Daily Archives: October 10, 2007

The 50% factor – Only half of Ontario’s voters bothered to even vote!

The Green Party seemed to bleed votes from the NDP and the Progressive Conservatives tonight, not the Liberals. Provincial and Federal parties across the county will take note. Voters seem to be hearing the “green mantra”. However, unfortunately this did not translate into any seats. The Green Party actually took 8-9% of the vote in Ontario. In many ridings they placed 3rd and in one 2nd. The Liberals ended up with a majority; however they only had 42-43% (this may change +/-) provincial support, with the Conservatives taking 31-32% (this may change +/-). In many ridings the count was extremely close. Albeit this was a big win for the Liberals. MMP lost, in a disaster! There was just not enough information, which begs to question the wisdom of the proposal in the first place. Or was it a plan to say that “we tried”? It seems to have been sabotaged or on death row from the onset. Just too complicated for a quick decision. Now, if only 50% of Ontario voters decided to kill MMP, than what does this say? Our current system we have works well for a 2 party system, such as the United States, but with multiple parties our system still needs to somehow improve. But I guess since the other 1/2 of the province did not show up then it means they don’t give a damn about it either, or anything else! However, the biggest story tomorrow, which I hope the media will resound tomorrow, is only approximately 50% of the province, or electorate, actually bothered to come out and vote tonight. 50%, that’s all! The other 50% decided to stay home and play with their XBOX 360, new iPod or attempt to figure out why they could not get their latest sitcom on TV. This is a sad day for democracy and even the need for an electorate. What half of the province said today is “I do not care, so do not bother me”. With the defeat of MMP, this can only get worse. How can a government have a mandate with only 50% of the vote? It boggles the mind, but I guess WWI and WWII, and what people fought for long ago is no longer on the minds of individuals in this province. We are truly now a society that only cares about the “me” factor. Although the Liberals have a larger majority, they will have to think long and hard. The voter turn out is going to get worse because somehow we are not engaging the electorate. Every party will need to take a hard look in the mirror. Now that MMP is dead, what will happen in 4 years? Based on the results tonight I believe that the Liberals will govern as they always have to ensure that the win next time round. The assumption is now that since no one cares any government can go ahead and do as they wish. But is that a democracy? Or is our democracy the fact that people can choose not to vote? Maybe people just do not think there vote matters anymore or they just don’t care?

The GTA Patriot
Toronto, Ontario

Stupid to the last drop – Alberta oil thirst leading to disaster

The author of a new book on the future of Canada’s oil industry says Alberta is destroying itself in its rush to extract every drop of fossil fuel from the oilsands.William Marsden, a Montreal journalist and author of “Stupid to the Last Drop: How Alberta is Bringing Environmental Armageddon to Canada (And Doesn’t Seem to Care).

Read an excerpt from ‘Stupid to the Last Drop’

He says Alberta is giving up control of its oil assets to foreign investors and private business, with little effort to ensure its economic or environmental future is protected.

“This is really crazy what’s happening in Alberta today. We have a province that is actually destroying itself in the effort to get every last drop of oil and gas out,” Marsden says.

“We’re shipping it to the United States — 60 per cent of our production — at a time when Canada looks, and the whole world looks, like we’re beginning to run out of oil. And we will need these reserves in the long-term.”

He said experts estimate there are about one trillion barrels of oil in the world today. Those are being used up at a rate of about 30 or 31 billion per year, and rising. At that speed, the reserves will dry up in about 65 years unless additional reserves are discovered, Marsden says.

He predicts the approach of a transition period, where the world will shift towards using new types of fuel as global supplies begin to run out.

To prepare for that, Marsden suggests Canada needs to begin stockpiling fuel in order to guarantee a successful transition through that period. At the moment, however, that isn’t happening.

“We’ve basically given it over to private industry, most of which is foreign, so the vast majority of the profits are going to private industry,” Marsden said.

“So we won’t even have the kind of treasury that we will need as we enter into this new age to smooth over this transition.”

He said Canadians don’t seem to realize how dire the situation really is and many believe there is no reason to question the status quo.

“It’s almost sort of the politics of our age where we continue to think that it’s business as usual,” Marsden said.

“I mean, Canadians are looking at Alberta and thinking to themselves, we have vast reserves there, there’s no problem. In fact, we don’t have vast reserves. We’re running out of conventional oil and gas. Within 10 years Canadians could see a fairly serious deficit in gas which is going to affect millions of homes and industries.”

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So far a Liberal majority has been declared by most of the GTA media tonight

One of the most interesting things about the Liberals is that they have held on to most, if not all, of the seats they had previously. Unfortunately, it seems that the ‘faith-based funding’ issue was truly the “Pandora’s Box” issue in Ontario. Regardless of all of the other issues on the table Ontarians have chosen to stick with what they currently have. Ontarians are simply not ready to deal with the funding issue in education at this time. Ontarians are also quite comfortable; however it will be interesting to see how the Liberals govern for the next 4 years. It also seems that John Tory may have actually lost his own seat in Don Valley West (not all of the votes are in yet). I still believe he is the best leader for the PC Party at this time (no one waiting in the wings to replace him); however I am not sure how he will be able to hold leadership of the party. With the Liberals clearly as the winner, who was the loser? Well, in my estimation it is MMP. This may change, however based on the numbers at the moment it is unlikely. At the present moment it looks like MMP will not pass. People simply did not have enough information about MMP to make an informed decision. Albeit, to no fault of their own. MMP was left off of the radar until the final few days of the election. Green Party support has risen, however in order for them ever to see a seat in the House of Commons a lot of ground work will need to be done. The lesson learned in this election is to stay away from controversial issues, no matter how much it may be the right thing to do. Ontarians will only tackle the issue when they are actually ready to. Congratulations to all of candidates during this election and best of luck in the legislature to all of the winners.

By: Andy MJ
a.k.a “The GTA Patriot”
Toronto, Ontario

Pros and cons of MMP

Mixed member proportional representation is a voting system used to elect representatives to numerous legislatures around the world. MMP is similar to other forms of proportional representation (PR) in that the overall total of party members in the elected body is intended to mirror the overall proportion of votes received.

Q: What is MMP?

A: MMP or mixed-member proportional representation is a political system used in places like New Zealand and Germany, where voters cast a two-part ballot, selecting both a preferred local candidate and a political party.

In Ontario’s version, voters would choose “local” MPPs in the traditional way in 90 newly created, larger ridings instead of the existing 107 constituencies. With their vote for the party of their choice on the second part of the ballot, they would also select an additional 39 MPPs from lists of candidates compiled by the parties.

These “list” MPPs would be elected based on their parties’ popular vote, to top up a party’s tally of “local” MPPs and more accurately reflect results across the province. The Legislature would be expanded to 129 MPPs to accommodate the changes.

Q: What are the advantages of MMP?

A: Smaller parties like the Greens, the Family Coalition and the Freedom Party would have a chance at winning seats in the Legislature even if they cannot win a riding outright. Any party that wins at least 3 per cent of the popular vote would be awarded four “list” seats. It would mean the end of majority governments when a party has won less than half the vote and prevent scenarios like former NDP premier Bob Rae’s landslide victory in 1990 with 37.6 per cent of the vote.

Q: What are the disadvantages of MMP?

A: Critics charge the 39 “list” MPPs would not be directly elected and the parties could use the lists as a sort of Senate to reward party apparatchiks, financial donors or others. As well, it would likely spell the end of decisive, majority governments since no party has won 50 per cent or more of the popular vote since 1937.

Q: What is “first past the post”?

A: “First-past-the-post,” or FPTP, is the current method of electing MPPs and is how Canadians have traditionally chosen federal and provincial representatives. It is a winner-take-all system, where the candidate with the most votes wins a riding. The political party that wins the most electoral districts forms the government.

Q: What are the advantages of FPTP?

A: Simplicity and familiarity. The system is in use in countries around the world, including Britain and the United States, and has served Ontario and Canada for generations.

Q: What are the disadvantages of FPTP?

A: The winner-take-all nature of it means that the majority’s voting intent may not be honoured. In recent history, most Ontario voters did not want Dalton McGuinty, Mike Harris or Bob Rae as premier, yet all three were elected with majority governments. It also means the ballots of dissenting voters in ridings won by the Liberals, Tories or New Democrats are meaningless province-wide. In theory, a party could win all 107 seats by winning every riding with a little over one-third of the vote.

Q: Who selected MMP as the alternative to FPTP?

A: The new system was proposed by the Ontario Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform, a group of 104 people – 103 randomly selected to represent every riding, plus George Thomson, a former judge and senior civil servant, who chaired the panel. The panel prepared a report for the government after holding public hearings.

Q: How do I vote in the referendum?

A: There will be a separate referendum ballot that can be cast when you submit your election ballot. Both ballots will go in the same box.

Q: What does it take for the referendum to pass?

A: The proposal must be approved by a “super majority” of 60 per cent of the votes cast across Ontario and by at least 50 per cent of the voters in 64 of the 107 ridings.

Q: If passed, when would the new system take effect?

A: It would be in place for the next provincial election scheduled for 2011. However, if there is a minority government after Oct. 10, the next election could come as early as 2008.

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For Ontarians, especially 905ers and 289ers, be sure to vote today!

Do not make the excuse of not voting today! We like to say that we do not care, but complain later when we do not get what we want. For more information on candidates, please check out http://www.democraticspace.com

Make sure you know about the referendum, for both the “Yes” and the “No” camps!

Vote MMP



By: Andy MJ
a.k.a “The GTA Patriot”
Toronto, Ontario

Why Windows users don’t switch to Mac

Over on Apple Matters I came across an interesting post by Steven Leigh which considers 8 reasons why Windows users don’t switch to Mac.  Leigh is a recent Mac switcher and he has an interesting insight into the issues surrounding making a switch, but I think that there are several areas where he misses the mark.

The first reason he give is ignorance.

Ignorance is merely a lack of knowledge, and when it comes to Macs, most Windows users, myself included, are extremely uninformed.

There are move Windows PCs out there than Macs.  Period.  That’s the main reason why Windows users are ignorance of the Mac platform.  Sure, you can drop by an Apple store and take any Mac you want for a spin, but that’s not the same as seeing it in action.

Leigh goes on to say:

Macs are so much easier to use; many beginners find it easier to do most tasks intuitively, without having to be taught or open a manual. As someone who has spent long hours teaching family and friends how to do simple tasks like email attachments, I can you tell that the same cannot be said about Windows.

I have to disagree with him on this point.  Having had the opportunity to use a Mac for an extended period I can honestly say that while some aspects of the Mac OS are easier than Windows, overall claiming that the platform is somehow intuitive and there’s no learning curve is disingenuous.  It all depends what you do and how you use the system.

Another reason that Leigh gives for Windows users not switching is price. 

The perception by Windows users is that Macs are more expensive than Windows PCs. This may have been true in the past, but the new Macs are very comparably priced to similarly equipped PCs.

True in part, but show me the $500 Apple system.  I can show you plenty of decent $500 PCs.  For the budget conscious buyer, it’s not what you get that matters, it’s the price that they end up paying.

What about the lies …

Let’s face it: Apple tends to bend the truth once in a while, especially about Microsoft and Windows.

Oh yeah …

One of the “Get a Mac” ads states that Windows is for spreadsheets and pie-charts, while Macs are for “fun stuff” like photos, movies, etc. To Mac users, this seems both funny and true. Windows users, however, are thinking of the aisles and aisles of games that are available for Windows, while there is a half-shelf devoted to games for the Mac. I don’t know about you, but I can only have so much fun playing with photos. Things like this just sound like lies, and they sometimes present Apple as a company that has to lie about its competitors to get business.

This is probably one of the most blatant lies that Apple marketing has come out with in recent years.  A lot of the time I feel that Apple is selling to existing customers who buy into the bias and FUD rather than trying to encourage more Windows users to switch.  Lies create mistrust.

The Windows bashing doesn’t help either …

I remember watching the 20 or 30 minute Vista-bashing session at the WWDC conference and wondering why Steve Jobs is so insecure that he has to berate the opposition. Can you imagine shopping for a car and having the salesman only talk about what’s wrong with the competition’s cars?

Again, Jobs is preaching to the converted and fanning the flames of zealotry.  The best people in industry are capable of turning a critical eye inwards towards their own goods and services and are constantly looking at ways to improve the customer’s experience (notice how I said customer, not consumer, there’s an important difference and a lot of companies have forgotten that).  This constant “best iPod we’ve ever made” and “best phone we’ve ever made” is all hyperbole and given the recent number of backlashes we’ve seen against Apple, I’m guessing that the customer base has grown too big for the reality distortion field.

Leigh has some interesting views on Vista too:

I’m going to let you in on a dirty little secret, but you need to sit down first. Windows Vista is actually a good operating system! There. I said it. The ugly truth is that Vista is the best operating system Microsoft has ever released, and for many users, it is good enough.

It might get to that point, but I don’t think that it’s there yet.

The final and perhaps most controversial reason why more people don’t switch from Windows that Leigh gives are Mac users themselves:

Okay, I’m not talking about you or me here, but there are some Mac users out there who have just a little too much love for Apple. When they are shouting (or typing in all caps) about how much better Macs are, they’re not convincing anyone to switch, they are scaring them away.

I’ve been saying that for years, and every time I say it I get more than my fair share of ALL CAPS responses.  I’ve just come to the conclusion that either Apple’s keyboards are sub-standard and break so are only capable of issuing capital letters, or that some Mac users have simply pressed the caps lock key by accident once and don’t know how to turn it off again.

Even well-intentioned Mac users can sometimes get a little carried away. I’ve had many friends lecture me for hours on end that I was stupid not to switch, and all it did was push me further away.

Most people looking to buy a new computer want a tool, not a religion.

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Does Ballmer’s comments reflect deeper problems at Microsoft?

Steve Ballmer’s latest rant against open source, and Microsoft’s internal reaction to it, reflect deep problems within the company.Part of the problem is that, as they say, Elvis has left the building. Elvis in this case is Bill Gates, Ballmer’s one-time Harvard classmate, the drop-out whose strategic vision and intense focus made Microsoft what it is.

Part of the problem is that Ballmer has never really acknowledged this. It was Steve Ballmer who built Microsoft’s sales effort, Steve Ballmer who created its esprit de corps, and Steve Ballmer, whose chip on the shoulder attitude he’s never been without that we recall, who doesn’t understand how the game has changed.

You can’t fight open source as you would fight IBM, or Novell, or the U.S. Justice Department, the enemies from the 1990s. Those foes put their pants on one leg at a time, just like Microsoft did. Open source is not like that.

Open source is not a person, or a company, but a movement. It’s an idea. It’s like water. You fight water you drown. Each time Steve Ballmer opens his mouth this becomes more obvious to observers on the shore. Yet it never seems to occur to him. And he’s the boss.

The fact Ballmer made these remarks in England only compounds the problem. The EU still has an active antitrust case against Microsoft. The EU has not yet agreed with the U.S. policy on software patents. Bluster in the face of all this was ill-advised, yet Ballmer blustered away.

Bill Gates would have handled things differently. He would have smiled. He would have been diplomatic. He probably would not have commented at all, yet he would have left the impression that the EU is somehow working against competition in fighting Microsoft, and ignoring the interests of its own innovators in rejecting software patents.

Microsoft is going through a tough transition. It is an entrepreneurial company whose entrepreneur has left. Steve Ballmer was as close to Gates as anyone, and has long felt he could fill his shoes, but can he really make Microsoft an ad-driven company when his sense of public relations is so poor?

None of this really matters to open source. Open source, like water, will flow around Microsoft the way a stream flows past a rock in its path. But Microsoft needs a swimmer to succeed in this new environment, and its leader keeps doing cannonballs.

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Ontario’s dirty little election secret – Canadian citizenship is only based on trust

It may be a surprise to you but in Ontario we do not require voters to prove their Canadian citizenship. Yes, I said it! It is no lie! As clearly stated voters “MUST” be Canadian, whether by birth or by becoming a Canadian citizen. However, what many people do not know is our voters list is based on trust alone. Elections Ontario does not have a process requiring individuals to prove their Canadian citizenship. In essence all a voter needs is ID, with a signature. Now do not tell me this is not true, because as a person who grew up in the Toronto area, I have personal accounts of people who voted, who should not have. What is more of a concern is the flawed voter’s list process. There are instances of people who, while moving or residing in different locations are actually able to voter once, twice and in one case 3 times. What should happen is a requirement for ALL voters to provide photo ID. However, even that type of system would not be perfect. This brings back the debate of a Canadian Photo ID card for all Canadian citizens. However, this is another debate, as I am sure the Libertarians and others who hate government intrusion will indicate that their rights are being violated. So tell me then, what is the fix? Where are the checks and balances?

I actually was at an advanced poll to vote. What was interesting is that I had five different locations I could go to. I do not understand why? I went through an extremely rigorous process to vote though. I gave my driver’s license to the elections officer at the front door. I was “thoroughly” inspected and told to verify my address (thought I was at the airport for a minute or maybe he liked my suit). I was then told to go to the yellow line. A person sitting at the desk beside the yellow tape reviewed my license and then me. Just in case I do not look the same, I guess? Or maybe they had nothing to do. I then went to the front desk and went through the same process again. That good! However, there is a slight problem. Since I had 5 locations to vote at I “assumed” that they would have some fancy computer system that checked to make sure that I did not go to another location. All they had me do was read a statement. Wow, a statement! How many people who read it actually understood it? What are the consequences of voting at another location? Now tell me, if I decided to go to another location, how do they determine which location was the proper vote? How do I invalidate my vote? What if I voted for various parties? Which location is the proper vote or are they all removed? Again, how do they know? How do they do that? The head of Elections Ontario said that the system is based on “trust”. Is that good enough? I was told that at another location, they only needed to see a “bill” with the name and an address on it to vote? Great security! I guess they were too busy to rigorously check out their identity. Is that good enough for you for a fair election in such an advanced country such as Canada? We are a “trust based society” so, no need to lock your doors. Leave your wallets and purses open for everyone to see. No one will do another illegal, trust me! THE VOTING SYSTEM IS SERIOUSLY FLAWED!

As a side issue, for years there have been instances of various parties going to various areas to bus in people to vote. I wonder are all of these votes legitimate? We, in Canada, like to go to other countries to help with the democratic process. If we want to hold up ourselves as the best model then we better start to fix our own system. We have AMEX, Visa and MasterCard’s connected to complex computer systems. We have GPS and can track were you are at any given moment. And “If we can get the caramel in a Caramilk bar then I am sure they can figure out a way to perfect the election process”. Don’t tell me the technology does not exist! I am starting to re-think the MMP referendum. I was in support of it, but we need to “fix” the system. I am not sure what the best system is, for the voting process, but the one we have definitely needs a major overhaul. Do you now understand why the U.S is so concerned about our lax security practices, when we hand out cards like they came from Cracker-jack boxes (loved that snack)? But I digress, that is another subject, isn’t it?

The GTA Patriot
Toronto, Ontario

5 reasons why Canada is not a leader in reducing greenhouse gas emissions

According to the latest national inventory on greenhouse gas, Canada’s emissions are now 32.7% above its Kyoto Protocol targets. According to the latest national inventory on greenhouse gas, Canada’s emissions are now 32.7% above its Kyoto Protocol targets.

Here’s 5 reasons why:

1. Over the last 15 years, emissions from light trucks and SUV’s has risen by 109%.

2. Canadians are not conserving energy. Demand for electricity continued to increase between 2003 and 2005.

3. Alberta oil sands production continues to grow at a rapid rate. The province of Alberta (where the oil sands are found) is the largest emitter of greenhouse gas in Canada (230 million tons in 2005), followed by the provinces of Ontario (200 million tons) and Quebec (90 million tons).

4. Leakage from natural gas pipelines grew 54% between 1990 and 2005.

5. The Canadian government has not introduced new legislation to deal with Canada’s rising greenhouse gas emissions, despite promising to do so for the last two years.

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