Resolving Timeline Issues

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This week’s Girl Talk Thursday is about getting your bitch on. Let it all out. Please note, there is more than one f-bomb in here.

I’d normally have posted yesterday, but yesterday I really didn’t have anything to bitch about. My life is pretty good. The thing I’m going to bitch about offends me deeply, on a fundamental level.

That thing happens to be Jacques Rogge. And the IOC in general.

Last night, the Canadian Women’s Hockey Team beat their US counterparts in the Olympic Gold Medal game. And I say beat rather than “won against” because the Canadian ladies blanked the US ladies 2-0. It was awesome and I am so incredibly proud of our women for dominating the game from the outset.

After the game, they got their beer on and went out onto the ice after all the spectators had left and climbed on the zamboni. And the IOC is all offended by this, and Hockey Canada, being Canadian has apologized.

NEWSFLASH: Hockey players like to drink beer after the game! Also, the sky is blue!

THEN, and OMG my blood pressure (for real this time), Jacques Rogge says something about how women’s hockey will have to become more international and widespread and not so dominated by two countries if it is to stay in the Olympics.

Really, Jacques? Really? Never mind that it took half a century for men’s hockey to become internationally competitive.

And how dare you, you arrogant prick – you couldn’t even wait until after the Olympics were said and done and let the women have their moment?

Fuck you, Jacques Rogge. You owe an apology to all female hockey players, especially the Canadian and American women, who, through no fault of their own, grew up playing with the boys and men. This is how they train. How about the IOC put money where their mouth is to encourage women in other countries to train with the men, and allow girls into boys’ leagues like they do here?

You also owe an apology to the Finnish women who are spectacular in their own right, and all the women all over the world who have fought against cultural stances that may prevent women from participating in traditionally male-dominated sports.

And you owe an apology to Canada and the US – for being so disrespectful that you can’t even let us have our moment.

Fuck you, Jacques Rogge.

Can we talk? Seriously. This will be kind of random, but I have some categories.

1. Swine Flu

So swine flu, which apparently has nothing to do with flying pigs (oh come on, laugh a little).

My parents winter in Mexico. Every year on December 31 they pack up their minivan and go to bed early. Bright and early on January 1, they start driving. And they drive for awhile through the continental United States and about a week later they arrive in Mexico. A couple of days after that they arrive in the Manzanillo/Melaque area (Puerto Vallarta is the nearest major city there and is still a ways away). And then my mom bakes in the Mexican sun for a couple of months.

This year, there was an absolutely horrible virus going around and all the gringos tourists caught it. The doctors didn’t know what to do and even the doctors were getting sick. Both of my parents got it – it took my mom 2 weeks to fully recover and dad 10 days or so. Mom said it took a week for the fever to go away. A couple of people were hospitalized for a few days. And who knows where it came from. Signs and symptoms are the same as for what is being reported for swine flu.

Easter is the first major-ish sort of holiday in Mexico. And about that time, all the people from the major inland cities go on vacation. Much like people in Vancouver go to the Okanagan or Whistler or Vancouver Island for a long weekend, people from, oh say Mexico City, go to the coastal areas. Like Manzanillo. And then they go home.

In other words, this virus has been around since at least February. It only started getting press when it got transported to a city of 20 million people (more than half the population of Canada – think about the population density) and started moving from person to person.

The rules are the same: wash your hands often with hot water and soap, don’t touch your face, stay home if you don’t feel good.

2. The Barbeque (here’s where you get to give advice!)

I went out on the patio today to clean the barbeque so we can, oh I don’t know, GRILL THIS YEAR so I don’t have to heat up the house when I make dinner, and learned a very important lesson: every fall when you shut down your bbq, make sure you clean it properly or it will attract wasps the next year when you want to use it again.

Just sayin’. There were  a couple of wasps having lunch in there. I slammed the lid shut again, and went and got a can of wasp and hornet killer (because really, I hate wasps with the fire of 10 000 suns). And then I thought: I am 37 and a half weeks pregnant. I shouldn’t be using this stuff.

So I left the bbq and am now at a bit of a loss of what to do with it. Its a good grill and we like it and its only about a year old (natural gas). So far my plan of attack is:

  • Convince Darren to do it. Use sexual favours if necessary (because really, an 8.5 month pregnant woman is the height of sexy)

If anyone else has a better idea, please leave a comment.

3. Baby

The Poptart now has a gestational age of 8.5 months. And I am so ready to be done with this.

I had an appointment yesterday:

Blood Pressure: 116/60 (or something, I was tired and not really listening)
Baby heart rate: 154
Fundal height: 39 (or about a half a week ahead)
Strep B (and you do not want to know how they test for this!): negative
Hemoglobin: 119 (apparently this is good and I am not anemic)

Generally, I am healthy as a horse. Or a pig without swine flu, presumably.

Update: I was trying to explain how likely you are to get swine flu, but Mrs. Flinger does a much better job of it – and explains why you’re more likely to find a snake in your toilet than get swine flu. Snakes in a toilet? Freaky. I would run far and fast because I hate snakes more than I hate wasps.

While 69% of the Canadian population agrees with the Governor General’s choice to prorogue Parliament, I don’t fall into that statistic. Frankly, I think it sucks and in this case sets a very dangerous precedent: allowing a government that has lost the confidence of the house to avoid a confidence vote.

(More later when I don’t feel quite so deathlike – I can only hope the “it hurts to breathe and hurts more to cough” goes away by tomorrow; yes I have been to the doctor who says its viral, and since I’m knocked up, I can’t take anything to make me more comfortable).

Election news update: The news services say the Prime Minister will take his symbolic walk to the Governor General’s residence and ask her to dissolve parliament on Sunday. Be ready to go to the polls on October 14.

Unless, of course, she refuses to dissolve parliament and creates a constitutional crisis.

Warning: this is quite long, so make sure you have a cup of coffee.

Before I start on this series, I should say: I’m not doing this to tell you how to vote or even influence your vote. Quite honestly, I live in BC; I don’t care how you vote. By the time we vote, the decision is already made. Also, I tend to flip my vote depending on how I feel, the issues of the day, and the alignment of the stars (KIDDING, people, KIDDING). Just vote, dammit. Have your say. I’m doing this because I think there isn’t a lot of education in Canada on How The System Actually Works. What it boils down to is this: Canadians don’t vote for people; we vote for parties. Whoever forms the government is dependent on the concentration of votes in each federal riding.

Pre-required reading: Vocabulary (definitions from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary Online):

Plurality: a number greater than another b: an excess of votes over those cast for an opposing candidate c: a number of votes cast for a candidate in a contest of more than two candidates that is greater than the number cast for any other candidate but not more than half the total votes cast

Majority: the group or political party having the greater number of votes (as in a legislature)
Minority: a group having less than the number of votes necessary for control
Cabinet: a body of advisers of a head of state (2): a similar advisory council of a governor of a state or a mayor.
Prime Minister: the official head of a cabinet or ministry; especially : the chief executive of a parliamentary government.
Popular: uitable to the majority: as a: adapted to or indicative of the understanding and taste of the majority <a popular history of the war> b: suited to the means of the majority.
Power: possession of control, authority, or influence over others b: one having such power; specifically : a sovereign state c: a controlling group : establishment —often used in the phrase the powers that be
Influence: the act or power of producing an effect without apparent exertion of force or direct exercise of command b: corrupt interference with authority for personal gain4: the power or capacity of causing an effect in indirect or intangible ways : sway5: one that exerts influence

Now, I assume most Canadians, Brits, and anyone else with a Parliamentary System of Government (as opposed to Presidential or hybrid or non-democratic), know something about this. Although, you’d be surprised. I spent today explaining to coworkers What A Minority Government Actually Means for Getting Things Done. So here you go.

The House of Commons (the main decision-making body and akin to the House of Representatives in the US) currently has 308 members; seats are assigned on the basis of population in the provinces. According to Wikipedia:

The House of Commons is composed of 308 members,[1] each of whom represents a single electoral district (also called a riding). Law requires that there be a minimum of 282 electoral districts; there are currently 308. Seats are distributed among the provinces in proportion to population, as determined by each decennial census, subject to the following exceptions made by the constitution. Firstly, the “senatorial clause” guarantees that each province will have at least as many Members of Parliament as Senators. Secondly, the “grandfather clause” guarantees each province has at least as many Members of Parliament now as it had in 1986. Finally, no province may lose more than fifteen per cent of its seats after a single decennial census.

What this means is populous provinces, specifically Ontario (106 seats), Quebec (75 seats), BC (36 seats) and to some extent Alberta (28 seats), have the largest number of seats. Between them Ontario and Quebec have a majority of the seats. By the time the election reaches the West Coast, due to the time change the election is decided. Because of this, awhile back a law was passed that news stations cannot publish vote results until the polls close in BC.

Fine and dandy, but if the polls close at 8pm in BC, at 8:00:02pm, the first results are already published from Atlantic Canada, Quebec and Ontario. Sometimes Manitoba. And if there is a majority vote, then the election is decided.

Now here’s the kicker: a Member of Parliament does not have to get a majority is his/her riding in order to win the seat. They only have to get a plurality (the most) of votes. So if 1000 votes are cast in a riding, and Candidate A gets 200 votes, Candidate B gets 301 votes, and Candidate C gets 499 votes, Candidate C wins the seat.

With me so far?

The party that forms the government (Prime Minister – or “first among equals” – and Cabinet – other Members of Parliament who get a minister portfolio or Secretary position and are appointed by the Prime Minister) is usually the party with a majority of seats in Parliament (50% plus 1 seat) or the most (a plurality) of seats. As I stated in the previous post, the Governor General can appoint another party to become the government if he/she feels the party with the most seats is unable to Get Things Done.

Here’s the hard part: because of this system, the percentage of the popular vote (percentage of votes actually cast excluding spoiled ballots) required for a majority government is around 38%. Give or take a percentage or two.

Go ahead. Get yourself a drink (or something to smoke/eat/whatever) and go and reread that. Yes, fellow Canadians, that often means our government is not elected by a majority of individuals. Its all dependent on the concentration of votes in each riding, because the party that forms the government has the most seats in Parliament.

Generally. Like I said before, the Governor General can appoint whoever he/she likes to form the government. By convention, this is only done in the case when a single party does not get a majority of seats.

For example, if the Rhino Party gets 155 seats, it forms the government. And this is where it gets kind of fucked up.

Parties in Canada tend to tow (toe?) the party line. That means if the Rhino Party is in power, all Rhinos vote in favour of the legislation proposed by Cabinet. If the Rhino Party in Canada has 155 seats (a majority), the legislation is passed by the House of Commons and sent to the Senate for approval (usually a rubber-stamp deal), and then the Governor General for Royal Assent (a technicality due to Constitutional issues).

We trundled along quite merrily for a number of years (12? 14? something like that) with majority governments, which are considered stable because the government is guaranteed to stay in power. In Canada, this means that the government of the day still has to call elections but has up to 5 years to call said election. After 5 years of being in power, its a Constitutional requirement to have an election.

A few years back, Jean Chretien resigned from politics. There was a leadership convention for the Liberals and Paul Martin (former Minister of Finance) won the vote. More information on the various parties will be in future posts, however this is the key: at the next general election, the Liberal party ended up with a minority government.

So why does this matter?

In a minority government (a government with a plurality of seats), the government of the day must work with other parties in order to have legislation passed.

Let me repeat that: THE GOVERNMENT OF THE DAY MUST WORK WITH OTHER PARTIES IN ORDER TO HAVE LEGISLATION PASSED. This means that under a minority government, the government of the day must resign if they do not receive the confidence of the Parliament – that is, the Parliament must approve the bill (usually confined only to money or rights bills, unless the government of the day wishes to call it a confidence vote). In the late 1970’s Joe Clark became Prime Minister of a minority government and the government collapsed when he couldn’t get a budget passed because he refused to work with other parties.

I’ll get more into recent history because this is way too long already, but suffice it to say that the last two governments in Ottawa have been minority governments. We’ve been trundling along quite merrily with first a Liberal minority government, and now a Conservative one. Generally, the parties will play nicely together because at the end of the day the goals are the same – its the getting there they disagree on.

There’s not a huge reason for an election right now: there hasn’t been a confidence vote, however Stephen Harper met with the other leaders to see if something could be worked out. Apparently, it can’t. So its off to the polls.

Next up: Leaders, Parties and Politics, oh my!


Posted on: June 25, 2008

Seriously, folks. This is just too good and deserves an “I told you so”.

Despite increasing fares so that a round trip from Vancouver to Surrey costs in the vicinity of $10 now (oh and don’t forget the TL Board’s raises – that they approved themselves), TransLink is facing a $300 million shortfall by 2012.

You see, there are two ways TL can raise money. The first is to increase fares. The second is to increase property taxes. 

Yes, that’s right. An unelected board can raise your property taxes. And whether you rent or own (or the bank owns it), you’ll feel the hit.

So write your mayor (and all mayoral candidates). And let them know what you think.

More later, but for now I have to go to work.

July 2020


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