December 20, 2005

US/Canada Relations Under the Bush Administration

Okay, so I watched the Canadian debates last week- French on Thursday and English on Friday, both from Vancouver, BC.

The format was simple. A pre-recorded question from an "ordinary" Canadian was shown to all of the candidates, after which they all had a chance to respond. There was to be no cross-conversations between leaders.

There were four main themes to the debates- national unity, governance, social policy, US/Canada relations.

On each topic, you could really tell that the leaders all held positions much further left than their US counterparts. The Conservative Party of Canada has similar positions to the American version (on topics such as "states rights", less governmental involvement/pro market) except on issues like health care where it would continue universal coverage and military involvement where it would see Canadians taking a peacekeeping role in the world.

The big topic for the evening was the issue of US/Canada relations. Last week, the US Ambassador to Cananda, David Wilkins, gave PM Paul Martin a warning that he should not try to make US/Canada relations an election issue. There is a NAFTA trade dispute between the two countries on the issue of softwood lumber. Basically, Canada claims (and NAFTA agrees) that the US owes them money and the US disagrees citing the WTO.

I really don't know what the motives of Ambassador Wilkins were. His comments only enraged Martin and helped his party rally support. Many Canadians, as I understand it, do not agree with the policies (among other things) of George Bush.

Now, there is talk of building a physical wall between the US and Canada to "protect" us from the terrorists who use Canada as a staging area. This is completely ridulous. If I was the PM of Canada, I would use that logic to begin the development of nuclear weapons. "Hey, we gotta protect ourselves." And you know, there is nothing more uninviting that a house that is completely surrounded by a fence.

I am sick and tired of the fear politicking that both US political parties are doing. All one has to do is site 9/11 or say that we need to protect ourselves from terrorists and a politician can get away with anything. What's even crazier is the number of Americans who believe this line. I am sorry, but I don't buy it.

This administration has done litte to promote friendship with existing allies- France, Canada, and Germany. My friends, there will be a day when the US needs some help from its friends. And the government had better be careful- the help may not be able to get over the wall.

December 17, 2005

Canadian Election - 1st Leaders Debate

As you may or may not know, the Canadians are having an election in January. The government of the Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin fell a few weeks ago on a straight no-confidence motion leading to the dissoution of Parliament by the Governor General.

A short primer- the Prime Minister of Canada is the leader of the political party which gets the majority of seats in the House of Commons (lower chamber of Parliament). The seats are divided by population within a province. These divisions are called ridings. Thus, Ontario, which has the largest population, has the most number of seats in the House. The upper house is the Senate whose members are appointed by the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister is a member of Parliament and represents a riding. Paul Martin represents a riding in Montreal, Quebec. If the party that has the most seats doesn't have more than the other parties combined, the government is called a minority government. The government can still function, but when a no-confidence motion is introduced in the House, the goverment may fall if all of the oppostion parties' members vote against the government. There is also a coalition government that may form when one or more parties formally join with the ruling party to form a sort of "super" party.

Last night, the leaders of Canada's four major political parties- the Liberals ("Grits"), the Conservatives ("Tories"), the New Democratic Party (NDP), and the Bloc Quebecois (Bloc) faced off in the first of two English language debates. There are a total of four debates with two in English and two in French. The first of the French debates took place Thursday night. These debates were held in Vancouver, BC.

The Liberal Party of Canada is lead by current Prime Minister Paul Martin who took office a couple of years ago and survived last year's election becoming the Prime Minister of a minority government. The Conservative Party of Canada is lead by Stephen Harper, the New Democrats are lead by Jack Layton, and the Bloc Quebecois, which only fields candidates in Quebec since it is for the sovereignty of Quebec, is lead by Gilles Duceppe.

In my next post... post debate reaction.

December 12, 2005

Saturday Fun at the Tim Hortons

Saturday, my roommate and I were in Erie, PA for something and stopped in one of the greatest "fast food" restaurants of all time- Tim Hortons.

If you haven't been, Tim Hortons is a Canadian chain that has made its way into the US through its parent company Wendy's. While there are none in the Cleveland area, there are several in Toledo, Columbus, and Erie.

The food is simple cafe fare: coffee, baguettes, soup, & donuts. One of my favorite things to get is the Iced Cappuccino. It is totally fake cappuccino, but it does the trick.

The atmosphere is relaxed. It reminds me of Panera Bread Co. And I think, Tim Horton was a famous Canadian hockey player. At least that is the impression that I got from the photos in the shop.

Next time you are looking for something different but strangely familiar (and you are near one), stop into a Tim Hortons.

December 09, 2005

GPS on Buses Formerly Known as Greenies

The Observer reports today that Case and Standard Parking are updating the Greenies by making them blue ("Case Blue" I would assume) and adding GPS tracking. Starting on the first-day-of-class for the Spring 2006 semester, riders will see info screens at the stops with the "time to next bus" and "type of bus" displayed.

This is all fine and good, but I won't deem the project a success unless it reduces the number of people who get on the wrong bus from the Village and try to get off the bus at non-scheduled stops.

December 08, 2005

Case on Slashdot

I was pleasantly surprised to see that this article was posted on Slashdot...

December 05, 2005

First Entry - Planet Case Widget


This is my first post on the Case Blog.

For those using Mac OS X Tiger, I have built on an Apple widget sample that is an RSS aggregator for the Planet Case feed.



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