Sunday, September 30, 2007

Nanuk Goes Postal

I did some further ruminating on the high cost of living up here and how Canada's New Government® actually discourages Canadian Arctic sovereignty by making it nigh on impossible to survive financially in the north without resorting to hunting full time. But I nearly choked on my seal meat when I took a close look at the cost of shipping consumer goods via Canada Post.

Air freight charges to Salluit from Montreal are $10.35 a kilo (or roughly $4.70 a pound) by our sole airline, Air Inuit. We have always had high cargo rates up here due to a number of factors: high fuel costs, days lost flying due to bad weather, infrastructure costs, maintenance, etc. So when I went to the Canada Post website and used their parcel post calculator I shit my pants when it coughed up a price over three times higher for using Her Majesty's postal service.

That's $209.73 while the box sits in Dorval postal sorting station being used as a goal post during employee in-plant hockey games while it waits the 9 days before being thrown on a direct flight to Salluit.

Back in the day, Canada Post's mandate was to provide the public and businesses with an inexpensive and fairly reliable delivery service for letters and parcels, from sea to sea to sea. It also ran up huge operating deficits year after year, which didn't seem to matter all that much since all levels of governments were racking up huge debt.

The Corporation then started to run the risk of becoming marginalized, first due to the rise of courier services who were delivering faster for less, and then through email with its obvious impact on regular mail. But somewhere in the past, a decision was made to compete head on with UPS, Fed Ex and the like in the lucrative corridor running just north of the US border, and basically telling northerners to go fuck themselves.

Last year, Canada Post ran a profit of $119 M, and I feel they have made it off the back of the marginalized.

Salluit is only 1,950 km north of Montreal. But the cost of mailing the same package some 7,205 km, from St. John's NL to Victoria BC, is only a mere $48.37, or $3.22 a pound.

I've also looked at US parcel post charges. Let's take Key West FL to Nome AL as an example. From the extreme south east to the extreme north west of the country is 7,251 km. Yet the same 15 lb parcel costs only $27.87 to fly that distance. And to add insult to injury, mailing that 15 lb box from Key West to Salluit, across an international border, is a meager $34.70 or 16% of the cost of mailing it from within my own country and my own province.

So the next time you hear about Canadian Arctic sovereignty, realize it is all hot air. Harper at best is only interested in protecting Canada's northern resources: he has shown time and again he has no concern for Canada's northern residents.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Arctic Sovereignty?

We've been hearing a lot of rhetoric from our Prime Minister concerning protecting Canada's interests in the far north in the Canadian arctic archipelago. He states he is worried, as are many Canadians, that larger maritime interests such as the US and Russia will ply to the open waters of the Northwest Passage with impunity once global warming has melted the sea ice and made it "navigable".

His solution is military: show the Canadian flag at a deep sea naval port, probably using the abandoned mining facilities at Nanisivik on the northern tip of Ellesmere Island; run arctic military exercises out on the ice at the entrance to the Northwest Passage; launch satellites to monitor activity in the high arctic; refit submarines to patrol our arctic waterways; and the list is sure to go on as we edge ever closer to an election, but note Harper's proposals always have a military theme. "Use it or lose it" is the soundbite our PM's likes to trot out.

To my way of thinking "use it" implies having people living there, rather than staging military parades on ice. But what is Canada's New Government® (that phrase is really starting to rankle after the past two years) doing to make it easier for people to live there?

The cost of living here is 2 to 3 times higher than in the south of Canada, but apart from a meager northern resident's deduction, we pay taxes proportionately much higher than southerners. And our elders and unemployed receive government assistance at exactly the same rate as someone in Toronto, with no indexation to reflect the cost of living differential.

So, Mr. Harper, if you want to really show Canada's colours on our frozen landscape, at least make it possible for us to live there. Otherwise, you are blowing smoke up our collective butts.

BTW, anyone wonder why George Bush has voiced no opposition to Canada's increased military presence in our Arctic?

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Yes, Humanity Will Survive

The BBC has reported the results of a preliminary study conducted among a remote tribe in Tanzania which observed that males with low voices tend to produce more children. The researchers have yet to figure out why, speculating that females may find husky male voices more attractive than falsettos, or perhaps baritones begin their reproductive years earlier than higher-voiced males.

I think there's some truth here, having fathered 5 children and possessing vocal chords which have been described as just a tad to the north of Barry White's.

I would like to point out that Freddie Mercury had no offspring, so the study must be true. But the important part of this research is that it gives us some degree of security in the knowledge that the world will not be infected by successive generations of James Blunts, Damien Rices and their testosterone-challenged ilk.

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Sunday, September 23, 2007

Hyperborean Hometown Blues


Friday, September 21, 2007

But the Dog Ate My Keyboard . . . Honestly!

A guilty look if I ever saw one. Should we delete him for this crime?