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June, 2009:

Trashy in Parry Sound – what would Stevo have done?

I am sitting on the deck of the cottage that we are renting for the week. The weather has kinda sucked so far with the exception of a few hours here and there. In fact, it was supposed to be t-storming, like right now. Thinking this, the girls headed off to town to catch a matinee at the Strand (I’m amazed it is still called the Strand after all these years). I was left behind to tend to Owen, who is having a nap.

Happily for me but sadly for the others, the storms have yet to appear and I just spent the past hour on the dock, with two fishing rods workin’ and enjoying every minute of it. No worries, no kids, no sounds save for the distant traffic, the odd boat and the sounds of the loon. Simply splendiferous!

I’m looking out on the lake. A clean lake that has been intelligently developed mostly without the monster homes that one can see on some of the larger lakes in Muskoka and on Georgian Bay.

I cannot help but wonder what this place would have been like if the ilk of Harper and his gang of ninnies had been in power for the past few decades instead of the Grits. Almost certainly there would have been largely uncontrolled development and few environmental controls in place. Yes, Mulroney was one of the greenest PM’s in history, but the ReformCons are not of the same stripe as Bri and the red Tories who, while I never was one of them, I could at least respect.

I suspect that if the NeoCons had been in control of the legislative agenda for the past 50 years or so, there may have been a Constitutional Amendment forced through that may have entrenched private property rights and limited the state’s role in the controlled and sustainable development of areas like these. Maybe Canada would have been at lot like certain cities in the U.s> – especially in Texas – where By-laws are non-existent or unenforceable and development is hell-mell and it’s every man for themselves. The CPC likes it that way. State bad, chaos good.

Aw hell, I’m on vacation. Why can’t I give it a rest? I dunno. I wonder if dyed-in-wool politicos like Kinsella ever take a break from thinking about things like these. I doubt it.

Owen should be waking soon. I’ll end the thread before I begin to ramble on about how the shitty weather so far this week (today excepted) was a result of climate change, which was a result of ReformCons inaction!


So an accused paedophile is dead – big whoop

WARNING: For readers who are rabid – or even non-rabid – fans of overrated, freaky, has-been pop stars who are accused paedophiles, you should stop reading cuz you will be very offended by what follows.

OK. You have been warned.

I have never been a fan of Michael Jackson. Didn’t like his music. Thought that he was creepy beyond belief. Figgered that he was as much an invention of the media as anything else.

And, if there would even be one crime where I would support the use of capital punishment, it is paedophilia or any other kind of serious child abuse… of which Jackson was accused of on a couple of occasions. Only his money saved him from public humiliation and jail time.

I do not look forward to the next few weeks as there will, of course, be platitudes by the ton, weepy fans on camera and public expressions of grief from all corners of the world. I am reminded of the ridiculous events after the deaths of Princess Diana and Elvis. With the possible exception of Jackson, these were just human beings, people! Get over it!

What about the children who, each and every day and around the world, are suffering from disease or abuse? What about the countless deaths caused by the various forms of that horrific scourge, cancer? What about that poor girl who was hit by a truck just down the street from me and is now fighting for her life?

None of the above receives the attention of this so-called “king of pop” but they certainly do merit it just as much. Says a lot about the priorities in our culture, eh?

I think I’ll keep the radio and TV turned off for the next little while to avoid the silliness that is sure to come.


Happy Harperites are Hummin’

Seems like the combination of anti-Iggy ads and the Grits thumping on the election war drum has given the ReformCons a bit of an edge in the polls. While this does fall a bit within the “who cares” territory – after all, no election till at least the fall – it does point out that the Liberals do have some work ahead of them before the next drop of the writ.

Specifically, they need to better define the Iggy brand. It is not enough for the leader of the party to make election threats and fire cannonballs across the bow of the blue ship, Canadians need to better understand who he is all “about”.

Hitting the summer BBQ circuit will help rebuild the grassroots support that will be absolutely crucial to future electoral success, but it will do little to better define the brand.

My humble suggestion is that Grit staffers spend their summer canvassing all ridings – but especially those that are “winnable” – to clearly understand what is on the minds of Canadians and the role they see for the Liberal Party. From this, put together a brand spankin’ new set of policy statements that are clearly different from the CPC as well as the Dippers and the Bloqistes.

In fact, if they are smart, they would have started this months ago and are right now putting together said statements.

The party needs to distinguish itself from the trash that surrounds it. Both the party as the brand and the leader as the brand must stand out as the only viable alternative.

All that being said, I believe that the Harperites’ rise in the polls is temporary and largely reflects the desire of the nation to avoid an election at this time.


Almost time for our vacation

I love my job. I really do. And my Director doesn’t know I have a blog, so I ain’t just sucking up.

My work is intellectually stimulating, pays very well, varies from day to day, and I am fortunate to work with some real kick-ass righteous folks.


I work to live and don’t live to work. Holidays – time away from work – are what I’m about. Spending time outdoors with my family and mellowing out is what propels me forward in life. I mean, look at my subunits, aren’t they amazing?

IMG_3912 Yeah – I’m a proud Papa who likes to spend the bulk of my time with those who matter most to me – The Resident Love Goddess and my kids.

So I am mega looking forward to the next week. Starting Saturday, I will be away from work for a grand total of a week and a bit.  The weather isn’t looking the greatest at this point, but that will (hopefully) change.

I blogged a while back about where we are travelling to so I won’t go into great detail about that.

My biggest challenge will be to keep all of the kids occupied and happy for the week. If the weather holds, it will be a piece of cake. If it rains, we’ll think of something. I figger that ants and other crawly critters will amuse Owen for at least a few days. Addy will be a bit more of a challenge as she needs semi-constant stimulation else the whining kicks in. But she’ll like being around “real” nature.

Torii is bringing a friend along for the trip – yeah, not crazy about a friend coming along on a family vacation but it was either that or having to deal with a moping teen for 7 days and two 5 1/2 hour car trips. I’m a little worried about how exactly Torii will amuse herself for the week.

Here is what I wrote back in March about what Trashy used to do when a teen on this very same lake:

When I became a teen, I was much more preoccupied with “cruisin” in the search of females rather than baiting hooks. And we did find quite a few – females that is. I, along with a childhood friend, Bill – and of course little bro’ Jim – motored around in our 12 foot aluminum boats with the 7.5 hp Mercury outboards clamped to the transoms. We’d see a boat full of bikinis and quite shamelessly pull up alongside to start a conversation and share a smoke or a beer. We met lots of other kids that way who were on the lakes for the same reasons as we were. To meet other teens and to have fun.

Yeah. Speaking of beer. We did lots of stupid things too. Things that would merit my eldest groundings of unequalled proportions. Like, returning from parties at 2am. In the pitch black. With no running lights aside from a Bic lighter. No lifejackets. And we were never drinking, uh, Diet Coke at these parties.

You see why I’m worried?

That aside, I’m pumped.  And if I find the time – and an internet port – I’ll blog a few scribblings while chillin’ in Parry Sound.


Romeo Leblanc

I just heard the sad news that Romeo Leblanc has passed away.

He was our GG, a Cabinet Minister and a great Canadian.

Definitely one of the good guys.


High Times – Canucks Deliver

Hey! It turns out that we Canadians are really, really good exporters!

Story on the MotherCorp this morning reporting that Canada is becoming a hub for the export of hard drugs like ecstasy and methamphetamine.

According to the 314-page report by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, Canada-based organized crime groups involved in the methamphetamine trade “has grown significantly.” As well, these groups have increased the amount of methamphetamine they have manufactured and exported.

Australia, for example, reported that 83 per cent of its total seized imports methamphetamine by weight came from Canada. In Japan, the figure was 62 per cent.

Hard drugs like these and their ilk… well, they suck. Totally. No good can come from taking these highly addictive substances that are not natural, expensive, dangerous and rotted in organized crime – which is also dangerous. You just don’t want to mess with those dudes. They ain’t all cute and cuddly like Tony Soprano.

So why is this happening? Why has organized crime established such a solid beachhead here in the ol’ True North? Where are the cops?

The police certainly keen to trot out bags of pot in front to the media whenever they run across a plot in a farmer’s field. Well, here’s a thought: why doesn’t our government and our police forces stop wasting time and money on the “War on Pot” and instead concentrate on breaking the supply chain of those substances that are actually harmful to individuals? Instead of going after some schmuck who wants to grow a few plants in his back yard for his own use, why not dedicate the bulk of these resources to eliminating the gangs that supply meph, E, crack cocaine, etc. These chemicals have ruined countless lives yet our police forces go full throttle after the suppliers of a herb that is less harmful than alcohol.

The reasons why the cops and our governments have chosen to spend the bulk of their budget on illicit drugs chasing pot growers is because it’s an easy win for them.

  • Pot plants are easy to find. They are tall. Stink to high heaven and require lots of space
  • The people that grow it don’t shoot back as often as those involved in harder drugs – so it’s safer for the cops
  • It makes good TV and can claim you’ve taken an over-inflated dollar value of marijuana “off the streets”.

And our governments? What about them? Why haven’t they acted?

Trashy could go on and on about this for pages and pages… but suffice it to say that they are simply cowards. The politicos are SO FREAKIN’ AFRAID to appear soft on drugs, or crime (even though growing pot barely qualifies as a crime). Plus – and perhaps more importantly – our neighbours to the South would freak out like a bunny on speed! Not only would we be labelled as the country with SOCIALIST medicine and a haven for terrorists, but we would also be portrayed (at least in the Conservative “press”) as a nest of pot growing junkies!

And man, those church-goers out in Alberta wouldn’t like THAT, now would they?

This is what I ask:

Police forces – recognise that the easy way out isn’t necessarily the best option. Yes, it is more dangerous to find these labs and yes, they are harder to find than a grow-op or a plot of weed in a field, but the social costs of the hard drugs are far higher and THAT is where your efforts should focus.

Politicos – OK, I know that the Harperites will never loosen marijuana laws… that would make too much sense. BUT, the Grits will be back in power in the next year or so and there are some in the party that feel that not only should pot laws be relaxed, but perhaps eliminate them altogether: regardless of what Uncle Sam thinks. Legalize the stuff. Allow the cultivation for personal use. Sell it in licensed shops. Tax it. Use the revenues to eliminate the hard drug trade and the criminal elements that rely on it.

Just do it.


Time for we Canadian Public Servants to pat ourselves on the back!

It is Public Service Week.

And we who have chosen as a vocation and dedicated our energies to the service the Canadian people have every reason to proudly celebrate!

Over yonder in XUP’s ‘hood there is a great post that will give all you non-PS folks a taste of what we’re all about.

Wander over there and read it – she says it way better than I can!

Go! Now!


Retail and Political Haggling – why not?

On the political stage

Just noticed that Iggy has laid down some conditions that the Harperites will have to meet in order to avoid a no-confidence motion and a summer election.

According to Ignatieff, the government must meet the following four conditions:

  • Provide more details about improving the employment insurance system before the House of Commons votes on budget estimates at the end of the week. The government has said it will introduce unspecified new EI proposals in the fall.
  • Give more information about the rate of stimulus spending than included in last Thursday’s progress report.
  • Show more details on the government’s plan to contain the ballooning deficit, instead of offering what Ignatieff called “rosy projections.”
  • Provide clearer answers on the government’s action plan to deal with Canada’s medical isotopes shortage.

Ignatieff said the government’s answers and performance so far on these issues “just aren’t good enough.”

This is a type of “haggling”. The Grits are playing from a strong position in that the economy has nose-dived, the have a new and semi-intelligent leader, the polls are pretty good and, of course, Steve is still a robot. And no one likes robots.


What Iggy is saying is the following:

I will support you and we can all have a nice, election-free summer if you at least give the appearance of cutting me a deal by meeting me halfway and following through on my demands. Or at least some of them.

Due to it’s unpredictability, it’s a dangerous game when you engage in political haggling. The seller (in this case Harper) can back away and say “Forget it – I’m calling your bluff.” In which case, the one in the role of the buyer (Iggy) must risk losing the “good” that he is bargaining for (the avoidance of an election) or backing down himself and risk losing credibility.

As much as this Trashman would love to see Harper and his merry gang of ReformCons heaved out onto a pile of half-cured compost, he is very nervous about this game that the Grits are playing. It may just backfire and we’ll end up at the polls this summer. Canadians may take out their frustration on the new kid on the block instead of the robot. harper

Yikes. Careful Michael, careful…

At the store

The teen-monster is doing some training to ready herself for her 3 week stint as a kid’s camp counsellor and last week was my turn to deliver her to said training centre. For whatever reason – and I didn’t want the details… scaaaaarrrrrrrrrrryyyy – the kid was obviously having a bad day / week and it culminated that day in a ruined shoe. Somehow (again, no details please) she caught a lace in a fence and this tore the footwear asunder.

I actually heard about this earlier in the day when she texted me “Daddy – I need new shoes!”

Feeling particularly magnanimous that day, I suggested that on our way home from the training (which was totally “lame”)we stop at the Billings Bridge plaza to see if we couldn’t outfit her in a new pair… was gonna be a rush since closing time was about 15 minutes away. Hurriedly, she tried on a few sizes before settling on a pair and size that she really liked.

“How much?” I asked the sales-dude.


“Yikes!”, said I, “how about a discount?”

“Sure, I’ll give you 15% off.”

Huh. It was that easy? I just had to ask? I may be middle-aged, but in no way resemble a senior.

And any commenters claiming the contrary will be immediately flamed and ridiculed.

Our western culture is anti-haggle, with some exceptions. Haggling over the price of a car or a house or negotiating a price at a garage sale is perfectly OK, but we aren’t like those in many Asian or Middle-Eastern nations where the “back and forth” is the norm.

I’m thinking that I’ll do this more often!



In the news recently

Possible summer election

As much as I’d like to say that I’d like to see an election this summer I have to counsel caution… leadership numbers still too soft, unpredictable and therefore the Grits are vulnerable to the slightest slip-up. Give Iggy the summer. The Harperites will no doubt stumble some more and give the Grits some firm wedge issues on the leadership front.

The risk is that we really are seeing the beginnings of an economic recovery and this will bode well for the Harperites. I doubt that this is the case and that we are at least a year away from seeing real recovery. And even then the manufacturing sector in Ontario will still be undergoing a long period of restructuring.

Regardless, give the ReformCons the summer to (pick one or all of the following:

  • Say something stupid about race, religion, immigration or language
  • Leave Top Secret docs on an OC Transpo bus
  • Leave Top secret docs in the washroom of the Spark Street CBC studios
  • Reveal information that links a sitting ReformCon MP to a white supremacist group or a  loony religious sect
  • Miss a photo op with other world leaders
  • Wear a leather vest or something equally unflattering – like a sweater vest for instance


Ottawa will expand the boundaries of the City by a few hundred hectares.  Despite the Official Plan provisions that intensification projects be preferred over more suburbanization, the City staff and politicians will undoubtedly give in to pressure from developers and allow a further stretching of the designated urban area.

I am a Planner by training. Have a Masters degree in the field as a matter of fact. And, in planning school we were taught that sprawl was bad. Infrastructure costs are higher, a sense of community is more difficult to foster, there are higher GHG emissions due to higher automobile traffic, etc., etc.

Haven’t we sprawled enough? Time to give up the quaint notion of the Greenbelt and plan our City more sustainably.
The kids who are running the government

Is it my imagination or does it seem like most of the staffers who work with the ReformCons are under 30? Not to put down those who have yet to experience the delights of middle-age, but the inexperience is beginning to show. Witness the problems that various Ministers have experienced lately that have been the direct result of ill-prepared staffers.

Still. The buck stops at the Minister’s office, doesn’t it? Folks like Lisa Raitt have to accept responsibility and not use the poor kids as scapegoats.


A Trashy in Paris, dernière partie….

I’m writing this about 4 ½ hours into the 7 ½ hour flight home. Not a bad day thus far. Long flight, yes, but manageable.

Yesterday was a good day. A day that was well spent in culture and old-world sensibilities. Le Louvre, L’arc de Triomphe, a lunch on the Champs Elysees, Trocadero and something that was damned close to a rugby riot.  The French take their rugby very seriously and the national league final is this weekend…

For the record, the galoots dressed in blue and white were louder than those dressed in orange and red.

The trip was an unqualified success both from the “what-I was –paid-to-go-there-for’ perspective and my own selfish views…

Here’s what I liked the most:

  • The sights and the sounds of the City of Light. No wonder a drunken stoned visionary like Jim Morrison loved it so deeply
  • The food. In its own way. There were hits and there were misses. The hits were the very fine foods – like the canard at the Trocadero at a pretty reasonable price. And the misses? The cost of cheaply made and poor tasting crap… like the 20 Euro “buffet” at the hotel. Waste of money.
  • The coffee was consistently great. Even in the OECD cafeteria.
  • The folks at the OECD… both the Secretariat (Nick and Ysé are very committed, interesting and charming people) and the staff were great to work with and I look forward to seeing them again. As well, my colleagues from around the OECD countries were knowledgeable beyond compare with insights and perspectives I had never considered.
  • Big downside – Colleen wasn’t there with me.

Other thoughts…
I just watched the watchmen… good flick.
Why bowling balls are shaped the way they are?
I miss Colleen and the kids very much and can’t wait to see them in a few hours!