January 17, 2012

Moving the "Port Hope Area Initiative" (PHAI) Forward

This subject is one that personally hits very close to home for me. So I'm very excited to report that Ottawa has given the green light to continued funding for the Port Hope Area Initiative (PHAI).

First, for those who don't know, I'll first explain what the PHAI actually is.

According to the chronology section of the PHAI website, Eldorado Gold Mine Ltd. began refining radium in Port Hope during the late months of 1932. By 1944, Eldorado Limited had been acquired by the Government of Canada and had already began the processes of refining uranium, an element considered useless before the age of the atom bomb.

During the remainder of the 1940s and all the way through until the 1970s, soil contaminated with low-level radioactive waste (LLRW) was transported from the refinery to various locations throughout the town. In an age before the long-term effects of radioactive exposure was fully understood, diverting the soil from the refinery to fill locations in town was considered the only logical thing to do. The soil could not be kept on the lands owned by the refinery because the company would eventually run out of land to fill. Once the potential hazards of the contaminated soil were understood, Eldorado immediately halted dumping the soil wherever was convenient. Since 1982, the low-level radioactive waste management office (LLRWMO) has managed the known areas affected by the LLRW throughout urban Port Hope.

Birds-eye view of Port Hope, the surrounding countryside
and the locations of the new LLRW diversion sites.
The PHAI is the new incarnation of the plan to rid Port Hope of any dangers as a result of LLRW exposure. Even though many consecutive tests and studies have been conclusive in labelling Port Hope a safe place to live, there is nonetheless concerns present over the future of the community and its longevity if the LLRW is not dealt with.

Today, Cameco Corporation operates the refinery in Port Hope. According to the company website, it was founded in 1988 through the merger of two crown corporations. The first was the Saskatchewan Mining Development Corporation and the second was Eldorado Nuclear Limited. Compared to the haphazard waste disposal of Eldorado, Cameco is a shining star of safety; packing the waste into canisters and disposing of it safely and legally in another location.

CP24 reported yesterday that the federal government has announced a 10-year, $1.28 billion funding plan to keep the project moving forward. This is very big news for Port Hope, which has been waiting for the funding guarantee to continue with the waste relocation. Located in the north-western extreme of the town (not the municipality), the waste site is just south of Highway 401 and west of County Road 2.

Despite the fact that it is the responsibility of the federal government to clean up the waste that was put there by Eldorado, a crown corporation, it is nonetheless impressive that things seem to be moving along so swiftly. In an age of budget cutting and deficit reduction, I'm quite impressed that the government has factored in the cost of the cleanup and is ready to go ahead and actually get the town back to how it was.

What I think is very important for you, my readers, to know is that the LLRW is not harmful to the general population as it sits. No new development is allowed in areas that are known to have been filled with the contaminated soil. As well, the PHAI is taking very calculated steps to ensure that the trucks moving the contaminated soil to the new waste site are to be sealed and carefully monitored.

Sure, things could go wrong with the project, but I am quite as ease with the steps being taken by the federal government to have the project completed within a decade. Also, the accident prevention plan that the PHAI is taking on should prove to make the soil movement very safe and rapid.

Many people, especially residents of Port Hope that are opposed to PHAI, are worried that by removing the soil from the locations it sits greatly increases the risks to the general population. This is a genuine worry, because no one fully knows what will happen when the soil is first dug up. Nonetheless, the potential development opportunities for the town when the soil is moved make all the risks worth it. Port Hope will finally be able to use large tracts of land in the urban areas of town that are currently quarantined because of the contaminated soil.

Above all, the idea that Port Hope will one day be "clean" is what is symbolically pushing the project forward. The pledge of $1.28 billion from the federal government will be able to accomplish this mammoth task.

In my opinion, its about time.

January 12, 2012

An Update to the Blog!

Just wanted to let my readers know that I changed some of the settings in regards to commenting on posts. I used to have it set to people who only had Google accounts and I moderated each and every post.

I think this may have, in the past, discouraged people from offering their opinions as much as they would have liked.

The good news is now anyone can post comments without any moderation on my part!

Regardless of this, I still hope that people only post things that are respectful and in line with the topic itself.

Looking forward to you all offering your opinions!


Breaking Monarchical Ties: Liberal Vision for a New Canada

I'll start with a question for you, my readers:

How do you feel about the role of the monarchy in contemporary Canada?

With the recent rebranding of the Canadian military to re-establish its once-prominent royal ties, the question of monarchical relevancy is slowly creeping back onto the Canadian political landscape. Whether or not the Conservatives intended for this to happen, the fact is that the question is being posed, and is worthy of being reported in newspaper articles.

According to Lawrence Martin of The Globe and Mail, the Liberal youth in this country are calling for a revisit to the idea of ridding Canada of its last formal ties with the United Kingdom.

Personally, I'm not a supporter of the monarchy. But, do I agree with the young Liberal position on the matter? Absolutely not.

You see, even though I would welcome a Canada totally independent of any other country, the fact is that this country must look at itself from a new perspective: a perspective of conservation.

In an age of globalization and a diverse, multi-ethnic population, many would make the argument that the monarchy no longer represents the "Canadian image". But, seeing as how ridding Canada of the monarchy would certainly not save the country any money, I don't see the purpose of going through the processes to do exactly what the Liberal youth are proposing.

The monarchy of the twenty-first century in Canada is nothing more than a symbol. A symbol of Canada's past, of the efforts of settlers who tamed the wilderness and built Canada into what it is today.

But enough massaging the text. The truth is that the monarchy is doing no harm to Canada in its current role, and is only filling the role of preserving Canadian history in a living, active and engaged institution.

I say this through the eyes of Canadians in July 2011. When newly married Prince William and Kate Middleton visited the country, thousands of Canadians put a halt to their daily routines and went out of their way to stand in crowds just to get a glimpse of the new royal couple. Their presence on the media scene has unarguably revitalized the institution of the British monarchy as a whole, in the UK and abroad. People see the new couple as young, engaged and active in regards to world issues, something that hasn't been seen since the days of Princess Diana.

So, do I think we should rid the country of the "royal burden"? No, absolutely not!

I know in my heart that Canada is a totally independent nation, one that completely controls every single aspect of its day-to-day activities and decisions. I do not believe this country needs to become known as a republic (or constitutional democracy, if you will) to prove to ourselves something that we all know is already the case.

I am a very proud, engaged and dare I say, opinionated Canadian. I am a Canadian first and would gladly sacrifice myself if I knew that it would in some way save this country from impending doom.

Canada does not need to sever its ties with the British monarchy, with our monarchy.
Canada should not sever its ties with Buckingham Palace, for now and for the foreseeable future.

One day, it may prove beneficial for this country to redefine itself.
But until then, I shall take the position of my party and offer as much respect and admiration for Queen Elizabeth II and her successors as is appropriate...

What are your opinions?
Please offer them by posting a comment!

All my very best,

January 11, 2012

What's New In Semester Two!

Hey Readers!

Imagine, a blog post that doesn't have a link to a news article! A first for Keep Right!

I've been regretting not doing this before now as of late, so here's to change!

This past Monday, semester two began at Trent University, as with a lot of other schools in Canada and throughout the world. With second semester, comes the second half of my Canadian Politics course. I know its strange for some to hear about a school that runs full-year courses, but its always been a fixture at Trent.

We had our introductory lecture today at 1300hrs, during which we were introduced to our new instructor and some new aspects about the second part of the course, outlined in an updated syllabus.

You see, in many cases, the courses that do run full-year at Trent are separated in such a way that they may as well be different courses with different course codes and textbook requirements. The latter is the reason I'm in favour of full-year courses (I don't have to spend any extra money on textbooks that for the most part, are barely used).

According to our new instructor, this section of the course will focus on the basic "building blocks" of Canadian political institutions, how they function, why they're in place and what effect on everyday life they have. He did warn that it would be a "drier" experience when it comes to course content!

For myself, I am already very well versed in the basics of Canadian politics as well as many advanced concepts. I've been politically active for a few years and feel that I have an excellent handle on Canada's political system.

What I think I'm going to get out of this section of the course will be the enjoyment and learning experience that I know I'll get from seminar participation. To tell the truth, the seminar I'm in is quite active, featuring many conflicting opinions while maintaining an air of respect and cordiality.

I'll post periodic updates throughout the coming weeks to tell you what we've been studying and my feelings and opinions towards the content. If nothing else, the semester should prove to be interesting!

For those who are looking forward to another one of my news article commentaries, another one will be coming soon, I promise!

January 09, 2012

Further Proof of What the Unions Have Become

(title acts as a link to the January 8th 2012 Toronto Sun article entitled "City won't play into unions' hands")

Alright, well I'll start this piece of writing by admitted something about myself. I am currently (and for the foreseeable future) a member of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) which represents me and my fellow employees at my place of work.

And you would think that this fact would automatically predispose my opinion to be in support of everything union.

But, you'd be sadly mistaken.

Those who I do support are those that often don't get properly represented during labour tensions: the employees themselves.

I know that, like myself, the vast majority of employees who're also members of the various labour unions just want to be able to do their jobs and get their paycheques. They just want to be able to pay the bills and keep on top of the everyday struggle of maintaining the Canadian ideal and quality of life.

But the unions seems to have something else in mind. In their crusade for higher wages, more benefits and a greater job "security", they are infuriating those who are actually signing and distributing the paycheques so desired by the employees (be the employer a government body or otherwise).

Further than simply widening the massive chasm between the employer and the the union, this attitude is being thoroughly tested by the budget crunch the City of Toronto finds itself in.

This is not a new problem; not even close. The financial pressure vessel in Toronto has been threatening to explode for many years. Yet, previous mayors and councillors in the city have ignored it and just decided that spending more money (they didn't have then, and certainly don't have now) would make the problem go away. It took the fiscal conservatism of the Rob Ford administration to reveal just how badly run the city has been in recent years.

"Stopping the gravy train at city hall" was arguably the mainstay slogan of the mayoralty campaign for Rob Ford and his supporters. Residents of Toronto voted him in with a strong majority. Now that his administration has revealed the extent to which the city has been deluding itself, the more liberal-leaning councillors and even some outspoken residents are viciously campaigning against the cuts to services needed to bring the bottom line back into the black.

CUPE local 416 and 79 are the representatives of nearly 30,000 inside and outside city workers, and are at the forefront of the crusade against the Ford administration.

Now, anyone who had any knowledge of municipal politics and the power paradigm prior to Rob Ford being elected would have definitively been able to say that the two political ideals would come into conflict sooner or later.

Now they have, in a big way.

CUPE leaders are taking out advertisements on television, radio and newspapers across the city and Ontario as a whole to drum up support for the demands they're placing on the city. But unlike previous administrations, they will not force the city to borrow money in order to meet demands that far outstrip the ability of City Hall to fund.

Because the whole story is still unfolding, I'll leave the details and further discussion to later posts.

Regardless of what happens, 2012 is shaping up to be a very interesting year on many fronts, especially in municipal politics in the City of Toronto.

January 03, 2012

2012: A More Active "Keep Right" Year

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all!

We're now two full days into 2012, a year that should prove to be quite interesting, both in Canada and throughout the world. We're teetering on the brink of another recession and international tensions haven't been higher in years.

Here are my opinions for the big newsmakers of the upcoming year (in no particular order):

1) Iran's nuclear ambitions and the international repercussions of imposing (or not imposing) sanctions/embargoes.

2) The financial crisis in Europe and what will happen in Greece, Italy & Spain.

3) The blatant and obvious human rights travesties in Syria at the hands of Bashar al-Assad's threatened regime.

4) The changing of the guard in North Korea and the potential destabilization of the region.

5) The upcoming elections in the United States. Will Obama get a second term or will Americans choose a Republican?

Just the news that is carrying over from 2011 is enough to realize that 2012 will be a very interesting and fast-paced year.

Myself, I will try my very best to write more this year. From what I can tell so far, I'll have no shortage of things to write about!

Thanks for all my readers, and I look forward to giving you all many things to think about!

All my very best,