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Everything's running badly now because of people, and Prasad's Law.


During the pandemic, we worried about McJobs, the service folks behind the register. But people who need background to do their job, training and time-in-job to know it, are not replaced merely with money, it takes time and experience. Businesses lose, what, 5% of them every year, to retirement and babies and career change? But we probably lost 15%-20% of them in a lot of businesses, during the two years, not 10%.

And did almost no hiring. Why? The airlines were closed. No need. There WAS money, at least in the States; in 2020, the airlines were handed a $19B in federal funds - not long after they'd handed out about $19B in stock buy-backs. But, why not just keep the money? Always the investor preference.

Prasad's Law suggests there's always a stickiness to hiring, a tendency to stretch existing staff. Now our ERs and our airlines all have so many missing files, and it's hard to train staff when the would-be trainers are going 110% to keep up 75% service.

A good free market, with many airlines that were smaller, might have shown some real free market action: a few airlines would have kept staff, would be running at full, investors would notice, good behaviour rewarded, better service would come. But, they're an oligopoly. It's not really a free market, no more than Canadian telecommunications is. (The Rogers screwup will likely be found to be systemic employee errors, where there were several of them that collided into a 'perfect storm', from their own pandemic personnel losses.)

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I returned to Canada during the Orewellian common sense thingy. There can be no denying the visciousness with which the least powerful Ontario population was attacked. The changes being demanded came at breakneck speed. Municipalities of all sizes suddenly had social housing dropped in their laps, along with an envelope of the only pittance they would get to keep people housed. Income assistance became workfare which hit women with children with full force. Etc…. The ‘winners’ were the taxpayers who, instead of paying for the needs of those in dire straits at that time, have continued to pay for them and their trickledown results to this day.

The Wynne government ended up with an inherited debt with a significant number of zeros, and an opportunity to undertake a policy of investment rather spending. Instead of fixing the things that needed fixing, and still do, it took a road that went nowhere really good, with a lot of scenic side trips. The fact that they continued to use Mike Harris as a reason to avoid fixing things was just sad. Not incorrect but useless, since it doesn’t matter how the patient broke the leg, it still needs attention. I expect this lead to the complete loss of support amidst a lot of anger. And this is an excellent example of what happens when you refuse to take responsibility for something when it is in your court.

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Toronto is 50 years of studies not followed by actions. Growing up there 50 years, ago, they were studying what to do with the Gardiner Expressway. 50 years; no changes. There is no plan.

The aviation industry is in full meltdown. There were significant pilot and controller shortages coming into COVID globally, but lets focus on Canada. These are not problems quickly overcome, as the learning process takes time, as does gaining the experience to move into the more complex roles. In short, aviation is going to be a mess for the foreseeable future; airlines need to check with crew scheduling, and then come out with a schedule that reflects the staff they have as opposed what they could do 5 years ago.

Oh boy!! Another task force. Sounds about as useful as farting at a hurricane. I would suggest the PMO; the office that runs the country is as paralysed as the government that is actually supposed to be doing it. They hold up shiny objects like the Pope's visit to distract from a collapsing healthcare system, a collapsing transportation system, a collapsed military, a failure of the civil service to approach provision of the most basic of government services while the debt spirals without a shred of a plan from any party as to how to reel it in.

They're just going through the motions now; overwhelmed and curled up in the corner in the fetal position but devoid of solutions for anything. It's all rather pitiful.

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Courtesy requires two things to begin.

First, I offer my condolences to Ms. Gerson for her loss.

Second, I must make clear that I am grateful that you (collective "you," to be sure) are back. I AM able to find intelligent commentary other than The Line but ...... it is rare, indeed. So, again, I am very happy that you are back. On that vein, I will have to check out The Hub; thank you for the mention.

Now, some comments; please understand that you have many topics this week so I have many (bloviating, to be sure) comments this week.

Jen, you clearly denigrate Danielle Smith's proposed Sovereignty Act, among other reasons, that it will purport to allow Alberta to abrogate federal law in federal jurisdiction, at least in terms of it's application to Alberta. I must - gently - advise that (as I understand it, anyway) you are slightly/completely/utterly incorrect.

As I understand it [yeah, qualifier, I know], the proposed SA is intended to deal with federal law that actually intrudes on PROVINCIAL jurisdiction as defined in Sections 92 and 92A of the Constitution of Canada. Additionally, where the federal government passes legislation that violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (of which there have been a multitude over the past few years), the Alberta government would be authorized to say, "Thank you, but not here." As I understand it, of course.

Now, for what would constitute examples of federal overstepping into provincial jurisdiction I can certainly think of many such example but, clearly, some of those have been with the agreement of the provinces (including Alberta), for example, health care. Others, there are examples of which I can think where the province held hearing on topics and came to a conclusion and the feds came to a contrary conclusion. I will leave that there and make no further assertions on that point other than to say I have written (last month, so recently) to an organization that purports to champion the SA and suggested that they publish examples of such violations. In turn, they wrote back (two weeks ago) to say, effectively, "Wizard idea; we will get right on that." No further response so far so I await those examples. I have some examples but I will leave them alone and await "authoritative" folks to provide their "ammunition."

Would that very limited contrary action provoke a constitutional crisis? I really think not; on the other hand, who knows with the current knuckleheads? I have heard DS answer folks who call her a separatist and her response is that she doesn't want to separate; what she does want, she says, is a "re-federation," i.e. a re-worked confederation. I for one absolutely believe that is essential or Canada will fly apart. On the other hand, perhaps it should. But that is a topic for another day.

So, Jen, I do believe - with respect, and very humbly, my dear - that you have that incorrect; let's just put it that way and forget that nasty word, "wrongo."

Okay, personal admission: I joint the UCP (first political party ever for me) to vote against Jason Kenney and I am now a supporter of DS. So sue me.

Next, after Jen finished her screed (thank you Matt for that descriptive), Mr. Gurney calls us "Big Sky Country" - note the capital "C". Please, Sir, Alberta is absolutely NOT Big Sky Country; that is Montana.

Mr. G. I absolutely agree with your commentary on the difference between blame and responsibility. The fact is that all oppositions place blame; that is fair. What is not fair is that when that opposition becomes government they keep blaming the last guy: "Yeah, but Harper..." Far better that the "new" government say, "The old guy did X wrong so here is how we are going to fix it." Simply put, no government wants to take responsibility as it may get in the way of taking credit. Dumbasses!

Jen, perhaps I missed it in the written form but in the video you comment about Alberta not collecting enough taxes to cover their costs. You are correct. I have been talking about that (endlessly, tiresomely, say family and friends) for years. It is not, you understand, that I WANT higher taxes; it is simply that we cannot avoid higher taxes. You (and Matt, also) talk about the level of services that we in Alberta expect, nay demand, to receive. Again, you are correct. We Albertans are spoiled and too stupid to recognize that fact.

Our "loyal" [quotation marks: does that tell you something?] swivel servants earn, on average, more than many similar public employees across the country. That comes as we have for many years had too much money and the politicians have bought off the public employees with higher wages and benefits for a long, long time. Ralph Klein didn't start it but he sure accelerated it by paying higher amounts to entice employees from Saskatchewan and BC. Dumbass!

The problem is that we, the public, are spoiled; we expect / demand far, far too much from our government and are not willing to pay for it. Right now, the UCP leadership candidates are all saying that the next "guy" [four candidates are women, three are men but I will use the generic "guy" nevertheless; again, so sue me] wants a sales tax, something that is verboten in Alberta politics.

There is one candidate (sorry Jen, again, you missed this; oh, you have been away) who did legitimately talk about a sales tax a few years ago when oil was in negative territory and it was clear that the royalties were so minuscule that we had to look at other financing. She also talked about it recently where she said that, really, we need to get our spending in order so that it matches what we raise from taxation, whether we limit that to income tax, fuel taxes, sales tax, etc. and that royalties should be saved. That was not much remarked upon but the ultimate point is that we need to figure out just WHAT SERVICES we want and that will be a difficult situation, you can be certain. Then we need to figure out what we are willing to pay for those services and how to pay for it. Obviously, we cannot use resource revenues endlessly.

Matt, your commentary on the "Russian turbine affair" simply confirmed my view of the JT style and approach to government: awful and unprincipled. But what is new?

I do understand that there are people who end up voting for the Liberals by a process of elimination. I don't agree but I do understand. What I do not understand is how anyone, I mean ANYONE, can be enthusiastic about JT personally.

And so ends my rebuttal screed; again, so glad to have you back.

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I live in Brampton. I take bicycle rides in various parts of TO in the summer. I'll second the opinion: TO is not nice to look at. Dundas Square is lipstick on a pig. The only place worth putting around in is Bloor St (just about anywhere, especially High Park area) and the Lakeshore. Everywhere else is meh at best.

There used to be conversations (maybe still are) comparing Chicago to TO. The Chicago project was *carefully planned*. Its waterfront is fantastic. You can still see it from the downtown area. Its streets are clean. Transportation is efficient. That's on top of the city's great historical monuments. Al in all, its the city Toronto should have tried to become, and didn't

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Jul 24, 2022·edited Jul 24, 2022

I think what people misinterperate in the Alberta Soveriegnty act is they consider it to be separation, when in fact it is turning the tables on what the Federal Government has been doing to Alberta since 2015. The Province has been following the rules and regulations that are in fact "unconstitutional" or outside the Federal Government's jurisdiction to impose until it makes its way to the Supreme Court to be judged. If the Federal Government is truly with in its juridiction (which it is not as per the Constitution) then and only then will the Province comply. The rest is about doing as Quebec does and Collecting our own taxes, pension, Immigration, and have our own Firearms Regulator, and police force, for Provincial autonomy.

Its not about separation or leaving Canada. Until the Supreme Court can judge on the unconstitutionallity of the laws, rules, and regualtions, Alberta will continue to follow what is written in the Constitution. Not the other way around.

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The passport problem is way different than the airport problem. COVID did not result in any federal workers losing their jobs. On the other hand, tons of airline industry workers left the business. The current demand for passports is lower than the pre-COVID period and the number of passport employees is the same, if not greater. So I really don't understand why they can't issue passports. Did they all forget how to do their job?

Regarding the idea of stopping the blame game; 100% agree. We spend far too much time figuring out who's at fault and not nearly enough time fixing the problem.

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A plaque saying "Fix the Problem not the Blame" should be placed above many many desks in this country.

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"We think we spend too much time assigning blame. We need to start spending more time finding solutions." This, so much.

And with this comes a willingness to admit, maybe, we don't know what the solution is yet, and start trying things at a small scale to figure stuff out before we throw huge dollars at it (or keep stalling with another task force).

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On Ukraine, I'm not even prepared to listen to crapping upon my own country, not while France and Germany are so below us on the Ukraine Support Tracker:


Germany and especially France can start chipping in, proportionate to their larger size than Canada, their much closer proximity. We are fighting (via our support for Ukraine) FOR THEM, as well, to get them out of the damn mess they dug themselves into, trusting Russia to control their electricity and winter heat.

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I used to visit Toronto frequently a long time ago and was back there just before Covid. I had forgotten how truly ethnically diverse it is. I had also forgotten how dynamic - in good and ways - downtown is. Finally I truly love how they sprinkle crazy people in an egalitarian way all through downtown. In my City they are mostly in one neighbourhood. For the three days I was in town there was a lady outside our hotel who screamed angrily at everyone who came down the street. Her energy and dedication were impressive.

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I was not in this country when Toronto decided to undertake a kind of Grand Plan that brought the suburbs under the metro blanket. From my non-TO vantage point, it seems to me that this has impeded the city’s progress and City Council reflects this. Am I right?

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Firstly, condolonces to Jen and her family.

I think there is a typo in "that the return of the PIPELINE wouldn’t prevent Russia from continuing to choke gas supplies to Europe". Is it possible you meant to say TURBINE?

Great dispatche. I'm happy to have read it and watched the video. Great points on "blame" vs "responsibility". I am certainly guilty as charged.

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Jul 25, 2022·edited Jul 25, 2022

There is zero traction for an Alberta separatist or sovereignty movement. None. The elite and opinion makers don't support it and quite frankly Albertans aren't rebels. They don't have the will or stomach for it. Union or an association with the US though, yeah that can take off. It would have support from the opinion makers and elite from the top down. Central Canada can only kick down Alberta's movers and shakers so much before it looks for a new suitor. Ottawa has been so focused on Quebec and the Montreal Liberal Party for unity that it has forgotten about the rest of the country.

Toronto, one of the worlds most generous immigration systems doesn't build a city. It requires investment and leadership as well and Toronto suffers from a pathetically risk adverse elite that quite frankly isn't so sure about the world city thing. A big fish in small pond is fine, but a big pond?

Toronto is so wound up the city can't be managed properly and the leaders don't even trust corner stores to sell beer on a cold day let alone let the plebs have a cold one in the park. Mediocre Laurentian leadership in Toronto holds it back more than anything IMHO.

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With respect to Danielle Smith, there is a logic to her decisions if you look deeper. At here floor crossing in 2015, she had predicted that a divided conservative government could not win against the NDP which ultimately proved to be true. With respect to vaccine mandates and federal decisions, her views paralleled a lot of rural Alberta which had one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country. This contributed to a lot of the flack around Jason Kenney, the increased infection rates, and his subsequent demise.

Similarly the Equalization Referendum and Sovereignty Act, although they will likely never succeed, at least indicate that Alberta has a bit of a problem with climate plan. Note that Saskatchewan has notionally said very similar things. It is like throwing rocks at the tanks when the Russians invaded in 1968 as it is more for the visual effect than anything else.

The challenge against the carbon tax however was different. It did have a possibility of succeeding because the carbon tax was both a pure carbon tax and a cap-and-trade effort in which the federal government could target industry sectors. Doug Ford dropped the cap-and-trade legislation that Kathleen Wynne brought in and Trudeau brings it back to tame Alberta's carbon emissions.

Why make this an election issue? Because climate change action is an existential threat to Alberta. About 70% of Alberta's exports are still oil and gas so anything you do to Alberta's oil and gas sector directly affects the incomes of all Albertans. There was a time before heavy oil helped Saskatchewan's income when I got to see some of this first hand. At the time the government was taking some primary roads and converting them back into gravel because hey didn't have the money to maintain them. To anyone in the oil and gas business, Steven Guilbeault is about as threatening as a gorilla with an assault rifle.

Will urban Alberta forgive Danielle Smith her foibles enough to elect her rather the leader of a party which is demonstrably anti resource industry? Rachel Notley has only avoided flack because she is politically invisible for the moment. I predict a political cat fight.

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