Thursday, November 5, 2009

Up-date on Fair Play Blog

Well, it's been 6 months or more and 150 posts later since I started Fair Play Blog. My initial thought was to write one or two stories a week or maybe none at all, on some weeks. I am happy to say that is not how it has turned out, and the stories and information pieces have been posted for the most part daily. It has been fun.

I am rethinking Fair Play and what to do with Fair Play. To me this is important since I have a very loyal and sizeable group of readers. Blogs today are more important than ever since the main stream media continue to fail.

Anyway, I am going to take the next couple of weeks at least to figure out what to do with Fair Play. In the meantime I may post a story or two, so stay in touch. 

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Thank you Ian Connerty

Based on the feedback I have received I know my readers have enjoyed guest columnist Ian Connerty. Ian is a big talent and I am proud to say a very dear friend of many years.

If the local Windsor Star could find 2 or 3 writers like Ian, the newspaper might be interesting again, but don't hold your breath.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Kyoto’s son, Copenhagen, will also be a failure

By Ian Connerty, guest columnist

Back in December 1997 a United Nations protocol was signed in Kyoto, Japan to reduce world wide emissions of greenhouse gases as a way of fighting global warming.

The Kyoto Protocol, as it came to be called, took effect in February 2005 and by October 2009, 184 countries had ratified the treaty.

But since Kyoto was signed, greenhouse gas emissions have actually gone up, not down.

That’s because the United States, the county that produced the most greenhouse gases at the time, accounting for 36% of all emissions in the world, refused to sign Kyoto.

US President George W. Bush felt that so-called developing countries like China and even Russia were given an unfair advantage because they had zero reduction targets under the protocol.

He was right. By August 2008, China passed the US as the world’s biggest emitter of CO2. And since 2000, greenhouse gas emissions from China have increased by 120% as their economy has come to life. China now accounts for 20% of all worldwide emissions.

Kyoto is a failure.

In order to “save” Kyoto, the United Nations will be pushing for a new and tougher emission reduction protocol this December in Copenhagen. It would come into force after Kyoto expires 2012.

As far as the United Nations is concerned, Kyoto was only the beginning, asking for modest reductions in emissions. For European Union countries the reduction target was 8%, for Canada it was 6% and for Russia and China it was zero.

The Copenhagen targets will be much higher. The UN wants to cut global emissions by 60 to 80 per cent by 2020.

And fighting climate change will very, very costly.

While Kyoto is estimated to have cost Europe $23 Billion to comply, by way of funding clean technology projects in developing counties, Copenhagen sets the price tag at $250 Billion PER YEAR by 2020.

On the positive side, the UN also says there will be new markets for low carbon energy products of around $500 Billion by 2050.

However the biggest polluters, the US and China must sign on for Copenhagen to happen. China says it will only consider signing if the US does.

And that doesn’t seem likely, even under a new President who is more committed to fighting climate change than his predecessor.

The US Senate is stalling legislation which would make it easier for Mr. Obama to sign Copenhagen.

As a result, both President Obama and the UN are down playing expectations for this December. In fact, Mr. Obama is now saying he may not even attend.

Without a commitment from the United States to a new international climate change Protocol, China will also say no. And so will Russia, and so on and so on.

Kyoto is dead, and its beginning to look like Kyoto’s son is on life support.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Ignatieff turns to key Chretien advisor for answers

By Ian Connerty, guest columnist

Michael Ignatieff took over from Stephane Dion as leader of the Liberal Party of Canada just 10 months ago after a revolt by Liberal Members of Parliament that ousted Mr. Dion

Mr. Dion lost his job because he led the Liberals to their worst election result since 1867 in the 2008 election when the Liberals got just 26.2 per cent of the popular vote.

Most of the Liberal Members of Parliament, fresh from that election, rallied around Mr. Ignatieff and installed him as leader of the party last December.

However, last week, after 10 months under Mr. Ignatieff, a nationwide opinion poll showed that the Liberals had dropped even further to just 25 per cent public support.

Last month was a particularly bad one for Mr. Ignatieff - highlighted by having his hand picked Quebec lieutenant resign in a very public manner saying that the Party was being run by too many advisors from Toronto.

Under renewed pressure from the same Liberal Members of Parliament who ousted Mr. Dion and installed him as leader, Mr. Ignatieff took drastic action.

He fired his chief of staff, Ian Davey, from Toronto and replaced him with Peter Donolo, from Toronto.

But unlike Mr. Davey, Mr. Donolo has worked on Parliament Hill before, as Director of Communications for former Prime Minister Jean Chretien from 1991 to 1999, helping him win three majority governments.

Prior to that he was a communications advisor to Toronto Mayor Art Eggleton and in 2003, he co-chaired the successful Toronto mayoral campaign of David Miller.

Firing Mr. Davey must have been difficult for Mr. Ignatieff because Mr. Davey is the reason that Mr. Ignatieff is in politics in Canada.

Four years ago, Mr. Davey went down to Harvard University in Boston to convince Mr. Ignatieff to quit his job as a professor there and return to Canada. They have been close political friends since then.

The firing is being touted as an example of Mr. Ignatieff’s ability to make the tough decisions demanded of leaders in both politics and business.

Mr. Donolo is being called a political magician because of his success in helping to get two Mayors of Toronto elected and for doing the same with Mr. Chretien nationally.

He better bring his best bag of tricks back to Ottawa with him if he hopes to have the same success with Mr. Ignatieff.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Failed H1N1 flu strategy is killing children

By Ian Connerty, guest columnist

Worldwide scientific studies show that the average age of patients admitted to hospital because of H1N1, the so-called swine flu, is 18 and the largest number of deaths is among teenagers and young adults.

But the Canadian and Ontario governments have decided, in spite of the mounting evidence that they are not at high risk of getting this flu, so they can’t even get vaccines yet.

Instead, a policy directive posted on the Ontario government website on September 24, 2009 says the following are on priority lists to get the scarce shots of the H1N1 flu vaccine:

  • people with chronic medical conditions, under age 65,
  • pregnant women,
  • healthy children from six months to five years old,
  • persons residing in remote and isolated settings or communities,
  • health care workers involved in pandemic response or the delivery of essential health care services, and
  • household contacts and care providers of persons at high risk who cannot be immunized or may not respond to vaccines.

Meanwhile, an 11 year old girl from Cornwall died two days ago in an Ottawa hospital and a 13 boy from Vaughan, a suburb north of Toronto, died yesterday at home in his father’s arms. Both died from H1N1.

They were not on the government’s priority list and therefore couldn’t even get the H1N1 vaccine.

And no one on the government’s priority list has died. What is going on here?

If children are dying, and no one in the priority groups is dying of H1N1, how can government officials stand by their decision to withhold a life-saving vaccine from Canadian children?

If parents did this, they would be arrested for child abuse and if the child dies, they might be charged with homicide.

How can health officials sleep at night knowing that their ill-conceived policies are targeting the wrong groups to get the vaccine and that their tardiness in delivering the H1N1 vaccine is resulting in dead children?

Wake up government.

Change your policies NOW in the face of the stark and uncomfortable facts. You were wrong. This disease is killing children, not seniors and care workers.

Another scientific study released just yesterday shows that older people have more immunity to this disease than young people. Back in September the Ontario government knew this saying: “data shows that infection from the pandemic H1N1 virus does not typically occur in persons over age 60, probably as a result of residual immunity from exposure to H1N1 prior to 1957.”

Most times governments are just wrong-headed and dumb. This time they are endangering your children’s health.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The slow and painful death of newspapers

By Ian Connerty, guest columnist

In the six months ending Sept 30 2009 circulation of daily newspapers in the U.S. fell another 10% compared to one year ago. This comes on top of a 5% drop last year.

The biggest losers were the Dallas Morning News, the San Francisco Chronicle and the Newark Star Ledger which all had declines in paid circulation of more than 20% in just six months.

The Los Angeles Times dropped 11% and the Chicago Tribune was down 9 percent. Even the New York Times lost 7% of its readers. The only US daily with a slight increase was the Wall Street Journal which was up by 0.6%.

Canadian media is also feeling the pinch. Recently we witnessed the sad demise of the now bankrupt $4 Billion CanWest newspaper and TV chain and the closure of local affiliate TV stations.

This loss of readers and viewers is a problem for the mass media because advertisers look at paid circulation and viewer numbers to decide if, and how much they will spend with these media outlets over the next six months.

As a result of these reduced numbers, advertising revenues will now be down for most U.S. newspapers over the next six months and they will have to lay off more staff, further reducing the quality of their product.

And then they will lose more readers, and then they will lose more advertisers, in an endless cycle.

There is no end in sight to the bleeding.

Sell your media stocks now, if you still own any. Take your loses now, because the future will be more of the same.

This problem for the media is not just as sign of the global recession that is hitting newspapers and network TV hard, it’s because of the new competition – free news and commentary on the internet that has become a daily experience for former subscribers.

As for future customers - young people. They don’t even read newspapers – never have. They grew up on TV “Info-tainment news” and have now graduated to internet chat rooms.

The future is here on the Internet on blogs like this, and you are the proof that they work.

Informed commentary has been dropped by many mass media outlets in order to save money in their downward spiral and that is what the Internet is all about, as well as some real news, if you know where to find it.

Monday, October 26, 2009

OPSEU gets ready to fight “Dalton Days”

By Ian Connerty, guest columnist

The 115,000 member Ontario Public Service Employees Union is getting ready to fight the McGuinty government if it tries to make up some of its $25 billion deficit by laying off OPSEU members or forcing them to take unpaid days off.

“We are already planning a bold strategy to fight the coming attack,” said Warren ‘Smokey’ Thomas in a letter to all OSPEU members. “The Liberals’ plan is to make us pay. Premier Dalton McGuinty would not rule out unpaid days off for the million Ontarians who earn their bread in the provincial public sector. And the spectre of privatization now looms over every public service worker,” he continued.

This came in response to Premier McGuinty saying last week that he has not ruled out forcing Ontario Public Servants to take days off without pay and other suggestions that the government might look to privatize some of the work it does now.

Given that 80% of the $113 Billion provincial budget is spent on salaries, the Premier may have to embark on the biggest political fight of his life - against his own employees.

OPSEU responded; “As for more layoffs, they can only weaken local economies, destroy the services people need, and generate headlines the Liberals really don’t want to see.”

OPSEU has concluded that the Premier’s plan is to threaten layoffs and privatization of public service jobs to “force public employees to agree to the wage cuts or “Dalton Days” he wants.”

However, according to OPSEU such an arrangement, that was called “The Social Contract” by the Bob Rae government back in the 1990s when they forced OPSEU to take unpaid days off, would be struck down by the courts today.

They cite the case of BC Premier Gordon Campbell who attempted, in 2007, to legislate an end to collective agreements of BC health workers. The Supreme Court of Canada ruled against BC and as far as OPSEU is concerned, “collective bargaining has been recognized as a protected right under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”


Watch out Dalton, OPSEU will take you to the Supreme Court if you try this. And remember what happened to Bob Rae. He ended up being humiliated and took the NDP to a third place finish in the next election after he instituted his infamous “Rae Days.”

Mr McGuinty looks poised to go down the same road as Mr. Rae in order to cut government spending. If he does, he risks facing the same result as Mr. Rae at the next election.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Ontario economy hits the wall

By Ian Connerty, guest columnist

Back in April 2008 the Ontario government projected a balanced budget and a surplus of $800 million.

Eighteen months later, Ontario Treasurer Dwight Duncan says the provincial deficit will be almost $25 billion this year and the accumulated deficits over the next three years will total $65 billion.

Wow. What a difference 18 months can make.

One the major bond rating agencies, DBRS was quick to react to the news, lowering the province’s bond rating from AAA to AA, a move which will increase the cost of borrowing money to finance the deficit.

DBRS also said it will take at least a decade for the province to reduce its debt burden to a more manageable level without tax increases or sharp cuts in government spending.

This huge downturn is the result of the global recession which hit Ontario’s economy and especially its auto sector very hard. More than 200,000 jobs were lost in Ontario this year including 25% of all jobs in the auto sector - gone and not likely to return.

At the same time, because of business loses and closures, corporate tax revenues have dropped by almost $6 billion, a whopping 48% less than last year. Other tax revenues are also down.

But government spending continues to grow. Spending is up almost $5 billion to $113 billion, mainly on health and education which account for more than 65% of all government spending.

Another $32 billion has been allocated for infrastructure projects to create short term jobs to replace the ones that have disappeared.

Treasurer Duncan indicated that cuts in spending are coming, but not right away. So far, cuts have been put off in favour of three years of continued deficit spending. But that might not be possible if the economy remains in free fall.

Mr Duncan announced a review of all government spending and Premier McGuinty has not ruled out forcing public servants to take days off without pay, a move that is being compared to the infamous “Rae Days” which led to the downfall of Ontario’s only NDP government back in the 1990s.

Given that 80% of all provincial government spending is on salaries, the government may have no other choice. Either lay people off or cut back their salaries with forced days off.

The options facing the government are very limited – keep spending and borrowing, cut program spending or raise taxes. Two out of these three will be very unpopular with voters in the run up the next provincial election slated for October 2011.

Premier McGuinty, who is nearing the end of his second majority government mandate is facing the biggest political challenge of his career and is obviously hoping for a miraculous economic recovery before the next election.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

New Ontario law will protect Caregivers

By Ian Connerty, guest columnist

In the wake of the widely reported “nanny-gate” affair which saw Federal Liberal MP Ruby Dhalla get in trouble over the caregivers she hired to help her mother, the Ontario government has introduced legislation to protect the rights of the 21,000 people across the province who are part of the federal Live-In Caregiver Program.

The need for this legislation has long been promoted by Liberal backbencher and former Citizenship and Immigration Minister Mike Colle. He succeeded in convincing Premier McGuinty to go ahead with the new law, giving hope to backbenchers who are promoting other issues.

The new law will protect foreign nationals who are live-in caregivers by:

  • Prohibiting recruiters from charging fees to these employees;
  • Prohibiting recruitment fees or fees for related services, such as resume writing;
  • Preventing employers from recovering recruitment and placement costs from caregivers;
  • Prohibiting employers and recruiters from taking possession of a caregiver's personal documents, such as passports and work permits; and
  • Allowing live-in caregivers up to three and a half years to make a complaint - an increase from the current two year period under the Employment Standards Act.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Obama reaches out to Russia but abandons Eastern Europe

By Ian Connerty, guest columnist

This week US President Barack Obama sent Vice President Joe Biden on a whirlwind tour of Eastern Europe to do some serious damage control.

Biden will meet with political leaders in Poland, the Czech Republic and Romania in a vain attempt to reassure them that the US will continue to protect them against a newly emboldened Russian Bear.

This follows an earlier trip by Biden to Ukraine and Georgia who are also nervous that Russia is ending its long hibernation that began when the Berlin Wall famously came down in November 1989 heralding the break up of the USSR.

Since then the United States has expanded its influence in these former USSR satellite states, while Russia was licking its wounds and very nearly went bankrupt.

Former President George W. Bush developed strong ties with all of the former satellite states by, among other things, promoting NATO membership for Ukraine and Georgia. Then came the ill-fated hostilities in Georgia last year backed by the US. Russia quickly moved its armed forces into Georgia and told the US in no uncertain terms to get out of their home turf. Bush backed down and Russia is now re-exerting its influence on neighbouring states.

President Obama has reversed Bush’s policies of confronting Russia and is trying to improve relations with the former Superpower.

Last June Obama went to Moscow to cement the new relationship by agreeing to cancel the Missile Defence system that Bush promised to Eastern Europe. Bush said the system was needed to aim missiles at a hostile Iran. Russia did not agree and felt that Moscow was dangerously in range of the proposed missiles in Poland and the Czech Republic.

Not surprisingly, the day after Obama cancelled the proposed missile defence system, Russia said they would help the US in dealing with Iran.

That was the deal. A chance for peace in the Middle East now and put Eastern Europe on the back burner. As a result, Eastern European countries that until very recently enjoyed US support in standing up Russia, quite rightly feel betrayed.

Today Russia is no longer the economic basket case it was in 1989. It is piling up huge profits from oil and gas resources thanks to a National Energy Program put in place by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

And Mr Putin found some very eager customers for his natural gas reserves in Western Europe not Eastern Europe, notably Germany, France and Italy. In fact, Germany is a financial partner in a new pipeline that will deliver Russian gas under the Baltic Sea directly to Germany, bypassing Poland.

Therefore, it’s not surprising that Germany, France and Italy don’t seem to care that much about Eastern Europe and their new concerns about Russia. They want Russian gas and are prepared to treat Russia as an ally in order to get that gas.

As a result, the newly emancipated Eastern European countries will to be left on their own, once again, to deal with the Russian Bear.

And we all know what happened the last time the Bear got hungry – Eastern Europe became a tasty morsel to be swallowed up. This time President Obama has offered them up on a platter as he tries to play nice with his new found friend Vladimir Putin.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Ian Connerty - Special Guest Columnist

A very dear associate of mine, Ian Connerty will be writing for Fair Play Blog over the next week or two. Ian is very talented, very thoughtful and very articulate. I know you will enjoy reading his opinions.

Thanks very much for doing this Ian.


Monday, October 19, 2009

What to do with Enemy Combatants and Terrorists?

The U.S. President, Barack Obama has made it clear that the Guantanamo Bay prison now holding enemy combatants captured on the battle field will be closed. What is to happen with these people, some of whom are terrorist masterminds and very very dangerous.

In a very well written piece just published in the Wall Street Journal, former United States Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey challenges us to think about what to do with enemy combatants and terrorists.

This is a lengthy article, but I strongly encourage you to take the time to read it.


Civilian Courts Are No Place to Try Terrorists 

We tried the first World Trade Center bombers in civilian courts. In return we got 9/11 and the murder of nearly 3,000 innocents.

The Obama administration has said it intends to try several of the prisoners now detained at Guantanamo Bay in civilian courts in this country. This would include Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and other detainees allegedly involved. The Justice Department claims that our courts are well suited to the task.

Based on my experience trying such cases, and what I saw as attorney general, they aren't. That is not to say that civilian courts cannot ever handle terrorist prosecutions, but rather that their role in a war on terror—to use an unfashionably harsh phrase—should be, as the term "war" would suggest, a supporting and not a principal role.

To continue please click here.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Ontario Budget Update Next Week

The "Great Recession" continues to make budgets and deficits major political problems for all governments. The Ontario government will provide its fall economic update next week. Finance Minister Dwight Duncan has his hands full dealing with expenditures as a result of falling corporate tax revenues, 48% last year. Boy that is a big number.

The 2009-2010 deficit was projected to be around 14 billion. This past June the number shot up to $18.5 billion. We will see how big the number is next week.

The Ontario Liberal government cannot be fully blamed for this, but politics is unfair, so they will get plenty of blame. Minister Duncan, who is a smart political operative will have to use all his skill to navigate around the scary size of the deficit and then figure out how to get things back under control.

I cannot predict what Duncan will do, but it will be interesting.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Update on Bankruptcy Protection for Owners of the Windsor Star

CanWest Global Communications Corporation, the large media company and owners of the Windsor Star is moving quickly to restructure. The company filed for protection under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) in the past week or so.  I thought for sure we would have seen a feature story on this on the front page of the Star, but I couldn't find it.

CanWest's lawyer, Lyndon Barnes, was before an Ontario judge on Tuesday October 13/09 asking for a very tight time line to restructure the company. He was also there to fight with lawyers representing Goldman Sachs whose lawyers have claimed their interests are not being protected. This fight is just starting, my bet is that Goldman will play hardball with CanWest. I think they see an opportunity here.

The big problem with CanWest is debt and more debt. Most of the huge debt piled on by CanWest came from the $3.5-billion purchase in 2000 of the Hollinger Inc. newspaper chain, and later the $2.3-billion buyout of Alliance Atlantis Communications Inc. in 2007.

There are very few ways to get rid of debt. You can pay it off. CanWest cannot do that. Everybody takes a haircut. Which is what CanWest would like, but people like Goldman don't like. Or the company is sold off in pieces and creditors agree on how to divide up the spoils.

Anyway this is all very interesting, I will try to keep you up to date.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The "Nobel" Prize

Given all the controversy over U.S. President Barack Obama being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, I thought my readers might like to have some independent information about the person who created the Nobel prizes.

I found a short but good piece in an online Swedish paper called "The Local".

Alfred Nobel's last will and testament
Published: 5 Oct 09 11:32 CET

Swedish inventor and scholar Alfred Nobel created the Nobel prizes in his will, written in 1895, bequeathing his fortune to a fund that would honour "those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind."

 Click here to read the rest.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Very Thin Skin Over at the Windsor Star

I had to chuckle, not very loudly of course, but chuckle I did.

In the Saturday, October 10, 2009 edition of the Windsor Star, feature opinion writer Chris Vander Doelen (whom I confess to knowing and liking) did a piece about the City of Windsor and County of Essex, doing some "fence mending". The story had little to do with the City-County feud or with any real fence mending. It was just a cover for the Windsor Star to slip in another piece on the Windsor Essex Development Commission (WEDC) and, of course, to take a shot at yours truly, and the previous WEDC Baord. Readers of my blog know I pull no punches when talking about the failures and antics over at the Windsor Star, especially this past week. Star management was very quick to show some very thin skin.

Back to the details of the Vander Doelen story. Chris always tries to be polite and careful, which he was in this article. But he did give this story a certain slant. That is okay; I have always said that is one of the perks given to an opinion writer. But what I don't understand is, why do it under some kind of false cover? Hey, just say what you have to say.

Okay, let me see if I can summarize Vander Doelen's main points:
  • the previous Board was paid an honorarium
  • when the WEDC was left without a CEO, the Board appointed me via my company
  • I was paid $1200 a day (Chris claims this is my standard rate)
  • the previous Board received bad legal advice
  • the result of the bad legal advice was that some monies had to be donated to charities to resolve a Revenue Canada issue
  • and new Board Chairman Lindsay Boyd, with a big sigh, just doesn't know where and how the old Board went wrong
Let me deal with Lindsay Boyd first. Lindsay, the entire previous Board is aware that you pretended to support us when you talked to me, but often ran to City Hall to slam us behind our backs. Every time you did this, my phone rang from multiple sources. Anyway, I wish you and the new Board lots of luck. I don't think any of the previous Board members will be slamming you and the new Board in public or behind your back.

Yes, the previous Board received an honorarium, just like the Board at the Windsor Airport and the Board over at the County of Essex Power Corporation. I wonder, who is the Chair of that Essex Power Corpoaration? The City and County, via their own transition Board, approved the policy of honorariums for the WEDC Board. Chris forgot to mention that.

Yes, I was paid $1200 a day plus reasonable expenses. Chris, just so you know, this is far below my private sector market rate. And in the private sector when I negotiate rates, I usually, not always, get stock options as well. And, oh Chris, I know you would want to know that I and my company donated 2 days per week to the Commission for a period of 18 months. This was a promise I made to the Board, which I kept in full. I will let the wizards at the Windsor Star calculate what all of that was worth, and while they are at it, they might want to consider a factor for lost opportunity and add that to the calculation.

Chris, please let me know when any of the new WEDC Board members decides to forgo 2 days per week of pay or income for a period of 18 months to support the WEDC effort. I am not a rich man, but I was happy to be able to do it. I thought the cause was worth it.

Chris makes no mention of the fact that the previous Board inherited an operational and legal mess. We did not make a big deal about it because we knew our job was to fix it up, and for the most part we did just that. The previous Board was very competent, did a good job, and got a lot done. Those are the facts.

Yes, maybe we did receive bad legal advice; I don't know as I don't have access to what the new Board is dealing with.

If the consequences of the so-called bad legal advice is that some Windsor-Essex charities received donations, well I accept full responsiblity for that, and I know the charities will use the money wisely.

In closing may I recommend:
  • that all Board meeting packages, initiatives, and documents of the previous Board be made public. Please black out the names of any and all clients, as we promised clients their names would not be made public unless they chose to do so;
  • make public all Board packages, initiatives and documents of the new Board since March 2009;
  • and please make public the Board orientation packages prepared for the new Board, which I am sure were prepared under the guidance of new Board Chair Lindsay Boyd, so we can get an appreciation of his knowledge, skillset, and leadership style;
  • oh, and please make public all the advertising and joint initiatives the previous Board undertook in partnership with the Windsor Star. From my understanding Star management was exceptionally pleased with our joint effort. And if the Star made some money on those joint efforts, that is good, too.
I am sure an objective comparison of all the obove documents would be interesting. And you know, there is no better person to do that than Chris Vander Doelan.

Again, my readers will know that I have pulled no punches when talking about the Windsor Star. A couple of close Amherstburg friends have asked me if I am worried the Star might go after me. Let me say this: I know the Star has a lot of resources, including Chris Vander Doelen, and yes I expect them to go after me. The Star folks are not used to real scrutiny, and when they get some, they react poorly. Everyone should know that I really appreciate the Star folks visiting my Fair Play Blog daily. Thanks for the support.

And I say to my Amherstburg friends, no, I am not worried about it.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Enjoy Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, be safe, see you next Tuesday.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The End for Canwest Global?

CanWest Global Communications Corporation, owners of the Windsor Star, filed for bankruptcy protection on Tuesday October 6, 2009. This was expected, as the company is under a mountain of debt.

The Globe and Mail did an excellent piece; read below.

CanWest assets likely to be sold after company files for creditor protection
Struggling under $4-billion in debt,
media company strikes deal with creditors

Grant Robertson, Tavia Grant and Andrew Willis
Tuesday, Oct. 06, 2009

CanWest Global Communications Corp.'s (CGS.A-T0.19----%) television and newspaper assets will likely be sold separately as Canada's biggest media company moves to satisfy its lenders.

Buried under billions in debt, CanWest filed for bankruptcy protection Tuesday, telling a judge in Toronto it was now insolvent.

Click here for the entire story.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Ontario Health Minister Forced to Resign Over "eHealth" Scandal

As my readers will know, I have been writing about the problems over at eHealth for some time. This is the organization that is supposed to put all medical records in electronic form for easy use. Once this is done it should lower the cost of health care management and make it easier for practitioners to deliver service to the patients. So, in theory, eHealth is a good thing and should be worth the money.

However, the implementation of  the work being done over at eHealth is another matter altogether. It has run into lots of problems and has emerged as a major scandal. In political terms the scandal has given the Ontario Progressive Conservative party a big boost in their chances in the next provincial election. Because of this scandal, its size, the fact that it deals with health care, and the amount of attention it has received, all future criticisms of the McGuinty government will be taken more seriously. This may not be fair, but that is politics.

The following is the big story in the Toronto Star today.

eHealth scandal claims health minister

Premier scrambles to shuffle cabinet as David Caplan quits on eve of damning report on eHealth scandal

Published On Wed Oct 7 2009

The eHealth Ontario spending scandal has claimed one of the most powerful people at Queen's Park – Health Minister David Caplan, whose resignation forces Premier Dalton McGuinty to revamp his cabinet.

But McGuinty has one hand tied behind his back as he struggles to reshape his embattled Liberal government because Deputy Premier George Smitherman, who is planning to run for Toronto mayor next year, does not want to quit his energy and infrastructure post just yet.

"Things are chaotic," an insider said as worried Liberal MPPs held a late-night conference call to demand answers about the confusion at the highest levels of the provincial government.

To read the entire story click here.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Windsor Star - Poor Attempt to Apologize

Yesterday I wrote about the awful reporting featured in Saturday's October 3, 2009 edition of the Windsor Star, our daily regional paper. Anyone who takes the time to read the statistics will know this paper has monopoly-like control over the news given to our residents.

In my post of yesterday, I pointed out several blatant errors in the story written by famous reporter and super snooper Dave Battagello. He also gave the story a special tilt, just for good measure. Normally I wouldn't bother to comment at such length, but snoop was over the top. Battagello weaved a fairytale about a hoard of senior city employees being forced out of city employment. He pointed the finger at Mayor Francis.

The story was so bad, his list even included people who were not city employees, and some who were not forced out.

Assistant chief honcho Marty Beneteau should have done the right thing. We all make mistakes, and I am being kind here to Battagello: a real apology, retraction and correction was in order. But what do we get from our near monopoly news source?

It appears as if opinion writer Chris Vander Doelen (I confess to knowing and liking Chris) was dispatched to do some damage control. In today's October 6, 2009 edition, Vander Doelen calls the Battagello list "padded" and gives an example or two, or maybe seven, of some folks who were not forced out but left for various reasons. He also tries to give some balance to the Battagello fairytale. But you know, a fairytale is a fairytale.

I thank Chris for his efforts. But this looks like a poor attempt by Windsor Star management at an apology, retraction and correction. What a way to run a ship.

I repeat what I said yesterday: the Windsor Star is the most negative and harmful institution we have in our entire region.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Are there any Standards at the Windsor Star?

Boy, super snooper Dave Battegello really outdid himself in this past Saturday's October 3, 2009 edition of the Windsor Star. He went a long way to make my point--that standards at the Windsor Star are not what they should be. You wonder just how much embarrassment Chief Honcho and publisher Jim Venney and assistant chief  honcho Marty Beneteau can take.

Super snooper Dave Battegello and whoever runs the Saturday edition dedicated almost the entire front page, and, if you can believe it, all of page 5, to a story regarding professional staff, who have left Windsor city employment. This story, or maybe fairytale, titled "The Revolving Door" with a sub-headline "High turnover costs city hall money and reputations, critics say" deserves to be looked at closely, at least in my opinion.

You guessed it, this is another one of those stories where Star reporters appear to want to be opinion writers. They go out and find "critics" to fit nicely into their story line, gosh how convenient. By the way, is it true that super snoop Battegello no longer covers the municipal scene? And if so, why? Maybe in the interest of transparency, management will tell us why?

Anyway, back to the story, or fairytale. On the front pages of the Star, there are photographs, lots of them, 27 in fact, mine included. My post of today for Fair Play blog will focus on comments made about me and the Windsor Essex Development Commission (WED,C) since I am familiar with the facts and details about the Commission. As my readers will know, I served as Chairman of the WEDC for more than two and a half years and as acting CEO of the Commission for about one year. I was initially appointed to the WEDC by the then Essex County Warden and Mayor of LaSalle Mike Raymond. Mike did a top notch job during his time.

Others talked about in the Battegello story-fairytale will have to speak for themselves, since I, unlike Battegello, don't know their facts or circumstances. But I do know super snoop Dave did not call me for this story.

This is how the story-fairytale is framed for the readers:
  • "Since November 2003, when Mayor Eddie Francis was first elected, more than 30 senior managers have either been terminated, taken other jobs or disappeared into the sunset."
Then our super snooper goes on to say:
  • "Nearly every municipal department, from public works to economic development, has been affected by a steady stream of departures among its highest-ranking bureaucrats."
The above is a serious mistake, in fact. The Windsor Essex Development Commission (WEDC) is not a municipal department. Far from it. It is a corporation and has a legislative framework to follow as a corporation to satisfy the law of the land. Wow, that this important fact was misrepresented to Windsor Star readers is unbelievable.

Super snoop Dave goes on to write about the WEDC as follows:
  • Both Paul Bondy and Roman Dzus were shown the door before Fischer arrived. After Fischer was fired, board chairman Remo Mancini took over, but he was eventually forced out as well.
Another serious factual mistake. I was not forced out as Board Chairman, nor in my role as acting CEO of the Commission. I and my 9 colleagues on the Board all resigned at the same time. We did so because City Council and Essex County Council indicated they wanted elected officials on the Board. This was contrary to policy they established for the WEDC, and totally inconsistent with how we had been recruited. Super snoop Dave obviously doesn't know this and it looks like he never read our resignation letters. The letters were made public and given wide circulation by the Board. Maybe snoop just forgot about them. Hey, he had a story to write, and I am sure time was limited...

At the same meeting where the entire WEDC Board resigned, I informed the Board that my company, Sandstone Strategies, would be concluding my contract as CEO effective with my and all our resignations. Again we all resigned together, and we resigned because the elected officials indicated they wanted Board seats. No problem for us if that is what they wanted, but we certainly did not sign up for a political Board. As a matter of fact, we signed up for exactly the opposite, and I am proud that we, the whole Board, stuck to our guns. I believe time will prove us right.

By the way, if super snoop Dave has any documents that proves I was forced out, he should make them public. Ok Dave, let's have it.

If the Battegello story-fairytale has this many factual errors about the WEDC alone, then I wonder how many other mistakes, misrepresentations, or errors there must be?

Let me say, to the best of my knowledge, neither Mayor Fancis nor Warden Santos interfered with the work of the WEDC. Other elected officials certainly did. I may write more about that in the future.

And finally, nobody did a greater disservice to the WEDC than the Windsor Star; please take full credit for what you have done. Saturday's fairytale effort to put all the blame on the shoulders of Mayor Francis would be laughable if the damage done to the community by the Windsor Star were not so great. To put it bluntly, the Windsor Star is the most negative and harmful institution in our entire region.

Friday, October 2, 2009

China to Pass Japan

It has been predicted for some time, but it appears China will pass Japan as the world's second largest economy sometime next year.

Yesterday, October 1, 2009 was the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. My congratulations to the people of China. I attended celebrations at Queen's Park, seat of the Provincial Parliament for Ontario in Toronto. The event was hosted by Premier Dalton McGuinty, and several cabinet ministers were present including Minister of Trade and Economic Development Sandra Pupatello. A number of Chinese dignitaries and business people were present.

Twenty years ago, such an occasion would probably have passed without notice. Things have changed. Today China is a powerhouse, with a huge population, 1.4 billion. Militarily, it is modernizing its forces and increasing defense spending, and economically it is big, with a gross domestic product (GDP) of 4.4 trillion U.S. dollars for 2008.

Below is the best broad definition I can give you for GDP:

"Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is the broadest measure of a nation's total economic activity. More specifically, GDP represents the monetary value of all goods and services produced within a nation's geographic borders over a specified period of time.

GDP includes all personal consumption, all government expenditures, all investments in plants, equipment, inventories all residential investments, all exports, minus all imports."

Also remember that technically when the GDP declines for two consecutive quarters or more, by definition the economy is in a recession. And of course, we here in the West are currently in the "Great Recession".

I guess the big question is "why is China growing so fast"?

In 1978, after decades of strict state control over all productive assets, the government of China embarked on a major program of economic reform. As a matter of fact, it was a revolution in thought and practice. This revolution awoke a sleeping economic giant. It fostered rural enterprises and the formation of private business. This rewarded human ingenuity, hard work, and entrepreneurship. The Chinese government liberalized foreign trade and investment, relaxed state control over some prices, invested in industrial infrastructure, and made the education of its workforce a priority. Last but not least, a significant increase in worker efficiency has played a big role.

A very informative story in the New York Times (read below) shows there is lots to celebrate in China.

Chinese Economic Juggernaut Is Gaining on Japan
Published: October 1, 2009

TOKYO — For years, Japan has been readying itself for the day that it is eclipsed economically by China. But as a result of the global slowdown, Japan’s difficulty in managing its economy and China’s rise — on vivid display Thursday as Beijing celebrated the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic — that day may come sooner than anyone predicted.

Read more, click here.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Cell Phone Numbers go public October 31, 2009

Just a reminder, and a big one.

Cell phone Numbers go public October 31, 2009

All cell phone numbers are being released to telemarketing
companies and you will start to receive sales calls.


Use the Canadian Radio Television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) "Do Not Call List Canada" website, and register your phone there to block these unwanted calls. The National Do Not Call List (DNCL) is great for consumers who want some privacy.

The address below should take you to the government site so you can register. Pass this information on to family and friends.
  •  or you can always google "crtc do not call list"

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Billion Dollars is a Lot of Money

I have written numerous stories about the "eHealth" scandal. This sad story  just keeps getting worse as more details are made public.

An important update from the Toronto Star.

EHealth operation bled $1B

Auditor's report slams
Ontario's bungled push
for e-records and cash
it threw at the problem
Sep 30, 2009

Tanya Talaga
Rob Ferguson
Robert Benzie
Queen's Park Bureau

The cost of Ontario's bungled push toward electronic health records for every patient ballooned to more than $1 billion as successive Liberal and Progressive Conservative governments scrambled to bring the system online, says a critical new auditor general's report into the eHealth Ontario spending scandal.

The Star has learned Auditor General Jim McCarter's probe, slated for release next week, blasts Premier Dalton McGuinty's Liberal government for exacerbating problems that began under the previous Conservative administration and continuing a legacy of failure to modernize health records.

"It ain't pretty. This is not a happy tale," a senior official said Tuesday.

For the whole story click here.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Ontario Deficit for 2008-2009 Bigger than Projected

The fiscal year for the Province of Ontario runs from April 1 to March 31st. It then takes a number of months before the Finance Minister is able to close the books and give a final accounting. This year is no different. On Friday, September 25th, Minister Dwight Duncan finally closed the books on the 2008-2009 fiscal year.

Minister Duncan had projected a deficit of around $3.9 billion, but the number came in $2.5 billion higher by the time the books closed on March 31st 2009. The total provincial debt now stands in the neighbourhood of $113 billion. I agree these are all very big numbers.

Projections for the 2009-2010 fiscal year are also out of whack. Earlier this year in his budget statement the minister told Ontarians to expect a $14.1 billion deficit. After the first quarter the minister changed his projections. The following is a statement from the ministry website:

  • In the 2009 Ontario Budget, the government projected a $14.1 billion deficit for 2009–10. Since then, a weaker-than-expected economy and further steps to support the automotive industry have increased the deficit projection to $18.5 billion in 2009–10. 
  • This $4.4 billion increase to the deficit for 2009–10 is primarily due to an approximately $2.8 billion deterioration in the Province’s revenue outlook as a result of a weaker economy, combined with an increase in total expense of $1.5 billion to support the automotive sector and $0.1 billion in higher interest on debt expense. 
A strong political argument can be made to defend these very big deficits, and why minister Duncan has been so wrong with his projections. But I have to admit, the minister is going to have a hard time shaking the "Duncan Deficits" label.

The financial update regarding the 2008-09 deficit, like the TD Bank report on the impact to consumers of the new Harmonized Sales Tax (HST), was conveniently made public after the St Paul's provincial by-election. I know some political adviser or advisers must have thought delaying this information was a stroke of genius. However, in reality, the Liberals would have won the by-election anyway and the political manipulation of this public information needlessly harms their reputation.

Monday, September 28, 2009

German Voters Select Merkel

German voters went to the polls on Sunday, September 22nd 09 and voted to end the "Grand Coalition". For the past 4 years, Germany has been governed by an uneasy coalition made up of the Christian Democrat Union (CDU) and the Social Democratic Party (SPD). The Christian Democrats represent the conservative right of the political spectrum, while the Social Democrats represent the left wing of politics.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has governed very competently and carefully over the past 4 years. She showed herself to be quite astute in dealing with the Social Democrats, who had half the cabinet positions as part of the "Grand Coalition". Voters rewarded Mrs. Merkel and her CDU with a big win; she will be Chancellor for another 4 years.

Germany, with a population of 82 million people, has the richest and largest economy in Europe. Germany is the world's largest exporter and a big investor in Canada, making what happens in Germany important to all of us.

During my time as Chairman of the Windsor Essex Development Commission, we at the Commission made a significant effort to get to know our German investors. In fact, for the very first time ever, the Board of Directors and Commission staff held a "German Investor Day" to acknowledge the importance of  German investors in the Windsor Essex region and our very special relationship.

The makeup of the new Bundestag or Parliament will have a decidedly conservative flavour. Results show the Christian Democrats winning 33.8 percent of the vote. The very pro-business Free Democrats are poised to win almost 15 per cent of the vote. The two parties will be able to form a majority government.

The Social Democrats won only 23 per cent--their worst showing since the second world war. Their political allies, the Left Party (who are very far left, by the way), won 11.9 percent.

Other smaller parties, such as the Green Party, will also be represented in the Bundestag. Voter turnout was just over 70 per cent.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Canadian House of Commons to grow by 34 Seats?

Speculation is rampant that the current 308 seat Canadian House of Commons could grow to 342 seats before the next federal election. Democratic Reform Minister Steven Fletcher, a member of the Harper government, is working on legislation which would greatly increase the number of MP's in Ontario, British Columbia, and Alberta.

One would think that allocating constituencies for the House of Commons is a relatively simply task. In theory, in a liberal democracy like Canada, it should be one person one vote, and therefore all constituencies should be of similar size. But the history of Canada and past agreements with Provinces has created a cumbersome mechanism.

For example, since 1915, the senatorial clause has guaranteed that no province would have fewer members in the House of Commons than it has in the Senate. The Representation Act, 1985, created a new grandfather clause that guaranteed each province no fewer seats than it had in 1976 or during the 33rd Parliament. Legislation like this gives more power to smaller provinces and guarantees Quebec 75 seats.

Let's for a moment assume all federal ridings were equal. If this were the case, each riding would have about 108,000 people. However, this is not the case. For example, as things stand today, the average Ontario riding has about 107,000 people, in British Columbia the number is about 108,000 and in Saskatchewan it is about 69,900. Therefore, the principle of one person one vote is modified for different parts of the country.

The proposed changes to increase the number of MP's will be an attempt to address this issue. However, past agreements will prevent a true one person one vote situation. Using 2001 census figures, if the number of MP's in the House of Commons is increased from its current 308 to 342, you can expect the average riding population to be as follows:
  • Ontario 89,800
  • British Columbia 90,800
  • Alberta 87,500
The numbers for smaller provinces will not change. For example:
  • New Brunswick 72,900
  • Prince Edward Island 33,800
(All above numbers have been rounded for ease of use.)

The new situation will not be perfect, but it will be better and more fair than it stands today.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

New Details about the New Tax

My readers will know that I have written several times about the new Harmonized Sales Tax (HST). Today's online version of the Toronto Star has quite a story.

Take your time; it's worth the read.

Ontario can't drop new tax
Sep 24, 2009
Robert Benzie
Queen's Park Bureau Chief

Ontario's controversial harmonized sales tax is here to stay – no matter who wins the next federal or provincial elections, documents confirm.

Buried in the fine print of the accord signed last March between Ottawa and Queen's Park is a clause that ensures the new 13 per cent tax, which takes effect July 1, remains at that rate until at least 2012.

Premier Dalton McGuinty said yesterday he was not up on the minutiae of the four-page memorandum of agreement, which also stipulates the HST must be in place through 2015.

"I'm actually not familiar with that stuff," McGuinty said. "I'm sure that (Finance Minister Dwight Duncan) will be of help."

For the full story click here.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

King of Cheap Politics

Boy oh boy, some people just don't know where bottom is.

In today's Windsor Star a well written article touches on the ongoing feud between the Town of Tecumseh and the City of Windsor. The feud is very wide ranging and in my opinion is constantly stoked by Tecumseh Mayor Gary McNamara and his sidekick Deputy Mayor Tom Burton.

McNamara was crowing about the Dragon Boat Festival being moved to the Tecumseh waterfront from Windsor. Festival organizer Gerry Orum, a very good guy by the way, made the official request to Tecumseh, which of course, was accepted.

What is most disgusting about this article are the comments made by McNamara regarding some recently public news about Sue Whelan, the former Essex MP and cabinet minister. For McNamara to bring attention to himself by talking about Ms. Whelan's health challenges, and somehow inserting her situation into this controversial matter is unspeakable.

Talk about a big mouth and a tiny brain!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Windsor City Council Way too Big

I have written several stories about the recent ward changes approved by Windsor City Council. Just a quick recap for my readers: Windsor has gone from 5 wards with 2 council members each, to 10 wards with 1 council member per ward. In this change, the number of elected officials stayed the same and Council designed most of the wards to be similar in size. The ward system had not been changed for over 30 years, and due to population growth and shifting neighbourhoods, some of the wards were quite large.

Council last week started to reduce the size of its executive management; the number has gone from 5 to 3. This is a big change! Some Council members have also indicated that the size of government for Windsor is too large and not sustainable due to slow population growth and the fundamental change that has taken place in Windsor's economy.

But when it came to their own members, Council made sure that 10 equals 10. At the time, my recommendation was 6 council members plus the mayor. The reporting by the Windsor Star on this issue was half-hearted at best. Where was super snoop Dave Battegello when we needed him? He seems to be able to do a lot of important research when it interests him. Just look at his terrific and skilled reporting regarding the recent departure of Windsor CAO John Skorobohacz. As an important side note, Skorobohacz is one of the most capable public servants I have ever worked with and that includes my time as an Ontario cabinet minister, where I worked directly with 3 Deputy Ministers in various portfolios.

Back to the size of council. I wrote about Edmonton, which has a population of almost 800,000. They have 12 council members. I would like to add another comparison a little closer to Windsor and very similar in size. Let's look at Kitchener with a population of 205,000. Guess how many council members there are in Kitchener? Indeed: 6 plus the mayor. They had no trouble dividing Kitchener into 6 wards. The city seems to be well run.

This information was too difficult for the Windsor Star to find. And I don't remember it being talked about at Windsor City Council during the "great ward debate".

Monday, September 21, 2009

Ontario Liberals Win By -Election

Dr. Eric Hoskins, a 48-year-old family physician, easily won the wealthy midtown Toronto riding of St. Paul's. The recent well publicized government spending, contract and expense scandals seemed to play no part in the vote.

Hoskins replaces former cabinet minister Michael Bryant, who left provincial politics in June, to become CEO on INVEST Toronto. Mr. Bryant recently resigned from his new CEO position due to his involvement (and being charged) in a tragic automobile incident.

St. Paul's was supposed to have been a hotly contested race. The Progressive Conservative (PC) candidate Sue-Ann Levy, 52, a columnist at the Toronto Sun, finished second, and NDP candidate Julian Heller, a lawyer, came third. The vote wasn't even close. So much for the pundits!

The standings in the Ontario Legislature now look like this: Liberals have 72 of the 107 seats, PC's 25 and the NDP 10.

Friday, September 18, 2009

What a Difference a Few Months Make

Last year then Liberal leader Stephane Dion took some very bold steps to remove Stephen Harper and his Conservatives from power. Mr. Dion with great fanfare held a media conference where he and the leader of the Bloc Quebecois along with the leader of the New Democratic Party signed an accord to defeat the Conservatives. The accord would have created a Liberal-NDP coalition government supported by the Bloc, but with no Bloc members as part of the government.

The accord included the following:
  • Stéphane Dion will be prime minister until May 2, 2009, when a new Liberal leader is chosen. The new Liberal leader will then become PM.
  • The Liberal Party and NDP will sit together as a coalition government until June 30, 2011.
  • The Bloc will support the new government until June 30, 2010, with an option to renew their support at that time. They will not be part of the government, and will not hold any seats in cabinet. The Bloc’s support is based on economic concerns, not the issue of Québec independence.
  • The cabinet will consist of twenty-four members, plus the prime minister. Sixteen ministers will be Liberals, six will be New Democrats.
  • The deputy prime minister and finance minister will be Liberals.
Prime Minister Harper and his Conservatives went to work!!

Harper said "the highest principle" of Canadian democracy was to have a mandate to govern via an election. He went on to say anything less was a "betrayal" of our democracy. Boy, pretty strong words. But anyway, Harper and the Conservatives were just warming up.

Time and again Harper accused the Liberals of creating an alliance with the "separatists". And he accused the Liberals of trying to win power "through the back door". Referring to the NDP as "socialists" was about the nicest thing the Prime Minister said.

After a nation wide campaign to vilify the Liberals, Prime Minister Harper realized he was going to be defeated anyway, and took the extraordinary step of asking  the Governor General, Michaëlle Jean, to close down Parliament, in order to avoid a vote. This is truly breathtaking! Parliament had been in session for only 2 weeks. But it happened. Parliament was prorogued or closed, the Harper government survived, Mr. Dion resigned, and the rest is history.

Yet today on Friday, September 18, 2009, there will be a non-confidence vote in the House of Commons. The Liberals will vote to defeat Prime Minister Harper. The "separatist" Bloc Quebecois and "socialist" NDP will vote to keep Harper and the Conservatives in office. I guess we are supposed to believe that there have been no backroom deals between the Conservatives, the "separatists" and the "socialists"...

You can't make this stuff up.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Interesting Changes at Windsor City Hall

Windsor CAO John Skorobohacz did not renew his contract with the City of Windsor. I understand from media reports that this decision was mutual. Mr. Skorobohacz was quoted as saying "every CAO has a best before date". I believe this to be very true, especially in Windsor, where city officials have to work with people like Councillors Alan Halberstadt and Bill Marra. Halberstadt only throws curve and spit balls. Bill Marra is not reliable when he gives you his word and never knows what he wants.

I have known John Skorobohacz for some time and worked closely with him over the past 3 years as we both served on the Windsor Essex Development Commission Board of Directors. I have seen him in action in other forums as well. My up-close observation is that he did great work and his outstanding leadership will be missed by all in the Windsor Essex region, especially by those who want to get things done.

This week, Windsor City Council also reduced the number of top level administrators from 5 to 3, in an apparent cost-saving effort. The city unions see this as a prelude to job cuts in their ranks. This may or may not be true. Job cuts can also be achieved by attrition or retirement. With an election 12 months away, we will have to wait and see which route this Council takes.

The really interesting thing about reducing the size of government in Windsor is the recent exercise Council went through to alter the ward system for electing councillors. Windsor had 5 wards with 2 councillors in each ward, that makes 10. And after the changes, Windsor ended up with 10 wards and 1 councillor per ward. Gosh, that makes 10.

As I have said in the past, there is no justification for such a large Council.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Messy Details for Duncan Over at OLG

I said in my post of Monday September 14 that the anticipated law suit by Kelly McDougald, the fired CEO of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG), was sure to be messy. Sure enough, details of the 18-page statement of claim have begun pouring out. The alleged conversations between McDougald and Ontario Finance Minister Duncan are messy, to say the least.

The Toronto Star seems very interested in this story. In today's online editions we read:

OLG chief: I'm the scapegoat
Kelly McDougald says she was axed amid scandal
after refusing government order to fire underlings

Sep 16, 2009 04:30 AM
Rob Ferguson
Robert Benzie
Queen's Park Bureau

The Liberal government knew months ago that an expense scandal was brewing at the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp., but kept a lid on it while searching for a political scapegoat before settling on lotto boss Kelly McDougald, her $8.85 million lawsuit against the province claims.

For the whole story click here.

As I said on Monday, it is very difficult to prove cause in such a firing. McDougald wanted 400 grand to go away quietly. My prediction is the Ontario government will spend far more than $400,000 just in legal fees.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

All Eyes on Ottawa

You can hear the Liberal McGuinty-Duncan government in Ontario breathe a sigh of relief from Queen's Park all the way here in Amherstburg. Liberal political appointments both at eHealth and the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation have caused immense damage to the McGuinty and Duncan Liberals.

Why the sigh of relief? Well, federal politics has taken centre stage and all eyes are on Ottawa. Less than 3 weeks ago, federal Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff finally decided to be full-time opposition leader. No more "Mr. Nice Guy" and no more support for Stephen Harper and his very conservative Conservatives.

Ok, now the real political maneuvering begins. The Harper Conservatives have scheduled a non-confidence vote for Friday, September 18th. Will the separatist Bloc Quebecois and the socialist NDP, as Prime Minister Harper calls them, embarrass themselves and support the Conservative government? My money says yes.

It will take the Bloc and NDP leaders weeks to explain how this is possible and in the process eat up all valuable media space. And by the time they explain this vote, they will have to do it again. Oh boy, sore backs and joints for everyone. By the time Christmas rolls around, both the Bloc and NDP members will be signing up for the International Contortion Convention, where they will no doubt ably compete with world famous contortionist Daniel "Rubberboy" Browning Smith.

I know, I know, the Bloc and NDP leaders will say Canadians don't want an election. Then they will trumpet all manner of government announcements (the ones they like) as something they forced on the Harper Conservatives. And then they will conclude by saying, 'You see, it was worth supporting a government we don't support to get these great programmes and policies for Canadians'.

It is enough to make everyone want an election right now.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Duncan and Fired Lottery Boss in Big Battle

 Just a short 15 days ago and with great fanfare and indignation, a very serious looking Dwight Duncan, finance minister for the province of Ontario, fired with cause Kelly McDougald, the CEO of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG). The same day, the OLG Board Chair and the rest of the Board all resigned or were pushed out.

Minister Duncan, who only 2 months ago got responsibility for the OLG, exposed all the dirty laundry in a Toronto media conference filled with tension. The tension comes from what appears to be poor oversight by the Board of Directors of the OLG management and some interesting spending habits. There is lots of political sting here as this is fresh on the heals of the spending and contract scandal over at eHealth.

Premier Dalton McGuinty even got into the act by announcing new rules for the people who receive these political appointments. McGuinty announced that workers at the largest 23 of Ontario's 600 agencies, boards, and commissions will have to submit their expense claims to the integrity commissioner rather than having them approved in-house. Things must be pretty bad.

The 600 or so agencies, boards, and commissions (ABC's) do all sorts of things from running lotteries to managing environmental hearings, to the LCBO. The ABC's are so numerous and so influential they could be considered a government within a government. Most of them do good and important work and stay out of trouble.

The ABC's report to one government minister or another, so there is direct political accountability. As well, the legislature has an all-party committee that has oversight responsibility for these agencies, boards, and commissions. When I served as MPP for Essex South, I was for several years a member of this legislative committee. We would hold public hearings and have several of these ABC's before the committee each year and then issue a report.

Media reports indicate that Kelly McDougald, the fired CEO, was handpicked by the Liberals for the $400,000 per year job. This makes the whole fiasco doubly embarrassing for Duncan and the Liberals.

"I am disappointed about what has been brought to my attention," said Duncan during his media conference. He went on to outline some of the spending: $7.70 pen refill, a $1.12 cloth grocery, a $30 car wash claim submitted without a receipt, $487.50 for a nanny to be paid so a worker could attend meetings from September 2006 to December 2006 - no receipts, but the expense was allowed anyway.

All of the above is small but rotten potatoes. So we have got to believe that more--and the worst--is yet to come. You don't fire a CEO with cause on the stuff we have been told so far.

McDougald, according to Toronto media, will soon file a $9 million lawsuit for wrongful dismissal. This is bad news for Duncan, McGuinty and the Liberals, as all sorts of damaging political information is sure come out. In fact, one of the members of the OLG Board of Directors who resigned said she quit because the Liberals failed to act on the board's advice to strengthen accountability. Stuff like this will be used against the Liberals both in the court of law and the court of public opinion.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

What to do with Afghanistan?

The current War in Afghanistan officially began on October 7, 2001, when the United States launched Operation Enduring Freedom in response to the attacks of September 11th. The then-stated aim of the mission was to find Osama Bin Laden and to find and destroy Al-Queda. And, finally, to remove the Taliban government which gave protection and safe harbour to the terrorists.

The American and coalition forces were able to defeat and depose the Taliban government within a few weeks, but have never found Bin Laden or destroyed Al-Queda. The war grinds on.

We as Canadians have invested heavily in Afghanistan, both in blood and treasure. Since 2002, 129 Canadian soldiers have died as part of the Afghan mission. In 2008, Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page reported that the mission would cost $14 to $18 Billion by the time it ends in 2011. That works out to about $1500 for every household in Canada.

As we all know, the people of Afghanistan recently participated in a vote. Current President Hamid Karzai is the 12th President of Afghanistan. Mr. Karzai was made Chairman of the Transitional Committee in December 2001. In 2002, he was named Interim President, and in 2004 he was elected President.

Governing has been difficult for President Karzai. He is surrounded by warlords who have their own armies. It is speculated that some of these warlords and maybe some senior officials in the Karzai government are involved in the heroin trade. As Canadians, we read on a regular basis of the interference from Pakistan, and media reports tell of safe havens for the Taliban on Pakistani soil. We hear horror stories of schoolgirls being attacked and brutalized for attending class. Indeed it appears to the outsider that in general very little has changed for women in Afghanistan.

Anyway, everyone keeps trying to build infrastructure and institutions in order to make Afghanistan a stable member of the international community. Without a doubt, it is in our interests to do so.

The whole Afghan mission is now in jeopardy, at least in my opinion, due to the recent Presidential elections. President Karzai's main challenger, Abdullah Abdullah, and his supporters have claimed massive fraud in the voting. So far it looks like Mr. Abdullah may be correct. The Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) is investigating more than 2,500 allegations of fraudulent activity. Media reports talk of fictitious voting stations and ballot box stuffing by the thousands. In fact, the ECC called on Afghanistan's Independent Elections Commission (IEC) to conduct an audit and recount because of "clear and convincing evidence of fraud in a number of polling stations." This does not bode well for Afghanistan's future.

Given the scale of this controversy, the best result might be a mandatory runoff between the two top vote-getters, Mr.Karzai and Mr. Abdullah.

All of us have too much at stake to allow the election to turn into a fiasco.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Can Venice be Saved ?

The city of Venice has a great history (and that is putting it mildly) as an financial power, maritime power, trading power and as a world centre for culture and arts. Over the centuries, Venice has played all these roles, while its main focus today is tourism, culture and arts.

I have traveled to Venice several times, with each I visit I am drawn closer to and further appreciate Venice.
Like many people from all parts of the world, I am worried about the future of Venice, one of the great wonders of the world. In fact, Venice and its lagoon is a  UNESCO World Heritage site.

Venice is located in the north-eastern part of Italy, in the wealthy Region of Veneto. Veneto is one of  20 regions in Italy and has a population of 4.8 million people. To better understand the situation, you should know that in Italy, a Region is similar to a Canadian Province or U.S State, and a Province is similar to a Canadian County. Their are 7 provinces in the Region of  Veneto. The City of Venice itself has a population of some 270,000 people. Only 30% live on the Venetian Islands in the lagoon (which we all presume to be Venice), some 70% of the city residents residing on the mainland part of Venice.

Thre are two big things going on in and around Venice that we should know and be concerned about. One is the "Moses Project". As we all know, Venice is subject to flooding or "acqua alta", as they say in Italian. In December 2008, Venice experienced the deepest flood in over 20 years, which put 95% of the city under water.

The simplest description of the "Moses Project" I have found is the following:

  • "A huge structure (composed of 79 steel dams) is being strung from thousands of steel stakes where the floodwaters enter the lagoon from the Adriatic Sea. These dams are each 30 meters high and 20 long, and they will be raised into position every time a high tide threatens the city. The project is expected to cost in excess of 5 billion Euros, with annual maintenance at about 9 million Euros after completion in 2013. Obviously the intention is to hold back the water – but there is concern about the effect this will have on the fragile ecosystem."
The "Moses Project" is proceeding, albeit very slowly, and is now scheduled for completion in 2014. Hopefully, this will stop the flooding and any environmental consequences from the massive construction of the dams will be minimal.

The other big situation is the proposed mainland port expansion. Italian governmental authorities have plans to expand Venice's port into a huge shipping hub. In the opinion of many, this will endanger the fragile lagoon which the slowly sinking city is built on. This port expansion calls for significant dredging of the lagoon and will allow for more and bigger ships.

The British organization, "Venice in Peril Fund", which was founded in 1966 and is one of many international organizations working to preserve Venice, has issued a report and sounded the alarm bells over what is proposed. In 1951, around 1 million people per year visited Venice, recent statistics indicate the number is now 15 million per year!!

The proposed expanded port will bring in more cargo ships and more cruise liners with more people. None of this should happen without proper studies and management systems to enusure Venice and the lagoon are not further degraded.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Happy Labour Day

Following the Great Canadian Tradition, I don't plan on working leading up to and over the Labour Day Weekend!

See you all next Wednesday September 9th, 2009.

Be safe and enjoy the great weather.

Thank you very much for supporting "Fair Play Wins" Blog!!!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

How About Full Disclosure on the Internet

If you write an opinion for others to read, you should give your name. This is a basic principle that should be followed, no exceptions.

So, you want to write a letter to the editor of the local paper. What a great idea, more people should do it. And if you do, there is accepted protocol for you to follow. For example, this is the protocol at the Windsor Star:
  • "Letters to the editor must include your full name, address and a daytime phone number. The Star reserves the right to edit, condense or reject letters. Letters must be fewer than 300 words." 
 If your letter gets published, your name and town gets published as well. So if I wrote a letter, my name and Amherstburg would appear.

So there you have it. A good policy as far as I am concerned. The same or similar policies hold true at other publications as well. 

My question is, why no such policy for online stories by the Windsor Star and other publications? Why the veil of secrecy? Why allow anyone with a throw-away email address and some goofy moniker to spout his or her opinion? What opinion can be of value or fair under such circumstances?

Let me give you an example.

On September 2, 2009 someone named Tumble Weed wrote the following:
 "people in Windsor are sick of unions. be gone with you. i wish you into the corn field"

in response to an online article titled: 
"Labour Day parade hits wrong note with musicians' union"

Now I know this "letter" by Tumble Weed is pure genius and Tumble Weed is certainly within the 300 word limit. So good so far.  And, of course, this is what you get when you have no standards.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Banking will Never be the Same

Technology is changing many things we do and how we do it. Banking is no different. The TimesOnline did a really interesting story of how you might be banking in the year 2020, not that far away, really.

From The Times August 29, 2009

What high street banking will look like in 2020

Banking technology is developing so swiftly that soon you’ll be able to buy things without your PIN or plastic

Imagine a world where, when you walk into your bank, messages and adverts pop up that address you by name. A world where debit and credit cards are extinct and business is done by a swipe of your mobile phone. A world where you make payments using an iris scan and do not have to remember those pesky PINs.

It might sound like the premise of the futuristic 2002 film Minority Report, based on the novel by the science-fiction master Philip K. Dick. But the technology to make all this possible is already being developed. What sounds far-fetched now could be the norm in just a few years.

For the rest of the story click here.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Revolution In Japan!

For only the second time since World War 2, voters in Japan have chosen a political party other than the Liberal Democratic Party to lead their government. Japanese society is very careful in all endeavors, and such change does not happen easily.

I made an official visit to Japan around 1988 in my capacity as Minister for Disabled Persons. I was rather very young looking at the time, and can still remember the surprised looks I received as I was introduced at formal gatherings. I also remember a private meeting with the Canadian Ambassador, who was startled when I told him he could be more ambitious in defending Canada's car sector.

What I noted first in my visit to Japan was how hard working and industrious the people seemed. The next thing I observed was how orderly and clean everything appeared. To this very day I marvel at how something as simple as taxi service is so well managed in Japan. Just think, to have a taxi driver who has taken a bath and picks you up in a clean car! This happens only on occasion in Toronto, at least from my experience.

For a society where saving face and being orderly is important, change in political leadership is worth noting. Yesterday, Japan's voters opted massively for change. Voters stampeded to the Democratic Party giving them a projected 303 seats of the 480 seats in the powerful lower house or Diet. This result far surpasses the 112 seat held by the Democratic party before the vote. Early reports indicate that voter turnout may top 70%, the highest in 2 decades. Yukio Hatoyama is leader of the Democratic Party and will soon be sworn in as Prime Minister.

So here we have it: for only the second time in 60 years, voters have turned away from the Liberal Democratic Party. The only other time was in 1993-94, and only for 10 short months.

Why this big change?

This is my theory. The people of Japan are faced with high unemployment, a huge national debt, and, most disturbing for Japanese society, media reports claim that one third of all workers are in low-paid, vulnerable jobs. Obviously, in my view, such a situation will not be tolerated by a society that prizes civic order and hard work.

Is there anything that our Ontario or Canadian governments can learn from this big change? I think there is. While we in Canada are more free-wheeling than the Japanese (and by this I don't mean the Japanese don't have fun--they do, and they do it well), we would still like to be able to plan a future.

Here in Canada the unemployment rate is hovering around 8.5%; in Ontario the number is closer to 9.3%. In Windsor the unemployment rate is 15.2%. Compare this to Japan, where the unemployment rate is 5.6%--very, very high by their standards.

Japan's debt is the size of Mount Fuji! It is closing in on 10 trillion US dollars. We, of course, are a long way from this fiasco. However, the Ontario debt is growing fast: a projected 14 Billion will be added to our debt this year alone. The Canadian national debt is also rising quickly and is somewhere near 500 Billion. Yes, this is a long way from Japan, but may I suggest that our level of debt is making Canadians uncomfortable. And sooner or later, we the taxpayers will have to pay this down.

I was unable to find statistics for Canada on vulnerable, low-paying jobs. But my instinct tells me the number could be very big. Take a test; just talk to your friends and neighbours.  Ask them what their children are doing.

In Ontario and Canada, those who enjoy political power and wish to keep it, and those who don't have political power but want it, will have to have a salable plan in answer to these 3 very sensitive issues: current unemployment, massive debt, and vulnerable underemployment. Let's start the political debate now.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Remembering Ted Kennedy

"The Lion of Liberal Politics in America"
Edward M. Kennedy, 1932-2009

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Harmonized Sale Tax

The new Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) is going forward, set to start July 1, 2010 according to Premier Dalton McGuinty. The 13% tax will without a doubt take money out of the pockets of consumers. How much, and on what items is what we would all like to know.

I have written numerous stories about the HST and have asked some fairly simple and straight forward questions. I have implored our local daily paper, the Windsor Star to do a real in-depth analysis of this tax. For starters the Star should publish a complete list of products that will cost more because of this new tax. The Federal and Provincial governments may have studies on how this tax could impact the job market. If so lets see them. The other big question for me is whether this tax will impact the cost of health care and education. If so how?

Why can't we get the answers to these questions? Windsor Star Chief Honcho Jim Venney and assistant chief honcho Marty Beneteau have all the resources they need to write endless stories about the Ambassador Bridge. They can devote huge resources and space to tell us about the pay and perks of the new General Motors Board of Directors. But for some reason they just can't seem to assign supersnoopers Dave Battegello and Grace Macaluso to give us the real goods on the implications, good or bad, about the biggest tax change since the introduction of the GST.

And finally those proposing the tax should be given the chance to tell us why its good for us.

In today's online edition of the Toronto Star we read the following:

McGuinty battles grumbling on HST
Full steam ahead for 13% blended tax, premier says

Aug 27, 2009
Rob Ferguson
Robert Benzie
Queen's Park Bureau

The 13 per cent harmonized sales tax is set in stone, Premier Dalton McGuinty has warned Liberal MPPs in a special caucus meeting on the controversial new levy.

For the full story click here.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

This is How You Play Hardball Politcs

As my readers will know, for 11 years, I worked for the companies that own, manage and operate the Ambassador Bridge. I am very proud of my time there and helped the companies and their bottom line a great deal. In the fall of 2004, I retired but launched a new career from scratch, not many people would have left such a secure well paying job to start all over again. But I wanted to do new things, you can catch up on my new activities by visiting my website.

For the record, I have maintained, always and to this very day, that the owners of the Ambassador Bridge face opposition to their plans for a variety of reasons. Sometimes these reasons are not honourable. The Windsor Star opposition being the most dishonourable.

The opponents to the Ambassador Bridge plans have without a doubt played hardball politics now they are getting some in return.

In yesterdays online edition on the Detroit Free Press, I found this article.

Detroit legislator faces recall efforts over 2nd Detroit-Canada bridge


A series of three recall petitions were filed Monday against state Rep. Rasihda Tlaib, D-Detroit, for her stance on a second bridge across the Detroit River.

Click here to read the entire article.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

General Motors Should Keep Opel

General Motors (G.M.) is now safely out of bankruptcy. All investors in G.M. have taken a "haircut" to trim its financial obligations. It has received billions in aide from both the U.S. and Canadian governments (including billions from the Ontario government). In fact, the United States government is now the largest shareholder. The company has new cost cutting contracts with both the United Auto Workers and the Canadian Auto Workers. So the G.M. of today is not the same company it was a mere six months ago.

I think it is very prudent for G.M. to take its time and even reconsider, as the company is doing, the sale of its European entity, Adam Opel GmbH. Opel is a substantial company with approximately 50,000 employees in Europe, 25,000 of them in Germany.

There are 2 serious bidders for Opel. One is the Belgium holding company RHJ International and the second is a joint bid by Magna International and Russian bank Sberbank. I am sure both would do a very good job. I favour the Magna bid because Magna is a large Canadian company. My  readers will remember that Fiat also made a play for Opel as the company was closing its deal on Chrysler. The Opel deal is very political, and politics played a big role in Fiat/Chrysler being ruled out.

Right now there is an election going on in Germany. So saving Opel and all these jobs is a big election issue. The German government led by Chancellor Angela Merkel is willing to provide 4.5 billion euros ($6.9 billion Canadian) in loan guarantees.

There are big German car companies doing well in North America, Mercedes and Volkswagen come to mind. Nothing wrong with this.  In the interest of Fair Play and if G.M. decides to keep Opel, the same funding should be offered by the German government to the new G.M. After all, the U.S. 3 billion "cash for clunkers" programme was offered to all car companies.

For the North American auto industry to survive long term it must have global reach and Opel provides part of this for G.M.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Mixed Messages?

Ok, let's see if I understand this right.

U.S. President Barack Obama is upset that the British Government released the convicted Lockerbie Bomber. This mass murder was horrific! On Wednesday, December 21, 1988, a Pan American World Airways jet travelling from London's Heathrow Airport to John F. Kennedy Airport in New York exploded over Lockerbie, in southern Scotland. Everyone on board, all 243 passengers and 16 crew members, perished. Innoncents, all of them, murdered. The carnage continued on the ground, killing 11 townspeople in Lockerbie, as large sections of the plane rained down on the community.

Pan Am flight 103 will not be forgotten.

In 2001, Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, a Libyan, was convicted of involvement in this brutal massacre and got life in jail. On August 20, 2009, the Scottish Government released the convicted killer and allowed him to return to Libiya. The release was based on compassionate grounds as Al Megrahi is suffering from terminal prostate cancer.

The bomber received a hero's welcome upon his return to Libya. Boy, what a message that was.

All of this has upset the Obama administration and rightfully so.

There is a problem with all of this indignation from Obama. He wants to close the Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp. The camp houses prisoners captured in Afghanistan since early 2002. The prisoners are classified as "enemy combatants". They wear no uniforms and mix in with the civilian population. As of January 2009, some 220 prisoners remained in the camp. Some of these prisoners are dangerous for sure, and if released will go back to the theatre of war and may even participate in the mass killing of innocents. We read about these bombings which take place in mosques, schools, and outdoor makets everyday. The word horrific does not adequately describe what is going on, and what some of these folks can do and have done.

I agree with Preident Obama: the Lockerbie Bomber should not have been released. But how does he justify the release of those at Guantánamo Bay?

Friday, August 21, 2009

Warren Buffett Speaks

Yesterday I informed you about the International Monetary Fund and their view that new tax hikes are coming because of all the recent government spending. Today as a follow-up I thought you should hear from one of the greatest investors of all time.

Take your time and enjoy the read.

The New York Times

Op-Ed Contributor
The Greenback Effect

Published: August 18, 2009

IN nature, every action has consequences, a phenomenon called the butterfly effect. These consequences, moreover, are not necessarily proportional. For example, doubling the carbon dioxide we belch into the atmosphere may far more than double the subsequent problems for society. Realizing this, the world properly worries about greenhouse emissions.

The butterfly effect reaches into the financial world as well. Here, the United States is spewing a potentially damaging substance into our economy — greenback emissions.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

New Tax Hikes on the way says International Monetary Fund

According the their website:

  • The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is an organization of 186 countries, working to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world.
What the IMF Does
  • The work of the IMF is of three main types. Surveillance involves the monitoring of economic and financial developments, and the provision of policy advice, aimed especially at crisis-prevention. The IMF also lends to countries with balance of payments difficulties, to provide temporary financing and to support policies aimed at correcting the underlying problems; loans to low-income countries are also aimed especially at poverty reduction. Third, the IMF provides countries with technical assistance and training in its areas of expertise. Supporting all three of these activities is IMF work in economic research and statistics.
  • In recent years, as part of its efforts to strengthen the international financial system, and to enhance its effectiveness at preventing and resolving crises, the IMF has applied both its surveillance and technical assistance work to the development of standards and codes of good practice in its areas of responsibility, and to the strengthening of financial sectors.
  • The IMF also plays an important role in the fight against money-laundering and terrorism
Below is the first 3 paragraphs of a story from the Toronto Star online edition of August 19/09.
OTTAWA–The International Monetary Fund says most countries will need to raise taxes to pay off the trillions of dollars they spent fighting the global recession.
IMF chief economist Olivier Blanchard says in an article to be published today that governments acted properly in ramping up spending to stop the worst slump since World War II.
Soon, he says, nearly all countries will have to raise taxes to pay the recovery bill.
Canada's Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has rejected the idea he will have to raise taxes to pay off about $47 billion in stimulus spending.


It will be interesting to know how Canada's Finance Minister Jim Flaherty intends to pay for the huge deficits he himself has forecast. If new taxes are out, what cutbacks are in?