Friday, September 30, 2005

Just this DeLay - or are there more to come?

"WASHINGTON (AP) -- A Texas grand jury on Wednesday charged Rep. Tom DeLay and two political associates with conspiracy in a campaign finance scheme, forcing the House majority leader to temporarily relinquish his post."

Commentators are strangely silent on the Tom DeLay charges. As though we need to add to our discomfort and unease with regard to the way the politcal system operates in the US, I nonetheless feel that the news of Tom DeLay's alleged behaviour only lengthens the shadow over the Bush administration. If someone were to stand up and not only shout fraud, but prove it, then these past years and the sqandering of several hundreds of Billions of US taxpayers' cash, will have been a thorough waste of Global community's time and resources. How many Tom DeLay's did it take to enable Bush Jnr. to break into enter the White House? When this story expands something tells me that more DeLay's will show up on the ethics monitor. And I don't mean delays in starting times at a golf game. The Republican scar will be present on the skin of the United States perhaps for centuries to come.
October 3, 2005 It now seems a money laundering charge is in the we go again.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

South Africa and Canada can be resourceful partners

Growing up and being schooled in South Africa in the 1950s and 1960s resulted in a keen awareness of the fact that the country we lived in was a key player in the world's supply of many natural resources. Gold, diamonds, coal, uranium and iron to name a few. Writ large across the country's history were the names of Cecil John Rhodes, Barney Barnato and in more recent times such royal families of mineral exploration as the Oppenheimers.
From the start the scramble for mineral fortunes was reflected by both the obvious benefits to the individual adventurers from Europe and the pain and indignity forced upon the indigenous peoples of this newly occupied region. That is all behind us now. The resources themselves however remain in abundance.
Canada, while successfuly hiding the negative impact of the British and the French adventurers in the form of early trappers and later the Hudson Bay Company, is the home of an equally rich reserve of resources, almost matching if not beating South Africa in terms of natural wealth. As a team on the international resource stage, the combination of these two nations presents a formidable partnership.
Such an alliance would be built not simply on the resources themselves, but on the knowledge, skills and experience that has developed through the channels of the corporate and academic organizations in both countries. Relative economic stability, threatened only by the Boer War, two world wars and in the case of South Africa, the troubled era of Apartheid, has meant that these two countries have been able to advance their technologies at a faster pace than most other sovereignties with the exception perhaps of the United States. Russia and China while promising greater natural wealth remain less capable of mineral exploration and exploitation and politically less stable.
Today South Africa's interest rates, while still high, are coming closer in line with their peer countries such as Canada, consequently opening the doors to smoother future cooperation.
As early as the late 1970s South African entrepreneurs saw the potential for Canada as a shelter from, it seemed, South Africa's uncertain future. Interestingly too was the arrival in Canada of white Rhodesians who felt even more threatened in Africa than their kinsfolk in South Africa. The Rhodesians, it turns out, had more to fear than the South Africans.
By the time the 1990s rolled around and even more so in this new century, the presence of South African resource specialists and the companies who employ them has grown dramatically in Canada. It seems that the foundations for a strong partnership has already been laid. Curiously, there is little or no evidence of any concious political drive to initiate, support or promote this partnership. Canadian politicians are as much to blame as their South African counterparts.
The two countries could probably benefit from snuggling up closer to one another than they they have so far. South Africa and Canada have much to offer one another. Science, technology, communications, humanities, housing, social services, commerce and trade, political and corporate governance, medicine, transport, international trade, sustainable growth, urban development, aerospace, arts and culture.
Canada has helped South Africa in two strangely oriented, perhaps opposing ways. Canada has historically voiced its public opposition to the Apartheid system in the United Nations (while, it must be said, supporting its own equivalent apartheid-lile policies with respect to Canada's indigenous peoples) and on the other side of the equation Canada has welcomed many white South African immigrants who fled the uncertainties of South Africa in the 1980s and 1990s. This migration, while driven intitially by fear, may now prove beneficial to both countries.
Given the ambiguities of NAFTA and the inward-looking policies of Washington and Congress, combined with a less than welcome US attitude towards the United nations, it seems to this observer that the time for South Africa and Canada to form stronger trade and political ties is upon us. Combine these two remnants of the Commonwealth and then add in the presence of a powerful Europe and the future, to this observer a least, seems a lot brighter.

Original one-liners

  • "Money is the loot of all evil."
  • "The pun is mightier than the pen."
  • "Art is the inventory of the soul."
  • "So, I met this fisherman. I said.......I said, what's your net worth?"
  • "I had this rabbit. I called him Anthony Hopkins."
  • "Pantaloon" def. Canadian trouser-wearing duck.
  • The Houdini Union for Escape Artists - "Untied we Stand."
  • "It is not slaves who should be abolished, it is their masters."
  • "Panhandlers are a catalyst for change."

Monday, September 26, 2005

Took a stroll on Sunday up 224th Street through the cool fall air. 224th Street lingers between its former days as the commercial hub of Old Haney and its present day role as host to a mix of neglected inner city lots, a few low cost housing units, the orginal home of neighbourhood's most famous citizen Thomas Haney, a funeral parlour, a gift shop and a gym in a run down and crumbling old building. Two heritage houses sit glumly in the row. A new museum is planned for the lot beside the old Thomas Haney house, a sign that life may be picking up on 224th Street.

So, strolling up through the mist and sun faintly peeking through, I found an elderly man in white
T-shirt and jeans walking the perimeter of one of the low-cost housing buildings. He was picking up the litter from the sidewalk and the flower beds around the property, left no doubt, by the less community spirited denizens of the night. We have many like this gentleman in Old Haney. They bode well for the future of this historic neighbourhood.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Tyler Ducharme for Maple Ridge Council 2005

Below is the first discourse between Tyler Ducharme and Claus Andrup regarding Tyler's first attempt at being elected to council in the forthcoming municipal election in Maple Ridge. Election day is November 19, 2005.

Hey Tyler:

I'd be more than happy to lend a hand with your material. Just for the exercise, I have included a post for the November Elections on my blog (click on radiohaney link below). Feel free to check in on the blog for any ideas which may show there that are of help also. I may be attending Linda King's strategy session today - not for sure.
Of interest in all these debates is how limited we are for choice: public safety, education, environment, homelessness, transport, urban planning and so on. It is very hard to find an issue of substance that is of more importance than another. One issue that I do have with Maple Ridge is that not enough staff are employed to fully service the community.
Arrogance on the part of council and some staff is another issue. Outright misrepresentation of the facts and obfuscation at every turn is a problem too. One of the big complaints you will hear from all sides is that there is no "vision" for Maple Ridge. One might start with the question, is Maple Ridge really "vision worthy"? That is to say, do we need a vision or do we simply trundle along, allowing our future to be determined by external events rather than internal decision making? The other question I have for those seeking a visionary approach is this; vision it seems to me is something that appears out of the blue, I am not sure that vision is something that can be conciously or purposely achieved. In other words you either have it or you don't. In the case of Maple Ridge it seems to me that vision would not be high on the list when describing this community. And, like it or not, the composition of the elected officials and the performance of staff is a precise reflection of the mores of the community. So while council turns up its nose at many of the recommendations proposed by staff and while staff may loath from time to time the task of labouring under the yoke of council, and the community may ridicule and praise Municipal decisions at will, the fact is that we are all in this together.
How is that for a start?



Tansi Claus: Wasn't able to contact you yesterday as I had to use
the day as full work day. The newspaper has contact me for an
article so I'll write it up over the next couple of days. Any
suggestions? I think I'll do up a broad draft and get some input
from you about specific issues if you have the time. Let me know if
that works for you.
PS: You might see some Aboriginals sign off with All My Relations
which is a more spiritual sign off. It relates to the idea that a
person is the sum of everyone that has come before them.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Maple Ridge Municipal Elections 2005

Maple Ridge & Pitt Meadows NEWS editor Michael Hall in the Saturday, September 24 2005 edition posed the follwing questions to the incumbent Mayor and 6 council members. It is easy to pretend that one is running, so that is what I did. Below are the questions and how I would have answered them.

Q: Do you support the proposed new Official Community Plan wording and schedule on suburban expansion to Thornhill? [When central Maple Ridge densifies and the district approaches a population of 100,00.] If not, what would you change?
A: I do not support the OCP for many reasons, and neither does 56% of the population of Maple Ridge. One should not be considering any expansion of residential zones in any direction at this stage. Landowners and developers need to recognize that a surplus of land within the urban envelop exists and needs to be built out before consideration can be given to encroachment of the Agricultura Land Reserve or the Green Zone. The District acknowledges a shortage of industrial and commercial space and this should be the priority if any expansion at all is to be contemplated.

Q: Do you favour a big-box shopping mall in Albion Flats or Lougheed Highway, yes or no and explain.
A: No. Proponents of big-box malls such as FirstPro are applying outmoded philosophies and rules to retailing. If they are to be of any use to the communities they wish to operate in, they will need to spend more time on developing responsible design and constuction criteria. Aside from this land use is an issue when it comes to the Albion Flats. The Albion Flats have the potential to be developed in a way that demonstrates that Maple Ridge is capable of leadership in urban planning. We have yet to find a developer who is willing to go this route and until such time as we do there is no hurry to develop the Albion.
Q: Generally, in what areas should Maple Ridge focus its commercial and/or industrial development?
A: If by "areas" you mean geographical areas we are limited for choice. There are a handful of designated zones that are close to capacity. With the new Fraser Crossing due for completion in 2009 it is fair to assume that these existing zones will be built out by then. The most obvious and possibly the most contentious choice would be to convert the farmlands in the vicinity of Pelton Reforestation, including the Pelton property itself, to an industrial commercial zone. Less talked about is the notion that with the addition of some ramps, the entire Barnston Island to be the focus of all commercial activity for Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge. While of no direct tax benefit to the coffers of Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows it would nonetheless shorten the commute to work for many and quite possibly become the economic driver for surrounding businesses in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows. A third option is voiced by certain councilors that one can lighten the load on the environment and on existing residential and agricultural areas by spreading new industrial and commercial projects throughout the District. This is a good idea on the surface and demonstrates reponsible social and environmental thinking. What is does not account for is the fact that the process for each project would be arduous on Staff, Council and indeed the NIMBY contingency that would be busy on a full-time basis contestiing each application. So there are three options. There are more of course. If by areas you mean types of business I believe we should be looking at high-paying technology and information-based businesses.

Q: Why should you be re-elected this term? Or what do you consider being your greates contribution on council this term?
A: Not applicable.
Q: What was the latest book you've read?
A: "Death Sentences" by Tom Watson.

Whistle blower.

The view from our deck is mesmerizing. Not only to the visitor, but even to the permanent residents of this modest townhouse, often described as a $10 home with a million dollar view. Immediately below the deck is a small stretch of lawn surrounded by patches of flower beds. After more than 10 years I'm still not sure of the names of the flowers. A tired and unstable weathered cedar fence attempts to protect the lawn and the flower beds from a horde of insurgent blackberries and assorted weeds who malinger on the narrow strip of municipal land at the foot which runs River Road.

The West Coast Express railway station lies directly across from our home on River Road. A narrow line of tall trees, leaning this way and that stand on the banks of the Fraser River alongside the railway track. And then of course there is the mighty Fraser. Less than a hundred paces from the railings of our deck. Seemingly about half a mile wide in the middle of this wide bend. We learned one day from the tour guide at Hell's Gate, a tourist attraction way higher up the the river, that the spot in front of our house (known famously for the Haney Slide - which will no doubt show up here later) is the second deepest spot in the river. So deep, that one could erect a ten story building with its foundations in the river bed and not see the roof above the waterline. I forgot to ask him whether this would be true of both high and low tide?

The river bank on other side is designated regional park. Known as Derby Reach, it is occupied by campers in the spring and summer months with a few stragglers who hang on into the fall. Knowing that the view in front of this place will remain unchanged is what keeps us here in our $10 home.

The most common question we hear? "Don't you mind the train whistles?" If we did, I answer defensively, we would move. To some the train whistle, the rumbling trains, the not infrequent loud rattling of the midnight shunting, is a comfort and a blessing. To some the cacophony of metal on metal all night, accompanied by loud whistles may be intrusive during sleep. To the Andrups it presents not a problem at all. If anything the whistling, the banging and metallic drone connects to worlds far away. To China, to Calgary, to Toronto, Galveston and Turin. The trains remind us of the world beyond the the Corporation of the District of Maple Ridge.

Over the years the mind records the thousands of trains and train whistles subconciously and it is possible to detect the weight, type, speed, load and direction of a train from the feintest sound when it first comes into earview. The extent to which our house shudders at 4am while we sleep sends a a very distinct message; the train is returning with an empty string of grain cars to be refilled in the prairies. Or the train is loaded with containers of auto-parts from Europe. Another load of potash perhaps? Or sulphur to brighten the pile at Port Moody?

From time to time we read in the local press that one group or the other is getting ready a petition to ban the train whistles. Strangely, those people tend to live further away from the train than those who live well, almost on top of the tracks, as we do. Then we read from time to time that a car, truck or pedestrian has met with the train where one would least expect it, right on the tracks. The outcry for the banning of train whistles, dimmed by death, recedes for short while.

Some time ago the Corporation of the District of Maple Ridge assigned $30,000 towards a study on train whistles. What may be learned from such a study? From my own brief research I concluded that standing next to a train as it blows its whistle can hurt your eardrums. A direct hit from a train while you are strolling the track will make your eyes water. Turning down the volume on your iPod is one way of avoiding being hit by a train. And do not assume the rumbling below your feet is the next "big one" as trains are more frequent than earthquakes.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Where now?

America. What words I wonder to myself will follow that word when it is the first word spoken in any given utterance by a person on TV, the radio or in casual conversation? America.

America the great? The free? The protector? The guardian? The champion of democracy? The architect of world order? America. The home of the free? The brave? The bright and enlightened? The charitable? The educator, innovator and provider of wondrous technology?

America. The leader? Sage for lesser sovereignties? Guiding light? In 1969, I never thought to question. In 2005 the question is never far from the surface? Where now America?

The poet as a young man

Idoville, Circa 1986.

Drawing by Nick Simpson of the cocky, young writer at 23 in his the living room at 'Idoville', the home he shared with his mother in Wynberg, Cape Town.


He looked

Above his head

Staring in disbelief

at the halo.

What have I done

to deserve this?

and then he remembered he remembered the thin




that he had fed.

Claus Andrup

First published in NEW NATION October 1971, Pretoria, Republic of South Africa


I do not see a land in turmoil; a land of sinners or sinned by. I see no west, nor south, nor east nor north. There is no gold in my vision. No sea routes, no tradition, no international consequence. The only history I understand is my meagre, three decades. Suffering in every texture, hue and name remains a mystery to me. There is no aim in my view; the barrel of my gun swings wild in the debate. My sights are sightless; senses, senseless; need, needless. For me there is no terrotory, boundary, fence, limit, or horizon. All parties seem guilty and guiltless at one and the same time.

I do not see a land in turmoil. There is no gold in my vision. There is no aim in my view. The barrel swings wild in the debate. For me, for now, there is no territory. My only desire is to feel, once again, the sand of the two coasts beneath my feet. And the colour of the corpses will fade beyond recognition, in time.

CA 1976 (unpublished)

The historical neighbourhhod of Port Haney

Radio Haney reports on events in old Haney, the historical district of Maple Ridge, a town of 70,000 on the banks of the Fraser River in the Fraser Valley, British Columbia, Canada.

Monday, September 26, 2005 From our deck this afternoon we spotted a Fraser River Port Authority vessel standing off near the log booms just in front of the house. An old and weathered forestry vessel has been in the neighbourhood for two or three weeks, tied up a the Haney Wharf. Some of the local fishermen complained that the old boat was taking up too much room. Others used it as a fishing platform while casting for the last stragglers of the Fraser River Pink Salmon run. Not a bad year 2005, I even mananged to bag a few. A couple of them are being smoked down at Bruce's Market in the Albion. Lemon Dill and pepper flavoured, I believe.

Anyway, back to the boat. It is not the only apparently abandoned vessel down at the dock which hosts a number of barely floating craft. It is not quite true to say they are abandoned either because, even though they look that way, a frequent visitor to the dock will know that there are signs of life.

So somone must have alerted the Fraser River Port Authority. They stood off for a short while and then moved over to the dock. An officer aboard called out to the fishermen to make room for him as he was going to tie up. They grumbled and then moved. Next thing you know, a couple of regular RCMP cops show up and walk down to the Port Authority boat, board it and disappear into the aft cabin. Something's up at the Port Haney Wharf. For sure.