Happy Birthday Canada

Despite our nation's move to the right, our warts and frustrations Canada is still a pretty damn good place to live.

Happy 144th Birthday  Canada

A good afternoon to fly kites and being Friday. A good evening to play floor hockey


Just Another Imposter

I'm Not Sure About the Honesty Part
I hate organizations and groups of people that give themselves names that misrepresent what they do, who they are or what they stand for. Groups that try to project one image while they in fact, are something completely different.

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation for example. Not a group representing the interests of people concerned about taxes but a cranky, right wing group mostly funded by business interests. Their pro-Conservative stance on spending, particularly when it might actually benefit people, not private sector business, drives me crazy.

I am probably not much more than a cultural Christian but, I find it offensive that the term Christian has been appropriated by the relatively new fundamentalists whose use of the term, dismisses any of the more traditional churches as, not quite up to snuff.

Pro-life groups are not about celebrating life. Most of us, after all, are pro-life. We want to hang on to it as long as we can.

Pro-lifers lobby against a woman’s right to choose to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. Surely that is something quite different.

The Progressive Conservatives did change their name to just the Conservatives. Now that was honest but I do admit, off point.

The latest in this long line of imposters I came across is HonestReporting Canada. They had a letter published in the Globe and Mail today complaining about a story which looked at the new flotilla trying to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza which featured an interview with a Canadian who was aboard a ship in the last attempt to bring supplies through the illegal Israeli blockade into Gaza, and who was arrested in the process.

Until today I had never heard of HonestReporting Canada but just a little investigative research would tell anyone who bothered to look that HonestReporting Canada are not what they seem.

Now I suspect that anyone who tries to criticize the organization will be labelled anti-Semitic, which I am not, but here goes.

HonestReporting, was founded in the UK in 2000, at the onset of the Palestinian uprising which by the time it was done saw a death toll estimated to be 5500 Palestinians and over 1100 Israelis, as well as 64 foreigners.

HonestReporting's self-declared mission is to expose what its members consider bias against Israel in the western media.

HonestReporting Canada was founded in 2003 and is headquartered in Toronto.

HR's self-declared mission statement claims that,

Israel is in the midst of a battle for public opinion – waged primarily via the media. To ensure Israel is represented fairly and accurately "'HonestReporting'" monitors the media, exposes cases of bias, promotes balance, and effects change through education and action

HR defines itself "as an organization dedicated to defending Israel against prejudice in the Media" they will provide resources to anyone wishing to advocate for Israel. We have seen it again and again. Any attempt to offer both sides of the very complex Middle Eastern story with be met with howls of outrage and accusations of  antisemitism. This group and others are basically propagandists all but working for the government in Israel and never far from the official party line. 

If we take a good look at the honesty exprerssed on their website look no further that their description of
the organization’s Executive Director Mike Fegelman. They say Mike is someone who “specialized in broadcasting and international reporting. An eight-year veteran of the Canadian journalism industry, Mike was a former editor-in-chief, reporter, and anchor of various news programs and publications.”
I don’t know how they define veteran but if he is a “veteran” I must be the leader of the free world.

Mike it seems was the editor and writer of a free Ottawa weekly newspaper produced by Carleton University Journalism Students and his news anchoring experience was at the University Campus Television Station. Veteran - my ass.  Talk about honest reporting.

 Honestly, the group isn’t about honesty in reporting. It is basically a Jewish nongovernmental organization using what critics claim are coercive tactics to silence critics of Israeli government policy.


My New Favorite Spot

Grasslands at dusk
After several years of  complaining about the lack of facilities, the state of small town Saskatchewan motels and the legendary bad roads we decided to head down to Grasslands National Park (West Block) this week end.

We decided to leave the Trans Canada and wind our way from small town to small town across Southern Saskatchewan. It was an interesting drive, quite pretty but the state of many of those smaller roads put the lie to Brad Wall's claim that there is an economic boom here in Saskatchewan.

At this point the park encompasses about 500 square kilometres. It will be several years before the park is completely established but eventually, it will cover 900 square kilometres in two blocks along the Canada - U.S. border in southwestern Saskatchewan. It might take a while. The federal government will continue to purchase the land on a willing-seller/willing buyer basis and says there will be no expropriation . Ranching has got to be a tough life so bit by bit the old timers are retiring with no one in the family willing to take over the spreads.

Grasslands National Park is my new favorite spot.

The park is an amazing find. Miles and miles of grasslands, with barely a tree in sight it almost defies your imagination. After years of ranching, grazing destroyed many native grasses but with careful management those species are coming back along with prairie flowers. 

Deer Feeding in the Coolie
Wildlife has returned as well. A bison herd was reintroduced a few years ago as were black footed ferrets which had become extinct in the wild. There are burrowing owls, black tailed prairie dogs, antelope, deer, swift foxes, coyotes and of course rattlesnakes. 

There are at least 12,000 tee-pee rings in the park. This is where first nations peoples camped and hunted in summer months.

The challenge now is finding new undiscovered sites. They seem to be all over the park but, with all the rain this year, the grasses and flowers are so prevalent it is hard to make out the rings through the green growth.

There is no question that we will be going back again and again. The country is magnificent and we met some pretty interesting people as well.

We stayed in Val Marie in the old converted, Convent Inn, owned by Robert and Mette Duncan which while it isn't fancy, is very comfortable and the food was great. Robert loves to chat and tell stories and is more than willing to help you find new places to explore the area. I'd recommend the place without hesitation.

At supper we notices a group of about six women that it turned out were on a photo workshop with photographer James Page who recently moved from Victoria to Val Marie. We had seen his book Wild Prairie in the afternoon and  we had a good chat with him about the park and the photographic opportunities there. We cross paths with them that evening as we moved through the park just before sunset.

The Duncans also have a lovely two story house in the village they rent out by the week for around $600. It would be a deal at twice the price.

If you want to camp, there is a campground in town or, about five km south at the Crossroads you can RV it, tent or rent one of their tee-pees for $20.00 a night.

You may not know much about the park but, if you like wide open spaces, there is nothing like it. Visit now before people from Ontario and Europeans discover it and over run the place.

And in the News Today

Canada Post Fiasco

I am always impressed by how governments manage to turn public opinion in the face of all logic.

The Postal Workers were holding rotating strikes to put pressure on the Canada Post, a Crown Corporation, to put a better offer on the table. Canada post was determined, in collective bargaining to undermine pension benefits. While I might have missed the odd day’s delivery, I was pretty much getting regular mail delivery.

Canada Post then locked their employees out. The mail stopped. The Government then expressed concern about the stoppage. 

Instead of telling Canada Post to lift the lock-out the government brought in legislation and after a NDP filibuster delayed the passing for some time, the legislation passed and the mail will move again on Tuesday.

Canada Post is legendary for their bad industrial relations record. The government has just rewarded Canada Post's bad behaviour by forcing workers back on the job, something they would have done willingly, just not for every day.

Listening to the debate around the dispute I was disappointed to hear some Canadians rise to support the Harper Government’s reaction. On the face of it no one will admit voting for these guys but too many are pretty eager to buy the Harper “For the good of the economy” argument  hook, line and sinker.

I don't object to legislating Postal Workers back to work after a strike has actually begun to have a real effect on the economy but when they are locked out by the same government that controls the legislative agenda. That is another thing.

The Ugly Canadian

It’s an old story. Foreign companies come into a developing nation bring with them the promise of hard cash for a struggling government.

Resources are exploited, people are displaced and a way of life ruined all in the name of the economic good the benefit of which few but government officials and local businessmen ever see.

This time it is Peru and the companies are Canadian. Some are familiar, some not. I am sure there are good guys and bad guys although it is tough to sort out who is who. The list includes Barrick Gold, HudBay Minerals, Bear Creek Mining, Sukkiden, First Quantum and others.

The locals say that farmland is being destroyed, water polluted and although the government may be seeing an increase in revenue, local people have yet to see benefit from the operations. No schools, no good hospitals, no new roads.

Protests have become ugly and the government in response has revoked the mining rights from at least one Canadian Company, Bear Creek. In typical corporate bully boy fashion, the company says they will sue under the Canada-Peru Free Trade Agreement. 

Hands up now, everyone who knew there was one. 

Always There For a Laugh

Those of us who read the Regina Leader Post can always find a couple of things to post fun at.

In Monday’s edition of the paper lived up to expectations.

There is a special feature about what entertainers who are coming to Saskatchewan this summer. Reading about k.d. lang in this morning’s paper my breakfast partner pointed out that the reporter must not have been paying attention at J-School when they talked about, the backbone of any story, the 5 W’s.

Jeff Dedekker somehow managed to leave out the When, Where and the Why. For those who may be confused, k.d. lang is playing the Regina Folk Festival in Victoria Park, downtown Regina, August 6th at 10:45

We were also quite mystified by the headline, “On Line Dating Linked to Rise in STDs”

Frankly it defies imagination.