! What is this, 1950?]
  • It's wrong to have contracepted sexual relations with your spouse. [Hey dumbass! The world is overpopulated!** Stop your Catholic breeding and get with the times!]
*sigh... please read this
**actually, it's not [long article, but well worth it]

As recently as 1929, all branches of the Christian tree proclaimed that contraceptive behaviour was immoral. Then the Anglican Church held the 1930 Lambeth Conference, in which it put one foot on the slippery slope by giving this ever-so-small bit of leeway:

Resolution 15

Where there is clearly felt moral obligation to limit or avoid parenthood, the method must be decided on Christian principles. The primary and obvious method is complete abstinence from intercourse (as far as may be necessary) in a life of discipline and self-control lived in the power of the Holy Spirit. Nevertheless in those cases where there is such a clearly felt moral obligation to limit or avoid parenthood, and where there is a morally sound reason for avoiding complete abstinence, the Conference agrees that other methods may be used, provided that this is done in the light of the same Christian principles. The Conference records its strong condemnation of the use of any methods of conception control from motives of selfishness, luxury, or mere convenience.

Voting: For 193; Against 67.

Now the Catholic Church is the only one that holds to the original ground that Christianity had been commissioned with (quote from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2370)

Periodic continence, that is, the methods of birth regulation based on self-observation and the use of infertile periods, is in conformity with the objective criteria of morality. These methods respect the bodies of the spouses, encourage tenderness between them, and favor the education of an authentic freedom. In contrast, "every action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible" is intrinsically evil: Thus the innate language that expresses the total reciprocal self-giving of husband and wife is overlaid, through contraception, by an objectively contradictory language, namely, that of not giving oneself totally to the other. This leads not only to a positive refusal to be open to life but also to a falsification of the inner truth of conjugal love, which is called upon to give itself in personal totality.... The difference, both anthropological and moral, between contraception and recourse to the rhythm of the cycle... involves in the final analysis two irreconcilable concepts of the human person and of human sexuality.
Getting back to R. v. Labaye, I must grant that most people would wonder how else the court should rule. We have abandoned so many of the critical elements that are foundational to the recognition of the evil of group sex that no wonder the Court said "there seems to be no evidence that the level of alleged harm rose to the level of incompatibility with the proper functioning of society."

O for a strong axe to hew the ladder down! For the sheep are climbing out of the pen, and are being set upon by wolves on the other side.

Friday, January 06, 2006

On Hope

a poem I composed for our late Great John Paul II shortly after he died:

In triumph, the sacred keys fall to the marble floor,
The clatter echoing through the vaulted halls of antiquity.
The gatekeeper sleeps, but the gate is secure
As a rock which laughs at the futile rage of the foaming sea.

The light atop the rock shines in the darkness
And the darkness cannot overcome it.
"Be not afraid!" its coded message blinks
In hopeful concern for a world in ruins,
In love for man gone mad with his excesses.

The red birds fly, in sorrow and in joy,
To the Eternal City where one of them will be exalted
To become the servant of all.

A new hand, withered with age, picks up the fallen keys
And the succession continues,
Full truth ever intact, ever tactful in truth.
Crowned with white
And washing my feet.

April 7, 2005

Farewell papa! I will meet you under the Tree of Life!

Monday, January 02, 2006

With Trembling Step Tread I

Like a nine year old boy whose last adventure on river ice was as a very cold and wet six year old boy, I have once again stepped out onto the thin ice of the world wide web.

It was January 1, 2003, that I disconnected the internet. Reconnecting it has been no small feat for me, as my great vice has been, nigh on two decades now, sins of lust. And the 'net holds lust a-plenty... perhaps moreso than it did three years ago. I don't intend to find out.

My wife and I are beginning to see that we cannot contribute to our society in a fully meaningful way without being able to connect to its most vital mode of information transmission. So with prayer to God and his saints (especially St. Benedict) we are back online.

So now I can blog from home... if CyberPatrol lets me. Oh, by the way, all you paranoidiacs at who protest site filtering software - I invite you to consider the plight of a man in my situation. Self control is a virtue that I have learned some of, yet it is only as absolute as my will, and my will has been trained in a sinful manner. So I welcome a watchful eye. Let Jesus be my Big Brother.

Lord, have mercy.... St. Benedict and St. Michael - pray for me... increase my faith and my self control.