February 25th 2003
Canadians are crazy!
Or so well indoctrinated they don't know the difference.
How else do you explain that the Prime Minister is in his THIRD term of office seemingly hell bent on his need to bankrupt the country as some form of legacy when he at last decides to shuffle off into the sunset.
One time I am sure when the depiction will be a sad old figure hunched over a malnourished, bleeding Donkey. Wearing a black hat! With the village all heaving a sigh of relief and cheering.
What's left of the pillaged village that is. Not a wet eye among them!
Well maybe amongst the left wing loonies. And the friends, relatives and other benefactors from the largesse dispensed at the taxpayers expense. Not to forget golf course owners. Or all the Quebecois at the end of the Government money fountain. And every `cultural organization” dependant on feel good grants. And all the refugees living of the fat of the land while the beaurocracy loses their papers conveniently.
Hmmm. Maybe I can see why he has been in power so long! Between voter ignorance and corporate self-indulgence what else would he need?
A bloated beaurocracy staffed with incompetents who rely on taxpayers money to pay their over inflated salaries helps as well I suppose.
As a South African I am fully aware and understand how a huge beaurocracy never bites the hand that feeds it. Successive, and very different, Governments and political parties there have proven this.
So Canada is no different.
Which is why I think Chretien's latest bit of tax theft legislation will probably be passed in the circus that masquerades as parliament.
Over the last few years there have been quite a few scandals surrounding the Liberals and their cavalier treatment of the taxpayers' money. Chretien himself being in the middle of one such scandal. Which is why couching this latest effort as being done to force openness in the electoral process is particularly insulting.
You see, what Chretien is proposing is that a ban is instituted that would stop “corporations, unions and associations from making contributions to any party or leadership contestant”.
Instead taxpayers will be forking out the money to help these imbeciles to get elected.
The intention is that the Government will pay out to political parties a certain amount to help them run political campaigns.
Over the four year governing or electoral cycle that will be in the region of $150 million! In any election the costs are projected to be in the region of $80 million!
All of which will come from the taxpayer as opposed to any of the normal backhands currently being collected from “interested” parties.
Equally as annoying is that even if you don't support a particular party there is no way to stop your money being used.
Considering that this is also supposed to be on a “proportional representation” basis guess which bunch of fat cats will get to put their snouts deep in the trough again! Ah yes the Liberals favourite pastime. Stealing taxpayers' money!
The most interesting part of this stupidity has been the reason for Chretien originally looking at this plan.
It isn't actually part of his legacy. Well if you consider screwing the country as a result of his attempts to stop Paul Martin from succeeding him as PM, then perhaps it is! You see Martin has a huge, and I mean HUGE, slush fund for his attempts to succeed Chretien. Almost all of it donated by “interested parties” and most of whom remain nameless. This isn't anything new by the way. Chretien himself being a master at the same obfuscation when it comes to naming backers and others. But Martin is a naughty boy and so Herr Dictator Chretien is doing everything to upset his campaign.
It annoys me, and, judging by the outcry, a large proportion of the country that this cash grab is so blatant. And so unfair.
I don't want any of my money going to the Liberals, the NDP or the Blochead Quebecois! Simple and easy as that. Mind you I don't want any of my money going to the Tory's or Alliance either for that matter which leaves no one.
Which is as it should be. Let the damn politicians pay themselves for a change.
Especially in the local Provincial Government as well.
Some time back the Provincial Liberals decided to start a smear campaign against the Tories about their high living tactics. Considering how their own Federal Party was acting this was a bit of a cheek but all fair in love and war right?
Well this was an interesting case of the biter being bit!
Dalton McGuinty the Provincial Liberal leader has just started a TV campaign (there's a Provincial election coming up) about fiscal responsibility and “ better value for taxpayers money” amongst others.
Oddly enough the original Liberal pit bull sent out to attack the Tories was suddenly revealed as a bit of a money grubbing oink herself. No doubt why we have heard little from her for a while. Then just as the Liberal ad was in full swing out came a few facts about our Daltons own respect for the taxpayer.
Seems that in true Liberal spirit dear Dalton not only upgraded all his flights to first calls but that the taxpayers were paying him to drink lots of Orange juice. Even more impressive was stiffing the taxpayer by getting them to pay for trips to America to have consultants improve his image!
Hello Canadian taxpayer. See how I spend your dollars overseas to get advice on how to pull the wool over your eyes. Anything Chretien van do I can do as well. Not better! Because Chretien is really a master at screwing the electorate.
Considering that the latest budget was designed purely to trip up Martin as his successor next year, a vengeful nasty little person as well!
Which will be his true lasting legacy.
February 18th 2003
My dearly beloved Daughter has suddenly got a bee in her bonnet about archery.
I don't know why.
Probably watching too many Hollywood epics on cable! Or the History Channels' documentary on Amazon Warriors for all I know.
So with some judicious questioning, the Internet and some phone calls, she managed to find out where the nearest Archery Club and Store's were. Neither of them being remotely close to each other. Nor for that matter remotely close to Oakville either!
Like any good Daughter who knows how to manipulate their fathers, she used the quite reasonable, and logical, explanation that I liked to travel and visit new places, to get me to act as her chauffer for the day.
Which of course was a Saturday and, as per usual, it was snowing! I would have preferred it to have been summer as driving along the 401 during whiteouts and in freezing temperatures is not my idea of fun.
What did strike me was how close the local ski runs were. Just past Milton and near Guelph were two ski slopes that seem well patronised. Probably at most a fifteen-minute drive from Oakville. Ski lifts in operation and huge inner tires bouncing down the escarpment.
In summer you can't see all this area because of the trees alongside the roads but here in winter we could assess the slopes while traveling past. My daughter having been to the one outside Milton a few times tells me that they are immensely good fun. So we will have to make the obligatory trek out there one day!
At Cambridge we decided to visit the local visitors centre to get information as to where we were going.
The wonderful thing about Canada is all these visitors' buildings near highways that pass out free information to all and sundry about the local town or area! With a smile nogal!! So we collected all the maps we could and discovered that we were only one off ramp away from the main road to Kitchener and Waterloo.
Which went over a very iced up Grand River again. The same Grand River from the Six Nations area way down south. I am told that you can canoe along the Grand for miles in summer. As a Tugela River white water survivor this seems like a reasonable option.
If you look at a map of Ontario you will notice that Cambridge, Kitchener and Waterloo seem to melt into each other. They also look like very big cities as well.
Which oddly enough was not my perception as we drove through. In fact Kitchener seemed smaller than Waterloo!
This will probably start a war amongst those of you who live in those cities respectively and I am reliably informed that Kitchener is bigger but it sure didn't look like it. And incidentally Waterloo for some reason has two Universities! Why two I will never know, but you do get the feeling as you drive around that it is a student's town. Fast food places everywhere!
There were at least three in the main street. In fact we went into the one to ask for directions and were amazed to discover that not only was it open on a Saturday afternoon but that there was no one there to talk to us. No one seemed to even care that the store wasn't being manned either. I would have loved to wander around and tried to track down the errant owners but they were probably sampling some of the wares and we had to find the archery store. So we left, banging the door as we went out and still no one appeared!
With a short trip to the drug store and one local map later we at last we discovered that we needed to move north on the road toward St Jacobs.
Which we did. Discovering the store at last. Two stories of it. The upper level being given over to a range and millions of bows and ancillary equipment while the lower level was the hunting and fishing area. With enough shotguns and rifles on display to give most of the politically correct a massive heart attack. And add another five billion to the registry fiasco the Government is currently embroiled in.
I don't know why but I like camouflage equipment. I was positively drooling at all the clothes there. From boots and waders to, well, everything needed to blend into the countryside.
This time I was dragged out for a change. My daughter having shelled out some heavy-duty dollars for the full Robin Hood ensemble, she now wanted to toddle while I was still salivating inside.
Ah well. The 649 beckons again!
Because we were near St. Jacobs we decided to take a look at the Farmers Market out there. It has quite a good reputation, especially in the summer months, when people flock from all over to buy food and other goods.
Just off the 85N at the corner of Weber and King Streets there is a whole area composed of different buildings housing a Factory outlet mall, the Farmers Market, a Winery and Cidery (I love that term!) and fro some odd reason the Waterloo farmers market across the road as well!
It was icy cold and snowing so there were only a few hardy farmer types outside. Selling mainly cider I noted. Not the alcoholic variety either, although that was sorely needed.
Inside the building though it was humming. Masses of little stalls selling everything from foods to curios and most of them staffed by Mennonites.
In their traditional outfits.
Think Blourokkies in Brown and black and you have a rough idea of what the women looked like.
Except for one important difference. The majority of the women there were smiling and happy. What a refreshing difference to Toronto women who, while not having the same dress sense as the Blourokkies, have at least adopted the thin, pursed-lipped, unhappy demeanor.
Unfortunately we arrived a little late as the Market closes around 15h30. So it was only a quick tour but I have at last found someone who makes a decent jerky! Not to mention, and much to the disgust of assorted family members, pickled eggs! Which of course means a few more trips during the summer months when the harvest is in and the fruit is bountiful for a change.
And of course when it is warmer.
Having also discovered that there are numerous Scottish Gatherings in the vicinity as well I can see quite a few trips in the months to come.
I am also thinking more and more that moving out to areas far and away from Toronto looks ever so inviting!
Must be getting old.
Now I have to point out to the Amazon Archer that removing the left breast, while practical, is not necessary until such time as the tribe is officially at war.
February 5th 2003
I am one of those people who likes to find different ways to get there. And back!
This is not as a result of my being male with the concomitant inability to ask directions either. Give me a map and I am more than happy to toddle off down Route66 rather than stick to the tried and true, and probably much quicker, 401 or QEW highways with all the other lemmings.
Which is why I have seen so much of South Africa and which will mean that as years go by I will see so much of Canada.
Anyway, having dropped my Son off at Brock University down in St. Catherines, I decided to hang a left instead of the normal right on the Welland Canal highway.
Which is why after a few turns I found myself driving down route 63, or 27, or 65, in the middle of nowhere and vaguely heading west.
As an aside I am happy to report thought that I have at last found where the “working” barns of Canada are. Huge big barns. New barns. Almost all of them painted either Red or Blue for some reason. So the mystery now is to find out why these two colours predominate? Was there a special on paint at Canadian Tire? Are the local birds colour blind? The local Farmers?
The Farmers daughters that I mentioned earlier are probably best left up to my son's though!
At some stage in the proceedings and midway between Brock and Brantford I followed the wrong curve in the road. One of those fortuitous decisions that you make every so often.
As a result of which I suddenly found myself on the Grand River at Caledonia and right on the Six Nations Reserve Border. As borders go by the way. Blink and you are in the reservation. Blink and you are out. On that side of the river anyway.
It was cold. It was wet. It was late and a Sunday. So I made a mental note of where I was, double checked the map to get accuracy and then headed off home.
Where my arrival three hours late didn't raise an eyebrow. Which probably means I am becoming predictable in my unpredictability.
It did mean however that I now know exactly how to get to the Six Nations Reserve and that means that an actual visit would be necessary in the near future.
This being winter I always choose the coldest or snowiest days to go sightseeing! Never fails! Although this day had the added attraction of high winds as well.
Which is fine, except if you drive a minivan over the Burlington Skybridge near Hamilton. Designed to accommodate ocean-going freighters passing underneath on their way to Hamilton harbour, this is a huge and high parabola bridge that is wide open to the elements. When the winds blow the traffic on the bridge does the sideways shuffle. Many in unison, but, every so often, not.
By the way, and as another aside here, if you download the correct scenery for Flight Simulator you can fly over and under the bridge! Probably not recommended post 911 but good fun nevertheless.
So after a bit of unintended sightseeing on the outskirts of Stoney Creek and Hamilton we managed to get on to Highway 6 and head south toward Caledonia and the main part of the Six Nations reserve on the other side of the Grand River.
There was one quick stop along the road. This involved taking photos of a small butcher shop on the side of the road. Those of you who are Terry Pratchett and Discworld fans will recognize the need when I say that this was a shop in the middle of nowhere with a huge sign outside that says “ Sausage in a Bun!” I needed a photo of that but as this is a fairly in-joke I will go no further.
A little further on, straddling both sides and the old main bridge over the river is the little town of Caledonia. Real old world Canadian dorp actually! Except for the ever present MacDonald's and Pizza Pizza, quaint in it's own way as well.
So we passed through and were soon on the outskirts of Six Nations looking for roads to get in. While every road seemed to be an entrance we decided that a paved road was probably a better option. Which we found a mile or so later down the road.
Oddly enough called Six Nations Corner!
So here we were in the reservation looking for all things Indian and seeing…
Well all things Canadian I suppose.
It wasn't any different to virtually any rural area out in Ontario. Except for two very interesting differences.
This is one of the few places I have seen where every house stood on a huge property. Isolated and alone in the middle. Go to any urban area elsewhere in Ontario and you get miles and miles of little boxes so close to each other that you have to diet to slip in between them.
Most of these houses were fairly small as well. I say most because there were some enormous mansions out there! I suppose mostly owned by the local chief or whoever was benefiting from the Governments grants locally. In general however they were mainly bungalows and small.
The other interesting part was how many of them had a little shop attached selling cigarettes!
You couldn't go more than a few yards without another kiosk or even in some cases what looked like part of the house, operating a small store, which only had cigarettes as an item!
This is because Indians don't pay tax. Cigarettes and Gas being the two major areas where the tax gouge is horrendous, these appear to be the main items for sale all over the reserve.
Well that and “souvenirs”!
Just off Tuscarora Road and Fourth Line there is a very good shop called “Iroqrafts”. With masses of stuff that the Indians buy!
And lots and lots of books and art and information. I mean really seriously “lots” of books.
It's the sort of shop that you visit after you have won the lottery. Which I intend to do one day. Ja both of them!
I couldn't resist a “peace pipe” and some “herbal” tobacco.
I am sorry! I mean “Old time herbal smoking mixture - NO tobacco!” as the packet has prominently displayed on it. Intriguingly it does contain Bearberry, Red Willow, Sumac, Lovage bark and may also contain spearmint or peppermint! Now, I don't know about you but I thought Sumac was Poison Ivy! Well at least when my lips swell up big enough to kiss they will be peppermint flavoured. Or spearmint as the case may be!
Should be interesting to test out this little concoction.
At least I hadn't been smoking it when we noticed a kid on a sled being towed along by a skidoo. Which, with the cigarette sellers would have had the nannies so far in a froth that even cappuccino couldn't compete. Of course the kid was having a whale of a time and probably really didn't give a damn about safety helmets and pads and all the other bumf that the nannies demand everyone wears whenever there is the remote possibility of enjoying yourself.
On the way out I noticed that the price of gas to the Band members was about 20c lower than to the rest of us taxpaying jerks. You need a band card to get that price though. Although I am pretty sure that there are ways around this I wasn't really up to finding out how.
I think that a revisit in summer is definitely on the cards. Especially when the Grand River Champion of Champions Pow-Wow takes place. Which is in July or August this year.
I think that there is a wealth of information that I need to start looking into to better understand the whole First Nations history. Something I intend to do over the years.
We are so lucky that so much has been saved in order to do this.
It is almost living history in a way. And quite fascinating!