Sunday, 30 December 2012

Ikea more important than Idle No More?

The twitter account holder of a local news blog, ChrisD, has shared their anger over the fact that Idle No More might block some Portage and Main traffic. Braydon Maz, the disgraced former Leader of the "Progressive" Conservative Party of Manitoba Youth, also seems upset about the activists "interfer[ing] with other people's plans". Erik Thomas is more upset over the over-coverage of Ikea in our city.



When Idle No More was rapidly growing APTN noted that most media outlets covered the Ikea monkey more than the trans-Canada protests. Interesting that Ikea seems to be getting more coverage in Winnipeg (for opening here, rather than for the presence of a monkey), as the local news blog ChrisD.ca displays. Apparently, more box store development in the sprawling 'burbs is worthy of hagiographic coverage, but an aboriginal rights movement in our city - which has the largest urban aboriginal population in Canada - isn't.

What also springs to mind when viewing this twitter feud is the return of the Jets. ChrisD reported when the Jets came back to Winnipeg and described the start of the celebrations. Was he angry when the Jets fan party caused police to shut down Portage and Main? Was Braydon Maz angry about Jets fans "interfer[ing] with other people's plans"? I like hockey (and hate the lockout) as much as the next Winnipegger, but why should a display of hockey enthusiasm be grounds for flooding Portage and Main while demonstrating for aboriginal rights is not?

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Open letter to Google

Image Source: Adsense Screenshot
Dear Google,

Apparently, my Adsense Account is still under review. So I should be seeing blank ads only. Why, then, are actual ads showing up?


Best regards,


The Analyst

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Saturday, 29 December 2012

Hehe


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Tuesday, 25 December 2012

An unmerry Christmas for Attawapiskat?



Stephen Harper (Top)

Hunger striking Chief Theresa Spence (Bottom)

Image Sources


The Canadian Press/Jeff McIntosh (Top)
Obtained from The National Post


Obtained from CBC (Bottom)
Correction: 10:30 AM, Dec. 25, 2012 version of this post mislabelled the photos. It has since (2:30 PM, Dec. 25, 2012) been corrected. 

Last year the horrible infrastructure and social crises afflicting First Nations communities came to the forefront with the Attawapiskat story. There was a high quality story from the CBC on the crisis:



What decisive, constructive action did the Harper CONs take to address this? They ordered Attawapiskat to give $1,300 a day to a consultant! Where some people see a crisis, others see an opportunity for corporate welfare, eh?

Aboriginal rights issues gained resonance, the Idle No More Movement continues to develop, and Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence demands a meeting with the Prime Minister and other government leaders. Twelve days into the Chief's hunger strike, what does Prime Minister Harper do? He's had quite a bit of time to organize a meeting or talk with the Chief about a meeting, after all.

Well, Stephen Harper arranges a cribbage playing photo op.





The Harper Government has failed miserably when it comes to aboriginal rights. Spending $3 million to avoid equitably funding First Nations child welfare services is apparently a higher priority than actually funding it. This Harper Government needlessly quarrels with First Nations over the Kapyong Barracks, rather than properly consult with them (which doesn't necessarily mean an "urban reserve" end result). Spitting in the face of Attawapiskat First Nation and choosing flashy photo ops over meaningful discussion is yet more salting of the wounds in Federal Government-First Nations relations (which the Harper CONs are doing a lot to deepen). The Harper CONs have long since lost the moral authority to govern.

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Sunday, 23 December 2012

Well, the World's Still Here

Image Source: Obtained from
"Then End is Here" website.

Movie poster for the Columbia
Pictures/Ronald Emmerich
film

Add, in the long line of failed apocalyptic predictions, the "Dec. 21, 2012 is the end because the Mayan colander resets itself then" prediction.

Meanwhile, south of the 49th parallel, news outlets are presenting their own doomsday predictions about the horror that will happen if "America goes over the fiscal cliff'.

And Winnipeg Wingnuts are up in arms about the "end of the world" for Winnipeg because the Federal Government has to consult First Nations about what to do with the old, decrepit Kapyong Barracks.

Frick, some people never learn.

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Saturday, 22 December 2012

Public Debt. OMG!!!!

There seems to be quite a bit of deficit/debt fear-mongering going, on, particularly on various Winnipeg forums and prairie sub-forums. On the skyscraper city Manitoba/Saskatchewan sub-forum I decided this chart might help dispel the wingnut idea that Manitoba is somehow Greece. The chart uses different  debt to GDP measures (as noted on the x-category access), so it's imperfect - but still does the trick.      

Debt to GDP ratio of various provincial and national
governments.

Image Source: Image constructed by The Analyst
with data from:

Trading Economics

CBC

Y-Charts

Sadly, one has to be sceptical that "fiscal conservatives" will keep in mind the context.


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The Assiniboine Avenue No Way

Assiniboine Avenue Bikeway

Image Source: Photo taken by The Analyst
Recall all the controversy over the Assiniboine Avenue Bikeway? The eeeevvviiiillll Bike LobbyTM was supposedly singlehandedly influencing municipal public policy with their mighty powers & influence, due to their .... (okay, there's no institutional analytic reasoning there).

Well, after this hard fought decision, after some business complaints, and after the realization that the bike path (like most other things in modern Winnipeg) was rushed (by municipal public servants due to federal stimulus expiration dates as opposed to any evil lobby) without sufficient consultation, what's been decided? After the Winnipeg bicyclist community has become informed and started using the infrastructure built amongst controversy, what does the future hold?

Friday, 21 December 2012

Federal Dipper Web Ad

Well, the Federal NDP has a feel good "year in review" web ad out. I can only hear the "positive alternative? Pat Martin swears!!" refrain coming following the infantile social/conventional media obsession over Pat Martin's "potty mouth".   



Overall, it succeeds at giving off an upbeat, cheery vibe suited for the holidays. Halifax MP Megan Leslie talks about a role for government being one of her core values, a framing Dean Baker's wisely cautions progressives against using. Quebec MP Laurin Liu speaks of how working in parliament hasn't made her cynical - a sentiment I cannot possibly understand (especially given this).

Overall, it'll strike most persuadable voters as a nice ad and it might make some sense for the Dippers to shill out the bucks to air it.

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Thursday, 20 December 2012

Rise of the extra-parliamentary Opposition






Top: Harper at Buckingham Palace
Bottom: First Nations child poverty
Image Sources: Top - Sean Kilpatrick/CP
(obtained from Chronicle Herald)


Bottom - Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press
(obtained from CBC)


After receiving his mandate of less than 40% of the Canadian electorate, Harper and his CONs decided to institute wide-ranging deforms to Canada's social contract through various monstrously large omnibus bills. Debate was hindered in the House of Commons as the parliament became a rubber stamp for the Harper CON agenda.

The Harper CONs used the heavy hand of the state to intervene and bully unions, both  in the case of Canada Post workers locked out of the office by their managers and in the case of private sector Air Canada workers. They deformed Employment Insurance and Old Age Security. They pushed through dumb on crime laws. They've terminated the democratic vote subsidy.

The Harper CONs have fought against equitable funding for First Nations Child Welfare and have effectively spat in the face of Attawapiskat First Nation. They've even brazenly pushed a monster bill to redefine the Canadian State's relation to the Aboriginal Peoples of Canada.

The Harper CONs' fight against the needs of the majority in favour of the plutocratic elite should truly make their deep-pocketed country club Conservative donors proud. This under two year reign of a Harper Majority has featured wildly successful legislative accomplishments for the hoity-toites. They've been a nightmare for workers, aboriginals, nonviolent drug users (if they aren't rich and can't afford the best lawyers), and the jobless, though.   

It seems that Harper believes that he's acquired political capital and must spend it. 


This weekend: winter solstice party, political discussion & activism

End of the World Party! (Winter Solstice)
Image Source: Humanists Atheists and Agnostics Manitoba
The Humanists Atheists and Agnostics of Manitoba (HA2M) are hosting their annual winter solstice party. This time it's a joint event with Winnipeg Skeptics, styled as an "End of the World Party".

It'll be held at the Assiniboine Golf Club on 2045 Ness Avenue from 7 pm to 12:00 am this Friday. There'll be food and drink and other activities. Attending the event costs $15 per ticket. 

One can email the Winnipeg Skeptics to RSVP. There's also a Facebook page for the event.

Progressive Drinks

Cousins Deli & Lounge, site of this Sunday's
 Progressive Drinks.

Image Source: Cousins Deli & Lounge Facebook page

Winnipeggers interested in municipal issues will have an opportunity for discussion amongst drinks at Cousins Deli & Lounge on 55 Sherbrook Street. It's from 7:30 pm to 10:30 pm this sunday (Dec. 23, 2012). 

Topics like poverty, urban development, and the environment will be discussed.

It also appears to be a free event. Here's it's Facebook page.

As a teetotaller, I'll probably stick to diet pop if I attend.











Image Source: Idle No More Site
The Idle No More movement is a heavily social media organized, grassroots, and decentralized movement somewhat similar to the  Occupy and "Arab Spring" movements. The movement started in response to Harper CON plans to change the Indian Act through the "mega" omnibus Bill C-45.

Various Winnipeg events part of the Idle No More movement have been organized by the North End based Aboriginal Youth Opportunities (AYO!). AYO! is part of surge in North End First Nations activism of which Michael Champagne and the North End Bell Tower meetings are representative of.

On Dec. 10 an Idle No More rally at the Manitoba Legislature drew 300 people. This friday and saturday, there are two Idle No More events.

On Friday (Dec. 21), from noon to 3:00 PM, Idle No More participants will gather at Oodena Circle at the Forks. They've organized speakers, drummers, and a march to the legislature. The AYO! appears to have organized this event.

Based on the Regina precedent, a flash mob at Portage Place on Dec. 22 from 3:00 PM to 3:20 PM is planned. This event seems to have been planned independently of AYO!.

It's really a packed weekend.


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Thursday, 13 December 2012

Too true!


Sam Katz, for context, has put himself at the heart of a variety of conflict of interest allegations by failing to put his financial affairs into a blind trust. While not mandated by law, putting financial affairs in a blind trust is a great way for municipal politicians to avoid potential conflict of interest disputes.

The country club (small c) conservative seems to be utterly ignorant of the corruptive effect money in politics has. While lamenting the Manitoba NDP for endorsing council candidates, he spoke of the Manitoba Government's ban on corporate AND union donations as being a bad policy that specifically hurts right of centre council candidates. Either Katz was ignorant of the fact that unions could also donate to council candidates or he knew that big corporate donors were a lot more powerful than union donors.

Either way, he has a bad mindset, one which views businesses as entitled to interfere in municipal elections via money. This mentality is utterly incompatible with public service and makes it much more likely that Katz will confuse private interests with public duty elsewhere, such as in matters of municipal policy.  

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Friday, 7 December 2012

11/2 years later

Lake Saint Martin First Nation Chief Adrian
Sinclair and Manitoba Liberal Leader
Jon Gerrard.

A rally was held at the Manitoba Legislature
on Nov. 26, 2012.

Image Source: Jon Gerrard's blog
In May of last year I discussed the controlled breech that flooded vast swaths of land in southern Manitoba. In the comments section, I elaborated on the seeming oddity that there was so much talk about compensation for flooded out farmers but little discussion/funding announcements/press conferences about what to do with the flooded out First Nations communities. The Province had no clear plans about where the displaced residents of Lake Saint Martin First Nation would permanently resettle.

In June of this year there was still no resolution to this crisis.

And now, a solid 1 1/2 years later, there is still no resolution to this crisis. Many Lake Saint Martin First Nation residents are crowded in Winnipeg hotels or trailers in a temporary site. The community has no permanent residence. The residents will likely spend Christmas in a city that is alien to them.

True, the Federal Government needs to show leadership. But so does the Province. The Government of Manitoba has to start getting stuff done for the people of Saint Martin First Nation. The Manitoba NDP, what started out as the party of social justice, is presiding over a great social injustice caused by the government's decision to flood some communities to save our city.

As a Winnipegger I am glad that our city was spared. But the Government of Manitoba has a fundamental responsibility to ensure that those whose homes had to be scarified get new ones. And when it comes to Lake Saint Martin and other Interlake First Nations Today's NDP has failed miserably.

I don't always agree with what Jon Gerrard says nor do I think a Liberal government would be much different from the Doerist NDP. Nevertheless I have to commend the Manitoba Liberal leader for actually bringing up the issue in the legislature and rallying with the community for a resolution. There's been much squabbling over how much flood compensation farmers and cottage owners will receive between the Manitoba CONs and the Manitoba NDP in the legislature, yet few have discussed the displacement crisis afflicting Interlake First Nations. Perhaps, given the extreme aloofness to outright hostility to First Nations concerns the Harper CONs display, its understandable that the Pallister CONs aren't bringing it up.

Kudos to Dr. Gerrard.



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Thursday, 6 December 2012

Dole out subsidies for country club Conservative donations?

The Manitoba Club: Manitobans who
can afford memberships at elite clubs
are more likely to be able to afford
donations to political parties.

Do we really want those with more money
to have more voice? Or is the
democratic vote subsidy better?

Image Source:
Google Streetview

Stumbled across a great Micheal Qaqish article about the implications of the Quebec corruption scandal for the rest of Canada. It's from the summer, but still timely. The main point is that big money in politics leads to big corruption in politics. 

While the circumstances in Quebec may be worse than in the rest of the country, there remain several loopholes that allow for a small number of wealthy individuals to finance politicians to victory. The magnitude isn’t necessarily comparable to George Clooney or a casino mogul throwing multi-million dollar fundraisers for a certain party or candidate, yet pumping any additional sums of private money into politics will make the system more susceptible to corruption.

In that regard, the federal Conservatives set back our democracy when they moved to scrap the most fair and democratic form of political contribution, the per vote subsidy over the next three years. Their rationale was that taxpayers shouldn’t be financing political parties, however the individual or private contributions they support are more costly through their subsidization by taxpayers. Any serious reforms should have the per vote subsidy as the sole source of funding [my emphasis added].

("Quebec corruption probe a national wake up call for campaign finance reform". Michael Quqish (June 26, 2012). Ipolitics)
Crowned Manitoba PC leader Brian Pallister.

Opposes the democratic per vote subsidy yet
doesn't oppose expense reimbursements that
benefit his Conservative party.

Image Source: Alyssa McDonald/Winnipeg Metro

The Pallister CONs in this province have fought tooth and nail against the the democratic financing of Manitoba elections. The Winnipeg Free Press has joined the push against the fair financing of elections, with Dan Lett calling it a "minor issue". All the while the Pallister CONs, just like their Harper CON cousins at the Federal level, are happy as can be getting donations subsidized.

Brian Pallister, for the record, has claimed that there's some big difference between getting expenses reimbursed (which apparently is good) and having parties subsidized based on their popular support (which is bad, for some reason).I have no clue what the difference is - maybe having money doled out based on the decisions of a majority of the population is worse than having money doled out based on the spending decisions of an elite few.

So, is subsiding donations better than giving all voters a say in who gets the dough next election? Should country club Conservatives have more say than hard-working poor janitors, bus drivers, and farmers?

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Wednesday, 5 December 2012

2nd Annual Cycle of Giving



Basically, various volunteers (many from community bicycle shops and bicycling advocacy organizations, but others too) will build bikes for kids for 24 hours (Dec. 15, 2012 at 6:00 pm until Dec. 16, 2012 at 6:00 pm). The event focuses on giving less fortunate children bicycles and bicycle resources they may not otherwise be able to afford. 'tis the season, after all.

The WRENCH has participated in other projects based on making biking accessible to children from poorer homes. Back in July, they partnered with MPI, the WRHA, and the U of M Institute of Transportation Engineers Student Chapter to give nine kids rebuilt and properly fitted bikes, helmets, locks, and road safety training.


1st annual Cycle of 
Giving.

Image Source: The WRENCH
The WRENCH donated 20 broken bikes to be fixed up and rebuilt specially for nine children during the summer event. It's likely similar to what the end result of the 2nd annual Cycle of Giving will look like.

The 11 annual Cycle of Giving was very impressive. The goal was to rebuild 150 bikes in 24 hours and the volunteers exceeded it by rebuilding 229 bicycles. 70 people volunteered to rebuild the bikes then.

 For this 2nd annual Cycle of Giving the WRENCH is looking for both donations of bicycles and bike parts as well as money to buy children bikes, locks, lights, and fund bike education. They hope to raise $15,000.

Wish 'em the best of luck. All in all, it's a great illustration of the best that the solid network of community bike shops and bicycling advocates in Winnipeg can do.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Winnipeg Citizens Coalition deader than dead

Recently googled "Winnipeg Citizens Coalition" and found my old blog post as the third result. Clicked on the link to their website - turns out to be shutdown.

Quite unfortunate that that attempt in advocacy for progressive municipal causes has died. Hopefully, more successful organizations will eventually evolve to fill the role.

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Monday, 3 December 2012

TAKE THAT TO (CMA)!

I've stumbled across a Transport Canada article about urban bicycle planning. They article has interesting data on the percentage of workers who commute to work by bike in various Census Metropolitan Areas (CMAs) for 2006.  Here's some of the big metro areas and the percentage of workers who bike to the job.

Percentage of commuter bicyclists per Census Metropolitan Area (CMA)
in 2006.

Image constructed by The Analyst with data from Transport Canada.
What's noteworthy is just how small the percentage of commuter bicyclists is across all the major (and "majorish") metro areas. Ottawa's the real outlier, with 2.2% of workers getting to the job by bicycle. The Victoria CMA, if it were included on this graph, would wipe out all these CMAs, with a staggering 5.6% of workers commuting by bike. 

But what's really interesting, from this blogger's parochial perspective, is that the Winnipeg CMA has a greater percentage of bike commuters (1.6%) than the Toronto CMA (1.0%). This is especially surprising given that our icy prairie winters and lack of proper snow ploughing of bike lanes by the City should discourage commuters. Take that TO (CMA)!!

In all seriousness, though, it's probably just the 905 belt suburbanites (some falling into the TO CMA) commuting to offices by cars in Old Toronto that's depressing the count. The City of Toronto proper has 1.7% of the labour force who biked to work in 2006. Old Toronto and the "anti-Ford Nation" of Downtown Toronto would likely have a staggeringly higher percentage of bicyclists that would approach Victoria's level. For the City of Winnipeg proper, though, an impressive (relative to City of Toronto proper, not to the real hubs of commuter bicycling - Victoria/Vancouver/Ottawa) 1.8% of workers who biked to the job.

While not immense, there's still a decent (by Canadian and prairie standards) number of bicyclists in Winnipeg. There's also quite a well developed (for a city of our size) network of community bicycle shops in Winnipeg that provide a lot of uncharged, volunteer assistance to bike commuters (including repairs).

The upper-midwestern US city of Minneapolis has been rated the most "bike friendly" city in all of the US and has a solid 3.5% of the workforce commuting by bike. Perhaps it's possible to expand the number of commuter bicyclists in Winnipeg with improved, effective, well communicated, and public consultation-based municipal public policy.

In short, the type of stuff City Hall hasn't done for years.

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