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Jim Cumming - From the Publisher's Pen

Jim is the former publisher of the Fort Frances Times Ltd. He writes a weekly column and can be contacted at jcumming@fortfrances.com

A long list for Santa

Dear Santa:

I am writing this letter on behalf of many important people who probably would like to believe in you but somehow feel it below their dignity to write.

Our premier, Kathleen Wynne, has had a lot of grief since taking over leadership of the Liberal Party of Ontario. She would like to forget about all the poor decisions of her government and that of her predecessor.

Namely, she would like Ontarians to forget the $2 billion wasted on gas-fired power plants and the almost $2 billion for every home in the province to have a smart meter installed.

Snow creates beautiful scenes

In the summer when I fly to Toronto or Calgary, on a clear day I can look out the airplane window and marvel at the patchwork quilt of crops below me.

I have flown to Calgary and, looking down, have marveled at the brilliant yellow canola plants right up next to a field of blue flax.

I suspect that an agronomist would be able to look out the same window and define which fields were barley, or wheat, or oats, or soy on the green of the leaves.

Love the lights of Christmas

I like the lights of the Christmas season and especially enjoy the variety of styles that people use to decorate their yards.

I hope we have enough snow to cover the leaves and brown grass, but not too much to bury the lights in the yard.

Before the new LED lights, the lights outside created enough heat to melt the snow away so that they shone through the drifts. Nowadays, the cool LED lights that use energy sparingly can disappear beneath the snow and not be seen until spring.

Trade barriers hike costs

How much are economic barriers between provinces affecting us.

If you want to buy a French wine at the LCBO here, there is little problem beyond ordering it in. However, try to get a Merlot out of British Columbia and the task becomes impossible.

Ontario would much rather import wines from Europe, California, or Australia before it would permit wines from B.C. to find their way onto the shelves of our liquor stores.

It makes no sense.

Ontario residents can bring back wine and spirits from other provinces but the quantities are restrictive.

Don’t rush Christmas season

It is a magical transformation. One day our stores are dressed in Remembrance. The next day stores metamorphoses to Christmas.

Garlands and lights surround windows. Christmas banners hang from ceilings directing shoppers to Christmas specials. Christmas music plays in the background.

Suddenly Christmas bazaars and teas are flourishing throughout the community.

At the newspaper, we began seeing bookings for Christmas flyers early in September. Retailers had begun planning for Christmas 2014 shortly after the Christmas selling season had ended in 2013.

Still carrying the torch

In Grade 8, our classroom teacher, Claude Stewart, challenged the class to learn great pieces of poetry.

By the end of the year, our class could recite from memory more than 30 different pieces.

I can’t remember them all but the piece by John McCrae still rings true in my mind. One only can marvel that this hastily-scribbled poem, written during the Second Battle of Ypres, would mark most cenotaph ceremonies across Canada nearly a century later.

The poem was written about a day after his friend, Alexis Helmer, was killed by a German bomb.

We must roar

The plane was quiet on the trip home from Toronto.

The reality was setting in. The adrenalin that coursed through the veins of the district delegates for a day-and-a-half had dissolved.

The delegation had made its case to transfer the Crossroute Forest away from Resolute.

The two opposition parties, meanwhile, had pummelled the Liberal government during Question Period yesterday morning over the loss of $100 million in investment in the Fort Frances mill that would have created 200 direct mill jobs and another 800 ancillary ones across Rainy River District.

At what cost our freedom?

How much freedom should we relinquish following the two attacks on soldiers in Montreal and Ottawa last week.

The House of Commons always has been known as the place where the people could be heard and the people of Canada could watch their elected officials participate in shaping the country.

The fact that a person could have burst into Centre Block with a rifle is troubling.

Skills learned growing up here

An old friend explained to me that growing up in Fort Frances was the most fortunate thing that happened to him in his education.

I hadn’t given much thought to growing up in a rural area of Ontario before. But in his telling of the things we learn in our area of Ontario, it became clear.

We live in a community, but many of our friends and relatives live just outside of Fort Frances and raise livestock and chickens, and grow hay and barley.

We learned that the Gerber family raised chickens and we could find their eggs on the shelves of grocery stores.

Love ‘big sky’ drive

I have been travelling the last six days—firstly across North Dakota and Montana along Highway 2 to Shelby, and then back east on the Trans-Canada.

On both routes, you travel at 118 km/h so you do make good time.

The travel distance to Calgary is very similar. The highways are very straight and the driving is easy.

Highway 2 runs about 60 km south of the U.S./Canada border.