Sue your developer

This is not a blog. So sue me!

Crikey, things are looking up!

Friday, March 21, 2014

On-line course platforms (MOOCs)

Here, as promised, is a series of links to on-line course platforms or MOOCs (Massive open on-line courses). Each has a search capability so that you can find things you like. I am doing a variety of courses for entertainment (I don't watch TV)!

The following group are not for profit and allow free enrollment. (You may need to make a payment for a university or high school equivalency certificate.) Generally each course starts on a particular date and you are encouraged to keep up with the class by viewing the lectures and doing the course work each week.

Future Learn - Mostly British-based universities.

EDX - another group of well-known universities, I have signed up for the "Science of Everyday Thinking" course, a fairly lightweight psychology course. Previously I have completed "Introduction to Biology (The Meaning of Life!)" and "Our Energetic Earth". The latter, from University of Toronto, was interesting but lightweight, with a talking head lecturer plus slides and some recommended texts. The former was the wonderful Generitcs, Biochemistry and Genomics course I mentioned. Live lectures and a gifted lecturer. Fantastic software tools in the homework (as you'd expect from MIT, I suppose).

Khan Academy has mostly pre-university courses, but they seem to be conducted in a very approachable way. Emphasis on mathematics. Self paced. I have viewed a biology and world history course accessed through this portal and it's a lot of fun! Also on YouTube: Crash Course Biology. Videos with a quirky approach that would appeal to teenagers, I think.

Academic Earth have pre-recorded mostly university lectures. I have just started one called Oceanography, which is recorded from the back of a darkened lecture hall with a computer-generated slides projected on a screen. It's just like being there, sometimes out of focus and all :-) I'm glad I didn't pay for that university course, but perhaps it will pick up.

Iversity is a German-based MOOC but they have a number of what appear to be good courses in English. I vill let you know vhat I zink of zem :-) has a set of on-line courses that are contributed by experts and seem to consist mostly of self-paced directed readings of on-line materials with occasional viewing of videos. This is more of a traditional approach to a "correspondence course". It probably works well for people who like reading.

The following is a for-profit company but they allow you to do the courses for free and give you a certificate with an extra payment for "validation" i.e. university-equivalence. So basically the same results as far as the user is concerned.

Coursera - a large set of international universities, pick a filter on the left-hand side. I did two Useful Genetics from University of British Columbia recently which were good. Talking head (smart older woman lecturer with slides) lectures. I am also in the middle of a Roman Architecture course from Yale, which is very good.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Notes from Cornwall Hospital pre-hip replacement information session

2 hour session, March 2014

Primary speaker: Hospital Physiotherapist (1 hour)
Hospital Dietician (half hour)
Hospital Pharmacist (half hour)


 Check your home for home hazards: Electrical cords, loose carpets etc. Make sure you have an entrance handrail. Sufficient lighting (e.g. night lights).

There is a questionnaire to answer which will assess the hazards in your home.

3 rules for 3 months

You can expect to have a 3 month long recovery period, although individuals vary. During this time there are 3 important rules:

1. NO BENDING FROM THE HIP more than 90°. When getting in a car, go in backwards with the seat pushed right back and inclined back. Lean back to swing in your legs.

2. DON'T CROSS THE AFFECTED LEG over the mid-line of your body. don't cross legs or ankles.

3. DON'T TWIST the torso. To look behind, turn around a little at a time.

You should expect to sleep with a pillow between your knees.

What to bring to the hospital

Bring one change of clothes in addition to what you are wearing. Have loose fitting pants (e.g. track pants). If you bring a gown it should not be more than knee length. Bring all the toiletries that you need, and label them with your name. If you have a cane, bring it, but label it with your name and phone number. You may get moved from room to room so things can get lost!

At the hospital 

On your surgery day, arrive at the admissions department. You are already registered. You will be given a pre-operative assessment and some drugs (injections).You will most likely be having an epidural (spinal) anesthetic with a sedative so you don't need to be awake.

The operation takes 2-3 hours to replace the ball and socket in your hip.

You will then be put in the recovery room. After you have recovered you will be taken to a regular room. Visiting hours are 11am - 1pm and 4pm - 8pm.

You will be helped to get up and walk on your surgery day. You will get some exercises to do.

Pain management is important. You will have pain from the incision although your present hip pain will  be gone. You will be on self-administered intravenous morphine.

When you get home

You need to be able to sit in a high chair, with high back and arms, and your hips higher than your knees. No soft couch.

You will need a cane or a walker and appliances like a grabber/reacher and a sock aid.

When dressing in pants, put on your operated leg first then your good leg. When undressing, take off the good leg first then the operated leg.

A large can wrapped in a towel is to be used for exercises. Ankle weights can be made or bought.

You will need a raised toilet seat, preferably with hand rails.

You will be on blood thinners for 4 weeks and you cannot drive for 6 weeks.


 Make sure you eat properly! You need to heal and keep strong.

Protein with every meal.
Whole grains. Vegetables, fruit, milk, yoghurt.

Canada's Food Guide.


Get a list of all your medications from your pharmacist. Make a list of all the non-prescription drugs that you are using.

Report any allergies on registration/admission.

You will be given pain killers (opiates) with a laxative to help prevent constipation.

Anti-inflammatory (probably Celebrex, Advil etc.)

Antibiotics before the operation and for 1 day after. Only get more antibiotics if you develop an infection.

You will have anticoagulants to prevent blood clots for 28-35 days. Either an injectable or a pill.

You may need anti-nausea pills (Gravol)

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Essay for biology course

This essay was written for the MIT MOOC course, Introduction to Biology: The Meaning of Life.

About the course: The course is, in summary, fucking brilliant!

If you take it just to understand a little about genetics it’s worthwhile. They bring the whole of biology, genetics, biochemistry and genomics alive! It's 14 weeks of about 3-4 hours a week but it could change your view of the world.

Students are in for an incredible ride describing 150 years of science* which is explained in pretty simple terms. There are real world examples and the compelling stories that are really necessary for ordinary people like me to really grok the material.

The videos of classroom lectures are with real students (some of whom are real, shut up that girl!) and with Professor Stephen Lander who is my new science pin up! 

Not only a scientist with a brilliant career (Humane Genome Project) but a great lecturer. He’s right up there in the great tradition of fine American science communicators along with Richard Feynman and Carl Sagan, in my humble opinion.

The software modelling tools embedded in the webpages used for the courseworks are absolutely stunning. Looking into the heart of complex proteins, thinking about what all that wet stuff inside us is doing...realizing that there is order and simplicity underlying complexity...and that mutation and change is built right in as a mechanism that allows evolution and the adaptation of organisms. Looking at the science behind all this, I can see why scientists get so exasperated by creationists I mean, you can argue about the existence of invisible beings, but the biochemistry of life proves evolution by adaptation through constant mutation. This is probably the best course I have ever “attended” in my fairly long life...

So here's my essay after Landers discussed his role in advising the US Supreme Court in the case** where a company had patented the genes for breast cancer:

In my opinion, the US Patent Office has, for many years, awarded patents for things that they shouldn't have. This includes genes, which to me are obviously discoveries of existing natural features; ("Farewell dear, I'm off to patent the South Pole!")

Silly enough, if the BRCA patent were strictly applied, a person carrying these genes may not have sexual relations or have a child that carries the gene! That could be copying the DNA sequences at issue, surely?

I am very glad that someone as sensible and well-informed as Prof. Lander was able to contribute rational input to the legislative debate. If the Patent Office had been doing its job properly, it would have saved everyone a lot of time, trouble and expense! Basic research discoveries shouldn't be intellectual property.

The people who funded Myriad's work on finding those 15 base pairs for BRCA were part of a "gold rush" phenomenon. They knew they were were taking a gamble and that they could have their patent invalidated. This and other genes were known to exist - even if the exact sequences weren't. Someone else would have found them shortly thereafter.

This kind of work really belongs in the realm of publicly-funded research in universities, hospitals etc. It's expensive, difficult, and quite often goes nowhere. The incentives for cleverness in these fields are, publication, peer recognition, public recognition and gratitude, exciting moderately well-paying jobs with tenure, the satisfaction of contributing to human knowledge, cures for diseases, and, in extreme cases, awards like the Nobel Prize.

Using government funding for basic research and then allowing private companies to do the commercial development of technologies, devices, and drug therapies appears to be more rational. It's not a simple question as to where the line is drawn, though.

Prof. Lander's cited example, where a friend of his didn't start to start a commercial  company to build a test for inherited eye cancer because of the many patents surrounding these genes, is, to me, proof of the failure of the patenting system in the US.

The system as it stands has damaged commercial interests - that person could have build a for-profit business where none existed - and the interests of the public who perhaps didn't get a better or cheaper test for a genetic disorder. It could be argued that he should have bought or licensed all the applicable patents, but mostly these are not available. They are being used for obscure purposes of squatting on intellectual property and excessive rent-seeking.

If the decision is made to uphold gene patents, other countries' R&D will continue and US research institutions, arguably the finest in the world, could be subject to unfortunate restrictions.

The US government is presently attempting to coerce other countries to accept US rules on intellectual property through bi- and multi-lateral trade deals, but this is not necessarily going to be successful.
The US Patent Office has done a disservice to US industry, research, the public and intellectual property holders as a whole by lending a disreputable air to the whole business of patenting.

It's patently obvious what Einstein** would have made of this!

* Science!!

** Myriad lost their case to patent genes in a 9-0 decision in June 2013.

*** Einstein worked in a patent office when he was younger, I believe. Although Einstein is quoted as having said that "God doesn't play dice with the world" - this course has made me realize that indeed, He isn't playing dice, He's been playing a massively multi-player lottery!
Note: This is a feeble attempt at a joke; I don't believe in invisible deities; don't get me started...

Cheap mildew killer recipes

Mildew is a mold (mould for you Canadians and Brits). It has a distinctive black stain that grows on moist surfaces, especially in warm conditions, but it doesn't mind a bit of cold it just grows more slowly. It has a distinctive unpleasant smell which is very hard to get out of fabrics or paper products. There are other fungus types that will grow in slightly less moist conditions especially on household dust particles that have accumulated. I hate to say it, but our grandmothers were right. Dusting is a good thing...sigh. I think I have too much stuff ;-)

The best formula is the mildew killer “cleaning soda” so beloved of our foremothers.  (It is now marketed as Concrobium if you want to spend a lot of money on it. That product does come in a nice spray bottle, though.)

Practical Sailor magazine* recently did a test of anti-mildew sprays and this cleaning soda was the best formula that you can currently get. The cleaning borax solution came pretty close and was slightly cheaper ($0.39 as opposed to $0.49 per quart!) Bleach also works to kill mildew (and will help with stains) but it’s nasty and doesn’t last long to stop re-infestation.

Best solution is to get rid of the damp conditions that mould likes. If you can’t, use the cleaning soda solution to spray the area that is mildewed. Let it dry and leave it alone. Check every few months and reapply if the problem reoccurs. Apply at yearly intervals if you can remember. It does work even if the area is always wet.

Cleaning soda - best results, kills mildew and prevents re-infestation.
Alkaline. Use in spray or wipe on with a cloth. Safe in use, although I wouldn't drink it.
When dry this leaves a harmless, white, powdery residue especially on dark items. Later you may think this is mildew. Don’t worry, it probably isn’t. Brush or wipe it off if you need to.

in 1 quart (2 litres) hot water dissolve:
  • 1 tbsp (15 ml) baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)
  • 2 tbsp (30 ml) washing soda (sodium carbonate)
  • 2 tbsp (30 ml) TSP (trisodium phosphate)

These other recipes are given in case you don’t have the ingredients above:

Cleaning borax - pretty good, kills mildew and prevents re-infestation.
Somewhat toxic, if you breathe borax or spray.
Alkaline. Use in spray or cloth. I'd use rubber gloves. Avoid breathing spray.

in 1 quart (2 litres)  hot water dissolve:
  • 2 tbsp (30 ml) baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)
  • 2 tbsp (30 ml) Borax (sodium tetraborate)
  • 1 tbsp (15 ml) TSP (trisodium phosphate)

Bleach - removes mildew stains somewhat and kills mildew. Only short-lived protection (the chlorine evaporates), it's a bit unpleasant to use, toxic. However you can get it everywhere.
Alkaline. Use in spray or cloth. Use rubber gloves. Avoid breathing spray.
Can discolour fabrics and soft materials.

In one quart (2 litres) hot water mix in :
4 oz. (200 ml) of 3% bleach (sodium hypochlorite)

* Practical Sailor magazine November 2013. (They should know; boats always have damp and often have mildew problems).

Sunday, May 26, 2013


The apparently trivial issue of dandelions has rent our community once again. Every Spring, the advent of these cheerful yellow flowers brings forth the best, and worst, in our fellows.

In my opinion, gardening is an exercise in humility. Spring comes, hope blooms and one rushes to dig and sow, hoe and weed. Many plants are honest and just die straight away, some grow well, some pretend to grow but languish until they finally expire with a defeated is a matter of allowing Nature to have her way, while still getting some reward, of beauty or something to eat.

That said, the most useless struggle, is the one against dandelions. While these do have some utility in that the leaves, rootas and flowers can be eaten, it is not common to find anyone who admits to liking them. I did once make wine with dandelion flowers at the suggestion of a winemaking book. The result was truly horrible. It had a flavour similar to some unpleasant medicine that I was doctored with as a child. I couldn't drink it. I eventually gave the whole gallon to a student friend because he claimed to like it. Strangely enough, he stopped coming to classes shortly after and we lost touch with him. I doubt if the wine was responsible for his dropping out, but I suspect that it was involved. Living with dandelions is not that hard. Leave them in the lawn and remove them from the vegetable garden and flower beds is my compromise.

Dandelions are one of the free riders upon human behaviour. There are many of these, birds like starlings, pigeons and sparrows, rodents like mice and rats. If people are the mechanism that grass uses to spread its genes to every continent (with the present exception of Antarctica), dandelions are inevitably carried with them. We give dandelions the best environment to live in - a lovely sunny lawn with gaps between the grass leaves into which a dandelion seed is evolved to parachute. If we really wanted to eliminate them, we should stop planting lawns at all. Lawns containing only one species are a doomed artifact of our obsession with controlling Nature. A monoculture that needs to be constantly patrolled and chemically treated for the invasion of dandelions and other plants and animals. The waste of resources is enormous.

My own lawn is a happy mess. To lie on my lawn is a pleasure today, surrounded by dandelion, violet, strawberry, and ground ivy flowers. The bees and other insects like them as well. In a few weekks the clover and ranunculus will bloom and then the whole garden will be abuzz. I have no problems with animals "ruining the lawn". If any plant can survive the weekly mowing except ragweed and poison ivy it is welcome to live in my lawn. The dandelions seem to do very well for the month of May and then retire. Other plants start to take over. It is a small ecology, showing competition and co-operation.

I think my neighbour hates me. The elderly man whose house backs onto mine has a Lawn Order kind of lawn. Regular mowing, weed'n'feed, watering, aerating, rollering and eliminating the inevitable dandelions with chemical weapons. One Spring he sneaked ten feet over the boundary to spray the dandelions in my lawn with herbicide. I suppose he thought that their spiral death agony over the next few weeks was invisible. I eat food grown right where he sprayed and even if it says that it is safe on the bottle, it's still poison. His later attempt to stop the dandelion encroachment by erecting a fence was pathetic. I don't think that chainlink will stop them, even if it has barbed wire along the top!

And thus the little irritations between neighbours continue. I like to have blank floors and flowers in my lawn. As long as it is sort of green and sort of level it's a happy place. You may like to have flowers on your carpets and a clean lawn. Congratulations! You have a hobby that will keep you occupied for life while struggling against the inevitable! The dandelion legions are on the move and they are coming for you!

Friday, May 17, 2013

News from Loon County - May 2013

Hi again D,

For a number of reasons we haven't yet made it for a visit to your place! Aargh...where does the time go?
We will definitely try to get up there next week, perhaps Wednesday or Friday.

My mother has had a chest infection which has used up a lot of my time and resulted in a trip to the Winchester Hospital emergency room, a lot of pills and inhalers (with varying results), doctors visits, and many trips to the pharmacy. She's getting better now, but for a while I thought she was going nuts - she started getting angry and abusive, thought she was dying and didn't sleep for 3 days. It now seems like this was in reaction to taking prednisone - I think the emergency doctor could have warned us! Mind you, knowing of your struggles with that drug, I might have questioned him giving it to an 83-year old woman...but after waiting 3 hours in the hospital I had just gone to the cafeteria to get her the inevitable cup of tea and missed the 60-second consultation. Sigh. I'm not complaining, I think 3 hours wait on Mother's Day is quite good...I just wished I wasn't there!

After the first antibiotic didn't work, her own doctor gave her a stronger one, along with a admonition to come in to the surgery more often - someone with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) should be monitored more closely. This is the first my mother appears to have heard of it. She never smoked, but my father was a chain smoker. Then it appears that the pharmacist had previously told her she wasn't using enough of one of her inhalers (should be every day) and she had been "saving it for when she's sick" which was precisely not the point of it. So, the system works, but the patient must be paying attention and perhaps interrogated to make sure they understand! After we got home, we made a daily schedule of pills, inhalers, mouthwashes, meals etc because she almost needs a smartphone app to integrate it all. Stuff that can't be with food, stuff that must be with food, stuff that interacts with dairy, stuff that can cause yeast infections and on and on. Hopefully now she's aware, we can manage better in future.  She is also on a regime of immuno-suppressants for her arthritis, so this isn't trivial.

I still think that the potential for mistakes and abuses of the medical system could be mostly fixed by proper data management thoughout. A text message to say take the red pill now sort of thing. When most people are sick they're not really capable of listening to the medical professional much less create a plan for medications...oh well. That's my "belief in Progress" talking...!

In other news, the chronic behind-with-the-house-and-gardening-chores guilt sensation has started again. I did manage to mow the lawn and hoe a few vegetable beds, and some of my seedlings are going out in hanging baskets etc. However, I have decided that I'll just grow peas, beans (3 varieties), broccoli, leeks, shallots and green onions). It didn't seem like much when I bought the seeds...those damn seed catalogues!

Work on the boat has been slow, while the weather was so cold. However, some things are coming together. I finished a new coat of varnish on the wood on the outside of the boat, and I am starting to do all the inside. This is going to take some time as there are about 15 wooden cupboards, but the results complete are wonderful! The interior has a lot of solid teak, which was not expensive back in the '70's unfortunately it was finished with teak oil, which goes all gluey over time and holds the dirt. The only good thing is that it comes off fairly easily. Some turkey did varnish about a third of the interior but did a terrible job, so that has to come off. I have been playing with incredibly expensive paint strippers and finally found one that (a) works quickly and in any temperature (b) doesn't dry up immediately and (c) will not poison me, as I need to use it inside the boat. I started with the normal expensive boating stuff ($100 a gallon) from the nice, smiling fellow at the Chandlery, but it didn't really do a good job. It claimed not to contain methyl chloride, (which is effective, but is highly toxic) but the smell of acetone was appalling. I am taking half a gallon of it to the hazardous waste dump tomorrow. I can't use it inside the boat, it's just nasty.

Anyway, so the next stop was Lee Valley, also a merry purveyor of expensive stuff for people with too much money and no sense of proportion ($30 garlic crusher, anyone?) They sell a paint stripper called Greensolv - of which I was suspicious, because of the "green" epithet. Greenwashing chemical products is big business. (But Leonard Lee says it is wonderful!) However, for $25 a litre (same price as the other) the stuff is effective, gives off few fumes and is, indeed, green in colour. I was told that I can paint it on, cover it with Saran wrap and it will get through multiple layers of paint of varnish. It does that. Even better, you don't have to scrape a jellified layer off, you can use water and a brush or rags. Hooray!

I am also repairing a coxed-four rowing shell that was run over some rocks last fall. There was a 10-foot split in the hull which is only made of two layers of glass fibre and glue.  (Luckily it wasn't one of the wooden boats, that would have to be written off with such damage.) The crew were sitting in water up to their bums by the time they got back to the dock! The cox who was driving it was white with fear - I think she thought she would be keel hauled or's been quite a process - patching it up. Fortunately I mended my own rowing shell last year so I know what to do. It has taken about 15 hours so far from a couple of us, but we're onto the final paint coats now. That is made more complex because it it our "cow boat" S-Moo-th Waters sponsored by the Dundas county dairy producers. (I think the father of one of our former members was a dairy farmer and got them to buy the paint). Anyway, it is a white hull with black Holstein-type splotches on it and causes excitement where ever we take it, so it has to be done. So it is 2 coats of white, then two coats of black on the patches - I just hope they are still visible at that point! More marine paint...! The Chandlery guys know me by name...

The rowing club is starting the Learn-to-Row course again next week, two evenings a week for 4 weeks. It is one of our most reliable fund-raising opportunities we get nearly $1500 from it and if we are lucky we get new members to join next year. We almost always have to turn people away. Strangely the club membership is always around 25-30 people, each year a few come and a few go.

We have built a new concrete foundation for the rowing dock and extended it so we can get more boats alongside and this year we have the brand new coxed four which we hope will win us some regattas. I'm not bothered myself, but there are a lot of people who are really driven to compete. I just want that "Participant" ribbon and the ability to keep on rowing.

The writers' group I mentioned last time is still going strong. Subjects have been "Music", "Pet Peeves" and "Morning Meditation". This latter topic was suggested by one of our number who is, shall we say, a believer in the invisible fairy government that runs things ineffibly in mysterious ways or something like that. She also has a huge and very obvious ego whilst presenting a prim and proper demeanour - the usual church-going annoyance. Our host, had been to the emergency room at Winchester hospital for a badly infected foot. Because he is a paraplegic he has no sensation, it can get very serious. The lady in question insisted that he should be wearing magnetic insoles in his shoes (that are purely decorative) and that this "therapy" would fix him right up. I, of course, rose to the bait and announced loudly that this advice was bogus and magnets were woo etc. Fortunately our host changed the subject before we came to blows!

"Morning Meditation" provoked some impressive free-association streams of consciousness. Apparently we are all seething masses of fury and resentment; mostly at cats.

I got to choose the next topic for writing, and I decided on Dandelions. As the subject came up in conversation between the Weed Slackers and the Lawn Fascists during the meeting, I thought Dandelions might prove an interesting subject. I had briefly considered "War", "Peace", "Religion", "Gun Control" or "Syria" or another such subject of trivial import. However it is obvious that people all feel strongly on one side of the Lawn Order issue and that the rest of you are irresponsible and Just Don't Get It™. Be warned, we are all nice and friendly now, even prepared to take tea together. At the end of the next session we will probably be unable to tolerate being under the same roof...

However, I was shocked to then receive an email from the Morning Meditations person trying to shut me up, saying that "even one doubter" might cause the gentleman to shy away from her idea. He is well-educated and, I am sure, reluctant to be the subject of unwanted and patronizing advice. Needless to say the email exchange after this, was, very interesting. I am not going to be told to shut up by anyone I know to be wrong. Crikey, magnets! In your shoes! To heal you! If you believe!

It's funny about these pseudo-scientific things. People never talk about the dose, or the possibility that if the therapy is indeed active, that it may also be harmful. I mean, what happens if you wear your magnetic insoles upside-down? There is like the movement a few years ago when a bunch of people got anxiety attacks about living near power lines, or Our Children in School! Under Hydro Towers! Now it seem to be wind farms. No-one yet seems to recognize the Menace of Magnets in Our Shoes. I am probably being churlish but I think these people deserve ruthless mockery. Although there was a British psych-doctor on the radio who made me feel a bit unkind, when he said that although wind farms (or insert your unreasoning fear here) were not actually harmful in themselves, they are harmful to people who have convinced themselves that they are being harmed. He called it the nocebo effect, contrary to the placebo effect, I guess. He also said that people who have these beliefs, hold them very sincerely but almost inevitably drop them only to pick up another anxiety and that they can experience many very unpleasant physical symptoms. People are insanely complicated, or perhaps complicatedly insane, or even simply insane. Perhaps us sane people should be locked up in protective custody!

Many of the writers' group including the host, are members of a local choir 35-strong. Don and I took my mother, her 97 year-old neighbour and a friend to their end of season concert. It was pretty good, in one of the local churches with decent acoustics. The 97 year-old lady is a famous personality. She herself sang in this choir up to the age of 92. She was a music teacher in Montreal many years ago and was in a choir with Oscar Peterson when he was young! Then she married a church minister and went to live in Nova Scotia. Her daughters (both in their 70's) took away her car last year - she was a menace to society, having mini-strokes that rendered her temporarily blind etc. Now she terrorizes the village with an electric scooter. My mother is very impatient with her, I think because she is so independent. It is unfortunate, but my mother is so selfish that she doesn't seem to feel that she could help Muriel, with shopping, going to the library or going to appointments etc. Sigh, old people, behaving badly. Anyway, enough compaints about my family!

How are you? I see that you will have visitors this coming weekend, so perhaps we'll come up next week. We'll give you a call.


Sue & Don.

Discreditable senate appointments

Dear Mr. Lauzon,

I am writing to complain about the disturbing behaviour of the Prime Minister's Office in regard to the Senate scandal about expense claims.

It is not believable to me that a person like Senator Duffy couldn't find, or borrow, the money to replace his expenses claimed (possibly) in error. The bail out by the Prime Minister's chief-of-staff is a dreadful mistake. It leads to the perception of impropriety, and the branches of Canadian government should be above reproach.

The Conservative government has made much about ethical behaviour and accountability, more than just following the letter of the law. This was important in rebuilding the party after the Mulroney years.

One is often judged by the company one keeps. The Conservative government is being rightly pilloried in the press for bad judgement in picking senators who have discredited to the party.

I can honestly say that I am shocked.

Yours sincerely

Dear Susan,

Thank you for writing to my office regarding the repayment of Senator Duffy’s living expenses to taxpayers. I always appreciate hearing the concerns of my constituents on matters that are important to them.

I can assure you I do not believe that taxpayers should be on the hook for improper expense claims made by Senators. Mr. Duffy agreed to repay the expenses because it was the right thing to do. However, Mr. Duffy was unable to make a timely repayment.  Mr. Wright therefore wrote a cheque from his personal account for the full amount owing so that Mr. Duffy could repay the outstanding amount. The independent external audit by Deloitte looking into Senate expenses was completed and the results tabled. Due to the controversies surrounding Senator Duffy’s improper expense claims, the Senator made the decision to resign from the Conservative Caucus and sit as an independent.

Once again, thank you for writing.

Best regards,

Guy Lauzon
Member of Parliament
Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry

Dear Mr. Lauzon,

Thank you for your prompt reply.

I am sorry, it is not believable that a person of Senator Duffy's status and income could not immediately borrow such funds from a Canadian bank to cover the shortfall. If he could not, the taxpayer was not "on the hook" for this - it is still his responsibility. I am ignoring the possibly misleading statement that was made to the press, that Senator Duffy and his wife had decided to pay back the money. I am also ignoring for now, the idea that someone else, in any other occupation, would be suspended without pay and possibly facing police charges.

I expect the government of Canada to be held to the same or hopefully better standards of behaviour than this. I happen to know, and as you probably know yourself, Mr. Lauzon, that when a new senator or MP is brought into Parliament, there is an extensive orientation and briefings explaining what is allowed and what is not (and the reasons for that).

I am very sorry, that you appear to have to defend this type of behaviour, as I believe that you are a person of unimpeachable honesty and you do a great deal of good work in our community!

Yours sincerely


St Lawrence Rowing

Test content from SLRC