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Prague ‘68

August 21st, 2008

On this, and other blogs, there’s often talk about freedom. We fight for freedom, or we want freedom or we want to maintain freedom. But what gets lost sometimes, is what we are really talking about. People in Prague, or Warsaw, or Budapest know: they lost their freedom to the Soviets (Warsaw to the Germans, then the Soviets) during the 20th century. Free nations now, they know what freedom means.

Forty years ago today, August 21, 2968, Soviet tanks rolled into Prague, Czechoslovakia to eliminate the “Prague Spring,” an early form of Glasnost introduced into Czechoslovakia when reformist Alexander Dub?ek came to power in January 1968.

Peter Worthington, who was there, has a fine piece on the invasion in today’s Sun: The Death of Prague Spring. He has far more knowledge on the subject than I do, so I will defer to his column on the subject.

Prague Spring was about freedom, real freedom for real people. The invasion in August ‘68 was about repression, about the glory of the state over the glory of the person. A real fight, for real freedom.

freedom for the individual is the only truly progressive policy

Is Deterred Speech Free?

August 7th, 2008

Ezra Levant is all over the pages of the National Post today, as the Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission rejected the Danish cartoon complaint against the Western Standard magazine. To Levant this was a freedom of speech issue, and rejected claim or no, he believes freedom of speech lost:

This censor approved what I wrote. His decision is not that I have freedom of speech. His decision is that I have his approval. I’m not interested in his approval. The only test of free speech is if I can write what he disapproves of with impunity. That’s what freedom of speech is, to piss off some second-rate bureaucrat like Pardeep Gundara and know that you have the right to do so, because you’re in Canada, not Saudi Arabia.

I’m frankly usually unimpressed with many people who think their free speech has been trampled on : The Internet is full of grieved morons who believe someone asking them to watch their language in a public chat room is speech oppression; or Australians who know their firsts amendment rights and how they apply to the internet. No, just because Ezra says his speech was limited does not mean it was.

However, the complainants representative, a director with the Edmonton Council of Muslim Communities, Yasmeen Nizam, appears to support Levant’s argument:

Obviously we didn’t want this to continue, so [another goal was] perhaps to discourage people from further maligning our prophet and our religion…. We wanted this to have a deterrent effect.

Discourage people from maligning their prophet and religion and have a deterrent effect. And how might they do that:

I never wanted someone’s freedom of speech curtailed. I always wanted to sit down, with some third party, for mediation, and have a discussion

The question is, if a you can get a government agency to sit down and “mediate” a “discussion” about somebody maligning your prophet and religion to create a deterrent effect, how are you not curtailing that person’s freedom of speech? The answer is, as Levant argues here, that’s exactly what you are doing. And he is right.

Go Ezra Go, free speech, freedom for the individual is the only truly progressive policy

So Much For That Idea

April 10th, 2008

Yesterday at work I decided to put an end to At Home in Hespeler. It was done, had run it’s course, and was clearly not a growth operation. Furthermore, blogger fatigue set in some time ago, and it has been a monumental chore to sit and type something, anything for the better part of a year if not longer. Then when I got home I checked my usual blogs (see sidebar) and what did I find?


Richard “The Boy Named Sue” Warman has finally filed his statement of claim.

Canada’s busiest litigant, serial “human rights” complainant and — the guy Mark Steyn has called “Canada’s most sensitive man” — Richard Warman is now suing his most vocal critics — including me.

The suit names:

• Ezra Levant (famous for his stirring YouTube video of his confrontation with the Canadian Human Rights tribunal after he published the “Mohammed Cartoons”)
• FreeDominion.ca (Canada’s answer to FreeRepublic.com)
• Kate McMillan of SmallDeadAnimals.com
• Jonathan Kay of the National Post daily newspaper and its in-house blog
• and me, Kathy Shaidle of FiveFeetOfFury.com

Well walking out on a day like that felt wrong and after a days thought, I’ve changed my mind. This fight is my fight too. It is a fight for free speech, it is a fight for the blogosphere in Canada. My small part is to keep talking, to accept the responsibility that comes with freedom of speech, and to add some money into the paypal accounts of the four blogs involved:

Kathy Shaidle of Five Feet Of Fury
Kate McMillan of Small Dead Animals
Free Dominion
Ezra Levant


All four have donation buttons and could use the help right now.

It should also be noted that the National Post, and it’s writer Jonathan Kay have also been named, although I’m guessing they aren’t looking for donations for a defence fund.

For more

Buy a t-shirt, support the cause.
Malkin.
We are men, free and spirited men and we will not allow even the Dominion of Canada to trample on our rights.
Red Tory.
Steynianism.
A bore and a war.
No Libs - Richard Warman’s pants.

freedom for the individual is the only truly progressive policy, human rights

The Problem With Banning Handguns.

January 16th, 2008

After yet another shooting kills yet another innocent bystander in Toronto the not in a death spiral, Mayor David Miller and Premier Dalton McGuinty have, yet again called for a handgun ban. This time, their pleas seem to have some validity as the handgun in question appears to have been legally owned by a registered handgun owner.

The problem with the above is simple: while the shooter may have had a permit to own the gun, it was still an illegal gun at the time of the shooting. How’s that? you say. In order to own a handgun, you must agree it will be in one of two places: at home, locked in a safe; at your gun club, locked in a safe. There are two exceptions to this rule: You may take it out at the gun club for target shooting; you may travel between the club and your home with the gun. In order to do the latter, you must go to the police, notify them of your intent to travel with the gun, and get a temporary travel permit, that allows you to drive with the gun in your vehicle between the two locations. That’s it. Take the car, with the gun, to a strip club at 1:00 on a Saturday morning, and the gun is illegal. It is in a non-approved location. David Miller has said one of the reasons he wants a ban is if someone has a gun on them in the streets of Toronto, they can be arrested, no questions asked. That is true either way, if someone has a gun, then they are violating any permit they have, and can be arrested. No questions asked.

Proponents of a handgun ban use such baseless arguments all the time, and they do so for a reason. There is no evidence to suggest banning handguns will have any effect on violent crime. Some States have found letting more people carry guns around results in less violent crime. Britain has found banning the handgun went along with an increase in handgun use. Neither of which proves a pro handgun causation, but they do make a mockery of anti-handgun arguments. There is no reason to ban handguns.

But, some would argue, it can’t hurt. There’s no legitimate reason to own a handgun, so what have we got to lose? To which I would ask, when the handgun ban fails to decrease violence, which item will be next on the banned list? Which hobby next to be declared pointless? Which freedoms taken away for David Miller’s political expediency? What possession of yours will the state confiscate because they have no interest in solving the problem?

Because that’s what this is about, finding red herrings to yell about, finding bucks to pass instead of facing up the the real challenges of solving the problem. And when you ask what have we got to lose, the answer is, freedom.

Toronto, freedom for the individual is the only truly progressive policy

John Tory’s Election Troubles

September 24th, 2007

I’m puttering around work with a hangover, swearing up and down that I’m off booze for good - never again - this time I mean it - when I hear John Tory is talking about a trial of selling beer and wine in corner stores. Normally, that would cause me to sit and write a nice, John Tory friendly article with a title like…

Finally a Policy Idea I Can Raise a Glass Too.

But no, today I don’t care as I’m “off booze for good - never again - this time I mean it” and it occurs to me if John Tory is having as much trouble connecting with the rest of the electorate as he is me, then he’s in real trouble.

Hangovers and a bad case of the zactly’s aside, here’s how that article cited above might have went:

Finally a Policy Idea I Can Raise a Glass Too.

Back in mid-august we were entertaining our young nephew, who lives in Ottawa. His parents were on their way down to pick him up after a few day stay at our house, and I had no beer in the house. So we were puttering around Friday night, not expecting his parents until after 11:00, and I decided to pick up some beer, in case they were thirsty after their long drive. It was 9:15 on a Friday night, and I was out of luck. Both the Hespeler beer and liquor stores were closed. 9:15 on a Friday night in the middle of the summer.

Thus was born a beer and liquor store abolitionist.

So when John Tory announced yesterday that he would look at selling beer and wine in corner stores he made me sit up and take notice.

Now granted, nothing drastic from our man Tory. Just a few trial locations, study the question: as if Quebec, Alberta and B.C., the U.S.A. and Europe are not test location enough. Really, the data exists, the idea works. But from baby steps like this comes full fledged working policy, so I’ll take what I can get.

And don’t give me any of that “minors will have an easier time getting alcohol,” argument. When I was growing up the beer and liquor stores were the one place you could get alcohol, but try and get into a privately operated bar, and no dice. The same still holds true, and it holds true for a reason. There is no repercussions, either to the unionized employee or the store itself, if somebody sells to a minor in a government run store. But a private operation has much to lose, including their licence, their employees face dismissal for transgressions. There is no reason to believe the same will not hold true at convenience stores.

And please John, tell me you also mean grocery stores: for the environments sake if no other reason. I’m forever making an extra trip instead of grabbing a bottle/few cans of Guinness at the grocery store.

All that said, John Tory is looking for a trial location for his project, I have a little village in mind that needs a place were beer can be had after 9:00 on a Friday night.

Food, John 'Red Green' Tory, John Tory, Ontario Election, freedom for the individual is the only truly progressive policy, pimply minions of bureaucracy

Just How Far Are You WIlling To Go To Please Al Gore and David Sazuki

July 20th, 2007

When it comes to global warming, there are three questions you need to ask yourself:

1. Is the global climate warming?
2. Will it be catastrophic?
3. Is it anthropomorphic (man made).

If you answered no to any or all of the above questions, then continue on with life. If, however, you answered yes, yes and well… yes, STOP! what you are doing and fix it now.

You see, those who believe, they are coming, and they will try to change everything. And equivocators, who want to straddle the fence, are emboldening them.

How else to explain such a piece as Pat Watson’s in todays Toronto Sun: Will It Be Your Money Or Your Life?

And sure we can assuage our guilt by throwing our empty plastic water bottles into the recycling bins and switching to compact fluorescent bulbs. But what we need to get into our “new” way of thinking is that trying to do the old actions with some slight new twist is not really going to turn this behemoth around. It’s not recycling bottles and plastics that will really help, but not using them at all.

Plastic — and there are myriad products made from it — is a petroleum by-product. And while it has revolutionized the consumer industry, it has put us in all kinds of peril. Take a look at the rising incidence of cancer worldwide and the relationship between that and the chemicals found in plastic products.

What is so frustrating is there is a critical mass emerging that wants change and wants to change, but the system of our lives is so tied to subsequent environmental damage that it will take more than separating our garbage into different bins to make it happen.

Critical Mass emerging? That’s you equivocators. Eliminate plastic, even though it has revolutionized, not just the consumer industry, but the world. (What is the consumer industry anyway?) But the worst is yet to come:

In this 21st century we face a real fork in the road that in truth really means we would have to completely change the way we exist on Earth.

It means not wanting or giving value to the things we used to. It means pantyhose can no longer be an option for looking well dressed. It means the use of nail polish has to end. It means no longer packaging water in plastic bottles. It means air travel as we now know it can no longer be seen as the way to go. It means when we talk about the advantages of hosting something like a grand prix race for two days we should have better reasons for allowing it and the kind of pollution that comes with it then it will bring an estimated $50 million to the city.

The main reason given for so much of why we cannot accelerate the changes to save the planet, and by extension our sorry selves, is it will be a shock to the (economic) system: Job losses, tax losses and the like.

Here’s the thing, as if it’s not too obvious: It’s the way we are making money that is killing this planet and causing an increase in preventable diseases. So what’s it going to be: Your money or your life?

See, no pantyhose, nail polish, air travel, car races (not to mention cars, which she somehow neglected, but it’s the obvious end result).

So what is it going to be people, your way of life, your ability to feed your family, or save the planet from yourself and your family?

There is no fence here. People like Pat Watson want to take away everything you have, and will succeed if we just sit around waiting for it to blow over.

Global Warming, Going... Going... Gone Nuts For The Environment, freedom for the individual is the only truly progressive policy

Caifornia Leading the Enviro-Whacko Pack

June 1st, 2007

Now that Governor Schwarzenegger has left the country, spreading easy-going, shucks it’s going to be easy environmentalism, it’s a good time to see what is meant by environmentalism in California. Seeing as BC just signed the Pacific Coast Collaborative to Protect Our Shared Climate and Oceans, it’s worth pondering what that means, and Ontario just signed an emissions deal, and everybody is following the California light bulb ban idea, what else does California have planned for us?

Throwing a few logs on the fire on a nippy evening, or boosting a home’s market appeal by advertising its wood-burning fireplace, could go the way of the coal chute and the ice box for many Southern Californians if newly proposed air quality regulations are adopted.

As part of air pollution plans designed to meet federal deadlines, South Coast Air Quality Management District officials have proposed a ban on wood-burning fireplaces in all new homes in Los Angeles, Orange and portions of Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

In addition, on winter days when pollution spikes, wood-fueled blazes in all fireplaces would be banned in highly affected areas. That could amount to about 20 days a year, district officials said.

Of course, a California winter and a Canadian winter are two different things, but can this idea be far behind? Yes folks, politicians and activists have your fire-places in their sights. Yet reducing our home energy usage is also in the plan, with natural gas prices expected to double, and dirtier energy more so.

Are you really prepared to turn down the thermostat, without the aid of a fireplace or stove, in the middle of February? Will Canadian politicians really try this one? Why not, they have told us we need to buy light bulbs that cost about 4 times more, that require recycling, and that , frankly, work lousy, yet no one raised a peep. Most people shrugged and said “makes sense to me.” Why wouldn’t they try fireplaces? And if you think because you already have a fireplace, your safe, think again:

Another measure that would require closing off wood fireplaces or installing $3,600 pollution control devices before a home could be sold had been dropped as of late Thursday, an AQMD spokesman said.

Yea - for now.

Going... Going... Gone Nuts For The Environment, Kyoto, freedom for the individual is the only truly progressive policy, pimply minions of bureaucracy, property rights

Prove Lightbulb Ban is Good for the Environment

May 28th, 2007

Today’s Sun has an article by Tom Harris and Dr. Tim Ball called Prove it! that challenges an assumption that’s become near and dear to my heart: compact fluorescent light bulbs are better for the environment than incandescent:

Prove it! That’s how we must respond whenever governments ban established products to “save the planet.” If politicians can’t validate their schemes with comprehensive and unbiased scientific studies then they should stop telling us how to live our lives.

Take the recently announced ban on incandescent light bulbs. The federal government’s “Action on Climate Change and Air Pollution” boasts the ban “will give Canadian consumers real opportunity both to save money on energy and to help clean up our environment.” Prove it!

Show us the results of comprehensive life cycle analysis that demonstrate the energy savings accrued when operating a compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) more than compensates for the increased manufacturing and mercury disposal impacts associated with CFLs. Prove to us that the loss of convenience and light quality of the incandescent is off-set by a significant net environmental benefit. Or many Canadians will conclude the move was purely political, designed to look good in the press and trump the NDP who had a private members’ bill banning incandescents in the works.

And when studying this, don’t forget to take into account the impact of driving your burnt out bulbs to the landfill. The more I read up on CFB’s (compact fluorescent bulbs), the dumber the idea of banning them looks.

Instead of handing more regulatory power to the “pimply minions of bureaucracy,” any attempt to regulate Canadians lives, whether large scale or in the minutiae like CFBs, ought to require absolute proof of it’s necessity, and that the scheme will work as advertised.

More

Global Warming, Going... Going... Gone Nuts For The Environment, freedom for the individual is the only truly progressive policy, pimply minions of bureaucracy

Don’t Ban Handguns - Ban Stupid Politicians

May 28th, 2007

David Miller is often found saying just dumb things. If he was right wing he would be eaten alive in the press, by the countries (supposed) comedians &tc. But he’s a ‘caring’ lefty, so he gets away with it.

The latest was last week, after a shooting at a Toronto High School, in which 15-year-old Jordan Manners was killed:


The incident prompted Toronto mayor David Miller to stress the need for stricter gun control. “Handguns have one purpose and that is to kill and it really reinforces what we’ve been saying for quite a while at the city… We absolutely have to get the guns off the streets. It’s going to require some changes to our laws but it has to be done.”

Agree or disagree with the sentiment at your leisure. However, it is illegal for a person under 18 to posses a firearm licence in Canada. With the various restrictions in place, that means a person under 18 cannot own a firearm, handgun or otherwise. In effect, if you are under 18 years old, handguns are banned.

Yesterday, police arrested two 17 year old youths in the murder of Jordan Manners:

Toronto police have charged a teenage boy with killing 15-year-old Jordan Manners in a North York high school and say another suspect turned himself in Sunday night.

The youths, both 17-years-old, are facing first-degree murder charges.

Investigators had obtained judicial authorization to temporarily release the name of one teenager, warning that he “should be considered armed and dangerous.”

Armed and dangerous, yet legally banned from owning a firearm in Canada. That’s what makes David Miller’s, and some other politicians, knee jerk reaction so dumb. It solves no problem, not even the principle one of getting David Miller re-elected.

freedom for the individual is the only truly progressive policy, pimply minions of bureaucracy, whack-a-mole politics

Proof: Motorcycling Leads to Confusion

May 27th, 2007

Last week I was driving south along Townline Road here in Cambridge, toward the site of the new RIM Centre, home of the Waterloo Predators (Names are based on pure speculation and is not to be taken as fact; Site location, however, is based on conjecture, and may be treated as such). This section of Townline is a two lane road, yet some guy on a motor bike travelling north was passing in the centre of the road, between cars. Which brings me to one of the funniest stories of the week:

About 40 motorcyclists from across the province held a rally at Queen’s Park yesterday calling for stiffer penalties for motorists whose actions put bikers’ lives at risk.

“Bikes have a right to share the road and we need to cut down on the carnage,” said Brian Burnett, provincial vice-chairman with Bikers Rights Organization Canada. “The province set up new laws to stop street races. We want to see changes to the Highway Traffic Act regarding the usually lax charges laid in regarding tragic collisions with bikes.”

The group took part in a Fallen Riders Memorial Awareness Ride and held a ceremony for 67 bikers killed on the road since the late 1960s.

Burnett said as many as 40 bikers can be killed on Ontario roads every year.

Because I’m responsible for clown boy passing cars in the middle of the road. Or that guy last year who was driving on a 410 exit ramp at over 200 KM/ hour.

I have always been amazed that I am not allowed to drive to the grocery store at 40KM/hour, without a seat belt, but these guys can drive 100KM/hour on the highway with, as cousin Eddie would say, “nothing between the ground and my brain but a piece of government [approved] plastic.”

With that in mind, they should be careful what they ask for. When Dalton McGuinty sees that 40 bikers a year number, he will be looking to ban bikes; that’s how he solves problems. But really, should they be asking for greater protection from drivers until they have done more about the lousy bike riders on the road. They are out there, they are a legion, and anybody who drives regularly sees them everyday in the summer. It’s not all of them, certainly not, but it’s enough.

But none of that is why the story is so amusing. It’s the last line that makes it so:

The biker group also wants the province to strike down the mandatory helmet law.

Dalton, Funny., Humour, freedom for the individual is the only truly progressive policy

Four Short Posts in One

May 16th, 2007

- There’s a new “Canadian Military Personnel” website that pays tribute to those “who gave their lives serving Canada,” called Fallen Canadians.

- A great article here by David Warren on the just how out of touch those who buy into global warming are. Meanwhile, Greenpeace builds an ark. (h/t Joanne)

- This line, about Canada’s aboriginals, caught my eye:

Canada’s native Indians are so angry about the government’s failure to improve their often-impoverished living conditions…

Governments fail to improve people living conditions, it’s a little admitted, always reliable, fact. If you want your life improved, it requires doing it yourself.

- Now this is funny, thanks to Road Hammer for finding it.

Economic Fundamentalism, Global Warming, Going... Going... Gone Nuts For The Environment, Paris, Remembrance, Vets, freedom for the individual is the only truly progressive policy

Unions for Magna Workers: Consessions For Chrysler Workers.

May 9th, 2007

Quick question. If traditionally union-bashing Magna is buying Chrysler, and negotiating with the CAW to unionize Magna’s 30,000 workers, what is the CAW giving up in return?

Frank Stronach’s recent overtures to let North America’s auto unions organize Magna International Inc. may lead to a high-stakes swap whereby the unions agree to co-operate in Magna’s potential takeover of Chrysler Group in exchange for a much-needed boost to their membership.

Mr. Stronach, Magna’s founder and controlling shareholder, began discussions several months ago with leaders from the Canadian Auto Workers and the United Auto Workers unions on a new work arrangement for Magna’s North American employees that would involve unionizing Magna’s plants. He has said the current labourmanagement model in the auto industry is broken.

Magna’s recent efforts toward reconciliation with the labour unions may be the first step in what could be a lasting partnership, should Magna take a stake in Chrysler,” Fadi Chamoun, an analyst at UBS Investment Research, said in a new research report. While Magna is looking for flexibility from the unions on work terms, the unions see the potential for adding 30,000 Magna workers to their ranks. “It is this potential that is influencing the unions to favour Magna as an acquirer of Chrysler,” Mr. Chamoun wrote. “Inevitable concessions may be exchanged with a possibility to organize Magna’s non-unionized plants.

Isn’t this collusion? Is Buzz selling out Chrysler workers to gain unionization of Magna? Sure sounds like it. At least, this would be what in the real world of governance laws and conflict of interest guidelines, very questionable. But in the world of Canadian labour law, just another day. Question, what if those Magna workers don’t want to be unionized?

Oh, and where is the NCC on this? Workers rights were once one of their signature issues.


Update: I e-mailed Gerry Nicholls about this post, and in the process made a few more points. Here’s part of what I wrote:


I can’t think of another area in life where it would be OK for a middle party like the CAW to be negotiating two different, and so conflicting deals. Magna workers look like their about to get screwed - unionization whether they want it or not - and us Chrysler workers are going to be asked to take concessions from the same guy who’s handing his workforce over to the CAW. Martha Stewart went to jail for less.


CAW, I Love My Job, Wasted Away Again in Buzzistan, freedom for the individual is the only truly progressive policy

Freedom Fries: Hold the Salt

May 9th, 2007

The next environmental war is coming to your grocery store, that’s pretty clear. In Dalton, Ban It!, McGuinty’s Ontario, Papa Government doesn’t wait long from idea to banning anything. Plastic garbage bags are on the radar, thus they are outta here.

But what of our health? It’s been a while since anyone has banned anything in the name of our health, in the name of saving health care. Fear not, we have found the new enemy of health care: salt:

Cutting the average Canadian’s salt intake in half would dramatically reduce the toll - human and economic - that hypertension or high blood pressure exacts in this country, a new study suggests.

Such a move would result in one million fewer people developing hypertension and a substantial increase in the number of people with hypertension who keep their blood pressure in check, according to the modelling study, published Tuesday in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology.

The ensuing reduction in scope of the country’s hypertension problem would save $430 million a year in direct costs

No word how much the public health system would save if they allowed Canadians to buy their own health care, but not to worry. It is governments way that when a program is failing, they make it mandatory. When it is still failing, they take away various rights and freedoms, deeming a) it’s for the peoples good and b) it’s for the programs good.

Therefore, look for the banning/regulating of salt in the very near future. Because salt is bad for you, and so, apparently, is freedom.

Food, freedom for the individual is the only truly progressive policy, pimply minions of bureaucracy