Category Archives: Personal Challenges


I have reached the milestone of writing my 300th post for this project called #RedheartBlueSign. I began this October 2011 following Ontario General election that year and it has allowed me to comment on politics, music, books and what was happening around me.  The name comes from a profile on my campaign written that election,

Image from Three Angry Nerds Podcast

There have been posts that have resonated with you the readers of RHBS and others not so much.  Some posts that I have been very proud of did not get many reads, and others have led to other opportunities.  

The post “Y2KXX a new normal’ was written about a recent vacation that took place just as COVID-19 shutdown Canada.  It described a wedding we attended in BC and how the pandemic was going make all of us adjust to a different reality.  COVID continues to do that 5 months later.  That post led to being asked to expand the post to be included in a book being compiled of stories of kindness and hope in a pandemic.  Honestly, it was a huge moment for me, I will forever be thankful to Heather Dawn and Wintertickle Press for the opportunity.  It has opened the door to doing more long-form writing of longer than a 700 words blog post.  The book “Not Cancelled: Canadian kindness in the face of Covid-19” not only includes my expanded reflection, and 48 other stories that show the kindness from across Canada. 

I took the blog on the road last fall to Barrie Ontario and wrote a series on the election that was not political (well maybe a little) and gave a glimpse into campaign life.  The nine posts during written between August and October and through those posts shared my campaign experience.  If I do it again, and I know there will be more campaigns, I’ll bring more of campaign life to #RHBS. 

There have been many books read and reviewed here. I have purposely read books I would never pick up for recreational reading; these books were all about learning from others.  Books by Naomi Klein and David Moscrop confirmed what I thought about some left leaning writers, especially Moscrop whose ‘Too Dumb for Democracy” is one on the worst and most left partisan books I have ever read.  Happily, that same post in March of 2020 was mostly about the best book I’ve read in a while; Beyond the Trees by Adam Shoalts and a completely partisan book in the favour of our nature and the beautiful and unforgiving terrain of Northern Canada. 

One book review that continues to get views is from Ottawa’s Brian McGarry, posted May 2012. The book was his life and the life with the McGarry Funeral Home, which has, as the book title suggests “From Paupers to Prime Ministers: A Life in Death.” It is a fascinating look at his life and service to his community.

Some of the older posts are also good reads; there is December 2011’s “Collective Benefits of Ending Homelessness”, sadly we still haven’t solved that.  My post on Canadian music “CANCON: The Making of MAPL Music” from May 2017 still gets attention.

Politics remains a topic of interest to write about, and thankfully still being read.  Focusing on Ottawa I’ve written on a few municipal cycles that receive a good response.  Another municipal election is here in a short two years, next month.  With a Ottawa ward boundary review now upon us the 2022 election presents some unique situations and decisions by our local elected officials.

I have enjoyed sharing my music with you.  I’ve reviewed new music by many and looked back at music and the part it plays in our lives as I did in the September 2017 post “No Music No Life” written after seeing a movie on Tower Records.  I’ve also written about music in my family with the post “Ode to my Father” September 2016 and the influence of having music in my home from a very early age.  The last two weeks I’ve shared a playlist with 60 years of music, I now have the playlist of  those songs on my Spotify profile,  take a listen and let me know what you think.

As I wrap up post 300, number 301 is already swirling around in my mind; thanks to all the readers, especially those that follow #RedHeartBlueSign, your ‘likes’ and comments are all appreciated.

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.



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 at  If you prefer email, please contact me at

60 Years On, Music of My Life 2

Some milestones just scare the crap out of you!  30, 40, and even 50 didn’t worry me but 60, oh my!  While I wonder if this birthday will be the birthday where in my head I feel the age me birth certificate says I am, I know I can look back at the last 60 years and know that there has been so much music that I have loved!

In Part One, I shared the music of my first 30 years, today I reveal the music that has been part of my second 30 years.  My music influences have changed in these three decades, they were shaped by the music I was playing while DJing, something I started with great regularity after my move to Ottawa in 1990.  In the early years I worked for Bytown Boogie, by 2000 I moved on to be a part of the Professional Entertainment Group where I have formed a great friendship with Helen and Steve.  It’s with the ProDJ Team I’ve learned more about music and got a much better understanding of the technology of the mix and and sound we can create.

Another factor that shaped the music I’ve listened to in the last 30 years is technology and how we access our music.  I did grab music from Naptser but evolved eMusic.  Here eMusic provided access to music that was up and coming or was released on smaller labels. From there it was iTunes and then now onto Spotify.  Working in Radio, I have always appreciated that artists rely on royalties from the sales from their music and have advocated, and sometimes berated friends who ripped music for free.    This applies to how I stream in 2020.  

Before I list the music from 1990 to 2020, here are the Top 10 songs and 10 most listened to Artists:

1Cut to the Feeling – Carly Rae Jepson207
2Slow Burn – Kacey Musgraves110
3I Got You – Olivia Lunny (from The Launch Season 2)95
4Butterflies – Kacey Musgraves73
5Space Cowboy – Kacey Musgraves71
6We are Never Ever Getting Back Together – Taylor Swift68
7Criminal – Lindsay Ell67
8Roy Rogers – Kacey Musgraves65
9Delirious Love – Neil Diamond with Brian Wilson57
10The Middle – Zedd, Maren Morris & Grey57
1John Mayer555
2Carly Rae Jepson422
3The Beatles408
4Ryan Adams326
5Kacey Musgraves319
6Elton John318
7Lindsay Ell285
8Michelle Branch269
9Ruth B209

Here you are…my second half of my 60 years of music, 1990 to 2020:

1990Freedom 90George Michael
1991Lovers in a Dangerous TimeBarenaked Ladies
1992CourageTragically Hip
1994All I wanna DoSheryl Crow
1995Made in EnglandElton John
1996Dark HorseAmanda Marshall
1997Calico SkiesPaul McCartney
1998You Get What You WantNew Radicals
1999When you say Nothing at AllRonan Keating
2000I won’t back downJohnny Cash
2001Set Me FreeMichelle Branch
2002Somebody Like YouKeith Urban
2003Find Your way backMichelle Branch
2004Pieces of MeAshlee Simpson
2005Delirious LoveNeil Diamond w/ Brian Wilson
2006Me and Mr. JonesAmy Winehouse
2007BelieveSuzie McNeil
2008Lovers in Japan/Reign of LoveColdplay
2009Slow Dancing in a Burning Room (Live)John Mayer
2010I BelieveNikki Yanofsky
2011The AfterlifePaul Simon
2012Call Me MaybeCarly Rae Jepsen
2013Give You What You LikeAvril Lavigne
2014Gimme Something GoodRyan Adams
2015Runaway with MeCarly Rae Jepsen
2016CloserThe Chainsmokers
2017Cut to the FeelingCarly Rae Jepsen
2018SlowburnKasey Musgraves
2019I Got YouOlivia Lunny

You may have noticed that there is no song for 2020. I have plenty of new music to listen to, including Bob Dylan, Dua Lipa, Lindsay Ell, Tennille Townes and I’mm excited to hear the new Alanis Morrisette and Kathleen Edwards, so the 2020 song is yet to be determined. It could be a song that took me completely off guard as Olivia Lunny did last year.

All my songs from 1960 to 2019 will be put into a playlist on Spotify, follow me there if you would like to follow and listen to that playlist. 

I appreciate the likes and comments from last week’s post, I hope you enjoy this post as much.  Thank you for letting me share these musical moments in my life. 


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 at  If you prefer email, please contact me at

My best laid plans for a vacation…

I am going in a different direction with this week’s post, mainly because I went in a different direction personally this week – I took a few days off work.  I had a few thing things that I had aimed to accomplish in my few days away from the ‘home office’, but even the ‘best laid plans’…you know how the saying goes.

For this short staycation, we planned to spend a day or two with the grandkids, J & J, as Mom was working, and Dad was away on a fishing trip in Northern Ontario. I wanted to get the podcast in good shape for a September launch and I has books I wanted to read.  It all seemed very doable.  All this would take place after one day of working to clear up some issues, this because the idea of taking some time off was late coming to me.  This would be the first vacation since our time in BC for a wedding which appeared in the post Y2KXX in April (and which I have chronicled for the book Not Cancelled: Canadian kindness in the face of COVID-19 from Wintertickle Press).

Our two day stay lasted four. We cooked, cleaned, continued the build of a LEGO research boat at a pace and attention span that a 7-year-old can give you.  We play ‘Lava’, this involves putting cushions on the floor and on the count from three you have to get off the floor (of lava) and get on a cushion before the lava gets you.  This game can go one for quite a while. Days were filled with games, an excursion to a water pad and many walks where we were chasing scooters and bikes.  We even squeezed in a shopping trip to Costco.  We just couldn’t leave but had to as I have a hair appointment late Friday afternoon.

The last 20 weeks has had me do so much, I’ve taken up a few things outside of working hours.  Here is a break down.

Since the end of March, I’ve read 6 book, 20 weeks for 6 books.  The bulk of that time, about 7 weeks was dedicated to reading Margaret Mitchell’s two volumes on WW1 and the Treaty that followed the war.  I read the books in the reverse order they were written, starting with “The war the ended peace” and then on to “1919’.  My reasoning was that “Peace” really outlined the issues that brought war on that would play a role in the treaty negotiations. This order of reading the books gave more ink to the Leaders of the UK, France, Germany and other nations.  It was insightful to read about these leaders and how things would play out in 1919.

I’ve started reading the Stephanie Patrick series of books written by Mark Burnell; I’ve read ‘The Rhythm Section’ and ‘Chameleon’ with “Genesis’ and ‘The Third Woman’ waiting to be opened. Liz has also been reading a lot, we don’t normally share books, but she insisted that I read ‘Where the Crawdad Sings’ by Delia Owen. I loved it!  Maybe I loved it too much as there were a few passages that just might have had a few teardrops dampen the pages.  I have also started reading the ‘Bones’ books written by Kathy Reich – this started due to the fact that Liz and I have been watching episodes of the TV show recorded from the CTV Drama channel. The shows are aired chronologically.  While we started late, we watched the end of the 12-year series and then immediately moved to episode one season one.  As of today, we’ve watched the first 5 seasons and the last 2.  We’re working through the series, but that’s how I turned to reading the books that the TV show has been based on. I’ve finished the first book “Deja Dead” and have another ready to go.  I’ve selected Adam Shoalts’ “A History of Canada in Ten Maps” is next on my reading list.

Hopefully you’ve read my post on my upcoming podcast, the good news is the test episode is complete I’m comfortable with the editing and now I’m writing new episodes.  I’ve been calling the podcast ‘Red Heart Blue Sign – The Podcast’, well now I have finally come up with the moniker for it, it is based on my years in Stratford.  I would spend hours talking with a friend about music and more in his record shop ‘Laughing Gnome Records’.  I am looking forward to sharing with you this new and exciting project. 

Musically, I’ve complied a new playlist called “60 years on” (a nod to Elton John) as a celebration of my 60thbirthday in September.  I have selected 59 songs representing the years 1960 to 2019.  There will be a 2020 song, I haven’t discovered or ‘felt’ which song from this year that should make the list.  I’ll be writing about this in the next few posts.

My song for 2019, “I Got You” by Olivia Lunney

Finally, this is post is number 297 of #RedHeartBlueSign, I’ll be posting the milestone 300th post written since I started the blog in October 2011 in a few weeks.  I don’t know what that will look like as a finished product, but I have a few ideas swirling around, I am just waiting for them to land.

Thank you for taking time to read #RedHeartBlueSign, stay safe, wash your hands and protect your social circles. If you feel you have symptoms of COVID-19 get tested.


My COVID projects – Part 2 – The Podcast

Rode Mini-USB Microphone and Marley Headphones

More than 100 days of COVID19 and I have listened to almost just as many podcast episodes.  I wrote in May on RHBS Post #286 about the podcasts that I have been listening to. If you missed it, “Watcha Listening to” can be found here:  In that post I provided a review of some podcasts that have grabbed my attention. Here I am today telling you about a podcast I am going to launch in the coming weeks.  I have decided to put out there for you Red Heart Blue Sign: The Podcast. 

Even before that post in May I have been putting together the pieces of what a podcast would sound like.  I have taken a few steps along the way.

The Equipment.  I purchased the equipment in May, I ordered it in April.  COVID must have had caused many people to want to start a Podcast as what I originally ordered was on backorder.  The supplier in Montreal called and made a few other suggestions that they could ship right away. What you see in the cover photo for this post is what I ordered, the Rode USB-Mini Microphone.  I decided on this model after watching a review on You Tube.  This choice may present limitations down the road, but for now I think It will be good.  I have a set of Sony headphones I’ve used for DJing that will work and Marley Headphones, the set in the photo, that I’ve been using during the testing. 

The Software. The choice of the Rode Mini USB microphone allowed me to plug and play very easily onto Garage Band on my MacBook Air.  Here as well I have watched some You Tube Tutorials on the basic use of Garage Band for podcasting.  Recording, editing, mix and saving the final product.  This week I’ve recorded a test episode, making sure I understood the processes of Garage Band.  Getting comfortable with the technical processes will take time.  I’m getting there and I am sure the final production value of the podcast will improve with each episode posted.

The Time.  Putting together the idea, concept and the test podcast have shown the time commitment needed for each episode of the podcast.  Unlike this blog where I may not know what I am going write about until I sit down and start clinking on the keyboard, the podcast will need to be planned out.  I am sure that a natural schedule will develop as the weeks go by, but before that a production schedule is needed and kept.  I’m confident that a natural schedule will develop as the weeks go by, but before that comes a production schedule is needed and kept.  An episode script or outline will have to be developed weeks ahead.  The production schedule has to be adhered to as will the schedule for posting the podcast.  I realize that in the beginning there can’t be any vacations form working on the podcast.  What this means to me is that wherever I go, so does the MacBook Air and the microphone.  I know that getting into the groove of having a weekly podcast is going to require adjustment and commitment.  I am looking forward to putting the podcasts out there for you.  

The Episodes.  Waiting for the equipment to arrive allowed me the time to start planning the episodes, coming up with an episode guide.  This is helping with the process of what RHBS: The Podcast will really be about.  I have developed 7 topics into podcast ideas.  As I was coming up with these episodes, it became clear to me that the podcast should become an extension of what this blog is about.  I know that some of the posts have not resonated with readers, but I also know what posts readers have really liked.  The podcast will give me the time I need to go deeper into the discussion of what have been successful blog posts. I’m pleased with how the first seven shows are going to sound.

Finally, I look you to, I’m interested in your thoughts, what do you want to listen to and when do you listen to podcasts?  Please email me at or DM me on Twitter at @RedHrtBlueSign.

As always, I appreciate the time you take for reading, look for episode 1 of Red Heart Blue Sign: The Podcast (or whatever it ends up being called) soon!  Stay safe.


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 at  If you prefer email, please contact me at

How do you Protest?

This week’s post will cut close to the bone for many, but it comes after almost two weeks of protests around the world and closer to home in Canada and Ottawa.  Millions of Americans and 10’s of thousands of Canadians marched because of racism, police brutality and needless deaths.  One name was the centre of the protests this week, George Floyd.

Discarded Ottawa protest signs, photo by Danno Saunt-Videoman Ottawa

The Parliamentary Protective Services released a statement that more than 7,000 people protested with very little disturbance.  That number is very impressive, they gathered, marched went down on their collective knees in an organized demonstration against racism.  They shared a collective voice in silence in that act.

I have friends who march in the demonstrations and many others who don’t. There is a common thread through my circle of friends though, we know we can all do something to make change take place.

I have run for office three times, each time I did because I felt that it was the best way, I could form change – with policy and legislation.  The process of good policy and legislation is not difficult; listening is pivotal as is understanding why and how good policy can lead to effective legislation.  

Today I work to research, investigate and understand how a policy has been helpful or a hindrance.  That leads to new policy, questions to ask the experts and an opinion that will form a solution that will become legislation.  Understand, that the entire last sentence does not include the rigour of debate, counter opinions and disagreements that take place to form the what is hopefully a key to good public policy.  This is how I can be effective in having good public policy. 

I didn’t walk in the protest in Ottawa.  I posted once on social media, on #BlackoutTuesday, regarding the injustices of the death of George Floyd and racism. I’ve seen posts from social media influencers who have chosen to post often and others that have posted very little.  I read one post that suggested that just because they didn’t post on the issue that they didn’t agree or support that cause. I understood where that person was coming from when they posted it and I supported them by liking the post.

If your means of protesting is walking, carrying some very creative signs then I support you.  If you choose words to protest, choose them wisely, select words that can go miles to making change effective and good, for your positive message will go further than anything negative can.  If you chose silence, then make the silence effective by listening. If you choose to question, ask questions that help you understand.  If you make your protests personal, act in a way that creates good.  If you teach, show kindness and when you act, make your parents proud.

Our global village is gathering its voice asking for change, there may be more turbulence as the change comes and is eventually achieved.  The turbulence will come out of frustration because those that NEED to hear haven’t. 

We all have a voice, use it as you must; chant loudly, pray silently, ponder wisely and write with profoundness.

Thanks for reading and stay safe.


—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 at  If you prefer email, please contact me at

Great Expectations

April showers were once expected to bring May flowers but in 2020, April showers were to bring about May existence and expectations. 

We had expectations to be on our way out of COVID-19, we would be getting to thinking about getting back to work, planning summer camps and vacations.  For all the complications of the coronavirus, we had simple hopes – we wanted to get back to life.  As April became May and now May becomes June, do we really want to get back to normal?

The news of the last week and the actions of a few, have made the expectations we thought about for weeks erase pale to the important expectations that never went away.

The week started with the Canadian Parliament being ‘shuttered’ for another month, then the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) releasing a report on the state of Long-Term Care homes in Ontario and resurgence of the Black Lives Matter protest because of another needless death of a black American.

Thankfully the week ended with hope.

The COVID pandemic gives hope that we will finally act on the care we give our seniors in LTC residences. The report from the CAF was scathing in the treatment seniors are receiving, the report also created the chain reaction of a call for action.  All It took was for the army to come in to make governments sit up and notice. Ontario Premier Ford promised action; he acted quickly by taking provincial control of several private LTC homes and launching first a government inquiry and then an independent commission into the care and operations in LTC homes – finally, the action that families, unions and experts had wanted. Successive governments have responsibility for the state of these facilities, so now we have action that might bring hope the true expectations will come about in Ontario.  

In Minneapolis on the third Thursday in May, George Floyd died after being held down to the ground by a police officer; it was a needless death and once again put the spotlight on police and race relations.  In the case of death of George Floyd four white officers raised the voices of millions across the US and Canada.  Expectations that improvements would ever take place in how coloured Americans and Canadians are treated might have been exhausted had it not been for a 20 something Black American state that it was his generation that had to act now.  The generation of his parents tried and couldn’t affect change and the generation of young black Americans that will follow him deserve a better life and a chance at equality.   

I wonder how as a society we cannot find a way to erase the hatred towards our neighbours, co-workers and fellow citizens?

I’ll finish with an expectation of hope; Space Ex successfully launched after a weather delay stalled the count a few days earlier.  It marked the first launch of a spacecraft from American soil since 2011 when the Space Shuttle program ended.  Space Ex this weekend launched and docked with the International Space Station.  It will return to the earth and then the craft, amazingly will be used again.  The Falcon 9 Space Ex rocket heralds a new age of space travel for the USA which has announced a return to the moon by 2024.

What makes this so exciting is that it could start a new generation of technology for space travel that will make its way back to earth.  What we consider everyday at one time started as needed technology designed and made for space travel.  Some of these products include the Laptop Computer and Mouse; the ear thermometer, foil blankets and wireless headphones.  A list of 20 items is here on this NASA website:  Based on this list, I can’t wait to see what NASA (and Space Ex) come up with next!  The expectations are as far as going to the moon and back!

Thanks for reading and stay safe.


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 at  If you prefer email, please contact me at

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 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,  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.


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  If you prefer email, please contact me at

Whatcha Listening to?

listeningThe most oft asked question during this current period of isolation is either “have you watched anything good lately” or “what do you recommend watching?”  Let me add another question, “whatcha listening to?”

Now that we’re in the house for more hours than out of it we’ve turned our attention to podcasts.  I wanted, needed to get away from watching news all day. I wanted a podcast to be a diversion from mainstream media news outlets.  I was looking for different perspectives on the news of the day and more personal perspectives of the world today. I have found some podcasts that we listen to in the evening and that I enjoy while on a morning walk.  I get my podcasts from Google Podcasts but there are many sources to find these and other podcasts.

Here is some of what we are listening to now, I have provided a link to each of the podcasts listed below.

and another thingAnd Another Thing Podcast, featuring broadcaster Jodi Jenkins and former MP Tony Clement.  This podcast is a mix conversation of music, news and politics.  It’s very entertaining.  Its loose format is easy to listen to.  Some favourite episodes include Season 1 Episode 28 (S01E28) with music insider Larry Leblanc; S01E19 with Tony’s barber Johnny Awesome and S01E06 with UK Senator Daniel Hannan.  The episodes average 30 minutes in length with is perfect for me and Jody and Tony have a fantastic rapport.  A new show drops weekly.

front burnerFront Burner is a Monday to Friday CBC podcast and normally runs 15-20 minutes in length.  I was not a regular listener to this until last week.  I find in podcasts the host will lend a distinct editorial style.  Jayme Poisson was the hoist until recently when she went on maternity leave.  Piya Chattopadhyay is now hosting for a few weeks and recently has had excellent episodes on the 5G conspiracy and what businesses will survive COVID-19.

Herle BurlyThe Herle Burly is hosted by former Ontario Liberal Campaign Manager David Herle, full disclosure here, these are long episodes, most are well over an hour.  They are political, unfiltered and candid.  Episodes are dropped weekly and almost of them feature the political panel of Jenni Byrne and Scott Reid.  For me I have to listen to this every week.  David has been able to bring some great guests to discuss the news of the day and get opinion from the newsmakers themselves.  I highly recommend the May 5th episode that features former Minister Jane Philpott who discusses among other things, what she is doing during COVID19 and her time in cabinet with Jody Wilson-Raybould.  This clocks in just under 2 hours but well worth the time investment. I listened to this over two days, the political panel is very interesting to listen to as they discuss the Philpott interview.

The BridgeThe Bridge with Peter Mansbridge has quickly become a favourite, it has been a daily Monday to Friday podcast during COVID19.  Like the Herle Burly, I try not to miss listening to this.  The Bridge features former CBC National anchor Peter Mansbridge talking mainly about COVID though he has recently turned his attentions to other topics.  Episodes are 30 minutes in length with the Friday edition a little longer as he reads email from listeners (listen to the episode from Friday May 8th, the Weekend Special #8 – as an example).

MunkThe Munk Dialogues have been broadcasting weekly on Facebook discussions with leading figures in tech, economics and psychology focusing on the world after COVID19.  I have to be honest; some guests speak way above my head, especially when it comes to economics.  The three I have enjoyed featured Malcom Gladwell, Niall Ferguson and Kara Swisher.

play mePlay Me, another CBC Podcast and is something I recently discovered; a complete stage play presented in 30-minute episodes and one play will take 3 episodes to air.


ted talksTED Talks Daily is hit and miss for me, I normally listen to 1 or 2 episodes a week, depending on the topic.  Like the TED Talk, these are only 11 minutes in length, so if it’s something I thought I might like, and if it doesn’t live up to the expectations, I can still get through it.

kee to travelFinally, a nod to fellow Humber College Radio Broadcasting Alumni, Steve Kee, who launched Kee 2 Travel, a couple of weeks ago, a travel podcast that features Steve and his wife Cynthia talking about their travels and feature guests from time to time.  The podcast is therapy for them as this year they are not travelling.  They travel 5-6 times a year to different resorts.  I have relied on Steve for advice when we were planning a trip to the Caribbean.  Each podcast is between 7-10 minutes long, easy and interesting to listen to.  There are 7 episodes available now.


Thanks for reading this week, I hope you enjoy listening to some of these.  Please let me know what you are listening to.


40 Days

ronnie hawkins

This past weekend marked 40 days since we arrived back in Ottawa from Vancouver and voluntarily self-isolated based on requests from the federal & provincial government and to protect our family and freinds.  Originally the request was for international travellers to settle in for 14 days after landing in Canada came mid-March, but the move to self-isolate soon swept across the country and all Canadians started to protect themselves in their own homes.



While I mark 40 days, many Canadians have been home for 50 days. This seems like a perfect milestone to reflect on life since March 23rd.

There have been new phone appointments with doctors, canceled appointments for haircuts, eye check-ups.  We’ve had video calls with friends and family.  I miss a good handshake, sharing a dinner table with friends and hugs from family.  I long for a haircut but loath to be unshaven for more than 3 days.

Our last meal out took place at Pearson International Airport, at a Tim Hortons while waiting to catch our connection to Ottawa.  Since them we’ve had take-out pizza twice and ordered from a local restaurant.  Besides that, it’s been cooking at home.  Because we’ve been home the amount I drink has also reduced to once a week, those four cans of beer I bought weeks ago are in the fridge are pretty cold.  I did take part in a virtual whiskey tasting.  As a member of the Ottawa Whiskey Guild we recently we met on a Friday evening. Another is booked for next weekend; two whiskeys will be dropped off and will shared it will 15 others in a video meeting.

Knowing I would be working from home when I was back in Ottawa I had plans to visit the gym in our building every day, but I didn’t consider the Condo Board shutting down the building and it’s common areas.  Today my exercise is our (mostly) daily walks for an hour getting 5k.  With warmer weather, I should get the bike out and log a few kilometres around the city, especially on weekends.  I will miss BBQing as the condo BBQ will be locked away until restrictions advised by the Ottawa Public Health Officer are lifted.

It is safe to say that my reading will not suffer, it certainly hasn’t in the last forty days.  If I take into consideration the 10 days in BC and the last forty, I have been a tear, with 5 books completed.  I took this time to open some books that require a bit more of a time investment.  I’ve decided to read Margaret MacMillan’s two books that look at the periods before and after WW1, The War that Ended Peace and 1919.  The page turning has slowed significantly, but its been worthwhile.  I’ve set a few books up to be recreational reads.  After reading Mark Burnell’s “The Rhythm Section” I’ve purchased three other books in the series of Stephanie Patrick novels.  It is my balance between non-fiction and fiction reading.  I count on weekends to be able to get through large chunks of reading.

The one thing I haven’t done is unzip my guitar case and play (a better description is re-learn to play) Red, I am sure that I could find a friend or two to video play along with.  There are no excuses for this – none!

I don’t like the feeling of being overwhelmed and I’ve felt that too many times the last 40 days.  Working from home has highlighted two things, first if given the opportunity I could work 12 hours a day – there is that much to do. Second, I need to separate the workday from the rest of the day.  Through work, I know just how much COVID-19 is affecting everyone in this country.  There are 37.5 million different COVID-19 experiences in Canada.  For everything the government does to help one Canadian, it doesn’t help another; that’s overwhelming but make no mistake, I appreciate the opportunity I have to help others through a very complicated time.

Most of all in the last 40 days I’m glad I have a partner to do this with and for who knows the how many days ahead.


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  If you prefer email, please contact me at

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 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.


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 If you prefer email, please contact me at