C . A . G . E .
Citizens Against Government Encroachment -- Citoyens Anti Gouvernement Envahissant
 

 

 

 

IMPORTANT NOTICE TO OUR MEMBERS AND VISITORS: 

Effective November 8, 2007 selected news articles and commentary will be posted on the C.A.G.E. bilingual blog at http://cagecanada.blogspot.com/  where you’re also welcome to post your own comments.   All past entries in this news section and all of ‘’news’’ sub-sections, will remain published here for future reference.

 


 

 

 


 

September 26, 2007 – Dan Romano, C.A.G.E. president, discusses personal responsibility vs. a nanny government on CKUT 90.3 :  http://secure.ckut.ca/64/20070926.8.33-8.50.mp3




Article in Canada Free Press on the city of Montreal administration passing its own responsibilities and expenses on to the businesses.

Montreal: The Broken City

Demonization and deflection just won't cut it anymore

 

By Beryl Wajsman, Institute for Public Affairs of Montreal

Monday, August 20, 2007

I can't imagine why anyone should be surprised by the Johnson Commission report on our failing transport infrastructure. It is just confirmation of more of the same. Particularly for Montrealers.

This city's administration has failed to address and improve any of its basic core service responsibilities. Eighty percent of our water lines leak. Our world-famous potholes are now craters. The transit system is in gridlock. No one intervenes in the cemetery dispute leaving hundreds of bodies unburied. The Agglomeration Council has degenerated into paralysis. The Mayor and the borough mayors can't even get our blue-collar workers to pick up the garbage and clean our streets properly. And to top it all off Montrealers got the biggest percentage property tax hike in North America just before the city announced a $140 million surplus. The city's solution is to deflect public attention from the municipal nonfeasance of an administration unable to deal with a groaning bureaucracy by demonizing all of us.

When Tourism Commissioner Charles Lapointe criticized the cleanliness of our town he wasn't talking just to its citizens. He was criticizing the administrations. But the city's answer was to let Benoit Labonte, mayor of downtown Ville-Marie borough, institute some of the most egregious fines literally criminalizing all citizens. The very pamphlets produced stated in bold type that the “guilty will be punished”. Guilty of what? Guilty of not taking over the responsibilities of the city workers that's what. What we're really guilty of is being too lethargic to march on all the city halls and throw the rascals out.

In the past four weeks Ville Marie's cleaning cops have issued almost $1 million in fines. The new regulations make merchants and property owners responsible for cleaning several feet of public sidewalks outside their premises. Taking graffiti off their buildings. Assuring that locks are kept on garbage dumpsters that they don't even control. And attaching ashtrays next to the doorways of all entrances to main buildings and commercial enterprises with street frontage. Here's a memo to Messrs. Tremblay and Labonte. Gentlemen, cleaning is what we pay taxes for you guys to get done.

Among the most insane fines issued were several thousand dollars to Peter Sergakis. He actually installed ashtrays at the entrances to his buildings in the Gay Village but they were ripped off by street people looking for cigarette butts. An owner can't visit his buildings everyday to make sure that the ashtrays are still attached. He didn't even know they had been ripped off until he got the fines.

The owners of the Hermes Building on Peel Street have received over $4000 in fines in one week for the same nonsense. The most egregious cases were those of a café and a restaurant in the building. Neither had ashtrays next to their doorways. The café because it didn't allow smoking even on its terrace and there are some half-dozen stickers plastered even on tabletops making this clear. That would exempt the café from having to install ashtrays even by Ville Marie's own regulations. But that didn't stop the cleaning cop from issuing a fine not to the café but to the building owner who wasn't even aware.

The restaurant had several dozen ashtrays on tables on its terrace but not a “regulation” one screwed in next to the doorway. The building owner got a fine for that one too. When I asked Ville Marie's director of public affairs what the reasoning was behind that, he said that the ashtrays on the terrace tables wouldn't be there in winter. When I suggested it might be more appropriate therefore to wait for winter to issue fines I got no response other than “we are just applying the law”. With apologies to Gertrude Stein, in Montreal an ashtray is not an ashtray.

Crescent Street's Pub Claddagh got hit with fines because its garbage dumpster had a broken hinge. But the owner didn't know it since he had contracted with an outside service that took care of the dumpsters because the city refused to pick up garbage in that lane. Again, the garbage company didn't get fined, the owner did. Some $1200 of them. They are $620 a crack.

Why hit the owners? Easy. Because if they don't pay the fines the city will put liens on their buildings. The “cleanliness” campaign is nothing but an extortion racket. The biggest culprits in producing garbage are the city's own trucks and workers who routinely cascade down streets lobbing garbage through the air into the cavernous rear ends of garbage trucks. Most times it lands. Often it doesn't. Anyone who has followed one can tell you that cigarette butts on the streets are nothing compared to the stuff spewing out of these back-ends.

Dan Romano, founder and President of CAGE, Citizens Against Government Encroachment, mockingly suggested on The Last Angry Man radio program on the New 940 Montreal that Montreal's police should follow the same policy. Whenever a home invasion or burglary is reported don't spend time finding the criminal. Just fine the home or store owner. It's the same logic.

This latest campaign of demonization and deflection comes on top of 300% parking meter hikes announced just before the city released figures showing it had increased its revenues from meters 59% year over year. Once again the citizens were blamed. We have to be taught not to take our cars so often because we are polluting the environment. The city needs more money to clean up after us. Yet another lie. A Mercer International study demonstrated Montreal was cleaner than most cities including “Toronto the Good”.

The Mayor's office has yet to answer why its director of communications issued a letter in February insisting that the city needed the meter hikes because it was desperate for an additional $1.8 million for its cleanliness campaign yet we found out that the hikes will give an additional $20 million – and that's above the 59% revenue jump. Didn't the city know it before? Was nobody home at the accounting office? Maybe everyone at City Hall was too busy riding the new Laval metro extension that came in some $350 million over budget.

The operations over which the city has control accounts for only about 2% of emissions in Montreal. All this eco-theocracy is just is another attempt to load onto the backs of citizens what the city itself cannot do. But the stupidity of the argument is revealed by its contradictory motives.

On the one hand the city wants to collect more taxes and fees and tickets to meet its budgets. To do that it needs a functioning, vibrant city business core. The Tremblay administration has burdened small business owners, who account for 80% of new job creation and much of the city's tax revenues, with the highest tax rates Montreal has seen since then Mayor Jean Doré's surtax-driven stampede of business out of downtown. Most are barely hanging on. The Dore years saw 20-25% of downtown storefronts empty due to insanely high business surtaxes that reached 36% of commercial tenants' annual rents. Those taxes were only reduced in the administration of Mayor Pierre Bourque. Discouraging automobile usage will certainly do nothing to revive retail commercial viability. And with so many bars and restaurants closing - and others reeling - from revenue drops of 25-33% after the smoking ban according to Voula Demopoulos, Montreal's downtown may just die for good.

To top it all off this administration, which cut our police force by almost 18% at a time when street gang violence is skyrocketing, found the money to hire an additional 110 cops to give jaywalking tickets. Jaywalking in Montreal! My, my, my. What a heinous offense! What an urgent priority! What is heinous is that Montrealers have to walk around with identification as if this was Beirut or Moscow because if you don't have some with you the police can't give you a ticket. They may just have to take you to the cop shop for “processing”.

This administration has no moral authority to govern. It continues policies of profligate pilferage of our pockets to fund programs that no one demanded and no suffrage affirmed. Deflecting Montrealers' attention with nanny-state regulations won't cut it any longer. Legislating niceness is not only not nice – it's not fooling anybody anymore. Where's the money's going? Why all the overruns? Who's responsible for ignoring core priorities? There aren't any straight answers.

The credo of this government is “invent first; tax second; explain never". All levels of government are exciting the people's disgust in fiscal affairs. But Montreal's administration is exciting the people's contempt. And that's just one small step away from civil disobedience.

 


 

 

 

Dan Romano on 940 AM on ''How much more can the people take ? " http://www.iapm.ca/media/am20070725.mp3

 


 

 

This article appeared in the international site, the Tobacco reporter who picked it up from C.A.G.E.’s press release on the Niagara Falls Demonstration. 


Group denounces tobacco intolerance
Canada, Monday, December 4, 2006
Two Canadians have rallied friends and allies to denounce the extremes of intolerance that tobacco control organizations have reached, according to a CAGE (Citizens Against Government Encroachment) report published by Canada Newswire.
CAGE says that these organizations, while pretending to speak on behalf of all Canadians, have taken it upon themselves to determine Canadian public policy on tobacco control. All decisions concerning the future and fate of Canadian smokers were taken behind closed doors and were designed to prevent any input from those most concerned, the smokers, it added.
Ann Welch, of Ontario, and Roy Harold, of Alberta, are organizing a peaceful demonstration today to coincide with the first day of the three-day Tobacco Control Conference at the Sheraton on the Falls, Niagara Falls. They intend to protest against the manner in which tobacco control agents operate and publicize the ‘machinations of the very powerful and very secretive tobacco control cabal’.
One of the important issues being raised by the protesters regarded the fate of senior Ontario smokers who were being subjected to ‘unfair and inhuman conditions’ as a result of recent anti-tobacco legislation imposed upon them by the government. The smoking regulations in retirement homes were so severe that residents were effectively being denied one of the few pleasures remaining to them.
CAGE is sending delegates to Niagara Falls to assist the demonstrators and has asked all concerned citizens to show their support and encouragement for the most deserving members of society: its senior citizens.

 


 

 

Joël Demers, in charge of communication for C.A.G.E.,  was interviewed at ''The Last Angry Man'' on September 26, 2006 on the subject of Big Government as Big Brother.  Listen to him and other guests at:

http://www.iapm.ca/media/am20060926.mp3

 


 

 



 

The Gazette

No: No smoking. no jaywalking. no fun?

Saturday, May 20, 2006

May 20, 1966. Through the thin blue haze of an unfiltered Export A, the young mother rocks her baby, watching idly as a pack of kids climb onto the scaffolding at the unfenced construction site across the street. Secure in the knowledge that their parents have only a vague idea where they are, the kids guzzle Cokes straight from the bottle and gorge on after-school snacks - peanut butter, Spam or Cheez-Whiz sandwiches, nickel bags of potato chips or Popeye candy cigarettes. The dare-devils put down their cap guns and take turns in the cab of the grader, left behind when the work crew headed off to the tavern, that smelly, sticky, men-only bastion, for pigs' feet, pickled eggs and an unending row of stubbies.

- - -

"Stop! Stop! Are you crazy?" says the editor, who looks and sounds like Woody Allen before the mother Mia-for-daughter Soon-Yee trade made him seem a lot less funny. "The mother can't be smoking. The kids can't be eating junk food. Where are their parents? Where are their juice boxes, their carrot sticks, their cellphones? Don't they have play dates to go to? Have those workmen been screened on the national pedophile registry?"

Yes, those were the days. But were they the best of times or the worst of times, the last gasp of unfettered liberty and intoxicatingly dangerous fun, or the twilight of a benighted recklessness in desperate need of social engineering?

Four decades ago, successive reports by the U.S. Surgeon General had already signalled dire links between tobacco and lung cancer, emphysema and heart disease. But you could still smoke in bars and restaurants, offices, planes, trains, intercity buses, grocery checkout lines and hospital wards. If you ran out of cigarettes, you could send the kids out to the depanneur. Without stiff penalties, merchants were happy to sell to anyone with the price of a pack of smokes, then less than $2.

Back then, no one talked about the hazards of secondhand smoke, or the virtues of paper vs. plastic, or cloth vs. disposable diapers. There were no bicycle helmets or baby car seats, either - Britney Spears could have gone joyriding around Hollywood with a toddler on her lap for hours without a peep from anyone. A thoughtful host still offered his guests "one for the road." A steady marinade of chemicals kept dandelions out of the lawns in suburbia, where summer days were spent lolling on a deck chair with a big bottle of Johnson's Baby Oil and an aluminum sun reflector.

Well, we've come a long way, baby. We know about the perils of nicotine, drunk driving, sexual harassment, unprotected sex, UV rays, pesticides, pollution and Internet porn.

Quebec, the unofficial smoking section of North America, is recalling all ashtrays on May 31. Non-smokers, a silent, fuming, majority for too long, say hallelujah. No longer will we choose our outfits based on the expectation we'll return from a night at the pub or a trip to the bus shelter smelling like we've been at a five-alarm fire. Our clothes will be cleaner, and so will our lungs.

Yet even a virulent anti-smoker may wonder whether there isn't a tad too much negativity in the air these days. More and more, there's a tendency for society to rely on legal avenues to control our behaviour.

Today's mantra is dead simple. Just Say No, to everything. Free will and fun be damned. Do as you're told, drink in moderation, drop the carbs, eat your vegetables and hang out at the 24-hour gym. Pick up after your dog, don't spank the kids, play responsibly and give up jaywalking. You'll live forever and you won't get sued. But has the pendulum swung too far?

Last year, Britain's Future Foundation, a social trends forecaster, coined the term "New Puritans" to describe a dogmatic breed of young activists for whom Lent never seems to end. Guided by their "inner traffic warden," they preach a doctrine of political correctness and moderation in the extreme, calling for a boycott of everything from chocolate bars (bad for the hips) to discount airfares (harmful for the environment).

Meanwhile, industries and government agencies have developed their own risk-management techniques, based on the time-honoured art called "covering your ***."

Two weeks ago, soft-drink companies in the U.S., heading appeals from a health committee chaired by former president Bill Clinton, announced they would withdraw high-calorie Coke, Pepsi and fruit drinks from cafeterias and vending machines in elementary schools. Chicago has banned the sale of foie gras in restaurants, saying pate perpetrates cruelty to ducks and geese. A school in England recently forbade a child from bringing a birthday cake to class for fear it would encourage unhealthy eating habits. In Houston, a new computerized checkout system means parents can keep tabs on what their children are eating at school - electronic sensors blow the whistle if little Madison tries to substitute a bag of Cheetos onto her lunch tray.

In the film satire Thank You for Smoking, the slick, unscrupulous lobbyist played by Aaron Eckhart makes the case for freedom of choice - until he's hoisted on a petard of nicotine patches.

- - -

David and Dan Romano spearhead the Citizens Against Government Encroachment, a small, feisty lobby group which sees Quebec's smoking ban as part of a larger trend by governments and "health nannies" to regulate individual choice. CAGE has hired constitutional legal eagle Julius Grey to challenge the legislation as an infringement of Charter rights. "Just mentioning the need to protect children makes people accept state encroachments that the *** would only have dreamed of," David Romano proclaims on the CAGE website. "This struggle must wrest victory from a paternalistic state." Dan Romano is a non-smoking fitness buff who has been known to ask CAGE members to step outside his home before lighting up.

"Let us make our own decisions," says Iro Zannetides. A 52-year-old grandmother who has smoked for 37 years - "and I'm not dead yet," - she joined CAGE last year because she felt Bill 112 went too far in restricting "a legal product, which is highly taxed." Zannetides sees anti-smoking activists pushing an agenda, carefully selecting statistics that shore up their arguments and force people to quit. "Living is dangerous, breathing is dangerous. You can choke eating fish with a bone in your throat," she said. "The day I decide to quit, I'll do it because I want to, not because some bureaucrat tells me I have to."

However, ethicists and health experts see the anti-smoking ban as a legitimate, logical way to protect society at large and encourage smokers to quit. "Thoughtlessness is common to the species," said Jack Ornstein, a philosophy professor who teaches a course in bioethics at Concordia University.

"I don't like Big Brother anymore than anyone else does. But governments are a necessary evil, laws are a necessary evil, traffic lights are a necessary evil," said Ornstein, who quit smoking 30 years ago. "People are ignorant and selfish and they don't care who they bother with their smoke. I am sick and tired of going into a restaurant, and having to breathe other people's smoke.Your right to self-determination ends where mine begins. Every right is limited. I can't go into the next room and yell "Fire!' just because I feel like it."

Jennifer O'Loughlin holds the Canada Research Chair for study of Childhood Onset of Adult Chronic Diseases at McGill University. Her research includes a comprehensive study of kids, beginning in Grade 7, tracking when they start smoking, how soon they become nicotine dependent and what impact it has on long-term health.

"In a Utopian world, people would behave in a way which was good for them and respectful of others. But that doesn't happen. (Pierre) Trudeau said that the government has no place in the bed rooms of the nation, but how far do we go? Into their kitchens? Into their cars? Smoking in cars is a sensitive issue, because it's an enclosed area. When you see a mother lighting up with her kids in there, you just want to go in and pull them out."

O'Loughlin is also part of a study by the Institut national de sante publique, which is currently polling 2,000 Quebecers on their smoking habits. Four months from now, pollsters will go back to see how they are doing, and where they are smoking. She said smokers are surprisingly eager to talk to pollsters. "Neutrality is not an issue. When it comes to smoking, people are very passionate."

She said the latest scientific findings indicate nicotine addiction has to be tackled from all angles, starting with a person's cellular make-up and fanning out to include home and school environment, social economic status, public education initiatives, even whether there's a depanneur nearby.

Research shows that in schools where teachers and older students smoke, younger kids are more likely to start. "What kind of role-modelling is it when students see their teachers smoking? It tells them it's an OK kind of thing." She's curious to see what happens after the ban prohibits anyone from smoking within nine metres of school property.

"Everything has a downside. If you restrict and restrict and restrict, then you have to ask where they are going to go to smoke. Are they going to smoke more, and where are they going to do it - at home? Or is it going to contribute to a sense of lawlessness?"

She argues the smoking ban is warranted, because nicotine is highly addictive and has lasting effects on health. A 16-year-old boy who starts smoking now will likely smoke for another 16 years. The average teenage girl won't quit smoking for 20 years. "By the time you're an adult, the damage is done."

O'Loughlin sees parallels between smoking and the next hot topic facing wealthy Western countries - our eating habits. For children growing up in what scientists call an "obese-o-genic environment," she said, "the diagnosis is pretty straight-forward. You're going to get fat."

Given the health risks, Daniel Weinstock, director of the Centre de recherche en ethique at the Universite de Montreal, sees the proposed smoking ban as an acceptable solution. "Smoking in public places affects people who have never consented to smoke, and so it seems to me to be a justifiable limit on those grounds."

Trouble is, he said, there are lots of things we do that irk or have a negative impact on the people around us, yet we do nothing to regulate them.

"Taking that reasoning to its logical conclusion would involve more than simply smoking," he said. "Why not also impose a ban, or at least a levy, on non-essential automobiles in the downtown core, and make our public transit both cheaper and more user-friendly with the proceeds?"

Weinstock admits he worries about our new dependency on bans and legislation, often "quick fixes usually aimed at easy targets. Poverty, housing, a neglected education system that deepens social inequalities, are more fundamental policy objectives, which would have a huge impact on public health - and which would probably be a more effective way of addressing problems like smoking and bad nutrition. But they are hard to address, and the political will is lacking. I sometimes fear that we satisfy ourselves with relatively easy policy devices like bans on specific behaviours because we don't have the ability or, more likely, the will to tackle the underlying determinants of public health."

It's much easier, Weinstock suggests, to introduce showy legislation like a smoking ban, which can be "politically trumpeted," than it is to try to crack the really tough nuts which don't effect the daily lives of policy makers. "There are mobilizations around issues like decent housing, poverty, and the iniquities of our two-tier educational system, but their political impact is limited."

pcurran@thegazette.canwest.com