Archive for April, 2012

does Alberta want in or does it want Quebec out?
April 25, 2012

Stephen Harper, among other things, is famous for coining the Reform Party’s original tag line “The West wants in”.  In 2006, when he finally took his seat as Prime Minister of Canada, he made good. If you ask me, the West found its way in after years of self imposed exile (well, partially imposted exile – Trudeau might have let the door slam on their way out in the seventies).

The recent election campaign in Alberta raised a familiar family jealousy. Alberta needn’t be jealous of its entitled big brother Quebec. Especially these days. If you spend your youth seeking any parental attention you can get, once you’ve got it (hint: oil helps) please don’t use it to harp (pun intended) on the old days.

A few Alberta campaign issues took some well worn pot shots at Quebec. Quebecers have cheap daycare. Quebecers have cheap tuition. Quebecers have it better. Well, go work in Quebec and see what’s left of your pay cheque before you do. In Quebec, everyone puts more money in the pot and everyone takes more out. Is it sustainable, non? But the flip side is it’s more equitable. Just breathe and hear me out. Quebecers are taxed more but have more services. As such, their disposable income is proportionately higher than ours.Which is why, in my view, they made it through the last recession much better than the rest of us. Because they cushioned their own fall.

While my cousins paid $5/day for daycare, I paid $50. In a single year, my $10,000 a year daycare expense was $1,000 for their families. Granted, their income tax is higher and they file both provincially and federally – but I’d have gladly paid more tax to have more disposable income at the end of my fiscal year.

But when it comes to the uber sensitive topic of equalization, Alberta, who’s in the best position of us all still seems to resent what Quebec has paid handsomely to get. Matters of their own provincial jurisdiction are their own business. Wouldn’t it be best if they minded it?

That Alberta would use its current good fortune to whine about the accommodations made for other citizens in other provinces is poor sportsmanship. How many cowboys stomp their feet, kick dirt then walk off in a huff. Not many I know. Turns out, thankfully, that strategy didn’t work out for the wild roses but the provincial equalization band aid’s been ripped off again, in my view.

When you drive into cow town, you’re greeted by a sign featuring an outline of a red cowboy hat proclaiming Calgary as the Home of the New West. Well I hope the new west will remember its old west roots.  There is dignity in the shoot first ask questions later of spaghetti westerns and real authentic conservative politics like those of Preston Manning and Peter Lougheed. Everyone loves a good western and instictively trusts an old cowboy. It’s the new ones I’m not so sure about.

why the CBC should hire a mom as their new chair
April 10, 2012

CBC needs a champion. Someone who will stand up for them no matter what. An advocate. Some unconditional love. So I vote (if I had a vote) for hiring a super extra ordinary mom.

Take me for example. Not that I qualify – but I guarantee you’d get your money’s worth. As a mom, I could give the CBC a no-nonsense, tough love, nothin’ I wouldn’t do for you approach to chairing the board of directors. And I’d run a good meeting. I defy any of your average board of director types to get two elementary school boys to school on time with 99% accuracy  with lunches packed, teeth brushed, homework done and school notes read. No easy feat for an executive manager graduate of any business school. If you can do the school run some 40 odd weeks a year, you can run a meeting, of that, I am sure.

Again, take me for example, not that I’m qualified, but I’ve logged in more CBC listening time than the average executive. Moms are connected. While executive wait in line at Starbucks and sit in endlessly long management meetings, moms are listening and watching and accumulating a wealth of information and developing keen analysis. If we can figure out which day to bring organic apples instead of cupcakes and which days to bring swim suits instead of piano books to school, we can give you expert analysis on the goings on in our community and in our country. We understand the issues. We live them every day.

And as for budgets, take my own household budget or that of any mom’s. We understand when to spend and when to save. Where to scrimp and where to splurge. It’s part of our daily routine. What a typical mom does with a typical household budget would put the typical company director to shame. We understand money management better than most. We get revenue centres (paycheques), fixed costs (groceries) and variable expenses (husbands). It’s the story of our lives. Mortgage, car payments, insurance, school events, haircuts, movie nights, family dinners. Our line items rival any relative to the budget we live in. Pay the sitter. Save on butter. Cut the coupons. Spend the points. Pass on Disneyland. Go to the thrift store. The only thing we don’t get is profit centres. But the CBC’s never had that privilege either so we’re good.

But what about strategic planning? We’re covered. From birth to post-secondary education, raising a child is the most important strategic plan you can undertake. Diapers to diplomas. That’s our strategic plan. And we work the inputs, deliverables and results of it every single day.

So far, you’re thinking my idea isn’t that bad. But what about lobbying? Again, we’ve got that covered. Try and organize a birthday party or secure time off to help on a field trip or negotiate extra help  for your kid at school. Spend a day with a neighbourhood full of kids taking turns jumping on a trampoline or playing in baseball tournament. Now that, my friends, is lobbying 101. There isn’t a government official who would have a chance against my natural born lobbying skills. If you can get a three year old to put on pyjamas and get to bed by 7:30, you’re golden.

How about delivering difficult news? Try explaining to your child that you simply cannot afford the latest Star Wars lego set in the middle of the toy section at Zellers. Add to it that your kid doesn’t understand why the debit card doesn’t just “work” when you put it in the machine. Now you’ve got yourself some tough messaging to deliver. In public no less. For all the other moms and shoppers and Zellers employees to see.

Ultimately, a good leader shows compassion. And here’s my shout out to all the moms I know, most of which wouldn’t apply to be Chair of the CBC despite their glorious skill set because, let’s face it, they have enough important work to do. A mom is compassion. We invented it. We’ve gone without sleep, without food, without privacy, without gratitude to get the job done. We’ve cried when our kids are hurt. We’ve raged when our kids are treated unfairly. We’ve watched quietly as they’ve fallen below our own expectations and cheered just as quietly when they overcome them. That’s what we do. Show compassion in every circumstance. Even when we’d rather be lounging by the pool in any resort anywhere close to the equator. We just get it done.

Ultimately, today’s moms, at least the ones who love the CBC unconditionally, grew up with you. We watched the Friendly Giant. Mr. Dress Up was our friend. We cried when Barbara Frum and Peter Gzowski left us. We spend as much time lying awake in bed with Peter Mansbridge as we do with our husbands. (Tisk tisk – mind out of the gutter please) We want to send Kevin O’Leary to his room to think about his actions and are tempted to show Don Cherry the wooden spoon (but we’d never hurt him). And today, we want to bake cookies for Mark Kelley and Rick MacInnes Rae and their lovely friends.

We’ve cheered for you. Feared for you and scolded you because we love you. That’s why you need us more than ever. So please. Hire one of us. CBC needs a mom, now more than ever.

But don’t call between 8:00 and 8:20 – we’ll be on the school run.

Love from us.

When a recipe for success calls for a pinch of humility
April 3, 2012

Hi again,

I’m the first to admit I’ve been a bit cranky of late concerned that my city is flushing money down the proverbial toilet. But I’m in a better frame of mind at the moment and decided it was time to pay a visit to my old friend humility.

Humility is a good friend. The kind of friend that doesn’t pester and bother in tumultous times unless it really thinks it ought to. When you least expect it because you’re wrapped up in a train of thought that’s speeding towards derailment, it will quietly tap you on the shoulder and say “Hey you. We need to talk. Is now a good time?”

And here’s what humility had to say to me today “well, if you think you’re such a smarty pants, what would you do with $25,000 of public money to promote this place you claim to be so fond of?” Ok. Good point. I guess. Maybe even a really good point. I hear lots of pros and lots of cons for the Kansas website and the Florida Infomercial. But few alternatives. So here goes.

1) We do need a plan. But what does a plan look like? Who am I to scream from the digital rooftops “We need a plan”, when the truth is, I don’t have a plan. Who am I to talk? I have an idea of plan. A dream of a plan. A plan to have a plan. But do I have an actual plan? Nope. I don’t.

2) We all want Salmon Arm to thrive. Humility reminded me that I’m not the only one around town who wants that. Not by a long shot. Instead of looking at the intention behind recent decisions (website and informercial), I’m guilty of only looking at the tactics. Seems narrow-mindedness might have come to visit me too lately.

3) I’m always saying “it’s not how much money you spend, it’s how you spend your money”. So it’s time I put my public money where my blogger mouth is.

Let’s spend $25,000. Let’s do something we’ve never done before. Let’s tell the world we’re a hidden gem. And here, in my oh-so-humble smarty pants opinion, is what I would suggest.

Hire a blogger. A business grad from Okanagan College. Pay them $25,000. Buy them a camera, a laptop and an i-phone. Ask them to produce a 5 minute video every week for a year. 52 well crafted, personal and pointed messages. Ask them to build a social media network to share our stories (free for all on facebook and twitter). Tell stories about all our business sectors – engineering, innovation, trades, design, software, forestry, geo-thermal, music, arts, publishing, agriculture, manufacturing. Take our digital visitors on bike rides and hikes, houseboat trips and kayaking excursions and shopping trip downtown. Bring them to our farmer’s markets and our restaurants. Introduce them to our barristas, our bakers and our chefs. Invite them to a gallery opening or jazz night. Spend the weekend with them at our Roots and Blues festival. Go skiing with them at Larch Hills then buy them a well deserved beer at the Barley Station. Then, on week 52, invite them to town for real. And celebrate a year in the life of Salmon Arm.  Connect with a new generation of young digital natives from across the country and around the world. Make the best argument you can that life here is better. It’s because of all of us, what we share and how much we care about a place we call home. Not because we had to, but because we wanted to.

So often adversity and differences of opinion do nothing but create adversity and differences of opinion. We’re bigger than that. Well, at least I hope we are. And I apologize for being small-minded about it.

We can do this. Better. Bigger. Bolder. and 100% ours. And way more fun. Don’t you think?