Category Archives: Elections

Back in Session, what to expect at Queen’s Park and on Parliament Hill this fall

As we wave bye-bye to the August long weekend, thoughts turn to cooler weather coming, back to school and for some the return of politics. In Toronto, the Ontario legislature, Queen’s Park returns on September 11th and federally Parliament Hill will be buzzing again on September 19th. This week I’ll look at what we might expect to see and hear in both Toronto and Ottawa. I’ll begin with Ontario politics and Queen’s Park, as MPP’s will be back in their chamber first.

Make no mistake about it; the 90th day of the 2nd session of the 41st Parliament in Toronto is important, very important. The June 2018 election will be front and centre in everything the will take place in Queen’s Park. All questions, every debate and each piece of legislation is all about the next election and who will be able to reach voters and journalists with their messages. What is at stake for each party and Leader?

ONDPThe Ontario New Democratic Party will be watching, possibly distracted by the Federal NDP Leadership. Ontario Deputy Leader Jagmeet Singh could be headed for Ottawa, if he wins the leadership. This will leave a hole for Andrea Horwath.  Singh was the future of the ONDP. If Horwath does not deliver at worst, Opposition status in Queen’s Park she will be out as leader. The NDP has been quiet this summer, maybe even on vacation. They have also lost the thunder of a $15 per hour minimum wage and calls for universal pharmacare to Kathleen Wynne and the Ontario Liberals. As the Liberals turn further left in their efforts to make Ontario more and more a social services driven province where do the NDP go? After an end of summer retreat, where will Leader Andrea Horvath take the NDP as she mines for greater support leading to June 2018?

PC logo 2This should have been a summer of love for Patrick Brown , in part it was. Instead, the Ontario PC Party is fighting off concerns about interference in nominations when he campaigned for leader on open nominations and no party meddling. Oddly enough though, while party members and the party executive are battling it, Brown has been on the road across and all over Ontario. I attended a rally in Thunder Bay in July, he filled the room with party supporters and those that didn’t belong to the party. One person, who is not a party member, told me after hearing Brown in Thunder Bay, ‘he has my vote.’ So while some in the party are not happy with Brown, more Ontarians are unhappy with Kathleen Wynne and are starting to listen to what Patrick Brown has to say.

Heading back to Queen’s Park, Brown and the Ontario PC Party will need to start from where they left off in June going after the Liberals jugular vein on hydro rates and selling Hydro off. The bribery scandal will be in the courts this fall and the government is pursuing economic policies that will kill small business in Ontario and drive others out of the province. The message from Brown and his caucus must be aimed at Wynne and how she is adding to the provincial debt, increasing the cost of business and costing Ontario jobs as businesses leave Ontario. Where his advisors send him will be the key to the lead up to Ontario’s 42nd General Election.

LiberalsNever ever ever count the Ontario Liberals ‘out’ in an election. Other political parties strive to be as polished and ahead of issues before anyone else, but the Liberals do it best. A key example of this goes to the 2014 election when then leader Tim Hudak announced a reduction in the Ontario public service of 100,000 civil servants. Before the press conference was over the Liberals had sent out a press release “Hudak to fire 100,000 government workers”. Whatever gains Hudak had, evaporated after that.

This does not mean it’s in the bank for the Liberals; they have a long road ahead to win back support. You can count on Wynne to fire at Brown everyday in Question Period. Her Ministers will aim at Brown in every press conference and Liberal MPPs at local events will hammer away at Brown. BUT, there is something else, there is Wynne, who is going to overhaul work places, put in place basic incomes and increase the minimum wage. The trouble that Wynne will have is that she cannot be trusted. Hydro rates were supposed to come down. While she reduced rates by 25% this summer, the government  not only going to pass on the cost to the reductions to consumers years down the road but hydro producers  have already  applied for increases when the period of reduced rates ends. While Wynne has the impression of making things better, in the background is the question, “who is going to pay for this?” The Wynne Liberals also will need to deal with an energized opposition as the Sudbury bribery court case will be heard this fall and it could affect Wynne in an election that way the Duffy Case did for Harper while he campaigned in 2015.

The Liberals could not escape Queen’s Park fast enough in June, they won’t be moving so quickly to go back.  There is a lot of promise for each party as MPP’s head back to work in 5 weeks. The three factors to watch are: Can Andrea Horwath blaze a trail for the NDP that the Liberals won’t take from them? Will Patrick Brown be able to stop in the infighting and keep the spotlight on Wynne and the Liberals bad decisions? Will Kathleen Wynne be able to avoid not only the opposition, but also the press, as the PCs and ONDP aim to take her out of the Premier’s office?

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

I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at I can be reached at


Canada, what is on your mind?


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

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

They want to speak out.

They want to be heard.

They want to be taken seriously.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So Canada, what is on your mind?

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. You can also see me on where I post about the little things in life I see and do.

Vacation State of Mind?

Vacation Alert

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

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

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

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

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

A 2014 study in the US; Project: Time Off found 4 in 10 Americans did not take their vacation. Are Canadians any different? If you believe a study from Expedia .ca, Canadians only did a little better. Just over one in four Canadians did not take the vacation OR had a year between vacations ( ).


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

I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at I can be reached at

Saving the House that Jack Built


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,

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 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 I can be reached at

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 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 I can be reached at

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 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 I can be reached at

O’Leary was Late

RHBS 156

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 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 I can be reached at