Category Archives: Politics

Is it too soon to talk Municipal Elections in Ottawa?

Ottawa VotesHere it is November, we are almost at the end of Ottawa’s run where all things #Canada150 overshadowed what was being talked at in City Hall. With the end of 2018 we’ll see the dismantling of the #Canada150 Flame at City Hall and business of the City come more into focus.

There are serious items that will linger through to the Municipal elections in Ottawa in 11 months.

Mayor Jim Watson has campaigned on 2% or less for property tax increases. The problem with 2% property tax increases is that everything else has increased almost triple the rate of property taxes. Water fees, sewage fees all increased and are budgeted for large increases through the next five years as the City looks for revenues it can’t raise with a 2% property tax rise.

Watson’s rationale is not that different from Provincial and Federal Liberals that are “lowering” income taxes, but increases other necessary costs, like Hydro negate any reduction in taxes because any gain in disposable incomes is lost on higher hydro rates and carbon taxes put on the cost of gas at the pumps.   But Jim Watson will campaign on low property taxes and avoid any talk of higher water, sewage and user fees.

What will dog Watson are his views on safe injection sites and funding illegal pop up site. The safe injection site in Sandy Hill was given the federal go ahead, but that did not stop an unauthorized pop up site from appearing in a Lowertown park. This prompted the Ottawa Health Officer to opening a ‘legal’ temporary site on Clarence Street.   The illegal pop up site continues to operate even though its original mandate was to have a permanent site available to prevent deaths by overdose.

The irony here is that ‘conservative’ Mayor John Tory in Toronto is looking more progressive that ‘liberal’ Mayor Jim Watson in Ottawa. There will be calls for the City and the Mayor to accept money from the Province the same money Kathleen Wynne gave Toronto for its pop up site to be able to operate in the cold.

I also expect to see Jim Watson try to ride the shiny sparkly new LRT to another 4 years at City Hall. He better hope that it goes as planned, that sinkholes don’t create any unseen drops in his popularity. He is no doubt still very popular, but with urban councillors like Catherine MacKenney (Somerset Ward) and Jeff Leiper (Kitchissippi Ward) pushing a more progressive agenda, those councillors and perhaps others that want to see the City spend more on social services will look past Jim Watson for support. Sadly we may not see just who will challenge Watson for a few more months.

There were changes to municipal election for 2018. In previous election cycles candidates could register to run in the early weeks of the year. New rules now put any registering for the election at May 1st, four full months before in previous elections. This rule puts incumbents in the fundraising driver seat, as there can be no fundraising for a campaign before the candidate in registered. With the delayed registration date, incumbents no longer have to stress about announcing early.

The change in registration date will have a serious impact on challengers hoping to put up a strong effort against an incumbent. Losing four months of fundraising will drive some away from the challenge. The biggest financial impact may be on those that want to run for the Mayor’s chair.

In play for what could be tight race for Mayor are Bay Ward Councillors Mark Taylor, Diane Deans and former Ottawa Centre MP, and son of former Mayor Marion Dewar, Pal Dewar. Mark Taylor campaigned in 2010 to being a two-term councillor will he keep that promise. He is currently one of two deputy Mayors. If his good friend Watson decides not to run, he’d expect to pick up all of the current Mayor’s support. If Watson seeks re-election, Taylor could be in a jam as he campaigned in 2010 to only be a councillor for two terms.

Diane Deans, a Councillor for the Southern ward of Gloucester Southgate is also conserved a sure thing to run for the Mayor’s chains. She has the needed experience, as she has been a sitting Councillor since 1994. She has had verbal jousts with the Mayor in the past, especially this current term. Deans may see 2018 as her last chance to run for the top job, it could be the run for the Mayor’s chair or retirement for her.

Mayor Jim Watson’s biggest challenge may come from outside council. If Justin Trudeau can fill the position his father did, why can’t Paul Dewar follow his mother? Marion Dewar was Ottawa Mayor from 1978 to 1985 and a councillor from 72 before becoming Mayor. Where Watson would in previous elections be seen as the ‘progressive’ candidate – he’d look like a Larry O’Brien Conservative, if he has to run against Paul Dewar. A successful NDP MP in Ottawa Centre, he would be a dream candidate for progressives seeking greater funding for housing, opioid life saving programs and reducing homelessness in Ottawa.

As the New Year comes we’ll have to wait longer than normal to see who will challenge, who will retire and who will seek another four years. While Mayor Watson has announced he will run again ( https://redheartbluesign.wordpress.com/2017/03/17/the-first-shot-has-been-fired/) all eyes will be on him as the May 1st registration deadline approaches to see if he really meant it or not.

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

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Book Review: Liberty’s Lieutenants

Libertys LieutenantsAh history, we all need to know it so we know where we’ve been as a society and it acts a roadmap of where we need or might be going.

I came to know of Liberty’s Lieutenants as the author works in the office beside me. I am always game to support local musicians, local artists and local authors that I know and happily bought a copy of Matthew Kelman’s book, a book that took the most of the past two years to write, edit and self-publish.

The book has a twofold purpose, first it’s a book about our liberties, our freedoms. . Our six freedoms are the freedom of conscience; freedom of speech; of association; to bear arms; freedom of movement and freedom to own property. Secondly Kelman has selected twelve historical figures (and one historical document) that have defended at least one of the six freedoms; all have military backgrounds and have been on the battlefield.

Kelman has divided that book into three eras; The Ancients; Renaissance and Revolution and thirdly Modernity. In each of these eras Kelman presents a portrait of battlefield warriors that typify how battles were fought. Common in each of their successes is the ability to adapt and change as the tools of warfare evolved and became more dangerous.

Liberty’s Lieutenants is a good start for those that are interested in history and curious about it as well. It is well written, but not written as a textbook. Some of the portraits Kelman provides are available in cinematic form already. Napoleon, William Wallace and the battles of Greeks and Romans are all ready to view, with artistic license given to the Director and Screenwriter. After reading the book, I challenged myself with deciding the top moments of Liberty’s Lieutenants. So I have my three favourite profiles.

The Romans and Greeks (from the Ancients) clearly influenced how wars were fought in the future. These warriors were outstanding strategists, but they were also busy politicians. The two professions went hand in hand, and did so for thousands of years. The practice of being a wealthy noble and military leader existed as recently as the 1800’s. Both the Romans and Greeks had military careers hampered by political actions taken against them while they were on the battlefield, only to be taken to court or lose office when they returned – even if victorious.

The 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta was celebrated in 2015. The Magna Carta is general considered the beginning of the division of powers between the Monarch and an ‘elected’ body of representatives. I don’t pretend to think those 35 words are sufficient to anyone who wants to understand the Magna Carta. Trying to do that is a daunting task. A travelling display made its way across Canada 2 years ago as an effort to educate us all about the beginnings of our parliamentary democracy. In Liberty’s Lieutenants, Kelman clearly explains where this all came about from 77AD to 1815 in 11 pages. Not to knock historians that have written essays and papers on the subject, but those eleven pages has been the best explanation I’ve read since 2015.

Of the thirteen chapters examined in Liberty’s Lieutenants, taking conversations being held across Canada and the US about historical figures today, the most interesting selection by Kelman is Robert E. Lee. My history lessons say Lee was a Confederate General; he fought and led Army of Northern Virginia in the war that was all about slavery in the in south. Right? Turns out it is only partially right. General Lee fought because he was against the North invading his home state of Virginia. Kelman writes that ‘Lee was morally and politically opposed to the institution of slavery’. Lee was invited to fight for the Union, declining because as I stated earlier ‘his reservations against raising a sword against his native State.’

Lee’s leading of the Army of Northern Virginia was not always successful, in fact had he been successful the US would look a lot different today. His leading of the Confederate Army was strictly a ‘nation’ issue and not related to slavery. He twice offered his resignation after battlefield losses, his offers to resign were always denied by Confederate President Jefferson Davis. This profile of Lee certainly changed my thinking of the man.

In each profile a generous description and background of events leading up to a conflict and the conflict itself are provided. Kelman also penned the maps of military movements providing a visual for his words. I would only suggest to him to include phonetic pronunciations for names, especially in the opening chapter with Greeks and Romans. I also felt a timeline would’ve been beneficial in locating his subjects with their contemporaries.

Liberty’s Lieutenants is a good read and a good precursor for additional historical reading. Liberty’s Lieutenants gives the reader of a few eras to consider for further study as their interest by be more in the time of “The Ancients” rather than the age of “Modernity” or visa versa. It could be that the age of “Renaissance and Revolution” is more a reader’s preference. In Liberty’s Lieutenants, Mathew Kelman gives a taste of each and lets you decide which road you’ll travel next.

Liberty’s Lieutenants is available on Amazon.ca.

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

Book Review: Could it happen here?

IMG_20170928_0848160It has been an often asked question following the election of Donald Trump as the US President November 2017, Michael Adams’ book put the question front and centre “Could it happen here? Canada in the age of Trump and Brexit”.

While the title suggests a global perspective, the majority of the information provided by Adams focuses on Canadian and American polling and statistical information. Where does Adams get his research? He does it, the research – or more to the point, his company Environics does the polling and research. What Adams has done is pull the relevant information together and present numbers to make suggestions on the likelihood of Canada experiencing a Trump/Brexit moment.

If you like numbers and love the analytics of numbers you’ll enjoy this read. It reads like a press release at times, meaning for me having to review the numbers a few times to understand the message.   The message is important here, Adams does not go out of his way to make predictions, but present the statistical information to track probabilities in the different chapters.

Could it happen here does cement one fact for me; Canada and the US are extremely different in historical make up, social divisions and the reasons for the differences. This does add up to make the case that Canada’s Trump/Brexit moment is an extreme event and would need more stars aligning than were needed in the US. Our political makeup of three major parties almost guarantees we won’t see red baseball caps on most Canadians.

While the book deals a lot with Trump, it addresses Brexit and the likelihood of Canada wanting its Brexit moment. This year’s NAFTA renegotiations (a by-product of Trumpism) are the example. It was not any demand from Canada to tweak the trade agreement. In Parliament the Liberals and Conservatives are congratulating each other for the Canada European trade agreement. Canadians support these deals because we have been able to maintain Canadian institutions like supply management in the deals. Adams makes a big point that Canada’s immigration is generally supported by all parties and Canadians. The drivers that ended in the Brexit just don’t exist in Canada today.

Michael Adams presents the information that will allow the reader to make a personal conclusion to the question we’re faced with on the cover. But through the polling information and statistical data we see that when looking at the US, the UK and Canada, if you looked back populism seemed most likely in the US. For me, I’ve thought that America’s rise in populism began with the loss of Mitt Romney’s White House bid in 2012. Romney was no John McCain and no George Bush (both of them). He seemed to be as far from the common republican as you could be. But here is the problem, Trump has the wealth of Romney, however where Trump succeeded and Romney failed was that Trump spoke to the grassroots of republicans – Romney didn’t. The base of republican support doesn’t waiver, as it doesn’t with the Conservative Party of Canada. Populism in the US won the 2016 election because of an elitist candidate’s message to the base. Trump convinced the base hen was like them, though the lifestyle he lived was as far from them as anything could be.

Comparing a conservative base in Canada with the American provides substantial evidence that in Canada the rise in populism will be much more difficult. The key information that supports my idea is that Canadians don’t want a leader that doesn’t bend and avoids compromise. Americans and Canadians are opposites in this. Adams points out that a 2011 Environics survey 58% of Canadians want a leader that will compromise, 54% of Americans desire to have their leader to stand firm.

There are other reasons for me believing that Trumpism cannot succeed in Canada; a three party electoral system, our social and economic systems and dare I say it, our “Canadian Values”. There will however always be the wildcard of the voter themselves. Hillary Clinton found this out, the voters are fickle and if you lose their trust you cannot win.

Could it happen here? presents Canada vs. the US vs. Europe in a compact presentation. It also surprises the reader with the similarities between three. Similarities that do make you raise an eyebrow and go hmmmm.

 

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.

 

They’ll be back soon, what to look for in Queen’s Park and on Parliament Hill this fall Pt. 2

 

Last week, part one of this two part blog, focused on the return to Queen’s Park by Ontario’s MPP in the session that will be crazy busy as all parties start to position themselves for the June 2018 provincial election. In part two, a look at the return to Ottawa of MP’s as the Trudeau Liberals hit the halfway point in their mandate.

While a federal election won’t come before October 2019, there is positioning taking place. All three parties will start to think about that election as dynamics have changed. Gone is Rona Ambrose and in comes Andrew Scheer and the NDP start the midway session of the Liberal mandate without a permanent leader.

LPCLet’s begin with the government and what we might expect from the Liberals. First, we’ve been told there will be no proroguing this fall. Main reason is that recently announced new Governor General, Julie Payette, will not have been sworn in. We will have to wait until the New Year for a new speech from the throne. The Liberals will want to get the old speech and promises made in that speech, like electoral reform off the legislative books.   In the meantime, they have big legislation that needs to get through the house, the most important of which, will be the legalization of marijuana. Everyone will be watching to see what that Bill looks like and to what lengths the Bill will protect Canadians, especially young Canadians.

Trudeau and his team will have to continue to navigate through the Presidency of Donald Trump, especially now since NAFTA renegotiations have begun. How will Canada respond while Trump tweets about what he doesn’t like and what he expects to be in NAFTA2? The Liberals have given themselves some breathing space with the opposition by bringing onboard for advice and counsel, former PM Brian Mulroney and most recently with the NAFTA Advisory Council appointments of Conservatives Rona Ambrose, James Moore and former NDP Chief of Staff to Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, Brian Topp  – an all-star Team Canada approach to the negotiations. How this works out for the government is yet to be seen. It is going to be one of the biggest challenges the government will face leading to the 2019 election.

NDPStill to be determined is who will be leading the third party.  A new leader should be selected by the time the house comes back from its Thanksgiving break. Will it be the familiar face of either Nikki Ashton, Guy Caron or Charlie Angus? Will newcomer to the federal scene Jagmeet Singh be leading the NDP from the balcony of the House of Commons? The deadline for new memberships is August 17th, when those numbers are announced; just who might lead the NDP could be clearer. Until that happens, Tom Mulcair will remain in the front benches leading the NDP. What direction the NDP takes when Mulcair is gone will depend on who becomes leader. Until then, expect to see the NDP fight the fight as the third party and trying to remain part of the headlines until after the leadership is decided.

CPCAndrew Scheer had a few weeks as leader in June following his rise to the leadership in May at the federal leadership convention in Toronto before the House rose for the summer.  Last month Scheer took the first steps in defining what his leadership will look like with the forming of his leadership team, which includes Candice Bergen staying on as House Leader and Lisa Raitt, former leadership candidate, now taking her place beside him as Deputy Opposition Leader. Still to be come is the shuffling of his shadow cabinet and where he plans to place his leadership supporters, leadership opponents and the current members that have critic roles; this will help define an Scheer era of conservatives. With the Conservative caucus set to meet in Winnipeg the first week of September, hopefully the shuffle will take place before the end of August.

Will the Conservatives be an opposition party, or will they be a government in waiting. There is a difference in how strategy will be formed. As a government in waiting what will Scheer Conservatism look and sound like? It cannot be about using ‘elbow gate’ as a reason to show JT is still not ready, nor can they use foreign policy blunders as a means to expecting the world and Canada’s part in it to fall apart. Scheer will have to define what a Conservative government would do, what action would be taken? Will the Conservatives start to work the themes that Andrew Scheer brought up during the leadership? Will we see ideas from other leadership candidates creep into policy? How will the return of the Parliament shape how Canadians and the government see Andrew Scheer? These are going to be the biggest questions for the party to decide. I expect this upcoming session will be all about Scheer showing his teeth without showing his hand.

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.

Book Review: The Reason You Walk by Wab Kinew

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The political climate regarding Canada’s Indigenous People is hot, the federal government is trying to make an inquiry to Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women work. There are questions about the government’s integrity to their commitment to reconciliation while Trudeau and Liberals made reconciliation one of four themes for #Canada150 celebrations.

Through all this, it can be a difficult story for non-indigenous Canadians to understand and to wrap their heads around the history and the issues that continue to drive this story to the top of the national news programs. For most Canadians it is difficult to comprehend the pain of the past of residential schools, sub acceptable living conditions, child suicides and losses due to fires and other living conditions not permitted in the mainstream.

For the longest time I’ve been looking for something to read that will give me the sense I was looking for to understand the tragedy, pain of the history of our First Nations communities. There were books of political nature; non-fictional accounts and fiction that told the stories; magazine and newspapers articles were too formal. I searched through the entire bookstore shelves searching there was nothing that I felt was a good introduction for me to dive into.

I stumbled onto The Reason You Walk by Wab Kinew; the book only had two rows on the top shelf. The Reason You Walk on the back cover is described as “a father-son reconciliation.” Flipping through a few pages, The Reason You Walk, describes a son, learning from his father about the life his father’s father had and the lessons and how those lessons came from the elders. The father, a residential school survivor is ill and in the months of his life. Wab tells the story of that last year with his father.

While The Reason You Walk is about how Wab and his father are reconnecting, it is also the life of his father, his life before Wab and his live as a residential school student, being taken to Kenora Ontario – away from his parents and community and from the years in school in Kenora, with only a few weeks back home each year. Yes, The Reason You Walk is the book for me that could explain the pain, the suffering and the loss that the residential schools brought, it would be my first step to understanding the importance of reconciliation and truth. The Reason You Walk is the book that opened the door to the first step of wanting, make that being able, to learn more and though I have used the word quite a bit, understand more.

Wab and his father are not perfect, in fact they have had dark periods in their lives, death, alcoholism, divorce and multiple spouses are all part of their lives before the wisdom of the elders is absorbed and accepted. They accepted their responsibility for their roles in the lives of their people, family and children. Wab and his father were exceptional men in their lives; they were a journalist, professor, Chief and activist. Kinew now sits as a MLA in the Manitoba legislature.

The Reason You Walk shares the troubled lives of Wab, his parents, siblings, wives and children. But it shares a message that goes far beyond the teaching of the elders, it is a message that applies to everyone, it is about the reason we walk…as Wab sings the song after his father dies.

“I am the reason you walk, I created you so you might walk the earth.

I am the reason you walk, I gave you the motivation so you would continue to walk,  even when the path became difficult, even seemingly impossible.

I am the reason you walk, I animated you with that driving force called love, which compelled you to help others who had forgotten they were brothers and sisters to take steps back towards one another.

And now my son, as that journey comes an end, I am the reason you walk, for I am calling you home. Walk home to me on the everlasting road.”

The idea that reading the story of a father and son reconciliation can be a mirror for a greater appreciation of the challenges from our First Nations communities is not lost on me. They do not forget or try to rewrite their past, it used to remember and drive towards future goals. This is something that should be considered, when nationally efforts are made to wipe the past from our sights.

As demonstrated in The Reason You Walk, the past is used for a good future and so it should be and governments, Canadians and Indigenous People to move forward from the actions of those in our past.

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