31 Jul

A Little Perspective on Transit “Disconnect”

This morning, an interesting blog entry came across my Twitter feed. In it, the author bemoans the disconnect between Hamilton and Niagara from a public transit perspective. I can appreciate his point of view as someone who remembers when Megabus offered a more direct connection. But he lost me when he described the Stoney Creek/Barton connection, one I have used and by and large, find quite acceptable, as one of those options “not worthy of consideration.”

By way of comparison, consider the case of Winnipeg, the city I defected from three years to the day tomorrow.

Decades ago, you used to be able to take the train to Minneapolis. Not anymore.

There was also a train to Winnipeg Beach and Gimli. Stuff of legend in that part of the world. Long since gone by the wayside.

The trains were replaced by buses. A late as a decade ago, there was still regular bus service south of the border. Unfortunately, that too is gone. As is the service to the Interlake. Even the iconic Winnipeg to Selkirk route so capably handled by Beaver Bus Lines for so many years is hanging by a thread.

Things aren’t any better when trying to get to points east and west. Trains only come through the city two or three times a week and cross-Canada bus routes have been decreasing in frequency.

Even if there was some decent inter-city bus service available, simply getting to the bus terminal nowadays has become a Herculean challenge following the puzzling decision to relocate the bus terminal out by the airport. Though the airport is technically served by Winnipeg Transit, service there can be best described as abominable.

As someone who used to live on a flight path close to the airport, I would have had to have taken three buses to get there, two of which were low-frequency routes. The hour-long walk would have been faster, though hardly an option if you’re carrying suitcases. The old bus terminal was Ground Zero for indigents and a place where you had good reason to fear for your safety, but being centrally located in the heart of downtown , it was at least easily accessible from most points within the city.

The city could readily remedy the situation with a high-frequency shuttle service to the airport from nearby Polo Park, a popular transit hub. But they choose not to. Instead, they continue to shovel hundreds of millions of dollars into the so-called Rapid Transit project to shave a few minutes off a ride from downtown to the U of M.

Insert sound of a toilet flushing.

As much as people in this part of the world complain about public transit, consider the alternative.

You could be living in Winnipeg.

26 Jul

Random Thoughts – Scheer’s New Deputy, Dave Bell, Winter Cycling and More

1. Newly minted CPC leader Andrew Scheer appointed Lisa Raitt as the party’s new deputy leader. As I’ve noted previously, Raitt is a capable backbencher and she’ll make a good member of Scheer’s cabinet down the road. She’s definitely no empty-headed Barbie doll the likes of which fill Selfie Boy’s cabinet, but her appointment still reeks of affirmative action. Just because the Liberals and NDP are going hog-wild with gender-balanced cabinets, it doesn’t mean the Conservatives have to blindly follow along like sheep.

2. Though she is being hailed as some kind of role model, I had never heard of Julie Payette, who is scheduled to be our next Governor-General.

3. I can’t help but think that Ken Noakes’ involuntary departure as the general manager of the Meridian Center will be a good thing.

3a. I hope that his successor or successorette will soon be presiding over the historic first cleaning of the glass in the three-year-old building. At least I can hope.

4. Longtime Jets fans may recall that during the WHA era, the princely sum of $9.25 bought you an ice-level seat on one of the orange chairs behind either the north or south end goal. Today it gets you a jumbo hot dog at a Chipman game. How times have changed and not for the better.

4a. Are there really suckers out there willing to pay $9.25 for “meat” shoveled into a casing with a backhoe?

5. IceDogs head coach Dave Bell took everyone by surprise when he suddenly left to become an assistant with the AHL’s Ontario Reign. Certainly no one can begrudge him for taking an opportunity to move up the ladder, as the OHL, after all, is all about development, and that includes coaches, officials and front-office personnel as much as it does the players. But leaving your team in the lurch with just over a month before training camp has a serious odor to it, an odor that may follow him all the way out to California.

5a. I don’t envy IceDogs GM Joey Burke. He sounded like someone who was completely blindsided by Bell’s announcement and now he has to scramble to find a coach.

6. This almost comical article on winter cycling penned by Anders Swanson came across my Twitter feed today. In it, Swanson, a Winnipegger, cavalierly states that, “in a city, the risk of being harmed by the weather while cycling is reduced to nil with a basic scarf and jacket.” Um, not exactly. As someone with thousands of miles of personal experience in this regard, trust me, you need a whole lot more than a scarf and a jacket when trying to get around Winnipeg on two wheels in January. Add a down parka, the thickest pair of mitts that money can buy, a couple of layers of socks, some longjohns and a good balaclava. Even then, you can soon end up with frostbite on your face and searing pain in your fingers by the time you get to where you’re going.

In his piece, he also stated, “Those -30C days do happen in Winnipeg, but they are pretty uncommon.” Sorry, Anders, they are quite common. And they last for weeks on end with the wind chill values reaching into the -40 and even -50 ranges.

7. Once again today, Mayor Sendzik sure didn’t miss his opportunity to bash Donald Trump. No doubt his Liberal masters are pleased as punch. I only wish he cared as much about his city as he did about being a good Liberal.

7a. A “good Liberal” is a contradiction in terms, isn’t it?

7b. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a municipal politician who didn’t run under a party banner pushing partisan politics as hard as he has.

17 Jul

Random Thoughts – Omar Khadr, Minimum Wage, Our Mayor and More

1. I don’t know what’s worse, Justin Trudeau giving $10 million of our money to a terrorist or those who still defend our adolescent prime minister.

2. As the Ontario Liberals prepare to raise the minimum wage to $15/hour, the silence from the mayor’s office has been deafening. If you may recall, Walter Sendzik campaigned on a pro-business platform and regularly posts selfies of himself together with small business owners, the group that will be hardest hit by an increase in the minimum wage.

While it is true that minimum wage is not a municipal issue, he never hesitates to add his two cents worth on Liberal-endorsed hot-button topics like climate change that fall well out of the scope of municipal politics. So it would hardly be inappropriate for him to issue a strong show of support for the small business owners in St. Catharines. Instead, he pleads the Fifth, proving once again that when it comes to sticking up for his city or sticking up for the Liberals, the latter shall prevail.

2a. In a recent edition of the sub-Standard, Doug Herod opined that he didn’t expect Sendzik to get any serious challengers should he seek a second term. I seriously hope he’s wrong. Sendzik used to be a great ambassador for the city. Nowadays, he’s just an increasingly annoying ambassador for the Liberals.

3. I find it interesting how Sendzik becomes so full of righteous indignation when Donald Trump pulls out of the Paris climate accord, a non-binding agreement that the U.S. government never even approved, yet he suddenly clams up when his BFF Justin gives $10 million to a terrorist.

4. In the latest issue of the Garden City Current, the city advises any citizen who witnesses someone in the act of painting graffiti to call 911. You can imagine the shock I felt as someone who has lived most of his life in a city where a pedestrian being hit and nearly killed by a car isn’t even deemed a reportable offense. Yes, I’m still bitter.

5. A rotund woman passed me on the trail north of Allanburg yesterday. As she went by, I thought I smelled cookies. Eau de Oreo, perhaps.

6. In the nearly three years since leaving the SPRM, I have put on over 8,920 miles on two wheels. In those travels, I have visited every Niagara municipality in addition to Hamilton, Burlington, Oakville and 14 different municipalities spread across two counties in the Great State of New York.

6a. Don’t ask me what that figure is in kilometers. I don’t do Trudeau-metric.

7. I recently reviewed the 43-page document the Region provided regarding the proposed GO hub at the St. Catharines train station. There were plenty of flowery pictures, but not a single word on making the station less inaccessible via public transit. As things currently stand, it would probably take me longer to get to the train station than it would to get to Burlington from there. I’m getting the feeling that this issue isn’t going to be seriously addressed until years after the first trains roll in. If, in fact, they ever do.

7a. I would have loved to have gone to the open house last month if it wasn’t for the fact that it was held near that same difficult-to-access train station.

7b. Has anyone on the committee looking at the GO hub ever used public transit?

8. Tell me that the Nevada parole board is not about to release O.J. Simpson. Please.

02 Jul

Random Thoughts – Being Canadian, NDP Logic, Steven Fletcher, NHL Signings and More

1. A couple of my Facebook friends recently posted on their respective timelines stating how proud they were to be a Canadian. I sure wish the so-called “refugees” currently flooding into the country via legal and illegal means felt the same way.

1a. If you want to keep Canada a country worthy of bragging about, for the love of Pete™, stop voting Liberal.

1b. If you absolutely must vote Liberal, at least have the good sense to vote for an adult.

2. Some weeks ago, I got a reminder to renew my CPC membership, which I dutifully did. Then I got another “urgent” reminder that my membership was expiring the day after getting my updated membership card. Sigh. Good help is hard to find.

3. One of my Twitter followers, who remains quite upset with GO Transit’s recently proposed 3% fare hike and the cancellation of the public transit tax credit, posted a public show of support for the NDP in next year’s provincial election. In other words, someone who strongly decries fare increases and the cancellation of tax credits is supporting a party that will shake her down for every last dime in her pocket. As they say, never underestimate the stupidity of a Canadian with a ballot in his or her hand.

Of course, fare increases won’t matter much to people like her under an NDP government, since many of them won’t have a job to commute to. But they will get generous welfare packages. Not quite as generous as those given to the “refugees,” mind you, but enough to keep such people happy they voted NDP. The party of perpetual dependence.

4. After being unceremoniously booted out of the Manitoba PC caucus, my former MP Steven Fletcher defended himself by posting a tweet proclaiming that the country and his constituents took precedence above all else. As much as I respect him, I wish he would remember that the next time he takes up a horribly misguided cause like presumed consent on organ donations.

5. I don’t get the attraction to fireworks.

6. Congratulations to the many former Thrashers who inked new deals yesterday, including defenseman Ron Hainsey, who signed with the Leafs. Having suffered under bad organizations during his years with Atlanta and the Chipman franchise, Hainsey has more than earned the opportunity to be with a good one for a change.

7. I don’t know much about Dmitry Kulikov, but the dude got some seriously bad advice from his supposed buddies. Sure, he got a fat contract paid for by the Manitoba taxpayer, but it won’t take long before he’ll be wondering if there was enough gold in Fort Knox to get him to sign with the Chipman organization.

8. I get the feeling that the Toronto Argonauts would draw better crowds if they moved to St. Catharines. Or just about anywhere else in the country besides Toronto.

9. Saskatchewan’s new football palace looks awfully similar to Manitoba Taxpayers Stadium. That is not a compliment.

10. Memo to CFL players: You play in a minor league. AHL players and maybe even a few of the IceDogs are closer to the NHL than you are to the NFL. Stop showboating like you’ve made the big time.

22 Jun

An Eventful Day Trip to Toronto

Thoughts, observations and pictures from yesterday’s day on the train to and from the universe’s center:

1. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. You graduate from university. You graduate from high school. You do not “graduate” from Grade 8.

1a. Even if a Grade 8 “graduation” would otherwise have been something worthy of a celebration, today’s no-fail policies render it utterly worthless. A stuffed animal could get a high school diploma nowadays.

2. As I took my seat on the top level of the GO bus, a gentleman came behind me huffing and puffing with all his might. If getting up the stairs was such a problem for him, why did he not stay on the lower level and take advantage of the priority seating? After all, that’s what it’s there for. No one put a gun to his head to go up top.

3. Just before the bus was scheduled to leave Fairview Mall, one of the young children of an extended family on their way back from a trip to Niagara Falls suddenly decided she had to go to the bathroom. So the driver made us wait while the mother ran off with the daughter to the mall. Which was closed.

Then we were made to wait while the pair went running around trying to find a place for the kid to answer the call of nature. They ultimately settled on a tree in PetSmart’s parking lot in full view of the bus, but then we were made to wait still longer while the mother ran back to the bus to retrieve a bottle of water for the cleanup while another female relative remained with the daughter.

Only after all of that were we granted the privilege of taking off.

3a. The mother’s half-hearted apology as she returned to the bus, the tone of which betrayed an entitlement to hold up the bus for as long as she deemed necessary, didn’t cut it. There have been other similar cases on GO when the driver has simply told such people in need that if they weren’t back in time, he had to leave. That’s the difference between public transit and a taxi. The bus leaves with or without you.

3b. That all said, it is surprising there are no washrooms on double-decker GO buses. Many, including the #12 that serves Niagara, run long distances and such emergencies do happen.

4. Even before getting out of St. Catharines, I spotted a Reimer Express truck on the QEW, one of four I would spot on the day. I would later spot a truck from Bison Transport and someone wearing a Bomber cap. In addition, I saw this car with a Manitoba plate double-parked in front of the ACC:

As I’ve said before, the SPRM does continue to follow me around.

5. At the Grimsby stop, an agitated Falls-bound cyclist asked our driver when his bus would be coming, acting every bit like someone who was mortally offended by a five-minute wait. This just in. The #12 bus only comes every hour. You need to check the schedule beforehand and plan accordingly.

6. Though I wasn’t in a hurry, the delay in St. Catharines combined with the heavy traffic caused some tense moments for the other passengers, many of whom needed to catch the connecting Lakeshore West train in Burlington. Full marks to the driver for his creative efforts in getting us there in time.

7. With the front rack full, the driver allowed a cyclist boarding at Nash and Barton to store his bike in the space strollers and wheelchairs normally occupy rather than asking him to use the rear storage compartment. I certainly hope it was strapped in, since it could have become a dangerous projectile if the driver had to stop suddenly.

8. Though I had my choice of seats when I got on the train in Burlington, the upper level on the car I was in was nearly full by the time we got to Oakville. Yet someone still had his bag on the adjacent seat.

Somehow I doubt he paid an extra fare for his bag.

9. I remain surprised that there are no signs on board the train showing the upcoming stop, something that has become standard practice on buses, even here in St. Catharines.

10. The customer service ambassadors must get up at night in a cold sweat muttering, “Please stand clear of the doors, the doors are now closing.”

11. Upon arrival at Union, I took the subway to Queen’s Park for the 10:30 tour of Ontario’s legislative building. Given my long-tenured association with Manitoba’s equivalent and the prior tours I’ve had of the Minnesota state capitol, it had been something on my radar for a while, and yesterday, I finally had the opportunity.

Oddly, there were no big security checks and showing photo ID was a condition of entry to the building.

Since the only other person with me on the tour was a Chinese lady who didn’t speak a word of English, our guide spoke to us ve … ry … slow … ly. As if speaking to us like we were six-year-olds was going to enable her to understand a completely foreign language any better.

Among our stops was the chamber where laws are made, unlike Manitoba, where laws are instead made at a police station. But I digress. And yes, I’m still bitter.

The government sits on the left, while the opposition sits on the right. All around are galleries for the public and political activists who still have the gall to call themselves “journalists.”

Facing the opposition is a sickly looking eagle, symbolically situated to remind them to keep a watchful eye on the government. On the opposite side, the owl faces the government, reminding them to act wisely, something this Liberal government has rarely done.

Unlike Manitoba, the Lieutenant-Governor does not have a separate residence, but she does have an office in the building.

Down the hall leading back to the front entrance were several items from the St. Catharines Museum:

Finally, a shot looking south from the front entrance.

It was nice to see the inside of the building, but I was disappointed that our guide was not as well informed as she should have been and the whole thing seemed rushed, as if she had a cake burning in the oven.

12. A shot taken at the police memorial across the street:

13. By accident, I happened to pass Sunnybrook Hospital, where former Jets assistant GM Mike Doran was taken following his near-fatal crash on his way to a game in Peterborough. It was indeed fitting that I was wearing my Jets jersey.

14. Signs of “pride” were everywhere. Here, a gay bank.

A gay hairdresser.

Gay pizza.

A gay ATM, one that presumably dispenses rainbow-colored bills.

Another gay bank.

Gay tea.

And gay beer.

Rainbow-colored hair, for those so inclined.

Statue of Alexander Wood, a “gay pioneer” among other things.

Even the Loblaws at Maple Leaf Gardens got into the act.

I really don’t give a flying rat’s rear end what consenting adults want to do in their bedrooms. But, as a good friend of mine often says, stop shoving your sexuality down my throat. Enough already!

15. Approaching MLG, the site of the Jets’ only two road victories of the 1980-81 season, a scruffy character with a few loose screws stopped me after noticing my Jets jersey.

“You know who my favorite player of the Winnipeg Jets was?” he asked.

How could I possibly know? And why would I care?

“You know, that guy who scored with two seconds left.”

I like trivia as much as anyone, but that’s the most obscure clue I’ve ever heard.

Then he told me.

“Tony Tanti.”

“But he played for the Canucks,” I replied. “He never played for the Jets.”

“Oh, yeah,” he said, acting as if he just had a brain fart. “He played for Vancouver.”

After regathering his limited and scrambled thoughts, he said, “Keith Tkachuk. He played for the Jets.”

Well, he at least knew that much. But as for Tkachuk, all I could do was give a thumbs-down.

“See ya later,” he said.

16. Not more than a block later, someone else noticed my jersey and said, “Go Jets!” before taking off on his bike.

17. Is this a terribly tasteful item to be offering on your menu?

18. Memo to the tourists from New Mexico who had lost their way: Spreading yourselves out four abreast blocking a busy sidewalk in the heart of one of North America’s largest cities while staring at a map is not a good idea.

19. A store that does not accept legal currency has no right to call itself “nice,” such as this one at Yonge-Dundas Square.

20. An interesting way to see the Center of the Universe:

21. Walking down Yonge Street, I heard someone drop the F-bomb. Unlike the case in the Old Country, it stands out like a sore thumb in this part of the world. As I’ve said before, it’s yet another reason why I’m happy to be here.

21a. The three-year anniversary of my defection from the SPRM is rapidly approaching.

22. I was one of only a handful of people out and about on the sidewalk during the lunch hour who was not talking on the phone or texting.

23. A picture of Tim Horton at a future Tim Hortons location. What a novel idea. You have to wonder why his legacy isn’t more celebrated at their stores.

24. I made a point of stopping at Legends Row in front of the ACC. The latter shot is of Darryl Sittler, who, as loyal readers may recall, I met personally at an IceDogs game.

25. The construction of the new Burlington GO station has been going on so long that I think this “temporary” orientation map can now be considered permanent.

26. Just go ahead and light up. Don’t let that big “no smoking” sign bother you at all.

27. On the GO bus back to St. Catharines, there was a couple who boarded at Burlington who insisted on dragging their suitcases up the narrow and steep staircase despite the fact that there was plenty of room for both them and their suitcases down below. To each his own, I suppose.

28. A couple of teenage princesses got on and Nash and Barton and were genuinely pissed off to find that the two front seats, one of which I was in, were occupied. It is, after all, first come, first serve. Nonetheless, they sat down nearby and like, proceeded to, like, fill the airwaves with their, like, juvenile conversation. About when they, like, have to take trips to, like, ‘Sauga. (Saying “Mississauga” apparently required too much vocal effort.) And the courses they, like, have to, like, take.

I nearly laughed as I listened to the older one, who was, like, in her first year of, like, university, like, lecturing the other. “You’ll learn that when you get older,” she said. Then she, like, began to talk about, like, her course on, like, women’s gender studies. A course that will surely be of far greater value than any other in the nursing program she was proposing to enter.

28a. If I end up in a hospital, I can only hope to be cared for by someone more mature. Even just slightly less immature.

14 Jun

Random Thoughts – Fake News, QEW Crash, Downtown Streetscaping and More

1. Paul Wiecek churned out another piece of drivel in yesterday’s edition of Socialism Illustrated. This time, he railed on how many Southern teams are losing money hand over fist while again proclaiming the Chipman franchise as a model of success.

He did have a valid point in regard to the Weasels, née Jets, but he conveniently failed to mention that the Chipman franchise would be in the same boat without all those government handouts. As I’ve said before, people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. But as is normally the case at Socialism Illustrated, don’t let the facts get in the way of a good narrative.

1a. In that same article, Wiecek claimed that the only reason the Predators have been able to draw crowds recently was because they were winning. Once again, he conveniently overlooked how well they had been drawing for years despite the fact that the Predators had never won much of anything and hadn’t advanced beyond the second round of the playoffs prior to this past season. And that the franchise, led by quality ownership, has worked hard to build a strong, loyal fan base in a non-traditional hockey market like Nashville. But again, don’t let the facts get in the way of a good narrative.

2. Right here in St. Catharines, a truck hauling hazardous materials crashed on the QEW, forcing an evacuation and shelter in place order within a 2 km radius of the crash site. To the credit of everyone involved, the chemicals were promptly contained and the highway was reopened to traffic within 12 hours.

In Winnipeg, police would have taken great pleasure in shutting down a major artery for 12 days or more if such a thing had happened there. Just because they could. Yet another reason I’m happy to be out of that part of the world.

3. Speaking of Winnipeg, I couldn’t help but think of my former home when I spotted these gardens outside the downtown library last night:

As I said to my friend, if something had been planted outside the downtown library there, it would only have been a matter of hours before it was torn up and/or used as a toilet. Not to mention that whoever did the planting might have ended up with a knife in his gut. Again, it’s yet another reason I’m happy to be out of that part of the world.

4. Placing a sign at a major construction site explaining the work being done and giving the estimated time of completion is important. But it does not need to be as tall as the Jolly Green Giant and it is not necessary for our mayor to include what amounts to a re-election campaign slogan at the bottom.

5. I knew the city was doing “streetscaping” on St. Paul Street. I wasn’t aware that they were tearing up the whole street.

5a. Was this project really necessary?

5b. I sure wish there was a conservative voice on council. You know, someone who isn’t afraid to say “no.”

04 Jun

An Odd Day on the Train

Thoughts, observations and pictures from my journey to and from Mississauga yesterday:

1. I spotted this pile of dirt with “DIG” painted on it. I know I bring too much with me on these trips, but sadly, a shovel wasn’t among what I had packed. Maybe next time.

2. It was nice that, even in early June, I needed a light jacket. It sure beats the blazing heat we had last summer and what they’ve got in the Old Country right now.

3. While waiting for the GO bus at Fairview Mall, two other passengers and I were watching an older guy pushing a grocery cart going through some nearby dumpsters. One of the others said he knew the dumpster-diver, who apparently lives in an $800,000 house in the North End, and recently spotted him eating some scraps he had found. “There’s got to be something wrong with him,” he said, and I didn’t disagree with his observation.

For the benefit of loyal readers from the SPRM, a North End address is a highly desirable location here in St. Catharines. In the degenerate capital of the SPRM, if you added up the value of every house in the North End, I doubt the total would come to $800,000.

4. Approaching the Burlington GO station, I spotted this cyclist on Fairview Street:

I do have a fondness for stuffed animals, but I can’t say I’ve ever wanted to mount one on top of my helmet. But to each his own.

5. While in line at the Burlington Outhouse before catching the 9:07 train, I listened as two Burlington Transit drivers exchanged stories as they answered the call of nature. One of them spoke about an incident when a passenger complained because he “was driving so slow that it was giving her a headache.” As he explained to the distressed passenger, he was just keeping to schedule, rather than racing ahead to the end of his route. Like what I often encountered on Winnipeg Transit. Drivers there would also make a habit of lollygagging around when significantly behind schedule.

6. Construction at the new GO station in Burlington continues to move along at a glacially slow pace. With any luck, it will open sometime within the next couple of decades. When it will be long since obsolete and due for a refit. You have to wonder if they hired contractors from the SPRM.

7. While heading north along Hurontario Street, I spotted someone running like hell trying to catch the MiWay bus I was on. To the driver’s credit, he stopped and waited for her, and did so again for another passenger a few blocks later. Unlike what normally happens on Winnipeg Transit, where drivers wait until such a person reaches the front door before taking off. I’ve seen it happen so often that I think it must be a like a badge of honor for them.

8. Rather than thanking the driver for waiting for her, the second passenger was bellyaching that he didn’t pick her up at the stop she was waiting at, conveniently overlooking the fact that it was an express bus and wasn’t supposed to stop there, as the signage clearly indicated. But then again, it requires some effort to read signs. Effort few seem willing to expend.

9. MiWay makes the eighth different transit agency where I’ve been able to use my Presto card, yet I still can’t use it here in Niagara. Not that I’m bitter or anything.

9a. If Regional Chair Alan Caslin is so hot to expedite the proposed GO train service to Niagara for the benefit of the 50 or so people who may or may not come here for the Canada Summer Games in 2021, why is he also not trying equally hard to expedite the ability to use Presto on Niagara transit systems?

10. The scene outside Entrance 4 at Square One, named “Hazel’s Walk” in honor of the former Mississauga mayor:

11. Scenes in and around Mississauga Celebration Square:

12. Well, this is the Center of the Universe …

13. A, B and C must have been taken:

14. Almost as soon as I took my seat on the #19 bus to take me back to the Port Credit GO station, I was approached by a woman going up and down the aisle asking everyone for “a little bit of change so she can buy some shoes.” Kudos to my fellow passengers who also refused her advances.

For the record, she hardly looked impoverished. I should instead have been asking her for some spare change.

15. For those who need to travel along Hurontario Street, it’s worthwhile to plan your trip to catch the #103 express bus instead of the “milk run” bus I was on. The light should have come on when a stop wasn’t requested rather than when someone rang the bell.

15a. Note to mothers with children: The bus is not a playground. Keep your children with you. For their benefit and ours.

16. I was surprised that, on all three of my three MiWay trips, less than half the passengers paid with Presto.

17. I was equally surprised that I was one of only a handful who thanked the driver on their way out.

18. On the return trip to Burlington, I spotted an empty beer can on the GO train, the first such can I’ve seen on public transit since my defection from the SPRM more than 34 months ago.

For those who are unaware, such sightings are commonplace on Winnipeg Transit. As are graffiti, mass quantities of assorted garbage, vomit and bums passed out on seats. All things I don’t miss and have come not to expect.

19. On the #12 bus back to St. Catharines, I was seated immediately behind a father with his two children who spent the entire time badmouthing their mother. His first task was to make sure to tell them that their mother doesn’t really want them, she just wants the $1,000/month she collects from him for having them, then he not so subtly instructed them to spy on her. “If your mom messes up again, I can get you back with me.”

He went on to tell them how their mother tried to get him back, but not because she really wanted him, she just wanted to use him. Then he told them that the only reason she takes the kids out to play is just to show the lawyer that she does indeed play sports with them. Finally, he said that their mother is lazy and lying to them in regard to getting vaccinated. The latter point made one of the kids start crying.

Even if every single word he had to say about the mother was true, it was unspeakably cruel to say such things to his kids.

19a. It is no wonder why the presenter at a recent writing seminar I was at explained how he got much of his material from public transit.

20. Fittingly, the Essence of Ontario was proudly on display just past the Burlington Skyway:

For the uninformed, that’s salt. White gold, as a good friend of mine recently called it.

21. After getting off the bus in St. Catharines, there was a big scene in the Fairview Mall parking lot where a police car was in attendance. It turned out someone left their dog in a car with the windows closed.

Look, I know I’m not a dog person, but was this really a police-worthy event? Couldn’t the rent-a-cop talking with the officers have simply had the car owner paged?

22. I didn’t know there was a market for having the air painted:

23. Get your Kraft Dinner for less than a cent. Whether or not that is still too much to charge for it is left for the reader as an exercise.

 

28 May

CPC Leadership Thoughts

Thoughts on the recently concluded CPC leadership campaign:

1. Congratulations to Andrew Scheer on his come-from-behind victory. Although he wasn’t my first choice, I’m not disappointed that he won and I like many of the principles he put forward during the campaign. For the sake of the country, I just hope he’s the right person for the job.

2. Congratulations to both Pierre Lemieux and Brad Trost on their outstanding showings. The fact that such relatively low-profile social conservatives attracted so much support is proof that maybe there’s still hope for us yet.

3. Memo to Maxime Bernier: The next time a faux Conservative like Kevin O’Leary offers you his endorsement, decline it.

4. Something tells me that many years from now, Erin O’Toole will still be regretting not making his big push before many party members had received and mailed in their ballots instead of after. You have to wonder if the people on his campaign team were asleep at the wheel. It’s not like they didn’t know when the ballots were going out.

5. Judging by Lisa Raitt’s poor showing, I wasn’t the only one unimpressed with her leadership potential. But she’ll make a good member of Scheer’s cabinet.

6. Same goes for Kellie Leitch. Except that she won’t make a good member of Scheer’s cabinet.

7. OK, Michael Chong, the campaign is over. You can go and join the Liberals now.

8. The fact that an MP from Regina rose to become leader of the party is yet another indicator of the growing gap between rival prairie provinces Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Long forgotten are the days when Manitobans would be able to look down at their western neighbors. Today, led by a common-sense conservative government, Saskatchewan is one of the most prosperous provinces in the country, while Manitoba, digging out from yet another NDP train wreck, is still going backward.

9. I’m surprised even Deepak Obhrai voted for Deepak Obhrai.

10. I am genuinely looking forward to seeing the party go on the offensive against Bobo the Clown and the Libranos instead of wasting its energy battling one another.

21 May

Random Thoughts – Caretaker Bob, Our Mayor, Fireworks and More

1. I was appalled to see the recent tweets of Bob Young, ”caretaker” of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, who defiantly expressed admiration for Colin Kaepernick and his disgraceful “protests” of refusing to stand for the national anthem. He even had the gall to call Kaepernick “brave” and offered his full support to any Ticats player who wished to do likewise.

Needless to say, this does not make me want to rush out and buy Ticats season tickets. Not that I would have done so anyways, mind you.

1a. So if “Caretaker Bob” is perfectly fine with a player showing gross disrespect to his country, would he be equally supportive of a player who made a homophobic or racial slur during a game? Somehow, I don’t think so.

1b. Irrespective of my feelings on Mr. Young’s revulsive stance on this issue, I do at least applaud him for standing up and being counted. Unlike the owner/president/general manager/executive head coach of a certain publicly-funded hockey team in a central Canadian province who continues to hide from public view when the going gets rough, not even granting access to his team’s “official newspaper,” which also happens to be a major corporate sponsor.

2. It’s nice to see Mayor Sendzik getting back to promoting St. Catharines and local businesses again along with making useful public service announcements. You know, the kind of things a good mayor should do. Instead of using celebratory events to bash Trump or shill for the Liberals.

2a. You don’t think our mayor has been reading … nah. But you never know. This is, after all, a small town.

3. Trying to digest the recent and bizarre tweets posted by Councillor Mat Siscoe, a supposed Conservative, I’m not sure who’s the bigger Liberal – him or Mayor Sendzik.

4. I don’t get why fireworks are so popular in this part of the world. Or any part of the world for that matter.

5. Bright and early yesterday, as part of a 57.6-mile bike ride, I boarded a Niagara Region Transit bus. I got a Niagara Falls Transit transfer from a St. Catharines Transit driver and used that transfer on a Welland Transit bus that took me to Port Colborne. And all that interconnectivity worked seamlessly. Yet I still cannot use my Presto card on any of those respective transit agencies. If Niagara wants to play with the big boys, it’s time to start acting like it. They may have to lay new track to get the trains here, but there are no such issues preventing the implementation of Presto. In fact, Presto should have been implemented long before any talk of expanded train service. Which may or may not come.

5a. While waiting at the St. Catharines bus terminal yesterday morning, someone standing under the big clock asked me what time it was.

5b. It’s a little unnerving when your bus driver has to get up and fish a map out of his personal belongings to find out where he needs to go next.

5c. As I’ve noted before, the Friendship Trail between Port Colborne and Fort Erie is a wonderful resource for cyclists. But it’s long. Too long.

5d. They need to do some work on the parkway trail between Fort Erie and Niagara Falls.

6. The $30 they were charging for parking yesterday at Fallsview Casino was gouging in the extreme. It was “only” $22 at Table Rock.

6a. I’m genuinely surprised they don’t charge me a fee for locking up my bike in the Falls.

7. The gold uniforms of the Nashville Predators remind me of the blinding duds worn by the Los Angeles Kings back in the day when little more than 8,000 or so fans would dot the stands at the Fabulous Forum. And no, that was not a compliment.

7a. Not that I care a whole lot, but it’s time the NHL went back to having its teams wear white at home again.

16 May

Random Thoughts – Clifton Hill, Bridges, B.C. Election and More

1. Clifton Hill is an absolute mess thanks to the myriad of construction taking place on the self-proclaimed “street of fun” at the Falls. Don’t take care of such things during the winter, now. After all, it’s not like Niagara Falls is a world-renowned tourist destination or anything.

1a. For all the bragging they’re doing on Clifton Hill about the work they’ve already done, there still isn’t a single bike rack to be found. Unless you count a tree or a light post. Which I don’t. Then again, it’s not like Niagara is a world-class cycling destination or anything.

2. Why does it take a natural disaster to find out that a bridge is named for someone? Case and point: The recently washed-out structure on Martindale Road in St. Catharines. Hands up if you knew it was the J.R. Stork Bridge. It was the same in the SPRM when the bridge over the Red River in St. Adolphe collapsed and had to be rebuilt. Only then did we find out it was the Pierre Delorme Bridge. Honestly, what’s the point of naming a structure in someone’s honor if you don’t put up a sign to that effect?

3. How much more of a trail of destruction does the NDP have to leave behind in its wake before Canadians stop voting for them? Case and point is the recent B.C. election. No wonder so many people at Bomber games used to yell “B.C. Sucks!”

3a. A coalition of the NDP and the eco-fascist Green Party is even worse than an NDP majority. If that’s possible. If all I had to choose from were the Greens and Kim Jong Un’s Korean Workers Party, I might be inclined to pick the latter.

4. I am sorry to hear that interim CPC leader Rona Ambrose is leaving politics. I am even more disappointed that Kellie Leitch is not joining her in stepping away from the limelight.

5. Judging from the 8% pay cut their employees recently agreed to accept, it must be tough times over at Socialism Illustrated. I don’t suppose it occurred to them that, with sagging revenues, they might try adopting a fair and balanced approach to try and repair the brand they’ve so heavily damaged. That is, instead of being Canada’s biggest purveyor of left-wing political propaganda west of Ontario.

5a. I have no doubt that Brian Pallister’s picture is on a dart board in their lunch room and every employee is required to fire five darts into it before starting their shift. It’s probably even in their union contract.

6. St. Catharines city councilor Mat Siscoe recently stated on his Twitter account that CBC’s Peter Mansbridge was a “national treasure.” Forgive me for thinking he was a conservative.

6a. Friends don’t let friends watch CBC.

7. Tonight, the Nashville Predators, a team making its first-ever appearance in the conference finals after 18 seasons and hardly a franchise with a glittering history of accomplishments, takes to the ice seeking its 24th playoff victory in the last six seasons. That would be 24 more playoff victories than the Mark Chipman Personal Hockey Club has racked up since Manitoba taxpayers were forced to buy the Atlanta Thrashers for Chipman. When you start making the Predators look like a model of success, it’s no wonder Chipman doesn’t “find value” in speaking with the media to answer for his failures.

7a. You just know Chipman would suddenly “find value” in speaking with the media if his team was just a little less awful. To repeat a line I often heard on the school grounds of Transcona, he can dish it out, but evidently he can’t take it.

8. An interesting blog to check out is thiscrazytrain.com, written and maintained by a regular commutress who shares her experiences riding the GO train. And admits how surprised she was that life gets tougher for the average working stiff under a socialist government.