Friday, March 28, 2008

Federal - Provincial Relations

Well, today the Prime Minister has thrown up the white flag and appears to be calling for a truce with Ontario. Previously promised federal funds in the amount of $709 million have now been freed up to assist Ontario’s financing of their public transit, hiring of more police and helping workers in industries hit by the high dollar. This means that the Prime Minister has ordered the federal finance minister, Jim Flaherty, who has been leading the attack on Ontario, to back off. I congratulate the Prime Minister on this decision to return to cooperative relations with the province of Ontario.

Saskatchewan should not feel left out as the Prime Minister’s recent visit to Saskatchewan also contained financial considerations. The Government of Canada will contribute $240 million, in trust after legislation is passed, to the Province of Saskatchewan for the funding of clean coal technology. These funds will be matched with $758 million from SaskPower to partner with industry on clean coal and reduce Saskatchewan emissions by an estimated million tones a year and generate 100 megawatts of clean power according to the Prime Minister.

Getting out of political bickering and getting on with governing is good for the Prime Minister and good for Canada. Hats off to the PM on this one.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Flaherty - McGuinty Scrap

The constant intrusion by the federal conservative finance minister, Jim Flaherty into the economic affairs of the province of Ontario is unreasonable at the very least. More interesting is that Flaherty’s regular bickering with Dalton McGuinty; Premier of Ontario, is apparently directed by Stephen Harper.

Now you really have to ask how much sense that makes? The Harper conservatives need the support of Ontario if they hope to form a majority government at the next federal election. Harper has long professed the need for federal and provincial governments to work cooperatively in the best interests of all Canadians. Harper’s actions contradict his words in many provinces and especially vote rich Ontario. It is believed that Harper’s strategy of making provincial liberals in Ontario look bad on how they manage their economy will boost the nations image of how Harper conservatives are managing the federal economy.

Harper has consistently been at odds with Dalton McGuinty. It hasn’t worked as McGuinty only months ago defeated John Tory, the leader of the conservatives in Ontario at the last provincial election. The federal conservatives scrap with provincial Ontario liberals may be costing Harper votes in a province he must win if he wants to be the Prime Minister after the next election.

It may be a stretch, but imagine this headline in the papers after the next federal election. “Dion Triumphant over Harper.” Now wouldn’t that be Harper’s worst nightmare? Well, stranger things have happened in the wacky world of politics.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Housing Problems

Will the housing problems in the US become a similar problem in Canada? Well, I hope not, but what has happened in the US? As reported, many homebuyers had no obligations regarding their home until construction was completed. It was then appraised upon completed construction based on what it would sell for in the current market. This tended to encourage people to build homes in excess of their needs. Worse yet was that home mortgages were higher than if they were based on the market at the time of construction if the markets and interest rates were on the rise. Homeowners were then left with a home they couldn’t make payments on if the interest rates went up and often ended up losing their newly built home.

Financing practices by financial institutions both in the US and Canada cater to the natural inclination of people to often strive to finance what they don’t need and can’t afford. This fault of humankind to finance their way to equality with the rich and famous is a recipe for financial disaster. When will people learn that you must repay what you have borrowed or your creditors will take it away?

Unfortunately, in many cases, the banks employ people who are good at encouraging you to finance beyond your needs and ability to repay. It is here where the banks get the upper hand and your first step to financial ruin has just been taken.

Interestingly, people in both the US and Canada have become increasingly untrusting of their politicians and their governments. For many years consumers have placed too much trust in the banks. Are they really acting in your interests or their own? I will leave that for you to answer, but it is time to be less trusting.

The housing crisis in the US is not confined to them alone. Yes, it can happen here and it can happen to you unless you can predict the markets and interest rates. Good luck!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Tim Horton's Brier

This past week the Tim Horton’s Brier provided us with some of the best curling on the planet earth. TSN coverage was excellent. Kevin Martin and his team representing Alberta came out on top winning Sunday’s final against Glen Howard’s team representing Ontario. Strangely, CBC’s coverage of the final on Sunday interviewed Glen Howard after the game, but failed to give this year’s champion, Kevin Martin any coverage after the game. It would seem only logical that you would first interview the winner and maybe others after that if airtime permitted. CBC always seems to find new ways to get you going. Maybe it is CBC that should be going.

Regardless, the point of my letter is to speak to the outstanding performance of Pat Simmons and his team representing Saskatchewan. They were professionals all the way and the real champions of my heart. A picked rock cost Pat Simmons a spot in Sunday’s final, but Pat handled it in stride and made us all proud. They are our champions. I congratulate them on their fine performance at the Tim Horton’s Brier and wish them all the best and better luck next year.

Finally, congratulations to the Kevin Martin team for their perfect record. I wish them all the best as they now represent Canada at the World Cup. Bring it home Kevin!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Harper Rules

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is running this country. Democracy is barely existent. A nation ruled by a Prime Minister seemingly obsessed with power cannot be good for Canadians. The House of Commons and its committees are irrelevant and dysfunctional. The Senate is the only aspect of Canada’s parliamentary system of government that Stephen Harper has not yet been able to control, but he has tried.

Recent media reports have indicated the PM’s Chief of Staff, Ian Brodie, is cut from the same cloth as Stephen Harper. Not my kind of cloth. Brodie is Harper’s strong man who has reportedly reduced cabinet ministers to tears. Think of it! Your elected MP is being brought to tears, or ordered by the PM’s office on how they should represent you and the consequences if they don’t follow orders. I believe it is wrong for the PM’s staff to have more power than your Member of Parliament. This is not leadership; it is an abuse of power.

Peter Milliken, the Speaker of the House of Commons is on record stating that, “Partisan political antics are pushing Ottawa's parliamentary committees – where the country's laws are first debated and considered, to the brink of anarchy.”

I have worked long and hard for conservatives for over forty years, including the Harper conservatives. It is Stephen Harper and his chosen few, like Ian Brodie, who are giving me cause for regrets. Yes, Stephen Harper rules, not your elected Member of Parliament.