July 2003
July 20th 2003
July 4th 2003

July 20th 2003
It was with some surprise that I read an article about the pricing as it is applied to liquor in Ontario.
Sometime ago I made a comment about the stupidity of taxing the local industry out of existence which was as a result of noticing how the local Ontario wines were more expensive than the majority of imported wines at my local LCBO store. I still can't understand a country that allows imports to swamp the local industry.
And please note that this appears to be more as a result of taxing the consumer to death rather than any tariff or local industry protection or even lack thereof!!
More interesting is that the spokesman for the LCBO trotted out all the same excuses we used to hear in South Africa whenever someone was trying to soak the masses again!!
“Increased costs, grain price increases, bottle price increases” and a whole host of others all designed to steer opinion away from what is after all merely greed on the part of an organization that has a monopoly on setting the prices!!
The LCBO is a Provincial Government organization.
The Liquor control act of Ontario grants the LCBO, complete control of alcohol retailing in Ontario.
There are no other competitors!
Technically the Beer Store could count as a competitor and no doubt is used as a sneaky excuse to pretend that the LCBO isn't alone in selling spirits but considering that the Beer Store is only allowed to sell beer (well of course!) while the LCBO outlets can sell everything this is a bit of a red herring.
So lets look at the make up of an average $10 bottle of wine:
Base price paid by LCBO (with the Federal Tax!)   - $4.25
LCBO Mark up                                                         - $2.72
LCBO wine levy                                                       - $1.12
LCBO Bottle levy                                                     - $0.22
LCBO Environment fee                                            - $0.09

So the basic LCBO Price is                                       - $8.40
But then there is the legal thieves cut to add to that as well
Federal GST                                                              - $0.59
Provincial Sales Tax                                                 - $1.01
Which brings us to the grand total of $10!!
Fantastic when you think about it. After all it is great when you have a monopoly and can slap on mark ups of over 50% ands then still add on all sorts of money grabs disguised as levy's
What really annoys me is that there is a 22c “bottle levy” in that price.
For those of you who remember taking wine bottles back to the store in South Africa allow me to point out that the LCBO here doesn't take back bottles in their stores! That's right! Once you buy them you have to recycle them through other channels! Despite the so-called levy.
In other words that “bottle levy” is really a thinly disguised cash grab once again.
And what the hell is an “environment fee”?? More of Chretiens Kyoto Accord bull or just some fancy name that the marketing department at the LCBO thought we would swallow and allow them to purloin more profits?
So with all the “taxes”, disguised as levy's or not, the $10 bottle of wine you bought last Saturday is actually composed of $6.14 of taxes!!
Which oddly enough isn't quite as bad as the real rip off which occurs with the actual liquor that the LCBO sells.
Most 750ml bottles of liquor here cost in the region of $21. Which is not as reasonable as you think when you realise that they start out at the basic price of roughly $7!!
Here is a $20.75 bottle of liquor breakdown:
Price Paid by LCBO
(Which includes Federal Tax and an import duty!)     - $6.99
LCBO Mark Up                                                           - $10.14
LCBO bottle levy                                                        - $0.22
LCBO Environment fee                                               - $0.09
So the basic price is                                                      - $17.44
Add the Robber of revenue's cut
Federal GST                                - $1.22
Provincial Sales Tax                                                    - $2.09
What I specifically like here is the over 150% mark up slapped on by the LCBO! Talk about really letting your greed take over.
Which is no doubt why the LCBO made $1.5 BILLION in profits! Because the LCBO is a Provincial Government organization this means that $1.2 billion goes to the Ontario Government while the rest goes to Ottawa!
For a long time I thought that the price in booze in Ontario was high because pressure organizations had managed to force this through as a measure designed to curtail drunkenness but in actuality it is just another way that the politicians can pour more money into their troughs!
The biggest joke of the lot is that Queens Park was looking to privatise the LCBO.
And lose all that revenue? I think not!
So some time later this year we are due to be soaked with a price increase. When the excuse are already being trotted out, you can bet your life that it will happen.
Interestingly the LCBO is the largest purchaser of alcohol in beverage form in the world. So by extrapolation that makes Queens Park the largest purchaser. Which may explain some of the ludicrous decision s made there. After all that amount of alcohol floating around has to affect the brain cells sometime!
I wonder if Moonshine is still illegal?

July 4th 2003
This was the week that I wrote my Citizenship test at last.
Almost ten months after I applied to write it and shortly after I had phoned up the Department of Immigration to jog their memory, I received the “official” letter informing me that my presence was requested down in Hamilton at 09h40
Quite a relief in fact.
Especially, I suppose, after the lady at the Ministry that I spoke to made the interesting comment that they had “finished checking up on me”!!!
Checking up on me?
I applied in September last year and it has taken them eight months to do a background check? For what I ask?
Actually I asked a few friends of mine how long it had taken them to get through the whole process when they applied and it appears that two classes are moved through the process a lot quicker.
Families that apply together and single females all seem to have gone through the process far more quickly than the single males I spoke to.
I'm not sure if this is because of the post 911 hysteria or whether the powers that be are checking up our past military service or even whether they view single males applying as a greater security risk but it was interesting that there was this increased time span for guys like myself.
Mind you seeing some of the stories that have popped up about immigrants that have taken out Citizenship and then been involved in nefarious activities, I can understand a tightening up of the whole scrutinizing.
I would love to know what my file says!!!
When we arrived at the center I noticed that my file was pretty thick! Well thicker than a few others there anyway!
Oh Well! I must have been passed by the RCMP or CSIS (the Spook Agency here!) as being not too much of a threat to the “Canadian way of life and let him take the test!”
I'm not sure whether phoning up to enquire as to where my application was in the process counted for me, or against!
Way back when I applied and they sent me the receipt (for the$200 application fee!) I also received a booklet about Canada called “A look at Canada”.
This book contains all the information needed to cover the 180 odd questions that are used to quiz you when you write. In fact at the back of the book are all the questions and with a bit of knowledge and a look through the book you will be able to answer them all anyway.
Quite some time ago I had already put up all the questions on the South Africans in Ontario website. All the answers too for that matter! Except that they apply to Ontario and the Halton region as that is of course where I live. The Immigration people prefer you to at least know something about the region of Canada that you live in!
So, for instance, you would need to know what the major industries in your area are and some of the names of local politicians and their parties.
However be warned those of you writing now, and in the near future. There appears to be a necessity to know when Nunavut gained Territorial status. Why, I don't know, but for those of you who need to be appraised of the fact, it was 1st April 1999.
In fact when they send you the time and date you are also sent an “Important Notice”!
This “Important Notice” states the following:
“The Citizenship Act and Regulations require that people applying for Citizenship have an “adequate” (sic) knowledge of Canada and of the responsibilities and privileges of citizenship.
You are also supposed to be able to speak either of the Official Languages as well.
That's English and French and not Mandarin by the way!
Although despite stating that you “have” to speak either official language we then have the ludicrous statement that if you require an interpreter one will be provided!!! Which tends to make a mockery of the whole language demand!
Then in big black bold writing is the following statement:
To pass the Citizenship test you must correctly answer all of the questions about the following:
The right to vote in elections in Canada
The right to run for elected office in Canada
Voting procedures
How to register yourself as a voter
Obviously designed to ensure that potential Liberal  voters are well informed of their rights at least!
Which, oddly enough after all that is actually only 6 questions. Although you must get five right.
The questions themselves are multiple choice and along the lines of:
“Who may vote in Federal Elections?”
Landed Immigrants
Business Owners
Canadian Citizens (nudge nudge wink wink!)

Then there are other questions about History and Geography and, because this is Canada, other rights and responsibilities of Citizenship!
I had of course spoken to a few people about the test itself and was told that it was easy if you knew the booklet, but as per usual I decided that it was better to know all there is to know in order to ensure that I didn't fail.
So I even had my Daughter grill me on all 184 questions. She was a damn side worse than the actual questions I can tell you! Demanding on a few occasions that I “read the bloody booklet”!
Enough to give anyone an impending sense of doom as the day dawned.
Which wasn't helped much by the adjudicators repeating quite a few times the mantra that “if we failed we would need to go before a Judge for further evaluation”
Apparently you need to get 12 out of the 20 questions correct and at least 3 of the Citizenship questions correct.
In hindsight I have asked myself how often that happens but I suppose, given the continuous stressing of what happens if you fail, that it must occur quite often to have that type of reaction!
At the time I began to have the odd trepidation!
Until I received the 20 questions that is!
At which stage I wondered why I had 30 minutes to finish and would they be terribly insulted if, once I had read through my answers a million times, left after 10 minutes.
Apparently not, because that is how long it took for quite a few others, who all strolled up to the markers table with this bemused look on their faces as well. After I had handed mine in I was congratulated for passing and informed that we would be called to the Oath Taking Ceremony within the next 12 weeks!! Which is I suppose an advancement on 10 months at least!
It does mean though that I miss the Canada Day Ceremonies which always have much pomp and ceremony around them and which I would have liked to go to and be made a Canadian Citizen.
I don't know why except that it is an important achievement  in my life and I want it to be special!