Category Archives: Politics

Book Review: Legacy – How French Canadians Shaped North America

Legacy

The editors of Legacy start and finish the book, in between those pages are the stories of twelve French-Canadians, some I knew of and some I have not – though their names were known to me as street names in Gatineau, across the river from Ottawa.

Andre Pratté contributes the Foreword and Jonathan Kay the Afterword. In the foreword, Pratte hints of who might be considered for a second volume as they were left out. Kay writes in the afterword of his ‘regret’ as a Anglo-Quebecer and how English Canada needs to know about these twelve French Canadians, but also that there are others that need to be heard and known of west of the Ottawa River. Both speak with pride about the role French Canadians played in the growth and prosperity of North American.

Kay says as much in a reply to a tweet I wrote after completing the book.

Screen Shot 2017-05-23 at 12.18.45 AM

My dilemma in reading Legacy was HOW do I read it? Do I read the essays in the order I want, or do I follow (trust) the Editors Pratte and Kay have purposely placed these essays in a particular order? I trusted the editors. 

Legacy was an interesting read, the subject matter was great, but because of the format, I was as at the mercy of the contributors of the book. There were some essays that I had difficulty getting through because of the writer’s style, but I got through them and learned more about the contributions our Quebec cousins made to Canada and North America.

In reading some of the essays I had questions as in with Deni Ellis Bechard’s essay on Jack Kerouac I couldn’t tell if it was written when Kerouac was alive as Bechard doesn’t mention his death in 1969. I was drawn into the life of Montreal’s Paul David and his medical accomplishments. The political tour de force of Thérese Casgrain left me wondering why we had not heard of her and why her name is not mentioned with the Famous Five when it comes to women who leave their mark on this country.

In reading the essays on Thomas-Louis Tremblay and Georges Vanier, their heroics and bravery were outstanding. They are connected through their membership of the 22nd Battalion, the Van Doos and their battles in WWI. It’s interesting that another great Canadian has such a presence in the life of Vanier, Vincent Massey was the foil for everything that Vanier stood for – but both became Governor Generals of Canada, George Vanier was appointed Canada’s Regal representative following the death Massey in 1959.

What I anticipated the most ended up being the most difficult to read. Lucien Bouchard’s essay of Henri Bourassa was riveting. It being a hard read, it forced me go through it twice, I am glad I did. Bourassa ‘s battle with the Catholic Church and Pope Pius XI is well documented, as is his passion for Quebec, a passion that lives on long after his death.

From explorers Pierre de la Vérendrye and Albert Lacombe to Jacques Plante and Kerouac, Legacy brings nine men and three women, all French Canadians and all-important contributors to North American Anglophones AND Francophones to learn about. Writers Ken Dryden (Jacques Plante), the afore mentioned Lucien Bouchard Bourassa), Samantha Nutt (Casgrain), Roméo Dallaire (Tremblay) and Jean Charest & Antoine Dionne-Charest (George-Étienne Cartier) add their voices through their words on Quebec’s and French Canada’s history and place in North America.

Surely there are more than enough subjects for a Volume II.

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 am celebrating #Canada150 with a daily post of an event celebrating our sesquicentennial in Canada.

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

 

It took me almost 40 years to read The Handmaids Tale

 

Handmaids TaleI never read The Handmaids Tale in high school. I graduated before the book was published. If I had though I am pretty sure I would not have “got it”. I didn’t have the life experience to comprehend what Margaret Atwood was writing about. I would have only learned through current life examples, at the time, through news or history lessons. When I graduated from Erindale Secondary School in Mississauga (in 1979) the only parallels to The Handmaids Tale I would’ve known of were the Khomeini in Iran and the Soviet Russia, which while severely cracked was still in one piece. If I were to read and discuss Atwood’s ‘1984’ in high school I would have been far too influenced by the teacher’s impressions. Honestly, at that time, it would have not made me enjoy the book.

It is only now, 38 years later that I can say I read The Handmaids Tale and enjoyed every page. This is not a knock on Margaret Atwood, but back then I was reading books about a fictional Canadian takeover of America by Richard Rohmer and music biographies. Yes, it is now after 38 years after graduating from high school that I could read the book, appreciate the book, understand the book and fear the outcome of a world that seems too real.

Margaret Wente in the Globe and Mail (April 29, 2017) wrote “Are we living the The Handmaids Tale?” (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/are-we-living-in-the-handmaids-tale/article34843333/) . Wente discusses the recent calls from Vanity Fair, The New Yorker that under recent events women’s rights are under attack. She says “…the book is regarded as prophetic…more than ever people are convinced that women’s rights are under threat…”.

Wente and others are not wrong, and as a man reading a book that reduces women to providers of children and to complete the simplest of duties it scares me to think what happens when some have too much influence. Maybe purposely, but they also forget that in The Handmaids Tale men to things – also reduced to simple chores, driving a car, gardening and impregnating the Handmaid.  In The Handmaids Tale we see that men are afforded certain luxuries taken from women – access to computers for work purposes only), information and reading. In the book we do not know what the Commander of the house does, where he goes from 9 – 5 and how he earns his status in the new state. His marriage is just a marriage, not a marriage – a partnership or something to enjoy – but never a marriage. To keep appearances, there are a lot of whispers, clandestine signals and prohibited rendezvous. The Commander and his wife are under the same roof, but do not live under it.

While not to the extent that the rights of women have been taken away, the Commander and others like him also lost in the Gilead.  The freedom and happiness that the Commander seeks can only be done in secret. His midnight meetings with his handmaid only to talk and play scrabble show us that in a world that creates a strict doctrine, it removes the simple joys of life we take for granted. The Commander has to sneak out with the handmaid to be able to have enjoyable sex with her, sex for procreating is not fun in Gilead – it is a job and if either person involved this duty fail, whatever little they have now is taken away. Banishment from the ‘good life’ and the few accommodations allowed in Gilead are removed.

Atwood correctly identifies that women are not things and portrays an image of what feminists fight for everyday. But, she also identifies that men also suffer under strict doctrines and in The Handmaids Tale while not advocating for what might be called masculinism, she is warning that under the control of few, the many lose.

After reading The Handmaids Tale, a friend of mine send a recommendation for more Atwood via Twitter:

Screen Shot 2017-04-30 at 10.54.03 AM

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 am celebrating #Canada150 with a daily post of an event celebrating our sesquicentennial in Canada.

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

O’Leary was Late

RHBS 156

For months Conservatives have been waiting for consolidation among the ranks of the 14 candidates vying for the Conservative Party leadership.   Most were expecting (and secretly hoping) that one, two – oh heck 4 or 5 candidates on the lower end of polls would exit the race, I wonder if they were wary of having their own David Orchard moment and getting promises that would never be realized? Whatever the reason, the time to leave the race came and went with no movement from the bottom.

The moment in question I mention is the date before ballots were printed. Whatever date it was – that day came and went with 14 candidates going to the printer for 259,010 Conservative Party members to mark the 1 through 10 preferences. Presumably the date to withdraw from the race would fall between February 24, 2017 – the day nominations closed and March 28th when membership sales ended. There might have been another week in there as the cut off, but without the party publishing the key milestone dates we’ll never know.

All we know is that 259,010 party members will receive a ballot with an O’Leary-less leadership ballot with O’Leary on the ballot.

RHBS 156

Why was O’Leary late is leaving the race? His name on the ballot leaves a lot of questions. These questions would have disappeared if Kevin O’Leary had left the race before the ballot sent to the printers. Kevin O’Leary is still going to be part of the leadership conversation, I am sure he would want it any other way.

Now that he is out, will his memberships move to Bernier? How many of O’Leary’s memberships will still mark Kevin as #1? How many ballots will never make it to a mailbox?

With an upper tier of the leadership that has been thinned out, what is there for the lower tiered candidates to gain from the ballot? Are there expectations of a victory or the opportunity to make a statement? In the final debate, candidates Trost and Obhrai both appealed to those watching by stating that they each had common ground with other candidates on the stage. Of the lower tier how does coming number two help? Who do they become number two to? Of Bernier, O’Toole, Scheer or maybe Raitt or Chong who do Leitch, Trost, Obhrai or Lemieux aim to be 2nd on the ballot to?

Will we see deals made between Bernier and Raitt? O’Toole and Scheer? Does Chong even rate a number based on his Carbon Tax stand? The only other candidate that has outlined an environmental plan is O’Toole, does Erin court Michael and visa versa?

Ballots came in the mail to our home today, while we might be 90-100% of who our #1 is, it’s the 2 through 10, or maybe only a 2, 3 and 4 that are the source of discussion. It is too early to tell which way our ballots will go. If you have a ballot, good luck and have fun figuring out how your ballot will look…I hope to see you in Toronto on May 27th.

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 am celebrating #Canada150 with a daily post of an event celebrating our sesquicentennial in Canada.

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

The Trudeau Revolution

 

18 months into the mandate, we are well into the Trudeau Revolution. We should have sensed a bit of this with the Prime Minister’s public admiration of Chinese ‘democracy’ and Cuba’s Fidel Castro. There were little wee signs of it from the beginning, perhaps to put a gloss over it all – but we are now into a full blown revolution that will change the shape of Canada.

After years of Conservatives and Liberals watching money and working towards a balanced budget after the First Prime Minister Trudeau. The 2nd Prime Minister Trudeau is determined to take us down the road a second time. The Trudeau Revolution has blown up the bank, in 2019 after the full four years of a Trudeau mandate 5 years of Trudeau budgets deficits will be $142B and the Federal Debt will be $755B. A debt of $1Trillion is in our sights and you might want to look away but when you look back it’s in the rear view mirror and it is approaching fast. While being handed a balanced budget in 2015, the Trudeau Revolution is now primed to have Canada having to work and wait for its next balanced budget until 2055.

But the Trudeau Revolution doesn’t stop at the dollar and the deficit.

The government has tried once to push a parliamentary procedure through, Motion 6 was introduced last May.   Motion 6 was designed to limit opposition debate and let a Minister of the government determine when a debate would end. It was withdrawn following protests from opposition parties and the battering the government took during Question Period on the motion.

From the ashes of the withdrawn Motion 6 has come, from Government House Bardish Chagger, her ‘thoughts’ on the modernization of the Standing Orders of the House of Commons – the rules on which Parliament operates. Billed by the House Leader as a discussion paper and left at that for now it would have been fine. What made this document part of the revolution was the motion in the House Affairs Procedure Committee from Liberal MP Scott Simms to have the committee study the paper and come back with which recommendations on what to present to the House to implement.

At the heart of the issue is a government that wants to use its majority to push through procedural changes, when as a majority it has the power to get its legislation passed. With the changes to the Standing Orders, now the government wants to be able to do that, with less interference from the opposition parties.

This is not the first time in the short history of the Trudeau government this has happened. Remember Electoral reform? At first the Bloc Quebecois and Green Party’s would not be represented on the special committee on Electoral reform, then they were. Then the Electoral Reform report came out and because it didn’t reflect the view of the Liberal’s then Minister Monsef stated that the committee had not done “the heavy lifting’. Translated, it meant that the committee did not unanimously endorse a ranked ballot system. What the majority of the committee did endorse was a proportional system that was still to be determined. The Liberals scrapped electoral reform saying Canadians no longer had an appetite for changes in how we votes, many voters cast their ballots for the Trudeau Revolution because of electoral reform promises.

The government now has this to worry about. The House Affairs Committee has been filibustering since MP Simms introduced the motion to study and report back. The filibustering was one reason for the delay in the release of the Budget by Minister Morneau. Other points of order (which take precedent over everything in the House of Commons) were raised that caused further delay including the distribution of copies of the Budget to Liberal MPs before the Minister started reading his budget speech. Liberal MPs were seen taking and posting photos of the budget and the opposition filibustering in the house, things that are not allowed.

The filibustering in committee will continue on April 3rd when the House returns from a constituency.

To be transparent the changes in Standing Orders cover how MP vote in the House, to how committees work the more controversial of having a Prime Minister’s Question Period once a week (the other days he can sleep in) and eliminating Friday sittings of the House.

Beyond Standing Orders, the Trudeau Revolution will also include the recently announced legalization of Marijuana. How deep the revolution goes is yet to be seen, but it is clear that like his father Trudeau 2.0 means to leave a deep stamp on Canada for better or for worse.

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 am celebrating #Canada150 with a daily post of an event celebrating our sesquicentennial in Canada.

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

The first shot has been fired

Ottawa Votes

I had noticed while reviewing the activity of this blog that yesterday my post about the 2014 Ottawa elections was viewed. In that post I gave predictions on 9 councillor races in that year’s municipal elections. I wrote that 8 of the nine wards I looked at were in a strong position to change. I was wrong in all predictions as the incumbent won all the 8 seats I thought would see a turn over.  But it didn’t stop me from thinking about what might happen in 2018.


Mayor Jim Watson announced that he was seeking another term as Mayor in the 2018 Ottawa Municipal elections.  It was the first shot fired, meant to warn off challengers?  When he made the announcement he wrote:

“Our city is in the midst of its most significant transformation in a generation, and with the support of the people of Ottawa, I hope to continue to play a small part in our beautiful city’s bright future.”

It makes sense that he run again, the LRT is his baby, by the time a potential next term ends in 2022 Phase 1 will be up and running, Phase 2 of the LRT will be close to completion and he will likely have passed Phase 3 at council. It just makes sense that in order to have the LRT as his legacy he try for a third consecutive term (and 4th term overall) as Mayor to guide it through construction and implementation. Whether he can remove the idea that his tax increase limitations are creating more debt and deficit for the City is yet to be seen as there is a contingent of voters that don’t believe that Ottawa can afford to carry an increased debt.

His re-election is not a slam dunk even with one of the highest approval ratings of all big city Mayors in Canada, his approval sits in the high 70’s percentage. There have been less optimistic and less publicized polls show that he faces some real challenges including increased water fees, sewer rates (all because he limits property taxes to 2% or less), better snow removal budgeting and to loosen the handcuffs of Councillors at budget time.

When he announced his intention to run on March 9th, it may have made a few intentions of other potential candidates sag.

So, who could be in and who could be out of the Mayor’s race with this announcement?

Possible candidates to jump in include, Paul Dewar former Ottawa Centre MP. We have a Father-Son as Prime Minister so why not a Mother-Son Mayor of Ottawa? The only thing holding him back is whether he anticipates that the shine is off the Trudeau Liberals and he can win his seat back. You have to remember, he did not lose any votes in 2015, the Liberals gains were from ‘new’ voters, which was the margin of victory for Catherine McKenna. Voters disenchanted with broken Liberal promises will help Dewar in 2019 and he very likely could win the seat back as he will be able to out canvass Catherine McKenna for 2019 as she did against him for the win in 2015.

Diane Deans, who will have 23 years on City council, has Mayoral aspirations, you can sense it. But the timing has never been great. With Watson in for another run is the timing still off? She has been building on having a different view of Ottawa than Watson envisions in her debates in Council, 2018 could be the year that she is also all in.

Likely NOT seeking to run against Jim Watson are Councillors Mark Taylor and Tim Tierney; both are loyal to the Mayor. Taylor may not be around in 2018 if he seeks to run in the 2018 Provincial election in Ottawa West Nepean replacing Bob Chiarelli as the Liberal Candidate. This seems the most likely plan for Taylor as he plans to keep his promise to be a two term Councillor. Tierney also made the two term pledge, but suggested in 2014 that the voters should determine if a councillor is elected for more than two terms, however I do not see him running against his friend.

Senior councillors, Rick Chiarelli (18 years), Marianne Wilkinson (40+ years with Kanata and Ottawa) and Jan Harder (21 Years with Nepean and Ottawa) may be challenged by supporters to make the jump to run for mayor. Even though the Mayor has declared he’s “in”, I do not expect to see anyone else put their name forward until early 2018.

I do not doubt Watson’s sincerity about running again, but he really had no choice BUT to say he was seeking re-election. He was being asked ( I think unfairly as he is only half way through his term), to say he would not run might have labelled him a lame duck Mayor and then noting would be accomplished and council might seem like a Mayoral debate every time they sat. But then again, something better could come along before he has to file his papers.- just sayin’.

Something else to watch leading up to the 2018 election is if Council will adopt ranked ballots for the vote. A City staff report on the changes that are now allowed due to a change in Provincial legislation suggests that moving to a ranked ballot would cost $3.5M more and would have challenges with ‘respect to awareness, technology and election administration.’ Time is also a concern to implement changes for 2018, but staff does not discount making changes in future elections.

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 am celebrating #Canada150 with a daily post of an event celebrating our sesquicentennial in Canada.

Sanctuary! Sanctuary?

sanctuary-city

A funny thing has happened since November 8, 2016 (Election Day in the United States); people feel the need to defend values in Canada because they feel similar values in the US are being attacked by the new administration. There is a reaction revolution happening in Canada. Protests against the President are taking place; protests are taking place against the decisions being made in the American capital. Funny thing though, Donald trump is not our President, heck, he isn’t even our Prime Minister. Yet Canadians are taking to the street to protest his actions. Likely though, Canadians are just trying to let our Municipal, Provincial and Federal governments know how they feel about the 45th American President.

I found that there are 17 sanctuary cities in the US; the largest are New York, Los Angeles, Detroit and Chicago. In Canada, Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver and London ON are sanctuary cities. London being the newest, as the city council voted in 2017 to become a sanctuary city. But – do we need to have sanctuary cities here in Canada? Hasn’t Canada always been a welcoming country – taking in thousands from areas of the world afflicted with political uncertainty and upheaval?

What does it mean to be a sanctuary city? The designation of being a “Sanctuary City” ensures that people without legal documentation will have access to services they require. The designation also means that illegal immigrants would not be sent back to their home country if they were discovered.

This past week in Ottawa, Somerset Ward Councillor Catherine McKenney indicated she wants to make Ottawa a sanctuary city. A motion to council was expected this week (February 8th), but McKenney held the motion back and hopes to have Ottawa council vote to be a designated sanctuary city in the spring.

The idea of sanctuary goes back over 800 years to the 12th Century in England where fugitives, when they crossed the threshold of a church, the community would be legally required to feed and house the fugitives for up to forty days. I am sure we all at one point have seen a movie where someone is running into a church demanding “sanctuary”. Oh…and after 40 days, the fugitive had to confess his crime, give up everything they owned and walk barefoot to the nearest port and live in exile for the rest of their lives. Sanctuary has evolved since the days of King Henry III.

Back to Ottawa. Ottawa has a very generous history of accepting those from other countries recently; Syrians have found a home on our city as have Vietnamese boat people in the late 1970’s. Ottawans have continuously opened their doors and hearts to help others. Ottawa is now a vibrant multi-cultural community as Iraqi’s, Iranians, Somalians, Congolese and Afghans among others have come to Ottawa to live following political unrest and violence in their home country.

Ottawa, and Canada have accepted the many from the around the world – and in Ottawa’s case, they have had little if any documentation – they have been refugees. This has been done and we have welcomed many without the designation of being a sanctuary city.

So, do we need to have that designation? Conservative or Liberal federal governments have always accepted an open door policy to refugees, this is what Canada is.

Are Canadians and specifically, Canadian politicians allowing President Trump to dictate our laws and regulations? We didn’t expect NO political fallout from a Trump Presidency, but to have one man and his administration have such an effect is surely an overreaction. Canada has survived ‘cool’ relationships with the Americans in the past – what evidence is there where we expect that we won’t get through the next four years, or eight with Trump? It’s not like he can rule as Prime Ministers have for 10-15-20 years.

Are demands for sanctuary cities nothing more than a reaction,  a shield, a need for protection a need to define LOUDLY our Canadian Values?

Do Canadians lose when we feel the need to ‘bulk up’ against someone who has such different values than us? Shouldn’t sanctuary be something we want as a proactive step rather than a reactive move against one person?

If becoming a sanctuary city was such a good idea, why haven’t we discussed this earlier? Why do we need to wait for one person to cause this to happen. If we haven’t needed this is the past, why do we need it now?

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 for what I see, hear and read.

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

 

Trump by Number

trump

Here are 25 numbers that define Donald Trump’s first week in Office.

0: The number of new federal empoyees to hired (due to a hiring freeze)

1: Supreme Court Justice to be nominated in ‘a couple of weeks’ by Trump

3: Number of countries affected by renegotiating NAFTA

7: Number of days in office

11: Other countries affected by Trump pulling out of the TPP

14: the number of Executive Orders signed so far

20: Percent of border tax for items brought into the US from Mexico

30: Days for the military to come up with a plan to defeat Isis

38: Tweets sent since Jannuary 22nd 2017

45: Donald Trump is the 45th President

48: Mike Pence is the 48th Vice-President

60: Number of days TransCanada has to resubmit its application for Keystone XL

72: People shot in Chicago in Trump’s first week in office

90: Number of days citizens from 7 countries are banned from entering the US for

100: Percent chance that Mexico will pay for the wall

120: Number of days suspension of allowing refugees into America

277: Number of Execurtive Orders Obama signed in 8 years (average of 35 per year)

3,721: Number of Executive Orders signed by Franklin Roosevelt

5000: Number of new Border Patrol Agents to be hired

10,000: Number of new Immigration Officers to be hired

20,000: The Dow Jones hit 20,000 in Trump’s first week in office

60,000: Reduction in refugees coming into the US in 2017 from 2016

440,000: People marched in the Washington DC Womens March

3,000,000: Number of illegal votes cast (for Hillary Clinton)

Massive: The size of the Inaugruation crowd (according to Trump)

 

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 for what I see, hear and read.

I can be found on Twitter @robertdekker & @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.