Friday, May 31, 2013

A Song For Toronto

Inspired by.

The Problem With The HST, as I once suggested, that a province has to get federal approval to change the rate.  They have, in essence, handed over a piece of their autonomy to the feds.  The feds can then sandbag them with asshole moves like this.

Kathleen Wynne Is The Only Adult In The Room

From The Liberal Scarf:

Hache twice ran for the NDP in Ottawa-Vanier, and as Policy Director for Ecology Ottawa, a major Ottawa-area environmental organization which he was also a founding member of. (In the interest of full disclosure, I also worked for Ecology Ottawa for several months as a fundraising canvasser.)

Horwath moved the ONDP away from promoting public transit and sound environmental policy in the last election when the ONDP platform included a plank to use your tax dollars to subsidize gas prices for big gas guzzling cars. The ONDP's latest move to shows they continue to reject real models for public transit funding, and it'll be interesting to see how the rump environmental wing of the ONDP handles Horwath embracing the Rob Ford position on public transit.

Wynne's  call for "enhanced revenue tools" can be pretty easily mocked as code for higher taxes.  But at the moment she is the only provincial leader who seems to be offering a real solution to what everyone agrees is a real Ontario problem (gridlock around the GTA). The others want to pay for transit by summoning the magic pony.   And down here in T.O. Rob Ford's entire plan for expanding the TTC has been to wait for the magic pony to show up carrying bags full of money.  Mr. Hache's resignation is encouraging in that it suggests that a few politicians out there not named Wynne have realized there is no magic pony.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Andrew Coyne's Letter To Ezra: The Secret First Draft

Andrew Coyne, in response to a query from Ezra Levant, has written a short letter outlining his position with respect to the CRTC's granting CBC special distribution rights. I have been able to acquire (through secret sources at the National Post) an early draft of this letter, which I think more clearly reveals Andrew's state of mind during these hard times in the newspaper business:

So there you have it.

Star Front Page?

The story's not on-line yet.  Source of image is their editor:

PS.   Here is the story.  From its contents, I would guess that the staffers who were sacked or who quit and were then described afterwards as "useless" by those still in Rob Ford's office have decided to strike back.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

You Can Now Sue A Pseud

Former Canuck's GM Brian Burke has been cleared to serve the people who allegedly defamed him over the Internet, over the Internet.  The defamation was spread through a number of on-line message boards, so here's what Burke's lawyers will do (the full court docs are here):
The document goes onto to say that, given the way these boards are typically structured, the recipient will "probably" see the private message, and respond to it or not.  In addition, Burke will (from The Province  story linked above): required to advertise in a national newspaper requesting the individuals respond to the lawsuit.

I see several shortcomings with this approach.

For example, the defendants could, upon reading about Burke's successful court application, abandon their forum accounts to avoid the private message.  And who reads the papers these days anyway?

And of course, even if it can be confirmed that the defendant received the message, Burke's lawyers still don't know who they are.  But if  they still haven't been ID'd at the end of the day, collecting damages is impossible.

And of course, even if you do attach a real person to a forum account, they can still use the identity theft defense (ie "someone else hacked my account" ).  To this end, it might be better to employ a public message.  These were hockey forums, so for example Burke's lawyer could drop a link to the legal documents into the middle of a discussion in which a particular defendant was a participant.  If, in thus participating, the defendant was engaged in his typical forum behavior, the identity theft defense would be less plausible, especially if they responded publicly to the message containing the link.

PS.  This post updates this post.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Hudak Caught: PCPO Made Ilegal Robocalls

OTTAWA – The CRTC will soon announce it is fining both Alberta’s Wildrose Party and the Ontario Progressive Conservatives for automated polling calls that failed to identify the pollster.

The hapless PCPO leader has some explaining to do---$85,000s worth.  And, perhaps not surprisingly, RackNine is involved again.  They are these guys.

Developments In On-Line Defamation Law

From Colby Cosh, the hirsute one himself:

Early commentary on Burke’s lawsuit over claims he had an affair with a broadcaster was focused on the difficulty of tracking down internet anonymice and serving them with the right papers. The established pathway is to go through internet service providers to get them to disclose the identities behind IP addresses—but privacy-conscious tech firms don’t like to give up that info without a court order, and if Johnny Flapgums did not happen to post from home or work, a plaintiff is more or less out of luck anyway. In an unforeseen development, Burke is now asking the court to let him sue internet usernames as usernames, notifying the users of the action through the personal-messaging apparatus of the sites on which they posted their allegedly scurrilous comments.

If Burke succeeds with today’s motion, defendants such as “CamBarkerFan” and “Slobberface” will be forced into a tricky choice between fighting the lawsuit, and thus exposing themselves to a verdict, or laying low and allowing a default judgment to be entered against them, thus exposing themselves to the risk of being identified and penalized later without any chance of a defence.

If this kind of thing had been allowed a few years back, the whole slow process of serving anonymous posters involved in theFreeD vs. Richard Warman case would have been made alot easier.  To quote myself, tracking them over the Net at the time involved:

...going from blogs to the comments section of online newspapers to flickr and elsewhere. 

Essentially, you are hoping that the defamer behind the pseud got lazy and at some point wrote something that connected the handle they used to produce the defamation with a separate profile employing their real name.  Then you pore over their on-line traces looking for that link.  So, for example, Droid1963 wrote a blog under his real name, and linked to a photo-bucket album.  He was eventually forced to settle.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

T.O Star Reporter Still In Contact With Folks Close To Rob Ford Video

The most important bits are from 1:20 minutes and forward; I can't embed it on BCLSB, I don't think, but you can find it here.  Short version: not everyone associated with the tape has gone to ground, and the folks who have gone to ground do that kind of thing fairly frequently.  It would seem the  tape is STILL IN PLAY.

PS.  There may be  less to this than I imagined.  Gawker's most recent statement says they've been in relatively constant contact with the tipster, but not the owner of the tapes.  I'm pretty sure an earlier version of the statement said they'd lost contact with both.  Kevin Donovan is clearly still in touch with the tipster, but that may not put him much further ahead than the folks at Gawker.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Looking For Rob Ford Imposter

An ad that appeared on Canadalisted in January, 2012:

Do you look like Mayor Rob Ford? I need someone who looks like Rob Ford to play the mayor in my film. It's a short shot of the mayor smoking a cigar and chuckling into the camera.

Presumably unrelated.  But why not inflame the minds of Ford-Nation conspiracy theorists?

PS.  I've fired off an email response to the ad asking if there is any connection.  Will post if I get an answer.

Justin Gives West/East Pipeline Yellow Light

After the B.C. election there was some speculation that Adrian Dix's sudden thumbs-down to the Trans Mountain Pipeline after a year or so of fence-sitting cost him votes.  I think that's wrong, but since the B.C. polls all turned out to crap, they can't tell us anything one way or another and we are therefore free to speculate as we please.  My opinion, FWIW, is based on the behavior of the B.C. Liberal campaign, which toughened its own anti-pipeline rhetoric in the last week of the race with Christy Clark's "we don't need Alberta, we don't need Canada" speech. In other words, the BC Libs worked to narrow the distance between the Liberal and NDP positions, not increase it.

Nevertheless some people seem to feel that a softer line on Alberta pipelines has become the politically expedient move.  Thankfully, Justin Trudeau is not among them:

The federal Liberal leader told the CBC’s Information Morning Fredericton on Thursday he has specific questions about potential toxins that may be used in the pipeline.

“I think it is a proposal that is extremely interesting. We are waiting to look at how they are going to deal with both the community, local, aboriginal concerns and the environmental concerns,” Trudeau said.

“The [substance] that they put to make that thick crude, thick bitumen run through those pipes can be very toxic. I want to see the plan for being environmentally responsible on it because it won’t go ahead if it will cost us on pollution, in degradation and in inefficiencies in the coming years.”

Now Trudeau is hardly going so far as to suggest that he will kill the proposal when he becomes PM (and its starting to look like he may).  He might simply be commenting on the general lay of the political landscape. Moreover, I think the line nine reversal will ultimately fail due to market disinterest rather than political machinations.  But its good to see that Justin is not simply abandoning the field to the pro-oil-patch forces on environmental issues.  He's showing a little bit of sand on the topic, and that's a good thing.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

New Tory Turmoil--The Beginning Of Something?

Two days ago anti-abortion activists began distributing graphic postcards in Harper’s Calgary riding; today they targeted Calgary Centre-North MP Michelle Rempel:

This doesn't seem closely connected with the various Senate scandals engulfing the government. These particular activists have been agitatin' since last year.  But for whatever reason, several elements of the Tory base seem to be coming unglued all at once.  Luckily for Harper and co., 2015 is still a ways away.  But I suspect these zealot eruptions will grow louder between now and then.

Rob Ford: 300 Lbs of Funeral

You gotta be shittin' me, right?

PS.  Worthing, if you don't know, refers to Peter Worthington.

Oil Spilling, Redux

From Jansen, Sask.:
The oil industry suggests they will move their product by train if their pipelines don't get approved.  They should really be made to use safe rail cars.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

On The Modern Day Electric Dishwasher

When I was growing up back in the late 70s and early 1980s,  my family owned an electric dishwasher.  A good thing, obviously, though gross in that if a piece of food was  missed it would dry into a tiny bit of black on the plate, fork, or etc.  And as soon as you re-hydrated it, would balloon into a chunk big enough to make you gag. And dishwasher soap would dry on your glass, and whatever you poured into the glass would  then taste like soap.

So for the past 20 years I've been hand-washing  dishes in my rental apartment.  Because the wife refuses.  Not her end of the marital bargain, she insists. Naturally, when we finally bought our new place I was thrilled to know that an electric dishwasher came with it.  My travails were over, I thought!

But NOT SO!  Its like our 21st Century, ultra-efficient capitalist society has made NO PROGRESS FUCKING WHATSOEVER  in building a better electric dishwasher!  THERE'S STILL LITTLE DRIED BITS OF CRUD STUCK TO EVERYTHING I WASH!  AND IT ALL BLOATS UP INTO HIDEOUS PUSTULES OF FILTH WHENEVER I ADD WATER AGAIN!!


Friday, May 17, 2013

Bernie Farber

...poses with: Conservative Party organizer Georgeanne Burke, PCPO riding association president for Thornhill (MPP Peter Shurman's riding) Gila Martow, and York U professor Merle Jacobs.  Also in the picture is officer Ricky Veerappan, the fellow that got Pam Geller turfed from her Thornhill gig.  Kathy Shaidle thinks there's something scandalous going on here on Bernie's part.  I don't see it myself, but what's weird is how it doesn't seem to bother Shaidle that a couple of known Tories are also "in deep", as it were, with Veerappan.  Also doesn't seem to bother her that, according to Geller herself,  Jason Kenney, Canada's Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, was involved in the conspiracy to keep her from her Thornhill appearance.  Apparently there's lots of freedom hatin', Jihadi lovin' types playing for the blue team as well.

Two Ontario Polls

Abacus has the Hudak Tories and Wynne's OLP at 34% apiece with NDP at 25%; Innovative Research--who, you ask?--has Wynne up 7 points 37% to 30% for PCPO with NDP at 25%.  Oh.  And there will be no strike at the Elsie.  Have a nice, relaxing, Ontario-Election-free summer.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Students Against Israeli Apartheid Banned At York University

...for being too noisy. Which sounds like a way of getting rid of them while circumventing the free speech issues a more direct approach might  entail.  Although this comment from the SAIA York Facebook page gives some credence to the York Admin's stated rationale:

Again, it looks better when you click on the image.

Rhyme Of The Duffster

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Tide Has Turned

It has begun.  Labrador 2013.  General Election 2015.  PM Trudeau appoints me to Senate, 2016.  He also appoints my wife, and gives us two seats near the aisle for bathroom breaks.  We eat free at the Senate cafeteria (when you're a Senator you get a card), and sleep in the upper chamber like everyone else.  We never have to work again.  Life is sweet.

Toronto Rabbis Denounce Pam Geller

Excerpts from Toronto Board of Rabbis statement:

Monday, May 13, 2013

Stephen Harper's Mother's Day Greeting: The Secret First Draft

You've probably heard about this.  Yesterday Stephen Harper asked Canada to wish Laureen Harper, his wife and the mother of his two kids, a happy Mother's Day.  Many people noted oddity of the little episode.  Through my secret sources, I have obtained a first draft of Harper's letter, before his PR people got hold of it.  I think it explains a lot.
It reads better if you click on the image.

The Census And Your Privacy: The Courts Speak

When Sandra Finely received her long-form census papers in 2006, she refused to fill it out because she felt that the requirement violated her right to privacy, and was therefore unconstitutional   She was taken to court for violating the Statistics Act, lost, and requested an appeal.

Her arguments were heard by the Saskatchewan Court of appeals and last week they issued their ruling.  She lost again.  To get a flavor of the court's decision, a fairly representative passage:

[39]   Thus, the question is not whether Ms. Finley had an expectation of privacy or even a reasonable expectation of privacy in dictionary terms.   The question must be linked to the overall context of the case.   In this case, the question must be cast in these terms:  whether a reasonable person would expect to have privacy in the information requested by the 2006 Long Form Census, which the government wishes to collect exclusively for statistical purposes to aid it in implementing sound and effective public policy, with no criminal or quasi-criminal repercussions flowing from the disclosure of such information, and with the specific information collected being ultimately generalized and “delinked” from the individuals being required to so disclose.  The trial judge answered this critical question negatively and the summary conviction appeal court judge found no error of law, mixed fact and law or fact in her conclusion.

Sandra Finley was the poster girl for that tiny minority of Canadians who support the federal government's elimination of the long-form census.  I think the court ruling makes clear why their concerns, where not driven by simple paranoia, are off-track.  We are supposed to be living in a knowledge-based economy, and it is essential that the government gather accurately and disseminate widely/cheaply such data as is necessary for that economy to function.  Period.  End of story.  If it takes an hour of Ms. Finley's day every few years...well, that's the price we pay for living in the modern world.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Community Level (Census Tract/Dissemination Area) Data In NHS--There Or Not: UPDATE UPDATED

*Sigh*.  A 2nd call to Stats-Can makes the quote below seem somewhat plausible

Today’s first release of the 2011 National Household Survey (NHS) data confirmed what we had previously written. It appears the data quality was so poor that Statscan decided to release neither data at the dissemination area (DA) nor the census tract (CT) levels. These are more commonly referred to as ‘community-level’ data.

At the moment Stats-Can is offering community level materials from the census as custom requests; they plan to release the data more widely later on, though have not given a precise date for this.  Stats-Can staff have also informed me that  census tract/dissemination level data from the the NHS is not yet available, and they have not been given a date upon which it will be made available.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Stats Canada NHS Survey: The First Big OOPS

I spent months arguing that the changes to Canada's long form census would degrade the data from it.  Today we are starting to see proof.  Although most of the damage will come at the lower geographic levels, there appears to be evidence that some of the head-line numbers will be effected as well. From the analytic document "Immigration and Ethnocultural Diversity in Canada"

Top source countries for newcomers

 The NHS results showed that the Philippines was the leading country of birth among people who immigrated to Canada between 2006 and 2011.(3) 

However, go to footnote (3).  It reads:

So in effect Stats Canada is saying that they cannot reliably tell us which country provided Canada the largest share of immigrats during the 2006/2011 period.  A rather glaring flaw, if you ask  me.

Ezra Levant's Freedom Cruise Update: Tips For Travelers

As you know, last year Ezra Levant and the Sun News Network arranged a "Freedom Weekend" up in Muskoka for big-C Conservative zealots.  Since nobody who signed up for that trip has ever spoken ill of it, or even been seen again, Ezra and the gang have decided to try again with a 7-day excursion up the West Coast to Alaska.  A "Freedom Cruise", as they are calling it.  Ezra and co. have even provided a nice FAQ for potential cruise-goers.  I shall reproduce a few of the Q/As below, along with my comments and interpretations:

What to wear


For this cruise, you will want very casual and comfortable wear during the day. This means slacks, shorts, T-shirts and sweatshirts as well as comfortable walking/hiking shoes. In general you should dress moderately on shore and save the dressy clothes for the ship.

Translation: no fashion showboating in front of the locals.  In  Alaska its dark half the year, and they need a human sacrifice to prepare for sunrise  Also, some of the oil rig workers up there haven't seen female flesh in a yonks.  If you don't want to get yourself killed, gang-raped, and eaten, pretend you're in Saudi Arabia.  This applies to the guys too.  Maybe especially.


All future correspondence will go to the address on your confirmation. Address changes must be received in writing. There is a booking number on your confirmation. Please write this number on all certified checks. It is helpful to include your ship and sail date on any correspondence. A good daytime phone number and email address is important if we need to reach you about your booking. Any changes in your reservation including category, number of people in cabin, names in cabin, additions & deletions to cabin, etc, MUST be received in WRITING.

Translation:  WE will call You.  Don't YOU call US.  And when you are speaking to our guy, Raoul, you may hear street noises.  That's because our booking office is at ground level, not because our agent  moon-lights as a cab drive.

General Cruise Notes

If you consider your cruise ship a floating resort that transports you from one port to another as an added bonus, everything will be placed in proper perspective. If you feel naked without your diamonds and emeralds, or a lot of cash on hand, then bring them along. 

Translation: We've got a poker game, and you are invited!  The big boss Kory's telling us that  $17,000,000 a year in losses can be made back right quick with a ship full of suckahs.  That's plan B if the CRTC doesn't come through.

Monday, May 06, 2013

Faker Than Ezra?

So far, I've unable to find anyone with a higher percentage of fake twitter followers than Ezra Levant.  In fact nobody even comes close.  The wannabes include some notable names, however, including...

...Stephen  Harper, leader of our great nation.  A quarter of his followers are fake, and less than half are "good".  Sounds like his approval numbers these days.  Also, Mark Steyn has a pretty high quotient of non-existent pals.

And Don Cherry, which is a major disappointment I tell you, because the guy  himself is so damn genuine.

My Wife On Justin In His Shorts

This is a kind of a guest post from my better half, adapted from a conversation we had earlier upon seeing the LPC message from Justin Trudeau in his khaki T and cargo shorts:

You want to counter the whole idea that Justin is the son of wealth.  So you put him in his backyard or someone else's back yard dressed like a common person. You want him to look like the guy you could invite over to a BBQ, and contrast him with Stephen Harper in an ugly suit.  That way you pull in NDP votes and the votes of guys who want the PM to look like "someone normal".  

Just to add to the dear wife's comments, I'd say Justin looked like half the guys in Ontario this weekend, including me, and its easy to imagine having him over for a few beers.  This guy...not so much.

Ezra Levant And All His Friends

From the Twitter "fake follower" check, which tells you how many of your twitter followers are real:

So it looks like someone has been buying Ezra bulk followers.  Anyway, compare this with the report you get for a real journalist--Canada's sweetest little angel, Kady O'Malley:

Or even Hairface, from Lethbridge:

So the upshot is Ezra's fans are mostly among the non-existent.  That bodes ill for his "freedom cruise" .  Fake people use fake credit.

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Pam Geller Implicates Jason Kenney

The Queen of the Wingnuts has weighed in on getting turfed by the York Region Cops from her speaking engagement at  the Chabad Flamingo Synagogue.  Naturally, she is unhappy about it.  She says, among other things, this:

The police also told the rabbi that Jason Kenney, Canada's Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, has been asked to keep me out of Canada.

Its probably bullshit.  But somebody out there in, like, the media--the people who are  paid to ask  tough questions--should ask of Mr. Kenny whether he indeed was petitioned by police  to keep Pam Geller out of Canada, and whether he has agreed to do it.  Just for clarity's sake,

Friday, May 03, 2013

Pam Geller/Rabbi Kaplan Update

Something that has gone unmentioned in the T.O. Sun story on the matter is that Rabbi Mendel Kaplan of the Chabad Flamingo Synagogue has been in trouble with York Regional Police before.  A little over two years ago Kaplan, the force's "in-house rabbi", was the subject of an internal investigation over a sermon in which he instructed his followers to not support Kulanu or the Pride parade and referred to gays as "an abomination".  Interestingly enough, the officer handling the earlier investigation--Ricky Veerappan--is the same fellow that told Kaplan yesterday that the rabbi would be jeopardizing his volunteer position with the YRP if he hosted Pam Geller at his synagogue.

Kaplan's gay-bashing sermon was eventually  cleared due to the fact that it was expressed "in the context of a religious text", was a sincerely held religious belief, and etc.   No such justification can be given for this latest controversy.  Clearly the YRP had to act; they can't have a fellow interested in importing hate-mongers wearing their uniform.

Federal Government To Dump MERX

MERX is the MERX Canadian Public Tenders service.  Its where the federal and provincial governments put their RFQs and RFPs and the like, asking private companies to bid on contracts for various goods and services.  Except no more  This notice appeared recently on (ironically enough) MERX:

The Government of Canada is moving its electronic tendering service from MERX to on June 1, 2013.

Starting June 1, 2013, federal government tenders (tender notices and bid solicitation documents) will be published and available free of charge on a Government of Canada Web site on

As noted, billions of dollars change hands through MERX.  I wonder how viable the service will be without the federal government on board.   And actually, this is a story that has some small news value.  Since MERX is where Cdn governments go to buy stuff from the private sector, it is often the first place where you can get an idea of what they are really up to.

News For Jews: Save The Canadian Jewish News And Pam Geller Gets Boot From Thornhill Synagogue

Bernie Farber writes of  the on-line petition to rescue the Canadian Jewish News, which will otherwise cease publication come June 20th:

Today for perhaps the first time in our young history as a Jewish community in Canada we may be without a trusted journalistic Jewish voice.

To be sure voices are being raised. To my utter delight and surprise the strongest of these voices seem to be emanating from a new younger generation of readers. Twenty-something folks like Rachel Singer and Alana Kayfetz (ironically the niece of one of Canada's most prolific Jewish journalists and community professionals from a day gone by, Ben Kayfetz Z"L) are putting words into action. Utilizing a 21st century communications device, the internet, they have developed a "Save the CJN" campaign" which has to date gathered more than 3000 digital signatures and close to 50,000 page views.

Playwright Arthur Miller once intoned "A good newspaper is a Nation talking to itself", indeed the CJN talked to a nation of Canadian Jews for over 40 years. To let it die without a bang would be a disservice to who we are as a people. Perhaps if we stood up this time and as my late father use to intone "open a mouth" we can save us from ourselves.

They are asking for electronic signatures and ideas.  I hope at some point somebody asks for money.

Meanwhile, Pam Geller will not be speaking at the Chabad Flamingo Synagogue in Thornhill:

Insp. Ricky Veerappan, of the force’s diversity, equity and inclusion bureau, confirmed he and officers from the service’s hate crimes unit met with Rabbi Mendel Kaplan of the Chabad Flamingo Synagogue on Tuesday.


Subsequent to his meeting with police, Kaplan cancelled Geller’s May 13 talk, which was sponsored by the Jewish Defence League (JDL) — a hard-line advocacy group that had rented space in Kaplan’s synagogue for the event.

Luckily for anyone who would still like to hear the "Queen of the Wingnuts", she will be appearing instead at the Toronto Zionist Center, protected by a security detail from the Jewish Defense League.