Sunday, 18 September 2011

The Most Annoying Thing About Cycling in Ottawa: Postscript

I was riding the shared bike path along the Ottawa River today and across from the War Museum on the pathway I noticed three yellow dots similar to the three yellow dots on roadways that mark where cars can activate traffic lights( I have tried using them on my bicycle with no effect). I can only assume that they serve the same purpose and, being on a bike path, are activated by bicycles. I returned via a different route so was not able to test them. However, if that logical assumption is true, it is doable. So why is it not done.

Previous Fifth Column Post

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Thinking It Through Brings Clarity

So what is an atheist who believes in a single secular public school system supposed to think about noon hour Muslim prayers in public schools.

The answer should be simple but first let us look at the context.

In the province of Ontario there are two publicly funded school systems, one for a specific religion and one for everybody else (all other religions and non-religious persons). If one did not have an understanding of the province's constitutional history, one might assume the religion with the separate school system was the largest religious group in the province, but actually it is the second largest group that gets special treatment.

This religion has it's own school system where they are allowed to indoctrinate students in their religion and adopt policies that provide "when there is an apparent conflict between denominational rights and other rights, the board will favour the protection of the denominational rights".

While the Roman Catholic Church, and it's separate school boards, may be exempt from the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Constitution Act, Section 29), I cannot ignore it.

Thus, as long as one religion is allowed to have it's own publicly funded school boards in which to indoctrinate students, the minimum reasonable accommodation that should be made for other religions, in the name of equality, is to allow them to use school facilities for prayer services for the convenience of students, as long as no one is compelled to attend such services.

The real solution, of course, is a constitutional amendment to remove discriminatory rights given to one religion and provide for one secular public school system in Ontario, as has been done in other provinces, including Quebec.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

The Most Annoying Thing About Cycling in Ottawa

We all agree that Ottawa is a great place for cycling, but it is not perfect. Apart from the fact that the City of Ottawa and NCC have to do a better job of completing the system and linking their pathways together there is the problem of a lack of washroom and drinking water facilities along the pathways.

However that is not my biggest complaint. Ottawa is supposed to be encouraging and promoting cycling and bicycles are supposed to be considered vehicles. But it all seems somewhat hypocritical.

Can you imagine someone in a vehicle stopped at a red light virtually forever, unable to move, without getting out of their vehicle and walking over to the side of the road and pushing a button. But that is the reality, more often than not, for cyclists in Ottawa who are stuck at red lights until a "real" vehicle or a pedestrian comes up to the intersection. It's that or just run the red light out of frustration and anger at the hypocrisy and lack of respect.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Realigning Canada's Political Spectrum

Canadians have traditionally held social democratic values while supporting centrist political parties. Canadians support universal single payer public health insurance, public pensions and a social safety net, all of which, at the federal level, have been proposed by leftist political parties but legislated by centrists political parties. These parties traditionally were the Liberal Party, slightly to the left of centre, and the Progressive Conservative Party, slightly to the right of centre.

The new extreme right wing federal Conservative Party of Stephen Harper (and Ontario PC Party of Harris and Hudak) are historical anomalies.

But the rise of the New Democratic Party in the recent election, and the rapid decline of the Liberal Party are signs that a change may be underway.

Some are suggesting a move to a two party left/right alignment with a merger of the Liberal and New Democratic Parties, but I do not see that happening.

What I see happening is a realignment closer to the traditional Canadian model.

I see the demise of the Liberal Party with it's right wing moving to the Conservatives and it's left wing moving to the New Democrats. I see the right wing Liberals joining with the former progressive wing of the Conservatives to move that party closer to it's former position slightly right of centre, while the New Democratic Party fills the position formerly held by the Liberals but somewhat further left of centre.

This would mean that the centre of Canadian politics would move to the left leading to more progressive future governments.

But I also see a further possibility of a New Democratic Party government bringing in proportional representation so that a true left wing party could emerge, with political representation equivalent to it's public support, along with a similar right wing party. The Greens would also get representation equivalent to their public support.

Their would be the potential for a more democratic system that made majority governments unlikely and co-operative (rather than confrontational) politics not only possible, but a necessity.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Celebrating the Natural World @ Beaver Pond Park - Schedule and Photo Contest

Algonquin Union Presents: “A Living Temple” - South March Highlands
Honouring Grandfather William Commanda


Beaver Pond Park (end of Walden Dr., Kanata)
Saturday Sept 10th, 6am - 11pm

(click on images to enlarge)Union-Algonquin-Union

Donations Welcome