Winter may have arrived in early-October when a thick layer of heavy, wet snow blanketed the area, but thankfully it did not stick around. The moisture it provided was truly a blessing and we will need a lot more of it to replenish soil moisture that was lost in the dry and hot summer of 2017. Now, November has arrived and winter has definitely returned. Temperatures have dropped below -15 C and a blanket of white covers the earth and hides huge areas that were scorched by wildfires in mid-October.
On that note, I was very pleased to learn the province will provide some form of support to agricultural producers who sustained heavy losses Oct. 17-18 when prairie fires consumed 34,000 hectares of land. Buildings, granaries, fences and at least 700 cattle were killed in the fires. Livelihoods were lost when cattle herds, haystacks and pastureland was ravaged by the fast-moving fires. One firefighter died and three other individuals sustained serious burns as extreme winds turned flames into the worst batch of fires in recent memory. It is amazing the damage and loss of life was not greater.
Last week, Premier Brad Wall said the province is looking at possible ways to provide assistance. The Provincial Disaster Assistance Program is apparently being considered, but is not traditionally used as a source of compensation for fire damages. According to a story in the Leader-Post, the province has a $300-million contingency fund that could possibly be accessed if the political powers approve such a move. More information should be provided by the province this week.
When it comes to governments, their actions are often a great source for news reporters who want to pursue troubling, bizarre and entertaining stories. Their actions and quotes from leaders also provide volumes of material for comedians, especially south of the Canada-U.S. border. At home, we have our subjects of interest and one of the most recent performers is our Governor General Julie Payette.
Last week she made a speech at the annual Canadian Science Policy Convention at Ottawa. It garnered a lot of media attention as her speech included her own opinions about global warming, the Earth’s origins and people who believe in a higher power – a deity. It was a little disconcerting since she represents the Queen of England in Canada and as such she should reflect the monarch in speech and deed. I have never seen Queen Elizabeth roll her eyes or mock any group publicly, although it may have happened privately on occasion. God knows I would be hard pressed to restrain my words and actions as she routinely does on a daily basis.
If Payette want’s to be the queen’s representative to Canada she should conduct herself accordingly and not make sour, little statements such as:
“Can you believe that still today in learned society, in houses of government, unfortunately, we’re still debating and still questioning whether humans have a role in the Earth warming up or whether even the Earth is warming up, period,” she asked.
“And we are still debating and still questioning whether life was a divine intervention or whether it was coming out of a natural process let alone, oh my goodness, a random process.”
The governor general is a symbolic, do-nothing position that is funded by taxpayers and as such her personal comments – especially negative or cutting words – should be kept to herself. She is a smart and accomplished woman: a mother, engineer with two degrees, deep-sea diver, pilot and astronaut who we appreciate and respect. However, she is not the source of all truth and needs to learn her role in the government and keep her personal opinions to herself when representing her employer and the queen.
Columnist Kelly McParkland aptly summed up the situation by saying, “Whoever happens to hold the position (of governor general) may have strong views, but the job does not exist to allow them to be shared at will. If someone is determined to do so, they should run for a seat in the House of Commons, or a get a newspaper column.”
She should also remember who paid for her trips into space and the specialized training she received. The tax dollars that covered those expenses included funds from the very people she chided and put down.
Sadly, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (who appointed her to the position of GG) defended Payette. Trudeau said he is “extraordinarily proud” of her and that includes Payette’s “. . . deep faith that knowledge, research and the truth is a foundation for any free, stable, successful society and I applaud the firmness with which she stands in support of science and the truth.”
Let’s hope he corrected her privately, but I doubt it. For a national leader who champions the charter rights of all Canadians (including at least one terrorist), he is definitely lacking in that area.