Sunday, August 28, 2011

Jack Layton, you will be missed.

Canada has lost a good man.

Last Monday I received a text message asking if I had heard of Jack Layton’s passing.  I had not. I mentioned it to the fellow beside me and he replied “That’s too bad.”  I think we were both a bit in shock over the news, after all, Jack Layton had always been a fighter and we just assumed that this latest cancer was just another round and he would bounce back.

We were wrong.

I was not a huge supporter of the NDP or Jack Layton, but I did like the man and the way he did things.  His latest effort, attempting to bring civility to the House of Commons was a tremendous breath of fresh air.  His way of disagreeing without being disagreeable was also a part of Jack Layton that will be missed by me, I hope his Caucus will be able to follow his lead.

Although I never met Jack Layton, I know of people who did.  It seems that he was the ultimate party guest.  When he spoke to someone, they became the most important person in the room.  When he debated, he argued the points, not against the person.  Jack Layton was inclusive, you wanted to be on his side and his main targets like poverty, homelessness and healthcare were a good side to be on.

Something about the passing of Jack Layton bothered me.  I think it is the fact that of the leaders of the Federal Parties in recent memory, he was the only one to go beyond talking points and platform planks to showing the direction he thought we should go, he offered us a vision.  A vision of a fair and just Canada that we would all build together.  A Canada where we would take care of each other.  Not a bad place to live.

Many of us were looking forward to the next session of Parliament, to see how this new Opposition Leader would fare against Stephen Harper and his government.  We can only wonder now.

Some are wondering what kind of Prime Minister Jack Layton would have made.  We will never know.

Before Jack Layton left us, he wrote us all a letter.  Parts of this letter were directed to his Party, and to his Caucus, but more importantly, parts were written to the others fighting cancer, to the youth of Canada, and to all Canadians.

Jack Layton left us with good words. 

He wrote: “My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.”

If you haven’t read the letter, you should. 

The letter can be found here:

The outpouring from Canadians at the loss of Jack Layton has been overwhelming.  People calling the NDP offices to offer condolences, candle light vigils to the filling of Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto with messages written in chalk on every surface that people could reach.

Six days later and people are still sharing their thoughts on web pages throughout the internet.  The love for Jack Layton and what he stands for still resonates all through this land.

I said at the beginning, that we Canadians had lost a good man.  We may have lost a great man, but I will leave that to history to decide.

Two final thoughts.

When Jack Layton walks up to the gates of Heaven, he is asked “What did you do with what you were given?”  His reply, “I did the best I could but I wish I could have done better.”  When St. Peter looks up and recognizes him he says “Please come right in Mr. Layton!” and he replies, “Thank you.  And it’s Jack, just Jack.”

After he passes through the gates, the first person to rush up to him is Tommy Douglas who shakes his hand and says “Well done! Jack my boy! Well Done!”

You will be missed Jack.  Be at peace.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Long Gun Registry and the cpc

Why is it when someone refers to gun owners as criminals, they are always a representative of the cpc?

This is what Bev Shipley says in a letter...

//Today the Opposition Coalition continues to criminalize law abiding farmers, hunters, and sportsman. That is why our government will not rest until the long gun registry is finally scrapped.//

//To all my constituents who supported our efforts let me quote our Prime Minister, Stephen Harper who, following the vote said, “Opposition to the long gun registry has never been stronger, and we have never been closer to abolishing the gun registry and Canadians from the regions will never accept being treated like criminals. We will not rest until we scrap the gun registry once and for all.”//

Bev Shipley is the conservative member for Lambton-Kent-Middlesex.

I know a few gun owners, most belong to clubs and almost all are hunters.  As a rule, they are quite serious about their guns and keep them locked up when not in use and registered because they don’t want to risk losing them.  Some even take pride in the fact that their guns are registered.

One I spoke to bothered me.  He was against the registry and felt that most guns in Canada were not registered and never would be.  He referred to these as 22 plinkers.  They are in cottages and attics all over the country he said.  This is why we need a registry, these are uncontrolled weapons and no one knows how many there are and how they are stored.

He also told be how he and his friend had been out messing around with their rifles.  I’m sure he meant they took them to the range and shot at targets, but his attitude made me wonder about how much does he respect theses weapons.  They weren’t 22s that he was referring to but serious rifles.

He was surprised by the fact that I had shot rifles in the past and had owned a 22 rifle for target shooting.  I have also fired FN C1s in the past, which were the Canadian Forces rifle at the time.

The reason that his attitude bothers me goes back to when I was in high school.  A friend of mine’s brother was shot with a 22 and died.  I attended the funeral.  I remember shaking hands with his mother who would not let go of my hand, or the hand of any of his friends. 

In the end it was determined to be an accident, someone who was shooting missed their target and found him instead.

The gun registry is not about criminalizing people or gun but is about ensuring that those who own and operate firearms do so in a safe and responsible way.  The registry helps to ensure these weapons are stored properly.  The registry helps to ensure that only responsible people can buy these weapons.

Hopefully, the registry can help to prevent needless accidents.

Someone I know mentioned that they were considering taking their son to a local club to learn to shoot.  I think that is a good idea.  They teach safety first.

I am not against guns or gun ownership.  I am against irresponsible people having guns.  There is a difference.

My use of the word "gun" should often be "rifle" but it seems to be the shorthand term for firearms of both kinds and that is how "gun" came to be used.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Nice Hats, Where's the Toilet?

When last we saw our hapless hero, he was hiding in the toilet of Brazil’s Foreign Affairs Minister.  Speculation abounds but it seems he may have been waiting for a new pair of trousers.  And some baby naps.

The reported rant was investigated by our Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird who concluded, from his office in Ottawa, that it was just “tabloid media”.

It does make you wonder about the last toilet emergency that caused Stephen Harper to miss a photo op and cause it to be rescheduled.  Did he not like who he was to stand next to?  Keep in mind this is the same Stephen Harper who twice prorogued Parliament when he didn’t like what was happening there, in effect, picking up the ball and running away because the other kids wouldn’t play his way.  This is the same Stephen Harper who enacted a law to determine when elections were to be called, and then promptly turned around and ignored his own law.

All these things taken together make it look like we did not elect a man capable of representing our interests, but a whiney 12 year old who still holds his breath when he can’t have his way.  Note to Steve, when you are a guest, you follow the host’s lead.  Maybe we should just send a sitter with him.  He seems to get along well with that Baird fellow.

So what did we get from this 4 country tour or Latin America?

Not too much from what I can see.  Brazil was polite, but not much else to report (other than the bathroom thing).  I think they realize we need them far more than they need us.  Costa Rica had some chats, this is a country we have had a Free Trade Pact with since 2002 or so.  Colombia, nothing of import seems to have come from there, other than the Free Trade Pact with them goes into effect this month.  And finally Honduras.  We have a new Free Trade Agreement in the works with them now!

Nice to be pals with Colombia and Honduras, both score poorly on the Human Rights boards.  Both are struggling economically and free trade with Canada will give them... not so much. 

It seems the only thing we got out of this is access to cheap Honduran T-shirts made by people who can only hope of earning enough to be poor, instead of impoverished.

No, it appears all that Steve wants to do is find cheap labour pools to help businesses out and for the rest of us, well we only matter for about 30 days every 4 years.  Unless He decides to hold the election at another time.  That election law, its just a guide line eh?