Photos from the 2011 Federal Election

Friday, December 17, 2010

Are universities "Too Asian?"

Newly elected York Regional Councillor Joe Li wants Maclean's magazine to formally apologize for publishing an article called "Too Asian?". Li condemns the article in comments published in the Markham Economist this week and he wants Markham council to do the same.
The article actually ends up praising Asian students for tending "to be strivers, high achievers and single-minded in their approach to university."
I was a former high-school teacher in a Toronto school with a large Asian population and I agree with the Maclean's article, generally the Asian students were among the best students at my school, its true.
I think Mr. Li, and Councillor Mike Layton (son of Jack) of Toronto, who made the same objection are most disturbed by the headline, for which Maclean's apologized. Don't these guys having anything better to do like continue to mismanage their various municipalities?
From what I have seen in my conversations with Joe Li (also Asian) and his efforts so far, he proves that making group racial generalizations is not a good idea and often not true.     

Friday, December 10, 2010

Time-of-use billing and Green energy

I sent this letter to the Markham Economist recently but it was NOT published. For those of you who live in the area, you will understand my message.
The letter did appear in the winter issue of the Libertarian Bulletin, the newsletter of the Ontario Libertarian Party.

Re: Time-of-use billing and Green energy

To the Editor,

Like many in Markham, I received the form letter from Power Stream, our electrical utility, that starts like this: “The Government of Ontario, as part of its plan to create a culture of conservation…..” Yes, a culture of conservation; Dalton McGuinty’s Liberals have struck again, in yet another effort to legislate our behaviour and to create to some ill-conceived utopia.

Rather than creating a culture of competition and free enterprise, where citizens of Ontario are given more choice in electricity suppliers at lower cost with less government interference, we get the opposite.

In the area of electrical production, where the Ontario government has a monopoly through Ontario Power Generation, McGuinty has sworn to shut-down low cost coal burning power plants and replace them with high cost solar and wind power generators that work only intermittently.

McGuinty has been convinced that the evil fossil-fuel burning power plants, will somehow harm the planet, so in the best interests of your great grandchildren (maybe) we will now be given the option to pay twice as much for our peak power usage or choose to do our laundry late at night or on weekends. How that helps the planet I’m not sure.

The problem is really not the price of electricity, because these prices are in line with the neighbouring States of Michigan and New York. The problem is that McGuinty has committed Ontario to long-term deals for alternative energy at outrageously high prices through the Green Energy Act.

The Ontario government will need greater revenues to fulfill contracts with companies like Samsung and its sweetheart deal with the province.  Electricity costs will rise, so much so, that residents of the coldest parts of Ontario may experience “fuel poverty” as five million British citizens who are on welfare do now. The additional fuel costs will hit poor and fixed income individuals hardest. For the rest of us, these ill-considered obligations will act like yet another tax during a very fragile economic recovery.
The Green Energy Act needs to be repealed and electrical production needs to be privatized. The next opportunity to fix the problem is less than one year away.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The REAL effects of global warming rhetoric

If this doesn't make you skeptical of the climate change hype, nothing will.
The McGuinty Liberals (with no real opposition from the Conservative, New Democrats or Greens) have decided that global warming needs to be stop as soon as possible, and you my fellow Ontarians MUST pay for it whether you want to or not. You will have no choice in the matter, its already been decided. Ontario will be closing all of its cheap electricity producing coal-burning power plants by 2014. Only one political party actively opposes this, only one political party seeks to open up energy production to competition so consumers will have choice, the Ontario Libertarian Party.
This link to a blog posting from a group headquartered in Scarborough Ontario explains their view.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Libertarian? Sorry, you are not welcome!

This posting below is from the blog of my friend Paolo Fabrizio who is currently running in a Federal By-election in the riding of Vaughan north of Toronto. Paolo is running under the flag of the Libertarian Party of Canada. Apparently he will NOT be allowed to take part in the "all-candidates" debate. Here is what he has to say about this: 


Please read the ad from the Vaughan Citizen, dated November 18, 2010, and my comments, below it:

My critical analysis of the composition of this ad comes first. 

There is a red man, a blue, and an orange, for the LIberal, Conservative, and NDP candidates. They are men, due to the green figure being a woman, with a skirt. That's the woman who is running for the Greens. Note the expressive nature of the figures, with open hands, reaching out to each other, the lines coming from each one, indicating speech. The cartoon balloons were added afterward, with Adobe Illustrator, as I can tell, from the gradient on each balloon. It's a cute drawing, showing four candidates from four parties, at a debate. As it is pleasant, it is especially mean to those who are not invited, yet want to join in on the fun.

Everyone wants to be invited. Even if you don't attend, nobody wants to be excluded. When we're kids, we have little kid parties, and people invite their friends, only. When we become adults and have adult functions, like a debate, we are supposed to be fair, and invite all, for a debate is not a party, it's for an election, and those with the means to have a debate, and have it covered with a strong vehicle, such as a newspaper, have a moral duty to be fair, and invite everyone running. The Vaughan Citizen had that drawing commissioned before they invited everyone they wanted to invite, and they had already decided that it was for the four who were invited, and not for anyone else, even if they ask to attend. The Vaughan Citizen also did a front-page story on the NDP and Green candidates, discounting their youth and inexperience, and lobbying for them to be given a chance.

What about me? What about my party, the Libertarians, and the 688 people who voted for me, the last time I ran in Vaughan with a budget of almost $200.00?

The ad says that the Vaughan Citizen, along with Human Endeavour and the Vaughan Social Action Council will host the debate. How can all of them not believe in fairness? It will be moderated by an associate professor from York University. How can he not believe in fairness? There will be five panelists. How can all of them not believe in fairness, as well?

Those invited are referred to as the "four main parties." That's not true. The Greens are Canada's 5th-place party, behind the regrettable Bloc Quebecois, which has elected MPs. The Greens have elected none. There are two INDEPENDENT elected MPs. People with no party affiliation at all are greater than the Greens, and at the least, the independent candidate should have been invited.

What the Vaughan Citizen and the others are indulging in, is a self-fulfilling prophecy. They promote the Green candidate, and ignore the Libertarian. They invite the Green candidate, and exclude the Libertarian. When the election is done, they will all note how well the Green candidate did, and that the Greens are growing.

I am in this race, and the Vaughan Citizen promotes the NDP and the Greens, which is poison to the democratic process, and then, they make it seem like I don't care, by not being at the debate! There will be no statement read by the organizers, saying that they did not invite me, nor will there be a statement read for me, saying that I wanted to be invited. 

They won't do that, for it shows the debate to be a sham. Anyone would then ask, "Why can't the others be invited?" And, they would know that the debate is a farce. I ask that all who are registered be invited for all debates, and I am the only one who has made that statement.

Those that organized this debate? Shame on all of them. They are a disgrace to democracy.

Help me, then. I want to beat the Greens. Help me, as that hypocritical party which demanded their leader be permitted to join the tv debates from the 2008 federal election, willingly participates with unfair debates, when it serves them. Help me beat Claudia-Rodriguez-Larrain.

Share this website with at least one other person, and do it fast, as the election is less than a week away. Take a moment and forward this website to all your Twitter, Facebook and email lists and tell them to forward it, as well. Let that be the next thing you do, as you leave this website. Please help me, as the Vaughan Citizen is working against me, and the Greens are no friend of democracy, whatsoever.

Thank you,

Paolo Fabrizio
Pastry chef, gardener, vegetarian

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Voter Apathy

Municipal elections in Markham typically bring out only 30% of the voter eligible public. Thats what my most recent letter to the Markham Economist highlights. Certainly lack of choice is a major issue, when all the candidates sound the same, mouth the same platitudes, promise the same promises its hard to blame voters for their apathy. Its just that kind of situation that prompted me to run as the Libertarian candidate in the last Federal election; at least it gave me a moral choice. As I explain most voters prefer to vote for the winner no matter what their faults.  

Re: Voter Apathy in Markham

Markham votes on Oct. 25 and election officials are expecting a voter turnout of just 30%. That number is pathetic in any society that treasures its liberty.

The reasons for low voter turnout are complex but often related to the false idea that an individual vote can make no difference. Voters like to see that their vote is not wasted, so it is difficult to defeat an incumbent because previous winners attract voters, unless the incumbent has really screwed up.

The idea of “wasting your vote” if voting for a newcomer, encourages apathy, and it is that very mindset that needs to be re-evaluated.

In any election every politician reviews past poll results to determine how to fine-tune their own election message. They will examine trends, shifts, and even try to link policy ideas to candidate results. In this examination every vote counts, even the votes of losing candidates. It is this kind of analysis that can ultimately change government policies.

If voters don’t vote nothing will change, and worse a relatively small number of votes that represent a committed lobby group could swing an election to your detriment. In an election with a small turnout, every vote cast is magnified.

One thing that can be done in future elections is to add the category of “none” or “none of the above” to each list of candidates. This allows voters to at least express their indignation at the choice of candidates for a category.

In this election, voters should be aware that they need not vote for all positions available; a voter may only wish to vote for one Regional Councillor and leave the rest of the ballot blank. Our voting machines would consider that a valid ballot, and the blanks could represent indignation or just plain lack of information to make an intelligent choice.

Get out and vote, or be governed by politicians you had no voice in choosing.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A better choice for Mayor of Markham

This week I had the opportunity to attend a pre-election all-candidates meeting (Municipal Election Day is Oct. 25, 2010) at the Varley Art Gallery in Unionville. 
Unionville is a hotbed for political lobby groups which have coveted Unionville Village and its Main Street for more than three decades. Today that tradition continues through individual participation (sometimes duplicated) in an array of local lobby groups called UVC, URA, UBIA, UVA and UHS. These groups range from Ratepayers and Business people to those dedicated to preserving Heritage; all of them with a political agenda and by virtue of their existence they claim the right to speak for the entire community. I'll leave that last point to another time, but this meeting was certainly a service to the greater community and they should be commended for that.
Most of the evening had me squirming in my chair, mumbling to my wife about how our taxes are extorted then wasted. I even got my written question asked regarding the actual need for Regional government, my contention being it is a layer of political slime we can do without. In fact the Regional Government of York has an accumulated debt of $3.8 billion. Retiring that debt depends on continued "good times". Good-luck with that! Each individual in York Region is on the hook for $15,000, but the current Mayor and council of Markham have kept taxes stable over a couple of years. That's great, but 50% of our tax bill goes to the Region so that will no doubt change after the election. 
Of the three mayoral candidates I was surprised to be in agreement with many of the things Stephen Kotyck said at the meeting and on his flyer. Mr. Kotyck wants to get Regional taxation under control, make the Region more accountable by electing the chair, and a list of other sensible ideas (see above). He has a FaceBook page and I expect he has a low budget, but thrift is something that needs to be cultivated among politicians.      

Saturday, September 25, 2010

David Suzuki's Obsession

I've mentioned David Suzuki's Markham Economist and Sun column before; he is a regular contributor and occasionally writes particularly silly pieces. The column below belongs to that group. Suzuki has evolved from a fruit fly geneticist to a commentator on all things environmental. Like many modern-day self-proclaimed environmentalists (or even those of the previous generation), Suzuki seems to harbour a particular disdain for human life, though he will never admit that. He and others continually harp on the idea that we are but intruders in the otherwise perfectly balanced biosphere that is Gaia. It falls on us to restrain our tendencies to procreate and expand our footprint on Earth. Failing that, Suzuki and others have developed elaborate plans to coerce individuals and nations to their vision of the world.
I came across this video of a young and rebellious looking Suzuki explaining what he really thinks of people:
The column below appeared in the Markham Economist and Sun opinion page on Thursday, September 16, 2010.  My response letter (below) to this column appeared on Sept. 25, 2010 on the Economist and Sun's opinion page. An unedited version of the letter is below that.

I had to chuckle at David Suzuki’s latest column suggesting that electric car bodies can be made of hemp fibre to reduce the fossil fuel usage needed for production. He then described the HumanCar, an inexpensive vehicle conceived by a U.S. inventor that is propelled by “exercise-based” people power so that one to four persons can “row” the car around. I immediately had visions of the Flintstones, where Barney and Fred had cars made of logs and used their own foot-power for propulsion. Of course Suzuki was serious, and I believe automobiles are serious business.

Obsession is defined as the domination of one’s thoughts by an idea or desire. The private automobile is not an obsession in our society. The automobile is a tool of modern life, a tool that has altered Western civilization like the telephone, the computer, and the airplane. Are we obsessed with them as well?

The automobile has given us untold wealth and unimagined freedoms. Sure there has been a cost, but every choice made comes with cost and given a choice and if allowed, people will choose what is best for them.

Certainly Suzuki presents points that are sensible in this article, but his patronizing and paternalistic columns (like this one) show that he is more interested in controlling people’s lives rather than helping them. It also shows that he is the one that is obsessed.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Full day Kindergarten in Ontario equals ‘Free’ Full time Unionized Daycare

Prior to the 1960’s it was common for families to be supported by the pay cheque of just one spouse. Due to the rapid increase in the size of government, taxes have increased much faster than the cost of living as a percentage of income in Canada, according to the Fraser Institute. Today young parents are faced with the dilemma of two working spouses and day care for their children.

Most school districts in Ontario offer optional half-day or full-day, alternate day Junior and Senior Kindergarten, and children are eligible to start in the year they turn 4. Kindergarten is a two year program and parents are obliged to provide care before and after school. Many schools have such care on site run by private groups at reasonable prices. In November 2007, Premier McGuinty appointed Dr. Charles Pascal as special advisor on early learning to recommend the best way to implement full day Kindergarten in Ontario. Pascal’s report was published in June 2009 and needless to say it received glowing praise from teachers, education related unions and young cash strapped parents.

Pascal’s report called for Kindergarten classes of 26 students supervised by a teacher and an early childhood educator (ECE). Daycare would also be offered and supervised by ECE people at a reasonable fee at the same location from 7 am to 6 pm outside of the regular school day. This day care could be extended to 6 to 12 year olds if there is sufficient demand. The recession has delayed full implementation, but it will be phased in starting in Sept. 2010 and completed by Sept. 2015 with initial costs of $500 million in the first two years and likely beyond the recently revised estimate of $1.5 billion.

Superficially it may appear that this program identifies children’s problems earlier so they can be dealt with earlier, but the evidence for that is scant. Even if there was good evidence, is it really cost effective or desirable? Why not just remove the children at birth as one wag suggested? This way parents will have no influence in bringing up their children.

What’s wrong with Ontario’s full day Kindergarten plan?

  1. It increases the government’s monopoly on education, while increasing the size of the public sector at the expense of private sector day and child care, and reduces choice.
  2. It replaces market incentivized child care workers with less accountable, less competitive, unionized teachers and ECE employees at greater cost.
  3. It further increases the dependence of citizens on government sponsored programs.
  4. It creates a new government-union partnership that invites province-wide daycare strikes in the future when the partners disagree.

As long as educators have no incentive to make substantive improvements, most will continue to behave as before and Ontario schools will strive to reach mediocrity at a high price.

This article first appeared in the Libertarian Bulletin (Winter 2009) a publication of the Ontario Libertarian Party. 

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Power Hungry

Twenty-two years ago this week (July 1988) I built a deck. I remember it vividly because it was an extremely hot and humid July week, even hotter than we are experiencing this week in the GTA. When I showed the deck to one of my work friends he commented that it was "overbuilt". I had used three nails where two would have sufficed, two bolts where one was adequate. The deck was solid, it still is. Now twenty-years later the pressure-treated wood has held up, and there are no squeaks, no weak areas, not yet anyway. I mention this because I'm certain their must be an engineering principle that requires infrastructure to be built beyond adequate tolerances, to be able to withstand unusual loads, stresses and demands.
Yesterday afternoon on the hottest day in more than two years a transformer fire caused a major  blackout in a large portion of downtown and western Toronto. Yet another disruption in the life of Canada's biggest city that has economic ramifications for the entire region.
It took hours to get everything back up to normal but my first thoughts turned to Ontario's electrical production and is it able to cope with the unforeseen stresses that are inevitable? Is the grid "overbuilt" like any well engineered system should be? I don't think it is.
The lead editorial in today's Globe and Mail implies there is a problem with Ontario's electrical grid and production but it doesn't go far enough in pointing to a solution. Should the planning and production of electricity be left to the central planners at Queen's Park? Can central planners keep up with consumer demand for electricity? Should we trust central planners with the production of electricity? My simple answers are no, no, and no.
There are no truly free markets in the production of any form of consumable energy. There are onerous governmental regulations in oil, natural gas and electrical production, but while oil and gas production and distribution is taxed heavily, consumer prices do fluctuate based on supply and demand. Supply will be there when demand occurs. Not true with electricity, government sets the price and lately has made some questionable and uncompetitive deals with producers based on a slew of false assumptions. The problem is none of those assumptions involve your future demand for electricity and you should be concerned.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Going Green and paying for it

In recent weeks many of the residents of Markham and Unionville that subscribe to the equal payment plan (EPP) to pay their electric bill have received notice of increases to monthly bills from the electricity provider PowerStream.  Increases for most households will be 25 to 100% starting June 2010. Naturally the notice did not give reasons but a subsequent letter explained the increases after PowerStream was inundated with complaints. A story in the Markham Economist at the end of May (Energy Bills Skyrocket) explained some of the reasons. One of the reasons was a scheduled 12% hike in the regulated electricity costs set by the Ontario Energy Board. That is just the beginning, those rates will continue to go up as Ontario closes cheap coal fired electric power plants and replaces them with new "green" solar and wind power electric plants. This recent article in MACLEAN'S outlines Ontario's rush to be green.
Below is a letter to the editor of the Markham Economist from June 19, 2010, (click to enlarge) stating my views on the rush to be green and beside it the letter as sent in easier to read format.

Re: Perfect storm hikes bills, May 29

To the Editor,

It has been fascinating to read the differences in equal billing charges levied by our electric utility PowerStream in Markham to some residents.
When I received notice from PowerStream that my monthly equal billings payments were going up 23% I was incensed, and called then emailed the utility. But my rates are going from $111 to $136; a far cry from the EBP rates some of your readers (even though I’m in a 4 bedroom two story house). The difference in rates is instructive; residents do have some control over their EBP rates, simply cut back on usage.  The utility charges according to usage, and that will be even more important when Smart Meter time-of-use rates are implemented soon.
PowerStream is not the villain in this story; it simply distributes electricity for its three municipal shareholders Vaughan, Markham and Barrie. The real villain is the McGuinty government and its rush to be green at all costs – mostly yours.
Over 100 years ago competitive cheap hydroelectric power became widely available here and Ontario became the industrial dynamo of Canada. We still benefit from that very good start but today rather than encourage a competitive market in the production of cheap electricity the McGuinty Liberals are doing the opposite. They have made long-term deals with various companies to purchase power at rates far in excess of the 4.5-cent per kilowatt-hour market rate (a 100 watt light bulb could run for 10 hours for 4.5 cents). In fact Ontario will be forced to buy electricity at between 13.5 and 44.3-cents per kilowatt-hour for the next twenty years from various solar and wind power companies. Remember, each of these are intermittent power sources (no sun/wind no power), so “back-up” fossil fuel sources will be standing by (at additional cost because McGuinty is closing the cheap coal burning plants). Is it possible to find a more expensive way to produce electricity than McGuinty has? Imagine what kind of competitive position this creates for Ontario businesses for the next 100 years.
Oh, I forgot, the new HST will add an additional 8% to your electric bill in two weeks. So it is no wonder PowerStream is increasing our rates, that is just the beginning. Don’t waste your time calling PowerStream, call or write Michael Chan your Liberal MPP and let him know your thoughts.

Allen Small

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Markham is at a crossroads

The column below appeared in the Markham Economist and Sun opinion page on Thursday, April 29, 2010. 
Markham has been one of the fastest growing municipalities in North America and some politicians and residents have decided that this growth and prosperity is somehow detrimental to residents and their way of life. So lobby groups have formed and they have recruited politicians and environmentalists (see below) to force their views on the rest of us.  (click to see entire article)
I sent a letter to the editor of the Economist and Sun and it was published (below left) on May 8, 2010. The actual letter as written is clearer below right.

 Re: Markham at crossroads: to sprawl or protect, Apr. 29

I carefully read and re-read the column by David Suzuki and Faisal Moola of the Suzuki Foundation. Nowhere in the piece was there mention of concepts like property rights and private ownership and freedom to dispose of property.

There was a blanket statement in the article that described “an extraordinary new path…..limiting all future growth to further development in areas already built up”. This was followed by:

“This visionary proposal is aimed at protecting the town’s remaining farms, fields and forests, known as the white belt, as a foodbelt that would be out of reach of future development.” Does this mean that those farmers who own this property, in some families for generations, will not be able to sell the property on the open market for a fair price? That is exactly what it means; they are out of luck, too bad for them.

Like many in Markham, my family enjoys locally grown food when it is briefly available, but the bulk of our food, produce and meat come from far off shores and at lower prices. I doubt that local farmers can sustain a living for their efforts why would they? Their chance to escape the farm and reap profits from the sale of their valuable land is about to be thwarted by environmental and political bullies.

What alternatives do Suzuki and our politicians offer? Densification, the creation of urban high-rise ghettos and massive townhouse complexes “preventing urban sprawl onto agricultural lands….using the principles of smart growth” a concept that has already been dismissed in large parts of the United States where much better agricultural conditions exist. “Smart growth” is a euphemism for coerced growth. If land use is restricted in Markham, what happens to available property values? Of course property values increase, good for me, maybe good for you but what about our children, will they be able to escape the expensive high-rise ghettos?

Suzuki and Moola offer that “critical ecological services” will be provided if Markham preserves its green spaces. Habitat for wildlife, songbirds, wildflowers and the economically important “flying $50 bills” called bees will have freedom to grow and roam in Markham, but not people. Is it possible that these benefits may still exist in an urban or suburban environment? I think they can, I’m prepared to tell Suzuki and those politicians where to get off. Are you?