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 23, 2010

No Prorouge Rally

Please visit http://picasaweb.google.com/ruralpic/OwenSoundRally# for a few pics of the Owen Sound Rally. Due to my 28k connect speed they are not HQ but if you want one in a better quality contact me.

The rally against proroguing parliament in Owen Sound had about 250 – 300 citizens out in front of MP Larry Millers office to hear speakers from various individuals, political parties (no Mr Miller though!) and labour organizations speak to the distain that the Harper regime has shown for our democratic institutions. The point that was made by all was that this is not about political partisan views but about our parliamentary democracy and accountability of the government to that institution.

The highlight of the whole rally was however a young fellow who in conversations with organizers just as folks gathered impressed them so much that they said “would you like to say a few words to the crowd?”, having said that he would, he then went on to speak passionately and without preparation or notes about the current situation in Ottawa and the need for citizens to get involved.

He received the greatest ovation from the crowd of all the speakers and was almost mobbed by the several press representatives present after he had spoke. I suspect his name will be prominent in the local news tomorrow and I will update this post with links to appropriate articles as they become available.

I spoke briefly to him between interviews and he said how hard it was to not become depressed by the feeling of helplessness in effecting change but that this rally had given him much hope. I invited him to contact me should he wish to put some of his views and ideas into a post for my blog Democracy Under Fire and I truly hope that he contacts me. The future of Canada rests in our youth and this young man is one who this old fart would be glad to see have a large part in our future governance.

Update – Here is a link to the Sun Times article on the Owen Sound Rally

The speakers were labour leaders, community activists, former and current political candidates and student Jon Farmer, 19, who said he is "an anti-party person myself." Asked just minutes before taking the megaphone if he would give his youth perspective at the gathering, Farmer spoke off the cuff about his disappointment in Harper, Miller and the "broken" system.
"We're only the start," Farmer said. "Because we care, it's our responsibility to make sure people keep talking about what is happening. Our parliamentary system is broken down right now, it may even be rotten from the inside out."

Well said Jon, you are welcome to express your views here or at the blog http://democracyunderfire.blogspot.com/ - Democracy requires dialog, please join us!

UPDATE – For those with high speed here is a link to Jon speaking at the rally

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Real Milk IS ok!

Michael Schmidt is acquitted on 19 Charges today in Newmarket court.

I think it's great news to see that over bearing government interference has been beaten back in the case of Michael Schmidt, charged with the illegal sale and distribution of raw milk and raw milk products.Sure raw milk CAN occasionally produce illness if contaminated but man has lived on this product for 1000s of years and survived, Mr Schmidt has never had anyone complain of illness and some of the best damn cheeses in the world are made with raw milk. This is a case of over zealous government policy attempting to interfere with educated peoples right to consume healthy whole food. It's not as if he's selling it as pasteurized when it's not. These consumers are more than eager to pay a premium for what they consider a more natural and healthy product, which should be their right. It also should be available without having join Mr Schmidt's brilliant but ridiculous Cow Share program. Who needs this grief just to buy a jug of milk!

I think the government needs to spend more time monitoring the filth in factory farms and meat packing plants and leave proven safe vendors of raw milk alone.

Thanx to G A B

Saturday, January 16, 2010

No Prorogue Rally

Our local MP Larry Miller says he supports the PM in shutting down parliament and that to do so to avoid criticism is “normal”, further that Canadians “don’t care” about the Afghan detainee issue. Democracy as we know it is dependent upon our elected representatives, both those in power and those in opposition, being “open and accountable”. Our parliamentary processes are where much of the checks and balances take place and the arbitrary suspension of the House is but the latest of a long string of actions by the Harper regime to undermine those processes.

Hundreds of thousands of Canadians across the country have expressed their concern on the Facebook Group Page , in blogs, in letters to the editor, in letters and emails to their MPs and in conversations with their friends and neighbors. Next Saturday there will a number of rallies across the country to show that we DO CARE and that Proroguing Parliament for partisan purposes IS NOT ACCEPTABLE

Locally the rally will take place as follows, show you care about our democracy and be there to let Mr Miller and the Harper regime know that they are not going to get away with it this time.

Date: Saturday, January 23Time: 1:00 – 4:00 pmLocation: 1131 2nd Avenue East in front of our conservative M.P.’s (Larry Miller) office




Information for the over 50 rallys in other cities across Canada can be found on the Facebook Event Page and in the side bar at No Prorouge

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Well done Councilors

As I have said before I am a supporter of wind power….. in the right place and at the right price. BUT the heath problems, property value and visual impacts upon local residents MUST be addressed before these large corporate wind farm installations are approved. The environmental assessment process must be fully reinstated to protect local residents and local councils must have the ability to make the final decision on the projects not senior levels of government remote from the local area impacted.

So thank you to all these municipal councils and more particularly my own council in Chatsworth.

Township of Chatsworth Resolution:

WHEREAS there are concerns about the impact of adverse health effects, caused by large scale wind turbines,
AND WHEREAS it appears that no third party independent review of the impact of these adverse health effects has been completed.
NOW THEREFORE be it resolved that the Township of Chatsworth support MPP Bill Murdoch’s Private Members Bill imposing a moratorium on new construction of wind turbines untill such time as the Medical Officer Of Health for Ontario has deemed that there are no health issues caused by large wind turbines;
AND FURTHER that the Township of Chatsworth not support construction of any large scale commercial wind turbines within the Township until such time as a third party independent study has determined that there are no health risks caused by the said wind turbines

42 other municipalities have also enacted similar resoulutions including Town of the Blue Mountain, Bruce and Huron Counties, and Grey Highlands as shown below.

Resolution from the Grey Highlands Council:

RE: Removal of local land use planning controls for renewable energy facilities
“WHEREAS , the Municipality of Grey Highlands is concerned that the removal of local land use planning controls for renewable energy facilities will have a detrimental effect on the Municipality;
AND WHEREAS, the passage of Bill 150 will limit the ability of the Municipality to provide meaningful comment and participation in the placement of wind and other renewable energy facilities with the removal of power under the Planning Act;
AND WHEREAS, without powers under the Planning Act, the Municipality will no longer be able to require Agreements related to access, landscaping, and securities for renewable energy projects;
AND WHEREAS, the Municipality will no longer be able to address the needs of the local area in such an Agreement.
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT, the Municipality of Grey Highlands requests that the Province undertake a comprehensive review of the potential health and land use impacts (including property values) to the General Public associated with the placement of all Renewable Energy Facilities; and review the proposal to remove local land use planning controls under the Planning Act through Bill 150.”


Friday, January 8, 2010

The Price of Hydro

Like so many others I generally support the move towards self-sufficiency whist at the same time reducing our impact upon our environment but have to question some of the decisions made regarding “green power”. Setting aside for now the visual impact that wind farms have upon our countryside and the unproved (unresearched) impact that the turbines have upon nearby (largely rural) residents and the questionable placement of large solar arrays over arable land, setting aside the fact that neither wind power or solar is a 24hr a day 7 day a week means of generation, let us instead look at the costs that consumers must eventual pay.

This from a Globe and Mail article recently-

“The average market price for electricity in Ontario is at its lowest level since the market was opened up in 2002. It was 3.3 cents a kilowatt hour yesterday, compared with a record high average of 9.97 cents in September, 2005. But customers are not reaping the benefits of lower prices because the government is recovering the cost of new projects from power users.”
“The Ontario Power Authority, the government’s planning arm, says it managed 47 large-scale electricity supply contracts worth a total of $14.1-billion last year. Contract holders receive a fixed price over 20 years for the electricity they produce – 13.5 cents a kilowatt hour for on-shore wind farms and up to 80.2 cents for solar power. While wind and solar make up only a small portion of electricity supply today, the rates are well above the average of 4.5 cents that government-owned Ontario Power Generation receives for most of its electricity output.”

One of the arguments that opponents of nuclear power make is the high cost of building and maintaining nuclear generation facilities but even taking into consideration that “debt repayment” bit we see on our hydro bills the cost is nowhere near the fixed price being offered the private corporations to “encourage” them to build new wind or solar facilities. Given the glut of applications for wind farms (to the dismay of most of those impacted by these installations) the price must indeed be generous and more than pay for the investment!

There is little doubt that consumer prices for hydro are going to rise, in fact once time of day metering is instituted this summer in most areas of Ontario daytime prices will approximately double. This is still well below the “cost” of wind power and not even in the same ballpark as solar. Look at it this way, “cheap” nuclear power is subsidizing the “expensive” wind and solar power in that the price you pay is the “average market price” and if other forms of generation were receiving the same as say wind power corporations we would all be paying approximately FOUR TIMES as much for our hydro. To those who want to do away with nuclear power and rely entirely upon “renewable resources” I say beware what you wish for.

Just to be clear I support the use of wind generation to supplement nuclear or hydroelectric when such installations are placed away from residential areas (that includes rural residences) such as offshore or other unpopulated places. I support the use of solar power, expensive as the installations may be, on roof tops and individual homes provided that such thing can be done at a reasonable competitive price, but the go green at any price is not to my mind “sustainable”!

Friday, January 1, 2010

The PBO Report on the Infrastructure Spending

The PBO recently released this report which shows where the ISF (Infrastructure Stimulus Fund) is going and how much has flowed (insofar as he is able to track it). Couple of things of note – Value of approved projects 4.7 billion, Federal portion 1.7 billion, work done to date just 345 million, actual cash that has flowed 23 million (includes provincial share).
So after almost one year less than 1% of the “stimulus” has reached the pockets of any taxpayers – as of Sept 2009! (1,700,000 divided by 23,000 / 2)

Some extract from the report (2mb pdf) are shown below. The report also includes individual reports for each province.

The principal objectives of the ISF were to stimulate economic growth and “to create jobs”. The government has yet to provide a performance reporting framework to assess the success of the ISF in achieving these objectives.

The PBO has received basic project data on all of the ISF projects approved as of September 22, 2009, as well as the first set of quarterly recipient progress reports as of September 30, 2009, and has undertaken an assessment of these datasets.

The September data indicate approved applications totalling 3,035 projects in Canada valued at $7.4 billion with an average value of $2.5 million per project. The total approved federal contribution from the ISF is indicated to be $2.8 billion. With regard to the type of projects, more than two thirds of the money has been dedicated to projects related to highway and regional transit, local roads, water and wastewater.

The first dataset (the applications dataset) was received by PBO on November 6, 2009, and contains application information from 3,035 individual projects in all provinces and territories for which applications had been approved as of September 22, 2009.

The second dataset (approved claims dataset) was received by PBO on November 20, 2009 and includes data on 1,643 of the 3,035 projects identified in the first dataset, for 9 provinces (data for Quebec is unavailable) and 3 territories for which claims reports were filed.