Friday, 21 July 2017

De Minimis Trump

If you haven't heard, President Trump is working on renegotiating NAFTA in order to get a better deal.

Ever since he first made reference to Canada being an unfair player, many people began to wonder just how Trump could influence our spending power and affect us, aside from the obvious stuff, like import tariffs on our exported goods.

This is where the De Minimis term comes into play and becomes very important to the average Canada. De Minimis, simply translated from Latin, means something of insignificance or of little importance to merit review. To many Canadians, Trump is in and of himself a De Minimis, however if Trudeau's Liberals were smart, they would use our current De Minimis of $20.00 as a weapon to ease the might(stupid) Trump!

If you buy anything from the United States and have it delivered via mail, you are usually subject to Duty on anything over $20.00, not to mention the shipping costs, coupled in with any fluctuations on the dollar. This can make the entire process very frustrating and expensive if you live too far from the border to drive, which Canadian retailers like.

You see, for the past 20 years or so, Canadian retailers have fought hard to ensure our De Minimis      ( Say that 10 times fast) is low in order to maintain domestic consumption. Our American counterparts recently had an increase added to their limits under the Obama administration, which increased their De Minimis from $200 to $800!

While this is good for the average American, it also directly translated into something great for Canadian exporters.

Canadians as a result, have been long overdue for an increase and based on the price gouging that we do experience here, with the closure of many brick and mortar stores, it appears the conditions are perfect to begin looking at an increase.

Many Canadians will argue that this is bad for domestic business, since it will take tax revenue from the governments hands and further kill our domestic retailers, however I disagree with this. Our domestic retailers in many cases are no longer domestic in the true sense, many of these retailers are American owned and when the time came that Canada was at parity with the United States, insisted on keeping their prices higher, while using shipping and dollar fluctuations as an excuse.

Not to mention that our world is changing, which is allowing us to purchase a wide variety of products from anywhere, which sometimes still work out to being cheaper even with the duty and shipping calculated.

Trump wants to boost American exports and domestic manufacturing, so it makes sense to have our government play into him, while really just doing something that will allow the average Canadian more choice and boost their personal abilities. Not to mention, increased shipping via parcel will directly benefit someone currently hurting for more business, that someone being Canada Post.

Where the government might lose out on some duty, Canada Post will more than recoup the loss in increased revenue, which is good for them, good for the increased demand and jobs to come and good for all other parcel companies looking to continue an expansion among Canadian clients.

So I say, bring on your demands Trump. You are a De Minimis to all Canadians, until you actually do something that benefits all Canadians.

Ask not what you can do for Trump, ask what Trump can do for you!

-The Political Road Map

Monday, 10 July 2017

How Facebook Can Eliminate Fake News

Since the election of Donald Trump as President, the term Fake News has become more common in both social media and regular media streams. For many of us, it has become tiring, as anyone and everyone begins utilizing Fake News to disrupt any meaningful argument that opposes their point of view.

While Fake News can be seriously annoying, it can also be very disruptive to our democracy and how people essentially collect their information. By introducing doubt into the sources available for information, people can develop a sour taste and thus avoid researching important topics that can affect how they vote and think. Fake News as I have made reference to in previous posts, is essentially nothing new, but poses a toxic threat in a world with fast internet connections and instant answers.

Due to the importance of social media in our every day lives, it makes sense then that Google and Facebook have a responsibility to take action in order to address Fake News. More importantly, for their own reputations, it is important they do not become a direct platform that contributes to the spread of misinformation and hate speech.

In March of this year, it was announced that both Facebook and Google had decided to start policing their platforms in order to tag and remove fake or disputed articles. At first, I took great caution to the direction both social media entities were taking, since they were essentially proposing to inform users on what information is valid and what is invalid. While this may seem innocent and proper, I do not believe anyone should sacrifice their ability to determine what is real, simply by allowing a large corporation to tell them what is in fact truth.

Many of us are adults and should have the capabilities to discern what is misleading from what is valid through searching the web or simply discussing the topic with others.

If Facebook wants to continue making profits off of our general interests and topics posted, they need to ensure that those with a motive to spread misleading information cannot use their advertising as a vehicle to do so.

A simple approach to resolving this would be to ensure that users have the tools necessary to isolate suspect material and quickly confirm if the information is actually valid. For example, in our modern world, information moves quick, so if something is suspicious, a user can simply highlight the heading of an article and right click to access a quick web engine search for verification.

By allowing people to install or incorporate a widget, much like they do to eliminate pop ups, you continue to give them the power to control the information they intake. Google can easily achieve this through the creation of said widget or by partnering with social media outlets to allow some form of instant check to be conducted at the users request.

Luckily, Facebook decided not to continue with their original plan to inform users on what is valid, but instead has installed fail safes that will target status updates that may contain links or keywords that have originally been refuted or reported by someone.

If you discover something that is directly misleading or a proponent of hate speech, you simply report it to Facebook and once investigated, it will be flagged, in order to avoid others from accidentally sharing it and further spreading the disinformation.

Throw in some quick gadgets from Google and this system can not only ensure that Fake News finds a quick end, but also enables users to continue their personal due diligence, when it comes to the kind of information they encounter and their power to influence it.

How do you feel about Fake News? Have you encountered it on a regular basis and if so, how do you respond?

Do you agree with the direction of allowing people to police the information they receive or should more of a centralized effort be maintained that controls what information people are exposed to?

-The Political Road Map

Friday, 7 July 2017

Oh Canada, Our Canada!

Canada has just turned 150 years old and while this is a milestone worthy of great celebration, it is important to remember that our country is actually much older.

As we look at the past 150 years, many Canadians have different interpretations on what exactly it has meant. The truth is that while our country is the best in the world, it has had a spotty record with regards to how it has treated certain minority groups, indigenous groups and as of late the environment.

To understand all of this, it is important to question what truly makes someone Canadian? While we are a country of immigrants, many people believe they are a native Canadian simply be being born in this country and as such live by its stereotypical Canadian image. There is some truth to this in the legal sense of the definition, however being Canadian is so much more than Maple Syrup, Poutine and even the flag.

When the "new" world was discovered and explorers from all nations braved to visit it and meets its inhabitants, much was discussed with regards to a wild natural land that challenged even the mightiest of people. As such, people came here in search of a new life and the riches and demons that came with it. The Hudson's Bay Company, which is now 347 years old, was created to facilitate an economy between Europe and these inhabitants.

Being Canadian, was not simply being born into this country, but by experiencing it, surviving it. Living in an area that could test you with its hot and humid summers, while also try and kill you with its long and dark winters. Canadians became resilient beings as they worked together to fight off nature and the many things within it that could kill them. 

At times, this would require alliances with anyone also experiencing the same conditions, as everyone became equal in the face of adversity, while at other times this would lead to genocide and massacre in an effort to secure resources and land.

Fast forward hundreds of years and you have a Canada that becomes an independent nation, not by war, but because of the financial strains incurred by war and empire on the British. We are truly a country of politics and discussion, but just because we didn't fight a war for our freedom, doesn't mean we are innocent by any means. In all truth, no country can claim to be innocent of any harm, but it is important to recognize this and remedy it in any way possible.

Looking at 2017, Canada is a much different place than before or at Confederation. Now, instead of fearing and fighting to control it, man must learn to recover nature and live peacefully with it. We live in a world that is much more connected and one that claims to be more advanced.

While much has changed, much still remains the same. People are still fighting with each other and politics is still bloody and dirty in many ways. Our indigenous allies, many of whom are just as Canadian as anyone born here from immigrant parents, are living in squalor and in need of a brotherly hand.

Our government has spoken greatly regarding the need to atone to tragedies of the past, but unfortunately has decided to remain at giving nice speeches and has yet to actually do anything.
Our country is still divided, Canada is not one country, but a combination of four distinct groups: English speaking Canada, Alberta, The Indigenous and Quebec.

And all the while, we celebrate 150 years of living, fighting and surviving the growing pains that this beautiful country of Canada has gone through.

The time now arrives, where Canadians must continue to define ourselves in new ways and provide an example to the world on how we can not only make amends for our past errors, but also move forward with a focus on unity and truth. We are a country of Peace, Order and Good Government and must continue to utilize this as a way of improving life for everyone, equally.

While there are buildings in Europe still standing that are older than the Canada of 2017, everyone must look forward to the next 150 years, or 50 years in my case, with the optimism of contributing toward a Canada that defines the world and is not defined by it.

Congratulations on reaching 150 years of age Canada, you don't look a year over 100, but there is still much more to be done and luckily, many great people in this country ready!

-The Political Road Map