Monthly Archives: June 2016

End the Monopolies, End the Theft

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It looks like Bell, Rogers, Videotron and a few others will be going after those selling Android TV boxes.

This is like trying to collect all the pollen in the world to prevent allergies.  It’s stupid and will fail.

Good luck, gang.

The more you squeeze, the more we slip through your fingers, to paraphrase Princess Leia.

Concerts are more popular – and lucrative – than ever.

The gaming industry is one of the most profitable forms of entertainment in the history of entertainment.

Movie houses are generating blockbuster after blockbuster.

And yes, television is experiencing a ‘golden age’ of content.

But Bell, Rogers, Videotron and others want Canadians to collectively stick their heads in the sand so they can’t see Bell, Rogers and Videotron whacking them on the ass and pinching their wallets.

Well, it’s time to say ‘screw the monopolies’.  As you can see from the above, consumers of entertainment are happy to pay for entertainment.

They’re just not willing to support bloated, inept and obtuse monopolies that get in our way of this content.

It’s time we got rid of the monopolies.  Tell them it’s time they stopped controlling our lives.

Break them up.

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Lockheed Martin: A Bad Business Partner

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Lockheed Martin is now threatening Canada with jobs that it was supposed to create as part of the F-35 boondoggle.

In 10 years, all we’ve heard about is these jets, yet we’ve never seen a single one in the Canadian fleet.

It’s time to cut ALL of our ties with Lockheed Martin.

Their recent threat can only be classified as a dick move.

Whoever is fortunate enough to win the contract to supply us with jets – assuming we actually need them – will also provide Canadians with decent jobs.

Their statement and threat therefore is empty and unprofessional.

Now … I’d like to address the ‘story behind the story’.

In 2008, Public Works Canada awarded the awarded Lockheed Martin Canada a contract to provide Statistics Canada software for its employees to process questionnaires in preparation for and during the 2011 Census.

This small contract was then converted to a contract worth hundreds of millions of dollars to effectively collect, scan, collate and store all of the data collected with the Long Form Census.

As a result of this news, I did not fill my long form census.  It’s not because I’m a libertarian and felt I needed the Conservatives to protect me from ‘Big Brother’ (another asshole policy decision from the Conservatives, twisting my opposition into some horrible meme for themselves).

It was because I object to any private getting access to my personal information.  I told my friends and neighbours to do the same and a protest grew.

What’s a plane company doing running our statistics?  Interesting question, especially in light of what they’re doing now.

It’s time we stopped this madness of handing over our public affairs to any private company.  Let’s start by severing all ties to Lockheed Martin because they clearly do not respect Canadians, our wishes or our rights and because of that, we should know we can’t trust them with our personal data.

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Ontario’s Bait & Switch Climate Action Plan, Part II

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After posting my first piece on Ontario’s bait and switch ‘Climate Change’ action plan, I decided to do a little more research and share a few other ideas about why I’m concerned about this plan.

First, buried in all of the press releases and glowing images of ‘Kathleen Mother Earth Wynne’ are two taxes and price increases:

  • A 4.3 cent per liter increase in the price of gas at the station
  • Natural gas bills to increase an ‘average’ of $5 per month

The net effect is about $13 per month per Ontario citizen, or about $600 per year for a family of 4.  Double that if there’s two cars and a slightly larger home.

Next, let’s look at what’s on the table:

  • 28 key measures
  • A massive gamble on electric cars, with GM already announcing new production as a thank you to the Wynne government (timing is everything, right?)
  • Rebates up to $14,000 per electric vehicle
  • $1,000 available to install electrical charges at owners’ homes
  • A ‘cash for clunkers’ car replacement program
  • Changes to the building code to include a requirement that all new homes have a charger installed and stations at new commercial buildings
  • Planting of 50 million trees
  • Cycling infrastructure
  • Incentives to replace wood-burning stoves
  • $600 million for home retrofits, with the bulk going to Nest and EcoBee monitoring systems
  • Mandatory energy audits for anyone selling their house (usually a minimum $500 expense)

Most of these programs either relate to cost to consumers for implementation or direct or indirect subsidies to very large companies that must have been lobbying for months (maybe years) to get these programs in place.

The focus on cars is commendable, but there’s very little about bikes, pedestrians and making the roads safer for both.  How many new crosswalks will be installed?  Just how many sidewalks and bike lanes will be required as part of new developments?

What are we doing to improve mixed-use communities so that people don’t need to hop in a car to get their groceries?

Finally, let’s consider what’s missing.

“This is a plan with a big basket of carrots and no sticks,” Environment Minister and Climate Change Glen Murray vowed last week.

We need sticks.

We need to put an end to sprawl.  It’s killing every region, destroying farmland and creating more need for … cars.  The estimated to Americans of sprawl is about $100 billion per year.

However, if it has to be done, let’s do it right.

I’ve been preaching the ideal community for some time and a group in Holland seems to have finally hit the mark, with a new development built by ReGen Villages that is completely sustainable, off-grid and independent.

The municipal code MUST be changes to require any new development to follow a similar mandate.  If we can’t stop sprawl, we can at least stop stupid sprawl and add value to these homes.

For those media and construction folks who bitch about the cost, consider the impact of not paying gas, hydro, water or other utilities over the life of a house.

It’s in the millions.

And when suburbs are built, let’s stop chewing up the world’s best farmland so that everyone can have their BBQ and pool.

We could also try to put an end to the enormity of houses, by introducing a ‘square footage’ tax that would add a levy or penalty to any home that’s bigger than, say, 2,500 square feet.  Anyone buying something less than 1,000 square feet might get a ‘bonus’.

Such a measure would increase intensification (ie. more downtown buildings and higher density of people per square feet) and increase the cost of mega-homes that are becoming so prevalent in areas surrounding our cities.

Here are some other things that are missing:

  • A zero emissions vehicle (ZEV) mandate, similar to that introduced in the US
  • Other mandatory retrofit requirements for homes to bring them up to code or to ensure that they’re using
  • Elimination of plastic and other unnatural packaging products
  • Investment in green tech energy initiatives
  • Creation of an investment fund of sorts that helps consumers and individuals create new local and small energy production facilities
  • Very little address public transit, especially the construction of LRTs instead of buses, smaller buses and electric or autonomous buses.
  • Mandatory parking metres in mega-malls, with funds going to reduce electricity bills or a parking lot ‘levy’ that will force builders to construct smaller multi-level garages instead of hundreds of acres of white and yellow car nurseries while we shop away.

The list goes on.

Folks, this is an $8.3 billion giveaway that will benefit a number of large companies but that will have a small, unimportant impact on our day-to-day lives and our ‘zeitgeist’ of thought concerning climate change in the province.

Sure, this is a start, but as the Romans used to say ‘Qui bono‘ … who benefits?

It sure as hell won’t be me.

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Ontario ‘Bait and Switch’ Climate Plan

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Ontario has finally set into action a plan to do its bit to reduce climate change.

But wait … what they’re doing is creating more electricity consumers instead of gas consumers.

For those of you who know me or who follow my writings on this blog, you’d probably say ‘but you’ve always preached that’s a good thing, right?’


I’m nervous.

I don’t trust Kathleen Wynne.  And I certainly don’t trust her and her $10,000 per plate fundraiser friends to do what’s in the best interest for those in Ontario.

Let’s start with the facts as to why I’m uneasy about this:

  • Ontario Hyrdo was recently privatized.
  • There are only a small handful of auto manufacturers that produce electric vehicles.  To what extent have they been in active talks with the Liberals to get their electric cars off the ground?
  • Very few structures exist to support the introduction of new producers of electric vehicles.  Who’s in line for those juicy electricity station hookups?
  • Extremely few consumers have electric hookups to their homes.  Who’s getting the lucrative installation contracts for this work?
  • Most consumers of electricity – present and future – are unlikely to invest in renewable energy.  If they do, how much infrastructure do we actually have to support the creation of independent, user-owned electricity?

This feels creepy.  It feels like the crack dealer giving away free samples to get the junkies hooked for life.

$8.3 billion as an ‘action plan’ feels like we’re using $8.3 billion in public money to convert people to private energy users and to give it away to a lot of lobbyists and the companies they represent.

You’ve seen the bills and the increases over the last 10 years.

Why would you trust the Ontario Liberals to actually do something in the best interest of the people of Ontario or for the climate?

This is a little like the Davis Conservatives selling off the 407.  It was built by the public for private users.  Now we’ve got Ontario Hydro – built by the public – but handed off to private buyers.

However, this time it’s different because everyone needs electricity.  We can’t avoid it and sit in the slow lanes on the 401 with everyone else that’s trying to avoid a steep commuting expense.

Now what we have is $8.3 billion being used to indirectly subsidize GM, Tesla and maybe Toyota and the now-private Ontario Hydro.

I would feel much better about this plan if Wynne hadn’t just given away Ontario Hydro.

I want to be optimistic about this, but I can’t.  Ugh.

Wynne, you make ‘clean’ seem so dirty.

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Homecoming & Double Standards

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I live in a small town that thinks small.  It’ll never be big for so many different reasons.

The small town that I live in bends over backwards for the university that’s based here.  They do this for students that will come here for 8 months of the year, 3 or 4 years in a row, and then leave.

They are essentially migrants.

The small city tries to keep the kids in the small town, but the kids know better.  They want big city living and big city amenities.  Simple things like green bins, a thriving downtown, street cars or subways and a music hall or two that fit more than 500 people or that’s not a church.

The city regularly does what it can to accommodate these temporary residents.

A perfect example is the ‘Homecoming’ that brings in thousands of alumni, but also opens up opportunities to have outrageous parties for about a week or so.

Hey … I was a student once too.  I know what it’s like to want to let off some steam.  In fact, I’m thankful that I didn’t grow up in the Facebook era.  I would have been a routine embarrassment to everyone that’s on my ‘Friends’ list.

But here’s what bugs me about this situation: the double standard.  I work in the alcohol business and according to the many, many, many rules related to alcohol, I have to get insurance, hire police or security from my own pocket, have contained areas, get a Special Occasion Permit (SOP) where I have the ‘privilege’ of paying an additional 16% on an already excessively series of taxes on alcohol, inform my neighbours and many other details if I want to have a gathering of 100 or so people.

So when I hear that our small little town will look the other way when 10,000 or more students will congregate just a few blocks from where I’m trying to raise my family, I get furious.

The double standard of looking the other way for students has to end.  Our cities are not their property.  They pay tuition and a few other expenses and that’s about it.  They don’t have a right to different rules and they certainly don’t have a right to destroy property or disregard the livelihood of those around them.

Yeah, I sound like a grumpy old man, but only because I follow the rules and I would expect our small little town to do the same for them.  As long as they look the other way, this city will always be small.

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