Elections should be easier for voters: Part Two

Polling Station

In my post from May 20th, I discusssed how simplicity and clarity could not only help political parties with their message, but help voters understand what they are voting for.   The idea is to lay out a four year plan with a simple theme in each year of a the  mandate. I mentioned a possible plan would be to have each budget have a one focus,  the four ‘thematic’ budgets would be Health; Environment; Energy and Education. But you say to me, “Rob you forgot about transportation, social services, job creation, First Nation etc.” My response is that each of those could appear in each budget as long as the overall focus remains on the priority set out by the government.  Each ion those can be part of that years budget focus.

For the sake of clarity let me focus on two specific budget priorities; Health and the Environment. In each of these other spending tracks are found.

Let’s look at Health Care. The major issue to be addressed is the delivery of health care to Ontarians, eliminating wait times and ensuring that there are doctors for everyone. Within health care you will find infrastructure spending to build new hospitals and care centres. Social services are covered under mental health services, autism testing and education. If you want to cover First Nations you’ll see it in emergency care, access to health service for education to prevent health issues both physical and mental health in First Nations communities.

Through the “health care” budget, we also can help the innovation sector with the challenge to provide long distance care electronically allowing physicians the ability to see patients via skype etc. Job creation comes from construction, expanded social services and while this happens the province expands the post secondary school sector focusing on educating in health sciences to serve the expanded health care network in the province.

My second example is the Environment. We can apply the same ‘political science’; Ontarians could find many of the other spending opportunities areas to help the environment. Innovation spending will be narrowed to creating clean green energy inexpensively, repairing and replacing municipal infrastructure that leads to cleaner air and land. Let’s not forget transportation either. Moving people can be a huge factor in reducing CO2 emissions.

Let’s use the “environment” budget to move people by rail, work with car manufacturers to design and build less expensive electric and low emission vehicles. and the infrastructure to support these vehicles. Agriculture also gets a boost from environmental spending – helping farmers adjust with new energy, farming innovations and studies to assist in concerns like a reduced bee population. We should always remember, farmers are the worlds first stewards when it comes to the environment and sustainability.  governments in Ontario in the last 13 years have given rural voters second and third place in the budget line-up.  This budget design gives equal voice to all ministries in the economy  of Ontario.

The main idea is stop having hodge podge budgets where many sectors get a little of the budget pie. Thought out properly each budget can address one major area of government with a trickle down effect to others. What this does is ensure Ministries have to work together – as long as the ministries can stay within the priority of that budget.

Working in this method will result in governments thinking and working better and harder for the voters. It requires forethought, planning and anticipating future needs of the province. It means government must listen to non-partisan sector experts as this type of budgeting is never ending.

This idea is like running the 10,000 meter race and how a runner prepares and is coached for it.  You will run around a 400 meter track 25 times, but as the race progresses the strategy changes. The budgets can work the same way. By the time you revisit health care, you will see where your plan took the province and will see how to change the strategies to fit where your previous actions have taken you. Obviously hope you don’t have to backtrack.

Does this have a chance of taking hold? Are politicians beholden to how budgets are planned now? Can political parties turn the corner and recognize that the voters need to see things get done differently, not the same way – in Ontario the same way is not helping?

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. You can also see me on www.redheartbluelife.wordpress.com where I am celebrating #Canada150 with a daily post of an event celebrating our sesquicentennial in Canada.

I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net.

Book Review: Legacy – How French Canadians Shaped North America

Legacy

The editors of Legacy start and finish the book, in between those pages are the stories of twelve French-Canadians, some I knew of and some I have not – though their names were known to me as street names in Gatineau, across the river from Ottawa.

Andre Pratté contributes the Foreword and Jonathan Kay the Afterword. In the foreword, Pratte hints of who might be considered for a second volume as they were left out. Kay writes in the afterword of his ‘regret’ as a Anglo-Quebecer and how English Canada needs to know about these twelve French Canadians, but also that there are others that need to be heard and known of west of the Ottawa River. Both speak with pride about the role French Canadians played in the growth and prosperity of North American.

Kay says as much in a reply to a tweet I wrote after completing the book.

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My dilemma in reading Legacy was HOW do I read it? Do I read the essays in the order I want, or do I follow (trust) the Editors Pratte and Kay have purposely placed these essays in a particular order? I trusted the editors. 

Legacy was an interesting read, the subject matter was great, but because of the format, I was as at the mercy of the contributors of the book. There were some essays that I had difficulty getting through because of the writer’s style, but I got through them and learned more about the contributions our Quebec cousins made to Canada and North America.

In reading some of the essays I had questions as in with Deni Ellis Bechard’s essay on Jack Kerouac I couldn’t tell if it was written when Kerouac was alive as Bechard doesn’t mention his death in 1969. I was drawn into the life of Montreal’s Paul David and his medical accomplishments. The political tour de force of Thérese Casgrain left me wondering why we had not heard of her and why her name is not mentioned with the Famous Five when it comes to women who leave their mark on this country.

In reading the essays on Thomas-Louis Tremblay and Georges Vanier, their heroics and bravery were outstanding. They are connected through their membership of the 22nd Battalion, the Van Doos and their battles in WWI. It’s interesting that another great Canadian has such a presence in the life of Vanier, Vincent Massey was the foil for everything that Vanier stood for – but both became Governor Generals of Canada, George Vanier was appointed Canada’s Regal representative following the death Massey in 1959.

What I anticipated the most ended up being the most difficult to read. Lucien Bouchard’s essay of Henri Bourassa was riveting. It being a hard read, it forced me go through it twice, I am glad I did. Bourassa ‘s battle with the Catholic Church and Pope Pius XI is well documented, as is his passion for Quebec, a passion that lives on long after his death.

From explorers Pierre de la Vérendrye and Albert Lacombe to Jacques Plante and Kerouac, Legacy brings nine men and three women, all French Canadians and all-important contributors to North American Anglophones AND Francophones to learn about. Writers Ken Dryden (Jacques Plante), the afore mentioned Lucien Bouchard Bourassa), Samantha Nutt (Casgrain), Roméo Dallaire (Tremblay) and Jean Charest & Antoine Dionne-Charest (George-Étienne Cartier) add their voices through their words on Quebec’s and French Canada’s history and place in North America.

Surely there are more than enough subjects for a Volume II.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. You can also see me on www.redheartbluelife.wordpress.com where I am celebrating #Canada150 with a daily post of an event celebrating our sesquicentennial in Canada.

I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net.

 

Elections should be easy for voters: Part One

RHBS 160In one year we will be in the middle of a writ period in Ontario. Leaders of all of Ontario’s main parties will tell you “this is the most important election Ontario has ever had”. Let’s be clear, every election is always more important than the last one – the future is at stake, the four year ‘near’ future.

Instead of talking about how this coming election was more important that the 2014 election, wouldn’t it be better if the next election was presented in such a way that voters would know what to expect and understand what will take place based on a “real” election promise, not something vague. Somethings about the needs of Ontarians that is real to them and will make a difference.

Election promises are made, some are kept and others, well…aren’t. But to be honest sometimes the promises don’t make sense and just provide an agenda (if you don’t like the platform) or plan (if you support the leader and the party) for a four year mandate. Here is a simple idea – a simple four year plan to the voters of what will take place until the next election on four major themes. If you think about what happens now, each year of spending is a pot pouri of promises without a specific theme. Budgets are like Mambo #5; a little bit for you, a little bit for that group and little bit here and there. Lets talk about changing that with thematic budgets that address specific areas of the lives of Ontarians.

Simply put there are four areas that matter to voters: Health Care; Education; the Environment and Energy. Yes, yes…there are other important areas, but they can exist in one or  more of the four sectors mentioned. Each year of the mandate would feature a budget that focuses on one sector and its sub-sectors. It could look something like this:

Year One: Health Care

Year Two: The Environment

Year Three: Energy

Year Four: Education

Here is my theory, you do health first because changing health care is like steering a oil tanker on the seas, turning around takes a long time – it can’t make that turn on dime.  It will take four years for changes made to be seen and felt  for Ontarians.  If it works then Ontarians will see improvement in how health care is delivered by the time the next election comes around. In the second year the Environment is the theme and ties into year three with Energy. In year four Education is addressed for action after studies and consultations are done in the first 2-3 years of the mandate. If successful the four year platform rolls out smoothly, is successful and sees positive results that will ensure a second mandate.

Now, it will be problematic if there is no plan to follow up four years of success. Think back to Mike Harris and his five priorities, he completed his five priorities successfully however without a plan that could follow them up and because of that, under Ernie Eves, the Ontario PC’s fizzled. The lack of additional priorities was death bell of the Ontario PC’s in 2003 and brought us McGuinty and Wynne – we know how that has worked for Ontario.

The needs of Ontario do not stand still, neither should election plans, but governments get tired and try to stay relevant based on yesterday’s success. In this series of posts, I will look at the possibilities of having a structured election plan. It may even be considered as free advice heading to the June 2018 Ontario election.

 

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. You can also see me on www.redheartbluelife.wordpress.com where I am celebrating #Canada150 with a daily post of an event celebrating our sesquicentennial in Canada.

I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net.

…on Mother’s Day

 

For a person that spent a great of his life in communications talking to others, I suck at communicating to members of my own family. Don’t read anything into this – there was no huge family squabble, no family fight at Thanksgiving or disgruntled Christmas dinner. When we get together everything is fine in fact the year I spent in Toronto meant that I was able to see my Mom and Dad. My brothers and sister talk to my parents more often than I do. I could use the distance between Ottawa and Toronto, but won’t.

It’s just me.

IMG_20170513_0105125You see though I have no reason, a lot of what I do and who I am is because of my mother. I learned to cook because my mom went to work when I was sixteen years old. It was nothing fancy, but it was the basics of cooking potatoes, vegetables and meatballs. Sometimes the meat was switched, but it was always a good Dutch meat and potatoes delicacy. Besides the cooking I also have to thank my mother for my unmatchable skills at loading a dishwasher, no one can load as much in to a dishwasher as I can with every dish getting spotless. I also learned how to iron a shirt by watching my mother iron my father’s shirts for work. I can proudly say that I can iron a shirt in less than nine minutes. The thing that changed my life the most after learning to iron is buying non-iron shirts – those 9 minutes each morning are precious.

I also learned from my mother and my father, because as a team they are unstoppable, is that devotion to your spouse tops everything; they have 60+ years of experience together to show for it. As my father gets set to turn 90 this year, I know it is rare to have both parents alive an in their 9th decade of their lives. I can see why it works; it is the love for each other, having a purpose to get out everyday and their church family.

On Mothers Day, as a son I have to perform well. I even ‘expressposted’ a card to make sure it reached my mother (it did – I checked the tracking number) and of course yes I will call on Mothers Day. While I don’t call as much as I should, there is not a day I do not think of them, pray for their continued good health and am so thankful that they a happy life together. Calling? I just need to do it more often after Mothers Day.

Happy Mothers Day

 

*The ceramic pot is from my mother’s mother, my Oma, and now sits in my kitchen as it did in my mom’s kitchen.

Book Review: “The Jersey Brothers” – A Compelling Page Turner

Jersey Brothers

If I were to draw a Venn diagram describing “The Jersey Brothers” there would be four circles intersecting with a larger circle that would be the war in the Pacific. While the war is in the forefront of the Mott-Cross family, it is merely the backdrop for all that takes place as three brothers and a mother fight for country and survival.   Do not get fooled thinking that The Jersey Brothers is the navy version of “Saving Private Ryan”. The Jersey Brothers reads like a well-crafted novel, but is a fact-based account of brothers Benny, Bill and Barton along with their mother Helen and their struggles that was 70 years in the making.

Sally Mott Freeman, daughter of brother Bill, researched and wrote The Jersey Brothers over ten years. She wisely leaves out observations of family relationships until the end in her epilogue. Using the information from Navy records, letters, diaries, accounts from fellow Navy Prisoners of War and until 10 years ago an unopened box of documents, letters and photos belonging to her Uncle, Barton Cross, The Jersey Brothers is a very compelling read. The facts surrounding the battles in the Pacific and the behind the battlefront activity is a history buff’s dream. From Pearl Harbour to Hiroshima and the end of World War II in Japan, Mott Freeman tells a brave story that leaves you pulling for an ending that everyone has fought for, but this is a war story.

The loyalty of the three men is tested by not being not only being able to know where the others are, but also by a loyalty to their mother who is suffering under the cloud of Navy protocol, privacy and the Navy’s number one priority of winning the War in the Pacific. While there are the personal accounts of suffering, depression and injury, the war goes on and The Jersey Brothers provides an account of actions by leaders in the White House, the Army and the Navy. Readers are given the backroom deliberations and arguments at sea and on land, the destruction of American battleships and the loss of tens of thousands of American soldiers. Reading of the Pacific War was a new experience for me – my knowledge was very limited, I started reading The Jersey Brothers as the 100th Anniversary of Battle of Vimy Ridge of The Great War was being commemorated in Canada and France.

Through many pages, I found myself hoping for that happy ending, only to be emotionally dragged through setbacks and disappointments. While in real life these events may need us to sit back and rest before moving forward, Mott Freeman drives us forward onto the next pages. Whether it’s Helen and her correspondence to government officials, her comfort in her garden or how her sons endure the ups and downs of the war, The Jersey Brothers is about the bond of family and the efforts each take to keep the ties alive through distance and desperation.

The Jersey Brothers takes us back, as a reminder that if at all possible a war on that scale, or any scale should never be fought again.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. You can also see me on www.redheartbluelife.wordpress.com where I am celebrating #Canada150 with a daily post of an event celebrating our sesquicentennial in Canada.

I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net.

It took me almost 40 years to read The Handmaids Tale

 

Handmaids TaleI never read The Handmaids Tale in high school. I graduated before the book was published. If I had though I am pretty sure I would not have “got it”. I didn’t have the life experience to comprehend what Margaret Atwood was writing about. I would have only learned through current life examples, at the time, through news or history lessons. When I graduated from Erindale Secondary School in Mississauga (in 1979) the only parallels to The Handmaids Tale I would’ve known of were the Khomeini in Iran and the Soviet Russia, which while severely cracked was still in one piece. If I were to read and discuss Atwood’s ‘1984’ in high school I would have been far too influenced by the teacher’s impressions. Honestly, at that time, it would have not made me enjoy the book.

It is only now, 38 years later that I can say I read The Handmaids Tale and enjoyed every page. This is not a knock on Margaret Atwood, but back then I was reading books about a fictional Canadian takeover of America by Richard Rohmer and music biographies. Yes, it is now after 38 years after graduating from high school that I could read the book, appreciate the book, understand the book and fear the outcome of a world that seems too real.

Margaret Wente in the Globe and Mail (April 29, 2017) wrote “Are we living the The Handmaids Tale?” (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/are-we-living-in-the-handmaids-tale/article34843333/) . Wente discusses the recent calls from Vanity Fair, The New Yorker that under recent events women’s rights are under attack. She says “…the book is regarded as prophetic…more than ever people are convinced that women’s rights are under threat…”.

Wente and others are not wrong, and as a man reading a book that reduces women to providers of children and to complete the simplest of duties it scares me to think what happens when some have too much influence. Maybe purposely, but they also forget that in The Handmaids Tale men to things – also reduced to simple chores, driving a car, gardening and impregnating the Handmaid.  In The Handmaids Tale we see that men are afforded certain luxuries taken from women – access to computers for work purposes only), information and reading. In the book we do not know what the Commander of the house does, where he goes from 9 – 5 and how he earns his status in the new state. His marriage is just a marriage, not a marriage – a partnership or something to enjoy – but never a marriage. To keep appearances, there are a lot of whispers, clandestine signals and prohibited rendezvous. The Commander and his wife are under the same roof, but do not live under it.

While not to the extent that the rights of women have been taken away, the Commander and others like him also lost in the Gilead.  The freedom and happiness that the Commander seeks can only be done in secret. His midnight meetings with his handmaid only to talk and play scrabble show us that in a world that creates a strict doctrine, it removes the simple joys of life we take for granted. The Commander has to sneak out with the handmaid to be able to have enjoyable sex with her, sex for procreating is not fun in Gilead – it is a job and if either person involved this duty fail, whatever little they have now is taken away. Banishment from the ‘good life’ and the few accommodations allowed in Gilead are removed.

Atwood correctly identifies that women are not things and portrays an image of what feminists fight for everyday. But, she also identifies that men also suffer under strict doctrines and in The Handmaids Tale while not advocating for what might be called masculinism, she is warning that under the control of few, the many lose.

After reading The Handmaids Tale, a friend of mine send a recommendation for more Atwood via Twitter:

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Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. You can also see me on www.redheartbluelife.wordpress.com where I am celebrating #Canada150 with a daily post of an event celebrating our sesquicentennial in Canada.

I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net.

O’Leary was Late

RHBS 156

For months Conservatives have been waiting for consolidation among the ranks of the 14 candidates vying for the Conservative Party leadership.   Most were expecting (and secretly hoping) that one, two – oh heck 4 or 5 candidates on the lower end of polls would exit the race, I wonder if they were wary of having their own David Orchard moment and getting promises that would never be realized? Whatever the reason, the time to leave the race came and went with no movement from the bottom.

The moment in question I mention is the date before ballots were printed. Whatever date it was – that day came and went with 14 candidates going to the printer for 259,010 Conservative Party members to mark the 1 through 10 preferences. Presumably the date to withdraw from the race would fall between February 24, 2017 – the day nominations closed and March 28th when membership sales ended. There might have been another week in there as the cut off, but without the party publishing the key milestone dates we’ll never know.

All we know is that 259,010 party members will receive a ballot with an O’Leary-less leadership ballot with O’Leary on the ballot.

RHBS 156

Why was O’Leary late is leaving the race? His name on the ballot leaves a lot of questions. These questions would have disappeared if Kevin O’Leary had left the race before the ballot sent to the printers. Kevin O’Leary is still going to be part of the leadership conversation, I am sure he would want it any other way.

Now that he is out, will his memberships move to Bernier? How many of O’Leary’s memberships will still mark Kevin as #1? How many ballots will never make it to a mailbox?

With an upper tier of the leadership that has been thinned out, what is there for the lower tiered candidates to gain from the ballot? Are there expectations of a victory or the opportunity to make a statement? In the final debate, candidates Trost and Obhrai both appealed to those watching by stating that they each had common ground with other candidates on the stage. Of the lower tier how does coming number two help? Who do they become number two to? Of Bernier, O’Toole, Scheer or maybe Raitt or Chong who do Leitch, Trost, Obhrai or Lemieux aim to be 2nd on the ballot to?

Will we see deals made between Bernier and Raitt? O’Toole and Scheer? Does Chong even rate a number based on his Carbon Tax stand? The only other candidate that has outlined an environmental plan is O’Toole, does Erin court Michael and visa versa?

Ballots came in the mail to our home today, while we might be 90-100% of who our #1 is, it’s the 2 through 10, or maybe only a 2, 3 and 4 that are the source of discussion. It is too early to tell which way our ballots will go. If you have a ballot, good luck and have fun figuring out how your ballot will look…I hope to see you in Toronto on May 27th.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. You can also see me on www.redheartbluelife.wordpress.com where I am celebrating #Canada150 with a daily post of an event celebrating our sesquicentennial in Canada.

I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net.