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    Monthly Archives: September 2008

    Support “Anything But Conservative”

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    Danny Williams has officially launched his "Anything But Conservative" web site, a promotional piece designed to help Canadians understand the mistake in voting for the Conservative party of Canada.

    The site is .

    The full text of Danny Williams’ speech at the Newfoundland Board of Trade can be found here:

    Enjoy it.  If the Harper Admin wins, it’ll likely be the last time any of us have a sense of ‘free speech’.

    Canadian Election: Dept of Culture Call to Action

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    Logo for Department of Culture -

    You’re receiving this email because our records indicate you’ve signed up for our mailing list. Please confirm that you’d still like to receive these emails.

    You may unsubscribe if you no longer wish to receive our emails.

    Hello DoC Friends and Supporters,

    Below is everything you need to know to put a dent in the massive advertising advantage the Conservatives have gained through superior fundraising. We need an impassioned grassroots movement to create a wave of counter-arguments to the Stephen Harper is a nice guy who wears sweaters and feeds kids Cheerios message being disseminated through traditional media.

    If the Obama campaign has taught us anything, it is that the internet and YouTube videos can be a powerful and legitimate force in an election campaign. Use your imagination, use your intellect, and remember funny is far more likely to go viral. Just ask Tina Fey.

    Michael Wheeler
    Central Coordinator
    Department of Culture

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    Speak up. Speak out. Speak fast.

    The Department Of Culture wants you to get involved! Show Canada in 30 seconds how you feel about the Conservative government’s dramatic dismantling of arts, cultural and social programs since 2006.

    These submissions will be entered into a national online contest. Celebrity judges will pick the winning entries, which will be showcased at the DoC’s huge This Is Not A Conservative Party concert, Oct. 9th at the Phoenix Concert Hall in Toronto.

    DEADLINE: 9 a.m. EST, Wednesday, October 1, 2008

    For entry details visit

    Do you want to make a 30 second video for the DoC but don’t have the gear? Trinity Square Video wants to help!


    Drop by for 10 minutes at the TSV office (Richmond and Spadina). TSV staff will help you shoot and up-load your clip to YouTube. Leave with your Gone in 30 Seconds video complete!

    Tuesday, September 22 to Friday, September 26
    10am to 5pm

    Trinity Square Video
    401 Richmond Street West, Suite 376
    Toronto, ON
    (416) 593-1332

    It just got easier to:
    Speak up. Speak out. Speak fast.

    Trinity Square Video is a not-for-profit centre that provides artists, activists and community organizations with video production/post-production support and services at accessible rates. Since 1971 TSV has been committed to providing a broad spectrum of services related to video: workshops, screenings, gallery exhibitions, artist residencies, festival sponsorships and community partnerships

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    Keep in touch!
    You can always stay on top of what the Department of Culture is up to by visiting our website at

    Enter our video contest: details at

    Department of Culture | 1087 Queen St. W | Toronto | Ontario | M4Y 1B5 | Canada

    How to avert economic disaster: Hand it over to someone that doesn’t have a clue

    John McCain has essentially admitted that he doesn’t understand economics.

    Full story here .


    I suppose he’s at least being honest.

    Canadian Election: Be Wary of Polls

    Polls wield an enormous amount of influence on the decision making process with Canadians.  Every day, during an election, we’re inundated with numbers about how leaders are doing, who we’d vote for and what the trends are.

    Unfortunately, a lot of it is bunk.  Polls might offer some guidelines, but they are rooted in an imperfect science.  I could go to the ‘Canadians Supporting Stephen Harper’ Facebook page (I don’t know if there is one) and ask them what they thought of recent announcements and conclude that 100% would love to jump Steve’s sweater-clad bones.

    To make matters worse, questions can be carved out to reflect the ‘conclusions’ that pollsters and the mainstream media want to push through the public.

    Example:  do you like it when people rape you?  If no, should we have more money spent on security?

    However, the reality is that this probably only represents the will of a small portion of people.

    Here’s a story that might be of interest to those who read this blog :  Gallop has been accused of releasing number only when they favour McCain.

    Gallup is admitting the following:

    1. At the time it released the September 8th poll (showing McCain up by 10), it believed institutionally that likely voter results were less accurate than registered voter results.
    1. Likely voter results have only occasionally diverged from the registered voter results.
    1. Despite these facts, Gallup deliberately chose to release, to the widest fanfare possible, a poll using an admittedly less accurate method (the likely voter method) at the time of McCain’s maximum convention bounce, knowing that it would show a large divergence (+10 for McCain vs. only +4 with registered voters) based on the likely voter method, even though such a divergence is not often present.
    1. In short, they combined all possible factors in McCain’s favor to make his lead seem as big as possible — and the media went wild with it.

    Like tea leaves, these predictions and prognostications are up to interpretation.  Be careful how you read the numbers and be even more wary of how people interpret them for you.

    Financial Meltdown Incomplete

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    The financial meltdown is incomplete.  Yay.  We should expect to see several more ‘institutions’ on Wall Street dissolve like a poorly built castle on a beach on a stormy day.

    Moving to the Canadian election:  what underpins this instability is a once-inflated housing market that has been deflating for years in the US.

    Stephen Harper wants to create a similar level of house price ecstasy in Canada by pushing new home building here, based on his latest string of promises geared towards breeders and builders.

    How sadly out of touch this is.  This man can’t even keep up with today’s headlines, let alone the general direction of the interests of Canadians.

    Our economy is hanging by a thread because of Republican & Conservative neglect.  He points to national figures saying that things are going well, yet fails to acknowledge the wake of disaster that laissez-faire policies have left for Canada.

    More is being spent on defense in both the US and Canada than ever before, billions are being dumped into the pockets of well, billionaires, and nothing is being done to salvage our manufacturing economy.

    In times like these, governments are supposed to open the budgets to people and go into deficit.  We are not corporations and quarterly reports should not dictate the future stability of this country.

    We are a country of people that need leadership rather than casual comments about not worrying about the state of the market.

    Stephen Harper: Permanently Our of Touch

    Stephen Harper constantly attacks schemes that are being made up on the fly, but is he really that much better?

    Think about it.  His last two promises from our pocket books:

    1. Baby bonuses for breeders
    2. Housing bonuses to increase the number of suburbanites

    These policies show that Harper is consistently out of touch with the general trends related to urban intensification, single or no-child families and a general dislike of the constant expansion of cities into good, arable farmland.

    People don’t want more houses.  They want urban infrastructure.

    People are concerned about population and are only have one child, if couples have one at all.  Breeders are a thing of the past.

    People don’t want to level good farmland for more McMansions.  They want a reliable source of food and produce to feed themselves and those they love.

    People want commitment to stability brought on by tough regulation and monitoring of what’s happening in the marketplace.  They don’t want to die because of bad meat and they don’t want to lose their homes because of deregulation.

    In summary, I believe the people of Canada want commitment to green action.  Period.  It’s the dominant plank of all other parties in Canada and not with the Conservatives.  Local.  Prudent.  A helping hand rather than the invisible hand.

    I guess it comes with mindset.  Republicans Conservatives are rooted in a belief structure that is centred around the notion of "what is here belongs to us and all resources should be used today to our benefit.  Today."  Go forth and multiply.  Etc etc.

    What do you think?

    I believe this weakness of the Republicans Conservatives (the fact that they’re out of touch) will be their downfall, but only if people stop falling for Steve’s sacharine ‘sacrifices’.

    International Price Hikes Coming?

    In the past, I’ve tried to assess the impact that the declining US dollar has on international commodity prices.  Link 1Link 2Link 3 .

    At the core, I believe that we (as global citizens) are making a mistake by tying our commodity prices and products to the US dollar.  To quote the old adage "you don’t put all of your eggs in one basket".

    As the US dollar depreciates, which is inevitable given the level of debt that the government has issued in order to finance wars across the globe, commodity prices rise because there is a basic and simple inverse relationship.  As the dollar drops further compared to more stable currencies like the Euro, the increase in prices actually becomes exponential.

    In recent months, price increases have also been tied to speculation and manipulation, something that should be investigated a little further given the calamity that has resulted from these actions.

    Now, over the last few days, the Chinese government has declared that they may start to cut their US dollar holdings.  Full story here .  China currently holds nearly $2 trillion in US currency and this, according to many of their advisors, is just a little too much.  No kidding.

    Once a sell-off starts, we should expect the dollar to start to plummet again, resulting in a sharp increase in commodity prices (again).  The recent drops in oil and other commodities should be appreciated while they last.

    Of course, I’m going to tie this all back to the Canadian election:  what are we doing to protect us from these gyrations, none of which we can control?  Do we price oil in Canadian dollars or even Euros, like other resource-rich countries have?  What do you think?

    Sarah Palin: She’s not a mini-van … she’s an Escalady!!

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    A few months ago, I wrote this little piece about ‘the Escalady’ .

    Now, it seems, this piece was fairly timely in that it is a much more accurate description of the new Vice-President nominee, Sarah Palin.  In fact, so many Republicans (and Conservatives) seem to want to latch on to this ‘demographic’ like they’re all friends and they have so much in common.

    Yeah.  Like water and cement have a lot in common.

    I suppose it has worked in the past, trying to create empathy with a class of people that aren’t just driving a minivan, they’re driving a 1992 Chrysler minivan that’s at risk of losing the floor.

    What do you think?  Do you agree that Sarah Palin is more like the Escalady than the minivan mom?  How do we make it stick?

    Stephen Harper Promises: Death to Canada by 1000 Cuts

    Stephen Harper is making a lot of costly promises in an effort to get re-elected.


    What Stephen Harper is proposing is the death of Canada by 1,000 cuts.  The most recent is the exceptionally poorly thought out, last-minute promise to cut the Federal excise tax on diesel fuel from $0.04 to $0.02 per litre.

    Just like with the GST, consumers will not benefit from these cuts, as promised by the Conservatives.

    With the GST, the Republicans Conservatives cut the 7% tax to 5% over the course of 2 years.  With most retail establishments, this cut was absorbed into the bottom line of companies and not redistributed to consumers.

    In fact, it was simply another corporate tax cut.

    More research is needed into these kind of cuts that last decades and never make it to the consumer’s wallet.  There’s at least one MA study out there that looks into the impact of spending promises on the political fate of parties:  it was written by Stephen Harper at the University of Calgary.

    The promise to cut diesel fuel over 4 years, or half a cent a year, should be realized for what it is:  a promise to transfer $150 million per year from the government of Canada to producers of oil.

    Be wary of similar promises from any politician, particularly when they promise that it will be done over decades and not now.  If it’s $0.04 per litre, eliminate the tax.  Cut it completely and eliminate the bureaucracy that supports it.  This kind of cut will be felt positively and immediately.  By consumers.

    Wall Street in Financial Ruin

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    Please be advised that any commentary on financial markets does not constitute advise.  It is opinion only and any actions you take should be based on consultation with a registered financial planner.

    Lehman Brothers was barely able to get a bid from Bank of America yesterday as it crumbled into financial ruin.  At the root of this financial disaster is a situation that we’re all too familiar with:  the sub-prime mortgage crisis.

    Here are a number of stories:

    Derivative terrorism being driven by robber barons:

    Derivatives traders given preferential market access during off hours:

    US government next on the default list?

    Wall Street has become fundamentally corrupt:

    Record bailouts show bankruptcy of American capitalism:

    OK … so what does it all mean?

    At the core, we are seeing the rationale for losing faith in the markets as the ‘cure all’ of all of our woes.  The market is a disaster, mainly because of the ‘laissez-faire’ approach of regulators over the last two decades.  In Canada, we’ve been sheltered from this storm, but the reality is that we’re always close to getting sucked in because so much of our fate is intertwined with that of the US.

    The connection to the Canadian election:  Harper wants to deepen those relationships.  He wants to tie Canada to a sinking ship, given his support for more privatization, more foreign access to Canadian companies, tying us to the SPP and connecting us irreversably to the North American Union.

    While his foundation made of sand is washing away, he wants Canadians to take a big gulp and stand in the financial and economic hurricane with an umbrella.

    What we need instead is someone who is committed to the strength of Canada, the future of Canada and the institutions that have made Canada resolute against this kind of macho bullshit.