We wanted a better world than the one we had in 2014. Oh well.

by Team P-Dog

It’s the holiday season and that means we don’t wanna do a Prairie Dog. But we gotta, because the ’Dog must go on, even if we have a million other more fun things to do — boozing, eating, socializing, spending too much money. What to do? Write something easy, that’s what. Here’s some random, half-formed thoughts on 2014.

I’d Rather We Had A Film Industry Again

Here’s the thing. I like to think I’m a pretty decent person, overall: tons of personal flaws (damn you, cigarettes!) notwithstanding, I’m generous, kind, helpful and usually fun to be around. I do have a bad tendency to hold grudges, though, so that’s another thing I’m trying to work on. (’Tis the season for resolutions and all, right?)

That’s why I’d love to sing the praises of Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall for reversing his government’s ill-advised, ill-founded, ideological/illogical and utterly stupid decision to can the Saskatchewan Film Employment Tax Credit program in March of 2012 — and kill this province’s film industry in the process.

I mean, I get it, Brad: creative types are, well, “artsy”, and everything that rural SK (where you’re from and where you’ve currently got a lock) has taught you (correctly) that “artsy” types rarely vote for conservative political parties — so why give those artsy-fartsies a damn dollar, right?

Well, how about this (taken from those famously artsy-fartsy types at the SASKATCHEWAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE in a 2012 report): “In this case it is very clear that the process used by the province to cut this program had many flaws. Key facts were missing, and no consultations were done before the announcement. This decision represents a substantial lack of sector-specific knowledge and policy transparency on the part of the provincial government.

“The revenues generated from the projects which were approved for the FETC program averaged $44.5 million annually, while the direct government contribution averaged $7.772 million. The projects generated $6.5 million in taxes to the province, resulting in a net cost of only $1.3 million.”

So, $44.5 million in revenues per year, at a cost of $1.3 million (and might I add that that was coming out of a budget of roughly $11.3 billion in 2012 — pretty much exactly 0.001 per cent of total expenditures for that year). I’m no financial planner, but if my portfolio (yeah, it currently consists of beer cans, but that’s not the point) could get that kind of return on investment, I’d suspect I was unknowingly holding stocks in a cocaine cartel.

But nope, the artsy-fartsies are all leftie pinkos, right? So they must be punished — and you did a fine job, as Saskatchewan’s film industry is a tiny husk of its former self.

But like I said above, I’m gonna try and be a better person in the new year, so maybe you could too, Brad. After all, you don’t come across as a terrible guy — maybe you just made a rash decision in a moment of, well, grudge-repaying?

If so, I’d love to be showering compliments on your government for the restoration of the SFETC, and promising to continue reporting on how you plan to rebuild Saskatchewan’s film industry from the ashes.

If not, I suppose there’s always a chance that the fine folks at Corner Gas could decide to make another movie. Then you could put in another call to Sask. Tourism and make them fund it. /Chris Kirkland

I’d Rather Write About Awesome Connaught Revitalization

Remember how Regina’s Board Of Education voted to demolish a 100-year-old heritage school? Connaught could’ve been rebuilt, re-imagined and transformed into a showcase architectural project that preserved the structure and look but upgraded the interior. It could’ve been something beautiful and inspirational that our whole city could’ve been proud of. Instead, we’re going to get something boring, tepid and anonymous. Whatever. I’m tired of Regina’s leaders’ lack of vision and dull ideas. I’d rather this town was run by people who aren’t scared of big ideas. And no, the stadium doesn’t count. /Stephen Whitworth

I’d Rather Be Smoking Pot Right Now

What I’d like to do (without risking a criminal conviction that would hurt my future job prospects and ability to travel outside Canada) is already legal in Colorado, Washington State, Alaska and Oregon. And in 2016, California, Nevada and several other states may join them after holding “reeferendums” to legalize the recreational use of the Herb That Shall Not Be Named.

Oh, sorry for lapsing into HarperSpeak there. But that’s the Conservatives’ stance on cannabis in a nutshell — a demon drug that, if legalized, would lead to dealers standing 10-deep on school corners to lead children astray. To prevent that from happening, the Harperites are plugging away with an ’80s-style War on Drugs/Tough on Crime campaign.

No matter that voters in four U.S. states — all highly desirable places to live, I might add — have decided to permit the sale of pot to adults under regulations similar to ciggies and booze. No matter, too, that in less progressive jurisdictions, thousands of people continue to be arrested and jailed for simple possession, pretty much destroying their lives, and costing governments billions in extra police, court and prison expenses.

Ironically, the Voldemort scenario that the Cons flog in attacks on the NDP and Liberals (who favour decriminalizing/legalizing pot) is what things are essentially like now. Bring cannabis under a proper regulatory regime, and the black market — like it did for alcohol after prohibition ended in 1933 — will disappear. Gangs use pot as a cash cow now. Without it, they’ll be greatly weakened.

Makes sense to me. It should to conservatives, too. /Gregory Beatty

I’d Rather Veterans Got More Than A Handshake

I’d rather write something about how Canadian Armed Forces vets receive the care they deserve, rather than write about a money-hungry government cheaping out on their mental health needs.

On Dec. 10 Cpl. Scott Smith took his own life, making him the “16th” Canadian soldier to have committed suicide this year. That number might be low, as it only reflects MEN who serve in the regular forces; reservists and women aren’t included. Veteran Affairs is underwhelming Canadians on what is actually an overwhelming issue, but sweeping issues under the rug is par for the course for the Harper administration.

Still, under the heat of a looming Auditor General report, the “support the troops” Harpocrites broke a noticeable sweat. In a mad dash to cover their tracks, Minister of Health Rona Ambrose released a proactive statement claiming $200 million in support over the next six years will go towards veterans’ mental health.

Then the report came out. What happened to the $1.1 billion in funding that the Auditor General said lapsed since 2006? Oh yeah, PM Stephen Harper claims they “overshot” spending estimates because they’re a bunch of good fiscal managers who came in under budget, and were merely coming in under budget.

This from the guy who took a tough stance against Vladimir Putin, sternly demanding he get out of Ukraine while shaking the Russian president’s hand.

We have a “rah-rah yay-army” PM who underfunds veterans’ services. I’d rather we didn’t. /Ashley Rankin

I’d Rather See Dick Cheney Take Jesse Ventura’s Challenge

Released earlier this month, the United States Senate Intelligence Committee investigation into the Central Intelligence Agency’s detention and interrogation program is one of the most damning documents of the young 21st century. To extract information from people suspected of terrorist activities, CIA officials committed human rights abuses. And if recent public opinion polls are to believed, most Americans are fine, tickety-boo with that. You know, 9/11 and all.

But there are three problems with that strategy. First of all, If the CIA and the U.S. government officials who ran this program can get off scot-free, then what purpose did post-war trials of people who committed and/or authorized torture in the name of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan serve? Today, thanks to the U.S. and allied governments’ wholesale embracing of these same measures, those trials don’t look to be justice of the righteous: they were the revenge of the victors.

Secondly, by disregarding the rule of law, governments lower themselves to the point where, in the eyes of non-combatants, they’re no better than the terrorists they’re supposed to be protecting us all from.

If terrorism’s main function is to frighten people into giving you what you want, are governments committing torture are doing the same things as terrorists — trying to instill the fear of God into the populace in order to scare them into submission? Looks like it. And for those caught in the torture chambers, either they left as broken individuals or, as we’ve seen in Iraq, they became the foundation of the Islamic State fighters.

Torture doesn’t work, if by “work” you mean “actually collect intelligence from combatants”. Conventional intelligence-gathering led the U.S. to kill Osama bin Laden, not rectally feeding some hopeless schmuck.

The report says that there was no benefit to conducting the torture — they never found out anything through all that sadistic effort that they wouldn’t have learned if the combatants were instead treated like normal prisoners.

There’s a reason why cowards — whether they wore SS uniforms in yesteryear or work for the CIA today — engage in this kind of activity. Take Dick Cheney, for example. He finagled every student and medical deferment he could find in order to keep the military draft board from taking him on an all-expenses-paid-by-the-U.S.-Army trip to Vietnam, but in his professional career he has had no scruples about sending military forces wherever he wants. And if he thinks, as he’s been telling the American media, that torture is effective, let him prove it.

Jesse Ventura, a former United States Navy diver, professional wrestler and governor of Minnesota, says if he uses “enhanced interrogation techniques”, he could have the former U.S. vice-president confessing the Charles Manson murders within the hour.

I’m a squeamish guy, but I’d be willing to watch that. And I’d take the under. /Stephen LaRose

I’d Rather That Barber Shop Followed The Law And Cut Her Hair

But you already know that. But come on. It’s 2014. Ragged Ass Barbers’ business model is catnip for lesbians and other customers with unconventional gender identities. They should know this. Cut the hair. /Stephen Whitworth