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~ Standing Pat! ~
( Columns appearing in the Vision )
By Patrick Meikle
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( News from around the Canaan Road area )

(Standing Pat(rick) Meikle lampoons the definition every other week, 1: play's one's hand as dealt in draw poker without drawing; 2: opposes or resists change; 3: refuses to abandon one's opinion or belief; 4: holds firm, stands fast, stands firm. He writes the Canaan Connexion on alternate weeks.)
April 29, 2005  #24 - Habemus Papum, Benedictus strictus
April 8, 2005  #23 - Ah Spring! From man’s fancy to pet’s antsy
Mar. 11, 2005  #22 - Nation mourns RCMP members
Mar. 4, 2005  #21 - From language to laws
Feb. 18, 2005  #20 - Catalogue sales - then and now
Feb. 4, 2005  #19 - Are we being over-regulated? - Part 2
Jan. 21, 2005  #18 - Language, fires - bylaws... are we over-regulated?
Jan. 7, 2005  #17 - Please consider giving to the tsunami victims

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#24 - Habemus Papum, Benedictus strictus
Habemus Papum!
Meus nomen est Patricius. Quid est vos nomen? Ad deum qui laetificat juventutem meam.
That's about all of the Latin I can remember, but now that former ultra-conservative Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany has been elected as pope, I am seriously thinking about dropping my French class in favour of boning up on my latin.

In his first address to the multitudes, Pope Benedict XVI (the name he has chosen) spoke to them in latin... the universal language of the church – a language that went the way of the dodo back in the early 60s when beloved Pope John XXIII radically changed the face of the Catholic Church with the ecumenical movement and the liturgical movement, the high point of his reign being the Second Vatican Council.

Before John, Catholics would wilt through long, high masses filled with the pungent odour of incense, while the priest, with his back to the congregation would recite the liturgy in latin, a language familiar then only to clergy, scholars and doctors (prescriptions and medical terminology were often written in latin).

As a young altar boy I would attempt to learn the responses to the priest's pious proclamations, all the while trying to keep up. I usually managed (by rote and by memory) to recite the first response: "Ad deum qui laetificat juventutem meam", but then I was ex latium. I only remembered the occasional response after that, and for the rest of the service, I mumbled a kind of pig-latin, barely audible, knowing that my old, partially deaf parish priest wouldn't pick up on it anyway.
Benedictus strictus
Pope Benedict has already been dubbed “Benedict the Strict” and upon his elevation he was reported to have said to his cardinals that he predicted a short reign. No kidding! At 78 years and having suffered a stroke only a few years back, the supposedly pope maker has taken on the role himself. Oh to have been a fly on the wall, in that exalted hall called the Sistine Chapel.

The people of Latin America will have a giggle with the translation of the name, which in Spanish evidently comes out as “Benito”, and reminds people of a popular children’s television character.

Aspirat primo Fortuna labori
In spite of efforts by the Vatican to put a positive spin on his character, early opinions suggest that the pope may have a divisive effect on mother church – after the work of Pope John XXIII, kind of a one step forward, two steps back approach.

Benedictus strictus will however be a great patron for all traditional catholics who favour a paternalistic, judgmental, anti-feminist structure and one against any activity on behalf of women's rights and interests. Dad was a cop during a dark period of German history and Benedictus as a cardinal continued the family tradition in policing the church.

For those advocating married priests and/or ordained women, don’t hold your breath. But as Virgil said: “Aspirat primo Fortuna labori.” I’m standing pat!
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#23 - Ah Spring! From man’s fancy to pet’s antsy
It was Alfred, Lord Tennyson who said "In the spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love..." Unfortunately so do dog's and cat's. The warmer weather seems to turn the "heat" up, make them antsy and so like most species males and females often seek each other out, or perhaps like humans, it's the males who often do the prowling.

Our little quarter is a microcosm of the larger Clarence-Rockland. What happens here is the epitome of what happens everywhere.

We have a couple of dogs that like to "wander" off the property. Don't think that because your pup is well-trained that it doesn't move off your property. Cats roam even more than dogs. For the past several nights we have had one serenading us with an early morning screech that sounds like a broken fiddle.

If your pets are rambunctious and hyperactive and you are not breeding them, or you don't want them to frolic with your neighbours animals, you may want to consider a visit to the spay/neuter clinic. With these procedures there is a rapid decline in the incidence of roaming, aggression, fighting (and spraying in most cats).

There are many benefits to spaying and neutering. Neutering your pet can curb bad behaviour and lead to a healthier, longer life. In addition to preventing cancer pyometra (womb disease) and behavioural problems neutering is crucial to decreasing the overpopulation of unwanted puppies and kittens which are drowned or destroyed in vets and dog pounds every year.

The best time to spay a female pet is before her first heat. This eliminates her risk of uterine and ovarian cancer and reduces the risk of mammary cancer. And for males it's not so bad. As one farmer said... it's not Ferdinand the Bull any more... it's just Ferdinand.
Barking dogs can upset neighbours
It seems that every neighbourhood has a barker. Most of the time it’s simply a pet that is left “guarding” the premises while the owner is off to work. However a few allow their dogs to run around outside, either on a long tether or within the confines of an electric fence. These devices keep the animal on the property, but they don’t stop the barking.

Because some of our neighbours are shift workers, firefighters, nurses, etc. a barking dog can be pretty annoying. If your pooch is a barker, consider buying a “Husher”.

The Husher is a low-tech but effective product for the control of unwanted barking. It has an elastic panel that gently, but firmly, puts pressure on a dog’s muzzle. The elastic is positioned to allow breathing, drinking and panting but when dog tries to bark, the pressure increases, tiring the dog and removing its desire to bark. Look up “Husher” and “barking” on the Internet. Click here for pic.

Load limits don't stop the B.S.
Another reminder has been "springing" up this past month with the "Load Limit" signs stationed on many of the softer back roads. Just in time too. Spring is when many of the politicians send out their seasonal "householders" telling their constituents what a wonderful job they and their parties are doing. You know... (we’ve) “made important commitments...” and “We are making great strides...” We need those signs to keep the loads of B.S. from damaging our roads further. Hey, classmates... à la prochaine. I’m standing pat!
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#22 - Nation mourns RCMP members

(L-R) Cst. Anthony Fitzgerald Orion Gordon (age 28), Cst. Peter Christopher Schiemann (age 25),
Cst. Lionide Nicholas Johnston (age 32), and Cst. Brock Warren Myrol ( age 29).
(For a profile of the four Mounties, click here.)

The murder of four members of the RCMP over a week ago set off a wave of national mourning and outrage that many news reports suggested was unprecedented in the history of the Force. The four members were: Cst. Peter Christopher Schiemann (age 25), Cst. Anthony Fitzgerald Orion Gordon (age 28), Cst. Lionide Nicholas Johnston (age 32), and Cst. Brock Warren Myrol ( age 29). (More on RCMP Web site)

One story called the killings “one of the darkest days in RCMP history”. Another story suggested that the worst single day was during the 1885 Northwest Rebellion, when eight Mounties were killed. Yet another called the 1911 Valentine’s Day deaths of four Royal Northwest Mounted Police, the worst, when four officers froze to death in what has become known as “The Lost Patrol” in the Yukon.

Too young to remember, too old to forget
Time and generations have a habit of losing memories and history. In one historical update the killing of three constables in 1962 was mentioned in passing. Unfortunately the story cited all three names incorrectly.

Almost 43 years ago, I remember the incident well. It happened in Kamloops, B.C., and it was the year that I joined the Force. Constables Joseph Keck, Donald Weisgerber and Gordon Pedersen died while attempting to arrest a mental patient.

The event was as shocking and horrible as last week, yet as I remember there was very little reaction to the crime. I also remember traveling on a western holiday, through Kamloops by train shortly after the act, and wondering if I still wanted to join the Force.
Arthur Richard Lines
A name I will never forget, even after 36 years. Lines was a distraught individual who called the Yorkton Detachment one evening when I was in charge of the shift. He sounded impaired and intimated that he was out to get us.

We got lots of crank calls so I didn’t think too much of it. However as it was dark outside, and the lighted offices clearly made us visible targets to anyone outside, I decided it would be a good idea to close the five or six Venetian blinds that covered the windows.

As I was about to close the last blind, I heard a voice behind me. When I turned around, Lines was facing me on the other side of the counter. He was holding a .303 rifle in his right hand and it was leveled at my chest. The gun looked like a canon and I could feel a numbing feeling in the pit of my stomach. He asked me to draw.

As I moved out from behind a desk, to make the “draw” more fair, I asked him to let me get into a better position. At the same time and lucky for me, one of my colleagues, working in the radio room adjacent, spotted the action, ran out to the hallway to the Highway Patrol office, which Lines could not see, and alerted two other members.

I was able to keep Lines occupied long enough for my buddies to come up behind the armed man, and wrestle the rifle away from him. I was just 26 at the time, about the same age as the fallen members in Alberta. There but for the grace of God. I’m standing pat!

(Check out Patrick's RCMP service here.)

(Standing Pat(rick) Meikle writes the Canaan Connexion on alternate weeks.)
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#21 - From language to laws
One of the reasons that Francophones are concerned about égalité (read: bilingual signs) is that many fear their language and culture may be lost. I agree. Here are two examples:

A: Café conversation
The other day I was meeting my friend Allan for our weekly catch-up brunch at an east end pub. Our server, a bilingual student from Cité collegiale, was serving us in English. A couple walked in and took a nearby table. When our server approached them, she automatically greeted them in English. They replied back in English.

After the server left, the couple spoke to each other in French only – and continued to do so for the rest of their visit – yet when the server spoke to them, they (server and couple) only communicated in English, probably not realizing that each side spoke French.

B: Bus ride to Montreal
On a bus trip to Montreal some years ago, mon épouse, observed two strangers who happened to sit together. As the voyage unfolded, the two people passed the time speaking to each other – in English. It was not until the bus arrived in the outskirts of Montreal, when one of the women, in perfect French, read out loud, one of the passing signs. At that moment, both women started to converse in perfect French, not realizing that the other was also perfectly bilingual.

There is something to be said about preserving one’s mother tongue.

Meter reader says no Hydro increase
Our Hydro One guy stopped by this week to do our tri-monthly meter reading. Nice chap. We chatted for some time in the cold, crisp sub-zero temperature. I asked him why our meter wheel seemed to be going ‘round at a faster-than-usual speed, given that we had little on in the way of lights or appliances?

“Do you have an electric water heater?” he asked. “Yes.” “That’ll do it every time. People don’t realize how much electricity they take... probably costs you around $40 bucks a month!”

He went on to say that even though he had natural gas, his cost, plus the rental of the gas water heater probably amounted to close to what we were paying.

Computers, on or off?
“What about our computers?” I asked. “Should we leave them on all the time, or off?”

“They don’t take any electricity worth mentioning,” he replied. “What you have to make sure is that you have them plugged into a power bar (preferably with spike protection). If you get a hit, it will fry your computers without that protection.”

“Last question...” I said. “Are our Hydro rates going up?” “Only commercial rates,” said the Hydro guy. Remember where you heard it first.

Cumberland Village dog owners, shame!
I noted this week that the refuse container outside the neighbourhood store was full to overflowing with plastic bags of doggie doo. Shame on the dog owners who are “dumping” their waste into someone else’s container. Not only is “Failure to pick up after your dog” a City of Ottawa by-law offence, but “Failure to take it home and dispose of it on your own premises is also an offence under the by-law.” Shame! Until next time, I’m standing pat!

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#20 - Catalogue sales - then and now
I picked up the Sears catalogue the other day, the spring-summer issue. Nothing unusual in that. I stopped at the local Sears outlet in Rockland where you can order and pick up your merchandise right out of the current catalogue or flyer. And there is nothing unusual about that either. Even though we are within a short drive to the big city, many people still prefer to maintain that great old Canadian tradition of ordering through the catalogue, and for many of us there is nothing unusual about that.

What was unusual about my catalogue pick up was that the company is now offering the entire contents (1372 pages) on a CD – that’s a “compact disk” for those older generations who still order through the catalogue, but who do not use or who will never own a PC – that’s a “personal computer”.

There it was in a compact little package, smaller than my 1950 grade three report card with this funny little disk inside that resembles a coffee coaster.

When you insert the disk into a computer it automagically spins and whirs and within seconds, something called “Macromedia Flash Player” presents a lively musical introduction and a short slide show telling you that you that there are three ways to shop: by single page, by “auto flipping” two pages at a time, or by searching the contents with an index.

When you find the items that you want, you add them to your “shopping cart” where you can then
print and phone, or order online, with absolute security.
Amazingly, the entire catalogue, all thirteen hundred and seventy-two pages is on this flat, tiny little plastic plate. Wouldn’t Grandma Poulin (from Dollard, Saskatchewan) be dumbfounded. Did I mention that the CDs come in both and English and a French version?

J’ai pris la version française parce-que je viens de commencer un cours en conversation française (Did I spell that correctly?).

How far we have some since those carefree days living in small-town Canada when the Eaton’s catalogue was not only a way of life and a way of shopping, it was for many of us the lifeline to just about everything we purchased.

Not only did the catalogue allow us to browse and buy, it taught us all about life and the opposite sex (remember the pages of the latest styles in women’s undergarments); it helped us to reach the top shelves of the cupboards, when we piled three or four catalogues together; and it provided hours of reading while we were fulfilling our ablutions in the outdoor privy.

When we were finished reading and sitting, we simply tore a page out and used it to wipe... well we won’t go there.

So my question is, the next time I go back to the land, back to the isolation of the north country, or back to those rare, but still existing pockets of the prairies, where there is still no electricity or running water, and I have my trusty catalogue with me, how do I wipe me wido bum with a CD? Until next time, I’m standing pat!
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#19 - Are we being over-regulated? - Part 2
In the last Standing Pat column we talked about being over-regulated by municipal bylaws.

Remember? You can’t “spit, build a garage, pile lumber or allow a tree to grow over a neighbour’s fence, without getting a permit or a visit from a bylaw officer.” We then put our spin on the Clarence-Rockland bilingual sign law. What you missed was the following paragraph, which was cut for space:

Tree cutting is still to come
Now if the language sign bylaw didn’t grab you, or the no-outdoor-fires-without-a permit bylaw didn’t affect you, or the no fences, hedges or retaining walls without a permit didn’t rile you, wait until council comes out with its “tree cutting by-law”, likely due this month.

To update, this proposed bylaw is still in its formation stage so we had best leave it alone until a finalized version is put before council.

Nothing regulates us like insurance
If you think our local bylaws are controlling, have you had to deal with your insurance company lately? We are in the process of changing our car insurance to reflect a lease. Talk about bureaucracy. (We’ll keep the dealer and insurance company names anonymous to protect ourselves from future hostilities.)

Our car dealer told us to call the insurance company with the vehicle identification number (VIN) to give them a heads up on the new vehicle. First of all, the number they gave was non-existent. When we spoke to an agent, he told us that the procedure was all wrong, that we had to supply information to them, which they in turn would fax to the car dealership, who would in turn send it on to the leasing company.

Not only that but the insurance policy number that we were using, as printed out in the insurance company’s pink slip was incorrect (thankfully we did not have to pull it out over the past three years... think being stopped by the boys in blue!).

Furthermore, after having dealt with this company for over 20 years, I was no longer authorized to make changes to the insurance as it was my spouse who was on the previous lease document. Because of the current privacy laws, she had to give the company the O.K. for me to make any changes. She then did this over the phone.... Duh! The agent could have been speaking to anyone with a female voice. To add insult to injury, thanks to new Ontario regulations, our deductible has now been raised by $200!

Compliments to dog license design picker
Don’t forget, it’s time to pick up your new dog license which is due on the first of the new year. The City is very lenient with its deadline of March 31, however if you purchase the new license before that date, you will save yourself the $10 additional cost from the current $15.

Compliments to City bylaw employee Jocelyne Dubuc for choosing this year’s dog tag design. It actually looks like a dog for a change, but them I am biased because it really looks like a Golden Retriever, like our own Anabel. Hey, I'm Standing Pat.

The 2005 Clarence-Rockland dog tag

Click here to find out more.

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#18 - Language, fires, fences and trees... are we being over-regulated?
When I spent a few years working for a City of Ottawa “alderman” (that’s what they were called much to the chagrin of my feminist, socialist boss) back in the mid-80s, I began to realize how regulated the citizens of that city were. I learned that Ottawa was one of the most over-regulated municipalities in Canada. You couldn’t spit, build a garage, pile lumber or allow a tree to grow over a neighbour’s fence, without getting a permit or a visit from a bylaw officer.

Now as a citizen of Clarence-Rockland I wonder if things haven’t changed that much? You know, “Plus que ça change...”

Politics, religion and language
I’m not sure that it will do any good, or even cause more friction by jumping into the current debate about our bilingual sign law. Now more than a week after the initial fire fight, the situation reminds me of a duck on water – all is calm and peaceful on top, but the duck is paddling like hell under the surface.

I don’t know who broke the story to the news media but it must have been a slow news day for everyone because the various news organizations descended on Clarence-Rockland as if we were having a visit by some pop-tart like Spears or Duff or Lavigne. And the number one daily English print media, with its usual aplomb managed to sensationalize what should have been a relatively straightforward item into a feeding frenzy, using phrases like: “Clarence-Rockland hires language police”, and “New businesses forced to have signs...”

Even columnist Mark Sutcliffe jumped into the fray with his lead paragraph: “Business people, obviously, are a bit dim-witted. Thank goodness we have various levels of government to protect us from our own bad decisions.” He went on to say, sarcastically referring to Clarence- Rockland... “city council spotted the problem and passed a new law to protect these businesses from their own folly.”
I don’t believe for a minute that our hard-working councillors ever intended to raise such a ruckus, although even with their best of intentions I wonder if much debate or research with the citizenry or business people went into the mix prior to passing the bylaw?

Personally I think that any business worth its salt would be considerably off the mark if it did not offer or at least attempt to offer its goods and services in the language that represents 68 per cent of the population. And you know in this country where historically the French and English have been the longest new world inhabitants after our indigenous friends, to me it is simply a matter of common respect to meet and treat our equals, where we are able, in the language of their choice.

Remember years ago in school we learned never to mix religion and politics... I guess we had better add language to that adage.

Sneaking a raise through
Sneaking is a little strong to use, but it seems that no one has debated or cared a feather for the fact that our city fathers and one mother voted themselves a 25 per cent hike in salary during the same meeting that bilingual signs bylaw was put into place. But let’s not go there. For the work that they do, for the time that they spend and for the crap that they sometimes have to face, our councillors are well-deserving of the extra dollars they will get... a bargain at twice the price.

Tree cutting is still to come
Now if the language sign bylaw didn’t grab you, or the no-outdoor-fires-without-a permit bylaw didn’t affect you, or the no fences, hedges or retaining walls without a permit didn’t rile you, wait until council comes out with its “tree cutting by-law”, due next month.

Watch for part two of “over-regulated”, coming to a column near you. I'm Standing Pat.
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#17 - Please consider giving to the tsunami victims
Wishing everyone a good new year seems ill-suited in light of the tragedy that has enveloped the coastal areas of many Asian countries affected by the Christmas Day earthquake and tsunami that followed.

In deviating from our usual narrative we think it is important to urge everyone to consider a donation to one of the many relief funds set up to help the millions of victims. And please don’t think short term. For many affected, assistance will be needed on an ongoing basis for many years, so you may want to consider long-term contributions.

The disaster could not have happened at a worse time of the year. Not only was it a time to rejoice in the special meaning of the Christmas holiday, but if you are like many of us, much of our “extra” income was put towards gift giving and helping our own local and needy causes. So if you cannot comfortably give now, your donation will be just as important when you have balanced your household budget.

International aid organizations
If you are following the local news media you will find many of the larger organizations at the forefront of relief requests. The Canadian Red Cross, The Salvation Army, World Vision, Care Canada are a few. If you are unsure of where to give, you should also contact your local church or your children’s school, as many of these institu- tions have set up means to accept donations.

Rockland locations
A quick survey of our local financial institutions has found that they are all accepting donations. These include: the Banque Nationale du Canada, the Caisse Populaire Trillium, the Royal Bank and the Scotia Bank. Most of these establishments are
set up to accept donations for the Canadian Red Cross and you can usually donate with cash, a cheque or Visa at any of the teller wickets. You
can also get a tax receipt if your donation is over ten ($10) dollars.

If you are one of the many government employees who live in the area, the Civil Service Co-operative is also accepting donations.

Thanks to the following bank employees who offered their assistance: Linda Asselin (Banque Nationale), Lyne Gourgon (Caisse), Lucie Boyer (Royal Bank) and Linda Pilon (Scotia).

Tips on giving - choosing, scams
Choosing one charity can be tough. The Better Business Bureau suggests donors scrutinize financial information from several charities and select one that spends a low percentage of income on administration, including fund-raising, to instead direct most revenue to programs.

For example Oxfam - which clearly posts its information on its website - will spend less than 10 cents of every dollar raised specifically for tsunami relief on administration.

And beware of scam artists who use tragedies like this to bilk well-intentioned givers. Do not give your credit card number or other personal information to a telephone solicitor or in response to an email solicitation. Ask the caller or sender to provide you with written information on the charity's programs and finances. Be wary of charities that are reluctant to answer reasonable questions about their operations, finances and programs.

The Better Business Bureau also urges people not to respond to a phone call or an e-mail with an immediate donation.

More resources on our Web site
The Canaan Connexion ( offers a larger list of resources and information and other disaster- related news can be found elsewhere in the Vision.
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( Patrick Meikle is a freelance writer and editor who lives in Blue Jay and operates the Canaan Connexion Web site.
If you have an opinion or comment, he can be reached at:

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