Tales from the Road

  • 2017-08-09 09:48:23
  • Column Three Assess-Gate
  • Okay, we’re having money problems. So what is a have-not province to do? We have a projected deficit of $200-million and an accumulated debt approaching (I’m going to put the zeroes in here for effect) a cool $14,000,000,000.00. Most New Brunswickers would agree we need to do something to reduce the $18,000 every man, woman, child and confused citizen must pony up to settle this account. In case you’re not great with zeroes, that’s 14 billion dollars we owe. It also happens to be a bit more than I have stashed under my mattress. Our provincial budget delivered in February by Cathy Rogers, our first-ever female Minister of Finance (yay!), included neither tax increases nor spending cuts. As a taxpayer and a recipient of fabulous provincial funding, I’m thrilled to drape myself in that yellow and red flag with the goofy boat and shake my red, white and blue pom-poms adorned with yellow stars. Come on people, we need to fix this money problem. Just keep your grubby fingers off me, okay? The solution to our financial dilemma seems to come down to two words: tax assessments. Yes, we’re mired in what is sadly becoming known as the Assess-Gate scandal. But seriously folks, let’s give our government a break! Oh, and I meant to add that second ’s’ on the end of the word ‘Asses’. We’re starting to figure out a few things here in the Picture Province. We’re taking the lead from the business world, on how to operate a well-oiled bureaucratic machine. We need only look south of the border to admire how a country can become the envy of the world by putting a prominent businessman in charge of purse strings and nuclear codes. If you’ve ever purchased an inkjet printer or one of those Mach-Five razors, you know how our pockets are picked. Forty bucks for the printer and a hundred and forty for new cartridges; buy a super new razor for only a dollar-forty-nine and hope you win Lotto 6/49 to be able to pay for replacement blades. It’s our golden New Brunswick ticket: don’t raise taxes, just raise property assessments. Oh what heights we’ve hit! I’ve heard that our province has a newfangled computerized system involving air surveillance of our humble abodes. Premier Gallant isn’t old enough to be considered a father figure. He’s more like a little brother. So it’s official: Little Brother is watching us! I did mention we are a have-not province. This story is evolving as I write, and I’m aware of the many changes afoot, including an independent review of the policy and an extended appeal process. However, it is important to note that there have been losers - but also winners - in this tax-assessment debacle. First, the losers. A big part of the problem is that the air surveillance miscalculated the square footage of houses by factoring in the sizes of the roofs, including overhangs, back porches and outhouses. So my poor cousin who couldn’t afford to fix the hole in his roof just draped a giant tarp over it and had his tax bill go up 45%. There are many other examples of losers in the assessment fiasco. I’ve made a little list: 1. Owners of smelt shanties with satellite dishes on the roof; 2. Rural New Brunswickers who improved their Google Street View after years of being teased for not having any front steps; 3. Campground owners who don’t have the word ‘mega’ associated with them, and 4. members of the media (with all their fake news.) And the winners are … homeless people! Yes, the economy might be in a bit of a mess and good jobs hard to come by, but if you don’t have a job or a home, you can take solace in the knowledge that you might not have to pay more this year. There are other noteworthy people coming out ahead because of this tax assessment debacle. I have made another little list: 1. Anybody who liked Premier Gallant’s wedding announcement on Facebook and provided their email address to the Liberal Party of New Brunswick; 2. Blaine Higgs— he’s finally thinking that people are listening and really do like him; 3. Whoever is pining for Service New Brunswick Minister Ed Doherty’s job; 4. Any cash-strapped company with waterfront property that has suddenly seen its value reduced by 67% (as every New Brunswicker knows, LNG stands for Lousy Negotiating Government). So don’t blame our have-not province for trying! We haven’t got the population or resources of Western Canada. If you are into anagrams, you realize ‘ServiceNB’ by another name is simply ‘InverseBC’. As I look forward to the real start of spring I remain optimistic about the future of this great province. I will go on my merry way, shopping for razor blades and ink cartridges and gleefully paying my taxes. Roll on, take the money and run.
  • 2017-08-07 11:54:12
  • Column Two On The Button
  • Okay, we’re having money problems. So what is a have-not province to do? We have a projected deficit of $200-million and an accumulated debt approaching (I’m going to put the zeroes in here for effect) a cool $14,000,000,000.00. Most New Brunswickers would agree we need to do something to reduce the $18,000 every man, woman, child and confused citizen must pony up to settle this account. In case you’re not great with zeroes, that’s 14 billion dollars we owe. It also happens to be a bit more than I have stashed under my mattress. Our provincial budget delivered in February by Cathy Rogers, our first-ever female Minister of Finance (yay!), included neither tax increases nor spending cuts. As a taxpayer and a recipient of fabulous provincial arts funding, I’m thrilled to drape myself in that yellow and red flag with the goofy boat and shake my red, white and blue pom-poms adorned with yellow stars. Come on people, we need to fix this money problem. Just keep your grubby fingers off me, okay? The solution to our financial dilemma seems to come down to two words: tax assessments. Yes, we’re mired in what is sadly becoming known as the Assess-Gate scandal. Oh, and I meant to add that second ’s’ on the end of the word ‘Asses’. But seriously folks, let’s give our government a break! We’re starting to figure out a few things here in the Picture Province. We’re taking the lead from the business world, on how to operate a well-oiled bureaucratic machine. We need only look south of the border to admire how a country can become the envy of the world by putting a prominent businessman in charge of purse strings and nuclear codes. If you’ve ever purchased an inkjet printer or one of those Mach-Five razors, you know how our pockets are picked. Forty bucks for the printer and a hundred and forty for new cartridges; buy a super new razor for only a dollar-forty-nine and hope you win Lotto 6/49 to be able to pay for replacement blades. It’s our golden New Brunswick ticket: don’t raise our taxes, just raise the property assessments. Oh what heights we’ve hit! I’ve heard that our province has a newfangled computerized system involving air surveillance of our humble abodes. Premier Brian Gallant isn’t old enough to be considered a father figure. He’s more like a little brother. So it’s official: Little Brother is watching us! I did mention the rest of Canada considers us a have-not province; we can’t even afford a big brother. This story is evolving as I write, and I’m aware of the many changes afoot, including an independent review of the policy and an extended appeal process. However, it is important to note that there have been losers - but also winners - in this tax-assessment debacle. First, the losers. A big part of the problem is that the air surveillance miscalculated the square footage of houses by factoring in the sizes of the roofs, including overhangs, back porches and outhouses. So my poor cousin who couldn’t afford to fix the hole in his roof just draped a giant tarp over it and had his tax bill go up 45%. There are many other examples of losers in the assessment fiasco: 1. Owners of smelt shanties with satellite dishes on the roof; 2. Rural New Brunswickers who improved their Google Street View after years of being teased for not having any front steps; 3. Campground owners who don’t have the word ‘mega’ associated with them, and 4. Members of the media (with all their fake news.) And the winners are … homeless people! Yes, the economy might be in a bit of a mess and good jobs hard to come by, but if you don’t have a job or a home, you can take solace in the knowledge that you might not have to pay more this year. There are other noteworthy people coming out ahead because of this tax assessment debacle: 1. Anybody who liked Premier Gallant’s wedding announcement on Facebook and provided their email address to the Liberal Party of New Brunswick; 2. Blaine Higgs— he’s finally thinking that people are listening and really do like him; 3. Whoever is pining for Service New Brunswick Minister Ed Doherty’s job; 4. Any cash-strapped company with waterfront property that has suddenly seen its value reduced by 67% (as every New Brunswicker knows, LNG stands for Lousy Negotiating Government). So don’t blame our have-not province for trying! We haven’t got the population or resources of Western Canada. If you are into anagrams, you realize ‘Service NB’ by another name is simply ‘Inverse BC’. As I look forward to the real start of spring I remain optimistic about the future of this great province. I will go on my merry way, shopping for razor blades and ink cartridges and gleefully paying my taxes. Roll on, take the money and run.
  • 2017-08-07 11:53:25
  • First humour column On The Button
  • Well recuse me. As the winter of 2017 is about transform to Winter Reduxet, or what we New Brunswickers otherwise refer to as the first month of spring, I am sure I share with many of you a certain curiosity about the word recuse. When local hero Honourable Victor Boudreau, Minister of Health (and various other non-Celtic Relations portfolios) recently announced that he was recusing himself from proceedings involving the testing of Parlee Beach water for fecal matter, and when enlightened US Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from decision-making about the last US Election being affected by a surreal game of Russian Roulette, many of us went searching our online dictionaries for the meaning of the word. Turns out it means excusing oneself from making a decision because of potential conflict of interest, or something like that. I got thinking that this is a political ploy that has been going on since Pontious was a Pilate, so to speak—when the going gets tough, wash your hands instead of making a decision. To make excuses is ridiculous but to recuse is sublime. The more I think about this grand political tradition, the more I become a fan: “Yes, honey I know it’s snowing but I recuse myself of having to shovel, just like last night when I recused having to figure out which of the three bags to put the garbage in and of course to carry it out to the curb.” You have used up all your vacation and sick days, but not feeling up to go to work, recuse yourself from going in tomorrow morning. Tired of paying taxes? Recuse baby! This is starting to make sense to me. Now to be fair to the aforementioned Mr. Boudreau, there is a perfectly good reason for his recusal. He is a minority shareholder in a controversial mega campground proposal for the Pte. du Chêne Parlee Beach area. So as someone who might have control over how much poop should be allowed in the water, he might stand to benefit from muddying those warm salt waters any more than they already are. Before it got to this boiling point, Mr Boudreau did state how he wished to get to the bottom of this matter and do everything to make sure the water is clean and clear. This was a statement coming from the same provincial government that constantly boasts via its department of tourism about Parlee Beach having the warmest salt waters north the Carolinas. Well you can’t have it both ways Vic! How do you suppose it got to be so warm in the first place? That water didn’t get to be so cozy without a little help from our Ocean Surf friends. And while we are on the subject, wouldn’t the warmest salt water north of the Carolinas be exactly one centimetre north of the North Carolina border? And don’t we all really know the motivation behind this? That Minister Boudreau is secretly playing out the fantasy of every East Coast mobile home magnate—to have an episode of The Trailer Park Boys shot at his very own establishment. Can’t you just see the episode now as the boys wonder why the pot always grows greener so close to water’s edge? Just think of all the opportunities for background roles to all the Pte. du Chêne Wharf denizens. And it is no secret that Victor himself is holding out for a cameo role as Randy’s haberdasher, a venerable Cecil D of P.D.C. I can see the positive social media coverage already! Now that I think carefully on the matter I think it is a shame that the power to recuse has not been applied as often as it ought to. I’m thinking of the Alberta judge who recently resigned his judgeship due to the fallout of his suggesting to a female sexual assault victim that it would have all been so much better had she just kept her legs together. Umm maybe it would have been so much better had you recused yourself from that case because you are a narrow-minded misogynist creep. Or if only the United States’ electorate had recused themselves before voting in you-know-who and thereby handing over the car keys to an immature adolescent with orange hair. And while we are on the topic of orange hair, it occurs to me that if a New Brunswicker had hair like that he would not have to wear a hat during hunting season. And I sincerely regret that when I was a four-year-old boy on the North Shore I didn’t recuse myself from sticking my tongue on the metal fence in January. I suspect that one of the best things about my topic for this week’s column is that we realize there is a certain power in be able to step aside, to procrastinate, to pass the buck, or pass muster instead of passing judgement. How many times have you thought about how things would be better if only I had the chance to do a replay, a do-over, if only I had though to recuse myself before I said or did that ridiculous thing? Intellect is power, and sober second thought belongs in the Senate. Recuse me while I kiss the sky.
  • 2014-10-01 20:58:35
  • Moncton
  • Here are the links for all the Lucien NB Election Commentaries: http://www.cbc.ca/informationmorningmoncton/2014/08/29/lucien-the-election/ http://www.cbc.ca/informationmorningmoncton/2014/09/05/luciens-take/ http://www.cbc.ca/informationmorningmoncton/2014/09/12/post-debate-lucien/ http://www.cbc.ca/informationmorningmoncton/2014/09/19/luciens-final-take/ http://www.cbc.ca/informationmorningmoncton/2014/09/24/luciens-final-take-1/
  • 2013-09-10 08:42:22
  • Extra show for Morrisburg
  • Shows for my Morrisburg run sold out pretty quickly. Now up to seven performances--an extra show was recently added for Wednesday matinee--2 p.m. on Oct 2. www.uppercanadaplayhouse.com
  • 2013-02-12 07:34:57
  • Moncton HubCap Comedy Fest
  • Marshall Button lives his life always saying ‘yes’ by linda hersey Times & TRANSCRIPT STAFF 11 Feb 2013 04:09PM Main story image Marshall Button of Moncton has made an interesting career out of saying “yes.” “I\’ve adopted the mantra to say yes first, and then think about it after,” he laughs. “There is a sense that you may never work again, because you do this one job ... well that\’s tonight. What am I going to do next week?” It seems to have turned out pretty well for Marshall who has worked exclusively in show business, including TV and film, his entire adult life. Very versatile, he\’s certainly well known for his comedic alter ego, Lucien, but in addition to being a comedian he’s the Capitol Theatre\’s artist-in-residence, the founder of the HubCap Comedy Festival (now in partnership with Juste Pour Rire), an actor, playwright, director, a very much in demand MC, and has twice served as moderator in federal leadership debates. Originally from Dalhousie he recalls that humour served him well growing up, and his Newfoundland-born father and French Acadian (Gaspé Peninsula) mother helped provide the underpinning of both his comedic timing and storytelling ability. “It seemed growing up in that atmosphere I was probably only the third or fourth funniest person just in my immediate family,” says Marshall, “but I had a lot of very humourous aunts and uncles and grandparents and such. “I sort of come by it honestly and naturally, and the notion that one could make a living from doing this wasn\’t in my head as a young person — but that\’s evolved over the years as a possibility.” Not only has it been a wise decision professionally to never say no, that mindset also extends to charitable work, as Marshall loves to give back to the community. A Paul Harris Fellowship Award recipient as well as being honoured with the Order of Moncton, he has lent his time and talent to a number of charitable efforts — including literacy for the past “11 or 12 years”; serving as co-chair for this year\’s United Way Campaign as well as chairing the New Brunswick Adoption Foundation fall event. “I\’m a Libra, and I always look at two sides. I\’m almost more interested in charities that don\’t affect me personally, and when you take time to actually read and see what the organization is doing and speak to people, you go wow! This is so important, and then all of a sudden you become almost a champion for a cause you were unaware of.” In the business of “selling good feelings,” he loves it when people are carried away with laughter at events such as the HubCap Comedy Festival — definitely a win/win in the feel good department. Conversely, despite his passion for the arts, he\’s also a bona fide “sporting type” — a marathoner, golfer “and things like that.” That\’s why he not only feels content with life, but very “well-rounded.” Above all, he\’s thankful. “I’m very happy to be in good health — good mental health being paramount,” he says. “I think that everything else stems from that.”
  • 2012-11-01 09:15:19
  • Moncton
  • Sneak preview of my poem "The Order of Moncton" that will serve as my acceptance speech at the award ceremony tonight. The Order of Moncton Open the Floodgates: An Order of Moncton Your tide is really rising now We watch with wonder as you grow wider, expanding your banks Reclaiming Riverview and Dieppe Maybe that was the Idea in the first place. The Order of Moncton For many, every day is the Order of Moncton It is palpable, we are drawn to this place despite its dodgy architecture and less- than-stunning scenery. There is indeed an Order we know and have known. Walking down Main St on a bright weekday afternoon Stories of Eddie the Bum: turning in a wallet he finds on the street, he is a bum after all, not a thief. Watching Larry Nelson work a room Larry, neither bum nor thief Le début d’une nouvelle année scolaire a U de M Les artistes du Centre Aberdeen A Hug from Claudette Bradshaw The Order Of Moncton. Parked at the Canadian Tire on Mountain Road watching traffic- un bon passe-temps. A packed house at the Capitol, sharing the same air as Leonard Cohen Running along the river trail and trying to beat the Tidal Bore, no contest. A hair cut at Dads and Lads Breakfast at Hynes, Lunch with your buddies at Jean’s, dinner in Osaka Hundreds of charity golf tournaments each summer, all for the good cause. Waiting for a bus that never comes It’s the order of Moncton Trying to find someone named Steeves or LeBlanc Friendly folk, like your friend Steve LeBlanc Sharing the same air with thousands at Magnetic Hill, Marvelling at the energy and chutzpah of Jagger and Springsteen. Saturday Mornings chez Marché Moncton Market Mud Double-Double The Order of Frenchy’s Parks Centennial, Mapleton, Irishtown, Vicky, and Bore White Cab that still is and the Blue Circle that’s no more. Wildcats, hoping for Miracles of a different sort, we’ll get ‘em next year. Santa’s on his way to the parade in a black SUV Bye-Bye Eaton’s, Bye-Bye Bay, CN you later Highfield Square. The train still comes by, or maybe it will the day after tomorrow? Frack off Gas Holes. Bonspiels, Charity, Characters, people from the North, we got it all. La chance a learner le Chiac. Quoi’est tu parle about? La ville qu’est so good de mixer-up les langues—pourquoi on veut breaker-apart les services? Hey, je croix que j’ai eu un friggen heart-attack-peux-tu me helper out? Le Congrês, la francophonie, ECMA, world championships , can we throw a party or what? Sitting with Norrie down by the Blue Cross. What will he write about all those hot rods in July? Laughing away the winter at the HubCap. Drinking away November at the Wine festival, Pumping the house, Jamming the Wind, Planning to B, the Order of Moncton. Living in the biggest city but somehow feeling you are in the smallest of towns You’ve opened your gates to all of us, your tide is rising It’s the Order of Moncton.
  • 2012-06-06 08:32:23
  • Moncton
  • Lots of shows coming up. Traveling to Windsor On for a one-nighter at the Chrysler Theatre July 5. . then gearing up for a run of the entire Tetralogy at the Capitol in Moncton (July 18 - August 18) Come and laugh this summer. . as LUCIEN says "take a break"
  • 2012-04-23 11:20:12
  • Moncton
  • Saltscapes interview now online: http://www.saltscapes.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1454:blue-collar-philosopher-getting-to-know-marshall-button&catid=34:people&Itemid=154
  • 2012-04-17 13:43:49
  • Moncton
  • Crazy week with ECMA, writing the script for the awards gala. Nice time working with Roch Voisine and the terrific team at Corkscrew Media. Now getting ready for big summer project. Watch for big announcement soon

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