2009-12-30

Paying For Local TV

Next time your sitting there for minutes on end watching all those annoying commercials think about the commercials telling you that your not paying for local television.

2009-12-29

Myths and Religion Defined

Myths: other peoples' religions

Religion:
the myths you believe in

2009-12-16

Dedicated to My Father and My Brothers and Sisters on the INCO Picket Lines



My father, was a hard rock miner, a construction leader at INCO's Frood Stobie mine, who died too early as a result of a medical condition from working underground.

I remember the first INCO strike (and all of those since). I was only eight years old in 1958 but as a miner's son even then I understood that it was about fairness, rights and dignity. Although we did not have much under the tree that year we still had a good family Christmas filled with love.

If there was one thing I learned from my father it was solidarity and to never cross a picket line. Indeed as a student working at INCO to pay for my university education I walked the line with my brothers and sisters. That people are crossing the lines in Sudbury is astounding to me, as is the fact that they are allowed to. Perhaps it is just a different time than when I grew up in Sudbury.

You can read more about the proud history of Sudbury's INCO workers and their unions here: A Short History of Sudbury Labour by Mick Lowe


Fair Deal Now
Support Local 6500 Sudbury

2009-12-10

Does "climategate" Matter

After all if the deniers didn't have hacked e-mails to misinterpret and distort they would just make something else up.

2009-12-09

Looking Forward to Next Biking Season

The Season in Review

As the snow falls and the salt trucks prepare to dump their loads of corroding crap on the roads and paths it is time for my season end report. I did my first below freezing ride Sunday and it was not too bad. This is the latest in the year I have ridden in recent history and I just might not stop yet.

Overall I have ridden 2684 kilometres (175 hours) this year, 508 (45) on the mountain bike and 2176 (130) on the hybrid.

My season had a poor start though with my riding only the 30 km route in the CN Cycle (formerly Tour Nortel) and dropping out of the first Ottawa Mountain Bike Association (OMBA) South March Highlands (SMH) Group Ride and never getting back into them. My first attempt at organizing a Greenbelt group ride also proved unsuccessful, hopefully just due to poor timing.

CN Cycle for CHEO

Ottawa Mountain Bike Association (OMBA)

But things did pick up and I got into the swing of things. The early part of the season saw a lot of rain and muddy trails so I spent a lot of time on the hybrid putting the kilometres on. When the trails dried up I did a lot of Greenbelt riding and ventured into the South March Highlands. I made a point of getting out on the old Kanata Lakes Trails to ride them before we lose them, as well as riding the upgraded Rockhopper Trail. I also had an interesting ride riding along the new Terry Fox Road right of way, after it was bulldozed for surveying.

Terry Fox Extension Caterpillar Track

Near end of the season I tried out a night group ride in the Greenbelt, where I managed to lose my helmet light. But that did get me back interested in night riding and the search for a new light began, and just as I decided on a new light to buy my light was surprisingly found on the trail by another rider. But it was too late, I had already decided to buy the better replacement light. That is until news of a new better and cheaper alternative was posted on the OMBA website. That is now my new light of choice, I'm just waiting for some trail reports from other riders, who are buying this light in droves, before I purchase it, likely in the spring.

OMBA :: Topic::Latest in lights....

My wife has decided that snowshoeing into work from Kanata to Stittsville just takes too long in the morning so we got ourselves a winter bike - a $100 Supercycle with $200 worth of studded tires for her to ride the two days a week she goes to Stittsville. So I might take it out sometimes during the rest of the week, as long as the weather does not get too cold - but that's a big "might" right now.

Another experience I had this summer was discovering the undocumented Stittsville Trails. And I use the term discover here in it's true meaning, just as the early explorers did - I found something that I didn't know existed but that others knew about and have used for long periods of time. It was still fun exploring them and mapping the trails to add to my collection of GPS Trail Maps.

Stittsville Trails

GPS Trail Maps Website

This was part of the impetus to reorganize and redo my trail maps and move them to a new home. The site can be found here:

Richard's GPS Trail Maps

It started with establishing a new site on blogspot and deciding to add trail descriptions as well as annotating the actual maps with more information. That led to adding photos and actually redoing some of the maps. I then decided to make the GPS data available which meant creating GPX data from the Google Earth kmz files for my earlier maps as I did not save the GPS files for them, as well as cleaning up the GPX files by removing overlapping tracks as much as possible. The project just sort of mushroomed, including photo sessions especially for the project.

And now I am looking at adding additional map views from different maps and satellite images, possibly over the winter, since I discovered another mapping program to add to my collection.

OMBA :: Topic::TopoFusion

Mountain Biking Advocacy

I was also busy this season blogging and making submissions to the City of Ottawa and the National Capital Commission on Mountain Biking Issues, in particular the South March Highlands Management Plan and the Greenbelt Master Plan Review.

My blog postings and submissions can be found here:

THE FIFTH COLUMN: Greenbelt Master Plan Review

THE FIFTH COLUMN: South March Highlands Management Plan

I will be presenting further submissions on both of these issues.

Other Mountain Biking News

This season saw OMBA's catweaver formalize her after school rides into MTBCAT - Mountain Biking Children and Teens to provide opportunities for children and teen to experience adventure through mountain biking and other outdoor activities. MTBCAT believes every child deserves the opportunity to explore the great outdoors so they provide the equipment. This is a great program that not only gets children interested in a great sport but also brings them into contact with nature, two things that many children today are missing. The program provides proper equipment to youths who otherwise would not have access to proper mountain bikes to learn on, as well as teaching them bicycle maintenance and repair skills.

Mountain Biking Children And Teens

MTBCAT and OMBA sponsored this years International Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day on September 26th.

This season also saw the announcement of the Joyride 150 Indoor Bike Park in the Greater Toronto Area, much closer to Ottawa than Ray's in the United States.

Joyride 150

As well there was the announcement of the closure of the MTB website a silvertouch and it's replacement by PrivateerMTB.

PrivateerMTB

Talking about MTB websites, the grandaddy of them all, MTB Kanata, is still around but struggling. Check it out.

mtbkanata.com

Looking Forward to Next Season


So here I am already thinking ahead to the spring and next biking season.

First thing on my mind is keeping and getting into shape and doing enough early season training to complete the full 70 km route in the CN Cycle for CHEO.

I also hope to get back into the OMBA SMH Group Rides as well as do more riding in SMH by myself, including the old Kanata Lakes Trails before they are gone. Maybe this year will be the year to get around to riding Outback again. My hope is to do a nice easy paced beginner group ride of Outback with the pace set by the slowest rider, and just hope it isn't me.

I also expect to do a lot of Greenbelt riding, in particular the mapping of Trail 10 and area near the Ottawa River and Trail 29 and connecting trails at Bruce Pit. I also plan to re-activate my series of weekly Greenbelt Rides rotating through the western Greenbelt Trails, including some night rides.

One ride in particular I have been planning for years is a 40 km marathon Greenbelt Trail ride of the western Greenbelt Trails. Maybe next season. Hopefully.

Finally of course will be lots of hybrid riding when the trails are too wet to ride. This past season I didn't get any real long 100km hybrid rides in, so hopefully next season.

Happy riding to all of you riding throughout the winter and see you on the trails in the spring.

2009-12-07

Climate Change Is A Hoax

How do I know this. I heard some of these climate scientists being interviewed about their computer models and it turns out they are all based on AlGoreIsms.

2009-12-02

Happy Holidays and Seasons Greetings

As an atheist who celebrates Christmas, because it is part of the cultural milieu I was brought up in, am I part of the "War on Christmas" for recognizing that the world does not revolve around Christianity.

Indeed, there are billions of people worldwide celebrating holidays and events other than Christmas during this season, and even at that not everyone who celebrates Christmas is Christian as it has become as much a secular as a religious holiday.

Indeed if anyone is guilty of a "War on Christmas" it is the Christians who have turned Christmas into the High Holy Day of Capitalism.

Let me take this opportunity to offer my best wishes to those celebrating these occasions and holidays this month:

Religious Holidays

Bodhi Day (Rohatsu) - Buddhism
December 8

Masa'il - Baha'i
December 12, 2009
The 15th month.

Chanukah - Judaism
December 12 through to December 29, 2009
Chanukah, meaning "dedication" in Hebrew refers to the joyous eight-day celebration during which Jews commemorate the victory of the Macabees over the armies of Syria in 165 B.C.E. and the subsequent liberation and "rededication" of the Temple in Jerusalem.

First of Muharram - Islam
December 18, 2009
Islamic New Year, 1431. The first of Muharram marks the first day of the first month (Muharram) of the Islamic year. It begins at sundown the previous day.

Tohji-taisai - Shinto
December 21, 2009
Grand Ceremony of the Winter Solstice. Celebrates the joy of the ending of the yin period of the sun, when it declines in strength, and the beginning of its growing power or yang period. The sun is of central importance in Japan, expressing the presence of Amaterasu Omikami, the Kami of the Sun.

Yule - Wicca
December 21, 2009
Yule, which marks the New Year in the Anglo-Saxon and northern traditions of Wicca, is the celebration of the birth of the Gof as the winter-born King, symbolized by the rebirth of the life-generating and life-sustaining sun. It is a time for ritually shedding the impurities of the past year, and for contemplating avenues of spiritual development in the year ahead.

Christmas - Christianity
December 25, 2009
Christmas or Christmas Day is an annual Christian holiday that celebrates the birth of Jesus, along with themes such as family, goodwill, giving and compassion.

Death Anniversary of Zarathustr
a - Zoroastrianism
December 26, 2009
The anniversary of the death of Zarathustra (Zoroaster), the founder of the Zoroastrian faith.

Ashura - Islam
December 27, 2009
The tenth day of the first Islamic month (Muharram). For Shi’ite Muslims, this day mourns the martyrdom of Hazrat Imam Husain, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad. Devout Shi’a commemorate this day of sadness with retelling the story of the battle fought in Kerbala.

Sharaf
- Baha'i
December 31, 2009
The 16th month.

Gahambar Maidyarem - Zoroastrianism
December 31, 2009
This day celebrates the creation of animals. It is also a time for the equitable sharing of food.

My apologies to anyone that I have missed, please add your holiday in the comments section.

Non-Religious Holidays and Commemorations


Rosa Park's Day
(December 1)
Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus in 1955.

International Day of the Disabled Person (December 3)

International Volunteer Day (December 5)

Human Rights Day (December 10)
United Nations' Declaration of Human Rights in 1948

UNICEF Anniversary (December 11)

Winter Solstice
(December 21)
First Day of Winter

Kwanzaa (December 26 to January 1)
Kwanzaa is a unique African American celebration with focus on the traditional African values of family, community responsibility, commerce, and self-improvement. Kwanzaa is neither political nor religious and despite some misconceptions, is not a substitute for Christmas. It is simply a time of reaffirming African-American people, their ancestors and culture.

New Years Eve (December 31)
Celebration of the New Year

And many many more, too numerous to mention.

2009-12-01

City of Ottawa Auditor General Opposes Openness and Makes Secret Deal

According to CTV Ottawa:

CTV Ottawa has learned the city's auditor general, whose job includes monitoring transparency and spending at Ottawa City Hall, has been given a $100,000-payment that was never supposed to be made public.

"I don't know how it became public because I said it was an issue that was discussed in-camera and the information that you received should never have been received by you," Alain Lalonde told CTV Ottawa on Thursday.
So the City's Auditor General thinks it is completely appropriate that the city make secret deals with employees that hide their compensation from taxpayers.

Regardless of how good a job he may have done and what the rationalizations for the secret deal might be [we had to pay him that to get his expertise but we didn't want other employees asking for the same sweetheart deal], do we really want someone in charge of auditing the city's books that approves of, and is part of, that kind of secrecy.

And I really do not know what to make of these reported comments:
Although Lalonde isn't saying much about the payment, he told CTV Ottawa the leak is a breach in city policy.

"I would suggest the person that provided that information to you should be very careful," he said.

2009-11-19

NCC Greenbelt Master Plan Review Update

From the NCC:

Greenbelt Conference and online dialogue

The National Capital Commission (NCC) is conducting a review of the 1996 Greenbelt Master Plan, which guides the use, management and protection of the Greenbelt.

Take part in the discussion!

Noted speakers from Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom have agreed to share their knowledge about other greenbelts around the world, including the importance of greenbelts and the variety of roles they play, and the lessons learned from the experiences of other cities and regions.

We invite you to take part in this dialogue to help shape a vision that will guide the management of the Greenbelt for the next 50 years.

Conference: The Future of the Greenbelt

Wednesday, November 25, 7 pm
National Arts Centre, Panorama Room
53 Elgin Street, Ottawa, and on the web

Webcast and online dialogue: National Forum on the Greenbelt

Live, November 25 and 26, starting at 8:30 am
Delayed broadcast, until January 2010
More information can be found here.

Webcasts of these events will be available here.

January

In January you will be invited to take part in further public consultations to discuss the future of the Greenbelt in greater detail.

Further Information

The timeline for the Greenbelt Master Plan Review can be found here.

Information on Step 1 of the Consultation Process (and documents presented) can be found here.

Further information on the Greenbelt Master Plan Review can be found here.

Information on the Greenbelt can be found here.

2009-11-12

What is Progressive About the Liberal Party

Well, nothing, actually.

The Liberal Party has always been a centrist (and opportunistic) party, slightly to the left of the Progressive Conservative Party. The fact that the latest incarnation of the Conservative Party has moved to the right does not make the Liberals progressive. Indeed, if anything, the Liberals under Iggy have moved to the right into (and past) the spot held by the old Progressive Conservatives.

As for the Greens, they are simply a recognition that broader support for environmentalism has created a spot for a right wing environmental party that recognizes that without an environment there can be no profits and that there are profits to be made from environmentalism. But their solutions are clearly capitalistic and not progressive.

The fact is that Canada has only one mainstream progressive political party. It is the party that has always been the political wing of the progressive movements, including the environmental movement. And, of course, that party, with it's own inherent problems from time to time, is the New Democratic Party.

2009-11-11

2009-10-27

United Kingdom Politics Can Be Nasty

I was reviewing the Fifth Column and I decided to click on the Next Blog link in the blogspot top bar and this is where it took me:

Martin Horwood MP Cheltenham
There are some serious allegations buried in the nastiness on this page, if you look that far. However their credibility is extremely tainted by the nastiness they are buried in. This might have been fun to create but how effective it is is really questionable.

Googling the subheadings under the title (google11a2c7d5774bd97e.html) can lead you to some even nastier stuff such as this:
Norwich North Liberal Democrat
If you keep googling the subheadings you discover that someone has a serious hate on for the Liberal Democrats.

2009-10-25

The Most Evil Danger of Religion

Most of us know good people who are religious and we know some good things have been done in the name of religion. Indeed Canada would not have Medicare, public pensions or most of it's social programs if it was not for CCFers and New Democrats inspired by the Social Gospel.

However we also know that any rational understanding of history finds that way more evil than good has been done in the name of religion that and religion is the tool invariably used to get good people to do evil things because "god is on our side".

It is not any specific religious doctrine or act in the name of "god" that is the most harmful thing about religion. Rather it is the religious mindset. It is the religious mindset that allows people to reject facts and reason. It is the religious mindset that allows people to believe something just because they choose to, or because someone like Osama Bin Laden, Adolf Hitler or Glenn Beck tells them to. It is faith, belief with no rational basis, that is the foundation of all religion and which makes it so dangerous.

2009-10-09

President Barack Obama and the Nobel Peace Prize

Was anyone not surprised by the selection of United States President Obama as this year's Nobel Peace Prize recipient. While many, I am sure, saw him as a potential future winner, most saw the newly elected President as not having been in office long enough to have the accomplishments necessary to win the prize.

The Nobel Committee obviously saw it differently and I think that speaks to a number of things.

The Norwegian Nobel committee said the president was selected "for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and co-operation between people."

The committee attached special importance to Obama's vision and work for a world without nuclear weapons in the prize citation, which was read in Oslo on Friday.

"The vision of a world free from nuclear arms has powerfully stimulated disarmament and arms control negotiations," the citation said.
...

Norwegian Nobel committee chair Thorbjorn Jagland told CNN that the five-member committee had unanimously voted to select Obama as the Nobel laureate.

Jagland told CBC News the committee expected criticism about the selection. But the prize is meant to help "strengthen his role and his policy," he said.

Though Obama has been president for less than a year it has been "enough time to inspire the world," Jagland said.

The Nobel committee said Obama has created a new climate in international politics that has focused on multilateral diplomacy and an emphasis on the role of the United Nations and other international institutions.

"Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world's attention and given its people hope for a better future," the citation said.
The committee seems to have put a lot of emphasis on the hope created by Obama's election. In a way they have given him the prize, not for specific accomplishments, but for setting the stage for future accomplishments.

This says a lot about the role and power of the United States as the world's only superpower. Simply indicating that a change in United States foreign policy is coming becomes a force for peace. It also says a lot about just how dangerous and damaging to international peace the policies of the former administration were.

But still one wonders why the committee did not wait for a future year to award Obama the prize in recognition of anticipated future accomplishments.

This may be where a possible darker side for the decision comes into play. The Nobel Prizes are only awarded to living recipients and the Nobel Prize Committee may have found it prudent to award him the prize while it was able to.

2009-10-02

"Work" is a communist plot - Rush Limbaugh

LIMBAUGH: I've been mentioning this since I started this show. "Workers" is a communist word. "Workers" is a socialist, a Karl Marx word. Workers of the world unite, workers -- we don't have workers; we have citizens, we have employees. We have associates. When I worked at the Kansas City Royals, the team was owned by Ewing Kauffman, who also owned Marion Labs. He never called one person a worker or an employee. Everybody was an associate, from the custodial staff on up. Workers? All this little leftist lingo trickling into our lexicon.

Source: The Limbaugh Wire for 09/29/2009
So remember next time you see somebody working stop them and ask them what they are doing.

"Working. Are you a communist. Stop that right now and start associating."

2009-09-28

Only in Celebrityland

Only in Celebrityland would there be any debate or controversy over whether a 44 year old who had sex with a thirteen year old after giving her alcohol and drugs should be held accountable for his crime, especially when he was in a position of authority over her.

It just amazes me that people are defending him, including the victim, who at the time certainly was in no position to consent, especially after being drugged, and who since has received a financial settlement from the rapist.

His crime was against society and society has a right and responsibility to hold him accountable in the name of all the other victims and potential victims of such crimes.

References:

CBC News: Polanski to fight extradition

Ottawa Citizen: Polanski held on decades-old charge

2009-09-24

Winter Trail Conflicts on the Greenbelt Trails

Submission to the National Capital Commission Greenbelt Master Plan Review - Part 2

By Richard W. Woodley, environmentalist, hiker, mountain biker, snowshoer, cross country skier, kayaker

In my previous submission on the Greenbelt Master Plan Review I discussed how well trail sharing amongst the various trail users worked on the Greenbelt trails during the spring, summer and fall.

Unfortunately I cannot say the same about the winter season. The main conflict, of course, is between cross-country skiers who like track set trails and walkers/hikers who walk through the track set trails punching deep holes in them.

Many skiers resent the walkers and many walkers feel they have just as much right to use the trails as the skiers. While I do not believe the conflict will ever be eliminated there may be a way to reduce it.

I believe the solution lies in encouraging the hikers/walkers to use snowshoes and provide dedicated trails for them, or at least publicise the dedicated trails that I just discovered exist as indicated on the official NCC trail map.

I would suggest the NCC, in partnership with snowshoe manufacturers and retailers undertake a snowshoe lending program. The partners would provide the snowshoes and lenders would receive information on where to purchase the snowshoes they are borrowing, as well as information on all the program participants. It only takes about one outing to realize it is a lot easier walking the trails with snowshoes than boots and that they do not punch deep holes in the trails. This will go a long way to reducing the conflict, because even on the ski trails snowshoes do less damage than boots - they may pack down the tracks but they do not punch deep holes in them. However if enough appropriate snowshoe trails are available many of the walkers/hikers may choose to snowshoe on them rather than walk on the ski trails.

In this context, I would also like to address the issue of winter mountain biking. For the last few years, within the South March Highlands, mountain bikers have been creating winter trails by packing the trails down using snowshoes and have demonstrated that snowshoeing and mountain biking are indeed compatible on the same trails. Mountain biking on packed trails simply leaves a track, similar to a cross-country ski track. Indeed it is not practical to mountain bike on trails if you are sinking deep into the snow and creating holes or ruts. So I would suggest that to get the maximum use out of the designated snowshoeing trails that mountain biking also be allowed on them.

I have attached maps of suggested routes for shared snowshoeing and mountain biking trails. I have chosen trails that are less cross-country ski friendly due to their terrain.

It was after creating those maps that I noticed the increased number of snowshoeing designated trails on the on the NCC Greenbelt Trail Map. I was surprised to see Jack Pine designated as snowshoe trail and Trail 11 designated as a ski trail. I think it would be better to designate trails that are less skier friendly as snowshoe trails and the most popular ski trail as ski trails. Although Jack Pine would make an ideal beginner winter mountain biking trail, frankly I do not believe the skiers will stop using Jack Pine. The vast majority probably do not even know of its designation as a snowshoe trail rather than a ski trail.

Encouraging walkers to switch from using boots on ski trails to using snowshoes on snowshoe trails is going to take more than just putting red dots on a chart on the official map that few people actually look at. It is going to require a concerted effort and campaign to encourage snowshoeing on the designated trails, a campaign that should include allowing and encouraging mountain bikers to use the snowshoe trails.

(click on maps to enlarge)



2009-09-22

Ottawa Police Chief Thanks Reckless Vigilante for Breaking Law and Endangering Lives

The scenario

Driver speeding in a Porsche almost hits and kills assault victim.

Driver takes off after alleged assailant at over 170 km/hr (speeds equivalent to stunt driving/street racing offence) while talking on a cell phone to 911 dispatcher.

Police intercept alleged assailant.

Police chief thanks driver.

Moral of the story

Breaking the law and endangering people's lives is commendable as long as there is a happy ending, at least according to Ottawa's Police Chief Vern White.

References:


Ottawa Citizen: Chief orders review after high-speed civilian chase

Ottawa Citizen: Pair in Porsche chase down man accused of drunk driving, sex assault

2009-09-17

Talking to Americans About Health Care

A Message From The Fifth Column To Our American Friends And Neighbours

As a Canadian, who like the vast majority of Canadians, would never give up my public health care system, I find the debate in the United States over health care to be quite perplexing. In fact in Canada whenever the prospect of a parallel private system is brought up the public quickly makes it known that a two tier system is unacceptable and any increased private role in the system is undesirable.

Indeed when I observe what is happening in the United States it sometimes appears that the best that can be hoped for is a compromise, a compromise that in all probability will not have the efficiencies of a universal single payer public system and a compromise that may end up being simply a government subsidy to the insurance industry.

But no matter what happens, the bottom line is that I do hope that our American neighbours at least end up with a system that does not see the middle class continuing to face losing their homes and having to declare bankruptcy due to health care costs and the poor continuing to die prematurely due to lack of health care.

What, of course, upsets us most in Canada are the misrepresentations and lies about the Canadian health care system (and public health care systems in general) that have become part of the debate in the United States.

It seems, and I do not want to get sidetracked into a different debate here, that some of the opposition to health care reform is driven by other agendas, and shall we say an inability of certain groups to accept the results of the recent United States election.

But I do want to raise one philosophical difference between Canadians and the Americans that health care opponents are trying to take advantage of.

This is the fact that Americans see themselves as more individualistic than Canadians and see government in a much less positive light than Canadians. Canadians on the other hand think in much more social and collective terms and see government as a means for the people to do things collectively.

At least that is the stereotype that the opponents seem to be using in decrying any government role in health care as being socialism and thus evil. Socialism is not a dirty word in Canada, and neither is liberalism. We like our single payer public health care system – call it socialized medicine if you like.

Interestingly enough, one of the differences in our political history, and one that relates directly to the establishment of Medicare (as we call our public health care system) in Canada has been the role of religion in politics. As a Canadian I find the role of the so-called Christian right in American politics to be perplexing, indeed absurd at times. While there are right wing Christian influences within our Conservative Party, the most significant religious influences in Canadian politics have come from the left, from the Social Gospel, led by preachers like J.S. Woodsworth, Stanley Knowles and Tommy Douglas from the CCF and NDP, who first proposed such things as public welfare, public pensions and Medicare, all of which have become part of the Canadian social fabric.

Indeed,Tommy Douglas, who, as Premier of Saskatchewan, first established Medicare in Canada, over the objections of the health care and insurance industries, even battling a doctors strike, was chosen by Canadians as The Greatest Canadian.

So how does Canadian Medicare work.

The Canada Health Act sets out the basic principles of Canadian Medicare.

Administration: - All administration of provincial health insurance must be carried out by a public authority on a non-profit basis. This authority must be accountable to the province or territory, and their records and accounts are subject to audits.

Comprehensiveness: - All necessary health services, including hospitals, physicians and surgical dentists, must be insured.

Universality: - All insured residents are entitled to the same level of health care.

Portability: - A resident that moves to a different province or territory is still entitled to coverage from their home province during a minimum waiting period. This also applies to residents which leave the country.

Accessibility: - All insured persons have reasonable access to health care facilities. In addition, all physicians, hospitals, etc, must be provided reasonable compensation for the services they provide.
What that means is that you go to your doctor and you get taken care of. You go to the hospital and you get taken care of. You are not asked for payment and you receive no bills. Yes you pay through your taxes and sometimes through premiums, depending on the province's funding system.

You choose your own doctors and you and your doctors decide what is the best treatment option. There is no one from the insurance industry approving your treatment. There is no one from the insurance industry denying you treatment because you've been sick before. There are no "co-pays" or payment caps. The minimum wage earner or welfare recipient receives the same quality of care as the corporate executive. No one can pay extra to jump to the front of the line. And the quality of care is excellent.

My last visit to the hospital involved a migraine that would not go away, and though I had a doctors appointment booked later that week I decided to go to the emergency department because I was getting fed up with the pain. I did have to wait awhile to see the doctor, then I got put on an IV pain reliever and waited some more, while the pain decreased. The doctor then saw me and referred me for a CAT scan and said it might be a few hours before they could take me, but actually it was about 15 minutes. The CAT scan was clear so no worries about brain tumours. We talked about putting me on beta blockers, which I was already discussing with my family doctor, but just waiting for test results to confirm I did not have asthma (from another hospital visit where I arrived early for my appointment and was able to have the test done right away). After seeing my family doctor I was put on beta blockers and have hardly had a migraine since.

I could relate all sorts of stories of the excellent care received by myself, my family and friends from our public health care system.

The most important benefit of public health care, especially for the poor is regular preventative care. When you have to decide between providing the necessities of life for your family or paying for a routine check-up, more often than not the routine health care is ignored, in some cases until it is too late. People die because of that. This is particularly important for healthy baby check-ups. When you have to decide between buying food for your baby or taking him to the doctor for a routine check-up what do you think the decision will be.

Yes there are problems. Wait times for elective and non-urgent procedures can be longer than they should be and we currently have a shortage of family doctors. These are not problems caused by the nature of the public health care system. Indeed adding a private option would only divert resources from those that need it most to those that can pay to jump to the head of the line. These are problems that to some degree require more funding and to some degree require the training of more doctors and specialized technicians.

There is one problem that I do consider systemic and that is the lack of coverage for prescription drugs outside of hospitals as part of the national system. That being said, private insurance coverage for prescription drugs is a fairly common employment benefit at a reasonable cost and the provinces do have programs to pay the drug costs of low income earners or residents with high drug costs in relation to their household income. But a national Pharmacare program is necessary to complete Canada's Medicare System

The other argument that is made in favour of the American completely private health care system is that only private for profit health care provides research and innovation. Have these people never heard of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (or for that matter NASA). Indeed more research is probably done in government facilities than in private ones. When it comes to hospital research, it is not whether it is a for profit hospital that determines whether research is done, but whether it is a teaching hospital. Indeed Canada, and other countries with public health care systems all have internationally respected teaching hospitals that are doing leading edge medical research.

Public health care is at the top the list when Canadians are asked what it means to be a Canadian, Indeed the idea of for profit health care or anyone getting better or faster health care because of their wealth or income is something Canadians consider to be unethical and immoral. Universal single payer public health care is a basic Canadian value.

And just so that I am completely clear, despite the lies that Americans have been told, there are no government bureaucrats involved in Canadians personal health care decisions and no death panels. There are no insurance companies denying care due to pre-existing conditions, There are no "co-pays" and there are no payment ceilings.

Final Words

I would hope that Americans do not let the misrepresentations about the Canadian health care system prevent the implementation of health care reform in their country. Indeed, I fear that the opportunity to implement single payer universal public health care for the United States has already been lost. And the public option is threatened by the massive lobbying campaign that is dominating the media. Health care reform is something that may not be attainable if left to the politicians. If the American people want health care reform they must stand up and demand it. Now is the time for the silent majority to be heard.


I have not included any statistics or links with these comments as I wanted to keep it to my own words but for those that are interested in further information I am providing the following:

Canadian Medicare and the Canada Health Act

Canada's Health Care System (Medicare)

Canada Health Act - Health Canada Information

Canada Health Act (text from Justice Department)

Canadian Health Coalition

Canadians (and Americans Living in Canada) on Canadian Health Care


Former Conservative Prime Minister Mulroney supports Obama's health-care fight

Defending Canada's Health Care: Truths and Lies - Jack Layton

Keep Canada Out of the U.S. Health-Care Debate - Bob Rae

Canadians Defend Their Health Care System

Universal Health Care Message to Americans From Canadian Doctors & Health Care Experts

Debunking Canadian health care myths

A puzzled Canadian ponders surreal U.S. health-care debate

Americans Who Can't Go Home

What they don’t want you to know about Canadian health care

My brain and the Ontario health-care system

The Truth About Canadian Health Care

Debunking the profiteers' lies about healthcare

What Shona Holmes wants for you......Here are the facts

Tommy Douglas

The Greatest Canadian - Tommy Douglas

Prairie Giant: The Tommy Douglas Story

Kiefer Sutherland introduces the Tommy Douglas Showcase

Tommy Douglas Showcase

Douglas, Thomas Clement - The Canadian Encyclopedia

2009-09-15

Michael Moore Honours Sudbury Workers


As the National Post reports:

There were some improbable guests on the red carpet last night at the premiere of Michael Moore's latest film Capitalism: A Love Story. The documentarian invited some of the more than 3,000 workers from the Sudbury mining giant Vale Inco who have been on strike since mid-July.

"The mining company's doing quite well," said Moore the following day. "It's made over four billion dollars in the last two years, but they want to cut back on the pension, and they want to stop the profit sharing, and give back, give back, give back, give back. It seems very un-Canadian to me, to behave in that manner. So try and maintain yourselves, Canadians. That's all I have to say."
Local 6500 Statement to Community

Fair Deal Now
Support Local 6500 Sudbury

2009-09-10

Richard's GPS Trail Maps Site Completed

I have finally finished updating and moving all my existing GPS Trail Maps to the new site, with photos for all the trails except the Marlborough Forest Roads.

I will be adding more trails to the site as I get them mapped, in particular the Bruce Pit area trails including Trail 29 and the trails near Shirley's Bay, including Trail 10.

Check it out at:

http://gpstrailmaps.blogspot.com/

2009-09-04

Statement of Democratic Principles

With an election looming the Fifth Column calls on all federal political parties and party leaders to adopt the following:

Statement of Democratic Principles

The Canadian people have the right to elect Members of Parliament of their choosing and the House of Commons of their choice.

The House of Commons elected by the Canadian people has the right to govern.

A government that has the support and confidence of a majority of the Members of the House of Commons is legitimate, and indeed a government requires the confidence of a majority of the Members of the House of Commons to be legitimate.

The letter and spirit of fixed election date legislation must be respected and that an early election should only be held when it is not possible to form a government that has the confidence of a majority of the House of Commons.

And further, that party representation in the House of Commons should reflect the popular vote and that a process should begin immediately following the election to amend the electoral process to ensure that.

Finally, we all pledge to inform the Governor General that we have adopted and support this Declaration of Democratic Principles.
As The Fifth Column is a small player in the blogosphere, if any of the larger players want to promote this please feel free to take the ball and run with it.

2009-08-26

Kanata Lakes/South March Highlands Easier Mountain Biking Trails

I received a request to identify the easier Kanata Lakes (KL) and South March Highlands (SMH) trails from a rider who would like to take his wife riding in the area. I am providing the information here in case others may be interested. Of course,“easier” is a matter of personal interpretation.

The trails in this area are known to be some of the most technical in the Ottawa area but there are indeed some relatively easier trails in the system. The trails I am identifying are the ones that the easiest OMBA Group (Group D) would ride during the Thursday evening group rides.


click on map to enlarge

Kanata Lakes Trails

I am going to start with the trails closest to the parking lot on Goulbourn Forced Road (GFR). This is the trail system that will virtually disappear as it is overtaken by urban development. But until the development reaches these trails we will will still have a few years to enjoy them.

The easiest of these trails is a gravel loop that goes from the GFR parking lot, starting at the south end of the parking lot, to the Beaver Pond parking lot and continues to Goulbourn Forced Road.

Also starting at the back of the GFR parking lot are a series of single track dirt and rock trails, including the Lost and Found Trails. These can vary from easy to intermediate level and can be quite enjoyable for beginners to ride. During the wet season sections of these trails can get quite wet, in particular the trail that goes from the gravel portion of the Trillium Trail to Goulbourn Forced Road.

One of the trails that both my wife and I enjoy is the dirt single track section of the Trillium Woods Trail starting on the west side of GFR. Unfortunately it is going to become a compacted gravel/stone dust pathway, unless the draft SMH management plan is changed. It will lead you into the easier parts of the SMH trails, circled in red on the map.

On the other side of the GFR parking lot are the KL trails, including the Marathon Trail and other trails that are very popular for cross-country skiing. Unfortunately almost all of these trails southeast of the Conservation Land Boundary will be lost to development except for a short corridor that will be converted to a compacted gravel/stone dust pathway. For the most part these are beginner-friendly trails.

At the western end of these trails is the hydro cut trail that connects the KL system to the SMH system. After significant rainfalls these section of trail can become very muddy. It will eventually become a hard packed gravel/stone dust pathway.

South March Highlands Trails

You can access these trails from the the corner of Second Line and Klondike Road (K2). The SMH trails follow the IMBA stacked loop system with the trails getting more difficult as you get further into the system.

The trails circled in red on the map are the beginner friendly trails but they do have sections that may require beginners to walk their bikes for short distances. The easiest trails are Fast Out, Rockhopper Junior, Rockhopper Extension and M-Line. Bear Claw is more of an intermediate trail at the moment simply because it is fairly rough, but it is a lot of fun to ride. The draft SMH management plan proposes to convert Bear Claw into a compacted gravel-stone dust pathway. I would also include Rockhopper itself as a beginner friendly trail, since a lot of work has been done in recent years to improve the flow of the trail.

The FB trails, known as Inner and Outer Thigh, circled in dotted red lines on the map could also be described as beginner friendly with a few difficult sections except for the large number of narrow bridges that may intimidate some beginners, but they can be walked over.

click on map to enlarge

2009-08-12

Don't Do It – NDP Name Change

If the NDP (New Democratic Party) changes it's name to the Democratic Party it will be the final formalization of the repudiation of the Regina Manifesto and the abandonment of not just socialism, but of social democracy by the NDP.

It will be the acceptance of a political shift of power in Canada to the right in the name of hopefull electoral success. What else could be the desired result than the NDP replacing the Liberals on the centre left, and the Ignatieff Liberals taking the place of the former Progressive Conservatives on the centre right, with the Conservatives becoming the third party and pushing the Liberals to the right, rather than the NDP pushing them to the left.

The NDP has a proud record of accomplishments from Medicare to public pension and Canada's social safety net. Becoming a Liberal Party with Liberal policies may get it elected, but we will never see the party having the type of social and economic impact on Canada in the future, that it has had in the past, if it goes down that road.

If the NDP feels a name change is required to define itself to the Canadian people I would suggest calling themselves the Social Democratic Party of Canada. After all they do belong to the Socialist International along with the European Social Democratic parties. Indeed a name change to Social Democrats would give the NDP a perfect opportunity to explain social democracy to Canadians and it would identify the NDP with western european political parties that have sucessfully governed their countries.

Or, if they fear that name and they really feel a name change is necessary, keep the identity of the NDP and call themselves the New Democracy Party to put emphasis on their policies for electoral and democratic reforms, such as proportional representation.

Even the Working Peoples Party of Canada or Ordinary Canadians Party would be better than the Democratic Party which most Canadians identify with the wishy washy liberalism of the American Democratic Party. You would only do that if you wanted to be identified as Liberals because you believed electoral success was more important than principles.

2009-08-06

Mayor Larry and Reasonable Doubt

While O’Brien may have been “walking a fine line” in his conversations with Kilrea, Cunningham said, “I am unable to conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that he committed a criminal offence.”

-- Justice Douglas Cunningham, quoted in the Ottawa Citizen
While the trial may be over and the verdict in, thousands of Ottawa residents still have more than a reasonable doubt as to Larry O'Brien's competency as Mayor of Ottawa.

2009-07-29

Summer Blogging Frustrations and The War on Workers

Summer Blogging Frustrations and The War on Workers

Those who have followed The Fifth Column from the beginning will know that summer is a slow time for the blog when I find my time taken up with other things and the blog becomes intermittent.

This summer has been particularly frustrating because while preoccupied with other things I have found myself thinking about things to blog about but too frustrated to do it. This is primarily because we are in the middle of the War on Workers in this country at the same time as our American friends are battling the War on Health Care and, in particular, the War on Canadian Health Care.

I found myself vacationing in Sudbury when the vote results from Local 6500 came in. As a student at Laurentian University I worked for INCO and was a member of Local 6500 and walked the picket lines with my brothers and sisters who depended on working at INCO for their livelihood.

I call upon all readers of the Fifth Column to give their full support to my brothers and sisters in Sudbury.


More at The Real News

Please feel free to use the following on your blogs or web pages.

Fair Deal Now
Support Local 6500 Sudbury

2009-06-18

Alberta Finance Ministers Remarks, Mental Illness, Crime, and Bill 44

Lost in the uproar over Alberta Finance Minister Iris Evans remarks attacking Alberta working parents ability to raise children, were these remarks about education, as reported by the CBC:

She also said a lack of education is ruining the upbringing of some children and leading to mental illness and crime.

"The huge failure of Canadians is not to educate the children properly, and then why should we be surprised when they have mental illnesses or commit dreadful crimes?" she said.
Can we assume the minister would thus disapprove of giving parents the right to pull their children from school when they do not like what is being taught, or is it just more conservative doubletalk.

2009-06-15

More Liberal Nothingness From Ignatieff

So what are the Liberals' conditions for keeping the government in power. Well actually there are none. The Liberals are not demanding that the government actually do anything, only that it report on what it is doing.

As the CBC reports:

According to Ignatieff, the government must meet the following four conditions to maintain support from the Liberals:

- Provide more details about improving the employment insurance system before the House of Commons votes on budget estimates at the end of the week. The government has said it will introduce unspecified new EI proposals in the fall.

- Give more information about the rate of stimulus spending than included in last Thursday's progress report.

- Show more details on the government's plan to contain the ballooning deficit, instead of offering what Ignatieff called "rosy projections."

- Provide clearer answers on the government's plan to deal with Canada's medical isotopes shortage.
Yessirree, they have to “provide more details”, “give more information”, “show more details” and “provide clearer answers”. However, they are not required to actually do anything.

That's the Liberal hardline. Go Iggy Go.

2009-06-12

Damn Lawyers Causing Problems – Catholic Church on Priest Child Sexual Abuse

It's all because of the lawyers. If it weren't for the lawyers child sexual abuse victims would approach the church quietly and ask for hush money. So it appears. The Catholic Church has an army of lawyers to help it cover up it's actions and avoid responsibility for the abuse it's priests, and itself as an institution, have perpetrated on young boys. They should understand it is a lawyers responsibility to advise his clients on the best means to obtain justice, especially when they have been abused by the people, and the institution, that were supposed to safeguard their spiritual well being. Does it not occur the them that the responsibility for them being sued lies with the abusive priest and the complicit church as an institution, and not with the victim's lawyer.

Apparently not, according to the Ottawa Citizen.

2009-06-08

Mayor Larry's Lawyer Calls His Client a Stooge ?

The Ottawa Citizen reports:

Lawyer David Paciocco said the law Crown prosecutors used to charge O’Brien was never intended to apply to conversations between private individuals who are unable to affect a government patronage appointment.
The article continued:
He called these “Larry, Curly and Moe conversations” between private citizens.
We know who Larry is. Who are Curly and Moe ?

2009-06-05

Canada's Hockey Legacy

Can they do it. The Toronto Star reports:

The dream of another NHL team in Toronto was unveiled today, though even the pitchmen for the project admit it is a long way from coming true.
The proposal contains some unique features that may be the key to the teams success.
-- Twenty-five percent of the Legacy's annual profits would be divided between charitable foundations and non-profit organizations. Carnegie's Future Aces Foundation for at-risk youth would be the first recipients.
-- About 15,000 seats for every Legacy game would cost no more than $50 apiece.
So how would such a team be financially feasible. Perhaps by appealing to the players love of the game rather than their greed. There may just be enough players in the league, and some of them superstars, who see this as a chance to be part of something special – a team in the best hockey town in the NHL (and the best market) that allows ordinary working hockey fans to watch the games and devotes a substantial portion of profits, not to owners greed, but to charity. For this there may be enough Canadian players willing to play, not for outrageous salaries, but for decent salaries looking for a chance to put a superteam together and keep the Stanley Cup in Canada forever.

Indeed it is a dream. Will they make it come true.

2009-06-01

Rex on Michaelle on the Inuit and Seals



I am not usually a big fan of Rex Murphy but his rant above is right on.

And those looking for a more substantive argument can read An Enviro's Case for Seal Hunt at thetyee.ca.

2009-05-31

Richard's GPS Trail Maps

My new site for posting my trail maps is up and running and I think it looks good. I have some background information posted plus links to all the existing maps.

I used Blogger's simplest template and I think it's a good fit for the project. It is a work in progress. Eventually all the maps will be moved so there are small versions viewable on the site and clicking on them brings up the full map. I hope to add more annotations to the maps along with trail descriptions and photos, and of course more maps.

Check it out at:

http://gpstrailmaps.blogspot.com/

2009-05-28

No More OC Transpo Strikes - Why

One sentence says it all:

"Acting Mayor Michel Bellemare, along with the city manager, solicitor, and OC Transpo general manager worked out the deal with the union’s local president Andre Cornellier and international representative Randy Graham over the last few weeks."

2009-05-27

The Joy of Undocumented Trails

On the weekend we were hiking near the Lime Kiln and came across a trail that I was unaware of. We had skied or snowshoed along this route but thought it was just a winter route. Both ends of it are fairly well hidden so it was a fluke that we found it without tracks in the snow.

That, and the fact that I was exploring some other undocumented trails behind Stittsville last week, got me thinking about undocumented trails.

So what are undocumented trails. Well the simplest definition is trails without maps, or at least without official maps.

An internet search could not find any maps of, or references to, the Stittsville trails that I explored so I feel confident in considering them to be undocumented.

The trail near the Lime Kiln fits that description as it is not on the NCC official trail map. Neither is the one kilometre technical trail that is known to mountain bikers as the Lime Kiln Trail, although it was on an earlier version of the NCC map as an unnamed trail. The NCC designates the wide trail from parking lot P10 to Richmond Road as the “Lime Kiln Trail”.

Personally, one of the biggest joys of undocumented trails, besides riding an unknown trail for the first time and not knowing what I will find, is documenting them. I have always had a thing about maps and the ability to actually become a map maker is really rewarding. So I have spent the last few biking seasons starting to map all the western greenbelt trails. It is currently a work in progress. I plan to move my maps to a new home and add trail descriptions and eventually photographs. Watch for an announcement in the next few weeks.

Undocumented trails tend to be unofficial trails that were not planned, or built by, any official entity but created by trail users.

An architect once proposed that when designing open spaces pathways should not be planned in advance. Rather the space should be left open for users to walk across and the users of the space will create paths where they are best suited. The designers would then build the pathways were the users have walked.

In many ways that principle can be applied to trails. Often the users know best. Certainly the greenbelt is full of unofficial user created trails and these are some of the best trails in the system. Surprisingly the National Capital Commission (NCC), known for being overly bureaucratic, does not appear to have made any effort to close such trails, even placing signposts on some in the Old Quarry area.

However, the City of Ottawa, during the South March Highlands (SMH) Management Plan process, has proposed that many of the existing “unofficial” trails in the SMH be closed as part of the process of legitimizing the trail system. As far as I know, none of the closures are for specific environmental reasons but more a matter of rationalizing the trail system.

If past experience is any indicator I think it will be difficult to convince users to stop using trails they have used for years. I suspect the city hopes that user groups that have been involved in the SMH management plan process will try to convince their members not to use the closed trails. It remains to be seen how they will respond. So far it appears that everyone, including the city, consultants and user groups have been acting in good faith during this process and I believe the city hopes users groups will feel they have enough “ownership” of the result to support it. The fact is that most trail users, whether they are hikers, mountain bikers, or cross country skiers do not belong to organized groups, and those that do are not necessarily going to do their groups bidding.

Perhaps the best policy for the city to pursue would be to leave the trail system the way it has naturally evolved except for measures to address specific environmental concerns or improve the sustainability of the trail system.

2009-05-23

Stittsville's Secret Trail System

click on map to enlarge

OK, it may be somewhat presumptuous of me to call it a secret trail system just because I was unaware of it. Actually, I knew there were trails back there as they connected to a trail/pathway that runs along the southwest edge of Stittsville that we ride on our hybrids. I always wondered where they went but I didn't expect them to be as extensive or as interesting.

The first section I checked out was the most southern section of trails. This includes sections that go over open grasslands and are not that interesting but, as anyone who has rode on grass will know, can be hard pedaling.

The most interesting trails went into the forest where some sections were marked with coloured ribbons. Parts of these trails were quite narrow with tree branches going into the trails, somewhat like old abandoned trails, except the ribbons suggest that they are possibly new trails that still need to be completely cleared. I followed the yellow trail till it seemed to disappear, then I noticed red ribbons and thought perhaps they just changed the colour of the ribbon. Later I ran into yellow ribbons again so I think I may just have lost the yellow trail and wandered onto the red trail. However, most of the trails do not have any ribbons or markings.

There are lots of intersecting trails in there. On the map you will notice numbered WayPoints that indicate intersections. If you do not see an intersection on the map it is because I have to go back and ride/map the intersecting trail.

At the northern end of the trail system are a couple of trails that go into areas where there are wooden structures and large 4X8 wood sheets. These look like they may be set up for paintballers to hide behind except that there are no signs of spilled paint, so maybe they are just play forts. It really is great for the neighbourhood kids to live in a small town and be able to go off by themselves and play in the bush. But then, I grew up in what was considered an urban neighbourhood, and we had rocks, and railway tracks, and a creek with quicksand, and even a slag dump to play around unsupervised.

In the middle section is a long trail heading towards Hazeldean Road. Somewhere past WayPoint 13 the trail deteriorates and at one point you realize you are no longer following a trail but are following deer tracks and are in the middle of dense bush struggling with your bike. That is when you do not want your GPS to fail because it is the only thing you have to lead you back to civilization. Luckily it led me to a fence along Hazeldean Road, where fortunately there was enough room under the wire to crawl through and push the bike through.

There really are some interesting features within this system, including a trail that runs along a creek, and a real interesting causeway/bridge over the trail with another alternative narrower more technical/difficult bridge a few feet further along.

There are quite a few sections where I had to walk my bike, not because the trail surface was technical but, to avoid being speared by tree branches growing into the trails. There were also some wet/muddy sections that could do with some trail work, but most of the trail work would consist of cutting back trees and brush along the trails.

This land is outside the urban boundary of Ottawa and from what I can tell from the Ottawa Zoning Map is partly zoned RU (Rural Countryside) and partly EP3 (Environmental Protection). I do not know who owns the land but there is certainly potential for a really fun greenbelt-like trail system here with a little/lot of work.

I hope to publish a complete map of the trail system (ride at your own risk) as it is as soon as I get the opportunity to ride and map all (or most of) the interconnecting trails.

click on map to enlarge

2009-05-20

Why The Religious Right Should Embrace Homosexuality

The religious right claims to believe that homosexuality is a form of sexual deviation.

The religious right claims to believes that god created sex only for the purpose of procreation and nothing, not abortion, not birth control, should prevent procreation.

So, if god created sex solely for the purpose of procreation, acts that cannot lead to procreation cannot be considered sexual. So while what homosexuals do in the privacy of their own homes may bring mutual pleasure, intimacy and bonding they cannot be considered sexual and thus not sexually deviant.

The religious right also claims that a homosexual society would be doomed because there would be no procreation. They know better. They know that homosexuals know how procreation works. They know that homosexuals want families and want the species to continue.

In a homosexual society gays and lesbians would ensure that by having sex together for the purpose of procreation and only for the purpose of procreation, There would be no birth control and no abortion because whenever people had sex it would only be for procreation.

Sex for procreation and only for procreation. It would be the religious right's nirvana.

2009-05-08

Gatineau Parkway: A Cyclists Dream or A Drivers Nightmare

In an earlier Fifth Column I stated:

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 National Capital Commission and The Royal Canadian Mounted Police are also aware of the safety problems and they have announced their solution, according to an article in the Ottawa Citizen which states:
Don't ride your bicycle in double file, in "packs" of more than 15 or speed through stop signs this summer.

The National Capital Commission and police are cracking down on cyclists and motorists in Gatineau Park as part of a share the road campaign prompted by the increasing number of traffic violations in the park each year.


RCMP Const. Suzanne Lefort said cyclists who ride in double file or in groups of more than 15 face $95 fines. Cyclists who run through stop signs face $15 fines, plus the loss of three demerit points if they have a driver's licence. Also, cyclists were warned about speeding last year, but this year they will be ticketed.

Drivers who exceed the speed limit by more than 40 km/h could have their vehicles impounded for seven days.
This has led to considerable reaction from the cycling community, including Letters to The Editor from Mike Abraham, Matt Surch, Alex MacKenzie and Avery Burdett.

Matt Surch describes the Gatineau Parkway as a road cyclists haven:
Cycling is a healthy practice with a rich tradition in the Ottawa Valley, home of the country's two oldest bike clubs, dating back to 1882. More than just a sport, cycling affords pleasurable movement through the city and its surroundings.

On any given day, hundreds of cyclists, many in their retirement years, seek the challenge of the hilly Gatineau Parkway to recreate, to live, on the bike. Many users ride the parkway more than once a week, for years.

Some ride alone, others in groups. By riding side-by-side, conversation flows. Other groups with a more competitive bent enjoy the parkway for its promise of training gains and the opportunity to practise road tactics such as drafting, working together as a group.

Yes, road cycling is in fact a team sport; working together to cover ground faster is the magic of cycling.

The parkway is special -- it is a haven for cyclists because it is a parkway; low car speeds are appropriate. Cyclists outnumber any other user group in the summer, including drivers. We feel like the parkway is our oasis in an otherwise hostile cycling environment.

Unfortunately, the NCC does not acknowledge cyclists on the parkway as a recreational user group. Instead, we are being treated just like traffic.
As the last quoted sentence indicates, the NCC does not see it that way, and that is the crux of the matter – should the NCC Parkway be seen as just another commuter road or as a recreational route for cyclists.

Of course the Gatineau Parkway is not just another commuter route. You don't close down a commuter route for a whole season, banning cars, and let a recreational user group use it as their own. But that is what is done with the Gatineau Parkway in the winter for cross country skiers. That does not stop people from using their vehicles to access the ski hills or trails or other recreational facilities. And it certainly contributes to tourism in the National Capital region and the local economy.

The Gatineau Parkway already has the hilly terrain that serious road cyclists love to ride and train on. So why not apply the same logic to the summer season, ban cars from the Gatineau Parkway, and take advantage of an even greater opportunity to turn the National Capital Region into an international destination for cyclists, not to mention providing a wonderful opportunity for local cyclists to develop their skills. It is such opportunities and facilities that produce Olympic Gold Medallists.

2009-05-01

May Day – Time To Organize

If ever there was a time for workers to organize it is now.

As a proud former member of USW Local 6500 I present these videos in honour of International Workers Day.





2009-04-30

And Then God Created The Tar Sands

And then god created the tar sands and placed them beneath the ground, while the dinosaurs roamed above, and instructed his followers to destroy the environment in order to dig them up for fuel.
This may be what some Alberta parents will be teaching their children while they are kept home from school when everyone else is being taught science.

2009-04-29

Mind Your Own Business

If you work for Siemens Building Technologies and you see people breaking the law, and they are doing it right beside a sign advising them that they are breaking the law, it is best to keep your mouth shut. Otherwise, one of the lawbreakers might report you and you could be fired, especially if the law being broken is a health regulation and the lawbreaker works for Health Canada.

This Could Be You

2009-04-20

Completing The Cuban Revolution - An Open Letter to Raul and Fidel Castro

The time is ripe for the completion of the final stages of the Cuban Revolution and the transition to a truly democratic and socialist society. Let us be clear. This must not be an American style “capitalist democracy” where wealthy corporate interests control the economy and political system, but a true peoples democracy.

I see three components to this transformation.

Economic Democracy – Beyond State Enterprises

This will include the expansion of the economy from state institutions to include small businesses, (where the owner works in the enterprise and earns his income from his labour and not from capital invested in the businesses) as well as co-operative enterprises, including both producer and consumer co-operatives.

Economic democracy must above all else ensure that foreign corporate interests are not allowed to dominate the economy.

Civil Democracy – Freedom of Expression and the Press

The revolution is truly strong enough to withstand competing ideas. The people of Cuba can be trusted with the full right of free expression, including full access to the Internet and the right of free expression on it, whether on forums, blogs or other means of communication.

As well a free press will invigorate the people and enhance the revolution. But we are not talking about the rights of corporate interests to build propaganda machines. We are talking about the rights of the people to have free journalistic expression by means such as newspapers, magazines, and the Internet, through their organizations such as labour unions and co-operatives, including co-operatives of journalists.

Political Democracy – Free Elections

It is time to move beyond one party politics - but not into corporate politics, where corporate interests dominate elections and conduct them as marketing campaigns. It is time to have real alternatives to the communist party candidates. These should come in the form of candidates from peoples organizations, such as labour unions and co-operatives, as well as independents. But election campaign funding and expenses must be restricted to ensure elections are grass roots activities and not marketing campaigns conducted by the wealthy.

Towards A Free Democratic and Socialist Cuba

Some will say that because this model does not mirror that of western democracies that it is not truly democratic.

Remember that Cuba had an American style “capitalist democracy” and when the people were about to elect Fidel Castro into government the corporate interests scuttled the election and it took a revolution for the people to put their chosen leader into power.

And I ask is our system truly democratic when the economic and political system is so heavily dominated by wealthy corporate interests as current events so obviously demonstrate.

I say to the leaders and people of Cuba you have a chance to set an example for the world of what a peoples democracy can truly be.