Posted: 29/10/2014 7:28:04 AM
When Canadians visit Ottawa—and all Canadians should at some point in their lives—without fail they’ll make it up to Parliament Hill. Which makes perfect sense; they are spectacularly beautiful buildings. They are my favourite buildings in the entire country.
I promise you, you make it up there an hour before sunset, when the golden light is dancing on the Peace Tower, it is a sight you will never forget. Even in the pouring rain, in the sleet or the snow, in the middle of winter, 30 below, they can still make your heart skip. Parliament Hill, as they say in the world of real estate, shows beautifully.
And when I'm talking to people about visiting Ottawa, I always say the same thing—take the tour. Because Canadians, being Canadians, sometimes they don't think about lining up and going inside. But there are tours almost every day. The hours vary, but they’re open pretty much all year round. And it’s been like that for over a hundred years.
And when you get inside, the walls are dripping in history. And the tour guides, all full time students, are so young, informed and well-spoken you can't help but think that this generation is the best and the brightest yet.
And unlike similar tours of similar buildings elsewhere in the world, the access is spectacular. The first time that I took a tour, I remember thinking—wow, we are walking around like we own the joint. And of course, we do.
It's our house. It's on a hill. And there's a tower. And it's named for the idea, the concept and notion of peace. And it’s open to all of us. Times change, but that never has, let's keep our heads and ensure that it never will.
Posted: 22/10/2014 9:24:58 AM
Recently I attended a graduation at York University. You can not help but be moved watching a parade of young people who have worked so hard, march across the stage and pick up their Bachelor of this or their Masters of that—young graduates filled with such hope, such promise, and crushing personal debt.
The last group to graduate were the nurses. They are a tribe onto themselves. They were by far the loudest of the bunch. They didn't care, they cheered each other on louder and harder than anyone else. They celebrated as if nobody was watching. They had the best shoes. And as they strode across that stage I could not help but think what kind of occupation are they marching into.
We’ve all seen the news. We live on a continent that is currently hysterical about a terrible disease that very few of us know anything about. And we’ve been here before. In my lifetime, AIDS happened; good people, decent people, family and friends were scared and ran the other way. Nurses—they went into the room, they held the hands. When SARS happened, when the city of Toronto was bathing in Purell®, the nurses went to work every day. And when they got sick, other nurses replaced them.
And now we have this terrible thing, Ebola. It has yet to, and perhaps never will reach our shores. But if it does, we know what will happen. We will run for the hills, they will run into the room.
So let us take a moment and praise the nurses. And let it be known that in this country, in Canada, no nurse should be denied the equipment or training they need to do their job safely. We should be there for the nurses because they’re always there for us.
Posted: 15/10/2014 7:43:00 AM
When a three or a four-year-old takes candy from the corner store and puts it in their pocket without paying for it, we all understand it's not the end of the world. And we also understand that if that child has parents with a moral compass, on that day that child learns the lesson that stealing is wrong. Because in our society, if you take something that does not belong to you without permission, it is theft. It does not matter who you are.
Oh, unless of course you’re the Conservative Party of Canada, who recently floated the idea of changing Canada's copyright laws. Not to protect people who need the laws or to create jobs. No, no. They want to change the laws to allow political parties, them specifically, to take news footage that they don't own, to re-edit it, slow it down, add creepy music, and create attack ads. Well in this country, you just can't do that to footage without permission, no matter how tempting the candy is—because it is stealing.
If Global TV, a private news outfit, invests time, energy, resources, and money landing an exclusive interview, another news network can't take that footage and put it on TV. Because they don't own it. A charity can't put that on TV because they don't own it. There are no exceptions. To quote a very popular document—Thou shalt not steal. I know Stephen Harper has been accused of having a hidden agenda but I didn't think it involved circumventing the Ten Commandments.
Stealing is wrong. If the Tories allow this to go through, every single Tory MP should have to write a letter to the children in their ridings explaining to them why the next time they’re in a store, if they think they can get away with it and no one is looking, take all the candy you want.
Posted: 08/10/2014 6:54:14 AM
Growing up my father told me, over and over again, that the vast majority of Canadians, when they go to work in the morning, they try their best. That it was human nature. And you know what? I believed him. Well, with all due respect, I can’t help but think that when my father came to that conclusion, it was before there were cameras in the House of Commons.
We have gotten to the point now where if you ask this government any question on any issue, domestic or international, they will tell you, "We stand with Israel.” You ask a cabinet minister directions to the closest washroom they will tell you, "We stand with Israel.” Which personally I believe does a disservice to Israel. But that is the situation we find ourselves in.
Enter the Speaker of the House of Commons, our referee, our saviour of democracy, Andrew Scheer. He says it is not his job to ensure that the government answers direct questions in question period; despite the fact that it's been in his job description since 1894.
Well, that’s not the way Scheer sees it. No, in a passionate, passionate ruling he revealed to the country that his only role is to ensure decorum in the House of Commons. Show me one person who believes he's done a good job on the decorum front. 308 meth addicts on the dance floor have better manners.
Which brings me to a proposal. This government is always saying they’re looking for redundancies to save money in government. May I suggest the job of Speaker, a job that comes with a minister's salary, a staff, a car, a driver, a house in the country where deer gambol on the lawn. Yes, they gambol. And we replace the Speaker with a bag of flour with a smiley face drawn on the front with a sharpie. What's the worst thing that could happen? Questions will go unanswered, rudeness will prevail.
Because really if the highlight of one's professional career is an eloquent explanation as to why they are useless, they should be relieved of the burden of faking it.
Posted: 24/09/2014 3:05:07 PM
I’ve been everywhere man… and we haven’t even started yet.
RMR is back for another season, we launch on October 7.
Three weeks ago my crew and I (all four of us) hit the road and started shooting segments for the coming season. I’ve flown Toronto to Halifax, Halifax to Fredericton, Fredericton to Toronto then on to Edmonton on to Vancouver then back across the country to St. John’s before popping back to Toronto to wash my smalls and then back to Calgary and Edmonton again. Throw in a road trip to Kingston Ontario and a couple of thousand miles on the rental van and it’s good to be back. Although sometimes I forget where back actually is.
Without giving too much away, we may have outdone ourselves this season already. I now have a scar on my right index finger from a shark. Yes I said shark. Also I may have swam with this shark. I know that makes me sound incredibly brave, and let’s face it I am, but it is a very tiny scar. In fact it is nothing compared to the bruise the size of a dinner plate on my left kidney that Jann Arden gave me when I took her on a date. I think it means she likes me.
I now know what it’s like to land a plane on a glacial lake in the mountains of British Columbia and just how glacial those lakes feel. I’ve blown up a popular nightspot in St. John’s using all manner of explosives. I have harvested wild blueberries and I was convinced for some reason to try a sport called face first repelling; without revealing too much it involves a cliff, a rope and a man with a dream.
Did you know pilots in World War one threw bombs out of planes by hand? I did that too, except instead of bombs I used baking ingredients. Somewhere in Canada there is a mayor who is a very good sport and has a new fear of flour.
Oh when using a chain saw that has a blade longer than a dinner table, beware of the kick.
Also removing wheat seeds from ones ears can be accomplished with what doctors call “a light rinsing”
Along the way I may or may not have carved something in a wheat field while driving a half a million dollar combine harvester. I am always amazed how generous Canadians are when passing me the keys.
Anyone flying East over the prairies keep an eye out of the left side of the plane. It is visible from 30 thousand feet.
The season hasn’t even begun yet and of course there are more trips planned. Every week until Christmas we will be back on the road. Early in the season Don Spence my cameraman made me promise that I wouldn’t make him go on any more boats in the North Atlantic. I broke that promise in week one. Next week I shall do it again except it doesn’t really count because the water off Newfoundland is famously flat and calm.
The countdown is on… I’ll see you on Tuesday Oct 7 on CBC @ 8:00. 8:30 in NL.
Now if only there was something to rant about.