Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A Not So Happy Canada Day, Eh?

Tomorrow is Canada Day – July 1 – 143 years of our confederation. We’re not as old nor do we have the history of our big brother to the south – the US of eh, eh?

But we Canadians have a lot to be proud of.

Or we did.

Once upon a time.

Our population continues to grow – Statistics Canada, the federal government agency which keeps track of such things, tells us we’re now a country of over 34 million people. They also tell us that now 50 percent of our population wasn’t born here, and just over half of those people don’t speak either of our two official languages.

Wait a sec . . .

How can you go into someone’s home, take up roots there, and re-arrange the furniture without anyone minding?

That’s what has been going on in our home and native land, mostly in our large urban areas. There are streets in Toronto and Vancouver where if you don’t speak Chinese or Hindu, you won’t get very far – in fact you are made to feel uncomfortable intentionally.

If you ask the residents or business owners on those streets for directions, you’ll be told: “sorry, I don’t speak any English.” Funny though, they always speak perfect English when they tell you they don’t.

Newly settled parents to our great land even tell their kids not to play with anyone who’s not like them after school – they send them to special schools where all the kids are from families of their homeland, so during school they are free to do as they wish.

How unCanadian is that?

We warmly welcome newcomers to our great land, only to be given the shaft.
If and when we humble and polite Canadians mumble something about that being wrong, how it is best for all the kids in the neighbourhood to play together, the newcomers join forces upon us, using our own Human Rights and Freedoms laws against us, claiming we are in the wrong for discriminating against them.

Being the peace-loving, good natured and overly polite Canadians we are, we go back and sit on the bench, keeping it warm, hoping that one day the newcomers to our land will feel comfortable enough to break bread with and be our friends.

Problem is, the newcomers to our once great land are already quite comfortable, living their lives just as they did back in their native land, without you or me.

Essentially, they have already established their own country within our country.
They have setup their own culturally-specific schools, so that their kids will never have to mix and mingle with anyone outside their race or creed. They create their own restaurants, shops and businesses, hiring only others from their homeland, so they don’t have any misunderstandings with you or me. They read newspapers written for them, in their native languages, listen to music and radio stations in their native tongues – hell even good old CBC – Canada’s national broadcaster – is televising Hockey Night In Canada in Hindu so the newcomers can watch our game, without learning English or French.

You know something is amiss when Canadian hockey icon Don Cherry is replaced – period.

It isn’t just our national broadcaster, all government institutions and many big businesses are feeding the storm, making it one nasty beast.

The running joke used to be, in order to work for the Government of Canada, you had to like poutine on your hockey puck. In other words, you had to be fully bilingual, in both our official languages of English or French.

Not so any more – oh the federal government still hires fully bilingual people, but so long as you speak English OR French AND another language, they’ll almost certainly take you. Government brass love to brag about how they offer their services in over 120 different languages.

Not that those who come to this great land don’t deserve the same benefits as those who were born here. I’m sure whatever civil servant or politician came up with the notion of offering government services in a multitude of languages had the noblest of intentions.

However noble the initial intentions were, the trends and statistics clearly show that was one of many errors of judgement.

We’re being kicked out of our own country, slowly and silently by newcomers that just don’t want anything to do with Canadians.

Oh they’ll cry racism, and proudly hold up their citizenship cards – we give those things to anyone these days – another fault of our governmental policy.

But they are the ones being racist.

We aren’t the ones telling our kids not to play with their kids. We aren’t the ones not hiring people because they don’t look and sound like us. We aren’t the ones intentionally making others that don’t look like us or sound like us feel awkward or uncomfortable.

We’re just being typically Canadian, politically correct, peaceful, welcoming anyone into our homes, our schools, our workplaces – our lives.

Maybe we shouldn’t be so damn welcoming?

Happy Canada Day.

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Monday, June 28, 2010

Okay, Toronto Looks Like a War Zone – Remind Me Why?

Much of the world’s media focused on Toronto, Ontario, Canada the weekend just past. Images of police cars on fire, masked protesters throwing things, and running rampant among a wall of poorly prepared heavily armed police and military personal – oh and American President Barack Obama was there too.

My favourite image – one which perhaps captured the weekend’s activities best – was that of an innocent bystander, just coming out of a corner store with a jug of milk, suddenly surrounded by a dozen or more police in full riot gear, throwing the poor local resident down on the grown, handcuffing her, and then tossing her into the back of a passing mini van, which then took off to destinations unknown.

Later, the poor person – who had all the proper identifications on her person when the incident occurred – was released without being charged from a temporary jail the police had set up at a former movie studio.

All of this thanks to a semi-regular gathering of the world’s most powerful political leaders from twenty of the most economically and politically powerful nations on Earth – the G20 Summit.

The G20 Summit was held in Canada’s largest city this past weekend, and for as long as these meetings of minds has been held, they are always overshadowed by the ravaging throngs of protesters, violently and without any regard for anyone – even themselves – destroying everything and anything around them.

All because they want the world peace.

Funny, when the protest movement began from its grass roots in the 1960’s, they really were peaceful, chanting pretty much the same slogans they screamed this weekend.

“NO Justice NO Peace!”
But back in the 1960’s, even up until the late 1970’s, most of these protests were peaceful walks down the street, with the occasional person being hauled off by police.

According to the Integrated Security Unit (ISU) which coordinated the security for the G20 Summit, over 900 people were arrested, and five temporary courts have been created to deal with the enormous backlog of cases.

Regardless of the numbers of protesters, the Canadian government estimates about a billion Canadian dollars have been spent on protecting the 20 world leaders and their support staffs for the weekend-long summit.

That dollar figure is expected to rise, as more police were called in than originally planned for, to handle the massive riots in Toronto’s downtown core – even retired cops were brought in to bring back the peace.

But that peace never came during the summit – all is quiet now that it is over. So one wonders just where that billion dollars went, because it certainly didn’t prevent one of the most peaceful cities in the world from becoming a war zone for two days.

Maybe that billion dollars will be used to clean up the mess which was left behind – storefronts were smashed, buildings spray painted, fences overturned, police cars burned.

Toronto Mayor David Miller obviously isn’t intending his city pay for the damage – today he told reporters that it’s unfair to expect anyone but the federal government to pay for the damage, as it was organized by the Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

And so another battle has begun – between Mayor and Prime Minister, as they hammer out the details of who takes responsibility for the mess left by the G20.

Hey, I’ve got an idea, wouldn’t it make more sense to have these G20 meetings virtually? What’s the worst that could happen if all the leaders participated in a virtual teleconference, or videoconference? The technology is very good – I’ve had videoconferences in the past and the quality is just like watching TV.

Then again, maybe the G20 leaders just like the attention, to fuel their egos.

“Look! Down there! It’s an Italian flag – they are fighting over me!”

“Non, non, that is obviously a French man, look at the cut of his bandanna.”

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Friday, June 25, 2010

H1N1 Swine Flu Could Be Back in October

As we in the western world enjoy the lazy hazy days of summer, the flu is probably the last thing on our minds – that’s a winter thing, right?

But yesterday, the American Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices began planning ahead, recommending children between six-months and nine-years-old receive not one, but two doses of H1N1 Swine Flu vaccine this fall, as the notorious killer flu continues to circulate the globe.

Every year, the three most common strains of the flu virus are placed in the seasonal flu vaccine. The World Health Organization (WHO) monitors these strains, and currently the H1N1 Swine Flu pandemic virus is still the most prevalent one around the world – which is why the American CDC is suggesting it be included in the seasonal flu vaccine.

The two shots for kids is intended for children who haven’t received an H1N1 vaccine ever, as their bodies don’t have any way to fight the dreaded H1N1 Swine Flu.

CDC estimates that about 60 million people – that’s 20 percent of the American population – were infected with H1N1 Swine Flu since the spring of 2009.

Most flu viruses attack children, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems hardest, but H1N1 Swine Flu affected children hardest, as they haven’t built up immunity from past flu vaccinations over the course of many years.

Not that adults are immune from the deadly virus, they may eventually be included in the H1N1 Swine Flu vaccination program in the fall as well – but children are still more at risk from this particular strain of flu.

Last year, from April to November, the CDC says about 830 to 1,730 children under 17-years-old died from H1N1 Swine Flu.

On June 11, 2009, WHO declared an H1N1 Swine Flu pandemic, moving their alert level to “phase 6,” marking the first global pandemic since the 1968 Hong Kong Flu. About one million people died between 1968 and 1969 from the Hong Kong Flu.

WHO’s latest update on May 30, 2010 says 214 countries and overseas territories or communities have reported laboratory confirmed cases of pandemic influenza H1N1 2009, resulting in over 18,138 deaths.

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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Welcome to First Grade, Here’s Your Free Condom

Small town America is growing up fast, or at least in one small community, where little kids – as young as five and six – will get free condoms when the school year begins this September.

Provincetown, Massachusetts, USA, surrounded by Cape Cod Bay and the Atlantic ocean is anything but a sleepy town, since the local school created a controversial policy, where any elementary-age child requesting condoms will be given them free, with or without parental support.

Children won’t just be handed the condoms, the school will provide educational information about safe sex, but then they will be handed the condoms, no questions asked.

Many parents have complained, some even writing letters formally requesting their children not be given condoms if they ask. However, the Provincetown school board was ready for this – the new policy clearly states that parents are not allowed to ask that their children be excluded from free the condoms on request policy.

Despite parents angered by this, the school board claims they are not in favour of students having sex, but they are also not in favour of kids being denied birth control.

Starting in September, any of the 66 kids in high school and 89 kids in the lower grades can get condoms if they ask, without their parents ever knowing – the school board’s policy is to provide education and condoms, but they won’t be keeping a list of those who request and receive the free condoms. And they will not report back to parents that their son or daughter has requested and received birth control.

Is it up to school boards or shouldn’t parents take a more active role in their kid’s development?

Granted, sitting across from your son or daughter and having a heart-to-heart about sex isn’t comfortable or easy. But being a parent isn’t always comfortable or easy period.

When your son accidentally crashes the car, or your daughter comes home well past her curfew, you talk to them. Why can’t you talk to them about sex?

Sex is everywhere in our de-sensitized overhyped world. From billboards and night club signs, to advertisements on television and radio, to the wild and crazy Internet, where the porn industry makes more money than all sales – including porn – on eBay.

In this de-sensitized overhyped world, parents have forgotten just how visible sex is, and now a small town in the States is taking steps to protect their kids, from that parental mistake.

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A War Zone For Sale – Canada’s New Global Image?

This week, Canada plays host to the most economically potent, politically powerful world leaders, as the country hosts both the G8 Summit in Huntsville, Ontario, and the larger G20 Summit in Toronto, Ontario.

Canada’s Prime Minister, Stephen Harper says this is a time for the country to shine, to show us off on the world stage.

That may be true, as media from around the world will be following the antics of world leaders during both summits.

However, consider this, in order to host both these events, security measures so stringent have been put in place, the image these international media-types are getting isn’t the Canada that we’ve come to know and love – or the rest of the world for that matter.

Internationally, Canadians are thought of as being a peaceful lot. Overly polite, friendly, beer drinking hockey fans – that’s us.

Thousands of riot police on horseback, foot and in armoured vehicles, waving batons, armed with fully automatic weapons, while military helicopters hover overhead. Huge concrete barricades, and solid steel fences surround designated “security zones,” as supposedly peaceful Canadian citizens are thoroughly questioned by heavily armed police prior to entering or leaving these “security zones.”

That’s the image the media are seeing now – today – right this very moment, because all the above is going on right now in Huntsville and Toronto.

Statues and historic buildings have been boarded up to protect them from battle. Mailboxes, newspaper stands, even some trees have been removed, because the lame-ass security company – which isn’t even licensed to practice security in Ontario (they are from British Columbia) – says they can be used as weapons against police.

Peel and stick Plexiglas – I didn’t even know they made that stuff – has been applied to the first three stories of all windows on all buildings within specific security zones. Other buildings have been boarded up with planks of wood.

These are the images the media from around the world are getting of peaceful Canada.

Famous tourist attractions are being shut down. Toronto’s most internationally recognizable symbol – the CN Tower has been ordered closed by the police, for fear it could draw protesters or even terrorists.

Toronto’s Major League Baseball team, the Toronto Blue Jays were scheduled to play a game here in Toronto this weekend – that’s been moved, again for security concerns.

Family-run mom and pop shops and restaurants – which really give Toronto it’s peaceful, multicultural spice – are allowed to be open, but as the concrete barricades separate them from the rest of the city, they won’t have any customers and stand to lose thousands of dollars.

Tourists are being warned not to come to Canada during the summits – the American State Department even issued a travel advisory for Toronto, advising American’s not to come here.

The international media is being shown a Canada which resembles a country in the midst of a civil war, where the totalitarian government dictates where its citizens can and can’t be by use of military law.

That’s not really Canada – honest. Unfortunately seeing is believing.

What’s to come?

If history repeats itself – as it unfortunately often does – thousands of angry people will rattle the cages setup around the security zone, throwing things, challenging the police, military and security persons on site.

Then the media will see a war zone, as riot police go in with their water cannons, tanks, and weapons, to quash the riot, all under the guise of protecting the peace.

Funny, how whenever the world’s most powerful leaders get together, the issues they came to discuss are always overshadowed in the media by the violent protests.

But then, everyone loves to see someone get shot by a water cannon – those images attract more readers and watchers, which in turn brings in more advertising dollars, which is why the media from around the world will be wined and dined, but still focus on the violence on the street, rather than the stuffy suits and ties in the boardrooms.

Yes Prime Minister Stephen Harper, by playing host to the G8 and G20 Summits, the world will see Canada front and center. But it isn’t the Canada you wanted them to see now, is it?

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Monday, June 21, 2010

King of Pop Starts Week of Summer

Summer officially – and finally! – arrived today at 7:28 this morning. The summer solstice gives us the most daylight of any day of the year, as our planet’s orbit is closest to the Sun.

Usually this is the time of year when thermostats rise, people take time off to enjoy the longer days, and kids chase ice cream trucks because they are out of school.

But the start of summer will be marred by the tragic, and bizarre death of the King of Pop – Michael Jackson, who died a year ago this Friday.

Actually, here in Canada, it will be interesting to see who gets more press – famed singer Michael Jackson, or the gathering of 20 of the most powerful world leaders in Toronto for the G20 Summit, which just so happens to take place the day after “MJ’s” death (though the G8 takes place on prior to and on his death).

Toronto, Canada is locked down like a prison, with thousands of police, military and security-types, to protect presidents, prime ministers and their staffs.

Once again, Michael Jackson will probably overshadow the news – it won’t be the first time his death upstaged a major event.

Hours prior to the announcement of Michael Jackson’s death at 2:26pm on June 25, 2009 at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, USA, famed Charlie’s Angels pin-up star Farrah Fawcet had passed away.

Even the largest Cable News Network (CNN) in the States changed gears once reported rumors of Jackson’s death began appearing. CNN’s most popular personality, Larry King earlier had “tweeted” on social network that he would dedicate the full hour of his show to Farrah Fawcet’s life, but once news of Jackson’s death hit the world, Larry King dropped Farrah Fawcet faster than a hot potato, swapping her last chance in the lime light for the King of Pop, Michael Jackson.

Despite all the media back then – and the circus of media yet to come this week, as the anniversary of the King of Pop’s death draws closer – his death still remains a mystery.

Jackson’s personal physician Dr. Conrad Murray may be the only one who truly knows what happened, but he is going to be standing trial later this year, charged with involuntary manslaughter in Jackson’s death.

Eye witness affidavits, telephone call logs, 911 recordings and police reports have identified large amounts of high powered narcotics and medical equipment in Jackson’s home, not normally found outside of a hospital setting.

From Valium and Midazolam – two potent sedatives requiring prescriptions, to Lorazepam, a strong anti-anxiety medication similar to Valium, to the most controversial of all -- Propofol.

Propofol, a white liquid drug administered by intravenous is an anaesthetic used for serious surgeries, and in some cases, to put animals to sleep. According to Dr. Murray’s statements, Michael Jackson was addicted to Propofol, often referring to it as “his milk” to help him sleep.

All of these drugs had been rampant in the King of Pop’s body, leading to his eventual cardiac arrest and death, according to reports from the singer’s autopsy.

But you can’t kill a legend – and the first week of summer will prove that – as the King of Pop rises from the grave – in the media at least – as the one-year anniversary of his death nears.

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Friday, June 18, 2010

What Would You Do with $95 Million?

That’s the question many people in Ontario, Canada are asking themselves, as today is the last day to purchase a ticket for the largest lottery prize in Canadian history.

Though that $95CDN million is misleading. It’s actually only $50CDN million in the main Lotto Max provincially-run lottery. The remaining $45CDN million will be doled out in $1CDN million prizes to 45 lucky winners.

Even those amounts are STILL misleading, when you take in account the average amount Canadians spend on lotteries – about $300CDN per year – and add in how many years the average Canadian has been playing the lotteries – about 10-years – that’s $3,000CDN.

Then you must pay taxes on your winnings, estimate about 30 percent of $50CDN million -- $15CDN million.

So, realistically, if you were to win $50CDN million, you’d be taking home about $35CDN million – which still is pretty good.

But then you’d probably need to pay some security firm an outrageous amount to keep all the crazies claiming to be your long lost relatives away. And then there are the constant death threats past lottery winners get, from wickedly evil crazies, so you’d be constantly living in a high security cocoon.

Still, that wouldn’t be much of a problem on your own private island in the tropics.
Hmm . . . $35CDN million take-home?

Got to scoot – time to get me a lottery ticket. . .

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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

G20/G8 Security Gone Too Far – To Remove Trees for Security

Living in Canada’s largest city is getting harder and harder these days.

Oh sure, Toronto, Canada is one of the most metropolitan cities in the world, and it shows. We have it all, from grocery stores open 24-hours-per-day, seven-days-a-week, restaurants serving up the cuisine from just about every corner of the globe, sporting stadiums for all the major events, lush green spaces, filled with – hey! Where’d the trees go?

The security company contracted out by the Government of Canada to provide security services during the G20 and G8 world leader summits in Toronto are now requesting trees be uprooted in the designated security zones, as they pose a security risk.

So far, they have had garbage cans, mailboxes, bicycle locking posts, and newspaper boxes removed, all while installing concrete barricades, ten-foot-high steel fences – did we mention the military snipers on the roof tops?

Businesses are being forced to close in the immediate areas surrounding the high security area – banks, theatres, restaurants, night clubs, even the Canadian headquarters of some big multinational corporations are all going to be shut down thanks to the added security.

And today, the security company announced that trees – yes TREES rooted in the ground – pose a security risk, because they could be uprooted and used against police.

Aside from the environmental concerns – the security company assures us they will have seedlings replanted after the event – just how ridiculously further must we go, to protect a handful of people for a mere 48-hours?

With all the security – estimates have put the cost to Canadian taxpayers at about $1 billion CDN just for the security alone – must they dig up harmless trees?

What’s next, declaring the air a potential threat, so they create an airtight dome spanning several city blocks, and higher than the highest skyscrapers?
Enough is more than enough.

With a billion dollars spent on security, if the heavily armed military, police and special forces personal on the ground can’t fight off an attacker digging up a tree, then we certainly aren’t getting our billion dollars-worth.

Let us stop to ponder this for just a second. Thousands of highly trained police, in armoured vehicles, with bullet-proof vests, armed to the teeth with high powered, armour piercing weapons, tear gas – did we mention the snipers on the roof -- versus some hippy with a tree branch. Gee, I wonder who’s going to win that battle? If the hippy wins, we have definitely been over billed for security services – I want a refund!

Well, at least for those of us that live in the suburbs, we’ll have a taste of downtown closer to home. Apparently sex trade workers – in non-politically correct lingo “hookers” – have told one media outlet they will be moving their – ahem “services” – north to the suburbs during the G20 and G8 summits, to avoid all the security hassles.

What an eye-opening relief that will be to parents taking their kids to daycare.
“Daddy, what did that woman mean when she asked if you wanted a good time?”

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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

American President Tries Hand at Mother Nature

Tonight at 8pm EST, American President Barack Obama will address his nation for the first time from the Oval Office.

Oval Office speeches are nothing new to American presidents. They have been used to give calming messages of action, during times of crisis.

American President Ronald Reagan was famous for his slick orations from the Oval Office. They even started the Jelly Bean Meter, where journalists joked that the bigger the crisis, the more Jelly Beans filled the jar which always sat on President Reagan’s Oval Office desk.

The speech tonight by President Obama is going to be mostly about the British Petroleum (BP) oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico, sliming its way along America’s southern coastline. The oil has penetrated the shorelines of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, since an explosion released it from the BP Deepwater drilling site on April 20.

The people that live and work along the coastal areas now submerged in dirty, black crude oil, are in a state of panic. Their lives are literally threatened, as drinking water tables are becoming contaminated. Their food stocks are threatened, as fish and wildlife die off from being buried in the thick black goo. Businesses are at risk, as outsiders aren’t venturing in, so tourism is at an all time low.

The BP oil leak, is the worst corporate-caused environmental disaster since another famed oil company released its liquid gold into the environment – the Exxon. Back in 1989, Exxon’s oil tanker the Valdez, ran aground dumping 10.8 million gallons of crude oil into Alaska’s Prince William Sound.

According to the American National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, there are approximately 98 m³ (26,000 gallons) of Valdez crude oil still in Alaska's sand and soil today.

But that’s not going to happen, because American President Barack Obama – the former Chicago Senator, turned President – is now tackling a new role – Mother Nature.

In tonight’s live address from the Oval Office, President Obama is going to lay out his plans for cleaning up the Gulf Coast.

Should be quite a show, seeing as Mother Nature herself is still struggling with the oil left in the Alaskan sands left over from the Exxon Valdez.

It will take billions and billions – if not trillions of dollars – to clear most of the crude oil. And it will take several years – decades – before the environment is completely recovered from BP’s leaking oil well.

President Obama should leave the recovery of the planet to Mother Nature, and use his political power as it was intended – politically. President Obama has the political power to force his citizens to adopt a lifestyle less dependent upon oil.

Crude Oil – a slimy, highly toxic substance, is formed as fossil remains from plants and animals are crushed between the layers of the Earth and sea over thousands of years.

We human beings consume about 30 billion barrels of crude oil year. Crude oil is the building block for almost everything – it forms the basis for toothpaste, plastics, and chewing gum. We use it to heat our homes, power our cars, and keep our world in order – most of the parts in a computer are made out of petroleum products.

Yet in its natural unaltered state, crude oil is one of the most dangerous substances on the planet. It is highly flammable – even the slightest spark can – and has – cause disaster. Its viscous thick goo clogs the pores of living things, slowly suffocating them. If taken orally, it poisons the body, causing a slow and painful death, as your vital organs shut down one-by-one.

Processing this stuff is no safer. One of the side effects to its many uses are the many toxins produced when it is manipulated. Petro chemical by products toxic to any and all life such as benzene, chlorine, carbon dioxide and many others are by-products of oil production.

Our society has become too dependent on a highly toxic substance. If crude oil was directly administered to us, it would be no different than being addicted to cocaine.

Instead of trying to do the impossible, American President Barack Obama should do the possible – create laws, policies and procedures which move his country away from the dependency on crude oil.

If he can do that, he’ll really make a world of difference – America is the largest consumer of crude oil in the world, using 24 percent of those 30 billion barrels consumed annually. Canada on average uses about 16 percent of those 30 billion barrels of crude annually, while other countries trail far behind.

So if the largest consumer of crude oil – The United States of America – starts to wean off of our drug-like dependency, the rest of the world will follow.

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Monday, June 14, 2010

World Cup an Indication of a Canada Lost

As the World Cup continues in South Africa, celebrations of games lost and won continue worldwide.

That’s certainly evident to passersby in Canada’s largest city – you’ll see Toronto drivers proudly flying their country’s pick for support from their homes, their balconies and their cars.

Not since the Toronto Blue Jays first won the World Series in 1992 have I seen so many flags flying across the city.

It’s a joy to see the energy and support driven by loyal fans.

That got me thinking – how come we don’t see that many Canadian Flags come our nation’s birthday?

Canada Day – the day we became a nation – is just over three-weeks away, yet I don’t see a sea of red and white Canadian Flags.

And it isn’t that the World Cup is overshadowing Canada’s day, it appears every year for as long as I can remember, there are fewer and fewer Canadian Flags period.

When I was a kid, I remember celebrating Canada Day up at the family cottage a long time ago. My cousins and I made the five-mile trek up a dusty gravel road to the local tennis club, which also doubled as the center for group activities in the sleepy summer-resort town.

The weeks leading up to the proudly Canadian moment were obvious everywhere. Whenever we went into town for supplies, or to catch a movie on a rainy day, all the streets – not just the main street – ALL the streets – were dotted with red and white Canadian Flags hanging from street lamps, store fronts, and people’s homes.

I remember one store window which had taken every Canadian icon, and created a fun and colourful display to honour our nation’s birth. It was a scene of a beaver chomping on the CNTower, while being scolded for doing so by a Mountie. A flock of Canadian Geese hanging on wires was shown flying overhead.

Everyone was talking about this one event the weeks leading up to it. The other kids and I were excited to munch on red and white coloured floss candy, while watching fireworks. The adults were looking forward to the BBQ and beer, and I remember hearing rumours of a skinny dip party, but what do I know, I was just a kid.

I remember wearing a red shirt, white shorts and being handed a mini Canadian Flag as I flied out the door to meet up with my cousins and the local kids, the night of Canada’s birth. There must have been about 20 of us, as we excitedly hopped and skipped along that dusty gravel road, to watch the fireworks.

We’d meet up with the rest of the kids in the area, and later the adults would pop on by too – as the sun darted into darkness, setting the stage for the fireworks.

Everywhere you looked there were signs of Canada. People dressed in red and white, waving Canadian Flags, people with red maple leafs painted on their faces. Someone had gone so far as to die half their head red, the other white!

There was red and white cotton candy, maple fudge – in the shape of maple leaves no doubt – they even were handing out red and white popcorn!

It was a great time to show our home town pride, in our home and native land.
I remember other past Canada Day celebrations too, but with each passing year, they got smaller and smaller.

Even in the big city of Toronto, I remembered they used to have Canadian Flags overflowing up and down University Avenue, along Yonge Street, and even along some of the main streets of the suburbs such as Markham, Unionville and Stouffville – just northeast of Toronto.

There used to be a giant Canada Day fireworks celebration at the Markham Fair, a growing suburb just north of Toronto.

Fireworks still ignite the night’s sky, but the weeks, days and even hours before seem a lot less patriotic than years past.

What happened Canada?

I’ll tell ya what happened –we’ve lost touch with what it means to be Canadian.

It used to be a privilege to be a Canadian. People from other countries who came here had to really want to be here to settle down and have a Canadian life.
Becoming Canadian wasn’t just a rubber stamp, you had to really want it bad.

But over the years, our overly politically correct governments have lessened the requirements to joining this once great land, so much so, those coming here don’t respect Canadian values.

Our once proud land, a smorgasbord of cultures from all over the world worked together, making Canada great.

These days, those who come here want nothing to do with you or me, unless you look like others from their cultural group, speak in their home tongue, or participate in their culture.

Instead of continuing to share, develop and grow as a country embracing different cultures and beliefs, we have become a country with hostile pockets of other countries embedded within.

Unless you want to be mistaken as the white cleaner, don’t go to the Chinese megamall. Don’t walk down that street after dark, you’ll get beat up or worse – shot – by the Jamaican gangs, because you don’t fit in. You can’t get a job there – you don’t speak Punjabi.

Oh how I miss the Canada of days gone by, where it doesn’t matter where you originated from, we all got along under the proud glow of red and white.

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Friday, June 11, 2010

Whatever Happened to Originality?

Today, yet another classic television show from years gone by opens in theaters as the latest summer movie blockbuster.

The A-Team movie opening today is a remake of the 1980’s action television show of the same name. Also this summer, MacGruber, a Saturday Night Live movie spoofing the MacGyver action show from the same decade has already begun.

Remaking classic television shows is nothing new for Hollywood – past summer movie seasons have opened with remakes of Charlie’s Angels, Miami Vice, Starsky & Hutch and The Dukes of Hazard.

But enough already!

Although some of these remakes aren’t bad – the first Charlie’s Angels movie was very well done, and the remake of Starsky & Hutch was so close to the original series, it felt like I was at home watching an old re-run on TV – leave the past in the past.

When I go to the movies, I want to get lost in a completely new world, with characters I’ve never met before, dealing with situations or subject matter which is new and different.

If I wanted to watch a classic television show, I’d just buy the DVD/Blueray – in many cases those even come with NEW material of their own, such as never before released outtakes, cast and crew commentaries, actor and character bios, behind the scenes footage and more.

SO, if the old original television shows can come up with new material, how come Hollywood’s biggest and brightest movie-types can’t?

Whatever happened to originality?

Is it really true that everything that will be thought of, already has been?

Truth is, although watching a remake of an old television show brings back warm and fuzzy memories, something completely different would have caught my eye more.

And this summer, the movies are anything but original.

Aside from remade television shows of the A-Team and MacGyver, this summer’s list of movies are based on plots, storylines and characters we’ve already seen before.

Morning Glory – due out in July – is the story behind the lives of a television cast and crew trying to put together a morning news and entertainment show each day. Sounds a lot like 1987’s Broadcast News, which is still recommended viewing by any broadcast journalist students today.

Killers which opens this month is about an undercover assassin that gets married and soon discover each others hidden lives. Remember Mr. And Mrs. Smith anyone?

And although vampire movies are cult classics, most follow the same storyline, and share the same commonalities of the living undead. So this month’s opening of The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, has undertones of The Lost Boys, Interview with a Vampire and even Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Again I ask – whatever happened to originality?

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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Bone-Headed Move By Toronto City Hall – What Else Is New?

Local politicians sometimes – correction – often – act first then deal with the consequences of their thoughtless acts later.

Take city officials in Canada’s largest city as a case in point. Yesterday, City of Toronto council voted in a new controversial anti-idling bylaw, which will now cost the city thousands of dollars to enforce on its own city-run transit system.

Toronto has had an anti-idling bylaw for years, prohibiting drivers from letting their vehicles idle for more than three-minutes, else they get a hefty fine.

The new anti-idling bylaw is stricter, prohibiting drivers from letting their vehicles idle for more than one minute – sixty-seconds – else they get a hefty fine of $125CDN.

Cutting the legal time limit down to a mere minute for idling won’t green the planet any more – well maintained vehicles spew most of their toxins on start-up. So forcing drivers to stop and then re-start their engines may actually cause carbon dioxide levels to go up, instead of down in the long run, especially on short stops.

Though restricting idle times will discourage motorists from letting their vehicles sit for long periods of time – which is a good thing.

Where things get sticky for the City of Toronto is for its transit system. Prior to the new anti-idling law, the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) was fine with the three-minute anti-idling regulations. But under the new minute policy, they could face fines and/or mechanic bills in the tens of thousands of dollars.

Today, TTC spokesman Brad Ross explained why the city’s bus drivers can’t comply with the city’s new law.

"Heavy diesel engines such as buses, (and) tractor-trailers need at least three-minutes to cool down before we shut a bus off. If we don't do that it will damage the engine, particularly the turbos within the engine, and when you damage those you're looking at about $8,000CDN per engine," Ross explained.

Ross says the TTC asked for an exemption from the new bylaw, but council declined that, because of complaints they received from residents about idling buses.

So what happens when the new bylaw is implemented?

Will TTC bus drivers get ticketed? If they do, chances are the City of Toronto itself will have to pay those tickets, which seems like the cat feeding the rat.

Or will TTC bus drivers obey the new bylaw, and in the process kill their bus, at a cost of $8,000CDN to fix?

Just another act now deal with it later bone-headed plan by politicians that failed to think things through.

If City of Toronto politicians really wanted to do some environmental good, they’d create policies and laws which discourage vehicle use during peak rush hour times in the city – like London, England has done.

In the United Kingdom, aside from emergency vehicles, buses, taxis and delivery vans, you can’t drive in London’s downtown. This curbs traffic congestion, by forcing people to take more environmentally-friendly options for urban travel – such as walking, cycling or taking public transit.

Now that plan really does clean the air.

So how about it Toronto – do you really want to make the world a better place?

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