Monthly Archives: December 2016

Surprises of 2016

joey

2016, the year that is about to pass gave us a few surprises, though the surprises that came in the form of the deaths of many great entertainers and leaders provided the saddest of surprises.   For the year that was to be of #SunnyWays, there were many dark days.

February 3, 1959 was the day “that the music died”, 2016 is becoming the year that took the best of music from us, starting with David Bowie in January, two thirds of Emerson (March), Lake (December) & Palmer and closing out (hopefully) with George Michael on Christmas Day. CNN provided a look back http://www.edition.cnn.com/2016/12/26/entertainment/musician-deaths-2016-year-music-died/index.html.

The Rolling Stones #BlueandLonesome Lp is the best thing they have put out in many years.

David Bowie produced a masterpiece even while knowing he was dying.

Some Toronto sports teams were good! The Raptors, Blue Jays and Toronto FC challenged for league titles.

Ontario by-election results in Scarborough-Rouge River (expected the worse) and Ottawa Vanier (expected better).

Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens was SO GOOD (No surprise there).

That I was back in Ottawa after 10 months in Queens Park and that I would be busier with one file to monitor and advise on than I was with 7 in Toronto.

The Tragically Hip delivered one of their best yet on vinyl  – and on stage they delivered a show for a Nation.

Henry Burris, the Ottawa Redblacks AND becoming #GreyCup104 Champions.

The collapse of the leadership of Thomas Mulcair at the NDP Conventions and that the assumed frontrunners for the party leadership have stepped aside and decided not to run.

There are still 14, FOURTEEN, contenders for the Leadership of Conservative Party of Canada.

It was a banner year for books about musicians with biographies about Springsteen, McCartney, Robertson, Collins and Wilson all marking pages.

Kathleen Wynne is still here.

Hilary Rodham Clinton.

Donald J Trump.

What surprised you in 2016?

Finally, thank you for reading #RedheartBlueSign in 2016. With 45 posts, 1000 visitors and over 1300 views it was a good year. I look forward to continuing that in 2017 – with you along with me. Thank You!

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 for what I see, hear and read.

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

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132: Hope, the ultimate pay-it-forward (better than coffee)

hopeI have a friend who likes to debate with me (and anyone else who dares try to talk to him about it) about hope,  believing in a higher spirit/God and its benefits. He says he does not deal with the positive or negative, but in facts – they will drive what he believes. My argument to him is what do we have without hope? What reason do we have to get out of bed each morning? Like many, I have my share of mornings where bed was the safest place to be, to stay, so no one could hurt me. I could pull the covers up and cry if I wanted or just close my eyes and see what the world looked or felt like when I opened them again.

I agree that on the surface, some of the facts we see each day present a pretty gloomy picture. To that I would say, scratch the surface, go a few layers down and then tell me what you see, are there people, organizations and actions happening that demonstrate a brighter side that will come – but in time. What drives those people, organizations and actions? Can all these come together without a higher calling that calls us to act? Does it really matter where our individual sense of hope comes from? If we have hope – then we act on it. Acting on our belief in hope is like paying it forward. It’s not unlike having the person in front of you in the drive thru lane pay for your coffee.

For the days where I wonder where my hope has gone, I always remember where it came from. For my friend, religion was a bad experience; I thankfully had the opposite experience. As a kid you don’t always want to church but we went, I never recall a Sunday thinking ‘wow, there’s a couple of hours I’ll never get back.’

I don’t know how my brothers and sister felt about the bible readings after dinner on Sundays – but I was never bored with them. My church upbringing lead me to be coming a Youth Leader at Summer camp and in Church both home in Mississauga and in Ottawa many years later. It for a while almost led me to down the path of becoming a Minister. For whatever reason that never happened, but there was never any regret for doing any of those things.  Those days gave me hope, they still do.

My friend often quotes Sir Winston Churchill as being the only world leader that saw the menace of Adolf Hitler as he reflects on his considerations of world affairs today. I dare say that while Churchill saw things others didn’t or ignored – he had hope. As hopeless as he feels our conversations about religion being a source of hope and good are, I hold out for the day where there might be a hint of consideration that I might have a wee tiny slice of credibility in my argument.

Hope is the invisible and ultimate pay it forward moment for a better day that makes tomorrow a reason for getting out of bed.

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 for what I see, hear and read.

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

131: Will the case for a Downtown Library borrow from the Civic Hospital lesson?

mckenny-mckenna

Ottawa is getting a new library (a partnership with the Library and Archives Canada) in a few years and like anything else in this city (read Post 129 Hospital Hopscotch: https://redheartbluesign.wordpress.com/2016/12/05/129-hospital-hopscotch/) ) there is controversy! That we know what other sites were being consdered was due to the Library Board previously deciding that the only site Ottawans needed to know about was the final site. Because of the brohaha created by Somerset Councillor Catherine McKenny, the Library board did agree to release the locations of all sites be cosidered.

We heard that the new Ottawa Central Library will be located about one kilometre west of the current Central Library location at Metcalfe and Laurier which currently  serves as the Downtown ‘local’ branch for tens of thousands that consider the downtown their home. By moving the Central Library into new spiffy digs on the edge of LeBretn Flats, will downtowners follow the LRT line down to the new location?

Two groups are fighting to keep a Centretown/Downtown location alive. Bookmark the Core and the Centretown Citizens Community Association (CCCA) have been busy working to keep the new location in the core. The announcement this week has the downtown users just on the edge of being able to call it downtown. The CCCA even sent Ottawa Centre MP Catherine McKenna a letter hoping that she would do for Centertown and the library what she did for the Ottawa Civic Hospital, they use the words “…in admiration for what you achieved in ensuring transparency…”. MP McKenna has not said anything publicly (that have read anywhere) about the new proposed library site, and considering how her ‘input’ into the Civic hospital site decision (you really should read Post 129: Hospital Hopscotch) is being viewed she will likely stay out of this battle.

There is one thing that the City and the Ottawa Library Board needs to address, if what Library Chief Executive Danielle McDonald said was true and that the current central library location also serves as the downtown branch, where will the downtown branch considered to be? LeBreton Flats? Will Centertowners haul their book bag to the Old Ottawa South Sunnyside Branch or will they head to Sandy Hill?

There will be a need for a smaller Downtown branch to serve the people that not only live in the core, but work in the core. 25% of users of the current Central branch work or live in the downtown. But, will they walk the extra 1 kilometer west or hop on the LRT to the new location?

If there could be a new “local” downtown branch where could it be? It would have to be in a building currently owned by the City, with Ottawa spending perhaps $100M for a new Central Library there will be no money available to build a new downtown branch. There are very few locations that would be suitable. Perhaps a building currrently being used by the City that has an ice rink nearby would have some space for a small library to serve us Centretowners?

City Council votes on the proposed site in February and it is unlikely that lightening will strike twice and what happened in the case of the Ottawa Hospital will also take place with the Ottawa Central Library.

Before the vote at council, Somerset Councilor McKenny will be joined by the other members of the Ottawa Council Urban Caucus (Tobi Nussbaum, Jeff Lieper, Mathie Fleury and David Chernushenko) and host a public open house on the new Central Library on January 18, 2017 at City Hall starting at 6pm. To prepare for that meeting, read more on what McKenny and Nussbaum have to say in this piece written for the Ottawa Citizen, http://ottawacitizen.com/opinion/columnists/mckenney-and-nussbaum-three-questions-about-the-central-librarys-proposed-site.

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.

130: This could be a Pivotal Day

I witnessed in the House of Commons a day that could be pivotal for both the Conservative Party and the government.

Yesterday the Conservatives and Leader Rona Ambrose had enough of Justin Trudeau, his Ministers and their canned responses to Question Period.

Let’s set the stage. Lakeland Alberta MP Shannon Stubbs asked the Prime Minister about the loss of 200 jobs with the closing of the Immigration Canada office in Vegreville Alberta. The government has said it will offer all 200 employees a position in the new Edmonton office over 100 kilometers and one hour away from their homes.

Take a look at the moment I think could redefine how the Conservatives can be seen as an effective oppositition and a government in waiting.

https://www.facebook.com/ronaambrose/videos/10154239910033525/

In an unplanned moment during Question Period, the effects of the Opposition Leader calling out the Prime Minister for not caring and not paying attention to questions directed at him could be huge. In the house Trudeau was called onto the carpet by the Vice-Principal for not caring, letting his Ministers do all his talking with talking points and nothing original to say since Election Day in 2015.

The Conservatives now have to hold the government to account for not only for their actions, but for how they communication to Canadians. The Conservatives must demand more from the government on messaging and information and if the government does not then it is back to woodshed and another episode like yesterday.

Two challenges the Conservatives must face are to keep the pressure on the government in the manner that was displayed by their Interim Leader. The second is much more difficult, whoever becomes the Conservative Leader MUST learn from days in the house like this. Decorum in the House is all fine and good, but letting the government get away with talking points, answers that don’t match or answer a question must end. The new leader must be prepared to make Trudeau accountable for the poor performance of his Ministers AND defend the respect deserved of members of the opposition in the manner demostrated by Rona Ambrose.

This moment in what should have been a routine question turned into a moment where the Conservatives might be able to say that they are energized to defeat Trudeau and the Liberals in 2019.

I hope that ALL Conservative Leadership candidates have seen the video from Question Period and everyone should use this as a lesson as to how to treat the Liberals with every single question – take no prisoners and take no answer that consists of talking points or does not even come close to what was asked.

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.

129: Hospital Hopscotch?

civic-hospital

First there was the Central Experimental Farm after the Ottawa West Nepean Conservative MP granted the Ottawa Hospital’s request for the 60 acres across the road from their current site.

Then the 2015 election took place. Former NDP MP Paul Dewar was defeated and the Liberals were in charge. A group formed to save those 60 acres of the farm went straight to the new MP and Environment Minister Catherine McKenna asking to have the decision from Baird overturned.

McKenna asked the National Capital Commission (NCC) to conduct a review to find NCC property to offer to the Ottawa Hospital. Based on the approach she received from those wanting to “save the farm”, the NCC may have known that the Central Experimental farm was off the table.

While the farm was off the table, were there other sites that have been given a nudge to the frontline? We have learned that months ago, McKenna met with the NCC and asked that Tunney’s Pasture be given a good look as the new site for the Civic campus of the Ottawa Hospital.

Then an announcement, it was a decision that created ripples across the city and through four levels of government. The NCC decided it would make the Government hub of Tunney’s Pasture offered as a site for the Ottawa Hospital.

The reaction was swift from current Ottawa City Councillors and former Ottawa Mayors, Tunny’s Pasture was so far down the list of possible sites when the Ottawa Hospital did their own study it was not even talked about. Issues with traffic, access by EMS vehicles and the increased volume of people daily in the area was not sustainable without changes to roads and traffic flow plans – changes that were not anticipated for quite sometime by the City of Ottawa.

On the day of the announcement, Ottawa Centre Provincial Liberal MPP Yasir Naqvi was non-committal about supporting or raising doubts about the selection. No Liberal MPP in Ottawa said a word. The only provincial MPP to raise the question of the selection was Nepean-Carleton PC MPP Lisa MacLeod, during Question Period in Queens Park, asking Health Minister Eric Hoskins to intervene and have the NCC reconsider the selection.

Within a week of the announcement last week, the tide against Tunney’s Pasture was becoming stronger. On Parliament Hill, Carleton Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre asked McKenna about the decision. It was the Heritage Minister Melanie Jolie that answered, she ‘would review the report and make a recommendation/offer to the hospital’.

Too late, the hospital board rejected the location siting along with the previous issues mentioned, the cost and the time to build the new hospital was greater than if another location was chosen. The relocation of 10,000 civil servants and demolishing of the buildings on the site now (including a 26 story tower) would cost more and take longer than the hospital was willing to accept. A next century healthcare facility was needed sooner not later.

McKenna praised the decision and issued a press release, (https://cmckenna.liberal.ca/news-nouvelles/statement-on-ottawa-hospital-site-recommendation/). In her release she praised the NCC for their selection for the location for a new state of art health facility.

Eventually the 5 Ottawa Provincial Liberals got on the same page as the area Federal and Provincial conservatives and supported the Hospital’s decision to reject the decision of the NCC, though a joint press releases and Ottawa South MPP John Fraser making the media rounds.

Mayor Jim Watson came out trying act as the voice of reason for the decision, but aware of the challenges it presented. Watson as the top ranking municipal elected official aimed to play the role of peacemaker seeking a solution that meets the needs of the Ottawa Hospital.

While the sideshow of backlash was happening Minister Joly had not yet made her decision known, she was likely waiting this out to determine if a consensus on an alternative sire could be made, it was.

After some inward reflection everyone agreed, the former site of the Sir John Carling building of Agriculture Canada could and would fit what the hospital was seeking. It was across the street, just a little further east than originally planned.

In a joint press conference with the City of Ottawa, the NCC along with Provincial and Federal members of parliament all were happy with the new site proposal, even McKenna who it seems always liked Tunney’s Pasture. When asked about her previous praise for Tunney’s, McKenna preferred to be “forward thinking” about the new site.

What remains to be known is what influence did Minister McKenna think she had with the NCC? How could she be so out of touch with what the hospital AND the City needed for healthcare? How has this tarnished McKenna? How has McKenna playing Hospital Hopscotch damaged the NCC and if she had just let the NCC do its study what site would have the NCC and Minister Joly offered to the Ottawa Hospital?

Photo Source: Library and Archives Canada

Thank you for reading this post; to read 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.