Saturday, December 29, 2012

Merry Christmas from John Duncan - Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development

Merry Christmas from John Duncan
Minister of

Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development


Last year it was Attawaspiskat. A state of emergency, just in time for Christmas, actually just in time for the cold winter weather was what confronted the minister. The way he handled it was a remarkable feat of arrogance, incompetence, and total ignorance. Had it not been for the work of the Red Cross, the generous donations of ordinary Canadians, and the resilience of the residents of the reserve, their chief and counsel, it would have been a world-class disaster.

It’s a year later now and guess what? There’s a brand new state of emergency declared at the reserve right next door to Attawaspiskat. There is a serious fuel shortage to heat buildings, forcing school and public building shutdowns. There are twenty-one homes that were flooded during the summer whose electrical systems need repair before re-using. All of this leads to unemployment, withdrawal of services and basic shutdown of the reserve’s operating system, piling up the hardships of its residents.

All of this and Stumble-bum Duncan remains invisible. Maybe he’s still licking his wounds from last Christmas, or maybe, having delivered his Christmas disaster for this year, is already planning the next one. I rather suspect the latter is the case. The government has become so steeped in intransigence as concerns Aboriginal people; it can’t seem to recognize genuine catastrophes it creates in the Aboriginal communities. I don’t know, maybe it’s deliberate. It seems the government has two philosophies in the way it runs its affairs: proactive and reactive. The former is for international affairs, trade development and image building, while the latter is for domestic affairs. I swear that if you told them to go home and mind their own business, they would have no idea what you’re talking about. They’d likely take it as an insult rather than a demand that they go home and look after their domestic affairs.

Even our “esteemed” prime minister is part of this mindset. Last year Theresa Spence, chief of Attawaspiskat, was exonerated of any wrongdoing in the spending of the funds available to her. She is an honest leader of her people, genuinely concerned about their well-being. This year she demanded an audience with the said “esteemed” prime minister to discuss the needs of her people. When he didn’t respond, she went on a hunger strike and continues to this day. Still no response from the P.M. I think the bugger is afraid of her. So he hides behind the perennial W.A.S.P. mentality, hoping she will go away.

I think the time has passed for direct negotiation with the Canadian government. It is now a matter for the world court to deal with. They should apprehend Duncan and the Prime minister and hold them in custody in The Hague until these abuses are dealt with. There is neither need nor reason for Ms. Spence to be martyred for what she believes to be justice for her people. We are no longer in the middle ages for God’s sake and its time to move from a reactive to a proactive model of governance. For nearly a hundred years except for a break during WWI the government imposed the Crow Rate on the railways to level the playing field for farmers and mining companies to ship their products to Thunder Bay at the same cost as their eastern counterparts. What’s wrong with imposing the same restriction on transportation companies traveling up north? You’d instantly fix the disparity in the cost of living in the north. Legislate something! Hells bells, I’m just a simple old white guy and even I can see solutions to these seemingly insurmountable problems. They are nothing that a little honesty and goodwill can’t fix. At least that’s how it seems to me from up here on the top shelf.


Just sayin’. 


Friday, December 21, 2012

Suffer The Little Chidren

Suffer the Little Children to Come Unto Me

I had determined that I wasn’t going to write about the terrible tragedy that took place last Friday in Newtown Connecticut. It was just too terrible to come to grips with. The image of the little children’s lives being snuffed out was like a hot knife cutting through my heart. I wanted to put a blanket of protection over the souls of their parents and loved ones against the terrible pain of loss. Their grief must be unimaginable.

But in the cold light of day I decided that I must come forward with things that are evident, but not being said. These are only my observations, but it’s time we held a mirror up to humanity to see how it really is, and what we see is that we is really a collection of murderers. And that goes right from the heads of state to the homeless person on the street.

We all have the capacity to choose to do murder. Ask any combat soldier. He’ll tell you. Of course we also have the capacity to choose not to do murder. It is a choice we make. But why in God’s name do we still do it? The people we butcher no longer care. They are in a better place. The only thing this sort of butchery accomplishes is a trail of pain and sorrow for the loved ones of the victims, and a feeling of shame and disgust for the perpetrators.

It is not enough to hug our children and tell them that we love them. That’s nothing but a feel good exercise. What we have to do it to teach them about love and respect. That’s where we are falling down. Parents, grand parents, community elders and leaders, none of us are doing our jobs. The teachers on the other hand did more than just step up to the plate. They stood fearlessly between the killer and the children that were their charges without a moment’s hesitation. And they paid the price.

 Yet, people like the parents of the perpetrator produced and raised such a killer. What does that tell you? It tells me someone was not doing his or her job. But you can’t entirely put the blame on the parents either. You have to look at the whole American structure. Ever since the second amendment to the American constitution, the United States has become a war-like nation. But the right to bear arms was intended to defend itself against its enemies, not to destroy itself, especially its children. But the arms manufacturers and the National Rifle Association who represent roughly a five billion dollar industry annually have strong lobby tentacles into Washington. They seem to be a strangely powerful group who dictate to their terms to the government. By what means I don’t know but I suspect it has something to with a lot of money. And the government by its inaction on the gun problem is directly implicit in the murders.

If you called the president a cold-blooded killer in the murder of these twenty children and six of their teachers, everyone would look at you in disbelief. How could you possibly say such a thing? He was genuinely heart-broken over the incident and would have done anything to prevent it. Oh, really? I listened to him speaking about it on the news this afternoon, and it was all fine until one reporter posed the question about the expiry of restrictions on assault firearms and munitions that had expired a couple of years ago. If he was so concerned, where had he been on this issue for the past couple of years? 

He had the most interesting answer. What he said was that when he took office he was faced with firstly, the greatest recession since the nineteen thirties, two wars, the BP oil spill, Hurricane Katrina, so his agenda was quite busy. True enough, but the mention of two wars (presumably to keep the U.S. safe) was a bit of an anomaly. In the two wars he mentions, how many women and children hasn’t he as Commander-in-chief pulled the trigger on? It’s not him, but his office. Before that it was Vietnam. Remember little nine-year-old Kim Fuk running down the street with her hair and her clothes on fire? How many people didn’t she leave behind in that terrible Napalm bombing at the hands of the Americans? That’s what Americans do – they go to other countries and they hurt people. Yet they consider themselves as free, democratic, peace-loving people, but in reality they are no different than the Syrians, for example.

And at home, there is no time for such things as keeping our children safe. One must address the “Fiscal Cliff” or go overseas to murder innocent children and their mothers. American children and their teachers will have to wait. That’s sort of like the shoemaker whose children run around barefoot in the snow except that this is a little more serious!

Well, he says he wants something on his desk by January. That might happen, and it might not. I for one would not bet on it, and even if it does, what will he do about it?

It seems to me that the administration should have a good look at itself in the mirror to see who they have become. I know I’m picking on the Americans. I should also include Canadians and all other countries because this is not an exclusively American problem, but if that country wants to lead the world, it had better take care of business at home before venturing elsewhere. At least that’s how it seems to me from up here on the top shelf.


Just sayin’.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

God and the Devil

God and the Devil

I never in my life thought I’d live to see the day that I’d witness an actual battle between God and Satan. But by gum, I’m watching it right now! The only thing I’m confused about is who is God and who is Satan. Well, it’s no wonder. God and Satan are having trouble identifying themselves. That in fact, is probably what the fight is all about in the first place.

Now you are confused too of course. Let me clear it up. The God and Satan I’m talking about are Gary Bettman and Don Fehr, fighting over the world of NHL Hockey. The absolute rage Bettman displays at Fehr and his satanic henchmen leaves no doubt in anyone’s mind that he, Gary Bettman IS God, and you’d better watch out because he is liable to flood every ice rink right up to the top of the boards if Fehr and his gang don’t toe the line.

Don Fehr of course, comes off as the voice of reason, negotiating in good faith on behalf of his impoverished players, a truly Godly gesture. He is totally befuddled and saddened by this satanic windstorm called Bettman. Oh, like he never saw it coming!

And it’s all over money and the NHL (National Hockey League) and how to divide up the profits garnered from fans and advertisers. What do they think – that hockey is an essential service?

Yeah I’m sure that’s what they think all right. About the only people who consider it an essential service are the thousands that are losing their jobs because they thought it was a reliable resource. Ha! They’re about as reliable as a bald set of tires on the Zamboni. These guys have been playing really bad hockey for at least fifty years, they’ve ramped up the violence and thrown the entertainment value under the bus. Yet they’re braying away like so many jackasses that you’d think the noise is directly proportionate to their own importance.

Well I got a news flash for God and Satan (whichever is which). Your performances, whenever they air on television are even worse than the sub-standard hockey you produce. Every time we see you wagging your ‘good’ or ‘evil’ fingers we get a  little more disgusted and a little more anti-NHL. Quite frankly, we’d rather buy jerseys that say “Mighty Mouse Midgets” than those of the mythical billion-dollar Toronto Maple Leafs. And in fact, we’d rather watch them play too. It turns out to be more exciting entertainment anyway.

So we don’t care who is God and who is Satan. We don’t care who is right or wrong. We don’t even care if there is no NHL season. And get this: We don’t even care if there’s an NHL. As far as I’m concerned, you can take the whole business and stick it where the sun don’t shine and follow behind it yourselves. Gone is gone, and good riddance to bad rubbish! At least that’s the way it seems to me from up here on the top shelf.


Just sayin’.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Family Glue

Family Glue

‘- - - - - - and to my faithful servant Sarah who faithfully looked after the house and my wife and me, I bequeath the house. And to my butler I bequeath the Rolls Royce. Out of the cash in my estate, each shall have a million dollars to continue their lives in comfort. The rest of my estate shall be given to the charity selected by my solicitor. And finally, to my loser son who always bad-mouthed me and said I never gave him the time of day – It’s two o’clock.’

“And that concludes the reading of the will. Thank you all for coming. There are a few documents to sign and the estate will be distributed accordingly.”

Well, families. To tell the truth I never gave the subject a passing thought until this morning when I read a piece about families on facebook. And the subject kept growing so I started to think about it. The more I thought, the darker the cloud in my mind grew. So instead of thinking about things that could get personal, I decided to draw an analogy of the situation.

It’s a little bit like walking down the path of life’s journey and stepping on a piece of chewing gum. Even stopping to take off your shoe and scraping the gum off it doesn’t entirely do the job. There’s always that bit of residue there to stick to the pavement. It can ruin the whole trip if you let it. There’s all sorts of annoying little pebbles it picks up along the way. After a while it can get downright uncomfortable if you let it.

As usual, there’s a couple of choices you have in dealing with the problem. You can either just keep walking, slowly getting used to the lump under your foot until there’s no more room for additional pebbles, or you can keep stopping to scrape them off. Well, it’s not much of a choice when you figure that every time you clean your shoes you make room for more of these useless pebbles.

Keeping in mind what the real subject matter of this analogy is, there’s a certain satisfaction in thinking about continually stepping on these hangers-on and crushing them under the weight of your foot every time you take a step. Besides, after a while there’s no room left for additional pebbles. That’s got to be comforting.

Well let’s face it. There’s always bound to be some discomfort on the journey through life. Otherwise it would be a pretty dull adventure. And when the journey’s over, you don’t need your shoes anymore anyway so they just get tossed (along with whatever is stuck to them).

When I think about it, the journey of my life is far too important to me, with all its hopes and dreams, to worry about the odd pebble that sticks to the bottom of my shoe. As long as I keep this thought as I travel along, my mind will be on the goal (and I’ll have a little amusement along the way). At least that’s how it seems to me from up here on the top shelf.


Just sayin’.  

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Harvey and Ethyl

This is a bit of a departure from the usual observations, but it turned out to be such a good story I thought I would share it. I hope you enjoy.

Harvey and Ethyl



“What, Ethyl?”

“It stinks in here.”

“It’s not bad. Just a little exhaust fumes, that’s all. Nothin you won’t get used to.”

“How long you think we’re goin’ to have to stay in here?”

“I dunno. I suppose until somebody gets up enough gumption to deal with us.”

“Well this is just ridiculous – just absolutely intolerable. I never, not in my whole life did I ever imagine we’d ever end up like this. I’m heartbroken, Harvey.”

“Good God woman! What are you bitchin’ about? You just got here last week. I’ve been sittin here for pretty near five years already. The only thing that kept me goin’ was the idea that you’d join me sooner or later, and I’d at least have some company. This business of bein’ cremated and havin’ your ashes stuck in a stupid urn sure ain’t what I figured it to be. Once they put the lid on and sealed it, I was stuck.”

“I suppose that’s partly my fault Harvey, but I’m really not sorry. I just wanted you to wait for me, so I stuck you in the garage for the time being. I didn’t think I’d last another five years and I didn’t want you Tom-cattin’ around on me in the mean time.”

“Aw Ethyl, you know I wouldn’t do that! You’re still my beautiful girl.”

“I am not! I’m a pile of bloody ashes in a cheap plastic bag inside this fancy urn. And that’s just what I feel like. You’re goin’ to get me all upset Harvey!”

“Now Ethyl, calm yourself. Get a grip. It ain’t the end of the world you know. At least you’re not jammed up against a rotten old battery like I am.”

“Haha, I got news for you Harvey. It is the end of the world – at least for us. We’re dead; remember? And they went and stuck a gerry can of gas next to me. At least that’s what it smells like.”

“Don’t remind me. I just gotta figure a way to get our spirits outa here. Just think. If our dutiful daughter and her screwball husband had done what it said in the will, our ashes would be scattered all over the rose garden by now and we could be doin’ what we used to do out there. I’m getting all horny just thinkin’ about it.”

“Aw jeez, do dead people still think about such things?”

“Apparently. What else is there to think about while we’re trying to get the hell outa here? Too bad we couldn’ta been put in the same urn. We’d blow the lid right off the thing.”

“Oh stop it Harve. You’ll get me all excited.” Ethyl gave a little laugh. “Hey, I wonder-” She trailed off.

“What? What woman? If you got any ideas, spout them out, for God’s sakes!”

“Well,” she mused, “suppose the next time they come into the garage, we yell our fool heads off. Do you think they might hear us?”

“Nah, I don’t think so. I swear at them every time they show up, and call them every name under the sun. Doesn’t help a bit except for my ego.”

“I feel terribly tired all of a sudden. I didn’t think you could get tired when you’re dead.”

“It’s these damned fool ashes,” said Harvey. “They just drag a person down. “Why don’t you just rest a bit and I’ll pretend to cuddle you – just like the old days.”

“Okay, that sounds comforting. Hey, get your hand outa there.”

“Haha. That’s not my hand.”

“Well, you old bugger!”

“Shhh. Someone’s coming.”

It was Ben Hobman, their next-door neighbor, was coming for the gerry can of special gas for the roto-tiller. As he grabbed it down, he noticed it was right next to the two urns of his late neighbors. He instinctively swept his straw hat off his head, held it to his chest and said, “Howdy neighbors.”

To their daughter Nancy who had accompanied him he said, “What in thunder are these urns doing here in the garage? Did you already scatter their ashes in the rose garden like they said in their will?”

Nancy started to cry. “No, we couldn’t,” she sobbed. “We just couldn’t bring ourselves to do it. And Stan didn’t want the urns in the house.”

“Well Judas H. Priest!” Boomed Ben. “So ya stuck ‘em out here in the garage between a dead battery and a gas can! What kinda respect is that?”

“Well, I didn’t know where else to out them,” Nancy whimpered.

“So ya cleaned out the house and moved right in lickety split and stuck the old folks out in the garage like they was nobody and life goes on? Is that it?”

No, no!” wailed Nancy. “You don’t understand!”

“Oh I understand alright. I understand you got no brains in your heads at all. You’re so busy thinkin’ about yourselves and your own comfort, you forget about your own parents. You can’t just leave them in limbo like that! You’re interferin’ with the completion of the circle of life. You know – ‘ashes to ashes, dust to dust’.  Yet you’ve got their spirits sealed up in a tin can out in the garage like so much junk. They’re locked in there and can’t get out.”

“Oh God,” blubbered Nancy.

“Listen,” said Ben, “I’ve known your parents longer than you have. We been neighbors for more than forty years so I probably know them better than you do. So if you can’t bring yourself to do it, I’ll do it for you. Actually, I’ll do it for them. It’s time that rose garden got a little attention anyways.”

He picked up the two urns and set them in the wheel barrow standing in the corner, wheeling it out toward a tattered rose garden at the end of the property.

“What’s happening?” asked Ethyl, a little shaken up.

“I don’t really know,” replied Harvey. “That sounded like Ben. I think he’s taking us somewhere.”

There was quiet for some time then a tapping on the lid of the urns. Holy crap, that was noisy! The sharp taps gave way to a prying sound and suddenly there was air. Oh my God, nice clean fresh air. Ben had already hoed the flowerbeds into pretty good shape. Now he gently dumped the ashes out into the wheelbarrow. Gingerly, as if he were dealing with living remains of his friends, he mixed the ashes of both together and spread them evenly around the bushes. They seemed to take on a sparkle as he worked. Ben felt extremely satisfied having completed the job. Looking back from the garage where he deposited the wheelbarrow, he felt a satisfaction of having helped his neighbors complete the circle of life.

“This is cozy,” said Harvey.

“Get off me you big galoot.” She was giggling gleefully.