Who's next after we get
the smokers on Inglis Place?
There is a group of citizens who congregate on Inglis Place, to the consternation of the downtown merchants.
These people tend to be poor and unemployed. They must have plenty of time to kill as they seem to spend large portions of their day with nothing better to do than to loiter and talk on the street. Sometimes they are loud. Often they smoke. It is worse in the summer months.
Of course, the poor and unemployed have just as much right to loiter on Inglis Place as you and I, but the merchants want them to move along as they feel that they are harming business by scaring away your average Truronian. Evidently your average Truronian quails at the sight of poverty, loud conversation and the unfashionably dressed. You wouldn't think we were Maritimers at all!
The merchants are enlisting town council to "move these people along" and to get them off the street. They want council to ban smoking - not in Truro, just on Inglis Place.
You see, it is well known that smoking is more prevalent among lower income Canadians than among those with high incomes. It, along with obesity, is linked to income and socio-economic status. The lower you go on the socio-economic scale the more likely you are to find smokers. That is why Maritimers tend to have higher smoking rates than, say, British Columbians.
And that fact gives the perfect tool to the downtown merchants and those members of town council who support them. If they ban smoking on Inglis Place - goes the theory - the smokers will have to go elsewhere and Inglis Place will be saved from their unpleasant presence.
This is called "social engineering." It works particularly well if the group you are trying to pressure off the street are poor. The poor, after all, don't really have a voice at town council or anywhere else. An attempt by town council to ban smoking for all of Truro might encounter resistance. But who cares about the concerns of a bunch of people who don't even have jobs?
I think we all should care. When you start to identify "target groups" for your little experiments, you don't know who will get hurt or how far things may go. The truth is, Afro-Nova Scotians tend to fall farther down the socio-economic scale in Nova Scotia. Are you trying to "move them along," too, when you ban smoking in one area? Or are you just focusing on your average white poor folks? Is your discrimination race-based - or just class-based?
What will be the next special interest group to enlist town council to pass a narrow law?
Mayor Bill Mills doesn't help the issue when he announces his very rare allergy to tobacco smoke. Evidently he is not bothered by wood smoke or car emissions. Just tobacco smoke which, it would appear from his telling, hangs in giant clouds on Inglis Place ready to engulf the innocent passerby.
Perhaps his "allergy," like those of many, is philosophical more than physical? Imagined more than real?
And, in the meantime, our town council is preparing to target a group who cannot speak for themselves and say "move along," on the pretense of smoking, when the real reason is they are just not wanted.
Why don't we move along to a better answer which targets strategies to bring new shoppers to Inglis Place, rather than pressuring other citizens out?
People who live on dirt
roads deserve plowing
My reason for writing is because of the disregard by the Department of Transportation of unpaved roads.
I live on a dirt road, but I can see Highway 289 from the end of my driveway. I realize that the main highways need to be kept clear and the secondary highways as well, and they do a good job of it.
But let's look at what happened in the last two storms we have had. After the first storm it was two days before my road saw a plow.
During the secondt storm we had even more snow and the only vehicles that went down the road were two 4x4s in the 36 hours since the storm stopped dumping snow on us.
So what happens in the event of an emergency? Do the emergency vehicles wait on the main road for a plow or do they risk getting stuck (or worse) trying to get in the road? I called the Department of Transportation (as I have done many times in the last 20 years) to see about getting a plow to make even a path down the road.
I have been told that dirt roads are the last roads done and if there were an emergency that they would pull a plow to plow the road. I think that it is not only dangerous but should make them liable if anything were to happen. I think that someone dealing with a heart attack, stroke, their house burning down or any other emergency situation should not have to wait for a plow so they can get help .
All I have ever asked is that a path be made down the road so that people and emergency vehicles can move. They will make 10 trips down a secondary highway even when the majority of it is clear, yet not once make a swipe on a dirt road. The day will come when someone will die or a house that could have been saved isn't, all for the sake of a path down a dirt road.
It's more than
time for a change
I was astounded to learn from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) that the salaries of Canada's top CEO's have reached unprecedented new heights.
So much for the economic meltdown.
While these characters were dragging in bigger and bigger salaries, upwards of 70,000 Canadians lost their jobs - 4,400 lost in November 2007 in Nova Scotia alone.
The rest of us are preparing to ride out the rough year ahead, while the country's top executives appear to be immune from any fallout.
According to the CCPA report, the 100 highest paid CEOs of Canadian publicly traded corporations received an average of $10,408,054 in total compensation in 2007.
Many of the top 100 include Canada's big bank CEOs, who recently received billions in a federal government bailout to purchase mortgage loans and energy CEOs who, until recently, were surfing the big wave of high oil prices.
Average CEO pay for the top 100 was up 22 per cent from its $8.5 million average in 2006. In contrast, the earnings of average Canadians rose by only 3.2 per cent - the best increase in the past five years, but a tiny fraction of the CEOs' pay hike and barely keeping up with inflation.
Many of these corporations have enjoyed several years of huge profits by gouging us at the pumps and at the bank machines.
As if to add insult to injury, now we have a premier that tells unionized workers to lower their expectations for this year, only to find out days later that he's given his own staff huge raises.
The late Tommy Douglas once said, "Courage my friends. 'Tis not too late to build a better world.'"
The good people of Nova Scotia need to summon up the courage to make sure that change happens … and soon.
Canadian Union of Public Employees
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