Saturday, 29 April 2017

Cultural Appropriation of Indigenous Art?

Today, CBC showcased a story about a Toronto artist, who had her show cancelled, over an allegation that her work is actually a form of cultural appropriation.

Amanda PL is the artist in question and defends that her work is inspired by the art style of famous indigenous artist Norval Morrisseau. For those who do not know of him, his art was famous in the 1960's for its depiction of animals, people and nature. Below is a few samples of some of his more beautiful pieces in my opinion.


Norval Morrisseau

Norval Morrisseau





The art is undeniably beautiful, as it depicts not only indigenous acts, but also tells a story with every piece. However, can we truly accuse another artist of cultural genocide or appropriation, simply because they are impacted by an art form?

I mean, I understand how cultural appropriation can be extremely harmful, especially when it is taken and mass produced for profit, as we have seen in the past with various indigenous garb via famous fashion outlets. To take a piece of a culture and bastardize it, in my opinion, would be to mass produce it as your own with little to no history on where it came from or its impact.


Below, you can see a piece from Amanda PL's showcase, which directly depicts an influence from Norval Morrisseau's own work. She says she was impressed by his work, when she was in Thunder Bay and decided to honour his work with her own take on his art form.


Amanda Pl


The saying with art is that good artist borrow, while great artists steal, but can the adoption of an art form really be compared to the mass production and dilution of cultural theft?

Let's use my heritage as an example to further defend my opinion. I am of Italian descent and while Italian's were not treated in the same manner as Indigenous people in Canada, we also received a lot of hate and systemic violence against us. Our culture, specifically our food, has become a staple in many households and also the main focus of many fast chains, who mass produce cheap versions of famous dishes, that often are not even healthy for you and call it Italian, even though they are the farthest thing from a Mediterranean diet, let alone authentic Italian.


This should be text book Cultural Appropriation
Example 2 of mass produced garbage

While these examples are commonly found in society, no one really bats an eye to them as being offensive, even though they are the farthest thing from authentic Italian culture and in some respects, directly insult it.

I do not believe we should easily throw around the label of cultural appropriation, when it comes to a persons expression via art. While I do not personally know Amanda Pl, I feel as if her expression in art form, showcases her own emotions and voice and in doing so, honours the original intent from Norval Morrisseau's intended art. I feel Norval would take her expression via his art form as an honour as well, since she is continuing something he made famous, even if her stories are not told from the perspective of an Indigenous person.

To censor Amanda, is to set a dangerous precedent that many argue is helping to fuel the rise of right wing, protectionist and xenophobic people and politicians. If we continue to label anyone racist or accuse them of cultural genocide, because they are expressing their own voice through a style similar to another cultures own expression, does not everyone stand guilty to some extent?

An Indigenous person may actively enjoy eating at an Italian inspired fast food place, but am I right to judge them as being a perpetrator of cultural genocide? Can I look to someone who performs an art form like Leonardo DaVinci or Michelangelo and wag my finger?

The simple answer is no, because they are choosing to express themselves in honour of something that has touched them on a deeper level.

Art is not here for some, but for everyone and it not only tells a story, but also expresses emotion through words, pictures and song.

As we all share this special medium and allow our voices to be heard through it, can we not honour each other by adopting elements of art that resonate with us?

Amanda does not deny being inspired by Norval Morrisseau and she is not mass producing variations of his art in a disrespectful or profit oriented way, in fact she may be expressing it in a way that forces people to learn more about the art form and derive a greater respect for something that they may not have known much about before. They may now be forced to interact more with Indigenous people, who also practice a similar art form and as such enlighten themselves to its true story and the emotions it invokes in them.

What do you think? Cultural Appropriation in art or honour through the expression of an art form?

Friday, 28 April 2017

5 Steps to Creating Something Universal

As is the purpose of the Political Road Map, the goal is to always question your government, politics and the overall direction of society with regards to both. In questioning, we come closer to discovering the truth or at the very least, somewhere we can aim to improve.

Yesterday, the Ontario government unveiled plans to introduce a Universal Drug Plan, which they say will target anyone under the age of 25, starting on January 18th, 2017.

Wait a second...universal drug plan and only youth under 25? If something does not sound right, you are not incorrect in saying so!

So, I am going to outline in this post just exactly how someone can take something and make it UNIVERSAL! Not like God like UNIVERSAL, but universal in the sense that it follows the common doctrine of most legislation and utilizes the philosophy of helping the vast majority.

Here are 5 steps to creating something universal: 

1. Understand what universal means
2. Look at your overall audience/target audience
3.Brainstorm funding
4.Sustainability
5. Ensure program or thing is flexible

Step 1: Understand what universal means

 

In order to create something universal, you have to understand what the terminology means. A simple Google search and universal can be defined as the following:

"a term or concept of general application"

As simple and direct as can be, the term universal at its root implies the application of something to generally or in other words to everyone within a certain concept.

While the government is semi-correct in its use of applying drug coverage universally to youth, as youth implies a specific group and the term is implying a general application of something to that group, it fails to truly incorporate the depth of the term.

Once you have wrapped that around your head, move on to Step 2.  

Step 2: Look at your overall audience/target audience


In the case of governance and policy creation, it is very important that you understand your target audience. If you want to make something universal, you need to know who is going to be affected by it overall and who directly will be affected by it.

In the case of drug coverage, the government would look at the population of Ontario as a whole to begin. From this overall look, they would see the following three categories emerge: 0-18, 18-50, 50-100, again using a very general take.

These three categories are age groups with which to assess the direct need of medication or access to it.

From there, the next step would be to determine need based on the subject in question of becoming universal. It is important to have a strong and healthy work force, so those within the 18-50 range would get some attention, as they represent a common life span of the working adult.

However, if you look at human health in general, you will know that those in the 50-100 range on average require the most access to affordable medication. This is because the individuals in this range are usually entering retirement or already in it. They are not working and as they have aged, are more vulnerable to disease and as such require medication more often (Hopefully) than your working age group.

Finally, we have the 0-18 group, in this group you have our most vulnerable audience. They are learning and growing and as such require much assistance from the other groups. Having crucial access to necessary medication is important, mainly because when they get sick it can be very serious.

Lets move on to Step 3, shall we?   

Step 3: Brainstorm Funding


Like anything present in nature or the universe, energy is required to allow something to move or operate. When it comes to government legislation, funding and political will is the energy that allows it to move forward.

For this, you need to look deeper into your 3 previous groups, which were listed for drug access. If 0-18 is your most vulnerable, since they are learning and 50-100 are your most at risk, due to age, then it is only natural to rely on 18-50 in order to garner your main support. This is where most discussion on the importance of the middle class arises, since the middle class is working and has a means to create an end, which should also mean that they do not rely on anyone too much.

Quickly, Step 4!  

Step 4: Sustainability


Since energy or erm...funding is crucial to the success of your universal to be item, you need to make sure that the sources you attain it from stick around.

Let's keep using the universal drug plan. If you are currently purchasing medication at set prices from your sources and also using a Capitalist model, you know that buying in bulk is often the key to saving some major money or power.

So, if you expand your overall coverage and then bring this to the table when negotiating pricing with your sources, you not only open up more of a market for them, but also create incentive to lower prices as you now have more power with your larger base. If they do not agree, you move on to someone else until you find the desired pricing, since its your market and your responsibility to service that market with a safe and sustainable supply.

When your costs begin to lower, your operating costs begin to become more standardized, which in turn allows you to draw less from your main source, which in this example is the 18-50 category. Doing so allows this category to not only have better access to medication, which will make them stronger and work and live better, but will also allow them to have more energy and funding to contribute to your group in other ways.

Ensuring a sustainable energy source is not only the smart thing to do, its totally trendy as well, I mean our solar system, yep...sustainable energy source via the sun for like...4 billion + years now!  

Step 5: Ensure program or thing is flexible


One thing about existence or life in general, is that it is always moving and never really static. Due to this, it is important for anyone seeking to create a universal thing or program to ensure that it can adapt to whatever changes may come its way.

In the case of the universal drug program, for it to be truly authentic, it would have to ensure not only multiple sustainable income sources, but also a diversified portfolio of safe providers in the event that something goes wrong with someone.

The program also has to be able to adapt to audience demands, this is where trends become important. If a trend develops in the 18-50 year old category, for example an illness that threatens death! Then something has to be done to not only address the illness with the proper medication, but also ensure that access to the medication is made available to everyone as soon as possible.

To finish up this 5 step guide to universality, I would like to just comment once again on the Ontario Liberals drug plan initiative. While it will do a lot of good in the province, it just isn't authentic to its truest form. Government is in order to not only provide leadership, but also redistribute the collected wealth of everyone living within its realm. As a result, any major initiative that aims to be universal, should be done so with the target of reach as many people as possible. The greatest good for the greatest number in society is how many political philosophers put it.

 Aside from that, questions arise on the sustainability of this program as no direct action plan was released along with it, which details where the money is coming from. Lastly, it does not provide necessary coverage to one of our most vulnerable groups, seniors(50-100), people who worked hard to build this province up and in doing so allowed for the education and nourishment of many people who have replaced them in the 18-50 category.

When creating your own universal program or thing, please keep the 5 steps in mind and also remember to have common courtesy and respect to the system as a whole. A lot can change quickly and a proper balance is always important for success.

Good luck and get out there to help as many people as possible!   

Ontario Budget: Shallow Election Bid or Deep Election Bid?

A thousand years from now, in present day Ontario, after the fallout from a Trump temper tantrum, future survivors will begin to reclaim the land. Upon doing so, they will more than likely come across a few remnants of modern day Ontario that will survive the ruin and devastation. Among these items will most likely be nuclear waste and the remaining debt from a combined Dalton McGuinty and Kathleen Wynne Liberal government.

Too mean? Maybe, but you cannot let a government with the track record Wynne currently has off the hook that easily! 




Yesterday, Charles Sousa had the pleasure to release the 2017 Ontario budget and throughout his presentation, ensured that enough standing applause and smiles was included to ensure anyone viewing would see how proud the Liberals are...of themselves!

Sadly, it is no surprise that the government has decided to move forward on shiny newsworthy initiatives, with an election only a year or so away.

The question anyone viewing this budget should ask now is if we can trust the Ontario Liberals with their claim that the budget is sustainable and balanced and if their initiatives will actually impact the majority of Ontarians?

After looking over the released initiatives and watching the announcement live, I have my doubts regarding the confidence expressed by the government. I mention sustainability, because the current budget has balanced off with the direct infusion of money from the Hydro One partial sell off. The NDP and Conservatives have jumped on this fact along with the notion that many of the plans proposed do very little in helping the majority of Ontarians who actually need it and they are right.

The current budget not only misses the mark in a lot of cases, it cannot pass the stink test regarding a direct attempt to buy support before the upcoming election. Kathleen Wynne had her job cut out for her in the beginning, but has not proven that she can govern any more responsibly than her predecessor.

The Liberals have been notorious for taking good ideas and then corrupting them with delays, increased budgets and scandal. So basically, they have fallen into the stereotypical mold that people associate with typical politicians.


Universal Drug Coverage...kind of.

 Beginning in January of 2018, anyone under the age of 25 will now have full drug coverage with no strings attached. This program will ensure that anyone not currently covered by an employee plan, will have access to medication already placed on the list of covered items. This, naturally, would make any child advocate or parent happy, free medication for those who need it and a small percentage will directly benefit.

Where the mark was missed is that this initiative that the government apparently has been working on for a while, yet made no indication or mention of, was surprisingly similar to an NDP announcement made just days before that would allow universal coverage for the majority of uninsured, both young and old.

The federal NDP actually proposed this idea just after the last election, as Canada presently lacks any kind of national drug plan that would enable us to fight for better drug pricing, which in turn would save us precious tax money through a reduction in purchasing costs.

Balanced Budget*

 

Hydro One plays an important role in this budget, as the government sold off 15% and received an estimated $5 billion from the initial offering. This money was directly used to assist in paying for transit projects, but also heavily used to pay down the debt.

While government can survive debt, through socialization of that debt to the tax payer (you and I), the issue comes with how that debt is accrued. The Ontario Liberals have made some large promises, but have been guilty of multiple scandals that cost a lot of money.

The magic number seems to be $1 billion, when it comes to a Mcguinty or Wynne scandal. I'll even quickly name them: E-Health, Gas Plants, Mars Building and the 200% increase in hydro rates over 6 years as a few.

 What are your thoughts on the budget yesterday? Leave a comment and tell me your thoughts on the direction already taken by this government and the direction chosen for the near future? If you're a Liberal supporter, would you vote for Kathleen Wynne and her administration again?



Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Trump's Hardwood on Trade

Yesterday, it was announced that a 24% tariff would be applied to Canadian softwood lumber entering the United States.


You may recognize the term softwood lumber, as it has been mentioned various times in the media throughout the years, in fact, this topic goes back to the 1980's, where tariffs were threatened or applied to our exports, in order to cease potential dumping and unfair competition. In many of these cases, Canada has fought back and has won, because at the end of the day the Americans need resources and Canada has them.

In the case of Donald Trump and his administration, we have all been expecting some kind of bold and irrational move that would purport to defend Americans, while causing further stigma and chaos. While many figured it would be Mexico as the first main target, Trump has decided to go after an easier target, Canada.

Americans argue that because we grow our lumber sources on Crown Land, it provides a direct subsidy to producers. American producers source private lands, which means their costs will generally be greater compared to Canadians. Throw in a 30% lower dollar and the Trump administration has all the ammunition it needs to attack Canada.

Last week Trump declared that NAFTA would be torn up and renegotiated and that an action plan would be revealed within two weeks.His central argument is that Canada takes advantage of America's generosity, while Mexico directly undermines it. Interesting that no tariff has been implemented regarding Chinese imports, but that will most likely arrive later.

Why?

I believe that Donald Trump is basically playing his version of politics. Trump is a business man and irrational, mainly because he relies on the media as his main resource for international and domestic affairs. If all you are watching are the debates on trade coming from certain right wing news channels (Fox), it is no surprise that you perceive an ongoing natural trade agreement as disgraceful and totally unfair.

His action words alone are being utilized to further dramatize the issue and as such rally Americans. You can bet that a lot of Trump supporters will begin their distaste of Canadian sourced items now, as we have been lumped into the same category as Mexico and China, which is both unfair and just plain rude.

Trump has his own bullshit language that I honestly believe only his supporters can sometimes understand. It has not reason or rhyme, except to further his agenda to strong arm both friend and foe in order to get his way. In the case of softwood lumber, Trumps actions not only affect a minimum of 22,000 jobs, but also affects 8-10,000 American jobs, while also hurting the bottom line of many domestic sources that use Canadian lumber. 

Response? 

Our first response should be to take action in the courts. Approach the WTO and use any NAFTA legislation in place to defend not only our position, but attack the rational on Trumps approach. If all goes well, American pressure will have him stand down before any further action is required by us, again because his own people utilize our lumber for important projects, such as real estate and home improvement along with various manufacturing.

Moving forward, if Trump uses this action toward Canada as a testing ground, which is likely, he may set this as a precedent to not only enforce the need to dismantle NAFTA, but also apply similar tactics to other trade commodities.

Short term, we can only continue to tackle this head on and use facts to disprove the speculation leading to these impulsive moves.

Long term, Canada needs to diversify our trade, which means we need to start approaching other large markets such as China and Europe, in order to not only find new buyers, but create new demand and make us less reliant on the Americans, at least until they smarten up and impeach Donald Trump.

If Trump does mess up NAFTA and do it improperly, he does risk many American jobs being lost or severely impacted by not only his actions, but also his words. The world may now have to consider joining forces in order to ensure that Trump is kept in check regarding trade.

While naturally, people fear China, for its trade tactics that manipulate many factors to lower the bottom line, any fear or attack on Canada is not only dangerous for the United States, but risks destabilizing peaceful and prosperous trade between two countries that have remained united and stable over the majority of their existence.

Keep an eye on here for more updates as information becomes available and prepare to dislike Trump even more.

Until Next Time! 


Friday, 21 April 2017

Angry Trump and NAFTA-GATE

We knew this was coming for a while now. Selfies, smiles and handshakes aside, we all knew that the time would arrive that saw Donald Trump targeting Canada, for something outrageous and emotionally inspired.

Yesterday was that day, as Donald Trump held a new conference to directly name Canada, as a country that is both unfair and disgraceful regarding our supposed treatment of dairy farmers in Wisconsin. Personally, I am a Green Bay fan, but to hear that farmers in Wisconsin are using Canada as an argument for their woes, is something disgusting in an of itself.

Trump did not stop there though, he went even further to name our energy sector, our lumber and NAFTA in general as being a bad deal, disgraceful and unfair for Americans. Later on in the evening, Trump met with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentilloni, where he further mentioned the importance of a RECIPROCAL relationship, he even went to the trouble of repeating the word and stressing it.

The Political Road Map serves to provide an area to discuss the direction that our country is traveling, while also discussing various topics in politics. The actions of Donald Trump cannot be met with a similar response, but rather the truth created by actual facts.

For many, people do not realize that Canada, currently has a trade deficit with America in the dairy sector. We utilize supply management, which is essentially a system in place that provides a guaranteed income for producers. The Americans on the other hand provide a lot of money to subsidize their dairy sector and as such have found themselves in the current predicament.

If farmers in Wisconsin are currently suffering, it has nothing to do with Canadians, but rather because they have the issue of over production. The American way of business is to squeeze as much profit from their business as possible (Think Walmart), which in the case of the dairy farmers, has left them with a lot of milk and nowhere immediately to sell it.

Back to that trade deficit with America, Canada currently has a deficit with them to the tune of around $500 million. If anything, we receive almost 5 times more American dairy products than they do Canadian. The current issue is where our government is stepping in to halt the flooding of our market with even more American milk. Which is important, because their job is too protect Canadian interests.

Quality vs. Quantity

Another side issue to this, is that American milk is not subject to as much regulation as Canadian milk products. So, as such, many producers increase their output by using medicines and processes that may alter the milk. For example; Higher traces of puss and antibiotics have been found in American milk, which many argue is not only disgusting, but potentially hazardous to humans after long term consumption. Not to mention the issue with powdered milk products being incorporated into cheese and other dairy items.

If you call something dairy, it should at least be made with some part natural milk and not bi-products in my opinion.

NAFTA

It doesn't take much to see beyond the act that Donald Trump is using to over dramatize this issue and NAFTA overall. He will use this as a power play in order to strong arm Justin Trudeau into a better NAFTA deal, if one can even exist.

Trump wants to tear up NAFTA, because he believes that his own negotiations can intimidate both allies and enemies into bowing to his demands. What he does not understand is that by doing so, he also risks establishing a worse deal and also alienating America.

While Trump was bashing Canada, Trudeau was involved in an interview with Bloomberg business, where went out of his way to kiss Trumps ass. Trudeau believes that Trump can be swayed with facts and discussion. I agree that this is the right approach with Trump, but we will have our first chance to see how successful this actually is in two weeks, when Trump's administration releases their NAFTA papers.


Prime Minister Trudeau should take caution regarding this approach, as he does not want to set a precedent with the Americans, where we continue to yield to their demands.  The North American Free Trade Agreement has arguably benefited both American and Canadian business, as trade between our countries remains strong.

What needs to be continually established however, is that Canada is a sovereign country that looks after its own, while working together with other countries regarding common interests. To bend over and allow more American dairy just because they make too much, is not an acceptable and healthy excuse for trade.

Until Next Time!

Thursday, 20 April 2017

A Shivering Premier in a Hot Housing Market

I am watching Premier Kathleen Wynne and Charles Sousa introduce their Fair Housing Plan and I must say I am both impressed and skeptical.

Wynne has mentioned a few times already how she is shivering, while approaching the microphone to answer questions in both English and kindergarten French.

Premier Wynne Praying this plan doesn't further fuck things up! Please elect me again!

It is no surprise that we have the government finally moving in to commit some action as an election is just around the corner. While this is a sad reality, it is cause for celebration, as the measures proposed actually seem sensible and effective.

As mentioned in my previous entries, the measures put forward will impose taxes on both non-residents and domestic speculation. I like how Minister Sousa called the speculation as it is, which is simply paper scalping of residential properties that haven't even been finished.

On the surface, these measures seem like something out of an NDP government, which isn't surprising as the Liberals have stolen many ideas from them.

There are some concerns however, regarding the information currently available for the government to work with. It seems rather odd that it has taken so long for the one entity in our country that should have the most up to date information available to them.

When questioned about the percentage of international speculators on the housing market, the minister couldn't speak without a stutter, which shows you he has no idea, granted the requirement of full disclosure is now being put into effect for all new purchases, this is something that should have happened years ago.

The very fact that Ontario and Vancouver have been put into this situation is signs of a direct lack of government due diligence in my opinion, if trends are emerging that show a need for action, our government should at the very least begin collecting information to make a decision. In the case of our current housing market, we haven't had any action for over a year and a half and until enough people have been priced out of their own cities and an increase of gentrification has caused public outcry.

To break down the important announcements today, I will list the changes coming both immediately and in the near future.


1. 15% non-resident tax on the purchase of a residential property. Subject to a rebate if individual is a full time enrolled student for 2 years and beyond or working within the province for more than a year after the purchase. 

2. Speculation targets that hope to curb paper flipping, which is when people purchase more than one property in a development only to leave them empty or flip them before the property is finished. 

3. Vacant home tax, if someone buys a home to leave it vacant as a potential money grab, they will end up paying a tax in order to balance the playing field a bit. 

4. More money and changes to regulations that prohibit cities from building more affordable housing. This is good, but also dangerous, as some cities are looking to transfer green belt land over to developers, which I would not agree with.

5. A freeze on property tax for apartment owners, which should result in less rent for occupants, but could also backfire if the benefits do not trickle down. Also, rent controls on newer buildings to ensure we no longer see rents doubling at the end of a lease period. 

While no capital gains tax increase was mentioned, I am pleased to see that some action is being taken to assist those in need of securing housing at a reasonable rate.

Our government is here to guide us and the current Wynne administration has been guilty of making many costly mistakes in just doing that. With this plan, there is great hope that some relief will come to the market and as such cool it down a bit. Hopefully, a correction results from this and any potential bubble created will not burst.

With an election on the horizon, the people of Ontario need to continue assessing just how effective the current government has been in their position of power. While these measures do bring hope, we all need to shake our heads as they came very very late into the initial crisis.

Strong leadership would have supported the notion of having a roof over ones head long ago and not just when the days count down toward an election.

Until Next Time!

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Bill O'Reilly and Gian Gomeshi: A Comparison

Today, Fox News ended its professional affiliation with Bill O'Reilly over various complaints of sexual harassment from his female colleagues.

For those of you who do not know this man, Bill O'Reilly is famous for his work as being one of the highest paid and also most popular television personalities on Fox News. His views tend to lean toward the right of the political spectrum, however he has also authored a few best selling books and in the past has made appearances on famous political satire shows like the Daily Show and the Colbert Report.

The announcement today has brought forward many parallels to what was witnessed during the Gian Ghomeshi trial in Toronto not too long ago. Ghomeshi was also a popular personality in Canadian media and like O'Reilly faced similar parallels when dropped by CBC.

While this news is a good sign for the movement to bring more justice forward for victims of sexual harassment, it also shows how fragile a media personality can be, when it comes to public image and acts of vice.

No one should have any sympathy for famous individuals who abuse their power and are found in a court of law to have actually committed a crime. While no jury has officially condemned O'Reilly, the very fact that suspicion and cause has been raised was enough to allow Fox to axe him.

Gian Ghomeshi has now begun hosting a new podcast as of late and has naturally witnessed some further backlash from the trial, even though he was acquitted of any criminal wrong doing.

The importance of protecting victims and also anyone deemed vulnerable is nothing new in society and more recently, we are witnessing more attention paid to the individuals who have been wronged by all kinds of violence. Whether justice has been served is based on the eye of the beholder, but one thing is for sure, many individuals in both the media and political sphere, need to ensure they watch their step to avoid a public backlash.

To further the topic of women and sexual harassment in the workplace, one might even further compare O'Reilly to Donald Trump and ask why a similar outcome did not occur with him? If anything, the current president of the United States, was accused by multiple women and also caught on various media formats expressing his lack of respect toward women in general. He not only won the election, but was deemed a savior among his support base, while both Ghomeshi and O'Reilly have experienced the exact opposite.

At the end of the day, the sad reality remains that if you are an individual of social stature and immense wealth, the laws of our society no longer apply to you as they do the common man. We have individuals in government that disrespect the rules and in many cases get away with little to no retribution (Think Mike Duffy), while others who have a following in the media or are considered a part of the 99%,become tarred and feathered simply by word of mouth.

I will be following the O'Reilly case in the coming months to see what actually occurs from the accusations and what results we are left with. I doubt Bill will have much trouble later on, as much of his base is similar to those who supported Donald Trump and as such will eat up any excuse to take attention off of those who have accused him of sexual harassment.

It is important to always remember that questioning authority and our government is the only way to bring any true change to fruition. If we continue to follow blindly and allow others to decipher the information we receive on a daily basis, we as a people essentially open up the possibility of losing more freedom to distraction and overall ignorance.

If the court deems that O'Reilly was in fact in the wrong and committed a crime, he should be held accountable for his actions like any other individual within society. 

Until Next Time!

Donald Trump Having a Cow

When Donald Trump first met with Justin Trudeau, many people felt that our Prime Minister stood his ground, while remaining respectful with the newly elected President.

The time has finally arrived, where that initial meeting and the common ground established will now be tested.
Is the Canadian Milk cow in danger?

Donald Trump has gone on the attack and has directly mentioned Canada, as a source of ill that is undermining American milk producers. Specifically, in Wisconsin, where over production is leading to a reaction in the free market that is affecting the bottom line of producers.

Trump has also mentioned NAFTA once again, which has now introduced various topics including his Buy American plan and the impact of a lack of regulations in Mexico.

Luckily, our ambassador has fired back by using common sense and truth to explain the reality of what is happening in the United States.

What is at stake? 

As we have currently seen, President Trump has a tendency to act on the fly and without much rational thought. What can occur from this incident is a domino effect that can essentially push Trump to get NAFTA talks on the table sooner, which could negatively affect many Canadians and Americans.

While the US has reason to negotiate NAFTA regarding Mexico, it also has to be careful how it steps around Canada, since many Americans rely on Canadian trade to remain employed.

What could also occur, is a destabilization between Canada, the US and Mexico, with Trump playing favorites, while leaving someone out. This might not actually happen right now, but if Trudeau actually left a positive impact on Trump, his administration might reap the benefits of it.

Footage of Trump having learned about the milk issues with Canada
If negotiations lead to lighter regulation regarding American milk, we may be opening up the door to directly dismantle our own dairy producers here at home. Canada has one of the most inefficient dairy sectors in the world, which requires assistance in order for it to compete. If American milk were allowed to flood our market en mass, we could witness the death of Canadian milk and the introduction of more quantity as opposed to quality.

It is time for Trudeau to implement another hard handshake and take a stand against Trump. We cannot sit aside, while this American bully continues to dictate to us, what we should do as a sovereign country!

Manners aside, sometimes it is important to tell an ally or friend when they step out of line, in order to do what is best to assist them.

Trudeau needs to defend Canadian interests, by not giving right in to Trumps demands and ensuring a fair discussion regarding any proposed changes to NAFTA!

Housing Market...Hot, Hot, Hot Update!

Yesterday, Mayor John Tory(Toronto) met with both Charles Sousa(Provincial) and Bill Morneau(Federal), in an emergency meeting over the unsustainable hot real estate market currently in the GTA.

The Three Amigo's to save the day?

While no new promises were made, the respective members of all three levels of government came together to discuss and compare notes on what could be done to cool the market, without plunging it and devastating many Canadians at the same time.

Surprisingly, with great optimism, all three individuals came out of the meeting further stressing the importance to provide relief and as soon as possible. Their intention is to table some kind of legislation within a week and before the next provincial budget, in order to get the ball rolling.

The plan? 


Attack fraudulent activity within the real estate sector, which is directly making the current boom a nightmare for many. Introduce measures that assist home buyers and attempt to level the playing field, while increasing supply to combat the current demand.

How will they achieve this?


 The Ontario government will introduce legislation that will represent a housing plan. This will most likely boost the requirements on developers to build more affordable housing into their projects, but also bring more money in to directly fund affordable housing projects.

Introducing new rent control will also most likely be on the table, as the only properties in Toronto that currently follow any kind of rent control, are those built before 1991. Originally, this was done to assist in a building boom, which in turn, would lower rents as supply became readily available, unfortunately that didn't work out exactly as planned. 

Another aim will be to target real estate agents who utilize bidding wars. By dissuading this type of behavior, the government is hoping that it will not only make it easier for a family to make an offer on a house, but will also allow people the time to properly secure the home before jumping at it.

One of the biggest issues right now in the GTA, is that many people are buying before actually looking at the home, since the bidding wars can result in a home being snatched quite quickly. This means that people are forgoing home inspections and not asking important questions regarding the home, such as: Has there ever been asbestos in this home or has the home ever had a flood or even if the home might be haunted? You can never be too safe, especially in some older neighborhoods in Toronto.

Where the government has already missed the point however, is in its lack of motivation to introduce an increased tax on Capital Gains.Currently, only 50% of realized Capital Gains are taxable in this country, which has motivated individuals to take a risk and buy up property, with no intention of even living in it.

One example of this, is the purchase of unfinished units. People have been purchasing unfinished condos very quickly, only to flip them before the official move in date as the price has most likely increased before then. While there is always a risk associated with these kinds of investments, the current market is literally giving a huge green light, due to how crazy the demand has grown for almost all kinds of housing. This is also contributes directly to an increase in prices, as the rampant purchasing alters the original supply for an almost instant profit.It is also money escaping the government, as people are able to do this quite easily with low interest rates and can purchase more than one unit at a time.

It is going to be important to keep an eye on the Ontario government in the coming weeks, as their legislation has the ability to greatly assist many people in Ontario, who just want to own their own residence.

We still have a very long road ahead of us before any meaningful solutions are implemented to greatly help all Canadians, but the biggest aim right now is to stop an overall crash in the market and also avoid the big R(ecession) word, since that is a word no one wants to hear with relation to a correction in the real estate market.

One thing is for sure, expect to see a lot more condo developments in your neighborhood, as the GTA is pretty much full, so the demand begins to spread to the surrounding areas and beyond just to cope.

Until Next Time!

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Housing Market...Hot, Hot, Hot!

This morning Mayor John Tory was interviewed by CBC regarding the current state of Toronto's housing market.

When asked what he could do as the Mayor in order to assist many Toronto natives, who are facing the reality of leaving the city in order to pursue home ownership, Mayor John Tory's short answer was that the problem is very complex and no one has the appropriate information to make a decision.


Depending on who you ask, the reason for such a boost in the housing market can range from greedy speculation to an influx of boomers retiring to a silent invasion of Chinese elites, who target Canadian cities to buy up cheap properties to launder their money.

The reality of the situation however, is that all of these reasons contribute to the overall state of the housing market in Toronto and also Vancouver.

It wouldn't be a stretch to understand that while the double cohort( Remember them?) is currently at the right age to purchase a home, their parents are currently seeking retirement and as a result want to downsize.

Many retirees are currently seeking a bungalow, which will ensure they have all of their necessary amenities on one floor, while they age and their lifestyle needs change. This, naturally, causes friction in the market, because the double cohort was so large, that high schools and universities had issues finding space for them and thus had to expand and adjust entry requirements. The housing market on the other hand is far behind in its capabilities to build fast enough to meet this same demand, which now puts us in the current housing bubble that we are in.

Throw in international entities that wish to purchase investments and or enter the market, then shake a little and throw in some domestic investors, who want to make a bang off of the hot market and we see Canada as a country entering very dangerous territory.

Many Canadians feel that this problem is only present in certain large cities, but with the impact that a housing bubble could have on many in those cities, the results could impact Canada as a country in terms of economic recession or even in a worse case scenario, something as dire as what happened south of the border in 2009.

Think interest rates, our dollar and the fact that many could become homeless if they no longer can afford their huge debt. Presently, 10% of Canada's GDP is currently in housing market, so even though the hottest markets are within two major cities, a domino effect is very possible.

What do we do?

This afternoon, Mayor John Tory will be meeting with Charles Sousa (Provincial Finance) and Bill Morneau (Federal Finance), to discuss what needs to be done moving forward to cool this market. This meeting will most likely return to the implementation of either taxing foreign investment or introducing a vacant land tax to target those who purchase property, with no intention of living in them.Another possible avenue taken would be to introduce a rise in the interest rates for borrowing or at least look into adding more regulation to the purchase of a home.

While these solutions may not provide an overnight solution to cooling the market, they will most likely help to either eliminate or regulate some of the contributing factors to the large increase in housing values in Toronto.

Ideally, the best solution would be to just build more housing and focus on high density living in order to take advantage of the current land available.

To compliment this, many transportation projects need to also be pushed to completion. If the market does not outright crash or correct itself, people will have to get used to the possibility of a commute to work. Utilizing a vehicle to do so would not be wise with the current rate of congestion much of our highways are experiencing, so alternate options are necessary to provided more options to people.

We can only hope that this afternoons meeting will result in a general consensus that more information is needed and as soon as possible. This will ensure that much of the current speculation people are utilizing to come to conclusions can be eliminated, as we target the main sources directly.

Updates to come as more information becomes available.

Until Then! 

Friday, 14 April 2017

Great Canadian Pot

Yesterday, after a much anticipated election promise, Justin Trudeau and his administration officially announced that marijuana will become legal for sale and consumption throughout all of Canada...In July of 2018....


While some may have begun partying and cheering at the announcement, others like myself are still scratching their head a little.

Why has it taken so long to make this a reality!? More importantly, why are people still being charged with possession, something that can greatly impact their working lives and mobility throughout the world?

Read a little further as I discuss my thoughts on the legislative framework put into place yesterday and #ThePoliticalPotMap that the Trudeau government has decided to rely on moving forward.

Legalization Deadline

 As of now, marijuana is slated to become officially legal in July of 2018, with an original date aimed at Canada Day.

While this may seem like an interesting way to integrate marijuana into Canadian cultural celebrations, I feel like the Trudeau government is missing the point on this.

Why would we want to celebrate both Canada and pot on the same day, when in reality, most people who consume marijuana have their own holiday, 4/20!?

Not Canada Day


Specifically, Trudeau's government has announced that the provinces have until July 2018 to implement their own individual distribution systems.

While I understand that it takes time to get legislation moving and put into place proper checks and balances, the government should have been moving much faster on this legislation, mainly because it will provide a much needed cash boost, while also opening up a more lucrative tourism market to the provinces.

Who wouldn't love the convenience of enjoying the beautiful sites of British Colombia or the life altering views of Niagara Falls, while puffing on some freshly cultivated, properly regulated, safe marijuana? Talk about the closest thing to having a green cash cow, almost entirely at your beck and call.

 Regulation 

Based on the information released, the system moving forward will most likely rely on a regulation system that will consist of permits issued to a set number of providers. While this may seem like a step in favor of pushing more black market pot, it actually allows the government to catch up and ensure regulation can be enforced early on. The last thing anyone wants is to allow for a free for all marijuana spree, that would initially be a logistical nightmare to both tax and also regulate for quality and safety.

While this will still allow for a place for underground pot, it will also slowly degrade the reliance on such sources over time. As the pricing is properly adjusted and the quality is confirmed, the idea is that people will rely more on the legitimately marketed pot as opposed to the shadier black market stuff.

If you want to think of the best comparison between alcohol and marijuana, this would be the point to rely on. While many people search out cheaper alcohol, it is often rare to find people actively seeking underground hooch or moonshine anymore, sure there are a few here and there, but nothing like the days of prohibition, which forced everyone underground and allowed organized crime to flourish.


 Penalties and Enforcement

 Reinforcing our current drug laws and legal limits is the most important aspect of pot legalization, even more so than the taxation of it.

Currently, there is no sure fire way to calculate who is beyond a certain limit and thus impaired to operate a vehicle. While many may argue that pot does not impair you, but rather heighten your senses, I say thank you, but no thank you. I don't trust most people driving while sober, let alone under the influence of something that alters their mind, regardless of the experiences had by some.

It has been almost a decade now that the New Democrats have called for both the decriminalization and legalization of marijuana, followed by the Green party, who have also actively campaigned on this promise.

The question that remains, is how legalization will now affect those who currently either hold records or are serving time for the possession and or distribution of marijuana?

Will the government issue an accelerated pardon system to target these past convictions, which as we see now, were the result of a failed campaign on controlling marijuana? While the regulation and enforcement of other harder drugs is still necessary, much of the time and money put into actively controlling marijuana can begin to ease up and become more of a check-in and fine system, similar to what you might see with municipal by-law.

This is good for job creation, as I imagine a multitude of paralegals and by-law enforcement will employ more Canadians, with work that will most likely not go out of demand any time soon.

Furthermore, the government should look to issue a call for a more specialized enforcement of marijuana. While Canada will stand united in its allowance of legalized pot, the reality is that every province will take their own approach to both distribution and enforcement. Think Quebec, with a corner store pot shop throughout Montreal and other tourist spots or Ontario with an LCBO stocking pot and rum a few feet away. The criminal code will be there for large infractions regarding pot and human life, but when someone is distributing a legal substance to people of the right age, do we still lock them up or just fine them based on the size of the infraction?

Pricing

To finish off, a very important aspect of legal pot was omitted entirely from yesterday's announcement. The government has not even hinted at confirming both GST/HST on pot sales.

Pricing will be crucial to turn people away from underground pot and help normalize legal pot.

At the moment, the price aim is between $9-$10 per gram. This would most likely either contain tax in it or be before the standard 12% tax rate.

Where timing is also important is regarding the marketing and pricing of legal pot. Had the government moved in a little faster, they could have not only begun reaping the financial benefits of legal pot, but also beat out already established American counterparts in the legal states.

With a lower Canadian dollar and a population that currently is not shy from encountering pot, this could unleash a buying spree from both domestic and international consumption in the form of tourism.

A real concern that all provinces should have is the initial rush on supply and the consequences of not ensuring a steady supply of legal pot upfront. Provinces should be organizing as soon as possible to establish pot zones in public spaces that not only allow for the consumption of legal pot, but also the necessary regulation to find a proper balance between domestic and international consumption.

Certain areas with the right marketing and social amenities, could essentially become tourist hubs within many Canadian cities that not only draw people for the legal pot, but also allow for the development and profiteering from Canadian culture through food and entertainment.

A little pot with your poutine eh?

Beaver tale with a joint?

Butter Tarts that will send you to the moon?

Space Gummies?

Lets do this right and make a lot of money for both the government and for individual Canadians, who may have some great ideas of safely marketing marijuana and further helping everyone just mellow out a bit!

Until July 2018...dude!


Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Nuclear Korea and Donald Trump

To begin, if you know someone who is currently working in South Korea, you may want to prepare their return home or at the very least...ensure they renegotiate any contract they are under for a larger sum.

While many South Koreans have become used to the threats posed by the North, the recent military maneuvers ordered by Donald Trump, not only spell the possibility of confrontation, but almost tease it directly.


After witnessing the missile strike ordered on a Syrian air base only last week, we now have an idea of the foreign policy or lack of it, that Donald Trumps administration is currently utilizing.

Much of this will greatly affect any response to North Korea's rising nuclear arsenal and also showcase more of #ThePoliticalRoadMap being utilized by Trump/

In order to make America great again, Donald Trump needs to show that the United States will not back down from international aggression that threatens it directly or any of its allies.

With North Korea, we are experiencing much of the same type of behavior that the country has utilized in the past.

The formula for this behavior can be simplified like this: 

Step 1: Create an aggressive situation: Aim artillery pieces at major cities for example or sink a commercial fishing boat via military attack.

Step 2: Threaten all out war if demands are not met. Usually food supplies and money.

Step 3: Continue aggressive propaganda campaign and stance until demands met.

Step 4: Back off after demands met until next opportunity presents itself.

Step 5: Declare international relevance through your perceived strength.

In many cases, North Korea could easily get away with this type of behavior and the international community would pat itself on the back as having accomplished a job well done.

Where the situation now changes, is that the North Korean leader Kim Jung Un, now possess nuclear weaponry( We think) and also the missile ability to deliver its payload ( Sometimes).


In order for Donald Trump to make America great again, he has to return the country to the status of world police, where it watches over freedom via a strong military order. If the recent command to maneuver an aircraft carrier strike force closer to the country says anything, it says that Trump isn't afraid of war and if North Korea is confident enough to launch a nuclear weapon, its likely target will be South Korea or the waters surrounding it, which spells bad news for a lot of innocent people.

The real question that remains is how will China respond to all of this? For those who do not know, China provides all of the essential support to North Korea in terms of food, money and military hardware. If the Chinese choose to support North Korea, they not only risk direct conflict with the United States, but also an economic response from the Trump administration, that could essentially put a large tariff or outright ban on Chinese goods into the United States.

While it is too early to tell exactly how this will play out, one can only hope that North Korea will take advice from its ally China and stand down its nuclear activities, if not to save its own people and current regime, but to avoid all out war that will inevitably end up destroying North Korea and potentially devaste the Korea peninsula as a whole.

Until Next Time!


Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Adult Assembly Required: Fake News

The term Fake News isn't real!

Surprised? Probably not, as we have been bombarded with the term Fake News as an action verb since the election of Donald Trump, in an effort to label news stories that are created in an effort to mislead.

The term has garnered so much traction in both regular and social media outlets, that people are even considering it as a tool that was used by the Russian government, in an effort to affect the recent American election.

 
I recently received a notification on my Facebook, updating me on new tools and initiatives that will identify and remove Fake News from my feed.

When I went to Google to do some searching, I was further updated that even Google is now implementing tools to combat Fake News as well.

While these initiatives may seem to be working in a positive manner to assist the common person, the reality of the situation is that we must be questioning these fact checking tools as much as we do media that we suspect is in fact Fake News.

Why you might ask? 


The simple answer is that by standing by and allowing someone else to fact check and inform us on what is true, we inherently put a lot of power into their hands.

As if it isn't bad enough that we have both Facebook and Google generating profit off of our daily social media and online activities, we are now allowing them to tell us what is true and was is not true.

This is the type of scenario that in the past would have regular media outlets questioned, as it becomes easy for information to be manipulated and thus further misleading.

Furthermore, Fake News isn't an accurate label in my personal opinion. What did we do before all of these people began labeling news as fake?

 It isn't a surprise that information has been made public in the past that was meant to either mislead or scare the general public.

Actual footage of Donald Trump driving to work. (Confirmed Real)

The difference between now and in the past is that people did much of the fact checking themselves or could rely on independent journalism that actually investigated the news stories first hand in order to expose information to the public, not to mention independent research conducted to provide official findings on certain subjects.

In today's modern world, we unfortunately cannot rely on journalism or unbiased research.

With companies becoming acquired by larger conglomerates, we essentially have billionaires owning and sometimes dismantling independent media, in an effort to increase profit and cut costs.

Where fake news becomes an issue now is that it is a response to a problem that was general created by social media.

While independent media may no longer thrive in the traditional sense, many people have gone online to continue conversations about the main topics.

Add in a fast network that reaches the entire world instantly and you can imagine the damage that can be created with false information and an intent to create hysteria.

What is also different however, is that people can not fact check on their own much easier than in the past.

We have search tools and online data available to determine what may be actual news that makes sense and what may be complete bullshit created by some kid in a basement.

The important focus on Fake News, is that we cannot allow this term as an excuse not to be informed. far too many people no longer take the time to pay attention to what happens around them and as a result become reactionary to current affairs.

 If we have someone who wishes to take advantage of people, what better way then to control the very tools that they now trust to tell them what is real and what isn't?

I have posted in the past regarding how social media has changed how we conduct politics.

No longer can a candidate run without some documented history on the internet, which provides transparency for the public and ammunition for adversaries.

The issue once again has been that many people just do not care to do the research, so they either put full trust into the words of others or remain uninformed, which is worse!

I want to leave you today with the advice to always remain vigilant with information and never be afraid to continue questioning anything.

We learn best when we question and with social media and the internet, we have the tools today to do just that. We just need to make the time and have a desire to actually care.

 Failure to do so not only erodes the quality of the information we intake, but also puts out Democracy and individual freedom at risk.

As an example, Many Americans hold the second amendment to heart for their freedom, they don't realize that their access to good information and vigilance in questioning that information does more to protect their freedom than any gun could ever do. 

Until Next Time!