The Fountain Pen, Guelph's On-Line News

Decisions, Decisions

Web posted on January 07, 2017

A Curmudgeon's View

By Les Enekes

Happy New Year everyone. Most of us should be recovered from the holidays by now, except for our wallets which shall remain thinner thanks to the new TAX from She Who Must Not Be Re-elected, and waist lines. It would be nice if it were the other way, fatter wallets and thinner waistlines. It's time to get back to reality.

Many rather interesting decisions were made just before Christmas. Here is a second look at three of them.

I was very disappointed with the final decision on who will be on our new $10 bill. There was only one choice for the woman to be on our new $10 bill. Pauline Johnson should have been the logical choice. With all the talk of reconciliation with our indigenous peoples her choice should have been obvious. We needed to put an aboriginal person on one of our bank notes.

Perhaps the reigning monarch should remain on coins only. I would have preferred that the $5 and $10 bills remain the way they are. Laurier and Macdonald should remain on our currency. The $20 bill should be reserved for an aboriginal person. That would leave the $50 and $100 bills open to salute worthy individuals as long as they are not politicians. As we change our bills every few years, it would be very easy to have a different person on the large bills with each new issue.

This is one debate where no matter what you say, someone will consider it racist, sexist, politically incorrect, or just inconsiderate.

Trivia question: There are only two living people who have been on Canadian currency. One is Queen Elizabeth. Who is the other? Hint: this person was on a non circulating coin. As far as I know, this person resides in Guelph. Sorry, there is no prize for getting the right answer, so there is no need to send in your answers, unless you are the person in question. In that case I would love to hear from you. I will post the answer in a few weeks. I plan to have some more interesting trivia questions when I can connect them in some way to the subject of my column.

The government has chosen a new fixed wing search and rescue aircraft to replace the aging Buffalo and Hercules currently in service. We are only buying 16 aircraft that will be based in four locations spread across Canada. None of these aircraft will be based in the far north. There is a serious need for at least one northern search and rescue base. We do have a few Twin Otter aircraft based in Yellowknife. There will be more ship traffic through the Northwest Passage in the future. Airline traffic in the north is increasing every year. These 16 aircraft would be a good start, but we would still need small number of Hercules sized aircraft for long range rescues, as well a smaller ski equipped plane for winter use such as the updated version of the Twin Otter being built in Victoria B.C by Viking Aircraft. In order to account for aircraft in maintenance and upgrading, we should have purchased 18-20 as a minimum. To have a credible northern presence we would probably need four to eight more aircraft.

The choice of aircraft could be argued. Both the C-295 and the C-27 are in service with numerous countries. I would have picked the C-27. Did they make the right decision, only time will tell. Will there some type of scandal associated with this purchase, again time will tell. I seem to recall a former Prime Minister being accused of improprieties when Air Canada bought the A320 aircraft from Airbus. The C-295 is made by Airbus. Hmmm.

As always, we will be dependant on the U.S. Coast Guard for any serious rescue missions off either coast. They have 24 Coast Guard Air Stations, with 204 fixed and rotary wing aircraft. There are also several U.S. Air Force squadrons that have search and rescue as their primary mission.

With the way our governments have been neglecting all branches of our military the motto of our armed forces should be changed to "Too Little, Too Late." I wonder what the Latin translation is. They are doing the best they can, with what they are not given.

Then there was the decision by Toronto to put tolls on the DVP and the Gardiner. If this idea isn't put down, it will put us on track for every municipality to start putting tolls on all their most traveled roads. Unfortunately, She Who Must Not Be Re-elected is not going to put a stop to this. What a surprise. It's bad enough that we are stuck with the 407. Toll roads should not exist, we are already paying too much to drive as it is.

Frivolous spending by too many cities is completely out of control. They all think that vital infrastructure will last forever and they don't have to worry about it. Then they throw the money that should be used for the upkeep of infrastructure at all sorts of pet projects that waste millions. Just look at what our local politicians have done over the years, and how much it has cost us.

Things like roads, sidewalks, police, fire, ambulance, transit, libraries, garbage removal, parks, recreation, seniors services, water and sewers just to name a few, that must be considered core services. Once we get outside of the basics, it's time to set some priorities for certain special projects and how they will be paid for. There are no easy solutions. Everyone has what they consider to be vital services that must not be touched.

We all have to live within our means, and that means that hard choices have to be made. There are a growing number of people who have to decide whether to pay for their hydro, or eat, or buy Christmas gifts. Every money grab from our politicians is hurting the average taxpayer. They are getting more and more creative in their efforts to screw us. No matter what they call it, be it a special levy, road toll, cap and trade, or "carbon" tax, it is still money that too many people can't afford to pay any more.

Governments at all levels have to start making some hard choices. The constant fleecing of the taxpayer must be brought under control. There are politicians of every stripe at every level throwing around our money like drunken sailors.

My choice of what governments should and should not be spending money on, may very well be quite different from your choices. We are all very passionate about our choices no matter how right or wrong (in our own minds) they may be. I am also reasonably sure that we can all agree that there is too much waste by all levels of government. Have a look at the Auditor General's reports (provincial or federal) if you are interested in reading some real horror stories.

If Donald Trump succeeds in draining the swamp (or even a part of it) in Washington, you can rest assured that we will have many people running on that type of platform in our next set of elections. Voters are fed up and there will be change.

Les Enekes can be reached directly by owl. For those not owl equipped, he can be reached at

The views of columnists in The Fountain Pen do not necessarily represent the views of the principals of the publication.

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