Saturday, February 28, 2009

A vile Exercise: deconstructing a "Raging Tory"

The relationship of a political blogger with the content of others is a curious thing.

If only interested in partisan conflict you can easily ferret out only blogs that sate your bias and spur your belligerence. If only attracted to the musings of 'fellow travelers' who reinforce the "I'm okay: You're okay" mantra - you can find that too.
Though rare, it is even possible to find blogs that promote civil discourse. Only interested in local, provincial, or national politics? No problem. Cast your net as narrow or wide as you wish. In short, you can fish (and catch) anything you wish in the political blogosphere: mimics, partisans, ideological sycophants and pompous pundits. They are all a dime a dozen.

After awhile we usually settle on a 'Blog List' that suits our tastes and, in effect, becomes our digital haunt. A set of blogs that, while they occasionally surprise, they also constitute a known quantity. The kind of blogs
borne of expectations that are generally met and offer the warmth of familiarity. Over time, a pattern emerges. You fall into a predictable reading routine. A comfort zone is created and your "Blog List" becomes your neighbourhood.

To be sure, you go for digital walks and still read different blogs and consult the lists of others. But generally the exercise does little to alter your pattern. Invariably, you spend most of your time in 'your' neighbourhood. Now, while it is true that you may not always agree with the viewpoints of all the blog authors your list - generally speaking, you respect their views. Are they Left-wing, Right-wing, One-wing, No-wing? Well, that's not the point really - it's all about content and familiarity. But that same familiarity can breed a certain complacency and lack of appreciation for the surroundings. It can lead one to stray. to wander - outside the well established digital landscape they have spent so much time cultivating. And then something happens! Something fucking horrific that shakes you from your complacency.

You see the danger of the digital landscape is that, in the wee hours, it is all too easy to stray on the way home and find yourself meandering down a blog alley where, simply put, you do not belong. Two weeks ago, thanks to semi-routine visit to Freedom Manitoba I stumbled on his Blog List . Saw a reference to this guy, and, quite innocently, thought the title
Freedom continues to suffer as separatist revisionists destroy our history merited a look. That was my first mistake. Then I made my second. I dawdled and stayed in the alley. As if I had come upon a car wreck, I was unable to turn away - I just kept staring at his archived posts. Oh, the horror! Oh, the ignorance!

Now, God knows, I have been known to have a lot of time for other arseholes. And, while I cannot avow that every word this Boy-Man posted was complete absolute drivel - I can avow that the picture his blog paints of its human owner is not a pretty one. In fact, this blogger's textual orifice is so offensive, so doctrinaire, so ill informed, and so rife with bitter flatulence that I could not get its baneful imagery out of my head.

This kid is sick.

A self-professed "young... angry... loud... [death cheating] tough guy. "[O]nce a commie" now an
"extremely fiscally conservative, ... Winnipeg prairie man... adamantly pro-Israel ... anti-Liberal... [who once] beat the crap out of a neo-Nazi in high school" - this Boy-Man is a real piece of work. Only 21, he has somehow already managed to distill all the wisdom that all the ideologies of the world have to offer: "Me, I've gone through every part of the political spectrum. From communism and fascism to libertarianism. From liberalism to conservatism. From socialism to capitalism. - I know every part of the political compass very intimately. I have played with each and every one in my mind and in my research, and even have been just about every single one at some point, even fascist, before I came to my conclusions on the best way to run a country."

On abortion:
- "
Please... if you want to save lives, you outlaw abortion, not make it safe." - "Since it will never be rare, it is better to make it illegal all together. 99.9% of all abortions are as a form of birth control."

On discourse:
When challenged by another Tory for posting "[a]nother petulant, ill-informed rant" that chided "get your terminology right. 'Congress' is made up of the House of Representatives and the Senate." The Boy-Man responds: "Another petulant, ill informed moron posting on my blog. Why do you even call yourself a Tory?" [Ouch!]

On Surveillance and torture:
- "Yes, abuses have happened. But so far, no one has been harmed..." - "Free speech and national security are two different things." [Well that settles that!]

On the US and Canadian stimulus package:
- "People want money. Especially smart, hard working people." [Guess they want it more than the poor?]

On humanism:
- "Humanism is atheism with morality, something that I've yet to see in the world." A humanitarian? : "The only way for Israel to live in peace is to wipe out Hamas."

On rape - "The question is, do you blame a woman who claims she was raped, when it was consensual?" [On principle, I think he deserved a textual punch in the head for this one!]

On Atheism and Religion:
Boy-Man: "Religions is not the major cause of war in the world. Atheism and atheist values are." At which point Freedom Manitoba simply asked: "Atheism and atheist values are." - "What is an atheist value?" - "Please answer :)" .... [drone] .... dead silence... no answer from Boy-Man.

On Liberalism:
"Liberalism has more in common with a mental illness than a political opinion. - And now, it is a mental illness that is destroying the world economy, and on the way to leaving the West in ruins."

On Darwinism and science:
- Boy-Man avers: "I was a devout atheist and Darwinist originally. I came to believe in intelligent design as I learned more about all aspects." AND "As for the differences in the skeletal structures, look at the different kinds of humans. Our skeletal structures actually differ by skin colour!" AND "Interestingly, I did very well in science in school."

On Choice:
Making allowances for a man who wishes to exclude all Muslim's students from eligibility for two Ontario university scholarships, he says, that while he may not "
agree with him ... that doesn't mean he shouldn't have a choice." Yet, at the same time, he fundamentally denies that same 'choice' to any female contemplating having an abortion.

This pseudo-intellectual, this Boy-Man is a human pathogen. The type that just can't stop trying to infect.

How, I wondered, does a youngster like this get caught up in a blog that is so verbose, braggadocios, polarizing, and vile that its facile content does nothing but harm the interests of political advocates on both sides? And then I found it! His comment that explained it all: "I ... get ... [my] details from Mr. Fletcher's office, which is where I get most of my information."

Ahh,.... now I see!

[postscript: Happy to report I'm back in my neighbourhood now. Funny how after straying I now seem to have a whole new appreciation for the place. Now, I normally hold no truck-or-trade with Tory's - But I do respect the passion some of them bring to their cause with a reasoned voice. This Hack is a good example. But I believe Boy-Man and other blind, vile, ignorant partisans like him (yes, even some 'Lefties') do a great disservice not only to their own causes, but more importantly to the overall quality of life on the web. All they do is litter it with garbage. So I am doing my part to clean up my neighbourhood. After a two week trial The Raging Tory is off my blog roll - I'm putting him where he belongs - out with the rest of the trash.]

Seems the Boy-Man was really and truly 'sick after all. Sad really.
See: "Raging Tory" Thursday, March 12, 2009 -
My Last Post - Unfortunately, I have some mental health issues. The chief one is severe ADHD. I have recently begun taking Concerta again, and one of the side effects of Methylphenidate to people with ADHD tends to be laying waste to one's creativity. Due to this, I have been unable to find myself able to blog anymore. I will be leaving this up, as I will leave it to post political analysis every once in a while, such as my analysis of the political compass and my post on the threat of a nuclear Iran, but daily posts have ended. I am also eliminating comments. My email is still available for anyone who has questions or would like an analysis made of certain issues. I'm sure the left wing blogs will be jumping for joy and making false and wild accusations as to why I quit, but the reason stated above is 100% true."

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Iggy Goes West: The 'Promise of Eden'?

140 years ago, the Canadian west was seen by many as holding the 'Promise of Eden'. A fertile land of unending possibilities; many believed it the key to the nascent Canadian state's future economic prosperity. In time, following the creation of the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan in 1905, it even came to be seen, by some, as having the votes needed to abet federal electoral success.

Michael Ignatieff appears to understand this. 'Winning the west' can make all the difference. Electoral success in the west (dependent on one's relative strength in the east) can be the decisive difference between the preservation of a slim minority or the key to a majority. Ignatieff gets this. And really, isn't it about time somebody from the Liberal party did!

So, is Iggy really out to 'win' the west with his wooing?

No. But he does seem to realize it is important to mount a viable challenge to Harpo in his own backyard. Iggy seems to 'get' that the Liberals must ensure the Tory's no longer take western Canada for granted. But with only two Liberal MPs in the three Prairie provinces (none in Alberta) is this really a possibility? In a word (or two): yes & maybe. Fact is, present circumstances may actually bode well for a resurgence of the LPC in the west.

Harpo has broken trust with his base. His R.B. Bennett-esque death-bed conversion to neo-Keynsianism has them wondering what, if anything, the man really stands for. With Harpo now a free-spending, doubletalking scavenger for political advantage, he has hurt his image in western Canada immeasurably. Elements both within the Tory party's old-guard reform sect and the Red Tory progressive wing are disillusioned. In fact, it may be not all that insane to believe that Michael Ignatieff's Liberal's actually now have a 'once in a generation chance' to start to redraw the federal electoral map in western Canada?

Does this mean a massive increase in Liberal seats is coming? No. In 2009, it is all about baby steps. A seat here, a seat there - that is all Iggy must do this time around. Who knows? Maybe thanks to Manic Jack's odd machinations these past months - some hitherto strong urban NDP enclaves (Winnipeg, etc.,) might even be in play next time around. Also there are probably some other Tory ridings - such as one in western Manitoba (Brandon?), one or two in Saskatchewan and, maybe, even one in Edmonton ripe for a Liberal conversion.

To achieve this Iggy must understand three things. The west is not a monolith; each Prairie province has its own identity. Our fundamental belief in Ottawa's ability to vouchsafe our future has been damaged by every PM, regardless of political stripe, since the 1970s. And our provincial electoral patterns in no way reflect a province's national party affiliation. Well, ... err... save perhaps Alberta where the inbred and indoctrinated electorate seem to be politically brainwashed, brain dead and, ... did I already say inbred? Having never cast a meaningful provincial ballot for change in almost 40 years it could be argued Albertans 'know not what they do'! (Course, on this count, it is entirely possible I may be nothing but a simple-minded Fat Arse who knows not of what he speaks?) But I digress...

With Iggy going on the record about his belief that his party's past positions on western issues was both wrongheaded and arrogant - it might be said that he has made a good start in his effort to 'reach out'. His admission in Saskatchewan last week that western Canada's largely negative reaction to the possibility of a Lib-NDP coalition caused him to walk away from the idea was what many wanted to hear. (Fact that he really nixed the idea because of his own internal revulsion of going through a Hillbilly shotgun wedding only to find himself in bed with an unstable mustachioed 'house-mate' is, of course, besides the point.) Bottom line, Iggy said what he had to.

But all this is just a start. For Iggy there is only political advantage to be had if he proves himself serious about his commitment to the west. In the coming months he will have to demonstrate on the floor of the house that western concerns (our concerns?) - are his concerns. And while insular western Tory's are dismissing Iggy's chances in their own backyard - they should not be so quick to chalk all his talk up to empty Liberal bluster. Iggy's repudiation of his party's historically flawed energy policies (NEP) cannot be dismissed. In light of such openness, western Tory's should take some time to reflect on the current lay of their land. Maybe Ignatieff's goal to bring about a Liberal resurgence on the Prairies is not be so far fetched after all. Improbable? Yes. Impossible? No. Fact is, it has been more than fifty years since the confluence of constellations bode so well for Liberal party in Western Canada.

Do I wish him luck? Sure. Am I holding my breath? No. True, the Iggy PR campaign in the west has, so far, hit all the right notes. But, if he really expects to make gains in the west he must continue to play a tune that is true. And on that count I will be listening ... bracing for false notes.

Ironically, at least to my mind, Rex Murphy might have actually been correct for once this past weekend when he said Iggy's western speeches "in their tone and substance, signal he does not intend to simply accept what has been one of the iron laws of Canadian politics for a generation or more: that the Liberal Party hasn't a hope in hell of winning any real support out West." Again, I guess only time will tell. Who knows? Iggy may indeed be the 'patriot' who "understands the destiny of Canada in a way others ... [do] not"?

One thing's for friggin' sure, we won't be seeing Manic Jack on a similar pilgrimage anytime soon ... his NDP PR wagon is broke and ... he's burned all his bridges!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Hope meets the Vast Emptiness: Obama meets Harper

Was I the only one watching Obama's visit yesterday who found themselves also visited by a morose melancholy? Was I the only one who looked at this one standing besides Harpo and thought: where did we go wrong?

Probably not.

In the grand sweepstakes spectacle of national leadership, it's clear we have been shafted.

As Buckdog noted, a Toronto Star poll of 1,500 Canadians revealed that 57% of us saw Obama as possessing "the qualities ... most valued in a leader. Prime Minister Stephen Harper was far behind with 14% ..." I am surprised Harpo even got 14%!

Guess that's called a 'base'?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

On Truth, Trust and Integrity

So when did it become de riguer in our daily lives that we could no longer trust in those who tell us 'truthfully' what they will and won't do? Can't remember for sure, but I think it has a lot to do with the ascension to power of this guy.

Sadly, that 'truth' offered up to us by our leaders, our bosses, and ... all too often, our erstwhile friends, rings false. It wasn't always this way. Once upon a time men stood by their words and meant what they said. Sadly, in this country, this has become rarer than gold.

I mean, if this guy can't stop lying, and this guy can't find the truth and this guy just ducks... what does that leave you with? Your friends? Apparently, even that is a fleeting proposition. In today's world trust is a waning concept. No one seems willing to live up to their promises. No one will commit. And all the 'no one's' do when caught lying is to obfuscate the truth as they try to rationalize why they have broken their word.

Is the telling of truth passe? No, of course not. It just that, some day's, it is at a premium. In an ideal world no one would lie about their motives or pretend their word was not their word!

'No one's' all profess to speak truth. But then so again did Stalin. For them, integrity is just a another word. With no meaning beyond it's sound.

You see, once a 'no one' pledges to do something, and then chooses not to, they always rationalize their failure to honour their word by citing 'changing circumstances', unforeseen imperatives, faux grievance - or just plain expediency. And in their hands, truth and honesty are cheapened. Debased all. In short, the concepts for these people become little more than twisted phrasings - the arsenals of cowards who don't, can't and never will live up to their word.


Now, this brings me to Smart Arse. Regrettably we have parted ways. I posted a good bye on Two Ripping Arseholes - but he has taken it down. Now he is accusing me of plagiarism. Oh well. I will not deny that he did have some input on some of the posts published under We Two Arseholes. Good at finding pictures, good at correcting my horrible punctuation and able to offer the occasional turn of phrase - he was important to the process. But of all the posts I moved to this site I can say honestly that the genesis of the ideas were originally mine; save "Debbie Does Taxidermy" which I rightfully should have left on TWA . That idea was truly his; I just typed it. But the fact remains, I carried the heavy water on the other posts. I originally drafted them, re-drafted them, and after sometimes consulting with Smart Arse, I posted them.

I stand by them.

When we decided last November to collaborate on a blog, Smart Arse wanted me to create a new identity for us. Which I did on my computer - ergo Two Ripping Arseholes. After a while it became apparent that Smart Arse was overly worried about 'branding' and 'identity' and the kind of comments I wished to post on other blogs. He didn't want me posting some observations as 'Fat Arse' because he felt it endangered our "image". Thus, I created 1Eyedpecker to serve as an outlet for posts he felt did not reflect his 'vision' of TWA. Also, it allowed me to comment on other people's blogs without having to listen to him say I was 'tainting' the Arsehole's good name. At any rate, I will let others judge if I am guilty (as Smart Arse asserts) of 'schizophrenia' or not.

In the end, people can judge for themselves the merits of Smart Arse's accusations. But by allowing his churlish, petulant and largely baseless comments to remain on this site I think it is self-evident that I am at peace with my decision. One things for sure, he would never let such vitriolic comments appear on (what is now) his site - TWA. He would remove them and, just like a WRHA security tape, deny their very existence. I am choosing not to do that. I'll let the readers see his remarks and judge for themselves who has broken trust. I know I didn't... all I wanted to do was criticize the Doer government.

Arseholes Divorce

[as originally posted 02/12/09 on my formerly free thinking blog ]

Fat Arse here. Life's a funny thing. It's hard to leave the home you built. But new beginnings are not all bad. Ironically, Curtis at Endless Spin may indeed have pegged our problem/disconnect correctly the whole time! Too much the sycophants for Doer, et. al, he might have been right on one account? Clearly he saw the writing on the wall before I did. Turns out this collaboration is no longer one which either embraces or endorses free speech. The current WRHA scandal is a case in point.

While I was willing to sit by and let SA speak his mind on this indefensible issue, I nevertheless expressed my dissenting opinion in a draft titled: "Who is Responsible". At which point, SA unilaterally violated our compact of free expression and took away my "We Two Arseholes" and "Fat Arse" admin privgileges. Then he published this that purported to speak for us. It did not speak for me. Then he accused me of being: "sloppy in the whole blog branding exercise, and I’m not happy about that either."

Clearly, I am no longer wanted in this house I (we?) built. So, I am taking my marbles and moving to here.

Look forward to seeing you all there.

"Friggin' Flaherty and his Fiscal Apocalypse": Daddy tell us a Horror Story pt.1

[as originally posted 01/30/09 on my formerly free thinking blog ]

January 26th
Place: Winnipeg, Canada

Event: Federal Budget Day

Nearing dusk, wind-a-blowing. Crows swirl above. In the distance, along the frozen river, a group of TB enforcers (Tory-Bankers) are putting the boots to a Black Rod vainly trying to raise a tattered Canadian Flag with New-Afghanistan sprayed on it. He is, well, err... truly being boot-fucked. Unseen, the new media is filming the beat down as a destitute man with a notebook next to them licks yellow snow. Other passers-by are simply uninterested. Preferring instead to gawk at the street full of Harpo-Buggies. Horseshit is everywhere.

Two dirty wide-eyed emaciated innocents, a boy and girl, are shivering. Lightly clad, they are gripping their Daddy's hands tight. Together the three step off the northeastern side of the bridge and onto the icy and littered sidewalks. Across the street Great West Life's headquarters lie empty.

"Daddy, why they beatin' that man?" the blue-eyed boy asks.

"They call it 'knocking sense' son. Part of their three-pronged anti-critique reduction strategy: Knock-Kick-Kill. That's just a second warning. Probably the guy was asking too many questions."

"Daddy, what happens if he doesn't listen?" the boy asks.

"That!" the dad says pointing to the west, to a cross with a man nailed to it far down on the river ice. Above it, a huge placard with blood red letters proclaims:

"This is Power to Truth!"

'Poor guy,' the Dad thinks, 'his public eye now nuthin' but crow food.' Immediately, the father realizes the mistake. 'Too young for KKK' he chides himself, ... 'too young.' "Quickly," he says to his shocked children, "Quickly, now. We have to get there by eight."

As they walk they pass a man who's seen better days. Standing perfectly straight, he's mumbling over and over "Anybody want a Peanut? Anybody want a Peanut?" His hand is extended; it wants to complete the offer. Sadly, he has no peanuts? They've been taken away.

Across the street another indigent with an 'I Luv Bjork' sweater keeps bellowing at a dog that won't stop sniffing his ass: "This is Just Damn Stupid! Just Damn Stupid!" he's shouting, "That's it!" he exclaims, "I'm moving to Iceland!"

Looking on is a
Conceited Jerk who can only grin as he holds his beloved Nadia. Mute for years now - he's but one of many. Once, back in 2009, all these men were able to offer digital peanuts. But since the Tory ban on public expression and private computers the only platforms now left are the cold, hard streets.

"Daddy are they the ones they tell us about in TB indoctrination classes?" they ask.

"Shhh." he hushes. Then whispering as he bends to their ears, he says "Yes, they're the ones. They've been caught. Censored. Remember, try not to draw attention."

Then, as he always does when here, the Dad glances at the tattered structure nearby. The man's eyes furtively dart upwards to its Dome. The Golden Boy is gone - Forever - long ago sold for a song to fund Doer's failed "Spirited Energy II" comeback campaign just before the streets started going dark at 8pm. Then a crazed-eyed manic man passes on a wobbly bicycle screaming: "Dual Flush Toilets! Dual Flush Toilets! Use them and they will turn our water back on! Use them now!"

"Daddy, is that true? If we use them will we have water for more than 2 hours a day?" the daughter asks.

"No child, first cities privatized their treatment plants. Then the Tories sold our national water rights away to NEW-USA in 2012 to 'fix' the structural deficit. Sorry honey, but we'll never get our rights back."

Just then they pass a bespectacled man with NO IKEA tattooed to his forehead. He's with a group of TRUWinnipegers and one Frog. Indignant all, they are shouting at a burning effigy. "Donkey Trams! Donkey Trams! Pol Pot Katz - what kind of Progressive LRT is this?"

"Daddy, can they do that?" they ask pointing to the solid pile of horseshit and ad hominems that form the effigy labeled 'Mayor.'

"Well they can - until the blackshirts come." he replies as they turn the corner where they pass a downtrodden dude singing the city anthem.

Proceeding east, they look to the right. The steps of the Legislature are, as usual, lightly populated with haggard protesters. Also, as usual, the protesters are outnumbered by the TB crowd controllers. Bemused, the security forces are laughing at the forlorn assemblage. The Legislature's doors are chained shut. "Prorogued" they call it. One indignant Hacking Wonk can be heard screaming: "This is not the way it was supposed to be! I was lied to." Just then, a balding wee-Hughie looks down from a window above. Laughing maniacally, he screams back: "You think you've got it bad - I'm actually in charge of this NUTHOUSE now!"

Crossing the main buggy entrance they see a shovel ready ranting man moving horse crap - all the while exclaiming to no one in particular: "My soul for a forum; my soul for a forum!"

Nearby a former idea planter is listening to an underground radio station on an old transistor radio. One can hear the voices. It's a show about Harpo's new law allowing his acolytes to shot unrepentant Lib's & Dippers on sight. The debate includes that crazed self-professed elder statesman and a partisan post-punker who actually claims to know what jailed Iggy is really thinking! Further on, a man full of love and hate is taking a picture of a pot-smoking one-eyed pecker pissing on a newly erected statue of Friggin' Dim Jim Flaherty. (The ninth such 'national' statue erected since his appointment as the State's Minister of Truth.)

At the next corner, a displaced poetess waiting for the moon is waxing about an 'Unravelling' that came too soon.

"Daddy, her words are beautiful, is she new?" the daughter asks.

"Yeah, I guess. You see after all the Territories flooded from the Arctic ice-melt in 13', these people had to find new homes," he says. Then, seeing some blackshirts approaching, he says gently, but firmly, "Hurry up kids, hurry up... we'll be late."

[To be continued....]


The Public Eye said...

I have always found this blog a great read, but with this post, you have crossed the Rubicon in terms of transcendent originality. Ripping fantastic!

RachelW said...

Ha! You guys are crazy! Love it!

cherenkov said...

Maybe what we need is some good post-apocalyptic chaos to separate the strong from the week and get human evolution back on track!

Prairie Topiary said...

Nice. I've always thought of doing a blog post that would stand as a trail guide to the Manitoba blog scene. You've done me one better!

Conceited Jerk said...


And I thought my outlook was bleak...

Can't wait for part II!

Budget 2009: Harper, Confident Realism, and Desperation

[as originally posted 01/27/09 on my formerly free thinking blog ]

"The global credit crunch has dragged the world economy into a crisis .... Our Government is acting to ensure access to credit for businesses and consumers." [Throne Speech 40th Parliament, Jan. 26, 2009]

"My view is you have to give people a sense of confident realism."
[Canadian PM Stephen Harper on the Budget, Jan, 23, 2009]

"Confident realism"? "Confident realism"?
Oh, please! Is this the best we can expect in the Budget today? "Confident realism"!

What kind you gonna offer Harpo? The kind that
"suggests a reality not comfortable to language" which, around its "fringes", suggests a host of "monstrous" unspeakable possibilities? The kind typified by "the cores of old networks" breaking apart that portends a "shift toward greater relativism"? Or, the kind that offers up a "favourable view of the ... benefits of economic globalisation"? Surely, given the current crisis, it will not be the latter... will it?

No, given Harpo's precarious and dire circumstances it is more likely he's embraced, and meant, the kind that renounces "
both na├»ve optimism and cynical pessimism" and replaces them "with the sober but confident realism of the Bible – the Word of God."

Great, just great! We are about to see a budget borne of desperation and authored on a wing and a prayer! And looky here! Right on cue! Here comes drooling Friggin' Flaherty mumbling his mantra ad nauseum: "Credit Crunch, Credit Crunch."

Send in the Clowns!

Budget 2009: In search of Friggin' Flaherty's Poison Pill?

[as originally posted 01/25/09 on my formerly free thinking blog ]

"The money power preys upon the nation in times of peace and conspires against it in times of adversity. It is more despotic than monarchy, more insolent than autocracy, more selfish than bureaucracy."
[President Abraham Lincoln - 1863]

"The study of money, above all other fields in economics, is one in which complexity is used to disguise truth or to evade truth, not to reveal it."
[John Kenneth Galbraith, Money: Whence it came. 1975, p29.]

"This is January; named for Janus. Janus looks forward; but Janus also looks backwards. And if you don't look back, you don't know what might be hitting you on the other side."
[Rep. Stephen Cohen (D) - January 2009]

Does anyone remember our friggin' Finance Minister Flaherty telling us last October how our "High banking standards have kept Canada's financial institutions afloat and out of the kind of trouble that has sunk many of their international peers"? Anyone??

Well, fellow travelers, a lot has changed since then. As such, We Two Arseholes are taking a look back in order to divine what may be about to smack us upside our collective heads in Dim Jim's upcoming Budget. Now, we are not going to dwell on the gum-flapping moron's infamous fall declaration saying there would "be no deficit on his watch, even on a temporary basis". Face it, this week's confirmation by the Tories that they will run a $64-billion deficit over next two years shows they were always lying on this count.

No, what we are talking about is the salient part of that day's story; the positive part, the reassuring part - the truthful part. You see, in October, Dim Jim was lauding Ottawa's strong regulatory system as the prime reason our "banking industry [was] more secure than financial sectors in the United States". And, for once, he was right. Compared to other G-8 countries, our prudent banking rules have been instrumental in insulating us from the fiscal nadir and bankruptcies others are experiencing. And today?

What of today?

Well now it seems Harpo & co. are about to undo that which has spared us from the horror show we are witnessing in the US, to wit:

THE BANK ACT (CANADA) - Section 401.2 (1) Constraining registration: Crown and foreign governments - No bank shall record in its securities register a transfer or issue of any share of the bank to:
(a) Her Majesty in right of Canada or of a province or any agent or agency of Her Majesty and in either of those rights; or
(b) the government of a foreign country or any political subdivision of a foreign country, or any agent or agency of a foreign government.

Now, in true Orwellian fashion, we are being told to buy into the new Bizarro-Harpo-Vision - to see the world anew. Now, what once was good - is bad; and what once was strong and true about Section 401.2 - is now, apparently, weak and false. You see, Dim Jim has now been told by Harpo: "You don't believe in the merits of strict regulations barring foreign ownership of our banks anymore. No Simple Jim, what you now believe is something else altogether different."

"Huh, boss?" Jim dithers as he asks, "say that again?"

"Well, you see Jimbo, we've decided you are no longer a staunch defender of Canada's current 'high banking standards' that bar other countries from buying up our banks. In fact, you are now to say that Section 401.2 is a barrier to recovery. Got it?" Dim Jim nods. "And you are going to reaffirm that we will buy up $75-billion or so of Canadian bank mortgages with Canadian tax dollars."

So why are the Tories going to gut our banking regulations during this crisis? Well, the answer to that is simple: the greed of Canadian bankers knows no bounds and Tory desperation knows no limits. In short, Harpo would rather appease Canada's usury bankers who want to play Russian Roulette with our tax dollars than stand up for the the ideal that our banking industry should be sovereign and free from undue foreign influence.

Canadian Bankers, sense they can use Canada's collective 'sky-is-falling' angst to their advantage. They are preying on the insecurity of the consumer as they seek to proffer a Grand Narrative which argues for access to new capital investment from anywhere and everywhere - even if it comes from the same foreign fiscal interests who got us in this mess to begin with. Place this greed imperative in the same room with Harpo's politically reptilian impulse to survive at all costs; and what we have is every likelihood that the Banker's will get what their amoral-dividend-seeking-hearts desire most - even more Canadian tax dollars on Tuesday, with the added bonus of now being allowed to access untapped capital from sovereign wealth funds.

You see, thanks to Harpo & co.'s December brain-fart, the banks have come to realize that they are the one's truly in the driver's seat on the economy. And, as such, they have decided to force Ottawa to think the unthinkable, to allow the un-allowable, and to endorse the reprehensible: To repeal Section 401.2 to facilitate foreign purchases of Canadian domestic bank stock; thereby doing away with the very safeguard that helped shield Canada's institutions from the virus plaguing other western banks. What they want, amid the confluence of today's stress, strain and panic, is to forge is an unholy union with the very capital markets that wrought the current plague. 'But Arseholes," you say, "how can you possibly know this?"

Well, this week, as the entire world was focused on Obama's Inauguration, a little-big story entitled: "Rule change would allow Ottawa to buy bank stock" appeared in the Report On Business. Quoting Friggin' Flaherty, it highlighted what Harpo & co. really want to do is to change "little-known rules that prevent governments from owning shares of Canadian banks and insurers". A move, incidentally, that would allow Ottawa "to inject capital into banks ... [and] make it easier for Canadian financial institutions to pull off foreign takeovers, and ease the way for sovereign wealth funds to invest in institutions here." Hmmm, We Two Arses wondered? Why would Harpo & co. do this now? Given present global market conditions this doesn't sound like a very desirable state of affairs for the Canadian tax-payer or depositor . Hmmm.....

Well, we read here that recommendations generated by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's "working group made up of officials from the chartered banks, government and Crown lenders" to fix the commercial paper market are likely "to find their way into Tuesday's budget." Hmmm... interesting? Does anybody else wonder if these recommendations might include a move to repeal Section 401.2? Might this be the poison pill Flaherty is going to bury in the textual ass of next Tuesday's budget?

Hmmm? Are we crazy?

Maybe not. When the President of the Canadian Banker's Association (CBA), Nancy Hughes Anthony scolded the Globe & Mail in November for missing the point in its story "Ottawa Bows To Banks To Keep Credit Flowing", she wrote "The real headline is that both the banks and the federal government share a common goal and continue to co-operate to find solutions that are in the best interests of Canadians". Hmmm, but maybe she neglected to tell us everything about the 'solutions" the CBA were advancing. Maybe, what she meant to say is: the CBA would only play ball if it was promised that those "solutions" included new provisions for access to foreign capital investment. Maybe, the fact is that Canadian bankers have been slow to vociferously back the Tory stimulus scheme because they want Harpo's parrot, Friggin' Flaherty, to first grant rule changes that would give Canadian Banks unfettered access to what they see as a cash infusion bonanza from foreign governments.

Maybe, this is the price the CBA has exacted from Harpo & co. in order to be seen as onside with the Tory's massive new 'stimulus' programme. Could it be that Friggin' Flaherty is willing to sell out Canadian taxpayers and depositors at this time because Canadian bankers have made regulatory change the price for their full participation in Harpo's recovery scheme?

Oh, Harpo, say it ain't so! Say it loud and say it in the Budget.

But, alas, We Two Arseholes fear that, in fact, Friggin' Flaherty and Harpo have already made the deal. We fear there is every chance that a formal announcement of Ottawa's intent to change the regulatory laws will be this Budget's poison pill.

So let's recap and posit. Our Bank Act currently prohibits “the government of a foreign country or any political subdivision of a foreign country, or any agent or agency of a foreign government” from owning shares in any Canadian bank. Okay, seems like sound policy to us. After all, who wants foreign governments having any say in how much capital OUR BANKS can, or, cannot lend to OUR business and consumer sectors. And who wants foreign interests influencing, or, having a direct hand in setting what OUR domestic banks set as their prime-lending rates? Certainly not us. Bad enough that Flaherty has already spent $33-billion of our tax dollars to buy up Canadian mortgages and plans to "buy up as much as $75-billion" overall to "free up" lending capital for Canadian Banks? Do we really want offshore sovereign wealth funds having a say in the amassing of more such mortgages just so they can then turn around and sell them to OUR federal government to improve THEIR stockholder value? No.

Ironically, the $33-billion Friggin' Flaherty has already spent is equal to the size of the announced deficit for this budget. But nobody is talking about this. Nobody seems to see a problem here. We mean, what else does our government have to do for our "sound banking system" in the current crisis? Must Ottawa now start buying stock? Jesuz-Christos! You'd figure that committing $75-billion Canadian tax-dollars to purchase the bank's mortgage holdings would be enough of a stimulus for the industry - no? Also, you'd figure that foreign investors in Canadian banks should be barred from benefiting from this questionable use of OUR tax dollars. No?

Now it might well be that what our banks really want is to secure our tax dollars because they will help "make it easier for the country’s banks and insurers to make foreign acquisitions". Even if this is the case, the whole premise seems like folly to us. Speculating on and purchasing stock in 'cheap' US banks when their domestic market is in the toilet hardly seems in to be in the best interests of the average Canadian. The only group served by this action would be our Bankers. While their portfolios would be enhanced - it would hold little upside for the rest of us.

As an editorial in this weekend's The Daily Observer noted the Tories are about to give Canada "a budget that will be a full course meal for the banks and industry, with the average taxpayers getting the table scraps." To save his own skin, Harpo is about "raid the piggy bank, mortgage our future then give it to the very people who have put us in this mess to begin with." Egad, what will it take to save Canadian's from this fate - a second coming?

Hell, if the repeal of Section 401.2 does indeed show up as the poison pill in Tuesday's Budget, we hope that Friggin' Flaherty shows up in the House with a halo and beard to match his new pair of sandals, because he is not only going to have to turn an awful lot of water into wine to get us to swallow it. He's also going to have to walk on the water to get us to believe it!!

[** n.b. Since reading the original ROB story on Tuesday last, I (Fat Arse) have made numerous calls to various organizations trying to ascertain their views on a 'poison pill'. Regrettably, it has been impossible to get a formal response from either the national NDP or LPC party offices in this regard. I did have a nice conversation with a NDP 'caucus office(?)' employee who took notes and promised to get back to me on Friday - but he never did. As for the LPC, on Wednesday morning I was directed to talk with Mr. Lauzon about the matter. Despite leaving numerous messages asking if either he, or his subordinate, could clarify the Liberal position on any poison pill in the Budget surrounding foreign ownership of Canada's Banks - my calls were not returned. However, I would like to thank the very professional and engaging media chap at the Canadian Bankers Association who took the time to answer my questions and helped direct me to the appropriate places on their website to research their public pronouncements since October - thanks Andrew.]

Coming posts?:
Monday: "How the CBA pressured Harpo to force Flaherty to suck on their Grand Narrative.";
"Friggin' Flaherty and The Making of a Fiscal Apocalypse."


Mr. Nobody said...

Troubling topic in so much that its being contemplated and the relative silence of most everyone. Puzzled me how this news isn't well documented. Even friends of mine in the financial industry were unaware when I broached the subject a few weeks ago.

GLobe and Mail ran a story on jan 20. Was disconcerting to see answers about why this should happen. like a setup was in the works.

Needless to say, Canadian bank stocks are down huge, with many financial blogs recommending shorting the stocks in early December.

And that idiot Adler thinks everything is peachy and everyone who is worried should have their heads examined.

Mr. Nobody said...

Good article by the way. More people need to understand why they all of a sudden own their neighbours mortgage.

One more thing, if you can, explain who is going to collect the mortgages for the feds ( banks you think )?

And if they will collect them, whats their take ?

Fat Arse said...

@ Mr. Nobody,

The entire government purchasing of mortgages seems specious to me. I am sure the banks have included in the sale price a "bundling fee", a transfer fee, and to oversee the management of the 'new' paper I am sure that they are also charging an admin fee. Reason I say this is I do not believe Canada Mortgage and Housing has anywhere near the capacity to properly administer all the new paper they are being saddled with. Have sound reason to think we are in for some mortgage horror stories in the next few years.

Other part of this equation that troubles me is that nobody seems to be under any obligation to inform the homeowner when the STATE (i.e. his own government) becomes the de-facto holder of his mortgage. If it was me I would want to know - I would also want to know why "my paper" was bundled as opposed to that of my neighbour. What is the formula the Bank are using to determine which mortgages they sell to Ottawa - are they only saddling the government with the riskiest of the lot?

900 ft Jesus said...

wow! Chilling. Good research, really good.

I really hope th reason you couldn't get a response from the Libs or NDP is a question of strategy on their part - timing, waiting to use a counter response as ammo to oppose the budget, and that they won't allow this.

I think you're right on this one. It's certainly more serious and long reaching than anything I thought of.

Fat Arse said...


I hope your right re: Lib reason for not responding. In my messagers I made it absolutely crystal clear what my specific concern was - but I fear the Lib's especially have not considered this "poison pill' possibility.

Really hope they can craft a succinct and needed defense of our economic sovereignty should Harpo & co. put this 'pill' in the Budget. To have this pass would cripple our autonomy completely.

Anonymous said...

I'm confused. McCallum is the finance critic and he has been advocating for removal of the ownership restrictions for years. Does anyone know what Iggy's position is?

Paul Fraser said...

RBC Bank President Gordon Nixon - Salary $11.73 Million


I'm a commercial fisherman fighting the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC Bank) over a $100,000 loan mistake. I lost my home, fishing vessel and equipment. Help me fight this corporate bully by closing your RBC Bank account.

There was no monthly interest payment date or amount of interest payable per month on my loan agreement. Date of first installment payment (Principal + interest) is approximately 1 year from the signing of my contract.
Demand loan agreements signed by other fishermen around the same time disclosed monthly interest payment dates and interest amounts payable per month.The lending policy for fishermen did change at RBC from one payment (principal + interest) per year for fishing loans to principal paid yearly with interest paid monthly. This lending practice was in place when I approached RBC.
Only problem is the loans officer was a replacement who wasn't familiar with these type of loans. She never informed me verbally or in writing about this new criteria.

Phone or e-mail:
RBC President, Gordon Nixon, Toronto (416)974-6415
RBC Vice President, Sales, Anne Lockie, Toronto (416)974-6821
RBC President, Atlantic Provinces, Greg Grice (902)421-8112 mail
RBC Manager, Cape Breton/Eastern Nova Scotia, Jerry Rankin (902)567-8600
RBC Vice President, Atlantic Provinces, Brian Conway (902)491-4302 mail
RBC Vice President, Halifax Region, Tammy Holland (902)421-8112 mail
RBC Senior Manager, Media & Public Relations, Beja Rodeck (416)974-5506 mail
RBC Ombudsman, Wendy Knight, Toronto, Ontario 1-800-769-2542 mail
Ombudsman for Banking Services & Investments, JoAnne Olafson, Toronto, 1-888-451-4519 mail

"Fighting the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC Bank) one customer at a time"

Mr. Nobody said...

I too am hopeful the opposition is waiting to pounce.

Somehow I don't think so, this news has been out for enough time for somebody to scream bloody murder.

Perhaps FA, your post will generate some phone calls and emailing. Its the best we can do.

Sorry to hear about your predicament on the loan there buddy. Perhaps best to contact the leprechaun directly. Hopefully he remembers what it means to be common.

Fat Arse said...

@ Anon,

I did try to get an official response on this from the LPC (many times). As for Tipsy John's take on the issue - yes I am aware of his stance. However, he is not only wrong on this point - he is not the leader of the party. While I respect McCallum's insight on many economic issues - Iggy is the one to set the policy. Let us pray he sets the right course!

Mr. Nobody said...

The issue of foreign investment shouldn't be confused with the mortgage issue. Like allowing bank mergers, foreign investment commentary has gone on for some time.

Mr. Nobody said...

This is going from worse to worse. We definitely can learn from the US experience.

unless they are hiding something from us, like our Banks aren't as secure as we think.

The draft Theresa Oswald team said...

Hmm, will there be a poison pill? I wouldnt be so sure...

And is the coalition option dead? We're not sure how we feel about this.

It would be great to have seats at the cabinet table in a federal government, but on the other hand it might complicate things for us here in Manitoba...

Doer and his ministers (**cough **cough OSWALD) have strong working relationships with the Feds. Its a reality thats sad but true to win votes. Is it worth the risk of alienating the Manitoba voters we need to keep us in power?

cherenkov said...


There are a lot of if's and suppositions in there. Let me bring things back down to earth for a sec:
>The government not necessarily looking at opening up the banking system to foreign government ownership.
>The rules do not prohibit ownership by private foreign banks.
>A foreign take-over of a vital Canadian business is subject to review and could be prevented, as was recently the case with that aerospace company.
>Canadian banks are now prohibited from buying interest with in many foreign banks in a deal that involves stock, meaning that their hands are being tied which prevents them from growing and taking advantage of opportunities that could be beneficial to shareholders.
>Even if the foreign ownership rules are relaxed they could be done so in a way to prevent foreign control of Canadian banks.

In other words, nothing here foretells the end of the world.

Fat Arse said...


Your points are taken. I may not agree - but they are taken. I know my post has some hyperbole (but then again isn't there always). Yet, as it was explained to me, if Canadian Banks want the right to buy into US Banks (via stock swaps) then they too must be open to the foreign government ownership ownership. Apparently this is a no-ands-ifs-or-buts criteria. Otherwise, the US government will not permit the deal with any bank now getting bail-out funds from the US Fed.

As for rule changes that would mitigate against undue foreign control over an institution - yes, possible. But, once our institutions get a taste of the cash infusion from sovereign funds from abroad... all bets are off. They will do all their thinking with their little short-term heads rather than with the long-term heads.

Further, I want no provision for any government anywhere to own our bank stocks - not even the Cdn gvt. Too many variables that can go awry.

The argument the CBA is making in favour of the section 401.2 rule change is predicated on their playing up the current credit-crunch (both myth and truth)- but that is another story....

Anonymous said...

Nothing new here. The Canadian Banking Industry is only interested in consolidating profit. Not in consolidating the country's economy.

Mr. Nobody said...

And the waters have been muddied and it shall all be lost in the translation.

70 Billion taxpayers money transferred to banks. Yippeeeyihosed

cherenkov said...

Yes, it's never a good idea to do all your thinking with your little head. I did have a good time reading your post, FA, although the length of it almost scared me off.

Fat Arse said...


re: my lack of brevity - tis an affliction!
Hopefully you'll find new post less taxing?

Smart Arse said...

@ Draft Oswald,

Looks to us like you are actually *very sure how you feel* about the coalition and cozying up to Harpo & co.

Where we come from, ambivalence and “regret” over sacrificing principles for political expediency aren’t quite the same thing really.

Still, we are glad to know that you are familiar (cough, cough) with the principles that you are trampling.

Manitoba Kids: Smoke 'em if You Got 'em! pt.1

[as originally posted 01/23/09 on my formerly free thinking blog ]

One of us has been all over the blogosphere suggesting that Premier Gary Doer's Manitoba Government has been indifferent to taking real action on the anti-smoking file.

"Not true!" said the other, citing the latest news release. "Look here, it says Manitoba is 'a national leader'. The kids are in good hands. Look, Peter Bjornson used to be a teacher; so was the Minister of Health, uhh, Terry what's-her-name?"

"Ozwon't?" came the reply.

"Yeah, her." he said, "So don't fret Fat Arse, the kids are in good hands." Then he pointed to Manitoba's recent move to, finally, ban smoking in all vehicles with passengers under the age of 16. "See," he said, "progress."

But the other wasn't buying it. "More like, pitiful progress," he muttered. And he smokes!*

Then came the usual cascade of expletives as he started throwing (of all things) evidence and statistics about! Including, facts on how bad smoking is for you and how it is the principal risk factor for a whole pile of cancers. On a roll, the habitual dung-tossing smoker also threw these out:
  • There is evidence that school-based prevention programs do not prevent youth from taking up smoking;

  • There is little evidence that youth participation in tobacco control strategies (e.g. SWAT) reduces youth smoking;

  • There is evidence that legislative action to reduce access to tobacco products actually stops children from taking up smoking.
In fact, credible evidence suggests that reducing access to the availability of cigarettes/tobacco is arguably the most effective way to reduce youth smoking rates.

So why not do it?

Given that it is estimated that one of every three children who start smoking will "die from tobacco-related illness," loving parents everywhere cannot be faulted for wondering why government is not doing more. But, hey, here in Manitoba there's no point letting facts get in the way of "Doering".

ow exactly is Manitoba showing 'leadership' on this file? Sad truth: it is not. Manitoba's children continue to have easy access to tobacco products throughout the province.

But, as usual, Doer is sticking to the politically safe path (Doering if necessary - but not necessarily Doering). To-date, he's only moved on anti-smoking legislation after he's been shamed into doing so by political opponents and activists. Only then does Doer act.

But even when he does, his Doering does not go far enough. Doer, simply put, is simply doing too little. For example, other provinces have already banned the sale of cancer sticks in health facilities and drugstores. Manitoba? Not yet.

Hmmm, are the p
olling numbers not strong enough? Still, this is no excuse! Respected anti-smoking organizations such as MANTRA have already recommended such steps - so why the delay?

Are Doer's priorities misplaced? Is he preoccupied? Or, is it, that maybe, just maybe, he sees no electoral upside in tackling the issue? Who knows? Bottom line - Gary Doer is not doing enough! And, in this case, his-less-than-best is unacceptable!

Mr. Premier: Leadership isn't waiting to see which way the winds are blowing and/or what the polls are saying. Sure it makes for easy politics. But let's not confuse it with leadership. It's time for you to act.

*Disclaimer: Fat Arse is a copious inhaler of tobacco; Smart Arse is not. Yet, despite our differences, we both agree the only logical legal vendors for tobacco in this province should be: Liquor Stores, Beer Vendors, Lounges, and Porn Shops! Only where minors are prohibited - nowhere else.


Mr. Nobody said...

I'll be brief.

See Ontario's ban of fruit flavored tobacco.

Manitoba, not even on the radar.

RachelW said...

Nice solution you guys proposed, at the end of this very entertaining rant, er, I mean essay.

We've just got a ban on smoking in cars-with-kids here in the Yukon too, though not with out a whole lot of "it's my right to do what I like in my personal space" sabre-rattling. Two drugstores have now "voluntarily" stopped selling tobacco products (a ban? Goodness me no, that would infringe the rights of business people to get rich while we get sick). Too bad so many other Whitehorse shops still sell cigarettes, including one of the two local bookstores.

Mr. Nobody said...

There is evidence that legislative action to reduce access to tobacco products actually stops children from taking up smoking

No it doesn't. Kids are getting hooked and they have access to all the product they want.

Mr. Nobody said...

"Respected anti-smoking organizations such as MANTRA have already recommended such steps "

MANTRA is a few years behind the times. Sent them an email, About the 4th one in 2 years. Lets see if they get off their collective arses and do something for a change.

"Sorry to inform you but both my sons are now addicts. So are about 20 of their friends.

Whats even sadder is that unlike Ontario, which banned fruit flavored tobacco in less then a month, we Manitobans , as usual are a decade behind and have our heads comfortably shoved in the sand.

I've emailed everyone about my concerns, and yet not one word of feedback.

All these kids got hooked smoking easy to inhale Prime Times. I can understand politicians being weak kneed about attacking this issue. But I don't believe organizations like yours are doing enough.

This issue is as easy as it can get. You have precedence all over the country. Prime Minister Harper has mentioned it. Judy Wasylycia Leis ( sp. ) has tabled a private members bill at the federal level which is stuck in limbo.

But here, nothing. What are you waiting for ?


Smart Arse said...

@Mr. Nobody(1): You misunderstand the point.

Yes, "kids are getting hooked and they have access to all the product they want," which is why *restricting access* (along with economic measures) is the way to go (i.e. versus other interventions).

That's what the international evidence says