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.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Blogging in Grey Bruce.

A recent comment by Ian Chadwick in a post on his Collingwood blog saying “Blogs have to be updated and maintained - nothing will kill public interest faster than a blog that is infrequently updated.” has reinforced my view that we here in the Grey Bruce area that are blogging must get together on line more to promote readership and discussion. Unfortunately Ians blog is not very friendly for dialuppers taking forever to load. (Sorry Ian, I tells it like it is!)
As Radio Collingwood, where I found the link to Ians blog says, it is difficult to maintain a blog and keep it fresh. Shane Jolly over here in Owen Sound has provided a forum for several years now but that seems to have gone down the tubes of late despite my best efforts to post something there on a regular basis. The several contributors seem to have better things to do than blog I guess, unlike semiretired old farts like I!

The only other local blogs that I am aware of is Jan from the Bruce, who like myself manages to have a rant or two on a regular basis about federal politics, but I can see where not everyone would want to read a steady diet of that sickening mess. There has to be more local bloggers out there, let me know if you know of any.
So here is my question. If we promote each others blogs by links in the side bar or elsewhere on our blogs, find and invite other LOCAL bloggers into the fold, cross link our commentary to local blogs as I have in this one, will it be enough to maintain or even expand the local participation? Or can some savvy local come up with a Grey Bruce blog aggregator to give a one stop review of recent posts?

A variety of blogging styles and content but all produced locally giving a largely rural (as compared with say a Toronto blogger) and perhaps promoting local business and needs but all available a click or two away from your local blog or aggregator could just put us all on the map. I heartily agree with Ian that checking a blog we like on a regular basis, only to see the same page we saw last week, quickly removes said blog from our visiting list. Perhaps with more interaction between us locally we will all be encouraged to “keep it fresh”!

What do you think guys? Out of area bloggers comments also welcome, every idea or view is valued!

Note:- Yes guys, I do know that Collingwood is not in Grey Bruce, but you are so darn close! To show good faith I have added a sidebar link to the previous post listing all the local blogs mentioned here. I invite local bloggers to send me links to add to the list.

Grey Bruce Blogs

The following is a list of local blogs (or web site that include blogs) in the Grey Bruce area, unfortunatly seveveral of them do not have comments enabled but they are of local interest. Bloggers who wish to be added to the list can simply reply to this post and I will add them to the list. A permanent link may be found in the sidebar.
A reciprocal listing would be appreciated, feel free to copy the post to your blog.


The Mumpsimus Blog

The Rural Canadian

Farmer Ryan's Blog

Mr Writer

Shane Jolley


The South Bruce Peninsular

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Political Games

I was trying to avoid comment upon the budget, there is already so much commentary circulating the net as to make it more confusing than it already is, besides whatever WE say will have little effect anyway. I will however comment upon the REACTION to the budget, particularly that from our opposition leaders. Jack Layton’s attack dog comments regarding the Liberal position was bad enough, but now to learn that he has taken a leaf from the Conservative manual and produced advertisements doing the same, leaves me shaking my head. Not attacking the budget or the government mind you but attacking one of the other opposition partys that just a few days ago they were encouraging to form a government with!

The Liberals were I will agree just a little to easy upon the budget and should perhaps have proposed more amendments, but I do see their point, if such amendments were not supported by the rest of the opposition then what, dammed if you do and dammed if you don’t. Layton did clearly say that he would not support any amendments, saying that to do so would give legitimacy the budget, so he wanted a taste of power or nothing. There is little doubt that the Liberals have decided to let Harper wear the problems that we will see in the next while with a view to increasing their popularity down the road. I cannot strongly disagree with this given my desire to make sure that the Conservatives are reduced to a much less influential position next time, but are they also more concerned for the party than the people? Probably.

The Conservatives continue to play the games at which they are so adept, the budget which was basically forced upon them by the threat of defeat by the coalition contained just enough to keep the liberals at bay and their own party not totally alienated. In point of fact the only good thing about it is that both “right” and “left” sides are equally pissed off so it is perhaps middle of the road. I do not believe for one moment that the figures given out by the government will prove accurate or that all of the commitments will be met. The spin will continue to raise so much dust that few if any will be able to see the real picture and thus little has changed.

It is a sad day indeed when the only leader I can have any respect for is one who’s avid intent is to split up the country, but the Bloc leader is at least consistent and honest with his intention. He rarely does the attack dog thing and compared with the rest looks like a real leader! Oh how I wish we had a few Greens in the house to give us a rest from these partisan politics, they are looking better and better each day with their concern for our democratic process, their concern for open dialog and their concern for our planet, their platform aint too shabby either!

Thank you Jack, I am now off the fence and it’s a lot greener on this side.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Green Stimulus Package

The Green party has produced their own proposal for a stimulus package, a few extracts (the ones I particularly like) are shown below. The full document can be viewed at http://www.greenparty.ca/stimulus-package

Establish a federally funded Small Cities Green Venture Capital Fund to support viable local green business start-ups.

Provide assistance to family farms so they can supply supermarket chains by supporting companies or co-operatives which will offer warehousing, refrigeration, packaging, marketing and selling to enable small farms to compete with large farms.

Support new capital investment in updated manufacturing equipment, waste reduction, and the production of biofuel from wood waste and new manufacturing to transition the forest industry into modern value-added industry as opposed to a focus on low value products and raw log exports.

Improve rail infrastructure and intermodal connections, increasing joint federal-municipal light rail investments, as well as improving VIA rail service nationwide. Build separate passenger rail lines where needed from coast to coast in addition to the existing freight rail line and install high speed commuter trains between Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa to reduce air travel and assist an efficient workforce.

Establish a fund to provide emergency bridging distress loans to help people avoid foreclosure on their mortgages and enable them to restructure their mortgages.

Whilst I don’t agree with it all (you cannot please all of the people all of the time anyway) there is little that I realy object to. Whether it is viable in a finantial sense is something folks far more informed than I would have to decide. We know its not going to happen right now but it is still well worth the read, we need all the good ideas we can get.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Throne Speach double speak

Just a few extracts from the throne speech, what was said and what was not said…..

They want a government that sets clear goals and delivers concrete results. A government that is accountable. But as we have clearly demonstrated that government is not us, we will not be held accountable for our actions, we will do everything in our power to stop any inquiries into our previous actions.

Strengthening Canada's Sovereignty and Place in the World
Our government will bring forward an integrated northern strategy focused on strengthening Canada's sovereignty…. New arctic patrol ships and expanded aerial surveillance will guard Canada's Far North and the Northwest Passage. However we have just canceled the call for tenders for new ships for artic patrol and will therefore be funding a fleet of Inuit kayaks.

To ensure that our institutions reflect our shared commitment to democracy, our government will continue its agenda of democratic reform by reintroducing important pieces of legislation from the last session, including direct consultations with voters on the selection of senators and limitations on their tenure. However the senators that I just appointed will not be included in these reforms because I want mostly Conservatives in the senate so that I can get my own way.

Our government will recognize the views of farmers, as expressed in the recent plebiscite on barley, by enacting marketing choice. But the farmers are wrong about the wheat board so we will continue to try and stack the voting to block the farmers wishes.

Climate change is a global issue and requires a global solution. Our government believes strongly that an effective global approach to greenhouse gas emissions must have binding targets that apply to all major emitters, including Canada. Canada has already engaged the international community at APEC, the G8 and the United Nations and will continue to press for a new international agreement that cuts global emissions in half by 2050. Any attempt to come to a consensus that does not 100% agree with our position will be blocked, we will vote against such initiates because we then might have to actually do something.

Trust this lot, I think not, the proof is right there in the throne speech!

WOOPS, as Cristal points out that was the speech from the last parliment, what, just a little over two month ago, however the commentry is still valid! The new one says nothing so we will have to wait for the buget speech!

Full text if this years here http://www.sft-ddt.gc.ca/eng/media.asp?id=1384

Everlasting Winter

I am not sure at this point what is more depressing, following federal politics or looking out the window! The depressing part is that we can do nothing about improving either in the short term, the good thing is that the snow and cold will go away given time, the political winter I’m not so sure about.
Here just east of the great lakes it seems like forever since we have had any amount of sun, the forecast says sunny and cold but the best we seem to get is bright overcast which just does not seem to have the same effect as bright sun. I have been trying to get my soil and seed trays ready for early seeding in the hotbed but need a couple of days of sun on the greenhouse to get the temperature up to the point where it is fit to work in. I find my ambition to do anything comes and goes exactly in correlation with the amount of sun we get, I am sure some quack will have a “syndrome” name for it but for me its just the promise of spring getting my hopes up followed by the realization that it aint gona happen anytime soon.
Judging from the wood, or more correctly the lack thereof, in the wood shed it has been a cold and dreary winter so far, I can see that by March we will be dragging wood in from next years supply still sitting out by the barn under a pile of snow. Seems I can never get enough cut, each year I say “I think we are ahead of the game this year” only to find by spring that our efforts in the bush were not quite in line with our winter fire feeding efforts! Cutting the stuff aint bad its getting the right conditions to haul it out without destroying the undergrowth or getting the tractor stuck, too wet, too dry, flowers and ferns are just showing ……or maybe its just excuses to not work. Still right now I wish we could get back there and do something, I forecast a surge of ambition come spring!

The political and economic forecast is not so good ……. Squalls and damaging winds with no chance of improvements for the foreseeable future. Residents are advised to hunker down and ensure their survival supplies are stocked up.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Obama V Harper

“In the House and Senate” is another one of those blogs that often hits the nail right on the head, and the following sure make the necessary comparison between what can be done and what is being done better than I could. Which is why I have reproduced a large portion of that post here.

In order to be the emphatic type of leader Obama seems to be, a leader needs empathy. Harper has none.

Let’s take a moment to compare these two men -In two and a half days, since being inaugurated, Obama managed, among other things, to: impose new rules on government transparency and ethics; signed executive orders directing the Central Intelligence Agency to shut what remains of its network of secret prisons and ordering the closing of the Guantánamo detention camp within a year; named a pair of hard-nosed negotiators as special envoys to Afghanistan and Pakistan; freeze the salaries of his senior aides, mandate new limits on lobbyists and demand that the government disclose more information as well as repealed a Bush executive order that allowed former presidents or their heirs to claim executive privilege in an effort to keep records secret; sign an order to close Guantanamo in a year; halt Khadr’s trial; inspire people all around the world, and still have time for numerous photo ops.

Since being re-elected in October, Steve has presented a vague throne speech, a fiscal update so unpalatable that it would have ousted him from power had he not hidden behind the GG’s skirts, and prorogued Parliament, having sat for only a couple of days of the last 230 something.

Despite being MIA, he managed to break several election promises - appointing more senators in one shot than any other Prime Misiter; failing to live up to his listeriosis probe promises; appointing a supreme court justice without the promised appointment board; shelving a report on how EI could help older workers facing forced retirement, to name but a few.

While Obama has inspired hope not only at home but all over the world, Harper has eroded Canada’s national and international standing on human rights, the death penalty, torture, food safety, product safety, access to information, environmental issues, aboriginal rights, and sound, fiscal management.


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Deficit ever increasing

In a new analysis posted on his website, parliamentary budget officer Kevin Page says the federal government will rack up between $46 billion and $105 billion in new debt over the next five years, even before Finance Minister Jim Flaherty introduces massive new stimulus spending on Tuesday.
Tip o the hat to impolitical for this one.

Given the probable spin and BS we will no doubt be subject to over the next couple of weeks as the Harper regime tries to sell its budget this report should be required reading for all of us.

Any move to stop Mr Page from publicly publishing his reports must be resisted, he remains one of the few checks we have upon government misinformation. I just hope that Harper will take notice of Obamas moves towards being “open and accountable” and how quickly things can be changed for the better on that score when there is a desire within government to do so.

It is difficult to summarize this report but the final couple of paragraphs perhaps cuts to the chase best….

To-date the Government’s fiscal policy framework has been based on a combination of
several stated fiscal targets over differing time horizons:
– Short-term: Balanced budgets or better annually;
– Medium-term: 25% federal debt-to-GDP ratio by 2011-12, and non-increasing program spending relative to nominal GDP; and,
- Long-term: Eliminate net total government debt by 2021.

As the PBO’s November 2008 EFA report highlighted, and a concern that is even more acute now, the weakened global and Canadian economic outlook poses a significant challenge for the Government to achieve its stated short-term and medium-term fiscal targets. Which of these targets will be re-stated, will some be re-affirmed, or replaced with new policy targets?

The current economic slowdown is global. As such, there are many external influences beyond the control of Canadian policymakers that will impact Canadian economic growth and fiscal finances. Further, PBO analysis suggests that for the Government to return to a surplus position over the next five years, contractionary measures (i.e., additional spending restraint and/or increased taxes) would have to be taken which would dampen the effectiveness of automatic fiscal stabilizers while the economy remains well below its potential capacity.

Will the Government provide a transparent medium-term fiscal plan that addresses the projected weakness in the economy and supports a meaningful recovery towards the economy's potential level of activity without limiting the Government's fiscal capacity to respond to future spending pressures arising from population ageing?

Edit – Then there is this from Canwest, there seems to be a slight disagreement on this, but whats a few billion dollars here or there!

OTTAWA -- Canada will post an overall deficit of $34-billion next year and $30-billion the following year before returning to surplus in five years, the Prime Minister's Office said Thursday.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A change in direction.

Much will be written on Presidents Obamas Inaugural speech in the next little while by folks far more qualified than I, I will merely post these few excerpts that struck a chord with me……….

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics……………

.The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act - not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. ………………

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint………….

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it…………….

The full text of the speech may be found at

Then there is this from the new White House BLOG…………

President Obama has committed to making his administration the most open and transparent in history, and WhiteHouse.gov will play a major role in delivering on that promise. The President's executive orders and proclamations will be published for everyone to review………………

Citizen participation will be a priority for the Administration, and the internet will play an important role in that. One significant addition to WhiteHouse.gov reflects a campaign promise from the President: we will publish all non-emergency legislation to the website for five days, and allow the public to review and comment before the President signs it……………….


Now THAT’S open and accountable governance!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Its not about Money?

OTTAWA — On Dec. 5, the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario, citing a proposed increase in teachers’ supervision time and plans to allow principals to direct their planning time, turned down a contract offer that would have given them smaller class sizes, more preparation time and a 12-per-cent pay increase over four years.
On that same day, a beleaguered General Motors announced that it was shutting down the third shift at its Oshawa plant, throwing 700 employees out of work.
Five days later, on Dec. 10, OC Transpo workers here in Ottawa went on strike over scheduling differences.
Also on Dec. 10, Toyota announced output cutbacks at two Canadian plants, while FNX Mining suspended nickel-ore production in Sudbury, a move that affected 307 workers.
Another mining giant, Rio Tinto, promised that day to eliminate 14,000 jobs, while Office Depot announced plans to close 112 stores.
And six days ago, on Jan. 7, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union rejected a government offer that contained a punitive provision for provincial Correctional Services members with excessive sick time, and asked them instead to vote to strike.
That was the same day that the Toronto-Dominion Bank’s chief economist, Don Drummond, reacting to reports of 100,000 jobs lost in Canada in November and December, predicted that the country’s economic forecast for the first half of 2009 looked “pretty terrible.”

The article goes on to say that most of these strikes seem to about control not money. I would tend to agree with that except that it would seem that it not so much about control in the workplace but control by the union. Looking at these things from the outside with only the spin from the unions to go by it seems that many of these failures to come to an agreement are simply arguments for arguments sake. “I Am right”…”No I am right”. That these folks have, in most cases, been “negotiating” for months indicates that one side or the other or both simply cannot or will not compromise. Naturally both sides blame the other.
I will just say this. It seems strange (but not unexpected or unusual) that all these union members are a) Paid out of the public purse. b) Have a relatively secure job. c) Are paid above average wage. d) Receive above average benefits.

My message to those paid from the public purse who don’t like their job or working conditions is this:- Give me a break, my pockets are empty, my patience for those with good secure job wanting MORE or BETTER is at an end. Shut the hell up, go back to work and get on with it. Be thankfull you have you have ANY income, many do not!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Our Government at work!

Peter MacKay announced yesterday that Canada's Govt. has awarded a contract to a U.S. company named Navistar for 1,300 logistic trucks for the military……adding no Canadian company was able to meet all the requirements of the Canadian Forces.

The Canadian military will buy 1,300 militarized trucks from Navistar International (NAV.N) unit Navistar Defence LLC, Warrenville, Ill. for C$274 million ($230 million), Defence Minister Peter MacKay said on Friday. He said in a statement the off-the-shelf vehicles will be the logistics backbone of the army. The trucks will be delivered by the company over an 18-month period starting this summer. Representatives for Navistar said they are required by the contract to spend $274 million over the next seven years on goods and products from Canadian companies. For instance, the tires on the vehicles will be manufactured by Michelin in Nova Scotia.

The Canadian Forces in the Maritimes will receive 302 vehicles, Quebec 262, Ontario 398 and the West will get 338 trucks.

The sputtering Navistar truck plant in Chatham is cutting another 200 jobs, raising worker concerns that it could close altogether. The reduction on March 1 will jack up the number of workers on layoff at the plant to more than 1,000 and has left union leaders questioning the plant's future now that there are fewer than 200 workers remaining.

So Navistar was able to build heavy commercial trucks for domestic on the road use in its Canadian plant but apparently this plant cannot build army trucks for domestic use? But lets be fair we get to supply the tires made in Canada by another multinational corporation and having spent $274 million this year, get some of it back over SEVEN years, probably in at least some “goods and services” from Navistar in Chatham, if it still exists by then!