Friday, January 30, 2009



That's the acronym for Portugal, Italy and Greece because of the fortunes they have each drained from the European Union in recent years.

Spain alone has been given in excess of $245 Billion in the past decade.

Ireland was in the same predicament for many years and the EU monies did an amazing job rebuilding aging and often non-existent infrastructure.

Then, Dublin discovered IT and the island became "overnight" a fabulously productive Have Country.

Spain and its dos amigos, on the other hand, show no signs of similar miracles. Their economies are heavily based on construction projects and tourism. Which Canadian has not enjoyed the sights and tastes and delights of these three beautiful countries in recent years?

Thus, Spain, for example, facing an expected 20% unemployment rate by 2011, is urging local consumers to buy local goods.

All of which - by way of saying this problem is not unique to North America - is to introduce the thorny problem of the distinctly "Buy America" flavour in Obama's bail-out plans.

We exported $11 Billion in steel products to the USA in 2007.

Trade Minister Stockwell Day is raising the alarms about protectionist measures and their dire consequences.

He is hardly alone.

Economist after editorialist echoes these concerns.

Trade wars, closed borders and protectionism lead almost inevitably to plunging economies everywhere.

Obama has a serious problem. He may be a reformer, but he is first a politician and it is the votes of those steel workers that got him into office.

His visit to Canada in just a few weeks will be much more serious than a rock show and window dressing.

Is NAFTA to be scrapped? Is the USA's Homeland Security Office going to make the movement of people and goods across our borders even more onerous?

Will protectionist measures set off a massive confrontation with China?

Hunkering down under wintry weather is understandable. But closing the doors is ill-advised.

Let us watch carefully to see what the most interesting American President in many, many years will be prepared to do in the face of this enormous challenge.


A little dust-up at a New Brunswick public school has taken on absurd and national proportions.

Parents complained that their children shouldn't have to take part in the daily singing of the national anthem, which, for the record, is called "O Canada."

The principal of the school, who had any number of responses available, including telling these busy-bodies to go piss up a rope, acquiesced and cancelled the ritual.

Now "the debate" rages.

But I don't even understand the very beginning of this tale.

Why would you complain about your kid singing "O Canada" every morning?

Wassa problem?

We all sang this song every morning at the beginning of class for umpteen silly years and here's the result as far as I can tell.

None of us that I know of has become either a rabid nationalist hiding sin upon sin behind patriotism or a lackadaisical lout without love of and pride in our country.

So your brat will stand on his little feet and sing the song. So effing what?

The parents in Springfield, N.B. were having a melodrama-void day? No extra-marital affairs to begin or conclude? No trips to Aruba to book? No reconfigured curling teams to launch?