Monthly Archives: July 2017

A tale of two weekends

As July comes to an end, you’ll remember that we opened the month with Canada Day celebrations in Ottawa and ended it with the La Machine, the invasion of Long Ma and Kumo on the streets of the Nation’s capital.

Now is a good time to compare the two weekends.

La Machine had the legend of Long Ma and Kumo, Kumo who had been sleeping underground in Ottawa because of the LRT construction. Here I think the City is trying to get good mileage out of the Rideau sinkhole. For Canada Day the legendary Gordon Lightfoot performed, but no one out side of the few thousand on Parliament Hill would know it, the CBC did not air any of his performances. For the finale of La Machine, CBC live streamed the final chapter of the duel between the mechanical marionettes.

500,000, as in 500,000 people are coming! The federal government estimated that half a million people would be in Ottawa for Canada Day – uh no that did not happen. Actuals were much lower. Parliament Hill can accommodate up to 31,000 people – estimates that for the two Parliament Hill performances there were 57,000. Where the other 450,000 were no one had a clear idea. The city was much fuller, and alive, during the last weekend with La Machine. The City of Ottawa changed their estimates of people attending the many performances at 300,000. By Sunday afternoon, Ottawa raised the estimate to 500,000 would see part of any of the four day act. By Monday morning Ottawa 2017 Executive Director Guy LaFlamme raised those numbers to 750,000.  Is it any wonder restaurants were closing because they ran out of food during the weekend; we didn’t hear that for Canada Day.

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Security and road closures; we all know about the Canada Day corrals and the fiasco they ended up being. There were no such security measures for La Machine, in fact security was barely noticeable – and isn’t the way it should be? Much of the same road closures were in place. The grumbling was much less for La Machine, are Ottawans getting used to it?

La Machine is based on the historical story of a temple, now in the possession of Kumo. With a weakened Kumo now awake, Long Ma has come to Ottawa to reclaim the temple. As we look back on Canada Day, we did not commemorate our history; we did raise a glass to the great monarchs of our 150 years. Instead Canada “celebrated” by the themes of Diversity and Inclusion; Reconciliation with Indigenous people; Environment and Youth. Sure all good things, but for the Canadian Government to not recognize where this nation came from? Why call it Canada150? Just call it Canada Day.

When you consider the public perception of the two weekends you cannot compare the two.  Reaction to La Machine was amazing, social media was lit up with photos, videos and positive comments that #Canada150 programming could only imagine.  The lack of security was a plus, freedom to move without having bags checked was liberating for everyone.  #Canada150 expectations were so high, there was no way they could be met.  Ottawa 2017 under promised and over delivered and the City was rewarded was a good feeling that erased memories of the opening weekend of the month.

When January 1, 2018 comes and we look back at the year past, it won’t be the rain soaked lawns of Parliament Hill that come to mind; it will be the grand success of Ottawa 2017 Executive Director Guy LaFlamme we’ll think of and wonder when will Ottawa be invaded again?

Photos and Videos courtesy of @VideoManOttawa, Danno Saunt

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 post about the little things in life I see and do.

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

Canada, what is on your mind?

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After flying the friendly Canadian skies for the last 6 days, and as I sit 35,000 feet in the air writing this, I can say that on the ground, Canadians are very smart and really want to help their government.

I have been travelling with two Conservative MPs since July 23rd, I am now on my way back to Ottawa. We have been in Western Canada asking for advise, hearing about issues, letting solutions come to the surface and just plain listening. What we were travelling about may come out some other day in this blog, but this is about the fact that Canadians really do want to help their government. They see what is going on, everyday in their lives and the lives of their family and friends.

They want to speak out.

They want to be heard.

They want to be taken seriously.

That Canadians want to speak out is no surprise at all, we do it all the time, have you looked at Facebook recently? My goodness there are so many people that want to spew out their anger against the government, the opposition and yes, they still rail on Stephen Harper. What suggestions they make on social media is nothing that I care to or can repeat here, #RedHeartBlueSign is a family friendly place.

Where Canadians want to be heard are in community meetings, round table meetings, focus forums, coffee meet-ups and more. What you seem to want to say is “listen to us, we are experiencing good and bad things on the ground and we have ideas how to help improve or make things you (the government) do better.

In these meetings, the attendance is much less than the thousands that might comment about what either political leader did on whatever topic is hot for the day. In the meetings I attended this week, the most we had in ne meeting was 25, we listened and chatted for 90 minutes – it was manageable. Other meetings were as small as 6, but the average was 12 Canadians accepting our invitation to tell us what is on their minds and help us help them help the government. Simply put, we asked, ‘if you could, what would you do make things better?’

Our week resolved around one aspect of government services, so the Canadians we met had a vested interest in coming out to talk with us.

Yet, here is the challenging part, really getting down to listening and appreciating what Canucks have to say and putting these ideas into some plan of action to take to the government.

As part of the opposition, our intention to for the ideas Canadians told us, is to get them to the government. When we do that, we make a case for the serious consideration by the government of what we were told. I will be told that when Conservatives were in government they were not the best at listening.   I am not to going to deny that. What I will advocate for going forward is and if I am part of a Conservative government in 2019, is that we really need to get to the Town halls, Legion Halls, Bingo Halls and Community Centres and sit down, listen and only speak when asked.

In the electoral reform meetings last year, much was said by the community, the majority of what was said was “change”. In the end the government did not offer any change. The government consulted, but did they listen?

There are so many great ideas out there waiting to be offered, really good simple solutions. The problem is that government is complex and those in government might believe simple cannot mix with complex. What I heard was that simple ideas can be implemented; Canadians have thought these things out.

There are two elections coming up. The Ontario Election will be held in June 2018 and the Federal election is set for October 2019. Ontarians and Canadians will be listening to all the parties; they will give a lot of advice and propose many, many, good ideas. Getting the political parties to listen and to include what they hear is the brave and right thing to do – listen and act even if it falls outside of normal party politics.

After listening for 6 days, I will take everything we heard; categorize it all, consider actions on the ideas and propose policy, simple policy and take it to the government or consider what would make great policy for a Conservative government in 2019.

So what is in your mind? When your local elected representative has a community forum, do not pass up on attending it. Go, listen, discuss and share. That is the only way that any current or future government can really act on your behalf. Canadians should speak up and leave the backroom strategists out in the cold of policy development.

So Canada, what is on your mind?

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 post about the little things in life I see and do.

Vacation State of Mind?

Vacation Alert

What is a vacation state of mind? What is an ‘away from work’ Zen moment feel like?

Do you detach completely? Is it an awareness there are something at work that you know will be waiting for you when you get back? To get your vacation state of mind do you leave town? Do you go off grid? Or does obtaining a vacation state of mind merely mean getting out of the office?

I have a week off, so I got out of dodge as they say, this week we’re in Thunder Bay. That does not mean I left everything behind. Give me two weeks away from the office and I will go stir crazy. To avoid that when we go away for two weeks, it better be in another city, town, somewhere that means the regular life trappings are not in my line of sight. Without somewhere to go, why take the time off? It is not an uncommon as you might think.

The benefits of taking vacation are well known; a reduction in stress helps relationships and a paid mental break from work. Are there benefits for the few that don’t want to take vacation? For those enjoy their work, vacation my just be an unwanted distraction from it. It is very difficult to find benefits to not taking vacation, but there are reasons why some workers will avoid it.

Count the reasons for vacation denial as being the fear of email inbox overload and increased assignments, the fear that another worker will take their job away, the fear that someone else doing their work will screw it up and it will have to be redone when they return.

A 2014 study in the US; Project: Time Off found 4 in 10 Americans did not take their vacation. Are Canadians any different? If you believe a study from Expedia .ca, Canadians only did a little better. Just over one in four Canadians did not take the vacation OR had a year between vacations (http://www.torontosun.com/2016/10/19/canadians-leave-31-million-vacation-days-unused-each-year-study ).

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Our work places are changing and work environments are also adjusting to be more competitive, hence the reluctance to get away from it all.   While most of Ontario is off on vacation for one or two weeks this July and August, Ontario MPPs are currently touring Ontario to discuss Bill 148, The Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act. Sadly, with 173 recommendations from a study that led to the legislation, the majority of press around this bill goes to one recommendation to increase in minimum wage to $15.00/hour by January 1, 2019.

Other aspects about workplaces including vacation, sick notes, emergency personal eleave, overtime and other aspects that will impact Ontario employers are going almost unnoticed. Much of what the Ontario government wants to implement are clauses that are normally negotiated between companies and unions. Is Kathleen Wynne now going to force non-union workplaces to have ‘union’ like workplace rules and atmospheres? Bill 148 will change workplaces in Ontario, but for the better?

Take some time to read about Bill 148, http://www.ceridian.ca/blog/2017/06/ontarios-employment-standards-act-reform-what-bill-148-may-mean-for-employers/ and then talke to your MPP and let them know what you like and don’t like about telling good employers how to run their shops.

Of course there are some bad employers Bill 148 will be awake up call for them – but to force union like rules on workplaces that are successful? The Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act is something I would expect from the Ontario NDP…BUT the next Ontario General Election is less that 11 months away (June 2018), so yes I also expect this frm Kathleen Wynne and the Ontario Liberals.

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 post about the little things in life I see and do.

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

A virtual walk in the snow

RHBS 172There is something to be said for walking away from something you enjoy. Not like Trudeau v1.0 and his walk through the snow on the second last day of February in 1984 (it was a leap year). I took a walk in my mind and made the decision on Friday to not post on social media for the weekend. It was surprisingly easy, but I was tempted.  We had a great weekend, I didn’t post on Twitter or Facebook at all about a Saturday at Lake Opinicon and the great music we heard.  However as difficult I thought it might be that day, it was quite easy and I focused on the music, the food, the beautiful surroundings in and around Chaffey’s Lock and the company of Liz, who posted a few photos on Facebook and Twitter.

I took a virtual walk in the snow after what I thought was a tough weak in social media. To those that say that I should have known what I was getting into because of the two topics I was posting about – it was the overall tone of the discussions of the day that took a toll, not so much what people what commented on after I posted. I think that many would agree that in Ottawa it was a perfect social media storm when the debates over the Ottawa Pride parade requesting the Ottawa Police not wear their uniforms in the parade collided with the Omar Khadr settlement rumours and then the government announcement.

The tone of the two conversations clashed and I burned out.

In the ashes was a weekend of feeling free, no pressure, no need to make a comment – only to read and see what other people say. It turned out to be an opportunity to see how others react, comment and rationalize on the two issues. Having eyes and not allowing your voice to be heard does permit for thought. There was no “I have to comment right away or else it’s old news” to worry about. I also saw that extreme comments and tweets were emotion over logic. The Khadr affair is clearly the best example of this – it should be, and I hope someone picks up on this, a separate lesson in the teaching plan of anyone that instructs students in the use and influence of social media. I see this being the pinnacle of a debate on the usefulness or the drudgery of Facebook and Twitter.

What lies ahead is still unknown, what I thought was going to be a weekend in virtual hiding was a weekend awakening and the thought provoking self-analysis of my own way I use my social media feeds. It have been ‘tempted’ to post on Instagram since Friday, but I had to be true to my self-declared sabbatical. I haven’t posted today (Monday) and haven’t had the burning desire to do so.

As a confession, I did post on my #RedHeartBlueLife blog (see link below) Sunday night but that’s it. I’ll post this blog – but I don’t see how this is the same as posting on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. My plan is to stick with it, the sabbatical, for the rest of this week.

I have vacation planned in Thunder Bay next week and then I’ll be travelling for work the week after in Western Canada. Those two weeks seem like they most certainly will be ‘Instagramable’ opportunities for me, lord knows I will want to be sharing it all. Maybe it will be baby steps, but for now it’s okay, I’m okay and I am okay with not being slayed by people who don’t know me because I have (in my mind) a logical opposing point of view.

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: The ‘Red’ Kelly Story

Playing hockey in the National Hockey League and winning the Stanley Cup is the quintessential Canadian story of success. That is only when you win “the Cup” once. What do you call it when a boy from Simcoe/Port Dover Ontario plays for 20 years and wins the Stanley Cup eight times? You call it The ‘Red’ Kelly Story.

Hockey has changed over 100 years, a read of Stephen Harper’s A Great Game, Bobby Orr’s My Story or Wayne Gretzky’s 99: Stories of the Game demonstrate that evolution since the original six. In The Red Kelly Story, the doubling of the league following the Leaf’s Cup win in 1967 seems like eons ago compared to the recent expansion of the league with the addition of the Vegas Golden Knights.

red kellyLeonard ‘Red’ Kelly is the NHL’s original gentleman and winner of 8 Stanley Cups – that none were won with the Montreal Canadians is a testament to his ability to make a team better simply by stepping on the ice. There are few like him who as a player, team Captain, Coach and General Manager had the respect of almost everyone he played with and against.

But Kelly also knew what he stood for and took the consequences in stride. His banishment from Detroit following his decision to retire rather than to accept a trade to the New York Rangers is an example. Then GM Jack Adams and years later President Alex Delvecchio refused to retire his number 4. But for every instance of rejection there are dozens of rewards. His election to the Hockey Hall of Fame only two years after retiring for good and helping the Maple Leafs win their last Stanley Cup is recognition of his status in the NHL.

So consider what he accomplished and then add another full-time job to his duties that also included being a father of four. In 1962 he ran, at the request of Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson, and was elected as the Member of Parliament (MP) for the Toronto riding of York West, he was re-elected again 1963. He stepped down as the MP in 1965 following the debate and final vote creating a new Canadian flag.

The NHL was much simpler then with a fixed schedule which made it easier to be both in Ottawa on Parliament Hill and on the ice in Maple Leaf Gardens. In the three seasons he was serving in Ottawa, Kelly only missed 4 regular season games. Even Kelly was not aware of what the double duty was doing to him; he still dominated on the ice. Only going into the 1965-66 season when he was ‘only’ a hockey player was he able to see how being an MP had affected his game. Over a 20 year career as a player he only missed 64 games, and played 9 complete seasons.

However it’s also his post playing career that demonstrates his ability to understand the game and influence players to perform better. Through 10 years of coaching he made the playoffs, with teams that should not have been in them 8 times. Just as in his playing career where he missed the playoffs twice, he missed two post seasons coaching – one year, with the Pittsburgh Penguins, he was fired before the season ended. His coaching career is most memorable for the season of pyramid power while coaching the Maple Leafs during the 1976 playoffs against the Philadelphia Flyers.

There is not a lot of controversy in the life of Red Kelly, but that’s okay. The Red Kelly Story is one of determination that had a successful career as a tobacco farmer in Simcoe Ontario, as a Hall of Famer in the NHL and to have a family where his success and dedication as a Parliamentarian and father has turned each of his children into being strong and dedicated people in their own careers.

At times it is good to read about a life that works out alright and makes it through the struggles we all may face. Red Kelly was no angel and was not handed anything without having a work ethic that had him earn all he has. We all don’t have stories like The Red Kelly Story, so it’s good to read one like it, if only to reinforce that hard word, faith and family have its rewards.

The Red Kelly Story is a hockey story that cannot be replicated.  Hockey today at 100 years is not the same as it was when the NHL was a young 30 years old in 1947 when Red Kelly broke into the league.

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.

Our Canadian Identity

Canadian Identity

Who do you identify with, or rather what nation or country do you identify with? This was a big question as Canadians celebrated Canada’s 150th year of confederation this week.  This does not have to be the divisive question that it appears to have become.   What has become even more divisive are the ideas of “Canadian values”. In an unfortunate turn of events, the use of the term itself has become a negative value, where our Canadian values are used to divide rather then being seen as what brings people together. The term Canadian values should be retired, never to be used again – unless for intentional (negative) use against one particular political party.

Can we refer to what Canadians are/Canada is as ideals?

We can split the idea of a Canadian identity to who we are and who do we identify with. They will not always s be the same, nor should they; it may be a more truthful way of looking at ourselves in the Canadian mirror. For example, I am a second generation Dutch-Canadian. My parents arrived in Canada in the mid fifties in Montreal and headed to Hamilton where my mother’s brother Lex had settled after arriving years earlier in Canada from the Netherlands.  They later settled in the suburbs of Toronto first in Scarborough and then onto Mississauga where they reside today.  I am a Dutch Canadian, I cheer for both the Canadian and Dutch teams during the Olympics, World Cup and other international events. I subscribe to the twitter feed of the Dutch Prime Minister and receive their latest news in my inbox.

However, I identify with being a Canadian, I identify with the ideas that Canadians are fair, open-minded, friendly and accommodating. That is what I see from my perspective; there will be others who will not share this with me. Historically Canada has brought these ideals forward, but we also have not been so good, with good (but misdirected) intentions.   These ideals allow us to move ahead to make amends, apologize and act to correct our past actions.

Canada Day, Canada’s 150th, was a day where our past came face-to-face with our present and future. Protests from Canada’s First Nations on Parliament Hill highlighted that we have some way to go before all who identify with being Canadian, part Canadian or not a Canadian at all,  are content with how Canada as a nation represents them.

Our Prime Minister commented on Canada Day that new Canadians might feel more proud to be Canadian than those of us who were born here. I disagree and feel he misrepresented the pride of all Canadians. There were only few ‘Canadians’ here when Canada was first thought of, first as far away provinces of the Crown and then as a country on its own. As citizens of Canada, 97% of Canadians have roots that are not from here.  We all came from somewhere, French-Canadians, Dutch-Canadians, Italian-Canadians, Indo-Canadians and many more may not feel less of Canadian pride, but it has become who we are and our identity when we remember our past and relish the present and future.

We have a long way to go to recognize the contributions of our Inuit, Cree, Metis and other First Nations. We have a long road to travel to reach appeasement for the actions of previous governments. Nowhere though do Canadians as a whole feel we should not reconcile with our past – it is part of our open-mindedness to recognize that our future as a country lies in part with our history.

It’s our Canadian identity that makes it easy to see the path and who we 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. 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.