No Easy Answers

April 12, 2016 - Leave a Response

This column was first published in the April 2016, Friday AM All Month in Salmon Arm.

You’ve heard the joke about the Trivial Pursuit game for economists, right? 500 answers for every single question. I often think about this joke when a budget is presented. 

Of the 2016 federal budget, many will say (in fact, have already said) that the wrong buttons were pushed and the wrong levers were pulled and if the new government really knew what it was doing, we wouldn’t face a deficit.  But that’s a bit like assuming any of us really know what combination of tactics will spark the economy. Previous budgets certainly haven’t cracked that code. Still, I would be wary of those who know better without proposing workable solutions. 
 
What we know for sure is that we’ve been in a historically low growth economy since 2008. We also know that oil prices are low and when we rely on those royalties to pay for government services, we’ll see a decrease in revenue. When facing a decrease in revenue in government, there are really only four options. Spend less (cuts to services), charge more (increase taxes), borrow (deficits) or find efficiencies (we don’t talk about this one as much as we should; there is always room to increase productivity, share resources and reduce waste). 
 
While we also watch the up ticks and down ticks of the stock market, we need to realize that relatively speaking, very few companies are on the stock market. They are there because they needed capital the banks couldn’t (or wouldn’t) lend and they stay because of the equity their company keeps and the money they can make for shareholders.
 
I never want to be the one to decide who works hardest and who contributes most to an economy. Do we reward risk, results or efforts? I do, however, suggest that we really need to have that talk. We like to think our tax system is based on risk. We reward those who take it because they benefit those of us who don’t. Ironically, in a low growth economy, we are rewarding low risk with profit and high risk with loss. 
 
Perhaps it’s the nature of risk we need to revisit as well as the nature of capital. There are different kinds of risk and different kinds of capital. Each works in its own way and works best when they are considered in relation to one another. It’s a complex question. There are no easy answers. Only easy criticisms. 
 
As a self employed person, I like to think I have taken a risk. One that rewards me personally and rewards my community and its economy. Does that risk discount my relative contribution to the shared assets we all need to live and work? Public infrastructure, education and health, among many other common societal needs, cost money that is raised through taxation. What is a fair share? 
 
But like risk and capital, not all businesses are alike. Micro business (fewer than 5 employees) constitutes 80% of business and we can’t be treated like big business. There are not the same expectations of big business concerned with share value. It’s an important distinction to make and one we ignore at our peril. Small business is not solely focussed on profit and shareholder value. It’s about self-employment, multiplier effects and community capacity. How do we measure that accurately? 
Questions such as these will make for interesting discussions at the upcoming Respect Lives Here: The Economics of Happiness workshop being held on Wednesday April 13 at the Log Building at Pierre’s Point. Local business owners and community leaders will explore the nature of an economy of well being, where more than one kind of capital is considered in the equation. The full day workshop is $20 and includes lunch. More information can be found at www.plan-be.ca
 
Of the 2016 budget, I will say that while no one ever said with glee “Hooray, let’s borrow MORE money”, if the middle class is to have more disposable income as a result of the child tax benefit, then, micro businesses who sell goods to consumers or to other small businesses, it’s likely that relative increase in income will help the economy. If we are to invest in the maintenance and repair of infrastructure, it’s likely the construction industry will benefit as will the economy. If we are to reduce the amount of debt our young people face by pursuing post secondary study, it’s likely to increase their disposable income upon graduation which, in turn, will boost the economy. 
 
But what do I know? If studying economics teaches you anything, it’s that all you ever learn is how little you know. But learn we will. Criticize without alternatives, maybe not. At least not yet. There’s too much work to do. 

Celebrate 150

March 4, 2016 - Leave a Response

This column first appeared in the Friday Am All Month Edition, March 2016

I remember 1967. I consider myself a centennial baby (well, toddler, to be more precise). I remember Expo 67; the sights, the sounds, the spirit. 

 
In 1967, Canada turned 100 and its premiere event was Expo 67 in Montreal. It was Tomorrowland, not the Disney theme park, but the nation. We were a land of youth, optimisim and innovation. Montreal was dressed in its finest modernity and the whole world noticed. It’s still thought to be one of the most successful world expos breaking records for attendance. And it almost didn’t happen. 
 
The world expo had been planned for Moscow but for reasons we won’t detail here, they bailed and we got the job. Thank goodness for us. On a personal note, thank goodness for me. My fondness of all things Expo 67 and Canadian Centennial likely shaped my choice of career in design and publishing. I’m particularly proud of my little stash of Centennial memorabilia including, among other things, cufflinks and shot glasses. It’s my most favourite brand. Eleven beautifully coloured triangles representing 10 provinces and the North West Territories shaped into an elegant and modern maple leaf; classic visual storytelling that stands the test of time. We should all be so lucky. 
canada
 
It’s nearly fifty years later and we get yet another chance to celebrate. I’m grateful to Mayor and Council for appointing me as the chair of the City of Salmon Arm’s Canada 150 sub committee. Our goal is to prepare and inspire the community to embrace the opportunity. Through collaboration and cooperation, all individuals and groups can come to the table to share ideas, plans and resources. There are already a great number of projects in the planning stage including special editions of well-loved community events from the Children’s Festival, and Quilters Guild to the Fall Fair and the Shuswap District Arts Council. 2017 will also mark the 25th Anniversary of Roots and Blues and the opening of the Montebello Building at Haney Heritage Park. The work is well underway. But there’s room for more, for everyone and for a few surprises. 
 
At our last meeting, we brainstormed the elements of a birthday party. The invitation, the cake, the food, the card, the games, the party, the loot bags, the gift, and most importantly, as my mom would be quick to remind me, the thank you. Everyone at the table has embraced the once in a half-century opportunity to celebrate, be it neighbourhood BBQs (the four fire halls were suggested as ideal locations), art installations, ferocious flag displays, a giant birthday card, random dispensing of cup cakes, well, you get the idea. It’s time to have some fun. And further, it’s time to have such fun that members of other communities might make a visit here just to see what all the fun is about. It seems at this point in time, we’re the only community in the region taking this collaborative approach to the festivities. 
 
Towards the end of the meeting, we turned our focus to the legacy piece. A party is fun and all but while birthdays are about looking back, honouring our past and our good fortune, their real power is about looking ahead and laying the ground work for the future. In fifty years from now, what will our sesquicentennial babies be sharing with their peers? Ironically, that lesson comes from 1967; youth, optimism and innovation. Of course, those words mean different things now but the spirit is the same. 
 
Join in. There’s room for us all. That is the best Canadian legacy of all. Please save the date for the next Canada 150 Meeting on Thursday, March 24, 2016 at City Hall in Room 100 at 2:30 p.m.
I’ll be the one in the red and white Canada jacket.
Louise

Response to CBC’s 180 French Immersion Opinion

February 21, 2016 - Leave a Response

Ok – I get it. You think FI parents think their kids deserve better. But, with sincere respect, here are a few points I think you missed.

On the one hand, you make the argument about elitism and how FI parents are robbing other parents of support and appreciation for English schools. Then you promptly debunk it by saying that fewer than 10% of children in the program become bilingual. So our efforts are lost. But I see these kids every day. They can speak French. They can read French. They can do math in French. They can do “dictee” and “discours”. They have two sets of words. Sure, there’s one set for the classroom and one set for the playground. But they still have two sets. It’s unlikely a large percentage of them will serve as bilingual members of the public service but that’s NOT THE POINT.
The point is, It does not take more effort to have kids in an FI programme. Unless, of course, you are one of those parents who think that your child’s success is a tribute to your personal awesomeness. That’s NOT what FI is about. FI is about giving children the opportunity to learn things in more than one way, in more than one language. It’s about diversity and brain plasticity.
The only difference between going to French Immersion and going to a French school is this: the parents. I went to school in French. My notes and report cards came home “en Francais”. As a parent of two boys in FI, my notes and report cards come home in English. “C’est tout.” It’s not that big a deal. Can we please stop making it such a big deal.
French Immersion is not about me as a parent. It’s about my kids. All children in Kindergarten are geniuses. They could learn three and four languages. I have yet to meet a five year old child incapable of this. We’re talking about the plasticity of the child’s brain.
We discount this ability by putting our limits and our values on their potential. A letter is a letter. A sound is a sound. A word is a word. If we restrict that potential to fit our view of what children should and could be, we rob ourselves of a generation of genius.
I think parents need to check their biases at the classroom door. Our goal is not to make them in our image. Our goal is to give them every opportunity to succeed. And the brain plasticity that comes from learning the world in two, or three or more languages is how we honour how very capable they are.
In the not too distant future, they will make our decisions, spend our money, innovate our future, solve our problems. Is it not our responsibility to give them every tool possible to achieve that? I say yes. Also “oui” and “si” and, well, you get the idea.
Thanks for exploring the topic. It’s a good problem to have. One I’d spend yet another “nuit blanche” to get my kids into French Immersion in Salmon Arm. It’s the best decision I’ve ever made.
Merci!
Louise
Louise Wallace, M.Pub
Mediability Corporate Communications
Salmon Arm, BC
250 833.5554
@lwmediability

Chin Up!

January 29, 2016 - One Response

This column was first published in the January 2016 All Month edition of the Friday AM. 

The single most important economic drivers are confidence and certainty. When confidence is low and uncertainty is high, we don’t have a very good view of the economy. The reverse is equally true.

Sad stories and bad stories drive readers to newspapers, and viewers to television and browsers online. It seems we’re hard wired to consume cautionary tales.

This reminds me of an unfortunate but nevertheless true comment about US local television news I remember from the early eighties: “Watch Buffalo burn down on Channel Four”. Many supper time broadcasts began with reports of yet another building fire. Police and Fire Departments were at a loss to explain the frequency. After studying the sad state of affairs, it was determined that pyromaniacs were triggered by TV coverage of buildings engulfed in flames. The fire-starting behaviour was reduced when the coverage was changed: no flames on TV equalled fewer fires, so the story goes.

In some ways, we’re now watching a full blown economic fire on our shared media; TV, radio, print and web. And it’s feeding the worst in us: will our house be next to burn?

I want to suggest that what we really need to do is embrace confidence and certainty. Yes. The dollar is low and oil is cheap. And that’s not likely to change anytime soon. But, on the other hand, the dollar is low and oil is cheap. See what I did there?

The low dollar means we can sell more into the US, our largest trading partner. It also means their economy is on the upswing and they can spend more buying from us, be it commodities, professional services, or manufactured goods. Cheap oil means transportation will, eventually, get less expensive.  It takes time for that price change to work its way through the system, but it will.

The low dollar means US visitors suddenly have Canada on their vacation list again and that’s good for the Shuswap. So if you’re in that business, be sure to target our Pacific neighbours on your Facebook campaigns. That’s easier too. Even ten years ago, marketing campaigns targeted to US customers would have been complicated and expensive. That is no longer the case. Thank you social media.

As for Canadian visitors, we’re likely staying closer to home. Consider upgrading your board shorts and bikinis to snowboards and skis come March break. And join in the best snow our ski hills have seen in years. Don’t discount the value of a great staycation either. We’re not exactly hard done by in terms of landscape and leisure.

Finally, and this is probably the part that inspires me most, cauliflower is really expensive. This excites me for the growing season ahead. We are fortunate to live in such a bountiful agrihood. With so many producers – fruit, vegetable, livestock, dairy, and grain – our producers are basically guaranteed a good year assuming weather conditions cooperate. That’s good for our micro-economy. I can live without cauliflower for a little while (well, truth be told, a long while) because I know that soon, our farmers will be planting and I have complete confidence in their ability to deliver. I might even try my hand at a decent garden myself. But that’s for another column.

So chin up Salmon Arm. Wether your glass is half full or half empty, you can still douse the flames. The glass is refillable and we’ve got plenty of water.

In you, I am, most certainly confident.

Counting on a Merry Christmas

December 11, 2015 - Leave a Response

This column first appeared in the December All Month edition of the Salmon Arm Friday AM

Christmas came early for me this year with the new government’s first announcement that the mandatory long form census would be restored. Sometimes the best presents are the most difficult to wrap. Numbers – good, properly collected ones – are important because, like words, they tell compelling stories and make better decisions.

I invite you to spend some time with your friendly neighbourhood statistics at statcan.gc.ca. Simply enter Salmon Arm in the search box on the top right hand corner and, voila, our numerical story unfolds.

We are relatively older than the provincial and national averages. At the last census, the median age in Salmon was 48 while the national average was 40. Some cities in Canada are 10 years younger than the national average. It’s important to know this because, just like people, no two cities are alike. Often times, a provincial or national “one size fits all” policy decision does not fit all at all. Which is why good representation from MPs, MLAs and municipal councillors is so important, especially in smaller communities.

Not all of the demographic cohort grow at the same rate. For instance, from 2006 to 2011, the population growth in the 65+ category grew by 16.6 percent while Salmon Arm overall grew at 9.1 percent.

We earn slightly less than the provincial average but our housing costs are significantly lower.
The median after-tax income of economic families in Salmon Arm in 2010 was $57,223 (British Columbia of $67,915) But our average monthly shelter costs are 76% of the provincial average.

Most of us live in single family dwellings and the median value is $349,000. When you compare this to the average $667,000 home price in British Columbia in 2015, up almost 100,000 since 2014, you can see the early conditions under which young families with some labour mobility from the Lower Mainland might consider a move to Salmon Arm thus giving us the opportunity to lower our median age which is important for long term future planning.

Given our older demographic, it might not surprise you that many of us drive ourselves to work. Some of us walk. Few of us take the bus or ride our bike. Active transportation is an area in need of improvement and is an attractive quality to newcomers. In fact, if you look up a real estate listing in the area, you might note the “walk score” of the property in question. Building trails, connecting neighbourhood and enhancing a community’s health adds value to our properties and indeed to our lifestyles.

Of course you’ll remember that the Christmas story also had to do with a long walk and a census. Mary and Joseph travelled on foot (mostly) to Bethlehem to be counted, after all.

Perhaps Christmas is a reminder that we all need to stand up and be counted; for what we believe in, for what we care about, for what we contribute and this Christmas especially, for the newcomers (from near and far) who will soon settle here and be counted among us.

Merry Christmas.

Will the universe unfold as it should?

October 18, 2015 - Leave a Response

I have spent countless, honestly, a ridiculous amount, of hours pondering this federal election.

I woke up today as nervous as I did the day I was elected to Council in my own town. Why are some of us driven to care so much about the outcome of the vote? Who knows. But I can tell you, my life would not be the same without it. And despite the butterflies and total disregard to household detail, I’m grateful for it.

As the sun sets on another general election, I’m thinking back to the first time I voted. My guy lost.

That’s been the trend (with one exception), I must admit. But if I get any sleep tonight, it’s because I think this time is different. You see, it’s not a general election for me, it’s a generational one.

So I will lay bare all my votes this past so many years. I hope I remember most of them. But I’m getting to the age where the details get a bit fuzzy.

1984 – I voted for Jean Jacques Blais – a Liberal Cabinet Minister. A stand up guy. He wrote me a letter of reference for the Parliamentary Page Programme. When offered six tickets to the Queen’s State Dinner in Toronto that same year, he invited high school students instead of campaign donors – I made that list. All round stand up guy. Got pummelled by a nice guy named Mo. Tough lesson. Something about “patronage” and “not having a choice”. We always have choices.

1988 – As a young economics student, I was enthralled by the possibility of “free” trade. I voted Conservative. The Liberal incumbent, who I would eventually work for, won handily. He understood that serving the constituents was his number one job and they rewarded him for that. Lesson learned.

1993 – I voted for Kim Campbell. Her house was two doors down from my apartment in Vancouver. I learned that being a good neighbour was more important than politics.

1997 – I honestly can’t remember. I don’t think I voted Liberal because the candidate had spelling mistakes in the flyers and I was in the publishing business. Fickle, I know.

2000 – I voted for Joe Clark. I always liked him. Still do. No go.

2004 – Again, not sure. Maybe Jean Charest. He was a Minister when I was a Page. Nice guy. Capable. young, promising. A girl can dream. He lost too.

2006 –  Likely Conservative – I liked (and still like) Colin Mayes, Mayor of Salmon Arm and new federal candidate at the time. They won. Just barely.

2008 – Liberal – though I was uninspired by the local candidate. Was seeing that my 2006 vote might not have paid the dividends I’d hoped for.

2011 – Green – Elizabeth May continues to be a powerful and inspiring voice. I hope tomorrow’s winner remembers that.

2015 – This time, I’ll vote Liberal. And it’s the first time, I feel great about the candidate AND the leader. I feel good about the vote for my parents (whom, I’m sorry to say, haven’t figured greatly in my previous votes). My mom is, to say the least, not a fan of Harper. My dad is unsure about “young Justin”. I hope they don’t cancel out each other’s vote. But I know they’ll vote as they need to because they are honest, determined, smart, kind and considerate. But mostly, I feel good about a Liberal vote for the young people in my life. My kids, my nieces and nephews and their friends, my students, the young people I get to work with every day. It’s their Canada now. And I want them to have that.

So maybe, just maybe, the lesson is that when you cast a vote for you, it doesn’t always turn out as you might have liked but when you cast a vote for the benefit of the people you love and care about, things work out.

Trudeau Sr. was famous for quoting Desiderata by Max Ehrmann “The universe is unfolding as it should”. Here’s hoping.

Please vote.

For the first time in my life, I will vote to elect a Prime Minister who is younger than me.

October 14, 2015 - Leave a Response

For the first time in my life, I will vote to elect a Prime Minister who is younger than me. I feel as though this is more than a general election, it’s a generational election. I’m excited at the prospect of being a young country once again full of ideals, ideas and innovation and for the young people in my life who are full of promise, potential and possibility.

By the same token, I feel like our national leadership has skipped a generation. Where was our leader from our generation? That’s the challenge of my statistical cohort. A big bulge of population ahead and a smaller and more capable one behind. 

Let it be our legacy that we give the next generation the chance that we missed. A real and genuine chance to shape the next generation and to take the place at the international table that we all know, on some deep cultural level, is the legacy of the leaders that came before.

I have total faith in our young people and I chose them over more of the same. It’s their turn.

You’ve got this. I know we’ll help in any way we can. We helped them plenty, it’s our turn to help you now.

heart emoticon

Lou

I elect to challenge assumptions

October 2, 2015 - One Response
This column first appeared in the October All Month edition of the Friday AM in Salmon Arm, BC
 
A federal election is a most excellent opportunity to challenge assumptions. Our news feeds are filled with promises, statements, attacks and assumptions that need to be challenged. The future of our communities and our country depend upon our ability to rationalize all that is put forward in exchange for our precious vote. 
 
My take so far:
 
1) A long election campaign is worthwhile giving Canadians more time to decide.
 
Not so fast. A long election campaign means that the Caretaker’s Convention is in place for the Federal Public Service. No decision that shall lock in the future government to a course of action can be implemented. Seventy-eight days of fewer decisions has a direct impact on the business of running a country, running provinces, and running municipalities. We’re sidelined to some extent during such a long campaign. It’s my view that this unilateral decision is one for which we all pay in the short and long term. Plus, I think we could have done it just as well in 40 days. 
 
2) A failing economy is the fault of government. 
 
That’s false as far as I’m concerned. We compete on a global scale. The price of oil is controlled by those who have the easiest and quickest access to the resource. Our oil takes more time to get out of the ground and to market. The industry knows this, and that has had the greatest impact on the downturn in the Canadian oil industry.
 
It does point to the need for innovation, automation and specialization. Government can foster a climate that motivates business to change. But the change is ultimately up to the market to implement. We are leaders in science, engineering, international development, non-profit management, and resource management but we have to show the next generation that we believe in them by giving them what they need to succeed as early on as possible through education and infrastructure. But there is risk involved. 
 
3) A low tax environment will create jobs.
 
False as of late. Prior to 2008, that statement may have been the case. As it is now, we live in an ultra-low interest rate environment combined with a low-risk business environment. Yet money isn’t moving at the rate it once did. Money is like water: if it doesn’t flow, growth slows. There is, by some estimates, 650 billion dollars of dead money sitting in corporate bank accounts because the appetite for risk is not what it once was.  Unspent money can be expensive, as it turns out. 
 
Ninety percent of the Canadian economy is small business. It’s more difficult to access credit despite record low rates. When the largest share of the market has more difficulty accessing capital, the whole model falls apart. It’s my view that there is a direct correlation between access to credit and economic growth. If you don’t believe me, ask your small business owner friends about their relationships with their banks and multi-national suppliers. If we protect cash at the expense of reasonable risk, we slow things down. Cue the second quarter of 2015 of the Canadian economy. 
 
4) Cuts are bad. Surpluses are good.
 
Again, false. We need to stop talking about cuts for the purpose of surpluses. We need, instead, to talk about productivity. Something as Canadians, according to the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development), we sorely lack. Some things need to be cut as public dollars need to be spent as efficiently as possible. And a surplus is just another way of saying that government took more than it needed. If a federal surplus goes directly to pay down debt after all the needs are met or to fund reserves for future public projects, then it’s worth it. But it has to be part of the plan in the first place. 
 
5) Canadians don’t understand the complexities of economics.
 
False. We are all economists. Economics is the business of managing households. We make economic decisions—powerful ones—every day. We are the most powerful economists in the system. How you spend your household budgets, what you buy, what you save and where you invest has far more impact on the economy than what any party of any stripe might have you believe. With personal debt levels at record highs, we likely know more than government about the real balancing act that is household management—or economics. 
 
6) Your vote doesn’t matter.
 
False. It always matters. But we like to vote for the “winner” and if we aren’t sure, we don’t vote (that’s just a theory). Running an election for the sake of defining a single winner is only of benefit to the winning party. But all parties represent some risk and some benefit. I don’t believe in the all or nothing approach. I don’t believe we can afford to take that view any longer. 
 
Which leads me to may last point. Please cast your vote for the local representative that you believe will best represent and engage us as an innovative, caring, contributing, and capable community. Some will tell you to vote for the conductor of the orchestra. My preference is that we elect good musicians who are in tune with the rest of us. 

Out on a Limb

September 8, 2015 - Leave a Response

This column first appeared in the September edition of the All Month Friday AM in Salmon Arm

I’m going to go out on a limb here (pun intended) and suggest that in Salmon Arm, we live in an urban forest.

What distinguishes us from many other communities is the tree canopy that surrounds and protects us. It’s as though the town was conveniently placed at the base of a natural forested amphitheatre from Bastion Mountain to the north, to Fly Hills to the east, Mount Ida to the south and Larch Hills to the east.

Trees are marvels of engineering. From roots, to trunk, bark, limbs and leaves, they reach towering heights in search of light and water to grow. They provide oxygen, act as nature’s air filters, air conditioners and shade from the sun. They dampen noise, nurture the soil and prevent erosion.

Our forest sustains us in many ways. And, as life would have it, sometimes we only appreciate what we have after it’s gone. I refer of course to the the catastrophic loss of reportedly 1,500 trees in Vancouver alone this past weekend during a violent storm on the coast.

In addition to their contribution in their lifetime, they also sustain us when harvested as building materials and, in turn, ensure major employment. Salmon Arm’s largest private employer is Canoe Forest Products. They harvest trees and manage forests. In BC, two trees are planted for every tree cut.

When a tree falls in the forest (maybe you’ve heard), they go on to provide habitat and valuable nutrients for the next generation of trees. When trees fail in urban environment, they need our help. Sometimes we have to move them away, trim them up, treat them for disease or replace them altogether. And given all they contribute, I suggest it makes good business sense.

Speaking of good sense, an emerging field of study called biomimcry addresses the ingenious attributes of nature. Engineers, scientists and businesses tasked with solving complex problems are more often turning to nature for sustainable solutions. From fish scales (that prevent bacterial build up) to coral (which captures carbon and uses it to build shell) to flowers petals (which repel dust and dirt), we have many lessons to learn from the nature that surrounds us. But that’s just a secondary job, the first priority is to contribute to a healthy environment where nothing is wasted (we could learn that lesson too).

Some communities in Canada boast about the economic advantage of their tree canopy. Oakville, aptly named, is a champion in this regard. Oakville is a community approximately 50 kilometres from Toronto on beautiful Lake Ontario. During the Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference I attended with Mayor Cooper in Edmonton in June, I went to a workshop hosted by Trees Canada. The Mayor of Oakville outlined the direct correlation between their city’s urban forest policy, the health of the population, their relatively higher family household income and their ability to attract high-paying employers. It was a compelling argument; one that was not lost on me as I drove home from urban Edmonton to my rural neighbourhood of mature trees in Canoe.

Trees work hard to sustain their forest and in turn, sustain us. Might I suggest that a simple take away when faced with a problem within our own environment is to consider the question “what would nature do?”.

“When nature has work to be done, she creates a genius to do it.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

I find the image haunting

September 3, 2015 - Leave a Response

I find the image haunting
yet somewhere in my head
I’m desperate to believe
that little boy’s not dead

I wish that he was sleeping
gently carried to his bed
his mom would tuck him in
and kiss his sweet forehead

He would awake in safety
with dreams within his head
of play and books and friends and fun
instead of strife and dread

What will those young remember
of those of us who can
provide the sanctuary
the humanity of man

We are all gifts of hazard
our home assigned by fate
we do not get to choose
which side of the gate

My Canada includes
those so desperate to flee
they’d risk their lives and family
to escape by cruellest sea

Once not so long ago
my boys were 3 and 5
I looked at them today
and tears did fill my eyes

I still have what they lost
so many miles away
and all we had to do
was welcome them to stay

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