Tuesday, May 6, 2008


Despite my Canadian pride, there are occasions that I am hesitant to admit being a resident of the nation's capital because of the stupidity we must endure at times.

The City of Ottawa, Canada's 4th largest, is the target of ridicule by other communities such is the ineptitude of our city leaders. For instance: In addition to the Mayor facing criminal charges of influence peddling over his 2006 election; a bull-headed competition of ego triggered cancellation of a billion dollar mass transit system for which we are now being sued for about $300 Million. A replacement system, now decades away, will cost $4-billion. I could go on...

It now seems that it is either contagious, or stupidity is no longer the exclusive domain of our elected municipal officials. Ottawa's Tulips are a source of city pride. They number in the millions, the initial batch donated by the grateful Dutch for protecting their Royal Family who had taken refuge in Ottawa during the second World War.

Since the war, the May blooms have become a major draw of spring visitors to Ottawa. Rather than leave the flowers to their own show, over the years a "Tulip Festival" was spawned. It has had many incarnations...some good, most bad. Let's face it: The tourists come for the flowers not to see some half-baked, class 'B' performers.

Last weekend's kick-off of the festival is the textbook example of a public relations disaster of monumental proportions. Anxious to repair its own bad public image, the Government of China is one of this year's festival sponsors. Who better to kick-off the event than to have a Chinese Marching Band play the National Anthem...Well Duh!

Apparently the festival brainthrust can't tell one Chinese from another and hired a "Falun Gong" marching band. For the uninitiated the spiritual "Falun Gong" movement is banned and persecuted in China. Given that the Chinese Ambassador and a cadre of Embassy officials were attending, and fearing a diplomatic row of major proportion, the marching band was, as it were, marched-off the site by the RCMP and Ottawa Police as they were about to begin no doubt a rousing rendition of "Oh Canada!". Lawyers for the human rights left have already weighed-in on this one.

Wait, there's more: Score another point for legal aid lawyers and human rights. Lawyers for the "Ottawa Panhandlers Union" (yes, you read it right!) have filed a Million Dollar lawsuit against the City. After the murder of a street kid about a year ago, the city fenced-off part of a notorious downtown sidewalk underpass. The underpass near the famed Chateau Laurier has been the refuge for a generation
of panhandlers. Now they claim their Constitutional Rights have been violated. The "Union's" lawyer says the fenced-off area has "an intrinsic value, like a town square".

In this court case we know that our inept city officials will be matched by equal opponents.

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