Archive for March, 2011

would a coalition be so bad?
March 30, 2011

If nothing else, the last two elections have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that the days of blue or red are over.

I really don’t understand the vilification of the coalition government. All this jockeying among the centrist and left parties that your vote could lead to a Harper majority distresses me.

Let’s just think about it for a moment. There are plenty of winning examples of coalitions. The gold medal winning Olympic hockey team from Canada, for example, consisted of the best players from all the NHL teams. We chose from the best and they won. Sure, it took them awhile to find their groove – but they won, didn’t they?

Just imagine, if you will, a Canadian government where the Minister of Finance was fiscally conservative and the Minister of Labour understood the importance of the worker and the Minister of the Environment was, if you’re following my argument here, green? And the Quebec lieutenant was a fervent Quebecer. And the Minister of Veterans Affairs was a veteran. And the Minister of Indian Affairs (i can’t believe they still call it that) was Aboriginal and the Status of Women was held by a moderate woman. Heck, it’ll even go as far as saying the Minister of Justice should be a lawyer (though most MPs are lawyers, btw) and the Minister of Health should be a doctor. Is that such a crazy notion? If these were jobs I was trying to fill, I’d go for the experts and forget about the party line.

I think the real problem in Canadian Government is party politics. We can’t all be blue or red – when the truth is, we’re more purple. And purple is a lovely colour because it’s part red and part blue. So is orange – part red, part yellow. And green – part blue and part yellow.

So let’s think about the power of compromise. Vote for the issues that matter to you and come election day, let’s discard this old-fashioned notion of all or nothing and work towards all for something.

Come May, we’ll have to hit the ice again. I want Luongo in goal and Sydney on the face off, politically speaking, of course.

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I tweet therefore I am
March 30, 2011

I like to think of myself as “plugged in” – a self confessed news junkie.

I joined twitter about a year ago but never did anything with it. But now, with the election underway and my personal news amplifier turned up to 11 (thank you spinal tap), I’ve finally joined the chorus of birds who sing 140 characters at a time.

The news is suddenly more fun. To read Rick Mercer’s comments about letting Elizabeth May join the debate (“she’s the vinegar that brightens up the vegetables”) or Jack Layton’s dig at Harper for only wanting to debate Ignatieff (“don’t blame you for not wanting to face me again”), you get a less polished and more informal look at the workings of our political system.

Maybe I’m shallow for only wanting the sound, or in this case text, bites, but I’ll try it till the election is over and see if I want to fly the coop when it’s over.

So for today and the next few weeks to come, I tweet, therefore I am.

budget best guess
March 21, 2011

I remember the night of the budget leak. It was 1989. I happened to be in downtown Ottawa. I worked on Parliament Hill and I knew something was up. You see, Ottawa after dark is a pretty dull place. So when you see RCMP cruisers and news trucks parked up and down Wellington after the sun goes down, you know something’s gone terribly wrong. But it’s so exciting for a town full of bureaucrats. It really is.

So now, on the eve of any federal budget, I wait in anticipation for news that someone, somewhere, saw something they shouldn’t have seen and said what they shouldn’t have said. I don’t think most people realize that there are plenty of people who know what the budget will include. It’s just that they are sworn to secrecy. It’s been written and edited and copy-edited and printed and boxed and shipped and delivered and waiting in a lock up for journalists to sink their teeth into tomorrow when the sun comes up.

It’s only the rest of us who have to wait for it. I’m not privy to any of those processes now (nor have I ever ever been) but I do have my suspicions about what it’ll include – and what it’ll exclude.

I predict it will include prisons, planes, pension reforms and pleas for employment.

Prisons
Since the gun registry issue got shot down, the conservatives need to appeal to big city constituents’ fear of crime – which I’ll call a big city’s fear of itself. So they’ll throw more money at prisons – or what I like to call affordable housing for criminals – to bolster the vote. Which is coming, I predict, in May.

Planes
Since our military resources are less than state of the art and our PM is anxious to be our American President, they’ll probably be some significant military expenses to protect the nation (and the neighbour’s) by upgrading our, shall we call it, least fancy alarm system on the block.

Pensions
Since most Conservative voters are, shall we say, closer to retirement then to spring break in Fort Lauderdale, I suspect the Minister of Finance will throw an irresistible pension power punch into the mix. It’s hard to vote against something that will make your retirement dreams come closer to fruition. Retirement is 20 plus years out for me, so that effort is lost on this household.

Pleas for employment
I suspect there will be a tax cut for small business to stimulate employment. And I can’t say I disagree. I’d rather hire someone then pay corporate tax. And by hiring people, we feed the very system that pays for prisons, planes and pensions. Someone has to pay for it. Might as well be small business. At least by giving me the wiggle room to hire employees, I feel I have some measure of control on how my money is spent. Better that then paying corporate tax into general revenues and still having to do all the work. I’m no conservative, but even I can see the benefit in this. So it makes it harder for me to vote against them. Or at least they hope it would.

Politics
Ultimately, it all comes down to politics. By drafting a budget that quells the fears of some of  the electorate, the conservatives have a better chance of getting their majority which they so desperately want. And make no mistake, there’s no amount of your money they wouldn’t spend to get it.

What the budget won’t include? Money for the poor. Money for the vets. Money for the children. Money for culture and money for content. If you can’t afford to contribute to the conservative party and you can’t vote, don’t count on them. They are on a mission for majority.

Ironically, the majority of canadians won’t even watch or know that tomorrow is budget day. But i’ll be watching and I hope I’m wrong. But somehow, I don’t think I’ll be too far off.

Thanks goodness for CBC Newsworld (i doubt the CBC will be getting money either, btw). But they’ll come in pretty handy come sun up of that you can be sure.

movie premiere
March 15, 2011

Found this amazing site (xtranormal.com) where you can choose your set, your actors, your voices and type out your stories and make a short movie.

Check our the first in a series I’ll call mediability moments:

http://www.xtranormal.com/watch/11412102

40 days (well, maybe 36)
March 9, 2011

It’s the first day of lent. A 40 day period of sacrifice. I went to catholic school so days like today are full of thoughts about what I should sacrifice if only I had time to commit. I’m a bigger fan of Mardi Gras, truth be told.

Anyway, it’s probably no coincidence that I watched Question Period today on Newsworld and the vitriol between the Liberals, the Conservatives and the Bloc made me realize that we’re probably in for 40 days of pain (or 36, the minimum length for a federal election) as the parties position themselves for a possible election (though our PM is going to the royal wedding and I don’t think he’d be welcome if he were mid election campaign – they have rules about that). I thought Kenney’s attack of Justin Trudeau’s dead father was a particularly low moment. Gross.

Anyway, I got to thinking about what I would like to see if Canada is to head into another election. If there were 40 days to show a better way, what would that look like?

For me, it would look like the best ever cross Canada road trip. Start in Newfoundland – meet the fisherman – maybe even get screeched in. Get to PEI, meet the potato farmers. On to New Brunswick – meet the lobstermen. Off to Halifax and Lunenburg and Mahone Bay and the Annapolis Valley. Meet the people who work hard to earn a living, honour their traditions, keep a way of life alive.

Then off to Quebec. My sentimental favourite. Maple sugar farms, dairy farms, arts and culture and deeply held beliefs that they are like no other in confederation. Understanding that our differences make us stronger.

Over to Ontari-ari-ari-o, my adopted home. I’d spend as little time in Toronto as possible and get up to Northern Ontario where the magic really happens. And it would take days and days to get through. Forests, mines, hunters, trappers. Lakes that go on forever. Rock and pine trees that defy logic.

I’m sure Manitoba would live up to its license place. Friendly. I’ve never met someone from Manitoba I didn’t like. Honestly. Winnipeg has its issues – but it means well. And deserves better.

Saskatchewan isn’t a province I know well. Though I did spend a weekend with a farming family and understood at once why they don’t buy into daylight savings…

Alberta is probably as far from my psyche as oil is from water but I appreciate their grab the bull by the horns attitude, even if I would never ever attempt that myself. But I’d spend a day on a ranch and at a rig. If only to gaze in wonder at their can-do attitude.

Then BC. Where I live and fail to understand as well as I should, part cowboy, part environmentalist, part new age. It defies logic in a way and yet, it still works. When I first moved here I was amazed at the silliest things. Whole wheat pizza? Umbrellas in the snow? What kind of place is this?

I wish I could say I’d been to the Territories. But my knowledge is limited to the Y territory’s capital starts with W and the W territory capital starts with Y. (Yukon: Whitehorse, and North West Territories, Yellowknife) – that’s all we learned in school. Shame really.  But enough to get us through Grade 10 geography mid terms. But I’d head up there too. And do my best to understand the remote and rugged life that’s afforded to anyone who lives in our now three territories (there were only two when I was in school…)

Then I’d spend about a week alone quietly evaluating what I saw and what I learned.

And then and only then would I call a press conference. At at a real place, not some overpriced ballroom in a hotel no locals could ever afford to stay in to share what might be a better way.

No planes, no press conference, no canned speeches, no attack ads. Just a road trip. To reconnect, to realize that this great big place we call home is an amazing array of interest and needs that aren’t being met by the big blue (or any other colour) machine.

It might not win an election – but it would make a for a helluva an experience. At the very least, we might understand each other a little better. Which is more than I can say about how the process works now during a federal election which just seems to divide us more.

It’s the journey, not the destination. Whether you’re the driver (politician) or the passenger (electorate) – here’s to the road less travelled.

harp on harperism or herald humanism
March 8, 2011

While I could fill gigabytes of space on government inefficiency, lack of transparency, childhood poverty, literacy inequity, income disparity and general negativity, I choose to herald humanism today, the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day.

Two very delightful digital deliveries received this fine day. More meaningful than a bouquet of flowers and more satisfying than lunch out with the boss. One from my Dad – an article from New York Times columnist David Brooks, The New Humanism – a deeply insightful essay on why people we think we should trust do things we never would believe a trustworthy person would do. According to Brooks “When you synthesize this research, you get different perspectives on everything from business to family to politics. You pay less attention to how people analyze the world but more to how they perceive and organize it in their minds. You pay a bit less attention to individual traits and more to the quality of relationships between people.” He presents concepts that I’ve never even heard of – and I consider myself a bit of a word nerd – that are so powerful to our understanding of each other, it should be required reading for all of us grown ups. It really should.

“…this research illuminates a range of deeper talents, which span reason and emotion and make a hash of both categories:

Attunement: the ability to enter other minds and learn what they have to offer.

Equipoise: the ability to serenely monitor the movements of one’s own mind and correct for biases and shortcomings.

Metis: the ability to see patterns in the world and derive a gist from complex situations.

Sympathy: the ability to fall into a rhythm with those around you and thrive in groups.

Limerence: This isn’t a talent as much as a motivation. The conscious mind hungers for money and success, but the unconscious mind hungers for those moments of transcendence when the skull line falls away and we are lost in love for another, the challenge of a task or the love of God. Some people seem to experience this drive more powerfully than others.”

Then, from facebook, a link to this powerfully beautiful video titled The Girl Effect: The clock is ticking. How a 12-year-old girl could be the solution the world needs right now. Should be required viewing for anyone who ever was or ever will be twelve.

So I’ll enjoy the Mardi Gras meets International Women’s Day and remind the twelve year old girl in me to be grateful for the opportunities I’ve had. Embrace the opportunities that are yet to come. Be thankful to the family and community that kept and still keeps me safe along my journey. And always, always focus on what good good can do.

Be happy. Be healthy. Be human.