Support Edouard Maurice

UPDATE:

The rally in support of the Maurice family will be held at the Okotoks courthouse on Friday, March 9 at 9am. A map to the location is below and some more details can be found at the facebook event page linked here.

Along with the account and email address below, a “fundrayzr” page has been set up for the Maurice family as well. Click here. 

 

 

Edouard (Eddie) Maurice of the Okotoks area is facing three charges of aggravated assault along with firearm charges due to an event that happened on his property early in the morning of Saturday February 24.

As has become an unfortunate trend in Canada, the victim is treated as the criminal should they choose to defend their family and property from intruders.

Defending one’s property and family should not lead to imprisonment and possible bankruptcy.

While Maurice’s case works through the court system, a great deal of financial and emotional pressure will be placed on Maurice and his family. Legal fees and living expenses will become acute as time is consumed with his defense.

That is why friends and supporters are raising funds to ease these burdens on the Maurice family in the months to come in a trust fund.

A trust account at TD Bank has been set up by Travis Dunn (family friend) which will gather and hold funds on behalf of Maurice.

Donations can be made to any branch of TD to account number 8079-6142303 and e transfers can be sent to helpeddiemaurice@gmail.com

A rally is being organized to show support for Eddie Maurice on the morning of Friday March 9 at the Okotoks court house where Maurice will be appearing that day. I will add details for the rally as I get them.

Financial support is welcome and critical.

Showing support through the rally and online helps too. We need to let the Maurice family know that fellow Albertans will stand by them even if the “justice” system may not.

Rural Albertans are tired of being victimized by criminals and being victimized by the system when they try to defend themselves. Rural crime rates are exploding and people can’t be expected to wait up to 40 minutes for aid to arrive. Self-defense of family and property is essential.

Please consider sending some funds to help the Maurice family and try to find time to come to the rally. This is so important to the Maurice family and all of us.

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Thinking outside the box on homelessness.


Less than a month ago, Calgary’s ambitious ten year plan to end homelessness came to an end. While Calgary bureaucrats and folks within the established social services industry are trying to sugarcoat the outcome, it is clear that the plan was an abject failure. With roughly 3,200 people remaining homeless after a decade of effort, there really is no reasonable way to call the plan a success. That is down a few hundred folks but then again, Calgary’s population growth has been stunted this last few years. The plan was supposed to end homelessness either way, not simply slow the growth of it.

As with so many programs spawned by the establishment, they insist on linear thinking and placing more merit on the intention of their plan than they do with the outcome. Rather than look at the ten year plan as a failure, most of those in the homeless industry (and it is an industry) keep insisting that we need to follow the same path and perhaps spend even more money.

The first thing that needs be added to plans to address homelessness is a strong dose of reality. Homelessness will never be ended, it can only be mitigated. Let’s stop setting lofty but unrealistic goals and model plans based on what can actually be accomplished. We can reduce and mitigate homelessness and need to set our goals based on that.

It is in everybody’s interest to reduce homelessness. Homelessness impacts us all and costs us all through social services, correctional services and health care costs. Every homeless person who can be permanently housed helps reduce pressures on society on all levels and we need to seek those secure homes for these people where they may have a better chance of stabilizing their lives.

Shelters are important but who can really build a stable life when living in such conditions over the long term? How can one settle down, maintain a job, build personal possessions and get that ever important sense of self worth while living on a cot?

Investment in support services for addiction and mental health is critical of course. Simply putting a roof over the head of a homeless person does little to address the root issues that got that person into a state of homelessness in the first place. People need support to get off the street and stay off the street. These supports are expensive however and when we waste so much money on inefficient housing, we find ourselves lacking in the resources needed to truly help people rebuild their lives.

Housing in Calgary and most major cities is simply very damn expensive. There is only one way to reduce the cost of housing in Calgary. We must increase supply. Rent controls are always a failure and we are already fully utilizing all of the subsidized housing that we can.

The current way of thinking in addressing the supply shortage however is the old way. They want to maintain the system but spend more money. This simply isn’t sustainable. Look at the projected numbers below:

Projected unit costs are huge and are not taking into account the massive maintenance deficit that exists in current subsidized housing projects.

Now I am going to get to the guy who is thinking outside the box.

I have written on Paul Hughes a couple times before. What I most like about Paul is that he doesn’t ask, he simply does. Rather than contact the city and ask about an idea in order to give bureaucrats an excuse to explain why the idea won’t work (and then work to stop it), Paul acts and gets the job done. It is tough for bureaucrats to pooh pooh a notion when Paul has already proven that it can and does work. That is what Paul did with his Grow Calgary site which I wrote about last fall.

Paul has done an excellent job in addressing local food supply and has now turned towards addressing local housing supply.

Appalled by the projected $200,000 per unit projections for housing units, Paul Hughes has been working with micro homes to seek far more affordable housing solutions.

With common sense applied and bureaucrats moved aside, we can do all sorts of things for a fraction of the cost. Who can forget the Toronto man who built a set of stairs in a local park for $550 when the city bureaucrats has determined that $65,000 needed to be spend to address the issue? Sure the $550 set may not have been adequate but he proved that $65,000 was an obscenely high number when a couple thousand would have been more than enough.

It takes solid examples to prove the naysayers wrong when they come out with their grossly inflated numbers in project costs.

Paul has been building a micro home on the Grow Calgary site with volunteer help and donated materials. So far at virtually no costs, he has a little home that will be quite habitable for a person very soon.

With a tiny footprint and the use of a loft or sleeping quarters, a person can live quite comfortably in this micro home. Utility and maintenance costs are minimal in such a small abode too. What these little homes can do though is provide stable, private home spaces for people where they can settle and get things together.

Hughes understands that he doesn’t know it all by any means and he knows that there are all sorts of great and creative folks out there who can contribute to this project. That is why he has put out the call for others and is holding a micro-home building contest on the Grow Calgary site. Details can be found in the poster below and applications and rules on the Grow Calgary website.

There is a great flat space on the Grow Calgary site where these houses will be constructed and they can eventually be utilized to house volunteers to work on the fantastic farm there.

It is going to be quite exciting to see what kind of units are built and at what kind of costs they come in at.

Hughes has a broader vision for these micro-homes and how homelessness can be addressed with the great capital savings.

Paul’s vision is pretty high level and there are surely details that would need some ironing but it is compelling and even if not implemented in whole, it surely is worth trying in part.

Hughes estimates that with good design and economies of scale that good micro-homes can be built for about $10,000 each. If building for 4,000 homeless there would be an initial capital cost of $40,000,000.

In order to avoid developing slums or enclaves, Hughes is looking at 400 communities of 10 micro homes each.

Paul understands that supports beyond simple housing are required. Let’s say that each community of 10 has one social worker, one job manager for training, one health/farm manager (I expect he wants to incorporate urban farming in the communities), and one administrator. That is four people supporting every ten housed. Assuming costs of $60k per year each for those folks, that comes in at $96,000,000.

With a miscellaneous budget of $20,000,000 built in Hughes plan comes in at with a capital cost of $40 million and an annual cost of $116 million for the manpower and supports. I imagine there are many other unanticipated costs and land costs have not been accounted for but this is still a tiny fraction from the projected $200,000 per unit for unsupported housing in current plans.

As is expected, the city and established homeless groups aren’t enthusiastic about Paul’s plans. Too many are simply too invested in the status-quo.

The hipster dominated urban planning festival of “Bacon Fest” snubbed Paul and prevented him from even bringing flyers to the event. They like to jealously guard their vision of urban planning unfortunately.

Undeterred of course, Hughes is plowing ahead and I expect he will promote and round up some great competitors for his competition.

Is Hughes vision too ambitious? Perhaps. Is it a panacea? Of course not.

What Paul is proposing though is a radical departure from what has already been tried and failed. He is looking at a new approach and we dearly need one.

Micro-homes have applications outside of aiding in homelessness as well. Seniors looking at downsizing, veterans establishing themselves after leaving the service, young people and under employed people could all potentially use micro-homes. It is nearly impossible these days to get into the housing market if a person doesn’t have a head start. Micro homes could provide a great way to start building equity in a home until a person is ready to move into something larger.

I can’t see any authority signing off on a 4000 micro home project quite yet. I don’t see why we can’t try at least a few of these communities on an experimental basis and then expanding on that if it is successful. Its not like the city can point to their resounding success with the current strategy.

It will be harder to say no when a small community is built and functioning at Grow Calgary as well. Paul as always is leading by example and taking excuses away from those who fear trying new things.

I really look forward to seeing what is springing up there in the coming months and seeing how these innovations can be applied throughout Calgary and beyond. I encourage others to contact Paul if they are interested in participating or lending a hand. He can be reached through the website.   Drop him a line and see about dropping by Grow Calgary’s location. It is impressive and well worth the visit to see what can be accomplished by a guy who just goes out and gets things done rather than asking or waiting for others to do it.

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Canada’s Prime Minister in action.

As the dumpster fire of a trip to India by Justin Trudeau burns ever higher, Justin decides to up the ante with a fantastic demonstration of just how stupid he is.

Never mind Trudeau having a convicted Sikh terrorist invited to a reception in India. Never mind his increasingly cringe worthy and insulting dress up games in traditional Indian garb for photo ops. Never mind that Trudeau actually flew a chef from Canada to India to cook Indian food.

Trudeau doesn’t even know how long Canada has been a confederation.

We are talking grade 1 history classes folks.

I just had to ensure that this video of his brilliance is posted and saved somewhere.

I can’t imagine how much more damage this fools is going to do to Canada’s international reputation in the next couple years.

 

Here is Justin standing like a deer in the headlights vacuously staring off into the distance rather than trying to answer a clear and simple question from an Indian reporter.

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Trudeau may want to gender neutralize his own back yard.

Most of us have already heard clips of Prime Minister Trudeau chiding a woman asking a question at a town hall meeting last week and asking her to use the term “people kind” rather than the terribly offensive and non-inclusive term “mankind”.

If you haven’t heard it yet, the short video clip below covers it.

It is hardly a shocker when Justin Trudeau acts the buffoon. It is not terribly surprising to see Trudeau awkwardly trying to pander to the extreme feminist types who feel that every possible word that is traditionally gender associated is inherently non-inclusive and is offensive.

If Trudeau does indeed plan to get on the absurd language police bandwagon though, he may want to begin with his own cabinet ministers.

Catherine McKenna is Canada’s environment minister.

As a female social justice lawyer McKenna was perfectly suited for a senior cabinet role in Trudeau’s gender quota based cabinet. Actual experience in environmental issues was secondary to the role.

McKenna made headlines as she boldly declared that climate change was not gender neutral!


Leave it to a quota placement to manage to turn an environmental issue into a social justice one. Ms. McKenna had to apply her experience to the portfolio somehow I guess.

As a poster child for political correctness however, Catherine McKenna’s own words don’t appear to follow her own doctrine.

Apparently it is perfectly OK to apply gender associations to things as long as they are male and in a negative connotation.

“Science is science.”.

How profound. Case closed apparently.

Beyond that though, apparently only men are responsible for climate change and it disproportionately harms women.

Clearly climate change is actually the outcome of a long misogynistic conspiracy created in order to keep women down.

Women who operate motor vehicles are not causing climate change but men are. Women are harmed in weather events but men aren’t.

People like McKenna are very careful about how they place their words, particularly when it comes to gender association.

Maybe it was simply a one off. A slip of the keyboard so to speak.

Oh wait:

Ooops

Heavens not again.

I will not rest until Justin Trudeau demands that Catherine McKenna declares climate change as being “person made”!

Actually, I don’t really give a shit what she wants to call things.

I do wish however that social justice warriors led by none other than our Imbecile in Chief Justin Trudeau would stop giving a shit and telling me what I can call things.

Language doesn’t bother me but hypocrisy does.

Clean up your own Trudeau before telling us how to speak and whether or not we can say such things as “mankind”.

 

 

 

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We have to admit there is a problem.

I am lucky in many ways.

I have never experienced workplace sexual harassment.

I was raised well by parents and teachers who made it clear that the concept of “no means no” is an immutable rule to live by and have always found it easy to follow. In the past, I have found myself attracted to some women only to find that they were simply not attracted to me. While that was frustrating at the time perhaps, it never occurred to me for a second that I should heighten coming on, dropping hints or try to pressure the other person to get intimate with me. It simply wasn’t an option.

It was and is unthinkable to show attraction or get some sort of thrills through surreptitious contact with extended hugs, unsolicited kisses or creepy efforts to brush against women. I sure as hell never considered for a second trying to use a position of workplace authority to try and force a woman to respond to me. The thought of a woman being with me simply because she felt she needed to in order to keep her job is outright repellent. It is just rape using a threat different than a knife to the throat. These rules of living applied and apply inside and outside of the workplace.

It all seemed so common sense to me that I really couldn’t let myself grasp that many men for whatever damned reasons don’t find these simple and respectful rules in dealing with people they are attracted to worth abiding by. I really assumed that this really could only be happening due to a tiny number of men in society.

I was wrong.

The world has changed this year and I think its for the better though the events that surfaced in order to bring about this change are horrifying.

The exposure of Harvey Weinstein was an eye opener. Not only did this man spend decades using his position in order to sexually assault women, he got away with it for decades due to a culture of silence on the issue. These men exist and in numbers higher than any of us like to admit. These men are covered for all the time by both men and women and it has to stop.

The #MeToo movement has exploded and is encouraging all sorts of victims to come out, expose their abuse and most importantly expose their abusers.

I have been dismissive of and annoyed with the #MeToo movement. Often the voices speaking for that movement are coming from the extremes of feminism. Often those extreme feminists are firing out vitriol and are outright attacking the entire gender of men. I tire of being told I am guilty of all ills due to my sex and it puts me on the defensive. This unfortunately has also led to me ignoring the rational voices coming from #MeToo that have been increasingly speaking up. Like any movement, the extreme are often the most vocal. We can’t let them drown out the productive discussions and I can’t use those extremists as an excuse to quit listening to the majority in the movement.

As I can’t directly relate, I need to listen to the people that can and learn from them.

Admittedly, it took listening to a fantastic statement from a politician that I respect before I really tuned in. Better late than never.

Michelle Rempel delivered a fantastic and powerful statement today on Bill C-65 and sexual harassment on Parliament Hill.

It is very well worth a listen by clicking here. 

It is not just the content of the statement made by Rempel that struck me. It was the emotion. You could see it in her body language and feel it in her tone. Rempel expressed frustration, some anger and some pain in speaking to this issue. In just seeing the live commentary in videos that she does I get a hint of what she deals with. I can’t imagine the entirety of what a good looking woman working in the old boys world of parliamentary politics deals with daily.

So yes, I have not committed sexual harassment in my working life. Have I done anything to stop it though? No. I have not.

I have worked most of my life in a predominantly male industry so have seen few examples of harassment in the field. I suspect I have seen some but never took it as seriously as I should have. I know I never spoke up about it.

Yes. Women have rightly decided that they need to speak up and speak loudly on this issue. Men need to do so too.

I am not saying that all men are guilty. That attitude drives me nuts. I think we all have an obligation as people to speak up when we see something happening though and we have been trained for far too long to simply look the other way. The issue makes us squeamish. The perpetrator is perhaps a friend. Maybe the perpetrator will threaten the job of the man speaking up as well. It doesn’t matter. We have to make it clear that we won’t accept this behavior any longer.

I am often quite critical of Islam. I take issue with the culture of violence and oppression of women that is associated with that faith. I understand that the worst offenders in Islam are in the minority. When confronted with this I usually tell people defending Islam that it is up to them to weed that minority out of their ranks. It is up to the majority of Islam to reform itself so that the minority no longer feels comfortable in acting out. It is up to the majority to expose and correct the violent minority.

If I am to believe the logic I expressed above, does it not stand to reason that the majority of men need to stand up in order to correct the minority who are giving us all a bad name? Is it not up to the majority of us to change the social standards of our sex? If not for the women (and occasionally men) victimized, maybe we should do it for our own sake no? If we are actively and openly working to fix this, it will be much tougher for the extreme and the anti-male to keep trying to tar us all as being the same.

Every case is unique. Trials are now being held on social media rather than in court. Facts are all over the map. Yes. Some of these claims of harassment appear exaggerated and difficult to believe at times. Some are indeed bullshit and they are wrongly ruining some people’s careers. Way too many of these claims are outright true though and are exposing long and ongoing sexual misconduct being perpetrated by people.

Women are going to social media rather than authorities at the workplace or with the law because they feel they have nowhere else to go. There have been too many cover ups. Too many incidents where the victim becomes victimized further as her character is questioned and it is implied that she asked for it. Is it any wonder that conventional channels of complaint are being shunned?

We need to change our outlook. We need to speak up before the small cases become big ones. We need to take all complaints seriously (but still can’t immediately assume all complaints are true as Trudeau implied). We need to make victims understand that they will be supported when they speak up. This is how we will stop this trend of public trials by social media. We need processes in place and we need to follow through with them.

Most of all, we need to change our attitude.

I will finish with one other thing.

I tweeted the other night about how recent incidents will make it more difficult for young women to find jobs in the political workplace (and perhaps others). I still stand by that. I am not saying that this is good or right. I am saying that this is another negative consequence of these sexual harassers are bringing upon people. Even those who were not harassed are being victimized indirectly.

Nobody is winning with the status-quo.

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Cash Cow

 

Anybody who has traveled on Highway 22X in the last few months know’s what I am talking about.

Last summer, a great deal of construction began over a 10 kilometer stretch of the highway in what I assume is part of the Southwest Ring Road construction project. While little work was done on the highway itself, there was a lot of activity near it so the speed limit was reduced to 70 KPH for the entire stretch.

As a man who worked many years as surveyor, I had many opportunities to work on roadsides while jackasses speed by at what feels like mere inches from my setup. I understand the need for construction zone speed limits and I fully support the strong enforcement of those limits.

The problem with the zone on Highway 22X is that there has not been any active construction in months but the limit is still 70 KPH!

As soon as the snow flew, all construction stopped. The equipment left and everything went to normal aside from the reduced speed limit signs.

Construction will not start again for months so why the hell are we still being forced to slow down?

As can be seen above, we are talking about a wide stretch of divided highway with large shoulders and not a single corner. In most places, the limit would be as high as 110 or at the very least 90. 70 KPH is utterly pointless and painful to maintain for that long stretch.

As soon as you leave city limits on the highway, the limit goes to 100 KPH.

What difference is there between those two pictures aside from the speed limit signs? What factor made the above picture unsafe to drive at 100 KPH while the one before that was 70 KPH?

The answer is none. The limiting of speed provides utterly no safety benefit whatsoever or the entire highway would languish at that absurd speed limit.

So why keep the limit low? Who benefits?

The picture below tells you.

Highway 22X has become a favorite fishing hole for lazy City of Calgary police officers who want to fill their quota of tickets with the least amount of work.

Cops know that commuters are frustrated with the unreasonably low limit and that they will eventually simply speed eventually as it almost hurts to crawl along so slowly on such a fine piece of road. Due to this, they set up on that stretch constantly and nail commuters who while they were indeed speeding, they were not putting anybody in any danger at all.

If the cops truly were pursuing traffic safety, they would be enforcing in areas with a high degree of risk or a high number of accidents. Actual active construction zones (there is no shortage of them) or playground zones come to mind.

Alas, many officers prefer to set up to try and get a big fish as they nail people going 30 kph over the limit as that is a safe speed to drive on the road despite the limit.

With the cash rolling in from these fines, there is little incentive for the powers that be to change the limit to something realistic until the construction starts again.

Foothills councilor Suzanne Oel has posted on facebook advising that people contact the powers that be with the project. 

I imagine that Ms. Oel is getting tired of constituent complaints on this issue.

Lost hours are lost living. Thousands of vehicles are delayed daily from this idiotic limit which cumulatively leads to countless hundreds of thousands of people’s hours wasted in driving. While folks who don’t need to do this commute may brush this off, this is a large irritation for those of us forced to do this drive daily. Especially if we have been nailed with one of the ridiculous tickets that the cops are handing out like candy on Halloween in the area.

Remember, the next “construction zone” could be in your area next.

As usual, it takes citizens to initiate what should be common sense as the bureaucrats are incapable of it.

Please email info@SWCRRproject.com or call 403.212.0565 to tell them to pull their heads out of their asses on this one.

It may help them apply a little common sense on the next project.

 

 

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On economic realities in food service & “living wages”

The fallout continues to mount as the cumulative effects the Notley government’s anti-business policies come home to roost.

With minimum wage hikes, hikes in stat pay for people who never actually work on those stat holidays, carbon tax hikes and new regulations piling on monthly, even restaurants that have managed to succeed for decades are beginning to fail.

This week’s closure was the Bear’s Den restaurant that operated in Northwest Calgary for 14 years.

What infuriated the hysteric left and Notley apologists with this closure was that the owner dared speak openly on what pushed his formerly prosperous business into closure. Yes. Government policies on all levels are pushing places out of business. The only thing I can fault this man with is that he neglected to mention how federal and municipal governments have been piling on small businesses as well. The blame in these deaths by a thousand cuts lands on all levels of government as none of them have been doing small business any favors of late.

The ignorance being displayed by Notley’s social media fartcatchers on this closure has been both striking and predictable.

Armchair restaurant managers spring forth like weeds and begin to explain all the reasons that these businesses keep failing and they work to understate the damage that is caused when these places close.

This clown is a prime example. He went on with multiple tweets about how the prices were too high and that it only led to about 12 people losing their jobs anyway. He of course took that common assumption that the owner of the restaurant was filthy rich and would retire upon a pile of money.

In reality, 26 jobs were directly lost from that restaurant alone. This closure also reduces revenues for the companies that serviced and supplied the restaurant and likely added up to at least another job or two lost.

Odd how those who always claim to be standing up for the little guy are so quick to dismiss the impact of job losses for these little guys.

In their lack of understanding of economic realities, many lefties conflate high prices with high profits. They assume that if a restaurant is upscale, the profits must be as well. Alas, the margins remain the same for food service businesses whether in upscale eateries such as the Bear’s Den or in a food court stall in a mall. They are incredibly thin.

I saw one comment where the person exclaimed upon looking at the menu:  “$14 martinis? No thank you!” As if that statement alone explained why this restaurant failed.

Head to any bar. I know first hand as a pub owner that we don’t pay a hell of a lot less for liquor than retail customers do. We need to mark that booze up. If taxes didn’t account for nearly 50% of the cost of booze, I promise you that you would get better prices. The market is competitive.

Either way, martinis are cocktails that are doubles and usually use premium vodkas or gins. They take time to mix and present and have a garnish. They range at best from $12 to $16 in bars. $14 was average.

The Bank of Canada thinks that as many as 60,000 jobs will be lost due to minimum wage hikes alone. Shall we dismiss this? Is this a desirable outcome? Are we somehow winning here?

 

What people don’t seem to get is what a profit margin is and just how thin those margins are for restaurants and bars.

According to stats Canada, the average profit margin in restaurant and bar lands under 4%.

To put it more simply, for the average owner they may see $4 for every $100 of product sold.

Think of it this way. It takes a hell of a lot of work just to run a mid size establishment that grosses $100,000 per month. I assure you that in pretty much every place of that size there is an owner/operator. It would never be profitable at that scale without the owner working full time in it. That owner would gross roughly $48,000 per year.

Not exactly the “rich fat cats” that some folks are working so hard to demonize. It is a lot of work for a relatively meager income.

I don’t begrudge any business a profit or a good margin. The entire purpose of taking that gamble to invest time and money into a venture is to make a profit.

If indeed folks insist on playing the repugnant politics of envy and really want to drag down the successful (and many indeed do want to do that), they are way off base in who they are targeting.

I will put this in the form of charts that even a Notley supporter should understand.

Here is what the average restaurant profit margin looks like:

Pretty damn skinny and I rounded up.

Let’s compare that margin with the mining industry:

Guess how mines can afford to pay better than restaurants (leaving aside the reality that mining is a much more dangerous and skilled trade than a role in a restaurant).

Rail transport has some splendid profit margins. Being an oligopoly that is heavily protected by the state helps of course.

Speaking of oligopolies, how about banks. Well Royal Bank’s profit margin ranged from 25-32%. There is good money in lending. Just look at how much the Alberta government is spending on debt interest.

Securities and financial services in general enjoy solid average profit margins around 40%. Insurance companies are up there too.

Now I don’t want to see those high margin industries dragged down. I am just saying that the vitriolic and envious left is really flying over the wrong target these days in their quest to ensure that nobody dares make too much money.

I (unlike the anti-corporate left) understand where pension fund growth comes from so no, I would never celebrate the reduction of profits for corporations.

The Calgary Chamber of Commerce established that the combination of higher property tax, carbon tax and minimum wages will cost the average restaurant $60,700 per year. That is more than the average restaurant owner makes.

Restaurant sales are indeed climbing in Alberta but unfortunately the increase in expenses is outpacing that sales growth. It doesn’t matter how high your sales are if your margins are in the negative.

This is simple math people. A restaurant can’t run at a loss for long. A restaurant owner in these situations has only two options when margins evaporate. Increased sales only mean increased losses.

We can raise prices and we can cut expenses.

Food service prices are terribly inelastic. That means we can’t raise prices very much before the associated drop in sales volume removes the benefit of the price raise. The industry is fickle and competitive. Consumers only have so much to spend and they will move on in the face of price increases that pass their budget. I guess if your goal is to drive consumers into eating at home more, this is a good route to go. Cold comfort for the unemployed workers however.

In cutting expenses we have limits as well. Many of our expenses such as utilities, taxes and lease payments are fixed. We can reduce food costs to a degree but most restaurants are already at peak efficiency in this regard. They have to be when dealing with 4% margins. Labor makes up over 33% of the expenses. While we can only cut that by so much while remaining in operation, it is our most flexible area to work with. Part time and lower paid staff may be shed while more work is placed on the remaining workers. Places may move more into a self-serve system which again costs jobs. As we saw with Tim Hortons, some prior benefits such as paid breaks or health benefits may be cut. We simply don’t have a hell of a lot to work with here.

Simply raising minimum wage is not enough for some of course. Many of the economically illiterate feel that every job whether in a starting position, unskilled position or part time position deserves what they determine to be a “living wage”.

What is a “living wage”? That all depends on how far out in left field the person proposing it is actually. It can range anywhere from $17 per hour up to $30 per hour.

This dingdong is a typical self-styled business expert.

“If your business model does not include paying employees a living wage, then you do not have a good business model.”

She indicates that anything less than this ambiguous “living wage” is “exploitive”.

Very nice comrade but of course utterly unrealistic.

Still, lets explore the viability of this “living wages” in the food service industry.

If this non-“exploitive”  business model does indeed exist it should be no problem finding all sorts of restaurants in the thousands across the nation who use it.

Look at this! There is even a Canadian site that works as something of a registry for businesses that pay a “living wage”. Excellent. Surely these establishments must number in the hundreds with it being such a great business model and all.

 

Hmm. I see a lot of charities. Government bodies such as the City of Vancouver. Some left wing activist groups and unions.

You know what is missing?

You guessed it. Restaurants. Not a single one among them.

How is this so? Did we not just hear that a living wage model is good business?

While this business model does appear to be quite popular among self-proclaimed business experts on the left, actual business people seem not to have embraced this stroke of genius yet.

Fear not. Perhaps this guide wasn’t comprehensive enough. Maybe all those living wage restaurants were so damned busy that they forgot to register.

In searching google I finally found some examples.

Here is a beauty. Bartertown Diner is a union shop and not only do they pay living wages, they have no management hierarchy. Every employee is equal in compensation and in decision making.

It just doesn’t get any more fair than this.

Let’s look ahead and see how this little socialist paradise worked out..

Aww shit.  Say it ain’t so! How could this collectivist Nirvana have possibly failed?

Oh yeah, the same way socialism always fails. Nobody wanted to work. Nobody paid the bills. Everybody lost their jobs.

OK OK. Maybe they were a little too idealistic. What if the outright Marxism was dropped and a restaurant simply adopted the “living wage” part.

Looks like Ritual in Vancouver did just this:

Groundbreaking! Brilliant! This is Vancouver too so there must be an abundant supply of folks who want to pay an extra 20% or so in order to patronize a place that pays “living wages”.

Let’s follow up and see how that all went…….

Aww shit…..

Their website is down and by all reports it appears that they went broke.

How is this possible with the brilliant model of “living wages”?

Maybe people really actually wanted to pay more but were constrained by the menu prices. The folks behind the Harvest Cafe realized this and set up a business where customers could choose what they pay. How could a place not  prosper and pay massive wages while tapping into all that natural altruism in society?

Hmm, their website seems to be down

Facebook site looks to be gone too.

Aww shit……

Somehow they went broke.

OK OK. Maybe it is a little too much to ask folks to pay what they can. Maybe if restaurants went without tipping, but raised the prices by the amount that would be tipped and claimed to use this new revenue to pay a fair living wage.

Sorta just re-branding a price increase and robbing the servers but lets see how that all went.

Earls in Calgary did just this. How could the managers who so brilliantly shit on Alberta beef while the bulk of their restaurants resided within Alberta possibly go wrong?

Aww shit…..

It didn’t even make it three months.

Damned customers clearly don’t know whats good for them.

The only models I could find that let customers pay what they want while the place claims to pay “living wages” are essentially charity soup kitchens.

They rely on donations and volunteers (people working for nothing?? How “exploitive”!).

Others rely on well heeled celebrity ownership for publicity along with donation and volunteer labor such as Jon Bon Jovi’s place

Sure helps if the owner has a few hundred million in the bank to backstop things if funds should run a little short.

 

Hey. I am sure Bon Jovi is a great guy and he doesn’t have to do a damn thing. This is a nice effort by him.

Let’s not pretend that this glorified soup kitchen is a viable business model that will change the face of the food service industry across North America.

We have to face it. Consumers want good product and service provided to them at the lowest prices possible. If the prices are too high, they simply won’t buy. It doesn’t matter how much they claim to want to support “living wages”.  That is why restaurants must manage with 4% margins. Not because they want to walk that razor thin line. They simply have to.

Yes restaurants will always come and go even if government leaves them alone. It is abhorrent seeing government intervention causing an inordinate number of establishments go out of business however.

Yes. Some of the most creative and the ones with the most capital behind them will survive and the weak will fall by the wayside. Mom & pop places will disappear and be replaced by large corporate chains and franchises who can utilize economies of scale in order to keep operating.

Fewer restaurants will exist, they will employ fewer people of course and the general cost of living will rise.

Is this winning? Is this a desirable outcome from piling taxes and regulations upon a struggling industry?

Some may think so.

Those finding themselves losing those ever so important entry level jobs, those servers who worked part time to supplement their income, those seniors who worked part time to supplement their retirement income and those students who worked part time to offset tuition costs may feel otherwise.

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Mob mentality is winning.

The cowardice being shown by institutions when confronted by threats of violence from mobs is distressing to say the least.

The hysteric left has been increasingly using violent mob actions in order to shut down speakers or gatherings of people that they disagree with lately. The reason that these violent protests are increasing is simple. THEY WORK!

Rather than increase security or call the police when threatened by protesters, venues whether municipally owned or whether on University campuses generally take the callow path of cancelling the event and claiming safety issues as a rationale for their caving to the screeching minority. It is a path of perceived least resistance and it is emboldening people who feel that violence is an appropriate response to contrary thought or speech.

Alas, using the threat of violence to hinder others is not unique to left wing folks.

Today the City of Calgary cancelled a private nude swimming event that had been booked at a leisure center. It was not a walk in event. There was going to be no more exposure of nudity to minors than happens every day in public changing rooms. It was simply a group who like to gather and swim nude who wanted to book a facility for a private party.

Don’t like it?

Don’t go! This shouldn’t be so damned complicated people.

Despite this being harmless, Calgary’s neo-puritan population was enraged. Social media was afire as keyboard evangelists predicted that this will surely lead to mass Satanism and potential child abuse. Petitions exploded as an increasing number of prudes felt justified in telling other people what they may or may not do with themselves.

The righteous ire was palpable.

When it looked like this harmless event was going to happen despite the mass indignation demonstrated through internet petitions, some nutbars decided to threaten violence. Guess what? It worked! 

The City would not point to a specific event but referenced “volatile public commentary” and vaguely spoke of some communications.

I am sure the irony will be lost on the uptight fools who went haywire about this event, but I suspect that many if not most of them are folks who speak out against the garb worn below.

The rationale behind the burka is that men will become uncontrollably aroused by the sight of female flesh and will be forced into committing a sin. That is why rape victims in Islamic nations are usually convicted. Surely they tempted those men into raping them. Perhaps they showed some public ankle!

The anti-nude swim gang in Calgary went one step farther. They felt that there are numerous pedophiles lurking around every corner who will become hopelessly aroused and will molest kids at this event. As an organizer pointed out, if a man becomes aroused at a nudist event it becomes rather evident and will be dealt with rather quickly.

You can’t go to a public change room and start snapping pictures of nude children nor can you at these private events. There really was no issue here.

Back to the initial point of this post, we have allowed threats of violence by protest groups to succeed yet again. The gravity of this precedent can’t be understated. This will of course only encourage more violent people to use this as a tool to get their way when they find themselves in an aggrieved minority. This is not how a civilized or democratic society is supposed to act.

Yes. The safety of the swimmers is paramount as the City of Calgary said. Instead of cancelling the event though, they should have sent police and security. Anybody threatening violence should be immediately arrested and prosecuted to the full extent of the law. We can’t let extremists know that threats of violence are effective.

This applies to speeches and gatherings whether in community halls, campuses or any other venue. In a free society we have to protect free assembly and speech with all that we have or we will surely lose both to the mobs.

The City of Calgary’s cowardice in this issue has only invited more violent responses to events in the future. Sad.

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Its now discriminatory to apply equal health rules to all races?

OK lets start with the basics on this one.

Liver transplantation currently is the only definitive treatment for severe (end stage) liver failure.

There is always a shortage of livers and medical resources unfortunately thus there are requisites involved when it is determined if a patient qualifies for a liver transplant. The bottom line is that when using a resource as precious as a donated organ, we want to be assured that it is put to the best use possible. If a patient looks unlikely to survive long after a procedure due to health factors, they will be dropped on the list so that more viable recipients may get the procedure. Tough but essential decisions when finite resources are involved.

Many liver transplant procedures are done in Canada to treat liver failure due to chronic alcohol abuse.

One of the most surefire ways to negate the benefits of a liver transplant is to resume alcohol consumption after the transplant. The liver will be wasted and the patient will die. Because of this risk, there are sobriety requirements for patients before they can get a new liver. In Ontario it is six months.

Sobriety from addiction is a damn tough thing. I am speaking first hand as I am a recovering alcoholic. I am on my second stint with sobriety. My first was for a year some years ago. Now I am permanently dry and have been so for over six months now. As a bartender, I can assure you that it was challenging to become sober to say the least. One of the things that encouraged me to dry out was testing that found that my liver function was beginning to decline.

I, like many alcoholics come from a long line of alcoholics. My grandfather died young due to drinking and one of my uncles is on his second liver. Had my uncle not had a liver transplant, he would have died over a decade ago. In knowing the way my uncle drank, had he not been forced into sobriety for nearly a year before he got his transplant, he almost assuredly would have continued drinking after his transplant and would have died. The liver would have been wasted. I am glad for the responsible policies that forced him to break from his dependency though it did make for a tense period of time on the waiting list. Many alcoholics die on the waiting list unfortunately but it makes the requirement no less important. Bear in mind that many non-drinkers find themselves in need of livers and die on waiting lists as well. How many livers do we want to risk on people who may destroy them if we remove the sobriety requirement?

In my first stint with sobriety, I fully immersed myself in the program with Alcoholics Anonymous. While I didn’t care for the spiritual nature of the program, the sharing and time with other alcoholics was valuable to me in gaining and maintaining my sobriety at that time. One lesson that is clear from the shared wisdom of countless alcoholics in the program is that sober time is critical in reducing the chances of relapse. The first 90 days are the toughest. The next bar is six months. While many alcoholics unfortunately can relapse after years, if they can make it past a year of sobriety things are looking pretty good for them. That is why a six month sobriety for liver transplantation is not arbitrary or unreasonable.

There are studies being done to see how effective this waiting period is and we can wait and see I guess.

Now, on to the main subject here.

Delilah Saunders is a young native activist who sadly found herself in need of a liver transplant. As with everybody else in Ontario she was required to remain sober for six months before becoming eligible for the procedure. Due to her profile as an activist, other activists along with Amnesty International began protesting and claiming that it was discrimination to make Delilah wait for a transplant like everybody else.

It is sad but clear that anti-discrimination activists have utterly no idea what discrimination is.

From a CBC article on the issue:

Sobriety requirement ‘discriminatory’

The vigil heard that the policy of requiring six-months of sobriety before being put on the wait list for a liver transplant discriminates disproportionately against Indigenous people

How in the hell is having an equal policy for all races suddenly discrimination?

Yes, native people do suffer from addiction issues more than non-native people. That is due to our utterly failed reserve system which is essentially a system of apartheid maintained under the racist “Indian Act”.

None of the above justifies different status on medical requirements for transplantation.

One of the worst things being done to natives today is the nanny-state infantilization of them as a people to the point where they are never found to be personally responsible for any of their actions. This bullshit claim of discrimination in the case of liver transplant requirements is a prime example of it.

Our world seems to be going mad as identity politics dominate and an endless search for new perceived racial inequities has become a profession unto itself. It is tough to think of things more damned stupid than claiming that equal medical treatment is racist yet here we are.

On a good note, Delilah Saunders is reported to be recovering without a transplant so far. Lets hope that she recovers fully and learns to live a healthy life going forward. Even with live donation, the cost for transplant is around $40,000 for some very scarce medical dollars which could go to other patients if need be so she never needs the transplant it is great for everybody. If Delilah does still need the transplant and remains sober for the period long enough for it that is a good outcome too.

Lets just get off this tiresome and divisive bullshit of calling everything and anything discriminatory whenever something goes adversely for a native person. It is not helping anybody native or non-native alike.

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We have plenty of cougars.

Last week some pictures from a perfectly legal and humane cougar hunt made the rounds on the internet. The usual urban living suspects went haywire as one would expect. Multiple reports were sent to Alberta Fish & Wildlife as many folks didn’t even realize that cougar hunting was legal. Former Prime Minister Harper’s wife even went to twitter to exclaim that the hunter probably had a small prick. People have the right to say and feel what they please of course. Let’s get real though on some facts about cougars in Alberta and why hunting them is legal.

First and foremost, cougars are abundant in Alberta. They are not endangered or even threatened. If anything, their populations have been growing.

I understand how folks in the city may think that cougars are rare. They never see them. If they ventured just outside of city limits however, they may be surprised to discover just how well predatory wildlife is thriving right next door.

I live in Priddis. It is a bedroom community of Calgary just 10 kilometers from city limits. I have a game cam in my back yard. It is 25 meters from my back door and is on a good game trail that comes up from a creek that bounds by property.

Despite being only a few minutes drive from a city of over a million people, wildlife including cougars is thriving out here.

Below is a shot of a cougar behind my place last fall along with a picture of myself in the same spot to add perspective.

The big fella below came by a couple years ago. Only saw that one once but he was huge.

Along with frequent cougars, we have all sorts of other wildlife hanging around as can be seen below.

Aside from showing off pics of the cool critters that I get to see in my back yard, I am making a point here. Game of all sorts is plentiful in Alberta, even in relatively highly populated areas. Hunting is not putting their population at risk.

I don’t hunt. It’s just not my thing. I moved to where I am because I love living in proximity with the wildlife and sharing space with it (when safe & reasonable).

All that said, I hold nothing against those who choose to responsibly hunt assuming that it is done responsibly and without cruelty. Hunting is an essential part of wildlife management and it is regulated to help ensure that waste of any animal product is kept to a minimum.

The Priddis area has always been known to have a lot of cougars and they are often a problem. Livestock and pets often fall prey to cougars and there have been some adverse cougar/human interactions over the years as well. Because of this, we are allowed to shoot a cougar if it is found to be on our property and if it is presenting a threat to people or livestock. In 2015 in just the Priddis zone alone, 23 cougars were reported as having been shot on people’s land. In knowing rural folks, I would suspect that at least that number again was shot but never reported. Remember folks, this is just outside of Calgary.

In the last couple years, we have seen cougars shot within Calgary city limits as well. People went haywire over those animal control actions as well of course. I can’t think of many things more dangerous than a cougar wandering through an urban area in full panic. There was no choice but to destroy those animals before a person was harmed. Whether animal rights folks like it or not, people come first.

The reason that we are seeing cougars wandering into populated areas more often is pretty simple. Cougar populations are not simply stable, they are growing. Hunting is an effective means of population control which helps keep these potential cougar/human conflicts to a minimum.

We saw the pitiful sight of a polar bear starving to death in a recently released video as well. Unfortunately, when alpha predators die of old age it is not kind or pretty. Cougars when left to die of old age will invariably pass on through a slow and painful process. I guess that is simply the way of nature but lets not pretend that its any less cruel than having been hunted.

Again, I am not into hunting. If a cougar were to enter my property and begin acting aggressively towards me or my family I would shoot it without hesitation. As it stands, we have been good neighbors so far and I am happy for it to stay that way.

You don’t have to like hunting. You don’t have to applaud hunting. If you condemn those who do choose to hunt without looking at the entire picture however, you are being shallow and unfair at the very least.

We have some real and pressing animal welfare issues in our society. The most cruel of acts against animals are usually done by people who own or posses domestic ones. Let’s get those nasty bastards and quit sidetracking ourselves on the non-issue of controlled cougar hunts. We have cats to spare.

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