Your GuelphSpeaks Weekender

Posted September 26, 2015

By Gerry Barker

Inside the thoughts of Pope Francis – Building a wall between Canada and the U. S. – Kathleen Wynne absolves her deputy – U.S. Conservative movement hits the wall – Ontario’s teacher’s half strike

 

 Imagining the Pope’s inner thoughts visiting America

“Hey! Who ordered that Fiat 500 for my visit to America? I can barely get into the thing.

“Man! There are a lot of cops around me. Is something up?

“The President sure has nice kids, the missus is pretty nice too.

“Whew! I could use an Expresso pick-me-up after that scary ride into Washington.

“Speaking of that, is there a bottle of Vermouth in the glove compartment? Just to settle my stomach after that lunch in the White House.

“Mama Mia! All those trumpets blaring away when I arrived at the White House. Good thing I took the hearing aides out.

“Didn’t know I spoke Italian, did you?

“My hands are so sore from all that handshaking. Maybe I should ask Queen Elizabeth her secret to avoid sore hands.

“You know, I’d really like to ride in one of those big Secret Service Chevrolets so I could put my feet up and relax.

“So many masses, gotta take it easy on the sacramental wine.

“Like I said, I don’t like red slippers. A pair of white Nike walkers would be nice. Who do they think I am, Michael Jordan?

“Help me God to learn English and speak it without sounding like Che Guvara.

“Holy Christmas, look at all those big buildings!

“Praise be to those who built St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue.

“Hey, I’m getting a little comfy in the Fiat.

“While I’m in New York, is it possible to get a hot Pastrami on rye with a kosher dill pickle at the Carnegie deli?

“Who are the New York Yankees, a new rock band?

“I saw a billboard about ‘Kinky Boots, the musical’. What’s that all about?

“Lord, save me from those bagpipes, I hear them in my sleep, when I get some time off.

“We’re on our way to Philadelphia. Pilot fly around that Statue of Liberty again, I missed my shot the first time.

“Tonight, I’m soaking my hands and feet in extra virgin olive oil to loosen them up for the two million coming to see me in Philadelphia.

“Ah, Alitalia, my home away from home and with a good supply of single malt scotch.”

“Thank you Lord for another good day, Amen.”

*         *         *         *

Keystone is dead; let’s build a wall between the U.S. and Canada, eh!

Some 41 per cent of Americans said in a Bloomberg poll, this week, that there should be a wall between Canada and the United States. Gee, I didn’t know they were still mad at us about burning down the White House in the War of 1812.

Of the 1,100 Americans polled, 41 per cent said there should be a wall. The greatest number of respondents came from the southern states. I would have thought by now that those southerners would have built a wall along the Mason Dixon line. At least politically, that’s the bastion of Evangelic Christians, those who don’t believe in the rights of women’s health.

This bunch of tea party supporters elect their own to Congress to shut down the U.S. government because they think it’s too big and states rights should prevail. Well there goes the “United” part of the United States of America. In their world, the racist hangover from the civil war some 150 years ago, is still there.

Not even the Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives can take the divisiveness existent in the Institution. John Boehner resigned this week. He was the third in line to become president if required.

We all know about those phone calls from polling companies seeking to determine a trend in public opinion. But it’s alarming when 4 in 10 Americans believe that a wall is necessary between the two countries. What are we, frozen backs, trying to get into the states?

So, when Donald Trump says if elected, he will build a wall between Mexico and the U.S. to cost $10 billion, he’ll convince the Mexicans to pay for it. Really?

If Trump pulls off that deal it’ll remain a simple step to apply his negotiating skills to doing the same between Canada and the U.S.

Hold the phone big guy.

The wall would be 8,850 kilometers long. Oops, make that 5,487 miles for our U.S viewers. It would stretch from the Atlantic to the Pacific. There are a few problems that need to be addressed. First, how do you build a wall across the Great Lakes? How do you build a wall along the border between Alaska and Canada through the mountains and rivers? What about the Thousand Islands along the St Lawrence River, which Island is in which country?

Why did Wisconsin Governor and Republican candidate, Scott Walker, quit the presidential campaign after agreeing the wall was a good idea? Do these people not have a clue of 148 years of peaceful co-existence between our countries? Have they any idea of the number of dual citizenships who are living in both countries? Have they ever considered the support and loyalties between the two countries for all those years in peace, the Great Depression, and three major wars?

Yet 41 per cent believe they need a wall between Canada and the U.S.

Oh well, ignorance is bliss. Pass the poutine.

*            *            *            *

The Wynne government’s political tampering won’t go away

There she goes again. The Grand Duchess  of Ontario, Premier Kathleen Wynne, refused to resign following a criminal investigation of her staff’s involvement in the Sudbury bye-election. Let them eat cake, she sniffed.

Her deputy chief of staff, Pat Sobara, interviewed the Liberal candidate, Andrew Olivier, prior to the February bye-election and asked him to step aside. Andrew, a quadriplegic successful businessman, ran a close second to the NDP in 2014 and planned to run again.

Ms. Sobara, called Olivier and said the party was going in a different direction and, suggested that by stepping aside, he would receive a senior job in the Liberal byzantine organization. The Premier, secretly succeeded in luring NDP MP Glenn Thibeault to join her caucus and run in the Sudbury bye-election as a Liberal.

But the skunk got into the henhouse. The would-be candidate recorded the conversations between Sobara and Olivier, because he is unable to write notes. Enter Sudbury Liberal activist, Gerry Lougheed, a wealthy funeral director and chairman of the Sudbury Police Services Board. He backed up Ms. Sobara’s job offer to persuade Olivier not to seek the Liberal nomination.

Olivier refused, ran as an independent and ended up in third place on Election Day

Police have charged Lougheed with one count of counseling an offense not committed and one count of unlawfully influencing and negotiating appointments. Translation: It’s bribery.

The question arises why was Pat Sobara, who opened the dialogue with Olivier and was recorded, not also charged along with Lougheed? Even more so, why is she still working for the Premier?

The Premier defended her staffer, the one who shaped her 2014 victory.

The police say the investigation is continuing. But this eight ball is already in the corner pocket.

*            *            *            *

Is the Republican Party having a meltdown? Ask Pogo

Okay, so the U.S. presidential election is more than a year away. But the rhetoric between the candidates is classic and funny. They remind us of Walt Kelley’s former comic strip about characters in the Okeefenokee swamp in Florida. The star was Pogo, a crafty opossum who was looked up to by his swampy pals.

The trouble with Republicans is they all want to be Pogo.

House of Representatives Speaker, John Boehner, took the high road and resigned. He announced it just a few days before his splintered caucus shuts down the government by voting against Planned Parenthood, the front line of women’s health in America.

Pogo would not be amused nor will the gaggle of Republican presidential hopefuls climbing over each other to get the job next year.

As Pogo famously remarked: “We have seen the enemy and they is us.”

*            *            *            *

Elementary teachers, without a contract, escalate job action

The failure of the Minister of Education to resolve the differences between the union of elementary teachers and the province drags on at the expense of students and their parents.

If all the other teacher unions have agreed to a new contract why haven’t the elementary teachers settled? Now the Minister of Education, Liz Sandals, is caught between those settlements made in good faith with the other unions and the potential of a better contract being awarded to the elementary teachers. This opens the door to even more disputes and rancour.

When does it stop? When does peace and honest bargaining on both sides of the table bring fair contracts and better job performance? In the three years that Sandals has been the person in charge of primary and secondary education in Ontario, she has lurched from one crisis to another.

Between Kathleen Wynne and Liz Sandals, both former school board trustees, it is apparent that the only way to settle with the teachers is to pay them off. That’s what they’ve done in the last two contract negotiating cycles.

The source of all this sturm and drang is the Liberal government’s failure to invest in education. Instead the Liberals poured money into wind and solar panel farms, demolished gas plants and expensive, non-effective cyber-based schemes, which cost us millions.

What Wynne and Sandals have accomplished is a dysfunctional education system in which trust has evaporated between the province and the teachers.

Either fix it or get out of the way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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