Sunday, August 21, 2011

LCBO Fall Beer Release

Whew, I've been shirking my beer news duties since leaving for London a year ago. But I'm back now and think I've figured out what I have/haven't missed in the Ontario beer scene. Here's the LCBO's Fall beer release, hopefully coming to a store near you:

Item # / Product Name / Alc./ Vol. / Size (mL) / Retail
237693 / Cannery Maple Stout / 5.5 / 650 / $5.80
254656 / Ayinger Celebrator / 7.2 / 330 / $3.45
173658 / Garrison Imperial I.P.A. / 7 / 500 / $4.25
234047 / Bacchus Flemish Old Brown / 4.5 / 375 / $4.50
236091 / Celt Bronze Crafted Ale / 4.5 / 500 / $3.65
233486 / Marston's Pedgree V.S.O.P. / 6.7 / 500 / $3.50
233494 / Wychwood Goliath / 4.2 / 500 / $3.50
236992 / Renaissance Stonecutter Scotch Ale / 7 / 500 / $4.60
173534 / Southern Tier Choklat / 11 / 650 / $9.85
504670 / Fuller's 1845 Bottle Conditioned Ale / 6.3 / 500 / $3.50
125153 / Affligem Dubbel / 6.8 / 330 / $2.75
239475 / Charlevoix Dominus Vobiscum Triple / 9 / 500 / $5.95
244376 / Les Trois Mousquetaires Porter Baltique 2011 / 10 / 750 / $9.95
237875 / Box Steam Funnel Blower / 4.5 / 500 / $3.55

You're going to want the Ayinger Celebrator, a gold standard of the liquid bread German doppelbock. Bacchus Old Brown is worth a try for something different if you've got a taste for a bit of sourness and barny funk. Choklat is a nice chocolate stout for rainy November days. Fuller's 1845 is a favourite of mine, a really nice English strong ale. We're seeing some great Quebec brews start to filter over the border, and I've heard good things about both the Charlevoix and Trois Mousquetaires.

Finally, Garrison Imperial IPA is a welcome addition for hop heads in the province. We're starting to see some real bitter pale ales and IPAs now, catching up to the rest of the country (and world). If you like a good hoppy beer and haven't been buying Hoptical Illusion, Smashbomb, Mad Tom, Crazy Canuck, or Garrison Hopyard, start now. not exactly up to American standards yet, but the Canadian brewers are starting to show us what they've got. Keep an eye on dates though, you want hop forward beers to be as fresh as possible, the flavours fade quickly compared to maltier brews.

Oh, also I've added the Amazon thingamajig to share some of my favourite beer books with you in case you're interested. The Brewmasters Table was written by Garrett Oliver of Brooklyn Brewery fame. Beautiful book about how much better beer is with food than wine is. Great advice on pairings and descriptions of styles.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Royal We

I'm not entirely sure what to make of the re-renaming of the "Navy" and "Airforce". I feel like I should have a strong opinion about it. I'm admittedly a traditionalist, monarchist, nationalist, but I can't seem to work up the rage/sense of triumph that so many commentators seem to be expressing.

In a week when one of the government's major ministers was (again) exposed as a corrupt pork barreler my twitter feed is exploding with a fierce battle over the inclusion of the word "Royal" in the names of two organisations that, technically, ceased to exist 50 years ago. And it's gotten more than a little absurd. For instance, check out this bizarre tweet from Andre Coyne.

While putting the Royal back seemed like a decent enough gesture to me, I certainly wouldn't accuse those against it of "adolescent insecurity". Monarchists should always be careful about calling others insecure. I don't think there's anything insecure about believing that Canada is greater than its connection to the Crown, believing that our institutions can stand on their own without connections to what really is a long-dead past.

I'm proud of our history, but I also have respect for Trudeau's "nation-building" project. I grew up being exposed to both, and I like to think I'm a better Canadian for it.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Coren pulls a Starkey

Apparently Michael Coren and SunTV are jealous of all the attention David Starkey has been getting.

Via Dr. Dawg.



Dawg suggests the Broadcast Standards Council and CRTC should be sent a couple notes. Frankly I'm not so sure that isn't exactly what SunTV and Coren want, nothing better for their ratings and tabloid sales. Should be spread around though.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Remember London

Just a thought about London prompted by Doug Saunders and this blog post (which appeared in a Naomi Klein tweet that was, I think ironically, RTd by Andrew Potter).

We would do well to remember what's happening in London the next time someone tries to suggest that unemployment payments, child daycare, free healthcare, public education, or any other publicly funded social welfare program is some sort of "charity". The social safety net was developed for a much bigger reason than to simply help the poor. When wealth is systematically removed from the areas in London we're seeing on the news and transferred to The City, and then The City (or Bay Street, of Wall Street) succeeds in slashing their taxes and shredding these social programs, I think it becomes pretty clear that everyone benefits when the highest provide some level of security for the lowest.

This isn't an excuse for the rioters. As Saunders points out there's no political cause being fought for, these kids don't care about public policy or social justice, they're out for a good time and a Blu-Ray player. It's senseless, but it's not random or without cause. They're kids with little education, poor families, no work, no prospect of work, and no hope that anything is going to get better. I'm a functionalist when it comes to the welfare state, and if we can't remember why the structures we created decades ago exist, then we should make an effort to remember what happens when they're taken away.

UPDATE: Another good article.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Put CBC News Network out of its misery

I am under self-imposed house arrest. I got back to Ottawa from London about three weeks ago. Technically I should be working on my dissertation, with its rapidly approaching September due date, but I've always been a procrastinator and the graduate Shiner is no different than the undergraduate Shiner.

While I was in London there was never a dull moment, nowhere better to put off school work. Not so much in Ottawa. After getting reacquainted with poutine and Hintonburger, and after taking a couple quick walks downtown, I've pretty much exhausted the activities on offer in Bytown.

So television it is. Unfortunately daytime tv blows. So I'm stuck flipping back and forth between CBC News Network, CTV News Channel, and the odd assortment of shows they have of BBC Canada. The only benefit of this horrible lineup is that I stay about as up-to-date as is possible. Or you would have thought so. Yet there I was on Friday morning, tuning into CBC News Network after reading on twitter that there had been a serious explosion in Oslo, and I was watching a segment on sweat. Don't get too excited, nothing interesting or even new has been discovered about sweat. The gist of the story was that sweat keeps you cool when you're hot. This was explained over beach shots and plenty of close-up video footage of moisture on skin.

I'd become resigned to the fact that CBCNN was dull on weekday afternoons but assumed that if something important happened they would snap out of it and, y'know, report stuff. But nope, CBC doesn't do that anymore. I spotted a vague headline about an explosion roll across the bottom of the screen, but it would be about half an hour before any sort of actual story showed up on channel 26. This is the state of our public broadcaster.

As a supporter of public broadcasting, and more specifically the CBC, a pretty professional news organisation was always a big plus (even if it didn't convince the more dedicated in the anti-public broadcasting crowd). It's sad to watch the News Network now. The still fairly new "conversation" style of it all is just plain horrible. The forced interest that the generally untalented anchors have to show in every subject (while maintaining a fake smile) is pathetic. The unwatchable banter that goes on comes across like small chat between particularly dim people at a particularly boring cocktail party. You feel like everyone on screen should be wearing a name tag. Maybe you could look past this silliness if you could still count on actual news and above average analysis, but it's just not there. Most reports involve reading news releases or asking the new intern what yokels on twitter are saying about Amy Winehouse, Norway, or debt default. At this very moment News Network is showing a youtube clip of a raccoon in a swimming pool. The anchor, whose name I don't know and will almost certainly never learn, has just failed, with a bad stutter, to deliver a lame scripted joke about a "raccoon stroke".

This isn't an attack on public broadcasting though, because the CBC simply can't be considered a public broadcaster anymore. The reason for the poor quality is the screwed up incentive the Corp has. Tasked with providing a pan-national service that gives Canadians something they don't receive from commercial broadcasters, the CBC is still required to attract advertisers to make up the funding shortfall from the government. The CBC is screwed up because it awkwardly operates in the market. Again, it is required to provide a service that the market can't provide by attracting money from the market.

Anyways, rant over. Nothing new above, and plenty of other folks said the same things when the changes to the CBC news format was made awhile ago. I just have a bad case of cabin fever and daytime television overload.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

In Defence of the Senate

Seems everyone is fed up with the Senate.

With Harper having a steel grip on power in Ottawa and doing all he can to circumvent scrutiny over the purse strings, it seems like a heck of a time to get rid of the only actual House on the Hill that does anything. Don't tell me that this committee work is unimportant. Don't claim that the Senate no longer functions as a place for sober second thought.

We have one of the saddest excuses for a Parliament in the western world and now we want to make sure they're the be all and end all for governance in Canada? There's no way this improves politics in this country, we're entering dangerous waters here.

Monday, June 20, 2011

While the Opposition slept...

With the NDP (edit: busy) deciding to not not stop being socialists and the Liberals taking their first step in renewal by putting off renewal for two years it seems as though the job of holding the Harper government to account has fallen to twitter.

Also, PMO hides its expenses, no biggie.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Globe stops trying

I know, I know, "they were trying?".

But check out the photo accompanying this Curry article on Rait, hero to the working class. Will they name this one "Riot"?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Inspiring stuff...

Craig Oliver writes:

Two of the party's most impressive leaders laid it out best. Preston Manning and Jason Kenney set out their vision of "managerial Conservatism." Manning insisted Canadians were not interested in a government that is building monuments or seeking great visions.

What they are looking for, in his view, is practical, prudent, day-to-day management of problems and issues.


Presumably "monuments" doesn't include gazebos. Gets the blood flowing eh? Everyone together now: NO WE CAN'T!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Jealous...

of folks back home in Ottawa... sort of.

On the one hand, I've always wanted to see Great Big Sea do a Canada Day show on the Hill. On the other hand, the RCMP completely dropped the ball on crowd control for the Queen's visit. With Will and Kate making an appearance (something that makes hardened Londoners act a bit mad) and Great Big Sea and Sam Roberts on stage, I just pray nobody gets hurt.

I'll be in Trafalgar Square for the annual festivities there, but my heart will be back on Wellington.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Manning Strikes Again

Everyone remember this absurd poll put out last year?

Yeah, well, it's back. So is The Mop and Pail's pathetic coverage/pimping, including what will surely be a fascinating live chat with Preston Manning. We are all Conservatives now.

Update: Ugh, if you're a masochist read the G&M chat. Apparently Canadians are very accepting of tax increases and there seems to be a uniquely Canadian conservatism emerging... finallllllly.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Canonization of Laurier

You can rely on Brian Lilley for stupid columns, and the Sun published a corker yesterday. I won't link to it but the title is Canada doesn't need fixing and it's about how Canada needs fixing. Apparently Canadian progressives want the country to be more like Greece, and we all know how that's working out for them! Lilley and his fellow travellers look south for their policy inspiration, because things are peachy in the land of liberty, apple pie, crushing national debt, and an unofficial unemployment rate hovering around 20%.

But that's not really what I wanted to write about today, I'm fairly sure Lilley's idiocy is generally acknowledged. Instead I want to scratch an itch I've had for some time. In his column Lilley suggests that Canada needs to get back to its heritage of liberty and limited government. This is a meme the new right has picked up over the past decade or so. It has been given a sheen of academic legitimacy thanks to Brian Lee Crowley's silly free market manifestos and received popular attention through The Macdonald-Laurier Institute "think" tank. Crowley has made Wilfred Laurier the hero in his rewriting of Canadian history, and, keeping with the ahistorical theme, completely transformed one of Canada's greatest Prime Ministers into someone almost completely unrecognisable.

A moderate late-19th Century liberal has mutated into a radical post-1980s liberal, a Reagan, a Harper, a Palin. People seem to be buying into it. Even relatively intelligent liberal commentators have adopted Laurier as their new patron saint. The thing is though, it's not who Laurier was, at least not in his policy. Laurier continued the National Policy. He went on a spending spree that's considered a bit much even by today's standards. Canada's protectionist policy remained in place and even proposed reciprocity was watered down. The settlement of the west continued under the federal government's hand. Aside from the rhetoric and the appeal to Quebec, Laurier was a continuation of the policies that built the country.

It's sad that Crowley and company can get away with this nonsense.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

That Ethnic Vote

This article from The Star on what the CES is showing about how new Canadians voted is pretty interesting.

The common wisdom is that the Conservatives were successful in creating an impressive coalition of voting groups to give them a majority, and immigrants have been a part of that coalition according to opinion leaders. It's something that's bothered me, this idea that there's something awe inspiring about the CPC targeting efforts. That being tough on crime, anti-tax, and generous with pork is some sort of magical formula dreamed up by wunderkinds coming out of the Manning Centre. We're all supposed to be very impressed with the ability of the CPC to tap into the Tim Horton's crowd, despite the transparency and obviousness of the whole thing. Anyways, the CES is suggesting that in the one area where the CPC was doing something interesting, with immigrants, their efforts weren't particularly successful.

As is suggested in the Star article this presents an opportunity for Liberals. All is not lost. If they can hold on to the immigrant vote, that provides a solid base that will ensure the party's survival over the next decade (not that I buy the odd notion that the Liberals are at risk of vanishing). So the Liberals should get out those notebooks and start coming up with policy ideas and substantive attacks on the CPC to strengthen their position with new Canadians.

Unfortunately policy doesn't seem to be a priority at the moment. Liberals have inevitably been sucked into insider party politics and organisational debates that have certainly started to alienate this fence sitter. I suppose if you're going to have this kind of slap fight, better now than later, but it's certainly not fun to watch, nor is it likely to attract any new members or lead to any sort of renewal.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Freedom Comes to Manitoba

After the election I took the train to Belgium for a week and binged on beer and waffles. Hung out at the Delirium Cafe in Brussels, a famous beer bar with a phone book beer menu (over 2,000 bottles) and spent a massive amount of money that I should have been saving for my upcoming wedding. Belgium, like the UK, gets me a little depressed about the state of liquor distribution in Ontario.

In the tiniest of corner stores here in London I have my pick of a dozen quality bottled ales, cheap as dirt table wines, and the usual macro lagers. In Belgium I could go into a grocery store and find some of the tastiest beers on the planet, in one I even found a bottle of the Trappist beer Westvleteren 12, considered by some to be one of the best beers on the planet.

While I doubt that Manitoba will measure up to London or Brussels in the near-term, it looks like they're taking a step in the right direction and will be testing the sale of wine and beer in grocery stores in the province.

Meanwhile, Ontarians will continue to make due with the LCBO and the beer barons of the US and Belgium, who continue to hold our beer distribution system hostage in the name of Ontario "values".

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Confederation

Two articles I read this morning that suggest, to me, that the end is nigh:

Paul Wells on Stephen Harper's not-so-hidden agenda
William Johnson on radicalism in Quebec

The two points are obviously related. Harper is dismantling the nation-building (or sustaining) parts of government and the PQ will be happy to demand and receive ever more concessions from his "Conservative" government.

The dream of Canada is more or less dead. There are a few of us romantics hanging around still, believers in the idea that John A. MacDonald had when he was working on the national project, but we're not even outliers. The nationalist cause doesn't register in Canadian politics anymore. It's far more fashionable to accept a new neoliberal Canada, one where Laurier is held up as Canada's greatest Prime Minister, transformed into a Canadian Reagan.

I haven't commented much on this election. I had previously suggested that Ignatieff would surprise folks, that the media had been premature in writing him off. I was wrong. I still like the guy, I think he would make a very good Prime Minister (though the Liberal platform is less than attractive), but I guess I'm just not an "average Canadian". I think he campaigned well, but that apparently doesn't matter much anymore. So we're looking at another Harper government, and I think anyone who believes that an opposition minority government is possible is way off mark. The idea is toxic now, it would be political suicide for anyone to attempt it. Harper succeeded in lying to Canadians about how their government works.

And so we'll continue down the road towards true confederation. Canada will exist as a prison manager and a military that, ironically, is focused on building nations overseas.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

How Policy Debates Should be Covered

Anyone who isn't paying attention to The Globe and Mail's Economy Lab is missing out.

A group of informed, thoroughly even-handed, economists give their thoughts on policy ideas and general economics issues. The media likes to present economics as a Conservative discipline, firmly neo-liberal in every way. It isn't. Since Adam Smith, practitioners have recognised the faults and short-comings of the market. Unfortunately, most of this debate takes place under the noise generated from liberal "think tanks" that represent most of the exposure that the general public get to what is assumed to be academic consensus in the field.

True, the approach is thoroughly technocratic, and comes with the assumptions and measurements that mainstream economics is based on and concerned with. Nonetheless, the Economy Lab shines some light on the crazy world of campaign policy promises and is worth a look.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Two Campaigns

So we're into it now, and we can already see how it's going to be. Ignatieff's Liberals are going to try some good old-fashioned mass politics with big crowds, plenty of energy, and a focus on the headliner. Team Harper will approach the media with open scorn, stay firmly in friendly territory, and focus on the shadow campaign. While the Liberals try for headlines and media face time, the CPC is focused on specific voters listening for that one thing that will bring them onside. We've got fear mongering and citizenship issues with the new Canadian vote. Today he grabs a certain segment of the suburban vote with income-splitting (despite it being a non-policy, this is huge, there are more than a few people who have been wanting this for a long time).

There's nothing new here. Expect more easy-to-understand, headline grabbing, horrible policy from the CPC as we move on. Expect good policy with a limited audience from the Liberals.

Too early to call it obviously, but the Liberals had to do something specific to fight the CPC and all we're hearing right now is that their platform is middle-of-the-road and cheap, and even that will get ripped to shreds given that they're wrong-footed on the potential savings from CIT.

The only question for me now is whether I just stick with UK media for the rest of the election or keep watching, hoping against hope that the Liberals actually know what they're doing.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Laugh from the Past

Gloomy Monday? This ought to brighten your day.

Sections I and III are especially worth a read.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Diary of a Part-time Monk

Here's something worth keeping an eye on.

Diary of a Part-time Monk chronicles the journey of a fellow who has committed to fasting on nothing but doppelbock and water for Lent. For those who don't know what doppelbock is, go pick up a bottle of Paulaner Salvator. It's a strong, malty beer from Germany. The fast is rooted in the medieval practice of German monks.

After 4 days he has lost 10 pounds, so I'm guessing it won't go the whole way, but here's hoping!

On a related note, Spring Beer Release is out in Ontario. Look out for Tree Double Hophead in particular.

Thanks Doris!

In all seriousness, I wish Stockwell Day nothing but the best in his life after politics and thank him for his public service. I disagree with his politics, but everyone I know with any connection to government in Ottawa has a tremendous amount of respect for him. This includes every public servant I've ever spoken to who has worked in one of his departments. By all accounts, a capable and incredibly curteous boss. Big loss of talent in a very shallow pool.

EDIT: The above shouldn't be taken as agreement with anything he did while involved in provincial politics or his personal views, it's simply acknowledging that he was a capable administrator.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Why Wait?

That seems to be the question that should be asked about the electoral calculations. The media seems to be focused on "Why would they?". Pundits seem to, for the most part, fall into the "Liberals don't want an election" camp, or the "Liberals do want an election and they're nuts for it" camp.

Andrew Coyne and Paul Wells touch on my thoughts in their latest podcast, apparently the Liberal braintrust's thoughts as well. The simple fact of the matter is that outside of an election campaign Conservatives are able to, and do, saturate Canadian media with partisan advertising using public money. Their sleaziness in so-doing is something to behold, and we've had the chance to do just that over the past couple weeks. This certainly won't get better after the next budget, why would it?

Every day we wait until an election is a day that the CPC gets to play the game with an advantage. It's especially rough on Ignatieff who most Canadians, still, have not been exposed to outside of the odd media narrative that has been created for him.

Like Steve V, I have a bit of hope for a strong showing by the LPC in the next election, but that doesn't matter. What does matter is that it's not going to get any easier for them.

Monday, March 7, 2011

An Election About Democracy

So there are rumblings that a spring election wouldn't end up being about corporate tax cuts and fighter jets after all. Marlene Jenning's has suggested a non-confidence vote might be in the cards, prompting an election about democratic themes, like a lack of transparency. Music to the ears for those of us concerned about such things, but I think it's pretty well accepted that Canadians couldn't care less. If lack of transparency and unaccountability got Canadians excited the CPC wouldn't be flirting with a majority. "Oh but the Conservatives got elected on a platform of open government!" some might claim. No, they didn't, they got elected on a tough-on-crime and GST cutting platform, Liberal corruption, and western parochialism. They'll run the next election the same way, with an unhealthy amount of Iggy and elite-bashing thrown in. So, if the Liberals want any chance of improving their seat count they need to beat the Cons on policy. They can't do that with fuzzy rhetoric about democratic values. Even the policies Ignatieff has already talked about won't do the job. They need something serious and big that monopolises election coverage. I have no idea what that is. If I had my druthers it would be some sort of move towards a PR system, that would be a complete game changer, and a serious punch to the electoral stomach of the NDP (for this election). Doubt it will happen though, Liberal partisans still think they can form a majority government at some point. They can't. Canada's cartel system isn't working anymore and someone needs to break it open.

Also, Iggy's education platform is a nice thought, but a non-starter.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Harper Government

Civil servants were informed that the Government of Canada no longer exists. It's the Harper Government please.

Not much to say about that is there?

Monday, February 28, 2011

Something to get Excited About

This is interesting.
(I can only see the first line of this, I seem to have misplaced by iPolitics password)

For the past couple weeks I've been asking myself what kind of policy could get people excited. We know how the Conservatives are playing the next election. They've greased the wheels with last week's Porkfest 2011. They're apparently loading up on "star" candidates. They'll beat the dumb-on-crime drum in the suburban ridings they desperately want. Oh! Attack ads too, lots of those.

So how do you counter them? Good policy. And democratic reform was one of the things I had in mind.

Maybe I'm being a tad optimistic about the possibility of good policy proposals exciting your average voter, but a guy can hope. Opening up QP to Canadians, reducing the size of the PMO, and an overhaul of Access to Information are all good ideas. The most exciting thing about this is that they're actually thinking about it. Having concrete proposals for imporiving the Canadian democratic process will be handy if they're going to frame this as an attack on "Harper's Ottawa".

Another policy I had in mind? At least floating the idea of a PR electoral system. I know that's a heck of a fight, but it's certainly exciting. Some might ask what self-professed conservative would be in favour of PR. Up until recently I was a Majoritarian fan boy, but I've come to the conclusion that, given the fact we have 4 parties in the HoC and none show any sign of going anywhere, the jig is up. The system just doesn't operate well with 3 parties, let alone 4. Time for a change, or at least a discussion.

So here's hoping the best is to come from the Liberal policy book.

How to Create a Structural Deficit

A fantastically clear post from Stephen Gordon on how we went from persistent surpluses to a structural deficit. Really should go read it, or at least have a look at the graphs. Ends with this conclusion:

Here are the policy decisions made between 2005 and 2008 that generated that swing in the pre-recession budget balance:

Transfer payments increased by roughly 1% of GDP.
The GST cut reduced revenues by roughly 0.75% of GDP.

Put the two together, and we get a trend towards a deficit even before the recession hit.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Modernizing Ontario's Liquor Laws

This was pointed out to me on the Ministry of the Attorney General's website:

The Ministry of the Attorney General wants to hear your suggestions about how liquor laws in Ontario can be modernized.

The Ministry is accepting submissions from organizations and the public until March 17, 2011, by email at: consultwithus@ontario.ca

Or by regular post at:
Ontario Consultations
720 Bay Street, 7th floor
Toronto, ON M7A 2S9


Just before Christmas I was walking down a street in the not-so-nice area of London I call home and was approached by a fat man in a Santa costume carrying a tray of paper cups. This is a working class neighbourhood, mostly council housing, he wasn't part of some Christmas market or anything, just an average guy on an average street. He asked me if I wanted some mulled wine. It certainly took me a couple seconds for my Ottawa brain to go over the situation in my head, but I eventually said yes, he said "Merry Christmas!" and I showed up at class 15 minutes later with a happy buzz.

There are some nasty parts to Britain's drinking culture. The streets are paved with vomit and I have yet to meet a British drunk you want to be around. But one thing they do right, and one thing the European continent does right, is allow social drinking in all sorts of public places. You can drink your pint on sidewalks outside pubs, I often walk around my local market with a glass of cider, wine, or beer on sunny afternoons.

I would be over the moon if I could visit Winterlude and have some mulled wine, or carry around a glass of whatever during festivals in the Byward Market. When it comes to alcohol in public places Ontario needs to lighten up. I'll be firing off a note to the AG, hope you'll do the same with your liquor related hopes and dreams.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Fixing Parliament

I got to page 3 of this article and then stopped because it was too depressing.

So the question is how do you fix it? For Conservatives the answer is you don't, debate just gets in the way of Dear Leader. But for those of us who do care about Canada's institutions and democracy in general, what can be done?

Seems to me that the answer is that the opposition should use the tools it has to hold the government's feet to the fire, to demand transparency and accountability. Wherry certainly puts some of the blame at their feet. Yet we know why they don't. To follow on the theme that Steve V has been writing about for the past week, if nobody outside Parliament cares, why should anyone inside Parliament care?

Lazy of me to write two posts in a row saying the exact same thing, but it's the Canadian people that's the problem.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

"Stephen Harper is incompetent"

So says Dan Gardner.

This government is comically bad... unless you're a Canadian with an ounce of sense, then it's just depressingly bad.

What else can be said about these guys? Gaff after gaff, rotten policy after rotten policy, and yet they continue to hold a plurality of the vote. I don't blame the media, I don't even blame the opposition. There's just something seriously wrong with Canadians.

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Canadian Disease

Helpfully defined by Hugh Segal:

Segal predicts that there will be opposition to his proposal. He writes that while Canadians share certain strengths of decency, compassion, moderation and tolerance, some are also struck with something he calls the "Canadian Disease . . . a weakness that combines wishful thinking, nostalgia and confusion.

The kicker is that it appears in a "book" about the "history" of Canadian "conservatives". According to Segal it's our small mindedness that keeps us from realizing true progress and forming a union with the United States and Mexico. Why would we do such a thing?

If sovereignty is an instrument to be used to expand freedom and opportunity, then surely the use by us of our own sovereignty to build a North American Community must also be seen as an attempt to create a larger society that reflects our values and priorities

Got that? We must use our sovereignty to expand our freedom and opportunity by getting rid of our sovereignty. Our first Prime Minister must be so proud.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Place yer bets!

Hi. It's me, Shiner. Been a bit since I last posted. Who knew that pubs with open fires, real ale, free world class museums, and good company could be more enjoyable than paying attention to Canadian politics.

Nonetheless, this stadium thing has me pacing my tiny cell in Southwark and periodically frightening my suite mates with outbursts of profanity. I'm not the only one who is angry though.

Well, okay, maybe "angry" isn't the right word for how the folks at the National Post are feeling. Their laughable headline says it all:

Build it and... we won't be happy

Right. Stop it this minute or I'm turning this car around!!! I'm sure they'll get a bit more heated if this rumour (via BCL/Bourque) turns out to be true. I imagine we'll get something like

We're really serious this time Mr. Prime Minister. We're not happy... in fact we're verging on mildly displeased

How I can wait... however many months... to find out who the NP is going to endorse in the next federal election, I don't know. More beer reviews I suspect.

Reason to take comfort though, Canada's NEW! Globe and Mail dutifully reports that the money the government will be using is unspent. Well whew!

Meanwhile, over here, the silly Brits are having debates about banking reform and the financing of higher education. Thank God I'm from a more serious country.