Ever since I can remember I've heard the comment that there is "no difference" between Canadians and Americans. I respectfully beg to differ as there is a difference on so many levels! We have unique Canadian culture consisting of Canadianisms, a Canadian perspective on world events, Canadian cuisine as well as products and foods only available in Canada. This blog is dedicated to celebrating all things Canadian from "my perspective" as a Canadian. Please enjoy your visit and be sure to visit often.

Garden Gnome
Americans should never underestimate the constant pressure on Canada which the mere presence of the United States has produced. We're different people from you and we're different people because of you. Living next to you is in some ways like sleeping with an elephant. No matter how friendly and even-tempered is the beast, if I can call it that, one is effected by every twitch and grunt. It should not therefore be expected that this kind of nation, this Canada, should project itself as a mirror image of the United States.
- Pierre Trudeau

Monday, March 28, 2011

May 2 is Election Day in Canada

In a historic Liberal non-confidence vote on Friday March 25, 2011, the Harper Government was defeated 156 to 145.  The following day the Governor General for Canada dissolved Parliament.  The Canadian House of Commons found Prime Minister Stephen Harper guilty of contempt of Parliament which under parliamentary law (Canada Elections Act, 2000) is a federal crime that bars Harper from seeking re-election on May 2, 2011.  The media coverage of this historic event has been extensive.  Several issues come to light.

From this Canadian's perspective:
  • the election - This election comes on the heels of a recession that still has many Canadians feeling the pain of hard economic times.  It will be the fourth election in seven years.  In particular, despite promises new taxes have been introduced and old taxes increased.  Essential living costs (eg. home heating, gasoline) continue to rise and in particular hydro costs in Ontario alone are to rise by 7% annually for the next five years and at least one major retailer, Loblaws has announced a 5% increases across all food products in their stores effective April 1.  The election will cost Canadian tax payers $300,000,000 to $400,000,000.  It is hard to justify this type of spending when food insecurity is a growing issue for many Canadian families.  This is an election the Canadian people do not want and the Canadian economy does not need.
  • Stephen Harper (Conservative)- Essentially Harper was impeached from government of Canada for the federal crime of contempt of Parliament.  The Harper govenment was dissolved and Harper deemed unfit to be the Prime Minister of Canada.  As a result an election was called to choose a new Prime Minister.  Since Harper was found guilty of contempt of Parliament under the Canada Elections Act he is prhibited from becoming a parlimentary member for five possibly seven years after conviction.  Why then is Harper running for the very same office that he was removed from? 
  • Michael Ignatieff (Liberal) - Ignatieff's sly smirk and avoidance of answering reporters' direct questions gains him no popularity points with the Canadian people.  In fact according to a recent IPSIS poll, in order of popularity for next Prime Minister is Harper (49%), Layton (34%) and Ignatieff (17%).  No one believes his sugary sweet "I'm for the Canadian family" nonsense because they can see the wolf behind the cloak.  Under the Dalton McGuinty's Liberal leadership in Ontario we have seen new taxes added to 17% of consumer goods and services including new taxes on home heating fuel and internet services.  Food costs will rise by 5% and hydro will increase 7% annually over the next 5 years.  We have watched as the Liberal government in Ontario alone has introduced tax after tax (eg. HST, eco-tax) and thinly veiled taxes coyly called user fees as if we are too stupid to realize it is just another tax.  Make no never mind, if the Liberals get into power the Canadian people will be taxed to the point there will be nothing to give.  That's how much Ignatieff really cares about Canadian families.  The Liberals see Canadian families as a cash cow and nothing more.  Ignatieff has indicated that the Liberals will not form a coalition with the NDP and Bloc Quebecois.  Yep, and the Liberals also said no new taxes.  Their track record for lying and gouging Canadian families with more taxes stands for itself so we are supposed to believe him when he says they won't form a coalition?  Stephen Dion in 2008 said he would not form a coalition either just before he did.   Out of curiosity, how did Ignatieff become the leader of the Liberal party without a leadership race and uncertainty of a free vote?  Isn't that showing a lack of respect for democracy, the very same thing he accuses Harper of?  Why did the Liberals wait until now to force an election with a non-confident vote rather than when Harper proroged Parliament in 2010?  If the Liberals are so concerned about the Canadian family why force a costly election no one wants?
  • Jack Layton (NDP) - The NDP are smelling like roses in comparison to the Liberals and Conservatives.  Layton comes across as being genuine and unlike his counterparts he does walk his talk when it comes to environmental issues.  He even lives in a green home, retrofitted for solar and low energy use.  The concern I have with Layton is why did he join the Bloc/Liberal coalition voting to defeat the government?
  • Gilles Duceppe (Bloc Quebecois) - It is abundantly clear that Duceppe is not interested in what is best for Canada.  He is interested only is striking a deal that will be most beneficial to Quebec.  To this end, he is a bit wishy washy ready to sell out to which ever party tosses the tasties cookies Quebec's way.  The primary goal of the Bloc Quebecois is destroying Canada.  He has already been in a coup with Ignatieff over installing Stephen Dion as  Prime Minister.  Duceppe has no respect for democracy!  Why do the people of Quebec tolerate Duceppe? 
  • Liz May (Green Party) - May has been almost invisible since the last federal election in 2008.  The problem with May is her campaign topics will likely focus on climat change, alternative energy and putting a price on carbon emissions.  While these are all very valid concerns, the focus needs to be on what Canadians are most concerned about and that is rising food, fuel and electicity bills.  In short her campaign is the same as she ran in 2008 with nothing new to say or offer.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Harper Government Defeated

The biggest news today is the defeat of the Harper government to the opposition by the non-confidence vote signing contempt of democracy of 156 to 145.  Prime Minister Harper will meet with Governor General Johnson tomorrow to dissolve Parliament.   Canadians will be going to the polls in about five weeks in early May.  It will be the fourth federal election in seven years!  More to come as this breaking news unfolds...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Canadians Warned of Increasing Food Prices

On the heels on a recession and skyrocketing electricity prices combined with the federal and provincial governments' heavy handed taxation, Canadians are now facing inflated food prices.  The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization recently reported its food price index increased 2.2% in February, the eighth straight month of food price increases.  George Weston, owner of Weston Foods Ltd. and Loblaw (parent company of several grocery store chains) announced the first week of March that there would be a 5% price increase in all of their stores to offset rising commodity prices.  Fifteen percent of the average household spending is on food so even this seemingly small increase will have a large impact. 

Food prices are predicted to continue to rise as a result global effects including economic and weather conditions.  The unrest in the Middle East has resulted in huge increases in transportation costs and that will certainly be reflected in the cost of food in the grocery stores.  Global bad weather has resulted in wheat and corn prices doubling.  Rapidly emerging markets in India and China are using resources we once considered our.  Britons were warned last week that food riots may be part of their future as food insecurity increases.  It is unsure what effects the recent events in Japan will have on food prices as well.

From this Canadian's perspective, the issue of food insecurity in Canada is an ever growing one.  It is not one that is going to be helped by the ever rising cost of food.  It is time for Canadians to get back to basics.  Canadians must get into the mindset of growing whatever they can to help supplement their food, much the same as the war time efforts of Victory Gardens.  A small plot of land about 6' x 8' or the same sized balcony can produce an amazing amount of produce.  Municipalities should encourage community gardens as well as pass bylaws allowing backyard chickens with restrictions.  Seed banks should be established in each community with home gardeners contributing extra seeds to be made available for those who cannot afford to buy seeds.  Each community should have at minimum weekend farmer's markets where local farmers can sell their produce.  Supporting local growers is good for the economy and it's cheaper for the consumer when food is bought locally.  Finally, Canadians need to take responsibility for their own food supply.  This means that in addition to growing what you can and buying local, in season produce, learn how to preserve the extra for low cost food during the winter months.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Battling the CRTC Decision to Allow Usage-Based Internet Billing

Recently the CRTC made the decision to impose new fews on the majority of internet users in Canada.  The result of this decision would allow usage-based internet billing that many across Canada are seeing as price gouging, and rightly so.  The OpenMedia team is working with some of the best public interest lawyers, citizens groups, content creatores, indie ISOs and online service providers to campaign against the CRTC's decision.  Industry Minister Clement has taken the position that he will not allow the decision to be passed by the CRTC bu has not indicated as to whether he will accept the water-down version of that decision.  In the meantimes, as concerned Canadians there are three things you can do to get involved:

  • send comments to the CRTC via OpenMedia
  • 100,000 letters to the CRTC are needed so the Commission, Clement and other key decision makers know that we will accept nothing less than a fundamental change in the way phone and cable companies operate; send your letter now
  • support the campaign by making a small donation to Stop the Meter Fund