Our two cents worth

imagesThe refugee debate has been raging for many weeks now, in fact since the the Liberals pledged to bring in 25,000 Syrian refugees befire the end of the year.

11148730_1088088784557476_1182460997385532315_nWe have all been bombarded with images and pleas on our face book feeds that border on absolute racism and xenophobia. A lot of this crap is shared from the UK where they have been dealing white ‘white-power’ for years.

Messages that purport to support working on our own problems first are always premised by an appeal to reject the refugees as unworthy scroungers not worth the money it will cost to bring them here. These are the same people that reject helping anybody who needs it especially those on Social Assistance. Just who they would help is beyond thinking about. But when linked to a picture like this what else can we think of these people, except that they are racists. They will tell you that thinking like this is not that they are not supporters of “freedom of religion” but are getting Islam forced on them. They fail to provide examples. So please do not fill up my facebook with this filthy rubbish.

Staying on the subject of the Liberal’s plan there is one glaring error as far as we can see based on the speculation of tomorrow’s announcement. That is the report that single men will not be allowed to come here. This is a pathetic and cowardly admission that perhaps the screening of families is inadequate. This move has to be explained and fleshed out. Otherwise we could be in the situation of having to support these eager people longer, as the abilities of families to enter the workforce and subsequently get off the assistance they will depend on for a while could be diminished for the lack of bread-winners.

Meanwhile watch what John Oliver said about it this week:

Any way for the last word on this topic we are publishing an excellent post from our resident in Port Hope – Dan Christie:

“Last Sunday afternoon in Port Hope, three Canadian authors -Michael Crummey (Sweetland), Plum Johnson (They Left Us Everything) and Kim Thuy (Ru) -appeared at the annual Writers & Friends gathering at Trinity College School.  Each read from their work, engaged in a discussion with CBC Radio’s Karin Wells -and answered questions from readers.  

As a child Kim Thuy, arrived as a  Vietnamese ‘boat’ person.

The fall of Saigon brought about one of the greatest humanitarian crisis of the period. The Canadian government airlifted 60,000 Vietnamese. Canada’s boots on the ground were the boots of ordinary Canadians who opened their wallets, their doors and their hearts to the flood of humanity desperate for shelter. Many boat people never make it. They died at sea. 

Kim Thuy was asked “What advice would you, as a refugee, have now as we face another refugee crisis?” Her answer was straightforward: “Welcome them with open arms”.

While Ms. Thuy said her family was greeted with kindness and generosity, what she would like to see now is more resources to help refugees aclimatise to their new country. Kim Thuy’s family arrived here they faced language issues, French and English, cultural issues, loneliness issues. Education. Work. Navigating the Metro.  And winter, something most Vietnamese had only read about. She told the story of a man who needed mittens as winter approached. His French was slowly improving and he felt he could manage buying mittens without help. So off he went, alone, in downtown Montreal. When he returned he proudly showed his new mittens to his friends and family. On his hands were oven mitts. Kim Thuy was explaining was that for successful integration of any refugee influx, government must provide the best resources possible -from English or French as a second language to simple things like grocery shopping or crossing the street at a busy intersection. But  it’s those things that can make a refugee a prisoner in his own room. 

That Sunday in Port Hope happened two days after the Paris atrocity, before a mosque in Peterborough was torched and before a Muslim woman in Toronto was thrown to the ground and told to go back to where she came from. 

But the news isn’t all bad. Inter-faith and charitable groups in towns and cities across Canada -from the Catholic Archdiocese of Ottawa to the Quinte United Immigration Services to LARGE, the Lennox & Addington Refugee Group Enthusiasts- are meeting to put together plans for sponsoring Syrian refugees. 

Opening Canada’s doors to Syrian refugees is the right thing to do -just as opening our doors to Vietnam refugees was the right thing to do. If we close our doors, we close our minds. 

That’s not Canada. Not then. Not now.”

Will this subject ever go away?

harbourWaterfront development that is. In the last year or so the Town has seen most of the Citizens’ activism taking place at the waterfront. Last winter it was the hooh-hah about feeding the birds, in the Election and the Spring it was the proposed Marina expansion culminating in a well crafted political compromise – the establishment of a committee (the ultimate answer to a political problem – appoint a committee) to provide advice to the Council about the use of the Harbourlands.

The Council established a committee of six, plus Staff and the Coordinator. Three of the members represented ‘stakeholders’ the groups that used the area on a regular basis – the Willow Beach Naturalists, the Dragon Boat paddlers and the Cobourg yacht Club. The other three were appointed by Council after an appeal by Council for people to sit on it. Twelve people applied and three were selected.

So coming to the last meeting of this Committee on Monday 9th November the Deputy Mayor, who is not usually a member of this Committee, announced, as Coordinator of General Government, that due to a forthcoming report (which hadn’t even been discussed yet) a reorganisation of existing committees had taken place and it was being recommended that the Waterfront Advisory Committee was to be disbanded and the three Council appointees were being moved to the existing Parks and Rec Committee but only for as long as this term of office. The P&R will revert back to the original number of six as and when retirements and resignations would allow. The three stakeholders were obviously out in the cold – so much for Waterfront issues being front and centre. This move was especially galling to the “stakeholder” reps as they had faithfully attended all of the meetings held so far and the appointees had been conspicuous in their absences over the life of the Committee. In fact on Monday none of the three appointees was present to hear the news!

Now where will expert public input on Waterfront issues take place? Quoting the rationale for the elimination of the Waterfront Committee it appears that Council doesn’t see any issues. ” Due to the fact that Council passed a motion regarding freezing expansion plans at the marina during this term of Council, it is recognized, that the terms of reference for the Waterfront Advisory Committee are no longer applicable.” Where will the problems of the future – more condo development, more user problems at the Marina, the need for Yacht Club expansion, the lack of rehabilitation for the Harbourlands and the legislative confusion over ‘environmental constraint’, ‘public spaces’ and the not yet adopted parks and Rec Master Plan as it relates to the harbourlands and the facilities therein get discussed?

But the big problem for Council on this issue is public trust and cynical political manoeuvres. If this Committee had been established by a Council intent on gaining the public trust; after all they had been hammered for months about harbourland issues, all that political capital has now been wasted. If they had wanted to consolidate various opinions why would they not transfer ‘stakeholders’ rather than political appointees? As one deselected member said to the BR, “Looks to me like Parks and Rec don’t want competition and no one wanted or sought our advice anyway. I’m disgusted that my time was wasted so.”  Even if Council does not approve this move will the ‘stakeholders’ even want to come back to a committee that Council didn’t want in the first place and then tried to destroy it?

Silos forever, and a few changes snuck in

Siloed-Governance1Ok in every Council discussion there are winners and losers – guess who won this one – the Governance Debate – the Staff of the Town of Cobourg!

No surprise here as the only people who opposed the “coordinator system”, of governance of the Town of Cobourg in the last election campaign campaign were the incumbents. In the only discussion of a different system after the election the Staff – led by the Treasurer, Ian Davey, were vociforous in their defense of the status quo. So when the new Deputy Mayor decided to investigate the possibility of a different way of doing things some of us hoped that things might change, especially as the newly elected Councillors did not support the status quo in their campaigning.

WRONG, wrong and wrong.

Read the report here and one will see that it goes much further than confirming the status quo. In the realignment of the Town’s committees four are going to disappear. The Environmental Advisory committee, the Art in Public Spaces Committee, the Seniors Advisory Committee and surprisingly the newly established Waterfront Committee. More on this further down.

In the report to Council the author of the report CAO Peacock writes “It was agreed that the existing system allows for greater input and understanding of issues facing Council” A statement that is not qualified with  a reason why? We need to know why the existing system is more comprehensive and creates greater understanding, and who agreed that it was? We read that statement to mean that the Staff do not want to tell all of Council about pertinant issues just one person – the Coordinator. The Coordinator then has to tell Council what Staff is thinking – surely that slows the process down if the ‘ignorant’ Councillors want to know what is going on. But the only “improvement” to the previous system will be that Coordinators’ meetings will now to be codified and regular – once a month, but may be stretched to once every two months, if wanted. Also other Councillors may attend, but a maximum of only two at the meeting. The agenda of the Coordinators’ meetings are to be circulated, in confidence, to all Councillors before the meetings take place. This procedure is new and may qualify as ‘transparency’ in theory but in practise which Councillor is going to volunteer to go to another meeting, especially one not in the Councillor’s purview. Nope we will still be watching uninformed Councillors asking questions of the Coordinator in Committees of the Whole.

But back to the sneaky changes. One can only imagine that the Staff think we have too many citizen committees, that waste their time, and they would like to eliminate evening meetings. Also the committees that they never wanted – the Waterfront Committee setup as a political compromise to a bad situation on the waterfront amid allegations of Municipal Marina mismanagement, and the committee left over from a pesky Councillor – Ms Mutton who spearheaded the Art in Public Places committee. The former committee was just too independent for the Staff and promised to look at all things Watery so it could have been dangerous to the status quo and the latter committee was just an arty thing that had run its course, especially after Council refused to fund it. The Seniors Advisory Committee was a ratsnest before the Staff got in there and sorted it out now its down the chute, probably because nobody wants to volunteer for it. The Environmental Advisory Committee was a peculiar one that went off in all directions and was unpredictable. So in one fell swoop the CAO has eliminated irritants to the Staff.

But the sneakiest move of all is buried in a paragraph about the frequency of meetings. In the last term of Council DM Stan Frost attempted to eliminate evening Council meetings. The move was beaten back by concerned citizens who spoke about Council having to be accountable to all citizens not just those who don’t work and the suggestion that meetings be held in the afternoons was not supported. BUT like a bloody zombie the idea is back. It is proposed that Regular Council meetings start at 4pm on Mondays. This too must be defeated.

So we stand by our headline – “Silos forever, and a few changes snuck in”.

Received this email a couple of days ago

And it was a simple request to help an old friend, thought others might be interested so we posted it.
email snippet”
“I believe you know long time NDP supporter and activist Elma Parker. Recently, Elma moved from her home of 50 plus years to a seniors residence, and was faced with the question of what to do with her many excellent paintings. We suggested an online auction with proceeds to Council of Canadians, and Elma enthusiastically agreed.”

The website for Elma’s paintings is now set up at https://elmaspaintings.wordpress.com

Hacktivism, Slacktivism

hackyslackySlacktivism or Hacktivism are two new terms we should be looking at in our urge to do as little as possible when trying to the most.

What brought this post on is the realisation that two major aspirations of voters will never come about by either slacktivism or hacktivism. For all of you setting up online petitions and other mechanisms posted on Facebook Twitter or any other social media understand this – it is futile. Nobody in power takes any notice of your clicks. Hell they don’t even take any notice of any kind of dissent.

Congratulations to two out of four

candidatesIt is the end of the longest election campaign in history – was it worth it? Did you make your mind up weeks ago? Was this election necessary? Questions and questions.

Now we pundits have the luxury, privilege and some may say duty to make observations and opinion about it, We will not be making a prediction about the outcome just commenting on some of the antics in this long time we have just endured.

Have you been to brave the lines?

ivotedThe lineup at the advance polls that is! Second day of the AP and the lineup was long, but shorter than yesterday at 2.30 pm. Not remarkable considering that the poll is probably the most exciting thing that older people might be doing today. However a comment here it is obvious that Elections Canada isn’t putting much effort into easing the lines. Yesterday they were out the door and today wasn’t much different but they still stuck with the same system.

Why get worked up, they all do it!

The headline is the refrain from those of us in Society who do not follow politics. As one person rails against the perceived crimes of the governing party (whichever that is) others will simply shrug and say, “They all do it!”. This mantra is repeated, with rolled eyes, whenever a Pol makes a campaign promise. The next thing heard is a denunciation of one’s case when one defends a campaign promise. We know breaking campign promises is real and even after a celebrated court case it is not even illegal.

Just asking questions

topsecretSometime early last year the previous Council in Cobourg commissioned a consultant’s report to review the operations and compensation levels of the administration. The report arrived about six months before the election and with the cooperation of the Deputy Mayor – Stan Frost, the CAO sat on it and refused to allow Council the see it.

Please Sir can we have some more!

Cobourg_CoatofArmsCobourg, sometime last year, commissioned a report called “Organizational & Compensation Review” as part of the 2011-2014 Strategic Plan. The report was supposed to be released when received but the previous Deputy Mayor decided not to release it and not until the new Council came in did anybody really get a look at it.