Thursday, March 22, 2012

Ranting on Fisheries

I typically don't use my blog as a venue for ranting but on this occasion I can't keep it to myself.  Recently there has been talk, and numerous newspaper articles, about the position of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.  Apparently they wish to slim down the fisheries act so that permit application processes are completed in a more timely fashion and so that fewer projects will trigger the need for a Canadian Environmental Impact Assessment.  That information (no official statement has been given on this) alone would not usually send me into a rant but on the same night I heard this I happened to watch the documentary movie "The Last Mountain."  I'll let you watch this on your own and form your own opinion, but I think it was a well presented movie.

In Ottawa the Conservatives are apparently comparing "environmentalists" to al Qaeda or the Taliban quotes the "Ottawa Citizen."  What?!  First off, I have been long unimpressed with the way in which people throw the word "environment" around.  In most Environmental Assessment documents it will state something to the effect that the purpose of the assessment is to ensure the project will not have a minimal impact on the local economic, societal, and ecological values.  If you then take environment to mean those three values then I suppose those in power in Ottawa might have an argument on one of the three and only if they are looking no farther than their own nose.

Environmental assessments generally assess the current conditions in a community, its long term sustainability, and its ability to provide a healthy environment for its residents to prosper for many generations comparing the current assets to those that might (stress might when reading this) develop if large projects are carried out.  In my opinion, the economic component of the assessment is given to much weight, and not enough weight is given to the natural environment or ecological function of the project area. 

If DFO moves forward with the plans to streamline the Fisheries act then this set of environmental scales will be tipped even further towards the economic values.  These will likely only lead to short term economic gains for a small portion of the impacted population while the rest will likely suffer.  In the long term, all involved will no doubt suffer from poor water quality, poor ecological conditions that will lead to health issues, and further to that a project might result in an environmental accident that we will be required to clean up using tax payer dollars. 

I'm not against business and if I was all about making money for myself then I wouldn't blame them but, our government should hold them morally accountable for the manner in which they make their money.  If they want to make money simply for themselves then waiting for our government, who has a responsibility to all tax payers, to conduct an environmental assessment, should be no issue.  For those of us who are not totally dependent on financial wealth for our sense of accomplishment, and for those who care about future generations, I think it is time to let your MP know how you feel.  Write him/her an email or letter and if you need help finding them try this link:

The DFO website states:
“The government has been clear that the existing policies do not reflect the priorities of 
“We want to focus our activities on protecting natural waterways that are home to the fish Canadians value most instead of on flooded fields and ditches.”

I have a hard time with the statement in that I can't believe that Canadians don't want to protect their natural beauty and habitats.  I think most Canadians realize that if we manage our waterways for simply one or two species of fish then they are no longer a naturally functioning waterway and that the ecological balance within that watershed could be threatened which could lead to who knows what.  Further, flooded fields and ditches, in many instances play a role in the life cycles of many fish and animal species and need to be considered on a case by case basis, but if we dismiss them all then it is like throwing the baby out with the bathwater. 

If our MPs feel that the economics, rather than our long term future, is more important then it is likely the changes being suggested to the fisheries act, and possibly other environmental laws, will be carried out.  If you want your kids or grandkids to have an opportunity to fly fish for a salmon this might be a turning point in that natural battle or as some are touting it, war.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A Father Daughter Picnic

What a beautiful day it is out there.  The sun is shining, the temperature is above seasonal, and you could easily say spring is in the air.  I come out of the hockey rink this moring and instantly felt a bit happier as the sun shone brightly on my face.  Coaching hockey this morning was a bit difficult as my son wasn't there as he and his mother went to Saint John to take in Ray's Reptiles.  This however, meant that I could spend some quality time with my daughter.  After I picked her up from some generous friends who baby sat her while I was at hockey, we went home and packed a lunch for a picnic and play day.

We hiked a short distance to the nearby Sullivan Park.  It shouldn't have taken much more than 10 minutes to get there but since we went her pace, it took close to 40minutes.  Needless to say by the time we got there we were both pretty hungry.  I pulled out the veggies, fruit, and her favorite PB&J sandwiches and chowed down as the sun glistened off the snow covered fields next to the park.  We watched Canada Geese feed on the left over corn in those same fields as the dog barked.  The more the dog barked the harder Shaylee would laugh. 

After some Oreo cookies it was time to get to playing and swinging and as we finished eating we were surprised to see a good friend of Shaylee's stop in at the park to play as well.  We all played "you can't catch me" and laughed away the afternoon.  On the way back home Shaylee once again jumped in every mud puddle and climbed every snow bank.  She played hard enough to earn a cup of hot chocolate and a movie when she got home.  As she is only two I thought she might fall asleep after that hard afternoon but instead she danced to every song on the cartoon movie.

It was a great father/daughter day and I hope we get to spend many more just like it.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Like Father Like Son

I've had an interest in writing for a long time.  I can remember being in Sussex Corner Elementary School and writing a "Hardy Boys" type story in my writing journal.  I loved writing but as a kid I suppressed this desire to be cool as I felt young boys were to play hockey and explore outside.  I don't regret these decisions I made as a young boy but I sometimes wonder how my life would be different if I had focused on my writing instead of athletics. 

Recently I have recognized a similar battle taking shape within my six year old son.  He has taken a strong interest in reading and writing while trying to get him to hockey in the morning is a bit of a challenge.  It was made even more apparent recently when he had one of his stories published in the Sussex Corner Elementary School Newsletter for March 2012.  I'm a proud father so I'm going to share it here.  To be accurate I'm not going to correct the spelling mistakes as I think it shows his true mind.  Keep in mind he is six years old so many of the words are well beyond his expected reading level.

Here is what he wrote:

"Have you ever gon skating?  One day I went skating.  It was on Sunday at my aunt Beckees after cherch.  My aunt Beckee put on my skates.  When I got on the ice I slipt and fel.  I hit my head.  I thot I should of had my helmet on.  I didn't beecos my Dat thot I didn't need it.  So I sat down.  My aunt Beckee found a helmet so I put it on.  I went to play hockey with my kosen Kiele and somebody els.  Then I saw a side by side.  I stuck my stike in the snow and climbed on.  We foload coyote tracs.  Everee tiem he foload the coyote tracs into the woods he saw a rabit.  Beefor I went home I had another ride.  I had alot of fun."

So now that he is writing and communicating like an adult I have to be more cautious as he can rat me out when I make a mistake, such as not putting a helmet on him.  In my defense I opted to put a thick hat on him to keep his head and cheeks warm.  Thankfully he wasn't hurt to badly and he still enjoyed the day well enough that he wrote about it.  I will be making an effort to encourage his creative side while hopefully balancing it with his more active side.  I believe that each benefits from the other.

Dad is proud of you buddy.  Keep it up.  Love you.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Steeping a Spot of Tea

When I am stressed, tired, frustrated, or even cold, there is one thing that is guaranteed to make me feel better.  I love tea.  I'm not into fancy teas but I'm easily comforted by a darkly steeped cup of orange pekoe tea.  Over the many thousands of cups I have learned a few things about how I like my tea and how to get the best out of it.

If you follow my blog it won't surprise you to find out that I prefer to drink my tea while camping.  If I'm backpacking along the Fundy Coast, there is no better tea than when I brew it over my whisperlite stove on a cool spring morning at Goose River.  If I'm not outdoors or in my own kitchen then where can I find a good cup of tea in and around Kings County. 

Ok, I'll admit it, I love my Tim Horton's.  Most of the time this is where my tea comes from.  I love going to my local Tim's and see who is there to chat with and knowing that when I get to the counter the servers simply confirm my order.  Tea is about comfort and Tim's is pure Canadian comfort.  They aren't the only coffee shop around though.

Break Away Cafe, Main Street, Sussex, has a more professional atmosphere than Tim's.  When you add the wireless internet to the mix it blends well for an enjoyable cup of tea.  After my banking I will stop in and meet a colleague for a coffee break.  The smaller space and the Main Street location makes the place feel cozy and you can easily engage in a sophisticated discussion without needing to raise your voice to be heard.  The tea is not on steeping when you come in so you can make it as weak or as strong as you like.  Typically I like a strong cup of tea.  If you can see the bottom of the cup before adding milk, it's too weak for me.  While you wait for your pot to steep you can surf the net or chat with friends about the latest political movements or sports trades.

I prefer a little milk in my tea over cream.  I find the cream gives the tea a pasty after taste and this takes away from the enjoyment of the cup.  The water is important too.  Luckily, throughout most of Kings County, NB, we are blessed with good water as the quality of the water in your tea makes a difference.  If you like your tea at the Tim Horton's here in Sussex, you'll likely be highly dissappointed with the same Tim Horton's product in Oromocto.

The cup you put your tea in is important too.  It should keep the tea warm for a long time, fit perfectly to your hands, and instead of having a full set, it should be one of a kind.  Don't ask me why, that's just the way I like it.  So right now I'm sitting enjoying a cup of tea, writing this blog post, and listening to some country music which, by the way, is also an important ingredient when blending the perfect cup of tea.  Enjoy