October 1, 2004, The Halifax Herald Limited

The many faces of October

THIS COLUMN focuses on October: the bad, the unbelievable, the good.

The bad:

On this date 255 years ago, Nova Scotia's colonial military council, headed by governor Edward Cornwallis, with the intention to exterminate the race, approved a resolution that placed a bounty on the heads of the Mi'kmaq people. In spite of this horror and the administrative incompetence he displayed as governor, which caused terrific suffering among the European population that he had imported, Cornwallis is honoured with a statue of him sitting prominently in Cornwallis Park and with schools, etc., named after him. Because Nova Scotia knowingly and blatantly honours a purveyor of genocide, it cannot be declared a racially tolerant society.

Unfortunately, along with the other miseries associated with cold weather, lovely October signals the onset of the flu and cold season. Flu shots for many of us are mandatory. It's suggested by the medical profession that they actually work. Thus, after you have the shot, and find yourself in bed with the flu, don't despair: It's only your imagination!

October is also the month when thermostats must be turned up to chase away the chill by burning precious home-heating oil. I use the word "precious" because for much of the coming winter, the cost of a litre will be hovering around 60 cents. Because of this, many seniors and low-income families will be freezing their buns off. In the name of humanity, federal and provincial governments must review their taxation of this item and reduce it drastically, or, preferably, eliminate it entirely.

The unbelievable:

Nova Scotians will decide on Oct. 16 whether they want to be part of the real world and have Sunday shopping. Ours is the last major jurisdiction in North America that doesn't have it in some form. Visitors from other lands must wonder if we belong to some kind of far-out fundamentalist puritan religious sect.

This situation makes a person wonder if Nova Scotia will ever leave behind its medieval mentality. Let's hope that at some point in time, there is a realization among us that if we want our homeland to grow and prosper, we need to arm ourselves with the same modern tools that our competitors are armed with. Tourists want to shop!

Muddying the Sunday shopping issue is the complex way the proposed question is worded. Instead of complexity, why can't it be a simple Yes or No, with the hours of operation being left to the municipalities? Probably the confusion is being implanted by opponents to help the No side win.

Another point to ponder about the Sunday shopping proposal, which makes one question the fairness of the present law, is that we already have open Sunday hours for a large, select group of merchants. For instance, most modern drugstores, which are mini-department stores, and entities such as Pete's Frootique, are blatant examples of how the law is stretched to the limit for some. Thus, if the No side wins, let's make it all-inclusive and close everything on Sundays, including church bingos, casinos, bars, taverns, cold beer stores, and so on. The only exceptions would be emergency health services!

October will bring HRM residents a new overpopulated Halifax regional council. It is indefensible that a small municipality of approximately 300,000 souls is burdened with a government consisting of 23 councillors and a mayor. If the same formula for justifying council seats in HRM was used by a big city such as Toronto, with over three million people, it would have a council in excess of 216 members. I would suggest that if the HRM council continues to refuse to reduce itself to a realistic 12 members, the provincial government should intervene and force it.

The good:

The foliage is out in all its outstanding beauty! Annapolis Valley, Bear River and the Cabot Trail are particularly shining during this season - a must see! But if you have the time, don't leave out such routes as Highway 2 from Truro to Amherst. In fact, see it all; it's unforgettable.

Mayor Peter Kelly, a hard-working, dedicated individual, is reoffering, which is great news for those of us who think he has done an outstanding job representing our local, national and international interests! Hopefully, sometime in the future, he will consider offering for the office of premier. I think he would make an outstanding one.

It fills one with awe to watch Mother Nature at work planting the seeds for full recovery in Point Pleasant Park. Based on the new growth that established itself with gusto during the first growing season after Juan, I predict that at the end of five more growing seasons, much of the park's scars will be fading memories.

Of course, when discussing October, Halloween must be part of it. The ghosts, goblins, and other weird critters are just itching to do their evil things on the 31st - that is, if not placated by offerings of goodies. It brings back fond memories of the good old days when we adults were children and doing the trick-or-treating thing ourselves!

Also, the Pumpkin People are a must-see. Kentville has one of the best exhibits, but many other notable ones can be seen in many locations around the province. Enjoy them all!

Have a great fall!

Daniel N. Paul


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