Author Archive

Best Quotes After The Scottish Referendum

- September 19th, 2014

referendum-flags

 

“Self determination, control of our own affairs — it was on a plate for us. We should have had it.”

— Oil engineer Bryan McDermaid

xxx

“Gutted. I think Scotland has thrown away a real opportunity here. I can’t believe 55% of Scotland voted against our country being a country.”

— Edinburgh engineer Alasdair Maciver

xxx

“We got a chance to vote. So that’s what I’m proud of, I’m proud that I voted yes.”‎

— Oban nurse Lindsay Burgar

JK-Rowling

“The status quo has been thoroughly smashed.”

— Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson

xxx

“Business as usual.”

— Post-referendum statements from both the Royal Bank of Scotland and Clydesdale Bank used the same words

xxx

“Bosses, bankers, billionaires and millionaires unite with Labour MPs, Tories, UKIP and the UK establishment to celebrate Project Fear.”

— Socialist Tommy Sheridan

xxx

“It’s a disappointing result but it sets the stage for going forward. As long as there are flaws, there will be calls for independence. You can’t put the genie back in the bottle once it’s out.”

— University student Calum Martin

xxx

“I love Scotland but I hate the way nationalists think they own the place. I don’t like nationalism. I think history proves it to be an incredibly dangerous thing.”

–Comedian Billy Connolly

russell-brand

“Scotland has by a majority decided not, at this stage, to become an independent country. I accept that verdict of the people and I call on all of Scotland to follow suit in accepting the democratic verdict of the people of Scotland.”

— Scotland’s separatist First Minister Alex Salmond

xxx

“The people of Scotland have spoken. It is a clear result. They have kept our country of four nations together. Like millions of other people, I am delighted. As I said during the campaign, it would have broken my heart to see our United Kingdom come to an end.”

— Britain’s unionist Prime Minister  David Cameron

xxx

“There can be no disputes, no re-runs, we have heard the settled will of the Scottish people.”

— David Cameron

white-house

“So now it is time for our United Kingdom to come together, and to move forward. A vital part of that will be a balanced settlement — fair to people in Scotland and importantly to everyone in England, Wales and Northern Ireland as well.”

— David Cameron

xxx

“It is absolutely right that a new and fair settlement for Scotland should be accompanied by a new and fair settlement that applies to all parts of the United Kingdom, … All this must take place, in tandem with and at the same pace as the settlement for Scotland.”

— David Cameron

alan-cumming

“The unionist parties made vows late in the campaign to devolve more powers to Scotland. Scotland will expect these to be honoured in rapid course.”

— Alex Salmond

xxx

“Let us not dwell on the distance we have fallen short. Let us dwell on the distance we have travelled and have confidence that the movement will take this nation forward as one nation.”

— Alex Salmond

xxx

“We can get on with being one Scotland together.”

— Museum worker Lesley Bryce

piers-morgan-1

And, in the end, what may be an ominous prophesy from PM David Cameron:

“We have heard the voice of Scotland — and now the millions of voices of England must also be heard.”

piers-morgan-2
Preferences
Preferences
Preferences
Preferences
Preferences
Preferences
Preferences
Preferences
Preferences
Preferences
Preferences
§
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
0
-
=
Backspace
Tab
q
w
e
r
t
y
u
i
o
p
[
]
Return
capslock
a
s
d
f
g
h
j
k
l
;
\
shift
`
z
x
c
v
b
n
m
,
.
/
shift
English
alt
alt
Preferences

Scotland’s Future Could Already Be Decided

- September 15th, 2014

Scot-postal-ballots

With  the countdown to Thursday’s referendum on Scottish independence now a matter of mere hours, the fight may already be over.

And if the voters of Scotland end up choosing separation over union with the rest of the “United Kingdom,” the British government has only itself to blame.

Why?

Because — chief among London’s many arrogant, wrong-headed miscalculations and assumptions — the Cameron government may have left it far too late in pledging to quickly “devolve”  much greater and more far-reaching powers to the Scottish Parliament if Scotland’s electorate votes “No” to independence.

You see, almost 20% of the eligible voters had already cast their ballots before Cameron’s desperate, 11th-hour sweetening of the “Better Together” pot.

Just under 4.3 million Scottish residents had registered to vote in the referendum by the Sept. 2 deadline and of those, about 850,000 had applied for the postal ballots that could be mailed in. Voters began receiving their mail-in ballots on Aug. 26 and most of those ballots had already been marked and returned by the Sept. 2 registration deadline.

Now here’s the thing: By the time David Cameron and George Brown and the rest of the panicked Westminster crew realized the “Yes” vote was surging and they desperately promised to give Scotland the sun and the moon to stay in the union, most of those mail-in ballots were already cast. Fully 20% of the eligible voters no longer had a chance to change their minds given the new circumstances.

I’m certainly not saying a great many of those voters would succumb to the temptation to change their minds … but some would. And in a referendum that may well be decided by a few thousand votes one way or the other, every single one of those mail-in votes could be decisive.

After all, in the 1995 Quebec referendum, more than five millions voters cast ballots and the decision to remain in Canada was decided by fewer than 55,000 votes.

In Scotland 2014, it could be equally close — and the future may have already been decided by those locked-in postal votes that are now in the bag.

 

When will we know the result?

The people of Scotland and Britain as a whole have been told they can probably expect to know the outcome of the Scottish independence referendum between 6:30 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. Friday morning, Sept. 19. That’s 1:30-2:30 a.m. Toronto time.

Scotland is divided into 32 voting districts. When the polls close at 10 p.m. Thursday night, the votes will be tabulated and the 32 local counting officers responsible for each district will phone in their district results to the central elections office, which will make the results public as each district reports.

Under the rules of the referendum, there will NOT be an official overall recount even if the final tally comes down to only a two- or three-vote difference. BUT … each local counting officer can order a recount for his or her particular district if such a decision seems necessary.

Given that circumstance, combined with the remoteness of some voting districts, it could be a  long night indeed — especially if the vote is as close as predicted.

In any case, you can almost certainly be assured that by the time you wake Friday morning in Canada, there will be a result.

If you want to follow the events of referendum day as they happen, here’s a link to the BBC’s live website coverage.

NOTE:  If you click on the above and it isn’t current, just click on the BBC website’s “home” tab and refresh at “Referendum Live.” But it should work fine. Hell, I didn’t design the BBC website any more than I designed the United Kingdom.

 

Preferences
Preferences
Preferences
Preferences
Preferences
Preferences
Preferences
Preferences
Preferences
Preferences
Preferences
Preferences
Preferences
§
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
0
-
=
Backspace
Tab
q
w
e
r
t
y
u
i
o
p
[
]
Return
capslock
a
s
d
f
g
h
j
k
l
;
\
shift
`
z
x
c
v
b
n
m
,
.
/
shift
English
alt
alt
Preferences

Unsolicited Advice To A 40-Year-Old

- September 12th, 2014

This advice is aimed at one particular 40-year-old, but I’m sharing it because I think — if memory serves correctly — it applies to the general time in life, not just the individual…

You’re 40. You feel like life is locked into a preordained cycle, with the only surprises now probably being unpleasant and/or expensive ones. The summer flower of your youth is past and you have nothing but the grey skies of winter ahead of you.

Forget about it.

Time speeds up now. You are going to be absolutely staggered by how fast the next 20 years pass. Don’t waste that time thinking you’re old, kid. Enjoy it. And damn the torpedoes.

Your life is not really over. Your life as an adult is just in its infancy. You don’t realize it now, but when you’re 60 you are going to look back to the Now You and say, “What a kid! Loosen up, grumpy guy!”

(I’m hoping I’m going to look back on the Now Me when I’m 75 and say the same thing. I’ll let you know when I get there.)

Like I said before, time begins to go faster and faster once you hit 40. The days no longer last forever. Hell, an hour passes in a minute when you’re 60. Don’t waste an hour or even a minute on irrelevant trivialities or needless anger or other people’s hang-ups.

Get on with the living and enjoying and savouring and appreciating. Plan for the future, yes, and work toward goals but don’t sleepwalk past the Now toward some Future Then because, believe me, Real Then is going to be nothing like you expected it to be.

Surprisingly, despite whatever adversities and denials and disappointments the world throws at you, you are probably going to be happier and more appreciative of the pleasures and joys of life when you’re 60 than you are when you’re 40. Maybe it’s wisdom (doubtful but possible). Maybe it’s just acceptance.

Maybe that’s just part of the life cycle, but I don’t think it has to be. If you grasp those fundamentals — relax, enjoy, appreciate, wonder — early enough, I think you’ll get a lot more satisfaction and fulfilment out of your 40s and 50s than if you go into that realm with the dogged determination to just survive and grind it out. What a waste of possibly the best two decades of your life that would be.

And don’t worry so much about your kids. They’re going to survive and make their own way in life pretty much no matter what you do. You can hurt them as much by over-protecting them as you can by neglecting them. Just make sure you’re there 100% for them when they really need you — they’ll tell you. And, for your own sake, spend as much time with them as they will allow — you will truly be surprised by how quickly they turn into adults. And this is an important one: Don’t let the love of your children be so dominant it makes your partner an emotional afterthought, a functionary of the family unit rather than the love of your life.

I know it’s hard to see the forest for the trees right now but believe me, kid — it’s a magical forest and what you thought were your long-gone best days were just preparation for the great days ahead.

Your best years aren’t over. Just your amateur years. Now it’s time to turn pro.

Enjoy.

Preferences
Preferences
Preferences
Preferences
Preferences
§
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
0
-
=
Backspace
Tab
q
w
e
r
t
y
u
i
o
p
[
]
Return
capslock
a
s
d
f
g
h
j
k
l
;
\
shift
`
z
x
c
v
b
n
m
,
.
/
shift
English
alt
alt
Preferences

The David Soknacki Blog Post I Never Posted

- September 10th, 2014

Soknacki

I wrote it weeks ago. I don’t know why I held off posting it at the time: Perhaps the municipal election still seemed a bit too far away or maybe I just wasn’t ready to publicly commit to a monogamous political relationship.

It’s too late now, in any case. David Soknacki has left the arena and I am bereft. Despondent, disconsolate, doleful, lachrymose, melancholy, saturnine and downright sullen. My political parrot is, in other words, dead and all I am left with is this Roget’s Thesaurus of crestfallen synonyms.

Not that it would probably matter. Soknacki had essentially no chance of winning the Oct. 27 election for mayor of Toronto. But if he had remained in the race, I would have at least had an honourable and responsible place to park my ballot.

Now? I wouldn’t — couldn’t — vote for any of the three leading candidates for the job, even if I held my nose. And I’m not holding my nose for any of those stinkers.

So, just as part of the mourning process while I evaluate my future voting intentions, I give you — uncensored and unexpurgated — The David Soknacki Blog Post I Never Posted, which would have been entitled …

 

Why I Plan To Vote For David Soknacki As Mayor

It’s safe to say a lot of people reading this are saying “David Who?” because, even though Soknacki has a well-established track record in city politics and was one of the first legitimate candidates to enter the mayoral race (and promises to still be in it at the end), he really hasn’t made a strong impact on Toronto voters.

The corollary of this is that many other people who actually do know who David Soknacki is (and maybe even admire him) will say, “Why would you waste your vote on Socks when he’s obviously not going to win? Your one vote could mean the difference in whether X, Y or Z becomes mayor. Could you live with yourself if X (or Y or Z, depending on your politics) won because you threw your vote away on Soknacki?”

The answer is, “Yes, I could. Easily. And proudly.”

Why, for God’s sake? Explain your kamikaze logic.

Simple. By voting for David Soknacki, I’m not throwing my vote away. I’m doing the right thing, as I see it. And that’s never a wasted vote.

A truly wasted vote, in my opinion, is casting your ballot for someone you don’t really believe in — and maybe don’t even like or trust — just because he or she is the lesser of two or three evils. In the end, you will always regret that wasted vote.

soknacki-kimmel

Now, don’t get me wrong: I do not support all of Soknacki’s positions and I don’t think he has the ability to solve all of Toronto’s myriad problems.

In fact, I’m on the opposite side of the fence from Soknaki on a number of issues. Take, for example, the proposed Scarborough subway extension, which I’m strongly in favour of and which is endorsed by mayoral candidates Rob Ford and John Tory (and previously by Karen Stintz before she flitted off in a snit).

I favour the subway option because it’s more robust, more integrated, more dependable and, in the long run (over the 100-year life of a subway line compared to the 30-year lifespan of an LRT), far more cost-efficient.

And it treats Scarborough as a homogenous part of the City of Toronto, not some poor-relative backwater which somehow doesn’t rate being on the same mass transit grid as the better-connected parts of the city. (Much the same way as the Bloor Viaduct finally stitched together the eastern part of Toronto with the central and western parts a century ago.)

Soknacki is opposed to switching from the already-approved LRT plan to the newly favoured subway plan, not for ideological or opportunistic reasons, but because he believes it’s the right thing to do

Soknacki has, by far, the most comprehensive and thought-out (and consistent and believable) position of any of the mayoral candidates when it comes to urban transportation and fighting gridlock and building infrastructure.

He’s laid his platform out forthrightly and clearly (well, as clearly as a techo-nerd can, given his commitment to accuracy and objectivity) in a number of detailed policy papers, while his higher-profile opponents dither and slither and pretend their airy-fairy transit plans are even possible (especially within the time and financial frameworks they fantasize about).

Meanwhile, Soknacki chugs along, looking for realistic, affordable, effective ways of  reducing — if not outright eliminating — Toronto’s current traffic nightmare and keeping Canada’s largest, most economically important city from grinding to a halt while we wait for some promised miracles decades down the road.

And part of that co-ordinated, progressive quest is Soknacki’s mantra: “Politicians should never interfere with the construction of new transit routes that are already designed, engineered and funded.”

He’s right, of course. If you keep changing horses in mid-stream, you’re all going to drown eventually.

Having said that, I firmly believe it is just plain stupid — if not criminally irresponsible — to keep throwing tons of good money at a demonstrably bad idea, just because it’s been approved already.

I still firmly believe that LRTs don’t hold a candle to subways when it comes to reliability and endurance — especially in a Canadian winter — but Soknacki is good to go with the Scarborough LRT. He says it can provide necessary capacity at subway speeds at a fraction of the cost and in a fraction of the construction time compared to the proposed Scarborough subway.

Soknacki knows his stuff — much better than I — so even though my gut keeps telling me “Subway,” I am prepared to accept his evaluation of the situation and take his word that the Scarborough LRT will not be a colossal white elephant 10 or 15 years down the road.

Because I trust him. Because I know he’s done his homework and his grunt work. Because I know he’s got a good mind and a good heart. And because I know he isn’t distracted and blown off course by gusts of passing fancy and visceral enthusiasm and blinkered ideology and self-serving partisanship and mindless jingoism.

When Soknacki is asked a tough question and you see, in his eyes, that his brain’s going clickety-click, you can be pretty sure the main thought going through his mind isn’t “How is this answer going to help me personally?” It’s “What is the right thing to do?”

If he was the self-serving type, he wouldn’t lay himself open to attack by openly saying he would consider new transit taxes as part of a comprehensive, rational transportation programme that deals with everything from getting the downtown relief subway line underway to properly automating the transit system to keeping the city’s road infrastructure from caving in on itself to finding better, more efficient ways of moving people and goods in and out of the city.

Take something as simple as this: He would introduce — immediately and without fuss — early bird TTC fares to get more people on buses and subway trains when they’re less crowded and service is better.

He would clear core roads of onstreet parking to keep traffic moving better. He would look for solutions that involve more smart thinking and innovation than throwing gobs of money at a problem in the hope it will go away.

That’s just transit, barely scraping the surface of transit. And Soknacki’s miles ahead of his opponents in that regard. In my opinion, anyway.

He’s got well-thought-out plans for bringing the police services budget under control, for getting council out of its dysfunctional funk and bringing all regions and sectors of the city into the decision-making process.

He’s actually got plans for dealing with the crises of Toronto homelessness (yes, it’s real) and the breakdown of the city’s social housing fabric while expanding rental market housing and protecting the homeowners who carry most of the tax burden in this city — and doing all of this with existing tools, not whining and waiting endlessly for the province or federal government to ride to the rescue with saddlebags of imaginary cash.

Most importantly, he knows what he’s talking about and knows how to put his words into action. He’s not a gasbag or blitherer or ditherer.

So I’m planning to vote for David Soknacki on Monday, Oct. 27.

I may change my mind over the next two months, but I doubt it. David Soknacki might not be wildly charismatic, but he is very experienced and smart and thoughtful and honest and responsible and consistent and genuine. He’s a good person and I am pretty darn sure he can (and will) do what he says he wants to do.

In the end, I trust David Soknacki. What greater virtue could you seek in a mayor?

 

Preferences
Preferences
Preferences
Preferences
Preferences
Preferences
Preferences
Preferences
Preferences
Preferences
Preferences
§
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
0
-
=
Backspace
Tab
q
w
e
r
t
y
u
i
o
p
[
]
Return
capslock
a
s
d
f
g
h
j
k
l
;
\
shift
`
z
x
c
v
b
n
m
,
.
/
shift
English
alt
alt
Preferences

REWIND: If Canada Was Scotland …

- September 7th, 2014

UPDATE: The Scottish referendum on independence is now less than two weeks away and, for the very first time, a reputable public opinion poll — published in today’s Sunday Times, no less — puts support for the Yes Scotland side slightly ahead of the anti-separation Better Together side.

I really have no sense at all which way the final vote (including results of a massive mail-in ballot) will go. The YouGov poll (which has the separatists ahead) apparently shows the culmination of a massive shift in support over the past month. Other polls have shown no such radical shift. So we will just have to wait and see.

In any case, Sept. 18 is going to be a fascinating — perhaps momentous — day for Scots and political armchair quarterbacks everywhere. And I still stand behind everything I wrote in this (unrevised) blog post.

Here’s a link to the original posting of this Nosey Parker piece back on June 15, if only to see a number of very interesting comments attached to the original.


saltire-face

“Should Scotland be an independent country?”

— the formal question in the Scottish referendum to be held Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014

 

 

I have a bet with my son — a brilliant and learned fellow who is a much more astute and pragmatic political observer than I am — about the upcoming Scottish referendum on independence from Great Britain.

His position — probably the winning one — is that the majority of Scots will vote to remain within the warm embrace of the so-called United Kingdom.

My betting position is that the Scots will buck up their courage and shed the shackles of centuries of English domination, re-assert their native independence and say “Up yours, Whitehall b’stards!”

I’m pretty sure I’m going to lose this bet. So be it. We all choose our own destinies.

 

Here’s a link to the Wikipedia entry on the Scottish independence referendum if you want to delve more deeply into the complexities of the issue. I urge you to do so. You may come to a different conclusion than I do, and that’s fine by me.

 

But consider this …

What if Canada was Scotland and the United States of America was the United Kingdom or Great Britain or whatever you want to call the island queendom?

After all, Britain wasn’t “Great” until the English bribed and cajoled and bullied and manipulated and cheated their way into political mastery of Scotland three centuries ago.

I know, I know — that sounds like some ancient blood feud, but it’s not. Three centuries is a mere blink of the eye in the grand scheme of things. People in the Mideast, Europe and Asia are still killing each other over things that may or may not have happened 500 years ago or a thousand years ago or two thousand years ago.

And there were many times — four at a bare minimum — during those three centuries that the present nation of Canada could easily have been absorbed into the hungry maw of the United States of America.

That was, after all, the ultimate plan of the U.S. founding fathers and their successors — Manifest Destiny, the creation of a grand empire encompassing the entire North American continent. Great America, in other words. Much bigger and better than piddly Great Britain over on the other side of the Atlantic.

And that annexation could have occurred many times over if not for the likes of John A. Macdonald and his ilk. And luck. And fortuitous timing.

Now I’m not putting the U.S. down here. I was, after all, born in the U.S. and I’ll defend to their early graves the suicidal and/or homicidal right of all Americans, regardless of their mental state, to bear arms and slaughter each other and their children and their children’s children. I just think it’s a dumb approach to life.

But, hey, I don’t live in the U.S., so it’s not my problem any more.

Yet…

If Canada was Scotland and had been absorbed by the more powerful and populous nation to south, the border would be meaningless and America’s problems would be the former Canada’s problems.

Granted, Canada and the U.S. are joined at the hip economically — although the U.S. War on Terror is doing everything it possibly can to impede the free flow of trade between two sovereign nations.

And granted, Canada is — as that subversive separatist (separating Canada from the U.S.) Pierre Trudeau put it so picturesquely — a mouse sleeping in the same bed as the American elephant.

Canada is definitely a junior partner in the North American consortium.

But …

Canada is not  part of the U.S.

Canada is surviving quite fine, thank you, despite the fact that Canada’s natural resources could probably be exploited more efficiently and profitably if completely under the umbrella of American law and corporate dictate.

And, yes, that efficient, profitable exploitation of Canada’s natural resources — and Canadian whiskey too, I guess — might mean a slightly higher income for the average Canadian.

But at what cost?

Would you, as a Canadian citizen and national stakeholder, willingly give up the independence — however illusory — of your country to our southern neighbour?

Would you trade your Canadian birthright for swift approval of an oil pipeline or cheaper six-packs of beer? (By the way, Canada could — and should — have much cheaper beer without giving up national sovereignty. It’s just a case of government cutting back a little bit on the usurious taxes imposed on alcohol.)

We are so lucky.

We don’t have to step into the unknown. We don’t have to try to wrench our society and our economy out of the larger organism of Great America. I think it would be almost impossible to do so, just as it is probably impossible for Scotland to break free from the only form of government and dependence that 15 generations of Scots have known.

Scotland-UK-map

Scotland’s predicament could so easily have been Canada’s.

Canada could easily have been absorbed by the United States in 1867 — the same year the U.S. bought Alaska from Russia — instead of becoming an independent nation.

Canada beat the odds. Scotland didn’t. That’s the only difference.

Do you really think the London money men would give two figs about Scotland — or give Scotland a dime — if it didn’t have oil? Do you really think the New York money men would give two figs about Canada — or give Canada a dime — if we didn’t have oil and water and other coveted natural resources?

And the only difference is that Canada is an independent, sovereign nation and Scotland is a … bump on the rump of England. What a terrible place to be.

Imagine if, when Scots go to the polls on Sept. 18 to vote in their referendum, Scotland was an independent nation and the Scottish people were voting on whether or not to join England in a new union.

Do you think they would really vote to give up their independence and nationhood in that circumstance any more than Canadians would?

I certainly don’t.

Instead, Scotland has been held in thrall for so long that comfortable but recalcitrant subservience seems the normal state of being, not an unacceptable abberation.

And the fear mongers do their job well: “If you venture outside the harem, you will starve on the streets.”

It’s hard not to compare Scotland’s relationship to Great Britain with Quebec’s relationship to Canada.

I, for one, always had a problem with using threats and holding a hammer over Quebec’s head to maintain Canada’s territorial integrity. I don’t think threats and warnings of dire consequences and implied violence are a good basis for nationhood any more than they’re a good basis for a personal relationship.

So I’m glad we’re through that phase of the Quebec-Canada relationship and into a more positive, aspirant interlocution.

Yes, it’s going to be interesting to see what happens in Scotland’s Sept. 18 referendum.

As I’ve already said, I think the majority of Scots are going to opt for the safe, the known, the tolerable, the secure option of remaining a junior clerk in the United Kingdom counting house. They may have a twitch and an itch before marking their ballots, but the majority will almost certainly go down on their knees.

I’m just glad Canadians aren’t in that position. Yet.

UPDATE FROM THE GUARDIAN ON LONDON’S PANIC: “The debate has intoxicated Scotland. Feeling involved in something BIG has intoxicated Scotland. People have seen the opportunity to seize power. It has become worthwhile to take an interest in political issues, achieve an understanding of them, discuss your own understanding with others, start formulating your own ideas.

“The possibility of informed consensus, real democracy, rising up from the people, has become real. Why would Scotland turn its back on this, now that the tang of it hangs in the air? Many undecided voters, when they find themselves in the voting booth, will be asking if they want this feeling of involvement, of agency, of purpose, to end? Many will vote yes, simply because they don’t want it to end. Why would they?”

Preferences
Preferences
Preferences
Preferences
Preferences
Preferences
Preferences
Preferences
Preferences
Preferences
Preferences
Preferences
Preferences
Preferences
Preferences
Preferences
Preferences
§
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
0
-
=
Backspace
Tab
q
w
e
r
t
y
u
i
o
p
[
]
Return
capslock
a
s
d
f
g
h
j
k
l
;
\
shift
`
z
x
c
v
b
n
m
,
.
/
shift
English
alt
alt
Preferences