Friday, March 27, 2009

Manitoba's NDP: Duplicitous Tobacco Junkies!

Getting any addict to kick their habit is no easy task. And if the addict in question has a monetary incentive NOT to kick the habit AND it also happens to be YOUR GOVERNMENT- well then (ha,ha,ha,) good fucking luck trying to get them to change.

If nothing else, our latest budget here in Manitoba proves that Premier Gary Doer's government is, in this season of floods, all wet. There's no denying it: 'Today's
NDP' are Manitoba's biggest tobacco junkies. And, like fuzzy-minded junkies everywhere, when confronted with the truth of their addiction they will lie, deny, and then ... lie some more. You can bet your bottom butt they will not, under any circumstances, admit they have a problem.

"How can we be the one's with a problem?" they will say, using the logic worthy of a
Colombian drug lord - - "Look," they will say, "the product netted us $170 million last year, our customers are hooked, and our new tax increase will net us $9 million more this year! What can be wrong with that?"

Err, ... ah yes, that's all true. Except for the small fact that, ah, ... ahem, ... you are benefiting from the sale of "the only consumer product that causes disease, disability and death when used exactly as intended." Otherwise, your reasoning is sound!

To be clear, as a smoker I don't like the tax increase. But I do fundamentally agree that it is Mr. Doer's right to raise the taxes on
my cigarettes (yet again). Money is money. If Mr. Doer can squeeze millions more out of we existing addicts - so be it. In a province that collects upwards of $700 MILLION per year by virtue of its gambling, booze, and tobacco policies [see 2008's Budget p.6], it should come as no surprise in today's economy that the Premier would opt to raise the tobacco levy. After all, it's just what any good drug dealer would do in hard times if faced with the prospect of easy money from captive customers who were irrevocably hooked. Again, so be it.

But, Mr. Doer, what about those not yet fully hooked? What about your crop of emerging addicts... err, taxpayers? You know, like the 20-25 kids outside my local high-school at noon yesterday who were all huddled and sharing
cig's in the blowing wind? What about them? Did you factor their ongoing contribution to your new $9 million tax windfall? Do you have any idea of how many of the roughly 1 BILLION cigarettes to be consumed in Manitoba this year will be smoked by minors? Have you budgeted for the cost of their long-term health needs?

To see a government profit from ongoing tobacco sales while it "consistently has one of the highest youth smoking rates in Canada" is, to say the least, unsettling. To then realize it is not doing its utmost to ensure that the cancerous revenues don't continue to accrue into the future is even worse. Seeing a regime's
treasury benefit from high levels of teenage tobacco consumption at the same time it avers the central focus of its Tobacco Reduction Strategy is to prevent youth smoking by 'reducing their access' is troubling. To then see that the regime is not taking all the steps needed to deliver on this anti-smoking strategy, well, that just duplicitous!

Today's twenty-four year old smokers were fifteen when Mr. Doer came to power. Wonder how many of them could have spent the last decade smoke-free if "access" had really been "reduced" back in 1999? Guess we'll never know. But one thing we do know is that (thanks to the policies of Premier Doer, Health Minister
Ozwon't, et. al.) there's bound to be a new crop of teen smokers in Manitoba this year.

So, is Doer's lack of action on this file owing to the fact there is money to be made? No, probably not - but the optics are bad. Is it due to a lack of political will? The kind needed to re-classify the product in order to bar its sale in the Mom &
Pop operations and the gas station chains? Probably yes. We all know how wary Doer is of pissing off the vocal small business community in this province. Too bad, cause in the meantime, the kids I saw yesterday will continue having more access to tobacco than they should. Many will keep smoking, until one day, thanks partly to Doer's inaction, they will be hooked.

Mr. Doer, on your watch Manitoba's rates of teen smoking have continued to be unacceptable. Yes, I know you will say that "denormalization" (stigma) is also part of your strategy; but really, by the time that long-term tactic takes hold (15 more years?) how many new tobacco clients will your treasury have? The time has arrived for you to live up to your commitment to truly limit youth access to cigarettes in this province. To treat the sale of cigarettes in Manitoba exactly the same way alcohol is treated. To move the sale of tobacco products to those approved outlets that exclusively serve the 18+ crowd. It's time Mr. Doer that you took ownership of more than just the tax revenue tobacco sales generate - it's time you took ownership of the whole problem. Move cigarettes to where they belong. Don't just put them out of sight and under the counters of the Mac's & 7-Eleven's. Put them truly out of the reach of the average youth smoker by moving them to the Liquor Commission, etc.,

Mr. Doer, for your government to amass $180 million this coming year from the sale of tobacco, all the while failing to do its level best to stop our teens from starting to smoke, well that's just... [insert childish dirty word here]!

Mr. Doer, as your own Tobacco Reduction fact-sheet says: "The good news is that those who make it to adulthood without using tobacco will probably stay tobacco-free for life!" So sir, with the foregoing in mind, and with respect: Isn't it about time you grew a pair and acted on this file?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Donut Holes! Tim Horton's Rolls-up the Hiring Practice.

Today's story that our nation's most vaunted franchise operation is going to import Asian workers to fill job vacancies on a First Nations reserve in The Pas, Manitoba is rich.

I mean, c'mon? Really?
Tim Horton's can't find six (6) suitable weekend workers in the entire area?

Is it just me, or is Tim's biting off a whole lotta double-double-trouble with this announcement? Have their PR persons lost their timbit minds? Does anyone else see a problem with this story?

[From: - March 24, 2009.]

"Tim Hortons bringing in Philippine workers to staff Manitoba store

Chief of Cree nation where store is located says company should hire locals

A Tim Hortons franchise on Opaskwayak Cree Nation in central Manitoba desperately needs workers and is looking to the Philippines to fill the demand.

But the coffee giant's effort is being criticized by the chief of the First Nations community near The Pas, who says the company should try harder to train local people.

"They should help the regions where they're raking in the money from, you know?" said Chief Glen Ross, who described unemployment rates in the area as "skyrocket high."

"I just can't understand why Tim Hortons would be doing that. They should figure more on training people and spending some money on getting those people lined up on the weekends, instead of spending tons to ship people here from wherever."

David Morelli, a spokesperson with Tim Hortons, said the company hasn't been able to find and keep local reliable help for night and weekend shifts.

While they are not giving up on hiring locals, the company believes the workers from the Philippines can soon alleviate some of the load on current staff, who are handling an extremely busy store, Morelli said.

From early morning on, the coffee shop has endless line-ups of people inside and cars in the drive-thru. The store hopes that about six Philippine workers would start in the summer.

"We work with the federal government to ensure we're abiding by labour laws and working with them to ensure that we've met all the criteria in order to make this application to seek foreign worker help," said Morelli."

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Harpo's Words: the Poetry of Petty Politics

Buckdog's reprint of Radwanski's stellar piece on why Harpo remains a petty politician got me thinking: must everything Harpo does be tainted by enmity?

I mean, is it impossible for this small man to even try to rise to the occasion? To speak great words? Apparently not. One just has to read Radwanski to see why:

" ... true that the Prime Minister probably could have offered a little more empathy to Canadians suffering the effects of the recession, .... It's also true that the rah-rah boosterism rings a little hollow.... what the government is doing ... doesn't exactly fill you with confidence....

[Then, Harpo] .... out of nowhere, ... proceeded to announce that he's "been very frustrated with the opposition since the election," ... and encouraged his audience to tell the dastardly Liberals that it's time to "stop the political games."

This was possibly the sincerest part of Harper's speech; he absolutely loves this stuff. But it also undermined everything else he was trying to accomplish.

Set aside that his attacks weren't all that grounded in reality ... they serve to cast the entire thing in a different light.

Suddenly, it's no longer about rallying Canadians around a common purpose; it's about positioning himself against his opponents, about scoring points that nobody should be tallying right now."

After reading Buckdog, I then ventured over to Impolitical who also nailed it perfectly when he said Harpo's speech was: "Missing in tone ... the hope, the inspirational pitch." Well, I can't add much more to that. But here's some bad poetry anyway to go with the bad politics we witnessed yesterday:

A Harpo Lament

Thin lips, dead eyes
speech is empty,
full of lies

Action late
we do despise
the hate, the partisanship
above which you cannot rise

Times are tough
you now admit
But not as tough
as that of other poor shits
"Don't worry, we're doing better," you do say -
"at least we don't suck as bad as the US of A!"
Oblivious to the pain in your midst
Your words Harpo are again amiss

Your response to those who query
your $3 Billion stance
"It's not my fault the opposition won't dance
Blame them!
Don't you see?
Their responsible for all that ails you, and ME.
Don't ya know, its red-tape all
opposition's fault if we fail and fall."

Cold comfort for we -
when we need a leader most
Harpo's you're no Obama -
you're not even close

So sad
too bad
you are one
incapable of rising to the level
of another country's son

Too bad (again so sad)
you try so hard -
always playing your political card

Harpo, you're so chilled, so empty
you're such a void
empathy missing
partisan pissing
All the while you fail to see
what we really need ... is simply someone to believe!

Pray tell Harpo,
next time, after spouting your rage
and before you leave the stage
Pray tell, tell us you believe in something more
than the power of a sweater
and pussy galore

Cause this time
you know
it's about more than a cat and knitted yarn
it's about honesty and hope...
and having a fucking leader who gives a Good God-darn!

You know that Harpo? Don't you?