Monthly Archives: December 2020


OK, the Libs have gone nuts.

They are proposing a bill which:

“The Bill clarifies that the Act applies on the Internet.¬†Clause 1¬†would add online undertakings as a distinct class of broadcasting undertaking subject to the Act. Online undertaking would be defined in the Act as an undertaking for the transmission or retransmission of programs over the Internet to the public by means of broadcasting receiving apparatus.” (link)

There is nothing about the internet which, remotely qualifies it as a “broadcast undertaking”.

This sort of loose language would meant that my little blog, and possibly my tweets, makes me CTV.

Now the summary suggests that I might not be CTV for purposes of the Act; but the mere idea that one may become a “broadcast undertaking” simply by being on the internet and that this would subject one to CRTC oversight is, frankly, insane.

It is idiot legislation but the important question is “why”? Why would the Trudeau government think it necessary to bring pretty much the whole internet under CRTC regulation?

(And, by the way, what is this nonsense about “programs”. No one really publishes “programs”.)

Tagged ,

Cat’s out of the bag


“Number of people who died in BC is 587. All but 2 were elders in Long Term Care homes.” -Dr. Henry, BC-CMOH, Dec 10.


I had missed this when it was first broadcast. But apparently Dr. Bonny Henry stated that all but 2 deaths with COVID in British Columbia were elders in Long Term Care. Assuming for the moment that this is true it certainly puts the whole COVID pandemic in a very different light.

Last year my mother, having reached her mid 90’s living on her own with very limited help, was diagnosed with inoperable stomach cancer. She did not want to go into a hospice and my brother and I were lucky enough to find her a place in a private Vancouver care facility. Mum was in no pain but was incredibly frail. Totally lucid but very weak. To no one’s surprise, least of all her own, she died about 40 days into her stay. The fact is that people in Long Term Care are often at the very edge of death. A cold could, and often does, push them over that edge. Not for nothing is pneumonia sometimes called “the old man’s friend”.

If 585 of the COVID dead in BC were in LTC chances are very good that, even without COVID, most of them would have died in the normal course of things.

Which is sad but also encouraging. It implies that COVID is, at worse, a mild disease for the vast majority of the population and deadly for a very small fraction of that population who were close to death in any case.

If that is the case then public health policy needs to be rethought. The idea that we all need to be vaccinated against a not very lethal disease was unlikely from the go. The idea that we need to close down our economy to prevent the spread of a disease which does not threaten the vast majority needs to be re-examined.

We’ve known for sometime that the majority of COVID deaths are concentrated in the very elderly. What Dr. Henry’s statement reveals is that COVID morbidity is entirely confined to the very old. We need to protect those people but we do not protect them by closing down our day to day lives. Nor do we protect them by wearing masks (outside LTCs) or restricting travel or closing bars at 10PM.

If Dr. Henry’s numbers are correct they have huge implications for public policy. Our lazy media needs to actually ask Dr. Henry and Health Minister Dix to clarify their policy in light of those numbers.

Tagged ,

Vaccine or Cure


Over on Twitter I put up a poll: Cure or Vaccine? I don’t have a huge Twitter reach but of the 50 people who have voted so far, 75% say cure, 25% say vaccine. Of course one can embrace the power of “and” and have both and I think that is where we are heading.

Personally, I am all for “cure” over vaccine for a number of reasons. First off, COVID is not a very deadly disease if you are not over 80, in long term care and suffering from some other serious condition. An overall recovery rate of greater than 99% is not to be ignored. You certainly don’t want to get COVID and taking reasonable precautions and lots of Vitamin D makes a lot of sense.

The medical establishment has become significantly better at treating COVID using an array of techniques – everything from “proning” patients, to no invasive oxygen supplementation to certain steroids and anti-biotics to treat the symptoms of the virus. People are, sadly, still dying of COVID but unlike in the early days of the pandemic, clinicians have a variety of protocols which reduce the lethality of the virus.

Early intervention seems to be important. And there is where, if there is to be a “cure” we are likely to find it. (I will leave HCQ out of the discussion simply because it has become so political.) Ivermectin, a cheap, readily available anti-parasitic drug, taken early with daily doses of vitamin D3, vitamin C, quercetin, zinc and melatonin seems to work as a prophylactic and as a means of radically reducing the severity of a COVID infection. In fact, ivermectin shows promise as a means of preventing infection all together.

In the West we are going to be rolling out the vaccines in the next few weeks. There is a bit of debate as to who should get what will, initially, be a limited supply but there is a consensus that people most at risk from COVID and those who care for them should be first in line. We’ll see how the vaccine is tolerated by the elderly and there have been warnings that it may kill the very old and the very frail. Which, sadly, makes sense as the population of any long term care facility will always have several people who are on the brink of death.

It makes sense to vaccinate the very elderly because, unlike the rest of us, they do not enjoy a 99.0% recovery rate. More like 50% and worse if there are other conditions. And it makes sense to vaccinate caregivers as they are at greater risk of contacting the virus and, sadly, or transmitting it.

Now, what about the rest of us? And does the answer to that question change if we have effective treatments for COVID. With a 99.9 percent recovery rate for the under 80s with current treatment regimes, the urgency of vaccination, once the elderly and their carers have been vaccinated is much reduced.

Oddly, one of the principle arguments for mass or even mandatory vaccination is to “get things back to normal”. If everyone is vaccinated, the argument goes, then we won’t need lockdowns and, eventually, we won’t need masks. Of course, this argument presumes that lockdowns and masks have had significant effects on the rate of transmission of COVID. Cracks are beginning to appear around the efficacy of both lockdowns and mask mandates, especially as implemented in the West. (Personally, I don’t think it is a lockdown if you can shop with few restrictions at Costco or Walmart.)

However, if we have effective treatments for COVID and the recovery rate remains very, very high, would there remain any rationale for lockdowns, travel restrictions or mask mandates? Every year (except 2020) we have a flu season which kills people in significant numbers and for which there is a mildly effective vaccine. The survival rate in a hard flu season is roughly comparable to COVID. We do not lock down, close schools, demand masks; we just get on with life

The vaccine roll out will, I suspect, begin to restore the public’s confidence. For the last eight months we have been subjected to a relentless barrage of bad case numbers and models which suggest our hospitals will sink under the weight of cases. The arrival of a vaccine may reduce the case numbers a bit although not by a lot because of limited availability. But if it turns out to work, it should end worries about overwhelmed ICUs.

However, the real end of the pandemic will occur when the general public realizes that there are treatments and even “cures” for a disease which was not very lethal to begin with. We still have several months of public worry to endure but, as Spring arrives and the case numbers fall in the normal course for a respiratory illness, COVID will finally be in the rearview mirror.

Tagged ,


Canada’s Finance Minister, Chrystia Freeland wants to stimulate the Canadian economy by encouraging/forcing Canadians with savings to spend some of those savings. Right wing twitter is convinced that she’s prepping us for a “bail-in” where the government just comes in and takes a chunk of the money you have saved. Which may very well be true but that is not actually what she is presently saying.

She asked for ideas so here are a few:

  1. Registered Recreation account. Modelled on the other registered vehicles, the RRA would allow individuals and families to deduct the costs of recreational activities from their taxable income to a certain limit each year. Essentially, keep the receipts from restaurant meals and take out, (when restaurants are open), hotel stays for non-business purposes, whale watching, ski passes, rec center memberships, sporting equipment. End of the year, tote up the receipts and enter it as a non-refundable credit. The RRA would target many of the businesses hardest hit by the lockdowns.
  2. Small Business Bond: At the moment, the savings of Canadians are locked up in accounts which pay, at most, 1.5% interest. We’d all like to do better. Why not create a backed by the Government of Canada “bond scheme” which pays and interest rate of 5% and which lends working capital to small business at, say, 7% on easy terms. Flexible denominations starting at, say, $100 with an individual limit of, say $100,000. This would be the middle class helping out the middle class.
  3. The First Nations Water Bond: Many Canadians are ashamed that the Government of Canada can’t “fix” the crisis of bad water on hundreds of reserves in Canada. Promises are made and broken. OK, let’s try a different approach. Let’s offer 5%, tax-free, bonds to fund a serious private/public/FN approach to real solutions here. Do 20 year bonds but spend the money in the first two years.
  4. A Travel Tax Credit: Go see Canada! Reconnect with Family and Friends. Basically allow individuals and families to take a non-refundable credit for any plane or rail trip to another province where you stay for at least three nights. (And yes, you can “double dip” with the RRA…we’d like you to.)
  5. The Original Art/Performance Credit: Buy a Canadian Painting, go to a Canadian play or musical performance. Keep the receipt and you get a non-refundable tax credit.
  6. Shop Canada! Get a $100 non-refundable tax credit for every $500 spent when you buy from Canadian owned retailers. Must be cash or debit – no credit cards. Cumulative monthly.

Mobilizing Canadian savings is not rocket science: offer a decent rate of return, a tax nudge and the guarantee of the Government that the funds will be returned and money will flow. Give people non-refundable tax credits and they will hit the stores.

None of this needs to cost much. The non-refundable tax credits are tax expenditures but they should have a ripple effect which will offset those expenditures. The Small Business Bonds and the FN Water Bonds would be a charge on the Treasury but the Business bonds would be paid back and the Water Bonds would fund something the Government should be doing in any event.

What Freeland is actually talking about is accelerating the velocity of money in the Canadian economy. You can print as much money as you want but, if no one is spending it or spending it on inert assets like houses, it does very little economic good. There is an old saying that money is like manure, it does the most good when it is spread around. Get spreading Chrystia!



There is a lot of discussion about the new COVID vaccines which have been approved for use in the UK and is nearing approval in the US. In Canada we are a bit behind but there is a good chance approval and roll out will be in the early New Year.

This is splendid news and I suspect there will be lineups around the block to get the jab. I will be happy to take my place at the back of the lineup and I may not take the jab at all. I am not at all an anti-vaxer. But I am not all that excited by new medical tech at its introduction. I never get the yearly flu shot. Not because I am worried it will hurt me, rather because I am not particularly concerned about getting the flu.

As with all things COVID I am convinced that individuals are best placed to assess their personal risk and take whatever measures seem reasonable. For example, if I had a job where I was interacting with the public, I would weigh the likely minimal risk posed by the COVID vaccine against a significantly greater than zero chance of getting COVID. If I had an underlying co-morbidity the calculation would change again. Something which inclines me towards the vaccine is my age. And I certainly consider my age with my current regime of assorted vitamins, hand washing, social distancing, staying at home and exercise.

The politics of the vaccine are, unfortunately, shaping up like the politics of mask mandates and lockdowns. There seems to be a drive towards some form of compulsion. Worse, this drive seems to the powered by the Karen left. The same sort of people who demanded mask “mandates” and are pumping for more and tighter “lockdowns”. The people who are very, very scared of COVID. Well past the point of taking it seriously themselves, they demand that you take it seriously too. Which means that you have to do what you are told or be fined or imprisoned or excluded.

If COVID was Ebola or SARS or even the “Spanish” influenza of 1918, the Karen brigade might have a point which overrides individual choice. But COVID, while a nasty virus, is survived by 99.9 percent of the people who contract it. And we have a pretty solid idea of exactly who is at greatest risk of death, the extremely elderly and people with assorted co-morbidities. From a personal risk assessment perspective, I have virtually no contact with either group so put none at risk.

There is every chance that COVID will follow the seasonal track of other respiratory viruses and the hospitalizations and deaths will taper off in the Spring and Summer. We are in for a nasty three or four months and I certainly hope that such vaccine as is available in the New Year is used wisely to keep frontline workers and the most at risk safe as we ride it out.

(Back of the envelope: there are about 350,000 Canadians in LTC, call it 50,000 workers to care these people. Over a million people work in health care but the number of “frontline” workers who are likely to be exposed to COVID is a fraction of that. We might also want to target older people in First Nations communities early. If our allocation of the Moderna vaccine is 2 million doses we should be able to vaccinate those target groups.)

Taking reasonable precautions makes a lot of sense. However, the various compulsory business closures and cancellations are making less and less sense. A capacity limit in a store or bar is intuitively reasonable – though, apparently, there is not a great deal of evidence of spread in small retail stores or bars. Social distance and avoiding unnecessary travel are also reasonable precautions. But these measures need to be voluntary if they are going to be successful and if there is not to be wide spread dissent.

Governments around the world are losing the trust of a large fraction of their populations as they attempt to impose restrictions. Not majorities by any means, rather a substantial minority whose lives are being wrecked by unemployment, business loss and the loss of any sort of social ties. What was tolerable for a few weeks back in March is becoming intolerable eight months in.

A COVID vaccine offers the possibility that the lockdowns and business closures can be relaxed without hospitalizations and deaths spiraling out of control. Combined with better treatment options for those who get the virus and a good, hot summer, COVID may well be over as a killing disease by next Fall, just when the bulk of the vaccine is expected to arrive.


The American Presidential election has fully entered its litigation phase with Trump aligned and non-partisan lawyers filing suit at the state level, gathering evidence of improper procedures and outright ballot box stuffing (physical and electronic) while various Democrat supporters, some establishment Republicans and the entire mainstream media maintain there is no evidence of “any” or “widespread” or “fraud at a scale which would change the outcome. There is all sorts of evidence suggesting that ballots, ballot envelopes and even voting machines are being shredded. Attempts to conduct audits of absentee ballots or mail in ballots or military ballots are being stymied. And so on

All of which is pretty normal course for an American election. American elections are administered under state election laws and those laws reflect the various constitutions of the states. It comes as no surprise that in some cities in some states there are attempts to count ballots which may not have been properly cast. Nor is it surprising that advantage was taken of states which have not tended their voters lists very carefully. These an many other irregularities are, rightly, the subject of litigation. So are broader claims of systemic electronic fraud effecting entire states. All of these claims need to be heard and adjudicated.

If everything works according to plan then the litigation will be settled in the next week or so, although there are no magic dates here as the Supreme Court ruled on Bush v. Gore on December 12, the safe harbour date for the return of electors due to meet on December 18. The dates this year are slightly different but, ion extraordinary circumstances even the meeting of electors date could be pushed.

The outcome of the various cases being pursued is impossible to predict at this point. (Although procedural dodges like the finding of laches by Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court to dismiss a challenge which it had previously ruled could not be brought until after an election where the plaintiff suffered harm is the sort of cheesy legal dodge which would be easy for the Supreme Court of the United States to overturn.) The key thing is that the litigation needs to be heard and decided on its merits.

The problem is that if the Democrats win – in the sense that the various certifications (often by ostensibly Republican state executives) are allowed to stand without further examination by the Republican/Trump/non-partisan parties, the claims of electoral fraud will not be extinguished. Conversely, if the Trump side wins the question of remedy is going to be huge. None of this is cut and dried and there is not a lot of precedent either way.

Worse, in many states, ballots which were subject to challenge have now been intermingled with perfectly legitimate ballots. Almost any order the Supreme Court might make would almost certainly remove at least some valid ballots as by catch. All of which the Supreme Court is aware of and will hear from the parties.

The worst possible outcome for our American friends would be for the Supreme Court to find significant fraud in several states but to decline to exclude ballots because it could not ascertain the fraudulent ones. At that point reasonable people could and would argue that the electoral system in the United States had become lawless. Simply a jungle in which who ever controlled the counting rooms would determine the outcome. (Some would argue that this has been the case in several American cities for decades.)

A better outcome would be for the Court to examine the individual claims of fraud, starting with the least controversial such as the dead and non-resident voting and working through a process to exclude illegal ballots based on no broad exclusions but rather a set of relatively straight forward cases. The court could do this in states which are very close and which would change the election outcome.

However, the Court could also come to the conclusion that, in aggregate the improprieties in a given state are so significant that the outcome in that state is a nullity. That the attempt to incrementally cure illegal ballots is impossible and that that state’s election for the Presidency is void. And then what?

One route would be to put the Presidential election into the House of Representatives where the vote would be by state delegation. However, that would have negative consequences for the many states whose elections were, if not perfect, not entirely crooked.

Another alternative, and one which I think would be seen as both legal and fair, would be to have a Court supervised “redo” election in the states where the evidence of fraud and impropriety was the strongest. One day, in person (with a very narrow absentee exception), ballots produced with only the two parties on them, ID required to get ballot and the purple ink to prevent double voting. Voting from 8-8, supervised hand count of the ballots which begins at 8:01 and continues until all the ballots have been counted. Assign a Justice to oversee each state in which there is a special election. Have US Marshals maintaining order and chain of custody at each polling place. If there are not enough Marshals then use other federal government resources.

The point of the exercise is for there to be full and fair elections in states where there is evidence of fraud and impropriety. Whether Trump or Biden wins is immaterial, the key thing is that the winner will be seen as fully legitimate.

%d bloggers like this: