Elephant In The Room – Interest Rate Variable

In all this hype from the media regarding Bank of Canada interest rate decisions, and with the charade performed in front of cameras by sharp dressed smooth talking regulators…..the fact is that a 0.25 “basis” point move is not going to make one iota of difference when chartered banks have been widening the differential between retail unsecured rates and the overnight rate unchecked. Alberta has an “ombudsman” to deal with parties feeling aggrieved by services administered by the province.

From the standpoint of making complaints against the banking system, you would turn to “The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions”. This agency claims to be “independent” and in the context of interest rate policy whereby any party feels aggrieved, this agency will turn to “usury law” in deliberating the matter of any perceived injustice in interest rate administration. Chartered banks still have lots of leeway available to them in the context of widening retail secured and unsecured rates. 

I’m afraid our media is asking the wrong question when facilitating a discussion of the huge headline made yesterday over at the Business News Network, “Canadians Drowning In Debt As 47% Struggle To Cover Costs: MNP”.

Kootenays Takes Economic Hit

Look out Fernie / Sparwood / Blairmore…you’re next. Kootenays take economic hit. Teck laying off 500….and it’s yet to be reported exactly where the blue chip miner is going to apply its cuts. Their steel producing coal isn’t quite as appealing to the markets. Could it be time to start promoting golf courses and casinos with the forestry industry also in the doldrums? The sleepy towns of Cranbrook and Kimberley get by (barely) with the closing of Cominco years ago. This corner of B.C. is still holding on to some semblance of conservative values in the face of a rising industrial backlash but it could all be about tourism once the next movie star catches a glimpse of the Teck open pits fuelling rhetoric for light weight politicians.

Forty KM/HR Residential Speed Limit Committee

Last night while driving home from work, the main drag was congested so I took a residential route. Naturally, I slowed down to 30km per hour while driving through a playground zone. As is often the case, there was a pick-up truck right on my back bumper. I pulled over and let him pass. Tailgating is an epidemic and law enforcement isn’t interested in pursuing this infraction with tickets. Drivers will have a propensity for checking their rear view mirror to see how much closer the ahole is going to get when they should be keeping an eye out for for children.

Now, imagine driving through this zone at a crawl and then confronted with a new reduced 40km per hour limit after the playground zone instead of 50. People will be perturbed while now thinking about what they’re going to make for dinner or thoughts of being late to pick up the kids. Their focus will not be on driving as it would be at a reasonable speed of 50km per hour for the conditions.

One thing is for sure – if the residential speed limit is reduced to 40km / hr then a municipality will have more revenues from speeding tickets generated through camera catches that it would at a speed of 50 km /hr.

We would hope that child safety is the motivator for considering such a change but I’m suspect. The current residential speed limit has served Canadians well for decades. Current infractions on the books such as “failure to stop”, “crosswalk incursions”, “failure to stop in advance of a stop line”, “failure to signal” do not get enforced. , “Failure to turn into nearest lane”, “unsafe lane changes”, and “failure to give distance” don’t apparently get taught in driver’s school or are simply disregarded due to drivers understanding that sanctions against such poor driving habits will not be applied.

You have bloated bureaucracies in Canada looking for places to turn their attention when what they need to do is execute their current agenda with precision.

Lastly, you will have mothers who believe this is a good proposal. I suggest that strong parenting along with common sense supervision has worked for decades when it comes to children and traffic law.     

Election Night Take Aways

Canadians condone their national leader in obstructing justice by casting votes in his direction.  

Party leaders oblivious to work schedules (bed times) of Canadians by delaying speeches in spite of certainty of outcome and botching their coordination as possible foreshadowing of a dysfunctional minority government.

Failure of pundits to articulate platform of the big winner of the night – Bloc Quebecois, and table thoughts on the degree of their separatist intentions.

Jagmeet Singh obviously still self aggrandizing in his new found stature by speaking at nauseous lengths thanking everyone but his dog as folks sought some semblance of a coherent thought in line with his seat reduction.

 A broken country. You have Quebecers who want all the benefits of being in Canada yet vote like traitors to the nation. You have elite Ontarians daft in thinking we can pay our bills through a service driven economy while deficits and the debt accelerate. You have Maritimers fearful of losing their pogey. You have British Columbians split through a rural / urban dichotomy. You have the prairies tired of paying the bills watching politicians trumpet rhetoric with gold plated pensions. 

You have a pretty elaborate CBC set hosting like sixteen pundits paid by your tax dollars…all to tell you what you already know. One such pundit seemed compelled by the occasion to tell a losing MP that she loves her. Mayor of Calgary, Naheed Nenshi , shows up and actually made sense.

A vain Prime Minister with an embarrassing aloof speech attempting to sound statesman like in his boyhood manner. 

A sense that Andrew Scheer may lack the fire in his belly necessary to energize positive change.

Brian Burke Calls Out NHL’s Entertainment Value

I believe last night was the first time in about five years in which I watched two consecutive periods of NHL hockey. Once again I was reminded why I turned off my cable TV those five years ago.  It was the Flames versus Kings and HNIC was all over some personal rivalry between two players baiting viewers whether they would fight or not. Then there was the tight checking play with little actual execution of passing and play making. Factor in puck scrambles, scrums, slashing, and goalie screening – it all became very boring to watch. To my surprise, hockey ambassador Brian Burke came on between periods and raved about why a shot clock in overtime is now necessary due to players ragging the puck in a defensive fashion just to solidify the tie.  My fellow Calgarians….as a sportsman with an original educational foundation in coaching and athletic training, I suggest you should not be subsidizing this theatre with your tax dollars. Big shout out to Celine at Murdoch’s for her conversational prowess in taking the boredom from this broadcast.     

Depending On The State

You either believe in you or you believe in the state caring for your needs. You believe in contributing to your own good health or waste your health and expect your government to pick up the tab for your maladies. You believe you can support your children’s growth or you believe that it’s the state’s responsibility. You believe in a free market with responsible regulation or you believe that your government should dictate how and from whom you should purchase goods and services. You expect that your country should pay its bills or you believe that that perpetual increases in debt and deficits have no consequences. You believe that natural resources should be harvested responsibly or you believe that a service oriented economy will in and of itself will be sufficient to provide for the quality of life that you expect. You believe that leaders should be held responsible for corrupt behavior, or not. You believe that the welfare of your neighbor’s children is their responsibility or you believe that your income taxes paid should subsidize them. You believe in lower taxes with governments strictly burdened with administering services specific to the public good such as roads, the rule of law, public education, disease prevention, and reasonable regulation as opposed to higher taxes attributing resources toward the financing of special interest groups such as artists, industry, or hockey players. You condone wasteful government spending or you do not.        

Mike MacKenzie Band Covers Led Zeppelin

My best ten bucks ever spent was last night for a ticket to a cover of Led Zeppelin II at the Deerfoot Inn and Casino. The Mike Mackenzie Band paid tribute with select pieces recorded 50 years ago in addition to this album which most likely launched Zeppelin into super stardom. The huge take away from the evening was the affirmation that there are superb musicians amongst us today that are undiscovered and perhaps even under appreciated. MacKenzie’s vocals are stellar.  He played lead while absolutely matching the high pitch of Robert Plant.  The acoustics of the venue were good in spite of encountering subtle feedback from keyboards. Mackenzie turned to an old faithful he’s performed with past projects, The Rover from Physical Graffiti. Other standouts included Ramble On and Killing Floor. Killing Floor was one of those 1969 releases which showcased the talent of John Paul Jones on bass. The bass player last night can easily be excused for any misses given the complexity. What Mackenzie may be missing in soloing prowess, he makes up for with versatility and chord voicings. 

A standout in the set’s second half was “No Quarter”. I just love the keyboard intro and the subtlety of this song. It takes good unrushed time in order to pull this one off and apparently the keys player is new to this Mackenzie ensemble.

Notable omissions were “Kashmir”, “Dazed and Confused”, and “Since I’ve Been Loving You”.

The merchandise sales lady referenced a formal jazz education by Mackenzie right here at Mount Royal College here in Calgary.  The man has stage presence and puts the audience at ease with his charisma.  With Bonham’s death, Page and Plant espoused that nobody could take the place of the legendary drummer. Well, the rhythm section last night was great support and in fact such confidence was bestowed the drummer that he performed his own solo. The rhythm guitarist pitched in admirably with adept acoustic pieces.            

Twenty Election Ideas – None including Giving Our Money Away

  1. Eliminate public funding to First Nations reserves.
  2. Prosecute corrupt political activity
  3. Ensure all Canadians are treated equally. Taxed equally. Served by justice system equally.
  4. Evaluation of federal transfers to municipalities deemed irresponsible in their spending.
  5. Suspension of defined benefit pension program for public servants
  6. Increased law enforcement measures for online cyber crime and telephone extortion
  7. Increased fines for distracted driving and tinted front seat windows
  8. Expedited processing of natural resource development initiatives with potential amendment to Constitution in context of interprovincial trade related barriers.
  9. Improved civil curriculum for those acquiring citizenship with restored approach to “multiculturalism and pluralism”
  10. Regulated service minimums for taxpayers requiring CRA access.
  11. Reduced taxes for first income tax bracket to start.
  12. Beefed up protections for whistleblowers who address corruption and public spending leaks
  13. Common sense reduction of tax complexity
  14.  Modest user fees for doctor visits
  15. Actual enforcement of criminal sentences with new facilities if required
  16. Home schooling support for parents inclined. Testing and curriculum.
  17. Year over year deficit reductions with goal of tackling the debt.
  18. Elimination of “Canada Child Benefit” and restoration of “child non-refundable tax credits”.
  19. Evaluation of administrative pay to public health care professionals and efficiency of public health care system.
  20. Cross the board budget reductions.