1. Liberals break ‘open government’ pledge
Justin Trudeau’s policy is supposed to be that government information is public by default, and withholding it should be the exception. So why is Ottawa refusing to release the names and positions of Conservative appointees it says “voluntarily” stepped down under pressure from Dominic LeBlanc? Trudeau’s office says ‘a significant number” of the 33 appointees complied with the request, but won’t say who they are, or even how many. These are public offices, paid from the public purse. Canadians have every right to know the identities of those who are leaving, those who are staying, and any costs involved.
2. Ottawa misses refugee quota by 75%
Remember how the Liberals were going to bring in 25,000 Syrian refugees by Christmas, because they had the “political will” and the Tories didn’t? The figure got lowered to 10,000 when reality intruded on the new government, but it missed the second quota as well. In the end they managed just 6,300 arrivals, just 25% of the original goal. Still, one out of four isn’t bad, I guess, and they sure meant well, which is apparently what being Canadian is all about. Let’s just hope it doesn’t set a precedent. If Finance Minister Bill Morneau misses his deficit figure by 75% every year, we’ll have to buy everyone canoes to float through the red ink.
3. If you lived through New Year, you’re lucky
If you made it through the holidays alive you’re already ahead of the game for 2016. According to figures in the Wall Street Journal, the three deadliest days of the year are Dec. 25, 26 and Jan. 1. Not from shootings, disasters or upset children who didn’t get the gift they wanted, but from people keeling over dead from natural causes. The graph illustrating the daily death rate looks like a steep slope culminating in New Years, when for some reason death hits a peak, with about 30% more deaths than the average for other days of the year. Even weirder, there’s no apparent reason: it’s not due to cold weather, stress or any particular disease, affects men and women alike and isn’t related to drugs or alcohol. Nor is there a similar spike on other holidays. For some reason, a lot of people get through the end of the year, and have just had enough. My guess is that seven weeks of Bing Crosby is just too much.
4. Uber charges $1,100 for New Year’s lift
Matt Lindsay doesn’t love Uber. Lindsay did the responsible thing and called for a ride on New Year’s Day from south Edmonton to the suburb of St. Albert. He woke up to a bill of $1,114, eight times the usual fare. Uber calls it “surge pricing,” and it’s supposed to lure more drivers to respond to calls. Doesn’t seem to be working, judging by Lindsay’s bill. Uber says it warns customers, but Lindsay says he dropped off several friends and couldn’t estimate the final bill. Uber says it will give him half the money back.
5. Senate demand is lose-lose for Trudeau
A group pf Canadian women is urging Trudeau to bring “gender parity” to the Senate, by filling 22 vacancies with women. Donna Dasko says it would be a great leap forward and follow on Trudeau’s gender-balancing of the Cabinet. Only problem is that Trudeau has pledged to stay out of the Senate appointment process and leave it to some sort of eminent committee, which has yet to be formed. So he’d have to break yet another campaign promise. That would be bad. Of course, giving the cold-shoulder to women voters would also be bad. So it’s a bad-bad for the prime minister.
7. China may be kidnapping Hong Kong critics
Mighty Current is a publisher in Hong Kong that specializes in books about political scandals in China. Thing is, it’s employees keep disappearing. Lee Bo, who vanished recently, is the fifth employee to go missing. Mighty Current’s publications are banned in China, but not Hong Kong, leading to the theory China is kidnapping its employees. “From the available information surrounding the disappearance of Mr. Lee Bo and his partners earlier, we have strong reason to believe that Mr. Lee Bo was probably kidnapped and then smuggled back to the mainland for political investigation,” said Albert Ho, a member of the Hong Kong legislature. In China “political investigation” means disappearing into the labyrinth of jails and covert interrogations. Mighty Current owner Gui Minhai is among the missing.