Saturday, July 27, 2013

July 27: The ultimate in non-news....

When the front page carries a big story that the CEO of Walmart is all excited about developing sales in Moncton, you know this is going to be a slow day. But that's what it says. The CEO has stores in  New York, Los Angeles, Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Boston....But Moncton,wow! This is where the action is.

What follows is a long story that's really an ad for Walmart; and a pretty simple-minded one at that. In the five minutes it took to go through the whole paper, I saw only three items of even casual interest. Even Gwynne Dyer's column was of no great import.

The only letter to the editor that caught my attention is "Report the news, don't create it". This is a bizarre one. It charges the TandT with over-reporting demonstrations by protesters.  Protesters are described as people who are against everything, have a negative approach to the development of the province,, and who get "extravagant coverage" by the paper.

Extravagant coverage? The writer mentions only one story about the protesters. That is "extravagant"? In fact, the TandT has suppressed almost all information about the protestors, from Dr. Leary all the way to the weeks long confrontation with SWN.

But it's a useful reminder that there are people who think like that. They just don't like protestors. That's it. Case closed.

In yesterday's comments received from readers, there is one about Irving Oil being connected with the Lac-Megantic disaster. Being in the midst of moving, I didn't read the account it mentioned until this morning. I would be cautious about it.

There is obviously an Irving connection. But this article by Presscore goes much too far with the evidence it has. Heavy prejudice is evident throughout the article - and others that appear in Presscore. The choice of words is dreadfully loaded. It reads like a column written by Norbert's evil twin brother.

The thrust of the article is that Irving Oil deliberately organized the whole disaster in order to get a pipeline approved as a safer alternative to rail transportation.

I can certainly see a case that Irving OIl was acting without taking adequate measures to assure public safety - perhaps even deliberately taking risks to cut costs.  But deliberately creating a disaster? The evidence presented for that is not well supported.
There is, in fairness, an important story on p. D3. It's about a climatologist who reports that the melting of Arctic ice means we can expect more incidents of severe weather such as tornadoes. Indeed, he says, it is already happening. And the melting of the arctic ice is the result of climate change - which has some connection with using fossil fuels to create energy.

Well, it should be an important story. But it isn't.Harper has made it quite clear he has no intention of taking any action to slow down climate change. Indeed, he is the world leader in promising to do nothing. Nor will any American president do anything but talk.

That is because our lords of energy are getting very, very rich out of fossil fuels. They have no interest in cutting the flow of conventional oil or of shale gas or of coal. That's why they give millions to "think tanks" to play down the dangers of climate change.

The editorial is about the money-making potential of the Petitcodiac river. Money-making - that's the major theme that seems to run through all the activities of all governments at every level of this province. But making money is surely not what government is all about.

Government is about identifying and serving the needs of people. Yes, money is one of those needs. But it's not the only one except, it seems, in New Brunswick.

A political party should start by identifying needs. Then it projects costs. Then it determines how to get the money. But it isn't done that way here.

When our provincial government re-organized health services, it did NOT begin with needs. It began with a determination to cut costs. In fact, it announced the proposed cuts BEFORE it even had the report on what the needs were.

Here, the emphasis is on cutting needs to save money, then lavishing money on projects that will be of benefit largely to private business (the events centre, the moving of Moncton High which seems to have been done more to satisfy a developer than to satisfy any need of education, the constant appearance of private business groups moving in on government as though it were their right to do so - such as Irving declaring himself a member of the government, and appointing his hacks to be advisors to the minister of finance,his calling of a group of his invitees to a massive conference to plan the economic future of New Brunswick in a few days,  the creation of a businessmen's committee to advise the Moncton government on an events centre.

A feature of all these meetings is cuts in what people need - but never a look at our tremendous losses due to low, low taxes for the very rich, and welfare programmes for big business.

Government in New Brusnwick is, indeed, run like a business. The trouble is that a governments is not a business. Business has only one object - to make money. If it kills a million people to do that, as in Iraq, it's okay. If it kills many, many millions as in Congo, be it. Private business doesn't give a damn about health or education - unless there's a profit in it. It doesn't care about the future - at least any future beyond the next quarterly report and the bonusses that can go with it.

Government exists to meet the needs of people. We didn't get public schools from big business. We didn't get medicare from big business. We didn't get railway regulatins from big business. And we certainly don't get much in the way of taxes from big business.

When you put government and big business together - as we have in this province - you get fascism.

New Brunswickers have produced a great deal of wealth. The problem under this fascist form of government is that very little of that wealth stays here - or ever gets anywhere close to the people of this province.
Bill Beliveau writes on the decline of Detroit, comparing it with the situation in New Brunswick. Not only is his analysis of Detroit's fall simplistic, but it has nothing to do with New Brunswick. He even admits that. So why waste half his column on Detroit?

Nor does he have anything useful to say about New Brunswick. We have, he says, high rates of illiteracy among high school graduates. Gee. Could that have anything to do with illiterate parents? Could it have to do with priorites that cut education spending? And library speanding? Could it have anything to do with newspapers that encourage illiteracy and triviality?

Mr. Belliveau says New Brunswick suffers from an absence of leadership. Nonsense. It is smothered under leadership. The trouble is that the leadership is not to be found in government. It's to be found in the world of big business which tells our withering lillies in the Conservative and Liberal parties what to do.
Norbert again publishes three rants in one. Again, there is no room for him to give substance to any of his three rants.

However, there is a lesson to be learned from reading this column.Check out paragraph four of the section "Really rich". Usually, 's signals possession, as in "this is John's hat." Originally, the term would have been "This is John his hat." But it became condensed; so the apostrophe was inserted to indicate the missing hi.

However, it's difference for the word "it".  In "it's", the apostrophe is used to indicate a missing "i" for "it is". But the possessive for "it" is "its" (no apostrophe.)
Brent Mazerolle writes a flimsy and largely pointless column about the recent arrests of prostitutes in Moncton. As usual, most of it is make up of personal anecdotes that offer us no light on the subject. Then, when at last he does get to the arrests, he has nothing coherent to say.

He ends with several paragraphs which remind me of a dyinig fish flopping in the bottom of a boat. Then he delivers this nugget of wisdom, "Prostitution is a complex issue...." Since that is not enough to leave you completely in the dark, he adds that maybe the police were right and maybe they were wrong (way to lay it out, baby). Whatever the case, though, the police have nothing to apologize for.


If they were wrong, they have nothing to apologize for?

I don't know whether we shoud have an apology from the police. But we should certainly have one from the TantT for this column.



  1. MM&A railway has refused to pay for cleanup costs.

    The missing editorial from the Times Transcript?

  2. Graeme, I love your blog, but you really should write a letter to the T and T editor at least once /week and then people would at least be getting some value for their money!
    NB is in desperate need of your wit and wisdom.

  3. That was hilarious that person thinks the protesters have been getting a lot of press...they got some press when a few were arrested...that's about it.
    Did any of the doctors who spoke at protests ever get press in the T and T?...don't think so.
    Did the university professors ?..or other educated people?
    No, we don't want anyone to think that these naysayers could be reasonable, well informed concerned citizens..that would be bad for business.
    At least Dr Cleary still has her job..unlike Dr David Swann when he spoke out in Alberta re fossil fuels and health.

  4. I sopent the better part of a day last weekend trying to find a clear and definite link between Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway and beyond finding that they were contracted by Irving to move oil, didn't find any definite connection.

    I wasn't able to find out who owns shares in the railway's parent company; may there's a way to do it, but I don't know it.

    MMA is a horrible railway and operates in a dirt-cheap fashion, cutting corners wherever possible. So it is definitely in the Irving mold. But that doesn't make it an Irving property.