Sunday, February 27, 2005

The Path for Canadian Conservatives

(I hope this post is not too long. With the upcoming Conservative policy convention, I thought this might be a good time to put forward some ideas on the policy direction of conservatives in Canada. Mr. Harper, feel free to steal any of these ideas. - MB)


1. The Conservative response to the latest Liberal government budget has led to talk that conservatism in Canada is dead. The Conservative Party of Canada has betrayed conservative values with it support for and lukewarm criticism of this budget. Canadians do not know what the CPC stands for. A policy convention set for next month should clear up these questions, but there are several types of conservatism that the party could embrace. Will the CPC embrace the religious, traditional views of social conservatives, the big spending, big government of U.S Republican conservatives, or the small government less taxes of libertarians or some mixture of these values? Which brand of conservatism the CPC selects will greatly effect its electability as well as the future of all Canadians.


2. The aim of this paper is to outline a political philosophy that conservatism in Canada should adopt.


3. The Problem: The problem the CPC faces in developing a policy is the seeming pull of factions within it. Social conservatives want to defend what they see is an assault on traditions, while progressive conservatives support such ideas as same sex marriage which they see as a rights issue. Most conservatives agree that smaller government and lower taxes are a positive development, yet defending assaults on tradition or defending rights costs money and forces the government to be more intrusive in the lives of Canadians. These ideas seem to contradict each other. In order to unite conservatives and to bring those not initially predisposed to vote conservative over to our cause, a political philosophy for the party must be chosen that unites these seemingly disparate views.

4. The Policy: The policy that bridges this gap should have the following two planks as its base:

a. Personal Freedom and Responsibility: This idea is that Canadians are intelligent, responsible citizens and know better that the government what is best for themselves and should be allowed the freedom to make that choice. No government official, no matter what their training, education or credentials knows better than I what is best for me. When, inevitably as happens with non perfect beings, mistakes are made, citizens should be responsible for those choices. Freedom to choose without the responsibility of the outcome, positive or negative, is not truly freedom.

b. Smaller Government: Government is inherently inefficient. Any service to a citizen that must go through a third party before being delivered back to the citizen will cost more than if the citizen found the service for themselves. For this reason, services to Canadians should, as much as possible, be delivered to citizens directly by providers, without the intervention of the government. There may be certain services the government must still provide, (for example, such as defence), but these services should be outsourced as much as possible. The government may still have a role to set standards, provide and ensure a certain minimum level of service, and monitor industry for compliance, but this should be the exception, not the rule.

5. Policy Examples: The following are some suggestions of how the two planks of the above political philosophy would be applied to major policy areas that face Canadians:

a. Social Issues: The suggested way to deal with these issues could be employed with a number of social issues. Based on the principle of smaller government and personal freedom, the government should get out of the marriage business. Any person should be allowed to marry any other, provided they retain the metal faculties to make such a decision. This would preclude those under a certain age and the marrying of inanimate objects or animals. In this sense, why should the government care who at citizen marries? The only reason to care is if citizens are claiming married status that does not meet the definitition in order to avoid paying taxes. Remove the tax breaks for people who are married and this problem solves itself. This may not satisfy social conservatives, but in all reality, anyone who believes that Canadian society would turn back the clock to a time when there was no divorce and homosexuality was not open, is wrong. Social conservatives should be approached and told that, on these subjects the goal should not be to change the behaviour of others, but to ensure that their tax dollars are not being used to condone this behaviour. This approach would apply to other issues such as abortion.

b. Optional Government Programs (Social): Under this heading I include spending on Healthcare and Education policy. Based on the principle that government is inefficient, the government should get out of funding healthcare. This may appear as a completely unsellable policy. However, certain other actions could be taken in concert with this to allay that perception. For example, if the government were to stop funding health care, taxes would be reduced by that same amount, resulting in no net loss of the level of spending in health care. The spending would simply transfer from citizen to government to health care provider to the more direct citizen to healthcare provider, eliminating the middle man and the efficiencies that the extra level of bureaucracy provides. This may be a difficult proposal for Canadians to accept. However, Canadians are intelligent and would see that this would actually lead to more money being spent on health care without an increase in cost. It would also increase personal freedom by allowing citizens to spend their money as they saw fix, allowing them to get the drugs or procedures they deemed important. A certain number of concerns about this plan would have to be countered to ensure wide acceptance. Two of the primary concerns would likely be the cost of catastrophic coverage and how the poor or disadvantaged would be provided for. Two suggestions to address those concerns would be as follows:

(1) Phase in the program to allow private insurance to cover services no longer covered by the government. Private insurance already covers some additional health costs, this would simply increase that amount. This would also provide for an increase in private jobs.

(2) The government could continue to provide health coverage to certain persons, say under a certain income level. This would address the concerns of persons being left with no medical coverage.

The key factor in convincing Canadians to support cuts to social programs is that it must be accompanied by an equal cut in taxes. A “go slow” and phased approach could assist in increasing the acceptance of these ideas.

c. Clear Areas of Federal Jurisdiction: Within this area are items that would be difficult to outsource or responsibilities that should not be outsourced, such as defence and foreign affairs. These departments would be focused on achieving the goals of securing our citizens and protecting Canadians. This would be a “Canada First” policy and this philosophy should be clearly articulated. For example, on the US Ballistic Missile Defence program, Canada would support it as it goes towards securing our citizens.

d. Economic Issues: In line with the principle of freedom and smaller government, the CPC would advocate maximum economic freedom. Citizens and companies are free to spend their money as they wish. In addition, corporations would receive a tax cut at least equal to the amount the government pays out in various regional development funding schemes. This would probably mean greater tax relief than what is spent on these schemes, due to the elimination of the middle man. It would also have the effect of removing the unfairness and difficulty of choosing one company over another.

e. Taxation: This is the key area of the platform. It must be communicated that the lowering of taxes benefits all Canadians, and in effect increases wealth by eliminating the middle man and money spent to administer and audit how the money is spent. This should be easy to communicate considering the many spending scandals over the last ten years by the Liberal government.

6. The suggested policies should go far in uniting the conservative base while, due to the “progressive” view towards personal choice issues, bringing some support from the left of the political spectrum. Although social conservatives may not be satisfied, it is questionable if any “turning back of the clock” on social issues in possible. The best that social conservatives should expect is removal of their tax support for lifestyle choices they do not agree with. This, of course, goes both ways and assures social liberals that their tax dollars do not support lifestyle choices with which they do not agree. Reduced taxes would appeal to all but the most die hard statists and smaller government increases personal freedom while improving the efficiency of tax dollars by removing the middle man.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Out of the Doghouse

I just dropped $5k on our honeymoon/wedding trip to Asia today, with another $5-6k yet to be paid. We are leaving on 20 March and will be back by 17 April. I am thinking about blogging the trip, so there may be blogging on the site while I am away.

It looks like everything is a go, so the Gf should be happy, which means my life will be less miserable.

As soon as the trip was paid for, I called the Gf to let her know the good news. She was happy but then immediately started asking various questions about which flight we were taking, etc. I had no idea I did not really care. I am still trying to come to the realization of how much money I have just spent and she is asking questions about stuff I do not have to worry about for at least 3 weeks, like which airline we are on.

I love the travel people. Just after you have handed over the check and buyers remorse is setting in, they are sure to give you a quick "I am sure you are going to love it".

I am sure I will love it too. But $11k love it?

That is what I am not too sure about.

Eleven thousand dollars so the Gf won't be mad at me. What have a gotten myself into?

Thursday, February 24, 2005

My Post Budget Analysis - Who Cares?

I mentioned today that I would talk about the budget. I see nothing to talk about. A bunch of empty platitudes and a lot of useless spending, why waste my time.

I will comment on the budget info I mentioned yesterday.

What I wrote before the budget was released seems to be correct. However, the total military increase is said to be $12.8 billion instead of $12 billion. I have seen nothing to indicate that the report that $9 billion of the money is previously announced spending is not true. One new point is that the $3.8 billion new spending (or $12.8 billion new + old spending) will not be doled out equally over 5 years. Peanuts the first few years and then much more of that money starting in 2008.

Does anyone out there think this government will still be around by 2008? I will bet Warren Kinsella's life that there will be an election before 2008.

Warren Kinsella's name has now appeared on my blog. When he is googling his name tomorrow, Warren will come to my blog, read what I wrote and slap me with the threat of a lawsuit.

Instant fame!

I have to do something to increase traffic on this site. Then maybe I can sell some advertising space and make some money on this baby.

The GF's calls for me to get a job are getting louder and I am not sure how long I can hold her off.

Unfortunately for me, I cannot be sued as I do not exist. I am a robot build by Rod Love (Karl Rove's equally evil but less successful twin).

P.S. Karl Rove/Rod Love - the names are similar but not the same. Perhaps I have stumbled on to something....Hey, who are you? How did you get in here? What?! What are you doing???!! Let go of me! Hey, don't rip the pajamas.....

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Encouraging Signs for the Canadian Military

As I write this, the budget has not yet been released. Rumours abound (on the front pages of national newspapers) that the military will receive about $12 billion more dollars. I will wait and see. However, I notice that it is already being said that this will be over 5 years and $9 billion has already been announced. So $600 million a year for the next 5 years in new spending.

Funny, it doesn't sound like a lot when you say it like that. Perhaps because it isn't.

More on that tomorrow.

Today I would like to talk about encouraging changes to the way the military does business that I have noticed "on the coal face". To be honest, defence needs more money, but if I was the Prime Minister, I would not give one cent until they sorted their act out. There are signs that this is happening.

Anyone who knows me is aware that I am no fan of the senior leadership in the military. I see them as a bunch of old ladies who I would not follow out of a burning building. Why to I feel this way? Over the last ten years of my military service I have seen absolutely no leadership from any of them. A great quote that you often see in the military: Lead, Follow, or get out of the way". Our Generals have forgotten this and simply act as a block, getting in the way.

For years those of us in the military have know about the problems. We spent countless hours in the Mess discussing them and telling everyone who would listen what they were and how to fix them. None of it is rocket science, and I my ego is not so big that I think I have some unique insight into the problems. However, the problems are not that unique. If a lowly guy like me can clearly see the problems and solutions, then a senior officer with many years more experience should surely see it as well. Or he could steal my idea. We are not an organization big on credit, more on getting the job done. Yet nothing gets done.

Perhaps it is not their fault. Maybe General X wanted to do something but knew it would not be supported or the political masters would nix it, or something like that. Too bad. You get paid the big bucks to face and overcome these types of problems. If you cannot do your job you should have the decency to quit. Or did you think being a general was all backrubs and fancy umbrella drinks?

There is one event that I felt clearly demonstrated this lack of focus in the Canadian Forces. This was the Chief of Defence Staff's message. One (or even several) time(s) a year the CDS would put out a message to be read by every member of the CF. This would usually touch on such topics as the state of the military, where were we going, updates on various projects, etc. I was always struck by the dichotomy between what I was facing and what he thought was important. The CDS would always talk about what the CF was doing to stop harassment/racism, or some new personnel software which would make our lives easier, or some new pay raise.

Think about that. The focus of the guy in charge of the defence of our country was not on the defence of our country, but on the cause du jour. Instead of talking about what he was doing to make the military stronger so that it would be best able to face the tasks set by our citizens, he was making sure all soldiers would have their sex change operation paid for. * That always profoundly disturbed and disgusted me, and was probably a big factor in my retirement.

So, as you can see, I don't have a lot of time for some of our past senior officers.

However, that is changing. Over the past 6 weeks, profound changes have been going on. I can see this even from my position in lower middle management. Our Area Commander, BGen Beare, has cancelled a major Reserve exercise in his area because it does not meet with the focus of the Army. As well, he has completely changed our training focus. Whether or not you agree with his decisions, at least the man has a vision and the will to pursue it. This is a far cry from the wishy-washy types we used to be saddled with.

It all starts at the top and works its way down. I do not know the new CDS, General Rick Hillier, but he seems like a no nonsense guy who sets goals and works to meet them. Most people in the military are focused on results. They do not care so much on what the goal is they just want their leaders to have one and to lead them to that goal.

We may have found some leaders.

And good luck to our former CDS, Gen Ray Henault. You should fit right in with those gum flapping, do nothing, mushheads in Europe.

Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

* A good story about the CDS before Henault, Gen Baril. He was fond of taking about the soldier who had a sex change operation as some sort of proof of what a progressive organization the CF was. On one occasion, so the story goes, some officer challenged him on this. The CDS then launched into one of his legendary rants defending the decision (He used to have a video camera follow him around on occasion, getting footage for archives, etc. When this question came up it was standard operating procedure for the camera operator to focus the camera at the ground, to prevent the rant from being taped). Unfortunately, the officer asking the question happened to be a psychiatrist and promptly refuted every one of his points.

Evil Genius Karl Rove

Finally released from Evil Rove HQ, authentic transcripts of the discussion and decision of the Evil Plan (tm) used by the Republicans to defeat John Kerry.

Rove's Brilliant Plan

Thanks to Tim Blair for this.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Better sailors based on how you use the stuff between your legs

Trudeaupia and Occam's Carbuncle beat me to this.

The Royal Navy announced a drive to recruit gays and lesbians.

Funny, I thought the Royal Navy was in the business of recruiting sailors.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Things that make you go hmmm.....

This is an interesting article by Mark Steyn on the most non-famous Canadian.

Others have already linked to this, but I thought I would help spread the word by doing the same.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

I'm not lazy, am I?

The Gf has taken to leaving me little lists of stuff to do each morning before she leaves for work. Each item on the list has a point value and if I do the thing, I get the points. I am not sure what the points are for, and I do not think she has got that far yet. When I asked her, she threw the question back at me, saying "What do you want the points to be worth?" If you ask a man this question, you should not be surprised at the answer.

You can tell I am not married. When I told some married buddies of mine this story, I expected they would respond as I would, with some sort of sexual favour. Their response was to trade in points for some period of being left alone/not nagged by their wife.

What have I got myself into?

I do not think I am lazy, but I do find it hard to motivate myself to do something I do not want to do. When I lived alone, I would sometimes go 2 weeks without cleaning the house. One guy living alone in a fairly big house, who works and goes out a lot does not make a big mess. I would usually just leave the place until I felt in the "cleaning mood" (or had a date coming over) and then would go nuts and spend a few hours cleaning everything. Living with a woman and 2 cats, that system is no longer practical.

This is compounded by the fact that we are thinking of selling my place and moving, so there is a lot of work getting the place set to show.

I should stop reading so many blogs and get to work.

Then again, tomorrow is another day. Maybe I will fell like cleaning tomorrow.

Friday, February 18, 2005

A bit on my time with the Syrians

It seem the Syrians are making a lot of headlines lately:

US Demands Syrian quit Lebanon

PM "ironically" calls Syrians Peacekeepers

It looks like the Syrians may be moving up the U.S "hit list". I spent some time in that area a few years ago during the Iraq war and have some observations about the Syrians I would like to share.

The Syrian people, like many of the Arabs in the region, are very friendly and open with visitors. They are more than happy to talk to you or try to sell you something. I found this of great contrast to the Israelis, who tend to be more like rude New Yorkers. I think this is more due to the situation they find themselves, that of a people surrounded by enemies. Most Israelis were very friendly, once you broke through the initial barriers.

Syria is a fairly typical quasi-Stalinist Arab country. There were a few protest against the Iraq war, but these were with the permission of the government and were very small. We thought they were an attempt by the government to keep the feelings of dislike towards the Americans in check by giving them an outlet.

I say Syrian is a quasi-Stalinist state, because it is clear it is in a transition. The President, Bashar Assad, (called Boy Assad in some circles) was second in line for the throne. His father, Hafez al-Assad, had planed on his oldest son taking over. Fortunately for the Syrians, the older brother was killed in a car accident a few years before the death of the father.

And I do say fortunately. The older brother was a piece of work. Driving around west of Damascus, you still see many picture of all three, the most prominent being of the father and then the oldest son. In every picture he is wearing a camouflage army jacket big mirrored sunglasses. He is the epitome of a third world dictator.

So we have Bashar Assad, training to be an optomologist in England, suddenly thrust into the position his older brother had been groomed for. Bashar was pretty westernized, having spent some time in Europe. Since taking over he has taken some small efforts to better the lives of the people, such as increasing wages.

Overall, Syria is full of contradictions. You will see woman in all manner of dress, from completely covered to something a modern businesswoman would wear in any big western city. One military officer I spoke to told me about how his parents arranged his marriage, while another scoffed and told me how he played the field. He apparently had no trouble finding women to casually date.

Ask me about the plastic bag farms and the overpass to nowhere.

While I was over there, Syria had some sort of national elections. Half the seats were reserved for the ruling party, the rest up for grabs. Not true democracy, but a small step towards it.

My own opinion is that Assad is trying to straddle the line between giving more freedom to his people, while trying to prevent a coup by his father's old guard.

An invasion of Syria is not required. Assad just needs to be encouraged and helped to bring people where he wants to go.

This is only one opinion. There are some who say Assad is really controlled by the generals. There certainly seems to be no less support for terrorists against Israel and jihadist moving into Iraq.

It will be interesting to see how the US deals with Syria and what the intelligence services know that is not in the public domain.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Same Sex Marriage comments

Anonymous made a comment about the logical fallacy of the slippery slope argument in this post about same sex marriage.

I take the point, but it does not change my point.

If we change the definition of marriage from that of one man and one woman, a tradition that has lasted a few thousand years, we open it up to other changes. Is this an argument for or against it?

It is neither.

However, people should be aware that the decision to open up the definition of marriage will lead to more challenges. Does anyone think that the new definition of marriage as between two persons will last another 1000 years?

The point of the matter is not how some judge interprets the Charter. Those guys were appointed by a person, a person who had a certain agenda and certain ideas about what was right and wrong. Give me the opportunity to appoint all the Supremes and I could give you just about any society you could imagine. Note that most dictatorships wrap themselves in the cloak of "the people" or "democracy" to justify their actions. Even China and North Korea call themselves "Peoples' Republic" or "Democratic Republic".

The point about this debate is what kind of society we want in Canada.

Do we want a society where everyone is completely equal and our culture is a homogeneous, boring mush? Or should Canadian culture be based on the roots of our Western and British/French culture.

If I want to marry a guy, why not go to Sweden? If I want more than 1 wife, move to Saudi Arabia. If I want a society where hard drugs are legal, live in Holland.

We need to decide what it is to be Canadian (and I do not mean it is a beer commercial) and stand up for that.

Otherwise, we will constantly be pulled at from various interest groups and small radical minorities will end up defining what a Canadian is.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Back in the Doghouse

The Gf and I just finished planning our marriage/honeymoon trip.

We were planning to leave on 12 March, but unfortunately, it will take a few weeks to get visas and someone (me) did not have his passport up to date.

Boy, was she mad.

I thought my passport was good to go, so I did not bother to check it any of the countless times she nagged me to do so.

It will be done next friday.

Nine more days in the doghouse.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Much Ado About Nothing

This week's "Who Gives a Rat's Ass" award goes to...

Charlie Angus

The Honorable member for Timmins-James Bay stood up in the House yesterday and harangued the Liberals over the purchase of 1.6 million Canadian lapel pins for being made in China. I love a good haranguing of the Liberals as much as the next guy and this one was apparently quite entertaining in its outrageousness. A few quotes:

"Disney has the Mounties. They gave the Remembrance Day coin to Tim Hortons. Now they are giving the flag to China," Mr. Angus told the Commons. "They are selling off our cultural heritage like a bunch of roadside hucksters selling off hubcaps and velvet Elvis paintings."

Great stuff.

"What kind of credibility does our Prime Minister have to talk about Canadian values when he is leading the race to the bottom with our flag," he said. "This is the man who pioneered the flag of convenience on the high seas, and now he is pioneering the lapel flag of convenience."


But really, people, who cares? Is it really a threat to our "Canadian values" if a bunch of pins are made in China. What Chuck should be asking is why the government is wasting money on useless pins when health care is failing and the military slowly rusts out? Perhaps Chuck would prefer paying more for these pins so we can "save" six jobs.

Wait. Of course he does. His is, after all, a member of the NDP, the party that could not understand basic economics if you explained it to them with finger puppets.

See the full article here.

P.S. Note to Chuck - Your website itineray is either 4 months out of date or you plan much farther ahead than most people. Most Canadians suspect MP's are lazy, but I do not think your constitutents appreciate you taking from now to November 19th off.

P.P.S Just what we need, another holiday. That is "Da Canadien way, eh?". More waste of time and effort for stupidity is detailed here.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

The Plan continues at full speed...

Those of you who may be familiar with this site may be aware of the low-level conflict presently taking place in our house. My Plan to convert the Gf from her backwards, warped, left-wing views to the proper, freedom loving, right way of thinking continues.

I must admit, the Plan suffered a setback during the recent Alberta election. I suspect the Gf reverted to her usual patterns and voted for the 'gasp' NDP.

An excerpt from the latest report:

Operatives have been unable to determine this fact with confidence, as subject is reluctant to discuss her voting with our main operative, even when that operative offers to share his voting information with her.

However, an incident yesterday has given me hope that The Plan may be advancing.

article on the front page of the National Post on Feb 1, 2005, details a Vermont company's refusal "to pull a teddy bear wearing a straitjacket from its Valentine's Day lineup despite complaints from the govonor and mental health advocates".

I, of course, think this is just about the stupidest thing I have ever heard. Here is what the company says about the bear:

The bear comes with a "Commitment Report" that reads "Can't Eat, Can't Sleep, My Heart's Racing. Diagnosis -- Crazy for You!" A red heart is embroidered on its straitjacket. "She'll go nuts over this Bear!

Does this company say "People with mental health problems are less that human" or something equally offensive? What's the big deal? Shouldn't these "mental health advocates" spend more time advocating and less on some crappy Valentine's Day gift?

I asked the Gf about this. The conversation went something like this:

Gf - This is like what you are always talking about.
Me - So what do you think about this?
Gf - It's dumb. Who cares about the bear. Those people should find something more important to worry about
Me(internal) - Success!

I was so happy I was going to order one of these things for her.

Then I found out they were $70.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

An Open Letter to Pierre Pettigrew

Dear Mr. Pettigrew,

I have never voted for your party nor do I ever intend to. The Liberal Party of Canada seems to be more interested in retaining power then articulating a vision of Canada and bringing to citizens. However, though I do not agree with most of your party's platform (when I can figure what it is), there are some Liberal MP's whom I do respect, such a Stephen Dion and Anne McLelland. You were included in this group. Unfortunately, your recent comments that the Catholic Church should stay out of the same-sex marriage debate have prompted your removal.

I cannot fathom how a person such as yourself does not understand that the purpose of the separation of church and state is to protect religion from state interference, not the reverse. In addition, the expression "separation of church and state" is an American concept, one that we, in some ways, have not followed as closely as the United States.

Religion has shaped many aspects of Canadian society and to suggest that churches should not state their opinion while taking the advice of ultra left-wing feminist groups is beyond the pale.

I can only conclude that you and your party are trying to limit this debate to only those groups that agree with your position. I remind you that in a democracy all sides of an issue are welcome to speak. This is protected by the Charter of Rights, a document that your party takes every opportunity to claim to be the defenders of.

Perhaps you would feel more comfortable back in China, a state that is not a democracy. I suggest you return there and try to pass this legislation.


Marcel Berridge
Edmonton, Alberta