Saturday, March 31, 2007

Congratulations Are In Order

to Montague township resident David Hickman who was a finalist in the CBC's Backyard Rink contest this year, with his rink made from recycled pallets and plastic.

Deja Vu, Again

The very first 'real' post on this blog was a discussion of the McGuinty government's response to the situation in Caledonia. Because everyone, children, dogs and adults tend to repeat patterns of behaviour that work for them, I predicted that we would see more and more groups using Caledonia tactics of confrontation, illegal occupation, vandalism and violence to achieve their ends.

Fast forward almost a year, and Caledonia 2 is developing in Deseronto, Ontario. Natives are occupying the site of a quarry that they have recently decided belongs to them and needs to be shut down. Native leader Shawn Brant said last week that "nothing in Deseronto is off limits," meaning that we can expect to see exactly the same situation there as is still going on in Caledonia.

When will McGuinty and the OPP step up and stop these kinds of tactics from working? When will we see laws being applied equally to native and non-native alike? Don't bother to answer; we already know he doesn't have it in him, 'it' being a spine.

Pet Food Recall Widens: Just What Is Safe?

The plot thickens at Menu Foods, with the FDA finding melamine in the food and in wheat gluten used to make it. The FDA could not repeat the earlier finding of the rat poison aminopterin in the food. The suggestion has been made that the recall now be widened to include dry food manufactured by Menu Foods, although this is being resisted so far.

Hill's Pet Nutrition has now recalled one of its prescription diet dry foods, because they used wheat gluten from the same source as Menu Foods - incidentally Hill's is also based in Kansas, alongside one of the Menu Foods plants. Who knew Kansas was the pet food capital of the US? Be that as it may, Hill's is a widely trusted 'premium' brand and the affected food from them is a prescription diet sold only by vets. While this recall is precautionary, it begs the question when it comes to feeding our pets, just what can we trust at this point?

One of the most surprising and troubling aspects of this whole thing for me was the sheer size of the brand list supplied by Menu Foods. From cheapest store labels to Eukanuba, there are 90 brands made in the same plant. So much for consumer choice. It's as if when you went to buy a car, they were all Fords, no matter what brand you thought you were buying.

For the record, the corgis are fed Merrick Wilderness Blend, which as far as we can tell is actually manufactured by the company whose name is on the label. Angie likes to feel she's doing her bit for the environment with this food, as she believes it is made from real wilderness.

UPDATE: The recall widens yet again, with Purina in the US recalling some Alpo foods.

Steve Janke is doing an excellent job researching this whole thing, including the toxicity or otherwise of melamine. Reading his work makes me think we're (a) a long way from knowing the truth about the causative agent here and (b) a long way from the end of the recall.

Monday, March 26, 2007

And On The Other Hand

... while CBC was plugging the Mustard report on childcare issues, another report featured on CNN finds that:

The more time that children spent in child care, the more likely their sixth-grade teachers were to report problem behavior. Also, children who got good quality child care before entering kindergarten had better vocabulary scores in the fifth grade than did youngsters who received lower quality care.

The findings come from the largest study of child care and development conducted in the United States. The 1,364 children in the analysis had been tracked since birth as part of a study by the National Institutes of Health.

In the study's latest installment, released Monday, researchers evaluated whether characteristics observed between kindergarten and third grade were still present in fifth grade or sixth grade. The researchers found that the vocabulary and behavior patterns did continue, though many other characteristics did dissipate.

The researchers said that the increase in vocabulary and problem behaviors was small, and that parenting quality was a much more important predictor of child development.

(Emphasis mine.)

Warning: 70% of Canadians Are Defective

So says 'renowned' childcare expert Dr. Fraser Mustard. Mustard and acolytes just released another report calling for the government to spend billions of dollars on a national network of early childhood institutions. The report is based on science showing the importance of the early years in forming children's future 'trajectories' - which is perfectly valid - but it then poses only one solution; the institutional solution. The option of giving support to parents to raise their own children in their own homes is again ignored.

Mustard goes further in media interviews. This morning he told CBC's The Current that only 30% of Canadian parents are 'adequate', and he has this quote in the Red Star this morning:
"Only about one-third of the population are actually highly competent parents, the rest are okay, but about 17 per cent are godawful," said Mustard.

Presumably, it follows from this that since Mustard's utopian vision of a National Socialist childcare system has not yet occurred in Canada, 70% of us Canadians were raised by 'okay' or 'godawful' parents and are therefore defective as individuals, prone to crime, social irresponsibility, behaviour problems, addiction, and general badness. So watch out, people, it's a jungle out there.

Beverley Smith did a masterful job of exposing Mustard's junk science on The Current and really got the point across that the only fair childcare system in Canada will be one that respects parents rather than tossing them into the garbage can, and one that respects choice rather than turning our children into robots of the state.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Just Sometimes, The Free Market Sucks

First, we discover that Menu Foods factories in the US have been importing wheat from China rather than use local product. Then, we find that they clearly had not done their homework in terms of the permitted pesticides in China vs. the USA, and that their quality control of incoming ingredients is sadly lacking. The consequence seems likely to be the death of many pets across North America - some estimates as high as the thousands.

Then, on the CBC's business report, we find that this is actually good news. Units in Menu Foods Income Fund rose 30% today with the news that the toxin that has been killing pets is identified. The reporter explains that this is because it means that (a) the incident is 'isolated' and that nothing is fundamentally wrong at Menu Foods, and (b) it means the liability will be shared with the supplier of the tainted wheat.

I'm a believer in captalism and the free market, but there's no denying that sometimes the markets do things that make me shake my head.

Rat Poison in Chinese Wheat Caused Pet Poisonings

From CNN: The toxin in canned food that has killed pets across North America has been identified as a rat poison and is believed to have entered the food with wheat imported from China. The use of the particular poison is banned in the US. Story here and here.

The Menu Foods factories under investigation include one in Kansas, not a million miles from the USA wheat belt or the Canadian prairies - and certainly closer to both of those places than to China.

New Comments Policy

As things can still get out of hand around here where Montague issues are concerned, the new comments policy is as follows:

For Montague related posts and discussion, anonymous comments will no longer be permitted. Comments that do not provide some kind of reasonable identifying information, like, say, a name, will be deleted.

For all other topics, all comments are welcome.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Origins of The Doggerel Party

Somebody with some time on their hands at around 4am yesterday posted this comment and this one. I'll reproduce them here to save you the trouble of clicking through:
Clive, Gary and David put up with personal attacks for 4 yrs. Dianne for only 3 months!!! I remember alot of attacks on this site. About a lot of different individuals, unfairly I will add. Some by yourself. The sooner you figure out the truth about Diane, the better Clive. I'm unsure about your continued loyalty to her? You've been so quick to judge so many others.

Just thought of something else. Did anyone help you start up this site, in May 06?

Let's quickly deal with the first point, before we move on to the more troubling implication of the second comment. I have no loyalty to Dianne Coates; I barely know her. I have no problem with anyone criticising her decisions or her actions, just as I have criticised those of Gary, David, and others - and on the matter in hand of the Page letter, Diane's too. I have also praised some actions of those people as well, where I agreed with them - including acknowledging the good work that Gary did for many years.

However, agree or disagree, you will not see anywhere that I either gloated along the lines of 'Diane's going down' or made veiled threats such as 'sleep with the fishes'. That crosses a line.

Secondly, I'm just going to offer readers three possible explanations for the start of this blog; you can all read and choose the one that suits you best.

Explanation 1

The story as told here of how I was inspired by Kate and others to begin blogging is true. The story here of how I decided to experiment by covering the Montague election is also true. I've been playing with computers since the age of 11, when I wrote my first programs on punched paper tape, so I didn't need any help setting up the blog, thanks very much.

Explanation 2

In May 2006, an evil group began meeting secretly in the loft of a disused alpaca shed, for the overthrow of the municipal government. We created an elaborate plan for the development of a blog that would destroy the political careers of the existing Montague councillors. I was very, very careful. I joined the Conservative party as a cover. I set up the blog in May with an innocent looking set of posts on unrelated topics. I joined the Blogging Tories group in June as another cover story. Very conveniently I knew that several other Blogging Tories had written about the Montague lawsuit so I was able to use the excuse of updating the story as a cover to begin writing about Montague issues.

In August, all the members of this secret group rented identical red Geo Storm convertibles and rendezvoused at the Kemptville Tim Hortons to plot the future of the Doggerel Party. As extra cover, I began featuring fictious dogs in the blog, even remembering to pay local vets over $2,000 in medical expenses to make the story look good. When the election came, everyone pretended very convincingly not to know who I was, where I lived or what I looked like.

Explanation 3

I was visited in May 2006 by a group of aliens. They abducted me, took me up the Pinery road and brainwashed me into setting up a blog.

Special Offer: The first 50 readers to choose Explanation 2 or 3 will be sent a complimentary and exclusive Doggerel Party tin foil helmet.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Cat Offsets : The Corgis Want In

So Kate thinks she can corner the market with her Feline NeutralTM Cat Offsets Program. The Corgis are busy applying for the Ontario franchise of Kate's new venture, but they have put their heads together and are willing to go one step further. Following extensive research at Doggerel Party Labs, the corgis believe that they will shortly be able to offer a Cat Sequestration program, for those large feline enterprises for whom offsets just won't cut it.

Details of the cat capture and storage technology are, naturally, a Doggerel Party trade secret, but the chief designer, Angie, assures me that there will be no danger of the cats escaping for many thousands of years, by which time there will be a genetically engineered super-race of cat-proof songbirds and the problem will no longer exist.

Tip o' the ears to Neo.

UPDATE: Commenter 'EBD' at Small Dead Animals has uncovered the Corgi's most secret project; the cheese-flavoured cat.

UPPIERDATE: Typically, the songbird-problem deniers are coming out of the woodwork now.

The Real Cost of Hybrids

If you're really concerned about the environment, your best vehicle is still a diesel. Thinking of a hybrid? Think again...

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Montague Council : The Fire Is Out

Well, I went to tonight's council meeting expecting some sparks to fly around the Page issue. The council chambers were completely full at least 20 minutes prior to the meeting and by the time things got underway there were about 20 people standing out in the hallway. Foolishly I thought this might be due to the Page issue; I should have realized that there is one thing even more important to Montague residents than The Lawsuit - and that's hunting.

Most of tonight's meeting was taken up with presentations on behalf of hunters regarding two issues before Council: Whether to allow Sunday gun hunting in Montague (Council voted to ask MNR to pass a regulation enabling this) and what to do about the current bylaw restricting firearms discharge within 450m of designated plans of subdivision, schools, etc.

To a man (and woman) the audience was pro-hunting, which meant that the presenters were preaching to the choir - at some length. Council eventually decided to review the firearms discharge bylaw at their April 3rd meeting. To accomodate the expected crowds, this meeting will take place at Rosedale Hall, subject to availability.

Bill Eckersley told the meeting how he encountered a group out gun hunting on Sunday while campaigning for the last election, asking "Should I have called the OPP and lost a vote?" Bill's definitely a politician; the more I watch him, the more artful I think he is. The fake "I'm just an ordinary English bloke" shtick is a cover for an extremely shrewd political operator - even if he does tend to go on a bit.

So... the moment of truth regarding the Page matter came, with Murray Hackett advising Council that the decision to re-open discussion rested initially with John MacTavish. He decided not to discuss the issue, saying it was time to put the whole thing behind the township. No other councillor disagreed, and that was that. The issue really is closed, over, done like dinner.

The rest of the meeting was routine housekeeping stuff - severances, a policy on charitable grants (only organizations directly serving Montague will be considered) and a policy on rental rates for Rosedale Hall. Mundane, dare I say boring? Can we truly hope for boring council meetings in Montague? Oh happy day....

Monday, March 19, 2007

Hershey Canada: It's Not Too Late

Mike at Rideau Reflections has been doing an excellent job chronicling the fight to save the Hershey plant in Smiths Falls. Please check out his blog for this story, and please take the Hershey Pledge organized by Conservative MP Scott Reid. There's enough Blogging Tories readers to make a real difference.

It's fun to screw with David Suzuki's website polls after Kate draws attention to them - but think what you guys can do with a real cause here. Help us save our people, our economy and our town. Send a message to Hershey, PA on behalf of all your fellow Canadians.

The Corgis Digest The Budget

Well, we didn't see a whole lot of that coming. Here at TDPC HQ we are having three reactions to the budget. On a gut level, I'm very disappointed. Being a Conservative and a conservative, the spending spree seems reckless and the lack of tax cuts is very disappointing. While I didn't realistically hope for income splitting, I was hoping for more of a tax break for middle income families. The telling thing for me was how pleased the pundits on CBC were with the whole thing - even rent-an-economist Don Drummond had grudging praise, and former Sask. NPD finance minister someone-or-other was pleased too. For true conservatives, there's no worse thing than praise from the CBC.

The second reaction is on a practical level, looking at individual measures. The child tax credit will be useful, but more tax relief would have been better. Likewise the spousal amount increase. It'll make some difference, but it doesn't do much for horizontal tax equity. The disparity between single income and dual income families remains huge. Hard to believe there is no general income tax relief, and disappointing to see the capital gains tax promise deferred.

I'm pleased with the 'green car' package and especially pleased to see the purchase rebate being based on actual fuel consumption rather than a particular automotive technology. I really hope that this program can be harmonized with the provincial initiatives in this area. For example, in Ontario, the provincial rebate applies only to hybrid vehicles, meaning that a Honda or Toyota hybrid qualifies, even though it burns more fuel than the Smart fortwo or my Golf TDI, neither of which are eligible for the provincial rebate. Thankfully both of those diesel powered vehicles will be eligible for the new federal rebate. This should provide a good incentive for us to catch up with Europe in terms of fuel efficient vehicles, many of which are also superior in performance and refinement to what's offered in North America.

The third reaction is to stand back and look at the politics of the thing - which is obviously what drove the budget this year. Politically, this budget is pretty much bullet-proof. Is that a smart move? I don't know... I wonder if we'd have been better off leaving something for the opposition parties to fight over; as it is, the Liberals, NDP and Bloc have cut a back room deal that lets them all achieve their political aims as well - the Libs and Dippers saving face by voting against the budget with no danger of an election, the Bloc by claiming victory in their fight for fair treatment for Quebec. Politically this budget works for everyone, not just the Conservatives. Will PMSH engineer an election once the NDP and Liberals have voted against the budget? It looks less and less likely to me. So the political landscape doesn't really change and the Tories will have to work hard to keep selling the budget, to keep it fresh in the memories of voters.

Overall, I'm disappointed, but willing to reserve judgement, if at the end of the day it keeps Canada in the hands of good government and strengthens the chance of a majority for such a government in the future.

Microsoft Outlook : An Update

Microsoft, it turns out, does have a tool to update your Outlook calendar for the DST changes - supposedly this will reschedule appointments that occur in the three week period between old and new DST times.

Great, I thought. Download... install... run the Time Zone Update Tool. Out of 181 appointments it analyzed in my calendar, the tool modified the time of just two.

St. Patrick's Day and Halloween.

An 80mpg Fish

I recently test drove a Smart fortwo at my local Benz dealership and was very impressed on the whole. The tiny car feels much bigger than you'd think, and you don't really notice that there's nothing behind you as you drive - probably due to the fact that the little 799 cc diesel is rumbling away back there. The car drives nicely, corners well and is great fun to drive - a little like a go-kart. I won't be buying one, however, because the one major downside is a ride that is firmer than the Tory vote in Alberta. For my long distance commute over frost-heaving country roads, this would just be too tiring.

Mercedes is bringing diesel power to more of its range in North America this year; the first of the BlueTec clean diesels will debut in Mercedes soon and in Volkswagens in 2008. With Canada just finding its inner Green, perhaps people might wake up to the benefits of diesel power soon.

All of which is a fancy lead up to Mercedes latest eco-concept. The Bionic is modelled on a fish, of all things, but apparently travels well on land, with 0-100km/h in 8 seconds and 80mpg fuel economy - and all without a battery or hybrid system in sight.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

It's 2pm Eastern Daylight Time

... 3pm in Halifax and 3:30pm in Newfoundland. And God knows what time it is in Microsoft Outlook. Users are reporting 'nightmare' experiences with calendar appointments in Microsoft Outlook with the introduction of early daylight saving. While most Windows installations have been patched, Outlook requires various highly specific fixes depending upon configuration, whether users are running Exchange server, whether they use Web Access, or whether they have recurring appointments in their calendar.

Microsoft's own documentation on the issue has this wonderful advice:
To minimize confusion for users during the extended DST period, follow these steps:

1. When a meeting is organized during the extended DST period, write the correct meeting time in the subject line or the body of the message. For example, include the following text in the subject line or the body of the message: Project planning meeting – 8:30 a.m. PST

2. Consider any calendar items in the extended DST period to be suspect. If you are not sure, verify the correct time with the organizer. [emphasis added]

3. To help keep track of the calendar items that are scheduled during the extended DST period, print your weekly calendars for the extended DST period.

The world's largest software company can't reliably keep a calendar application consistent, despite a bloated 100MB of software. With half my appointments now at the wrong time, and half correct, but no way to tell them apart, I'm just really glad I don't live in Saskatchewan.

On a related note, I see that my cellphone is reporting a different time depending upon what cell I'm in. Seems like some have been updated and others not.

Bittersweet Don Martin

An excellent column on the Hershey closure from National Post columnist Don Martin.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Why Did Corby Get All The Scots?

GayandRight links to a fascinating piece in the Daily Telegraph (UK) about the Prison Service relocating an office from the Northamptonshire town of Corby to nearby Leicester, in order to meet their 'diversity' target - Corby being over 90% white, and Leicester... not so much.

Now, it just so happens that Corby is not so very far from my home town, which means I remember the standing joke around the area. A quick disclaimer; this was a long time ago and Britain at that time was very far from politically correct. Readers who are offended by the following joke should read someone else's blog.

Why did Corby get all the Scots, and Kettering get all the blacks?? Because Kettering had first choice.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Where's My Money?

TD Canada Trust has managed to lose a large sum of my money. An international wire transfer from the UK was received at TD in Toronto, they acknowledge, but the forwarding of the funds to my Ottawa branch appears not to have been too successful. Toronto says they sent it; Ottawa says they don't have it. Despite the acknowledgement that the bank has my money, they won't put it into my account until they find it. Apparently this would be considered a 'loan' for which I don't qualify.

This is disturbing enough, but then I read this post at Canadian Blue Lemons, which draws attention to the fact that the current Chief Economist and CBC rent-a-gob Don Drummond was a lackey of Paul Martin's at the Finance department, and that John McCallum was previously Chief Economist at TD. All of which begs the question:

Is my money in a brown envelope in a Montreal restaurant??

More Fireworks In Montague

Well, I missed the last council meeting, unfortunately, so this little rant will be based on the reporting in Smiths Falls This Week. Apparently, Don Page has written to Council and asked them to pay an addition $7,500 in legal fees he incurred in the infamous lawsuit.

Council began to discuss this letter, but was interrupted by Bill Eckersley, who reminded them of the resolution passed at their first meeting, which stated that Council would put the matter of the lawsuit behind them and would "not initiate further action or discussion... unless legal proceedings dictate otherwise."

This now leaves Council with two problems. The first is a question of logic. Don Page's letter requires a response, whether 'yes', 'no' or something in between. How can Council reach a decision on the response without discussing the issue, and how can they discuss it when Mr. Eckersley's ill-thought out resolution has painted them into a corner? We may be treated to the ungainly spectacle of Council resolving themselves out of a resolution. A productive use of time, no doubt. Still, there is a silver lining in all of this - it is a first for Mr. Eckersley to prefer few words of discussion to many... many... many... many.... many...

The second question is what Council's response should be. I'm not in favour of Council paying Mr. Page any more legal costs. Firstly, the court decided that the $15,000 he already received was a reasonable amount; for Council to pay more would be to disregard the outcome of the lawsuit and the verdict of the court. Second, Mr. Page's friends mounted a legal defence fund for him at the time; we'd need to be sure that this fund was included before his out-of-pocket expenses were calculated. Third, while I think Mr. Eckersley's resolution was poorly worded, I agree with its spirit. The matter of the lawsuit is closed and should be laid to rest. Fourth, as a taxpayer, I feel that the previous council's blunders have cost us enough.

Having said all that, the next meeting of Council promises to be interesting. And on a final note, if I were Lita Richards, I'd be feeling that I peaked way too soon with that letter to This Week. She'd have had another piece of ammunition if she'd only waited a few days....

Monday, March 05, 2007

OHS Reformer: Taking Her Ball and Going Home

Beth Greenhorn, long-time Ottawa rabble-rouser and chief attack dog in a failed coup d'├ętat at the Ottawa Humane Society, has had enough, is taking her toys and going home. Maybe now the shelter can get on with helping animals instead of defending itself against a smear campaign by three shrill individuals and their tame journalist friends.

One Liberal Broken Promise Rescues Another?

The federal Liberals' inaction on the environment might just be the saviour Dalton McGuinty is hoping for. If global warming can eliminate winter entirely, nobody will notice that the native occupation in Caledonia, which McGuinty said must not continue through the winter has, er, continued through the winter.

Mike thinks the federal government should be playing a bigger role; however, it seems likely from my research that the true problem is that Six Nations does not have any legal claim at all to the land in question. It's hard for the federal government to negotiate from a position of right with a group that is getting away with all kinds of criminal activity. Unlike McGuinty's government, our current federal leadership has some kind of spine and some kind of moral compass; they're not about to have land extorted from them. That being the case, the stalemate will likely continue unless forceful measures are used.

If the spring offensive does come in Caledonia, I think we will see McGuinty finally begin to pay an electoral price for his weakness; and public opinion will begin to harden against the natives. My hunch is that the occupation has achieved all it can do for the Six Nations and that everyone's interests, including theirs, would be best served at this point by withdrawal from the land.

Bank Fees: Time For A Shakeup

Fellow BT's have been pooh-poohing Jim Flaherty's efforts to get the big banks to explain their hefty ATM fees. I, however, recall the imposition of these fees in the not too distant past.

It used to be that only independent ATMs charged the convenience fee; this was to pay operators such as convenience stores or gas station operators for hosting the machines. Then somebody at the big banks noticed; one-by-one the big banks introduced the $1.50 fee. Royal Bank led the way, as I recall, followed by CIBC, then Scotia and TD. (Royal seems to lead the way in all forms of new fees, as far as I can tell).

This is a case where the free market allows the banks to level up to a price, not down; if they all do it, consumers have no choice. The answer, in my mind, lies not in regulation or government pressure to eliminate fees, but in throwing open the doors to Canada's antiquated banking system with deregulation.

Margaret Thatcher's government deregulated consumer banking in the UK in the mid 1980s. Suddenly, all institutions - mutual societies, insurance companies, foreign banks, etc. could all offer retail banking services: chequing and savings accounts, Visa and Mastercards, personal loans, etc. The big four banks suddenly experienced real competition. Service fees disappeared almost overnight and free banking was the norm for at least a decade. It's time to open up the Canadian retail banking market to competition.

A cartel of four gigantic banks does not a competition make. Let the insurance companies and the Chase's, Citibanks, HSBCs, INGs, etc. of the world operate Canadian retail banks and then we'd have true competition.

Scientists Baffled By Montague Phenomenon

Doggerel Party scientists, taking a break from their ongoing research into sausage acquisition techniques, have noticed a surprising and alarming phenomenon in Montague Township. While sniffing the air regularly for their sausage research, the corgis have discovered sharp, unexplained spikes of carbon dioxide emission.

Closer evaluation reveals that these spikes are concentrated on the first and third Tuesdays of each month; however, in an apparent anomaly, no such spike was observed on Tuesday 20th February. As Tuesday 6th March draws close, TDPC researchers will be watching closely and hoping to pinpoint the source of the damaging hot air more closely.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

In The Finest Traditions

... of the service.

Latest Green Policy Initiative: Tin Foil Helmets for All

From Saturday's Letters to the Editor in the Ottawa Citizen:
Paul Hellyer is correct that governments should come clean about UFOs. And he is right extraterrestrials possess technology that could save us from global climate change. Yes, we need and want that knowledge, but Mr. Hellyer assumes that extraterrestrials would be interested in sharing it with us. If they are as intelligent as he indicates, then they would be silly to trust such treacherous
and warlike humans as us.

There's more, but it's not worth the space.

Loonies. Driving the issue of the next election. We're not making this up.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Welcome Mike

If you enjoy The Doggerel Party, then I strongly suggest you head over and pay a visit to a newcomer on the scene. Mike at Rideau Reflections has been an active commenter and regular contributor here, and has finally taken the plunge into blogging for himself. For smart, insightful and opinionated coverage of events in the Rideau valley, there's not a better place to go. And I also know that when Mike weighs in on the federal or provincial scene, it's well worth listening to what he has to say.

Welcome to the blogosphere, Mike. I hope you get as much out of it as I have.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

It Was Too Quiet....

Well, just when we thought we could breathe a sigh of relief that old feuds were beginning to die away in Montague, former councillor Lita Richards rises from the political grave to offer her unsolicited opinions to Smiths Falls This Week. Ms. Richards has 'concerns' about how the new council is, or is not, living up to election campaign promises. Let's take a look.

Firstly, she comments that the new council has as many in-camera sessions as the old, so far. This, it must be said, is indisputable, however, council is only going in-camera when legally required to do so. Rightly or wrongly, there was a perception that the previous council used in-camera sessions more liberally than they had to. The new council is at least open about when and why in-camera sessions are required. However, it does seem that this is a case where new councillors are discovering that their election promise might not be so easy to live up to. Score one for Ms. Richards.

Secondly Ms. Richards 'hears' that John MacTavish is relatively silent in council meetings; I have to agree that this has been my observation in the limited number of meetings I attended so far. I did not vote for Mr. MacTavish, and as I said at the time, I was very surprised by his victory. Score two for Ms. Richards.

Thirdly, Ms. Richards takes Peter Kavanagh to task for not following through on 'complete support for our seniors'. This from a woman who as a councillor voted not to donate a mere $25 to the Forget-Me-Not club. The fact is the new council is taking time to consider and develop a policy for funding of all community groups and organizations, so that situations such as the petty rejection of the $25 by bitter and vindictive councillors should not occur in the future. Support for the seniors is strong, but council wants to get this one right, and so they should. Score one for council.

Fourthly, Mr. Kavanagh apparently did not attend a meeting about Rideau Regional in Smiths Falls recently, and this is apparently evidence that he has abandoned a campaign promise to fight for the RRC. No word on whether Mr. Kavanagh was actually invited to, or notified of this meeting. No word on who organized it, or attended. It could have been anything, official or unofficial - we don't know. Nor do we know if Mr. Kavanagh had County business at the time. On RRC, we know that various groups are fighting for a future, and our council is among them. Ms. Richards attempts to make it look otherwise are at best disingenuous. Score two for council.

Fifthly, Ms. Richards seems upset about the appointment of a new auditor, and makes the bizarre claim that this will result in a 3% tax increase. Given the experiences of recent years with all levels of government, and the lax fashion in which parts of township business were handled under the previous council, with no accountability required of township officials for money spent, I'm happy to see more safeguards. The 3% claim is bogus, I suspect, but even if true, it's buying accountability and certainly buying more than the $60,000 Ms. Richards voted to spend on a doomed and unconstitional assault on free speech. Score three for council.

Then (losing count) we move on to the best... an all out assault on the Montague Ratepayers Association. And here Ms. Richards exposes her essential hypocrisy. As we all have seen (and welcomed) the MRA has changed its leadership and is seeking to re-invent itself as a community organization, pursuing a number of very worthwhile initiatives. Isn't this what Ms. Richards and her fellow councillors wanted? Council minutes from Ms. Richards' time are full of questions about the MRA's community role. Now it seems Ms. Richards has changed her mind and doesn't want the MRA to do worthwhile and constructive things.

She points out that the new council voted themselves a pay increase, but doesn't mention that this is only due to her and her fellow lame duck councillors being petty and vindictive enough to roll back compensation - earning a stern editorial rebuke from the very paper in which she's writing now.

Ms. Richards accuses Dianne Coates of wanting a comparative review with other municipalities to see if compensation can be pushed higher. Here, Ms. Richards has overstepped the boundaries - if she'd been to council meetings instead of relying on hearsay, she'd know that the opposite was true. Dianne Coates voted against the increase for the new councillors, wanting the review to take place first to ensure that the increase would be in line with other local municipalities and not too high. I know, I was there. But why let truth get in the way of a good old personal vendetta?

Overall then, it seems the intention was to stir the pot and to keep old emnities alive in Montague. Way to go, Lita, thanks for the contribution. I think This Week might have done well to mention that Lita was a member of the previous council and is the girlfriend of the previous Reeve, but a careful read of what she wrote, as compared with the truth, might reveal that anyway.

Congratulations

From one Angela Hewitt to another, on her acceptance of her OBE from HM The Queen: