Posts Tagged With: opinion

 
 

TIS THE SEASON – OF CONTROVERSY

We came across the tree of remembrance on a snowy trail deep in Mundy park- a small fir tree festooned with photos -some of humans, but mostly of dogs (Mundy is an off -leash dog park) a small hand lettered sign inviting walkers to hang a photo in remembrance of someone dear, but now departed, that had walked the park with them in days gone by. The memorial was a new creation, since we walk the park frequently and had never encountered it before-doubtless it was done in the sprit of the season, since Christmas was almost upon us.

It seemed a simple, and heartwarming gesture, and judging from the comments of others as they passed, one which was appreciated by the community of dog walkers who inhabit the park. Imagine then, my surprise when our local community Facebook page came alive with a diatribe against Christmas decorations in parks!

Decorating trees along local forest trails with Christmas ornaments has been gaining popularity over the past several year. I’m not sure when I first noticed a decorated tree in one of our local parks,- likely at least five years ago, but they have become common place, with families and groups, like my wife’s walking group, adopting a tree for the season and decorating it.

But alas, the grinchly Facebook post had ignited a fire storm, and incendiary posts poured in – the Ornamentalists pleading for reason- the pastime was innocent, and gave joy to many-a delightful and unexpected enhancement of a stroll through a wintry wood- while the Puritans insisted it was a desecration of nature- an un-needed and unwanted intrusion- surely unadorned nature should be enough!

Many of the Facebook Flame-throwers insisted that Christmas ornaments were simply bad for the environment. I could have saved them the energy of a Facebook post- I know for a fact that argument doesn’t work- I tried to use it a few years ago to get out of hanging the outdoor Christmas lights, and ended up on the top of a stepladder with a flea in my ear and a string of lights around my neck quicker than you can say Merry Christmas.

The social media ‘War in the Woods’ continued to escalate, as one of the most strident puritans, emboldened by the luke-warm support she had received, posted that all Christmas decorations were henceforth deemed “litter” and she was personally forming a work party to clean up the park . The Ornamentalists were put on notice – if they valued their baubles, they had best remove them within 48 hours before a volunteer posse of environmentalists assembled to sweep the park clean of man-made clutter – Christmas be damned!

The litter argument was a curious one, I thought, since the ornaments have been appearing in the park for years around Christmas time, and promptly disappearing, a few days after New Years, leaving no trace in the forest. Whether the work of unseen forest elves, or of conscientious Baublistas, the woodland park has remained pristine, without the intervention of zealots.

Social media being what it is, the challenge did not go unanswered, as the Baublistas replied with fury-how dare others be offended- and who gave the puritans the right to preach, or interfere with the god-given and probably constitutional right to hang ornaments in parks?

Feeling the need to nurture the seasonal myth of goodwill to all mankind, and yearning for the simple pleasure of a tranquil walk in the woods, free of controversy, we elected to avoid encountering the threatened work party and the likely clash of ideology along the trail, by taking an alternate, and unadorned path.

There, to our delight we discovered the work product of that endangered species of the deep forest –

THE MODERATE!

Someone, of obvious diplomatic mien. had taken the time to adorn the path with a seasonal icon- a snowman- BUT- using only natural materials – compacted snow, fir boughs, twigs, and pinecones. Something human crafted- to amuse the passersby, – but no man-made materials to offend.

On a snowy path, deep in the forest, a master class in the art of compromise, taught by an anonymous Moderate.

We tried to follow their tracks, since its so rare to see a Moderate in the wild, but the tracks eventually disappeared into the deep snow, leaving us to muse that, in the Canada of our youth, Moderates were everywhere- their range extending Canada wide- from the great boreal forest, tp the the Canadian Shield and beyond- even occasionally being spotted in Ottawa. What had caused their decline, we wondered ?

So we continued our walk, wistful that we had missed a rare sighting, but gladdened by the knowledge that untamed, free-range Moderates continue to exist in the wilderness at our back door. My wife, always with a soft spot for wildlife, suggested that we should leave some food out for them, but I’m against it-let them live as nature intended, I say.

Then again, to settle the debate, perhaps I should try to solicit some feedback from our friendly neighbourhood Facebook group?

Categories: Environment, Etiquette & manners, Nature, Parks, Reflections | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Ukraine Air Flight 752

This is a difficult piece to write, and the little editor/censor that sits on my shoulder and occasionally whispers in my ear to shut up, is practically shouting at me. Possibly I should listen, but here goes anyway:

I am offended by Prime Minister Trudeau’s gesture to make a $25,000 gift to each of the 57 families who lost loved ones when flight 752 was shot down on take-off from Tehran.

Like all Canadians, I am shocked and angered by the inexcusable loss of innocent lives that occurred as a result of Iran’s stupidity, negligence or worse. The loss to Canada was especially egregious, given the remarkable accomplishments of the victims. We lost doctors, scholars, promising students, entrepreneurs, the very best of what we hope our immigration policies will attract.

Indeed the families of the victims deserve our support and respect. I applaud the government for taking a stern line with Iran, demanding answers, and compensation, and for the consular support they are providing to the families.

That said, it is, I believe, wrong on principle for the government to provide compensation in such circumstances, where they are not to blame for the loss that occurred, and where to do so sets an unhealthy precedent.

Compensation should flow from fault, or responsibility for the loss, not from a politician’s desire to be seen as virtuous.

Consider that aircraft crashes in Canada last year claimed at least as many lives as we lost on flight 752. Eighteen Canadians were lost in the equally unforgivable Ethiopian Airways Boeing 737 Max 8 crash, without the government feeling the need to start writing cheques, and there were 22 aircraft fatalities in Canada in July alone last year, all resulting from small aircraft crashes, and none resulted in the government rushing forward to pay the victims’ families.

Please understand this is a difficult matter of principle, and not intended to be hurtful to the families involved, who deserve, and in the fullness of time will doubtless receive, much more fulsome compensation from the proper source, the government of Iran. It is a reflection on what is, and is not, the proper role of government.

The government will easily spend more than the $25,000 now being paid to each family, in order to send investigators and consular officials to Iran. Indeed they have already spent far more than that in order to convene and host a meeting of foreign ministers from affected nations, in order to forge a united plan of action. That money is appropriately spent. The $25,000 gift payments are not.

The families of the Ethiopian Airlines disaster have suffered every bit as much as the Flight 752 families, and in addition to the anguish of sudden, and unnecessary bereavement, have faced the same expenses of repatriating bodies, and conducting funerals, and many have felt compelled to make the expensive journey to Ethiopia to visit the crash site.

When authorizing the expenditure of taxpayers dollars governments need to look beyond the political value of the headline the expenditure creates, and be guided by policy – hopefully by policy not formulated in the midst of an emotional maelstrom – and a policy which is applied consistently.

Is it now government policy that the family of every Canadian who loses their life in a plane crash anywhere in the world is to be given a payment? I certainly hope not. If so, it marks a complete about face from Canada’s long-standing policy against providing gratuitous assistance to Canadian travelling abroad. Consider the Canadians presently trapped inside Kashmir who have been denied financial assistance to leave, or the 300,000 Canadians  nervously living in Hong Kong who are hoping in vain that the Canadian Government might ride to their rescue if things get worse.

There is a limit to what any government can do, and we deserve to know what criteria the government is using, when they spend our money. Buying a photo op is not an appropriate one.

To the families I say, we all share your grief, and we understand that you did not want to be thrust into this awful spotlight, and you did not come to government with your hand out, expecting anything. I truly wish we didn’t have to make any comment at all.

Categories: law, Politics, Reflections | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

All aboard the climate change bandwagon!

Whistler has just sent a demand letter to a major Alberta oil company seeking compensation for the extra costs incurred by the municipality because of climate change. Now that is a bandwagon I can climb aboard!-here’s a draft of my own demand letter to Big Oil: Continue reading

Categories: Environment, humour, Reflections, Travel | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Honey, who’s in the driveway?”

There is a guy down the road who looks a bit sketchy to me. He always looks a bit scruffy, never makes eye contact, and he is often seen lounging about his back yard while the rest of us honest, god –fearing citizens are toiling away at the office. Continue reading

Categories: law | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Reflections upon being a gentleman

When I created this blog over 5 years ago, I chose the title  “A Gentleman’s Relish” with a distinct nod to the English gentleman.  This now endangered, if not extinct, sub-species has always had a certain cachet with me. As a busy professional I have found it intriguing to contemplate a life where  money was no object, and one could fill ones days with leisure pursuits, Continue reading

Categories: Etiquette & manners, Politics | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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