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May, 2012:

The Ontario Liberal Party is losing me…

… and fast!

I know that there is more to the OLP than just this single issue. But this issue is very important to me as a voter and as someone who can be an ardent and vocal supporter (with cheque in hand), if I feel that my voice would be helpful.

But I am dismayed by the intransigence of the OLP with regard to the funding of Catholic schools in Ontario and its refusal to even consider the process of introducing a Constitutional amendment to end the province’s obligation to provide a Catholic education system. I’m now considering my options. Maybe the Ontario Liberal Party isn’t my home anymore.

Ontario can look at “modern and innovative” ways to cut costs in parallel public and Catholic school systems without ending $7 billion in funding for separate schools, says Education Minister Laurel Broten.

Her comments came Wednesday as the Green Party and others called for an end to the financial support after the Roman Catholic Church objected to parts of an anti-bullying bill designed to protect gay and lesbian students.

“The elephant in the room, public funding of Catholic schools, has become so destructive to fundamental rights and equality it’s impossible to ignore,” said Justin Trottier of the Centre for Inquiry, a secular humanist group and registered charity.

But Broten and Finance Minister Dwight Duncan insisted that there are no plans to reconsider the funding as the minority Liberal government struggles to eliminate a $15 billion annual deficit.

“We are not willing to embark on a conversation with respect to seeing an end to Catholic education, which is constitutionally protected,” Broten told reporters.

I am a Liberal and a liberal. I have been for years and I will continue to support the LPC until I have reason not to do so. Who is chosen as the next leader with be the watershed for me. If the federal party looks to the past and not to the future in its choice, then I may well say “adios”. I don’t want to do this, but I may be forced to.

The same applies to the OLP. I haven’t been as involved on the provincial political front as I have been locally or federally, but I do support most of what McGuinty has tried to accomplish (I’m sure to get a nasty comment or two for that sentence!). However their stance on separate school issue might push me away.

Maybe it already has.

Don’t slam the door on a public conversation about modernizing our schools

Toronto – The GPO is calling on the Liberal government to open the door for a public conversation about modernizing our schools by establishing a public commission to examine merging the best of the Catholic and public education systems.

“It’s wrong for the Liberal government to slam the door in the face of school boards, parents and students who want to talk about modernizing our schools,” says GPO leader Mike Schreiner. “We owe it to students to ensure that our schools are safe for all children and respect the diversity of our society.”

Yesterday, Education Minister Laurel Broten stated: “There are school boards that have advanced a desire to have a local conversation with respect to a merger. We have indicated to them that is not a conversation we’re willing to embark upon, and one that does not respect the constitutional rights of Catholic education.”

“Our Constitution is not a barrier to equality,” says Schreiner.  “We cannot accept the Minister’s plan to close schools and cut services while prohibiting a conversation about merging the Catholic and public school boards.”

Since the Constitution Act of 1982, provinces have enacted 10 constitutional amendments. Five have involved education rights, 4 of those affecting denominational education rights.  Section 43 of the Constitution prescribes the methods of passing and enacting these amendments.

The GPO supports a fair, financially responsible and high quality education system that does not fund one religion at the exclusion of all others.


Charest is screwed…

And here’s an apt cartoon to depict his sad situation:


End result of Emerald Ash Borer…

… in Alta Vista.

Last year, this was a 50 year old, 40 foot tall tree with perhaps an 18 inch girth.

Now even the stump is gone and this hole will, likely today, be filled with soil and seeded.


Funny looking tree, eh?

My neighbourhood is undergoing a massive transformation because of the pest. Just take a drive along Pleasant Park between Delmar and St. Laurent and you can see what I mean.

And this little part of the old Ottawa suburbs will not be the tree-lined community that it was for another 20 years or so. At least.

It makes me wonder if the City has made the right decision by taking the chainsaw route instead of the more costly treatment option. I do hope that at least some of the ashes in my ‘hood will be spared.


Note the die-off on the top. This one won't be around next year.



Seen in The Onion…

U.N. endorses Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe as tourism leader

Uh, what?

This wasn’t in The Onion?

Is this the same Mugabe who, for the past twenty-nine years, has presided over a corrupt government and led a violent political party that has systematically murdered and tortured Zimbabwans?

That one?

The same one who has killed thousands of those who did not agree with him or, horror of horrors, voted against him and his party?

The one who should be dragged in shackles before the International Criminal Court (ICC) to be charged with Crimes against Humanity (Persecution, Murder and Inhumane Acts)?

The same Robert Gabriel Mugabe who is individually criminally responsible for the massacre of over 20 000 Ndebele people of Matebeleland, and the demolition of over 700 000 homes?

The same one who has embezzled and looting the national treasury and has starved tens of thousands of his own citizens because of these financial crimes? national assets etc.

Naw. It can’t be the same one. The UN would never, ever do something so utterly stupid!

Would they?

They did?

Can we stop paying membership dues now?


Ontario Catholic School Boards…

… have their knickers in a twist over the Ontario Government’s insistence that Catholic schools allow Gay-Straight alliances in their schools as part of the overall provincial anti-bullying strategy.

You see, they want to have a faith-based education system within a secular system of government. And they want control over what is permitted in that system and what is not. And they want all Ontarians – Catholic and not – to pay for it.

They also want more or less total control over the last say about what student groups are sanctioned by the schools. Only those whose raison d’être fits within the Catholic mold need apply.

Charles Lewis, National Post
Monday, May 28, 2012

On Friday, Laurel Broten, Ontario Minister of Education, said that gay students who want to create support groups will be allowed to call their clubs “gay-straight alliances,” or GSAs. This is part of the province’s proposed Bill 13, which is intended to stop bullying in the school system. The decision to allow students to call their clubs GSAs is a recent amendment. The Catholic Church says it is, of course, opposed to bullying but does not want clubs called gay-straight alliances. Rather, the Catholic schools have proposed something called “respecting differences” groups that could cover bullying in general but also specific issues such as homosexuality.

On Monday, the Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association held a press conference to try to explain their objections to GSAs and why their model would be better. However, the message was not exactly clear.

There is a court challenge threatened by the head Cardinal of somethingorother. Loud is the hue and cry about the “trampling” of religious freedom. This is an argument would hold some water if it were not for the fact that you and I, Catholic or not, are funding this discriminatory parallel education system and we elect representatives to work at Queen’s Park to set the rules about how these dollars should be allocated. This is the PUBLIC purse – not a private one where the Arch-Bishop-Cardinal dudes would have every right to scream “discrimination!”.

Perhaps times are changing. Rather than a forced marriage of the separate and public systems, we may be moving toward a bitter divorce (or more properly, an annulment). Not at the instigation of politicians or voters, but by the hand of the church itself should it walk away.

Freed from public funding, a truly separated separate school system would gain a respite from perceived political meddling — liberated to run its own schools in its own way. On its own dime.

A court challenge would be a good thing. Actually, it could be the beginning of the end to the duplicate system. Once the Pandora’s Box is opened, then there is a strong likelihood that there could be a constructive and vigourous debate on the future of the Catholic system in Ontario. Ontarians would have their eyes opened – and they would insist that their politicians do likewise.

And maybe, just maybe, one of the political parties will have the balls to suggest that the Constitution should be amended – thus paving the way to end the wastefulness that Bill Davis began, oh so many years ago.

Cardinal Thomas Collins, the archbishop of Toronto, is accusing the government of trampling “religious freedom” over changes that would let Catholic students call their anti-homophobia support groups “gay” clubs if they choose to do that. “Why is a piece of provincial legislation being used to micromanage the naming of student clubs?” asks Collins.

That’s a fair question. Here’s the simple answer: Ontario’s publicly funded Catholic education system has refused to get with the program and truly support its gay students. Anytime the province has given Catholic bishops and trustees a little leeway to do the right thing for gay students they have failed to do so. Now, they are, rightly, set to lose the ability to decide.

Trying to evoke some broad church and state war, as Collins did in his statement, is also bound to be a loser. In a warning to people “of other faiths,” Collins said, “if it happens to us, it can happen to you.”

This is nothing short of ridiculous. Every other faith group in Ontario can only dream of having what Catholics have – $7 billion in annual taxpayer funding for a separate school system. And just what religious freedom is Collins fighting to defend? The freedom to ban the word “gay” from Catholic schools? To shove gay teens back into the closet and make them feel like second-class citizens?

The church may be comfortable with that but it isn’t acceptable in our public school system. As McGuinty said on Tuesday, Ontario has “fundamental values that transcend any one faith.”

Gay-straight alliances and other clubs are places where students can receive much-needed support to get through what can be pretty tough days at school. These student clubs are not a threat to the Catholic education system.

But the church’s intransigence on this issue may well be. Each time Catholic officials and trustees show themselves to be well behind what their students want and broader society supports, they inevitably renew calls to pull public funding from Catholic schools.



I agree with articles in the National Fish Wrapper…

… about as much as I agree with the religious views of the Shitizen’s David Warren… but I do have to go along with this article penned by Jesse Kline about some great, new examples of nanny-statism (though I really do dislike this term…  and most of Kline’s articles are the typical far right “black helicopter” type).

Going to the beach is banned in Saskatoon. Street hockey is banned in T.O. and, get this, the ice cream truck bell has been banned by a local government in B.C.

… that is exactly what’s happening in West Kelowna, B.C., which has become the latest municipality in British Columbia to ban the ice cream truck jingle. “When I was a young dad living in Glenrosa, I always hated the sound of an ice cream truck because it meant that [my kids] were chasing me, and then we were all chasing the truck down the street,” Mayor Doug Findlater told the Kelowna Capital News.

Really? That’s way over the top… even for me.



I have but one question…

… will the self-righteous, egotistic, fact-distorting, religiosity-spewing, gay-hating, liberal-bashing, blowhard, CPC toady – aka David Warren – lose his job?

If so, I will happily re-subscribe to the 6 day per week edition.






Enough is enough, no?

Tragic. So many children.



… corruption within the Catholic Church!

Who woulda thunk it?


I mean, it’s just a modern institution that is sure to have complex internal mechanisms to prevent such folly, right? Things cannot have changed that much since the 14th century, right?

Those billions of dollars that are funneled to the church each year, courtesy of its faithful parishioners, are in good hands, I’m sure!


Pollution monitoring cuts at Environment Canada

These cuts are truly irresponsible and should be of concern to all Canadians.

This EC group provides an unbiased measurement, research and analysis function that allows for an accurate assessment of the levels of potentially harmful emissions from industrial activities.

So I guess it will be up to polluters to monitors themselves. Oh boy. I feel pretty darn safe, don’t you?

20120527-061717.jpgIf you feel like a good read, try Grassy Narrows by George Hutchison. I found it to be a great example of what can go wrong when industry is allowed a free ride. I thought it so back in the early ’80’s when I interviewed the author as part of an undergrad paper I was working on… and I still think so today.