Life is Belief & Struggle - Ahmed Shawqi

Monday, April 2, 2018

If only they were just a little brighter!

There is a reason we call them 'dippers' . Nice try!

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Swooning on Ford

I have just finished listening to a CBC radio interview with Doug Ford.  I am about to swoon.  I don’t swoon often, but no provincial taxes for those making under $30,000 a year. It won’t help me, I will still be paying taxes, but with job churning, I am surrounded by people who make under $30,000 who are really struggling just to get by. But the real swoon moment came when he said he was in favour of the privatization of pot stores – can I get an ‘Amen’.

Now he did say, he needs to consult and discuss this issue with his caucus and hear their thoughts, but in his personal opinion, he favours letting the private sector run it.

I haven’t been able to determine just how much Wynne intends to spend getting into the retail pot business, but the most recent article I have on the January 2018 CBC article suggests it could take at least 2 years before the province sees a return on their initial retail investment.

We do know that the Liberals have already spent $650,000 for the new logo and branding/marketing strategy. Although, why the Wynne government believes they need an officially branding/marketing strategy for a product that is already widely consumed illicitly and the government will have an absolute monopoly on the legal retail trade once legalization happens this July - providing the Liberals win the election …but hey, it’s Wynne and another Liberal spending cluster fuck…so Bob's your uncle.

The truth is, no one knows, what the demand/market for legalized pot will be but letting the private sector take the risk for establishing  retail pot stores  makes far more sense than a top heavy investment by government in the retail sector and hoping to break even in a few years.

I suggest you listen to the full interview.  Robyn Bresnahan is rather hostile but the Doug keeps his cool and keep in mind the kind of efficiencies Ford is discussing is not making multi-million dollar investments in the risky retail sector or even buying Canada Goose Jackets youth correctional facilities workers….oh yes, the Wynne government did.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Ford Nation

Doug Ford is not Trump on the Stump.

And if you think so you are an idiot and the sloppiest of thinkers.  The only valid comparison which can be made between Donald Trump and Doug Ford; is how both men intuit just how out of touch traditional mainstream candidates are within the body politic they seek to lead. Unlike Trump, Ford will not be running on a platform centered on immigration control and anti-globalization.  Go to a Ford rally, and you will bask in a sea of colour and ethnicity.  The only classes missing are the Laurentian liberals and the dipper progs.

For the last 20 years, I have dumbfounded and left dazed at the PC Ontario party for consistently choosing the most publically unpalatable party leaders imaginable. After each leadership convention, I would shake my head and think – what were they thinking?  After Patrick Brown’s election, I was busy trying to decide if I could convince myself to hold my nose and vote NDP or just not vote. After all, why vote for a Liberal in Conservative clothing when, there was a real liberal running? If the best you can offer the people of Ontario is more of the same, that isn’t sufficient motivation, to vote PC. Or even a motivation for voting.  Period.  

I admit, as of today, in my ‘perfect’ world, Doug Ford is Premier with Andrea Horwath as a strong leader of the opposition.  She’ll keep the Laurentian Tory political class honest and minding the Doug. Those are the same Tories who have done their best to keep the PC party a closed club and are in the process of being caught mired in all manner of nefarious activities recently.  Let’s be real, there is a great deal wrong with the Ontario PC party, and that disaster of a party convention yesterday showed up their incompetence up – big time.  I was busy watching Rosemary Barton on the CBC and was almost feeling sorry for her. Or I would have been if only she would stop playing with her hair.  

Unlike Mike Crawley (who has done a superb job of covering the convention and the aftermath) I don’t have any ‘sources’ but I suspect that it was known by 3pm that Doug Ford was the elected leader and Elliott was doing her best to suck and blow the vote.  I admit it’s too rich for my blood to read Elliott’s claim of too many voting ‘irregularities’ when she was the only candidate to object to extending the vote when it came to light how many members did not get their pins so they could vote.  Nothing says your time is up and passed like Mike Harris telling the CBC his daughter didn’t get her pin so she could not vote. And Frank Klees, jezus, who knew he wear outrage so righteously!  And here I thought he was just another blowhard…

As for the Tories, whose idea was it to think now is the hour for Caroline Mulroney’s first foray into the political life as a potential candidate for Premier of one of the largest provinces? This, at the time - when Mr. Dress up is playing Prime Minister.  This is the ultimate in the hubris of stupidity - words fail me.  But that’s the type of thinking which shines as the best idea in the provincial Big Brain Tory Trust Box.

Although, I would concede a slight similarity to Trump’s election since Christine Elliott is on the fast track to being the candidate most likely to be become the Hillary Clinton of Canadian politics.  

Doug Ford is not his brother, and it’s a grave mistake to confuse them.  But at  a time when Ontario is about to legalize and control the selling of marijuana, I’d rather have a Ford at the provincial helm of a pot business than Kathleen Wynne, a premier who is on-track to be the premier most likely to run a loss selling drugs. At least Doug Ford is rumoured to have knowledge of the market and an understanding of the clientele.

A lot of people misunderstand the so-called rise of popularism.  It only rises when there is entrenched political elite who are grossly out of touch with the people they seek to lead.  Let’s talk sex education in the province.  Dalton McGuinty tried, saw the outrage, and wisely backed off.  Wynne, saw the outraged, and gave the giant middle finger to the parents of Ontario since she had her majority in the provincial parliament.  Her justification was that the sex ed curriculum had not been updated in 20 years but the problem with this line of thinking is; neither biology, sex or parents wanting the final say when it comes to the introduction of sexual behaviour to their children had changed since the 90’s.  

The electorate is telling you that they aren’t on board with politics as usual. They are tired of having their elected bettors attempt to use ‘nudge theory’ or ‘economic carrot/sticks’ to engineer us into their ideal of being better people.  No one in government is wise enough to tell me how to live my life or at least any life I want to live.

In  1978, instead of going to my high school prom, I came to Toronto to join a  protest against housing discrimination towards Gays and Lesbians.  I am the one who had an elderly white woman with a walker spit on me in a public washroom for being on a lunch date with a black man.  I am the one who had ‘Kill the Jew’ craved into her door in the middle of downtown Toronto in early 2000’s.  And I am a blue, not a red, Tory.  
For all those so called Tories who claim moral smugness and claim they won’t vote for Doug Ford, I tell you truly;  your Laurentian is showing and that is just so déclassé in 2018.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Patrick Brown is just like Herpes, just when you think relief is at hand, it flares up again.

I have to admit, Patrick Brown, creeps me out and always did.  I had an instinctual visceral dislike of the man.  My first reaction was to his election to the provincial conservative candidate was Jesus Christ, not again.  Nobody can pick losers like the Ontario Tories.   This is why the Liberals keep winning elections but the Ontario Tory brain trust just haven’t figured that out yet.   

Watching the post election behavior of Patrick Brown just left me with a bad taste in my mouth. And that people’s guarantee nonsense. Let me point it this way, if you will stab a third of your base in the back; why wouldn’t you stab me?  I admit, as long as Brown was the Tory leader I wasn’t voting for him. It is not that I wanted another Wynne term but what was the alternative? You need to give me a reason to vote and I admit I was willing to sit out this election until… the ‘sex’ scandal broke.

I admit I was shocked as I really thought Brown was the most likely candidate to come out of the closet a la Jim McGreevy style with a full court press.  Allegedly plying young women with alcohol in order to have sex with them definitely fit the Brown vibe I was feeling and was/is totally believable.  Not illegal, but nonetheless, it is still morally reprehensible behaviour.

You would have thought that Brown would have figured it out - since the Tories have been ‘leaderless’ they are now  way, way ahead in the polls, but no, he keeps coming back.  Party membership scandal, Rick Dykstra scandal, allegedly selling riding nominations, and now this. His party doesn’t want him, the voters of this province sure as hell never wanted him, but he keeps coming back. 

Just like herpes. 

I will be willing to vote for Christine Elliott or even Doug Ford since neither candidate can be worse than Wynne, but not Mulroney.  One Mulroney is more than enough for any country, and hell no for Patrick Brown.  

In fact, now I am motivated to vote against both Wynne and potentially Brown.  If I have to I will mark an  ‘X’ for Andrea Horwath and then go live in the backwoods of New Brunswick with my mother. And trust me, living with my mother, that's desperate.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Loblaw joins the ranks of Corporate Job Churners

Did you catch the latest employment news this week for Canada?  Loblaw’s is laying off 500 Office workers but no worries since Loblaw’s intends to hire even more workers in the coming year than it is laying off today – yeah, really. CBC

Loblaw Companies Ltd. has begun laying off 500 people from offices across the country, even as the company says it plans to add jobs later this year.

"As part of a broad cost-control effort we have begun eliminating corporate office roles, including various executives, members of management and colleagues at all levels," spokesperson Kevin Groh said in a statement, adding that the move will have "no effect on hourly store jobs." …

"We will continue to invest and we will be a net job creator again this year," Groh said.

What annoys me is how those who are opponents of raising the minimum wage in Ontario use this type of corporate action to beat supporters who favour the coming rise in minimum wages, but it’s a twig and not a cudgel.  These were office workers and not minimum wage retail workers; they have skills and experience and probably make well over the minimum wage and who were received benefits and corporate pensions contributions. 

And ironically, no one has questioned Loblaw’s - as to how it is possible to be a ‘net job creator’  (for this year no less) – if they are laying off 500 skilled and experienced employees in the here and now.  In the past, when you saw thousands or hundreds of workers laid off you saw a company that was significantly downgrading their operations but Loblaw’s isn’t doing that. No one keeps 500 superfluous office workers  hanging around  without work – well, all except Loblaw’s - if they are to be believed.  If  I was a young and hungry litigator starting out I would be using social media to reach out to many of those laid off workers who were in striking distance of ‘retirement’ age. But I digress. 

On the face of it, the Loblaw’s announcement defies logic. 

That is, unless you take a detailed look at current Canadian corporate employment strategy.  Offshore as much of your operation to overseas workers and for those positions which cannot be off-shored; hire local contract temporary workers from a temporary agency.  In fact, it is far cheaper to hire contract temporary workers and pay an agency fee than to hire permanent workers.  Companies have no holiday pay, benefits or pension benefits to pay out with contract temporary workers and there are no time limits beyond the ‘contract’ period which can be renewed indefinitely and at the same rate.  Also, it is the temporary agency which assumes the majority of liability for workman’s compensation should a claim arise – a not so inconsiderable cost saving.

It’s win-win for situation for all corporate companies operating in Canada, and they are all doing it.  From manufacturing to fisheries, to insurance and banking, communication companies to grocers. Our labour laws are so woefully out of date to protect Canadian workers from our homegrown Crony capitalists who literally do nothing but lay awake at night coming up with new ways to game the system. 

And if you think anyone in the professional political class will protect you one day from the widespread corporate exploitation of Canadian workers, think again. The Conservative party is the party of Crony Capitalism, and has fine tuned crafting laws to help ease off-shoring and the rise of temporary agencies.  The Greens are too busy policing what is in your garbage can and what light bulbs you use. The NDP is too busy fighting the last millennium issues or promoting ‘open borders’ and economic rights of migrants regardless of how it depresses wages for millions of ordinary working class Canadians. And the Liberals, well Moneybags Morneau even went so far as to warn young workers to get use to the new ‘reality’.
Welcome to the new Feudal age. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Judith and Holofernes

One of my favourite old master painters is Artemisia Gentileschi – an Italian Baroque painter (circa 1600’s). She had a colourful life, and since the rise of the feminist movement and the search for ‘women’ artists - there is a renewed interest in her work. 

While the modern Feminism movement might have brought Artemisia to my attention; it is her use of light to create a sense of movement in her paintings and her portrayal of women in her paintings that held my attention. 

 Artemisia’s women are all womanly flesh, bone and blood. There is a complexity and a haunting realism in her women that I often find missing in other old masters.  All of which brings me in this Chanukah season to a common theme of Judith and Holofernes.

There are two common ways Judith is protrayed in old master’s paintings. Judith will be painted with almost a man’s body with the breasts tacked on as a bit of an after thought. She will often possession the demure of some kind of shrinking violet with the face of innocence and purity which all leaves the suggestion; Judith is really incapable of killing a mouse.

Artemisia was heavily influenced by Caravaggio but I believe she surpassed his talent.

This is Caravaggio’s Judith beheading Holofernes. Notice how Caravaggio’s Judith looks so young and naive, hardly capable of coming up with a plan of action to behead a man to win a war; let alone have the wherewithal to carry it out.

Caravaggio’s Judith looks horrified by the act she is in the midst of committing.  And it is Judith’s elderly maid who is the sinister one here. Judith’s elderly servant is painted to as a foil to Judith’s youthful innocence.  The servant acts as a kind of evil crone to egg on Judith to behead Holofernes.

Contrast this with the strength and resolve of Artemisia's Judith. This is a woman who can make a war plan and has the wherewithal to see it carried out to victory.