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2010 – the year that was…

It is time for my end of the year / beginning of the year summary post about the YEAR THAT WAS…

In January, I blabbed on a lot about Harper’s prorogation of Parliament. And yeah, yeah, yeah – it was perfectly legal… but so are coalition governments…

But the story that touched me the deepest – and still does – was the Haitian earthquake. And from the news reports coming out of this impoverished nation, things have not improved a great deal a year later. I don’t think that the big players on the world stage, as global citizens with global responsibilities, have stepped up to the plate as much as they should have .

Hopefully, 2011 will see some improvements.

February brought the Great Onion Ring versus Harper popularity contest! Had some fun with that! But it also brought the Olympics to Vancouver. And while Canada did well in terms of the number of medals won by our athletes, I still question the purpose of such an extravaganza in terms of how $3 billion could have been put to better use. The Squid Dude put it well when he said:

This is a back-of-the-napkin calculation, but I think that $3 billion would allow the government to replace every car and truck over the age of 5 or 7 years for every person who has one in Canada.  This would boost the auto industry, boost the economy, and clean up the air.  Every junker could be taken off the road.

And that was reason #7 of 13.

March, March, March… it’s usually a month where I’m in a funk from a mood point of view – and the 2010 edition was no different. I especially liked this post that I scribbled that wasn’t about much else aside from bitchin’ and complainin’.

The end of the month was all about my second visit to Beijing – and it looks as if I’ll be back there in April 2011.

April 2010 saw the great Icelandic volcano that halted trans-Atlantic and European air travel for weeks. It was also the month when I chose to rant about my second fave rantable subject – WalMart. I like ranting on the Evil Empire – and it’s almost guaranteed that I’ll do it again in 2011.

Oh, and that oil rig went kablooey in the Gulf of Mexico… which segues into..

May was a time when we were hearing about the environmental catastrophe that was unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico. Negligence. Neglect. Lack of regulation. George W. Bush. All came together in a massive perfect storm to create the BP disaster.

June was the month of the Great Ottawa Earthquake! OK, it would have been barely a shudder for someone from California, but it caused quite a ruckus around these parts.

It was also the month where Canada saw the police-state-like actions at the Gee-Score Summit in Toronto. Forget about the fake lakes and the political posturing for a moment and think about these over the top heavy handed tactics that were used against what was largely a peaceful set of protests.

Besides, why do we need these expensive photo ops at all? Can’t the world leaders teleconference? Or hold the meetings on an island somewhere where security would be less of a concern? But nope – not gonna happen because they are indeed just photo ops.

June was also a time when I finally got completely disgusted by Don Cherry – and I thought that the limits to my disgust had been reached… until later in the year when he spoke at Rob Ford’s (again – welcome Toronto to Ottawa of 2006!) induction as the mayor of Hogtown. Please, PLEASE make 2011 the year that his tacky, bigoted white ass is shown the door!

Upon looking at my posts from July, I see that I was all over the map from a subject matter point of view… though a mid-summer anti-ReformCon trend was clearly there. Lot of ruckus in Canada about issues that would normally not be headline inducing, but rather more coma-inducing… big oopsies courtesy of the communication plebs at the PMO!

I did like this particular missive that I scribbled that month and still laugh a bit to myself upon a re-read.

The dog days of August kicked in with a number of posts focussig on some specific Harperites. Stockwell Day was the target of a couple of these.

You know, as much as I hate to say it, I hope bozos like Day, Polievre, Baird and Toews stick around for a while! Canadian bloggers would have much less to write about if they were ever defeated or abandoned politics!

The latter part of the month was the point where I went into full municipal governance mode… and have stayed on this track ever since.

To expand a bit – I take pleasure in writing about local politics and local issues – especially those that impact education in the City. The local levels of decision-making is what touches each of us the most in our day to day lives and we should pay close attention to who are the players managing this ship.

And I also enjoy learning more about the strengths and weaknesses in this province’s systems of education. Hey, I have three children – two of whom will be in the “system” for a long time to come… so why wouldn’t I take an interest?

September and October was all about the municipal elections and my run at a School Board seat. And while I don’t at all regret running and really learned a lot about our system of public education the campaign was quite tiring for me and my family.  However, I am well aware that if I were to run again – and be successful – that the job of the Trustee would be many, many more times taxing on the ol’ endurance thing than a simple campaign.

Trustees do much, are paid little and ask for ziltch in return. Even if you do not agree with them all of the time – please respect them.

November saw little activity on my blog except for my accounts of the second trip of the year to Beijing.

There was nothing remarkable about December. The WikiLeaks controversery carries on and more and more government are getting pissed at Julien Assnage. And no, I don’t think that the guy is some sort of über folk hero, but I do think that this has been a wake-up call for governments everywhere about the way that they manage and guard information.

It was also the month where the winners of the October municipal elections took their seats and were appointed to Committees. The OCDSB has taken a bit of a leftward veer and Ottawa City Council – with all of the new faces – is still in the honeymoon stage… but that may end soon if the ATU again starts to worry folks about job actions.

I haven’t covered everything in this post. Chilean miners. The World Cup (and those damned vuvuzelas!). Wacky weather in much of the world.

And I won’t even get started on the purchase of those fancy-schmancy fighter jets that the Harperites think we need in order to defend ourselves from the Commie threat… Nope. Won’t go there. My old buddy Mike would just get himself worked up again 🙂

But it was indeed a busy year! And one with lots of fodder for my keyboard.

Happy 2011 everyone! I hope to keep you entertained again over the next 12 months and wish all health, happiness and wisdom!


Police State well underway – and Friday miscellany too!

This does NOT give me warm and fuzzy feelings…

‘The public has nothing to fear with this legislation and the way the police will use this legislation. It really comes down to a case of common sense and officer discretion.’— Sgt. Tim Burrows of the G8/G20 Integrated Security Unit

The Ontario Legisl;ature passed, without debate, a special piece of legislation called the Public Works Protection Act. It gives the right for security jackboots to search anyone who comes near the Gee-Wow-Fence.  Police, at their discretion, can deny access to the area and “use whatever force is necessary” to keep people out. And those who refuse to provide the cops with their identity or reason for being there can be fined a few hundred bucks… but here is the kicker:

The regulation also says that if someone has a dispute with an officer and it goes to court “the police officer’s statement under oath is considered conclusive evidence under the Act.”

Say what? This means that the accused is denied the right to a fair hearing, does it not? The police can lie all they want (like the RCMP did in the Robert Dziekanski case) and get away with it.

True, the special powers expire when the summit is over, but from the 21st to the 28th, Canadians will be subject to the same limitations on their freedom as did the East Germans before the Wall came down.

Friday thoughts…

1. Why are there still parents who, despite all of the risks, drive around a busy city with their little kids perched in the front seat or on their lap? I saw this twice this morning? Is this not child endangerment?

2. Why do many male teens who wear ball caps keep the sticker on the brim and not tear it off?

3. My posts about the Great Quake of 2010 garnered just shy of 2200 hits on the 22nd and another 250 yesterday… a new record for a single post! Yay me!

4. Again on the Quake – it was interesting to see how folks reacted when it happened. A few freaked out. A few were confused about what exactly was going on. And some, like one of my colleagues just down the hall, didn’t even notice the quake. I’ve also heard stories about geese feeding on the shore suddenly heading to the water, cats that hi-tailed it to the basement and dogs running in circles. I think there is something primal in all creatures that kicks in when the earth moves.

5. The World Cup is pretty exciting, eh? France and Italy both get knocked out (YAY!). I’m looking forward – and with dread – to the England/Germany clash on Sunday. Wayne Rooney is going to have to be a lot better if the 3 Lions have a chance in this one!


I wonder if they shoot the moose that get too close?

When I make the 5 1/2 westward trek to my hometown outside of Parry Sound, Ontario, I take Highway 60 through Algonquin Park – or just “The Park” as we call it.

It’s a beautiful drive. Rolling hills, lakes and rivers… and lots of fauna. Why, just last month when I did the trip with two of my kids, we saw 4 moose right on the side of the road! The kids loved it!

But we didn’t see anything like this:

This Light Armoured Vehicle (LAV) is parked right on the side of the highway near Hidden Valley Road. Hey, they’re using these against the freakin’ Taliban! Protesters and stray moose wouldn’t stand a chance!

There are gates across the highway now, with police and soldiers monitoring check points and checking the ID of anyone who approaches.

Some of the locals are taking it in stride, I hear. But some are not so happy about the whole Gee-Ate thingy. Folks in this part of the world are pretty practical and straight forward. They are not afraid to call a spade a spade… like this guy:

John Niedzwiecki, 55, who runs a popular chip wagon across from the Tim Hortons in downtown Huntsville, is the first to admit it doesn’t take much to get him worked up.

“They told me to take down my ‘Obama for Prime Minister’ sign (on top of his chip truck). They told me it was disrespectful to the (federal) government given all it has done for Huntsville,” said the Muskoka native.

He said it wasn’t like the local Conservative MP, Industry Minister Tony Clement, was being altruistic by pumping $50 million of G8 money into the Muskoka-Parry Sound riding.

“All he did was buy himself another four years in power. I know he doesn’t like to hear that, but people aren’t stupid.”

I too would like to think that they’re not stupid.

And I hope those moose that we saw are not stupid enough to get close to one of those check points. I’m pretty sure they haven’t been cleared by the Integrated Security Unit.


The folly of Harper’s fences

And the sign said anybody caught trespassing would be shot on sight
So I jumped on the fence and yelled at the house, Hey! what gives you the right
To put up a fence to keep me out or to keep mother nature in
Signs – 5 Man Electrical Band

Almost complete are the conversions of two different Ontario communities into armed fortresses that would make even Kim Il Jong blush.

Huntsville and Toronto are very, very different types of communities – aside from the fact that many from the latter like to spend their summers in and around the former – the two are as different as night and day. Small town Ontario versus the Big Smoke. Urban versus rural. Natural environment versus built environment.

But over the next little while, these two communities have something very much in common. Something that up until recently, would have been unthinkable in the country.

They are full-fledged, razor wired, jack-booted police states.

I mean, what else can you call them?

Both are ringed with a 3 metre high fence that will be defended by fully armed and outfitted police officers recruited from the RCMP, OPP and the Metre Toronto boyz and girlz in blue. They have been specially trained in the use of anti-riot weapons like water cannons, sonic cannons, tasers, whips, batons, big guns, small guns, tear gas and effective noogy giving.

At first, the chattering was all about the threat of terrorism and hence the need for massive security.  Since terrorism is no longer a “threat”, we should not be too surprised that Day and the other Harperites are now characterizing all protesters as “anarchists and thugs”.  Thus the reason for this incredible and unprecedented armed presence on the streets of T.O. and in the bush around Huntsville. The ReformCons have to say something to warrant the ONE BEEL-LEE-ON dollars being spent on the establishment of the police state.

Sure, there will be some protesters in Toronto (there may be some in Huntsville too, but the main throng will be where they can garner the most media coverage) who are not there to exercise their democratic rights of free expression and assembly in a peaceful and meaningful way. There will be those who are there simply to cause trouble, mayhem and madness and to damage property.

But surely they can be identified fairly quickly and dealt with in an appropriate way? There are, like, thousands of cops and other security personnel, after all! They don’t do advance reconnaissance to identify individuals who may pose a threat? There isn’t a list somewhere?

I find that hard to believe.

Nope – the powers-that-be WANT disruption so they can point to it and say:

“We told you so! All of that money spent on fences, cops, cannons and razor wire was so WORTH it!”

The folks that I do feel sorry for are those in Huntsville and T.O. for whom this whole thing is a nightmare of epic proportions. I even feel sorry for the Bay Street lawyers!

Naw. That’s going too far.

I’ve been keeping an eye on the Torontoist – which is keeping a running tab on what the Gee-Score is ruining or making a mess of.

I’m sure everyone is thanking you, Stevo! From the tourism operators in Muskoka to the LCBO employees in downtown Toronto. Thanks a BILLION!

And all for a photo op…

Well, how is this for a photo op?


The Parry Island folks I knew woulda been pissed…

Sorry, but having grown up with folks of surnames like Pegahmagabow, Tabobondung, King, Rice, Partridge, Nanibush and others… I think this sorry attempt at a politically correct attempt at being inclusive would be chuckled at.

I don’t pretend to be an expert or even a knowledgeable person when it comes to land claims, treaty rights and all the rest. But I did know quite a few of these folks while growing up in the area and they wanted nothing more than to be respected and given the same opportunities as those of us who lived off the Island.

“I knew that we wouldn’t be involved with the G8,” Tabobondung said in an interview this week at the band office on Parry Island, across a single-lane bridge from Parry Sound.

“But I thought, ‘This is part of our traditional country. Our ancestors are still there – we should celebrate that.’”

The 39-year-old chief says guidance came from his grandmother, Chief Flora Tabobondung, who passed away four years ago at the age of 86. Flora was a legendary figure in Canadian first nations, one of the chiefs chosen to go to England in 1982 when the Constitution was being repatriated, one who fought for aboriginal presence at the constitutional table and who subsequently was named to the Order of Canada for her work.

Flora was the Grandmother of an old friend with whom I went to undergrad. I studied Politics and she, Native Studies. I think Shane is her brother. But the name is widespread across the Island and he may be a cousin.

In any case, Canada’s distant heritage is often an afterthought for the main political parties – as much a bother that has to be attended to than anything else.

But I saw the discrimination, the prejudice and the addiction problems with that part of the population in my hometown.

And it’s too bad that Obama et al are getting an oh-so-sanitized view of a very old story in a part of the world I still call my hometown.


How much the Gee-Ate and Gee-Score is costing us…

There are some busy little Grits out there working on stuff like the counter I just embedded to the right…

Kudos where kudos are due…

Thanks to Scott for pointing this out.


Friday miscellany…

In the news….

More titter-titter about le gaspillage in and around Parry Sound / Muskoka wrt the Gee-Ate pork-a-thon!

Local residents, unaccustomed to such attention, are expecting a massive tourism boom…local entrepreneurs arranging guided tours of the childhood home of Bobby Orr, the Magnetawan haunted bridge, the Rosseau General Store, and, of course, the now famous Orrville gazebo…

A Request for Proposals for the construction of a gilded statue of MP Big Tony Clement is being prepared by local staff…

In the States…

Obama sends BP oil mandarin to his room for a time out…GOP Congressman apologises for apologizing to BP for the “shakedown” by the President.

GOP execs send said Congressman to his room for time out.

In soccer…

Noisy bee sound making plastic things are turning off fans and players alike. Claims by South Africans that these vuvuzelas are a part of their culture is nullified by the fact that plastic horns –  made in China – have no place in the African archaeological record.

Upsets, upsets… Spain attack nullified by strong play by the Swiss in the neutral zone… get it? Neutral zone?

France loses to Mexico and immediately appeals to FIFA for a replay of the match due to an undisclosed injury to Thierry Henry’s hand… which hampered 100% of the the French goal scoring ability…

England must win today to be assured of moving on. South African police on guard for hooligans armed with valazuzas… ear plugs on standby.


Right now, Trashy is thinking about…

  • whether he should take the leap and attend a certain information session tomorrow.. tough call.
  • why, oh why is the forecast for every single Saturday filled with rain? Ain’t right, I tell ya!
  • how much dynamite will it take to open the fault line close to the building where I work? Workers are blasting rock at a construction site and seem to be trying to find out.

CPC drop continues… and so does the Grit inability to capitalise…


Friday miscellany…

I haven’t said anything about the so-called “Fake Lake” that has been built to simulate the Gee-Ate setting.

But being from the area, I can only hope that authenticity has been respected and that the lake has leeches, crazy-ass dudes on wave runners, broken beer bottles, loons, drunk teenagers and the water is kept at about 70 F.


Question – why is it raining every single weekend? The work weeks are full of sun but once Saturday arrives – poof! It pours!

I blame Harper.


Good to hear that the 16 year old teen feared lost at sea has been found safe and sound – and help is on the way. Abby Sunderland was sailing through the southern Indian Ocean trying to sail around the world in the 30 foot yacht that her Daddy bought for her (does her Daddy wanna adopt a 48 yr old bald guy?).

BUT – I have two three problems with her being out there in the first place:

1) What parent in there right mind would allow their child (she is a child) to do this? I can only imagine that the Father is a publicity seeking fool who is willing to risk her own daughter’s life for time in the limelight, and

2) Who is paying for the search and rescue operation? I’m sure the Aussies don’t want to foot the bill for that Airbus 320 that was chartered to find her. Nor the French for sending that rescue boat to fetch her.

3) Putting all else aside, it’s WINTER in the Southern Hemisphere! Why not wait till their summer when the weather is much calmer?


I wrecked one of my good shirts the other day. Is there a way to remove ink stains short of dying the whole shirt the colour of the ink?


My Mom Facebooked me with this:

We had a bear or bears here sometime in the night. Dumped all the flower pots and left there calling card on the lawn. love, mom

Quick! Someone call the Gee-Ate organisers! My Mom and Dad’s house is a quick 40 minutes from the conference and someone had better do something about these terrorist anarchist bears before they ruin Harpy’s show! Use some of those BILLION dollars wisely, eh?

Or maybe catch ’em and ship ’em to the Fake Lake along with the leeches! Use Don Cherry as bait!


If I had a billion dollars…

I’d build stuff to get me votes…


Sidewalks, lighthouses and gazebos…

G8 slush fund pays for new sidewalk in Parry Sound… but not to pay the costs of raising the fire hydrant… it’s gonna be tough this winter for that poor hydrant as it will be bashed repeatedly back the sidewalk snowplow!

Here are more pics of how our tax dollars are being spent in Cottage Country.

This is getting to be really embarassing for the ReformCons!

Notice how Harpy is staying out of it and letting “Fat” Tony Clement take the heat?

What a joke! Canada is becoming a laughingstock! And THAT is sad.