Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday December 9, 2017
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday December 9, 2017
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday December 24, 2016
At a “thank you” rally in early December, Donald Trump promised that he would Make Christmas Great Again.
“We’re going to start saying ‘Merry Christmas’ again!” Trump told the crowd in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
“How about all those department stores?” he mused.
“They have the bells and they have the red walls and they have the snow. But they don’t have ‘Merry Christmas’.
“I think they’re going to start putting up ‘Merry Christmas’.”
Given this full-throated pledge, it might come as a surprise to learn that Trump Tower, the golden jewel in Trump’s property portfolio and the building where he is currently plotting his first term, has no signs saying “Merry Christmas” whatsoever.
Visiting the Trump Tower on Wednesday, it was clear that holiday decorations have not been eschewed altogether. In fact, it’s the opposite. The interior of the building is festooned with festive frippery.
There is a 30ft Christmas tree. There are four-foot wreaths all around the entrance area.
There are scores of golden boxes, tied up with ribbons, laid around the place, as if Santa Claus gave up on his way to the Trump residence and dumped the presents in the lobby.
There are life-sized nutcracker statues, some holding trumpets.
But no Christmas signs.
The only mention of Christmas the Guardian could find in Trump Tower was in the gift shop, where a little Christmas tree bauble, which showed Santa Claus lying down on top of a yellow taxi, was described as a “Christmas ornament”. The ornament had been made in China.
Trump has promised that he will return Merry Christmas to common parlance before – most notably in November 2015, when he was gearing up for the Republican primaries.
It makes sense. The idea of a war on Christmas – that Americans are being forced to say “happy holidays” instead of “merry Christmas” because of political correctness – is a popular theory among some conservatives.
Trump has four years to force “merry Christmas” upon the American public, so perhaps change will eventually come to the US. He could certainly start by using the phrase in his own building.
But anyway. Happy holidays. (Source: The Guardian)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday December 15, 2016
When Cambridge mother Adele Benoit sees an electricity bill in her mailbox it is a reminder of the constant sacrifices her family must make.
Fearing the worst, she will often open the envelope slowly, unfold the bill and hold her breath.
“Then you see the amount due on the bill,” she said.
That statement’s final tally has been skyrocketing steadily, she explained, rising to amounts of more than $600 every two months. Not so long ago her hydro bills were half that amount.
It’s a tough haul for a mother of three boys, aged 16, nine and seven, who takes care of her family in a modest Cambridge Housing Authority affordable unit.
With little choice but to pay that bill, Benoit is forced to ask her children to accept less than she knows they deserve. At this time of year that means fewer Christmas gifts and even limiting the time the family’s tree is lit.
“Our Christmas tree gets lit up for an hour and a half or two hours, and then I shut it off.”
Though she is employed, her paycheques are no match against rising household costs like electricity. She has even borrowed money to buy winter coats and hats for her sons. The struggle is not an easy one to share.
“It makes me feel like I failed my kids,” she said.
Though in tears at times when describing her family’s financial troubles, Benoit shared her story with Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath while sitting together at her kitchen table Tuesday afternoon (Dec. 13).
Horwath is on a tour meeting with residents about the rising costs of electricity as part of a bid to force the provincial Liberal government to make hydro more affordable and to “humanize” public policy around energy.
Horwath is also aiming to generate more support to block Premier Kathleen Wynne and the government from further privatizing Hydro One.
Using Quebec and Manitoba as examples, Horwath said other provinces are keeping energy rates down and are not privatizing, ensuring their electricity systems are about people, not profit.
In Ontario, she said, it’s private companies that are reaping the benefits. (Source: Hamilton Spectator)
Where will the cold come from? Warmer weather forecasted in Hamilton
T.S. Eliot wrote that the cruelest month is April, when flowers emerge from “the dead land, mixing memory and desire, stirring dull roots with spring rain.”
But the poet never experienced our December, which may end up the warmest on record, with confused buds blooming on land that doesn’t know when to die.
“People are loving it,” said Environment Canada climatologist David Phillips. “Forget about the whole Great White North reputation, people see this as payback for the last two winters, which were brutal.”
The Hamilton forecast not only calls for a green Christmas, but the temperature spiking to 15 C Thursday.
Mild weather has been influenced by the impact of El Niño — unusually warm water in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of South America.
Phillips cautions that December is not over yet, but offers these highlights:
• Hamilton’s average 2015 December temperature has been 4.8 C; the normal is -2.3 C, a seven-degree difference that Phillips calls “shocking.”
• Total snowfall has been 1.8 centimetres; the lowest on record from fall through to Jan. 1 was 5.4 cm
• It can all change fast, but: “I see no end in sight for 2015. Because of El Niño, I don’t see where the cold will come from. The ground is warm, lakes wide open, and any cold air that comes from the north is being moderated.”
Reaction depends on who is weathering the warm snap.
Golfers delight: Knollwood golf club in Ancaster, for one, reopened, heralding on its Facebook page it’s “the season that never ends” and noted 174 golfers teed-off one day.
Commuters like it, as well as joggers, and those who never tire of talking weather — the last refuge of the unimaginative, said Oscar Wilde. (And journalists.)
Squirrels in Hamilton, meanwhile, have been spotted looking noticeably plumper from eating everything in sight like it’s an endless September. (Source: Hamilton Spectator)
Ontario will shed its status as a poor cousin of Confederation in the coming years, not because its economic fortunes are rebounding, but because resource-rich Alberta is falling on hard times.
The federal government is expected to announce how much each province will receive in the fiscal year 2016-17 from transfer payment programs, which include equalization, before Finance Minister Bill Morneau meets with his provincial and territorial colleagues in Ottawa on Sunday evening.
The equalization program redistributes national income to help poorer provinces provide services comparable to those of their richer counterparts. But equalization experts say the formula for calculating the payments is slow to respond to changes, including volatile commodity prices, which will leave Alberta carrying a disproportionate burden when the numbers are announced this weekend.
Ontario began receiving equalization for the first time in 2009, a dramatic reversal of fortune for the country’s one-time economic powerhouse. It is now set to reclaim its status as a “have” province because the disparity between its economy and that of Alberta is shrinking.
“What we’re talking about here is the bad way of coming out of equalization,” economist Don Drummond said.
The “good way” to come out of the program, he said, is for a province’s economy to rebound so that growth in its revenues offsets a loss of equalization payments.
Because the equalization funding is based on a three-year national average of gross domestic product, next year’s calculation will still include times when oil prices were high and Alberta was booming. This means Ontario will not get “kicked out” of the program for another two or three years, Mr. Drummond said.
Alberta pulled up the overall standard of living in Canada when the country’s wealth was shifting west to the resource-rich provinces. Now that Alberta’s economy is faltering, the reverse is happening. Ontario will no longer be eligible to receive equalization once its standard of living is aligned with a lower national average.
Any province that falls below the national average is eligible for equalization. In fiscal 2015-16, Ottawa distributed $17.3-billion in equalization payments to six provinces. Ontario’s share was $2.4-billion. (Source: Globe & Mail)
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