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Fort McMurray fires

I don’t know about you, but I am blown away by the images I am seeing out of northern Alberta.

Keep in mind that Fort Mac is a city of about 90,000 and much of it could go up in flames.

If you are able, please donate to the Red Cross relief effort or the relief organisation of your choice.

Here is the link to the Red Cross effort.

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The last traces of the…

… hated-by-the-west National Energy Program (NEP) were gone by the end of 1986 under PM Brian Mulroney (who is, incidentally the last true Conservative PM… unless you count Liberal PM Paul Martin, but I digress…). Using my superior mathematical skills, that makes it 26 years since the NEP was around.

Twenty-six years.

And still some Westerners obsess about it.

I have a theory about this. It isn’t your average Albertan who is still oh-so obsessed and who decries any and all Liberals as the NEP Party: it’s really only those who have another agenda. An agenda not grounded in energy policy nor of a national vision. Nope. This hatred carries on because there are some in the West- especially in Alberta- who want to drive a wedge between the West and the RoC. They’d like nothing more than to rid themselves of the have-not provinces to the East and the dope-smokers of B.C.

And many of these folks are prominent in the Alberta CPC caucus and the far right Wild Rose Party.

Call me crazy but it is a possible explanation of the unabated huffing and puffing over a policy that hasn’t been around for a quarter century.

In the meantime, Albertans and other Westerners should pay heed that their energy wealth can end as quickly as it began. Energy efficient transportation and industrial production practices may one day drive prices down to a point where tar sand exploitation is no longer viable. And the oil will one day run out.

As well, the American economy will one day be once again robust. With that will come a rebirth and resurgence of Ontario and Quebec. Western provinces may one day be once again have-nots.

We Easterners will remember these days when Westerners called the political shots.

Oh yeah, we will not ever forget.

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Friday miscellany…

... unapologetically-a-fan-of-my-MP edition…

I am getting more than a little pissed off about the treatment that my MP, David McGuinty, is getting these days just because he lost his composure for an instant and blurted something that, albeit correct, he probably should have put in a better way.

Here are the facts:

  • He more or less said that Alberta MPs should spend less time cow-towing to the oil and gas industry and see the bigger picture – i.e., the provinces and territories of Canada that don’t begin with an “A” and end with an “a”.
    He was correct in this assessment. Alberta pols get a lot of mileage from slamming us in the East. Who can forget the “Let the eastern bastards freeze in the dark“? I sure as hell don’t!  And do these pols put on blinders and blindly follow whatever is “best” for the tar sands, OF COURSE THEY DO!!! How on earth can this be disputed is beyond me!
  • Hands-up to anyone who has NEVER said something that they would have liked to have taken back.Nobody?

    Yeah, that’s what I thought.

  • Did he “man-up” and apologise? Yes. Unequivocally.And when did we last see a CPC MP apologise for anything? And they have LOTS to say sorry for!

    Never?

    That’s what I thought.

So lay off the guy. He is a great MP, does loads for his constituency and is a great guy to boot.

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Carrying along the same theme, man, some Albertans just love to whine, eh? I know that they are not all like that – I have some great friends who are Albertan born and bred. But this whole horse at the Royal York and Rogers Centre thing is over the top.

The Royal York is a private establishment that was under no obligation to let a flea carry varmint into its lobby. NONE! Would YOU, as an owner of a biz like the RY want a horse in it? Of course not! The hotel did eventually relent to the loud mouthed yokels standing outside the hotel demanding that the nag be let in, but I sure as hell would have stuck to my guns (which I’m sure a few of the Calgarians were totin’!).

And the Rogers Centre will indeed let the mammal named Deep Six (or something) in as well. I just hope that the beast doesn’t get spooked by being in a REAL stadium and not that barn they call McMahon Stadium.

Bold prediction – Argos 31 and the Stumps 10!

GO ARGOS!

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Sigh. Black Friday. Whatta fine example of hyper-consumerism. And now it’s here in Canada. Isn’t it enough that store are putting up gaudy xmas decorations and playing that infernal music as early as August?? Do we really need another reason to shop?

I can’t believe how many of we Canucks head to US border towns to pick up goods that may be a few bucks cheaper! Sure, a lot of goods are more costly here but don’t give me that “I’m getting ripped off by Canadian retailers crap. Most of our retail outlets are American-owned or controlled anyways and they set the prices. Plus, taxes are higher here. Those higher taxes go to pay for things like, um, free health care!

For me, today is a “buy nothing” day.

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Finally, the weather has been awesome in my corner of the world, but that looks to end soon. Oh well, climate change is making and will continue to make Ottawa winters that much warmer…

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Lougheed

Was always a Canadian first.

I didn’t always agree with him, but there was no denying that.

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Update to my last post about the Alberta election…

Yup, some of the biggest wing-nuts can be found the comments sections of the on-line stories.

Check out THIS doozy comment on a CTV News story about a new poll showing that the PCs are creeping back into the race:

Whoa.

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A couple of things…

… have me wondering what is being put into the water consumed by the good burghers of a) Toronto and b) Alberta.

Exhibit A, Toronto:

Rob Ford’s approval rating is up.

Seriously?

As in the Mayor, Rob Ford?

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s approval rating is at its highest point since last June, a new poll by Forum Research Inc. has found.

The automated telephone poll of Toronto residents found that 47 per cent of those surveyed approve of the mayor’s work, up from 41 per cent last month, and an analysis of the numbers by Forum Research suggests that Mr. Ford would be the likely winner in a three-way race if an election were held today.

Must have something with Leafs being out of the playoffs again. Or the smog. Or the water. or the…

C’mon! Help me people! Throw me a line!

Exhibit B, Alberta:

Well, our good friends in Oil-land will be going to the polls soon to elect a new government. And, Alberta being Alberta, the fight is between a right-wing party and an even more right-wing party. Extremist parties on either end of the political spectrum tend to attract, well, let’s call them “wing-nuts” for lack of a better word.

And nowhere is this more evident than in the upstart Wildrose Party… an Alberta-centric, f*** the rest of Canada group of folks who have a REAL chance of winning this thing. And if they do, Alberta is going to swing more to the right than any southern U.S. state could imagine! Hey, the Tea Party would do well to relocate some offices to downtown Calgary!

Anyhoo.. back to the wing-nuts.

Let’s look at this guy, a premium Grade A Alberta wing-nut if there ever was one. His name is Richard Evans. He’s a good old boy…. well, no… more like a neo-Nazi. He also advocates the murder of peeps whose views don’t line up with his… like, oh, Tweeting that David Suzuki should be assassinated…

h/t to the intrepid Warren Kinsella for posting this…

Aren’t death threats illegal in Alberta?

And let’s look at Allan Hunsperger. This is what he wrote about gays:

Wildrose candidate Allan Hunsperger wrote about his views on homosexuality on his blog in 2011. Hunsperger, a minister with The House church in Tofield, suggested if gays and lesbians continue to choose their sexual orientation they will suffer in the afterlife: “You will suffer the rest of eternity in the lake of fire, hell.”

Hunsperger suggested that for their own sake, gays and lesbians must be made aware of the imperative to change, and not simply accept who they are, as singer Lady Gaga suggests they do. “Accepting people the way they are is cruel and not loving!”

On Sunday afternoon, after this blog post was spread on the Twitter, Hunsperger took down the blog post from his church’s website, but others had copied it and it continued to circulate on the Internet.

Oh yeah… way to go! You win the hate-monger prize of the year!!!! What a FUN guy!!! I can just imagine the cool and interesting convos I could have with him!!

And there are others too! In fact, the party demanded that all candidates – even those vying for nomination at the local level – post a “good behaviour” bond of $1,000 that would be returned if they didn’t do something or say something too stupid during the campaign

Others have a prior history of regretting quotes, too. Wildrose candidate Doug Faulkner, after losing a mayoral re-election bid in Fort McMurray to challenger Melissa Blake, once told the Calgary Herald that “lady mayors don’t go over well in industrial towns.” Another Wildrose candidate, Don Koziak, once kicked off a failed mayoral bid in Edmonton by declaring light-rail transit to be a dirty mode of transportation – cities should just widen roads instead, he said.

Alberta? Do you REALLY want these wackos in charge of your province? Really?

Then you should move to Toronto. You’d be in like company, it seems.

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Nice of Alberta…

…to conveniently forget that they were once the “have-not” province. And Central Canada supported THEM in their time of need.

Thanks for nothing. Wait until the oil runs dry or OPEC forces prices down… we’ll remember…

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Fighting for a secular education in Alberta

Wow. Look at this. There are other places in Canada that are stuck in the 19th century aside from Ontario!

A Catholic education is the only local option for the Kirsop family and everyone else in Morinville, Alta., a community of 8,100 northwest of Edmonton. It’s a unique situation, rooted in the town’s origins as an outpost of French-Canadian Catholicism in the late 1800s. But this fall, when five-year-old Sarah Kirsop declared she had converted to Catholicism, her mother joined a group of local families who are challenging the status quo.

If one of my kids came home and said that – I’d move elsewhere.

So it’s not only Ontario where an anachronistic and duplicate system of education dawdles along. The unfortunate folks of Morinville Alberta have no choice but to enroll their children in a non-secular system.

Morinville’s unique situation, in which the only public school board is a religious one, came about through the collision of that history with a redrawing of the district maps 16 years ago.

Only Ontario, Saskatchewan and Alberta still have patchworks of public and separate, protestant and Catholic school divisions. Over the years, protestant divisions have become secular and many have amalgamated with like-minded neighbours. Mass amalgamations in 1995 in Alberta left Morinville being serviced by a single public Catholic board, while the region’s secular board, the Sturgeon School Division, was confined to areas around Morinville.

Time to take apart these patchworks, wouldn’t you say? The simple economics of dual systems will eventually kill the non-secular systems, but this will take time – and political guts.

Who will have the balls to stand up and start the process to end this? These systems are wasteful and discriminatory but will likely need a Constitutional amendment to make it happen. Mr. Hudak? Ms. Horwath? It is clear that Mr. McGuinty won’t take the lead here.

Will either of you?

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Piping Canada’s oil south

So here’s the thing, we all know that the tar sands are having a devastating effect on the local environment in northern Alberta. Just ask any duck.
We also know that the GHG emissions resulting from these operations are off the map. AND we know that the stated environmental policy of the Obama admin. is to steer away from “dirty” fuels to “cleaner” ones. So why did the United States approve Enbridge Inc.’s $3.3-billion Alberta Clipper pipeline project yesterday?

The U.S. State Department said allowing construction of the 450,000-barrel-a-day line serves U.S. interests by adding secure oil supplies from outside the OPEC nations at a time when political tensions in some producing regions threaten to interfere with oil shipments. “The department found that the addition of crude oil pipeline capacity between Canada and the United States will advance a number of strategic interests of the United States,” it said.

Most of the oil shipped on the line will come from Canadian oil sands producers, which have been under attack from some U.S. environmental groups and legislators for boosting greenhouse gas emissions because of expanding production in the oil sands in northern Alberta.

The fact is that these facilities exist. They employ people and communities have developed around them and none of this is going to go away overnight; no matter what environmentalists say. Am I in favour of turning the Fort Mac area into Mordor?

ansel_mordor_desktop_800Pic of Mordor

Of course not! I think the Alberta government has been negligent to the point of criminality in allowing this project to take place on such a scale and without the appropriate pollution abatement and control technologies in place.

But the reality is that I don’t yet have a time machine to be able to go back and talk some sense into ex- Premier Klein while there was still time to change the course.

Plus, the chickens will come home to roost when the U.S. their deficit and debt hits a breaking point. Then the Yanks may get just desperate enough down the road to march over the border and just take what they want – Canada’s oil AND our water… just watch.

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Pork barrelling – deuxième partie – spas and schools…

There are some great observations out in the blogosphere about how some of the Harperite’s crazy cash (aka Economic Stimulus Funding) is being doled out.

I wrote a note about this last week with regards to Clement’s refurbishing of public washrooms in Muskoka. One commenter to that post rightly pointed out that it is the habit of politicians to roll out the ol’ pork barrel when they have the opportunity. I agreed but noted that the ReformCons seem to do it more than the Grits did while in power.

Happily,  we (as in you and I) are giving the spa industry a much needed massage:

The Honourable Christian Paradis, Minister of Public Works and Government Services, today announced the awarding of $200,000 in repayable funding to Spa Le Montagnais under the Community Economic Diversification Initiative – Vitality to undertake the work necessary to establish a Nordic spa… The coexistence of a Nordic spa with other local attractions is bound to attract novelty-seeking visitors.

But giving 4 million smackeroos to a private christian school? Well that takes the cake and it strongly offensive for a hell-bound(1) atheist like me.
harper-christian-fundamentalist-school-alberta
I thought we were a secular nation… you know… all that separation of church and state and stuff.

If so, why are Canadian taxpayers footing part of the bill for this project? IMO, this is clearly a case where the religious right is being thanked for its unwavering support for the Harperite socially conservative agenda.

Thanks to Paulitics for pointing this out.

Question – who goes to these schools? There does seem to be a lot of them. Especially out west.

Anyhow, we’re gonna see a lot more of this crap, so I am already planning out the 3rd pork barrelling post, and the fourth and the fifth….

1. As an atheist, I obviously don’t believe in the existence of a heaven or hell, or valhalla… or leprechauns either. But christians sure think I’m destined for fire and brimstone!

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