Cultureguru's Weblog

Of food, technology, movies, music, and travel—or whatever else strikes my fancy


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Tasting locally and freshly

For the third (or so) year in a row, Jean and I attended Foodlink’s Taste Local! Taste Fresh! event. This year, as in all previous, it was a beautiful, sunny day. The venu was new, however; a park in St. Jacob’s instead of at Victoria Park in Kitchener.

I had been emailed several times about this event, so was starting to wonder if ticket sales were slow. Apparently not, though, because there were plenty of people on hand. I later heard it sold out. This despite $65 ticket, which is arguably pretty expensive.

What you got for your money was access to 20 booths where local restaurants combine with local food producers to come up with a tasting dish. This year, in a nice touch, we each got a porcelain dish to get the food on, replacing the previous biodegradable styrofoam. As previous year’s, we left completely full from the experience, despite not having lunch first nor dinner after (though we did eat breakfast).

Best ingredient discovery: Ground emu. Which tastes very much like ground beef, as become clear in the mini emu burgers served by Benjamin’s. But it doesn’t have the health and environmental concerns that beef does. I want to get me more emu!

Most creative dish: Charbries’ tomato lollypop and tomato cotton candy. Delicious and nutritious! But seriously, reminded you that tomatoes are a fruit, yet not being a terribly sweet one, the cotton candy and lollypop weren’t sicky sweet. Very nicely done.

Most popular dish: Ironically, the one we simply did not have room for, as we kept waiting for the line to diminish — and it never did. This was Art Bar’s mini hot dogs, hand made with local organic beef.

Also pretty darn popular, and we did try this: Whole Lotta Gelata’s Fire and Ice, which combined a piece of local beef (again) with savory gelato: garlic, chipotle flavor. Actually, very good.

Clearly, this was a meatatarian crowd.

Most useful information: That Uptown21 has a few special dinners coming up in October, including one on October 29, partnered with WordsWorth, featuring recipes by Lucy Waverman (Globe food writer). You also get a copy of her cookbook.

New restaurant discovery: Duke Street Muse,  a vegetarian restaurant and cafe, which made a nice curried veggied dip. Because we sometimes do have to dine with vegetarians.

And actually, the vegetarian contingent acquitted itself nicely. For example, we really enjoyed the veggies and herbed cheese balls from The Children Museum’s Exhibit Cafe, and also the delicious ginger pumpkin cheezecake by Divinely Raw.

Also noteworthy: Uptown21’s smoked lamb fantastico was delicious, if messy; 20 King’s beet cannoli’s were delicious; and it’s hard to go wrong with baked brie from Harmony Organics (by Vidalia’s).

Funniest moment: Talking with the representative from Lyndon fish hatcheries, whom we’d previously sat with at one of those local chef’s gala dinners we go to: “Oh, I remember you. You’re the ones who blogged about us!”


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Good news

From this weekend’s Globe and Mail:

Site 41

Nobody expected the little people to win. Yet this week in the hinterland north of Toronto, a ragtag alliance of farmers, natives and knitting grannies saved an aquifer with the purest water on earth. Joe Friesen explains how the subjects of Tiny Township defeated the King of Simcoe politics and all but killed the dump.


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Almost too stupid to believe

Tiny Township is a, well, very small township northeast of Collingwood. And it just happens to be the location of the world’s cleanest water.

The water bubbling to the surface is so clean the only match for its purity is ice pulled from the bottom of Arctic ice cores from snows deposited thousands of years ago, well before any high-polluting industries existed.

So naturally, they’re planning to put a bunch of garbage on top of it, turning the whole area into a big landfill site.

This, despite the fact that there are plenty of alternative dump sites (this isn’t Toronto; there are plenty of open spaces around), and that:

Paradoxically, given how much people are willing to pay for clean water, the pristine water is a nuisance at the dump site.

In order to dig out a pit for the dump, the county will have to pump millions of litres out of the ground to prevent the landfill from becoming a pond. The pure water Dr. Shotyk uses for his laboratory experiments will be dumped into a nearby creek.

The amounts wasted in this way will be large, enough to slake the needs of up to 250,000 people a day for months.

The landfill is designed so that clean groundwater is supposed to seep into the dump and become contaminated with garbage residue.

So to repeat — Canada — Ontario — has the source of the cleanest, purest water on Earth.

And our big plan is to contaminate it.

Now, when water shortages are one of the many looming disasters the world (if not Canada itself, as much) is currently facing.

When I first read about this — it was a couple years ago — I tried to ignore it and hope it would go away. But this thing could start in a couple months if a group of local citizens don’t succeed in getting a one-year moratorium imposed on it.

So when the Council of Canadians called me (no, I don’t have call display) for donations, I was working up to let them down gently, until they mentioned that this issue is what they were working on. Then I had to donate to their efforts to stop it. Because I didn’t what else to do, other than feel embarassed, and enraged.


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Yes nukes, fast trains, and no oil

A few years ago, while on vacation in Costa Rica, I read George Monbiot’s Heat: How to Stop the Planet from Burning. While I don’t recommend it as vacation reading, it was interesting. The premise was how Britain (as example country) could reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 90%, yet still maintain a decent standard of living.

I thought he had a number of good ideas, but one I didn’t agree with was his dismissal of nuclear power as one option. He struggled with it, and the fact that it produces no greenhouse gas emissions, but finally concluded he couldn’t live with the waste disposal issue. But I thought the issue was global warming?

So I was kind of pleased to see the very lefty This Magazine coming around to that same point of view. While they sadly haven’t made the whole article available online, you can get the gist from the cover: “Wind and solar can’t save us from climate change. Like it or not, nuclear power can.”

The Walrus’ “Off the Rails” focused on the sad state of train travel in Canada. Though I thought I basically knew the score here, I was surprised to learn that Canada did have high-speed trains; it just never had the infrastructure to actually run them at their maximum speeds. And also, that the US actually has some high-speed trains (Boston to Washington). And that they’re thinking of adding more—that might even connect to Canada! Toronto to New York by train, anyone? That would be awesome!

Pretty struck, too, by the graph of greenhouse gas emissions, per passenger, for train, plane, and automobile. First two — not as different as I thought. Last one — much better than I thought. (Too bad the graph is not in the online version of the article. Guess they need to give you some reason to buy the paper version.)

But most striking, for sure, was The Walrus article called “An Inconvenient Talk”. Which basically argues that, way before global warming becomes a crisis, we’re going to run out of oil. And that will be a crisis.

OK, sure, not the first time we’ve heard about this “running out of easy oil” point. But Chris Turner is a very good writer:

Here’s the upshot: if you plan to drive a car or heat a house or light a room in 2030, The Talk is telling you your options will be limited, to say the least. Even if you’re convinced climate change is UN-sponsored hysteria or every last puff of greenhouse gas will soon be buried forever a mile underground or ducks look their best choking on tar sands tailings, Dave Hughes is saying your way of life is over. Not because of the clouds of smoke, you understand, but because we’re running out of what makes them.

And he focuses on a pretty convincing subject in the form of Dave Hughes, whose life mission is now to inform people about this problem looming all too soon. (10-20 years, he says.)

And, Turner boosts this with views from others. Like the IEA:

As recently as 2005, well into Dave’s second career as a peak-hydrocarbon prophet, the executive director of the International Energy Agency (IEA) — probably the most trusted name in fossil fuel reserve prediction — was dismissing peak oil’s proponents as “doomsayers.” Mainstream media coverage, meanwhile, tended to focus on the hard-core survivalist subculture the science had inspired.

Two weeks after you ride along with Dave Hughes for Talk No. 155, though, the IEA releases the latest edition of its annual World Energy Outlook, which predicts a global oil production peak or plateau by 2030. In a video that appears online soon after, the Guardian’s George Monbiot [him again] requests a more precise figure from the IEA’s chief economist, Fatih Birol. The official estimate, he confesses, is 2020. Monbiot also inquires as to the motivation for the IEA’s sudden about-face, and Birol explains dryly that previous studies were “mainly an assumption.” That is, the 2008 version was the first in which the IEA actually examined hard data, wellhead by wellhead, from the world’s 800 largest oil fields. Monbiot asks, with understandable incredulity, how it was that such a survey hadn’t been conducted previously. Birol’s response: “In fact, nobody has done that research. And the research we have done this year is the first in the world…”

And from Alberta oil patch executives:

He calls the $150-a-barrel price shock of last summer “just a prelude.” “People take it for granted,” he told you, “that they can go to the gas station and fill it up. I don’t think in two or three years that’s something you’ll be able to take for granted. I really don’t.”

And as you read all this, you keep thinking to yourself what Chris Turner keeps saying you are thinking to yourself: “This can’t be right…”


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Busy, busy

Been a fairly active few days; I’ll try to catch up with a variety of things here…

The new Ignatieff ads

If these work, I’ll be terribly disappointed in my fellow Canadians.

Verses continues to excel

The new summer menu is out! The new herbed gnochi with wild mushroom appetizer is wonderful, and Jean declared the foie gras possibly the best ever. Anywhere. Also pretty cool: “The cocoa nib braised Belgium endive” on the duck breast main course.

Hannah’s doesn’t survive the loss of its chef

Website is still up, but Hannah’s Bistro restaurant is history. There’s a sign on the door saying they’ve vacated the premises with rent due.

West Side Story‘s a winner

We saw a preview performance with my parents at Stratford; it was excellent, with a really strong cast of young dancers and singers. And even though I knew perfectly well what would happen to Tony, it still made me cry.

Drowning in Riesling

Well, not really, but do have a good stock visiting four Beamsville-area wineries with the folks. At Angel’s Gate, besides the Riesling, I took a chance on a blend not available for tasting. At East Dell we didn’t do any sampling, but I do recommend the restaurant. Malivoire‘s Gamay and the Gerwurtz won me over, and Cave Spring I liked everything I tried, and took home the Estate Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir.

And we all gained appreciation for Jean’s GPS on the drive home.

Television finales

In the evenings, we caught up on some of these:

  • Grey’s Anatomy: Now there are rumours that Izzy isn’t really dead. That would just be cruel. (Still liking Owen and Christina, Bailey, and little Gray + McSteamy. Whom Mom agreed really does look like my cat.)
  • Bones: I enjoyed it, but it was an odd season finale. And amnesia? Seriously?
  • Desperate Housewives: Bad news: Looks like Jackson (Gale Harold) won’t be on the show anymore. Good news? That means I no longer have to watch Desperate Housewives!
  • American Idol: OK, I only read about (didn’t watch) the finale, just as I’ve only read about (never watched any of) the entire season, but I’m still surprised Adam didn’t win.
  • 30 Rock. Funny.
  • How I Met Your Mother. The goat! The jumping! Barney and Robin! Yay! And also very funny.

Still a bit over-ambitious

Oh, not in my career. I mean in my cooking. Hosted sister, brother-in-law, and kids over with the parents, and saying I said just make a simpler dinner. One main course, not three. Dessert made ahead. Simple appetizer. Yet somehow I still ended up peeling lima beans for the guacamole (don’t ask) and spending three hours on lasagna.

Everything was good, though.

By the time we got to Woodstock

It had been over for 40 years. So we had to make do with a symphonic makeover. Which frankly, was really enjoyable, and much more comfortable than sitting on a blanket in the mud while tripping on acid. (Oh dear. I’m old.) Highlights:

  • Rik Emmett doing Hendrix (All Along the Watchtower) and Santana (Black Magic Woman) justice on the guitar.
  • The rock chicks—Rique Franks letting loose on Joplin’s “Piece of my Heart”, Katalin Kiss on “White Rabbit”.
  • Neil Donnell channeling Joe Cocker in the liveliest performance I’ve ever seen him give, totally capturing the gravely voice while still hitting every note perfectly (as he does). Fantastic orchestration on this one (With a Little Help From My Friends), too.

My one quibble, being me? Just talking about how great The Who were at Woodstock, but not performing any Who—”because we already did The Who this season.” Yes, like everyone in the audience would be so upset to hear symphonic “Pinball Wizard” again only nine months later! That’s way too soon!

Geek excitement–Tasks in Google calendar!

The one feature I like in Lotus Notes–the To Do lists–now finally available in the email program I otherwise prefer! A geeky thrill!


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Open ear-ed

Open Ears is a Kitchener Festival of Music and Sound, the goal of which is hearing new things, or old things in new ways. This year’s theme is environments.

The KW Symphony is a major sponsor, and the first Open Ears event we attended was indeed a Symphony concert at Centre in the Square. Called “Sound Explorations,” the first half featured R. Murray Schafer’s “The Darkly Splendid Earth: The Lonely Traveller,” with concert master Stephen Sitarski walking to different parts of the stage to play his various moody solos. It ended with Benjamin Britten’s “The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra,” a very lively tour through every instrument in the symphony. And in between, we got John Cage’s 4’33”. That would be four minutes and thirty-three seconds of the various sections of the orchestra raising their instruments, yet none of them ever playing a note.

So, yeah, that was different. But not that different. And certainly not in a different environment.

So this weekend, we explored. We went out to downtown Kitchener for a 10:30 PM concert by a band called The Books, at a club called The Gig. The Books’ thing is sampling sound, and films, and writing songs around them, but on acoustic instruments. Their entire show had visuals, from home movies, old films, TV clips, whatever. The songs they come up with range from the quite lovely and touching to the completely confounding and dissonant. It’s a lot to take in, actually. So the hour or so they played was about right.

But though done with The Books, we weren’t done, not quite yet—even though it was now approaching midnight. Instead we went on to a Blue Dot event at The Tannery. We were even less sure what this was supposed to be (the brochure said an experiential metophor. Gee, thanks, that’s helpful), or what The Tannery was, exactly.

Turns out that The Tannery is an old warehouse, converted to a nightclub kind of thing. The whole place was somewhat dimly lit, with use of blue light in one section, art slides projected on one wall, a film loop of something like an Olympic gymnast projected on another wall, various physical art pieces on display, a DJ playing electronica, a Bohemian crowd (we were guessing, mostly in their 20s?)… It certainly created an intriguing atmosphere. So we went to the upper level and took it in.

About a half hour, maybe 45 minutes after we arrived, we were all ushered into another room for an art event. This turned out to be three guys—one of whom was hunky KW conductor Edwin Outwater—each standing on a podium thingie, each swinging a speaker, with a lights, from a rope, over their heads. Meanwhile, the artist adjusted the sound from this central console. At some points all the room lights went out, leaving only the illumination from the swinging speaker thingies, creating a kind of strobe effect.

It was pretty cool, actually. Though looked absolutely exhausting to participate in.

(YouTube video of this performance—not from Kitchener, of course).

Then it was back to the big club room, as the music was to be playing all night.

Of course, we’re too old for that kind of thing, so we stay much longer, thereby missing out on whatever other coolness ensued. But we certainly did experience new sounds in new environments.

And then this morning, CBC Radio gave me a new appreciation of disco music. But that’s a subject for another day.


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Earth Day gala dinner

Last year, J and I went alone (together), the event was sold out, prizes were drawn (and we won one), we sat with local food producers or sellers, and the food was quite good.

This year, we were with friends; the event was well-attended, but not quite sold out; there were no prize draws—just an auction, we sat an architect couple and couple consultants (who weren’t a couple); and the food was quite good.

It’s interesting sitting to dine with strangers, and the conversation did range quite a bit, from the artistic merit of local development projects to favourite sci-fi programs to best gay bashes each of us had ever attended. (I had little to report there.) At least nobody was bored.

And the food? Well, I kept the menu, so I can give a pretty darn good run-down. All wines were from Pelee Island winery.

Water: Smoked arctic char on green bean and mesclun salad. Served with Gewurztraminer reserve.
I loves me the local smoked arctic char, and the slightly sweet Gewurtz did nicely set off the acidity of the salad.

Earth: Goat cheese with marinated tomatoes, arugula, and beet essence. Served with sauvignon blanc.
Really nice goat cheese, and the tomatoes had so much flavor! It reminded me of summer. And the wine took on a totally different—and better—character with this food.

Air: Ravioli stuffed with duck confit, duck prosciutto, and saffron cream. Served with Pinot Noir.
My favourite course of the meal, rivaling the best duck raviolo we’ve ever had previously (which was in the Eastern Townships in Quebec). I think I have to try making this stuff myself sometime. And the Pinot did seem fruity enough to stand up to this.

Land: Lamb medallions, beef tenderloin, sweet potatoes, and carrots. Serer with Carbernet Sauvignon/Petit Verdot.
The meatatarian delight! Beef should have been cooked a little less, in my opinion, and overall, a bit of a downer after the duck. But we were pretty spoiled by this point. The wine was no Australian but stood up OK to the food.

Heaven: Gingered apple cake with apple coulis creme fraiche. Served with late harvest vidal.
Nice little dessert, nice little dessert wine.

Managed to finish all courses despite the number of them. And glasses of wine were on the small side, so no headache the next day.

I’ll be looking out for this again next year.


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Doing my bit for democracy

For the first time in my life, I voted in the early polls. That’s it, I’m done. Now I can focus on a truly inspiring Canadian contest: Who is Canada’s favorite dancer? (Seriously, if you haven’t seen this thing? You should. It’s been delightful so far.)

But the economy is tanking, the polls are tightening, and the election is beginning to look like a bit of a booby prize—whoever wins this one is going to be blamed for the bad times, even if it’s not their fault.

So with all the market turmoil, can we just forget about combating global warming now? Wouldn’t that be nice. Remember, economic crises—we’ve gotten over them before, we’ll get over them again. Ecological crises—not so much. I’m going to quote Andrew Nikiforuk quoting Thomas Friedman, because they’re both real conservative guys:

By Friedman’s evocative accounting, the globe has now entered the “Energy-Climate Era” and faces several hot emergencies: petropolitics (it gives power and money to leaders who have earned neither); dramatic climate disruption; the rise of middle classes in India and China; and a real weapon of mass destruction, the catastrophic loss of biodiversity in the world’s forests and oceans. The global economy has become “a monster truck with the gas pedal stuck and we’ve lost the key.” Unless we switch to cleaner fuels, “our lives will be reduced, redacted, and restricted.”

And we’ve got about 10 years to do it. Cheery, huh?

Also interesting—because I just haven’t heard about it anywhere else—was Doug Saunders article about a scheduled meeting between presidents of the EU and whoever is Prime Minister on October 14. Subject: A potential economic partnership with Europe. Problem: All the Canadian provinces would have to agree with this, and Canadian provinces don’t agree on much. Saunders blames Harper’s policy of “open federalism” for just making this disunity worse.

Despite Europe’s stock market also being in a “boomerang” crisis, it’s still likelier to be a healthy trading partner in the next few years than the US, the source of the collapse. And it would be nice to have a PM who wasn’t philosophically opposed to getting all the provinces into one trading agreement with that lucrative market.


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An environmental take on strategic voting

Generally, I have to say, I hate voting strategically. However stupid it is in our “first past the post” system (and I still haven’t quite forgiven Ontarians for voting against changing it), I prefer to vote for something than against something else.

That said, I’m must admit to being relieved, this election, that the party I really do want to vote for also happens to be the party with by far the best odds of defeating the Conservatives in this riding.

But I come to this topic from an email I received from the environmental group, Just Earth.

What’s an environmentalist to do in the federal election? Even for card-carrying Greens, it is complicated. The party worst on the environment in general, and climate change in particular, is the Conservative party. All four others are better, although they differ on particulars. The Liberals have the excellent Green Shift plan, which the New Democrats reject, but the NDP is better on clean energy.

Strategic voting will be the option for many. A website has been launched that will help voters make a rational choice (www.voteforenvironment.ca). A riding by riding breakdown identifies races where the Conservatives won by a small margin, and are therefore vulnerable, and ridings where they are a close second and a threat. Some 60 ridings will make the difference, argues this (somewhat incognito) website.

With split votes, this would be the result: Conservative 147 seats, Liberal 76, NDP 34, Green 0, Bloc 49, independent 2.

If we “vote smart,” this would be the result: Conservative 97, Liberal 109, NDP 46, Green 1, Bloc 53, independent 2.

Not easy, though. Imagine being a federalist in Quebec faced the “strategic” choice of with voting Bloc or getting another Conservative elected!

Also interesting was this report (PDF) from the Sierra Club, which compares and grades the party’s environmental platforms as follows:

  • Green Party: A-
  • Liberals: B+
  • NDP: B
  • Bloc Québecois: B
  • Conservatives: F+

I must say, their assessment of the differences between Green, Liberal, and NDP on this front were smaller than I thought.

(Remember when votes used to get split on the right side of the political spectrum, too? I really miss those days.)


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Canadian election week 3. Sigh.

By the end of the week, I was getting pretty grumpy with all involved.

  • The Liberals, for being organized enough to put together a great platform, but not organized enough to sell it.
  • The NDP, for being on the wrong side of the carbon tax issue, even though they have a leader who should have credibility and integrity on this issue, above all others.
  • The Conservatives, for… well, for a lot of reasons, as you know, but especially for pandering to the worst sides of human nature.
  • Far too many of my fellow Canadians, for responding to that appeal.
  • And the Greens, for… Actually, I didn’t get annoyed with the Greens. But I’ll also not convinced they’re quite ready for prime time.

So took a little break on the weekend, took in a little of that arts and culture ordinary Canadians don’t care about, traveled green (bus, train, feet), and found a few little positives.

  • My local candidates debate, where nobody seemed awful. And yes, I even mean the Conservative guy, who can’t be completely hopeless, since they actually let him talk to the media and all that. (Thanks be I’m not in Harold Albrecht’s riding!)
  • Some Facebook vote trading group has been started, in an “anyone but the Conservatives” bid. Say you want to vote NDP but live in a riding where they don’t have a chance, you trade your vote with someone in a more NDP-friendly riding, and you vote their choice for them.
  • All of our parties are still better than the Republicans and their leaders. There’s always that.
  • And, our media, at least some of it some of the time, providing the analysis and details that politicians won’t discuss.

And on that last point… A few favourites from last week.

On carbon taxes

It doesn’t matter how often proponents pledge to recycle carbon tax money into lower taxes on incomes and companies. It doesn’t matter how many economists argue in favour of pricing carbon through a tax.

The Conservatives have distorted the carbon tax idea and scared people. The economy would be “wrecked,” Prime Minister Stephen Harper says. Funny then that Demark, with a carbon tax for a while now, had higher per capita growth than Canada from 1990 to 2006: 36 to 32 per cent.

What, therefore, remains? Policy incoherence across Canada, and Conservative and NDP plans that won’t get the job done. Mr. Harper has not spoken in the election about his “plan,” except to say he has one. What is it?

So in May, the government published the latest iteration of an incredibly complicated regulatory plan, many of the details of which are still unknown. Normally, Conservatives consider complicated regulations as to be viewed with great suspicion. But their “plan” offers the mother of all regulatory schemes.

The plan contains lots of little programs for conservation and renewables. They’re mostly inoffensive, but they won’t bring many emissions reductions.

The silliest is the public transit tax credit, introduced in the 2006 budget as an emissions reducer. The vast majority of people receiving the credit were already riding public transit. By the government’s own numbers, the credit will lower emissions this year by a risible 30,000 tonnes at a cost of $220-million – a staggeringly high per tonne cost.

Jeffrey Simpson – Full article

That $773 dollar of your taxes per ton, folks. That’s so much better than the $10 a ton the Liberals are proposing! Those fiscal conservatives — they are so smart! I totally see why they vote for the party that is so wise about its spending.

On crime

The party’s obsession with crime-and-punishment policies repugnant to urban voters suggests one of two things: Either it is secretly worried about collapsing support on the Prairies – as if! – or else it actually believes that voters lust for vengeance against children (now known as “denunciation” among politically correct Martians – denunciation for life).

How is it that representatives who hail largely from Canada’s most badly policed, violent cities and towns presume so easily to lecture the leaders of Canada’s best-policed, safest city?

Torontonians both pay significantly more on policing per capita than other Canadians, according to Statistics Canada, and they enjoy significantly safer streets than the residents of virtually every town in the country – outside Quebec, which is both the safest and the most liberal-minded province.

Thus the fruits of being “soft on crime.” Crime rates have dropped an amazing 30 per cent since 1991.

John Barber – Full article

On leadership

Stéphane Dion is an odd case. He keeps yapping about his green plan even as party hotshots tell him the story line has changed, we’re off that stuff. Could he think it isn’t a show – that the planet really is in danger? Would that count as real leadership rather than the acted kind? Poor Stéphane. Could he ever play a leader? Doubtful, although if he got elected somehow, and everyone onstage – journalists, MPs – treated him as a leader, he might start feeling, and acting it. Ah, the magic of theatre.

Why hasn’t Harper the Strong pulled away from the field? Why is the Layton NDP stuck? How has the weak, frail Dion hung in – as if voters are seeking something outside the strong leadership box? Such as – weak leadership. Isn’t that what real democracy would be about? It would disperse leadership among its citizens. In ancient Athens, they chose most leaders by lot, after policies were established in public debate. They made an exception only for leaders chosen in wartime.

So maybe the leadership axiom isn’t so axiomatic. An Ipsos Reid poll this week found 62 per cent of Canadians say they’re most “swayed” by party stances on key issues versus 21 per cent by leaders. Pollster Darrell Bricker was so stunned, and so committed to official theology, that he insulted voters by saying he didn’t know if they meant it or were just trying to give “the right answer.” To gain what, his approval? Maybe someone should poll the pollsters on whether they think Canadian voters have any brains.

— Rick Salutin, Full article

On quality of Conservative candidates

Among Conservatives, there is a lot of grassroots support for Chris Reid’s brand of conservatism. He wants to close the CBC and scrap the Indian Act and seems to have deep-seated rage issues – but Team Harper dumped him anyway. Word is that Stephen Harper draws the line at homosexuals with guns; and really, considering his record on that file, I can’t say I blame him.

As for the pro-drug, pro-prostitution Mr. Warawa, a spokesperson for the Prime Minister’s Office now says that, as of three days ago, he has changed his views and no longer believes anything he ever said on any issue whatsoever.

Rumour is that he has been run through a Conservative re-education camp. A few pistol whips from a flak-jacket-clad Peter McKay (“Who’s the bitch now, Warawa?”) topped off with a chemical lobotomy, and the boy is as good as new, a virtual Bev Oda – happy to be seen and not heard from ever again. He will make one hell of a cabinet minister some day.

By the sounds of it, when it comes to dealing with party dissidents, the Chinese government could learn a thing or two from our sweater-wearing Prime Minister.

— Rick Mercer Full article