May 2011 e-letter

Kerry Knudsen

Kerry Knudsen

Ruth Ellen Brosseau said her victory in the southern Quebec riding of Berthier-Maskinongé came as a “shock” because she “wasn’t really expecting to win.” We assume the people that voted for her are equally shocked to learn she has never been there, and is “nervous” about speaking French.

The CBC has posted a question: Is it important for politicians to be very familiar with their ridings? You can give your answer by visiting the CBC website. I have a better question. Is it important for the people in the ridings to know who they are voting for?

Right now, the media is picking on Brosseau for allowing her name to be on the ballot, and picking on the NDP for putting it there. Brosseau, they say, was the assistant manager at a bar on the Carleton University campus. As far as I’m concerned, the media is wrong to pick on Brosseau. After all, an assistant manager at a bar is a person that works for a living, and that is a big step ahead of some of the other candidates.

We in Canada seem to have gone soft like a brown peach. People in North Africa and the Middle East will die today. You and I won’t know their names. It is not necessary that they die. They could simply support their respective governments. However, they cannot, and they have chosen to take the ultimate risk to try to be free.

It seems each society carries with it the seeds of its own destruction. We have enemies of freedom right here at home. You can see them at such events as last summer’s G8 Summit in Toronto. They specialize in looting and burning cars because other people have been successful. Mind you, they don’t burn the cars of successful people. Anybody’s car will do.

We have a magazine in Canada called Canadian Dimension. Around home I refer to it as Canadian Dementia. Several years ago it published an article about civil unrest in downtown Toronto. The author explained that nonviolence was great, as far as it goes, but that in order to be truly “free,” the rioters needed what he called “diversity of tactics.” That is, in addition to nonviolence, he wanted to add in violence. It appears he got his wish.

The magazine typically has two advertisers: the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) and the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW). Recent acts by both unions seem to support they have moved “beyond” peaceable assembly in favour of riots.

To be clear, I don’t think every rioter is an enemy of society. Some of them are merely demented. However, to hold the position that none of the rioters is a bona fide enemy of Canadian society would be equally demented.

When I watch the rioters, I can see clearly they are “activists.” As such, I am sure they help with the voting process. Especially the counting. I think it would be useful to ponder which party they work for.

I know … the election is over. Still, I am baffled at the press for focusing on an employed candidate and the party that ran her, while totally ignoring the people that voted.

Moving on, Statistics Canada last week released the March Building Permits report. According to Statcan, the values for institutional building permits hit a record high. So much for talk of a recession.

Institutional permits are one of three sectors that comprise the Nonresidential Building Permits report. The other two sectors are Industrial, which does not greatly affect us, and Commercial. Overall, the non-residential sector value of permits remained high at $2.8 billion, a 72.3 percent increase over January.

In the all-important Residential Permits, the value of permits increased 33.9 percent to $4.0 billion in March. This is the highest level since March 2010. There are two sectors of Residential Permits: single-family and multi-family. According to Statcan, “The value of permits for multi-family dwellings more than doubled in March to $1.9 billion…. The increase was mainly the result of higher construction intentions in eight provinces, led by Ontario, Quebec and Alberta.

“Municipalities issued $2.1 billion worth of permits for single-family dwellings in March, up 2.5 percent from February.”

As a reminder, Statcan says, “The Building Permits Survey covers 2,400 municipalities representing 95 percent of the population. It provides an early indication of building activity.” These reports are often categorized as intentions. Once the projects have broken ground, they will be reported as starts, and that is the time we will see inventories in our sectors channeled into the projects.

We are all still stinging from the effects of the recent economic turmoil. However, we also need to be aware that competitive forces are looking at these same numbers and making plans. I noted back in 2008 that people were grousing about the change in the U.S. dollar, labour issues and off-shore competition, and I remarked about an old Carly Simon song entitled These Are the Good-Old Days. They were. Little did I guess how fast things would change.

Today, we again have the opportunity to look at today as huge hurdles and low resources. You can see the glass as half empty and be right. However, we have a positive economic environment and an established production and sales system. There is another old saying about economic conditions. That one says, “make hay while the sun shines.” It is May, the sun is out and it is time to get to work. That goes double for erstwhile assistant bar managers with a newly appointed office in Ottawa.

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