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.


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


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.


South March Highlands Trail Plan – Where Are The Environmentalists


After having time to reflect on the March Open House and read over more carefully the Display Boards, that are now posted on the City of Ottawa website, I have further reflections.

Unfortunately there is still not the detailed information available on the website that would be required to do a real comprehensive analysis of the proposed trail plan.

The Proposed Trail Plan and the Environment

When this process first began my main concern was reports of overzealous environmentalists wanting to close off all access to the South March Highlands. Ironically, the opposite seems to be the problem at the moment – an apparent lack of concern (as far as I can see) from environmentalists over the proposals to denaturalize significant portions of natural rugged single track trail. The more I look at the trail map the more I realize just how extensive the proposed denaturalization is.

The most glaring and troubling proposal involves the Trillium Woods, which has been identified as the most environmentally significant and sensitive portion of the management area. In the Trillium Woods the plan calls for turning the narrow natural trails into 2-3 metre wide compacted granular surface stone dust paths. One can only ask what are they thinking. The only possible reason for that is because of it's proximity to development and houses. As an environmentalist I find this to be unconscionable.

But the Trillium Woods is not the only part of the management area where the city plans to denaturalize narrow trails and turn them into wide hard packed paths as the map below shows.

Perhaps some compromise is necessary. And in that spirit I would propose that such paths be limited to Zone 3, the least significant environmental zone, and the zone that includes the area that attracted the broadest public interest, the Beaver Pond Area, and is thus, self-identified as the area where most people would want easy access.

In the more environmentally significant areas we need to do all we can to protect the natural environment, and that does not include building wide hard-packed paths through it.

As I have stated several times before on this subject in The Fifth Column:

As an environmentalist and serious hiker and mountain biker my first and primary concern is that the trails be kept in their natural rugged state and be retained as natural surface single track trails.
I call on all Ottawa environmentalists to rally together to protect this natural area and it's natural rugged single track trails.

Map of SMH Environmental Zones

Map of Proposed SMH Trail System

Description of Proposed SMH Trail Types

Further Information Resources

City of Ottawa - South March Highlands Conservation Forest Management Plan

Brunton Report 2008 - South March Highlands

Brunton Report 2004 - South March Highlands

THE FIFTH COLUMN: Submission re: South March Highlands Conservation Forest Management Plan Draft Trail Plan

THE FIFTH COLUMN: Submission re: South March Highlands Conservation Forest Management Plan


South March Highlands Management Plan Information Update

The City of Ottawa has finally posted the information presented at the March Open House on it's website. Please note in particular the map of the proposed trail system.

South March Highlands Management Plan Open House Display Boards (March 2009)


Legalizing Spousal Rape In Afghanistan – Not So Foreign to Canadian Law

As the CBC reports, Afghanistan's proposed law to legalize spousal rape, or to put it in other terms “make it illegal for women to refuse their husbands sex”, has rightly been widely condemned.

However, we would be wrong to characterize this as some sort of Islamic barbarism foreign to western civilizations.

Indeed, as the Globe and Mail reports, the same provision existed in Canadian law up until 1983.

Indeed, the concept has had a long history in the jurisprudence of the United Kingdom, Commonwealth countries, Canada and the United States, as the following articles record:

Historical Development of the Offence of_Rape (Bruce A. MacFarlane, Q.C. Deputy Minister of Justice Deputy Attorney General for the Province of Manitoba)

Making Marital Rape A Crime: A Long Road Traveled, A Long Way to Go (Lynn Hecht Schafran, Director, National Judicial Education Program; Stefanie Lopez-Boy, Program Associate, National Judicial Education Program; Mary Rothwell Davis)
It took a long time to banish from the law books of the west, It should not be allowed to be put on the law books of Afghanistan at a time when Canadian soldiers are dying there, supposedly in the name of women's rights and human rights.


Ottawa Mayor Larry O'Brien Resigns

In a statement issued 2009-04-01 00:01, Mayor Larry stated:

The time for me to step down has come. When I first decided to give up my position as the CEO of a pseudo high tech company to run for mayor many of my friends thought it was the most foolish thing I had ever done. But I was determined to win the race and prove that you can fool most of the people most of the time. Many of you may think that giving up this lucrative position during a time of economic uncertainty is a foolish thing top do but I assure you, and you know that my word is my bond, that I am no fool. For those that do not believe that I would ever do such a thing all I can say is that I am not fooling. It is time to move on. I would like to thank all of my supporters, especially those few that still support me, and especially my Chief of Staff, Avril Fuhl.
Farewell Larry.