Thursday, March 31, 2005

A Measure of Media Bias

I found this paper while doing a bit of research for my term work.

"In this paper we estimate ADA (Americans for Democratic Action) scores for major media outlets such as the New York Times, USA Today, Fox News’ Special Report, and all three network television news shows. Our estimates allow us to answer such questions as “Is the average article in the New York Times more liberal than the average speech by Tom Daschle?” or “Is the average story on Fox News more conservative than the average speech by Bill Frist?” To compute our measure, we count the times that a media outlet cites various think tanks and other policy groups. We compare this with the times that members of Congress cite the same groups in their speeches on the floor of the House and Senate. By comparing the citation patterns we construct an ADA score."


Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Mad Stamm gets a new ride

My friend Mike Stamm recently moved back to his homeland of Switzerland after graduating from the Engineering program at the University of Alberta and has just contacted me about his new ride, an older Subaru Impreza GT.

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I liked some of Mike's comments about his new ride:

98 Subaru Impreza GT

technical data:

- engine: 2.0L Turbo (just rebuilt completely, stock except for chip mod (boost pressure increase at higher rpm)

(power/torque: ~270hp at the crank/330Nm... lots, for now...)

- fuel mileage: depends, anywhere from good to really, really bad.. 22mi/ga average

- performance/fun factor: inversely proportional to fuel mileage

- drivetrain: 5-speed, permanent 4x4, lock-up rear diff

- suspension: bilstein springs and shocks (great on good roads, nasty on nasty roads)

- exhaust: Supersprint (made in italy, sounds just like Italians are: loud.)

- brakes: "bremsa", also italian, clamp down like Berlusconi on liberals

Mike worked in downtown Zurich and would brag about these young Swiss finance guys who drove at minimum a Ferrari, Aston Martin or Porsche like 220 km/hr through downtown. Crazy Swiss.

I have had this ritual of going out to Nordegg every May long weekend for the past 8 years. Last summer, Stamm was the only guy who could pull it off, and he took this amazing picture of Fish Lake. It snowed all night, but he got up in the morning with his trusty Pentax and snapped this photo:

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Anyway, if I ever have to go to Switzerland, I'll definitely find old Stamm and say hello. Come to think of it, maybe I'll do it this summer. I could easily write my MA thesis in the Swiss Alps, I can tell you that much.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Mr. Dithers goes to Crawford

Via comes this article from MacLean's.

The slack life

I don't know who wrote this, but it sure is a good read. My Dad sent it to me.

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A boat docked in a tiny Mexican village. An American tourist complimented the Mexican fisherman on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took him to catch them.

"Not very long," answered the Mexican.

"But then, why didn't you stay out longer and catch more?" asked the American.

The Mexican explained that his small catch was sufficient to meet his needs and those of his family.

The American asked, "But what do you do with the rest of your time? "I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, and take a siesta with my wife. In the evenings, I go into the village to see my friends, have a few drinks, play the guitar, and sing a few songs . . .I have a full life."

The American interrupted, "I have an MBA from Harvard and I can help you! You should start by fishing longer every day. You can then sell the extra fish you catch. With the extra revenue, you can buy a bigger boat.

With the extra money the larger boat will bring, you can buy a second one and a third one and so on until you have an entire fleet of trawlers. Instead of selling your fish to a middle man, you can negotiate directly with the processing plants and maybe even open your own plant. You can then leave this little village and move to Mexico City, Los Angeles, or even New York City! From there you can direct your huge enterprise."

How long would that take?" asked the Mexican.

Twenty, perhaps twenty-five years," replied the American.

"And after that?"

Afterwards? That's when it gets really interesting," answered the American, laughing "When your business gets really big, you can start selling stocks and make millions!"

"Millions? Really?" And after that?"

After that you'll be able to retire, live in a tiny village near the coast, sleep late, play with your children, catch a few fish, take a siesta with your wife and spend your evenings drinking and enjoying your friends."

Know where you're going in life... you may already be there!

Starwars, Geekified

I didn't get half the subtitles in this nerd's adaptation of the Star Wars trailer, but it sure was funny.
A little background reading is in order.
133t  - A commonly used word to mis-represent "elite."

A possible outgrowth of "All your base are belong to us".

Monday, March 28, 2005

Imagine Terri Were a Toaster …

Oh, those economists.

An economist considers the Schiavo case.

Economics is the science of competing preferences, and if ever preferences have competed, they're competing in the Terri Schiavo case. So a little economic analysis might reveal an insight or two beyond what's already come out of this controversy.

Not Dad's America

Via Common Dreams:

"The only thing worse than the government these days -- if such is possible -- are those portions of the populace to whom this government owes its allegiance. These are people for whom the country got off on the wrong track a half-century ago when hippies and flower children became symbols of a new, permissive culture and "race relations" -- a euphemism in an era when "colored people" knew their place -- exploded in a civil rights struggle that upset a settled and long-accepted way of life."

Sounds like something Old Pops Braaten would say.

Email to K

Here's an excerpt from an email to a friend of mine concerning Teri Schiavo.

Based on the videos of Teri, I'd say she is still a "sentient" being. She could remember stuff. If you have seen "eternal sunshine of the spotless mind" you might be led to the conclusion that, in such a state, all we are is a collection of memories. If the memories are still there, then perhaps the person is.

I think a lot of the polls on this are biased to state that people would want her to die. What I don't get is why that Dr. Kevorkian was such a villain. Somehow we are able to delineate and rationalize the pulling of a feeding tube and assisted suicide. (by "we" I mean the court of public opinion). It's not okay for a person to make the conscious choice to have assistance in their own suicide. The case being made here seems to be that Teri is incapable of making her own choices, so others have the right to do it for her. I find the latter to be stranger than the former.

Some things that help me make sense of it are:

* The parents want to see her live, but the husband doesn't. Put yourself in his shoes. He wants her dead so he can move on with life. But that's his choice, and by law, as husband, he has the right to decide on her behalf, even if I disagree with him and think he's a creep.

* A lot of the people who claim to be supporting her are, to an extent, advancing their own agenda.

* This decision will prove convenient to allow governments off the hook for keeping "useless" people alive in hospitals. I mean, you know Paul Boothe's claim that health expenditures are increasing at a rate twice as fast as the real economy's ability to grow, so either taxes will go up or we make cuts to other areas. Economics of the future will require that the euthanasia (assisted suicide or whatever) will soon be tendered as a means of stemming the expenditures of keeping people in this state alive. It's disturbing. But then again, if this were the 50's, people like Teri would not have survived for the past 15 years. Assisted suicide in Canada is inevitable (or at least a debate). The age dependency ratio indicates that this is the case.

Now, back to my shite-pile of work.

Paper topics:

Transport: Critter crossings (wildlife highway crossings)

Econometrics: Gender and telecom

Doug West IO: Airline mergers

McMillan Pub Exp: ??

I've started a blog with nothing but command files at

If you have any old command and data files, email them to me.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Martin's Waco Weekend

Does anyone find this meeting to be somewhat creepy?

Google News Search: Task Force on the Future of North America

Google News Search: Paul Martin Waco

Google search: Paul Martin Waco

Seems like it's more of a sovereignty sellout than the Missile Defence Shield would have been.

Here's how I see it: PMPM gets political capital with Canadians in making the BMD shield opt-out announcement and accrues a political capital deficit with President Bush. He then balances the accounts with this one, spending Canadian political capital on a reconciliation with President Bush.

I'll have to give it to him; he's one daft chap, that Mr. Martin.

Don Hill speaks out

Don has jumped into the conversation on the CAJ email-list and has given me permission to publish this email. It is Don's first public address concerning his situation.

Don:I'm now able to weigh-in on this conversation.

On Thu, 24 Mar 2005 19:50:10 -0400, J
<> wrote:
> I share Fiona's skepticism on this, and let me remind everyone I *am* a CBC
> employee.

And I am now an ex-CBC employee. The Canadian Media Guild, meantime,
is pursuing a VERY LARGE grievance on my behalf. And it's likely --
given the extraordinary circumstances surrounding my alleged
'redundancy' -- my status with the CBC in Alberta will change again,
sooner than later.

So why am I now an ex-employee?

I had been forbidden, earlier this week, by CBC 'regional' management
in Alberta to give a lecture to a _university_ political science
class. This was a clear attempt, the CMG concurs, to muzzle me. No, I
wasn't going to discuss the circumstances of my alleged 'redundancy'.
My 'talk' was about the political history of Alberta and how the
present dynamic -- the democracy deficit, in particular -- creates the
conditions for another rapid-fire political movement in the province.
In fact, my 'lecture' was an audition for a series of engagements with
the University of Lethbridge's department of Globalization Studies; I
was in a job-interview situation (I have another life as an academic
teaching, for instance, at the Banff Centre's Leadership Development

I was warned by a 'regional' CBC manager that I could not proceed with
the lecture because I would be in conflict with the CBC "journalistic
policy handbook". That's right, speaking about historical facts and
democracy is forbidden (according to 'regional' CBC management in

Upon consultation with the CMG, I decided to proceed with the lecture,

> Aaron Braatan replied to my earlier request for more hard facts with this:
> >
> > Ask: "Was don Hill fired over the Enron thing?". You'll get a
> > resounding echo of nothingness out of the CBC. They hope it'll go
> > away, perhaps.
> Sorry, silence doesn't prove anything. Any professional organization worth
> its salt will refuse to comment on why it terminated an employee. Refusal to
> comment doesn't mean conspiracy.

Of course, I have no quarrel whatsoever with the Canadian Broadcasting
Corporation. It is a unique and valuable institution. I love working
with the CBC. And I expect to back on-the-air -- sooner than later
(keep reading). But there is something definitely odd about the
circumstances around my alleged 'redundancy'. Doubly so, given the
real politik at the provincial Legislature in Alberta, which routinely
'ices' reporters who ask questions that are seemingly critical of the
government's behaviour (this is a matter of public record; for
instance, a documentary prepared for the CBC's Undercurrents). How the
national public broadcaster has been influenced by this fact should be
open to debate. However, I must emphasize that the Canadian Media
Guild agrees that my alleged 'redundancy' doesn't square with the
> RG replied to me this way:
> > Don Hill was demanding that the Market Surveillance Administrator
> > reopen an investigation based on new information found by Snohomish
> > County lawyers in the course of investigating the Enron allegations.
> To which I would ask: When is it a journalist's job to demand that an
> investigation be reopened? The CBC has guidelines in place prohibiting its
> journalists from becoming advocates for causes. It's hard to interpret Rob's
> reply as anything but an admission that Hill had become an advocate.

I, along with my guests, for instance, Opposition critics of the
Liberal and New Democrats were asking a question over several
broadcasts; I certainly wasn't 'demanding' anything. When legal
counsel in the court case unfolding in the United States presented FBI
and Department of Justice evidence that named-names of prominent
Albertans directly involved in the electricity 'restructuring' of this
province's power-grid, you'd think Alberta media would echo my
question, Ought not there be a full judicial enquiry (the province has
repeatedly refused to consider the question, electricity
'restructuring' being one of the government's pet initiatives during
the 1990s)?

In the weeks that followed:

The Market Surveillance Administrator resisted repeated requests for
an interview. His final response – which up to that time typically
emitted from a communications person – a terse paragraph denying
access to the public servant came from the MSA's legal counsel.

Three days after my final broadcast, the MSA relented. Based upon the
information I had on hand, the MSA admitted the new evidence --
evidence I _first_ presented for the consideration of CBC Alberta
listeners -- was enough to trigger a request for the federal Combines
investigators to reopen the investigation.

> A final word from a CBC colleague who I'll quote anonymously:
> > My bosses would squeel with
> > delight if I could expose something like that, not yank me off the air and
> > gag me. I find this a little hard to swallow. Do people really think the
> > Corp would axe a guy who "exposed" corporate and possibly government
> > wrongdoing?

Yes, I would support that view. That's been my experience working with
other fine CBC managers in the many jurisdictions I've worked in both
radio and television (and as a manager!) across the country. And when
I hosted a network programme, I was confident that management always
looked after it's front-line documentarians when the going got rough.
And I was never let down on the really difficult stories. That's what
the CBC is celebrated for.

But here's what's happened in Alberta: It's one thing for mainstream
media outside the CBC loop not to pick up on our stories; it's quite
the other when internally, the CBC obfuscates, obstructs or ignores a
breaking story generated by its own people.

Just before I went to air with recorded conversations between Enron
traders and their Alberta counterparts at Transalta – conversations I
vetted with CBC lawyers in Toronto -- a CBC 'regional' news-manager
intervened. She asked, Can't this wait a week? And I said sure, If you
want to be second.

When my 'phone in' programme started to wake up the slumbering media
beast in Alberta, the story I broke from Edmonton was ignored by the
managing news editor and the executive producer of news on the shop
floor. That's right, the CBC did not _follow_ up on its own story. Not
a whisper.
> I'm still waiting for something credible I can take up the line.

Well, J, I'll take you up on that. You're now obligated.

But what of the 'redundancy' you might ask? Didn't eighteen people in
total lose their jobs across the Dominion's airwaves? And you would be
smart to ask about that.

The Canadian Media Guild, as I mentioned in a prior paragraph, is
deeply concerned about the circumstances around my 'redundancy'. A
big, big, big grievance is proceeding. Here are the facts:

I am a bureau of one in Edmonton. I didn't have a producer nor a
researcher, nor a budget for guests. I didn't have any resources other
than a cellphone. That's right no money for a magazine or newspaper or
book. The part-time technician did not screen calls -- he merely
answered the phone, took names, put them on hold -- I took callers as
they came up on the phone tree.

The programme before my 'phone in' show, which generates a little over
forty-five minutes of content has a staff complement in Calgary of

So the economic argument doesn't wash.

The CMG eyebrows first went up when I had been repeatedly dragged in
on a 'disciplinary' hearing that clearly had no basis (from the
union's point of view), and subsequently was abandoned by CBC
'regional' management. This went on between November through until the
end of January 2005.

The CMG noted, as had I, that the level of 'complaints' to audience
relations and the Ombudsman about my 'phone in' programme was
disproportionate to the care & attention required for both the morning
and afternoon CBC 'regional' flagship programmes -- shows which have a
significantly larger audience available to draw upon. There was a
particular spike of 'interest' in my little ghetto during the
provincial election campaign, last November.

Let me leave you, for now, with this scenario:

For those of you old enough to have lived through this it will be well
worth remembering the events of October of 1970. In the province of
Quebec, terrorists kidnapped and killed a politician. The federal
government responded with a blunt instrument, The War Measures Act.
And martial law accorded the SQ - the provincial police in Quebec -
with extraordinary powers of arrest. So what did the SQ do?

Think about that. Then think about my 'redundancy' as a similar
(contextually) opportunity.

Think about 'journalism' in Alberta. The tumble of financial and
political events -- the latest being the shenanigans at the Alberta
Security Exchange Commission -- just now making its way through the
front pages and business sections of the national papers. And think
about where the Alberta media is on this.

Name me one important story over the past year that's been _broken_ by
the 'regional' news departments of the CBC in Edmonton or Calgary? How
about last year? And the year before?

Let me be clear: I'm not talking about corruption or collusion. It's
something more dreadful: There has been over a decade of
_conditioning_ of the news cycle in Alberta (the CBC Undercurrents doc
predicated as much). And evidence suggests this may have affected the
news judgment of the 'regional' CBC.

CBC 'regional' television newscasts are irrelevant in the lives of
Albertans. More people watch the fireplace channel than the CBC's
supper hour news. And perhaps that's why parliament assigned an extra
60 million dollars to beef up 'regional' broadcasting by the CBC.

Uh-huh. Sixty big ones for the 'regions'. Regions like Alberta.

Yet, I'm 'redundant'.



Friday, March 25, 2005


I made a new blog,econometrix, about econometrics. Pretty creepy stuff.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

It's like boiling frogs

My Dad once used the story about how to boil a frog to explain society's slippery slopes. He'd basically explain that you can't throw a frog into a pot of water at a rolling boil, because it will hop right out. But if you put it in cool water and gradually turn up the heat, the frog won't mind. I doubt many people have actually tried this, but it's a way to explain social change.

In the latest boiling frog news, a bunch of little kids were arrested recently for trying to bring Teri Schiavo water. What a world we live in.

It reminds me of the time my old hockey coach, Petr, took us to the Terezin Nazi death camp. He told us that his grandmother was thrown into the camp for throwing bread over the walls to the Jews inside. Human suffering is just that: suffering, and when a society arrests people for trying to alleviate it, you know we are at the brink of something big.

Watch Teri interact with her Mom and Dad. I think there's still plenty of humanness left in her.

Prof. Dahlby's Astute Analysis

Professor Dahlby of the University of Alberta's Department of Economics has an excellent analysis of deficits and debt reduction here. The man is a guru.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

CBC silences Don Hill - again?

Something shady is afoot. As stated in my March 22 entry HERE, Don Hill was scheduled to do an online broadcast at the U of L's Globalization Studies website with Dr. Tony Hall.

More on this later, but Tony has been circulating the word that the CBC made moves to prevent Don Hill from broadcasting.

**CORRECTION** I contacted Tony Hall, and he says that Don will speak in class, but that it will not be webcast. But now it appears as though Don didn't even go.

"The idea has been raised on posting a
notice" Don Hill's webcast presentation has been censored by the CBC."

"Don is currently driving towards
Lethbridge to attend my class. Yesterday the official CBC position was
that if he spoke at the University of Lethbridge he would be fired. He is
still on the pay roll apparently. His union, however, is apparently
treating the matter as "intimidation." We'll see what happens tonight. Try
to tune into . My view is that we need need
to politicize this whole affair in a way that is supportive of the CBC but
critical of its officials (ie Don Orchard) who betray the important public
trust that we have given them. To me Don Hill has lived up to the public
trust we invest in our CBC broadcasters. We need to take the issue beyond
the CBC to the issue of the bad and corrupt government which prevails in
this oil-rich oligarchy. The treatment afforded Don simply encapsulates a
more pervasive malaise that permeates the USocentric,
privatization-obsessed, conflict-of-interest-infested power structure
here. If Alberta was a corporation, it would be Enron and its CEO would be
Enron flunky Dim Jinning. Maybe we can start to shape the Friends of Don
Hill,, your blog and other agencies of the Axis
of Enlightenment into something with the capacity to bring about positive
change in Alberta and beyond,

Thanks for the interest,

Tony Hall

Monday, March 21, 2005

The Commies are Coming! The Commies are Coming!

My latest for the Gateway. No, I ain't no Commie.

Some say they were “raptured” just before the Berlin Wall fell, whereas others claim they are simply hiding out at the Parkland Institute, lying low, waiting for the resurrection of Mao and his prophet Lenin. “They” are the communists, and it is clear to me that they have infiltrated the University in order to corrupt our precious bodily fluids.

Thanks to four brave business students, who no doubt endured persecution for their pro-capitalist view, the opaque façade of a mere “liberal” campus media bias was recently stripped away to reveal just how far the tripe-like tentacles of the international communist conspiracy have penetrated every cell of our venerable institution.


Eaaaasy Babiak, Eaaaasy.

Todd Babiak has a word or two concerning CTV's sitcom, Corner Gas. Todd thinks Corner Gas isn't funny. Hey, maybe Todd is right. But I think the writers of Corner Gas should let Todd do a cameo on Corner Gas as an Edmonton-based writer who gets stranded in a small town in Saskatchewan. That would be funny. But go easy Todd, because Corner Gas is the best thing going, or, least worst, depending on one's opinion.

Ontario blogger just choked at CBC

Via comes this story about an Ontario blogger who is in one hell of a tift with the CBC over some of its war art coverage. This comment by the CBC sent the blogger into rant territory:

"I've got a way for you not to pay for the CBC. Leave Canada."

I'd be just choked too. As a matter of fact, I am.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

No Pants Day 2005 is May 6th

Just so you know,No Pants Day 2005 is May 6th.

Would-be University Students a good way to sell papers

Yesterday a 16 year old kid from Vancouver came to my door (I live in Edmonton) explaining that if he signed up 1,000 people to the National Post, Canwest was giving him a $1,000 education savings bond for school. All I had to do was sign up for 6 months worth of the Saturday Post, at 2 dollars a pop. The Post even throws in the weekdays for free. Thinking to myself "How could I deny a kid an education?" I signed up. Of course, after I signed up I found out he's making $1,000 to $1,500 dollars a week selling newspaper subscriptions. So he's not as hungry of a student I initially took him to be. But still, kudos to the Post for finally finding a way to get me to buy their rag. I'll cancel if the price goes up, though.

Uh oh

From the Edmonton Sun
Power struggle
TransAlta gets no help from Tories in shaking off taint of Enron scandal

With friends like these, who needs enemies? TransAlta Utilities and the Alberta Tories have this relationship going. They're not exactly attached at the hip. But a lot of prominent PCs are on its board. Former provincial treasurer - and reported heir apparent for the premier's job - Jim Dinning was an executive vice-president until he curiously resigned Jan. 1 to head up a small bank based out of High River.

Last week TransAlta's name came up in the legislature. This is not a good thing. Especially when it's linked with former Enron Canada president Rob Milnthorp and ex-Enron general counsel Mark Haedicke.

Haedicke, among other things, is suffering the wrath of ex-Enron workers who lost their jobs and pensions after he got a $750,000 bonus, days before the big power marketer went bankrupt. Enron is now facing charges that it rigged the California power market in 2000.

The Alberta Liberals went on the attack after they found what they claimed was a damning e-mail in the mountains of Enron files and transcripts recently released by the United States Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

The document was called "Project Stanley" - the code name Enron execs invented to allegedly manipulate energy markets in California and Texas. And, if you believe the attorney general of California Bill Lockyer, honed their illegal craft, fixing the Alberta market in the early days of Ralph Klein's botched energy-deregulation regime.



Saturday, March 19, 2005

Maybe Marcella knows

Here's something for you. From Islamcity, there's an interesting theory why the CBC's Counterspin was pulled due to political pressure:

"I believe that the very popular CBC program "COUNTERSPIN" too was
unceremoniously cancelled by the CBC because of pressure from Jewish lobby
groups and right-wingers, who thought the program was giving too much chances for Canadians to express their views against Israel and the USA. In one of the episodes, the famous Jewish criminal, lawyer Alan Dershowitz, was mauled by Rabbi Michael Lerner. Towards the end of the show, angry Dershowitz scolded the show host Carol Off, and, lo and behold, it did not take too long for the show to be shut down.

. . .

"It's about privatization and it's about control. Business owns so much medi
a already. The CBC is the only 'mainstream' kind of news left, if it gets
rid of it's public debate shows there is no voice left for regular
Canadians. That is my fear, we are being shut up." - Vive Le Canada"

Maybe my cousin, Marcella Munro, who produced it would know for sure, and maybe she'd have some insight concerning the behind-the-scenes politicking that goes on at the CBC. Such insights might help me in my quest to document the saga of Don Hill. It looks like she's back in Burnaby, as Sean Holman has found out. Marcella looks strikingly like my Mom.

The Anielski and Braaten Cafe

Here is a chat Mark and I had several months ago.

Mark Anielski Interview with Aaron Braaten

September 20, 2004

My first question:

Q.What is the difference between an economist and an ecological economist?.

Ecological economists see the economy as a wholly owned subsidiary of the ecosystem. The economy, which is the combined activities of household(s), businesses, and governments in the community, is embedded and dependent upon the ecosphere. Ecological economists recognize that both words “ecology” and “economics” have the same Greek root work oikos meaning household and that both denote stewardship or careful management of the well-being of the household and nature and that their well-being is inextricably linked. Economics combines oikos with nomia (or management) while ecology combines oikos with logia (or logic or knowledge).

Q: So I take it that the two disciplines don’t mesh that well.

Classical economists do not see nature as scarce nor do they always see its biophysical carrying capacity as a limiting factor to the continued expansion of Gross Domestic Product. In principle, most economists see no limit to the growth of the production of goods and services (measured by GDP growth) with technology and substitution of human/produced capital for natural capital with technology as having a continuous promise of redemption.

Ecological economists see natural, human and social capital as assets that can depreciate and these need to be treated as such in the system of national accounts and have proposed alternative measures to the GDP.

Q: What types of Measures?

The Genuine Progress Index (GPI) or the Index for Sustainable Economic Welfare (ISEW) both come to mind. These subtract human, social and natural capital depreciation as genuine costs of progress. Economists tend to believe in the benevolence of the market to reveal all values, expressed in monetary terms and that in essence, all humans act in a similar fashion as utility maximizing creatures.

Q: Adbusters magazine recently proposed a scenario where the world as we know it was done away with, and they asked us to re-define the world we want to live in. Adbusters highlights your work with Redefining Progress on their Genuine Progress Indicator. Were you surprised at being identified as a Revolutionary?

The tribute paid to my name in Adbusters as a rising star amongst “revolutionary” economists came as no particular surprise, even though I had to be informed by my banking friend Bob Williams, former Chairman of Van City (Canada’s largest credit union). I wouldn’t have used the word “revolutionary” to describe my work. I’d prefer “renaissance” or “enlightened” economics.

Adbusters was one of the first popular periodical to highlight the Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI), developed in 1995 by the San Francisco-based economic think-tank Redefining Progress. The GPI was one of the most exciting pieces of economic research I had ever witnessed; an attempt to adjust the GDP (akin to tracking only the revenue line on the national income statement) for the value of unaccounted assets (like unpaid work time and parenting) and deduct the costs of natural, human and social depreciation.

Q. So the GPI says that there are costs to growth? What costs?

Deductions include a cost placed on rising income inequality and regrettable expenditures on divorce lawyers, environmental pollution cleanups, and buying locks and alarm systems to protect our personal property. It only made sense that these expenditures might be defined as “regrettable” costs of progress.

Q: Does Alberta have a GPI?

The US GPI work led to my vision of creating a more expansive GPI accounting for the province of Alberta. I completed the Alberta GPI Sustainable Well-being Accounting in 2001 with 4 other economic researchers with the Alberta-based environmental policy think-tank, the Pembina Institute for Appropriate Development. This represented the next important chapter in advancing my vision of a new balance sheet for the nation and provinces that would integrate human, social, natural, produced and financial capital asset accounting.

That model has morphed into Genuine Wealth Accounting; an integrated five-capital, values-based well-being measurement and reporting system for governments or businesses to use in managing for genuine sustainability and living economies.

Q: What’s at the root of Genuine Wealth?

Well, the purpose of an economy is to enhance the collective well-being of households and it is founded on principles of frugality and sufficiency in right balance with nature.

Q: What’s your educational Background?

My academic path was akin to a Renaissance man, with studies in pre-med sciences, economics, accounting, forestry, Germanic languages and music. I received bachelor degrees in economics, then forestry and finally a M.Sc. in Forest Economics, all from the University of Alberta.

Q: What’s your professional background?

As a professional resource economist employed with the Government of Alberta as a policy analysis, I was first introduced to the field of ecological economics when I presented at paper (amongst over 200 presented) on natural capital accounting of Alberta’s forests to the second international meeting of the International Society for Ecological Economics in Stockholm, Sweden in August of 1992.

Q: Conferences are good places to meet people.

I met Herman Daly, Bob Costanza, Paul Ehrlich and others who were the founders of the ecological economics discipline. Several months before the Stockholm meeting I met Robert Repetto an economist at the World Resources Institute in Washington, D.C. whose seminal natural resource accounting work Wasting Assets gave me the courage to begin my own work on natural capital accounting for Alberta and Canada.

Q: Wasting Assets. Sounds like the Alberta Tar Sands to me.

As a trained accountant, professional, forester and an economist, it always made sense that we should account for natural capital in a manner similar to how we accounted for manufactured capital, by assessing the physical conditions of our forests, fisheries and agricultural land and accounting for its full depreciation (or appreciation) value in our system of national accounts. Why economists had failed to account for natural, human or social capital in our national accounts and GDP after 50 years of national income accounting never made sense to me. It was time for a renaissance in economics and accounting!

Q: Alberta is on the verge of repaying its debt, due in part to liquidating its main form of natural capital – Oil. Studies by the OECD and the TD Bank have targeted this area as the fastest wealth accumulation zone in North America, yet there never seems to be enough money to pay for hospitals, schools and infrastructure. Care to comment?

The retirement of Alberta’s total financial debt is an important milestone internationally. Few jurisdictions, even Norway, cannot claim to be debt free domestically. Albertans have been able to achieve debt freedom thanks to the liquidation of its non-renewable natural capital assets – oil and natural gas – buoyed by historically high global oil prices. Alberta’s economic future is indeed rosy.

We are arguably the wealthiest – in terms of natural capital. Our oil sand reserves are an estimated 300 billion barrels and represent the world’s largest proven reserves.

Q: 300 Billion is a lot.

It is. Alberta even eclipses Saudi Arabia’s reported reserves of 240 billion barrels, although I don’t trust the Saudi inventory figures. Some analysts project that Oil production will peak in 2005, so we can expect even higher oil and gas prices as nations will scramble for increasing scarce conventional oil supplies.

Q: The implications of which are obviously good, right?

This will make Alberta one of the richest regions in the world. More importantly, the value of Alberta’s oil and gas will increase as the US will look for greater energy security outside of the troubled Middle East. Some analysts anticipate annual oil and gas royalty revenues in Alberta could reach $20 billion in the next few years as oil sands production increases and oil sands royalty revenues increase.

Q: So what about schools and hospitals?

In such a robust revenue climate, the traditional lament that money is scarce will be a moot point. Such robust government revenues will put tremendous pressure on politicians to spend more on schools, hospitals and infrastructure. Other Canadians will look enviously at Alberta’s riches and likely pressure for more equitable wealth distribution. Albertans will be called upon to be prudent and frugal with their spending, keeping the focus on accountability for the highest value of services from each dollar of expenditure.

Q: Back to the frugality issue again. Does frugality imply saving some of that money?

Yes. Alberta should resume saving billions in the Heritage Savings and Trust Fund to build an endowment similar to Norway’s US $100 Petrofund so that earnings from the fund can be available to building a genuinely sustainable and living economy for this and future generations.

Q: Rebuild the Heritage Fund – that sounds like Peter Lougheed talking. Why the Heritage fund?

I’m a firm believer in establishing a healthy savings account of some kind when one is so richly endowed with valuable non-renewable natural capital. The Norwegians have their Petrofund and the Alaskans their Permanent Fund. Alberta’s Heritage Fund should be used in the same prudent way the Norwegians have managed theirs by trying to invest the majority of petroleum royalties in the savings account to draw from when the oil and gas run out or market demand dries up. In principle, one could argue that governments needn’t put any money in savings like you and I might do for retirement. That’s because governments (both federal and provincial), in principle, have the power to create money in sufficient supply to meet the needs of its citizens. Unfortunately no government today exercises this option over money creation, except the Government of Canada through the Bank of Canada albeit with most of its power ceded to the private banks. But I digress.

Q: The government of Alberta has the power to create its own money? How would that work? Wasn’t there a thing called “funny money” back in the Social Credit days?

In theory every community and State has the power to create its own money. For example, Salt Spring Island in B.C. has its own Salt Spring Dollars which is created by its own IMF (Island Monetary Fund) backed 25% by gold bullion reserves. These dollars can be used to purchase local goods and services, if honoured by community businesses, and are redeemable on par (for $1 Canadian) at any bank on Salt Spring. There are many similar examples of local currencies (over 400 internationally and counting). It is surprising that few communities, including provinces, have ever exercised this power over money creation. I believe this is partly due to our reliance on the Bank of Canada to play that role in creating a national currency. Alberta, during the early Socred years of the 1930s and when the province was effectively bankrupt, toyed with the idea of creating its own money or “social credit” but quickly abandoned the idea due, I believe, to enormous pressures by the Money Powers in Toronto (namely the private banks). Few people realize that the vast majority of our money (over 93%) is currently being created by private banks through fractional reserve banking, not the Bank of Canada who can create money without any cost or debt charges to Canadians. What I’m saying is that virtually all money is created in the form of a debt which we know has regrettable consequences for students with loans, farmers with farm debt burdens and households with mortgages (or in French “a pledge unto death”!). In theory all money could be created without debt and interest charges. In reality we have a global system of usury.

I would argue that we have a moral conviction to return money to be the servant of economics, not its master. The great theologian St. Thomas Acquinas reminds us that money has been invented by human beings “for the convenience of exchange by serving as a measure of things saleable.” Aquinas reminds us that money is meant to be an instrument to help in providing that sufficiency of goods required by households for the virtuous life of their members. In this context, the State has duty to see that money is a stable measure of value and that it retains the power over money creation instead of ceding this power to the private banking money power.

I have long advocated, consistent with former Belgium central banker Bernard Leitaer, that each state or community should create its own currency in quantities sufficient to sever the purposes of facilitating the production and distribution of goods and services in sufficient amounts and quality for a virtuous and sustainable living economy, just as the Angelic Doctor suggests. I envision a Genuine Wealth banking and money system in which money is created, not in parallel with debt (as currently happens) but in parallel with ensuring the sustainability of a communities human, social, natural and built (infrastructure) capital assets for a good life.

Q: That word – Sustainability – I’ve heard it used by everyone from Ralph Klein to George Bush to the Pope. It sounds like that word used by Business students called “synergy”. Everyone seems to use it, but it’s tough to nail down the definition. What does it mean to you personally, and what do you think it means socially?

At a personal level sustainability means living frugally -- with a conscious sense of sufficiency and “enough” – and yet achieving the highest quality of life through eating well (organic), loving abundantly, using time effectively, and living within the means of nature. Living sustainably means ensuring that our “genuine wealth” (wealth correctly defined in the Old English as “the conditions of well-being”) is being well managed in accordance with what we value most in life.

At a societal level sustainability means the integration of our environment, economy, social systems, and individual health and fulfillment in every aspect of our decision making over the long term. Sustainability is more than a vision, it is a way of living completely within nature’s limits, with a prosperous economy, in healthy communities, marked by a high quality of life for all citizens.

Q: Societies typically only become concerned about the environment after having achieved a certain level of prosperity. If Alberta is set to become one of the wealthiest zones on the planet, will that necessarily correlate with being leaders in achieving a sustainable future? Will we wake up one day and say “Hey look! We’re sustainable”?

Preston Manning recently mused that it might be time for a new political party in Alberta to replace the tired Progressive Conservatives. He suggested that because of a lagged wave of environmentalism in Alberta, a “green” political party might be the ticket to ride.

Q: The Alberta Greens? That’s interesting.

Alberta is full of paradoxes. Consider that the Green Party of Canada had one of the highest percentages of the popular vote in Alberta during the 2004 federal election.

If Manning is correct and Albertans are indeed leaning towards a shade of green, then I believe Alberta could lead the nation in genuine sustainable development. However, I wouldn’t count on the Conservatives whose environmental performance record and commitment to real sustainability has been poor. Take for example, Environment Minister Lorne Taylor’s battle against Kyoto. In my mind Kyoto represents a huge business opportunity to both benefit from the bonzana of soaring oil prices and bountiful oilsands while investing some of these revenues in the most advanced carbon management systems in the world as well as investing in a world-class renewable energy infrastructure for the benefit of our grandchildren. That would be a sustainable strategy for Alberta.

I believe the political fortunes of this province belong to a new and young generation of leaders who understand sustainability at the heart which is about frugal and prudent stewardship of our genuine wealth: our human, social and natural capital assets. The wise leaders know that sustainability is not a destination but a journey. It’s like gardening; requiring careful and regular tending, fertilizing, and weeding to achieve a bountiful harvest that can be perpetuated over generations. Just perhaps a new party will rise up to seize this opportunity and vision of genuine sustainability, just as Peter Lougheed rose from the ashes of the tired Socred Party with a vision for a flourishing Alberta.

Q: Do you ever wonder if the potential for a Greener Provincial government could get mired in the short-term musings of separatism and revenue hoarding? Implementing Kyoto could come across as another NEP in Alberta and could be exploited as such by western separatists.

A wise and green provincial government would distance itself from the childish separatism cry of our past Conservative governments. A wise government would see opportunity in Alberta leading the nation both in terms of strategic oil/gas reserves while investing the world’s benchmark of a sustainable, living economy. If I was Premier, this is the vision I would carry in my heart: a vision of a sustainable, living economy that ensures genuine wealth now and over the next century. Alberta neoconservatives’ threat of separatism and non-compliance on Kyoto serve as an example of political immaturity and are useful instruments in the political polemic of the Klein government while contributing to the distracting federal-provincial dialectic.

I believe Albertans hunger for wise and prudent leadership. Indeed, being debt-free and endowed with black gold compels us to show leadership and responsibility to our children and to the rest of Canada. Alberta can and should become the international benchmark for a sustainable economy.

Q: Would Kyoto be a way of increasing our lagging amounts of private research and development?

The economic Armageddon rhetoric about the impacts of Alberta complying with Kyoto protocol objectives is, in my opinion, pure polemic. Alberta’s compliance with the Kyoto protocol target of 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions over 1990 levels (about 20 megatonnes of carbon per year) represents one of the most important investment opportunities in our life time. Alberta could easily achieve the true and full costs of achieving a carbon reduction strategy without even a tremor in Alberta’s GDP while reaping lasting research and development investment benefits.

Q: I’m going to need some figures.

I have estimated, based on the full cost accounting work of removing 20 megatonnes of carbon and storing it underground would cost Alberta about $741 million per year. These cost estimates are based on the work by carbon management expert Dr. David Keith (U of C engineering professor formally of Carnegie Melon). Dr. Keith has estimated an average engineering cost US $100/t of CO2 or Cdn. $27.30/t of C) for a cradle-to-cradle , or, from source of emission to underground storage, carbon management solution.

Q: 741 million dollars is a lot of money, like six times the total student debt load in Alberta.

$741 million is peanuts: a mere 0.43% of Alberta’s 2003 GDP. Moreover, the petroleum industry receives upwards of $283 million in royalty tax credits and the sector as a whole is already highly subsized sector. Consider also that Alberta’s gambling revenues in 2003 were $1,168 million. My point is that the financial pain is rather insignificant and if equitably shared by both Albertans and industry, achieving Kyoto’s ambitious target would not be as onerous as some may suggest. Indeed, I believe Kyoto represents an investment opportunity and potentially an export industry as our expertise in sequestering or storing carbon would become an important skill and asset globally.

Q: You were recently working with Raffi on a project. What’s that all about?

Raffi and I have become good friends over the last year. Raffi, arguably one of the most successful and well-known child entertainers, is currently on a concept he calls Child Honouring. It is an attempt to raise the consciousness of adults to the importance of the well-being of the young child as the primary foundation of a good and sustainable society. Raffi believes that children, particularly those aged 1-6 are mostly invisible in the minds and policies of governments. They simply don’t count in most of our measures of progress yet unless a child has a loving and solid foundation in life, he or she can become tomorrow’s societal cost. His song, inspired by Nelson Mandela, says it all “Turn, turn, turn, turn this world around, for the children, turn this world around.”

I recently spent time with Raffi on Mayne Island in B.C. where we completed a visioning exercise to imagine a change in how we would report progress differently on Monday morning, with children in mind. Instead of waking to the grim news of another death in Iraq and another point spread in the stock markets, we would hear how Canada’s quality of life index had changed and why the Gross National Happiness had moved up or down in the last month. Raffi and I have also joined forces to examine how we would measure what I call “genuine wealth” and progress from the perspective of a child. So we asked a group of children at our most recent Ecological Economics conference in Jasper in October to help us identify what makes them happy and what makes them sad. Children have a remarkable way of cutting through the rhetoric of our age and raising our consciences with those probing “why?” questions.

Q: You’re involved in something called social entrepreneurship. Care to elaborate?

I teach a course in Corporate Social Responsibility and Social Entrepreneurship in the School of Business for MBA/4th year business students. There are many definitions of a “social” entrepreneur. In my mind a social entrepreneur is a person who, with sound business acumen and skills, operates his or her enterprise in a way that puts people (and the environment) before profits, yet is committed to operating an efficient and effective enterprise.

Q: Are there any courses that stand out in your mind or professors at the U of A who would be good mentors for would-be understudies who wish to become ecological economists, enlightened neoclassicals and the like?

Unfortunately there are no ecological economics professors at the U of A, with the exception of myself although I am only an Adjunct Professor in the School of Business and do not formally teach ecological economics. This is true of most universities in Canada with the exception of Dr. Bill Rees at UBC, Dr. Frank Müller at Concordia University in Montreal, and Dr. Peter Brown at McGill. Only Dr. Müller is in an economics department.

From my experience at the U of A, the most enlightened group of economists who understand the origins of the Greek work oikonomia (household stewardship) and ecology (oikos-logia) can be found in both the Departments of Rural Economy and Human Ecology both in the Faculty of Agriculture, Forestry and Home Economics. There are no ecological economists in either of these departments nor in the Department of Economics. However, I would recommend resource economists Dr. Vic Adamowicz and Dr. Peter Boxall in Rural Economy and Dr. Janet Fast in Human Ecology as excellent mentors to students interested in studying real economics.

Friday, March 18, 2005

WTF? Cellucci new Magna VP

Now this is interesting.

Yahoo! TORONTO (CP) - Struggling horse track operator Magna Entertainment Corp. has named Paul Cellucci, the straight-talking former U.S. ambassador to Canada as vice-president of corporate development, the spinoff of auto-parts giant Magna International Inc. said Friday.

Technorati Search: "Don Hill" CBC

Through technorati, I found some bloggers other than myself who have mentioned Don Hill.

Mr. Murgatroyd found Don Hill to be annoying. It's his right to have that opinion. Lots of people share it. I don't, and as Stuart Smalley says, "That's, okay".

Here's some interesting comments from Revolutionary Moderation.

To fuel the suspense even more, may I remind you that it appears as though Don has something big coming up. No word on what that is, but it's big.
Of course, keep up-to-date by visiting my main Don Hill thread.

Orchard Snubbed, CBC Chair slides out

I don't know much about David Orchard, but he has his ideas. I know Don Hill likes him. But through this post at the Vive, I found out that Orchard was shadily banned from the CONservative shindig. I wonder why.

In seemingly unrelated news, the chair of CBC Radio has quit.

Warren K has a blog

This blog is totally new. I used to read this guy who is 104 years old, and lives in New Zealand. He's a member of the Gyroscopic Tuner's Union. I can't find any references to them, so maybe that's a joke. But his rants are awesome. He posted some good stuff at the Vive a while ago.

"Our government for the most part is full of lying and thieving people who do not have my or your best interests at heart. In fact, I am quite certain they are trying to kill us, in many forms."


Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Don Hill

Some searches arrive at this page, so HERE is a link to my stuff on Don Hill.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Lettner wins by 100

As per my previous quasi-prediction, fellow Gateway writer Graham Lettner has won the Student's Union Presidency by 100 votes.

Lettner won 51% of the votes in a 22% voter turnout.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Media Punsteer

After a brief hiatus at the weekend retreat for Supernet Researchers, I've decided that someone needs to catalog the impending rise of rural blogging.

So I've come up with Media Punsteer as a way to blog the impact of broadband in small-town rural Alberta.

Cops shoot to kill

The recent RCMP shooting in Mayerthorpe will no doubt give those security-related government agencies enough of a justification to advance the Canadian police state even further. But the advancement of the police state doesn't come from the Federal level, but from the local level of policing.

Here we find a story about an Edmonton man who was shot 7 times for brandishing a knife. SEVEN damn times.

"Officers yelled several times for him to drop the knife," he said, adding the man then yelled at the officers he was going to come at them with the knife.

"Both officers (drew) their weapons and fired. They really had no option but to draw their weapons. They felt an immediate threat to their lives."

Around 9:20 p.m., one officer fired five shots at the man, while the other cop fired twice, said McLeod. But he said he wasn't sure which officer fired five or two from their 9-mm, police-issue Glock pistols, or how many rounds hit the man. "

Let's not forget it was local police who stalked an Edmonton SUN writer.

Yup, the local cops can shoot to kill and get away with even more since those four RCMP officers were slain.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Bankruptcy terms toughen , but debts are on the rise

The Christian Science Monitor has a good article on the toughening of bankruptcy laws in the US, which will make it more difficult to use bankruptcy as a means to get a fresh start.

Could this be a response to a hidden crisis?

Toughening bankruptcy laws is a salve or treatment for increased debtloads and does little to address the underlying issue: interest.

"Drafted before 9/11 and big corporate bankruptcy scandals, the bill aims to make it harder for individuals to escape debt by declaring bankruptcy.

From 1983 to 2003, bankruptcy filings have increased 500 percent. To the bill's supporters, this represents a "bankruptcy tax" that other consumers pay in the form of higher penalty and late fees on their credit cards and higher down-payment requirements on auto loans. Banks and credit-card companies say many who declare bankruptcy are gaming the system and could afford to pay more.

. . .

Driving the debate are diverging views over why consumers get deeply into debt. Republicans and moderate Democrats who support the bill say the issue is one of personal responsibility and a need to restore the integrity of the bankruptcy system. Critics, including most consumer groups, say the real issue is the vulnerability of American families.

"It will affect people's ability to raise children, educate them and afford medical care," says Marc Abrams, a bankruptcy lawyer at Wilkie Farr & Gallagher in New York. "When bankruptcy was conceived, it was supposed to give an individual a fresh start. This is the end of the fresh start."

The Grameen Phone

My recent post on telecommunications and gender development cited a Vodaphone study done on differences in economic growth rates and cellular phone use received some validation today. The Bangladesh Journal has recently discussed a domestic telephone company, Grameenphone, which recently lowered the costs to cellular users in Bangladesh.

Grameenphone has a project called the Village Phone Program, which actually brings call center employment to poor rural areas.

"The program facilitates women borrowers of Grameen Bank to the GSM technology through the village phones. They become effectively mobile public call offices. This not only provides rural poor with new, exciting income-generating opportunities, but it also helps to enhance the social status of women from poor rural households."

Doing a regression analysis of this trend might be made more robust by incorporating an existing cell-phone/rural-urban ratio index. Examining the cellular penetration rate in conjunction with the rural-urban population distribution could give an index that reveals the success of programs like Grameenphone. If a country has a high rural/urban population ratio coupled with a high cellular phone penetration, then a country might be making progress. It could still be, though, that most of the cellular users are in the population core only, so a high index could actually hide rural-urban cellular use.

From Moneymatters:

"The elements that have made GP model work in Bangladesh are: 1) an existing for-profit telecom company already doing business in the country; 2) a clear market need, based on a large rural population with extremely low teledensity and a need to communicate with urban markets and émigrés in other countries; 3) a reliable way to identify literate resellers with good credit and record-keeping skills; 4) a viable currency and banking system. "

Moneymatters argues, then, that cellular use requires a form of literacy, so we would therefore expect high cellular use to correlate well with the gender development index.

The Fraser River Basin

Via knowledgeproblem, A recent World Bank paper on the Fraser River Basin Management System examines the multip[le-stakeholder approach to the basin's management. Here's an excerpt from the abstract:

"The NGO approach has allowed FBC to match the boundaries of the entire basin, avoid some intergovernmental turf battles, and involve First Nations communities and private stakeholders in ways governmental approaches sometimes find difficult. While its NGO status means that FBC cannot implement many of the plans it agrees on and must constantly work to maintain diverse yet stable funding, FBC holds substantial esteem among basin stakeholders for its reputation for objectivity, its utility as an information sharing forum, and its success in fostering an awareness of interdependency within the basin. "

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Blogging may be good for your career

From comes the top ten reasons why blogging may be good for your career, in spite of all the mainstream media stories about employees getting fired for posts to their blogs.

Telecommunications and Gender Development

I hope to do an econometric study this month on the relationship between the Gender Development index and telecommunications variables.

The GDI is:

"A composite index measuring average achievement in the three basic dimensions captured in the human development index—a long and healthy life, knowledge and a decent standard of living—adjusted to account for inequalities between men and women."

Using telecommunications data on cellular/landline/cable and internet connections per 100 persons for the year 2002 from the International Telecommunications Union, I hope to explain what the feminists call female "empowerment" in terms of knowledge variables unrelated to the index itself.

A friend of mine recently pointed me to a Vodafone study of cellular use in Africa which associates strong economic growth with cellular use. It could be a seemingly unrelated regression, as it's entirely possible that cel phones are due to strong economic growth. But the relationship is still there.

Mobile and land line networks - in addition to the openness of an economy, GDP growth and infrastructure - are positively linked with foreign inward investment, according to the report.

The report said:

"More than 85% of small businesses run by black people, surveyed in South Africa, rely solely on mobile phones for telecommunications.

62% of businesses in South Africa, and 59% in Egypt, said mobile use was linked to an increase in profits - despite higher call costs.

97% of people surveyed in Tanzania said they could access a mobile phone, while just 28% could access a land line phone.

A developing country which has an average of 10 more mobile phones per 100 population between 1996 and 2003 had 0.59% higher GDP growth than an otherwise identical country.

Income, gender, age, education - and even the absence of regular electricity supplies - do not create barriers to mobile access in rural areas, the report said. Handsets are often shared by smaller communities."

You can download the study here.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

CBC Archives

Bone up on Canadian history and visit the CBC archives.

Thar she blows: Mt. St. Helens erupts

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Source: NBC

Keep your eye on the Mt. St. Helens webcam tomorrow morning.

King5 will have the best coverage.

Here is what it looked like just prior to the eruption.

As if they couldn't foster any more paranoia, MSNBC just had to release this article entitled Super volcanoes will chill the world someday

The Brits have even gotten into the action too.

"Some scientists believe that the Toba eruption, which caused global climatic disturbances, may have even caused a genetic "bottleneck" in human genetic diversity following a dramatic decline in the global population. If the Yellowstone supervolcano were to erupt in a similar fashion the ash that it would spew out would cover three-quarters of North America in a layer deep enough to kill crops and other plants.

Few people would survive in the zone immediately around the eruption as the volcanic gases and choking sulphur dioxide would burn the lungs of anyone caught in the open air. Those sheltering in their homes would not be safe because layers of heavy volcanic ash would eventually cause their roofs to collapse."

As for Yellowstone, so far things have been very quiet. Here is a good explanation as to how supervolcanoes work. It seems that the risk of a caldera eruption is very low, but I find recent seismic activity in Wyoming to be an intersting topic.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Zundel Jewish?

Man, this should get interesting.

Google Search: "don hill" cbc


Well, if you want a post of yours to turn up in Google, just make a post about what you think people will be searching for, and you get up there in the search engine.

CLICK HERE to read about Don Hill

If you want to be cool in '05

It seems that iPods are for the unthinking masses. If you want to be cool in '05, you gotta get a pocket-blog in the form of a Moleskine.

43 folders lists the nerdy hacks you can do with them.

Via Ian's Messy Desk, I found out that Elephants Never Forget (in the plaza across from Original Joe's on Stony Plain Road) carries them, so I picked up a ruled Moleskine. It's pretty nice.

Their words, not mine

"The CBC would fail to live up to its mandate if, in the attempt to upset no one, to disturb no institution, it undertook to limit the comprehensiveness of its reporting of contemporary society. Equally, it is important to examine and keep before the public those positive aspects of our society as well as those which are being called into question, and those trends or events which are important but that may not be spectacular."

Source - CBC

Cui bono?

85% of CEOs say shield refusal bad for business
52% say Canada is freeloading: poll

RCMP tragedy used for political gain

My heartfelt regrets and condolences go out to the families of the four slain RCMP officers who were gunned down by Jim Roszko.

Isn't that the problem with the media coverage of this tragedy?

We know the name of the basket-case who shot them, but the names of these men who laid their lives on the line to uphold the law, and lost, are not obvious.

We do not learn of the children and spouses of these men.


I guess, according to the Member of Parliament for Grandin, Anne McLelland that 20 pot plants now qualifies in the media as a grow-op.

You don't see anyone taking action on child pornography - Roszko forced a Mayerthorpe teen to perform sexual acts on camera for him at gunpoint.

And let's not forget this:

Teams of RCMP officers are investigating Thursday's ambush and massacre, an incident which began as an attempt to repossess Mr. Roszko's 2005 Ford pickup truck.

Killed in the line of duty were: Constable Tony Gordon, 28; Constable Peter Schiemann, 25; Constable Brock Myrol, 29; and Constable Leo Johnston, 32. Mr. Roszko took his own life after being wounded by police.

It is a tragedy indeed. One which many people hope to capitalize on.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Buffet is the new Soros

What happened in that story when the guy pointed out that the emperor didn't have any clothes on?

From the Guardian :

Warren Buffett, one of the world's most successful investors, has launched his most withering attack to date on the US trade deficit, describing Americans as "rich spending junkies" who could turn into a nation of "sharecroppers".

Vancouver Island is sinking man, and I don't wanna swim

Never mind the quake that hit Quebec just recently - did you know that thousands of quakes hit the ocean floor just 270 km west of Vancouver Island? Let's hope that Vancouver Island stops any potential tsunamis from reaching Vancouver.

The surfers in Tofino must be pumped, though.

Victoria Times-Colonist

VICTORIA -- Thousands of earthquakes have rattled the ocean floor off southern Vancouver Island last week, and a team of U.S. scientists is racing to the area to see if an underwater volcano is spewing fresh lava.
U.S. hydrophones detected 3,742 earthquakes over five days in an area about 270 kilometres west of Vancouver Island, but on Thursday, the intense activity calmed to just a few earthquakes an hour

Post-secondary funding leads throne speech

From the CBC. You'd almost think that Old Uncle Ralph saw coming, the federal lump of coal that was called "federal funding for post-secondary education".

"EDMONTON – The Conservative government kicked off the first legislative session of Alberta's 100th year with a promise to invest $3 billion in an endowment fund for post-secondary education.

The money, funded by future budget surpluses, will help pay for a Chinese studies program at the University of Alberta, a province-wide digital library and new scholarships.

Premier Ralph Klein had earlier promised to pay for any tuition increases universities and colleges put in place this year, essentially freezing fees for students."

I put it through gizoogle as well, just to be fair.

The Next Alberta W-to-tha-izzill be a Brotha in Learn'n

That's why tha niznext Alberta wizzle continue ta be a rappa in ballin'.

The children of Alberta already benefit frizzom one of tha bizzle education systems in tha world. Its success is due ta dedicated students, outstand'n teacha, n a high-quality curricizzles . One, two three and to tha four. Alberta will continue ta invest in its children's futures by weed-smokin' initizzles T-H-to-tha-izzat build on tha strong foundation of tha kindergizzle through grade 12 system n enhance learn'n opportizzles fo` students across tha province doggystyle.

Previous efforts ta strengthen tha education system is already show'n results: class sizes is com'n dizzle n will meet tha Learn'n Commission guidizzles two years aheezee of schedule, n our students continue ta outperform they killa on national n internizzles tests.

N-to-tha-izzow, it's time ta makes sure thizzat tha province's post-secondary education system is able ta meet tha needs of tha next Alberta doggystyle. A strong post-secondary education system is crucial fo` continued economic diversificizzles growth n prosperizzle as wizzell as personal fulfillment aww nah. Strengthen'n tha post-secondary learn'n system is tha government's top priority dur'n this centennial year.


Last call for economic alcohol

From Prudent Bear. You know the US is in a precarious position when an announcement by the South Korean central bank almost causes widespread panic

"In spite of the spin doctoring, there is mounting evidence to suggest that the Asian central banks have already begun to lose confidence in the Federal Reserve’s ability to rein in U.S. financial and economic excess and are quietly acting accordingly. The Bank of China, for example, has given ample indications of its long-term intentions on this matter: Roughly 50% of China's growth in foreign exchange since 2001 has been placed into dollars. Last year, however, while China saw its reserves grow by $112 billion, the dollar portion of that was only 25% or $25 billion, according to the always well-informed Montreal-based financial consultancy firm, Bank Credit Analyst. The Deputy Governor of the Bank of China has also signaled that “to ward off foreign exchange risks, China needs to readjust the current structure, increasing the proportion of the euro in its foreign exchange reserves.”.

What did Klein know, and when?

Oh damn. It's old, but asks a good question.

What did Ralph Klein know, and when?

A quiet meeting between the Alberta premier and US vice president Dick Cheney last summer resurfaces with questions

Keep China out of the oilsands

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Something must be wrong. I actually have something good to say about "da gubbmint". Greg "The Mormon" Melchin has come out against Big Chinese Oil. Thanks, Greg, it's enough of a banana republic already without China AND the US fighting over it. One Empire at a time, please.

Chinese chase Canadian oil

By Carl Mortished, International Business Editor
CHINA’S state oil companies are creating a political furore in the Canadian province of Alberta as they seek to buy their way into the Athabasca oil sands, the world’s largest petroleum resource.

The prospect of Chinese oil companies diverting the bitumen reserves to refineries in the People’s Republic is creating anxiety in Washington and concern in the Alberta government. The high price of crude oil has stimulated billions of dollars of new investment in Alberta’s tar sands which contain more than 1 trillion barrels of oil. Greg Melchin, Alberta’s energy minister, said that he was opposed to state-owned companies buying up the resource for processing in China, exporting the value from Canada.

Dinning: Albertans complacent with surpluses

Uh, no Jim. It sounds your forecasters have become complacent and have consistently under-estimated government revenues. You know, lower our expectations so you can wow us each year with bigger and better numbers. More accurate modelling would close the gap. Those economists at the Treasury are smart guys.

But then you wouldn't have anything to brag about, would you?

I'd say Albertans have become complacent with something else.

Budget surpluses are revenues in excess of expenditures. It's always funny how budgets are only "unbalanced" when they are in deficit, isn't it?

From the E-town Journal:

"Former treasurer worried Albertans becoming complacent

Former treasurer Jim Dinning says he worries Albertans are becoming complacent about the province's strong economy and hefty surpluses.

Dinning was in charge of the Klein government's cost-cutting in the 1990s.

He made the comments in a speech yesterday to northern Alberta mayors and reeves.

The former treasurer is touted as the frontrunner to replace Premier Ralph Klein after he retires. "

Saturday, March 05, 2005

sweet new pda

You will be the envy of everyone with this sweet gadget.  The home page is a pretty handy one too. 
The author is a huge fan of Moleskine notebooks.

Rutherford Institute on Fascism

All I can say is..... wow.
 "As I stated in Parts I and II of this series, our country is in dire straits. Some fear that America is moving toward a Nazi form of authoritarianism. Undeniably, there are some danger signals on the horizon.

While concerns about the economy, the never-ending threat of war and the loss of our civil liberties abound, the culture wars, the undermining of religion and the loss of traditional values also reflect a startling parallel between the road America is traveling and that of pre-Nazi Germany. "

Friday, March 04, 2005

Listening Vertically

Wow. Tod Maffin has one dangerously revolutionary concept for the future of public radio. It's called "vertical listening" and it's pretty cool stuff.

Vertical Listening
Now imagine that listeners could listen vertically. Rather than having the radio deliver a linear stream of topics that happen to be programmed at that time, listeners would have their device deliver the topics (or treatments or tone) that they prefer, or screen out items they dislike. For instance:?Any time David Suzuki is interviewed?All stand-up comedy routines, regardless of topic?Any piece about healthcare in Ontario?All documentaries less than 10 minutes in length

Thursday, March 03, 2005

MSA seeks Enron Probe

I will be trying to get to the root of the hows and whys concerning the recent dismissal of Don Hill by the CBC for his airing of the Enron saga in Alberta. The Market Surveillance Administrator originally stated that the tapes pulled out of the Enron warehouse did not represent new evidence, and that no new business in the federal inquiry into Enron's dealings in Alberta is needed. The Competition Bureau has stated that these tapes were taken into consideration in its 2002 ruling that Enron had not broken any criminal laws.

So it would initially appear that Don was off his rocker last Monday when he tore into Enron over this evidence.

But as the Globe & Mail reports, the MSA has changed its mind and is seeking a federal inquiry over the below conversation:

“Oh, my God,” replies Mr. Storey. “Well, that's so ... finally you guys, you and Powerex are, like getting together to screw Alberta, basically.”

“Yeah, yeah,” the Canadian manager says.

“Well, ... that's better than just getting screwed by Powerex,” Mr. Storey says, again laughing.

Buyout firm offers $3.5 billion for NHL

Check this out: a buyout firm has offered to purchase the ENTIRE National Hockey League. Talk about merger to monopoly - the Competition Bureau and the Antitrust folks in the States might have a thing or two to say about it. But it might not be that bad of an idea, from an economic standpoint.

You know what monopolies do, don't you? On one hand, they restrict supply in an attempt to raise prices. However, the NHL would become similar to a monopsonist - a single buyer of labor, which could drive wages and salaries downward. A monopsonist capitalizes on the inability of labour to offer their services elsewhere. Certainly, this could drive out players into leagues such as the ECHL , AHL or IHL, which could improve quality.

This would provide the perfect experiment to implement the Hypothetical Monopolist approach to analyzing market power. An HM is said to have market power if it can impose a "small yet significant non-transitory increase in price" - A SSNIP - usually at about 5% for a year or more.

TORONTO - An investment firm and a sports advisory company reportedly made a joint proposal to buy all 30 NHL teams for as much as $3.5 billion.

. . .

Before the work stoppage, the total value of the 30 NHL franchises was an estimated $4.9 billion, according to Forbes Magazine. The Detroit Red Wings (news) topped the list at $266 million, with the Edmonton Oilers (news) last at $86 million. The value of the arenas are part of the assessment.

Gateway: Canadian budget reflective of baby-boom values

Here's my latest for the Gateway.

Canadian budget reflective of baby-boom values

Last week, our glorious leaders in Ottawa doled out their “forgiveness budget,” a chicken-leg-in-every-pot strategy aimed at helping people with long memories forget past Liberal indiscretions.

In spite of Finance Minister Ralph Goodale’s lofty rhetoric of developing a high-tech, knowledge-based economy, he did very little to help generation debt take a step away from debt servitude and towards financial freedom. If you’re a student, and you voted at all, you probably feel pretty silly for being so naïve as to think your federal vote actually might have mattered.

Goodale’s budget speech should serve as a primer for political science students wanting to learn the nuances and methodology of Orwellian newspeak. Goodale promised that “Every penny will be reinvested in core federal programs and services that truly matter to Canadians,” and delivered on everything except postsecondary education.

According to an Ipsos-Reid poll of 2000 Canadians released by CTV and the Globe and Mail, the top spending priorities of Canadians were, in order of importance: healthcare, postsecondary education, tax cuts for the middle class, debt reduction, daycare, Kyoto and military spending. Somehow, the number-two priority of Canadians was blinkered out entirely.

How do I know Goodale lied to students? Well, for one, his lips were moving. Goodale’s speech achieved the upper ranks of hilarity with this zinger: “Today, we build on what has gone before—and for those who will come after—not by making promises, but by making good on promises, by delivering on commitments and by having a sense of the future, of where we want to go and the country we want to build: a competitive, productive 21st-century economy—knowledge-based, technology-driven, highly skilled and excellent by every measure; an inclusive and caring society in which fairness and equality of opportunity are the measures of our progress.”

Last June, Prime Minister Martin promised students that he would create a separate transfer to the provinces specifically aimed at restoring the cuts he made to the Canada Health and Social Transfer back when he was finance minister in the ’90s. The figure for this transfer, in fact, was somewhere in the range of $7-$8 billion, according to George Soule, national chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students. Maybe Prime Minister Dithers is actually crazy enough to think that Canadians will fail to see the correlation between tuition increases across Canada and his tenure as finance minister for the last decade.

If, as Goodale claims, “fairness and equality of opportunity are the measures of our progress,” he has failed his own criteria as far as postsecondary education is concerned. According to a recently released Statistics Canada study entitled “Participation in postsecondary education in Canada,” increased tuition prices have not deterred entry into postsecondary education for the sons and daughters of lower-income parents.

However, the study points out that the primary determinant of getting an education still seems to be whether or not one’s parents have a degree. The Liberals have simply failed to eliminate this obvious social -class barrier.

A lot of the reason why this budget failed us has to do with demographics. We are on the forefront of what professor David K Foot of the University of Toronto terms the “echo” generation—children of the aging post-war baby boomers—the generation that has driven nearly every economic and political agenda of their lifetime simply from the sheer power of their numbers.

So maybe it’s not the Liberals who are the culprit, for they are just representatives of a generation that fails to see spending on postsecondary education as an investment. They are willing to reduce the national debt so our government can offer low interest rates to fuel their consumption and investments, yet show little regard for the debts they have devolved to students. They are willing to throw more money at solving their health problems, but don’t seem to want to train or certify the doctors that will take care of them. If only they could, as baby Jesus said, “Forgive us our debts”; then, maybe we could forgive them for being so selfish and shortsighted, and forgive ourselves for swallowing even more Liberal vote-bait.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Don Hill Fired For Enron Expose'?

Update: April 24

I met up with Don yesterday and he says that the Western Standard is doing an article on him this week, and the Calgary Herald should have an editorial this week also.

Update: April 15

Not much is new on the Don Hill front. As stated previously, Don Hill is expected to make a contribution in writing, and it will be posted here, assuming Don doesn't fire up a blog of his own. I'll be meeting Don next week and will have a write-up by next friday.

Update: April 05

I invited Don Hill to guest write for my blog. He's got something good coming for me.

Update: April 02

I met with Don yesterday. Don Hill has a plan.

Update: March 30

Take action and write a letter on behalf of Don Hill HERE

Update: March 26

The Rimbey Review finally weighs in.

Don Hill speaks out

Don Hill did not speak in Tony's class.

Update: March 23

**CORRECTION** Don Hill will speak in Tony's class, but it will not be webcasted as planned. HERE

Update: March 22

8 pm: Don Hill broadcast CANCELLED

Don's big announcement is tomorrow. I heard this one through the grapevine.

"Don Hill will be doing a live webcast on Wednesday, March 23, 2005 from
6-9PM MST, at the University of Lethbridge. The live broadcast can be viewed at

The broadcast will be taped and archived for subsequent viewing on the same web site. Don will set recent developments in Alberta politics in a broader context of history, geography, and ideology. He will look towards the future as Albertans begin to grapple with the question of how to replace the outgoing regime of Premier Ralph Klein with a new coalition of provincial governance."

Yup, turns out I was right. The Globe & Mail was planning a blurb about Don. From today's G & M Goat:

"Last week, I noted that, while supporters were protesting his dismissal, Hill himself had declined comment. With good reason: If he breaks silence, his severance package evaporates."


Update: March 21

HERE is the CBC's Local/Regional strategy that sought $60 million dollars dedicated to, in their words,

"Improving support for public debate in local communities."

And, get this,

"Through this plan CBC/Radio Through this plan CBC/Radio-Canada this role even further by enhancing local programming and extending service to new locations, including the BC Interior, Edmonton, and Saskatoon."

Tod Maffin just linked to this post.

The Globe & Mail has been creepin' for some Don Hill goods.

Here is a good post about the CBC and 'redundancy'. Of interest is this passage:

"CBC management, reports the team, is now intent on changing the Performance Management/Staff Development (PMSD) system from a progressive process to a quasi-disciplinary one.

PMSD was jointly developed eight years ago by the unions and the CBC. It was designed to ensure that employees have an opportunity through an open and positive process to develop their careers and to share in the objectives of the corporation. Now the CBC wants to link any failure to meet objectives to a process that may ultimately lead to an employee’s termination.

. . .

Currently, there is a separate review process in the collective agreement to deal with performance problems. It’s designed to be a corrective and supportive process, not a punitive one. It gives an employee up to nine months to make any corrections necessary and provides for training, mentoring, etc. to ensure the employee has every opportunity to succeed. "

From a google search on "cbc+redundancies", I found this interesting tidbit:

“Our collective agreement calls on management to notify the union 8 weeks before declaring redundancies – and before notifying affected employees – so that the parties can meet and see about finding the employees alternate work at the Corporation.”

Update: March 18

An excellent letter is over at

Read the Fast Forward article.

Ralph's World put up a post on Tuesday.

Via Tod Maffin, I just found a new job at the CBC for Don Hill: As the role of CBC critic/ombudsman.

The Globe & Mail has just come right out and asked it:

CBC IN BED WITH KLEIN? It isn't every day that my friends at the CBC are accused of harbouring rabid, pro-Ralph Klein sentiments. But that's exactly what's happening, thanks to the furor surrounding Don Hill. To the great chagrin of his fan club, the host of Wildrose Forum, a regional, call-in show on CBC Radio One in Alberta, lost his job earlier this month, one of a handful of staffers declared redundant in another round of CBC belt-tightening.

But Hill's Hordes are not taking the news lying down. Demanding reinstatement, a group of fans have staged rallies at CBC's Calgary office. And they certainly aren't buying the budgetary restraint explanation. They claim Hill was axed because he dared question the Alberta Premier, particularly with respect to electricity deregulation.

Smart guy that he is, Hill isn't commenting. He knows the CBC has been called many things, but a friend of Ralph Klein's right-wing Tories? I don't think so.

Update: March 17

HERE is a letter from the Friends of Don Hill to the CBC. The page has several links to more stories about Don Hill.

"CBC has terminated the best and most liked radio host ever in Alberta. This is a public relations nightmare for the CBC. As a contact person for The Friends of Don Hill in Calgary I am now being copied on many responses to CBC's letters of explanation about why Don was terminated. The CBC's attempts to justify its actions are enraging people even more. Ironically, the CBC is fueling the outcry by its justifications."

HERE is another letter.

"The fact that he was made redundant shortly after his latest program in that series is highly suspicious and suggests management’s decision was politically motivated. The obvious message this sends to other CBC show hosts that might have been encouraged by Don’s popularity is, “if you want to keep your job, steer clear of topics that the provincial government is sensitive about."

Update: March 16

The Vive accepted my submission. Thanks. Some good comments HERE.

There might be something this week in the Rimbey Review about the saga of Don Hill.

Steve Smith and Chris Chan are taking me to task in a pretty good debate about my motivations on writing about this. It all began as a debate on Gender Pricing, and was somehow turned into a debate about Don Hill, HERE.

It starts right at the bottom with a question about Don Hill from Chris Chan.

They seem pretty intent on debunking the whole thing - which is what I wanted. Treat it as lies and the truth will bear out in the end. But that's just my opinion on the matter, which, according to some, is totally baseless.

It's their right to think that.

Thanks to WK for this:

"Well the Ledge has been back in session over a week now and nothing, not a dribble has come out over this Enron/Alberta scenario. Could it be the powers that are, can reach as far into the opposition benches and silence anyone who dares speak out against it?"

Thanks to Rob for this email:

"Can you actually say "Don Hill" on the CBC anymore? I had a listener in
my office this morning who tells me callers were cut off when they
tried to mention Hill's name when calling in to Wild Rose Country.
Listeners want to know who told the CBC to get him off the air. We'll
know the answer to that when the big papers start doing stories on the
relationship between Trans Alta Utilities, BC Hydro and Enron.

Thanks to George for sending me the CMG press release about Don Hill.


The Canadian Media Guild is concerned about the circumstances
surrounding CBC Alberta radio announcer Don Hill’s impending layoff
and changes to Wild Rose Forum, the show he hosted.

The Guild has not been given a good explanation as to why the local
CBC management targeted Hill for layoff. Furthermore, it is unusual
for an announcer to be taken off the air immediately after being
given notice that his or her job is being cut, as was the case with
Hill. We are concerned that the Corporation’s heavy-handed approach
could create a chill across the CBC.

The Guild and other CBC unions have fought for decades to ensure that
front-line employees working on programming are protected from the
possibility of interference by management in the content of their
programmes. We want answers about whether censorship played a role in
the Corporation’s decision.

Hill has become a popular radio figure in Alberta and we are puzzled
that the Corporation is antagonizing the very listeners they have
worked to attract, some of whom are now picketing CBC buildings in
Alberta because their concerns have not been addressed.

Hill’s layoff comes at a time when the Corporation is eliminating
programmes and making job cuts across the country. In all recent
cases, the CBC has not followed the proper layoff process outlined in
our collective agreement. This is of grave concern to us because of
what it means for the rights of our members, their morale and the
quality of their work.

We are working to see that Hill’s rights at the CBC, including the
right to free speech, are respected. The Guild will be filing a
grievance on his behalf since the CBC has closed the door to a
satisfactory settlement.

For more information, contact the Guild ( at
1-800-465-4149 or 416-591-5333.

Update: March 15

My Gateway piece is HERE. Comments are welcome. It may appear at Vive le Canada as well.

cbcwatch has just posted it too.

I have not yet met with Don, but he has something big planned. I can't say what it is, as I want him to tell people about it on his own terms.I might like to interview him and post it on my blog.

Something from Penney Kome's blog:

"Back to Alberta: When I called Calbary CBC, I was told Don Orchard, Regional Director Radio and R.V. Alberta welcomes our concerns re Don Hill. He has not responded to my calls. A message can be left at: (403) 521-6215 or (403) 521-6000. snail mail: c/o CBC Calgary; 1724 Westmount Blvd. N-W;P.O.Box 2640;Calgary AB T2P-2M7

It is interesting that phone calls to Don Orchard about poor coverage of curling resulted in a public apology and complete curling coverage. The person I spoke to at CBC Toronto told me that Don Hill's case would not be discussed publically, as it was an internal decision between H. R. and Don Hill. I have heard that kind of thing before. When the public is outraged, suddenly things do change.

We need to make a fuss and make our voices heard. Demand that Don Hill be reinstated as Host of Wild Rose Forum. Our silence is complicity! "

Update: March 14
Thanks to Barry for the following. I doubt it's related to Don Hill, but it is interesting.

Via Tod Maffin:

EXCLUSIVE: Carole Taylor, Chair of the CBC Board of Directors, has just submitted her resignation to the Prime Minister this morning, citing a desire to return to making a contribution to her home province community of British Columbia.

the CBC had this and this to say:

"She gave no reason for the resignation. However, B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell said Taylor will seek the Liberal nomination for the riding of Vancouver-Langara in the May 17 provincial election." CBC

I'll have something in the Gateway tomorrow which will be cross-posted at Vive le Canada. Don wants to meet to discuss some of his next moves - sounds like he has some big plans coming out of this. He still can't comment on what is going on based on the advice of his union representatives, which is understandable.

Here are some comments from cbcwatch:

* "It seems to me that Mother Corp is doing another of it's politically inspired, behind the sceens manouvers. Don Hill had become one of the freshest voices in CBC West. When his interests turned to things close to Ralph Klien's world The Alberta despot struck.

The lack of openness from CBC management serves to show just how much they are controled by the Government's Spin Doctors. This shows us how much of a media flunky CBC's managment is to Ralph's world."

* "I agree with Betty, Don Hill was a breath of fresh air, intelligent, informed, very well researched, and opinionated. Too bad his show wasn't available to more listeners, being stuck in the 1-2pm weekday time slot. I don't believe the CBC's explanation, its more likely he was leaned on by someone on high and he refused to budge on a matter of principle, or journalistic integrity.

If too opinionated for the CBC, maybe he could utilise his talents in the private broadcasting arena. Too bad he would have to move to Vancouver, as the gutless private broadcasters in Alberta wouldn't dare employ anyone as independent as Don, who might be critical of Ralph and the good ol' boys. I guess that is also true of 95 percent of the print media here."

* "don hill added flavour and let the other side present their views in the alberta radio forum. he was informed, reflective, fair and interesting. he provided a place for people to speak there mind on important topics.

prior to him, the main topics of the show were gardening and wine tasting/making. i dunno y cbc radio has to shoot itself in the foot. although i am a supporter of the broadcaster, my support just went down a notch."

* "I am a regular listener of CBC Radio and enjoyed Wild Rose Forum and the insightful comments by host Don Hill. I am greatly disappointed that he was terminated and am very confused by your decision. I can no longer consider myself a supporter of CBC and with some certainty I can state you have lost me as a listener to CBC as a whole. There are a number of programs on CBC that I feel are deserving of not being on air - including Sad Goat, Brent Bambry Go - to name a few. Don Hill was able to provide a balanced and interesting program, providing many perspectives, and engaged the audience in meaningful and thought provoking subjects.I hope CBC would give careful consideration to this decision and make appropriate actions to reinstate Don Hill as host of Wild Rose Forum. "

Update: March 10
A letter about Don Hill rolled into the Edmonton Journal today.

Well, the editors at the Gateway did not run my piece on Don Hill today, which is probably a good thing because it will give me a chance to let things play out a bit more. There's an election going on at the U of A right now, after all, and it is understandable that they would want their content to be more inwardly-focused. I'll re-work a few of the minor details and get it out there eventually.

Also, I would expect to hear something from Don's Union Rep. tomorrow, and perhaps a response from the CBC about this very soon. All people are looking for is an explanation as to why Don's dismissal played out so abruptly. It might have been nice if they gave him a few weeks to wrap things up. I'll have to find out if the CBC already did that.

The CBC may have already told Don (this is just a theory here) that Friday was to be his last day. If people remember correctly, the "Enron thing" was supposed to fall on a friday, but Don had Mel Hurtig on to discuss the Missile Defence Shield, partly because of the previous day's announcement by Paul Martin, and partly because his guest for the Enron show couldn't come in until Monday. So, (again, just a temporary conjecture) perhaps the CBC was being nice to Don in letting him have his last hurrah, and it backfired.

At the very least, I think that all people are looking for is accountability from the CBC. Most of us want some transparency concerning why it made the choice to send Don off the way it did.

I think the CBC itself puts it best when it states that we "have a right to know".

Here are some questions I would like to see answered:

* Did the CBC tell Don that Friday's show was to be his last, but gave him an extension to cover his Enron story?

* How were Don's ratings, and are these a reliable indicator of performance given that the CBC does not rely on ad revenues?

* Who were the other people laid off?

* Why did the CBC lay them off when it received an extra $60 million dollars in this year's budget to increase local content?

* What is it that makes Don "redundant"?

Update: March 09

I would expect the Journal to write about the saga of Don Hill very soon.

From cbcwatch, I found out that Graham Hicks has something new. I guess there's a protest this Monday at noon at the downtown CBC office.

Through Tecnorati, I found out that:

*Some People don't like Don Hill.

* Some people do.

Update: March 08

Penney Kome has a new post on Don Hill.

The CBC dropped by the blog via this post at cbcwatch.

Don has contacted me to say that he cannot comment on the matter and speak to the truth that is at the heart of what is going on, so I guess my Gateway piece will not include comments from Don.

Update: March 07

Telus and CBC coverage of Don indicates that this was strictly over financial reasons.

While ratings are not the only measure of quality, they do show that Canadians are in fact tuning in to CBC/Radio-Canada

Here is a Globe & Mail article about the impact that the non-NHL season has had on the CBC. It might explain the dismissal of hockey-related announcers like Chris Cuthbert, but it doesn't explain Don Hill's case.

What about this?

Stursberg also said that there would be some changes made to existing shows to free up the resources so the network could live up to its renewed commitment to the regions.

Also, what to make of the CBC's claim to increase local content? A lot of the restructuring going on actually has to do with budget increases, not cuts.

"Faced with massive Government reductions in our funding
during the 1990s, CBC/Radio-Canada was forced to make very difficult
programming decisions, but we are committed to rebuilding our local and
regional service and this plan details how we would do that, and what it would

The strategy addresses geographic and programming gaps in CBC/Radio-
Canada's local and regional services. Specifically, the strategy will increase
Canadians' access to public broadcasting coverage of local and regional news,
culture and current events in a manner that is distinct from that provided by
the private broadcasters. The plan is intended to be implemented over three
years, with estimated costs rising incrementally to approximately $83 million
annually. CBC/Radio-Canada's ability to implement the plan is incumbent upon
the Corporation's ability to secure Government funding for it."

Let me get this straight: the CBC wants to increase local coverage, and eat up more budget dollars. Who was on the committee that decided this outcome? It likely doesn't matter. HERE is the decision on the outcome.

There's a heated discussion going on at THIS forum.

Correction: the Sierra Club is not organizing a protest.

Hi Aaron,
We are not involved locally in the protest. Our Chinook Group in Calgary is planning something I believe.

Sonja Mihelcic, Chapter Director

Open Letter to CBC from Mark Anielski and Aaron Braaten

COMMENT: Mark and I were on Don's third-from-last show to comment on the federal budget. Consider me signed, as I was just getting to know Don's program before it was cancelled two shows later.

Dear Don, Jane and other CBC executive,

Like many Albertans I am deeply distressed with the recent and abrupt dismissal (deemed “redundant”) of Don Hill from his position as host of Wild Rose Forum on CBC Radio One, which airs from 1:00 to 2:00 pm during the week across Alberta. Mr. Hill's program was a unique and important public forum in the province. As a previous guest of Mr. Hill’s show I believe that what has happened to Mr. Hill is unacceptable and an issue and a matter of public concern.

I know Mr. Hill as a veteran investigative journalist who researched his topics thoroughly and engaged interesting and knowledgeable guests who discussed and explored diverse public interest issues. He encouraged people from throughout Alberta to raise questions, to challenge the status quo and engage in open dialogue. His show, as you certainly must know from the ratings, was popular. Love him or hate him, Don Hill did provide a forum for intelligent debate and dialogue that was unique to Alberta that is otherwise missing in our society. Not everyone would agree with some of the views expressed on Wild Rose Forum, but everyone was given the opportunity to have their say.

As we know Mr. Hill was in the middle of a series on electrical deregulation in Alberta, and was raising sensitive issues that might ruffle a few political feathers but which should be part of open debate in a civil and free society. Freedom of expression is paramount to a civil society. His dismissal as “redundant” gives the appearance that the CBC may be engaged in censorship or was perhaps pressured by external forces to silence Mr. Hill’s voice and ultimately close a window for other Albertans to voice their concerns related to issues of public accountability. The CBC claims that efficiency required many national layoffs, but it is highly suspicious that Mr. Hill was dismissed so swiftly and deemed “redundant”? Why Don Hill? Why now? Would the CBC have laid off Anna Maria Tremonti? Don Hill played her role in Alberta.

In my opinion, Don Hill's removal is an affront to free speech, responsible citizenship and democratic public radio.

I stand with other Albertans and friends of Don Hill who would ask you, the executive members of CBC, to reconsider his dismissal and reinstate him to Wild Rose Forum because he has been the energy and creative force behind that program.

I believe as a public broadcaster you have a responsibility to all Albertans to account for the real reasons behind Don Hill’s dismissal, in the interests of keeping our democracy healthy.


Mark Anielski

Mark Anielski
Anielski Management Inc...sustainability consultants
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
9847 – 90 Avenue
T6E 2T2
Tel/Fax: (780) 491.0696

Adjunct Professor
Corporate Social Responsibility & Social Entrepreneurship
School of Business
University of Alberta

Adjunct Professor, Sustainability Economics
Bainbridge Graduate Institute
Bainbridge Island, Washington

Update: March o6

The Vive is advertising the Calgary "Reinstatement of Don Hill Rally". Be sure to visit it to find out how to register your disdain.

Ralph's World has some good stuff on Don Hill.

Expect to hear from Le Revue Gauche about this.

Through this google group, I found out that the Sierra Club, Alberta Chapter, is organizing an Edmonton protest. Email them.

I say we protest right outside the CBC at 1 pm and pound on the glass of his old studio so listeners can hear.

The IMC newsletter has a few posts.

Graham Hicks has caught wind of this.


Doesn't sound right.

The CBC rarely dispatches show hosts with no notice on the grounds of being "redundant," which was the official reason Don Hill was given earlier this week for his immediate termination as host of CBC radio's noon news/call-in Wild Rose Forum.

Hmmm ... wouldn't have anything to do with the veteran journalist's persistent investigation into Enron and its relationship to Alberta's power grid during the province's "electricity-restructuring" period, would it?

Or with Hill's ongoing series on gay rights, which has drawn serious fire from both sides of that particular debate? The CBC wouldn't fire program hosts because of political heat. Would it?


Update: March 05

To help me understand why Don was canned just before breaking a story of potentially huge proportions, I have turned to the cbcwatch website.

Here we find out that the CBC recently axed hockey correspondent Chris Cuthbert.

"Insiders say he butted heads with Lee over some of the myriad of other stupid decisions made at CBC. And that Lee saw the end of the NHL season as a good time to get rid of a bothersome thorn in her side."

I could see how Don Hill might rub people the wrong way - he's a bit of a provoker.

As the Star details, plenty of people are as shocked by Cuthbert's dismissal as I am about Hill's. Why doesn't the CBC want to investigate this Enron scandal in Alberta?

According to the Globe & Mail, the Market Surveillance Administrator has pressed the Competition Bureau to re-visit their case against Enron.

Well, this isn't the only scandal the CBC ignores: how about its lack of coverage on the UN Oil-for food scandal?

cbcwatch asks:

"Is the UN on CBC's "friends and family" blinder and media black out plan?"

I'm beginning to think that Enron, or members of the Alberta government are, which is weird.

The purpose of the CBC seems to be the legitimization of current power structures. Radio host Michael Enright was recently brought out into the CBC's Kangaroo court for allegedly inciting a riot against the Mayor of Toronto.

Yup, question the government - provincial or federal - and see what happens?

Rub colleagues the wrong way, and you are toast.

Something's fishy.


UPDATE: March 03:

Don has just emailed to inform me that yes, Monday was his last show, and that it's not unreasonable to read between the lines concerning why this is the case. Welcome to Oilberta Don.

More coming.


This is bad, bad news. I have just heard through a very, very short grapevine that Don Hill's Feb. 28th show was his last.

His topic of discussion? Enron and Project Stanley.

I did not get a chance to listen to the Monday program, but my Dad said that a lot of irate callers did phone the show.

What does this say about the nature of free speech and journalism in Canada when even the CBC is willing to fire a man for trying to get at the truth of the matter?

Stay tuned as I verify this story.