NOTES/QUOTES #12: Spring forward nonsense; women in jail; and much wasted energy
It’s a good time of year for us folks in Yellowknife.
While the mercury is still barely climbing to -20C each day, the days are getting longer and the sun is a bit higher in the sky.
Since it’s silly to wait around in human hibernation for our short summers, it’s nice to be out of the long, dark days of December and January.
And to celebrate our life in the subarctic, we have the annual Snowking’s Winter Festival that started last weekend and runs until the end of the month.
I was at opening day to take some photos and while my camera gear held up in the cold, I still haven’t found the right kind of glove/mitt combination for my shutter finger hand.
Such problems, James.
I note that tonight’s entertainment in the Snow Castle’s Great Hall is Brian Sklar & The Tex Pistols from Saskatchewan. I first interviewed Sklar — it was one of the first entertainment stories of my career — when he fronted a band called Prairie Fire in the mid-’80s playing the North-40 Saloon in Brandon. He was an interesting cat then and now markets his act as “Canada’s original Rhinestone Cowboy Band.” So giddy-up.
And blog-ward ho!
It’s time to stop all the clock talk
I just want to beat the living daylights out of the never-ending ‘time saving’ debate.
This Sunday, March 8, the NWT will spring our clocks forward by one hour as we enter Daylight Saving Time. Now this won’t cause me too much trouble, as I still haven’t changed some clocks and watches from last November, when I refused to “fall back” an hour into winter Standard Time.
I am a DST denier. What are we exactly saving daylight for? And we aren’t really banking anything. This weekend, we’ll just be losing an hour of sleep.
I have just become used to seeing the first of the sun’s rays start to tickle the horizon around 6:30 a.m. Starting Sunday, I will revert to drinking my first cup of coffee in the dark for another hour.
Why? As a frequently cited National Post story explains, DST was introduced to Canada 100 years ago as a way to save coal. It also was apparently to make the day seem longer for when more people are awake, such as after school.
But studies now show there are no real gains to the clock changing habit.
Then of course, there are the stories of more car crashes, workplace injuries and other groggy human errors when we lose an hour of sleep in the spring. Even if partially true, it’s another good reason to stop DST silliness.
Most of the world doesn’t change their clocks. Our fellow Northern travellers in the Yukon have just decided to scrap the clock tinkering curse.
The government of Yukon will keep the time the same all year round after springing forward to DST on Sunday. It joins most of Saskatchewan, which observes Central Standard Time year-round.
A majority of Yukoners were in favour of keeping the time the same all year round and — surprisingly — the government listened. Yukon will forever be on Pacific Daylight Saving Time.
However, the NWT government hasn’t shown much interest in the matter.
In October 2017 a committee of MLAs recommended the NWT continue to observe Daylight Saving Time. This after a petition to eliminate annual time changes was started by a city councillor and brought forward in the legislative assembly months earlier.
The thought was we need to follow what Alberta does, as we are closely linked to our southern neighbours. And Alberta is standing pat, for now.
Yellowknifer columnist Walt Humphries wrote on Friday, March 6 on the “curse” of Daylights Saving Time (no link as it was just in print edition).
“To start with, they are not fooling anyone. No daylight is saved because of the archaic ritual of everyone moving their clocks ahead one hour.
“Personally, I would say, LEAVE THEM CLOCKS ALONE. Let’s not cause all confusion that happens every time we have to move our clocks forward and back.
“People have to get up an hour earlier. They are tired and grumpy. Accident rates go up. It takes a week or two for people to adjust. And yet absolutely no daylight is actually saved, so why do we continue to do it?”
Shortage of remand cells for women in city
A woman was required to stay in RCMP custody for 11 days as there was no room in the limited number of cells at the mostly male North Slave Correctional Complex (NSCC).
Women on remand — pre-trial custody — are usually transported by air to and from the Fort Smith Correction Complex (FSCC) way across Great Slave Lake.
But this was over the Christmas holidays and flights apparently weren’t available. If she could have made it to Fort Smith, she could have appeared via video link. But it’s also unclear why she needed to make four court appearances in a Yellowknife court in 11 days.
The woman was arrested for failure to comply, meaning it’s alleged she had violated a court order while released for a previous offence.
It’s not been reported what that original offence was, but I hear it was not all that serious.
The big difference between being held in a jail and the RCMP cell is that the lights must be kept on all the time — they can, apparently be dimmed — and the amenities are less kind than in a real jail. The bed is harder, the food is less appetizing.
The issue was raised in the NWT Legislative Assembly.
Justice Minister Caroline Wawzonek — herself a former defence lawyer — acknowledged RCMP cells are not supposed to be a used as a correctional facility.
“The lights are on all the time. You are on a cold slab. There’s not access to a window, there’s not access to outside time,” she told Cabin Radio.
“You can legally have someone there temporarily – we have to be able to do that to manage the transportation of individuals who are under correctional authority or under RCMP authority – but it is simply not a place to hold someone long-term.”
The NSCC has four rooms for female inmates. It’s been reported that, in the current fiscal year, the four cells have been full for 69 days. The woman’s case is the only one that’s come to light where RCMP cells were called into play.
This is not a case of discrimination against an Indigenous woman, as some media suggested. It is also not a case of a Charter violation for gender discrimination, as the NWT’s Court of Appeal decided after a judge in 2016 decided it was following a similar issue.
This is a rare incidence of all the worst factors converging at once: staffing shortages at the time of year; a lack of flights to Fort Smith; and the full women’s cells at NSCC.
The NWT is a vast land dotted with small communities. If a woman from outside of the city is arrested here, she will be housed at NSCC until her bail hearing. Then either given judicial interim release or shipped to South Slave on remand until trial. A video link is in place to be used from Fort Smith.
Same procedure generally happens for women busted in the city.
There are many, many more men in the system than women. The four cells are a best guess from the GNWT as to the general needs of the system
The woman’s case could have been better managed by all involved. Especially by her lawyer, who undoubtedly could have worked with the Crown to adjust the dates of her court appearances, if being in an RCMP holding cell was such a burden.
But the bottom line is: jail is jail. The RCMP holding cell isn’t a Turkish prison.
If the woman wanted to remain free, she could have avoided being arrested for breaching a court order that allowed her to be free. And of course, she could have avoided getting arrested in the very first place.
Sure, one is assumed to be innocent until proven guilty. But a judge clearly thought she wouldn’t be at her next court date, she might re-commit a crime; or that the public might feel the justice system wasn’t working properly if she was released.
Green hysteria in Great White North
So who doesn’t want to cut down on pollution? And yes, the climate is changing. As it has been doing since this planet was created.
But cooler heads need to prevail in this era of global warming nuttiness. Especially when it comes with addressing the needs of the North.
Recently, a study showed the NWT has the highest power costs in Canada.
That really came as no surprise to anyone who lives here.
A Toronto-based group called Energy Hub showed NWT residents pay about $387 per month, assuming an average monthly usage of 1,000 kWh. That compares to $167 a month in Alberta and $73 in Quebec.
“High energy prices, in general, is almost a social issue,” said Energy Hub founder Rylan Urban. “If electricity prices are cheaper, you have so much more access to electricity that you can use for your business, or increasing the quality of your life.”
Urban said costs could be alleviated through reduced usage and a home energy retrofit, including new light bulbs and improved insulation. Oh, and solar, of course, as Rylund makes some money hooking up homeowners and panel installers.
But any real impact to the NWT’s energy costs will cost a lot of money. I mean billions of dollars. That as we must kick our diesel addiction. So lower energy prices could also come with less pollution.
But the feds are going to have to pony up a lot of cash.
Expanding the existing Taltson generating station and connecting the Snare grid in the North Slave and Taltson in the South Slave will cost $2 billion or more.
So, as with most things in life, these pie-in-the-sky plans to paint the Great White North a eco-friendly shade of green comes down to money.
A lot of time and energy is being spent promoting a made-in-Canada version of the controversial Green New Deal, espoused in the United States by the radical left.
Here is an example of the über-woke language used to promote a Green New Deal:
“We need climate solutions that work for the frontline, marginalized, and Indigenous communities that are bearing the brunt of fossil fuel and climate impacts. This means connecting climate action to inequality and injustice and proposing real solutions that leave no community, no family and no one behind.
We have just 11 years to take the actions necessary to avoid the worst impacts of catastrophic climate change…”
Bull-hooey. A Green New Deal seems to me is less about curbing pollution than it is about furthering a radical socialist agenda. Either that, or we’re just living through an end-of-day apocalyptic myth that will be chuckled at by students of history in the centuries to come.
While the scare tactics have had a profoundly motivational effect on students and youth — we’re scaring the hell out of them — the motivation really is as political as it is pro-climate.
“We can tackle the climate emergency and deepening economic inequality at the same time,” states Our Time, an eco-group which has a Yellowknife branch.
Our Time claims “young people mobilized in unprecedented numbers during the election to elect Green New Deal Champions like Peter Julian,” and the NDP MP is paying the group back. In December, the B.C. MP announced a private member’s motion on a Green New Deal for Canada.
Our Time Yellowknife twisted NWT Liberal MP Michael McLeod’s arm into supporting an NDP plan. And he did, becoming the only federal Liberal supporting it.
So will McLeod — who Trudeau has repeatedly ignored for promotion — be able to wrangle cash for the NWT’s hydro needs?
Is there the political will in Ottawa to pay that kind of sum for vast areas with tiny numbers of voters?
UPDATE: On March 17, Snowking’s Winter Festival was cancelled over COVID-19 fears. So my seasonal optimism just a short time ago has been dampened somewhat. It’s the second year the festival has been shortened. I hope it can rebound next year.