Minneapolis Bridge Collapse

The collapse of the I35W bridge spanning the Mississippi in Minneapolis has a lot of people worried about the safety of our infrastructure in North America. And yes, the fact maintenance is not what it should be is worth serious reconsideration. But from there becoming fearful of the entire infrastructure, which the media is fanning by emphasizing how thousands of bridges in the U.S. have the same rating as the bridge that just collapsed, is only amplifying the culture of fear.

I don’t want to trivialize the impact of the events in Minneapolis, and I’m certainly glad the Bush Whacker wasn’t on that bridge when it went down. But Julie certainly does put things in perspective in her blog entry, “The Century of the Fearful” (“Le siècle des peureux”):

We’re afraid of driving under overpasses, and now we’re afraid of bridges. […] Rather than being afraid of bridges and overpasses, me I’m a lot more afraid of drunk people who get behind the wheel…In Québec, they kill more people each year than all the bridge and overpass collapses in the country. Think about it.

I guess it’s right up there with flying. I still don’t like it, but it’s a fact that more people die in car crashes than plane crashes. It’s just that individual plane crashes (and bridge collapses and, yes, terrorist attacks) are on a scale that defy our comprehension.

Sure, citizens should insist that more money be spent on maintaining our infrastructure. But in the meantime, we can’t stop living for fear of being at the wrong place at the wrong time.

Is this 2007 or 1987?

Truro is a town of about 22,000 people, located an hour’s drive north of Halifax. It’s one of Nova Scotia’s most conservative areas, which shouldn’t come as a surprise given the neighbouring “suburban” village is called Bible Hill.

Now comes word that town council voted 6-1 against raising the Pride flag at Town Hall to mark the area’s Pride celebrations next week. “God says I’m not in favour of that and I have to look at it and say, I guess I’m not either,” Truro Mayor Bill Mills said. He then dug himself even deeper by saying, “If I have a group of people that says pedophiles should have rights, do we raise their flag too? I don’t want to lump them in with homosexuals, but that’s the point, the issues, and that’s my feeling.”

So he doesn’t want to lump pedophiles with homosexuals, yet he goes right ahead and does. Plus, the well-being of a whole town is about Mayor Mills’ feelings. Uh, …right.

beaudry.jpgI remember when flying the flag outside city hall in bigger cities was a huge deal, like Fredericton Mayor Brad Woodside’s opposition some 15 years ago, and then when he was re-elected mayor a few years later, proclaiming Pride Week was one of his first duties in office. And then there are major cities that openly embrace their gay community all year round.

Don’t assume I’m saying that the Québécois are all that more tolerant. Just think of the recent debate about “reasonable accommodations” of minorities, with the town of Hérouxville (pop. 1,000) becoming the emblem of how rural Québec is not willing to sway from perceived “traditional” values. But just as Hérouxville’s “lifestyle guide” came across as ludicrous, so is Truro’s position about raising the rainbow flag. Refusing to evolve into the 21st century is bound to draw some bad press.