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, November 22, 2012

Elizabeth May: Parliamentarian of the Year.

This week MPs, senators and the media gathered in the Adam Room of the The Fairmont Ch√Ęteau Laurier for the 6th annual Parliamentarians of the Year awards ceremony.Green Leader Elizabeth May was named Parliamentarian of the Year.
In an interview with Aaron Wherry's for article in Macleans she spoke about the state of our Parliamentary Democracy, below is a small extract..



“I love parliamentary democracy. I am fascinated by procedure. I’m beside myself with the way things are slipping.” What follows then is a 524-word dissertation—stretching from the slightest breach of decorum to the profound questions of power at the heart of our system—on the state of parliamentary democracy in Ottawa.
“I know it sounds small, but you’re not supposed to have members of Parliament standing and waiting their turn because they know when they’re going to be called and they have their speech ready and they’ve got the little podium and they’ve got a written speech in front of them and they’re standing while someone else is speaking. No one is supposed to stand except the person that’s been recognized by the Speaker and until you’re recognized by the Speaker you’re not supposed to stand. I know these may seem like small points, but it’s indicative of a failure to recognize that the respect for traditions in the House of Commons may start with things like one person stands at a time and only when recognized by the Speaker. And as soon as the Speaker stands, the person who’s in full oratory flight is supposed to sit down. Those are things that when you ignore that you also can get away with having a prime minister who ignores all parliamentary tradition and prorogues—well, not all, because Sir John A. Macdonald did it once and then paid for it by losing power—but you’re not supposed to prorogue the House of Commons to avoid a political difficulty. So a failure to respect our traditions of Stephen Harper proroguing twice then launched into Dalton McGuinty proroguing. This is very unhealthy for democracy. Because we are a Westminster parliamentary democracy and tradition and if we don’t pay attention and respect Parliament, then we are allowing the Prime Minister’s Office, which doesn’t exist as an entity in our constitution, it’s not like the executive branch and the White House in the U.S. constitution—the notion of a Prime Minister’s Office as an entity in the machinery of government is simply an invention, but it’s like a cancerous growth. And as the Prime Minister’s Office grows, and this is a trend we started with Pierre Trudeau in a much more innocuous way, it’s not reached its apex, but if we don’t do anything to stop it, what else will the next prime minister do? And as the PMO grows into being the all-powerful decision-maker, leaving cabinet ministers, basically their job appears to be the primary public relations spokesperson for an area of policy they had nothing to do with developing, it’s dangerous to health of democracy. So respect for Parliament, to me, is synonymous with respect for democracy. And I respect Parliament and that’s where the work is happening. I respect … there’s very few ministers who actually, actually I can only think of one, who sit though parliamentary debate on their own bills. And that’s, and should I say for credit where credit’s due, Jason Kenney. When his bills are being debated and when I rise to criticize his legislation, he actually knows what I’m talking about and will make a reasoned defence of his own legislation. But for the most part, it’s like a ritualized form of theatre. And that’s dangerous. It’s not just a relic, sort of an anachronism, that we still have parliamentary democracy. That’s the system. And the problem is PMO, not Parliament.”
Read more of this article

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Wind Turbine Health Report

Our own local Medical Officer of Health has been asked to do a health study on the effects of industrial wind turbines upon the predominantly rural residents that have had these part time wind driven generators built in their backyards. I doubt that she has the necessary resources to do a proper study and there has been much reluctance to previously do so by both the wind industry and government. However there is now at least one independent study that has been published that confirms what many of those affected have been saying.
The study — “Effects of industrial wind turbine noise on sleep and health” — assessed two wind farm communities in Maine and whilst limited in scope does conclude that some folks are indeed negatively affected even at a distance of over 1km.

The study concludes “that the noise emissions of IWTs (industrial wind turbines) disturbed the sleep and caused daytime sleepiness and impaired mental health in residents living within 1.4 km of the two IWT installations studied. Industrial wind turbine noise is a further source of environmental noise, with the potential to harm human health. Current regulations seem to be insufficient to adequately protect the human population living close to IWTs. Our research suggests that adverse effects are observed at distances even beyond 1 km. Further research is needed to determine at what distances risks become negligible, as well as to better estimate the portion of the population suffering from adverse effects at a given distance.”

It should be noted that this study only considered noise concerns and did not address other things raised by those living near such 'wind farms'. I for one wonder why there is a moratorium of offshore wind farms that are distant from human habitation and not one on those that continue to spring up all across rural Ontario where the residents and indeed local municipal councils are helpless to stop them.
There may well be a necessity to supplement out power supply this way but until a means of storing the output from such intermittent sources of power and local residents concerns are given more weight I find it very difficult to view this technology in a positive light.

Perhaps this report will give a little more weight to rural residents concerns. Full report 800k PDF