Category Archives: Canada

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.

 

How Trudeau blew his advantage 

Parliament rose for the summer on June 21, 2017. It was not the best of times for Justin Trudeau; it may have been the worst of times. It may have been the best of times he’ll have compared to what is coming up for him when the MP’s return to Ottawa on September 18, 2017. The reason? Andrew Scheer will be settled into his role as the leader of the Conservative opposition with a shadow cabinet he’ll select. A few weeks later after the return of the house, the NDP will also have a new leader in place to face off against Trudeau.

In my view the period leading from the election to the end of the current session of Parliament should have been clear sailing for the Liberals. They have the majority and what seems the platform the voters wanted and they had the good will of Canadians willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.

The biggest advantage the Liberals had for the 1st two years was that the leadership of the opposition parties in house at the start of the four-year mandate would not be the same when the election would come in 2019. Form the outset it seemed that there could be nothing to stop the Liberals. I don’t think they ever considered that they would be their own worst enemies.

Rather than get to work and pass the legislation they promised, what has Justin Trudeau done? They’ve backpedaled on their biggest election promise – election reform. The Liberals tried to change parliamentary procedure, not once but twice. Trudeau has been caught vacationing where he ought not to have, fundraised with rules he said on the campaign were unfair and transparent appointments turned to partisan nominations. All of this and more led to disruptions in the house by the opposition, extended attacks in Question Period, numerous votes to “have a speaker be heard”, endless amendments to government bills, filibusters in committee and motions that would take hours to vote on during midnight sittings in the House of Commons.

How could’ve all this happened? One word; underestimation. Trudeau and the Liberals underestimated that Rona Ambrose would rally and unite the Conservatives in opposition. Trudeau underestimated that Tom Mulcair would not go quietly.

While the Liberals underestimated the strength of the Conservatives, they returned to the opposition benches with 30+ new first time MPs who wouldn’t have the legacy of Stephan Harper to defend. The Liberals also got greedy; it caused them to ignore parliamentary tradition and try to ply their muscle at a time when it wasn’t needed. The muscle would be best saved for when both the NDP and Conservatives would be in the House with new leaders.

The first 199 sitting days of the Trudeau mandate were just the warm up for what is about to come. The Conservatives have Andrew Scheer honing his skills this summer as their leader and the NDP have five candidates vying to bring back the honour of Jack Layton (Read: Saving the House that Jack Built). Day 200 of Trudeau 2.0 will come September 18, 2017, that is the day that the real game of politics begins.

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.

 

From the floor of the #CPCldr Convention

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This past weekend I attended the Conservative Party Leadership Convention that selected former House Speaker and Opposition House Leader Andrew Scheer as the new leader of the Party, as a non-delegated convention and the second under the one member one vote process the expectations of an exciting outcome were low.

Following the Friday and Saturday evenings of the convention there were seveal factors the made this convention as exciting as any other in the combined PC/Reform/Alliance and Conservative history. here are a few reasons why.

5000 Pundits

There’s a saying, “everyone is an expert”, Saturday night there were 5000 of them. Everyone in the room had a theory and an outcome after each ballot result was announced. Guessing started as soon as 1st ballot results were revealed. The unspoken question everyone wanted to ask was “is this enough of a start for Bernier to win it all?” As successive candidates were dropped off the ballot we discussed where the votes would go and who would benefit from the dropped candidate’s loss. We all acted like the TV hosts lined up along the back of the room covering the event live. It wasn’t until Pierre Lemieux was last on the ballot that the prognostations started to go wild. It was good to see that Conservatives were looking at the possibilities and imagining outcomes and how those outcomes would help or hinder the Party.

Kevin O’Leary

When the results of the first round were announced, the reaction from the party members was not what I expected – laughter. In the first ballot rolecall, Kevin O’Leary was in 11th position with just over 1% of the vote. Previously I wrote about the decsion O’Leary made to drop out and how his timng was all off, rendering his name being left on the ballot.   O’Leary dropped out and endorsed Maxime Bernier, this was supposed to give Bernier the lead he could have to carry him through to win it all. Something happened on the way to the dance though, O’Leary’s followers didn’t go with him and some didn’t show up. It is unsure just where they ended up. Together Bernier and O’Leary are estmated to have 50,000+ memberships and with all of them voting Maxime would have had a lead that would have been insurmountable. He didn’t ,so was O’Leary a factor afterall in the race?

Trost and Lemieux

If there was anything that caused shockwaves greater than Kevin O’Leary finishing 11th, it was not only Brad Trost finishing fourth, but that Trost and and Pierre Lemieux BOTH finished in the top 6. Between them they had 15% share of the vote across Canada. Their 15% represented a huge voting block that was not anticpated by many.   The media did not see this coming.

IMG_20170526_2051172Between Trost and Lemieux, they demostrate the strength of family values and the SoCon segment of the Conservative Party. It is difficult to know how this will play out in the coming weeks and months leading up the 2019 election. But on Saturday evening, Trost and Lemieux from the right and Erin O’Toole from the centre delivered the keys to Stornaway to Andrew Scheer.

Max and Second Choice Support

There was a threshold that had to be met. The only gasp that was louder that then one where Andrew Scheer was announced as leader was the one heard when the first ballot was announced.   The gasp was the result of Maxime Bernier not breaching the 30% threshold of the points available on the first ballot. The consensus was that Bernier needed a strong opening ballot result to see a clear path to 50% with as little second ballot support as possible.

While Andrew Scheer and even as a remote as it seems, Erin O’Toole had a path to the leadership, Bernier however had a narrow path and as the subsequent ballots were announced, Andrew Scheer had faster second, third and fourth ballot support than Maxime Bernier. As the evening progressed through to the 13th and final ballot, even Erin O’Toole could not give Bernier what he needed, the majority of his next level support with the additional 9.63% to get to 50.01. His path was shorter than Scheer’s, but was full of weeds, rocks and fallen trees and was steep. Bernier didn’t make it.

Scheer and the coalition that made him the Leader

Through each round of balloting Scheer slowly gained the the support he needed to eventually overtake Maxime Bernier. Who were the Conservatives that elected Andrew Scheer as Leader of the party? Who was the Kingmaker? Scheer only made significant movement by the time the results for the for the 9th round of balloting was announced and Pierre Lemieux was dropped from the ballot. Scheer gained 2.18% while Bernier only moved 0.45%.

As candidates with support of 7% and higher dropped off, more of their supporters went to Scheer than Bernier, and it was only a matter of time before Scheer became number one, but only if there was enough time. Looking at who was on the ballot, people were doing the math and considered just where support would go, Bernier’s team must have been holding their breath and counting votes through each successive round. In the end it was the right, the environmentalists and the centre of the party that gave Andrew Scheer the final push and the leadership.

The Missing 130,000

There were 259,000 memberships when sales closed at the end of the leadership campaign, only 125,000 ballots were counted in the final results. Where did the 130,000 other ballots go? There have been comments online that as many as 20% of the ballots were spoiled. That still meant a large number of ballots never made it to the count. Were some of the ballots in the hands O’Leary supporters that did not have a home after O’Leary jumped ship? Likely, but what about the remaining 85,000 ballots? Where are they? We’ll never know.

At the end of the evening, the tortoise won the race, out pacing the hare. It was a slow but exciting unpredictable (for a while) release of ballot results – but no one left the room. No one wanted to dare miss the next round results. When the 13th and last round of results were announced, Andrew Scheer had won with a mix of support that would have made Stephen Harper proud. After the roar of victory, band kicked into a version of “We are the Champions” that the best of lounge singers would be proud to be a part of.

It was a good night to be a Conservative.

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: Legacy – How French Canadians Shaped North America

Legacy

The editors of Legacy start and finish the book, in between those pages are the stories of twelve French-Canadians, some I knew of and some I have not – though their names were known to me as street names in Gatineau, across the river from Ottawa.

Andre Pratté contributes the Foreword and Jonathan Kay the Afterword. In the foreword, Pratte hints of who might be considered for a second volume as they were left out. Kay writes in the afterword of his ‘regret’ as a Anglo-Quebecer and how English Canada needs to know about these twelve French Canadians, but also that there are others that need to be heard and known of west of the Ottawa River. Both speak with pride about the role French Canadians played in the growth and prosperity of North American.

Kay says as much in a reply to a tweet I wrote after completing the book.

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My dilemma in reading Legacy was HOW do I read it? Do I read the essays in the order I want, or do I follow (trust) the Editors Pratte and Kay have purposely placed these essays in a particular order? I trusted the editors. 

Legacy was an interesting read, the subject matter was great, but because of the format, I was as at the mercy of the contributors of the book. There were some essays that I had difficulty getting through because of the writer’s style, but I got through them and learned more about the contributions our Quebec cousins made to Canada and North America.

In reading some of the essays I had questions as in with Deni Ellis Bechard’s essay on Jack Kerouac I couldn’t tell if it was written when Kerouac was alive as Bechard doesn’t mention his death in 1969. I was drawn into the life of Montreal’s Paul David and his medical accomplishments. The political tour de force of Thérese Casgrain left me wondering why we had not heard of her and why her name is not mentioned with the Famous Five when it comes to women who leave their mark on this country.

In reading the essays on Thomas-Louis Tremblay and Georges Vanier, their heroics and bravery were outstanding. They are connected through their membership of the 22nd Battalion, the Van Doos and their battles in WWI. It’s interesting that another great Canadian has such a presence in the life of Vanier, Vincent Massey was the foil for everything that Vanier stood for – but both became Governor Generals of Canada, George Vanier was appointed Canada’s Regal representative following the death Massey in 1959.

What I anticipated the most ended up being the most difficult to read. Lucien Bouchard’s essay of Henri Bourassa was riveting. It being a hard read, it forced me go through it twice, I am glad I did. Bourassa ‘s battle with the Catholic Church and Pope Pius XI is well documented, as is his passion for Quebec, a passion that lives on long after his death.

From explorers Pierre de la Vérendrye and Albert Lacombe to Jacques Plante and Kerouac, Legacy brings nine men and three women, all French Canadians and all-important contributors to North American Anglophones AND Francophones to learn about. Writers Ken Dryden (Jacques Plante), the afore mentioned Lucien Bouchard Bourassa), Samantha Nutt (Casgrain), Roméo Dallaire (Tremblay) and Jean Charest & Antoine Dionne-Charest (George-Étienne Cartier) add their voices through their words on Quebec’s and French Canada’s history and place in North America.

Surely there are more than enough subjects for a Volume II.

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.

 

Happy Cannabis Day

Pot FlagThe Trudeau Liberals checked off another box today from their 2015 election promises. Legislation was introduced to legalize the use of recreational marijuana.

In this bill, Trudeau is sitting pretty atop the pyramid of responsibility, he has the least to lose and the least to pay for an issue that in the Provincial Elections of 2011 and 2014 was not raised. Even during my short time campaigning municipally in 2010, this was not an election concern. In the federal campaigns of 2011 and 2015, I don’t recall legal marijuana being listed as a top concern in Ottawa Centre and other ridings, whether it was in Toronto or Ottawa that I helped a candidate in.

While the Liberals have the greatest to gain and the least to lose it’s the two lower tiers that will have to work the hardest to make the legislation work. This is legislation that as far as I can tell was not top of the page in Queens Park, Ottawa or Toronto City Hall or any other provincial legislature. As the responsibility drops, there’s more to lose. The cost of enforcement falls to municipal and provincial police forces; the provincial justice system has to try the cases. Distribution will flow through individual provincial manners much like alcohol and with different provincial policies for health and healthcare it just gets messier.

If the federal government really wanted to take control of legal pot – they could do it all alone using federal institutions that are currently in place. Let’s leave the Provinces and Municipalities out of it. It’s not unrealistic to think that the federal government could do this all on their own, with few exceptions.

Growth and production regulations for of cannabis and cannabis products would fall under the Health Canada, while the Canadian Food Inspection Agency would team up with Agriculture Canada to regulate the growth, collection and inspection of the efficacy and safety of the product going out to Canadians. Health Canada would be responsible for education on the use of pot and the awareness of its use’s effects.

The federal government can rely on Canada Post for distribution of the marijuana to customers, either through mail or in Canada Post outlets. This eliminates the need and legality of others owning the pot dispensaries.

Enforcement falls in to the laps of RCMP; the CBSA could be expanded to include the law’s enforcement and on federal lands (parks and Parliament Hill) wardens and Parliamentary Police Forces would pitch in. In some other cases other levels of policing could be contracted and invoice the federal government when arrests are made. These policing costs would merely be a line item in the larger legal marijuana budget. Criminal cases would be tried solely in federal courts and convictions to be served in federal penitentiaries.

The same concept works for the treatment of cases for marijuana related ambulatory trips to the ER’s, stays in hospitals etc., Provinces can bill the federal government and receive payment through healthcare transfers.

Through all of this, the beauty is that the federal government keeps all the money; there would be no need to share any of the revenue from the sale of the marijuana.

Does this scenario make it more difficult for people who want to smoke it get it? Maybe, but that’s not my issue, more importantly though it makes it simpler to know who is supposed to do what.  It would all fall on the federal government – no one to blame (or praise) for the success or failure of legalizing pot goes to any other level of government.

The bottom line is this; it’s easy to come up with an idea and tell someone else to take care of it. But courage is to take ownership, 100% ownership. In a 2017 Trudeau world, there is no room to take 100% ownership of any problem, there is always someone else.

Now what can we do to move the date of legalization away, far away from Canada Day?

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.

Sanctuary! Sanctuary?

sanctuary-city

A funny thing has happened since November 8, 2016 (Election Day in the United States); people feel the need to defend values in Canada because they feel similar values in the US are being attacked by the new administration. There is a reaction revolution happening in Canada. Protests against the President are taking place; protests are taking place against the decisions being made in the American capital. Funny thing though, Donald trump is not our President, heck, he isn’t even our Prime Minister. Yet Canadians are taking to the street to protest his actions. Likely though, Canadians are just trying to let our Municipal, Provincial and Federal governments know how they feel about the 45th American President.

I found that there are 17 sanctuary cities in the US; the largest are New York, Los Angeles, Detroit and Chicago. In Canada, Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver and London ON are sanctuary cities. London being the newest, as the city council voted in 2017 to become a sanctuary city. But – do we need to have sanctuary cities here in Canada? Hasn’t Canada always been a welcoming country – taking in thousands from areas of the world afflicted with political uncertainty and upheaval?

What does it mean to be a sanctuary city? The designation of being a “Sanctuary City” ensures that people without legal documentation will have access to services they require. The designation also means that illegal immigrants would not be sent back to their home country if they were discovered.

This past week in Ottawa, Somerset Ward Councillor Catherine McKenney indicated she wants to make Ottawa a sanctuary city. A motion to council was expected this week (February 8th), but McKenney held the motion back and hopes to have Ottawa council vote to be a designated sanctuary city in the spring.

The idea of sanctuary goes back over 800 years to the 12th Century in England where fugitives, when they crossed the threshold of a church, the community would be legally required to feed and house the fugitives for up to forty days. I am sure we all at one point have seen a movie where someone is running into a church demanding “sanctuary”. Oh…and after 40 days, the fugitive had to confess his crime, give up everything they owned and walk barefoot to the nearest port and live in exile for the rest of their lives. Sanctuary has evolved since the days of King Henry III.

Back to Ottawa. Ottawa has a very generous history of accepting those from other countries recently; Syrians have found a home on our city as have Vietnamese boat people in the late 1970’s. Ottawans have continuously opened their doors and hearts to help others. Ottawa is now a vibrant multi-cultural community as Iraqi’s, Iranians, Somalians, Congolese and Afghans among others have come to Ottawa to live following political unrest and violence in their home country.

Ottawa, and Canada have accepted the many from the around the world – and in Ottawa’s case, they have had little if any documentation – they have been refugees. This has been done and we have welcomed many without the designation of being a sanctuary city.

So, do we need to have that designation? Conservative or Liberal federal governments have always accepted an open door policy to refugees, this is what Canada is.

Are Canadians and specifically, Canadian politicians allowing President Trump to dictate our laws and regulations? We didn’t expect NO political fallout from a Trump Presidency, but to have one man and his administration have such an effect is surely an overreaction. Canada has survived ‘cool’ relationships with the Americans in the past – what evidence is there where we expect that we won’t get through the next four years, or eight with Trump? It’s not like he can rule as Prime Ministers have for 10-15-20 years.

Are demands for sanctuary cities nothing more than a reaction,  a shield, a need for protection a need to define LOUDLY our Canadian Values?

Do Canadians lose when we feel the need to ‘bulk up’ against someone who has such different values than us? Shouldn’t sanctuary be something we want as a proactive step rather than a reactive move against one person?

If becoming a sanctuary city was such a good idea, why haven’t we discussed this earlier? Why do we need to wait for one person to cause this to happen. If we haven’t needed this is the past, why do we need it now?

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.

 

Hopes, Aspirations & Dreams of 2017

2017

Photo: northernstar.info

2017, it is finally here, though many would have been happy to see 2017 arrive in October of last year. To begin the year here is a list of my hopes, aspirations and dreams for the coming 12 months.

I have been waiting a few years now for new music from Michelle Branch, though rumoured for sometime, she recently tweeted out that we could expect something new in 2017. She is listed in Entertainment Weekly’s list of anticipated music for 2017. Also, I can’t wait for the follow up disc by Ryan Adams after his version of Taylor Swift’s ‘1989’ last year (which I loved as much as TS’s). His new Lp ‘Prisoner’ comes out early 2017.

I am also keenly interested in sophomore releases from Lorde, Haim and The Chainsmokers in this, a year where Taylor Swift isn’t scheduled to drop any new music. I am holding out hope that the new John Mayer disc will sparkle. Here is what EW complied for music we just can’t wait to listen to, http://ew.com/music/2016/12/22/most-anticipated-albums-2017/?xid=entertainment-weekly_socialflow_twitter

The Grey Cup comes to Ottawa in November, wouldn’t it be sweet to see the Ottawa Redblacks make three straight Cup appearances and repeat as champs?

Still on sports, here’s dreaming that the Ottawa Senators can go deep in the playoffs in 2017 just as the Redblacks did the past two years, the Ottawa Champions did (and won) last summer and the Ottawa Fury FC accomplished in 2015.

After going 4-1 in By-election wins since Patrick Brown became leader of Ontario PC Party, he will the opportunity to increase that to five wins now that former Liberal Minister David Orazietti resigned as MPP for Sault Ste Marie on December 31st. Whether there will be other provincial by-elections is yet to be seen as others in the Liberal government weigh their options leading up to the 2018 Ontario General Elections.

There will finally be one Conservative standing the in party’s leadership race come May, hopefully the party will stand behind whoever he or she may be after the convention. I still have no clue of who will replace Rona Ambrose in the House of Commons as the Leader of the Opposition. The NDP race becomes more interesting now that calendars have flipped from 2016 to 2017, we might shortly have the first declared candidate for Mulcair’s chair.

Finally, I aspire that we can all get along while having our differences. I hope days of populist chants and unresearched claims and inaccurate accusations will be left behind. We all should be better informed and read past the click bait headlines on social media. This is the only way we can have healthy debates about the issues our leaders face in coming 12 months.

Maybe just maybe I will finally get around to posting a vlog.

What are you looking forward to in 2017?

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.