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Gun violence in southeast Ottawa

There has been a disturbing trend toward increased gunplay in my part of town. These are almost exclusively gang-related incidents where dealers are taking potshots at other dealers if they see the competition infringing on their territory.

Gang-related or not, there needs to be a stronger response from all community leaders, not only the Ottawa Police. And this needs to happen quickly, before a stray bullet hurts or kills a bystander like this 15 year old in Vancouver.

It’s really only a matter of time.

But like I noted, what should happen in addition to a stronger police response (whatever that exactly looks like) is a full community response to the crisis; and yes, this is a crisis. By “full community”, I mean the OPS, the City of Ottawa, the area Community Associations and the School Boards. Four distinct bodies that need to work toward common ends that will stop this trend in its tracks.

And yes, I include the School Boards as one of these four entities.

Speaking about the number 4, Ottawa has four, count ’em four, Boards within its borders. Yes. Four.

But I’ll leave that for another time…

Anyway, all of these Boards, but primarily the largest of them – the OCDSB and the OCSB – have a stake in the mitigation of this emerging crisis. They too have a responsibility to work with the CAs, the police and the City representatives and elected officials.

So, let’s get moving on this! And yes, I’m looking at you too, OCDSB and OCSB, because while we have been hearing about useful sessions with the communities hosted by the OPS and City Councilors, there has been nary a peep from our local Trustees.

At least nothing I’ve been told about…

 

 

 

 

 

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Purchase infrastructure – just not ready for climate change

Climate change?

We need to plan for the future.

Now.

 

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Charlottesville – likely just the beginning

In the space of a decade or so, public debates over differences in policy in US politics have been replaced by mud-slinging over differences in colour, religion and heritage.

Obamacare was the last time when an actual policy was the centre of public debate. It hasn’t disappeared entirely but it being overrun but societal schisms that are orders of magnitude more visceral, if that was possible. It’s not Democrat v Republican but white v non-white. Christian v non-Christian and north v south.  And the differences are deep, emotional and seemingly irresolvable.

Trump’s random Tweets (and I do think they’re random with little forethought put into them) feed into the hate on both sides, but they especially validate the views of those who are white, Christian, anti-trade and anti-immigrant racists and bigots. These groups feel they have little to fear as they wave their Confederate flags, torches and guns.

As long as Trump is in power, debates will not return to legitimate matters of national policy and will remain at the level of raw emotion. Even if he resigned today, it may well be that it’s too late to shut the barn door.

‪I fear for my American neighbours. I really do.

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Whether the USA survives as one nation and not two or several…

…is anyone’s guess. I ain’t no psychic.

So. Something I’ve been saying since Obama was elected and the right-wing vitriol fallout is that this was the beginning of the end of the United States of America.  I hoped I was wrong but am increasingly thinking that I’m dead on.

A black man occupying the highest office in the land was abhorrent, the supreme affront to the views of a significant portion of Americans. Birthers. Conspiracy theorists of all types jumped on the anti-Obama, anti-black, anti-liberal (although 99% of this cohort haven’t a clue what being a liberal means) bandwagon. It unified them. Common cause.

Then Trump came along. A cartoon character reality show personality whose business acumen was questionable, his personality was grating to most sensible folks, but, paradoxically, he struck a chord with about a third of the American voting population. Keep in mind that much of the one-third was already predisposed to the kind of anti-establishment verbal diarrhea spewed by Trump. They dug him. Somehow beyond belief, the super-rich cartoon character was a hero.

He shot from the hip.

He didn’t fit the mold.

He wanted to drain a contrived swamp.

The one-third felt separated. Trump hated the same people that the one-third hated. Hate is emotional, raw, it makes people say and do things that they wouldn’t consider normally. Blacks, Mexicans, gays, lesbians, Muslims, liberals… hell, probably Pokémon and leprechauns! The list is pretty long. Hate ’em all!

And they liked that and came out in droves to vote for the guy.

He won.

And that one-third? They were emboldened! Holy shit, one of their own (remembering the whole rich guy paradox) was in power and he was repping him.

Now, the PRESIDENT Trump gets this and realizes (more likely one of his kids realizes) that he has to keep that one-third of slathering mouth breathers very happy. Because his scope of accessible voters isn’t going to grow much. He cannot alienate his base. At. All. Or he’ll have zero chance of re-election. Nada.

So he doesn’t condemn the Charlottesville assholes. No way! They’re the base, yo. They’re his biggest fans! Those racists, fascists, homophobes, bigots and all-round assholes rightfully see ol’ Donny as their best bet at a place at the table of power since 1864-ish.

And these racists, fascists, homophobes, bigots and all-round assholes are armed, dangerous and of generally sub-average intelligence. This is a problem and this is a real and present threat to the future of what was arguably once the greatest democracy on the planet.

The racists, fascists, homophobes, bigots and all-round assholes have never left town since the last Civil War. The good ol’ boys have been chatting in the diners and on the front porches just like their great grand-daddies did. And sadly, I think they’ll be the catalyst for the next internal conflict.

When? I give it ten years. At most.

Bonne chance, America. But I think you’re screwed.

Here in Canada, we’re sure not angels and not immune. We have our own issues. Extremist media pretenders like Levant’s Rebel Fascist outlet preach hate every bit as much as the David Dukes of the world. We have to be vigilant.

As a sidebar, driving into work this morning after I had written the above last night, I got to thinking about a conversation I had with my son a few years ago. I’m very vocal about my political likes and dislikes at home, as is my wife. Our kids are very much politically-attuned for their age.

My son would have been about 7 at the time and he asked me what I would do if I met the then-PM Stephen Harper. Much to his amazement, I said something to the effect that I would shake his hand and say “it is very nice to meet you, Mr. Harper.” My son then was confused. He knew what I thought of Harper and needed an explanation. I told him: “as much as I dislike his policies, his personality and pretty much everything about his party, he is a democratically-elected leader and we have to respect that”.

So back to the commute this morning and I replayed that conversation but substituted Trump for Harper.

And, you know what, I don’t think I could react in the same manner upon meeting the current POTUS. Harper truly believed that what he did was best for his country because, despite everything else, he was and is a proud Canadian who put his country first. Can anyone say the same for Trump?

No. He is in this for himself and could give a rat’s ass about his country. Therein lies the difference and why I would decline to shake the man’s hand.

 

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it was 20 years ago…

… last Friday when I started my career in Canada’s Public Service.

What was intended to be a stopover gig until I got what I really wanted (a job as a policy wonk on the Hill) had turned into a full-fledged second career.

I began at the comparatively late of 34 as an Economist/Sociologist Recruit working on developing a leading indicator for the environment industry and later on working with waste management statistics. And, by and large, that’s still a big part of what I do today.

Yeah, I’m a Manager now and my job is more around administration and process than working with and analysing data (which I miss) but I’m in the same Division that I started with and have a fantastic team and great colleagues. I count myself fortunate.

There have been few days in those 20 years where I had to drag myself to the office, and that is mostly due to the professional, fun and hard-working people I see every morning (some later than others).

Would I go back and change directions given the opportunity? I don’t think so. There are certainly some things in those 20 years and before that which I would tweak, but not my decision to stay where I am and to do the interesting and important work I do.

So,to my colleagues at StatCan and throughout the federal Public Service, I say “thank you”! While being a cog in a huge bureaucracy is sometimes frustrating, you all help to make it worthwhile.

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Mosque atrocity – hate driven or coincidence?


Canada has its First mass shooting in years. So tragic, and can’t help but note that a mosque was targeted.
This is amid all of the hate being spewed by Trump and his brown shirts, as well as their Canadian apologists like Kellie Leitch.
Police haven’t yet confirmed it, but it looks like Alexandre Bissonnette and Mohamed Khadir have been arrested. No motive yet, but the normalisation of Trump’s ideas into the mainstream emboldens those who are already on the edge. This may or may not be the case here, but one cannot help but wonder.
Looks like shit is getting real.

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Goodbye yellow brick road. Hello Mordor.

Very soon, a racist, classless and misogynist piece of trash moves into to the White House.

Be above this swamp rat, American friends. You are better than him and his sputtering jackals. Most of you are fine people.

Fight and obstruct everything he and the GOP for the full four years, just like the GOP and their gun-totin’ cohorts did to the policies of a fine and honourable President for 8 years. Liberals must not allow the destruction and division of America.

I wish you all bonne chance for the next four years. You are going to need it.

 

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Keyboard warriors!

Maybe it’s because I am getting a bit older and my skin is thinning somewhat, but more and more, I am getting annoyed with these Keyboard Warriors© who like to furiously and constantly hammer out their frustrations with <insert topic here> and the incompetence of the . That is all well and good. We are free to tappy-tappy on our screens or keys to our hearts’ content when the universe is perceived to be askance.

And hey! Exercising this freedom is one way to hold politicos to account. No more can your local School Board Trustee, Councillor, MP, MPP, Prime Minister or Assistant Dog Catcher (if you’re in the States, cuz they elect EVERYONE down there!) hide in their leather appointed offices sipping their lattes and pretending not to hear the mobs at the door! No way, uh-uh! Those warriors will track you down and give you a good whippin’ on Twitter or on Facebook or Instagram, etc., etc. You will be humbled, humiliated and dragged through Swamps of Digital Slime!©

But for the sake of all we volunteers and activists everywhere: if you’re not happy about something, please do more than take pot-shots!

Keyboard Warrior© guys and gals are everywhere – quick to point out faults, deficiencies or inconveniences in their communities but slow to step up and get involved and do something to change the things that they finds so objectionable.

There are a couple of these Keyboard Warriors in my community and on my Twitter feed. Most of their venting is aimed at a couple of the local Councillors, but the Mayor himself is often the target. I mean, this one guy blames the local politics for EVERYTHING! Hydro trucks blocking bikes lanes, dirty road signs, faulty card readers at city parking spots, snow on the sidewalk… the list goes on ad nauseum. I’m not saying that local pols shouldn’t be informed if services levels are not up to snuff, but geez, do they HAVE to be berated for EVERYTHING?

And when they run out of tangible things to complain about, said targets are then told they are wasteful spending, ego-driven, budget-unconscious, deaf-to-the-community, anti-cyclist demagogues.

So fine – feel free to complain. But you know what? I never seen one of these Keyboard Warriors out in the community working to improve it in some way. I don’t see them volunteering at a school, their community association, their place of worship, their kid’s hockey team.. nada. I’m a pretty plugged in guy in my neck of the woods but have never seen one of these Keyboard Warriors© or have heard their name mentioned in a community involvement context.

So, Keyboard Warriors©? Go ahead and whine all you want. Because to me and lots like me, until you pick up that clipboard, run some soccer drills, volunteer at a community health centre or organise a potluck community dinner, I’m paying little attention.

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For those Canadians who think that the election of Trump is of no matter to us…

… wake up. I have literally no patience for those people anymore. Zero.

He has emboldened racists everywhere. Even in my own backyard.

A Synagogue not far from where I live and even closer to my kid’s school was defiled with anti-Jewish and racist slop the other night. This Synagogue is a special place for many people who I know and call friends or colleagues.

I have set up tables for school events alongside these people, served with them on Parent Council. I respect them and they are part of my community.

And their children are my children’s’ friends. They play sports together… go to each others’ birthday parties.

I am angry. Really, really pissed off. And I am more determined than ever to do whatever I can to stop the spread of this filth perpetrated by beings that are lower than pond scum. It is the least I can do for my friends, colleagues and their families.

And if you care at all about our inclusive, tolerant and open communities, you too will speak out against this.

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