"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.