Saturday, August 29, 2015

Are Chelsea fans shit?

This blog was stimulated by recent experiences as Chelsea (CFC) fan. As background, I'm a longtime Canadian sports fan of hockey, baseball, NA football, and  soccer, aka football in rest of the world. I've only been able to fully support Premier League's CFC since PL became available on TV in Canada.

As a Chelsea fan, what I've noticed for awhile now is how many CFC fans rush to diss individual players if they are not perfect. You'd think being a fan meant you support your club's players unconditionally, but you'd be wrong. 


Mostly, it means you support manager Jose Mourinho because he gave you three Premier League championships in 2004-5, 2005-6, and 2014-15.

As soon as a player shows weakness, that he's not perfect, he's dissed by Chelsea 'fans' as shit. Current prime examples include Ivanovic and Willian, with many more targets in the wings.

I don't get it. Has Roman Abramovich's money made Chelsea fans so privileged, so pampered, that all players must be exceptional? By definition, exceptional is rare.

Branislav Ivanovic was one of Chelsea's best players in 2014-15, yet now fans want him out because he's had a bad start to 2015-16 season. Willian is a fantastic energy bunny who's saved Chelsea's arse many times with his defensive play. But because he doesn't assist on goals and score enough, he's called shit by many fans. They don't say he's a talented player who could improve offensively. Oh no, they call him shit.

My wish is that Chelsea fans reap what they sow. Namely, they're not perfect, indeed, many are shit fans who are just not up to the task of being perfect. 


As a Chelsea fan, I know I have many weaknesses, one of which is writing blogs like this one. You can imagine how that endears me to my Chelsea friends and followers on Twitter at @eurofutball.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Why Harper does not deserve our vote (Links to 9 blogs)

This blog's purpose is to provide links to the 9 prior blogs on why Canada's PM Stephen Harper does not deserve our vote and a 4th term.

  1. Control of the media
  2. Censuring of scientists
  3. Abuse of Question Period
  4. Obstruction of Access to Information requests
  5. Abuse of omnibus bills
  6. Abuse of prorogation
  7. Environmental record
  8. Economic record
  9. Summary of why Harper does not deserve our vote
As a Canadian, I see Harper as betraying everything Canada stands for. He's anti-democratic, anti-scientific, and an embarrassment. 

CBC's Checkup Panel, with 4 insightful, smart physicians, on 'What health issues should be on the federal election agenda' provides evidence of why Harper is NOT good for Canada.

Only we voters can get rid of him.
Comments are most welcome.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Why I will NOT vote for Harper:Part 9 (Summary)

Vote for Harper? Inconceivable!

Ninth and final  in a series of mini-blogs on Canada's federal election to be held 19 Oct. 2015. 
DaBa, pen name of a Guest Blogger, wrote the blogs. 
My comments follow the  blog
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In Summary

Rather than include all of the main points of the eight prior blogs in this series, three Harper failings are highlighted: democracy, the environment and economy.


1. The Harper government runs one of the most undemocratic regimes in Canadian history — and has undermined and abused democratic institutions and procedures at every turn. 

2. Harper is the only Canadian Prime Minister to be found in contempt of Parliament, which occurred in 2011 after his government refused to release certain program costs to Opposition MPs. 

3. "We have a crisis in Canada where public information is disappearing and being restricted." (Executive Director of  Canadian Journalists for Free Expression)

4. The Harper government shows no intention of moving forward with climate policy and remains the worst performer of all industrialized countries.

5. Harper may blame the current recession on any number of historic or international events, but there can be little doubt that his polices have exacerbated the situation.

6. Harper's strong card was his promise of a balanced budget, however, it appears the government will run a $1-billion deficit in the current fiscal year even if it uses all of its contingency fund, says a report recently released by the Office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer. 

7. The Bank of Canada's Monetary Policy Report released last week downgraded economic growth for 2015 and projected that Canada had slipped into a technical recession in the first half of the year. 

8. Moreover, the Canadian dollar dipped to its lowest point in more than a decade.

Vote for a Harper government? Inconceivable!

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Comments
An amazing op-ed article appeared in the New York Times, 14 Aug. 2015:
Subtitle: Stephen Harper, the prime minister of Canada, is creating a legacy of secrecy and ignorance. 

A few selected quotes [précised] about our PM:
He has consistently limited the capacity of the public to understand what its government is doing, cloaking himself and his Party in an entitled secrecy, and the country in ignorance. 
Mr. Harper’s war against science has been even more damaging to the capacity of Canadians to know what their government is doing. 
In 2012, he tried to defund government research centers in the High Arctic, and placed Canadian environmental scientists under gag orders 
He ended the mandatory long-form census, a decision protested by nearly 500 organizations in Canada, including the Canadian Medical Association and Canadian Chamber of Commerce. 
[He] passed the [Un]Fair Elections Act, a law which not only needlessly tightens the requirements for voting but also restricts Elections Canada from promoting voting 
He is “tough on crime” and builds more prisons at great expense when even American conservatives realize that over-incarceration causes more problems than it solves. 
ConclusionWhether or not he loses, he will leave Canada more ignorant than he found it. 
Harper will leave Canada more ignorant. How sad. Yet it correctly sums up our PM, mocked for what he is in the New York Times, who's print version has the largest circulation of any metropolitan newspaper in the USA, and is long regarded as a national "newspaper of record", respected around the globe.

Vote for Harper? Who could? He does not deserve our vote. 

As always, comments are most welcome. 


Monday, August 17, 2015

When tempted to whine, we all need a wake-up call

Anecdotes on two experiences in the past week. 

1. For the past few years, driving to Edmonton's Old Strathcona Farmer's Market on Saturday about 07:45 - along 83 Ave. from 109 St. to 105 St. - I've noticed a woman ~50 years old on a motorized wheelchair driving along 83 Ave. to the Farmer's Market. All I noticed was that she appeared to blow into a straw to control her vehicle and I assumed perhaps she had cerebral palsy. 

Last week at Whyte and 111 St., where I'd never seen her before, the same woman asked me for help. Specifically, she asked if I could transfer something on her wheelchair's foot plate, which was in danger of falling off, to the storage bin at the back of the wheelchair. 

As I helped, for the first time, seeing her close up, I noticed that she had stumps for arms and legs. She also had a slight speech impediment but was totally understandable. I thought, so not cerebral palsy, at least not alone, and perhaps she was a victim of Canada's thalidomide tragedy

When I said I had seen her many times on Saturdays going to the Old Strathcona Farmer's Market, she replied, 'Yes, it's my favorite place in the whole world.' Walking away, I admit to fighting tears. 

2. By chance this past Saturday, as I exited the Old Strathcona Farmer's Market - where some doors on 83 Ave. were closed (which usually aren't) - the same woman was just arriving. I held the door open and she drove in. 

But - and it's a big but - there was a partition directly in front of the door that blocked her access. She literally was stuck up against the partition unable to go forwards or backwards. I waited to see if I could help. She struggled with her 'sip and puff' control system and finally got her wheelchair seat to swivel and drive sideways to bypass the partition.

As for me, I was gobsmacked by her spirit and courage. Complaining about my aches, pains, and inconveniences just became A WHOLE LOT HARDER.

Comments are most welcome.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Why I will NOT vote for Harper:Part 8 (Economic Record)

Harper's Economic Record

Eighth  in a series of mini-blogs on Canada's federal election to be held 19 Oct. 2015. 
DaBa, pen name of a Guest Blogger, wrote the blogs. 
My comments follow the  blog
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Harper's Conservatives like to promote themselves as good managers of Canada's economy. The reality is quite different.

Deficits
In 2006-07, the Conservatives inherited a surplus of $13.8 billion  which they turned into a deficit of $5.8 billion within two years. Subsequently, they have been in deficit each and every year. Since Harper was elected, the federal debt has increased by over $150 billion. 

Economic growth

Canada's economy declined in every year since 2010 and averaged only 1.7 per cent per year. In the previous nine years, economic growth averaged 3.4 per cent annually.

Jobs and unemployment

In 2014, only 120,000 new jobs were created — less than in 2013. 
At the end of 2014 compared to 2008:
  • Employment rate (percentage of adult population employed) was lower;
  • Labour force participation rate was lower;
  • Youth unemployment rate was higher;
  • Share of total employment made up of full-time jobs was less
  • Quality of jobs had sunk to its lowest level in a quarter of a century.
Harper's economic record in a nutshell:
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Comments
Harper, like most politicians, likes to take credit for good economic times and blame bad times on the global economy, forces beyond his control. And  he's correct that global forces play an important role in how Canada's economy performs.  For example:
  • Strength of Canadian $ compared to US $ 
    • Affects all nations with weak or strong currencies, e.g., Swiss strong currency negatively affects its drug manufacturing companies; 
    • Weak CDN $ good for exports, bad for firms who must buy US goods to manufacture products.
  • China's economy slows so it buys fewer of Canada's exports (applies to all exporting nations). 
  • China devaluates its currency, the yuan, and takes commodities-linked currencies like Canada's down because China is a huge importer of our commodities. 
Harper links Canada's economic record  - good and bad under his watch to -  two major events:

1. Global financial crisis of 2007-8
Harper claims credit because we did better than others, conveniently omitting to mention that

  • Liberal government left economy in great shape; 
  • Our existing bank laws prevented the greedy excesses of US financial institutions.
Bottom line: We did well not because of anything Harper did but because of prior Liberal government policies and Canada's strong banking laws.

2. Plummeting oil prices tanked Canada's economy
Fall in oil prices  - caused by Saudi flooding the market to retain market share - effects all Canada's oil producing provinces, most notably Alberta, and the entire Canadian economy.

After long denying the 'R' word, Harper claims the current recession (if it is that) is not his fault AND our economy is strong.

REALITY CHECK
As DaBa's blog explains, Harper's economic record is terrible. To claim otherwise is to try to bamboozle Canadian voters. Harper thinks we are stupid. Harper cannot take credit for Canada's relative strong performance after the 2008 recession.

Canada would not be in the economic trouble it is today if Harper and his conservative pals in Alberta did not bank most everything on oil versus promoting sustainable energy, a more diversified economy, and investing in infrastructure.

Facts

  • Harper's brand as strong on the economy is fiction using any economic indicator, whether deficits, growth, job quality, unemployment;
  • His policies have left Canada weak, susceptible and powerless to global oil prices.

Like his environmental record, Harper's economic record is a massive FAIL. He does not deserve our vote

As always, comments are most welcome. 


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Why I will NOT vote for Harper:Part 7 (Environmental Record)

Harper's Environmental Record

Seventh in a series of mini-blogs on Canada's federal election to be held 19 Oct. 2015. 
DaBa, pen name of a Guest Blogger, wrote the blogs. 
My comments follow the  blog
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In 2002, when Harper was leader of the Canadian Alliance, he sent a letter to supporters saying
We're gearing up for the biggest struggle our party has faced since you entrusted me with the leadership. I'm talking about the 'Battle of Kyoto' our campaign to block the job-killing, economy-destroying Kyoto Accord
Soon after he won his majority in 2011, Harper pulled Canada out of Kyoto, the first signatory to do so.

Given the subsequent environmental performance of the Harper government,  Germanwatch and Climate Action Network Europe - which produce an annual report card on climate change performance - rated Canada 58th out of 61 countries in regards to its efforts to combat global warming, above only Saudi Arabia, Kazakhstan and Australia. 

In 2013, these organizations said Canada 'shows no intention of moving forward with climate policy and therefore remains the worst performer of all industrialized countries.' 
In 2012, the government launched an unprecedented assault on Canada's environmental laws when it introduced Bill C-38, an omnibus bill that put a halt to automatic environmental assessments of projects under the federal government's purview. 

All told, the Fisheries Act, Navigable Waters Protection Act and Canadian Environmental Assessment Act were either repealed or simply gutted, while the NEB was neutered, a reality felt to this day:
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Comments
Navigating through the statistics of which countries perform best on climate control is difficult and, in a way, irrelevant, even given that's it's damn embarrassing to be ranked so low by global organizations. We're a proud nation and hate to be viewed negatively on the world stage.  

But that's what Harper's regime has led us to on the environment, where we're widely mocked internationally. 

Perhaps a more valid benchmark is how well Canada accomplishes what we say we will
  • 2009: Canada signed  Copenhagen Accord, committing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in 2010 by 17% from 2005 levels.
  • Baring drastic action, Environment Canada projects that 2020 levels will only be slightly less than they were in 2005
  • Huh? Talk about under-performing
  • And it's because Harper isn't serious about climate change.
In comparison
  • USA reduced greenhouse gases by ~10% between 2005 and 2012.
  • EU  says it's on track to meet  2020 target of reducing greenhouse gas levels by 20% from 1990 levels.
Harper routinely lies about everything, including claiming his government has a great record on greenhouse gases. Fact is, according to international watchdogs, even the United Nations, we have worst record of industrialized nations

With Harper on the environment and any issue, it's all about 
  • Controlling the message to protect his government by lying & obfuscating facts.
Canada can do much better by balancing economic benefits of oil sector with protecting the environment and developing sustainable energy resources. We have everything needed to be leader of sustainable energy on world stage except political will, thanks to Harper.

Harper's environmental record is a massive FAIL and he does not deserve our vote

As always, comments are most welcome. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Why I will NOT vote for Harper:Part 6 (Abuse of Prorogation)

Harper's Abuse of Prorogation 

Sixth in a series of mini-blogs on Canada's federal election to be held 19 Oct. 2015. 
DaBa, pen name of a Guest Blogger, wrote the blogs. 
My comments follow the  blog
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Although prorogation normally allows governments to bring in fresh bills, usually mid-way through a prime minister's mandate, Harper has used prorogation four times, shutting down parliament for a total of 181 days.

In December 2008, Harper enraged constitutional experts by proroguing Parliament. Many accused him of simply trying to avoid a confidence vote over a fiscal update, which his minority government appeared certain to lose. 


Apart from the doomed attempts of Charles I to prorogue the British parliament in the 17th century, there has not been precedent in any parliamentary democracy anywhere in the world where a democratic parliament was shut down to hide from a vote of confidence
In 2010, Harper prorogued parliament again in the midst of a controversy over Canada's treatment of prisoners in Afghanistan.

In August 2013, Harper prorogued during a scandal involving the expenses of Conservative senators.

Opposition Leader Tom Mulcair accused Harper of shutting down Parliament to evade accountability and to avoid questions on the Senate. 

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Comments
What is prorogation of Parliament
The main effect of ending a session by prorogation is to end all government business. All government bills that have not received Royal Assent prior to prorogation cease to exist; committee activity also ceases. Thus, no committee can sit after a prorogation.
Note who wrote 'Harper in contempt of Parliament' above:
  • Errol B. Mendes
  • The person calling our PM in contempt isn't a political shill for opposition parties, or a leftie media hack, he is a constitutional lawyer of the highest regard internationally.
Even The Economist, not a left-wing rag by anyone's standards, chastises Harper on his abuse of proroguing:
To date these blogs have featured Harper's contempt for and attacks on democracy whether it be
  • Control of the media
  • Censuring of scientists
  • Abuse of Question Period
  • Obstruction of 'access to information' requests
  • Abuse of omnibus bills
Today, Harper's anti-democratic mentality is evident by forcing Canadians who want to attend his campaign events to be vetted by the party and receive a bar-coded ticket bearing their name.

Honest, you couldn't make this stuff up.

As an aside, Conservatives has been embarrassed into relenting on the 'no photos' rule, naturally putting a spin on it, but stick to the vetting. To claim it's about security is nonsense since Harper's party has done it since at least 2008.

With Harper it's all about 
  • Controlling the message, as practiced by authoritarian regimes worldwide;
  • Even if it means abusing democracy.
Harper does not deserve our vote. It's fair to say he is a SCARY outlier among all prior Canadian Prime Ministers. 

As always, comments are most welcome.