Photos from the 2011 Federal Election

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Political Power for Sale - here is the list of buyers

Sadly, another opportunity to change the political reality in Ontario is coming to a close. Tomorrow is Election Day. The jostling for power will be decided "the people will choose and get the government they deserve." The whole cliched charade will come to a crashing end.
Cliched? Of course it is, who says the people will choose, only the politicians say this, and maybe some dimwitted media reporter.
Charade? Again, of course, this election was bought and paid for well before the writ was dropped, we've just been going through the motions for the last month.
Am I being cynical? Not at all, look at this link from where the posted graphic was taken. The National Post printed that graphic in today's paper showing contributions to the three major political parties in Ontario this year, BEFORE the rules changed on Sept 7th, 2011,  when the writ was issued. Spending during an election campaign is strictly regulated, spending before the campaign, not so much, not that it needs to regulated, I'm not advocating that. The Post commentary, describes the big donations, including their source, but no reasons for the donations or any explanation or speculation is offered. That is left entirely to the reader.
So, one is left to speculate exactly why would construction industry donations be the largest of all? The construction industry even favoured the Hudak Conservatives with more money, possibly believing the pre-writ polls that gave the Tories an edge. But they are not stupid, they hedged that bet with almost the same dollar amount to McGuinty's Liberals, and less than a fifth of that to the NDP. Clearly they speculated the NDP had virtually no chance of forming a government. Does the construction industry give this money with no strings? Do you believe in the tooth fairy? My answer, no to both questions, and importantly the largest construction industry donors, the unions and Aecon Group must be expecting some sort of favourable treatment from the next government otherwise why donate.

Of most interest to me, were the top donors, the teacher's unions (I was a conscripted member once). Unions in general tended to favour the Liberals first, then the NDP, and far behind were the PC's. But the teacher's unions have a love affair with the Liberals, and why not? The teacher's had labour peace, for the entire eight year Liberal mandate. McGuinty touts himself as the "Education Premier," his wife is a teacher, and he has grown the Ministry of Education and the teaching payroll by instituting all-day kindergarten in Ontario, whether we need it or not. They love him. How much do they love him? During the entire one month election campaign, ETFO a teacher's union, produced and funded a radio and TV campaign called "Refuse to vote against kids." This was a poorly disguised attempt to tell voters to vote for the Liberals, yet the money spent was not registered as part of the Liberal spending limit. How convenient is that? That's not all, as you can see here.
So, why am I going over this now with just hours left before the polls open? Simple. Neither we Libertarians, nor our disenchanted brethren the Freedom Party (FP), had any hope of winning or even making a dent into Ontario politics this time. FP even has 57 candidates (we only have 51), and they boasted that they have a sufficient number to form a majority government. Right. That would mean the tooth fairy does exist. But neither of us will elect even one candidate or come close, that's my bold prediction. Why? Because this election was bought and paid for by the groups listed in the Post graphic above, and the voters are not sophisticated enough to understand that. Here is a more realistic prediction. Don't forget to vote, anyway, we need the numbers.         

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Ontario Libertarian Message 2011

Well, after three different schedule updates, the CBC free time broadcast of my Libertarian message happened rather unexpectedly. I was ready to record the broadcast so that I may post it to my blogs, but as I did that guess what? There I was on TV (at 1:03 am), so I quickly hit the record button but missed the first part of the message. With the magic of some editing, and the little bit I've learned about video making, I present to you the entire message, optimized for audio volume.
The important part of the message is, we need government monopoly less, and competitive choices more. Whether that change comes from a libertarian legislator, or one from another party, is of no consequence. What's important is that governments move toward controlling our lives less and less, and giving people the economic freedom to choose what is best for themselves and their families, more and more.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Why should government be involved in health care?

The question of government involvement in Healthcare for Canadians, is never asked during a political debate or during and election campaign.
It is the "elephant in the room," that no politician wants to acknowledge because doing so will make him/her unelectable. So to be elected, the proper approach to take is to agree, yes health care has some problems, but throwing more money at it while eliminating wasteful practices will fix the problems and everything will be wonderful in the future. But the plain facts in Ontario's current election are, that the health care budget will become the largest component of the budget and health care will not improve because demands on it will only increase from here on in.
What's the solution? Clearly something needs to be done, and this video excerpt points to a new beginning.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Election Day Minus -14, CBC magnanimous with Free-time, but......

There is the issue that the CBC is a publicly funded broadcaster, but as taxpayers, we are coerced into paying for this service too, why not make the best of it. So, a quick poll of the executive, and I was chosen to do this.
It's surprisingly difficult to get a clear message across given 2 minutes on television. I have a learned great deal respect for advertisers, hucksters, etc. Anyone that can sell an idea in 2 minutes deserves whatever they are paid. But I crafted a message with the help of my daughter, a former CBC journalist. So, here is 2 minutes that should make sense. 
Take a moment and imagine getting notification that you, and every member of your family, owed $21,000.That’s 84,000 for a family of four.That is the debt the Government of Ontario will have accumulated on your behalf by the end of this fiscal year.That debt has doubled since Dalton McGuinty took office just 8 years ago… because spending has doubled.
So. Is the government twice as effective? Is health care better? Has education improved? Has traffic improved? Where did all this money go?
Everyone understands that competition improves prices and service… whereas monopolies result in higher costs and lower quality.Only governments allow monopolies. Take these examples.Consider why your electricity bill has gone up. No competition.Consider the high cost of liquor, beer, and wine. No competition.How about the long wait times for health care? No competition.Libertarians would allow for real competition in all these areas – and others:Producing electricity that would lower your hydro bill.Removing the government monopoly on the sale of liquor, beer, and wine.Allowing for a competitive health care system, resulting in better and faster care.Libertarians understand that competition leads to less government spending… which will ultimately reduce the debt. And as we watch the news unfold, day-by-day… we’ve all seen just how devastating debt can be.Make a historic choice - choose Libertarian.I’m Allen Small the Libertarian candidate for Markham-Unionville.To find out more, go to Libertarian dot O-N dot C-A.This message was authorized by the CFO for the Ontario Libertarian Party.
I went down to CBC HQ, the other day to record that, and it went very well I think. The only problem is, will you or anyone get to see it? You see, this will be broadcast at 1 a.m. on the night of Thursday Sept. 29th. In fact the times for other parties are also similarly very late on other nights. The PC's decided to forfeit their time, why bother going to the trouble, if no one will be watching? The audio portion of my appearance will be broadcast on CBC Radio on Sat. Sept. 25th between 7 and 8 a.m., better, I guess.
I hope to stay awake and record it, so may some night owl Libertarians, but of course that will be preaching to the converted. Oh well.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The myth of job creation

This morning I saw a clever cartoon in the National Post by Gary Clement, so I re-engineered his idea to what you see on the left, and I got to recycle my "change-a-head" graphic. I'm not much of an artist, but I saw Clement's idea and realized it could apply to the Ontario election, in fact any election in the so-called free world.
Politicians love to take credit for job creation, and Dalton McGuinty is as guilty as any of them. And the media are so stupid that they actually reinforce the politicians' position. The truth of course is that the politicians are most interested in their own jobs, but lets be generous for a moment.
Also in today's Post is an article about Dalton McGuinty's visit to a solar panel plant. The plant is idle because of insufficient demand, and the article goes:
"Still, the news that one of the province’s leading solar panel companies has ceased production will come as an embarrassment to Mr. McGuinty, who has been positioning the move into renewable power as a game-changer for Ontario. “Our bold plan is to position Ontario to become North American’s biggest manufacturer of clean technologies,” he said when he visited Eclipsall Tuesday. He routinely compares the Liberal feed-in-tariff, which offers generous rates for solar energy, to the auto-pact that helped build Ontario’s auto industry.
The Liberal government’s efforts have created jobs
– though the 20,000 number touted by Mr. McGuinty seems highly questionable, far less the 50,000 he says will be created by the end of next year. In addition, they are hardly high wage, high skilled jobs the Premier claims (Eclipsall pays 20% over minimum wage to its workers, who assemble glass and solar cells imported from Asia, thereby qualifying for the Liberal Green Energy Act’s 60% domestic content rule)."
I've bolded the oft repeated lie that even good reporters like John Ivison should avoid, because it is a lie. The "created jobs" occurred because the Liberals decided to support the solar panel industry at the expense of a multitude of other choices that the money might have been used for. Paying down the debt would have been a good idea. 
I predict that the entire effort to nurture green jobs, in Ontario and elsewhere, will end in failure until the market actually chooses to support these industries for reasons other than government preference. I have this support from Jon Stewart's Daily Show. Apparently a major US manufacturer of solar panels: Solyndra, received $535 million in loans from the Obama government and is now bankrupt. Oops.
Misplaced investments are what governments are really good at doing. Picking winners and therefore losers is their game. Have a listen to Stefan Molyneux on Russian Television of all things:

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

"On a quick path to ­bankruptcy"

Last year he was dead last at 29.7 out of 100. Deficit Dalton has improved to Ninth spot this year, losing only to Robert Ghiz's PEI for worst performing Premier. This was published in an annual study: Measuring the Fiscal Performance of Canada's Premiers, 2011. That's encouraging but still a major drag on the Canadian economy because of Ontario's size.
A column in todays Financial Post by some of the authors of the study claims that: "during McGuinty’s tenure, program spending has grown 7.1% annually — more than twice the average rate of economic growth (3.2%). If an Ontarian family managed its budget the same way — that is, by increasing spending at double the rate of income growth — it would be on a quick path to ­bankruptcy."
The column continues: "in power, the McGuinty government has accumulated $41-billion in deficits with plenty more to come over the next six years ($68-billion)..........(Premier) McGuinty (is) quick to blame the economic downturn for (the) deficits, the reality is (the) current fiscal woes are primarily the result of excessive spending well before the recession." So will McGuinty change his ways if re-elected? You can bet he will be forced to by our increasingly precarious fiscal position.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Lies my Premier tells me....

Sick of the Liberal ads yet in this oppressively short election campaign? I am. Especially the ones where Doubtless Dalton stands alone spouting....well, untruths. OK, they're lies.

Lie #1. Ontario has North America's First Full Day kindergarten. Not quiet, this article from the New York Times in Sept 1996 shows it's not really a new idea nor is Ontario the first jurisdiction to try it. It's also not really a good idea, check this and this.

Lie #2. If you watch the entire 30 second YouTube video, each statement is "supported" by "footnotes" in the lower right hand corner. Most of the "support" is from the Ontario Ministry of Education about the good job it's doing as the department responsible for education. Hmmm, kind-of-like self appraisal, giving oneself high marks for doing a good job. I would always give myself high marks, especially if I wanted to keep my job. Good support, eh? Another of the supportive footnotes is from McKinsey & Co. an independent word-wide consulting firm. This company had as one of its Canadian consultants one Jim Coutts. Who is Jim Coutts? He was a Secretary to Lester Pearson and Pierre Trudeau, both well know Liberals, you remember. Is it possible that the Canadian arm of McKinsey & Co. that ranked Ontario schools among the best in the world has anything to do with the Liberal Party of Ontario? Like maybe some of the staff are Liberals? No! I'm sure that's not possible.....

Monday, September 12, 2011

Transit Solutions in the GTA - Election Day minus 24

During the course of the Ontario election campaign, I will attempt to post alternative solutions to issues that are important to the campaign. So, below is a posting from Gene Balfour, Libertarian candidate in Thornhill Riding just north of Toronto. The topic is transit, does the government have the only solution, indeed, should the government be involved?

The GTA has recently been declared as the area with the longest commute to work in Canada and it is a top concern for residents, including those in the Thornhill riding .

I have first hand experience with commuting issues and can relate to the concerns of my fellow commuters.

I have lived in Thornhill this past 20 years and in North York the previous 25 years. Since 1978, I have been a regular TTC subway rider. While public transit has been “the better way” for me than commuting by car, I have also run to work, rode my motorcycle to work, taken the bus, and I occasionally drove my car to the office.

Today, people have many options for commuting. These include: walking, running, cycling, using a scooter or motorcycle, car and car-pooling using public roads as well as toll roads (407ETR), bus, street car, subway, commuter train.

What does this tell you? It tells me that people will use the commuting option that best suits their needs and circumstances at any given point in time, and that the commuting issue will be resolved by there becoming available as many viable options as possible - 'viable' being the key word.

There will never be one "silver bullet" that government will find that will satisfy all commuters. Gridlock and long commutes have been top citizen issues for as long as I can remember - if our governments were able to provide the answers, then our commuting issues would have long ago been solved.

It is time for a new approach - one that involves the dismantling of the government monopoly in transportation services that exists today, and opening the flood gates to profit-motivated private sector ideas and solutions.

In simple terms, I would approach this transportation strategy in two ways:

Step 1: Identify the government-imposed deterrents to private sector investment in transportation services, and remove them to create a vibrant and competitive "commuting services sector" in the GTA . This must include the elimination of the many unnecessary transportation regulations that discourage and curtail the creative thinking and capital investments that are needed to address our complex and chronic transportation issues.

Step 2: Notify and engage the business enterprises who possess the know-how and resources to address our transportation issues, and proclaim boldly the Ontario GTA area is enthusiastically seeking businesses who can finally "put to bed" our commuting complaints. It will be very important that allow competition in this new "commuting services sector" to follow its natural course without government meddling so that the forces of competitive options and pricing will keep the costs low. In addition, unionized labour should not be allowed to operate in this sector so as to maintain competitive pricing and service levels.

Free-enterprise entrepreneurial businesses will always trump government monopolies in pricing, service, convenience and quality. Since the industrial revolution, almost all of our most significant technological achievements have come from entrepreneurs whose profit motive has driven them to seek and keep happy customers. Government has had its chance – now its time to let capitalism come to the rescue.

To compliment Gene's message above, I have appended an excellent related video brought to my attention by Andrew Phillips from the Ottawa area. Randal O'Toole, a Senior Fellow at CATO discusses the privatization of transit in US cities. Well worth your time.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Crashing the statist party....

Ontario Election Day minus 25.
My first all-candidates meeting came as much a surprise to me as to my hosts. Just the other day my wife noticed a tiny article in the local paper about this meeting, my name was in the article, so I presumed they were expecting me. They weren't. When I showed up this afternoon at a local Chinese Mall, still no official invite, and no real idea what was going to happen, and no seat at the table, they were surprised. But after a brief discussion/negotiation and their realization that I was not going to get off the stage, they made room. Fortunately I was able to present my two minute speech from a Cable TV taping the day before - perfect for this. Here it is for anyone that needs a quickie intro:
I’m ___your name___, the Libertarian candidate in ___your riding___.

Take a moment and imagine receiving notification that you, and every member of your family, owed $21,000. That is the debt the Government of Ontario will have accumulated on your behalf by the end of this fiscal year. That’s $84,000 for a family of four! That debt has doubled since Dalton McGuinty took office just 8 years ago because spending has doubled. So, is the government twice as effective? Is health care better? Has education improved? Has traffic improved? Where did all this money go?
Everyone understands that monopolies result in increased costs, reduced service, and quality, while competition reduces prices, and improves service. Consider how your electricity bill has gone up – no competition. Consider the sale of liquor, beer, and wine – no competition. How about the long wait times for medical care? Again no competition!
Libertarians would allow a competitive medical care system in Ontario, greater choices in education, and real competition in producing electricity that would reduce your electricity bill. We would remove the government monopoly on the sale of liquor, beer, and wine.
Libertarians realize that government debt is our debt. We would make significant cuts in government spending decreasing the size of government as quickly as possible, including the elimination of many ministries and most of the 630 agencies within our first term. As spending is cut, tax reductions will follow; we can all have more choice about how and where our money is spent. Make a historic choice, choose Libertarian, ___your name___.  Find out more at libertarian dot O-N dot C-A
The meeting topics were: the economy, healthcare and longterm care, helping immigrants settle, education and tuition. There was enough time between each speaking turn for me to come up with a brief speech outline explaining a Libertarian position on each topic. All of the comments were translated into Cantonese in deference to the audience, and I know I scored some points. Culturally the audience, and all the politicians except me,  are attuned to statist solutions for many things. But many of these Chinese are private entrepreneurs and understand where money (wealth) comes from and abhor paying tax and being taxed. It was a good day.   

Friday, September 9, 2011

Change-A-Head, pick your poison!

September 7th marked the first day of the 2011 Ontario Election campaign, the day the writ is issued. Ontario elections are short in time, just 29 days, though this one has been smoldering for months. Public attention is just now starting to focus on the issues and the options.

Dalton McGuinty has, in just eight short years, doubled the per capita debt because spending has doubled in the midst of world economic turmoil. McGuinty has used his majorities in two terms to re-engineer the way electric power is produced and consumed by citizens. The Liberals have bought into the AGW theory hook-line-and-sinker by closing coal-fired generation stations and replacing them with solar panels and windmills. The Liberals are so heavily steeped in eco-fanatasies that they even consider conservation as part of electrical generation, a source of energy! That's a bit like saying that not eating is nourishing.

That is only part of the re-engineering the Liberals have instituted. They think Ontarians should have their choice of pet dog breeds restricted, and they know how best to care for everyone's lawns by restricting the use of weedkillers. They want everyone to quit smoking, or elseThis week junk food has been removed from Ontario schools, and it won't be long before Ontarians are smuggling potato chips across the border (like they do now with weed-killer) because the government does not want people to get fat. At this rate, the Liberals will be legislating our choice in wardrobe soon.

So, if they have doubled the debt and the spending what has improved? Is health care better, with more choice less hassle and better service? No, instead of allowing choice they are cracking down on physicians who charge a bit more for better service. The previous link has a snitch-line so people may inform on their "greedy doctors." The Liberals and their partners are even disciplining physicians for the crime of voluntary fee-for-service. Are the roads better so that traffic is minimized? No, the GTA has the worst traffic anywhere.

Surely the extra spending and debt has improved something. Many billions went to GM and Chrysler to "preserve vital manufacturing jobs." That of course has saved the economy of Ontario and now things are booming, the recovery is in high gear and the future looks rosy. Oh, wait a minute, that's not true either. The "stimulus" spending here and around the world doesn't seemed to have helped. As I write this, Greece looks to be on the verge of default (once again). Spending and debt are problems everywhere, yet somehow the Government of Ontario believes things work differently here.

The picture above came from an idea after I saw an article written for the PC party called: "Change ahead," which referred to their plan to govern the province. It doesn't matter which of those heads is governing the province, the differences are so subtle that none of what I have written about above, would change substantially. Its time for a historic leap of faith. Its time for Ontario to choose a party that will return choice and prosperity to Ontarians. A vote for a Libertarian candidate, will at the very least register a protest that "change-a-head" doesn't work.             

Monday, September 5, 2011

Media panders to ruling incumbents and wannabees

With just days to go before the writ is issued and the 2011 Ontario Election campaign officially begins, the Liberal incumbents are shoring up the immigrant Muslim vote. In the picture on the left Michael ChanMinister for Tourism and Culture and my very own MPP, then Gerry Phillips and Bas Balkisoon on the right. What do these three have in common besides being Liberals? They all have substantial numbers of Muslim voters in their ridings and they are giving away money to a Muslim group. Not just any Muslim group, this one has some issues, but more on that later.
Just as the Liberals are pandering to the ethnic voter, the media, both local and national love pandering to the mainline parties.
Just last week I sent a letter to my local newspaper that was critical of the incumbent Liberals. A quick email response from the editor asked if I was "registered as a candidate?" "Yes," was the answer and I explained that my papers were not official yet. No matter, the letter was not published, too bad.
Of course in every recent edition of that newspaper was a story about the local incumbent Liberals doing this or doing that with tax dollars.
The Liberals have been high on OPM (other people's money) since they took office in 2003 and they have been assisted by the media. The print media in this area is dominated by a company called Torstar. Torstar produces the Toronto Star, often called the Red Star in my circles, and it owns the Metroland Group which coincidentally prints the local newspaper in my neighbourhood.
During elections, incumbent parties spend lots of their cash on ads in these local papers, my local paper has a Liberal ad on almost every page, thats OK, they are spending donations. But on those same pages are glowing stories of the good things that Liberals do and are doing, for this community with OPM, your OPM. My pitiful little letter may have swayed the entire election in my favour....right?
The national news papers are just as guilty of pandering to the main parties. Click this and it will bring you to an op-ed, conveniently placed with 3 days to go before the rules change, of the PC Leader giving his "prudent" plan for getting spending under control. He would slash spending by almost 1% by the end of his first term. Decisive!
Anyway, back to that Muslim group. Here is Ezra Levant on a bit of a rant (that rhymes!), on behalf of the new SUN NEWS channel which isn't exactly mainline media, yet:  

Saturday, September 3, 2011

My latest unpublished "letter" to the Markham Economist

This letter was NOT published in the Markham Economist. Who can read the mind of an editor? Because I am a potential candidate in the upcoming election, the editor chose not to publish this. I understand. So why is it with just days to go before the writ is dropped the local Liberal incumbents are prominently featured in the print editions? Fair is fair.   

Re: Liberals have done positive things Aug. 13, 2011

The glowingly partisan letter from Nima Basharat with just weeks to go before the provincial election distorts the record of Michael Chan and the Liberal Party over the past eight years.
Mr. Basharat outlines some of the “positive things” that Mr. Chan and the Liberals have done for special interest groups with regard to job creation, a discounted energy benefit designed to entice voters, and other minor tweaks that are so easy to do while spending other people’s money.
Make no mistake the Liberals have become very adept at spending other people’s money. When they took office in 2003 Ontario’s debt load was around $140 billion. The Liberal debt projection in the most recent budget is $240 billion in 2011. This is a 70% increase in money spent and owed by the people of Ontario.
What else has had so dramatic an increase in the last eight years? Inflation? No. Your income, I doubt it? How about services? Have schools improved by 70%? No. How about medical services, are the wait lists shorter and the doctors more plentiful? No.
There is one thing that Mr. Basharat and I do agree on. The potential alternatives, PC Leader Tim Hudak and NDP Leader Andrea Horvath, will be just as bad as the Liberals have been.
So where does that leave the Ontario voter? There needs to be a fundamental change in our thinking about the functions of government, otherwise Ontario will follow the European nations and the US into a fiscal crisis that will not end well.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Making the cuts....

Weeks ago I wrote about "The curse of the spendthrift legislators." Governments everywhere in the 'first world' have racked up huge debts, primarily because they have ventured into areas they do not belong. Governments at all levels have some legitimate functions in libertarian philosophy. Most of these proper functions can be classified broadly as protecting our rights without impinging on our liberties, including economic freedoms.
So now that the government spending pendulum has swung too far in the wrong direction everywhere, how can it be reversed?  As an example on a smaller scale, the link above mentions that the City of Toronto has a budget shortfall for next year of three quarters of a billion dollars. So city councillors are faced with cutting costs or raising taxes....a lot. What to do? One of the many suggestions in a report produced by KPMG for the city was to cut library services. You might imagine the hue and cry and that was elicited from the statist community for that one.
Realistically there is no way city government (or any government) will revert to the libertarian ideal in the near future. Our only hope is that government makes moves in the direction of more liberty. Two articles by Larry Solomon of the National Post suggest how this may be done. The first here, deals with the KPMG report and its effect on services. The second here, addresses the library questions and the perception that the cuts will somehow encourage widespread ignorance. Both articles offer interesting alternatives.   

Limited Government in Ontario

In Canada, the US and much of the world, the concept of limited government is as foreign as Martian soil. Ask someone on the street or a friend what is meant by limited government, and you will get contorted faces, quizzical looks and maybe a response like "does it mean they have limited liability." Sadly, no! Governments today somehow believe they are liable, that is, responsible for everything, everything.
That fellow in the picture, Wilfrid Laurier, may have been Canada's last Prime Minister who understood the meaning of limited government.
The video below is my attempt to capture the essence of the Ontario state, its size and scope in under two minutes.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Friday, July 29, 2011

The curse of the spendthrift legislators

"Democracy at its finest," those were the words used by one City of Toronto councillor yesterday in a deputation marathon that lasted 22 hours. The City of Toronto needs to find $775 Million in savings in next years budget (2012), or it will need to raise taxes or cut services or both. Yesterday 334 people had registered to speak in front of City council to plead their case for saving their particular pet service (see picture) or support the cuts. In the end just under 200 got to speak (many just left during the night) and only one of those spoke in favour of cuts to spending. That is a sobering statistic.
This outbreak of parsimony is now wide spread in Western Democracies. In Europe, nations are teetering toward default on their financial obligations. Our American neighbours are in danger of defaulting by next week. At the Provincial and State and municipal levels across North America, governments of all stripes are coming to grips with massive debt, all of this in the midst of a weak recovery from a severe recession. Recession part two could be a result. The chickens are coming home to roost, the curse of the spendthrift legislators threatens everyone.

But look at Toronto, mobs of rent-seekers stepping up to ensure that they are cared for in the way they have become accustomed. "We want our services, and we want someone else to pay for them," that is the message of the debate.
Last October the new Mayor was elected to "stop the gravy train," to stop what he presented as the excessive fluff that citizens were forced to subsidize. He also promised not to cut services, perhaps naively. Certainly there was some fluff, and maybe the Mayor was aware that his promise was just that. The Mayor and council hired independent auditors KPMG, to suss out the "core-services," things that are required (by their definition) in a big city so that the $775 million shortfall could be eliminated without much pain. Right.
So here we are, for me the lesson is clear, despite all the evidence that you might think favours our cause, we are still at the bottom of a mountain. For those that hope that the libertarian utopia is just around the corner, give your head a shake, then take a deep breath, and prepare for a generational fight.        

Thursday, July 28, 2011

"Free our Beer"

A newly released Angus Reid Public Opinion study, done on behalf of the Ontario Convenience Stores Association, shows that a majority of Ontarians (60%) support expanding the provinces alcohol retailing system to allow beer and wine to be sold by more types of retailers. Several other Canadian provinces, including Quebec and Newfoundland already offer the convenience of alcohol in convenience stores.
The LCBO is the Ontario government alcoholic beverage monopoly established in 1927 after a brief attempt at alcohol prohibition.
Whenever the LCBO comes up in conversation among friends (I'm the one bringing up the topic) I get a new appreciation for the psychological term Stolkholm syndrome where you eventually empathize with your captors, in this case your government captors.
Friends, and likely most of my fellow citizens, support the LCBO monopoly because they claim (based on government and union sources) that it brings in revenue for the province. That's reassuring, even the government can't screw this up. Good, the government stores sell beer, wine, and liquor to the exclusion of most competition and they make a profit! Whoop-dee-do! It's a classic case of looking at just one side of the economic equation (for all you Austrians). The citizens of Ontario are taxed heavily for alcoholic beverages, and the government also fixes the price and eliminates competition, and they make profit. How hard is that? Of course they do.
So a run-of-the-mill case of 24 beer cans in Niagara Falls Ontario will cost about $40 (Canadian and US dollar are now roughly at par including bank fees) at the LCBO, and across the imaginary line in Niagara Falls New York, at the Walmart, it costs $18, thats right Walmart, $18. Never mind that my friends (and everyone else) make sure to buy liquor at the duty-free store or in the States every time they cross the border, they are not so supportive of the government then.
So why if the LCBO is one of the largest bulk buyers of alcohol in the world (it is) don't we Ontarians get a better price? Several reasons. LCBO is one of the largest social engineering organizations in the world too. As part of the Ontario nanny-state-syndrome, our political masters don't think people are smart enough to handle their liquor, so we get a guilt message each time we purchase. High price is part of the social engineering or as they call it euphemistically "social responsibility."
Click to enlarge
Second, there is little competition. The LCBO claims it has competition, their own pie chart to the right shows that only(!) half the market share of sales belongs to LCBO. The Beer Store is also a monopoly, albeit a private monopoly sanctioned by the government (some competition!) to sell beer. So >77% of beer and liquor is controlled by monopoly, notice that almost 10% is "illegal." Yeah, right, lots of competition. I love this section written on the LCBO website:

"The LCBO also competes for “share of wallet” – money that consumers may decide to spend with other retailers for things like Christmas gifts or pizza and a movie instead of a bottle of wine with dinner. (Lots of choice folks!)
So it’s important that customers visit our stores because they want to, not because they have to. Unlike other retailers, however, we can’t offer deep price discounts. That would not be socially responsible." 
(my emphasis - see what I mean by social engineering?)

No, I'm not making this up, that wouldn't be socially responsible!
A third reason why we don't get better prices is that the Ontario government has a monopoly agreement with the LCBO workers through their union OPSEU.
Imagine a mom-and-pop variety store selling all sorts of stuff including beer and liquor in the States. They make a living if they compete with other retail outlets, but there is no guarantee of salary, it depends on their ability to compete etc. etc. Not true at the LCBO. A store manager makes over $61,000 annually in a 40 hour week with great benefits (see page 90 of the OPSEU collective agreement). I have nothing against unions, but why would you pay a cashier $55,000 plus benefits annually? What special skill does it take to make change?
 So ladies and gentlemen, do you really like spending MORE than you have to on your alcoholic beverages? Me? I'd rather keep the extra money so I can buy other stuff or just save it, wouldn't you?
I've created a little video for my election campaign, have a look:

Monday, July 11, 2011

Green Power? An ideology.

From the excellent parody website:

One of my pet peeves, and there aren't that many, occurs when members of the statist media, or Statists themselves refer to libertarian friendly comments as "ideological." So when Canadian P.M. Stephen Harper, no libertarian he, advocated the removal of the mandatory long form 2011 Census, or the removal of the per voter government subsidy to federal political parties, he was reviled for being ideological. This was coming from statists who somehow felt THEY were not being ideological. Of course not, they were just repeating the media bullshit (we call that the CBC here) and supporting the dominant paradigm.
What is that dominant paradigm? Essentially its one or other form of collectivism, socialist, communist, fascist, Liberal, Conservative, it doesn't matter they are the pretty much all the same expect in degree.
So here is another election ad, this one about windmills and the ideology of environmentalism. It fits in with other forms of collectivism only its green on the outside and kinda red inside.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Dying to see the doctor in Ontario

Notwithstanding high taxes, enormous expenditures, and many promises, the standard of health care services provided by successive Ontario governments has continued to deteriorate.  Medicare cannot be continued without changes from the current form of unrestrained demand for “free” services coupled with central bureaucratic planning and government mandated supply restrictions.  Growing private sector involvement will help, but competitively priced, widely accessible, high quality health care will only be available for everyone to the extent state involvement is eliminated.  Since this cannot be accomplished overnight without some short term hardship, transition measures will be needed.  However, ultimately everyone will be personally responsible for their own health care in a libertarian free market system.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Need a dose of freedom?

This looks promising, maybe.
Gerry Nicholls has announced "a new promote and protect conservative values.....called ."  He writes: "I want to provide a principled, non-partisan voice for the conservative ideals of smaller government, free markets and individual liberty. My hope is this site will help win the war of ideas and mobilize Canadian conservatives to push our political parties in the right direction."
On the website the 'About us' says:
 "A strictly non-partisan site, is dedicated to promoting, defending and celebrating our economic, political and individual freedoms. Its aim is to offset the anti-market bias so prevalent among the mainstream media, political parties and special interest groups and to raise awareness about the moral underpinnings and principles of democratic capitalism and individual liberty. In short, this site is for Canadians who believe our country needs less government and more freedom."

Sounds good right? Here is my problem: since when are smaller government, free markets and individual liberty conservative values?

The word "conservative" is liberally sprinkled all over this website, over and over again. I did a word search for "libertarian" and three articles came up, but none of them actually used the word libertarian, none. So what's up with that? Does strictly non-partisan mean strictly not libertarian, but conservative is OK? Don't words mean anything anymore? Does this new site advocate keeping the status quo? Isn't that what the non-partisan word 'conservative' means?
The dictionary definition of the adjective conservative as in the phrase "conservative values" where conservative modifies values is: conservative (adjective) - disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditional ones, and to limit change. OK, maybe "restore traditional" values, that works, but who is there in Canada that remembers those values?  By the way the libertarian movement is all about limiting government not limiting change as conservative implies.

Yes, this website looks interesting, even promising. My advice to Gerry and any other writers on this site is that the word libertarian as an adjective actually means "advocating liberty or conforming to principles of liberty." Isn't that closer to the ideals of smaller government, free markets and individual liberty? I think so. Use the damn word!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Making a difference

In the federal election just passed, the number of rejected ballots in Markham-Unionville beat my total as the local Libertarian candidate, again. But this time it was closer. I’m not discouraged because I know I made a difference. People don’t necessarily vote for or against a particular individual or party, so I don’t feel slighted in any way with only 0.5% of the popular vote.

As a case in point, look at the NDP surge in Quebec and elsewhere. One young NDP candidate never set foot in her riding, had no election signs or campaign office, spent a week of the campaign vacationing in Las Vegas, and was virtually invisible, but won her election handily. Effectively she was a “paper candidate,” riding on the coat tails of her leader, Jack Layton. The Harper majority has presented her with a four-year contract and an annual salary of $157,731 plus perks, just for showing up; not bad for agreeing to help out her party. She obviously made a difference with very little effort. For the NDP it was important to field candidates in every riding across the country for the sake of credibility, even if their candidates were not credible themselves. Helping the party is one important lesson for Libertarian candidates and potential candidates in the upcoming Ontario Provincial election.

For all the considerable effort that I put forth in this election campaign, my vote count barely budged from my 2008 results. It was not for lack of trying. I had an unpopular package to sell the voters of Markham-Unionville. Some day, in the future, that package may look more attractive to voters, but not yet.

This campaign was my second attempt. This time I had signs throughout the riding, attended “all-candidates debates” (except where I was involved with other party matters), I was profiled on the local cable channel, and local newspaper, had a widely heard radio interview on a Toronto Rock station, I used social media like my blogs, Facebook, and Twitter. I also had short YouTube clips online, and a website dedicated to the election campaign. I campaigned with pamphlets from door-to-door and in public areas.
Did it have an effect?
Well it certainly did not translate to votes. However, on several occasions people that I met on the campaign told me that they saw my signs, but didn’t know what the Libertarian Party represented, or more often, they had never heard of the party before. The point is, now they have. No party wins voter trust instantly, and it takes repetition and familiarity; look at the NDP story.

This year is the 50th Anniversary of the creation of the NDP, and it has taken 50 years of repetitive collectivist rhetoric and thinking for them to achieve the trust of a large percentage of the electorate. Over 30% of voters across Canada (much improved from 18% in 2008) chose an NDP candidate in this election, making the NDP the official opposition for the first time. In those 50 years Canada has changed enormously from a nation that accepted a relatively limited role for government with emphasis on individual, family and community responsibility. The current paradigm in Canada, is one where government should do as much as possible for as many as possible. This happened in a slow but steady evolution, with the assistance of politicians that pandered to the public sector unions, corporations, and was abetted by the public school system, and the mainstream media.   

The other important lesson we Libertarians should take to heart is the role of leadership. If we are going to act like a political party and ask people to vote for us, they need a face, and a persona to go with the party name. The NDP example demonstrates my point; look at what Jack Layton accomplished. In ridings all over the country, disenchanted Liberal and Bloc voters chose NDP candidates sight unseen. That will not happen to us necessarily, but an effective leader allows the generally lazy mainstream media to zero in on one individual who can deliver the message for us all.   

We have much to offer to a thinking electorate. We are the only party where principles of freedom would direct policy.  The only party that openly advocates free enterprise, reduced spending, reduced government, and actually means it. The problem is we are few, and it will take each of us to make a difference, but make no mistake, you can if you try.

The above article originally appeared in The Libertarian Bulletin, The Newsletter of the Ontario Libertarian Party Summer 2011, Vol. 31 No. 4