Brodie and the BBQ Boys

Reprinted for the Spring of 2018

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This is a tribute to community. Now, normally when you think about a bunch of guys hanging around the garage BBQ watching the hockey game, images of beer swilling, aluminum can crushing, hard talking and loud cheering goons come to mind. But this bunch of guys are a little different. Oh sure, there’s some of the above, but this group has turned the garage BBQ gathering into a work of art.

In order to protect the innocent, I will only refer to them as Brodie’s Boys. When the weather permits, they open up the garage to reveal their “man cave” complete with couches, chairs, coolers and a honkin’ big screen TV. You’ll also find a smoker, a collection of large cooking pots, and a wide variety of utensils. On just about ever weekend from the spring to the first snows, they’ll be out there cooking up a gourmet meal that could feed an army.

The laughter and the aroma of good cooking first caught my attention when I was walking the dog one day. “Come on in, Skid!” they called. Like Ulysses getting lured by the Sirens, I couldn’t resist. I think that first meal involved venison sausages and pepperettes. In tomato season the pasta sauces were being cooked. On another day, they had one of their super large pots filled to overflowing with mussels. And not only do they love to cook up delicious meals, especially if it’s fresh, in season produce, they love to share.

Neighbours walking by the house are invited for a taste, a meal, a little of whatever sport is being played (sorry guys, I’m boycotting Russia’s annexation of the World Cup) and some good neighbourhood conversation. Being a journalist, I solemnly swore an oath that whatever is said in the Brodie Boys BBQ garage, stays in the garage. In order to keep the crowds down, the address is only recorded in symbols in the Caledon Book of Secrets. Revealing it would result in the same excommunication that John Wick received at the end of Part 2, so it is safe with the boys in the hood.

However, if you are in Bolton one weekend, and you happen to catch the wafting of gourmet backyard BBQ cooking being carried on waves of laughter and community chatter, it just might be Brodie’s Boys cooking up another neighbourhood feast,

Bon appétit!

***

Skid Crease (somewhere in Caledon …)

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Ford and Trump: an editorial

There has been a recent controversy in Ontario politics with Liberal leader Kathleen Wynne declaring that Doug Ford, the latest provincial leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario is similar to U.S.A. President Donald Trump of the Republican Party. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

While it is a fact that both are the spoiled sons of wealthy men who inherited their father’s money, so much about them is different. And while it is a fact that both the Republicans and the Conservatives use the same marketing teams for electioneering (not sure about Facebook mining), and that Donald holds lavish events at Mar a Lago while Doug hosts BBQs for Ford Nation in his backyard, it really is unfair to draw a comparison between Donald Trump and Doug Ford.

First, Donald Trump is a billionaire and Doug Ford is only a millionaire. Secondly, Donald has a full head of blonde comb over hair and Doug has short cropped blonde hair. Thirdly, Donald tends to an orange complexion while Doug Ford tends to ruddy. Fourthly, Donald allegedly enabled sexual assault abusers wile Doug alledgedly enabled addicts. Donald had no legislative experience while Doug had one term in the most dysfunctional city council in municipal history.

Now, it is true that both are populist sloganeers (Make America Great Again vs Make Ontario Great Again and America First vs Ontario First, and Lock Her Up vs Put Her in Jail) and the fact that they espouse the same mantra: Cut the red tape, help the taxpayer, especially the wealthy, support the hard-working white male voters (and the women who live with them), reduce government size, stop the welfare gravy train for the 30% chronically impoverished, and the blacks love me, “I’ve done more for the ethnics than anyone.”

Despite the fact that the U.S. economy and employment were on the upswing under Obama’s Democrats, and that the Ontario economy and employment were on the upswing under Wynne’s Liberals, why confuse the masses with facts when you can convince them to deny the birth certificate and “Burn the Witch!” Admittedly it’s hard to “Lock Her Up!” or “Put Her in Jail” if “she” hasn’t been charged or convicted of anything. But that never stopped a bullying populist liar before.

No, Doug and Donald are two different people. Although they do wear suits cut from the same ideological cloth, and Doug is reported to have mastered the art of the deal in his youth. one is from America and one is from Canada. We always thought we were a kinder, gentler citizenry than our neighbours to the south, but if Doug Ford is elected Premier of Ontario we’ll find out that we’re really not that different at all. It will be like watching Anne of Green Gables lose out in the cable TV ratings to Keeping up with the Kardashians.

As Kathleen Wynne tweeted “We’ve seen this movie before,” shortly after Christine Elliot won the popular leadership vote but Doug Ford won the PCPO leadership via the Ontario Conservatives version of the Electoral College,  I just never thought that it would be playing in theatres across Ontario. Although it has not yet been confirmed, there is a rumour that David Price will be head of security at Queen’s Park, and Don Cherry will be making the introductory speech from the throne before taking over as Minister of Hockey if Ford is elected.

Get ready for four years of rock ‘em sock ‘em politics.

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Skid Crease, Caledon Journalist

  • image from narcity.com
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Caledon Perspectives: an editorial

Sometimes I cannot believe that I sit in the same Council Chamber as another Caledon journalist. Following the Tuesday, April 17 Council meeting, I wrote my regular news report for Just Sayin’ Caledon. It was a boring, but true W5 style news report. On Thursday, April 19 I read a completely different take on the same Council meeting in a local newspaper.

It reminded me of how different eye witnesses see the same accident depending on their perspective, which is why eyewitness accounts are so unreliable in court. Prior to the Council meeting I had attended the Citizen Recognition night at the Caledon Community Complex. It celebrated the best of the best in volunteerism and left all in the audience with a positive feeling. I took that perspective into Council.

When we regard the Town staff as people working on our behalf, and celebrating our accomplishments as a community, it puts them in that same positive light. Now, the majority of our elected representatives see their colleagues at the Town in that same perspective. A few take a more combative attitude. Ignorance is bliss. The same applies to the journalists who cover the Council meetings with a negative lens.

We recently lost an honest journalist who worked his craft with integrity. Bill Rea’s absence from the Council media desk will be sorely missed. From a news perspective, his unbiased and honest reporting was an oasis in a desert of fake news. I admit to a definite bias in my editorials – I am allergic to liars, bullies, misogynists, racists, religious extremists and pedophiles. I am particularly allergic to journalists who claim to be news reporters when they are proselytizing for local politicians and developers. It’s a character flaw of mine. But when I write a news report, I must be neutral, as was my Tuesday report on Town Council. My editorial today has a different lens.

Over ten years ago, a private speculator took the Town to task for the direction that the Province and the Town had planned for develpment. They installed one of their marketing staff as the Editor of a local privately produced newspaper called the Caledon Perspectives. They initiated a series of incendiary articles that pitted their development interests against the Town and the Mayor of the time. When a long series of litigations against the Town failed, overnight they pulled all of their newspaper boxes and the Caledon Perspectives died with a whimper.

You can read the whole history online in Hap Parnaby’s investigative report on this low point in Caledon journalism.

We do not need another local newspaper highlighting a politician who does not deserve the print space. I was at the Tuesday night Council meeting. The only thing redundant about that Council meeting were the questions asked by a Regional Councillor who seemed unable to understand the difference between an interim and an ultimate solution to all-day downtown parking in Bolton. Thank you to an Area Councillor for explaining it patiently. I know this sounds judgmental and partisan, and it is. I have lost all patience with populist politicians who don’t know their by-pass from a parking space.

I will let you know exactly my criteria for local politicians I think are doing a good job – they read the staff reports, they ask intelligent questions, they do not waste time at Council grandstanding about their accomplishments which may or may not have anything to do with the motion at hand, they are respectful to colleagues and town staff, they do not lie or spread misinformation to their constituents, and they try their best to work for the good of the Town, not their next career move. That is my criteria for judging the quality of an elected official.

And if you have medial literacy, reporters are even easier to judge.

***

Skid Crease, Caledon

For the full Hap Parnaby report go to :

Connections Between Local Media and Land Developers in Caledon   www.topix.com › Georgetown

 

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Canada’s Greenwash

 On March 15, 2018 the government of Canada declared that it was going to dedicate $500 million to projects aimed at reducing greenhouse gases. Brilliant. The year is 2018. It is thirty years since the alarm was sounded in Toronto by the World Meteorological Society. In this case, better late than never doesn’t quite cut it.

 

But, if there is any good day to celebrate Canada’s Greenwashing, it surely is on St. Patrick’s Day. I’m sure most of our politicians are kissing the blarney stone right now.

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna says the government’s Low Carbon Economy Challenge will hand out the $500 million over the next four years to fund projects aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, while also saving energy and creating green jobs.

I have a couple of suggestions. First, put the $500 million into a Precautionary Principles Fund for mitigating the coming flood, drought, fire, ice storm, Arctic thaw, and coastal erosion insurance claims. Secondly, if you really want to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, suspend all developments in the tar sands, thirdly close all coal fired electricity plants,  fourthly stop extracting oil and fracking gas, and finally convert fossil fuel company dinosaurs into twenty-first century renewable energy corporations.

It is making me gag to hear our government offer $500 million to explore solutions that were proposed thirty years ago. It’s like gun violence – the solution is easy. Control the guns! You want to significantly reduce greenhouse gases? Then shut down the industries that produce excessive greenhouse gases and don’t approve projects like Trans Mountain Pipeline that encourage more fossil fuel use! You want to stop violence against women? Expose and #MeToo the heck out of stupid, abusive men!

This is the KISS principle, consensual of course, for environmental literacy.

Your community wants clean water? Don’t dump toxic chemicals or sewage into the watershed. I’m sure Grassy Narrows would have appreciated that private corporation requirement with stringent government oversight and enforcement instead of a lazy blind eye.. Don’t reward people with a $500 million taxpayer bailout when they are so environmentally illiterate that they don’t  realize it’s not a good idea to defecate in the community well. “Doctor, it hurts when I do this.” “Well then, stop doing that!”

Canada stands tall on the world stage, represented by wonderful and well-meaning people, lauded in the myth of our green environmental standing by dint of our tiny global population. But per capita, we are major players in contributing to greenhouse gas emissions.

This is not my opinion alone. Try this from a November 2017 news report by Bob Weber of the Canadian Press for CBC:

“To an international diplomat, the irony is painful — the country that promised action on climate change is falling behind while the country that has spurned a major treaty on the issue is making progress.

That’s Canada and the United States, Angel Gurria, secretary-general of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, said Wednesday.

“It’s a bit of a paradox, here,” Gurria told The Canadian Press. “In Canada, you have a situation where you have a very strong political will to reduce, but effectively it has not gone on the planned road.

“In the United States, you have a government that has pulled out of the (Paris) agreement, but in the United States you are having a reduction in emissions.”

Gurria has high praise for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Liberal government’s strong vocal support for climate change. Gurria said Trudeau made a real contribution to reaching the Paris deal in 2015 in which 169 countries promised to reduce their emissions enough to keep global warming under two degrees Celsius.

But when the signatories get together next year to take a look at each other’s progress, Canada may not be so much in evidence.

“You have here a very proactive and decisive leadership moving in the direction of reduction of emissions, and a very active participant in the Paris agreement and a very active participant in the whole of the world’s move,” said Gurria, who was in Toronto to speak at the Munk School at the University of Toronto.

“While at the same time, the local situation is showing that speed of reduction is not as fast as one would have wanted.”

Yes, Bob. Yes, Canada. Yes, Catherine. Not what we wanted by March 2018. And not worth $500 million to start now. The train has already left the station. Either shut down the big emitters or stop proselytizing. Our children are the first recognize a greenwash and. like the students in Parkland, they want action, not a greenwash stuck in the spin cycle.

The way I see it.

***

 Skid Crease, Caledon

 *image from climatenadcapitalism.com

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Ready to Lay

originally written for Just Sayin’ Caledon – a news commentary

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There are going to be some new girls in Town this spring, Caledon, and they’re all coming to the Albion Hills Community Farm. They are known in the industry as RTLs – ready to lay pullets – and they are going to teach us a thing or two about home grown food.

Yes, these are our special backyard hens that will be on display at the Albion Hills Community Farm all spring, summer and fall. Thanks to our research with municipalities around Ontario last year as we were preparing the Town’s By-law on keeping Backyard Hens, we were able to connect with some top breeders.

We will we be hosting the standard backyard hen known as the Golden Buff, or more commonly as the red cross sex-link from Frey’s Hatchery in St. Jacobs, ON. These four girls will be on view in our permanent coop and run built to Town by-law specifications by the talented students at Humberview Secondary School.

But we will also have the only Canadian breed of chicken known, and the only natural winter egg layer known, the endangered Chantecler from Quebec. Thought at one point to have gone extinct, the Chantecler was rediscovered on a few small farms and the stock is slowly rebuilding. The owner of Cirrus Farms in Meaford was so impressed with our enthusiasm for bringing the backyard hens to Caledon, that she hooked us up with a Chantecler breeder. We were lucky enough to get four RTLs that I will be picking up in April.

These hardy all Canadian girls will be showcased in our portable chicken ark courtesy of a partnership with United Lumber’s Home Hardware in Bolton. Part of the purpose of this display at the AHCF is to help educate the public on the proper care and realities of taking on backyard hens for your family. Besides the expense and time, this is long term pet ownership and requires responsible adult supervision. Our project at AHCF will document the costs, caregiver time, egg production, health and safety issues, and pleasures of raising local food.

Not to mention that our “coop cams” will give a 24-hour live feed to entertain and inform Caledonians and the international community who are connected to AHCF online.

Over the winter months when the AHCF is closed, our hens will go home with caring families to backyards in Caledon, portable chicken ark, water heater, and feed included. Although the Golden Buffs will lay very little over the winter, families will still get a few fresh eggs, so checking their coop every morning is an ongoing part of the responsibility. We’ll compare that with the Chantecler winter egg production as part of our three year studies for the Town.

For those who hear stories about the hens only laying for two to three years, yes it’s true. IF you are a factory farmer who leaves the lights on all the time to force egg production. I’m sure Liam Neeson is going to make a movie about this called “Taken 4 Granted”, where he goes to rescue his hens from a factory farm before 15,000 of them get slaughtered every few years and composted so the barn can be cleared for the next batch of productive ready to lay pullets.

When left to their own devices, most hens slow down in the winter according to the reduced daylight hours. That’s why there will be no artificial lights in their coops – every girl needs a winter vacation. This way their natural egg production will continue for many more years. Of course, if you are an all-Canadian, you just keep going and going through all seasons. Our Chanteclers are very special and will be part of an international study on heritage breeds.

So there you have it in an eggshell! The backyard hens are coming and they are ready to lay fresh eggs right in our own backyards.

Tremendous thanks to Patrick Trafford and the Town of Caledon for their excellent work in preparing a best practices by-law to bring the backyard hens to Caledon. And a very special thank you to the Mayor and a majority of Caledon Councillors and Regional Councillors who championed and supported this endeavour.

Now, let’s get cracking!

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Skid Crease, Caledon

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