Finding Hope for Canada

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The hopeful, early-morning sun breaking through the clouds over the Hope Bay Forest

There was just a hint of spring in the air, or so I imagined hopefully, as my canine friends and I took our usual early-morning walk down Cathedral Drive here in Hope Ness, beside the Hope Bay Forest, just north of Hope Bay.

But there were clouds overhead, actually and figuratively, as we headed north on the road. My head was full of troubling, pessimistic thoughts in the wake of the Feb. 9, not-guilty verdict in the trial of Saskatchewan farmer Gerald Stanley. Continue reading

Community involvement guiding local tourism

 

 

 

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The view from Lion’s Head Harbour

I left a well-attended public meeting this week in nearby Lion’s Head confident the future of sustainable tourism on the Bruce Peninsula is in good hands, and that the challenges it is currently facing as a result of booming numbers in the last few years will be dealt with wisely.

My reason for feeling that way is largely because of the continuing strong involvement of the local community in that effort. Continue reading

The “inequality crisis” got Trumped in Davos

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There was much talk just before and during the 2018 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland about the “inequality crisis.” The expression underlines a new level of urgency about the huge and ever-increasing gap between the relatively few, very rich people in the world who possess an inordinate share of its wealth, compared with the much greater mass of people who live and work in extreme and often dangerous poverty. Among them are an estimated 40 million people who live and work in slavery, according to an Oxfam International report released as the world’s economic and political elite began arriving for the Davos gathering in the Swiss, mountain-resort town.

High-profile speakers stood on a stage with a gentle, blue and white backdrop on which these words were writ large many times over: “COMMITTED TO IMPROVING THE STATE OF THE WORLD” Continue reading

Finding Hope in “interesting times”

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“May you live in interesting times” is an ancient Chinese curse, made all the more effective, one imagines, by being so nicely understated. The full extent of the catastrophe that might befall the victim is left to their imagination.

Some, perhaps even many, might say we are currently living in the sort of “interesting times” that would meet the requirements of the curse, with real or potential, world-changing catastrophe shaping up or already running amok on several fronts.

Some of it gets plenty of news coverage, more than enough, you might say. The whole world has the proverbial ringside seat to the decline and fall of a great democracy, and the real threat that poses for every living soul on earth, and future generations. Vast news resources, traditional and new, are focussed on one madman’s every troubling word, tweeted or otherwise.

Meanwhile, other urgently important news gets nowhere near the attention it needs and deserves. It appears somewhere below the actual and virtual fold in the headlines for a day or so, before being relegated to the archival back pages, out of mass-public sight, and mind.

That appears to be the routine fate of news reports about the latest studies into the unfolding effects of global warming and climate change. Such studies invariably express an urgent need for the world to take action to stop it from happening, or else “interesting times” shall be the inevitable consequence.

Such was the case again with coverage of the results of an “analysis” of declining oxygen levels in vast areas of the open oceans, as well as coastal areas. It was co-authored by 22 scientists and published early this month in the journal Science. Continue reading

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