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

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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Beware of populism

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Populism is a political disease that has likely already terminally infected the world’s once-greatest democracy. The word in its modern meaning reflects a low-level of democratic consciousness in a large, poorly informed proportion of a country’s electorate, and the willingness of unprincipled, opportunistic power-mongers to exploit and pander to it.

It does not reflect any respect or sympathy for “the poorly educated,” who Donald Trump claimed “I love” during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign. Rather, it reflects a deep-seated contempt for such people, and the ease with which they can be manipulated and fooled. Continue reading

Let their voices be heard — saving America

 

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I admit it: I’ve lately been getting pretty down about the state of the world, mostly on account of the messy situation south of the border with the continuing tragedy of gun violence, and the descent of a once-great democracy into something dark, divided, and decidedly undemocratic.

And it just keeps getting worse, or so it seemed, even in the immediate aftermath of the Feb. 14 shooting rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Nikolas Cruz, a 19-year-old former student at the school, allegedly killed 17 students and wounded 14 others with an AR-15 assault rifle he had purchased a year ago. The usual prayers, platitudes and condolences were offered, but no sign lawmakers were likely to take any common-sense, gun-control action. Too many have been bought off with hefty campaign donations from the powerful gun lobby, the National Rifle Association (NRA). Continue reading

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