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.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Response the Ontario Budget

In response to the NDP request for public input into the proposed Ontario Liberal budget I offered the following. You can have your say at http://www.ondpcaucus.com/yoursay/index.php#form

Whilst each of us may have a different view of where to cut cots or increase income there is little doubt that the fiscal imbalance must be addressed, forcing an election over the semantics of what to cut or tax is simply unacceptable. It merely delays the inevitable and adds addition expenditures to an already struggling economy.

The Conservative knee jerk reaction of saying without even taking time to offer alternatives or positive criticism that they will not support the budget can only be called irresponsible and a typical partisan response. I urge the NDP to offer alternatives to those portions of the budget with which they disagree and attempt to come to some consensus and / or offer other means to reduce the burden upon future taxpayers.

With regard to the Public Service wage freeze I believe that government has no choice in this regard given the major part of the expenditures that goes to wages and benefits to public employees. Most of these employees fall in the $40,000 to $80,000 range and have benefits (including pension plans) which most of us can only dream off. Those who fall below the $40,000 threshold (and many nearer $20,000 or even less, including our family! ) are sick and tired of hearing the annual whining by these unionized above average paid workers for more, more more! We have long ago reconciled ourselves to doing with less in an economy where daily costs keep rising despite the ever increasing difficulty of keeping or finding a job. That’s reality OPSU and others unionized PSW, get used to it we cannot afford to keep paying for your very comfortable life style.

None of the above detract from the fact that those above $80,000 or so can, and must, increase their contribution to the public purse and in particular those in upper levels of management, CEOs, Board & Commission Chairs and the like where salaries and bonuses often reach obscene levels.
In short, we must all share the pain but those that have hitherto seen little impact of the ongoing 'downturn' must now also do their share. Forcing an election however will not accomplish any of this for no matter what the outcome the fiscal situation will not change but simply become worse in the interim.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Early Flowers

We just took a gentle hike around our woodland trails and whilst we expected to see the wild Leeks to be up trough we did not expect to see many woodland flowers out yet. The recent unprecedented hot spell with temperatures 20c or more above 'normal' for almost a week not only has us wondering what time of year it is but apparently has ma nature a little confused as well.
During our stroll we not only saw massive clumps of Hepatica in flower which are always one of the first flowers to be seen but also Yellow, Long-spurred and Dog Violets as well as Bloodroot in flower. This is at least 4 weeks early and some of the Violets often don’t show until early May! We also saw Blue Cohosh, Toothwort and Showy Ochhid starting to leaf out.
The Song Sparrow has been here for several weeks as has the Robin and we saw a Bluebird passing through just a few days ago, these guys are also two to four weeks earlier than we have seen them before. Sure its a little cooler this week with frost forecast for a couple of nights which is 'seasonal normal' but this is nuts, I am usually just starting a few perennials and tomatoes in my heated propagator about now ready to put out late May, the way things are going I am starting to wonder if I should be direct sowing outside instead.
Argue about Global Warming all you like, all I know is we have busted every temperature record on the books this month and not by just a little bit, Ma Nature says its already time for spring colours and birdsong and I for one am not displeased with her early presentation.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Hot, Hot, Hot

As it hits 29.5 here in SW Ontario I start to understand those in the south survive the heat, this is probably my first experience of these kind of temperatures with little humidity, we usually have humidity of 85% or so with these temps. It actually quite pleasant to sit out in the shade and do nothing. I am NOT going to go out in the sun and work up a sweat however, even at 50% humidity.
With it this hot however even a cold beer does not seem to cut it, and an iced rum could lead to all kinds of bad things if it 'tastes good' and 'feels like another! SO, having made some sparkling cider for the first time last fall I figured it was a really good time to test it...... OH, WOW! This is defiantly on my to do list for the fall, clear with little sediment, just a little sharp, and enough sparkle to make it interesting.....but after half a glass I was thinking the rum may have been a better choice! Best cider I have imbibed since visiting Somerset in Jolly Old Great Britain and getting totally tanked on 'Scrumpy'. Perhaps not the best drink to cool one off on an August day in March but Woooowww, it does taste like another and did hit the spot but methinks I had best wait awhile before 'retesting!

Ok.... shared a second one with my son and it went down just fine but now having trouble with my typing and the arthritis must be kicking in as I am walking right funny....thank you spell check - or you guys would figure I was inebriated or something, only 10 corrections in that paragraph, time to stop writing....

Have a great summer in spring, tornadoes in March, floods in winter or whatever your particular weird weather is bringing you.....

After all there is NO climate change!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Its not all Idyllic & Rosy

I live out in the country side for a reason, I love the ability to stroll my nature trail any time I feel like it, I love watching the birds and flowers come and go with the seasons, I love the quiet that allows me to hear those first birds of spring long before I see them. It is indeed an idyllic existence in some ways and at some times, but it is not always so. Being on good terms with ones neighbor is particularly important for most of us who live in rural areas, whist the property lines may be further apart than in urban areas the guy next door, be it 300ft away or 3km away, is your best friend in the case of need. Thus it is hard to infringe upon the neighbours use of his property or the daily activities that take place up the road, we tend to be tolerant of chain saws running, of noisy farm machinery taking in crops and even of tractors or 4wheelers running around gathering wood or checking the cattle fences. These things are necessary operations and rarely can be heard for more than an hour or so, we make our fair share of noise here at times, cutting the acre or so of grass, getting our own and customers equipment running correctly, cussing the weedeater that wont start and so on. BUT the last couple of years I have been increasingly intolerant of my nearest neighbors activities, or to be more precise his sons activities.

The lad across the road, now about 10 or so, saw another neighbors kids who only visit their next door Canadian property a few times a year (fortunately), on their dirt bikes and 4wheelers and with the help of his dad got hooked!
Now I don’t want to spoil any kids 'fun' but listening to dirt bikes and 4wheelers roar around 300 feet away for hours is not my favorite way of spending an afternoon relaxing outside in this exceptional warm March weather. Fortunately his wheels of choice have (or had) a reasonable muffler on it which if he didn’t persist in roaring around in the front yard (rather than the back 20 acres where it would be audible but not so annoying) would be bearable. However it seems that after a couple of years of this he now has 'friends' with similar toys, one of which is a dirt bike of the 'if its has no muffler it must go faster' type. Today rather than sit outside and listen to the birds I was forced to listen to the new motocross venue 300 or 400 feet away for almost 3 hours, to say I was not impressed would be putting it mildly!

My neighbour and I get along fairly well, he keeps an eye on my property whist I am away and I keep an eye on his, we each respect each other privacy and help each other out when needed...... and thats the way I want to keep it. So its going to be a difficult conversation when next we meet, how to point out that had I wanted to live next to a race track I could have purchased a property down the road in Varney next to one, how I don’t want to spoil the kids fun but that such activity (replete with noisy or non existent mufflers) is intolerable for me, how perhaps limiting the activity to the back 40 rather than closer to our residence would help, and how quiet rural neighbourhood are not the place for motocross bikes with straight through exhausts.

Its a conversation that it was good NOT to have this afternoon because after several hours of screaming exhaust noise I was ready to kill, and the conversation would have included a number of explicit descriptions of my thoughts about kids, dirt bikes, noisy neighbours and respect or the lack thereof.

At this point I can only hope that this motocross afternoon was a one off, I am not holding my breath at this point but if it occurs again then that difficult conversation will become a high priority....... if I don’t totally loose it first at tell them exactly where to stick their dirt bike!

Its not all sun and roses out here.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

GPC Launches Robogate.ca

During the 2011 federal election, Canadians in many targeted ridings across the country were contacted by automated calls (robocalls) and individuals providing false and misleading information.
These offensive tactics were deliberately used to weaken Canada's electoral process, discourage people from participating in our democratic system, and in some cases preventing people from voting.. These actions are crimes, under the Elections Act.  The extent of the black ops political interference may rise to the level of election fraud.  
The existence of a well-orchestrated, complex and extensive scheme to interfere with the right of Canadians to vote is far more serious than the sponsorship scandal.  
Since this story broke on February 23rd we have received over 12,000 emails from concerned Canadians on this issue.  This attack upon our cherished democratic institutions demands an immediate response. 
Last May, Elizabeth submitted a formal complaint to the Commissioner of Canada Elections regarding the numerous complaints she received in regards to fraudulent robo-calls.
On Monday, Elizabeth May rose in the House to request an emergency debate on this issue. Though this request was denied Elizabeth remains a vocal and informed voice on this issue in the media calling for a formal independent inquiry and changes to our electoral system.
March 3rd, Elizabeth joined Toronto-Danforth by-election candidate Adriana Mugnatto-Hamu for a press conference to outline the Green Cleaning Solutions for Dirty Politics
As part of this plan the Green Party suggests that the resources and powers of investigation for Elections Canada be expanded and rules added to the Elections Act to specifically prohibit impersonation of any government body or political party in phoning or communicating by any means with voters. In addition, Elections Canada investigations must be completed in a speedier fashion.
Today we launch our own campaign to allow the voice of Canadians to be heard on this critical issue.
Robogate.ca will help Elizabeth May turn up the heat on the Conservatives to call an independent inquiry into this scandal.
Here’s how you can help:
  • Report your experience with Robocalls.
  • Sign the petition calling for a full independent public inquiry.
  • Share the page on your social networks.
Here’s what Robogate.ca will do:
  • Engage Canadians to speak out on this issue and demand a public inquiry;
  • Keep people informed about the investigation and provide all the latest developments;
  • Provide evidence of the election fraud as the investigation unfolds;
  • Enable Elizabeth May, Member of Parliament for Saanich-Gulf Islands and Leader of the Green Party of Canada to demand a public inquiry in the House of Commons by tabling petitions. 
Tune in to hear the latest from the Hill, as well as media from around the country.
Further information and ongoing insight into this Election Fraud can be found at Democracy Under Fire, The Sixth Estate, and many other news and blog sites on-line.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Lying Cheats or Cheating Liars?

Despite all the efforts to deflect the allegations of electoral manipulation it is now pretty clear that thousands of phone calls were made, both automated and from 'call centers' during the last election specifically designed to piss folks off enough that they would fail to vote. Whether they misdirected voters to a non existent poll location by pretending to be from Elections Canada or harassed folks late at night pretending to be an obnoxious Liberal or NDP caller it also seems pretty clear that said calls were aimed at anyone but Conservative supporters. The spin emerging from that party, who lets face it are the masters of spin and have an ever increasing department dedicated to producing it, is starting to fall apart, the lies are floating to the surface of the scum that passes for accountability these days.

I will not here even try and detail all the revelations over the last week or so, you may have seen SOME references to them in the MSM but for the most part that is only part of the picture, our on line community are gathering vast amounts of information yet to hit the evening news. Whilst you may have heard about the 31,000 complaints that EC has received (a massive increase over any previous volume) you may not have seen all the riding where citizens and opposition partys have come forward with allegations of wrongdoing, that currently being 77 riding and climbing daily. See the Sixth Estate list for an up to date list with links.

Over on my other blog at Democracy Under Fire I have added a permanent page where I will try and keep up with the major developments in this affront to our democracy. Only public pressure will get to the bottom of this, the Harper Regime has to date shown no willingness to commission a full public inquiry (hardy surprising given their distaste for ANY factual information on anything) and Elections Canada do not seem to to have the resources or the urgency needed having taken till now to reveal that they were 'investigating' complaints from just one riding (Guelph) and still have no real 'evidence' as to the perpetrators.

If you received such a call or are aware of any other interference with the election process it is not to late to make a complaint to Elections Canada or simply add to the Sixth Estate's database of fraudulent calls. This is Canada not one of those countries where a dictator fixes the election to suit his own needs...... or then again, maybe it is!