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Cost of Living in the Far North

I read this article, and I was shocked to learn just how expensive food is in Nunavut. About three times the cost of what I’d expect to pay in Toronto.

I had a thought of ‘what can they expect,’ as everything has to be flown in since very little can be grown there. Some places have subsidies and/or higher wages to balance these expenses, but in a way (devil’s advocate) why should I make heaps more money working at a Tim Horton’s in Iqaluit than at one in Winnipeg? Clearly I need to learn more about economic theory. And it feels ironic writing this from Australia where food (and everything) is far more expensive than Canada, and wages are similarly high ($15.51/hr for adults [ref]) but as I understand it, their mining-led economy is booming so the money is flowing.

A Redditor replied to the link, opening a discussion worth reading in his/her first paragraph about the rights of Native Canadians. I don’t want to presume enough to offer an opinion here.

Back to the original purpose of the post, I wonder what should be done: Reduce food prices, raise wages, lower taxes or otherwise subsidize, or try to grow food in the region. That last one is at least worth considering, because remote greenhouses would tackle the problem at its source, and could be economically feasible. (Maybe?)
And I’ve heard before the concept of an urban greenhouse, to reduce the distance from field to market to plate in a world that cares (or should care) about carbon footprints.


Canada must learn to protest

Dear Canada, I challenge you.

The Conservative election fraud scandal is the topic du jour, and people are starting to make themselves heard.  31,000 complaints to Elections Canada.  Oh, and in Vancouver, literally hundreds of people took to the streets last weekend.

Ho hum.

This pales in comparison to the numbers of people who protested, say, the G20Occupy Toronto was a piddling two or three thousand.

So by Canadian standards, this election fraud protest isn’t a big one.

But Canadian standards, honestly, are pathetic.  I don’t know if we’re lazy, uninformed, uneducated, apathetic, unsympathetic, or what, but if you want to make the government listen, you’re going to need more than a few hundred people.

Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions had protests of hundreds of thousands of people demanding new governments.  Rome’s Iraq war protest drew 3 million people.  Canada, to its credit, actually had people show up for some of its own, but in comparison, Chile had protests just as large just to reform their education system.  Not for people being killed, or fear for safety, or unjust government (though that is not unrelated), but just so middle- and lower-class people get fair access to education.

So rise up, Canada, show that election integrity needs to be protected, and that we won’t settle for anything less than the democratic best.  The Conservative government has done a few protest-worthy acts since it was granted a majority; we have to actually let them know that we won’t stand for it.

This goes for other issues as well.  Canadians need to show they care*, and in large enough numbers to make a difference. 300 is nothing.  Thirty thousand is something.

*Care was the first word that came to mind, and shows me that either my English is poor, or that it was the Canadian in me using a friendly- and nurturing-sounding word.  “Care about it” should be replaced with “Bloody well fucking demand it, because we wouldn’t want to live in a Canada without it”

That’s more like it.

When will Canada grow up?

I’m curious about when Canada will cease to be a constitutional monarchy and become (I think) a republic?  It’s definitely some degree of ignorance on my part, but I don’t know what benefit we have from having the Queen as the head of state.  I’m guessing it’s just tradition.  But we’ve branched away from the UK, and it’s probably time to be fully independent.

I look forward to when we get to decide who will take the Queen’s place on all the coins, and the $20 bill.  The $20 would probably be another prime minister, but so many of the recent ones have been divisive (primarily east vs. west) so it might be hard to choose one.  Maybe Pearson for the peacekeeping, new flag, etc.?

For non-PMs, there are probably a lot of good choices for many different reasons:  de Champlain, Banting, Secord, Fox, Thomson, Gretzky, Bondar, Bell, and Tecumseh are a few that come to mind.  I would love for some famous Canadians to take the Queen’s place on our currency.

When might this happen?  I don’t think we’ll have our act together for when QE2 passes on.  If it happens by the bicentennial, well, better late than never.

CRTC follow-up

The CBC reported that the CRTC bill that would have allowed false and misleading news has been quashed.  Thankfully, news agencies are held to a higher standard than individuals, at the expense of free speech.
Programs that present sensationalized versions of events shouldn’t be called news.  The Daily Show and The Colbert Report are such examples.  They don’t claim to be news, which distinguishes them from Fox News and similar programming.

The difference can be illustrated with an old quotation (as I remember it).  Jon Stewart was talking with a couple of CNN newscasters, whom he criticized.  They fired back about some of the material he presents.  His retort: “You guys are on CNN.  I’m on Comedy Central.  The show that leads into mine is puppets making crank phone calls [Crank Yankers].”

Link: CBC

Suspect Timing: A CRTC Post

I have a suspicion that the CRTC’s timing on certain issues is following at least one political agenda…

One issue, the one that has received significant media attention, is about usage-based billing*.  Bell essentially wanted to take cell phone pricing and penalties and apply it to their DSL services.  What a nasty, underhanded way of treating your customers.  A new company comes along and offers a good deal that threatens your customer base, and rather than offering competitive prices or services, Bell decides that it’ll make up for lost revenue by increasing their prices.  Oh, and they want to penalize the start-up company.
The CRTC’s role in this was to propose to allow this new pricing scheme in law.

Thankfully, our docile little nation voiced enough outrage over this issue to get the government to notice us.  They told the CRTC, in no uncertain terms, to go to hell**.

Great, and the day is saved!  Oh, but there was another CRTC issue…
Yeah, the one about legalizing deliberately misleading news.
The law currently states that it’s illegal to broadcast/publish “any false or misleading news.”
The proposed change (slated to take effect September 2011) is that it would be illegal to broadcast/publish “any news that the licensee knows is false or misleading and that endangers or is likely to endanger the lives, health or safety of the public.”

So if someone wanted to contest a certain news piece in court, the onus would be on the prosecution to prove that the “news” endangers or is likely to endanger lives, health, or safety.  If that was not proven, there would be no case.  This would make it excruciatingly difficult to contest any news article, even if it was obviously false or misleading.
Such is the hope of Sun TV, which is launching its news network, nicknamed “Fox News North”, after the demonstratedly biased and misleading news network.

Unfortunately, the uproar over usage-based billing was so great, that everyone forgot about the “fair and balanced” news law.  From what I can tell, the UBB announcement came in October 2010, and the news law in January 2011, when most of the objection to UBB flared up.

Who wins here?  The right-wing media, when they take advantage of the ruling that seems tailored to their purposes.  Consequently, the political conservatives, whose ideologies would be promoted in the media.  Also note that the government tried a little to look like the “heroes” for saving the public from UBB, so that’s another reason to suspect the timing – there will likely be an election within a year, and possibly soon.

I’m scared for this country.

* Two parts: a) if an Internet user exceeds their ‘cap’ – say, 25GB/month – they pay huge penalties;  b) Internet companies that use Bell’s DSL lines (such as those which offer unlimited service) must also pay for extra usage
** Tony Clement said, “Reverse this decision or we’ll flex government muscle to do it anyway”

Link: petition to reverse the Misleading News ruling

Link: wikipedia article detailing the controversies surrounding Sun TV news

For fun:
Bizarro cartoon

A Shoutout to Macdonald

A shoutout to Sirs John A. Macdonald, Charles Tupper, George-Etienne Cartier, Samuel L. Tilley, and many others, for bringing our fine nation into being on July 1st, during the best weather of the year. Canada Day would not nearly be so fun to celebrate in January.

Happy birthday, Canada!

Changing the Anthem

It seems that some woman complained to senior government about a line in “O Canada” for being sexist. The line is “in all thy sons command”. I can understand where she’s coming from, and it does help that they would actually be changing it to an older version, where they had some similar, gender-neutral line. Anyway, this got front-page attention in the newspaper, which I can again understand, but with a couple comments:

First, if they’re going to change the anthem, can they also change the line “God keep our land glorious and free”? Like many people in this day and age, I don’t believe in God, so this seems like a waste of breath to me. It could be “Let’s keep our land glorious and free”, even though I know Harper’s not pulling his weight on the environment or human empowerment fronts. How unpatriotic of him.

And speaking of Mr. Smug, don’t forget it was his government that decided to go to the media with this story, at the precise time that Parliament is finally getting back to work in Ottawa, having to address* all sorts of other real issues**, like the Afghanistan-torture problem that inspired Harper to prorogue in the first place. How very convenient.

* He won’t.
** I really hope the opposition parties remember them all.


On the subway today, the TTC made an announcement saying that Canada had won Women’s Hockey gold. It was a great moment, and a great gesture by the TTC.

Go Canada!

Super Bowl Commercials in Canada

In Canada, we don’t get to see many, if any, Super Bowl commercials. They override them with normal, boring commercials that we see all the time already. It’s a real disappointment to miss out on what’s considered, for good reason, a big part of the show.

Today: a new hypothesis. Is the overriding of the commercials required to satisfy CanCon? (Canadian content laws)


EDIT: Apparently, it’s not.  The American companies only pay to have ads aired in the States, and the Canadian network that sim-subs the feed gets to sell their own commercial space to pay for the sim-sub, just like every other American show they air.  Thanks, friends!