The Canadian Radio and Telecommunications Commission here in Canada regulates all things pertaining to the internet, cable TV, home phone, Broadcast networks and cellular phone industry.

Recently the CRTC released a decision requiring all cable TV providers to change the way services are sold. The globe and mail described this decisions like this.

“Television subscribers will be able to buy only the channels they want, one by one or in small packages, the federal broadcast regulator said Thursday. By the end of next year, TV subscribers will have the option to add those networks to a “skinny” basic cable package that will cost no more than $25 a month.”

Personally I do not have a problem with this type of cable packaging. In fact I believe it is a good thing for consumers over all. But not without its cost. The problem I Have is with how the packaging has come to be in the first place.

As with many things in Canada, we operate and live within a highly regulated market place within this country. This regulatory environment is a very real contributor to the lack of competition and high consumer price for goods and services as compared to other developed nations around the world. It is also important to understand that most cable TV providers in Canada already offer, give or take, 100 + pick and pay TV channel options for consumers. In addition to that some cable companies also already offer affordable tv, phone and internet packages, The company I work for offers a bundle for 60/month for all 3 services. (most people however are not happy with what the bundle offers and want more for the same price).

Many of the regulations in Canada have resulted in bundling by law. An example of these regulations which is not being repealed is mandatory carriage. Essentially what this means is that in order to have a TV package, consumers are required to purchase first local Canadian content whether they want it or not before they are allowed to buy other content and specialty channels. The CRTC has effectively forced Canadians to buy bundled services because they have deemed local networks to be too important to fail. It is feared that if people were not forced to buy these channels before buying anything else they would somehow go out of business. Considering the overwhelming amount of people who have made this argument with me, I can only conclude they are wrong. Not only that if local channels cannot survive in the local market which is why they are mandatory carriage then clearly they are not catering to consumer demand effectively in the first place. There seems to be such a high demand for local channels that I cannot see these networks loosing out on subscribers in any significant way. When people call me at work I am often asked “do you get the local channels in your basic package” There are a small amount that do not want them however.  Why does the CRTC feel that they should be forced to have these channels if they do not want them. That is after all the premise of their argument to require pick and pay channels for everything else. Consumers should not be required to buy channels they do not want to get channels they do. This set up still requires consumers to purchase for example CBC (which is publicly funded at close to 1 billion a year) before they are allowed to buy discovery channel for example.

The irony in all of this is that the CRTC is still regulating what consumers can and cannot watch. In order for a channel to get into Canada they are required to abide by content laws with a min of 35-50% Canadian content. Which is why we have food network Canada, and not food network, or HBO Canada and not HBO, discovery Canada and not just discovery … (it may also be the reason why so much of what is on these channels is constant repeats as there is not enough Canadian content to fill the gap)

Canadians have been complaining for quite some time about the cost of service and the bundle options. They have felt that there is limited choice and high cost to get the channels and programming they want. I don’t disagree with them. The problem here is that we have within our Canadian culture a crybaby helpless mindset. We don’t think about helping ourselves. The consumers mindset is one of a kid having a temper tantrum at the grocery store. They yell, scream and make demands, then pay the bill and complain to mommy (CRTC) that the big mean cable company won’t give them the service they want at the price they want. The end result is that they run to mommy and daddy to make them change. This leads to more government regulations which results in the most recent decision by the CRTC.

The irony is all of this is that the protectionism regulations set up by the business in the industry who ran the CRTC is what created this problem to begin with. The CRTC has effectively created oligopoly and monopolistic environment which these business work in resulting in the lack of choice and non-competitive environment in which consumers demanded via pressure to regulate in the first place. What we have now is that same regulator which caused the problem to begin with is now supposed to solve the problem they created.

This will not bring more choice as consumers will still have at best 2 choices for cable TV, both offering the same thing as the other at the same price points. To put this in perspective in the united kingdom a quick Google search reveals that there is at least 10 cable companies servicing a country with twice the population of Canada. Canada has about 3 companies to choose from. Rogers, Bell and Shaw, (Telus if you count them). At best 4 companies. We may have half the population but we have less than half the ratio for companies to choose from when you look at national options. In fact there is not one cable company in Canada that provides service to the entire country. There are other smaller providers but they service only small areas of the country. Here is a simple break down

Telus – Alberta and BC

SHAW – Alberta and BC (small parts of Saskatchewan and only Winnipeg in Manitoba)

Rogers – Ontario

Bell – Quebec

Eastlink – Maritime provinces

Sasktel – Saskatchewan

MTS – Manitoba

Northwest tel – Territories and some parts of BC

(general summary only, providers may service some areas not listed in limited fashion)

Essentially you are lucky if you have 2 choices for service providers. With such a make up in the pay TV landscape carved out with the help of the CRTC is it any wonder that this regulator is the problem in the first place. The CRTC is; as far as this blogger is concerned, directly responsible for high cost to consumers. By creating and oligopoly system to provide these services there never has been an incentive to provide lower cost service, because there has never been effective competition within the industry.

Considering the CRTC has mandated a maximum price for these products at 25 dollars for a basic TV package, how long before the CRTC starts regulating internet rates across Canada as they have done already. ( CRTC Cracks down internet rates in the north ). How long before the CRTC starts to regulate and cap rates on cell phone rates, pick and pay channel rates. Even the CRTC has admitted channels will fail in this new market. While that is the nature of free market economics, it should not be because of state mandated regulations that cause business to fail.

The problem we have here is not so much that business is forcing people to pay more than they want, it is that people cannot let go of their “rights” mentality concerning products that are not essential for our livelihoods. These services are not rights. We have created an environment of cry baby wannabe’s that cannot handle the thought of going without. The very idea of refusing to pay the rates they are and cancel their services is just so unthinkable to them. Cable companies know this and it has directly resulted in the high cost of service along with many other regulatory factors for the “benefit” of the consumer .The only option as they see it,  is to ask for more regulation to “lower” their bills.

Consumers in this country generally have no clue how this is going to effect the cost of their bills. Many pick and pay channels go for about 3.00/month right now. Many of which are also included in packages (which make those channels as low as 0.50/channel). with pick and pay even at the 3/month rate which I cannot see going down only up, those same 20 channels in a theme pack for 10/month would now cost 60/month for those same channels. This will not lower the cost of service, it will increase it as every government regulation has done in every industry in the history of state intervention in the market.

I certainly understand that Canada has geographical challenges that contribute to the cost of these services. Canada has one of the largest geographical areas with a small population creating huge infrastructure cost to deliver service to a smaller number of people compared to pretty much every other developed nation in the world that we are often compared to. Canada is in the bottom 12 of the least densely populated countries in the world. Our population is also very highly spread out. This contributes large cost to provide services and something that is often not considered. This alone however cannot justify state intervention in how a business markets and sells its products. Ultimately consumers have much more power than they realize. Sadly in this country however, consumers would rather have the government do their work for them while continuing to pay for the service they claim is not worth the price.

The most effective thing consumers can do is to not pay the prices asked by refusing to purchase the product or service. This is a big reason why many have opted to “cut the cord” and stream all their content online via services like Netflix, popcorn time, you tube, shomi, crave tv etc…

The industry should be able to succeed or die without state intervention based on consumer demand and business marketing. When all is said and done no amount of regulation will really help consumers in the end.


New City, New life, New Job, New Home School


Recently my family learned that we are having some big changes come to our life. I learned back in february that my employer is closing the location that I am working at here in Edmonton. This has prompted me to look at my options and consider what I will need to do as I prepare for a big change in my career.

I have been offered a position with my employer in Victoria British Columbia Canada. I have accepted this offer and I am now preparing for a big move to a city 1400 km from the city I have lived in for my entire life.


With a move to a new city comes new schools and curriculum from what we have been used to in Alberta. Schooling is something that we have struggled with, most notably with our eldest daughter who has struggled to learn effectively.

Homeschooling is something we have been considering for quite some time. We have not done it at this point but likely would have for my daughter’s grade 7 year anyway with a change in schools. This relocation and move however has given us a reason to reconsidered home schooling now rather than later.

Over the past year both me and my wife have taken serious consideration to pulling our daughter out of the public system and homeschooling her. We have looked at all options, alternatives, laws concerning home schooling and cost associated with it. 
We have struggled for many years with out daughter’s continued lack of progress and general unhappiness with public school. It has been a struggle for both her and us as her parents to see her not succeeding and still being 2 grade levels behind the grade level she should be at. 
She has been to many different schools and all of them have failed to adequately educate her effectively and set her up for success. Often being taught conflicting values and biased one-sided ideology concerning many issues while failing to address effectively the core problems of reading, writing and math which should be the core education that she will need to succeed.  
As we have evaluated our options we have come to determine that public school is in fact detrimental to her success as it consistently fails to address her needs concerning her education. We as her parents have researched and evaluated home schooling and the benefits associated with it. Everything we have seen and read up on indicated from numerous different sources that home school kids consistently out perform their public school counterparts in every academic and social aspect of their learning with up to 25% actually exceeding their grade level counterparts and being 1-2 grades ahead of the public system. 
Our public system is failing our kids. It is not beneficial and based on our experience and that of many others is in fact detrimental to their education. This would explain why the Frasier institute has pointed out that there has been a 800% increase in home school enrollment over a 20 year period. Based on our research the number 1 reason for enrolling in home school is dissatisfaction with public education holding kids back from their potential or failing to education them.
The Idea of “no child left behind” is a terrible idea as well and one that I have been confronted with at some of the schools that she has been sent to. I have been told that she won’t be held back because it is not the “policy”. The problem we have with this is that it’s like taking a drowning man out to deeper water and telling him “it’s ok we don’t want to leave you behind”  Like the drowning man our kids need to be pulled back to the surface or grade level they should be at before trying to push them deeper in to the waters. 
Our public education system at this point and for many years has failed to do this. My daughter is not succeeding and has had no incentive to succeed but rather has been shut down and her problems have been all but ignored completely. She has come home numerous times complaining that she has been ignored and refused help in numerous issues and ways. She is frustrated with the lack of support and help she is supposed to be getting in the public system and as her parents we are also frustrated. 
Our family is moving to BC at the end of April and after evaluating all our options we believe that this is the time and we have decided to pull her out of the public system and enroll her in home school when we get to BC. We will be staring fresh and enrolling her in BC home school. We will give her a fresh start and I have no doubt provide her with an education superior to all the degrees and formal schooling environment will ever be able to provide
Friday march 24th will be Our daughter’s last day in class. I believe this will give her time to say goodbye to any friends she has at school and help her to have some closure on this part of her life. 
Our decision to home school does not come lightly and after much contemplation and study. We feel strongly about this and that this is the right time to start a home school program. We strongly feel that there is no other option that will be able to provide proper support and high quality of eduction that she and our other children need.
Our other kids will be starting their schooling from the start as home school kids. We look forward to giving them a oppurtunity to succeed rather than be subjected to the poor quality and severely lacking public school systems we have here.
Our kids deserve better. Public school, I have concluded is detrimental to the success of kids. They hinder rather than help them succeed. It is time that parents take back control of their children’s education as they have done for thousands of years. public school is still relatively recent development within the last 400 years in North America. For well over the past 50,000 years of human civilisations home school was the norm and we were better off for it. Cleary 10’s of thousands of parents across north america have realized this.
Some of the worlds greatest minds have been homeschooled. Here is some people of notable fame that were homeschooled that I have found via a simple google search
Albert Einstein
Abraham Lincoln,
George Washington
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Winston Churchill
Benjamin Franklin.
Helen Keller
John Adams
Leonardo Da vinci
Wolfgang Amadeaus Motzart
C.S. Lewis
Charles Dickens
Helen Beatrix Potter
Mark Twain
Pearl S. Buck
Hans Christian Andersen.
Brigham Young
Joseph Smith – who by the way was not only a general the in the U.S. military but founded a world wide religion and the city of Nauvoo
Leo Tolstoy
The Duggers
I think that is enough of a list. This just goes to show that homeschooling does not harm children as there have been many home schoolers that have risen to fame and have demonstrated a large intellect and intelligence beyond their peers at the time. Ultimatley I have come to believe that homeschool is in fact superior to public education in everyway.

Balaam mysterious prophet of the bible


Balaam was a prophet in biblical times spoken of in the book of numbers. He played a crucial role in the story of Israel before they settled in the promised land. I wonder though, who was he. Where did he come from. He is from the biblical account one who communicated with God on a regular basis. His story can be found in the book of numbers 22-24

The first mention of Baalam comes in number 22:5

 He sent messengers therefore unto Balaam the son of Beor to Pethor, which is by the river of the land of the children of his people, to call him, saying, Behold, there is a people come out from Egypt: behold, they cover the face of the earth, and they abide over against me:

we learn he is the son of Beor to Pethor. I don’t know who that is at all however so this does not give me much info of who he is. We know that he lived in the kingdom of Balak and was considered a Prophet of God. Moab was afraid of Israel and had asked Balaam to curse them

Come now therefore, I pray thee, curse me this people; for they are too mighty for me: peradventure I shall prevail, that we may smite them, and that I may drive them out of the land: for I wot that he whom thou blessest is blessed, and he whom thou cursest is cursed. However he refused to do so. He was bribed and offered all kinds of riches.

He seemed to be a pretty decent guy all around. He played a key role in Israel’s encounters on the way to the promised land. He drops in and vanishes from the story rather quickly.

Of course the best part of his story is the story of the talking donkey.

25 And when the ass saw the angel of the Lord, she thrust herself unto the wall, and crushed Balaam’s foot against the wall: and he smote her again.

 26 And the angel of the Lord went further, and stood in a narrow place, where was no way to turn either to the right hand or to the left.

 27 And when the ass saw the angel of the Lord, she fell down under Balaam: and Balaam’s anger was kindled, and he smote the ass with a staff.

 28 And the Lord opened the mouth of the ass, and she said unto Balaam, What have I done unto thee, that thou hast smitten me these three times?

 29 And Balaam said unto the ass, Because thou hast mocked me: I would there were a sword in mine hand, for now would I kill thee.

 30 And the ass said unto Balaam, Am not I thine ass, upon which thou hast ridden ever since I was thine unto this day? was I ever wont to do so unto thee? And he said, Nay.

 31 Then the Lord opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and he bowed down his head, and fell flat on his face.

His story is not without it’s humor.

I can’t help but wonder, who was he? and where did he come from. I can’t seem to find any connection with Israel other than he was there when they showed up. He is reported to be A man of God but from another culture. I’m sure God called many people from all over the world to speak for him. I wonder however who he was and what his connection to Israel is.

What about you. Are they any mysterious characters in the Bible you want to know more about. Let me know.


By Andrew McLean Posted in Orginals