Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Let's abolish the senate

Canada, like many democracies, has a bicameral system.  However, unlike most of those other democracies, only one of the houses, the House of Commons, contains members democratically elected by the citizens of this country.  The Senate is populated by political appointees, appointed by the Governor General from a list carefully selected by the prime minister of the day to meet very specific criteria. Unfortunately for the people of Canada, the selection criteria is most often based on how closely the appointees will cling to the party line (as defined by the PM).

I'm currently vacillating between my desire to see the Senate reformed or abolished.  Arguments for keeping the Senate are that, should the Commons attempt something completely batshit crazy, say, passing a bill that blatantly attacks organised labour for no good reason, the Senate is there to offer some sober second thought, and then offer a moderating voice, by proposing amendments that make a mockery of the bill.  What usually happens, however, depends on whether the prime minister's party has a majority in the Senate.  If it does, then the Senate is usually just a rubber stamp for whatever just got hammered through the Commons.  If the opposition has a majority in the Senate, then the Senate will obstruct or slow down legislation just enough to be annoying, but not enough to give the PM justification in wiping them out (although the PM could simply appoint enough Senators to guarantee that a bill will pass, as Brian Mulroney did for the GST). 

What we really find is that the 'sober second thought' that is supposed to be the responsibility of the Senate is actually happening in the courts, as they compare new (and old) legislation to the Constitution and the Charter of Rights.  So on this basis, we could probably do away with 105 unelected politicians, and their staffs, and their perks, and their travel budgets, and so on.

But then who will be left to stand up to the PMO?  In this country, there is a ridiculous amount of power concentrated in the Prime Minister's Office.  If the Prime Minister has a majority in the House of Commons, he can act more or less by fiat, stifling debate, and hammering through an agenda that may bear no relation to his platform in the last election.  The PM could, for example, arbitrarily gut environmental legislation, dump responsibilities to another level of government, push through omnibus bills that effectively re-write massive amounts of legislation, and use his power in the Commons to ensure that the potential effects of the legislation are not even considered.  The Senate, provided it is not simply the Prime Minister's lapdog, has the ability to moderate legislation, and potentially save time in the courts (by ensuring the legislation is sound) or more legislative time by catching impacts of new legislation on existing laws.

In my opinion, senators should not be affiliated with political parties.  This would allow them to review proposed legislation independently of party politics, guided by the direction from the House of Commons, but not blinded by a political agenda.  To do this, power to appoint senators must be taken away from the Prime Minister.  I don't see that senators need necessarily be elected.  A non-partisan selection process could be established, as currently exists for appointments for judges or members of the Order of Canada.  In particular, this would allow an opportunity to ensure representation for groups such as First Nations who might otherwise be underrepresented in parliament.

However, I am realistic enough to acknowlege that only a small minority of Canadians would agree to a change to the selection process that does not involve elections of some sort.  And that means a partisan process, as the political parties compete to see who gets their snout into the trough, regardless of how the elections are scheduled.  I see an elected Senate being just a minor variation on the existing House of Commons, providing no serious 'sober second thought' (even less than currently occurs) but more opportunity for meaningless political grandstanding.

So, I guess I'm for reform if it is meaningful and results in a better system for Canadians, and for abolition otherwise.

Happy birthday, Sea King!

Still in service after 50 years, despite promises to replace them since the Mulroney era!

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Legalise Mary Jane

This week, Justin Trudeau came out in favour of legalising pot.  I think I can support his position:  pot is not any more harmful than alcohol or tobacco, and both of those are legally available throughout the country.  Legalising marijuana would allow its production and sale to be subject to vice taxes, as is the case for both smokes and booze.  And it would allow police resources to focus on more serious crimes.  

If we do go ahead and legalise MJ here in Canada, though, I'd like it to be restricted in a way similar to booze:

1.  Limit the sale and consumption to people of 18 years of age or older.  I don't want my kid smoking (and once he's an adult, he'll be able to choose for himself).
2.  Limit the consumption of marijuana to private residences or licensed facilities.  I don't smoke MJ myself, and I don't want my visits to the park (or downtown, or other public places) to be subject to clouds of pot smoke, any more than I want to be exposed to cigarette smoke.
3.  Ban driving or use of heavy machinery whilst under the influence, as with booze.

Popular music

Top of the charts on the day I was born (25 July 1967):

Top of the charts on my birthday this year:

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Even Canada's premiers want First Minister's conferences to resume!

In reference to my earlier rant about First Ministers' Conferences (or rather the surprising absence thereof: ), the latest from Niagara-on-the-lake is that Canada's premiers want to have a face-to-face with the Prime Minister!

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Numbered divisions for the army?

Following on yesterday's post, this news release from DND  says that Canadian Army Areas will be renamed as "Divisions".  This is another step backwards.  While the story claims that this is a "re-introduction" of the old divisional structure, it isn't really.  The new, numbered divisions bear no relation to the 4 divisions of the WWI CEF or the 5 divisions of the WWII Canadian Army.  Each of the wartime divisions had constituent units representing the whole country, the new divisions are completely regional.  The new nomenclature also reduces clarity - the meaning of "Western Area" or "Maritime Area" is readily apparent to any Canadian; who will suspect that 3rd Division represents the West?

As for preserving or reintroducing historical units, here is an example of how it doesn't even do that:  My former militia regiment is the Calgary Highlanders.  The Highlanders perpetuate the 10th Battalion of the CEF, which was in the 1st Division.  During the Second World War, the Calgary Highlanders were in the Second Division.  The new renaming of Land Force Areas to Divisions places the Calgary Highlanders into the 3rd Division - so how is that a restoration of a historical unit?


Tuesday, 23 July 2013

New/old insignia for the Canadian Army - what's the point?

Two years ago, the Conservative government restored the titles Royal Canadian Navy, Canadian Army and Royal Canadian Air Force to mixed reaction.  In my opinion, bringing back those names made sense, as the titles are more meaningful than Maritime Force, Land Force and whatever it was they called the folks who flew aircraft.  And sensibly, the restoration of the names does not devolve the RNC, Army and RCAF back into the separate entities that they were before Unification - all three remain components of the Canadian Forces.  More recently, the RCN restored a nice distinction for officers' uniforms by reinstating the executive curl, a fancy loop in the officer's braid.  Looks dashing and gives the sailors a reason to feel important.

And now the changes are going to go even further - the government wants to restore pre-1968 Army rank insignia.  From 1968 to the present, all members of the Canadian Forces used the same system of rank insignia, regardless of whether they served on land, at sea or in the air.  But now the Government wants to go back to a system that last existed before most current members of the Army were even born.  I've not been able to find images of what the new/old insignia will look like, but according to the news report here

1.  Maple leaves are to be eradicated from officers' rank insignia.  Right now only generals are the only officers with maple leaves in their rank insignia (one for a brigadier, two for a major general, three for a lieutenant general and 4 for a full general).  It's a nice way to add a distinctly Canadian twist to the international tradition of giving generals a number of stars or pips - why not leave our Canadian generals a nice Canadian distinction in their insignia?
2.  Keeping uniform rank insignia across the three services allows instant recognition of who outranks whom.  The forces have been unified since 1968 - why complicate things further?
3.  Enlisted ranks are to be restored to pre-1968 titles and presumably insignia as well.  This seems to me to be a waste of time as well.  Let's keep the insignia as they are, with maple leaves above the hooks for sergeants and master corporals.
4.  The reports say the rank of private will be replaced with guardsman for Guards regiments, rifleman for rifle regiments, sapper for military engineers, trooper for armoured corps and on and on.  These titles are already in informal use, but for official purposes, they are all privates.  Why muck about with changing every soldier's file to show that he is a private when in one unit, but must change to being a rifleman if he changes to a rifle unit or a fusilier or whatever?  These distinct titles can and should be maintained as regimental or corps traditions, but there is no need to add an unnecessary administrative burden by making them formal ranks (really, they are more like appointments - see here for an explanation of the difference between ranks and appointments: )
5.  One place where I would see a benefit to restoring an element of the pre-Unification ranks is with the ranks/appointments of Corporal and Master Corporal.  Master Corporals have only been around since 1968, as before then they were known as corporals, the first of the leadership ranks.  Apparently what happened was that privates who had achieved a certain level of technical skill were allowed to become corporals, which led to a need for a distinction between corporals with leadership positions, and corporals who were really more like technical specialists.  The leadership corporals became master corporals.  In my mind, only the soldiers with leadership roles should be called corporals; the other soldiers (privates with advanced skills) should be given another title.
6.  One final thought - in the olden days, there was a distinction between where commissioned officers, warrant officers and enlisted members wore their rank insignia (shoulder/cuff/upper sleeve).  With current operational uniforms, rank insignia is typically worn in the same location on the uniform - usually on a slip-on badge located above the soldier's sternum.  I can see immediately that is likely to be confusion between warrant officers and majors - in the old system, both of these soldiers' insignia consisted of a crown, but confusion was averted due to the placement of the insignia.  That will no longer be the case if both have to wear their crown insignia in the same location.

But then, as with every other decision made by the current government, they didn't ask my opinion.

Whither Canadian support for international development? (now that CIDA is no more)

In the spring budget for 2013, the Harper Government abolished the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).  CIDA was created in 1968 to administer Canada’s foreign aid (also known as Official Development Assistance or ODA) and since then developed into an internationally recognized brand representing Canada on the world stage.  It also became synonymous with bureaucracy and red tape, and a mind-bogglingly complex application process, to the extent that aid agencies needed full time staff just to navigate the complex forms and endure the months or years long process to get project funding approved.  It can readily be argued that reform was needed at CIDA, but that’s not what they got (unless you count folding into another department).

What was once CIDA still has its own minister, though!  Christian Paradis has been appointed to replace Julian Fantino.  Paradis is known for his championing of Canada’s export of asbestos.  Asbestos has been banned for most uses in Canada, but Minister Paradis did his best to ensure that other markets, presumably those with much more stringent safety regulations (such as India), should not be deprived the benefits of this wonder material.

CIDA had a mandate to focus on alleviation of poverty.  As far as I’ve been able to tell, that mandate has not changed, however when the dissolution of CIDA was announced, the government claimed that merging development with international trade and foreign affairs would allow for efficiencies and consistency in Canada’s international affairs.  DFAIT’s mandate does not include poverty alleviation, so when we see Canada’s ODA ‘aligned’ with DFAIT policies, does that mean the DFAIT will be adopting CIDA’s former mandate as its own, or will Canada’s ODA move away from poverty alleviation and become a mechanism for promoting Canada’s trade or foreign policy objectives?

In 1970, the OECD (of which Canada is a member) set a target of 0.7% of national income as the target for member governments to spend on Official Development Assistance (ODA), based on a proposal from the Pearson Commission, headed by former Canadian Prime Minister Lester Pearson.  No Canadian government has ever met this target, but the Trudeau government came closest in the 1970s when funding exceeded 0.5% of GDP.  Funding was since reduced, in particular during the Chretien-Martin governments of the 1990s and the target of 0.7% of GDP was never met.  Funding started to increase again in the new millennium, reaching 0.35% under the Harper government but that has already fallen back to 0.25% of GDP and will likely fall further.  Interestingly, all mainstream Canadian political parties except the Conservatives claim that they want to meet the 0.7% target.  It’s worth noting that the Liberals had a few decades in power and didn’t meet it, so these goals should be taken with a grain of salt.

Consistency in funding is no longer existent, either.  There have been a couple of re-organisations of Canadian ODA targets for funding.  There was a time when Canada spread ODA funding all over the world, but so thinly as to have no real effect anywhere.  The Martin government announced that funding would be targeted at several specific countries, and other countries would have ODA reduced or eliminated.  This made sense, as concentrated funding for a few countries would be more effective than widely dispersed but underfunded programs.  It would be unfortunate for the programs that would be cut, but a great benefit to the countries and programs that would receive focused attention.  It didn’t work out that way, however.  The list of target countries gets changed according to the objectives of the party in power.  Funding can be arbitrarily cut.  Afghanistan was receiving almost no aid from Canada in 2001, but ODA funding started to climb quickly, reaching a peak of almost $350,000 in 2008, but as soon as the Canadian Army pulled out of Kandahar, funding plummeted.  Funding dropped 46% between 2011 and 2012, from over $300,000,000 to less than $165,000,000 and is likely to fall further.  Haiti’s ODA funding dropped from $350,000 to $204,000 in the same period.  It is very difficult to maintain long-term projects if funding cannot be relied on for extended periods of time.

For now, the Government of Canada is not particularly forthcoming about Canada’s objectives for Official Development Assistance.  Will the ODA mandate change now that international development has merged with foreign affairs and international trade?  Will processes be simplified to obtain grants?  How will different mandates for development assistance, international trade and foreign affairs be rationalized?  Is the 0.7 goal to be abandoned?  Minister Paradis, welcome to your new job and I look forward to seeing these and other questions answered!

Survivalist fiction

I’ve started reading ‘Dies the Fire’ by S.M. Stirling, after seeing several recommendations, including by a few SCA members.  It is part of a genre of post-apocalypse fiction, which speculates how people would react to a collapse in civilization.  I’ve read a few novels along this theme over the years (such as Lucifer’s Hammer, Day of the Triffids, On the Beach, The Last Canadian, Twilight:2000, World War Z and others) and seen even more movies (Mad Max and its sequels, the Postman, Waterworld, Children of Men, I am Legend, Damnation Alley, Planet of the Apes, Zardoz, The Day After, The Quiet Earth, and more).  Some of these were good, other less so; but generally fun, escapist stuff.

A common (but not universal) theme is that, whatever causes the collapse, there will be some heavily-armed megalomaniac who will mysteriously appear, attract a large following of sadistic thugs, and then impose his ‘vision’ on whatever other survivors he can find.  These other survivors are usually pacifistic, granola-munching hippies who are completely incapable of resisting the thugs.  It is then up to our noble hero to step up and liberate the oppressed hippies.  The result is often a thinly-veiled justification for promoting ongoing access to firearms, a criticism of dolce-vita urbanites, and an implication that city-dwellers will be the first to die and/or give over to cannibalism, mob rule or willingly throw themselves into the service of the megalomaniac tyrant.

However, looking at actual disasters, the most typical response I’ve noted is to pull together and provide assistance for victims.  Police, fire and ambulance services will step forward and do their assigned jobs for the duration of the crisis.  Agencies such as the Red Cross, St John’s Ambulance, Salvation Army and other church groups or community organisations will provide assistance in accordance with their mandate or resources.  People not involved with one or more of these agencies will look for ways to contribute, either with time, money or in other ways.  The sense of community to me usually seems to be strengthened, rather than weakened, by the emergency.

Some of these stories seem to promote what might be the author’s political viewpoint.  However, since the author gets to create the stage and then decide how the characters react, he is able to manipulate events to reinforce his idea.  Don’t take anything you find in these stories as ‘proof’ of anything!

So I am going to continue enjoying my survivalist fiction, and keep it for what it is – fiction, fantasy, just plain made up stuff.  It is not a study in how people are likely to respond in a real crisis.  Don’t draw any morals from these stories; just enjoy them as fun, escapist fiction.


I’ve noticed this term showing up now and again, and find it mildly amusing.  It seems to be favoured by those on the right of the political spectrum, who apply it to people who espouse viewpoints different from their own.  The idea is that ‘sheeple’ are ordinary people who are unable to think for themselves, and are thus easily manipulated by the media, whose message they then bleat until the next media story comes along.

Ironically, these sheeple are most often criticized for taking a position contrary to that promoted the commentator, unlike the clear-thinking, intelligent folks who conform to the commentator’s opinions.

The greatest amusement for me is that I mostly notice this term being used by conservative Albertans to describe non-conservatives.  Although I was born and raised in Alberta, I have never embraced the conservatism that runs so deeply there, so when I take the same position as the ‘sheeple’, am I bleating along with one herd, or simply rejecting the other herd?

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Car sharing philosophy

When we moved to Victoria, we got rid of the car (it was donated and the money went to the Stephen Lewis Foundation).  We have set ourselves up here so that we have no need of a car for day-to-day living, and have joined the Victoria Car Share Cooperative so I can have access to a car for when I need it.  I'd originally thought that would be once a month, but has turned out to be about twice a month.

One thing that I had not considered was how joining the co-op would make me so much more aware of the costs of operating a car.  When I was a car owner, I needed to buy the car (I paid cash, so that was a one-time payment, although I know others who make monthly payments on their rides), so once the money was gone I didn't think about it any more.  I paid insurance in 6-month increments, so only needed to worry about that cost a couple of times a year.  Fuel was only an issue when I filled up once a month or so, and other maintenance (oil changes, not much else), less frequently.  So the car was paid for in advance, for the most part.  Any time I had a whim to drive, vehicle operating costs (other than parking) were seldom on my mind.

Now with the car share, my costs are a fraction of what they were as a car owner.  However, I know that I will be charged for every hour I have the car booked, and for every kilometre that I drive.  While the costs are low compared to any other means of travel other than walking, biking or transit, just being aware that I am spending money each time I take the car has given me a new perspective on travel costs.  As a car owner, the money had already been spent, so I might as well drive.  In the car share, each decision to drive is a decision to be billed specifically for that drive.  It makes me think for each trip if I have made the best choice for mode of travel - not something that I had expected when I joined!

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Naked protestors

I don’t think they are having the effect they claim to be seeking.  I will stare at beautiful naked people, because they are beautiful naked people.  However, they won’t convince me to give up eating meat.  They won’t increase or decrease my outrage at misogyny in Islamic countries.  I am now slightly more aware of issues related to democratic reform (or lack thereof) in Ukraine, so I guess they have had some effect on me.

Still, I like looking at beautiful naked women, so if Peta, Femen and others want to carry on with naked carrying on, more power to them.  Just so long as they don’t expect that the awareness (or whatever else) they raise is necessarily related to their target subject!

Sympathy for the cop who inspired 'Slutwalk'

In 2011, a Toronto policeman participating in a campus safety forum was accused of uttering words to the effect that “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized”.  Participants at this forum seized on his words as a form of ‘victim blaming’ and launched a movement notable for its vociferous defence of women’s rights to dress any way they choose, and ended up rather missing the point of the safety forum.

I did not attend the aforementioned safety forum; however I have participated in training sessions related to reducing the risk of becoming a victim.  My understanding of this sort of safety forum is to understand that there are threats – in this case to university students, specifically women, as the statistics bear out.  The likeliest victims of sexual assault are women aged 15-24, by a large margin – they are 18 times more likely to be assaulted.  It is further estimated that only about 10% of sexual assaults are reported to police, making clear statistics difficult to confirm, but this clearly identifies university-aged women as being in a group that is at higher risk than other members of society.  Lots of detail for anyone so inclined can be found here:

As a result, events like the safety forum and other educational efforts are important to inform women of the risks that the world holds.  Identifying and educating on risk is not victim blaming.  Informing women when an activity places them at higher risk of being attacked allows those women to make informed choices to reduce the likelihood of becoming victims.  Note that this in no way absolves the attacker of responsibility. 
Now, perhaps the police officer should have phrased his words more carefully.  “Slut” is an emotionally-charged word.  Perhaps he was going for shock effect, in which case he succeeded beyond his expectations.  It certainly seems to me that he wanted to get women to consider how their actions may place themselves in greater risk, and to consider how they may be perceived by potential attackers.

The corollary to this is that the way a woman dresses is only one factor in a terribly complicated risk matrix, and likely a relatively minor one.  When I was preparing to work in Afghanistan, we were taught that in socially conservative countries, we would be judged on how we dressed, and that insufficient respect for local customs could have fatal consequences.  Here in Canada, clothing choices are far more liberal, and much less likely to be a factor in whether one is attacked than other choices, like binge drinking, walking alone at night in unsafe areas, the risk of one’s drink being ‘spiked’ with a sedative or other ‘date-rape’ drug, accepting a ride from a stranger, or any of a myriad of other risk activities.  The statistics indicate that sexual assault is more likely to be committed by someone known to the victim, so the ‘don’t trust strangers’ part of the advice won’t have bearing as the betrayal of trust is more likely to be by someone you don’t know.

Now, it is possible to follow all the advice from the safety forum and still be a victim of crime, just as it is possible to refrain from smoking and still contract lung cancer.  The purpose is to promote consideration of one’s actions and potential consequences. 

Please, attend safety fora.  Engage in discussion.  Recognize that someone can offer advice on how to avoid being a victim without suggesting that a victim somehow ‘causes’ the crime.  

Saturday, 13 July 2013

I don't understand the law

It it not (necessarily) illegal to shoot and kill an unarmed youth ( ) but 'terroristic' facebook posts can get you 10 years in prison ( ).

Is 'terroristic' even a real word?

Monday, 8 July 2013

Electoral Colleges

I originally meant to post this on July 4th, then got distracted for a few days!    Today is the 4th of July, and the national holiday for our brethren to the south.  I think that the USA has a great system, with nice checks and balances between the executive, judicial and legislative branches.  Off the top of my head, there is only one thing that I would reconsider about the US system, and that is the electoral college.

I understand how and why it was introduced, but to me it seems an unfortunate relic of a bygone era.  Modern American voters are not a mob, and (while some may disagree!), they do not need an electoral college to choose the 'right' candidate in case the voters attempt to elect the 'wrong' candidate.  Further, the idea that regional voices should be counted differently, and that a voter in Wyoming has greater worth than a voter in California, should be a bit insulting.

Simply counting one vote as one vote, all votes equal, and then one of the quirks of US Presidential elections will disappear - the pursuit of 'swing states'.  All votes will count, and a New York Republican vote will be as valuable as a Texas Republican, and a Montana Democrat's vote will have meaning.  An election will not depend on hanging chads in Florida, and candidates will be able to focus on matters of interest to the nation, and not to special interests in a scattering of regions.

Of course, it may lead to interesting results when a third party gets to be a voice in the election - but that's all part of the fun with elections. And overall, I think we have far more things to fix here in Canada with our unelected senate and near-absolute power in the PMO.

$100 per month per kid? I'd sure love to get me some of that action

Stephen Harper boasts that his government gives out $100 per month to each child in Canada.  So trust me to find a way to not be eligible for a 'universal' benefit!

I'm a Canadian citizen.  Arthur is a Canadian citizen, just passed 10 months last week.  But the rules state that the 'primary caregiver' is the only one who can receive this benefit, and that by definition is the 'female parent'.  Unfortunately, my citizenship and Arthur's citizenship both become irrelevant, and only Ellis' status as 'temporary resident' in Canada matters.  So the three of us, with one income between us, can't get this benefit.  For the record, Ellis applied for a permanent resident visa 19 months ago, and we've been waiting, more with quiet desperation than patience, ever since our last contact from Citizenship and Immigration Canada back in October.  At the time, the CIC website said that we should expect a result in 8 months, but that deadline passed a month ago and we are none the wiser.

Whatever happened to First Ministers' Conferences?

First Ministers' Conferences, that is a meeting between the Prime Minister of Canada and the Premiers of the provinces, used to happen nearly once each year, especially through the 1980s and 1990s.  Their frequency fell off in the 2000s, but Jean Chretien still managed to attend seven in 10 years, and Paul Martin managed one in his short time as PM.  Stephen Harper has attended once, in 2008, since he became prime minister.

These conferences are an opportunity for coordinating between the provinces and the federal government, especially where there are overlapping areas of interest.  They also allow consultation between the federal and provincial governments, and present a forum where leaders from different parts of the country can come together to ensure that uniform standards are established for things like health care, education, transportation and environment, which otherwise could (and often do) differ from one province to the next.

So why don't they happen any more?

Monday, 1 July 2013

Why doesn't the price at the till match the price on the shelf?

I moved to New Zealand in 2004.  In the spring of 2007, I returned to Canada (via a three-month detour through Rapanui, Chile, Peru and Colombia).  However, I knew I was back in Canada when I purchased a five dollar phone card at Toronto’s Pearson airport, and was charged $5.65 at the till.

Canadians know that we are charged sales taxes, the federal GST for all of us, PST for many, and HST for those that didn’t repeal it.  I’m not necessarily opposed to sales taxes – there are worse ways to be taxed, besides they are well established and I can’t see them being repealed any time soon.  What I object to is that the tax is added at the till.  I can’t just look at the price on the shelf and compare that to the cash in my wallet – I need to add 5%, or 12%, or 13%, or 15.65%, depending on where I live.  As consumers, we have to pay the tax whether it is thrust in our faces or not, and not having it included just makes the math harder.

New Zealand has a GST that is include in the price you see advertised.  In the UK, their outrageous 20% VAT is included in the listed price.  Everyone who lives there knows about the tax and how much that they are charged.  And everyone who has an exemption knows that, too!

If we direct all merchants to include the tax in all advertised prices (including the price on the shelf), we’d save on aggravation and we wouldn’t have the tax shoved in our face every time we make a purchase.  Plus, it would be nicer for visitors!  Tourists would simply see a price, and know what they need to pay.  No need to explain the entire tax system to every new out-of-country visitor.