Saturday, 23 April 2011

It's Time

You don't have to choose between tweedle dumb and tweedle dumber



Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Minority Governments for Dummies (and Tory PMs)

  • the voters elect the House of Commons to govern
  • the leader of the current government (the government before the election) has the right to meet the House and attempt to gain its confidence, however usually the party with the most seats gets the first opportunity to be Prime Minister and lead the government
  • responsible government requires that the Prime Minister maintains the confidence of the House of Commons to govern
  • a minority government cannot survive if it attempts to govern as if it had a majority
  • a Prime Minister cannot bully the House of Commons into supporting him by threatening an election if he doesn't get his way
  • there is always a Prime Minister in waiting willing to attempt to gain and maintain the confidence of the House if the Prime Minister cannot or is not not willing to
  • a government is legitimate, and only legitimate, if it has the confidence of the House of Commons
  • minority governments can work if a Prime Minister recognizes it is the House of Commons that was elected to govern, not him by divine right
  • minority governments can implement, and have implemented, important measures including Old Age Pensions, Medicare and the Canada Pension Plan
Minority Governments in Canada | Mapleleafweb.com

Thursday, 14 April 2011

South March Highlands and Carp Hills - NCC Role in Protecting Natural Environment Lands: Beyond The Greenbelt

This post is also being sent via email to National Capital Commission CEO Marie Lemay
( Marie.Lemay@ncc-ccn.ca )

click on map to enlarge

The National Capital Commission has recently published maps identifying natural environment lands within the National Capital Region as part of it's concept plans for the Greenbelt Master Plan Review.

Interestingly, none of the lands identified are within the urban boundary of the City of Ottawa. It is, as if by definition, the NCC has decided that lands within the urban boundary have no environmental value.

Of course, in the case of the South March Highlands we know that is not true. There are lands within the urban boundary and within SMH that are even zoned Environmental Protection, and others that should be, and were, but were rezoned for reasons that had nothing to do with their environmental value.

There are undoubtedly other lands of environmental value within the Ottawa urban boundary as well. It is unfortunate that the NCC has decided they are unworthy of recognition.

One of the things I noticed right away from the NCC map was the identification of one large natural environment area comprising the South March Highlands and the Carp Hills. I just recently had the opportunity to hike some of the Carp Hills land (some of which the City of Ottawa apparently owns) and was quite impressed with it's natural environment value. In examining the City Zoning Map it became obvious that a significant amount of the land identified by the NCC as natural environment is not zoned Environmental Protection (not that that guarantees it will be protected). I expect this applies to other natural environment lands identified on the NCC map.

So now that the NCC has identified these lands as natural environment lands what are they going to do about it. They will do a great disservice to the community if all they accomplish is creating a false belief within the public that these lands are actually protected from development.

Now that they have raised the public's expectations the NCC must fulfil their responsibilities and meet those expectations and take the necessary measures, whether by means of purchase/expropriation or some form of ironclad federal protection that neither landowners, developers nor the OMB can overturn, to protect these lands from development. The public expects and deserves no less.

click on map to enlarge

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

The Debate: Canadian Values Win

The most interesting thing I noticed about the debate was where all the leaders, or at least all of the federalist leaders, agreed.

These were on what I would consider to be the most basic of Canadian values, but values that many of us suspect are not dear to the heart of Stephen Harper, yet he provided vigorous defences of them - public health care and multiculturalism.

It speaks well to their broad support among Canadians that not even Stephen Harper would publicly oppose them knowing it would be political suicide.

The other issues I particularly noticed were the ones that were only raised by Jack Layton, electoral reform, particularly proportional representation and aboriginal issues.

Jack also gets some points for language, being the only leader to use the term ""hashtag" in the debate and "commentariat" during the post debate scrum.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Ottawa's Green Bin Program - Time for City Council to Lead

An Open Letter to Ottawa City Council and Residents
RE: Residential Solid Waste Service Level Review Recommendations


This open letter is being posted on my blog, The Fifth Column ( http://the5thc.blogspot.com/ ) and being sent via email to the the following city councillors:
Jim.Watson@ottawa.ca
Allan.Hubley@ottawa.ca
Marianne.Wilkinson@ottawa.ca
David.Chernushenko@ottawa.ca


There is a time for politicians to follow and a time for politicians to lead. If one of our goals is to make Ottawa a Green City then Ottawa City Council will have to provide leadership to make it happen.

We will never become a Green City if City Council punishes those that are doing the right thing and rewards those that are part of the problem.

There have been issues raised regarding animals getting into Green Bins and maggots in Green Bins. I have never had these issues with our Green Bin, probably because the Green Bins are more secure than most garbage cans. However, I have had them with our garbage containers, but very few times over 30 years living in Ottawa. The fact is that the colour of the container has nothing to do with these problems.

These problems relate to organic waste so the best way to eliminate or reduce them is to increase how often the organic waste is picked up and that is what the recommended plan does.

So the solution is really simple. Residents just need to use the system the way it is designed. Recyclables go into the Blue and Black Bins, organics into the Green Bin and what little is left, mainly non-recyclable excessive packaging, goes into the garbage (which could be picked up monthly as far as I am concerned).

As far as using the Green Bin being more costly or complicated, it need not be. We do not need to listen to those that see this as an opportunity to sell us more products like specialized bags that contradict the very idea behind the Green Bin of eliminating and reducing unnecessary waste. Nor do we need to listen to the media that think they are being helpful by suggesting all sorts of complicated solutions to non-existing problems.

We do not use a bag for our kitchen container, indeed rather than the container that came with the Green Bin we use a kitchen garbage can without any liner and dump it into the Green Bin when full. This is more convenient as it is larger and needs dumping less often. We rinse it clean about once a week.

The Green Bin would probably not need lining either but we have cats and find the kitty litter does stick to the plastic so we line it with old newspapers. I put newspapers along the bottom and up the sides a bit and then all along the sides from the top to cover the inside completely. I did have to slightly compromise my "not buy anything new" policy by using a very small amount of masking tape to help hold the newspaper to the sides of the bin at the top. That was a ten minute job the first time and under five minutes each time since and it does not need to be done each week as often the lining remains in the bin after dumping.


You can also use outdoor composting bags by cutting them down a few inches but that again requires more unnecessary consumption and waste.

It is very clear that there really should not be any controversy here. All that is required is for people to use the waste reduction and collection system the way it is designed to be used.

Unless the City wants to abandon any hope of being a Green City, City Council must support those that are doing the right thing, not those that are part of the problem.


To read more about my views on the Green Bin Program please see The Fifth Column: Why Sabotage The Green Bin Program