Monthly Archives: March 2017

The Trudeau Revolution

 

18 months into the mandate, we are well into the Trudeau Revolution. We should have sensed a bit of this with the Prime Minister’s public admiration of Chinese ‘democracy’ and Cuba’s Fidel Castro. There were little wee signs of it from the beginning, perhaps to put a gloss over it all – but we are now into a full blown revolution that will change the shape of Canada.

After years of Conservatives and Liberals watching money and working towards a balanced budget after the First Prime Minister Trudeau. The 2nd Prime Minister Trudeau is determined to take us down the road a second time. The Trudeau Revolution has blown up the bank, in 2019 after the full four years of a Trudeau mandate 5 years of Trudeau budgets deficits will be $142B and the Federal Debt will be $755B. A debt of $1Trillion is in our sights and you might want to look away but when you look back it’s in the rear view mirror and it is approaching fast. While being handed a balanced budget in 2015, the Trudeau Revolution is now primed to have Canada having to work and wait for its next balanced budget until 2055.

But the Trudeau Revolution doesn’t stop at the dollar and the deficit.

The government has tried once to push a parliamentary procedure through, Motion 6 was introduced last May.   Motion 6 was designed to limit opposition debate and let a Minister of the government determine when a debate would end. It was withdrawn following protests from opposition parties and the battering the government took during Question Period on the motion.

From the ashes of the withdrawn Motion 6 has come, from Government House Bardish Chagger, her ‘thoughts’ on the modernization of the Standing Orders of the House of Commons – the rules on which Parliament operates. Billed by the House Leader as a discussion paper and left at that for now it would have been fine. What made this document part of the revolution was the motion in the House Affairs Procedure Committee from Liberal MP Scott Simms to have the committee study the paper and come back with which recommendations on what to present to the House to implement.

At the heart of the issue is a government that wants to use its majority to push through procedural changes, when as a majority it has the power to get its legislation passed. With the changes to the Standing Orders, now the government wants to be able to do that, with less interference from the opposition parties.

This is not the first time in the short history of the Trudeau government this has happened. Remember Electoral reform? At first the Bloc Quebecois and Green Party’s would not be represented on the special committee on Electoral reform, then they were. Then the Electoral Reform report came out and because it didn’t reflect the view of the Liberal’s then Minister Monsef stated that the committee had not done “the heavy lifting’. Translated, it meant that the committee did not unanimously endorse a ranked ballot system. What the majority of the committee did endorse was a proportional system that was still to be determined. The Liberals scrapped electoral reform saying Canadians no longer had an appetite for changes in how we votes, many voters cast their ballots for the Trudeau Revolution because of electoral reform promises.

The government now has this to worry about. The House Affairs Committee has been filibustering since MP Simms introduced the motion to study and report back. The filibustering was one reason for the delay in the release of the Budget by Minister Morneau. Other points of order (which take precedent over everything in the House of Commons) were raised that caused further delay including the distribution of copies of the Budget to Liberal MPs before the Minister started reading his budget speech. Liberal MPs were seen taking and posting photos of the budget and the opposition filibustering in the house, things that are not allowed.

The filibustering in committee will continue on April 3rd when the House returns from a constituency.

To be transparent the changes in Standing Orders cover how MP vote in the House, to how committees work the more controversial of having a Prime Minister’s Question Period once a week (the other days he can sleep in) and eliminating Friday sittings of the House.

Beyond Standing Orders, the Trudeau Revolution will also include the recently announced legalization of Marijuana. How deep the revolution goes is yet to be seen, but it is clear that like his father Trudeau 2.0 means to leave a deep stamp on Canada for better or for worse.

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.

Review: Robbie Robertson’s Testimony

In the late 80’s I interviewed The Band, the Robbie Robertson-less version of the band. I was working for CJCS1240 in Stratford Ontario at the time. Back then I know about the music of The Band as a “oldies” radio station the CANCON music policy allowed us to play only the best of Canada back then – and The Band qualified as a mainstay of our playlists. I was selected to interview Stratford’s Richard Manuel, Rick Danko, Garth Hudson and Levon Helm who had started touring again in1983 after then five person band stopped playing live following 1976’s Last Waltz.

I interviewed The Band with Brian O’Neill, our Sales Manager at the time, and a real music buff. We would interview the guys before they went on stage; take the tape and put together a 1-hour special featuring the interview and music. We had one hour to interview the band, and what a great interview it was, great answers to the questions, and lots of laughter with the stories they told. When we were done, and had talked for more than an the hour allotted, we took the tape back to the studio only to find that the batteries on the cassette recorder had died 30-40 minutes into the interview, a good chunk of what we recorded didn’t.

In Testimony, Robbie Robertson was told, by his mother, that when he was older he too would be a storyteller, just like the Elders of the Six Nations Reserve near Brantford where he spent the early years of his life. Even without publishing Testimony Robertson told stories, just read about the music of a career he writes about from hitting the stage with Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks to leaving the stage after playing for hours in The Band’s farewell concert in the “the Last Waltz”

From Ronnie Hawkins, to Bob Dylan to Helm, Danko, Hudson and Manuel Testimony is about his musical relationship – make that musical partnerships and how they made the music that executives in 1968 didn’t know what to label. It was the music that shifted the musical world much like Dylan did by going electric, which Robertson had a stage view of.   The tours with Dylan were illuminating as Robertson describes the lifestyle of rock stars, the drugs and alcohol that eventual drove The Band from the stage. He writes of the struggles, especially with Richard Manuel who struggled with alcohol only to turn to marijuana and then cocaine to help with a heroin habit. Rick Danko and Levon Helm also had major issues and Robertson writes of not only their issues but also his use, but when it comes to this part of his life and the story telling, he leaves out his struggles with his use of drugs and drinking. He makes it seem like he is the big brother who did no wrong, but was always there when his little brothers fell down.

I tweeted out when I started reading Testimony that it was like being counted into a song by Levon Helm; 1-2-3-4 Bam, you are into a song. What kept me turning pages was the music. What the band did in 1967 and 68 leading up to two of the greatest albums of the sixties is amazing reading, it gets into your mind and your imagination. Following Dylan’s motorcycle accident The Band retreat to Woodstock NY and the Big Pink, chapters 18 and 19 are required reading on the creation of Bob Dylan’s “Basement Tapes” and The Bands’ “Music from the Big Pink”. There is a passage about the vocal arrangements for “The Weight” that will forever by in my head, and when I listen to the song I will hear Robertson say…

“I began singing the chorus to “The Weight” over and over to the guys, trying to convey the staggered vocal idea I had. “Levon, you go, ‘aaand’, then Rick , ‘aaand’, then Richard on top, ‘aaand’. Levon, ‘you put the load’, Rick, Richard, Levon, ‘you put the load right on me’.”

Now, just try listening to “The Weight” without having this text in front of you or in your head hearing Robbie give those instructions.

Robertson only takes us through to the end of the Last Waltz, which is timely as I figure he has another book in him with his Post Waltz music. In the book he takes the reader through the thought, action and performance of what many call, the greatest rock concert film ever made. I could write more about the last few chapters leading up to the concert, but I think you would get more reading about creating the line up of artists, the new budding professional relationship with Martin Scorsese and how it was all managed to be held together AND the fabulous dinner served to 5000 people before the concert began.

Testimony is two-way mirror into making music, great music and a looking into how success put strains into relationships and what the five did to survive. Levon, Rick and Richard used the drink and drugs, Garth fiddled with electronics and Robertson made music and films with others and discovered the west coast. But as he writes his eulogy to The Band in the final pages, the love of the brotherhood is greater than all the troubles and sins that happened between 1960 with Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks to Thanksgiving 1976 and “The Last Waltz” , the love clearly outlasts any pain and misunderstandings that took place.

In the end, Testimony is the BEST rock and roll book I have ever read, its honesty and admiration of the players Robbie Robertson shared a stage with is something I have never taken from pages before.

Testimony is required reading for anyone that plays or loves music that changes how we listen to music.

While I knew the music of The Band, Testimony would have been a great primer for my interview with The Band, in the late 80’s. After reading Testimony, I now understand the music and brotherhood of The Band, and man what questions I would have asked if only I knew as I do today.

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.

 

Chuck Berry RIP : Hail, Hail, Rock ‘n’ Roll!

The Rock ‘n Roll world lost its pioneer this weekend, Chuck Berry died at the age of 90. The Immortal Jukebox does a good look back of Rock ‘ n Roll’s original .

The Immortal Jukebox

Chuck Berry has died. May he rest in peace.

I will write an extensive tribute later.

He was a Founding Father of Rock ‘n’ Roll.

He was a Rock ‘n’ Roll Prophet and The Rock ‘n’ Roll Poet.

He was a writer with the immediate understanding of a top class journalist, the widescreen vision of an historian and the timing of a comedian on the stage.

He is one of the greatest chroniclers of American Life.

Hail, Hail, Hail Chuck Berry!

Here he is with a special favourite of mine, ‘School Days’

‘Up in the mornin’ and out to school
The teacher is teachin’ the Golden Rule
American history and practical math
You study’ em hard and hopin’ to pass
Workin’ your fingers right down to the bone
And the guy behind you won’t leave you alone

Ring ring goes the bell
The cook in the lunchroom’s ready to sell

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The first shot has been fired

Ottawa Votes

I had noticed while reviewing the activity of this blog that yesterday my post about the 2014 Ottawa elections was viewed. In that post I gave predictions on 9 councillor races in that year’s municipal elections. I wrote that 8 of the nine wards I looked at were in a strong position to change. I was wrong in all predictions as the incumbent won all the 8 seats I thought would see a turn over.  But it didn’t stop me from thinking about what might happen in 2018.


Mayor Jim Watson announced that he was seeking another term as Mayor in the 2018 Ottawa Municipal elections.  It was the first shot fired, meant to warn off challengers?  When he made the announcement he wrote:

“Our city is in the midst of its most significant transformation in a generation, and with the support of the people of Ottawa, I hope to continue to play a small part in our beautiful city’s bright future.”

It makes sense that he run again, the LRT is his baby, by the time a potential next term ends in 2022 Phase 1 will be up and running, Phase 2 of the LRT will be close to completion and he will likely have passed Phase 3 at council. It just makes sense that in order to have the LRT as his legacy he try for a third consecutive term (and 4th term overall) as Mayor to guide it through construction and implementation. Whether he can remove the idea that his tax increase limitations are creating more debt and deficit for the City is yet to be seen as there is a contingent of voters that don’t believe that Ottawa can afford to carry an increased debt.

His re-election is not a slam dunk even with one of the highest approval ratings of all big city Mayors in Canada, his approval sits in the high 70’s percentage. There have been less optimistic and less publicized polls show that he faces some real challenges including increased water fees, sewer rates (all because he limits property taxes to 2% or less), better snow removal budgeting and to loosen the handcuffs of Councillors at budget time.

When he announced his intention to run on March 9th, it may have made a few intentions of other potential candidates sag.

So, who could be in and who could be out of the Mayor’s race with this announcement?

Possible candidates to jump in include, Paul Dewar former Ottawa Centre MP. We have a Father-Son as Prime Minister so why not a Mother-Son Mayor of Ottawa? The only thing holding him back is whether he anticipates that the shine is off the Trudeau Liberals and he can win his seat back. You have to remember, he did not lose any votes in 2015, the Liberals gains were from ‘new’ voters, which was the margin of victory for Catherine McKenna. Voters disenchanted with broken Liberal promises will help Dewar in 2019 and he very likely could win the seat back as he will be able to out canvass Catherine McKenna for 2019 as she did against him for the win in 2015.

Diane Deans, who will have 23 years on City council, has Mayoral aspirations, you can sense it. But the timing has never been great. With Watson in for another run is the timing still off? She has been building on having a different view of Ottawa than Watson envisions in her debates in Council, 2018 could be the year that she is also all in.

Likely NOT seeking to run against Jim Watson are Councillors Mark Taylor and Tim Tierney; both are loyal to the Mayor. Taylor may not be around in 2018 if he seeks to run in the 2018 Provincial election in Ottawa West Nepean replacing Bob Chiarelli as the Liberal Candidate. This seems the most likely plan for Taylor as he plans to keep his promise to be a two term Councillor. Tierney also made the two term pledge, but suggested in 2014 that the voters should determine if a councillor is elected for more than two terms, however I do not see him running against his friend.

Senior councillors, Rick Chiarelli (18 years), Marianne Wilkinson (40+ years with Kanata and Ottawa) and Jan Harder (21 Years with Nepean and Ottawa) may be challenged by supporters to make the jump to run for mayor. Even though the Mayor has declared he’s “in”, I do not expect to see anyone else put their name forward until early 2018.

I do not doubt Watson’s sincerity about running again, but he really had no choice BUT to say he was seeking re-election. He was being asked ( I think unfairly as he is only half way through his term), to say he would not run might have labelled him a lame duck Mayor and then noting would be accomplished and council might seem like a Mayoral debate every time they sat. But then again, something better could come along before he has to file his papers.- just sayin’.

Something else to watch leading up to the 2018 election is if Council will adopt ranked ballots for the vote. A City staff report on the changes that are now allowed due to a change in Provincial legislation suggests that moving to a ranked ballot would cost $3.5M more and would have challenges with ‘respect to awareness, technology and election administration.’ Time is also a concern to implement changes for 2018, but staff does not discount making changes in future elections.

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.

Book Review – “Himself” by Jess Kidd

himself-9781501145179_hr

“a read out of ‘time’ and ‘place’”

I like my books two ways; the quick enjoyable read that leaves you breathless and satisfied. The second is a book that makes me understand the characters, their places, plot placement and personality. It may take longer to finish the book, but the work as a reader that goes into it is just a satisfying. Himself is of the second type of read for me, rereading some passages in Himself allowed me the satisfaction of not putting the book down as the plot lines and timelines converged.

The book is about a boy (Mahoney) and a girl (Orla), the boy is alive and girl sadly is not; the boy is looking for the girl. Set in Ireland in Mulderigg in the 50’s and the 70’s, it’s the hometown of the girl and birthplace of the boy. The shifting narratives of the past, the present, and the past in the present pull you into each time capsule and at times makes you sad that the author has pulled you out – seemly to make sure you don’t know more than you should at that moment. It’s OK though, because as you adjust to the next capsule of time it takes little effort as the reader before you pulled in that as well.

Mahoney sets off a series of spiritual storms as soon as he enters Mulderigg; the spirits take notice of him from his first step out of the cab that delivers him to Kerrigan’s, the local pub. There is a cast of characters in the story, they really are characters as in Himself, Kidd injects colour into the town through those that have lived and will likely die there. The only people that see Mahoney for what he might become, the great disrupter, are those that came to Mulderigg, not by birth, but by choice.  There is Mrs. Cauley, the towns theatre star and Father Quinn, who needs the eccentricities of Mrs. Cauley’s productions for raise money for the parish but would gladly see her and Mahoney run out of his town.

The towns’ folk relish any opportunity to have something more than their daily lives take over their imaginations and their time.   Their lives all travel separate paths until Mahoney comes into town and like a storm approaching, no one can be as prepared as they want to be when it hits. Using the vehicle of an annual theatrical presentation that is the only real fundraising event for the local parish church, Mrs. Cauley initiates and runs her investigation in a manner that would make Agatha Christie proud. Mrs. Cauley is determined to find out how Mahoney’s mother disappeared and by whose hands it happened.

The real charm in the story is how Kidd writes and brings the spirits of the dead alive and gives them a freedom of movement that would make the living envious. The writing was lively and I found myself looking forward to reading the next passage that has Mahoney observing with the spirits. Kidd writes for the spirits in a manner that there are no limits to what or how the ghosts could move around and influence Mahoney, for only Mahoney has the privilege of seeing them.

Himself is a very enjoyable read, it’s an escape in time and into magic where the humans and worldly spirits reside, not always peacefully.

Himself is Jess Kidd’s first novel and if you read her bio on www.jesskidd.com, she also ambitious with her second, third and fourth books all in one stage of composition completion. Himself is available in Canada on March 21, 2017 and is published through Simon and Schuster. Thanks to Simon and Schuster for the opportunity to read and review Himself.

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.

Canadians in a Digital World

Canadian Heritage recently released a report “Canadian Culture in a Digital World” (http://www.canadiancontentconsultations.ca/home) following consultations on how to strengthen the creation, discovery and export of Canadian content in the digital world. That report and a second report published by the Public Policy Forum’s “Shattered Mirror Report – News, Democracy and Trust in the Digital Age” hope to shape what Canadian digital content will look like and how it can be sustainable and come out from the shadows on Facebook, Google and other existing and emerging digital platforms.

Broken Link

Who is a Canadian digital creator? What Canadians are driving online content?

Most who venture onto YouTube will know of Casey Neistat, with over 6.6 million subscribers, he is the world’s most famous “YouTuber”. There are Canadian YouTubers producing interesting digital content to be watched and the annual YouTube festival “BufferFest” was created by a Canadian and is held in Toronto. Bufferfest brings hundreds of digital creators from across Canada and around the world to premiere creative digital content AND thousands of fans from around North America. Bufferfest is the #Oscars of the YouTube/Digital world.

BlogTO, a Toronto based blog listed the 10 most popular personalities in Toronto – http://www.blogto.com/arts/2014/10/the_top_10_youtube_personalities_from_toronto/. I am not huge fans of the crazy YouTube creators, but enjoy good creative content that I can’t find on regular platforms. One of my favourite Canadian digital content creators is Bradley Friesen who takes his viewers over the BC Mountains via his helicopter. His uploads of winter camping in a snow cave and ice hockey on a remote frozen lake has incredible views of Canadian mountain landscapes and he brings this every week to your handheld of desktop screen. He has seen success on the YouTube platform as his subscriber base has grown to over 200,000. For every one YouTube creator that has the success of a Bradley Friesen there are thousands of creators who have very few subscribers, and who revel in the ‘hundreds of views’ that their videos may attract. In Canada they create content with dreams of attaining a small portion of the subscriber success that only a few reach.

Both reports talk about money that is leaving Canada for platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Google and Netflix. Coming out of the flow of money leaving Canada has been the notion that one government or another would institute a “Netflix Tax”, a tax not limited to Netflix but aimed by the Canadian government to recapture a portion of the money in advertising and subscriber fees that leave Canada and land in the US in places like Facebook or Google.

The missing link in the conversation for those that advocate strongly for the Netflix or Internet Tax is that the Canada Media Fund, which provides creators with money for projects, is out millions of dollars through this money that does not pass through Canadian hands. I am not pushing for the Netflix tax, but the same creators the decry who decry the tax must have to wonder, ‘where will creators expect to be funded if there if the pot is empty?’

You Tube

We can discuss monetization, the method in which YouTube video creators are paid, but to make a substantial amount this way almost every video posted would have to be a viral success – a success that requires months and years of building a subscriber base. There are not many that can build a base through one endorsement from a Casey Neistat, not everyone can become a Sara Dietschy or diSCIpling Recovery who after an endorsement from Casey will see subscriptions skyrocket. Let me add that those endorsements do not come easily – you better be damned good and have interesting content to get the Neistat seal of approval.

The problem remains how does Canada fund new digital creators? How will Canada grab a portion of the money leaving Canada that could lead to a thriving digital community of creators? Is the answer a Canadian platform version of YouTube, think of a CanTube, a place for Canadian digital creators won’t get suffocated in the millions of creators from around the world and a place where Canadian media/Producers can discover new imaginative and challenging digital content creators for larger platforms?

The Canadian government will be presenting legislation or a direction this spring for a new digital creative centric system based out of the #DigiCanCon consultation report. Many will say it falls short, many will say it is too restrictive and there will many that object to any sort of funding model that resembles the CBC.

It seems like it might be a lose-lose outcome when it should be a win-win.

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.

Is 25% enough for you?

wynne-and-electricity

Illustration from Ontario Wind Resistance (www.ontario-wind-resistance.org)

25%, that’s the answer from Premier Kathleen Wynne and the Ontario Liberals. Mired with a personal approval rating of 11% (as of 01/03/2017) the Premier announced a further reduction in the electricity bills of 17% this summer (after an 8% reduction that was set January 1st) as way to avoid the knives that would cut her and the Liberals out of government in the on 2018 Ontario General election. In the announcement, Wynne also stated that following the summer reduction in rates, increases will be tied to the annual rate of inflation.

Rates are currently frozen between November 1 2016 and May 1 2017 and tradition shows that previously approved rates go up on May 1st. So a question: with a reduction coming in the summer, will the 17% rate reduction have to take in any increase that may come on the first of May?

With this “olive branch” from the government, there are so many questions and so few answers.

I recently attended a meeting about Hydro costs hosted by Nepean-Carleton PC MPP Lisa Macleod; it featured a presentation by Peter Gallant from Wind Concerns Ontario. Mr. Gallant went behind the line items and presented what was represented on each line. There is so much more behind your electricity bill than just a box that says please pay this amount.

It will come as no surprise that your monthly bill is political. Political in such that choices are made in how the bill is written to make it seem that you should feel good about the fees you pay, right down to the final line of your statement indicating how much you saved on electricity because of reductions and time of use savings (I hope that makes you feel better).

Then there are the acronyms! My goodness, the number of acronyms that are used is mind-blowing. LDC, NUG, OPG, RPP, TOU, FIT and MicroFIT, GA, the list goes on.

My take away from the session was that producing hydro is burdened with levels of debt payment and delivery fees. But also that green energy, the McGuinty Green Energy Program, is going to burden Ontario Taxpayers for years as FIT (Feed in Tariff) contracts guarantee fees paid to generators that are up to 6 times more than what we currently pay for its use. The difference, and the bulk of what we pay, lies in the delivery and renewal generation connection charges created to bring in the revenue that time of use electricity rates cannot for the creation of wind and solar energy in Ontario.

The announcement by Wynne and Energy Minister Thibeault is going to push paying for contracts, repairs and expensive energy generation through to the next two generations or more. By only allowing rate of inflation increases for the next four years, debt payments of billions are being delayed, increasing the provincial debt further and increasing debt financing payments closer to the top the expense sheet of the province.

Prior to the announcement from the government, the NDP pledged to cut electricity rates by 30%. No word on how to do it, but just to cut rates by a third.

So now of course, Ontarians want to know how the Brown led PC’s will challenge the Liberals ‘reduce and almost freeze’ plan. MPP Macleod told those at her meeting that there will be a response, but it will be thought out (unlike the NDP plan?) and a workable plan to provide affordable electricity for Ontario.

We’ll have to wait, but I hope that the plan will include a dash reality, acknowledging what path Ontario has been led down by the McGuinty-Wynne Green Energy Coalition.

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.