Category Archives: Ontario Politics

Welcome Back to West Block: The Issues

img_20160902_09532983This is the wrap up post in a series setting up the 43rd session of Parliament. As mentioned in my previous post, the government has set up its cabinet to deal specifically with three issues, the West, the environment and the middle class with a multi-minister approach to each of those three issues.

Since the reveal of Trudeau’s cabinet, the media have been focusing on how Trudeau will manage the West and just how a Ministry for Middle-Class Prosperity will affect the prosperity of the middle class.  There will no doubt be plenty of analysis and political punditry.  Seeing how Minister Fortier will handle the questions during question period will hurt or hinder Liberal attempts at having success much in the same way Minister Monsef, in the last parliament, handled the now gone ministry of democratic reform.  The term “middle class lens” could be a day time drinking game.

But beyond the West, the Environment and the Middle-Class there are issues that were hung out at the end of the last parliament that the government will need to address.

The Health Minister will have two files to take up most of her time. New medically assisted dying legislation is due to be introduced.  This legislation follows a 4th interim report  https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/publications/health-system-services/medical-assistance-dying-interim-report-april-2019.html) that was released in April of 2019 and there are calls for relaxed rules for allowing medically induced deaths.  The second file is that of a national Pharmacare program.  The liberals don’t have the luxury of a majority government to wait until the 3rd year of a 4-year mandate to roll this out.  Working with the Finance Minister, Health Minister Patti Hajdu will probably be forced to deal with this in the first two years of this minority session.  The NDP promised to have a full plan in place by 2020, we’ll see how much the Liberals will be depending on support from Jagmeet Singh and his team to determine how fast or slow Trudeau rolls this out.

While not much was said about Veterans by the Liberals in the election, Minister MacAulay still needs to deal with gaps in funding of the Liberal Pension-for-life plan from a couple years ago.  Our current serving soldiers will rely on the Defence Minister to follow through on the National Defence Review and renewed calls from the US to pay its full share to NATO.

Even with 9 ministers that have a hand in the economy of Canada, the government will need to look ahead and avoid a recession that is expected to hit the United States (https://www.cnn.com/2019/08/21/economy/consumer-spending-recession/index.html ) and will have a spillover into Canada.  How will Finance Minister Bill Morneau handle his first “R word” budget?  Considering the amount of spending the Liberals have done in good years, is there anything left to hold off a downturn in the economy in bad years.

There is one final issue that Liberals will need to deal with – and it could be the hardest one they will have to get a grip on.  That is their ever-present need of virtual signaling.  Gone are the days of the liberalization of Canadian policy; think of the attestation Trudeau forced on non-profit and religious groups to qualify for Canada Summer Jobs funding, there is no majority to allow liberal left thinkers to have their way with policy and how we will qualify or not qualify for taxpayer funded programs.

Now it’s all in the hands of the 338 Members of the House of Commons, 157 in government and 181 in opposition.  It’s time to raise the curtain and see how this all plays out.

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 athttp://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

Welcome Back to West Block: The Government

20191125_115040.jpgA kinder and gentler Trudeau government?  Is this an expectation of Canadians? It certainly was something that Canada voted for on October 21st, no more of a government that had blinders on, plowed ahead with its values-based agenda all others be damned. The results of the election indicated that the government was expected to work with all parties and all provinces.

What could the government possibly do for an encore to 2015? Based on the new cabinet that was announced on November 20th Trudeau has decided that he has three themes in his new cabinet.  More importantly the government seems more focused on working with the provinces and municipalities, rather than the opposition parties in achieving success in the three themes

The first theme is national unity and ensuring that Alberta and Saskatchewan are heard.   Trudeau has tied several ministries together.  With Intergovernmental Affairs, Natural Resources, Agriculture, Infrastructure and Communities Trudeau has a group of Ministers that will be tasked with making sure each region of the country is heard and listened to.  In a second pool Trudeau has the Ministers of Environment and Climate Change, Oceans and Fisheries, Infrastructure & Communities has closely bound the economy and the environment.  In the third group of Ministries which include Finance, Diversity Inclusion and Youth, Economic Development, Rural Economic Development and a new ministry of Middle-Class Prosperity (seriously that is what is called) will all be forced to work together to “support the middle class and all those seeking to join it”.

For anything else, it will be just be a case of make sure nothing blows up, so we won’t have to divert from out three-pronged plan to govern for the next 3 to 4 years. In simple terms this government will be focused on the Middle-Class, Climate Change and National Unity.

How can we expect the government to stay in power working with the other parties?  I suspect that the Liberals will count on different parties keep them as the government.  On the environment the NDP and Bloc will play nice with the Liberals. Ccount on the Conservatives supporting actions to prop up the middle class as both the Liberals and Conservatives campaigned on massive tax cuts to middle-class for their votes. The tricky file will be national unity but expect the Bloc Quebecois (of all parties) to vote with the government to support efforts that bring the regions together.  I say this because if there is one region that is all about the “what’s in it for me” it is Quebec.  The Bloc will certainly be waving the Bleu et Blanc each day in the House of Commons.

The government has its work set out for themselves and they think they have a plan that will help them get back to a majority.  Will the opposition oblige?

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.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

My #elxn43 – Day 1

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Blink – Day One – here it is.  Tomorrow is election day. This is my last post before Canadians go and vote.  I started this mini arc of 8 posts back in August on day 53, and here 52 days  I can say we have done all we can do to ensure a win on Monday.

The days have been long and challenging but in the end everyday has been rewarding.  The team of volunteers have been outstanding, I have met and worked with an amazing group of people, most of whom I never knew before I started this back in August – now I call this team of volunteers, friends. As a Campaign Manager I will always want to have more volunteers, however today I am very happy with everyone that has stepped up and played a part in going from day 53 to day day one and to tomorrow, day zero – election day.

Going back on the previous 8 posts I realize that I haven’t mentioned where I have been, mainly because this was a series about the election experience.  Many of you know who I work for, therefore you will have this all figured out.

This past week, has seen long days as the push to be ready for election day for today has been intense.  Today will have our volunteers go out to our supporters with a reminder to vote tomorrow.  50 days of door knocking, phone calls, putting up signs are done.  One last push for tomorrow.

I guess the advantage of me being busy was that I practically ignored Facebook and was never on Twitter.  The most engaged I stayed on Social Media was Instagram, and somedays that for me it was a struggle to not make a comment on some stupid post that was ful of misinformation of the Conservative platform.  It has me even thinking that it’s time to cut ties with Social Media.  The thought of having to fend off silly attacks against my party tells me there are better ways to spend my time.

I have my thoughts on the candidates from the other parties, some were good and there were instances of attacks because my candidate was the “top dog” (as was stated by one of the other candidates) that were over the line and crossed into rude behaviour.  I was frustrated about this more than anything else, but it reminded me that the other candidates will be “how they will be” and that our campaign will be judged by how we reacted to the words and actions of the other candidates, which most times was not to react at all.

There has been much said that this campaign was about more about personalities, in our local campaign it has been about the issues.  The topic of deciding who gets to define the election, the media or the campaigns is for another day, days after this election is done.

That brings this all back to election day, everything that has been done snce day 50 leads to day zero, tomorrow, election day.

As for tomorrow, all I can ask is that you to get out and vote.

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.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

My #elxn43 – Day 41

Tom Petty said it best, ‘The waiting is the hardest part’

the waitingIn the days leading up to the Prime Minister walking from the Rideau Cottage to Rideau Hall and asking for disolution of Parliament, the wait seems like forever.  There will be many that will tell you that they’re happy to have the extra days. On the other side, there is nothing like the adreniline rush of 36 days of campaigning leading up to election day.

For me I appreciate both sentiments; but at some point its time for the rodeo to begin.  In Barrie we wait for the call because unlike other municipalities across Canada, election signs cannot go up until the Prime Minister visits the Govenor General (GG).   In the Ottawa area riding of  Orleans, by-laws have allowed signs to be put on private property for amost two weeks. In Barrie-Innisfil the sign crews are just waiting for the “go” text.  Trucks are loaded with signs, posts and zip ties.

The official election call is also a sign that everything else starts rolling, and gathers speed right up to October 21st.  As the days pass, they pass faster as the days are crossed off the election calender.

In an interesting twist, campaigns are not the only people waiting – Elections Canada staff also wait.  As I learned today, the ‘go’ day for Elections Canada is September 15th, that represents that last possible day as election can be called – but it’s also the day that EVERYTHING Elections Canada does starts and the first day for the Elections Canada calendar.

Unlike campaigns where the election call accelerates the campaign activities, nothing Elections Canada does starts until September 15ththis year – the 36 day campaign is the starting line that thousands of Election workers are hunched over like Andre de Grasse waiting for the starters pistol to go off. The spectulation of the election call changes everyday that the Prime Minister does not go to the see the GG, the anticipation for candidates and their teams is heightened as each day passes.

While Canada has fixed election dates, there should be consideration for a fixed election period, meaning a fixed election day that has a fixed day that campaigns begin.  A fixed election period eliminates the 78 day campaign of 2015 and denies the government of the day the power to play with dates and call the election when it suits their purposes – all political parties will have the same calendar to work with.  This though is for another government to grapple with after the election.

For now the wait continues…and the sign crew chomps at the bit one more 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.  I can be found on Twitter @robertdekker& @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

My #elxn43 – Day 47

Reading will be my salvation this campaign.

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The days will be long and by Election Day I may be arriving at the campaign office in the dark and leaving long after sunset.  I have an amibtious reading list for this campaign period and it which will require a great deal of dedictation to complete.  The readng list is part of my plan to decompress from the pressure, stress and activity of the campaign.

Here is what I will be reading:

Trudeau by John Ivison

The King’s War by Peter Conradi and Mark Logue

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

Right Here Right Now by Stephen Harper

The Making of the October Crisis by D’Arcy Jenish

I’ve started with Ivison’s take on Trudeau.  While this might not be a complementary account on JT it is scewed to my current opinion of him and how he has performed as a Prime Minister.   ‘The King’s War’ is a follow up to the Kings Speech, which won a few Oscar’s including Best Picture, Director and Actor in 2011. Mark Logue the co-author is the grandson of Lionle Logue, the therapist that work with King George to avoid stuttering as portrayed in the King’s Speech.

I picked up ‘A Gentleman in Moscow’ because of the premise of the story; a Russian Count is ordered to house arrest in an apartment in Moscow by the Bolshevic tribunal for wrtting a poem with revolustionary undertones.

I’ve had Stephen Harper’s book for a while, this just seemed like a good time to read it.  My Sister-in-law sent me ‘The Making of the October Crisis’ after she had read it.  I was aware of the October 1970 crisis as a 10 year, this book goes back to the beginnings and Montreal in the early 1960’s.  Like other books I’ve read I find its important to understand what fueled a crisis as a means to prevent a repeat.

I’m going to have to complete a book in just over a week to return to Ottawa with these five books completed. Clearly some days will have more reading time than others, I’ll have to grab whatever time comes my way to be successful and hope what I’ve brought to Barrie with me are real page turners.

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 athttp://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

My #elxn43 – Day 50

It’s the last long weekend I’ll get to enjoy for 2019.

img_20190831_16411934055614993906723429.jpgYes it really is, the election calendar for the federal election dictates that the Thanksgiving long weekend is when the four days of of Advanced Polls will happen.  Mark October 11thto 14thas your opportunity to vote before you sit down to have your Thanksgiving Turkey, Ham or Turducken (Turkey-Duck-Chicken) for dinner.

My Thanksgiving Long weekend will be anything but a weekend to eat and then collapse on the sofa, but I am all good with that.  So really this Labour Day Weekend is the last long weekend I can enjoy with a coffee and a newspaper, my book with my feet up and a chance to really sit back relax and breathe in the air of the last of the summer days as the autumn evenings start to creep in.  The next long weekend won’t happen until the Dalton McGuinty Long weekend, also known as the Family Day long weekend (which oddly enough not everone gets to have with their family) in February.

My Thanksgiving will be all about persuading you the voter to delay your Thanksgiving weekend by voting in advance and avoid the line ups on October 21st.  My line will be, ‘why not vote Thanksgiving weekend, then you won’t be hearing from me on election day’.  Leading up to Thanksgiving I’ll be working on the best way to convince you that voting on the long weekend is the best possible way to spend a bit of time between October 11thand October 14th.

I hope you’ll excuse me as I wrap this up now and think about how to spend my Family Day long weekend…oh wait…I won’t be able to because in Ontario Family Day isn’t given to ‘federally regulated’ employees.  At least I’ll still have Easter Weekend to dream about.

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.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

My #elxn43 – Day 52

There is nothing like a blank open space into which a campaign office can be designed.

img_20190829_10190627587164478351558283.jpgI have seen some spectactular campaign offices, in 2008 when Brian McGarry, the Conservative Candidate in Ottawa Centre the old School Board offices/school building on Gilmour street served as his HQ.  The whole building was not used, many offices were utilized, but the hidden gem was the auditorium.  The “Aud” could house a few hundred people and had a beautiful stage.  It was used for a local rallys in 2008 and a couple of larger campaign events.  I have never seen any office since have anything like that space.

The campaign office is defined by the space available.  In the Ontario election last year Colleen McCleery had a beautiful home for an office.  It was a 2 story structure with a big basement.  Most activities were restricted to three large rooms on the main floor for sign storage, greeting space and a room for a few people to make phone calls and prepare for election day.  It was as homey and friendly as the campaign atmosphere was.

Each space has it benefits and its challenges.

This year I’ve the oppportunity to open two campaign offices.  Both spaces were leased before I arrived, and a campaign office was created out of each space.  In Orleans, for David Bertschi the campaign took over an old paint store.  When we arrived we found a rainbow of biege, ‘blah’ blue and purple on the walls.  With some paint, blue and white of course, the office was transformed – the fresh colours added energy to the space!

Moving to the new space in Barrie-Innisfil, the office is a ‘shell’ of an office.  Drywall and cynberblock are the décor.  Being stripped of any décor means that there isn’t much that would be damaged. On the plus side though there is plenty of natural light!

Every Campaign Manager has their own touches that they like to see or not see. I don’t like clutter. A campaign office has a limited time of use, clutter derails any effectiveness in the office.  I am also a huge advocate of the campaign calendar on the wall, and I mean ON THE ENTIRE WALL.  It’s a countdown to election day and it is the campaign at a glance – canvass times, meetings, voting days, events, debates and media time are all documented.  The calendar is a sign of accountability for the campaign.    If it’s on the calendar it’s important!

Our campaign office will be as plastic and waste free as possible, we’ll use water jugs and ask everyone to use personal refillable water bottles.  The same will be in place for coffee and tea, we’ll ask everyone to bring a mug or cup.  Just because the office is operational for a short periodof time doesn’t mean we become lazy when it comes to the amount of waste in the office.

The Barrie-Innisfil campaign office is in transition –  a work in progress, with many pieces needed to make it functional for the many that have different tasks to perform.  While  a campaign office is really only a temporary home, it is still a home that needs to be welcoming, functional and efficient.

Sadly, on October 22nd, we just take it all apart and await the next election to do it all again.

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.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net