Thursday, February 23, 2006

Stoddard Online

Stoddard OnlineMake no mistake about it, this weeks budget in British Columbia is a complete sham.

Sure, there may be some goodies tucked away in the budget that will temporarily shut up the labour and construction industry, a bit of an increase in the basic home owner grant, some job creation tax credits in the construction fields, and a few basic top up's in health care and education that were taken away in the past four years. After all is said and done, with claims of a balanced budget, we still end up with an increase of over two billion dollars in the provincial debt.

The one sickening aspect of this budget is the glossing over of child care in this province. Premier Gordon Campbell and his government are totally responsible for the abandonment of the office of the Children's Commissioner. This was done a few short years ago, and in doing so, investigations of over 700 child deaths were lost in the shuffle. These investigations were supposedly turned over to the BC Coroners office for investigation, however, for some reason were shelved and never carried out. According to the premier's office the files were turned over to the coroners office to streamline the system, and to prevent duplication of procedures, when in fact, the system ground to a halt.

As a result, unqualified staff were making decisions with reference to children at risk. Children were placed in foster care without adequately investigating those with whom they were placed.

The recent conclusion of the inquest in Port Alberni of the criminal death of nineteen month old Sherry Charlie is a prime example of the results of inept decisions made as a result of the abandonment of the Child Commissioners office in British Columbia. This infant was placed in care at the home of her uncle who had a long criminal record for assaults and violence, and he himself stated at the inquest that children should never be placed in his care. In this little girl's case, the assualts and violence had gone on undetected for months leading to her death, as there were never follow up checks at the home.

Through the dedication of a doctor, Sherry's death was ruled a homocide. Her autopsy revealed that abuse to her body had gone on for some months before her death. She suffered from eleven broken ribs, some old fractures, some new ones, as well as numerous head and other body injuries.

The premier indicated about a week ago that he accepts the responsibility for these happenings. He should, as it was he and his government who saw fit to abandon the children at risk in this province by cancelling the Childrens Commissioners Office.

It is a real slap in the face to the family of this baby girl this past week when our finance minister, Carole Taylor, shows up in a new pair of six hundred dollar shoes to deliver the 2006 provincial budget. It is a further slap in the face to try and lead this family down the garden path by telling them that she is alloting over four hundred million dollars to child care in British Columbia, when in fact she is not, she is only restoring what the government stole away when they closed the office of the Child Commissioner in the first place.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Stoddard Online

Stoddard Online
A few days ago I visited a particular pharmaceutical outlet to pick up a prescription. Upon arriving at the pharmacy counter, I joined the queue to do my business with the pharmacist.

The pharmacist was engaged in conversation with a gentleman who was picking up a particular asthma preparation. The gentleman was asking the pharmacist for some specifics of asthma. The pharmacist was explaining that in most cases asthma is triggered by offending agents, either from the atmosphere, or by our own actions, such as smoking. He went on to say that smoking, not only caused much suffering from asthma, but increased the risk dramatically of dying from heart disease and lung cancer. Wow, I thought here is a health care professional who is willing to go the extra mile, and explain the evils of smoking, related to personal health care. He was definitely more thorough than the family physician.

As I was conducting my affairs with the pharmacist, I casually mentioned to him that I found his approach professional and interesting with regard to the asthma preparation customer. He went on to say, "Yes, smoking is a real killer, and if people could just see what it does to their respiratory tract and arteries, common sense would dictate that they quit in a flash."

On my way out of the store I passed the main front sales counter. The items in this department, stacked from ceiling to floor, were none other than tobacco products.

It burns my butt to hear a pharmacist describe in detail the number one killer, and from his perch, be able to see thousands of dollars each day cross his counter from sales of this very same product. This is hypocrisy at it's finest. I am not advocating that people smoke, however, if smoking is so vile, why are they selling the product? Could it I wonder, have anything to do with money?

Monday, February 20, 2006

Stoddard Online

Stoddard Online
We have to ask ourselves the question, Is the average Canadian citizen going to benefit from hosting the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver?

The bid for the games was officially made in 2002 and the games were subsequently awarded to Vancouver. In order to be selected, the bid for the games had to be reflective of that year.

Only a blundering fool would suggest that construction costs could come close to being accurately predicted eight years in advance. We were told at the time, the games would be on time and within projected budget, with no cost overruns requiring a trip to the government trough to bail out construction costs of venues.

Here we are very early into the year 2006. Guess what? The games are still four years away and already the Vancouver Organizing Committee is asking for an additional whopping one hundred and ten million dollars. Only a bigger fool would suggest that they wont be back to ask again at least once before the games begin.

The federal governments financial involvement was to have been in the original bid only, with any additional cost overruns to be supplemented by the province of British Columbia. The provincial government is now ready to cry to Ottawa to help bail it out. In other words, the very agreement that was signed originally to secure the games, is now being broken.

It does not require a whole lot of expertise to put together a bunch of numbers and call it a proposal. It does however, require a whole lot of expertise to put together a bunch of numbers and call it a proposal as a result of factoring in all the variables. Labour costs and material costs will dictate that over the course of eight years.

All one has to do is look at the results of the Montreal Olympics to understand what staggering debts are all about as a result of hosting the Olympic Games. To this day, a true and accurate figure has never been declared.

What are these games about anyway, and why is it so important to host them? Proponents would argue that it is the host country's chance to showcase it's very best, and at the same time, present the host country to the rest of the world.

Have you been entertaining the thoughts of the excitement of attending some of these competitions? If you are, start saving your money. A ticket for one hockey game can cost as much as five hundred dollars, depending on the seat. These games are totally out of reach of most ordinary Canadians. True, some of the less popular sports will cost much less, however, for a couple travelling to Vancouver to see a cross section of Olympic sports, the tickets, coupled with food, lodging, and related expenses will present a very sizable expenditure.

With the cutbacks that we have experienced in British Columbia in regards to health care and services in general, it is disgraceful that we can suddenly find the extra funding to shore up the shortfall of the Olympic construction bid at the expense of those who can afford it the least.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Stoddard Online

Stoddard Online:
Garth Turner did not just fall off the turnip truck. He has been around political circles for a very long time. Many of the fortunes of the federal Conservative party of today can be traced to the hard work of Garth Turner of the Halton riding in Ontario. Garth Turner has held high profile positions, exhibiting credence of the respect that he has garnered from peers and Canadians alike.

During the past two years in opposition, Garth Turner was a stalwart proponent of proposed legislation within the Conservative party with respect to the traitorous cross floor walking of members of parliament for personal gain. Supposedly, Mr. Turner was in concert with his Conservative caucus. Apparently not. Many of the prominent caucus members, including the new prime minister are now ready to drop him like a hot rock, simply because he dared to speak out against the David Emerson affair. Floor walking was a topic for discussion last year some say, but is no longer a concern.

When one looks at the fact that the Conservatives could only muster eighteen percent of the vote in Vancouver Kingsway, and then through some secret dealings, be able to take control of the riding, it should be a concern, and a very big one at that. My hat is off to Garth Turner. I hope that others within his ranks will display the necessary intestinal fortitude to speak out against the antics of a bunch of spineless creatures, who are willing to sacrifice the constitution of Canada, to advance their own hidden agenda.

Garth Turner, through his dedication to the electorate is prepared to be the sacrificial lamb. He is not prepared to compromise. He knows his days as a member of the Conservative caucus under Mr. Harper are numbered. As Mr. Turner stated on the weekend, he expects to be assigned a new office in some renovated washroom in the basement of the parliament buildings.

It is a long arduous journey from the bottom to the top in life. Unfortunately, through the whims and desires of others bent on personal greed, a life time of dedication and hard work can translate very quickly into a plunge from the penthouse to the outhouse.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Stoddard Online

Stoddard Online
My question of the day. What is the difference between political campaign platforms and an outdoor toilet? The quick answer is, "The outdoor toilet smells better." If you don't believe that, just ask the majority of the electorate of the Vancouver Kingsway riding in British Columbia.

You will recall that Stephen Harper and his team told us they were going to bring back credibility, and instill a strong sense of integrity with respect to the workings of government. In order to accomplish this feat it would be necessary to lead by example. In other words, be one step above the sleazy aura left on the horizon by a former regime.

The good people of Vancouver Kingsway clearly spoke on election day. Their candidate of choice would represent the Liberal party. Afterall, since 1958 the riding has been represented by anything but the Conservative party. Other than short stints by the NDP, this riding has always had a Liberal as a sitting member in the House Of Commons.

David Emerson presents a strong and valid resume' of his successes within the private sector, and as well, during his tenure during non elected positions within the framework of the government of the province of British Columbia under the present Campbell Liberal government.

True, Paul Martin recognized Mr. Emerson's potential and capabilities and encouraged him to run as a Liberal, which he did, and got elected in 2004, and was there to heed the call again for the Liberals in the 2006 election, and emerged the victor. This riding was considered a safe riding for the Liberals based on it's past status. Prior to the last election, Mr. Emerson did his share of mud slinging in the direction of Mr. Harper. His plan was to become the public enemy of the Conservatives and Mr. Harper. Two weeks subsequent to the federal election, Mr. Harper added Mr. Emerson's name of those to be sworn in, not only as a member of parliament, but as a member of the inner cabinet as Trade Minister. Canadians have been told that the Mr. Harper and the Conservatives wooed Mr. Emerson into the party, and he made the decision to walk across the floor and thumb his nose at those who had elected him as a Liberal.

Democracy is about the decisions of the majority, not satisfying the personal whims and desires of an individual. Mr. Harper and Mr. Emerson's decision does not reflect that. In my view it is reflective of nothing short of a modern day Benedict Arnold.

Mr Emerson is now upset that his kids are taking heat at school regarding his decision. I can't believe that he as a parent, would not have thought of that prior to making his move. Afterall, is it not incumbent upon those of us who are parents to set good examples for our children?

The Liberal riding association in Vancouver Kingsway are demanding Mr. Emerson repay the campaign money that he used to get elected as a Liberal. I am of the opinion they are making a fair request. I am also of the opinion that Mr. Harper should ask Mr. Emerson to step down, resign his office as member of parliament, and force a by-election in the riding. I will suggest to you that Mr. Harper will not ask Mr. Emerson to do this. He won't do this as he knows very well that his newest trade minister would very quickly become trading material himself. That unfortunately, is the consequence when a party substitutes personal agenda for democracy.

The Conservative caucus is divided on these events. A few short monts ago, more than forty Conservative members in the House voted in favor of legislation prohibiting floor walking by members. The people of Canada deserve better. This is rude. This is ugly, and it serves to thwart the very fundamentals of our constitution.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Stoddard Online

Stoddard Online
It is amazing the way that politicians learn the fine art of steaming off at the mouth without putting the brain into gear. In my view, Michael Bryant, the current Ontario Attorney General does a fine job of portraying that image with his recent revelations on handguns. He is quoted as proclaiming them as "weapons of human misery," and will do whatever it takes to ban them from Ontario. I say, Good Luck in your quest Michael!

Again, in my view, Mr. Bryant, it is time to look outside the box. You have been in Toronto for too long. The boundaries of the province of Ontario and of Canada extend far beyond the outskirts of Toronto. True, there is a problem in Toronto with crime, and true, handguns are used in a lot of Toronto crimes. The big question is, who is commiting these crimes? Look at the statistics Mr. Bryant. The largest percentage of crimes in Toronto are committed not by persons born in Canada, but by immigrants that we allow into the country. I am not against immigration, but I am against the open door policy that we adopted back in the early 90's whereby we let virtually anyone into the country. Barbara McDougall, from the Mulroney era is responsible for much of this open door policy. Many of them are merely carrying on here where they left off in their own country of birth, except they have more freedom here. As a result, your fair city of Toronto is blessed with the highest gangland style crime of anywhere in Canada.

As well, in my humble view, Mr. Bryant if you are quoted correctly earlier today, you stated that handguns should only be in the hands of the military, police, and olympic sharpshooters. Great statement Mr. Bryant, but do tell me, are people born olympic sharpshooters? I don't think they are. Did they not have to compete in many tournaments and trials to get there? Are you suggesting that all those who do not make it to the olympic level will do their training with sling shots.

It is not necessary that one have a law degree to recognize one of the chief problems. Please tell us Mr. Bryant when was the last time in Toronto that a criminal faced a maximum penalty for using a firearm in the commission of a crime? I will suggest to you that is has not happened for a long time. They serve a few months and then you turf them out to do it all over again. Why don't you throw the book at them, and as soon as they are released, put their unrepentant butts on the next plane back to where they came from. It is not fair that our taxpayers have to bear the burden of their guilt over and over.

It has also been reported that some new judges have been appointed recently by yourself in Ontario. In your province, the court system is centered around the Criminal Code Of Canada like everywhere else. Did you tell these new judges that you expect them to follow the directives as outlined in our Criminal Code for sentencing? My guess is that you did not, and if that is true, then you are showing more concern for the criminal than you are for the victim. Many might argue that this process is parallel to aiding and abetting the criminal, and if the Criminal Code is to be our directive, then to detract from that directive is nothing short of contempt of the legal process.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Stoddard Online

Stoddard Online:In the mid 1990's the Liberal government, under pressure from special interest groups decided to pass legislation which would see the registration of all non restricted firearms in Canada. It was a course of action they would not detract from in spite of heated opposition from across Canada, and as well, opposition within their own caucus ranks. The government gave us a projected figure of two million dollars to get the program up and running. This figure was based on the overall cost of the program minus the registration fees collected. Here we are now well into the year 2006. Guess what? The program is still not up and running, and that two million dollar figure has swelled to a staggering two billion dollars. Thats right folks, $2,000,000,000.00! You might ask, just how much money is that anyway? Read on.

Lets take the two billion dollars and go shopping. How about a new Mustang compact automobile, a nice little number, brand new, and classy looking. The suggested Canadian retail price on this car is approximately $25,000.00. With two billion bucks we can purchase a whopping 80,000 of these automobiles. Crunch the numbers one more time. Use the New Brunswick capital city of Fredericton as an example. The population of Fredericton is approximately 80,000, so simple arithmetic tells us that we can purchase one of these fine cars for every man, woman, and child who reside there.

An interesting aspect of this two billion dollar waste is that a large part of it comes from the millions of dollars that were squandered in the infamous sponsorship scandal, for which the Liberal government should, but will not be held accountable.

Mr. Harper is on record stating that he would scrap the gun registry. I say, he will not, in exactly the same way that the Liberals stated they would scrap the GST, but of course, never did, because the Canadian electorate has a history of short memories.

This is the time to put some pressure on your member of parliament, tell him or her that you are not prepared to put up with this, and you demand immediate change. That is providing that you took the time to register and vote in the federal election, and if you did not, then you have no right to complain, as by not casting a ballot, you voted for it.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Stoddard Online: Stoddard Online

Stoddard Online: Stoddard OnlineSaturday, February 04, 2006
Stoddard Online
I've recently had a couple of darts thrown my way in response to comments that I have made regarding Canadian content in the music industry in Canada, and broadcasting in general.

Personally, I am in full agreement with the CRTC in the setting of Canadian content requirements for broadcast outlets, however, it's application leaves much to be desired.

Foremost, radio stations are in business to make money, and indeed, there is nothing wrong with making a profit. There is however, something wrong with the picture when the profits are made as a result of curtailing access to the airwaves by new performers.

You will be hard pressed to find a Canadian recording artist who can state that he or she was able to attain success as a result of radio station exposure from Canadian stations. In nearly every instance, the artist found it necessary to go south of the border in order to achieve their goals.

If the artist is talented, and manages to enjoy success south of the border, the Canadian radio stations are now ready to swallow them up. They are now used as fillers to top up the thirty percent Canadian content law as set by the CRTC. Canadian radio stations have used this loophole for decades as a means of flying under the radar to avoid content infractions. As a result, the new artists are left holding the bag. The content requirements were originally put in place as a means of promoting new and upcoming Canadians in the arts and entertainment fields, however, the results have been adverse.

It is little wonder that the radio broadcasting industry is in trouble in Canada. Advertizing revenues are down drastically. Broadcast outlets are in the business of selling time, and when suddenly there is lots of time for sale and no advertizers, disaster reigns supreme. Repeat programming has become the norm especially after midnight. A large percentage of stations merely operate on a tape at night, again, mostly because there is a shortage of advertizing revenue. We have all heard the words on our favourite stations of a "half hour of commercial free music." Guess what, it is commercial free, only because there were no commercials to insert, but they spin doctor it to make it look like they are doing the listener a favour. This is nothing more than deceit and plain crap, and sanctioned by the CRTC.

The CRTC rules and regulations need a complete overhaul. The whole industry needs to pull up it's socks. Throughout the world, Canadian entertainers and broadcasters are admired and valued for their contributions to their respective industries. Unfortunately, this respect was gained outside our borders. Meanwhile, back home, the struggling beginner is virtually being muzzled by the red tape created by our own law makers.

Stoddard Online: Stoddard Online

Stoddard Online: Stoddard Online
We have experienced some server difficulties in the past few days, however, hopefully, those problems are being overcome. I have received e-mail from several who have been attempting to post comments on the site and encountering problems. Please bear with me, as the site should be up and running at full tilt within a very short period. Thanks to all of you who have been taking an active interest in my site. Remember, it is that healthy mix of opinion that makes an editorial page interesting. Keep the e-mail and comments coming!

Lew Stoddard