The beginning words of today’s blog (What a Difference a Week Makes) is, a play on words – song words What t a Difference a Day Makes is a romantic melody. The fate of this northern nation is far from romantic, and far from melodious.
A week ago Friday was Canada Day, celebrated with great gusto. enthusiasm, seemingly all across the nation. The Edmonton Journal (the local rag) had stories featuring a former citizenship judge, born in India, northern Punjab. When this ninety year old retired justice was once asked: What was the best thing that happened to him in your life? He recalled his answer:
“My response was, coming to Canada!” “It is the best country in the world to live in as stated by the Unite Nations a grew times.” In his days as a judge in the Canadian Court of Citizenship he 40,000 immigrants were ell comes into this country. He was speaking at a Norquest graduation, a Canadian college. Photographs pictured him with college professors and Alberta’s Lt. Gov. Salma Lakhani, a distinguished woman, also an immigrant, born in Uganda.
By the way gusto is zest as well as enjoyment or vigor in doing something. Its lively synonyms are: enthusiasm, relish, appetite, enjoyment, delight, glee, pleasure, satisfaction, gratification, appreciation, liking, fondness; zest, zeal, fervor, verve, keenness, avidity. Its antonyms are definite downers: apathy, distaste
Later in the week my glee, zeal and zest began to wane when the Toronto Star announced that there was a waiting list of 2 million poor souls waiting for their visa a determination of their citizenship, A government commission found one million to an unacceptable number but what with covid and all the numbers increased, not decreased. Government officials have little imagination – most probably many on the waiting list waiting for determination are qualified to fill vacant positions as government staff allowing entry.
Apathy and distaste was beginning to set in but then the situation got even worse – the bottom fell out. This idiom is used when something that suddenly fails or becomes unable to continue in a normal and effective way.
The catastrophic happening, occurring one week to the day after Canada Day, was the worst catastrophic outages that Canada has ever seen. There was a massive network outage had Rogers Communications that shut down mobile and internet services all across Canada. The widespread disruption, which got underway early Friday morning, paralyzed communications across sectors including health-care, law enforcement and the financial industry. Many 911 services couldn’t receive incoming calls, several hospitals reported impacts to their services, and debit transactions were paused when Interac was knocked offline. It was nothing short of catastrophic hearing of the horror stories that emerged.
As I tell this tale, it is going to be all about me for awhile. There is one thing I have learned over my long life. If one must concern oneself with the news of the day, it is best of wait awhile. If something (anything) anything happens it is immediately broadcast on television, particularly the twenty-four hour ones. Nobody at all knows that is going on, there is a rush to find available experts (who generally know nothing). Gradually more facts arise so by the time the news appears in newspapers and online reputable publications. By now it is more factual, the experts have greater expertise. I still never wrestled with the thorny events of the day, instead relied upon The New Yorker as their fact checking assured accuracy, the experts (and sometimes pundits) have the benefit of reflection. This scenario proved all too true with the Roger’s outage scandal.
I am not a television watcher. First learned of the mess as victim – heard something was happening but was unable to use usually reliable Yellow Cab to get to my physiotherapy appointment several blocks away. Walked home but was unable to reach the medical clinic by phone, also because of the outage. All of this due to Roger’s negligence and that is kind, calling it negligence.
I am not a television watcher but a news report was posted by someone on Instagram. Read some of the comments (not to enlightening) from Twitter. One man was rather droll in his response, another had a good idea but replies to him totally negative.
Funny Guy: Having to tell our American friends “the internet’s down in Canada” is going to do do wonders for our small-town image.
Good Idea Man: The big 3 (Rogers, Telus, Bell) should be required by law to open their wireless networks for roaming if one goes down. Even at a set small fee. Companies like Interac should be required to have contingency plans and not rely on one provider.
I made some choice remarks in the midst of the passivity and despair of the other responses. Suggesting that Rogers be sued, a class action suit etc etc. My aggressive American Attorney came to the fore.
The next morning bought an Edmonton Journal to be sorely disappointed. The enormous outage was not a front page headline. It was in section D, with this sorry headline: Outage Illustrates Need for Competition Experts Say. Well, it was one ‘expert’ and she sort of said: “Too Bad, So Sad.” There was no outcry by the Edmonton Journal, a tepid response and an ‘expert’ lacking information. At the end of the day Roger’s said: “Following our previous updates, we have now restored services for the vast majority of our customers and our technical teams are working hard to ensure that the remaining customers are back online as quickly as possible.” Then Roger’s ‘apologized’ for the slight inconvenience.
That made me angry.
Me: If only I could draw. A satirical cartoon with Rogers talking about a slight inconvenience in the midst of the total destruction resulting from an atomic bomb explosion.
Alter Ego: Well, Alexis, you cannot draw and who would look at your cartoon anyway.
Me: You are absolutely correct as usual. I shall sleep on this situation.
So I did and this headline from the online Toronto Star caught my eye and calmed me down. Following the Roger’s Outage, Here’s What to Expect Moving Forward. The article began: “Phones across Canada buzzed back to life yesterday as Rogers restored service after one of the worst telecommunications outages the country has ever seen. Experts and advocates are calling for Canada’s telecom regulator to investigate the outage and take a closer look at all communications providers in the country. Some companies are preparing for another potential outage.” PHEW, there are regulators, they are going to investigate and look at the other guys.
That makes me rest easy. Other reassuring news was reported, the following from the Star article.
The Public Interest Advocacy Centre, in an open letter to CRTC Secretary General Claude Doucet, said the CRTC should immediately launch a probe of the Rogers outage, and should also take a closer look at all communications providers in the country. “We request that the Commission…(examine) whether all telecommunications service providers (TWPs) in Canada should be required to meet a baseline of emergency planning, refund requirements, notice and transparency and other consumer protections, interconnection, wholesale and other requirements as conditions of service to operate in Canada,” PIAC executive director John Lawford wrote in the letter.
The article continued: Patricia Valladao, a spokeswoman for the CRTC said the telecom regulator is in contact with Rogers. “Right now, our focus is on the outage and recovering from it, when it is over, we will take all necessary actions to examine what occurred and put in place the necessary measures to prevent it from happening again,” she said.”
There was continuing good news.
“Richard Leblanc, a professor of governance, law and ethics at York University said the outage makes it clear that the federal government can’t just rely on telecom companies to do the right thing.
“I think it’s time that regulators, and this includes Industry Canada, the CRTC and the Competition Tribunal begin to insist on proper, robust, independently-audited internal controls, so that you don’t have an outage like this,” he said.
While Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne has described the outage as “unacceptable,” Leblanc said that kind of talk needs to be followed up with action.
“I think regulators have the authority, they have the power, the question is: do they have the courage to use it?” he said.
Interac, which operates the national debit network and E-transfer system, said Saturday that it was back to business as usual after being knocked out of service Friday. In a written statement, the company said it’s planning to add a second telecommunications provider, to help give it some backup options in case of another outage.”
So, at this moment things are looking very good again. I am not apathetic but again gleeful, keen and appreciative to be back in Edmonton again.
Attached are two rather strange photos. One is of Iceland, sent to a man of my recent acquaintance with this caption.
Me: This is a huge mural in the middle of the capital city of Iceland. I stayed in Iceland for a week on the way back from London, it is a great way to go because you leave Canada – ago to Iceland. Stay in a hotel in Iceland, sleep away jet lag and the next morning it is only an eight hour flight to London. I loved Iceland. And traveling there in December is no problem as no one in Canada wants to be going to Iceland in December. Hahaha. I took more photos but this one caught my eye.
It appears this man has Scottish connections, rather unbelievable considering where and how I met him. I also send him this photo – a churchyard where my great great grandfather Baxter is buried. It was a miracle that I found the grave, a total miracle. Robert Baxter died of greed – not his but he worked in a linen factory and died of tuberculosis – it was deadly working under those conditions, breathing the contaminated air. It is most ironic because as the man, the recipient of this photograph, is exceedingly rich. (I think). Do not believe he exploits workers, but he might. Guess I will find out.