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Bad Tory Craziness · We’re hav­ing an elec­tion, one that’s more en­ter­tain­ing than usu­al, and while our pol­i­tics in Cana­da are in gen­er­al a lit­tle san­er than our south­ern neighbors’ (and our elec­tions mer­ci­ful­ly short­er), we shouldn’t get too smug; here’s the ev­i­dence ...
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Sitting down with Trudeau on C-51 · A cou­ple of months ago, ten peo­ple spent an hour sit­ting down with Justin Trudeau, Lib­er­al Par­ty lead­er and po­ten­tial­ly Canada’s next Prime Min­is­ter, to talk about Bill C-51, anti-terrorist leg­is­la­tion from our Con­ser­va­tive gov­ern­men­t. I was one of those peo­ple, and per­haps read­ers might be in­ter­est­ed in hear­ing about it ...
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From the Hill · Joseph Heath ar­gued in 2001’s The Ef­fi­cient So­ci­ety that Cana­di­an so­ci­ety is about as op­ti­mal as it get­s. This idea is not com­plete­ly crazy, even when one loathes the gang cur­rent­ly in charge. This week I made a rare vis­it to Ot­tawa, took pic­tures, and thought about Canadian-ness ...
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Oily Politics · The pol­i­tics start with whether you say “tar sands” or “oil sands”. What­ev­er you want to call them, they’re up in North­ern Al­ber­ta. Ob­servers of Amer­i­can pol­i­tics will have no­ticed the Key­stone XL pro­jec­t, which would take the sands’ crude oil south to Tex­as. North­ern Gate­way, the Cana­di­an ver­sion, would car­ry crude west to Kiti­mat on the Pa­cif­ic coast for ex­port to Asi­a; it’s in the news be­cause the pub­lic hear­ings start next week, with thou­sands queued up to of­fer opin­ion­s. I’m gen­er­al­ly con­tra, and in­creas­ing­ly op­ti­mistic ...
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Mountain Tops · I usu­al­ly ask for a win­dow seat, and try to have some sort of cam­era handy. I’ve been fly­ing since I was very young and I’m not young any more, but I’ve nev­er tired of tak­ing pic­tures through air­plane win­dows. I get the oc­ca­sion­al raised eye­brow from the oth­er fre­quent fly­ers suck­ing on their Bloody Marys, but I can take it ...
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Election Wow · We just had a sur­pris­ing elec­tion; I pre­viewed it on April 10, and am slight­ly smug over hav­ing pret­ty well called the out­come on April 25th ...
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Multiwhatever · On Ju­ly first, Cana­da Day, we went down and took in the big show at Cana­da Place; fun was had. We’re of­fi­cial­ly and as a mat­ter of record here in Cana­da sup­posed to be about mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism and any id­iot can see we’re mul­ti­eth­nic, but that doesn’t ac­tu­al­ly mean we’re eat­ing off dif­fer­ent ta­bles or lis­ten­ing to dif­fer­ent tunes ...
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Windy · Cana­da has long been a tele­phone oligopoly: Rogers, Telus, and Bell Cana­da; Cana­di­ans gen­er­al­ly feel that prices are high and ser­vice on­ly so-so. Now we’ve got a new mo­bile play­er, Wind Mo­bile. I signed up as soon as they got to Van­cou­ver, at least in part for rea­sons of ide­ol­o­gy; com­pe­ti­tion is a good thing. So far, Wind looks like a good thing too ...
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Had It With Harper · In Cana­da we’re about to en­ter our fifth year of Con­ser­va­tive (AKA “Tory”) mi­nor­i­ty gov­ern­ment un­der Prime Min­is­ter Stephen Harp­er. They’ve been unin­spir­ing and not ter­ri­bly lik­able, but rea­son­ably com­pe­ten­t; enough to stay out of re­al trou­ble with the vot­er­s. I’m no To­ry but I’ve most­ly been “well, whatever”. No longer; it’s time to bounce these bo­zos and see if we can do bet­ter ...
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Copyright in Canada · This is my sub­mis­sion to Canada’s pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion on copy­right pol­i­cy ...
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Dino Fangs and Alberta Skies · This ends the va­ca­tion se­ries; a pic­ture that com­bines the di­nosaur and Alberta-skies themes ...
 
Voting · Yes, last week we had a Cana­di­an elec­tion. Not much changed, so it wasn’t a very sat­is­fy­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. For the first time, I’m warm­ing up to the no­tion of tin­ker­ing with our vot­ing sys­tem ...
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I’m Voting Green · Canada’s 40th Gen­er­al Elec­tion is to­mor­row. I’ll be vot­ing Green; here’s why ...
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Tab Sweep — The World · Good legale­se, im­mi­gra­tion, Lord Black, and Ana­heim ...
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Dirty Canadians? · I was go­ing to write about the Bur­ma Campaign’s Dir­ty List, nam­ing the Cana­di­an com­pa­nies there and sug­gest­ing they get of­f. But lit­tle bit of Web re­search seems to show that of the five com­pa­nies named, Ivan­hoe Mines, Jet Gold Corp, and Lee­ward Cap­i­tal have al­ready bailed from Bur­ma. So, as­sum­ing those guys aren’t ly­ing, good on ’em!
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Passport Hell · To­day I spent nine (9) (no, that’s not a ty­po) hours in line to ap­ply for a pass­port ...
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Maxed · I’ve been do­ing less tech­ni­cal writ­ing here re­cent­ly, the kind of stuff about the Web and Sun and so on that I think is why most peo­ple come vis­it. I think this is be­cause I’m get­ting deep­er in­to the Sun in­ter­nal ecosys­tem; mor­ph­ing from a wild-eyed guy cruis­ing the halls mut­ter­ing rad­i­cal ideas about REST and Ru­by and RSS, to be­ing up to my el­bows in some skunkworks and prod­ucts and com­mu­ni­ca­tions pro­gram­s. In an ide­al world this should re­sult, down the road, in some re­al­ly meaty pieces in this space. In the in­ter­im, I can post pic­tures and re­port on the cam­era mar­ket ...
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Gosling, O.C. · James has been ap­point­ed to the Order of Cana­da, and about bloody time. Not on­ly is this well-deserved, but as far as I know, it’s the first time that a com­put­er tech­nol­o­gist has made it in. I have noth­ing against the dancers and in­sur­ance ex­ec­u­tives and phi­lan­thropists and hock­ey play­ers cur­rent­ly in­hab­it­ing the Order, but the con­struc­tion of the fu­ture is in some large part in the hands of the en­gi­neer­s; and this needs bet­ter recog­ni­tion.
 
Stéphane Dion · So the Lib­er­als picked the pencil-neck geek with the bad hair, and his ac­cep­tance speech wasn’t very good TV. Stil­l, he’s kind of ap­peal­ing, he’s re­al smart, and he knows how the sys­tem work­s. That cyn­i­cal old lizard Chrétien gave a darn good speech, I thought. Harper, Dion, Lay­ton, Du­ceppe; there are lots of coun­tries whose cit­i­zens are look­ing at worse choic­es.
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Liberal Oratory · In Canada, we have three sig­nif­i­cant po­lit­i­cal par­ties. The right-wing Con­ser­va­tives (Tories) oc­ca­sion­al­ly get to form the gov­ern­ment (like now, for in­stance). The cen­trist Lib­er­als are some­times called “the nat­u­ral gov­ern­ing party” and have def­i­nite­ly spent more years in of­fice; at the mo­ment they’re in op­po­si­tion af­ter get­ting a well-deserved spank­ing from the vot­ers over a nasty lit­tle cor­rup­tion scan­dal. Then there’s social-democratic NDP. The Lib­er­als are cur­rent­ly hav­ing a con­ven­tion to pick their next lead­er, quite pos­si­bly our next Prime Min­is­ter. Tonight we had the big speech­es from all eight (!) can­di­dates and the first bal­lot. Prob­a­bly of in­ter­est on­ly to Canadian-politics fan­s ...
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A Canadian Evening · That cold has now struck down ¾ of the fam­i­ly, so we stayed in­side this af­ter­noon and evening, and watched Hock­ey Night in Cana­da [home, Wikipedia] which is pret­ty cen­tral to who we are here ...
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Remembrance Day · I’ve al­ways cared about Re­mem­brance Day; nev­er been to war, but I’ve lived close to a cou­ple and seen what hap­pens when the wrong peo­ple win one. But here in Canada, those mem­o­ries are grow­ing dim; my un­cle Allen Scott died in the Nether­lands in 1944, but the num­ber of peo­ple with even that di­rect a con­nec­tion to what we still call “The War” is grow­ing small­er (and I just came back from a pleas­ant vis­it to Ger­many, hang­ing out with our for­mer en­e­mies). That was un­til this decade. Now, our young peo­ple are falling in war in Afghanistan; these ones, I mean. I’m touched to see that some of them are hav­ing their iden­ti­ties im­mor­tal­ized on­line; thanks to whoever’s do­ing that work. The bad guys in Afghanistan are re­al­ly gen­uine­ly bad; I don’t think there are many of us who ob­ject to tak­ing them on, or to try­ing to give the long-suffering Afghans a leg up. Lots of Cana­di­ans are wor­ried whether what we we’re try­ing to do can be done; and it doesn’t help that our work in Afghanistan makes us a nom­i­nal al­ly of one side in the botched, du­plic­i­tous, bru­tal war next door. What­ev­er; Re­mem­brance day is—or should be, anyhow—becoming more rel­e­van­t, more vi­tal, more cen­tral. But the troops that are im­por­tant are the ones who are alive and work­ing; if you’re a Cana­di­an you can send ’em a mes­sage; I as­sume oth­er coun­tries have sim­i­lar sys­tem­s. [Up­date: What Rob said.]
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Canada Day Fireworks · The on­ly sub­stan­tial show in Van­cou­ver this year was at Nat Bai­ley, the minor-league ball­park ten blocks from home, much written-about in this space. Since Canada’s birth­day is al­so my son’s we took him along and let him stay til the end to see them. They aren’t the world’s biggest fire­work­s, but the in­ti­ma­cy you get in a lit­tle park like that is hard to beat, and noth­ing im­proves the en­joy­ment of the fire­works ex­pe­ri­ence so much as hav­ing a kid along. Now I’m go­ing to waste your band­width with six dif­fer­ent fire­works pic­tures, none ex­hibit­ing any photo-realism ...
 
The Toronto Bombers · This sto­ry has Cana­di­ans shak­ing their head­s. It turns out that it was a sting, the po­lice sup­plied the 3 tons of am­mo­ni­um ni­trate that you could use to make a McVeigh-style bom­b, on­ly big­ger. The Toron­to Star has a sto­ry (it’ll prob­a­bly van­ish be­hind the pay­wal­l) that in­tro­duces each of the peo­ple charged. They turn out to be most­ly sub­ur­ban, most­ly Cana­di­an; two of them are ac­tu­al­ly in jail af­ter plead­ing guilty last Oc­to­ber to sneak­ing a cou­ple of guns across the bor­der. For a mo­ment I won­dered if the cops were go­ing over­board, en­cour­ag­ing a bunch of wannabe-jihadi wanker­s; but then I re­al­ized that these are de­mo­graph­i­cal­ly an aw­ful lot like the bunch that blew up the Lon­don Un­der­ground; so it’s prob­a­bly an ex­am­ple of good polic­ing. Even if we man­age to stop the bleed­ing in the Mid­dle East, some eth­nic group some­where in the world is al­ways go­ing to be op­pressed and get­ting beat up; let’s hope the fu­ture bombers liv­ing among us are as clue­less as this bunch.
 
Bad Canadian DNS Theatre · If you val­ue your free­dom of speech, and you’re in Canada, don’t use “cadns.ca” as a reg­is­trar. It turns out that some­one set up a site sat­i­riz­ing pa­thet­ic, doomed, Lib­er­al lead­er­ship can­di­date Joe “Drug Money” Volpe, at YouthForVolpe.­ca, and one of Volpe’s goons ar­ranged for cadns.­ca to pull the do­main name. The site’s been mir­rored here, but you have to fol­low Cana­di­an pol­i­tics to know why it’s fun­ny.
 
Emersonapalooza · Oh my good­ness gra­cious. We had an elec­tion here in Cana­da last mon­th, and the Con­ser­va­tives (“Tories” for short) threw out the Lib­er­als, to the gen­er­al sat­is­fac­tion of an ir­ri­tat­ed pop­u­lace, but failed to get a ma­jor­i­ty in Par­lia­men­t, to the gen­er­al sat­is­fac­tion of a cau­tious pop­u­lace. My own rid­ing, Van­cou­ver Kingsway, had been held by Lib­er­al David Emer­son, a sea­soned pri­vate and pub­lic sec­tor ex­ec­u­tive who’d been parachut­ed in but won it fair and square, and has al­ways been in the cab­i­net; he held the seat for the Lib­er­als last mon­th. This morn­ing, we awoke to the news that he’d “crossed the floor”, joined the Tories, and been re­ward­ed with a se­nior Cabi­net post. This change sub­tly shifts the com­bi­na­torics of pow­er in par­lia­ment and will be very use­ful to the gov­ern­men­t. The coun­try in gen­er­al and my neigh­bor­hood in par­tic­u­lar is pret­ty flab­ber­gast­ed. I got my jol­lies when I picked up my morn­ing cof­fee and some TV news crew was wait­ing out­side ask­ing passers-by what they thought. I splut­tered, tele­geni­cal­ly I hope, if they run it and any­one sees it, let me know. Cana­di­ans in search of some po­lit­i­cal snick­ers and a his­toric but im­per­illed doc­u­ment can read on for more ...
 
Election Day · I vot­ed ear­ly this morn­ing; we’ve been liv­ing in this neigh­bor­hood long enough that I rec­og­nized some peo­ple over at the pol­l, hung out and chat­ted for a bit. It felt good. I think that what’s hap­pen­ing to­day here in Cana­da high­lights the sin­gle es­sen­tial thing about democ­ra­cy; I wrote about this al­most three years ago, but it’s worth say­ing again: I don’t par­tic­u­lar­ly trust “the people” to pick the right poli­cies or even to pick the right lead­er­s. I do, how­ev­er trust them to de­tect the con­di­tion that the gov­ern­ment has been bad and needs to be turfed. Which we, to­day, are ap­par­ent­ly the pro­cess of do­ing. Frankly, I think it would be OK to pick the next gov­ern­ment by ran­dom se­lec­tion, and we prob­a­bly wouldn’t do that much worse than the cur­rent elec­toral crap-shoot. The im­por­tant thing—the on­ly thing that re­al­ly mat­ters—is that we re­tain the right to throw ’em out in a peace­ful and or­der­ly fash­ion, at our sole dis­cre­tion and for any rea­son. There are a lot of peo­ple in the world with­out that right. It’s the one that all the oth­ers flow from.
 
Canada’s Election · Our pol­i­tics haven’t his­tor­i­cal­ly been fa­mous for grip­ping dra­ma; af­ter al­l, the na­tion­al mot­to is “Peace, Order, and good Government”. But the cur­rent edi­tion is get­ting re­al­ly in­ter­est­ing. I’m nei­ther ter­ri­bly en­thu­si­as­tic nor dis­il­lu­sioned about our po­lit­i­cal sys­tem, a typ­i­cal first-past-the-post Par­lia­men­tary elect­ed dic­ta­tor­ship. One thing, though, is ab­so­lute­ly won­der­ful: our elec­tions are over in a few week­s. The cur­rent edi­tion, with the Christ­mas break in the mid­dle, is un­usu­al­ly long. I had to feel sor­ry for the politi­cos out cam­paign­ing in De­cem­ber; not on­ly is the weath­er bru­tal, but in most of the coun­try, most of the vot­ers were busy get­ting ready for Christ­mas and thus to­tal­ly not pay­ing at­ten­tion. If you want to fol­low, I find that journoblog­ger An­drew Coyne pro­vides a good vantage-point on the cam­paign. What’s hap­pen­ing is that the Lib­er­al­s, of­ten re­gard­ed as the Nat­u­ral Govern­ing Par­ty, have fall­en be­hind in the poll­s. The Con­ser­va­tives (“Tories”) have done poor­ly in re­cent elec­tions be­cause the Lib­er­als suc­cess­ful­ly paint­ed them in scary GOP-clone colours, cre­at­ing fear that they’d pri­va­tize health­care, ban abor­tion, op­press gays, end gun con­trol, get us in­to Repub­li­can wars, and shut down im­mi­gra­tion. They were helped by the fact that the Tories had a few out­spo­ken di­nosaurs who ap­par­ent­ly want­ed to do pre­cise­ly those things. This time, there are two big dif­fer­ences. First, most of the coun­try is re­al­ly, re­al­ly ir­ri­tat­ed at the Lib­er­als for their long-time cul­ture of in­sid­er pa­tron­age and for re­cent­ly hav­ing been caught en­gag­ing in overt bribery and kick­back­s. In fac­t, if they hadn’t been do­ing a rea­son­ably com­pe­tent job of run­ning the coun­try, they’d be on their way to the po­lit­i­cal grave­yard. Se­cond, the Tories have their right-wing cra­zies firm­ly un­der con­trol and are sound­ing level-headed, sen­si­ble, and un-radical. It looks like the vot­ers may well give ’em a chance. Mind you, there are still 16 days of cam­paign­ing and a lot can change.
 
Hockey and America · I man­aged to catch a few of the games in the just-completed World Ju­nior Hock­ey Cham­pi­onship. If I’d been more or­ga­nized I might have been able to go to some of them since they were right here in town, but hock­ey turns out to be ex­cel­lent HDTV fare and it was ter­rif­ic en­ter­tain­men­t. While we won the fi­nal 5-0, that wasn’t fair to the Rus­sian­s, who were a strong, fast, skilled team; they had at least as much tal­ent as the Cana­di­an­s. I think they were out-coached; plus our goalie Justin Pogge, whom nobody’d ev­er heard of be­fore, went in­to brick-wall mode in the first third or so of the game, against a mere hu­man there would have been two or three or more Rus­sian goal­s. Any­how, once you got past Cana­da and Rus­si­a, the oth­er re­al­ly good team in the tour­na­ment was the USA. And here’s what’s weird and dis­turbing: the mostly-Canadian au­di­ences were ac­tive­ly cheer­ing for any­one play­ing against the US, and oc­ca­sion­al­ly boo­ing the Amer­i­can­s. Grant­ed, economically-literate Cana­di­ans are mad at the US for egre­gious NAFTA abuse, and we’re ter­ri­fied of the con­se­quences of our neighbor’s lu­natic fis­cal and trade deficit­s. And of course, from the mushy Cana­di­an cul­tur­al cen­tre, Dubya and the neotheo­cons seem like be­ings from an alien plan­et. While, like most Cana­di­an­s, I dis­ap­prove of many ac­tions of the cur­rent US ad­min­is­tra­tion, like most Cana­di­ans I al­so like most Amer­i­can­s. And it’s just mo­ron­ic to take out po­lit­i­cal gripes on a bunch of ea­ger, ded­i­cat­ed, young ath­letes. But hav­ing said that, if there were any doubt that the USA has a ma­jor public-relations prob­lem, boo­ing hock­ey fans a half-hour over the bor­der should dis­pel it.
 
Liberals Fall · As I (very safe­ly) pre­dict­ed a cou­ple of weeks ago, the Cana­di­an gov­ern­ment fell to­day and we’re look­ing at a Jan­uary elec­tion. You have to feel sor­ry for the can­di­dates who, most places in the coun­try, will be slog­ging through the snow and sub-zero tem­per­a­tures; but not that sor­ry, it’s long past time we had this lit­tle cathar­sis. As I was scan­ning the cov­er­age to­day I ran across the blog of Monte Sol­berg, an Al­ber­ta To­ry of whom I’d nev­er heard, but who gives the po­lit­i­cal nar­ra­tive in an un­forced, flow­ing, insider’s voice; he’s a nat­u­ral. I was a lit­tle in­trigued that it’s not ob­vi­ous at all from his web-site which par­ty he rep­re­sents. On the oth­er hand, it’s tough to see a guy this un­af­fect­ed and nat­u­ral be­ing re­al com­fy as­so­ci­at­ing with a plas­tic on-message droid like Stephen Harper.
 
Canadian Politics — OK · Wel­l, fi­nal­ly. As I wrote back in May, we’ve had a high­ly un­sta­ble po­lit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion for the best part of a year, with the gov­ern­ing mi­nor­i­ty Lib­er­als emit­ting a strong aro­ma of en­trenched cor­rup­tion, but the op­po­si­tion not (quite) sum­mon­ing the will to take ’em down. Wel­l, now all three op­po­si­tion par­ties have said that they won’t sup­port the Lib­er­als any more; while they’re squab­bling mess­i­ly, chances are we’re go­ing to have an elec­tion in Jan­uary. The NDP, who were sup­port­ing the gov­ern­ment in or­der to win social-democratic leg­isla­tive points, now say they aren’t hap­py with the Liberals’ health-care of­fer­s, but I sus­pect that they’ve de­cid­ed that the gen­er­al pub­lic is so mad at the the Lib­er­als that the costs of be­ing in bed with them out­weigh any pol­i­cy ben­e­fit­s. It should be an in­ter­est­ing elec­tion. On one hand, the Lib­er­als were caught red-handed steal­ing mil­lion­s. But on the oth­er, they’ve ac­tu­al­ly been pret­ty com­pe­ten­t; un­em­ploy­ment and the na­tion­al debt are down, we’re not bogged down in any over­seas wars; peo­ple feel pret­ty pos­i­tive about our in­volve­ment in the Balka­ns and Afghanistan. Me, I think we have to dump the Lib­er­als if on­ly to pre­serve our self-respect, but I can’t imag­ine we’ll get a very long-lasting re­sult. That’s OK, elec­tions are cheap and bear­able, com­pared to the al­ter­na­tive.
 
FSS: Snowy Rainbow · Fri­day Slide Scan #10 is a bit of a mys­tery, the file was in a fold­er la­beled “Ontario” but it re­al­ly looks to me like a win­ter shot of Long Beach in Pa­cif­ic Rim Na­tion­al Park. Which I would high­ly rec­om­mend as a tourist des­ti­na­tion to any­one ...
 
Canadian Election · We’re hav­ing an elec­tion up here in Cana­da right now. K5 has a de­cent write-up; here­with some more, try­ing to give a fla­vor for the thing ...
 
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