A longtime rural resident, I use my 60 plus years of life learning to opinionate here and elsewhere on the “interweb” on everything from politics to environmental issues. A believer in reasonable discourse rather than unhelpful attacks I try to give positive input to the blogesphere, so feel free to comment upon rural issues or anything else posted here. But don’t be surprised if you comments get zapped if you are not polite in your replys.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Sunny out...the future not so much!

Its been a while since I wrote anything on this my personal blog having been busy assembling a series of articles detailing the demise of our democracy under the Harper Regime for my Democracy Under Fire blog. Needless to say this is a very depressing undertaking and the almost unrelenting snow and lack of sunlight in recent weeks has not helped so its a real lift to have several bright sunny days this week to brighten my mood.


Following Canadian politics is in itself a depressing undertaking and I very much understand why so many folks are turned off by it and are not up on what our 'leaders' (and I use that term very loosely) are up to, other that the few snippets we see on the nightly news. Having been writing about our democracy deficit for more than 5 years now I can only say that if you care about Canada then you had best start taking notice over the next few months, for the rhetoric emerging from most of the political parties is going to get hard to ignore. That much of it will be total BS and just be a vehicle to try and 'buy' you votes should be a given, not the least of which is the latest assertion by the Cons that there will be a budget surplus at election time.


Regular readers will know that I am a Green supporter, mostly for my admiration of Ms May's ongoing efforts to protect and enhance our parliamentary democracy, but also in that I can find little in their published Vision that I can find serious disagreement with. Unfortunately the best that can be expected for the Greens is a few more seats in the HoC with perhaps the balance of power in a minority government, both of which outcomes would be a good thing IMHO. Locally there is little chance that they will have any meaningful impact other than possibly splitting the vote, this outcome is further supported by the announcement of the resignation of the local EDA president. According to the election results both federal and provincial Green support in Grey Bruce has been steadily declining since the high achieved in the 2008 federal election where they received some 13,000 votes and came in a strong 2nd. In the last federal election some 5000 folks voted Green here but getting any of them to actually directly support the local EDA, stand for office, become or seek a candidate, or otherwise become directly involved is like trying to get blood from a stone.


Whilst it may not be popular amongst my fellow Greens and given that the Cons have such a strangle hold on this riding I am going to advocate for not running a Green candidate here in the Oct election but encourage citizens to vote for the candidate most likely to defeat the Conservative candidate. Local Greens should be encouraged to support the national campaign and those green candidates in other ridings where getting elected is a real possibility. (I note here that we are supposed to assess for the candidate on his individual strengths or weaknesses however such things have become meaningless under the top down governance and strict adherence to party lines required by the current regime.) This is the strategy advocated by Lead Now who are compiling a list of those riding where such strategic voting may have an impact. I doubt whether GBOS will be on that list given that in the last federal election the Conservatives in this area received more votes than all other partys combined, mind you with 27,000 not bothering to vote anything is possible if folks take a greater interest in our future.


When I started writing this I was trying to be positive and find some optimism, guess that didn’t work, now I’m depressed again ..... time to go out and let that sunlight do its work despite the cold!


Sunday, December 28, 2014

Longer Days, Brighter Nights

Most of us know that after the Winter Solstice on December 21st the days gradually get longer and sunset becomes a little later each day, but how many of you knew that only now does the sun start to RISE earlier. If we look at the sun rise and sun set tables we will see that over the next week sunset time go from 4.48 pm to 4.43 pm but sunrise time are stuck at 7.51 !!


This is apparently due to the earths 'wobble' but irregardless of the cause its good to know that shortly the sun WILL be rising a little earlier and we are on the way to spring. Unfortunately before the sun warms us up enough to make us get the gardening itch and look for spring buds we have a few months of Canadian winter to deal with.


Here's wishing for an 'open' winter and an early spring, may 2015 be a 'sunny' year, in every sense of the word, for you and indeed for Canada and all Canadians.


Friday, December 12, 2014

Vets “Permitted” to give Rabies Shots.

According to an article in the Ontario Farmer the Collage of Veterinarians or Ontario (CVO) now PERMITS Vets to administer Rabies shots to dogs that are not '”regular clients”. Those of us who own dogs and are out in the country where rabies can be more of a problem know that the longstanding annual rabies clinics, whereby owners could have their dogs vaccinated quickly and inexpensively, have been discontinued a few years ago apparently due to the Vets or the CVO 'regulations. The article says that the vets were permitted to administer such shots at a clinic at a fire hall or “non accredited facility” but until now not at their own practice unless the dog was “a regular client” (this despite it being common practice for years).
Sounds totally bizarre to me, but now they are “permitted” to do so, whether or not this will mean the reinstatement of those regular rabies clinics which so may dog owners, who would otherwise not not bother, took their dogs to remains unclear.

Nor it is clear if those 'non regulars' will be charged for a full examination or will be able to just get their animal given the shot at nominal cost (it used to be $20 or $25) or the $150 or so that almost any Vet charges for a typical visit. I note also that the “rabies program” was downloaded from the Feds to the Province about 18 months ago but despite it being legislated that “all cats and dogs must be vaccinated against rabies by age 3 months” neither level of government (or the CVO) seems much interest in providing an inexpensive way in which to encourage owners to get this done.

I do hope that this change in the “rules” will mean that next year ALL veterinary operations (both small and large animal) will participate in a 'rabies clinic day' where owners can get this important public health program carried out at reasonable cost.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

An Economic Fable

Once upon a time there was a family who lived in a large mansion with many rooms and a huge mortgage. The father made all the decisions as to the upkeep of the house and the health and welfare of the family members who were all expected to contribute towards the funds needed for all to live in the house. Although in the past the contribution from the family members exceeded the expenses and resulted in having some savings in the bank no payments on the mortgage were made and the bank account was raided for foolish spending. Unfortunately over the next few years many of the family lost their jobs or were reduced to working part time and were unable to pay their full share, this resulted in the father saying that he must cut down on the maintenance of the house and everybody would have to have smaller lunches to save money. Everyone except himself and his favourite cousins that is.


When the gardener said that the manure run off was getting into the well he was fired, when the cook said that she needed to know how many folks there were in each room in order to distribute the food fairly she was told 'you dont need to know that', when the cleaners tried to tell the residents about the toxic chemicals being used they were told shut up or be fired. If fact all the workers were told to not talk to the residents and that all information about the household must be approved by father and those who failed to do that would be kicked out in the cold. This was particularly true of anyone who questioned his 'economic plan' which was never really fully explained to the family.


When the family started complaining of the cuts that were resulting in the deterioration of the house and less food on the table he spent even more money installing TVs in every room with a steady stream of self congratulatory programs tell all how good he was at running the house and they should not worry and be happy. As the complaints started mounting up he cleverly 'saved' more money by refusing to pay for work already scheduled and reducing payments to the doctors from up the street who looked after various family members and thus eventually he was able to say to the residents 'I think we will have more cash coming in that going out next year' (so long as we don’t pay down anything on that massive mortgage). 'I will give those of you who have the best jobs a break on the rent and just so the rest of you don’t get too pissed off if you have kids you are feeding I will give you a few more peas on your plate!


Meanwhile he sent a few of the family on an expensive overseas trip but as the bills for that would not show up for a while did not include that in his budget, and the bill for the new row boats to keep the geese of the pond at the top of the garden would not be due for a few years so that does not count. Nor would the 4 new, expensive to maintain, fancy cars just ordered (shush, don’t tell anyone) matter because by the time the bills come in he figures on eliminating any one who questions his spending habits. With this in mind he did not consider that his sales of manure from the side yard to the west would probably not bring in as much as promised, and some of his sales men were talking of quitting. Nor did he consider that the paint was peeling, the widows were cracked and the wind blowing through cracks in the walls of the house in many places, these things could be ignored from his cozy well maintained apartment in the west wing where he and his favourites lived. And so father lived on in his dream world whilst the family fumed , but for how long we wonder........


That is far from the end of the fable, the family has yet to hear the full story from some of the favourites who have emerged from the west wing battered and torn and muttering “don't ever disagree with father, he's nuts”


Oh and one thing more, daddy’s name is Steve but he prefers to be called Sir Stephen!


Monday, November 10, 2014

Tough Morning

Just returned from taking our faithful visitor greeter,  squirrel chaser, friend and companion, four legged friend on her final trip. Not an easy thing to do but after 12 years of patrolling our 30 acres of bush she will  be wandering no more and her recent inability to do much more than lay on the couch will no longer bother her. RIP Maisie.

Maisie in 2009


Friday, November 7, 2014

Are There .'Opportunities' in Bruce-Grey?

Bayshore News reports that a new study from the Four County Labour Market Planning Board reveals that Grey county has lost about 200 businesses in the last year whilst Bruce county has gained about 260 but that “the biggest driver of jobs in the local economy is self-employment”.

That the job market is basically stagnant in Grey-Bruce and that more and more folks are turning to self employment should hardly be a surprise to those looking for employment. A quick look at the job listings on Kijiji or the Job Bank will show that there are very few decent jobs available in this area and that many of those that are available are part time, temporary or 'agency' jobs. Its no wonder that folks turn to self employment to bring in a few dollars to the family table.
They also say that 'one key going forward is finding ways to keep people in the area, including young people who tend not to see opportunities in the four counties'. Also that 'another key to future job growth is getting high speed broadband internet into the rural areas, something Grey County has been pushing for over the last few years'.

Looking at those job listings we see very little encouragement for youth to remain in our area and not much more for those older folks who were laid off during the 'recession' and are still looking for full time work. If the economy is recovering I see little evidence of it in Grey-Bruce, and whilst better internet connections in the area may entice a few companies to set up here in rural SW Ontario I would not hold your breath waiting for a sudden influx of employment.
So no surprises here, the big question is how do we reverse the trend of jobs and youth heading to the big cities leaving the future of rural Ontario in limbo. Whilst I have great concern in that area I have no answers, I do hope the Four County Labour Market Planning Board or others have some!






Monday, November 3, 2014

More bad news for bees: The new "F" word



Have you heard of flupyradifurone? Probably not, unless you work for
the federal government agency poised to approve this new pesticide for
use in Canada.
But take note: This new "F" word is bad news for bees.

Flupyradifurone is an insect-killing systemic pesticide similar to the
controversial neonicotinoid, or neonic, family of bee-killing
chemicals. When applied to seeds or soil, it's absorbed by plant roots
and travels to leaves, flowers, pollen and nectar, making the plant
potentially toxic to insects.

This past summer, the international Task Force on Systemic
Pesticides<http://go.davidsuzuki.org/O0Y0g4OU00000V470E0N26D> analyzed
800 scientific studies and concluded that systemic pesticides like
neonics are harming bees, butterflies, birds and worms and should be
phased out globally. The European Union banned three
neonics<http://go.davidsuzuki.org/Q0YU06D0V804O002N00F4g0> for "crops
attractive to bees", but the European Environment Agency says that's
just a starting point, and recommends regulators look at similar
pesticides and take into account potential harmful effects on aquatic
invertebrates, birds and other insects. The EEA also found "mounting
scientific evidence has been systematically suppressed for many years
and early warnings were ignored."

Inexplicably, Canada's Pest Management Regulation Agency has yet to
respond to the Task Force findings and now wants to approve a new
systemic pesticide. What's especially troubling is that, in its
description, the PMRA
states<http://go.davidsuzuki.org/u900006D440N0G00YgOVU20>

flupyradifurone "may pose a risk" to bees, birds, worms, spiders,
small mammals and aquatic bugs, and that it doesn't readily break down
in water, air or sunlight and may carry over to the following growing
season. When it enters streams, rivers and wetlands, "it may persist
for a long time."

Like neonics, flupyradifurone is a nerve poison, acutely toxic to bees
if ingested. As in the past, we don't fully understand the cumulative
effects of the increasing amounts of today's insecticides, pesticides,
fungicides and other chemicals being applied to crops across the
country.

Neonicotinoids are showing up more frequently and in higher
concentrations than the harmful chemicals they replaced. A study last
year found 90 per cent of Saskatchewan prairie potholes contained
residual neonics<http://go.davidsuzuki.org/TH0VY0g020006Da0044ONU0> in
the spring, before farmers planted their fields. Research from the
U.S. Midwest found neonics in all 79 samples taken from nine
rivers<http://go.davidsuzuki.org/lYDOI000426g0U0N4000b0V>. Similar
results have been found in wetlands, streams and rivers in the
southwest U.S., Georgia and California.

It's not even clear whether the widespread use of neonic seed
treatments increases agricultural yields. A recent report from the
U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency<http://go.davidsuzuki.org/e006cU00000DVY0O42J4g0N> regarding
soy crop treatments concluded, "these seed treatments provide little
or no overall benefits to soybean production in most situations.
Published data indicate that in most cases there is no difference in
soybean yield when soybean seed was treated with neonicotinoids versus
not receiving any insect control treatment."

The European Environment Agency also found a 2004 ban on neonicotinoid
chemicals by France for sunflower and maize crops hasn't negatively
affected productivity. In fact, yields were higher in 2007 than they'd
been in a decade.

You'd think we'd learn from past experience with persistent and
bioaccumulative pesticides like DDT and
organophosphates<http://go.davidsuzuki.org/F26D400dK0V0g0YO000UN04>,
and the more recent research on neonicotinoids. DDT was widely used
until Rachel Carson's book Silent Spring drew attention to its
negative impacts on ecosystems, wildlife and humans. Many, but not
all, organophosphate pesticides have also been pulled from widespread
use because we learned their neurotoxic effects posed serious risks to
humans and wildlife.

Rather than approving new pesticides that may harm pollinators, birds
and other animals, including humans, we need better ways to protect
crops. A recent report, "Alternatives to neonicotinoid insecticides
for pest control<http://go.davidsuzuki.org/r40e0U0Y0DL460V2g00O0N0>",
published in the journal Environmental Science and Pollution Research,
suggests further research and methods including "diversifying crop
rotations, altering the timing of planting, tillage and irrigation,
using less sensitive crops in infested areas, applying biological
control agents," and other lower-risk alternatives.

We need to stop contaminating the environment with neonics and related
systemic pesticides. Approving flupyradifurone would take us in the
wrong direction. Canada's Pest Management Regulation Agency is
accepting comments on flupyradifurone approval until November 3. You
can submit through the
PMRA<http://go.davidsuzuki.org/q2UV0N064M004Y00D0gf00O> or David
Suzuki Foundation<http://go.davidsuzuki.org/s0gY04206D0N0V0O4g00N0U>
websites.

Putting bees and ecosystem functioning at risk endangers us all. It's
time to find a better way.

As origionaly published on the Homestead Forum