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Posts Tagged ‘Government’

Political Ethics On Twitter & Ontario Elections #voteON

October 3, 2011 5 comments

@OntarioPressSec "Media Office" Twitter follow notification in my email

With the start of the 40th Ontario Provincial Elections campaign I noticed that the account “@OntarioPressSec” who I was following and followed me had changed their handle to become @LibPressSec. I had been following @OntPressSec/@LibPressSec since I tried to get Premier Dalton McGuinty’s recognition of Foursquare Day Toronto 2011 in April. I also noticed that now there was – clearly a new, placeholder account – @OntarioPressSec which doesn’t and hasn’t tweeted since its creation on September 2, 2011.

I am at war with myself over whether I agree with these tactics as being ethical during an election. As you can see in the picture above, the account which is being run by a staffer of the Liberal Party of Ontario identified itself in April as being “Media Office” who had a biography which read “Associate Press Secretary in the Office of the Premier of Ontario.” The placeholder @OntarioPressSec Twitter account says in its biography “Account not monitored. Please interact here: @LibPressSec.” It directs people to the Liberal Party of Ontario’s Twitter account with no direction to the Ontario NDP, or Ontario Progressive Conservatives.

During the time when the account which used to be the Media Office for the Premier of Ontario’s Office was just that it managed to amass 3,713 Followers as of the writing of this post, up from 2,275 in April – the election campaign officially began September 7, 2011 so make your own guess how many of those 1,438 followers that have been added since April came on since the beginning of the election campaign. I feel as though that is sort of wrong in a way and, again, unethical. I understand that the account cannot become the mouthpiece of the Liberal Party of Ontario while still under the name @OntarioPressSec during an election campaign but why should they get to bring over all those followers who wanted to know the goings on of the Government of Ontario to suddenly be inundated with Liberal Party tweets. As well, if Dalton McGuinty and the Ontario Liberals lose the election does the new government of Ontario get control of both the placeholder account and the one which is now a Liberal Party mouthpiece? Read more…

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New 365 Area Code Overlay For 905/289 in Southern Ontario Coming 2013

April 15, 2010 4 comments

As many people in Toronto and the surrounding area (referred to as the Greater Toronto Area or GTA) probably already know that there will be a new area code for phones by 2013. This development has been undertaken with the apparent blessing of the Canadian Numbering Administrator (CNA) and the North American Numbering Plan Administration (NANPA) by the the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) which has decided in its infinite wisdom to overlay another new area code in Southeastern Ontario as the 289 area code which was overlaid in 2001 on top of the then almost exhausted (and now completely exhausted) 905 area code is going to be exhausted itself by 2014. See the full report at the CRTC website here http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/archive/2010/2010-213.htm

Before I continue, I feel I should segue to explain something about Canada for my readers outside of Canada. In Canada, unlike pretty much every other nation in the world, there is still long distance charges and roaming charges on cell phones while still in the country and even while still in the same province. As well, most landline phone plans also charge for long distance out of a defined local calling area. This is very different than, for example, Canada’s neighbors to the south, the United States, where one can use a prepaid cell phone with a Miami, Florida phone number to call from Hawaii to New York City and it is considered a local call with no roaming charges.

So the current situation in Southern Ontario is that the 905/289 area code includes the Niagara Peninsula, Hamilton, Oshawa, and the suburban Greater Toronto Area (You can see a map of this here in low-resolution http://www.cnac.ca/npa_codes/npa_map.htm and here in ‘higher-resolution’ – 1703×1509, nothing crazy http://www.cnac.ca/images/AreaCodeMap_highres.png). As such, the calling situation in Toronto and the GTA is very confusing for people. From a Toronto landline or cell phone (which have area codes 416 and 647) one can make a call to the city directly north of Toronto, Vaughan, and it is a local call 905 or 289 number. One can also make a call to a 905 or 289 number in Mississauga and it too is a local call. However, try calling a 905 or 289 number in Hamilton or Niagara Falls and you have to add a 1 before that number because it’s a long distance call. I have even heard tell of areas of Mississauga where people can call both Toronto and Hamilton and both are local calls! The point is, no one in the GTA knows when they are calling a number outside of the 416/647 area code for the first time if they are supposed to use a 1 before the number or not. Every new number is a new adventure!

According to the CRTC decision for the implementation of the overlay of 365 over 905/289:

I. (8) The Commission notes that overlaying a new area code on the area served by area codes 289 and 905 would not require subscribers to change phone numbers. The Commission considers that, compared with the other options evaluated by the RPC [Relief Planning Commission], this would be the least disruptive option for subscribers, would cost less to implement, and would provide long-term relief.

and they even have suggested in the same report that the area code 742 “could potentially be used for future relief in the 365-289-905 area, which is expected to exhaust again approximately 10 years after the next exhaust date.” (II. (15))

With all the above being said I personally believe this is quite a foolishly inefficient method of dealing with the problem and would like to take this space to lobby for a change in plan. I think that there should be a separation of the 905/289 area code’s current coverage into Toronto Local (TOLo) and Toronto Long Distance (TLD) and assign one of them the new area code.

In researching and writing this post I experimented by calling Tim Hortons stores in Durham region (east of Toronto). The stores Pickering and Ajax 905 numbers were TOLo and once I tried a little further east in the city of Whitby it was TLD. This is probably a big part of the problem and the reason overlay after overlay is going to happen – a bad decision early on is just being repeated. The 905/289 area code covers areas north, east and west of the City of Toronto. In each of these directions some of it is TLD and some of it is TOLo. Currently, the area that is known as the GTA which uses 905/289 consists of the municipalities of Durham, Halton, Peel, and York. In all those municipalities although they are identified as the GTA and a vast percentage of them probably come into Toronto to work (and play) and people in Toronto drive to them to work, there are TOLo portions and TLD portions.

It is high time that we normalized this ridiculous situation! Sure it is going to be a pain for a time but if we don’t do it now we are only going to further compound this problem. I say we go with the ease of the majority of the population. According to the Toronto Star, “[e]ach area code has a potential of about 7.5 million unique phone numbers. There are actually more combinations possible than that, but certain numbers, such as those beginning with 911 or 666, for example, are deemed unusable“. And, using the 2006 census the GTA municipalities had about 3 million people. The rest of the areas serviced by 905/289 had, according to the 2006 census, less than 2 million people. The change should therefore be implemented that the four municipalities that are part of the GTA become TOLo in their entirety and get to keep their 905/289 area code and phone numbers. The areas outside the GTA currently using the 905/289 area codes, which include Hamilton, Niagara Falls, St Catherines, and others will get to keep their phone numbers but have the new 365 area code instead. We won’t have to worry about people dialing the wrong numbers because if you try to dial a 905 number while you are in Niagara Falls the call won’t go through as it will be long distance and you didn’t add a 1 serving as your reminder that the number has changed to a 365 number. No one will ever be confused again about whether or not they need to be dialing long distance because the 416/647 area codes and the 905/289 area codes will always be local to each other!

As usual, the views expressed above are just my $0.02. You don’t have to agree with me.

The Job Of An Elected Official

May 22, 2009 Leave a comment

I was reading the SpacingToronto blog today and saw a post where the author, Shawn Micallef, commented on a quote by Toronto City Councillor Paul Ainslie to the Toronto based Canadian national newspaper the Globe & Mail on the subject of whether or not to get rid of the center lane on a city street named Jarvis to make more room for bike lanes and wider sidewalks (this center lane switches between being a northbound or a southbound lane depending on the time of day to help ease congestion).

“[He} said this to the Globe: “I don’t get people calling my office and saying there are not enough bike lanes.” With that logic, does Ainslie not support anything that comes across council’s agenda unless he’s heard something from his constituents? That would be silly.”

Really Shawn? An elected official only supporting things that the people who elected him/her want him/her to support is SILLY?!?!?! Obviously we must take for granted that not every issue that comes to a vote in any democratic governing body has an opinion explicitly expressed by each and every elected officials populace. However, part of the reason these people get elected is because when voters look at their positions on issues they vote for a candidate because the voters agree with them on those issues and trust the candidate’s judgement on other future issues that may arise during the candidate’s tenure in elected office.

Now, of course, Shawn Micallef has taken the idea of an elected official responding to an issue based on the majority of their constituents desires to the Nth degree suggesting that an elected official should, based on Ainslie’s comments, ONLY support an issue after he/she has heard from their constituents on it because that would be silly. However, when it comes to spending CA$6.35 million that the City of Toronto does not have I think the fact that not one of the elected official’s constituents contacted his office to voice their favoring this change to the status quo is enough to warrant voting against it.

Also, let’s not forget that a large part of the reasoning for this change is so that they can add BIKING lanes. Has anyone in the Toronto City Council ever been outside in Toronto anytime from October to mid-April? Except for the odd days it isn’t biking weather (to say the least) for the majority of the year in Toronto. In fact, according to CityNews Weather Blog this past April “The mean monthly temperature for April was 7.83 [Celsius] compared to the normal 6.3 [Celsius]” and there was even “3.6cm of snow” (for my American readers, that’s more than an inch, and enough to stick on the ground, freeze, and make driving very annoying).

But I don’t want to really talk about the Jarvis bike lane issue. What really gets to me is that when I read Shawn Micallef’s post the way I saw it he was basically saying, the voting public in general are stupid and don’t know what is good for them, that is why it is up to the ‘elite’ elected officials to decide what is good for the public even if the public does not agree. Like a parent forcing their child to take their medicine so will the government help the idiot masses by making decisions against the will of the people that the officials have decided the people need because the officials know better.

Quite the opposite is my opinon Shawn Micallef! The job of the elected official is only to respond to the will of the people who put him/her in that office. If your constituents have not expressed an opinion either way on an issue and the issue will cost money (i.e. your constituents tax dollars) it is absolutely your job to vote against it and ensure that their tax dollars are around to spend money on things that the city actually NEEDS. Like, say, 24 HOUR SUBWAY SERVICE.

But that’s just my $0.02

Blackberry Storms on Capitol Hill & Big Government Mentality

March 6, 2009 2 comments

Wow! Feels good to be posting again! I hope you can excuse my recent absence and even if you can’t now I think once you finish reading another dose of my common sense awesomeness you” be singing a different tune!!!

A friend shared an blog post with me via GoogleReader from Gizmodo (“The Gadget Blog”) titled “Washington Whining Politicians Smash BlackBerry Storm” (@ http://i.gizmodo.com/5165511/washington-whining-politicians-smash-blackberry-storm) which referenced a story on the Politico website (@ http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0309/19693.html). Gizmodo and Politico talked about the problems that people working on Capitol Hill were having with the new Blackberry Storm. However, what I found most amusing and inspiring (for me to write this blog post) was the amazed attitude the people at Gizmodo expressed finishing their post off with these words:

“Things are so “bad” there that the House administrative office is setting up a workshop on the Storm for people working there. Which brings up the question: Why in hell did they ditch their old phones to get a fancy piece of crap that has been smashed by reviews before? And these are the guys who have our future in their hands.”

Funny stuff but my simple answer to the above question at the end of that piece is – this is a classic example of the way big government operates. The government figures that with government backing and government putting money into something that should by all accounts fail due to its rejection by the market the government will be ensuring what they perceive to be important sectors of the economy do not go under. I guess that would be the people who manufacture parts for the BB Storm and the people who have been hired to teach classes on how to use the BB Storm and maybe those third party companies and retailers who manufacture and sell aftermarket BB Storm cases, covers, belt clips and the like. (To be clear I do not believe that the government is keeping their BB Storms because they are actually trying to prop it up in the marketplace I am just using the example because it is what spurned my thoughts towards what I am going to discuss below)

This is what the government does on a regular basis and what it is doing with its propping up of the auto industry for instance. Ya, I totally agree that it will SUCK for all the people in all the areas of the economy that will be affected by the Big 3 automakers going under but there are reasons the companies are failing and by propping them up you don’t do anyone a service you just encourage the thought process of – well we can do whatever we want even if it makes no business sense because the government will save us! There is a reason that Toyota, Honda, and Mazda and other non-North American companies aren’t going to fail if they don’t get government bailouts. (Full disclosure: Recently there has been news that these foreign automakers have asked for loans from their governments or are going to ask for loans to help them finance cars to their customers because due to the credit crunch it is very difficult to get credit on car buying. The companies don’t NEED the loan to stay solvent, however, which is the huge key to the difference between them and the Detroit Big 3. As well, the money they are asking for from their government – Toyota asked for $2 BILLION – PALES in comparison to what GM and Chrysler have already been loaned to stay afloat – $17.4 BILLION – and are now requesting again also to stay afloat – $21.6 BILLION (which makes a grand total of $39 BILLION!!!).

I stand by the belief that in the long run it will be better to let these companies die off or merge rather than prop them up as individuals. Part of the reason they are in such financial strife is because of their insane deals with the U.A.W. (United Auto Workers) who still refuse to accept any of the blame for the current financial crisis hitting the Detroit Auto Manufacturers. They also are completely lacking a willingness to renegotiate some of the more expensive parts of their contracts which will go a long way to helping the ailing auto makers (and went a long way to putting Chrysler and GM in their current unenviable positions). The U.A.W. is, rather, appealing for support from other unions around the USA in their cause to not give up any of their gold-plated benefits!!! http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/06/business/06labor.html

Propping up a failing or failed business/industry is bad in the long term for the economy. Think of it like this, if in the first decade of the 20th Century livery stable owners, horse trainers/breeders, stable hands, buggy manufacturers and the myriad of people and businesses associated with the use of the horse as a method of transport and freight had come to Congress and asked for a bailout because their business/industry was in a rapid decline since the automobile had become much more affordable for the middle class (through, but not solely because of, the invention of the assembly line by Henry Ford and the drop in the price of gasoline at the end of the 19th Century). Should Congress have propped them up? Of course not! If they had we would probably still be propping up that industry today because we still do not need horses for those purposes as we did before the car became affordable. It stinks but those people working in those sectors pretty much all had to adapt and/or find new lines of work – and they did because there was a growing call for mechanics, auto factory workers, and other things associated with the then growing auto industry.

Now before you ask the question I will answer that yes, I am well aware that there is no known burgeoning sector of the economy right now for people laid off en masse from a bankrupt auto manufacturing plant or auto parts manufacturing plant to go out and get jobs. However, we should not be artificially controlling the market in ways that do not allow companies that deserve to join the ash heap of history join the ash heap of history. Maybe on of those people who is laid off will find the time to think of some awesome new manufacturing/factory operation method in their free time and become the next Henry Ford (but hopefully not as anti-Semitic!). Or maybe there are some people who have ideas for new inventions or improvements on current inventions that will end up revolutionizing a market sector. Maybe they already have these idea but they don’t have the time to go ahead and build that new device or they don’t want to take the risk starting their own company because it would require their leaving of their secure union job at the auto plant.

A wise person once said, “Necessity is the mother of all invention”. Now, to be clear, I do not by any means say with certainty that there are auto workers or people employed in orbit around one of the failing auto manufacturers who has or will have an idea that will bring a new exciting concept or invention to our world to revolutionize it. HOWEVER, the American economy has reinvented itself time and time again and has shifted its focus on one sector to another to another over the decades. In the 1970s and 1980s everyone predicted Japan would quickly become the world economic superpower. The idea in the previous statement today is laughable when we look back at those silly people who made those predictions in the in the final decades of the 20th Century. The American economy adapted and transformed and became stronger as Japan’s asset bubble at the base of their economy burst in 1990. Today, the predictions are all about the impending rise of China as the global economic superpower by 2025 and India early on in the latter half of the 21st Century. If the government does not attempt to prop up these corporate failures and instead allows them to go their natural course, whatever it may be, they will also be allowing the economy to once again dynamically transform itself to meet the growing needs of the future.

But that’s just my $0.02, as always your comments are appreciated!

A. Moodie – Will Canada Have A Black PM?

January 31, 2009 Leave a comment

In this week’s Eye Weekly playwright Andrew Moodie ponders whether or not Canada will have a black Prime Minister in his lifetime. As I read through the article I was surprised by the ridiculousness of some of Andrew Moodie’s claims and how little he based them on fact and reality.

“We just need a really good prime minister, and if they’re black or South Asian or First Nations or Chinese, all the better, but they have to be good.” Really? If the person occupying the office of PM is not white then it is better than if they were white? Isn’t that racist against white people? If I were writing that sentence it would read “We just need a really good prime minister, whatever color they are, it doesn’t matter but they have to be good” (This isn’t to say that I think Prime Minister Harper is a bad Prime Minister. I personally agree with the bulk of his policies and think he is doing a great job. But if you read the article linked above you will see that Mr Moodie doesn’t seem to agree with me)

I did an unofficial Google survey of the three political parties, looking for their diverse members of Parliament. It’s not scientific, I basically went to the websites of the three parties and opened a tab for every person of colour I could find.Hmm, when trying to evaluate multicultural diversity as represented within Canadian politics did it ever occur to you to go see what the cultural representation of all the candidates were in the last election? I think it would show a much larger proportion of multicultural representation if those numbers were looked at and not just who actually is an MP. (But in case you’re wondering I haven’t looked this up but in his article Mr Moodie doesn’t discuss percentage of the population of a culture vs the percentage of MPs of that culture in Parliament)

“…[R]unning for…prime minister is one of the most noble things a human being can do. At least that’s how Trudeau made me feel. He, much like Obama, makes serving as the leader of a nation a true calling. And much like Trudeau, he makes it look so easy, and so much damn fun…Now, of course, President Obama is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of leader.” REALLY?!?!?! Andrew Moodie what kind of garbage are you spewing? This is the most ridiculous group of statements in the entire article and I am in no way referring to what he said about Trudeau. Obama hasn’t even been the POTUS for a month and you are already defining him as a “once-in-a-lifetime kind of leader”?!?!?! HE HASN’T ACTUALLY DONE ANYTHING YET! “…[H]e makes it look so easy, so much damn fun…” I repeat, OBAMA HASN’T DONE ANYTHING YET! His administration hasn’t even been at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave for a month yet and already you know that President Obama makes being President look easy and fun? How about waiting until President Obama has been in office for a month or 6 or dare I say it a year or 2 before you make such a statement so you don’t sound like a fool. How about waiting for President Obama to have to make a tough decision or two. Ya, I suppose it was really a difficult decision as the President for Obama to tell Citigroup to drop their plan to buy a $50 million plane after they just went to the government asking for a bail out – tough call! Good decision Mr President! You make those difficult decisions look so easy because if I were in your position I don’t know what I’d do. I might even consider buying the plane for Citigroup so maybe they’d put their bail out money to better use (note my tone dripping with sarcasm here, haha)

Further, Mr Moodie fails to take a significant difference between the Canadian and American political systems into account with his wondering of the likelihood of his seeing a non-white PM-in-his-lifetime. That major difference is Term Limits: In the USA there is something called Term Limits in regard to the office of the Presidency. Since the ratification of the XXII Amendment (February 26, 1951) no person can be elected to the office of the President of the United States for more than two terms of 4 years. Canada does not have such a law and a Prime Minister’s term in office can be as long as 5 years before he/she is required to have the Governor-General ‘drop the writ’ and call an election. As such, by law the current President of the United States of America Barack Obama will not be in office after 2016 elections barring a further Constitutional Amernment whereas the current Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper could be the Prime Minister for the rest of his life as long as the people of Canada keep re-electing him and his party. In fact, the longest serving Canadian Prime Minister if you add up all his terms together was Mackenzie King who served for 22 years. The Prime Minister with the longest continual term was Wilfrid Laurier who served for 15 years 2 months and 30 days.

Lastly, we come back to the original question in the article: will 42 year old Andrew Moodie (or 27 year old Dan Levy) see a non-white person living in 24 Sussex and occupying the Office of the Prime Minister of Canada before we die? Who knows and who cares! All that should matter is that we continue to see Prime Ministers that do the best they can to serve the people of Canada and Presidents who do the best they can to serve the people of the United States of America be they man or woman, white, black, Asian, Jewish, First Nations, or purple with pink polka-dots. Whether or not someone who isn’t white becomes Prime Minister doesn’t matter. What matters is that the possibility is open to all citizens of Canada. We should not judge our society based on the results we see but rather in the methods we use.

But that’s just my $0.02, as always your comments are appreciated!

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