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"Each individual should allow reason to guide his conduct, or like an animal, he will need to be led by a leash."
Diogenes of Sinope


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Thousand Flowers tapestry (15th Century) - Beaune, France (detail)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Name that party

The Ottawa Citizen has reported on today's resignation of Senator Raymond Lavigne, who finally quit after being convicted of fraud and breach of trust. In light of the feeding frenzy going on in parliamentary committees right now over the government's alleged "contempt of Parliament", it seems odd that nowhere in the Citizen's nine paragraph story does reporter Althia Raj see fit to mention the Senator's party affiliation.

For the record, Senator Lavigne is a Liberal. He was elected as MP for the Quebec riding of Verdun-St Paul in 1993 and again in 1997 and 2000. He was appointed to the Senate by Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chretien in 2002 to allow former Quebec cabinet minister Liza Frulla to run in his riding for the federal Liberals.

The Citizen does report that "Lavigne, 65, has come under fire for spending $315,355 in travel expenses, on top of his $132,300 salary, despite being barred from doing any work in the Senate or its committees". This is serious unethical behaviour, and it seems to me that people might be curious about how it reflects on the Liberal Party which he represented for years in both the House and the Senate, and indeed the judgment of the Liberal Prime Minister who appointed him to the upper chamber.

The opposition parties, led by the odious Pat Martin, are worked into a lather over the Bev Oda affair and the Government's crime bill. In both cases, the Citizen didn't hesitate to identify the political party involved. Reporting on the crime bill, the Citizen mentioned not only the Conservative Party but also its leader:
The release of hundreds of pages of federal documents on Wednesday has sparked new warnings from opposition parties that they are losing confidence in Stephen Harper's minority government for not sharing enough details about the price of its agenda.

Facing accusations of contempt of Parliament, the Tory government released the thick binder of notes that reveal over $600 million in new spending estimates associated with its heavy law-and-order agenda.
On the Bev Oda issue, the Citizen reports:
Federal politicians have approved a plan to draft a report finding the minority Conservative government in contempt of Parliament, setting the stage for a confidence motion that could provoke an election.
Let's call together a parliamentary committee and put Michael Ignatieff on the hot seat. He's the leader of the Liberal Party; what did he know about l'affaire Lavigne, and when did he know it? Contempt of parliament indeed.

And while we're at it, let's get Althia Raj to testify why she doesn't think it's important that readers know that Raymond Lavigne is a Liberal.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Politically correct dilemma: does Islamophobia trump homophobia?

A few weeks ago in the UK, stickers appeared in various locations around London's East End proclaiming it a "gay free zone" and quoting passages from the Koran. In response, gay rights campaigners in London have organized East End Gay Pride and plan to march through the neighbourhood on April 2. Said one of the organizers: "We simply want to say: ‘Hang on. You’re wrong. The East End is NOT a gay-free zone’.”

So what's a politically correct gay activist to do when forced to choose between conflicting gay and Islamist agendas? Cry "Islamophobia", of course. The organizers of East End Pride have now been urged by members of London's gay community to cancel the parade for fear of "scapegoating Muslims":
The march, to be held on April 2nd, has been organised by six friends as a response to anti-gay stickers plastered around the East End.

But opponents say it is an “emotional reaction” which “risks antagonising and scapegoating” Muslims.

...

Although the parade has been backed by local police and Tower Hamlets council, some local campaigners are calling for it to be cancelled.

An open letter signed by Out East chair Thierry Schaffauser and Terry Stewart of the Hackney Community Engagement Board claims that the Pride march may “divide our communities” or be used “to oppress other marginalised groups”.

Out East organises Hackney Pride and the letter has also been signed by Denis Fernando of Unite Against Fascism and the Greater London Association of Trade Union Councils.

It says: “We believe that the most appropriate response to the stickers is to liaise with Muslim communities and others to create bridges and communicate with each other.

“We want both homophobia and Islamophobia addressed as a collective problem and not feed one against the other, we do not recognise these as distinct categories.

“We will refuse any attempt to divide our communities or take the risk that an LGBTQ event is used to oppress other marginalised groups, in particular LGBTQ Muslims who will be the most affected by this rising antagonism.”

Unbelievable.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

$4 a gallon gas? I wish

The price of gasoline in the U.S. is now hovering around US$4.00 per gallon, and pundits and politicians are screaming for the government to do something about it. Release crude oil from the Strategic Oil Reserve! Lower federal taxes! ANYTHING to ease the consumer pain of expensive gas. Nothing like this ever happens in Canada; we quietly put up with similar prices that we consider "normal", and no one utters a peep except Liberal MP Dan McTeague who pops up with tiresome regularity denouncing "speculators".

Four dollar a gallon gas in Canada? I wish. I filled my tank up today with regular gasoline at a price of CAN$1.179/liter. At 3.785 liter to the U.S. liquid gallon, and at today's Bank of Canada exchange rate of US$1.03/CAN$, that works out to US$4.59 per U.S. gallon. $4.59! There would be civil unrest in Los Angeles at those prices.

Even at prices that Canadians would consider reasonable, say CAN$1.02/liter, the equivalent American price would be - get this - US$4.00/gallon.

The difference between Canadian and US gas prices is of course taxation. Gas is taxed at exhorbitantly high rates north of the border, but Canadians don't seem to mind. In typical Canuck fashion, we meekly accept that it is our patriotic duty to pay higher taxes.

So I'm planning to take my vacation road trip to the U.S. this summer. No matter what the price of gas is down there, it will be a bargain compared to driving around Canada.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Libertarianism explained in two minutes

Dr. Jeffrey Miron of Harvard University explains libertarianism in this two minute video. A sample:
The liberal and conservative perspectives are fundamentally different than the libertarian perspective, which is really unique. Liberals and conservatives are at some level the same; they are authoritarians. They both have views on the right way for people to run their lives, and they want to impose that on people, whereas libertarians want to let people choose for themselves how to run their lives rather than having government tell people that there's one right way to do things and other ways that are not legitimate.

Miron must be pretty lonely at Harvard.



(HT: Reason Online)