This Blog will discuss politics, government, corruption, police, S.I.U., courts, education, min. of attorney general, min. of labour, v.o.i.c.e. and other current and past events of interest to concerned citizens. In the "About me" section to the right and down I have included the names of persons whom I have tremendous respect for. Their influence on me however has been primarily environmental (and personal) and this is therefore a disclaimer that all words posted on this Blog/Website are mine and I alone am responsible for them. I say this with the greatest respect and affection to my friends.
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Jason Kenney, Immigration Minister for Canada, has responded to the public outcry over misuse of the foreign workers program. Today's Waterloo Region Record has this story "Tories reverse course after outcry over foreign workers program". There will be changes including dropping the rule regarding paying foreign workers 15% less than the prevailing wage. This was simply an incentive for employers not to find Canadian workers. Also employers must show that they have increased their efforts to hire and train available Canadians for the work. Predictably the Canadian Chamber of Commerce have stated that these changes are "...not in the interest of Canadian business".
Outsourcing, foreign worker programs and even within limits immigration are simply methods for right wing apologists to lower wages by increasing the labour force beyond sustainable levels. They are also a method to put downward pressure on wages and on unionization. Nice of the Cof C. to admit that what is good for Canada isn't good for them and vice versa.
Monday, April 29, 2013
Construction, agriculture and factories are the culprits. Today's Waterloo Region Record has the following story "National Day of Mourning calls for greater protection of workers". Mark Xuereb, longtime local activist and currently president of the Waterloo Regional labour Council advises that 298 workers were killed on the job in Ontario last year. He believes that the actual numbers are much higher as 38% of workplaces in the province are not covered by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board and hence statistics not kept for them. "The only way to prevent more deaths from occurring is to improve regulations and hold accountable those at fault for injuries, illnesses and deaths.". "We have a long way to go, Xuereb said.".
Friday, April 26, 2013
Does it get any worse than this? The latest update to the Waterloo Region Record's story has more than 300 people dead. It also details workers having hands amputated to extricate them from the rubble. The title of the story is "Factory ignored evacuation order". This is why Europe and North America had unions form. Corporations and capitol have neither heart, soul nor morals and ethics. Bangladesh is clearly controlled by monied interests when even police orders to evacuate a collapsing building can be ignored.
Joe Fresh, Walmart and other North American retailers have their clothes made in these factories. Excuses abound regarding North American retailers holding Bangladesh manufacturers to labour standards. These are exactly that, excuses. We just had a clothing manufacturer close up shop in Cambridge a few weeks ago. Where do you think their production and orders went? Arrow Shirts in downtown Kitchener has been closed for ages. Where do you think their business went? Do you remember NAFTA? How about all the other free trade deals that sent Canadian and American manufacturing to the lowest cost jurisdictions on earth. Lowest costs isn't just crappy, starvation wages. It includes working and living under conditions that here in Canada would be illegal for dogs to live in.
Do we remember Brian Mulroney aka "Lyin Brian" telling us how Canadians standard of living would rise as we exported all these manufacturing jobs abroad? What he meant to say was that already rich Canadians would become even richer as they exported your job and mine overseas and lowered their costs while keeping their domestic prices high. They pocketed the increased profits not you or I. It's all about short term profits. Long term as our unions die here in Canada we will undergo a renaissance of sorts. This however will not be a good renaissance. Our factory jobs will return when our labour force have been sufficiently cowed and intimidated into submission. When we are willing to work in dangerous conditions for $2 and hour or worse, these jobs will come back. For now there are many more billions of people around the world who are desperate and starving and who can be exploited by corporations, money and power. Do not expect politicians to help Canadian citizens. They caused this mess and they did it knowingly and have been rewarded for it.
Thursday, April 25, 2013
Today's Waterloo Region Record advises us that our federal MPs voted 183-93 to pass the Combating Terrorism Act. The title of the article is "MPs grant police "exceptional" powers to probe terror plots". Apparently the Liberals supported the Conservatives with this while the NDP voted and spoke against it. One of the aspects of this Bill is so called preventative arrests. Citizens may now be held in custody for up to three days without being charged. Isn't that just dandy. Currently 24 hours in custody without seeing a judge is the rule. Police forces have for political purposes abused this and now they will have triple the amount of time to hold citizens without laying charges. Clearly our federal MPs either don't know or don't care about current abuses of the law.
Clearly civil liberties groups can see where this is heading. There has been condemnation from the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association and others. These new exceptional powers are not needed and never have been. They are simply tightening the noose a couple more notches around civil liberties and democracy in Canada. Shame on our federal MPs who supported this.
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Last Monday's Waterloo Region Record carried this story "Red light tickets soar despite little-known grace period". This grace period refers to the camera not snapping a picture until a split second after the light turns red. In Kitchener the grace period is .1 second. Other jurisdictions vary from no grace period to 1 full second or longer. The theory is that the light can turn caution (yellow) shortly before you enter the intersection and you can travel through the intersection primarily on the yellow which is legal. Interestingly "Against expert advice, Ontario cities don't advertise the grace period". Obviously those in charge think that motorists would be more inclined to attempt to run reds if they knew of the split second grace period. The facts however tell a different story. "...crashes increased 31 per cent and injuries soared 51 per cent after cameras were installed...". Clearly Waterloo Region residents are not slamming the gas as the light turns caution; instead they've been slamming the brakes with predictable consequences namely rear end collisions. Perhaps advising motorists that they have a very small grace period would dissuade panic braking to avoid a $325 fine. And as a result of dissuading panic braking it would also lessen rear end collisions at these intersections. Oh how a fairly good idea can go so wrong.
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Yesterday's Waterloo Region Record carrys this story "Bill to give grandparents access rights subject of review". Apparently Liberal backbencher Kim Craitor has received little or no support from his own party in regards to his attempt to update the Child law Reform Act. He along with most normal and rational human beings feel that the current family law in this province is a mess and when it comes to grandparents keeping in touch with their grandchildren it's even worse than that. There is legislation dealing with grandparents access to their grandchildren in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Quebec, Nova Scotia and the Yukon.
Currently his proposals have reached second reading and will go to a legislative committee which will hold public meetings prior to third and final reading. The entire legislation around family law is a disgrace in this province and simply promotes hostility, non cooperation and litigation. In other words great for the judges, lawyers and the system at immense human cost to both parents and children.
Monday, April 22, 2013
What the hell kind of a government sets up opportunities for their business community to export jobs, import foreign workers, negotiate trade deals good for corporations but lethal to Canadians and finally tighten the eligibility for unemployment insurance all in a climate of recession? If you said Canada's federal government, you're a winner.
Today's Waterloo Region Record has an opinion piece by Carol Goar titled "Harper must crack down to defuse public anger over foreign workers". Ms. Goar advises the following course of action for our prime Minister: employers must demonstrate they've conducted a serious search for Canadian applicants before permitting them to bring in foreign workers. A two week psuedo search is not a serious search. Revoke the policy rewarding employers with a 15% wage reduction below the prevailing wage for foreign workers. Toughen penalties for employers abusing the program. Enforce the rules and penalties for those same employers breaking them. Permit foreign workers only into fields with acute labour shortages. There are no shortages in Canada for gas station attendants, truck drivers, restaurant, fast food outlets and convenience stores. 330,000 foreign workers per year above and beyond immigration levels is just plain criminal in this economy. Multi generational Canadians whose parents and grandparents have built this country are out of work because of employer greed and politicians gutlessness.
Friday, April 19, 2013
There are some G20 protesters who were convicted of vandalism and property damage who have already completed their sentences. Meanwhile two police officers are still waiting for their Police Act charges to be heard. Constables Oliver Simpson and Matthew McCartney are up on charges for allegedly using unecessary force on peaceful G20 protesters. Interestingly Const. Simpson is up on charges for assaulting both a Mr. Kapetaneas as well as Mr. Adam Nobody.
Three protesters including Mr. Kapetaneas have just won a modest monetary award in small claims court for $25,000. As Anna Grychtchenko stated "Unfortunately, in the society that we live, money (does) talk. And them paying me off, it means that they've done something wrong.". Also of interest is that the lawyer who sucessfully sued the police in small claims court was Davin Charney, formerly of Kitchener. He was a former street youth with numerous run ins with the law. Hindsight being twenty-twenty, I expect that many Waterloo Region Police officers wish they'd behaved better with him years ago. He has now won numerous small claims court suits against both the Waterloo Regional Police and now the Toronto police. The title of the article in today's Waterloo Region Record is "Three G20 protesters get settlement from police".
Thursday, April 18, 2013
There are times when you just have to tell the right wing to f... off. Both government and business enjoy pretending that Canada is in a permanent serious skills and labour shortage. It is and always has been bullshit of the cruelest sort. Yesterday's Waterloo Region Record had this story "Job vacancies fall to lowest in 2 years". Various experts are interviewed in this article and the concensus is that the facts simply do not bear out what business is trying to sell. Even the federal politicians are beginning to acknowledge that things like temporary foreign worker programs have been abused by Canadian employers. They are no more than cheap labour programs taking employment from Canadians while saving employers money. Similarily so called skills shortages are nothing more than Canadian employers avoiding having to train local workers and then pay decent wages. As far as 6.5 workers chasing each and every job, I've got news for you. There are twice as many who no longer qualify for E.I. and who aren't even considered part of the unemployed statistics looking for work. This is the shame of Canada whereby when there isn't enough work our government brings in more workers to work for less money. AND they insult those native Canadians who can't find jobs.
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
What they have are money and power as a direct result of money. This power is generally focused on getting more money. Ethics, morality and decency aren't even in their top twenty priorities. What is in their top twenty however is the appearance of having ethics, morality and decency. This is for the purpose of good public relations and keeping the money tree healthy and productive. Every now and then however they make a little slip and their real selves shine through. Les Wells of Cambridge has written a Letter to the Editor today in the Waterloo Region Record. The title above his Letter is "Corporations must think beyond profits". Basically Mr. Wells is pointing out both the recent issues surrounding Manulife in Waterloo and their use of offshore workers as well as a 2003 movie titled The Corporation. According to the movie most corporations have the same personality as a psychopath. "With Manulife, there is no conscience here, no concern for the Canadians working so diligently to do the best job they can for their employer.". Also according to Mr. Wells it's not just manufacturing jobs going going overseas, it's also high tech jobs. Manulife he refers to as "...another souless corporation driven to make larger profits any way it can.".
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Today's Waterloo Region Record carrys this story "Cancelled gas plant cost Ontario $275 million". This of course refers to the Mississauga plant that was mothballed days before the last provincial election. The opposition parties (Conservative & NDP) have referred to this as the Liberal "seat saver" program. Bought and paid for of course with your taxes and mine. Is there any silver lining in this fiasco? In my humble opinion there is. We've been receiving from some media, the left, NGO's and various activists all kinds of dire warnings about the behaviour of our federal Conservative government. This especially concerns environmental dismantlings, muzzling of scientists, attack ads even between elections and just general overall criticism of the right. So here's the good news. Our centrist and sometimes slightly left provincial Liberal party are working very hard to show that the right absolutely does not have a monopoly on either stupidity or a lack of ethics. All voters please pay attention to this. No party is immune.
This power plant has since been moved to the Sarnia area. Opposition parties are still pressing the government for more information although very few Ontarians are likely to forget who wasted their money and that it was for gross partisan political benefit. This fiasco will go along way towards a changing of the guard in Ontario's next provincial election.
Monday, April 15, 2013
Saturday's Waterloo Region Record carrys this opinion piece "It's time to fix our broken family law system" , written by Barry Little of Kid's"n" Dad Shared Support. Mr. Little has long been an advocate and proponent of a non adversarial approach in family law. His well thought out beliefs and opinions would greatly reduce the stress and tension inherent in our current family law processes and procedures. There have been attempts and suggestions over the decades to implement a kinder, gentler, less adversarial approach but they have not been brought to fruition.
Mr. Little suggests in his article that "mortar and bricks over human resources is inexcusable" and he is correct. He suggests that far more time and money should have gone into reforming one aspect of our legal system (family law) than into building a monument and edifice to our legal system. Again he is correct but let me ask Mr. Little this question. "Do you think that our legal system failures are solely in the area of family law?". Both our criminal and civil law systems are pathetic. The failures that Mr. Little knows only too well in our family law also exist throughout the system. From ambitious prosecuters, politically motivated judges, incompetence and just plain inertia, the system rattles on. It has been designed for the convenience and financial benefit of all the legal stakeholders and as usual the citizens are left holding the bag with overly expensive and barely second class justice available. The system is broken and all the new monuments and edifices in the world won't fix it.
Thursday, April 11, 2013
There are sixteen intersections in Waterloo Region with Red Light Cameras installed. A three year study indicates that without increasing traffic at these red light camera intersections, collisions and injuries are rising. They are rising I might add at much higher rates than at 445 other intersections in the region. While there were six fewer collisions due to someone running a red light there were 43 more rear-end collisions and 23 more turning collisions. It would appear that people are paying attention to the red light camera signs and as a direct result are doing one of two things. They are either slamming on their brakes at the last second because of a yellow caution light or they are flooring the gas peddle in order to clear the intersection quickly and avoid the $325 fine. This is also caused by shorter yellow caution lights over the last twenty years. The results are predictable and are borne out by the statistics namely more rear-end and turning collisions as people turning judge the safety based on distance only, versus speed as well and the rear-end collisions occur when a car clearly committed to going through an intersection on the green suddenly hits the brakes hard because the yellow caution light just came on. All of this is predictable but free money in the coffers is what this program is all about. Safety my butkus! The Record article is titled "Red light revenue soars even higher".
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
On page A7 of the Waterloo Region Record is an extraordinary story told by Canada's first Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO), Mr. Kevin Page. He gives us the history of the office as well as why it was formed. He then goes on to give us more details as to why he believes that the office is under threat. The title of the Record's story is appropriately "Parliamentary budget office under threat". Mr. Page pulls no punches whatsoever in his criticism of our current federal government. While they indeed get the credit for the original idea, Mr. Page suggests that their tune changed dramatically once they were in power.
Mr. Page's tenure was often difficult and he was routinely criticized by the Conservative government. To date they have not replaced him with anything other than an interim PBO who is actually the parlimentary librarian. Mr. Page's concerns under all the circumstances seem well founded. It would seem only logical and democratic to give members of parliament access to good, unbiased information regarding the financial implications of various pieces of legislation. This apparent resistance by the government does not bode well for either transparency or accountability.
Tuesday, April 9, 2013
Today's Waterloo Region Record has this story "Ambulance care report hits nerve". The Record also published the following Editorial "Emergency services in crisis". I still can't help but compare the unionized paramedics to our unionized teachers. The former are being fired (2), written up (8) and suspended (16). When was the last time you heard of a teacher being either suspended for misconduct or fired? Basically they are never suspended and only fired AFTER they've received a criminal conviction due to child sexual abuse. It seems pretty clear that CUPE who represent the paramedics have the right to grieve the discipline if they feel they have a case. Clearly there are clauses in the union contract with the Region which stipulate some reasonable expectations of performance and conduct. Just as clearly there are no such clauses in the teachers contracts with our school boards. This is not to the shame of the unions but to the shame of the employers (school boards).
Today's Record shows two examples of poor performance by paramedics. In the one case an elderly woman exhibiting signs of a stroke was taken to hospital where the paramedic indicated to a nurse that there was nothing wrong with the woman. Her symptoms worsened and her son got assistance from another nurse. She called a doctor and it turned out that the woman was in the midst of a massive brain hemorrhage (a stroke). I suspected that regional authorities who had claimed that there was no evidence of patients sufferring harm from paramedics failure, were essentially blowing smoke. Indeed it's long been obvious to me that a lack of evidence usually simply means that no one has looked very hard because they don't want to find any such evidence.
Monday, April 8, 2013
Saturday's Waterloo Region Record advises us that "26 paramedics disciplined". Of the 26, eight were given written notices, sixteen were suspended and two fired. Ambulance chief John Prno also departed although no details were given. This is an extraordinary housecleaning and my first unworthy thought is that boy these unionized paramedics sure didn't have the bullet proof contracts that the School Boards have been giving teachers for decades.
My second unworthy thought is that the list of offences and failure is serious and is it merely wishful thinking that no patients were allegedly harmed by the failures of these paramedics. Simply saying that you have no proof of patient harm may simply mean that no one has gone looking for it.
Thirdly I guess as bad as ambulance attendants failure "...to consistently follow patient-care standards..." is; I am amazed at both the accountability and the transparency.
Regional Councillor Sean Strickland may be fortunate that the principle of ministerial accountability doesn't fall upon municipal or regional councillors. He's the Chair of the regional committee that oversees emergency medical services. His comments "As we move forward, we're going to do whatever we can to ensure that the consistency and quality of patient care continues," are quite frankly ridiculous. We don't want the quality of patient care to continue, damn it. We want it to improve to the standard it's supposed to be at in the first place.
Friday, April 5, 2013
This is no April Fool's joke. On April 1 the Waterloo Region Record printed this story "Prison guard's training questioned". The overall article indicated that there was very little training or even basic understanding of respect for inmates as human beings. There was one sentence regarding the treatment of guards, workers etc. namely "Apparently social values around respect toward offenders have not been encouraged within CSC to the same extent as values of respect toward the organization and co-workers...".
The very next day the Record carrys this story "Prison workers face harassment:survey". It appears by the juxtaposition that both these stories are the result of the same survey done by Correctional Services Canada (CSC) last year. The survey was voluntary and quite frankly the second story seems to make a little more sense in regards to human behaviour. The first story suggests that CSC fosters an in-house positive environment with mutual respect by staff towards each other while there is little unanimity in basic human respect towards offenders. In the second story we get a very clear picture of a toxic work environment. It includes rudeness, harassment (sexual and otherwise) and discrimination. Under this atmosphere and nasty environment it is much easier to understand how staff including guards would be more likely to pass on these disrespectful attitudes towards inmates, who are clearly at the bottom of the status pile.
Some jobs are inherently more stressful than others. That being said it is incumbent upon senior management to set the tone and proper atmosphere within a workplace. Unfortunately this often turns out to be no more than lip service as problem behaviours are swept under the carpet. This is even more prevalent in workplaces where cronyism and favourtism are fluorishing. Clearly Correctional Service Canada have internal problems affecting both staff and inmates and under these conditions we can expect more human tragedies such as the Ashley Smith case.
Thursday, April 4, 2013
You probably think I'm referring to the lack of qualifications required to become parents. Literally there is zero educational or training requirements to becoming a parent. The only other job that has zero educational or work experience requirements would be that of a politician. Being a citizen is generally just about it. Perhaps there is a minimum age requirement but I'm not even so sure of that. Why exactly are our politicians so full of themselves? Beyond a doubt there are some smart ones just as there are some who are educated. If one looks locally it seems that teachers who can retire early and have substantial time off during their careers have a leg up on getting into politics. Provincially and federally lawyers seem to do very well.
Tuesday's Waterloo Region Record has an article titled "Multi-tier government has a price". Essentially we are advised that there are, in comparison to single tier jurisdictions, a number of local councillors hauling down six figure salaries. O.K. I'm impressed with how our local citizens are getting shafted through our taxes to pay for more politicians than we need. The truth is I'm unimpressed even with the individual salaries not just the excess ones. Being a smooth talker should not pay so well whether for the allegedly full time Mayors and Regional Chair but also not for the part time Councillors in Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge. In regards to the Townships I do know that Woolwich Councillors get a paltry $ 11,800 per year. How the other Townships do I don't know.
Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Steve Kannon of the Woolwich Observer has done it again with his Editorial titled 'Harper wants lapdogs, not watchdogs despite claims of transparency". Kevin Page left his post last week as Palimentary Budget Officer (PBO) much to the relief of a number of governing Conservatives. Mr. Page's term of office had expired and to date there has been no permanent replacement for this appointed position. Appointed I might add by the Prime Minister, no less.
Democracy Watch, a private government watchdog have decided to take the government to court over their failure to appoint a new permanent PBO. The interim appointment of the Parliamentary Librarian as the interim PBO they view as clearly illegal. The former PBO, Mr Page "...routinely took the Conservatives to task for inadequate, incomplete and outright incorrect budget numbers, exposing the government as incompetents ... and worse.".
Furthermore Democracy Watch have a list of reccommendations to further strengthen the office of the PBO. They believe that Canadians strongly would like independent watchdogs rather than government toadies. They also believe that governments need to be pushed into doing the right things especially if they view them as contrary to their short term interests.
Tuesday, April 2, 2013
Today's Waterloo Region Record carrys this story "Watchdog to probe scientist "muzzling". The complaints to Commissioner Suzanne Legault were filed by Democracy Watch as well as by the Environmental Law Centre at the University of Victoria. The complaints allege information "...is impeded by government policies, practices or guidelines that restrict or prohibit government scientists from speaking with the media and the Canadian public.". The executive director of UVic's law centre said "...their research into suppressed science revealed both the wide scope of the practice and that it "represents a significant departure " in government practice over the last five to seven years.". Furthermore our federal Conservative government "...has been accused of silencing scientists on a number of subjects, particularily environmental science, since the Conservatives came to power in 2006.".
Our local M.P. from Cambridge Gary Goodyear who is the minister of state for science and technology provided an e-mail denying any such muzzling.
Monday, April 1, 2013
O.K. that title above is stronger than originally intended. I am commenting this morning on an article in Saturday's Waterloo Region Record titled "Councillor's time on local boards costs $160,000". However while getting the link to the Record article I noticed on line that there is another story in today's Record about our local politicians' travel expenses. Therefore my sense of disgust and outrage is probably based upon the two combined.
There are three boards that our municipal and regional councillors get to sit on; all for extra pay of course. These are utilities, police and conservation authority boards. I expect that all three suffer due to the overwhelming influence of politicians while I only have knowledge pertaining to our police and conservation authority boards. They generally stink whereas the utility boards are unknown to me.
At one time our Grand River Conservation Authority was known as the Grand River Construction Authority. They approved or otherwise of things like construction in flood plains etc.. One would think that they would also have to be consulted in regards to gravel pits being built alongside the Grand River and other local waterways. Take a close look sometime at the number of gravel pits from West Montrose down through Waterloo, Kitchener and Cambridge, along the Grand River. It is nothing short of disgusting and totally unecessary. When you have local politicians dependent upon the goodwill and donations (election time mostly?) of business and industry you will have more exceptions and comprimises than is good for the environment.
I've been writing here for the last year and a half and an awful lot of my postings have involved our Waterloo Regional Police. The list of scandals and personal failures combined with just plain bad management decisions are constant. Recently I've posted about how our Police Board have long kept their heads down and primarily let the Waterloo Regional Police Force manage themselves, to the detriment of taxpayers and citizens. Now that it's clear as to who are dominating these boards (politicians) I'm beginning to understand.
Here is an interesting question. The legislation that enacts these boards probably gives authority to Councils to make citizen appointments to them. I'd just love to know if the legislation mandates that sitting politicains be given first shot at those positions. In other words have our local and Regional Councils simply seen a good gig and passed out the sweets to themselves? Or on the contrary has the Province decided to keep local opposition to a minimum and thus written the legislation expressly favouring politicians for these positions? More shame on our local politicians if they are hogging part time positions that could be better filled with an honest application and appointment process open to all citizens.