There's Bad News and Good News

Posted: 01/04/2015 7:04:20 AM

I love the Samara Institute; they’re an amazing charity. Their entire reason for being is to inspire Canadians to become more involved in democracy. What’s not to love? They aren't stuffy, they’ve got a great sense of humour. If you love politics, you could spend hours on their website.

But if you love democracy, it can be kind of depressing. Their latest report card is out and it’s clear. If Canadian democracy was a patient, it would be in the hallway on a gurney on its way to palliative care.

Turns out, the majority of Canadians are completely disgusted by Canadian politics. If this keeps up, the only people who will ever vote are the base. The base, by the way, no matter which party you're talking about, are a group of blindly loyal drones who live to get a Christmas card from their MP. As I said, fairly depressing.

But there is good news. Canadians are incredibly active and generous. A healthy majority gives money to charity or devotes time to causes they believe in. They want to be engaged. They just don't want to be engaged to anyone on Parliament Hill.

I just spent an entire week surrounded by young people age six to twenty-six who want nothing more than to make the world a better place. But you suggest they join a political party—you might as well tell them to go slam their head in a locker. When it comes to politics, abstinence is on the rise.

So to the leaders of the major political parties, this is go time. Canadians, especially young Canadians, they’re just not that into you. There's less than one year until the next federal election. Please, look beyond your base. Because democracy is far too important to sacrifice to partisan politics.


Handling the Truth

Posted: 25/03/2015 7:54:17 AM

I found it very unnerving a few weeks ago when the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Defence announced that our Navy, the Canadian Navy, had been confronted by a Russian warship. This is very serious stuff.

And then the next day Jason Kenney, our new Minister of Defence, he upped the ante and revealed that a Russian fighter jet buzzed a Canadian frigate in the Black Sea at a low altitude. This is a very scary development. These are acts of aggression.

And Kenney, my goodness, he’s like Winston Churchill, Billy Bishop and General Hillier all wrapped up in one. Thank God for his leadership, I thought; eyes of a cougar.

And then, NATO officials weighed in. You remember NATO, they’re the ones running this operation. And they said, oh yeah, none of that actually happened. It’s all made up. Okay kids, come out from under the school desk. According to NATO our ships were over flown by surveillance aircraft at a high altitude, a hundred and twenty eight kilometres away.

I have an outrageous question—who’s lying here? Someone’s lying. The Minister of Defence, NATO, they both have completely different stories. Imagine if the fire department came out tomorrow and said there’s a firebug in our neighbourhood trying to burn down all the schools. We would be alarmed. Then imagine if the police came out and said, actually the fire department made that up. They got a new chief over there. He’s hoping to get his name in the paper this week. There would be hell to pay. At the very least there would be an investigation.

But I guess, when it comes to the little things in this world like committing troops, going to war, or getting into a size contest with Vladimir Putin, it’s okay to play with the truth. Honestly, I don’t know who’s lying here, but I can’t believe in Canada the truth has become a casualty we no longer care about.


The Monument Men

Posted: 18/03/2015 7:32:40 AM

Ottawa has 24 national monuments and memorials, all different shapes and sizes. The largest and most prominent monument in the Nation’s capital is the National War Memorial. Now Ottawa is getting another monument. It’s yet to be built. It will honour the victims of communism. Entirely appropriate but everything about this story is completely bizarre.

For starters, it came out of nowhere. This was the brainchild of two Cabinet ministers, Jason Kenney and then John Baird. These boys, they have big egos, so this is not just any monument. This is going to be huge. If they were going to have their names on it had to be bigger and more imposing than the National War Memorial. I’m sorry, that’s just weird.

The thing covers an entire city block downtown. The land alone is worth 30 million dollars. The land was supposed to be for a Federal Court building. Kenney and Baird went in behind closed doors and the site was theirs. Now is this on the up and up? I don’t know. But they kept the land transfer secret for an entire year. What does that tell you? The entire thing is shrouded in so much mystery it’s like they’ve taken inspiration from the communist countries the memorial is condemning.

Now John Baird says the people of Ottawa want this. Personally, I think the people of Ottawa want a hockey rink that’s not 36 kilometres away. But that’s another story.

What is true is this Government, for all their talk of transparency, allowed two Cabinet ministers to decide, without any consultation, that the War Memorial should be a poor cousin. This is nothing but a nervous Government trying desperately to cement themselves in history before it’s too late. This is not how grown up countries act.


Give It Away

Posted: 11/03/2015 7:13:52 AM


Do you know what I am eternally grateful for and yet don't like to think about very much? My organs. Out of sight, out of mind has always been my philosophy. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad my organs are in there doing whatever it is they’re supposed to do, I'm just not particularly attached to them.

When the day comes that I don't need them, I hope someone else can use them. Now this does not make me unique. 89 percent of Canadians support the idea of organ donation. We are a generous, intelligent people. We are also a nation of procrastinators. We view organ donation the same way we view cleaning up the basement; we support the idea, it's just very easy to put it off until, well forever.

And every province is different. I assumed that I was a donor because I live in Ontario and I checked “take 'em all” on my driver's license years ago. Turns out that’s no guarantee. I'm also supposed to register online. And no matter where you live, if your second cousin twice removed shows up at the last minute saying no, your kidneys aren't going anywhere. And if you live in one province and you get hit by a truck in another, who knows what’s going to happen.

Now, there is a solution, a national registry. This is 2015. We should have an app for that. Sadly, we live in a country where no government, federal or provincial, has any interest in doing anything that everyone can get behind, because there’s no political points in that. That's not going to change soon. Let's face it, if any of our organs go on the fritz tomorrow, we’re all going to want to be on the list to get a new one. Well it works both ways.

Take a few minutes, talk it out with your family; figure out how it works in your province and make sure when you leave you don’t take your organs with you.


The Frighteners

Posted: 04/03/2015 7:54:59 AM

Which great political leader was it who said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”? Well you can Google that later but we know for certain it was not Stephen Harper. He loves to remind us over and over again that danger is lapping at our shores. 

These days there’s a lot of things to be afraid of. The government and the media are constantly telling us that terrorism is at the top of that list and so it should be. But that is just the tip of the iceberg. You want to go down the fear road, there’s a lot of things we should be afraid of. 

Danger is not just lapping at our shores, it's in the bathroom. Do you have any idea how many bad things can happen to you in the bathroom? People die in there every year, hundreds of them. And I for one would welcome it if, from now on, in every speech the Prime Minister gave, he would go on at length about the dangers of slip and fall. Any discussion about the economy should be met with tough talk on how to keep us safe in the bathroom. 

And we need new powers, new laws forcing Canadians to use those rubber bath mats. And there is no time to debate these laws, and obviously the state will need new powers to enter the bathroom. If Peter MacKay or Jason Kenney wants in your toilet — upstairs or down — that is a small price to pay. 

And while we’re on the subject, do you have any idea how many Canadians are killed every year in the summer? It is our deadliest season. And yet we are encouraged to go outdoors. That needs a rethink. 

If you go online and you research all the frightening things in this world you would realize that Stephen Harper is right. We have every reason to be afraid. But if we give into that fear, we would never debate a bill, go outdoors or take a shower again.