Sneak Peek

October 15, 2008 by

Did you know that FMBS is graduating to a self-hosted site with a brand new look and increased functionality?

photoYou can get a preview of what’s coming by clicking HERE.

Have you ever wanted to be a citizen journalist and cover breaking news stories? Is there a subject area that you’re particularly interested in and have some understanding about? Want to write about these interests but don’t want to publish your own website? Well, here’s your chance!

FMBS is looking for contributors. If this seems like something that you’d be interested in, send me an email inquiry.

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No ‘Mandate’ for Harper

October 15, 2008 by

Was it fear of what a majority Conservative government might do? The way that PM Harper has tried to ‘manage’ the press corps, the failure of the Conservative Party to release it’s election platform until the tail-end of the campaign, the number of Conservative candidates who didn’t show up for candidate meetings, the increasingly global financial meltdown despite the PM’s assurance that we’re somehow magically insulated? Was it the fact that, in seeking an election now, Mr. Harper was breaking his own fixed-date election law?

Whatever the reason, an embarrassingly small percentage of eligible voters denied Mr. Harper the majority that he wanted last night.

There was no real victory in this election for Mr. Harper, save for maybe a small one. In gaining a few more seats, it will now take virtually unanimous support of all of those in opposition to defeat any government bill. But there’s still no certainty. Mr. Harper cannot be completely unmindful of those ‘across the way’ and simply shove legislation ‘down their throats.’

Jack Layton didn’t become the first NDP PM, and he didn’t form the Official Opposition, but he was a big winner. The 37 seats won by the NDP is second only to the 43 that Ed Broadbent achieved. And he’s still relatively new to the job. He’s still learning. This is something real that he can build upon and try for a historical breakthrough the next time.

Elizabeth May had mixed success. Although the Green Party didn’t win seats, there was the mid-campaign victory of being included in the debate. That established the party’s credibility in a way that only an incredibly expensive amount of advertising might have been able to match. It virtually guarantees that Greens will be included in future debates without having to battle for it. And the increase in their percentage of the popular vote means that they will get $$$ from Election Canada with which to further build their grassroots.

Mr. Dion, while gracious in defeat, must have had some trouble sleeping last night. Did he dream of hearing knives being sharpened by Mr Rae, Ignatief, Kennedy, et al? If the Liberals have anything to be thankful for at all, it’s that there wasn’t the kind of total collapse that it appeared they were heading for going into the campaign’s last week. But one thing you can be certain of. There will be many members of that party looking for somebody to blame. And Mr. Dion, like a deer in the headlights, is it.

In The News – 2008/10/15

October 15, 2008 by

Breaking news. Local, regional, national, and international. London, Ontario, Canada, and the world. Whatever catches my attention and interests me. Updated throughout the day!

Disclaimer: I regret that I can only ensure the validity of these links at the time that the articles are published. The (unscrupulous?) practise of some media outlets to subsequently redirect links to advertisements is completely out of my control and beyond my capacity to monitor.

Canada/Ontario/London

Police Media Releases (Last Updated: 2008/10/09 09:34pm)
Tories take 8 of 10 area seats

Canada/Ontario

Court says NO to unborn child
Harvey’s restaurant pinpointed as E. coli source

Canada/Other

Big trouble for Dion
Conservatives punished in cities
Harper denied his majority
Justin Trudeau wins Papineau riding
Lowest voter turnout ever
NDP blamed for May’s loss

International

$455B annual U.S. budget deficit
Fear of prosecution by Zimbabwe military
U.S. banks forced to accept government intervention
Venezuelan citizens stage protest about prison conditions

Lost Soul Stroll

October 14, 2008 by

I had the opportunity two weekends ago to attend this year’s production of the Lost Soul Stroll.  For those of you who aren’t aware of what the Lost Stroll consists of I suggest you take a look at either my previous post titled  Weekend Events or the official Lost Soul Stroll website.

Having attended the last couple years of the Stroll I was eagerly awaiting this year’s installment and when it was all said and done I was not disappointed one bit.

This year’s production saw the return of a number of memorable characters and the introduction of others that added interesting new story lines and conversations to all portions of the Stroll.

The new departure point, route, characters and stories all helped to keep things fresh for those who have attended the Stroll before while at the same time keeping those new to the audience entertained with an evening full of stories and “adventures”.

As I have said before I would urge anyone looking for an “alternative” form of theatre and entertainment to consider attending one of the shows being offered throughout the month of October.  This is an event that in my honest opinion has the ability to provide entertainment to those from all walks of life and is something that I think all in the City of London would enjoy.

In The News – 2008/10/14

October 14, 2008 by

Breaking news. Local, regional, national, and international. London, Ontario, Canada, and the world. Whatever catches my attention and interests me. Updated throughout the day!

Disclaimer: I regret that I can only ensure the validity of these links at the time that the articles are published. The (unscrupulous?) practise of some media outlets to subsequently redirect links to advertisements is completely out of my control and beyond my capacity to monitor.

Canada/Ontario/London

Police Media Releases (Last Updated: 2008/10/09 09:34pm)
Fire at downtown hotel
Price of road salt increases
TVSB displays callous disregard of citizens

Canada/Ontario

Hamilton considers whether to license landlords
Toronto ‘pay as you throw’ garbage system
Will they ban circus animals in Hamilton?

Canada/Other

Anglicans fight over church property
Detection of drugged drivers

International

British parliament rejects anti-terrorism restrictions
Chinese wedding guests fed rust remover

How will the votes fall in London?

October 13, 2008 by

Tomorrow is election day, and if you haven’t voted yet make sure you get out and do it. Not sure where you go to vote? Check Elections Canada for information on your riding and what you need to vote. Remember that in Canada you don’t need to register to vote, just ID and a piece of official looking mail with your address on it.

But this is about where the chips will fall by the end of the night, and who I think is going to take London’s ridings.

Let’s start with the Federal results. It definitely looks like we’ll see a Conservative minority if not a majority.

The Liberals have run a pretty poor campaign, with a leader at the helm who most Canadians will agree isn’t ready for the job (as will most Liberals). Their carbon tax wasn’t a hit either early on in the campaign; Dion was unable to sell the plan and convince Canadians that a new tax would benefit them. The most promising part of their platform was the education announcement, but that didn’t come up in the debates because students don’t vote ergo politicians don’t care about students.

Despite campaigning to be Prime Minister, Jack Layton would be lucky to see some sort of miracle seat the NDP as official opposition. We’ll see them hold their numbers in Parliament, give or take a few seats, since divine intervention isn’t likely. While his campaign ads on TV were excellent, hammering on the kitchen table hasn’t won over the numbers of voters that he needs to accomplish his goal to be Prime Minister. That’s especially true with voters who see the NDP as a party that would drive the country into a deficit with all their socialist programs. It also doesn’t help that Layton and the Liberals have been trying to sway votes with fear-mongering about the economy, even criticizing Harper for telling people to buy stocks while they are low.

In this first election that it’s been able to be taken seriously in, the Green Party still has to get past the fact that the party has no money. Grassroots will only get you so far, and the debate is about as far as they took May. Maybe next time, but this go-around I don’t see them gaining more than a seat at best.

Now for London.

Lets start with London North Center, where incumbent Glen Pearson will easily take the riding again, helped out by the lackluster candidates that were offered in opposition. The only real competition in this riding (despite a strong turnout for the Greens in a by-election) is Conservative Paul Van Meerbergen, who I find hard to see as a city councilor let alone an MP. Described as the last decent man in Ottawa, Glen should have no trouble in London North Center

Moving east we hit London Fanshawe with incumbent Irene Maytheson. It will be a tight race between Irene and the celebrity candidate for the Liberals, Jacquie Gauthier, who they think will take back London Fanshawe which is historically a Liberal stronghold. Irene is no stranger to losing either. In eight campaigns for office she’s won twice, the first time becuase people were looking to oust Liberals provincially and unfortunately elected Bob Rae’s NDP. She is also no stranger to controversy, chastising an MP in the house for having a picture of his girlfriend in a bikini and their dog on his laptop. Unfortunately for her it wasn’t as interesting of a pic as it could have been given those descriptors and she had to apologize. Layton stopped by her office yesterday to try and boost support for Irene, who last time only won by 800 votes.

Then there is London West. The conservatives have been inching closer to taking this riding from the incumbent Liberal Sue Barnes who only held the seat by 1,300 votes in 2006. On Saturday, Prime Minister Harper visited Ed Holder (his candidate for this riding) to boost numbers in what is supposedly a bellweather riding. This will be a tight race between them, and it wouldn’t be the first time the Conservatives took this riding (previously as the Progressive Conservatives).

Elgin Middlesex London wasn’t too high on my radar throughout the election. It has an incumbent Conservative Joe Preston, who defeated a Liberal incumbent in 2004 and easily held the riding in 2006. Liberal challenger Suzanne van Bommel has received a push from the party though, and could gain some traction for this rural riding, but it’s likely it will stay with Preston.

I think that’s about it, and we’ll soon see if I’m right. I already voted at an advance poll. If you haven’t voted yet, make sure that you do. See you on the other side.

Walkway Work Update

October 13, 2008 by

photoThe work on the walkway which connects Eagle Crescent and King Edward Avenue is proceeding, but I’ve a bit of angst about what I’m seeing here. Hopefully there’s no intention to replace the stairs which were removed, since they represent an unnecessary physical barrier to wheelchairs, buggies and strollers, etc.

Liquid Waste Treatment Facility

October 13, 2008 by

London is examining how best to deal with hauled liquid waste. And although the preferred solution appears to be a leachate pre-treatment facility adjacent to the W12A Landfill, there is a lack of consensus about proper procedure.

Planning Committee debated this issue last Monday. Members struggled with the question of whether the area ought to be rezoned, with Councillor Caranci taking the position that “We’re running this as a business…It’s a revenue generator…It should be zoned industrial.” The area is currently designated for agricultural land use and staff has recommended that it be rezoned as “a Special Provision Agricultural Zone.” I wonder if that’s political goobley-gook for ‘commercial activity that’s being disguised as something else’?

Councillor Branscombe appeared to struggle with understanding the difference in zoning designations. Unfortunately, I struggled in hearing that part of the discussion because of the terrible sound quality in the Council chamber. However, I did manage to capture this one of her questions: “If we zone it Industrial, who knows where that’s going to end up?”

For me, an even more interesting exchange occurred around the propriety of making any rezoning decision before an Area Plan has been completed. Readers of this blog know that proper process is of significant importance to me, and that it was the subject of one of my submissions to the Governance Task Force.

Members of the committee held opposing opinions on whether or not the rezoning decision ought to be considered prior to the completion of an Area Plan, with Councillor Caranci and Controller Polhill arguing in favour of waiting.

Controller Polhill wanted to know “The Area Study won’t be completed until the end of the year so why rezone this now?” and made the excellent point that “We tell other people “If your Area Plan isn’t done we won’t rezone it”… We don’t have to follow the rules but everybody else does.”

In the words of Controller Polhill, “It’s really funny because Roger and I are on the other side of the fence this time.”

It was particularly difficult for me to listen to Controller Barber’s attempted justification for pushing ahead with the rezoning prior to the Area Study completion, but in the end the committee made the correct decision to refer the rezoning matter back to the Planning Committee along with the Area Plan.

On a somewhat related matter, it was revealed that a draft compensation policy for area residents who’ve been affected by the continued operation and expansion of W12 will be coming forward in 6-8 weeks.

Harper, Layton last minute stops in London.

October 13, 2008 by

As the Conservatives bounced back into majority territory in the latest polls, Prime Minister Stephen Harper made a stop to shore up support for Ed Holder, the party’s candidate in the London West riding, and to announce $500M for rural broadband.

He also took the opportunity to address the Liberals proposed new job-killing tax, and the demonizing of him as a Bush-like oil man. “It’s a critical decision and I ask Londoners and people in the area to think about it,” he said.

On Sunday and with only two days until voters go to the polls, NDP leader Jack Layton made a stop at one of the party’s few seats in the region, London Fanshawe. Layton went after the Liberals, calling Dion an ineffectual leader and responsible for propping up a Conservative government. It was a rare moment, breaking from a strategy that attempted to make the Liberals look like an exhausted force on the decline by ignoring them and going after Harper alone.

He also promised that an NDP government would provide skills training, take action on climate change, and make investments in green industries, a national childcare program, and a “fair-trade deal.”

In The News – 2008/10/13

October 13, 2008 by

Breaking news. Local, regional, national, and international. London, Ontario, Canada, and the world. Whatever catches my attention and interests me. Updated throughout the day!

Disclaimer: I regret that I can only ensure the validity of these links at the time that the articles are published. The (unscrupulous?) practise of some media outlets to subsequently redirect links to advertisements is completely out of my control and beyond my capacity to monitor.

Canada/Ontario/London

Police Media Releases (Last Updated: 2008/10/09 09:34pm)
Layton’s brief appearance
Your property tax supports garbage-producing businesses

Canada/Ontario

Driver retaliation is not warranted

Canada/Other

CBC’s new hockey song
Harper’s breach of trust
Health officials failed to warn about strep
Judge rules against Conservative candidate’s campaign flyer
Now flour is being pulled from shelves
Shouldice clinic is a health care lightning rod

International

Britain’s anti-terror legislation opposed
Socialized banking wins credibility
U.N. Security Council needs to be reformed

In The News – 2008/10/12

October 12, 2008 by

Breaking news. Local, regional, national, and international. London, Ontario, Canada, and the world. Whatever catches my attention and interests me. Updated throughout the day!

Disclaimer: I regret that I can only ensure the validity of these links at the time that the articles are published. The (unscrupulous?) practise of some media outlets to subsequently redirect links to advertisements is completely out of my control and beyond my capacity to monitor.

Canada/Ontario/London

Police Media Releases (Last Updated: 2008/10/09 09:34pm)
Newest tree sculpture gets chainsawed
Thanksgiving food drive

Canada/Ontario

Drivers mowing down other road users
Roadside memorials need regulation

Canada/Other

“A Tory victory now seems quite likely”
Conservatives eye a majority
Health care should be an election issue
How much listeria are you willing to eat?

International

EU Commission meets over financial crisis

Petitioning Local Government

October 11, 2008 by

It was interesting last Monday, listening to what transpired during the ETC meeting during discussion of a citizen’s submission to have the direction of one-way travel on his neighbourhood street changed.

In 2000, a similar attempt by the individual resulted in a city mail-back survey of residents. “The survey had a 63% response rate with 40% supporting the proposed reversal, 50% against and 10% indicating no preference. Based on the survey, reversing the existing one-way designation was not recommended.”

Prior to this latest attempt, the citizen personally knocked on doors gathering signatures on a petition. “Out of the owners of 25 houses 24 were in favour and one had no preference. Of the remaining 7 houses three are out of town owners of student residences, the other four I could not reach. There seems to be no opposition to this proposal.”

That didn’t sit well with Mr. Leckie (Director, Roads and Transportation), who managed to convince the committee that the city needs to do another mail-back survey “to ensure the integrity of resident’s opinions.”

Which got me to wondering. Does the city have any policy with respect to surveys, petitions, etc?

The city website returned 4 pages of documents based on a “petition” keyword search and 32 pages based on a “survey” keyword search. Other than a single document which states that “a petition for curbs and gutters must be circulated on both sides of a street…” I was unable to find anything about the relevance of submitted petitions, or the format that they should be in, etc.

It’s been my personal observation that Council and its committees usually just accept petitions without any comment other than to note the number of signatures.

Where does this sudden concern about the validity of signatures come from? Are there some political shenanigans going on here, simply because the city staff doesn’t like what’s being proposed?

In The News – 2008/10/11

October 11, 2008 by

Breaking news. Local, regional, national, and international. London, Ontario, Canada, and the world. Whatever catches my attention and interests me. Updated throughout the day!

Disclaimer: I regret that I can only ensure the validity of these links at the time that the articles are published. The (unscrupulous?) practise of some media outlets to subsequently redirect links to advertisements is completely out of my control and beyond my capacity to monitor.

Canada/Ontario/London

Police Media Releases (Last Updated: 2008/10/09 09:34pm)
Local federal candidates poorly reflect demographics
More reaction to Gosnell fear-mongering
Mural unveiled on Farquharson Arena

Canada/Ontario

Aboriginal groups complain about Mining Act review
Bicycles don’t belong on sidewalks
College of Physicians considers anti-screening
Bike rack usage on Hamilton buses exceeds expectations
Liberals cut assistance payments
Ottawa fined $562,500 for sewage spill
Panic selling on the TSX
Toronto considers an urban forest project

Canada/Other

Are provincially registered meat plants unsafe?
Harper’s disguised bank bailout
Jane Jacobs ‘dark age’ is upon us
Layton’s fantasy
Muslim HRC complaint rejected
RCMP needs to be held accountable
Why this federal election is illegal

International

‘Big 3’ automakers face possible bankruptcy
Muslims riot in India
Troopergate imperils Palin’s credibility

Who do you Vote for?

October 10, 2008 by

Polls have indicated that people don’t have an issue that sticks out this go around like past elections, it’s not about health care, or the environment, or even the economy despite the Liberal and NDP fear mongering. These issues all poll out evenly. So what can the parties focus on as the key issue this election?

Leadership.

This isn’t surprising to me, for the last few elections people have asked whether the party leaders or local candidates should be their main concern when at the polls. Is it more important to vote based on which party leader you like, or which of your local candidates appeals to you the most.

In the past I’ve based my vote on a mix of the two. The last provincial election, my first in London, I voted based on the leader of the party (Liberal) as I wasn’t familiar with the local candidates as well as I should have been. The previous provincial election it was a mix, I lived in the NDP leaders (Howard Hampton) riding and the other local candidates were weak offerings.The last federal election though I decided to vote for the preferable local candidate (Green) helped by a desire to not support Paul Martin and knowing the incumbent local, who I also liked, would be re-elected anyways.

But what about this election? How will I vote, how will you vote?

In my riding London North Center I’m presented with four choices. The incumbent Liberal Glen Pearson, who is the strongest of the group and has a rather interesting background. The Green and NDP candidates are fairly lacking in experiance and self confidence, and the Conservative candidate is the parties script reader write in.

As for the party leaders only Stephen Harper seems to have any sort of air of leadership about him. The Liberals have been on the losing end since electing Dion as leader, he does grow on you if you see him in person a few times but that’s not enough. Layton and the NDP have been trying to pull up the middle, but smell of desperation and lack fresh ideas of their own. Lastly the Green’s Elizabeth May who came in second during a by-election in London North Center isn’t likely to do well, but it would be nice to have an alternative to the NDP. Furthermore The Undecided tells me my beliefs are 41% in line with the Greens, 24% for the Conservatives, 21% with the NDP, and 7% with the Liberals.

So with that said, do I vote for my local preference Liberal Glen Pearson despite Dion’s poor performance, or vote for Stephen Harper despite the lackluster local candidate, or what a website tells me is my political leanings with the Green Party despite their awful Local candidate and Leader.

In the end does it even matter who your local candidate is anyways? Despite how you may feel about an issue and how your candidate feels the best they can often do in Parliament is not show up for a vote they oppose for fear of punishment by the party for voting against the whip.

Maybe it’s time we changed out electoral system.

In The News 2008/10/10

October 10, 2008 by

Breaking news. Local, regional, national, and international. London, Ontario, Canada, and the world. Whatever catches my attention and interests me. Updated throughout the day!

Disclaimer: I regret that I can only ensure the validity of these links at the time that the articles are published. The (unscrupulous?) practise of some media outlets to subsequently redirect links to advertisements is completely out of my control and beyond my capacity to monitor.

Canada/Ontario/London

Police Media Releases (Last Updated: 2008/10/09 09:34pm)
Concern about plans for Komoka Provincial Park
Counselling agency reports increased demand
Protest for war resister
Reactions to Gosnell fear-mongering

Canada/Ontario

18 months for killing a pedestrian
Diminished media coverage of Legislature upsets MPPs
TB alert
Toronto’s rat infestation

Canada/Other

Convicted because evidence was suppressed
Government’s financial reporting is deeply flawed

International

Iceland’s financial collapse
N. Korea bars nuclear inspectors from site
Sumatra unveils conservation plan
Ukranian rift causes snap election