Saturday, June 18, 2005
You will recall that Clitheroe made headlines when she was fired from Ontario Hydro in 2002. After her departure, details of her hefty contract were made public, along with an accounting of expenditures, which, although approved by the Board of Directors, raised the ire of the public.
Clitheroe was paid $1.6 million / year, plus expenses, each of her years at Ontario Hydro. During that time, she amassed $214, 000 in car allowance for herself and $330,000 in limousine expenses accumulated at least in part, by her nanny and two children. She also took home about $170,000 in vacation credits. When she was fired, she was looking forward to cashing in on an exit package of $6 million. As the public was made aware of her perques and salary, her exit total was slashed to $150,000.
Clitheroe's history, and her ordination would be irrelevant, and would mean nothing to me but for one thing:
With a $30-million wrongful dismissal suit against the utility still before the courts, Ms. Clitheroe cannot talk about her departure from the corporate world, but is focused on her path through the spiritual one.
Clitheroe's lawsuit against Hydro One is for $6 million she feels she is owed as part of a severance provision in her original contract, and $24 million in slander damages.
This is a woman who says she has turned to God, but who still nurses a $30,000,000 grudge. Her frustration with the way she was treated by Hydro and the government aside -- the people paying for her 'vindication' -- are the taxpayers/hydro users of Ontario. Along with the $30 million she wants in damages, we are also paying the government or Hydro to defend against it.
I don't doubt Clitheroe's belief that she was called by God to serve, but given that she has stuck with this lawsuit, it would appear that she has not found forgiveness as part of her faith. I have to question the Anglican Church's decision to elevate her to a leadership role. Clitheroe's story is one of voracious greed and pride. Harbouring bitterness and seeking retribution are hardly qualities of grace. The church should have made Ms Clitheroe choose between avenging her reputation and building a new one based on the principles of Christ.
The Post quotes Clitheroe as saying:
"You try to come to grips with the things that happen to you in life, but I don't think you can put them behind you," she said. "I'd say I'm 95% at peace."
One would think that for a person of faith, peace would come through God, not from a multi-million dollar lawsuit.
Friday, June 17, 2005
'Work to rule' is part of the vocabulary of the average kindergartener. Strikes, threats of strikes, walk-outs by school support staff, elimination of extra-curricular activities, cancellation of field trips and special events -- those are the fond memories of public school that my children will carry with them.
And now we have a government swiftly moving to bring this same sort of disruptive pattern to a daycare near you.
Quebec's unionized day-care workers voted overwhelmingly yesterday for a general strike that could close 380 day-care centres before the end of the month.
Call it 'universal chaos' or holding parents 'universally hostage' -- call it whatever you like -- but what it is, is wrong.
Kids thrive on routine. Periodic changes and interruptions are part of life, but the threat of a teachers' strike or a daycare worker strike has the double complication of being disruptive to the children, while at the same time, putting undue stress on working parents who have to scramble to make alternate arrangements for their children.
Don't get me wrong here -- I think for the jobs they do, and for the responsibility they have -- daycare workers are undervalued, and underpaid. I doubt even a union is going to change that, but unfortuately, giving them a public paycheque might prove to draw those who are more interested in a government paycheque, job security and benefits than they are in children -- much the way the teachers' unions have done of late. Let's hope what is happening is Quebec is a one-off -- an abberation that won't be repeated province after province.
Our government's push for a universal, government administered daycare programme is a recipe for labour unrest, compounding costs and bureaucratic incompetence-- all at the expense of our children.
Thursday, June 16, 2005
This from Monte Solberg, via small dead animals:
Some media reports are saying that the Conservatives will support Bill C 48, the NDP Budget Deal, in exchange for changes to C 38. WRONG, WRONG, WRONG.
We will never support C 48, because it is everything we think is wrong with the Libs. It is sloppy, without vision and open to waste. It was conceived by Paul and Jack in a Toronto hotel room that you rent by the hour. It was made up on the fly. In other words it is a classically Liberal piece of work.
We will vote against it, even while we are trying to get amendments to improve it. We may be less aggressive on it if we can get concessions on 48 or elsewhere, but we don't see that happening right now. So, for now we speak and criticize a terrible piece of legislation born of a corrupt government that will do anything to stay in power.
posted by Monte at 4:00 PM
It isn't any wonder that the average person reading the paper or listening to the news comes away thinking one thing, when the reality is the reverse.
I will give the media the benefit of the doubt, and assume they too, were misled.
We often wonder why people trust the Liberals. It's because they lie without flinching. They pervert the truth with such skill that even those within their ranks who are not part of the deceit have no sense that what they are saying is untrue. They recite their scripts like broken records, and probably before long they believe what they are saying is true, or true enough.
Based on their track record we should be expecting lies -- but here I was, reading the news and believing what it said. I had watched Politics with Don Newman yesterday, and when asked, Jay Hill (or Jason Kenney-- I forget now) had acknowledged that there were 'negotiations' but he didn't elaborate. When I later heard that the Conservatives would support C-48, I just figured there had to be a good reason -- I scarcely questioned it.
Sometimes we ask why people are so easily duped by media reports or by Liberal spin. We are, because only the very cynical among us expect the worst of people -- even people we know to be liars. It's human nature to project our own virtues and vices onto others. When one is not a liar by nature (and I don't mean a white lie now and again -- I mean a habitual/pathological lying) one can't perceive of others lying for a living. When, like the Liberals, one lies and manipulates as a matter of course, one sees only lies and schemes in everyone else. It is no wonder the Liberals have no shame about their actions. They see all of us as being as corruptable as they are -- but they see themselves as smarter. They use their contempt for us as the justification for their ignoble deeds.
I think that as a society, we are a caring, decent people -- that's why we excuse bad behaviour in our politicians, we parole dangerous criminals, we believe tyrants can be appeased, we hope terrorists can be negotiated with --- because we can't convince ourselves that there are some people so devoid of conscience and character that they can think the unthinkable, or act with cruelty or brutality, or, as the Liberals do, remorselessly lie, cheat and steal.
As bad as things can seem to get for conservatives, we should remember to be grateful.
At least we aren't them.
Craig at Conservative Life suggests that the offer of this deal will force the Liberals to be honest with their antsy backbenchers. It seems to have had that effect:
"There is no deal and there will be no deal between the government and the Conservatives to delay the civil marriage legislation until the fall. Period. "But we can guarantee that we will play no part in compromising one bill for another. If this is the path (Tory leader) Stephen Harper selects, we will let him explain to Canadians why affordable housing, environmental protection and aid for the world's poorest should be hostage to his unwillingness to allow a free vote on civil marriage take place," said Liberal spokesman Scott Reid.
But the offer sparked a glimmer of hope for those Liberals who are against C-38:
"The bill appears destined to pass, so why rush it through before summer, asked Ontario MP Paul Szabo. "I want to see the bill dealt with in a manner that no one can say it was rammed through."
I think some Liberals are going to be more disappointed by the hardline by the Liberals than are any Conservatives. Let's hope they have the guts to show it.
Jay Hill summed up the offer this way:
"(One) primary concern of ours is that we get out of the spring session with C-38 not progressing further," Hill said. "If we can get that, it'll be worth our while to see (the budget bill) C-48 go. Because eventually they're going to get C-48 anyway."
When asked how he thought Canadians would react to the Conservatives putting their opposition to the same-sex marriage above their opposition to the budget amendment and Jay Hill responded by reciting the Liberal and NDP line:
"This isn't about what Canadians are concerned about. The reality is it's about trying to make Parliament work," he said.
I love it when they turn things around.
As I said yesterday here, the budget amendment is worthless. Little, if any of the money will find its way to the various programmes for which it is so irresponsibly, non-specifically designated. The time frame for determining whether the money will even be available is beyond this government's mandate -- even if they were able to delay the election for another full year. By opposing it, they have actually inflated its value in the mind of the voters -- supporting it negates its political value.
By agreeing to support an amendment that is unpalateable, but also vague and unworkable the Conservatives are in effect, getting something for nothing.
Through their support for the amendment, the Conservatives will have gained time for more witnesses on the same-sex marriage issue -- witnesses who might shed light on the likelihood of proposed amendments standing up to a Constitutional challege. Given the recent musings of the left about charitable status of religious institutions, this extention will prove important.
They will also have negated the critics who have been able to label them: 'against post-secondary education', 'against the environment', 'against affordable housing' etc. Now, they are no longer on the wrong side of those issues.
The Conservatives have been labelled 'obstructionist'. They have just blown that label away -- and, because they can honestly say they believe none of the money will ever flow -- they are not contradicting their own policies on spending.
In the short-term, staunch conservatives might see this as just another capitulation -- but remember -- this amendment would likely pass anyway-- having 'co-operated' to 'make parliament work' can only be to their credit. They will have ended this session of Parliament on a quiet note -- no rancor, no acrimony.
They could continue the bitter fight over a bill that will ultimately pass -- and which in the end means nothing. Instead, they have made the choice to play along with the fiction.
When the Liberals start verbal S.M.O.G. that the Conservatives are 'flip-flopping' -- they can answer in all good conscience that they were co-operating.
If they are accused of 'equivocating' or 'capitulating' they can just tell the truth -- the long Liberal track record of lies gives them confidence that this amendment is just another myth, conjured up to keep their grip on power. They have no expectations of it actually materializing.
This amendment is a fraud. Since it will never come to pass, it cannot negatively affect the economy -- voting for it will have essentially the same outcome as if the bill had never even existed.
Wednesday, June 15, 2005
Full story here.
Meanwhile Gomery is going to court to clear the air over potential litigation by Jean Chretien should he not like the Justice's findings.
A letter from the government lawyers to Chretien's attorney acknowledges his right to refile a petition claiming Gomery is biased. The government initially denied any such letter, and later when caught, suggested that the letter was simply stating fact. Initially when they were questioned in the House, the government said the letter also included a strong caution that they would be vigourously challenging any future legal proceedings by Chretien. This too, turned out to be a lie.
Justice lawyer Sylvain Lussier's presentation to the commission will be made public this Friday. Although he wouldn't comment, insiders say the government lawyers are asking for a clear finding that Mr. Martin was and is clueless.
The public doesn't care who writes the cheque. It may just as well be the Liberals as the Conservatives if their outlooks are so much the same.
The Supreme Court decision on health care insurance was the perfect opportunity for them to take a bold stand and say 'enough is enough. We have to find new ways of looking at old problems'. Instead, they stood in the House and dredged up years old news about cut transfer payments leading to the current crisis. Not a winning strategy.
Chantel Hebert has a must-read in the Star today about this very issue.
I loathe the personal attacks that have been heaped on Harper. They are a distraction from the real issues. Charming manners and smooth patter might make a person fun company, but it doesn't make them a leader and it doesn't mean they're a thinker. That said, assessing his strategies is valid.
In an effort to appease his critics, Harper has allowed to the party veer left, and as Hebert points out -- it doesn't work on him.
It is hard when the Prime Minister is running around offering money here and there and everywhere, to say 'no', to some of these special (and one might argue, deserving) groups. It is easy to wonder if they did that, might they still have a chance of being elected. Rather than take the risk, Harper has decided to play along. It's a game he can't win. It alienates the base, and gives fodder for those who sense the party's weakness and then exploit the follower mentality.
Harper and his MPs have to take a bold stand on contentious issues. Same-sex isn't enough. It might please the social conservatives, but it is not enough to bring over those who would shrug at the issue. Most people are not going to look big picutre on this one -- it will take a few Supreme Court decisions undermining religions before people realise the damage this bill can impose.
The Conservatives must be ready to uphold Conservative principles. If they are going to say 'we'll honour' government agreements -- let them be prepared to say -- we will honour the government's committment to funding, but we will do so without the prohibitions and restrictions they have placed on Provincial discrection' -- in other words, the gas tax can go to build roads and fix bridges, child care provisions can go to support families who make choices other than government run institutions.
They have fought so loud and so hard against the NDP budget, but instead of stating the obvious -- that Paul Martin has no intention of ever putting money to most of the programs on on this bill -- they allow themselves to be painted as 'against post secondary education, against the environment, against affordable housing.' From the beginning they should have been saying that this bill is not important because it isn't worth the napkin it was written on. Liberals like John McKay and Ralph Goodale keep giving business the nudge and wink -- 'it's all contingent on economic performance and suplus and paying down deficit -- hinting that these targets will never be met -- at least not within this mandate. The Conservatives have kept the public thinking that this money is going to start flowing in July. Instead of treating it with the incredulity it deserves, they have raised its public perception, and when the money fails to flow -- they will be blamed or it will be remembered that they didn't want it to flow anyway. They will lose their 'right' to expose the Liberal fraud because they have played it as though it were a real deal instead of a sham.
Jack Layton can't stand up and say he's been played for a fool, but if the Conservatives start to treat this as a 'who cares -- it's never gonna happen' issue -- people might start to pay attention to all the 'ifs' in C-48.
If politics is all strategy, you have to learn to pick your battles. So far, the Conservatives have been too afraid of dropping in the polls to do that.
A lot of good it's done them.
Tuesday, June 14, 2005
Statistics Canada says there were approximately 1.7 million children under age 5 in Canada in 2004.
Assuming that just half of these children are in some sort of childcare arrangement (that would be 850,000 - a modest estimate) and assuming that all of the children in daycare were only there part-time --- that would still bring the yearly cost of 'universal' childcare to $3.4 billion/year. Daycare and government experts say that about 70% of children under five are in daycare.
The government has made a committment of just $5.1 billion over five years.
The Liberals continue to evade the real issue. Given the choice of being at home with their children, or leaving them to be raised by strangers, most parents would choose for one parent to be at home with the kids.
Given the choice between staying at home with the kids and having government workers at government facilities raise their children, my guess is even more families would have one parent at home.
The current Liberal plan takes into account today's reality, without addressing the fact that most parents are dissatisfied with this reality. Most new parents want one of them (usually the mother) to stay home with baby. Most parents of babies and school age children agree that even as the kids grow up and enter their teen years, a parent's presence in the home before and after school is just as important. Most parents have to work anyway.
Childcare is not a choice for most people; it is a necessity. It has become a necessity not because parents want to leave their babies with other people, but because punitive tax laws, over-taxation and other anti-family policies make it that way.
The government should be making it easier for parents to take the primary role of teaching and nurturing their children, rather than mandating a 'universal system' whereby parents have to make a financial sacrifice to stay home with their kids -- all parents know they will be sacrificing that extra paycheque --- but it shouldn't cost them more in taxes to make that choice.
I know that often one parent can't stay home with the kids -- sometimes there is only one parent. Yes, make daycare affordable for single parents and for low income families. But if a family chooses for one parent to stay home with their children, whenever possible -- it should be financially feasible -- not punished through higher taxation.
In todays high-tech, fast-paced, pop culture world, our children are only little for such a short time. Their tender years are fleeting and we already miss so much with the frenetic pace of everyday life. They'll have so many years to learn, to work, to become 'socialized'.
I want my children to learn their values at home -- not government values in an institutional setting.
I want them to remember summertime the way I had it. Rolling out of bed, throwing on some shorts and playing outside until we were hungry, then going back outside 'til the streetlights came on.
I want to know my kids better than some 'caregiver' does.
When my kids need a hug, I want them to reach for me.
Whatever the government does or doesn't do about daycare doesn't affect me because my kids are tweens and teens, but when they are old enough, I want them to have the option for one parent to stay at home with their kids.
Life is so short and nobody ever died wishing their kids had spent more time at daycare.
I resent the government trying to take those baby years from us, rather than helping to find a way to give them back.
Monday, June 13, 2005
Tony Valeri told CTV's Question Period:
"I really think they (the Conservatives) should think long and hard," Liberal House Leader Tony Valeri told CTV's current affairs program Question Period. "If they want to cause an election, they certainly have the ability to do that with the numbers that they have."
The breakdown looks like this as near as I can tell:
Conservatives: 97 (minus Grewal -- and assuming Stinson & Chatters are there or paired)
Liberals 134 (I'm counting Parrish as a Liberal here)
Independents (Cadman, Kilgour, O'Brien)
They're saying Cadman won't be there. Even if both of the other Independents are there, and if both were to vote against the government -- it still would just bring the Conservative/Bloc to a tie with the Liberal/NDP.
This is significant because Valeri is clearing painting the scene as though the Liberals have only a slim grip on power, when in fact, their ranks have seen a net increase since the last confidence vote, and the Conservatives have seen a net decrease.
The opposition can challenge certain aspects of the spending and the Conservatives have so far given notice that they will force votes on the Privy Council Office's $125-million budget, as well as two separate votes granting money for the federal gun registry.
It is expected that Mr. Valeri will declare those votes to be matters of confidence in the government.
The Bloc is in favour of the Gun Registry in principle, but against what they see as mismanagement of money where it is involved. The NDP is for gun control, but against the money wasted through Liberal handling of it. The Conservatives will vote against putting any more money into the gun registry, that leaves the fate of this motion up to the Bloc and the NDP.
Assuming everyone has their full contingent -- the government has no excuse to fall on any of these bills. If people are absent on the Conservative side, it will be because they are actively trying avoid an election, although they have said they won't do that.
Tony Valeri is laying the groundwork for the blame game once this is all over. Rootleweb and Civitatensis both discuss election-type billboards popping up in Alberta. I have a feeling that if the government doesn't fall over these money bills, it won't be because they didn't try.
Mr. Harper certainly deserves a lot of credit for his accomplishments . . . In short order after the merger, he organized and won a leadership race that served largely to unite the two rival clans. Then he launched immediately into an election campaign that he nearly won. Since last year's national ballot, Mr. Harper has out-fundraised the Liberals, built a stronger national party structure, orchestrated a successful policy conference that filed off the roughest edges of his party's platform, worked hard at finding new local candidates and committed himself to building a base in Quebec -- a task he almost succeeded at earlier this spring when, for a time, the Conservatives appeared set to surpass the Liberals' support in that province.
And as usual, there is always a 'but':
Still, for all he has accomplished, we cannot say with confidence that Mr. Harper is the man to take the Conservatives to power. With all the Liberals' troubles, the Conservatives should be far ahead of the ruling party in the polls. They are not, and have not been, even at the height of the Gomery commission's revelations . . .
(W)e imagine the trouble lies with how the message is being delivered. Mr. Harper is a glum, moody figure who has shown little enthusiasm for the rituals of mass-media politics and for the simple glad-handing expected of party chiefs. And instead of hiring communications staff who make up for these weaknesses, he has hired glum, clannish people who reinforce them.
In a contest of personalities, perhaps Harper wouldn't win -- but this 'angry', 'dour' nonsense is getting out of hand. The Post also says:
We have had our differences with the Tory boss, to be sure -- most notably, when we wondered in print last fall whether Canada still had a "conservative" party, given Mr. Harper's endorsement of Liberal deals with the provinces on health care and transfer payments, and the party's failure to come out boldly in support of ballistic missile defence. (He grumpily shot back that Canada had a conservative party -- "what it lacks is a national conservative newspaper.")
Why the adjective 'grumpily'? Why an adjective at all? Why the characterization of Harper as a 'glum, moody figure'?
Even if these assessments of his character are true, certainly the Post isn't advocating a slick glad-handing, smooth-talker as leader because he would give more soothing sound-bites?
Personality should not be at issue when assessing the quality of a leader. Character should. Personality allows one to engage socially, it is what one says. Character is what defines a person, and it is what one does.
For all the media accounts of Harper's lack of engaging personality, he has drawn together two divergent parties, and kept them balanced. He has been pragmatic in his choice of battles despite the media rage against him. He has overthrown tradition to show support for his MPs (by voting for the budget which included the Atlantic Accord -- Opposition parties traditionally vote against the budget, regardless of its content.) He has shown the ability to compromise with people, without compromising his principles -- the same-sex issue comes to mind with free votes being allowed on issues of conscience. He has shown loyalty and patience in the Grewal affair -- and has been reviled for it --- when Paul Martin's own actions, and his loyalty to Murphy and Dosanjh remain largely unquestioned.
It was the media who created the perception of Paul Martin, saviour of Canada's finances. It was the media who created an environment where Martin's ascention to the PMO was greeted with the awe of a coronation. We've since learned that this saviour has feet of clay -- but the media is loathe to chip away at this fragile shell of leader.
When did smiling while lying, and smug grins at having put one over on the public, become more of an asset for a leader than refusing to parse words when dealing with systemic deceit?
Why are we looking for showmanship over leadership? Jack Layton has toned down his rhetoric of late, becoming sedate, soft-talking -- does anyone believe that Jack has had an inherant reformation? It's all window-dressing. The new public persona doesn't change the underlying message of the man -- nor does it make it more palatable.
Canada is fast becoming a nation of show rather than substance -- of platitude rather than principle. The media persists in this wrong-headed search for a leader with 'charisma' and 'personality' by playing up what it perceives to be Harper's flaws.
Were the situation reversed and Martin in opposition and if a Conservative government were playing games with the democratic process, undermining the integrity of parliament, threating and accusing his MPs, and making a mockery of House procedures -- I wonder how sunny his disposition would be -- and I wonder if the media would consider it an issue worthy of so much ink and editorial space.
Sunday, June 12, 2005
Five LPs/CDs you can't do without:
1 - Danny Boy - John McDermott (I own all his CDs and really couldn't do without any of them, but this is the one I listen to endlessly -- ask my kids)
2 - Charlotte Church - Dream a Dream (this is a Christmas album, but I love it anytime)
3 - Van Morrison - Moondance and Irish Heartbeat
4 - Anything by Billy Joel (the older stuff actually -- haven't bought anything since Glass Houses)
Three LPs/CDs you own that people wouldn't expect you to own:
-- The soundtracks to Footloose, Flashdance and Fame
Three songs that make you roll down the window and crank the radio/CD player full blast:
Currently -- Redneck Woman by Gretchen Wilson
-- Hell Yeah! by Montgomery Gentry
-- You Still Own Me by Johnny Reid
and there's another one -- it's a rugby anthem called Ireland's Call -- I don't even know who does it or where I got it -- it just showed up on an old tape and sounds like a bunch of lads out on the pitch singing their hearts out. I just love it.
Three songs that struck too close to home at one point:
1. Old Man -- John McDermott
2. I Believe -- Diamond Rio
3. Much Too Young (to feel this damn old) -- Garth Brooks
Three songs you never want to hear again:
I haven't been able to think of three in particular, but I hate anything loud or with gratuitous swearing.
I've already tagged Peg City Kid because he was begging for it, and now I'll tag purplefeltangel.
Thanks, Bob. It was fun to think about.
Jean Lapierre on Question Period:
"My objective would be to win a majority of seats in Quebec for the Liberal party, and I think it's possible." He said the Liberals have a "plan of action" that they'll kick off on August 10 and let roll until the end of the year.
We're not going to be on the defensive; we're going to be on the offensive, which we couldn't be, frankly, during the Gomery inquiry because everyday we were stunned by the news that we were getting from there. And we had to react to things that we had never imagined."
I wonder how much of our money they'll spend to try to bribe Quebec, in order to help them forget how they tried to bribe Quebec before.