Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Dec. 12: My apologies....

As a reader pointed out to me, I missed an important story in yesterday's Moncton Times and Transcript.
So here it is.
Briefly, Irving oil wanted (guess what) an increase in petroleum prices. But they didn't take their case to the New Brunswick Energy and Utilities Board which is supposed to deal with such requests. Instead, they took it to a lawyer who was hired by the government not to negotiate such deals, but to act as an intervenor in the public interest in such cases.

Now, let's get this straight. Irving Oil, which has more lawyers than a dog has fleas, and after all these years in the business, didn't know who it was supposed negotiate a price increase with?

Another lawyer, hired by the government to protect consumers, negotiated a deal that he didn't know was improper? What mail-order school do they get these lawyers from?

It was, as I remember, a couple of months ago that I saw in the TandT an ad for the Irving Chapel. It invited us to come to the chapel, there to sit in the Lord's presence, and to reflect.  Wonderful idea. I commend it to the Irvings and their lawyers. And to the public intervenor.

Don't expect any quick decision on the case. We're told this can take a couple of months - not counting reflection time. Lots can be fixed in a couple of months.

But - credit where credit it due. The Times and Transcript did run the story. But, oh, there were some big stories it didn't run. For example.....

1. Testifying in Montreal, the retired CEO of a tobacco company said tobacco CEOs knew long, long before the general public did that smoking was a major cause of cancer. They knew that people were dying from their product. And they didn't say a word.
2. A giant British bank, HSBC was fined 1.9 billion dollars in a U.S. court  for laundering money, much of it for Mexican drug cartels. Now, if you or I had done that, there would not be a fine. That's a very serious criminal offence; and we'd be in jail or, at the least, doing a life sentence of reflection in the Irving Chapel. The people who laundered that money are criminals. So why aren't they doing time? Well, you know, it's - like - well - these are important people- and - well......
Bear in mind that the drug cartels represent something like a third of the Mexican economy. It's a safe bet that lots of other banks are laundering their money - as well as laundering money that should be going to taxes.
What we need are more chapels - for reflection.
3. The American Association for the Advancement of Science is one of the world's most respected scientific organizations. A year ago, at one of its conferences, a research team from the University of Texas presented a paper showing that fracking has no effect on drinking water. The report caused a sensation. Then---well, there was a certain amount of embarassment for both the university and the AAAS.
It seems the chief of the research project was employed on the side as consultant to a gas company - at a salary that had six zeros in it.

There are lessons in all this. The most dangerous thieves and killers in our society are not the unshaven louts who hide in doorways. The really dangerous ones wear expensive suits, get honoured at banquets, employ "consultants" from the most respectable of institutions. They kill and steal and corrupt and lie without mercy. They do it all over the world and, yes, even in New Brunswick to you, your children and your grandchildren - as long as you let them.
Another missed item - The American Civil Liberties Union is launching case against the American government, taking it to an international tribunal because American courts have refused to deal with it.

In 2002, George Bush (a devout Christian) ordered an American citizen to be imprisoned in a US navy prison in South Carolina. There he was held - on US soil, mostly in solitary, for 43 months of torture. No charges were ever laid. And there was no trial. American governments are refusing to apologize or even to answer questions about it.

In lesser news, many American cities are now putting devices into public transit to record all conversations.

Somehow, I'm not sure that all this is what George Washington had in mind.

The TandT has still not carried a word about the language situation in Quebec. The Parti Quebecois has hugely increased the budget for its language police, and is concentrating solely on stirring up hatred of the English, and fear of an attack on French - an attack which does not exist.  In one of the latest moves, it intends to establish that a very high competency in French, and impossibly high one, will be a requirement for graduation from any English high school. The intent is obvious - to destroy all English institutions, and to drive the remaining English out of Quebec.
But who gives a damn? Right?
The only effect it will have in this province is to cause its English bigots to act like the French bigots of Quebec.

There are only  two, important stories in Section A. One in the report of the New Brunswick Health Council. What  caught my attention was that the story was never clear on just what the council is and, more important, who picks it. So I checked the act that created the council. It's mostly bafflegab about consultation. There is no indication of how the council is chosen - or by whom. After all, I cannot imagine anything independent being set up by the New Brunswick government. Remember the choice of a U of Moncton professor to report on shale gas?
The other big story in A6 "Metro retailers have plenty of toys and gifts for pampered pets". Way to tell it like it is.

Lots of stuff in section C on the proposed pipeline from Alberta to the east coast. All is joy, prosperity, no problems. Why, there's even a hint that laying the pipeline though Quebec and NB could create as many as 6.000 jobs. Yes, and no doubt all of Quebec will stand up and clap hands at the chance to employ 6,000 New Brunswickers to build the Quebec section.

And what would the 6,000 do after the pipeline is built? Hey. It's jobs. Something will come along after. New Brunswick's economic planning, like Moncton's city planning, seems to be based on the premise that the world will come to end about 2015. And they might be right.

Generally, numbers are absent in these gushing stories. Nor is there any mention of problems with having such a pipeline. There's no mention of why it isn't taking the shorter route to the West coast, or why Americans are not cheering a similar pipeline from Alberta to Texas, or why a Texas judge has ordered a stop to construction.
Anyway, what this world really needs is for us to get more people to burn more fossil fuel to warm up this chilly Earth of ours.

Norbert is so excited over the pipeline (without giving us a single piece of information about it) that he wants Mr. Alward to stand right up in favour or it. As if that would be some sort of act of  courage. Anyway, relax, Norbert. Alward will say he's in favour just as soon as the boss tells him to say it. The key in his back is all wound up. But you have to wait for the boss to push the button before his mouth moves.

Always one with difficulty in sustaining a thought, Norbert deals with (count them) four topics in today's column without saying anything about any of them.

At that, he beats the op ed page which has no thought to sustain, even if its writers could sustain one. A point in one of them caught my attention, though. It was an appeal to remember the needs of Christmas food banks. I quite agree, but.... can we tolerate a society that spreads its wealth so unevenly and unfairly, that so many people can expect to get a good meal only once a year?


  1. Language police, you don't think that your exagerating a bit?

    1. well, they're called language police in Quebec.
      They have power to enforce Law 101.
      They have power to inspect, without warning or warrant, any commercial property.
      They have the power to impose penalties. And a single English word in a shop window or on a bulletin board or a menu can be - and often is - the cause of a prosecution.
      A word spoken in English in the wrong place can be penalized. For example, companies above a certain size MUST conduct all business in French. An English hospital was penalized because a French-speaking patient OVERHEARD to nurses speaking English to each other. A French person in Quebec has the right not to hear even a word of English, not even when being treated in an English hospital. When my mother was dying, the nurses refused to speak even a word to her in English (She was Scottish, knew little French, and had suffered a severe stroke.) The nurses asserted their right not to speak English.
      The word police means to monitor and enforce the law. That is what the language police do - and that is why they are commonly called police in Quebec - by both French and English.
      No. I don't think it's an exaggeration to call them police.

    2. And..... don't you be taking your New Brunswick french there.... it's not "pure" enough, and chances are you will be told to speak English.

    3. damn right. Quebec has its own brand of dialect. It's called joual.
      The French upper class of Quebec speaks impeccable French and English. Kids who attend French public schools are less fortunate.

  2. Hilariously ironic and tragic as usual Graeme!

    How can democracy or anything that resembles democracy ever hope to exist while we continue to allow large business interests to own newspapers and the rest of the mainstream media sources?

    I see the Saint John Telegraph Journal pronounced on its front page headline that Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver thinks the pipeline is a great idea.

    Nice to know the Telegraph Journal also has such high standards of journalistic integrity as to consult someone like Oliver who in the recent past has referred to environmentalists as 'radicals'.

    I guess anyone who desires to keep polluting the planet in the 19th and 20th century way is ok in his books.

    We certainly live in an up-side-down world!