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"Five axiomatic propositions of Canadian Nationalism vis-a-vis the Americans:

1. Boy, we hate Americans.

2. We really do.

3. Really.

4. I'm not kidding. We really hate them.

5. So how come they never pay us any attention?"

--Will Ferguson, Why I Hate Canadians, Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 1997, p.105.


Wednesday, February 27, 2002

Speaking of politically-minded celebrities... Children's singer Raffi penned an opinion piece for the Globe and Mail earlier this week in which he discussed the effects of pesticides on children. This elicited the following letter to the editor yesterday, David Brewer of Puslinch, Ontario:

Speaking as a scientist who has devoted 30 years to pesticide research, I was intrigued by the article on toxic residues in food by folk singer Raffi (We're Poisoning Our Children -- Feb. 25).

I wonder whether you would be interested in a piece by me on guitar playing. I should warn you that I have never actually played a guitar and am somewhat vague as to how many strings it has, but I feel confident that I would be able to produce an article at least as accurate and authoritative as Raffi's.

Now this guy should be blogging!
Should I stay or should I go? Remember when actor Alec Baldwin allegedly threatened to emigrate from the U.S. if George Bush won the presidential election? Remember the scorn you felt, both when he said it and after the election when he didn't leave? That's because this is cheap talk. (In fact, in this case Baldwin denies saying it, claiming a miscommunication between ex-wife Kim Basinger and Focus magazine.)

Why am I talking about this? Well, first, I think that movie "The Marrying Man" wasn't all that bad. But more to the point, the Globe and Mail carried a story yesterday, "Firms would flee tax rise, survey finds," that begins as follows:

More than half the businesses in Toronto would consider getting out if their property taxes continue to rise, according to a survey conducted for the Toronto Board of Trade.

"It is very sad that the city council still doesn't realize how vulnerable our businesses are because of property tax increases. There simply is very little tolerance for us to to continue to raise our industrial and commercial taxes," board president Elyse Allen said.

Imagine that you are a businessperson in Toronto. Imagine that someone called or stopped by to do a survey on behalf of the Toronto Board of Trade. Imagine that said someone asked "Would you consider leaving Toronto if property taxes in Toronto continue to rise?" How would you answer this question?

Wendy McElroy has a nice column on how advocacy groups (in her examples, left-leaning groups) twist statistics to gain the results they want. Her skeptical questions pierce holes through this right-leaning survey equally well.

By the way, the beneficial side effect of posting this was that I learned that 1) Alec Baldwin has an official web site where one can "learn about Alec's most recent projects and upcoming appearances," and 2) way too many people devote a lot of time to posting articles and thoughts about Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger. Although some of them are quite funny.

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