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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

My year in Pages – Part I

I made a promise to read more, at least an hour a day.  I was able to keep this promise most days, so it was not a complete failure.  I always, with the exception of the weeks I was busy on the election, had a book on the coffee table that I had was in the process of reading.

The result of that promise was that I read 15 books, more than double the 7 books I read in 2018. I’ve written about some of the books I have read, and where I have, I’ll include the links for the complete review.  In the order I read the books, here is is my 2019 in pages.  Part I consists of books I read from January to June.

Takedown: The attempted political assassination of Patrick Brown by Patrick Brown (2018)

I knew the players; I saw it unfold on TV and in the news.  It was a sad thing that happened to a man that likely would have become the premier of Ontario.  There are many loose ends to this made in Ontario political thriller that have yet to be heard.

Gatekeepers by Chris Whipple (2017)

The most interesting political book I read all year and is a timely read considering how challenging being the Chief of Staff for Donald Trump could be.  This book is about leadership, good leadership and bad leadership and how there should always be at least one person who is there to steer Presidents, Prime Ministers and Political leaders.  Whipple profiles White House administrations going back to Gerald Ford. The gatekeepers is an intriguing read that puts a few of history’s most crucial moments in a new perspective for the reader. https://redheartbluesign.wordpress.com/2019/01/20/the-gatekeepers

Shakey by Neil Young (2002)

I had a false start on reading this in 2018, I had to put it away a for a few months before I could start over and really enjoy this.  Is there anything Neil can’t do? Reading this almost 20 year after it was published, everything he has accomplished was on his terms. I think about everything that was NOT in this book.  I might have to find a recent memoir to catch up on Neil. https://redheartbluesign.wordpress.com/2019/03/31/neil-and-randy-the-winnipeggers

How the Scots Invented Canada by Ken McGoogan (2010)

I borrowed this after seeing it in the office of a Senator.  I’ll leave it at that, you can read the review here: https://redheartbluesign.wordpress.com/2019/04/07/dont-tell-the-irish-the-scots-invented-canada

The Girl in the Spider Web by David Lagercrantz (2015)

This sat in my shelf for a couple of years before I opened it up, my inspiration as wo have read it before I watched not one, but two movies based on the book.  The Swedish film version was heads better that the English version that featured Claire Hoy (The Crown) as Lisbeth. The book however was fabulous and generated much more page turning excitement than either of the movies did.  Lagercrantz does the Stieg Larsson’s franchise well with this.

Open Look by Jay Triano (2018)

I was intrigued by One Look based solely on the success that the Toronto Raptors were having last season.  Like any good sports book, it really isn’t about the sport.  It’s about how a person gets into the sport and how the sport teaches how to overcome adversity, but it still has a lot about basketball in it. https://redheartbluesign.wordpress.com/2019/04/30/hoop-dreams-open-look-by-jay-triano

Tales beyond the Tap by Randy Bachman (2015)

I paired this book up with Neil Young’s Shakey in a post about the two famous Winnipeggers. There is a dogged determination in everything that Bachman has tackled and succeeded at.  He should go down as one of Canada’s greatest musical mentors.

The Effective Citizen: How to make politicians work for you by Graham Steele (2017)

We became aware of this book in Halifax during the Conservative Party of Canada convention in 2018.  I have written more about this book in a previous post, but the synopsis is this:  If you want to get involved in the democratic process in Canada and any level of government you must be smart and methodical about it.  This book is a lesson for politicians and their staff who disregard the voice of the voter AND it’s a “how to book” on working with local representatives, Ministers, Shadow Ministers and their staff.  This book along with “Gatekeepers” were the most informative books I read in all pf 2018.

Independence Day by Ben Coes (2015)

Good fun paging turning fiction.  It has spies, espionage, and lots of international deceitful action that gets fixed by the end of the book.

Part 2 will be posted next week, thanks for reading Part 1.

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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

The Walrus Talks: Living Better

the WalrusWe recently attended another in a series of “The Walrus Talks” sessions with the theme of “Living Better”.  The sessions are put together by the Walrus Magazine and Concordia University.  On the most recent talk 7 speakers talked about living better from their personal, business, social or scientific perspectives.

Living better was presented though our identity, song, low tech social media, loss, babies and architecture.  Because of the lack of space and to keep the word count down to keep you the reader engaged here are thoughts on the speakers that left the greatest impression on me. Where there was info available I have included some Twitter ID so you might look further into the speakers I have for you.

Our individual Urban Community is recognized as a core to our living better; presented by architect Donald Schmidt, it discussed the science, politics and culture of how we live now.  Exploring Ottawa’s architecture he gave 6 examples of  buildings that bring better living to Ottawa; his list of six included the recent renovations of the National Arts Centre, The Ottawa Train Station, educational institutions uOttawa and Algonquin College, the Science and Tech Museum and the last of the six, but the one with the greatest potential – the new Ottawa Public Library and National Archives building that will rise in Lebreton Flats.

Going straight for the heart, Christa Couture, writer and broadcaster (Twitter ID @christacouture), brought the idea that personal loss can bring a ‘living better’ quality to our lives.  In loss we often think and hope about life getting better, Couture made us think that sometimes life cannot get better, but that life can be different. Different is an alternative to better that sometimes we need to embrace.  Different gives us all a grounded hope, not for better but for different – an alternative to live better.

With enhancements to how we communicate, it was enlightening to hear Nanveet Alang (@navalang) talk about how we can dial back technology. Tech is essential in today’s world but finding the human in technology allows everyone to make decisions that are our decisions, not technology’s or social media’s.  Two options we have to give us the ‘opt in’ decision are the online group chat rooms. The earliest of these group chats was launched in 1983, a very adopter of social media, but the ideas often stayed in the group forums.  In today’s social media, people’s thoughts are too often public, when they should be kept private.  His second roll back in tech communications is the newsletter, they used to be delivered by email.  The newsletter gives us the human reaction od deciding to opt in to receive a newsletter.  Too often, by simply purchasing something we are automatically part of an email group and added to a newsletter distribution – the opt out is something that should part of history. Alang publishes his own newsletter, The Purposeful Object and is available for subscription at buttondown.email/TPO.

Finally, how about a song to celebrate living better? Sean McCann (@seanmccannsings), former member of Great Big Sea described his days post-alcohol through his song “Stronger” – how now being stronger he is living better.  Have a listen: https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=sean+mccann+youtube+stronger&&view=detail&mid=768E994AC200C8ED1B97768E994AC200C8ED1B97&&FORM=VRDGAR

Of course, we all make decisions on our personal ways for living better, listening to the others provides insight and perspectives how our community and personal experiences play a part in us living better – if we choose to.

NOTE: For more of The Walrus Talks: Living Better, visit their You Tube Channel for all the speakers of this event and other talks, https://www.youtube.com/user/walrustelevision.

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

My #elxn43 – Day 8

Debate 2I have titled this post as “To debate or not debate, that’s the question” or “Let’s have a debate about election debates”.

Do they work if the only people that attend have already made up their minds on how they will vote?  Let’s be honest, candidates stack a room – they try to fill a room with their supporters so it seems that they are winning the debate. Stacking a room with with people that know who they are voting for does absolutely nothing of which a debate should do – help the undecided decide.

I know debates are part of our democratic process, There is always the decision of whether to attend ot not. Debates are meant to inform the voter and they do; but no a day they inform voters about personaity.  Sometimes as we’ve seen demonstrated in the recent National Leader’s Debates, not much can be heard above the the voices that converge together so not one word can be heard.

I have fought my inner demons on whether to send a candidate to attend or not.  I have kept a candidate from a debate and sent candidates into debates where maybe I should not have. In this election the decision was always to attend and that’s because, and I use the GreenPac 100 Debates on the environment  as the example, we have an plan/platform/commitment  we stand behind and feel is 100% right.  I believe that the Conservative plan for protecting the enivronment was solid and that we couldn’t NOT debate it, what’s the message that conveys?

Here is the BIG problem with debates. How do you possibly fill a room with only the “undecided” voters, when the room is filled with supporters of each colour? Do you have people swear an oath that they are ‘undecided’ before they walk in to the room?  Should these debates take the partisanship out of the room?  This election the GreenPac/Environment debate was the best organized ‘single issue’ debate I have seen.

The question always remains how many debates are too many?  Some area’s only have one, while others have upwards of 10+ debates.  In this 42 day election, dedicating  up to 40 hours of prime door to door canvas time to debates is a very questionable use of ANY candidate’s time- if a candidate denies it, they are lying, especially if it’s a one time, one night debate never to be seen by anyone, except those that attended.  In fact these single issue debates will be tilted towards one point of view and there is no sense in any candidate appearing if they are on the opposite side of the organizers POV.

Is the solution TV?  Local community TV seems to have this down to a fine art.  In my experience with Rogers TV in Ottawa, each of the area ridings tapes a debate in english and in some are in french and then broadcast several times in the weeks leading up to election day.  In Barrie-Innisfil Rogers TV live streamed and then rebroadcast two debates; the GreenPac Environment and the Barrie Chamber of Commerce Debates.  These rebroadcast debates are possibly the best option for ANY undecided voter who needs to hear their local candidates.

Justin Trudeau thought he solved the debate question when he created the National Leaders Debate Commission, sadly he didn’t account for MacLeans/CityTV and the Munk Debates as being an important part of the Leader’s Debate tour in this year’s election.  While he has every right to say no, one english langauage debate is surely not enough for voters.  Allow me to go on a bit more by adding that having debates that are scheduled to start during the afternoon rush hour home in BC, Alberta and Saskatewan is an insult to Western Canadians.  Let’s hope that in the next election the Debate Commission allows for two english debates, one held in Central/Eastern Canada and a Western provice based debate.

There, I’ve had my say on debates…what do you think?

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

My #elxn43 – Days 32 to 28

I took a little bit of a breather from campaign life and headed back to Ottawa for four days.  If I have any illusions of being able to leave the campaign office behind they were shattered quickly. I knew it would be the case, so reality is that the illusion was only a passing thought.  I spent a fair bit of time on the phone and on email, campaigns don’t stop for anyone. I am extremely lucky that Liz was patient with me and gave me the time I needed when were didn’t go shopping or out for a walk.

I finished reading John Ivvision’s Trudeau.  It brought no surprises to me, but provided background of JT that wasn’t widely known but did reinforce the reasons why people need to reconsider their vote for Justin Trudeau.  It also reinforced the idea that there are two JT’s and that the private JT is nothing like the political one, especially if you cross him politically. Trudeau booksI know there is a second book on Justin that was published this fall, Promise and Peril; that could be something to read after the election.  But I have also started to read The Kings War, sequel to The Kings Speech, I can’t tell you enough how much I love reading history, history that has an impact on our recent history, the last 75 to 100 years.  From the early pages, The Kings War  will be a good quick read.

Part of my motivation to come home for the weekend (besides to see Liz) was to help celebrate the retirement of a friend.  It was good party and I was happy that I was able to make it.  I lost the “How much do you know Jim” trivia contest but I gave him some advice for his retirement, to visit the only province he has yet to travel to, “The home province of Canada’s next Prime Minister, Saskatchewan”.

Have many of you decided to vote early? You have two options, there is advance poll weekend October 11thto 14th and you can vote by special ballot at your local Returning Office from now until the end Tuesday October 15th. Liz and voted last  weekend as we will not be in Ottawa for election day or the advance polls, in fact I don’t expect to return to Ottawa until the weekend that follows election day.  It was fast and and easy to do.  I know that my vote might the last to be counted and while it will eventually be counted it will only be opened in a rush on election if the count is close and if a recount is required.  To find your riding returning office click here Elections

One last thing, we rode the Ottawa #LRT!  I took the train from the VIA station home when I arrived Thursday.  I don’t know if its called the LRT or the O Train, but it was kinda exciting to ride the rails in Ottawa. We decided to take the extended family on a ride on the train just to give the kids a thrill.  The kids decided where we would sit, unfortunately for one young person it was near them.  I didn’t blame them for moving, I think she moved to a differnet car altogether.

Monday came and it was back to the campaign, I travelled my own version of Planes, Trains and Automobiles (buses) – without the ‘pillows’ and made it back in plenty of time for the official campaign launch (watch the CTV Barrie video of the event  https://barrie.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=1787474)

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 athttp://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

My #elxn43 – Day 47

Reading will be my salvation this campaign.

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The days will be long and by Election Day I may be arriving at the campaign office in the dark and leaving long after sunset.  I have an amibtious reading list for this campaign period and it which will require a great deal of dedictation to complete.  The readng list is part of my plan to decompress from the pressure, stress and activity of the campaign.

Here is what I will be reading:

Trudeau by John Ivison

The King’s War by Peter Conradi and Mark Logue

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

Right Here Right Now by Stephen Harper

The Making of the October Crisis by D’Arcy Jenish

I’ve started with Ivison’s take on Trudeau.  While this might not be a complementary account on JT it is scewed to my current opinion of him and how he has performed as a Prime Minister.   ‘The King’s War’ is a follow up to the Kings Speech, which won a few Oscar’s including Best Picture, Director and Actor in 2011. Mark Logue the co-author is the grandson of Lionle Logue, the therapist that work with King George to avoid stuttering as portrayed in the King’s Speech.

I picked up ‘A Gentleman in Moscow’ because of the premise of the story; a Russian Count is ordered to house arrest in an apartment in Moscow by the Bolshevic tribunal for wrtting a poem with revolustionary undertones.

I’ve had Stephen Harper’s book for a while, this just seemed like a good time to read it.  My Sister-in-law sent me ‘The Making of the October Crisis’ after she had read it.  I was aware of the October 1970 crisis as a 10 year, this book goes back to the beginnings and Montreal in the early 1960’s.  Like other books I’ve read I find its important to understand what fueled a crisis as a means to prevent a repeat.

I’m going to have to complete a book in just over a week to return to Ottawa with these five books completed. Clearly some days will have more reading time than others, I’ll have to grab whatever time comes my way to be successful and hope what I’ve brought to Barrie with me are real page turners.

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

Ottawa Jazzfest: Chicago

Chicago Isle of Wight

This photo is from the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival, and appears on the cover of the 2 LP set

It was a perfect Chicago evening, a breeze cooled the air as thousands filled every available square foot of real estate of Marion Dewar Plaza.  Liz and I brought chairs but didn’t sit in them during the show as there was a section of people standing on the cement pad which would have blocked us from seeing the band if se sat down.  I didn’t mind the standing, it was was worth it standing to see the band.

The original Chicago Transit Authority was repped by James Pankow (keyboards and vocals), Robert Lamm (Trombone) and Lee Loughnane (Trumpet, Flute and Vocals). Since the death Terry Kath there has been a many musicians that have called Chicago ‘home’.  Canadian Neil Donnel, the latest lead vocalist,  performed most of the vocals that were primarily sung by original Chicagoan Peter Cetera and later by Bill Champain in the David Foster era of hits such as “You’re the Inspiration”, “Hard to Say I’m Sorry”, “Look Away” and “Hard Habit to Break”.  It’s almost like the band looks for singers that can emulate that classic Cetera vocal style.

For the most part this was a hit laden concert, the horns figured prominently (as they should) musically and physically as Lamm, Loughnane and Larry Klimas (who has toured with the band since 2003) took centre stage through out the entire show.  Watching James Pankow weld his trombone like a guitar around the stage it shows that he along with the other originals still enjoy hitting the road.  This year marks 52 years of touring, Pankow (72 years old), Loughnane (73) and Lamm (75) don’t show signs of slowing down.  An extended percussion performance from the duo of Walter Reyes Jr. and Ramon Yslas as entertaining as it was, clearly was meant to give the band a break before the final stretch of the concert.

Musically the band hit most of the songs those attending wanted to hear including ‘Just You and Me’, the encore of ‘24 or 6 to 4’ a rousing ‘Saturday in the Park’, the previously mentioned David Foster hits and a fabulous “I’m am Man” and an amazing ‘Old Days’, one of the personal favourites from the band.

The concert as good as it was, was technically poor, some vocals were hard to hear, the video work was below par and the blending of camera shots on the screen was non-existent.

From this concert I went and purchased the 2018 release of the two LP set of Chicago at the Isle of Wight Music Festival.  Performed in August of 1970, included on the album were 5 songs performed in June of 2019 – including ‘Beginnings’, ‘I’m a man’ and ‘Does anyone really know what time it is’.  This weeks performance of ‘Does anyone really know what time it is’ was amazing; the opening horns of the the song brought everyone to their feet!

I’ll rate Chicago at Ottawa Jazzfest as 8 out of ten, 2 points lost because of technical shortfalls.

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 athttp://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net