Here in the province of Ontar-i-ar-i-ar-io, there’s been talk for some time about the arrival of a QR code enabled Covid Passport. Makes sense. Well, it finally happened and the government put out advice that it’s available. So I followed the link provided in the news story I was reading to get mine, but I found no link from the government about where to go to get the passport. Essentially, they said, well it’s here and it will make life easier. Yeah… well, sure…OK… but where is it ? And how do I get it? Nothing.
Don’t you think that’s important information for us lowly peons to know?
I guess some bright lass or laddie realized their deficiency and a second message came along, starting the same way – “isn’t this great” – but ending with a link to a site that could actually provide you with your QR code passport. I followed along and was able to download mine to my phone. Hurrah!!
Now, we move along to last night where a friend and I were going to attend a jazz concert in one of the nearby towns, planning to have dinner first at a restaurant nearby the venue. We proffered our phones to the welcoming host, showing the QR code as the government website had instructed us to do, only to find her response, “Oh, sorry, you’ll have to show us your paper version, plus your ID. We don’t have any means of using a scanned code.” Fortunately, we’d both brought paper backups just in case, but it’s a hassle over merely showing your phone.
Once we’d settled at a table, I waved the resto owner over and said, “Just curious: why is your staff unable to scan our QR code passports? Isn’t that the point of the whole thing?” “I‘m sure it is,” he replied, “but no one from the government has told us how to work with this. I’m hearing from the rumor mill that you need some special software or a special scanner or something, but we haven’t heard the first thing about it. So, we have to rely on the ‘olde’ method of checking your paper passport. Sorry.” Yeah… well, sure…OK…
But then, didn’t this exact same thing happen at the venue staging the concert! They were unable to use our QR codes as well, and asked for the paper passport version. Same response: “Yeah, we hear you need a special scanner or some special software or something, but no one from the government has given us a thing.”
All of which leaves me asking: If the government is going to make a big deal out of having these “virtual passports”, then why would they not complete the process and make it real? Right now, it just feels inadequate and sloppy, like a fraud and a waste of time for all involved.
I had the opportunity recently to be the guest of an organization sponsoring an online debate about Canada’s allegiance to the monarchy and whether it should stay. Two people from each side put forward their arguments. Interesting that before the debate, they polled us attendees, indicating a tie: 34% in favour, 34% against and 32% not sure. I guess the “leavers” did a good job: post-debate, 58% in favour 26% against, 16% undecided.
Want my take in this issue? Sure you do…
The royal family’s days have come and gone. These people are victims of their own complacency and we have no need to respect them anymore. 400 years ago, amidst all their riches, they got tired of ruling (oh sob, sob) and outsourced their responsibility to what was then a first minister: a Prime Minister. Since then, they’ve simply devolved into a rubber stamp mechanism with no legitimate responsibility. Charles talks to plants and screws around on his wife. Andrew talks to kids and screws them. Enough said. After Queen Elizabeth retires or dies, that’s it: shut it down! (P.S. Did you know Queen Elizabeth has someone on staff whose sole job is to cut the beef for her that she’s served. What a gig!) Enough with this invalid travesty.
Oh, by the way, while we’re at it, might as well remind you of my opinion that it’s time to end the vice-regal situation in Canada as well. It costs us millions of dollars annually and the roles of the Governor-General and Lieutenants-Governor in this country have been reduced to being ceremonial at best. They used to represent the Queen or King in “the colonies” but that’s no longer necessary. The millions of dollars devoted to simple ceremony could so much be better utilized for education and healthcare. Why didn’t GG Mary Simon just say “No” to Trudeau’s specious election call? Because the role has no teeth, that’s why, so she rubber-stamped it, thereby wasting $600 million dollars. Begone all of this irrelevance!
Abd for those who argue about how much process will have to be evoked to make this happen, I can only say that I’m mindful of how the COVID vaccination was developed in record-quick time because people wanted it. Surely this can prevail here too. “If you want it, it will come.”
I like to follow politics: find it fascinating. And south of the border, perhaps even more. So, let me share a thought with you.
Now, I’m no conspiracy theorist, but do you remember when the Obamacare website was launched? And it failed? I said then, “No way that site should have failed. It was too simple. The GOP put a mole on the Dems team. This was deliberately sabotaged.”
Well, seems to me that same thinking ought to apply to Joe Manchin. He claims to be a Democrat from West Virginia. But clearly, he favours the GOP agenda. It’s pretty apparent to me that he’s there only to make life miserable for President Biden. He’s a Republican, faking it as a Dem, to screw things up. Face the facts: the Dems have been outwitted yet again. Sad but true. And the GOP ought to be ashamed of themselves. But as the party of Trump, shame doesn't even enter their dictionary.
A learned associate responded to my recent “Why? “blog with the following (he’s a lawyer, BTW):
How about we extend to citizens of other countries the same level of legal protection and rights as they afford to Canadian citizens. So no Chinese national in Ms. Meng’s position gets the accommodations she received. They are treated in Canada as our citizens are treated in China.
Sure, that gets complicated. And it would be hard to implement without the risk of compromising the rule of law. But unless we do something like that we’re always going to be the patsy. So you give the federal cabinet the power, subject to appropriate safeguards, to curtail some of the rights afforded by the Charter and our common law traditions upon which it is based. In Ms. Meng’s case, you yank the right to bail and the presumption of innocence. Interrogation approaching torture is permitted – just like in China. Now you have something to bargain with. Ms. Meng’s VIP father is going to be screaming at the CPP to get his daughter relief from those barbaric conditions. It’s a pretty obvious quid pro quo in diplomatic discussions. Ms. Meng will be treated exactly as are the Michaels…
The alternative is anytime a Meng situation arises an authoritarian government just grabs a couple of our citizens.
What a great idea. And after almost three years of the Michaels travesty, we should make this happen!!!
Finally… the “two Michaels” – Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor – are back at home in Calgary and Toronto.
Now, hands up who can tell me why the hell it’s taken 1,020 days of these guys being unlawfully held in Chinese jails for this to happen? Why has it taken nearly three years to get these innocent men home?
Why, after attesting that the jailing of these Canadian men was in no way kinked to the detention of Huawei senior executive Meng Wanzhou (the Chinese government jailed the pair shortly after Meng was arrested in Canada, but insisted they were held on charges of espionage), have both Spavor and Kovrig been released by China just hours after Meng cut her deal with U.S. prosecutors?
Why has the U.S. finally dropped their extradition warrant, thus allowing Canada to release Meng? And thus meaning this whole exercise has gained absolutely nothing!
Why has Canada been a puppet of the U.S., taking all the abuse of curtailing Meng in Vancouver while the two Michaels suffered in a Chinese jail? Seems there was no sweat in the U.S. while the almost-three year chasm fractured Canada’s relationship with China. Why are we the ones taking it on the chin?
Why did Justin Trudeau feel he should fly out and welcome the lads back with open arms when he did so little to expedite their release? (I would have told him where to go if it were me.)
Why was Meng allowed to stay simply under “house arrest” in her multimillion-dollar home in Vancouver, while the Canadians were kept in Chinese prisons with the lights on 24 hours a day, enduring no legal processes and enduring a "mock sham trial”?
OK, I’m no diplomat and offer little understanding of how international agreements are negotiated. But sorry, I can’t accept that this should have taken nearly three years to get solved. Someone’s been asleep at the switch in this hostage-taking. The detention of Kovrig and Spavor was clearly a retaliatory action by China in response to the Huawei executive's arrest. Knowing this, surely someone could have put in place the pieces that have finally been played out… only much, much sooner.
You know, I learned first-hand about China’s heavy handedness in dealing with anything the government feels is not for them when I interviewed Dr. Wan Yanhai in New York City for my new book “Pushing The Boundaries”. He had suffered horrendous human rights violations in his homeland of China as he proceeded with his agenda of advocating steadfastly for people there with HIV/AIDS, full of the knowledge that this did not sit well with the iron-fisted Communist regime in Beijing, which didn’t want to admit to this health problem. He eventually was pressured to leave his home and native land, being forced to accept that he’ll likely never, ever return.
At the end of the day, the detention of the two Michaels sends a clear message to other countries: "If you cross China, they’ll just randomly pick up a couple of your citizens, throw ‘em in jail and hold ‘em hostage." But let me tell you, if it does happen to another country, I hope their government has the spine to face up to the situation and deal with it, not leave their citizens unlawfully languishing in prison for three years!
“Don’t Call Them ‘Shark Attacks’” screamed the headline from one of our national newspapers recently. The article that followed suggested we need to re-think how to describe the event that occurs when a human and a shark meet. The recommendation is to consider terms like “bite” or “incident” or “encounter” instead of “attack”.
I suppose there’s some value in this as a way of altering the public’s perception about sharks, one that is in many ways the result of Peter Benchley’s book and follow up film, “Jaws”. (Why, that name itself is enough to strike fear into any brain!)
I had the opportunity to learn a great deal about sharks when I researched and wrote my book “Shark Assault” (sharkassault.com). (By the way, I picked that title itself because I felt a shark “attack” suggested a finite activity while an assault has longer range impact. Indeed, for the lady I wrote about – Nicole Moore, a nurse on vacation in Mexico who was attacked twice by a bull shark and nearly died as a result – the ongoing impact has been huge.) In seeking to determine just why this shark had mercilessly attacked, not once, but twice, I had meaningful conversations with three of the world’s foremost experts on sharks: Dr. Gregory Skomal of the University of Massachusetts; Dr. Eugenie Clark, known internationally as “The Shark Lady” and founder of the Mote Marine Laboratory, who undertook her last ocean scuba dive at age 91; and George Burgess, ichthyologist, fisheries biologist and former director of the University of Florida’s International Shark Attack File that investigates every known shark/human “event” that occurs anywhere in the world. Here, in a nutshell, is what I learned:
-Sharks do not like eating people (they typically eat crustaceans, fish, seals, birds, squid, turtles, sea snakes, dolphins and even smaller sharks)
-Shark attacks are very rare
-You are more likely to be struck by a bolt of lightning, die from a bee sting or perish from sunstroke than be attacked by a shark
-Sharks do not attack in groups: they are solitary animals
Now, I’m not going to go into the causes of the attack that nearly killed Nicole (and indeed, it was an attack in every sense of the word), but what I will share with you is another story. Two years ago, 21-year-old Jordan Lindsey was in the Bahamas gently swimming in the sea when she was attacked (yup, that word again, and once again it’s being used accurately) supposedly by a group of three sharks. This event left her dead. I talked with George Burgess about this and he told me this:
I have not received any confirmation that three sharks were involved in the attack, having only seen one mention of that in the initial press report. Often a witness in the heat of the moment mistakenly ‘sees’ more than a single shark when in fact he-she is seeing the head and tail or other fins of a single animal. That said there were credible reports of more than one shark in the area, not surprising since the tour group was – I’m not kidding – swimming with pigs!
Most likely, however, other sharks may have come in close to observe, but only a single shark was involved in the actual attack. Bull sharks are very solitary by nature, in part because they are far less abundant than other species. In the Bahamas, the Caribbean reef shark outnumbers the bull by orders of magnitude.
I have not seen autopsy photographs of the victim. With those I likely could tell if one or more sharks were involved.
Really? Swimming with pigs!? And they wonder why sharks get interested.
But hold on here. Sure, we can devote evenings fueled by fine wine and debating whether to refer to attacks, events or bites, but what’s more crucial than language, I believe, is the fact that the shark population has declined by over 70% since 1970! This is largely the result of overfishing and the terrible practice of “finning” (the process of slicing off a shark’s fin and discarding the rest of the still-living body, often by dumping it back into the ocean where it suffocates). Sharks are today declining rapidly on a global scale because humans have replaced them as the ocean's top predators. Approximately 100 million sharks are killed globally each year, and one of the major incentives for this is the shark fin trade. Nicole Moore joins me and many others in wanting to protect sharks, adding, "I don't want to have a shark as a pet in my bathtub or anything, but I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. It wasn't the shark's fault. We need to save these creatures."
My friend Dr. Peter Sale noted marine ecologist and author of the book “Our Dying Planet” who has seen firsthand the degradation of coral reefs during the course of his working life, explained to me that sharks are the “policemen” of the ocean reefs. “They keep order down there. Without the sharks, chaos follows.”
So, bottom line: whether you get hung up on circumlocution in talking about sharks or not, let’s get behind the movement of safeguarding these magnificent animals before it’s too late. STOP FINNING!
I’ll give the last word to the late young filmmaker and conservationist Rob Stewart who said this about his love of sharks:
“You see the thing you were taught your whole life to fear, and it’s perfect,
and it doesn’t want to hurt you, and it’s the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen.”
Time out for todays’ rant, brought to you by the New Democratic Party of Canada. Specifically, by their leader Jagmeet Singh.
Mr. Singh is a Sikh of Punjabi descent. I am in no way putting down his religion: he’s welcome to follow whatever beliefs that get him through the night. I also think the man is an intelligent, well-spoken individual who believes his political opinions. But personally, I am against people of any kind flouting their religious beliefs at the public, especially in political environments. The only people who wear turbans are followers of the Sikh religion. It is very much a personal decision for any follower of the faith. Singh chooses to show off his religion, and I’m uncomfortable with that. The turban’s religious designation goes further by housing the uncut hair coiled on the top of the head. As well, Sikhs have unshorn beards and moustaches in respect of their God. Again, the NDP leader is welcome to follow his religious beliefs in private, but there’s no place for this in public political environments, in my opinion. What religious beliefs are showcased by O’Toole, Trudeau, Paul, Bernier, et al.? Don’t know, because they keep that out of politics. As it should be.
You are now being returned to your regular programming.
Ever wanted to sky dive? Well, here’s your chance to do just that while donating money to some great charities.
Leslie Farkas, co-owner of Skydive Wasaga Beach, has been granted permission to conduct a tandem skydiving event from Sept. 14 through 16, with landings on the beach at Wasaga for an event that will benefit two local non-profit groups as well as raising awareness about amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Given that I regularly support the ALS Foundation (https://secure2.convio.net/alsa/site/SPageServer/?pagename=WLK_landing&s_src=paidsearch&s_subsrc=google&gclid=Cj0KCQjw4eaJBhDMARIsANhrQAAXyX7IUWUuXjQecLXEQunghy5EJrNmF9Tp-IBP2_JZXyWaQp9-R3gaAv6SEALw_wcB) I want to showcase this initiative. Now, does that mean I’ll be sky diving? Ummmm…. don’t think so. But I will be a keen observer from the sidelines.
Farkas and his spouse and business partner Melanie Case are offering donors the chance to do a tandem jump with a skilled parachutist, taking off from Edenvale with a landing spot at the Wasaga Beach Sports Park. A jump will cost $599 with $100 from each jump being split between the Wasaga Beach Ministerial Food Bank, and the Friends of Nancy Island. Farkas said depending on the weather, they should be able to do about 20 jumps a day.
The connection to ALS, a progressive nervous system disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, causing loss of muscle control, is both related to Farkas’ aunt — who died of the disease in 2020 — and the honour of the first jump going to local woman Jane Cubitt. Cubitt has ALS and skydiving has been on her “bucket list” for some time. Canadian singer-songwriter Tom Cochrane is among those sharing his voice to support this initiative.
You can learn more here:
A friend recently told me he’d seriously consider any of the parties currently running in Canada’s national election if would shut down the CBC. “There’s such waste there and what do they do anyway?”
OK, can’t argue the waste factor. But as for the “what do they do there” question, I figure the CBC deserves to stay around (albeit with some serious fixes). They offer an important reflection of this country that is so difficult to attain when faced with the world’s biggest media juggernaut south of our border. The U.S. has a huge presence on the world stage and it’s certainly tough for us to be able to withstand that and recognize our own unique qualities as Canucks. But the CBC has always helped do just that.
Now, I’m not a huge TV consumer so won’t comment on the CBC’s presence there. But I am a big listener to CBC radio and feel they have some excellent shows. But that waste factor… well, it’s gotta be dealt with. Consider the line up for one of the Corp’s radio shows recently broadcast at the end of an episode. It included…
What? Surely all these people are not necessary to get a show on the air. We definitely need somebody to go in and clear house and get these programs functioning on smaller crews. It is possible, trust me.
But let’s not throw out the baby with the bathwater. CBC helps define what it is to be a Canadian. We need that.
In these trying times in which we live, it seems like it makes sense to take whatever actions we can to stop COVID in its tracks. You know, like getting vaccinated, wearing a mask in public places, washing your hands, drinking plenty of water…
We Canucks have an election coming up later this month and I’ve decided it just makes sense to vote by mail rather than venturing into public voting booths. So I went online, filled out the simple form and submitted it. Within 5 days, my “kit” arrived by mail. I mailed in my vote today. Simple as that.
If you’re interested in doing this too, here’s where you go:
Hi there. I've written 8 books so far and am working on others. Feel free to comment