Review


As a public servant I have taken to paying far more attention to what is going on in government, which is likely a good thing. Most recently, with the submission of Bill C-38 to parliament, my colleagues and I, as well as much of Canada, are feeling the effects of this rapidly passing new act. I have no better way to describe this latest act than as daunting. Well over 50 pieces of legislation are being “tweaked” in this over 450 page mega document.

I’ve decided to compile a list of observations I have made and encourage Canadians who are unfamiliar with what is going on to do some research:

1. The act is enormous and broad – CON
I see it as somewhat unsettling that the government has bundled so many changes into one document with the expectation that fellow members of parliament are going to be able to fully wrap their head around it and feel comfortable with what they are approving or denying. I realize this is all part of the majority rule advantage but I strongly believe that it should have been divided into a few different bills grouping together similar legislation so that the changes could be debated more closely and thoroughly.

2. The timeline for approval is very condensed – CON
Taking into consideration the previously mentioned point about how large and broad this act is, the fact that the timelines for approval are so condensed is also alarming. Had the act been divided into sections these timelines would seem more reasonable, but it isn’t divided, and the speed at which this document is passing through readings is a little insane. This naturally makes me question how  well it is being reviewed and how fair the whole process is being run.

3. Stricter regulations for obtaining EI – PRO
How can this not be good? I think encouraging people to look for work and providing them with more resources to do so is fantastic. In the same breath, I also think that making the criteria for obtaining EI more specific is equally great in efforts to discourage the abuse of the system. I know EI is needed for many and I have no problem with helping out those who need the temporary help, but I absolutely do not like that it is being used as a regular source of income for many who can’t seem to understand the concept of working consistent jobs to sustain themselves.

4. Environmental well being is being overshadowed by the economic well being – PRO/CON
The amendments being presented in regards to environmental protection and assessments within regulatory processes are quite significant. The changes suggest that the processes are going to be accelerated and the requirements in this realm less stringent. I see this as both good and bad, as fast tracking certain economically beneficial projects can be very good for our nation, but at the expense of the environment? Will these decisions being made sound as good 5 years from now? Will the changes being made in regards to the environment be as detrimental as people are anticipating?

5. Independent regulatory departments are losing independence – CON
It appears as though more, “overriding” type authorities are being given to ministers, executives, etc. in these formerly quite independent departments. Essentially, depending on the government and individuals, higher ups could make their own decisions if they so choose to, despite the fact that it would go against the current system and be undemocratic of them to do so. Ex: an NDP government could kibosh proposed energy projects in the name of the environment or something of the sort, where as Conservative government could accelerate and over-approve them all in the name of the economy.

6. The name of the act is misleading – CON
For the Conservative government looking to get this act to pass quickly it could be very beneficial that they disguised the contents of the act by calling it “Budget Implementation”  but it distracts many Canadians from looking further into what it actually encompasses.

7. The “Budget Implementation Act” is being reviewed by the finance committee – CON
Contrary to the title of the act, there are way more items within it than those that are budget related. I have a hard time imagining what kind of expertise the finance committee is going to have when it comes to pipeline projects, environment and other non-finance related business.

8. Elimination of the role of Inspector General (CSIS) – CON
Considering this position deals with highly sensitive information and national security I don’t think it should be bundled into such a large bill and overlooked because it needs more focus and discussion than is being allotted to it. Not having the extra “check and balance” of the IG potentially means less privacy for the public and more room for error. I believe CSIS is an important agency and this position’s elimination could cause detriment.

9. OAS age of eligibility from 65 to 67 – PRO
I, contrary to many, believe this is a good thing and don’t quite understand the outrage around it. Statistics show clearly that people are living longer, which for government means paying out OAS for a longer period of time which makes it all the more expensive for them. Additionally, if people are living longer they are likely healthier implying they may be able to work longer as well. I am not sure how significantly the small increase by 2 years affects people and it isn’t a new concept as countries all over Europe increased their retirement ages to 67 years ago.

10. Increase in decision appeals – CON
Due to powers being shifted, “strict” decision timelines for projects (ex: applications submitted to the NEB) being implemented, and environmental assessment amendments there is a lot of room for companies and individuals to move to appeal them. Increasing appeals will tire resources and potentially put significant strain on our system.

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I realize it has been a few days since the results were announced and most of the excitement has somewhat simmered in respect to the Alberta Election that just occurred however I think it was one I should at least briefly touch on — blog worthy if you will. I don’t want to get to in depth or go all political here, rather share some observations I noted.

Firstly, one of my favourite things about this election is, not only did my party win, but the poll analysts had no idea the results were going to pan out the way they did. I realize analyzing polling statistics and voter sentiments leading up to the big day is a pretty normal thing and clearly some make a living off of it but I kind of like the idea that some things, even the most analyzed of things, can be unpredictable. However, considering I went into the election phase without really knowing who I wanted to vote for (between PC and Wildrose of course), it doesn’t completely surprise me that analysts couldn’t pin point where the votes were going go.

I was curious about Wildrose, being a newer party and still following conservative values, there seemed to be some relevant reasons I might want to vote for them. Although I am a humanitarian at heart and I love the idea of social programs, I don’t believe in the models that NDP or Liberal parties bring to the table. I believe in paternalistic (“social”) conservatism if you will. Regardless, the first bit of research I conducted was to figure out what the Wildrose was all about.

Right off the bat a few things I didn’t enjoy were the website, the large focus on the “Redford Files” hate campaign and the lack of interesting “campaign promises”. I realize they can’t please everyone, and they have a long list of people to try and appeal to but I felt as though she was really aiming at helping the typical married with children family models which is fine and dandy but what about single people like me? Unmarried couples? Seniors? Middle aged couples with grown children? At what expense are the tax benefits for the families going to come from?

Additionally, I also didn’t enjoy the $300 Danielle Dollars idea either. Why would you just hand out free money again? Put it towards programs, infrastructure? Anything more useful? I don’t know about you but I likely wouldn’t think too responsibly when it came to spending a “free” $300 cheque anyway, and I am sure others are the same. It would be more productive to have the government to keep it and perhaps not halt projects instead?

I wasn’t a big Allison Redford fan going into this, heck I didn’t even vote for her in the PC leadership race, but as someone who follows the party she leads I owed it to myself to look past her — something a few men hopefully did in regards to Danielle Smith and her attractiveness. Believe it or not, I had several male voters telling me they were voting Wildrose due simply to the fact that Danielle Smith was attractive, sad but true story. It didn’t take long for Danielle Smith, along with her party to become unappealing to me. Did  anyone notice how evasive she was during the entire leadership debate? Did anyone count how many times she said “fear mongering”? All of this and I haven’t even gotten to mentioning the religious fundamentalist views from a Wildrose candidate that came out later, the Human Rights Commission controversy, the global warming denial, etc.

Working the election this year was also made the experience different and somewhat nerve racking as the poll I happened to be working at had an incumbent Liberal MLA with a large senior population of voters who came in droves still apparently interested in having him represent them. Once we started counting the poll Liberals were taking the lead but only because there was a clear even divide between PC/Wildrose votes, keeping the Liberals ahead. Had the Conservatives all still been one party they would have taken the constituency as their PC/Wildrose numbers added together surpassed the number of Liberal votes. By the end of the night the constituency remained Liberal which had me somewhat alarmed when I couldn’t see the bigger picture of results until I got home after midnight. I was afraid the same divide was happening around the province and the idea of a Liberal government was worse than a Wildrose one. Needless to say, whether or not it was “strategic votes” from Liberals who were afraid to get a Wildrose government in the end, or whatever else people chalk it up to, I am glad to see the PCs take office once again.

Recently, to the dismay of many Canadians, we had another federal election. Due to the lack of majority government over the last decade we have had trouble getting anything done and have had to frequent the polls a tad too often.

I had high hopes for this election, mainly because I was yearning for a government that could get shit done and a cessation to the overly frequent elections. The election couldn’t have turned out much better than it did, I was really impressed with our voting population up here in Canada. For those of you who have not followed, the Conservative government won a majority, the Liberal party lost upwards of 40 seats down to 33 only, the NDP for the first time ever became the official opposition party, the Bloc Quebecois lost party status along with a whole bunch of seats and the Green party gained their first seat ever!

I would argue the results of this past election as monumental. It is evident to see that Canadians voted strategically and it was great to see the rise of federalism with the fall of the Bloc. I am glad we finally have a majority that will hopefully get a move on but have a significant enough left wing influence to balance them out a little.

With the results of our municipal election last fall as equally monumental due to a significant increase in the youth vote, and now these results, I have hope for the democratic process once again! One thing I did not enjoy about this federal election process though is the fact that people were so desperate to vote against certain parties, rather than specific candidates, that they didn’t pay much mind to the individuals they were giving seats in parliament. There are some questionable newly elected NDP representatives some of whom include a 19 year old first year university student who has never been able to vote before this election, a party hearty young bar manager in a French riding who doesn’t speak French and many other inexperienced students and new comers. Although these individuals will likely bring fresh ideas the NDP has a lot of work ahead of them if they intend on keeping the large number of seats they gained this time around.

I was in the mood to watch some informative television tonight, probably due to a  full day at the museum setting a standard for mental stimulation today, however I didn’t find exactly what I was looking for. Often channel surfing leaves me unsatisfied and today it again left me to search the internet for something more stimulating to watch. I decided to check out the CBC’s documentary bank and came upon the one I have linked below.

You hear a lot about the big bad recession we just experienced but when it comes down to it the way people have been affected by it I believe is quite varying. What struck a chord with me when I started to watch this video was the fact that my father, like the men in the video, experienced job loss after 20+ years in his industry. He was fortunate enough to get a settlement good enough to live off of a while but, although he didn’t say it, I knew the idea of having to find a new job was frightening for him. In his mid 40s when this happened, my dad had outdated technical education from the 80s pertaining to his field of work, which is graphic design, printing process, etc.  Despite the fact that he had more than enough work experience looking for work proved challenging. As he was not as familiar with the new technologies companies were using, or even the way anyone else in the industry was doing things, my dad found himself re-enrolling in a program he took years ago to familiarize himself with the industry he thought he had known so well. Once he was finished his updating finding work took him back to fairly entry level positions in comparison to what he had been so accustomed to.

Although my father doesn’t relate to the portions of the film that talk about broken marriages or families due to the job loss, I still feel what must have been going through his head. It’s scary to think that you could be excellent at what you do, in a routine you have come to know very well over a good portion of your life and with almost a drop of a hat it’s all gone and you have to completely reshape your life. I give my dad kudos for being proactive in the situation but I also empathize with what he was likely feeling, and how lost he seemed during the first while after the lay off.

Sadly, I don’t think there is a way to properly link this video but I do encourage you to watch.

http://www.cbc.ca/documentaries/doczone/video.html?ID=1779209948

I finished my first book to be reviewed, or so I wanted to review, Francis Bacon’s Of Empire. As soon as I got into the first chapter I realized reviewing it would be a problem, the small book was full of so many things to think about and so many interesting bits I don’t know where to start or how to go about critiquing it. I suppose this should be expected from a classic philosopher so in lieu of a conventional “review” I have chose to share some of the most thought provoking quotations I found during my read.

One of the things I really did like about the way the book was written are its well organized chapters that are actually different topics that included and were not limited to envy, travel, marriage and ambition. I didn’t quite understand how gardens made there way in as an important topic to cover however the fact that he had such a strong idea of how gardens should be and how they can portray an individual was rather interesting.

Now for some of the great quotes, enjoy and please share any thoughts you have!

Of Marriage and Single Life
“Certainly the best works, and of greatest merit for the public, have proceeded from the unmarried or childless men, which both in affection and means have married and endowed the public. Yet it were the great reason that those that have children should have greatest care of future times, unto which they know they must transmit their dearest pledges.”

Of Envy
“A man that is busy and inquisitive is commonly envious.”

“No one is inquisitive without being malevolent as well.”

Of Love
“…it is impossible to love and to be wise.”

“There is in man’s nature a secret inclination and motion towards love of others, which, if it be not spent upon some one or a few, doth naturally spread itself towards many, and maketh men become humane and charitable…”

Of Innovations
“time is the greatest innovator”

Of Suspicion
“There is nothing makes a man suspect much, more than to know little; and therefore men should remedy suspicion by procuring to know more, and not to keep their suspicions in smother.”

Of Discourse
“Discretion of speech is more that eloquence, and to speak agreeably to him with whom we deal is more than to speak in good words or in good order.”

Of Studies
“Read not to contradict and confute; nor to believe and take for granted; nor to find talk and discourse; but to weigh and consider.”

I basically spent my entire weekend at the Chinook movie theater, however I quite enjoyed my time t here despite the fact that the place was a flipping zoo. Firstly, having free passes for both movies is always a treat and makes it an inexpensive way to spend your time (and allows for more beer money). Secondly, both movies were actually two movies I had been looking forward to seeing for quite a while. I am often one of those complainer types that bitches about Hollywood movies’ regurgitated story lines and all around pointless message but I think my weekend choices were somewhat of an exception as FUBAR is by no means “main stream Hollywood” and The Social Network took an interesting more in depth look into our generations biggest craze, social networking.

In a sense, The Social Network was everything we have expected of it, the story of the creation of Facebook and the drama that followed after its success. The difference between this type of ”predictable” story line and the others in fluffy romantic comedies or something of that sort is that they laid the story out quite well and it is far more complicated than the ”previews” make it out to be. Not only was it interesting to see the development of something as familiar  yet almost mysterious to most of us as Facebook is, but it was also rather comical. There is something about a dry sarcastic sense of humour and people who actually tell the honest truth that I love, forgive me if you don’t think its cool, and it is kind of neat to see how Mark Zuckerberg’s dry, sarcastic and brutally honest personality was almost the most crucial element in the success of Facebook. In addition, there were so many realatable university experiences and other elements that made me thoroughly enjoy the movie! Justin Timberlake being lame or not, surprisingly good flick!

As for FUBAR, being a movie people talked about way back in junior high as a big joke movie and cult classic in Canada, no one I don’t think ever actually imagined there would be a sequel. In all honesty it took me a few watches to find the first movie entertaining but heck its good for a laugh or three! I was really pumped for this new movie after years of FUBAR references and drinking Pilsner with my friends, so come time for yesterday I busted out my good plaid and wife beater to watch in style. The atmosphere in the theater was great, people were all so pumped to be there and cheering the whole time (probably helps that Terry and Deaner are Calgarians) and it was pretty fun just to be there. It is kind of funny to me that the movie has become so popular but either way it was cool. The sequel wasn’t as good as the first in my opinion as the first was the one to get all the OMG shocking reactions from people it was already expected in this one and was actually toned down. For anyone who was a FUBAR fan, you must see it, but it wasn’t the best ever.

Something dawned on me last night — I have not read nearly enough since I have finished school. At first it was a nice break from the endless readings, I thought watching documentaries would be a nice change so in one weekend I watched all of the available documentaries on Shaw on Demand plus a few randoms I found online. Watching the documentaries however only made me want to read more about to the topics discussed. Apparently my mind is never quite satisfied, and thus I went to the book store today and picked out some selections I thought might be interesting to read. Further to that, I thought it might be an idea to start reviewing — more so reflecting on — what I read for all the e-world to read. Hopefully these new finds will suffice and occupy my mind just enough.

Be looking for my upcoming “reviews” on the classic Sun Tzu’s The Art of War and Francis Bacon’s Of Empire and a recent New York Times Bestseller Daniel Dennett’s Breaking the Spell.

Why did I choose these specific books? Well, throughout university I always had profs reference Sun Tzu but I never actually read his entire piece, so what better time. In first year history I read Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis, which I enjoyed, so I figured why not read something else by him and Breaking the Spell addresses religion as a phenomenon which just sounds interesting to me.

Read not to contradict and confute; nor to believe and take for granted; nor to find talk and discourse; but to weigh and consider.

More sweet tunes:
Brand New –  Gasoline
Guillemots – Sea Out
The Arkells – No Champagne Socialist
Bullet for my Valentine – Bittersweet Memories
Bayside – Don’t Call me Peanut