Saturday, November 25, 2006

New World's Tallest

Okay, I realize that the CN Tower's record as the world's tallest structure isn't going to last forever. Eventually somebody had to build a bigger one, 'cause that's just the way things are in this world. But am I the only one who thinks the proposed design (see computer generated picture at right) looks just a little familiar? And if the appearance isn't enough, the leading corporation on this project is a railroad company! Even the description sounds like something I've read before.

"The new tower will be fitted with two observation platforms... It will sit on a triangular base and become cylinder-like as it stretches upwards."

Now I appreciate that there are only so many ways to build a tower, and what with form following function and all, there is going to be a certain similarity in any design - but really! Please, people, could we try to be a little more innovative?

cially since this tower will also replace another one that looks hauntingly familiar. Check out the picture on the left. Has a certain French feel about it doesn't it.

I recognize that imitation is in itself a form of flattery but I was hoping that when the CN Tower's record was toppled it would be by something not only taller, but more elegant as well.

But hey, that's just me.


Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Doing the Right Thing

I want to begin by thanking all of you who signed the petition at the Dominion Institutes's web site. This afternoon Canada's Parliament unanimously passed an NDP motion to offer the option of a full state funeral to the family of Canada's last WWI veteran. With only three veterans of that war still alive and all of them over the age of 105, it was important that this be arranged as quickly as possible. My hope is that this sets a precedent and when the time comes a similar honour will be extended to the last remaing veteran of WWII as well. I also want to thank all the federal parties for putting aside their politics for one hour and doing the right thing. As my friend Ella commented, it proves that they can work together when they want to. It almost gives me hope.

Then just when I'm starting to feel hopeful they go and return to their old (current?) ways. It amazes me that when the opposition can't find anything else to complain about they will actually criticize the government for doing the right thing.

This week Stephen Harper is under attack for his recent comments concerning China's human rights record and in particular their imprisonment of Canadian
Huseyin Celil. As you know Celil is accused of being a terrorist by the Chinese government and is being held by them without allowing him access to consular officials. Celil was arrested in Uzbekistan in March while visiting his wife's family. In June, he was extradited to China, where he could face the death penalty for an alleged involvement in "separatist" activities.

Meanwhile here in Canada all the opposition can do is complain about how Harper's tough stand on China's human rights record is jeopardizing Canada's economic relationship with the Communist country. It would seem that fighting for human rights is okay with interim opposition leader Bill Graham only as long as it doesn't get in the way of importing cheap electronics and sneakers from China.

All this tells me the Liberals haven't learned thing from the
Maher Arar affair. Are they going to allow another Canadian citizen to be tortured at the hands of a foreign government? Can they not see the total hypocrisy of their position on this?

Or are they sending the message that protecting Canadians accused of terrorism is a priority when doing so will poke a stick in the eye of American president George Bush; but, when doing so interferes with one of their favorite dictatorships it ranks much lower down?

I'm just glad that while the Liberals don't seem to get the danger of trying to balance human rights and the almighty dollar, at least our Prime Minister does.

“We were very critical of past governments for not vocally defended the interests of Canadian citizens who had been mistreated abroad, and I think when it comes to general human rights I think we have a general obligation to express our values,” Harper said. “But when it comes to the specific case of a Canadian citizen who is being mistreated, we have an absolute moral obligation to defend those citizens and express our views.”

Of course, given the Liberal track record of dealing with dictatorships and human rights abusers around the world, I guess it's understandable they don't recognize that what they are criticizing Harper for this time is simply doing his job. Holding other governments accountable for how they treat Canadians is what a government is supposed to do. Let's hope the Harper government keeps the job long enough to get it done.


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Lest We Forget

Each November we see a wide variety of things come to light that are intended to help us remember the men and women who have given their lives in the service of their country. Some of these are good and honourable ideas, others are just attempts to cash in on the emotions that run high at this time of year. Every once in a while however an idea surfaces that is an unqualified ' one of ' that makes you sit up and take notice. Today, I came across such an idea.

There are three Canadians left alive who served during the First World War. They are: 105-year-old Dwight (Percy) Wilson (shown in photo getting a kiss from his grand-daughter on his 105th birthday) and Lloyd Clemett and John Babcock, both 106. They are the last remaining links to the 619,636 Canadians who served between 1914 and 1918. Soon, when they too have passed on, there will be no one left to say, "Thank You" to from that terrible time in our history.

The Dominion Institute has suggested that when the inevitable day comes that the last of Canada's WWI veterans passes, they should, on behalf of all the 66, 655 Canadians who died in service to their country during that war, be given a formal state funeral. I fully agree.

The passing of the last WWI veteran will, in fact, mark the passing of a generation, even an era. We should do all we can to make sure that their sacrifice does not fade from memory. To give the last veteran a state funeral as a significant tribute to every soldier who died in WWI is by all means a very fitting act. I hope you agree as well.

I am therefore asking you to join with me in asking our federal government to do just that. There is an online petition available to be signed at . You may well have heard about this on the news by now, so what I have written here is not news. Some of you have already signed and for that I thank you. If you hadn't please take a moment to click on the link above and do so. You will receive a verification email that requires you click another link to verify your email address is a valid one. The whole process takes only a few minutes.

The passing of the last Canadian WWI veteran will only happen once in our entire history. Let's make sure it is an event that is well remembered.