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June, 2015:

A moral leader???? Canada???

That’s rich!

Harper and the CPC has taken our country from moral high ground to the sewers in 9 short (albeit looonnnggg) years.

Canadians will see through these lies in the fall.

From one of their increasingly desperate emails: 

 

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Deano the jailbird

As much as Cons are blubbering about the injutice of it all, Del Mastro is a convicted criminal, once one of Harper’s trusted Lieutenants, who will now do time.

I wonder about Steve’s judgement on this guy. Maybe he’s not ready to be Prime Minister.

The not-so-honourable member from Peterborough broke the law. And justice sucks sometimes. But as much as the Harperites are going on about this, they have to accept that they are not above the law.

Period.

So. Suck it up, princesses.

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Government travel

Just a short note to express my displeasure in seeing a whole lot of attention being paid to what are really fairly reasonable travel expenses. 

I get that there needs to be oversight and that MPs need to be conscious and prudent because they are, after all, expensing public dollars. I’m a public servant and have travelled fairly extensively over my 18 year career.

For example, Deepak Obhrai, Conservative MP for Calgary East, expensed $3,514.05 for two trips from Calgary to Ottawa and one from Ottawa to Calgary.

Really, that’s unreasonable?

Sounds about right to me.

So I checked aircanada.com and yeah, you could buy those three trips in economy at about $500 a pop for a total of about $1500… Less than half the cost of what was expensed.

OK. But let me qualify this: I set a departure date of ten days from now and a one week stay. What people outside government may not understand is that we in the PS have to use a centralized booking system. This, in theory, is supposed to save money. However, the reality is that travel requests are triaged so that the requests that are the most imminent are those that get booked first. So booking the flight 10 days in advance? That almost never happens. It is usually 48-72 hours before the departure date and hence, prices are higher.

And yes, I checked that too and the cost of the flights would have been $780 apiece for a total of about $2300… only $1200 in total less than what was expensed.

And these were for economy class seats. I for one, wouldn’t begrudge a senior (or junior) member of government flying business class for a flight of this length. Hops between YOW and YYZ? No. But I’d like my MP to use their travel time wisely and get some work done on these flights…. which is next to impossible in economy.

Bottom line – if we are going to highlight and criticize MP expenses, and we should, then let’s focus on the big stuff and not nitpick items that are beyond the pol’s power to control or are really so minor as to be immaterial.

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Government travel

Just a short note to express my displeasure in seeing a whole lot of attention being paid to, what are really, fairly reasonable travel expenses. 

I get that there needs to be oversight and that MPs need to be conscious and prudent because they are, after all, expensing public dollars. I’m a public servant and have travelled fairly extensively over my 18 year career. 

For example, Deepak Obhrai, Conservative MP for Calgary East, expensed $3,514.05 for two trips from Calgary to Ottawa and one from Ottawa to Calgary.

Really, that’s unreasonable? 

Sounds about right to me.

So I checked aircanada.com and yeah, you could buy those three trips in economy at about $500 a pop for a total of about $1500… Less than half the cost of what was expensed.

OK. But let me qualify this: I set a departure date of ten days from now and a one week stay. What people outside government may not understand is that we in the PS have to use a centralized booking system. This, in theory, is supposed to save money. However, the reality is that travel requests are triaged so that the the requests that are the most imminent are those that get booked first. So booking the flight 10 days in advance? That almost never happens. It is usually 48-72 hours before the departure date and hence, prices are higher. 

And yes, I checked that too and the cost of the flights would have been $780 apiece for a total of about $2300… only $1200 in total less than what was expensed.

And these were for economy class seats. I for one, wouldn’t begrudge a senior (or junior) member of government flying business class for a flight of this length. Hops between YOW and YYZ? No. But I’d like my MP to use their travel time wisely and get some work done on these flights…. which is next to impossible in economy.

Bottom line – if we are going to highlight and criticize MP expenses, and we should, then let’s focus on the big stuff and not nitpick items that are beyond the pol’s power to control or are really so minor as to be immaterial.

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Volunteerism – get involved, damn it!

I have written before about volunteerism and what is means to me. From volunteering at one’s school to participating in our civic processes, volunteering is a way to “give back” (I’m not particularly fond of that term) to the community and to gain a certain measure of self-satisfaction in the process.

I have given up a lot of my free time over my adult life to a number of organisations, and I have learned much about myself and others by doing so. The type of folks who volunteer alongside me are, for the most part, the type of folks with whom I like to spend time, chat and share experiences. They are dedicated, hard-working and truly believe that what they are doing is valuable and necessary. And they are correct.

A lot of Canadians volunteer a LOT of hours in a year. Check it out:

vol

That’s 154 hours, on average, for that 43.6% of the population that engage in volunteer activities. Put another way, that’s equal to just about 4 full 40 hour work weeks… and not paid a dime for any of them! Wow!

But you say that this is misleading because this includes all Canadians, regardless of whether they are holding down jobs outside the home or not. After all, many stay-at-home Moms and Dads perform daytime duties at their kids’ schools… like running milk programs, pizza days, helping in the class, etc. But no – check out this other graphic:

unnamed
So it turns out that those with jobs actually volunteer more, not less than the population as a whole. Pretty incredible, eh?

Why the rant today about all this?

Well, last night was my last AGM of the childcare services not-for-profit that I have been involved with for about 8 years. It has been a rewarding experience which has allowed me to have a small measure of influence over the childcare experiences of my two youngest kids. Some of my fellow Board members have been able soldiers (being Ottawa, we’ve even had REAL soldiers!) who have guided the organisation through some pretty rough waters at time. The long-time (former as of last year) President (let’s call him “Kevin”) was and is one of the hardest working volunteers that I have ever worked with and is a true credit to his community. I hope he knows that. And I’m certain that the current President will be equally up to the task in the coming months and year.

But I’ll miss this particular unpaid gig. My kids have “graduated” from that organisation now and I’m finding myself pretty stretched for time since taking on a bigger role at my Community Association. Still, I do not regret a moment of the many hours that I devoted to the organisation.

If you haven’t already joined the millions of Canadians who give up part of their free time to give meaningfully to their community, then you might want to think about it. You too won’t regret a moment of it.

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