Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Niagara Falls Then and Now: The Mowat Gate at Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls, Then and Now: the Mowat Gate at Victoria Park
[click photos to enlarge!] Above: The Mowat Gate (in honour of Sir Oliver Mowat) at Victoria Park in Niagara Falls (at Clifton Hill and Falls Ave.), photo taken Apr. 29, 2008 by R. Bobak.

Above: Old postcard view of the stone Mowat Gate,which was built in 1907; this shot shows the Gate at its original location, a bit east (at River Rd.) of where it is today (at Falls Ave.).
The Gate was dismantled in 1936 and rebuilt at its current location at Falls Ave.
The original wooden Mowat Gate was of a rustic cedar design, constructed in 1888, and it marked the principal northern entrance to Queen Victoria Park, Oddly enough, it had been located where the stone Mowat Gate was moved to in 1936.
The mist plume from the Horseshoe Falls is seen in both views. Also, the tracks of the Great Gorge Belt Line streetcar can be seen running along the edge of the gorge. A pole supporting the streetcar route's overhead electric wires is in the center. The postcard, from author's collection, has no date on it, but the postage rate on the back reads "One cent for the United States and Island Possessions, Cuba, Canada, and Mexico. Two cents for Foreign."
Below: It wasn't until 1922 that the stone gate was was inscribed.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Q.E.W. shut down in St. Catharines due to concrete falling from Martindale bridge

(click on photos to enlarge!) Above: Ontario St. north side of QEW. Police blocking Toronto-bound entrance ramp to QEW.
Below: QEW with empty lanes, looking at east side of Martindale Rd. overpass (in the far right distance) where crews are examining the bridge. The concrete arch bridge in the foreground is the Henley Bridge, which crosses Twelve Mile Creek.

Above: Toronto-bound traffic being re-routed from the QEW onto Ontario St.
Below: View on Martindale bridge over QEW, looking north, Apr.29, 2008, about half an hour after the QEW below was re-opened to traffic. The bridge once carried streetcars travelling from St. Catharines to Port Dalhousie. The old track right-of-way is still there (centre of photo). To the left of where the tracks once ran, separated by a concrete median strip, is Martindale Rd. CHCH news reported that this bridge consists of two separate structures (one being the old streetcar bridge, and the other carrying the road portion) which are side by side, with the concrete median covering the gap (as can be seen in the photo below in the center). Construction activity on top of the bridge caused a piece of concrete to fall onto the highway from within this gap between these bridges. The area where this happened, on the median at the south end of the bridge (over the Niagara-bound QEW lanes) can be seen in the below photo (at the left side), where crews placed a wooden platform over the median. A slab of concrete (which had been part of the median covering the gap between the two bridges) can be seen laying in front of the wooden platform.
above: same view, prior to construction, with the track bed and median more clearly visible. Until construction work began to replace this bridge, this is how it looked for decades after the streetcars stopped running. Note the trees still along Martindale Rd. in the left background. Photo from web "Historic bridges of Michigan and Elsewhere."
Above: Taken by R. Bobak on Mar. 24, 2008. Martindale bridge looking south along the concrete median. The place from where the debris fell was at the far (south) end. Clearly heavy equipment has been regularly traversing over the median as can be seen by the treadmarks over the cement.
Above and below: the west side of the Martindale bridge over the QEW in St. Catharines, as seen on Apr.29, 2008. This is the side where the new bridge is starting to be built.
Above: same view, west side of Martindale Rd. bridge over the QEW, taken earlier on Mar.24, 2008. The hydro poles had not yet been moved, and the original railings are still in place.
Above: Traffic backed up on Toronto-bound QEW, looking west from Ontario St. overpass, Apr.29, 2008
Below: two VIDEOS showing rare view an empty-laned QEW after it was shut down both ways in St. Catharines, Apr.29, 2008. By R. Bobak. (It was strangely quiet with the traffic from this extremely busy highway suddenly gone - one could hear the birds - and the police and news helicopters flying above!!) The Martindale Rd. bridge can be seen being examined by crews in the distance.

above: Here's something one rarely sees: the QEW was shut down both ways in St. Catharines on Apr.29, 2008, due to concrete falling down from the old Martindale overpass. The current bridge, one of the original QEW bridges built in 1939, is scheduled for demolition, once a new bridge, which is now under construction, is built immediately to the west of the old current bridge.

Huge traffic snarls ensued throughout St. Catharines as motorists were stuck, many of course, not knowing how to get to the other side of Twelve Mile Creek. All roads leading to Port Dalhousie were clogged during this rush-hour mess. The highway itself was jammed with trapped cars, trucks, and buses for miles each way.
This bottleneck is always prone to such trouble, as to this day, no service roads exist paralleling the highway. Hope Transportation Minister Jim Bradley provides a thorough explanation for how this occurred. Doesn't the City of St. Catharines, along with the Transportation Ministry, have some kind of emergency routing system in place when these QEW emergencies happen? Highway traffic is just dumped onto the local streets, causing overwhelming chaos. Fire and ambulance service must surely be affected locally when such unexpected closures occur. Some vehicles attempted to cut around police vehicles blocking the entrance ramps, to try to to get back onto the highway! The Toronto-bound lanes were re-opened to traffic first, at 6:46 pm, then the Niagara-bound lanes were re-opened at 7:06 pm. Below is a CTV news report from Apr. 29, 2008:

Below: Looking north on Martindale bridge the next day, Apr.30, 2008; the platform covering the hole now has yellow tape around it.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Smelly Liberal Poop-O-Grams keep piling up!

Got yet another Liberal Poop-O-Gram - as Grit Garth Turner likes to call them - in the mail, this time from Sukh Dhaliwal in British Columbia! What the hell, Garth ... I guess you could get to the printer after all, eh? Look, the mail carriers don't need to carry around this Liberal crap from B.C., do they?! Nobody wants Dhaliwal's junk mail delivered here in Niagara! Bumbledore Dion should stop wasting good pulpwood that could be better used for... ohhh... toilet paper, or gerbil cage liner, or writing shifty Liberal Kyoto propaganda, or fantasy Liberal throne speeches... The last Liberal Poop-O-Gram had deceptive quotes from an official at the IPCC, no less (!); this week's Liberal Poop-O-Gram contains verbiage from the almighty Hargrove hisself: all worthy for the recycling bin.


                                                                                          cover photo by R.Bobak

                          THE STONE ANGEL: THE PRICE OF PRIDE

                                                 By R. Bobak

Hagar’s proud character and her journey of self-realization are the core narratives of Canadian writer Margaret Laurence’s 1964 novel, The Stone Angel.

Hagar Shipley’s weakness was that she was too strong. Continually throughout The Stone Angel in her reminiscences, she refers to her uncompromising pride, her determination to survive, her abhorrence of weakness in others.

Throughout her life she feared being open and honest with herself and her family. She was “anxious to be neat and orderly, imagining life had been created only to celebrate tidiness.” p 3 Not only tidiness in dress or housekeeping, but also in emotions – her life was tidily sterile and emotionless. Most noteworthy is her constant aversion to crying, of regarding it as an embarrassing admission of weakness, no matter what the reason.

It is almost as if she was battling nature, never letting it out of her control, because she, like her father, was a ‘self-made’ person, who had led a ‘hard life’. Even nearing the end of her life she proudly tried to retain her independence: “oh, I hate being helped – I’ve always done things for myself.” p 246

Her father, a strict Protestant businessman, in the traditional pioneering sense, has some effect upon her nature, if only by being an object for Hagar to contest and surpass. She does not cry as he straps her, and with exhilaration refuses to marry up to her father’s standards.

Her marriage and family life seems in retrospect an emotional disaster, much of it her own doing. She recalls that she and her husband "had each married for those qualities we later found we couldn’t bear, he for my manners and speech, I for his flouting of them.” p 69

Having defied her father, she attempts to instill herself upon husband Bram. She could never be honest with him, and, consequently with herself, although she now sees “I no longer know why it should have shamed me…I never spoke of it to anyone…I prided myself upon keeping my pride intact, like some maidenhead.” p 70

Apparently the sacrifice of emotional involvement wasn’t obvious nor important to her then. She was emotionally frigid even during extreme intimacy: “Hagar, please,” says Bram. “What is it?” she replies. p 75 Interestingly enough, though, she does hesitate before answering him: “I wanted to say “There, there, it’s all right,” but I did not say that.” p 75. We see that she knows, if rather vaguely, that her words are an inadequate reflection of her thoughts – yet she does not yet begin to question why.

It must have made Bram exasperated, and eventually passively subdued. After an argument he patronizes her with an apology: “It’s over and done with. I’m sorry. Is that enough?”

“You think it fixes everything to say you’re sorry. Well, it doesn’t.”

“Judas priest, woman, what do you want me to do? Get down on my bended knees?”

“I only want you to behave a little differently”

“Well, maybe I’d you different, too.”

“I don’t disgrace myself.”

“No, by Christ, you’re respectable – I’ll give you that.”

The argument shows his realization of her faults, and her own blind ignorance of them, or their possible effects.

Leaving Bram, and thereby stating her strength and superiority over him, causes her later to feel a twinge of “bitter emptiness” without him. Yet, she continues “But in the morning I’d be myself once more…with calm deliberation…with hands so steady…” p 141 She acknowledges, on one hand, her need, then immediately dismisses it, and carries on as usual without the slightest sign of assessing herself to see if, in the long run, she can justify herself.

She does not change, and her denunciation of an association with Bram as he lay sick, shows her power of contempt. "And I, more than anything, was doubly shamed recalling how I’d thought of him at night these past years.” p 152 “It made me sick to think I’d lain with him…a part of me could never stand him.” p 162

She realizes “…there was nothing I could do for him, nothing he needed now…” p 162 Now? Is she acknowledging that maybe, she might have been able to do something before? And she does say, too: “yet at that moment, I’d willingly have called him back from where he’d gone, to say even once what Marvin had said (which was “I’m sorry”)… not knowing who to fault for the way the years had turned.” p 162 The notion of apportioning blame, of assessing causes, was dawning upon her. Yet she noted, “But when we buried Bram…it was John who cried, not I.”

The scene in the present where Hagar watches the boy and girl playing on the beach is a symbolic allegory of her own marriage, and her blossoming awareness of fault. She watches the boy collecting clamshells and the girl tidily organizing them, and setting up house, thinking: “Stupid girl. She knows nothing. (albeit Hagar now does?) Why won’t she praise him a little? She’s so sharp with him. (An awakening to her own experience?) He’ll become fed up in a minute. I long to warn her – watch out, watch out, you’ll lose him…Take warning, my girl. You’ll be sorry…How neatly she’s set the table…”   "See" she says smugly “They go like this…Oh, you’ve wrecked it!” she shrieks “Stupid! You’re a stupid, bloody bum!”…I’d wash your mouth out with soap for that, young lady, if you were mine…” p 168

A little later on, still in the present, as she sits on a log, again she imagines herself as guilty of some crime, becoming increasingly open to herself: a “…judicial owl holding court…retains my fingerprint…the scribe…condemns me…” p 171 Yet still, she does not specifically face up to what her guilt is.

Through Hagar’s relationship with her brothers and sons, her recollections show a missing link, yet one which she still can’t define.

When her brother asked her to wear the shawl for Dan, she was “unable to bend enough.” She looked at Dan’s resemblance to “that meek woman”, her mother, “from whom he’d inherited a frailty I could not help but detest…To play at being her – it was beyond me.” p 21 Her later reaction: “… if I had spoken and tried to tell him – but how could I? I didn’t know myself why I couldn’t do what he had done,” p 22, shows both her young self-ignorance, as well as an “awful strength.” p 51

Her departure for the East was emotionless. “I looked at him squarely and said good-by so evenly and calmly…Later in the train, I cried thinking of him, but of course, he never knew that, and I’d have been the last to tell him.” p 36 She realizes something is preventing her from true communication, yet, she does not ponder upon it, merely keeps it hidden away.

As her son Marvin left to war: “I didn’t know what to say to him. I wanted to beg him to look after himself, to be careful…I wanted all at once to hold him tightly, plead with him, against all reason and reality not to go… (and here is her climax) But I didn’t want to embarrass both of us, nor have him think I’d taken leave of my senses.” p 114 (A sensible rationalization?) As she hesitates, battling the temptation to “speak what we feel, not we ought to say,” (closing quote by Edgar from Shakespeare’s King Lear), Marvin makes the first move (“I won’t be seeing you for quite awhile. Think you’ll be alright here?” p 114 He’s concerned for her – and he’s the one going off to war!) which then “releases (her) from (her) dithering, making (her) practical once more.” p 114

Marvin’s last hesitant attempt to speak to her is particularly poignant: “Mother -”

“Yes?”…I realized I was waiting with a kind of anxious hope for what he would say, waiting for him to make himself known to me.

“Well, so long. I’ll be seeing you.”

She is constantly alienated in her closeness, constantly unable to play her role as mother, wife, sister, or old woman (as she runs away from the care of Marvin, independently spirited.)

When her son John is in the hospital, a strange interchange takes place.

“Mother, it hurts… Make them – give me something.”

I was going to tell him I’d go find a nurse, a sedative needle. But before I could speak or move, he laughed, a low harsh laugh that increased his pain.
“No,” he said distinctly. “You can’t, can you? Never mind. Never mind.”

He put a hand on mine, as though he were momentarily caught up in an attempt to comfort me for something that couldn’t be helped.” p 215

John had condemned and forgiven her. Her awareness of her failure is increasing, especially in the context that this revelation is being said aloud to Murray F. Lees. Incorrigible as always after John’s death she “wouldn’t cry in front of strangers, whatever it cost (her)… that was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my entire life, to stand straight then.” p 216. Her courage must be admired, however it may be judged. She found the price she’d paid – ‘I found my tears had been locked too long and wouldn’t come now at my bidding. The night my son died, I was transformed to stone and never wept at all.” p 216 She was The Stone Angel, “an exterior cold and rugged but with an inner longing for human love and compassion.” (S.E. Read, B.C. Library Quarterly, July 1974)

She realizes “I had only one thought –I’d had so many things to say to him, so many things to put to rights.” p 216  Many times we see her wanting, always wanting to say or do something, and then lest she become compromised, put it down to a lower priority. She sees then that her procrastinations and withholding of feelings could have somehow alleviated matters – yet, years later, back into the present, we see her still attempting to truly clarify her intentions, as she talks with Steve: “I’m choked up with it now, the incommunicable years, everything that happened and was spoken or not spoken. I want to tell him. Someone should know. This is what I think… I would have liked to tell him he is dear to me. And be so, no matter what he does with his life or what he’s like. But he’d only have been embarrassed and so would I.” p 265

Hagar’s breakdown and crying after recounting the story of John’s death finally shows a coming change, an ability to show feeling. Who knows if she was crying for what her ‘lost men’ would have gained had she been different, or, for what she has lost for being as she is. She brings herself down (or up?) to the level of truly forgiving Lees about having brought Marvin and apologizing about his boy. What had brought about such changes? In her previous talk with Lees, she heard his views about his family’s death.

“He thinks he’s discovered pain…I could tell him a thing or two…I can tell him nothing”, she thinks.

“I had a son, and I lost him, “ she says.

“Well” he says abruptly, “then you know.” p 208

This is in contrast to the situation when the priest, Mr. Troy, was talking with her.

“I had a son” she says “and lost him.”

“You’re not alone,” says Mr. Troy.

“That’s where you’re wrong,” she replies. p 106

With Lees, she found indeed she was not alone. And what’s more, her own already increased awareness of apportioning blame was not dulled by Lee’s discussion of the causes of his family’s deaths.

“I can’t figure out whose fault it could have been. My grandfather’s for being a…Mother’s for making me… Lou’s for insisting… Mine, for not saying…

He realizes a profound answer, preceding Hagar’s confused thoughts.

“Why does he go on like this? I’ve heard enough.”

“No one’s to blame,” he finds. p 209

Hagar learns “that what’s going to happen can’t be delayed indefinitely.” p 229 Her final frolic with independence is over. The hospital is her last home. “I’m mollified a little and yet embarrassed, unwilling to give in, for I know I’ve been unreasonable. It’s not Marvin’s fault - -the soft disgusting egg, the shrunken world…why is it always so hard to find the proper one to blame? Why do I always want to find the one? As though it really helped.”

She can’t find anyone to blame, neither anyone to give help. She refuses Mr. Troy’s religious advances. Characteristically, she says she admires someone who’ll do something even if it kills them, when Mr. Troy was about to sing.

Laying in the hospital, permanently ill and dependent on painkillers, Hagar finds her consoling answer and flaw.

“This knowing comes upon me so forcefully…I must always have wanted that – simply to rejoice…How is it I never could…I know…How long have I known? Or have I always known?...Every good joy I might have held, in my man, or child…all were forced to a standstill by some break of proper appearances – oh, proper to whom? When did I ever speak the heart’s truth?”

A sad realization, too late to be of much use.

“Pride was my wilderness…I was alone, never anything else, and never free, for I carried my chains within me and shackled all I touched.” p 261

She has admitted her realization openly.

And what of the long lost consequences?

“Oh my two dead. Dead by your own hands or by mine?” She cannot begin to blame or explain. “Nothing can take away those years.” P 261

Yet amazingly again, (would we expect different of her?), as she cries while rationalizing her true failures, she puts her “hands over (her) eyes so he wouldn’t see. He mustn’t think I’ve taken leave of my senses.” P 261

“Oh, I am unchangeable, unregenerate.” She knows. “I go on speaking in the same way, always, and the same touchiness rises within me at the slightest thing.” P 262

She does some out-of-character actions, like using slang with Sandra Wong and sharing a joke with her and giving her family ring on to Tina. And finally, she meets Marvin and finds it impossible to lie emotionally.

“I’m frightened, Marvin,” she admits. “I’m so frightened.” p 271

Confronting him after all those years, this attitude was a step she had never reached before. He holds her hand tightly, and she realizes she “can only release myself by releasing him.” P 271 And she does – though lying through her teeth, yet not lying, “for it was spoken at least and at last with what may be perhaps a kind of love.” P 274

Strong to the end, she depends on herself and her self-reliance. “Bless me or not, Lord, just as you please, for I’ll not beg.” P 274

When Doris tries to help Hagar with the cup of water, she refuses, yet knows that “I only defeat myself by not accepting her.” She clearly understands this. “I know it very well. But I can’t help it – it’s my nature.”

Hagar has risen from her young ignorance to a realm of knowledge through experience and retrospect.

Her tragedy was that it had taken this long.
The pages I referred to in my above essay on Margaret Laurence’s The Stone Angel were from Bantam-Seal’s paperback version, printed Oct. 1979. With a film adaptation of Laurence’s great Canadian novel to be released in May 2008, it will be interesting to see how her great saga will translate to the screen.
This review of the novel, The Stone Angel: The Price of Pride, was written by Roman Bobak ©1979.

Jim "Crackpot" Bradley's Liberal realism

In Nov. 2007, CIHI released a study which showed that the mortality-rate in the Niagara Health System’s St. Catharines hospital was the third-highest in Canada.

Five months have passed, yet the local Liberal MPP, Jim Bradley, has not bothered to provide an explanation for this shocking revelation, right in Niagara, right in his backyard.

Neither has Bradley asked for any independent inquiry to provide an explanation for such poor results occurring in Bradley’s Liberal healthcare monopoly. Why hasn’t he? What is Bradley hiding? (...and why isn't the local press hounding Ole Jimmy for an answer? Why is the Niagara press looking the other way, and letting Bradley get away with hiding from this issue?!)

Niagara Falls Liberal MPP Kim Craitor, to deflect the impact of the CIHI report, raised a red-herring that the “governance” model of the NHS should be revisited, and that there should be more regional hospitals. (The question then is: how can the Liberal health monopoly, which can barely keep up with what it has now, support more hospitals?)

The Liberals announced, then re-announced, that they were going to review the governance model, and then the NHS said that they would have to first dig up a bunch of previously-carried-out-and-then-filed-in-the-basement reviews, and then review the reviews... and so we see the institutional circling of the wagons.

The fact is, Jim Bradley, the local MPP, has done nothing to explain why the health care system in his city of St. Catharines was/is performing with such poor results.

Does Bradley agree with Craitor that “governance” is the issue for this poor performance?

Or is it their Liberal government which is at fault for such poor performance?

Jane Coutts wrote in the Globe and Mail, (Oct.28, 1998) about the Niagara Health Services Restructuring Commission recommendations at the time:

Local Liberal MPP Jim Bradley quickly denounced the proposals, saying the area has residents who are older, on average, than elsewhere in the province and will need more, not fewer, hospital beds.

"I know the crackpot realists will be accepting this . . . but I find it unacceptable. No one objects to rationalization of services, no one objects to elimination of duplication, or to single governance, . . . but with the demographics we have we should be maintaining our hospitals, not shutting them."”

Impressive Bradley-baffle-gab, isn't it?!
But what did Bradley really mean then?
In the 2007 election Bradley was trumpeting how he’s the champion of the planned new St. Catharines super hospital - an idea which in 1998 he found to be “unacceptable”!

But now, Liberal MPP Jim Bradley endorses an idea that he himself once said would be accepted by “crackpot realists”!! Pardon?!??

“No one objects to rationalization of services, no one objects to elimination of duplication, or to single governance,” said Bradley in 1998!

So, has Bradley bothered to repeat that duplicitous meme today, in 2008, when Craitor is trotting out “governance” to mask the troubles in Niagara’s Liberal government-run health-care monopoly?

What “single governance” was Bradley referring to, anyhow – the Board of a single hospital? A single region? A single network (...such as the LHIN bureaucracy, which the Liberals went on to spawn?) A single super-hospital? The authoritarian powers of a single health minister, ruling a single-payer, no-patient-choice failing health-care monopoly?

Bradley trumpeted in 1998 that Niagara will need more, not fewer, hospital beds.

But in 2006, Bradley’s Liberals were singing a different tune, as James Wallace reported in “More hospital beds not in the cards: premier” (St. Catharines Standard, Sept.30, 2006):

"Premier Dalton McGuinty has poured cold water on a call by Ontario doctors to create more hospital beds to ease emergency room overcrowding.
McGuinty, in an exclusive interview with Osprey News yesterday, said emergency room doctors "got our attention," but deflected questions about funding additional beds to alleviate wait times."

Looks like McGuinty poured cold water on Jim Bradley, too.

The NHS has an unexplained high-mortality rate; the NHS has asked for more funding; yet, the NHS has been ordered by Liberal Health Minister George Smitherman (sickeningly being touted now as a potential mayor of Toronto?! WTF...? What's next... Bradley running for mayor of St. Catharines?) to 'live within its means'.

Now, Jim Bradley, who ten years ago ominously brought up Niagara’s “demographics”, today sits silent on the mortality and funding issues.

Bradley, who ten years ago huffed and puffed sanctimoniously about more (not fewer) hospital beds, now stays silent when his own beloved Liberal premier says no to more beds, as patients pile up on stretchers waiting in ER's!

Who’s really the "crackpot", Mr. Bradley?!??

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Jim Bradley's Smoggy-Bottom Grits

The St. Catharines Standard reported on Jun.8, 2002:

“Each summer, the Nanticoke power plant contributes to the heavy smog in Niagara that often prompts warnings from the public health department.
St. Catharines MPP and Liberal environment critic Jim Bradley has repeatedly called for Nanticoke to be converted to a cleaner, natural gas plant to help improve air quality.”

 You have to admire this Grit’s ingratiating ability to suck while blowing – if Bradley really believed what he was saying then, one would think that Bradley and Dalton “Clean-Air” McGuinty would (since their election in 2003) have already converted Nanticoke to gas, and installed state-of-the-art pollution controls, no? After all, Bradley “repeatedly” blustered this view – yet he has since done nothing about it since!

The Hamilton Spectator reported on Jun.13, 2000:

Buffalo is blaming Nanticoke's coal-fired power plant for its bad air.

Government officials and environmentalists are demanding Ontario immediately reduce the pollution from the Nanticoke coal-fired power plant they say is fouling their air.

"Buffalo is getting hit with two major kinds of pollutants from this plant -- smog and acid rain -- and it is atrocious," William Stoner, a co-ordinator for the New York-based Citizens Campaign for the Environment, said yesterday as a large billboard reading, "Buffalo is choking on Ontario smog," was unveiled in the city's core.

Stoner said nitrogen oxide (a major component of smog and acid rain) is reaching the Buffalo area from the Nanticoke plant 100 kilometres away. The plant, owned and operated by Ontario Power Generation, is the largest coal-fired operation of its kind in North America. And Stoner said it isn't using the best available pollution- control system.

"It is also emitting three times more nitrogen oxide than the average New York State power plant," he said. "From the proverbial words of a small make-believe town called South Park, Colorado, we say, 'Blame Canada.'"
The Spectator further reported:

“Jim Bradley, a St. Catharines MPP and Liberal environment critic who was on hand for the unveiling of the billboard, said he has called on the provincial government before to either equip the Nanticoke plant with more up-to-date technology or convert it from coal to natural gas.

"This is a problem that knows no boundaries and Ontario can take direct action to address it now," said Bradley, who was the province's environment minister for five years during the mid- to late-1980s. "The backdrop here today," he added of the billboard, "is embarrassing to the Ontario government, and it should be.""

Why isn’t Bradley attending any billboard unveilings today, in 2008? Nothing's changed - his lying Liberals promised in 2003 to close ALL of Ontario’s coal-burning generators by 2007 – so, have all those problems which Bradley piously pointed out eight years ago now suddenly vanished?

Has Bradley heeded HIS OWN call “to either equip the Nanticoke plant with more up-to-date technology or convert it from coal to natural gas”?

The Liberals have done nothing at Nanticoke!

In opposition, Bradley used to cite figures of the thousands of Ontarians who were dying annually from the effects of smog. Now, he doesn’t mention them much anymore. Why is that – have the smog deaths magically vanished during the last five years?

Bradley used to lecture how "Nanticoke is a major plant and a major source" of smog, with "very inadequate pollution controls." (St. Catharines Standard, Jun.13, 2000)

Such mortality numbers should be a "wake-up call" for the then- provincial Conservative government to take "very aggressive action”, Bradley proclaimed while in opposition. (Niagara Falls Review, Jun.28, 2000

Bradley used to huff and puff that "This is a problem that knows no boundaries and Ontario can take direct action to address it now”!! So … what the hell has Bradley actually done? What “direct action” or "very aggressive action" has he taken since 2003? Have the “boundaries” magically changed?

Or is it that Bradley’s Liberal hyperbole itself knows no boundaries? Bradley is the one who should "wake-up" and be embarrassed by his own (in)actions!! We’re the ones who are choking on Bradley’s ineffective B.S.

As the Toronto Star reported (Feb.20, 2001):

Liberal MPP Jim Bradley (St. Catharines) said the Harris government likes to talk about tackling air pollution yet refuses to force Ontario Power Generation to change over the coal-fired plant to cleaner natural gas.”

Ironic to read Bradley’s smug, hypocritical bafflegab today, isn’t it?

Liberal Jim Bradley's deception on gasoline prices

In Oily Grits I asked whether Liberal Premier of Ontario Dalton McGuinty was deceitful regarding his claims, when he was in opposition, that the Premier of Ontario has jurisdiction over the price of gasoline.

What about St. Catharines Liberal MPP Jim Bradley – what was he saying about gas prices then?

In opposition, Jim Bradley also was blustering - a lot - about alleged price gouging and price fixing, claims which even then-MP Liberal Walt Lastewka said were groundless.

As Richard Brennan reported in “Motorists gouged by gasoline companies” (St. Catharines Standard, Aug.22, 1997):

Greedy oil companies are once again gouging Ontario motorists and tourists and the province sits back and does nothing, a veteran Liberal MPP says.

"As thousands of tourists visit Ontario this week, they will be confronted with the same circumstances facing all motorists in our province: gas price gouging by the major oil companies," said St. Catharines MPP Jim Bradley in the legislature Thursday.

He said it might be time the province did something about runaway gasoline prices by holding a legislative inquiry
(Gasoline prices in St. Catharines at the time of the above story (Aug.1997) were reported at 62-63 cents per litre – half of today’s prices under the Liberals!! Jim was outraged then, in 1997 – but why isn’t he outraged at the “runaway” gas prices now!??) The report continued: Bradley urged Bill Saunderson, economic and tourism minister and a self-made millionaire, to talk to corporate pals about the high gasoline prices or "are you going to continue to apologize for the big oil bosses?"”

Yet, is Jim Bradley talking to HIS corporate pals today?!
Why is Jim acting as an apologist for the big oil bosses today?!
Have Jim's governing Grits bothered to reduce their gasoline taxes (now at 14.6 cents per litre), or lower their outrageously burdensome 8% PST?

(By the way: You gotta love the totally unnecessary use of 'self-made millionaire' in the above story as a populist attempt to denigrate Saunderson … well done! No bias there, eh?)

In response to Bradley's allegations, Andrew Lundy reported in “Gas prices not rigged, MP says”, (St. Catharines Standard , Aug.26, 1997):

St. Catharines MP Walt Lastewka is deflecting a recent torrent of criticism over gasoline prices, saying there's no evidence the major oil companies are in cahoots to boost prices past the 60-cents-a- litre mark.
Lastewka, whose Liberal constituency office has received a string of angry phone calls in the past week, said yesterday federal studies looking at the oil industry have repeatedly "found no evidence to support allegations of price fixing, anti-competitive behavior or misleading advertising."”

Yet, since Ontario's Liberals gained power in 2003, have Bradley or McGuinty called for a legislative inquiry into the gas price increases which have occurred under their government??

Since 2003, Bradley has been Tourism minister, and now he’s Transport minister – yet what the hell has Bradley done about gas prices “as thousands of tourists visit Ontario” now, in 2008??!

In opposition, Bradley introduced a gas-price control bill, as the St. Catharines Standard reported in “Bradley aims bill at gas price gouging”, (Nov.19, 1999):

St. Catharines MPP Jim Bradley has introduced a private member's bill in the Ontario legislature in a bid to control gas pricing.
The Liberal's bill would prohibit large oil companies from undercutting small independent retailers, and calls for fines of up to $10,000 for violations.
Bradley challenged the government to give the bill quick passage.
"By protecting the independent retailer, this legislature, like some other provinces and many states in the U.S., can promote competition in the market and give consumers a break," he said.
Bradley said he introduced the legislation because of the government's failure to take meaningful action on price gouging.”

So, let's ask: where is Jim Bradley's bill now, in 2008??

Jim is now the Transportation Minister, in a majority Liberal government - and Jim has clearly ‘failed to take any meaningful action on price gouging’!! Why has Bradley's bill not resurfaced for nine years?

Is it because in reality, it was just a load of hot air all along?

When gasoline reached 80 cents a litre, the St. Catharines Standard (Feb.13, 2003) reported :

Short-term wholesale prices at big refineries and terminals have also risen due to the cold winter and tight crude oil market. But St. Catharines MPP Jim Bradley, who doesn't remember gas ever being this expensive, doesn't buy Baily's explanation.
"There's obvious price fixing going on," Bradley said. While the price of crude oil is a factor, "every (gas station) raises the price the same amount at the same time.”

Again we see Liberal MPP Bradley still angling for us to buy his unsubstantiated "price-fixing" allegations… six years after Liberal MP Lastewka’s 1997 earlier comments to the contrary!

If Liberal MP Lastewka was wrong, why then hasn’t Liberal MPP Bradley done anything about it for eleven years??
Did the “price-fixing” magically vanish when McGuinty's Liberals came to power, or is it rather that Bradley’s blustery accusations have vanished, and, that there never was any collusion? Was Bradley deceptive about price-fixing while in opposition, or is he being deceptive about it now, in government?

As for those trite Bradley-esque observations, such as ‘Bradley doesn’t remember gas ever being this expensive’…. oh, come on! So what?? In opposition, Jim was smugly outraged … but why isn’t anyone asking Jim Bradley if he remembers gas being this expensive TODAY – under his watch??
In a Sept.16, 2005 St.Catharines Standard story written by Monique Beech ("Pump pain - Gas prices not falling as fast in Niagara as elsewhere") the Standard reporter did NOT EVEN MENTION local Liberal MPP Jim Bradley's name, nor Bradley's years of previous lies about 'price fixing' and about 'Liberal gas price control'. Bradley's previous positions on this specific issue were completely relevant to the story -  yet, Bradley was purposefully hidden in a Cone of Silence by his friends in the press!!
Are we to believe that this reporter just plain forgot to talk with Ole Jimmy about any of that!!hahaha!!!!
Beech reported that the average gasoline price in Niagara region was about 1.10 per litre, but it varied - in Beamsville it was 1.02. Beech also reported statistics that in 2004, the average price in the city of St.Catharines was 78.9. So, even though gasoline prices went up over 20 cents per litre during the year - during Liberal MPP Jim Bradley's watch - reporter Beech and the St.Catharines Standard protected Jim Bradley from scrutiny.
WHY??? (Why? Because in 2005, Jim Bradley and his Liberals were now in government, that's WHY. Details of Bradley's BS were no longer important!)
The Standard made no mention at all regarding Bradley's gasoline price lies in this Sept.16, 2005 story  - yet, in their earlier Feb.13, 2003 story, the Standard made damn sure to report how their best boy Bradley "doesn’t remember gas ever being this expensive" !!!
WHY was Bradley trotted out for one story, but not another? (Why? Because in 2003, Jim Bradley was in opposition, and the Standard was helping out in his re-election campaign! Anything to make Liberal Jimmy look good.)

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Good things USED to grow, in On - ta - ri - o!

(click on photo to see how Jim Bradley makes the earth a better place)

Mr. Jim Bradley, MPP, St. Catharines:

As my MPP, do you have any comments to make regarding your Liberal government’s failure to broker a deal to enable the CanGro plant to at least get this year’s crop processed?

Can you explain how your Greenbelt has helped these Niagara fruit farmers?

Do you have any comments to add to Peter Down’s April 26, 2008 story in the St. Catharines Standard, “How the deal went SOUR”, where growers Bill and Kim Duffin claim your government walked away from helping them save the plant, blaming your Liberal government for "selling out" the tender fruit industry?

(That reminds me of the time Liberal premier Dalton McGuinty, fishing for votes in a hospital during the 2007 election, just walked away from a cancer patient who complained about your Liberal’s health-care policies: how smug and arrogant.)

Downs reported that Trade Minister Sandra Pupatello did not respond to the Standard’s interview requests. Instead, spokesman Eric Shapiro - who wasn’t even directly involved in any of the negotiations - was left to say that your government “did not walk away from the table”.
Who, then, was at these negotiations, Mr. Bradley? Was saving the plant an actual priority for you? Were you there, at these negotiations, personally representing your constituents as a senior cabinet minister from Niagara? Or did you just provide platitudes?

Mr. Bradley, why did you not take the opportunity to explain to the press your exact role in ensuring that this CanGro fiasco be averted? When did you actually first learn of the possibilty that this cannery could close?

Did the Standard not request your comments on these recent developments? Or did you just refuse to make any statement? Were you simply too overwhelmed with your duties managing the transport portfolio, to actually inform your constituents of what steps you did, or didn’t take, to help out growers such as the Duffins?

So - how exactly did your Greenbelt help these growers, anyway?

Can you explain why the Greenbelt bureaucracy regularly wastes money on ads, such as the one above? (in Niagara This Week, Apr.25, 2008)

What “possibility” grows in the Greenbelt?

Is it possible that your Liberal government is simply peddling Greenbelt propaganda?

How does abandoning fruit farmers in the Greenbelt help ensure “fresh, local food”?
Jim, maybe you should be the one "inspired to look at our world differently": your government is killing the farmer to save the "greenbelt" - or is that your intention?

(What, by the way, was the “carbon footprint” left by Pupatello’s trip to China, I wonder? Will Ontario import more canned fruit from China instead?!)

Is abandoning a fruit cannery just the price we must pay for the Liberals to hold onto their 416-vote-buying Greenbelt illusion?

The “abundance is right here in our own backyard,” alright: an abundance of Liberal fertilizer of the most vile kind.

Once again, thanks for nothing, Jim.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Stephane "Bumbledore" Dion's Priority Poop-O-Gram

Liberal MP Ken Dryden sent more Dion Poop-O-Grams today - to Niagara!? What the..?

Hope crapola-inspector Garth Turner makes a note of this Liberal waste of tree pulp and postal resources.

Dion's priority, at least for now, apparently - it might change next week - is "climate change" again, not the immigration issue which he only recently was so 'adamantly opposed to', but voted for anyway! Yep - it's spring, the snow is melting - so what better time than now for I-didn't-get-it-done Dion to trot out more of his insufferable priorities to fight ... oh, what's the use ... blah blah blah ... something about green ... blah blah blah sustainable blah blah blah children ... what ever, Bumbledore.

The only thing that's 'settled' is Bumbledore's spectacular skid-mark on Canada's political landscape. Ken Dryden's letter (or is it Bumbledore's missive? or, is this an example of the Liberals advertising for the IPCC?) quotes Rajendra Pachauri.

Did Ken Dryden or his boss, Bumbledore, read what Lorne Gunter wrote in "'Climate change'? It's what you want it to be", (National Post, Apr.21, 2008):

"Indeed, one of the reasons "global warming" morphed into "climate change," beginning a couple of years ago, was so any weather extreme could be interpreted as an omen of impending doom.
Despite the claims of the likes of Al Gore and David Suzuki, the planet has not warned appreciably since 1998, itself the warmest or second-warmest year on record. Eight of the last 10 years have not been the hottest in history.
Indeed, if you use 1998 as the base year, the Earth has cooled in the last decade. Even if you use 2002 as Year Zero, there has been no discernable warming. We have entered a "temperature plateau" so far this decade. Even Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, grudgingly had to admit as much a couple of months ago.
Talking with Britain's Guardian newspaper in January, Dr. Pachauri admitted he and the UN climate body he heads are looking into the flat-lining temperatures. All the computer models of climate say we should still be warming, but we're not.
"Are there natural factors compensating?", the Indian economist wondered. It seems never to have occurred to him -- nor to most environmentalists -- that natural factors might be causing the fluctuations in temperature seen in the recent decades and that humans have little to do with it.
Climate change has replaced global warming in green rhetoric in part because there is less and less proof that much warming is occurring, but also so that whenever there is a climate catastrophe -- too much cold or too much heat, too much rain or too little, more hurricanes or fewer, longer summers or early frosts -- all of it could be blamed on humans."

Pachauri had to admit that the computer model predictions of impending world-wide doom were not meeting with the IPCC climatalarmists expectations ?!

You don't say!!

Yet, in the above Liberal Poop-O-Gram, the disengenuous GreenFear-pushers Stephane Dion and Ken Dryden don't mention anything about THAT!!

Talk about Gritty Poop and Gore-bull warming.
Funny how Dion, Dryden, Turner, Ignatieff and the other Liberal GreenFear-mongers had little to say in 2015 about the disaster that was Rajendra Pachauri!

Remnants of the Queenston-Lewiston Suspension bridge over the Niagara River

Niagara Falls, Then and Now: Remnants of the Queenston-Lewiston Suspension Bridge
Above: Looking westward across the Niagara River, from the United States end of the Queenston-Lewiston Suspension Bridge, towards the Canadian side.
General Isaac Brock's monument is seen in the left distance. General Brock was killed at the age of 43 on Oct.13, 1812, in battle at this spot on the Queenston Heights, fighting the invading Americans; and now lies in a tomb at the base of the monument.
There is one streetcar track running down the center of the bridge, with a streetcar seen at the bottom, which is about to exit the bridge onto the American side. The streetcars of the Great Gorge Route travelled a loop circuit, going eastbound from Canada to the U.S. on this bridge, then travelling south on the American side towards Niagara Falls. On the U.S. side, the streetcars travelled down in the Gorge right along side the Niagara River, with the tracks eventually rising back up as they got closer to the Falls. The streetcars then crossed the Honeymoon Bridge back into Canada, headed north along the top of the Gorge along the Canadian side back down to Queenston, where they'd cross to the States again.
The gatehouse (toll house) on the Canadian side can be seen in the centre-right distance.
Below:  a closer view of the border gatehouse at the Canadian end of the old suspension bridge, in 1962, just prior to the opening of the new bridge. The old bridge was soon demolished and sold for scrap.
Above:  Apr.15, 2008 - this is the exact same spot as above, photo by R. Bobak
The Gatehouse and the bridge all are gone. In the center distance, a small stone wall now stands across where the opening to the bridge deck had been. The gatehouse had stood on the cliff edge, at the left of the photo. The old road is now full of cracks and overgrowth. The same stone walls, which were seen at the far right in the 1962 photo, are now crumbling as trees have grown throughout.
It's hard to believe that for decades this now-deserted little corner of the world was one of the main crossings for vehicle traffic between the two countries! As the automobile age grew, for motorists arriving from the States this was the beginning of King's Hwy.8A (a short spur heading west to St.David's village, where it joined up with the main Hwy.8) which was the main road to get to St. Catharines, Hamilton, and eventually to Toronto, before the QEW was constructed during the 1930's. Millions of travellers had passed through this very location over the years. This bridge served until 1962, when the new Queenston-Lewiston Arch bridge opened, on Nov.1, 1962, just about a half-mile upriver. The old bridge was closed the same day, and subsequently dismantled and scrapped.
Below: Opening day ceremonies, looking from Lewiston in the States towards Queenston in Canada. The opening ceremonies according to the library archive, were July 21, 1899. [Yet a stone marker at the site can still be seen (see photo further down) which reads "Bridge opening July 22, 1899". Maybe that was the actual first real working day?]
There had been one other previous bridge at this same location, built by Edward W. Serrell, which existed from 1851 to 1864, when it was wrecked in a windstorm; so - astoundingly - from 1864 until 1899, there was no bridge here, just cables and sections of broken deck hanging over the river, for all those years!
Note: I have seen other accounts that the first bridge fell in 1854, but I'm going by the 1864 date given by the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission.
Also, I remember hearing somewhere of an incident, occurring during the period when the bridge was just hanging there, frayed, when some American jail escapees managed to successfully climb across the bare bridge cables to Canada!
Below: 1930 - this is the Queenston-end of the bridge; note the sharp curve of the streetcar tracks, where they enter the bridge. The Gatehouse is at the left. Check out the car: maybe Jay Gatsby was making one of his 'gonnegtions' during Prohibition? Ah, the days when a 'customs and immigration' office consisted of a guy in a shack, where you could leave your V-16 Phaeton (or whatever) stopped with the doors open, practically right on the bridge!
Below: 1962, a view from underneath the bridge deck on the Queenston-end, showing the river-side of the Gatehouse as it sat on the cliff above the river's edge. This view looks up from under the south-side of the bridge, looking north-west (see similar view four photos below; note that the foundation walls supporting the Gatehouse, as seen in this 1962 photo, are still visible in the 2011 photo)
Below: Like Gatsby, we too beat on against the strong Niagara River current, and here are borne back ceaselessly into the past. There is little left now to remind us of how incredibly busy this very spot had once been. The stone wall seen now is where the actual bridge entrance once was; beyond the wall is a drop into the gorge. Note the streetcar tracks are still visible in the dirt, curving to the left (east). It is now quiet and secluded, all I could hear was the rush of the river below. Above old photos from the Niagara Falls, Ont. Library.
                                        [Click on any photo to enlarge!]
Below: The old abutments of the Queenston-Lewiston Suspension Bridge can still be found at the very end of today's York St. (which had been called Hwy.8A, a spur which led to King's Hwy.8, connecting at St.David's, about  two miles to the west) in Niagara-On-The-Lake, Ont. The bridge carried the Great Gorge Belt Line streetcars across the Niagara River, which ran in a loop along both the Canadian and U.S. sides of the river, crossing back to Canada again up at Niagara Falls. (How neat was that?!) In these photos below, taken Apr.15, 2008, the old streetcar rails are still clearly visible, showing the sharp left-turn which U.S-bound (east-bound) streetcars would make, to enter the bridge. The edge of the Gatehouse once stood where the stone wall makes a slight jog at the upper right. That's where the Gatsbymobile seen earlier was parked!!
Below: The abutment's stone cable towers are located above the track-level on the Canadian side - the north tower (seen at the upper right) is still standing, the left one is partially gone.

Above: Mar. 2011 - looking up from underneath where the bridge had once been; at the centre-left is where the bridge deck had landed, where the streetcars turned, and where the Gatehouse had stood. The still-intact north cable tower is seen far up at the center top. [This view looks up from underneath where the north-side of the bridge had once been; see similar view in the 1962 fourth-photo above. The same stone abutments, seen in this 2011 photo, are also seen in the 1962 photo, when the Gatehouse still stood above them.]
Above: Feb.2011 - looking north at the Niagara River; the U.S.side is at the right. The stone cable tower can still be seen at the bottom right, see red arrow.
Above: closer view of the stone cable tower, showing steel bars embedded in the top.
Below: two abutment cable towers can still be seen on the American side of the Niagara River. There is an observation deck now built between them.
Below: curving streetcar track still visible several feet away from old bridge entrance (Queenston side), looking back up the right-of-way
Below: within the now-crumbling old stone wall is a stone carved with this inscription:
"BRIDGE OPENED JULY 22 1899". (Note little pockets of snow still on the ground on Apr.15, 2008)
Below: drawing of the earlier 1851 Serrell-built Queenston-Lewiston suspension bridge across the Niagara River, which had once stood at this exact same spot; the Canadian side is at the right. Note how the York St. road at that time (at the far right) was already shown making that sharp left turn onto the bridge deck, the same turn which streetcars would have to make some fifty years later onto the next bridge.

The above bridge of Serrell's lasted only 13 years: it was completed in Mar.1851, but partially collapsed in a windstorm in Feb.1864  - so, for some 35 years afterwards, the frayed bridge cables hung over the river, but the bridge was not rebuilt. Interestingly, the masonry contract on the 1851 bridge was let to Samuel Zimmerman (see here). ...[As mentioned earlier, I keep seeing other incorrect reports that the 1851-built bridge collapsed in a windstorm in 1854!]
Serrell's 1851 suspension bridge here at Queenston was the second suspension bridge to have been built over the Niagara River. (Serrell's Queenston bridge never did, nor could, carry any trains, so its unfortunate collapse in 1864 made its rebuilding uneconomical for the next 35 years, because Roebling's two-level Suspension Bridge overwhelmingly dominated the market.)
The title for the first bridge of any kind to be built over the Niagara River goes to the earliest version of Charles Ellet's suspension bridge, which was built upriver from Queenston (at the site of today's Whirlpool Bridge) in 1848.
At first, Ellet's bridge was just a wire basket, holding two persons, which hung off a cable and was which was pulled across the gorge. Ellet himself first crossed in this basket on Mar. 13, 1848. Using the basket line to haul workers and supplies, Ellet methodically added a 3 foot wide plank walkway paralleling one side of the basket line, suspended by heavier cables hanging off new wooden towers. Then, he added another plank walkway on the other side of the basket line; later, the basket line was removed, and the gap filled, joining the two walkways together into a 9 ft.-wide carriage way which officially opened on Aug.1, 1848.
This bridge by Ellet was supposed to have been a railway-carrying bridge, but Ellet (who, due to a dispute with the bridge company, was bought out of his contract on Dec.27, 1848) did not finish the next phase of the project. His plan was to use the newly-built carriage way as a working platform from which to create another deck above the carriage deck. This wider upper deck was to become the actual permanent bridge deck, carrying a train track in the middle, with two carriage ways on either side. This upper deck would become its own bridge, supported by cables hung from new 70 foot high stone towers; presumably, the earlier wooden towers and the lower deck would have then been dismantled.
Starting from 1852 to 1855, Ellet's bridge was completely rebuilt by John A. Roebling into a two-deck bridge, with a carriage way on the lower deck, and a track on the upper deck, becoming the first railroad-bearing suspension bridge in the world!
Interestingly, back in 1847, Roebling had lost out to Ellet in bidding for the original bridge contract!
Also, on a side note, the Niagara Falls Canada book (pg.343) states that the 1899 Queenston Lewiston bridge was moved from the Falls "in 1889" [?!] yet, this date doesn't make sense; that must have been a typo... because in another chapter of the same book (pg.338), it says that the Second Fallsview Suspension Bridge (which had been replaced by the newer Honeymoon Bridge) was dismantled from its location right beside the American Falls, and was rebuilt in Queenston - which then means this had to have been 1898-99, not 1889!!
And, not to confuse things even more, but I noted another discrepancy: the same book (pg.338) says that there had been four bridges at the Honeymoon site (but there were only three... unless they were including the Rainbow Bridge in their count. Except that: the Rainbow was built about 500 feet north of the site of the collapsed Honeymoon Bridge, so it wasn't on the exact same site where the previous three other bridges had been.)
So what was this 'fourth' bridge, which, if had existed, must have existed at the Honeymoon site before the 1869-built First Fallsview Suspension Bridge?
Or, was the book considering the First Fallsview Suspension Bridge's substantial rebuild [from a timber frame/timber tower construction to a steel frame/steel tower construction] as being two bridges?
The Queenston-Lewiston Suspension Bridge of 1899 was almost entirely built out of the recycled components of the Second Fallsview Suspension Bridge (which was built in 1889, and then carefully dismantled c.1898 to make way for the Upper Steel Arch (aka Honeymoon) Bridge (built 1897-98, opened in 1898; collapsed in 1938 due to river ice pushing the bridge off its footings). 

[The Second Fallsview Suspension Bridge (construction of which started March 22, 1889, and which amazingly was opened to traffic in less than two months, on May 7, 1889!!), along with the Honeymoon Bridge, and the earliest First Fallsview Suspension Bridge (built 1869; collapsed Jan.10, 1889) had all been been located at the exact same 'Honeymoon site', immediately north of the American Falls. So this 'fourth bridge' must have been a typo; or, they included the Rainbow Bridge in their count, even though it was not in the exact location as the previous three bridges had been]
The below photos from the Niagara Falls Digital Library archive are dated roughly c 1890, and these all show Serrell's original 1851-built, 1864-destroyed Queenston Lewiston Suspension Bridge, hanging in tatters over the Niagara River. If these photos had been taken in the early 1890's {let's say 1894, for example} then this is how the bridge looked after hanging there, deteriorating, for some thirty years!!!
above: this view most likely looks west from the States towards Queenston, as in the top center-right distance, it looks to be where York St. makes that sharp left-turn to enter the bridge deck.
above: this view is probably looking in a northerly direction, from Queenston towards the States; in the centre distance, on the New York State side of the river, would be where Artpark now is.
above: this could be looking eastwards from Queenston towards the States, as the Escarpment in the distance is seen sloping down to the left, which would be north.
above: this is probably looking in a north-westerly direction, from the States towards Canada; Queenston village would be in the center distance, to the left of the tree.
below: this view is certainly looking north-west from the States; the village of Queenston is clearly seen in the upper-center-right. The partially-hanging bridge is seen in the upper-mid-right. At the bottom are seen a building or abutment, and tracks; this is possibly the rail line on the American side which had been the precursor of the still-to-be-conceived Great Gorge streetcar route.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Oily Grits

Keith Howell wrote in “Give Northlander two more years”, (North Bay Nugget, Mar.1, 2000):

“Liberal leader wants `genuine effort' to revive passenger train before killing it.
WEST NIPISSING - Ontario Liberal Leader Dalton McGuinty wants the Northlander passenger train to run for another two years in a final attempt to make it viable.
"I think there should be a genuine effort made to revive it. It simply cannot survive as it is," McGuinty said in an interview Tuesday.
"It has to be transformed into a viable, attractive mode of transportation or it is going to go the way of the dodo. There will be no new lease on life given beyond that unless there has been an increase in ridership," McGuinty said.
The Liberal leader was at Club Calumet in Sturgeon Falls for a speech to about 100 party faithful at a fund-raising dinner. Earlier in the day, he and fellow Grit MPPs David Ramsay (Timiskaming- Cochrane) and Michael Gravelle (Thunder Bay-Superior North) hosted the first stop on a fact-finding tour about Ontario's transportation needs.
"One problem they have is low ridership. I would like to see some kind of proposals put forward by the community," McGuinty said.
Ramsay, who accompanied his leader and Gravelle to Sturgeon Falls, said it is time for the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission (ONTC) to "reinvent" the Northlander.
He suggested getting the private sector involved with the Northlander, perhaps with concepts such as casino cars and snowmobile cars.
"It needs some entrepreneurial, private-sector partnerships," Ramsay said.
ONTC chairman Dick Grant said recently the current six-day-a- week passenger train service has an operating deficit of about $4.2 million annually.
After public hearings into passenger rail service last fall, the ONTC gave the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines a choice of two recommendations - end the train service and replace it with buses; or continue the service on the existing level or reduced schedule, possibly three days a week.
The ONTC no longer wants to subsidize the service through its other operations and wants the province to decide the Northlander's fate.
As for his thoughts on the gasoline crisis, McGuinty recommended rescinding the $37 vehicle registration in Northern Ontario to compensate for the greater traveling distances.
"They (Ontario government) should call off that dog-and-pony show (Ontario oil and gasoline price hearings), which is serving no purpose other than to point a finger at the federal government. The fact is the province has jurisdiction over pricing," he said.
Premier Mike Harris has three choices, McGuinty said.
"He can regulate gas prices; he can cut gasoline taxes, which are about 15 cents a litre, or he can stop complaining. I wouldn't close the door on a reduction in the gasoline tax, understanding that at the same time there is also a demand for money in public transit."
McGuinty stopped short of supporting a gasoline tax cut, though.
"I'm just saying it's not something I would rule out. But I would stop pointing provincial guns at the federal government."
After hearing presentations in Timmins, McGuinty said one idea the government might look at is providing greater infrastructure and trails for the burgeoning snowmobile industry.
Ramsay came away from the Timmins meeting even more convinced either Highway 11 or 17 should be four-laned across Northern Ontario, he said.”


On Apr.3, 2008 there was this exchange in the Ontario legislature regarding the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission:

“Mr. John O'Toole: My question is to the Premier. You should know that the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission has not published an annual report for the entire term of your government, since 2003. In fact, the last statement was in 2003 and more recently-it is described as "the site is under construction." Yet, Premier, it is your government that ran on those very themes of openness and the principle of accountability.
Premier, in the interest of this accountability, what will your government do to ensure that the Ontario Northland Transportation System delivers at least one annual report in your term?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: To the Minister of Transportation.

Hon. James J. Bradley: Thank you very much. I will share this with the Minister for Northern Development and Mines, who is responsible.
I tend to agree with the member that whenever we can it's valuable to have that kind of information available, not only to members of the Legislature but the general public. I know that when they have a lot of activities to undertake, sometimes the one that is not put on the front burner is the one of developing an annual report, and I think that is valuable information. So when I'm in my discussions with the minister, I will let him know, first of all, that you have asked the question in this House about this important matter and that it would be valuable to gather this information together as soon as possible. I know the member is, as all members of the House would be, concerned that reports be provided in a timely fashion. I'll do my very best to see that happens.

Mr. John O'Toole: Again, to the Premier, and the minister as well can respond if he wishes. It's obvious that that is a real surprise here, just by the Premier not having any notes on it at all and the Minister of Transportation going to refer it to a minister who's not here.
This is a serious, serious issue. In fact, it begs a larger question. Something you should know is that the sunshine list published yesterday has 33 employees from this very commission on the list making $100,000 or more. If this isn't about accountability-

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): I would ask that the member stick to his initial question, which dealt with an annual report from Ontario Northland.

Mr. John O'Toole: Well, Ontario Northland has a report out there. The only one that's available, Mr. Speaker, is accounting that there are 33 employees on the $100,000 list, and yet that commission is funded by the province of Ontario. Premier, what are you going to do to have some openness and accountability in your government when you've got spending going through the roof and services being delayed?

Hon. James J. Bradley: I wasn't aware that the question was designed to embarrass members of the public service, as the ongoing attack of my friends in the opposite benches who continually-and I know this embarrasses the former Minister of Health, a good friend of mine from the Waterloo area, to hear that the party is swinging to the right one more time and is attacking the public service of this province by trying to embarrass them.
I would note that all members of the Legislature happen to be on the list to which he makes a reference. So I guess firing those stones around from those of us who are in glass houses can be difficult. But I want to tell the member this: The financial statements that are audited by the Auditor General are indeed on their website. I invite the member to go the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission website to look carefully at the audited statements at that time. They're available to the Auditor General, and they're available to the member.”


Eight years ago Liberal Dalton McGuinty was considering killing the Northlander train. (Why…wasn’t smog and GHG a problem, which would be solved by more – not fewer – trains, at whatever cost? That’s the story McGuinty and Bradley were peddling in Niagara about the GO train at the time!)

Now, the ONTC apparently has 33 employees in the sunshine list – and all Bradley can do is make some smarmy-assed, pointless remark about “the former Minister of Health, a good friend of mine from the Waterloo area” ? Wha…?!

What the FLICK, Jim?! Just answer the FLICKING question! Has ONTC become vastly profitable since McGuinty wanted it killed off? Has the McGuinty government 'revived' , 'increased ridership', and 'transformed' the railroad into a 'viable and attractive mode of transportation, or are they sheilding a 'dodo'?

Is Bradley convinced, as David Ramsey was then, that either Highway 11 or 17 should be four-laned across Northern Ontario?

It was also interesting to note Dalton McGuinty, in Howell’s 2000 story above, lecturing Premier Harris on the price of gas:

“The fact is the province has jurisdiction over pricing," he said.

Premier Mike Harris has three choices, McGuinty said.

"He can regulate gas prices; he can cut gasoline taxes, which are about 15 cents a litre, or he can stop complaining. I wouldn't close the door on a reduction in the gasoline tax, understanding that at the same time there is also a demand for money in public transit."

McGuinty stopped short of supporting a gasoline tax cut, though.

"I'm just saying it's not something I would rule out. But I would stop pointing provincial guns at the federal government."

McGuinty said back then that the premier "can regulate gas prices".

(Jim Bradley even introduced a private member’s bill to regulate gasoline prices, (see St. Catharines Standard story, Nov.19, 1999) where Bradley introduces his 'gas-price control' bill, because, according to Bradley, of the (then-Conservative) government's 'failure to take meaningful action on price gouging'!!)

So here we are - in Apr 2008 - and Bradley's Liberals have done sweet-FLICK-all themselves!! In the last FIVE years, what 'meaningful action' have the Liberals taken, Jim?!)

So let’s look at what Dalton McGuinty – now Premier – said in the Legislature (from Hansard) on Apr.7, 2008:

“Hon. Dalton McGuinty: I can understand where the official opposition is coming from. They would like Ontarians to believe that we somehow have control over the price of oil, but they don't believe that. They think that we influence the value of the dollar, but Ontarians don't believe that. They would like Ontarians to believe that somehow we influence the vigour of the US economy. Ontarians don't believe that either.”

Flicking two-faced Liberals! Who's leading who to believe what?? Who was once leading Ontarians to believe that the Premier somehow does have control over the price of gas?

Now, in 2008, McGuinty pretends he CAN’T regulate the price of oil – as he ever-so-righteously claimed was possible about gas in 2000!?!

McGuinty clearly said then that the “province has jurisdiction”!

Mcguinty clearly said then that the Ontario Premier – who is now…McGuinty… can regulate gas prices”; “can cut gasoline taxes”!!

Or will Dalton defer to the minutiae-distinction that he was referring then to the price of gasoline, and not specifically the price of oil? (as if one can exist in a vaccuum without influencing the other, and which - in any case - McGuinty, as Premier, has done nothing about! This is similar to the vague 'is it a GO /bus/train/commuter/tourist/weekend/weekday' transit service that the Liberals keep threatening to bring to Niagara)

Was Dalton McGuinty lying about gas prices in March 2000, or is he lying about oil prices in the Legislature now?

Liberals say fired nurses not necessarily real people

Mike Adler wrote in “Centenary cuts to be made over three years”, (Scarborough Mirror, Mar.25, 2008):

“Directors of Rouge Valley Health System say the hospital must swallow some unpleasant medicine to balance its budget and run itself more efficiently.
The 3,000 staff at Centenary Health Centre in Scarborough and the Ajax and Pickering Health Centre will be told at meetings Wednesday the hospital must cut 220 positions, including 13 managers, over the next three years.
Centenary will lose some of its 295 adult beds - 36 between surgery, cardiology and complex continuing care alone - but will gain a medical psychiatry unit by next year, giving the Nielson Road campus a new total of 274 beds.
Cuts were a foregone conclusion after the debt-ridden hospital accepted a report in December by a peer review team critical of Rouge Valley's inefficiency and years of deficit spending.
The hospital must start getting rid of its $40-million operating debt and $38-million capital debt, so a recovery plan eliminating some positions and beds is necessary for future growth, President and CEO Rik Ganderton said this week.
"We're at the point where we're out of options."
In a candid session with reporters on Monday, Ganderton and board chairperson Tom Atkins said the plan calls for the hospital to balance its budget by the final quarter of the fiscal year and to run a surplus thereafter.
"We've paved the road to financial hell with good intentions," Ganderton said. "Maybe we should have acted sooner but we've grown up a ton in the last two years."
Voluntary exit or early retirement packages should reduce the number of involuntary layoffs to "very few," he said, while the opening of Centenary's new birthing centre later this year and an Ajax-Pickering expansion scheduled for 2010 will likely provide chances for re-employment.
Changes at Rouge Valley began 18 months ago, he said, when Ganderton was made interim CEO (he was permanently in the position by last fall).
Senior hospital managers were replaced with "pretty well a new team" and the hospital stopped using agencies to hire nurses at a premium, rebuilding its pool of part-time and casual nursing staff, Ganderton said.
Now, while serving the same number of patients, Rouge Valley will reduce staff-to-patient ratios as well as the length of stay for some patients. "Keeping people in hospital longer isn't necessarily a good thing," Ganderton said.
The hospital is facing the fact it is a "poor performer" on efficiency and the province rewards efficient hospitals while doling out less cash to the less-efficient ones, Atkins said.
A board member for four and a half years, Atkins added there's some truth to criticism the board had avoided tough decisions. Members were typically told the hospital was slipping behind in its budgeting but that "we would catch up. It never happened and then you push reset," he said.
The capital funding deficit has become a handicap of its own, leaving no money free for new equipment. Centenary's boilers are 40 years old, 15 years beyond their expected lifespan and only one of four is currently working, Atkins said.
The board also sent members for training with the Ontario Hospital Association and has hired an internal auditor who is soon to deliver a separate report, Atkins said, adding a new whistleblower program will be in place at Rouge Valley in 30 to 60 days.
The 20 mental health beds in Ajax will consolidated at Centenary in a 15-bed psychiatric unit, a recommendation Ganderton said was made before the recovery plan. (There will still be two beds at each site for emergency observation).
In a statement, Psychiatry Chief Dr. Steve Fishman acknowledged "some inconvenience for families who have to travel to visit in-patients, but since fewer and fewer mental health patients tend to be hospitalized this impact should be minimal."
The hospital board approved the plan at Ajax in a Tuesday morning meeting Atkins described as uneventful. The Central East Local Health Integration Network will review the measures on Friday.”


So, let’s check out our evasive Liberal Health Minister George Smitherman’s slithery response to the concerns raised in Mark Adler’s above story, during this exchange (from Hansard) in the Legislature on Apr.8, 2008, with Health Critic Elizabeth Witmer. (Note how Smitherman pretends that jobs cut are ‘positions’, and somehow are “not necessarily real people”! That’s classic Liberalese!! Newspeak is alive and well in Dalton McGuinty's Liberal government!):

“Mrs. Elizabeth Witmer: My question is for the Premier. Despite your rhetoric, about two thirds of the people surveyed in a year-end poll indicated they'd seen no improvement in health care. Now we learn in the Toronto Star today that 72 registered nurses are going to be fired from the Rouge Valley Health System because they can't balance their budget. This is not an isolated incident. Other hospitals are also going to be laying off staff and cutting services and beds. Premier, how can you justify the firing of these nurses?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: To the Minister of Health.

Hon. George Smitherman: While the question remains unanswered from the earlier answers provided by our Premier, which is, where is that party's specific plan in terms of how they intend to cut $3 billion in health care-

Hon. George Smitherman: Obviously, asking them to come forward with a list of the $3-billion cut to health care in detail would be helpful.
In the very specific case of the Rouge Valley Health System, I can confirm that this is a hospital that has been operating beyond its level of budget. The implication, according to Rik Ganderton, the CEO, is that there may be some disruption in employment. The key thing to make note of is that it is not necessarily real people who will leave the organization. The 72-number figure-

Hon. George Smitherman: I know this is hard for the honourable members but-

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Would the member for Renfrew please take his proper seat? Thank you. Member for Kitchener-Waterloo.

Mrs. Elizabeth Witmer: Premier, you now have the longest serving health minister in the province of Ontario. Regrettably, under his watch, we now have 66% plus of the people in the province indicating in the Nanos poll that they had seen no improvement in health care. We now have a situation where this government has refused to keep their promise to hire 8,000 new nurses in their first term. In fact, you fired 757 in January 2005.
Yesterday, Premier, you said you were not going to fire nurses. Today we learn that you are. How can you justify firing nurses for a second time?

Hon. George Smitherman: The honourable member stands in her place and is not prepared to acknowledge her record and her reputation. When they were in office, nurses were referred to as hula hoops and thousands of nurses were fired. Our record, to the contrary, as evidenced by all the data from the College of Nurses of Ontario, is that there are thousands more nurses employed in Ontario today.
On the issue of support, look to the agreement ratified recently between the Ontario Nurses' Association and the Ontario Hospital Association: the highest percentage ratification for a contract in the history of negotiations between those two parties. In the member's very own community, as a result of our intervention at the Grand River Hospital, 20 additional doctors are on site and wait times have been reduced in emergency rooms-

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Thank you.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Respect the Chair, please. Final supplementary.

Mrs. Elizabeth Witmer: Well, Mr. Speaker, I am proud of our record. We hired 12,000 additional nurses.

Mrs. Elizabeth Witmer: We hired 12,000 more nurses. We introduced family health teams.
We have a minister today who has cut hospital beds. We have fewer beds today than we did when our government was in office. We have a minister-the facts are right here, Mr. Smitherman-who said on March 31 that Ontarians don't want to lay off nurses. Today he said to the media that it "may be a necessary evil" to balance hospital budgets.
I say to you, Mr. Smitherman, how can you justify the firing of nurses?

Hon. George Smitherman: In the particular instance of one hospital in Ontario, the Rouge Valley Health System, they have been operating beyond the level of their approved budget. Accordingly, consistent with the notion that we are all accountable and responsible to work within an approved volume, they are taking the action necessary to align their budget, as all hospitals in the province are expected to.
On the issue of nursing, we are very proud to be the government that is further evolving the role of nurses, that we have a nurse-practitioner-led clinic in Sudbury and that over the course of the next several years, we will be bringing this extraordinary innovation where nurse practitioners can work together and enhance access to family health care right at the community level. Nurses are appreciated, for once, in the province-

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Thank you. New question.

Mr. Howard Hampton: A question to the Premier: Does the Premier agree with his health minister that laying off 72 nurses at Rouge Valley Health System is necessary?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: I think we just heard, and will hear shortly again, from the Minister of Health on this score. I think that any objective assessment would help Ontarians come to the conclusion that we have hired thousands more nurses. We're proud of the fact that they're available and working in a number of different environments.
We're hiring thousands more and, as the Minister of Health just said, we're going to take this a step further. There's going to be a new evolution in the role nurses play in Ontario. We're going to have-what do we call them?-n urse-practitioner-led clinics. That's something that has been sought for a long time on the part of nurses. We think it's time to take that step forward. We have one already in Sault Ste. Marie. We look forward to putting a few dozen more around the province.

Mr. Howard Hampton: Premier, the College of Nurses of Ontario says that you failed to keep the promise that you made in 2003 to hire 8,000 new nurses. You fell more than 2,000 nurses short on that. The heart of the matter is this: Nurses are the very people in the health care system who make our hospitals work. If people are going to get quality care, we have to have nurses providing that care. Premier, why are you, who promised to hire more nurses, now in effect cutting patient care by firing nurses?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: To the Minister of Health.

Hon. George Smitherman: It's important to note again that the 72 is a reference to positions, and this does not result in a named individual leaving a hospital corporation. This is the quote from Rik Ganderton.
I think it's important to restate the facts here: Rouge Valley Health System has seen an increase of nearly $30 million in their base budget since our government came to office. This is a substantial investment. Every hospital in Ontario has received more money, each and every year. The honourable member can make no such claims for when he was in government, nor can this party opposite. We have a hospital, Rouge Valley, that has spent beyond their approved budget. They're taking the steps necessary, which is fair not only to the local citizens but to all the citizens across the province of Ontario.
Some 17.55 million additional hours of nursing care is what's in our party's platform as we seek to further enhance the number of nurses working in Ontario, something that neither of these parties did when they were the government.

Mr. Howard Hampton: The Premier and the minister can repeat the promises all they wish. The fact of the matter is, 8,000 new nurses were not hired. The fact of the matter is, in an area where the population is growing, where patient load is growing, where health care needs are growing, the McGuinty government is now laying off nurses.
But it's not just there. A community-based bachelor of nursing program run out of Lakehead University in northwestern Ontario is also shutting down. Twenty-five annual graduates who are supposed to serve underserviced communities have been told that their program is not going to operate.
I ask the Premier again, why are the McGuinty Liberals laying off nurses in the greater Toronto area and shutting down nursing programs in northwestern Ontario when you promised to hire more nurses, because, to quote the Premier, they're the heart of the hospital and health care system?

Hon. George Smitherman: On the issue of Lakehead, it's astonishing that a member from northwestern Ontario would be so ill-informed as to offer that information. He knows it was the absence of a post-secondary institution to support that program which has allowed it to continue. There has not been any alteration whatsoever in the resources available from our government, and the honourable member knows that very well.
He knows another thing very well. He knows that nurses are the heart and soul of health care, and he knows, through a variety of initiatives, that we've done more to enhance their standing and position than any government in a good, long time.
Some 17.55 million annual hours of care are what we will add to the extraordinary progress that we've made to date, including the implementation of the new graduate guarantee that saw 86% of program participants transitioned to full-time employment.
When they were in office, we trained nurses and then we squandered them; our government's putting them to use. And nurses in Ontario ratified, to the highest degree in their history, the recent contract between the Ontario Nurses' Association and the Ontario Hospital Association. How about-

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Thank you. New question.”


Unflicking believable, these Liberals. Hey, Smitty: Adler wrote that Rik Ganderton also said this week: "We're at the point where we're out of options."

Why didn’t George “free-for-all” Smitherman use that little quote from the hospital chief? And who is imposing these no-option deadlines – in a monopoly setting which also denies patients any other legal alternatives to obtain alternate health-care in Ontario, other than what George and his gang magnanimously deem fit to give?

It is ominous how this demagogic Liberal Health Minister casually explains his single-payer, government-run, universal health-care system's rationing rationale; it would make Michael Moore cringe.

Smitherman says: “they have been operating beyond the level of their approved budget. Accordingly, consistent with the notion that we are all accountable and responsible to work within an approved volume, they are taking the action necessary to align their budget, as all hospitals in the province are expected to.”

In light of this Smitherman Principle, maybe Liberal MPP Jim Bradley can now explain the high death rate in his St. Catharines hospital – is that what has been happening here?

Mortality rate = alignment?

So, make sure, folks, that you get sick before your hospital’s approved budget goes out of alignment.

And if you’re unlucky enough to get sick after the approved Liberal quota has been reached – well, Smitherman has now put you on notice – don't expect to be bailed out – not in the “People’s System”, and not if George is in charge.

You’ll have to go to the States. Make room, Mike.