Author Archives: redheartbluesign

About redheartbluesign

I think about things and occasionally write about what I think about. I am expanding my horizons beyond politics - though as a former Ontario PC Candidate, the politics will always be there.

Patrick, Michael and Me

After a weekend at my first Manning Networking Conference I feel that I might be alone in the hundreds that attended the conference in believing that Ontario should have a Carbon Tax. Let’s just make this clear; I am not supportive of any plans by my local MP Catherine McKenna to implement a national carbon tax in lieu of any provinces NOT implementing some sort of carbon pricing.

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Former Leader of the PC Party of Ontario, Patrick Brown announced in Ottawa during the March 2016 convention that he would, if elected, move Ontario from the Liberal Cap and Trade carbon pricing to a price on carbon. His reasoning was that based on the BC carbon model he would be able to give back to Ontario residents. The current Cap and Trade plan does nothing to reward Ontarians. Cap and Trade benefits businesses and is merely a trading system of carbon credits between California, Ontario and Quebec. Businesses that have lowered emissions can sell credits to other businesses that need the credits to meet emission standards. The only thing seen by Ontarians is higher prices as the price of carbon is built into goods and services.

Many Conservatives will not agree with me, but there is no reason why a price on carbon cannot drive innovation in reducing emissions.  But as Ontarians and Canadians we also must recognize that what Canada, its provinces and territories do for reduce emissions WILL NOT solve the problem globally.  Unlike what Minister McKenna may feel, Canada cannot be responsible for what other countries can do.  To that end,   I feel a carbon price can be reduced as Canada meets emission goals.  Canada’s energy sector has a positive record of innovation that seems to be ignored by the federal government.  Success should be rewarded, not punished.

Thankfully I am not alone in the belief that a price on carbon can benefit Canada, Conservative Member of Parliament Michael Chong ran for the leadership of the party in 2017 with a Carbon Tax at the centre of his platform. He was dropped off the ballot in the 10th round. BUT, with a carbon price, he found support from enough Conservatives to finish fifth in a 13-person leadership race. Michael Chong made my top three on my ballot for the Conservative leadership.

Heading into the last week, Ontario PC Leadership Candidates Christine Elliott and Doug Ford had announced that they would scrap any plans for a price of carbon if elected Premier in the June election. By the time Manning started, the third candidate, Caroline Mulroney had also tossed a carbon tax to the side of the road.

I was trying figure out why all three potential leaders quickly dismissed the campaign promise to change the current Cap and Trade to a Carbon price. I know the reason they will give, “they only bad tax is a new tax”. However I wonder if any of the three have considered how a PC government could pay for the promises in the People’s Guarantee? Or as Steven Del Duca, Ontario’s Minister of Economic Development and Growth, put it, “without the carbon tax, there is a $16 Billion hole in the PC Platform”. At Manning both Elliott and Ford talked about finding money via a program by program and Ministry by Ministry through value for money audits.   Even Mulroney stated that she would find “billions” in savings from the waste of Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals.

Here is my dilemma, I loved the platform, I loved what it would do for Ontarians. Where does the party go now? It is too late develop a new platform. Is our only play now to say “we’ll be better than Kathleen Wynne and the Ontario Liberals?” Really, that’s it?

Unlike in 2015, I do not have a clear choice for leader of the Ontario PC Party. I have no one my gut tells me is the one. What can I do? Time is short as voting is in two and half weeks. I do not like having to choose a leader by a process of elimination, but that looks like what is going to have to happen.

The Manning Networking Conference brought each of the candidates in for a spotlight session, a little Q and A. I missed Caroline Mulroney but heard both Doug Ford (he impressed me) and Christine Elliott. I know she (Elliott) talks about all her experience and her supporter’s talk about her experience – but I would’ve rather heard her talk about her leadership.

For now, it seems like Patrick, Michael and me will have to search for someone who will see the value and the opportunity that a carbon price can bring to Ontario.

Thank you for reading #RedHeartBlueSign, to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

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Day Zero

There are times when I feel sheltered from the news of the world. Last week was one of those times and I was shaken by the news report as I watched The National and a subsequent interview from Cape Town, South Africa. A 350 year old city was facing a day without water, WHAT? I was glued to the story. No Water.

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No water, a concern that once only would have been seen in Star Trek (the original) and was recently addressed in the episode entitled “17 Minutes” on the TV show Travellers (Season 2 episode 7). That concern is now a reality.

Watching the report was alarming to me, alarming because it no only affects 4 million people. Daily water consumption is being restricted to 50 litres per person. There is now a 50 for 150 campaign in Cape Town; 50l of water/person for 150 days. It won’t safe the city, but it will help avoid day zero.

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There are many reasons, but as the Premier Helen Zille, of the province of Western Cape writes, forecasts are unreliable, in an op-ed in the Daily Maverick as normal or more than normal rainfall was forecast last summer. 2017 ended up being the driest summer on record. The premier also writes extensively of the politicizing of water, something we see here in Canada almost daily – politicizing climate change. Read her fascinating column here: https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/opinionista/2018-01-29-from-the-inside-from-hot-water-to-thin-ice-on-the-day-zero-trajectory/?utm_content=bufferf0734&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer#.WndgiGaZN-X.

Day Zero is not only about running out of water, its about circumstances that put our drinking water in jeopardy. There are communities in Canada and the US where the water is undrinkable and unusable. Boil water advisories are becoming more frequent and are in effect longer. Flint Michigan is the American example and California always seems to be on the edge of its own Day Zero. Our First Nations communities live under consistent boil water advisories; incredibly a 22-year boil water advisory will not end until later this year when the government invests $9 Million in a water plant in Neskantaga First Nations, 450 kilometers north of Thunder Bay. Multiple governments have failed the 350 members of that community.

In our own Ontario backyard we need to examine how our water supply will be managed and consumed. in 2016, Nestle bought a well near Elora Ontario, a small town not far from Guelph. Nestle planned to pump 1.6 million litres of water per day from the well for its Canada bottled water consumers. Nestle also pumps water in other communities across Canada including British Columbia. Nestle is doing nothing against the law. As we have seen with protests against pipelines, communities are very concerned with large corporations taking resources out of the ground.

All this has brought the delicate balance our water and natural resources to the forefront of my thoughts. We need to watch our actions, who we allow to take our water, ensure governments protect our resources; act to protect them from and have safeguards built in to contracts when corporations are given access to them.

As consumers of water, we know there is a lot of it in Canada, we should be wary of our consumption. It’s good to see the use of public water refilling stations at big events where we can refill water bottles and other containers. But all of this will mean nothing if we don’t learn from Cape Town and their count down to Day Zero. Little things to reserve our water will help, but as we see from Cape Town it is not enough if rainfalls decrease and drought becomes more frequent.

Cape Town went from overflowing dams to Day Zero in only four years. Day Zero in Cape Town is April 16th, only days ago it was April 12th; only the success of 50l in 150 days will push this day further and perhaps provide relief to the thousands of Cape Towners who now live with 90 second showers using reduced laundry, washing and flushing capabilities.

CBC Radio has been taking a ‘Day Zero’ contingency a bit further, considering the after effects of an earthquake along the BC Coast. Meteorologist Johanna Wagstaffe hosts “Fault Line”, which examines what will takes place Day Zero of a major seismic quake. Taking the listener from the response immediately following the quake, call it Day Zero plus with the minutes, hours, days, weeks and months following the earthquake. I found listening to Fault Lines to be a “wake up” kinda scary. You can listen to the 6 episode podcast on the CBC Radio app or via cbc.ca/podcasts.

Thank you for reading #RedHeartBlueSign, to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

31/365

metooI can say that I had visions of 2018 being a challenging year; 2017 dictated that the 12 months that would follow could be “mind blowing”. Consider my mind blown!

The world is only one month into 2018 and could have anyone predicted that all the events that have unfolded (so far) would take place in just under 31 days?

Hollywood united with “amazing women and phenomenal men” at the Golden Globe awards saying that it was #TimesUp. The #MeToo movement rallied against misconduct and treatment against women with marched around the world.   Political upheaval is being witnessed in all levels of government on both sides of the 49th parallel as (rightly or wrongly) we’re seeing leaders resign.

Pushback by, Canada’s Indigenous Peoples to the government’s reconciliation efforts because it is not indigenous enough.

The Olympics are uniting the Koreas. New trade deals are uniting many countries while isolating some others. There is a war of words between two larger than life leaders. The doomsday clock is pushed forward by 30 seconds to 11:58:00pm.

Rhetoric about trade with the US and Mexico continues to be ramped up by the Americans with NAFTA threatening to be torn up.

Algorithms are changing how we see news and what news we see; Social Media is making sure we only see what we will “like” and keeping what angers us further down on our timelines. All the new news is to be found in newspapers and on the radio. This is the freedom that Facebook once proposed?

The court of public opinion is having dramatic effects; the voices of the dismissed and forgotten are being heard. But at what cost? Are journalists taking risks with their stories, or is the media finding its voice against those that find it fake?

What grabbed my attention in everything above is that in my year of living politically I am surprised by all of it? Should I be? Should I expect the unexpected? Should I think about how the events of the first 31 of 365 days will shape what I can see?

So, what will the remaining 11 months be like? What shape will they take and can/should we expect more revelations that disappoint us? When will we see improvements? Will news see positive results and positive changes?

There will be some outcomes that are more immediate than others. Voters in Canada’s two most populous provinces will vote this year, Ontario in June and Quebec in October.

An earlier barometer will be the leadership contest for the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party following allegations that had the Party Leader, Party Executive Director and Party President all removed from their positions. The membership of the party will have the first say in the direction the party will flow. Will the events of the previous week have an effect on halting possible leadership bids from within the caucus? At the time of posting this, the Interim Leader, Vic Fedeli had decided not to seek the position permanently. Would that be an effect of a new political environment?

Following the selection of the new leader the party almost jumps into election mode, as of March 10th – the date the Leadership is decided there are only 89 days before Ontario votes. Will party choices speed up or kill momentum for the new leader?

As we also approached day 31 of 2018, Donald Trump will have given his “State of the Union” address to the nation. Will events of the previous month and events before that change Trump?   Can there be an expectation that hard lines will be drawn in cement by the President?

On Day 32, February 1st, what are your expectations? More of the same or do you see positive progress from the events that took place January? Let me know, please a comment.

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

Trolls: They gave me three L’s – Look, Listen & Learn

TrollsI watched three movies last weekend; The Last Picture Show (from 1971), The Money Monster (from 2016) and Trolls (also from 2016).

All were entertaining, but following the weekend events of marches and a presidential anniversary, I got more than a toe tapping good time from Trolls. I actually got a message out of the sunshine, songs and hugs. It was Trolls that brought me my “living politically” moment I sought.

If you haven’t seen the movie you will have heard the song “Can’t stop this feeling” from Justin Timberlake. The version in the movie is actually better as Anna Kendrick adds her vocals to the songs…but I digress.

Here’s the premise; the trolls are thought to bring happiness to those that eat them. 20 years previously (in movie time) Trolls were forced from their home to avoid being devoured by Bergens, big bad monsters who are NEVER happy – except when they eat a Troll on a special holiday ‘Trollstis’. On the celebration of the 20 year anniversary of their freedom, they are rediscovered by the Bergen who was banished for not delivering the Trollstis meal that fateful night 20 years earlier.

Now, a full generation as passed and Bergens continue to be miserable, well because there are no trolls to eat.

Trolls are small, colourful and happy; Bergens are big bland and unhappy, very unhappy. One Bergen (Bridget) seeks her happiness with her love for the King, but she is a scullery maid being ordered around by the Bergen Chef, once banished and now seeking redemption. In an effort to save a group of Trolls scooped up Princess Poppy, encounters Bridget and through the ‘positivity’ of being a troll, Poppy convinces Bridget that happiness comes from inside a person, not be eating a troll.

Cutting to the end, Bridget and the King find love (and happiness); all the Bergens discover that they don’t have to eat a troll to find their happiness (and their singing voices); the big bad Bergen chef is once again banished and the land of Bergens is once again full of colour and Trolls and Bergens live happily ever after.

So, here’s the message, and it has nothing to do with singing, dancing or the hourly hugs; though I am sure these would not hurt at all. In the “win” the trolls had over the Bergens, it was not a “win” at all – but collaboration for better days. Trolls Poppy and Branch (Justin Timberlake) don’t push their ideals on others. Instead they work and show how their happiness comes from within; again let me add, no one ever preaches about being best. Well, one person does and that Bergen ends up being the outcast (again) by the time the dancing starts and the credits roll.

Seriously though, healthy debate resolves issues, name calling does not. Understanding issues and looking similar outcomes as a starting point means everyone wins. Being positive on action but not be being positive the other person is wrong will guide everyone down the same path and finally getting to a point that bullying solves nothing is the sure way to a common resolution.

So while I am on the opposite side of the aisle of the government, let me strive to follow three L’s; look, listen and learn from common aspects and seek change and adaptation. It won’t be easy, but I feel that this way if there is no impasse I will have done my best to see and seek a joint solution.

Ah, If only we had hair like Trolls that would tie all this up in simple bow.

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

Naomi Klein: The Leap Manifesto and ‘De-Trumping’

No is not enoughThe Leap Manifesto brought down a federal NDP leader and left the same party with a void in its leadership until late 2017. Following the 2015 Canadian election at the post election leadership review convention of the New Democratic Party (NDP) the membership passed a motion to adopt the Leap Manifesto as policy. The same party, now under the leadership of Jagmeet Singh will have its policy convention in Ottawa in February 2018. Will the party faithful tie their new leader with the manifesto as party policy for the next election?

I need to take a step back. In Naomi Klein’s book “When NO in not enough (resisting the shock politics and winning the world we know)” she provides the history of the Leap Manifesto, which was drawn up in Toronto in 2015. It would be as Klein calls it a ‘platform without a party’. Rather, for 2015 it was a guide for supporters of the “Leap” to challenge candidates and parties to adopt some of the manifesto properties as it had not been adopted as policy by any political party, large or small at that time.

In what would be a good read on the development of the Leap Manifesto on its own, Klein decides that for 75% of “NO is not enough…” She would rather focus on Trump, Pence and the billionaires that have seats around his cabinet table.

Reading this book, the process she describes as leaders from across Canada to think about a way forward was interesting and in my view would have been a better focus for her and book. I mean could not ignore Trump if she tried – but how she spent so much time on him was just inconceivable to me. How each of these leaders came with their own ideas, how the ideas developed and how their questions would be taken and later developed into the Leap Manifesto was interesting, very interesting. I do not profess to agree with a lot of what they would say, it’s the process and how everyone ‘bought in’ into it. The Leap Manifesto is an effort of collaboration, cooperation and patience of likeminded people willing to let smaller gains be forgotten for a larger purpose.

The difficult part of this book is Klein’s extreme dislike of Donald Trump. Her tone towards the election and subsequent policy declaration of Trump remains on the verge of hatred. She goes to great lengths to ‘almost’ single out Trump for the demise of the earth and the effects policy by previous Presidents have had on the speeding up of climate change. Supporters of the President will blast it all as a figment of her imagination, but she does back up her statements and it is there where the reader needs to cut through the fog that is her distaste of Trump.

Klein’s tone softens a bit when discussing the Obama years, saying that Obama had the opportunity (and didn’t take advantage of it) to pass significant legislation to advance American actions to slow climate change. She praises Obama for signing the Paris Accord, stopping the Keystone XL pipeline extension – only to rage back on Trump for reversing those decisions. Klein expresses disappointment that Obama didn’t do more in the first two years of his first term when he had the benefit of a Democratic majority in the Congress. It is difficult to comprehend just how challenging or easy it could have been for Obama (to do what Klein suggests) without any significant understanding of how the Obama White House operated at that time.

Klein always brings it back to Trump, his brand, his rich corporate friends that now hold cabinet positions. She spills a lot of ink on Trump, and how she foresees the Trump brand taking hold of a government response to extreme climate weather clean up with ‘for-profit’ ethics and less than satisfactory results that will not meet the needs of Americans. She cites the clean up of Hurricane Katrina and the Bush era republicans profiting while providing less than stellar security and clean up. I have no doubt that had Klein waited and published this book to include the US government response to Hurricane Maria and the contracts awarded for clean up and restoration of power, she would have the first indication of how a Trump White House reverted to an establishment White House. As I write this, Puerto Rico has been ‘dark’ for 117days – something that Klein would have a heyday over especially being under the watch of Trump.

With “NO is not enough…” Klein calls for the ‘de-trumping’ of America and her tool for doing this is the Leap Manifesto. While the manifesto is not active with a political party (yet) others are embracing it. There is a movement in Thunder Bay Ontario to have a slate of candidates run under a municipal “Leap”. Mid-term elections in the US are coming; will any candidate take up the Leap Manifesto? Will the US Green Party take the “Leap”?

Under the friendlier name of the People’s Platform, Klein and company continue to pursue a worldly ‘Leap’.   In this exercise of living politically, Klein provides a view that needs should be heard. It is unknown if it’s a reasonable solution or if portions of the manifesto are to be lifted – but it was an illuminating read, a read that has opened a door for further investigation.

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

“On the House” by Rob Walsh

In a year of living politically, it challenges me to read more so I know and understand more. The first challenge was to learn about what my political reality really is. As a ‘staffer’ on Parliament Hill I had knowledge of the happening of the activities of how Parliament Hill “works. What I needed was an understanding of why it works the way it does and the historical and constitutional contexts that Canada is governed by.

It could be a book for dreamers, those that dream of becoming an elected Member ofOn the House Parliament. At least by reading the book before making the decision to run, it could weed out a few who might be considering a ‘run’ when the weight of the position is understood.

On the House is written by Rob Walsh, who had a 20-year career as a Law Clerk working with Members of Parliament and their staff on Parliamentary procedure and regulations. On the House introduces the players that support MP’s and staff and also reveals a few secrets that take the mystery out of the daily procedures that rule all that are allowed to be in the House of Commons.

The book arrived at a time when there were ethical questions raised by members on the activities of the government. On the House covers the everyday activities of from the moment a newly elected MP arrives in Ottawa to set up an office, attending Member “school” and to be sworn in, all this to be done before setting one foot into the House of Commons.

Beyond the first steps following an election, On the House, takes the reader (and the new MP) through an exercise of understanding how our constitution was developed going back to before the Magna Carta and the development of the separation of the Crown and Parliament in the United Kingdom.   What follows through in the pages is an evolution of ‘privilege’, ‘ethics’, tradition where much of the work of governing take place. Walsh takes us into committee rooms, into the law clerks office and of course into the House of Commons as he explains how the procedures, with even the smallest alteration would have an large impact.

In light of what has been making recent headlines, the sections on ethics and parliamentary privilege are of particular interest. I should note here that skipping ahead to read these chapters should not be encouraged; having the constitutional context of privilege is needed to know that Canada is governed by history as much as it is by a changing political and social landscape.

The idea of Parliamentary privilege might seem unlawful to Canadians, protecting our elected officials from what is said in ‘the House’ and on Committee? Walsh does a good job to explain why the privilege exists and where it comes from. While privilege exists in the House and in Committee, it does not outside of these, hence the reason you’ll hear requests to have something said in privilege repeated outside the doors of the house (which are used as the cover of On the House).

Through case histories, parliamentary debates and parliamentary procedures outside of the House of Commons Walsh give the reader the experience that even though there are flaws, our form of government that was first set out in the British North America Act of 1867 works. Walsh also uses cases of law that defend the privilege that MP’s enjoy. While Walsh worked to defend many of Parliaments privileges – he does disagree with a few and puts his case forward – but history more than often not wins out and unwritten laws or traditions of privilege remain in place.

It might seem that On the House is a book for the Ottawa bubble, but the reality is that Walsh has provided Canadians with a “how to book” for comprehending how our government and the opposition how each play their roles.  There is legalese to navigate, but would you expect anything else considering the topic? Walsh’s view as Parliamentary Council on our Parliament is unique and one that should be read and shared.

On the House is available through McGill Queens University Press.

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