The first shot has been fired

Ottawa Votes

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. You can also see me on www.redheartbluelife.wordpress.com where I am celebrating #Canada150 with a daily post of an event celebrating our sesquicentennial in Canada.

Book Review – “Himself” by Jess Kidd

himself-9781501145179_hr

“a read out of ‘time’ and ‘place’”

I like my books two ways; the quick enjoyable read that leaves you breathless and satisfied. The second is a book that makes me understand the characters, their places, plot placement and personality. It may take longer to finish the book, but the work as a reader that goes into it is just a satisfying. Himself is of the second type of read for me, rereading some passages in Himself allowed me the satisfaction of not putting the book down as the plot lines and timelines converged.

The book is about a boy (Mahoney) and a girl (Orla), the boy is alive and girl sadly is not; the boy is looking for the girl. Set in Ireland in Mulderigg in the 50’s and the 70’s, it’s the hometown of the girl and birthplace of the boy. The shifting narratives of the past, the present, and the past in the present pull you into each time capsule and at times makes you sad that the author has pulled you out – seemly to make sure you don’t know more than you should at that moment. It’s OK though, because as you adjust to the next capsule of time it takes little effort as the reader before you pulled in that as well.

Mahoney sets off a series of spiritual storms as soon as he enters Mulderigg; the spirits take notice of him from his first step out of the cab that delivers him to Kerrigan’s, the local pub. There is a cast of characters in the story, they really are characters as in Himself, Kidd injects colour into the town through those that have lived and will likely die there. The only people that see Mahoney for what he might become, the great disrupter, are those that came to Mulderigg, not by birth, but by choice.  There is Mrs. Cauley, the towns theatre star and Father Quinn, who needs the eccentricities of Mrs. Cauley’s productions for raise money for the parish but would gladly see her and Mahoney run out of his town.

The towns’ folk relish any opportunity to have something more than their daily lives take over their imaginations and their time.   Their lives all travel separate paths until Mahoney comes into town and like a storm approaching, no one can be as prepared as they want to be when it hits. Using the vehicle of an annual theatrical presentation that is the only real fundraising event for the local parish church, Mrs. Cauley initiates and runs her investigation in a manner that would make Agatha Christie proud. Mrs. Cauley is determined to find out how Mahoney’s mother disappeared and by whose hands it happened.

The real charm in the story is how Kidd writes and brings the spirits of the dead alive and gives them a freedom of movement that would make the living envious. The writing was lively and I found myself looking forward to reading the next passage that has Mahoney observing with the spirits. Kidd writes for the spirits in a manner that there are no limits to what or how the ghosts could move around and influence Mahoney, for only Mahoney has the privilege of seeing them.

Himself is a very enjoyable read, it’s an escape in time and into magic where the humans and worldly spirits reside, not always peacefully.

Himself is Jess Kidd’s first novel and if you read her bio on www.jesskidd.com, she also ambitious with her second, third and fourth books all in one stage of composition completion. Himself is available in Canada on March 21, 2017 and is published through Simon and Schuster. Thanks to Simon and Schuster for the opportunity to read and review Himself.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. You can also see me on www.redheartbluelife.wordpress.com for what I see, hear and read.

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

Canadians in a Digital World

Canadian Heritage recently released a report “Canadian Culture in a Digital World” (http://www.canadiancontentconsultations.ca/home) 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 – http://www.blogto.com/arts/2014/10/the_top_10_youtube_personalities_from_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 www.redheartbluelife.wordpress.com where I am celebrating #Canada150 with a daily post of an event celebrating our sesquicentennial in Canada.

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

Is 25% enough for you?

wynne-and-electricity

Illustration from Ontario Wind Resistance (www.ontario-wind-resistance.org)

25%, that’s the answer from Premier Kathleen Wynne and the Ontario Liberals. Mired with a personal approval rating of 11% (as of 01/03/2017) the Premier announced a further reduction in the electricity bills of 17% this summer (after an 8% reduction that was set January 1st) as way to avoid the knives that would cut her and the Liberals out of government in the on 2018 Ontario General election. In the announcement, Wynne also stated that following the summer reduction in rates, increases will be tied to the annual rate of inflation.

Rates are currently frozen between November 1 2016 and May 1 2017 and tradition shows that previously approved rates go up on May 1st. So a question: with a reduction coming in the summer, will the 17% rate reduction have to take in any increase that may come on the first of May?

With this “olive branch” from the government, there are so many questions and so few answers.

I recently attended a meeting about Hydro costs hosted by Nepean-Carleton PC MPP Lisa Macleod; it featured a presentation by Peter Gallant from Wind Concerns Ontario. Mr. Gallant went behind the line items and presented what was represented on each line. There is so much more behind your electricity bill than just a box that says please pay this amount.

It will come as no surprise that your monthly bill is political. Political in such that choices are made in how the bill is written to make it seem that you should feel good about the fees you pay, right down to the final line of your statement indicating how much you saved on electricity because of reductions and time of use savings (I hope that makes you feel better).

Then there are the acronyms! My goodness, the number of acronyms that are used is mind-blowing. LDC, NUG, OPG, RPP, TOU, FIT and MicroFIT, GA, the list goes on.

My take away from the session was that producing hydro is burdened with levels of debt payment and delivery fees. But also that green energy, the McGuinty Green Energy Program, is going to burden Ontario Taxpayers for years as FIT (Feed in Tariff) contracts guarantee fees paid to generators that are up to 6 times more than what we currently pay for its use. The difference, and the bulk of what we pay, lies in the delivery and renewal generation connection charges created to bring in the revenue that time of use electricity rates cannot for the creation of wind and solar energy in Ontario.

The announcement by Wynne and Energy Minister Thibeault is going to push paying for contracts, repairs and expensive energy generation through to the next two generations or more. By only allowing rate of inflation increases for the next four years, debt payments of billions are being delayed, increasing the provincial debt further and increasing debt financing payments closer to the top the expense sheet of the province.

Prior to the announcement from the government, the NDP pledged to cut electricity rates by 30%. No word on how to do it, but just to cut rates by a third.

So now of course, Ontarians want to know how the Brown led PC’s will challenge the Liberals ‘reduce and almost freeze’ plan. MPP Macleod told those at her meeting that there will be a response, but it will be thought out (unlike the NDP plan?) and a workable plan to provide affordable electricity for Ontario.

We’ll have to wait, but I hope that the plan will include a dash reality, acknowledging what path Ontario has been led down by the McGuinty-Wynne Green Energy Coalition.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. You can also see me on www.redheartbluelife.wordpress.com where I am celebrating #Canada150 with a daily post of an event celebrating our sesquicentennial in Canada.

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

 

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

ted

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. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YDvbDiJZpy0

“How to get better at the things you care about.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YKACzIrog24

“How to have better political conversations.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6V6p1tgHfm0

“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.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GSf6nij-SdA

“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. https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=ted+talks+100+days+of+rejection

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

tedx-2

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 www.redheartbluelife.wordpress.com for what I see, hear and read.

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

 

The Grand Rebirth

100-wellington-street-former-us-embassy-united-states

The grand ole lady has great bones, fabulous sight lines and is currently the most eligible address in the Parliamentary Precinct.

Last fall Liz and I took a tour of the old U.S. Embassy. It has been empty since the bunker on Sussex St opened in 1998 and US embassy staff moved in. Since then, there has been enough debate of what lies ahead for the 1932 constructed building. Over the course of a few weeks the doors were open and the people went through the stripped down main and second floors. Even though much had been removed and almost 20 years of neglect had done its damage, you could clearly see the potential and past beauty that once was in place.

Walking through the building you could feel the history and grandeur that once existed.  We lucked out, and our interest caught the attention of one of the Project Managers that day after asking some questions,  we were led behind the ropes into rooms that were not available for the open house.  In the rooms you sense that the walls are just waiting for the moment that restoration begins.  Filled with the natural light of the large windows the rooms require little in additional illumination.  The view of Parliament from what must have been the Ambassador`s office is breathtaking, and any weather, sun or snow would not diminish it.  For a Canadian catching the same views when the building is open again, it will be of the same magnitude of seeing the first fireworks that appear from behind the Peace Tower on Canada Day or making a turn and getting that first glimpse or spray of Niagara Falls or looking up from street level to view the CN Tower.  The significance of the view will not be lost.

The debate of what to do with the building was left to the fate of an online survey, completed after you finished touring the building on tablets on site or at home online. Walking through the building you could  imagine any number of events taking place in any of the rooms,  a wedding, an art show, a live art performance,  a public presentation or an special awards evening.

Fast forward a few months and the survey says…

…based on the responses from 6500 people, the top three suggested uses are:

  • Canada House, for a taste our our diversity
  • A gallery hosting art of national significance
  • An indigeneous centre, highlighting the culture, acheivements and the prominent role of Canada’s Aboriginal Peoples

There were other options but these are the main contenders…or the building could house all three, rotating as needed.

The building,  valued in the ten’s of millions will likely require much more than that for the renovations and building upgrades to turn the building into whatever the government and its project managers decide. It is clear that Canadians have been waiting for the most eligible address in Ottawa to have a new tenant since the Americans moved out. Previous governments had seduced us with plans for a National portrait gallery until the Harper government shelved any plans plans for 100 Wellington.

An announcemnt is expected in “early” 2017. What early means to the government remains to be seen, though considering that it will likely require budget considerations we could hear by March what Trudeau’s plans are.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. You can also see me on www.redheartbluelife.wordpress.com for what I see, hear and read.

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

Sanctuary! Sanctuary?

sanctuary-city

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. You can also see me on www.redheartbluelife.wordpress.com for what I see, hear and read.

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