Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Nov. 21: ...if I were editor.....

..... of the TandT, I wouldn't have to waste time as I did with the letter below in which I give one, last try to squeeze an answer out of our department of the environment....If I were editor, I could assign a reporter to do it. And if the reporter got the same kind of evasive responses I've been getting, I'd run them on the  front page to shake environment minister Fitch a little bit...


Dear Sir;

Having accepted that I shall never get an answer to my original question about contaminated land in New Brunswick, I wonder if it would be possible to get an answer to a much simpler set of questions on New Brunswick law as it affects contaminated land. (I have examined the environmental and heritage act, but it does not seem to address this topic.)
1. Is there a law requiring landowners to report land contamination?
2. Is there a requirement for the landowner to clean it up?

These questions should call for no great drain on the resources of the department.
Graeme Decarie

But if I were editor of the TandT with a staff of reporters, I would raise the questions that city council obviously hasn't.
1.Exactly who are the owners of Highgate Square?
2. Why was polluted land approved as a building site for stores, restaurants and a grocery store in the first place?
3.Is there any requirement for pollution to be reported?
4. Is there any requirement for the owner to clean up?
5. What is the  normal market price for such a piece of heavily contaminated land?
6. If we also have to pay for cleanup, are we being taken for a ride? (I note that city council has not yet produced anything more than a guess about how much the cleanup will cost. )
7.What, exactly, is council's plan for Moncton development?
8. Where and why does a hundred million dollar hockey rink fit into that plan?

Really, I suspect it  is not likely the "events" centre will ever be built. Not only is Harper most unlikely to come up with piles of money; but lenders may be hard to find. I don't know whether council has noticed it, but we are into a worldwide recession - the worst since the great depression. And it shows no sign of getting better.

There was a recent story in the TandT business page which, as usual, missed its own point. The Canadian dollar has been officially named a reserve currency ( one that can be trusted to hold its value.)  Now, why would the US and the rest of the western world suddenly get nice to us like that?

It's because the world's major currency, the U.S. dollar which was the world's leading reserve currency, is really worthless. I mean really. Nothing is backing it up - not gold, not economic performance, not nothing. And there is no sign it's going to get better. The same is true for the Euro and the Japanese yen. This bow to Canada is really a desperate attempt to avoid world catastrophe in money markets.

(Oh, I know the US has discovered wonderful oil deposits. But using them means such a speeding up of climate change that we could be in irreversible trouble within just ten years. The same is true of us selling oil to China.)

This is perhaps not prime time to build a hundred million dollar hockey rink.

But, hey, what if it really doesn't matter if we don't build an "events centre"? What if the real game for the owners of Highgate Square is to dump a piece of land that has become worthless? If somebody who owns a hockey team gets the bonus of a new rink at public expense, that would be nice, too. But just getting rid of that land is a very good deal all by itself.

But I'm not an editor at The Moncton Times and Transcript. I could, perhaps, usefully run for council. Then I could organize the honest ones to get smart, and get a piece of the action for themselves.
I wrote the lines above last night. So today's headline in the Moncton Times and Transcript did not come as a big surprise. City council might  consider a smaller events centre. Today's headline calls it a 'mini-centre', though with over 7,000 regular seats, club suites, luxury suites and party suites, it doesn't sound all that mini.

As well, it would expand to 9,000 using the ice surface for extra seating. (However, the TandT says that with nine thousand capacity, there would be only two, party "seats". Two party seats? That doesn't sound like much fun.)

The city is also puzzling over what to do with the remaining eleven acres in their land purchase. That means they're now only talking about the hockey rink - which is all this was ever about. So what do they do with the other eleven acres? They don't know. Should they maybe find the master plan for the city? If there is one?  In any case, isn't it a bit late for this to come up?

They're also wondering about looking for private investors - a sure sign that costs are out of control even before we really get started. This one is a disaster even before it starts.

Predictably, the editorial writer gets in a tizzy about the cuts. And that's understandable. The boss wants a hockey rink. Besides, the editorial writer lives in a world in which it's still 1950, a world in which things are looking better every day and going to keep getting better. Too bad the rest of us live in a quite different world.

Are the council and the editorial writer naive? Or is this a scam?

judging from the clumsiness of this affair, I'd say that many, perhaps most of the council might be naive. As I read a newspaper which has never been clear about exactly who makes how much money out of the big shows that come to Moncton, how much goes in costs, how many permanent jobs are created, and how much money really stays in Moncton, I'd say it's a scam.
Good cartoon by de Adder, though. And it cuts close to the real cause of poor literacy in New Brunswick.

As usual, there is not a word on the question of shale gas, no mention of Ontario's refusal to permit drilling until it has been proven safe. But there is a big space on the front page for a bus driver who is retiring after forty years on the job. I needed to know that. Hey, we could have nothing but pictures of people who are retiring. Oh, and the usual page of smiling people handing giant cheques to somebody, and smiling at the camera.

P, A6 has a decent story about a Moncton lineman who is in New York helping to restore power lost in Hurricane Sandy. Too bad there's nothing on the larger story, the one that could some day affect Moncton.

There is a common feeling among climate scientists that Hurricane Sandy was the result of climate change - and we will get more of such weather. I thought of that as I read a post from a friend, a New Yorker, who says it will take a decade to fully repair the damage in New York and along the Jersey shore. Too bad the next storm  is not likely to wait that long.

And we live on the same planet as New York.
There is no mention of the civil war in Congo. For one hundred and twenty years, the people of Congo have been the world's most brutally exploited, tortured and murdered. Nobody knows the total of dead. Tens of millions may well be too low a guess.

All of this has been done by us. Us in the western world. By Belgian, French, British, American and, prominently, Canadian mine owners and other resource extractors. The people of Congo have been treated as slave labour. Schools and hospitals scarcely exist. Their one chance of democracy was cut short by western armed intervention, and their elected president murdered. Directly or indirectly, he was murdered by us. (All this information comes not only from reading, but from a friend who lived in Congo as a missionary for many years.)

But it has never made NewsToday. Well.... who gives a damn?

Norbert has a foaming at the mouth column about the public fascination with the love lives of famous people - as shown in the Petraeus matter. Why, he wonders, are people like that?

Well, part of the reason is their news media don't give them much else to go on in cases like General Petraeus. Sometimes, rarely, we'll get an intelligent comment on what the real issue is but never, I notice, from the Norberts of this world. In fact, he seems to think the only issue was whether state secrets were involved. Hint, Norbert - state secrets were never the issue. Newspapers like yours made that part up.

You want to know why people read trivial trash instead of news? Check the content of your own paper. Note particularly the left side of section D, page 1.

And for those pure ones who want triviality but without sex or even a hint of a bustline, check out today's op ed page.

There is a letter from Senator Cordy that I found petty and irritating. She complains that Mulcair of the NDP is wrong to support Quebec separation on a vote of 50% plus. On that point, I actually agree with her. Where I disagree is that other parties have taken tougher positions on Quebec.

I was, for many years on the provincial executive of the Anglo rights group in Quebec, including years as VP and then Chairman. And I can tell you that no party, federal or provincial, did a damn thing to help us. It was a terrible experience to watch our community being systematically destroyed and humiliated - without much of a peep coming out of the rest of Canada. Indeed, it was our general experience that the Liberals of Jean Charest did more damage to the anglos of Quebec than the PQ did. And I can't remember the Conservatives doing anything at all. Nor are they doing anything now as the situation gets daily more abusive.

Thank you for your interest, senator, but I think I can speak for most of the executive of Alliance Quebec that we were disgusted by the failure of the rest of Canada to offer us any help at all. And we are not much interested in hearing partisan posturing from anybody
I was so relieved to get to Alec Bruce's column that I almost cried. Good stuff. It's about these big business-financed think tanks (like AIMS) that produce propaganda for the people who pay their bills. One of their annual specials is what they call a scientific measurement of freedom in the world.
It's a very money idea of freedom. Freedom means you're right to pay lower taxes in you're rich, to do whatever you like with your property,  to pollute if it helps your profits, etc.

Maybe we should work out such a freedom study for ordinary people. You know - the right to drive when drunk, the right to refuse to pay for what we take, the right to urinate on the lawns of mansions, stuff like that. I mean, we were all born to live free.

1 comment:

  1. WTF doesn't the city of Moncton just erect a statue of George Leblanc in front of the city hall and be done with it? This whole "events center"/hockey rink is nothing but a monument to him.