Category Archives: Ontario Politics

Patrick, Michael and Me

After a weekend at my first Manning Networking Conference I feel that I might be alone in the hundreds that attended the conference in believing that Ontario should have a Carbon Tax. Let’s just make this clear; I am not supportive of any plans by my local MP Catherine McKenna to implement a national carbon tax in lieu of any provinces NOT implementing some sort of carbon pricing.

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Former Leader of the PC Party of Ontario, Patrick Brown announced in Ottawa during the March 2016 convention that he would, if elected, move Ontario from the Liberal Cap and Trade carbon pricing to a price on carbon. His reasoning was that based on the BC carbon model he would be able to give back to Ontario residents. The current Cap and Trade plan does nothing to reward Ontarians. Cap and Trade benefits businesses and is merely a trading system of carbon credits between California, Ontario and Quebec. Businesses that have lowered emissions can sell credits to other businesses that need the credits to meet emission standards. The only thing seen by Ontarians is higher prices as the price of carbon is built into goods and services.

Many Conservatives will not agree with me, but there is no reason why a price on carbon cannot drive innovation in reducing emissions.  But as Ontarians and Canadians we also must recognize that what Canada, its provinces and territories do for reduce emissions WILL NOT solve the problem globally.  Unlike what Minister McKenna may feel, Canada cannot be responsible for what other countries can do.  To that end,   I feel a carbon price can be reduced as Canada meets emission goals.  Canada’s energy sector has a positive record of innovation that seems to be ignored by the federal government.  Success should be rewarded, not punished.

Thankfully I am not alone in the belief that a price on carbon can benefit Canada, Conservative Member of Parliament Michael Chong ran for the leadership of the party in 2017 with a Carbon Tax at the centre of his platform. He was dropped off the ballot in the 10th round. BUT, with a carbon price, he found support from enough Conservatives to finish fifth in a 13-person leadership race. Michael Chong made my top three on my ballot for the Conservative leadership.

Heading into the last week, Ontario PC Leadership Candidates Christine Elliott and Doug Ford had announced that they would scrap any plans for a price of carbon if elected Premier in the June election. By the time Manning started, the third candidate, Caroline Mulroney had also tossed a carbon tax to the side of the road.

I was trying figure out why all three potential leaders quickly dismissed the campaign promise to change the current Cap and Trade to a Carbon price. I know the reason they will give, “they only bad tax is a new tax”. However I wonder if any of the three have considered how a PC government could pay for the promises in the People’s Guarantee? Or as Steven Del Duca, Ontario’s Minister of Economic Development and Growth, put it, “without the carbon tax, there is a $16 Billion hole in the PC Platform”. At Manning both Elliott and Ford talked about finding money via a program by program and Ministry by Ministry through value for money audits.   Even Mulroney stated that she would find “billions” in savings from the waste of Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals.

Here is my dilemma, I loved the platform, I loved what it would do for Ontarians. Where does the party go now? It is too late develop a new platform. Is our only play now to say “we’ll be better than Kathleen Wynne and the Ontario Liberals?” Really, that’s it?

Unlike in 2015, I do not have a clear choice for leader of the Ontario PC Party. I have no one my gut tells me is the one. What can I do? Time is short as voting is in two and half weeks. I do not like having to choose a leader by a process of elimination, but that looks like what is going to have to happen.

The Manning Networking Conference brought each of the candidates in for a spotlight session, a little Q and A. I missed Caroline Mulroney but heard both Doug Ford (he impressed me) and Christine Elliott. I know she (Elliott) talks about all her experience and her supporter’s talk about her experience – but I would’ve rather heard her talk about her leadership.

For now, it seems like Patrick, Michael and me will have to search for someone who will see the value and the opportunity that a carbon price can bring to Ontario.

Thank you for reading #RedHeartBlueSign, to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

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31/365

metooI can say that I had visions of 2018 being a challenging year; 2017 dictated that the 12 months that would follow could be “mind blowing”. Consider my mind blown!

The world is only one month into 2018 and could have anyone predicted that all the events that have unfolded (so far) would take place in just under 31 days?

Hollywood united with “amazing women and phenomenal men” at the Golden Globe awards saying that it was #TimesUp. The #MeToo movement rallied against misconduct and treatment against women with marched around the world.   Political upheaval is being witnessed in all levels of government on both sides of the 49th parallel as (rightly or wrongly) we’re seeing leaders resign.

Pushback by, Canada’s Indigenous Peoples to the government’s reconciliation efforts because it is not indigenous enough.

The Olympics are uniting the Koreas. New trade deals are uniting many countries while isolating some others. There is a war of words between two larger than life leaders. The doomsday clock is pushed forward by 30 seconds to 11:58:00pm.

Rhetoric about trade with the US and Mexico continues to be ramped up by the Americans with NAFTA threatening to be torn up.

Algorithms are changing how we see news and what news we see; Social Media is making sure we only see what we will “like” and keeping what angers us further down on our timelines. All the new news is to be found in newspapers and on the radio. This is the freedom that Facebook once proposed?

The court of public opinion is having dramatic effects; the voices of the dismissed and forgotten are being heard. But at what cost? Are journalists taking risks with their stories, or is the media finding its voice against those that find it fake?

What grabbed my attention in everything above is that in my year of living politically I am surprised by all of it? Should I be? Should I expect the unexpected? Should I think about how the events of the first 31 of 365 days will shape what I can see?

So, what will the remaining 11 months be like? What shape will they take and can/should we expect more revelations that disappoint us? When will we see improvements? Will news see positive results and positive changes?

There will be some outcomes that are more immediate than others. Voters in Canada’s two most populous provinces will vote this year, Ontario in June and Quebec in October.

An earlier barometer will be the leadership contest for the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party following allegations that had the Party Leader, Party Executive Director and Party President all removed from their positions. The membership of the party will have the first say in the direction the party will flow. Will the events of the previous week have an effect on halting possible leadership bids from within the caucus? At the time of posting this, the Interim Leader, Vic Fedeli had decided not to seek the position permanently. Would that be an effect of a new political environment?

Following the selection of the new leader the party almost jumps into election mode, as of March 10th – the date the Leadership is decided there are only 89 days before Ontario votes. Will party choices speed up or kill momentum for the new leader?

As we also approached day 31 of 2018, Donald Trump will have given his “State of the Union” address to the nation. Will events of the previous month and events before that change Trump?   Can there be an expectation that hard lines will be drawn in cement by the President?

On Day 32, February 1st, what are your expectations? More of the same or do you see positive progress from the events that took place January? Let me know, please a comment.

Thank you for reading #RedHeartBlueSign, to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net

My Best of 2017: The Best of #RedHeartBlueSign

 

This year I have written over 60 posts, this is post number 199 on #RedHeartBlueSign since October 2010.

thank youOver the past 12 months I can say I am happy with each post, though some I have greater pride in writing. The five posts below represent what gave me the greatest pride. Each has its own beginning, that being, what was the motivation for me to write and post each of them.  Thank you for taking the time today and throughout 2017 to read #RedHeartBlueSign.

The Battle for Vanier (November 2017)

The city of Ottawa had two big battles with its residents this year. The first was the relocation of the downtown/main branch of the Ottawa Public Library; the second was a proposal from the Salvation Army to vacate its Byward Market building for brand new building on Montreal Road in Vanier that would house almost all it services under one roof, include approximately 350 beds (some long term and some emergency shelter beds. The response from the community was SOS Vanier, a well coordinated effort of raising the community’s opposition to a plan that goes opposite of the city plans. The big battle was strictly a fight between building use and land use – two very different concepts.

This was my most widely read post of the year, if you haven’t already you can click here to read it: https://redheartbluesign.wordpress.com/2017/11/26/the-battle-of-vanier-land-use-vs-building-use

Choose your healthcare cycle (September 2017)

The healthcare system in Ontario and across Canada is at a crossroads. Also at a critical point is the population of Canadians as the Baby Boomer Generation retires and the Boomers’ children and grandchildren are going to be relied upon to work and fund pension programs and healthcare needs for seniors. The point of the post was to emphasize the need for each generation to support the healthcare they need now, through fundraising, radio-thons and telethons and not necessarily the care that was used in the past. More and more provincial budgets will spend more on healthcare that all other departments combined. Hospitals and healthcare organizations count more on donations from the public to close the gaps left from reduced government funding.

My thoughts about this are here for you to read: https://redheartbluesign.wordpress.com/2017/09/20/choose-your-healthcare-life-cycle

When did it become legal to do illegal things (October 2017)

The line between helping others and protecting property is a thin one and easily causes words and sometimes actions that have a ripple effect. At the heart of this post was the opinion that the City of Ottawa was not acting fast enough to help stop the opioid crisis and prevent needless deaths. What been approved was a safe injection site in Sandy Hill, but was not ready yet, so Opioid Prevention Ottawa (OPO) set up a tent without approval and permits in a neighbourhood park where children and families played – they refused to close up and not many in City Hall would force the closure including the Police who said they were waiting for the city to tell them to shut it down. I wanted to include the a bit about the illegal Pot Shops that are opening up ahead of the legalization of marijuana but if I had I would have had to leave too much out of the OPO story.

To read all about OPO and the fight for safe neighbourhood and the fight to save lives from overdose clink on this link: https://redheartbluesign.wordpress.com/2017/10/09/when-did-it-become-legal-to-do-illegal-things

Confessions of a casual commuter cyclist (August 2017)

2017 was the summer that I became a cycling commuter, taking my bike to work almost everyday. I have to say I got my money’s worth in the spring tune-up. I wrote about my experiences on two wheels, observing not only other cyclists and pedestrians but also drivers of cars and trucks. I had one close call, but I transferred my defensive skills to my bike and stayed safe. I have to say though that cycling defensively is not as well received by other cyclists,

Read my Confessions of a casual commuter cyclist here: https://redheartbluesign.wordpress.com/2017/08/16/confessions-of-a-casual-commuter-cyclist

836,484 (December 2017)

This post came about from big news on two fronts. First was that the Toronto Star and the National Post were ‘flipping ownership on a large number of small local newspapers and few free daily papers (Metro and 24 hours). The other show dropped when 40+ of these papers were being told that they were closing, a few on the same day that the announcement was made. The largest of the local papers affected was the Barrie Examiner, which has been in operation longer than the British North America Act has been in force. All told I estimated that almost 840,000 Canadians lost a newspaper in one day. Since the day the presses stopped, many independent local papers have spoken loudly to reinforce the fact that local newspapers are still printing and distributing news.

Read 836,484 here: https://redheartbluesign.wordpress.com/2017/12/03/836484

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 Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net

King for a Day?

RHBS 182The Ontario government is conducting a Basic Income Pilot project in three locations; Thunder Bay, Lindsay and Hamilton. The pilot provides a basic income of $17,000 to approx. 34,000 people that currently receive money from the Ontario Works (OW) and Ontario Disability Support Programs (ODSP). The $17,000 is a huge increase to those now receiving $13,000 or less from the government, but it is a paltry amount for most Ontarians.  You have to consider for whom a basic income is directed at and you’ll understand the need for more for this segment of Ontario’s population.

Using the example of a single male on ODSP and it’s shocking what some people in Ontario are forced to live on. After rent is automatically deducted from the ODSP, it leaves less than $500 for hydro, phone/internet, food, transit fees and other items for the rest of the month. Could you pay hydro, and other bills with only $500 a month and eat well? It was not always like this, our social assistance system was friendlier and more generous. Multiple governments have reduced programs and allowances available and not increased payments to meet increased costs for expenses. At one point ODSP included a number of allowances including moving allowances but with those gone the cost of a move eats further into the leftovers and leaves no chance to for people to improve their living conditions.

There are approximately 900,000 Ontarians receiving assistance through ODSP and other Social Assistance Programs representing just 6.5% of Ontario’s population. In the recent Ontario budget the Wynne Government allocated money to allow increase limits for those on ODSP etc. to earn more with less being clawed back. The governments’ focus on support payments is on families and children that because of a job loss saw these families fall well below the poverty line and reliant on the government. For many this doesn’t provide any comfort, they don’t have the assets to claim against assistance and have little opportunity to make more money, so they fall further behind month by month. For many they will rely on food banks and the generosity of friends providing $20, $40 or more when needed. Many don’t ask because they don’t want to be a burden, so they suffer invisibly. It’s sad to see people we know go moneyless up to half way through a month, because what’s left after rent doesn’t see them through to the first week of the month.

What makes me angry is while the Ontario government seems to be focused on families/children on ODSP and OW their attention does not reach the singles who struggle just as much each month. Long-time progressives in the Wynne government like former Ottawa Vanier MPP Madeline Meillieur and current Ottawa Centre MPP Yasir Naqvi seem to have blinders when assisting those without dependents. Baby steps by the government may help families, the singles, as they get older, fall further and further behind and will become a larger burden on the government because they have no pension; savings support avenues available to them.

General consensus with budgeting states that 30% to 35% of a person’s annual income should go to housing costs, and that includes hydro. Even if we up the 35% to 50% a single person on ODSP with annual rent of $9000, the annual income that should be received is $18,000. In reality, rent accounts for 68% of ODSP for the single person and if you add average hydro of $70/month that increases to a whopping 75% of annual income going to housing and hydro. Someone please tell me how anyone lives on 25% of an annual income? At this point, I hope that the Ontario PC’s or Ontario NDP understand the plight of the few in Ontario (I’ve given up hope Wynne and Ontario Liberals will ever understand this).

A solution is to change how ODSP is fixed to recipients. Rather than have a fixed amount of money received each month, the amount paid should be a fixed percentage of how much housing costs should be. If the government were to fix housing costs to 40% of the annual income,  the ODSP recipient would see an increase of their payments to $17,100. The result? While rent increases happen annually, so too will ODSP to meet the most important monthly cost that is taken out of the month government cheque. Without this, the motivation to move to a better location is destroyed as increased rent results in decreased spending for all other living expenses.

I realize that this gets very close to the government sponsored basic monthly income pilot – what separates it from that program though is the ability to change housing due to any number of reasons; accessibility, declining living conditions, and safety. Rent increases will not affect what might be left after rent is paid. The basic income does not do this. I propose to look after the number one need of those of assistance, housing, and the remainder will be less stressful on the first of each month, or as a friend calls it “King for a 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 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

 

Ontario Greens: Out looking for number 1

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I recently wrote about the return of MPPs to Ontario’s Queen’s Park. In that post, left out were Ontario Greens. They don’t have an elected MPP, and have fielded a full slate of candidates since 2007. In the 2007 election, the Greens had good success attracting 8% of the total vote. They have not seen that support since with the party falling to 2.9% in 2011 and 4.8% of the total vote in the last Ontario election.

On the heels of the success of the BC Greens holding the balance of power and working with the BC NDP Party to take Christy Clark out of the Premiers’ office, Ontario Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner is talking about looking for their number 1, their first elected MPP.   Schreiner was selected as the Green Party of Ontario (GPO) leader in 2009, 2018 will be his 3rd election as a leader and he is firmly behind the idea of “third time lucky” in considering the possibility of having a Green MPP in the Ontario Legislature.

In an interview with CBC Kitchener-Waterloo earlier this August, Schreiner said that in order for the Greens to ask questions and hold the government to account, it only needs one MPP. Schreiner’s correct it is difficult to ask the Premier a question from the lobby out side the legislative chambers in Toronto. The Premier has no obligation to answer.

I sat down with Ontario Green candidate James O’Grady, he’s running in the riding of Nepean and asked him about the party and what it means to be an Ontario Green. To know this James went back in time to understand the Green Movement. The worldwide green movement includes nearly 100 parties and associate member parties. The Green Party of Canada is one of the member parties and while the GPO is not listed as a member party of the worldwide green movement, Article 3 of its Constitution states The Green Party of Ontario affiliates with and supports the core values of the worldwide Green Movement…

Back to who is the GPO and what is the worldwide Green movement. As explained to me, it is a values based movement, policies that come from the Green Party respect its guiding values, if you want to put it that way. The GPO shares the values of the Green worldwide movement of: Ecological Wisdom; Social Justice; Participatory Democracy; Non-Violence; Sustainability and Respect for Diversity. With these values in mind, people ask, are Greens, Conservative or Liberal? Greens are both, progressive in social justice, and diversity while they also believe in balanced budgets and allowing communities to have greater control.

Can there be a breakthrough for the Greens in Ontario? O’Grady discusses the breakthrough of the Ontario Greens in the same manner of the Farmers Party from last century which led to progressive reforms, the CCF and the New Democratic Party. For Schreiner and other Ontario Greens they point to Guelph as the riding where they will elect their first MPP. The riding is held by Liberal Minister Liz Sandals, she won with 41% of the vote in 2014. But look at 2nd, 3rd and 4th in the riding, it was almost an equal spilt of the other 59% of the vote. The hope of winning in Guelph lies in the sub results of that election. The Greens trailed the runner up PCPO candidate by only 818 votes. Of the four main parties, the Greens were the only party to increase voter support from 2011 results. Schreiner increased the Green vote by more than 12%, that gain came exclusively from the Liberal, PC and NDP candidate loses of -1%, -5% and -6%.

With support for the Ontario Liberal government at an all time low, Schreiner sees votes coming his way from all the other parties including from Liberal supporters. Sandals, who has not said whether she is going to run in 2018,has been the MPP since 2003, she earns support more for being a ‘legacy’ candidate rather being Liberal. What happens to liberal vote with a new candidate? Will the Liberals lose the environmental vote because of failed policies like Cap and Trade and the disastrous Green Energy Program?

O’Grady calls the difference between the themes of the 2014 vs the upcoming 2018 election as being “business vs people”. He compares the Green party politically as being the 21st century ‘flat approach’ which is collaborartive and empowering and the others as taking a 20th century ‘hierarchal approach’. The GPO have not announced when their policy convention will be held. But it is easy to see where the Greens will go. Carbon pricing is on the table, but maybe temporary until 50% +1 of Ontarians are net positive with their carbon footprint? The Liberal Cap and Trade is not the way you’ll see Schreiner head on carbon pricing. The Greens have indicated their preference is a price on carbon with dividends going to Ontarians, and not businesses (as Cap and Trade does). They also have other economic policies almost make the greens look blue.

The difference that Schreiner hopes will sway votes his way and to O’Grady in Nepean; along with the other 123 Green candidates in Ontario are the values of the party. The six values are clear, understandable and are progressive and conservative enough at the same time to attract votes from all sides, as results in Guelph in the last election indicate. It will all be dependant on how the party communicates their values.

For the Schreiner and the Green Party of Ontario, its value system and words like “local”, “Sustainability = happiness” and getting people thinking about “doing good” are going to have to be its selling points.

Do these reflect something different for Guelph and Ontario voters to consider? We’ll have to wait less than 300 days to find 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. 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.

 

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 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.