Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Dec. 18: I was wrong.

I don't know Daniel bourgeois. I first heard of him last night when I received a post that he had resigned Moncton City Council due to "conflict of interest". My reaction was pretty negative. This is a province in which conflict of interest is practically a requirement for any elective position or job, not a hindrance.

This morning, I read the report by Brent Mazerolle on p. A1, the headline "Bourgeois leaving Moncton Council." It's a pretty good piece of reporting, even a model one.  And the message is quite clear. Bourgeois' honesty and outspokeness were an obstacle to getting a job, or even a reference, in this city. The report shows Mr. Bourgeois as an honest and intelligent man. Some checking I did confirmed that.

I was wrong in my reaction of last night. And it seems that Moncton has suffered a serious loss.I do apologize to Mr. Bourgeois for cynically jumping to a conclusion.

Alas, the story also confirms a feeling I had when I first visited New Brunswick when the world and I were both young. I found it intellectually oppresive. A tiny group of people held all the power, used it ruthlessly. And there was a plodding fear of open discussion that ran all the way down to home and school groups. It's still like that. And New Brunswickers still vote largely for the same two parties, both of which obviously are owned by the boss.

Moncton City council has been no different. The loss of an intelligent and independent person is a heavy one in this province of submissive people.

And that's pretty well it for Section A.
Section C (NewsToday) has the expected story about how good oil pipelines are "Two banks call for pipeline expansion." So far, the TandT has not carried a single hint that pipelines could be any trouble at all. And there are 12 million sites dealing with that topic on the web. I can only hope that in the election to replace Mr. Bourgeois, we will not see a TandT editor as a candidate.

Nor have the editors paid the slightest attention to warnings from scientists that the use of fossil fuels is speeding up the process of global warning. Instead, Canadian and New Brunswick governments are working hard burn more of them, and to supply other countries with them so we can get global warming even faster.

Hey! Who cares about tomorrow? And tomorrow, by the way is not a hundred years ahead of us. It's soon. While yourchildren are alive. Maybe while you're alive.

But, hey. There could be some jobs in fossil fuels.Maybe.

Corporation bosses can plan for a future only in economic terms and only as the economy affects them, and only if "future" means three months from now. And they are quite incapable of social planning of any sort. We can already see some of the consequences.

Capitalism has effectively been destroyed, replaced by mindless greed and arrogance. Only a fool could believe that New Brunswick is a democracy. And in this, one of the richest countries in the world, the distribution of wealth is so unfair that we think it a big, Christian deal to feed the poor one day a year.On that day, leave no child unstuffed.

There is an important news story at the bottom of p. 1 one of Newstoday. "Pickton inquiry report highlights system failures". Pickton was the man who murdered dozens of drug-addicted prostitutes on his farm, and fed them to his pigs. Why did the police not catch him more quickly.?Well, the victims were women, native peoples, prostitutes,, on drugs. So who cared? This is a story that will cause many to dump all over the police. The reality is that the police very accurately reflected the attitudes of Canadians in general.
The editorial calls for more help to deliver Christmas food and toys. However, instead of feeding the poor once a year, it might be more useful to wonder why we live in a province that gives lavishly to billionaires every day, then feels all Christian for feeding the poor one meal a year.

Good cartoon by de Adder.

First-rate column by Norbert Cunningham. This one is insightful, well-written,and would deserve a spot in any newspaper.

Alec Bruce shows a talent for the comic or, more accurately the serious-comic. There's also an interesting op ed column by Michael Sullivan who is a retired employee of Moncton city hall.

For those who think all these favourable comments suggest we have a new Times and Transcript, there's a disillusioner in Alan Cochrane's op ed column. You will be fascinated by it  only if you are a person who is really,really interested in learning that Regina had 234 mm of rain - sometime or other.

And, oh, the letter of the day (by Jason Lawson) in Letters to the Editor, is a gem not to be missed.

This isn't a good edition. But it has more good parts than any edition of this paper I have yet seen. As Spencer Tracy said of Katharine Hepburn, "Not much meat there. But what's there is cherce."

The office of Bruce Fitch, minister of environment and local government, has responded to my request for information about contamination in Highfield Square -sort of. It seems the minister DOES have the authority to order that the owner clean up contaminated land.

So why, over all these years has no minister ever issued such an order? There is a piece of property used for years for shopping, restaurants, still in use for a food store - all that time contaminated, and all that time with the minister not seeming to care.

 The purpose of this sale is pretty clear. Mr. Fitch need now feel no compulsion to order a clean-up. Thisttakes the cost of a multi-million dollar clean-up out of the hands of the owners, and dumps it on the rate payers. It doesn't matter whether an "events centre" ever gets built. The owners are still ahead of the game. What they have is land made worthless until it is cleaned up. And what they're getting from us is a big price for that worthless land - plus we're going to pay to clean it up, too. Isn't that nice of us?

I had asked Mr. Fitch other questions, too. But he makes it clear he isn't going to answer them. His excuse is that I did not give him information he had requested. For example, I asked for the official list of contaminated sites in the province. His reply was he couldn't tell me that unless I first told him what they were, along with their official registration numbers. "Therefore," as he writes, "this request is now considered closed."

God bless you Mr. Fitch. And when you are born again, may it be as something higher on the scale of evolution.

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