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Writer-s-Bloc

What happened to us?

By Rob Murphy

When did Canada start settling for mediocrity?

Canada used to be a leader in the world. We built things — innovative products — were seen as important military allies.

There are monuments in Europe honouring Canadian contributions in the First and Second World Wars.

  • We invented and built the Canada Arm.
  • We discovered Insulin.
  • We invented basketball!

The list of Canadian contributions to the world could go on and on and on.

Lately, it seems we have lost that drive for excellence — we are content to be mediocre.

Why?

When I bring this up with colleagues or friends, I am told that we don’t have a large population, that we are too geographically spread out, that we are doing the best we can with what we have.

I disagree.

For example, as I write this, we are 23rd of OECD countries in COVID-19 vaccines administered
per 100 people.

Just below the middle of the pack. Behind countries such as Iceland, Estonia, Lithuania, Chile, even Italy.

If you believe federal polling, Canadians seem to be largely OK with this.

I am not.

British Columbia, where I live, the health minister was praising his governments progress on vaccinations, stating:

“We are making excellent progress with the supply we have; we are ready to receive vaccine and deliver it as quickly as possible.”

The reality is that, while there were challenges with federal shipments, the vaccine roll-out has been anything but quick.

Ask a B.C. pharmacist.

Ask a 72 year old, many of whom don’t have appointments for another month.

I’m in my mid-40s, and don’t expect a jab until at least September.

Looking to the federal picture, our procurement started late, and we have paid a price for that.

Almost all of our fellow OECD countries were signing deals for vaccines in May and June.

Canada signed its first real deal in August.

  • We were late identifying COVID as a threat.
  • We were late to restrict international travel.
  • We were late to advise Canadians to mask up.

We were late and Canadians have suffered and some have paid the ultimate price.

I could dedicate another column to our failures on long term care.

Our leaders shrug and say that we need to be OK with just being average.

  • That it isn’t their fault — it’s a federal/provincial/municipal issue.
  • That we did our best.

We didn’t do our best.

I’m not OK with being average. I don’t care about jurisdictions.

I want to see our leaders strive for excellence — to push beyond jurisdiction and obstacles.

Strive to be great, not make excuses for being average.

For example, I want to see an urgency applied to getting as many Canadians vaccinated in the shortest period of time.

Every hockey rink, church basement, gas station, residence, warehouse, farmhouse, henhouse, outhouse and doghouse should be a potential vaccination site.

I want to be amazed that every time I turn around, someone is pulling their sleeve up for a needle.

The only way out of this dark tunnel is with a vaccine. We have known this for a year — so presumably we have had time to prepare.

Make it happen.

We need to feel hopeful again. We need to be proud again.

So what else can we do now?

We can demand that all of our elected leaders at every level collaborate on solutions— not just in lip service and photo ops — but to obtain tangible results.

  • Excellence on project management.
  • Excellence on our building an economy that works for everyone
  • Excellence on supporting our less fortunate
  • Excellence on protecting and sustaining our environment

We can demand excellence of ourselves too.

  • Be more vocal about the issues that matter to us.
  • Volunteer to help in our community.
  • It’s all hands on deck and Canada is counting on all of us to get involved.

Excellence does not need to be a bad word.

The world is watching — let’s put on a show.

Rob Murphy is a political staffer, and organizer who has been involved in political discussions since he could form words. He learned everything he knows about politics from his Popups and resides in West Kelowna with his wife and son.



171668


Carbon tax will cost you

By Kris Sims
Troy Media

British Columbians are now paying even more to heat, eat and drive to work.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s most recent carbon tax hike has found a willing follower in British Columbia Premier John Horgan.

When Team Trudeau was fighting against several provinces at the Supreme Court of Canada, saying he should be able to impose his carbon tax on them, Horgan jumped to Trudeau’s side like a duck on a June bug.

It was sad to see.

The man who used to oppose the B.C. carbon tax is now leading a government that takes more than $1.6 billion per year from people via the tax.

Horgan’s wish came true, and the Supreme Court sided with Trudeau.

Horgan has signed on to Trudeau’s carbon tax backstop, handing that power over to Ottawa. The backstop is a mandatory minimum carbon tax on fuels.

The B.C. carbon tax went up to $45 per tonne on April 1.

That means the carbon tax now costs 9.9 cents per litre of gasoline, 12 cents per litre of diesel and 8.8 cents per cubic metre of natural gas.

It will now cost an extra $7 in the carbon tax to fill up a minivan, $12 extra for a pick-up truck and $65 more for one big rig diesel truck tank that delivers everything.

If you think you’re avoiding the carbon tax by riding your bike, think again.

Farmers use fuels to produce our food. Grain producers use natural gas to dry their crops and every agricultural product uses diesel to move to market whether they’re moving on roads or rails. That makes food more expensive.

While the carbon tax culprits are hidden on our inflating grocery receipts, politicians can’t hide the carbon tax on home heating.

The average home uses 2,700 cubic metres of natural gas per year, so that means about $240 extra in Trudeau’s carbon tax each year.

That’s real money.

That’s how much a weekly load of groceries for a family of four costs. That’s how much ten nights at a Vancouver Island campground costs. That’s a year of new shoes, boots and sandals for four kids.

And it’s going to cost a lot more soon.

Trudeau is jacking the carbon tax up to $170 per tonne by the year 2030.

Within nine years, it will cost $27 more to fill the family minivan.

By 2030, natural gas will carry a carbon tax of 33 cents per cubic metre, costing an average new home more than $890 extra per year. Many will pay more, including families who use furnace oil and propane.

Some believe that they will get all this money back through a rebate, but it doesn’t work like that in B.C.

Carbon tax rebates vanish entirely once a two-person working family earns a $59,000 salary per year. To qualify for the full $901 annual rebate, a family of four would need to make less than $41,706.

The average family income is $84,000 per year. The rebates do nothing for everyday people.

The carbon tax doesn’t even work. Emissions in B.C. are going up. They’ve gone up 10% in the past three years.

Just because the court says the carbon tax is legal doesn’t make it right.

Governments of the people can still scrap this expensive failure.

It’s up to us to fight back and tell politicians that we can’t afford their carbon taxes.

Kris Sims is the B.C. Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.



Another scandal bites PM

By Michael Taube
Troy Media

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Liberal government are dealing with two major controversies involving our military. Both situations went from bad to worse in 24 hours.

So did the possible fate of a minister of the Crown.

The first controversy involves Gen. Jonathan Vance. He served as chief of the defence staff for the Canadian Forces from July 2015 to January 2021.

Vance faces allegations of inappropriate behaviour with two female subordinates. According to Global News, one allegation pertained to an ongoing relationship, while the other was with a young female soldier in 2012.

Then-prime minister Stephen Harper appointed Vance to replace Gen. Thomas Lawson a few months before losing the 2015 election to Trudeau.

Harper’s former chief of staff Ray Novak told a parliamentary committee on March 22 that the Conservatives looked into a “rumour” of an inappropriate relationship involving Vance and a female subordinate in 2001.

The matter was set aside after then-national security adviser Richard Fadden said no code of service discipline violations were identified.

Novak also told the committee that Harper met with Vance in March 2015. The now-retired general was asked by the Harper “if there was anything else he should know.”

Nothing was revealed.

“Clearly, when, six years later, we have these very serious allegations brought forward by Maj. (Kellie) Brennan, if they are true – and as I said earlier I have no reason to doubt her,” Novak stated, “that means the general was not truthful when he met with the prime minister.”

The timeline with Vance and the current Liberal government is a different matter.

Former military ombudsman Gary Walbourne’s testimony to the committee on March 3 revealed he brought information about one allegation to Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan in 2018.

“I did tell the minister what the allegation was,” said Walbourne. “I reached into my pocket to show him the evidence I was holding. He pushed back from the table and said, ‘No.’ The minister didn’t want to see the evidence.”

It got worse on March 26. Janine Sherman, a deputy secretary to the cabinet, contradicted Sajjan’s earlier statement to the committee that he wasn’t involved in a pay raise for Vance that occurred after the allegation had come to light.

(“I’m not involved in any of the performance pay,” Sajjan said on March 12. “It has nothing to do with cabinet.”)

Here’s what Sherman told the committee: “The minister is consulted in the annual performance management program in respect of [governor in council] appointees within his portfolio. Those annual reviews are the basis for salary adjustments.”

The day following that testimony, another military controversy became public knowledge.

Admiral Art McDonald, Vance’s successor as chief of defence staff, stepped down on Feb. 24 due to an allegation of sexual misconduct.

Global News tweeted on March 27: “the sexual misconduct investigation into CDS Admiral Art McDonald is looking into an allegation of sexual assault.”

This was an astonishing shift in the narrative of this ongoing investigation.

Global News Ottawa bureau chief Mercedes Stephenson interviewed Lt. Heather Macdonald on The West Block.

The 16-year veteran of the Canadian Navy was frustrated that someone leaked the original story to CBC and “tried to steal the due process that I deserved and that Admiral McDonald deserves as well.”

Macdonald didn’t discuss the case, for obvious reasons. Nevertheless, she confirmed Stephenson’s question that there are “two systems” at play in the military when it comes to sexual misconduct allegations involving junior and senior members.

She also told a parliamentary committee, “It is a very well-known management rule that without the personal engagement of the senior leadership, there will be no change in culture.”

This controversy is also under Sajjan’s watch. We don’t know whether the minister was aware of this allegation, which has become far more serious. However, he certainly would have been involved in McDonald’s vetting process in some fashion.

With these two major developments in two explosive military investigations, and the dark clouds of controversy refusing to relent, how can Trudeau continue to allow Sajjan to remain in cabinet?

Sajjan should either temporarily step aside or resign as defence minister until both investigations are complete. If no direct or indirect connection is established, he could return to this position immediately.

Ministers in previous federal governments, Liberal or Conservative, would have taken this honourable step. Sajjan, a former lieutenant-colonel in the Canadian Army, should follow their lead and do the right thing.

Michael Taube, a Troy Media syndicated columnist and Washington Times contributor, was a speechwriter for former prime minister Stephen Harper. He holds a master’s degree in comparative politics from the London School of Economics.



171596


Food affects mental health

By Zahra Tromsness

One in five Canadians will experience a mental health problem or illness, but many may not be aware of the relationship between the food choices we make and our mood.

The proper balance of nutrients can help to build essential brain chemicals, which regulate mood, and prevent damage to the brain, which impacts memory and thinking. This Nutrition Month, I’m highlighting some of the key nutrients in food to help your brain function at its best.

B-Vitamins

Did you know that B-vitamins, including Thiamine (B1), Riboflavin (B2), Niacin (B3), Pantothenic acid (B5), Pyridoxine (B6), Folate (B9), and the well-known vitamin B12, play a significant role in various brain functions?

B-vitamins help to produce energy, repair and build DNA, as well as create neurotransmitters, which regulate mood. To meet your daily requirements, try incorporating a variety of whole grains, leafy vegetables, fish, eggs, poultry, meat, and legumes to your diet.

If you are vegan or vegetarian, consider speaking to your doctor or a dietitian about taking a B12 supplement.

Vitamin D

In Canada, it’s very difficult to get enough vitamin D through sunlight for most of our seasons, even when adding the limited food sources of vitamin D (such as oily fish, liver, egg yolks and fortified foods) to our diet.

In fact, Health Canada recommends a daily vitamin D supplement of 400 IU if you are over 50 years old.

The sunshine vitamin is not only important for bone health but plays a role in brain development and function. A deficiency in vitamin D has been linked with dementia, schizophrenia, depression, and autism.

Talk to a health care professional or dietitian about if you may benefit from more vitamin D in your diet or a vitamin D3 supplement.

Omega-3s

Did you know that Omega-3 fats are important for normal brain development and function? Omega-3 fats and their subtypes EPA and DHA are an essential component of cell membranes and may help to reduce inflammation.

These healthy fats have also been shown to influence your gut microbiome and the gut-brain axis, which play an important role in mental health and wellbeing.

They are mostly found in fatty fish and seafood including mackerel, salmon, anchovies, trout, herring, sardines, fortified eggs and vegetable sources including kelp and seaweed (wakame).

Don’t like fish? Omega3 fat ALA can be found in nuts and seeds, plant oils and soy products.

Probiotics and fibre

It’s no secret that there is a connection between our gut and our brain. Increasing research points toward the bidirectional gut microbiota-brain axis playing a role in our mental health.

We can support a healthy gut by feeding its microbes the foods they like, including whole grains, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables, as well as a variety of fermented foods such as fortified yogurt, kefir, kimchi, and sauerkraut.

As your local Your Independent Grocer registered dietitian in Kelowna, I am here to help you reach your nutritional goals. Whether you’re looking to support your mental health, general wellness or other concerns through healthy eating, dietitians such as myself provide a range of services to help. To learn more, visit yourindependentgrocer.ca/dietitians.



More Writer's Bloc articles

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About the Author

Welcome to Writer’s Bloc, an opinion column for guest writers to share their experiences and viewpoints with our readers.

Do you have something to say that is timely? of local interest? controversial? inspiring? foodie? entertaining? educational?

Drop a line. [email protected]

Opinions expressed in this column are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent those of Castanet. They are not news stories reported by our staff.



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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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