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, December 29, 2013

Jobs, or the lack thereof....

Its been a while since I looked at the situation regarding employment in our area but with my son laid off due to lack of work a very thin listing of positions available on both ?? and other on line resources I thought I would take another look. The Rural Ontario Institute has saved me wading through the government numbers with a recent report which among other things compares the job situation in urban areas verses non urban. It is no surprise to me that we here in Grey Bruce are one of the highest unemployment areas amongst rural areas which are already worse off than the urban areas which are also struggling. All in all its not a pretty picture here in Ontario.

Here in part is what they have found......

Jobs have been declining in non-metro Ontario for 10 consecutive months – from October, 2012 to June, 2013 the non-metro job decline is larger than the 2001 recession and larger than the 2005-2006 recession. The present decline is approaching the depth of the 2009-2010 recession.
In contrast, metro areas continue to grow – the only period over the last decade with metro job decline
was during the 2009-2010 recession, however, not all metro centres are growing. Comparing June, 2013 to June, 2012, jobs have declined in Kingston, Peterborough, Oshawa, Hamilton, KitchenerCambridge Waterloo, Guelph, Greater Sudbury and Thunder Bay.

Two economic regions had a decline of jobs of 6% or more in June, 2013, compared to June, 2012 – Muskoka-Kawarthas and Stratford-Bruce Peninsula (includes Grey Bruce)
Other regions with declines were Kingston-Pembroke, Northeast and a recent decline in Northwest.

Judging from the job listing which were starting to look encouraging during the summer those numbers of jobs available have declined considerably over recent months, given that many jobs in this area tend to be seasonal this is no surprise but I do wonder how many listing there will be in the spring, at the present time unless you are a heath professional or a waitress or store clerk you are SOL!

See their report for charts and figures.

Then our friend Owen over at Northern Reflections draws our attention to this from The Huffington Post

Looking at StatsCan’s latest job numbers, released last week, BMO economist Benjamin Reitzes notes that Canada created fewer than 175,000 net jobs in the year to date (meaning all of 2013 except December).
As Owen points out it's not just about a paucity of jobs. It's about the kind of jobs that are being created:
Even the latest numbers for November look negative when digging into the details. While the jobless rate held steady at 6.9 per cent and Canada registered 22,000 new jobs during the month, 20,000 of those were part-time, notes Erin Weir, an economist for the United Steelworkers.

Broken down another way, 19,000 of the employment increase were people reporting themselves as self-employed,” Weir writes. “Canadian employers actually hired fewer than 3,000 [net] additional employees last month.”
Certainly its looking very bleak in many communities across Canada and more so in Ontario where several major food processing plants have recently announced they are 'consolidating operations' and shutting down their operations. This is particularly troubling because is some instances it has directly impacted the farming community that provided the input for these processing plants. Instead of becoming more self-sufficient and growing and processing our own food and providing jobs for out citizens it seems that things are going the other way, will we soon be shipping all our raw food out of country just to buy it back as processed canned goods. It is no different in the manufacturing industries, we are buying our “stuff” from Japan & China & the U.S., anywhere but 'made in Canada. No wonder there are no jobs, seems like a self defeating circle where we will all soon be totally at the mercy of foreign nations and those 'free' trade agreements.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Mail Box Police Targeting Rural Customers Again

After having spent several years and thousands of dollars forcing rural customers to move their mailboxes due to 'safety issues', many of which have been in use in the same location without a problem for many years it now seems that these mail boxes are now causing 'injury' to postal workers because they may be an inch or two lower than specified or are on an arm designed to swing out of the way when the snowplough swipes it going by! Many rural mail delivery folks have been doing this without a problem for years and years and as contract employees have not been paid anywhere close to the kind of wages and benefits that full time 'employees' have been receiving, even given that they were forced to join the union a few year back they still use their own vehicles for the most part and I suspect that they are poorly paid for this. Its hard for the pubic to tell because as with any union – employer issue it is not considered 'our business' even when we the taxpayer are the employer!

To add insult to injury it seems that adjusting the height of a few mailboxes and purchasing right hand vehicles for all those rural route workers will SAVE $10-$15 MILLION! Say What? Apparently some rural and suburban mail carriers have complained of "ergonomic concerns" related to reaching across their vehicles to deposit mail out their passenger-side windows into rural mailboxes. It seems that some of these poor folks SITTING IN THEIR VEHICLE are complaining of "ergonomic concerns" related to reaching across their vehicles to deposit mail out their passenger-side windows into rural mailboxes. The corporation notes that these "awkward movements" increase risk of repetitive strain injuries and generate additional expense for the corporation due to costs associated with injury on duty.

Seems to me that if reaching across your vehicle holding those heavy letters strains some muscles then perhaps you are looking for an excuse to suck the taxpayers in to pay for a few days off to be paid by you overly generous sick leave benefits. I know full well that this is NOT brought on by the average rural route postal delivery person but by a very small minority of union types who simply want something for nothing. I thank the many who have delivered my rural mail for years without ANY problems and even gone out of their way to deliver that 'special package' right to my door, I appreciate your service and dedication I would suggest that you are doing yourselves no favours by remaining silent about those few 'shit disturbers' who seem to be present in any organized labour collective!

Finally I note that our urban neighbours are now also under attack by the postal 'service' and that 'community mailboxes' are going to become the norm, please don’t think that the rural folks are free of this affliction, many rural routes have been 'converted' to this service reduction, the difference being that our 'block' can be considerably bigger than yours in distance and we have NO sidewalks. I also note that in this discussion of second class citizens that if you live in an apartment of sufficient size the you WILL get delivery to 'your door' (even if it is the one at the bottom of the elevator ride) but the folks who own a house and pay higher taxes are the ones who will be forced to trudge through the snow to get their mail.

The question has to be asked is our 'postal service' an essential government service or an individual 'pay for service'. According to our federal dictators many of such similar services must 'pay for themselves' so that they can waste our tax dollars on promoting themselves and their corporate friends in the Chinese oil industry.
Nuff said, rant OFF!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Justified Destruction

Just in case you thought that the Environmental Review of the Northern Gateway Pipeline proposal means anything.............

Shell Canada’s Jackpine oilsands mine expansion plan has received the go-ahead from Ottawa, despite the environment minister’s view that it’s “likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects.”
In a statement late Friday, environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq concluded that the effects from the 100,000-barrel-per-day expansion are “justified in the circumstances.”...........
The Jackpine expansion would allow Shell to increase its bitumen output by 50 per cent to 300,000 barrels a day..............
A review panel concluded last July that the project was in the public interest but warned that it would result in severe and irreversible damage so great that new protected areas should be created to compensate.
The review concluded that the project would mean the permanent loss of thousands of hectares of wetlands, which would harm migratory birds, caribou and other wildlife and wipe out traditional plants used for generations. It also said Shell’s plans for mitigation are unproven and warned that some impacts would probably approach levels that the environment couldn’t support.
Shell has said Alberta’s new management plan for the oilsands area will provide more concrete data to assess and mitigate environmental impacts. The company has purchased about 730 hectares of former cattle pasture in northwestern Alberta to help compensate for the 8,500 hectares of wetland that would be forever lost.
More on this at The Common Sense Canadian

And just in case you have any further doubts as to the impact scientific research will have upon decisions of this sort...........

Last week the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, which is closing five of its seven libraries, allowed scientists, consultants and members of the public to scavenge through what remained of Eric Marshall Library belonging to the Freshwater Institute at the University of Manitoba.

"It was a world class library with some of the finest environmental science and freshwater book collections in the world. It was certainly the best in Canada, but it's no more," said Burt Ayles, a 68-year-old retired research scientist and former regional director general for freshwaters in central Canada and the Arctic.

"The loss of this library and its impact on fisheries and environmental science is equivalent to Rome destroying the Royal Library of Alexandria in Egypt. It's equal to that," said Ayles. At the time, Alexandria boasted the world's largest collection in the ancient world.

More at The Mound of Sound

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Generating Bullshit

Lets see Ontario’s Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli says the AVERAGE household will pay an extra $12 monthly for electricity next year and that this will bring the monthly bill to $167 from the current $125 for a household using 800 kilowatt hours. He goes on to say that this will be a SAVING of what it could have been under the previous plan and that the AVERAGE annual residential increase over the next 20 years will be 2.8 per cent, down from a projected 3.4 per cent. This according to the Star.
Other reports say
A new Long-Term Energy Plan says the average monthly residential bill of $125 will rise to $178 within five years, a 42% hike. Hydro bills are expected to dip slightly in 2019 to $177 a month, and then rise again until 2022 when they’ll hit $193 a month. A second price decrease is forecast for 2023-24 and then the trend for prices is onward and upward for the foreseeable future. This from the Sun
Then there is CTV who say
Ontario electricity consumers can expect their bills to jump almost 50 per cent in the next three years under the new long-term energy plan unveiled Monday by Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli. However, Chiarelli said the average homeowner will pay about $100 a year less than they would have if the Liberals hadn't (changed their plan)

I don’t know about you but it seems to me that both the minister and the media need both some lesson on disseminating factual material and some math lessons here. I dont know where the press got all their figures from other than from the ministers rather vague and self-serving statement, I did go looking for a press release but did not find such, it could be all tucked away in the PDF of the `plan`but I was not about to wade through all that at this time. Either way this is all a crock of shit!

First of all the term the average household is so totally meaningless that it can only be described as deliberately misleading. Judging from my monthly bill there must be a lot of `householders` who are rarely home and eat out a lot, I know we out here in the boonies have to pump our own water which adds a little to the bill, but we do cook with propane which should balance things out, and it would be really nice to see a bill below about $170. Of course our `cost of electricity is less than half of that but the delivery, other charges and TAX quickly fix that!
Secondly a reduction of the estimated future cost is NOT a saving its simply a POSSIBLE reduced future cost. And my math says that an average rise of 2.8% per year on a bill of $125 would bring it to $128.50 not $167 and over 5 years to $142.50 not $178 so either there is a great deal of creative accounting going on here or hydro prices will drop dramatically around 2020. How gullible do they think we are.
Frankly the press has done a terrible job of reporting this and the facts are seemingly not permitted to interfere with a good story and so without a lot more digging who can really say what the Ontario government is predicting, but one would think that if their plan is so good they would make it more readily available rather than the pages of BS and spin that is currently on the Ministry of Energy’s web site 

So remember when you see your hydro bill increase next year you are saving money as you empty your wallet.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Canada v Philippines

The Philippines appeal to the world at the climate talks in Poland......
"We cannot sit and stay helpless staring at this international climate stalemate. It is now time to take action. We need an emergency climate pathway," said Yeb Sano, head of the government's delegation to the UN climate talks, in an article for the Guardian, in which he challenged climate sceptics to "get off their ivory towers" to see the impacts of climate change firsthand.
Sano, whose family comes from the devastated town of Tacloban where the typhoon Haiyan made landfall on Friday, said that countries such as the Philippines did not have time to wait for an international climate deal, which countries have agreed to reach in Paris in 2015.
"What my country is going through as a result of this extreme climate event is madness," he told delagates from 190 countries, as UN climate negotiations get underway for a fortnight today in Warsaw. "The climate crisis is madness. We can stop this madness. Right here in Warsaw. Typhoons such as Haiyan and its impacts represent a sobering reminder to the international community that we cannot afford to procrastinate on climate action..

And Canada's official position on climate change......
Canada has dropped any remaining pretences of supporting global action on climate change by urging other countries to follow Australia's example in gutting its climate plan.
In a formal statement, the Canadian government said it "applauds" the move by Australia this week to repeal a carbon tax on the country's 300 biggest polluters.
"Canada applauds the decision by prime minister Abbott to introduce legislation to repeal Australia's carbon tax. The Australian prime minister's decision will be noticed around the world and sends an important message," the formal statement from Paul Calandra, parliamentary secretary to Canada's prime minister, Stephen Harper, said.
The Harper government withdrew from the Kyoto protocol on climate change in 2011 and Canada has failed to meet its own international emissions to cut greenhouse gas emissions – almost entirely because of its mining of the carbon-heavy Alberta tar sands.

A pox on the Harpler regime and its anti science pro oil industry stance!

  Canada was awarded a ‘Fossil of Disbelief’ as part of the long-running ‘Fossil of the Day’ awards series at the UN climate talks in Warsaw. The special award was granted for the Canadian government’s recent public support (expressed by the Prime Minister’s Parliamentary Secretary) of a broad move by the Australian government to repeal that country’s comprehensive climate legislation.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

And the bad news is........

A massive audit of federal conservation policies by Neil Maxwell, the commissioner of the environment and sustainable development, paints a picture of mismanagement and neglect when it comes to Canada's natural heritage.

Management plans for some 12.4 million hectares of designated national wildlife area date on average from 1992, says the audit. It found half a dozen wildlife areas and 22 migratory bird sanctuaries that should have been removed from the list because they no longer meet the criteria.
At Canada's national parks, funding for "heritage resources conservation" — effectively the natural beauty of the parks — decreased by 15 per cent last year compared with the preceding six years, "with further reductions planned as part of decisions flowing from the 2012 federal budget."
Staffing for conservation at national parks has declined 23 per cent and scientific staff positions are down by more than a third, says the report — and that was before the latest round of cuts.”

We all know that there is no magic source of funds for such programs and that it all ultimately comes from the taxpayer however it seems that our federal government has no problem finding funds to promote oil pipelines through some of the most unique and vulnerable natural areas in Canada. Seems to me that their priorities are all out of wack! But don’t worry there will be an announcement just before the next election touting some 'new' funding for such programs...........!

Good new for a change!

This week, the Ontario Government made history by becoming the first province in Canada to provide a tax credit for farmers who donate fruits and vegetables to local food banks. Beginning in January 2014, farmers in Ontario will receive a 25 per cent tax credit based on the fair market value of produce that they donate to local food banks and community meal programs.”

This should be a no brainer for all the provinces and indeed even the Feds but please note that it is a tax CREDIT so that small producers who may well be having difficulty in making any great profit will receive minimal benefit for it. Tax credits, be it for donations or medical expenses or whatever, are great for those who's income is such that they pay substantial taxes but does little for those living closer to the subsistence level.

Still every little helps and the food banks certainly need the help for there are still thousands of families in Canada who rely upon them.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Are the Grey-Bruce Greens in Trouble?

Regular readers here will know I am a supporter of the Federal Greens, mostly for their strong stand on protecting and improving our democracy, something on which their Leader Elizabeth May stands head and shoulders above her fellow MP's, but also for their clear and documented stance on a broad range of other issues. I bothers me greatly then when it appears that the local (Grey-Bruce-Owen Sound) Green EDA (Electoral District Association) is once again got one foot on the slippery slope to de-registration due to lack of support and difficulty in retaining an executive core group. This is even more troubling when one considers a little history in the riding and see that just a few years ago both the Green Party of Canada and the Green Party of Ontario in this riding received some of the highest percentage of votes for the Greens from all of Canada.

I dont know if this difficulty is common to all political EDA's , just those in Grey-Bruce or just the local Greens, nor do I know if the number of folks who are members of the GPC is typical, percentage wise, compared with other riding’s or Partys. Of the thousands eligible to vote in this riding only about half bother to do so and of those only a very small percentage voted for the Greens last time around. That number is still in the thousands but insofar as I know only a few hundred are interested enough to be members of the GPC and of those just a small handful are active in maintaining a presence in the riding in the form of a District Association. Herein lays the problem.

Its hard to see what has caused this drop off of support, is it a general discontent with all things political, is it that folks are too busy trying to find and keep a job to be bothered with it, is it that the decision of whether to support the best person, the best party or the best leader has become too much of a catch 22? Perhaps its that many of us have already decided to vote ABC (anybody but conservative) in order to rid ourselves of this corrupt and dictatorial regime and will thus support whichever candidate seem most lightly to defeat the current sitting MP. We all know that the interest falls off between elections and that just a few weeks before the next election is due there will be a resurgence with legions of supporters knocking on doors and trying to get the householder to vote for THEIR party or candidate, the big boys will spend thousands on slick TV ads extolling the virtues of their particular platform and leader. But what of the little guys? The Conservatives have successfully cut of the miniscule amount that all partys got from per vote funding leaving the Greens in particular in a very tough position, it will be up to local EDA's to fund any election expenses be that simply signage, radio or newspaper ads or whatever, Thus local active support will be essential. I do not believe that such support can be effectively mobilized at the last minute, it must be built up over a period of time and this is where the EDA of a political party comes into play.

Whilst most folk think that an EDA is just there to select and support a local candidate I believe that if they are going to be effective they should also strive to keep their political viewpoint in front of of the citizenry between elections. In order to do that they must have an active communications strategy and the members willing to devote the time and energy towards both those things. If left to a small handful of supporters this simply falls by the wayside due to a number of reasons, not the least of which is reduced enthusiasm brought on by lack of support. Also on the list is 'burnout', other commitments, personality conflicts and other such thing as may be found in any volunteer organization. There is little doubt that such things have plagued the GBOS Green EDA in recent times and perhaps more could be done to communicate with supporters to encourage their active involvement, they have tried, their web site has been updated, a facebook page created, even a newsletter was mailed out to members but non of these things seem to have been effective and each requires those dedicated volunteers to maintain the conversations.

This then is the situation for the supporters of an up and coming political party and where the local Greens seem to be sitting right now, will the overdue AGM occur soon, will a new and enthusiastic executive suddenly appear on their doorstep, will members willing to devote some time into writing newsletters or articles for the web site show up, or will they once again be simply scrambling to provide the minimum required to remain registered with Elections Canada? At this point I don’t know, but I do know its up to you Green Party Supporters!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Green Party of Canada Throne Speech

I simply cannot let this pass without republishing it here in full, it simply says all that needs to be said on the subject of where we need to go as a country and as an electorate, which is of course in exactly the opposite direction that the Harper Regime is taking us.......

A Green Speech From The Throne

Honourable Senators, Members of the House of Commons, Ladies and gentlemen,
A Speech from the Throne – in our Westminster parliamentary democracy – should bear fidelity to all our traditions. Canada is a Constitutional monarchy. Canada is a Westminster Parliamentary democracy and that is why I, as Governor General, read a speech filling the role of stand-in monarch. The Speech from the Throne, prepared by those in majority in the House of Commons, despite its quaint rituals, represents the underscoring of the fundamental principles of legitimate governance, going back to 1215 and Magna Carta. Government is only legitimate by consent of the governed.
We meet in the Senate chambers, the Canadian version of the House of Lords and purview of monarchy, following the ritual lone walk by the Senate’s Usher of the Black Rod to visit the House of Commons. The slamming of the Commons door in the face of the visiting royal representative is more than a peculiar anachronism. It is the on-going recognition of the fundamental principle of the supremacy of Parliament – and, in particular, of the Commoners as supreme over the monarch. Our traditions, observed more often as bizarre rituals of dwindling consequence, are actually important.
They express the reality that our living, breathing democracy shares the air of those fields at Runnymede in 1215 when the king had to accept that even a king cannot ignore the people. Magna Carta came from that commitment – a king must consult the commoners. And that is why, lined up behind that small barrier at the doors of this chamber, stand the commoners – the legitimate representatives of the people of Canada – the House of Commons. I am mindful, as the prime minister has asked me to mention, that she is not seated here to my right, as previous prime ministers have been, but standing with the other Members of Parliament. This tradition is practiced in the UK. It is somewhat odd that it had slipped away in Canada. Members of Parliament, commoners all – equal in theory – represent the people of Canada.
It is important that the roles be respected. Democracy in the 21st Century hangs in a vulnerable place – between corporate rule, totalitarianism and hyper-partisan manipulation. If a prime minister sits with royalty in ceremony, it won’t be long before conventions are violated. The early decisions by a previous prime minister to shut down the House, prorogation of parliament, in 2008 and 2009, were essentially unconstitutional. If we are to preserve a real democracy, we need to remember that our somewhat colourful customs are symbolic reminders of fundamental principles:
To be legitimate, government must exist by consent of the governed;
Parliament is supreme;
The prime minister reports to parliament and not the other way around.
In that context, I am reading the planned direction of my government. I represent here Her Majesty the Queen, and I represent a government comprised of the members of the party with a majority in Parliament, as well as Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition. It is understood that this “loyalty” is not to the prime minister, but to Canada. All MPs are equal, for all stand as representatives of the people of the communities found in their electoral districts. Even the prime minister is, in theory, “first among equals” -- a commoner and never the King.
For too long, we have operated as though the “government” could be labeled the purview of any one party; or worse, any one prime minister. It is Her Majesty’s government, meaning it is Canada’s government, the peoples’ government.

Restoring a Healthy Democracy

In 2017, we will celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation, and it is our goal that we restore the health of Canadian democracy to mark that celebration. We will entertain ideas for reforms from Canadians from coast to coast to coast. The evidence suggests that voter turn-out will rise once we have a healthy voting system, but my government particularly wants to find ways to engage Canadian youth in the life of our nation and in decisions about their future.
This parliament will make its top priority a number of steps to protect the essence of democracy. It is a Citizens First Agenda.
The Parliament will be asked to address the dysfunctionality of our electoral system. We will hold hearings across Canada to assess how Canadians feel about the “winner take all” or “First Past the Post” system. There are a range of options to reform the voting system. Most modern democracies use some form of proportional representation, and we need to explore which one of those systems best work for Canada.
It is our intention to see one of them put into effect prior to the next election. However, we want to ensure Canadians are engaged and supportive of the change. Certainly, few will argue that a system of voting that allows total control to a party whose candidates receive a minority of the vote is not healthy. While one political party may enjoy its access to total majority power with a minority of the vote, its supporters will not be happy when the tide turns and another party gains the same “false majority.”
Our government will also propose some over-due changes to the Elections Act. We will repeal changes brought in by the previous government that have been shown to disadvantage voters without a driver’s license and a stable address. Populations disadvantaged include First Nations, students, the homeless, and seniors who have given up driving. We need better prior enumeration of eligible voters, and we need to reduce to zero the risk of citizens entitled to vote being turned away from their polling place due to a technicality.
The Elections Act also need to be amended to place advertising limits on political parties outside of writ periods. As well, our government will propose changes to prohibit use of the airwaves for paid political advertising, as is the case in the United Kingdom, Belgium, Brazil and a number of other modern democracies. Instead, television and radio networks will be required to broadcast public interest messages focusing on advancing understanding of the various parties’ positions on issues, not on ad hominem attacks on other party leaders, contrived by professional advertisers.
The requirement for the leader’s signature on the nomination papers of candidates will be replaced with the signatures of local executives, where an Electoral District Association exists, and where one does not, the signatures of other local members will suffice. We also will introduce provisions to the Elections Act to allow members of an elected caucus of any parliamentary party to initiate a leadership review. These changes are intended to rebalance the powers of leaders of political parties in Canada with the systems in use in all other Commonwealth nations. Over time, leaders of Canadian political parties have gained powers, more akin to those of a presidential nominee in the United States – but without any of the checks and balances that exist in the very different system found south of the border.
We will also cut the budget for the operation of the Prime Minister’s Office in half and ensure that it be controlled over time as a fixed proportion of GDP.
It is long overdue, but to restore Canadians’ confidence in full, free and fair elections, we will hold a Royal Commission of Inquiry to investigate the election irregularities of the 2011 election (the so-called “robocalls” scandal) and we will ask the Royal Commission to investigate the actions of the RCMP Commissioner in 2005-2006 election to see if anything inappropriate or illegal occurred in that instance.
Senate reform is also a critical issue for many Canadians, but requires opening the Constitution in order to make significant changes. None of the changes proposed in this agenda require Constitutional changes. We propose that all former prime ministers be convened as a small working group to provide advice as to how the Senate can be reformed. This will, by definition, be a pan-partisan group. All have appointed senators and all are familiar with the reasons Canadians have lost faith in the institution.

Justice for First Nations, Inuit and Metis

One key priority is to revisit the recommendations of the 1996 Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples and work together, on a nation to nation basis, to enact its recommendations. First Nations education, housing and provision of clean water remain unfinished priorities. The rights and responsibilities to respect indigenous peoples’ decision-making on their traditional territories requires a serious review. True and meaningful consultation is required.

Tackling the Climate Crisis

Well before we celebrate our 150th birthday we need to tackle the single biggest threat to our collective future – the climate crisis. The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report confirms what we have known for decades – human activity is changing the world’s climate in ways that will be increasingly dangerous.
We know we have time to act, but we have very little time. A window of opportunity for a sensible transition to reduce dependence on fossil fuels is barely open. We will enter into a process of federal, provincial and territorial discussions to ensure a comprehensive plan that covers all economic sectors. We will end the sloppy and perverse practice of subsidizing fossil fuels and we will place a price on carbon. The climate agenda of this government will ensure coordinated and aggressive action to diversify the Canadian economy, through more value chains and more value added in relation to all natural resource exports. We will set shared goals for energy security, maximizing jobs, and the transition to a low-carbon economy. We will accelerate action in relation to coal-fired power plants with a goal of phasing them out entirely by 2020.
An adaptation plan will also be a priority, dovetailing it to the massive agenda to upgrade critical infrastructure. We pledge to work creatively with partners at the municipal level of government to ease the unfair burden they face. The changing climate will require significant improvements in transportation, waterworks, and other key infrastructure. Preventative action now will save lives later.

Restoring Environmental Laws

Recognizing that the strongest economies are those with the strongest environmental laws, we will restore the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act to its pre-2012 status, as well as repairing the damage done by the 2012 omnibus bills to the Fisheries Act and the Navigable Water Protection Act. The National Round Table on Environment and Economy Act will be tabled for First Reading with a change that places the Minister of Finance as chair of the effort to integrate sound environmental policy in all levels of government decision-making.

Rights to Information

Effective citizens require sound information. This means that citizens have a right to know what is in their foods. Full information includes where the food has been produced and how it was produced. Labelling to identify genetically modified foods will allow those who wish to eat GMO foods to locate them on their supermarket shelves and those who want to avoid them to do so.
Citizens have the right to review any scientific research conducted by independent government scientists. All such research should be in the public domain.
Members of Parliament require better information as well. We need to restore evidence-based decision-making. This includes fiscal decisions for which MPs in recent years have received a paucity of information. We will propose legislation to make the Parliamentary Budget Office a stand-alone and properly funded operation, separate from the Library of Parliament. The Parliamentary Budget Officer will be an Officer of Parliament. All government operations should be made transparent. This includes all spending by MPs and Senators.
Better information also requires returning to the tradition of an independent, professional, non-partisan public service – free of partisan interference. No public servant should fear being pressed to assemble “facts” in support of a previously set course. In recent years we have seen a rise in “decision-based evidence making.” This must end before it corrupts the very essence of responsible governance.

Growing a Healthy Economy

Critical in the next few years is to ensure the Canadian economy is healthy. We have been missing critical opportunities in the cleantech sector, as well as in enhanced demand side management to reduce waste of energy. We have the opportunity to grow sectors of our economy in many different regions of Canada, while maintaining resource-based activity in Alberta.
Canada is not a zero-sum game. All parts of the country benefit from policies that encourage entrepreneurial spirit and assist the commercialization of new technologies. Support for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and small business, the major employers in our economy, is central to our government’s economic strategy. We will introduce legislation to ensure all government bills are assessed for their impact on small business and SMEs.
We need to make a major effort to reduce the persistent unemployment rate among Canadian youth. We will also reverse the punitive Employment Insurance changes that make life more difficult for those in seasonal industries.

Trade and investment

This government will clarify the muddy waters around foreign direct investment. We will include a definition of “national security” in the Investment Canada Act. And we will hold a full review, with exacting cost-benefit analysis of the class of agreements called Foreign Investment Protection and Promotion Agreements (FIPAs). We will not ratify or negotiate any investment agreements until we have assessed their impacts. Our government will respectfully engage with the Peoples’ Republic of China as the FIPA with China was signed in September 2012, has not yet been ratified, and must not be ratified in the absence of a clear review of its impacts. We will work to ensure a clear communication of Canada’s interests without slamming the door on investment that meets Canada’s needs. Just as other nations have done, we will pursue trade, without sacrificing sovereignty through flawed FIPAs.

A Fairer Society

In recognition of the failure of mandatory minimums as a criminal justice strategy, we will review all legislation and particularly the Criminal Code to remove mandatory minimums. We will enhance law enforcement resources, freeing up limited time and money by legalizing, regulating and taxing cannabis. We will restore the Law Reform Commission and ask for a review of the recent changes in criminal law as well as immigration and refugee law to ensure they are charter compliant.
We will work with the national Ombudsman for Victims of Crime to improve supports for victims of violent crime and we will improve the rigour of laws to protect investors from white-collar crime. It will be a priority of this government to bring to justice those who set out to cheat seniors of their savings.
We will launch a national inquiry into the missing and murdered aboriginal women of Canada. Without waiting for the results of that investigation we will create better tools for law enforcement, such as a national DNA data bank for victims of crime, to be cross-referenced with data banks of the missing.

Protecting Canadian Health Care

The health care agenda also needs attention. We will initiate talks with the provincial and territorial governments on the next phase of the Health Accord. It is our goal that we find ways to reduce rising costs, particularly through controlling the price of pharmaceutical drugs. A national pharmacare programme, and the creation of a federal unit to provide advice modelled on the British Columbia Therapeutics Initiative will be a top priority for the Minister of Health.

Restoring our global reputation

My government is also committed to restoring Canada’s once strong international reputation. We need to return to multilateralism, engaging, rather than shunning the world. Our new focus on addressing climate change will help, but so too must we re-invest in diplomacy, peace-keeping and human rights around the world. The elimination of poverty is critical. We will work to meet the goal set by Lester Pearson of 0.7% GDP to Official Development Assistance by 2020.

Putting Citizens First

A Citizens First agenda means that we take seriously our obligations as government to the on-going relationship with those who elect their representatives. The reality is that Members of Parliament work for their constituents and not for their political parties. Reducing partisanship and competition in political discourse and finding ways to work together for the betterment of all is central.
This is an ambitious agenda. There is much more that needs to be done, but if we all pull together,

As published at http://www.greenparty.ca/green-speech-throne

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Todays Words

Recently we were blessed with a visit from a cousin from England who I had not seen in over 40 years, during our reminiscing and researching family connections I had to dig into my archives for some documents and stumbled across the following tall tale. My visitor found it most amusing in that having just taken a gentle stroll around our trails with me explaining how we removed our fuelwood from the bush with minimal impact to the surrounding flora he understood that every word was true!

Originally written for my granddaughter who was at the time learning about opposites I present it here for your enjoyment...... and so I can say I have posted something recently!!

Todays Words

Once upon a time there was an OLD grandfather who lived in a forest at the top of a BIG hill with his YOUNG son and BIG wife. One day the OLD grandfather decided to go into the forest and cut down two BIG OLD dead trees, so he hooked up his BIG trailer to his LITTLE bush buggy, loaded his chain saw and started down the LONG trail down the LITTLE hill, through the pines and past the pond. Then he came to a BIG hill that the LITTLE buggy could not pull the BIG trailer up, so he left the trailer at the bottom of the BIG hill and called his YOUNG son to bring the SMALL tractor with the LITTLE trailer and continued down the LONG trail to where the BIG OLD dead trees stood. Now the two BIG OLD dead trees were leaning against a LARGE YOUNG maple and when he cut a SHORT log off the bottom of the first the BIG OLD dead tree it dropped down a SHORT way and still remained standing. And when he cut a second SHORT piece of the BIG OLD dead tree it dropped down a SHORT way and still remained standing, and this happened 5 time before the tree fell over. By now the YOUNG son had driven the SMALL tractor with the LITTLE trailer down the LONG trail down the LITTLE hill, through the pines and past the pond over the BIG hill to where the BIG OLD dead trees stood. So after cutting the rest of the BIG dead OLD tree into BIG SHORT logs the OLD grandfather and his BIG wife loaded the BIG SHORT logs into the LITTLE trailer and the OLD grandfather with his YOUNG son drove the SMALL tractor with the LITTLE trailer with its BIG load of SHORT BIG logs back down the LONG trail over the BIG hill to where the BIG trailer waited and unloaded the BIG SHORT logs from the LITTLE trailer onto the BIG trailer. Then they turned around and went back the LONG the LONG trail over the BIG hill to where the other BIG OLD dead tree stood.
Then the OLD grandfather helped the YOUNG son and the BIG wife to load up the LITTLE trailer again and sent the YOUNG son and the BIG wife back down the trail with the SMALL tractor with the LITTLE trailer with its BIG load of SHORT BIG logs back down the LONG trail over the BIG hill to where the BIG trailer waited. Whilst they were doing this he cut a SHORT piece off the second BIG OLD tree that was leaning against the BIG YOUNG maple and…..guess what? The BIG OLD dead tree dropped down a SHORT way and still remained standing, and when he cut a second SHORT piece of the BIG OLD dead tree it dropped down a SHORT way and still remained standing, and this happened 5 time before the tree fell over. By this time the YOUNG son and the BIG wife had unloaded the BIG SHORT logs from the LITTLE trailer onto the LARGE trailer, turned around and driven back the LONG the LONG trail over the BIG hill to where the other BIG OLD dead tree used to stand. And so after cutting the second BIG OLD dead tree up into BIG SHORT logs the OLD grandfather and the YOUNG son and the BIG wife once again loaded up the BIG SHORT logs into the LITTLE trailer and they all went back down the trail with the SMALL tractor with the LITTLE trailer with its BIG load of SHORT BIG logs back down the LONG trail over the BIG hill to where the BIG trailer waited. They unloaded the BIG SHORT logs from the LITTLE trailer onto the LARGE trailer and hooked the SMALL tractor onto the LARGE trailer and set off down the LONG trail, back past the pond, through the pines with the BIG load of SHORT BIG logs on the LARGE trailer, but then they came to a LITTLE hill and the LITTLE tractor was not able to pull the LARGE trailer with the BIG load of SHORT BIG logs up the LITTLE hill so they left the BIG trailer at the bottom of the LITTLE hill and all went home. The following day the OLD grandfather started his LARGE tractor, went down the LITTLE hill, hooked up the BIG trailer with its BIG load of SHORT BIG logs to the LARGE tractor and pulled it up the LITTLE hill to the shed so that he could make SMALL LITTLE pieces of the BIG SHORT logs to put in the wood stove to keep his YOUNG son and BIG wife warm for the LONG winter! The End

Friday, July 19, 2013

Milkweed & Monarchs

We here don’t have a large part of our property open enough to have lots of milkweed growing but being aware of the link between milkweed and the monarch butterfly make a point of mot cutting any down that does show up in our open areas. Over the more than 10 years we have been privileged to own this property we have noted a decline in the number of milkweed flowering or even showing a few leaves, some years we hardly see any. We are thus surprised and pleased to see a massive increase in the milkweed population this year, we have never seen such a large number of plants on our property, unfortunately this coincides with a report that this year also has seen the largest decline in monarch migration on record.

Is this coincidence or is this natures way of evening out the balance given the destruction of the monarchs forest wintering areas in Mexico, I don’t know, only time will tell but meanwhile I will be looking for them to be laying their eggs on my milkweed. Thus far I have not seen any and have no idea how the rather strange weather patterns will effect them, will the extreme heat send them further north, will heavy rain effect their egg clusters? Its not something I have taken a great deal of time investigating but given what I believe to be an increasing fragility of our natural environment you may be sure I will celebrate that first sighting of a monarch on one of our plants and hope that it signals a return to balance and a return of the monarch population.

Yahooo, just saw the first Monach this year and the milkweed is in full flower awaiting their arrival!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

No Emergency Preparedness Needed?

Owen over at Northern Reflections brings this to our attention:-
Phil Gibson writes: The prime minister’s approach to risk management moves money away from investments in people in order to spend it on technology. This way the private sector gets to spend it instead of other levels of government. Another consequence has been a reduction in support for heavy urban search and rescue teams (HUSAR) in Vancouver, Calgary, St. Boniface, Toronto and Halifax. Meanwhile, a training center for first responders that was run by Public Safety Canada has been shut down and the Canadian Center for Emergency Preparedness has ceased operations, its assets transferred to a community college.

Harper's take on safety is beginning to run thin even in Alberta. Vic Toews may be gone, but he still leaves a bad smell where he has been. Brian Cornforth, president of the Alberta Fire Chiefs Association was not impressed when Toews showed up in High River:
Chief Cornforth blasted Public Safety Minister Vic Toews for “posing” amid the flood recovery operation in High River, saying politicians with no operational role have no business getting in the way. The chief said he is particularly incensed by the program cutbacks to public safety and HUSAR when he hears about misspending in Ottawa.

There are no doubt many other 'cuts' that have taken place that effect public safety and emergency response, one that comes immediately to mind is the closing of key Coast Guard stations on the west coast that service the very waters that are being proposed to carry increased oil tanker traffic. The same tankers that those Con ad's tell us must now be double hulled....a requirement that has been in place both internationally and in Canada for many years.
That there is also an increasing reliance on industry, particularly the transport industry, to 'regulate itself' both on safety issues and spills, and that the ever disappearing government oversight is both under staffed and mostly toothless in the face of increasing environmental and man-made catastrophes tells us exactly where this governments priorities sit.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Pollination in Jeopardy

ELMWOOD, ONTARIO - Local beekeepers are finding millions of their bees dead just after corn was planted here in the last few weeks. Dave Schuit, who has a honey operation in Elmwood, lost 600 hives, a total of 37 million bees.
“Once the corn started to get planted our bees died by the millions,” Schuit said. He and many others, including the European Union, are pointing the finger at a class of insecticides known as neonicotinoids, manufactured by Bayer CropScience Inc. used in planting corn and some other crops. The European Union just recently voted to ban these insecticides for two years, beginning December 1, 2013, to be able to study how it relates to the large bee kill they are experiencing there also.
Local grower Nathan Carey from the Neustadt, and National Farmers Union Local 344 member, says he noticed this spring the lack of bees and bumblebees on his farm. He believes that there is a strong connection between the insecticide use and the death of pollinators.

Sunday, June 23, 2013


Sapsucker that is....
Some 10 years ago or so I grew a Mountain Ash from seed and it is now some18 or 20 foot high and about 2” in diameter at the base and is a feature of our back yard. We were upset to see a row of holes around the trunk recently just pouring sap down the trunk, yep, a Yellow Bellied Sapsucker has decided that this is his favorite feeding station! Now I don’t generally get excited about the birds doing their thing in our trees, the woodpeckers generally will not do much damage unless the tree is already badly infested with insects or grubs and even the Sapsucker generally leaves enough bark between his holes that the tree survives, we have 100 year old apple and pear trees with evidence of the little buggers having drilled his horizontal rows many many years ago in them and it obviously did those trees no lasting harm.

This Mountain Ash is however quite special to us, quite small yet and we do not want to loose it after having grown it from seed and it just in the last year or so started bearing those decorative orange fruit in the fall. We first tried hanging old CDs from the branches, as we stood there no 10ft back admiring the twinkling light issuing from the almost dozen CDs spinning in the sunlight we hear 'meeew meeew' and the persistent little fellow flew in for a drink of sap. So next protective move was to wrap the trunk in the area of attack with burlap sacking ..... meeew meeew “well I will just move higher on the tree”.

Now having wrapped the tree to a height of over 10' we hear him laughing at us on a daily basis as he not only finds unwrapped areas to feed upon but also pulls the sacking aside to get at the main trunk! We can but hope that nature makes allowances for such things and our Mountain Ash continues to enhance our yard for years to come.... after all it makes no sense for a bird to kill the very thing that feeds it, I just wish he would choose one of our larger apple or pears trees, or even any of the hundreds of pine, spruce or maple trees available to him as his favorite feeding station.

It seems that I am the sucker for thinking that I can dictate which trees he can or cannot use!

Monday, June 3, 2013

$9.99 Internet from Rogers!

“Rogers Communications is partnering with Microsoft Canada and Compugen computers to provide affordable internet service to some 58,000 low-income households in Toronto Community Housing buildings.” “ By August, the company hopes to be able to offer broadband internet access for $9.99 a month to all subsidized households in Toronto’s public housing portfolio. The internet service, with speeds of 3Mbps and usage allowance up to 30 GB, usually retails for between $40 and $45 a month, Bruce noted.”
That’s absolutely great for those low income residents of Toronto's public housing and Rogers deserves some credit for this BUT what about low income folks in other cities, not renting from the city or out in rural areas? I note that usage of 30GB usually retails for around $40, I wish! My internet from Rogers (via a wireless hub, the only internet available other than even more expensive satellite) is indeed around $40 a month but the usage allowance is just 10% of that quoted with a threshold of just 3GB before extra charges kick in.
If we assume, as I think we can, that they are not providing this service at less than cost then we can also see that the profit margin on regular subscribers is such that prices for those of us for whom such deals are not available should also see some reduction in our monthly charges. Don’t hold your breath waiting for that to happen though!
As a 'low income' senior in rural Ontario I continue to wonder when we here outside of the urban jungle will start to get some attention from those touting affordable internet for all Canadians.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Regenerating Mind and Body.....

So we have this wonderful forested property with 30 acres of woodland trails and a wide variety of wild flowers, ferns and other plants and have only walked our trail once this spring! I feel guilty for not making use of such a resource that so many folks would love to have in their back yard, traditionally we always have a family hike on mothers day but with temperatures at just 3c and snow flurries it was hardly the pleasant walk normally enjoyed and we chickened out!

To say the month of May has been 'variable' weather wise is putting it mildly, even now beyond the normal 'frost date' we have had several nights with quite a hard frost, the hanging pots of geraniums overwintered in the greenhouse are getting dizzy from being taken in and out. We will no doubt loose some of the annuals planted out about a week ago when temperatures were in the upper 20s in our sheltered clearing. We have yet to see if the apples and pear trees managed to set fruit before the blossoms got frosted, the insects did not seem to be as abundant as in previous years and we have yet to see a bee.

When the weather is decent it seems that the number of 'projects' always outdoes the time and ambition to complete them, that my old bones are reluctant to cooperate at times does not help, but in that I am a firm believer of 'use it or loose it' I do try and keep busy. The long period over winter spent sitting on my arse just thinking about even more projects did not help with either the volume of work or the mobility of the old fart doing them! The grass needs cutting weekly this time of year, the trails need to be trimmed also, the pile of logs hauled out last fall for this years heating sit behind the barn saying 'time to block and split me' each time I walk past. Folks keep coming in with mowers to repair and whilst the extra pocket money is nice the culmination of all these thing bring me to the conclusion that somehow the 'list' must be thinned out if I am to keep up. It could not have anything to do with being another year older could it? They say you are as old as you feel and some days I feel ancient!

So today we will use those trails which I hope will help with the mobility of both bones and brain and not add to the list of 'things to do', I will take the camera along and encourage the Mrs to join me, the dog comes automatically as soon as I pick up the walking stick, and report back here later today.....

....Mission accomplished, after a late breakfast of french toast on the wood-fired BBQ we took a pleasant 1hr stroll around our trails. Whilst the Trout Lilies and Bellwort are all done flowering a few Trilliums and Violets are still showing some colour. The Baneberry is in flower and the Cohosh just starting to flower, all the ferns are greening up and we saw several quite large Snakes Tongue Ferns with their distinctive t ripple fronds. The regeneration of trees, shrubs and other undergrowth was quite extensive to the point where in spots it was hard to see where the trail was, looks like that w**k list just got longer. I always have to grit my teeth in the spring when it time to trim the trails, I hate cutting anything down but if the trails are not cleared spring and fall mother nature would quickly take over and hide all my hard work establishing set routes that avoid trampling plants at random.

I will leave you with this pic taken today of a Baneberry in flower which promises a fine showing of red or white (its hard to tell which variety it is at this time) berries come fall.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Lessons Needed

With spring finally here the last thing we need or want here in Ontario is an election that invariably will result in simply more of the same and even more wasted taxpayer dollars. As always Peter Russell puts things in perspective.

Opposition Leaders Need Lessons In 
Minority Government
by Peter H. Russell

The reason Ontarians are threatened with .an election they do not want is the difficulty opposition party leaders are having in learning some basic lessons about the realities of minority governments.

Not every policy issue requires a partisan political solution.
Canadians are fed up with the excessive partisanship that pollutes their politics these days and creates the environment of a perpetual election campaign.
Its time for Ontario’s opposition leaders to adopt an approach to politics that responds to our times and our wishes.”

And that goes for ALL our political partys federal and provincial from one coast to the other!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Spring arrives in the Klondike Hills.

After a long winter of sitting on my arse looking out the window and wondering if spring is ever going to come it looks like it finally has. It seems late but is probably about usual for this area, we were so spoiled last year with summer like weather and temps into the 70s in early April that this spring seemed to be forever getting here. The long list of 'honey do' (mostly self imposed) begins to translate into 'honey get on with it' and I find that the old bones are not cooperating too well after the lack of any real 'exercise' over the winter. Somehow the need to get up to refill my glass is not the same as moving gravel to get ready for pouring the shed floor or blocking the logs dragged our last year for this years firewood!

Anyway I accompanied the Mrs in a gentle stroll around our forest trails Tues morning, it being one of the first sunny and warm(ish) days this year and the sight of Ma Nature poking her head up and saying spring is here and life continues lifted my spirits. On our walk I saw these leaves of a Trout Lilly sticking up through some moss at the bottom of a maple tree and thought 'this is what it is all about, a fresh start, put last year behind you and look ahead to new growth'. A simple picture, no pretty flowers or dappled sunlight but somehow it depicts the essence of spring to me, enjoy... (click pic to enlarge)

That my 'list' outpaces my 'ambition' suddenly does not seem quite as big a deal as it did a few days ago, thanks Ma....

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Hydro Line Workers

I have done my share of bitching about hydro prices and in particular the “delivery charge” portion of my bill which exceeds the 'cost of hydro' delivered, but given that this 'extra' on our bill pays for maintenance and repair and the current number of lines down due to the recent ice storm I must reconsider my stance. These front line high voltage linesmen have my greatest respect, they are by all accounts called out in the most miserable weather to work on potentially very dangerous high voltage lines often suspended in a bucket 50 feet above the ground in high winds, pissing rain or heavy snow to keep us warm and cozy in our houses. No doubt they are paid very well but as a technician who has been 'on call' I can say that NO amount of money would get me to play around with 50,000 volts dangling in a bucket in the middle of a snow storm after already having spent 8 or more hours on the job that day.

Thanks guys, I do hope your bosses take the time and money to upkeep and improve the hydro distribution system, replace old poles, cut overhanging trees and eliminate problem areas but understand it is hard to remember that you are suppose to be draining the swamp when you are up to your ass in alligators!

We were fortunate to not loose power here but many around us were not so lucky, my daughter down in Huron County is at the time of writing this still without power after abt 60 hrs, when you see some of the damage you can understand the challenges faced by Hydro One to get power restored.

Us country folk tend to be more prepared for power outages than our urban friends, we here have water for cooking stored, propane stove unreliable upon hydro, wood heat that warms twice or more in cutting, splitting, stacking and hauling, a generator to keep the freezers running if need be and battery operated lights, radio and other essential 'stuff'. It is rarely needed and all to often it is not working properly from neglect when needed due to the long period between uses, but we are aware of the 'Be Prepared' motto learned long ago from my days in the Boy Scouts. My daughter just learned that those wonderful cell phones do not work unless charges and home cordless phones don’t work without power. Every household in rural Ontario should have an old simple plug in phone for emergency’s, the reliance on cell technology by an increasing number of folks is fine till the shit hits the fan, tower gets knocked out, batteries go dead, or you are stuck some place with “no service' then that old dial up land line looks really good!

Those in town have more services and backup options available but it must be bloody hard to kindle a fire on the living room floor to keep warm when all you have is electric heat and there are I must admit only so much those living in an apartment can do when major power outages occur. I feel fortunate that out here in the boonies I have the ability to prepare for emergencies and survive quite happily for a number of days without modern amenities, its just a learning curve to know how to prepare. By the time I have it right I will be poking up daisy’s but perhaps my daughter will get the idea!

Meanwhile I still would not be a linesman for any money, work safe guys.......

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Owen Sound Mayor says fishing agreement will work.

Whilst I applaud Mayor Haswell's efforts to get all sides talking about the recent fishing agreement with the Saugeen Ojibway Nation it is clear that such discussions should have taken place before the agreement was put in place. That it did not is clearly the fault of the MNR, working in secrecy seems to be the new normal for all levels of government in Canada!.
Mayor Haswell has said that folks should read the agreement before jumping to conclusions as to how it affects the commercial and sports fishery, easy to say but very hard to do! When this agreement was announced I tried to do just that, no reference to said agreement could be found on the MNR site let alone the actual text, a second search today came up empty also, it could be there but if so is well hidden. No news stories that I have read provide a link to such a document and several make a point of saying that it was not generally available at the time of publication, it hard to read an agreement that is not generally available to the public.

I believe much of the concern about this issue could have been avoided by a more open and public process and that any future news stories should provide a link to the document (if indeed it is available online anywhere)

I would be pleased to post such a link here if someone can provide it, lets all base our opinions on facts not speculation and could someone with clout get the MNR to smarten up and provide easy access to such documents!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Conservative Regime.Spin Debunked

You have all seen those Taxpayer funded Ads extolling the Harper Regimes new legislation to require double hulled oil tankers in Canadian waters as if its something new that will prevent spills. As is usual it is all spin and lies, in a recent article Elizabeth May debunks that statement and a number of others from this unprincipaled regime......

Yesterday Harper’s ministers announced we would find these new measures in Bill C-57, the just tabled for First Reading Safeguarding Canada’s Seas and Skies Act. I have read C-57. This now takes top honours in the on-going competition for most over-hyped legislative title. I have read it and it is essentially a housekeeping act. It deals with the skies, through changes to inspections of aviation accidents and aeronautic indemnities. There is no environmental aspect to the “skies” component. Then there are the amendments related to “seas.” The Marine Act is amended to change the date for the approval of a new director of a port authority. The only oil-spill related components are in the Marine Liability Act. The act is brought into compliance with the 2010 International Convention on Liability and Compensation for Damage in connection with the Carriage and Noxious Substances by Sea. So, nothing about double-hulled tankers.
The reality is that since 1993, all new tankers are required, by international agreement, to be double-hulled. According to a great summary on the issue by Mitch Anderson in September 27, 2010 The Tyee, (“No, Double Hull Tankers Do Not Ensure ‘Total Safety,’”) there were only 50 single-hulled tankers operating anywhere on the planet that year. None were allowed in North American waters.
Has the virtual removal of single-hulled tankers ended the risk of oil spills? Not actually. Despite the exuberance of Joe Oliver’s rhetoric, double-hulls possess no magical powers. Their use has not ended the risk of accidents and oil spills.
Collisions with barges and freighters have caused oil spills of millions of litres in ports around the world. Double hulls can be sliced open and oil spills out.
The Transport Canada website was prettied up for the announcement, with a “fact sheet” transparently designed to create the impression the British Columbia coast is routinely plied by hundreds of super-tankers.
Here are some of the claims from the Transport Canada website:
  • Oil tankers have been moving safely and regularly along Canada’s West Coast since the 1930’s.
  • In 2009-2010, there were about 1500 tanker movements on the West Coast....
  • A federal moratorium off the coast of BC applies strictly to oil and natural gas exploitation and development, not to tanker storage or movement.
I think most readers will not need any help from me debunking that bunk. The 1972 moratorium was precisely against oil tanker traffic along BC’s north coast. Moreover, the 1500 tanker “movements” refers to what Transport Canada defines as “every time a ship (or vessel) commences or ceases to be underway.
Underway is defined as "a vessel that is not at anchor, or made fast to the shore, or aground.” And by tanker, they mean “a cargo ship fitted with tanks for carrying liquid in bulk.” Not oil tankers. In 2011, the total number of oil tankers in and out of the Port of Vancouver was 82. None of them were super-tankers and none of them operate without risk.
In the on-going war of words to get super-tankers carrying bitumen crude into our waters, it is amazing any media covered Joe Oliver’s announcement as if anything meaningful had been added to the discussion.
Elizabeth May is the Member of Parliament for Saanich-Gulf Islands and Leader of the Green Party of Canada.
First printed in the Island Tides.

Friday, March 15, 2013

TVO – Your Rural Ontario

I recently viewed a TVO Agenda segment on Rural Ontario which among other things discussed “What is rural Ontario”, something which I and many others have tried to define unsuccessfully. The guests included freelance writer, farmer and former editor of our local paper Jim Merriam whose articles about rural issues I always enjoy when I occasionally see a Sun Times paper with his column in it. Also present was Rob Hannam, Chair of the Rural Ontario Institute and two other guests. As always with Steve Pakin hosting an interesting discussion ensued which I will not try and outline here except to say that despite being unable to define 'rural' there was consensus on a couple of issues several of which I have written about on these pages time and time again.

Those being Infrastructure, Internet and Communications and the benefits that rural communities bring to our urban counterparts, not the least of which is the agricultural input to our food basket. One guest pointed out that rural is as much a state of mind as a place, it is as perhaps indicated in the term used to describe what farmers do “cultural”, this I feel is very much a good description and perhaps why we out here in the country have such difficulty getting our point of view across to urban residents and politicians and why we likewise have difficulty with understanding the city folks point of view. There is a considerable cultural difference.

As the guests all agreed the answer is in communications, communications, communications – but how we as rural communities enable that dialogue is the difficulty, once again our guests agreed .... they had no suggestions as to how to improve the conversation between the two solitudes. As regular readers will know I have previously suggested that for rural areas where considerable travel is often necessary for face to face gathering to discuss such issues the internet could be a great tool, unfortunately it seems that rural folks have yet to realize the power of this tool. Whether that is due to no having a suitable forum in which to participate, the general feeling of 'I cannot make a difference' that currently infects our society,a lack of a decent internet connection in many rural areas or some other roadblock is hard to tell. I did note that Jim at least did have a high speed connection that enabled him to participate by skype, I can but dream of such and whether it would even be affordable or have very limited volume limits if it was available is also debatable, I cannot even review the ½ hr TVO program without hogging much of my monthly allocation and even then not as a streaming video due to speed limitations.

As Steve pointed out there is a perception out there that say rural folks are such a small (and ever declining) percentage of our population that the political machine and the urban majority may not need to bother with those 'whining farmers and country bumpkins”. It is difficult for those whom I have previously identified as “The Forgotten Minority” to counter these perceptions when that old country adage “the squeaky wheel gets the grease” is so true and there are so many wheels falling off across Ontario. That the panel were all optimistic as the the future of our rural and farm communities was good to hear, I just wish I could agree with them.

Before I wind up this post I must give the Rural Ontario Institute a bit of a plug for their efforts to provide links to rural and agricultural information on their web site. They have so many links that it is almost overwhelming but the Rural Ontario Reader and their links page will give a good starting point for those researching or seeking more information on rural issues. I just wish that the efforts to create an interactive forum for rural issues started by the FWIO and supported by the ROI or something similar was a better and more widely used method of allowing rebuttal and dialogue on rural issues.

Thanks for this panel discussion Steve and TVO, lets see some more programs on rural issues in the future.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Paying for NOT Generating Wind Power.

One of the problems with the power derived from industrial wind farms is that it is not always available when needed, however the opposite is also true as it can be pumping out power when it is not needed. In order to regulate this over supply of power it now seems we are going to pay those companies who already receive a higher price for their output than the current market price to NOT generate power!

“Ontario wind power companies have reached an agreement that will curb electricity output from wind turbines when there’s surplus power on the grid. In return, the companies will get compensated for lost output, within certain limits.”
“Until now, wind power has had almost unrestricted access to the power grid, under rules designed to encourage the development of renewable power in Ontario. Wind power is especially tricky to deal with, because there’s a lot of it and the wind often blows strongest overnight or on weekends, when demand is low. “
“As more wind power floods onto the grid, the combination of wind and nuclear sometimes leads to power surpluses, forcing Ontario to sell power to its neighbours at a loss, or even pay them to take it.”
“The IESO had estimated that coping with surplus power production will cost Ontario’s power system up to $200 million a year if market rules don’t change. “

This in addition to to the cost of keeping enough capacity from other sources on standby to pick up the load when the wind is not blowing but the demand is high. Until such time as this type of power generation is linked to storage solutions such as pumped water reservoirs and hydro generation it will never be a viable means of supplying electricity when needed.

I note that such arrangements also exist with nuclear generating stations however in that their power is available 24 / 7 / 365 and they receive far less per MW for their power the two cannot be considered similar arrangements.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Scientists Muzzled Again!

Once again Rick Mercer reminds us how the public are not permitted to see any information that is not 'approved' by Herr Harper.

"Well another week, another story about scientists in Canada being muzzled. This time it's eggheads up in the arctic studying climate change – a joint project between the Canadians and the Americans. And of course our government told them they had to sign a piece of paper saying they could never discuss their findings in public unless a political staffer in Ottawa said it was okay which is never going to happen.

Now of course the Canadians did what they were told, they signed on the dotted line because, well, they want to eat. But the American scientists went ballistic because, well, they’re Americans and you know what the Americans are like. It’s freedom of speech this and freedom of speech that. And the way they were carrying on you'd swear that they had been transported back in time and dropped behind the Berlin wall at the height of the cold war. Nope, you're in Canada in 2013. You want to do science in these parts you better get used to it. And get over yourselves. It's not like scientists are the only ones being told to shut up in this country. No, it's everyone.

Remember when Canada used to have a Veterans Affairs Ombudsman? He used to go on TV every night and scream bloody murder every time the government abused our veterans. Well, he's gone. They got a new guy in there now. Do a Google news search, he barely comes up. And then there's the Cabinet. If scientists have been muzzled, half of the Cabinet has had their voice boxes removed. And then there’s the backbenchers. They have taken to communicating with a series of blinks and twitches like in a hostage video.

So if you are a scientist, don't take it personally, times have changed. The days of discussing science and your findings in public, they’re over. It is a bygone era like smoking in the supermarket. This is the new Canada. Thank you for not talking."

But how many are listening Rick?

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Time Flies

In a recent on line 'conversation' with a fellow Green about land value taxation I referred to an earlier 'conversation' I had with former green leader Frank de Jong and after having posted my reply went looking for the original post. A quick search via google failed to find it but being one of those folks who keep everything (unfortunately not just electronic records) a little digging in my archives found the response. A further search on line using tighter terms found the article on line and much to my dismay and consternation I found it to be dated 2007! Where did those years go, has it really been that long, how long have I been letting off steam on the internet?

A quick look at this blog reveals that it has been on line since January 2008 and has 219 posts, hardly up to some bloggers volume but not a bad effort, enough to garner some 1000 or so 'hits a month. So then I had to go see what my other online efforts revealed, Democracy Under Fire has without a doubt recited more attention from myself and readers in recent times, I am no less interested in rural affairs that I was 8 or 9 years ago but have come to the realization that without a functioning democracy trying to bring rural issues to the fore is simply an exercise in frustration.

So having launched that blog two years later in Feb 2009 I was not surprised to see that it had garnered about the same number of 'hits' over time on about the same number of posts at 225. That I am finding it difficult to keep up the effort is perhaps understandable, on a personal level I have little to write about although god knows there are enough items on the political scene, be it on rural affairs, municipal, provincial or federal shenanigans or the ability of any of us 'peons' to have any impact upon those that profess to lead us, I am simply getting tired of it all.

The only thing that keeps me going is the miniscule possibility that one of my posts may make someone somewhere seek a little more information, come to the realization that we are all reliant upon each other, that our governments at all levels are generally interested in only two things = power and money. That the ever decreasing rural population who maintain our fields and forests are in danger of extinction, or at the very least relegated to a position of irrelevance in the minds of much of the urban population and out 'lead’s in Queen Park and Ottawa. That unless we actively protect those things we take for granted, like democracy, freedom of information, the air we breath, the seas and lands and forests of our great country, the science that lets us evaluate their heath and so many other basic things that are under attack from governments, corporations and foreign interests they will all be eroded as we sit and do nothing.

This then is my bit towards that activity, its small, it perhaps has little impact but at least it is an effort to make a difference. You input may be different but I urge you to do your bit, as I say at the top of Democracy Under Fire “Democracy requires dialogue” and it matter not if you agree or disagree with my point of view it is the dialogue that is important.

Oh.....and the rant clears my mind and makes me feel soooo much better!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

The “structural pathology” of the governance system in Canada,

Dr. Bell spoke yesterday (Feb 1 2012) before the Kelowna Joint Review Panel hearings on Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline, outlining “four diseased elements” that put the pipeline proposal in a social and political context and he condemned as dangerous Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s concentration of power and the apparent depth of his associations with corporate interests.  When Bell finished speaking, he was surrounded by reporters.  Here’s what he said:

I am a family physician, in clinical practice for just over 36 years in rural BC. As a professional reflex, I have a sensitivity towards the behaviour of others, and towards the impact of my own conduct.
While still in medical school, I learned that many of the most important influences on a person’s health derive not just from what doctors do, or even from the choices made by patients themselves, but from broad trends in the community – from the immediate neighbourhood right up to the planetary environment.
When I began my practice, however, the term “ecosystem” was unknown, and the term “environment” referred almost exclusively to a person’s immediate social or physical situation.
Today, thanks to global telecommunications and transportation, and especially the Internet and social media, our worldview has expanded greatly. As we humans have multiplied exponentially, we have learned that we can degrade the functional capacity of our planetary home, which in turn affects our survival.
In 1995, I helped to found the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment or CAPE. Our purpose was to scientifically examine the intimate inter-relationship between human and ecosystem health, and improve the former by addressing the latter. With 5,500 members, CAPE has become the environmental voice of the medical profession.
Today, however, I am here not as representative of CAPE or any other organization. I am speaking as just one person, and as a physician.
I want to address what one might call “structural pathology” in the governance system in Canada, which has led to the contention surrounding the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline project – which I have followed closely since its inception.
Your work as members of the Joint Review Panel is taking place in a social context. As a medical professional – with, I might add, extra training in psychotherapy – I would like to examine four diseased elements in this social context, and suggest remedies for them.
The first pathological element is historical.
Up until about 400 years ago, the land base subsumed within Canada was home to various peoples, originally from Asian roots, broadly connected by culture and race. They lived, like all our forebearers once did, seeking survival in an unforgiving but also bountiful natural world. Through a combination of force of arms, disease, mass immigration and various legalistic arrangements – including a genocidal strategy called the residential school system – the land base occupied by the original inhabitants of this country was progressively reduced, and their role in society was relentlessly marginalized. The small land base and the few prerogatives left to them thus have become critically important to their well being.
In Salmon Arm, I have patients, neighbours and friends who are aboriginal, who embody the experiences I’ve just referred to, both in their physiology and in their psyches. Many First Nations communities, with similar individual and collective experiences, are in the path of the proposed pipeline.
The second element in this structural pathology is the electoral system.
Elections to the House of Commons are based on the “first past the post” system. The elected candidate just has to get one vote more than any other candidate – even if only a minority of citizens actually vote in the first place.
This kind of selection procedure, in a community with many disparate parts, is psychologically grossly inefficient. Especially in complex or conflictual situations, it generates a mixture of cynicism, despair and anger.
The third element in this structural pathology is the nature of the Prime Minister’s Office, or PMO.
In Britain, the PMO is surrounded by powerful committees and advisory bodies whose comments and decisions have a major influence on government decision-making and cannot be readily ignored.
In Canada, the PMO has vastly more political power. It has, in fact, absolute veto power over several hundred different government bodies.
Political power in the Canadian system is profoundly more centralized than it is in Britain, and far more than it is in the United States, with its system of “checks and balances”.
Frankly, if Stephen Harper doesn’t like your report, he can, and by every indication he will, shelve it.
This concentration of power in one element of Canada’s political structure, for whatever murky historical reason, is an invitation to social disaster. The illusion of “efficiency” in political decision-making is subverted by the opportunity for hard-line autocracy.
In the 21st century, when my patients are being encouraged to take increasing responsibility for their lives, such a concentration of power is anachronistic and backward.
The final element in Canada’s structural pathology is the expansion of the influence of the “corporation”, a business model that uncouples personal responsibility from profit, and places dollar gains above all others.
It is significant that as I sit talking to you here the Enbridge consortium is applying to expand its Kitimat terminal from 11 to 16 oil tanks. What clearer demonstration of absolute confidence in an eventual approval could there possibly be?
Taken together:
  1. the relentless marginalization of First Nations, with their intimate connection to the ecosystem;
  2. the electoral system, which readily generates non-representative governments;
  3. the huge concentration of political power in the Prime Minister’s office; and
  4. the rise of corporate influence.
These elements create the pathological state that leads directly to us being here today.
The planet is overcrowded, heating up, and steadily depleted of its natural capital. But now we have a Prime Minister who is forcefully using the overwhelming dominance afforded his office, to try and reshape this country to his dated views.
Stephen Harper, according to recorded evidence, has longed to be able to exercise such intense power, and identifies with doing so now (several years ago he formally changed the phrase “federal government” to “the government of Stephen Harper”).
His own religious background suggests reasons for his overall orientation, but his willingness to mask his own renowned intensity behind a rigidly bland “persona” is a truer indication of his deep commitment to power.
This approach to governance, exercised by a Prime Minister and government elected by a minority of Canadians, has deepened the already strong alliance between the corporate sector and the government. The former, fixated on immediate- and short-term financial profitability, is drawn to the latter, intent on maintaining its ascendancy, and vice versa.
The result, in a situation like the one we are addressing today, is growing social pathology. Frustration, anger, cynicism, depression and distrust of leadership are on the ascendancy, as noted in the Edelman Trust Barometer, released just before the World Economic Forum in Davos.
A patient of mine in his mid-twenties came to my office recently to say that he was deeply depressed and anxious, not about his love life, or his financial situation, but about the overheated, depleted future he was heading towards. He felt that the government in this country was acting now to make it worse for him and his young children later.

So what is the cure for this disease?

It is four-fold, in my opinion.
  1. First, we must, as a nation, work out a respectful, mutually satisfactory relationship with Canada’s First Peoples – not destroy their culture by stealth.
  2. Second, we must reform the electoral system to make it radically more representative.
  3. Third, we must alter the power balance in the federal governance system so that one person cannot pre-empt democratic processes as Stephen Harper is now doing.
  4. And fourth, we must rein in the overwhelming power and influence of the corporate sector.
Until we do these four things, our country is vulnerable to political, social and ecological upheaval that will retard our development as a nation, and likely offer ruin to the lives of future generations.
And it’s going to make my personal and professional life more difficult, as I minister to the anxiety and physical suffering of particularly the young people in my community.
I therefore personally pledge my energies and experience – here, today – to bringing about these changes, by whatever means possible.
I hope you will too.
And I also hope you will reject this flawed and destructive project, the inevitable result of such a flawed and destructive – and pathological – process.

As posted at http://elizabethmaymp.ca/news/blogs/2013/02/02/dr-warren-bell-on-the-northern-gateway-pipeline/