Today I'd like to take some time to discuss the "gun control" debate in the United States of America.
Canada and the United States have always been two close neighbors. Canadians travel to the US often to buy cheaper food and other products, and many Americans admire Canada's superior natural beauty and also its overwhelmingly kind and generous people. While on the surface, it looks like the two countries absolutely adore each other, looks can be deceiving, and there is actually much more to the relationship. It's complicated. It's confusing. Sometimes it's a positive relationship, other times there's open hostility between our two governments and even the two peoples.
Let us talk about the government first. Both countries elect governments to represent the interests of the people. In Ottawa, the Canadian Capital, the Conservative government has depicted itself as a willing partner to the US. Yes, sometimes our government does poke at the US, such as when the Prime Minister chose to extend an invitation to China for Canadian oil. Canada has plenty of oil and it looks as if the American administration is close to denying approval to the Keystone XL pipeline.
But make no mistake, Canada is America's lapdog. We do whatever the American administration asks of us. Send planes to Libya? We did that. We're sending jets to fight ISIS now too. The ISIS terrorist organization is not a threat to Canada. Correction: It WAS not a threat to Canada until we stuck our nose into the affairs of the Middle-East. We followed America into battle like an overenthusiastic dog. Canada is spending millions of dollars on a military campaign that is not in the best interests of Canadian citizens.
The American government has done very little to recognize Canada's many contributions to the world. Canada's government hosted talks for the Americans to normalize relations with Cuba, a country Canadians love to visit. What does Barack Obama do? He spends ten seconds thanking Canada and then talks for two minutes about how wonderful the Pope is for WRITING LETTERS. Canada did much more than His Holiness in bringing the two nations together and what Canada's good government gets is a dismissive and half-hearted thank-you. THEN Barack Obama has the nerve to point out that the Keystone XL pipeline will not benefit America. He goes on to insult Canada several times. I was personally ready to throw a brick at my television as Barack Obama kept talking about how we were trying to take advantage of the United States. The Americans should realize that the Canadian government will always be an ally to the US, but they need to treat us with more respect before we continue appeasing the Obama Administration.
Now lets talk about the people. Canadian citizens have always been friendly to the people of the United States. Canadians welcome American citizens with open arms, as we should. UNFORTUNATELY, the Americans don't feel the same way about Canadians. For example. people in the City of Bellingham Washington are complaining that Canadians are buying all of the food in the Costco store and are proposing that the store BAN CANADIANS FROM SHOPPING THERE. The evil Americans go on to state that Canadians are a bunch of "greedy pigs" that should "stay home." Canadians contribute billions of dollars to the American economy, the Americans should be mighty grateful for Canadians buying American products and creating American jobs.
Another example of Anti-Canadianism is the National Hockey League. The NHL headquarters used to be located in Montreal, Quebec. Now it's in New York City. And any expansion of the league, it won't be happening in Canada. For years the people of Quebec City have wanted their precious NHL team back. Not too long ago there was a 100,0000-strong rally calling for the NHL to bring the Nordiques back. The NHL said 'no.' Yet all indications point to the NHL placing a team in LAS VEGAS NEVADA. IN THE MIDDLE OF A DESERT. There's going to be initial hype, but after a few years, the arena will be empty, like the arena in Arizona for the Phoenix Coyotes games. There will be very small amounts of fans cheering the Vegas team on. In Quebec, or even a second Toronto team, there will be a huge fan base.
In conclusion, the Canadian people in the coming year need to elect a new government ready to sand up against the American bullies and work to make our countries bond again. The Americans need to stop being so selfish and start recognizing Canada's continued loyalty and stop pressuring Canada to join conflicts that we don't belong in. And the American people need to learn to value Canadian citizens more. Canadians contribute a hell of a lot of money into the American economy, and it's high time that the Americans start to realize that we are good people.
'At seven P.M. a main hatchway caved in; he said,
"Fellas, it's bin good t'know ya!"
The captain wired in he had water comin' in
and the good ship and crew was in peril.
And later that night when 'is lights went outta sight
came the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.'
- Gordon Lightfoot song 'The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.'
The lyrics in the above passage were changed in 2010. I didn't know that. The amended line is 'At 7 p.m., it grew dark, it was then he said'. Of course, I'll always remember listening to the song with my now deceased mother and watching her cry as she remembered that fateful night 39 years ago today. She told me that she was related to one of the mighty FitzGerald's crew. I don't know which Sailor, nor will I ever know. But every year I do mourn the death of the twenty nine men. Every year I watch the same documentary. Every year I read the same book. Every year I look at the same painting by artist Chad Florence. As my mother passed on, her obsession became my own. I wonder how the greatest freighter of the day simply vanished. Of course, there's no doubt in my mind that the waves sunk the Edmund Fitzgerald. Still, 39 years later, here are plenty of theories.
Today we should just reflect. Reflect on how nature can be so violent sometimes. Reflect on the lives lost in such horrifying circumstances. Reflect on how these things just happen, and there's nothing anybody can do to stop it...
Long time, no talk, Sault Ste. Marie! I just haven't found the time nor the inspiration to start writing again. Some nights I would log on and stare at a blank screen for twenty minutes, thinking about what to type. Then I would type a sentence, sometimes maybe a paragraph, and then I'd be stuck, not knowing how to finish the post. But not today. Not now. There's so much to write about!
The most important news is that Winter has arrived in the Sault! For over a week, the snow has always managed to miss the city. Areas north, east, even some areas south of here, have seen snow.
Yesterday, we woke up, and there it was. The ground was white. Until noon. Then only the roads were white. Because of the salt that the City crews dumped. Yesterday evening I was going to write a post strongly condemning the Department of Public Works for dumping so much salt on the roads. There was next to no snow, and it was gone by 12:00 PM. What a waste of time and money.
Then the snow really started falling. And it didn't stop. In fact, as I write this, it is still snowing. I have shoveled the driveway twice. Once at 3:30 this afternoon, and again at 6:30. And it looks like I may have to shovel the driveway a third time before bed.
With the arrival of Winter, I have mixed feelings. I do hate the snow, it's a chore to shovel and then the roads look disgusting when car fumes and dirt and salt make the snow brown. But the snow is what brings me into the Holiday spirit. Those pesky Christmas commercials airing right after Halloween, and the stores have Christmas displays out on November 1, it annoys me to no end. Corporate greedy dirtbags have ruined the Holidays.
Snow, it just lightens my heart. I look out the window and see the snowmen and start humming "Frosty the Snowman," and I see children throwing snowballs, and I want to go out there and throw some too. Of course, after the first week of January, I start to really hate the snow and I want it GONE. But that's up to nature. Mother nature. And she hasn't been too kind to Sault Ste. Marie in the last two years. And if forecasts are to be believed, Mother Nature will be giving us another doozy of a Winter. Sigh.
As the 2014 election campaign season inches closer, I think it's a perfect time to look at the issues, the candidates, and the mood of the electorate. On October 27th, the voters of Sault Ste. Marie have a very important decision to make: Continue with the status quo, or go for change? And when I say change, sometimes change isn't a good thing. Some candidates are not deserving of being elected to public office. Most of the current Councillors are also undeserving of being re-elected.
In the past four years, Sault Ste. Marie has plunged further into a depression. We rely on a Steel Plant that's nearing bankruptcy for jobs. We rely on call centres. Under the current Mayor's administration, hundreds of call centre jobs have been lost. And more stores and small businesses are packing up and firing people and laying people off, and the new businesses coming to the Sault now, that's not enough jobs. We need more businesses, more jobs.
That's the number one issue. Jobs. Another issue is transit. I have been a fierce advocate for better transit since 2011, since I created Sault Transit Reform on Facebook. Over a thousand people are part of the movement. Over a thousand people care about transit issues and they expect our municipal government to be on top of this issue. They don't want to pay more money for less services. There are other things that can be cut. Like sanding the roads when there's barely any snow left on the ground. I remember standing at the bus stop once, at the bottom of Pim Street hill, and this was in the spring of 2013, and there was only a few piles of snow here and there, and no ice whatsoever. Yet there was the sanding truck, dumping sand on the roads. The sand costs money. The gas to fuel the sand truck costs money too. So does the wage of the person driving the truck. Cut that absolutely STUPID expense. Another stupid expense is when Sault Transit spends money on Bon Soo advertisements, instead of restoring half-hour services on Saturday. Sault Transit has nothing to do with Bon Soo. So that's another place we can save money.
The candidates. All three of the Mayoral candidates are not exciting me. And they shouldn't excite you either. The incumbent, the current Mayor, her "Your City, Your Say" slogan of 2010, that was a lie. The slogan should have been "If you want the 'Same old, Same old,' vote for me!" Change hasn't happened. We need someone better. And the other two candidates aren't exactly Mayoral material. One wasn't even born in the Sault and I do think that any Mayor we elect should be a Sault-born and Sault-raised resident. Someone who understands our city's needs. Someone who wants to be elected to make a difference, not collect a hold power or collect a pay cheque. Until I see that candidate, and a candidate willing to pledge that he or she will not cut transit services, then there will be no endorsement. And we should all just stay home and not vote at all.
The mood of the electorate is another issue here. Tired. Tired of the lies. Tired of the lack of action on serious issues. Tired of the layoffs. Tired of no jobs coming to the Sault. Tired of brown water. Tired. Ward One Councillors, I respect them both for their commitment to the service of their constituents, but the brown water crisis could have been handled better. Instead of writing an open letter that accomplishes nothing, if I was a Ward One Councillor I would be in the new PUC building that we're all paying for, my fists would be banging the desks of the powers that be at the PUC. I'd be yelling and cursing and demanding that there be a solution "RIGHT NOW, AT ONCE, IMMEDIATELY!!" They'd fall out of their executive spinning chairs trembling in fear at my anger.The people of Copernicus and Lorna Drive and Taskar and Amber Street, they all deserve better. They deserve clean water. They deserve Representatives who would have taken care of this crisis immediately instead of biding their time and thinking of strategies to make themselves look good for voters. Saultites are tired of political failure. We need real change at City Hall. Only two candidates out of all of the candidates for Mayor and Council, only two, seem to have my respect and support. Check back later for endorsements!
It has been about a week since I last wrote an article on this website. Normally, if someone wants their blog to be successful, they need to invest all of their time into writing good material. Not some of their time. All of it. But I'm not what most people would call 'normal.' No. I expect this website to continue being successful. There's more to this website than my opinions. There's photographs that I believe are worthy of awards. There's a campaign to add a new Lay's potato chip flavour. There will be new features in the future. This site will grow from 1,400 visitors a month to over 2,000 by the end of this year, to double that by the end of next. I feel that already, 3 months since the launch of www.matthewfrankkot.ca, there have been some successes.
Anyway, the first topic tonight is the most popular topic on Twitter right now, Hillary Clinton's interview with ABC's Diane Sawyer. #HillaryonABC is (as of 10:00 pm, EST) the 3rd most popular hashtag in the Twitterverse. She's a very important woman. The most powerful job on Earth is hers for the taking. Polls show that she would crush even the strongest opposition candidate. Hillary talked about Monica Lewinsky. "I wish her well." She talked about her decision to run for President. It's "likely" that her choice will be made in 2015.
Mrs. Clinton discussed Benghazi, saying that she was not directly responsible for the attacks. There are people with more expertise than her in the field of securing diplomatic posts. Of course, that is true, very true indeed. At the end of the interview, I felt that this topic was somewhat overexposed. She has said everything before. Diane Sawyer's interview wasn't special. It's safe to say that millions of people around the world watched it, but still, with ABC and Diane Sawyer promoting it like crazy, even the dullest, most boring interview can be made into a huge spectacle.
The other topic, the Ontario election. I'll be brief. I'm voting for the Liberal Party. I've made my endorsement. Yes, I said that Tim Hudak did win the leader's debate, but still, my riding's Liberal candidate, David Orazietti, has brought so much to Sault Ste. Marie. New schools, a new hospital, transit funding. The Liberals have invested so much, and they will continue investing in health care, education and transit.
I like the Conservative leader, I like Andrea Horwath too, but I vote for the party that will make Ontarians lives' easier. I vote for a candidate that can offer my city more than the others. And the Liberal candidate, I strongly feel that he will deliver more to the Sault from Queen's Park than the other candidates.
At a recent Chamber of Commerce meeting, Sault Ste. Marie Mayor Debbie Amaroso says that she believes it will take ten years for the city's economy to fully recover from a decade of recession. She envisions the city's population to be 90,000 in 2024, and she also sees our city better off financially. Yes, good for her for giving an optimistic answer. Unfortunately, there's a problem here: She's been mayor for four years already, since 2010, and not much has changed in the Sault. Any jobs we've gotten have been short-term construction jobs. And then, she expects us to wait another few years to see any improvement? We want jobs NOW, not in a decade, not in HALF a decade. Now.
Of course, I'll repeat the argument I have made many, many, many times on this website, I'm starting to become repetitive. But what I say is 100% the truth. The provincial and federal governments, they're the ones who bring the construction jobs to the Sault. They've done so much, new hospital, new schools, the feds are giving us a $50 million bridge plaza. But it's up to the local EDC to lure businesses to our city. The "Economic Development" Corportation. The goal is to DEVELOP THE ECONOMY. And they're failing miserably. Ooooh, a PetSmart and oooooh, an H&M in the Station Mall. Big deal. (Sarcasm.) The Municipal government is responsible for bringing jobs to Sault Ste. Marie, and I know that since the Mayor's inauguration in 2010, the unemployment rate in this city is still quite high. I bet that not even a thousand jobs have been created since she took office. That record isn't something a politician should be proud of.
We need a Mayor and a City Council that works tirelessly to promote this City. We need a local government that advocates Sault Ste. Marie to businesses. Like Target. Costco. Ikea. Toys R Us. Big department stores. Restaurant chains. Any retail store. We need industrial jobs. Councillor Steve Butland, I respect him greatly, Elementa brings jobs to the Sault. He has advocated for this, and this is what every Councillor should be doing. Making phone calls, emailing companies. Heck, I'm not even a City Councillor and I've been in touch with Giant Tiger, suggesting that they buy the old Liquidation World on Trunk Road.
When a Councillor or a mayor or anyone who works in City Hall can't bring progress to a city, they ought to be fired! They ought to be canned. Thrown out of office. The people of this city threw three incumbent Councillors out in 2010, hoping that new blood would be what the Sault needs. Well, the new blood that the citizens of this city elected, there seems to have been no change. None. We are where we were in 2000. 2005. 2010. 2015, if we elect the same old people, then Sault Ste. Marie will, for another four years, continue to shrivel up much like Elliot Lake did. This is not Elliot Lake. This is a city on the border with the United States. This is a city with 75,000 people. A city with a geographic advantage. We could have a good pitch for tourists to come, but we're not investing in anything that could draw tourists here. We have a market for Target, a department store that will create over 100 jobs, and they've settled in North Bay, a city of less than 60,000.
The EDC isn't doing enough. The mayor isn't doing enough. MOST (not all) Councillors are not doing enough. It's time to elect some good, new, young, energized people to represent you. In October, vote for someone who will bring jobs to the Sault NOW. Who will advocate with PASSION to bring us those jobs. Elect Councillors who will make the Sault a better place. Pull us out of the recession we've been in for YEARS. We don't have ten years to turn the economy around. Let's take the first step to a real recovery when we vote in October.
Kathleen Wynne walked onto the debate stage with a big target painted on her back this evening. Incumbents are always attacked during debates. This debate was no different. Tim Hudak and Andrea Horwath, the leaders of the Progressive Conservatives and the New Democrats, ganged up on the Premier during the first half hour of the debate. The first question was about the two cancelled gas plants. Ms. Wynne apologized many times, while Mr. Hudak tells us that her apologies are worthless and that if re-elected, it is possible that the Liberals would make another colossal billion dollar mistake.
Tim Hudak gave us straight talk. He told us that he wouldn't lie. And he stuck to that. He won this debate. While Kathleen Wynne apologized and dodged questions and failed to offer actual ideas, Tim Hudak gave us solutions. He vowed to cut down the cabinet, he vowed to create a million jobs. He vowed to resign if his Million Jobs plan did not work. Wow. He vowed to shrink government. He vowed to keep taxes low. Voters are eating this up. Hudak talked about his grandparents losing their farm. He talked passionately about investing in education and talked about investing in special needs programs, and I think that he seemed like, on that stage, a true leader, someone who understands the struggles of people, who knows the needs of Ontarians. "Hope is on the way," was his closing message. He reiterated his pledge to resign if his million jobs plan did not work. Tim Hudak won this debate, hands down.
The United States of America is at a crossroads. The national debt is now over Seventeen and a half TRILLION dollars. Cities are going bankrupt. Detroit is one of those cities. Detroit was once the center of the midwest. Now, less than 40% of the streetlamps in Detroit even light up at night. Michigan's unemployment rate, as of April of this year, is 7.4%, compare that to the national average of 6.3%. Michigan has two Democratic Senators, and they haven't fought hard enough for Michigan in Congress. Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin have accomplished little for Michigan during their years in the Senate. Rep. Gary Peters is running as the Democratic nominee to replace retiring Sen. Levin's seat. What exactly do we know about Gary Peters?
Well, we know that he flipped on Obamacare. The health care law that has dropped millions of Americans from their plans. We know that he once said that he was 'proud' of the legislation, and then he distanced himself from it. Why? Because a poll showed that only 34% of Michigan's residents support Obamacare. 48% oppose it. The congressman flipped because of a poll. Secretary of State, Terri-Lynn Land, the Republican nominee, has opposed Obamacare since the introduction of the law. She is on the right side of history.
What do we know about Secretary Land? Well, we know that she grew up in a trailer park, so when people say that she's "out of touch with average Michiganers," that's obviously wrong. She knows the struggles of the middle class. And when Rep. Peters accuses Sec. Land of waging a "war on women," it's pretty sad, considering that the Republican candidate IS a woman. How can a woman wage a war on women? That's stupid. That's sexist. The Democrats know that they're losing, so they choose to deploy sexism. It's disturbing.
Michigan has been stuck with Democrats for decades. Governor Granholm has created a humongous mess in Michigan, and Governor Snyder is cleaning up her mess. The Democrats in Washington continue to spend America into a hole, and Republicans, they see what the future is going to look like. And it's not a good future. We need the Republicans to regain control of the Senate, so that we can STOP President Obama's plans to destroy jobs and bankrupt America. Just this week, he released a plan that will cut energy. That plan will cut jobs as well, and it will cost billions to impliment. Terri-Lynn Land is against this plan, and Michigan needs her in Washington, fighting for a better state. Vote for Land in November. Vote for a better future for Michigan.
The Quest for a Perfect Reputation
Four years ago, in 2010, I was in the tenth grade. I was selling cigarettes that I stole from my dying mother and my stepfather. It wasn't a cool thing to do, and I believe what I was doing was illegal, but it wasa popular move. People respected me because I provided them with tobacco. Usually I'd give them all out for a dime, when everyone else was charging fifty cents. "What a rip-off!" I hissed to the smokers at my school. I ended up giving a few of them free cigs. Why? Because those few people were always good to me. Most of those people now have turned their backs on me, over a couple of stupid little Facebook posts, but one day I'm sure that they'll remember that I was good to them, and they'll see the tremendous error in judgement they've made.
I've since stopped breaking the law. Since my mother's death, I was a squeaky clean person. Yes, I had some grudges, but I never acted on them, even though I knew I could crush those who stood in my way of happiness without lifting a finger. I was never a violent person, and though sometimes it was tempting to pay someone big and muscly to beat someone to within an inch of his life, I could never do such a thing. I'm a good person. So, a couple years later I graduated high school, thinking that never again would I walk into White Pines.
So wrong I was. That summer I met a pretty young lady, a couple years younger, but not too noticeable. She was great. I still think she's great. But her and I got close, and she forced me to walk back into that building, despite my many objections. "There are still people I know in there!" By that time, the panic attacks had started (I wrote an article about panic attacks in March, look it up in the archives!) and I was scared to be seen by anybody I knew.
The pains that were taking over my body were severely impairing my mental stability. I admit, that for a while I felt like I was going to fall off some mental cliff and have to never be seen in public again because the panic attacks would addle my brains. Of course, the panic attacks faded and I became more confident in walking around places that only months earlier, I was scared to death of being in those areas.
While I was having the panic attacks, my entire network of Facebook friends collapsed. I started counting how many people were deleting me. And by December of 2012, over 500 people deleted me off of Facebook, about half of them people I went to school with, a few who knew me when a was still in diapers. It was a slap in the face, a stab in the back, every time someone deleted me. I didn't feel I deserved it. "I GAVE THESE PEOPLE FREE CIGARETTES AND FREE MONEY, FOR GOD'S SAKE!" I shrieked at my computer screen, before throwing my laptop against the wall. Over a couple of somewhat controversial statuses. Later that night, when I let out all of my anger, I said to myself, while siting on my neatly made bed, "why do people hate me?" Then, "how can these people be such judgemental PRICKS?" And finally, "What has this world come to?"
I admit it, I have OCD. I get obsessed over stupid little things. Words. People. My biggest obsession is to be respected and admired. And I'd do absolutely anything to maintain a positive reputation. I sold cigarettes. I spread a couple of rumours. Not really damaging ones, but still. I was determined to gain the respect of every single person I ever met. In a way, I still am. But now, I'm less likely to be totally overwhelmed with anger and hurt every time someone betrays me. People move on. People judge. It's something that I've come to accept. It took me over a year to accept that not everyone likes me. It was hard, it was excruciating. I could find VERY few reasons for people to hate me.
But alas, the world is becoming addicted to judging, and there's not a damn thing I can do about it. I can preach to people, "Don't judge, don't hate," but it goes in one ear and out the other. If I seen these people face-to-face, I'm sure I could convince them to let go of their hate, I'm a very emotional person, I can give heartfelt speeches and people will listen. But when you live online, and Facebook is the only way to talk to those people, it annoys them to see me preach. Sadly. I want them all to understand, I'm a good person. There's no need to be so mean. There's no need to hate me.
About The Author
Matthew Frank Kot was born and raised here in Sault Ste Marie. He first starting writing articles for Soonews.ca in early 2008, becoming the city's youngest columnist and journalist. He then went on to write for Local2, and for a short time had his "MATTer of Opinion" column on SaultOnline.com. Matthew was very involved in the 2010 and 2014 Municipal Elections and wrote several opinion pieces about important issues. In 2011, Matthew started Sault Transit Reform and has continued advocating for a better transit system since then.