Saturday, January 28, 2006

Vive le Quebecois Libre!

Forget Alberta, all the pro-liberty action is in Quebec.

Stuffed to the rims with so-cons, Alberta is only half-right when it comes to politics. The economic half. When it comes to money and wealth, Albertans are right--leave well enough alone and ask me before you put your hands in my pockets. When it comes to the social half, unfortunately, Albertans tend to get it all wrong--they like to meddle in everyone else's business.

And, yes, you heard me right. The front lines for freedom are all of them in Quebec.

Don't believe me? Try this list on for size:

1. CHOI-FM: The radio station slowly becoming synonymous with free speech hails from Quebec.

2. Dr. Jacques Chaoulli: The man who just about single-handedly brought down Canada's socialist health care system in what is surely one of the five most significant Supreme Court cases in our country's history is a fluent French speaker.

3. The Montreal Economic Institute: Want good policy? Turn to this libertarian think tank hailing from Montreal and rapidly growing in popularity.

4. Le Quebecois Libre: Canada's only one-hundred per cent, no exceptions, pro-freedom and popular publication hails from Quebec (the Western Standard has a few exceptions).

5. Pierre Lemieux: Quite possibly the most fierce liberty-lover in this country calls Quebec his home.

6. Andre Arthur: This election's only Independent MP who self-describes himself as a libertarian has "Je me souviens" on his licence plate.

7. Action Democratique du Quebec: Maybe somewhat controversially an addition to this list, but pretty kick-ass as far as the (practical) advancement of liberty goes.

8. Les invasions barbares: A gritty movie about the stupidity of Canada's health care system is both from Quebec and really, really good.

Has anyone else started to feel this particular breeze emanating from a province typically associated with statist philosophy? If you've got some suggestions, send them my way. I would love to expand this list.

NOTE: The list consists of either libertarians, or single-issue items that are pro-liberty on that issue. So, for instance, CHOI is all about free speech, and no one cares about their position on other issues.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Andre Arthur - libertarian?

The lone Independent MP to come out of this election is radio "shock-jock" (I don't know why they call them that) Andre Arthur. Andre is part of the reason why CHOI-FM was taken down by the anti-free speech CRTC. The refusal of the CRTC to reissue the licence led to a massive 50,000 strong Ottawa protest by fans of the radio station. (I interviewed the other host "responsible" for the CRTC's decision--Jeff Fillion--for the Western Standard. You can listen to the conversation here [WAV], or see the interview here)

According to the Wikipedia entry on Monsieur Arthur, he is a libertarian:
"André Arthur's political views generally lie on the right of the political spectrum, and he is a self-described libertarian. He is interested in reducing statist intervention in the economy and reducing taxes in Canada and Quebec. He is also a noted admirer of the United States."
If you happen to know a bit more about Andre Arthur, please email me. Also, if you know whether or not a) he speaks English and b) his contact info, please email me. Or leave me a comment.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Saskatchewan fat ladies not yet singing

One riding still worth following is Desnethe-Missinippi-Churchill River, the riding formerly held by Jeremy Harrison of the Conservatives in Saskatchewan. Having led throughout the night with just a few polls left to report, it looked like Harrison was going to hang on to his seat. But the last poll to report changed all that. Says Harrison:
"Even the last poll, somehow it took three-and-a-half hours to count the last poll and lo and behold, it was nearly 100 per cent turnout, all of which went Liberal, just enough votes to go over the top. So we're really concerned. These are the kinds of things that happen in banana republics, not in our country."
The official results show Gary Merasty of the Liberals winning with 10,237 votes compared to Harrison's 10,131, a difference of only 136 votes. Something stinks. I hope Jeremy pulls this off.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Western Standard rides again

A while ago, Scott Reid, in yet another thoughtless moment, said "Alberta can blow me." Western Standard's Kevin Steel (a great guy, by the way. When I was working there, he took a lot of time out to help me learn the journalism ropes) quoted the quip in this story:
In the wee hours following the always well-lubricated Parliamentary Press Gallery dinner at Ottawa's Museum of Civilization on Oct. 23, Scott Reid, press secretary for the Prime Minister's Office, announced to Calgary Herald columnist Don Martin, "Alberta can blow me."
But the CanWest scribe Martin took exception to this quoting, saying that he never did confirm such a thing. Then he went on to say that either the thing never happened, or that, if it did, it was off the record. He said the WS was a poor journalistic enterprise, and tried to smear it roundly.

Unfortunately, Martin carelessly left a voicemail for Steel, so that proof was easily available. Oops. Kevin Libin, ed-in-chief of the mag, defends Steel and takes Martin down a couple of rungs in terms of his credibility with this post on the Shotgun. Go follow it, it includes a link to the actual voicemail.

Then get a subscription to the magazine. It rocks.

Best blonde joke ever

I posted up on another blog I write to what is easily the best blonde joke ever.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Blogging Tories under investigation?

Is this a joke?

Apparently Elections Canada is being asked to investigate the Blogging Tories, a collection of Tory-supporting bloggers. I'm on the Blogging Tories. The allegation is that the website is actually an initiative of the Conservative Party of Canada, and not of individual Canadians. This would be in violation of third party spending laws, or something similar.

The Liberal Party is running away with this stupid and frivolous news by issuing a press release suggesting that the CPC is hypocritical.

Of course this request is going to go nowhere.

What's interesting, however, is the role that crazy Carol Jamieson is playing in this. She was credited as being a "party organizer" by the Globe and Mail when she wasn't anything resembling a "party organizer." You can get the whole story, and more, by following this link to Stephen Taylor's blog and reading up on the fun escapades of Ms. Jamieson.

Yes, this is the same Stephen Taylor who founded the Blogging Tories. You do the math.

Oh, and I like this quote in the news story from Eugene Parks (the other angry former Tory who is helping Jamieson to file this complaint):
"They're trying to make it look like these are individuals rather than a party effort."
Uhm, I assure everyone that I, for one, am an individual and not a party effort.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Private health care fun

It seems to me like we have a bit of irony on the campaign trail.

It goes like this: The supposed supporter of private health care has, near as I can tell, never made any use of private medicine. Has not been to a private hospital, has not had a private doctor, has not... well, you get the picture. Meanwhile, it now turns out that both of the supporters of public medicare have much more to do with private medicine than most would think.

The Canadian Press has discovered that Jack Layton had a hernia operation at the Shouldice hospital. The Shouldice clinic is a private, not-for-profit hospital. Yeah, private. Like with shareholders and CEOs and earnings statements and capitalism and so on.

Of course, everybody knows that Paul Martin, maybe the most embarassing excuse for a prime minister in my country's history, has a private phsysician who runs Medisys Health Group, a private, for-profit health care clinic. Not like the rest of us, who don't have that luxury (but should. And will!).

Meanwhile, former NDP premier of B.C. [Ed.: Got it, Thurley] and current (but not for long) Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh got the most money from capitalist health care pig-dogs (actually, what do lefties call these sorts of people nowadays? I'm always confused about the animal references. Maybe now they're capitalist hyenas or snakes or frogs or chickens or something. Whatever. I don't know what these people have against animals anyways).

Slick bunch of politicians, hm? (At least they're all healthy).

Back off

Uhm, what?

This is just about the dumbest thing I've read in a long time:
Mr. Harper’s radical proposal to include property rights in the Charter could be used to strike down laws that protect workers, children, unions and the environment.
What the fuck are they talking about? Can anyone please explain just how adding property rights into the Charter will affect laws that protect children? And, while you're at it, could you explain why they didn't mention puppies and kittens? After all, not having property rights in the Charter is the reason why we don't all harm puppies and kittens.

Then there's this:
Mr. Harper’s proposal is a fundamental change to the Charter. It would necessitate a comprehensive round of constitutional negotiations with the provinces, and require the approval of seven provinces and 50 per cent of the population to be implemented.
Uhm, sort of like if you were to, say, try and remove the notwithstanding clause?

Mr. Harper’s proposal to “protect” property rights borrows heavily from radical right-wing conservatives today in the United States who want to use the “protection” of property rights to prevent the United States government from regulating.
No, you absolute simpleton morons. They are trying to use the "protection" of property rights to fight against the ridiculous Kelo ruling which allows governments to take your home so that some "big corporation" (TM) can set up shop where you once had your kitchen. These "far right radicals" (TM) are fighting to keep Wal-Mart and Yacht clubs from taking over poor neighbourhoods.

It's not about regulating, it's about your home being your castle.
As Prime Minister Paul Martin told Mr. Harper during the Leaders’ Debate Tuesday night, “America is our neighbour, it’s not our nation.”
So then why is the Prime Minister trying to get rid of the notwithstanding clause? Remember, the U.S. has no notwithstanding clause and what the Supreme Court says goes. Sounds like someone is forgetting that America is our neighbour, not our nation.


Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Property rights?

Did anybody catch Stephen Harper saying, during the debate, that he would like to see property rights in the Charter? I know Martin said he would get rid of the notwithstanding clause, and everyone thought that was really the most important thing. But property rights in the Charter? Isn't that worth a third-page mention?

Putting property rights into the Charter is a great idea. To be sure, Canada's system of law does give some de facto security with respect to property. While we have no enshrined right to property, courts in the past have given deference to individual property holders with respect to some things, and in some contexts. Very much like a budget vote being a confidence motion. It isn't written anywhere, and it isn't formal, but tradition insists that you treat votes on the budget as formal votes of confidence as well.

Including property protection in the Charter has several benefits. For one, it might embolden a lot of us to resist eminent domain by government officials. While those familiar with the law, or in a position to speak to a lawyer, are aware that there are legal options when the government comes to take your home and dog away, a significant proportion of Canadians are not aware that they can fight such a move. Since the Charter is more well-known, inserting property rights is likely to make more people aware of their legal ability to do what's right--fight eminent domain.

Just as it might embolden Joe Canada, it might demoralize the civil servants looking to build statues in honour of Trudeau on the land that is now Mrs. Patty's kitchen. They better have very good reasons for trying to take someone's property before they begin the process. As it currently stands, any reason is good enough. The restraint is by convention, not by law.

These kinds of outcomes are easily measured. We see what proportion of eminent domain cases are challenged in court before, and after insertion of property rights into the Charter. My suspicion is that the number of court trials will increase. Alternatively, you might measure (taking appropriate account of demographics and population) the number of eminent domain cases in general. I suspect that they will drop perceptibly.

Property rights in the Charter would also send a powerful symbolic message. Something like: Canada respects property, and the government had better take heed of that. Or maybe: What's yours is yours, and Ceasar doesn't just get to take whatever he'd like.

At any rate, it's a great idea. I hope it happens. And I hope Harper meant it.