Category Archives: Ottawa Politics

A 3rd Rate Speech from the Throne

How many of you listened to Governor General Payette read the speech from the throne?  Could you hear the cash register go ching, ching and ching?  While no dollar amounts were mentioned you just must know that at least another $250 billion is going to be spent.  

How many of you watched the Prime Minister and the other Party Leaders later the same day?  I imagine many of you watched, it was a condensed and straight to the point of the hour-long throne speech a few hours earlier.  

Parliament was prorogued in August to prepare for a new session and a reset from the last throne speech delivered less that 10 months earlier.  We all know what the government and parliament has had to do since March 13th, the economic impacts of COVID-19 have been intense and immense..

In the five weeks from proroguing to the throne speech Canada was turned upside down.  The biggest concern we faced was the return of our children to the classroom.  There was a shaky optimism, but families were moving forward (with fingers crossed). Without warning COVID case numbers started rising in BC, then Ontario and then Quebec; the roof was caving in on Trudeau government’s plan to announce a recovery plan and its intentions to take a hard left to a green economy and an election. 

The government’s messaging slowly changed over the course of a couple of days from a new economy to a cautious approach to recovery to a full defense against COVID-19.  What the GG delivered was a rushed third or fourth version of the speech.  It could have been written by any parliamentary staff who is given the instructions to’ mention this, that, more of this and more of that and don’t forget to state the how bad a second wave of COVID is going to be’.

In 2014 I was campaigning in Ottawa Centre as the Ontario PC Candidate and we were out the day after it was announced one million jobs would be created by a new PC government.  We were mocked at the doors and in the media for promising such a huge number of jobs (along with reducing the government workforce by 100,000 positions).  Ontario Liberals said that was a number that could never be proven as being achieved.

From 2014 jump to last year when Trudeau announced 1 billion trees would be planted to fight climate change, 100 million tress a year for 10 years.  Now jump to this week’s throne speech, Trudeau promised 1 million jobs.  There was no indication they would be new jobs or recovered jobs.  The problem with these promises is that the numbers are unrealistic for us to understand.    Could Hudak have created those jobs?  How many of the 1 billion trees have been planted?  Will Trudeau deliver 1 million jobs?  Anything less will be a broken promise.  These are big numbers and most Canadians don’t think in terms of numbers that big; this will be lost.  Most Canadians that are out of work only know of a single number, one, the job they need.

Listening to the throne speech and watching the Prime Minister the thought going through my head must have been ‘he’s thinking about what this speech should or could have been about’.  Rather, the Governor General outlined the four pillars for the governments next moves; Fighting the Pandemic, Supporting Canadians and Canadian Businesses; A stronger and more resilient Canada and Standing Up for who Canada is.  All these pillars made perfect sense.

Money and more money was announced for current programs, new programs. Missing was the idea that there will be a recovery plan and there can’t be a recovery until we beat this second wave.  What did happen though was the threat of an election was pulled off the table, for now.  Elections are fought on what should take place in the future, people want a vision.  Trying to protect the “now” is not an election campaign theme.  

With the Prime Minister telling Canadians the second wave is here now, he’s telling us he’s prepared to stand put until next summer and then he’ll hope that the opposition will have had enough of him.  His expectations of a bad fall and winter is not prime election time and Trudeau is lamenting his lost opportunity, for now.

Five weeks of committee work, five weeks of asking the hard questions to the government and their accountability have been lost and all we got out of was a third rate speech.

Thank you for spending a few minutes of your day reading this, please leave a comment and if you like what you’ve read please click the follow button.  Let me know what you’re watching and hearing, what is making you excited or anxious.

Cheers,

Rob

—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 & @RedHrtBlueSign and on Facebook athttps://www.facebook.com/rob.dekker.54.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

Profiles of a possible (Conservative) Leader: Derek Sloan

This is the last of four posts looking at the candidates running to replace Andrew Scheer as the Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada.  The previous post was a glance at the campaign of Erin O’Toole.  In the last of our candidates I focus on Derek Sloan.  

Derek Sloan

I had no idea who Derek Sloan was when the announcement was made that he was going to run for the leadership of the party, I knew he had won back the riding of Hastings-Lennox and Addington for the Conservatives from the Liberals.  Here is what I knew about Sloan, he is a lawyer and has run several small businesses – all this from his website.  He won the Conservative nomination over three others.  His riding association has asked the Conservative Party to strip Sloan from the party because of statements he has made about gender identity.  He had only sat in the House of Commons seven days before he became a candidate for the leadership of the party.

In an interview with Tony Clement on the podcast “And another thing”, Sloan told Clement his reason for running was all about not apologizing for being a conservative.  He has stuck to that mantra; his campaign slogan is ‘Conservative. Without apology.” According Sloan, party members want a conservative, not a ‘liberal lite’, as their next leader.

Now, he has not had the smoothest sailing through the campaign.  He’s hit a few rough spots and hit some controversy.  Issues of conversion therapy, family values, marijuana and his criticism of Dr. Theresa Tam make him different from the other three candidates – from what I can see, he welcomes the stage to stand apart from Leslyn Lewis, Peter Mackay and Erin O’Toole.  It was that criticism of Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer that gave him headlines; it was the call from some members of the Conservative Caucus to have him removed as a member of the caucus and a leadership candidate that gave his campaign life from the section of the party that supported him with emails of support to the Conservative MPs and donations to his campaign. But for all the controversy Sloan may generate, he stands behind every word and policy his is presenting in his campaign, without apology.

Each of the candidates know their target audience, what I found interesting in the Sloan campaign is that it is the only campaign that is working hard to attract the Chinese vote with a translation of his website in Chinese.  

Sloan’s campaign touches on similar themes as the others; Carbon Tax, Freedom of Speech and Canada’s international duties.  It is on this last theme he veers away from the other three with a ‘Canada’ theme of pulling out support for the WHO, withdrawing our signature from the Paris Agreement and slashing Canada’s immigration by 200,000 people/year. There are Canadians on the (extreme) right and left who will agree with Sloan’s sovereigntist approach.

Does Derek Sloan have a chance to win the leadership?  Of, course there is always a path to victory; but will a path to the leadership of the Conservative also take Derek Sloan to the Prime Minister’s Office?  Derek Sloan is not who I think should be leading the party, the divisions in the party would be too great and the swing voter would swing away from a Derek Sloan led Conservative Party. 

To learn more about Derek and his platform visit www.dereksloan.ca.

Thank you for taking to time to read this post and the entire series of posts with the candidates for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada. 

Stay safe, wash your hands and if you have a ballot for the CPC Leadership make sure you get it to the party before August 21st.

Rob

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 & @RedHrtBlueSign and on Facebook athttps://www.facebook.com/rob.dekker.54.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

Profiles of a possible (Conservative) Leader: Erin O’Toole

This is the third of four posts looking into the candidates running to replace Andrew Scheer as the Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada.  Last post I looked at Peter Mackay and in today’s post I’ll take a peak at former Veterans Affairs Minister Erin O’Toole.

Erin O’Toole

Three years ago, Erin O’Toole finished third to Andrew Scheer and Maxime Bernier for the party leadership.  Three years ago, was also a completely different campaign. Thirteen candidates were on the ballot.  Erin O’Toole was also my #1 choice on the ballot and like so many more my decision to place Andrew Scheer above Maxime Bernier on my ballot helped elect Scheer as the leader of the party.

What a different three years, one election and a pandemic make.  Erin O’Toole is back in the race to win the leadership.  This campaign seems so much different than in 2017.  In 2017 candidates were fighting a campaign on multiple – twelve – fronts, and the Conservative right was aligned with three solid candidates. You didn’t know where the next attack was coming from.  In 2020 the field is much smaller, and campaigns can focus on fewer fronts and target messages with greater accuracy.  

Because of these changes, the Erin O’Toole running in 2020 is different from the 2017 candidate.  The 2017 O’Toole campaign was a kinder and gentler candidate that candidate in 2020, but It makes sense.  O’Toole knows where he needs to focus his campaign, and it is focused right on Peter Mackay.

On the issues, O’Toole has been aggressive on China, Huawei and recently has taken on the United Nations wanting to reform the world institution. O’Toole says he will make sure Canada is a leader in global affairs, again not a country that comes third in a three-country race for two seats on the UN Security Council.  He’ll begin with the creation of CANZUK, an economic alliance with the UK, New Zealand and Australia.  O’Toole has also laid out an economic plan for Canada he’ll implement if elected as PM in the next election.

In 2020 it’s not a given that a right leading candidate will lead the party again.  Where does the values base of the party go?  O’Toole has been courting the supporters of Leslyn Lewis and Derek Sloan asking them to make him their number two selection on the ranked ballot.  He’s been talking about protecting rights and values that the Liberals want to have removed.  Being loyal to Andrew Scheer as a valued member of the Scheer Shadow Cabinet certainly will score points for Scheer supporters.

One requirement that could make him the winner is if party members want a sitting MP to become the next leader and to be able to join the Opposition as Leader in the House of Commons from day one of their leadership.  In this area the choices are O’Toole or rookie MP Derek Sloan – most party members would choose O’Toole if that were the number one criterion, however there is much more to consider. 

O’Toole has the knowledge, experience and the leadership for the party, he also has the support of 37 caucus members, but is that enough to make him look like the leader that party members want that will upend Trudeau in the next election?

To learn more about Erin and his plans for Canada and the Party if elected Leader visit www.erinotoole.ca.

Thank you for taking to time to read this post, next and last in the series of four on the Party Leadership Candidates is Derek Sloan.

Stay safe, wash your hands and if you have a ballot for the CPC Leadership make sure you get it to the party before August 21st.

Rob

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 & @RedHrtBlueSign and on Facebook athttps://www.facebook.com/rob.dekker.54.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

Profiles of a possible (Conservative) Leader: Dr. Leslyn Lewis

I have been pondering these posts for a long time before putting fingers to the keyboard.  Now that ballots have been mailed, this seems like the appropriate time to talk about the campaign to replace Andrew Scheer as the Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada.

This race has been on since October 2019 and the Leadership race was launched early 2020 with the original date to have a new leader selected was last weekend.  COVID-19 came and took two candidates, Marilyn Gladu and Rudy Husny, out of the race.  One candidate was booted out, reinstated by the courts and then booted out of the race again.  After all the dust settled there are four candidates vying to be the next Leader of the Opposition, and hopefully the next Prime Minister of Canada.  

The final four to appear on the ranked ballot are (alphabetically): Leslyn Lewis, Peter MacKay, Erin O’Toole and Derek Sloan.  I Have voted for Peter for Leader in 2003, for the Progressive Party of Canada and Erin for CPC leader in 2017.  Both have qualities I need to see in a leader, but only one name will be in my number one spot.  

For the this and the three next posts I’ll take a dive into the candidates for the party leadership, alphabetically.  Today I’ll look at Dr. Leslyn Lewis, followed by the Hon. Peter Mackay, the Hon. Erin O’Toole and rookie MP Derek Sloan

I find Leslyn Lewis to be the most interesting of all the leadership contestants. I also have respect for her campaign; of the four campaigns, she is the least mistake prone and appears true to the message she is communicating.  

I liked how Lewis performed in the English debate. I liked her responses to the post-debate scrum on Canada’s systemic racism.  If I was prepared to wait a two-term election cycle before seeing a Conservative Prime Minister I might be willing to put Lewis number on my ballot.  Serving as a Minister in a Conservative government will prepare Lewis to be a successful Prime Minister in her own right.  We’ll have to see if either MacKay or Lewis will be brave enough give Lewis in a role that allows her to shine.  

I listened to former MP and a previous leadership contestant Tony Clement interview Dr. Lewis on his podcast; And Another Thing Podcast, I was duly impressed with the clarity of her answers and honestly the last spin she gave – it was very refreshing.  In the interview she noted that she does a lot of the policy, speech and video writing herself, she does know that will change to a degree if she becomes leader, but I doubt she’ll be completely hands off – making sure her message is HER message will be a constant focus, and possible challenge for the staff in the Office of  the Leader of the Opposition.  Lewis’ background and education are interesting.  What was most interesting is how she and her team have been able level the playing field, meet and exceed the criteria of the Conservative Party leadership organizing committee.

I am intrigued by her Masters in Environmental Studies from York University; has the Conservative Party ever had someone that might be as qualified as Dr. Lewis to talk about the environment?  Though her platform on the environment mirrors most of what was talked about in the 2019 election and what other leadership candidates have been saying in this leadership contest.

Unlike one other candidate, Dr. Lewis’s personal values, the ones she was brought up on, these values about family values and qualities of generosity, hard work and equal opportunity may those that Canadians, of every political stripe.   It’s not beyond belief that Lewis’ values would challenge those of Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party that a Conservative Leader could stir a self-confidence in voters that recently may have belonged to Liberal voters. 

To learn more about Dr. Lewis, her policies and background please visit her website www.leslynlewis.ca.  

Thank you for taking a few minutes of your day for reading RHBS Post #292. Stay safe (and healthy)

Rob

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 & @RedHrtBlueSign and on Facebook athttps://www.facebook.com/rob.dekker.54.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

I stopped shaving – a COVID update

Like so many people, staying at home has The allowed many of us the opportunity to start projects, explore new ideas and go back rediscover old joys.

The sun during the “Golden Hour” hitting the tree tops along the Rideau Canal

Last week I stopped shaving, I’ll let you decide I this was a project, new idea or a rediscovery of an old joy.  However, that’s not the only thing that COVID has allowed me.

COVID has opened the door to a new opportunity.  On Friday May 22nd the book, “Not Cancelled, Canadian care mongering in the face of COVID-19” was released.  I was asked to be a part of this collection of stories that showed the care, love and nurturing of Canadians after COVID-19 caused most of our lives to come to a screaming halt.  Published by Wintertickle Press, stories from across Canada demonstrating the Canadian spirit.  Visit your local book shop in person or order the book online at www.winterticklepress.com and purchase a copy.  There is so much more, likely better, in the book than my 2000 words. 

If you read last week’s post, you’ll know I gave a list of podcasts that I have started listening to.  You haven’t read that post?  No worries, here is the link for you, https://redheartbluesign.wordpress.com/2020/05/18/whatcha-listening-to/.  Out of our discovery of enjoyable podcasts, Liz and I discussed starting a podcast.  To want to do this is the easy part, “what” the podcast should be about is the real challenge.  It can be about so many things, but what is it I can talk about knowledgably that would make a credible podcast?    Recently I thought of turning the blog into a podcast, it has a broad spectrum of topics; books to music and politics.  Is that something we can pull off?  It certainly allows Liz the chance to contribute regularly, she is very smart, speaks well and has strong opinions – leaving her off the podcasts doesn’t serve the podcast well.  Stay tuned…more to come on this.

It’s taken a while, but I have started to pay attention to the Conservative Party Leadership contest.  My opinions on the race are mixed; I’m glad the party paused it but in the same breath I am frustrated that the party Leadership Committee didn’t give the candidates that preceded the party’s decision to suspend their campaigns because of COVID an extension to raise the money and memberships to make it onto the ballot.  I supported Rudy Husny, while I had a realistic view of his winning, he was a candidate that reflected my ideas of being a conservative and he would have been marked on my ballot. I also believe that MP Marilyn Gladu should have been given the same opportunity to reach the benchmarks after suspending her campaign because of the coronavirus.

There are four candidates that will be on the ballot.  As I write this, I do not have a candidate to fill that number one slot.  This contest has had errors and missteps from the frontrunners.  Of the perceived leading candidates, I have voted for both of them at one time for leader; Peter MacKay to lead the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada in 2003 and Erin O’Toole in the 2017 Conservative Party leadership. 

I am now engaging in what the candidates are saying about leading the party.  I will not permit the negative campaigning be a part of my engagement.  The next few weeks as I wait for my ballot in the mail will be my time to hear from all four candidates (some more than others).  I have made one decision about my ballot; I will only be marking one name.  Realistically, with apologies for the 3rd and 4th persons on the ballot, my number two would become the next leader if my number one doesn’t get 50% +1.   I just have to confirm my #1.

One final thing…

Today I shaved, the facial growth provided some balance to the growing hair on top.  Now that balance is gone.

What are your new projects that COVID has opened the door to?  

One more final thing, this is post #301 of Red Heart Blue Sign. Thank you for giving me a few minutes of your day and supporting this blog since October 2011.

Rob

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

A possible post-COVID Canada, Part 1

By now I hope that many people have figured this out, when restrictions are lifted, when we’re not physically distancing on purpose and when we are no longer making our kitchen tables do double duty as a workspace life will be different; way more different than we expect. Here are two aspects of our lives that could be part of major shifts after COVID-19. The next #redheartbluesign will tackle the care of our seniors,

Just like the renovations on Centre Block on Parliament Hill, there will be change coming to Canada post-COVID-19

The Economy

The phrase “it’s the economy stupid” comes to mind when I consider the actions take to date. For Justin Trudeau, it will be “it’s the green economy stupid”.  An economic shift will take place as we move out of the isolation and restrictive guidelines. The federal government has signalled that they will use this economic recovery to shift to a green economy. The Liberal government has indicated in the past its desire to do this. They introduced the Pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change in 2016. Provincial Environment Ministers met in October of that year, it was at that meeting Minister Catherine McKenna told her provincial counterparts that there were only two options to meet federal regulations in the framework; a carbon tax or cap and trade policy.

As we look to the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions, this would be the perfect time to restructure our economy in a green direction. The budget Bill Morneau must have been ready to deliver months ago surely has been fed to shredder by now. The economic needs of the country are completely out of whack from they were at the start of March. It is not going to be just about minor adjustments, it will be about shocking the economy to a full restart. The federal government recently announced 1$1.7 billion to clean up orphan oil wells. While the focus of this is might be to get energy workers back to work, it’s a green clean up that has been demanded by environmentalists for years. It is one step that Ottawa has taken to their green economic shift.

There is no doubt that Trudeau will take this road, but how he’ll do it is still the big question. He has the chance to merge from fossil fuels to green energy but don’t discount that he’ll use the end of the COVID lock-up to make a drastic left turn and leave the oil industry scrambling to catch up.

Parliament

Parliament has met thrice since it adjourned on March 13th because of COVID-19. Two sittings were emergency sitting to pass COVID aid packages and Parliament met again as scheduled on Monday April 20th. On each of these occasions’ Parliament met with 32 Members, a proportional representation of the minority parliament. Before sitting on April 20th, the debate leading up to the return was how many times MPs would meet in the House of Commons. Reading the news, or if you believe the Prime Minister, the question was about every 338 MPs return. Negotiations did not go well; the left (The Government + Bloc Quebecois, NDP and Green Party) was facing off against the Conservatives on this. One side wanted fewer live sittings, the other more. The heart of this matter is, does a virtual sitting benefit Canadians and ensure effective governing is on place. The Conservatives final offer was on three in person sessions. The left won out and now Parliament has to figure out how to do it.

There is more to Parliament than sitting in the House; Members of Parliament come to Ottawa for a number of purposes, yes MPs are required to sit in the House for Questions Periods everyday then one full day a week as ‘house duty’. Much of an MP’s time is spent in committee, at stakeholder meetings, meeting with other MPs, meetings with constituents and meeting up with groups that come to Ottawa for a tour of the parliamentary buildings. Informal gatherings are a huge part of life on the Hill, cultural and political worlds collide for informal discussions and introductions on many topics of interest. Does moving to a virtual parliament benefit how parliamentarians meet and listen to Canadians? What is the balance and how does Parliament come up with it?

When COVID restrictions are lifted, what becomes of the work taken to establish virtual House sittings? Will virtual be the way of the future, will Parliament make having 338 MP’s in the House the exception rather than the rule? As has happened recently, the government may make votes on economic measures as the only reason for bringing MPs to Ottawa. All other votes, debates and motions could be done remotely. The question is, does this benefit Canadians? Is there a will to have government become less or more accountable? Would a virtual parliament ‘close’ the brick and mortar of our government to Canadians?

Thanks for reading. Stay safe and wash your hands. Part 2 will be posted Wednesday.

Rob

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

Social Media is back and its kinder

kindA social crisis helped bring social media back to its origins.  I hope you have noticed that social media is much more social than it has been in months.  Have you seen the requests for book, movie and TV series recommendations?  I bet some of the replies to these requests went onto your watch and read list. Have you replied to the requests to share games for a family game night and how about those free online concerts- have you been watching?  It is the way social media was meant to be, we are kind, helpful and compassionate.

Social media has become great again, so great that we have started drinking online with friends. This is huge because if you fall down drunk you won’t have far to travel to you bed.  The downside of this is that the online wingman doesn’t have the same impact as they do in person.  I also haven’t minded the online shaming directed at TP and hand sanitizer hoarders, that’s well deserved.

We’ve been asked, actually we’re being instructed to stay indoors avoid other people (or least give them space of 2 metres), but at the same time we’re told that being outside is good, so that’s what we’ve been doing.  I am in Vancouver writing this and have been here for the last week for a family event.  We’ve logged 10’s of kms in downtown Vancouver and never ‘bumped’ into anyone, walked in parks, we’ve been a solitary twosome on an Aquabus going from the old Olympic Village to Granville Island (which was even emptier than downtown Vancouver) and back.

sharingSocial media has also been kind, for the most part for the last two weeks.  We’ve helped friends celebrate birthdays in self isolation.  Parents have traded tips on becoming home teachers and cooking, my goodness, the sharing of quarantine mealtime dinners has been mouth-watering.  Kids of all ages were getting crafty with scissors, papier Mache, glue and paint.  It has all been so good to see.

With the CBC shutting down local newscasts, Twitter and Facebook keep us up to date with the coronavirus in our own cities, towns, neighbourhoods and streets.  Streaming services rushed movies to their live stream; Frozen II and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker hit the small screen well before they were originally scheduled.

TV even started airing good stuff; I saw that TSN the other day re-played the epic collapse of the Maple Leafs against the Boston Bruins in game 7 of their 2013 NHL series.  The historic playoff run of the Toronto Raptors to the 2019 NBA Championship is being rebroadcast at a time when NBA and NHL playoffs would be starting soon.  CBC is airing the best of Canada at the Olympics. Today I watched this amazing race, down a 500-foot racecourse carved in the sand that saw the lead change several times as dozens of marbles raced to the finish line.  I was hypnotized!

This truly is a better social media than we have had in a long time; we’re helping people, thanking frontline workers, we’re SHARING.  Of course, we have opinions and should hold our leaders to account, but we’re not so “in your face” about it, we are just happy to see politicians from all parties and all levels of government working together as they try to guide us through the next few weeks and months of the coronavirus.

Enjoy this incarnation of the new kinder and gentler social media, it won’t be long before the US Presidential election is front and center again the mudslinging starts up right where it left off.  So I ask you to consider this before you might go back to your old social media habits (we all have them); we felt good about what we were posting and sharing during the isolation of Covid-19 – it was a good feeling, remember that feeling and think twice before you hit enter and sling that mud once 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 athttp://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

“Don’t touch that dial, I’ll be right back!”

radio 1I am a radio man through and through.  When I was young my brother and I had a small transistor radio and we would have “weeks” for listening to our radio station in our bedroom.  On my weeks the dial was set to 680 CFTR to listen to Tom Rivers in the morning and the Spaceman at night, my brother had his pre-set at 1010 CFRB – this was during the Wally Crouter years.

Later in high school it was Raider Radio at Erindale Secondary School broadcasting out of a closet by the cafeteria, to CHBR at Humber College, radio has been my life.  For about 10 years of my life I have the best job EVER; from being and intern and the overnight operator at CHFI 98.1 to spending 5 years in Stratford at CJCS as an on-air announcer.  I even made a short ‘comeback’ working at 1310 News in Ottawa as a writer/producer/editor on weekends in 2014, I could be heard occasionally giving the weather forecast.  And then there were the charts, every week cutting out the CHUM chart every Friday. The year-end charts, oh how I miss those year-end charts published in the papers on either December 31st or January 2nd.

So, it is with sadness that I consider that the radio age Is nowhere where it was as little as 10 years ago. But what hasn’t diminished the passion listeners have for their radio station.  Here is the perception many listeners have; owners are the enemy and are blamed for radio hosts being replaced and a perceived editorial change take place.  Let’s consider the story of CFRA in Ottawa.radio 3

CFRA was a family owned radio station from 1947 until 1968 when it was sold to CHUM radio.  It was a music station until a switch to an all talk format in 2002, at the time it was known as “left on the dial and right on the issues”.  Conservative radio CFRA was an ‘island of sanity’ for its listeners, today it is still the #1 AM radio station in Ottawa.  CFRA became the station with legends like Lowell Green and Steve Madely hosting the morning show.  In 2007 ownership of the station changed hands from CHUM to Bell GlobeMedia. There will be those that see that sale as the beginning of the end.

Over the past 10+ years there has been a succession of announcers leaving or being released.  This coincided with similar cuts to the news operations with reporters and news announcers being cut.

I’ll add this about CFRA listeners and CJOH-TV news, they are passionate about who they listen to and watch.  Changes like Carol-Anne Meehan being let go from the high rated 6pm Newscast, Steve Madely retiring from CFRA, Lowell Green being moved from the morning to the mid-morning slot to a 15 minute segment with Rob Snow until being given the final  heave ho the end of 2019 caused backlash to Bell Media with fans more than mad with “messing around with CFRA”.

Bell Media has moved many CFRA hosts off their schedule and the names include Mark Sutcliffe (Mornings), Rob Snow was moved from afternoons to mid mornings and was them let go in 2019, Rick Gibbons and Brian Lilley are also former hosts.

Some former CFRA hosts have found a home elsewhere on the radio dial; Sutcliffe and Snow are currently on the air on 1310 News (former W1310 Oldies), Gibbons and Meehan have also held the mid-morning slot on 1310 after being let go from CFRA, 1310 is a Rogers all-news station that made a shift to all news and a talk station.  Brian Lilley is often heard on Newstalk 1010 in Toronto after moving to Toronto to be a Queens Park correspondent.

radio 2I mentioned how passionate listeners can be, and the passion exploded on the CFRA and CTV Ottawa Facebook page with blistering comments on how Bell Media was continually ripping the conservative heart out of CFRA. More than taking the voices that these listeners loved, Bell Media has rewritten that old slogan to now be “left of the dial and left of where we used to be”.

Ottawa is a city where public radio rules the airwaves, public money allows content to be produced, no commercials to irritate listeners; but the public radio also comes with slant to the left (according to us on the right). Hosts can be so blatantly against the right that a disclaimer on their opinions is needed.  To think some Canadians, want funding for the public broadcaster cut…go figure.

While we have the state broadcaster, we need private broadcasters to even out the ideology and opinion.  For the longest time CFRA was the home “on the left of the dial and right on the issues”, following years of changes a more centralist voice is emerging in the Nations Capital.  With the addition of Rob Snow in January and a new Ottawa Today with Mark Sutcliffe, 1310 News (owned by Bell Media rival Rogers) might have the answer to breaking the hold Bell has on talk radio and bring balance back from the left to the centre through some right minded voices.

All we can do is tune in and listen.

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

The budget boogie

20200224_153140.jpgTrue love letters don’t come until after Valentines Day.  After February 14th letters espousing what we love are sent to the government, Members of Parliaments across Canada and to the members that sit in Ottawa. The letters are flowing because it’s “budget time”, the time where the hands come out hoping that the government puts a little bit of cash into them.

The government puts a great deal of effort into each budget, they have to fend off all the requests and asks that come their way.  From more funding for medical research, to affordable housing, to education spending, infrastructure investments and spending that connects generations and communities across provincial and federal boundaries someone is asking the government for help.

Mona fortier

Hon. Mona Fortier, Minister of Middle Class Prosperity

Governments seek to establish a theme for how the money will be spent. Take as examples, the themes of the four budgets the federal Liberals tabled since 2016.  Their first budget was titled “Growing the middle class”, in 2017 the Liberals went with “Building a strong middle class”, 2018’s budget was given a hyphenated name, Equality growth – A strong middle class and last year’s budget was titled “Investing in the middle class”.  Any guesses how the government will proceed for the 2020 budget?  I propose the budget be called, Still working towards a strong middle class because we haven’t been able to do after 4 budgets”.

Of course, I jest, but just how far can a government take the middle class?  May be the Liberals will move the middle class ‘forward’, borrowing from their election theme.

I would like you to consider another aspect of building the budget.  As I mentioned earlier there are probable hundreds, if not thousands of requests for more money being handed out and additional spending being approved by the Finance Minister.  The requests come from budget consultation meetings, emails, letters and phone calls. The current government has increased government spending and deficits in each budget they’ve tabled.  I ask though, at what point does spending decrease?  Should it decrease?  How does it decrease.  While there is likely some debate on where spending goes, it seems that very little consideration where spending should stop going.

Budget requests vary from climate action to senior’s care, international development, universal childcare, universal pharmacare and universal dental care, language rights and among many others items and increase government funding for research funding for almost every disease Canadians suffer from.

Provinces also get into the act, asking for more in provincial transfers from Ottawa for their programs and not wanting to be left out are municipalities asking both federal and provincial governments for money to fund their programs and services.

The budget boogie is a round the clock dance competition.  It’s non-stop and it is not for the faint of heart.  The boogie will cause stress of the highest degree as governments are asked for “more, more, more”.   I wonder what happens to the dance when “money’s too tight to mention”.

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

Crisis? Yes and an Emergency!

Crisis? Yes and an Emergency

It’s amazing how the simplest of ideas gets complicated – but trust a politician to do just that.

The end of January, Ottawa City Council unanimously voted to declare an affordable housing and homelessness emergency or was that a crisis or maybe it was both. The motion, after the bickering stopped to officially declare “an affordable housing and homelessness crisis and emergency” was moved by Councillor Catherine McKenney.  The vote was, as I mentioned, was unanimous 20-0, three Councilors were not present for the vote.

The question remains though, what steps can the city take to address crisis and avoid just giving lip service to the motion.  Here are 3 steps the city can take to address the Housing and Homelessness Emergency.

McKenney

Somerset Ward Councillor Catherine McKenney

Assist non-profit housing providers to expand their services. This could come in the form of no/low interest loans to bring new units online. I have previously advocated that housing providers are part of the cycle of housing. It takes time and adjustment to go from no housing to independent living, this is where housing providers come in. New beds and rooms for those living on the street is a steppingstone to living on their own. Housing providers give key life skill training and assistance, without this you set up individuals for failure when they’re on their own.  After weeks, months and years of living on the street and in shelters a period of transition is essential and the assistance that staff and support workers provide set everyone who has lived on the street up for success and not a setback.  The no/low interest loans will provide growth in this sector that is needed.

With the housing waitlist now at 12,000 households, clearly the construction of new affordable housing can be the primary action to make a dent in the list.  To be honest, the list is not complete, there are individuals that are NOT on the list because they know they will never get a a place to live – and that is the real crisis.  The emergency is getting them on the list and into a home. Both Liberal and Conservative federal governments have tried to establish programs to help with the housing issue.

The Conservatives had Housing First and the Liberals released the National Housing Strategy, but with both these plans it takes money.  With the demand for funding and money from the federal government being pulled from so many directions what programs will have to suffer for Ottawa and other cities to get the money to build new affordable housing?  These solutions will half to come from within Ottawa’s council chambers.  But that seems unlikely because of what I believe is the third thing that has to happen.

The Mayor needs to take up the challenge, and I mean take this challenge serious.

watson

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson

The Mayor has been coasting for years in the City’s top position. The Emergency must be his call to action to step out of his zone and feel uncomfortable about the housing emergency. When we are challenged, we can accomplish great things, but we need to embrace the feeling of being outside our comfort zone. By doing this we learn how to expand and grow a new larger zone – we will have succeeded where we could not have before. But the Mayor needs to create that comfortless environment. In this case he needs to be challenged by an outside force.

Capital Ward Councillor Shawn Menard this week suggested there was a “Mayor’s Club” and that the Mayor’s inner cabinet is full of allies.  If there was an issue that the Mayor could be challenged from the inside the Housing Emergency is it.  Somerset Ward Councillor Catherine McKenney has the lead on the Housing file for the City of Ottawa, however she is on the outside of the City all powerful FEDCO committee.  FEDCO could use some Urban influence, that can be achieved by appointing an Urban Councillor to the Finance and Economic Development Committee (FEDCO).

FEDCO currently has representation from Rural, Suburban, East, West and the South Ottawa regions. What’s missing? The downtown and centre of the City has no seat on the committee that makes key municipal decisions. No Central/Urban representation? How does a committee as powerful as FEDCO not have representation from every region of the city?

I had a brief run in the 2010 Ottawa elections under the banner of  “Somerset matters”, and it partially because of that that #RedHeartBlueSign was borne. The banner highlighted Somerset Ward, but I also wanted to show that Somerset ward matters and should not be ignored. Sadly it seems nothing has changed since I saw this gap at City Hall in 2010.

Without the Mayor having someone pushback on a key matter such as homelessness and housing,  Ottawa and the Mayor cannot move ahead on the emergency until there is someone on the inside pushing boundaries on this issue.

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