Good Day...

...and welcome to Day 12.

Just hanging out a few days in Cheticamp. We really like the
town--friendly folks, beautiful beaches, delicious seafood, seemingly
more Francophones than we found in Montreal--but they're bilingual, so
that helps my tired pea-brain--and June berries galore. We're staying
near by, just inside Cape Breton Highlands National Park, which is
beautiful, and huge. So far on our trip, this place is, overall, second
only to the extra day we spent digging clams (I still have cuts on my
hands, and it was totally worth them) and wallowing in the
critter-filled mud during low tide at Five Islands Provincial Park.
However, it turns out the one property near by there that we could
afford, which seemed like a great deal, is a bit of a scam since it
floods big time whenever it rains, which we learned thanks to a history
lesson from an extremely generous neighbour there, and no thanks to the
listing agent. Rule One is now: talk to the neighbours.

Back to today, Cheticamp definitely seems like a place we'd like to try
settling in or at least having a sabbatical in. M, S, and I miss
everyone in Ontario like mad, but this is one place we think we could
slow down in, and recover from life a bit. So far we haven't
encountered anybody who changed their tune when we mentioned we were
from Ontario and looking to move here. Au contraire, if anything, folks
seem to be happy that young(-ish)'uns like ourselves would want to
settle here, since apparently most folks our age (and many of all ages)
head west in search of work, and don't return home while they have money
to spend. Also, our desire to beginner-homestead seems much more
acceptable in small towns here than in the city, so we don't necessarily
have to decide between raising chickens and having reasonably close

Hurdles, days 1-11? One thing (besides flooding) we learned to watch
out for is clearing. Some of these acreages are so thick that they're a
bit too much for us to take a good look at, and that's aside from rarely
being adequately marked. (Also some of them can't even be parked on
without filling in a roadside ditch with gravel first.) Clear-cutting
larger trees, which we'd be willing to do/contract a small amount of, is
not really our preference.

Another thing is water. It seems that finding an adequate water source
(i.e. one that could be filtered to potable most of the year) on cheap
land may be less straightforward than searching for "river" on
ViewPoint. However, thanks to an informative conversation with a real
estate agent, it may be more plausible than we had thought to find out
if it's likely that you could access a spring, which would be preferable
to actually drilling a well, which can be quite costly.

Anyway, we're going to tour around some places here again tomorrow, and
although none of them on paper seems to be ultra cheap and have
everything we need, we're optimistic about finding something that could
at least be tried on our budget. If that doesn't work out, though,
there are still plenty of options we haven't driven by yet west of
Halifax. At least we like the feel of the town here enough that we
wouldn't bother continuing to search for a cheaper-but-still-doable
option if we found the right place here.

Hugs to all our friends and family back home!
Kev & fam


Day One!

We're off from our wonderful hosts in Halifax with our own four wheels!
First stop (after groceries and a last thrift store run for a pot to
cook in): Wolfville and surrounding area :)


t'eagle has landed

Thanks to all of our friends and family. Bancroft was refreshing and
heartwarming, and the train ride from there went by super-fast, so we
did not write anything yet. Just lettin' y'all know that we're alive
and well and enjoying some Peruvian hospitality :) -K & M & S


Greyhound.ca "advanced ticket prices" = sneaky service charges!

Greyhound, why not just be up front with your fees?  Why wait until AFTER I have entered every last possible piece of ordering information, to spring an unexplained $12.50 service fee (for what?  if you haven't noticed, I'm ordering ON LINE...) on me?  Furthermore I invite you to review your accounting textbooks for how to do a "subtotal".  That means everything before the word "subtotal", not including your sneaky shit service fee:

BTW, after doing a second order, the closest guess I can come up with is that their service fee is $2.50 per adult per way and $1.25 per child per way (even though the rest of the child ticket costs the same as an adult's.)  This is based on a one-way trip for 2 adults and a kid being $6.25 for service fees, which doesn't divide nicely 3 ways, so I figured maybe they forgot that kids are 'full price' in Greyhoundland nowadays, or something.  I certainly wasn't about to enter all my info a THIRD time just to gather more data for analysis, when you should just TELL ME WHAT YOU WILL CHARGE.  Thank you.


Re: refugees

Dear Natalie,

My friends have been removed for none of the reasons you cited, and the same overseer who denied their refugee application also denied their humanitarian and compassionate application.  They were model citizens.  Your new system is failing.  It is only succeeding at clearing the backlog by saying 'no' more judiciously, at the cost of destroying families and tearing them out of the communities they've become rooted in here.

It doesn't surprise me that your office is still hidden at the street level.  I would do the same, if this were the sort of thing in which the creation of I were participating.  Are you as ashamed as it appears?


On Thu, Mar 24, 2011 at 1:49 PM, <Braid.P@parl.gc.ca> wrote:
Dear Mr. Field,

Thank you for your letter expressing your concern regarding immigration practices in Canada.

Mr. Braid believes that the subject of immigration, along with all of the processes and implications surrounding the central issue, is of great importance in our country. Immigrants have played a pivotal role in shaping our social, cultural, and economic development.

Our government realized that changes were needed to improve the immigration system.

We took action to speed up wait times and reduce the backlog for immigrants, while making our system more responsive to Canada's labour market needs.  We expanded the Foreign Credentials Referral Office and increased programs to assist with settlement and integration.

Also, our Government introduced Bill C-11, the Balanced Refugee Reform Act, which has now received Royal Assent. These reforms will improve Canada's asylum system, and ensure that Canada continues to protect vulnerable people, maintain the fairness and integrity of our system, exceed our international obligations, and reduce costs to the Canadian taxpayer.

However, removing individuals who do not have a right to enter or stay in Canada is essential to maintaining the integrity of our immigration program and to ensuring fairness for those who come to this country lawfully.

Reasons for removals include, but are not limited to: a threat to the security of Canada; involvement in crime, organized crime or crimes against humanity; failed refugee claims; or reasons of inadmissibility, such as expired visas, or misrepresentation of identity, including marriages of convenience and fraudulent documents.

The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act provides a formal structured process for reviewing risk before a person is removed. The person can apply to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration for a pre-removal risk assessment (PRRA), which determines if the person would be at risk (i.e., torture, cruel and unusual punishment) if returned to his or her country of nationality.

Additionally, the Government of Canada works hard to ensure that the voices and views of Canadians are incorporated throughout the legislative process, and that all interested parties can access and contribute to the procedure throughout its duration.

Canadians can be proud of the fact that throughout our history we have maintained a tradition of openness to newcomers from around the world.  We will continue to ensure that our system provides the best possible outcomes for Canada.

If you require additional assistance or have any further comments, please feel free to contact our office at any time.

Best regards,

Natalie Halpenny
Member's Assistant to Peter Braid, M.P.

-----Original Message-----
From: Kevin Field
Sent: February 14, 2011 10:58 AM
To: Braid, Peter - M.P.
Subject: refugees

Dear Mr. Braid,

I wanted to write you about a town hall meeting you missed last year.
It was on the subject of the immigration reforms that were drawn up
without proper consultation by 'on the ground' workers and tragically
passed into law.  I say tragically because I was against the nature of
the reforms back then and now I am seeing the results of them play out
in two different communities I and my partner are part of.  In each
community, multiple families who have been here an extended period of
time building a new life and bringing life and health to our
communities have been facing deportation.  One family actually got
split up, with the father having to go to one country and the mother
and children having to go to another--the dangerous region they had
fled from in the first place.  Doesn't such a situation strike you as
just plain wrong, no matter what the rationale behind it?  And if the
rationale is purely economic, as with so many things in the political
sphere today, I think it's quite shortsighted.  If you spend money
trying to kick families out of Canada, especially families who clearly
contribute much more to everyone's quality of life here than our
average native citizen, who is taught from a young age to be primarily
a consumer, I think this will end up costing us all more in real
dollar terms in both the short run (for the resources needed to
actively exclude, and the loss of their immediate economic
contributions) and the long run (in higher health care costs due to
poorer quality of life, if nothing else).  Please help put a stop to
this somehow.  I do think the current system as of last year needed
reforming, but the results of the path we took are exactly what
concerned groups last year predicted they would be, and they speak for
themselves.  I think if groups of people who work with refugees and
immigrants (social workers, lawyers, immigration officials, judges,
etc.) had been more widely consulted, this could have been avoided.  I
hope you act quickly in the best interests of Waterloo's communities
(and Canada's communities) in getting this reversed and arguing for a
more humane process this time.

Kev (uptown resident)

Re: FW: an open letter re: GMO foods file 924579

Dear Julie and Francine,

Please address my paragraphs about the Nature's Path Foods incident and voluntary labeling.  I asked specific questions about that, and your response did not address them whatsoever.  How this is to be considered anything besides dismissive is an interesting question to me.


On Wed, Mar 23, 2011 at 3:33 PM, CR Email Agent 10 <cragnt10@loblaw.ca> wrote:
Dear Mr. Field,

Thank you for your response. As per your request, my Director, Francine Berube, has been copied on this e-mail.

First and foremost, I would like to sincerely apologize if my response to your original e-mail seemed dismissive, as that was certainly not my intention.  As I'm sure you can appreciate, we receive a very high volume of customer contacts on a daily basis and from time to time, our Customer Relations team may use a positioning statement that reflect the business' position on a certain issue.  Please be assured that great consideration goes into preparing these statements and they certainly contain the most up to date information available.

I can understand your disappointment in this matter. However, for the time being, only foods that have greater than 95% GM content must have the GM claim featured on the packaging and Loblaw Companies certainly complies with that regulation.  We have found that the majority of customers looking for GMO free foods are satisfied by our PC Organics and national brand organic lines.  However, we always welcome and encourage product suggestions from our customers should they have certain requests. We are always looking for new ways to extend our assortment in an effort to better serve the diverse needs of our customers.

Mr. Field, the majority of single ingredient conventional foods in our stores, such as produce items,  are not  produced from GMOs.  Health Canada's website offers a listing of potential GM products, the majority of which are corn, soy, and canola based.  For more information you may wish to visit http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/gmf-agm/appro/index-eng.php. Please note that not all foods listed are GM based.  This is a novel food listing that includes a number of GM produced foods. Additionally, safety information respecting GM foods from Health Canada can be found at http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hl-vs/iyh-vsv/food-aliment/gm-tg-eng.php.

Thank you again for sharing your concerns with us. I would like to assure you that all customer comments, including those you have shared, are reviewed by our Senior Management team for further consideration.


Julie Dunham
Sr. Coordinator, Communications I LCL Customer Relations

1 President's Choice Circle | Brampton | Ontario | L6Y 5S5
(905) 459-2500 Ext. 613293 | F: (905) 861-2387| julie.dunham@loblaw.ca

-----Original Message-----
From: Kevin Field
Sent: March 9, 2011 8:27 AM
To: CR Email Agent 10
Subject: Re: an open letter re: GMO foods[00048E9A-1031-00078EF3] file 924579

Hello Julie,

Thank you for taking the time to respond.  If you could copy your
supervisor on your reply, I'd appreciate that.  It feels to me as if I
received a form letter response, which did very little to address my
concerns, and other parts of the content seem to have ignored things
that I already acknowledged.

If Loblaw Companies has such a responsibility as you mention, then why
did the Globe and Mail report in 2001 that Nature's Path Foods, Inc.
had it demanded of them to remove their GMO/GE labeling or risk losing
its suppliership with Loblaw Companies?  This voluntary standard your
company helped develop and publish in 2004 is just that: voluntary.
So your company can be completely in compliance with said standard (by
not labeling) and still pressure companies not to label, like in 2001.
Is this correct?

If Loblaw Companies is so interested in providing choices, then why is
this voluntary standard never voluntarily followed?  The *only* way I
can tell if something happens to have GE'd food in it or not is if
it's certified organic.  For those who can't afford certified organic
but want to be part of the segment of the market that's non-GE but not
completely certified, what choice have you left them?  You might argue
that this has been done in the interest of a level playing field, but
instead it has polarized it into rich and poor.

What of people who care enough to learn about what they're eating, and
are not okay with some GE food but fine with others?  Without
mentioning which ingredients are GE, they are unable to purchase these
things at your stores.  Since your stores make up the vast majority of
the Canadian market, I'd say that the power that that brings also
brings the responsibility to let people decide.  You might say,
everyone can choose to be your customer or not.  Well, sort of.  If
you're rich enough, you can have your food brought to you from
wherever you want.  Otherwise, you may be stuck with the nearest
supermarket, which is almost always one of yours.  This maybe doesn't
feel as super as it once did, when the previous generation decided to
spend their dollars at supermarkets instead of local stores until the
local stores went out of business.

Personally I am willing to go out of my way to go to stores that
actually offer me more choice.  I have to admit, when things get busy
in my life, that choice often is very difficult, or even impossible,
to make, depending on where I live and my access to transportation.
Nonetheless, until I see some actual responsibility being taken in
this regard by my local Loblaw-owned supermarket, I will increasingly
be trying my hardest to shop at other stores.  I'm already making
trips there just to be able to find food actually or produced
relatively near by, namely produce and dairy products.  The thing is,
the economic pressure you have put on your suppliers affects even what
I'm able to buy at stores that you don't own, because they supply to
them as well.  What should your suppliers do, run two separate product
lines, one for Loblaws and one for everyone else?  Sure, they could,
and then of course their costs and prices go up to cover this expense,
and their products are less competitive.  So even if they try not to
let you bully them, you are still bullying them.  Could you explain to
me how this lines up with your "shar[ing of my] concern about this

Kevin Field

On Mon, Mar 7, 2011 at 2:14 PM, customerservice@loblaws.ca
<customerservice@loblaws.ca> wrote:
> Dear Mr. Field,
> Thank you for taking the time to write to us.
> Loblaw Companies has the responsibility to deliver reliable and meaningful information to consumers.  We place great importance on the integrity of products sold in our stores.  Our responsibility is to guarantee freshness, quality, and accuracy of labeling of all products on our shelves.
> In 2004 the Canadian General Standards Board (CGSB) published the "Voluntary Labeling and Advertising of Foods that are and are not products of genetic engineering" standard.  This standard was developed as a joint initiative of CGSB and the Canadian Council of Grocery Distributors of which Loblaw Companies is a member.   Accordingly, we ensure that all products on our shelves comply with this standard.
> We share your concern about this issue.  However, I am sure you can also appreciate that as a retailer, it is important to act responsibly according to well-defined government standards, and to offer consumers a variety of choices. Loblaw Companies recognizes the diverse needs and preferences of our customers and we strive to offer many choices to meet those needs. That's why we are proud to carry a wide variety of Organic products that are offered throughout all Loblaw Companies affiliated stores; and many stores have Natural Value departments dedicated to providing customers with both organic and naturally produced products.  As you may know, each organic product adheres strictly to Canadian and International organic production standards, which include a prohibition on using genetically engineered material.  Each organic product is also certified by independent third-parties to provide additional assurance that the organic standards are met.
> Sincerely,
> Julie Dunham
> Sr. Coordinator, Communications I LCL Customer Relations
> 1 President's Choice Circle | Brampton | Ontario | L6Y 5S5
> (905) 459-2500 Ext. 613293 | F: (905) 861-2387| julie.dunham@loblaw.ca
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Kevin Field
> Sent: March 2, 2011 7:55 PM
> To: CR Email Agent 10
> Subject: an open letter re: GMO foods[00048E9A-1031-00077EE0]
> Dear Loblaws,
> I'm an old customer of your products, particularly in Zehrs and valu
> mart stores.  I heard that you have pressured your suppliers not to
> include claims of being GMO-free.  While I understand there's no
> Canadian government standard for labeling at this time, I do not agree
> with this strategy.  I want to know more about the food that I'm
> buying, and in my opinion, some labels are better than none at all.
> At least then independent researchers can investigate claims of being
> GMO-free, as they currently do with green products.  I find it
> irresponsible to blame the government for lack of a standard, while
> simultaneously stymieing your supplier's efforts.  It simply takes
> control, or the possibility of it, away from the public.
> Especially now that I have a small child in my care, and given that
> the long-term effects of GMOs are currently unknown, I have been
> lately buying, and will continue to buy, less and less PC and no name
> products while this issue continues.  I appreciate the emergence of PC
> Organics brands, but bullying your suppliers for advertising the fact
> that their products are GMO-free I feel reveals different intentions.
> So if you're only catering to the market, and not necessarily to the
> well-being of your customers, well, you're losing this individual's
> business, at least.
> I will voice to the government the opinion of the vast majority of
> Canadian consumers that we want GMO products to be labeled as such,
> but until then I'm also voicing it to you in the hopes that you start
> encouraging your suppliers to include such information, or better yet,
> discourage your suppliers from using GMO ingredients until more is
> known about the effects of their consumption, like similar chains in
> the US and EU have already done.  Don't keep Canada in the Dark Ages
> just because you have the power to do so.
> Sincerely,
> Kevin Field
> Ontario resident
> This email message is confidential, may be legally privileged and is intended for the exclusive use of the addressee. If you received this message in error or are not the intended recipient, you should destroy the email message and any attachments or copies, and you are prohibited from retaining, distributing, disclosing or using any information contained. Please inform us of the delivery error by return email. Thank you for your cooperation.
> Le présent message électronique est confidentiel et peut être couvert par le secret professionnel. Il est à l'usage exclusif du destinataire. Si vous recevez ce message par erreur ou si vous n'en êtes pas le destinataire prévu, vous devez détruire le message et toute pièce jointe ou copie et vous êtes tenu de ne pas conserver, distribuer, divulguer ni utiliser tout renseignement qu'il contient. Veuillez nous informer de toute erreur d'envoi en répondant à ce message. Merci de votre collaboration

This email message is confidential, may be legally privileged and is intended for the exclusive use of the addressee. If you received this message in error or are not the intended recipient, you should destroy the email message and any attachments or copies, and you are prohibited from retaining, distributing, disclosing or using any information contained. Please inform us of the delivery error by return email. Thank you for your cooperation.

Le présent message électronique est confidentiel et peut être couvert par le secret professionnel. Il est à l'usage exclusif du destinataire. Si vous recevez ce message par erreur ou si vous n'en êtes pas le destinataire prévu, vous devez détruire le message et toute pièce jointe ou copie et vous êtes tenu de ne pas conserver, distribuer, divulguer ni utiliser tout renseignement qu'il contient. Veuillez nous informer de toute erreur d'envoi en répondant à ce message. Merci de votre collaboration


For shame

I wondered why the Wikipedia page on Wörgl did not mention why an incredibly successful monetary system trial "was terminated by the Austrian National Bank" in 1933.  Bernard Lietaer explains:

"200 townships in Austria wanted to copy it. ... the central bank panicked and decided to assert its monopoly rights.  The people sued the central bank, but lost...  The case went to the Austrian Supreme Court, but was lost again.  After that it became a criminal offence in Austria...

"...Only a central authority saviour can help people who are not allowed to help themselves locally.  ...when there is enough demand, supply always manifests...  During the Anschluss of 1938, a large percentage of the population of Austria welcomed Adolf Hitler as their economic and political saviour.   The rest is well known history."

Holy Shift.


To the MPs who suggested that deportees wear GPS tracking devices on their ankles

You should wear one on yours.  At least, my MP should, because I can never tell for sure which city he's currently in: not from his web site, answering machine, or office staff.

How to ensure minimum wage = living wage

All politicians and government employees should have their wages capped at minimum wage.

I bet this would ensure a timely federal action plan when it comes to making inter-transit accessible, too.