Monthly Archives: February 2010

Spending ourselves silly

With a federal budget due Thursday I must harp on government fiscal irresponsibility. Wait a minute. This isn’t a harp. It’s a pitchfork. Where have you led us?

The Citizen assured us it’ll be steady-as-she-sinks for the feds, with “no new spending measures or tax cuts beyond what the Harper government has announced already in its plan to stimulate the economy, says a senior government official.” The newspaper reported that the government official’s comments “appear to douse speculation the Conservatives are transitioning to a period of serious belt tightening” — that, despite Treasury Board president Stockwell Day’s hints that the government would identify specific programs to be cut, “there will be no absolute spending cuts in the budget” (according, again, to that senior government official.)

Gosh, was that just rube bait? Continue reading

In defence of thrift

Can our financial problems really be so bad Jim Flaherty can help? The thought inspires panic.

So do the statistics. Apparently Canadian families took recent hard times as the ideal opportunity to make their own situation dramatically worse in the belief that … that … OK, what was the belief? Will someone tell me?

I’ll tell you the stats, courtesy of the Vanier Institute on the Family. The average Canadian family’s debt rose to $96,100 in 2009, setting a record debt-to-income ratio of 145 per cent. “Faster, Higher, Stronger” is the Olympic motto, not a debt strategy, people. The Institute study sociologized that “some 1.3 million households could have a vulnerable or dangerously high debt service load by 2011.” Continue reading

Tintin in Sleep Country

Over the years Tintin has laughed off yetis, international drug smugglers, the curses of dead Aztec kings, hundreds of concussions, crocodiles and alien abduction. Even bullets seemed only to graze him. But now the intrepid Belgian boy reporter has met his match in Quebec’s language paranoia.

As the National Post reported on Saturday, 30 years of wildly popular translations of Tintin’s adventures into regional dialects from Alsace to Tahiti came to a screeching halt when the book, titled Colocs en stock, got the usual reception accorded outsiders in la belle province, a withering, non-negotiable, contemptuous, “If you don’t know why I’m angry I’m certainly not going to explain it.” Mille millions de mille sabords, if I may say so. Continue reading

Our two-tier system

If vindication is sweet, why do I have this bitter taste in my mouth over socialized medicine like I just ate stale kibble?

I ask because it is now 16 years (where do they go?) since I began an article in Fraser Forum: “Would you eat in a restaurant whose owners ordered out? If the answer is no, you need to think hard about socialized medicine, and about the case of Robert Bourassa. You also need to think about the ‘restaurant critics,’ the media, who haven’t reported what sounds to me like a major story.” Bourassa had gone to the United States for cancer treatment, but neither he, his political fellows nor the media claque would admit that citizens ought in principle to have the same right.

What has been the result of years of culpable silence since? Our doctor shortage has grown worse, our waiting lists longer, our expenses higher, our population older and our politicians still yap in the same shrill, annoying manner. And now Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams is off to the U.S. for medical treatment. In the interest of decency I wish him a quick and successful recovery. But just maybe he’d like to reciprocate by admitting that if it’s good for him, it could be good for us. Continue reading