"Cowardice asks the question...is it safe? Expediency asks the question...is it politic? Vanity asks the question...is it popular? But conscience asks the question...is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but one must take it because it is right." ~Dr. Martin Luther King

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Quite The Ruckus.

Aurora Council recently accepted a staff recommendation to appoint an Interim Director of a new half-million dollar tax-funded program in Arts and Culture. The appointee was a member of the committee which recommended the position. At the time, there was negative reaction in the community to news of the appointment. It was noted the new appointee was the Mayor's friend and had participated in her election campaign.

The last reference on the issue was a quote from the Mayor that the individual had not yet decided to accept the position.

At Tuesday's Council meeting I asked if the position had been accepted . If so, had the new Director submitted his resignation from the committee. Councillors normally receive copies of resignations and appointments.

The answer was not immediately forthcoming. Instead, I was accused of making accusations of something improper. My conduct was again deemed shameful , inappropriate and damaging to the individual in question. The mayor professed her long-time friendship and gave a strong defence of his honorable reputation and competence.

Eventually it was acknowledged the appointment had been accepted and the individual had not since attended meetings of the Leisure Services Advisory Committee . Councillor MacEachern Chairman of that committee ,volunteered that he was taking temporary leave of absence..

I indicated a legal opinion was needed to clarify that a temporary leave of absence from a committee while holding a paid position with the town was sufficient to avoid a conflict of interest.

The Mayor professed further outrage. Legal advice on the question is a waste of taxpayers' money She ruled the issue must be handled through Notice of Motion.

In my judgement, a person cannot accept payment for services from the municipality while holding an appointment on the committee to which he is accountable.

I asked the question to inform myself and the community. I believe the answer defies logic and bespeaks culpable ignorance of the meaning of Conflict of Interest.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

A House of Hanky-Panky ?

The issue before Aurora Planning Board last Tuesday was a site plan for a vintage property in the centre of Town. Three lots of record were involved. The applicant proposed the use of a vintage home as a spa with four rooms upstairs for "overnight accommodation."

I am familiar with the nature of zoning. Among other things,it qualifies detached and semi-detached houses, apartment houses, and town houses, nursing homes, retirement homes, boarding homes and hotels are all "overnight accommodation". But they are not so defined. Separate requirements define each classification.

Four rooms with beds, upstairs in a vintage home converted to a spa house, is not a defined purpose sufficient for my comfort.

Nottawasaga Inn has re-named itself a Spa. It has a swimming pool, tennis courts, golf course, exercise rooms and recreation programs for children while parents luxuriate.

The Hotel I stayed at in July for my grandson's wedding in Ottawa is also a spa. The women in the
bridal party had hair and make up done in leisure and comfort on the day of the wedding. They were all beautiful. The wedding was on the lawn, the reception in a marquee.

In my mind's eye, four rooms upstairs in an old house on congested Wellington Street in Aurora do not fit the image.

The loose phrase "Overnight Accommodation" as a commercial use suggests a continual business operation. Hotels do not lock their doors at a particular hour. Traffic comes and goes at all hours of the night. Hotels are also governed by legislation other than municipal planning.

My function at the table in a planning debate is to give serious consideration to every angle of every proposal and how it might impact on neighbours' right to enjoy their property.

Wellington Street is no longer residential. Centre Street is. It abuts the proposal. Whatever happens at the spa definitely impacts the residential neighbourhood.

A planning debate is not about morals. It is not about lifestyles of the rich and famous.It is not about the applicant who makes a request for a change in zoning.

A planning debate is about a proposed change in use of property. A zoning definition is about specifying the use for present and future owners to know precisely how a property can be used.and how it cannot.

In fact, on Tuesday night at the Planniing Board Meeting direction was give to staff to provide a better definition of the use proposed by the applicant.. A resolution approved the application in principle. There were no opposing votes.

Wordle

HEATHER'S NOTE: Wordle is an online gadget for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. Here is the Wordle that I've created using the top 150 words from Evelyn's political blog.



Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Mothers Are All The Same

HEATHER'S NOTE:

This is a reprint of a letter Evelyn wrote to the Editor of the Auroran in 2003. I found it again yesterday and have printed it here for you to read.

Mothers Are All The Same

I was 15, he was 20. He was on leave and we were comparing notes on some of our experiences. He said when a person falls from a great height, he blacks out and is unconscious when he hits the ground. He told me the bombers were like huge metal canisters. With shells exploding on every side they would shake and shudder and the noise was horrendous.

I recalled the time five bombs fell on the town. They came down in a straight line. The last one made a huge crater on the shore. That's how we learned about the effect of concussion. It bounces like a rubber ball. All the windows on one side of the street can be smashed and on the other not even a crack.

He talked about the precision of bombing raids. The squadron would take off, reach the target, drop the bombs and leave at the same time. Any bombs not dropped would be dropped in the sea. That's when we realized the bombs dropped on our town were an accident. The pilot must have believed he was over the sea. A couple of houses were demolished and three or four people were killed. That was during the Clydebank blitz. It lasted a week.

There were air-raid sirens every night. Searchlights criss-crossing the sky and anti-aircraft guns firing for hours. We could hear the planes going over...it seemed for hours. No German planes were ever brought down. In the mornings when we walked to school, we found the pavement littered with ugly jagged chunks of metal.

I can't believe how matter-of-fact we talked about these things. He said the violence of the raids was terrible. When the crews got back they would climb into the trucks in absolute silence. It was as if their voices were locked inside their throats. It would be hours before they could speak again. There were always planes that didn't come back.

He went back off leave on a Sunday afternoon...his cap set at a jaunty angle, his kit bag hoisted on his shoulder. He left the house alone. We were not much given to hugs and kisses. There was no sense that we might never see him again. It was about the same time on the next Sunday afternoon that two policemen came to the door. They asked for our mother. She came down the stairs as if she was tumbling. I could hear her breath catching in her throat. She screamed when they told her his plane had not returned from a raid the night before. He was "missing in action".

We had a full house; grandparents, three aunts, a younger brother, three sisters, including me and a chubby little baby cousin. We all knew that whatever we were feeling, it was as nothing compared to what my mother was going through. It was November. The war was over within months.

During those months we scanned the papers for news of airmen being picked up at sea. It was my job to write letters to inquire if my brother was one of them. My mother kept on gathering and saving all the things that he liked - pineapple jam for instance - for when he would come home.

The war ended and soon we received a letter from the father of a crew member who had been taken prisoner. That's how we found out my brother was dead. and how he died.

As the flight-engineer, he didn't wear his parachute. The plane was hit and on fire. Half the crew had been killed. Patrick was wounded . . . his parachute burned...he and the boy who survived, wrapped their arms around each other and jumped together, hoping one parachute would save them both. It didn't.

When he came to, he was alone.

When we learned he was dead, it was my job again to write to the War Office. Promptly, as soon as they received my letter, they sent a priority telegram telling us he had been "killed in action".

War is weird. They have all these rules. Only drop the bombs on the targets... otherwise people might get killed. My brother was buried in Dusseldorf, by the enemy. They retrieved his identity tag, his little penknife and his rosary without the crucifix. These things came back to us.

My mother lived until she was 90. At the end, the only thing in her possession was his last letter. It was just a note, written on a typewriter. He apologized for his mistakes, said he had enjoyed his leave, especially the baby...and got back to base safely. Just a single sheet of war-time stationery. I don't know how it has survived this long.

Funny thing...on one of her last visits to Canada, my mother brought with her the last letter written by her brother to his mother before he was killed. He called her "Mother Mine" and thanked her for the parcel of nice baked things she had sent.

James was my grandmother's first-born child. He was the eldest of 10, the youngest was just a babe. He was 22 years old when he was dropped off on the beach at the Dardanelles along with almost an entire generation of young Scots. Their bodies were torn apart by the machine gun fire that awaited them. He had already been wounded in the hell-hole trenches in France, had been sent home to recuperate and recalled before he was healed. He was killed in Turkey in 1917.

When a child dies of an illness or an accident...a mother's life is never the same again. But time and other children can help to bring acceptance. But when a beloved son's body is ripped apart by weapons of unimaginable brutality, on the decisions and orders of strangers, there can never be peaceful acceptance. No fine words of glory and honor and courage and awards of medals and coloured ribbons can heal a mother's broken heart or take away the cruel memory of the horror of the manner of their death.

There is no dignity in savagery.

British...Canadian...American...German...Korean...Vietnamese...Israeli or Iraqi. God help them...mothers are all the same.

Remembrance Day

I seldom start a fight. I generally prefer not to tussle with someone several generations removed from myself. The match is uneven. Oddly enough, though, the difference is not always appreciated.

I was recently solicited to purchase advertising to promote Remembrance Day. I did not respond. On a second approach I refused the offer and proffered an explanation. Remembrance Day is sacred to the memory of those who died in service to their country. I consider its use to promote business, politics or any other endeavour inappropriate.

The solicitation was to all members of council. I circulated my response to colleagues. I expected that to be the end of the matter. My respondent however was apparently not satisfied to let it rest. She circulated my response and hers to several individuals. She informed me she had met with Aurora Legion's executive. In return for free advertising, they supported her enterprise. She is a member of the Legion and her grandfather was a veteran.

Subsequently I received copies of other emails. Freedom to express an opinion was acknowledged but mine was deemed to be negative, disrespectful of the debt owed to veterans and lacking in progressive thinking and positive change.

From my perspective, some things cannot change. History can be enlightened. It cannot be changed.

Remembrance Day commemorates the casualties of war, not the survivors. It calls upon us to contemplate lives cruelly cut short before they had a chance to begin. They died thousands of miles from home and family in circumstances too terrible to imagine. Allied Cemeteries in foreign lands have row upon row of gravestones bearing thousands of names, ranks and numbers. But for many there are no resting places. At War Memorials throughout the world people gather to remember, relive their sorrow and loss and offer a prayer that the carnage and waste may never be repeated.

The Mayor will lay a wreath on the Cenotaph to pay respect on behalf of all the people. Representatives of other levels of government will do the same. In the past, a mother would be chosen to personally represent families of those who never came home.

The awful and continuing reality of their sacrifice should not be used to promote business, politics or any other mundane endeavor. Such change is neither positive nor progressive. It is crass opportunism, materialism in the extreme and degrading to their memory.

Directly “From Falling Hands” I claim the right to say so. Loud and strong.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

A Spiral Tip

When I came back on Council in 2003 I was aghast at the amount of paper I accumulated. I asked CAO Larry Allison; "What am I supposed to do with all this stuff?"

He gave me a weird look and said . "That's what the Blue Box is for".

I have an obsession about the value of things. The fabric, cut and sew of a garment gets more than a passing glance. It's not about being tight-fisted. It's about being satisfied resources are being well spent.

Staff reports mean expertise and man-hours ; an author, a stenographer, a clerk for copying. Machines, paper, ink cartridges , space for machines , maintenance of space for machines. The list is endless. The payroll concomitant.

Then there's the substance of the reports.In this council, a new factor has entered the equation. Staff recommendations are casually tossed aside and replaced by political acumen.

A couple of weeks ago, a report from the Director of Finance outlined a schedule for meetings to process the 2009 budget. No doubt the document required hours of work. Consultation with and direction to departments as to timing for various estimates would be necessary. Budgets need to be justified and vetted prior to submission to council. Until now, the Chief Administrative Officer and the Treasurer worked together on this task. The C.A.O position is currently vacant.

On receipt of the report, council spent ninety-five minutes in a discussion led by Councillor Evalina MacEachern . Three specific evening dates were part of the recommended schedule. Among other changes, they became a single Saturday. A new schedule was written at the council table without apparent regard for the actual work of preparing the budget.

Staff reports are undergoing noticeable change since our former CAO was escorted from the building. A couple of weeks ago council approved direction to departments to hold off making purchases if it looked like they might run a deficit. I have never thought of that as part of a councillor's responsibility. It's why we have a Director of Finance.

A source of funding was recommended for a rescue effort for two hundred ailing street trees.The director advised the reserve created by interest from the Hydro Reserve Fund. Council previously adopted a policy for its use. But no, the Director of Leisure Services was directed to use his operating budget instead. The possibility of creating a deficit didn't seem to matter in this instance.

A recent recommendation to purchase a pick-up truck for the Bylaw Department was set aside. A People car will be acquired instead. Bylaws must now borrow a pick- up truck from works if needed to carry a ladder and tools to remove and transport illegal signs from public property; part of a bylaw officer's function.

A new credential for a Bylaw Officer will need to be established. The appropriate girth to fit into the people car will be essential. A study will likely be needed to determine precise measurements. Legs and neck length, waist and chest circumference will be key. A person's posterior might need to be assessed..

Of course such requirements could not be included in a job description. It would contravene one law or another. Evaluation of a candidate would have to be visual ,surreptitious and whispered about behind closed doors. The Municipal Act allows that.

The exigencies simply boggle the mind.

But nothing like the annual buudget.Last year it was almost twenty-three million dollars. A substantial amount was for staff expertise and supplies Ninety-nine point nine percent of the supplies were always tossed but now a good part of the expertise contained therein goes too.

Monday, 20 October 2008

Paper. Paper and More Paper

I've been ploughing through paper for two days now. If it was all in one room it would be enough to bury me. It came from the town. It represents so much expense. The labour of writing, printing, collating, distributing - I can't help the feeling it should be of value. It shouldn't just be dumped into the blue box.

So I stack it. The pile gets so high it falls over. Then I start a new pile and it falls over as well. Eventually, when sufficient time has elapsed, I sort it. I keep the stuff I might need for reference and dump the rest.

It pains me. I think of nine duplications of everything that comes to my house. How much of our tax dollars are spent on it. How little use it was and frankly I want to shout.

The transcript from the West Hill Golf Course OMB Hearing illustrates my point perfectly. It was ordered by the Mayor's office.

Attendance fee for the court reporter was $300 for the day plus $75 overtime. First copy and board copy expedited of 214 pages cost $1391, delivery fee was $9.26 and G.S.T. @5% was $88.76. Total was $1,864.02

The transcript was duplicated umpteen times with each member of council receiving a copy. I read not a word of it. A transcript is tedious, boring and mind numbing. All I need to know is the result of a hearing. In this instance even that wasn't relevant because by council decree the town joined four residents opposing the golf course in a court challenge to the board's decision.

The cost of the transcript will be small potatoes in the eventual bill for this exercise. Many thousands of dollars, public and private had already been incurred in this matter. If it is not a million dollars by now it's not far off. The figure will be many times multiplied before it's done.

We get copies of site plan agreements regularly. They are the fine print legal documents that cover every detail of a subdivision or commercial development. In the last term Councillor Morris and Gaertner decided they needed to have oversight of these documents. They have been circulated ever since to every member of council. The purpose escapes me.

A few months ago Councillor Gaertner discovered a clause in a thirty year agreement with the South Lake Simcoe Conservation Authority. It covers the town's use of the property for sports fields. It called for restoration to wilderness if the agreement should come to an end.

Councillor Gaertner's concern resulted in meetings between legal staff of the town and the authority in an attempt to have the clause removed. It didn't happen. The agreement was signed. Many hours of expensive staff time gone up in smoke.

We do that kind of stuff all the time. I have to stop writing now. It is so depressing.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

What I Know

Anonymous said:
Evelyn. You really disappoint me. There is definite anti-semetism in the Liberal Party. please use this link to corroborate my earlier assertion. Link If you really want to follow up on my claim Google Bob Rae wife is Jewish. You may be horrified to read that the LiberalParty is guilty of some of the same innuendoes they have made about the Tories!

To my last respondent:

I know Bob Rae's wife is Jewish. From my perspective, being Jewish is an asset, like being Scottish. We are everywhere. We do not hide and we always have lots to say for ourselves. Having Arly as wife and mother of his children has never been a detriment to Bob Rae's successful participation in Canadian politics.

I don't think any Canadian political party can afford even a hint of prejudice against anyone because of race or creed. How could they exist otherwise?

I do not challenge your own veracity. I simply opt for the right not to accept the written statement as fact.

Monday, 13 October 2008

And so on

I have received two more comments. There's a reference to the Liberal Leadership and one to Tim Jones failure to increase taxes when he was Mayor. Imagine being "accused" of not increasing taxes.

There's a basic principle about taxes. When there is new development such as Canadian Tire doubling their space, apartment buildings , new industrial buildings, and restaurants appearing, it all means increased revenue to the town.

When new homes and families arrive there are increased costs for services. New homes funnel in additional revenues to town coffers.

When small houses are demolished to make room for homes three times as big, three times the assessment is derived from an existing lot and three times the taxes.

When new wealth pours in and taxes still rise, people should wonder where all the new money went?

I can give you a hint; The town's award for heritage preservation, cost more than three million dollars to win . There would likely not be many municipalities in Ontario in the competition.

In the matter of the Liberal leadership race and reference to the religion of Bob Rae's wife. I never heard such a thing. I don't believe it.Not in the Liberal Party.

I did observe Gerard Kennedy's influence. I believe he brought the youth vote to Stephan Dione. If Liberals do not do well in this election, Gerard Kennedy and the youth vote will be the reason.

If the unlikeable Stephen Harper gets elected, throw-away votes to the N.D.P. and the Green Party will be the reason .

We are within days of Remembrance Day when people stand in front of the Cenotaph and think of young lives lost in service to their country. We will dwell on the reason.

Now despite their sacrifice, another generation of young Canadians are in a terrible place, thousands of miles from home, where no war has been declared and the Geneva Convention means nothing. They are being waylaid, ambushed and murdered for reasons which are by no means clear and even less justified.

To-morrow, votes will be cast with the best of intentions. We will all live with the results. I anticipate we will have spent another thirty-nine million dollars on an election which will change little.

Five political parties in the race, each espousing easy answers for vexing questions, is a recipe for nothingness. Our system only works properly with two political parties.

Until voters come to terms with that reality, we will keep spending millions on elections with entirely nebulous results.

That's my opinion. Thank you to all who participated.

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Continuing the Dialogue

To my Anonymous correspondent - thank you for continuing the dialogue. I've reprinted you last comment here, and my response is below.

Anonymous said:

I'm sure we can agree to disagree 'til the cows come home on the merits of a Conservative vs. Liberal government. After all, that's what democracy is all about.

I must however, take issue with a couple of points. First of all, it was Martin's Liberal government that committed Canadian troops to the NATO Afghan mission. The Liberals also voted with the Harper government to extend the mission to 2011. The cost of 18B released in the Page report refers to the estimates for the period of 2002 to 2011 when our troops will be withdrawn. Apparently Jack Layton feels the Harper government has tried to fudge the numbers but that's hardly proof of a conspiracy and is more likely a case of how you read the numbers. Of course we grieve for our fallen, as do I'm sure, the citizens of 21 other coalition nations that have lost troops. The hope is that the Afghan people will be able to stand on their own but time will tell and critics should remember that the "war cost" includes estimates for reconstruction as well.

Harper did stand in favour of our involvement in Iraq which in hindsight has proven to have been unwise. On the other hand, Chr├ętien’s reasons for refusing to send troops to Iraq are open to debate and may very well have been based on political expediency as much as wisdom and forethought. Incidentally, the Americans have lost just over 4000 troops killed in action, not a half million. Iraqi casualty estimates, while much higher, are a subject of vigorous debate.

I certainly do wish Tim well but we are casting votes that will determine the next federal government where party politics always trumps individual MPs. We've seen what the Liberals had to offer for many years and Dion hasn't convinced me it won't be more of the same.

Harper is certainly not without faults (although I'm not so sure aversion to the media is one of them) but overall I like his style and the fact that so far he hasn't tried to bribe me with my own money.

So I guess we'll agree to disagree.

And my response:

I am prepared to concede the accuracy of most of your points. Yes the Liberals sent our children into Afghanistan. I saw that as the Martin compromise for not falling into lockstep with the Americans in Iraq.

Yes, they all voted to extend the mission. Now they are saying they wouldn't have if they had been aware of the cost. As if dollars are more important than lives.

I do not argue that every decision made in Ottawa is apolitical. How silly would that be?. But Canada is not an easy country to govern. Politics is never simple. Strong leaders are sparse on the landscape. I have often thought the best Canadians can hope for is a government that will do no serious harm.

Stephane Dion does not inspire me. I have not been inspired since Pierre Elliott Trudeau was our country's leader. I recognize he was focused on one issue. His main effort was to bring Canada's constitution home. Only history will record the significance of that great accomplishment.

Stephen Harper's election promises are not likely to be less political than the others. Why should you believe they are not designed to meet with your approval? How else could they win your support?

The only real influence we can have on the quality of government we receive is by the selection we make in our riding. No matter the party affiliation, if we have the option of sending someone we know, who has an established reputation for integrity and commitment to the well-being of our community and who shares our basic values, we can make no better contribution than to send that person to represent us in our Nation's Parliament.

If we had two candidates with that background, the choice would be difficult. We do not.

Tim Jones is our man.

Friday, 10 October 2008

In Response to Another Comment

Anonymous said...

We should vote for Tim because we know him and he's a good guy?WTF?I also happen to think Tim is a good guy but we're trying to elect a Federal government here - not a grand marshall for the Sanata Claus parade.

Either you go for Harper's "steady as she goes" approach with lower taxes and modest spending or you drink the Liberal kool-aid - "handouts for everyone" paid for by a huge tax hit disguised as a climate plan.

The same guys that promised to scrap the GST but instead gave us the 1 billion dollar gun registry, the 1 billion dollar Jane Stewart scandal, the sponsorship scandal, the $500 million helicopter cancellation, the Kyoto agreement they signed and then ignored for 12 years, the 5 billion Kelowna Accord (native handout) they signed and ignored. We should bring that kind of government back because Tim's a good guy? NOT! (sorry Tim but there's no way Dion's getting my vote.)

And to that I offer the following:

Thank you for your comment. It gives me an opportunity to further explore and articulate my own thinking.

For me, the most important function of a Member of Parliament is caring for the needs of the riding as they relate to federal affairs. Community and individual needs are a large component of that responsibility. Easy communication with the person we elect is key.

Over many years ,Tim Jones has established a record of community involvement. He knows his way around government. He has forged a reputation as caring, hard-working and honest. From my perspective, these are first essentials of a candidate for public office. The country would benefit enormously if all parties were represented by people of similar background.

It is naive to suggest one political party has a monopoly on incompetence and crass opportunism.

The federal issue I care most about is Canada's role in foreign wars and the senseless waste of human lives.I disagree that young Canadians should be placed in harm's way to accomplish a questionable objective. I am not persuaded our politicians know better than the people of Afghanistan what is best for them in their own country.

Our current Prime Minister is on record as being in support of American President George Bush in the invasion of Iraq. The U.S. has lost half a million young Americans in a war for which there is no end in sight and is known to have been based on deliberate misinformation. How many sons and daughters of Canadians would have been added to that figure had Stephen Harper been Prime Minister?

For me, nothing takes priority over this issue. But there is also the matter of how Stephen Harper feels about us. I don't think he likes us. He clearly hates the attention of the media. I don't think he trusts the members of his own party. I believe he wants all power in his hands. We know very little about the man but what we do is not reassuring. I do not believe we can trust him.

What about the revelations Afghanistan involvement has cost billions more than previously stated ? And the figures were deliberately misrepresented to indicate a fraction of actual cost.?

What about the clear manifestations of public sorrow when caskets are brought home from that distant place? Does that count for nothing?

The government's platform indicates they plan to spend more money on prisons and wars and less on arts and culture which would allow young Canadians to develop their skills to make a meaningful contribution to the society which is theirs to create.How's that for positive vision?

You are not wrong about villainy in high places.. But if people had the opportunity to judge, as you do with Tim Jones ,it is the only way to ensure integrity within government. He is a decent, honest caring, competent, hard-working Canadian and you know that for sure.

But besides that, when Jean Chretien indicated in the Federal House, “we will not send young Canadians to die in Iraq” , he was cheered by his members. On that day, they secured my vote for as long as I have it to give.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

The Home Grown Variety

Yes I have noticed there's an election at home. How could I not? It's the third in five years. Down here, we have had four years imposed on us. Up there, a thirty-nine million dollar expenditure can be made whenever "the boss" thinks they might get better numbers.

Actually with six political "parties" competing, the numbers don't matter a whit. They give no clear indication of a Canadian political perspective.

In this riding, we have Dorian Baxter, Elvis Presley look-alike campaigning as the REAL Progressive Conservative candidate.

The Bloq Quebecois is committed to breaking up the Federation but they campaign in a Federal election. Talk about the enemy within.

The New Democratic Party is the political arm of organized labour. Unions provide the funding and they call the tune. They convene once a year, pass apolitical resolutions. Their leaders are bound by them but it doesn't matter much because the UAW president will shove them out of the way when the Liberals bow to their pressure.

Since Tommy Douglas and union funding, every NDP Leader has been pushed aside by the reigning president of UAW. Jack Layton will be no exception. Unions don't want to form a government. Sid Ryan, President of C.U.P.E. proved that when he drummed Bob Rae out of office for daring to engage in a creative solution for a serious problem.

The Green Party. What!

The Harper Party. This is the individual who said we should join our friends when the Americans invaded Iraq on bogus claims of weapons of mass destruction. More than 4,500 young American men and women have died since then and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. Men, women, children and old people have died at the hands of Americans. We could have been there with them. We may still if we give that man the power he so obviously craves.

The Liberals. Well, they're not great. They could be if the people who share Tommy Douglas principles and Green Party ideals were to join and give the Liberal party the energy and commitment needed for a successful political party. Liberals need an injection of adrenalin.

We have had three elections in five years. The first, despite millions spent on a nationwide leadership contest and a lacklustre campaign by Liberals, barely scored a Conservative win. The second went Liberal despite a ferocious battle against the candidate.

I believe our new-old riding of Aurora-Newmarket is a safe Liberal seat. Tim Jones has a substantial background in public service. We know him. He knows us. I believe he will serve us well.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Degrees of Risk

I watch American politics. I can't help it. But it does put things at home into persepective..

In the last election I couldn't believe what Republicans did to John Kerry over the swift boat affair. War provides circumstances every day for men and women to draw down on strength they never knew they had. Bravery and selfless acts are common.

John McCain's story however has some glaring contradictions.

I had heard about his trials and tribulations as a prisoner-of-war. The media noted he had never really talked about it before this campaign. Well, I thought, maybe that's why his story endured.

He told about being shot down into a lake and thrown into a cell to die. When I'm listening, I need to imagine the scene. This picture did not jell.

Somebody had to fish the man out of the lake before they could throw him into a jail cell to die.

Why would they do that? Why would they save his life just to let him die?

There was a picture of a young McCain lying on a hospital bed in a body cast. He was surrounded by white coats. They looked like doctors. The cast was obviously not an instrument of torture. Why would they make the effort to heal his broken body, to torture him later when he was well?

Propaganda has a place during a war. But this was thirty years after.

The biggest puzzle is how obvious discrepancies in the story are never challenged. John McCain has had a successful career in politics based on his heroism, sacrifice and love of country. Even former President Bill Clinton stated "no man could give more for his country".

But what if he didn't? What if the story is a dramatized fabrication for the purpose of political exploitation? If parts of it make no sense, why should any of it be true?

What does that make of the sacrifice of thousands killed in the cruel and inhumane circumstance of war?

The ones who never came home to receive the plaudits of a grateful nation. Who have no known graves. Whose bodies were blown apart in pieces too small to gather or pitched into an ocean of flaming oil.

What about all those without a resting place? Whose families were haunted forever after by the horror of their deaths.

Of all human enterprise war is most fraught with drama and risk and incredible stupidity and waste. Wars are not won. They are lost by the side that makes the most blunders and runs out of men and ammunition first.

In politics, being rigorously honest is chancy. Reality can be tedious , irritating. and terrifying People are not always inclined to deal with it.

In war,there is plenty of talk about courage and bravery and glory.It obscures the blunders and the carnage.But claiming heroism and sacrifice where there was none and where so much was lost by so many, bespeaks a lack of character, intelligence and integrity. I think if John McCain did make a sacrifice he has been more than compensated .

If he did not, he is seeking a reward he is not entitled to receive on the backs of those whose sacrifice can never ever be compensated.