Wednesday, July 17, 2013

PMO staffer Nick Koolsbergen tells tory cabinet ministers who to hate, what time to have a nap and when it's their turn on the swing set.

I could not make this up and neither did my friend Josh Wingrove, the Globe and Mail Ottawa correspondent. 
An under-underling in the PMO called Nick Koolsbergen does exactly what he is told and sends out a list of people the new cabinet ministers are supposed to hate.
I find it remarkable that the PMO has learned nothing in the recent past, hopeful I suppose that the names of the fat white people who  were kicked out of the Senate, or the svelt MP from St. Albert who told them to take a hike will be forgotten before the next election.
Koolsbergen is so inconsequential he has a total of 345 followers on Twitter,  less than my dog.
Clearly he is not the mastermind behind this latest attempt to control cabinet ministers, indeed the fact he signed the memo tells me all I need to know about his ability to mastermind anything, this is just another poli-sci grad who will go to any length to avoid getting a job that involves real work. I would guess his other job on this file  was to punch the holes in the pages of the binder.
All of this underscores, yet again,  just how hopeless and ridiculous the entire PMO debacle has become.
I, as MLA long admired the utter lack of cooperation from the Mandarin class of senior civil servants. Their favorite concept:  legislation by regulation is nothing more than the Mandarin class structuring laws in such a way that they can be changed at will without legislative or public scrutiny.
Classic "Yes Minister" stuff.
Nick, like lots of  cannon fodder before him, wants to get in the Mandarin class meal line, he thinks he can lead others by doing what he is told, but in reality the only this thing kid knows how to do is WHAT he is told. The question now simply remains as to who told him.
We could ask the cabinet ministers  but they will likely quote Carl Vallee the spokesman on the file who said:
 "We don't comment on internal communications, we are collaborating with our Ministers, especially new Ministers, to ensure they are fully briefed so they can continue their work on behalf of Canadian taxpayers"   
Well thank God someone is.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

I generally go to great lengths to disagree with MLA Rob Anderson, but today I find no option but to agree.

The flooding in High River and area is tragic, people losing their homes and their possessions can be considered nothing but.  You can blame global warming for the flood or the government for letting people build on flood plains, you can blame the developer, the contractor or the insurance company but in the end, the tragic reality is: people are encouraged to make decisions about things they know very little about and trust that the consequences of their decisions will be positive and if not, at least covered by insurance.

To build a house, on the side of a hill, a flood plain or beside a transportation utility corridor often brings with it unpleasant surprises like, slides, floods or 500 KVA power lines.  Some of these things are inconveniences, but  landslides or flood can be major personal disasters.

Now we as society, are quick to protect everyone from everything and in the case of those who made bad, (hindsight) decisions thought must always be given to the ability of the state to help. Protection of life always preempts property, but once life is protected, even if it means the RCMP breaking into houses to keep the guns from doing harm, the debate of how to restore one to their former state is tricky.

Rob said, he did not think the province should replace the half million dollar houses that people lost, and while he said this about people living in his bosses constituency and not his own, I can assume the same sentiment would apply in Airdrie and frankly, I agree.

I go to great lengths to avoid owning property in locations subject to landslides, flood plains or new housing subdivisions  because I am blessed with knowing a thing or two about construction and I see no point in building a house that is going to float away, fall away or burn down just because the neighbor has a BBQ.
Basically I do not like people enough to live in a new subdivision, they are just too close, consequently I have never lost a home or a friend to some natural disaster or observing some aberrant personal behavior.

But not many people know the things I know about housing, granite counter tops seems to take precedence over proper functioning sumps and landscape grading. Even Mike Holmes, will tell you about these things in a way  soccer Mom's who enjoy carpenter beefcake will appreciate.

But  people buy based on emotion and not through study and expertise and with this comes the challenge of how much protection can we afford the average citizen? Should we, as a society underwrite the risks people are subject too, foreseeable or not?

Questions arise:
  • Is it acceptable to build on a 200 year flood plain, knowing that water  might not wait 200 years to flood you out?
  • Should the developer be required to disclose, along with the municipality, the existence of the flood plain to the purchaser?
  • Should the title to the property not indicate known geological, lithological, aquatic or pre-existing land use issues.
  • Should those, who chose to buy in high risk locations be required, as part of the lenders due diligence, to maintain insurance coverage specific to the risk  as a specific peril?
  • What do home inspectors actually do anyway?
Now Rob is, of course, trying to distance his party from being responsible for the floods despite the fact, climate change is occurring and they won't admit that the human race is the greatest catastrophe to occur on the planet since the beginning of time.  However the folks who most strongly support such views are apt to not vote for Rob even if they live in a mud hut in Airdrie. 
There are, of course, no mud huts in Airdrie, the closest thing they have is the basement suite I used to occupy, occasionally.  I certainly do not think the human race is bad for the planet, we are the only reason beavers are not number one at ecosystem modification and as the superior species, the Alpha as it were, we can damn well do what we want with the place because if we stop, Mother Earth is going to undo all our good work in about ten years anyway.
Rob is correct, we need not provide full restitution to those harmed in the floods, it is not societies responsibility to restore everyone to the way they were before the incident, but it is our responsibility to offer reasonable advance awareness to people who build homes on the side of hills, flood plains, flight paths or TUC's. 
Ugly precedents to the contrary have been set in Edmonton when the city lost the law suit holding them responsible for the sloughing of the river bank and had to buy some houses that were on their way to the Hudson bay, but that had more to do with who owned the houses than real civic liability.
In High River, some will be ok, others will not, there is no magic dredging solution to maintain the idyllic frontage views of the river, flood plains are unsafe, period. 
It's the same property rights argument we get all the time, but in this case I do feel sympathy for those who bought granite counter top and sump pump equipped houses on the flood plain. To avoid repeating this issue we must create awareness of the need for personal loss mitigation combined with full disclosure from the authorities having jurisdiction of the inherit risks.
We can't replace every one's house, stand your ground on this issue Rob, but follow it up with some strategies to mitigate future repeats, work with the government on this next step, you'll look like a real hero.


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Welcome to my new blog, necessary because I deleted my old one accidentially

Damn it all to hell:  I was up to 11,000 hits on my old blog and now it is toast, gone to the place where binary code goes to die.  I  have no idea how this happened, one minute I updated my email because isn't valid anymore and the next thing I know, no blog.

I feel somewhat safe knowing it is out there in the ionosphere someplace but it's still irritating and likely I can hire the skills necessary to recover it, or not.
My last blog was about the funny things Catholics do and while  a departure from my normal political rants it was, none the less quite popular. 
This week it's just about questions:
  • How could a guy as old as Vic Toews have a kid in Kindergarten? 
    • I have a grandson starting kindergarten, he's what 75?
  • Where did the senate scandal go?
    • Are the Feds now so transparent they just made it disappear?
  • Why was Justin Trudeau at a PC pancake breakfast?
    • Did he being maple syrup or that too regionalist of me?
  • What did Gil McGowan blow when he got his impaired driving charge?
    • I said "what".
  • How did the Friends of Medicare find a new Executive Director with exactly the same voice as the old one?
    • I understand though, unconfirmed, that the gender is different.
  • Does the CBC really think it's a good idea to stop shipping oil by anything that might spill or catch fire?
    • Horse back in a leather pouch perhaps?
  • Was anyone surprised that Stephen Mandell's trailer park is NOT in Terwillegar and that he blamed the county for bad drainage?
    • Who would he have blamed if it had been in Edmonton, or does it really surprise anyone to learn he owns a trailer park?
  • Is flying photo radar really that far from the provincial consciousness?
    • After all those communities that use photo radar report significant revenue increases without the associated costs of enforcement.
  • Could you build a house in less time than it takes Kim Kardashian to wreck a home?
    • Who the hell is Kim Kardashian anyway?
And on it goes, as you can see each of these questions deserves a good answer. That probably isn't going to happen.
My time hanging out on Courtney Love's tour bus:
I confess, up front to not knowing  who Courtney Love is but since it's her 49th birthday today  I thought I would  describe, from personal experience,  the conditions in which she travelled.
Many years ago, I was east bound on the Trans Canada highway at Strathmore,(yet another town that successfully lobbied NOT to be bypassed so they can have lots of photo radar revenue like St. Albert and Whitecourt) when a small car left the road and hit  an exposed culvert sustaining terminal damage, fortunately the occupants were reasonably ok.
As we were waiting for the various emergency service providers to respond, an east-bound tour bus,  stopped and two women got out.
One apparently was Courtney Love.
Rather than hear her say things like, "this wreck is rad" or "How'd it feel to wrestle with death" she simply and quite graciously simply invited us into the bus and proceeded to make tea.

The bus itself was quite ordinary, no giant bongs or gymnastic equipment bolted to the ceiling, it was by all appearances a pretty nice place to wile away the hours between gigs.
After the police and tow truck  left, I agreed to take the people in the damaged car  to Brooks, their destination, this minor gesture, was apparently an act of kindness not common in the Love household, where people were more apt to shoot themselves, and Courtney offered me tickets to her show in Calgary;  Edge-Fest I believe it was called. 

Regrettably I declined as I knew I had to mow the lawn that night.
Upon telling my teenage daughter that I had met someone named Courtney Love and declined the aforementioned concert tickets, I suddenly went from good dad to very bad Dad as these tickets and their back stage passes would have been a status symbol with considerable stroke amongst her peers. 
I have never listened to the band HOLE and doubt I ever will, but the concert persona and the persona of the lady who made tea on the bus were not the same.  I did not ask her about Kurt because, to this day I have no idea who he is. Since then however he has earned  my undying respect that like the pig vs. the chicken, Kurt and the pig were committed to their music and breakfast respectively,  whereas  chickens and punk rockers who only threaten to kill themselves, merely participate.
Bravo Kurt, I just wish you could inspire some rappers.