Toxicity in politics? Let's look at the wider context in Canada, United States Nov. 16 2022

Tomorrow night’s taped-in-Windsor panel on TVO about toxicity in politics will be interesting. The city was shocked by last month’s assassination threat against Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens. Panelists reportedly also referenced Freedom Convoy protests at the Ambassador Bridge and the Jan. 6 2021 storming of the US Capitol by pro-Trump demonstrators. And while current hearings in Ottawa over the Emergencies Act show a political and administrative state in fear of truck protesters in Ottawa and border regions, no real violence, with perhaps a few small skirmishes, took place. Yes, about a dozen people in a fringe group with guns were arrested in Alberta. In Ottawa almost 200 were arrested with charges from mischief and obstruction to assault of a police officer. In Windsor more than a couple of dozen were arrested in what was an otherwise peaceful but defiant (and to the rest of us costly and annoying) blockade. Sure, authorities had concerns. But let’s not ignore the larger picture – and real threats and violence. During those same protests a counter-protester in Winnipeg rammed his car injuring several Freedom Convoy members. At the same time an entirely different protest took place in British Columbia where 20 people, some with axes, attacked security guards and smashed construction vehicles at a Coastal GasLink site (photo). And let’s not forget the violence that has occurred over the last few years as demonstrators tore down Canadian historical statues including of the country’s co-founder Sir John A. Macdonald. In the American context, what about the massive rioting that took place in the wake of the 2020 George Floyd murder, with some $2 billion in damages when property in multiple cities was looted and burned. Ongoing protests that year in Portland Oregon saw invaders enter a courthouse and burn records with ensuing weeks of fiery clashes with police. And in Minneapolis and Seattle entire police precincts were burned or forcibly abandoned and part of the city seized. The trucker protesters, with their honking, bouncy castles, barbecues and singing of the national anthem, were virtual innocents by comparison.

Photo: Coastal Gas Link

Enough nonsense on regional hospital October 14 2022

If Mayor Drew Dilkens and Windsor Regional Hospital CEO David Musyj have evidence of city council election candidates running to undermine the new regional hospital they should show it. “The current municipal elections across Windsor and Essex present a risk," Musyj said. "Meaning there are some running for council and mayor that have publicly shown their support for CAMPP (Citizens for an Accountable Megahospital Planning Process) verbally and/ or in donations to their various appeals to the zoning process even though they were unsuccessful at every step.” No doubt some of the candidates probably harbour ill feelings towards the controversial hospital location though this fight had dragged on so long - and opponents have lost legally time and time again - the issue has (or should have) become exhausted. The mayor is right, however, in wanting to draw out candidates on where they stand - just in case. This is Windsor, after all, where issues never seem to fully die out. "I want to make sure that at the end of the day, the public has the information they need to make their decision,” he said. Regardless of where candidates stand - and even if they have the best of intentions - they should come together and support the new location and by implication the long and legal process that has resulted in the County 42 site. In other words, it’s too late to turn back. The future of the region's health care depends on it and to undermine the hospital would be morally unconscionable. And by the way, why hasn't CAMPP fully paid its legal costs in losing the legal fight - more than $30,000 according to Musyj?

Questionable charges in Convoy case Sept. 30 2022

There are several questions that should be asked about the Windsor Police Service charging two uniformed officers with discreditable conduct over donations to the Freedom Convoy truck protest last February. One officer donated $50 and the other $40. One officer’s hearing will continue next month and the other’s hasn’t started. “By choosing to support an illegal blockade at our country's busiest border crossing, these members demonstrated a complete disregard for our city's economy and reputation as well as for the safety of their own colleagues who were dealing with the volatile situation,” deputy chief Frank Providenti said. This follows an investigation by the service’s professional standards branch. A three-week truck protest in Ottawa blocked several downtown streets but was otherwise non-violent, with charges of mischief, disobeying a court order and obstructing police. An almost one-week blockade on Huron Church Rd. shut down vital trade between Canada and the United States. First, how does Providenti know the officers were contributing to an “illegal” blockade? Fundraising for the truckers started long before the blockades actually took place. Second, the information divulging the officers’ donations itself came from an illegally hacked charitable website. How then can the police bring charges against employees based on evidence obtained illegally? Besides the two officers, a police department civilian employee already has lost a day’s pay whether that individual got a fair hearing or not. Otherwise, where do civil liberties come into play? These donations are examples of free speech whether the brass may like it or not.

Crime is one thing, vagrancy another Sept. 16 2022

While Windsor police say downtown is safe, despite beefing up patrols to respond to recent incidents, many people may be skeptical about their personal safety when venturing into the core, especially at night. It’s boring to talk about downtown issues because it’s a discussion that never seems to end. If it's not vacant storefronts it’s crime. If it's not parking meters or lack of parking it’s trash-strewn streets. The city has thrown millions of dollars at downtown over the past decade from new street furniture to transit and recreation facilities. It likely will be spending much more with plans for a partly pedestrianized and cafe-lined Victoria Ave. and a reimagined University Avenue The university and college have certainly done their parts with creation of vibrant downtown campuses for at least for part of the year. And developers are building more and more multi-unit residences as they repurpose tired and empty buildings. But while crime is certainly an issue another may be vagrancy. Drive downtown just about any time of day and the city centre is full of disheveled individuals who seemingly walk around randomly, begging, pushing grocery carts or sleeping on benches. Downtown attracts these individuals, who may also have drug or mental health problems, more than any other neighbourhood. But when the public complains they are accused of being heartless. The city has no vagrancy bylaw and homeless advocates would be quick to decry one. Such laws “are profoundly prejudicial given how minority communities (such as Indigenous Peoples) are over-represented in homeless populations,” argues one Canadian homeless advocacy organization, Homeless Hub. But until authorities do something not only about crime but about vagrancy - applying the law humanely and universally - downtown will remain unattractive and potentially threatening, whether in fact it is or not.

For pols, heckling comes with the job Sept. 2 2022

You know that politicians, and society, are getting pretty thin-skinned when it becomes a national controversy with denunciations from the highest offices of the land, after a protester in Grande Prairie, Alta., hurls some verbal insults at Canada’s deputy prime minister. According to the Toronto Star the protester shouted profanities and called Chrystia Freeland a “traitor.” An accompanying woman told her to leave Alberta – “you don’t belong here.” There’s an RCMP investigation. While all details aren’t known was Freeland physically accosted? No. But now panic is stalking the land among Canada’s political class. As a result of the incident the Parti Quebecois leader in that province’s election has been given a bulletproof jacket. Even locally, Leamington Mayor Hilda Macdonald (photo) cited the Freeland incident when several of her election signs were vandalized and stolen; police are investigating. Macdonald called it “a new low for common courtesy and civility.” Of course, no one condones vandalism or threatening speech, which should be prosecuted. But these people are politicians, and heckling politicos is something that has taken place since time immemorial. Macdonald may think this is new but in every election there are incidents of sign stealing and defacing. And long before the Freeland incident, the mayor of Amherstburg had tires on vehicles in his driveway slashed in what was believed a targeted incident. And remember? One time Windsor mayor John Millson ended his political career after a bullet was fired into his house. As for impolite citizenry bordering on harassment there are memories of former Windsor Sandwich NDP MPP George Dadamo being mobbed outside the Caboto Club during the 1990 provincial election. More viciously, in the United States, there have been attacks on various elected representatives, such as Republicans Rand Paul in 2020 and Steve Scalise (shot at a baseball practice) in 2017. And, yes, there is the Gabrielle Gifford (Democrat) shooting in Tucson in 2011. All this is to say that political heckling, and at worse, intimidation and violence, is nothing new. And while violence should always be denounced and prosecuted, heckling – unless directly threatening – really comes with the job, whether the current crop of “snowflake” politicians like it or not.

Photo: Town of Leamington

For border, first 9/11 and now Covid August 19 2022

First it was 9/11 and now it’s Covid. Border communities are rightly crying the blues because of the dearth of US tourists crossing and spending money in our casinos, entertainment and wineries. The main culprit is the plague-filled ARRIVECan app, introduced by the feds in Fall 2020 to ensure border-crossers were properly vaxxed. The app remains one of the last of Covid restrictions and puts Canada in outlier status among nations as still having some of the most stringent protocols. The problem is that Americans either don’t know about the app it or don’t want the hassle of having to fill it out. Statistics Canada says US travellers were crossing at just more than half the levels in June compared to June 2019. Yet Ottawa apparently wants to maintain the app. A news release August 10 said the gov wants to “make improvements” so it is “faster and easier” to use. This includes saving time at airports by filling out a Customs declaration in advance of arrival, cutting time at a kiosk “by roughly a third” or by “hours.” While still intrusive and questionable from a civil liberties POV the app presents an obstacle for people crossing by land. Mark Weber, president of the Customs and Immigration Union, said his officers are seeing “long delays” for travellers to clear customs because of app confusion. The government argues 90 per cent of land crossers use the app properly but that doesn’t explain the low crossing numbers. All this is a far cry from just prior to Sept. 11, 2001 when Canada and the US were actually thinking of eliminating the hard border altogether. Instead the border ironically just got harder and harder. Post 9/11 many Americans were still of the urban myth it took hours to cross into Canada. And with the border closed 16 months due to Covid, reopened a year ago, with lingering Covid paranoia many more visitors may never enter Canada again.

Photo: CBSA

Administrative ineptitude led to costs August 5 2022

Poor City of Windsor. The city’s crying the blues because senior government levels aren’t helping the city pay the costs of a massive police mobilization to remove trucker Freedom Convoy protesters who for a week last February blocked Huron Church Road. The city’s on the hook for $5.3 million and has repeatedly made the request to Queen’s Park and Ottawa, which suffered Freedom Convoy blockades of their own. Mayor Drew Dilkens says that’s “completely wrong.” Indeed, it wasn’t just City of Windsor police who eventually moved on truckers. Other police services including the OPP took part. But anyone who followed this protest, which made international news because a small group of protesters effectively blocked Canada’s most vital commercial border to the United States, the Ambassador Bridge, knew of the partial farce it actually was. Not that the protesters didn’t have serious grievances. But those blocking Huron Church Road were the mildest of protesters, a coterie of trucks but also household paraphernalia like sofas strewn across the wintery street and turning the thoroughfare into a kind of outdoor living room, the rest of the world be damned. But that’s the point. The protesters, including children, weren’t in the least violent. It’s the city’s response which was abysmal. Why, pray tell, did it take a week and a court injunction, no less, to remove them, when more than $300 million a day in Canada-US trade was at stake. Dozens of officers could have done this instead of the hundreds, including armored vehicles, that eventually moved in – incurring the massive police bill. There is a real problem when government and law enforcement can’t effectively act when they should act, a bureaucratic malaise of our time. Instead, what we saw here – and parallels the haplessness of law enforcement in Ottawa during that city’s three-week blockade - is administrative ineptitude. There would have been no cost run up had authorities, humanely, removed the protesters on day one.


Tamara Lich - political prisoner July 22 2022

Tamara Lich is a Canadian political prisoner. How else to describe the onerous jail conditions imposed on her by a supposed hair-splitting violation of her parole last month. Lich, of course, is the Metis woman from Medicine Hat, Alberta who was the leader of the Freedom Convoy truckers protest to Ottawa and several other communities including Windsor last winter. Lich was arrested during the three-week blockade of downtown Ottawa Feb. 17. She was charged with mischief, obstructing police and counselling others to commit mischief and intimidation for her role in the protest. She was held in jail five days and denied bail Feb. 22. Finally, on March 7 – three weeks later – she was granted bail. The conditions: stay off social media and leave Ontario. This she did. Then, a legal and human rights organization, the Canadian Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, awarded her its annual Freedom Award in June. Lich travelled to Toronto to accept it. Legal authorities weren’t impressed; alarmed would be more like it. Yes, she crossed into Ontario but the court had dropped this parole condition. What really irked the Crown was a photo of her with a group of people including another Freedom Convoy leader, a violation of parole. According to Lich’s lawyer, the highly respected Lawrence Greenspon, the photo took under three seconds, barely time to organize yet another convoy, another prohibition. Nevertheless, Ottawa police and the Crown immediately issued a Canada-wide warrant – something usually reserved for dangerous offenders – with a group of law enforcement officials flying out to Medicine Hat to arrest her. They flew her back to Ottawa where she has remained in jail ever since. There was a chance she could have been released earlier this month but, no, she remains to this day in a prison cell. Lich is peaceful, complied with police during both arrests, has never uttered a word of violence, and simply poses no threat. Unlike, of course, thousands of perps released on bail in Canada routinely. Whether you agreed with the Freedom Convoy blockades or not there’s no other conclusion: Lich is considered a threat to the government and must be locked up. She therefore is a political prisoner.

Some bridge blockades are simply OK July 8 2022

Lo and behold the Ambassador Bridge was recently blocked again. Wasn’t the bridge supposedly secured, along with access roads, in wake of the near weeklong shut down by protesting truckers back in the darkest days of winter? Authorities eventually forced that small group of protesters off the road and the demonstrators were the subject of much public approbation, sometimes rightly so. Flash forward to late last month and another blockade. Only this protest wasn’t opposed by the powers to be, they facilitated it! This included the bridge management, local police and even Canada Customs. Who were the protesters? They were Indigenous people. They stopped traffic for half an hour – all supported by the authorities – because they were demonstrating their ongoing lack border movement. This in wake of recent Covid-19 travel restrictions and before that in wake of 9/11 border tightening. The protesters have a point. Under the Jay Treaty they’re supposed to have unlimited movement between the two countries as the original North American inhabitants. This is codified into law in the United States. But not so in Canada. Surprise surprise. Canada talks a good game on native issues but keeps dragging its feet. Witness the Trudeau government still hasn’t fulfilled a 2015 election promise to provide pure drinking water on all native reserves. As of late May, 34 reserves still had water advisories. But that doesn’t excuse authorities from treating Indigenous protesters differently from other groups like the truckers. This makes for two laws and is reflective of how authorities have treated protesters – often radicals - in wake of the Ipperwash Dudley George killing in the 1990s during a police standoff. In other words, no pressing of laws against anarchists like those in Caledonia near Hamilton who held hostage a housing estate for years. This is the same type of “hands off” approach taken by authorities at the Ambassador Bridge. While Indigenous people have legitimate grievances they or any other group should not be treated differently.

Institutions should stay out of politics June 24 2022

You don’t have to look very far to see the examples of the creeping politization of formerly non-political institutions. Perhaps it all started two years ago in the wake of George Floyd’s death and the wide emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement. Hundreds of corporations, previously thought to be conservative or at least apolitical, signed on to the cause. They displayed black banners at the top of their websites endorsing what was essentially a special interest group that has been described as Marxist or Communist. This politicization has also entered the sports realm, with football fields adorned with “end racism” messages or similar logos on players’ football helmets. The same is currently true for the gay pride movement. June is designated Pride Month. And until this year the celebration was mostly confined to within the gay community and its avowed supporters. But the event took a giant leap this year with a wider swath of the corporate community signing on. Such is the case of the Greater Essex County District School Board which is flying the flag at board offices and all its schools. Canadian banks and credit unions have also adopted the Pride rainbow colours for their logos and advertising. There is nothing wrong with supporting these causes though it’s hard to support an organization that has a wider agenda of undermining our prosperous economic system. But institutions that used to be officially apolitical should remain that way. And their support is also one-sided, usually advancing leftist causes. Would the school board or banks fly flags that advocate for capitalism (ironically, in the banks case) or anti-abortion? Would they support any other special interest? Lining up on only one side of an issue they risk alienating as many people – and loyal customers – as supporters. Better to refrain altogether and keep to the apolitical stances they’ve long maintained.

Trudeau government stance could actually increase handgun crime June 2 2022

The Trudeau government this week launched its latest batch of anti-gun measures. This in apparent response to the mass killing (not by a handgun) of school children in another country, Uvalde Texas. Though it was couched in Canadian terms with references to the inadvertent shooting deaths of two Canadian teens. The legislation will ban the sale and purchase, trading, donating or importing of handguns. Period. Even for sport shooters or collectors, who are already subject to massive pre-purchase review and who overwhelmingly don’t commit gun crimes, likely only less than 20 a year, according to research by Simon Fraser University’s Gary Mauser. Of 800 average murders a year less than 300 are committed by firearms and two-thirds by handguns. The kicker? Some 90 per cent are from illegal handguns, not the kind Trudeau plans to ban. But the real bizarre aspect to Trudeau’s proposal is that it takes place while the government is kicking out penalties for those who actually commit handgun crimes. While sanctimoniously showing its concern for handgun deaths the same government last year announced the repeal of mandatory minimum sentences. These are one-to-five years for people who commit crimes with guns under categories like robbery with a firearm, using a firearm or imitation firearm in the commission of an offence, possession of a weapon obtained by the commission of an offence or even reckless discharge of a firearm. And, continuing the absurdity, the government this week said it will increase the maximum penalty from 10 to 14 years for illegally owning, acquiring or manufacturing a firearm. Hardly the offences compared to actually using one with criminal intent. Trudeau’s stance is a phony show - cracking down on legal gun owners but letting those who actually commit handgun crimes off. Policies such as these could increase handgun crime, not reduce it.

Michigan's Gretchen Whitmer needs to be defeated at the polls in November April 29 2022

Michigan’s Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer must be defeated in this November ’s gubernatorial election. Of course Canadians have no say in the election but it wouldn’t hurt for the legions of people in Windsor-Essex who have relatives stateside or have dual citizenship themselves to argue or vote against Whitmer’s re-election. Should she win it will be the Lansing born law graduate’s third term. Michigan of course has a right to elect who it wants and who are Canadians to butt in? But when it comes to the Whitmer administration Canada has every right to lobby hard to see this governor with autocratic tendencies (overseeing one of the worst state Covid lockdowns including the sending of Covid infected patients into nursing homes) defeated and the Democrats turned from office. Why? No more a reason than the controversial Enbridge Line 5 pipeline. The Whitmer administration has pulled out all the stops to see this vital pipeline shut down. It irrationally fears there could be some sort of leak that would damage the Great Lakes ecosystem. Line 5, opened in 1953, has transported safely 540,000 barrels a day of crude oil and natural gas liquids from western Canada via Wisconsin to Sarnia with 4.5 miles of it under the supposedly sensitive Stairs of Mackinac. The pipeline carries 45 per cent of all petroleum refined in Ontario and Quebec including all of the jet fuel at Pearson International Airport. Should the pipeline close it’s estimated 5000 refinery jobs in Sarnia alone would be lost. Michigan would also be a self-inflicted victim, with 55 per cent its propane derived from the pipeline. Line 5 also supplies Detroit Metropolitan Airport and refineries in Michigan and Ohio. Whitmer’s action is all the more galling because Enbridge has proposed a tunnel under the Straits that would ensure even greater safety. But the administration is brooking no reconsideration, attached at the hip to radical environmental interests. The matter is now in court and even the uber environmentally conscious Justin Trudeau government has called for the line to remain open. Michiganders must vote this November to oust the Whitmer Democrats, and Canadians who have friends and family stateside must start talking to them about the harm that could occur not just to Canada, but to their own state, should Line 5 be closed.

No surprise committee proposes salary increases for mayor and councillors April 14 2022

It’s not surprising and par for the course when it comes to elected officials. Just keep giving them pay increases. Same with federal MPs who had a recent salary increase - on April 1 no less - during the pandemic, while millions of Canadians suffered lost jobs, closed businesses and potentially dangerous public-facing work. This was MPs’ third increase in the Covid era – totalling $10,802 (to $189,702 annual salary). Now we have a City of Windsor citizens committee recommending – surprise! – increased compensation for the mayor and council members. Did you really think the three-member committee (two members from the public sector and a corporate HR professional) would recommend a reduction? Mayor Drew Dilkens already makes $199,000. (The mayor of London, a much larger city of 422,000 people, makes $142,000.) The committee, buoyed by a consultant’s report, says his salary should be pegged to annual non-union city pay increases. Meanwhile it wants to give councillors a $5000 pay raise - to $52,000 - with similar annual increases. Councillors’ jobs, by the way, are officially part time, regardless of how many hours they may put into their work. The point is, they knew this when they ran for office. Same with the mayor. What the committee ignores is that elected office is a form of public service and community-mindedness. It is not a regular job. The committee counters by saying that increasing salaries will attract a wider array of candidates. Moreover, these part time jobs are also supplementary to many councillors’ regular jobs, often full time. If this was the private sector, where companies raise their own funds, annual pay raises might or might not be understandable. The point is, the private sector raises its own money. Not the public sector, which uses other peoples’ (taxpayers’) money. In fact, the committee – refreshingly – could have made a case for a reduction in pay, affirming the public service aspect of the job. And that, unlike non-elected jobs, people choose to run for public office, not because they have to.

Government, media, even the public undermined democratic institutions March 2 2022

The political, media class and even members of the public need to do some soul-searching and offer apologies for the way they treated a mass peaceful protest. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau should start by making a full apology to truckers and supporters who launched campaigns against his government’s Covid-19 restrictions. By invoking martial law over essentially a tempest in a teapot (streets blocked around Parliament Hill) he showed his authoritarian tendences and disrespect for existing law, not to mention legitimate opposition. There was no violence at these demonstrations; in fact they were good-natured family affairs though there was a lot of Trudeau animosity. The real failure was existing law enforcement which could have prevented the blockades if the competence and will had been there. Worse and even sickening was the Trudeau government’s visceral attack ordering financial institutions to freeze bank accounts of organizers and supporters. This smacked of authoritarian regimes which can’t abide any dissent and will do all possible to personally destroy opponents. Canadians may never again have full trust in their “democratic” and business institutions. Much of the media also deserves blame framing protesters as white nationalists and “insurrectionists.” If there was ever a grass roots working class rebellion this was it. Yet media despicably decided to “out” convoy supporters. One of the most egregious reported examples was a Feb. 19 story in the Windsor Star by James McCarten. “Reporters are being harassed, spammed, 'doxxed' and even threatened for reaching out to donors to an online crowdfunding campaign that was targeted last week by hackers who disclosed the contact details of thousands of pro-trucker contributors.” While no one condones threats, these journalists should realize that what they were doing ("reaching out"?!) was terrible. They were going through an illegally hacked list of people who, with good intentions, donated small sums of money. When reporters were met by nasty reactions they were surprised! But what took the cake was the editor of the Ottawa Citizen, Nicole MacAdam, saying, “I struggle to see where we put a foot wrong here.” This after the Citizen exposed a local business owner for giving money, only to have her business threatened and attacked. How naive! Politicians and media aside, there were the two-thirds of Canadians, according to a Maru poll, who endorsed forcibly removing the protesters, even using the military. Will Canada ever again seem a peaceful, tolerant nation?

Trudeau employs his inner fascist February 18 2022

Justin Trudeau has gone way beyond meanspirtedness, an attitude he shows to any opposition, to all out dictator with his invocation of the Emergencies Act. This despicable action is designed solely to erase his political opponents. Namely these are the several hundred truckers and their thousands or even tens of thousands of supporters across the country who are against vaccine mandates and more widely his government. The more than three week blockade of parts of downtown Ottawa - mainly the so-called Parliamentary Precinct - had just become too intolerable and a worldwide embarrassment to the Liberals. It had to be shut down and its participants and supporters wholly punished. This is something out of Third World and Communist dictatorships. The first time-used Emergencies Act is designed to be employed where imminent violent danger threatens the nation. There’s absolutely no evidence of that here. Ironically, the truck protest has got to be one of the most civilized, peaceful, family oriented, good-natured and indeed patriotic protests ever to have taken place not only in Canada but anywhere. Participants serve food to anybody on the street, wrap themselves in Canadian flags and repeatedly sing O Canada. Heck, they even have bouncy castles and play street hockey - how Canadian can you get. Yes they have honked horns but recently agreed to stop doing that. And they have moved trucks to open certain streets and lanes. But even fully blockading streets doesn’t translate into violence. Witness Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King’s non-violent sit-ins in public places which brought about real change. Trudeau’s vicious retaliation against truckers and supporters is most insidious with the commandeering of Canada’s banks to freeze accounts of anyone who donated to the truckers with immunity from legal action. This is straight out of Banana Republic dictatorships who want to attack any opposition in every way possible. This is not Canada. Trudeau is a dictator. Thankfully at least two civil liberties groups have indicated they will challenge the legislation in court. And perhaps Parliament will block it though that’s iffy with the even more censorious NDP supporting the Liberals’ minority government. It has come to this - a government in an otherwise democratic country not only can’t tolerate peaceful dissent but has launched all out war against its enemies. Trudeau and his henchmen are acting beyond the pale. This now authoritarian government must be defeated, handily and finally, at the first electoral chance. Meanwhile, the watchword to any such fascistic action: Resist!

Photo: Wikipedia

Want the trucker blockades to end? It's really very simple - drop the mandates February 10 2022

Governments at all levels seem to be at a loss to deal with the trucker protest. For almost two weeks convoys of truckers have been gumming up downtowns of cities – especially Ottawa where a permanent encampment is in place – and border crossings including here at Windsor-Detroit. doesn’t condone highway blockades especially when they prevent billions of dollars in trade crossing our borders. But the truckers have surprised everybody by their absolute commitment to the anti-vaccine mandate cause. They are not – repeat not – going anywhere. While border crossings may eventually be opened (there has been some flexibility on this) there’s no question mass protests will continue in the country’s provincial and federal capitals. Politicians have been caught unawares and forced back on their heels in coming to terms with this massive organic groundswell of average citizen power. And it’s not just the protesters. The convoys have been cheered on – witness the mass gatherings on overpasses and along highways – by tens of thousands. This is hardly the “fringe minority” of Justin Trudeau’s dreams. One poll showed one-third of Canadians support the protests. That’s the same, or more, than the 32 per cent popular support Trudeau got in last year's election. The truckers are in for the long haul, and they wouldn’t mind the pun. They’re adamant they won’t relent until the mandates are dropped. Not just for crossing the border (US truckers are also starting to press the Biden Admin to drop its trucker border vaccine requirement) but all Covid mandates, such as restrictions on gatherings and the totalitarian-like QR codes. Other countries and US states are starting to drop all restrictions (England will be free Feb. 26). All politicians in Canada need to do to end the protests, which they are otherwise hapless in dealing with and which are starting to hurt the Canadian economy, is simple: drop the mandates.

What’s next? A Parliamentary House Un-Canadian Activities Committee? January 28 2022

Justin Trudeau sank to a new low – well, at least so far this year – this week when he described protesting truckers’ views as “unacceptable.” How's that again - “unacceptable?” Just who is to decide what views are acceptable or unacceptable? In Justin Trudeau’s mind there are only correct views and incorrect ones, kind of like what exists in totalitarian countries. Trudeau, of course, has long admired China’s “basic dictatorship” as per his notorious 2013 widely reported comment. The truck convoys, converging on Ottawa from all parts of the country and which could see thousands of trucks - and tens of thousands of people – gridlock the city and flood Parliament Hill this weekend, are somehow not part of how the prime minister defines what Canadians should be. How else to describe his related comment that truckers and their supporters “do not represent the views of Canadians” who otherwise have been compliant with government edicts during the pandemic. Does this mean that the only good Canadian is an obeying non-questioning Canadian? His comments came after ones earlier this month where Trudeau also called anti-vaccine protesters “often misogynists, often racists.” The problem with Trudeau and others of his ilk is that their view of Canada is one that only sees adherence to big government as patriotic. Any questioning of state mandates is therefore beyond the pale and the exponents must by all means be demonized, dismissed and rapidly excluded. With the mass trucker protests – much much larger than even organizers themselves expected – it’s obvious that people can be “good Canadians” and question the Trudeau and Big Government doctrine. Just witness the mass display of Canadian flags, Justin; it’s not only the Liberal Party that gets to cloak itself in the red maple leaf. Besides how obnoxious the prime minister’s comments are, they’re also inexcusable from the point of view that they’re dividing the country. But Trudeau is either too ideological or too dumb – or both – to understand this. He needs to apologize but never will.

Covid exposes Canada's woefully inadequate hospital systems January 11 2022

What is becoming increasingly clear as the pandemic drags on – made particularly so by the rapid spread of the Omicron variant – is that Ontario’s as well as Canada’s overall health care systems are overwhelmingly inadequate to handle health care emergencies. The result: the rest of society pays through massive lockdowns, ruined businesses and lost jobs not to mention the ancillary impacts on everything from people’s mental health to usurpation of civil rights. The primary reason for the ongoing lockdowns over the past two years has been yes, to protect public health, but ultimately to ensure our hospitals are not overrun with patients and can support Covid cases. The problem is that Canada’s hospitals are woefully inadequate to handle surges in patients and barely able to support sick people during regular times. Of Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries’ ICU capacity, Canada has half as many ICU beds as does the United States and about a third less than Germany. In fact, the Ontario Hospital Association reported that Canada had the lowest number of hospital beds per capita – tied with Mexico – of all OECD nations. Even before the pandemic the system was straining badly. Ontario’s health ministry reported that in 2018-19 the average occupancy rate of both acute care beds and total hospital beds was 96 per cent, which included some 28 hospitals where the average occupancy rate was over 100 per cent. Yes, during Covid the province added temporary field hospitals but has also unwisely closed them as case counts waned, including in Windsor. Now were in a pickle again. Today the MOH reports that of 2343 adult ICU beds 468 were occupied by Covid patients and 1353 by non-Covid patients leaving just 522 available. Overall, the numbers show how badly the province’s health care infrastructure is and why Canada’s vaunted health system – as good as it might be in certain ways – is terrible when it comes to a crisis like Covid. And how we all pay as a result.

Doug Ford: a deer in the headlights January 5 2022

Like Charlie Brown fooled by Lucy holding the football, we should have known better that Doug Ford’s decision to keep Ontario in its previous relatively open environment of Covid restrictions was too good to be true. Last week, amazingly for Ontario – one of the most locked down jurisdictions anywhere – the Ford government said, despite the onslaught of the Omicron variant, school re-openings would be delayed only a couple of days when governments elsewhere were delaying re-openings until mid-month. But then Ford did an abrupt 180 and now schools will re-open Jan. 17. (But please check back then.) Ford’s “ah shucks, folks” demeanor about how his heart bleeds over these decisions is wearing thin. Particularly when his government provides no data for the massive lockdowns that took effect today (“modified Step 2” but who can keep track?) So lazy has he and his government become that they just pulled the Covid shutdown playbook down from the shelf and announced holus bolus that schools will close to in-person learning despite numerous experts, including Ford’s own, saying schools are among the safest places for kids. And again, he closed restaurants to indoor dining along with the recreational and entertainment sector like arenas and theatres, when there is no evidence Covid spreads in these facilities. The silver lining is retail – including small retail – still allowed 50 per cent occupancy. Maybe Ford learned his lesson from almost decimating the industry during previous lockdowns; some small business conservative is he! These harsh measures of course are all designed to protect the hospital system and not overload wards and ICUs. But that begs the question. What happened to the temporary hospitals built during the pandemic’s early days and now closed like the one at St. Clair College’s SportsPlex? Who were the geniuses who decided to close additional beds and not anticipate the virus could mutate? But it could be worse. We could be living in Quebec where the government has reimposed a nightly curfew.

On the city's budget, Leftist councillors out of touch with average citizens December 15 2021

Recent City of Windsor budget deliberations revealed how the Left can be out of tune with the needs of regular everyday people. Ironically that’s the group the Left also claims to represent. A Windsor Star letter to the editor last weekend called out so called “progressive” councillors Kieran Mckenzie and Chris Holt (a third wasn’t named) for wanting to impose a greater tax increase to fund more projects. This after Holt voted against a Miracle Park for disabled kids and Mckenzie against the new hospital “in his own ward.” “Why would these three councillors even think it is a good thing to raise taxes, while our citizens are, in large numbers, having to go to the food banks to feed their families or rely on several help groups to get winter clothing, boots and shoes for their children?” writer Linda Thrasher went on: “Imagine the consequences of this on the public. Where do they think this money is coming from? Do they really think taxpayers right now have pockets of money to help deliver what they think is necessary?” Then Mayor Drew Dilkens countered their argument that Transit Windsor needs a further budget increase, despite transit already getting a boost in capital and improved services including making Route 518X permanent and ordering 24 new buses. But the progressive wing wanted a start to a new 418X crosstown route. Citing 1100 Caesars Windsor layoffs and impending loss of Chrysler’s second shift this spring, Dilkens responded, “The transit thing guys, had we approved that (418X) today, it would have been the worst business decision I have ever seen a city council ever take in my years on council, trying to plow that type of money on the backs of taxpayers, when ridership is at 50 per cent and you have no idea when that will change.”

O’Toole needs leadership review Nov 18 2021

Conservative senator Denise Batters has done her party a huge favour by calling for a referendum on Tory leader Erin O’Toole’s leadership. The senator had the gumption where others in the party have not, to question O’Toole’s leadership in wake of his underperformance in the September federal election. The party actually lost two seats and didn’t make hoped for inroads into urban Canada. And O’Toole hardly challenged Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on the raft of scandals that have ensnared his government. Sure, O’Toole kicked Batters out of caucus but she probably well knew that would happen and proceeded anyway. She has semi-autonomy as a senator and not an MP in the House of Commons where O’Toole prevails. In her video she pointed out several of O’Toole’s failings – his flip flopping on carbon pricing, firearms and conscience rights, saying he was “nearly indistinguishable from Trudeau's Liberals." And the great line, “Mr. O'Toole flip-flopped on policies core to our party within the same week, the same day, and even within the same sentence.” It’s no surprise O’Toole kicked her out. He seems a brittle man who brooks little dissent, though he tolerated a similar comment from Tory Senator Michael MacDonald which went further and called for his actual resignation. Is it because Batters is a woman? Batters noted the “double standard.” In that respect the Tory leader is no different from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, expelling women who stand up to them; see Jody Wilson-Raybould. So far almost 4000 people have signed the petition which of course O’Toole dismissed as illegitimate. The party doesn’t have a leadership review until August 2023. Given the fact that could be close to the next federal election it hardly gives enough time for the party to regroup should it end up turfing O’Toole. With so much dissent over O’Toole’s leadership why not have the review now and let the best man, including O’Toole – or woman – win?

Photo: Wikipedia

More government Covid border illogic October 31 2021

If there’s one thing that’s been consistent during the pandemic, it’s inconsistency. That’s in regard to government regulations and protocols. From ordering people not to wear masks and then to wear masks, to ordering mask mandates well into the pandemic and issuing tighter controls (i.e.., vaccine passports) as the vast majority of people are vaccinated, to allowing big box stories to open but barring small retailers, from throwing dragnets over the entire population while letting scores of the most vulnerable die in nursing homes, to the abysmal federal vaccine rollout, government planning has been haphazard, illogical, indeed bordering on criminal. So, while it seemingly is good news the United States finally decided to open its land border to Canucks beginning Nov. 8 - three months after Canada opened our side to Yanks – there is a caveat. The Canadian government will still require Canadians heading stateside to have a negative PCR test upon returning. This when those crossing will have to be fully vaxxed to enter the US anyway. Ironically America won’t require this of Canadians going stateside nor its returning citizens and its fully vaxxed rate is much less than Canada’s (58 per cent compared to almost 74 per cent). This is ridiculous and thankfully some politicians, such as Niagara area US Representative Brian Higgins, has pointed this out. Thanks also to Mayor Drew Dilkens for leading the charge to get this changed. (Where are Canadian politicians generally? Quiet of course though Windsor-Tecumseh Liberal MP Irek Kusmierczyk says he will attempt to get the policy reversed; we’ll be watching. And hasn’t Windsor West NDP MP Brian Masse been his party’s border critic?) While PCR testing will be a general inconvenience - and at $200 a pop here in Windsor though it appears cheaper stateside - it will be a particular blow to businesses that require frequent border trips. But this is Canada, we’ve come to expect the illogical.

Riverfront projects move on October 12 2021

The perennial war over the riverfront has raised its head again on two issues over the past month. One follows the victory by Riverside Dr. resident Mike Cardinal after the planning appeals tribunal agreed the so-called streetcar Celestial Beacon – a new pavilion on the riverfront – would have a roof extending too high above the Drive and infringe on residents’ views. The city says it will move it east to Caron Ave. The site has been a children’s playground donated by the National Football League for Canadian amenities when Detroit hosted the Super Bowl in 2006. Mayor Dilkens says this is even a “better” location as the playground has ended its life cycle and the area used to have a rail yard. The site also appears not to be obstructing anyone’s view as there’s a communications tower and vacant lot across the street. Cardinal is still concerned about what he calls a cramped space but he won so it’s not his concern anymore. Meanwhile, the city’s new plan for a $32.5 million futuristic canopy to cover the current more than 100,000 sq. ft. “heat island” of tarmac at the Festival Plaza further downtown is open to question. For one thing that’s a lot of dough. For a second, will the cost justify the number of events that take place there, allowing that it could attract new ones. Mayor Dilkens, who tends to think big (Bright Lights Windsor, a pedestrian tunnel under Riverside Dr.) says this can be an “iconic” feature. The translucent panels will soar 14 metres above the riverfront but across from Caesars Windsor, not residential homes though one can imagine there will still be opposition from Riverside purists who argue the riverside parks are sacred and any development is blasphemy. Never mind that it would be nice to use these parks for other purposes than just for pedestrians and cyclists and to view the river and Detroit skyline. Other questions include would people still be standing or sitting on temporary seats during events or would this be more of an amphitheatre with built in seating or moveable but comfortable seats? If it’s just standing under a roof that doesn’t accomplish a lot. Can the city guarantee there will be more events and therefore revenue will help pay the cost? All we need is another mostly unused white elephant downtown.

Photo: City of Windsor

Trudeau win near tragedy for Canada Sept. 23 2021

The near identical result of federal election 2021 to federal election 2019 has to be a disappointment, if near tragedy, for anyone who had hoped Canada would return to the pro-growth, economically responsible nation devoid of the eccentricities of (hypocritical) political correctness and fringe fetishes such as kneeling for BLM protesters and keeping flags at half-mast supposedly until Indigenous peoples approve of their raising. Not that the Conservatives’ Erin O’Toole (photo) was all that much better, with his version of a job-killing carbon tax and weak-kneed flip flops on gun control (targeting weapons that criminals don’t use) and vaccinations (a phony issue since his party’s position was almost identical to the Liberals.) But the Conservatives, who only aped Liberal policies to garner centrist voters (which it failed to do) at least may have provided a modicum of sanity in returning Canada to a country that values its heritage and primary economic drivers like the natural resource industry. On election night Trudeau claimed he had a “mandate” despite the fact he garnered only 32.2 per cent of the vote – the second time he had fewer votes than the Conservatives. Expect him, with virtually full backing from the New Democrats, to ram through more anti-carbon industry measures and kill the golden goose which fires the Canadian economy, as well as authoritarian legislation like the stalled internet censor bills, and of course simply more and more profligate spending, just because he can and does. O’Toole was credited with running a generally decent campaign. But he failed miserably in nailing the Liberals on their perennial scandals, Justin’s blackface and sexist treatment of women and his virtue-signaling but lack of progress on Indigeneous issues like clean drinking water…..Locally, Chris Lewis retook Essex for the Conservatives despite a determined effort by the NDP’s Tracey Ramsey to recapture the seat. She must have been disappointed despite saying her defeat was more an “anti-Trudeau” vote, losing by almost 1500 more votes than in 2019. Windsor West's NDP Brian Masse cruised to yet another victory, not surprising given his long service and constituency ties. Former Liberal provincial cabinet powerhouse Sandra Pupatello must have been embarrassed, losing a second time and by more than 8000 votes. The true heartbreak must have been Windsor-Tecumseh NDPer Cheryl Hardcastle, also trying to recapture her seat and losing to nice guy but opportunist (after abandoning his city council seat) Irek Kusmierczyk by only 675 votes.

Photo: Wikipedia

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Federal hearings a welcome reveal of government workings

The public hearings under Justice Paul Rouleau (photo) into the federal government's decision to invoke the Emergencies Act last February in the wake of widespread truckers' Covid mandates protests is now over. Since Oct. 13 Canadians, if they've watched much of the proceedings, got a rare glimpse into the workings of our governments - on the local, provincial and national levels - and the kind of personal and written exchanges members of the public rarely or never see, including even hand-written notes from people like Canada's Deputy Prime Minister. This is the kind of spotlight on government rarely seen in the Great White North, and more likely seen south of the border in, for example, Congressional committee hearings into appointments of cabinet members and Supreme Court judges. - 11/25/22

Suspend parking fees during the film festival

The streets were empty during the recent Windsor International Film Festival (WIFF). Not for lack of people but lack of cars. The reason? The city kept enforcing metered parking which made it impactable for moviegoers to park on the street. Blocks of empty parking spaces could be seen. Part of the problem is that it costs $2 per hour to park. The other is that meters’ time limit is only two hours, and most films run approximately that limit. As a goodwill gesture why couldn’t the city suspend parking fees during the 11-day WIFF? After all the festival, after fireworks night and Canada Day or Santa Claus parades, brings more people downtown than any event. The city would show continued support for WIFF as well as downtown retailers who’d reap the spinoff benefits. – 11/11/22

Detroit business group against own interests

You've got to wonder whether big business actually looks out for its own interests or simply wants to virtue signal to the people in elite circles with whom it rubs shoulders - like politicians and lobbyists. Such is the case with the Detroit Regional Chamber, which endorsed incumbent Governor Gretchen Whitmer in the Nov. 8 election. Despite Whitmer's deplorable record on the Covid nursing home crisis (sending residents into homes where Covid flourished) but especially her desire to close down Line 5, which provides oil and gas to numerous regions and Michigan industries, including Metro Airport, the chamber, esentially without comment, endorsed the governor. Other Michigan business groups, though not all, have endosed opponent Rupublican Tudor Dixon. - 10/17/22

Use $2.1 billion to pay down Ontario debt

Unions are reportedly chomping at the bit – besides bringing a court case against the Ontario government – for major wage increases after a three year one per cent cap on salaries. That’s because the government just reported a $2.1 billion surplus. But why automatically assume this money should go into increasing salaries? This surplus is only for last year. The province has a mammoth debt of almost $400 billion. Why can’t the money be used to put a dent – a very small dent admittedly – in that? The average provincial employee’s salary is about $70,000, according to Ontario’s Financial Accountability Office. And employees already have job security, great benefits and pensions. Just, you know, asking. - 9/30/22

Two down, one to go

The Western world can take solace in the rise this month of Liz Truss as the UK’s new prime minister and Pierre Poilievre as head of Canada’s Conservative Party. Both are economic and cultural conservatives that vow major curbs on flagrant government spending and an increasingly regulatory state. They’re staunch supporters of major economic drivers like fossil fuels and against forced campaigns in education and the corporate worlds of divisive policies like Critical Race Theory. And both have strong followings among the working-class, not the elites which have controlled virtually all aspects of society for several years now. It remains for Poilievre to be elected prime minister but his chances look better than ever. With Canada and the UK having new centre-right leaders it’s now the United States’ turn to take back the country from woke activists and economic dislocation, a major crime wave and millions crossing an undefended southern border. Hopefully that happens in November’s Midterms. - 9/16/22

Kingsville developer wins - finally

It’s been a long haul for Brotto Development Corp. but the firm has finally won the right to build townhouses and a condo complex in Kingsville. At issue was the so-called 1920s era two-storey “colonial revival” house at 183 Main Street E. across from Kingsville District High School. The town had designated the property heritage without consulting Brotto, which wanted the land for redevelopment. Brotto offered a compromise of keeping the house and building the development behind it. That wasn’t good enough for the town. Brotto appealed to a provincial land tribunal and won. As Brotto’s Christian Lefave said, Kingsville is now out money for the appeal and residents will face higher home prices due to market inflation. Not a very smart move, Kingsville. – 9/2/22

Photo: Google Street View

Mums the word on L'affaire LaFlamme

So why was longtime CTV National News anchor Lisa LaFlamme unceremoniously deep-sixed after a 30-year illustrious journalistic career? Sexism, ageism, stylish silver hair-ism, clash of egos, newsroom politics, changed media environment, uncaring corporate culture? Some or all the above? It’s anyone’s guess since speculation is through the roof and no one – absolutely no one – is speaking, including the corporate suite and LaFlamme herself. Kind of odd since this is a journalistic institution, which would, uh, demand transparency from anyone else. – 8/19/22

Nursing problem highlights unique border issues

Windsor does face a unique problem when it comes to recruiting nurses – a colossus across the river which actively sucks our region dry for nursing talent. Some 1600 nurses commute daily from Windsor-Essex to Detroit hospitals; 30 per cent of the Henry Ford system (photo) are Canadian employees. It’s no wonder. For years there has been a dearth of hiring opportunities locally yet large American systems, privately-run, can offer sumptuous salaries and benefits including as much as $15,000 signing bonuses, all in US bucks. It’s another symptom of senior government border neglect. How to solve? Why not have special border zones, like urban economic incentive districts, where government employees like nurses are paid competitive rates so that we don’t lose our talented to the other side of the river. – 8/5/22

Photo: US News Health

Welcome crackdown on noise pollution

Finally, local law enforcement is beginning a crackdown on noisy vehicles, a plague on streets and neighborhoods seemingly from the dawn of the motor age – souped-up cars and motorcycles (you know the kind) whose owners see fit to disturb the peace by testing their road riding gonads. The decision is timely because summer is the worst time for noise as motorists (the car and two wheeled variety) parade during idyllic warm days. Says Windsor police chief Jason Bellaire, “We ask that everyone consider others and be respectful to everyone in our communities by complying with all legislation pertaining to unnecessary noise.” It’s amazing how self-centred these motorists can be, oblivious to the irritation they cause. This also includes indulgences like squealing tires and loud stereo. So, motorists, you've been warned. – 7/21/22

An asinine integrity commissioner law

What’s the definition of ridiculous? A rule that states that the City of Windsor’s integrity commissioner can only hear and decide on a complaint until August 19, the deadline for candidate nominations for the upcoming municipal election this fall. That effectively prevents a group protesting Mayor Drew Dilkens' (photo) image on a tax bill insert proclaiming several city accomplishments, to lodge a complaint. They called the image blatant electioneering and demand the mayor pay the $1883.32 printing cost himself. Whether their complaint is legit is one matter. But what’s the sense of this rule? There should be absolutely no timeline on such a complaint or investigatory process especially since the city has an integrity commissioner well in place. This is one of these asinine laws all governments have and can only help bring public officials into disrepute. – 7/8/22

In Memoriam, CAOs

We are gathered here today to offer our sincere condolences to all the dearly departed Chief Administrative Officers (CAOs) who have recently graced the halls of local municipal government. First, we had John Miceli, long time Amherstburg CAO and former of City of Windsor, leave his post last summer. Why? “Employment issues.” Then, to the big city of Windsor, where the ever go getter Jason Reynar, lauded for upheaving several departments after hired from the small town of Innisfil, left under mysterious circumstances in April. No comment except that city council is moving “in a different direction.” And finally, this week, back in the 'burg, another newly minted CAO, Peter Simmons, left ever so quietly, after being in his new digs five months. He has been replaced by Valerie Critchley, former city employee terminated by then CAO Jason Reynar in his departmental upheaval (see above). Departed CAOs, our sympathizes are with you - if we only knew the reasons. – 6/14/22

Let's hear it for Canadian elections

When it comes to elections, Canada’s may be among the best organized. Yesterday’s Ontario election was a case in point. Walk into the polling station, a couple of brief hellos from workers and directions to your poll, where a staffer briefly shows you the ballot and directs you to one of several voting screens. A simple “x” with a felt pen marks the ballot. You give it to another staffer, who slips the covered ballot into a machine. And you’re on your way. The process probably didn’t take three minutes. Compare this to the chronic vote controversies over electronic voting and wait times in US elections. As well, Canadians have to show ID, another point of controversy down south. – 6/3/22

Photo: Elections Ontario

Getting it straight on lingering Covid issues

Issues at Essex County Council and the Greater Essex County District School Board show there are lingering Covid issues still affecting public policy. County Council is torn by continuing to hold some public meetings electronically. Lakeshore Mayor Tom Bain was uncomfortable and understandably so. He suggested in person meetings are important for, well, democracy, with public delegations meeting councillors and a better exchange of issues in person. Meanwhile at the school board some trustees are upset the province hasn’t responded to several letters requesting re-imposition of mandates. That’s perhaps rude but the province has now rescinded the mandates and even interfered when the Ottawa board tried to reimpose them. With the worst part of the pandemic over despite a “sixth wave” of the much milder Omicron variant, trustees should realize protocols are finally over. But it’s worth repeating no one’s preventing any child – or anyone - from wearing masks. That’s an individual decision.– 4/2/22

A near EV future? Good luck automakers

Good luck with converting Stellantis, which own’s Chrysler, customers to totally electric vehicles. Stellantis unveiled ambitious plans yesterday to see the carmaker go totally green by 2038. By 2030 it wants to sell 70-100 per cent EV vehicles in Europe and almost half in US. For those who’ve been keeping track that’s eight years away. It’s hard to see how that will happen. Only nine per cent vehicle sales worldwide in 2021 were EVs. Second, look around you. How many EVs do you see on the road, not just in Windsor-Essex – ironically where gas guzzling pick-ups are well represented among an automotive-based workforce – but North America? Gas stations are as busy as ever. And automakers still haven’t figured out how to convince a skeptical public that EVs are as convenient to fill-up (recharge) and reliable (range anxiety) as good old internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. - 1/3/22

A special place in Hell

There must be a special place in hell for the likes Aubrey Cottle (photo), the self-admitted "cyber-terrorist" hacker who revealed the names of thousands of people who donated to the recent trucker protest convoy. Cottle, in a crazed Tik Tok rant, bragged that "I hacked GiveSendGo baby and I’d do it again! I’d do it a hundred times!” His hacking of the GiveSendGo donation site has now resulted in journalists prying into - and some revealing - the names of people donating to the convoy. In certain cases those who owned businesses have been threatened after their names were released. - 22/2/22

Public board strikes from on high again

Attention Greater Essex County District School Board! Just because a school’s team name is “rebel” doesn’t mean its football and basketball players are racists. But in another top-down move by the public board, just like it did by overruling a naming committee for the new Amherstburg high school to make sure the name there was politically correct, the board has dictated that Riverside Secondary School has to change its name, Rebels. Why? Because the word “rebels” is associated with Confederate racists in the US South. Well, sure, though how many people knew that? But it’s more overwhelmingly associated with the general use of the term – considered indeed very progressive – of people who rebel. Get it - “rebel” (verb), same as rebel (noun) – against authority of all kinds? Is the iconic film starring James Dean, Rebel Without a Cause, also to be banned? Mind you, Riverside’s T-shirt of a Casper-like ghost carrying a conspicuous-looking Confederate flag was bizarre. But you can castigate the flag without banning the name. – 2/2/22

Town tries, and fails, to ban free speech

Port Colborne, Ont. has a lot of nerve, not to mention lacking in any concept of free speech. The municipality tried to get a resident to take down a F-ck Trudeau flag but failed. You may have seen the flags or stickers which are also displayed in Windsor-Essex. Port Colborne said the flag violated property standards where “exterior walls of a dwelling and their components shall be free of unauthorized signs, painted slogans, graffiti and similar defacements.” After a legal challenge the town, located in the Niagara region, backed down. The municipality also thought the message obscene. Huh? A red maple leaf fills out one of the first word's letters. “We hope that (homeowner) Melissa’s situation will serve as an example to other towns and cities, and that citizens across Canada will remain free to express their political views without interference from bureaucrats,” says Christine Van Geyn of the Canadian Constitution Foundation, which brought the challenge. Yes, take note petty tyrants everywhere and those ignorant of the law. – 1/17/22

Health unit needs to disclose more info

Why won’t the local health unit release details on why someone with Covid-19 has died? Such is the case with a 20-something whom the unit this week reported died with Covid. The reason? “Privacy.” How far does privacy go versus releasing vital public information that might be useful in putting this pandemic into perspective? Was the individual vaccinated? Did she (the health unit has already given her gender away) have comorbidities, often the case with young Covid deaths? Keeping the public in the dark will only continue rash generalizations and fuel paranoia over this disease. – 12/15/21

Use supply chain crisis to get back to "real meaning" of Christmas

There are fears aplenty that the current supply chain crisis will mean fewer gifts under the tree this Christmas. “Consumers might see news about port backups, but that won’t hit home until they try to buy the toy of the year and can't get it," Jennifer Bartashus, an analyst for Bloomberg Intelligence, said. “That’s when they’ll hit crisis mode.” While one can sympathize with retailers trying to recover from the pandemic, here’s an idea. How about a less materialistic Christmas? Middle class Canadians for decades have had a plethora of the latest toys and gadgets to choose from at Christmastime to the point of material gluttony. How about using this supply chain crisis to get back to the “real meaning” of the Yule? Less materialism and more glad tidings. – 11/9/21

Photo: Creative Commons

Board insults A'burg school naming ctte.

You can joke that nothing should ever be decided by committee, especially a 16-member one. But in this case the committee successfully decided something that was overruled by the very people who appointed it. That would be the Greater Essex County District School Board, which, quite out of the blue and after months of the committee’s hard work, rejected the name of the new Amherstburg high school because, wait for it, it had the name “Amherst” in it. For some reason, Amherst has become a dirty word. That’s because the town, as well as a multitude of communities across Canada and the US – are named after the 18th century Lord Jeffrey, whose forces conquered New France and he became the first British Governor General of what would become Canadian territories. The charge: he wanted to infect Indigenous people’s blankets with smallpox. In recent years that has become his defining narrative although it has been challenged. But now that the board has rejected its own committee’s well-intentioned decision, it, rather than the citizens of Amherstburg, should hang its head in shame. – 10/12/21

Photo: Wikipedia

Hold him to his words

It’s good to see Premier Doug Ford saying yesterday the new provincial vaccine passports will be only “temporary.” Here’s his words: “We need to do everything in our power to avoid future lockdowns and closures. That is why we are bringing in these exceptional measures on a temporary basis and will end them as soon as they can be responsibly removed.” That’s good to hear, especially when so many provinces, including Ontario, have given no indication when such a pass system will have a sunset clause. Customers of “non-essential” businesses, starting today, will have to show vaccine receipts. You’ll also have to show a personal ID card! And then on this date next month the QR phone app will launch. The pass is a huge intrusion on civil liberties, pandemic or no pandemic. And it’s highly questionable how effective it will be with very high provincial vax rates and evidence that even people who are vaccinated can spread Covid-19. So Ford’s nod to personal liberties is welcome but let’s hold him accountable and expect this “papers please” regime will end ASAP. – 9/22/21

Why foot-dragging on school worker vax mandates?

Why weren’t teachers and other school workers not forced to be vaccinated against the Covid-19 virus, as hospital workers are being told to do at risk of losing their jobs? Throughout this pandemic teacher unions have been among the most vociferous in their cries for a “safe” return to classes as huge amounts of the school year were eviscerated last year and this due to Covid fears. Yet the school year began with no mandates. The province just came out with a tepid policy requiring workers to only regularly get tested instead of vaxxed and has given school boards until Sept. 27 to implement their own policies. Toronto’s board has finally required full vaccination by Nov. 1. But why has it taken so long? Why did the province, only after classes resumed, announce the policy? And it comes as scores of children in local Windsor-Essex schools are sent home because of Covid-19 cases. – 9/15/21

"Your papers, please!"

It has come to this. More and more government jurisdictions, from New York to Quebec and now Nova Scotia, are implementing or plan to implement so-called vaccine passports. This means that to use non-essential facilities – to enjoy a pleasant Saturday evening at a restaurant, for example - people will have to show their papers, or in modern parlance a phone app, to prove they’ve been fully vaxxed. The idea is abhorrent because of its grave infringement on civil liberties and is reminiscent of old Soviet and Nazi war films. “Your papers, please!” Thankfully, Ontario’s Doug Ford hasn’t signed on, though don’t be surprised if he finally does, peer pressure from other jurisdictions forcing his hand. As for Covid safety if people are fully vaxxed why a passport? They should be confident knowing they’re overwhelmingly protected. – 8/9/21

"Get the first vaccine available" - yeah right

There have been many examples throughout the pandemic where governments got it wrong. Whether it be originally advising against mask wearing, then closing small retailers where Covid hardly spreads, that Covid can be picked up from tactile surfaces (why are there still hand sanitizers?) to closing schools when a preponderance of evidence shows kids are least suspectable to Covid and hardly spread it. Add to the list the refrain “Get the first vaccine available.” There’s probably a lot of Canadians right now seething with anger having got, say, AstraZeneca’s Covishield (Indian manufactured) version or mixed different vaccines because of Canada’s deplorable early vaccine rollout. Why? Because many countries and cruise lines are now refusing to accept people who got those very jabs.– 7/23/21