Yellow Vests, White Pests

 When the Yellow Vest Convoy rolled across Canada under the disguise of protesting an atmosphere saving price on carbon, every sane citizen in the country should have thrown their bodies across the highways to block the trucks. This climate change denying, xenophobic parade of pollution spewing  fossil fools should have been turned back to sink in the tar sands.

Instead, they will idle their trucks for a few days in the nation’s capital, get their undeserved CBC talking heads exposure, sensational front page headlines in the Sun for a few days, and two thumbs up from Andrew Scheer as he bottom feeds for votes.

Yes, wearing their true blue MAGA (Make Alberta Great Again) caps, the “United We Roll” mob will stomp and puff out their chests and chant until the diesel fuel runs out, at which point most of the audience will have passed away from toxic fumes. Just mention the words “Liberal and National Energy Program” in the same breath to a pre-Paleolithic Albertan, and you will spawn a Convoy.

Now, keep in mind that some of my favourite memories and old friends are from Alberta, and probably much of the fossil fuel I burned for years driving around the country. That was then and this is now. Alberta can’t hold the country hostage for wasting the legacy that Peter Lougheed saved up in the Heritage Fund.

Also keep in mind that the Yellow Vest organizers acknowledge that there were more than Albertans in the United We Roll Convoy as confirmed by Ontario’s Sault Ste. Marie  Yellow Vest organizer who referred to Canada’s immigration Minister as an “ugly n*****” responsible for flooding Canada with useless n***** muslim terrorists.” You get known by the company you keep, good truckers everywhere.

Nor does anyone deny that Alberta should be resurrected as an energy giant in Canada, If half the “energy” that the organizers put into this convoy went into transforming the oil extraction and pipeline sector into high tech renewables, the problem would be solved. Like when the blacksmith’s shops became mechanics garages that became computer analysis workstations. Change is inevitable.

However, the resistance to this change requiring job retraining and infrastructure transformation is at least more palatable than the white nationalist and white supremacist core of the Yellow Vest Convoy. Yellow Vests Canada bears little resemblance to the movement that started in France to protest growing fuel prices. In Canada, the Great White North, its goal is to quell immigration, not sign the United Nations’ migration pact, and stop carbon taxes and a sustainable development agenda.

In other words it is racist, environmentally illiterate, and dangerous.

It’s one thing to cheer for the good old roughneck who has to go back to school; it’s totally another thing to cheer for the fascists carrying the tiki torches.

The way I see it.

***

Skid Crease, Caledon

*image from jwnenergy.com

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Snow Plow Dazed

It’s not the first shoveling of the driveway that gets you. You finish, the driveway is clear, your partner’s car backs out and away, you go inside to warm up and have a fresh coffee … and you hear it. The unmistakable sound of the snowplow coming. Your head droops heavily to your chest. You don’t even have to look out of the front door, You know it will be waiting.

Yes. The dreaded plow row. In our case, a two metre swath of high speed blade compressed snow thrown across the base of the driveway, I practice mindfulness, stretch and go out for part two.

My problem is that I love snow shoveling. I will go up and down the street helping the older folks. I used to enjoy this until my wife pointed out, “Honey, you are the older folk!” Still, if they couldn’t sink Molly Brown, they’re not going to stop me from shoveling!

There is a certain joy to the swish and toss of each bladeful of snow, to the patterns of removal that are like a Bansky in ice crystals, to the satisfaction of seeing the once knee deep drifts cleared, and the runway ready for takeoff. Until you hear the plow. There is not a snow shoveler among us who does not shiver in despair at the sound of the plow approaching. Some stand and curse with raised fists (I confess), and others merely retreat indoors for a cup of Zen tea, rest and return gracefully. Do not go gently into that snowy night! The roar of the plow is our call to action!

That and the sound of a neighbour starting up a snowblower. Top on my list of hated tools is the leaf blower, an obscene serenity obliterating device that was invented to consume energy and make the broom extinct. Curlers take note. Next is the snowblower. There you are, enjoying the tranquility of a winter day, gleefully tossing shovel blades of individually unique six sided crystals hither and yon, when the roaring motor and  burning stench of petrochemical fuel fills the air.

Sure, over zealous shoveling can lead to heart attacks, but that’s how winter thins the herd. Snowblowers thin the planet!  Alas, the days when real Canadians used to shovel their driveways seem to be fading.

Until that day is over, I stand, shovel ready to meet the plow!

***

*image from hardhathunter.com

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Feast Bags

I recently gave a workshop at an outdoor education event and, along with all of the other presenters, was acknowledged for my services with a “Feast Bundle” as part of what is known locally as the Woteca Challenge! The gift was a beautifully hand painted bag inscribed with the words “Mino Bimaadiziwin” – or “Live the Good Life” in the language of one of our First Peoples.

Keep in mind that apparently when our First Peoples went to a community feast, they brought their own parflech case made from deer hide and decorated with porcupine quills. The bag contained utensils made from wood and clay and copper. So the legend goes. My Feast Bundle gift was modern.

Two thoughts to live by: There is no free lunch, and,  Always look a gift horse in the mouth.

If I had received a Feast Bundle in “the good old days” the contents would have slowly recycled back into Earth to become food again in some form. Not so with the modern Feast Bundle. But before I continue, keep in mind that we in the environmental literacy movement had begun white colonial litterless and boomerang lunch campaigns way back in the 80’s. I cannot count the number of litterless lunch bags and contents I have received and given away.

At one point my wife said to me, “Do not bring one more mug, enviro logo T-shirt or bag home!” Yes, across thirty years you can accumulate a lot of well meaning stuff.

So, last Saturday, 2019. I received my Feast Bundle. The Mela-Ware bowl and plate set was my first flag. Followed by the 100% polyester napkin, a Sail metal mug made in China, and a set of beautiful stainless steel wooden handled cutlery made in Japan. The Sail mug was from the local Sail store at a remarkable 70% sale reduction – smart economics.

However, there is a new ethic in town called Cradle to Cradle. The idea is that if you can’t get it back as food, you shouldn’t create it in the first place.

For those who are not aware, Mela-Ware is tableware made of melamine-formaldehyde resins intended for repeated use. Melamine is a white crystalline compound made by heating cyanamide and is used in making plastics. Formaldehyde is a colourless pungent gas in solution made by oxidizing methanol – it can cause respiratory irritations and cancer. (Ah, living life better through chemistry.) This plastic is commonly known as melamine-ware. It is economical and widely used around the world due to its durability, and good chemical stability and heat resistance, but is not microwave safe. And while not a one-time disposable plastic tableware, it is not recyclable.

As for the napkin, polyester is a synthetic fiber derived from coal, air, water, and petroleum. Developed in a 20th-century laboratory, polyester fibers are formed from a chemical reaction between an acid and alcohol. In this reaction, two or more molecules combine to make a large molecule whose structure repeats throughout its length. Polyester is not considered eco-friendly.

My “feast bag” gift was given with the best of intentions. It is a reminder to bring our own utensils to the community feast and to not leave any garbage behind. The road to extinction is paved with good intentions, so was this a feast or famine bag? To reduce the ecological footprint of a product, one has to look at the distance it travels from point of origin to point of sale. One also has to consider the production process from extraction to waste disposal. I fear that the ecological footprint of my modern Feast Bag was far greater than it’s good intentions.

So thanks, but no thanks. I’m keeping the bag, but the stuff is going back.That’s the bottom line. We have enough “stuff” in our cupboards to fill a community’s Feast Bags. Don’t need more stuff. Need environmental literacy.

Grow local, eat local, shop local. buy local and feast for seven generations.

The way I see it.

***

 

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Naked no more

For years now, my favourite opening gambit for inviting a  prospect to an Interview was, “Meet you, 10:30 A.M., Naked,” It always worked as an intriguing hook.  But soon, there will be Naked no more in Caledon.

Yes, sadly, my favourite meeting place is closing and the wonderful and talented Svetlana is moving on to new chapters in her life.

I have met politicians, journalists, budding authors, neighbours and new friends over the years at Naked Café and loved every minute of it. Whether it be lessons in journalism from Hap, editing sessions with Max, neighbourhood gossip with Bob, ghost writing with Ruth, or meetings with random spirits, it was all wonderful.

One of my favourite memories  was recreating a “Coffee in Cars with Comedians” episode when one of my former students turned up in her Porsche to take me out for a local coffee. Of course we went to the Naked Café, We titled that story, “Coffee in Cars With Canoeists.”

And most recently, I walked in to Naked to protest the closing, and met Bonnie for the first time, She was just picking up her order to go. We started up a conversation over our shock at the closing, and now Bonnie and her long distance twin Clyde are literary confidents. It reminded me of that famous Leo Buscaglia story, where he gets on an elevator with a total stranger, says hello enthusiastically and gives him a big hug, “Do I know you?” asks the other man. “You do now!” answered the always ebullient Leo.

The Naked Café had a loyal following who enjoyed the friendly atmosphere, great fresh food, and specialized baked goods. Svetlana, you and your wonderful staff will truly be missed … but not forgotten.

So this week, I have booked it up – today Bonnie & Clyde, Wednesday Max, Thursday Bob, and Friday for a solo Turmeric latte. Next week, who knows what random intersections and conversations may occur. If you’re looking for a good story, I’ll meet you there … Naked at 10;30 …

***

For anyone who may have missed the sign on the door, Friday, January 31 is the last day to go Naked in Bolton.

 

 

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Ontario News Now … IS NOT

Skid Crease is a member of the Canadian Association of Journalists, an author, an internationally renowned speaker, and a lifelong educator currently living in Caledon, Ontario.

***

In 2018, Doug Ford, candidate for the leadership of the Progressive Conservative party of Ontario, blocked the mainstream media from his campaign tour and instead co-opted Lyndsey Vanstone, reporter turned staffer,  to be his “media spokesperson” for “public events” that were privately recorded and staged. Enter Ontario News Now!

Lyndsey moved up quickly through the Doug Ford dynasty beginning in June of 2018. In less than six months she rose from being his Press Secretary, to his Executive Assistant, to the Deputy Director of Communications for the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario. Impressive! Granted that Lyndsey has a legitimate broadcasting certificate from Seneca College and has a personable and articulate onscreen presence, which makes “Ontario News Now” seem like a legitimate news outlet.

It is not.

It is a propaganda tool, pure and simple, for Doug Ford and the “Progressive” Conservative Party of Ontario. Much like Fox News and Breitbart works for Trump, so does the Toronto Sun and “Ontario News Now” unabashedly support the right, some would say far right, of the political spectrum. And while the Sun is classified as legitimate, lower grade reading level media, “Ontario News Now” is not legitimate news in any way.

“Ontario News Now” is the private tool of a political party with a populist political boss. It is to legitimate news broadcasting what the now defunct and disgraced “Caledon Perspectives” was to legitimate community newspapers – in that case, the marketing ploy of a development corporation that sought to intimidate and misinform the citizens of Caledon. That propaganda newspaper is gone, but the damage remains with the wool still pulled over the eyes of a segment of our tribalized community. The only difference between these two media manipulations was that one was paid for by a private corporation. the other is paid for by the taxpayers of the province.

“Ontario News Now” will probably be with us for the next four years. Let’s hope that the provinces’ citizens become more media literate and can learn to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Here’s a good sensory image to help us . Every time an “Ontario News Now” broadcast or Tweet comes across your phone, imagine that you have just stepped in an unwanted warm pile of poop that a neighbour’s pet left on your lawn. It’s what my olfactory nerves pick up every time I see Doug Ford on the screen intoning, “My friends…”

The way I smell it.

***

Skid Crease, journalist, Caledon

*image from reddit.com, original by cartoonist Graeme MacKay

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