A modest Toronto proposal

Posted on May 14, 2017
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Blog item 170514

A modest Toronto proposal

I am in Toronto at present on a very sad family matter.
I picked my hotel because there is a distinct possibility the direction I have to go each day may change from the south west of the city to the north east. I’m near Yonge and Dundas.
When I lived here, 55 years ago, I used to ride the Queen Street street car every morning and evening going past the hospital where my brother is now. Checking the Toronto Transit Commission web site, I learned all is as it was. First day, I walk down to Yonge and Queen and watch for the cars. Buses keep going by but no street cars. Eventually, passersby direct me to a nearby bus stop. It turns out street cars have been taken out of service until September.
Saturday, I have arranged to meet the daughter of a cousin for dinner out on The Danforth where she lives. We’ve been Facebook friends for quite some time but had never met. I take the Yonge Street subway up to the Bloor Danforth station only to learn the east west subway has been closed down for the day for service. I’m directed to the street for shuttle buses. When I finally find the bus stop, there is a line of people at least 500 feet long waiting for the bus I need. We have set a time to meet at the restaurant so I can’t wait. Dozens of other people have similar concerns so there are mobs looking for cabs. Finally a woman and I looking for a cab to the same intersection join forces and capture one. I barely make it to meet my second cousin(?) on time.
Sunday, I am to meet my sisters, her husband, my brother’s children and his daughter’s children at a church where her older boy will be performing in TC3, a Toronto youth gospel choir that, incidentally performed in a staged White House on “Designated Survivor,” last week. I hadn’t known some episodes of the show are made in Toronto until then.
The church is directly west and a bit north from my hotel so I amble out almost an hour ahead of time to grab a street car to within a couple of blocks of the church.
Surprise again. Not only are the street cars shut down for construction along the line, there are no buses. I have to go a subway stop north to College to get a street car west. I could take the subway but I’m getting nervous so start walking up Yonge thinking I’ll grab a cab unless I get to Yonge and College first.
Surprise again. Yonge Street is shut down for a marathon. Nothing but police cars on Yonge.
Get to College with my time to meet the family getting tight. There is a crowd at the stop. They tell me there has not been a car along in over 10 minutes. Three cars come along going the opposite direction without one coming west. Once again, I scramble to get a cab. The driver has never heard of Huron Street, where the church is. Fortunately I and his GPS are able to get him there although it involves some interesting navigations around one-way streets.
Again make it just in time.
The service, of course, starts 20 minutes late.
The service is amazing but that’s entirely another long story.
My modest proposal after five days of wrestling with Toronto is to blow it up, clear it, level it and plant a huge acreage of marijuana. The city doesn’t work. The citizens have no hope of ever owning a home with the minimum home price at $1,000,000. They spend most of their lives in fruitless attempts to get around. The Feds and the Province pour millions of dollars into trying to make it work with little noticeable effect.
The nation has never liked Toronto. It doesn’t produce anything. With the legalization of recreational pot, there is a good chance to turn it into a solid national revenue producer. It sits on what was once part of the lake bed of Lake Ontario. Sixty-five percent of the best farm land in Canada is visible from the CN Tower. The corporate and bureaucratic towers blown up and cleared away could be easily scattered across the country to the benefit of the country and all its citizens.
If I were to spend one more week here, I’d be considering undertaking the project free lance.
I can’t think of a flaw in my modest proposal. Can you? DAC

The gentleman Jean Lemieux

Posted on December 29, 2015
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Many of my friends and people I admire have earned and received honours and recognition in their fields, regions and communities.
One of the finest I know is not much publicly known and to only a few of my friends in the newspaper industry.
His name is Jean Lemieux . He lives in Montreal. He started selling equipment to the newspaper industry in, I believe, 1958. He still does.
I bought the four unit Harris V-15 web offset press that brought quality, high-speed, productive newspaper printing to North Shore New Brunswick in 1974 enabling not only our papers but others in Bathurst, Campbellton, Caraquet and the Gaspé to greatly enhance their quality and also lower their costs.
Being first language French, of course, he represented one of the biggest newspaper press manufacturers in the world wherever in the world French was spoken. He was the go-to guy for huge presses for newspaper and flyer printing the large Quebec conglomerates like Quebecor and Transcon. His sales would run into the hundreds of millions.
He always kept in touch with me and, any time I was in Montreal always took me, one of his smallest and least likely to be repeat customers, to the finest restaurant in the city at the time even when that restaurant happened to be in Boucherville over an hour’s drive away.
Travelling the world for the company, he always kept me informed of the best restaurants in the top cities of the world. Every year he sent me a copy of the wine ratings for all the world’s top wine regions rating the vintners and the years.
He was always very attentive to any questions or service needs, always full of joie de vie, wit and wisdom and always a model of gentility. Among other things, he showed me around New Orleans on my first visit to the world’s top newspaper printing show there. He mentored a raw country kid not only into the world of modern printing but also into a more sophisticated world than I had known or would have easily found on my own.
When a super bargain on a fabulous eight-unit Harris Mercury web offset press came to his attention, he called me leading to the local Miramich Web Ltd. expansion into the former CFB Chatham industrial park just in time to print our legacy product the 1999 “Trouble At Sea” commemoration of the 1959 Escuminac disaster.
His first marriage failed, a victim I suspect of his arduous road warrior life across the world. There was some family conflict due to his unrelenting loyalty to Canadian federalism. He met a woman back in the early part of this century and they were having a wonderful time together until complications of a routine surgery led to her completely unexpected sudden death devastating Jean once again.
Now, 58 years after he began in the business, he is still his company’s French speaking liaison with the printing world wherever, whenever they need him. That isn’t much anymore. Such few presses as are being sold are more for flyer than newspaper printing and the pioneers who, with Jean at their side, built the large successful groups are mostly retired or dead.
I suspect the reason he remains on the job is that it has been such a huge part of his social as well as his vocational life for almost six decades. I suspect his employers may feel he needs them as much as they need him. I don’t know. I just suspect.
In some vocations and professions. the public knows who the winners are and cares and hands out awards and honours. I don’t know of any such thing for press salesmen or most other types of salesmen for that matter.
They have the respect and admiration of their colleagues and their clients but not much public recognition.
I just felt the need to pay tribute to a guide, mentor and friend of over 40 years. I love him like family and wanted to make it public. DAC

Football should build moral character

Posted on November 16, 2015
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November 16, 2015

I was at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs Dallas Cowboys NFL game in Tampa yesterday, November 15. Every time Cowboys player, Greg Hardy’s, name was mentioned in the play by play reports, a huge percentage of the over 64,000 people in the crowd screamed a chant of “Hardy sucks! Hardy sucks! Hardy sucks!”.
Hardy was convicted of very badly beating his then girlfriend and had been suspended for a year. He appealed the conviction and settled a civil suit with the woman. She didn’t turn up at his appeal of the conviction so it was quashed.
He signed a $13 million contract with the Dallas Cowboys. After the NFL reduced his suspension after a hearing with no push back from the people hearing his defence, he was free to play.
After that, police photographs of the beaten victim surfaced. Tampa Bay Times sports columnist, Tom Jones, dedicated a large sports section front page commentary condemning Hardy, the Dallas Cowboys organization, especially owner Jerry Jones, other teams including Tampa Bay who tried to sign Hardy and the entire NFL and Cowboys fans for supporting Hardy’s presence. Hardy, by the way, is six feet four inches tall and weighs 278 lbs.
Football is a violent sport where very big violent men, many from troubled, violent histories are paid huge sums to be violent. For many of them, violence has been their history and the asset that brings them tens of millions of dollars. Many of them wind up crippled, concussed and suicidal from the game. Many of them were, are or will be criminals.
I’m starting to feel guilty for enjoying it so much. It is part chess, part tremendous athleticism, part special forces type discipline and training, part fitness, endurance and tolerance of pain.
When I was a teen, my school and town had teams in another very violent game. The game is rugby and, at that time, it was sometimes called a game for ruffians played by gentlemen. Good sportsmanship and fair play were part of the training. We had to applaud great plays by the other team. We shared the same dressing rooms. We were expected to help opponents to their feet. We were even supposed to say, “Good tackle” when we were brought down. When tempers did flare, the game stopped until the participants shook hands.
I think that element of rugby may have declined since I was a boy.
I think it should not have and that it should be made part of American football from the time children take up the game. Sports was long supposed to be about character building. If it were applied to football, it could be the salvation of the game and the souls of the player not to mention the physical safety of myriad women.
In one of former Green Bay Packer Jerry Kramer’s books he told of a rant iconic coach Vince Lombardi, for whom the Super Bowl trophy is named, used to level at players in practice. He’d go to a player who was slacking and scream, “Don’t cheat! If you cheat in practice, you’ll cheat in the game. If you cheat in the game, you’ll cheat in life!”.
That should become a guiding mantra of football. DAC

Miramichi’s choice October 19

Posted on October 18, 2015
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Generally speaking, unlike some folks, I tend to like politicians. As a lifelong newspaperman, I saw so many of them work their way up via community service and various kinds of activism. I believe most of them have what they believe to be the best interests of Canada at heart. I also understand that they are elected to be members of a team. They can work hard to promote their ideas and what they see as the interests of their constituents in caucus but, once the caucus, team, leadership, has decided the party policy, they have to support it.
Although I am a social liberal and almost always a party Liberal, I have liked and admired Tilly Gordon, our current Conservative Member of Parliament for some 30 years or so. She truly paid her dues from the time she used to write letters to the Miramichi Leader informing readers about the local paving schedules for the construction season. They were signed by her then husband and Miramichi Bay constituency president, Jim Gordon, but were written in Tilly’s unmistakable teacher language. We knew all Leader readers, including me, were eager to know what roads would be paved. The impact they had is obvious in the fact I still remember that one of them included the surprise news that Beverly Court, my street, would be paved.
She is the first woman Member of Parliament for Miramichi and the first Conservative to win more than one term. As a member, and because of the value of her rare wins, she and we were rewarded with such great federal enterprises as the payroll centre for the entire Canadian government.
Pat (Patrice) Finnigan has also been an excellent citizen with a successful business and serious service as chairman of the Miramichi Regional Hospital board and many other local and regional boards.
I don’t know Mr. Colford of the NDP as well but he came second to Tilly in the last election so obviously many Miramichiers do.
However, I have to put Canada and, more specifically Canadians, first. Conservative party leader and incumbent Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, has done terrible damage to the Canadian fabric. He has been terrible for the environment, for science, for public information as conveyed by the CBC, for evidence-based policy, as in the cancellation of the long form census, for international affairs as in his one-sided support for Israel’s dangerously expansionist government and Canada’s peace keeping reputation. Canada’s Lester B. Pearson INVENTED UN peace keeping and got the Nobel Peace Prize for it.
Harper damned the Chretien government for not joining the US in the invasion of Iraq.
Economically, Harper brags about his management of the economy, especially Canada’s recovery from the 2008 financial collapse. In fact, in opposition, he damned Paul Marttin for refusing to allow Canadian banks to join the US banks in the investment shenanigans that led to the crash of the world economy.
Currently his economic policies have favoured the super rich and even the reasonably well off middle class. His doubling of the TFSA allowances have been great for me, for example, but not for working or most middle class Canadians. Government should not be helping me, it should be helping young people who aren’t getting jobs with benefits and pension plans until they are in their early to mid 30s while trying to cope with education debt. He should be helping middle class workers who have not seen any real wage gains during his regime.
In the most practical local terms, as good as Tilly O’Neill Gordon has been for the Miramichi, it seems fairly obvious she would not be able to do more for us. It appears very unlikely she would be on the government side in the next Parliament.
For Canada, Canadians and Miramichiers, therefore, I think it is obvious that our best choice tomorrow is to vote for Liberal Pat Finnigan.

P3 Miramichi nursing home

Posted on September 21, 2015
Filed Under Commentary, History & Culture, Miramichi | Leave a Comment

My wife and I attended the Thursday, September 17, meeting regarding the proposed public private partnership nursing home for Miramichi. I wanted to hear the case for both sides of the proposed shift from two public ownership homes to a privately owned, managed and operated home.
I think it is fair to say that most of the people there were already firmly opposed to the P3 approach. Perhaps 30 percent of the audience wore red shirts indicating they were home employees or members of the same union or other unions. They naturally don’t like the idea of losing their CUPE contract, their seniority rights and wage levels.
Of the rest, I surmise that some were Liberal party supporters like myself and others were supporters of the union position or, also like myself, wanted to know what the arguments are for both sides.
 My mother died in The Mount and I have been a Meals On Wheels driver for 32 or 33 years. Both of those experiences have left me with a strong feeling of respect, admiration and affection for the staff in both those homes although I should clarify that my observations of the Miramichi Senior Citizens Home is limited to the kitchen.
I thought it was courageous and proper of Lisa Harris and the Honourable Bill Fraser to call, organize and entice several cabinet ministers to the meeting knowing they would be subjected to considerable heat.
The audience, including the union members were vociferous and sometimes loud but, for the most part, willing to listen to the politicians and make their case politely. A few union leaders were more aggressive but that is to be expected. They are the guard dogs of worker rights and employed or elected to fight for them.
I thought Lisa Harris did a fine job of chairing the meeting and maintaining a balanced tone of respect for her constituents and keeping the meeting civil.
One thing that puzzles me is why politicians will sit and absorb abuse for not taking a public position on what they will decide without explaining why that is. Several union folk wanted them to hold up their hands to indicate whether they would support the union position or not.
The way government cabinets and, I think, union boards have their individual opinions but do not express them publicly. They thrash out their differences in their meetings and then present a united front to the public regardless of their personal feelings. You may not like that but it is a time-proven system for any kind of team, public or private, political, union, religious or sports.
I don’t know why ministers don’t just explain that simple fact even if it wouldn’t satisfy protesters. When they don’t, I think many people assume they are against those wanting their support and afraid to say so.
I thought that Honourable Cathy Rogers, Social Development minister, did explain that she has a thorough knowledge of and empathy for the poor and disadvantaged. When she said she had been a single mom raising kids for 17 years, I didn’t like it that some people booed. She was unfailingly patient and polite and I believe she has the credentials to look out for the public interest.
I truly don’t know whether she would side with the union in cabinet or not but I know she would be out of cabinet if she publicly declared that she opposed its collective decisions and policies.
The home workers’ opinions certainly dominated the meeting as expected but I think they should realize that they represented a quite small part of the total electorate.
As a result, their repeated insistence on having their jobs and contract guaranteed may seem a little presumptuous to the public at large. Most citizens and small business people have never had a guaranteed job. One union official said to the cabinet members, “If you don’t guarantee our jobs, we won’t guarantee yours”. As if anyone can or does guarantee an elected member’s or a cabinet member’s job. Sooner or later, almost all of them are rejected by the electorate whether they deserve it or not.
Even within the nursing home field, many or most workers don’t have the wages, benefits and job security the government run home workers have. That is not at all to say either group should not but just to point out that fact.
As I said above, I have a very good impression of the care givers and boards of the local homes. I remember when the late Donna McLean used to organize happy hours complete with entertainment and small cups of beer for Mount residents. The night my mother died, the staff were still coming in to moisten her lips and move her to prevent bed sores as if she were going to live another 10 years. Visiting there most days, I observed the kindness and patience and skill with which the staff dealt with some very difficult issues. Two different women who worked there have told me they sometimes crawled onto the beds and cuddled lonely old people when time or breaks permitted in the middle of the night. That’s probably against a rule but hearing it was very comforting. I hope I don’t get anyone into trouble. I remember being told years ago how the kitchen manager at the Miramichi home managed to work fresh lobster into the meal plan in the season.
Over the years, I’ve heard many more stories about how kind and helpful the workers have been to people’s parents.
Given some of the horror stories we hear about other homes in larger centres, I concluded that the Miramichi, and probably most of the Maritimes, has a special culture of care giving.
Of the audience comments I heard, the ones that really made an impression on me were the ones by Kim Savoie and Pat Diotte.
Ms Savoie’s heart was very much on her sleeve when she spoke to the need to move the nursing home residents’ “family,” meaning home staff, with them as they moved to completely new surroundings.
Mr. Diotte’s address reminded me that that culture also exists at the board level and has worked very well for local patients. I worry that a private corporation might not support lobster treats for patients.
The only beef I ever had with the Mount, when I had the newspapers, was when the Mount board resisted my plan for an article about how the patients there were given beer at the occasional Friday happy hour. The local beer reps were taking turns providing a case or two. I thought it was wonderful. The board was, I was told, afraid of an uproar if some people learned that the patients were being treated as grown up citizens and not children or prisoners.
I also understand the government’s position that private management can effect certain efficiencies. In our modern world, centralized management, purchasing, information management, marketing and systems are taking over in every field of endeavour. When we hear demands to maintain local jobs and local business contracts, we never hear anyone suggesting we pay more taxes. We want government to provide more services for less money. Like it or not, centralization offers economies of scale.
New Brunswick is as much a charity case in Canada as Greece has been in Europe. We have maintained a generally higher per capita number of public service jobs than the rest of Canada without paying the cost. To some extent that is natural. We have roughly the population of the City of Hamilton, Ontario, but we are spread out over a far larger area.
We have been Greece to Europe’s Germany. In our case, Germany has been Ontario and then the western provinces. Alberta is losing its ability and inclination to continue that.
I also like Honourable Cathy Rogers point that the P3 approach will offer local workers opportunities they have never had before. Miramichiers have, over the years, found their personal advancement by leaving. Employees of a national or international senior care home here would provide stepping stones to advancement. From what I know of the local workers, I fully expect they would be in very high demand. Not all of them are saints. Some of them should not have guaranteed job security. The ones who do deserve advancement opportunities which often are not available in a shrinking local economy.
Minister Rogers also pointed out a fact that got little recognition at the meeting. The aging baby boom demographic is temporary. In 25 years, provincial needs may be very different. The government could walk away from an obsolete facility. The Morrissy Bridge is a prime example of how difficult it is for government to dispose of obsolete or surplus assets.
Many locals probably do not realize that the Rodd Miramchi does not own the building it occupies. The hotel, which includes government offices, and adjacent seniors’ residence is owned by another private firm. The Rodd corporation manages it.
I am very sympathetic to the challenges facing any New Brunswick government. With a shrinking, aging population and fewer babies per capita being born, providing modern services and facilities on shrinking income looks like an impossible task to me. I almost question the sanity of anyone who wants to try. It reminds me of the variation on an old saying to, “If you can keep your head, when all around you are losing theirs, the odds are you don’t really understand the situation”.
Finally, it could be possible for a local co-operative of some sort to submit a proposal to own, manage and operate the seniors project. It wouldn’t be easy to compete with international conglomerates but having a contract could be a significant part of a business plan that would qualify for a bank loan. Having committed tenants is the most important criterion for the development of every mall that is built. Perhaps there is even a development corporation out there somewhere that would like to work with local management. Home Hardware and some other national chains work like that.
When all is said and done, I sincerely hope that the local management and the local staff who seem to have performed very well here over the years can be preserved. My personal experience with them has been remarkably positive.

Sobey brothers retirement milestone

Posted on July 24, 2015
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David and Donald Sobey, the brothers who have led the Sobey’s supermarket chain and Empire, the investment and holding company to national prominence, have both announced their retirements as they reach 80 years of age.
I moved to Pictou County, Nova Scotia, from Montreal in 1966. By chance I wound up living a few doors down the street from the Sobeys grocery chain head office in Stellarton. Sobeys was also the biggest customer for the little printing plant I was running.
Bill Sobey, the eldest of founder Frank Sobey’s sons was president of the company and mayor of the Town of Stellarton.
Donald Sobey, with one assistant, ran Empire Company from a cubby hole in the Sobey’s head office. I leased a car from the Chrysler Dodge dealership that was part of Empire.
Frank Sobey was no longer actively involved in the operations of the growing grocery chain. He had been recruited by then Nova Scotia premier, Robert Stanfield, to head up Industrial Estates, the province’s industrial development and recruitment Crown Corporation.
Some of Industrial Estates’s prizes located in Pictou County. Scott Maritimes Pulp Ltd., the cool Clairtone stereo systems with their trademark globe speakers, Michelin Tire and various other smaller corporations came to the county in the next few years.
The firm was already displaying steady growth and impressive modern marketing techniques. Having worked with Southam Business Publications Ltd. in Toronto and Montreal, I still had contacts with the company. I wrote to the editor of “Executive,” the company’s flagship business magazine suggesting that he might be interested in articles on Sobey’s and two other Maritime firms that were also growing and establishing market dominance. One was Irving Oil. The other was McCain’s.
The editor rejected the idea saying that the companies might have some regional significance but didn’t have any national import.
From that time to this, of course, all three companies have been stars on the regional and national scene. Irving and McCain’s both have large international presence.
In Pictou County, in the mid 1960s, the Sobeys were all very active and visible locally.
One of the first stories I heard about Frank Sobey was that he did his own banking and stood in line with other customers. That said quite a lot about the kind of man he was.
Bill was the family star at the time. He led the company while also serving as mayor of Stellarton. He was also active in the Prince William Yacht Club in Pictou Landing. For one thing, Sobey’s had donated two Flying Junior sail boats. They were used for teaching juniors to sail but were available to any other member when not be used for classes. Another young man and myself took advantage of that by becoming associate members of the club. That, in turn, meant we were included in the club social events. Imagine my surprise when I stepped up to the bar at happy hour and sound Bill Sobey cheerfully taking his turn as bar tender. Not only that but he gave me a suggestion for which I am grateful to this day. Like many young Maritimers then and now, my drink was dark rum and cola. He suggested that I try using half cola and half soda water for mix. Over the years that gradually led to abandoning sweetened mixes altogether.
To local grief and dismay, Bill died of a heart attack at 62 with the company’s most spectacular growth still ahead.
David and Donald and next generation family presided over putting in place the management that has made the chain the second largest in Canada.
The family has also been generous corporate citizens with Donald especially being a huge supporter of the arts and education at the regional and national level.
David was a regular visitor to the Miramichi as much or more, I think, for Salmon fishing as for business.
The retirement of David and Donald marks a significant milestone for the company. The family influence on the business is now quite diffused among succeeding generations and into the hands of the non-family executive management.
It has been a pleasure to observe the family’s success over the past 50 years and to have had the opportunity for a few years to see them close up to get an idea of what they are like as people as well as corporate leaders. DAC

National anthem tradition vs progress

Posted on October 2, 2014
Filed Under Commentary, Economic & Political Philosophy | Leave a Comment

CBC Radio’s Maritime Noon topics for today included whether we should amend our national anthem’s “in all thy sons command,” to “in all of us command”. Several of those speaking against the proposal cited tradition as their reason.
I think we certainly should. I think this is one of those discussions that is going to seem silly looked back on 20 years from now.
With regard to tradition, some are worth keeping. A tradition of trying to be fair and tolerant and inclusive is worth preserving. A tradition of treating women like property (which we used to do) or as second class citizens with no equity in marital assets (which we recently used to do) or imprisoning homosexuals (which we used to do) are not.
If tradition always trumps progress why do we need Parliament? Every new law or program violates tradition. Canada is, or was, a progressive nation. I remember the fuss when Lester B. Pearson’s Liberal government decided on our new flag. I doubt you could find much support for going back to the old one now.
And, yes, we should also make it inclusive for New Canadians and especially for First Nations people.
The good old days and tradition often harken back to a time when all the power and privilege was held by powerful, rich, old, white men.

Election ideas we won’t hear

Posted on August 28, 2014
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With a provincial election pending on September 22, there is a great deal of discussion regarding New Brunswick’s frightening economic condition.
I don’t think there is any silver bullet to reverse the international trend from country to city. However, I do see have some thoughts on how the Maritime economy might be improved.
1) isn’t it ridiculous to have four Atlantic Provinces for fewer that 2,000,000 people? The economy could be more competitive with one. I love New Brunswick but no one even knows we are here.
2) Imagine if health care were a national, instead of a provincial, program. Maritimers have, I think a special culture of care giving. If health care were national, the Maritimes could market itself as a retirement haven. As it is, old people are a huge liability to New Brunswick.
3) The St. John River valley has been generally more prosperous than the Northern and Eastern areas. One reason is that the major industry on the West side is McCains. They process potatoes and grow some but contract with private, independent farmers for most of the crop. What if the Province of New Brunswick sold all the Crown Land to private, independent owners with the proviso that forest products processors like sawmills and pulp mills could not own forest land they don’t already? I think it might work better if processors had to negotiate for supply with woodlot owners and the market would decide who got the wood instead of bureaucrats and politicians. Sounds radical but private ownership works in many other parts of the continent and the world. As it is, I don’t think the Province realizes much profit from owning Crown Lands. Selling it and taxing it and regulating it would probably be better financially for the government.
4) Currently the province spends money on all kinds of economic development which again involves politicians, bureaucrats and local committees making decisions about handing out money. I think programs that encouraged all businesses, rather than the chosen ones, would make better economic sense.
One example is the shameful double property taxation of commercial properties. All businesses pay more for less service than residential owners do. They pay provincial as well as municipal property taxes and don’t even get garbage removal included. Thus every small business that owns or rents pays roughly double property taxes. Residential apartment tenants do that too which is shameful. Doing away with that would benefit all business and make them more competitive locally and for export.
The plethora of economic development programs includes local ones that are supposed to stimulate local business development with grants. The problem there is that a great many of these grants go to businesses that compete with existing, often struggling, businesses already in the market. It is harmful and discouraging to local businesses to have their own tax money used against them.
Business Improvement Area taxes were originally conceived to provide money for independent merchants to provide attractions and promotions like mall tenants could with their communal funds. What actually happened is that many of the merchant groups used the tax money to set up offices and hire staff leaving little or nothing for actual promotion and marketing. One even had its members selling cookbooks to provide money to sustain the office that wasn’t doing anything that made the members’ cash registers jingle.
Doing away with the BIAs would save every business money.
5) Why does a a province with 750,000 and shrinking people have so many police forces? Why not have one with detachments across the province. It could be more efficient and sophisticated and would give individual officers the opportunity to work their way up without having to change employers.
6) Why does the province own retail liquor stores? If they got out of the business, it could help many of the convenience stores and gas stations survive which they are finding very difficult. Letting Walmart and Costco and the supermarkets carry liquor would mean we could get the benefit of their buying power and the variety of products they could provide as they do now with the products they sell. An added benefit is that it would reduce the potential for corruption. As it is now, a committee decides what brands of liquor and wine are available. That kind of structure is a magnet for corruption.
7) Why is Atlantic Lotto immune from transparency? Surely any publicly owned body with control over so much cash ought to be most transparent. Again, a cash cow that big is a magnet for skulduggery. Each of the four Atlantic Provinces finance ministers cops out saying they would be all for it but the other three don’t agree. Time to call that for the nonsense it is and make every Atlantic Lotto transaction and contract and hire wide open to the public.
8) One of the things that holds New Brunswick back is the myth that we are Canada’s bilingual province. We are not. We are dualingual, duacultural and dual governed. What this means in practical terms is that for many Anglo and Franco people employment opportunities are severely limited. That is one of the factors that drives so many young people away. Even if one partner in a couple is bilingual, if the other is not, they may have to leave for a place where both can find work. It is in the national constitution that New Brunswick has go provide services to its citizens in the language of their choice. Time to get serious about making all of our citizens able to do that. Segregationists currently call the shots and protect their little enclaves. It is time to get past the idea that French and English cannot become bilingual in the same school system and find a way that they can. We simply cannot afford the historical prejudices that made that true and continue to make Francophones accept it as gospel. It is a mountain that has to be climbed.
9) I believe New Brunswickers can do anything. Just browsing social media reveals all kinds of talents that are world class but under utilized and unable to earn a living wage in our tiny markets. More proof of this is the great success of the people who have to leave the province they love but have huge success all over the world. One thing we ought to be doing is asking these people to mentor us. I know they are willing to do it and it is shameful we don’t ask. I personally know of several provincial expatriates who know the routes that lead to success.
To sum up, I think government’s role ought to be to provide as efficient an infrastructure as it can for citizens and business so they can compete with each other and in the wider market place most efficiently.
On we go! DAC

Feminists versus femininity

Posted on August 14, 2014
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Feminism versus femininity

There is a current todo about a website,
http://womenagainstfeminism.tumblr.com on which women post photos of themselves holding signs saying they are not feminists or don’t need feminism and listing reasons why.
In my opinion this is just another wave in the continual misunderstanding of what feminism is. Much of it is deliberately created by people who want to make feminists look bad. Some of it is a result of radicals who want to use feminism as an anti-masculinity weapon.
Anti-feminists promote the idea that feminism is anti femininity. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
Feminism is purely about women having the same rights as men. My mother was an ardent feminist and one of the most joyously feminine women I ever knew. She believed in and fought for women’s right to vote, own property, have their own bank accounts, mail and credit. She believed women had the same right to their personal, political, financial and sexual independence as men.
She also loved courtly manners, flirting and using feminine wiles to achieve her objectives. As a court reporter, she used cookies for the judge, prosecution and defence to encourage them to take the time to help her get the story right. If she noticed a judge fighting a cough, she would make sure there were lozenges on his bench after break or lunch. Male reporters could have done that too but they didn’t. I wonder if she would have done that for female judges, prosecutors or defence attorneys. There were hardly any of those in those days.
Frankly I find it ridiculous that any woman or any man would not be a feminist.
Femininity and masculinity are biological traits. Men are programmed to notice and appreciate healthy looking women. Getting angry at them for that is to be angry at nature. Women are also programmed to notice and appreciate certain things about men that would make them good sires for their children although, traditionally, they were more circumspect about it. That may be changing.
Biological femininity and masculinity are not without their dangers and threats to personal happiness.
Our genes do not care if we are happily married or not. Men’s genes want to spread themselves as far and wide as they can to improve their likelihood of survival. Women’s genes are constantly on the lookout for new chromosomes to improve and increase their survival. Genes don’t give a damn about marriage or the golden rule.
The comforts, joys and securities of a happy relationship require management of one’s own genes and a constant effort to maintain excitement.
Even so, it is hard to predict the future of relationships. It used to be that many women put up with the double standard to preserve the home and family while they raised their children. All that is changing now as women gain their financial and sexual independence. One woman I know says that serial monogamy is the probable future. As life experience and career development change individuals, relationships will wax and wane and often extinguish completely.
When a couple can maintain a happy relationship, their children seem to be more emotionally successful so there must be some current biological advantage to monogamy if only for mutual security.
All of that, in my opinion, is an argument for feminism. I cannot imagine any argument for a system where women are property or second class and not equal partners in politics, finance and sex. Just as children need two parents to balance the task of child rearing, a healthy society needs both male and female and, we are learning, gay and trans sexual participation in politics, business and social life.
There is an old Hungarian aphorism that a treaty is an equality of inequalities. US President, Lyndon Johnson, was, I believe, the first to say that politics is the art of the possible.
Neither men nor women are going to be absolutely happy with the compromises necessary to male and female equality. All religions have, at their root, the golden rule requiring us to treat others as we would be treated. That doesn’t always make us happy either but it does represent the closest to heaven we can get.
If you believe in equality and the golden rule, you have to be a feminist. You must also manage your femininity and masculinity to provide the maximum amount of fulfilment and joy for yourself and your partner. Sex is a such a powerful part of life that one of Cadogan’s laws is that there are only two things going on in the world. One is sex. The other is foreplay.
Like fire, sex is a wonderful servant but a terrible master. To be happy and successful, we have to work hard to find and maintain the line that makes us happy captains of our fates.
It will not happen if we are not all feminists. We have to all be masculinists too. To me that means working together to raise boys who want to and will work to be good and attractive partners for women. Failure to do that leads to the insecurity and misogyny that leads loser men to massacre women.
I have seen major progress and some wrong trails in my lifetime. I don’t know where the freedom feminism brings will take us. I am confident it will be a far better place that we have been and where much of the world still is. If you believe women should be allowed to drive and go to school, you are and need to be a feminist. If you believe women should not be imprisoned for surviving rape and don’t believe in killing your daughters or sisters for some perverted sense of family honour, you are and need to be a feminist.
Don’t confuse feminism with femininity. They do not conflict.
On we go. DAC

Anti-gay-marriage lawyers

Posted on July 9, 2014
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The law society of New Brunswick is currently one of only four Canadian provincial societies that have decided to accredit applications for membership from graduates of Trinity Western University in British Columbia. TWU is an evangelical Christian school whose students sign a covenant to abstain from sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman. Sexual intimacy between same sex partners, even if legally married, therefore violates the covenant.
After the New Brunswick society agreed to accredit TWU graduates, a group of members started a petition to have the decision reconsidered. They may well be justified to have that done. There are differing opinions on how the issue was dealt with at the meeting.
That said, I cannot imagine how the society could refuse to accredit the TWU grads. I vehemently disagree with the idea the covenant represents. When Parliament debated including gays as groups to be protected from discrimination in the revision of the Charter of Rights, I wrote that it was one of those arguments that would seem silly in 10 years. Of course they deserved and needed that protection. And now the question does indeed seem silly.
People, including lawyers, are however entitled to hold different beliefs. Signing the covenant does not signify that TWU grads will try to flout the law. In practical, political terms, it would, I think, probably disqualify any of them from being appointed to be judges but not from practising law.
It is very probable that almost all lawyers and judges disagree with something that is law. Some would disagree with mandatory sentencing. Some may believe in capital punishment. Some undoubtedly think marijuana or prostitution laws should be different. Many must disagree with gun ownership laws.
There is and always has been a tendency among people to equate what they don’t like with what should be illegal or boycotted. People are often willing to punish a corporation for the bad behaviour of a single employee. We see examples every day.
I heard a Maritime Noon discussion of privacy rights recently in which callers were almost unanimous in what corporations or media should not be allowed to do without ever considering the effect such bans would have on what they personally would be allowed to do or banned from doing. If, for example, you don’t think a newspaper ought to be able to take and print a picture of you at a public gathering, do you agree that you should not be allowed to take a picture of your family at the beach if other people are also there? Should you be allowed to post them or circulate them to your friends?
There was a recent instance where a social media posting of a little girl whose face was badly scarred by a dog mauling, claimed she had been asked to leave a fast food outlet because her appearance was disturbing other customers. I’ve not seen any evidence or confirmation it even actually happened. If it did, the thousands of employees and the management of the firm would naturally be as upset about it as you would be. And yet, thousands of people were prepared to punish the entire company and everyone who works for it. The power of public boycott is as susceptible to abuse as any other power. It is also easy to mobilize for nefarious purposes.
When Americans were angry that France would not join them in the invasion of Iraq, which was itself the result of a cooked up story about weapons of mass destruction, someone cooked up the idea that the Target department store chain was a French company and was properly pronounced Tarjay. Total fiction but very damaging to the company even though it should not have been even if true.
We who live in democracies and treasure our freedom should be scrupulously diligent to ensure we extend and protect that same freedom of expression and thought and legal action to everyone else especially those with whom we disagree.
Voltaire biographer, Evelyn Beatrice Hall, described his belief as, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”.
I think homosexuals, victims for so long of vicious discrimination, would and should be especially diligent in that regard. I wonder how long ago it was that law societies would not accept to their bar openly gay applicants?
On we go! DAC

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