Month: September 2017

by André Marin André Marin No Comments

Donald Trump versus Kim Jong-Un

It’s mildly amusing to witness the back and forth between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea leader Kim Jong-Un. Until, of course, you realize they both have nuclear arsenals. The U.S.’s potent nuclear weapons could, in fact, “totally destroy” North Korea as Trump threatened he might do at some point. North Korea’s capabilities grow by the weeks and months.

In his speech last week at the United Nations, Trump referred to Kim as the “Rocket Man,” just as he had tweeted a few days before. Although he undoubtedly thought he was cleverly attacking Kim, there’s no doubt in my mind that the North Korea leader felt a rush when he heard Trump. That’s exactly what Kim has always wanted – to be recognized as “a player” on the world stage. Someone with rockets.

But not to be outdone, Kim lobbed one back at Trump calling him a “mentally deranged dotard,” which sent us to google what exactly is a “dotard?” The first internet hit tells us a dotard is “an old person, especially one who has become weak or senile.” For example, a speech by a world leader referring repeatedly to the African country Namibia as “Nambia” would fit the bill, just like Trump did last week.

Trump wanted the last word and tweeted back that Kim is “obviously a madman who doesn’t mind starving or killing his people.”

Now Kim is looking at detonating a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific Ocean.

Trump has made it a career to divide and concur. Whether it’s in producing his reality show The Apprentice or setting up his staff to duels in the Whitehouse, he loves to pit people against each other. He was at it again on Thursday declaring that China had taken a “very bold” move in ordering its banks to stop trading with Kim’s regime. Just one problem – a spokesman for China quickly said that Trump’s comments are not “consistent with the facts.”

Meanwhile, Russia’s urging “hot heads” to calm down. When China and Russia are looking like the grown-ups in the room, we know how bad the situation has become.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s speech at the UN was described in some news reports as “out of step” with other leaders who were trying to outdo each other with grandiose views of world problems. The inside baseball 30-minute speech was mostly about Canada’s bad treatment of its Indigenous people.

Perhaps that came across bland and boring amidst the childish back and forth pugilism of Trump and Kim, but sometimes keeping your head down while you walk by insanity gives you the distance to come back as an honest broker.

Perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself, but I hope that that was the strategy. Trudeau skillfully avoided being dragged into commenting on the raging tit-for-tat saying: “As always I will pay close attention to what our American friends and neighbours have to say…But it’s not my job to opine.”

Fair enough. But now that both North Korea and the U.S. are firmly entrenched in their war of words, Canada is perfectly positioned to make its move behind the scenes to end this madness before it ends us.

by André Marin André Marin No Comments

Wynne betrays PM’s promise

Seldom has a government been so out of touch with voters than the Kathleen Wynne’s provincial government approach to selling pot.

Remember, we are talking here not about the de-criminalization of the consumption of pot but the federal government making it full-out legal, or recreational, as you will, as of July 1, 2018.

The decision of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to legalize pot use was not a rogue one. It was one of his main planks of the last federal election that drove primarily youth, but also others, to rush to the ballot box to vote liberal.

You’d expect Wynne’s government to embrace the decision and facilitate the sale of pot. But no, what we’re getting is a puritanical, post-prohibition-era-style distribution system that will result in pot shaming those who had hoped that their federal liberal vote meant something.

Wynne’s method of following through with Trudeau’s wildly popular promise? Open LCBO-run pot shops. 40 next summer when the legalization kicks in, 80 by year end, then topping it up to 150 standalone marijuana stores by 2020. By contrast, there are over 800 LCBOs in Ontario.

To put it in perspective, given Ontario’s population of nearly 14 million, this translates into 0.00000571 stores per person the first year of legalization. How will this stem the flow of pot through the black market?

On Friday, Wynne dispatched her three princes of darkness to explain the evolution of the nanny state in dealing with pot.

Attorney General Yasir Naqvi wagged his fingers, sounding an ominous tone, distancing himself from his federal cousins. He said: “Legalization is taking place at the federal level. It’s not a matter of supporting or opposing.” Which is beyond the point. His job is to make it available in a way that won’t feed the black-market and doesn’t perpetuate the stigma associated with its use.

Finance Minister Charles Sousa in his baritone voice cheered about how well the “LCBO model works,” so let’s go that way. Sure it works! You want craft beer, you can only go to a certain supermarket where only a type of Ontario wine will also be sold. You might need to hunt down another supermarket for another type of wine. Corner stores? Don’t even think about it. Spirits? LCBO only. It’s a mishmash of rules that don’t make any sense. Great model indeed.

Then there was Health Minister Eric Hoskins talking the evils of marijuana and its health implications. A conversation held and concluded many years ago. Alcohol is far worse for your health.

Finally, in an ode to the mid-century style LCBOs, if you happen to make it to the government pot shop the actual stuff will be hidden from plain view. God forbid if your eyes made contact with it, you might have nightmares. Maybe we’ll also have to don a brown paper bag over our heads before entering the stores. You wouldn’t want your neighbour to see you there.

And the government promises not to use the stores as a cash cow. Don’t believe that one in a second. Booze and cigarettes are taxed to death. There’s no way it’ll be different for pot.

Trudeau’s promise to legalize pot has been turned into clickbait. It’s a betrayal of Trudeau’s extremely popular promise by Wynne’s liberals.

Wynne’s been leading a campaign-style government for the last year, giving away free pharma, free education, huge hikes to the minimum wage etc. Her backwards approach to making pot available may yet prove to be her albatross in next June’s election. You read it here first.

by André Marin André Marin No Comments

More oversight needed in the airline industry

There was a time where governments and airlines appeared to care about the travelling public.

The federal government created an Air Travel Complaints Commissioner in August 2000. He described his first six months on the job as “hell” because carriers, especially (and not surprisingly) Air Canada weren’t cooperating with his investigations of complaints of shoddy service. Commissioner Bruce Hood said two years into his new job that “there are horror stories… but I think it’s getting better. 17 years later we know how wrong a prediction that was. His office vanished sometime after 2004 and any trace of his office has been scrubbed from the federal government websites.

Anyone who’s taken to the skies will know that it’s generally not a pleasant experience. Being bumped from flights, endless inexplicable delays and shoddy service are the norm, not the exception. And Air Canada is far from being the worst carrier. All of them south of the border are bad.

This week in a rare hearing, the Canadian Transport Agency got an earful about the horrors arising from two planes suffering a 5 and 6-hour tarmac delay in Ottawa on July 31, 2017. It’s quite the brouhaha. Passengers sitting in sweltering heat, tempers rising, a stench permeating the plane, the plane running out of toilet paper and people having panic attacks.

They were offered passengers a $400 credit for future use. I can’t imagine any passenger wanting to fly Air Transat again.

The hearing is pretty much a circus with everyone in authority passing the buck. Ottawa International Airport Authority said the provision of fuel, water and food to passengers is not the responsibility of the airport. Besides, the airline or its ground contractors never asked for help.

The air crew denied much of the evidence of passengers.

Air Transat appeared to blame the airport. The captains of the two flights being investigated also passed the buck citing “circumstances beyond their control” and that they kept being told over and over that it was only a 30 minutes delay.

If it hadn’t been for a passenger calling 911, those planes may still be sitting on the tarmac.

Transportation Minister Marc Garneau recently tabled a bill to create a new passenger bill of rights and specify new compensation levels. The devil’s in the details and we don’t have them yet. They are to be worked out by the CTA.

Air passenger rights advocate Gabor Lukacs feels the CTA and the airlines are too cozy and has little faith in the agency, adding: “This makes absolutely no sense and this is nothing short of entrusting the fox guarding the hen house.”