Archive for August, 2009

West Kelowna fine dining

August 29, 2009

Today was our anniversary so we celebrated by going out for supper at Georgio’s Bistro in West Kelowna.

We had never been there for supper but have had lunch there on a number of occasions, where we always have one of their Greek omelettes, which are fabulous. However tonight was the full meal deal.

We had heard that their scallops were absolutely the best, so we ordered them and the prime rib as the second dish. Two excellent choices. The scallops were beyond excellent and the prime rib was as good as it gets. It was an amazing meal.

Great appetizers as well. My wife really likes calamari but I find that too often they are rather rubbery. Not tonight. If I could be guaranteed calamari that good every time I ordered it, I would be a convert.

Georgio’s is a small family run restaurant and in my opinion simply as good as it gets. If you’re looking for a fine dining experience it comes highly recommended.

The high cost of green power

August 28, 2009

The B.C. government, in its August 25th Speech from the Throne, reiterated its intent to press forward with alternative power sources.

This government will implement an aggressive strategy to turn the challenge of climate change to our citizens’ economic advantage.

Green energy will be a cornerstone of British Columbia’s climate action plan.

Electricity self-sufficiency and clean, renewable power generation will be integral to our effort to fight global warming.

The BC Utilities Commission will receive specific direction.

Phasing out Burrard Thermal is a critical component of B.C.’s greenhouse gas reduction strategy.

Further, this government will capitalize on the world’s desire and need for clean energy, for the benefit of all British Columbians.

Whether it is the development of Site C, run-of-river hydro power, wind, tidal, solar, geothermal, or bioenergy and biomass — British Columbia will take every step necessary to become a clean energy powerhouse, as indicated in the BC Energy Plan.

Government will use the means at its disposal to maximize our province’s potential for the good of our workers, our communities, our province and the planet.

While these forms of power require greater investment, in the long run, they will produce exponentially higher economic returns to our province, environmental benefits to our planet and jobs throughout British Columbia.

I wonder when it will come back and bite us on our financial asses as it apparently has done in Ontario.

Today it became public that Hydro One has asked the Ontario Energy Board for permission to raise the cost of distribution to all Ontario customers an average of 9.5% in 2010 and 13.3% in 2011 to cover $266 million dollars in costs relating to their four year Green Energy Plan for 2010 to 2014. By 2011 the impact of this $266 million will be an average increase of 24.3% over two years on the delivery portion of every Ontarian’s hydro bill. Because each public utility is a customer of Hydro One, it doesn’t matter who sells you your electricity – this impacts you.

Between the provincial government driving up our gasoline prices to discourage us from driving and the very real possibility of our power costs rising as the province pushes for alternative energy sources, B.C. could become an increasingly expensive place to live.

Flumian spins the gun registry

August 27, 2009

Maryantonett Flumian who was the federal bureaucrat who ran the Canadian Firearms Centre for a year and a half was recently part of a two person panel discussing the early days of the federal gun registry.

Flumian was brought in to take charge of the program when it looked to be in serious trouble and had the potential of being a major embarrassment to her political masters.

Flumian was a pistol with a reputation for taking on tough jobs and making things work. She could be charming when she needed to be, but if you crossed her she could cut you off at the knees and throw your legs away. Talking to people who had worked under her in other departments, I got the distinct impression that it could be a stressful assignment.

For gun owners at the time, next to Justice Minister Alan Rock, she became the face of the gun registry. And it wasn’t a face that they loved.

It would be interesting to hear the inside story of this period in time from someone who had first-hand knowledge, but that is unlikely to happen. My take on it at the time was that Flumian was brought in as a ‘fixer’ and was told to make the program come together come hell or high water and damn the expense. And that is what she did. I don’t think that the Liberal politicians at the time gave a tinker’s damn as to what the registry cost just as long as it was made to work.

But the high cost of success has haunted them ever since.

From Flumian’s comments on the panel she wasn’t too enamoured by the pressure applied by  gun owners.

Canada’s controversial gun registry was the country’s first scandal at the dawn of the Internet age, says Maryantonett Flumian, who ran the Canadian Firearms Centre for 18 months in the late 1990s.

The early Internet allowed average Canadians to express their outrage about the cost and complexity of the gun registry, she said.

But it also allowed a small minority to hijack the issue, sometimes using mistruths, said Flumian.

“Particularly the anti-fire arms registry lobby was very adept at getting their message out,” she said yesterday. “It went viral.”

(snip)

“It was the first time when you could watch that (Internet) campaign actually play out,” said Flumian. “It (the Internet) both helps democracy and sometimes allows a small group of people, especially in the early days … (to dominate an issue).”

I get the feeling that democracy only comes into play when it agrees with the government’s direction.

Flumian “now runs the non-profit Institute on Governance think tank in Ottawa that helps governments govern effectively”.

For some reason that amuses me.

Corner Gas: The Sign is Down

August 17, 2009

When I was traveling through Saskatchewan this spring, I drove through the town of Rouleau; the home of the TV program Corner Gas. I always got a kick out of seeing the Gas Station and Ruby’s Cafe there along the side of the highway. Also the old elevator across the road with town identification of Dog River rather than Rouleau, which apparently confused the odd tourist passing through.

Of course Corner Gas completed its final season last year and is no more. The movie prop is still there but sadly changed. The signs are down and it sits like any other abandoned building.

Corner Gas final 02

Rather sad and lonely looking.

But the elevator still said Dog River!

Hunters, Anglers and Gun Owners: Fighting for your rights

August 13, 2009

I had lunch with a friend a few days ago, and we were talking about the issues of gun control and the attacks on hunting by various groups and individuals.

He pointed out that the anti-groups ask for the moon and settle for something less, while we try to defend the status quo. By doing so, we lose our rights, bit by bit and piece by piece.

He argued that we need a different mindset. We have to go to the table with the intent of of getting more and not just maintaining what we tentatively have. We need to push the limits of the government bureaucrats and the politicians.

We may not convince them to give us what we are asking for, but we may – not right now, but somewhere down the road – realize other concessions.

The key is that we don’t go in once, get rejected and then quit. The object is to keep coming back to the table to make our case.

Thus we should be pushing for the right to hunt with a handgun.

We should be demanding that transport permits for restricted and prohibited firearms be part and parcel of the firearms licence.

We should be demanding the right to carry a handgun in the backcountry for protection, rather than being forced to pack the weight of a long-gun.

How about making them take some of those firearms off their arbitrary prohibited list rather than worrying about which guns they will next add to the list.

We should make them justify the existence of the pointless and stupid laws that are currently on the books.

Why is a shotgun with a 16 inch barrel from the factory legal, while a shotgun whose barrel has been cut back to 16 inches is illegal?

Why are noise suppressors illegal? Wouldn’t their use make eminent sense in noise sensitive areas?

We need to demand more hunting and angling opportunity for resident hunters and anglers. There is room for more opportunity – we are just not being allowed to access it.

The problem is that too many of our organizations don’t want to take the hard line. Hell, they don’t want to take the semi-hard line.

But the animal rights, the anti-gun and the anti-hunting groups have no qualms about pushing their agendas and they haven’t been disenfranchised. In fact, they have identified people within governments who, if not favourable to their views, are not willing to stand up against them.

It seems that no-one else seems to have any problem pushing their agendas. Just us.

But the blame for our weak bargaining position doesn’t lie solely with our organizations. Every gun owner, hunter and angler needs to become educated about the issues and get personally involved at some level, whether it be letting their organization know what they expect from them, communicating their concerns to politicians and government staff or informing the public of the issues. Some people are there now, but not enough.

To be overly dramatic: We either fight or die.

Duck killers arrested and sentenced in Saskatchewan

August 11, 2009

Apparently the three young men who went on a random shooting rampage, killing ducks and grebes on the water and shooting at songbirds , have been arrested somewhere near Saskatoon.

Of course the bizarre part of the whole incident was that they took a video of themselves doing the shooting and then brilliantly posted their killing spree on the internet.

I am constantly amazed by the stupidity of some people. Did these guys not consider that by posting their video on YouTube they were setting themselves up for prosecution? But then the basic question is why they would video themselves doing something illegal in the first place.

There was a great public hue and cry over this story and especially from the hunting community.

Hunting groups dread this type of story because invariably the perpetrators are identified as “hunters” by the media rather than as “poachers”.

But frankly, I don’t think that these guys even deserve the respectability of being called poachers. They are simply vandals, killing wantonly for some kind of cheap thrill.

And a late news flash! The trio were sentenced in court today, Monday August 10th.

David Fraser, James Fraser and Jeremy Rowlands pleaded guilty to breaking several federal and provincial wildlife laws in an incident that sparked widespread public outrage.

The video, which was shown in court, shows the men laughing and cheering each other on as at least two of them use rifles to shoot the ducks and ducklings.

“Did you get the baby?” asks one of the men while another calls it a “massacre.”

“I totally regret that day,” James Fraser told the court after entering the guilty plea. “I’m very sorry that everybody had to see that.”

The men stood side by side in court and apologized for their behaviour. They said they were new to Saskatchewan, having recently moved west from Ontario, and were not aware of the hunting laws.

Justice Doug Agnew suggested that was no excuse.

“The risk of harm was pretty substantial,” said Agnew. “It’s pretty clear that you committed the offence intentionally.”

The men pleaded guilty to unlawful hunting, hunting out of season, discharging a firearm from a vehicle and leaving edible game to be wasted.

They faced a maximum penalty of $100,000 for the provincial offences and $300,000 under federal laws, with the possibility of six months jail time. Agnew accepted that they were remorseful and fined the Frasers $5,000 each and Rowlands $6,000. He also ordered them to turn over the rifles.

Unfortunately, although convicted, they didn’t seem to have any understanding of the ethical lines that they had crossed.

Outside the courthouse, David Fraser said the men “really didn’t think” their actions were reckless.

“At the time that we did what we did, we didn’t know it was a crime and we had no idea that bullets ricocheted off water,” said David Fraser. “We made every effort at the time to make sure that there was nothing within eye view on the horizon of anywhere that we shot and the footage shows that.”

When asked why they posted the video on YouTube, Fraser said: “Because at the time we thought it was funny and it wasn’t a crime. We thought we were just having fun, really immature, stupid fun.”

Fraser said the experience has been educational and they learned a lesson about Canada’s hunting laws.

The “experience was educational”? They have no concept that what they were doing was morally and ethically wrong and to them it was just a bit of an education on Canada’s hunting laws. How encouraging is that?

At least someone got it right.

Brian Petrar with Environment Canada said the case really had nothing to do with hunting.

“It was people using birds as target practice,” he said outside court.

The Big Book of Irony

August 6, 2009

I was recently browsing the discount tables at Chapters (I’m addicted to $4.95 hardcover books) and came across a little book titled The Big Book of Irony by Jon Winokur (Canadian cover price of $24.95. How can you resist?)

A book on irony seemed too good to pass up so I dropped my money on the counter and headed home with my new reading material.

Inside I found this wonderful little poem by Samuel Hoffenstein.

Your little hands
Your little feet
Your little mouth -
Oh, God, how sweet!
Your little nose
Your little ears
Your eyes, that shed
Such little tears!
Your little voice
So soft and kind
Your little soul
Your little mind!

Worth the $4.95 right there.

The risks of citizen’s arrest

August 6, 2009

My initial reaction on reading this story was one of indignation that he was charged by the police.

A looming court case has changed the way David Chen runs his Chinatown grocery store. The 35-year-old has stopped displaying plants and small items on the side street beside his Dundas St. W. market – once an easy target for shoplifters.

[snip]

The charges stem from an incident in late May when a man allegedly stole a box of tree plants from Chen’s store. When the suspected thief returned to the shop, Chen and two of his employees chased him down, bound his hands and feet, put him in a delivery truck and contacted police.

But on sober second thought………

Unfortunately, Chen probably doesn’t have a legal leg to stand on, and although there is obviously sympathy for his predicament all he can hope for is a judge who will recognize his good intentions and be lenient in his judgment.

I need to begin the preamble with the obvious statement that I am not a lawyer nor do I play one on TV. However, my take on it is that if Mr. Chen had caught the thief in the act of stealing his property and detained him at that time he would be in a much more defensible position.

Unfortunately for Mr. Chen the guy that he and his employees ran down and tied up had not been charged with any crime except in Mr. Chen’s mind. He may have been the thief and then again it could be a case of mistaken identity.

Either way, I doubt that a judge will take too kindly to a citizen taking vigilante action and even though there is public sympathy for Chen’s plight I would think that the Crown probably has no other option except to prosecute..

Just when we thought it was over

August 3, 2009

Things had seemingly settled down and life has returned to normal – our evacuation alert had been canceled – when the Terrace Mountain fire to the north of us flared up again. The reports were that the fire was 90% contained and they had let almost all of the people that had been evacuated up on the Westside road back into their homes. Then the winds picked up, this time from the west and the fire took off again, jumping from 4500 hectares to 7500 hectares overnight. All of those poor folks got evacuated again and the Westside road has been closed once again to traffic.

We couldn’t see the fire from our viewpoint but friends across Okanagan Lake said that they watched it come over the ridge towards the lake and of course towards the settled areas. Then, fortunately for the westside residences the wind switched so it was now coming from the north and drove the fire south along the ridge. They figured that if the wind hadn’t switched the fire would have been very quickly right down to the lake with disastrous results.

I have been more concerned about this fire than I was about the Rose Valley fire that had burned right behind us, although if the winds had been blowing from the west it could have been a different story there as well.

But if the Terrace Mountain fire were to keep moving south it could very easily put our area at risk. However it is still quite a distance from us. Hopefully that won’t change.

The smoke is extremely heavy right now. We couldn’t see across to the city of Kelowna this afternoon and it is laying thick around us this evening.

We took a drive into Kelowna tonight to see if we could could look back across the lake and get a glimpse of any fire activity. The smoke was so heavy we couldn’t determine if the fire had subsided somewhat or if the smoke cover just hid it.

I guess the only surprise to me on this fire is that it didn’t happen years ago. I used to spend a fair bit of time in that bit of country close to 20 years ago and I figured then that if a fire ever started over there it would be a dandy. There was a tremendous amount of ground cover ripe for a burn even then and now, two decades later and with the added fuel from beetle killed trees, I can only imagine how volatile it is.

On the positive side, if they can manage the fire with no loss of homes or lives it will end up as a great habitat enhancement project.

Selling out Peter for Paul’s Benefit

August 3, 2009

When I started to read this article by Paul Craig Robert, I was intrigued by the title: Gun Control: What’s the Agenda?

Now I thought I always knew the gun-banners’ agenda. It was, and is, to get rid of guns owned by civilians. I also thought that I knew some of their motivations.

We’ve heard the arguments hundred of times. Banning guns (so the theory goes) would materially reduce crime, suicides, fatal accidents, violence in the home and make the public domain for all intents and purposes a a safer place and although it might not create a utopia but it would be a step in that direction.

Then there are the animal rights activists who would see the banning of firearms as a way to ending hunting activities. (They could ban bows later – or sooner for that matter).

I hoped that the author might have some new insights on the subject.

As a lead-in, the author pointed out the facts behind New York’s oppressive Sullivan’s Law.

New York state senator Timothy Sullivan, a corrupt Tammany Hall politician, represented New York’s Red Hook district. Commercial travelers passing through the district would be relieved of their valuables by armed robbers. In order to protect themselves and their property, travelers armed themselves. This raised the risk of, and reduced the profit from, robbery. Sullivan’s outlaw constituents demanded that Sullivan introduce a law that would prohibit concealed carry of pistols, blackjacks, and daggers, thus reducing the risk to robbers from armed victims.

The criminals, of course, were already breaking the law and had no intention of being deterred by the Sullivan Act from their business activity of armed robbery. Thus, the effect of the Sullivan Act was precisely what the criminals intended. It made their life of crime easier.

He then dealt with the fallacy of the epidemic of gun deaths among children in the U.S. and notes that the White House Offices of National Drug Control Policy says that drugs is one of the leading factors in homicides.

According to the National Drug Control Policy, trafficking in illicit drugs is associated with the commission of violent crimes for the following reasons: “competition for drug markets and customers, disputes and rip-offs among individuals involved in the illegal drug market, [and] the tendency toward violence of individuals who participate in drug trafficking.” Another dimension of drug-related crime is “committing an offense to obtain money (or goods to sell to get money) to support drug use.”

Roberts then writes:

Those who want to outlaw guns have not explained why it would be any more effective than outlawing drugs, alcohol, robbery, rape, and murder. All the crimes for which guns are used are already illegal, and they keep on occurring, just as they did before guns existed.

So what is the real agenda? Why do gun control advocates want to override the Second Amendment. Why do they not acknowledge that if the Second Amendment can be over-ridden, so can every other protection of civil liberty?

There are careful studies that conclude that armed citizens prevent one to two million crimes every year. Other studies show that in-home robberies, rapes, and assaults occur more frequently in jurisdictions that suffer from gun control ordinances. Other studies show that most states with right-to-carry laws have experienced a drop in crimes against persons.

Why do gun control advocates want to increase the crime rate in the US?

Why is the gun control agenda a propagandistic one draped in lies?

At which point he inexplicably goes sideways.

He blames the NRA for fueling the irrational fear of guns through trade advertisements in their members’ only magazine.

The NRA is the largest and best known organization among the defenders of the Second Amendment. Yet, a case might be made that manufacturers’ gun advertisements in the NRA’s magazines stoke the hysteria of gun control advocates.

Full page ads offering civilian versions of weapons used by “America’s elite warriors” in US Special Operations Command, SWAT, and by covert agents “who work in a dark world most of us can’t even understand,” are likely to scare the pants off people who are afraid of guns.

And although he begrudgingly acknowledges that there is some validity to hunting, he apparently believes that gun owners would be better served if  it kind of went away.

The same goes for hunters. Recent news reports of “hunters” slaughtering wolves from airplanes in Alaska and of a hunter, indeed, a poacher, who shot a protected rare wolf in the US Southwest and left the dead animal in the road, enrage people who have empathy with animals and wildlife. Many Americans have had such bad experiences with their fellow citizens that they regard their dogs and cats, and wildlife, as more intelligent and noble life forms than humans. Wild animals can be dangerous, but they are not evil.

Americans with empathy for animals are horrified by the television program that depicts hunters killing beautiful animals and the joy hunters experience in “harvesting” their prey. Many believe that a person who enjoys killing a deer because he has a marvelous rack of antlers might enjoy killing a person.

He is apparently ignorant of the fact that the aerial shooting of wolves in Alaska is a State initiative to control the predator population and is not done by “hunters”, and he identifies the person who illegally shot a wolf in the southwest as a poacher whom he apparently associates with legitimate hunters. In fact his whole diatribe on hunters and hunting would indicate that Roberts sits quite comfortably in the anti-hunting camp.

So after wondering what the anti-gun agenda is, we find out that apparently they don’t really have an agenda, it’s just that the NRA (and I presume other magazines) publish advertising for modern guns that “are ugly as sin”, and whose “appearance is threatening, unlike the beautiful lines of a Winchester lever action or single shot rifle, or a Colt single action revolver, or the WW II 45 caliber semi-automatic pistol, guns that do not have menacing appearances” which makes people fear guns and makes them want to ban them. And if that isn’t enough those damned hunters are out there killing wolves and other beautiful animals which makes people think that they “might enjoy killing a person”. All enough reason to ban firearms – apparently.

The author then goes on to wax poetic about the joys of target shooting which one could apparently do without fear of the gun banners if it wasn’t for the NRA’s advertising practices and – again – those damned hunters.

It appalls me that there are still those out there, who profess to be “one of us” who have such a simplistic and  (dare I say) stupid view of the issues.

One would hope that by now we would have gone beyond the divisions where long gun owners were willing to sell out handgun owners in the hope that doing so would take the focus off their firearms. Or in Britain the owners of double barreled shotguns being willing to sacrifice  those who owned pumps and semi-autos.

But apparently the message that the anti-gunners are quite willing to pick us off one by one still hasn’t reached everyone.

Whether it is the anti-gun or the anti-hunting crowd, they know that they cannot get everything they want in one big bucket and are quite happy take their little victories. Unfortunately some of which we give them in the vain hope that they will be satisfied enough to go away and leave us alone. Which of course has never been in their game plan.

There is little question that Canada;s Firearms Act was written in such a manner as to make things more bureaucratically difficult for gun owners in the hope that many would get rid of their guns and drop out of the system. Which many did. The Act relegated some firearms (most notably handguns with barrels 4″ or less in length) to ‘prohibited’ status and while current owners were grandfathered it ensured that no-one else would ever be able to legally acquire them. In that way they would eventually be purged from the system.

Toronto Mayor David Miller has been on a crusade to ban handguns, obviously in a misguided attempt to demonstrate to his electorate that he is “doing something to fight crime”. All gun owners should the strongly and publicly opposing this.

Some years ago there was an attack against bear hunting in B.C. The ban proponents wanted to totally stop the hunting of black bear – not exactly a threatened species in this province. Of course they weren’t able to win that fight, but in the process the Ministry of Environment decided that they would put in a new regulation that would force all bear hunters to salvage the meat of any bears they shot. This was just for black bear. Although some bear hunters already kept the meat (actually good eating), most hunted for the hide. The Ministry thought that bringing the meat in would legitimize the hunt and remove the objections of the environmentalists.

Did it work? Well it removed a bunch of hunters from the system and the environmentalists are currently back again trying to stop bear hunting. And the new solution being floated around to blunt the attack? Put in a regulation to make it a requirement for hunters to salvage grizzly bear meat. Which shows that we have learned little from our past mistakes.

The antis are focused and patient. We, as gun owners and hunters, are divided and complacent. If that doesn’t change, our future is bleak.


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