Archive for May, 2011

What he said

Les MacPherson in a column I wanted to write:

If ever there was a perfect issue for a referendum, it is curbside recycling. So, of course, we’re not getting a referendum.

By a margin of 7 to 4, city council has decreed that we, the people of Saskatoon, shall not get a vote on curbside recycling. We cannot be trusted to make the correct decision. We will do as we are told, henceforth and forevermore, every time we take out the garbage.

Read the whole thing. Nothing sums up my position on the whole ridiculous mandatory curbside recycling debate better.

Not bringing the issue to a referendum is a slap in the face to those who believed that city council ever cared what they thought in the first place. Actually, scratch that — the slappers in this case are the seven councillors who voted against the referendum motion: Pat Lorje, Charlie Clark, Darren Hill, Tiffany Paulsen, Glen Penner, Mairen Lowen, and Bev Dubois.

These seven are saying to us that we can’t be trusted to decide whether a major, multi-million-dollar program, which could last in perpetuity given past experience with useless programs, should go ahead.

Glen Penner tells us that he’s worried that if we hold a referendum over this issue, people will want to vote on every issue that comes up.Is that such a bad thing? Could we not have a referendum vote for, say, the new art gallery (a project I do support)? Or to raise money to get the north bridge built? Isn’t that how democracy is supposed to work? We don’t have to vote on everything; just on those new programs, major capital expenses, and tax increases beyond, say 5% or the rate of inflation, whichever is more.

Pat Lorje is concerned that Saskatoon is the only mid-sized city in North America without a program. If that is too much for her to bear, I have two suggestions. She could move to Edmonton. If that doesn’t suit her, she could always try therapy. I am not obliged to console her embarassment.

Darren Hill, who during the last municipal campaign (and before he was trounced by Brad Trost in the federal election) told Sutherland residents to dump their garbage on the curb for others to scrounge through, says that we are only diverting 23% of the waste in this city. I’m not sure if he means 23% of recycled waste or total waste or what, but I am sure that this number does not include the recyclable product picked up by Saskatoon Curbside. I got news for you, Hill: just because the government isn’t doing it doesn’t mean it ain’t getting done.

Now, I’m all for meaningless gestures. I recycle. The Better Third makes me. I don’t mind too much, because my system is pretty simple. Every couple months, we pack up the old newspapers and boxes and drop them off at the Cosmo depot. Then we take whatever cans and bottles we have over to SARCAN and collect our five bucks or whatever we  get. There’s no extra dumpster on my tiny lot. There’s no running around in the morning of my scheduled pickup day in my good work clothes trying to haul out multiple blue bins. It’s just a quick errand we run on our way to Walmart or wherever we’re going that Saturday afternoon. I don’t need curbside recycling, I don’t want curbside recycling, and I sure as hell don’t want to pay for curbside recycling.

But it all comes down to those seven councillors. As Kathy Shaidle likes to say, these people aren’t smart enough to tell me how to live. This goes doubly for these seven geniuses who obviously have too much time and too little regard for other people’s money.

My call to action, then, is this. Vote the bums out. Make the next municipal election a referendum on the recycling issue anyway. Become a one-issue voter. Tell them you don’t need a new, expensive program of dubious environmental merit. Tell them that if you want to recycle, you want a choice as to how and by whom. Tell them that your voice actually does matter, that you can make an informed choice on your behalf.

But most of all, tell them to start preparing their resumes, because they are going to have to start working for a living once again.

Vote them out.

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Election Selection Disconnection

From today’s StarPhoenix:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s decision to appoint to the Senate three failed Conservative candidates – including two senators who quit to run in the election – is reaping growing calls to abolish the upper house since, critics say, it now appears the Tories can’t be trusted to reform the chamber.

[…]

Jason Kenney, who remains immigration minister after last week’s cabinet shuffle, reaffirmed the government’s commitment to reform the Senate Sunday.

Kenney responded to criticism, notably by some provincial premiers, of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s decision to appoint three losing candidates in the May 2 election to the upper chamber of Parliament.

Speaking on CTV’s Question Period, Kenney said: “(The provinces) can fix this by bringing in provincial elections for senators.”

Kenney held up the example of the 2007 appointment of Bert Brown to the Senate. Brown was the second person appointed to the upper chamber in Canadian history after winning provincial senate elections. He won the election, sponsored by the government of Alberta, in 2004 by more than 300,000 votes. deals with election of senators – before the end of its mandate in 4 1 &2 years.

Uppal lashed out at Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall and Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter who, earlier this week, condemned the appointments. Uppal said he was “equally disappointed” that the premiers hadn’t consulted with voters to fill potential Senate vacancies in their provinces.

Wall, in particular, was very critical of Harper, saying the prime minister had taken “away momentum for change” at the provincial level and set back the cause of Senate reform.

“It will probably increase calls that we hear from time to time just saying, ‘Do we really need this institution?’ ” the Saskatchewan premier added.

Uppal warned that if provinces didn’t set up Senate elections, and pay for them without Ottawa’s help, the Harper government would keep appointing more senators.

“Provinces that do not take us up on our offer, we will fill those Senate vacancies in those provinces with individuals who support our Senate reform goals,” he said.

Wall’s nosing in on federal issues in recent months is perplexing. He has nothing really to gain from, first, supporting a potential Harper minority government during the election and, second, taking the lead in criticizing the prime minister’s Senate appointments. No one asked him for his opinion on the former, and if he felt so strongly about the latter, he should have pledged to hold an election for senators-in-waiting in November’s provincial election.

There is no need for the federal government to fund these elections. As the Tiger points out, the precedent has been set in the United States. Once you start appointing elected senators, such as Bert Brown, it begins to de-legitimize those who got to the Red Chamber based on connections or political expediency. It can happen.

I like Wall, but I’m afraid he has a bit of tendency to open his mouth without invitation, and this might get him into trouble some day.

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Civic leaders are elected to make decisions, except when they aren’t

Sean Shaw, our earnest city councillor-in-waiting, writes to the StarPhoenix today about how politicians are elected to lead, damn it, and it’s about damn time they vote on the recycling issue already:

City councillors are elected to make decisions on our behalf. When those decisions are particularly important to the direction of our city, there are mechanisms at council’s disposal to engage, consult and gain feedback from residents. On the issue of recycling, council over the past five years has received numerous studies and reports, engaged residents through several community consultations, and had countless debates both in public and behind closed doors. It is the role of city councillors to sift through the mountain of paper, consider the range of opinions gathered from the public, and consider the interest of their wards and the city as a whole. Ultimately, it’s their responsibility to demonstrate leadership by making the tough decisions. While there are occasions to ask the public to cast the deciding vote on an issue, recycling is not one of them. This is what councillors are elected to do. It’s time to make a decision. It’s time for some leadership.

Sean Shaw

Saskatoon

Sean Shaw, December 2010:

For the most part, I’ve attempted to steer away from specific issues on this blog, tending instead to focus on broad issues and my vision of Saskatoon in the future.

However, I will kick myself if I don’t highlight a topic I am very passionate about – public participation in our civic government. [emphasis mine–ed.]

We should be striving for a city were [sic] citizens are aware, informed, and engaged in how our city is run and the process by which decisions are made on our behalf by elected and unelected officials. I’ve previously touched on the subject of public engagement and the need to involve Saskatoon residents in the decision making process. However, without a commitment by our civic government to increased transparency and accountability in the day-to-day operation of our city, engaging residents isn’t worth our time or money.

How about this, Shaw? To decide this whole bullshit recycling issue once and for all, how about having the public “shift through the mountain of paper, consider the range of opinions gathered from the public, and consider the interest of their wards and the city as a whole”?

You know, let the public participate. This debate’s been raging for a few years now. Let them decide for themselves. Allow access to all this data to anyone and everyone who wants it. If they want mandatory curbside recycling, purportedly at $4 or $5 per month [cough-bullshit!-cough], they will vote for it.

Because you can’t have it both ways. You can’t just call for public participation and then deny their voice when it doesn’t convenience your agenda.

Let’s have a referendum, and maybe after all that, whatever the outcome, Shaw will finally shut up about it.

But don’t count on it.

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The Cleveland Show

Grover Cleveland:

The verdict of our voters which condemned the injustice of maintaining protection for protection’s sake enjoins upon the people’s servants the duty of exposing and destroying the brood of kindred evils which are the unwholesome progeny of paternalism. This is the bane of republican institutions and the constant peril of our government by the people. It degrades to the purposes of wily craft the plan of rule our fathers established and bequeathed to us as an object of our love and veneration. It perverts the patriotic sentiments of our countrymen and tempts them to pitiful calculation of the sordid gain to be derived from their Government’s maintenance. It undermines the self-reliance of our people and substitutes in its place dependence upon governmental favoritism.

Were this man a candidate today.

h/t … I’m not sure.

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Round 1

I broke a hundred for the first time during my last round of last season. It was a big psychological barrier of mine since I began playing golf on a semi-regular basis five years ago. I had been flirting with that score for a couple of years, once in a while breaking 50 over nine holes but never being consistent enough to follow up on the back nine. Until that last round last year.

This year, my goal is to average a hundred. My first outing, featuring my new set of Taylormade irons, which include a three and four hybrid, occurred last Friday morning at Holiday Park’s back nine. Six-thirty was the tee-time, and no one — save the grounds crew — was on the course.

I shot one-over on seven holes, while I ended up picking up the ball on a par four and par five. The new clubs felt terrific. I was shooting long and straight. I need to work on club selection, but I felt confident. My drive wasn’t too bad but the spring slide was back to its old tricks. I’ll work it out by the summer. My approach chips were shit — I can only work on them more — and my putts were as good as they could get on the rough greens.

52 over nine.

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“The problem of socialism is socialism”

Kevin D. Williamson on the willfully ignorant Terry Eagleton:

Marxism is a European language, not an economics, which is why it survives mainly among literary men such as Eagleton, who is over-fond of low-pH literary constructions and serial-comma indictments, like this one:

Modern capitalist nations are the fruit of a history of slavery, genocide, violence, and exploitation every bit as abhorrent as Mao’s China or Stalin’s Soviet Union. Capitalism, too, was forged in blood and tears; it is just that it has survived long enough to forget about much of this horror, which is not the case with Stalinism and Maoism.

As a piece of rhetoric, this is workmanlike, largely because the Americans and Britons to whom it is directed are instantly filled with liberal guilt when confronted with such accusations. But Eagleton has it backwards. Such horrors that precede and attend capitalism derive not from the evils of the regime but from the sort of conduct to which humanity sinks all too often. The ideological commitment to individual liberties, constitutionally limited government, property rights, freedom of enterprise and trade, and the like has proved to be the greatest restraint on human evildoing the world has yet seen.

Consider the items on Eagleton’s list of grievances. “Slavery” is lexically incompatible with what we call capitalism, by which we mean modern Anglo-American liberalism, which was born, in part, in revulsion against slavery. And “genocide” is a term coined by the Polish legal scholar Raphael Lemkin in 1944 to describe the policy of the “socialist” government then headquartered in Berlin. The horrors of capitalism are the horrors of mankind unredeemed. But the horrors of socialism are the lineal descendants of Marx’s ideology. The problem with socialism is not implementation. The problem with socialism is socialism.

I’ve been in conversations with people who say that Communism “was good in theory”. Well, that means it was a lousy theory, which also means that it is a lousy theory glossed over by negligently lazy thinkers.

Intellectuals like Terry Eagleton ought move their deceitful asses to North Korea where they, like their beloved but discredited ideology, will rot in the dustbin of history.

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Our information is the the very best of hands

That’s what the Saskatchewan Government Employees Union tells us in their latest ad campaign:

Because our private information ending up in the grubby hands of a dumpster-diving Kevin Yates is so much better.

Socialists don’t get irony.

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