Monthly Archives: August 2016

#114 August: How did I do?

C minus

At the start of the month I wrote “What? It’s August? Already?” I mentioned that I would make up for a month of no posts with more activity on this blog. I wrote about writing more, promising posts as follow-ups to previous blog entries and bringing other writers to you by re-blogging quality writers.

Let’s see how August turned out; 7 blog posts (including this) were uploaded, it surpasses any other month in the past 12 months. In June I posted 6 times, I am trending up but not enough. The post I am proudest of is #113 The Art and responsibility of an Apology. If you have not read it please do and let me know if you agree with me or not, don’t hold back.  That post was my second most viewed post in the month, just behind #110 8 Days in July: Clinton 2.0.  Ironically, my post about Trump (#109 8 Days in July: The GOP) barely registered compared to the others in the month.

I also talked about a vlog I’ve planned “Pint of View”, it has moved forward, I have not recorded the test but the content has been developed and it just needs me to have the guts to record it and watch the outcome of the test.

Now, we move to September, a month were the lazy pace of the summer is taken over by the hustle and bustle of back to school and Parliament coming back in Toronto and Ottawa. These fast paced days will provide fodder for blogs and I will be posting more in September than in August – up is the only way to go.

My request you, to everyone that reads this or my others posts is click on “follow” and be alerted when a new post is up and ready for you.

For August I will give myself a C-, and I can do much better. I hope you will pleased with how September works out for me as the writer and you as the reader.

Thank you for reading this post, to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. I can be found on Twitter @robertdekker & @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.

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#113 The art and responsibility of an apology

Sorry

An apology is only as good as the actions that follow it.   If the actions don`t match the words then what? Why apologize?

In 1984, Prime Minister Trudeau said when replying to then Opposition Leader Mulroney for the demand to apologize to Japanese Canadians “How many other historical wrongs would you have to be righted?” ( http://thewalrus.ca/a-sorry-state/) Trudeau warned us about the Pandora’s Box that would be opened with that initial apology.

Since Mulroney’s 1988 apology there have been another five apologies from the Canadian government. The latest recently took place on August 16th 2016, an apology to the Manitoba Sayisi Dene First Nation for its forced relocation in 1956. (http://thechronicleherald.ca/canada/1389049-text-of-federal-governments-apology-to-manitoba-dene)

Was Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau right?

In its almost 150 years, the Government of Canada has issued a handful of official apologies.

1988 – Apology for the internment of Japanese Canadians

2001 – Apology for the execution of 23 Canadian Soldiers for desertion in WW1

2008 – Apology to First Nations for Residential Schools

2006 – Chinese Head Tax

2016 – Turning away of Komagata Maru

2016 – Relocation of the Manitoba Sayisi Dene First Nation

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is set to give his third apology this year for the persecution of sexual minorities in Canada.

If the government is in the mood for apologies, I can think of a couple historical missteps that are long overdue for an apology.

My first suggestion is an apology to women for denying the right to vote. Women were given the right to vote in 1921, but it was not until actions in the 1940’s and finally in 1960 when ALL women were given the right to vote in Canada. From this apology the government could act further correct another injustice, to ensure ‘equal pay for equal work’ legislation is introduced and passed.

If an apology can truly spur action, an apology to those living in poverty is long overdue. The Government of Canada has been trying to solve poverty since 1836, but even then the Charity Aid Act left the care of the poor to churches and charity. Today, the Municipal, Provincial and Federal governments still have not figured this out. Money is being thrown at this problem and poverty is still with us. Maybe the words “I am sorry, government in Canada has failed millions of Canadians since Confederation” will be the stimulus needed to eliminate poverty and poor health.

Wouldn’t #Canada150 be the perfect backdrop to apologize and name “eradicating poverty” as Canada’s National Sesquicentennial Project?

As Canadians we are infamous for being ‘sorry’, if we’re going to apologize let’s make sure we follow up the words with actions, concrete actions that bring something good from an act of stating how sorry we really are.

Thank you for reading this post, to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. I can be found on Twitter @robertdekker & @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.

#112 Building a safer community

NOTE: This is a longer post than I normally put out, but to express completely what I wanted to say required a longer than normal piece, I hope you enjoy it.  Please provide your feedback, I look forward to hearing from you.

Community Safety

In post #111 I wrote about how the change in policing is out of our hands and in the hands of the Ontario government. A new Police Services Act is due to be introduced in Queens Park following the multiple Safer Communities consultations. Former Community Safety and Corrections Minister Yasir Naqvi was hot on the trail for changes in policing before he was shuffled to take over the Attorney General Ministry. New Minister David Orazietti has not said much about any new legislation until this week’s Association of Municipalities conference.

During the Safer Communities meetings you could decipher which direction the government was heading by the questions it asked.

In the “Safer Communities” consultation, themes discussed were:

Community Safety and Well-Being; The Role of the Police Officer in the 21st Century; Education and Training;  Accountability to the Public

Around these themes the following questions were asked:

In what way can the relationship between the police and members of your community, including vulnerable people, be improved?

What public safety roles personnel other than police officers, in your community, could do?

What, if any, forms of technology would improve community safety?

What should be the required minimum level of education for new recruits?

What police skills do you think are the most important?

Looking at some of these questions, there is a subtle direction from the government to take the police, or some of them, out of traditional police roles and to put them in the community. However I want to concentrate on two specifics in making our communities safer.

Safer Onatrio

I do think the most important question that we need to spend a lot of energy on when it comes to policing is how we protect the vulnerable in our community. Until as a society we can treat and provide shelter for those with mental illness in a true caring manner we need to adjust how we protect those with metal illness and also prevent harm being done to others by the vulnerable.   Should the police be taken out of the equation when a call comes where mental distress is at the centre of the issue is that the answer. There is talk of having social workers trained in these areas ride with police in a so-called Community Care Cruiser. This would be impractical as not all calls are about mental illness vulnerability and in other calls it places these social workers in a line of potential harm.

The government and policing itself needs to strongly consider police officers with social worker training and education as part of a specialized unit to work with healthcare workers and shelter providers protecting the vulnerable and being to diffuse very sensitive and troubling situations. It would take time, perhaps years to have these fully functional, staffed and running – but consider how the outcome of Abdirahman Abdi could have been different with such units in place in Ottawa.

Another of the interesting debates that I heard was around what educational background our new recruits should have. It was overshadowed by the larger topic of what skills a police officer should have. In one session 73% thought a new recruit should have a college or university education while only 23% believed a high school or equivalent diploma should be the minimum needed.

For a while I was part of the 73% that is until I spoke to a friend of mine who is in the policing community. The sense of the question was ‘do we get rid of high school graduates and require a higher education prerequisite?’ As I stated, I was part of the 73%. My friend put a strong case forward for recruits that join a force with no post secondary education. It was her experience that these police bring a skill set that education cannot teach – compassion, humanity and a down to earth temperament that is needed and cannot be taught. These police may not rise high in a force, but they can turn a force from being about policing to one about being part of a community. Understanding that we want our police to reflect our community it should mirror our society, we need to allow all educational backgrounds to have the chance to serve in our community in a policing role. If the government places an educational background minimum higher that high school our communities lose the opportunity to reflect our Ottawa and our Ontario. You can now put me in that 23%

A new Police Services Act is due to be introduced early fall following these consultations. Asked at the municipalities’ conference when the new legislation would be introduced, the Minister said “We will do our best for the fall, but it is not definite. We want full discussion.” When that legislation is introduced the public will have further opportunity to provide input into the conversation. Recent events involving police in Ottawa and other centers will certainly motivate the outspoken to appear. It is important that all temperaments towards policing speak to give a balanced view for the government to hear.

We don’t know where this will lead, but the government certainly has built a path they want us to take.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. I can be found on Twitter @robertdekker & @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.

#111: How the Police police is out of our hands (for now)

police line

A couple of weeks ago, something sad, tragic happened and it is dividing Ottawa. The death of Abdirahman Abdi is dividing the city into to those that want change now and those that are willing to wait to see what change is required because of the sad and tragic event as a result of the investigation.

The true action to make any course corrections will not happen for some time and it will not happen at the hands of the Mayor of Ottawa or the City’s Chief of Police. The only action that can dictate how and what the changes are going to be, lie in the hands of the Provincial government.

Earlier this year the Ontario government under the watchful eye of then Community Safety and Correctional Services Minister Yasir Naqvi public consultations (https://www.ontario.ca/page/police-police-services-and-community-safety?_ga=1.237265224.936783100.1470845902) took place on the future of policing in this province. I attended two of these consultations, one in Toronto in one here in Ottawa. From what I heard in both sessions, policing in Ontario is both good and bad. One city thought policing was in need of an overhaul and the other thought it was going in the right direction. Can you wager a guess which city went one way and which went the other?

The Toronto meeting had room for 120 people, it was barely 60% to capacity and of that 60%, 20% were government types that wanted to hear what the public thought. There were non-profit organizations in attendance, professional organizations were there and many individuals from the community. There were NO recognized Police or Police Union representatives in attendance and no public figures (except Naqvi). Those that did speak, spoke loudly against police actions and how there is lack of understanding by police.

In Ottawa, there were members of the public, community individuals, representatives from the Police Association, health officials, some private security guards and one person who is an OC Transpo Constable. I estimate that 100 people attended the meeting, but surprising me was the number of people that were part of the Ottawa Police Services Community Services (COMPAC), civilian members of the Ottawa Police Services. The many representatives from COMPAC seemed to take over the meeting often repeating the virtues of COMPAC, especially when concerns about policing in Ottawa were raised. The problem with COMPAC promoting what they do is many of those that are concerned about the police are also fearful of them and would not find going to a COMPAC representative as an alternative.

Between the two sessions, the common theme was how to have police respond to calls that are a result of people suffering from mental illness. This alone not only causes the public, but also the Police the greatest frustration. There is a lack of knowledge of how anyone can handle these calls and ensure that no one is harmed and that anyone suffering from mental illness does not harm themselves, others or suffer from others because of how they may react in a stressful situation.

The issue for consideration is whether public input will have its role in the final recommendations that will come out of these consultations. Which meetings will have greater weighting – the Toronto-type sessions or meetings that resembled what I heard in Ottawa?

All we can do now is wait for the new Community Safety Minister Orazietti to release the report from the consultations and look for the recommendations. While we wait for that, my follow up to this post will provide more information on what the province was consulting on, specifically what questions were asked in the public meetings. It may give some light into the direction the government wants to go with building safer communities.

Thank you for reading this post, to catch all my posts and to be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. I can be found on Twitter @robertdekker & @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.

#110: 8 Days in July Part II Clinton 2.0

DNC on Philly

For 8 days in July our household was glued to CNN on TV and in the Car (via Sirius XM) attending to every word said, reported, critiqued and debated during the two Presidential Nomination meetings. I have Liberal friends who can’t vote Democrat and I have Conservative friends who won’t go work for Trump like they did for Romney in 2012. As a Red Tory I can float between the two party’s depending on who the candidate was. As I mentioned in Part I, my ideal Republican Presidential Candidate from day 1 of the primary season was Jeb Bush.

As for the Democrats, I was a fan of Clinton 1.0, he was a leader at the time it was needed – he connected to the people and he could speak! He commanded attention when he spoke. As for Clinton 2.0, I admired her. I read her book “Hard Choices” and was impressed with her handling of world affairs. though many continue to debate her success at the job there can be no denial that being as close as she was to the Presidency gave her a view many of the candidates did not have.

Through the primary season, the democrats put on a show! Hillary Clinton vs The Bern! Bernie Sanders looked like your father, he spoke and lectured young people like your grandfather did – but everyone listened to every single word he said. He was the sane version of Donald Trump; speak in a plain language without the insults and childish name-calling.

Hillary was the front-runner from the day Barack Obama was sworn into office for his second term in January 2013. It was only a matter of time before she would be the confirmed candidate, except that no one told Bernie Sanders.

What ever you thought of the Republican Convention the week before – the Democratic Convention was the opposite. It was planned and orchestrated perfectly. Speakers were on time and the only speakers that really went late into the evening where the headliners; the First Lady and President; Michelle and Barack. President Clinton spoke as well, proving once again that he is one of the finest orators of our generation. While he was supposed to speak about Hillary, I was disappointed there was not one mention of the possibility of him becoming America’s 1st Gentleman of the White House.

The convention did not see, nor did it need, the distraction of the leak of DNC emails that cost Debbie Wasserman Shultz her time in the spotlight as the Chair of the convention.

But in the end, he Democratic convention was what a convention has and should always look like – there was a love in between Sanders and Clinton and when it was all done about 50,000 balloons must have fallen from the ceiling of the arena.

But, there are cracks that need to be watched come November. IF Hilary cannot win the White house from Trump, the result will not by unlike what Donald Trump has been able to corral in the Republican Party. While Sanders will not run again, there will be others that will take up the cause of Bernie and turn the Democratic Party on its head and the establishment of the party will be hard pressed to stop what may be coming.

Thanks for reading this post, please follow me on WordPress to be notified of when I post my next blog.  I can also be found on Twitter @robertdekker@rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.

 

rhbs109: 8 Days in July Part I: The GOP

RNC in CLE

For 8 days in July our household was glued to CNN on TV and in the Car (via Sirius XM) attendive to every word said, reported, critiqued and debated during the two Presidential Nomination meetings. Having watched through the primary season right to the Republican and Democratic Conventions I have the idea that no one is jumping for hallelujah over either of these candidates.

First the Republicans. I heard an interesting idea that what the Republican party is facing this election cycle is a direct result of the 2012 re-election of Barack Obama, or more importantly the inability of the Romney/Ryan ticket to win. The right was frustrated with the selection of Mitt Romney and the lack of success he had one November four years ago. The registered members of the Republican Party looked at the establishment and thumbed its nose at it this election cycle. Who ever could have thought that political heavyweights like Jeb Bush, Chris Christie and Ted Cruz would be tossed aside so easily by Donald Trump.

I was NOT a fan of George W Bush, however I liked Jeb; he was a Bush I could support, he had the right temperament I liked in a leader and a kindness in his way of working with people. If there was another candidate I would have liked to see be the lead on the Republican ticket it was Governor Christie. Here was a Republican that liked the Democratic White House and was liked back by the Democrats. He was one person I thought would have a line of Democrats voting for him.

But 16 candidates later left standing is Donald J Trump, through bravado, name calling and taking on the role of the schoolyard bully, he won the Republican nomination.

The convention was the Trump show, with not one, but 5 Trumps AND Donald taking the podium to speak. His rivals were given the opportunity to speak, most refused. Kasich stayed home, Rubio may not have been given a offer and Cruz spoke but was eventually booed for the non-endorsement of Trump AND was up staged by Donald Trump walking into the arena as Cruz was wrapping up. He was so up staged the cameras did not even show Cruz walking off the stage. I have been to conventions where there has been chaos, but it never shows because organizers control how the message went out. In Cleveland it was as if the chaos was planned and the Trump campaign wanted to have the disarray that was on display each night.

By the end of the fourth night, there was this very impressive display by Donald Trump who spoke for 75 minutes. 75 Minutes! No water, not a cough, not a bead of sweat and not a stumble. Likely there was not even a teleprompter for a portion of the speech.

I watched and considered that I had seen this all before, but in a cinematic form – the speeches and the show of the convention reminded me of “The Hunger Games”, except in those movies the young heroine saves the day. There was no Katniss in Cleveland.

Part II: The Democrats

 

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rhbs108: What? It’s August? Already?

july to august

 

…and just like that, it is August…

I realized that it’s the start of August today, July is gone.

There are times when it is best to keep it simple. July was that time, making sure there was time at the end of the day to chill and make sure everyone is alright and leaving the other stuff for another day – or in my case another month.

It is not like I planned not to post, it’s just what happened. But now that it has happened I need, make that want, to get back up and continue sharing with you. I had made some noise a while back about sharing posts of other bloggers and in my post “More than a Coat of Paint” (June 2016), some promises where made about follow up pieces talking about the Ontario government and what we have had to endure for the past few years under the “leadership” of Kathleen Wynne. I will get those up and, as well will share the content of some bloggers from around the world and here in Canada.

I have been planning something new for you called “Pint of View”, it came out of a discussion with a friend and former co-worker of mine who sadly passed away a couple of months ago. I had talked about her and mused about the future in the post from February “Between a Blog and Hard Place”.  Laurel came up with the title and through a continued online chat, a format and was born for a short video blog – a vlog.  The idea is that each post will be no more than between 3 and 5 minutes long and would be topic I would share over a pint, as I would with a friend at a bar, on my balcony or even while driving my car. As I get prepared to launch it,  I am getting set with trial runs and editing to make sure it looks and sounds good – something to be proud of. I hope that it will be live soon and up available on You Tube.

For today, August 1st, I say bah-bye to July and cheers to a new month, it will be a productive, fun and worthwhile effort for me, and I hope you will agree and find it just as enjoyable.

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