Frame of Reference

I dozed off in my recliner last night, it’s a very comfortable chair, easy to doze off in but in bad need of some maintenance.  I woke up around 4:30 this morning and gave some thought to moving into the bedroom.  After glancing at my watch I just pulled the blanket up and went back to sleep.  By the time I would have dragged my butt into my wheelchair and moved to the bed I would have been too awake to really sleep but not awake enough to get up completely.  Woke up around 7 feeling great which gave me about an hour and a half of extra time.

For frame of reference, (had to get it in here somewhere) my old bed is just that, my OLD bed, most of the comfort disappeared years ago so it can take a little longer to roll my way out in the AM.  The recliner is proving to be a much more far reaching investment than I thought at the time of purchase.  Anyway I digress, so now I have my usual daily chores done (yes even at our age we have chores) and almost a free two extra hours.  It is raining and blowing like crazy out there so good time for some tunes and writing.   I have lots of ideas percolating so here’s one.  I will try and stay focused.

I have spend fifty years developing a career (which was very diversified), living in cities in every part of Canada, raising a family, paying taxes, doing things associated with ebb and flow of life but the one constant has always been my activism.  I have been involved in some form of community activism since the late 60’s and I continue that involvement to this day.  The issues may change (some even come back) but there will always be issues.  I’ve known a lot of very good advocates in my time so it is something I understand.  It has been my experience that the best advocates were those who could best find a middle ground, a solution where nobody had to lose.  In the last twenty years that middle ground has certainly shrunk.Continue reading “Frame of Reference”

Canadian Election 2015 – Day 1


Prime Minister Stephen Harper took a short walk this morning to the Governor Generals home and dropped the writ for the federal election (August 2, 2015).  Considering election day is October 19 this will be the longest election in the past one-hundred years.  By all reports  the most costly in our history with a huge hit to the tax payer.  Prime Minister Harper makes no excuses over the additional costs and his party makes no bones over having the largest financial base.  I am left with the feeling that we are really gearing up for a stockholders meeting to elect a new board, not a government.  When did we start buying elections in Canada?

The financial perspective is an important one as it reflects the disdain this PM appears to demonstrate whenever democratic process is required.  If Harper didn’t create it then it doesn’t seem to count.  His financial interests are noteworthy based on the PM’s latest tactic to “starve the Senate” out of existence (a move that has many doubting the Constitutionality of his move).  How convenient would it be for the smaller budget parties to run out of election spending funds before the actual election?  This is like starving any opposition out of existence which leaves me questioning any commitment to our actual democracy.Continue reading “Canadian Election 2015 – Day 1”

Twitter Was Not Designed for Conversation

Will Smith's insight on emotional control
Will Smith’s insight on emotional control

I did something today I have always told myself I wouldn’t do.  I tried to engage in a conversation with someone on Twitter.  It’s impossible to have a reasonable conversation with someone using only 144 character but especially when that person turns out to have only linear thinking skills.

I was watching Power & Politics today as is my habit and one of the regular speakers, Ian Lee of Carlton University, was spinning his take on the middle class.  Now the study he was referring to was in regard to how much better the Canadian middle class is doing as compared to the States or many other countries.  Well as a policy analyst who works with a lot of stats I couldn’t help commenting on Mr. Lee’s ability to spin statistical data.  In my days with government it was no secret that you could give five different people the same set of stats and get five different reports back when they were given no parameters to analyze within.  Our nature is for our biases to kick in when we are given little or no direction.

Anyway I digress which isn’t uncommon but I did pop off a tweet regarding Mr. Lee’s interpretation of the data.  I disagreed with the way he spun the data which also isn’t uncommon.  His ability to make it sound like the Canadian middle class was doing great in no way reflected the shrinking of the middle class, only that the Canadian middle class have done better.  Well that is a very simplistic overview of the study but who am I to complain.  It appears, particularly following the response to my tweet, that the average Canadian prefers simplistic rather than adopting critical thinking skills.

My tweet was a simple “Ian can spin, the report says Canadian middle class is doing better than the USA, nothing about growth”.  Well someone read that tweet and responded that I sounded upset over the middle class doing well.  I did what I shouldn’t, took the bait and answered directly back to that message.  I sometimes take it for granted that everyone is capable of lateral thinking and not trapped in linear thought.

My response open the door to an exchange of tweets that were definitely not designed for someone that does not recognize lateral thought.  I’m not use to conversations rooted in linear thinking and especially on Twitter.  This is why I should know better than attempting to have a conversation on a tool designed for quick comments rather than an ongoing exchange of ideas.  Twitter is not designed for conversation.

This was followed by a short exchange of tweets which ranged from the middle class to partisan politics versus democracy (a distinction I maintain).  The person questioning my tweet made a comment about the panel member from the “left” at which point all credibility went out the window.  I have no doubt that there is both ends of the spectrum in Canadian politics but I believe we need to leave that concept out of the application of democracy.  You can express your ideology through your political affiliation but when it comes to making change that affect all Canadian’s then the principles of democracy have to apply and we remain centrist.  There is a difference.  Canada has been a centrist country for the 64 years I have been on this earth and I want to see it stay that way.  I want my grandchildren to have the same proud Canada I did and I don’t believe extreme ideology shifts do this.

Anyway lesson for the day, don’t assume that everyone has the ability for lateral thought and never try to engage in a conversation when there are only 144 characters involved.  Otherwise you wind up giving control of your emotions to someone else!

Just one mans opinion!

My Father was a Veteran

My father was a veteran and he was proud of it.  I was proud of my father as a vet.  My father joined the army in 1941 to fight in World War 2.  He was from a Mennonite family and protected from fighting for religious reasons so he didn’t have to join but he choose to.  He and my uncle made a choice to support their belief in Canada over their religious beliefs.

My fathers choose to support the Canada that gave him that same religious protection to stay out of the war.  He left the farm, went to Winnipeg and signed up.  He didn’t sign up to further his education or obtain trades training but because he was a patriot.  He signed up to defend the freedom that he was able to enjoy as a citizen of Canada.

My father was a veteran and I am very proud of that.  He wasn’t asked to sign a form denying his right to speak out against the government when needed.  He signed his recruitment papers, received a welcome aboard message and went off to basic training.  He never questioned it because he trusted in our democracy.

Uncle Pete military and scout master
Uncle Pete, Veteran, scout master. father, grandfather (1923 – 2007) RIP

Not only did he sign up but he vouched for his under age brother who also wanted to join the Forces.  My uncle was only 17 at the time but in those days if a family member in the forces “vouched” for you, you were in.  After all we were two years into World War 2 and Canada didn’t have a draft system.  If you already had a family member in the forces and they sponsored you, as in vouching, you were in.  I find that ironic considering how “vouching” today has become a negative thing to the current government in power, the same democracy my father and uncle fought to defend is now being eroded by denying people the right to vote.

Not only did my father and uncle join the forces but they went against a life long philosophy (albeit only 19 and 17 years of life) that embraced pacifism.  For defending the rights of Canadians to make choices they were ex-communicated from their faith.  However their desire to defend a country that allowed them the right to make a choice like that was stronger than their alignment to their church.  They weren’t denying their church, they were supporting the democracy that allowed their church.

My father was a veteran, my uncle was a veteran and an uncle I never knew would have been a veteran.  Uncle Melvin never came home.  When my father returned from Europe he was a artillery staff sergeant.  He had been in both Holland and Germany.  The European war was over and dad immediately re-signed for the Pacific.  Before he could deploy the bombs had dropped on Japan and the conflict was over.

My father was a veteran and spend the next twenty years fighting for a 5% hearing loss pension.  In the mid 60’s he started receiving about $40 a month for the hearing loss association with standing beside huge artillery weapons.  He, like so many vets, were good enough to stand by their weapon and survive a war just to come home to an even bigger fight.  Eighteen years to get a $40 dollar pension!

He never spoke much about the war but he did attend his regiment reunions regularly.  They don’t happen anymore.  He also took my mother to Holland on a vacation later in life to show her where it had happened.  He was proud to be a vet and so was my uncle.  These days all you hear around Ottawa is how expensive these vets are becoming.  How do you assign a dollar value to what our veterans have contributed to this country?  They are worth more than a photo op.

My father and my uncle were veterans.  They were proud to have contributed to Canadians (in particular their children) to protect the ability to live in a safe democratic country.  Now, as veterans are thrown away by this government, I have siblings that tell me they just don’t care.  My father, my uncle gave up a lot of innocence so people could have choices.  Not caring is a choice.  It’s not the choice my father and my uncle fought for but it is a choice.  Now we have veterans committing suicide but we have a government who wants to deny service as a cost savings measure while people choose not to care.

My father would have been 92 years old this past Friday, April 4 but he left this world 16 years ago.  I think of him every day and every day my appreciation for what he did as a vet just grows.  I can’t understand how people can choose not to care.  My father was a veteran and I am very proud of that.  I know my father would not be as proud today of the government he proudly went off to war for over 70 years ago.  Although I miss him I am glad he is not here to see what is happening to the veterans of today!