Previously on The Country I Live In -

Previously on The Country I Live In

FESCHUK on Harper the libertarian, Ignatieff’s ‘Speed’ sequel and Blacks’ prison escape


I’ve been away from Canada for four of the past five weeks, and it’s always fun to return and see what’s been missed. A comprehensive review:

1. The dominant domestic news story of the past month hinges on the intricacies of statistical analysis.

2. Finally demonstrating a populist touch, Michael Ignatieff has started production on his own Speed sequel: If his party’s popularity in opinion polls falls below 25 per cent, the Liberal Express explodes! (Subplot: If the bus keeps stopping for Timbits, the occupants of the Liberal Express explode!)

3. Conrad Black has apparently tunneled out of prison and escaped.

4. Upon being informed of No. 3, David Radler has soiled himself.*

* Not reported, but a safe assumption.

Don’t ever change, Canada.

Personally, I don’t understand what all the fuss is about with the census. On one hand, the Harper government’s move to scrap the mandatory long form has been condemned by statisticians, economists, pollsters, provincial and municipal governments, CEOs, labour and charitable groups, dogs and cats, the sentient, everyone who passed sixth-grade math and the small but influential niche of fetishists whose only sexual gratification is derived from obligatory paperwork. But on the other hand, Jim Flaherty thinks census data can be probably collected voluntarily without losing its integrity. Stalemate.

The Globe has reported that Stephen Harper is banishing the mandatory long form out of “deep philosophical conviction.” He’s a libertarian, you see. Hates government in all its forms. And over the past four years, we’ve seen the Prime Minister repeatedly demonstrate his ardent philosophical disdain for government by greatly expanding it, giving it more and more money to spend and celebrating its ever greater intrusion into our economy and social fabric. Because that’ll learn it!

But hey, fine, now he’s a libertarian. And I’m cool with that. After all, with the census rendered useless, we can now look forward to Harper staying true to his deep philosophical convictions and banning the mandatory income tax form. Why does the government want to know how much money I make and how much tax I’ve paid? That’s personal information! Why does government force me to fill out a tax form under threat of fine or jail? Mitts off, Big Brother. Surely a voluntary tax form will result in the exact same amount of money being paid to government.


Previously on The Country I Live In

  1. Re:Conrad Black

    It is simply amazing how good a tunnel you can dig with shovelfuls of money

    • You are assuming he was guilty, then, despite the fact that his conviction has been thrown into question by the Supreme Court?

      • A) Feschuk = humour
        B) "Conrad Black has apparently tunneled out of prison and escaped".
        C) "tunnel" and "dug" establish a theme add Mr Black has a legal team only the wealthy can afford (a fact)

        Throw everything into the pun-ish-iator and………

        "It is simply amazing how good a tunnel you can dig with shovelfuls of money"

        There is no assumption of innocence, or guilt or anything else – just a harmless pun on Mr. Feschuk's riff

        Ease up big fella.

        • finding out "how good a tunnel you can dig with shovelfuls of money" is like learning how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall

  2. 5. The R&D audit is late.

  3. Harper hates government, yet keeps running to be in government.

    In fact, Harper has spent most of his adult life being a policy wonk or running for his hated government (never had a real job except one that daddy got him).

    • OntarioTown…You are absolutely right. Harper believes government has a purpose and that is why he keeps working in it.

      Interesting our media no longer just reports the news. They now attach motivations for which there is no basis, they speculate, they guess and of course they lie in order to support the story line that they want to perpetuate on the Canadian people. However, the vast majority of Canadians do not believe what they read or see in the media and hence the polls still show that the government is favoured by the majority of the people.

      The problem is…the country is recovering from the recession nicely, the government is conducting business, polls shows the country supports the government and the opposition parties are useless.

      So what better to do during the silly season but to invent columns which only the kool-aid drinkers in the opposition parties think are important.

      Then we wonder why the public is cynical.

      • Oh, oh – here we go. hollinm spinning the Harper approved and instruction like a good little soldier.

        You are right on one thing – the media is not reporting the news the way it should – they should be reporting more on Harper's fillibustering the committee on the G20 fiasco, the not so transparent purchase of planes, etc., etc.

        Boy is Harper getting off easy.

        Bye – I don't need Tory talking point lectures from you thank you very much,

  4. Welcome back, Scott!

    You missed the most important one: Tony Clement is apparently a superhero in his off hours. His powers include the ability to extract himself from a river in wet clothes and dial a phone. But will they be enough to withstand the next tweet attack from the evil Stephen "Lex" Gordon?

  5. Nice to see you back on the blogosphere, Mr. F.

    I find it sad that despite the serious academic and democratic implications of scrapping the longform, and despite my suspicions that Jim Flaherty punches quantitative and financial data into a slot machine at Casino du Lac-Leamy to make gov't policy, the public and learned elite shall soon forget this debacle and move on to such matters as: Lindsay Lohan.

    Consider the "HOT TOPICS" headers currently gracing the Macleans site: Census; Conrad Black; New GG; Justin Bieber; Omar Khadr; Oil Spill.

    I rest my case.

  6. Let's launch a campaign to have Ben Johnson become Canada's Chief Statistician.

    We need someone who, like Tony Clement and Jim Flaherty, genuinely believes that a voluntary sample, would be a fine replacement for mandatory random samples.

    • Mark….you cannot believe that Canadians filled out the long form census simply because they didnt want to go to jail. When I filled out mine I did it because I am a responsible citizen. Although I understand 400,000+ did not do it last time.

      When we have to threaten citizens with jail time in order to extract personal information we are indeed in deep trouble.

      This is turning into another H1N1 controversy where the government was slagged and pilloried by anybody who was suppose to be smart about epidemics and guess what it turned out to be nothing.

      • Why do you hate the troops so much?!

      • When you filled out the long form, did you tick off the "takes internet comments too seriously" box?

        Just curious.

        • And that's exactly the point that you leftards and the left/lib media don't seem to understand! It's none of the governments business how seriously I, as a free Canadian citizen, take internet comments, "mark". If the next stop on the Ignatieff Express is the Soviet Union, I want to get off.

      • Yeah, why DO you hate the troops so much???

  7. On the Conrad Black thing – Am I the only one who doesn't give a crap? It's on the TV, radio, newspapers, etc. every time I look. Does everyone find this story interesting except for me, or is this just the media reporting it because he was a media "Baron?"

    • That, and the tragic despair he's left his former prison-mates to cope with. Among other things, he hadn't yet taught them the proper placement of escargot forks at a formal table setting. How are they to carry on?

      • Yes, nothing is more fun to mock than a man who may have had his life ruined due to a witch-hunt. Har!

        • "either a rich con-man is getting off without much jail time…"

          It's okay for you to allow the potential that he was justly prosecuted and found guilty, but I'm the bad guy for mildly poking fun at his aristocratic demeanor – because you also allow for the potential that he was unfairly jailed?

          Forgive me if I fail to give a flying f*ck about your hypocritical judgement on this.

          • It's hypocritical to criticize a joke in poor taste while simultaneously admitting the uncertainty of a case currently being decided in court?? Not seeing the logic here, chief.

            "Forgive me if I fail to give a flying f*ck about your hypocritical judgement on this."

            Much as I enjoy your commentary on many things, I have to tell you: you're a little thin-skinned in response to criticism of your comments.

          • You'll note that a couple of the guilty verdicts were not included in those sent back — that is, they stick.

          • Just one, as I understand it, and they're currently trying to determine whether it (obstruction of justice) depended on the others. None of which has much bearing on whether a joke about the guy's predicament is in poor taste or whether saying so is hypocritical.

          • If defending charges of poor taste on my part makes me thin skinned in your estimation, I can live with that.

            While we're sharing appraisals, I too enjoy most of your contributions, but find your assumed position of moral authority insufferable at times.

          • "If defending charges of poor taste on my part makes me thin skinned in your estimation…"

            I thought the joke was in poor taste, and you didn't. I get that. Defending your position doesn't make you thin-skinned; defending it by going off into a potty-mouthed and fairly illogical rant does.

            Seriously, you've never criticized a joke you found to be in poor taste on these boards? You've never told another commenter to tone down their language? You've never assumed a position of moral authority where you felt it was warranted? Come on.

            Let's keep the disagreements dispassionate and impersonal, shall we? You're better than this.

          • One thing I will say for Crossharbour, despite Sean's Marxist misgivings (kidding Sean, go easy!), is that it's my understanding he served an extremely useful and charitable function during his sentence. I'm not sure how many disadvantaged inmates forgotten by the world you've taught history to, Sean, but however paltry you consider Black's efforts to be, I don't think it's an effort to mock. Regardless of how he got there, he could have used his time less productively, or to selfishly pursue his own interests. He didn't.

          • I wll be interested to see if Black's recent prison experiences have truly changed him (in a small, large or whatever sized way), or if he reverts to the Black of old.

            Of course he'll actually have to be acquitted first; if he isn't a few more years will have to pass before we can know.

          • For the record, I think there's much to admire about Black. His intellect, command of language, entrepreneurial drive, and to be sure his deportment while incarcerated are all worthy of praise and respect.

            And whatever potential excesses of greed and entitlement he may have suffered from, one cannot deny his business skills and achievements. I'm not one to hate achievement.

            All of that said – and I meant all of it – am I the only one who remembers his tendencies toward aloof grandeur? His ego that requires a second chauffered vehicle to accompany him? His cultivated accent that grew increasingly like a B-movie stereotype? The dude 'puts on airs', as my grandmother would have said. The joke was really only poking fun at that.

        • Tell that to Dominion Stores employees that he tried to screw out of their pensions (my brother-in-law being one of them)

      • Is that envy talking?

    • It seems that either a rich con-man is getting off without much jail time, or a rich media man was targeted by the justice system because of his wealth and possibly his politics.

      Either way I care a great deal.

    • John D……..I suspect most Canadians could care less about Conrad Black. However, the media have to fill their pages and newscasts with something. Why not Black.

  8. Jury Duty. They make me fill out forms, make me list my occupation, and make me sit in a room for a week with bad coffee and ass-pinching chairs.

    All under pain of fine or imprisonment. Surely, we can find a voluntary jury? Conrad, you've got some time to kill, no?

    • Not to mention that they can even ask you your political views and perhaps even your views on sexual orientation depending on the case.

    • Actually jury duty is one of the easiest things in the world to get rid of. I had to call a phone #, and tell them I had class that day, and I was dismissed. And I actually WANTED to do it.

  9. He's a libertarian, you see. Hates government and all its forms.

    There, fixed.

  10. Good to have you back! Now I have even more reasons not to do any work.

  11. "Why does government force me to fill out a tax form under threat of fine or jail? Mitts off, Big Brother. Surely a voluntary tax form will result in the exact same amount of money being paid to government."

    Amusing post as usual, SF, but one little quibble – we actually DO have a "voluntary compliance" tax system – there is no fine or jail if you don't fill out a tax form (unless you are the subject of a formal demand for one").

    • There's a penalty for being late.

      • Believe me…it's a fine pretending to be a late fee…

    • Great Walls of Fire……you are right the tax system is a voluntary compliance system. If you don't submit your tax return nothing happens until they find out you haven't submitted a return. However, the likelihood of them catching you is pretty small.

  12. I have a morbid facination in following the Liberal leader's "Iggy shuffle" across Canada, as he attempts to show us Canucks that he really is Canadian.
    The most recent photo-op has him at a small town BBQ, hoisting a beer—a Coors light! Jaysus, couldn't his handlers have found a Labatt blue, or Molson Canadian to put in his hand? Even a mickey of Screech, but not an AMERICAN beer!
    Starting his trip, the bus breaks down and gets repaired at "Harpers"
    garage. Then the bus driver gets lost and has no idea where they are.
    Now we have this "Coors" gaffe. On second thought, it's probably not his handlers after all. I think they may have been vetted by Bob Rae!