Friday, September 29, 2006
Thursday, September 28, 2006
Reeve Gary Doyle, according to the township website, has been active in municipal politics for 19 years and has been Montague's reeve for 13 years. Therefore, it seems reasonable to conclude that whatever may be right or wrong with the township at the present, the buck stops with Doyle. Like our erstwhile federal government, he's had 13 years to prove himself. Reeve Doyle was the public face of the Page defamation lawsuit, and became nationally famous in the Macleans magazine piece. Doyle has several of the Township's officials report directly to him, rather than through the administrative structure of the township and thus exercises a significant amount of power. Mr. Doyle operates a drywall business; as I have not needed any drywalling done I have not had the honour of meeting him. (His challenger for Reeve operates a roofing business and once cleared the ice off a leaking roof for me, so I have met him). Mr. Doyle didn't do any visible campaigning in the last municipal election, nor does he communicate with residents any more than is absolutely essential, so far as I can tell.
Deputy Reeve David Schoular does not live in Montague but is on Council through his ownership of property in the Township. Again, we never heard from him in the last election campaign and he seems to keep a pretty low profile. His name doesn't crop up too often in Council minutes, so it's really hard to know where he stands. He was however on record as a firm supporter of the lawsuit against Mr. Page and he has been vocal in opposing the Ratepayers' Association.
Councillor Vince Carroll's description on the township website is blank. I have not had the time to trawl through all Council minutes from the last three years to determine whether there is more to Mr. Carroll than this suggests. Besides which, Mr. Carroll has complained on the record about public discussion of councillors, so we'll bow to his wishes and we won't discuss him further.
What we have then, in the slate of incumbents, is a group who have very much been running things their own way, and who have certainly done little to avoid or to heal the divisions in the Township. To those of us who have not been involved in the Ratepayer's Association or the Page matter, they have been all but invisible. The impression is that of a comfortable club that has been keeping things ticking over and has not taken kindly to any attempts to scrutinise or change the status quo.
When I lived in Ottawa (the old city) I met Mayor Jim Watson three times over a 4 year period - just randomly, as he took an interest in events I happened to attend. Montague has 1/100th the population of that city and in 5 years there I have never met one of my elected councillors. Perhaps that will change this time around.
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Let's start with some background. Montague Township is a rural township in Lanark County in Eastern Ontario. The township website, www.township.montague.on.ca, is actually excellent and very informative and you can learn more about us there. Most of the township is rural, although some of the urban area of Smiths Falls actually falls within Montague's boundaries, and there are one or two small settlements scattered around. Farming is the principal industry and otherwise people are usually employed in Smiths Falls or in Ottawa. Montague is quiet, idyllic country living. Mostly.
The township is run by a council comprising a Reeve, Deputy Reeve and three councillors. Council is responsible for providing all the usual municipal services - road maintenance, fire services, policing (provided by the OPP) and so forth. In a small township such as this you would think this was straightforward and didn't afford too much opportunity for controversy or scandal.
The current election, however, takes place against a background of recent events that put Montague on the national political stage, albeit briefly. I've covered these events before, in this post.
As you might also imagine, a situation in which a Council sues one of its own citizens for defamation does not arise out of nowhere. There is, no doubt, much behind the scenes of these events. As just an ordinary citizen and a relative newcomer (only five years!) I don't know all the ins and outs, nor is it really relevant. The lawsuit failed and the particular issue at its centre is probably best left well alone for now.
This election is really not about the content of the lawsuit, but it is about how democracy works in such a small municipal government. It's about how much power and influence a small group of councillors can have; about how accountable, or otherwise, they need to be when their community is virtually invisible to higher levels of government and to the media. It's about how much cronyism is acceptable in local government and how much input residents should have into local decision making. There are many other issues of course, and we'll get into them through the campaign, but the overall themes of the election are transparency and accountability.
In keeping with this, I intend to blog the election here as an ordinary citizen. I will not go out of my way to 'chase' candidates. Those candidates that come to my door will get the chance to let me ask some questions and post their answers here. If I don't hear from them they won't get that chance. My identity is an open secret in this township where everybody knows everybody, so if candidates want to find me they won't have any trouble doing so. I'll be blogging only what I see and hear, and what I can find out readily from public sources such as Council minutes and the public meetings that will be held. What I hope is that this little spotlight will make things just a tiny bit more transparent in Montague.
"While some of my colleagues think my research reinforces the stereotype of repressed, uptight conservatives, it also shows that many liberals may be hanging on the edge of mental well-being," Mr. Bulkeley said. "There may be a lot of hidden distress and unpleasantness in the liberal mind." [emphasis added]
However ill-informed and misguided complaints about funding cuts to SoW Canada might have been, they might have grabbed some media attention had Belinda not been the Liberal's mouthpiece on the issue. As it is, the Liberal guns are effectively spiked by Belinda's extra-curricular behaviour.
Doesn't the rich playgirl heiress make a great role model for the struggling single moms whose interests she is supposed to represent? I'm sure all the women of Canada can just see themselves in Belinda, and of course she can empathise with them in their daily hardships. Or she could if she had time between dates.
Conservatives believe government should do good. Liberals believe government should make people feel good.
To McCallum it doesn't matter if programs are achieving goals, or if they are even useful to begin with. No, if they make even one person feel better they must never be touched.
Vive la difference!
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
They've crapped all over women's rights by cutting money for the Status of Women Agency.
That would be the 'equal rights' agency that only funds the people they agree with. They don't speak for all women and they don't support the rights of any woman who is not a radical feminist, which I suspect is well over 50% of Canadian women. Pretty crappy equality.
They've crapped on aboriginal health by slashing money from the initiative to reduce their tobacco use.
That would be the 'initiative' - ever notice how they call something an 'initiative' or an 'agenda' when it's nothing but a make-work project for unemployed lefty mass-communication grads? - that has reduced aboriginal smoking by ... er... precisely nothing. Pretty crappy 'initiative'.
They've crapped on Canadian culture by lowering the funding of Canada's museums.
Hmmm... not convinced people will notice any raising or lowering of the amount of crap in Canadian KULCHER.
They've crapped directly on the youth of this country by cutting funds for youth employment strategies.
Oooooh it's 'strategies' now. How about this for a strategy? Get off your lazy ass, go to the mall and drop off a few resumes. And remember to use the spell-checker. There. That didn't cost much and I bet it'd get quite a few yoofs a job.
They've crapped on the poor by ... denying them financial help to fight constitutional challenges in court
That would be the poor middle class gay couples in Toronto, who really needed the help. Or would it be the poor abortion clinic operators in New Brunswick, who really couldn't afford to pay their own lawyer. Because you know, it really makes sense for a government to pay people to try to undo the laws they just made.
That's a whole lot of crap from Calgary, and we at DTP are crapped out for the night after that. Back to the Fuller's. Cheers.
If Joe manages to stay in as far as the convention, does he see himself playing kingmaker, perhaps clinching the deal for Rae and getting a plum job (Deputy Leader?) for himself? I, and Tories everywhere must be salivating at the prospect.
Rae and Volpe in charge of the Liberals... Go on, dare to dream....
About 32 per cent of those surveyed correctly calculated the amount of carbohydrates in a bottle of pop containing 2.5 servings, the researchers report in the November issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.On the radio this morning, a Canadian dietician actually said that for a packet of crackers where the serving size is given as four crackers, people can't work out how much fat or carbohydrate is in two or six crackers.
Colour me stupid, but isn't this cause for concern with our education system rather than with food labelling. Or will it all be OK when the first of the McSquinty Liberals' "20 students per class" crowd graduate... because of course, they'll all be literate and numerate, won't they?
Monday, September 25, 2006
If any readers would care to indulge my current diesel dreams by helping me buy a VW Touraeg TDI, feel free to leave a comment, and I'll send Paypal details :)
"History repeats itself. Whenever an Italian-Canadian tries to go up and succeed in politics, somebody tries to do something to bring him down,"" said Gagliano, comparing Volpe's troubles to his own...Poor old Joe. All those donations from 11 year olds and the signing up dead party members - he's just trying to go up and succeed in politics, and nobody would object if he weren't Italian.
It's just a hunch, but if I wonder if the Volpe campaign might just be wishing they didn't have friends like Alfonso right now.
It's sad that a political party that has been removed from government largely on the basis of scandal - Adscam and Income Trusts - still clings to the old ways. Some of Volpe's recruits may be dead, but the morals of the entire party remain on life support, if not already dead.
What's really sad and still inexplicable is that a party like this can still count on 40% of Ontario voters going to the moral grave with them.
Friday, September 22, 2006
One name that caught my eye is that of Pat Dolan. Pat Dolan is a volunteer firefighter in Montague, and as such is naturally on the side of the current Reeve and Council when it comes to the Great Defamation Divide in the township.
However, the thing that makes Mr. Dolan's candidacy interesting is the fact that he is also the Deputy Chief of Police in the adjoining municipality, the town of Smiths Falls.
Section 46 of the Police Services Act, available here states:
46. No municipal police officer shall engage in political activity, except as the regulations permit. R.S.O. 1990, c. P.15, s. 46.The regulation concerned is O.Reg. 554/91, updated to O.Reg. 89/98. This regulation contains sections that permit police officers to stand for election and serve as municipal councillors, provided that there is no conflict of interest and that they do not involve themselves in matters relating to the Police Services Board. The officer need not take a leave of absence to campaign and need not resign if elected to municipal office under these specific conditions:
(3) Despite subsections (1) and (2), a municipal police officer may seek to become a candidate or may be a candidate in an election for municipal council without taking a leave of absence if,
(a) the election is in a municipality that does not receive police services from the municipality in which the police officer is employed; and
(b) seeking to become or being a candidate does not interfere with the police officer's duties as a police officer and does not place, or is not likely to place, the police officer in a position of conflict of interest. O. Reg. 89/98, s. 1.
7. (1) A municipal police officer who is elected in a federal or provincial election or in an election for municipal council shall immediately resign as a police officer. O. Reg. 89/98, s. 1.
(2) Despite subsection (1), a municipal police officer need not resign as a municipal police officer upon being elected in an election for municipal council if,
(a) the police officer is elected a member of the municipal council of a municipality that does not receive police services from the municipality in which the police officer is employed; and
(b) being a member of the municipal council does not interfere with the police officer's duties as a police officer or does not place, or is not likely to place, the police officer in a position of conflict of interest. O. Reg. 89/98, s. 1.
However, the preceding section of the regulations, section 5, specifically excludes Chiefs and Deputy Chiefs of police from the following sections:
5. Sections 6, 7 and 8 apply to a municipal police officer other than a chief of police or a deputy chief of police. O. Reg. 89/98, s. 1.So it would appear from this that Mr. Dolan may not stand and may not be elected as a councillor in Montague, unless he has left his position as Deputy Chief of Police in Smiths Falls. I am talking to the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services and trying to confirm if this is a correct interpretation of the regulations.
Thursday, September 21, 2006
From the minutes of a council meeting on July 4th, 2006:
Councillor Carroll also noted that personal issues concerning members of Council were being disseminated by members of the MRA and requested that these people stop.In other words, nobody in the township should have access to, or the right to disseminate, any information about their elected councillors or the activities thereof?
And in a petty and vindictive move, the Council refused to offer the use of a community hall for an all-candidate's debate in the upcoming election - minutes from the August 1st, 2006 Council meeting:
b) Montague Ratepayers’ Association - Request to waive the fee for use of Rosedale HallLet's put this in perspective. It's OK for the Council to waste $70,000 of the taxpayers money in a futile pursuit of one individual; it's not OK for them to spend $100 or so to enable those same taxpayers to question them?
MOVED BY: B. Eckersley RESOLUTION NO: 170-2006
SECONDED BY: L. Richards DATE: August 1st, 2006
That Council waive the rental fee on Rosedale Hall for the Montague Ratepayers Association, with respect to the all-candidates night they plan to hold on October 11th, 2006.
The manner in which this township is run, and the behaviour of its elected Council is something that is deserving of greater exposure in the blogosphere and the media.
As an experiment in 'citizen journalism', The Doggerel Party will blog the entire municipal election campaign in this little backwater of Canada, starting when nominations close on September 29th.
One of the hosts, Richard Hammond, was involved in a high-speed crash yesterday while attempting to set a new British land speed record. Critically injured, he was airlifted to hospital. A day later, he is said to be 'improving'. The 'Hamster' is infectiously enthusiastic and is also the butt of most of the jokes on the show, something he tolerates with good humour.
Any Canadian fans of the show can get updates at the Top Gear site: www.topgear.com and can send good wishes to Richard and his family at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
As a reference, before this case goes to court, readers can see photos taken inside the barn at Paws 'R' Us here and see this earlier post for background on the case.
Again, make up your own mind as to whether this place is a 'puppy mill', or whether you would want to buy a dog born and raised under those conditions. Your best bet for a dog is always a responsible, ethical breeder who belongs to their breed club and the Canadian Kennel Club. Paws 'R' Us and others like them do not sell purebred dogs and the breed 'registries' they use, such as the North American Pet Dog Registry, are a scam.
Friday, September 15, 2006
Ottawa police arrived at the scene of a suspected hostage taking in the south west of that city, waited 14 hours, and lost the suspect who escaped at some unknown hour by some unknown means.
An Ottawa police spokesperson says this will not affect the public's perception of the Ottawa Police Service. Really.
Do yourself a favor; get a great, humourous and enjoyable calendar, support a just cause, and slap the Ontario Fiberals in the eye, all at the same time. $20. Cheap at twice the price.
The Ottawa Citizen agreed with the couple in this editorial, arguing that the testing process and subsequent euthanasia protects only the Humane Society. The Humane Society argues that adopting out aggressive dogs doesn't help anyone - there is a danger of someone being hurt and in the end the dogs typically get returned, sometimes multiple times.
The Citizen has been full of letters on the subject, mostly siding with the aggrieved finders of the Lhasa Apso. Most of these letters seem to come from folks who don't know too much about dogs and who haven't thought too much about the issue. The dog in question failed multiple parts of the 14-point aggression test. Yet the public instinct is to blame the Humane Society for the dog's death.
In reality of course, the blame lies with the backyard breeder who bred the dog, and gave it its first socialization in the world, with the owners who abused and mistreated the dog so as to turn it into a fearful and aggressive creature - or at least failed to address those traits when they observed them. And it lies with whoever dumped the dog on Ottawa's streets as a stray.
The blame also lies with those who support this way of producing and raising dogs. Those people who buy dogs at pet stores, or from newspaper ads. People who don't educate themselves before they buy a dog. People who treat dogs as something to be bought and dumped on a whim. Probably some of those same letter writers.
The problem of unwanted dogs will always be with us. The Humane Society does the best they can do with the hard realities of the dumped, the stray and the unmanageable dogs that arrive at their doors every day. Until people wake up and become responsible pet buyers and owners, there will always be dangerous dogs on our streets. In the end, letting the most dangerous of those unwanted animals go is a service to the public and the animals themselves, much as it may be unpopular with the fluffy bunny brigade of letter writers.
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
I thought PM Harper's address last night was excellent; he (or his team) has a gift for to the point, brief, simple language that gets his point across with minimum fluff. Such a refreshing change from his flannel-meister predecessor. Of course, the impact of the address was lost in much of the media coverage I saw; CBC in particular dressed it up in 'commentary' designed to keep pushing their out-of-Afghanistan agenda.
I don't have anything to say specifically on the 9/11 anniversary that hasn't already been said.
I heard an excellent call to the CBC phone-in Ontario Today yesterday from someone who commented that the Muslim community should strive to understand where some of the fear and alienation they might have experienced since 9/11 comes from. Not that racially based fear or dislike is right but it is understandable. I think this is a distinction that has been lost. The Muslim community (and more so the left-wing pundits and politicians) blame only white Canadians; they don't place any blame on the terrorists who created the situation in the first place. People need to understand each other before they can resolve issues between them.
As we are preoccupied with waiting for blood test results on a dog who has such a huge place in our hearts here, I am thinking of how immediate events often obscure what could be argued to be the bigger picture. It's been impossible for me to make time to blog about politics or anything else really, while I am trying to take care of a family member who I love wholeheartedly. It doesn't seem to matter as much when someone you love might be dying.
I think something similar happens in world events. The CBC, Layton, all the pundits, are preoccupied with immediate day-by-day events in Afghanistan and have completely lost the wider picture and context in which it all happens. The Afghan context of liberation from the Taliban's oppression is lost. The global context of 9/11 and its aftermath is lost. They focus only on today's bomb or today's death. Even their 'interpretation' misses the big picture completely. This seems to me to be human nature, and it's understandable. However, like the racial profiling Muslims complain of, at the level of global events in the media, it's understandable but not right. The media should try to check the instinct to look only at the immediate, and offer bigger pictures as a counterbalance.
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Sara at Choice for Childcare digs up a historical gem from Ken Dryden, erstwhile Minister For State Child Assimilation.
Staying on the child theme, what is with Suri Cruise?
Stephen Taylor's leak of the NDP policy resolutions is rich pickings; let's nationalize everything in sight, because that worked so well in the USSR and in 1970s Britain, and it's doing wonders for Venezuala as we speak. Let's accuse Canadian troops of atrocities in Afghanistan, 'cos you know, that's the kind of Fascist pigs they are. Truth outdoes fiction once again.
Premier McShifty of Ontario announces he is 50% towards achieving 90% of a campaign promise on class sizes. Well, 45% is a pass mark, isn't it? Apparently, Ontario schools don't have any money for textbooks, because it's all gone to paying off the teaching unions, but as long as the class size is small, I'm sure the book thing won't hurt too much. It's not as if all Ontario high-school graduates can read, anyway.
Foreign news headlines: Canadians blame US for 9/11 attacks ; NDP draft policy resolutions blame Israel for everything.
Everything old is new again: Alex Munter proposes creating borough councils under the umbrella of Ottawa's mega-city. How this differs from the two-tier local government that was just abolished, and how productive it was to spend billions moving to one tier, only to spend more to go back to two, is not documented.
A new Royal Ottawa Hospital (Ottawa's psychiatric hospital) is set to open amid glitz and glamour. Watch for a feature article, coming soon here at TDPC, on this jewel of the mental healthcare system.
Sunday, September 03, 2006
Saturday, September 02, 2006
Ontario's numbers are not great either, but then Ontario is Ontario, and the love affair with the Liberals in my home province is so completely and utterly baffling that I'm not sure what could ever be done about it. It defies reason.
However, I think the drop in support we're seeing is reflective of a loss of focus and a lack of clarity in the government's communications over the summer. The five priorities were all well understood and the government had excellent focus on those for the first 100 days in office. The second 100 days have largely been defined by foreign policy, and hence by the dreaded word 'complexity'.
Now, as one of my fellow BT's pointed out the other day (and my apologies, I've forgotten who it was) 'complexity' is beloved of the left-wing. They love to tell us that we're 'simplistic' in dealing with 'complexity'. In point of fact, of course, it's the left-wing who come up with simple solutions in the face of complexity, because any complex situation they encounter is always handled using the path of least resistance: Withdraw from Afghanistan; Lay down all weapons in Lebanon instantly; Give the Caledonia protestors what they're asking for.
Where 'complexity' does serve a purpose, however is with the electorate. It seems to me that if the opposition can convince the public that an issue is 'complex' then the public will in large part turn off the thinking part of their brain on the basis that it's too complex for them to really get to grips with. In turn then, they naturally think any solution must also be 'complex' and if the government is being too simplistic, well then the opposition must have better answers.
I think this phenomenon is observable with the Afghan mission; most Canadians don't understand it, but they are convinced it's 'complex'. Therefore, they're not quite sure what should be done, but they are somehow worried that what should be done is different in some unknown way from what is being done.
However, after 13 years of 'complex files' being dealt with by means of woolly thinking, focus groups and least resistance paths, simplicity in government was welcome. I think that's where we did so well those first 100 days. The Conservatives own simplicity; the other parties are not equipped to deal with it. We need to make the next 100 days about simple, clear, focused issues again - and we need to show Canadians that things needn't be complex. Sometimes a simple solution really is just that, a real, honest to goodness simple solution. We need to convince the public that such a thing is possible.
As an engineer, I know that simplicity is to be preferred to all else. Simplicity leads to almost everything else that is desirable; elegance, efficiency, reliability, predictability, manageability, and so on.
We need simple goals with simple messages to the electorate and we need to show that 'complex' is often just an opposition smokescreen against doing the right thing.
Keep It Simple and we will see those polling numbers change direction.
The same section also carries a story about tankless water heaters; this one is probably from about 1990 or earlier.
And Canada Post just sent me an email confirming delivery of an item I picked up at the post office three days ago.
Isn't it great that this interweb thingy brings us such up-to-the-minute information all the time?
Friday, September 01, 2006
Given the complications that arise when same sex couples use "assisted human reproduction" (a euphemism for a certain kitchen implement that I just learned tonight!) to conceive and bear a child, there are often multiple people involved in the creation of these new lives. Now, several lesbian partners have gone to court to have themselves legally declared parents, in addition to the two biological parents who actually created the children in question.
Now, the law already allows for same-sex couples to be declared joint parents of a child by adoption; this case is about allowing three parents for the same child. Where next, with all of this, and just how selfish can these people get?
If anyone can satisfactorily explain how having three legal parents is going to benefit the child, go for it. Family law and custody battles are bad enough with two; with three parents in the picture there are nightmares ahead for these kids.
The departure of the only rural, conservative voice from the campaign for Ottawa mayor reminds me of this scene. Terry Kilrea has withdrawn, and thrown his support between Liberal establishment figure and incumbent Bob Chiarelli. All this to keep the left-wing Alex Munter out. This is not democracy in the sense of people voting for what they want; it is democracy where the people are being asked to vote for what they dislike least.
Whatever your view on the mayoral race, and I don't really have a strong one since I don't live in Ottawa, it's a sad day for democracy, and especially for the rural residents of Ottawa who are already under-represented and ill-served by the megacity.