Sunday, December 31, 2006

Border crossings - profiling

We travelled to Bellingham, Washington last week to spend Christmas at a seaside hotel and spa. The trip went smoothly. No delays for weather and the hotel and Christmas dinner were excellent.

But speaking of delays - the only significant one was crossing the border. No problem entering the U.S.A. at the Peace Arch - it took all of ten minutes including the time actually speaking to a U.S. customs official. After handing the border agent our passports we answered a couple of pertinent questions - how long staying, purpose of visit, anything to declare? Welcome to the United States.

Crossing back into Canada two days later it was a slightly different story. The crossing at Sumas, Washington near Abbotsford was backed up at least a half hour. Not that the line was very long - there must have been about twenty cars ahead of us waiting to go through one of two open gates. It turned out that Canadian customs was being extra thorough:

Customs agent: citizenship?
Me: (handed her our passports)
Agent: (a little more forcefully) citizenship?!
Me: Canadian.
Agent: Where were you born?
Me: Canada.
Agent: Where do you live?
Me: Victoria.
Agent: When did you cross into the U.S.?
Me: On Sunday.
Agent: Anything to declare?
Me: No.
Agent: You didn’t buy anything?
Me: Nothing.
Agent: Any alcohol or tobacco?
Me: Nope.
Agent: When did you cross into the U.S.?
Me: On Sunday.
Agent: Is this the same vehicle you crossed into the U.S. with?
Me: Yes.
Agent: What is your occupation?
Me: I’m retired.
Agent: What was your occupation before you retired?
Me: Military.
Agent: Are you carrying any weapons in your vehicle?
Me: No.
Agent: What was the purpose of your trip?
Me: A short vacation.
Agent: (long pause) Welcome back.

No wonder there was a backup. Makes you wonder though. Certainly the thorough grilling couldn’t have much to do with Canada’s post 9/11 security concerns:). My guess is officiousness, posturing and going after taxes on purchases in the U.S. Or, maybe we were being profiled. Whitebread anglos get the grilling. The swarthy, bearded guy with the Arabic accent, wife in full burqha and ragged passport stamped in Syria they let by in a flash.

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 28, 2006


I rather liked this column by Brigitte Pellerin in today's Victoria Times Colonist. She's had it with sanctimonious eco-bores who constantly harangue the rest of us with their self-righteous caring for the environment - but do nothing about it. Taking Quebecers as a prime example:

...front-page story in the Dec. 23 edition of La Presse trumpeted the discovery that the "Planet's fate worries Quebecers." Wow. A recent survey found that Quebecers "remain the most preoccupied about their planet's future in the world." .... Fully 90 per cent of them "are now convinced of the dangers connected with global warming." .... Except the same poll found that a majority (56 per cent) are against any kind of tax increase to help fight climate change. But hey, 58.5 per cent say they wouldn't mind a special tax on SUVs .... you know, the kind of vehicle nasty rich people own. As long as it's some other chump's wallet that's getting hit ...

....a Pollara survey published in the Dec. 4 Maclean's that showed a certain disconnect between saying you're concerned for the environment and being prepared to do anything useful about it. "Quebecers," it said, "were the least willing to cut back on air conditioning or turn down the heat -- only 37 per cent ould. With 62 per cent, Ontario led."

Or take another recent front-page headline, also in La Presse, about a study by Quebec's public health institute showing Quebecers react to well-publicized smog alerts by immediately and determinedly doing ... nothing whatsoever.

As a Vancouver Islander this theme rings familiar to me. Islanders pride themselves greatly on their ecological commitment. But for all their verbal devotion to a clean environment they still cling to some distinctly odd customs. Take burning day in the Greater Victoria area, for example. Most communities set aside days when residents are permitted to burn garden and other waste in their yards. On designated burning days it's not uncommon to see thick, toxic smoke wafting from one yard to the next. Talk about second-hand smoke! Then there's the wood (and other noxious fuel)-burning stove, a favourite heating source on the island. Cough, cough! How quaint! Cough!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Dion's democracy - The Canadian Wheat Board

Among the many lovely features of economic life in Canuckistan are its totalitarian agricultural marketing cartels. These cartels, or 'marketing boards', are legally enforced monopolies which act as single buyers for specific farm products, setting production quotas as well as prices. Farmers must, by law, sell to the marketing boards. Violators risk fines and jail.

This draconian system of marketing is, naturally, controversial. The new Conservative government has been attempting to curb the power of the Canadian Wheat Board over opposition objections. And this week Agriculture Minister Chuck Strahl, fired the CWB President because of his intransigence on the issue. Liberal leader, Stephane Dion has been gaming the situation and making strange noises. So I sent him an email:
Dear Mr. Dion,

Re. Your position regarding the Canadian Wheat Board.

You are quoted in this Globe and Mail story as follows:

"We have a democratic process, and the government is jeopardizing this democratic process. It's an additional reason why we must condemn what the government is doing," Mr. Dion said.

First, what is "democratic" about forcing farmers to join a marketing cartel they do not wish to belong to? Truly democratic choice would give individual farmers the right to decide how they sell their product - not be forced by law, under threat of jail, to sell it to one government mandated buyer. If the Charter doesn’t support this most basic of freedoms then it isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.

Second, why should Western farmers be singled out for this abuse? Unless you are proposing to similarly abuse ALL producers including those in Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes then I suggest that you, sir, are being spectacularly disingenuous.

You are respectfully encouraged to rethink your position on this matter with a view to supporting true democracy and to desist from purely political gamesmanship.


cc. Agriculture Minister Chuck Strahl

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Environmentalism “an attack on the world’s poor”

Envirophilosophy 101 - poor people should stay poor.

Mine Your Own Business is a documentary film about multinational environmentalists’ arrogant, bigoted and dishonest efforts to halt mining projects which would provide valuable opportunities for otherwise chronically unemployed, impoverished people.

Peter Foster provides an excellent review of the film in today’s Post:

The film is devastating because it combats prejudices and fantasies with pictures that refute thousands of [environmentalist] weasel words.

World Wide Fund for Nature’s Mark Fenn ...[while] building a luxury home in Fort Dauphin, Madagascar also fighting a mining proposal by Rio Tinto ...[claiming] a mine will ruin the town’s "quaintness" and that poor people are happier, smile more and have less stress ... if they acquire money they will "just spend it" on fripperies such as beer, stereos and jeans. ...they don’t value housing, nutrition and education.

In Chile, at the site of [a proposed] mine ...a community desperate for jobs but being manipulated by the distant forces of organized environmentalism.

Greenpeace representative Herwig Schuster ... interviewed from Vienna... sounded like Peter Lorre at his most sinister ... claimed that poor people didn’t need air conditioning and "big cars".

Noted development economist Deepak Lal is left to deliver the bottom line: Much of environmentalism is effectively an attack on the world’s poor.

Mr. Foster notes that a segment of the film aired on CBC’s The Current last Friday - "in marked contrast to a piece on The Current three years ago ... which largely swallowed the environmentalists’ party line."

Mine Your Own Business deserves the widest possible publicity.

"The Big Blow"

Back up after four days without electricity! Thank God for natural gas!

Last Thursday night strong winds hit the west coast causing massive damage to power lines on Vancouver Island and the lower mainland. Over 250,000 BC Hydro customers lost power. The Victoria area experienced hurricane force winds and many were left without electricity for five or more days. A few are still down.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Climate change HYSTERIA!!! ... and climb-down

Sierra Club off the deep end

Last week, on the front page of the Victoria Times-Colonist, we were treated to a Sierra Club horror story complete with color map of Victoria showing the flooded city after a six to twenty-five meter rise in sea levels. According to the TC story: "Sierra Club B.C. executive director Kathryn Molloy said the six-metre rise is a "best-case scenario" that can be averted only if steps are taken right away."

This was followed the next day (to my surprise) by several letters from readers who decried the Chicken Little alarmism being promoted by the Sierra Club and the Times-Colonist. One, an actual UVic climate scientist, wrote to complain that "...the silly and counterproductive Sierra Club of BC .....would so overstate the case as to make it ridiculous".

Today the Sierra Club’s Kathryn Malloy is back in the TC with a more measured analysis trying to explain away its earlier alarmism. Now, according to Malloy:

Well, the last time Earth became 2C warmer was 130,000 years ago, and sea levels were roughly six metres higher. [my emphasis]
At least the Sierra Club admits the earth was warmer prior to the current modern period of human industry. Though, apparently the more recent (800-1300 AD) ‘mediaeval warm period’ (MWP) is still too ‘controversial’ to mention in polite company. This warm period was, until very recently, part of accepted climate science - accepted, that is, until it got in the way of global warming theory. The UN IPCC (author/publisher of the thoroughly debunked junk science global warming ‘hockey-stick’ graph) is one of the main sowers-of-doubt about the MWP’s significance.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Kofi Annan - good riddance!

Kofi Annan is nearing the end of his double five year tenure as UN head honcho. Yesterday, in a final official speech from the Truman library in Independence Missouri, the heart of the UN's host country, he attacked President George W. Bush and the USA for failing to measure up to Kofi’s high expectations. Being a ‘diplomat’ Annan tried to be ‘nuanced’ - praising President Truman as a leader who [unlike Bush] understood the way the world should work.

Robert Fulford, in his National Post column today, does a masterful job of exposing Annan for the feckless blowhard that he is:

"...President Harry Truman, a great leader who would have regarded Annan with contempt."

"Never addicted to the truth, Annan has clearly decided he won’t abruptly change his ways during his last weeks at the UN."

"...few have given a more flagrant display of mediocrity than Annan."

"Annan’s UN declined in effectiveness while deteriorating internally. Scandals...rapes habitually committed by UN troops in the Congo...failure in Darfur [and Rawanda] ... [Oil-for-fraud] Billions of dollars were used improperly."

"...Annan seems to talk nonsense just to keep in practice."

"...moving his lips and emitting sounds as if he had something of value to say."

The good news is that Kofi Annan will soon be gone. Good riddance!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Afghanistan Study Group!?

Over at the "The Torch" there's an excellent entry concerning a column by Rudyard Griffiths in today’s Toronto Star. Griffiths proposes Canada’s very own version of the Baker/Hamilton “Iraq Study Group”. There's a link to an especially good rebuttal in an forum.

Three points:
(1) wouldn’t we be in danger of ‘Americanizing’ our foreign policy decision process? :()
(2) there will be, no doubt, many supporters of the idea among the pacifists in the NDP, Liberals and Bloc, and;
(3) Taliban Jack Layton will be happy that someone validated his notorious call for negotiations with the enemy and its supporters and sympathizers.

Friday, December 8, 2006

B1-B straight down the centerline!

But forgetting to lower the landing gear can be costly!

Story and more photos.

(Thanks to Vinney Di)

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

‘Sustainable development’ - Kyoto’s close cousin

Stéphane Dion, Mr. SD

Sustainable development (SD) is another of those 'big ideas' that is apparently beyond question. Like Kyoto it’s been effectively sold and is now widely accepted. SD is ‘the answer’ to all issues of conservation, resource management and ... you name it. Every government and every corporation touts SD as part of its 'corporate social responsibility' agenda.

Although SD is widely accepted, few have any real idea what it is. And on close inspection the concept is so fuzzy as to have little meaning at all. But, as with most platitudes, it sounds virtuous, so it must be good.

Peter Foster, in an excellent column in today’s National Post highlights newly minted Liberal leader Stéphane Dion's attachment to the notion and exposes it for the nonsense that it is:

The problem is that sustainable development is an anti-concept -- designed semantically to be beyond question or even fundamental discussion. After all, who speaks for unsustainable development?

That definition sure has a familiar ring to it. And SD, naturally, suffers the same difficulty as Marx’s dictum. Mr. Foster explains:
Sounds reasonable. But only a moment's reflection demonstrates insurmountable problems. What are "needs?" Are they synonymous with "wants?" If not, who decides which is which? And what are "the needs of the present?" would be impossible to calculate or express the needs of even one person, let alone compare the needs of two. .....One thing is for sure, not all present needs are being met, so why should we consider catering collectively to those of the future, assuming, of course, that we have any idea of what "future needs" might be, which we don't, and can't.
The implicit assumption of the Brundtland formulation is that we live in a manageable, tribal world where needs are clearly defined and "collective-action problems" (as left-wing intellectuals love to call them) can be hashed out around the campfire.
And, finally, referring to Mr. Dion:
....anybody who embraces the glib nostrums of sustainable development is not merely at best a conventional thinker, he is not much of a thinker at all.

....the bland formulation provided by the socialist-packed UN Brundtland commission in 1987, that SD is "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Kyoto - Speaking of heads in the sand!

Global warming as religion. Dogma as 'science'.

In today’s National Post is an article by Timothy Ball and Tom Harris on the Kyoto non-debate. Conservative MP Bob Mills, as opposition environment critic, once put forward a very sensible motion:

"That given the importance and impact of the Kyoto Protocol on Canada and the entire world, and given that this committee has never studied the science behind the Kyoto Protocol, that several prominent climate (and other related fields) scientists from both sides of the issue be invited to testify on the science behind the Kyoto Protocol before the Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development at a mutually agreeable time and date."

Very sensibly, Mills argued:

"To just hear one side of an issue is certainly not what I think a committee should do and it's not in good conscience that we can do that."

But Liberal MP Charles Cassia, disagreed:
"I couldn't think of a more undesirable use of the committee's time."

And "the motion was soundly defeated."

Now, with the Conservatives in power, Mills has done a complete about face. Apparently he, like the opposition Liberals, NDP and BQ, has become a Kyoto "true believer". There is no longer any need to hear from anyone who might have different ideas on climate science.

Well, as disappointing as this is, I suppose we shouldn’t be too surprised. Kyoto never was about sound science. Despite the facts that the GHG hypothesis remains unproven, that there are good reasons to doubt it and that there are compelling alternate theories, human-induced global warming has become an article of faith. So, as with any religious dogma, it's sacrilege to question it. And since 'Kyoto' has been so effectively ‘sold’ to the public, it is now completely politicized. The Tories know if they don’t manage it carefully their re-election prospects could be seriously damaged.

So, non-true-believers are in a bind. Beyond continuing to delude ourselves that there will ever be real debate on the science, we can only hope our government doesn't do anything to wreck the economy for negligible effect. Because, even if Kyoto science were accurate, given the small size of our economy, no matter what Canada does, or does not do, its effect on global climate will be somewhere between unmeasureable and nil.

Sunday, December 3, 2006

'Londonistan' - lessons for Canuckistan?

I’m in the middle of reading Melanie Phillips’ extraordinary book ‘Londonistan’. It’s a gripping account of how four decades of multicultural folly has resulted in Britain’s having become a centre for the Islamist global jihad against Western civilization. Those who are interested in the root causes of events like 9/11 and its British version - 7/7 will find them in this book. And for the many Canadians who have their heads in the sand, as the Brits did (and still do), it’s striking how whole sections and paragraphs remain true when ‘Canada’ is substituted for ‘Britain’. A sample:

The expression of British majority values therefore became synonymous with racism. Multiculturalism and antiracism were now the weapons with which minorities were equipped to beat the majority. Not all minorities, mind you — Jews were not considered to be a minority because of the prevalent Marxist analysis that racism necessarily involved power, and since Jews were seen to be powerful, they were part of the majority and so could never be victims. Anyone from the third world, however, was suitably powerless and therefore their values had to trump those of the majority. And anyone who resisted this was pronounced guilty of racism or xenophobia. This was the new "tolerant" society.

A highly recommended must read!

Saturday, December 2, 2006

It's Stéphane Dion

In a fourth ballot 55/45 vote Stéphane Dion beat out Michael Ignatief for the Liberal leadership.

Now what is the Conservative braintrust to make of this!? Who knows, but in my opinion Dion was the least weasel-like of the three 3rd ballot front-runners. But he's still a Liberal (ie. an illiberal neo-liberal) so he's still a potential big-government disaster should he come to power. Worse, he's from the Québécois 'nation' which is infested with separatists, soft-nationalists and pacifists at the core of an economic basket-case nanny-province.

Dion ran on three priorities:

The economy - who didn't?
Social justice - the socialist mirage
The environment - Mr. Kyoto (yikes!)

Robin Sears on CBC's 'Politics' said Dion was the best bet for a Conservative victory. Don't know about that but I sure hope he's right.