"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

Tuesday 31 December 2013

The Thread is Winding

George Smitherman   made a public announcement of his marriage  and introduced his "husband" to  thunderous applause ,at a gathering to celebrate his political career.

He publicly announced the adoption of his first child and was photographed  by the media with the infant in his arms.

During  his campaign for Mayor, he confided to reporters that he  almost missed a candidates meeting because he could not find a baby-sitter.

I'd say he intended his role as mother to be  made clear.

I don't think a  woman candidate , with an infant , would  be making the point during a campaign of competing demands between motherhood and political office.

One must conclude therefore Mr. Smitherman was  using marriage and  family for political purpose.

The question has been posed ; Who is the arbiter of decency?

Perhaps the better  question would be ; what is decent?

Are we not each entitled to formulate  a personal standard ?

Did  Mr,  Smitherman coming from a position  of power , get to create the image he thought would appeal to the greatest number ?

It didn't.

Are we entitled to ponder whether, in the circumstances, the  adopted children   were of no more significance than the image he clearly intended ?

It's a harsh  question but some  might  believe  creating an image for the purpose is  simply sensible
reasonable, therefore decent,  in the circumstance.

Who  decides what's decent?

Is decent a question of morality?

Has morality  become another archaic concept ?  A joke for the late night comedians?

Like  personal judgement?

Or professional integrity?

If it isn't written in the office manual , does  it count?

Like a Code of Conduct ?

Who  gets to write the manual or the Code ?

If  had a desperate  need to  fulfill my life by nurturing a child . a  completely natural inclination, and found myself repeatedly denied  for no  identifiable reason , I would  surely want to know the answer.

A Conversation Likely to Go Nowhere

I  have young   friends who crave a child im their livces more than  life itself .

Through no fault of theirs, they have not been blessed .

In every way they are suitable  parents . a loving home.  loving childhood  background . means to provide ...financially...socially...culturally

For ten years they have experienced the adoption  process with  Children's  Aid. 

Time and again , the choice  came down to themselves and one other couple. 

Time and again they met the children , twins on one occasion, and ached to hold them in a loving embrace. 

Just as often , in the final hour they were informed  it was not to be. Someone else was more suitable. 

It's a cold ,brutal, inhuman process.  Only the compelling need to be parents explainss why anyone would willingly  subject themselves  to  such excruciating emotional turmoil .

George Smitherman , retired Liberal Cabinet Minister, introduced his "husband" at a Liberal fundraiser shortly before he declared as candidate for the office of Mayor of Toronto. 

Early  in the campaign , he told reporters he almost didn't make it to a campaign meeting. He had difficulty finding a baby-sitter for his newly adopted  infant. It's not  been much more than three years since and he has a second  adopted child. 

The public was recently made aware Mr. Smitherman's "husband" has been suffering from severe depression and  this week  expired in sad but unpublicxised circumstances. 

Obviously, there are gaps in the story. Yet it's perfectly clear. It's  about more than Mr. Smitherman's 
sexual orientation.

So why is a comment from someone  whose  own life may be filled with sadness be relegated to the  status of homophobia ? 

If  homosexuality is as normal as heterosexuality , why   must  all  conversation  be focussed on sexual  prediliction?

In these  days, when marriage is a choice  and "partner " or "significant other " descxribes a relationship, why do homosexuals insist on using hetorosexual terms to describe the relationship. ?

Why do they feel they must? Why use the word "husband" but not the word "wife"?

When  Glen Murray resigned from the office of Mayor of Winnipeg , was it  mere coincidence he came to Ontario to pick up a  Liberal nomination, get elected and become Ontario's Minister of Transportation ?

Was it because he is gay?  

Is it O.K. to be prejudicial in favour of  homosexual?  But not against?

Is a homosexual family unit preferable to a heterosexual faamily unit   for adopted children ?

Who makes  the decision?  A fieldworker of unknown sexual  or political persuasion?

Did Glen Murray have a rainbow arching on his Liberal elections signs? 

Monday 30 December 2013

Christmas 2013.....A Ramble

It will not soon be forgotten.  It was a week without communication.  No phone. No internet. The car stuck  in ice like  the  Arctic Ocean.

We had no heat or light for a couple of days. But we had hot  water and we could cook .We had natural gas.  If the power had stayed off any longer, next step was to put  food  that needed refrigeration outside.

Stephanie had a thousand piece jigsaw puzzle. All the characters of Disney land.   Put  together by candle-light.

I  don't  like  thousand piece puzzles. . It's not just that there are so many pieces unidentifiable .  It's the decision to break it up after spending hours putting it to-gether that's hard.

We had to re-schedule the family Christmas gathering. That was the day of the ice storm. We  gathered yesterday.

On Christmas Day, I went to Barrie , to Martin and Marnie's house. It has  become a tradition.

They had no power  disruptions.   Barrie always gets everything.

The countryside looked like another planet. Landmarks  were undistinguishable.

Nobody on the media was talking about global warming.

My street is a scene of devastation.  Never happened  before.

Grandson Cameron lives in a condo on the sixteenth floor  of a building in Toronto. Elevator operated by generator.  No  water.

Places  in Toronto  are still without power.

Toronto's Mayor was on T.V. providing bulletins.

Deputy-Mayor  was  there too.  He had been  in Florida.

The media reported  criticism of Deputy. Then said he didn't need to apologize for visiting his elderly sister who was ill.

But  they told  he was in Florida in the first place.  In the second  place, nothing  was known about his sister. It  never was their business.

Deputy-Mayor said it didn't matter he was in Florida because he was in touch with the city at all times.  Neither did that make  a difference

 The Mayor was  apparently on the job at all times.

Both were at the press conference.

What a farce !!!''

They say 20% of  Toronto's urban forest has been lost. to the ice storm. Including trees injected  to save them from the pesky little beetle from Korea.

How many millions have  been  spent to  protect trees from a natural predator?

How  loud  will be the lament about cost to replace trees destroyed by  natural devastation?\

Oops !!  same thing !!! Right!

Just turned  on T.V. for an update on Toronto's situation.

Watched an interview with Toronto's Police Chief.

Asked about his "disappointed"  reference to Toronto's Mayor...theoretically....from a public perspective.... his  boss..... he denied  political implications.

He said  it was an honest answer to a question.  He accepted  no responsibility for public reaction to his comment that he was disappointed.

Three thoughts occur:

First;   is  expectation of judgement from  a police  chief an archaic concept?

Second; does professional integrity have no place in modern  society? Is it just another relic of times past?

Third; Does Toronto Police Department  function under the authority of a  Police Governing  Board?If so , where are  they?

Sunday 22 December 2013

Random Memories

To-day was to be the family Christmas Gathering. It had to be  re-scheduled . Obviously because of the weather.

We 've  heard from  all  except the Kitchener satellite. Power is out over there but Mary has a cell phone like a mini computer  that works on a battery.

Christmas always makes me think back. Right now,  I"m thinking of my father on his weekly visit to his parents. I was small enough to ride on his shoulders, my two sisters and brother walked alongside.

It must have been six miles there and back up th brae and across the moor. The last part was up the Course Hill  in Kilwinning. My mother never came.  Nothing  needs to be made of that. The tradition was and still is that each sibling had a  particular day to visit parents.

 New Year was everybody's night; except for children.

At my maternal grandmother's house . Saturday was Aunt Jean's  day and Monday was Aunr Mary's. The first part of Aunt Meg's married life was taken up by the war .She lived at  Grannie's  for the duration with  my infant cousin Anne.

My paternal  grandparent's house was full as well. Aunts  Maggie  and Kate  and  my father were married. The rest were still at home.

They were Mary, Michael, Bill, Pat, Tom. and David, also called Sonny because he was the youngest.

Michael was an apprentice baker. On one visit. he baked us a fruit cake.  It's not a Christmas cake . That's  a Black Bun. The fruit cake he baked had a mixture of   moist spicey dried and candied fruit between two layers of pastry sprinkled with sugar on op. It could be puff pastry or short. Short is easier to make.

Mary played piano and a harp. and entertained us.

Mary was expelled  by the nuns from St. Michael's College for playing piano  to silent movies in Green's picture house . Clearly the place was a den of iniquity.

Ten years later , Mary died in childbirth with her first child.   Her parents didn't even know she was in labour.

There  were  no telephones .  A relative came to tell  Mary had died and the baby too. I was seven then.

Homes were lit by gas mantle  and cooking done  on a coal range. The last time I hung a stocking, it was from the cord that stretched  across the smoke  board.  That was part of the range that slid up  or down ,depending  on the direction of the wind  outside  that made smoke blow down the chimney into the room.

The last doll I had  poked out from the sock top. It was a small sock .It must have been a small doll. It was a sixpenny  Woolworth doll. I washed her clothes and pot them back  on the doll wet. Her body , being made of paper composition , collapsed.

She wasn't the only doll I ever had . Just  the only one I remember.

My father got a bicycle when they came on the market. Sunday visits to his parents were no longer a day long expedition. They were in the evening. I remember the lamp  being primed with a material I think was asbestos. It was a miner's  lamp. There were no batteries then.

My last memory of  those times was begging him to take me along with him to Grannie's house.

I was seven when my mother took us to live at my  maternal grandparent's home.  It wasn't large  but they had big hearts.

My Finnigan grandparents became strangers after that .

Life changed in other ways as well

About Twitter and Such

I deleted  the last  post. 

It hasn't been easy maintaining silence  over the past four  years. 

When the trial started ,I thought  it was the beginning of the end.

After four weeks , once again it came to an abrupt halt although not a conclusion. 

I won't pretend it hasn't been stressful. No- one should imagine I am without opinion. 

But i history will take its course and it will come to a conclusion , Then  we will be free to talk aboit this chapter . 

In the meantime , Im happy to receive your comments and if I  don't publish them I hope you understand. 

That doesn't apply  of course to the snarks  who lurk abaout in the shadows..

The last four weeks  I've been  more or less   pre-occupied . 

I had a bout of bronchitis  for a week . Thank Goodness for antibiotics.  I missed a couple of Council meetings  but was back at it  on Tuesday and Wednesday  and very glad to be there.

Margaret Atwood  is talking to Peter Mansbridge  about Twitter. I must listen to this. 

Council  and thetown's business has helped keep me focussed over all this long time I daresay I can maintain the discipline for the weeks remaining. 

Friday 20 December 2013

Something went awry

I wrote a post. I gave it a title. I clicked on edit to make some necessary changes.apparently so necessary  the whole thing deleted  and I had to start again.

Sorry about that.

Wednesday 18 December 2013

An Unlikely Story

I've always  known I would tell this story. I never knew when. It's not really mine to tell.

So it has to be slightly obscure.

A youth with a friend , partied in Newmarket. At the end of the evening, they called a taxi for the ride home to Aurora. Neither had cars, so it wasn't a matter of choice or judgement.

Waiting for the taxi, they were joined by three other youths who asked if they could share the cab home.

On arrival at destination, the three jumped out  and  ran without paying their share.

The friend ,seeing what happened, thought he ought to take off as well.

The fifth ,drunk as a skunk ,groping in tight  jeans pocket for what he knew was enough to pay his share, was left  swaying on his feet.

The fare was $11. He had $7. He decided  he'd better run.

He fell.  Got  kicked in the side of the head, in his ear.  steel toed boots, by cab driver  and dragged back to the cab where call placed to York Region Police.

Police  arrived. He was shoved into the back of the police car.

Youth charged with  intent to commit fraud.

Fraud is an indictable offence , meaning it carries  the penalty of  a jail sentence and a record.

Parent ,finally informed ,seeks  legal counsel.

Lawyer's office , painted dark green. Hunting prints on  wall.  Lawyer in tweeds ,pince nez,short beard neatly trimmed and  desk lamp with green shade on impressive leather -topped desk.

Queen's counsel.

Lengthy conference. Strategy outlined . Separate the friends.  Seek a  different judge's court. Knows the judge. Plead leniency for first offence. One and a  half hours into conference,  no fee cited. But preparation  continues.

Finally .....fee cited.

High. Even  without  knowing how time passes in a court room. Fee exorbitant. Added to the certain  knowledge  that whatever the offense to be defended .....it was not fraud......Intent to commit  requires  competence.

Being drunk eliminates the possibility.

Another lawyer consulted.  Answer sought to question. Police officer responsible for  the charge. Crown attorney responsible for prosecution.

At what point does  C.A. examine evidence and determine charge  can be successfully prosecuted.?

Lawyer swings  chair around to face wall lined with law books as though seeking the answer,

"Good question" he responds .   but does not answer.

Fee is  a third of Queen's counsel.

First day in court, nothing  accomplished Previous case went  overtime. Judge decided too late to start
new case. Wags finger sternly at miscreant youth and warns him to be in court promptly  at the precise time ,on the  following day...like failure to proceed on appointed day is youth's fault.

A day's  pay  and lawyer's fee  out of pocket and  little assurance  the  process will not be repeated.

Time spent watching  court proceedings  revealed another  being represented by  agent.

Parent decides to  act as agent.  Youth informs  C.A. In turn C.A. informs Judge of wish to  dismiss
legal counsel and be represented by agent.  Stern Judge indicates  youth should make the request himself.

Agent visits CA 's office; request to see charge.


Visits police station, requests to see  charge..


Visit with Police Chief. Assured  of unlikelihood of  jail time due to first offence.

To cut a  very long story shorter,  parent defends youth  against charge of fraud.

Cites  definition of the crime of fraud straight from law books in the  library on the top floor of the almost new court house.

Stern lecture yo youth from judge about bad behaviour being a problem for society , but not fraud. Charge dismissed.

Parent leaves court house not proud of youth.

But  also less than impressed  by  behaviour of  individuals consulted   with objective of obtaining  a correct ruling on a wrongful charge.

Sequel!  information  provided not previously confided.

In the police car , with his ear bleeding, youth informed  officer of intent  to file assault charge against taxi driver.

Officer  advised he could not do that.

Youth informed officer,  parent would not be pleased  about that.

Further inquiry resulted in car  parked and further beating .

Between night and morning , the charge was changed from  minor  to  an indictable offence  with possibility of jail time or at very least a record.

With a friend ,he hired a cab. He had his share of the fare. He was most inebriated.

Guilty of nothing but  severely impaired judgement.

Certainly, in accordance with evidence, not capable of a plan to commit fraud.

Moral of the story. If your kid gets in trouble. Remember...Remember....  possibility is more real than apparent

Listen to what he tells you.

No matter how incredible it  may seem.

Sunday 15 December 2013

Tidings of Comfort and Joy

I had a  Christmas card from my friend in Scotland on Friday. We've been friends since we were five years  old ,when we  started school.

Grade Two  was our  happiest, most carefree year. Miss Kelly was our teacher.

She was young and pretty with masses of black curly hair.

Annie Wolohan and  I sat together  at a double desk. We got to squeeze out  sponges in the jam jars on the window sill and go round the class wiping slates clean . We got other neat little chores to do as well. When new slate pencils had to be distributed , we slid the lid  off  the box and  caught the scent of fresh  cedar shavings that kept the  pencils whole and  still remind me of those happy days.

We lived close by each other. Our family environments were substantially different  but we practically shared each other's lives. We both had sisters but we were closer to one another than we were to our sisters.

Life separated us early but we always knew we were still best friends.

Bobby Gibson is  Anne's husband . She  loved him since she was thirteen. There was a point when they separated. He went into the navy. Ann was a bus conductor for years. I went to London after the war.

Ann got engaged to someone else. I never knew him.

Bobby's ship was shelled on the Yangtse River . The crew who survived had to swim ashore and went missing for a  bit.

Ann knew then she could not spend her life with anyone else.

They've been married now more than sixty years.  Like everyone else , they had their troubles.

They were in Canada for a while.  In Vancouver. Bobby liked it. Ann persuaded  him to come to live in Toronto. They stayed with us for a bit. Then  she  went back in Scotland  and Bobby followed .

They've  been there ever since.

I was in Scotland in the early nineties for several months taking care of my mother. One day after I'd
 been hanging out laundry, in the sunshine , with a stiff sea breeze blowing. Ann came and knocked on my mother's  door.

"I thought it was you " she said. She had been looking out her kitchen window and  couldn't believe her  eyes.

We were s close as ever again for a few months. We have exchanged  Christmas cards faithfully and  news of our families ever since.

I received her card on Friday without much news and just hoping we are all well.

She knew I was still involved in the town's political affairs.  She didn't know I was suing .

It's too late now to send a  Christmas card.  They  had  to give up the phone  a few years ago.

So I won't  be  able to say where it's at now or that everything's fine at my end.

Which is as good a way as any I suppose, of wishing her a Merry Christmas, Happy New Year
and Tidings of Comfort and Joy.

Friday 13 December 2013

Sweden has it right ...I think

I thought  it would be done by now. It isn't. And will not be until "early in the New Year"

It's best I don't print comments on the trial until it's over. Much  as I appreciate the support therein.

But there are things we can talk about . We've spent a lot of time waiting . Considering the surroundings , some  trains of thought are inevitable.

Over the years, I've found myself in a court room on a number of occasions. Some I'd forgotten.

One occasion was in a court room in Leksand, Sweden.  I went on a charter with StAndrew's College band. They were invited by high schools in Sweden. The charter was  a few  heads short of the number required/. The late Norm Stewart was a Councillor and at the same time the dietuician at St. Andrew's.

Former and late Richard Illingworth,his partner; the late  Col. Fred Tilston, the late Colleen Gowan , town clerk and  a  personal friend and myself ; the late Councillor Norm Stewart  all went along  to make up the numbers.

It was a highly informative trip.

We had a day in court.

A Saturday.

The  Judge explained the  Swedish judicial system .

When a person graduates  from studies in law, the judiciary is  a field  among others to choose from.

He/she works in the court. Eventually minor cases  are assigned to the fledgeling Judge.

A panel of senior Judges monitor decisions.

A Judge sits on the bench  with an equal number of citizens on either side.  Decisions are made
collectively.  Judge advising  citizens on  points of law.

More  serious cases are assigned as judgement  and competence matures.

I do not offer this as a full account of the Swedish judicial system.

My impression is, the  system is a reflection of  sober, serious, conscientious attitudes and respect for law and order  of the community at large.

 I came away with huge respect for Swedish society.

Wednesday 11 December 2013

I've Missed You Too

My day in court has turned into a marathon. It's not over yet.

Nothing is happening


I am physically free.

I have missed being here with you.

I'm not sure I will ever be able to fill in the gaps of what has happened. I cannot provide  any details yet.

I am not the person  I was before. Time  and experience have changed me. Not by much and not  so's you'd notice but change there is.

I had to re- read hundreds of my blog  posts.

I never  re-read.

When I've  done with a post  I put it behind me and move on to the next.

A  minimum of  editing is done.  

Spelling needs  correction because keyboard skills  are  negligible .

But some errors always remain.

They are exasperating.

Welllllll.....   It's not a  professional staff report. it's not a legal deposition. I'm not competing for the Giller  Book Prize.

I'm just gossiping  and sharing  stuff  I think you have a right to know and I have a right to  tell you.

Going to court is not the stuff of  tout le monde

And yet....of a weekday morning....the place teams with people with business before the courts.

None of it joyful.

Decisions are made affecting  people's lives .

Yesterday we saw a young  man in his early twenties, wrists and ankles manacled and a policeman on either side of him.

Decisions are  made in  sound-proofed courtrooms.

We hope they are fair. We hope they are just.

We  are not certain.

I heard  recently the  Government of Sweden  is contemplating closing down the prisons.

There are not enough prisoners in Sweden to keep them open.

They must be doing something right.