Category Archives: Canada

Affordable Climate Change action, for some

mckennaThis week Environment and Climate Change Minister (and my MP) Catherine McKenna made an announcement, a funding announcement.  Joining her were area MP Anita Vandenbeld (Ottawa West Nepean) and Mona Fortier (Ottawa Vanier).  The funding provided would allow a grocery store to replace refrigeration and lighting in the store.  What a great idea, there are several local grocery and food operations that are struggling due to the high cost of food transportation and new carbon taxes.

What a coup for that local store to get that funding and an announcement with the Minister!

The store was a Loblaws store and the amount was $12M from the Low Carbon Economy Fund and that money would equal the emissions of 50,000 cars coming off the roads.  This is good funding money, but really, Loblaws? Loblaws not only had huge profits, but in 2017 also was found guilty of a 14-year long bread price fixing scheme. Loblaws Companies Limited had a net profit of $3.4B in 2018.    Minister McKenna could not find a local operation that has maybe 2 or 3 locations?  A small chain of specialty health food stores?  Kardish Foods, for one, comes to mind they are Ottawa local and a good local success story

I think however the number the Minister really wants everyone to focus on is 50,000 – as in the emissions reduction of taking 50K cars off the road.  BUT I argue that we should be looking at numbers like $3.4B in profit and $12M.

On the face of it, this announcement slaps small local stores that struggle with the high cost of hydro to keep lights, freezers and fridges running.  The Liberals could have done themselves a huge favour (and everyone knows they could use it) by making the announcement at a small butcher shop, a local restaurant, a health food store or any other example of a company that doesn’t make a profit of $3.4B.  Bog box chain stores like Loblaws don’t need funding announcements that represent a mere 0.35% of annual profits.

Gifting $12M to Loblaws tells me that Ottawa Centre MP Catherine McKenna has allowed the arrogance of Justin Trudeau and his Liberals to overtake any sense of normalcy she might have had. This announcement shows just how out of touch Trudeau and his team have become. It comes at a cost to Loblaws who have taken a social media hit and it will, if social media posts are to be believed, as many plan to never set foot in a Loblaws store again.

Liberals are saying that the LCEF is an application baesd program, but shouldn’t there be a financial aspect to this?  Should government funding to help those who can afford the type of retrofitting that Loblaws is going to get?  Any funding awarded from this program should benefit those who really wouldbenefit from it. In Ottawa Centre, the riding of Minister McKenna, is home to many small businesses; butcher shops, fish markets, fruit and vegtable stores, business that rely on refridgerators to stay in business.  I am sure that Minister McKenna shops in these stores that are close to her home in Ottawa.

While there’s huge role for the large comglomerates, climate action only works if the small businesses see that they get a buy in and are part of a solution.  In Question Period both the Conservatives and the NDP peppered the Liberals with questions why they were only helping companies that could afford the retrofits without money from the LCEF.

In what has become the Liberals achilles heel, where once they were seen as looking out for every Canadian, now they seem to be looking out for Canadians, but others get helped first.  Its actions like what took place this week that make Justin Trudeau and the Liberals as looking out for the 1% and those looking to stay in the 1%.

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& @rdmediaottawaand on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

Advertisements

(don’t tell the Irish) The Scots Invented Canada

Scots 2
April 6th is Tartan Day in Canada, how appropriate that I sit and write a few words about a book I first spotted in the office of a Senator when I toured the new Senate building a few weeks back.

I learned that there is almost a cottage industry of books written about things that Scots have invented.  There are books written about how the Scots invented the modern world, golf, fine single malts and Canada.  How Scots invented Canada was written in 2010 by Ken McGoogan and looks at 5 dozen or so Scots/Canadians with Scottish blood lines.

There are the expected profiles and where they stand in Canadian history, like Sir John A MacDonald, George Brown, William Lyon Mackenzie King, Frederick Banting and Sanford Fleming.  We know their place in Canadian history as fathers of confederation, the building of the CRP Railway and in the world of medicine and science.   McGoogan then goes and expands all our knowlledge of all things scottish and give us names like Alexander Grahma Bell, Doris Anderson, Timothy Eaton, John McCrae and Nellie McClung.  He manages to bring Scots into to present day Canada where the world continues to expand and unfold.

Lets go back to the pre-confederation for a bit.  Famine, wars, the American Revolution all emerge as some reasons of how many of Scottish decent came to the Upper and Lower Canada provinces.  Scots loyal to the crown found refuge in early Canada.  The Scots led to the successful mapping of trade routes to the west coast, some doing faster than anyone could have ever imagined. The growth of the Hudson Bay Company was at the hands of Scots that had been educated due to the “Scottish Enlightenment” where reading was given to many.  The enlightenment was a leading road to building the character of well educated Scots that would be foremost in business management and growth.  The growth of the fur trade and the establishment of the trade routes were instrumental in bringing the west coast colonies into an eventual confederation in 1871.  That move to came about with a promise to build a transcontinental railway.

Moving through the decades, profiles of Bell, George Brown and Timothy Eaton talk of leaders in communications.  Bell with the telephone, Brown as a leader in newspaper publishing and Timothy Eaton with the catalougue .  These communication giants helped grow commerce in a young country.  These three live on in 2018 with Bell Canada, The Globe and Mail and the centre of commerce in Toronto, the Eaton Centre.

Of Canada’s Prime Ministers, 60% have Scottish heritage.  14 of 24 can claim a direct Scottish lineage right up to our current PM, Justin Trudeau.  Younger Trudeau’s mother comes from the Sinclair Scots and his grandmother from his father’s side was also Scottish as Pierre Elliott Trudeau was borne from a Scottsh mum and French father.  Besides Sir John A, McGoogan brings us our other leaders; Diefenbaker, Tommy Douglas, Nellie McClung and paths through their family lines that started back in the homeland.

While the book is an informative read about the mapping, discovery and building of our nation, there are a few chapters where I find he looks pretty far back to find the thinest of Scottish thread.  But have no fear he talks about Robbie Burns and the ties that the great poet has to Canada. He even reveals a personal connection in his family to Robbie Burns.

Over 60 profiles build a a strong case that the Scottish really did build Canada.  If you are Scottish you’ll enjoy this, if you want to be Scottish “How the Scots invented Canada” will reinforce that feeling. With all of the work McGoogan does to lay out his claims that the Scots really did ‘invent’ Canada, you have to wonder what everyone else doing?

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 &  @rdmediaottawaand on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

Neil and Randy: The Winnipeggers

A few months ago I was given Shakey, a biography of Neil Young, surprisingly it took a false start and a few months to read it.  But after finishing Jimmy McDonnough’s work I knew the next book I had to read; Randy Bachman’s Tales from Beyond the Tap. The reason for this is amount of ink that Neil Young gives Randy, was it reciprical by Randy?  They are Winnipeggers, the early pioneers of rock and roll in Winnipeg (and Canada).  They made it and got away from Portage and Main.

The two books are not that different; McDonough asked Neil Young a TON of questions while also getting more about the music and life of Young by talking to many people that have been part of his life and and his music.  There are the tales of being on the road; accounts of being in the recording studio and the politics of the music industry. In Tales from Beyond the Tap, Bachman answers questions from listeners of his CBC Radio Show “Vinyl Tap”. The questions range from his life influences, tales of being on the road and his adventures in the recording studio.

What emerges from the two books are parallels in experiences in Rock and Roll.  Freindships and rvialries and many stories about the music.  The two books also reference the other Winnipegger.  In the index of Shakey, Randy Bachman is mentioned in 18 pages through Bachman directly and indirectly via The Guess Who, Bachman Turner Overdrive and Chad Allen. Unfortunately, In Tales from Beyond the Tap, there is no index to count the number of times Bachman refers to Young, whether its about recording, guitars and gizmos, touring and songwriting Bachman has great respect for Neil Young and he mentions his fellow Winnipeg rock pioneer on numerous occasions. Cleary though when reading the two books, there is a mutual respect for each other.

As songwriters, the two came about it differently; Young seems to have been writing from the moment the guitar was in his hands.  For Bachman the reality of being a serious songwriter came as a a result of a business deal offered to him and Burton Cummings by producer Jack Richardson.  Both have been prolific writers in their prime churning out great songs, while their output may have slowed,  they have not stopped challenging themselves.

Both Randy and Neil love life in the studio, they thrive on achieving a sound and for both it’s a sound that they’ve thought about before recording.  This brings with it disagreements and causes division.  In Bachman’s case 1977’s Freeways was the end of his time in BTO as he sought to bring in a different texture to the classic BTO on their 6thLp. It seems that Young has constantly been in conflict with everyone when it came to beng in the studio. He rebelled after Harvest was released as everyone wanted a Harvest 2, but more accurately no one knew what the result of Neil in the studio would be until he delivered the final master tapes.

Neil and Randy have always looked for something new, what would their next project be? For Young that often meant a new kick at the can at CSN&Y, or touring with Pearl Jam and embracing the era of grunge and the return to playing with Crazy Horse. Bachman, like Young, often went back to what was familiar; there was the Guess Who reunion tour, the Bachman-Cummings songbook and 2010’s Bachman-Turner that brought him back to the straight ahead rock of BTO with Fred Turner.

I think the best insight into these two Canadian music icons comes from an interview that Randy did with Guitar Player magazine in 2015 after the release of his Heavy Blues CD.

Geoff Kulawick, who is a friend of mine from Canada, had taken over True North Records, and was interested in signing me to a record deal if I would do something “new and exciting.” At the same time, I was inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame in January of 2014, and Neil Young was there, because his pedal-steel player, Ben Keith, was inducted as well. Ben had passed away, so Neil was there to accept for him. I told Neil I had a new record deal, and he said, “Great opportunity. Do yourself a favor: Don’t do the same old stuff. Get a new band, get different guitars, get a different producer. Do something scary that you’ve never done before or haven’t done in a while. Go into a strange room, challenge yourself, and see what happens.” (Full interview is available here: https://www.guitarplayer.com/players/randy-bachman-delivers-heavy-blues-with-a-power-trio)

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 &  @rdmediaottawaand on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

She said He said They said

It seems like ages ago that the first word on a small issue that may or may not have started out of the Prime Ministers Office came out.  Did anyone think seven weeks ago that  we would still be talking about this?  In fact as the timeline extends on what is commonly known as #LavScam or “the thing that Liberals don’t want anyone to talk about” you just have to know there will be more.

The fallout has been emence; three cabinet shuffles, two resignations from cabinet, one Liberal MP is now sits as an independent, one ‘retirement’ and the resignation of the Principal Secretary for the Prime Minister. Then there is the collateral damage; a committee shutdown, an inaudible budget speech, a walkout and 31 hours of voting.  Apparently, even though the Prime Minister and the Liberals on the Justice Committee have all said that the story has been told they neglected to ask the person at the centre of the storm, Jody Wilson-Raybould (JWR) – she has more to say.

The Prime Minister is treating this like a chess match, saying that JWR has used up all her time, 4 hours, when she appeared at the Justice committee a few weeks back.  The problem with that situation is that following her testimony former Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, Gerald Butts came forward to tell his version of events to the committee.  In fact the Justice committee allowed now retired Clerk of the Privy Council Michael Wernick to comeback to answer to some of JWR’s testimony.

Now that Butts and Wernick have had their chance to reply to JWR, the opposition have been pressing to have JWR back in front of the Justice Committee. They have held up regular proceedings in Parliament, they worked towards having the presentation of the budget delayed and forced a a vote on 257 motions, all spending items, that could – and almost did topple the government.

But wait, what’s this? The Liberals are willing to let JWR and Jane Philpott have their say, but not in a committee but in the House where parliamentary priviledge allows them to say anything without any threat of litigation on what is said.  The issue with this is that the government could and would limit Wilson-Raybould and Philpott’s speaking time and would not allow for questions to prode further into their statements.  This seems to be the message du jour from the Liberals as Judy Sgro and Melanie Joly have come out in favour of this and if this is what the Prime Minister wants expect more from the Liberal Caucus to speak out.

In the meantime Wilson-Raybould has said she will be sending a written statement with details of texts and emails that will further support her initial remarks. She can certainly send to the committee her written submission but I don’t think the Liberal majority on the committee will accept it, remember last week the Liberals forced an end to the study saying they had heard enough – nothing more is needed to be said.

The only thing I can safely say here; this is not going away. Just when you think all this is all done and there can be no more something happens and so far the something has been a misstep from the government. I mean, this is the third post I’ve written on this subject since February 12th, there will be more.

Both sides have called ‘check’ in this match of words and wills, but no one yet can claim “check-mate”.

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&  @rdmediaottawaand on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

From the Gallery: #BlameBrison

Brison ResignsOn February 6, 2019 in the House of Commons former President of the Treasury Scott Brison said “thank you and miss me, but don’t forget me”.  A few days later Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a media scrum “if Scott Brison had not  stepped down from cabinet, Jody Wilson-Raybould would still be Minister of Justice and Attorney General.”   This is the beginning of what is being known as #BlameBrison.

#BlameBrison has caused the following moves; Minister Philpott from Indigenous Services  to fill the desk emptied by Brison at Treasury Board, Seamus O’Regan was moved to Indigenous Services and the now infamous move of Wilson-Raybould to Veterans Affairs and the move out of left field from the back benches of David Lametti to Justice Minister and Attorney General.  Trudeau also added one more Minister to his cabinet, bringing another back bencher forward, Bernadette Jordan into the role of Minister of Rural Economic Development.

Watching all this from the gallery, the strangest move was not Wilson-Raybould, it was moving O’Regan; Veterans Affairs  Canada (VAC) is not a slouch file and needs a Minister that will stand up for our Veterans. Bold promises by Trudeau in 2015 have been followed by Ministers, until Wilson-Raybould was appointed last month that were weak and did not perform well. I wish someone could tell me just what it is that Minister O’Regan did in 18 months in VAC to warrant a move to Indigenous Services, a file in which Trudeau’s entire claim of reconciliation is dependent on.

If Trudeau is in fact correct and Wilson-Raybould could still be the AG and Minister of Justice, there would only have been one seat fill when Scott Brison resigned. Now the move of Minister Pilpott to Treasury takes a solid cabinet minister to a key portfolio. That leaves only one person to move to replace Philpott and maintain the work being done on reconciliation. One person was more than qualified for the position and more qualified than Seamus O’Regan, Dan Vandel the Parliamentary Secretary who served under Minister Philpott.  Vandel has the experience in the Indigenous Services portfolio and also has worked with First Nations communities in Winnipeg.  Trudeau makes that one move and quite possibly Trudeau and PMO only has to worry about the Mark Norman Case where it’s expected Brison will be called to testify.

The 400 words above make sense if the following doesn’t happen.  SNC Lavalin had not spent years lobbying for a deferred prosecution agreement to avoid a criminal trial. A remediation clause for the criminal code wasn’t buried in a budget omnibus bill.  The allegations of PMO putting pressure of Wilson-Raybould were not published by the Globe and Mail. The Standing Committee on Justice was not a sideshow circus of a committee meeting, and as of today (February 18, 2019) Gerald Butts, Principal Secretary for the Prime Minister would not have resigned. Unfortunately all these events did take place, and the Prime Minister shuffled four Ministers to cover one resignation.  In the space of ten days, Minister Wilson-Raybould  resigned from Cabinet, Trudeau has told three versions of the reasons for the Wilson-Raybould move to VAC; The Ethic Commissioner announced an examination of the SNC Lavalin persuasion allegations and Liberals controlled the Special Justice Committee agenda.

Welcome to the Brison Effect. #BlameBrison

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&  @rdmediaottawaand on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

Remediation Obstruction Instruction?

There is something significant happening in Ottawa now and it is not insignificant and it could cost the Liberals the election. It is not insignificant because its happened before.  What occurred to Stephen Harper in 2015 seems likely to happen to Justin Trudeau in 2019.  Actions taken by the government of the day are going to play out in court and in social media and an election.

In 2015 it seemed the Harper government was on trial, though it was really Mike Duffy.  The trial was about what was said and approved for Senators appointed by the Harper government.  It played out during an election campaign and everyone attention to it.  Flash ahead to 2019, Justin Trudeau and his government are going to be dividing there time, as Harper did, between campaign communications and daily rebuttals about a potentially damaging court case.

Mike Duffy walked into court everyday, hounded by reporters but never answering a question, he was the face of everyone who was looking for a reason to vote against Stephen Harper (there were other reasons of course). Now,  just weeks before the federal election starts Vice Admiral Mark Norman will walk in to a courtroom everyday.  Wearing his uniform he will be the face many believe is the victim of a government’s interference.

Cabinet Ministers will be testifying, the former President of the Treasury Board, Scott Brison will likely be called when the case goes to trial.  Right now the case for the defense of Mark Norman is playing out with a battle for documents.  Brian Platt, a reporter for the National Post, has been laying out just how far the defence believes the government has gone to prevent key documents from being made available.  Platt’s twitter feed is full of the defence vs the prosecution in a case of breach of trust that involves military shipbuilding against the Vice-Admiral.

So far the case has been intriguing to the opposition and people who thrive in a political bubble.  The bubble will burst in late July and August when the case is expected to be heard.  You just know the opposition parties, especially the Conservatives will be playing up the angle of  “interference of the government”.

While a singlular but not insignificant situation can be enough for a government to handle in an election, a second leaves the election war room wishing days had an extra 6 hours.  While the Liberals have to worry about what is perceived by the voters in the Norman case, there is another worry for them.

It’s only been five days, but seems like an eternity since Globe and Mail reporter Robert Fife broke the news on February 7th of alleged influence being applied to former Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould to allow a plea deal and fine to SNC Lavalin rather that go to court.  For most Canadians this will all be new – the US and the UK have laws that permit applications for remediation.  Canada only adopted such a law this year in Bill C-74, a Budget Bill.  Liberals buried an “out” in the criminal code to address corporate crime in a bill that was meant to implement government spending.  It’s allegations are not before the courts…but will be examined by the Ethics Commissioner and the Justice Committee, which is controlled by a majority of Liberal MPs, which will be discussing the need for the public inquiry to investigate the allegation.

Significant events shape how voters respond in the fall election.  These are not insignificant events.

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 &  @rdmediaottawaand on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

 

No. 3 Saville Row, London

50 years ago on January 30, 1969, the Beatles performed live for the last time.  It wasn’t a big show, but it was a big deal.  The Fab Four performed on the rooftop of No. 3 Saville Row, home of Apple Corps.  According to Tripadvisor, No. 3 Saville Row is 679th on a list of 1914 attractions in London. The Beatles performed 9 songs including 3 takes of ‘Get Back’.  On the 50th anniversary of the fab four finale it’s announced that award winning director Peter Jackson will be piecing together unseen footage of the Let it Be sessions giving generations of Beatles fans a new look at the sessions that would result in the final Lp that the Beatles would release.  There have been many articles written about the rooftop concert, the movie shows four musicians  who still had something to prove.  For there to be a new film about that time, that music, that LP and that concert its like a new Star Wars movie moment for me.

Forty one years ago, was the release of another generational last concert .  On the American Thanksgiving in 1976,  The Band hosted “The Last Waltz” a dinner and a concert for and with many of their friends at the Winterland Ballroom in San Fransisco. Conceived by Robbie Robertson the Last Waltz was not planned to be the end of the The Band, but rather like the Beatles, the end of touring.  It ended up being the end of the Band led by Robbie Robertson though.   The Band invited many of their friends to join them on stage for the farewell.  The film directed by Martin Scorsese, stands as one of the finest concert documentaries.  Five different versions of the concert, five different song line-ups.  If you’re counting, there’s the  concert song line up which differs from the film which differs from the original 1978 soundtrack version which differs from the 2002 four disc CD to finally,  the 40th anniversary edition released in 2018. which is different from all the others.  Amazingly and for whatever reason each has a different song sequence.  Perhaps Robbie Robertson can answer the question with the follow up to his book Testimony which ended after the final song of the concert.

In 1976, Neil Young performed two songs in The Last Waltz, though only those who were in the Winterland Ballroom would see Young perform ‘Four Strong Winds’, it hasn’t appeared (that I know of) on any released version of the Last Waltz.  In ’76 Young was an established artist but it was only 10 years earlier that he started making a name for himself  since arriving in California from Toronto.

Young compared his music, especially the sessions for the ‘Everybody Knows this is nowhere’ album to that of the Beatles, short and traditionally structured.  Its not the only comparison he makes to the Beatles. In the biography “Shakey” his says his time with CSN&Y is like the Beatles while performing with Crazy Horse is like the Rolling Stones.

In 2006 Young started releasing his archive series, live recordings going back to 1968.  The second archives release is his concert in Massey Hall in 1971, it went to #1 in Canada and #6 in the US.   It was a time when he was extremely creative he would release music with Buffalo Springfield, CSN&Y, Crazy Horse and also released solo recordings.  The Live at Massey Hall recording is momental for a few reasons, first its recorded in Massey Hall and it captures Young just before he would have his first #1 hit, Heart of Gold. It’s this tour in 1971 that had Neil at his best.  When I first listened to the recording in 2007 I got chills.  Here was Young playing music that was new in ’71.  No one knew what would happen to it.  But as I listened I was envious that I was not there (I was only 11 at the time) to hear these incredible songs that would end up on “Harvest”.  The people that filled Massey Hall that evening had no idea that they were a part of a generational shift in music.

I can only imagine what those  people that jammed Massey Hall in 1971 thought of the music they were listening to – and then to have the chance to hear it all again 36 years later.  It gives me chills just thinking now how they would react to hear that show all over again kowing that his music that night would be as great today as it was when he played those songs befiore they were released on that in 1971.  There is a part in that show where I stand (or sit) still and just listen.  It happens as Neil has walked off the stage and the crowd starts clapping, banging seats and making noise with just about anything to bring him out for an encore.  It goes on for at least 4 minutes before Young reappears and starts into ‘I am a child’. I listen in amazement to the reaction of those at the concert when he comes back.  It gives me shivers every time.

Imagine being one of the 2,765 people that would have had the opportunity to be making that noise in Massey Hall that night to bring him back, but to hear it all again a generation later.  That’s what makes this recording worthy of being connected to The Beatles on the roof on No. 3 Saville Row and The Band in The Last Waltz in a trifecta of concerts we should not be without watching or listening to.

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&  @rdmediaottawaand on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net