Archive for June, 2010

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Sunday, June 20th, 2010

Patrick Brown, you silly twit, you want us to show your flag,

Your self-promotion with our flag is enough to make us gag.


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Saturday, June 19th, 2010

Babel’s court jester–our MP–sends us warnings dire,

Printed on real cheap paper so as not to raise our ire.


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Friday, June 18th, 2010

The Americans say that the G20 isn’t fit for man nor beast,

But they’re sending Pres. Obama and Sec. Clinton at least.

#51 – An introduction to the Babel Manifesto.

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

We come from many lands. The stone-age nomads from Asia, the venturesome from Europe beginning over 300 years ago and then from the green British Isles, the wind-swept steppes of Asia, the crucibles of middle Europe, lands embracing the Mediterranean, people of Africa and Asia. the sub-continent and points between. We come as Babel, to share this bounty, this land, this Canada.

As countries go, ours is a young nation but it certainly has reached its age of majority. As a nation, it has to choose a route to the future. Not just what it will be, for it has already shown the world its capabilities, but what form of governance will enable it to build that future with confidence and caring.

In 2017, Canada will have had 150 years of development as a country and yet it still clutching vestiges of a colonial past. Canada is governed as a constitutional monarchy but with all real power in the hands of a single person, leader of the political party in power and selected as prime minister. The role of the monarch is played by a faux Governor General, appointed every five years by the then prime minister.

But Canadians are no longer satisfied with this governance. It is not clearly articulated but the unease with the current system has been building for many years. Since the days of Le Front de Libération du Québec to the roll call of new political protest parties in the west, Canada has been dealing with an increasingly schizoid love-hate between its component parts.

There is no question but that Canadians love their country. It seems that the more recently people have come and adopted Canada as theirs, the greater is their love. Whether it is the grandeur of the scenery, the vibrancy and opportunity of the cities, the fairness of the people, the concepts of justice, the freedom and the opportunities for education, newcomers are caught up in this country. It comes as no surprise that around the world, Canada is perceived as a kinder, gentler, more generous and modest America.

While some worry about Alberta’s schizophrenic tantrums, it is Quebec that will cause the most problems if it goes off its meds and holds another referendum on separation. The control exercised by what are known as ‘les notables’ –the elected and non-elected francophone leaders in the province—over the francophone population, could push the ‘yes’ vote over 50 per cent and create serious problems for the future of the country. Francophone Canadians refer to their country as ‘winter’ and a yes vote could spell winter for all of Canada, its people’s hopes and aspirations.

Canada is one. It is not divisible. It is not to be hacked at by petty squabbles, avarice and greed, power trips and political ambitions. It is a country of reasonable and warm peoples, willing to accommodate diversity, language, race, origin, culture and you are welcome to share. It is a country tolerant of many religions but we do not welcome hatreds, exclusions, intolerance or ancient feuds to our shores. The official languages are English and French. The unofficial languages number in the hundreds.

Despite many attempts through the second half of the 20th Century, Canadian governments have failed to address the concerns and needs of Canadians for a more stable form of governance for the country. For the situation to be allowed to continue the way things are is a disservice to Canadians and a recipe for failure.

The Babel Manifesto attempts to address the need for a future for a truly great country. It cannot happen overnight but it can enable us to plan, to work towards a common goal.

Barrie, Ontario June 2010

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(Note: The Babel Manifesto will be published late in 2010.)

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Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

In Babel did the wise men decree

Gathering of towers around a tree,

Where water ran from the ground,

Where once wild life were found,

And ‘A’ Channel made no sound.

So hie you to the planners’ block,

This idea came as an awful shock

Towers rising at 25 stories above,

You can shop in a village of love.

Why not take your plan and shove….

(With apologies to Samuel Taylor Coleridge,

Author of Kubla Khan.)

#50 – Writing good letters is a dying art.

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

Cannot remember the book but the author claimed that he had been told that if you write about sex and money, the book will be a winner. It makes sense but I cannot remember if you have to write about both sex and money or if you can handle them one at a time.

But in this case, only the topic is sexy. This column is about writing good letters and money. That is making money, saving money and having fun while doing it. If you can learn to write good letters, you are going to be richer, for sure. Whether you get more good sex or not is not in question at the moment but there is no reason why not.

There must have been hundreds of times over the years that the wife has come home and said: “We need one of your letters.”

There is a clear meaning to that statement. This is not a chatty letter to Aunt Sally she is talking about. This is a crafted letter to deal with a situation. Whether she has gotten a summons from the police or it is a concern of a neighbour, I am expected to solve it with one of my letters. It can be about getting a new engine for her car after the warrantee has expired, a refund for a can of beans from the grocery store or asking a neighbour to cut down a hedge blocking the view at the corner of the street.

But it is not an imposition. The wife knows I love writing letters of this type. She knows I keep score and, as of today, it is still better than 90 per cent for the good guys. Back when I was paid to teach people how to write good letters, I used to tell them why I could park free anywhere in Metropolitan Toronto.

Recently, the city released the book of reasons for squashing parking tickets. There was nothing secret about that book. If you have never taken the trouble to find out about the why’s and wherefore’s of charges for traffic or parking offences, you deserved to pay for them. What I am talking about is a ‘get out of jail free’ laissez passer for standard parking offences. This means expired meters, ‘no parking’ signs and the myriad of purported offenses you can commit with your vehicle on city streets. Now, I hasten to add, this did not include being a scofflaw about ‘no stopping’ areas, handicapped parking, and infractions such as blocking driveways. It does not include stupidity.

It all started because of a common error made by people who forget to think. You can see the problem every night on the CTV news at six (until somebody smarter than average tells them). That weather guy who can never hold a candle to the old Dave Devol, stands there in front of graphics that show 12 am and 12 pm. And you wonder what this confused person is talking about?

It amazes me in surveying people, how many think 12 am is noon and how many think 12 am is midnight and the very few people who tell you there is no such thing as 12 am or 12 pm. Recently a very nice and obviously educated young lady gave me a very firm lecture about why 12 am meant midnight and I should just get used to it. That shut me up until I found someone else in the same room who swore that 12 am meant noon and so I introduced him to the young lady. There was a match made in heaven.

But this is why for so many years, I parked free in Toronto. All it took was one of my letters to the parking authority. It turned out that my letter was given to a very fine gentleman who loved my letter. He loved my letter so much that he called me, gave me his phone number and told me about my free parking for as long as he was at the parking authority. He was young, in excellent health, enjoyed his job and wanted to make sure that a person who could write such a high quality letter always felt welcome in the City of Toronto.

Recently, when in parking in Toronto, I noticed a sticker had been applied over a parking sign. Where the sign had previously said ‘no parking until 12 pm,’ it now said ‘no parking until 12:01 am.’ My friend must have finally convinced the sign making people that accuracy matters. That was all I wrote about.

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Monday, June 14th, 2010

Mr. Ignatieff said: “What (this party) will not do under my leadership,

Is merge with anybody.”  So, you finally showed us some leadership.


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Sunday, June 13th, 2010

Whether you call it football or soccer, it’s a beautiful game,

And winning the title leads the players to world-wide fame.


#49 – Merging the Liberals and NDP: Whose decision is it anyway?

Saturday, June 12th, 2010

Hold on a minute. Now we have former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien supposedly arguing with current Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff over the proposal to merge with the NDP. Why? They, of course, have the right to an opinion but it is not their decision to make. The question of merging of two political parties has to be decided by the parties involved. It is not for present or past leaders to decide.

Stephen Harper’s manoeuvring the takeover of the Conservative Party by the Reform party was so obvious a move that people who understood the situation wondered why it took so long. The two parties had become locked into regional positions and it was an easy process to put them together.

A Liberal-NDP merger is a far more complex situation. The Liberal Party of Canada has always been a centrist party. It was lucky over the years to have some key centre-left thinkers working within the party that gave it moral character. People such as parliamentarians and cabinet ministers Herb Gray and Lloyd Axworthy contributed much of the humanitarian appeal of the party over their years of service.

But they had to do their work amid colleagues from the right of the political spectrum. There was little they could do in the 90’s when Chrétien gave then Finance Minister Paul Martin the green light to gut programs such as unemployment insurance and transfer payments to try to balance the books in Ottawa. It also left little choice for the voters in 2004 between Stephen Harper’s new Conservative Party and Paul Martin’s right of centre Liberals. The Liberal Party might have chosen Stéphane Dion next as leader but the right-of-centre parliamentarians left him to blow in the wind of ugly attacks by Stephen Harper in 2008.

When the Liberal Party next gathered in convention in Vancouver, the parliamentary rump had Michael Ignatieff firmly settled into the leadership role. The party, expecting a fast election, felt there was no other choice and the selection was confirmed.

But what the party really got was a pig in a poke. The party had no idea where Ignatieff sat on the right or left but gave him control of party policy. So far, there has been no policy and no election. Is it any wonder that the news media report that the natives are getting restless?

The one thing that is very clear is that if the Liberals do not carve out a different space in the political spectrum than Mr. Harper, they might as well surrender early. A merger with the NDP can solve that problem.

While people think of the NDP as a socialist party, it is nowhere near as socialist today as it was in its inception. Today, the NDP is more of a socially conscious party and that is what the Liberals desperately need. The NDP no longer needs the unions to hold it up as a party. It no longer needs the socialist rants of past centuries. Today, it needs to become more forward thinking, more environmentally tuned in, more humanitarian in its outlook. It can do that within the Liberal Party.

And the Liberal Party desperately needs that.

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Friday, June 11th, 2010

Who said Chrétien and Ignatieff should argue about the NDP?

The question should go to the two parties and then we’ll see.