You’ve Gotta Have Heart

It was time for my big heart check-up at the Peter Munk Centre with the UHN at Toronto General Hospital. Having been brought back to life from heart failure in 2016, I had no intention of blowing the incredible work done by Dr. Heather J. Ross and her team in the cardiac ward.

However, living in Caledon, with no easy public transportation route down to the Big Smoke, as I loving call Toronto haze in the summer, that proved to be the most stressful part of the day. There was catching the ride to King City, GO train to Union, subway to Queen’s Park and a short walk to TGH. Then I had an Echocardiogram, blood work and my report card from my cardio team ahead of me.

That’s when the day got so much better. The staff at TGH from the information desk to cardiac reception were friendly and informative – and this was at 8:00 am! I had arrived early and registered early. The ECHO lab took me right in and my blood pressure was high from the trip down. But that is where I met the first bright light of my day, Laura from Brampton.

She was professional, personable and human. People often complain that our health care system is broken and cold. Not here. This young professional was personally engaging, professionally competent. and fully human. An Echocardiogram is like an ultrasound on the heart – it takes time and patience. I went in stressed – I left feeling calm and like I had been looked after with the best of care. My blood pressure was a perfect 110/80.

After that I got an early entry to my cardio check-up, efficient and painless blood work done (six vials later…), and then went to wait for the report card from Dr. Ross. That’s when the second bright light of the day happened. Into the room walked Tayler, a researcher working with Dr. Ross, doing a long term study on predicting the outcomes of a patient’s prognosis. For example, if For example, if your doctor recommends that: “If you eat healthy foods, exercise regularly, keep a low sodium diet, be mindful of stress, watch out for the high heat and humidity days, and listen to Jann Arden’s Greatest Hits once a week, you’ll be fine.”

Tayler’s role is to see whether the patient’s condition a year later matches the prognosis. Of course this depends on the ability of the patient to follow the doctor’s good advice. Advice taken. Tayler will give me my report card in one year. I intend to get an A+.

We talked for several minutes about her research and how important it was. We talked about life and jobs and how lucky she was to be working with Dr, Ross.  And then this young professional, who was so insightful, looked at me and said, “My Dad would like you.” No sooner had I arrived home than I received an email from Dad acknowledging his exceptional daughter.

Now, tell me that the personal care and attention provided by our medical professionals isn’t exceptional. Perhaps the Cardiac Team at the Peter Munk Centre at Toronto General Hospital is out of the ordinary. I know that Dr. Heather Ross is exceptional. Perhaps the entire UHN is exceptional. Then that means we are in good hands. No complaints here. Our cardiac medical teams spend long days and nights, late shifts, and ongoing research to ensure that we live. Like Captain Tom Miller says in his dying breath to Private Ryan, “Earn this, earn it.” I intend to earn it.

The way I see it.

***

Skid Crease, journalist, Caledon

Scientific Laws of Politics

 

The first in a series of humorous insights …

 

The Law of Integrity:

The greater the volume of a politician’s complaints against an Integrity Commissioner, the less the likelihood that he or she has any integrity.

 

The Law of Self Aggrandizement:

The louder and longer a politician boasts about his or her accomplishments, the less he or she has truly accomplished anything of significance.

Corollary – the more time a politician boasts about the time he or she spent reading a report or attending a meeting, the less the likelihood that comprehension was achieved.

 

The Law of Posing:

The more a politician only turns up for the smiling photo-op without participating in the event, the greater the chance that he or she is unqualified to hold office.

 

The Law of Private Influence:

The more a politician’s voting  record shows that he or she is consistently supporting specific interests, or avoiding votes that would oppose those specific interests, the greater the reality that the politician is owned.

 

The Law of Facebook “Community” groups:

The more you eat excrement – the more you are full of it.

 

The way I see it.

***

Skid Crease, humourist

Carolyn Parrish and Racist Insults

At the last Region of Peel meeting, councillor Carolyn Parrish was sanctioned for having texted racially charged insults to a colleague about the Peel Deputy Chief of Police.

This is the same “Stompin'” Carolyn Parrish who crushed a Bush doll on television and got thrown out of federal Liberal caucus. The same Carolyn Parrish who tore down and ripped up a poster of Hazel McAllion from a local restaurant’s wall.

Now, in her latest performance, having demeaned the Peel Region Deputy Chief of Police for having her position only because of being female and black, Parrish was found in violation of the Peel Region Code of Conduct, She was suspended for five days without pay, a punishment that made Peel police association president Adrian Woolley furious.

What made him more furious was that Peel Region councillors got to vote on the suspension and it barely passed. The final count was 12 to punish, 11 not to punish.

Now, what may be of special interest to Caledon readers is that councillor Barb Shaughnessy and councillor Annette Groves voted NOT to punish Parrish for her racist remarks using the excuse that they were made in a private text message. Gee, and only a few weeks ago these same two councillors were trying to pillory a Caledon journalist for calling out a local group of Town Council haters as “biatches” in a private blog. At that time they were claiming misogyny and hate speech. And now we find them defending gender biased and racist comments. Oh my.

I feel an Alanis Morissette song coming on … “Isn’t it ironic, don’t you think…” Yeah, a little too ironic.

The way I see it.

***

Skid Crease, journalist

 

 

King’s YMCA Cedar Glen

Written for The King Weekly Sentinel as The Cedar Glen Story

***

Once upon a time there was a conference centre in King Township owned by the United Church of Canada. It sat high on the tablelands above the Humber River with a substantial conference centre and the largest western red cedar pan abode building in North America. Those buildings housed the guest rooms for visitors, whether on a religious retreat, a conference, or a school outdoor education visit. It was simply called Cedar Glen.

For many years the North York Board of Education utilized the magnificent property and buildings as their first Outdoor Education Centre with a long term contract running from September to June every year. When that contract finally ended, the outdoor centre moved to the Bolton Camp for several years until Mono Cliffs Outdoor Education Centre north of Orangeville was built. The United Church, faced with declining revenues, wisely sold the site to the YMCA and gave Cedar Glen a whole new lease on life.

I had worked at Cedar Glen through North York Outdoor Education in the 70’s and 80’s, and later with Ontario Nature after it was sold to the YMCA. I thought I knew the site pretty well. But nothing prepared me for what I witnessed on a tour with Mayor Steve Pellegrini and King’s Sustainability Committee on June 1, 2018. Oh, it was the same property alright, but the transformation was astonishing.

The YMCA has brought Cedar Glen into the 21st century with a touch of ecological class. Cedar Glen was a diamond in the rough back in the 70’s – today it is a sparkling gemstone. The tour by site manager Brandon McClounie was engaging and unscripted – he knew this site and its history inside out. Without missing a beat on our tour by electric golf cart – and I have to give a call out here to Amy, YMCA staffer, who is the BEST GOLF CART DRIVER EVER – he covered every detail of the sites past, present and future..

The tour covered: The Cedar Glen year-round outdoor education programs where ten or more can book a day or multi-night visit. The YMCA provides staff for facilitated programs like high ropes, low ropes, mountain biking, archery, and outdoor skills as well as leadership and team building workshops. In addition, the summer day program is the largest in the GTA welcoming over 400 children each day during the summer from both the GTA and local communities.

Programs can go from one to two weeks with a full range of camp programs including their special Farm Camp. They can offer this because Cedar Glen is home to a large organic farm now in its sixth year of operations. They produce certified organic produce that is served in their kitchens and sold locally at Farmer’s Markets. Last year they produced two tonnes of produce. To sweeten the deal, they also have an apiary on site, and produce their own maple syrup in the spring.

The most surprising thing for me on the tour was to come across two reconstructed cabins from the old Bolton Camp in Caledon, now managed by the Toronto Region Conservation Authority. These historic red-western cedar pan-abode cabins had been donated from the TRCA and with reconstruction costs assisted by the Bolton Rotary, were meticulously taken apart and reassembled with floodplain foundations in a secure setting  at Cedar Glen.

Brandon explained that that two more cabins from Bolton Camp are secluded in “The Grove”. As far as future cabins go, vandals started up a bulldozer at the TRCA Bolton Camp and damaged many of the remaining structures. For me, it was a devastating loss since I had worked at both sites, Cedar Glen and Bolton Camp, for decades. The loss of those cabins is a tragedy.

But the good news is that four have survived at YMCA Cedar Glen and along with their main building guest rooms have preserved that western red cedar pan-abode history. In addition to those guest rooms on the main plateau is a smaller conference building building for adult or leadership groups. as well as an “international village ” featuring cabins, tipis and yurts in the lower portion of the property.

Not to be outdone in forward thinKING community services, Cedar Glen is opening up a licensed child care in 2019 with 80 to 90 spaces. From young toddlers to elder toddlers, Cedar Glen has it all covered. A beautiful facility, a spectacular outdoor setting, a plethora of programs, a supportive Township, and an enthusiastic staff. If there was ever a winning formula for success, this is it.

When I last saw Cedar Glen it was a diamond in the rough. Now it is another gemstone in King’s many jeweled crown.

The way I see it.

***

Skid Crease, Journalist for the King Sentinel

* Note: The TRCA’s Claremont Field Centre in Durham Region is the other site of these circa 1970 western red cedar pan-abode structures.

Conflicts of Interest

Ah, the words that rev up every political junky’s heart – “CONFLICT OF INTEREST!” Yes, we just love to get the dirt on our politicians at every level. It helps to distract us from our own failings. There’s just one problem. It is a politician’s responsibility to report any potential conflict of interest prior to that item being discussed in council or in caucus or in parliament. It’s not exactly headline news. Unless you’re a C grade reporter trying to create a crisis as happens often in one of our local papers.

Really, the stories we should be reporting are about the politicians who DON’T declare a conflict of interest, I’ll give you an example, purely hypothetical of course but, just in case, the names have been changed to protect the guilty.

First, here’s an example of a case that goes by the book. A politician who lives in a rural area in Ontario, decides to sell the family farm. Kids have moved on to software development, and, as much as they love the grass fed beef, don’t want to be mucking out the barn anymore. The sale of the farm may affect the course of residential development in the area, The politician rightfully declares a “conflict of interest” and is dutifully excused before the issue is resolved,

No biggie! Unless you’re a reporter hungry for headlines and think you’re the smartest guy in the room. NOT.  A politician declaring a “conflict of interest” is a non-story – it’s what they are supposed to do. We don’t report on every dump we make in the toilet. It’s just not front page news. Unless you are trying to create a crisis … or relieve a lower bowel impaction.

What is front page news is about the politicians who DON’T declare a conflict of interest. Keep in mind that the “pecuniary” advantages and financial impacts of these deals can go up or down. A land deal close to your abode could jack up your home value, or a huge warehouse next door could lower your residential development potential. The good politicians declare. The slimy ones don’t.

Secondly, let us suppose that a major golf course development is being proposed for a property that abuts ours. Prior to being elected, I rant long and loud about this proposed development. After my election, I say nothing. Am I guilty of a conflict of interest? Oh, yeah … big time. But it doesn’t make the front page.

You think? So, let’s start reporting on the politicians who are NOT reporting their conflicts of interest, specially if they’re running for higher office. And leave the good ones alone to do their jobs without incompetent reporters trying to make headlines over smoke and mirrors.

The way I see it.

***

Skid Crease. journalist, Caledon