Saturday, 23 February 2019

Saturday Photo: Ruts, rats!

This is what our lane looked like this morning.  After several snowfalls and freeze and thaw cycles, it had been reduced to two tracks of ruts about four inches thick.

The arrondissement has said it will keep up snow removal in this lane which serves 300 families in a four block stretch.  Not only do many of them (including us) get oil deliveries off it, access to our parking is supposed to be by it.

Last Sunday night it took us a half hour to get into our garage which is about where you see the power lines crossing.  Later in the week a couple of neighbors got caught up on the ruts, trying to get out this way.

Bah humbug!  There is no reason for this kind of snow build up: we've never had it before, the equipment is supposed to be on standby, the plan is push aside the snow and then remove much of it.  But it sure hasn't worked this winter.  Now I understand why people go South!

Saturday, 16 February 2019

Saturday Photo: Elections, Snow and Julia Sánchez

Snow days this week, ice day today (after a period of rain yesterday) but every day is campaign day this week and next. 

Here is Julia Sánchez, the NPD  candidate in the Outremont by election, with the snowperson constructed on Wednesday by her friends and campaign workers.  I was by to telephone that afternoon, and was delighted to see how many people were working there on an day where much of the city closed down (about 36 cm in this neighborhood, or 9 inches, which fell within 12 hours.)  Good responses to my calls, too--people were home because so many of them had booked off because of transportation problems.

We usually get about 40 cm (10 inches) of snow in February, but it all fell in a very short time.  It was just another example of the extreme weather--another is the cycle of enormous temperature shifts from day to day--that we've had this year.  Probably due to climate change, which is one of Julia's big concerns.  She would/will make a great MP, and my task this afternoon is to go campaign a bit more for her.

Saturday, 9 February 2019

Saturday Photo: Natural Valentine

A couple of years ago I found these lovely leaves cascading down the side of a garage.  Nice to see that Nature loves a Valentine too.

So please tell those  around you whom you love that you love them today, as well as on Thursday!

Saturday, 2 February 2019

Saturday Photo: Tommy Douglas in 1944

This photo was taken three years before Saskatchewan began its provincial hospitalization plan that started Canada on its road toward universal, single-payer health insurance.  Tommy Douglas-- son of a foundry worker,  Premier of Saskatchewan,  leader of the New Democratic Party, Father of Medicare, and Keifer Sutherland's grandfather--was the man behind the program.  He's on my mind very much today for two reasons.  

The first is that I sent off a final version of my book Frenemy Nations: Love and Hate between Neighbo(u)ring States to the University of Regina Press yesterday. It's about places that are alike yet different, and one of the ten pairs I consider are Saskatchewan and Alberta.

The second is that this afternoon I'm going to start telephoning for Julia Sánchez, the NDP candidate in the Outremont by-election set for February 25.  She's a fine, intelligent woman who would be a great MP: would that the NDP have a full slate of candidates like her, come October and the general election.

As for Tommy Douglas, he's one of my heroes.  I heard him speak once, on  a cold and rainy November night in 1982. It was at the end of a conference on the future of Canada's Medicare program, at a time when the program was still relatively young but was under attack, as it frequently has been.

 The speakers who went before Douglas had given their view of how Medicare--one of the defining attributes of Canada, many think--had developed.  A trade union official spoke about establishing one of the first comprehensive health clinics in North America, an actuary and former Quebec politician told how a universal, public hospital and medical care insurance scheme was more efficient and equitable, and a physician explained why doctors in one province went on strike to block its introduction, but ultimately came around to agreeing it was a pretty good idea.  The speeches were informative, sometimes even interesting.

Then Douglas, still going strong at 78, stepped up to the podium to "bat cleanup," as one of the  conference organizers put it.  His speech wasn't new to anyone who'd been following his career.  Mostly it was about how the universal health care system was threatened by extra-billing  and extra charges that were being levied even though it was set up  to provide free health care "for every man, woman and child in the country."  He spoke with his right hand raised in the air, his voice strong and commanding, trained as it was to be heard in large crowds in days before  public address systems when he was a Baptist preacher.  His presence was as big as his voice, despite the fact that he'd always been a little guy, never much heavier than the 135 pounds he weighed when he won a Light Heavyweight boxing title at 18.

 "We can’t stand still," he said.  "We can either go back or we can go forward. The choice we make today will decide the future of Medicare in Canada."  He paused, and then rose up on the tips of his toes to quote not Scripture but the English poet William Blake.  His voice intensified, full of conviction, of strength, of hope:

"We shall not cease from mental strife, Nor shall our swords rest in our hands, Till we have built Jerusalem, In this green and pleasant land."

The crowd took to its feet with cheers, whistles and applause. If he'd told us to march out into the darkness and bring some light to the world, we would have done it.

Many years have passed, but I'm still with Tommy.  Now to go out into the cold and work for Julia...