When did it become legal to do illegal things?

When did it become all right to break the law? When did good intentions become the alibi to commit a crime?

Overdose Prevention Ottawa (OPO) popped up in a park in the Vanier Quarter of Ottawa as a protest to the City’s lack of address in the opioid crisis in the city. The City of Ottawa had been approved for a Safe Injection Site (SIS) and a site in Sandy Hill is being prepared for opening. The OPO was the organizers response to address a need that could not wait until the permanent SIS was open.

The OPO opened without the required permissions – the route the Sandy Hill Community Health Centre completed for the SIS, and it is unlikely they even tried. The politicians and Ottawa Police are playing ping-pong with the issue as calls to the police from area residents are met without any police response. The Police have stated that the owner of the park, the City of Ottawa, must direct the police to take action, clearly there has been no request made from the city. Ottawa By-Law may have been called in but again it is unsure if any tickets were issued. Meanwhile for several hours a day a park, designed for family use, is a spot for illicit drug users.

The opioid crisis is real and needs to be addressed in the serious manner it deserves.

Following the OPO showing up Ottawa Public Health indicated that prior to the opening of the SIS in Sandy Hill, a temporary site would open in the Byward market, not far from where the OPO popped up. Since the OPO pop up site was created to fill a gap until the SIS was open and the prevention of overdose deaths could be addressed immediately, there was every expectation that when the temp site on Clarence St opened we would see OPO fold up.

Nope, they’re still there, without required permissions in the same park that is now is seeing calls from residents to police about addicts on front steps go unanswered.   OPO has indicated they will pop up elsewhere in Ottawa, again without any permits.

What is to happen to the Clarence St. temporary site when the SIS is open? I predict it won’t close. The City, under pressure from OPO will keep it open as a satellite of the Sandy Hill SIS.

When did committing illegal acts become legal and unpunishable?

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 follow me at www.redheartbluelife.wordpress.com where I occasionally post about the little things in life I see and do.

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

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Book Review: Could it happen here?

IMG_20170928_0848160It has been an often asked question following the election of Donald Trump as the US President November 2017, Michael Adams’ book put the question front and centre “Could it happen here? Canada in the age of Trump and Brexit”.

While the title suggests a global perspective, the majority of the information provided by Adams focuses on Canadian and American polling and statistical information. Where does Adams get his research? He does it, the research – or more to the point, his company Environics does the polling and research. What Adams has done is pull the relevant information together and present numbers to make suggestions on the likelihood of Canada experiencing a Trump/Brexit moment.

If you like numbers and love the analytics of numbers you’ll enjoy this read. It reads like a press release at times, meaning for me having to review the numbers a few times to understand the message.   The message is important here, Adams does not go out of his way to make predictions, but present the statistical information to track probabilities in the different chapters.

Could it happen here does cement one fact for me; Canada and the US are extremely different in historical make up, social divisions and the reasons for the differences. This does add up to make the case that Canada’s Trump/Brexit moment is an extreme event and would need more stars aligning than were needed in the US. Our political makeup of three major parties almost guarantees we won’t see red baseball caps on most Canadians.

While the book deals a lot with Trump, it addresses Brexit and the likelihood of Canada wanting its Brexit moment. This year’s NAFTA renegotiations (a by-product of Trumpism) are the example. It was not any demand from Canada to tweak the trade agreement. In Parliament the Liberals and Conservatives are congratulating each other for the Canada European trade agreement. Canadians support these deals because we have been able to maintain Canadian institutions like supply management in the deals. Adams makes a big point that Canada’s immigration is generally supported by all parties and Canadians. The drivers that ended in the Brexit just don’t exist in Canada today.

Michael Adams presents the information that will allow the reader to make a personal conclusion to the question we’re faced with on the cover. But through the polling information and statistical data we see that when looking at the US, the UK and Canada, if you looked back populism seemed most likely in the US. For me, I’ve thought that America’s rise in populism began with the loss of Mitt Romney’s White House bid in 2012. Romney was no John McCain and no George Bush (both of them). He seemed to be as far from the common republican as you could be. But here is the problem, Trump has the wealth of Romney, however where Trump succeeded and Romney failed was that Trump spoke to the grassroots of republicans – Romney didn’t. The base of republican support doesn’t waiver, as it doesn’t with the Conservative Party of Canada. Populism in the US won the 2016 election because of an elitist candidate’s message to the base. Trump convinced the base hen was like them, though the lifestyle he lived was as far from them as anything could be.

Comparing a conservative base in Canada with the American provides substantial evidence that in Canada the rise in populism will be much more difficult. The key information that supports my idea is that Canadians don’t want a leader that doesn’t bend and avoids compromise. Americans and Canadians are opposites in this. Adams points out that a 2011 Environics survey 58% of Canadians want a leader that will compromise, 54% of Americans desire to have their leader to stand firm.

There are other reasons for me believing that Trumpism cannot succeed in Canada; a three party electoral system, our social and economic systems and dare I say it, our “Canadian Values”. There will however always be the wildcard of the voter themselves. Hillary Clinton found this out, the voters are fickle and if you lose their trust you cannot win.

Could it happen here? presents Canada vs. the US vs. Europe in a compact presentation. It also surprises the reader with the similarities between three. Similarities that do make you raise an eyebrow and go hmmmm.

 

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 post about the little things in life I see and do.

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

 

Choose your healthcare life cycle

This is not a sponsored post, but it is written as a supportive post for Bruyere Continuing Care on Ottawa. Locally known as the best and largest palliative care centre in Ottawa and Eastern Ontario, Bruyere has been growing and adjusting with new programs for the aged and handicapped. Bruyere has opened an adaptive affordable housing complex and started new programs that encourage older Canadians to stay in their homes for as long as possible. I have been volunteering for the annual Bruyere Radiothon for several years.

Bruyere 2When it comes to healthcare we go through phases in our life. For most of us, our attention to healthcare normally starts when our first child is born.   Prior to that it would have been our parents that took us for shots, check ups and for the broken bones from sports activities. As the years pass the experiences we have in hospitals and who we have those experiences with will change.

When do you start thinking about your future healthcare needs, meaning at what point do we start to think about being proactive and not reactive? What does it mean to be proactive in our personal health care planning?

For me, it means that I think about where I might end up when I need care in the months and years approaching. Will I need physio after a fall? Will my memory start to fade? What about rehab following a stroke? Let me add that I intend to do everything I can while I am in my late 50’s to prevent needing any of the above-mentioned care and treatment. Of course, nothing is for certain but I do have the opportunity to shape what care I might need by being proactive and practicing preventative care. This is important because our current health care systems are not preventive, they are reactive – it will take a generation maybe more of governments to change that.

I’ll leave how the government will handle the change to the politicians and healthcare agents.  For my care and what I want to have available to me, that will rely on my efforts. That means I’ll look to support a hospital that will work to have the needs of my generation, the late edge of boomers, in their plans for care and innovative.

The annual Bruyere Radiothon is being held this week, the once a year radio campaign to raise money for the organizations #LifeChanging campaign. Early this week I attended a private event announcing the goals for the campaign, $30 Million that won’t go to any brick and mortar buildings, but rather to programs and care focusing in Brain Health and Memory; Integrated Senior’s Health and Rehabilitation and all be powered by the sector leading Bruyere Research Institute.

BruyereThe most life changing plans revolve around Brain Health and Memory. As the number of Canadians suffering from dementia is expected to double before 2037, Bruyere will reduce the incidence of dementia by 50% in those same 20 years. Just as important is redefining geriatric care that will allow us to stay in our homes and out of expensive healthcare facilities as we age.  Life changing care is because living longer means living better.

I am not naïve enough to believe that by reading this you’ll support Bruyere and their plans, but what I hope you will do is look forward to your future healthcare.   When you do make that decision you’ll have to consider how you can ensure that care is there because you cannot count on the government to cover the increasing cost of your healthcare 100%.

The need for fundraising by hospitals will only increase as demand and cost grow. Choose your healthcare cycle and support it, for you and your future care.

Please take a moment and click here https://www.bruyere.org/en/life-changing-day and be a part of Bruyere’s #LifeChanginDay

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 post about the little things in life I see and do.

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

Cancon: The making of MAPL music

RHBS184The recent death of Lighthouse founder Skip Prokop highlighted not only his musical prowess with the success he had with hits “Pretty Lady”, “Hats off to the Stranger” and “One Fine Morning”, but he also politically provided key testimony during the initial phases of Canadian content in Canadian radio.*

In his obituary posted in the Globe and Mail (September 8, 2017) Prokop appeared at CRTC hearings in 1970 stating “…in part the kids who are recording will start getting hit records. Then Canadian kids will start paying a certain amount of money to go and see them in concert. This creates the beginning of an industry – you start creating stars within your own country. This is something that Canada has never really had.”

Did his words strike true? Has the introduction of cancon developed the Canadian music industry? Would we have fewer Canadian musical artists cracking the US Charts if cancon had not come into being? If the government had not instituted the Canadian content rules would we have April Wine, Streetheart, Prism and others that may have had a small ripple in the United States but mainly have had successful Canadian careers? Concentrating on the first two decades of cancon, who would not have been here? Who should we thank cancon for, for having some artists in our record collections, mixed tapes and digital music play lists?

Knowingly I have not included names like Bryan Adams, Rush, The Guess Who/BTO, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Anne Murray and Gordon Lightfoot. These successful careers were based on influences that were are entirely due to the introduction of cancon rules. The longevity of their careers has guaranteed their music stays out of the “Canadian” bins due to international sales and tours.

RHBS184 1The MAPL system of identifying Canadian content was established by the CRTC in 1971. The MAPL designation identified the Music, Artist, Performance and Lyrics as being solely Canadian. To be a cancon selection two of the MAPL categories had to be of Canadian origin.

The initial success of Lighthouse was borne before cancon rules were in place, though the rules certainly may have extended their radio success. What about other bands, that as Canadians we love, but won’t be more than a passing interest to Americans?

Without prejudice I wonder what the fate would’ve been for the following Canadian musicians/bands if cancon had not been mandated. These bands all had fabulous success in Canada (I have most of these discs in vinyl). Below are just a few cancon era bands I personally love to hear in my playlist.

The 5 Man Electrical Band made more money when Signs was covered by Tesla in 1990 than they did in 1971 under their own name. An Ottawa based band they had other memorable songs including Werewolf and Absolutely Right.  With three big hits they have every right to play the reunion fall fair concert circuit.

The Stampeders had 16 singles charting in Canada from 1971 to 1976, they had but four songs crack the US.   Cancon has been good to The Stampeders. How else do you explain never cracking the top 10 in 7 years and maintaining a solid fans base today while continuing to hear Carry Me, Sweet City Woman and Hit the Road Jack in rotation at Canadian oldies radio stations?

I have nothing but smiles for the music of Michel Pagliaro. He was HUGE in Quebec starting in 1968 but for the rest of Canada it’s songs like Rainshowers and What the Hell I Got, which scored big for Pagliaro in English Canada and cancon gold.

It was the 80’s classic My Girl (Gone Gone Gone) from Chilliwack that made it big in the US but in the early cancon days Chilliwack sustained their career with songs like Lonesome Mary, California Girl , Fly at Night (not to be confused with Rush’s hit Fly by Night) that sustained the band via cancon.

Born from a cancon homegrown music contest, there is no better band than Honeymoon Suite to represents the success of Toronto’s Q107 radio contest. Honeymoon Suite won that contest with the hit New Girl Now. The band scored 6 Top 40 songs in Canada and 2 Top 40 hits in the US.   Without cancon rules and Canadian radio looking for new talent to play it is hard to know just where Honeymoon Suite would be.

With 19 singles released in Canada between the years 1977-1981, Prism is a cancon success. I’m surprised to see their lead single Spaceship Superstar only charted as high as 63 in Canada in 1977. I thought it was a fabulous song! In four years Prism charted 10 times in Canada and 5 times in the US. Prism’s success is cancon-centric, something to be proud of with 5 well received albums by Canadian rock and pop music lovers.

In an odd cancon twist of success, Saga scored big with 5 LP’s from 1980 to 87, but is a European twist; Saga has charted albums in Germany since 1981’s Worlds Apart. Saga soared with a top 3 hit in Canada and Top 30 in the US with On the Loose in 1981. With initial success in Canada the band has succeeded to continue to see success and to tour consistently. As a nod to their German fans Saga has released three CD/DVD concerts sets recorded in Bonn and Munich since 2004.

Canada has shown a real love for its homegrown bands. Whether it was cancon that created the environment for the love, Skip Prokop was prophetic when he appeared at the CRTC hearing back in 1970, “(cancon) creates the beginning of an industry – you start creating stars within your own country.”

*The CRTC mandated that 35% of music played on Canadian music must be considered Canadian content.  2 of the 4 categories of the MAPL pie must be either composed, written or performed by a Canadian to meet content.  Classical radio stations and Windsor ON stations had reduced content regulations.

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 post about the little things in life I see and do.

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

No Music No Life

RHBS 183“No Music No Life” was the branding used by Tower Records in the US right up to the day they closed their doors for good. I cast a tear watching the documentary, All Things Must Pass: The Rise and Fall of Tower Records the other night.  Like all those that passed through the doors of Towers Records locations, I loved going into record stores and through the aisles and piles of records. Even today whether I purchase anything or not it is still a pleasure for me.

Watching Colin Hanks’ documentary and the images he used had memories streaming of browsing the racks and bins of vinyl the mail slot wall of 45’s at Sunrise Records (I believe that was the store) in the old Mississauga Sheridan Mall.

I remember the smell of new vinyl, the feel of the wrapped new records and I remember the days were grease pencils were used to mark the price and not stickers. There was nothing better than using a finger nail to remove the cellophane wrap from an LP after taking it out the square bag that was perfectly designed to hold the new 12” LP that was selected with care. I pity those that have no fingernails and had to use (I shudder at the thought of it) a knife or scissors to cut the cellophane and possibly damage the custom sleeve or the disc.

I lived in record stores, and if I didn’t have bills that need to get paid I’d there 24/7. In fact there was a time where I almost owned a record store. My inspiration was Ian Fraser who purchased Laughing Gnome Records in Stratford Ontario. I was in there every day, when I wasn’t on the air on CJCS. How could I beat the life I had then? I played vinyl all day and went to talk about records with Ian in his shop. I was a record store brat. I understood how people that worked in Tower Records felt. There was no place like a record shop. As the signs in Tower Records said, “No Music No Life”, it was a lifestyle.

RHBS 183 2When working in Stratford in the late 80’s, I loved the idea of being in a record shop all day I was on the verge of opening a shop of my own. I wanted to specialize in Jazz and Classics. York Street Classics and Jazz, was going to be the name of a recently renovated retail space, specializing in custom orders and using the store as a performance location for local musicians. It would have been a really unique space, sadly it just didn’t come together.

So day I spend time in Compact Music in Ottawa and with the closure of HMV I know get to browse again in Sunrise Records. It is a pleasure to see increased racks and variety in the selection of music on vinyl. I think I am being called back in time.

RHBS 183 3Looking back at the records I purchased I had good collection, not great, pretty good. Like most collectors re-arranging, cataloguing was all part of it, being into music that much defined me and to this day I have to escape just listen while I work. A few years back I had to think about downsizing and over a couple of years went from 3000 Lp’s to my essential 250. My inspiration was the late Robert Palmer who did the same thing out of sheer need. Now the essential 250 are in storage waiting for the day to come up to be heard once more.

My last LP purchased was Elton John’s “Sleeping with the Past” in 1989, until July of this year when I picked up the newly remixed and remastered Beatles Sgt. Pepper. So flipping through the bins is becoming a ritual once again. However, until I get the turntable out of storage and bring the albums up, I will only be going through the actions. Someday soon I’ll again feel the moment of removing the wrapping, feeling freshly pressed vinyl going from my hands to the turntable and hearing the sound of the needle dropping.   Soon…because no music no life is a real thing

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 post about the little things in life I see and do.

King for a Day?

RHBS 182The Ontario government is conducting a Basic Income Pilot project in three locations; Thunder Bay, Lindsay and Hamilton. The pilot provides a basic income of $17,000 to approx. 34,000 people that currently receive money from the Ontario Works (OW) and Ontario Disability Support Programs (ODSP). The $17,000 is a huge increase to those now receiving $13,000 or less from the government, but it is a paltry amount for most Ontarians.  You have to consider for whom a basic income is directed at and you’ll understand the need for more for this segment of Ontario’s population.

Using the example of a single male on ODSP and it’s shocking what some people in Ontario are forced to live on. After rent is automatically deducted from the ODSP, it leaves less than $500 for hydro, phone/internet, food, transit fees and other items for the rest of the month. Could you pay hydro, and other bills with only $500 a month and eat well? It was not always like this, our social assistance system was friendlier and more generous. Multiple governments have reduced programs and allowances available and not increased payments to meet increased costs for expenses. At one point ODSP included a number of allowances including moving allowances but with those gone the cost of a move eats further into the leftovers and leaves no chance to for people to improve their living conditions.

There are approximately 900,000 Ontarians receiving assistance through ODSP and other Social Assistance Programs representing just 6.5% of Ontario’s population. In the recent Ontario budget the Wynne Government allocated money to allow increase limits for those on ODSP etc. to earn more with less being clawed back. The governments’ focus on support payments is on families and children that because of a job loss saw these families fall well below the poverty line and reliant on the government. For many this doesn’t provide any comfort, they don’t have the assets to claim against assistance and have little opportunity to make more money, so they fall further behind month by month. For many they will rely on food banks and the generosity of friends providing $20, $40 or more when needed. Many don’t ask because they don’t want to be a burden, so they suffer invisibly. It’s sad to see people we know go moneyless up to half way through a month, because what’s left after rent doesn’t see them through to the first week of the month.

What makes me angry is while the Ontario government seems to be focused on families/children on ODSP and OW their attention does not reach the singles who struggle just as much each month. Long-time progressives in the Wynne government like former Ottawa Vanier MPP Madeline Meillieur and current Ottawa Centre MPP Yasir Naqvi seem to have blinders when assisting those without dependents. Baby steps by the government may help families, the singles, as they get older, fall further and further behind and will become a larger burden on the government because they have no pension; savings support avenues available to them.

General consensus with budgeting states that 30% to 35% of a person’s annual income should go to housing costs, and that includes hydro. Even if we up the 35% to 50% a single person on ODSP with annual rent of $9000, the annual income that should be received is $18,000. In reality, rent accounts for 68% of ODSP for the single person and if you add average hydro of $70/month that increases to a whopping 75% of annual income going to housing and hydro. Someone please tell me how anyone lives on 25% of an annual income? At this point, I hope that the Ontario PC’s or Ontario NDP understand the plight of the few in Ontario (I’ve given up hope Wynne and Ontario Liberals will ever understand this).

A solution is to change how ODSP is fixed to recipients. Rather than have a fixed amount of money received each month, the amount paid should be a fixed percentage of how much housing costs should be. If the government were to fix housing costs to 40% of the annual income,  the ODSP recipient would see an increase of their payments to $17,100. The result? While rent increases happen annually, so too will ODSP to meet the most important monthly cost that is taken out of the month government cheque. Without this, the motivation to move to a better location is destroyed as increased rent results in decreased spending for all other living expenses.

I realize that this gets very close to the government sponsored basic monthly income pilot – what separates it from that program though is the ability to change housing due to any number of reasons; accessibility, declining living conditions, and safety. Rent increases will not affect what might be left after rent is paid. The basic income does not do this. I propose to look after the number one need of those of assistance, housing, and the remainder will be less stressful on the first of each month, or as a friend calls it “King for a Day”.

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 post about the little things in life I see and do.

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

 

The Colour Of A Song

Though #RedHeartBlueSign is mostly a blog with original content, from time to time I repost interesting content from other writers. Today’s repost is one of those blogs I wish to share with you.

Great blog on the colour of music. It is one of the first where the colour aura of a song in discussed. I am not familiar with every song mentioned but I understand where the writer is going with it.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

YOU SHOULD HEAR

You probably questioned that title the second you read it. Honestly when it came into my head a few weeks ago in the middle of a university studio class, so did I. My studio teacher was droning on about how as an audio engineer, he is faced with a stream of interesting musicians, who convey the way they want their songs to sound, in interesting ways.

“I had this one guy right, he told me he wanted his song to sound green. What does a green song sound like?”

And while the rest of the class chuckled along, a ‘green’ song popped into my head straight away. So I jotted it down in my iPhone Notes, and now I’m here trying to formulate that thought into an entire post about the colour of a song.

Colour and music have been combined before, especially through art. One specific case I found…

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