Monday, August 31, 2015

Game Over -- Turns out Mulcair is simply wrong about even today's NDP and deficits

As we are all no doubt aware, lately NDP leader Tom Mulcair has been on something of a rampage against the very idea of short-term deficit financing. He has gone to the extent of describing this as "immoral" and. ludicrously, invoking the memory of Tommy Douglas in his defense.

Part of this new found embrace by the NDP of the entirely destructive and reactionary idea that government should have a fetishistic embrace of balanced budgets is predicated on the notion that it is somehow historically true that the NDP have been "sound fiscal managers" who have always eschewed deficits.

When Bob Rae is brought up to counter this, the NDP Premier who made the entirely correct decision to fight the Ontario deficit of the early 90's not through massive cutbacks but by deficit spending, NDP leaders now actually will disavow or mock Rae from the right on this front even though, while there are many things to criticize the Rae government about, this is not one of them.

And, it turns out, the NDP " balanced budget" narrative is false for another reason.

The NDP have two elected provincial governments right now and both are not only running deficits but they are not actually trying to balance the budget as a primary economic or fiscal goal.

Take most recently Rachel Notley's newly elected NDP government in Alberta which is now forecast to run a near $6 billion deficit and that, as it has made clear, has no intention of implementing deep cutbacks to change this.

Apparently, not wanting to run Alberta's economy and social infrastructure completely into the ground, she must not have got the memo that Economics 101 and standard progressive economic thinking are not allowed when certain folks in the NDP want to talk nonsense because of a federal election.

However, no doubt the partisans of the NDP will cry, she has just come to power. She inherited this deficit. Even though there is no excuse for any other deficit surely we all understand this one?

And that line might work, were it not for the fact that Canada has another NDP government that has run a deficit since 2009 and that not only continues to do so but that acknowledges that it is "fiscally prudent" to do so.

An NDP government that, like the Trudeau Liberals are saying they will, invested in infrastructure despite the fact that this helped to ensure a deficit.

Manitoba's government. And an NDP government that has been in power for a generation. There is no way to claim they have "inherited" anything related to debt.

To begin:
The Manitoba NDP’s latest delay in balancing the provincial budget is actually an example of fiscal prudence, according to Premier Greg Selinger. 
Blaming falling oil prices, reduced federal funding transfers and the overall Canadian economy, Selinger said the NDP decision to postpone getting back in the black from the 2016/17 fiscal year to 2018/19 was actually part of a “balanced” economic approach 
“We’re taking a balanced approach where we don’t cut core services to people, where we provide opportunities for young people to get good jobs, and we also act with fiscal prudence in terms of dealing with the deficit and we will continue to do that in this budget,” said Selinger.
Selinger, for all his many faults, is correct here.

And it seems he, despite the deficit, is supported by progressive economists and union leaders.

Hence from Kelly Moist:
The president of CUPE Manitoba says the 2015 provincial budget reflects the needs of Manitobans and invests in core services.
Moist said she's glad to hear the government is making investments rather than cutting services or staff.
"What I'm used to seeing and hearing from my counterparts is cuts in many of the provinces," she said.
"We're seeing investments here — investments in core services, health care, education — priorities for Manitobans and obviously for our members as well." 
And from Molly McCracken:
The director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives' Manitoba office says she's pleased to see rent relief for low-income families. The budget proposes increasing the Rent Assist program to 75 per cent of the median market rent.
McCracken also gave the budget top marks for no announced cuts to services or staff.
"I think this is a responsible approach," she said.
"It's an investment in social services that we depend on through the infrastructure spending. It's a measured approach and, yeah, it's a good budget."

Shockingly neither of them felt it was immoral for Selinger to continue Manitoba's deficit. Neither of them thought it would burden "future generations".

But do you know who did?:
 The prairie director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation says deficit spending is the wrong way to go, as well as the government's plan to draw from its rainy day fund once again.
"Oh, this is an F. This is a reckless budget. This is an irresponsible budget," MacKay said.
"They promised to have the budget balanced by now. They're racking up $422 million in deficit. You know, future generations are going to have to pay for this; it's completely reckless."
And from PC Manitoba leader Pallister:
The Progressive Conservative leader accused the NDP government of "[throwing] fiscal management in the ditch" with its deficit spending, especially after Finance Minister Greg Dewar said the government won't present a balanced budget until 2018. 
"They are making promises with money they are taking from our children and our grandchildren here," Pallister said, adding that the future of front-line services will be at greater risk. 
"Every program they promise to expand today, every vote they promise to buy today, is going to come at the expense of the future security of the people whose vote they are trying to buy."​
Sound familiar? It should:
“Governing is about priorities and we’ve watched the Conservatives run up eight deficits in a row, the Liberals are now telling us that they want to run several years of deficits,” Mulcair said. “I’m tired of watching governments put that debt on the back of future generations.”

Thomas Mulcair made his second visit to Eglinton-Lawrence in midtown Toronto, where his candidate Andrew Thomson, the former Saskatchewan finance minister, opened his campaign office. Mulcair reiterated his pledge to balance the budget during his first year in office. During a wide-ranging, free-wheeling scrum, I asked Mulcair why he thought it was so imperative to be even a tougher deficit hawk than the prime minister. He said it was immoral to go further into debt today, and pass on the responsibility of repaying those debts to our children and grandchildren. 
Mulcair is straight up repeating right wing lies and lines about deficit financing and is actually also repudiating the only two existing NDP governments and their fiscal policy.

So which side are you on?

Rachel Notley's and Selinger's or Tom Mulcair's and Pallister's.

Because federal election or no federal election, you cannot be on both.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

We have a platform? No way!...and other follies from week four of the 2015 election -- A Left Chapter round-up

This is the fourth installment of our weekly election round-up of the inane, bizarre, humorous and unusually facile in the great show that is mainstream bourgeois politics in the EPIC election of 2015.

1) We have a platform? And you read it?

Elizabeth May and the Greens, it seems, were somehow unaware that they had a platform with a number of rather misogynist parts in it related to domestic violence and divorce! When they found out "Julian Morelli, the party’s communications director, said he’s thankful the problems were brought to light. "It’s fair to say those specific areas are under review, big time,”"

Good to hear. But next time you folks might want to read your platform BEFORE putting it out there.

Because that is just one of those things that parties generally do.

2) Members? We have no members. Prove it.

What happens when you have a membership that is under the illusion that its leaders care what it thinks and that has, you know, gone through the motions of passing dozens of resolutions democratically at these funny things they hold called conventions, and that were then all bundled together into something called the NDP's policy book that was then put up on the party's website but that may have stuff in it that might not be what you want people to see because all you want them to see is what the Great Leader decides will be the ONLY THINGS ANYONE IS SUPPOSED TO TALK ABOUT come election time?

Well you simply make those polices disappear. See how easy that is?

No policy problem.

There never was a policy book, was there Winston? 
3) When I become Prime Minister there will be no more mice! 

Vote for the cat everyone:
A new candidate is sticking his whiskers into the political ring, with the hope of becoming Canada’s next prime minister.
Earl Grey, the leader of the Tuxedo Party of Canada, is a cat, but that’s not stopping him from running for office.
This might interfere with Tommy Douglas' Mouseland however!

4) You are kidding right?

So if you are a Liberal cynic and hypocrite, who do you haul out of the crypt to promote your newly minted anti-austerity platform? Paul Martin of course!
Makes sense to me.

5) He came to me as a vision...a vision that appeared in my Earth Origins Organic Spread. look...I know this is not Canadian politics. But it is DONALD TRUMP appearing as a vision in Missouri in someone's Earth Origins Organic Spread, people! Enough said.

Thus ends our fourth look at the Grand Farce. See you next week!

Got any suggestions for next week's round-up...send them to or post them to our Facebook page

See also: Lying pieces of shit and other follies from week three of the 2015 election -- A Left Chapter round-up

See also: Near, far, wherever you are, the Canadian economy does go on...and other follies from week two of the 2015 election -- A Left Chapter round-up

The NDP and budget deficits: Not the Tommy Douglas vision

By Fraser Needham

The 2015 Canadian federal election took another strange turn this week.

NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair committed that his first budget as prime minister would be a balanced one. This seems somewhat strange as Canada appears to be headed into a recession and if the current Conservative government has struggled to maintain services in recent years without running deficits, in what have been stronger economic times, the only way a new government could balance the budget in a weaker economy would be through substantial cuts. The minor revenues gained by an NDP government canceling income splitting for high-income earners and a modest corporate tax increase would not be enough to maintain current spending levels in an economic downturn, let alone meet other campaign commitments such as a national childcare plan.

For their part, Justin Trudeau and the Liberals have committed to a modest plan of running $10 billion deficits for three years before balancing the budget in 2019-2020. Deficit spending would be used to address the infrastructure deficit and create jobs and economic stimulus. The Liberals quite rightly point out that with interest rates being at historic lows, now is a particularly good time for a government to borrow as a means of stabilizing a slumping economy.

With the NDP committed to balancing the next budget, regardless of the consequences, and the Liberals open to running deficits, a number of media analysts have accurately characterized the Mulcair NDP of trying to outflank the Liberals on the right. However, “not so” scream a number of diehard NDP supporters. Balanced budgets are not a right wing mantra and have long been in the tradition of the CCF/NDP governments, they contend. As examples, they cite the Saskatchewan CCF/NDP governments of Tommy Douglas and Allan Blakeney who governed under successive balanced budgets.

To put it politely, this is a highly creative and selective version of the truth. Here are the facts.

When Tommy Douglas and the CCF were first elected in 1944, it was on the heels of a number of Liberal deficit budgets. However, it is not surprising the Liberals were running deficits after Saskatchewan had been one of the provinces worst hit by the Great Depression followed by a wartime economy. In fact, it was the inability of the Liberals to use government as a positive force to prevent farm foreclosures and maintain grain prices that marked the end of 34 years of Liberal rule and the beginning of the CCF era.

The post-war CCFers were committed Keynesians. This means they believed government could be used as a positive force to stabilize the economy. Thus, in good economic times government should save surplus revenues and in bad times a government may need to run a deficit in order to stimulate the economy. Budgets need not be balanced every year but over a period of years according to the economic cycle.

Therefore, the Saskatchewan CCF came to power promising increased social programs for all people, greater economic stability and a more progressive tax system. Part of bringing greater stability to the economy meant a commitment to nationalization of parts of the economy including auto insurance, electricity and some resource industries. Nationalization of electricity and auto insurance not only allowed the government to provide affordable levels of service to all people in a small and largely rural province, it also allowed the government to take in revenues that could be used to pay for other social programs.

So, the CCF governments of Tommy Douglas and Woodrow Lloyd were good fiscal managers but they also benefited from the post-war boom of the late 1940’s and 1950’s as well as increased revenues from progressive taxation and nationalization. As such, they were able to balance every single budget from 1944 to 1964.

Saskatchewan did not see deficits again until the late 1960’s and early 1970’s under the Ross Thatcher Liberals. The deficits were not so much due to Liberal mismanagement but more the result of a downturn in the farm economy coupled with a reduction in production by American-owned potash companies to maintain prices.

Allan Blakeney and the NDP were elected in 1971 on a platform of bringing greater stabilization to the economy through further nationalization of resource industries. After the newly elected government was unable to reach an agreement with the potash industry in terms of production levels, they nationalized this industry. They also proceeded to nationalize the uranium, oil and gas industries.

As a result of the massive increase in revenues due to nationalization of these key resource industries, the NDP had more than enough money to balance every single budget from 1971 to 1982 and finance a number of social programs. Further, the government was able to put about $1 billion away in savings.

The point of all of this is to demonstrate that the Mulcair NDP is not similar to the Douglas CCF and Blakeney NDP in any way, shape or form. To try to equate the two is intellectually dishonest. Douglas and Blakeney sought to make transformative changes to the capitalistic economy in order to level the playing field, bring stability to the Saskatchewan economy and finance social programs. Balanced budgets happened to be part of the process but were not the main goal in and of themselves. Neither Douglas nor Blakeney would ever have advocated balancing a budget regardless of the economic circumstances.

Balancing a budget regardless of the economic fallout is a more recent and right wing mantra. It falls into the belief that government should never intervene in the economy and government finances should be operated like an accounting ledger – surpluses should always be spent and deficits never incurred.

The Mulcair NDP is not committing to transforming the capitalist economy at all through either progressive taxation or nationalization. However, without even knowing the true state of government finances or how severe the economic downturn may be, they have committed to balancing the budget. This is completely irresponsible and is only in the legacy of the Mulcair NDP and no one else.

The statement is a vain attempt to appear fiscally responsible to the right wing press and at the same time hope that this same press attacks the Liberals for actually admitting a deficit(s) may be likely. Faced with a cut to services and running a deficit, it is likely an NDP government would choose the latter so why be so dishonest in an election campaign?

It is clear that the NDP wants to cash in on the anti-Harper vote in this campaign as a means of forming government. However, making ridiculous policy statements such as balancing the budget in the midst of a recession only makes anti-Harper voters not take the NDP seriously and look elsewhere. If the NDP wants to replace the Conservatives, it is not just enough to be anti-Harper, they have to be credible.

Fraser Needham is a freelance journalist living in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. He has been working and writing in Saskatchewan for the past 15 years. Aside from the Saskatchewan CCF/NDP, he follows Aboriginal issues and politics closely.

See also: Deficit spending and the very odd week in Canadian social democracy

See also: Mulcair doubles-down on the NDP's right shift by defending Thatcherism

Friday, August 28, 2015

Deficit spending and the very odd week in Canadian social democracy

This has been an interesting week in the history of Canadian social democracy.

After Mulcair decided to double-down on comments he made praising Margaret Thatcher last week, we began this week with NDP advisers musing to Lawrence Martin in Canada's business tribune, the Globe and Mail, about trying to outflank the Harper Tories from the militarist side on defense spending by stating that they may yet be going to propose a whole lot more of it! As Martin relates it:

“You might well imagine,” an adviser to Thomas Mulcair was telling me, “Tom coming out in September and saying Harper has driven down defence spending to one per cent of GDP. We’re going to raise it to 1.2 per cent. We have a military that’s being allowed to rust out and we’re going to fix it.”
Another adviser cautioned the level of support might not be that high – a 20 per cent increase – but significant enough to show Canadians the NDP is by no means soft on defence.
Then, despite the fact that one would imagine that debating women's issues and the polices and ideas that he felt would help to redress the harsh realities of systemic discrimination and oppression that millions of Canadian women face everyday, would be something that the NDP leader would be inclined to do, he continued to insist that he would not participate in what would have been the first leader's debate centered around these issues since 1984 unless Stephen Harper did as well.

In the end this led to the debate being cancelled and reformatted into a non-debate -- becoming instead a series of "interviews" with four of the leaders individually. This meant that, regardless of supposed intent, Harper and Mulcair had managed to avoid debating women's issues with the only woman who leads a federal party, Elizabeth May.

What is rather telling, however, as Yves Engler pointed out in, is who, instead of the groups that were organizing the women's debates, these same leaders were willing to debate each other at the behest of:
While about 50,000 people and 175 organizations supported Up for Debate's call for an election debate focused on women's issues, it won't happen because Stephen Harper refused to participate and NDP leader Tom Mulcair is unwilling to appear if the prime minister is not there to bash. 
But the same politicians have agreed to a September 28 debate on foreign policy sponsored by an organization named after and financed by one of Canada's richest and most right-wing capitalists. 
Through his Aurea Foundation, Peter Munk, the founder of Barrick Gold, established Munk Debates in 2008. Peter's son Anthony Munk, a close friends of Harper's former chief of staff Nigel Wright, is part of the four-person committee overseeing the debate series.
In the wake of this it was further discovered that the NDP had removed the membership's policy resolutions from the party website on the grounds that these policies were not the platform!

Now, of course, this is true. The NDP leadership has demonstrated that they could not really care less about member "policy" resolutions and have done so to such an extent that, as I have noted before, I am not even sure why they bother to hold the policy conventions anymore at all. The Ontario provincial party actually tried to deny the member policies even existed to the media in the lead-up to the last provincial election.

But by actually taking the step of removing them from the party website, after having finally agreed to put them there a couple of years ago, they are literally thumbing their nose at their own base and members during an election campaign. It seems it embarrasses the leadership that they have a membership that still sometimes thinks they are in a left-wing party and passes pesky leftist resolutions on occasion as a result.

Would not want those democratically arrived at polices to fall into the wrong hands!

Finally we come to what is perhaps the most disconcerting development of all -- Mulcair's ironclad promise that he will deliver as his first budget a balanced budget and his attempts to paint Trudeau's short-term deficit spending plan as somehow economically irresponsible in contrast to this -- when it is actually exactly the opposite that is true.

Trudeau has "said he’ll run deficits of up to $10-billion a year for three years in order to allow for a multibillion-dollar increase in spending on infrastructure, raising it from $5.1-billion to $10.2-billion next year" in order to create jobs and help the economy as it appears to be heading into a downturn.

This is, in relative terms, actually a rather good idea and is basic Keynesian-progressive economics that, in any other era, would have hardly been seen as radical or at all out-of-place in a centre-left platform -- terrain the NDP continues to claim is exclusively theirs. It is, of course, perfectly reasonable to question if Trudeau and the Liberals will actually carry through on this given their past history. After having been elected on a very progressive platform in 1993, the Liberals shifted very far to the right in the 1995 budget and, as  Michal Rozworski noted, this was really when "Canada's harsh 'austerity' policies started".

It is, without any doubt, deeply and profoundly cynical and hypocritical for Trudeau to be campaigning, as he has been, on this new platform with Paul Martin given Martin's vicious austerity record as Finance Minister!

Mulcair however, as he has done before, and as when he mocked Bob Rae's entirely correct decision to run deficits as Ontario NDP Premier in the early 90's instead of engaging in the deep cuts that were to come under Mike Harris, has made a great show of maintaining that he will, absolutely, positively, no matter what, balance the books and continues to do this after Trudeau's announcement -- essentially attacking Trudeau on this front from the right.

Mulcair rejected the very idea of even Trudeau's type of mild deficit spending and stated:
“Governing is about priorities and we’ve watched the Conservatives run up eight deficits in a row, the Liberals are now telling us that they want to run several years of deficits,” Mulcair said. “I’m tired of watching governments put that debt on the back of future generations.”
He and his new finance front man, Andrew Thomson, also went on to tell TVO host Steve Paikin that progressive economists like Paul Krugman were "wrong" when they said that "with interest rates at historic lows, it's a perfect time to deficit spend to catch up for decades of under investment in infrastructure." Mulcair cast it as "immoral" to pass along debt to future generations, as if short-term deficit spending of necessity means this -- which it does not.

One might have asked him if passing along decrepit infrastructure and decaying communities was, by contrast, moral?

As the Ottawa Citizen noted "It’s all made for a dizzying U-turn on the Canadian political spectrum".

It is deeply puzzling (or perhaps, given his past praising of Thatcher, it is really not) trying understand Mulcair's fixation on this, other than as a deliberate pandering to Bay St. narratives for what he and his advisers see as necessary to reassure whatever group of voters they think it will reassure. It was, after all, only a few short years ago in 2008 that his predecessor Jack Layton signed a coalition agreement with the Liberals  that was in no small part centered on the need for a vigorous government stimulus spending  package that it was acknowledged would lead to some short-term deficits! In fact, the Layton-Dion plan would undoubtedly have led to deficits as high, and likely higher, than those Harper has run.

As I have noted previously, while it is important for left governments to avoid over-reliance on deficits and borrowing within a capitalist context, promising balanced budgets during a period when the economy is stalling and appears to be about to decline, is both bad for the economy and virtually guarantees some version of austerity. It also capitulates to the false notion that alleged fiscal prudence should be placed ahead of programs and government intervention to create jobs and infrastructure.

Further, as Mulcair has ruled out any personal tax increases on anyone, even the wealthiest Canadians, and as it has become increasingly clear that the planned NDP corporate tax hikes will not be particularly significant nor will they result in a dramatic increase in revenue, it is becoming harder-and harder to see how Mulcair will be able to undertake any serious initiatives or follow through on even the very meager promised ones fully with these entirely self-imposed budgetary and taxation restrictions.

Never mind that he has pledged a quarter-billion dollars to the police and, as indicated above, may be about to announce a large military spending increase within these confines for himself that have been set.

The first casualty has already occurred -- with Mulcair now saying that his promise of last year that he would reverse the Conservative health transfer cuts will likely have to be delayed.

When politicians begin to make retreats on their promises even before being elected, it is not a very good sign.

When the leader of a social democratic party attacks Keynesian and stimulus economics from the right it does not augur well on any front.

See also: Tom Mulcair, Bob Rae and balanced budgets

See also: Mulcair doubles-down on the NDP's right shift by defending Thatcherism

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Robert Carrier's Cookery Cards w. Vitello Tonnato, Saltimbocca all'Alfredo & more -- Vintage Cookbook #TBT

Vintage Cookbook: Robert Carrier's Cookery Cards

Publication Details: Thomas Nelson, 1966

This week's installment has two of may favourite things -- postcards and food!

For a time publishers released sets of "cooking cards" that would have a photo of the dish on one side and the recipe on the reverse. These were usually the size of a standard postcard and we looked at another example before, 1968's Japanese Cooking Cookery Cards with Sushi, Tempura, & more. 

What is terrific about this format is that they were sturdy and easily portable, meaning it was no problem to bring with you to the grocery store so that you could make sure you got everything you needed.

Today we are going to take a look at a set of cards made by famed sixties chef Robert Carrier who wrote award-winning cookbooks that aimed to bring "haute cuisine" to the masses!

These cards feature some excellent recipes that range from the relatively easy to the more gourmet.

This set had twenty cards. In this post we will look at the first ten cards -- you can look forward to a future post with the other ten!

(Click on images to enlarge) 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Let's Go to the Ex -- A Left Chapter look at some of the sights and food of the 2015 CNE!

A yearly trip to Toronto's Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) or "The Ex" is something of a must for many families, my own included. This year's edition kicked off last Friday and runs through to Labour Day.

There is something both nostalgic and wonderfully immediate about its blend of rides, games, shopping and food. It hearkens back to countless county and town fairs, with candy apples, butter sculptures, countless hucksters trying to part you from your money selling gimmicky products of dubious quality, and Midway classics where you are almost compelled to spend money trying to beat obviously nearly impossible contests to win prizes worth far less than what it took to get them!

Today we take a look at some of the sights and, of course, food of the CNE!

One CNE "institution" and favourite is the Canadiana booth with its Bison Burger. This is a great burger, usually made nice and juicy, and the gamey tang of bison meat is always a tasty alternative to the blandness of so many beef burgers.  It is $6 with some curly fries. The booth has been around since 1967 though a couple of years ago they significantly jazzed up their look.

They also do a solid breakfast sandwich until 11 a.m.with egg, back bacon & cheese. I topped mine with some hot peppers and onion.

Another yearly Food Building favourite for me is the Ali's West Indian Roti booth. Ali's is one of the best Caribbean take-out joints in Parkdale (a west-end Toronto neighbourhood). I go as often as I can, and have been going for many years. If you are a visitor to Toronto, or have never gone to Ali`s before, the Ex is a perfect chance to acquaint yourself with their fare.They have the full range of roti and rice & peas options, including vegetarian. I had the Curried Goat with Rice & Peas that includes a side salad and comes in at just over $11.

The goat is always perfectly cooked. If you are a fan of hot sauce, trying their fiery house pepper sauce is a must. You can buy bottles of it at their restaurant (though, sadly, not at the Ex for some reason). They also make excellent Doubles, an inexpensive and delicious street food style snack of curried chick peas in a West Indian flat bread "wrap".

Giant Pickle anyone? Well of course! You can get them at a couple of the schnitzel booths -- usually for $3.

The Columbus. The new swinging ship ride in the kid's ride area.

BBQed turkey leg with some BBQed corn anyone?

The famous freshly made Tiny Tom mini donuts rolling down  the assembly line. 

Check out the San Francesco Italian Sandwich's booth. The Clinton St. perennial favourite (though they now have more locations) has been serving up excellent Italian veal, steak, chicken or eggplant sandwiches since 1954 and are now doing it at the CNE food building.. I had the veal sandwich with jalapeno peppers. It comes, as always, smothered in their flavourful, rich tomato sauce. I got a side order of the spicy olives. It all came in at just under $10.

Looking for honey? This stand in the Farm Building has a huge selection of all types of Ontario honey. They also sell  beeswax candles. One thing to note however, is that they are cash only. 

In the Arts Crafts and Hobbies Pavilion is Carmichael's Smoked Meats where you can get all types of pepperettes -- including unusual ones like those made with bison or kangaroo meat! There are some 6 for $5 batches of various spice levels and, one of the better deals at the Ex, bags of 30 standard pepperettes, either mild or hot, for $10 each. 

Rather speaks for itself!

Looking for Communist and Soviet collectibles, T-shirts and paraphernalia? Believe it or not at this booth in the International Pavilion you can find just that!

Lenin statues and busts.


One of my perennial faves at the food building for breakfast or a snack -- half a Montreal smoked meat sandwich with two "steamie" hot dogs for $6.50 at the Montreal Deli booth. 

The annual international sand sculpting competition is back!

This year has an exhibit dedicated to the history and modern incarnations of Sherlock Holmes

The famous Toronto diner and breakfast joint Fran's has a food building booth now. While I am not a big Fran's fan anymore, the booth has one notably Ex-style outrageous dish...a Thanksgiving Waffle which consists of turkey, gravy and stuffing wrapped in a waffle. Messy and delicious for $12. 

One of the food items with the most buzz this year is the One Love Burger at the Bub's Bad@ss Burgers food building booth. It is a burger served with Monterrey Jack cheese in between a Jamaican beef patty cut in half to serve as the bun. Costs $10 with tax and a "deluxe" version with hickory sticks and a special sauce is available.

Does it work? Well, I have certainly never had a burger quite like it and it was full of flavour. But it is really, really heavy and I think that overall I would have preferred a cheese burger and maybe a patty as a snack later! But still, fun to try. 

Highlight of the day in some ways...the really wild live musical stunt show Rush featuring "athletes from Toronto’s The Monkey Vault Training Movement Centre". It was gravity defying and very exciting. On three times daily it is well-worth checking out.

LaButt's Beer Barrel! LOL!

This is our 2015 EX round-up. Can't wait to go again with the family next week!

See also: A Trip to Whimbrel Point -- One of Toronto's Best (and Least Known) Lake Ontario Nature Gems