Monday, February 28, 2011

Amber Holland Team Wins

Amber Holland and her teammates were fittingly all heart at this years’ Tournament of Hearts curling championship. All week they were the heart of Saskatchewan curling fans and the entire province. The Holland team proved they had heart on every shot of every game. This included the final against the famed Jennifer Jones wearing the Team Canada colors. In sports, as in life, it is heart that gives you the courage to believe that you can attain your goals.

The Holland team gave up three in the first end and trailed 6-3 at the fifth end break. They had their backs to the wall against arguably one of the best teams to ever play the game. The Holland team never lost heart as they fought back with three in the sixth end with a dramatic shot by Holland to even the score 6-6. This was the turning point. The Jones team realized it was game on having to contend with the heart and courage of Amber Holland and her teammates.

In the final 10th end Amber Holland made another spectacular shot to draw behind cover and lay shot rock. She forced a difficult last rock of the game shot on her opponent. It was missed and Saskatchewan’s Amber Holland emerged victorious at this years’ Tournament of Hearts.

Congratulations to Amber Holland and her entire team. You’re all heart!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Economic Action Plan

The federal conservative government now holds the largest deficit in Canadian history. To counter this the Prime Minister has ordered 70 MPs, ministers and senators to fan out across the country to tell Canadians how well they are managing the economy. The idea is to push the merits of the government’s Economic Action Plan.

It will be a hard sell. Some argue it has driven the country too far in debt. Some argue the Action Plan was too late getting off the ground during the recession and then arguably favored conservative ridings. The government argues up the middle that the Action Plan has created some 460,000 jobs and pulled Canada out of the recession. Out of the recession and into debt. The nation’s total debt now stands tall at over 560 billion and the latest budget rang up a $55.6 billion deficit.

The government argues that profits in Canada’s corporate sector are continuing to show strong growth as an indication that Canada’s economy is recovering. The conservative government also plans to cut taxes for large corporations already posting huge profits.

The federal government is expected to run their next election campaign on the economy. How the government manages your tax dollars is an important matter. Now would be a good time to call your MP and express your economic concerns.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Multi Purpose Sport Complex

PPP Canada is a Crown Corporation recently established to support the development of public-private partnerships (P3) and facilitate the development of the Canadian P3 market. The Government of Canada established a $1.2 billion fund that is managed by PPP Canada to support P3 infrastructure projects.

P3 funding is the federal government’s mandate to develop the Canadian market for public-private partnerships for the supply of public infrastructure in the public interest.

Is a multi purpose sport complex part of our infrastructure? Roads, bridges, sewer systems, water treatment and the like are what the average person views as infrastructure. These are the types of projects that are viewed by the general public as being in the public interest. Will the public view a sport complex as a public infrastructure that is in the public interest? If the public informed themselves of the P3 Funding details they would be better positioned to answer that question. Linking the removal of the rail lines that run through the City of Regina with the construction of a new sport complex capable of accommodating the Saskatchewan Roughriders would better qualify a multi purpose sport complex under the P3 funding program.

If a new multi purpose sport complex goes ahead it must be financially sustainable without government funding for it’s continual operation. The creation of a management board including all the major funding partners with the power to establish a professional management executive for the sport complex would seem to be one way to assure the proposed complex is sustainable over the years. Unfortunately, this whole matter is reduced to building a new stadium for the Saskatchewan Roughriders. The discussion needs to be more about a total infrastructure project that is in the public interest. Good luck with this Saskatchewan!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Bev Oda

Bev Oda, Minister responsible for International Cooperation is taking the fall for a CIDA funding project “NOT” approved.  The question should not be so much who inserted the word “NOT.”  The question should be more who ordered the insertion.  Bev Oda doesn’t strike anyone as a person capable of such malicious contempt for the office she holds.  She has made a confession in parliament and is the “fall person” in this matter.  Bev Oda is one small cog in a very big wheel that drives parliament and the government of Canada.  Is there more to this story than a three-letter word?  Either way it reflects badly on Parliament and the Government of Canada.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Egypt under Military Rule

The courageous demonstrations of the people of Egypt have secured their goal.  President Mubarak is out and the administration of the country is now under military rule.  Now we will see how this will play out on the world stage.  Egypt under Mubarak has been, although repressive, on good relations with the US and Israel.  There is now a new dimension in Egypt and, for that matter, the whole middle east region.  I suspect there will be tensions until time tells if the consequences of the demonstrations will work for Egypt, the region and the rest of the world.  Read more

TMX/LSE Merger

Is the proposed merger between the principal stock exchanges of Britain and Canada in our best interests? Right out of the gate most commentators made the claim that it is simply what we should expect out of the ever-increasing global economy. Any thoughts that the Prime Minister and his government may intervene to put the brakes on the merger of Canada’s TMX Group Inc. (TMX) and Britain’s London Stock Exchange PLC (LSE) seems out of the question at this point. On the long haul I am not so sure.

There is no question that Canada will surrender more control than the Brits. And who can imagine the Brits surrendering control of their principal equities? Turning over control of our financial interests and especially securities regulation to another country seems not to be in our interests. Tight regulation of our banking sector diminished the effect of the recent recession. A fact proudly proclaimed by the Prime Minister. The same principles of regulation should apply to this proposed merger.

Canadian politicians intervened to stop the sale of Potash Corp. and stopped plans to sell our famed Canadarm assets to US interests. These moves by our government were widely approved by Canadians. Is it time for our government to once again step in to protect Canadian interests?

I may be out on the limb on this issue, but this proposed TMX/LSE merger is not a done deal. I am suspect of LSE’s track record on mergers and so too should be our government and Canadians. We need to ask what will be the long-term benefits for Canada? Is it in our interests?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Gas Tax

It has generally been accepted over the years that government taxes on gasoline should be used for road construction and repair or other infrastructure projects. The federal government’s expected plans to change the rules as to how these taxes can be used may apparently fund a major NHL hockey arena in Quebec City.

Currently, cities and towns can access a shared fund of over $2 billion from the federal gas taxes you pay when you fill up at the pumps. Municipalities have the right to choose how they spend these funds. Until now the government has been clear that the funds are to be used for infrastructure projects like roads, sewers and water treatment systems. Apparently, federal government plans to change the rules will expand what municipal projects qualify to access the gas tax fund.

I expect there will be problems if a municipality funds entertainment projects with the gasoline tax. Especially, when they hike your taxes to fund repairs and improvements for roads, sewers and water treatment facilities. Does it make sense to fund entertainment facilities with gas tax revenue in the face of deteriorating infrastructures across the country? Watch for this issue at the next election and you decide.  Read more

Changes to CPP

Important changes to the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) deserve your attention if you are nearing retirement.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

History of American Foreign Policy

This excellent video provides an insight into the history of foreign policy.  In many ways it details through various US Presidents how we came to arrive at where we are today.  The US has had an immense influence on the numerous world conflicts that have occurred over the years.  It also explains, in part, what caused the US to be involved in so many conflicts.  Of interest to Canadians is that as goes the US so goes Canada.

A security strategy for the North American continent is the new priority.  This has brought us to the discussions Prime Minister, Stephen Harper has just concluded with President Obama.  These discussions will begin the process for new arrangements to secure the border between Canada and the US to protect against terrorism.  Secondly, it will set agreements in place for how trade between Canada and the US can move freely without any sacrifice to US national security.

Canadians should be asking what is at stake and what issues are on the table for discussions.  At some point the Prime Minister has an obligation to Canadians to disclose what measures are being considered and how they may affect Canadians.  I don't think that is too much for Canadians to expect from their Prime Minister.

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