Stunt driving on the way to paradise

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The popularity of the Bruce Peninsula National Park has taken off in recent years, as this Parks Canada photo taken at one location shows

It was another busy day at Grey County Provincial Offences Court, which also acts as the court for such offences for Bruce County. Most of the dozens of people waiting for their turn in court that day in early December were charged with Highway Traffic Act offenses and had decided to plead “not guilty.” A brief consultation with the Prosecutor before court might lead to a resolution; otherwise they were heading for a trial, time permitting, or adjournment to a later date if not.

Several people in the crowded waiting area were charged with excessive speeding, also referred to as “stunt driving,” on Provincial Highway 6. Those charges involved a long stretch of that highway on the Bruce Peninsula leading to Tobermory that has suddenly become especially infamous after five people died in collisions last year.

Only in recent years has traffic on that section of highway become such an urgent problem. It coincides with a tremendous increase in tourist traffic heading to the two national parks in the Tobermory area. Continue reading

Looking for the bright side in 2018

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Let’s try to look on the bright side for 2018.

That’s easier said than done though, isn’t it?

Like, for example, I just looked at the weather forecast for our area here in greater Hope Ness, and there’s no relief in sight for an end to the current deep freeze, and a lot more lake-effect snow. I ventured out onto the wind-swept Eastnor Flats to get some diesel fuel for the tractor, and I might as well have been at the North Pole. I understand it was almost as cold there.

(Note to Donald Trump who just tweeted sarcastically about the need for a little of that good, ol’ global warming: It IS about global warming, and climate change, throwing the longstanding stability of the jet stream out of wack. This is why parts of Alaska are warmer than Hope Ness, and maybe even Washington, D.C. for that matter. The science-based facts about it are just a few keys over from twitter, Dear Donald. Give it a read some time before tweeting the first ill-informed thing that comes to mind – and that’s putting it nicely.)

But getting back to why it’s no so easy to look on the bright side about the New Year: Continue reading

Let your light shine, you are the hope of the world

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I subscribe to the theory that we nine billion-plus human beings are all descended from a small group of ancestors who, millions of years ago, faced with an environmental crisis of world-changing proportions, learned fast the value of cooperation and making the best use of everyone’s particular skills.

Some were creative and innovative, some had a gift for organization, others had extraordinary intuitive powers, still others knew how to raise spirits when things looked dark, and finally there were those who were especially fleet of foot and physically strong. Everyone’s effort was valued and appreciated as they desperately searched for a place that offered the hope of life. They found it: at the shore of a life-giving, great river, or of a sea, or of an ocean teeming with food. There’s a reason, after all, why we humans are so drawn to waterfront homes. It’s in our formative genes.

But more to the point, I also believe there’s an essential goodness in what we are as human beings. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be here now; we wouldn’t have survived that critical moment millions of years ago. But we did, because we learned the value of working together, of a diverse and broad collection of skills, and of intelligence. Continue reading

When in doubt make pizza

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Dark-rye pizza with multinational topping

When in doubt, make pizza. And make it from scratch, otherwise it doesn’t count in the greater scheme of things. I mean, anybody can squeeze pizza sauce out of a plastic bottle, or chop onions, red pepper, mushrooms, green and black olives, and even spinach. There is to be sure a certain, patient skill to grating pizza mozzarella and even crumbling feta cheese on top. Oh, and yes, a sprinkling of Oregano. Continue reading

Ignorance and want: the prophecy of Charles Dickens

I was talking a few evenings ago to my young friends, a well-read, pleasant couple with hope in their hearts, about the state of the world. We settled for a while into a discussion about the troubling, political situation in the U.S. where exploitation of a significant portion of the population by a populist demagogue with dangerous dictatorial tendencies is leading that great country, and the world, down a dangerous path.

Suddenly, as often happens, a recollection of a memory that seemed relevant to the discussion came to my mind. In this case, it was a scene from the 1951, British-made movie A Christmas Carol, based on the short story of that title by the great 19th Century English writer, Charles Dickens. Continue reading

Paying the nuclear price of plans gone askew

(Author’s note: Among the several province’s in Canada that own and operate nuclear-powered, electricity-generating stations, Ontario has by far the most reactors. They are located on the shores of two of the Great Lakes, on Lake Ontario, east of Toronto, and Lake Huron, near the town of Kincardine. Ontario Power Generation (OPG) is the publicly-owned, provincial Crown Corporation proprietor of Ontario’s nuclear plants. They include the Bruce Nuclear plant near Kincardine, which is operated under a long-term agreement, by a private company, Bruce Power. Highly radioactive nuclear waste, including a growing stockpile of used fuel, is stored on-site at Ontario nuclear plants, as it is elsewhere in Canada. But that is not considered a long-term solution. Canada’s federally-appointed Nuclear Waste Management Organization several years ago proposed an Adaptive Phased Management approach to that issue, including development of a Deep Geological Repository. The NWMO is currently conducting a lengthy site-selection process to find a suitable site. Meanwhile, OPG is awaiting final approval of a separate but similar deep-rock facility at the Bruce Nuclear site for low and intermediate-level, radioactive waste that it first proposed at least 13 years ago. Such waste, is now routinely transported to the Bruce site for what’s also regarded as temporary, above-ground storage. As might be imagined, the idea of burying nuclear waste in close proximity to the shore of one of the Great Lakes, which are shared by Canada and the U.S., has proven controversial.)

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Bruce Nuclear site

 

I’m not kidding. Well, maybe a little. But I can’t help but wonder if there’s a special room set aside at Ontario Power Generation (OPG) headquarters in Toronto, or its Western Waste Management Facility at the Bruce Nuclear site, where managers go to pound their heads against a wall. Continue reading

Speaking of “priorities,” Canada’s quietly looming health-care crisis

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A big-hearted smile from a Canadian “Mountie” was a little refugee’s first experience of Canada after crossing the border from the U.S. last winter.

I know I’m not alone in this: the feeling of being fortunate, relieved, and proud, to be a resident of this good country called Canada, as the sands run out for the otherwise deeply troubling year of 2017. Not that prospects for 2018 hold much promise of being better.

There are other good places to live, countries and communities large and small where people who believe in human decency are doing what they can to keep that light on; people who know in their hearts that unless we can learn to live together and celebrate our diversity, rather than hate it, there is no hope for the future.  Continue reading

The necessity of Remembrance

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The Canadian National Vimy Memorial

The First World War Battle of Vimy Ridge, fought and won by the four divisions of the Canadian Corps with much loss of life in April, 1917 is rightly celebrated as a formidable military achievement and notable nation-building event for Canada. Earlier attacks by British and French forces had failed to take the heavily-defended German position.

The striking memorial on the ridge that commemorates the battle and the 3,600 Canadians who died there is widely regarded as one of the most impressive of such monuments. German troops were even assigned to guard the site after the fall of France in June, 1940.

The celebration of the 100th anniversary of that battle this year has notably improved remembrance of it among Canadians of all ages.

But remembrance of another even more deadly battle in which the Canadian Corps played a decisive role in victory, also fought 100 years ago, is sadly lacking. Continue reading