The Jane Miller is found, may she rest in peace

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The Great Lakes are North America’s inland sea. They’re actually five seas of varying sizes. The largest and most northerly is Lake Superior. Then there’s Lakes Michigan, Huron, Erie and Ontario. Georgian Bay, though strictly speaking, part of Lake Huron, could also be included as one of the Great Lakes, or sea in its own right.

Its cliff-lined deep, blue waters on the western, Bruce Peninsula side have as stormy a reputation and as long and rich a marine heritage as any of the Great Lakes. 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

Life goes on

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On the edge of the Niagara Escarpment, on the Bruce Peninsula

It’s remarkable surely that people the world over continue to go about their daily lives and business – living, loving, making plans and so on as if the world isn’t on the edge. What strange creatures we mortals are: somehow able to keep on keeping on as if the future is not in clear and imminent . . . well, mortal danger.

What are we supposed to do? Stop living? It suddenly occurs to me maybe some have. Who knows how many have made that choice on account of the political situation in the United States of America, and its impact on the rest of the world.

Someone, it appears, has taken the lid of Pandora’s box, and all manner of craziness has been set loose to run amok.

Yet, one way or another, most of us carry on with our lives. Continue reading

Have courage, speak up, do not succumb

 

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I look out my second-floor office window here at Cathedral Drive Farm in Hope Ness and all is calm: the morning sun is shining on the second-growth of tender, young buckwheat still managing to survive the cooling nights. There is little wind, though 100 km/hr winds are forecast for this weekend. And I wonder if I will get a chance today to start putting plastic on the windows to help keep out the winter cold.

But, I confess, the state of the world has got me down: the increasingly destabilized, insecure, dangerous world and the threat that poses for ordinary people like me who just want to get on with their lives, do right by their children – and the human family – yes, that too, because we are all in this together, whether you live down the road and around the corner, or on the other side of the planet. Continue reading

Poverty is not an economic necessity

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In the midst of the Great Depression of the 1930s my parents left school to find work to help their impoverished families. As fate would have it they both found jobs, first Dad and then Mom, in the same Toronto food-processing factory. Whether they were paid by the hour or not, I don’t know. Nor do I know if they worked 40-hour weeks; likely not, in that day and age. What I do know – because I heard Mom say it often enough – their weekly take-home pay was $5.

Assuming a 40-hour week, that works out to 12 and a half cents per hour.

Continue reading

Omar Khadr has a lot to offer the world, including hope

There was no shortage indeed of tragic and troubling events in the world and Canada this past week:

  • The continuing tragedy of more than 200 out-of-control wildfires in B.C. and the evacuation of close to 15,000 people from their fire-threatened, and now possibly destroyed, homes.
  • News that more than two-thirds of Canadians, according to a usually reliable Angus-Reid poll, oppose the Canadian government’s payment of $10.5 million compensation to Omar Khadr for the failure of previous Liberal and Conservative governments to defend his Constitutional rights when he was a tortured, teenage prisoner in American military custody.
  • The “bombshell,” and still unfolding revelations that senior members of the then-Trump election campaign, especially Donald Trump Jr., met with a Russian lawyer, after they were led to believe that lawyer had incriminating information about Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton that was part of a Russian government effort to help Donald Trump win last year’s U.S. presidential election.

And then, in the midst of all that, comes news that an “iceberg” bigger than Canada’s smallest province, Prince Edward Island, has broken off a huge Antarctic ice shelf.

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Larsen C breaking off.

An iceberg indeed! The Larsen C now-former piece of Antarctica weighs a trillion tonnes, and is 5,800 sq kms in size. It’s called Larsen C because it follows the “calving” of two other giant sections, A and B, off the Larsen Ice Shelf, in 1995 and 2002 respectively.

“The (Larsen C) iceberg is one of the largest recorded and its future progress is difficult to predict,” Adrian Luckman, the lead investigator of the British-led Project MIDAS, which has been monitoring the ice shelf for years, said in a Thomson-Reuters news report. Continue reading

Sickening

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Anyone who says that life matters less to animals than it does to us has not held in his hands an animal fighting for its life. The whole of the being of the animal is thrown into that fight, without reserve.” (Elisabeth Costello, in J. M. Coetzee’s The Lives of Animals)

I had just left Owen Sound and was on my way home after the weekly trip to run a few errands and do some shopping when I first heard the news about an animal rights group having released a video of alleged abuse of chickens at a poultry factory-farm near Chilliwack, B.C.

The radio-news report said the alleged abuse involved people hired as “chicken catchers” to gather up chickens, and pack them in shelves of plastic cages for shipment by truck to plants for slaughtering and further processing.

Before he continued the CBC reporter warned the description of the details might be difficult for some people to hear. And so they were. Continue reading

The unbearable weight of stuff

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Blossoms on a roadside, wild-apple tree. And good apples they are too, as I discovered last fall. Not sure what this has to do with “stuff” and garbage. But it sure makes a better sight, or site.

What will they think of us, those otherworldly beings, when thousands or millions of years from now, they reach whatever is left of our world and can hardly believe what they find?

So much garbage – deep mounds of it in what we euphemistically called “landfill sites.”

Or, if their arrival is far enough in the future, maybe the space travellers will find places where seismic acitivity has exposed thick layers of a peculiar rock largely composed of fossilized garbage; and, here and there, scattered bits and pieces of stuff  that remains strangely intact: a child’s plastic toy, a small lockbox full of keepsakes and trinkets, a porcelain bluebird on the wing.

The strangers will turn those things over and over in their hands – or whatever – and wonder at the apparent ingenuity of the long-gone beings who created such things. But they will also be appalled and confounded by the shear volume of our waste. Continue reading