Wednesday, 31 October 2007

From Opportunism to Abstinence - Stéphane Dion and the Liberal Party

The Liberal Party has long been known to have no original ideas of it’s own, simply stealing policies from the Conservatives or New Democrats depending on the public mood.

When Stéphane Dion was elected party leader many thought he would be a leader that would not be remembered for anything. Little did they know he would take the party to new heights of opportunism as Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Abstainers.

The Liberal Party has apparently decided that since it does not agree with the policies of the Conservatives who form the government, nor with the policies of the New Democrats who oppose it, that their only option is to abstain from voting on all matters of confidence.

But they take their role as official abstainers seriously, these are not simple abstentions but ”whipped” abstentions on the government’s overall policy, as well as it’s financial policy.

Perhaps someone should remind Stéphane Dion and the Liberals that the role of the official opposition is to oppose the government and provide an alternative government in waiting. The Liberals have made it clear they are not ready to form an alternative government because they believe that they would not receive a mandate from the people to govern if an election was held at this time.

Perhaps they would have a better chance of winning an election and forming a government if they actually did their job as the official opposition by voting against the government’s policies that they claim to disagree with and putting forth alternative policies of their own, rather than being official abstainers.

If they are not prepared to do this the should call on the Speaker of the House to request Jack Layton and the New Democrats to take on the role of official opposition, in addition to that of effective opposition that they have already undertaken.

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

The City of Ottawa Website Sucks

Today I'm going to rant about the City of Ottawa Website. It may be fine for finding out when garbage day is and even for finding the cycling map but whenever I am looking for important information it is almost impossible to find. The most difficult information to find is the most important information - information on development proposals and planning. Sometimes if you know which council or committee meeting discussed the subject you can find it in the meeting minutes, but try looking for something based on the subject.

My most recent experience was trying to find information on the South March Highlands Management Plan. I understand public meetings are to be held on it soon, but there was nothing under Public Consultation or Environment or any other relevant website sections I could think of. The website search function only found a few passing references in documents to the fact that the city was going to draw up a management plan for the South March Highlands.

The website appears to be large and extensive but a lot of it is fluff and whenever I look for concrete information and documents I am completely unsuccessful.

Monday, 29 October 2007

Quitting Smoking Can Kill You and Global Warming is a Myth

Yes it is true - “giving up smoking can kill you”, and not only that, not smoking causes “neurotic depression, violent irritability, and obscene weight gain”, not to mention the fact that increased tobacco consumption is responsible for longer life expectancies.

Who would claim that - David Warren, writing in the Ottawa Citizen citing an article in Medical Hypotheses a non-peer reviewed journal in which authors pay to be published.

He also states:

“There is one more hypothesis with which I would like to leave my reader. It is that the kind of quack "science" that was used to ban smoking has now mutated into the kind that is used to flog global warming. It should have been resisted then; it should certainly be resisted now.”

It appears that Mr. Warren thinks that if he can convince us that smoking is good for us we will also believe that global warming is a myth.

And, just for the record, the Canadian Cancer Society states:

Health benefits of quitting

All kinds of smokers – men and women, young or old – can get health benefits from quitting. The minute you stop smoking, your body begins to clean itself of tobacco poisons. Here’s how:

* Within 8 hours, carbon monoxide levels drop in your body and oxygen levels in your blood increases.
* After 2 days, your sense of smell and taste begin to improve.
* Within 2 weeks to 3 months, your lungs work better making it easier to breathe.
* After 6 months, coughing, sinus congestion, tiredness and shortness of breath improve.
* After 1 year, your risk of a smoking-related heart attack is reduced by half.

The younger you are when you quit the greater the health benefits.

Quit and reduce the risk of cancer

Quit now and reduce the risk of developing cancer. In general, the longer you don't smoke the more you lower your risk.

* Within 10 years of quitting, the overall risk of an ex-smoker dying from lung cancer is cut in half.
* After 10 years, the overall risk of an ex-smoker developing cancer approaches that of a non-smoker.

Friday, 26 October 2007

Why I Like Bike Lanes

The first thing I should make clear is that I am not a hardcore roadie or commuter. I am more of a recreational cyclist who, when not riding dirt trails on my mountain bike, prefers to ride dedicated pathways on my hybrid. That being said, I still have occasion to ride on the roads and when I do I try to act as a vehicle following the same rules of the road.

I realize that many cyclists, as well as Citizens for Safe Cycling, are not big fans of bike lanes.

One of the reasons I am a fan of bike lanes is because, like it or not, bicycles and cars are not equal on the road. For one thing cars are faster, larger and heavier, and more importantly can do much more damage than bicycles. Read that to mean they can kill people.

Bicycles are also not equal legally and are required to move to the right to allow motor vehicles (and horses) to pass. The Highway Traffic Act states:

“Every person on a bicycle or motor assisted bicycle who is overtaken by a vehicle or equestrian travelling at a greater speed shall turn out to the right and allow the vehicle or equestrian to pass and the vehicle or equestrian overtaking shall turn out to the left so far as may be necessary to avoid a collision. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 148 (6).”

Sharing the same roadway may be fine in theory but can be very scary in practice. I really appreciated having dedicated bike lanes when I was travelling down Hunt Club Road in heavy traffic with cars and big trucks whizzing past me at high speeds within one or two feet of me. However because I was in a dedicated lane, so that both myself as a cyclist as well as the car drivers had our own clearly dedicated space, I felt safe.

On the other hand travelling over the Queensway on Moodie Drive while it is under construction and the bike lanes are removed is a lot scarier than taking the same route with the bike lanes.

I realize that bike lanes are not perfect. My biggest complaint about bike lanes is when they disappear at intersections, creating a situation that can create real havoc as cyclists are almost pushed off the road where four directions and multiple lanes of traffic are converging. But let us fix the design problems, not eliminate bike lanes.

If we want more people to cycle we have to make it comfortable for them to cycle. While hardcore roadies and commuters may feel comfortable fighting with automobiles for a piece of the road, the average person we are trying to convince to use their bike instead of their car will be scared off of the road unless we make them feel safe on the road. In my humble opinion, dedicated bike lanes are an important way of making riding on the road safer for the average cyclist.

Thursday, 25 October 2007

Cycling and Mountain Biking in the Gatineau Park

A few weeks ago I was driving home from mountain biking along the Gatineau Parkway when I noticed just how little room there was for cyclists and motor vehicles to share the road. If I wanted to pass a cyclist I had to hug the yellow line, a dangerous thing to do if traffic is approaching me and only possible if the oncoming traffic sees the cyclist on my side and moves over to give me room, and impossible if there are motor vehicles and cyclists on both sides of the road. At one point I just had to follow behind the cyclist till it was safe to pass, fortunately he was moving at about 40 km/hr.

This can create very dangerous situations, especially if there are impatient drivers. Drivers should, however, be aware that, although used as such, the parkway is not a commuter route, it is a scenic route for tourists and residents to use to enjoy the park scenery and has a speed limit of 60 km/hr.

In many ways the Gatineau Parkway is a wonderful route for cyclists, scenic, winding and hilly. It could be a world class cycling route and a major tourist attraction and economic benefit to the region, if the safety problem was solved.

The answer of course is simple - put dedicated bike lanes along both sides of the parkway. Yes, it will take up some green space but only along the parkway corridor, doing much less damage than building superhighways through the park which the National Capital Commission (NCC ) thinks is appropriate. These bike lanes should be double lanes, not to encourage riding double which cyclists do now adding to the safety problem, but to allow faster cyclists to pass slower ones without having to enter the motor vehicle portion of the parkway.

Perhaps if the NCC undertook a project such as this it would divert their attention from turning single track trails into gravel roads. Which brings me to the other aspect of cycling in the Gatineau Park - mountain biking.

The NCC, in it’s wisdom, has decided that mountain bikers should be second class citizens in the park. If they want to ride single track trails they are relegated to a small section of the park (Camp Fortune) run by a private operator where fees are charged. Meanwhile hikers and trail runners have free reign over all of the public trails in the park at no charge, including the wide trails designated for mountain biking.

I appreciate having the wide gravel trails to ride, they are fun, but mountain bikers, like serious hikers, love rough natural technical single track trails, which are a lot more environmentally friendly than widened gravel roads, which the NCC loves to build and call trails.

There are two arguments for keeping mountain bikers off single track trails - user conflicts and environmental damage. However, neither of these arguments holds up to scrutiny.

In various places, including the NCC’s own greenbelt (where bicycle use is against NCC regulations but the regulations are not enforced), hikers and bikers regularly share the trails with each other with few problems. I can personally attest to never having had a conflict with hikers on the greenbelt trails while riding them regularly (several times a week). I can also attest to hiking and mountain biking in the South March Highlands and always having other trail users treat me with respect, whether as a hiker or a biker.

As to the environmental impact, the overwhelming scientific evidence indicates that hikers and mountain bikers have equivalent impacts on trails. See, for example, the reviews done by the International Mountain Bicycling Association and the New Zealand Department of Conservation.

For more information on mountain biking see the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) website and the Ottawa Mountain Bike Association (OMBA) website.

Since there are no reasons to treat them differently from other trail users, what should the NCC do to ensure that mountain bikers receive equal treatment and trail access in the Gatineau Park.

First they should enter into an agreement with the operator of Camp Fortune to replace the cross country trail fees paid by individuals with a fee paid by the NCC. I suspect the impact of this on the NCC budget would be minimal. This would ensure that mountain bikers do not have to pay access fees that other trail users do not have to pay.

The next thing they should do is to provide mountain bikers access to the rest of the single track trails in the park. This may require a short transition stage for public education and signage and perhaps some trail maintenance. There may even be a few trails that for specific reasons should not have mountain bike access. The NCC should take advantage of OMBA and IMBA’s sustainable trail building expertise during this process. In the interests of equality, this process should be expedited.

The NCC has an opportunity to make the Gatineau Park an internationally acclaimed location for both road cycling and mountain biking. Let us see if they are up to the challenge.

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Torture and Apple Pie

Last night's Law and Order SVU episode (Harm) took on the United States military torture techniques resulting in a backlash and attacks on the producers and actors as being traitors for presenting a show that opposed torture.

Some of the comments included:

"That was the most anti american propoganda episode I have ever seen. I am actually offended that NBC would air that. Our poor soldiers out in Iraq fighting for our lives and freedoms and NBC airs an anti torture episode to gain points politically. That is pretty low NBC."

"This was the most biased anti american show I have ever seen.NBC should be declared a terrorist tool."

"I consider this episode anti-American and the Prodcers, Actors and NBC Traitors. Until this episode it was one of my favorite shows. I will not watch it again. It was one of the few reasons I ever tuned into NBC. I have stopped watching the news on NBC because of its left wing bias."

Is torture as American as apple pie now, requiring that it be defended by patriotic god-fearing Americans.

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

The Danger of “Stranger Danger”

Stranger Danger is rearing it’s ugly head again as A-Channel NEWS airs a three part series Oct. 24, 25, 26, 2007.


Once again we are focusing on a minuscule threat and avoiding the real issues.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children states:

Is "stranger danger"—that dangers to kids come from strangers—really a myth?

Yes. In the majority of cases, the perpetrator is someone the parents or child knows, and that person may be in a position of trust or responsibility to the child and family.

We have learned that children do not have the same understanding of who a stranger is as an adult might; therefore, it is a difficult concept for the child to grasp. It is much more beneficial to children to help them build the confidence and self-esteem they need to stay as safe as possible in any potentially dangerous situation they encounter rather than teaching them to be "on the look out" for a particular type of person.

For decades, parents, guardians, and teachers have told children to "stay away from strangers" in an effort to keep them safe. In response to the on-going debate about the effectiveness of such programs, NCMEC released the research-based Guidelines for Programs to Reduce Child Victimization: A Resource for Communities When Choosing a Program to Teach Personal Safety to Children to assist schools as they select curricula aimed at reducing crimes against children.
The Missing Children's Network Canada states:
The Stranger-Danger Myth

Did you know that the majority of abductions and aggressions against children are committed by someone the child knows and trusts?

The Missing Children's Network has removed the use of the term "stranger" from its safety literature for the following reasons:

# It just doesn't work! Children need a clear and concise description in order to be able to properly recognize a stranger in their neighbourhood.

# Adults often send contradictory messages when saying "Don't talk to strangers!" When we walk on the street, how often do we tell our children to say hello to people who are walking by?

# In case of emergency, children may need to ask help from someone they don't necessarily know or have never met. Children need to be reassured that most people are well-intentioned and sincerely care about them.

For these reasons, we strongly recommend that you constantly reinforce the following fundamental principle:

Your child always has the right to say NO! to anyone including family members, neighbors, close friends, teachers, coaches or in any situation that leaves him feeling afraid, uncomfortable or confused. If at any time he finds himself in these circumstances, he must say NO!, get away from the situation and immediately confide in an adult whom he trusts.
So why do the media continue to pound away at this myth. Probably for the same reason discrimination and racism exists - it is far easier to see people we do not know and understand as being dangerous than those we have been taught to trust, who are a much greater risk to our children.

Unfortunately, despite the fact that we actually live in very safe communities in a very safe country (where crime rates are declining but crime reporting by the media is increasing), we live in an age of fear. We do not let our children walk even a few blocks to school. In the past it was children that used to be afraid of the bogeyman. Now we live in a society that is afraid of the bogeyman.

We develop many of our attitudes in life at an early stage. If we teach our children to needlessly fear strangers what will that do their social development. What will that do to their ability to trust others and build communities together.

I prefer to think of a stranger as a friend I have not met yet.

Monday, 22 October 2007

Why We Need FPTP

As the FPTP supporters would tell us we need FPTP so that candidates are nominated democratically at the local level and not just put on a list by the party leadership.

After all, we wouldn't want something like this happening.

Friday, 19 October 2007

Are Gyms and Fitness Clubs a Sign of an Unhealthy Lifestyle

Is going to the gym the epitome of a healthy lifestyle or is it just another example of a compartmentalized life. For how many people, is going to the gym the one hour a week or day set aside for fitness, where they get in the SUV drive to the gym and put in their allotted fitness time and get back to their compartmentalized lives.

Lifestyle is not about allotting time. It is about doing what comes naturally. In primitive time a healthy active lifestyle was not only natural but necessary for survival. We had to hunt to eat. Even after the agricultural and industrial revolutions most people where active in their jobs with farm or industrial labour being dominant.

The word activity implies being active but for the majority in today’s information society work and other activities now rarely involve actually being active so we slot the gym or fitness club into our schedule as our healthy lifestyle time.

A true healthy lifestyle does not involve setting aside time for “healthy things” because you have too. A true healthy lifestyle involves doing things you love because you enjoy them. The health and fitness benefits are a side effect. A true healthy lifestyle is not compartmentalized but naturally built into all your daily activities

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Is Garbage Obsolete - Ottawa Green Bin Program

On October 11, 2007, Ottawa City Council gave the green light to curbside organics collection. Beginning in March 2009, Ottawa residents will be able to set out green bins on collection day alongside their blue and black boxes and regular garbage. Items that will go into the green bin include food scraps, meat and dairy products, soiled paper and cardboard, fireplace ash, kitty litter, wood chips, sawdust, and leaf and yard waste.

This is still about 18 months in the future, but could it be the beginning of the end for garbage. With organic waste, paper products, and all glass, metal and plastic containers being recycled there will not be much garbage left.

But what will be left will be the remnants of the worst of our wasteful society. The biggest item will likely be unnecessary plastic packaging waste. Does everything we buy really have to be bubble wrapped. The other big item will be broken cheap stuff of our throwaway society. Why make things that last when it is more profitable to make cheap stuff that is cheaper to replace than repair - much of it of course being toxic electronic waste products designed to be obsolete within 18 months or less.

Perhaps when we see these items sitting alone in our garbage we will finally see the light.

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Bossership vs Leadership - Part II of The Larry O'Brien Saga

On Wednesday, September 12, 2007 I stated in: Bossership vs Leadership - The Failure of Ottawa Mayor Larry O'Brien:

"Ironically many voted for Larry O’Brien because he was not a politician, but his lack of political skills have been his downfall. He may, or may not, be a great private sector boss, who is used to making the decision and telling everyone else what to do, but he obviously lacks the political skills necessary to build the consensus and coalitions necessary to get things done in municipal government."

Apparently he has finally figured this out as the Ottawa Citizen reports that: Mr. O'Brien, a former CEO, said he's realized that the autocratic approach often taken in business simply doesn't work in municipal government. "The one thing I never had to do in business was compromise to get ideas through," he said. "It's not like that here."

I wonder how long someone with such a slow learning curve would last in his private sector company.

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Larry O'Brien's Caucus - Digging the Hole Deeper

Has party politics come to Ottawa City Hall. In a manner similar to political party caucus meetings Ottawa Mayor Larry O'Brien has invited 13 councilors he describes as "ones who have provided me with support" to a closed-door meeting (that may violate the Ontario Municipal Act) to discuss the city's fiscal future.

This during the same week he criticizes the Ontario Provincial Police for taking the time required to investigate his alleged attempt to bribe Terry Kilrea into dropping out of last fall's mayoral race. Another thing the mayor apparently has not learned about how government works - that the police are independent of politicians and political leaders should not attempt to influence police investigations.

And also during the same week he denies involvement in Calian Technologies $1.16M city contract wins.

Perhaps Larry should go into the construction business because he sure has a knack for digging holes deeper and deeper.

Monday, 15 October 2007

Blog Action Day for the Environment

Today is Blog Action Day for the Environment.

One can only wonder in amazement why there are still Global Warming doubters in light of the international scientific consensus and the recent recognition by the Nobel Committee that Global Warming is a threat to international peace and security.

The press would like to maker everyone think that there are two somewhat equal opposing scientific views here. But, just as in reality there is only one scientific position on whether the earth is flat, on whether gravity exists and whether we evolved or were created, there is really only one scientific position on the existence and the major cause of Global Warming - man.

One can only speculate as to what the doubters motives are because the ironic thing about fighting Global Warming is that, even if for some strange region the virtual consensus of the world’s climate scientists was wrong and the marginal fringe was right, fighting Global Warming would still be good for the environment and the economy.

The doubters are becoming increasingly marginalized, as groups such as the Canadian Council of Chief Executives and Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers support taking action on Global Warming.

Even capitalists are beginning to realize that without a planet there are no profits and that a waste-based economy is not sustainable in the long run.

There are profits to be made from increased development in the third world, but the planet simply cannot sustain development in the developing the world in the wasteful way it has been done in the developed world.

The developing world will have to develop differently than we have, and if we expect them to do that we have to change our habits and provide the technology to make that happen.

So what do we do to reduce the development gap in a sustainable way. The largest infrastructure factors are communications, transportation and housing.

In the communications area the developing countries are already skipping past the infrastructure heavy wired communications that we in the developed world grew up with and going straight to wireless technology (though wireless does have health concerns).

In transportation there is an opportunity for the developing world to avoid the North American reliance on the automobile by developing pedestrian and bicycle friendly cities and adopting a more European public transit focused approach to transportation.

In housing there is lots of room to make huge improvements in the quality of housing and water and sewage infrastructure without the excesses of North American society. Heating is the big energy eater in housing in the developed world. As most developing countries are in warm climates that is not a big factor. At least in the short term they may have to forgo the luxury of universal air conditioning.

As the developing world moves forward, we must also move forward. but in a different way than the past. The first thing we have to recognize that standard of living measured in the old fashioned economic way, how much we consume and waste per person, is not equivalent to quality of life. We can live much less extravagantly, particularly in terms of energy use, and increase our quality of life. Status, in terms of huge houses and automobiles that we do not need, will not buy us happiness.

North America can move towards less reliance on the automobile and more public transit, especially if we raise taxes on gasoline and put the funds into improved public transit. It has not destroyed European economies and it will not destroy North American economies.

In housing we can move from extravagance to comfort in our housing choices. The first thing we can do is remove the artificial tax incentives, such as capital gains tax exemptions on residences regardless of size or value, that encourage people to own bigger houses than they need.

As individuals we can start with our personal choices. Even simple things like changing light bulbs and buying energy efficient appliances, when done by increasingly large numbers of people can have a very significant cumulative effect. They also have an important indirect effect, because when we make these kinds of decisions we are also telling government and industry what our values and priorities are.

There are huge and sustainable profits to be made in developing sustainable products and technologies. Profits made from destroying the planet have an inevitable short future.

We are beginning to realize that we can change our way of living to a more sustainable one and increase our quality of life.

A green future is a long future.

Friday, 12 October 2007

I Don't Want to Blog about The Election

It's the end of Ontario Election Week and what is there to say. No surprises in the election, and that was no surprise. The biggest disappointment being that only about half of eligible voters voted. The other big disappointment being, that even though everyone predicted it, I still believed the people would see beyond the lies and fears and reform the electoral system. But that was not to be. One can only wonder if the predictability of it all had something to do with the low turnout.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Be Sure To Vote Today

If you live in Ontario be sure to vote today. You can vote in the Ontario election if you are:

* 18 years of age or older,
* a Canadian citizen, and
* a resident of the electoral district in Ontario

If you are on the voters list you must provide proof of identity to vote.

If you are not on the voters list you can still vote by providing proof of identity and proof of residence.

For more details on these requirements and a list of acceptable identification documents see the Elections Ontario Website.

Be sure to vote in the referendum. It will be the most important vote you cast in this election.

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Should Canadians Know Where Their Food Comes From

Apparently Canadian meat producers and the federal government do not think so. According to the CBC website:

“Canadian beef and pork producers want Ottawa to step up its opposition to a United States plan to place country of origin labels and tracking rules on their meat products”.

The groups say that county of origin labeling “would violate North American Free Trade Agreement and World Trade Organization rules”.

“Agriculture Canada officials were not available for comment. The government has written the U.S. government to formally oppose the plan.”

Besides being hypocritical, it would be totally contradictory to then argue that food products in the Canadian market should include country of origin labeling. This is clearly a case of “Free Trade Gone Wild”.

It is one thing to remove trade barriers such as tariffs and government regulations. It is another to prevent consumers from buying Canadian by not allowing them to know where their food comes from

Thursday, 4 October 2007

Perhaps the FPTP Supporters Have One Thing Right

One of the biggest arguments of First Past the Post is that it is more efficient than Mixed Member Proportional. Perhaps they are right. With one party able to gain control of the government, while receiving a minority of the seats, the Party Leader and Premier holds great power. By controlling Cabinet and committee appointments and other perks of government he can virtually run the government. With one man in control the government must be more efficient. After all, nobody ever criticized dictatorships for being inefficient, only for being undemocratic.

With Mixed Member Proportional the legislature will reflect the votes of the people. And since the people have varied positions and opinions on the issues and differing priorities one party is unlikely to win majority control of the legislature and one person is unlikely to have control of the government. The parties will have to work together, compromise and develop policies that reflect the will of those that elected them. Indeed with MMP, the legislature, rather than the executive, will govern the province.

The problem with the FPTP supporters position is that it does not go far enough. Why have a legislature at all. Why not just elect a dictator every four years, or for that matter why bother with inefficient elections.

The real problem with the FPTP approach is that it presumes the goal of electoral reform is a more efficient system, when the goal of electoral reform is a more democratic system, which of course, is what MMP provides.


No blog tomorrow as I am taking an extended long weekend.

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

The Hypocritical Lies in Dalton McGuinty's Education Ads

Listen to the Liberal education ads (Number 7) and tell me if you did not hear Dalton McGuinty say that public schools are what makes Ontario Ontario because students of all religions learn together and that public funding of segregated religious schools would be bad for Ontario.

After hearing him speak you might even think that he would send his own children to public schools rather than segregated religious schools. You might even think that he believes that the public should not fund segregated religious schools. But you would be wrong.

These are the most hypocritical lies I have ever heard from a politician.

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Policing by Innuendo – New Ottawa Police Program

The Ottawa Citizen reports on a new program to deter customers of prostitutes. It seems there are times when the police do not have enough evidence to lay charges but believe men are soliciting prostitutes. In this new program the police will now send letters to the homes of these men. But, of course, because they have no evidence, they will not allege the men actually committed crimes but just tell them they should not be in areas “frequented by prostitutes”.

The police stated to the Citizen:

“Letters will be sent to men who are identified while picking up a prostitute or found in the company of a prostitute. They will also be sent to those who police identify as continually stopping and talking to prostitutes or continually driving around neighbourhoods prostitutes are known to frequent, said Supt. Larochelle.”

But since the police have no proof the men have broken any laws, the letters are worded very carefully. We would not want to actually accuse someone of something we have no evidence of, when innuendo will get the job done. As stated to the Citizen:

“Anyone caught trawling Ottawa's streets for prostitutes will soon have a letter sent to their home by police telling them to stay out of those neighbourhoods while also warning of the dangers of the sex trade. Starting next week, Ottawa police will start sending out "community safety" letters that include the time, date and location the recipient was observed by officers in areas known to be frequented by prostitutes. In addition to detailing the potential health hazards associated with street prostitution, such as HIV and hepatitis, the letter explains the harm it causes to the community and asks the recipient to "do your part" by "refraining from bringing your vehicle into this area unnecessarily."

And what about those cases where the police actually have evidence. As stated to the Citizen:

“Supt. Larochelle said the letters will not be sent to the homes of men who are criminally charged with solicitation or who are caught in a police sting and qualify for the pre-charge diversion program known as John school. "People are accountable for their actions. This letter will hold them accountable," he said.”

The police role is to enforce the law and charge people when they have evidence of wrongdoing. It is not their place to find creative ways to punish people they think are doing bad things, where there is no evidence any laws are being broken.

Street prostitution is clearly a problem in neighbourhoods. Of course the prostitutes face much greater risks, including death, in this situation than the residents. Everyone would be better off if prostitutes were not forced onto the streets and forced to work for pimps. But prostitution is not going to go away. It is rather ironic that in todays sex-obsessed society you can use sex to sell everything but you cannot sell sex.

The other irony, of course, is that it is only the financial transaction that is illegal, and actually only “communicating for the purpose of” the financial transaction that is illegal. If these women were “giving it away” there would be nothing illegal but the “problem” would probably be even worse from the neighbourhood perspective.

What is clear is that many women are in the sex trade unwillingly because of economic necessity or abusive relationships. These are the real victims. The solutions are not criminal or quasi-criminal sanctions but economic and social reforms. Women need to be economically independent. Charging abusive partners or pimps with crimes does little good if women feel the necessity to return to those relationships. Charging customers or prostitutes does little good if women feel the economic necessity to return to the sex trade.

The prostitution “problem” will only be solved when no woman turns to prostitution out of necessity.

Monday, 1 October 2007

Faith-Based About Face

Tory's Policy No Longer Tories Policy

John Tory raised this issue with a principled but wrong position. Now he is just wrong.

Meanwhile Dalton McGuinty continues to oppose public funding for (non-Catholic) faith based-schools and carries on about how he supports public education while pretending the the Catholic School system does not exist.

And Howard Hampton carries on about how schools need more money while pretending the faith-based issue does not exist.

Only the Greens can claim to have a principled position on public education.