Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Bringing Coal to Newcastle - Tronna Style.

The gun culture in Toronto remains relatively undisturbed by the ministrations of a few layers of government and the investment of millions in social service fixes. And now the latest greatest idea - mini cop-shops in troubled high schools.

The notion initially raised by an inquiry into a shooting death at a Toronto school a year or so back, was jumped all over by no less than Toronto's top cop Chief of Police and 'imperator praetorii' Bill (I'm a lot smarter than I look) Blair. Bill sees this as a wonderful opportunity to put the 'pleece' were they can get to know the kidz, build some community and develop that ever-important trust. Not only that they'd be on the down-low for some timely and positive 'intel'.

The schoolboard types might have had a different vision than the one the Chief has in mind. They'd envisioned a cool cat sort of cop, clad in chinos and an untucked hawaiian shirt - schmoozing with the kids over fries in the caf. Somebody setting a good example and discouraging any rampant gangbanging. That ain't what the chief has in mind.

He wants his people in the uniform to which they've sworn to be true in their hearts - blancoed, buttoned, shakoed , belted and shiny-booted defenders of the common weal and unflinching upholders of the law. A quasi-military presence in an all too unstructured clearing house for the nefarious teenager. He also wants them armed.

Now if you think about the reason they'd be there in the first place, because of a macho gun culture that seems to be expanding rather than going away, I would guess that somebody else with a pistol at school would make sense to some, but it doesn't make a lot of sense to me. 'Yeah, but what about the day somebody decided to go Columbine? Wouldn't some protection be a good idea?'

Maybe, but if I was going to go Columbine, guess who would be the first target? If there was a cop in the school, he's got another gun to use. In fact, if memory serves, weren't there security people at Columbine when that happened? Security, police included, often have a strong sense of self-preservation at such times, which often limits their role to assisting survivors and making notes about what happened after the perps have shot themselves.

Somehow I think, arms in the school are the antithesis of the message that needs to get out, no matter how responsibly they're borne. I think the Chief is as 'batty' on this issue as he was on those fortress walls and security systems in police parking lots. But then, this is really about the new hires he'll need - the expansion of the guardian empire and a strong offense will shut up the defense.

A MOO-vable Feast

The Toronto Star reported the finding of another case of 'mad cow' disease in a British Columbia animal. They would have us believe that's nothing too unusual since they've tested 200 000 animals for holes in the head since the first notorious case showed up few years back.

Remarkable what a few years and a little testing will do! For that first case revolutionized the beef farming and packing industries in Canada. In fact it almost destroyed them. If memory serves, that incident originated in two Canadian animals found on American farms and resulted in a two-year freeze of the import of Canadian beef in a number of world markets.

So we have to believe that the original brouhaha was contrived - for some reason. Or that the current situation is being downplayed ... because the disease remains fairly significant in effect, debated in causality, and medically incurable.

Suppose it was the first. A trade 'problem' - cheap Canadian beef imports - was resolved by stoppage. American farmers selling 'safe' expensive beef had their market clear. A spin-off result was the opportunity to capitalize on a weakened Canadian meat-packing industry for some heavy-duty market-cornering. There are far fewer packing operators in Canada now than there were at the start of the crisis and the larger ones are American-owned. A second opportunity saw a significant market shift from farmers to beef 'investors' when packing houses bought out beef herds at fire sale prices, or less, and then paid farmers to pasture the animals with funds the government so generously provided to assist those possessing less-than-marketable beef herds. The beef industry has been changed.

How about downplaying the 'crisis'? That sounds plausible too, for the last thing the government wants is more trade problems, or a repeat of the farmer fiasco of last time. The beef industry wants Canadians to know that the meat supply is 'safe' - uncontaminated. By extension the world market should be thinking that if it's safe enough for Canadians to eat well - gosh darn it...

It's disconcerting to know that, after all the problems the disease has caused, and that the cause of it is claimed to be so clear - unless that's something else we're not being told - that somebody, somewhere, still thinks filling-out the feed with some meat products is a sensible thing to do. Tell ya, if the guy's name was Abdul, CSIS and the National Security apparatus would be hut-hutting all over him and his attempted 'terrorism'. If it's just an incident, or three, on BC farms, well, what the heck, we caught it before it got into your Big Mac, so feel free to dine-out tonight,eh?

Another thing we're not told is the incidence of Creuzfeld-Jacob Syndrome in Canada. Granted there seems to be a genetic causality to it, but the statistics would indicate if there could be some cases arising from tainted meat products. But who wants to go where the Brits have been? It's not a happy place and there aren't more spongiforms than there are dope-induced psychotics and aged-impaired dodderers, so why let it upset anybody. Unless you're one of the 'lucky lottery winners'.

It strikes me if there were only three cases this year, how come there were no cases last year? Somebody just didn't start thinking to mix some mutton into the chop? Did they? I bet it's because of how many animals they chose for testing. Last year there weren't any positives tested. This year they 'lucked out' with three. But that doesn't mean there might not have been more - this year, or last.

If testing, as is claimed, can keep infected meat out of the supply chain, then every animal should be tested. The peace of mind would be worth the few mills added to the price of a kilo of beef. And it would make Canada look like it took food safety seriously. Malheureusement it could be that they have relatives of the security people running the food safety organizations too - 'smarts' like that tend to be genetic.

In to-day's world food shortages have the potential of making somebody eat anything to survive. But there's no excuse for that in Canada, yet. Let's get moo-ving on mad cows.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Who's Sorry Now?

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry. Won't you please accept my apo-lo-gee-ee?"

The dulcet tones of Brenda Lee wouldn't be lost on Little Stevie Harper who rounded-off his parliamentary year by apologizing to the native Canadians for all the bad governments, Churches and social agencies that dragged them out of the bush, hundreds and even thousands of miles away from home, to schools where they would lay the groundwork for the lives of drug dependency and social degradation that many of their descendants live to-day.

Almost immediately the chorus of 'not good enough' went up. There are generations who've been scarred by the fact that Granny spent her 'tween age years in the care of nuns and didn't get a chance to run off to 'live' in the big smoke. Them generations are going to need some compensation for their 'trauma'. And that's what's wrong with a government apologizing - somebody's right behind with the chequebook.

Frankly I can't perceive of a lot being wrong with what happened - for the alternative was something worse. There may have been some aboriginal parents who wanted, and were able to keep the kids in the native ways, but most saw the opportunity to move their kids 'ahead'(or even just away) and took it. This was the best that they could get. Indeed if it hadn't been for that experience there would still be a dearth of Indian teachers to-day. Many schools on reservations are no longer staffed by non-native teachers - they have their own - some of whom learned in residential schools. A recent news report noted that the average age of speakers of aboriginal languages is 60 - the majority of whom who were 'abused' and forbidden to speak it, in the residential schools. The non-abused youth of to-day, I imagine, have been traumatized into not bothering to learn.

Residential schools may not have been the optimal situation but they were 'free', and generally well-staffed. The children had good nutrition and health care that might not have been available 'at home'; they were warm, and clean and had something to do. None died of abuse or neglect. There may have been abuses, but no more than are found on every reservation to-day and, probably, then as well.

The problem with starting apologies is figuring out where to stop. So far the Chinese have been 'restituted' for the poll tax applied to their sires. The natives have received at least two apologies now. How about the Acadians? Or the Irish, aren't they due one? The Ukrainians are 'in line' for one, as are Austro Hungarians interned during the Great war, and Japanese moved during the Second. What about a slew of DP's and refugees 'forced' to not live in the urban areas of Canada and consigned to the 'sticks', don't they deserve some largesse along with the 'sorry'?

The Natives were even extending their own apologies to the Japanese for living near, and working in the uranium mines from which the A bombs were made. Does that mean an official government apology for being allied to the American bombers could be far behind?

Ultimately there will have to be a hearty 'I'm sooo sorry', accompanied by a nominal federal cheque, to all Canadians especially the hyphenated kind who chipped in for the 'sins' we had no hand in, of forefathers to who we had no relation. But by that time 'we Canadians' should have 'screwed somebody else over' and we'll be able to begin again.

Right now we're working up a future apology to the Afghans. On the other hand I don't think any country on earth has had to apologize for invading another one, so we might be 'good' there. On third thought, Canadians have a penchant for apologies that harder-nosed nations don't have, so.....