When Members of Parliament Fail

Canada just had a federal election. I live in Caledon, a riding so safe for the Conservatives that the locals claim you could run a dead cow as the CPC candidate and it would win. The Conservative MP recently re-elected in my riding of Dufferin-Caledon is Kyle Seeback. This parliamentarian occasionally pens a column in the local paper entitled “Report from Ottawa” which one would suppose would be filled with vital information for the riding’s citizens. Alas, the column would better be titled “Raving Partisan Rants from Ottawa” filled with plenty of wistful speculations and accusations but nothing of substance.

The title of his latest “Report” was “It’s Time to Return to Work, Justin Trudeau” bemoaning the November 22 start of the 44th session of Parliament and complaining that it “is one of the longest delays in recalling Parliament after an election.” Now, Mr. Seeback should be aware that when, as an MP which his byline indicates, he addresses Justin, it should be respectfully as Prime Minister Trudeau. Seeback then boasted that “A Conservative government would’ve recalled parliament much sooner. We’re ready to roll up our sleeves and immediately return to work in the House of Commons to address the priorities of Canadians.”

Whoa there, Kyle. First, the “if we’d won we would have recalled parliament sooner” is analogous to the old saying: If my aunt had had  testicles, she would’ve been my uncle.” Secondly, thanks to Erin O’Toole’s waffling on mandatory vaccinations, your party isn’t even prepared to re-enter the House because of the Conservative anti-vaxxer MP’s who refuse to either reveal their vaccination status or get vaccinated in the first place. You’ll all have to roll up your sleeves to get a shot before you get to work for Canadians. One of the top priorities for Canadians is to do everything possible to get this COVID-19 pandemic under control, so get out and push, or get out.

So, MP Seeback, tell us how you plan to do that so that we can get back to some sense of normal in both our humanity and our economy. Let us know how your party plans to cooperate with the other parties in Parliament to ensure this happens as efficiently and honestly as possible. All we have heard so far is that the CPC plans to be “The Party of NO” ready to shoot down any Liberal bills intended to get us out of this pandemic and back to life and work.

The recent federal election was intended to give Canadians a chance to clearly indicate the direction of their political compass for the next four years. Alas, the $600 million dollar gamble (taxpayer monies which would have been better spent fulfilling the “to do” list from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission) produced a minority government that looks a lot like previous one. Minority governments can work beautifully, but only if all the parties involved come to the table ready to work with collaboration towards consensus on the actions that will benefit all Canadians.

“If we had won” is a vain fantasy Mr. Seeback. Your Party lost. You actually had less of the popular vote than in 2019 and are down 2 seats in 2021. Now, let’s make sure Canada doesn’t lose because of your right wing Conservative Party’s obstinate and antagonistic stance toward anything centre left. If Canadians had wanted the CPC to lead the country, you’d be the governing Party right now. You’re not. Quit whining and get back to work Kyle Seeback. On November 22nd we’ll see who has their sleeves rolled up.

The way I see it.

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Skid Crease, Caledon

Who Are These Protesters?

Fact: Since the Covid-19 Pandemic began, 70,000 Canadians have died from COVID-19 and the unvaccinated now account for over 80% of new infections.

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 The Bolton Protest of August 27, 2021 continues to make the news as the federal election campaign criss-crosses Canada. The obscene, angry, anti-vaxxers, anti-maskers, pro-vapers, pro-smokers. pro-gun, pro-oil pipeline protesters, pro freedom to be selfish continued to disrupt almost every campaign stop made by the Prime Minister of Canada. And yesterday, September 6/21 in London Ontario, a gravel throwing goon assaulted the Prime Minister as he got on his campaign bus.

The protesters appear now to be a well-organized, almost professional, group, attracting local “antis” to join the core team who track and plague the Prime Minister’s public stops with the feeding frenzy of muskeg mosquitoes. It’s not clear if they are funded by tobacco and vaping corporations, the gun lobby, oil and gas interests, and right wing political parties and their individual donors and supporters – that’s a paper trail easy to obscure. But the regular appearances of the core group, the quality of their large “F*ck Trudeau” banners and posters, and the provincial and national co-ordination of their protests indicates a well-oiled machine.

BBC World News noted that political leaders around the world have have been harassed by protesters complaining about the pandemic lockdowns and vaccine restrictions. However, “journalists covering the Liberal campaign say the anti-vaccine protest mobs following Mr Trudeau are more chaotic and sustained than they’ve seen in the past.”

Unlike in the United States where the anti-vaxxer, Ayn Rand devotee, Covidiot Trumpists are almost entirely Republican and the mask wearers almost all Democrats, there is no such 50/50 split in Canada. Phillippe J. Fournier wrote in Maclean’s magazine on June 4, 2021 that in Canada, the anti-vaxxer crowd does not tend to split down political lines as clearly as in the U.S.A. Here the extreme fringes of both the left and the right tend to attract the anti-vaxxer mentality; however, “figures nonetheless suggest that a significant proportion of anti-vaccine voters do lean towards parties on the right of the political spectrum,” primarily the Peoples Party of Canada and the Conservative Party of Canada.

Also of note is that neither the leaders of the CPC, Erin O’Toole, or the PPC, Maxime Bernier, have not endorsed mandatory vaccinations or a national vaccine passport. Conservative O’Toole has gone so far as to endorse personal choice in getting vaccinated, speaks out of both sides of his mouth about automatic assault weapon gun rights, and wants to rebuild oil pipelines that both Canada and the US have already vetoed. This attitude is icing on the cake for the mentality that joins in the types of protests that are now plaguing our democracy and Prime Minister on a regular basis.

If one were stereotyping these protesters, it would be no major leap to say they also listen to Talk Radio 1010, read the Sun, think Ezra Levant of Rebel News is an insightful journalist, and will almost certainly not be voting Liberal or Green or NDP in the upcoming election.

That leaves the usual suspects. Name and shame them and keep them far from your homes and your families. 70,000 Canadians have died thus far from COVID-19 and the unvaccinated now account for over 80% of new infections. A democracy only works if it has a well-educated and well informed core of citizens. Handing the reins of power to the lunatic fringe of these protesters is a really, really bad idea.

The way I see it.

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Skid Crease, Caledon

Earth Day, April 22, 2021

 This Monday I had the great pleasure of being interviewed by Patricia Ogura for the Retired Teachers of Ontario organization. Her brief article is about the quest for environmental literacy and the contribution that the retired educational “elders” can make for our communities and our planet. We spoke about my years of advocacy, and reflected on the need to keep this Earth Day message positive. The truth is, we’re all going to die.

I reflected back to my first Earth Day walk with my students in 1970. How much has changed in fifty-one years? Turns out, not a lot. The most significant impact for environmental improvement has been the arrival of a deadly virus that dramatically slowed manufacturing and transportation pollution. The COVID-19 pandemic also reduced air travel and ocean travel – atmospheric air quality improvement and whale population resurgence followed in the wake of human inactivity.

Fifty-one years later we are still talking about boomerang lunches and taking our own reusable mugs and shopping bags as if we had just discovered these personal actions. A TV show this morning showed children happily making art from recycling box items. Makes us feel personally good for one day, and then it’s back to the shopping mall to buy more “stuff” that will end up in  the recycling box or garage can.

Dear readers, think of this like the solutions for stopping the pandemic. You stop the opportunities for person-to-person transmission: mask, distance, wash hands, and keep to small family/personal bubbles. Period. The vaccines will only work if all those basic steps are followed. Do we want to save humanity and leave a healthy biosphere on the planet? Then humans need to stop consuming the planet’s resources like we have an additional six planets waiting in reserve. There is no vaccine for human stupidity.

Before it was disbanded by Stephen Harper, Canada had a wonderful Science Council made up of real practicing, published and peer reviewed scientists. They advocated for turning Canada from a Consumer to a Conserver Society. That is anathema to the Conservative mindset. Just recently the Conservative Party of Canada voted at their policy Convention NOT to acknowledge the reality of Climate Change. That is how far we have come in fifty years. One step forward, two steps back.

Wonderful groups from Students on Ice to Ontario Nature try their best to educate a concerned and passionate youth about using their voices to inspire change in their communities. In 1990, we had teen Severn Suzuki shaming adults on the world stage at Rio. In 2005, the Students on Ice delegation was included in the Montreal Biodiversity Convention – that UN agreement was shredded a year later by Stephen Harper. In 2020 we had teen Greta Thunberg shaming adults during her global protest tour. Good work children! Pat on the head and back to big business.

My conversation with Patricia was honest. We do these personal role modelling efforts – walk, cycle, electric car, reusable materials, sustainable renewable energy sources, doing business with ethical companies, living elegantly with less, so that we can look our children and our neighbours’ children in the eye and say, “I tried my best.”

In the meantime, in business and politics, the Economy trumps Ecology every time … until there is an overshoot and biological collapse of some major Earth system. That’s when the punch that was predicted thirty-one years ago by the World Meteorological Organization hits us right in the face: “Humankind is conducting an unintended, uncontrolled, all-pervasive experiment on the atmosphere of Earth, the consequences of which will be second only to global nuclear war.” Unanimous concluding statement from WMO, Toronto, 1988

Happy Earth Day 2021. I’m taking my dog for a walk and smiling, behind my mask, at my good neighbours.

The way I see it.

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Skid Crease, Caledon

Shocking and Confusing

Yes,  “shocking and confusing” was how Ontario’s reopening plan was described by Ontario Hospital Association CEO Anthony Dale on February 12, 2021. He added that the move is a “huge gamble” given the scientific modelling presented the day before that predicted a “third wave” of infections driven by the new virus variants .

The plan was cleverly released by Premier Doug Ford and Doctor David Williams, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer, on the Friday before the long Family Day weekend. Both Ford and Williams were harshly criticized by Ontario’s Auditor General Bonnie Lysak in her AG’s report last year. That report stated that Dr. David Williams “did not fully exercise his powers under the Health Protections and Promotions Act, did not issue directives to local medical officers of health to ensure a consistent response, and did not issue directives on their behalf to Ontarians.”

In short, the doctor who was scheduled to retire from his post as Interim Medical Officer of Health last February simply “did not lead” the province’s response to COVID-19. Yet Premier Ford keeps him on the government’s so-called “Science Advisory Board” where today he is backing Ford’s “shocking and confusing” reopening plan. It begins to appear that Dr. Williams is a bit of a “Yes Man” for Ford’s Ontario is Open for Business mantra.

Follow the money, Ontarians. The “Science Advisory Board” is a front that looks like Pandemic Health Protection for the “good people of Ontario”  but acts like Ford’s own Chamber of Commerce. Shocking and confusing, and dangerous to our health.

The way I see it.

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Skid Crease, Caledon

 

*image from princegeorgecitizen.com

Super-Spreader Events

 The unmasked crowds celebrating shoulder to shoulder in the streets of Tampa, Florida last night were proof positive that despite all the health guidelines in the world, sports fans are stupid. In the stadium protocols were followed, but on the streets the Tampa Bay fans cheered and hugged and sang, spreading aerosols and droplets in a person to person celebratory frenzy for Tom Brady and their winning Super Bowl LV champion Buccaneers.

The date was February 7. 2021, and COVID-19 infection rates were just beginning to drop in North America following the Christmas and New Year family gathering  infection surge. So count forward 10 days to two weeks and let’s see if the wave begins to crest again around the last week of February. With new variant strains of the coronavirus entering the playing field, and certain vaccines like Astra-Zeneca proving less effective against the mutants, it could be a whole new ball game.

The whole world of professional and amateur sport is culpable in spreading this virus, From the Super Bowl right down to college football. From hockey and soccer and baseball and basketball fans to the Australian Open tennis entitled to the Olympic hopefuls – all of these venues attracting massive gatherings of people are suspect super-spreader events. Greed is insatiable and money doesn’t sleep, so there is no incentive to postpone all of these events until after this global pandemic is under control.

Granted, most professional and amateur sports organizations have been very careful about following health protocols, but the Super Bowl and the Australian Open stand out as exceptions, and their ability to attract hordes of loyal fans is a marketing mogul’s dream come true. If you advertise it, they will come because, as the partying crowds in the streets of Tampa last night proved, people are stupid.

We are not ignorant of the impact of large crowded events. We have been told since the spring of 2020 to stay 2 metres apart, to wash our hands frequently, to wear masks. We chastized the fanatical crowds at Trump rallies, we held the Sturgess motorcycle mob to account, we held the American Thanksgiving family gatherings up for public shaming, and yet we continue to gather in spewing, alcohol fueled masses like sheep led to the slaughter to watch our gladiators. We are just stupid, and the herd is thinning itself.

In the United States and Canada alone, as of the morning after Super Bowl LV, over 484,000 people have died from COVID-19. To paraphrase detective Dirty Harry Callahan: “Are you feeling lucky today sports fans? Well, are you?”

The way I see it.

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Skid Crease, Caledon

*image from whas11.com