Category Archives: Uncategorized

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

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:

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,

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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?

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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

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My #elxn43 – Day 47

Reading will be my salvation this campaign.


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 at  If you prefer email, please contact me at

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 at  If you prefer email, please contact me at

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

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In Remembrance

The Immortal Jukebox

In 1914 they came from the hamlets and the villages and the towns and the cities.

They came from the hills and the mountains and the valleys.

Farmers and miners.

Teachers and doctors.

White, Brown and Black.

They  marched away from Home with smiles on their faces.

They knew they would be Home again soon.

Today it is exactly 100 years since the guns fell silent ending World War One.

The emotional, spiritual, pyschic and cultural cost of such a war is beyond all human calculation.

A cataclysm shattering hearts and minds.

Shattering philosophies and faiths.

Shattering nations and societies.

Shattering hopes and dreams.

Shattering comfortable certainties..

The toll in terms of deaths and casualties we can, in awe, to some extent number.

From Australia : Lieutenant Joseph Balfe from Brunswick aged 25 and more than 62, 000 of his comrades.

From Canada : Private Percy Bark aged 18 and…

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