Thursday, May 08, 2014

An open letter to the CFIB and the Canadian people on boycotting or hating on the CFIB

My name is Tina Brooks. My husband and I own a small batch specialty co-pack business in Rigaud, Quebec and we are proud members of the CFIB.

I am writing this letter because Canada's labour federations, Press Progress and the Broadbent Institute are actively undermining the CFIB because they have at one time or another been on opposite sides of the fence from a position that the CFIB has represented on the part of its' membership.

Let me tell you about MY experience with the CFIB. When Brooks Pepperfire Foods opened our doors in 2003, we received a visit from our account rep who congratulated us on opening our business and asked if we were familiar with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. My first husband's company had been members, but I personally didn't know anything more than that about the organization.

She explained to me that the CFIB is a non-profit, non-partisan lobbying group who polls their membership in order to present their needs and demands to government. She explained that, because we are members, our points of view would gain access to government that we ourselves could not gain.

The organization also provided a network of small business owners in similar situations to the ones we were about to go through to garner information and support from, if we were so inclined. We have been offered, help and support in running our business and that has been invaluable.

I have an account online that I rarely if ever visit, but when I do, I find useful information for business owners. There is never a discussion of politics or what which political parties are doing unless there is an election. Then, the CFIB provides me with videos of each of the party leaders (all of them, even the backbenchers and independents) and interviews them on the topics they've polled the membership to ask.

Every spring, about this time, my local CFIB representative comes into my shop and spends at least an hour with me, going over what the CFIB is lobbying and has successfully lobbied over the last year, and then proceeds to walk me through a series of polls designed to glean my input as a small business owner. She has never discussed politics with me, although, that is one of my favourite things to discuss. She is very careful not to lead me when going through the poll with me, and she has never expressed any political opinions to me, ever.

Currently the head spokesperson and mouthpiece for the CFIB is a fellow named Dan Kelly. His job is to take the compiled results of these membership polls and to present them, not only to government, but to media as well. He is currently the target, it seems, because of a recent CBC interview discussing the Temporary Foreign Workers' Program currently in the news.

Recently, the Federal Government and several business owners across Canada got caught with their hands in the cookie jar. People and governments are like that. They like to cheat until they get caught. For me it's really annoying because the lessons life teaches are to be honest and tell the truth, but people and especially governments don't do that.

So suddenly, there we were with a few business owners, cheating on the TFWP and the insinuation is that the group cheating are members of the CFIB. So, when the Tory Government in it's crash and burn sort of tactic blankly shut down the Temporary Foreign Workers Program, upsetting an apple cart that had been in place since the 70s, small business owners who ARE members of the CFIB went to our lobby group to complain.

Well, I imagine that some of the TFWP's participants, less than 10% of the membership of the CFIB were suddenly upset because they had employees who were on this program who had been summarily cut off, regardless of whether they were legitimate users of the program or not.

But the ship had sailed. So, Dan Kelly, as is his job, expressed to the media that there was a blanket error being made by the Federal Government in cancelling this program access without individually determining whether the businesses using the TFWP were legitimate or not.

Then there came the media uproar.

Dan Kelly was interviewed by Evan Solomon at the CBC and all hell broke loose.

I invite you to watch that interview here:

Suddenly I was reading Facebook posts and Twitter feeds calling for the boycott of the CFIB membership. Interestingly, at the same time, someone lit upon Dan Kelly's comment that Canadians weren't exactly lining up for fast food service jobs or to clean hotel rooms.

The Canadian Labour Congress, an employee at the CRA and several other Labour groups were up in arms and claiming that the CFIB was biased, that the head of the CFIB had called Canadians "lazy" and that the entire membership of the organization were Tory stooges.

I was taken aback and more than a little surprised. I'm not one to join groups that are partisan or supportive of an anti-human platform. So I was suddenly required to take a really close look at the organization we had aligned with to see if they really were as horrible as people were saying they were.

I spent all morning digging and reading and digging some more. I went onto the CFIB membership website and I started reading and reading and reading. I went so far as to actually do two CFIB surveys, not because I particularly wanted my opinion known on either topic, but rather because I wanted to see if the questions were leading or partisan in any way.

I went browsing the internet to see WHO was talking about the CFIB and what they were saying.

I discovered several things.

1. Dan Kelly is the mouth piece for a non-partisan organization that expressly represents the interests of its' membership which it learns through unbiased non-partisan polling methods.

2. The biggest, most vocal detractors were of two ilk. Tory and Labour/NDP supporters. It seemed to me that I found no Liberal voices in the mix and in fact, discovered that the Liberals were liking the CFIB because the membership liked their stance vis-a-vis the 2013 Ontario Liberal Government's budget; iow, they supported it. So, if anyone might be accused of carrying the CFIB's bias, it might be the Liberals, but no. Supposedly the capitalist pig members of the CFIB are all Tory supporters who hate Canadians because they're all lazy.

3. Although many anti-Tory partisans were claiming that the CFIB is a Tory stooge or that it was a pro-Tory group, I found zero evidence of that. Instead what I did find were NDP and Labour supporters spouting talking points designed to denigrate the CFIB because they didn't support Ontario Labour's desire for business to increase their employment costs by creating private pension plans for their employees. I guess Labour doesn't really understand small business. Especially when we are well aware that pension plans are the business of government, not small businesses.

4. There is absolutely nothing anywhere that would lead any thinking person to believe that the CFIB is directly supporting ANY government faction, unless you listen to the spin of those who would have you believe that the CFIB is supportive of their measures, when only certain members of the organization in fact support those groups.

5. The CFIB goes to a great deal of trouble to amass the responses from the membership to set their platforms and they are extremely careful not only in wording those responses, but in lobbying those responses to Government on the membership's behalf.

6. Press Progress is an enormous mouthpiece fanning the flames of anti-employer sentiment. Only I was not sure why Press Progress would do such a thing... until I learned that they have a pro-labour agenda, funded by the Broadbent Institute.

Yet, I'm seeing bias alright. I'm seeing a pro-labour agenda alright and it's all coming from that one place and it's partisan.

NONE of them are coming from the CFIB. Oh, sure, Dan Kelly said that some employers were saying that Canadians aren't exactly lining up for their jobs. Press Progress decided that he'd said "Canadians are lazy". He didn't say that.

What a lot of people don't know is that those who use the TFWP must be qualified to benefit from the program by the Government of Canada. They must not only pay to bring the employee from his homeland to here, he must also pay for that employee's return. In addition to that, they are required to help the employee secure accommodations and subscribe these employees to the workman's compensation benefits programs. In addition to that, they must pay the worker the "industry average", which in ALL cases is at least minimum wage or above.

If indeed anyone, McDonald's franchisees included, were paying any foreign workers, under this program, less than minimum wage, a majority of CFIB members support throwing the book at them.

But Press Progress isn't talking about that.

It's always wonderful to hear people talking about what the CFIB said, but not once has anyone actually quoted what Dan Kelly did say. They have all implied that he said hurtful and hateful things that make the CFIB worthy of disbanding and worthy of a boycott of anyone who is a member.

At first, I thought it was just Labour, except that NDPers had picked up the ball. So, I asked my MP. He says it's not coming from them... so where is it coming from?

The Broadbent Institute and Press Progress. Nice spin if you can get it.

So, if you're planning on boycotting the CFIB or quitting the CFIB because they're supposedly biased or supporting the Tory agenda... take a slightly closer look at who you're boycotting.

I notice Press Progress conveniently ignored when the CFIB denounced the changes the Tories were bringing to the TFWP last July, but by January, the CFIB was to blame for supposedly supporting the program.

Interestingly, the CFIB has only ever reported what has come from their membership, without partisan spin. Unlike Press Progress who spins what they report.


Read enough of the picking and choosing that the spinners are doing and you'll very quickly discover that you've been spun.

And if, after reading this, you think I'm the one who has been spun, you just go right ahead and boycott all the members of the CFIB, my own business included. Because I've done my homework and seen where the "spin" and "lies" are coming from. Frankly, I'm a little more than embarrassed for the Broadbent Institute, their bias is obvious. I used to think they were less biased than the Fraser Institute. I was wrong. Sad that I was SO wrong. tsk tsk.

As a friend of mine on Twitter said recently; You believe what you like and I'll believe what I like. Personally, I'll believe the truth that is right in front of my eyes. If you see anything that even remotely shows that the CFIB is biased in any way, do let me know, because all of the bias I found was not theirs.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Azodicarbonamide... Yum!

Here ya go.

Azodicarbonamide... what is it?

Well, let's say I told you that it's in every single one of your Timbits and Subway buns and God only knows what else. There it is.

Is it bad for you?

Well, the EU says yes.

Canada, US and Korea consider it to be GRAS, as in Generally Recognized As Safe and suggest it's not bad for you.

IOW, it's allowed in food products, so long as it doesn't exceed recognized maximum levels. What is that maximum? 45 ppm.

The EU classifies it as Harmful. So it's not allowed in food products at all.

But Canada accepted it... how is that possible? Well, I explored that.

The GRAS in Canada was accepted based on studies done in 2004. So, it's safe, right?

Not so fast.

Unfortunately, THIS study was done while the Tories were running the Government. That means that science isn't of much import. So long as the corporations involved can make a ton of money, they're laughing.

So who isn't laughing?

Well you might not be when you learn that the scientists involved weren't happy with the sketchiness of the data they were given. It was done in the 50s. And the fact that 45 ppm is a lot tricky to calculate on any given batch of anything (Ask me about WHY we have to build a food lab?) Add to the sketchy data and the inability to determine with any kind of accuracy how much is actually in the bread and voila, you have a sketchy food ingredient GRAS approved for the Canadian market.

And do I have to remind you what Tories think of science?

That said is it safe.

Yeah probably. O_o Unless you're European.

So why is the European market so different?

Well, essentially, what it seems to come down to is "what is the ingredient" and "what are you using if for".

In industry, yes, it's part of rubber production. It's actually used in attaching that rubber gasket to food lids. THAT is where the max 45 ppm study applies.

They didn't study whether or not it was edible in burger buns, donuts or sub buns. They looked at the product used in food jar lids and whether or not THAT was dangerous.

So, what do we actually know about this GRAS ingredient as food? We know that it causes serious respiratory problems in the people who work with it. The use of it in the food jar gaskets allows that it has generally evaporated most of its problems BEFORE the lids go onto the jars, and even then, the amount that is ABLE to leech into the food is undetectable. Does that mean it's not there? No, it means their testing systems aren't sensitive enough to determine whether it's in there or not nor in what quantity. So, it's been given the GRAS in North America and Korea.

So, now that you see that there is really nothing wrong with this GRAS Food ingredient in teeny quantities, why is Subway pulling it from Canadian subway buns?

Well, apparently a loudmouthed blogger is the source. So, when Subway, Tim Horton's, Mickey D's, and KFC became front page news over said blogger's efforts, I assume they all started looking at the ingredient for damage control.

What did they learn? Probably what I learned.

It's probably harmless.


I'm in food production... sketchy food ingredients are not acceptable to me. If it's safe, I want to hear, it's definitely safe or it isn't safe, not "it's probably safe".

Well given that GRAS is up to 45 ppm, we needed to know how safe it is in the jars. We use glass jars and these lids have the ADA inthe gasket.

So... What did Health Canada learn? They tested the food products and discovered that the traces were actually below 25 parts per BILLION.

So, in the jars, they're essentially safe. In the food, well, that comes down to how much of it do you eat; because it adds up.

Apparently the Environmental Working Group (the organization that tracks pesticides and chemicals in produce, ie the Dirty Dozen), has called for the FDA to ban the use of it in bread products.

Here's the bad news. Studies that were done that found nearly double the amount of allowable ADA was in bread products. Why? Because in Canada, the ingredient is NOT REQUIRED to be listed on the label.

Interestingly when called on it, Health Canada responded that a thorough safety assessment had been done on the product PRIOR to it's approval in 1964.

Let me say that again...


The studies in the FDA's toxicology database are all unpublished studies dated 1959.

So, the scientist's response is that any decision made in the 60s on data from the 50s needs to be reviewed. The simple fact that it has been used for over 50 years doesn't mean it's safe. We learned that lesson from many a harmful product that has now wisely been banned from food.

In fact, the ADA's potentially cancer-causing-by-products, semicarbazide and urethane which are created during the baking process were only discovered ten years ago. That's when the bread comes into play.

Is it safe in the bread?

Well, in Europe, you're not allowed to put it into food and it is not allowed to be used specifically on baby food jars, because THEIR jury is still out. You can use it on regular jars, because 25 ppB isn't significant.

My jury is still out. So, I'm going to err to the side of caution.

If it's on the jar lid, chances are I'm safe. If it's in the food, I'm not eating it.

You decide how YOU want to proceed.

The EU results:

See, all that sensass to get your attention long enough to read this diatribe was worth it.

Will you be having a Big Mac today? Timbits?

Both KFC and Subway have taken my stance of erring to the side of caution. Tim Horton's and Mickey D's? Not so much.

Bon appetit!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Ian Anderson and the red hot chilli peppers. Literally.

When I first heard Ian Anderson play his flute, it was on the local rock station and he was lead singing for Jethro Tull.

I fell in love with the rock and roll flute. So much so that when my kids came home from school with instructions to buy them flutes, I imagined my kids would grow up to be famous rock flautists.

It was a dream that didn't last long.
Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull -- Telegraph Article

The flute isn't the most common rock and roll instrument, in fact, it not as rare as you might think.

Jethro Tull's use of the flute is possibly the most well known, but Genesis, the Troggs, Mannfred Mann and the Moody Blues also had flautists.

Ian Anderson isn't playing his flute professoinally anymore, he's retired to a life of relaxation with his wife that includes gardening in England.

Interestingly, that gardening includes chilli peppers, a love gifted to him by drummer Ritchie Dharma.

Read about Ian Anderson's garden and love for chillies by Mark Diacono in the Telegraph:

Look for Ian's Peach Salsa Recipe. We'll translate it using Peppermaster Sauces soon.

Enjoy this video of Ian Anderson and Jethro Tull playing Bourée.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Date Night with an Aspie

Date night with an Aspie

So, we went out to the Keg last night for date night. Anyway, we sat in the bar, had a couple of hors d'oeuvres and a couple of drinks while watching the hockey game. (Habs lost but clinched the playoff spot anyway).

So, served with the calimari, which was very nice and riddled with the most nummy tempura'd peppers, were two sauces: One, a sweet chili sauce and the other, a teriayaki sauce; think "soy sauce and garlic". Anyway, I can't stomach such Sweet Chili sauces, the combination of high fructose corn syrup, xanthan gum and chemicals is just too much. So, I dipped the calimari in the teriyaki sauce, even though I knew by the texture that it contained the HFCS.

This morning, I dealt with the high fructose corn syrup. I hate mornings.

Being #autistic usually isn't a big deal, because we're careful not to have things in my diet that will make me ill. When I do eat out, there is always a risk.

Now I know why the Keg doesn't qualify as "fine dining" even though they charge "fine dining" prices.

Beyond the HFCS in the dipping sauce, though, the food was great, the company rocked and if we'd won the hockey game, it'd have been a PERFECT date night.

#AspieProblems #AutismAwareness #Aspergers

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Tarot - Oracle Cards Review 1 - Hazelmoon Hawaiian Tarot - Katalin E. Csikos

A little while ago, Katalin E. Csikos posted to one of my Facebook Tarot groups that she was willing to give a copy of her tarot cards to readers in exchange for a review of her deck; HazelMoon's Hawaiian Tarot.

The deck is printed by Artful Dragon Press and had the distinction of being used in an episode of CBS' Hawaii Five-O, Season Three, Episode 304 - "Popilikia" which aired Monday, October 15, 2012.

Well, as you know, I tend to do my tarot readings, education, practice if you will during what I call swamp days.

Today is a swamp day.

Today I'm going to wade into my tarot practice via HazelMoon's Hawaiian Tarot.

My first remark on the deck as I remove it from the box is that it is well printed, on good solid card stock. It is very shiny finished, so it suggests that the deck will shuffle well, not stick and hopefully hold up longer.

They're far rather wider than one expects from this type of deck. It sort of feels like a short, Thoth. or a Fat RWS.

The cards themselves are interesting and my first thought is that borderectomies exist for good reason.

The borders of these cards have a very cool hieroglyph contained within. Some readers will learn the meanings of these hieroglyphs and incorporate them within their readings, others will utterly ignore them. Trimmers will have these very obtrusive borders removed within the week.

The cards themselves are absolutely beautiful examples of Hawaiian folk art that is stunning. Of course, it must be said that I'm a huge fan of native art works, so I'm partial to this sort of thing.

So, I like the cards, they're really cool and they're beautiful folk paintings. BUT, the question is...

Can they read well enough to be someone's go-to oracle?

And today, I need to answer that question. (The following was posted to my Facebook Page, so don't answer looking for a reading, they've already been done!).

I need your help.

If you would like to be a guinea pig for this deck, I am now offering three quick five card readings.

And I give no guarantee of the validity of the readings until after I can actually read them or not...

So... If you wish to be one of these three... Speak now or don't.

ONLY the first three will get a reading. So don't even bother posting after that. (I'll be in a swamp all afternoon.)

So, there was as usual a mad scramble to be on of those chosen for the readings, and for those of you learning tarot, here they are...

XX Judgement, V The Hierophant, IX Nine of Lava Stones.
The Voice is calling to you, are you listening, Chris? Stop thinking about things and doing nothing. Grab the bull by the horns, there is a light at the end of the tunnel... Just go into it. Behind your greatest fear is your greatest treasure.

Boy of Swords, Three of Swords, Five of Swords
The boy is happy. He's just come in from a great day of surfing. The waves have died and now its time to go home and relax. But heartache and gossip are going to affect him. He is about to be embroiled in lots of chaos.

Four of lava stones, three of lava stones, two of swords.
The tide has changed and the situation is deteriorating. The longer you allow it to continue without going with the change, the worse it will get. The time has come for you to make the sensible choice to accept the truth and move forward finally.

In private conversations with each of the sitters, I discovered that the cards spoke very much to them and that the cards were very useful at allowing me to read my intuition into their situation. Which is the point of every good oracle.

The Hazelmoon's Hawaiian Tarot will not become my goto Tarot deck, but if someone chooses it from my decks for their reading, they will be most happy with the outcome.

Oh, and did I tell you how much I love the paintings??!!

If you are interested in getting your own copy of the Hazelmoon, you can get them from the About us link on Katalin's website or from my favourite cardsellers at Tarot Garden. Tell 'em I sent you.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Focusing on the challenges in another who we love deeply rather than on the love we feel for them, keeps you from truly enjoying the give and take that a relationship brings.

When you recognize a fear response in your partner; he's afraid of losing face, as a good example. See that response for what it is, and respond with sympathy for their human distress over the situation.

His fear and his pain does not need to be yours, nor do you need to take it on.

If speaking your truth is going to cause difficulty, then you must do so knowing the pain will be created, choosing when to do so, with discernment.

When you realize that you have created pain in your love, the only way to keep from pulling the pain back in is to transform it from pain back to love again. Pity, sympathy, whatever emotion feels best to suit the situation.

It takes practice, but you do not have to own how people react to your actions. Being one with yourself does not mean that you will not have conflict. It simply means that you will have a place where you can find peace while all hell about you is breaking loose.

Meditate. Your spirit will show you the way to peace. -- Melody

Friday, March 08, 2013

In honour of International Women's Day, March 8, 2013.

I'm blessed. Being born in Canada, I am recognized as equal to men in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. I have legal recourse in the event that someone trods on my rights.

To whit; it reads:

15. (1) Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.

Today is International Women's Day. Last year, women in the Middle East had their privileges whittled away by the Muslim Brotherhood, Indian women and girls continue to be tortured and raped without legal protection, and American women continue to go unmentioned and unprotected in their constitution. I find it surprising that many American gun enthusiasts, including women are threatening to hold a major revolution over their right to own a tool of killing, yet those women are still not equal in the eyes of the law. That this fact doesn't seem to scathe them, befuddles me.

Contrary to popular belief the Women's Rights' amendment long fought, continues to not yet be a reality. That is sad, at best. Although, in 1977, the UN adopted a resolution proclaiming today the day to be observed for Women's Rights and International Peace; said date which had already been being celebrated by American women for the two previous years. By now, there should be change?

This year's Women's Day theme is "A promise is a promise: Time for action to end violence against women." It seems unfortunate to me that in 2013, UN Women, CEDAW, Amnesty International and other rights groups continue to strive to have equality and protections for all women.

It's not easy watching the way that women get treated in this world on a day to day basis. It is different, if you're a man, I suppose. Little girls get shot in the face for daring to go to school, women are raped, daily, while citizens turn a blind eye or worse male passersby will jump in and participate in public gang-bangs. Women's rights are erased from existence with the twist of a pen in Egypt. It is bittersweet that yet I enjoy a freedom that other women can only dream about all at a time when "one woman" is celebrated as being the face of true freedom and equality... just it's not for women's equality, it's for someone else; albeit a very important "someone else".

Because we live in North America, we are living in a world that lies to women on a daily basis. YOU ARE EQUAL, they tell us. Women have rights too. Well, here in Canada that is certainly true, but my US friends have no such guarantees. Even though Susan B. Anthony fought so hard as she did, and even though NOW, the National Organization for Women continues to put the women's rights amendement on every ballot until the bill is passed and ratified into law! Yet, 75% of Americans believe that the law was passed. I found it interesting that President Obama ran on a women's rights platform that has been virtually unheard of since taking office. Just this last month, he honoured a woman who has changed America and the World by refusing to go to the back of the bus. She didn't stand up and do what she did because she was a woman, she did it because she was black and there was no justifiable reason for her to be a second class citizen as a person of colour, yet, sadly, were she alive today, Rosa Parks who could sit on the bus, would still not be protected by her own nation as a woman.

Rosa Parks
Perhaps it means not much, being the privileged woman I am, living here in the Great White North. Seriously, though; what does it mean to ME to be equal in the eyes of the law? Well, it means that I am respected by the males of my nation as a human being, and THIS, whether THEY like it or not.

Over 600 million women live in countries where domestic violence is not a crime. Nearly 70% of the world's women have experienced violence against them both physical and sexual and over 60 million girls worldwide are forced into marriage before the age of 18. Worse, fully half of all the sexual assaults the world over happen to girls under the age of 16!

My daughter and step-daughter are adults now, but still, were they to leave Canada to go to certain nations, they'd instantly become second class citizens. Scary that one of those nations is the United States.

This isn't the kind of world where I thought I was being raised. It hurts to think that women have no legal recourse for even so much as asking to be treated as a human being! And this fully 30 years after women were written into the Canadian Constitution.

This year, lets find a way. Let's work together to bring an end to violence against women, and lets wake the world up start by getting women's rights ratified into law EVERYWHERE. Enough is enough.

Rosa Parks is one woman who stood up for equality. She is regularly heralded for her work in furthering the rights of all men, yet she was also a strong supporter of the women's rights movement and she lived in a nation where one woman CAN be heralded as having changed the world; but who is still not equal in the law of the land. I think it's time to change that.

In 1848, Elizabeth Cady Stanton along with Lucretia Mott, penned the now famous Declaration of Sentiments. Would that one day, all North American women can enjoy equality. Their words marked a cornerstone that has come to be known as the women's suffragist movement and was instrumental in women in many countries, including Canada, being given the right to vote in the early 1900s.

There is a statue of the valiant five I had the honour of seeing while in Calgary in 2012.

The Valiant Five;

Canadian women owe their equality to these five. I look forward one day to celebrating the similar equality of all women.

They were five women in one nation who succeeded. This is one world, we are one people; we are one woman and together, we can make equality a reality.

In the immortal words of Human Rights Activist and Comedian, Dick Gregory;
Never before in the history of this planet has anybody made the progress that African-Americans have made in a 30-year period, in spite of many black folks and white folks lying to one another.