Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Deforest City Blues PT 1: Where do Londoners get complete news?

Stand back. I feel a long and useful rant coming on.

Long, because yesterday’s editorial/point of view in the London Free Press raises so many interesting points inside my little round head.

For example: Why do some editorials smell so bad?

Is it because they are incomplete? Not balanced?

I’m not sure, but I’m willing to do some thinking out loud about this one.

I find it useful to do so.

[“The same-day DILBERT cartoon provides a hint to my true feelings about the editorial”: PANEL 1]

If I kept all my feelings and opinions bottled up inside I might get acid reflux or indigestion - or ‘kick back,’ as I like to say at times.

The headline, i.e., ‘Canada must take lessons from European debt woes,’ wasn’t a bad start at all.

European debt is growing, so is Canada’s, debt can make our country vulnerable to many nasty consequences (e.g., kick back from future generations), and we all might be able to learn something from the debt crisis in Ireland and England.

So, hats off to an anonymous editorialist who lives somewhere deep in the bowels of the QMI Agency, i.e., the Quebec Media Inc. Agency, a media giant that, according to its mission statement “provides reliable, complete and up-to-the-minute news coverage...”

And that’s what we look for in the media, isn’t it? Reliability, completeness, up-to-the-minuteness?

Together, let’s see how QMI dishes out the news and discover what lessons we can learn here in Canada from the trials and tribulations of others.

More to follow.


First line of editorial:

“The welfare state has roared back to bite the British lion in the rump.”

Sounds exciting doesn’t it? But what’s that smell? Is it the lion's rump?

Full editorial here.

More Deforest City Blues at your fingertips.


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

It Strikes Me Funny: So many ideas, so little space

Another deadline approaches for my weekly column in The Londoner.

As usual, I have more ideas and words than the paper has space.

For example, as I sit down in front of the computer I’m sure I can write 1,000 words about two competing ideas - and if Canada’s World Jr. Hockey team wasn’t playing the Czech Rep. right now I’d actually get started!

First idea - New York Buried Under Snow.

Sure, we’ve seen it all before - up to our armpits just two weeks ago - but snow stories hold excitement, drama, thrills, chills and spills.

Second idea - Gord Buys Snow Tires at Canadian Tire.

Excitement, drama, thrills, chills and spills? Well, maybe not as much but I did get spied upon by store security. Cool.

["I admit, I looked suspicious during my university days": GH 1969]

So, NY and snow, or CT and snow tires?


I think I’ll go with the CT drama because it’s so fresh in my mind, it’s local and in the end I saved over 100 bucks.

How’s that for a happy ending!


Please visit my most recent column here.

A new column appears on Thursday and the CT drama will appear the following Thursday.

Unless I’m in jail.


Drive Thru: Or, go around and around and around

I’m glad I was on foot today. Without incident I entered Williams’ Cafe parking lot, walked into the store and ordered a coffee and muffin.

Had I been driving, however, I’d still be going in circles, maybe even running on empty.

Three signs stand beside the entrance to Williams’ drive-thru on Wonderland Rd. South, London.

[The one on the left makes sense": photos GH]

The one on the left I can figure out. Just follow the one arrow and get your coffee.

The two on the right give me the heebee jeebees.

Is it an either-or situation? For example, follow the top sign and go left, then right, then right again to order your coffee, or, follow the bottom sign and go straight ahead, then right, then right again.

Or, should I add the two sets of directions together and end up in Cleveland?

If you can figure it out, let me know.


More I Ask You right here.


I Ask You: Have you ever been to Beamsville?

Recently, when I realized a reader had visited from Beamsville, I confused the town with Beachville. I wasn’t driving at the time so I didn’t get lost.
I did, however, begin to wonder at the time why Beamsville sounded so familiar. I later realized it was because on one of my last motorcycle rides of the season I past through Beachville on my way to Woodstock.

Another reader left the following comment:

“Beamsville is in Niagara. I think it is near St. Catharines.”

The reader is correct. And two years ago, on my way to Niagara Falls, I drove down highway 81 for a stretch and past through Beamsville. (I live an exciting life as my memoirs will reveal).

["My dad once owned a car very much like this": photos GH]

Photo files reveal I stopped at an abandoned garage/motel/mystery building and took a few photos of an old sedan in the parking lot.

I ask you:

Have you been to Beamsville? Seen this car? What type of car is it? Do you know the year?


More about Beamsville vs Beachville here.

There’s even more here if you’re truly interested.


Friday, December 24, 2010

Beamsville isn’t near Woodstock. That is Beachville.

The answer to yesterday’s question, Why does Beamsville, Ontario sound so familiar? is as follows:

["Beachville is situated SW of Woodstock": photos GH]

Beamsville sounds familiar because its name is quite similar to Beachville. And Beachville is between Ingersoll and Woodstock. And because during one of my last motorcycle rides of the 2010 season I cruised through Ingersoll and Beachville (the home of baseball, says a roadside placard) on my way to Woodstock and Highway 59, the road that travels south from Woodstock and through my two home towns.

["Looking east on Dunds St., (H. 59) Woodstock']

["Go west on Dundas to London. Turn left at the bottom of the hill and - voila - Beachville, then Ingersoll"]

And where is Beamsville, since it’s not Beachville and on my way to Woodstock?

I don’t know.

Maybe near Windsor?


Maybe yesterday’s visitor (the first) from Beamsville could say a few words.


Highway 59 passes through Burgessville and Norwich, my hometowns from long ago.

While writing My Memoirs: And I’m Not Even Dead Yet,’ I’ll try to share a few of the countless exciting adventures that happened on or near that world famous King’s highway.

Be there.


My Memoirs: And I’m Not Even Dead Yet

My Memoirs: And I’m Not Even Dead Yet

[Post 3]

Chapter ONE - The Early Days in Burgessville PT 1

I was born on September 18, 1949 in Woodstock, Ontario, and was pulled out of a very warm place by Doctor Lossing, a masked man with very cold hands.

["Immediately after birth I was rolled to room SR - the Show Room"]

I wailed like any child would in the same circumstances.

My mother later told me I was born on a Sunday and the nurses called me Gorgeous George because of my lovely black hair. Who could blame them. I was a looker.

["Gorgeous George and sister Dale": circa 1950]

My mother, Edith Jane Harrison (nee Catton), and father, Gordon Douglas Harrison, wisely slapped a thick diaper over my hinder parts soon after I was born and called me Gordon Arthur Harrison.

A few years later, after taking time to think about my name, I told my mother I didn’t like it. I can remember she told me why I was called Gordon, she actually tried to reason with me (Was I being unreasonable? Name another 3-year old kid who wants to be called Gordon?), but I can’t honestly remember a thing she said.

I can remember that I continued to complain.

“I don’t like my name. I want to be called something else,” I said.

["My 'baby bracelet'. HARRISON was fine. But GORDON - WWT?"]

Like a wise parent, my mother didn’t go right out and change my name to something I liked better because I probably had something fairly unusual in mind. For example, when my youngest sister Jane Marie was born several years later I suggested that she be called Spooky. Though the name has a certain amount of snap or panache to it, imagine what jane would think of me today had my suggestion ruled the day.

“I’m called Spooky because of you, you idiot,” she’d surely say. “Because of you I only have two friends, Drippy and Sneezy. Why did mother ever take you’re advice?”

I’m glad she didn’t.

I’m also glad I never argued about wearing diapers for the first few years. If somebody has to slap one on me in another thirty years I’ll be ready.

Shortly after I was born my parents drove me to my home in Burgessville, 11 miles south of Woodstock on Highway 59, in an old wreck of a car, maybe a Model A.

["My two hometowns are south of Woodstock on H. 59"]

I was given a room on the main floor and was happy to share it with younger brother Kim Douglas three years later.

I think I wanted him to be called Stinky when he first arrived home. It fit at the time.


More exciting adventures will surely follow.

I will honestly attempt to add to my memoirs on a weekly or twice-weekly basis.

Please read the bold Foreword to My Memoirs here.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Why does Beamsville, Ontario sound so familiar?

I recently noticed that a visitor from Beamsville, Ontario landed at It Strikes Me Funny.

My brain started clicking like a roulette wheel, with about as much chance of finding the answer to my question above as a gambler has on scoring big at the wheel.

["Did Billy Hamilton start out in Beamsville?"]

Is Beamsville between Woodstock and Ingersoll, Ontario?

Is it the birthplace of baseball?

Is it a hamlet or village?

Is it a place where most people live right up against the highway?

Is its main industry lime, for cement?

Help me out. My brain is clicking.


Another I Ask You is here.


The Workshop: Birdhouses on the brain

What can one do with narrow strips of wood?

["I've got all my ducks in a row": photos GH]

Maybe come up with a new birdhouse design?

Six like these needed linseed oil recently, just for a bit more colour.

["Linseed oil warms up the wood colour"]

Now they are done in time for Christmas.

All I have left to do before Christmas morning arrives is knit 6 stockings big enough to hold them. But time is short.

Old hockey socks will have to do!

So, Merry Christmas.

And if you get a birdhouse stuffed inside an old hockey sock, sorry about the funny smell.


I’ll do laundry on Boxing Day!

More from The Workshop here.


This Old Economist: Jim Flaherty’s idea is off course PT 2

As I’ve said in the past, anyone can be an economist.

Even if you just have a library card, you can enter the ranks.

But as your first move, don’t propose a new pension plan like Canada’s Finance Minister Jim Flatulence did recently.

["Count my fingers. Many need to save twice as much."]

Sure, one might think he’s just thinking of others, e.g., the self employed or those who work for small employers. But is he?

Two paragraphs in a recent news article make me think otherwise.

The first:

“Officials will continue to study various CPP options (The Canada Pension Plan is in really big trouble.) - including higher regular contributions to the mandatory retirement fund - before reconvening on the issue in June.” (Flaherty touts pensions, Dec. 21, London Free Press)

This says to me that Flaherty would rather get busy and help a few people by starting up a new pension program than help many other people - along with the aforementioned ‘few’ - by simply fine-tuning the already up-and-running CPP.

Jim, just ask people to increase their level of CPP contributions. They levels are too low. Have been for a long time!

Don’t propose another round of studies, Jim. You already know people aren’t saving enough for retirement. (Really. How many more reports or studies do you need to read, Jim?)

Just take the small hit in the polls for the sake of doing the right thing and move on.

But Jim likely won’t, based on what he says.

“We are all concerned about a fragile economic recovery... so there is concern about not putting more burdens on employers right now.”

When would be the best time to do the right thing? Now.

More burdens on employers? They’ve had a break for years. So have many employees if they haven't been saving enough for retirement. That’s one of the main reasons the CPP is suffering.

Get with it, man. Be tough.

By the way the PRPP is a Stup - rpp - id idea.


See Jim Flaherty’s idea is off course PT 1 here.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Merry Christmas: A homemade card

Christmas cards are pouring into mailboxes around the world.

Of those that aren’t mass-produced, 67 per cent feature a politician’s family and their pet dog - without one drippy nose.

I thought I’d do something different this year.

Something old.

Peace! [GH - 1969]

And something even older.

To all, Merry Christmas from me and my siblings! [Combined ages - 500 years]

My nose wasn't drippy.



I did some serious rounding up.


This Old Economist: Jim Flaherty’s idea is off course PT 1

Ever heard of a PRPP? NO?

It stands for ‘stup-rpp-id idea.’

Yesterday, after I read that Canada’s finance ministers “agreed to move forward with Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s idea to develop a pooled private pension system [PRPP] designed for workers without a corporate savings plan.” (Dec. 21, London Free Press)

Undoubtedly, already you can see something stup-rpp-id about the idea.

["Reduce spending, pay down debt, save for tough times"]

Canada already has a ‘pension system designed for workers without a corporate savings plan’. It’s called the Canada Pension Plan (CPP). It’s already set up. It already sends out millions of cheques each month to retirees, myself included.

Yes, as Flaherty says, “there is a group of people who work for relatively small employers or who are self-employed who don’t have the option now of a pension plan...”

And though he says, “this new initiative will help alleviate that,” I say, tell the self-employed and those who work for small employers to step under the CPP umbrella. Jim, send them a form in the mail. Tell them it’s mandatory.

But don’t set up another system. The administrator of the all-new (though not really) PRPP plan will need a new building, computers, staff - from CEOs to custodians - new perks and cars, etc.

All you really need to do is send out a form!

And while you and the boys are studying the idea to death, more people are retiring without enough to help them survive. So, not one new nickel should go toward the stup-rpp-id new plan.

Get with it, Jim. It’s mandatory.


Would a PRPP have helped the Nortel employees left out in the cold?

More from This Old Economist here.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Zoom w a View: There’s snow and then there’s icing

I enjoyed three exciting events equally in early December. London’s big snow dump situation and both of grandson Oliver’s fourth birthday parties.

["Only 99 more snow pictures to go!": photos GH]

I have 100s of photos of snowy scenes but only a small handful of two birthday cakes my wife decorated.

Two cakes for two parties. One for the kids, the other for the adults.

Ollie chose both characters for the cakes and I felt one tasted as good as the other.

I say, equal bites for all!


More Zoom w a View here.


Zoom w a View: There is a 'naughty list' and I’m on it

According to earlier photo files dated on the eve of London’s big snow event (Dec. 5), I had two contrasting emotions about certain aspects of our natural world.

First, I wanted a big pile of snow to fall and was happy that the backyard was starting to get buried.

["Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow": photos GH]

Second, I wanted a couple of athletic local squirrels to leave my bird feeders alone.

["Rats. I should have destroyed the evidence."]

I designed a plan that didn’t thrill my wife and she ratted me out to Santa via Royal Mail (Santa Claus, North Pole, HOH OHO).

Drat (with the emphasis on rat).


More Zoom w a View here.


Deforest City Blues: What do you want to be when you grow up?

I want to be a successful writer with a fat catalogue of exciting books to my credit, like ‘My Memoirs: And I’m Not Even Dead Yet.’

My brother wants to be a successful artist. I think he already is. He can pay his rent and afford new art supplies and groceries. Come on, what more do you want in life?

And, according to recent news, London wants to grow up and be like Kitchener. A special levy might do the trick, at least so thinks Mayor Joe Fontana, aka ‘10,000 Jobs’ to some.

Although Patrick Maloney of The London Free Press feels “there could be some merit to the idea of an economic-development fund in the context of Joe Fontana’s promised four-year tax freeze,” (Dec. 18 issue) I think otherwise at the moment.

Two reasons.

One. Deforest City ratepayers (you know who you are) already pay millions upon million per year (e.g., $13.5 million) to boost economic development. At least according to another Free Press report.

And two. London already has an economic development fund, and it’s running a surplus.

According to an earlier article by the aforementioned Patrick Maloney, “London Economic Development Corp. (LECD)... has as $800,000 surplus...”

Maybe all LECD needs is a Kitchener-style idea to spend it on. Away we go, Joe.

Maybe the $800,000 could be used to drag our city 100 km. closer to Toronto (I say somewhere near Cambridge and the Galt Knife Brewing Co.) and away from the corn, cattle, soy bean and unimaginative beer region.

Like Mr. Maloney says, “there are many questions with the economic-development idea.”

For example, why would Joe introduce a new tax in a four-year, tax-free, hybrid-corn zone?

Corn dog, anyone?


Please read ‘Deforest City Blues Pt 1: Does City Hall still waive development fees?’ for more context.


Monday, December 20, 2010

Climate Change Concerns: Our growth has limits - Conclusion

Times are tough all over.

Individuals and countries are burdened with growing debt and the expectation to keep growing and spending or driving the economy to save themselves.

Because our philosophies related to lifestyles and economic matters have unsustainable growth factors attached, tougher times are coming.

Why? Growth in fact has limits.

The last post concluded with this statement from an essay entitled ‘A Letter to My Boys’ by H. Murray -Philipson and found in the book ‘Moral Ground.’

“We stand at the fork in the road when we must choose between sustainability and catastrophe.”

And I asked, will we stand at the fork alone?

In the following brief history lesson from Murray -Philipson’s essay, I think we find out answer.

“On current trends we may have ten years before we cross the point of no return on climate change. Our generation bears a unique responsibility to those who come after - unique, because this set of circumstances has never existed before.”

Now, about that history lesson. The writer continues:

re 1900 -

“The pace of change in one hundred years has been extraordinary.

“In 1900, the Wright brothers had not yet flown and the world’s population was 1.5 billion.

“The impact of man on the natural world was limited, and it still made sense to convert natural capital into manufacturing and financial capital to improve the human condition.”

re 1950 -

“Half a century later... the foundations (were laid) of the modern global economy.

“At that time, there was no mention of “sustainability” or “the environment.”

“The assumption was that nature could be taken for granted.

“There were plenty of warning signs, even then, that unrestricted exploitation of nature had unfortunate side effects - the near-extinction of the North American bison, the pollution of the Great Lakes, the smogs in London - but the notion of climate change was unheard-of, and the bounty of the planet was still considered unlimited.”

re 2000

“Global population quadrupled to 6 billion in the twentieth century, and the relationship between man and nature has been turned upside down in the process.

“Economic growth was achieved through burning fossil fuels... atmospheric levels of CO2 have risen from preindustrial levels of 280 parts per million (ppm) to 387 ppm. Despite increasing scientific alarm, they continue to rise by 3 ppm per year.

“The economic model off which the world is working came from an Age of Innocence and is not fit for our purpose in the twenty-first century - the Age of Consequences. The rules for 1 billion people cannot be the same for 6 billion...”

- re 2010 [population 6.7 billion]

“There has to be a global agreement on global sustainability... we are all in the same business, the business of survival. There is no point pursuing wealth for its own sake.”

And now, back to that fork in the road “when we must choose between sustainability and catastrophe.”

Will we stand alone?

No. All 6.7 billion people are crowded shoulder to shoulder in the same spot.

But, there appears to be no one to lead us toward sustainability.

If the recent Climate Change Conference in Cancun is any indication, major governments worldwide still stress economic growth at an unsustainable pace.

So, though we stand at the forks along with everyone else, we are without proper leadership and therefore stand as if alone.

How did I begin this set of posts several days ago?

“You’re on your own. If you want climate change concerns to be addressed in your lifetime you’ll have to address them by yourself.”

Sad but true?

I think so.


Please read Our growth has limits PT 1 for more context.

Please read Our growth has limits PT 2 for more context.

Please read Our growth has limits PT 3 for more context.

Please read Our growth has limits PT 4 for more context.

Please read Our growth has limits PT 5 for more context.

Please read Our growth has limits PT 6 for more context.


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Bird Watching: Finally caught the junco standing still

I know juncos like the feeder I placed on the ground last week. They’ve visited it every day since.

It has been hard, however, to snap a photo of one or two birds while they’re picking up the seeds I’ve tossed into the feeder.

They hear me coming down the back stairs - even in stocking feet - and fly in a flash toward the spruce trees when I move the curtain at the window and raise my camera.

["Stay just a little bit longer.": photos GH]

Yesterday I got lucky. Maybe I had thicker socks on my feet. Maybe the seeds tasted better. Gotcha!


More Bird Watching here.


My Memoirs: And I’m Not Even Dead Yet

My Memoirs: And I’m Not Even Dead Yet


Many of the books I own have Forewords.

The first one I selected from the closet in my computer room (Whisky: The Water of Life - Uisge Beatha, by Helen Arthur) has a Foreword written by Charles Maclean and it begins as follows:

“Nearly twice as many books about whisky have been published in English since 1990 than were published between 1645 and 1970; seventy-two titles in this decade, so far as I can ascertain, as opposed to the thirty-eight in the previous two and a quarter centuries. Is there room for yet another whisky book?”

Good grief, I say. Enough.

Will Mr. Maclean next list all 72 titles or say twice as many books were printed in German?

Few people would want to know.

And that’s the chance a writer takes when the Foreword to their new book is written by someone else.

["Authentic adventures - I was there": GH circa 1953]

Good thing I caught that. The last thing I want is for Charles Maclean or someone I know to ask, is there room for yet another book of memoirs?

Because I say yes, and I don’t want anyone to have any doubt about it.

For example, Bill Bryson’s latest book, ‘The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid - A Memoir,’ is definitely worth the price of admission, i.e., $9.99, and if I can get it for less by waiting until after Christmas, then so be it.

With those thoughts in mind I have written my own Foreword.

I am uniquely qualified to write my memoirs at this time because I am of clear mind and sound judgement.

Little that I say will embarrass any living member of my family. Odds are slim any will even buy this book or read as far as page 92, where I mention a few juicy bits about my four siblings.

My hale and hearty adventures in life bear an authentic ring because I was there. About my Lester B. Pearson story: I sat right beside him in a blue convertible. Ken Dryden: I stood beside him and asked him to autograph my leather hockey helmet. The Queen Mother: She bore a striking resemblance to my grandmother. Prince Charles: Not so much.

My writing style is fairly easy to understand and, according to my computer’s spell-checking software, I spell most words correctly, Canadian-style.

I have known the author of this hefty book my entire life and am looking forward to reading what I have to say for myself. You should too.

If even a few of my many readers are inspired to write their own memoirs for the enjoyment of others (or to embarrass their family because of some unresolved issue) I will be fully rewarded for my efforts here.


GH will honestly attempt to add to his memoirs on a weekly or twice-weekly basis.

Please read the Introduction to My Memoirs here.


Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Workshop: One looks like two

I had a pile of rescued lumber that was too good to burn but too narrow to make one of my typical birdhouse styles.


["A batch of six singles will soon be ready for spring": photos GH]

I improvised. I used thin strips to make a single that - from a distance - will look like a double.

A coat of linseed oil will warm up the colour and I’ll be done.


More work in The Workshop here.


Zoom w a View: “Which way did he go?”

On the way out to the workshop yesterday I paused to look at a bird’s tracks.

What I saw confused me.

Which way did he go?


More Bird Watching here.

More Zoom w a View here.


My Memoirs: And I’m Not Even Dead Yet

My Memoirs: And I’m Not Even Dead Yet


This is all rather sudden, I know.

I was recently doing some Christmas shopping at Chapters in London, Ontario, and came across a new book by Bill Bryson entitled ‘The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid - A Memoir.’

I was stunned.

I thought, Bryson’s dead? He’s not older than me, is he?

Then I corrected myself. He wasn’t older than me, was he?

["Ready for adventure": GH circa 1950]

I picked up the book from the Bargain Shelf. It was greatly reduced in price. $9.99. Excellent.

I thumbed through it and saw a picture of Bill as a child. Cute kid. So was I once. I read a few lines and realized Bill was the author and had written his own memoirs before he died, which is - or was - probably the right time.

Then I thought, maybe he’s not dead. Maybe he just wanted to get things down on paper before he forgot. None of us is getting any younger. I know I’m not.

I returned the book to the shelf because I figured it would likely be a couple of bucks cheaper after Christmas.

And when I got home later that day I decided to start writing my own memoirs, but call the book by a different name.

I think the title, ‘My Memoirs: And I’m Not Even Dead Yet’ is an honest assessment of where I am with my life at present and am hoping this new writing project will inspire me to reflect on all of my life's interesting adventures, even travel a bit more than usual, maybe even write a book about that, too.

Bill Bryson writes (or, wrote) a lot of great books about his adventures. Why can’t I?

And so it begins.



GH will honestly attempt to add to his memoirs on a weekly or twice-weekly basis.

However, adventures may cut into his writing time.

He’s off!


Friday, December 17, 2010

Climate Change Concerns: Our growth has limits PT 6

In a book of fundamentally sound essays entitled ‘Moral Ground: Ethical Action for a Planet in Peril’ I recently read the following:

“Our ancestors viewed the Earth as rich and bountiful, which it is.”

“Many people in the past also saw nature as inexhaustibly sustainable, which we now know is the case only if we care for it.”
(Essay - A Question of Our Own Survival, by the Dalai Lama)

Most North Americans know and believe the above to be true, the next statements too.

“It is not difficult to forgive destruction in the past that resulted from ignorance. Today, however, we have access to more information. It is essential that we reexamine ethically what we have inherited, what we are responsible for, and what we will pass on to coming generations.”

We are of the generation that has shifted from a belief in the “inexhaustibly sustainable” to “forgive destruction” to “reexamine,” are we not?

However, humankind’s actions lag far behind.

In Canada, there are many who will encourage individuals, businesses and government leaders to do better - because they can.

For example: “Canada may not be a giant in terms of (carbon) emissions - at only 2% of the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions - but that doesn’t mean we can’t lead the way to more inclusive, effective, truly global agreement instead of abdicating that role to our big neighbour to the south.” (K. Reid, London Free Press, Dec. 9, 2010)

Sounds impressive, but, as a country, we should also be encouraged to lead the way even if no one follows, just because it is the right thing to do, and because, per capita, we are ahead of all other countries in the world - but for 2 or 3 - in emissions.

Though our Prime Minister will say that he takes climate change seriously, there will surely be no effective Canadian action to lower emissions for years to come. The economy is king to PM Harper.

Yes, the next recession may trigger lower emissions, but the PM will not be able to take full credit for that.

According to another essay found in Moral Ground, “there are limits beyond which we cannot go without breaking the covenant... between humanity and the natural world - and those limits are close at hand.”

“We stand at the fork in the road when we must choose between sustainability and catastrophe.”
(A Letter to My Boys, by H. Murray-Philipson

Do we stand at the fork alone?

More to follow.


Please read Our growth has limits PT 1 for more context.

Please read Our growth has limits PT 2 for more context.

Please read Our growth has limits PT 3 for more context.

Please read Our growth has limits PT 4 for more context.

Please read Our growth has limits PT 5 for more context.


Deforest City Blues PT 2: City Hall waives development fees

Me bad. I ignored Google for my first rant of the day.

I wanted to know if City Hall (in London, Ontario) waives development fees for developers to encourage development.

I had a sense it did, making me wonder why new London Mayor Joe ’10,000 Jobs’ Fontana would ever propose a new tax (“special levy” sounds so much better, eh?) in order to, you know, encourage development.

A moment ago I Googled the following:

London waive development fee Renaissance Towers

And - surprise - up popped about 229,000 results in 0.16 seconds. (So, my day is planned!)

Here’s a little gem entitled ‘Subsidies In Spotlight’ by Norman De Bono, The London Free Press (August 17, 2010, 9:32am) and the opening line clearly suggests Mayor Fontana needs to rethink his plan, in my (always) humble opinion.

["The Blue Heron, outside the subsidized Renaissance Towers, London": photo GH]

“London taxpayers shell out more than $13.5 million a year in subsidies to businesses, with some politicians saying it’s time to reconsider such support.”

Now, doesn’t that raise just a few wee questions?

Like, why does our mayor need a special levy? $13.5 million a year wouldn’t be enough to encourage a bit of development? It ain’t chump change.

De Bono adds it up for us:

“The city waives development charges — levied to help pay for the cost of growth — for new and expanding industries. Those charges totalled $9.5 million in 2009. Instead, taxpayers picked up the tab.”

“Homeowners are also paying $4 million a year in higher water rates than recommended, so business can get a break.”

“Those two policies alone amount to $13.5 million a year.”

Holy Doodle. That’s amazing.

Maybe when Mayor Joe tells us there’s no money in this town for economic development, the common Joe, like you and me, should tell him exactly where to find it!

De Bono adds more good news.

“But a third factor pushes the tab even higher: Between 2000 and 2017, the city will have rebated more than $5.2 million in property taxes for new downtown residential development — again, paid by ratepayers.”

That’s a pretty big waive too!

My head is spinning and it’s not just because a squirrel just climbed across my clothesline - upright - to get to my new bird feeder.

In Thursday’s news Mayor Fontana bemoaned the fact that we’re not as enlightened as Kitchener. They started a $110 million war chest in 2004.

Let’s do the math, shall we. Take 14 million dollars and multiply by 7 years. What do you get?

98 million bucks.

Tack on another year or two and the subsidies or special levy (ya gotta love that phrase) is right up there with Kitchener’s war chest.

So, Mister Mayor. Tell me again why you want to float a new tax?


Please read Deforest City Blues Pt 1 for more context.


Zoom w a View: Unique art work at Renaissance Towers, London

[“The Blue Heron by London artist, Ted Goodden”: photos GH]

[“More information in a London Free Press article”]


Renaissance Towers and taxpayer subsidies.

Should we pay a special levy to Mayor Fontana?


Deforest City Blues PT 1: Does City Hall still waive development fees?

I’d like to know because Mayor Joe “10,000 Jobs” Fontana is thinking about a new tax in London in 2012.

The Mayor wants extra cash for an economic development fund or “special levy.” [See article London Free Press]

Oh, pick me, pick me. I’ve gotta question.

City Hall still waives development fees for developers to encourage development, doesn’t it?

["The Blue Heron at Renaissance Towers": photo GH]

For example, didn’t the Corporation of the City of London recently waive its right to over $600,000 of development fees from the developer of the Renaissance Tower situated at Ridout and King? Didn’t it even more recently waive a similar amount again for Tower number two?

In other words, don’t we - the common taxpayer - already pay a huge pile of extra cash - special levy, in other words - for the sake of the local economy?

Wouldn’t then Mayor Fontana’s ‘economic development fund’ on the back of taxpayers actually be called ‘economic development fund 2’?

Come on, Mayor, I’d like to know.


Help Mayor Joe Fontana with ideas for 10,000 jobs here


Thursday, December 16, 2010

There’s another expert fiscal advisor in the family. Who knew?

My youngest sister (the one with the little round head, same size and shape as mine) has stepped into the blogosphere and writes about frugality - not a bad word in our family.

["Hey, Sis. I bought a baggobooks for less than 20 bucks!" photo GH]

Recently she wrote the following:

“Occasionally when I post and often when I make a comment on someone else's post, I refer to the fact that the financial situation in Canada is not as bad as it is in the U.S.”

“Well, today that has all changed. For the first time in Canadian history we steady-as-she-goes, practical, frugal, boring, conservative and formerly smug Canadians have a higher debt to income ration than those spendthrift, carefree, live for today Americans. Yup, it's true, according to my favourite newspaper, The National Post.”

Though I took exception to being described as ‘smug’ (I usually try to come off as glib), I liked the overall tone and texture of her post.

Visit her full post here.

Tell her Gordie sent you.


Please click here to visit This Old Economist.