Thursday, September 29, 2005 - Top court: B.C. can sue Big Tobacco

I've never smoked - and would be perfectly happy if the practice could be effectively banned. However, today's ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada is very worrying.

The Star's Report on the ruling

This basically allows a province to pass a law that makes people and companies retroactively liable for something. In the case that something is the sale of tobacco products, this something is a legal product - yes it's still a legal product on whose sales governments rake in $billions.

The arguments is that tobacco sellers knew of the risks caused by smoking - and hid the information. The inference is that governments didn't know. Poppycock! Almost as far back as tobacco has been available in western society people have known. King James I of England's viewed it as:

...a custome loathsome to the eye, hateful to the nose, harmful to the brain, dangerous to the lungs, and in the black stinking fume thereof nearest resembling the horrible stygian [dark and gloomy] smoke of the pit that is bottomless...

In other words, The Crown in the form of the King of England knew of the dangers. This very same Crown - in the form of the Province of BC somehow didn't.

The Crown should either make tobacco illegal - or stop bugging the tobacco companies.

Blink and you'd have missed it

Well - actually, you would have missed it. It was The Toronto Star coverage of a recent analysis that rated Toronto the most difficult place in Canada in which to conduct business. What's this you say? Well, if The Star is your only source of news, then you wouldn't have heard that Canadian Business Magazine rated Toronto 40th out of 40 Canadian cities as a location to start or expand a business. They simply decided not to rport on it.

Now the truth be told, Toronto does offer of advantages that cannot be captured or emasured in such a study. It has the size and diversity of skills, as well as the cultural amenities that can attract head offices. In fact Cadillac-Fairview has just announced that is considering a new office tower in the downtown core.

However, as everything in business, advantages and disavantages are weighed on opposing plates of the balance scale. If we go by the record of the last 15 years or so, the number of business voting with their feet to leave has outpaced those deciding to expand. The net result is that Toronto is the struggling economic heart to a robust overall regional economy. It isn't a healthy situation.

So while Mayor David Miller might well be right that "if your are serious about business, you come to Toronto", for many businesses, Toronto means Mississauga, Markham etc. GE has had its Canadian HQ out in Missisauga for as long as I can remember. IBM and many other technology companies seem to have set up their main shops in Markham. These companies are certainly serious about business.

It's troubling that the likes of The Star and the hard-left wingers running the city wish to minimize, hide, obfusctate etc about the issue. Then again, they do that about everything.

Monday, September 26, 2005

James - Miller's way or the highway

The Star's Royson James brings to light the idealogical cleansing that is going on at City Hall:

It's Miller's way or the highway

Well - this is one his best efforts - but it isn't news. I wrote about as much last November:

Entry from Nov 29 2004

As James writes, the axe is falling on people who are quite talented - but dared to raise dissenting viewpoints.

The real problem at City Hall is not financial corruption - but rather intellectual corruption. That's soon all that will be left.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Apres vous M. Albert!

It is not that otfen that I get out in front of The Toronto Star's editors:

Star Editorial - Sept 19 2005

I'm quite certain that they didn't read my "editorial" from a couple of days ago. Nevertheless, they've made many of the same points. The paper has inadvertently touched on another reason that the TDRC and other do-gooders are resisting a count. If the homeless census indeed helps track where these vagrants have come from, it will very likely reveal that most have strayed in from other places in Canada.

In other words, Toronto and it's policies are magnets attracting the hobo crowd. Heck, why would a vagrant try to live in a railroad boxcar when he can get handouts from the city?

Saturday, September 17, 2005

The politics of counting

If you thought hurricane Ophelia moved slowly, you should see Toronto city council's efforts at counting the homeless. As this article in The Star:

Homeless count gains ground - Sept 16 2005

details, many other cities have managed this feat without calling in Hercules. So what's the deal here in Hogtown?

For the most, the foot-dragging is a result of a concerted propaganda campaign by Toronto's homeless industry - and certainly a fair number of councillors who share their views. These folks are experts in smoke-screens and red herrings. There arguments are typically along these lines:

"The count wont be perfect"

Well, no count is perfect. The Census isn't perfect. Accouting is rarely perfect. I'm not perfect. However, the goal is not to measure the precise number of people camped out in the City's open spaces. The goal of counting is to determine whether - over time - the $200 million or so pumped into the homeless industry is actually helping.

"Counting invades the street peoples' privacy"

Come now! Does the Census invade people's privacy? What about this waiting list of people who wish to get into subsidized apartments?

hmm. Some these arguments are thin gruel. So what's the hidden agenda?

Well, many of these do-gooders (especially the 'Toronto Disaster Relief Committee') are busy building their political careers on the backs of the homeless problem. The institution of a periodic count of the homeless threatens them in two ways:

1. If the problem doesn't get better over time - despite the vast $$$ spent - the public will begin to question the program's efficacy. Well, many people already are.

2. If the process of counting reveals that the problem is alleviated over time, then these do-gooders will be out of a job.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Jumping Jack Layton flash, it's a gas gas gas...

but his brain is running on fumes...

The Globe and Mail's editorial on gas prices is one of its better efforts:

That's not gouging at the gas pumps

I certainly don't enjoy paying higher prices for anything - gas prices included - but I can tolerate them. What I can't tolerate are politicians such as Jack Layton who won't take the time to understand how a market works. Per Layton:

"What we see is [gas companies] all acting in parallel," he said. "Whether or not it's collusion, one can draw the conclusion that they're all moving in lock step.

Well Mr. Layton, gas prices are going up because there is a sudden shortfall in refinery capacity, If prices didn't rise, we be all be lined up at the gas stations waiting hours for the next delivery to arrive - sort of like Russians used to line up for everything under the Soviet system. Come to think of it, much like Canadians have to wait for medical services.

This is all beyond Layton. The man is purportedly educated - which shows how much little this can actually mean.