Category Archives: Elections

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.

Saving the House that Jack Built

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One leadership race is done (see From the floor of the #CPCldr Convention) and one more to go. The Federal NDP will choose their new leader before October 30, 2017. Seriously there is no firm date, check out the NDP Leadership website, https://www.ndp.ca/leadership-2017.

When I last wrote about their leadership race (June 2016) there was only one candidate, sort of. Ontario MPP Cherie DiNovo said she would run but was balking at paying a fee to enter the race. She has since left the race. Since that day there have been as many as 6 candidates running, currently there are five.

Why is a Conservative like me so concerned about the NDP Leadership? Two reasons, it’s exciting to watch and the Conservative Party needs the NDP to have a strong leader. The Trudeau Liberals kicked great NDP MP’s out of the House of Commons. For the Liberals to lose their majority or even lose the next election, the New Democratic Party needs to have a leader that will capture the imagination of voters on the left the way that Jack Layton did.

Today there are five candidates, Pat Stogran, Canada’s first Veterans Ombudsman dropped out shortly after jumping in. The last candidate to announce was the Ontario NDP Deputy Leader Jagmeet Singh, a smart, bilingual and charismatic Ontario MPP. He wants to jump into the federal game. He joins Nikki Ashton, Charlie Angus, Peter Julian and Guy Caron to fill the shoes of Jack Layton, because really the last thing the NDP needs is another Thomas Mulcair, at least the one who thought he could be the next Prime Minister. Mulcair’s shoes are going to stay in the mudroom – never to be worn again.

The moment that the NDP had been waiting for has come and gone, the Conservatives are no longer sucking all the air out leadership media coverage. The general consensus was ‘wait for the Conservative leadership to be over, then we’ll (the NDP) will have the spotlight’. Have you noticed any difference? The addition of Jagmeet Singh was a blip on in the media. It might be because it’ssummer, it might be that Parliament is still in session but I am sure there is more to why the NDP leadership is so, so boring.

I think that the candidates have learned by watching the Conservative race and have chosen not to be controversial. In fact the one candidate that came out swinging is no longer in the race – Pat Stogran. Watching him make his pitch in the first days after his announcement of jumping in was fascinating – he was adding energy and challenging the left to look at themselves and make them think about what was needed to become government. He entered the race April 20th; by June 3rd he was gone.

I looked for any kind of polling numbers, but there are none, so how can we judge who might be leading in this race. Some very loose searching (I was using Wikipedia) has me guessing the following on how the polls might look:

  1. Peter Julian: With 6 MPs, Julian has the most declared Federal MP support
  2. Jagmeet Singh: He has endorsements from 5 Provincial NDP members and 3 municipal councillors.
  3. Nikki Ashton: Ashton has 1 NDP MP (Benson), Ontario’s Cheri DiNovo, the Manitoba Interim NDP Leader and Ontario Federation of Labour Leader Sid Ryan backing her.
  4. Charlie Angus: Charlie MLA’s from Ontario (2) Yukon and Manitoba endorsing him, Former MP Andrew Cash and the union PSAC are in his corner.
  5. Guy Caron: Caron is lagging behind with only one former MP and a Hamilton School Board Trustee endorsing him

There is so much time left that this race could shift, the summer BBQ circuit is going to be important, as will the 5 remaining debates. There are going be big challenges; Julian needs to be seen by the youth as viable; Singh needs a National profile and a current MP to endorse him; Ashton needs to grow her support among caucus and Angus and Caron also need to get strong endorsements from within the caucus.

The question mark is where do the strongest MPs go? Who will get Nathan Cullen’s endorsement? We also need to find out where Leap Manifesto writers Avi Lewis and Naomi Klein will shake out, after all they practically ‘wrote’ Mulcair’s end as NDP Leader.

Bring on the summer and the campaigning. By the time September comes around there could be one person standing taller than the others to save the house that Jack built.

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.

Elections should be easier for voters: Part Two

Polling Station

In my post from May 20th, I discusssed how simplicity and clarity could not only help political parties with their message, but help voters understand what they are voting for.   The idea is to lay out a four year plan with a simple theme in each year of a the  mandate. I mentioned a possible plan would be to have each budget have a one focus,  the four ‘thematic’ budgets would be Health; Environment; Energy and Education. But you say to me, “Rob you forgot about transportation, social services, job creation, First Nation etc.” My response is that each of those could appear in each budget as long as the overall focus remains on the priority set out by the government.  Each ion those can be part of that years budget focus.

For the sake of clarity let me focus on two specific budget priorities; Health and the Environment. In each of these other spending tracks are found.

Let’s look at Health Care. The major issue to be addressed is the delivery of health care to Ontarians, eliminating wait times and ensuring that there are doctors for everyone. Within health care you will find infrastructure spending to build new hospitals and care centres. Social services are covered under mental health services, autism testing and education. If you want to cover First Nations you’ll see it in emergency care, access to health service for education to prevent health issues both physical and mental health in First Nations communities.

Through the “health care” budget, we also can help the innovation sector with the challenge to provide long distance care electronically allowing physicians the ability to see patients via skype etc. Job creation comes from construction, expanded social services and while this happens the province expands the post secondary school sector focusing on educating in health sciences to serve the expanded health care network in the province.

My second example is the Environment. We can apply the same ‘political science’; Ontarians could find many of the other spending opportunities areas to help the environment. Innovation spending will be narrowed to creating clean green energy inexpensively, repairing and replacing municipal infrastructure that leads to cleaner air and land. Let’s not forget transportation either. Moving people can be a huge factor in reducing CO2 emissions.

Let’s use the “environment” budget to move people by rail, work with car manufacturers to design and build less expensive electric and low emission vehicles. and the infrastructure to support these vehicles. Agriculture also gets a boost from environmental spending – helping farmers adjust with new energy, farming innovations and studies to assist in concerns like a reduced bee population. We should always remember, farmers are the worlds first stewards when it comes to the environment and sustainability.  governments in Ontario in the last 13 years have given rural voters second and third place in the budget line-up.  This budget design gives equal voice to all ministries in the economy  of Ontario.

The main idea is stop having hodge podge budgets where many sectors get a little of the budget pie. Thought out properly each budget can address one major area of government with a trickle down effect to others. What this does is ensure Ministries have to work together – as long as the ministries can stay within the priority of that budget.

Working in this method will result in governments thinking and working better and harder for the voters. It requires forethought, planning and anticipating future needs of the province. It means government must listen to non-partisan sector experts as this type of budgeting is never ending.

This idea is like running the 10,000 meter race and how a runner prepares and is coached for it.  You will run around a 400 meter track 25 times, but as the race progresses the strategy changes. The budgets can work the same way. By the time you revisit health care, you will see where your plan took the province and will see how to change the strategies to fit where your previous actions have taken you. Obviously hope you don’t have to backtrack.

Does this have a chance of taking hold? Are politicians beholden to how budgets are planned now? Can political parties turn the corner and recognize that the voters need to see things get done differently, not the same way – in Ontario the same way is not helping?

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.

Elections should be easy for voters: Part One

RHBS 160In one year we will be in the middle of a writ period in Ontario. Leaders of all of Ontario’s main parties will tell you “this is the most important election Ontario has ever had”. Let’s be clear, every election is always more important than the last one – the future is at stake, the four year ‘near’ future.

Instead of talking about how this coming election was more important that the 2014 election, wouldn’t it be better if the next election was presented in such a way that voters would know what to expect and understand what will take place based on a “real” election promise, not something vague. Somethings about the needs of Ontarians that is real to them and will make a difference.

Election promises are made, some are kept and others, well…aren’t. But to be honest sometimes the promises don’t make sense and just provide an agenda (if you don’t like the platform) or plan (if you support the leader and the party) for a four year mandate. Here is a simple idea – a simple four year plan to the voters of what will take place until the next election on four major themes. If you think about what happens now, each year of spending is a pot pouri of promises without a specific theme. Budgets are like Mambo #5; a little bit for you, a little bit for that group and little bit here and there. Lets talk about changing that with thematic budgets that address specific areas of the lives of Ontarians.

Simply put there are four areas that matter to voters: Health Care; Education; the Environment and Energy. Yes, yes…there are other important areas, but they can exist in one or  more of the four sectors mentioned. Each year of the mandate would feature a budget that focuses on one sector and its sub-sectors. It could look something like this:

Year One: Health Care

Year Two: The Environment

Year Three: Energy

Year Four: Education

Here is my theory, you do health first because changing health care is like steering a oil tanker on the seas, turning around takes a long time – it can’t make that turn on dime.  It will take four years for changes made to be seen and felt  for Ontarians.  If it works then Ontarians will see improvement in how health care is delivered by the time the next election comes around. In the second year the Environment is the theme and ties into year three with Energy. In year four Education is addressed for action after studies and consultations are done in the first 2-3 years of the mandate. If successful the four year platform rolls out smoothly, is successful and sees positive results that will ensure a second mandate.

Now, it will be problematic if there is no plan to follow up four years of success. Think back to Mike Harris and his five priorities, he completed his five priorities successfully however without a plan that could follow them up and because of that, under Ernie Eves, the Ontario PC’s fizzled. The lack of additional priorities was death bell of the Ontario PC’s in 2003 and brought us McGuinty and Wynne – we know how that has worked for Ontario.

The needs of Ontario do not stand still, neither should election plans, but governments get tired and try to stay relevant based on yesterday’s success. In this series of posts, I will look at the possibilities of having a structured election plan. It may even be considered as free advice heading to the June 2018 Ontario election.

 

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.

O’Leary was Late

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For months Conservatives have been waiting for consolidation among the ranks of the 14 candidates vying for the Conservative Party leadership.   Most were expecting (and secretly hoping) that one, two – oh heck 4 or 5 candidates on the lower end of polls would exit the race, I wonder if they were wary of having their own David Orchard moment and getting promises that would never be realized? Whatever the reason, the time to leave the race came and went with no movement from the bottom.

The moment in question I mention is the date before ballots were printed. Whatever date it was – that day came and went with 14 candidates going to the printer for 259,010 Conservative Party members to mark the 1 through 10 preferences. Presumably the date to withdraw from the race would fall between February 24, 2017 – the day nominations closed and March 28th when membership sales ended. There might have been another week in there as the cut off, but without the party publishing the key milestone dates we’ll never know.

All we know is that 259,010 party members will receive a ballot with an O’Leary-less leadership ballot with O’Leary on the ballot.

RHBS 156

Why was O’Leary late is leaving the race? His name on the ballot leaves a lot of questions. These questions would have disappeared if Kevin O’Leary had left the race before the ballot sent to the printers. Kevin O’Leary is still going to be part of the leadership conversation, I am sure he would want it any other way.

Now that he is out, will his memberships move to Bernier? How many of O’Leary’s memberships will still mark Kevin as #1? How many ballots will never make it to a mailbox?

With an upper tier of the leadership that has been thinned out, what is there for the lower tiered candidates to gain from the ballot? Are there expectations of a victory or the opportunity to make a statement? In the final debate, candidates Trost and Obhrai both appealed to those watching by stating that they each had common ground with other candidates on the stage. Of the lower tier how does coming number two help? Who do they become number two to? Of Bernier, O’Toole, Scheer or maybe Raitt or Chong who do Leitch, Trost, Obhrai or Lemieux aim to be 2nd on the ballot to?

Will we see deals made between Bernier and Raitt? O’Toole and Scheer? Does Chong even rate a number based on his Carbon Tax stand? The only other candidate that has outlined an environmental plan is O’Toole, does Erin court Michael and visa versa?

Ballots came in the mail to our home today, while we might be 90-100% of who our #1 is, it’s the 2 through 10, or maybe only a 2, 3 and 4 that are the source of discussion. It is too early to tell which way our ballots will go. If you have a ballot, good luck and have fun figuring out how your ballot will look…I hope to see you in Toronto on May 27th.

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.

The first shot has been fired

Ottawa Votes

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. You can also see me on www.redheartbluelife.wordpress.com where I am celebrating #Canada150 with a daily post of an event celebrating our sesquicentennial in Canada.

127: Only Four Years, No More

trump-thumbs-up

The US election cycle lasts up to 18 months. For many it starts too soon lasts too long. Because of the election cycles and lengths of terms we will be back at the US election watch for the mid-term elections in just over one year. The midterm elections are a good barometer of the performance of a sitting President. In 2014, the mid-terms were not kind to Obama, the economic recovery was just beginning but had not yet reached the level where the American public would see the results of the actions that the President had ordered. The mid-terms in 2018 will tell how the the American voter feels about the Trump presidency.

The results of the mid-terms will set the tone for the 2020 election where Trump will be seeking a second term. It will be the election where the chants of “drain the swamp” and “lock her up” are replaced with “four more years”.

Here it is, there will be no more than four years of the Trump presidency.  There I said it.

The coalition of Americans that voted for Donald Trump included the anti-Clinton, anti-Obama and anti-establishment. The anti-votes Trump received put him over the top in key states that in a ‘normal’ election cycle would have voted Democrat and put Hillary Clinton in the White House. What happened instead was that Donald trump tapped into the base of the Republican Tea Party, more correctly the angry American voter.

  Voter Turnout    
2016 58.1%* Trump 60,911,924
Clinton 61,913,199
2012 54.9% Obama 65,455,010
Romney 60,771,703
2008 57.1% Obama 66,882,230
McCain 58,343,671
2004 55.7% Bush 62,040,606
Kerry 59,028,109

The use of the popular vote in the American elections is secondary to State results and Electoral College votes. One number that should be watched and will be key to who takes the White House in 2021 is voter turnout. I expect voter turnout for what will be a re-election year for Trump will drop. Without a significant world event voter turnout will drop in Trump’s re-election plans. In 2004, George W Bush saw his vote number increase by 12 Million votes and voter turnout increase from 50.4% in 2000 to 55.7% in his 2004 re-election. Without 9/11 happening it is possible that Bush would not have seen the inside of the White House for another 4 years and we may have seen John Kerry become President.

There are a lot things going against Trump in a bid for any possible re-election, I have not even started to consider who the Democrats will have on the ballot AND if the Republicans will put someone up to challenge Trump in the primaries.

Oh, have I even mentioned thet Trump may not want a second four year term?

*http://www.electproject.org/2016g

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 & @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.