Friday, April 21, 2006

Tory Crew Is Inexperienced

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has received a lot of flack from just about everyone, supposedly even Emerson, for keeping a tight lid on his team. I have to admit, I understand why - his Cabinet is young and his political staffers are even younger and hardly experienced enough for their jobs.

I take French lessons on a regular basis and yesterday, my French teacher had me read an insert by La Press on Stephen Harper - Un homme seul... et son équipe (sorry I can't find the link to the article). I was really blown away to see who make up Harper's "Brain Trust".

Dimitri Soudas is 26. He is Harper's Deputy Press Secretary. He is also a key advisor to Harper on Québec.

Ian Brodie, as educated as he is, he is still only 38 and has limited experience in politics. He is Harper's Chief of Staff.

Patrick Muttart is 33 and is the Deputy Chief of Staff.

Mark Cameron is 37 and Harper's Policy Advisor.

And these guys are supposed to guide his Cabinet? You'd think Harper would try a little harder, considering how inexperienced his guys and gals are...

Rona Ambrose is indeed very bright. As much as I hope to see her defect to the Liberals, she is still very young (actually, one of the younger MPs) and is handling the high profile Ministry of Environment. With no past experience working with the environment, she is now in charge of trying to protect it and it so desperately needs attention and like, now. First on the agenda: hack Kyoto. Off to a great start.

Gary Lunn. A lawyer. A former paramedic. A mining construction superintendent. A safety and training co-ordinator. Once worked for Crestbrook Forest Industries. Now: Minister of Natural Resources.

Peter Mackay is high profile, but how much steak does his sizzle have? Mackay worked as a lawyer for six years before entering politics. He states frustrations with the justice system, particularly victim's rights, as his major impetus for taking up federal politics. He's now our Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Carol Skelton: a former administrator, coordinator, farmer, rancher and recruitor. Now you can find her managing our multi billion dollar national income as the new Minister of National Revenue and Minister of Western Economic Diversification.

Josée Vernier worked for years as a public servant. Her bio on the Tory website says she worked in the Ministry of Health. Now she is the Minister for International Cooperation.

Monte Solberg - great! The white dude from the very metropolitan Medicine Hat, Alberta will be our Minister of Citizenship and Immigration.

And Haper's green team is not the only reason why Harper would be acting so anal. His other liabilities include:

David Emerson - I like Emerson and to be honest, I'm glad he defected. At least we know someone in Cabinet knows what they are doing! But as much as I like the guy, it doesn't change the fact that he's incredibly unpopular or that blogs and the media have been crucifying him.

Chuck Strahl - as one of Harper's biggest and most outspoken MPs, he vehemently opposed Emerson's defection.

Michael Fortier - the guy's unelected and he's handling the Ministry of Public Works and Government Services. Enough said.

Gordon O'Connor - recently came under fire because he was a registered lobbyist between 2001 and 2004 for, among other defence contractors, Airbus Military, one of several possible contenders for the proposed purchase of new search-and-rescue planes.

So with a team like this, I can see full well why Harper is cracking out the whip. Hell, if I was him, I'd have half of them walking around with duck tape over their mouths. It's just too bad that Canadians voted for Harper because of his promise to create a more open and accountable government.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Idle Hands Are The Devil's Tools

God. Politics has been so boring lately and I have a confession - I blogged today on childcare, not because I was really feeling it at the moment, but because there was nothing better to talk about (and that's not to say I didn't mean what I said; just wasn't into it at the time). This was likely very apparent.

But really, I had a horribly boring day which was just perfect given the horribly boring political climate. What I really wanted to post on were habits that I hate. I know it's completely unrelated to politics, but being downtown and around so many people while I was in a bad mood got me thinking... if I were Queen, what would I not allow into my kingdom? Here's what I came up with:

1. People who chew with their mouths open - it's not a show.
2. Kids who suck blue, purple, orange, etc coloured popsicles and get their teeth grossly discoloured.
3. Parents who give their kids those popsicles - kids are gross enough, really...
4. The jack-rabbit... ladies, you know what I'm talking about!
5. Anything related to hip hop - the language, the clothes, the attitude, ALL OF IT!
6. Randy Fucking Jackson.
7. People who don't properly clean their dishes, so crusted food remains on the backs of forks.
8. Cheap people or people who just want to "borrow" some money but "promise" to pay back. Keep the damn money!
9. Having the Purolater dude come into the office to give me a package, but tell me to hold on because he would like to finish his private conversation on our curteousy phone and then try to redeem himself by proving that he can turn Sir Wilfred Laurier on a five-dollar bill into Mr. Sprock from Star Treck. Bravo!
10. Gold-digging airheads with no intelligence and a whole lot of attitude. Usually found in Kits or along West Georgia during the day.

So there you have it... a very grumpy, yet horribly bored Pedro adding no apparent value to the larger blogging community. Without something interesting, these idle hands will become the devil's tools... or perhaps they are already on their way.

Oh and a bonus:

11. 14-year old girls with their gunts hanging out of their undersized lululemon sweat pants and a toy-sized dog in their plastic purses. How Paris Hilton. How 2004. How unoriginal.

Child Care: We Need Better

Yesterday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper was in Burnaby, BC to discuss the government's plan to include his promises of a $1 200 child-care payment (taxable) to parents for each child under six and funding businesses and community organizations to increase spaces. However these proposed solutions fall short of the vision for a truly pan-Canadian system of early learning and child care in which parents and child care providers work together for optimal outcomes for each and every child.

In Canada, we need child care spaces available and that are affordable. Right now, the Canadian Child Care Federation (CCCF) estimates that currently, 70% of mothers with children under six are in the workforce. All of these families require some form of child care. At the same time there are only enough regulated child care spaces for 15% of the children who need it.

Not good enough.

What is also not good enough is a scant $1 200 taxable payment to parents. Without affordable child care, visible minorities and the poor are unfairly neglected.

At the start of 2005, one million Canadian children, or nearly one in six, are still poor. Aboriginal people are disproportionately affected. Annual earnings of Canadian-born workers of colour averaged $21,983 in 2000 compared to $25,205 for immigrant workers of colour, and $30,141 for other persons born in Canada.

During the election campaign, Harper highlighted choices in child care as a key issue and I agree fully that parents and families need real choices to support their diverse needs – everything from full-time centre-based care, to flexible care in a family child care setting, to part-time preschool type programming that can be accessed by parents who stay home. But if we are going to achieve this, we need to start demanding better.

Useful Child Care Links:

Child Care Choices - BC Child Care Resource & Referral Network
Westcoast Child Care Resource Centre
BC Coalition of Women's Centres
BC Council for Families
The Human Early Learning Partnership (HELP)
Aboriginal Children's Circle of Early Learning (ACCEL)
Campaign 2000 - End child poverty in Canada
Canadian Child Care Federation
Canadian Pediatric Society
Canadian Policy Research Networks
Centre for Families, Work and Well-Being
Child and Family Canada
Child Care Advocacy Association of Canada
Child care in Sweden
The Daycare Trust (UK)
Early Childhood Education and Care in Finland
National Association of Community Based Children’s Services - NACBCS (Australia)
National Network for Child Care (US)
UNICEF Convention on the Rights of the Child