Bob Broughton's Blog about British Columbia politics

The Conservative "Tax Trick"

I heard one of the Conservative attack ads on the radio for the first time yesterday. The radio ads are part of a highly orchestrated campaign, including a "Dion Tax Trick" web site.

How much of a tax are we talking about here? I had to look elsewhere to learn that Federal Liberal leader Stéphane Dion proposes a tax that would initially be $10 per ton, and grow to $40 per ton over four years. How much will this cost us? Actually, not much. The tax would bring in about $15 billion, which is about $500 per capita. This would be offset, however, by an equivalent cut in income and business taxes and a boost in tax breaks for poor, elderly, northern and rural Canadians who would be hit by the increased cost of necessities such as home heating fuel, electricity, food and travel.

Now, let's have a look at the cost to consumers of Conservative government. When they took office in February, 2006, the average cost of a litre of gasoline 93.9 cents. It is now $1.469. This is an increase of 56%. Canadians purchase about 40 billion litres of gasoline per year, so the additional 53 cents per litre will cost Canadian consumers $21 billion this year.

So, the real "trick" here is being performed by the Conservatives and the petrochemical industry, who are banking on the reality that the public has a very short memory. The fact is, the petrochemical industry hates Dion, and they hate the idea of getting any reduction whatsoever in their record profits.

Here's another trick that Prime Minister Harper could try: he could invite his petrochemical industry friends over for martinis, and ask them to please reduce their prices, in order to reduce the likelihood that Harper and his government will be turfed out when the next election comes around. He could also plead our case with George W. Bush, who has even better oil industry connections (including the Saudi royal family) than the Conservatives do.


Overcrowding at Royal Columbian Hospital

I lost track a long time ago of the number of letters I've had published in the Royal City Record, but here's the latest one, published on June 7:

I learned from reading The Record of a proposal to use portables to relieve congestion in the Royal Columbian Hospital emergency room.

One problem associated with this is where, exactly, to put the portables. Here's an idea; the site where Saint Mary's Hospital was located is still an empty lot. They could put the portables there.

Robert Broughton
New Westminster

Environment Canada says running South Fraser Perimeter Road through Burns Bog is a bad idea

A film by Damien Gillis about the environmental destruction that would be caused by running a truck highway through Burns Bog in Delta. Includes footage of Opposition Leader Stephane Dion and just-elected Liberal MP Joyce Murray touring Burns Bog. The film also addresses an alternative route for the South Fraser Perimeter Road that would be far less envo=ironmentally destructive.

Help stop a very bad idea for the Upper Pitt River

This is not a dam
Run of River Inc.'s vision for the Upper Pitt
I went to an event on February 28 at the Ramada Inn in Pitt Meadows, but I'm not entirely sure what it was. I can tell you with certainty that the room was rented by Run of River Power Inc., a company based in Delta, BC. At the entrance, there were some friendly ladies taking the names and addresses of the attendees. Inside the room were maps and pictures about seven “run of river” or “independent power” projects that Run of River Power wants to implement in the Upper Pitt River watershed, north of Pitt Lake.

It was obvious to any of the 200 or so people who showed up that the purpose of this event was to sell the attendees on the benefits of these seven projects, which would put dams on most of the tributaries of the Upper Pitt River. The attendees included employees of two agencies of the Government of British Columbia, Parks BC and the Environmental Assessment Office. Their stated purpose for being there was to collect input from the public on what Run of River Power proposes to do.

To give you just one example of the input they received: “We want you to go away.” - Elaine Golds, Burke Mountain Naturalists

More silliness from the National Post

This time, it's from George Jonas instead of Terence Corcoran. Here's my response:

Editor, National Post;

With the publication of If you won't shoot, don't Taser by George Jonas (Nov. 24), the public discussion of the relationship of tobacco with death and disease has gone full circle.

People in Denial about this relationship have put considerable energy in identifying alternative causes for the many illnesses caused by tobacco; chlorine in swimming pools, x-rays, increased radiation in the environment, even “bad karma”. To relate just one of many cases I am familiar with, Californian Mary Herrin chose to identify her doctor as the cause of her two heart attacks, instead of her cigarette habit; Ms. Herrin died at the age of 58.

What Mr. Jonas has now given us, based on what he calls his own “mini-inquiry”, is that the death of Robert Dziekanski at the Vancouver airport was caused by Dziekanski's cigarette habit, not by over-eager use of tasers by the police. Jonas, however, was not willing to blame Dziekanski for his own addiction to cigarettes. Nor was he willing to blame the manufacturers of the cigarettes Dziekanski consumed, even though those manufacturers lied to the public for many years about the adverse effects of their products, including the addictive nature of them.

Instead, Jonas chose to blame “Big Nanny”.

This is silly nonsense. No “nanny”, big or small, deprived Dziekanski of the ability to communicate in either of Canada's official languages. No nanny separated him from the relatives he was supposed to meet at the airport. No nanny caused him to “create a disturbance”, attracting the attention of the police. No nanny caused the police to over-react.

George Jonas may well be looking for a big nanny to change his diapers for him. Good luck with finding a volunteer.

Robert Broughton

How to stop financing Al Qaeda

I had been planning for several days to put up something about the latest act of barbarism from Saudi Arabia, the sentencing of an anonymous woman known as the "Qatif Girl" to 200 lashes and six months in prison for being a rape victim. Much to my surprise, The Province beat me to it; they ran this column by Dan Gardner: A carbon tax is necessary to stop oil from bolstering a barbarous regime.

Here's another story from a favourite site of mine, Crooks and Liars: Saudi Arabia’s atrocity.
A Kitsilano-based grassroots organization: Voters Taking Action on Climate Change

As Steven Colbert likes to say, only 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers were Saudi citizens. Why is the Bush Administration fighting terrorism in Iraq and Iran instead of Saudi Arabia? The Bush family's long-term friendship with the Saudi royal family has somthing to do with it, but Gardner came close to telling us that we help fund Al Qaeda every time we buy a tank of gas. More on this later, but the fact that a right-wing newspaper like The Province is catching on is definitely noteworthy.

The Caligula of the 21st century

I was inspired to write this by The Creepy Similarities Between George W. Bush and Vlad the Impaler, by Marc McDonald. This piece of writing made some interesting points, but there's a fundamental problem with this comparison: although Vlad the Impaler had many serious faults as a human being, nobody ever accused him of being a coward.

It says elsewhere in this blog that George W. Bush is the Caligula of the 21st century. I didn't come up with this idea on my own; I got it from the Goddess of Talk Radio, Randi Rhodes. Randi made this accusation while discussing the subject of torture. The similarities go a lot further, and here's the list I came up with. (Disclaimer: I'm not a hard-core student of ancient Roman history; most of the information presented here about Caligula came from Wikipedia.)

Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus (a.k.a. Caligula)

George W. Bush

Believed that he was a god.

Convinced the Religious Right that he would represent their interests, an even greater stretch.

Tried to make his horse, Incitatus, a consul.

Appointed Michael Brown, Judges and Stewards Commissioner of the Arabian Horse Association, as Director of FEMA.

Ordered arbitrary arrests and confinement.

Suspended habeas corpus.

Sent troops on illogical military exercises.

Sent troops on illogical military exercises.

Used mercenaries for foreign wars as well as personal bodyguards.

Used mercenaries for foreign wars.

Exhausted the treasury with political payments for support, generosity and extravagance.

Increased the national debt by three trillion dollars.

An eager witness of torture and executions.

Violated international treaties on torture, approved executions of juvenile offenders and mentally retarded people.

Made his palace into a brothel, committed incest with and prostituted his sisters.

Barney Frank, Mark Foley, Larry Craig...

Randi Rhodes' Bush/Caligula comparison was made on her program on Nov. 15, 2005. If you can send me a transcript or a link to a recording of this program, I will be very grateful.