Canadian Politics from Canada's Centre

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

"Quip Of The Day"

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Hello my fellow Canadians, yes it is time for another quip of the day:

Don't do drugs...in broad day light.

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Help Wanted

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We're looking to grow the team here at Centrerion. Contact Shplarz @ hotmail.com if you're interested. In 200 words or less, tell us about your interests and what you can do for our readers and the website. Nothing formal, but be clear. Most of all, we're looking for people with a strong work ethic. Beware, though: this blogging stuff is more addictive than crack cocaine for a skinny blonde supermodel.
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Benefits and advantages include:
  • Respect. We understand that a good experience begins and ends with respect. We intend to show recognition through awards, such as idea of the week, site developer of the month, analysis/policy proposal of the month, etc. Politeness (except perhaps in satirical posts) is also big here. Everyone has their dignity, and we know and understand that.
  • Interesting work, and the freedom to get it done. We want people who are driven. If you're motivated to work hard, we're motivated to give you fascinating work. Developping a new website and growing it is a challenge, and we recognize that you may have skills we don't. So we're ready to give you work in your area of expertise, but every now and again we'll switch things up and have the web developers write some content, the writers shoot some ideas off on the site design, and so on. Most importantly, you'll have the liberty to get things done. With respect comes the understanding you can do things your way and it'll be a success even if we'd have thought of approaching things differently.
  • A sense of accomplishment. If you're prepared to work hard on this, we're prepared to share site statistics, credit, and other marks of achievement with you. See also respect, above.
  • Joining an established blog. You don't have to do a lot of the grunt work involved in establishing a blog, because it's already been done. We also have a consistent readership, a name (built at least partly n publication in Time magazine, the Gazette (Montreal's daily English paper), and the Suburban (the Anglo weekly), and relationships with other bloggers and sites.
  • Fun way to get volunteer hours done that can also count for work experience. This would be important to people interested in just about any jobs related to the web, plus work in journalism, management, political organizations, and the media (this also applies to studies in these fields... it looks good on an application) References could be provided.
  • Enjoy the fruit of the rest of the team's work. Jiggy gets a bigger readership than if he were on his own because we have a readership, and have relationships that periodically send us more. Designers and optimizers can do what they enjoy, and not worry about providing content, etc.
  • Money/gifts in the distant future. I have a vision for Centrerion's growth. Even as Andrew, Ryan, David and I redefine this vision, growth will be an important part of it. If we get big enough, we can potentially see some ad revenues and share the wealth. This isn't a promise, but it's an achievable and fun-to-think-about goal. At the moment, as a reminder, things are entirely on a volunteer basis.
Candidates should have a strong interest in, and time (1-3 hours a week) for one or more of the following:
  1. Writing analysis and or satire (including comedy) - If you're a centrist and/or moderate with a good eye for analysis/commentary, you're welcome. Also, experts in health, education (not just post-secondary), particular provincial issues (especially Quebec) and other domains of interest in Canadian federal politics, foreign affairs and economics are welcome. Finally, we're interested in caricaturists, comedians, and other funny people .
  2. Search Engine Optimization - We're already on top for certain words/phrases, but we want to be on top for more. You needn't necessarily have prior knowledge, since much of this can be learnt, but prior knowledge and expertise would be nice.
  3. Template and Web Design - If you can build websites that are easy to use, easy on the eyes, and interactive, let us know. It's good experience if you want to join a company or start your own.
  4. Web promotion - Can you help build our traffic ? Even if you can't we'll happily teach you, so long as you're willing to put in the effort.
  5. Leadership - People with leadership and organizational skills, preferably with an interest in one of the above, would be appreciated.
If you have what it takes, Centrerion: Canadian Politics wants you. We're looking to set 6 month and 12 month goals for the site, so the sooner you join, the more you can have an impact on our discussion.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Politics of Hockey

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It's time for some politics everyday Canadians actually care about. I mean, of course, the politics of hockey.
This post is gonna keep it simple, and for those of you begging for me to get back (thanks mom), I'm still not back full time.
The Politics of Hockey ...
a) Why the hell did the refs stop calling anything besides a blatant stick to the buck teeth since, oh say, late November?
b) Why is it that CBC airs Leafs games instead of Habs or Sens games? The Habs at least won a few early on, and believe it or not, there are people here in La Belle Province who want to watch hockey with Enlish commentary. The Sens are always winning (newsflash/surprise of the year), and definitely offer more exciting hockey. And don't tell me ratings, cuz this is publicly funded; profit's no motive, and for every Leafs fan there's two Leafs bashers. Why can't the CBC split the country for when two teams are playing in two Canadian markets both teams can watch their home game instead of one game going to PPV (and it's always the (usually) more exciting NON leafs game that is bumped)
c) Don Cherry does as much for Separatism as the Liberals. Why does he get to stick around when he pisses off at least 1/5 of our nation (Quebec = 7 m ppl. Canada = 31 m. 7/31 = .22), to say nothing of European immigrants? I say this, and I happen to like his suits.
d) Why can't the CBC broadcast any NHL game other than the Leafs in HD. I much rather watch the Habs or Sens in HD on the first game then watch the Canucks in HD in the second game - CBC has refused to show any games in HD.
Damn politics

Note: I (Andrew) edited this one a little bit, a few more grumblings about the CBC. I've also created an HNIC page over at the Canadian Policy Wiki @ http://canadianpolicywiki.ca/index.php/HNIC

"Quip Of The Day"

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Wow it has been such a long time!! Sorry for not updating my blog in so long I was too busy having a life. Now on to less serious business.

Have you ever noticed that ugly people have really good looking friends? That got me thinking (I know that doesn't happen often) I have a lot of good looking friends...

Well thats it for today, I'll try and update my blog more often.

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Palestinians Chose Hamas: This Moderate's Analysis

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Moderates need to understand that Palestinians Chose Hamas. Your favourite moderate's moderate analysis shows that Palestinians picked Hamas, they didn't just reject Fatah.

Explaining the electoral victory of terrorist group Hamas, Adrien Wing has repeated something I keep hearing from all the 'experts': "Hamas won primarily because the Palestinian people were fed up with the 10-year leadership of the Fatah party."
I feel like this is more mainstream media repetition. I noticed this a lot during the Canadian election, too, where all the "experts" seem to agree and share the same analysis.
To date, however, I have yet to see anyone prove this claim that Hamas won because Fatah was being thrown out. I've only seen assertions, and as we all know, saying something is so, doesn't make it so.

What proves Palestinians voted for Hamas because they're sick of Fatah? Local polls can't prove it, because local polls were showing a Fatah victory.
The platform doesn't support the claim. that the election result was a rejection of Fatah. The Hamas election platform, from what I could tell, was principally that Hamas threw Israel out of Gaza through violent terrorism. Though that claim is unquestionably false (Ariel Sharon was defeated by terrorists... Yeah, uhuh, and Martians have really been fixing the World Series all these years.), it doesn't mean Palestinians didn't believe it. Furthermore, Hamas has never hid that it's an Islamist group dedicated to the destruction of Israel. In fact, it's been a lot more intellectually honest than Fatah, which calls for the destruction of Israel without recognizing it's existence. "Let's kill the invisible man!" kind of thing. The point is, Hamas had an election platform, and the main planks are not fighting corruption (though Hamas does have a reputation for providing social services and being uncorrupt, relative to Fatah). Their platform is violent struggle and radical Islam.

Another challenge to the experts' idea is to ask why people turned to Hamas if they were just turfing Fatah? I don't know for certain, but I imagine that amongst the apparent multitude of parties there must at least have been a few who weren't bent on destroying Israel and replacing it with an Islamist republic (notice I'm honest enough to say I don't know when I don't know, as opposed to the experts...). It's possible people were turfing Fatah, but the fact there were more than 2 parties means they also chose Hamas.

The experts are as worried as I am by Palestinian support for terrorists. That's the explanation for their analysis. They don't want to believe what has happened because it's worrisome.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Carnival and Site Acknowledgements

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A bunch of places have been linking here recently, and we didn't take the time to thank 'em, basically because I've been sick.

We are now linked up to the Moderate Voice, which also ranks highly on google for Moderate Analysis .

Carnivals

Economics and Finance
The Carnival of Personal Finance at Be Capitalism has posted up nice and high in the list, for the post on Canadians spending beyond their earnings, and what it meant for GST calculations. Thanks a lot! It's also got good posts on saving for gifts and so on.

The Carnival of Debt Reduction at Canadian Capitalists also has us number 3 on their list, for the same post.

Carnival of the Capitalists has the same post, but for whatever reason we're way down their list. BOOOO!
have linked here because of the post on

Science
The Tangled Bank has agreed to let Centrerion host a summer edition, for which we're quite grateful.

Humour
Mark Rayner's The Skwib has the Carnival of Satire running. It's got one of our QOTDs.

A submission to the Carnival of Comedy at Pereiraville went awry with a broken link for some reason. Thankyouto Pereira for the courteousness of still linking here and for explaining why we didn't get in.



Thanks again for the links everyone.

Portion Sizes and Obesity: Variables

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Here's something I've been promising for ages, and which finally works. summaries of the variables analyzed in the studies, which were part of the research my partner and I did on portion sizes and obesity. I keep reading more and more research on the topic, without seeing anything being done, so I'm going to look into writing some solutions to the problem. Some will be policy, but I think we need to fight fire with fire here. Hershey is bigger and better, so perhaps we need to advertise that hershey's made us bigger too. And it's not all roses, like when Garfield said: "there's more of me to love." Anyways, here's the info on portion size study variables. At the end is a bit of the goals my partner and I had set for our own research.


Introduction

In recent decades, the types of food we eat, along with portion sizes, have been brought to the fore of the popular conscience. For example, throughout North America, young children are presented with the ever-so-popular food pyramid as a guide to proper eating.

That said, one wonders what people believe about their own eating habits, specifically in terms of portion size, and foods eaten. Researching this in a college setting would be of great interest, due to the common perception that post-secondary students’ eating habits are poor. Of course, the scientific method does not accept such generalizations without valid proof. Research having shown that portion sizes have been growing since the 1970s, it would be worthwhile to find out whether college students contribute to this trend, and whether or not they are aware that they do, if that be the case.

Previous Findings

Variable 1: portion size

Statistically speaking, according to Cook, Goldman, Mickle, Mitchell and Smiciklas-Wright (2003), portion sizes grew for one third of foods examined. Young and Nestle (2002) discovered the same trend in regards to meals bought ready for consumption outside the home. For example, portion sizes of candy bars today are much larger than they were years ago. Levitsky and Youn (2004) found that when presented with large portion sizes, undergraduate students ate more than when they made up their own portion sizes from food taken from a buffet. Fraser, Sharar, Shai and Vardi (2003) found that people over the age of 65 ate smaller portions than people between the ages of 35 and 65.

Variable 2: age

Cook et al.’s research was extensive, and found that food consumption grew in all age groups covered, these groups being from 2 years of age and up. Fraser et al. found that portion sizes depended on age.

Variable 3: types of food eaten

Young and Nestle’s research focused on food consumed outside the home and from specific venues. Mainly, these were fast food outlets, family-oriented restaurants, and takeout places. Foods from these sorts of venues are similar, and Young and Nestle found that the portion sizes of these foods grew since the 1970s. Fraser and co., in carrying out their research, categorized the foods to be eaten, and found that older participants ate more salad, though less of everything else. Cook and his fellow researchers discovered that a majority of the types of foods grew in their consumption, though some did decline.

Variable 4: gender

None of the foods examined by Cook et al. were different over time for all age/sex groups studied. Some unique group-specific differences were found. For example, beer portion sizes for men 40-59 increased. Overall, important differences were generally in the same direction across groups, though, as mentioned above, some groups did not show change. Although it was not a major factor in their research, Fraser et al. made note of the differences in portion size for both men and women in both age groups. Levitsky and Youn noted the gender of their sample, but it was not a factor they considered.

The Present Study

Previously, researchers showed that portion sizes for a variety of food groups have been growing over time and generally speaking across both age and sex groups. Sex and age were noted to have an impact on quantities consumed and preferences for different foods. In other words, people are eating more than they used to, irrelevant of what’s on their plate. How much more and what their choice of food is will be affected by age and sex.

The purpose of this research, then, is to determine whether college students (e.g. youth 17-20) are aware of these trends in nutrition. More specifically, the present study will look at these students beliefs about their own eating habits. That means assessing their perceptions of how much they’re eating relative to their forebears, of what they’re eating relative to their forebears, and whether they know that their sex has a role in determining what food choices they make.

Non-random quota sampling will be used. The groups categorized by the quotas will be divided along gender lines and age. In order to carry out the quota sampling, a list will be obtained from the registrar’s office regarding students’ age and sex. Failing this, rough estimates will be obtained in a similar manner. If this too should fail, the research will use quotas of 50% for each gender, and 25% for ages 17-20, with subjects older than 20 being disregarded.

The method used to evaluate the sample’s perceptions will be a survey of no more than 50 questions. These will be comprised of multiple choice questions and short (2-3 lines max.) essay questions. In order to more easily obtain cooperation from our subjects, the survey will be designed to take no longer than 5 minutes.

A dual-pronged approach will be used. Blunt questions such as “On a scale of 1-5, do you believe portion sizes have been changing (5 being maximal growth, 3 being stability and 1 being a decline)?” will compose one third of the questions. The other two thirds will be more subtly worded, in order to avoid possible social-desirability issues.

Another issue in the selection and phrasing of this study’s questions will be assessing subject’s body image. This might be an extraneous variable. For instance, people considering themselves to be overweight might think they eat more, or eat unhealthy foods frequently. Similarly, someone with a healthy image of self might perhaps attribute that to their good eating habits. The questions in this section will of course be on the subtle side of things, given that people are taught that they should be happy with their self-image (at least by those authorities not selling a diet book).

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If you're interested in seeing my other posts on the subject, here they are.

Portion Sizes and Obesity - The Research ... a very long annotated bibliography. Rich in detail, but you'll need time.
Portion Sizes Linked to Obesity, Centrerion Tells Time - Time magazine published my letter on the issue. I guess some of what I'm writing makes sense. You can see the text they published.
Young and Nestle's study was looked at by my partner and I. Here's an abstract of their work.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

So Frank McKenna resigns

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He's going to be the best bet for leadership of the Liberal Party. The Liberals will like to have their leader ready to go in case the Conservative's blow it and they want to call (another) election.

We should see a leadership convention very very soon.

Lecentre on break

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Just a quick note.
I'm feeling down with a runny nose, fever, etc., so I'm going to take some time off. I'd like to ask the rest of the team to pick up the slack with more quips of the day and crossposts.
-lecentre

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Quip of the Day (aka Quote it! aka QOTD) - Martin Resigns

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Prime Minister de-elect Paul Martin today resigned as Liberal boss. Explaining himself, the clear and concise Mr. Dithers said: "Let me be perfectly clear. I have elected to decide that if I can't win the seats, or ban mostly banned guns, I am sure - and this has always been my clear compromise position - that I can enjoy Canadian values such as the quality upholstering of chairs. That is, I intend to comfortably watch the notwithstanding clause' use sitting down."

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Quebec Humour

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More from Derision 2006. Anyone with a minor knowledge of quebec/canadian politics will appreciate this.


Where the leaders are today.
Paul Martin
Doing laundry

Stephen Harper
Putting something out of its misery

Jack Layton
Trimming 'stache

Gilles Duceppe
Doing Landry

Martin: Entire Budget to Ontario and Montreal - Quoted

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This from Derision 2006. It's a short news blurb style, and damned funny. I wish I could learn from them for the QOTD.

Hours before voting, Martin pledges to spend entire federal budget in Ontario, Montreal.
January 22, 2006 03:13PM (EST)
TORONTO (CNB) – Attempting to shore-up support in vote-rich Ontario and Montreal just hours before election day, Liberal Leader Paul Martin has promised to spend Canada’s entire $210 billion budget in Ontario and the Montreal region. “In these difficult days we have to make hard choices,” said Martin. “Electing a Liberal government may lead some Albertans to become more self-sufficient, but for Ontario and Montreal, ooooo baby!”

They have plenty more great material, like:

Harper promises tax rebates for gay divorce.
TORONTO (CPB) – Conservative Leader Stephen Harper made his final policy announcement of the election at a campaign stop in Toronto, pledging massive tax rebates for gay couples whose marriage dissolves. “My party is committed to protecting the rights of gays,” said Harper. “But hey, if things don’t work out, don’t worry about paying your taxes for two or three years. It’s all good.”

Harper promises Medicare with “a tier for everyone.”
WATERDOWN, ON (CS) – Speaking at a scheduled press conference this morning, Conservative Leader Stephen Harper outlined his party’s strategy for a renewed health care system. “I understand and appreciate the diversity in Canada’s population,” said Harper. “And that diversity will be reflected in our approach to health care. Each Canadian will be assigned a Medicare tier that’s tailored to meet their needs. A tier for everyone and everyone in their tier – that’s Conservative Medicare.

Behind in polls, Martin forms crack "Grittier Grits" team.
TORONTO (CDM) –Facing an uphill battle in the final days of the election, Paul Martin has formed an elite squad of "Grittier Grits" to attack the Conservatives mercilessly. "Our Grittier Grits will throw snowballs at Solberg,” said Martin. “They will cross-check Clement, and they will heckle Harper. In this election, it's our weakness that's been our weakness. Now, the Grittier Grits will take the fight right to the enemy.”

Surprises in Quebec's Election Results, re: CPC

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10 probable seats for the CPC, with 8 confirmed. That's the least of the surprises. There's much more, and the portrait painted by the election's results in Quebec is positively shocking. My numbers are from the CBC. Though I don't trust them for insight, commentary, or even news reporting, because of their shabby style and frequent slants, the numbers can't be played with (that I know of).
  • From a very French-Canadian riding (as the mention of the 1800 Quebecois rebels, les Patriotes) indicates, comes this exceptionnally strong showing for the CPC:
  • DISTRICT: Verchères-Les Patriotes
    Candidate Party Vote Count Vote Share Elected
    Luc Malo BQ 30085 57.37% X
    Jean-Félix Racicot CON 11438 21.81%
    Alanna Woods LIB 4590 8.75%
    Simon Vallée NDP 4278 8.16%
    Carl Danis GRN 2045 3.9%
    January 24, 1:24:13 AM EST 197 of 198 polls reporting
  • Many rural, very French-Canadian ridings indicated similar results.

  • The city of Quebec itself had another impressive showing by the CPC, polling ahead of the Liberals!
  • DISTRICT: Québec
    Candidate Party Vote Count Vote Share Elected
    Christiane Gagnon BQ 20805 41.57% X
    Frédérik Boisvert CON 14842 29.66%
    Caroline Drolet LIB 5743 11.48%
    Michaël Lessard NDP 4634 9.26%
    Yonnel Bonaventure GRN 2372 4.74%
    Dan Aubut IND 812 1.62%
    Alexandre Raymond-Labrie PCP 512 1.02%
    Francis Bedard LTN 325 0.65%
    January 24, 1:57:23 AM EST 237 of 237 polls reporting

  • Less surprising to me was Meili Faille of the Bloc beating Mr. Marc "My-feet-taste-great" Garneau, the Liberal astronaut. Responding to Garneau's comments, Gilles Duceppe aptly and wittily characterized the man as being "dans la lune", which translates approximately to "off in a dreamworld". As I posted earlier in my debate commentary, Duceppe either has someone writing him great one-liners, or else he's a very witty person when it comes to off the cuff comments.
Duceppe topped off at 51 seats, 3 less than last time, and 41%; nowhere near foolish analyses placing him as a potential leader of the official opposition, and certainly not even close to his own ridiculous comment of aiming for 50% support.

Overall though, the greatest surprise is that overall, the Conservatives came in with 24% and change of the Quebec vote (906 K); the Liberals polled ~20% (761K). However, because the Liberal support is more consolidated and the rural Bloquiste vote didn't swing sufficiently to Harper et al., the CPC came out with a rather small number of seats (10), as mentioned above. The CPC are Quebeckers' #2, when early in the campaign, a La Presse humourist caricatured Harper's 5% as the level of his support in Quebec, (it's the level to which he wants to cut the GSTax, from 7%).

Why?
The influential French-language daily La Presse came out and supported the CPC officially, and had some unofficially pro-Harper material prior to that. I must credit them for pointing out that Harper was leading on policy around Christmastime, which led to my own analysis calling Harper as leading, period. Harper earlier promised to deal with the fiscal imbalance, which was HUGE to my fellow Quebeckers and I who see Ottawa surpluses as being accumulated on our ( and other Canadians') backs. This ultimately meant more than his stance on social issues to many people. Another key factor was that Canadian Quebeckers have realized most political power in Canada rests in government, not the opposition: the Bloc is a relatively inferior vote because it can't be in power.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Convention on Social Entrepreuneuship, Security Certificates, and Leadership.

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I was at a convention this weekend, and thus unable to post. Notably, I heard from keynote speakers in the world of social entrepreneuship, terrorism, and leadership.
I'm going to go out on a limb, and based on the power of the speeech of a man who discussed social change and a micro-credit bank in southeast Asia (can't remember his name, but he had interesting ideas), and refer those of you interested in the domain to changemakers.net, without having read it in depth. The gist of it is people starting programs, groups and businesses to improve society.
On terrorism, I can't emphasize how underfunded and important our intelligence and security services are. I encourage all of you to write to our politicians to have them commit to spend a greater part of our defense budget on this crucial area. Interestingly, I learnt about immigration, deportation, and security certificates from the terrorism expert. The crux of his thought on security certificates was that we need them. These certificates allow people to be detained and sent back to their countries of origin without being shown the evidence [of terrorism] against them. They aren't being charged with anything (i.e. no criminal trial), he said, so there's no argument for showing them the evidence. If we did, terrorist groups would send people to be arrested and gain info on what we know about them. I know there's a strong lobby against "in-"security certificates in the left, and I appreciated hearing the other side of things, which I personally find more logical.
I also learnt about leadership, which I won't discuss at this time.
Anyways, that's why I was gone, but I'm back.
Here's to a CPC majority that defends Israel, the environment, and gay rights.

Centrist Readers Are In Education and Government

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Centrerion's readers come primarily from the realms of education and government. Your co-readers live mainly on the eastern seaboard of North America (Quebec, the Maritimes and the northeastern US), Alberta, BC, and California. Been checking up on our readership. I'm proud to publish this partial list of our readesrhip. Those of you who read this blog are in good company. In addition, I'd like to ask you to leave a comment on what you read, what search engine keywords we might optimize the website for.
Anyways, here's a list of people whose company you might feel proud to be in.

  1. Oxford University
  2. Dalhousie U
  3. Ryerson University
  4. U of Montreal
  5. U of Toronto
  6. U of Lethbridge
  7. U of Alberta
  8. U of Washington
  9. U of Delaware
  10. U of Wisconsin Madison
  11. Erskine College
  12. National Film Board
  13. Oklahoma State House of Representatives
  14. State of New Hampshire
  15. Grand Canyon University Inc.
  16. City of Calgary
  17. City of North York
  18. US Naval Ocean Systems Center
  19. Industry Canada
  20. Public Service Commission of Canada
  21. Spotsylvania County School Board
Amongst other places, I've found a few of our British Columbian readership live in places with the most interesting names. Notably, some of you're from Whittier, whose founders I imagine a strong intellect and great sense of humility, and from Agassiz, and Tsawwassen.
Welcome also to the people from Berkeley, and Stamford, and to those of you from Salinas, California, which I believe I've read about in novels.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Science and Humour

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We've been submitting to a few science, humour, and economics carnivals. To those unfamiliar with carnivals, the idea is to regroup posts on a specific theme from different authors.
Here's the post with the Carnival of Satire: Carnival of Satire.
Here's the post with the Tangled Bank carnival, a science carnival: Tangled Bank 45th edition.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Canadian - American Relations

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Maple Leaf Web's got a great cartoon.

It's an accurate description of our relations, I'd say.

Policy Think Tanks

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More reading: Canadian Policy Think Tanks.
A very nice list with groups covering a variety of issues, such as economics, governance, and foreign policy. It's short the Canadian Policy Wiki, though, which is potentially the most important one, because it engages people, and allows ordinary Canadians to contribute to the development of policy initatives.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Language Centrism in Quebec and Montreal

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I've been reading up on centrism, and in the course of my reading I came across an excellent article on instruction in a second language. Written by Charles Glenn, a Boston University academic with extensive experience in education, the essay's proposals espouse the ideas of the centre, or "radical middle" as he calls it.

What makes this article particularly interesting is it's relevancy to Quebec, and to a certain extent, Canada. Glenn discusses the education of immigrants, progressive vs conservative views, and the different standards to which they are held in the US.

Here in Quebec, though, the proportion of immigrants in our public schools is much greater (particularly here in more cosmopolitan, anglophone, Montreal) and so his proposals don't entirely work for our situation. For example, while he cites one-year intensive immersion programs similar to our "classes d'accueil," he suggests that students be integrated with regular classes after the year, and followed-up on by specialists. I know that at the school where my mother teaches, they can't afford to meet the demand for the social worker and the psychologist who come a couple of times a week, so hiring another specialist is out of the question. Even if it was possible, the only people to integrate them with are other people from classe d'accueil. Arabs, East Europeans, South-East Asians and West Indians make up much of our public school population, and they mostly come here speaking no French.

At any rate, it's an interesting article that has some good centrist propositions. Schools must be "accountable for results, not procedures," says Glenn. I couldn't agree more.

Waiting Lists Reduction Policies and Thoughts on Health Care

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I was googling policy issues and came across this progressive think tank. They have posted the policy suggestions of Dr. Michael Rachlis, regarding wait lists for our health care system.
Dr. Rachlis is an advocate of public health care, and is opposed to increasing the availability of private health care. His main idea is that waiting times aren't due to lack of capacity, but rather mismanagement of lines, and backlogs. The gist of his idea is to modify the flow of patients in our public services. Just like a 4 lane highway with capacity for hundreds of may experience a bottleneck when public works takes over a stretch of 2 or 3 lanes for a few hundred meters, our public health system can deal with our medical needs, it's just not flowing people properly from one part of the system to another.
For example, his idea would offer a mammogram, ultrasound, and biopsy all in one day, rather than having a person worried about potential breast cancer wait for each procedure.
I advise anyone with an interest in solving the wait times issue to read Rachlis' policy proposal.
It isn't the whole solution. We need more doctors, for example, in Quebec. Our government caps their earnings, and imposes all sorts of dreadful limitations though, and so though Rachlis proposes solutions helpful to Canada as a whole, there are particular issues specific to each province and territory which he doesn't address (rightfully so; he's writing a policy proposal for Canada, not for Quebec or PEI).
In addition, like Einstein said: Smart people offer solutions. Wise people avoid the problem. We're hardly doing anything to lighten the load on our health care system, which would obviously lighten the load from the other end of things. Portion sizes are a particular concern, as report after report shows more and more Canadians growing overweight and/or obese.
Rachlis is smart, but we also need wisdom.

Analysis of a Conservative Majority vs a Conservative Minority

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Conservative majority or Conservative minority? If Canadians opt for a Conservative government on January 23rd, here's what moderates can look forward to, and what the center might apprehend.

  • Majority Pros:
  1. Guaranteed GST tax break. The Bloc wants specific items targeted, while the Libs and NDP oppose it outright.
  2. Passage of the Federal Accountability Act. I have the impression it might be controversial, and people will criticize it as going too far. IMHO, it's a good plan, and deals with the revolving-door policy of government officials and lobbying groups.
  3. Relative to a minority government, we'd have some stablity.
  4. A budget not aimed at winning votes, or that shows artificial surpluses. Consider the case of immigration minister Joe Volpe who found 700 million in November, but could only muster 72 million in April. Expressing the Liberal approach, Liberal MP Raymonde Folco said of the 72 vs 700: it doesn't matter when it was done, simply that it was done. The immigrants and their families, who linger for ages in a slow and ineffectual process -something Folco herself recognized- didn't mind waiting from April to November for the extra bucks, I'm sure.
  5. We don't need to go back to the polls in a year and a half.
  6. Kyoto being an ineffective treaty based on political correctness, a CPC majority can scrap the BS agreement signed in Japan and proceed to really work on protecting the environment. I'd personally care for them to adopt the Green Party's free market idea of removing subsidies from oil and energy companies, and instead tax these companies on their pollution. They could just pass the buck to consumers, but ultimately, intelligent companies would spend on green technology to save on taxes. Doing this while passing the buck to the consumer increases profits.
  • Minority Pros:
  1. A greater margin of error in protecting gay marriage. A majority government with a free vote on the definition of marriage would keep it as it currently is, but a minority makes this even more certain.
  2. The government has to compromise with the opposition (thought this can be said of any minority government). I think particularly of the dossier of crime, and wouldn't be surprised to see the opposition slip through a few loonies to dealing with what Jack Layton's introduced into our national lingo as the "causes of crime." Ultimately, our justice holds each person accountable for their own actions, which I think is fair, but the problem is that our environments have an influence on us which we don't hold anyone accountable for.
  3. The social policies of the NDP are more likely to get signed into law. The Dippers are clueless outside social policy, but they do know their social policies down pat.
  4. We go back to the polls in a year and a half. The intervening time is like a tryout for the CPC, which, if failed, leads us back to another minority government as people choose between so-so governance; a Liberal party in a 'transition' or 'building' year, as we say in sports; and separatism (or Jack Layton for PM... haha, yeah, right). Oh, and since it'd be a minority, another vote a year and a half later. If the CPC passes, they get a majority (maybe).
Though I listed a few more pros than cons, if the CPC do win on January 23rd, I'd like to see them get a percentage of seats in the low 50s ... say 52-55% would be about right. Enough to do the important stuff, not so much that they can ram anything through and mute the opposition. Stability with checks and balances.
I'm not endorsing the CPC, so we're clear on this. But if they should win, 52-55% of the seats in the House of Commons is the ideal situation, where I'm concerned.

Quip of the Day (aka Quote it! aka QOTD) by Jiggy

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Hey it's me jiggy again,

For those who feel that they suck at making anything artistic: in art class I couldn't even make a decent ink blot.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Canadians Spending Beyond Earnings; GST Tax Calculation Update

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Statistics Canada reported a while ago that we're spending more than we earn. Our national statistics agency has determined that the additional spending comes not from savings but from debt. While I personnally hate debt like Martin and Harper, this means more than a bit of distaste. This means I need to correct the formula for calculating one's GST tax break under Harper's plan to cut the GST from 7 to 5%.

Step 2 reads: Estimate and then deduct the percentage of your income that goes to GST-exempt things.
Step 3 reads: Multiply the remainder of your income by 0.02 (2%).

Between steps 2 and three, I should add:
2.5) Add your annual debt to your post tax and post GST-exempt-spending income.
In the example at the formula page, the person had $17,500 of such spending. With a mortgage and a $10,000 student loan, averaging $750 a month of payments, this works out to a total of $26,500 of GST-taxed spending.
Step three would reveal that a person/family with such spending would save $530, with a 2% GST tax cut (In the first year of a potential Harper premiership, it'd be half that, because he intends to only reduce it by 1% his first year.

My First Quip Of The Day

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Wow so this is it my first blog...

A lot of my friends are complaining about how they hate their highschool. My daily quip on the subject:

Highschool is a lot like prison, you do your time and get out. Just remember whatever you do DON'T DROP THE SOAP!

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Sunday, January 15, 2006

Welcome David

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Writing a little ol' welcome post to the newest member of Centrerion, David, aka jiggy555. He's a damn funny guy, and he finalyl had time tonight to join blogger and Centrerion. What this means is that from now on, we should see some actually funny content in the humour posts.
Cheers

Talk about the wrong message

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(Cross-posted at BlueGrit)

What do Allan Cutler, Conservative candidate in Ottawa South and the sponsorship whistleblower, and Prime Minister Paul Martin have in common?

Both of them were honest enough to put their jobs on the line to expose government corruption. Cutler was fired - Martin may well be.

The sponsorship scandal is often touted as the "biggest scandal in Canadian history." The validity of this statement is suspect, as some would point out the legendary corruption of Sir John A. Macdonald's government. However, the point is taken. Perhaps the biggest scandal of all is the effect that the sponsorship scandal could have on Canadian politics. The Gomery Inquiry could indeed serve as a warning to future governments, but not in the way it ought to.

Let's trace the events, as we know them:
- Auditor General Sheila Fraser exposes the sponsorship program and the unaccounted money.
- Paul Martin cancels the sponsorship program.
- Paul Martin calls the Gomery Inquiry.
- Judge Gomery releases his fact-finding report.
- Despite being exonnerated by Judge Gomery, Paul Martin still takes the blame from the public.

This is very troubling. Essentially, the message is this: If you are honest, you will pay for it; if you tell the truth, you will be punished.

Scandals happen. This is the reality of government. Any time people are put in charge of hundreds of billions of dollars, some of it is going to go missing. Stephen Harper was quoted as saying, "When there is a scandal," which is telling. Of course there would be scandal under a Harper government - the question is, would it be covered up?

I am not optimistic. The Gomery Inquiry is not without precedent in Canadian history. It is comparable in many ways to the inquiry into the CPR Scandal, both of which saw sitting prime ministers testify, and both of which (it seems now) toppled said prime minister. But the unprecedented thing is that Paul Martin so willingly and so readily established the public inqury. He put his career on the line to get to the bottom of the scandal, and he is paying the price for being honest - that price could be his job.

So let's ask the question - when scandal next happens, as it will, will the sitting prime minister be stupid enough to be as honest about it as Martin has been? After all the message we're sending is that if you call a public inquiry and expose the scandal for all to see, even if you are personally exonnerated you will still pay an electoral price. On the other hand, if you do what Jean Chretien surely would have done, and did through his tenure as prime minister, and sweep it under the rug, denying everything and covering it all up, then nothing bad will happen to you.

This has happened before. Jean Chretien took the lesson of Brian Mulroney seriously. Mulroney was a more or less honest prime minister, and his government faced scandal, as most do. But Mulroney did not tolerate scandal, and he fired ministers over it. And he paid the price, and is remembered as corrupt. Chretien would not let the same thing happen to him, and he was almost completely unaccountable, since no one knew what was happening in his government. Martin, like Mulroney, would not stand for the scandal, and he now ends up with the same reputation as Mulroney.

If the message that Canadians send is that honesty is punishable by termination, how can we realistically expect our politicians to be honest?

Harper's Policies Need Tinkering

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Harper has some good intentions, but poor execution. If I could write his policy for him, here's what I'd fix.

GST Tax Cut

The idea's good, but he should keep the Liberals' increase of the minimum salary Canadians can earn and still be exempt of income tax. In fact, I'd like to see the exemption bar raised to $20,000.

Trades Tax Cut

I'd subsidize trade schools. 500$ for tools isn't going to buy anyone much, and $1000 to help with an apprenticeship is also measly. Best give them a good education that also focuses on teaching tradespeople good business practices, since so many are self-employed.

Defence Spending

Harper's got it right when he says the Libs destroyed our military with cuts. On the other hand, it was getting to be an antiquated military, so it isn't the biggest loss. To prevent our security going to hell though, we need to invest in the military and our intelligence servicees, and focus the energies, dollars and time on counter-terrorism initiatives. That means training more elite units, more spies, more linguists, etc. An important part of the defence spending needs to go to our spies.

Crime and Guns

Harper may not care to acknowledge it, but getting rid of the remaining legal handguns in this country is a good idea. A) because criminals can steal the weapons, and B) because accidental shootings happen. no legal guns = no accidents with law abiding citizens. Anyways, who cares if criminals accidentally shoot themselves?
Also, like Jacko said, dealing with the causes of crime is important, and quite often that starts with difficult home situations and such. There are lots of community organizations that deal with this, and I'd suggest part of the investment goes to them, because they're chronically underfunded.

Harper's GST Tax Break - Formula Update

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Calculating one's GST tax break, under Harper's plan to cut it down to 5%, can be done using my three step formula.
To that I'd just like to add that besides groceries, there are some important items that are GST-free. Basically, if it's essential, it's not taxed by the GST. That means health care, prescription drugs, rent, daycare, and public transit are exempt. This info comes courtesy of La Presse's January 11th article on policy initiatives; sorry for the delay in posting this.
On that note, La Presse suggested policy initiatives they'd care to see. If you'd like to put your two cents in, you can collaborate on writing policy over at Canadian Policy Wiki.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Portion Sizes and Obesity - The Research

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Here's the research on portion sizes and obesity my partner, Matt Rosenberg, and I did. What follows is an annotated bibliography of the studies we looked at. It was done in the context of a research methods course, in preparation for our own survey. Pardon the erratic spacing. Tomorrow I'll post the Literature Review Assignment itself, which goes more into depth on the variables, and discusses what we planned to do in our own survey. (I won't post our survey, because it was done halphazardly and has no scientific value. The studies we researched were done by professionals, however.)

Introduction I

Levitsky, D. A. & Youn, T. (2004). The more food young adults are served, the more they overeat. The Journal of Nutrition, 134 (10), 2546-2550.

Levitsky and Youn’s research focuses on nutrition, as evidenced by their affiliations. These are, respectively, Department of Nutrition and Psychology, and Department of Nutritional Sciences, both at Cornell University. The research in this study, to be specific, covers obesity and its potential causes, namely eating more. The research question therefore, is whether a causal relationship can be demonstrated between eating more and becoming obese.

In their research, Mr. Levitsky and Mrs. Youn sought to prove a hypothesis put forward by fellow nutritional researchers Young and Nestle. Young and Nestle, based on statistics showing a correlation between larger portion sizes and an increase in obesity, concluded that the former caused the latter. As proper research methodology dictates, the manner in which a causal link can be proven is an experiment, and this is just what Levitsky and Youn did. In other words, the researchers’ goal was to provide experimental evidence to support the hypothesis that larger portion sizes are a cause of obesity.

Method I

Thirteen subjects were employed. They consisted of undergraduates and staff at the University who were recruited by means of flyers and class announcements. In addition to this, candidates were filtered in the selection process by checking for food allergies and for having a standard level of self-restraint according to the Stunkard scale.

The variables which were examined were food intake, portion size and corresponding weight gain. The variables were operationally defined as follows (own words).

Consumption of food was defined as the average amount consumed by each subject of each food. To establish the baseline of consumption therefore, Levitsky and Youn first found the mean of each food eaten by each subject over the course of the first week of their experiment. This was measured by calculating the weight of their plate of food before (with the food in it) and after (with the food they ate in their stomachs) they were done eating.

Then, this information was used for establishing larger portion sizes in week 2 of the study. Portion sizes were therefore defined as the quantity of the food that was consumed when served in a buffet and eaten at participants’ own discretion.

Weight gain simply meant having a higher body weight in kilograms as a result of food consumption. The weight gain would then be compared between weeks 1 and 2 of the study to establish if subjects gained more weight with larger portions sizes than with regular portions.

Once subjects were selected and variables defined, the experiment proceeded as follows. In week one, subjects were served 4 foods (rigatoni pasta and tomato sauce, vegetable soup, breadsticks, and ice cream) in a buffet. They were allowed to choose whatever they wanted and in whatever quantities. Water was consumed without being measured. The solid foods were measured as stated above. At the end of the week, the average intake of food was used as a starting point for determining larger portion sizes. Once these were calculated, the study’s participants were served the larger portions in week 2.

They were weighed during what the author calls ‘the period of testing’ or alternatively ‘test day’. Given that the researchers calculated the average intake of food each week, that the study was carried out with 3 lunches a week (i.e. the subjects participated in the study three times a week – they didn’t skip lunch 4 days a week), and that ‘test day’ was referred to say that there was no interaction observed between portion sizes and ‘test day’, we can surmise that the weigh-in day was Friday (when they would calculate the weekly average and probably also weekly weight gain). It only makes sense to do the weighing at the end of the week, after subjects have done the eating.

As regards physical activity, participants were asked to record what they’d done before lunch. They were also asked to maintain the same level of physical activity throughout the experiment. Another test for confounding variables was applied in the form of an ‘hunger-rating’ test before and after they had lunch.

Results I

In complicated technical jargon which will not be repeated herein, the researchers noted that there were no anomalies in food consumption, as a result of boredom due to eating the same foods repeatedly, for example.

The jargon perseveres to explain that significant discrepancies were observed between the amounts of food consumed in the first week and the second week. In the one sentence that seemed clear of jargon, Levitsky and Youn stated their findings bluntly and perfectly: the ‘greater the amount of food subjects were served, the more they consumed…’

Discussion I

The hypothesis clearly was supported. Larger portion sizes obviously resulted in higher food consumption. One can assume that with a constant rate of activity, participants in the study would likely have gained weight as a result of larger portion sizes. Larger portion sizes can therefore be asserted to contribute to obesity.

There are, of course, caveats. One of these is the fact that the study had a tiny sample of people, who are not generally representative of the American obese population. It is incorrect to say that 100% of obese Americans went to University, let alone Cornell. Therefore, demographically, the sample is unrepresentative. It is incorrect to assert that there is a ratio of 9 men to each 4 women, in the United States (2.25:1). It is incorrect to say that the methods of recruitment used would obtain a representative sample of obese Americans, given that not all obese Americans might respond to flyers and class announcements.

Another major caveat is that only 1/7th of the participants’ meals in the two weeks (assuming 3 meals a day, 7 days a week) were taken into account. Perhaps participants ate less at home because they felt fuller. Perhaps they had big exams during the time-frame of the experiment and drank lots of coffee and soda to stay up late in order to study.

Nevertheless, the researchers, probably working with limited financial resources, made a reasonable attempt to control extraneous variables (asking to maintain constant activity, hunger tests, etc.) and should be commended for this. Their study did provide experimental evidence to support Young and Nestle’s suggestion that larger portion sizes were contributing to obesity, but this evidence should be taken with a grain of salt.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Introduction II

Smiciklas-Wright, H. & Mitchell, D. C. & Mickle, S. J. & Goldman, J. D. & Cook, Annetta (2003). Foods commonly eaten in the United States, 1989-1991 and 1994-1996: Are portion sizes changing? Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 103 (1), 41-47.

The research in this study is about the change over time of American portion sizes. The researchers wanted to determine, on a statistical basis, whether or not Americans were consuming different sized portions, and what foods this concerned, if any. Therefore, with the help of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), the researchers compared food consumption over the years 1989-1991 to the years 1994-1996. There was no specific hypothesis stated, though one can surmise that they expected to find a difference in portion sizes, else they would not have spent their time carrying out the research.

Method II

The study looked at individuals ages 2 and older who answered all the requests for information in the USDA’s surveys (CSFII). The samples broke down into 10 age and sex groups. They are: males and females 2-5 years of age; males and females 6-11 years of age, males 12-19 years of age, females 12-19 years of age, males 20-39 years of age, females 20-39 years of age, males 40-59 years of age, females 40-59 years of age, males 60 and older, and finally females 60 and older. The group sizes varied between 672 and 2042, with numbers generally averaging in the low 1000s (e.g. 1200~). Overall, there were 11,488 people in CSFII 89-91’s sample, and 14,262 people in CSFII 94-96’s sample. Breastfed children were excluded. Participants were selected to be nationally representative.

The variables measured in this study were portion sizes, defined as “amounts consumed per eating occasion”, and the amounts of food consumed per day. An eating occasion was defined by the time of day, as opposed to its name.

The study involved surveys. The article describing the study only mentioned that they had been extensively described previously, however. This had been done by two of the researcher’s references, both subdivisions of the USDA.

What is most valuable to know about the study is that it was evaluated for reliability (i.e. its estimates/results). The criteria for evaluation were the guidelines the USDA put out. Given the source of the guidelines, we can assume that any evaluation is accurate. In this case, it is positive; the study’s estimates were seen to be reliable.

Results II

The study found significant differences in portion sizes. For most of the foods with significant differences between 89-91 and 94-96, portions were larger in the mid 90s. Many were grains/cereals and soft drinks.

The last paragraph in the Results section, on trends, seemed convoluted and, at times, self-contradictory. For example, no “food showed differences for all of the age and sex groups in this study.” This is followed later with “the significant differences for a given food were in the same direction for all age and sex groups.” Even after several re-readings, that section of the report did not appear any clearer. What was interesting was that portion sizes for beer were larger for all males 40 and over. This seems to suggest the effect of marketing on consumption, given that much beer is advertised towards a target market of older men.

Discussion II

The ‘hypothesis’ was supported, in that a variety of significant changes were found in portion sizes. Most of these tended upwards, but portions for some things, such as pizza, shrunk.

Overall, the researchers concluded that there were a variety of implications for the health of Americans in their findings. Firstly, the trend towards overweight seen in recent years seems to have found a possible cause, namely, larger portion sizes. These have been shown by some of the researchers references to be positively correlated to energy intake which is correlated to overweight. Secondly, growth in beer consumption seems to have been scientifically related to beer bellies, technically referred to as “larger waist-hip ratio”. This was shown for whites and blacks of both genders. Thirdly, a recently established relation between higher caffeine intake and higher bone loss in the spine for postmenopausal women is even more worrying now that larger portion sizes of beverages with caffeine in them have been reported.

A few limitations were reported by the researchers for their survey. There were some slight differences in methodology between 89-91 and 94-96, though these were stated to not impact the data on portion sizes. The reporting itself can be affected by inaccuracies. A few minor changes over the years for different foods including bananas, chicken, and macaroni and cheese may also have had an impact. Overall however, the problems with this study seem minor and almost negligible.

Our Survey

Variables we might consider include number of items in people’s lunches, how filling each of these is (on a scale of one to ten), what they eat (tick off from a list), whether or not they buy lunch or other meals, the frequency with which this occurs, and perhaps what are their three most frequented restaurants (including fast-food places). Based on these things, we might be able to learn how much people are eating in absolute terms (e.g. quantity, and how filling those things are), we can learn what sorts of food are being eaten (e.g. McTrio ... easily accessible, high-calorie…) and determine to what extent their food providers are determining how much they eat at any particular meal (based on what they’re served).

Moderate Analysis, Canadian Policy Wiki, Pont-Viau

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Moderate analysis, the Canadian Policy Wiki, and Pont-Viau all have something in common. Know what? I'm targeting each of them. Let me explain.
Moderate analysis is what I, Blue Grit, and Andrew try and write here. If we want more people to read it though, we figure Google can help us out. That said, we're working on optimizing the site to be #1 on Google for a few phrases, "moderate analysis" and "Canadian Policy Wiki" amongst them. As of right now, we're tops for "Centrist Commentary" which is a nice start.
But ultimately, Centrerion exists for its readers. That said, I've been reading every bit of statistical information I can get from Site Meter, to see where you guys and gals are from. I noticed there's a faithful reader (readership?) in Pont-Viau, amongst a few other places. That said, besides search engine optimization, myself and the gang are going to try and offer content that's of particular interest to you. That said, please comment and let us know what you'd like to read about, or what you do enjoy reading about here. In particular, I noticed our statistics were through the roof last Sunday, and if you guys can tell me what post(s) in particular held your attention, and why, it'd be great.

Arabs Taking Responsibility

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I somehow came across this brilliant article from a writer with Egypt's official Asharq Alawsat. She asks why it's fine to always blame Israel, Jews, and others for Arab problems, while ignoring Arab responsibility. It's a breath of fresh air.

Harper, Gay Marriage - Some Centrist Thought

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Harper. Gay marriage. Here're my centrist thoughts on the issue of what would happen if Harper was elected January 23rd.

To begin with, let's look at the fundamental points essential to understanding the issue.
Gays have the same rights as other Canadians. That means the right to a civil union, and the right to recognition of a religious marriage. In this latter case, though, we must remember that government couldn't force any religious officials to perform the ceremony,* and that it would be entirely up to each religion to determine it's own position.
In keeping with this mainstream view, most of the MPs who will be elected to Parliament support gay marriage. In a Tory gov't, this voting block would be mainly composed of opposition MPs but would also include much of the CPC.
We should remember that just as the opposition wouldn't have the 'exclusive rights,' for lack of a better term, to pro-gay marriage views, the CPC doesn't have the 'exclusive rights' to anti-gay marriage candidates. I'd also point out that a little more than half of the CPC voted against questioning the right to choice on abortion in Parliament. I'd suggest a roughly similar percentage of candidates are pro-gay rights.
(On a side-note, the team here at Centrerion supports gay-marriage, and would like to see someone compile an exhaustive list, including proof, of each candidate in the country's stance on the issue. The priority would be on incumbents, obviously.)

The conclusion one must draw from these percentages of pro-gay MPs is that under Harper and the CPC, a free vote in the House would lead to a reaffirmation of gay rights. The question is, then, why would Harper, if he opposes gay marriage, allow a free vote that would lead to a concretizing of gay marriage?

My analysis is that Harper's strategists needed to form a compromise between the anti-gay rights and pro-gay rights people in his party. Knowing the outcome of a free vote means that the homophobes can be assuaged by having the free vote, while the pro-gay elements can be reassured because they won't see gays lose their rights. This free-vote stance even allows Harper to argue he supports democracy by allowing this to be up to the individual consciences of MPs.

*The precedent for this would be in a recent Supreme Court ruling. The Supreme Justices overturned a lower court's order to a Jew to take down his Sukkah on his condo balcony. The Supreme Court ruled that it wasn't up to the lower court judge to decide which religious authority to believe (there were conflicting rabbinical opinions). There was another recent judgement by the Supreme Court similar to that one, but I've forgotten what it consisted of.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Quip of the Day (aka Quote it! aka QOTD)

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"Daddy, showing my asscrack doesn’t tell the boys anything about me!"

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Debate on Immigration Continued - 5 Things I Noticed

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The commentary I posted last night being incomplete, here's more.

  • The Bloc likes Folco on immigration. On several occasions last night, Bloquiste Meili Faille lauded Liberal Raymonde Folco's work. Folco, for her part, thanked Faille and returned the compliment. Odd.
  • Folco is muddled. On a number of questions, Raymonde Folco criticized the state of our immigration process, which can keep families separate for a decade, is loaded with interminable paperwork and so on. This non-partisanship was nice. When asked if she supported her party's policy on immigration, however, she answered yes, saying that immigration is a complex issue, where "les choses ne sont pas noires ou blanches, mais plutot grisatres." Further on still, she said one is either a refugee or one isn't.
  • The Green and NDP candidates were ignorant. While the Green party candidate recognized that he didn't know how technical the debate was going to be (Conservative Neil Drabkin, Folco, and Faille, are immigration-law experts and the questions were hyper-specific), the NDP candidate hobbled on till the end of the debate. From the start he was stuttering and unsure of himself, and stuttered continually. His sole contribution of note was pointing out that his Liberal rival Lucienne Robillard appointed many immigration board judges now being investigated for fraud.
  • The Green candidate was eloquent. Though he was out of his league (it feels to me like the Greens are a one-issue party), Claude William Genest was eloquent. The Green VP for Quebec had some snappy quotations, and he sounded good. Notably, he quoted Einstein (who was on the event's ads ... way to know your audience): "Clever people propose solutions; wise people avoid the problem," and affirmed that the Green weren't "des politiciens interesses a prendre le pouvoir, mais des citoyens interesses a prendre leur responsabilites." Nice populist message.
  • Drabkin wants productive immigrants. The CPC candidate for Mount Royal welcomes immigrants willing to work hard and abide by our laws. He pointed to Algerian immigrants he helped as an example. Criminals can stay out, where he's concerned. It was in closing these remarks that he asked Raymonde Folco about her criticizing her party. In another controversial remark, the NDP candidate rebutted he didn't see why a criminal record should stop someone from immigrating to Canada. Could it be because we don't want criminals in our country? On the other hand, he seemed to be emphasizing that they might be tortured for their crimes abroad, which is also a valid point.
Tomorrow I'll post my notes on the debate, and secondary thing of interest, so those who couldn't attend will be able to read up on what they missed. I'm also waiting on an email from the event's official cameraman, a gentleman by the name of Ignas, to

Thursday, January 12, 2006

NDP Accuses CIA Of Causing Emigration, During Candidates Debate

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An NDP candidate today accused the CIA of creating problems abroad that result in emigration, during an inter-riding candidates' debate. "It's a slippery slope," said Eric Steedman, the NDP candidate for Westmount-Ville Marie, entering into an obscure comment on the CIA acting "against US policy" and creating refugees.
His remark came on the heels of a statement by Liberal candidate Raymonde Folco. Folco pointed to comments made by Hillary Clinton in the days after 9/11 suggesting that the terrorists came from Canada (a remark carried by most of the major news outlets, I might point out), to back up her well-received argument that the US dominates Canada in negotiated agreements between the two countries. Steedman's remarks, punctuated by "uhs" and "ums," earned no reaction from the audience, and none of the other candidates asked him to explain his assertion.
It was a quiet moment in a debate characterized by them, and by rhetorical questions the obvious answers to which sparked little in the way of noticeable exchanges. The two exchanges which did take place both involved Conservative candidate for Mount-Royal Neil Drabkin.
While responding to a question on immediate reunification of immigrant families, Drabkin said the concrete steps to be taken are to provide resources to deal with immigration. He noted 700 million were offered by Immigration Minister Joe Volpe a week before the fall of the government (when it was already obvious it would fall). Folco answered that in fact, money had been injected earlier. 72 million were put through in April, she said, insisting it did not matter when it was done, simply that it had been done. Drabkin answered that the Liberals had 13 years to do that. Personally, I wonder why declare a $10 B surplus and then put out these offers after the fact. I feel like politicians are trying to buy my vote with my own money, and it pisses me off. Make a proper budget, fool! Then the Liberals will say the Tories would cut programs if they get into power...
The other exchange was when Drabkin drew fire from the Green party representative, who asked him if he felt the Conservatives were being pressured excessively by the US. Drabkin answered that we will be independant, but the people who don't recognize we "live on the same continent" need to wake up.
It's late now, but I'll post further thoughts on the debate tomorrow, including the Green party's policy wiki, the offer by Drabkin to Folco for the latter to change parties, and the Bloc candidate, Meili Faille, applauding Folco's work on immigration.

Quip of the Day (aka Quote it! aka QOTD) update

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Hey all,
I've invited my friend David to join Centrerion. He's a very funny guy, and I'm sure you'll appreciate his own quips of the day, because I've asked him to take over from me.
I didn't have the energy to think up something random and funny to give you all a grin, so I'd like to let you in on one of my inspirations, Winston Churchill. Never a man with a sharper wit and a faster retort was there.
Some lady told Churchill that if he were her husband, she'd put poison in his tea. His answer?
-Madam, were you my wife, I'd drink that tea!

*Thanks to DazzlinDino of BPoc for helping me get the quotation right.

Related posts are archived in and s.

Martin Aiming for Harper's Job: Leader of the Opposition

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I was reading the news as reported by CTV, because it's convenient (it pops up with MSN messenger). Now, though I can hardly say they're a respectable or even better than mediocre news outlet, something they wrote made me realize just how badly Martin's campaign is going.
"But
Liberal Leader Paul Martin, especially, has been lobbing grenades at Harper
on a daily basis, criticizing him and his policies during almost every
announcement he makes."

What's that got to do with his campaign? Well, the party leaders roles in our system goes a little something like this:

  • The PM (and his party) make policy.
  • The leader of the Opposition criticize policy.

Martin's gunning for the leadership of the Opposition benches!?

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Retraction; Candidates Debate in Today's Suburban, Debate Back On.

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I made a mistake, and I need to retract two things I wrote.

Firstly, The Suburban today published a small piece about the debate I'm trying to organize, between candidates for the riding of Mount-Royal. So the first thing I'd like to retract (more like explain, really) is that though at the time of publishing last night, there had as yet been nothing in the Suburban regarding the debate I'd like to organize, there has now been published an article.
Secondly, I've already received a few emails from people interested in helping out, so there may be a light at the end of the tunnel. That said, I do think the debate can happen, though it will mean holding it later and working even harder to do so (I'd initially hoped to hold it on January 7th...).

Everyone's waiting on you, Mr. Cotler.

Here's what the Suburban wrote:

Mt Royal needs debate: activist
The Mount Royal riding election race needs a candidate's [sic] debate, despite Justice Minister Irwin Cotler's personal popularity in the riding, says [my name removed here]. [Name ...] has been a student activist at Dawson [CEGEP], runs a political blog with centrist leanings (www.centrerion.blogspot.com) and has an interest in entering politics and studying law.
[...] admits that voters consider Cotler's credentials to be "unimpeachable."
"But just granting him a seat contributes to a culture of voter apathy and disinterest, and a culture of entitlement amongst senior MPs."

So yes, a small filler piece, but it's there nonetheless. My thanks to Jim Duff, The Suburban's editor-in-chief, to Joel Goldenberg, who wrote the article (it's uncredited, but he asked me the questions, and said he was asked by Mr. Duff to write the piece), and of course to Sari Medicoff who forwarded the proposal in the first place to Duff.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

"Nous proposons des propositions" vs. "Mes ministres suit les reglements" - The Debate Points Most People Missed

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I posted that the real scandal of Options Canada is that buffoons like Duceppe are still here to discuss it... you'd think at least our corrupt politicians could be corrupt in an effective manner!... But really, the scandal here is that the leaders of the three national parties can't speak French properly.
Though I'm forgetting much of it for lack of use in an anglo CEGEP, my French is still strong. Our Prime Minister didn't conjugate the verb "suivre" properly, leaving it singular when discussing his ministers. He repeated the error a moment later, though I've forgotten what the subject of the verb was... I was just shocked that back to back he could miss a simple plural-singular conjugation. Jack Layton didn't sound very intelligent either, when he said: "nous proposons des propositions," which translates to "we will propose propositions." Bravo. I didn't quote Harper in the title, because his mistakes weren't blatant, though his accent is AWFUL.
After that long-winded intro, I'm going to discuss some points which may seem minor to most, but which I picked up on and thought were interesting.

  • Liberal confusion on mandatory minimum sentences. Justice Minister Irwin Cotler spoke out against them, but in the debates, Paul Marting spoke repeatedly for them. "The position of this government is in favour of mandatory minimum sentences."
  • Camera angles. I didn't see it tonight in the French debate, but last night the cameras kept zooming inwards/upwards for Paul Martin, and a few times for Stephen Harper. The visual effect was like a campaign ad that gives someone a respectable grandfatherly look, which I imagine is how "Uncle Louis" would have looked on TV back in the day. I know it's not my imagination, because after noticing it, I took benchmarks to make sure, and at one point the cameras got a third of the way up Martin's tie, after being far enough back to see all the buttons and his lectern.
  • Duceppe's a hypi. Hypocrite, I mean. Is Canada divisible? Yes. Moderator to D: "Is Quebec divisible?" -No. If you're going to justify Quebec separatism as Quebec being a distinct society/nation, how about recognizing Montreal as a distinct society that doesn't share that many values with rural Quebec. Linguistically, it's got the highest proportion of Anglos, and culturally, the greatest ethnic diversity, with Jews, Muslims, South-East Asians, Russians, and Blacks from the Carribean constituting considerable cultural communities (which, incidentally, Parizeau famously blamed for the 1995 referendum defeat. I don't know if he was right, but it'd make this Montreal Jew damn proud :) ... up yours Parizeau :P)
  • The purpose of Canadians' work. Layton had a freudian slip that the MSM (mainstream media) let by, but which I thought was interesting and possibly indicative of his ideas. Canadians "work hard enough to pay their taxes," said Jack. Hate to break it to you, but much as I may be a Canadian patriot and nationalist, I'm working for my own purposes. Not to pay your salary, Jack m'boy.
  • Supply Management. I'll admit to being uninformed as to how many Canadians work in agriculture. But are there really enough to ask a technical question on that particular industry? From what I know, ~70% of us work in the services industry, so if any industry was going to be targeted for special attention, why not that one?
  • Real Quebeckers. Again demonstrating that his French is weak, Stephen Harper phrased a request for "real Quebeckers" to join him in supporting federalism in such a way as to make it sound like the separatists aren't "real Quebeckers". Though I agree they're supporting an idea that's never going to come to fruition, making them idealistic fools, he didn't seem to choose his words right just then. It may be just me, but my friend heard something similar...
  • Question Period, and Maturity. Martin articulated something I've noticed and that's been bothering me for a while. Question Period in Parliament is a pathetic waste of taxpayers' money, as our MPs act like little children and ask stupid insulting questions that are usually dodged or hurled back. Ironically, I gained respect for Goodale for answering with (what sounded like) facts, though this whole income-trust scandal makes me wonder at how much of a straight-talker he really is. Oh, and another irony is that Martin's camp has a bunch of attack ads out.
  • Duceppe wants us to know he's literate. What other explanation can there be for him reading both his opening statements, when none of the other leaders did so? I can arguably understand him doing that for the English debate, but in French?? He can be a decent orator at times, but that was poor, and looked lazy.
  • Duceppe's got jokes. "[The Libs' attitude is] Not seen, not caught." "He is a living democratic deficit." "Mr. Chretien here, sorry, Mr. Martin ... the slip is because they're so similar." Gilles Duceppe's either got some mad skill for improvising disses to Paul Martin, or Scott Feschuk's secretly defected to the Bloc and is writing his quips for him. You can always write QOTD's for some honest centrists, here, Scott.
  • Smiley-boy Stephen. Harper's been criticized for looking cold and not smiling. It seemed attenuated tonight, but the man couldn't stop grinning last night, like he had a subheading on each page of his notes reminding him to show grinning lips and flash some teeth. It was kind of odd to hear him talking about important job losses with upturned lips...
  • Quebec PM Charest. This former federal conservative turned provincial liberal got the thumbs-up in both debates from Stevie. Maybe Steve-o figures Charest's 28% approval ratings are from the same people supporting him?
  • The Eternal Opposition Doesn't Care Who's PM. Layton and Duceppe said so. Personally, I think Duceppe's lying, cuz it's a lot easier to make federalism look crappy with the corrupt Libs in power. In fact, I'm prepared to bet that's why he's emphasizing his claim that Option Canada was a federal (not just liberal) scandal, citing Tories and Dippers as part of the scheme. Layton probably doesn't care because his positions are split between favouring Harper's ideas and Martin's.
If you've got your own funny verbatims from the debates, or interesting points many people missed, lemme know, and I'll drop you a link.
Tomorrow I intend to post my transscript/notes on the first debate. Tonight I didn't have the opportunity (saw it partially at a friend's then midway went to my place, because she had to go somewhere).