Sunday, January 15, 2017

I am a Card Carrying Member of the Human Party

Spoiler alert: This is NOT a political post!

I may  scream my liberal thoughts, toot my conservative horn, or even show my socialist colours. But I AM a member of the "Humanist party". If we all could step back and drop our fathers ideology of rooting for OUR team and our team only, then we might come to a simple fact: We are all members of the same  Two-Legged tribe.

Colour me different if I support a leader that promotes equality, takes care of those in need  and provides a open and competitive marketplace for all to prosper to wish to, and all to get help when needed.
Colour me in a just plain shade of weird if you must, as I declare publicly that I am NOT against taxation. What concerns me more is how our money is spent.

Canadians got their knickers in a knot over our PM who recently spent his vacation time being helicopter ferried to a Billionaires Island lair. The media (read National Post) had a field day screaming to it's readers that "Possible violation of federal law as Trudeau admits he used Aga Khan’s private helicopter". 
Apparently getting picked up by your host in a helicopter is violation of some sort of law. I am not a legal scholar, nor do I intend to mine the legal tomes in search of this wrong. What I do know is this: To those with wads of money, getting picked up in a helicopter to take you to their private Island is akin to you or I dear reader of flagging a Uber on our smartie pants phone to take us to our Aunt Maria's 80th birthday. I do not condone this trip by any means. What upsets me is the uproar the NP has caused.
Oddly enough,this same publication failed to mention in the last 6 years:

1. The fake lake

The Harper government built  a $2-million tourism pavilion at the 2010 G8/G20 summit media centre in Toronto, which  which included a fake lake that simulates Ontario’s cottage country. The Conservatives spent a record $1.1 billion hosting the events, including $160 million in hospitality, food, security, and infrastructure bills.
If I ran the National Post I would be first to label this $1.1 Billion expenditure as “obscene, “unprecedented,” and a “poor example” of government spending. I hoped we would see responsible government spending, as all Canadian did, but all we got in this boondoggle was a fake lake and some expensive lawn furniture that is still rusting away.

2. The photo op

Taxpayers funded $47,500 for a 2010 Tory press conference during which then-Defence Minister Peter MacKay posed for a “hero shot” in a fake F-35 fighter jet built by manufacturer Lockheed Martin, which was brought in from Texas for the special event.Yet we post venom vigorously and continually  if our current PM posts a "selfie", which last I checked costs us fuck all!

3. Fighting sick mothers

From 2012-2015, the Conservative government spent more than $1.3 million  trying to prevent new mothers who fell seriously ill during maternity leave from collecting disability benefits in addition to the employment insurance (EI) currently paid to new parents.
According to The Globe and Mail, two Calgary women launched a class action lawsuit three years ago seeking more than $450-million in compensation on behalf of thousands of new mothers who were denied EI disability benefits, or dissuaded from applying for them.
Members of Parliament demanded an explanation from the Tory prime minister after breast cancer survivor and new mother Jennifer McCrea was refused EI sick benefits. The jab here is that our then Fearless leader did nothing for these sick mothers because he was too busy with the Mike Duffy Nigel Wright scandal. He should of asked his then boy wonder/chief of staff (before he threw him under the bus) : “Hey Nigel, could you fix this for me? Could you make it ‘good to go’? 'Cause you have fixed my shit before" That is before you became a liability and I had to pay you a fortune to go away, despite the fact that you are independently wealthy beyond any Canadians dream to begin with.

4. Big-ticket beverages

Our former International Cooperation Minister Bev Oda and our former Finance Minister Joe Oliver seem to have shared a taste for costly coolers, provided taxpayers are footing the bill. In 2011,Ms Oda expenced a $16-glass of orange juice and a $1,995-stay in the swanky Savoy Hotel during a government trip to London, England, where she also hired a limousine to cart her around at a cost of nearly $1,000 per day. Yet the free helicopter ride is  "Violation of federal law"!!!??? WTF??
 In 2012,Joe Oliver expenced  $16-glass of scotch he drank at the rooftop restaurant of the Mamilla Hotel in Jerusalem. He later spent $5,593 on two one-way flights between Toronto and Calgary to hold roundtable meetings with oil, gas, steel and pipeline companies. All hail the almighty oil companies.? BTW dear spenders of our money: My wife and I bottle our own wine and shop no name orange juice to make ends meet.
While Oda repaid more than $3,500 in expenses during her time in office (and eventually resigned), Oliver's spokesman maintains that he followed all the government business travel rules. Take one free copter ride and.....

5. The ad blitz

 An estimate of over $750 million has been lifted from our public purse since 2006 to pay for government advertising, much of which has been labelled “partisan” by critics.has been lifted from the public purse since 2006 to pay for government advertising.,
The ads — which have repeatedly run during expensive primetime viewing slots like NHL playoffs and the Oscars — have included $5.2 million promoting the Economic Action Plan and $24 million touting Canada-U.S. relations in Washington to increase support for the Keystone XL pipeline.
One 2013 ad by Employment and Social Development Canada even won a ‘Teddy Waste Award’ from the Canadian Taxpayers Federation for a $2.5-million blitz promoting the new Canada Jobs Grant months before the job training program was even available.This is our money used to help reinsure their reelection. Nary a mention of this ever in the NP! This spending is one sore spot for me and all parties and politicians do this on all levels. We are currently at the halfway point for our Municipal politicians. This past week we have seen the full colour, multi paged, high quality brochures disguised as Midterm report cards, but in reality are the council and Mayors legal way of spending our money to ensure they get reelected in 2 years. Yup, we pay for it out of our tax dollars.
Stand in line for days to see a doctor. Line up to get EI after your company moved production to Mexico. Cry as our Indigenous people drink sludge from the oil sands tail-ponds. But for God sake do not take an offer of a free ride to a nice Island if you are our leader.

Now back to my Spoiler alert. Please do not read this as a Paid Liberal/NDP/Green party/ "Insert your party here" plug. All this boy wants is for our paid politicians to spend our money sensibly.
To be perfectly honest, I believe we have great deals on our gas prices.Not long ago we were paying almost $2 a litre and not a peep was heard. We went down to $1 a litre and we drove to drive thru like they were just invented. Put a 4% tax on that to look out for our green world and we went ape shit!
"How can we afford to drive with this tax on a tax" was heard throughout the nation.
 Our water costs in our house runs about  $1/day which is far to cheap. Colour me a weirder shade of green when I ask the municipality to raise the price to encourage conservation.

We have become a nation of whiners who want the government to lower the price of gas, offer them cheaper hydro electricity, give them free road access everywhere. We bitch and bellyache on each and every tax without thought as to the good some taxes do.

My wish is for  our leaders to look where they spend. all our leaders in all levels: Municipal, Provincial and Federal.
Instead of a fake lake or a Pan Am Game (the cost of hosting the international sporting event was $2.423 billion, sadly attended mostly by the Municipal and city politicians who were given free tickets. This family did not budget for the tickets.) How about looking at feeding and housing our homeless. It might be cheaper to house the homeless than to house a few thousand athletes.

 Instead of taking the council to a retreat in Newfoundland or Hawai to see how other cities deal with traffic problems how about thinking about free University for those in need and NOT free toll highways for the Moms in mini vans.

Instead of spending on legal costs to fight sick mothers how about free prescription drugs to go along with our free health care, as we are the only country that offers universal health care without a drug plan.

Take better care of our lands and stop heeding those that work in the oil industry that we need to dig holes in our land to pull up the gook. We are all members of the Humanist party and we all belong to the same two-legged tribe. Let's show Gord Downie that we can do Canada a solid by being Humans.

Can we all pay a $1 and sign up for the Human party of the world?


Monday, January 9, 2017

My Sunshine Sketch of our Little Town

Many of the streets in our neighborhood are named after Whitby's original inhabitants.. Oak, Chestnut, Walnut, Maple, Ash, to name a few immediate to our house. Most of the original green and beautiful squatters (woodlands) still happily reside here in Downtown Whitby for us to enjoy.

We like living here. We love to walk and enjoy the century plus homes with trees double the age of the houses they shade. All homes are different, with no cookie cutter "Subdivision" style in sight.
Just the word "Subdivision" conjures up an industrial image. Similar to the oxymoron "Industrial Park" to denote land designated to be industrious as it sits in a former green acre.

Downtown Whitby, and the Town of Whitby itself has always been a bit of an  enigma for me. Yes, we have the "four corners" that I have always deemed a precondition of calling the area "Downtown". Yes, there is the "Village" countenance of our little Downtown that has always appealed and appalled at same times. We have the butcher,  the baker, and if we really stretched the gift stores, we have candle stick makers. Thrift shops as well as upscale clothing and decor share the same sidewalks and alleys. Thus the appealing. The local "Hotel" on the main drag gloats about it's impermanent status as the only "Naked Live Girls" in the region. Thus the appalled.

We have from middling to decent to top drawer eateries all within walking distance of our tiny house. We can and do walk to dine when date night dictates a night out.

Change is inevitable, and I know this. Our favorite old school Saturday breakfast place resided on the south side in our downtown. Properly named "Southside Eatery", the owners were fixtures at our Saturday morning eggs with real potato hash browns. A walk in the fresh air for 8 minutes and we were in family luncheonette heaven, enjoying the best java this side of "The Goof" in Toronto's beach district. The potatoes alone were worth the walk, but the true poached eggs with a side of meat made the weekend special. Sadly for us, the owners retired last year. Good for them. Not so good for Mary and I.  The new and young owners renovated, added a liquor license, changed the menu, changed name, threw out the friendly familiar service, and called their new club the "Boomerang".  Nothing of "boomer" brought me back to a second visit. This boomerang did not return.
But I digress.

Downtown Whitby has quite possibly as many drinking establishments per capita any Maritime town including Moncton and Glace Bay, but nary a Franchise Pub darkens our "Strip" The "Shoeless Joes and the Firkins of the franchised pub world are all found in the new north. They have their place.
"The Tap", The Vault, and Shamrocks  have existed in the downtown for many a pint over the years.  Most boast a patio (read backyard which is lovely) to entice a couple of us old folks out for a Friday Pint or glass of wine on a warm summers eve. Sitting among  usual suspects has been a pastime for many of us locals.

We may or may not spend our dollars at each and every downtown establishment, and we accept that new business comes (disappoints) when the familiar leave.  We still need to travel to the hinterlands to shop at Walmart, and in a pinch we buy a "Fourbuck" latte at Starbucks. But the for the most part we enjoy what is at our disposal which now includes a Portuguese bakery serving up a Cappuccino worthy of the $3 charge to go with our Pastéis de Nata on a Sunday walk in our village.

I write this today not as a rant or a review, but to a need to write to record history for me. 
I have lived in the "north" of Whitby for almost 10 years. I have had houses in the "Subdivisions" of Pringle creek. Our  "Kent Cottage" house in our little downtown has been warm and wonderful.

I have proclaimed more than once that the only way I will leave our house is feet first. 

Now I must end and walk Myla to our wonderful downtown park,passing the big and beautiful Chestnut and Walnut trees,  and as always, say hello to any and all neighbors that always respond in kind.

Ah. Life is good 


Monday, December 26, 2016

This is My Christmas Post

This is my "Christmas Post".

Declaration:  Despite what my wife will tell anyone in ear shot, I am a Christmas fan for the most part. There is much however a few festive items I struggle with and have a hard time accepting.

Today is boxing day. A day that has competing theories for the origin of the term. none of which is definitive.  The Oxford English Dictionary gives the earliest declaration from the 1840, defining it as "the first week-day after Christmas-day, observed as a holiday on which post-men, errand-boys, and servants of various kinds expect to receive a Christmas-box". For cynical me, modern day boxing day has always been a "head out to grab everything you didn't get for Christmas".

Maybe we should go back to giving nice boxes with goodies to those who truly deserve and have less than us.

I like the feeling that the season seems to present in early December and carries thru until about today, December 26th. During the Christmas "Season" there are the admirable days filled with commendable traits that are exhibited by Christians, agnostics, atheists, and other theism alike. The spirit of giving, pausing to say thank you, seasons greetings and "let me give you a dollar to help out a cause". Visit the senior homes and spread smiles to those who need a loving hand up.

Then cue the pushing and shoving that re-commences on boxing day, and runs full tilt at the speed of life for the next 11 1/2 months.

Christmas this year was quite lovely for us.. It was usual in the way that family gathers to eat, give and get, which is fine, but we love the idea of family gathering to be family. We do the greetings and hugs and discuss past year etc, and then we offer wine and libations and wear funny tacky sweaters and take turns holding babies for pictures to be shared and reminisced over in years to come. We eat and drink too much, hug a kiss a lot, but we share a common theme of Joy.

I am not lost on the irony that the birth that we commemorate on the 25th, Jesus's, would find our celebrations contemptuous. Nor am I stumped by those Christians or Deists who find selfish reasons to obtain more consumer goods for their betterment. That my friends will always be.

Facebook and other social sites (social?) take no Christmas break from locking horns, picking fights with those who's belief differ. Including the belief in a creator or supreme being or a gaggle of god's that we should or should not follow.
Should we say "Merry Christmas" or is that just a slag against the multitudes of Muslims and others  who do not observe.

I much prefer to observe this day, and celebrate Christmas, to pay tribute to a great philanthropist, philosopher, and all round guy who did a lot of good! Someone who spread the message of love. A man who, as Michael Coren so eloquently describes as someone who " would not hurt or abuse, would not reject, would not exclude. He would not deny climate change, would not build walls, would not obsess about procreation, and would not condemn you for who you you loved." That Man of course is Jesus Christ.

This post is not to argue  for direct evangelism and certainly not  to offer proof for Jesus and His birth. We pretty much know that Jesus was not born in December, and as Coren points out " it may not have been a stable and we don’t really know who was there."
And again in Coren's words  "Jesus was born, He existed, He spoke, He inspired, and He died. There’s no serious doubt.
But as to whether He was the Son of God and rose from the dead, that is something for you to decide."

I am not here to argue the existence of God, or any god for that matter. That lies within you and only you. We all have a faith in something I hope, and if being a christian means that you follow  most  and strive to emulate to the best of your ability to live a life that offers love, and not hate. Live in truth. Love the earth as if it was ALL your home. Take care of animals and children who need our help. Live a life where possible does good and not evil. Help other who need help. Strive to be the best parent, partner, friend, mentor, student, teacher that is possible with what we have to work with. Treat all men and women equal. Love thy neighbor......
 Then call me a Christian with a capital C.

Many prefer Christmas bows, packages and lights to the Christmas message. Yes this time of year is magnificent to behold with our eyes, but what power we would be if we lived the message.
 Have a blessed and happy Christmas!


Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Tax Me! Please!

A carbon tax is as about as evil as a tax is on cigarettes. 
There is no way around the fact that as long as we use the word "Tax", there will be an outcry. I often feel as if I walk alone in my love for this planet. I raised a lone voice when the highway 407 came further east and gobbled up nice farm land. I shake my head when I watch the hundreds of cars in a Drive thru running their engines in summer and winter. Our global love for purchasing new electronics on a regular basis, and toss old 50"  HD screens in the dump to make room for the new 55" smarties pants Screen that is Ultra HD. Sad and sorry lot we are.
Perhaps I do stand alone in my ideology. I have no issues with Taxes. It is spending that causes my heartburn and slow anger. If I get a decent return for my dollar, I am good. We pay, ballpark, around $300 a month in property tax. For that we get the roads cleared in winter, the parks to walk our dog is maintained, our garbage gets picked up and the Mayor comes out and says a few nice words on Remembrance day.
A Carbon "tax" to me is smart. If we use British Columbia as an example. They implemented their tax in 2008. It covers most types of fuel use and carbon emissions. It started out low ($10 per tonne of carbon dioxide), then rose gradually to the current $30 per tonne, which works out to about 7 cents per litre of gas. “Revenue-neutral” by law, the policy requires equivalent cuts to other taxes. In practice, the province has cut $760-million more in income and other taxes than needed to offset carbon tax revenue.The latest numbers from Statistics Canada show that B.C.’s policy has been a real environmental and economic success after six years. Far from a being a “job killer,” it is a world-leading example of how to tackle one of the greatest global challenges of our time: building an economy that will prosper in a carbon-constrained world.
 What is even more extraordinary is that taxpayers are coming out ahead.  B.C. now has the lowest personal income tax rate in Canada and one of the lowest corporate rates in North America. At the same time, it’s been extraordinarily effective in tackling the root cause of carbon pollution: the burning of fossil fuels. Since the tax came in, fuel use in B.C. has dropped by 16 per cent; in the rest of Canada, it’s risen by 3 per cen.
Now lets add the fact that the economy of B.C has outperformed the rest of Canada since 2008.
 So tax me!  Please! My income tax goes down. The environment gets greener. The economy gets better.
But to my friends in line at Best Buy, buying that smartie pants, ultra HD, super spiffy screen, then taking the family through the drive thru to meet people:). Don't let these facts get in the way of your beliefs that a Carbon tax is bad.

Monday, December 19, 2016

The Art of the Browse

Long before Dot had been introduced to Com; and way before there was an "app" to do what we used to do ourselves; there was the "art of the browse".
I thought of this the other day when I cleaned out a drawer and found my old "Blockbuster" card. A ping of nostalgia hit this old fella the way smelling Old Spice makes me miss my Dad.
I picked it up as if it could tell stories. The memories of browsing the aisles with my boy on Saturday afternoons was sweet with real life pictures. Dan would wander the Game aisle for hours as I would browse the "New releases" to see what would be the Saturday night feature.
Browsing was a "thing" and still is in a way for me. I never get tired of book stores or libraries, and love a "magazine afternoon hunt" in the winter. although the paper versions are going away and the good stores like Mikes, (which had over 300 titles of magazines from Neurology today, to Bumper Car new Age magazine) are going the way of the CD store.
Browsing a record store many years ago was a day of pure joy. We would bus and subway down to Sam the Record Man early on a Saturday morning where we spend the day in bliss! Album art was our Louvre. Discovering a rare bootleg Dylan (Live at the Budokan) was winning the lottery for us. Those days are near gone of course, and with internet shopping this old curmudgeon fears that I will lose my browsing days in the Hardware store.
Life at the speed of life I guess, and we will learn to "move it or lose it old fella"!
Choosing a movie now takes as long as it does to make a cup of noodles. I will and do miss the Blockbuster days, and part of my favorite memories with a ten year old are in that magical membership card.