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Quick Hits, Volume XXI -- Back to Work Tomorrow
02/01/2005

Happy New Year. Obviously this blog has been on a bit of a hiatus recently. I spent most of Christmas week visiting my family in Windsor, and the past few days recovering from an overdose of Christmas cookies.

Well, there were several times I thought about posting something to my blog, but just couldn't get around to making the effort. Now that things are getting back to normal, here are a few mini-posts...

Canadian Blog Awards

Voting is going on here... Daily votes allowed through January 15. The contest has been organized by Robert McClelland.

Controversy over Canada's Contribution

There has been some controversy over Canada's contribution in response to the tsunami disaster. I'm glad that the federal government has raised its aid package from an initial $4-million to $40-million and now $80-million. I think the initially slow response was understandable, and I don't mind in the slightest that Paul Martin didn't end his vacation. But, I do have my doubts about the excuses for not yet committing DART, our Disaster Assistance Response Team. Cash is great, and the relief agencies have called for cash because of its liquidity, but DART has equipment and skills that are likely in short supply. Cash cannot replace that.

Casino Gambling

There has been some talk in the media recently about gambling-induced problems in Ontario. The problem doesn't involve only casino gambling, but that does seem to be the environment in which people get into the most trouble.

It has been about ten years now since Ontario opened its first casino in Windsor. Casino Windsor was a bit of a revolution. At the time, there was very little gambling around, and the demand was so great that there would be long line-ups outside, every night. The place was a money-making machine, supposedly bringing in more cash-per-square-foot than any other casino in the world. The place is still successful -- more than 13,500 visitors per day -- but growth has stopped.

A very high proportion of the gamblers have always come from the United States. I remember being on the tunnel bus from Detroit one weekday afternoon and seeing a sad collection of women crossing the border -- ladies who probably couldn't afford to do what they were about to do. Developers had always pushed for casinos in Detroit, but the church organizations stopped them on several referenda. However, after Windsor opened up and started sucking millions of dollars on a daily basis, resistance in Detroit was futile. There are now three big casinos in Detroit.

That's all to say that when commentators are discussing the moral impacts of Ontario's decision to open casinos, the assessment shouldn't end at the border.

The Newfoundland Controversy

I don't really get it. Everything I have read leaves me thinking that the controversy boils down to Newfoundland wanting to keep both:

  • The hand-out it gets from Ottawa to help Newfoundland maintain services despite having a small tax base
  • The extra money Newfoundland is getting as a result of enlarging its tax base through new oil revenues

This doesn't even seem defensible. I'd be happy to have someone correct my understanding, but as far as I can see this is wanting to have one's cake and eat it too. And protests involving the Canadian flag just seem pathetically childish to me.


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