Understanding the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act

Another of the Acts that direct municipal governance is the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act. While considerably shorter than the previously-discussed Municipal Act – eight pages, 15 sections and less than 3,500 words – it is of perhaps equal importance. While it may seem vague to outsiders, it was written to clearly identify the nature of a conflict in black and white. The Act allows no grey … (more–>)

Propaganda, PR and Spin

What is propaganda? The word gets thrown around easily by people who obviously mean “anything we dislike or don’t agree with.” It’s a pejorative often used by a small group to describe anything official that any level of government puts out, no matter how benign or factual. Libertarians, for example, often grouse that government information about, say the efficacy of flu shots or the safety of … (more–>)

Musings on representational democracy

Representational democracy, says Wikipedia, is “…founded on the principle of elected people representing a group of people, as opposed to direct democracy. All modern Western style democracies are various types of representative democracies…” And so is Canada, and by extension so is the Town of Collingwood; small cog it may be in the great machinery of democratic government. We elect people to represent us, to make … (more–>)

The Art of Worldly Wisdom

Published in 1647, The Art of Worldly Wisdom is a collection of 300 aphorisms about life, behaviour, politics, morality, faith, philosophy and society. One comment, on Amazon.ca called it, somewhat unfairly to Machiavelli, “Machiavelli with a soul.” I have been reading it of late as part of my ongoing study of Machiavelli. It was written by Balthasar Gracian (1601-1658), a Spanish-born Jesuit priest, and titled in … (more–>)

Is Tar Baby the new N-Word?

As far back as I can recall, the term “tar baby” was a metaphor in common political parlance for a “sticky situation.” It has no racial meaning in that context, any more than saying “honey trap” or “sticky wicket.” Both have similar, but not synonymous meanings. But in the last decade, “tar-baby” has become the new N-word on the political stage.* The tar-baby theme is common … (more–>)

The Hidden Costs of Gambling

Let’s start 2013 with a sober consideration of the social and economic costs of gambling. Back n 2006, the Canadian Medical Association noted that, “Provincial governments may be glossing over the societal and health costs of problem gambling, including depression and suicide, because of the significant income they gain from gambling, claim several public advocacy and mental health organizations.” Glossing over is a polite way of saying … (more–>)

Gambling and the local economy part 2

Seventy three dollars. It’s not a large amount if you’re middle class, certainly not if you’re Conrad Black. But for others it can be significant. If you’re on minimum wage, it’s a full day’s wage, before taxes. If you’re a senior on a fixed income, it’s a week’s groceries. It’s also the average amount a typical gambler spends at one time in a gaming facility in Ontario, according to the … (more–>)

Tax the Rich – a video

[youtube=www.youtube.com/watch?v=S6ZsXrzF8Cc] You really should watch this video. It explains in clear, simple terms the argument of the billionaires and the rest of us. I like it because – while it’s simplistic – it is succinct and presents its argument in a powerful story. It also clearly underscores the very polarized US arguments about both taxation and wealth. This was commented on the Daily Kos as well. … (more–>)

Mayors Under Siege: Why Laws Must Change

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is planning to appeal the recent judicial decision that ousted him from office for failing to obey one of the basic rules of municipal governance. In fact, during the hearing, he admitted never having read the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act, one of the key pieces of legislation that govern municipal politicians, even once during his decade on council. Superior Court Justice Charles … (more–>)

Pondering the US election from a Canadian perspective

Canadians often find US politics mystifying, no more so than during presidential elections. It’s not just their byzantine electoral college system (which truly baffles us – even when explained concisely as in the video below). It’s not just the differences between America’s republican governance system and our parliamentary system (although they do contribute mightily to the confusion since they are so dissimilar). These are process issues … (more–>)

Gambling: money and statistics

No, I’m not going to write about the morality of gambling.* I’ll save that for another post. This is about money. And numbers. I attended the OLG four-community presentation in Wasaga Beach, Tuesday, and it got me thinking about what gambling means to the economy, what it means to the government, what effect it might have on things like growth and recession. It also made me wonder how … (more–>)

The Erosion of Civil Debate

I’ve been dismayed by the tone of the recent debate over the town’s proposed and new recreational facilities. Not by the debate itself – I love the engagement and interaction, even arguing because it’s intellectually stimulating – but rather by what has become an increasingly strident, angry, confrontational and personal tone in many of the comments council has received, or which have been directed towards council. … (more–>)

Back to Top