If we’re cutting useless things in Ottawa

WELLS: It’s time to fire half the cabinet

Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Finally, the serious business of tearing down the Canadian federal state has begun.

The opening shots in these great battles are always so nondescript. Mighty oaks from tiny acorns grow. And in much the same way, the business of cramming the mighty oak of overgrown government back into an acorn starts with a little hedge trimming. And so it is the long-form census questionnaire that forms the first beachhead of the Harper government’s assault on big government.

It took a while. Federal program spending grew from $175 billion in 2005 to $229 billion in 2009. Truly, this is liberty’s darkest hour. But in the fight for freedom, one lonely soldier has never budged from his foxhole, except sometimes to chase foxes, but that’s another story.

Two years ago I was told, by a senior public servant and by a former employee in Maxime Bernier’s political office, that the randy MP from the Beauce had taken a particular dislike to the work of Statistics Canada when he was named industry minister in 2006. It’s StatsCan, after all, that asks citizens prying questions. It’s census data that are used as a basis for program design. And, too often, it’s census data that are used to judge the success of government programs against observable fact instead of random guesswork.

If you’re like me and Max Bernier, you’re not afraid to call all this by its real name: Communism. “Fundamentally,” Bernier wrote the other day on the Western Standard’s Shotgun Blog, “my position is that whatever the presumed usefulness of these data, I don’t believe it justifies forcing people to answer intrusive questions about their lives, under threat from a fine or jail time if they don’t.”

Sometimes the future is so shiny and new we hardly dare gaze upon its face. But here was the brave new world in all its freedom-loving glory: a deposed former cabinet minister, writing on the website of a defunct magazine, about a soon-to-be-discredited federal program. Unscrew the doors themselves from their jambs! I love the smell of napalm in the morning.

But here’s the thing: the revolution must not end here. Once we’re done gutting the census—sorry, I mean scattering the quinquennial bean-counting armies of tyranny—it will be time to move on to the next hill. What on Earth can the Harper government do for an encore?
At first I thought we could eliminate the penny. Do you have spare change in your bedroom? I knew it! The state will get in there any way they can! But once again, that’s small change. Forgive the pun. It’s time to think bigger. It’s time to fire half the cabinet.

Fundamentally, my position is that whatever the presumed usefulness of these people, I don’t believe it justifies forcing people to pay for their chauffeured cars and putting up with their really bad imitations of competent administrators. When we roll back the state, let’s roll it right over this crew:

Josée Verner. Who? Precisely. She’s the minister of intergovernmental affairs, president of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and minister for La Francophonie. Already that title is way too long. And yet teams of scientists working in underground caverns with sensitive instruments can find no evidence that she works for a living. Her website shows that the minister responsible for federal-provincial relations has visited two provincial capitals, Quebec City and Toronto, in 2010, and that she has given no speech worth preserving since 2009. If she were fired tomorrow nobody would never notice. Don’t believe me? Let’s find out.

John Baird. The minister of transport. Have you flown in an airplane lately? After emptying your briefcase, displaying your lotions and ointments to a line of uniformed strangers, and enduring a random pat-down at the hands of security agents who flunked out of charm school, filling out a long-form census questionnaire starts to look like a monastery retreat in comparison.

Jason Kenney, Vic Toews and Peter MacKay. The ministers of immigration, public safety and defence. Because if you think a questionnaire is an invasion of your privacy, just try to imagine what a refugee-board hearing, a jailhouse or an infantry battalion could do.

Jim Prentice. The minister of the environment. Because who is he kidding?

Lawrence Cannon. The minister of foreign affairs. Because how do we keep track of all those teeny countries? We ask them. And we have no right to pry like that.

Tony Clement. The minister of industry. Because (a) he still administers the agricultural long-form census, which is as bad as the general long-form census, plus it has cows; (b) since Max Bernier is able to set policy from the backbenches, how hard can it be?; (c) just look at the guy. He’s dying up there.

Jim Flaherty. The minister of finance. Taxes. Spends. No good can come of this.
When it’s over, and the jackboot of the state has finally been pried from the neck of the law-abiding taxpayer, we’ll wonder how we ever put up with such pervasive tyranny. We’ll be 33 million people living in liberty. Give or take a few million.




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If we’re cutting useless things in Ottawa

  1. " …. by a senior public servant and by a former employee in Maxime Bernier's political office, that the randy MP from the Beauce had taken a particular dislike to the work of Statistics Canada when he was named industry minister in 2006."

    I heard you talking about this on The National last night, I thought you and Kady raised good points by the way, and I can totally relate to distaste Bernier must have felt when he learned that he was in charge of StatsCan. Two reasons why I would blow up StatsCan if I ever become minister (God help you all) :

    1) There is causation/correlation to introduction of long-form census in 1971 and people's declining faith in government. All the Big Government types talking about using stats to craft great programs has nothing to do with reality and lots to do with fantasy. Government is good at stealing money and transferring it to others – and that's it.

    2) I think of Nazis and other socialists/fascists who also kept track of people (I don't think this is going to happen here – I know perfectly well I am kook – no need to bring up Godwin's Law)
    ———————–
    "Jason Kenney, Vic Toews and Peter MacKay. The ministers of immigration, public safety and defence. Because if you think a questionnaire is an invasion of your privacy, just try to imagine what a refugee-board hearing, a jailhouse or an infantry battalion could do."

    I think most Libertarians or classic liberals would want these three to remain while rest of Ministries could be easily eliminated. Government should exist – not just as large as it is now – and immigration/control of borders, law/order, defence are vital functions of state.

    I keep on reading snarky columns and comments about libertarians from liberals, progressives and the like but no one explains why we deserve scorn. Human beings managed to live and prosper for tens of thousands of years without government being in charge of every aspect of our lives. It has been only the past 50 years or so since vast majority of people decided to embrace learned helplessness and demand government micro-manage people.

    We need to reintroduce the Protestant Work Ethic that was once dominant in Rest of Canada and Canadian greatness will be restored. Live free or die!

    • Is this your public declaration/coming out that you're a member of Canada's Tea Party movement? :)

      • " …. Canada's Tea Party movement?"

        I wish there was Tea Party movement, particularly outside of Alberta. I think Tea Party movement will amount to no more than a few men and their dogs (not including Alberta). Canadians have no tradition of thinking of themselves as citizens, we prefer to be subjects.

        • Seems to me like you prefer being a subject to your own delusions.

        • are you still unable to stay on topic?

    • Sorry, but "don't bring up Godwin" is no defense for getting there in the very first post. Not to mention "stealing money and transferring it to others"– there is no such thing as society, there are only individuals, right berg? Sheesh.

    • There may be other factors contributing to the decline of the long-form and people's faith in government that may be completely unrelated. The decline in the number of pirates is also correlated to global warming. Anyway, in order to make this claim, you'd need some pretty good statistics to demonstrate it. I can't imagine where you might be able to get such information…

      You know who else likes to keep track of people? Phone books. They're big long lists of people's names and phone numbers. Some even include addresses! All phone books are Nazis and need to be stopped!

      • Oh, and as far as "Human beings managed to live and prosper for tens of thousands of years without government being in charge of every aspect of our lives. It has been only the past 50 years or so since vast majority of people decided to embrace learned helplessness and demand government micro-manage people" goes, I'd argue the opposite. For the majority of human history, people have lived in oppressive dictatorships that restricted freedom in pretty much every possible way. A huge number of people, in virtually every ancient society, were serfs or slaves who had no rights or freedoms to speak of. Indeed, the whole concepts of individual rights and freedoms have only been really developed to a significant extent in the last few centuries.

        • Actually if you go back further, before humans and their ancesters learned to operate within social contracts (that restricted their individual rights) they ate a lot of grubs.

          So perhaps

          Live FREE, eat GRUBS!

        • I think bergkamp assumes that, as a superior being, s/he would be in the ruler, not the serf, class so rights and freedoms would not be an issue.

      • "Anyway, in order to make this claim, you'd need some pretty good statistics to demonstrate it."

        Bergkamp, above: "Canadians have no tradition of thinking of themselves as citizens, we prefer to be subjects."

        Bergkamp doesn't believe in data, he thinks for himself. The rest of us, the Reality-Based Community, are just sheep.

    • Surely you don't believe in this bizarre version of history. You must be the joke poster on here.

      • Isn't this the blackest pot ever calling the kettle black?

    • Sometimes I find myself wishing you'd make that choice already.

        • Sorry, I try not to give things more respect than they deserve.

          …I expect I failed in this case.

    • keep on reading snarky columns and comments about libertarians from liberals, progressives and the like but no one explains why we deserve scorn.

      Most of the snark has little to do with libertarian philosophy and everything to do with the melodramatic (and hypocritical) commentary coming from the Cabinet. I wouldn't feel too singled out.

    • Yes, they also had a life expectancy of about 40.

    • Awesome comment bergkamp.

    • There is causation/correlation to introduction of long-form census in 1971 and people's declining faith in government.

      It's weak at best and completely spurious at worst. Remember, the trouble with causation (in its most basic sense, statistically speaking) is that we can't establish direction, and because the formula by which it's calculated is based on common occurrences, I can just as easily calculate a correlation between the number of MPs in the house and declining trust in government, the number of cars on the road and declining trust in government, and the number of stars in the sky and declining trust in government. Causation has to pass the sniff test before we can go proclaiming "the Census kills our trust in government"!

      • There you go, spoiling the fun by insisting on evidentiary connections again. Don't you see, eliminating reliable statistical data allows politicians to say whatever they wish and whomever says it loudest, into the most microphones, wins.

        In terms of causality though, this decision on the long form census form has caused me to think twice before believing anything Tony Clement has to say about anything.

        • I bet bergkamp was born in 1971. Now there's causation I could believe in.

      • I'm not sure about that last one Lynn.. I'm thinking the stars are a tad more constant.

    • As a sign of good faith bergkamp, why don't you start paying your own medical bills from now on.

    • I guess it's true what they say — a libertarian is someone who wants to eliminate all government ministries except for the punitive ones.

    • Why then, was a Jewish woman so disturbed when she found out that Harper had her on a list somewhere, knew her name, her middle name, and surname, and knew she was Jewish? He sent her a Rosh Hashanah card, and she found it very creepy. It was in the news – remember? Seems that Harper is going to keep his own lists. especially lists of those who have annoyed him, and made him toe the line in Parliament – like Milliken.

      I can't believe anyone walking around on 2 legs supposedly, could be so stupid, as to not know that this information is ANONYMOUS.

      You need to go live somewhere in China for a while. Seriously.

      • From October 2007

        "…The federal Conservative party's central database is set up to track the confidential concerns of individual constituents without their knowledge or consent, says a former Tory MP…"
        http://blog.privacylawyer.ca/2007/10/tory-databas… versions of Chirstian government

        So the Conservatives are quite willing to invade your privacy for their own partisan ends.

        • Oops, forgot to delete some words from a different post: "versions of Chirstian government" doesn't belong

    • Paul Wells has a great point, let's not stop with the shrinking the size of cabinet, let's quickly repeat the Liberal cuts in Health, Education and Social Services and offloading to the provinces.

      The central theme for the anti-Harper crowd is the fear mongering in Canada is returning to the dark ages and the loss of their entitlements. They like to talk about social justice and rising of all boats nonsense but audit after audit proves the "progressive" fat cats don't share like their milk.

      How many job losses in PSAC? Pick an NGO or the U.N. Agency examine their salaries, expenses of the management and the Union Executive.

      Did the opposition parties deliver on the accountability into the spending in Parliament and the Board of Internal Economy in 2010?

      Did Liberals block Derek Lee from testifying in committee?

      "It is only right that the activities of all those who represent Canadians in Parliament be as open and transparent as possible," said Day. "That is why we are proposing to expand the scope of the Lobbying Act so that all members of Parliament, senators and exempt staff in the offices of the leader of the opposition would be subject to the same requirements already placed on ministers, their exempt staff and senior public servants."

      Read more: http://www.calgaryherald.com/Lobbyist+restriction

  2. I am outraged that you would suggest this. This is madness! Anarchy! How can you think this would ever work? Have you taken leave of your senses? Are you familar with the meaning of the word TREASON and the penalties for committing acts of treason and sedition? I mean, even a jaded and cynical journalist wouldn't write something like this. Even if he reckoned that the Harper government had mishandled a file in an incredibly hamfisted and disastrous manner, and that the best way to express that opinion was to be as sarcastic as poss…. Oh. nevermind.

  3. Wells is acting like the rest of the idiots that occupy the Parliamentary Press Gallery…they are all drinking from the same bath water.

    If making a form voluntary versus mandatory is the end of the federation as we know it then we are in a lot more trouble than we think.

    Poor Wells and the rest of the tribe. They know Harper is going to win the next election and they are terrified he will move away from the nanny state and bring some reality back to what government is all about. It is not looking after people from cradle to grave government.

    Wells should come back to reality. However without this kind of thinking he will not be invited onto the left wing political panel discussions. Take a holiday Wells. You obviously need one. Join your friend Greg Weston.

    • lame, lame, lame… come on, this wit didn't lever a single smile from your sourpuss? why do you even bother coming back here day after day?

    • Hollinm wrote: drinking from the same bath water

      That's suspicious.

      Doesn't the Conservative Commenters Style Guide require use of the phrase "drinking the kool-aid?"

      Also, there was no reference to "throwing [name here] under the bus" or "give your head a shake."

      Conclusion: that's not the real hollinm.

      • Agreed, the acceptable grammar and use of punctuation instead of going on and on from one point to the next in an endless tirade about how Canada is great but all screwed up by lefties who are a tiny minority but control the press absolutely and why not focus on Ignatieff and his bus problems
        was a dead giveaway.

        • see jarrid below.

    • "Drinking from the same bath water." While we're mixing our metaphors, I'd say they're all throwing the baby under the same bus.

    • "…Wells should come back to reality…" Wow, didn't you choke a little, writing that?

      "…Join your friend Greg Weston…" Aha! hollinm = Kory Teneycke!

    • Damn, what nerve eh? Freedom of speech, liberty, except for Wells and other media folks.

      Do you not see your contradiction here?

      Why are you so afraid of them?

  4. Hyperbole, a lack of insight and no real solution offered.

    Well done.

    • actually I think there's a clear and compelling solution proposed here, one that would improve things immediately! and I note this not just because the clowns in questions are Conservatives, I think that in the name of science we should replicate the experiment in Queens Park, as well, other provincial cabinets should be left alone as control groups, nominations should be made using the REPLY button below.

    • Wells blocks people on Twitter. For a guy who likes to bring the snark he certainly can't take it himself. He's no Taibbi.

      • His twitter is voluntary, not mandatory. So it doesn't capture as wide a spectrum of the population.

      • Don't be scared, Edna. Here's your big chance to snark Wells right here, right now. Everybody's watching and waiting. Take your best shot.

        • ooo, the anticipation <rubs hands, licks lips>

        • I guess she drank the kool-aid, gave her head a shake, and went off to find the bus.

          • but aren't conservatives supposed to be against public transit?

          • It's a chartered bus so it's not public transit. (And, in case you're counting, it has a bathroom and a bedroom for the leader plus berths for the others.)

      • It's his twitter and he can tweet or not tweet if he wants to – it's his "freedom and liberty" to do so.

    • Uh, the implicit solution offered is to keep the mandatory long-form census, or for some Ministers to resign on principle. And thinking about those never-to-happen resignations, now I'm going to watch The Wizard of Oz, Lord of the Rings trilogy, and the Harry Potter series to see some kind of fantasy come to a satisfactory end.

    • Satire, at its not quite finest?
      "If you're like me and Max Bernier, you're not afraid to call all this by its real name: Communism. "

      I wondered how many people would take this at face value.

  5. Paul, What a huge disappointment! If you cutting the fat out of cabinet, you need to go beyond Prentice and Cannon. Get the picture?

    • Senators are a lifetime appointment (for now!) and you can't get rid of just one guy!

      • Your missing the picture (hint scroll up, look to the left, cut the fat)

        • ah i see! You also did specifically say Cabinet, so I have no excuse.

  6. If Baird was fired, who would be Laureen's escort to swanky functions? Oh the humanity…

    • No reason he couldn't still be, the position of Escort General to the Prime Minister's Consort would just have to be shifted on to the 24 Sussex household budget, where it rightly belongs.

    • Ben is grown up now.

  7. No no, Wells, you've got it all wrong. The goal of any naturally governing Canadian party should be to make as many cabinet positions as possible and fill them with the least competent candidates available.

    One can't go about eliminating the cabinet ministers themselves, for what essential purpose does government have besides redistributing wealth from the competent citizens who run businesses and generate wealth to the incompetent citizens who don't? Anyone who suggests differently is just thinking about themselves and their own rapidly emptying wallets, selfish American-thinking go-it-alone types that they are…..until they too suffer a serious head injury and need to rely on a cabinet minister's salary.

    • Redistributing wealth from those who need it less to those who require it more, you mean.

      • Certainly. And that decision should be made by cabinet ministers, of course, since only they are qualified to decide who needs how much wealth and from whom that wealth should be "redistributed". Leave that decision up to ordinary citizens and you'd have the complete anarchy and rampant starvation that was Canada prior to Trudeau.

        • You should really look into average living conditions before welfare.
          Personally, I'd rather not go back there.

          • That Tommy Douglas. What a selfish bastard. He wrecked it for all of us.

          • If not for government toilets would not have been invented. Nor cars or lightbulbs. Not even the wheel and fire. This was all made possible by the great invention of welfare.

          • well, toilets wouldn't be much use without public aqueducts and sewers. Going back a few millenia, the Romans stamped SPQR on every one of these that they built to show that these vital public works were the product of the Senate and People of Rome. source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ExWfh6sGyso

          • Are you Cliff Clavin from Cheers?

          • well I do enjoy pubs and being a know-it-all, and he was a federal employee too, so we have a lot in common to say the least… touché!

        • Leave that decision up to ordinary citizens and you'd have…complete anarchy.

          All the history books I've consulted appear to suggest that the most significant object of federal wealth transfers, socialised health care, actually was ventured upon by "ordinary" citizens, when they voted for it in massive numbers.

          I must have missed the chapters that detailed the way Mike Pearson imposed public health care via a March on Ottawa, the invocation of emergency powers, and a five-year rule by decree.

          • "All the history books I've consulted appear to suggest that the most significant object of federal wealth transfers, socialised health care, actually was ventured upon by "ordinary" citizens, when they voted for it in massive numbers. "

            I must have missed the chapters wherein we had referenda on such matters, seeing as how they were explicitly voted for in such massive numbers by ordinary citizens rather than by the aforementioned Ministers, often in whipped votes.

          • I must have missed the chapters wherein we had referenda on such matters…

            Shame. Well, I suggest you re-read the chapter that describes how national health care became a matter of cross-party consensus in the mid-to-late ‘60's due to overwhelming public support and how the lone provincial hold-out, Ontario's John Robarts, was forced to concede under relentless voter pressure.

            I did note, by the way, your apparent distaste for representative democracy, ostensibly a key component of your "conservative" bona fides (of course, Emma Goldman and Noam Chomsky have shared your distaste for reactionary, medieval institutions like the Westminster parliamentary system). I believe the CPC's core leadership shares your distaste, and I think that explains much about their executive performance so far.

          • On the contrary, it appears that the liberals of the country have a distaste for representative democracy, showing such disgust that a non-Liberal government should manage to hold power for a ghastly 4 of the last 17 years. As a minority government. It's a Conservative dictatorship!

        • I admire your faith in "ordinary citizens", I truly do.
          However I feel it is misplaced: I've far too often witnessed these so called "ordinary citizens" make blind assertions about how things should work that failed to encompass all the facets required to make a fair decision. I seem to remember you expressing contempt for "vested interest groups" in the past, and I'd say ordinary citizens are the absolute worst "vested interest group" there is: they have no cohesion and no leader.
          Still I agree with the principle, that ideally we wouldn't need government; however my experience and philosophy go against it. Maybe that's why I find you such an intriguing poster.

          • I admire your faith in "ordinary citizens", I truly do.

            When Gaunilon makes references to "ordinary citizens", he means "citizens who think like I do”.

            Thus, I gather that the "ordinary" citizens were the 10% or so of Canadians who agreed with Stephen Harper on the moral necessity of invading Iraq. Similarly, the 65% or so of Canadian who would not vote for the CPC if an election were help today are deeply abnormal and clearly in need of a forced political re-education campaign conducted by CPC leadership cadres and ideo-cultural commissars.

          • Just so we're clear on this, Sir_Francis is displaying near complete ignorance about my stance on every issue he's just mentioned. In at least two he's managed to attribute the exact opposite of my actual stance to me.

          • If I've misinterpreted the one stance that matters—that the overwhelming majority of Canadians who, as polls indicate, support federal health-care transfers are not "ordinary"—I am prepared to be disabused of a conclusion that appears otherwise inevitable. I'm also prepared to be convinced that lamenting the absence of referenda on the matter is not an endorsement of plebiscitary democracy (or was that one of the stances of which I was ignorant but about which I was yet correct?).

          • "If I've misinterpreted the one stance that matters…"

            You misinterpreted every stance you brought up. In one, you asserted that I would advocate forced indoctrination of anyone who doesn't vote CPC. Classy! I will leave that for you to contemplate.

            As to the other issues: there is no question that the Canada Health Act was legislated in legitimate fashion. However, a system that was put in place by government, even with the support of the ordinary citizens, is not the same as ordinary citizens individually caring for each other. Nothing in any of this reasoning has anything to do with whether a citizen who supports the Canada Health Act is "ordinary".

            "I'm also prepared to be convinced that lamenting the absence of referenda on the matter is not an endorsement of plebiscitary democracy …"

            I'm sure you are, but since no one was lamenting such an absence, it's entirely irrelevant. What was being pointed out was the inaccuracy in your statement that citizens voted for the CHA, as opposed to the Ministers whom this column is jokingly about.

          • …you asserted that I would advocate forced indoctrination of anyone who doesn't vote CPC.

            Oh, really now. You're frightfully hard on whimsical hyperbole for someone who routinely deploys it on others.

            …a system that was put in place by government… is not the same as ordinary citizens individually caring for each other.

            ..not that the issue of "caring for each other" was an even tangential issue in this thread. I am interested to know, though, whether you believe government-mandated law enforcement to be equivalent to ordinary citizens individually protecting each other.

          • …no one was lamenting such an absence…

            So sorry. My mistake. When you countered my assertion that socialised health care was brought into law democratically by the representatives ordinary Canadians had sent to Parliament to represent their interests by saying that "we had [no] referenda on such matters…[and]…they were [not] explicitly voted for in such massive numbers by ordinary citizens rather than by the aforementioned Ministers, often in whipped votes", I too hastily assumed that you were elevating the democratic legitimacy of referenda over that of Parliament. I promise not to take you so literally in future.

          • If only those 65% could actually agree to form a block larger than 25%, you might actually have a point, amidst all the other ridiculous things you've said.

          • Here's a dispatch from the reality-based community. The 65% is a block: it's a pan-national anti-Harper block. Learn the difference between generic voting blocks (comprising voters) and specific partisan blocks (comprising Parliamentary caucuses) and you, too, shall complete the requirements of Political Science 101 and, as a side benefit, discover why your hero has been relegated to this thing called a "minority" (hint: the majority is made up of his Parliamentary opponents).

          • The 65% is a block: it's a pan-national anti-Harper block.

            No it isn't. Sounds like you graduated from Political Science Kindergarten.

          • No it isn't.

            Gee. It sure seemed like a block to Harper when he prorogued and ran away from it last year. I wonder what made him do such a silly thing…

            …you graduated from Political Science Kindergarten.

            Ouch! That devastating riposte has forced me to re-evaluate everything I hold dear.

    • "…for what essential purpose does government have besides redistributing wealth from the competent citizens who run businesses and generate wealth to the incompetent citizens who don't?"

      I'm surprised that a Christian would say that, even if partially in jest. Didn't the J-Man say something about "as you treat the least among you, so too do you treat me"?

      Do you guys even read that that book, or does it just collect dust on your bookshelves?

      • "Do you guys even read that that book, or does it just collect dust on your bookshelves?"

        You think we know how to read? It's well understood that we Christians are an ignorant lot who can't think for ourselves.

        "Didn't the J-Man say something about "as you treat the least among you, so too do you treat me"? "

        Yes. What He somehow neglected to mention, however, was that "As you compel by force everyone else to treat the least among you, so too do you treat me." Strange oversight, given how vastly superior our society now is in terms of thoughtfulness and care for others compared to its barbaric days of yore.

        • I didn't say anything about forcing anyone to do anything. The issue I take with so many conservative Christians is the distain they express for those less financially fortunate than themselves, as though we start off equal in this life and all of us make the same wage. There are plenty of people who work very hard and get sh*t wages, people with disabilities, etc., and, at least going by my reading of the New Testament, treating these (and any!) people harshly is no different than treating Jesus himself the same way.

          And don't try to tell me that Christians (and members of other religions, moral philosophies, etc.) don't try to get others to do and think as they do. Do you really think that if we had the Pope running this country that he wouldn't have a government that interferes WAY more in our lives than our government does?

          People shouldn't need a government to tell them what to do at all. We should all be respectful, compassionate, and generous with one another. But instead we have a culture (the Occidental culture) that, in no small part due to the influence of Protestant and capitalist thought, conditions people to be self-agrandizing, selfish jerks. So do we need a counter-balancing force to try to redistribute what has been unfairly hoarded by a small group of people (i.e. the top 5% of wealthy, not everyone else so much).

          Anyway, I could go on, but no one's likely to change their minds based on the crap I say, so I'l move on to real work.

          • "I didn't say anything about forcing anyone to do anything."

            When government redistributes wealth, it does so by force. What Christ commanded was that we care for those in need, yes, but not that we force others to do the same. This is a violation of their free will, and frankly it's also an easy way for people to salve their consciences without actually sacrificing anything. It's the "I don't donate or volunteer, but I vote for parties that will raise taxes on the rich to give to the poor. Let those rich scum give some of their ill-gotten gains to those in need" attitude that accounts for the massive charitable donation rate per capita in less socialized countries like the US and the comparatively meagre giving rate in highly socialized countries such as those in Western Europe.

            It's neither Christian nor just, and it leads to a rare combination of (a) lessened generosity since people are forced into giving rather than doing it willingly, (b) lessened gratitude since people receive what they view as an entitlement rather than a free gift, and (c) little genuine love…which is supposed to be the final goal. It's even less efficient, since the redistribution has to be done by paid workers rather than by volunteers motivated by charity.

            "And don't try to tell me that Christians (and members of other religions, moral philosophies, etc.) don't try to get others to do and think as they do."

            By force? If they do, they're not acting according to the teachings of Christianity. By reason and example, is how it's supposed to be done.

          • "Render unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar" was Jesus' reply to someone asking about paying taxes, was it not? He did not seem to think taxes were wrong.

            He made some interesting comparisons between rich men and poor men also, and the rich men did not come off looking good. Perhaps you were not paying attention to what he really thought was important.

          • In other words, Christ believed in the separation of church and state.

            He also did not believe in organized retligion

            And when thou pray, thou shall not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in
            the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
            But thou, when thou pray, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret…
            [Matthew 6:6 & 7]

          • Well yes, we need fewer "teachings of Christianity" and more teachings of Christ.

      • So true that the leftist philosophy of forced redistribution and central control of wealth is the most generous. Everybody knows that the communist societies in the world today are the kindest of them all. That's why people risk their lives traveling the ocean on small rafts to be a part of it all.

        • Try not to confuse corruption with socialism.

          • He didn't. Every communist country in history has to retain its populace by force. There are many corrupt countries with less centralized control – few, if any, have to do this.

          • Communism has the same problem as Libertarianism.. there hasn't been one yet.

            A socialism is somewhat different, as we're both aware.

            Incidentally, the most capitalist country on earth is Saudi Arabia. No taxes whatsoever. And yet for some reason people like you and s_c_f would rather live here and bitch about it.

          • There hasn't been a *perfect* version of Communism yet….which may well be because such a thing is impossible. There have certainly been *Communist* countries, however. It takes a rare individual to deny that the USSR was indeed a Communist country.

            There haven't been *perfect* versions of any system of government, true, but it's noteworthy that the imperfect versions of just about everything else are far superior to the imperfect versions of Communism.

            Yes, socialism is somewhat different, but it suffers from the same inherent flaw: the failure to recognize that it is both wrong and counterproductive to forcibly rob people of the fruits of their labour, and that forcing someone else to help your neighbor is not quite the same thing as the original Christian concept of helping your neighbor. In this discussion about forced redistribution, that commonality between socialism and its big brother Communism is the relevant point, as we're both aware.

            As to Saudi Arabia, I can't speak for s_c_f but I'm on record many times saying that taxes are necessary for the functioning of a free state. I'm also on record many times saying that the state is primarily responsible for the preservation of its citizens' freedom. So, putting this all together, I'm sure you can see that Saudi Arabia wouldn't really be a good fit, and hence why I prefer to stay in my native land debating with charming personalities like yourself. Nice try though!

          • If you know your Marxism, you should know that "it is both wrong and counterproductive to forcibly rob people of the fruits of their labour" is pretty much the basis for communism. What do you think businesses and societies do when they force the majority of people to sell their labour for less than it's worth, and they don't get to keep the fruits of their labours? They forcibly rob people of the fruits of their labour.

            Congratulations, you're a communist, and you didn't even know it!

          • No, both of those systems realize it is wrong to forcibly rob people. That's why they don't provide services for free — charging taxes, and why they attempt to provide welfare and support for those people at the bottom end of society, so that those folks do not feel that they have to go out and forcibly rob people in order to survive.

            Counterproductive are thinking that the disenfranchised and hungry will magically disappear if only we stop supporting them.

          • Your comments speak for me as well. Taxes are a necessity. But government spending that approaches 50% of GDP is another matter. Taxing people to pay for anything under the sun is a completely different story.

            Saudi Arabia is the last place on earth where I'd go. It may have low taxes, but the restriction on freedoms in that country surpasses most countries on earth.

          • There has been plenty of communist countries. Pretty well everywhere it's tried, the result is the same. Your belief that some other outcome is possible is absurd.

            However, when it comes to libertarianism, the Canada of the early to mid 20th century was a libertarian paradise. Libertarians do not believe in the absence of government. They simple believe government should stick to the things for which it is needed. Things can need not be done by government should not be done by government.

            John Maynard Keynes was last century's most influential economist whose theories provided the intellectual basis for activist, expansionist government. He wrote a colleague: "25% is probably near the maximum tolerable proportion of taxation."

            A 1997 paper by International Monetary Fund economists Vito Tanzi and Ludger Schuknecht reviewed 125 years of public spending in industrial economies. In 1870, government spending made up 8% of the average industrial economy. By 1994, government spending on average accounted for 47% of the economies of rich industrial countries. Welfare spending accounted for much of the vast increase.

            They found that public spending is subject to diminishing returns. As government spending grows past a certain point, the benefits trail off and disappear. Life expectancy and school enrollment are comparable whether the government spends big or not. Indeed, as a general rule, those with the lowest spending increase are also the most innovative and efficient. Low-spending countries register more patents and suffer much lower unemployment. Countries with smaller governments also had much higher incomes per capita.

            Tanzi and Schuknecht conclude there is considerable scope for reducing government spending in many countries and that average public spending may not need to be any bigger than it was 30 years ago — around 30% of Gross Domestic Product.

            And that may still be too high. Between 1995 and 1996, separate agencies of the New Zealand government commissioned different academics to determine the optimum level of government there. The studies, using dissimilar methods, suggested that the growth-maximizing size lies between 15% and 25% of the Kiwi economy (not the present 40%).
            http://www.fcpp.org/publication.php/294

        • There's a pretty wide spectrum of political systems/philosophies between everyone for themselves and communism. Many of them will involve some degree of wealth distribution. In fact, pretty much every country that people are emigrating to has a degree of wealth distribution. Very often, they are leaving countries that have little to no wealth redistribution – i.e. failed states.

          But, hey, if you want to continue being a knucklehead, be my guest.

  8. The photo above shows a tense moment when both Harper and Prentice attempt to cheat at Rock, Paper Scissors by inventing the Icepick.

    • Scoundrels!

    • Aren't they making steak knives at each other?

    • The iceprick isn't a new invention for either of them – just ask their wives!

    • I am especially impressed at how the stage manager made sure that the heights of the individuals matched up perfectly. I wonder if that kind of data is used in deciding who gets into photo-ops, goes on trips, or even gets into Cabinet.

    • In that photo, which on the four is real? At least three look like wax mannikins from Tussauds. Looks like a bad Photoshop job. Harper – "I do the talking, your job is simply to smile and make me look charismatic – put your finger away Prentice!"

    • I thought it was a phot of Prentice pointing down informing Harper he shot himself in the foot and Harper pointing and giving him hell and threats, Cannon thinking "I'm next" and Van Loan saying where's the plane boss

    • Actually, I think they were merely pointing out your 'career' trajectory.

  9. $95 million a year for the privledge of being yelled at by over-paid and over-fed tuxedo-sporting Senators pretending to represent provinces?!?

    Wait. Let me get my axe.

  10. Félicitations, un tour de force; merci PW!

  11. cutting useless things in Ottawa:
    the Official Opposition

    • always, or just this one? to be more precise, are you advocating a one party state?

      • Why do you assume she'd keep the government?

        • her previous posts, but it's a fair point Style. I'll await further clarification from the volleyball.

      • …are you advocating a one party state?

        Hey, it works in Alberta!

    • Yes, we have much to learn from the more enlightened and democratic nations of the world. Like the DPRK.

    • As long as the opposition is as useless as it's been I can't help but agree with you wilson.

      • "I can't help but agree with you"

        You can't? I hope you're not being coerced on pain of fine or imprisonment.

        • Nope not at all, but I have to wonder if Iggy is being coerced in to helping Harper pass one of the most damaging budgets in Canadian history.

          • Ah, yes. The "shiny object" appears. Distract, deflect, defuse.

          • He is, by political realties.
            If he doesn't allow the omnibill to pass we get instant election and the Liberals do no want that for all sorts of reason. Now you might not agree with those reasons but that doesn't make them any less potent.

          • That omnibill wasn't just a "shiny object" it's a major blow to Canada and the principals most Canadians believe in, the fact that neither the house or the senate would stand up to Harper is a shame. Just because you don't have the guts to go to an election, or the money, or whatever reason, isn't an excuse for letting that budget through.

    • I'm sure you'd like a Dictator, but only if it's your Dear Leader. I hope others will remind you, in future, of your comment.

      • State-of-the-art scientific analysis (plus sending a squad of census police to her physical IP location) has suggested that wilson may be a multi-author entity. So I assume they're keeping notes. But it's a kind thought!

        • multi-author entity?
          I have never posted under any other name than wilson, originally wilson61 which still appears on sites I have posted on since 2004, they made me take a number

    • On point.

  12. Cutting the entire senate should be done since they contribute nothing to the democratic process and waste millions of dollars.

    • Try looking into what they actually do. While I doubt it'd keep you from looking like an idiot, at least then you'd know *why* you look that way.

      • I tried looking into what constructive things they do but apparently there isn't a magnifying glass strong enough to view them.

  13. You forgot to include Rob Nicholson, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, who has finally finished recycling his law and order agenda. Now we are all safe, we won't need his services any further.

    • No, he's not useless. He'll be needed next session when he introduces it all over again.

  14. Sour grapes from a sour Commie Liberal. Suck it up bud!

    • you dispute the column's anti-communist bonafides? they're clearly established in paragraph 5.

      • Not really. That is satire. He is playing on the conservative criticism of Stats Can. You need to read this whole article as a satire account of the con view on the census. Wells is a commie at heart!

    • Sour grapes from a sour Commie Liberal. Suck it up bud!
      ____________________

      Oh how I love C.R.A.Pper humour! Ever the good sports with the self-deprecating ability to laugh at themselves. NOT

  15. Any change, no matter how small, to the present Canadian left/lib status quo sends Paul Wells, and the rest of the Parliamentary Press Gallery, into conniptions.

    For them, left/lib policies = good policies, conservative or libertarian policies = bad policies. By defiinition, they can't abide by Harper because, egad, he's a Conservative who's actually conservative.

    So the Parliamentary Press Gallery has been in conniptions pretty well since the Conservative's Party's ascension to power in 2006 and have been railing ever since.

    The Parliamentary Press Gallery speak for themselves, not the Canadian public, who either wonder what all the fuss is about when they see these self-appointed guardians of what is good and proper all up in arms, or simply quietly disagree, as on law and order issues and vote for the party that supports and implements policies that make sense to them.

    • Yeah, we're talking about a long-form census and whether it should be mandatory, and we get:

      the brave new world in all its freedom-loving glory

      Batten the hatches, the world is ending when Conservatives get their way.

      Gotta agree though that the budget needs cutting and that nobody in English Canada would notice if Josee Verner were not there. However, in Quebec, once they found out a(nother) Quebecer was no longer in cabinet, we'd have another referendum on the way.

    • …he's a Conservative who's actually conservative…

      Care to name a single conservative thing Harper's actually done (other than inflating the federal deficit to over 4 billion dollars, of course)?

    • Thanks for that Jarrid. Was that comment written in response to something in particular?

  16. Get rid of the Ministry of agriculture. Natural resources too…is there a federal one for energy? Whatever, just dump all the business sector specific Cabinet justification.

    • That's Natural Resources Canada, NRCan used to be called Energy Mines and Forests back in the days of the NEP

      • Ah, "back in the days of the NEP". The Stonewall riots of the oiligarchy.

  17. You forgot Minister Moore. I get needing a Minister in charge of Public Relations (you have to have someone there to call out those extremists), but Heritage and Languages? I'm sure Quebec would survive without him.

  18. I would rather have them move on to the CBC – I can only dream

  19. Great column, Paul. One of your best in quite awhile. Very funny with a core of truth. Two qualities that, come to think of it, the Conservatives lack.

  20. Fire the National Capital Commission.

    • Yeah, they can go for sure.

      • uh oh, this must be a *terrible* idea if we are both in agreement on it.

        • Is that how you normally formulate your opinions?

    • Why all the thumbs-down? NCC employees?

  21. "“Fundamentally,” Bernier wrote the other day on the Western Standard's Shotgun Blog, “my position is that whatever the presumed usefulness of these data, I don't believe it justifies forcing people to answer intrusive questions about their lives, under threat from a fine or jail time if they don't.”"

    But it's okay to force people to remit half of their earned pay to Ottawa under threat of a fine or jail time or both so our government can spend it on 30 new MPs.

    http://viableopposition.blogspot.com/

    • half your pay to Ottawa? only if you count what CRA collects on behalf of the provinces (look up the highest federal marginal rate, but don't add EI and CPP since they top out before you earn any money in the highest bracket, and you're way off of 50%) my definition of a viable opposition includes viable math skills and knowledge of the tax regime.

    • 'Presumed usefulness of these data? So Bernier and Clement both had Statscan in their portfolio and didn't understand what it does,

  22. Hey most of us got your satire this time! I think. But I'm probably speaking too soon.

  23. If you're like me and Max Bernier,

    It takes a lot of guts to write something like that, even in jest.

  24. I laughed. Then I wept. Then I laughed again.

    • Could be a disfunctional nicitating membrane.

      Or someone is touching your tailbone….

  25. Crikey. Just read a Harper-themed Wells post from the Martin era and compare it to this one. Harper's lost Wells, Coyne and practically every centre-right journalist who was prepared to cut him significant slack in the early days of his tenure.

    Harper's corner is slowly depopulating. Soon he'll be left with Kathy Shaidle, Lorne Gunter, and Ted Byfield. I don't know whom to feel more sorry for—him or them.

      • Well, you know, even the most devoted sycophant, at some point, discovers a self-respect threshold that (s)he's not willing to cross. For KoryT and his merry band of goons at SunMedia, that point has not come yet, but it will.

    • And the irony is, he's done more to offend the likes of Shaidle, Gunter and Byfield than he has to offend us reasonable peeps.

    • Lorne Gun ter had a column today on Ignatieff's bus breakdown a while ago. Lorne's next column will be about Stanfield dropping the football.

    • Too funny! Paul Wells is, and has always been a lefty. To say that he was ever in Harper's corner is simply delusional.

      Coyne's got more connections to the Liberal Party establishment than you can shake a stick at. He has a bit of a libertarian streak but a conservative he is not.

      Sir Francis, perspective's in order.

  26. Isn't the Wildrose poised to take over?

    • Wildrose is basically a rogue wing of the PC's, comprising disgruntled ex-members of Stelmach's party.

      • Parties only count as parties when Sir Francis has given them his seal of existence.

        The 65% of non-Conservatives voters do form a party, of no known name or platform. Shall we call them the "should-all-be-Liberals" party? Not sure the BQ supporters would like that name.

        The 28% of Wild Rose supporters do not form a party (they are simply members of the "should-not-be-Liberals" party of Alberta).

        • It's almost offensive to be challenged so limply. Please…please try to do better than this.

          If you can get a grown-up to read my original comment to you, slowly, you'll discover that I said that 65% of Canadians would vote for candidates other than the CPC's, not that those voters form a single party, as I've explained to you in the other thread. Let me know if I need to break out the hand puppets and brightly coloured chalk in order to make things clearer for you.

          • Suddenly you've become so literal.

            Well, you lumped those 65% all together as a single unified non-Conservative block.

            Meanwhile, here you've lumped the two leading Alberta parties into a single unified Conservative block.

            It's a rather simple concept really. It's all right if you still don't understand, you're not as smart as you think.

          • There are times, s_c_f, when it's really better to just admit that you were confused and to take clarifying responses graciously rather than embarrass yourself by committing the double offence of continuing an obnoxious heckling and receiving more indulgent attention and patience than you deserve. For the record, I hope you one day learn the difference between voters and political parties: voters do not “form” parties and do not become members of a party by virtue of their vote. Thus I would never state that "the 65% of non-Conservatives voters do form a party", because that would be absurd for reasons of which you're clearly unaware.

            I'll try again, and I'll type as slowly as I can. I said explicitly that the anti-Harper vote does not represent a single party; it is a non-ideological block with a differentiated structure. All that unifies it is its opposition to Harper, which is not in itself an ideology.

          • Meanwhile, the Albertan PC's and Wildrose do share an ideology (in fact they are virtually ideologically identical) as well as a significant chunk of personnel. Their rivalry represents two leaders fighting for the soul of the same ideological block in order to more vigorously pursue an ideological vision they both share. Hence their underlying unity.

            The fact remains that most of the country opposes Harper, for a variety of ideological reasons. This simple mathematical reality was my original point, which smart readers grasped instantly. I do apologise for making things harder than necessary for you.

          • I understand what you're saying. It doesn't debunk what I'm saying. And the Albertan PC's and Wildrose do not share an ideology. The Wild Rose exists because of dissatisfaction with PC policies. Their platforms differ.

          • Their platforms differ.

            I can't say I've detected meaningful differences between their platforms.

            Do you really think the Wildrose Alliance would even exist if the PC's were still led by Klein or if Stelmach just lowered the royalty rate?

          • You're probably right they would not exist if Klein were still in charge.

  27. Step out the Ottawa-bubble for a breath of fresh air. It's summer time! ;)

  28. Is this what Tony Clement is trying to tell us? God, he needs to work on his communication strategy.

    • The government are blind ignorant fools. The opposition partys are blind ignorant fools. And the press gallery are blind ignorant fools.

      When 99.999% of the people agree on something, they are probably wrong. One should look for the contrarian argument.

      Wells chooses to stay in the echo chamber (on the census issue) rather than think. He learnt nothing at Perimeter.

      • while I can't seem to disagree with you, that sure is a pessimistic outlook, and leaves me wondering how on earth such a population could manage its collective interests and responsibilities (whether we call this management "government" or otherwise)…

      • They're not actually, we just remember the few times they are wrong because when they're right it's just par for the course.

        Unless you're saying we really should start believing the flat-earthers.

  29. The Conservative trolls are out in force, PMO must be nervous.

  30. Let's do away with formal government. We will rule ourselves and settle differences like the cowboy days. When will Harper make my dream come true?

  31. Paul, it seems nobody realizes you were just joking or the fact you were talking about the person, not the office.

    You may want to clear up the confusion.

    • It's Well's answer to Cons wanting 'smaller government'

  32. Being a Minister of the Crown, how is Stock able to spend so much time in the tanning booth?

    He's starting to turn a bit yellow and beginning to resemble a chuck steak…medium rare, I might add.

    • Day is a marathoner. i.e. He runs outdoors, in the sun, a lot.

      • Let's hope Day runs marathons better than he ran his party. [badda bing!]

      • That's because John Baird is always chasing him.

  33. i'm just wondering, when is anyone going to organize a coup? seriously, this is a disgrace.

    • Why a coup? Surely if this Tory government is as awful as you think it is, the opposition could handily win an election. Or do you have something against elections?

      • …the opposition could handily win an election.

        I think PAL is talking about an election. Remember that an opposition win would still be a coup, according to the CPC.

        The Opposition (as a whole) did win the last election, but when they hatched a plan to govern, the Harperoids screamed "coup" in catastrophic ignorance of our parliamentary system. The CPC seems unable to think of legitimate dissent from their widely unpopular agenda in anything else but banana-republic terms, which is somehow sadly appropriate, given Harper's method of governance.

        • It's clear that you think Harper & Co are awful. It's still not clear to me what you want done about it. Do you want an election or not? Assassination? Alien invasion and takeover? Please advise.

          • It's still not clear to me what you want done about it…Please advise.

            Well, all the politicians I would be willing to vote for are dead. I have gone to Notre Dame Basilica, though, and lit a vigil candle in order to propitiate my prayer that SaskAlbertans someday snap out of their Pavlovian habit of voting for whichever lobby-group-spawned Albertan does the best cheap impersonation of a populist. I suggest you run to your nearest basilica or cathedral and do likewise. Don't worry if you're not a Catholic. God will still listen to your prayers: he's a broad-minded chap.

            Alien invasion and takeover?

            That has already happened. Hence our dilemma.

          • "…my prayer that SaskAlbertans someday snap out of their Pavlovian habit of voting for whichever lobby-group-spawned Albertan does the best cheap impersonation of a populist."

            Oh, I see — people from Alberta and Saskatchewan are stupid Pavlovian fools, and it's their fault we don't have a better government.

            Thanks for comin' out.

          • …people from Alberta and Saskatchewan are stupid Pavlovian fools, and it's their fault we don't have a better government.

            Yeah. It's ridiculous, isn't it? It reminds me of something I used to hear Albertans say during the Chrétien/Martin era. What was it again? Oh yes—it went something like this: "People from Ontario and Québéc are stupid Pavlovian fools, and it's their fault we don't have a better government".

            Payback's a bitch.

          • You're a regular champion of national unity aren't you?

        • Why did the coalition of losers back down? Harper couldn't stop them, just delay a confidence vote.

          • Why did the coalition of losers back down?

            Because Harper ran away from Parliament too fast.

          • Because, if you care to remember, he caved to the coalition's demands. You see, if what you're interested in is good governance rather than simple power, the important bit is getting your ideas into policy. Well.. it took the coalition to do that, but it got the job done.

    • Yeah, let's empower the military to protect our governments from themselves like in Thailand, or Turkey, or Pakistan… Wheeee!

    • They tried that already, remember?

  34. Wow I thought Maclean's was a true Canadian magazine but it is clearly a stooge for the Liberals and their supporters.
    All the replies that were remotely pro conservative were put down and voted against. This may be news to the east of Canada but western Canada has capable people that can run companies, corporations and even countries as well and quite probably better than any Francophone liberal Prime Ministers have done in the past.
    At least Harper hasn't sold any companies or hotels to his supporters in dubious manners as writing a contract on the back of a napkin. Hell that one was unbelievable especially by a lawyer.
    Even This hour has 22 minutes as biased as they are have not hated western Canadians as much as this magazine and the liberal readers.
    Wow lets give this Government a chance, they have done a decent job in the face of unprecedented worldwide problems.
    What the hell would the liberals have done that could have been better?

    • And yet another Liberal sock puppet trying to make Albertan CPC lemmings look like effortlessly dismissible carny barkers.

      Could some brave soul on the Express please take that Blackberry away from Iggy? He's got no time for sock puppetry. He's got a nation to bore…

    • You're right in that we do have capable people. Unfortunately, most of them have enough strength of character that they wouldn't submit to being Steve's whipping boy.

      And we've given this government lots of chances.
      We gave him a chance to succeed with softwood lumber, it was nearly there, after all. And instead he gives away a billion dollars for an agreement which is already in front of the trade commissions again.

      We gave him a chance to show principle by not appointing any unelected senators. And within his first week in office, he'd appointed Michael Fortier — a man who had been definitively rejected in every election he'd run in.

      We gave him a chance to show principles by not taxing income trusts. He turned around and taxed them.

      We gave him a chance to recognize the dire straits of the economy. He had to be dragged kicking and screaming to that realization, almost losing power and having to shut down parliament in the process.

      We gave him a chance to make elections better in Canada. He passed a law to do so, and then ignored it and called an election anyway.

      How many chances should he be given?

      • Relax, Thwim. You're replying to either Iggy or Donolo. I think it's Iggy, because it takes finely honed literary skills to mimic the hysterical tones of delusional prairie martyrdom as brilliantly as "Captain Canada" does whilst remaining (though just barely) within the realm of plausibility.

        • You should put down your quill pen, have the servants equip the carriage, and head out to Albertkewan.

      • That was a good week for the Chretin and Trudeau governments.
        I was pissed at them for the about face on the income trusts but the rest of the items listed were tough to do with a minority ..they had to get some support on the liberal controlled senate
        I still can't believe that any other leaders of any of the parties are or would be better than Harper…kind of a sorry state at the present and that is sad.
        They weren't the only countries leaders to realize the rest of the world was in trouble even the ones that were, did you see Paulson trying to convince the democrats how dire the situation was?

    • ''All the replies that were remotely pro conservative were put down and voted against''

      It's actually rather friendly here,
      have you suffered the 'progressive hospitality' at Wherry's place?

    • "Wow I thought Maclean's was a true Canadian magazine but it is clearly a stooge for the Liberals and their supporters"
      ___________________
      Wow? Wow? What are you? in grade school? I would gather that in your clouded lenses, the one true Canadian magazine would be the Western Standard (oh, wait, is it still in print?). Come to think of it, I would suspect that the only 'real' Canadians must be those in Alberta, the province with more Americans per capita than any other province. Lol.

  35. Re: "Those arguing for the census, are arguing for the dark ages."

    Yeah, because an accurate, reliable, comprehensive and secure census data source on the Canadian population is so easy to find on the web, as opposed to from StatsCan. Speed kills, shouldIsellyourwheat.

    • Didn't you read?!?!? shouldlsellyourwheat says that the Harper giganto-budget actually contains iPods for everyone, superfast internet everywhere for all, and regular pm's from the PM for policy deciding time – in the NEAR FUTURE!!!!! Census-schmensus!! Stats are worse than lies and damn lies anywhoo.

  36. You're absolutely right Paul. Let's go further, what we do need is another Mao.

  37. Sounds like a great chapter in the ongoing Harper saga, "Why does the world hate me?" But the truth is he is as thick-skinned as a boar, is oblivioius to critique and frankly doesn't give a sh!t.

    • But the truth is he is…oblivioius to critique.

      Yeah, like he still refuses to abolish income trusts, and he still refuses to accept floor-crossers, and he still denies the legitimacy of an unelected Senate, and he still endorses the invasion of Iraq, and he still insists on an indefinite Canadian mission in Afghanistan, and he still plans to abolish the public funding of political parties, and he's still against deficit spending….

  38. I've got my antennas out and am receiving strong signals that we're on the verge of something big happening on the domestic political scene. Although I can't put my finger on it. Can you not sense the build up that is occurring? And it will happen sooner than we think. Stay tuned.

  39. Maybe that 'something big' will be the next elections. The silent majority is absolutely fed up and will come up with some sort of effective strategy to oust this neanderthal one-man show.

  40. Where is the yardstick for comparison and validation of an improvement if its predecessor has been prematurely and abruptly dismantled? Of course new approaches and ways of doing things are continuously being developed but most progress builds on the work of others (standing on the shoulders of giants). Occasionally, there is transformative change, but the government is not using that as its justification for eliminating the long form of the census. Their proffered raison d'etre (this week) is that its an unacceptable invasion of privacy. Someone does not understand how the information is used and aggregated. Sure, people are worried about privacy (especially through social media and other "transforming technologies) but conflating this with the long form census questionnaire is manipulative and deceptive.

    I'm sure Wells was inspired by his time at the PI and he'd also have met a slew of mathematicians who actually understand and rely upon the fundamental concepts of statistical science. Methinks it's the apparent revolt against the scientific method illustrated by this last move that has gotten under his skin?

    As an aside, increasingly stringent privacy laws are interfering with legitimate data collection making reputable datasets even more valuable. There will be extrapolative methods developed that are based on social behaviour (financial transactions, etc) but these will require anchoring in solid demographic information, without which their utility will be like a house without a foundation.

    • //Where is the yardstick for comparison and validation of an improvement if its predecessor has been prematurely and abruptly dismantled? Of course new approaches and ways of doing things are continuously being developed but most progress builds on the work of others (standing on the shoulders of giants). Occasionally, there is transformative change, but the government is not using that as its justification for eliminating the long form of the census.//

      Recommended reading: Thomas Kuhn "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions".

      Mobile technology, Web 2.0, Search, private media(blogs/twitter), social networking are creatively destroying and remaking industries. Most activities involving information are experiencing transformative paradigm shifts. The census and the "industry" above it is an information industry. To believe that the information revolution in terms of the quantity and quality of near real time information will not utterly creatively destroy and transform that industry is somebody who is not paying close attention. For all these journalists who are in the midst of their own industry being transformed by it to believe that the "census industry" is going to escape it is just mind-boggling. If you are young and in university are planning to have a career as a policy wonk using the census as the anchor of your information, I think you are seriously deluded.

      One would have hoped that Statscan would have used this change as a wakeup call to realize that the future of information is going to be vastly different than the past. From the reaction, it is clear nobody at Statscan is thinking about the future and the effect of the new mobile and information technologies on what they should be doing.

      //I'm sure Wells was inspired by his time at the PI and he'd also have met a slew of mathematicians who actually understand and rely upon the fundamental concepts of statistical science.//

      I guarentee you they aren't using Newton's laws anymore.

      • "creative dcestruction" Sounds like Naomi Klein is right.

      • Re: "I guarentee you they aren't using Newton's laws anymore."

        Whaaaa??! Tony Clement, is that you?

  41. Nice personal rant, Wheat, but pretty flaky at best. So you know better about census than mathematicians and statisticians with PhD's. You know Dick Tracy.

  42. If census-gate is ideological (which I greatly doubt), then it can only be a trial balloon for the real thing later on.

    Here's the plan: (1) Census form decision – (2) central Canadian media, opposition parties and superannuated "experts" and talking head pundits go ballistic – (3) Authoritarian Ottawa bureaucrat resigns because he can no longer put people in jail for ignoring him – (4) the sky is falling! the end of democracy! soldiers in the streets! cry the pundits – (5) nothing happens – (6) public yawns – (7) a week later all is forgotten – (8) new faux-scandal appears – (9) lather, rinse, repeat.

    Now watch for the real thing —-when the Conservative Government goes after the really big authoritarian money-wasters – Department of Indian Affairs….Canadian Wheat Board….the CBC…you get the idea.

    I wait in anticipation for Max Bernier's next speech.

    The real news today is that the federal deficit is down 41% from last year. Why? Because GST revenues are way up! Reducing the GST was such bad policy according to the experts. I guess the people don't listen to the experts!

    • Why Bernier? He's so full of it his eyes are brown.

    • … the federal deficit is down 41% from last year.

      And the bad news: it's still around 4.4 billion, and the surplus is gone.

      I think the real news today is that the Bank of Canada is predicting another economic downturn with a grave impact on jobs and federal revenue. Funny how you weren't so interested in sharing that with us, Orval.

      • Predictions are not something that has happened.

    • Department of Indian Affairs….Canadian Wheat Board….the CBC..

      quit teasing!
      Liberals still insist that farmers must be tossed in jail if they sell their own wheat ,
      but only in Western Canada.

    • So coming off our biggest deficit ever, having had a surpluse not too many years ago, we now crow about how the federal deficit is only 41% down yet we're already through more than half the year?

      Sounds like somebody's cracked before it's time to count chickens.

  43. Scrapping the penny would be the most useful thing the federal government has done in years.

  44. Fire "Tony Clement. The minister of industry. Because (a) he still administers the agricultural long-form census, which is as bad as the general long-form census, plus it has cows; " best chuckle in the article. Watch out for those cows, they're dangerous critters and they don't support our troops.

  45. Let me introduce myself .. you've heard of the "Lord of the Flies", I am the most powerful of all, the "Lord of Stupid"

    So far Canada has been lucky to avoid my plague. Putting people like Flaherty, Baird and yes Harper into public office has stymied all my efforts to bring this country down with "Stupidity". In public view and office they can't do my work out of sight of the media and questioning civil service or public.

    Just wait until you vote this party out, then the real party will begin!

    Impatiently,
    "Lord of Stupid"

  46. It's rather amusing watching the pinko commie Ottawa media come completely unglued lol. Speaking of useless things in Ottawa, how about 98% of the press corps??

    What on Earth can the Harper government do for an encore?

    Hopefully bring back the death penalty…then we'll really be talkin'!!

    • Maybe we can start burning witches ;)

      • That would be fun! It could bridge the time between the end of hockey and the start of the NFL.

    • Never gonna happen NG,
      too many of us ex-Liberals on board with the CPC now.
      Same with abortion and ssm, only seen in the rear view mirror.

      • Soon, your help won't be required. The west is growing and serious conservatism is taking root once again in Canada.

        • The West ain't growing that fast. More people live within a 50K radius of my front door than all of Alb-Sask-Man combined.

        • A bit of reality for you, "NiceGuy": the west has limits to growth, of which the most important is water. My own city of Calgary has slightly more than 1 million people in it. Will it ever reach the size of Toronto, about 2.5 million? Unlikely, since we do not have enough water for 2.5 million people, unless it is severely rationed.

          And of course the reality of global warming, which you ignorant Conservatives keep denying, means that we will probably have less water in the future and what water there is may come all at once in floods. Kind of like a desert environment. Dry with occasional flash floods.

          • Oh look! the conversation is already moving towards the mother of all socialist schemes.

          • Oh look! Another ignorant Conservative denialist! What'll you do when the well runs dry?

          • Probably get my water from a lake…or a river…or a different well..etc etc etc

          • Whoosh! Right over your head…

          • You mean the fraud of man made global warming??

          • The Climategate "scandal" was actually demonstrated to be the manufactured fraud, not the theory of global warming itself. Do expand your reading a little, sir.

    • "It's rather amusing watching the pinko commie Ottawa media"

      You must be an old American draft dodger from the '60s. That's Yankee talk that Sen Joe McCarthy encouraged. Canada was not as paranoid.

  47. Meanwhile, who's been hired to tune up the PMO pitchfork, set up pots for burning brimstone, and wafting the scent of sulphur around?

    "Please allow me to introduce myself, I'm a man of wealth and taste . . . "

    • I killed the czar and his ministers…

  48. "..lotions and ointments…" Hahahaa! The minister of closeted faggotry.

  49. Excellent, Wells. Some days you are a credit to your profession.

  50. I never took Wells for the liberal hack he continues to show himself as, where was this joker when the liberal were robbing us blind and bouncing from one scandle to the next.Pointing out the goverments flaws is fine by me, but onesided personal attacks are just that, but when you try and pass it journalism,now you belong with the CTV,CBC,G&M or the libstar,hey Macleans with people like wells on the pay roll you are starting to fall into the same catagory as the other liberal mouth pieces of this country a shame really.

    • Wells was busy attacking the conservative opposition…he's a true Red Star Liberal like the rest. Chretien was one of his most favourite thugs.

      • Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia.

  51. Every now and then Macleans comes up with thoughtful well researched articles on the world scene. These articles went a long way to justifying my subscription. Lately, it seems that all I am reading (web or print) are biased frenzied columnists with very little to actually say, stories about media personalities (I don't care) and whatever the current bias of the editorial opinion is in the good news/bad news section. At least Steyn offered an alternative viewpoint – where is he?

    Perhaps Macleans should replace their map of Canada (the one that says Toronto/Sort of Quebec & Not Toronto ) with a map of the world and go back to journalism.

    • He's got a point. Why the hell isn't Steyn writing the Paul Wells column?

      • Like CDN I was wondering too. I would never subscribe to Macleans but I could until recently count on Inkless Wells to be insightful most of the time, and proof that there was at least one who still believed in the craft of journalism. Lame ad hominen name-calling used to be beneath Paul Wells. Has there be an editorial policy change? Too bad. Good-bye Inkless Wells. It was a good run.

      • Not enough xenophobia in the Wells column format for Steyn.

        That, and too much jazz.

    • " At least Steyn offered an alternative viewpoint – where is he?"

      Probably at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem with Helmet Head.

  52. Speaking of useless – how about a gaggle of Canadian reporters hanging around the gate to Black's Florida home, then breathlessly reporting the fascinating fact that a vehicle just left… Ottawa is overloaded with media people reporting entirely boring and useless meetings, committees etc and raking through the garbage left by people who do things in the hope of finding another Watergate under the soiled pizza box. – cull the lot of them.

  53. Just a question, shouldIsellyourwheat. How do you know I have wheat to sell without the agri-census?

    (And, yes, I know who that quote came from and the circumstances around it.)

  54. Harper's PM tenure: a personal cluster f'**k. Because he can. And it's the pinnacle.

  55. BRAVO

  56. Paul. This is why I check your blogs/column everyday, because sometimes it is pure genious.

  57. Imagine my disappointment upon poring over the list of "useless things" in Ottawa to cut. Although "half the cabinet" may sound about right, one might wish to start with the Ministers for Regional Development of Whichever Square Inch of Territory We Hadn't Yet Thought Of .

  58. Face it. Government is the world's biggest crime organization. It extorts our wealth and redistributes it, and it's all legal. No other organization is legally allowed to use violence against citizens to carry out its business.

  59. The scary thing is that most of the data relevant to the Canadian census is already available in Government/Financial Data banks. So long as the privacy watchdog was overseeing the process so individuals are in no way identified, most Canadians would hardly object to utilizing it for census purposes.

    Its going to take more than the census issue to wean us off dependency of the nanny-state. The state is entrusted with too much of our personal data. Worse are banks, financial institutions, credit rating companies& advertisement companies. Who sell our data when they feel like they want to. The only thing the government to make things better is to beat them down with a stick.

  60. Tom Flanagan said on CBC's Power & Politics today that the gov't is probably ramping up spending in the Communications budget because an election is coming some time down the road and the gov't wants to be sure to get it's message out.

    So, that means that the Conservative Reform Alliance Party of Canada is spending my tax dollars for electioneering purposes instead of on sound policies? And at the same time they're trying to cut the stipend given to the other parties so that they can't realistically compete in getting THEIR message out next election?

    We know that Harper won't force an election until his latest fiascoes are behind him a bit and he pushs through his election reform package. I think the Liberals and the NDP need to defeat this loser as soon as the gov't returns this fall and put and end to this garbage.

    I never thought I would live long enough to see this kind of fascism in Canada. My father and grandfather, who both fought for our freedoms in WW1 & WW2 would be rolling in their grave if they knew. Hopefully they'll haunt Harper's dreams every night!

  61. One of your best columns yet! Great fun!

  62. How come Coyne gets an invite to join jim and the rich guys on vacation/scrum and not you? Slowly the gatekeepers are being exposed for the douche bags they are…….too harsh? Need to redact?

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