Saturday, July 9, 2011

July 9: ...the meaning of blah....

Today's Times and Transcript is so short on anything that says anythinig at all about anything that I won't even attempt to comment on most of it. So -just a few things about the editorial and op ed pages - and then onto something the paper should have discussed, but didn't.

David Suzuki's column on wind power to generate electricity is worth a read.

The piece at the top of the op ed page, always by a staffer, is not worth a read. As always, the column is trivial, this time centring on the observation that vactions are nice - something we all fitured out a long time ago. A column like this can be done by a skilled writer with a gift for story-telling. I have seen nobody of such quality on the staff of The Moncton T&T.

Then there's the column by (Bill) Beliveau. Enough, Bill. we already know you're a Liberal. He addresses the questions of whether Liberal ideas are still relevant in modern Canada.

This is treating us like children. There is no such thing as a set of Liberal ideas. There once was. Until the 1890s, the Liberal Party was the party in favour of free trade. The Conservatives were the party of high tariff because big business then wanted a high tariff to protect it from competition. The Liberals changed their position under Laurier to copy the Conservatives so they could win an election.

Almost a centuy later. Canadian big business changed its mind because it could then do better under free trade. So the Conservatives changed their "principles"; and soon after the Liberals changed theirs again.

Principles, values, and morals are words that refer to basic beliefs that a party may represent. Neither the Liberals nor the Conservatives have shown much consistency in principles, values or morals The only thing that concerns either of them is getting elected.

Exceptions were personal ones. Conservative prime minister R.Bennett was late in getting to it, but did in the end show his values of compassion and concern for others. The Liberal Lester Pearson, showed principles in terms of foreign policy. That's pretty well the whole list.

And what principles, morals and values does Mr. Belliveau see as being essential to the Liberal Party begin with getting a leader who can generate the excitement of Will and Kate. To that he adds tactical items like getting Quebec back.

What the hell does that have to do with principiles, morals and values? Nothing. This is pure show biz, and old style political wheeling/dealing.

I suggest that Mr. Belliveau read about the lives of such people as J.S.Woodworth, Tommy Douglas, Conservative R.B.Bennett and former Liberal cabinet minister Warren Allmand to find out what the words principle, values and morals mean - and and how they can be applied to politics.

Finally, the T&T has often praised the way Moncton City Council is planning for our future - and  how the building of a hundred million dollar hockey rink is going to build that future. That's bunk. There is no plane. The location for the new Moncton High proves that.

Building schools in an as yet undeveloped suburb (and the building of the suburb, too) was a creation of the late 1940s, when gas was cheap and salaries rising so more people could buy cars. Those same factors created the shoppping mall with the first Canadian one built in 1949 in the Montreal suburb of St. -Laurent.

To built a new high school in Royal Oaks would have seemed a good idea in 1949. But that world is just about gone.

Cheap gas is never coming back. Nor can we go on with the enormous cost of sewers and water pipes and streets and roads to single houses, each taking up a larget space with its back yard and lawn.

Planning the future means seeing what it will be like in ten or twenty years. (Let alone the wild guesses at fifty years.)  And what it will be like probably means we need much denser population areas within or convenient to downtown; amd we will need immensely more efficient (and not gas-propelled ) mass transportation. We will need at least convenience shopping  within walkiing distance.
The future almost certainly lies in apartments and condos - but designed with shopping areas at ground level, and with access for each unit to some outdoor space, rather like the Azriela design at Expo 67.

At best, the plan for the New Moncton High is one for the 1940s. For the future, thinking of the realities of energy, movement, and cost, Moncton City Council has no plan for the future - or even any recognition of what the future is likely to be.

The "plan",  as is true of almost everyhing political  in the province, is just something to be refered to vaguely when council wants to approve some expensive idiocy coming from somebody who has lots of  money, and who wants to get even more from taxpayers.

The year is 2020. Gas is $15 dollars a litre. A high school will bus all of its students to school every day?  If children stay for after school activities, their parents will have to pick them up by car? And we're going to develop downtown by taking away a major institution of it? Right.

If city council did have a plan - and if it wants to borrow a hundred million - it would make far more sense to experiment with some innovative and efficent housing downtown, to bjild a high school within walking distance of that housing. With adequate population in walking distance, you will get businesses locating downtown, and revive the area. The hundred million would also cover a restructuring of mass transit.

With a hockey rink, all we'll get is a tax bill for a hundred million (double that with interest), and an underused facility surrounded by urban decay.

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