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Scots wha’ Hae

Gordon Brown. Photo from Wikipedia.

Gordon Brown. Photo from Wikipedia.

Like millions of Canadians, I consider myself a Scot.

Notwithstanding the fact that my maternal grandfather, last name Leigh, came from a distinguished English family – his grandfather was an editor of Punch magazine and has his name carved on the famous table – I tended to go with his wife, my Gram, who was Jane Macdonald (small “d” please) from Cape Breton Island. Her family descended from the Clearances and never lost their Scottishness. Gram spoke Gaelic at an early age and went to her grave still angry at the Campbells for the massacre of the Macdonalds at Glencoe in 1692.

The Mairs come from Banffshire via New Zealand where they had gone in the early 1800s, my branch coming to Vancouver in 1913.

I watched the Scottish referendum with considerable interest. I have visited Scotland often and have spent many an hour tromping over the Western Highlands with a fly rod in hand. I love the country and every part of it. I have visited the Outer and the Inner Hebrides; I have visited Orkney and Shetland; I have wandered the Lowlands and I’ve spent considerable time playing golf at their famous courses. Continue Reading »

Vince Ready photo by CBC.

Vince Ready. photo by CBC.

Who is this cat Vince Ready, anyway? He seems to drift in and out of labor disputes, like the magic fairy, touching things with his wand and all is well!

Don’t get me wrong. I have enormous admiration for Mr. Ready. For many years he has been a positive factor in labor disputes and obviously has the confidence of both labor and management.

It was interesting to watch his involvement in the teachers strike. Now he was here, now he wasn’t. When it didn’t seem to be an appropriate moment – and it was his decision – he withdrew from the scene. When it was right he reappeared and the matter got settled. Continue Reading »

BC Premier Christy Clark dons Canucks jersey during 2013 election campaign (Andy Clark / Reuters)

BC Premier Christy Clark dons Canucks jersey during 2013 election campaign (Andy Clark / Reuters)

Nowhere in the appalling record of the Liberal government in Victoria has its shortcomings been more obvious than at the very top. Premier Christy Clark has been a terrible leader whose pronouncements get more and more embarrassing as time passes.

However, she so dominates the government that one is hard-pressed to think of even the names of her cabinet ministers, which doesn’t say much for their abilities or courage to speak out on issues.

Tsilhqot’in move merited praise…BUT the proof is in the pudding

I recently applauded Premier Clark for making formal contact with the Tsilhquot’in First Nation. I did this because she was right to do so. What she has said since makes me wonder if she really understood what she was supposed to be doing. That she understands the obvious politics in what she has done is clear but there is no evidence that she and her government comprehend what must now be a clear policy. We wait and see with hope, if not much confidence. Read full article at The Common Sense Canadian

Brian Mulroney in 1993: Almost wiped out the Tories.

Brian Mulroney in 1993: Almost wiped out the Tories.

And ruminations on the federal election we must soon endure.

This is about the federal election and our province, but first…

One almost hates to pay any attention to the man. Brian Mulroney, a certified fudger of facts to his own advantage, has now taken on almost everybody within his range.

God knows I have no love for Prime Minister Stephen Harper. I wouldn’t support him for Lions Bay dogcatcher. But Brian Mulroney really is the last person who should be critical.

Let’s deal quickly with Mulroney’s castigation of the late Pierre Trudeau. Cabinet minutes from 1990 unearthed in March show he blamed Trudeau for the failure of the 1987 Meech Lake accord, Mulroney’s attempt to get Quebec on board the Constitution by recognizing it as “a distinct society.” Blaming Trudeau for the flop is, of course, arrant nonsense. Read full article at The Tyee

The void

Chris Young of the Yankees after walk-off home run vs. the Rays.

Chris Young of the Yankees after walk-off home run vs. the Rays.

Uncle Rafe’s first sports analysis 2014–15, or, what to do during the “void”.

The “Void” is that time between the end of the World Series and the beginning of spring training. For me, a shut-in, the question arises as to what I shall do during that period.

The options, of course, are many. Most would likely suggest watching hockey and there will be support for basketball. Football of course runs right through this, if you like the NFL and most people do.

Golf is still there although not in great abundance until the spring and there is always soccer somewhere and from time to time some rugby. And, of course, basketball.

First, before I outline my options, let me tell you about my undying love
for baseball. Continue Reading »

We won! I think

A vacant teacher's desk is pictured at the front of a empty classroom is pictured at Magee Secondary school in Vancouver. Photo by Jonathan Hayward, CP

A vacant teacher’s desk is pictured at the front of a empty classroom is pictured at Magee Secondary school in Vancouver. Photo by Jonathan Hayward, CP

The government has won the teacher strike.

I use the word “won” advisedly because this is an ongoing struggle which is a long way from over. What they have won is this particular battle.

Why do I say this?

The teachers are now backed into a corner. There is no face-saving way out. The government has simply said they will not budge and they will not consent to any sort of arbitration.

This leaves only one road out. Legislation which will come ere long. Continue Reading »

A nest of adders

B.C. Teachers Federation president Jim Iker (left) speaks to teachers during a work stoppage by teachers outside Charles Dickens Elementary in Vancouver on May 26, 2014. Photo by Wayne Leidenfrost, PNG

B.C. Teachers Federation president Jim Iker (left) speaks to teachers during a work stoppage by teachers outside Charles Dickens Elementary in Vancouver on May 26, 2014. Photo by Wayne Leidenfrost, PNG

I have not commented on the teacher’s strike for the very good reason that I can’t think of much to say. To start with I have no children or grandchildren in the system. They’re all too old for that now. I did, however, have a special needs grandson who went through the school system complete with teacher’s aides. I do know something about the system from that point of view.

The history of teacher negotiations in the province of British Columbia is a long, sad one. It all started. you might remember, with teachers negotiating with individual school boards. This led to a process known as “whipsawing” where the teachers would use a settlement with one school district to bludgeon the next one down the line.

One must be very careful here not to allow prejudices to seep in and there are lots of prejudices for both sides of this ever increasing and ever useless debate. Continue Reading »

Above responsibility? Premier Christy Clark flies over Mount Polley tailings pond catastrophe. Source: Facebook.

Above responsibility? Premier Christy Clark flies over Mount Polley tailings pond catastrophe. Source: Facebook.

Mount Polley panel picked to be expert in engineering, not legal, technicalities.

The blue ribbon panel team set up by the provincial government to investigate the Mount Polley mine disaster will find out what caused the tailings pond dam to collapse.

The second and critically important question, however, is what, if any, role the government of British Columbia played or should have played. In fact, this is the most important aspect, because B.C. had a longstanding legal, not to mention moral, duty which it appears from all the evidence was not fulfilled — and which, if fulfilled, may well have stopped the catastrophe from happening in the first place. Read full article at The Tyee

Nothing to lose

gavelI am going to try to provide a public service – one I have been concerned about for many years. It concerns the law of defamation.

Athana Mentzelopoulos, Deputy Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training with the Provincial Government has sued Rob Fleming, NDP, MLA for making false and malicious statements about her salary, and alleged pay raise, and her friendship with Premier Christy Clark.

(I will – I hope she doesn’t mind – call her Ms. M.)

I must tell you that I don’t know either party. I don’t believe that I have met Ms. M. and while I probably have met Mr. Fleming, I couldn’t pick him out of a crowd.

I have absolutely zero interest in the merits, if any, of the case and don’t intend to get into them other than tangentially. Continue Reading »

Ass well and truly covered

Photo courtesy of Cariboo Regional District

Photo courtesy of Cariboo Regional District

The announcement about the inquiry into the Mount Polley Dam disaster is outrageous!

As a matter of fact I find it hard to write this article because I simply can’t believe the dishonesty of the minister Bill Bennett and the minister Mary Pollock.

By careful but not very clever design, this inquiry from the outset exonerates Mr. Bennett’s and Ms. Pollock’s ministries. When you look through the 14 recommendations there is one that faintly suggests that the commissioners might want to look at the regulatory regime surrounding this disaster. There is no mandate to do so and it is not any more than a casual comment. Moreover, None of the commissioners have any expertise to look at this aspect of the matter. Continue Reading »

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