When a major power does that to a neighbour in Europe, I think this is an act of enormous import. And I think, as you say, there is only so much we can do about that. The minimum we can do is simply say we don’t agree with it.
Frankly, it’s not very difficult for me to tell Mr. Putin to his face that I don’t agree with his actions.
I am not sure what else it is I would have said to him [in Brisbane].
What else am I supposed to say?
‘How about those Capitals? How about those Leafs?’ I mean, seriously.
Ross is the brainchild of a group of University of Toronto students given access to Watson, the artificially intelligent computer system developed by International Business Machines Corp. that made headlines with its victory on the TV quiz show Jeopardy! in 2011. Instead of feeding Watson a diet of general knowledge, they trained its powers on a body of Ontario corporate law decisions and statutes.
Under the amended offence it will be possible for a parent to be convicted of: smacking a child; not providing it with regular meals; leaving a crying baby alone on the petrol forecourt while visiting the station checkout; even ignoring teenage angst. Indeed, the wayward and emotionally fragile teenager, not to mention the teenager who dislikes his parents’ style of parenting, should have little difficulty making a case for his parents to be prosecuted. Defenders of the new law may guffaw at these examples, and claim that such prosecutions could never happen, but they are wrong.
The article goes onto site the example of a father who was charged for leaving his two year old daughter in the car for a few minutes. While headline cases like this provoke the usual complaints about literal nanny statism, the danger here isn't the absurdity of the laws but their lack of objectivity.
One of the vital safeguards of a free society is well written laws that prohibit activities that can be clearly defined and litigated. That Mr X murdered Mrs Y is an objective action that can be proven, or not proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Evidence in criminal cases can always be questions but at least we are the world of actions and things. Someone is dead, someone is the murdered and there is a chain of evidence that points one way or the other. The process is hardly infallible but by dealing with facts it allows a defendant somewhere to stand and fight.
A legal regime based on emotions, an individual's perception of hate or angst, is no legal regime at all. You cannot have a legal system worthy of the name where fleeting sensations are the substitute for objective actions. Even in cases where no actions are taken, as with death threats, the victim can argue that given the circumstances the threat was real and the fear was legitimate. It was night, the threat came from a stranger and the victim had no real means of defense. The perceptions of a reasonable person but perceptions within an empirically established context.
Laws that drop any context, that rest purely on personal emotions, allow to the accuser and prosecutor near total power. That's not a bug, that's a feature. The goal of these new laws is not to protect children from violent or abusive parents, it's to establish a legal regime where anything a parent might do or not do could be constituted as abuse. The parent is, in effect, now under the arbitrary jurisdiction of the state. The parent has no recourse to fact or logic. Given the ease with which children, including teenagers, can be manipulated by a skillful prosecutor or social worker the state is now, for practical purposes, the true guardian of the child.
The paternalistic instinct dies hard. The whole edifice of the welfare state is based on a paternalistic approach to managing social issues. Much of the health, housing and poverty issues that face the modern West could be more efficiently and humanely handled through direct financial assistance. Even if you accept the need for state involvement, which I don't, modern social policy would likely work far better with cash payments given after meeting a few clearly established criteria. There is, however, in this approach no bureaucratic middleman.
Without the bureaucratic middleman there are fewer jobs for the marginally employable, fewer dues payments to the public sector unions, and above all no one with the power to rule over other people's lives. Government is about force and power. That force can be directed to the peaceful or the violent. Since there are always more peaceful than violent individuals in any society there is a tendency for the state to go beyond its legitimate functions. The classical liberal state was once derided as the "night watchman" state. The planner, the prodder and bully has little purview in such a political arrangement. That's rather the point.
The simplest way to increase work for the power luster, hampered as he is by the still lingering notions of classical liberal government in the modern world, is to smash the law. Instead of a society with few criminals where his power would be correspondingly limited, have a society in which anyone at anytime might be a criminal. The power of the state official goes from limited to unlimited at the few strokes of a pen.
As Ayn Rand observed: Don't question an absurdity, ask only what it accomplishes.
Justin Trudeau is turning to leaders from companies that include Canada’s biggest bank and BlackBerry Ltd. (BBRY) to help convince Canadians his opposition Liberals can be trusted to run the economy ahead of next year’s elections.
I wonder if anyone in the Grit High Command thought this through. Did they not realize that even the laziest of headline writers was going to jump at the BlackBerry connection? That the Tories will, inevitably, use this as political fodder? Because it's a smart idea to connect a political lightweight with the most dramatic Canadian corporate flame-out since Nortel. I'm guessing Gerald Butts was on vacation this week.
Are you a bored journalist / pollster / pundit / gadfly? Is it nearly a year before the next election? Do you have a desperate need to fill copy and not quite enough time? Then here's a perfect non-story for you:
The parties will all insist that they are running to win and that planning for a coalition is a bad idea — but for a majority of Canadian voters, this may be emerging as the best solution. Coalitions may be terra incognita for Canadian federal politics but they are widely accepted in Europe and elsewhere. The diverse values and interests of an increasingly pluralistic citizenry aren’t fitting readily into the older party systems — and a coalition may well be the preferred destination for the public.
There's an old story of Ronald Reagan, when he was a broadcaster fresh out of college, reporting on football games using nothing more than a ticker tape feed and his vivid imagination. The above is journalism in that same creative spirit. Taking a series of not particularly relevant facts, most notably that a government long in power is never very popular between elections, and trying to paint a dramatic pictures of Stephen Harper triumphing yet again, or being forced to walk out of the servants entrance at 24 Sussex with nothing more than a cardboard box and a forlorn countenance.
Ten months before an election we have conjecture and nothing more. Pierre Trudeau was a political corpse 10 months before the 1980 election. Remember who won? The electorate has to be whipped, beaten and prodded to give a damn about politics even during the writ period. Had the pollster asked if Daffy Duck or Justin Trudeau should be the next Prime Minister, there's a fair chance the media would be talking about whether a cartoon with a speech impediment can lead Canada. Oh wait.
The question upon which this pundit's castle has been built is this:
If you were forced to choose between a Conservative minority government led by Stephen Harper and a coalition government made up of Liberals and New Democrats led by Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, which would you prefer?
I had thought for years that Quebec nationalists were the world class champions of posing obtuse and cynical political questions. Then again even Pequiste dead-enders have their limits. This isn't a push poll, it's a shove off the cliff and tell me where you land poll.
Let me put it another way:
If you were forced to choose between vanila ice cream that's slightly melted, or a new type of calorie free ice cream that has the great taste of chocolate flavoured orgasms, which would you prefer?
The amazing thing is that the poll still gives the Harper Tories 40% of the vote. So for those of you keeping track at home when forced to choose between a real alternative and the fever dreams of the Canadian Left, the Tories still win. This isn't a news story this is a sad desperate plea for Justin and Tom to get hitched.
This will never happen. Thomas Mulcair is a seasoned politician who leads the official opposition. The odds are between zero and nothing that he would ever consent to sharing political power, before an election is even held, with a neophyte playing guitar in the Gerald Butts Travelling Show. After years of slobbering media coverage the Once and Future Prime Minister is still being beaten in the polls by a dull bank manager with a terrible haircut. Wait just six months for when the Tory War Room gets fully fired up.
They turned Michael Ignatieff into a mound of excessively self-analyzed jelly. While Justin is more politically adept he is also far less substantive. The Liberal Party has to hope against hope they can spend the next ten months showing pictures of Justin's adorable family before people figure out that when it comes to Justin there is no there there.
Now some of the embittered cynics in the backrow will counter that Barack Obama, an empty suit's empty suit, was able to capture the Presidency twice. This is certainly true. Thing is that Barry of Chicago had two powerful trump cards: He is black (sort of) and wasn't Geroge W Bush.
Justin Trudeau is not from any identifiable victim group, unless WASP-Quebecois millionaires are now a victim group, nor is Stephen Harper widely despised. Many of the people who came to hate Dubya were people who once voted for him. The Tory base, both hard and soft, has stood by their incrementalist champion lo these many election cycles. This has not changed. As in 2011 The Badly Coiffed One just needs to swing 4-5% of the popular vote his way through a combination of bribery (i.e. tax credits) and making vaguely sinister remarks about Justin not being ready. Bribery works and the latter is, of course, perfectly true.
Back in 2008 we nearly had a Coalition between a traitor (Duceppe), a socialist (Layton) and a fool (Dion). After a few terrifying hours in which this might have come to pass, the public turned on the idea in much the same way, and for much the same reason, they turned on the Edsel and New Coke. A terrible idea is a terrible idea. A change in casting doesn't make the play any better.