Lesson #71: Random thoughts

Random thoughts…

Saw my first shooting star while sitting by a fairly fast-flowing river in Iran in 1971. I was with my friend Anth who was hitchhiking with his wife, Dot. We were traveling in our Bedford van and were having trouble finding a place to spend the night. We were motioned to the side of the road by a cop who asked us if we had a place to sleep. We replied that we did not at which point he offered us a parking space in a lot just beside the police station.

Anth and Dot pitched their tent while Donna and I readied our van for the night. Anth and I left the girls behind in their beds, walked about one hundred metres, and decided to take up a position in a slight depression beside the river where we dropped some acid that I had managed to stash in one of the van’s hubcaps. It was a heavy trip highlighted by my seeing the shooting star as well as my realization, while in discussion with Anth, that I was too interested in money and material goods.

The acid was excellent. I believed that this had something to do with the fact that it had been kept under a hubcap and had probably gotten pretty hot while we moved through Greece, Turkey and the western part of Iran. I told Anth what I was thinking and said something to the effect that there might be a way of making money from our discovery re. the LSD. He then proceeded to blow me away with this answer and I can still recall his exact words: “I don’t want any money from it.” Eh, what?

Four federal bye-elections held this week did not change anything at first glance with the Liberals retaining their seats in Montreal Bourassa and Toronto Centre, seats held by Denis Corderre and Bob Ray respectively. Corderre resigned his seat to run for and ultimately win the Montreal mayoralty and Ray, previously the sole NDP premier the province of Ontario has ever had as well as having served as interim leader of the federal Liberals after the Michael Ignatieff debacle, resigned his Toronto Centre seat as part and parcel of his decision to quit politics altogether. 

Those two wins were expected in Liberal Land. The other two bye-elections in the Provencher and Brandon-Souris constituencies of Manitoba, like the races in both Bourassa and Toronto-Centre, did not lead to any ground-breaking changes as the PC’s held on to both.

However, the Conservatives were expected to take Provencher in a landslide which they did not while their meager 391 vote win in Brandon-Souris went down to the wire and was too close for comfort for the party of thugs, liars, and cheaters that is the Progressive Conservative party of Canada and for their leader, that weasel, Stephen Harper. Once again Gazette columnist, Andrew Coyne, has struck the nail squarely on the head with the following conclusions:

“If you were determined to be obtuse about it, you could look at the results of Monday’s by-elections and say: Nothing changed. The Tories held onto their two seats in the West, the Liberals held onto theirs in Ontario and Quebec. Move along folks, no story here.

“You could do this, as I say, only if you took extravagant care to ignore everything else that happened that night: If you focused myopically on the top-line result in each riding, and paid no attention to the popular vote — the trend, the swing, across the nation and over time.

“Only in the most literal sense is the Tories’ 391-vote margin in Brandon-Souris, one of the safest Conservative seats in the country, a ‘win’. Even the partisans found this hard to say with a straight face.”

“But there’s just no spinning this one. The trends are too pronounced. Across all four ridings, the Tory vote was down 11 points versus the 2011 election, from 39 per cent to 28 per cent, almost exactly mirroring the national polls. The NDP, which might have been expected to gain the most from the Tories’ disfavour — when you consider how well Tom Mulcair has been performing in Parliament — instead dropped five points overall, while the Liberals surged 18 points.

“If the drop in the Tory vote was the night’s main story, the rise in the Liberals’ was the other.

“In Provencher and Brandon-Souris, the Grits (Liberals) blew past the NDP to become the Tories’ (Conservatives’) main rivals, taking as many votes from the left as they did from the right. In Toronto Centre and Bourassa, they increased their margins of victory, even in the face of spirited challenges from the NDP. Conservative candidates in the East both lost their deposits, as NDP candidates did in the West. Only the Liberals were up across the board.

“But the true significance of the result is captured, not by comparison to the last election, but set against the broad sweep of history. The 8.7 per cent of the vote the Conservatives managed to hold onto in Toronto Centre — the riding of David Crombie and David MacDonald — is the party’s worst showing in any election in that riding since Confederation.

“The Conservative candidate in Bourassa, likewise, took less than five per cent of the vote. That is the second-worst showing for the Conservatives in that riding since 1968, when it was created. (Only 2000, when they split the vote with the Canadian Alliance, was worse.) By contrast, the Liberals’ 43 per cent showing in Brandon-Souris was not only a 37 per cent increase over 2011, it was their best ever.

Nothing changed? Come on. We can argue about the reasons, we can debate what it portends, but on the night, there’s no getting away from it: The Conservatives were spanked. No doubt it would have been even worse for the Tories had they actually lost Brandon-Souris (“not unexpected, when you consider the Liberal candidate was the son of the riding’s longtime former Conservative MP”), but the results ought to prompt some deep reflection among the party’s leadership.

“No, the Senate scandal is not likely to be at the top of most voters’ minds two years from now. But I rather doubt the Senate scandal, on its own, is what has driven one in four Tory voters to abandon the party: As I say, the polls have been showing the same thing for some time. It’s everything that went before it, and everything that’s happened since.

“It’s the general impression that we are being governed by a gang of thugs — secretive, high-handed, unprincipled gusting to unethical, and openly contemptuous of such quaint notions as democratic accountability — an impression that grows more baked in each time the prime minister dodges a question in Parliament, or worse, sends in the clownish Paul Calandra to answer in his place.

“At the same time, it’s clear the NDP have a lot of work to do to convince voters, not just of the Conservatives’ faults, but of their own virtues as their putative replacements. It must gall Mulcair, after all his weight and substance, to see the voters flock instead to the lighter-than-air Justin Trudeau. But he still has lots of time to turn things around.

“For that matter, so does Stephen Harper. The difference is, Mulcair seems to realize he needs to.”


Finally as those who follow my blog regularly or some semblance thereof know, I have Scleroderma, an auto-immune disease which has deformed my hands and can be quite painful. I deal with the pain in number of ways including training in a gym at least once and usually twice a week, taking Supeudol (Oxycodone) as well as consuming at least one cup of medicinal pot tea daily. I leave you with the video featured in today’s JuicyLesson as we head for the end of November; this clip presents CNN guy Dr. Sanjay Gupta expounding on the benefits of medicinal pot and explaining why he changed his position 180 degrees on the use of pot as a means of confronting chronic pain and the diseases which cause it.

… and finally, for the ultimate in not facing up to climate facts, this cartoon from the talented pen of the Gazette’s Terry Mosher, aka Aislin. 


Have a good weekend. See you on Sunday, December 1st. Boy the person who coined the statement that time flies when you’re having fun sure wasn’t lyin’.

Peace out, Gary man.


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