Thursday, November 1, 2012

Nov.1: Things I hate to think about.

I am beginning this blog on the evening of Oct. 31. It all began with a note I received that I am invited (you, too. Everybody is invited) to a talk by New Brunswick's Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Cleary. It's Nov. 14, 7p.m. at 22 Church St. (That's the church building now known as Peace Centre.)

I'll certainly be there. But it forced home to me something I have known for a very long time - but have never grasped the full meaning of.

The government has ignored the warning of its Chief Medical Officer and of most, if not all, of the medical profession in the province. Quite apart from its long term effect on the environment, shale gas drilling is a threat to human health and even to human life. You know what I mean by human life? I mean you, of course. I mean the children you see going to school in the morning, the children you saw coming to your door on Halloween night. I mean the baby you saw in the stroller at the supermarket.

But as Dr. Lapierre said and as the government seems to agree, what the hell.  There's risk in everything. And there could be jobs in this. Tough luck, kid.

In a way, I can understand that contempt for human life shown by the energy industry. It's quite accustomed to spreading danger to health and life. For evidence, check out the way it's handled some of its giant oil spills. It's even used to killing people  in its wars. Think of the more than a million killed in Iraq. Think of the refugees, of the disabled  for life,of the orphaned, of the ruin and poverty and strange disease that still haunts that country.

  But the energy bosses don't live in the Iraqs of this world, so their children don't get killed or crippled or orphaned. Nor do they live close to the dirty work that they order even on this side of the world. . So I can understand their detachment.

But think of what it means to have a government that has sunk so low it has tried to kill Dr. Leary's report, and has been promoting a report by a man who had no qualifications to write it in the first place. Nor, by the way, did he conduct anything resembling a scientific study. But the government, with the active cooperation of the Irving press, has decided to promote the views of Dr. Lapierre. It has to decided to play dice with our lives.

I could understand it if they were actively evil. The shale gas companies are actively evil. They value money over all else. But the Conservatives and Liberals ( I don't kid myself that the Liberals are different or that their new leader is different) and the newspapers' management don't rise to the level of evil. These are the crawlers of our species.

I can understand greed. I can understand abuse. I guess what I'm trying hard to understand - and can't quite get - is the motivation of those who seem born to crawl.


There's really nothing to say about most of the paper - though a good deal to say but what is missing.

There is still no no mention of Harper's Canada-China trade deal - though this has the potential for disaster. The terms are incredible. Among other things, Chinese governments or investors can sue the Canadian governments (right down to the village level) for any legislation or regulation that affects their profits. Sorry - their expected profits. What they expect, of course, is up to them. They can also sue for any court decisions in Canada that go against them.

In other words, we have no right to any voice in how our own country is used or treated. And, just to rub it in, China is free to use any court in the world for its suit - and the suits may be heard completely in private.

Isn't that a great deal?

And, oh yes, parliament isn't allowed to discuss it, let alone vote on it. MPs will, however, be privileged with a one hour briefing on it.

What is the purpose of this treaty? Well, says Harper, it's to open up China to Canadian investment. Okay.
Funny, though. There's not a word about that in the treaty. We're giving up the farm - for nothing in return.

And not a word about anything in the TandT.

What does that say about the insights of the national or the world news editor?

There's no word of what's going on in the language wars in Quebec despite language legislation that will make the use of English almost illegal. There's not even a story about Coast Guard Canada having to move its headquarters for Quebec to Halifax. Reason? Under Quebec law, they would not now be permitted to require bilingualism for medics and others - even though English people do drown, too.

I can feel sympathy for Acadians because I know what it is to live under an intolerant and even racist majority. The problem isn't language. The problem is people. New Brunswickers should be getting a good look at Quebec - so they can see themselves better, and where they are taking us.

I don't think I ever told you the rest of the story about Canada's "protected" waters. Harper has been removing regulations for environmental regulations on most lakes and waterways so as not to get in the way of those nice people who dig mines and search for oil and shale gas.  As a result, there are now almost no protected fresh water areas in Atlantic Canada. But take heart.

Though most lakes and waterways across Canada no longer have protection, a very small number still do. And 90% of them are in Conservative ridings, mostly in the Ontario cottage country for the very rich where summer shacks run to a million and more - mostly more.. In fact, most of those lakes are in the cottage country ridings of two, cabinet ministers.

Check it out, Norbert. Ottawa Citizen, Oct. 29.

And now to the editorial and op ed pages.

The editorial is its usual, brainless and manipulative self. At a time when what just might be the biggest economic crisis in history is hanging over us, we really, really must go into the hole for a hundred million or more for an EVENTS CENTRE. Yeah. It will revive downtown.
1. I have yet to see anybody present any evidence that events centres anywhere in the world do any such thing. I have never seen one that revived any district. For over fifty years, the Montreal Forum, home of Les Canadiens was perhaps the greatest events centre in Canada. And over that fifty years, it was the commercial dead end of downtown Montreal. I can remember only two businesses being attracted to the area in that time - a MacDonald's and a nearly new shop for a local church.
2, And who is the new downtown going to attract? Big, trendy shops from Toronto and Vancourver and Halifax? Not likely. It won't even attract from Amherst. So if they do move, where are they going to come from? The only places they can come from are the malls.
But they aren't going to. Why should they? Move just to be near the EVENTS CENTRE? And if they did move, how are we ahead of the game if all we've done is shuffled the cards a bit?

This whole deal smells. We're getting ripped off big time. It smells. And, so far, most of City Council smells with it.

Alec Bruce raises a point that not much attention has been paid to. Was Hurricane Sandy just a taste of what's to come? If it is, we're in one hell of a target zone. Does City Council have any plans for that?

de Adder continues to show an amazingly feeble sense of humour for a professional cartoonist. It's a cartoon of an NDP potential candidate saying that the new Liberal leader should not get a free pass into the assembly. And somebody says to him,"Who are you?"

Look. A political cartoonist is supposed to know something about politics. The ridiculous figure in this case is our premier who said he would give the Liberal leader a free pass. Why should he do that? In a democracy, people have a right to decide who will represent them. By Alward's decision, all the conservatives in that riding, the premier's own people, have lost that fundamental right to be a free people.

Norbert begins, I think correctly, in dismissing the new Liberal leader as anything new and different from our usual political trash. Then he gets silly about how we have two, strong parties, and that's good for democracy. Our two, strong parties have been bad for democracy for almost two centuries. I don't know where he gets the idea that now they're good. Norbert really should not write on politics.

Excellent column by Jody Dallaire.

Rod Allen, the assistant managing editor, uses his opinion column to talk about carving pumpkins. That tells us all we need to know about the management of the TandT.

I look forward to seeing you on Tuesday, Nov. 6, at 7 pm for current events at the Moncton Library.
And at the Peace Centre on Wednesday, Nov. 14 at 7 pm (22 Church St.) to hear Dr. Cleary.

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