Political Nonsense

I misunderstood this “benefit” Trudeau was proposing so I am correcting this blog.

When I read that Justin Trudeau planned/promised (if he wins the upcoming election) to increase the  CPP one-time survivor benefit by 25% FOR WIDOWS, I nearly came unglued.  What is equal about that?  Widows are single people who have lost their spouse to death.  As sad as that is, they sometimes get an insurance pay-out and/or a portion of that spouse’s pension and that person’s RRSPs, savings, investments, etc.  Single women get none of these things and aren’t given any other special benefits either.

This is one of the most ridiculous political promises I’ve seen from any of the parties – I guess it’s right up there with budgets will balance themselves!

For those of you who are planning to vote in October, I found a great internet article that very simply identifies, by category, each party’s platform for that category.  It’s an easy way to spot the differences between parties.  The url is:

I also noted, when reading through this article, that there is no category for seniors.  We represent a sizable group of voters across the county and we have contributed to the country for many years.  Are we ignored because we are “old”?  So many special interest groups get attention and special benefits – not so much for seniors.  I’m waiting for some of the actual candidates to knock at my door.  I do have some questions for them.  I think, as a group, we need to speak up.  I hope you will also have some questions for your candidates.




Ottawa a Sanctuary City??

While it sounds lovely – I understand why Jim Watson doesn’t like the idea.  I don’t usually agree with our Mayor – but in this case, I do.

I’m not even sure about the “legal and fully processed” refugee program in terms of our capacity to deal with these people so I sure can’t see adding to this issue by welcoming illegal immigrants.

Why should we reward people who have broken the law?  If you try to cross the border where there is a border office, you won’t be permitted into the country without the right paperwork – but if you cross through the fields where there is no border office, our RCMP actually help you out?  What’s wrong with this picture??

We have huge waiting lists for low-rental housing – where would we “house” illegal immigrants?  Surely they shouldn’t jump the cue over those on the waiting list?

Our health care system is almost at the breaking point – how would we manage the addition of more people who aren’t paying their way?

Our social assistance programs are stressed to the max.  Where is the money going to come from to help these people? We can’t even manage a snow removal budget never mind find pots of excess financial resources just waiting to be given to a group of illegal immigrants.

I would assume that at least some of these illegal immigrants are trying to get out of the United States because the current President has promised to get rid of “the bad guys”.  Do we really want the bad guys in our country?  Don’t we already have enough of our own? Without due process, there is no way of checking criminal records, ability to work, or anything else about these individuals.

Sanctuary for REAL REFUGEES with a capital R – is one thing.  Harbouring runaways from south of the border is a whole different kettle of fish.  I certainly hope that sane heads prevail and the message continues to be NO – NOT FOR OTTAWA.


It’s been a while!

I can’t believe that my creative juices (or my need to vent) have gone unfulfilled for almost a year!  There is something wrong with this picture.  So – here I am, back again.  This time I don’t have a specific topic to “chat” about – there are just so many of them.

Why oh why am I yet again seeing an article in the newspaper about the city’s snow budget going into the red???  Doesn’t this happen pretty much every year?  I would sure like to see a more normal budget for snow removal and take the huge risk of having some money left over for a change.

Trudeau…….Wynne…… – what are the similarities and what are the differences?  One is pretty, one is not.  They both make promises.  Neither keeps them.  They are both out of touch with reality.   They are both willing to mortgage our future and that of the next generations.  They are both too “green” for our collective good.  Climate change should not take priority over health, education, the economy, etc.  He can’t put a sentence together without a string of “uh’s”.  She is carefully rehearsed for every speech.

Why on earth would our City budget $10 Million for art in LRT stations???  Surely there could be a way to entice artists to display works for no cost at all for the exposure?  Why not run a program for donation of art-works?  Why not let art students paint murals on the walls?  Why is it a given that a certain percentage of all infrastructure projects be spent on art?  There must be something better to spend that money on.  Snow removal deficits?  Low rental housing?  Food banks?  Surely not  more bike lanes!!!

Why have airlines and airports taken the fun out of travel?  What’s the point of saving Airmiles or Aeroplan points if you can’t book seats when you want them?  Why are the taxes for a flight higher in cost than the flight itself?  Why have airports removed the “service” from customer service?  If it wasn’t for the travel itself, travel just might be enjoyable!!

I think I’m just getting warmed up again – I would welcome your comments and/or topic suggestions.

Thankfully, I do have things to rave about – mostly the people in my life!  You are appreciated and I don’t know how I would survive without you!




If Only Travel was Easy!

If they could take the “travel” out of “travel”, I’d be a happy camper!

I just returned from a lovely Rhine River Cruise (Amsterdam to Strasbourg – more about that in a separate post).  We flew via KLM (we didn’t have a choice).  This airline doesn’t do Ottawa, so they provide a bus service from the Ottawa Train Station to Montreal.  They even give this leg of the journey a flight number which made me giggle.

The only thing that worked really well was our Sprinter Van to take 12 of our group from Granite Court to the train station and return.  Elite Limousine did a great job – even though we were late arriving at the Train Station on our return.

Two of our group of 20 had requested “wheelchair assistance” at all airports.  It simply didn’t happen.  At Pierre Elliott Trudeau airport in Montreal, about 6 airport employees stood around with their fingers you-know-where lamenting the fact that there were people needing assistance and there didn’t seem to be any wheelchairs…..even though they had a list of names and the service had been booked in advance.

The flight itself was long and my seat was in the last row, checking out the number of bathroom trips people made during the 6 hours or so we were in the air.  I learned that there is economy and then there is “economy comfort” – which one has to pay for.  This moves you forward in the aircraft and might, if lucky, give you 4″ more leg room.  The upgrade to “comfort” isn’t cheap  at approximately $144 per person – per trip (not per return trip either).  I also learned that KLM staff (particularly airport staff) are rude and have no idea what customer service is supposed to mean.

Things didn’t work any better in the Amsterdam airport.  There eventually was some assistance, but it was in the form of a golf cart vehicle which could only go certain places – and one of those it could not go to was baggage retrieval.  Imagine!  One bag went missing – and our group leader had gone ahead without waiting to ensure everyone had their luggage.  The errant bag was eventually found and we headed into a central Amsterdam hotel where a “waiting room” was arranged since we couldn’t board our ship for hours!!!  This room had dreadful coffee from machines that seldom worked and a dismal plate of small biscuits. We had about 6 hours to wait.  The hotel wasn’t very happy about having us there since we were a large number (close to 150 people by the time everyone had arrived from various places) and associated suitcases – and our presence clogged up their lobby.

We had time to find a meal and eventually we boarded buses to go to the ship.  It was a long day made longer by travel issues galore.

Our return journey was only slightly better.  Firstly, up at 4:30am Strasbourg time to get our suitcases outside the hotel room door by 5am.  There was a breakfast of sorts – but only 1/2 hour to consume it and then find a bathroom before a 2-hour bus ride from Strasbourg to Frankfurt.  Because of tour routing, we had a flight from Frankfurt to Amsterdam and then another from Amsterdam to Montreal, and finally the KLM bus ride from Montreal to Ottawa.    Wheelchair assistance was an improved scenario from our initial trip out – but only after a great deal of insistence and lots of waiting – again, this service was pre-booked but it appears that truly means absolutely nothing.  We didn’t have time between flights (in Frankfurt) to eat and, due to airport renovation, there were no bathrooms in the area of our departure lounge.  The partner of our tour leader chose one of the airport line-ups to have a tantrum of sorts, complaining about whining bitches and how his vacation had been ruined.  Geesh – weren’t we customers?  Wasn’t it the job of a tour leader to work rather than take a holiday?

The last flight from Amsterdam to Montreal – finally on the plane and this time I wasn`t in the last row of the plane – just in the last row of a section – again beside the washrooms!  My Kobo had given up the ghost so I managed to watch a movie and even dozed a little.  The flight was late – not sure why – and our KLM bus wasn`t there  waiting for us – we had to wait outside in the cold – nobody was impressed and we were all very tired.  The bus ride was a quiet one.  We were so happy to see our Sprinter Van from Elite Limo waiting for us at the Ottawa train station.

Flying is no longer fun – not even a little bit.  Airports are huge and very busy.  Line-ups are long and customer service has almost completely disappeared.  If you need assistance, you not only need to pre-arrange it, but you must yell and scream at every junction of the trip and that still won`t get you much. Everyone (travellers and airport/airline staff alike) is tired and irritable.  Planes are not comfortable (at least in economy class), space is at a premium, getting on and off means waiting, pushing/shoving or being pushed/shoved, meals are barely edible, there are never enough washrooms – one feels like cattle being moved around by box-car – and for this you pay a lot!!

The next time I go anywhere requiring air travel, I want to transform myself into Samantha from Bewitched, wiggle my nose and instantly be wherever it is I want to be.  Or maybe I’ll just stick closer to home and drive!




I am So Disappointed

I had to give it a few days to let things sink in before commenting on our recent provincial election.

It is hard to believe that people are so selfish that they are driven by promises that relate to  job security, and higher wages – even at the cost of the province going bankrupt!

The financial situation of Ontario is not just something talked about by the opposition parties – the province has already been downgraded at least once in terms of it’s ability to borrow money – and we can expect another downgrade shortly. Our own auditor general has made many recommendations to get our finances back on track – mostly all ignored.

We have become a “have-not” province, subsidized by provinces like Saskatchewan, Newfoundland and Alberta when dealing with Federal transfer payments.

We have very high unemployment.

We have extremely high debt.

We have a situation where UNIONS are spending as much or more money than the provincial parties themselves on promoting (or dissing) one party over another.  What will happen when these very unions call in what they feel is owed to them by the provincial leader for providing such support?

We have two criminal investigations ongoing about the behaviour of the Liberal Party.

We have scandal after scandal after scandal relating to eHealth, ORNGE, Gas Plants, destroyed emails and more – most of which will now be swept under the carpet.

Ontarians have spoken.  They like this stuff.

They like debt.  They love spending – even if you don’t have the money.

They like dishonest politicians.

They are happy with high unemployment statistics.

They like having the Unions run the show.

They like being subsidized by other provinces.



Intimidation at your own Door

Gas Supply companies do it.

Hot Water Tank companies do it.

Hydro supply companies do it.

I never expected it from Bell Canada.  My doorbell rang this afternoon and there were two young men with clipboards and Bell Canada badges dangling from their shirt pockets.  They had my name on a list.

They wanted to offer me the greatest deal ever.  I asked if they had moved their tech support from India back to Canada.  They said – yes, moved to Ottawa.  (I wonder if they also have a bridge to sell me in New York).

I asked if they had figured out how to replace those ugly satellite dishes.  They said yes – everything is wireless.

I asked if they had some literature I could look at and think about.  They said NO.  The deal had to be done right then and there, in person, or there was no deal.  I SAID NO.

Any company that won’t provide you with pamphlets or some sort of paper copy of what they are offering and who has a time-limited offer of approximately 15 minutes  – BEWARE, BEWARE, BEWARE!  You could very well sign yourself up for disaster.  If it is a real deal, then they should be able to back it up with documentation.  I am truly surprised that Bell is behaving this way.  I will stick with Rogers.


Harper & Wynne

Well – I guess when your back is to the wall, you have an abysmal record to show for the last few terms, scandal is your middle  name, the province is nearly bankrupt, and there are 2 RCMP investigations ongoing – BLAME IT ON STEPHEN HARPER!

If you can move the public’s focus away from the real issues, why not, right?

Stephen Harper doesn’t make me feel warm and fuzzy – his origins are a bit to far to the one side for me – and his personality could do with a do-over, but he and his party have managed the country’s economy in a way that has made us the envy of the world.  Yes, there are scandals – e.g. some renegade senators piling up inappropriate expenses – but I don’t believe this constitutes a systemic problem within the party.  The same could be said, come to think of it, of Hudak!

I don’t mind the fact that MPs have pensions, perhaps they could be a little less lucrative!  I think Kathleen Wynne is just trying to distract us by raising an issue with Federal MP pensions.  As Christina Blizzard says in today’s Ottawa Sun…

“is that the worst thing she can say about him – that he has a pension?  I suspect he also doesn’t put smiley faces at the end of his emails.  Then again, I bet he doesn’t delete them either.”

That made me smile.

If the provincial Liberals are re-elected in June, I believe our province is doomed.  We will be mired in debt forever and will, before long, head the list of the “have-not” provinces.  We may not have wonderful choices – but the status quo should NOT be an option.




Mysteries about the Upcoming Election

The first thing that hit me square in the face was a comment that the premier’s visit to the lieutenant-governor’s office averted scheduled gas plant and email cover-up  committee appearances.  Why on earth would an investigation (by whatever name) be halted because parliament has been dissolved???  The alleged crime was still committed.  The people involved  (all prominent liberals), are still alive and well and available.  Sounds a darned bit far too convenient to me!!

Why, all of a sudden, does Andrea Horwath no longer trust the Liberals?  She said the growing list of scandals, including the decision to cancel two gas plants at a loss of up to $1.1 billion, were behind her decision,.  She has supported and propped up this government several times in the past and the same scandals were very public at those times.

I will make one small comment about the proposed Liberal budget.  Spending goes up $3.4 billion from the previous year.  The Finance Minister still says the budget will be balanced by 2017-2018 – but the deficit actually went up in this budget document.  What does he think we are all smoking???  The only way to make the deficit magically drop to zero is by increasing revenues – i.e. more taxes!!

Wynn has blamed the PC Party and the NDP Party for the upcoming election.  Could it just possibly be the limp budget the Liberals presented?  Could it not be the far less than stellar track record of her party?  Obviously not in her mind.  She even criticized Stephen Harper of ignoring Ontario’s fiscal and economic needs.  I don’t think he plays favourites – every province has needs – our provincial government has spent our province into the toilet.  It isn’t up to the Feds to bail us out.

Why are both the NDP and the Liberals completely in bed with the unions?  This didn’t use to be the way it played out.  Could it be that they both feel that bowing to union pressure buys votes?  Imagine thinking like that!!!

Why are the voting systems and wards set up such that the City of Toronto alone  can actually sway the result of a provincial election?

Why is McGuinty sequestered away in the USA?  I suppose that is one way of avoiding jail if the process ever gets that far in terms of investigating the alleged crimes that were committed.

Why are journalists still talking about the very real possibility that the Ontario Liberals could get re-elected.  Do folks really want Ontario to follow in the footsteps of Greece?  Hasn’t there been enough scandal?

I’m not naive enough to think that any political party out there is perfect, up-front and will be “scandal free”.  I do think that the Ontario Liberals have gone “above and beyond” in the way they have dealt with our money.  I do think the the scandals of the recent 12 years have been more serious than many in the past.  Ontario has become a have-not province under their guidance.  We have never been that before.

Do I wish that Hudak had a little more pizzazz and ability to get his message across?  Sure I do.  Am I concerned when reports say he has a little bit of Mike Harris in him?  Not a bit.  That is exactly what we need right now.  Even Mike Harris wasn’t perfect, but he was a better captain of the ship than Dalton McGuinty or Kathleen Wynn could ever be.

BRING IT ON.  Let’s hope the people of Ontario are wise enough to realize that 4 more years of the same thing will not be good for the province….and what isn’t good for the province isn’t good for the people.


The Joys (and otherwise) of Pet Ownership

As most of you know, I have 3 cats – Olivia (13 and about 9 lbs), Herbie (7 and about 11 lbs) and Blaze (7 and about 23 lbs).

Since Sunday, Olivia and Herbie have refused to eat.  Blaze is eating a bit – but isn’t his usual little piggy self, gulping down his food and then trying to steal everything else.  He eats half his own food and that’s it.

First I tried different cat foods, wondering if the food I had was somehow bad.  Nothing.

First trip to the vet was Tuesday morning……with Olivia and Herbie.  It is so difficult to lug Blaze anywhere, that I always start with the little guys.  They were both checked over to the tune of $304.00 and nothing was found that would relate to their refusal to eat.  The vet did find a problem with one of Herbie’s teeth – extraction required – estimate a further $1,000.

This morning they were all 3 waiting for me to get up, kept me company in the bathroom while I had my shower and then raced into the kitchen for breakfast.  AHA, I thought – all is back to normal.  But no.  Blaze ate a bit and the other 2 walked away from their food.

Second trip the vet at 10am this morning.  Another vet (their usual one) checked them both out and found nothing out of the ordinary.  Blood taken from both and a wide variety of tests will be run.  Today’s bill was $567.00.  I may or may not have the results before the weekend.

So, I am up to a cost of $871 with a further $1,000 needing to be done – and they still aren’t eating.  The vet suggested I take all food away and give them nothing until suppertime and then try the usual wet food that they like.  In fact most mornings there is a cacaphony of meows as I dish it out.  This is all very stressful, not to mention expensive – and expenses I wasn’t planning on.

I sent an email to my financial guy asking for more RRSP money to be cashed in.

I am scheduled to go on vacation May 9th – I do have a live-in cat sitter – but I hate to leave unless things are settled.  Hopefully the blood tests will show up something that can be treated.

The only thing that is different in the house is my switch from a hot water tank to a tankless hot water system – and that took place late in March.  I have asked Reliance Holmes Heating to come and do an air quality test and to double-check the installation.  I have no idea what that will cost.

I absolutely have to find something to rave about soon – I’m over my rant quota for the month!!



Being Single

I usually try to add a rave or two before I rant again – but this one just has to be vented.

There are a great many financial benefits for being part of a couple……even more if you are part of a senior couple.

  • two incomes to share the costs of accommodation (housing, maintenance, utilities, insurance, property taxes) – or rent for that matter
  • two incomes to share the costs of owning a car (having two cars is a choice)
  • income splitting at income tax time
  • it’s always less expensive to feed more than one on a per capita basis
  • spousal RRSPs

Where, oh where, is some sort of dispensation for being single?  Benefits for married folk have changed over the years – but they have been around since long before my time.  Anyone who lives alone will tell you it is very expensive and there is nobody to share the basic costs of living.  Does nobody care?  Are we not standing up for ourselves?

Have you ever tried to travel anywhere by yourself?  They slap a whopping “single supplement” onto an already large sum of money because you are “alone”.  If it’s a cruise, it’s as much as another 50% of the total package cost.

One thing worse than being single is being a single senior – one pension (maybe one), one OAS, one CPP……so I  might, grudgingly, even settle for some special dispensation for being a senior – reduce our property taxes, reduce our utilities – we no longer have kids in school and goodness knows – we’ve paid for the infrastructure many times over.

There are a great many people talking about how difficult it is becoming to keep your financial nose above water these days.  There is talk about helping those with the lowest incomes.  I don’t have a problem with that.  However – I would truly like to hear some talk about helping single income households.  It is long overdue.