Archive | May 2014

Something ought to be done about unscrupulous Tory fund-raising

I have to admit I feel sorry for Conservative supporters at the other end of yet another plea from Tory bagmen to donate more of their hard earned cash.

They are relentless, those Tory fundraisers, going after a base that, to be charitable, is easily led along the mulberry path.

Other than contributors with bank accounts flush with millions of dollars most Tory donors are lucky to earn six figure incomes. Many, I would venture, earn even less.

Those are the ones who are are most vulnerable to aggressive fund-raising strategies.
Many supporters likely believe the threat of global warming is vastly exaggerated by thousands of egghead scientists, left-leaning Opposition parties and, of course, the CBC. Party organizers, it would appear, are only too happy to allow thousands of hapless donors to continue in their delusional thinking.

Really, would any rational person donate to a party led by a prime minister who handpicked dozens of senators and other appointees who turned out to be, shall we say, less than stellar performers? Or a party that took a chainsaw to environmental and safety regulations, that threw physically and emotionally damaged soldiers to the curb when eight veterans affairs offices were closed across the country, that hurt hundreds of thousands of low income families by slashing Employment Insurance benefits and coverage, that tried to rig the Supreme Court nomination process to elect lesser qualified candidates, that passed legislation that will inevitably depress voter turnout to their advantage and also rammed through massive omnibus bills with little or no consultation.

Would a person of sound mind support a secretive, authoritarian government that believes proroguing parliament serves a useful purpose and also thinks punishing criminals is more important than rehabilitating them? Would they support a government that has run the country’s finances into the ground, ringing up a string of record smashing deficits?

It wouldn’t be that much of a stretch to compare Tory fundraisers to money-grubbing televangelists, sending personal letters or emails that promise salvation for a just a few hundred dollars. In return true believers might receive a ‘Christ on a rope’ trinket or an ownership share in a congregation manse in Louisiana.

Please leave the poor souls alone. They have much better uses for their money. Why not let them spend the cash where it could do some good – to provide homes for abandoned pets or maybe feed starving children in developing countries.

Please, please, get your millions of dollars to launch attack ads at Justin and Thomas from supporters who can afford the money – perhaps corporations who have been the beneficiaries of generous tax cuts and subsidies for nearly a decade.

Leave those poor souls who can’t distinguish reality from fantasy alone.

It’s my view that anyone considering writing a cheque to the Conservative Party of Canada desperately needs an intervention. If they keep writing cheques perhaps their responsible children and other family members should be given power of attorney to control their finances.

Someone’s got to protect them from themselves.





Appin Road hike

Appin Road hike

Close to 20 members of the Charlottetown walking club Trails 4 All, despite threatening skies, managed to stay dry during a two hour hike along the Appin Road trail on May 23.

This cliche deserves to be retired

Wish sports pundits and many fans would quit saying losing Stanley Cup playoff hockey teams are heading to the golf course as if it’s a bad thing. What incentive is there for players to keep playing? I imagine many hard-working Canadians wouldn’t mind being exiled to a golf resort for two months. Question: would you rather have your brains bashed in during a hockey game or shank a drive from the tee?

Smoking can be lethal for trout

Every spring when I head to my North Granville and New Glasgow fishing haunts I find unmistakeable proof so-called “slob anglers” had been there first. Foam coffee cups, half-filled worm containers, smashed beer bottles, ketchup smeared fast food wrappers, snarled lengths of fishing line with dangling hooks and, of course, mounds of cigarette butts.

Although less than a quarter of the population smokes if visitors to trout streams only went by the evidence before their eyes they might be inclined to believe the statistic was actually reversed.

Of course all those discarded items are bad for the environment and for the health of wildlife.

For instance, unwary birds can become snarled in coils of fishing line, which can tighten like a garotte, choking the very breath out of them. I did actually see a dead robin wrapped from beak to foot in fishing line, displayed to me by a fellow angler who was very distressed at his discovery. I was a reporter for an Island newspaper and the two of us managed to get the grisly image on the paper’s front page.

But as bad as that was I’m convinced nothing beats cigarette butts for the lethal damage they cause and not just because fish will get lung cancer. It’s because butts can be ingested so easily by hungry trout lunging at something fluttering enticingly to the bottom.

Once swallowed, they get stuck in the fish’s throat or gut, causing a slow, agonizing death.

At one fishing hole recently I found about half a dozen foam coffee cups, a six pack of smashed beer bottles and a half empty bait container. The total for cigarette butts? Easily 50 or more.

Either an entire busload of nicotine drenched anglers descended on this one hole or there were a couple of chain smokers who lit up like chimneys.

Think I’m exaggerating about the threat posed by carelessly tossed butts? Doing some basic Internet searches I found a number of articles quoting anglers who had actually caught trout by attaching a butt to a hook.

Not so long ago I talked to someone in the provincial conservation department who warned anglers not to toss butts into fishing holes precisely because of the threat those butts posed to trout populations. And don’t forget, even butts discarded days, weeks or months earlier can still leak minute amounts of nicotine and other toxic chemicals into the water.

It’s really sad that every spring, on the first day of trout season, I find yet more examples of someone using the Great Outdoors as a giant astray.

We’ve managed to ban smokers from hospitals and most public institutions, places of business and even many homes.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could do the same, some day, for the Great Outdoors.


The bugs are out

The bugs are out

Swarms of blackflies swirled around hapless members of a Charlottetown walking club during a two hour hike along a trail in Fort Augustus on Saturday, May 17. Two members donned mesh headgear to thwart the clouds of blood-sucking insects.

Let CBC Radio survive

It’s sad to see CBC TV in a death spiral, thanks in no small measure to the Harper government’s massive funding cuts. However, would it be too much to ask for the public broadcaster’s brass to spare CBC Radio, which offers a wonderful lineup of truly world class programs such as The House, The Current, Under the Influence, Q and many others – programming which is far superior to the crap which passes for content on commercial radio.

Visiting Fort Amherst park

Visiting Fort Amherst park

Members of the Trails 4 All Charlottetown walking club paid a recent visit to the Fort Amherst Historic Site in eastern PEI. Even on a dreary, overcast day the scenery was spectacular.