Gen X at 40

Canada's Favorite Blog


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cm -

Congratulations! Don't forget to put aside enough for a helmet as well.

Alan -

And hockey cards for the spokes.

GR -

I thought Mr Softee was your big news.
Of course, here in the lower 48, the fact that Canada is facing a major election is lost in the Iraqi shuffle. Sort of like if Delaware was facing a special off-year election for governor. I, however, plan to watch closely, just in case election results impact my supply of duty free booze at the border.

Marian -

Is the helmet to defend against some kind of injury during the cut and thrust of political debating? Oh, I see, it's for the bike. Congratulations, of course. Uh, carry on?

Linda et al. -

Mr. Marmite says, "Wow! I mean, there has to be a lot of bloggers up in Canada. Congratulations, and if you become filthy stinkin' rich off of this, don't forget I said 'Thanks for the Marmite.'"

Yeah, what he said!

Humblebub -

Gawd almighty..Al done went and got all growed up.

Don -

You've conformed.

I've lost all respect for you now.

Can you mention me!

Arthur -

Whoa. Congrats

Damian -

I think we might need to smear Vaseline on Mr. Big-Time Media Blogger's ears to get his rapidly swelling head through doorways from now on. ;)

Seriously, congrats on the recognition.

P.S. Anyone else find it humourous that the one Red Ensign blogger on the panel isn't the right-wing crazy?

SayNay? -

I'm, seriously I'm jealous...esp. since you'll be "sparing" with Kate (smart as a whip - oooh, Kate and whip - oooh, I like that thought). You'll need that helmet, by the way.

(ps. nice you see you let them use your "sexiest man alive" photo).

Alan -

It's my "I'm watching yoooooouuuu" look. Kate and the others appear sharp but I would think it would be better to use a stronger argument than hundreds of thousands should govern tens of millions, though. I am a bit tired of the neo-con "boo-hoo...I gotta leave town" and "you are really going to miss me" routine. But, SN, of course you are not.

Glyn (Zaphod) Evans -

This is shaping up to be pretty slick I think! Congrats Alan and glad to be on the panel with you :)

Arthur -

I'm, seriously I'm jealous...esp. since you'll be "sparing" with Kate (smart as a whip - oooh, Kate and whip - oooh, I like that thought).

Women with a whip? That's soo liberal.

GR -

I notice Alan isn't using the clown photo for this gig. Wouldn't want to give the right anything to use against him, I am sure.

Alan -

Arthur, Arthur, Arthur. You are so Dutch. A woman with a whip is a symbol of the left in the Netherlands but a woman with a whip is a symbol of the right in Canada. That should be obvious.

Arthur -

but a woman with a whip is a symbol of the right in Canada

I'd like to hear Kate's personal opinion about this.

Temujin -

I'll be sure to check it regularily. Congrats, Alan, this is fantastic news.

Mike -

Please work "bi-" and/or "cycle" into each post. Thank you.

Shades of things to come -

Micro scrap is at war with freeware. It touches every facet of modern life today, so I just want it on your radar screen.
I still wonder what exactly was said at that PM meeting way back, when the PM caved. Will Canadians choose to pay and pay and pay some more or move to freeware?

SayNay? -

Read your post Al, on "Mr. Harper and the Tax Credit".

I generally agree that it is mostly just optics -the CPC supporting increased urban transit ridership. No doubt it provides tax relief for those who presently use urban transit for work purposes, but will it actually increase ridership? Somehow I don't think so. The fares are pretty reasonable now (I think Peterborough and Kingston are comparable at about $65/month). So the question is: why do people in Kingston or Peterborough, for instance, not use their transit systems more often? With no empirical data to support this statement, I would think that it is convenience and habit. It doesn't seem that we will ever get rid of the family car, but how do we get people to leave it at home on weekdays, especially? "No car" zones? No parking lots or prohibitively expensvie parking lots, a la New York? Is better transit systems the answer? The systems seem to be working OK, if you just adjust your style a little ie. give yourself a little more time and exercise a little more patience. How do we legislate that? Or do we seek to punish other, wasteful behaviour?

ALan -

Ottawa has a very well used public system because it does not try to mirror roads. It has expressways that cars are barred from. If I was guessing that is the punishment that can be imposed - you are not allowed in these fast lanes and get to watch the bus riders pass you at full speed.

SayNay? -

I think you're right Al - construct the urban centre and routes there, so that it is more convenient and efficient (ie. time wise) to use the transit system - "sorry, but you can't get there by car". I suppose TO (and Vancouver) are already there to a certain degree simply because it seems nuts to many to drive through, in or around, Toronto at 4pm on a Friday afternoon (or at any day or time), but damnit, there are an inordinate amount of dummies who still do.

Alan -

I think express is it. The reason I do not use public transit is that I am just to the west of a hub so I would go two stops and sit there for 20 minutes before getting on the next bus. But things are changing here so my habits might as well. My brother in Ottawa is a dedicated bus rider and I would be, too, if I lived there.

SayNay? -

Your "Best Moves So Far" post (see, I'm reading them despite your refusal to put a direct link at the top of your host page) may capture the mood of the soft Liberal support in your last paragraph.

Any comment on the "broken glass" or "skip the Tim's" (in hommage to Kate's SDA blog) Conservative supporter, who remains energized by Harper's competent campaign to crawl through broken glass, without a Timmy's coffee, if necessary, to vote for the CPC? - as compared to the soft Liberal support, remaining soft by their party's lackluster performance, who would rather get the dog clipped, than vote Liberal on Jan 23?

Alan -

I just wrote another one I quite like. Usually I dash them off too fast but I think this one this morning works.

SayNay? -

You're right: nationalism, and national "symbols" should be more than the collection and transfer of cash, which garners a few flags or banners.

Alan -

But it should also be more than lower taxes and trickle-down rights and wealth as well.

Candace -

Liam, your latest post at CBC misses the 2nd half of the CPC childcare policy, the part that actually creates childcare spaces. They will proved $250 million in tax credits ($10k per space created) for corporations & non-profit daycares that create new spaces. That's a lot of childcare spaces. The $100/month covers off those that do not use formal childcare.

Alan -

Alan here - can you provide a link to a source or an announcement to that end?

Randy -

Am I missing something in your thought process?

You said "So why now subsidize those who do not need the subsidy?" Isn't a 'universal' system exactly that - people with children and big bucks receiving the same benefit as a single mother? Or childless or aging couples paying for those with children?

Why would you want to institute yet another ineffective, cumbersome bureacracy when we see how HRDC, Indian Affairs and Northern Development, the gun registry and so many others work?

Why don't you trust parents as much as disinterested 'social worker' unionized daycare workers?

Alan -

Whoa, big anonymous fella.

I established what I thought the subsidized system was for - poor folk who need to work so can't provide homebased child care. So if you don't need to do something other than homecare, why do you need state subsidization?

It's like universal health care - it is universal(-ish) but only for those in need. If I am healthy I do not get a cheque for the expenditures I do not need. Maybe I should, come to think of it. If the Tory childcare plan is a good plan, then I should also get state funding for my running shoes and my salmon oil pills which are good preventative medicine costs.

Why don't the Tories trust me to take care of my health by funding my preventative efforts towards good health?

SayNay? -

Excellent idea Al - how about a refund of a portion of your taxes each year, that declines, based on your use of a walk-in clinic, hospital, doctor etc. ie. first two visits doesn't effect your refund but it declines a % for each visit thereafter...tongue firmly in cheek.

Alan -

Yes, it's my non-use of public services. It is the stuff that keeps you out of the system you should be paid for if we go by the day care model. Libertarian training. Then in the second term they start to fade out the red in the Canadian flag.

SayNay? -

On your "More Liam and child care" post, Al, did I understand you to be saying the Liberal proposal, in a word, "sucks"?

Your point was that the universality of the proposed program is what makes it unaffordable, and of little sense. You stated: "I just don't think my tax dollar should go to the child care of other people's kids unless they are at a certain level of need". Well, maybe what you are suggesting is we don't need a National Day Care Program at all?

We already have, in most provinces, if not all, a Child Care Subsidy program for low income families who need childcare. And quite frankly, I don't see these families as the ones clamoring for this new bureaucracy. I haven't seen the Liberals parade any of those living in subsidized housing, or bush workers' families from Havelock or Cloyne, or any of Tim Horton's working moms, before the TV cameras saying what a great proposal this National Program is, and how it will make their lives better. As I have stated before, these low income workers either have daycare, or the find daycare within their family or elsewhere - their toddlers are not out wandering the streets, and, anyway, these kids are in JK at age 4.

Quite frankly, this National Program is directly aimed by the Liberals (cynically, some might add) at the people you argue should not recieve its benefits - that largest group of voters: the middle class. The Liberals know it would never recieve any sort of political support if it were otherwise. So if your agree that it is unworkable because of that fact -its universality - then maybe you agree we don't need the program?

The more I look at it, the more I return to the view stated in a earlier post, that the whole "National Day Care Program" is just some cooked up, unafforadable Federal "need" scheme by the Liberals and those who see it as a "industry" to be developed bringing years and years of work and power to another class of bureaucrats inside and outside of government.
[btw,It's nice to see Kate use the "Hotel Can't Afford Ya" theme - "they stab it with their steely knives, but they just can't kill the beast". Smart as a whip, that Kate]

Alan -

You have read and understood. I do not understand why we need state involvement with daycare <i>for the not needy</i> and I really do not understand why social conservatives are giving away billions to compensate people who do not use the scheme we do not need. This is the worst example I have seen of socon social engineering overwhemling sensible fiscal conservativism in Canada.

These are cooked up schemes by both parties to use their vision of the family to divert public funds to their constituencies. For socons to try to distinguish what the Tories propose as anything different is hypocritical. I am not aware whether whip-smart Kate gets that yet but we keep a respectful distance from each others blogs, perhaps each for our separate mental well-being.

Again, I say fund the needy and maybe fund them more. But do not use my money to fund those who can and should pay their own way with the money they have earned.

SayNay? -

Well, I guess Kate might say, if she snapped that whip, that the CPC proposal on daycare, if the voters really think we need one, is the one that makes more sense, or is the least insensible, for the following reasons:

i. it requires no additional bureaucracy to run it - it's simple: cut a cheque;

ii. the monthly cheque can be changed or modified, or horrors of horrors, cancelled;

iii. it generally will involve the return of a small portion of the tax dollars paid by the parents of these children, not co-opting your tax dollars to run a system you will not use.

Now granted, one may argue that the "return" of tax dollars paid by these parents is taking that tax money out of the Government coffers that otherwise might be looted for use on other "pet" projects, such as the gun registry, advertising and the like - but to believe this is to suggest that we pay too little in taxes as it is, and the "system" needs this money or it will collapse. In other words, to believe this, is to be totally brain dead.

SayNay? -

By my crude calculations the working poor ie. a couple who are working in Ontario for minimum wage ie. earning about $16k each full time, pay about $2200 in Federal taxes, combined - they could use the $1200.

Alan -

The poor can always use money but this is not a program for the poor. Must go. Librarians are chasing me away! I spent too much time here this morning apparently and rules are rules.

Alan -

Oh...and be clear. The money is coming out of my pet project called my life. Confusing this with anything to do with bureacracy is classic partisan denial.

SayNay? -

Somehow I always like being called a "partisan" - it conjures up images of burdened donkeys, steered by beret headed radicals, sporting aging AK47s, trekking over lush, misty, rain forests....and ending up blind-folded, tied to a post....<p>[Ed.: <i> the Contras?</i>]

SayNay? -

Don't know about your "Give 'em a tax break" post, Al - sounds like you're venting a little.

Jeez, I'll bet you a month's supply of beer and popcorn that anyone, anyone, you stop on the street can define "family" for you in two seconds (after pausing and looking at you like you're an idiot for asking the question)without starting with "Well, that's a very good question. It today's complex society of diverseinterdependent relationships.....".

Let me help you out: the "social conservatives" and every one else you stop (I dare you - try it) to ask will tell you "family" means "Mom, Dad and the kids" - still the time-tested, best biologically suited "unit" to produce the next generation. No sociologists think-tankers,and professional interest mongers needed here. There, happy?

Alan -

Which is honest of you. No "Mom,Mom and the kids." No "Mom and the kids". No "Dad, Grannie and the kids". The one form of nuclear family only invited into rights from the state and, oh, how they shall flow. Product of the social engineers of the Fraser Institute the Heritage Foundation, Focus on the Family and any number of other interest group lobbyists. Simple for simpletons.

We can see you even though you have your hands over your eyes.

SayNay? -

Simple is a simpleton does:

The 2001 census counted 5,901,420 married families and 1,158,410 common-law families in 2001. The 1,311,190 lone-parent families represented 16% of families in Canada, although. In the 2001 Canadian Census, same-sex couples represented 0.5% of all couples [no link to be provided, find it yourself - not hard].

So, what, 83.5% of families are still "Mom, Dad and possibly the kids"? And I would suggest Mom or Dad's still involved, but not living in the home in most the 16% "single parent" families.

Not much of a "slippery fish", Al.

Alan -

Be honest. Most socons do not include common laws as married.

And if you ever mention anything personal again about any other writer here in an argument - as I have warned you - you moron you will be entirely expunged not just edited as I have just had to do. You bring an shallow indecency to a debate that is familiar to you from the echo chambers you haunt but which I will not tolerated here.

SayNay? -

Apologies Al.

I guess my last point, which should have been generalized not personalized, was simply: how does one argue rationally that support for the type of family unit that has been the model of success for generations (and which, I suggested badly, is the reason all of us are here discussing this issue) is just an attempt at socon "social engineering"? Is this not family "engineering", but simple "fact"?

Isn't this "family" model just what it is: the ideal time-tested vehicle for providing successful generations and should it not be supported as that, no matter what side of the spectrum we're on?

SayNay? -

In anyone's definition "families" include common-law couples with childen - it wouldn't occur to any socon like Mike Harris, for instance, to mess with this - (many socons, I would suggest, are invovled in such relationships). I would not support any other view and you could imagine the hue and cry from all sides if it was suggested now by some Tory wingnut that you needed to be a "married spouse" as opposed to a "common-law spouse" to receive the spousal deduction, the CTB for your kids etc.

"Marriage" is not the issue we're discussing here, it's the support for the "family" unit.

Alan -

True but for some in the socon side - and I do think this is true - there is less respect for common-law and even civic marriage. I will admit as you say that this is a minority of socons. But I have done enough family, criminal and child protection law to know that "the family unit" is also the source of a great deal of harm in the world. This is a sad truth but nonetheless the truth. So blandly picking that term out of the air and making it a cornerstone of accepted faith is not only bland opportunism but blind to reality.

SayNay? -

Al states: "..."the family unit" is also the source of a great deal of harm in the world. This is a sad truth but nonetheless the truth".

You're messing with me, right Al? Cause if you not...[oh, yeah, I've been warned].

Of course this is not "the truth" - and you others repeating this fiction over and over again will not make it so either. One of the easiest proofs against this broad statement is the continued use of this vehicle of "great... harm", the "family unit", by liberal, intelligent, well-educated young people as the best vehicle by which they choose to raise and nuture their children.

"Great deal of harm" what rubbish - it's poverty, substance abuse and mental illness that are the prime causes of breakdown of the family unit, and crime - and its the break down of the family unit that is the greatest scourge on society, not programs aimed at its enhancement.

And let me make this point from experience: the dirty little secret of child protection law is that most (ie. almost in every single case) children are apprehended from a single parent: their Mom. There never was a "family unit" raising these kids: Dad's never been around, and usually in and out of jail or a drug user, drifter-type, and a casual, usually abusive, sexual partner of Mom, and Mom, well she's usually under 23 and has got her own "problems" -usually drug/alcohol abuse also, or mental illness, or she is low functioning - pick one or more in combination.

There are very, very few two parent families from whom children are apprehended. Where do you think the children placed after apprenhension? In a foster "family", for chrissakes. And you can bet your life that everyone of these children would love to have a stable Mom and Dad like their foster parents, in other words, a stable "family unit".

Alan -

Not my experience at all. I often represented couples. I have also foster parented so I know about it from that side. Two parents are not the cure-all you wish they were. The pressures of the family obligation are a great source of pressure when you have no resources or, even if you do, you just have bad bad personal decision making problems. Bad choices leading to consequences of no return is the main source of problems - not addictions or even poverty. Lots of poor families do just fine. And a good family court system keeps a lot of people coming before it from going off the rails or even ending in the criminal system down the road but good family courts in small communities do not always translate well everywhere else. <p>Many are still left to their own devices and turn what ought to be good into bad making a lot of ugly for all involved because they do not see outside of the family, do not conceive of themselves as individuals. The TV ideal of "the family", the Waltons where Paw is wise and Maw is patient, will never be there because those involved for whatever cause can't operate their lives in that way. Forcing them back into the unit as a former Judge in Nova Scotia named Bartlett did (quoting scripture to them as he sent them packing back into the cycle of abuse) was just perpetuating the myth and the harm. <p>Take the hand off your eyes and you may see things for what they are. Why do you think most abuse is in the family and why most of the attacked or murdered were close to their attackers? Just as family which works is wonderful, family that fails is awful.

Marian -

Is Harris a SoCon? I would have put him in the freewheeling atheist con grouping myself...

SayNay? -

I'm glad to hear you "fostered" Al. It is a noble calling, not without difficulties.

What are our respective experiences really doesn't matter. What should matter are the facts. Dysfunctional families are a small proportion of Canadian society and poverty is the root source. Here are a few statisitcs from the 2002 "Progress of Children" report by the Canadian Council on Social Development:
- the vast majority of Canadian children (84%) live in two-parent families (not a "slippery fish" to define);

- the majority of Canadian children live in families which function well, and this has held steady since 1994 – 88% of families with children under 16 function well;

- about 57% of single moms live in persistent poverty.

- children who live in persistent poverty are:

1) less likely to be included in aspects of society that are critical to their healthy growth and development; and

ii) they were twice as likely to live in a “dysfunctional” family;

iii) twice as likely to live with violence; and

iv) more than three times as likely to live with a "depressed" parent.

Please, in future, spare me the "take the hand of your eyes" stuff.

SayNay? -

Might I add:

Using StatsCan data, there are about 3,810,000 children living in "families" in Ontario.

The Ontario Association of Children's Aid Socities reports that there were 18,830 children in care in Ontario as of March 31, 2005 - what's that, one half of one percent of all the children in Ontario (.49%)?

You could half this percentage again, as 50% of this figure of 18,830 includes those children who were already Crown Wards (ie. not removed from "families") and children placed for adoption on consent.

Even if one looks at the "open" protection cases(not necessarialy involving apprehension) as of Mar. 31/05, these numbered 26,754 or one seventh of one percent (.70%) of the number of children in Ontario.

So, 99.51% of Ontario children reside with their parents, 84% of which are in two-parent families, the other 16% in single parent families.

These facts, coupled with the previous post referring to the Canadian Council on Social Development study, begs the question: who is the "myth" maker here?

Alan -

Again, you miss the point, though your stats are admirable and smack of a desire to out yourself.<p>You have decided to define "family" as a family that does not suffer child apprehension and "harm" as child apprehension. That is an extreme standard for no harm. While I will admit that working in law does skew one's experience, it is no different than the skew one gets in terms of the criminal state of society. The harm the family can impose on people rarely leads to either the criminal court or child apprehension. These are the ends of it and, yes, most kids do grow up in two person families but much harm comes in those units, too. Your stat that 88% of families function well is enough to show that you are not concerned with this. What happens from those effect does not concern you.<p>This is something you obviously work hard to not understand to ensure your pre-determined view is not challenged so you can leave it there. Don't bother responding now until Wednesday at 9 am. I promised you a suspension and this is it. Penalty box but nothing you have posted to date is deleted.