Monthly Archives: November 2011

#NoMoreBullies

Today’s announcement by Premier McGuinty that new Anti-Bullying Legislation  ( http://tiny.cc/knlrw ) will be introduced in Queens Park is welcome for not only what it will accomplish in the short term, but what it could do in the long term.

The legislation will undoubtedly have support from all parties as it will make all students feel more comfortable in how to deal with bullies but it will also make bullying the new stigma that society can no longer let go without action.  Nepean Carleton MPP Lisa Macleod  who spoke out against bullying in Queens Park in the first weeks of the new session is working with Ottawa Centre MPP Yasir Naqvi and Allan Hubley, Ottawa Councillor for Kanata South,  to build on this legislation (http://www.cfra.com/?cat=1&nid=83026 ).

So while the legislation will have a great response to how we will help those in school yards and hallways look after themselves and know where to find help, the echo of its success will be felt years later.

There is no scientific evidence to support that those that bully others in the schools go on to continue to bully as they become adults and may commit even more dangerous crimes.  This announcement helps lay the foundation to help adults that are victims of being bullied to know how and where to find the help needed without feeling shame or have to fear retaliation.

There are many wonderful organizations that are working to help children deal with bullies in school and in the neighbourhoods.  Kids Help Phone ( www.kidshelpphone.ca ), the Distress Centre – Ottawa and Region ( www.dcottawa.on.ca ) are working with the Do it for Daron Foundation ( www.doitfordaron.com ) in Ottawa and across Canada and the US to Teens and Youth in distress.
This legislation could have a long lasting positive impact on Ontario’s children.  Lessons and strategies our children learn today will have a bigger impact as they become adults and have their own children.

I can be found Twitter @robertdekker and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97

Advertisements

Their way or the highway

Yasir Naqvi is not going to like this…

I don’t expect that Yasir and I agree on how Ontario should be run, we both want the best for Ontario BUT would go about it in different ways.  Yasir and his Ontario Liberals are continuing to spend their way out of the economy tailspin they put us in.  The latest Speech from the Throne which was titled “Moving Ontario forward” should be renamed “A speech from the ruins” as it lacked any ideas or plans to reduce the deficit and debt built over the course of 8 years of Premier McGuinty.

In came more money to be spent and money given away.

No needed spending cuts, public sector wage freezes or caps.

No breaks for working families (which are part of their 3rd party coalition) on ‘luxuries like home heating’.

It did not come with a plan for Health care that will take Ontario into 2030 and beyond.

It did not come with ideas that will be supported by all three parties in the House.

It did not come with any thread of the spirit of cooperation a Minority Government should have.

In short, the throne speech was all the Liberal Promises threaded together into one document.  The Speech is a series of announcements that were rejected by 62.4% of Ontario voters in the October election.

The Liberals highway of good intentions to work with the PC and NDP parties is covered with nails.

This week the government was defeated on a bill introduced by the NDP and seconded by the PC Party to remove the Ontario 8% portion of the HST on home heating and hydro.  The vote was 54-50 in favour of the opposition.  Finance Minister Dwight Duncan has come out and indicated the Government would kill the bill and let it lie and never be called for a final vote.

Liberal priorities lie elsewhere according to John Milloy the Government House leader.  Indeed they do, for their priorities do not lie with helping Ontario families to live within their budgets.  They do not lie in making Universities and Colleges accountable for increased education.
They do not lie in recognizing that spending should never be more than revenues.

They do not lie in reining in the cost of public sector wages.

And they do not lie in building a cooperative 41st sitting of the Ontario Legislature.

Watch out for the nails on the road.

Advisory vs. Advocacy

After a read of Joanne Chianello’s great piece on the role of Advisory Committee’s Saturday November 19th (click the link to read it here http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/Good+ideas+city+hall/5736007/story.html) I wanted to add a few comments after having sat on the Roads and Cycling Advisory Committee (RCAC) up until October of this year.

City Council needs to recognize the Advisory Committees (AC) as a resource for their direct connection to the residents and the concerns and comments they bring.  As a Member of RCAC we met to discuss Road AND Cycling issues.  The committee would hear from concerned citizens and City staff about many issues including some that stand out, like:

  • The Ottawa Bike Plan
  • Bike path Networks and missing links
  • eBikes
  • Multi use Pathways (perhaps including the one mentioned in the piece by Joanne Chianello)
  • Laurier Segregated Bike Lanes
  • Road construction
  • Transit issues (Bus bays)
  • Ring and Post bike parking
  • Bike parking in the market
  • Bike training and Road safety
  • LRT and many others

RCAC was consulted by and worked very well with City Staff.  RCAC members would attend Public information nights and consultations on many projects as well as sit on RCAC Sub-Committees and all this was done for FREE!

Our interactions with other ACs were limited, but on several occasions RCAC held joint meetings with the Pedestrian and Transit AC.  But our meetings were conducted professionally and with guidance from outstanding City staff.  I cannot comment about the AC that works in bare feet I guess that would be the exception rather than how the ACs regularly works.

I also recognize that RCAC would not be as effect as it is without the leadership of the Chair Michael Powell, a dedicated Ottawa resident that cares about the city.  Though it may or may not have been required (it is an item of ongoing debate) a Work Plan was created and updated each year as a guide for RCAC to follow to ensure it met its requirements as a Committee of the City.  I would certainly recommend that each AC have and update a workplan, whether the City Council asks for it or not.  The workplan provides a measure of accountability for the AC which can only help to ensure the AC’s remain as part of City governance.

There are ways to help the AC’s; City Councillors could attend a meeting of an AC (as a member of a City Committee i.e. planning) that would make recommendations to their committee.

As Perry Marleau (@PerryMarleau) mentioned on Twitter in response to Ms. Chianello’s column:: “Want real changes at #OTTCityAdvisory Committees? Get the Chairs and V-C together for consultation process.

I also suggest that AC Chairs and Vice-Chairs meet with City Committee Chairs to have both sides understand how they help each other.  The value of the ACs greatly out paces the $400K that is budgeted for them; it is a forum where residents can express their opinions in greater detail.  It would be a shame that the Advisory Committees might be seen as not needed, this public forum is important and should be treated as such.

Showing OCTranspo Drivers some L-O-V-E

OC Transpo drivers have not been shown the love lately, so I have decided that the most visible City of Ottawa worker needs some support for the work they do.  Here are ways we can spread a little affection their way.

O – Offer a “Hello” when you board the to the Bus Driver

C – Complain and Compliment if you must to 613-842-3600 or here http://tiny.cc/7x2gu

T – Time, a driver knows when they are behind, they can’t always control it

R – Remember that the bus is the Drivers workplace, Respect the space they need to drive

A – Allow for a bad day, cranky customers will affect everyone some way on some days

N – No one wants to make sure you have a good ride to or from work more than your driver

S – Smiles make a day go a lot better

P – Patience as the City works though route optimization and crowded buses

O- Offer a “Thank You” to the Driver when you leave the bus

If there is anything that could be fixed call OC Transpo, your Councillor or Councillor Deans, the Chair of the Transit Commission.

To find contact information for your Councillor click here: http://ottawa.ca/city_hall/mayor_council/councillors/index_en.html

The Owl and the Eagle

In the Ontario Legislature there is an Owl and an Eagle carved in the woodwork.  The Eagle is representative of the Opposition Parties, always on watch over the actions of the Government.  The Owl is the eyes and ears of the Governing Party.

MPP’s return to Queen’s Park on November 21st with the election of the Speaker of the House and the next day brings the Speech from the Throne delivered by Lieutenant-Governor David C. Onley.

What kind of Opposition can Premier McGuinty expect to face?  Having a Majority for the past eight years has meant that he really did not have to listen or for that matter care what came from the other side of the aisle separating Government from Opposition.  Times have changed and though he still has yet to admit it, the Liberals will have to be like the carved Owl that represents the Ontario Government.  The Owl is in the Ontario Legislature to remind the government to be wise and to listen to what the Opposition saying.

What type of Opposition will Tim Hudak and Andrea Howarth be?

Both leaders are entering the 40th sitting of the Ontario Parliament with more seats and more power.  After the likely election of a Liberal MPP to the Speakers Chair, the Opposition will hold a 54-52 edge in Queens Park.

At a volunteer ‘thank you’ event for the Ottawa area ridings, Tim Hudak demonstrated his excitement at leading the opposition by calling on Dalton McGuinty to take the creation of jobs, improving the economy and attacking the deficit/debt with the seriousness it deserves.  Hudak talked about a stronger PC Opposition that will hold the Liberals to account and make sure that the government is held responsible for its actions but more importantly inaction on the issues that Ontarians expect the government to be answerable for.

While both Howarth and Hudak have questioned the Premier’s lack of contact leading up to the start of the new session, the Premier is only too happy to let Question Period be the only opportunity that the Opposition Leaders will have to speak to him.  Howarth has said We have a minority parliament, so it seems to me that the smart thing to do would be to sit down with the other leaders and have a high-level conversation. Just having that high-level conversation I think would be very helpful and very productive, and it’s disappointing it’s not happening.”

The Liberals have offered up Dwight Duncan as an alternative to the Premier, and only done so in writing.  That offering seems to be the same as having the other team’s  second- string goalie going up against your top scorers in a shootout because they know they still get one point for losing the game in OT.  It is not a move that respects the status that both Howarth and Hudak deserve as party leaders.

The chances of the three leaders having that discussion before the resumption of the legislature grow slimmer as Hudak and Howarth can be expected to be away from Queens Park touring the province thanking volunteers and speaking with their candidates.

Will the ‘confidence’ of the Premier come back to haunt or help him, will he give a ‘hoot’?

Will the snub of the Premier’s office drive the Opposition to be the eagle hunting the owl?

Is it time to close one camp so another larger camp can open?

While Occupy Vancouver, Victoria and Quebec City prepare to be shut down by city officials wouldn’t it be good to hear that one site will close so that greater opportunities to spread the message can be created?

Which City will claim the prize of having the bravest Occupiers of making such a move?

Which Occupiers will see that there is a greater good by changing the method of spreading the message through the mediums that the so called 1% use?  Would this move legitimize the Occupy movement?  OR?  Would it galvanize the movement and force its supporters to show where their support truly lies?

There are many different segments of our society that have shown support for the Occupiers in the past weeks in many cities.  There are the churches that have sent food and water, the sporting goods stores that have donated socks and other warm clothing, the government agencies that have not forced the occupiers out and allowed them to remain as long as they are peaceful and respectful and there are the unions that are providing some much needed amenities.

Here is the thing for me, I don’t get it.  I get why they are occupying in the US, but not so much here in Canada.  Yes there are inequities and a huge imbalance between the haves and the have-nots.  I am quite certain that I am not part of the 1%, but am I part of the 99%?  I do not think that I am alone in this thinking.  The Occupiers have yet to hit a note that really strikes a chord with me on why they are camping in Confederation Park. They have not defined why they are there to a single point like Occupy Wall Street has.  I have been reading every account I can from different sources to try to get a sense of what Occupy Canada is about.  I have also been watching the updates posted by VideoManOttawa on You Tube.  Danno, under the guise of VideoManOttawa, has been going to the Occupy Ottawa site and recording the spokespersons and giving them an outlet where Mainstream Media has not.  You can find his updates here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_profilepage&v=z1ytLM1Rkmc.

I am proud that I ran as a Progressive Conservative in Ottawa Centre in the provincial election, the PC Party platform was the only one that was designed to help those in Ontario that needed the help, from lower taxes, reduced HST and the removal of a claw back in Ontario Works and ODSP benefits.  These moves were something that should  have  resonanted with the organizers, supporters and many of the 99% that Occupy Ottawa says they represent.

While no one has asked Occupy Ottawa to leave Confederation Park…yet, it may be time for the organizers to rethink the strategies in place and move the protest from the landscape of the park to the political landscape on the Municipal, Provincial and Federal fronts.  What this will reveal maybe the most interesting part of the Occupy phenomenon.  The political affiliations and political players that come forward would be more than enough to bring the main stream media back to report on the Occupy Movement and if it doesn’t, the political cold shoulder will be easier to the take than the cold winds whipping through the park in an Ottawa winter storm in January.