Tag Archives: Canada

If the pandemic has you down, watch: How To Be At Home

This lovely short film, How To Be At Home, by Andrea Dorfman, and provided by the National Film Board of Canada, reunites filmmaker Andrea Dorfman with poet Tanya Davis to provide timely guidance on how to get through the pandemic, and other such isolation. Highly recommended.

 

 

Quote

How would proportional representation have shaped the last Canadian election’s results?


Changing the way Canadians get to decide who forms the government federally has been a hot topic for some time. Before the last election, the government tried and failed to implement reform. There hasn’t been much talk about it recently, but it is a subject for debate that is not going to go away.

If you have an opinion about this one way or another, I recommend you review this: How would proportional representation have shaped this election’s results? | CBC/Radio-Canada.

The CBC ran the results of the last election through alternative forms of representation and analyzed the results. It is fascinating to see how representation changes, depending on the format followed. Kudos to the CBC for a superb visual representation.

I think reform is needed. I am still in favor of having a local MP and having the ability to have him or her voted out of office by the constituents of the MP’s riding. But I am also in favour of the percentage of each party’s MP aligning with the percentage of national votes that they received. Obviously I need to think about it some more.

In the meantime, take a look at what CBC has done, and decide for yourself.

(Image via Owen Farmer)

Quote

The Art of Emily Bickell (and where you can get it)

One of my favorite artists is Emily Bickell, largely for her paintings of water, which I think are sublime. You can get affordable print versions of them here:  Traces Art Print by emilybickell | Society6.

Better still, you can get affordable original versions of them here: Art Interiors.

Quote

Canadian Protesters: know your rights with this one page sheet

The Canadian Civil Liberties association has a nice one page sheet of them, here.

Quote

Reason over Passion

Still a great work, after all these years. More on it, here: 1968 – Reason over Passion by Joyce Wieland | 150 years 150 works

Quote

Are you a Canadian business wanting a primer on Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan?

Then check this out:  A quick guide for businesses navigating Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan | IT Business

Quote

The decline of youth hockey in Canada

The other day I wrote of the decline of start up tech. Today, I’m writing about the decline of youth hockey in Canada, as written about here: In Canada, the Cost of Youth Hockey Benches the Next Generation – The New York Times.

The chief reason for the decline is due to costs. If anything, the article understates the cost. The other big reason is organized hockey.  There’s much money to be made from parents wanting the best for their sons and daughters who want to play hockey: you can wring thousands of dollars from them. And wring they do. The clubs, the coaches, you name it, there is someone making a buck from hockey teams. Hockey plays are streamed from an early age, and the faster you can stream kids onto certain “elite” teams, the more you can start charging more for the privilege of them being there.

Not that the parents are pure victims. Lots of parents want their kids to make the big leagues or college teams and those parents press hard for their kid to be on the more expensive teams. It all adds up. If anything, it adds up to something more and more families can’t afford. Read the piece linked to above and you’ll get a better grasp of it.

Quote

Two pieces on the Canadian pipeline protests, with no special insight from me…

Two pieces on the Canadian pipeline protests worth reflecting on are here in The Globe and Mail and here in Macleans. Obviously there has been much more written, but these seem to capture at least some of the differences.

It’s a complicated situation, to say the least, and I have no clear insight or recommendations on how to assess it. How you assess it depends on how you see the world and Canada’s place in it.

My general thoughts are we need to strongly move away from fossil fuels and all of Canada needs to strongly move towards  strengthening indigenous people so they have more autonomy and better relations with and within Canada. Underlying that, my cynical and skeptical view is that there is money and power involved and nothing is as it seems because of this.  So I am hoping for the best and expecting the worst and in the end I believe there will be progress however tarnished.

 

Quote

How would proportional representation have shaped Canada’s recent election’s results

This is really good work done by CBC on the recent Canadian election:  How would proportional representation have shaped this election’s results? | CBC/Radio-Canada

Anyone interested in moving passed First Past the Post should read this.

Quote

Strategic Voting in Canada – some thoughts

First off, there are sites like this one that claim to help you if you want to decrease the chances of a more right wing politician winng election in a specific riding: Strategic Voting 2019 Canadian Federal Election | don’t make a statement, make a difference.

You can use the site that way. But I’d argue you can use it another way. If you want to vote non-strategically, you can look at the site to see who is likely to win and then use that to vote for the party you prefer (assuming you are considering more than one). If you are unsure whether or not to vote NDP or Green, you might choose to vote Green and boost their vote count if you are pretty certain the NDP is going to win. Likewise, if you are a right of centre voter and you think there is either a strong chance or no chance the Conservatives will win, then you may feel more strongly to vote for the Conservatives.

Of course you don’t have to do any of those things. You can vote for your preferred party. You can vote for your preferred candidate. You can cast a protest vote for a more extreme party knowing it is unlikely they won’t win but as a way to indicate your displeasure.  Vote how you think best. It is your vote, and you can use your vote to participate in the electoral process the best way you know how.

Quote

How well did the current Canadian government keep it’s promises?


Pretty well, according to this: Did Trudeau keep his 2015 election promises? Mostly, a new analysis finds | National Post. 

How did the National Post determine this?

The Trudeau government’s result is based on a platform-monitoring tool called the “Polimetre,” which is managed by Universite Laval’s Centre for Public Policy Analysis.

The same group also assessed the previous government lead by Harper and found he mostly kept his too.

I think this is encouraging. Regardless of what you think of any government, it’s important that what they promise aligns to a strong degree as to what they do. This builds trust in government and the process of how governments are elected.

Some somewhat objective thoughts on the new Trudeaumania

Lots of chatter on this recently, Justin Trudeau: Canadian Prime Minister, Free World’s Best Hope? – Rolling Stone.

It’s good that the world thinks highly of our leaders, whomever they are. Canada is a significant nation in the world with the ability to influence other nations, and having a leader that is looked up to makes a positive difference.

As a Canadian citizen, I’m more interested in the substance than the PR. And I’m more interested in what the government is doing, not just the Prime Minister. I try to look at the government’s policies, competency in executing on those policies (either through legislation or direction to federal agencies), and how the government supports democracy (through actions to make our country more democratic) or hinders it (by making the country less democratic or by being corrupt).

That means I spend less and less time reading pieces like this, which are along the lines of “if you people were as smart as me you’d realize how bad Trudeau is” . Instead, I look to sites like this which track the government’s progress. For example, this site, TrudeauMeter, has ongoing ratings of the government. Other commentators, like John Ibbitson, provide periodic ratings: Video: Opinion: John Ibbitson rates the Trudeau government as Ottawa wraps up for the summer – The Globe and Mail. Finding sources of information you find comprehensive and objective are always your best bet.

If you don’t support the Liberal government’s policies, then I can see why you would not want the government in place.  Likewise there will be times when you do support the government’s policies but you feel the level of corruption or incompetence is so high you want to turn to a different group. If you are going to rate the Prime Minister and his government, those are good criteria to evaluate them on, not PR like the Rolling Stone magazine, or any other specific good or bad focus pieces on them. The government works for you, and if you are a good boss, you evaluate them mainly on the entirety of their efforts, not just things here and there.

Some other thoughts on Trudeau:

From what I can see so far, his government is starting off unsurprisingly: being successful over things the government has control over (like spending) and having less success over things that requires working with other groups. I suspect they will make no progress on electoral reform unless there is a major push from Canadians. Likewise, there are so many issues and problems with regards to Aboriginal peoples that any progress there will be modest, at best. I wish neither of them were true, but I am not optimistic on those fronts.

I suspect that as long as the economy is doing fine, the government does not appear corrupt or incompetent, and people aren’t tired of his government, then Trudeau and his team will be in power for some time to come. The first one, the economy, will be the one that is most likely to hit him. Corruption takes time to seep in (although major scandals can occur at any time and make the government appear corrupt), and government fatigue takes longer still. Whatever you thought of Chretien or Harper, that was true for them and I suspect it will be true for Trudeau as well.

I will continue to ignore articles that underestimate Trudeau (like the one above). He’s flashy and sometimes appears smarmy, but he’s smart, he has a good team, and politics is in his DNA.  If you oppose Trudeau, underestimating him only works to his advantage and not yours. In addition,  he is as much his mom’s son as his Dad’s. The combination makes him much more effective than his Dad could ever be. His Dad may have had a higher IQ than him, but he has a higher EQ than his Dad ever had and that will make him more challenging to defeat than people who approach politics intellectually realize.

Likewise, I will continue to ignore articles that compare Trudeau to Trump. There is little if anything to be gained by them. Trump is an anomaly. Almost any leader looks good in comparison to the 45th President of the United States.

I like Trudeau for alot of reasons.  That said, it doesn’t matter if I like him or not, anymore than it matters that you dislike him or not. What matters is his ability to do the job. He’s not an entertainer: he’s an elected official. When the next election comes, it won’t matter how good or bad Trudeau’s PR is. What matters is that in comparison to other politicians looking to lead the country, is the government he proposes to lead the best one for the job based on the criteria I have.  That’s the only thing that matters.

 

 

 

 

The CRTC upholds net neutrality in Canada

It may not seem obvious, but preventing ISPs from providing zero-rating is actually support for Net Neutrality.

I generally see Net Neutrality as a good thing, though the ISPs have something of a case here. That said, Net Neutrality is a good thing to stick with, especially because what the ISPs give they can also take away.

More on the CRTC ruling here: CRTC ruling against zero-rating a boon for businesses, experts say (via IT Business)

The legendary runner Ed Whitlock Dies at 86 

Ed Whitlock running
The legendary Canadian runner Ed Whitlock has died. (Source: Masters Marathon Legend Ed Whitlock Dies at 86 | Runner’s World). There are so many things to say about Ed, but the article in Runner’s World gives you a sense of just how amazing he was. From his simple running routine to the records he broke, he was a great and unique individual. R.I.P., Ed.

(Photo: linked to in article, by K.C. Armstrong)

Blackberry has a new Android phone coming

And I think it could be successful. First off, it looks good, and it has the famous BlackBerry keyboard. Plus it will work with BlackBerry Enterprise Servers. For some users, this is the best of both worlds. For BlackBerry fans who also want to tap into the benefits of Android devices, this could be for you. More details, here:  BlackBerry Priv — the Android phone formerly known as Venice — is on the way | IT Business.

What and where are the most delicious cheap eats in Canada? Buzzfeed has a list

I’ve eaten much of the food on this Buzzfeed list, more than I should admit. All  the ones I have eaten were delicious. That’s my way of saying that if you get a chance to eat any of the 23 Most Delicious Cheap Eats In Canada, then you should. 🙂

(Image via their article)

On class, Tim Hortons, and Starbucks


While there is alot being written about the Tim Hortons/Burger King merger from the point of view of taxes and finances, this piece in the blog Worthwhile Canadian Initiative touches on something else: class

Can’t we at least get a decent class analysis of this question? There are two sorts of people: Starbucks people; and Tim Hortons people. And this class distinction is far more important than anything based on superficial differences like income and occupation. As a Tim Hortons person, who feels deeply ill-at-ease in a Starbucks, and who does not understand the menu, I cannot stop myself asking the “barista”(?) the subversive question: “Can I have a small double-double please?”

In my experience with going there, Tim Hortons is an establishment that seems to be staffed sith and patronized by working class people. As opposed to Starbucks, which seems to be staffed and patronized by middle class people. This is not to say that one class is better than another, but there appears to be this class distinction that differentiates them. The blog post linked to above talks about cultural or educated classes, but I think there is a case to be made that this also has to do with economic classes as well as a rural / urban / suburban divide.

Economically, the lowest coffee advertised by Tim Hortons is closer to one dollar (in Canada). In Starbucks, the lowest coffee advertised is closer to two dollars. While that may seem like much to some, for working class people, it makes a big difference. (Never mind that alot of the coffee bought in Starbucks is over three dollars once you start getting it from the espresso bar versus from the coffee carafe.) Likewise, a coffee and a donut costs less than three dollars in Tim Hortons, while a coffee and a snack at Starbucks is closer in the range of four to five dollars. (Based on the many coffee / snack combos I have bought at both.)

In terms of rural / urban divide, Tim Hortons has been over time making a move into the downtown core (at least in Toronto), while Starbucks has been slowly expanding outwards (e.g., Sydney, Nova Scotia recently got a Starbucks).

Those of you who say you have good taste may say: yes, but Starbucks is better. (And there will be others that say both are terrible and only indie coffee shops have good coffee.) I believe it is better too, though I don’t think Tim Hortons’s coffee is bad. (I have drunk bad coffee, and Tim Hortons is not bad.) I think for Tim Hortons customers, coffee is a hot beverage with caffeine that is good to drink while driving and at work.  Having it cost less makes a difference. Tim Hortons advertises that their coffee is fresh: that is the quality it has. Starbucks will talk of their coffee in terms of where it comes from and with terms you often hear wine experts talk about: those are the qualities it has.  Your values will determine where you buy your coffee from.

By the way, one of the stereotypes was that only middle class people (and pretentious ones at that) drank lattes. Now Tim’s has machines that make lattes and a wide range of milk based coffees too. They may not be as good as those in other places, but they are not bad and they have two other qualities: they are fast and they are lower in cost. Those two qualities are valued by working class people. And working class people like to try things too: they are no different from people with more money and more education who live downtown in the city.

Coffee is about class. It’s about the different classes we have in our society that center around money, education, where you work and where you live. Starbucks and Tim Hortons are based upon that as well, though as each attempts to grow more, they are expanding from their class base. As someone who comes from a rural working class background but lives an urban middle class background, I am comfortable in and recognize the value in both.

In Canada, we don’t talk about class much, but it is everywhere. Including the coffee shops we patronize.

Getting a new iPhone? Maybe you should want to get a new plan too. Read this

This June 2013 article (What’s the best, cheapest Canadian cellphone plan out there? | Globalnews.ca.) has a good rundown of the various cellphone service providers and their lowest cost plan and everything that you get with that. Even if you don’t want the cheapest plan, knowing that can help you negotiate the plan you really need. Highly recommended.

Get the new iPhone (if they have it) and save money on your plans. Good deal.

The 2009 Giller Prize Longlist is worth a look

The Giller Prize short list was announced this week. Among other things, the chattering classes were talking about Margaret Atwood being left off said list. Whatever.

What is noteworthy is that on the Giller Prize web site is also the long list. I think this is good, because anything on such a long list (be it for the Giller Prize or the Booker Prize or any other major prize) would be worth paying attention to. I wish more organizations would share their long list. For if you don’t like those works on the short list, there is likely something on the long list that makes you think: that is something I want to read. Something like Atwood’s new book, for instance.

For great Canadian literature, check out The Giller Prize web site.