Category Archives: Quebec

My year in pages – Part II

Part 2 of my year of the books I’ve read covers July to December.  In this list of books, I have chosen “Trudeau”, “The King’s War”, “A Gentleman in Moscow” and Stephen Harper’s “Right Here Right Now” to be my reading list while I was in Barrie for the federal election for 8 weeks.  While I read the first three as planned, I finally read Harper’s book in December.   I also did not complete the books in the 8 weeks as I planned, but I did read them all just a later than planned.

Here are my July to December books.

Trudeau: The education of a Prime Minister by John Ivison (2019)

This was like rereading the headlines for the past 4 years, but with a view from the right.  As I anticipated it reaffirmed everything I know and feel about Trudeau.  After reading Ivison, it feels like I should be reading Promise and Peril: Justin Trudeau in Power by Aaron Wherry just to see if I come out on the middle of this time in Canadian history.

The King’s War by Peter Conradi and Mark Logue (2019)

The follow-up to The King’s Speech, to which the Oscar winning movie was based. The King’s War follows George VI and Lionel Logue after the war and into peace time.  If you liked the movie, you’ll enjoy this book.

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles (2016)

A great story!  After you have finished it you’ll want to read it again – right away to catch what you missed the first time that lends to the eventual ending.

The making of the October Crisis: Canada’s long nightmare of terrorism at the hands of the FLQ by D’Arcy Jenish (2018)

A couple of years back I read a book about the legacy of French Canadians have and their contributions to what Canada is today.  Beside Legacy” Canada has an history that needs to be told, sometimes it is an ugly history and we should not hide from it.   The making of the October Crisis is a thorough account of the beginnings of the quiet revolution in Quebec to the explosive climax of it in 1970.  Jenish starts us with the 1960’s Quebec, the roots both political and social that lead to the dissatisfaction of Quebecers.

The groups and individuals who fueled the crisis are explored in detail and provides background to where Quebec is today and helps to understand political cycles in there that include the resurgence of the Bloc of Quebecois in the 2019 federal election.

This book is an important book, it’s a book all Canadians should read, but baby boomers will have flashbacks of the events while reading this.  It’s a weird feeling as you may have lived through this era of our history, it will trigger memories. More importantly it triggers the idea that we cannot allow the same conditions to flourish again.

Right Here Right Now by Stephen J. Harper (2018)

If people could past their dislike for former Prime Minister Harper and read this for this is, an account of the collective good conservative policies generate, history will be much kinder to Harper when political adversaries look back at his tenure as PM.  RHRN is Harper not shooting arrows at his adversaries but shooting arrows at the policies they brought forward.

It is written clearly and not so that you need a PHD to understand it.  His look at polices that have national and global impact on the economy, immigration, nationalism and trade are straightforward and make sense.

Harper’s view of Donald Trump is not at all flattering, but he also recognizes that the reasons for the election of Trump goes back years through policies brought in by previous White House administrations.  Trump is merely the person that recognized and capitalized on the anger of the American worker, it doesn’t make him a better President than say Hillary Clinton would have been.  It’s a lesson that should not be overlooked here in Canada.

Many Moons: A Songwriter’s Memoir by Dayna Manning (2019)

My reading steer me to where I lived and what I’ve done.  Manning hails from Stratford Ontario where I spent 5 years working at CJCS-AM.  I thoroughly enjoyed Dayna’s journey as a musician and a songwriter.  I feel that I should be looking to purchase music she’s released, or at least the songs she has profiled here.

As you may have noticed, my reads leaned heavily towards non-fiction last year, something I would like to change in the next 12 months.

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

Welcome Back to West Block: The Government

20191125_115040.jpgA kinder and gentler Trudeau government?  Is this an expectation of Canadians? It certainly was something that Canada voted for on October 21st, no more of a government that had blinders on, plowed ahead with its values-based agenda all others be damned. The results of the election indicated that the government was expected to work with all parties and all provinces.

What could the government possibly do for an encore to 2015? Based on the new cabinet that was announced on November 20th Trudeau has decided that he has three themes in his new cabinet.  More importantly the government seems more focused on working with the provinces and municipalities, rather than the opposition parties in achieving success in the three themes

The first theme is national unity and ensuring that Alberta and Saskatchewan are heard.   Trudeau has tied several ministries together.  With Intergovernmental Affairs, Natural Resources, Agriculture, Infrastructure and Communities Trudeau has a group of Ministers that will be tasked with making sure each region of the country is heard and listened to.  In a second pool Trudeau has the Ministers of Environment and Climate Change, Oceans and Fisheries, Infrastructure & Communities has closely bound the economy and the environment.  In the third group of Ministries which include Finance, Diversity Inclusion and Youth, Economic Development, Rural Economic Development and a new ministry of Middle-Class Prosperity (seriously that is what is called) will all be forced to work together to “support the middle class and all those seeking to join it”.

For anything else, it will be just be a case of make sure nothing blows up, so we won’t have to divert from out three-pronged plan to govern for the next 3 to 4 years. In simple terms this government will be focused on the Middle-Class, Climate Change and National Unity.

How can we expect the government to stay in power working with the other parties?  I suspect that the Liberals will count on different parties keep them as the government.  On the environment the NDP and Bloc will play nice with the Liberals. Ccount on the Conservatives supporting actions to prop up the middle class as both the Liberals and Conservatives campaigned on massive tax cuts to middle-class for their votes. The tricky file will be national unity but expect the Bloc Quebecois (of all parties) to vote with the government to support efforts that bring the regions together.  I say this because if there is one region that is all about the “what’s in it for me” it is Quebec.  The Bloc will certainly be waving the Bleu et Blanc each day in the House of Commons.

The government has its work set out for themselves and they think they have a plan that will help them get back to a majority.  Will the opposition oblige?

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

Welcome Back to West Block: The Opposition Parties

QPBy the time all the votes had been counted and 338 candidates had been declared an MPP-elect the House looked far different that it did when the Governor General disolved the 42nd Parliament.  When the MPs last met in the House of Commons the party standings were Liberas with 177 seats, Conservatives 95 seats, New Democrats 39 seats, Bloc Quebecois 10 seats, 2 seats for the Greens, one each for the Peoples Party and the CCF. There were 8 independent MPs and 5 vacant seats.

Following the election, the party results had a different landscape as Canadians woke up October 22nd with a Liberal minority government – some would call it a strong minority with only 13 votes needed from other parties to support the government to pass legislation.  But it was a minority still.  What Canadians also woke up to a regionalized parliament, the rebirth of the Bloc Quebecois and the absence of the liberals in Alberta and Saskatchewan and the question of how the government could possibly ensure that the west was important to the Trudeau.

Heading into the speech from the throne on December 5th the seat standings for each of the parties is:  Liberals 157, Conservatives 121, Bloc Quebecois 32, NDP 24, Green Party 3 and 1 Independent.  These new standings will have impacts beyond the votes themselves.  The NDP fall to fourth place while the Conservatives remain Her majesty’s Loyal Opposition.

Now that there are four parties in the opposition that have ‘official party status’ questions allotted for Question Period are now split between three parties.  In each session of parliament, the number of questions given to each party is based on the proportion of seats in the opposition, in this session Conservative hold 121 of 181 seats.  The NDP will be the loser in QP as they will have to split the number of questions with the Bloc who hold a greater share of the seats than the New Democrats. Conservatives hold approximately 66% of the seats, the same as last session and should be able to ask 24-25 questions each time Question Period takes place.

Through QP and debates each party will have its priorities and will use those priorities to determine how they vote and how successful each party will be in working with the government and their agenda.  The opposition parties will have to find their footing, set their agendas and make hard decisions what they are and are not prepared to support when it comes to Justin Trudeau and the Liberals.  It will be more important for the opposition to know where the line is where they no longer have confidence in the government and will force a new election.   Ultimately though it will be the Liberals that will make that decision, when it suits their purposes best.

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

(don’t tell the Irish) The Scots Invented Canada

Scots 2
April 6th is Tartan Day in Canada, how appropriate that I sit and write a few words about a book I first spotted in the office of a Senator when I toured the new Senate building a few weeks back.

I learned that there is almost a cottage industry of books written about things that Scots have invented.  There are books written about how the Scots invented the modern world, golf, fine single malts and Canada.  How Scots invented Canada was written in 2010 by Ken McGoogan and looks at 5 dozen or so Scots/Canadians with Scottish blood lines.

There are the expected profiles and where they stand in Canadian history, like Sir John A MacDonald, George Brown, William Lyon Mackenzie King, Frederick Banting and Sanford Fleming.  We know their place in Canadian history as fathers of confederation, the building of the CRP Railway and in the world of medicine and science.   McGoogan then goes and expands all our knowlledge of all things scottish and give us names like Alexander Grahma Bell, Doris Anderson, Timothy Eaton, John McCrae and Nellie McClung.  He manages to bring Scots into to present day Canada where the world continues to expand and unfold.

Lets go back to the pre-confederation for a bit.  Famine, wars, the American Revolution all emerge as some reasons of how many of Scottish decent came to the Upper and Lower Canada provinces.  Scots loyal to the crown found refuge in early Canada.  The Scots led to the successful mapping of trade routes to the west coast, some doing faster than anyone could have ever imagined. The growth of the Hudson Bay Company was at the hands of Scots that had been educated due to the “Scottish Enlightenment” where reading was given to many.  The enlightenment was a leading road to building the character of well educated Scots that would be foremost in business management and growth.  The growth of the fur trade and the establishment of the trade routes were instrumental in bringing the west coast colonies into an eventual confederation in 1871.  That move to came about with a promise to build a transcontinental railway.

Moving through the decades, profiles of Bell, George Brown and Timothy Eaton talk of leaders in communications.  Bell with the telephone, Brown as a leader in newspaper publishing and Timothy Eaton with the catalougue .  These communication giants helped grow commerce in a young country.  These three live on in 2018 with Bell Canada, The Globe and Mail and the centre of commerce in Toronto, the Eaton Centre.

Of Canada’s Prime Ministers, 60% have Scottish heritage.  14 of 24 can claim a direct Scottish lineage right up to our current PM, Justin Trudeau.  Younger Trudeau’s mother comes from the Sinclair Scots and his grandmother from his father’s side was also Scottish as Pierre Elliott Trudeau was borne from a Scottsh mum and French father.  Besides Sir John A, McGoogan brings us our other leaders; Diefenbaker, Tommy Douglas, Nellie McClung and paths through their family lines that started back in the homeland.

While the book is an informative read about the mapping, discovery and building of our nation, there are a few chapters where I find he looks pretty far back to find the thinest of Scottish thread.  But have no fear he talks about Robbie Burns and the ties that the great poet has to Canada. He even reveals a personal connection in his family to Robbie Burns.

Over 60 profiles build a a strong case that the Scottish really did build Canada.  If you are Scottish you’ll enjoy this, if you want to be Scottish “How the Scots invented Canada” will reinforce that feeling. With all of the work McGoogan does to lay out his claims that the Scots really did ‘invent’ Canada, you have to wonder what everyone else doing?

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 &  @rdmediaottawaand on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

She said He said They said

It seems like ages ago that the first word on a small issue that may or may not have started out of the Prime Ministers Office came out.  Did anyone think seven weeks ago that  we would still be talking about this?  In fact as the timeline extends on what is commonly known as #LavScam or “the thing that Liberals don’t want anyone to talk about” you just have to know there will be more.

The fallout has been emence; three cabinet shuffles, two resignations from cabinet, one Liberal MP is now sits as an independent, one ‘retirement’ and the resignation of the Principal Secretary for the Prime Minister. Then there is the collateral damage; a committee shutdown, an inaudible budget speech, a walkout and 31 hours of voting.  Apparently, even though the Prime Minister and the Liberals on the Justice Committee have all said that the story has been told they neglected to ask the person at the centre of the storm, Jody Wilson-Raybould (JWR) – she has more to say.

The Prime Minister is treating this like a chess match, saying that JWR has used up all her time, 4 hours, when she appeared at the Justice committee a few weeks back.  The problem with that situation is that following her testimony former Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, Gerald Butts came forward to tell his version of events to the committee.  In fact the Justice committee allowed now retired Clerk of the Privy Council Michael Wernick to comeback to answer to some of JWR’s testimony.

Now that Butts and Wernick have had their chance to reply to JWR, the opposition have been pressing to have JWR back in front of the Justice Committee. They have held up regular proceedings in Parliament, they worked towards having the presentation of the budget delayed and forced a a vote on 257 motions, all spending items, that could – and almost did topple the government.

But wait, what’s this? The Liberals are willing to let JWR and Jane Philpott have their say, but not in a committee but in the House where parliamentary priviledge allows them to say anything without any threat of litigation on what is said.  The issue with this is that the government could and would limit Wilson-Raybould and Philpott’s speaking time and would not allow for questions to prode further into their statements.  This seems to be the message du jour from the Liberals as Judy Sgro and Melanie Joly have come out in favour of this and if this is what the Prime Minister wants expect more from the Liberal Caucus to speak out.

In the meantime Wilson-Raybould has said she will be sending a written statement with details of texts and emails that will further support her initial remarks. She can certainly send to the committee her written submission but I don’t think the Liberal majority on the committee will accept it, remember last week the Liberals forced an end to the study saying they had heard enough – nothing more is needed to be said.

The only thing I can safely say here; this is not going away. Just when you think all this is all done and there can be no more something happens and so far the something has been a misstep from the government. I mean, this is the third post I’ve written on this subject since February 12th, there will be more.

Both sides have called ‘check’ in this match of words and wills, but no one yet can claim “check-mate”.

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&  @rdmediaottawaand on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

From the Gallery: #BlameBrison

Brison ResignsOn February 6, 2019 in the House of Commons former President of the Treasury Scott Brison said “thank you and miss me, but don’t forget me”.  A few days later Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a media scrum “if Scott Brison had not  stepped down from cabinet, Jody Wilson-Raybould would still be Minister of Justice and Attorney General.”   This is the beginning of what is being known as #BlameBrison.

#BlameBrison has caused the following moves; Minister Philpott from Indigenous Services  to fill the desk emptied by Brison at Treasury Board, Seamus O’Regan was moved to Indigenous Services and the now infamous move of Wilson-Raybould to Veterans Affairs and the move out of left field from the back benches of David Lametti to Justice Minister and Attorney General.  Trudeau also added one more Minister to his cabinet, bringing another back bencher forward, Bernadette Jordan into the role of Minister of Rural Economic Development.

Watching all this from the gallery, the strangest move was not Wilson-Raybould, it was moving O’Regan; Veterans Affairs  Canada (VAC) is not a slouch file and needs a Minister that will stand up for our Veterans. Bold promises by Trudeau in 2015 have been followed by Ministers, until Wilson-Raybould was appointed last month that were weak and did not perform well. I wish someone could tell me just what it is that Minister O’Regan did in 18 months in VAC to warrant a move to Indigenous Services, a file in which Trudeau’s entire claim of reconciliation is dependent on.

If Trudeau is in fact correct and Wilson-Raybould could still be the AG and Minister of Justice, there would only have been one seat fill when Scott Brison resigned. Now the move of Minister Pilpott to Treasury takes a solid cabinet minister to a key portfolio. That leaves only one person to move to replace Philpott and maintain the work being done on reconciliation. One person was more than qualified for the position and more qualified than Seamus O’Regan, Dan Vandel the Parliamentary Secretary who served under Minister Philpott.  Vandel has the experience in the Indigenous Services portfolio and also has worked with First Nations communities in Winnipeg.  Trudeau makes that one move and quite possibly Trudeau and PMO only has to worry about the Mark Norman Case where it’s expected Brison will be called to testify.

The 400 words above make sense if the following doesn’t happen.  SNC Lavalin had not spent years lobbying for a deferred prosecution agreement to avoid a criminal trial. A remediation clause for the criminal code wasn’t buried in a budget omnibus bill.  The allegations of PMO putting pressure of Wilson-Raybould were not published by the Globe and Mail. The Standing Committee on Justice was not a sideshow circus of a committee meeting, and as of today (February 18, 2019) Gerald Butts, Principal Secretary for the Prime Minister would not have resigned. Unfortunately all these events did take place, and the Prime Minister shuffled four Ministers to cover one resignation.  In the space of ten days, Minister Wilson-Raybould  resigned from Cabinet, Trudeau has told three versions of the reasons for the Wilson-Raybould move to VAC; The Ethic Commissioner announced an examination of the SNC Lavalin persuasion allegations and Liberals controlled the Special Justice Committee agenda.

Welcome to the Brison Effect. #BlameBrison

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&  @rdmediaottawaand on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

Save the Dates

The New Year is a clean slate, nothing held over from the previous 365 days. It begs the question, what is coming our way that we should be bookmarking as key milestones this year?

February 2019: 4 Federal By-elections will be called for February 2019,   there should be 5 by-elections called this month, the Quebec riding of St. Leonard – St Michel has not been represented in the house for month. The only reason for it not being called is that it will be officially vacated January 22nd, nine months before the next general elections, by Liberal MP Nicola Di Iorio. The Prime Minister is not obliged to call a by-election for a riding that is vacant 9 months or less before the next general election.  The by-election all of Canada will be watching is Burnaby South BC, it’s where NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh will be tagging his hopes to win a seat in the House of Commons. Early prognications are not good for Singh.  If he loses what happens to the NDP under his leadership? Other ridings up for grabs are York Simcoe, formerly held by Conservative Peter Van Loan, Outremont which was the home of former NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair and a second in BC, Nanaimo Ladysmith vacated by NDP MP Sheila Malcolmson to run in the same riding in a provincial by-election. At the time of writing this, no date had been announced by the Prime Minister for byelections.

October 21, 2019: This will go one way or another, you either support the government or you don’t and plan to vote that way.  The subtext of this election is more interesting and diverse.  Is Trudeau doing well?  Is he not?  It has not been a smooth four years.  Two key promises have been broken; despite what Trudeau said, this election WILL be decided under ‘first past the post’ and rather than small meaningful deficits and a one balanced budget there will be huge deficits and no balanced budget for 40 years. Will Justin Trudeau remain a one-term Prime Minister because of these broken promises or will he hold on in spite of them?  As MP’s get set to return to Ottawa the polls are close between the Liberals and Andrew Scheer and the Conservatives, this will be an important session for both as leaders will need to score “points” if they want to be Prime Minister. As the election gets close, has the anti-Harper vote been eclipsed but the “I voted Liberal, but didn’t vote for this” vote? 

March/April 2019: Ontario 2019 Budget will be the first budget from Doug Ford and will build on the November Fall economic statement delivered by Finance Minister Vic Fedeli.  The new Ontario government made may promises about reducing the debt and being responsble in spending.  This budget could be influenced by the promised line by line audit of government spending.  The Ford government has already announced cuts in programs that were brought in under Kathleen Wynne.  Notable were announcements include the end of the Gauarranteed income project, pausing the Francophone University spending and freezing the minimum wage at $14/hour. What Minister Fedeli will introduce will likely shock the NDP and Liberals, but it shouldn’t – the Ontario PC’s campaigned on reversing the out of control spending of the Wynne government.

Before or on May 31, 2019: The Alberta Provincial Election outcome seems to be pre-determined.  A NDP government elected four years ago was a blip on the Albertan polictical scene. It happened because the Alberta PC was too comfortable, an outcome that many governments have had to face.  Under a new leader and a new banner, Jason Kenney and the United Conservative Party seem primed to wrestle the reigns of power back from the NDP.   The lone question may be, what capital has Premier Notley earned in her defense of building pipelines and moving Alberta crude to market?  What kind of election result will that give the Alberta NDP? June 1stor the day after the election will be a pivotal day for not only Alberta, but also Canada, Justin Trudeau’s Canada.  With a likely victory by the UCP, Alberta will become the 5thprovince to opt out of the Pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change, and eliminate the provincial carbon tax.

Mark the dates on your calendar and watch the events unfold.

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&  @rdmediaottawaand on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net