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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Supply management. An economic anvil on the necks of Canadians.

eggs

Supply management in agriculture is a policy in Canada that is harming consumers and producers from coast to coast. It is hard to believe that we maintain an economic policy that is so detrimental to Canadians as a whole. Part of the issue is that most Canadians don’t even know that such a policy even exists and I suspect if most people realized that they are paying hundreds of dollars a year due to this market control system that they would happily support dumping this primitive policy.

There are nothing but benefits to be seen for Canadians if we get rid of our supply management policies. People will spend less on food essentials and have more opportunity to eat healthier while Canadian producers will be able to expand our export markets and diversify our economy.

Supply management is a socialist market control policy that allows government to micromanage supplies of dairy, eggs and poultry products through a system of quotas and tariffs. This protects a small number of producers who have production quotas thus forcing higher prices on consumers. A dairy producer pays roughly $28,000 for the right to keep one dairy cow. That means a herd of 70 (not terribly large) has a quota value of $2 million. That price is of course forwarded to consumers. Quotas are restricted and it literally is illegal to produce milk, eggs or chickens over a certain number without a quota.

The waste from this system is brutal too. My wife grew up on a small dairy farm for example. Her father had a quota to sell a certain amount of cream but was not allowed to sell milk. The cows were milked and the cream separated and sold. The remaining milk that was not consumed by the household was literally dumped. It would have been illegal to sell it. Sounds rather Soviet doesn’t it? These sorts of examples abound in all supply managed industries and we are all paying dearly for it.

In dairy alone families pay an extra $276 per year due to supply management. When chicken and eggs are taken into account, families are spending nearly $500 per year for these policies. These are premiums paid on staple food items. If families paid regular (much lower) market cost for these items, they would be more encouraged to purchase them of course meaning a likelihood of less processed and unhealthy foods being in the cupboards.

In Canada we actually had organized crime participating in cheese smuggling because our cheese costs so much more in Canada than right across the border in the United States. This sounds like a comedy but it really is happening. When supply of an item in demand is restricted by government, smuggling is always soon to follow.

Some people lamely try to claim that these market controls protect the family farm which is utterly untrue. Supply management has actually wiped out small farms and led to larger factory style production as only large companies can afford to operate under our quota system. From 1971 to 2011 the number of dairy farms in Canada dropped by 91%! This trend has happened in poultry and egg industries too. So much for the family farm.

Market diversification and creative production is stifled by these horrible policies. Free range chickens are much in demand by consumers. Nobody is allowed to produce more than 300 chickens without a quota however which is not enough to live on while a quota application could take years and may never be granted. Quotas are usually in the range of 70,000 or more birds too which hardly helps a small producer. How does one get started in this foolish system? The same applies to eggs.

Small farms making specialty cheeses or types of milk are nearly impossible. I remember a story of a small ice cream producer in Ontario being shut down because the cream costs were simply too damn high. How many other small to medium sized enterprises are we missing out on because of supply management?

Our policies are costing us billions in lost exports as well according to one report. Tariffs and quotas get our producers barred from foreign markets thus costing us countless jobs and tax revenue. Our outdated policies have been a sticking point in many trade negotiations with other nations too so we are losing on import and export opportunities that range outside of supply managed products due to these disputes.

Supply management is a losing policy that costs us all and only benefits a tiny number of people who hold those precious quotas. Most nations on Earth have moved away from supply management policies and have seen nothing but benefits in doing so. New Zealand is now known as “the Saudi Arabia of milk” now that they rid themselves of their supply management and let their economy develop and expand. With the size of our nation with so much viable farmland, we really are missing out on huge opportunities here.

Rarely is a single policy ever doing so much damage. People fight back and forth about the merit of cutting taxes to put more money back in the pockets of consumers. Well, if we got rid of supply management we would put billions of dollars back in the pockets of consumers and it would not cost the government a cent.

The protected dairy, egg and cheese producers are price fixing in a way that would be illegal if any other industry tried it. They are a strong lobby and are essentially racketeers sliding under the radar of public perception. Government hides from the issue for fear of angering the producers with quotas while all consumers and most producers pay the price.

We need to inform the public of the price they are paying for these idiotic policies and then have government repeal them. There is nothing but benefit to us all in doing so. As far as I can tell only the Libertarian Party of Canada is promoting such a repeal.  We need common sense and open markets and neither Harper nor Trudeau appear prepared to give them to us.

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Put a fork in him, he’s done.

harpercowboy

 

 Many people have been becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the actions of Harper in his mad pursuit to try and gain a majority government. There has been the declaration of Quebec as a nation, the insane spending increases, the complete flip/flop on the income-trust issue, the capitulation to the eco-kooks on carbon policy and on and on and on.

 Nothing better illustrates Harper’s complete sellout of his own principles better than his recently quoting John Maynrd Keynes in defense of his garbage “stimulus” package. CP documents this here:

“But I was taught early in economics classes, the famous economist John Maynard Keynes said that, ‘At times like this, we remember that in the long run, we’re all dead.’ So right now, we worry about the short term. We are worried about the short term, and we’ve got to get things right now.”

Yes the direct quote above is from Steven Harper. Harper always claimed to have been strongly influenced by Hayek and Friedman who both very effectively and completely discredited Keynes socialist theories.

 In Harper’s own thesis, he spoke of the dangers of embracing Keynesian economics in order to win elections.

From Harper’s thesis:

“Minority governments show no particular tendency to fiscally irresponsible

behaviour, contrary to some theoretical predictions.”

“A general observation would be that, while there is no evidence of a ‘chronic deficit’ tendency in Canada historically, neither is it clear how such a problem is resolved once it occurs.”

“The record indicates that particularly activist Keynesian policy has been rare in the postwar period. The results indicated that it should remain so.”

 To act against your own principles is one thing (and still not a good thing), but to directly quote from the economist that Harper claimed for so long was misguided is astounding.

 Harper has utterly no principle left and will do utterly anything in order to gain the brass ring of a majority.

 The irony is that Harper’s efforts will not gain him a majority. If people want a Liberal Prime Minister, they will elect one. Ignatieff is at least honest about his liberal nature. Harper could not pull an election victory from the inept Dion, there is no way in hell Harper will get one from Ignatieff.

 If indeed we in Alberta have any hope for a fiscally responsible government, we must look to our provincial legislature. The federal parliament is clearly a waste of time.

 With Deficit Ed Stelmach in power, we certainly have our work cut out for us provincially as well.

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Hey!! That’s my money!!

 Harper just what the hell are you doing? We just endured over a month of watching you promise the moon in spending increases while your lips were solidly locked on the collective asses of the Quebecois (who rejected you again by the way), and now you announce that you want to piss $100 million Canadian tax dollars into third world countries to help fight climate change????

 Sorry Steve I have to say that I am lost here. Who’s ass are you trying to kiss this time? I can assure you that increasing your popularity with dictators in Africa will not get you any closer to that majority that you so desperately want (and apparently don’t deserve).

 In your own words:

 “The funds would be destined almost exclusively to countries that are not necessarily major contributors to climate change or major sources of greenhouse gas emissions but will nevertheless be affected, in particular small insular and vulnerable states”

 Uhhh what? So you are even admitting that these countries are not major emitters. What schemes do you think these third world dictators will come up with to fight that climate change boogeyman anyway Harper?

 Lets see, below is a picture of Robert Mugabe’s home. Perhaps he will install solar heating for his pool in order to be more “green” eh?

 Perhaps Mugabe and others of his ilk will kill two birds with one stone.

 Increased insulation in the basement torture chambers will not only save energy, but will keep that damn screaming from interrupting the opulent meals enjoyed as the citizenry starves.

 

 Perhaps we could put some conditions on the military hardware that your pet dictators will surely buy with that money eh Harper?

 Look at all that smoke!!!! How dare those dictators emit carbon while suppressing and slaughtering their people!!!

 Perhaps Harper will demand that all third-world dictators use bio-diesel in their tanks (much better than using crops to feed people) and attach carbon capture devices to the machines.

 Harper, you were chosen by me as the least of the evils in the last election. You are quickly losing even that status.

 $100 million is a lot of our money. Why the hell did you not announce this while campaigning? You acknowledge that we are entering a period of fiscal crisis, yet you can’t wait a week to piss $100 million of our dollars away on some scheme to prop up dictators.

 If I wanted this kind of crap and wasting of money, I would have voted for Dion. At least Dion’s harebrained scheme kept our money in Canada.

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Fixed election dates.

 Fixed election dates are a simple and basic electoral reform that should have been instituted generations ago. When I speak to American friends about our system that allows Premiers and Prime Ministers to call elections whenever they please, the response from those I have spoken to is invariably astonishment.

 A lack of fixed election dates is an affront to basic democracy. Having the power to choose the date of an election gives a governing party an incredible advantage thus while many leaders pay lip service to the issue on the way up, the leaders quickly forget their commitments upon achieving power. Klein used to revel in his cute hints about making election calls and watching opposition parties scramble in efforts to prepare for an election that often never came. Stelmach is enjoying the same power as was demonstrated in the months of election speculation that began in Alberta last fall and continued until an election was finally called last spring.

 Alberta’s Chief Electoral Officer released 182 recommendations for Alberta’s electoral process yesterday. The scorn with which Stelmach rejected the concept of fixed election dates was insulting in his arrogance. In a petulant way, Stelmach gladly accepted handing off added responsibilities to the Chief Electoral officer. The prior appointments of returning officers by the governing party was a joke and even Stelmach could see that. Stelmach is happily accepting of increased advertising controls at election time as well. Stelmach is still bitter about those union commercials that were mean to him in the last election and in his usual anti-democratic ways is pursuing gag-law legislation.

 The increased responsibilities given to the Chief Electoral Officer are a good thing, but it will be difficult for him to act upon them without fixed election dates. I truly do not envy the task that Alberta’s elections staff have. Elections get called unexpectedly and elections Alberta has less than a month to arrange the hiring and management of enough people to conduct and election in 83 constituencies. This is a nearly impossible task considering Alberta’s labor shortage. It is little wonder that there was mass confusion at the polls in last spring’s election. It is not like a hiring and training program can be implemented when the election date is unknown.

 Fixed election dates would greatly improve the preparation for and management of elections. Special Ed clearly will not implent that simple and critical electoral reform. Stelmach has already demonstrated a trend of protecting his power jealously.

 When rejecting fixed election dates, Stelmach snapped that it would have no impact on voter turnout. Voter turnout alone is not the reason we need this reform. To put it simply, fixed election dates are needed for a proper democratic system. One thing that is leading to our dismal voter turnouts is increasing voter cynicism due to being lied to by their elected leaders. Stelmach barely got out of the gate as Premier before flip-flopping on the promise to reduce cabinet to 17 members. Special Ed quickly learned that the plum of cabinet appointments is his best method of caucus control. The more cabinet positions Stelmach has, the more incentive MLAs have to kiss the Premier’s ass.

 Harper’s reversal on his commitment to fixed election dates did little to instill faith in the electorate. Harper’s shaky excuse of having a dysfunctional parliament hardly cuts it. Joe Clark proved what happens when a minority leader acts as if he has a majority. Harper could very well have simply governed as he pleased and called every vote a confidence vote. In that case, either his bills would be passed (parliament would have been functional), or the opposition would bring the government down and Harper would get the election that he desired without breaking the spirit of his own law. Using the aforementioned strategy would have taken the power from Harper’s hands to have an election when it best benefits his own party however thus he simply ignored his own commitments and dissolved parliament.

 As somebody who has ran in a few elections I have always had to deal with hearing people spout about how all politicians are the same and how all politicians are liars. I do not agree with that assessment, but our examples in our legislatures certainly do not make it easy to counter the assertions of the bitter. It is up to the electorate to vote out politicians when they lie to us. Rest assured if enough MLAs and MPs lose their jobs over the course of a couple elections, we will see a great change in attitude among those elected. Sadly, instead of taking an increased role in democracy as we need them to, many voters are simply sinking into a cynical funk and are not voting at all. It is a sad and dangerous trend for us all.

 While I generally loath Canada’s version of Pravda (the CBC), one gem the CBC does retain is Rex Murphy. Murphy stands up for free speech and does not hesitate to be critical of any party when it is warranted whether Liberal or Conservative. He sums up Harper’s flip-flop quite well.

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