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Where are you now: The return of Michelle Branch

Hopeless Romantic

There are not many artists that I keep watching for, for the release of new music. From the 60’s I always have an interest in what Paul McCartney is putting out or if there is something new coming from the vaults of Abbey Road and EMI Studios with the Beatles, the face of the 70’s will always be Elton John and I’ll always have an eye and ear out for anything new he produces.

At the turn of the century there was a burst of new female singer-songwriters. Of the new breed hitting the charts, names like Vanessa Carleton, Avril Lavinge, Ashley Simpson all had opportunity to have long rewarding careers. In that mix is the new singers was Michelle Branch who release The Spirit Room spawned hits like “Everywhere”, “All You Wanted” and “Goodbye to You” The Spirit Room also had very strong inventory of album cuts. The Spirit Room was followed two years later in 2003 with Paper Hotel with hits like “Breathe” and “Are You Happy Now”. Like The Spirit Room, Hotel Paper was also stacked with great album tracks like “Where are you now” and “Find Your Way Back”.

And then that was pretty well it.

There was a collaboration that became The Wreckers’ Stand Still and Look Pretty in 2005 and an EP Everything Comes and Goes (2010) that got my hopes up for something new. New music almost came with the single “Loud Music” that was released before a full set called West Coast Music was due to be released but was ultimately shelved. I recall listening the webcast of a Q & A with Michelle that preceded the audio premiere playing of “Loud Music”. If not for online music services, that song would be buried along with the other 10-12 tracks that might have been part of that album.

The escapade that she went through with her record label has been recalled many times leading up to the new tapes coming out.

My excitement has peaked since a new collection of songs; Hopeless Romantic is set to come out April 7th.  Three songs have been pre-released; “The Best You Ever”, “Fault Line” and the title track. There is no chance now that we’ll have what happened to West Coast Music will take place with Hopeless Romantic and I could not be happier. This weekend I shuffled the three new tracks with her previous music. Not only did they stand up to The Spirit Room and Hotel Paper, they stood miles apart.

I do not think any musician would recommend waiting 14 years to release a full set of new music. In the case of Michelle Branch, working on new music for those years, a divorce and raising a daughter has given a whole new world for her capture in song. I don’t want to wait another 14 years for more from her, I might look silly as a 70 year old standing in line at the record shop to purchase it.

All I know is that April 7th, will be a great day! I will be sure to post a review Hopeless Romantic for #RedHeartBlueSign once I pry myself away from listening to the disc on repeat.

I am Happy 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 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 I can be reached at

Chuck Berry RIP : Hail, Hail, Rock ‘n’ Roll!

The Rock ‘n Roll world lost its pioneer this weekend, Chuck Berry died at the age of 90. The Immortal Jukebox does a good look back of Rock ‘ n Roll’s original .

The Immortal Jukebox

Chuck Berry has died. May he rest in peace.

I will write an extensive tribute later.

He was a Founding Father of Rock ‘n’ Roll.

He was a Rock ‘n’ Roll Prophet and The Rock ‘n’ Roll Poet.

He was a writer with the immediate understanding of a top class journalist, the widescreen vision of an historian and the timing of a comedian on the stage.

He is one of the greatest chroniclers of American Life.

Hail, Hail, Hail Chuck Berry!

Here he is with a special favourite of mine, ‘School Days’

‘Up in the mornin’ and out to school
The teacher is teachin’ the Golden Rule
American history and practical math
You study’ em hard and hopin’ to pass
Workin’ your fingers right down to the bone
And the guy behind you won’t leave you alone

Ring ring goes the bell
The cook in the lunchroom’s ready to sell

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Canadians in a Digital World

Canadian Heritage recently released a report “Canadian Culture in a Digital World” ( following consultations on how to strengthen the creation, discovery and export of Canadian content in the digital world. That report and a second report published by the Public Policy Forum’s “Shattered Mirror Report – News, Democracy and Trust in the Digital Age” hope to shape what Canadian digital content will look like and how it can be sustainable and come out from the shadows on Facebook, Google and other existing and emerging digital platforms.

Broken Link

Who is a Canadian digital creator? What Canadians are driving online content?

Most who venture onto YouTube will know of Casey Neistat, with over 6.6 million subscribers, he is the world’s most famous “YouTuber”. There are Canadian YouTubers producing interesting digital content to be watched and the annual YouTube festival “BufferFest” was created by a Canadian and is held in Toronto. Bufferfest brings hundreds of digital creators from across Canada and around the world to premiere creative digital content AND thousands of fans from around North America. Bufferfest is the #Oscars of the YouTube/Digital world.

BlogTO, a Toronto based blog listed the 10 most popular personalities in Toronto – I am not huge fans of the crazy YouTube creators, but enjoy good creative content that I can’t find on regular platforms. One of my favourite Canadian digital content creators is Bradley Friesen who takes his viewers over the BC Mountains via his helicopter. His uploads of winter camping in a snow cave and ice hockey on a remote frozen lake has incredible views of Canadian mountain landscapes and he brings this every week to your handheld of desktop screen. He has seen success on the YouTube platform as his subscriber base has grown to over 200,000. For every one YouTube creator that has the success of a Bradley Friesen there are thousands of creators who have very few subscribers, and who revel in the ‘hundreds of views’ that their videos may attract. In Canada they create content with dreams of attaining a small portion of the subscriber success that only a few reach.

Both reports talk about money that is leaving Canada for platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Google and Netflix. Coming out of the flow of money leaving Canada has been the notion that one government or another would institute a “Netflix Tax”, a tax not limited to Netflix but aimed by the Canadian government to recapture a portion of the money in advertising and subscriber fees that leave Canada and land in the US in places like Facebook or Google.

The missing link in the conversation for those that advocate strongly for the Netflix or Internet Tax is that the Canada Media Fund, which provides creators with money for projects, is out millions of dollars through this money that does not pass through Canadian hands. I am not pushing for the Netflix tax, but the same creators the decry who decry the tax must have to wonder, ‘where will creators expect to be funded if there if the pot is empty?’

You Tube

We can discuss monetization, the method in which YouTube video creators are paid, but to make a substantial amount this way almost every video posted would have to be a viral success – a success that requires months and years of building a subscriber base. There are not many that can build a base through one endorsement from a Casey Neistat, not everyone can become a Sara Dietschy or diSCIpling Recovery who after an endorsement from Casey will see subscriptions skyrocket. Let me add that those endorsements do not come easily – you better be damned good and have interesting content to get the Neistat seal of approval.

The problem remains how does Canada fund new digital creators? How will Canada grab a portion of the money leaving Canada that could lead to a thriving digital community of creators? Is the answer a Canadian platform version of YouTube, think of a CanTube, a place for Canadian digital creators won’t get suffocated in the millions of creators from around the world and a place where Canadian media/Producers can discover new imaginative and challenging digital content creators for larger platforms?

The Canadian government will be presenting legislation or a direction this spring for a new digital creative centric system based out of the #DigiCanCon consultation report. Many will say it falls short, many will say it is too restrictive and there will many that object to any sort of funding model that resembles the CBC.

It seems like it might be a lose-lose outcome when it should be a win-win.

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 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 I can be reached at

If you could give a TED Talk (what would it be about)


Have you ever watched one or many TED Talks on YouTube? Have you been to a live TED Talk?

Have you thought to yourself, how do I get into one of those to even give a TED Talk?


Really? What would you give a TED Talk on? Is there a topic you know you could fill for ten to twelve minutes and keep everyone’s attention during that time?

I have not been watching TED Talks for long, I only subscribed a few months ago. I have a few favourites. But it did get me thinking, if I was asked to give a Ted Talk, what could I fill 12 minutes on?

While I consider that question here are a few  I have recently enjoyed watching:

“Meet the inventor of the online spreadsheet.” Nerds will love this Ted Talk, even non-nerds will find this interesting, and it just proves that anyone who is inquisitive can make a change that impacts the world. Who knew a Texas Instrument calculator could be so inspiring.

“How to get better at the things you care about.”

“How to have better political conversations.”

“How online abuse of woman has spiraled out of control.” It was difficult listening to Ashley Judd recite some of the most hateful comments a person could throw at her, it confounds me that people can be so mean. How do some have the energy to hate so much? I don’t think standing there saying what people think of me (in that way) is something I can do. My TED talk would have to be of a lighter topic.

“What I learned from 100 day of rejection.” This is a favourite, it has humour and a message, and it is so good that Jia Jiang has given this talk or versions of it many times in many different Ted Talks venues.

In fact, googling Ted Talks with the author of the talk reveals that if it’s a good one, you can go places – many places where ever a TED Talk talks place. In Ottawa there have been TEDx talks…for those like me who try to discern the different between a TED and TEDx talk – TEDx are independent TED Talks


Consider this, you are asked to give a TED Talk, what is your strength? What is your passion? What are your loves? How do you use those strengths, passions and loves in your life? Do they help you? Do they help you help others or do your strengths just help you get through the day (there is nothing wrong with that)?

When I think of the above I would probably talk about public service. Not your public service that many would call getting elected. I think about the type public service that others would not expect. For me it is coaching a baseball team, volunteering to lead a scout of girl guides camp service on a Community Association and flipping pancakes at a church breakfast. I have done all those things, these were the things that I believe led me to my public service and ultimately lead to my decisions to run for elected office three times. I was never elected, but that does not define me. What defines me is my early public service starting with leading a Youth Group in Church or coaching a baseball team at 16 and even giving a sermon in church (yes I have done this).

These things remind me that at one time I took chances, chances that paid off. 40 years (yikes!) later from coaching baseball I draw back to doing these without doubting myself or being afraid of what other people will think.

I guess I could fill twelve minutes with that.

What about you? If you were asked to give a TED Talk what would it be about?

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 for what I see, hear and read.

I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at I can be reached at


Sanctuary! Sanctuary?


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 for what I see, hear and read.

I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at I can be reached at


Can Ottawa save Elgin Street?


The second public open house for the Elgin Street and Hawthorne Avenue Functional Redesign Study was held at City Hall on January 11th. The design plans presented will likely have a few minor revisions, but what I saw looks to be a final design with City Council approval in 2018 with construction starting in 2019.

The new Elgin Street is going from 4 to 2 lanes. Will this save Elgin Street?  As I heard it, the design is aimed to ‘naturally’ slow traffic on that segment to as low as 30 km/hr. How does the City intend to do it? It will attempt to do that with raised intersections (imagine a very big speed bump), much less parking, widened sidewalks in some parts and finally by using a bus! Yep, the City will use OC Transpo buses on Routes 5 and 14 that travel Elgin to slow down traffic while dropping of and picking up passengers.

Sidewalks may or may not be widened; it just depends where you might be standing on Elgin. Widening that does happen will occur in a ‘flex space’. These spots will not only be a wider sidewalk, but will also double as a space used for parking, deliveries, patios and other uses the City may wish to experiment with. How do you identify these spaces? Flex spaces will be raised from street level and will look like the sidewalks with the use of interlocking stones.

Perhaps the largest impediments to a wider sidewalk are the overhead wires. Replacing large hydro poles from the sidewalks with smaller street lamp poles removes some of the barriers. Elgin Street, under a 2011 policy can bury the wires, whether the city has the will and the cash to do it is another story. This is one item that should be done to improve the street as it will have the largest impact. The estimated cost of $6M – $8M can be found by cutting the raised intersections, interlocking brick and other cosmetic touches. Cutting these design aspects also eliminates the need for a local levy paid by Somerset Ward residents to have the wires places underground. Placing the idea of burying the overhead wires at the top of Elgin’s priorities allows the city to include trees (which made the public’s top five ‘good to have’ items) into the design without any fears of how the tree canopy would be affected with the wires still overhead.

The new look of Elgin is loosely based on ‘complete streets’, where all vehicles can travel safely. When redesigning Elgin was first talked about, I am sure that the cycling facilities as they were shown were not what were expected. In fact, the new design has no new cycling facilities. The facilities being by proposed by the city amount to cyclists continuing to share the road with cars, trucks and buses. No segregated lanes, no painted lanes. Based on comments from cyclists at the meeting, cyclists expected more. In their eyes, Elgin is not any safer for cyclists as they continue to compete with all vehicles. Cyclists indicated they would detour off Elgin to Cartier Ave.

Everyone knew that parking would be reduced; in the end parking on Elgin will be cut by 50% to 61 spots. There is concern that less parking will hurt business, but with the reduction at only 10% on the areas one block away from Elgin, the availability of cheap indoor parking at City Hall (after 6pm M-F and all day Sat/Sun) can make that up and during the winter months make parking easier. Peak period parking restrictions are also being removed on the street.

So after all that, here are my suggestions for a better Elgin Street, for the future and not the present. The City needs to make burying the overhead wires a top priority. Second, install free WiFi along Elgin Street, others cities have free hotspots, why not Ottawa and why not on Elgin? Next, to encourage use of Electric Vehicles utilize two of the new flex spaces as “green plated car” spaces for an EV charging station – one facing each direction of the street. Fourth, remove all buses Elgin Street. The Campus LRT station can accommodate some transit users and Metcalfe, O’Conner and Bank Streets can accommodate the north and south bound travel of bus routes. Finally, compromise on the width of sidewalks and create a bike lane in each direction.

In the end maybe the changes from the City will give it slower and less vehicular traffic, but will it save Elgin Street?

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 for what I see, hear and read.

I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at I can be reached at

Hopes, Aspirations & Dreams of 2017



2017, it is finally here, though many would have been happy to see 2017 arrive in October of last year. To begin the year here is a list of my hopes, aspirations and dreams for the coming 12 months.

I have been waiting a few years now for new music from Michelle Branch, though rumoured for sometime, she recently tweeted out that we could expect something new in 2017. She is listed in Entertainment Weekly’s list of anticipated music for 2017. Also, I can’t wait for the follow up disc by Ryan Adams after his version of Taylor Swift’s ‘1989’ last year (which I loved as much as TS’s). His new Lp ‘Prisoner’ comes out early 2017.

I am also keenly interested in sophomore releases from Lorde, Haim and The Chainsmokers in this, a year where Taylor Swift isn’t scheduled to drop any new music. I am holding out hope that the new John Mayer disc will sparkle. Here is what EW complied for music we just can’t wait to listen to,

The Grey Cup comes to Ottawa in November, wouldn’t it be sweet to see the Ottawa Redblacks make three straight Cup appearances and repeat as champs?

Still on sports, here’s dreaming that the Ottawa Senators can go deep in the playoffs in 2017 just as the Redblacks did the past two years, the Ottawa Champions did (and won) last summer and the Ottawa Fury FC accomplished in 2015.

After going 4-1 in By-election wins since Patrick Brown became leader of Ontario PC Party, he will the opportunity to increase that to five wins now that former Liberal Minister David Orazietti resigned as MPP for Sault Ste Marie on December 31st. Whether there will be other provincial by-elections is yet to be seen as others in the Liberal government weigh their options leading up to the 2018 Ontario General Elections.

There will finally be one Conservative standing the in party’s leadership race come May, hopefully the party will stand behind whoever he or she may be after the convention. I still have no clue of who will replace Rona Ambrose in the House of Commons as the Leader of the Opposition. The NDP race becomes more interesting now that calendars have flipped from 2016 to 2017, we might shortly have the first declared candidate for Mulcair’s chair.

Finally, I aspire that we can all get along while having our differences. I hope days of populist chants and unresearched claims and inaccurate accusations will be left behind. We all should be better informed and read past the click bait headlines on social media. This is the only way we can have healthy debates about the issues our leaders face in coming 12 months.

Maybe just maybe I will finally get around to posting a vlog.

What are you looking forward to in 2017?

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 for what I see, hear and read.

I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at I can be reached at