O Canada, We stood on guard…

Watch the following video released a couple of days ago.

I’m padre for the local Royal Canadian Legion. I talk to veterans old and young. I talk with those who are diagnosed with PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) and with those who probably should have been diagnosed with it.

I hear of the images they describe of what they have seen in theatre. I hear their stories about how the nightmares shake them awake at night. I hear how their wives need to leave the house for weeks at a time, just to be safe. I hear stories of deep depression and the potential for self-destruction. And I hear how they struggle with where to go for help.

I also hear how the staff at the local Veterans Affairs office help them get their lives back on track. I hear how these amazing, caring individuals talk to these veterans to get them the resources and help they so desperately need. Help they would never receive if it wasn’t near by.

Yes, our country is trying to save some money in the budget. But I can think of many other ways to save than to cut vital resources for those who have bravely put their lives on the line in the name of freedom and peace for our country and for other nations around the world.

Cape Breton CBRM

Rebuilding is a Challenge

I don’t think I’ve come across anyone who doesn’t think the strengthening our local businesses and fostering entrepreneurship will not help boost the local Cape Breton economy.

cape bretonFrom what I’ve heard in regards to a report released this week from the Community Foundation of Nova Scotia, it’s got people talking again about the needs of the CBRM and how to make this place attractive to young people. You can download their full report for CBRM and other Nova Scotia communities on the Vital Signs website.

But, based on conversations I’ve had with local businesses, we have a huge problem moving forward.

In the local industrial park about a kilometre from where I live, there are two large factories which were shuttered and sold. Well, they are for sale again. They have been for some time. The asking price for these two buildings? Higher than when they were first sold a couple of years ago. Fine, sure, they can do that.

Here’s the problem. The new owners live in British Columbia and have done no maintenance on the buildings. The roofs now leak and the buildings are falling further and further into a state of disrepair. In other words, who would ever buy them?

These buildings could be fantastic community centres offering space to community groups. They could be recreation sites for youth in our community. They have so much potential.

But it’s going to waste!

Who has the money to buy these buildings and then bring them back to a suitable state of repair?

And that’s not all. In a conversation I had recently I’ve discovered another disgraceful act involving a once well respected business, that too was sold to a western Canadian buyer. This business is now being run by a local who has no experience in the industry in which this business operates. In fact, the manager has been told strongly that he is not to promote the business. He is not to seek to turn a profit!

Recently a popular restaurant closed. The details around the closure have not been made public. But I fear the same fate may be in store for that property as well.

I’m not sure at all how tax laws work in this country, but I am guessing that by holding these buildings and businesses someone is somehow making money. I guess this must be legal, but what about ethics? Are you so greedy to make a few dollars that you are willing to handicap, or worse destroy, the local business infrastructure and economy for your own benefit?

I need to know that our local leaders and politicians are aware of this and that they are working in some way to bring these valuable assets back into the hands of Cape Bretoners who are willing to turn these businesses into successful places to boost our local economy and bring families back home to Cape Breton.

Dear councillors, MLAs and MPs, I’m looking at you. Where do you stand?

Elections Provincial

Nova Scotia Election 2013: And Away We Go!

Nova_Scotia_flag_mapFinally, after months of speculation and a week where the moment seemed it could be any second we have entered into a provincial election.

The question now is, what’s going to happen?

Will there be excessive mud-slinging? Probably. But in NS those antics rarely pay off.

Will there be promises? Of course!

Will there be drama? We hope so, to keep things “interesting”!

With the last provincial election, we were voting for three parties that seemed to be unable to distance themselves from each other. And realistically, I think we’re going to get the same this time around.

In a system where parties are trying to be all things for all people we now have 3 political parties that mostly sound the same, especially in Nova Scotia.

Over the next few days, I’m hoping to sit down the the platforms of each of the three main parties and see what they have to say going into this election. Don’t worry, I’ll post my thoughts here.

As we go in, I should set out my position as a member of the community.

I do not publicly endorse any party or candidate. I never have, I doubt I ever will. I am politically engaged, in that I pay attention to what parties say at any time, whether it’s an election campaign or not. And, whoever is elected, I will get to know and be willing to work with this person to better the lives of the people in the community where I live. And I’m not afraid to let the official know if I am displeased, but will only do so personally, taking it public only if other avenues are not successful.

So… I’m going for a ride, one that will likely be all over the political map. I hope you join me for the ride!

Not sure how elections work in Nova Scotia? Check out the Elections Nova Scotia website.


Just Say “No”


I was told over and over again that drugs were bad and to just say “no” if I was ever offered any.

I had my chances. I was around drugs at parties and friend’s houses, particularly when I was in university. But I never took any. I didn’t see the benefit, and I didn’t want it in my body. I guess the campaigns worked to some degree.

Yet, this week the popular thing seems to be politicians coming out of the closet about their past drug use. To what benefit? None that I can see. Well at least to the general public.

Justin Trudeau has come out in favour of legalizing weed. The same week a study came out telling us that when teens use, it can seriously impact brain development at a crucial stage.

“No problem!” says Trudeau. “Legalizing it will keep it out of the hands of the youth!”

Sure it will… just like our youth never get access to alcohol.

Look, I don’t care if you took a toke one time back in university and you’re all fine now, it’s not that way for everyone.

Tell that to the families of the two under-age teens I’ve buried in the last two years who mixed alcohol and drugs. Tell that to the young adults who’s brains are burnt and are hooked on stronger drugs today, eliminating themselves from the work force because of it, and damaging relations with their families and friends.

It doesn’t take much to find the ugly side of the story. I’ve seen it up close and personal. I’ve seen how a couple of simple tokes lead to a life of self-destruction, and even death.

So instead of telling me how you’re going to make it acceptable to ruin people’s lives, and instead tell me how you are going to help those who have destroyed their lives and the lives of others through their addictions.

Then maybe I’ll consider voting for you… when you decide to help people instead of your own personal image.

Anyone up to the challenge?

I’m not sure, because no one out there is showing me they want to.

Education Nova Scotia

The Value of an Education

schooldaysThe first day of school is just around the corner.

And it appears as though our education system is attempting to save money. They are squeezing everywhere they can.

But sometimes (many times) they squeeze too hard or in the wrong places.

Sometime over the last year the Department of Education decided it would centralize it procurement operations for the province. They decided it would be a good budget decision to have all purchases of in-school equipment go through Halifax.

And it does make some sense.

Except when they get really cheap.

In the news this week is how the all text book orders have been awarded to an American company. I guess I should get used to my kids saying ‘zee’ and forgetting their ‘u’ in words like favourite and neighbour, which they already do on a regular basis.

The other problem with this centralized procurement system is that it shuts out the local business. Several office supplies stores in Cape Breton were the suppliers of paper, pens, staplers, whatever your office needed… but that is no more. These small businesses have lost their largest customer, and they are going to have to lay off employees because of it… at the very least. A couple may even be forced to re-evaluate the future of their business.

So yes, I am in favour of saving money.

But not at the cost of impacting local economies which depend on the business. Not at the cost of losing teachers in the classrooms instead of bloated school board administrations.

Centralize to save money? Yes!

But maybe we should be looking at something like how many school boards and staff we have rather than who supplies the pencils and paint brushes.

Federal Government

Reboot. Escape. Discover… sometimes…

parks canadaParks Canada has it right on the front of their website.

Reboot. Escape. Discover.

But it appears you can only do these things when they want you to.

Over the last two years Parks Canada parks have had huge cutbacks to their budgets, and it is clearly impacting their operations.

In late June I took a good friend who was visiting from Toronto to the Fortress of Louisbourg during it’s 300th anniversary year. I’m sure you’ve seen the advertising going on all year. Imagine my disappointment when I couldn’t show her the entire “Fortress experience” because they were very short staffed and not all buildings were open, including the beautiful chapel which hurt for two clergy to miss. Keep in mind that the day we were there, the place was full of cruise ship visitors. I felt bad they couldn’t get the full experience either.

Now there is word that the Alexander Graham Bell museum will be shutting it’s doors early this season to save money. Again with more cruise ships on their way and Celtic Colours festival still to come, which brings a huge amount of tourists to Cape Breton each October.

Leah at Dream Big Cape Breton has the view from the Baddeck side in her post “what’s going on at the Bell Museum?” A very good question indeed, and a good question for all of our national treasures across Cape Breton and the rest of Canada.

In her post, Leah has contact information for those who are concerned about these cutbacks. Contact them if you care, and also get in touch with your own MP. Not sure who represents you in the Government of Canada in the House of Commons? Check here.



Environment Government

From the mouths of children

20130722-100216.jpgLast night, as my wife was putting our seven year-old to bed, he said to her the following as they discussed the decline of bat and bee populations, “God gave people the earth to take care of, not hurt.”

Even my kids get it. It’s that simple.

We live in a world where we continually build more coal plants to produce energy. We live in a world where people fight tooth and nail against green energy solutions because they might make a small noise off in the distance.

We live in a beautiful country, but sadly our governments fall to the sins of pride and greed in supporting non-sustainable environmental practices, propping up these industries with hundreds of millions of tax payer’s money, crippling the future for our children.

Sure, maybe in my house we talk about this stuff more with our children, but they’ve figured it out all themselves that we are destroying our planet.

May the words of my son be in your ears this day, and may our politicians hear them as well.

“God gave people the earth to take care of, not hurt.”


Oh the humanity!

We must put an end to the unending epidemic of collapsing cell towers launching snow and ice at our homes and our safety. This cannot carry on any further! It ends now!

Or so some people in North Sydney would have you think…

The Cape Breton Post had the following story: North Sydney residents upset cell tower built close to homes

“Should the tower fall, MacLeod believes it could hit his home or any of the two other houses next to it.

Even if the tower doesn’t fall, he fears that debris and even ice could fall from the structure and hit homes or people who frequently walk passed it.”

Funnily enough I drove past this area (you can see it clearly from the highway) and there sure are a lot of trees close to houses in that area. I don’t see a lot of clear cutting to protect themselves from falling trees or debris falling from said trees.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t recall hearing a lot of news about falling cell towers, but I sure do hear a lot about falling trees causing damage. Remember Hurricane Juan anyone in Nova Scotia? What caused all that damage? Falling towers? No, falling trees caused a LOT of damage.

Can we start to think rationally for a change? If falling ice and towers is our biggest concern, then maybe some research is in order?

Wind power, cell towers, what’s next?


More on fear: Attack Ads

Here in Nova Scotia we are approaching an election. This fall maybe? Who knows!

electionscanadaBut attack ads are in full swing, at least by the NDP government currently in power. They are taking shots at the other leaders with “facts” about how they approach things like job creation and sustainable energy. Not to mention the attacks being thrown at newly minted leader of the Liberal party by the Conservatives at the federal level.

Given my healthy skepticism of anything one political party has to say about another, I don’t believe any of it. It’s another attempt to use fear to cause people to not vote for the other party in hopes that they’ll vote for their own. If one party can throw enough doubt into the minds of voters about the other potential premieres or prime minsters, then they think they’ve done their jobs.

Here’s what I see happening as a result… Record low voter turnout.

So how’s that working for you?

Here’s what I look for when voting. Pay attention because you don’t seem to be getting it…

What are you going to do? 

Seriously, it’s that easy. Just tell me what you are going to do. I’m smart enough to compare it against the other person and decide for myself which I like better. And you know what? So is most of Canada.

So, some simple guidelines to follow, just in case you need it spelled out for you.

  1. Don’t go about trashing the other candidates
  2. Tell me what you are going to do
  3. Let me decide if your platform is strong enough

Do you need anything more than that? I don’t see anything else. This is all I look for, and so do a lot of other I talk to.

Notice how with negative attack ads increasing, voter turnout has dropped. It’s a concept called “cause and effect”. You talk trash, and people don’t care. Seems like a pretty solid connection to me. Americans use attack ads extensively, and their voter turnouts are abysmal. So keep it going if that’s what you want.

The ball is in your court. It’s a pretty simple lob at the net, try not and screw it up!

Cape Breton CBRM

Science…. shmience

Here in Cape Breton there is a company wishing to build a wind farm. It’s often windy here in Cape Breton, we have lots of land, seems like a good fit.

linganwindThere’s only one problem.


Fear is a powerful tool used by those who either have an agenda of their own or are too lazy to do their own research.

Opponents of the wind farm are citing “stories” of how wind turbines are noisy and affect the health of those nearby the power generating site. Science on the other hand, actual research, has found no such connection. In fact, science has shown that health declines near wind turbines only after the stories of these alleged effects begin to circulate. A reverse placebo effect if you will.

The proposed turbines are going to be placed over one kilometre away from any residences. Locals want that changed to two kilometres which will pretty much banish from the island.

So instead, they’d rather continue with the current strategy of living down wind from the coal burning generator which pollutes their air and creates a whole lot more noise. Try driving to Lingan and stop by the turbines there. Listen. Then drive a little further by the coal burning generator and listen there as well. Notice any difference? I sure did!

Governments are being lobbied. People are being misinformed. All for what?

Can we please stick with facts and think ahead for a greener economy for a change? My kids would appreciate it.