"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, 17 October 2019

LITTLE DID YOU KNOW

A poll in one of the town’s weekly publication poses a patently foolish question about municipal autonomy and gun control. It arises from a news item about a discussion between the Prime Minister of Canada and the Mayor of Aurora. They may not be of the same age but they are both products of the modern education system. Civics must have been another subject teachers decided need not be taught.

Neither appears to be aware that a municipality is low man on the totem pole. Canada’s Constitution does not give them the right to exist. The Province grants their authority. Premier Ford could decide tomorrow to consign our municipality into history.There is no practical reason why he shouldn’t .In 1971 when the region was planned ,Newmarket and Aurora were planned as a single urban node. We were successful in arguing services provided locally and separately at minimal or no cost was reason enough to hold off on amalgamation.

Aurora has enjoyed autonomy for an additional  fifty years. The cost of two separate administrations
no longer  makes economic sense nor has it since George Timpson  was elected Mayor, a
full-time firefighter brigade was established and then amalgamated with Newmarket to form a more powerful bargaining unit. The service is classified essential. Because the right to strike is not
available ,agreements must be settled by arbitration and it was off to the races, no holds barred,
and  financial control became a mythical reality.

When I was first elected , Tridel Corporation was just the Del Zotto brothers.  They had a former
North York bylaw officer to represent them in an application to develop.They developed the rental apartment complex at the corner of Wellington Street and Murray Drive. He told about a study North York commissioned which determined the average time spent fighting fires was 18 minutes in a year.

Firehalls were beacons of brightness and colour with gardens outside and competitions for best and part of the neighbourhood. Fire Pumpers were bright and  shiny and spotlessly clean and usually prominently displayed. Firefighters maintained the firehall when they weren’t fighting fires. Then the Professional Firefighters Association successfully argued they were firefighters, not janitors,so  they didn’t do it anymore when they weren’t fighting fires.

Nowadays, sleeping and recreation facilities are provided at firehalls...kitchens,where they can test recipes to while away the hours when they’re not fighting fires and take beefcake photos for fund-raising calendars I made myself very unpopular with firefighters wives when I drew attention to the
Coke machine that sold beer in the new firehall.  At the time, I didn’t even know that anybody who knew, could drop in and chug-a-lug when they felt the need.

I have heard of a Toronto firefighter who lives in Vancouver . His wife was an airline stewardess so he flew  home at no cost, between shifts. I’m not sure how that fits in with being an emergency
service and being on call for whatever emergency might arise. I’m not even sure the story is true.
Repeating it is just one of the little perks of no longer being in elected office .

As often happens, this post took  off in it’s own direction. My intention was to illustrate the impact of  firefighter’s compensation on settlements for other public services. But that’s a longer story than
one might imagine...as old as the history of  Ontario.

Friday, 11 October 2019

DISCRETION...THE BETTER PART OF VALOUR

The late Jack Layton had a highly successful career in Toronto politics before he became Leader of New Democrats. He didn’t keep his party allegiance a secret. The machinery was probably, in good part, responsible for his success. It wasn't until the Federal campaign we learned he was from Quebec. Grew up there, spoke fluent French and shared the culture...all attributes which no doubt contributed to success in winning seats in La Belle Province.

Then he died.

His courage in continuing the campaign, though he knew he was dying, may also have been a factor. His political colleagues certainly showed their respect at his funeral. Only another politician would understand the depth of his commitment.

Quebec underpinnings were not known in his municipal career. Toronto was and still is, in many respects, an Orange Protestant town. It would be a waste of time for example, to apply to Toronto Police Force without “The Ring” (masonic).

Mr Layton wouldn’t lie about his background. There would be no need. It would simply not be mentioned.

I read Jagmeet Singh refers to Quebec's new law prohibiting religious symbols from being worn by some public servants in the work place as divisive and inciting hatred.

Stuff and nonsense.

Muslim women are not compelled to wear a symbol of their religion. Many choose otherwise. It Simplifies their lives in the new country they’ve chosen. As Jack Layton chose not to broadcast in Protestant Toronto that he was from Quebec.

When I started this post, three days ago, the theme running through my head was loosely connected to legal action I undertook against a former Mayor of Aurora and five Councillors for libelling me in an ad paid for with town resources.

I was not successful. I’m not in the habit of giving up a fight. But I had already incurred substantial debt for legal fees and settlement required further debt.To continue the fight would have meant my home would have had to be sold. I no longer had any confidence in the integrity of the legal system, nor the resources to continue. The defendants, on the other hand, had their costs paid by the Town’s  insurance company.   None of the normal restraints applied.

My family’s advice “Put it behind you mother. Get on with your life”

So I did.

But to keep it behind me, I must keep it buried for a while yet. The Judge’s name, his dismissal of my jury, time taken to deliver and gross lack of reasoning in his decision has not diminished my anger. For my own peace of mind, I need to let it lie for a while yet.

Sunday, 6 October 2019

TRYING TO MAKE SENSE OF IT

I caught a glimpse of the Prime Minister expressing regrets once more for injustice inflicted on past generations of original inhabitants of North America by past governments . The Human Rights Division has ruled the government must pay $52 billion in compensation. The government has appealed the decision but spokespersons explain, apologetically, process leaves them no option.

$52 billion...hmm...that’s not pocket change...makes me think of a couple of other groups who could be eligible.A community in Nova Scotia has  ancestors, brought here as slaves.Who  knows how many children were shipped from the UK . TO solve their poverty problem they transported  them to Canada and let anyone who wanted  take them as unpaid labour... no follow up to ensure  their wellbeing. Many farmers of the day placed a higher value on animals than they did children.

Parents  sold their children into indentured service to pay off debt. They might be able to make similar claims and get a judgement for another $52billion.

Merrily ...merrily...blithely as they go....the dollars.

What about the M├ętis people...John A MacDonald’s statue has been removed.He was responsible for hanging Louis Riel. Has anybody thought about demanding compensation for that injustice.Would he have to be tried again, posthumously, before they could calculate how much wrongful death might
be worth in dollars.

In an FB commentI , I professed ignorance  of Indigenous affairs. I sought  answers to various questions. As yet, no-one has chosen to enlighten me. It  could mean two things. They don’t know
the answers  or they don’t want to tell me.

I am left with an  impression . Indigenous people choose to live on Reserves. Certain
advantage accrues.They pay no taxes..elect a Chief ...manage their own affairs...
and receive annual payments to fund the cost from the Federal government under Treaty Agreements Children often  have to be placed in foster care because parents are not  caring for them .It’s
not a good option but it’s the best we have.

On reservations ,sewage contaminates drinking water . There’s something about mercury but I’m not sure where it’s coming from.Housing is inadequate. Schools are poor. Children  are addicted to drugs and alcohol before they are ten years old. And little girls engaged in prostitution in Winnipeg disappear regularly without apparent concern.

There’s no reason to expect  $52 billion in compensation for injustice to children of past generations will likely be spent more wisely than the rest. Why would it be different now?

It’s my impression from what I’ve read over the years. I stand to be corrected.

For generations migrants have been leaving homes, families and everything familiar to travel thousands of miles for better opportunities for their children.Some return. Transition being too hard. Most endure. Not all are successful but the children are better off.

Why should little Indian children expect less from their parents?

LIFE FOR SOME IS A SHORT TOUGH TREK

I watched a movie , The Lincoln Lawyer, on Netflicks last night. There wasn’t much depth to it.But it made me realize something. From having a great interest in the law from every angle ,I have
become cynical.I thought of the justice system as one step beyond politics...decisions made
strictly  on the weight of evidence have to be better .

I served nine years on Ontario Social Services Appeal Board   ..a quasi-judicial body where I learned about rules of evidence. Board members travelled all over Ontario , including IndianReservations. We heard arguments from local welfare officials, provincial social workers, well-to-do parents ,with lawyers,  petitioning for fees for their children to attend private boarding schools in the States . Because Ontario  provided no support for kids with learning difficulties.

Legal Aid lawyers represented clients refused permanent disability allowances. Local welfare
workers were there to support clients who had been denied long-term disability even though they’d been on welfare assistance for years. Welfare  was intended for short term financial support.

I was called for jury duty once. It doesn’t necessarily mean serving on a jury. It means being one  of a pool  lawyers choose from. After selection first thing in the morning, when I wasn’t chosen,I’d go into a court room and sit through a proceeding.

Eventually I was chosen and after the trial ,chosen again by the jury to be jury master and deliver the decision.that was in the Provincial Court House on University Avenue  in Toronto.

On one occasion, I sat in a courtroom in Newmarket for weeks, for the trial of a pathetic little guy who’d yearned to be a policeman and now found himself charged byYork Region police for making accusations against a Vaughan politician. Jellyfish Julian Fantino was a witness in the case.The defendant had been campaign manager for a council candidate who promised him a job if he got elected. Before that , in high school , the defendant had been a regular informant in the TIPS program

The candidate was elected. He didn’t keep his promise. The defendant made an accusation of wrong-
doing.

He was undersized , in a suit miles too big with sleeves that reached his finger-tips. He wore a cheap wig because he had  lost his hair. He was twenty-seven years old . With all the weight  of York Region Police on top of him, he was found guilty. Before sentence, he was diagnosed with.    AIDS.What happened to him after, I do not know.

Throughout the trial his mother and sister ,also small people, were in attendance. They did not
understand   English well and gave all the appearance of clinging to each other, scared and bewildered.

My heart went out to them and their unfortunate man-child. The odds were stacked against him. He never had a chance.

Like most of my posts ,this one took off on it’s own direction .I will get back to the one intended but
for now , this sad and catastrophic little tale ends here.



Friday, 4 October 2019

NOT AS GOOD AS THE BEST NOR BETTER THAN THE REST

Union leaders are paid executive salaries. They have to be elected. The more successful they are in bargaining ,the more likely to be re-elected. The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) is a powerful union.Municipal employers cower before their power. They have however come up with an option to bargaining in good faith. CUPE and the education workers bargaining unit has fallen into the trap...perhaps unwitting... perhaps not.

Education  workers have voted to strike. Boards of Education have declared war.  All services will be withheld and schools will close. TEACHERS WILL LIKELY CONTINUE TO BE PAID ACCORDNG TO THEIR CONTRACT. Education Boards  couldn’t do that with  teachers but they can with clerical workers and janitorial employees. Their work can be contracted out.

The harsh reality is ,when  teachers’ bargaining is successful less is left for lesser workers.

Since the Province  took  financial responsibility for education Board budgets are
subject to Provincial authority. Payroll  is 75% of most public service budgets.therefore any
effort to control costs must focus thereon.

Since the teachers union , or professional association as they like to be known,  gets the lion’s share, less  is left. for lesser employees.if ghe strike , Boards can blame the union for closing schools. To achieve savings required by their Provincial masters,  the services can be contracted out. Public sympathy for education workers is unlikely. Everyone doesn’t understand a school is a community.

CUPE is a powerful union but it’s future is not secure. With no new hires  and retirements not
Replaced, membership will be reduced over the long term and bargaining units will lose their effectiveness.Management would always prefer not to have to deal with a union.On the one hand. unions bargain hard ,on the other, politicians mm. like to be seen as the good guys.

This morning, a headline informed us Ontario students up to Grade 5 are reading below Grade level. It’s the one subject essential to teach. Students can find everything  they need to know from a computer . First they need to know how to read.

Most people recognize taxes are necessary to pay for services. They do not begrudge paying those who provide the service reasonable compensation. It’s when the service is not up to the standard  they expect....that’s when they begrudge paying the bill.

Nor do they understand the difference between being a contract worker and a member of the family.




Thursday, 3 October 2019

LOSS OF INNOCENCE

$83 million may be small change in the over-all OHIP budget but it’s surely worth saving.
The global briefing has details of services no longer to be covered by OHIP. They sound pretty sensible. I find it refreshing to find government reacting to the obvious. Doing what needs to be done. It’s what I expect from The Honourable Christine Elliott, Minister of Health. It should be regarded as politically astute. We will soon see how the Toronto Star uses it to beat up on Doug Ford.

I stopped reading the Star a long time ago. After the Globe and Mail lowered their standards to compete with the Toronto Sun, I gave up that newspaper as well. Time was I couldn’t start my
day until I’d read the Globe, minus the Sports section. The same carrier delivered it for years
by 6 am. Until he left to go to university I imagine.  I never did read Conrad Black’s publication.

I missed the newspapers twice a day. Like I missed being a practising Catholic. Now with social media,excerpts from the newspapers come my way regularly. I never will stop being a Catholic. Everything I am is guided by my faith.

Blog writing was not a feature when I stopped “practising”. I’m not sure I would have confided my
reasons but certain episodes are still stark.

An Aurora youth received a car on a birthday. . He already had his driver’s licence. On the next
Friday evening he drove out of St John’s Sideroad straight on to Yonge Street, and into the path
of a Greyhound bus. Three friends were in the car with him and an opened case of beer. More likely he was simply unfamiliar with the intersection.

He was killed and he wasn’t the only one. They were everybody’s kids.

At the funeral Mass, the parish priest announced the boy was in purgatory, an intermediary
place of punishment by fire for sins committed in one’s lifetime.

Grieving parents in the front pews were possibly hoping for solace but more likely still in a fog
of disbelief.

Mentally, I reeled.

Years later, after his retirement, a new church was built. A parish council was elected.
They made a video of the Holy Family. In Catholic terms, Joseph, Mary and Child, born of
the Virgin. Midnight Mass was a ritual I could not surrender. The Christmas Miracle,
the quietness of the hour, the stars in the sky, all served to hold me enraptured.

The Church was beautiful, the congregation open and ready for a heartfelt, lyrical sermon
to suit the occasion.

The priest sat behind the altar, hands folded in his lap and the congregation watched a video made by the Parish Council. He wasn’t even watching it with us.

I can watch a video at home. I could probably watch Midnight Mass in a Cathedral in Rome on
VISION TV. It’s not my preference. I’ve been robbed.

That priest left the Parish eventually, under a cloud.

The congregation lost another new priest...his parish was taken from him because he used funds as directed by their donor. No amount of petitioning changed the minds of Chancellory in Toronto. They lost a priest. A young man grew who grew up in Newmarket and was loved by his congregation.

Women are not the only ones shortchanged by Institution Church.

Nor are politicians the last ones who do not understand  the limits to power and authority.

Wednesday, 2 October 2019

LIES,LIES,MULTIPLE LIES AND OTHER DISTORTIONS

CNN knows they are lying. They keep a running tally .

SO WHY  GIVE THEM A PLATFORM FOR LIES.

‘’When muck is thrown , some of it always sticks” That was one  of the first of many wise old political sayings I learned soon after my election and it was directed at me. IT MADE ME STOP AND THINK. It was simple ,obvious and sensible..

Most people are honest and straightforward and expect the same from others. If they see something in print , hear it in the media, or from a Mayor, Prime Minister or President, they don’t even wonder about the veracity.

If you pay attention people convey their feelings  Listening is the difference between one who serves   and one using elected  office to promote their own interest.

I was asked today what I thought about the Federal election. I believe the Conservative  and Liberals , will split the main vote. The NDP will go up in smoke.THE  Green Party will hold the balance and governing will be near to impossible. A second election  held shortly after will change nothing.We will have reached a stalemate. Not unlike  Netenyahu in Israel.

I’ve been taking a beating from the Indigenous People lobby for daring to suggest many of their children are not better off in parental care than in a government institution.

I am accused of being ignorant and that’s true to a degree. If non-Indigenous children are
abused or neglected, Children’s Aid will take the children. It’s not the best for the kids. good. But
Sometimes it is the only option.

One of my critics prays  that despite the efforts of Evelyn the Infidel Indigenous  children will never be taken from parents again. Bu it is happening in the here and now. At entry points on the American border with Mexico, children are being taken from their mother’s arms and placed in cages.

SOMETIMES IGNORANCE IS SHARED.

The issue of clean water in Reserves has came up a the list of complaints.Muncipalities have clean water and government pays for it . Government should  pay for it on Reserves as well.

That’s wrong but it’s not corrected.

Government  does not pay for our clean water.We do.Our homes are metered and we pay for however much water we use. And we pay accordingly for  soiled water to be treated. We pay for storm water ponds as well. I believe we are paying for new treatment plants on Lake Simcoe even though the Region will collect lot levies from developers when permits are issued.

This blog has been a bit of a zig-zag.  Like my day that was.

Monday, 30 September 2019

“FASTEN YOUR SEAT BELTS. IT’S GOING TO BE A BUMPY RIDE.

Global News briefing has a story today about the Liberal Leader being in the Provincial Premier’s backyard in Mississuaga on Sunday. He was taking shots at Ontario’s education policies . Doug Ford is everybody’s target for abuse. But Mississauga is not his backyard.

Mississuaga is Hazel McCallion’s back yard, front and side yards as well. Mississuaga is where  rusty half-built ,gas -fired generating plants are  testament to the power of Hurricane Hazel., AKA  Queen of Sprawl in the development industry.

Hazel persuaded weak-kneed Dalton McGuinty to cancel rock firm contracts , signed by Hydro 1 ,on the eve of a Provincial election. just as she persuaded him to close coal-fired generators in favour of natural gas fire generators on the eve of a previous  election...just as she persuadedvoters to chose Bonnie Crombie to replace her when she finally gave up the Chain of Offuce but not the power, in the city’s  election.

Location is of no significance for an  attack on Doug Ford. If the man took a miraculous stroll on Lake Ontario , Toronto media would not acknowledge prowess. And he’s not likely to do that any time soon.

DOUG FORD IS NOBODY’S IDEA OF A  SKILLED POLITICIAN ...NEITHER IS JUSTIN TRUDEAU.

The Global briefing makes reference to vague statistics from  various communication firms. We don’t
know them  or their main client or if  they are Liberal operations set up specially for the Federal election, Nobody is telling us.

Reference is made to statements from education workers about 10,000 teaching jobs being lost under
Ford’s education policies. Last figures I heard for immigration into the GTA area was 250,000 a year.
People are still coming to Ontario from every other Province in Canada hoping  for employment.
It means more children in classrooms , more schools. More teachers and support workers, not
10,000 less. No way, Jose.Those figures cannot be correct.

What we do expect from a union is willingness to use students to gain their own ends.  At the same time, the more money going in to teachers pockets, the.less left for everyone else including less classroom time for students.

At the same time, the more access students have to search engines in computers, the less time
needed to study the subject. As teachers reduce the subjects they choose or need to teach, the
question that creeps  to mind ,,,,,,,,what is the future of schools as we know them.?

Maybe the only relevant future for teaching is designing computer programs. And how long before computers take over that chore as well.

I’ve seen amazing changes in my time. Instinct tells me there’s more to come.

I have  seen unions with that kind of leverage, price their members out of the market.

Saturday, 28 September 2019

POLITICAL RHETORIC GOES HAYWIRE

It was a struggle when I started writing the blog. Particularly on the edit. I would spend hours writing and re-writing and then somehow, I never knew how, I would lose the whole thing. If Heather Sisman hadn’t been there to sort things out, I might not have persisted. I hated trying to re-call what I’d written. But that too became part of the routine and I'm still nervous about editing.

Confining myself to the town’s affairs meant readership would not grow. Though when I was out and about people would come forward and urge me to keep writing. It made their day, they said. Sometimes I would post three times a day. I’m not sure what it did for readership but it was over-indulgence on my part.

I’ve cut down, almost to the bone, watching CNN because of repetition. For weeks at a time,
hammering away and I do mean hammering, at the same issue. My sense is they are more concerned
with defending themselves against criticism from the Oval Office Orangutang (OOO) than anything
the public needs to know.

It’s a mistake I don’t want to make. At the same time, the blog is an opinion piece so it’s hard to
avoid. I write the way I speak. I remember my first Letter to the Editor and how shocked I was by much more emphatic the written word is over the spoken.

This morning I note in The Auroran, both local Liberal candidates hanging their heads in shame over Boy Trudeau’s gaffe of decades ago in completing an Aladdin Halloween costume with a brown face. They are glad he apologized and are prepared to forgive him.

What a crock!!!

The term “brown  face” is  being interchanged with “ black  face”. It’s sleight of hand to make a point. Black face was a music hall act of a white American singing group who coloured their faces in a way that offended the black community. It bespoke the times. It’s part of America’s shameful past.
Though it’s not yet completely healed... it is the past...

It bears no relationship to Justin Trudeau’s passion for authenticity in a Halloween costume.

I am offended that others are offended by Trudeau’s harmless piece of nonsense, when there are so
many more serious matters needing to be addressed.

Trudeau’s current sack cloth and ashes routine as Prime Minister of Canada pisses me right off.

Friday, 27 September 2019

THE STORY AS IT UNFOLDS

The $5 million contract let by the town  in August for the Wild Life Refuge is what spurred me to  write. the blog again. It’s taken till now to get back in the saddle

The main issue  is cost and where funds are coming from?

First let me say, I’ve known David Tomlinson since weeks of his arrival in Aurora. The Wild Life Refuge is his idea and his alone. It has taken decades for it to seem to have come to fruition. I was a member when he brought a video to Council to illustrate the merits. It represented seasons and  hundreds of dawn-breaking hours to record nesting habits of birds in aparticular  area.It was monumental. It was beautiful.

There were obstacles . Much of the land was in private hands. The ConservationAuthority did not and were not likely to approve damming  the creek to create on-line ponds.Cost of the project would be prohibitive. That the area would be fenced to deny public access would not sell well.

The obstacles were huge. Aurora is urban with an urban population.

A phone call this morning establishes though the contract has been awarded the problems remain.the same.On line ponds are not approved by the Conservation Authority. Cut -and - fill to permit an offline pond is still not resolved. . Trails and boardwalk are being constructed  as we speak...so to speak.People and their dogs will have access . Ground nesting birds will not be protected.  Extinct species will not return..

BOARD WALKS AND TRAILS MAKE FENCING REDUNDANT.

$5 MILLION DOLLARS ARE COMMITTED ...$1MILLION A YEAR FOR EACH OF FIVE YEARS...TO CREATE A WILD LIFE REFUGE WHICH SHALL NOT BE..

The money is coming from Lot Levy Reserves. It’s a system  instituted by the Province that allows a municipality to exact a fee for every permit issued to pay for increased demand for facilities. It must be reviewed every year . Master Plans for various facilities must also
be reviewed to establish need.

The town’s website has current particulars. Funds for the Refuge are being taken from lot levy reserves collected from development, other than residential, in lieu of funds for parkland.

Some years ago, when Canadian Tire was still on Yonge Street,they added  a gardening centre, They paid a huge levy . In your wildest dreams you could not imagine the  expansion increased   demand for parkland, ice arenas, community centres, skateboard parks , firehalls or a Refuge for extinct birds.

Yet the town took it and tucked it away in a reserve fund . ..waiting for a purpose.

I think taking these feses is legalized theft.It shows complete disrespect to a taxpayer we are sworn to represent.

JUST BECAUSE WE CAN, DOESN’T MEAN WE SHOULD.

75% of  public service budgets are payroll. When new facilities are built,they have to be staffed.
and maintained. Operating costs swell the annual tax bill.

PEOPLE ARE DRIVEN FROM THEIR HOMES.

Capital costs may becovered by lot levies

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

I KNOW WHERE THE MISTAKES ARE

My grandson Aaron found the right keyboard to use with the Ipad. His sister Robyn found a small
tray table that sits on my walker while I sit on the reclning chair that raises me to a standing position if I need it.  Sometimes I don’t. And when I don’t....I don’t .

Both hands are free to tap the letters and it has almost , once again, become  a mindless exercise.

There are still some tricky bits. Editing still presents some difficulty but it will come with practice.

There are  a few corrections needed at the end of the previous post.

I will fix them to-morrow. I just wanted you to know....that I know....they are there .

Tuesday, 24 September 2019

PEOPLE ARE CRITTERS TOO

My backyard is 63ft wide by50ft deep. I installed a pool when my children were young. It measures 32ft long by 16ft wide. A concrete deck ,probably 2ft wide surrounds the pool.I have a 12+ft square deck. What’s left has grass and perennials ,cedar hedging and spruce trees grown to substantial height.

 The subdivion was built on farmland. There was  no vegetation on the property other than on the banks of a creek that runs through. Case Woodlot is nearby and the Salamander Pond. Within two minutes of the front door, in whatever direction, we were in the country, surrounded by farm fields.
If homes disturbed the wildlife, it was long gone by the time we arrived.

It’s not like that any more. Subdivision housing surrounds us though Case Wood lot and the Salamander Pond remains. Fields still sweep upwards, mostly green, on the other side of Bathurst Street. It’s not unusual to see a hawk perched on hydro wires looking out over the fields for prey. I saw a Baltimore Oriole on Henderson Drive years ago. It flew in front of the car. Another time, a huge snowy owl swept  silently down past and disappeared into the darkness like an apparition.

On a different occasion, in the dusk, I caught sight of an animal on the road and thought it was a pretty tall hound dog . Then I realized ....it was a deer. Once I saw  a family of guinea hens crossing the road.I can’t explain the excitement I feel at the rare sight of the creatures that share our space.

Years have passed and we hear from new residents  there should be no more development in Aurora.Now they’re here and we should lock the door and throw away the key. We are destroying wild life habitat ,they tell us and  contributing to climate change.

In the meantime, all over town old lots are being acquired, modest homes demolished and massive mansions replace them. They cover half the lot as opposed to 25% .They tower over neighbouring bungalows. They are three  times the size any family needs...they consume three times the energy to maintain...Ceilings are two storys high in reception areas...staircases are majestic, bathrooms number at least  three and storage space for  possessions is more than for a small retail store. Heating, cooling, cleaning ,lot coverage ...everything about them consumes many times the energy needed for human habitat.

But...to get back to the intended theme of this post...wild life habitat. My lot ...one of 750 ...as described above, was originally farm land. No trees were removed. No wild life displaced. My small space provides shelter and sustenance to rabbits, racoons ,black , grey and red squirrels, skunks and chipmunks who come right up to my patio doors to peer in and spy upon me.

Cardinals have lived in my cedar hedge for two decades. Black cap chickadees, yellow finches, robins, blue jays and once a huge grey hawk in my maple tree with  ruffed feathers on his legs ,down that  looked like pyjamas. And woodpeckers, black and white with a red streak on their heads tapping on old bramches that have loost their bark. I never knew of the  variety  of sparrows until they came
to live in my garden.

I went to a party on Saturday night. One of the guests teaches horticulture to high school students in Halton Region. He told me David Suzuki has put out a paper that claims if everyone who has a
yard, no matter how small, planted a hospitable environment for wild life ,we could  bring back
species thought to be extinct for numbers of years.

I know it’s true. I’ve done it without planning  it. I have a pair of mallard ducks that land on my covered pool in the Spring. And singing frogs and croaking bull frogs and redwing blackbirds sometimes in the spring. Sometimes doves, in flight for days will come down to rest on the warm stones that define the flowerbeds from the grassy area.They travel in pairs,one will nestle to rest while the other stands watch.

I know things about the habits of birds and I have a veritable aviary in my own backyard. And I
just  stumbled into it

Friday, 20 September 2019

TAP...TAP...TAP ...WITHOUT A SOUND

I’m still practising. Reaching down for whatever might be lurking just below the surface of my mind. This may not get published because I’m still groping and no-one is here to help but I find that’s the best way. I’m forced to study the keys and repeat things. Just don’t go away. I will soon get up to speed and into the meat of things. There’s a couple of promising nice mixed metaphors and i just found the key that moves me forward along the line without obliterating what I just wrote.

Bear with me please. Don’t ever leave me I need to do it to get back into the swing of it.

I’ve been writing for more than eighty years. Starting with letters, written by hand of course. I’ve wondered why my bent was not recognized and encouraged. Then realized it was. When my brother’s plane didn’t return from a bombing raid, he was reported missing. I was assigned to write to newspapers for particulars every time we read of airmen in a dinghy being plucked from the ocean. When the war ended and we heard from the father of a flight crew survivor who had been a prisoner of war, that my brother had been killed, I wrote to the War Office to inform them. Whereupon they promptly sent back the information...in a blue-banded telegram. It signified urgency, they were informing us that he had been killed.

Last week someone posted an old Scottish class photo on line. There were forty students in the photo.Today’s teachers think twenty-four students are too many. They are not even teaching them cursive writing and if comments made in social media are an indication, English grammar is a lost art also.

When we came to Canada, there were three Toronto daily newspapers and a section for Letters To the Editor. I took to that like a duck to water. It evolved to a weekly column in the Aurora Banner. The editor was patient and instructive. I learned. I did some reporting.

During...before...and after.... I became involved in politics and my education broadened enormously. NO college or university can teach what there is to learn in politics.

At seventy-five, after a fourteen year absence, I put my name forward again and was re-elected and served three more four year terms. During which time social media presented. To the consternation of some, the delight of many and with the help of Heather Sisman, a young friend at a loose end, I published a blog. 

Never, in a million years could I have ever imagined the opportunity. Without really meaning to, I stopped writing posts and took to commenting on Facebook instead. It’s less work. More casual. But the current state of politics in Canada, from top to bottom is lamentable.

It wasn’t always thus.

I am forever grateful for the opportunities I have received.

The Blog is payback.

Wednesday, 18 September 2019

A TRIAL RUN...BUT NOT REALLY

So ...I’m back...It’s going to take a while to get used to a keyboard again and in fact, I’m not using it now. For a reason unbeknown to me the keyboard on my iPad is up and the new one is not responding. I have a feeling my computer literacy is about to take a monumental curve ... up ...or down...It will be a test of my ability. Can’t find the font that changes the size of the print. Can’t take the cursor back to make a correction. Spacing has changed and I don’t know why. I turned a button to 3 but that’s on the new keyboard. Why would that affect the spacing on the iPad touchpad. I don’t even know the words to describe things. I need to look again to see if there is an instruction manual. There is a leaflet telling me how not to start a fire with the batteries...in four different languages. My grandson Aaron found the keyboard for me. He is in his mid-twenties, married and an expectant father. He has never known life without computers. Before he started school, his mother with other mothers had to raise funds to buy computers. And then have a principal tell them how the funds were to be used. Aaron doesn’t need language,he just lets his fingers do the tapping for him. But Aaron’s not here. Hunting and pecking is not good enough. I just thought I would let you know I am up though not quite running on my blog once again.