Monday, 28 September 2009

Only in Celebrityland

Only in Celebrityland would there be any debate or controversy over whether a 44 year old who had sex with a thirteen year old after giving her alcohol and drugs should be held accountable for his crime, especially when he was in a position of authority over her.

It just amazes me that people are defending him, including the victim, who at the time certainly was in no position to consent, especially after being drugged, and who since has received a financial settlement from the rapist.

His crime was against society and society has a right and responsibility to hold him accountable in the name of all the other victims and potential victims of such crimes.

References:

CBC News: Polanski to fight extradition

Ottawa Citizen: Polanski held on decades-old charge

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Winter Trail Conflicts on the Greenbelt Trails

Submission to the National Capital Commission Greenbelt Master Plan Review - Part 2

By Richard W. Woodley, environmentalist, hiker, mountain biker, snowshoer, cross country skier, kayaker

In my previous submission on the Greenbelt Master Plan Review I discussed how well trail sharing amongst the various trail users worked on the Greenbelt trails during the spring, summer and fall.

Unfortunately I cannot say the same about the winter season. The main conflict, of course, is between cross-country skiers who like track set trails and walkers/hikers who walk through the track set trails punching deep holes in them.

Many skiers resent the walkers and many walkers feel they have just as much right to use the trails as the skiers. While I do not believe the conflict will ever be eliminated there may be a way to reduce it.

I believe the solution lies in encouraging the hikers/walkers to use snowshoes and provide dedicated trails for them, or at least publicise the dedicated trails that I just discovered exist as indicated on the official NCC trail map.

I would suggest the NCC, in partnership with snowshoe manufacturers and retailers undertake a snowshoe lending program. The partners would provide the snowshoes and lenders would receive information on where to purchase the snowshoes they are borrowing, as well as information on all the program participants. It only takes about one outing to realize it is a lot easier walking the trails with snowshoes than boots and that they do not punch deep holes in the trails. This will go a long way to reducing the conflict, because even on the ski trails snowshoes do less damage than boots - they may pack down the tracks but they do not punch deep holes in them. However if enough appropriate snowshoe trails are available many of the walkers/hikers may choose to snowshoe on them rather than walk on the ski trails.

In this context, I would also like to address the issue of winter mountain biking. For the last few years, within the South March Highlands, mountain bikers have been creating winter trails by packing the trails down using snowshoes and have demonstrated that snowshoeing and mountain biking are indeed compatible on the same trails. Mountain biking on packed trails simply leaves a track, similar to a cross-country ski track. Indeed it is not practical to mountain bike on trails if you are sinking deep into the snow and creating holes or ruts. So I would suggest that to get the maximum use out of the designated snowshoeing trails that mountain biking also be allowed on them.

I have attached maps of suggested routes for shared snowshoeing and mountain biking trails. I have chosen trails that are less cross-country ski friendly due to their terrain.

It was after creating those maps that I noticed the increased number of snowshoeing designated trails on the on the NCC Greenbelt Trail Map. I was surprised to see Jack Pine designated as snowshoe trail and Trail 11 designated as a ski trail. I think it would be better to designate trails that are less skier friendly as snowshoe trails and the most popular ski trail as ski trails. Although Jack Pine would make an ideal beginner winter mountain biking trail, frankly I do not believe the skiers will stop using Jack Pine. The vast majority probably do not even know of its designation as a snowshoe trail rather than a ski trail.

Encouraging walkers to switch from using boots on ski trails to using snowshoes on snowshoe trails is going to take more than just putting red dots on a chart on the official map that few people actually look at. It is going to require a concerted effort and campaign to encourage snowshoeing on the designated trails, a campaign that should include allowing and encouraging mountain bikers to use the snowshoe trails.

(click on maps to enlarge)



Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Ottawa Police Chief Thanks Reckless Vigilante for Breaking Law and Endangering Lives

The scenario

Driver speeding in a Porsche almost hits and kills assault victim.

Driver takes off after alleged assailant at over 170 km/hr (speeds equivalent to stunt driving/street racing offence) while talking on a cell phone to 911 dispatcher.

Police intercept alleged assailant.

Police chief thanks driver.

Moral of the story

Breaking the law and endangering people's lives is commendable as long as there is a happy ending, at least according to Ottawa's Police Chief Vern White.

References:


Ottawa Citizen: Chief orders review after high-speed civilian chase

Ottawa Citizen: Pair in Porsche chase down man accused of drunk driving, sex assault

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Talking to Americans About Health Care

A Message From The Fifth Column To Our American Friends And Neighbours

As a Canadian, who like the vast majority of Canadians, would never give up my public health care system, I find the debate in the United States over health care to be quite perplexing. In fact in Canada whenever the prospect of a parallel private system is brought up the public quickly makes it known that a two tier system is unacceptable and any increased private role in the system is undesirable.

Indeed when I observe what is happening in the United States it sometimes appears that the best that can be hoped for is a compromise, a compromise that in all probability will not have the efficiencies of a universal single payer public system and a compromise that may end up being simply a government subsidy to the insurance industry.

But no matter what happens, the bottom line is that I do hope that our American neighbours at least end up with a system that does not see the middle class continuing to face losing their homes and having to declare bankruptcy due to health care costs and the poor continuing to die prematurely due to lack of health care.

What, of course, upsets us most in Canada are the misrepresentations and lies about the Canadian health care system (and public health care systems in general) that have become part of the debate in the United States.

It seems, and I do not want to get sidetracked into a different debate here, that some of the opposition to health care reform is driven by other agendas, and shall we say an inability of certain groups to accept the results of the recent United States election.

But I do want to raise one philosophical difference between Canadians and the Americans that health care opponents are trying to take advantage of.

This is the fact that Americans see themselves as more individualistic than Canadians and see government in a much less positive light than Canadians. Canadians on the other hand think in much more social and collective terms and see government as a means for the people to do things collectively.

At least that is the stereotype that the opponents seem to be using in decrying any government role in health care as being socialism and thus evil. Socialism is not a dirty word in Canada, and neither is liberalism. We like our single payer public health care system – call it socialized medicine if you like.

Interestingly enough, one of the differences in our political history, and one that relates directly to the establishment of Medicare (as we call our public health care system) in Canada has been the role of religion in politics. As a Canadian I find the role of the so-called Christian right in American politics to be perplexing, indeed absurd at times. While there are right wing Christian influences within our Conservative Party, the most significant religious influences in Canadian politics have come from the left, from the Social Gospel, led by preachers like J.S. Woodsworth, Stanley Knowles and Tommy Douglas from the CCF and NDP, who first proposed such things as public welfare, public pensions and Medicare, all of which have become part of the Canadian social fabric.

Indeed,Tommy Douglas, who, as Premier of Saskatchewan, first established Medicare in Canada, over the objections of the health care and insurance industries, even battling a doctors strike, was chosen by Canadians as The Greatest Canadian.

So how does Canadian Medicare work.

The Canada Health Act sets out the basic principles of Canadian Medicare.

Administration: - All administration of provincial health insurance must be carried out by a public authority on a non-profit basis. This authority must be accountable to the province or territory, and their records and accounts are subject to audits.

Comprehensiveness: - All necessary health services, including hospitals, physicians and surgical dentists, must be insured.

Universality: - All insured residents are entitled to the same level of health care.

Portability: - A resident that moves to a different province or territory is still entitled to coverage from their home province during a minimum waiting period. This also applies to residents which leave the country.

Accessibility: - All insured persons have reasonable access to health care facilities. In addition, all physicians, hospitals, etc, must be provided reasonable compensation for the services they provide.
What that means is that you go to your doctor and you get taken care of. You go to the hospital and you get taken care of. You are not asked for payment and you receive no bills. Yes you pay through your taxes and sometimes through premiums, depending on the province's funding system.

You choose your own doctors and you and your doctors decide what is the best treatment option. There is no one from the insurance industry approving your treatment. There is no one from the insurance industry denying you treatment because you've been sick before. There are no "co-pays" or payment caps. The minimum wage earner or welfare recipient receives the same quality of care as the corporate executive. No one can pay extra to jump to the front of the line. And the quality of care is excellent.

My last visit to the hospital involved a migraine that would not go away, and though I had a doctors appointment booked later that week I decided to go to the emergency department because I was getting fed up with the pain. I did have to wait awhile to see the doctor, then I got put on an IV pain reliever and waited some more, while the pain decreased. The doctor then saw me and referred me for a CAT scan and said it might be a few hours before they could take me, but actually it was about 15 minutes. The CAT scan was clear so no worries about brain tumours. We talked about putting me on beta blockers, which I was already discussing with my family doctor, but just waiting for test results to confirm I did not have asthma (from another hospital visit where I arrived early for my appointment and was able to have the test done right away). After seeing my family doctor I was put on beta blockers and have hardly had a migraine since.

I could relate all sorts of stories of the excellent care received by myself, my family and friends from our public health care system.

The most important benefit of public health care, especially for the poor is regular preventative care. When you have to decide between providing the necessities of life for your family or paying for a routine check-up, more often than not the routine health care is ignored, in some cases until it is too late. People die because of that. This is particularly important for healthy baby check-ups. When you have to decide between buying food for your baby or taking him to the doctor for a routine check-up what do you think the decision will be.

Yes there are problems. Wait times for elective and non-urgent procedures can be longer than they should be and we currently have a shortage of family doctors. These are not problems caused by the nature of the public health care system. Indeed adding a private option would only divert resources from those that need it most to those that can pay to jump to the head of the line. These are problems that to some degree require more funding and to some degree require the training of more doctors and specialized technicians.

There is one problem that I do consider systemic and that is the lack of coverage for prescription drugs outside of hospitals as part of the national system. That being said, private insurance coverage for prescription drugs is a fairly common employment benefit at a reasonable cost and the provinces do have programs to pay the drug costs of low income earners or residents with high drug costs in relation to their household income. But a national Pharmacare program is necessary to complete Canada's Medicare System

The other argument that is made in favour of the American completely private health care system is that only private for profit health care provides research and innovation. Have these people never heard of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (or for that matter NASA). Indeed more research is probably done in government facilities than in private ones. When it comes to hospital research, it is not whether it is a for profit hospital that determines whether research is done, but whether it is a teaching hospital. Indeed Canada, and other countries with public health care systems all have internationally respected teaching hospitals that are doing leading edge medical research.

Public health care is at the top the list when Canadians are asked what it means to be a Canadian, Indeed the idea of for profit health care or anyone getting better or faster health care because of their wealth or income is something Canadians consider to be unethical and immoral. Universal single payer public health care is a basic Canadian value.

And just so that I am completely clear, despite the lies that Americans have been told, there are no government bureaucrats involved in Canadians personal health care decisions and no death panels. There are no insurance companies denying care due to pre-existing conditions, There are no "co-pays" and there are no payment ceilings.

Final Words

I would hope that Americans do not let the misrepresentations about the Canadian health care system prevent the implementation of health care reform in their country. Indeed, I fear that the opportunity to implement single payer universal public health care for the United States has already been lost. And the public option is threatened by the massive lobbying campaign that is dominating the media. Health care reform is something that may not be attainable if left to the politicians. If the American people want health care reform they must stand up and demand it. Now is the time for the silent majority to be heard.


I have not included any statistics or links with these comments as I wanted to keep it to my own words but for those that are interested in further information I am providing the following:

Canadian Medicare and the Canada Health Act

Canada's Health Care System (Medicare)

Canada Health Act - Health Canada Information

Canada Health Act (text from Justice Department)

Canadian Health Coalition

Canadians (and Americans Living in Canada) on Canadian Health Care


Former Conservative Prime Minister Mulroney supports Obama's health-care fight

Defending Canada's Health Care: Truths and Lies - Jack Layton

Keep Canada Out of the U.S. Health-Care Debate - Bob Rae

Canadians Defend Their Health Care System

Universal Health Care Message to Americans From Canadian Doctors & Health Care Experts

Debunking Canadian health care myths

A puzzled Canadian ponders surreal U.S. health-care debate

Americans Who Can't Go Home

What they don’t want you to know about Canadian health care

My brain and the Ontario health-care system

The Truth About Canadian Health Care

Debunking the profiteers' lies about healthcare

What Shona Holmes wants for you......Here are the facts

Tommy Douglas

The Greatest Canadian - Tommy Douglas

Prairie Giant: The Tommy Douglas Story

Kiefer Sutherland introduces the Tommy Douglas Showcase

Tommy Douglas Showcase

Douglas, Thomas Clement - The Canadian Encyclopedia

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Michael Moore Honours Sudbury Workers


As the National Post reports:

There were some improbable guests on the red carpet last night at the premiere of Michael Moore's latest film Capitalism: A Love Story. The documentarian invited some of the more than 3,000 workers from the Sudbury mining giant Vale Inco who have been on strike since mid-July.

"The mining company's doing quite well," said Moore the following day. "It's made over four billion dollars in the last two years, but they want to cut back on the pension, and they want to stop the profit sharing, and give back, give back, give back, give back. It seems very un-Canadian to me, to behave in that manner. So try and maintain yourselves, Canadians. That's all I have to say."
Local 6500 Statement to Community

Fair Deal Now
Support Local 6500 Sudbury

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Richard's GPS Trail Maps Site Completed

I have finally finished updating and moving all my existing GPS Trail Maps to the new site, with photos for all the trails except the Marlborough Forest Roads.

I will be adding more trails to the site as I get them mapped, in particular the Bruce Pit area trails including Trail 29 and the trails near Shirley's Bay, including Trail 10.

Check it out at:

http://gpstrailmaps.blogspot.com/

Friday, 4 September 2009

Statement of Democratic Principles

With an election looming the Fifth Column calls on all federal political parties and party leaders to adopt the following:

Statement of Democratic Principles

The Canadian people have the right to elect Members of Parliament of their choosing and the House of Commons of their choice.

The House of Commons elected by the Canadian people has the right to govern.

A government that has the support and confidence of a majority of the Members of the House of Commons is legitimate, and indeed a government requires the confidence of a majority of the Members of the House of Commons to be legitimate.

The letter and spirit of fixed election date legislation must be respected and that an early election should only be held when it is not possible to form a government that has the confidence of a majority of the House of Commons.

And further, that party representation in the House of Commons should reflect the popular vote and that a process should begin immediately following the election to amend the electoral process to ensure that.

Finally, we all pledge to inform the Governor General that we have adopted and support this Declaration of Democratic Principles.
As The Fifth Column is a small player in the blogosphere, if any of the larger players want to promote this please feel free to take the ball and run with it.