Time for a convenience tax

Convenience is like a drug; once we have access to it then its simply not manageable to return to the ways of old. While not all convenience is bad; when we put consumerism with it then we create a system of purchase and dump which is having truly negative effects on our planet. As I picked up garbage that people had so easily discarded along public areas it prompted me to think of how we as a society have become so careless about the items we purchase and how we discard things. We have promoted the mantra of reduce, reuse and recycle but focused mainly on recycling and limited the reduce and reuse portion of the three. Thousands of everyday consumer items from disposable razors, coffee cups, plastic bottles, plastic bags etc are purchased in bulk only to be shortly thrown away. While we have gotten better in recycling some of these items many end up in landfills or in our parks, oceans and ecosystems. We need to find ways to reduce the amount of disposable items that people purchase and find ways to pushing people to reusable items. We cannot afford to continue to purchase and dispose of these items so willingly and without disregard. Education on the effects of disposables are one important means of reducing the use of the these items going forward but education can only go so far. How many people purchase items like a coffee from your local establishment without ever thinking of using a reusable cup. I am not going to play innocent in these games I have as well been a part of the issue when it comes to purchase disposable items and simply tossing them or recycling them without thoughts for what happens after. So that leaves us in the conundrum of how do we change the habits of people to reduce the use of disposable items in a more meaningful and direct way.

In my mind the only true way is to hit people in the pocket book. When oil prices skyrocketed the number of smaller CUV’s, small cars, electric cars increased to almost a 25% of the total vehicle purchases for that quarter. When there was a decrease in the price of oil the demand for these vehicles declined (Fuels Institute) but we see that the cost of an item creates a change in the way that people react and act. We have to think that this principle can be applied to these items that we use on a daily basis that are thrown away and pollute our environment. If we can create a decline in the amount of disposable items in our consumer chain then we can have drastic effects on the environment and our own personal health.

In Ontario, we pay for the price of the item and then the HST. For certain items like electronics there are added charges for the future recycling of that item based on their size and scale. This helps to promote the end game recycling but doesn’t cool the initial demand. In order for us to reduce the amount of disposable items in our society we need to look at reducing the demand which means a cost up front and an end game cost.

For example:

Razor: $12.40 (initial cost) with heads that last roughly a month. Replacement heads are $2.00 + HST
Disposable Razor: $2.50 (initial cost) last 2-3 uses. Pack of 6-10 in a package.

Most individuals from a cost perspective would likely choose the disposable because there is a much larger cost associated with the reusable razor compared to the disposable. If we introduce a per unit tax or a convenience tax into the mix then it could increase the cost and level the playing field. A tax of 5% per unit or in the case of a 10 unit razor 0.0125 per unit means that the cost jumps from $2.50 to $2.625. This initial tax which would be used to reduce the cost associated with the purchase of the item would be tailored to help reduce the number of units in the public hands and create additional cost which could deter individuals from make these short term purchases. Like the electronics tax there would need to be additional funds needed to help municipalities clean their facilities from these items, properly and effectively recycle these items and dispose of them. We need funds to make this happen so another 5% per unit for a total of 10% per unit could be added to the price of purchase to help deter individuals. Meaning that initial cost of $2.50 at the end of the purchase is now $2.75 which could be changed and upgraded to determine the rate and pace of change within the population the government was trying to enforce. That $0.25 on “EPA estimates of 2 billion razors are thrown away each year” (Groundswell) (US figures) or roughly about $250 Million in new tax revenue and $250 million to cities and states for recycling, cleaning and waste reduction from disposable razors alone.

But disposable razors aren’t the only one we need to look at. There are thousands of items which a tax could apply to that helps to reduce the waste of disposable items. One of these most common items is a coffee cup and while the cup itself is recyclable the lid isn’t. Thousands of these cups end up tossed on the side of the road, in garbage cans and everywhere but where they should be. For most people their morning starts with a Tim Horton’s Coffee or Tea (Now I don’t associate blame with Tim Horton’s for their cups being on the ground that’s the responsibility of the individual) its on average $2.00 and it comes in that well known container. Inside are multiple different options for your morning coffee which are reusable, effective and have a long life. On top of that Tim Horton’s gives you 10 cents off to use one of their reusable cups to purchase your coffee. I myself purchase a large which comes to $1.90 and typically don’t ask for the 0.10 cents back with a reuseable cup that means I could be reducing my own cost. If I give away that 0.20 cents every time I make a purchase it means every 10 days I could be getting a free coffee.

Coffee: $1.90
Reuseable Cup: $3.50

After 17 trips to Tim Horton’s I have made up for that cost of owning the reusable mug. I have taken 17 disposable containers out of the system which wont be littered, discarded or end up in a landfill. Plus the mug helps to keep the coffee warmer for longer among many other benefits. But what if we were to add the cost associated with a convenience tax to the purchase of that coffee.

Coffee: $1.90 + 10% = $0.19 or $2.09 a unit. Tim Horton’s pour roughly 2 billion coffee’s annually with a majority of these being in the disposable containers which means that $190 million in new revenue and $190 million to municipalities and cities for recycling programs could be generated annually from these cups alone.

A convenience tax between these 2 items alone would add $880 million into the tax revenues and the funding allocations for cleaning, recycling, landfills of cities across the country.

There are so many more items that we could add to this list that would provide billions of dollars in new revenue for governments, introduce recycling programs for communities who don’t have one and expand others. Our communities would be cleaner and we as a society would be much happier in this cleaner environment. We need to start making changes to the way we live and the way we purchase items in order to protect the communities we have.

References:

http://www.fuelsinstitute.org/researcharticles/fuel-prices-auto-sales.pdf
http://groundswell.org/2-billion-tossed-per-year-whats-the-most-wasteful-bathroom-product/

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Progress vs. Destruction

North of Barrie is a small town named Orillia with 31,000 people that has almost all the same amenities as a much larger city like Thunder Bay with a population of 107,000. Both have experience downturns and expansions relating to resource booms (Thunder Bay) and Agricultural boom (Orillia). There are a number of similarities between the two cities in the thinking of the city planners and those in the community. I find that there is a desire in both communities to keep the community small town feel and avoid excesses of the big city. Thunder Bay has an aging population as does Orillia and they are both home to a Lakehead University campus; along with a college campus. One thing I also find similar between the two communities is their fear of density and a desire to avoid high rise buildings. This was presented in a meeting to council just this past Monday as people demanded council change a plan to introduce a 4 story building in an established residential neighborhood. Issues like traffic, parking, smell, people and noise were all brought to the attention of council who didn’t believe those to be valid enough reasons to stop the development (Thank god). Orillia has shown a reluctance to introduce density and higher rise development as seen through the development of the Westridge space. Row upon row of single family housing packed tightly together to make the developer a lot of money. Only a small space set aside for townhomes and none to date set aside for any high rise buildings. This subdividion plan is seeing massive amounts of deforestation done to the area, geography changes and destruction of farmland as a result. This is as a result of the increasing number of students going to Lakehead University and Georgian College. I am torn between development and saving the environment but the plan for Westridge doesn’t even come close to doing a good job of #2.

This is type of area that we are destroying in order to make way for new homes. Adding additional people yet massive destruction of the areas in which we grow our food.
This is type of area that we are destroying in order to make way for new homes. Adding additional people yet massive destruction of the areas in which we grow our food.

Presented below are a number of photos taken recently that show the deforestation and the destruction of prime farm land in order to make way for new homes. This space will be filled with single family detached units and allow Orillia to continue its urban sprawl outwards. This sprawl will cost the city millions in infrastructure repair, increased services cost and greenspace destruction. The city planning seems to be of the same mindset as those planned in the height of the automobile. Orillia is a challenge in other modes of transport to move from the old part of town to the new West Orillia area. The City of Orillia transit runs the Westridge route every 30 minutes but due to its length it often runs late during busier hours of the day. This causes delays for riders and causes major concerns for those who need to ride the bud in order to get to work. There is no safe connection from the Westridge area to the older parts of Orillia unless you go on the Highway 11 overpass at Coldwater which is a challenging and potentially dangerous task. Even in the winter walking over the overpass is both dangerous and exposes pedestrians to the elements. The plan to develop this area I believe needs to be looked at again and brought up to a new standard one of which helps to reduce the cost to the City of Orillia, Orillia Transit and make the area more walkable and cyclist friendly. As a resident of the area I am a little bit of a hypocrite because I am part of the problem by renting in the area. I want to present a plan which I believe will help increase density, transit usage and make this a better community for everyone to live in.

Prime farmland destroyed in order to build new homes. The area was rolling hills but was flattened and the earth stripped. The levels of earth had dropped about 1 metre which makes this area now vulnerable to flooding during heavy rains due to the higher ground around it.
Prime farmland destroyed in order to build new homes. The area was rolling hills but was flattened and the earth stripped. The levels of earth had dropped about 1 metre which makes this area now vulnerable to flooding during heavy rains due to the higher ground around it.

We need to develop more density around bus stops and allow for Orillia Transit to take more vehicles off the road. This means more single unit apartment buildings and condominiums in this area which would be targeted at students and single individuals in the community. Townhomes should be built close to the university with walking paths and bike lanes directly connected to this area to allow students to walk or bike to the campus. This density will benefit Orillia transit with increased ridership and decrease the annual renewal costs of the City of Orillia. It will also bring in additional tax dollars which can be used to repair the roads or pay for increased transit services. The development mentioned before in Thunder Bay is expected to bring in $16,000 a year in tax income compared to the 2-3,000 a single family home would.

Bush that has been deforested and stripped away in order to make it easier to build on. This again was all farmland as of last year and now is dirt and mud which serves no environmental purpose or habitat purpose. Likely will not see homes for another couple of years.
Bush that has been deforested and stripped away in order to make it easier to build on. This again was all farmland as of last year and now is dirt and mud which serves no environmental purpose or habitat purpose. Likely will not see homes for another couple of years.

Increase the amount of natural habitat and greenspace in the Westridge development in order to alleviate the amount of destruction that we are doing to these natural areas. These area’s are natural habitats for animals and serve to help mitigate issues such as drainage. Natural drainage and water retention helps to save the city millions of dollars’ worth of sewers and mitigation projects. These areas also help to increase the value of a home because they can be natural sound barriers and protection from other residential/ commercial areas. It also provides the individuals in the area with a space to help relax and connect with nature. Spending time in the woods has been shown to have a positive effect on people’s mental and physical health. Greenspace is good for the entire community physically, mentally, financially and for the environment in general.

Increase the amount of opportunities for people to get around to other areas of the community by alternative means of transportation. Bike, walking or bus all need to be improved into this region in order to really help make this area a positive space for the community members and the environment. A bridge over Highway 11 is just one project that needs to be proposed and implemented in order to take bikes off the ill designed roadway and onto a safer area. The City of Orillia has started this process by designing multi use trails that connect the length of Westridge road and connects Rotary Place and Lakehead University. It would be great to see these paths continually expanded in order to allow for a more connected community. Bike racks on the front of city transit buses could be just one option to helping move people around. It would be less expensive than building a specifically designed bridge over the highway. For students who live in downtown or come from out of town and may need to park somewhere the City should be looking to make a monthly pass available for people to come and park then ride transit to school. It would be a money generator for the city and take vehicles off the road. The proponents for this construction needs to step up as well.

Old vs new. The green space is where farmland was and shows you just how much has been removed in order to make way for the new development.
Old vs new. The green space is where farmland was and shows you just how much has been removed in order to make way for the new development.

Lakehead University is the reason that this construction is going at hyper-speed and being a diamond level LEED school they should be working with the community more to promote positive environmental designs by city planners and working to promote a healthy community to which they are a part of. Georgian College also needs to step up and help to promote alternative means of getting its students from their homes to its campus. Universal transit passes for students and teachers are just one means of getting students consistently and easily from work, school or play home without a vehicle. Both need to make their voices heard and promote new ways of thinking within the City of Orillia. I would love to see Lakehead University – Orillia continue to add students into its downtown unit and expand its offerings there. I believe that the more students down there the more the community will expand and improve. Lakehead also needs to stick its neck out and ask for higher density housing around its campus in order to reduce the environmental impact it’s students are having on the community. This is a new development and it can be influenced to make sure it’s a modern one but we need people to step up and make these decisions today to truly influence the future positively.

Now I am not against development by any means and I understand that things will change in order to provide what the market wants or what is most profitable. We need to make the destruction we do as limited as possible and allow for us to live within our means more.

Construction #4

Here is a Google Earth photo of the area before the construction started. The area in question is spotted by the photo above and 2 more up.

Destruction Photo for Blog

Time to divest assets

Thunder Bay is a city that has been in decline for years. Youth and vision have been leaving the community in boatloads, money has walked from city coffers. All of this has happened while the city has pretended that it can continue to offer the same level of services without massive increases to taxes. In reality the situation is much different, years of underspending has left the city in a position where its assets are crumbling. Arenas that are 50 years old and getting close to their end of life, sewers well past their breaking point and buildings falling apart. The city needs to desperately look at the things it owns and is involved in. We cannot pretend that we are a city with a booming industrial sector, population growth and money to burn. Below are the items I believe that the city should look at getting rid of and a short reason as to why.

Chippewa Park – The city has a very limited vision for this area. There are so much potential for the area in terms of housing, activities and there isn’t the money. The roads here are terrible, the zoo is a money loser and we have invested considerable amounts into the RV park that doesn’t provide the proper return. The pavilion needs to be turned into a year round facilities and promoted better then the city has the ability to. Truthfully I believe that the city could sell this to Fort William First Nation. I believe they would have more of a vision for the future for this land.

Trowbridge Campground: This campground is a generally well run facility that is attractive to city residents and to travelers. The issue comes when the city cannot provide an adequate service to people who are coming into the park past 8 pm. The city leaves it self open to thousands in losses with people coming in late and being turned away or staying and then running. This would be great to sell to a 3rd party operator and get the maintenance and staffing costs off the books. This is a facility that is close to breaking even and with a 3rd party ownership could be a money maker.

Daycares: This is one of the services that the city provides where I agree at one time it was necessary but isn’t anymore. The Daycare portion of the city loses thousands of dollars daily and will continue to do so for years to come unless something drastic changes. We should not be in this business anymore, it is not a quality of life issue to eliminate this money losing service. I believe that we should continue to own the buildings in which they are housed out of and open these spaces to private business. We cannot afford to keep subsidizing this service, it is not fair to the workers who have random hours and the taxpayers. With the introduction of all day daycare into the province and increased competition. We cannot and should not be competing.

Conservatory: This was a hot button issue for the city. It was a building put together for the 100th birthday of Canada and has a lot of great attributes. This issue has come when the building has aged with limited investment and seen annual loses rise to $600,000 a year. This building will not succeed under the City of Thunder Bay and we cannot afford to invest millions into a new building with limited use. There is a group that is attempting to save the conservatory and make it a more effective overall attraction for Thunder Bay. I think the city should gift this building to that group and have them take it off of the city’s hands. It was a beautiful building but with the repairs necessary and tax issues facing Thunder Bay we can’t keep everything.

Sporting Venues The city has an issue with its sporting venues that is going to require massive amounts of money to fix. The city’s venues were designed too small, too spread out and are coming to the point in their life where they need massive investment or replacement. Grandview arena and Stanley arena are both facilities that are in need of replacement because they don’t meet the need of the users present and future. They cost the city annually $1 million dollars in losses alone a major detractor for the parks division. They city needs to replace these with second sheets of ice at other city facilities and they would continue to lose money but reduce the amount substantially. The city also needs to consider a long term plan for the Canada Games Complex and the Tbaytel Stadium. The Canada Games complex is a important part of a potentially sports complex in this area but it needs a plan. It needs investment to keep it relevant and bring down the annual costs to the city. Tbaytel stadium while operated by a 3rd party is going to need investment to replace the building here soon. We need to decide if we are willing to invest millions into a facility that draws 900-1,300 people a night for 20-30 days every summer. We need to make this facility more then baseball.

The City of Thunder Bay has 2 billion dollars worth of infrastructure under its belt and it needs to lessen the load. That total is almost 7 years worth of operating and annual budgets. We aren’t the same city as when we built many of these pieces of infrastructure. Its time to lessen the load on taxpayers and provide a leaner more effective municipal government. Truthfully, any money saved by reducing these costs from the city’s general costs should be shifted into 1) Infrastructure renewal, 2) Transit and 3) Taxpayers rate savings. These choices are going to be tough and going to be hard but all the important decisions are.

Do a Job Once, Do it Properly

This post comes after I personally have grown a little bit annoyed with the way that Thunder Bay conducts its road construction season. Now, I will fully admit that I am not an engineer, a construction expert or an expert in administering contract tenders but I do know one thing. If you’re going to do a job it should be done properly, done once and done as effectively as possible. Specifically this article is being written in regards to the Harbour Expressway and the mess it has become and continues to be. A job that had potential to have been much more is being left to become a mess and be majorly inconvenient to citizens/ineffective to taxpayers.

The Harbour Expressway is a major corridor for the city. It splits the city into two with access to the port, the north and south of the city and the major shopping areas. It is an important trucking route for the Port Authority and many shipping companies set up by the port. It is also heavily used by citizens to get to their destinations in the city and tourists looking to get around. For this route to be congested by spot construction here and there; leaves a lot of head scratching for all these people. This route seen major delays in 2013, again in 2014 and will see even more delays in 2015 as work takes up sections of road in other areas.

As it stands right now the Expressway is broken down into sections that are good, modest and crap. The areas under construction currently were crap and needed to be resurfaced. When a driver comes from the Thunder Bay Expressway they come onto a section of road that is modest but quickly headed towards crap. In certain areas there has been major reduction in the validity of the roadway. A couple years of patchwork to fix large numbers of potholes that continue to reoccur. Then they come onto a brand new intersection which was the cause of a major delay in 2013 from June-October. The driver reaches a bridge that is in modest condition, it is seeing some potholes starting to show. A brand new section (Under construction) all the way to the Balmoral Intersection which is crap (2015 delay), another section of good through the intersection (which I will talk about later). Then after the Memorial intersection they reach a modest road section where the expressway ends. One can see that this roadway as it stands is Declining – Good – Ok – Good – Crap – Good – Modest. How could someone approve this tender and says “Yep that sounds ok”. As a boss I know I wouldn’t see this as an acceptable method to getting the job done. I understand there are budget constraints but if pushing it back a couple years to get the entire job done at one time is the answer then so be it.

To me that is the exact opposite of what doing a job once and doing it right is all about. It is a major inconvenience to travelers to have the work done in patchwork such as this and cost ineffective to do this. While a larger project would have a larger price tag it would in the end be more cost effective, time effective and better for the public then what the city is doing now. One has to simply look at inflation to see that if the work was all tendered in a single year that it would be a single price instead of 2013 then 2014 (+1-2%) and then 2015 (+1-2%). By breaking the contract up and doing it over a number of years the cost has increased upwards of 4% over and above the initial cost. This is ineffective for the taxpayer and redirects resources away from city departments for a longer period of time. Clearly this is a huge project and likely couldn’t be completed in a single year but tendering it in a single year would have been better.

One of the things that truly irks me if how the job is being done half completed. #1: The entire stretch isn’t being done at the same time, #2: Things like light poles and guard rails aren’t being replaced leaving rusting hulks all along the stretch, #3: There was an opportunity to divide the highway (even if only by a little) with the 3 major intersections under construction. This opportunity was missed by council and administration, it would have reduced head on collisions and provided safer travels. #4: Nothing is being done to make the area more pleasing to the eye or to block traffic noises from the surrounding areas. This is a major through fair for many people and something appealing to the eye would have been nice. Having a divider with trees or grass could have been a minor upgrade with much more appealing aspects. Reduction in noise from the highway would have increased house values that back along the roadway and provided more peace of mind.

When I drive past this area I always shake my head when it comes to the intersection at Carrick/Harbour Expressway. The intersection isn’t heavily used so it didn’t need to be expanded but if your doing the section of roadway anyways why not do the entire thing? The straight through sections are getting done and some of the on/off ramps are being replaced but not all. This area is busy with construction right now, its seeing 2 hotels being built on both sides. Why are we not replacing the entire thing? What is the point in doing half a job so in a couple years you have to do the other half? It truly doesn’t make any sense and continues to defy logic.

To me, having the entire roadway from the Thunder Bay Expressway to Fort William Road would have been the best option. It would be an expensive proposition to do it in a single swoop but replacing the entire thing reduces congestion time, costs and city resources. This road could have been upgraded and traffic would flow much better after the project was done. Even if it took 2 years to complete it would have been much better than the patchwork it is currently and will continue to be. As a citizen I see a project that could have been so much more and been so much more effective had some forethought been put into it. We need to plan these projects with a thought for the next 20 years and make sure our money is going towards the best option there is.

Do a job once, and do it properly the first time is a motto we should all live by.

Don’t worry the Government will babysit

A new report has been release stating that we should ban advertising of junk food/ high calorie advertisements for kids under 12. The report states that kids are becoming more obese and a portion of the problem is the advertising they are seeing. While I agree that the trend of children and adults becoming obese is a dangerous slope there also has to be common sense. The government can’t make every child a ward of the state because parents aren’t willing to do just that; parent. Kids were being shown this type of advertising before in previous generations but weren’t obese at the same rates as today’s kids. So what changed to make fat kids the norm in today’s society. Obviously, technology is a huge factor for today’s kids as they can get media from almost any source but I also blame dumb rules.

It seems like a lot of parents are letting their kid’s Xbox or PS3 do the parenting/ babysitting. Its easier for the child to sit on the game then it is to deal with cutting them off at a certain period of time. Same with Facebook, cell phones and the internet. It seems as if the stresses of daily life for today’s parent make them shy away from the potential added stress of parenting. There need to be rules when it comes to the amount of daily and weekly intake of media from the different sources. It shouldn’t be hard or a issue to be able to turn off the Xbox at supper time or a cell phone. I remember as a kid (which wasn’t that long ago) that I would spend hours outside with friends doing different things. That shouldn’t become a thing of the past but it seems that the streets are less busy and the servers are coming under increasing amounts of stress. We need to rekindle the love for the outdoors and that means getting out and doing things with your kids. Making it a daily or weekly activity to go out and walk boulevard lake would be a great example of something to get kids out of the house. If any rules are past it should be guidelines for reducing the amount of media time that kids are getting. It should be tips for helping parents cut the kids addictions to killing zombies or online noobs. It’s not all parents fault though, there are increasing amounts of institutions where rules are becoming overwhelming.

I remember in school being able to play different games that today are banned under new rules. Capture the flag was one of my favorite games when I was young. It was great fun for all involved and was a huge use of energy. The game was banned because there were too many relations to a war game for the school to deem it acceptable. Even though a snowball fight was banned, we always used to do it for fun and to burn off some energy. We used to get in trouble sometimes even if we were just chasing each other around because the schools were so worried about injuries and being sued. Over time the school board has slowly helped the obesity levels of students by reducing their ways to enjoy life. Accidents happen, bones break and scraps happen but choking off children’s fun to avoid a lawsuit is crazy. Its even worse that parents would be willing to think about suing people for something as childish as an accident happen. If a child is beaten then of course sue but getting a ball to the face and then suing is ridiculous. We need to offer these children more then what that are allowed to do. We need to loosen the rules and allow these kids to play and to be kids.

Please stop using “if you don’t calm down we wont go to Mcdonalds” as a tool to get your kid to shut up. This is a personal pet peeve of mine that you want your kid to shut up by clogging their arteries. We need to really develop better ways of dealing with kids who are obviously tired, hungry or just don’t want to be out. Bringing them to McDonald’s for a cheap meal does nothing but hamper their health and lead to more problems in the future. If you have to use that threat then it should be like “if you don’t calm down we aren’t going to the park”. The more people we can get out of these stores will only help our future financial, economic and health successes.

We need to allow parents to do their jobs and lead our children into the future. The increasing amount of rules like this new advertising blockaid doesn’t stop bad parenting. We need to give parents a guideline for how to raise their children healthy. Today’s, world is different from the one that they grew up in, we need to give parents tips on cutting the cord with the babysitter xbox. The government can do so much more good for parents rather then cutting off advertising for food commercials. There may be a an opportunity to tax food advertisements and use the revenue to provide more spaces for children who can’t afford to play sports. This could be a much better use of government power and time.

Obviously, I got a little side tracked but I still believe that the advertising block isn’t the right option. I think that government time and money is better spent in other areas. Yes, children and general health is important but blocking advertising for children under 12 isn’t going to fix the issue if they don’t get off their xbox of computers. It wont reach the desired audience and wont have the desired affect of reducing obesity. Now I am not trying to say that all parents are bad and am not a parent myself. I am simply posting based on opinions and things I have seem/heard.

Here is the link for the Tbnewswatch article: http://www.tbnewswatch.com/artsandlife/267183/Junk-food-report

Post your thoughts below. What could we do to reduce the amount of childhood obesity.

Shame

A video was posted on CBC news today showing Quebec Police beating a man who had been accused on robbing a business. We do know that this man was armed as shown in the video but the actions of the officers are completely unbecoming. The man has surrendered and has thrown the weapon aside but yet he still receives a number of kicks and punches. While we don’t know what has previously happened, I don’t think that it matters here. It would have taken one officer, with a second as backup to arrest this individual peacefully. These kind of actions are unbecoming of anyone and even more so for a police officer who is in a position of authority. These officers have been suspended with pay pending an investigation into the incident. Hopefully, we will see some kind of actions of which the courts seem fit. It would seem that assault charges would fit perfectly in this situation. Hopefully, the entire force is shown how to deal with someone who has surrendered cause this is just unacceptable.

http://www.cbc.ca/player/News/ID/2337567715/

*apologize if there is an ads -> taken from the cbcnews.ca website.

 

Expensive military equipment – made in China?

When someone thinks of items that are built in China the first thing that pops into ones head is lead paint, poorly made, slave labour, cheap crap etc etc. If the average consumers thinks this and knows this then why is the government buying military equipment with parts purchased in China? One would figure that the expensive price paid for military equipment to these companies would allow for the best equipment on the market. It seems that these companies are looking to take a larger slice of the pie while potentially sacrificing safety, lives and national security. The news has come out that Canada’s new fleet of Hercules aircraft may have a bit of a problem. It turns out that the producer (Lockheed Martin) didn’t do its quality checks properly and that many of the planes are filled with parts produced in the 90’s, refurbished and sold as new. These parts are already failing on aircraft in the US fleet causing flight instruments to fail completely and leave pilots flying as tho it was 1910. It crashes most of the systems in the plane when the parts fail leaving the transport aircraft vulnerable to anti-air missile fire and rockets. The Canadian government paid 1.4 billion to purchase the 17 new C130J Hercules or over 82 million per aircraft. One would expect that for 82 million that the plane we receive when it comes off of the factory floor are safe, ready to fly and ready to be used in action. On top of this major issue with these planes there is 2 more that need to be dealt with immediately.

The Conservative government has felt that even with these fake parts in the planes that they are safe to fly. They felt so confident that the Chinese crap in the planes are safe that they sent some of the planes to fly mission in Afghanistan. Now, there is likely more to the story about why they were sent like the other planes falling apart but a unsafe aircraft is a bad idea. Our soldiers, sailors and airmen need to be worried about the people they are fighting not their own equipment failing. Even today they feel that the parts don’t warrant being replaced and that they are fine. This is the same government that has promoted itself as being pro-military and said it would provide the best equipment it possibly could. This failure of due diligence by the military and the defense department is simply mortifying that it is allowed to continue. While I believe that the government should endure the immediate costs of replacing all the parts that are faulty, the real blame and cost needs to lie with Lockheed Martin. Their failure to properly equip these aircraft with the proper and most up to date technology is a massive failure. Besides being a major failure for them this time it could also have major implications for them in the future.

Lockheed Martin tried to cover this story up and keep the faulty equipment a secret from the US and Canadian military. The fact that they knew and tried to hide it from their largest purchaser should be a huge black mark against the company. To date they have been unwilling to speak about the faulty equipment and it seems as if the governments will be forced to stick with the costs. This raises other concerns and questions within the Canadian military and the community as this is the same company building the F-35 and F-22 stealth fighters. The Canadian government decided to purchase 65 of the F-35 fighters at a cost of 20 billion dollars (purchase and 20 years maintenance) to replace the old F-18 fleet. With the Hercules debacle, how can the Canadian and US governments really believe that they are going to get the best fighters available. As a Canadian citizen I am extremely skeptical now of this company as should many others. What other items will be purchased and produced in China? Will the planes fail at Mach 1.5 killing our pilots? Will the planes do anything that Lockheed Martin says they can do? These questions are now extremely important as the track record for government military purchases falters and the costs rise. This plane was sold to Canadians as being a 9 billion dollar purchase but are now coming in at around 30-40 billion. Countries are looking to different sources to replace their aging fleets as they get priced out, get waited out or tire of delays and set backs. Canada is now one of those countries but with these mega billion dollar projects it begs to question why we are not keeping these secrets in North America.

Why are we giving contracts to China when they are expected to be our biggest rivals. If it is purely to save a buck then the companies that are making our military equipment are selling out for the all mighty dollar. There are numerous companies in North America that have the capabilities and the know how to build these planes, these parts and design them. The positive economic impact on these companies would more then make up for the money saved by sending these contracts to China. More important then the economy is the national security breaches which would have happened at these factories. China has been spending billions to improve its military and catch up to the worlds superpowers. Its almost a guarantee that Chinese agents were able to get a copy of the equipment built in these countries. China is more then willing to steal and copy anything that has merit and they believe can improve their way of life. The Geophone 5 is a perfect example of a Chinese company stealing a US designed and paid for item. The Chinese company literally stole a Iphone 5 off of the production line and created a copy of the device. They patented the device in China and are now waiting for Apple to bring the Iphone 5 to China so they can sue them for patent infringement. The Chinese auto shows are collections of stolen cars from around the world being sold off as different companies ideas. The theft of designs is causing the auto industry massive issues as they try to break into the biggest upcoming market and make headway. This theft of ideas is not purely done by private companies to make their own products, the Chinese governments are paying massively for cyber spy’s to steal secrets from defense companies around the world.

Lockheed Martin was one of those companies corrupted by what is believed to be Chinese state cyber spies. The project that was believed to be corrupted was the F-35 program which will be the mainstay of the world’s air forces. While its not known what was stolen from this breach it is very concerning for the security of our countries. It was a short period after that photos of the new Chinese stealth fighter were caught and released. This fighter is said to be a major step forward for the Chinese air force and there is talk that this could come close to rivaling the new US fighters. This is a major step forward in terms of technology for China who many believed were years behind the Russian and US fighters. The release of this new fighter and the timing behind it leads many to believe that the information stolen from Lockheed Martin was a major help to them. The design of the aircraft also leads people to believe that there is stolen goods in the Chinese fighter which is similar to the F-35. The theft of designs, information and secrets have all left the US and its allies vulnerable to its enemies. While the Chinese might be vitally important to the US in economic terms and for financial reason there needs to be a shift. Companies designing and building products for North American military products shouldn’t be allowed to build in countries that aren’t considered safe. As much of the products should be designed, built and put together in North America. Protecting our military and government secrets will need to become a top priority and keeping the secrets in house will be key. Stopping capitalism and the search to save another dollar will need to stop.

Below is a picture of the new Chinese stealth fighter.

The New Chinese Fighter
The New Chinese Fighter

 

The Lockheed Martin F-35 (65 of which are to be purchased by Canada)

F35 Lightning. See the similarities?
F35 Lightning. See the similarities?

Seems similar right. A break at the place that makes them and then China jumps in the race to where we are. If they are willing to steal our ideas then why are we willing to make them there?