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Politics

Marty Carr for OCDSB Trustee, Alta Vista/Rideau-Rockliffe

Sadly, School Board elections are always under-covered by the media and undervalued by the voters; hence the voter turnout rates that seldom top 35%.

This is unfortunate as Trustees perform very important and necessary functions as advocates for our children within the education system and as conduits between the parents and parent Councils and the Board of Trustees as well as the bureaucracy that runs the organisation.

I have never been impressed with the representation we have had in my Zone; be it the incumbent or the previous Trustee. I did run, unsuccessfully, against the incumbent’s predecessor in the 2012. And I did consider running in this election against the incumbent. But I didn’t. Why? Well, for a number of reasons, but a main one being that after some reflection, I felt that Marty had a better chance of unseating the incumbent than did I. And if seeking better representation at the Board table for Alta Vista/Rideau Rockcliffe schools, students and parents is what I wanted (it was) then I had to put my own ambitions aside and support Marty.

She has been engaged in her community through her yeoman`s work on the Alta Vista PS Parent Council and serves on the Alta Vista Community Association. This engagement gives her the street cred that is required for any elected official. She is energetic, personable and knowledgeable about both the broader and narrower issues around education.

Having served on the Pleasant Park PS Parent Council in various capacities for the past decade, I can say with certainty that Trustee Carr will be a welcome change!

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Jean Cloutier – the only choice for Alta Vista

What is important to look for in a City Council candidate?

Full disclosure – I am clearly on the record in my support for my friend and the incumbent in Alta Vista, Jean Cloutier. Time and time again, he has proven himself to being a community advocate, an enabler and an effective voice at the Council table. He should serve another term. Full stop. We need a leader with experience to look after the interests of the ward in the coming years. There are some big files on the horizon such as the Federal Study Centre development, Elmvale Acres and the development beside the Canada Post lands on Industrial. To manage these files effectively, we need a steady hand at the helm and someone who knows the issues all across the Ward – not just a specific neighbourhood.

But let’s put that aside for a moment. I want to address what factors come into play when making your ballot box choice. For me, it all comes down to the involvement and leadership that the candidate has shown before an election. Have they led the local hockey association, a community association? Have they coached soccer teams or sat on the Board of a local charity? How about their school involvement? The local food bank? Have they volunteered extensively for a local fundraiser?

In short, for me, you need to have established local street cred. And I mean local.

I recall hearing the former Mayor of Mississauga, Hazel McCallion on the radio a few years back talking about the importance of local leadership and volunteerism. Someone running for the nomination to run for a federal seat in the 2015 election called her and asked for her endorsement. He explained that their political views aligned quite well and that he worked for such-and-such MPP at Queens Park, had a degree or two in something-or-other, etc.

Hazel interrupted him and asked “what did you say your name was again”?

He told her and she replied  something to the effect of: “Well, I`ve never heard of you. And if I haven’t heard of you then you haven’t done enough in your community to deserve the nomination. Now go out and volunteer. Get your name out there. Get active in your community! And come back and talk to me in 4 years.”

Brilliant.

There are 6 candidates running in Ward 18 on October 22, including the incumbent. Three, including the incumbent, have been Community Association Presidents (one still retains that position, even though he is a candidate), and one has been a vocal advocate for the mobility-challenged community. They have all inserted themselves into our community in one way or another (I really don’t know much about the sixth candidate).

All but one. All but one of the candidates have engaged their community on the hyper-local level. The neighbourhood level. The level that is the most important to understand if one is to be an effective City Councillor. It is at the Community Association Board table, the hockey association executive meetings, at the Parent Council meetings – it is here where our communities “happen” and where community leaders cut their teeth.

Admittedly, and to their credit, this candidate has been a leader of an important national advocacy organisation and involved in a very important City-wide group. And they should be credited for that.

But locally? I can`t find a thing. And like Mayor Hazel, until this candidate announced that they would be seeking the Council seat in Alta Vista, I had never heard of this person. Not saying that I know everyone or in any way equate myself with Mayor Hazel (LOL!), but as an ex-Prez of a Community Association myself, as well as having been involved with quite a few other community groups, Boards, etc. over the years, I do have a fairly extensive network.

This post is not meant to disparage this candidate nor anyone else. Like I stated straight off the top, my unqualified support is with Jean. But I will say that when you are making your choice at the ballot box, consider to what extent each of the candidates have committed themselves to the local community. To me, this is a clear sign of their commitment to the Ward.

It might make your ballot box choice clearer.

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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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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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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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Let’s call this a Thursday rant…

(… well, technically I am writing this on Wednesday night but it won’t pop up till tomorrow..)

Rant # 1 – People on social media who make a fulltime job of bitching and complaining about everything.

Like, EVERYTHING!

A sampling from a scan of my City of Ottawa feeds this evening:

  • There aren’t enough bike lanes. Vehicles block bike lanes. Bike lanes aren`t maintained well enough. Cars don`t respect cyclists. (Ottawa cyclists are REALLY good at complaining)
  • Taxes/user fees are too high and I refuse to pay that extra $25 on my annual tax bill (prolly said by folks with 500K + incomes and who live in 4000 square foot mansions).
  • Building a (fill in the blank) is a waste of tax dollars. I would prefer that you waste those tax dollars on something that I want! Like more bike lanes!
  • There hasn`t been enough public consultation on (fill in the blank) and someone is trying to pull the wool over the public’s eyes.
  • The process is too slow (because of public consultation).
  • Politicians are all in developers` pockets. Every last one of them, dammit.

And most of these “experts on everything” hide behind fake user names (at least on Twitter) so have a lot of courage when at a keyboard.

I am not saying that peeps shouldn`t be critical and maybe their aren’t enough bike lanes, etc., but when it is all that you write about, then I have to question their general level of happiness with life for these negative natties. I guess I should pity them.

And yes, I see the irony in posting a note complaining about people who complain. Carry on.

Rant # 2 – OC Transpo buses that cut in front of you.

Yeah, yeah, I know they have a right-of-way, but they really need to train the drivers better to use a signal IN ADVANCE of cutting into traffic and not just cut into it forcing folks to slam on their brakes, like I had to do this morning.

Rant #3 – People who don`t have their money or card at the ready to complete a transaction at the cash.

Seriously? You didn’t think you`d have to pay this time? You stood in line for 5 minutes and you couldn`t find the time to reach into your purse or pocket to get ready to pay??? Instead you dig into your purse or pocket and rummage around before finally finding your card or cash?

Sheesh.

Rant #4 – Sinkholes.

Oh, wait. I actually kind of like them. Good conversation starters. Never mind.

Rant # 5 – The High Squirrel or Sparrow or whatever he is called on Game of Thrones

His feet. They are gross. Will someone please kill this guy off? Please?

 

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