Help Sick Kids - Sponsor Me in the Tour Nortel and Support CHEO

OK, this is a blatant request for you to sponsor me in the Tour Nortel on May 4, 2008.

Each year the Tour Nortel raises hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario and related charities.

It is one of the most important events of my year and the only fund raiser that I participate in. This year I will be participating in the 80 km tour as part of the OMBA Ramblers, made up of members of the Ottawa Mountain Bike Association. We are hoping that the snow and salt will be gone soon so we can get some riding in before the Tour.


Boycott Hypocrisy Hour - Become Enlightened

We already have Environment Week and Earth Day and numerous other Environmental Events.

We do not need another token 60 minutes to think about the environment before going back to our normal overconsuming energy wasting daily life.

On March 29, 2008 at 9:00 PM in our home the Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs) will be on, as necessary, the Energy Star appliances will be running, if needed, the single compact energy efficient car will be in the garage, with the snowblower (nobody’s perfect) waiting for it to be replaced with the push mower, and the bikes and kayaks will be waiting to replace the skis and snowshoes.

There is a lot that you can do everyday to reduce your energy consumption and your environmental footprint that will have a lot more impact than spending one hour a year in the dark.

We like to blame the big corporate polluters And they are at fault. And the tar sands are an environmental crime against humanity. But even their development is driven by our insatiable lust for fossil fuels.

The automobile is the first thing to cut down on. Cut down on the number - everyone in the family does not need their own car, and cut down on the use. When we had four drivers living at home we had one car, which was not used for driving to work - that is what public transit is for. With a few exceptions the vast majority of urban and suburban workers do not need to use a car to go to work. And nobody living in the city needs a Hummer (status does not count as a need) or any gas guzzling vehicle,

Improve the energy efficiency of your home. It does not cost a lot to change your light bulbs and appliances can be upgraded when replaced. We replaced our inefficient freezer earlier than necessary but the energy savings will eventually pay for the cost of the new one. Don’t waste water. We think of water as free, or at least we used to - the costs of cheap water are now catching up with us and prices are increasing to maintain the infrastructure that we let deteriorate.

Start to live a more environmentally conscious lifestyle. Do you really need to drive to the corner store. Walk or bike - don’t drive everywhere. After awhile you will be amazed at just how far you can walk or bike and you will enjoy it. It will be good for your health and good for the planet. Get out in the bush, on foot or on a bike and start to enjoy the wonders of nature. Once you start to appreciate it you will have a real incentive to protect it.

Become enlightened - being in the dark is not going to accomplish anything.


Debunking E-mail Bigotry: Immigration

I usually ignore and delete any of the hate e-mails I receive but I decided to comment on this one because:

1. It was sent to us by someone we know that thought we would appreciate it.

2. It claimed to come from the Royal Canadian Legion.

3. It was inspired by disturbing remarks by a 2010 Olympics ceremonies committee official, and

4. It was such an easy target that it would be fun to tear it apart.

First I would like to make it clear that this e-mail does not originate from the Royal Canadian Legion. I received the following response from the Legion when I enquired about this e-mail:

The Royal Canadian Legion has identified this as a bogus e-mail which has not been sanctioned. The logo in use on it has been out of date since 2001. Notification of this has been posted to all branches via elegion and on the bulletin board at www.legion.ca. While we would like to catch the person who started this e-mail this is proving impossible. Please send this on to the people that sent you the bogus message so that they too will know that this message is bogus.
The e-mail stated:
Bruce Allen not out of hot water yet.

VANCOUVER/CKNW(AM980) - Despite being given a show of support by Vancouver 2010 organizers, embattled music manager and CKNW editorialist, Bruce Allen is not out of hot water just yet as the fallout continues from his recent commentary indicating immigrants to Canada should 'fit in,' or 'go home.'

Richmond Liberal MP, Raymond Chan, is set to file an official complaint with the CRTC (Canadian Radio & Television Commission) about Allen's recent 'reality check' alleging the piece was discriminatory. Chan is also demanding an official apology and a retraction of the comments.

It's time we all get behind Bruce Allen, and scrap this Political Correctness business. His comments were anything but racist, but there are far too many overly-sensitive 'New Canadians' that are trying to change everything we hold dear.
So what did Mr. Allen say:
In his regular Reality Check radio comment on CKNW Sept. 13, Allen stated "special interest groups" expect rules for themselves.

"There is the door. If you don't like the rules, hit it," said Allen. "We don't need you here. You have another place to go. It's called home. See ya."

Added Allen: "This is simple. We have laws in this country. They are spelled out and easy to get a hold of. If you're immigrating here and you don't like the rules in place, you have the right to choose not to live here. If you choose to come to Canada, shut up and fit in. We are a democracy, but it seems more and more that we are being pilloried by special interest groups that want special rules for themselves."
His idea of democracy does not seem to include immigrants. So, according to Mr. Allen, we should all be living by aboriginal tribal laws with no special rules for those nasty European immigrants and they certainly should not have criticized anything or changed any of the rules that were in place when they first came here.

In fact there is only one class of Canadian citizen, whether Canadian born or naturalized citizen. We all have the same rights to express our opinions and the same democratic right to participate in the law-making process.

The e-mail continued:
For example, our National Anthem: Don't know what your opinions are, but I certainly agree. --- I'm sorry, but after hearing they want to sing the National Anthem in Hindi - enough is enough. Nowhere or at no other time in our nation's history, did they sing it in Italian, Japanese, Polish, Irish (Celtic), German, Portuguese, Greek, or any other language because of immigration. It was written in English, and should be sung word for word the way it was written. The news broadcasts even gave the translation -- not even close.
Well first of all the national anthem was NOT written in English. It was written in French. So Mr. Allen and his supporters better start singing it in French if they believe it should be sung “ word for word the way it was written”. And it has also been sung in many different languages on many occasions, a testament to the love of Canada exhibited by the various immigrant groups in wanting to sing their new national anthem in their mother tongue.

And the misinformed bigotry continued:
I am not sorry if this offends anyone, this is MY COUNTRY - IF IT IS YOUR COUNTRY SPEAK UP ---- please pass this along.... I am not against immigration .. just come through like everyone else... Get a sponsor; get a place to lay your head; get a job; pay your taxes; live by the rules ...AND... LEARN THE LANGUAGE

as all other immigrants have in the past.
Another lie, or perhaps just a “misunderstanding of Canadian history”. I would venture to state that very few immigrants, except perhaps for the early explorers, have learned to speak or write, Cree or Ojibway or any other of Canada’s non-immigrant languages.

And the hate message concluded:

PART OF THE PROBLEM? Think about this: If you don't want to forward this for fear of offending someone-----YOU'RE PART OF THE PROBLEM !!!!

Will we still be the and still be CANADA if we continue to make the changes forced on us by the people from other countries who have come to live in CANADA because it is the Country of Choice??????

Think about it! IMMIGRANTS, NOT CANADIAN'S, MUST ADAPT. It is Time for CANADA to Speak up. If you agree - pass This along.
Obviously, I do not agree with this hate. Canada is a country of immigrants that brought with them the cultures and languages of the world to create a multicultural country that is the envy of the world. It is the immigrants that came here and learned from our First Nations and added their cultures to Canada that have made this country what it is - “the Country of Choice”.

It is Mr. Allen, and those that think like him, that are “the problem”.


The Problem With Hockey

If Canadians are supposed to be so polite and Americans so aggressive why is their national game a gentlemens game and our national game a thugs game.

This is just the most recent example of thuggery in Canadian hockey.

Is it the big money involved at the highest level that has removed any semblance of ethics and sportsmanship from hockey, where experts and commentators routinely talk about “good penalties” and where it considered acceptable and even good strategic play to break the rules if the benefit is worth the penalty time. If you can wipe someone out for the season and not get caught it is even better and you can probably expect a bonus somewhere down the line.

Some will argue (why do I have visions of gawdy sports jackets when I type this) that fighting is an intrinsic part of the game and is required to reduce tensions and prevent even more dangerous infractions. If that is so there is something extremely wrong with the game where the most basic ethical principle has become winning at all costs.

In light of this most recent incident some have argued that fighting should be “banned” in junior hockey. By “banned”, I assume they mean that the “powers to be” should actually take the rules against fighting seriously with serious consequences such as not allowing participants in fights to continue to play.

However, junior hockey is the training ground for the NHL where players learn the skills necessary to play in the big league and fighting is an “essential” part of the NHL. Hockey players of all ages are always going to aspire to be like their NHL heroes. If you “ban” fighting at the lower levels players will still aspire to the day they can make it into the NHL and fight like real hockey players.

It has to start at the top in the NHL. As long as hockey players aspire to be like their heroes there will always be fighting at all levels until it is no longer acceptable at the highest level. Players who insist on continuing to participate in thuggery should no longer be allowed to play in the NHL, forever.


Detroit and Ottawa - Sisters in Shame

The Ottawa Citizen reports that “Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and his former chief of staff Christine Beatty surrendered to police Monday, hours after the county's top prosecutor charged the pair with perjury, obstruction, conspiracy and misconduct, connected to allegations they lied under oath about their affair.”

The Detroit Mayor’s response was familiar to Ottawa residents: “Kilpatrick said in a written statement Monday that he would not step down from his duties and that he intends to fight the charges.”

However, unlike in Ottawa, Detroit City Council did the right thing and “voted 7-1 last week to call for Kilpatrick to resign”.

Of course they are not the only ones calling for the mayor to do the right thing. This column in the Detroit Free Press echoes the views of many Detroit residents when it states:

And let them begin without Kilpatrick as mayor. Count me among those who have seen enough of this distraction, who do not want to witness the indignities of the city's highest elected official on trial, who do not believe Detroit's many problems can or should be managed by a man facing serial felony charges.

I actually like the mayor and deeply respect the good things he has done for Detroit, the momentum he seems to engender just by filling a room with his energy and charisma. I desperately wanted him to succeed, as the first member of my generation of Detroiters chosen to lead.

But that's all moot now, a pipe dream being crowded by bitter realities. No matter what Kilpatrick says, he cannot help but be consumed by the effort to fight these charges.

His word already means nothing. And the damage to his ability to lead has been done, no matter what the legal outcome.

Love is, in part, knowing when to let go. So is true leadership. Kilpatrick can best show his love for Detroit, and the leadership the city once had faith in, by letting go of the stranglehold his flourishing scandal has on all of us.
These are words that perhaps Ottawa Mayor Larry O’Brien might also want to pay heed to.

Of course, O’Brien’ supporters will point out that there are significant differences in the charges facing the two mayors, That is certainly so. For one thing the charges against the Detroit mayor do not call into doubt the validity of his election.


Does 911 Help Barack Obama

Though some will think this question is in poor taste I think it is an interesting one.

Many were very surprised when the two leading contenders for the United States Democratic Party nomination for President turned out to be a white woman and a black man. Until then conventional wisdom was that the United States was not ready for a black, or a female, President.

Hilary Clinton’s case is unique, as the wife of a former President, but of course there are other factors at play there as well.

In the case of Obama, while racism may not be as rampant in the United States as it once was, presidential elections can be won by very narrow margins and it would only take a small percentage of voters who would never vote for a black candidate to defeat him. Yet, he may become the Democratic nominee.

Part of the reason for that may be that the racism dynamic in the United States appears to be changing. Racism, though expressed in hate, is based on fear. Traditional racism in the United States was born with the end of slavery as white men began to fear free black men - afraid they would seek revenge for slavery, defile their women and take their jobs. It may have been irrational but it was used by many to their own personal and political advantage and justified by religion.

With 911, or more precisely, the response of the United States government to 911, the racism dynamic was changed. It is no longer white vs black but Christianity vs Islam. It may be just as irrational but it is just as real.

Indeed those using racism to attack Obama are not doing it on the basis of his blackness but are trying to label him as a Muslim. They put undue emphasis on his middle name, “Hussein”, which is of Arab origin and by inference Muslim. As well they refer to his alleged “Muslim father”, although Biography.com states “His father, Barack Obama, Sr., was born of Luo ethnicity in Nyanza Province, Kenya. He grew up herding goats with his own father, who was a domestic servant to the British. Although reared among Muslims, Obama, Sr., became an atheist at some point.”

But the Muslim labeling appears not to be having any significant effect on voters and his blackness appears to be seen as an asset rather than a liability.

If Barack Obama is elected President it will be on his own merits and his ability to reach the minds and souls of the American people with his message of change, but it may very well have been made possible by the changing dynamic of racism in the United States


Rick on Ezra

The Rant says it best.

When the relatively insignificant Western Standard was the only Canadian publication to publish the infamous Mohammad cartoons I felt sad that they had felt the need to publish such an insult but pride that all other Canadian publications had voluntarily declined to join the frenzy.

The response to the Western Standard’s decision can only cause us all to be uncertain of the voluntary nature of all those other publications decisions and wonder if our pride in Canada’s response to this issue has been misguided.

You can read more about what the Fifth Column has to say about Freedom of Thought here.


Too Dangerous for Crops - Let’s Rub It On Our Children’s Brains

The CBC and CTV report that shampoos, marketed to treat head lice, that contain an insecticide, Lindane, that has been banned from agricultural use, are being sold over the counter in Canada.

According to the Lindane Education And Research Network:

Lindane is the primary synonym for gamma-Hexachlorocyclohexane (HCH) also commonly referred to as benzene hexachloride (BHC). Lindane is a nerve poison, an organochlorine pesticide. Lindane is a known carcinogen in the state of California where it has been banned. Lindane is an Endocrine Disrupting Chemical and Persistent Organic Pollutant. Lindane is found in air, water and soil samples throughout the world. Lindane is documented in human breast milk and amniotic fluid. Many countries have banned lindane. Unfortunately, in the United States, it is still widely prescribed and used on children and their families for treating head lice and scabies. It is also used on pets, livestock, fruits and vegetables, cotton, wool, tobacco, plants, trees and as a wood preservative.
The CBC report states:
While several environmental groups have called for a ban on lindane-based pharmaceuticals, Health Canada still allows its use in lice and scabies treatments, even though its use as an agricultural pesticide has been banned.

The Canadian Paediatric Society is reviewing its position on lindane products and currently recommends that they not be used on infants and children under 17. The society advises that products that contain pyrethrin or permethrin, instead of lindane, are considered safe.

Pesticide linked to convulsions, deaths

California banned lindane products in 2002 amid concerns the chemical was showing up in wastewater and because lindane-based medications were generating reports of skin irritation, dizziness, headaches and, in some extreme cases, convulsions and death.

California estimated that a single treatment of a lindane-based product that was washed down the drain was impacting 22 million litres of water and bringing contamination above the limit of 19 parts per trillion.
Parents should also note that head lice “aren't dangerous and they don't spread disease” (kidshealth.org) and “head lice are not a hazard to health” (simcoemuskokahealth.org) and finally “Head lice rarely (if ever) cause direct harm, and they are not known to transmit infectious agents from person-to-person. Thus, they should not be considered as a medical or a public health problem” (hsph.harvard.edu).

So why have parents been frightened into using a dangerous toxic chemical and carcinogen on their children’s brains to treat something that is not harmful. Our schools must stop promoting this lunacy and tell parents the truth about head lice and Lindane-based shampoos. And parents must not allow themselves to be bullied (by their children’s schools) into placing their children’s health at serious risk.


March 17 - Not Just For That Irish Guy

Happy Birthday Maggie !

(click photos to enlarge)


It's The Bullshit, Stupid - American Election Analysis

If video not working click here.

Source: The Onion

The Fifth Column will be taking a blogging holiday during the March Break, The Fifth Column will return Monday, March 17, 2008.


Computer Nostalgia

I was working away at my slide scanning project when I came across this photo of my wife at our desk working on our first computer, an Osborne 1 in June 1983.(click on images to enlarge)


The Senate Must Reject Bill C-10s “Censorship” Provisions

Much has been written about the “censorship” provisions in Bill C-10. One might argue that it is not “censorship” but just the government setting standards for what it is willing to fund with taxpayers money. However, as others have pointed out, here are already provisions that prevent “pornography” from being funded. This is much more odious than that.

It is one thing to say the government will not fund “objectionable” content. It is another to say it will only fund content that promotes the goals of the governing party. That is what this provision allows and even mandates.

The key wording in Bill C-10 is the following phrase used to describe what the government would fund:

“(b) public financial support of the production would not be contrary to public policy”

Note the careful choice of words. We are not talking about the “public interest” but about “public policy”. What is “public policy”. What other interpretation could there be other than that it refers to “government policy”, and “government policy” is established by the party in power and changes as governments change.

At best, it is so ambiguous that film and television producers would never know if a film or television program would be eligible for funding or not. At worse, the government would be mandated not to provide public funding to films or programs that are contrary to Conservative Party policy.

Of course the government will argue that is not what it means. If so, why is that what it says.

At least one Member of the House of Commons has admitted to voting for Bill C-10 without knowing that provision was there. That is not surprising. The provision is well hidden in a 600 page tax bill. Simply for the reason that Members of Parliament were not aware of this clause, the Senate should send it back to the House of Commons for reconsideration.


Bill Clinton’s Priorities - Life Beyond Politics

In the midst of the most critical stages of his wife’s political campaign Bill Clinton has shown that there is life beyond politics. The Toronto Star reported that on March 2, 2008 he was in Toronto to speak at a fund-raising event for the Clinton Giustra Sustainable Growth Initiative which will assist local leaders in Latin America and the developing world in addressing issues of social, economic and environmental impact through employment and economy.

"The world is bedevilled by three great crises: the persistent and growing inequality in economic opportunity, education and health care; the insecurity caused by our interdependence making us vulnerable to terror, to weapons of mass destruction, to the spread of dangerous materials, to global epidemics; and the unsustainability of our current developmental course because of the threats of global warming," Clinton told more than 1,000 people at the Westin Harbour Castle Convention Centre.
We give credit to the former president for his international humanitarian role and his work with the William J. Clinton Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative.


Cuba Has Surrounded Gitmo...

...with organic fruit and vegetables !

From: Oxfam Canada

Cuba: Organic Farming Improves Lives

Oxfam has helped the Cuban Association of Agriculture and Forestry Professionals (ACTAF) convert 13 hectares in the urban periphery surrounding Guantanamo into an organic, urban agriculture farm. 106 stable jobs were created - 51 of the workers are women. The majority live in the neighbourhood and their new union is now pushing for a day-care center for their kids.

“The people like this work because it’s close to their homes. They’re better paid then in other jobs, they can buy affordable fruits and vegetables for their families and they feel they’re doing something important”, said Oscar Borges, the Project Coordinator for ACTAF in the province. “For us it has been a great experience to work with Oxfam because there was always dialogue, flexibility, comprehension and respect.”

The fruits and vegetables are grown without any chemical inputs. Instead, the farmers produce their own fertilizer using organic compost and worms. They produce their plants in a new greenhouse. The project has contracts with government institutions to deliver produce to hospitals, child care centers and workplaces throughout the neighbourhood of 55,000 people. Their excess produce is sold to local people at affordable prices in a small shop on the farm and by bicycle around the community.

Odalys Puente manages the farm after years as an agricultural worker. For her “our goal is not to maximize our own benefits, but to contribute to good, healthy and available food for our people and be able to live our life with dignity”.

A class room has been built and equipped and is used for training farm workers as well as ACTAF members in the province. The project provided input and funds for a new edition of a technical manual for this kind of organic agriculture that will be used across the country.