Friday, March 27, 2015


Who says an Independent M.P can not influence government?

Independent M.P for Avalon, Scott Andrews was on his feet in Question Period in the House of Commons on Tuesday regarding the the confiscation of a seal purse from a Corner Brook woman by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. 

Mr. Scott Andrews (Avalon, Ind.):  
    Mr. Speaker, a woman from Newfoundland and Labrador recently had her sealskin purse confiscated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection because seals are on the endangered species list in the United States. She is now forced to pay a $250 fine for trying to take her purse across the border.
    Seal products are becoming more and more popular. It has been documented and scientifically proven that the northwest harp seal population is healthy and abundant and is not an endangered species.
    Could the minister tell the House the last time the government has had discussions with American officials with regards to having seals removed from the endangered species list in the United States? Will the minister ask the United States to remove this ban immediately?

The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans failed to answer the question. Instead she replied  "government remains rock solid in its support of the Canadian Seal Industry"

Late today,  Rob Moore, minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency released a letter to the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection asking that the sealskin purse be returned and that border agents stop confiscating seal products from Canadian citizens challenging the outdated U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act.

Looks like Andrews questions sparked some action.


Since the onset of my Type-2 Diabetes, I am less likely to stuff my face with home made brownies lurking in my refrigerator.

A 58-year-old Michigan man who ingested a few brownies on Wednesday morning that his daughter had made the night before had not such issues. In fact he found tasty enough to keep eating them until he starred feeling off, a sugar rush of sorts.  Thinking he was having a heart attack, he called 9-1-1 for assistance. 

Turns out that besides being an unhealthy choice for breakfast,  the brownies were full of marijuana!

His sweet innocent 17-year-old daughter pot head daughter had baked up the dreamy brownies the night before. The remaining brownies were sent to the police lab.

I once had a similar experience.  A friend of mine's mother had been using marijuana brownies to help stimulate her appetite while going through cancer treatments. We were home for Christmas and had been out drinking. When we got back to his house we raided the fridge not knowing that the treats were off limits. We had no idea what was going on until his mother came home and found  us laughing and unwrapping Christmas presents under the tree!

Fortunately, we never called 9-1-1!





Like most people, I have been following the Germanwings Flight 9525 crash which claimed the lives of 150 people on-board.  I have been horrified by the emerging media reports that "depression" was the cause.

It would appear that the co-pilot deliberately crashed the A320 into the mountains. News reports based on the flight recorders show that the co-pilot locked the Captain out of the cockpit and descended down into the mountains while the horrified crew and passengers tried to break through the steel door separating them from the controls.

Lets face it, everything was in order,  the pilot steps out to the lavatory and a chat with the flight attendants. All routine. Except that junior pilot was waiting for an opportunity to take sole control.

The new security provisions of the post September 11 world are designed to keep potential hi-hackers and terrorists out of the cockpit.  Armored doors and secret access codes designed to keep madmen at bay made it near impossible to get inside the cockpit if the person behind the controls denied access.  In this case the co-pilot locked himself in and deployed a five-minute override preventing the pilot from getting back allowing himself total control of the plane and the fate of those on board. The cockpit was unassailable.

The focus now shifts to the whys. Why was there no policy/rule/regulation ensuring that there was always two people in the cockpit at all times? What role did an alleged "mental illness" play in the co-pilot's actions? How was as this "mental illness" hidden from his employers? How could this terrible tragedy been avoided?

Pilots are glorified taxi drivers. I have flown in many types of aircraft. Observed many types of personalities and often thought about the blind faith we put in these humans to get us safely to our destinations. What if there are going through a martial or financial crisis? What if they are unhappy? What if they are distracted? What if they are not 100% in top of their game?

Pilot error refers to any action or decision – or lack of proper action – made by a pilot that plays a role in an accident. 80% percent of accidents caused by pilot error, according to Boeing. This may include a simple mistake, a lapse in judgment or failure to exercise due diligence.

After a year of talking about "depression" and the debilitating effects it can have on peoples thoughts, actions and behaviors - this single action, of one individual could set back the fight against stigmas forever. So much for improving public attitudes towards mental health

A casual link to depression as a factor in this crash will serve to further stigmatize depression.  The headlines in the media range from "Madman in cockpit” to “Killer pilot suffered from depression”. The media should be doing better than this.

There’s no reason to suggest that people with depression  are a greater risk to the wider population than those that do not suffer from the disease. If anything this need to blame, runs the risk of making it less likely that people coping with depression will want to speak up about their illness. 




Last Fall when Justin Trudeau released his personal memoir Common Ground he conceded that political marriages have their 'ups and downs'.

Earlier this week his lovely wife Sophie GrĂ©goire did a wide ranging, candid interview with Global News Political Reporter Laura Stone. I found it interesting to juxtapose that interview with JT's October 20th, 2014 interview on CBC's Power and Politics

I have often heard the saying that Ottawa is the place where marriages go to die. I suppose, in fairness the same could be said about most provincial legislatures as well. 

The modern permanent  political campaign is unrelenting, All of the political betrayals, losses and scandals. It’s enough to make you wonder why anyone would ever want to go in to  politics!