Save Canada's Experimental Lakes Area

Yesterday, Acting Fisheries Minister Gale Shea fumbled through questions to explain the unsound decision by the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) to cancel its Experimental Lakes Area (ELA) program. Over six months have passed since the announcement that DFO’s ELA facility would be shut down and its team of scientists fired, but Canadians have yet to receive an adequate explanation from DFO justifying this decision.

“It’s time for the people of Canada to hear scientific fact, not political fiction,” asserted Diane Orihel, Director of the Coalition to Save ELA. “The cuts to ELA, including its staff, represent a major loss of scientific capacity within DFO to achieve its strategic outcomes of healthy, aquatic ecosystems and sustainable fisheries and aquaculture.”

Minister Shea responded to questions placed on the Order Paper by MP Robert Chisholm, NDP Fisheries & Oceans Critic. Mr. Chisholm asked what analysis had been done by DFO…

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Venice and Trieste: Our Italian Holiday

We’ll be in Venice next Saturday, staying in an apartment in Castello, away in the eastern reaches of the city, on Via Garibaldi, close to the site of the Biennale. The pavilions and the park are going to be one of the locations in an upcoming book, so I’m looking forward to a little research in the area.

But mostly we’ll spend the week just living in Venice, dropping into churches and scuolas to see the amazing (and free) art, sitting in cafes and drinking an espresso or an ombra(small glass of wine), walking along the canals or eating ice cream on the Zattere.

The next week we’ll spend in the country. We’ve rented a small house, set in the walls of the Castello di Strassoldo di Sopra in village of the same name. It’s northeast of Venice, about 40km from Trieste. Roman ruins, mountains, beaches, nature resorts, a wine and ham route to follow, and the intriguing city of Trieste to visit: all less than a 2 hour drive from where we are staying, and most within 30 minutes.

Some of the best wine in Italy is produced in the region of the Colline Orientale, so I imagine we’ll drive to that area as well. 

5 Days. I can’t wait.


Yahoo for The Facepainter Murders

Semifinalist in Kindle Book Review Best Indie Books of 2012/mystery

My last book, The Facepainter Murders was a semifinalist in the Kindle Book Review Best Indie Book of 2012, mystery/thriller. It is available at,, Barnes&Noble and can be ordered through your local bookstore.
Book two in my Dangerous Journeys series

Canadian Scientists Muzzled?— Shame

Prime Minister Stephen Harper should set scientists free, says Nature –

Both the articles above are a must-read for anyone interested in science, working in science or studying in science and for anyone who thinks that censorship is antithetical to democracy.

If the scientists who work for federally-funded organizations are being forced to toe a party(Conservative) line before they talk to the media, they are being muzzled. The free-flow of scientific thought is the most important factor in progress in science. Cross-pollination of ideas happens not just from publications in scientific journals but also from information in the popular press. One scientist’s information may be the very stimulus needed for another’s idea, perhaps in a totally unrelated field.

The mania for control of the “message” in Stephen Harper’s government, a government elected on the promise of transparency, appears to be spiralling out of control. What next? Controlling what can be taught in the universities?

The scientists who work for federally-funded agencies are not working for the PMO, nor for the Conservative Party. They are working for us, and we have the right to hear what they have to say, whether the government like it or not.

This country is losing its thoughtful, sane, measured behaviour. Muzzling scientists is an offence against free speech and Canadian values. Shame.


The myth of Tory economic performance – The Globe and Mail.

Check out Lawrence Martin’s assessment of the Harper record. The out-of-control cuts and spending left us with a deficit where there had been a surplus. Martin puts it all together in this fine article. Politics is ever the same. The politicians “spin”, trying to convince us that up is down, black is white and guys who denied the economic downturn in ’08 are somehow our saviours in ’12.

Writing: I’m working on book three in my Dangerous Journey’s series. Anne is in Bermuda this time, fending off a police detective who thinks that Anne is a killer, and a killer who thinks she’s a nuisance that needs to be eliminated. I hope to be finished by the end of March, so watch for it next fall. Title, as always, pending.

Reading; I finished The Hare with the Amber Eyes, by Edmund de Waal. De Waal writes the biography of his family’s collection of netsuke and through it a memoir of his family of Russian Jewish bankers and their sad fate at the hands of Austrian Nazis. A fascinating and moving story, and a very good read.


Today I’m bringing the blog up to date on writing, photography and gardening, especially gardening.

This month I finished the revisions of the galley proofs for the print on demand edition of The Facepainter Murders. Revisiting work is always tough, because the errors are glaring, the ability to change it minimal, and the time consumed to check each period and comma and tense exorbitant. Especially the tenses!

I’m also working on my as yet untitled sequel which takes Anne McPhail to Bermuda. About three-quarters finished as of today, but still a draft or maybe two to go. This time Anne is a suspect when she witnesses a murder and can’t convince the investigating detective of her innocence.

I’m still learning how to use my new camera, and yearning for a telephoto lens. We left our birdfeeder up for the summer and have had many species that are new to us arrive. The vivid orange variety of house finch and his cousin the purple finch and families are currently in residence, replacing the delightful rose-breasted grosbeak of last month. They are all easily startled so I’ve been trying photograph from inside the house. Recently my brother and I went up to the Ottawa Valley. On a bush road near Barrett Chute we came upon this deer, having lunch in the ditch.

Gardening has  become a joint venture, and this summer has been busy with a new retaining wall to build, or rather supervise.

Victoria Lister Carley, landscape architect

Rosepark Landscaping.

We are delighted with the result, and I have a brand-new garden to plant!

So that’s about it: writing, gardening, taking pictures, and oh yes, still trying to learn Italian.

Saudi Women’s Rights

A woman in Saudi Arabia, who had started or joined an online movement to allow women to drive, has been detained, along with her brother, after she put a video of herself driving on the internet. In 1990 a group of religious scholars issued a fatwah(edict) against women driving. Why? Who knows? Just another example of the inequality women endure in that country. The abhorrent guardianship  system that restricts women’s movements unless accompanied by a male “guardian” is another of the human right abuses that continue there.

I think the men of Saudi Arabia should be embarrassed and ashamed that they treat the women of their country like children, and allow religious police to arrest them, abuse them, beat them, force them into false confessions and sentence them to such inhumane punishments as lashing for such crimes as wearing “indecent” ie western clothing.


Sakineh remains in prison.

The link above details the Amnesty campaign to free her and two other political prisoners. Havel, of the Czech republic, himself a former political prisoner believes his own release came much sooner because of voices raised from outside.

Please sign the petition.

The Writer’s Chores

A few short years ago, a writer  expected to write, submit, work with an in-house editor not only on the minutia of the galley proofs but also on the book itself. A good editor could help turn a so-so book, a pig’s ear of story into a silk purse. Not today; not unless you are an important author all ready. The chores of today’s beginners include: sending a polished manuscript to the publisher, which needs little in the way of revision; designing or helping to design the cover; inventing a marketing plan; garnering quotes for the book; revising the galley proofs; writing and releasing a press release…the list goes on.

In my case, because my current book, The Facepainter Murders has all ready been released electronically, I am at the revising the galley proofs stage. This involves a line by line review, to catch everything from spelling errors(few) to consideration of the proper use and punctuation of the em dash. Until recently I didn’t know the em dash had a name, much less rules about its use. Now I’m on familiar terms with Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style, and recently had another look at Eats, Shoots, and Leaves, Lynn Truss’s amusing and informative little book about the comma.

At the same time, I’m writing the third book in this series, taking protagonist Anne McPhail to Bermuda, as well as revising another non-series book.

No money to be made at my level in the book-writing business, but it’s excellent at keeping the brain going, and I hope forging new connections.

Check out Nancy Pratt’s blog– for her accounts of travels in Ecuador, and her photos of the people of Ecuador

Catastrophic Drug Program

Lack of catastrophic drug program a black eye for Canada – The Globe and Mail.

Rare or orphan diseases are identified by their frequency in the population. Treatment provision for these illness varies from province to province. A previous article by Linda Priest in the Globe and Mail details all of this. You can read it here:

But it’s not just orphan diseases that can be catastrophic for those afflicted. Multiple Sclerosis is relatively common in Canada, affecting both sexes. In Ontario the cost for a 4 week treatment with Avonex, a once a week injectable costs almost 2000$. Every month. For life or until relapse and then the drugs get more expensive. There is a new medication, oral, relieving the patient of the painful intramuscular injections, but it cost almost twice as much.

In Ontario, the Trillium Drug Plan can help, if the medication is listed in the Ontario Drug Benefit Formulary, or can be covered as a limited use. The patient pays a deductible and must reapply every year if they also have some private drug benefit. FYI the drug benefits only cover the drugs the government wants to cover, not all of them. and certainly not the newest.

The country lags behind other first world countries, way behind, because there is no National program. What we do have is a National Disgrace. Oh yes, and new fighter jets.