Archive for September 2008

I have no idea what channel I’ll be watching Thursday when the debates come on.

The English-language debate between Canada’s political leaders? Or Sarah Palin and Joe Biden south of the border?

I’m more enticed by the prospect of a Palin-Biden debate. I want to see if Palin gets destroyed or merely looks silly. If she surprises and holds her own, that in itself would be a victory.

Back in Canada I have the feeling I can predict how our debate will go before it starts.

Harper won’t have a hair out of place, his back will be ramrod straight and he will present monotone lines to the camera.

Stephane Dion will be at his school-boy best, and on the defensive over his carbon tax. This debate is his only chance actually to get outside of the Conservative attack ads trying to define him for voters. Albertans will be surprised he does not have horns growing out of his head. Ninety-four per cent of Albertans watching will refer to him as Pierre Dion.

Jack Layton will be on the attack, he may even be in shirt-sleeves, and will crack the only joke during the entire thing. No one will laugh.

Gilles Duccepe will call everyone on everything, which is all he really has to do to win any votes in Quebec, the only place Bloc runs.

Elizabeth May will add the only sparkle. She will be as articulate as Layton, carry the show, knock Harper’s knees out from under him at least once, but will not, in spite of everything, push one hair out of place on his head. We will all realize then his hair is actually a helmet.

Harper will treat the Liberals and the Green leaders as one person and may address Dion as Miss May throughout.

The two million Canadians watching the debate at the start will be reduced, by half time, to a television audience the size of the population of Biggar, Saskatchewan. By the end of the debate Canadians will have decided to vote for either Elizabeth Dion or Jack Harper, while I may put my money on Sarah Biden.


Republican presidential candidate John McCain suspended his campaign to work on the bailout package before Congress, but didn’t even manage to convince a single Arizona member of Congress  from his own state to vote for it.

Arizona is represented in the U.S. federal legislature by eight members of the House of Representatives and two members of the United States Senate.

All eight Arizona members of Congress- four Republicans and four Democratsvoted against the bailout package, entitled the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act.  Passage of the bill would have allowed $700 billion in federal funds to help with an emergency credit crunch that has resulted in a number of major U.S. bank failures, and unprecedented nationalization of other key financial organizations.

Arizona senators John McCain and  Jon Kyl, the Senate Minority Whip, voted for the package

A new revised package package will be before the House of Representatives Thursday, after being initiated in the Senate. The revised bill may cause controversy among Democrats, as reports are it includes debt-subsidized tax cuts.

I wouldn’t do this, but after listening the other day to a radio announcer harp on a Liberal campaign television attack ad on the listeriosis deaths, and just now reading his piece, I’m prompted to write.

Now 19 people have reportedly lost their lives to the listeriosis outbreak caused by contaminated food, including cold cut meat, from a Maple Leaf Foods plant in Ontario. The plant has since been cleaned up. It reopened September 20.

The radio host- you’d recognize him if I gave the name, but why encourage dribble- made this rant: “Bacteria doesn’t kill people. Conservatives do.” attributing it to a Liberal Party position. Once he created his straw man, he then called the Liberal position “shameless”.

Giving the party that raises the concern about having safe food shameless? Give your head a shake.

Radio talk show hosts are latter-day carnival barkers. Agitate the crowd of suckers, tease them, prod them, prick their sensibilities- they’ll toss you a dollar and throw that ball to win the 10 cent doll or pick up the phone and give their opinion. Or in this case, I suppose, respond in writing.

If you work- I mean at a real job- you pack a lunch. Millions of lunch pails each day going to work and to school with cold cuts in between slices of bread. There isn’t a person in Canada right now who isn’t thinking about that when they pick up pack lunch items at the grocery store.

If the Conservatives, as the governing party, were planning to reduce government inspection of meat processing plants, as they were, that’s a legitimate issue. (Calgary Herald story link.)

For a primer on what listeriosis is and who is most at risk, here is an article from the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ). Once linked, download it as a PDF. You’ll need Acrobat Reader or a similar PDF reader. If you don’t have Acrobat Reader, click here and note the link “Get Adobe Reader.”

That journal of the Canadian Medical Assocation has also raised concerns about a government position taken in April, of having industry take more responsibility for inspecting its own meat. Link here for the article, titled, Shifting to food industry self-monitoring may be hazardous, but once linked, you’ll have to download it as a PDF.

Click here for another CMAJ article, Learning from Listeria: the autonomy of the Public Health Agency of Canada. Once linked, you also have to download it as a PDF.

My past posts on the issue: Pomerleau and the lunch meat election; The lunch meat election; and New Democrats understand the lunch meat election.

Thank you for reading Aardvark Cola

Prime Minister Steven Harper’s announcement that a re-elected Conservative government would ban export of oil sands bitumen to countries with lower emission standards is getting reaction not only from Alberta, but from a rural municipality where a number of proposed upgrader projects would be located.

Here is the September 26 Conservative Party news release. Note the points outlined. While the ban might include China- there was a serious plan to export diluted bitumen from Alberta by pipeline to Kitimat where it would be tankered to China- the ban may not include the United States. In fact, the points in the news release include the continued promotion of ” the development of northern pipelines to bring oil and gas to markets in Canada and throughout the world.”

A news item on the reaction to that announcement from Alberta expresses its resource jurisdictional concern, but also the concern of a negative impact to oil patch investment. The federal government has jurisdiction over pipeline to foreign markets.

Meanwhile, a much better reaction- citing a national concern of job and tax revenue loss- is from an Alberta mayor of a rural municipality, warning that the Harper government’s pledge doesn’t go far enough.

Sturgeon County Mayor Don Rigney – his rural municipality borders Edmonton to its north- says Canada could ship oil processing jobs and billions in potential tax revenue to the United States.

Rigney says if oil sands product is piped for processing in the United States instead of being processed here, it could ship $6 billion in potential tax revenue along with it, and oil processing jobs would also be shipped south.

See a previous post, Alberta not immune to downturn, on the changing plans of companies that had announced intentions of building upgraders in Sturgeon County.

Rigney is warning that changing plans of oil companies now balking at those upgrader projects due to increasing costs and the credit crunch will make it more economical to simply pipeline oil sands product south. The rural mayor has asked all Canadians to express that concern to their member of parliament.

Here’s that story from Marketwire, released this morning.

Upgraders take oil sands bitumen and upgrade it to synthetic crude oil. From there a refinery process cracks off finer products like gasoline. Upgraders do not take the synthetic crude to that level.

These are not small projects. As recently as two years ago upgrader projects proposed for the Industrial Heartland would have been equal to- in dollar terms- of the $27 billion in assessed value of all of Edmonton’s buildings and infrastructure. It would literally take thousands of tradespeople to build them, Once built, hundreds of well-paying technical jobs would result.

To close, here is an article from Theenergynews.com on Connacher Oil and Gas Limited -they have a Montana refinery that processes Canadian diluted bitumen- shows they have perked their ears up at the Conservative Party announcement. Note in the release the company’s indication of confidence that they will pass any Canadian emission standard test that would determine who we export to. Scroll down to find Connacher’s reaction- it’s in the middle of the article.

Thank you for reading Aardvark Cola

I just found this. I love it. An article on political attack ads by Judith Timson of the Globe and Mail. She suggests how would we fare under such ads? Delightful read.

The Globe and Mail reports U.S. consumer spending is down. Expect that to go down further as the credit crunch tightens. A report from the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune says consumers will be more frugal this Christmas.

The credit crunch hitting main street is not a phenomenon isolated to the United States. Here is a report from the U.K. on Christmas plans there following a “study of 3,000 consumers”.

Europe is also having its own bank trouble with two banking giants nationalized today, one in whole, one in part.

The London interbank offered rate, or Libor, remains up. The Libor could be called the Fear Factor. It is an indication of how eager banks are to lend to each other. Not very. What’s the Libor and what does it indicate? Click here.Now a link to a Financial Post story, on the concerns of tightening credit combined with reduced consumer spending. It’s headlined, Hunker down it’s only going to get uglier.

Maybe cooking blogs will be more popular. In Canada, restaurant sales are down- except in Alberta, it seems. Click here for that story.

As we said in an earelier post, it was a speech that dropped the stock market.

What the heck did Pelosi say exactly? Here is the video, followed by the Republican condemnation of the speech, and the reaction to that by House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank, a Democrat. First, Pelosi:

The Republican reaction:

And the Financial Services Committee chairman’s reaction to that:


  • None
  • wordbeeps: No, he doesn't deserve an apology. Who tweets during a funeral? If you do, expect feedback. I didn't say the mourners were faking it. I think they we
  • Holly Stick: Look you fuckwit, are you too stupid to realise that Ghomeshi was an actual friend of Layton's, when you tweeted to him that the mourners were faking
  • aardvarkcola: Thank you. I see the rest of your message now. i'm honoured to to have your words on my blog. That alone is a delight. Lawrence