Kids and the Case for Optimism

Posted: 29/03/2017 9:49:39 AM





It is, without a doubt, my favourite time of the year. I get to pop around the country and meet the kids from the Spread the Net Student Challenge. It is more exciting than jumping out of an airplane.  It is more restorative than hearing the harmonious screams of a terrified Jann Arden. Because if you’re like me, you’re easily distracted.

Perhaps you spend a big part of your week immersed in Question Period. Perhaps you just watch the news on occasion. Either way it’s easy to get sucked into a dark place.  If you do, the cure is in Fort McMurray.

Yes, Father Mercredi High School in Fort Mac. It’s like any school anywhere in the country except the kids there have one thing in common. Every one of them had to flee their homes because fire threatened to destroy everything they loved. Less than a year later, guess what else they have in common? They’re all back at school, hard at work, raising money to help kids on the other side of the planet who are less fortunate than they are. If you could bottle that, the world would not need anti-depressants.

And if you ever think the glass is half empty, go to Riddell Elementary in Hamilton, Ontario. There’s a girl there, she’s in grade eight.  She is so excited to go to that school, in that town, in this country. She is so proud that she helped buy bed nets to help kids that she does not know sleep safely at night.  Less than one year ago she was a Syrian refugee. That’s who I’m going to think about the next time I hear about the odious expression Canadian values.

Yes, it is my favourite week of the year. Spread the Net and spread the word. The kids are alright. The future is bright. Now let’s get to work on the present.

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Distractor-in-Chief

Posted: 22/03/2017 9:45:08 AM





Politicians love to change the channel when things aren’t going their way. That said,  it’s easier said than done. You can’t just snap your fingers and convince the entire world to stop talking about one thing and then start talking about something else. Or at least that used to be the case before Donald Trump.

I hate to say this but nobody changes the channel quite like Trump. It’s like he’s got the magic remote control.  You will not find that guy sitting around pray ing for a natural disaster to save him. Because when he tweets, people go berserk. They read the tweet, go into a full body spasm and their eyes start rolling in the backs of their heads. They do everything but wet themselves.  Every one of his tweets, they are talked about, analyzed, mocked and ridiculed.

But do you know what people aren’t talking about? What he’s doing for the other twenty three hours a day when he’s not playing with his phone. They announced drilling in national parks. Did anyone notice? Hard to tell because that’s also when he tweeted that Meryl Streep was over rated as an actress. Please Mr. President, have you seen Sophie’s Choice?

He’s stopped funding the removal of toxic waste from the Great Lakes. Was the left outraged? Hard to tell, mostly they were appalled because he tweeted about Snoop Dogg. He’s stopped all money allocated to fight the Asian carp. Google Asian carp people. It’s like every single alien invasion movie ever made. But is anyone talking about the carp? No sir, because OMG he tweeted about Schwarzenegger again.

Every time you hear someone say, “did you see what Trump tweeted?” — it’s all going according to his plan. It is often been said that politicians will sell their soul if they could just get away with murder. Turns out no sale required, all you need is a twitter account.

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Judging Consent

Posted: 15/03/2017 9:34:58 AM





Not that long ago a judge in Alberta asked a nineteen year old woman, in the middle of an assault trial, why she just didn’t keep her knees together. Now I say, "not that long ago," because it’s important to point out that this happened in 2014 and not 1957. And I admit, when it did happen, when it was in the newspapers, I thought this is a proverbial case of one bad apple; we’re dealing with one out-of-touch judge. I may have been suffering under the delusion of white male privilege.

Conservative leader Rona Ambrose, she felt differently. She introduced a bill, demanding that before anyone else becomes a judge they have to take a class explaining to them what sexual assault is. Well legal experts were deeply insulted. After all, they’re the experts, not the politicians. Telling them they need a refresher course on the laws is like telling an astronaut they need to go to Young Drivers before they go off into space.

Well as it turns out all those experts were wrong. Rona was right. And judges in this  country seem to be going out of their way to prove it over and over again. In Newfoundland we have a court that seems completely confused as to what consent actually means. In Nova Scotia there’s a judge that seems to be saying maybe no means no, but blacked out and blind drunk, well, that’s a definite yes.

Rona is right. But she’s half right. Because it’s not the future judges I’m wondering about, it’s the ones we have now that seem to be causing all the trouble. Every single one of them should pop by Shoppers and pick up some pencils and do what Rona says, and go back to school.

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Quittin' Time

Posted: 08/03/2017 9:19:46 AM





As you may or may not know, 14 people are running for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada. Who am I kidding?  The chances of anyone actually knowing anything about this race are very slim. It hasn’t really captured the imagination of the public. I had just one wish for the Conservative Party. And no it’s not what you were thinking. I was hoping that for the sake of this once great political machine that whoever was running for the leadership would be able to string a sentence together or articulate a vision for the future. No such luck.

I have watched all of the debates. If you haven’t, that’s fine. Why would you?  Or better yet, how could you? The Ottawa debate was held at three o’clock on a Friday afternoon. Who has time to watch a debate at three o’clock on a Friday afternoon? The only people who watched were myself, Rosie Barton and people in hospital too weak to change the channel.

It is clear, half the candidates are not in it for Canada, they’re in it for themselves. They just want to hear their own voice and see their own name in the newspaper. Which is fine but that’s what community theatre is for.

If this party wants to create any excitement, if they want to start having real debates, they need to streamline. May I suggest each one of the candidates, they look themselves in the mirror and ask three deeply personal questions. Am I harming my party? Am I in this for myself? Am I a total idiot who has no chance of winning? Three yesses and you’re out. If each of the candidates takes this test tonight, tomorrow that party will have six candidates and a race worth watching.

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Shipbuilding is Complicated, Hiring Canadians Is Not

Posted: 01/03/2017 9:25:58 AM






I have followed politics in this country my entire life. I have seen governments come and I have seen governments go. And I’ve noticed they’ve all got a few things in common. One: I believe they all try their best. Two: No matter how hard they try, they cannot build or buy ships. What governments can do is announce they’re building ships and then later they cancel the ships.

Building ships is one of the most complicated things in the entire world. The numbers alone are astronomical.  We’re talking billions and billions of dollars. And no matter what the agreed upon cost, there is always a clause that says if anyone breaks wind the price goes up 200 percent.

Now luckily for governments most people would never question anything about ship procurement because they just don’t feel smart enough. I get this.  I mean who am I to say anything about the building of an ice breaker or a war ship. But some things I do understand. For example, I know that the Government of Canada is paying Irving Shipbuilding in Nova Scotia 30-billion dollars to build ships. And they have created lots of high skilled jobs. 

But the slippery slope of job loss is beginning. Irving has closed their carpentry shop and they’re now bringing in carpenters from Spain. Carpenters. I don’t know much but I know this: we’ve got carpenters. Alberta’s got carpenters. I would go so far as to suggest that Alberta might even have some carpenters that are looking for work.

Look, I get it.  If you have a project and you need a specialty act, like you need someone who knows how to land the satellite on the comet, by all means bring in Dr. Gillibonky and his team. But if Irving needs people to install wall panelling, which is what those carpenters are doing, hire Canadian or give the 30-billion back.

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