Elephants in the room, Trump, Trans Mountain, and the future of Canada

Trump welcomes Canada's Trudeau before their about the NAFTA trade agreement at the White House in Washington

October, 11, 2017 U.S. Donald Trump meets Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the White House. Interesting hand gesture, in retrospect. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

There’s an “elephant in the room” regarding the Government of Canada’s controversial decision to buy the Trans Mountain pipelines, existing and planned, from Kinder Morgan Canada, a subsidiary of a much bigger company based in Texas, for $4.5 Billion.

And its name is Donald Trump.

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Canada’s public transportation necessity

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The Last Spike for the Canadian Pacific Railway, 1885

There is no better example in the world of the importance of a well-functioning public transportation infrastructure than Canada. It is a country that was knit together by that very thing. Indeed, it’s fair to say Canada might not exist as coast-to-coast nation it now is – or at all, perhaps – if the Canadian Pacific Railway hadn’t been built 133 years ago.

It was a remarkable achievement for a brand, new country of a few million people in the face of a huge geographic challenge. In 1867, the year Canada was formed, British Columbia, Britain’s west-coast colony north of the 45th parallel international boundary with the U.S., was not included. But Canada promised to build a transcontinental railroad, if B.C. joined the Confederation, which it did in 1871.

Construction was delayed by political controversy and a change in government. But the return of a Conservative government with John A. MacDonald as Prime Minister got things moving, with the eventual help of millions of public dollars.

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Thousands of Chinese labourers were brought to Canada to help build the CPR, and, therefore, the country.

Thousands of Chinese labourers were hired to help build the most difficult, Rocky Mountain section, and hundreds died in dreadful working conditions. The last spike was finally driven in 1885.

In the decades that followed an extensive network of rail services connected the towns and cities of the fast-growing country. At one time Canada had more miles of freight and passenger, railroad track than any country in the world.

However, as the end of the 20th century approached, much of that track was abandoned as economically unviable. For a while, highway bus transit took up the passenger slack, in southern Ontario, for example. But that too suffered the same fate. Meanwhile, fiscal conservative political thinking made government investment in public transportation less likely. By the second decade of this century public transportation to and from parts of rural Ontario was in big trouble.

I doubt any other place in rural Canada is a worse example of that than the Owen Sound, Grey-Bruce area of southwestern Ontario. Continue reading

Heart and Brain health walk hand-in-hand

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A couple of old guys staying young at heart

A news item caught my eye earlier this week. It should have been big news more than a month ago wherever an aging population and the onset of dementia is a growing socio-economic problem; like Canada, for example. But it wasn’t.

Later on-line searches revealed there was a sprinkling of mainstream news coverage. But I follow the daily news pretty closely, and it never was among the top stories. Too bad. If you’re a senior, as I am, or middle-aged – or any age, for that matter — the results of a lengthy on-line study in Sweden are something you should know.

And take to heart, literally. Continue reading

On the joys of celibacy

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Something called the incel movement has been in he news lately, in connection with the horrific murder of 10 people in Toronto, and the serious injury of 14 others, when a man deliberately drove a rented van down several blocks of sidewalk.

The suspect now in custody and at last count now facing 10 charges of first-degree murder, may have been radicalized by the hateful, tantrum language toward women often used on websites frequented by unhappy, angry men.

Their complaint is their state of “involuntary celibacy,” hence the “incel” name of their movement.

But I’m confused. I find it hard to understand how a man, or woman, for that matter, could be celibate for an extended period of time and not at some point discover the good side of it. Better than good. I went through a period of celibacy when I was a young man, starting when I was 20 and lasting for a couple of years. Continue reading

In praise of Const. Ken Lam: a moment of caring goes a long way

 

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A moment from the video taken by a bystander.  Toronto Police Service Const. Ken Lam is on the right near his cruiser. The suspect on the left is holding a dark object in his right hand, pointing it at the officer. Less than a  minute later Const. Lam had taken the young man in custody without firing a shot.

The first time I saw that now-famous video of Toronto Police Const. Ken Lam arresting the man who had just allegedly run down 24 people in Toronto I, like a lot of other people, was impressed for all the obvious reasons.

Const. Lam’s courage and patience during a highly tense confrontation with the suspect, 25-year-old Alek Minassian, has received widespread praise as remarkable, including in the U.S. and elsewhere around the world.

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Ah, the joys of a late spring

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April 14, 2018, Hope Ness, Ontario, Canada

The local store where I buy my Big Beautiful Boy’s dog food was fairly busy one morning earlier this week. Housed in an older building, the décor steeped in Canadian, farm-store heritage, it’s staffed and operated by folks who call you by name – or soon will, if you’re new. If they say, “have a nice day,” they really mean it.

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Last tap for a tough, old tree

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Trees have a lot to tell us about the state of their world, and ours. They’re in trouble too.

That tough, old sugar maple clinging for dear life to a primordial rock up there by my barn, for example, has surely been through many a hard winter, summer drought, and other traumatic seasonal surprises. But this late winter/early spring, maple sap/syrup season must be one of the most challenging in its long history of stolid endurance. Continue reading