Writers are meant to be nasty

May 30, 2012

On Voltaire the writer.

VOLTAIRE

‘That nasty man who did so much good.” Paul Valéry

Is it because Voltaire wasn’t afraid to be nasty that he did so much good? Almost certainly. There is no convincing evidence that writers can do their job by being nice.

And why should they be nice? To be asked to dinner? To be part of a corporation of writers, which like all corporate groups rewards discretion? To be rewarded with money, prizes and titles?

Nice writers are usually working for someone or senile or in the wrong business. Those who have done the most good, as Voltaire pointed out, have “mostly been persecuted.” The nasty sort continue to be persecuted in most countries. In the West they have to deal with more sophisticated assaults such as bankrupting lawsuits and job loss. Worst of all – in this society of expensive communication systems – they are threatened by irrelevance.

What about their messy personal lives, their greed, their jealousies, their hypocrisy? Who cares? Voltaire himself had a more than average number of flaws and contractions. He still created the language which ended a regime.

Writers aren’t supposed to be life models or religious prophets, clean of mind, clean of body. Nor are they supposed to be loved.

Their only job is to make language work for the reader. That is the basis of free speech. Whatever the vested interests of the day may be, they invariably favour an obscure language of insider’s dialects and received wisdom.

So the writer turns nasty. It’s a public service.

– The Doubter’s Companion: A Dictionary of Aggressive Common SenseJohn Ralston Saul, Penguin Books, 1994, p. 306.


The Ontario Ombudsman can now investigate the role municipalities played within the Midhurst Secondary Plan fiasco.

December 10, 2014

Provincial law was exempted to green-light the Midhurst sprawl plan. “Who did what, when” is now open with a simple telephone complaint to Mr. Marin’s office.

Andre Marin3

With the passage of Bill 8 Tuesday, Ontario ombudsman André Marin’s sights are particularly set on municipal councils, which he described a year ago as being addicted to secrecy.

The Toronto Star reports in Ombudsman André Marin looks forward to his new powers:

“As of the implementation of this bill we’ll be overseeing 443 municipalities . . . as well as 83 school boards and 22 universities representing roughly $30 billion in provincial expenditures that up until now have been going under the radar,” he said…

Marin’s sights are particularly set on municipal councils, which he described a year ago as being addicted to secrecy.

It is no surprise that there are strong forces (direct and indirect) that resist this oversight of public money and policies.

“I think history has shown . . . that municipalities need all the help they can get. This is an area fraught with controversy, conflict of interest, low oversight, whether it’s Brampton, Mississauga, Toronto, Sudbury and London. The list goes on,” he said.

As recently as July, municipalities made it clear they didn’t want Marin to stick his nose in their business.

Notably, the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) highlighted on its website that municipalities will be able to apply to a court to determine whether the Ontario Ombudsman has jurisdiction to investigate a complaint.

Opportunism in public or private enterprise relies on two things: self-interest and deceit.

Mr. Marin has a public reputation for sincerity and fearless truth-seeking.


More Ontario municipal conflicts of interest allegations involving politicians taking care of their corporate friends.

November 24, 2014

The publics’ tolerance for the  way corporations influence politicians is changing. At least for the dumb and dumber varieties.

As fords

A good story from CBC.ca drawing in my old franchising friend, Canada Bread and Maple Leaf Foods and wastewater, is called As Fords exit mayor’s office, conflict probes intensify:

The proposed fee hike would have raised Maple Leaf’s wastewater surcharges by between 35 and 75 per cent, according to city estimates, potentially representing a total yearly increase of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Both Ford brothers voted against, helping defeat the proposal 22-18.

Coun. Mike Layton, who was pushing for the fee hikes, said it would have been straightforward for the Fords to declare an interest without complicating council’s deliberations.

“You declare a conflict of interest, you leave the room for that vote, and no one pays any attention to it,” he said in an interview. “It’s not rocket science.”

As usual, it is the single voice that sounds the alarm.

The third complaint, a court action under Ontario’s Municipal Conflict of Interest Act, alleges the Fords voted on and tried to influence agenda items at City Hall affecting their company, Deco Labels, and some of its customers. Even with Doug soon to be out of office and Rob in a lesser role, the civic activist who brought the case said her plan is to “see it to its end.”

“The vagaries of an election don’t give you a pass for past behaviour,” said Jude MacDonald, who noted the stakes are high: She’s asking the judge to ban both Fords from holding municipal elected office for the maximum seven years.

And one of the Fords wants to be the Ontario tory leader?

 


The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that you’ve got it made.

November 20, 2014

Jean Giraudoux

Only the mediocre are always at their best.

– Jean Giraudoux 1882 – 1944


How generous will exiting Simcoe County politicians & staff (in county, agencies and townships) be to themselves with our tax dollars?

November 12, 2014

And will the 32 county councilors (53% who are newly-elected in “stunning reversals“) follow through with their promises of better transparency by publicizing ANY payouts to exiting individuals?

Simcoe County logo

An interesting article today in the Toronto Star about the defeated Brampton mayor and councillors, Defeated Brampton mayor to receive $375,000 payout:

Susan Fennell, the highest paid mayor in Canada in 2012, will leave her Brampton office with about $375,000 in retirement and pension benefits.

The mayor, trounced in October’s municipal election by former Brampton MPP Linda Jeffrey after an expense scandal, will receive $297,232.26 in a retirement allowance from the city after serving for 26 years, according to Brampton city staff.

Fennell will receive another $23,922.36 in pension benefits, which are paid out by the city to councillors in lieu of a pension, and at least $50,000 more in retirement benefits for her work on the Regional Municipality of Peel Council.

This is called by the mayor-elect Jeffrey a “self-made golden parachute”. In addition to being the hightest paid mayor in Canada in 2012, a Deloitte audit found that staff violated city spending rules 266 times. Lawsuits against exercising freedom of expression continue to highlight the need for oversight over municipal activities.

Last week, Fennell issued a notice of libel to councillors John Sanderson and Sprovieri for remarks they made to the Star about the expense scandal that Fennell claims were defamatory.

The Star was also served with the notice of libel, the second of two threatened lawsuits against the newspaper.

The Star stands by its reporting.

Springwater Township’s council-elect has, especially, increased their business experience and skill level while setting what I think is an appropriate circa-2014 transparency and accountability standard.

The individual ability has been called forward by the electorate across this great county.

  • Will the openness electoral promises be realized within the 16 county municipalities by voluntary disclosure of payouts?

Ambition is the death of thought.

November 7, 2014

Certainly it is correct to say: Conscience is the voice of God.

ludwig wittgenstein

Quotes:

The truth can be spoken only by someone who is already at home in it; not by someone who still lives in untruthfulness, and does no more than reach out towards it from within untruthfulness.

If you use a trick in logic, whom can you be tricking other than yourself?

Philosophy unravels the knots in our thinking; hence its results must be simple, but its activity is as complicated as the knots that it unravels.

Ludwig Wittgenstein 1889 – 1951


Remembrance Day at Springwater Park

November 3, 2014

In these difficult times, it is good to remember.

Remembrance Day 2014 1

 

Please join us. If you’d like to help, please contact Wayne Cameron.

The ceremony is special. Please see what Donna Hawthorne had to say about last year’s:

Springwater News
November 21, 2013

Remembrance Celebration at Springwater Park
Donna Hawthorne

This is my letter of great appreciation to all that were involved with the organizing and preparation of the special Remembrance Day celebration that took place at Springwater Park in Midhurst.

It was like no other celebration that I have ever attended in the past. The ceremony opened with Reverend Black from Tiny Township. Rev. Black was very involved with Site 41. He spoke with eloquence and ascendancy. The cenotaph is surrounded by giant spruce trees which swayed in the wind as the bagpiper played. It was a treat to have the young people from Eastview Secondary School recite the names of the “Vespra Boys”, sing with heart “Amazing Grace” and lay a wreath. The native people attended and also laid a wreath. I thank them for their diligence and warm strong heart for remaining on this special park. It was nice to see two representatives of our Springwater Council, Councilors Jack Hanna and Sandy McConkey. They laid a wreath representing the township. This memorable celebration was attended by over one hundred residents who encircled the cenotaph with their memories of ones they lost and for the “Vespra boys”. I hope they all went away with optimism in their hearts that this will be a new beginning for Springwater Park. It must be the responsibility of Simcoe County Council and Springwater Township to work strongly with the Ontario government to better preserve and save this historic park for future generations to come.

With heart and hope!

Donna Hawthorne


Time to vote in the Springwater Township leader you want.

October 27, 2014

I will be voting for change.

ctv1

CTV Barrie reports yesterday in Springwater Township election crucial:

The Midhurst Secondary Plan will be on voter’s minds in Springwater Township as they head to the polls Monday.

“There are a lot of issues at stake here,” said Springwater resident Peter Kaukola.

The Midhurst Secondary Plan will see more than four thousand new homes built on farmland in the Midhurst area.

Incumbent Mayor Linda Collins says the environmental safety of the project is one of her main concerns.

“It will bring first and foremost environmental protection to over 1,200 acres that are deemed to be environmentally protected,” says Collins. “The stringent conditions around the build will set the bar for the province.”

Alternatively, mayoral candidate Bill French says “it offends all the policies of the province and it was only allowed to proceed because the last two mayors lobbied for it and so a special rule was put in place by a minister.”

Tony Guegis, the third mayoral candidate in Springwater, says he want more information before making a decision.

“The first thing I’m going to do is send out a message to the province that we want to sit back down and go through the chronology of how this is to happen and see what we need to do,” he says.

Municipal and school board election polls are open Monday from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m.

 


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