Archive for September, 2010

Comment for today.

Monday, September 20th, 2010

They are picketing Parliament Hill for unproved science,

There are desperate MS patients who will give it license.


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Sunday, September 19th, 2010

Mr. Harper’s government meets parliament this week,

If the opposition has backbone, an election we’ll seek.


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Saturday, September 18th, 2010

It’s not farmer versus city slicker over long gun registry,

It’s women versus red necks who want long gun history.


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Friday, September 17th, 2010

Ignatieff and Layton are Toronto elites, says Tory Baird,

Each looks at the other saying:  ‘I didn’t know he cared.’


#81– The condominium neighbourhood.

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

Condominium living can be a warm and friendly experience.  It is what you make of it.  If you like people, enjoy talking to neighbours, sharing interests and the camaraderie of living in close proximity to your neighbourhood, condominium living can suit you.  The life style requires that you, along with your neighbours, take responsibility for the neighbourhood that is your total condominium complex.

But it is not for everybody.  Many people confuse condominium apartment towers with rental apartment towers.  They are not the same.  Rental towers offer anonymity.  You can live in a rental community for many years without ever bothering to know your neighbour beyond a curt nod when passing in the hall.  That is your choice.  It can be the same as choosing to be the grouch who turns off your porch light on Halloween in a neighbourhood of single family dwellings and streets full of children.

With condominium living comes responsibility.  When a judge recently ordered a woman to sell her condominium, it was because of her failure, in the judge’s view, to accept her responsibility to be part of the condominium community.  You ignore that community, its environs and amenities at your peril.  You can disagree on this or that issue with your neighbours if you wish but you have to also know when it is time to make common cause.

The biggest problem faced in condominiums is the annual election of directors and review of how your condominium is managed.  This is the part where you have got to pay attention.  Not all people who want to be on the condominium board are qualified.  Those who might be qualified are not always willing to stand for election.  Too often, condominium owners settle for people on their board who should never, ever be turned loose with a budget that can be in the millions of dollars.

Most owners rely on the condominium management that the board hires to do the real work in managing the condominium.  There are a few very good site managers in the business, there are many mediocre managers and there are some that can seriously shake your faith in your fellow human.  You do not always discern the difference in time.

But it all is in the hands of the board of directors.  When adding new people to the board each year, you really need to find out if the people are competent managers.  You need to understand why they want the position.  You need to understand their agenda.  Too often, boards become the resting place for the tired and retired, people who want to change the rules—for their benefit, not yours—and those seeking to stroke their egos.  It is a thankless job but you have to find the most competent people you can who will do the job and take the abuse.

Keep all that in mind and you will find that condominium living is a great life style.

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Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

We hear the NRA gun enthusiasts from the U.S.,

Object to Canada’s long gun registry’s  success,

Why’s  Mr. Harper gaining from all their stress?


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Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

A national drug plan is long overdue,

It will never happen in Harper’s view.


#80 – An open letter to the chair of the CRTC.

Monday, September 13th, 2010

Konrad is not a friend of ours and this is not a ‘dear Konrad’ letter.  Konrad von Finckenstein is chair of the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).  Last time we saw Konrad, he was looking very bored as a group of citizens were giving their opinions about the role of small market television stations and whether cable and satellite customers should contribute to the revenues of small market stations.  Carried to its logical conclusion, the discussion was about a proposal to annually give hundreds of millions of dollars of consumers’ money to Canada’s television networks.

Konrad, a long-serving civil servant, is under the gun from Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who appointed him chair of the CRTC.  Either Konrad comes up with a way to get the money to the television people or the Privy Council Office (under directions from the Prime Minister) will make it happen without Konrad’s help.  Rather than lose face, Konrad is now waiting for the Supreme Court of Canada to tell him that he has the right to order the broadcast distribution undertakings (BDU—which are mainly cable and satellite companies) to the table to arrange to give the television networks some of their customers’ money.

It is all very complicated because on top of everything else, the BDUs have turned around and bought all the television networks—except the CBC.  (And if you want to buy the CBC, you should be quick to make an offer to the Prime Minister before he cuts all funding and starves it to death.)

But this letter to Konrad is about the BDUs’ take-overs of television networks.  Shaw Cable taking over Global Television was one thing but Bell Canada taking full control of CTV is an entirely different situation.  Shaw Cable taking over Global was an act of mercy to rescue Global from being pulled under with the rest of the crumbling Asper media empire.

But Bell Canada running CTV is a recipe for disaster.  Not since Bell’s then chairman, Jean Monty, dumped Nortel’s shares from the Bell Canada Enterprises portfolio has Bell made a good business decision.  Monty used to talk about convergence of technologies and ever since he left the company in 2002, the company has meandered aimlessly in search of a strategy.  The problem has been that Monty was mistranslated.  He was actually talking about confluence.  Confluence is when two streams meet and combine to create a larger river.

When Bell’s public relations people translated what he said, they thought he meant convergence.  When two objects converge, they try to occupy the same space and time.  Convergences cause train wrecks and other awkward events.

CTV and Bell are a train wreck rushing toward each other on the same track.  The only good news about the proposed re-jigging of Bell’s media interests is that the Thompson family get to take back the Toronto Globe and Mail.  If there is any business acumen left in the family’s gene pool, they might be rescuing one of the major assets in the portfolio.

The other good news in the Bell takeover is the forthcoming departure of Ivan Fecan from CTV.  Ivan is the guy running CTV at the moment and he is not only famous for that floor-mop hairdo but he is the guy who bid $100 million too much to take the Vancouver Olympics away from the CBC.  It must be inflation that you can now say ‘What’s a 100 million dollars?’

The point here for Konrad is that Bell’s stated purpose in controlling CTV is to have access to CTV’s programming capabilities to enhance Bell’s mobile and home TV offerings.  This implies exclusivity and a serious potential for unfair business practices. Back when promoting the concept of the CRTC some 50 years ago, the idea was to stop this type of media control from happening.  Every time media concentration has been studied over the past 60 years, the answer has always come back that it is a very bad idea.  Media concentration in the hands of incompetent management is even worse.

Tell you what Konrad, before you approve the takeover of CTV by Bell Canada, let’s get together and talk about what a well-run, public-spirited, fair-minded, patriotic, honest and upstanding corporation Bell Canada might be if it had management that gave a damn.

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Sunday, September 12th, 2010

The Harper government wants to send more to jail,

Crime stats are down, we’ll have to scrape the pail.


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Saturday, September 11th, 2010

If Bell Canada takes over running of CTV,

What can it really matter to you and me?

They’ll outsource the news at less rupee.

It’ll end free commercial sports you see.

And Big Brother will thrive on Bell TV!