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.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Two down, more to come?

I see that the Conservatives have now taken the removal of public funding to political partys of the table …..for now. They are still making noises about forming a coalition as being undemocratic even though Harper proposed just that against the Liberal government in 2004, there is even talk of proroguing parliament which whilst technically allowable, is in my mind even more antidemocratic when done simply to avoid a vote. The other recent change is that they are backing down on the proposal to ban public sector strikes, I have mixed feelings about that one. Whilst I could foresee some very ugly confrontations if it had gone through, I do not necessarily thing that it was such a bad thing.

Public service workers are paid (and in most cases quite well) to serve the public, many of the services whilst not actually designated “essential services” are in fact such that the public have no alternative should those services be not available. By all means have mandatory arbitration or some other “independent” means of settling disputes but stop these public “servants” from holding the taxpayers up for ransom every time their union says they should have MORE. I believe that they, and for that matter ever other union member, and even non union worker has the ultimate weapon in their arsenal that they can use any time they are dissatisfied with their remuneration, benefits or working conditions. QUIT. If you don’t like the job or are not satisfied with any of the above, go find another job and let someone else have a chance at your old one.

But, but, “I might not find as good a paying job if I quit” you cry. EXACTLY! Be satisfied with what you have because there are an ever increasing number of folks looking over you shoulder who would gladly have your job.

Its a wait and see to find out if there is going to be any government "stimulus" to create any new jobs, lets hope they do not forget the non union, small business, and self employed sectors.

Friday, November 28, 2008


Well it looks like the Conservatives are going to get their wish, the one they tried so hard for months to get before having to engineer their own premature election. A vote of non confidence. Long overdue, but unfortunately at a bad time, but better late than never!

The popular vote said we wanted a coalition and even with the Con’s in the leading role, well that’s not going to happen but something just as encouraging just may. What a big step forward it would be to have two or more partys COOPERATING for the good of the country instead of one dictating what is good for the party. Lets be honest, nothing they can do will stop this recession that Harper says is not happening, but every non economic guru citizen knows full well it is even now gathering speed as it rolls down hill. It is at time like this that we need the best ideas from ALL our MP’s and leaders on the table for OPEN discussion and implementation in a speedy and cooperative manner, something that does not seem to be even in Harpers dreams or perhaps nightmares.

Elizabeth Mays said it eloquently in her blog today ….
“It has been observed by many political pundits that Stephen Harper runs a non-stop electioneering machine. The priority is always gaining power. The fact that the country is in a recession and needs a responsible government to put national interest ahead of partisan interest is not on his radar. For years, Stephen Harper and his friend Tom Flanagan have had the goal of bankrupting the Liberal Party. That's why they wasted $300 million on a snap election no one wanted last month. The goal of complete annihilation of the Liberals is all consuming. If ignoring the economy and trashing a fair electoral voting system are collateral damage, so be it.”

As so many in the blogesphere have said today, its time to stop playing polotics and get on with running the country, something the Conservitives seem to be incapable of doing. We can but hope that a coalition should it come to fruition, will put the poloticing aside and get on with it. And there is the rub, will that indeed happen?

Its going to be an interesting week, hang on to your hats folks!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Democracy under attack ......... again.

This piece was first written and published (via various blogs) in Nov 2007, updated in Sept 08 and again in Nov 08. It is just as valid today, perhaps more so! The attack upon democracy continues………

When the Conservatives, New Conservatives, or whatever they now call themselves were elected to a minority government just 20 months ago I said to myself “OK so the other bunch gets a kick at the can”. Little will change, life still goes on, promises will be broken, parliament will continue in its usual rowdy rather dysfunctional fashion, some of the proposals will be different but our MPs will debate and vote upon them in the usual fashion. I was wrong!

We each can agree or disagree with the particular direction which the government wants to take us, to continue in Afghanistan or not, to support NAFTA / SPP or not, to protect Canadian resources and industries from foreign “investment” or not and so on and so on.
It is to debate these things and decide upon a reasonable course that we have our parliamentary system with its committees and debate and ability to propose amendments. Well we did have, no longer it would seem! I believe that the individual proposals from this government , whilst important, pale in comparison to what they are doing to our democratic processes, their total disregard for not only the opposition but for those in their own caucus who express an opposing opinion.

Having always, until recently, been rather uninterested in the day to day bickering between the various partys, my first inkling of something wrong was the refusal of our New Leader to meet with the press on an informal basis. I had heard about the appointment of non elected individuals to cabinet and the MP elected as a Liberal also joining the Conservative cabinet within a few days of the election and these things added to my concern to the point where I started sitting up and taking more notice.

This then is not about Conservative policies in regard to the direction they are taking us but more about the manner in which they are doing it. I have no real means of knowing if these methods are supported by the majority of Conservative MPs because few, if any have spoken out on the issue. I suspect that it is more a directive from the PMO with the knowledge and support of the few in cabinet and inner circle who have the ear of the PM. In order to illustrate my concerns for our democratic process I will list just some of the things that have come to my attention that show that this government has little regard for said system and is in fact knowingly destroying or subverting the normal checks and balances that customarily separate our system from that of an Oligarchy.

Here is my partial list of this governments anti democratic actions:-

1) Appointed Michael Fortier as Minister of Public Works rather that an elected MP.

2) Encouraged and enabled reelected Liberal Minister, David Emerson to cross the floor and move directly into a key position in the Conservative cabinet.

3) Refusal to talk with the press except in rare, highly controlled and predetermined, government dictated press conferences.

4) Dictating to elected MPs what they can and cannot say to the electorate and to the press. (All partys try and control the message to some extent but this one has gone way beyond the norm)

5) The summary removal from the party of any MPs who do speak out against a particular party policy. (Garth Turner, Bill Casey)

6) Dictating to the local party organizations who they can and cannot propose as their candidate for election. (as above, Mark Warner and others)

7) Actively disrupting the free and open debate of amendments in parliamentary committees by directing the appointed Conservative chairs to obstruct unfavorable comment and testimony.

8) Producing and distributing to said chairs a 200 plus page document to assist them in this disruption. (witness the committee debate on SPP)

9) Deciding to prorogue parliament rather than just the normal summer recess thus unnecessarily effectively killing any pieces of legislation already in progress.

10) Upon return dictating / threatening that ANY legislation proposed by the government shall be a matter of confidence and that NO opposition amendments will be considered.

11) The PMs threat to the Senate that there would be “consequences” if they stalled his big crime bill., (before it has even been voted upon by the MPs). He has also said several times that abolishing the Senate would be an option if it cannot be reformed.

12) Your choice, the list expands with each day this government feels it has “The Right to Govern” without regard to democratic process.

Addendum Sept 2008, little has changed, just more of the same, here are a few of the more obvious and more recent attacks upon our Parliamentary Democracy.

13) Requiring all government departments and diplomats to get prior approval of the text of any and all public statements or releases from the PMO before speaking to the press or public.

14) Firing the Chair of an arms length Commission, without due process, for doing her job, namely ensuring that nuclear safety protocols were followed to the letter.

15) Attempting to break the rules on election spending by “laundering” the money through local candidates bank accounts and then calling into doubt Elections Canada’s integrity when caught. Refusing to cooperate with a duly formed House of Commons Committee formed to investigate such claims.

16) Abusing the House of Commons rules on publicly funded printing and mail outs by exceeding the allowable 10% monthly volume and including partisan election type commentary in said flyers. (Some household have received as many as five in one month)

17) Sponsoring a series of election style advertisements attacking the integrity of a sitting member of the House of Commons (Mr Dion) outside of an election call. (this breaks no rules but is most certainly an anti democratic action)

18) And finally, ignoring his own legislation setting a fixed election date by calling this election for political gain and trying to lay blame upon the opposition partys for doing their job (opposing).

Update Nov 2008

19) Having fooled about 35% of the voters into electing them the Harpoons now propose to discontinue the public funding of political parties, brought in to minimize the impact of large corporate and union “donations” upon funding constraints. At less than $2 per voter it is hardly an onerous burden upon the taxpayer, the 50% to 75% tax rebate for such donations is NOT however subject to cancellation.

20) Calling the oppositions consideration of forming a coalition government "antidomocratic" a statement that in its self is antidemocratic, many governments across the world are in fact coalitions and there is precident within Canada for such.

-The presence of institutions and procedures through which citizens can express preferences about policies and leaders; existence of institutionalized constraints on the power of the executive; and the guarantee of civil liberties to all citizens.

-A form of government where political power effectively rests with a small, elite segment of society

I will let you decide which description is the closest to the form of government we have experienced of late. I think my view is quite clear. If anyone can explain how any of the above actions enhance our democracy or increase the “openness and accountability” of our government as promised during the 2006 campaign I would really like to hear the explanation!

(This article is an original piece by “Rural” and may be distributed in whole or in part for the purpose of highlighting the necessity of parliamentary reform and increased vigilance upon our political partys and their leaders. He is a Canadian citizen who believes we must actively protect our country, our sovereignty and our democratic process from those who would steal it from us, whether by public apathy, stealth, purchase or outright manipulation. He is not associated with any political party.)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

MORE, they get more!

The Ontario Elementary School Teachers Union NOW says their failure to renew their contract is due to the High School system getting more funding per pupil than the elementary system. Well DUH! I would bloody well hope so, the elementary schools do not need computer labs, wood, metal and auto shops and other specialized courses. The number of subjects taught and the choices available for High School students is, and indeed should be, much broader and more varied than the basics that are the main focus of primary grades.
Just another line of BS from the unions to distract from the 120 million or so they are going to get in wage raises and will not offer back in exchange for student funding.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Who wants MORE?

I recently had a rant in which I asked what is wrong with unionized workers who are currently asking for MORE when many of us are wondering if we are going to get ANY. My ire is now raised even further by this from the Sun Times which is just a small reflection of the situation across Ontario…..

“The Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario is holding meetings today in Owen Sound and Chesley to give an update about contract negotiations with the Bluewater District School Board. The four-year collective agreement for all elementary public school teachers expired on Aug. 31, 2008…………..
"We've had no discussions with the government since last May and we've made it very clear that if Nov. 30 is an ultimatum, we're not going to have those discussions," ………..On the table right now is a 12.5 per cent raise over four years, with additional money for improved working conditions and more positions with lower class sizes. “

Now whilst I think we all agree that the teachers have a challenging job, most of us believe that they are well compensated for their endeavors, there certainly are a lot of “retired” teachers who are either remarkably well preserved or not near as old as the rest of us at retirement! These folk are paid out of the taxpayers pocket and like many other “government” employees who have a pretty secure, above average paying job, are still not satisfied, it seems that every few months some public employees union is asking for more and threatening job action. I for one am getting very tired of it, the private sector has the same problem but there is little I can do about that, but those paid out of the public purse had better look out because I can, and will, be very vocal about how good they have things and how tough it is out here in the “real world”.

One of the things that always gets me regarding these “negotiations” is the way in which things are ignored (by both sides?) until the current contracts have expired or are about to, “no discussions since last May”, 12 % on the table and that’s not good enough, what is wrong with this, especially when the Catholic board has just settled for just that? Any contract I have ever had as a self employed contractor is null and void once the term has ended and if you want to continue with it you had best get your act in gear and get a new one! The other thing is if you have agreed to certain conditions and remuneration for the past 3 years why would you not attempt to take any wage raises totally off the table in return for a simple cost of living raise annually, but then the unions would have little to justify their existence! The answer is quite simply GREED, fed by the unions telling their members that they have an ENTITLEMENT to MORE, a position the union bosses take to maintain their own jobs. Most folks would grab that cost of living option, or for that matter an annual 3% raise, without question, for few of us get any annual raise at all and indeed in these time will be bloody glad to even retain our jobs or our businesses.

I am not picking upon just the teachers here, as with other “closed shop” professions they have little say in the “negotiations” and only get to vote after the union hierarchy have struck a deal. I often wonder how many of the “members” truly support the process but feel pressured to go along with the union position. With the government sending signals that the public sector workers must expect less in future contracts, as indeed they should, I suspect we will see much posturing and disruption from those making a living from “representing” this sector. I know that thing are going to change out here for families and small businesses, it is going to be waste not want not for the next few years, we can but hope that the unions and their members both public sector and corporate sector also get the picture and become part of the solution not part of the problem. It is the greed of “investors”, corporations and their “directors”, unions and the like, assisted by shaky practices the financial sector who have precipitated this mess, but make no mistake it is the little guy that will both take the brunt of it AND be the one to make the sacrifices necessary to get us out of it.

Cross posted at http://shanejolley.com/

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Not a hand out…..or up!

We have recently become aware that a local branch of an international not for profit organization that purports to give “a hand up” has been giving “a hand out” in the form of termination slips to some of their front line workers. To those who have spent any time helping out in their retail operation this should come as no great surprise for it is obvious that something had to give with the recent hiring of yet more “managerial staff”, it seems that they are going to rely even more upon non paid labour to do the actual work! Being one of those places that finds “work” for the welfare for work program and the recent downturn I suspect that there will be little difficulty in getting warm bodys to order around but how much will actually get done is questionable based upon past performance in this regard.

I am reliably informed that a number of folk who have spent a great deal of their time helping out on a volunteer basis have walked away with the feeling that the hand up philosophy does not extend to their own staff but rather that the term dysfunctional would be a better description. This again should not come as a surprise as almost any organization run by a “committee” tends towards that description, but when said committee, or in this case the Board of Directors, rules in a secretive and non communicative manner without personal knowledge of the day to day operation then things are bound to be less than ideal.

Despite being the major supplier of funds to actually run the day to day operations (and pay all those “managers” and front office staff) the retail portion of this organization has always been rather low on the list for those who have the ultimate responsibility for its operation. There seems to be little realization as to what it takes to run the retail portion, little acknowledgement of the efforts put in by longtime staff and volunteers, and little effort put in to improve the way in which things are done. Whether this is due to a lack of expertise at the mid management level, to “too many chiefs and not enough Indians”, or to a lack of understanding of the issues at the board level is debatable, but either way on the army base just up the road they will have a word for it.

In army lingo it’s a total CF!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Jobs, Strikes & Savings.

Having just heard on the news that yet another group of well paid workers with relatively secure jobs has gone on strike for MORE, I feel a rant coming on. What is wrong with these people? Why is it that those who have above average earnings, good benefits and actually have a job are the ones who are constantly looking for MORE. Perhaps because the average Joe simply cannot afford to dispense with a wage cheque for weeks or months, perhaps because Joe is closer to the ever failing pulse of the economy and realizes that simply having a job is a damn good thing and he had best not screw it up, perhaps because those high wage earners simply do not realize that their demands further increase the costs of good and services provided!

Whatever the reason these greedy, dissatisfied individuals with good paying jobs, particularly secure GOVERNMENT jobs, really piss me off when they keep wanting MORE. These same types are often seen on TV when the plant is closing due to high overhead (wages being a large part of that) crying about loosing their $300,000 house after 20 or 30 years in the plant. My god, what have they been doing with their $40 - $60,000 a year income, pissing it up against the wall? Oh yes, they “invested” it in the stock market or had it in an RRSP that did the same, sorry you idiots I do not feel sorry for you. If you cant afford to loose it DON’T GAMBLE, for that is all the stock market is, a scam perpetrated by a gambling syndicate, if the prime is at say 5% and you are promised 15% where do you think the money is coming from? You are simply gambling that some other sucker will buy in at a higher price than you paid and if they don’t its all gone. Well the party is over and now you must pay the price for your years of “high returns”!

The same holds true of the “corporations” who have posted millions in profits in recent years but now in the first 3 months of a downturn are crying about losses and calling for public money to bail them out whilst still paying obscene salaries and bonuses to their executives. Any bailouts using public money MUST have guarantees involving long term commitments and total repayment of loans even when or if a bankruptcy occurs. In other words a lien on equipment, land or buildings the same as if borrowing money from an investor or bank. There are thousands of little guys who could use a leg up to expand or keep their small business but they rarely are able to get ANY help, too small says the government and yet it is these businesses that create many of the NEW jobs. As for those “sports stars” making millions, well ……………..

Those employed in the transportation services in the big cities going on strike for MORE are particularly galling, the thousands of people that rely upon public transportation to get to work are effectively put in a position where they cannot fulfill their obligations because they cannot get there! That such services are not ALL declared an essential service is totally beyond belief. It all comes down to this, the unions have far to much power with to little responsibility, they “advise” (read pressure) their members into asking for MORE and MORE mostly to justify own their existence. Whilst it is true that before the days of labour laws and minimum wage legislation they were indeed needed, in todays world it is much less true. It is true that it is difficult to “negotiate” as an individual with these large, perhaps multinational corporations, and that a group must have a “spokesman” to speak for the group, unions have gone far beyond that. I always wonder what the reaction would be if the same unions that are constantly saying that their members they are being cheated out of wages or benefits would do if the employer said “OK, then you manage the company, its all yours”. We have seen in the past that when unions are the employer dealing with unionized employers of their own, thing are not quite as clear cut as they would have their member believe!

It is clear that those who spend years learning their trade, have a particularly high responsibility or other special skills should receive somewhat higher compensation for their labours, however all too many high paying jobs “protected” by labour agreements do not fall under that envelope and the average Joe could learn to do the job in a few hours or at most a few weeks. That some of these “assembly line” or “unskilled” workers receive more than say our nurses, or the local tradesman that has years of training, is an indication of the imbalance in our economy. I suspect that the next few years with see a major shake up in this regard, I just hope it narrows the gap between those who have lots but want MORE and those that would like ENOUGH or even just SOME!

There, now I feel much better!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Is 100% Renewable Power achievable?

A little while ago I was made aware of the report “Ontario’s Green Future” by Ontario Clean Air Alliance Research Inc which makes the dubious claim that “Ontario can obtain virtually 100% of its grid-supplied electricity from renewable sources by 2027.”.

It is unfortunate that this small phrase in the report is the one that has been picked up and promoted, for it is not strictly true. Whilst the report is mostly a critique of OPA and more particularly their plans for the use of Nuclear power over the next few decades it does make some valid points about the use of micro generation to decrease our reliance upon centralized power. To enable them to make the above claim they do not consider CHP (usually gas fired combined heat and power units) to be “grid supplied” power even though these units would be normally grid CONNECTED.

This small but significant detail gives a wrong impression about an otherwise quite useful document. It does go on at great length slamming the OPA and nuclear energy, particularly the costing of said power some of which may have some validity but the real important stuff may have got lost in the rhetoric. I will try and itemize some of the good stuff and explain why it should be given more consideration.

1) “In distributed systems, the emphasis is on meeting electricity needs in the most efficient and lowest cost manner possible. Many smaller generation sources located near centres of electricity demand are used instead of a handful of large power stations. The result is a system that wastes much less energy during generation, transmission and use, and that thereby reduces costs and polluting emissions.”

This is very true, the line losses for transmitting hydro over long distances is considerable and generating our power locally makes sense even if not “green” power. In order to have sufficient flexibility in the system to allow for maintenance, sudden peaks in load and efficient use of the various outputs these units must SHARE both their load and their output and thus must be GRID CONNECTED.

2)” Pay electricity consumers to install small-scale combined heat and power and tri-generation (heating, cooling and electricity) plants in their apartments, condominiums, shopping and recreation centers, hospitals, office buildings and factories. Once again, the more electricity that consumers self-generate, the lower the demand for grid-supplied electricity and the easier it will be to meet 100% of our demand for grid-supplied electricity from renewable sources”

As I said above the CHP concept is a good one and if we can use the same equipment to generate building heating and some or all of the hydro requirements for that building simultaneously then it is a win win situation. BUT please note that very few of these units will be run on “renewable” or “green” sources of energy. The majority would be gas fired, infinitely better than coal and some will say better than nuclear but still not renewable OR green! I am not sure that we have to PAY users (particularly commercial owners) to install these units but certainly there should be incentives such as interest free loans and payment for excess power fed back into the grid.

3)” Aggressively procure renewable electricity supplies from individuals, cooperatives, First Nations communities, local electric utilities, private sector developers and the Province of Quebec.”

We must indeed look at all potential sources of power and importing hydroelectric power from Quebec is far preferable to coal fired power from Ohio. How much of that can be “renewable” power is debatable but potential for hydro electric (and wind) is considerable If we can get the hydro from the source to the major users (or move the major users to the source?) without major line losses due to distance.
The report says “To fully exploit Ontario’s vast renewable potential, we need to build a smart, integrated power grid that can quickly balance multiple power sources with rising
and falling demand.” The grid, particularly the east west grid must indeed be upgraded to accommodate new sources but we have recently seen the amount of resistance generated from transmission line upgrades from Bruce nuclear and the Sunset coast wind farms.

4)” Ontario’s total wind and biomass renewable electricity potential is over 1,800 billion kWh. Therefore, Ontario could meet 100% of its electricity needs from renewable sources by harnessing an additional 5.5% of its wind and biomass renewable electricity potential.”

Ah yes the “wind is the total answer” argument! There are several misconceptions than some folks seem to be unable to see past in regard to wind power not the least of all that the “potential” is not equal to the PRACTICAL potential. The second common mistake made in calculating the potential output of a wind farm is the recognition that a typical wind generator produces somewhere about 30% of its capacity over a given period of time (due to wind variations) but then saying therefore 3 turbines will produce 90% of our requirements. Not if they are all windless at the same time! Even large wind farms many miles apart have the “potential” (there is that word again) to ALL be stationary or producing minimal power if a big high settles over Ontario for a few days. What then?

The report also notes that only about 5% of the “potential” exists in the “south” of Ontario (where the power is needed) the rest being in the “north”. No doubt wind should be a PART of the mix but let us not ignore the potential problems in our rush to go green.

Regarding biomass hydro production one local council is actively pursuing this as a better way to dispose of biosolids and septage but is having little luck with getting ANY other level of government to assist with the upfront costs of installing such a system. A special tip o the hat the Chatsworh Township for continuing to pursue this option. Several large farms in Canada are now running their entire operation on hydro produced from animal “waste”, there is indeed lots of “potential” for farm livestock operations to add to the supply in this manner.

5) “ 64 potential offshore wind power sites in the Great Lakes have been identified, these sites could support 34,500 MW of wind power capacity”
The same arguments apply to this “potential” however in my view although more expensive to build both the towers and the infrastructure, this would have a great deal less impact upon the population of rural residents who must suffer this intrusion upon their scenic countryside, not to mention the increasing evidence that living close to one of these installations may have upon the health of some individuals. Certainly Great Britain has the majority of their wind generation “off shore”, the shallow waters off to our west would be well suited for this, it would however change those Sunset Views so strongly promoted!

6) “[we] estimated a potential for clean local power of 11,400 megawatts [MW], of which 3,000 MW would be produced without added fossil fuel by recycling wasted energy from industrial activities such as steel mills, chemical plants, refineries, carbon black production, gas compressor stations and steam pressure drop.”

Indeed the “potential” for generating power from “waste” industrial heat or other energy sources may well be higher than that and whilst it does not necessarily reduce our use of fossil fuels it may well make better use of those we are using. In so far as industrial use of energy perhaps we should move large energy using industries OUT of the highly populated, but low energy source areas of southern Ontario, to places further north where hydro electric energy could supply these large amounts of power thus leaving more available for those remaining. True this may require some residents to also move north out of the big cities but is that necessarily a bad thing, there is more to Ontario than the Golden Triangle after all. Who knows away from Toronto or Hamilton they may even be able to afford to build an energy efficient residence!

7) Apart from mentioning that the OPA has a goal of 50 billion kWh from hydro electric the report does not even touch upon this far superior form of renewable energy, the potential for micogeneration from hydro electric is substantial. Before this can take place however there needs to be a change in policy from the MOE and other government departments with jurisdiction over our rivers and streams. As things sit now it is impossible for an individual to get a permit to dam a stream in order to install a small generator, in fact the ministry is actively pursuing the REMOVAL of existing private dams with that potential. Whilst we must recognize that there may be some impact upon fish habitat by such projects, it must also be recognized that ANY project will impact the natural surroundings in some manner and a REASONABLE balance must be found. Our local streams and waterfalls could provide a good source of microgeneration 24 hrs a day 7 days a week.

8) This report does not say much about energy use reduction through personal, community or corporate energy efficiency, or changes in the way we do things, other that the reference to GDP as mentioned above. I think almost all of us are in agreement that we as a society are wasteful of hydro and need to reduce that waste. Each of us can do a little individually but as I have said before it is the corporate sector that can really make a huge difference. Buying an energy efficient fridge would, whilst a great move, be a expensive but miniscule contribution compared with say turning off one row of lights in your local grocery or department store. (note that the building and labour codes probably dictate minimum levels of lighting for such operations, perhaps we need to revisit such regulations with conservation in mind.) Take a look at all the outdoor commercial signs, many of them on all night, next time you drive into town, as for the mega stores and enormous indoor shopping malls heating and lighting loads, well……………..!

Finally just a few words about this from the report:-
“As a result of Ontario’s historic failure to promote energy efficiency, our electricity productivity (Gross Domestic Product or GDP per kWh) is much lower than those of North America’s leading knowledge-based economies.”

What the H… does our monetary GDP have to do with the efficiency of the electrical supply? This is a total red herring in my view, our climate, the fact that we manufacture stuff rather than “trade” knowledge, the type of products made etc have an enormous impact upon this. If you want to compare hydro “efficency”, use per population in similar areas of climate and production than you may have a case. I DO believe we are indeed wasteful in our use of electricity but kWh against GDP is not the way to measure it!

In short we have the “potential” to do many things but we must be careful to separate what is potentially achievable from what is practically achievable, over stating the possible or misleading statements about the “potential” does not help the cause.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Bureaucratic Bullshit.

In these days of frugality and energy saving each of us should try and do thing to be “sustainable” which in most cases will automatically reduce expenses. As a small landowner with 15 acres of reforested white pine that needs the larger trees removed to facilitate regrowth as proposed in our Managed Forest plan I want to make good use of this wood.

Frankly I would like to sell some pine logs to provide a little income however the amount one would receive for a full load of pine logs is so miniscule as to barely pay for the time, effort and fuel needed to remove it. A better option is to bring in a portable saw mill and cut it into lumber on site and either sell it, or use this it for building garden sheds, lawn furniture or other similar projects. Having use large quantities to finish my house in board and batten siding I now would like to put up a garage / workshop to have room to assemble such projects in the winter months. Naturally I would like to use my own wood to do so, mostly to save money but also with energy savings in the back of my mind.

In Ontario, and so far as I know elsewhere in Canada if you are a “farmer” i.e zoned agricultural, you can obtain a building permit to put up anything from a small shed to a major equipment storage barn using “ungraded” lumber for the structure, in other words lumber cut and sawn on site from your own trees may be used (as it should be). However for those of us with smaller bush lots on our residential properties we MUST use “graded” lumber in order to get a permit. Now please understand we are NOT talking about a residence here but just a simple shed / garage being built by the owner. Whats with this? My neighbour on the farm can erect the self same shed that I wish to construct using his own lumber (or for that matter MY lumber) and it is deemed perfectly acceptable, whilst on my property it is not?

Surely if its safe on the farm, its safe a mile away on a residential property, if the inspector can approve and examine the former and pass it then he can do the same for the latter. What difference does it make WHERE the building is constructed in determining as to what materials are acceptable and what are not. I will not even get into at any length the quality of that “graded” lumber I would have to purchase at the store, or the fact that my lumber would be FULL 2 x 4 or 2 x 10 or whatever and not 1.5 x 3.5. I will only briefly mention the energy wasted in trucking that lumber from the bush to a distant mill and then probably half way across the country to my local lumber store. I will say little about the employee “grading” the lumber at the mill blindly stamping anything that is not totally and obviously a load of crap. I just cannot understand why my superior lumber is unacceptable for a project on my own property and built by myself with specifications exceeding that required for a barn on agricultural property (or for that mater on a residential property)

Once again bureaucratic red tape and blindly following the “rules” set out by “governments” screws the little guy trying to save both a buck and the environment.