Talk Amongst Yourselves

Posted: 21/01/2015 7:11:17 AM

On January 30th, every premier and territorial leader in Canada will gather in Ottawa for a meeting. Imagine, all those leaders in one room behind closed doors. They call it the Council of the Federation. And once again the Prime Minister of Canada will not attend that meeting. He's been invited but he said no. He will not pose for a photo; he will not engage in small talk about hockey, the weather, or plunging oil prices. And nor should he. He’s got six episodes of the Murdoch Mysteries in his PVR; he needs to catch up.

Now of course the premiers, they don't like the fact the Prime Minister refuses to meet with them again. He hasn't done that in 6 years. But if you read any great book by any great leader they will tell you, the last thing you should ever do is get all the decision makers together in one room.That could lead to discussion and even solutions.

And as a leader, the other thing you must never do is engage in frank talk with people who have been elected to represent every part of the Nation. It’s that kind of thinking that lead to the creation of Canada in the first place.

And what I cannot abide is the suggestion that the Prime Minister is afraid to meet the premiers. That is a low blow. He's not afraid to meet the premiers; he just has no interest in anything they have to say on any subject.

So let the premiers go off and busy themselves with the silly work of nation building. My Canada includes my Prime Minister across the street, at home, alone, in the dark.


No Words

Posted: 14/01/2015 7:35:31 AM

On the morning of October 22, Cpl. Nathan Cirillo was gunned down while guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the National War Memorial. In the weeks after the shooting there were probably ten million words written about that incident. Yet nothing came closer to capturing the mood of the nation than the cartoon that was published the very next morning in the Halifax Chronicle Herald. The artist is Bruce MacKinnon. He is one of Canada's greatest editorial cartoonists. We have a lot of them in this country. Which is why, every week, in every newspaper in Canada, there are letters from people who are deeply offended by a cartoon. That is what comes with opinion.

In all my years of wandering around spouting off in an alley I have gotten hundreds of emails from people who are offended for one reason or another. And yet, I can't remember one that said I didn’t have a right to my opinion. They said I was stupid, wrong, pig headed, ignorant, yes, but no death threats. The most I've had to deal with was a late night drunk dial from an agitated cabinet minister.

How lucky are we that we live in a country that when offended, that’s what we do. Send an email or leave a rambling voice message. Like most people who move around upright, I have beliefs. I’d like to think I have beliefs that I would die for. The freedom to offend is very near the top. Thankfully that has never been put to the test. It was put to the test this past week in Paris.

Honestly, I can't put into words how I feel about what happened in Paris. But when I go online and I see the editorial cartoons created in the aftermath, I don't have to.


The Right (and Left) Thing to Do

Posted: 03/12/2014 6:43:26 AM

I have a question; it’s been bothering me for a while now. Well actually, it’s been bothering me since about eight o'clock this morning when I was almost crushed by an SUV on my way to work. When did using a turn signal become optional in this country?

Remember the turn signal? That little stick on the left hand side of the steering wheel? I say “remember” because I'm guessing a lot of Canadians, they have no idea what that stick is or what it's used for.

If aliens came down from outer space and studied the way Canadians drive they would assume that using a turn signal was a voluntary exercise and that there were no actual firm guidelines surrounding its use.

Refresher: it’s to signal people, it tells people what you’re about to do before you do it. Which comes in handy at 110 kilometres an hour. And all of you people who use it to tell people what you have done? After you have done it? You are doing it wrong.

And to you, the guy in the intersection who decides at the last minute to turn left but decides that there is no reason in the world to tell anyone what you’re up to or why you’ve suddenly stopped on a green light. You sir are not only a bad driver, you're a bad person. How bad? Everyone around you hates you. But don’t worry, I can help you. There’s a simple solution.


It's as easy as lifting a finger. Literally. So this holiday season, save a life, lift a finger. So the rest of us don't have to show you ours.


Partisan Inferno

Posted: 26/11/2014 7:41:32 AM

Dante’s inferno. A very famous 14th-century epic poem describes Dante's descent into Hell. According to Dante, there are nine circles of suffering. And as one can imagine they get worse as you go on and on. Spoiler alert—the final circle is basically sitting in a room watching Canada Action Plan ads over and over again on a loop. 

By now everyone is familiar with these ads. You can't watch a hockey game or an episode of Steven and Chris in this country without a Canada Action Plan ad telling you to love your government because your government loves you. My favourite one is the one that tells us how much our government loves and cares for our veterans. I swear to you, if I have a stroke in the next 12 months it will be while I’m watching one of those commercials. 

Governments are not supposed to spend taxpayers' money on ads promoting their own party or their election platform. End of story. 

Now, I'm not saying this government is the first one to do it, far from it. But let’s give credit where credit is due. They have turned it into a fine art. They have spent over 620 million tax dollars on such advertising since they’ve been elected. Partisan advertising has become like doping in sports. Those who do it, defend it. But we all know it’s designed to give one party an unfair edge. And we all know it’s cheating.

Canada's Action Plan. The only thing honest is the title. Canada—I know what that means. And I know what action the government’s doing to us when they put those ads on TV. I would draw a picture, but that, you can't show in primetime. 


Ground Control to the Government of Canada

Posted: 19/11/2014 7:44:16 AM

Last week I was looking at my Facebook feed when my friend updated his status to read, “One hour ago humanity successfully landed a spacecraft on a slowly tumbling mountain of ice and rock—let’s celebrate.” It was a nice break from your classic updates such as “I'm eating pizza!” or “my cat is possessed.” Since then, like so many people, I’ve become obsessed with what a group of European science geeks have been up to in outer space. 

The numbers alone make my brain hurt. They landed a space craft on a comet that is half a billion kilometres away. It took ten years to get there and the comet is moving at 135,000 kilometres an hour.

For thousands of years people trembled in fear when a comet appeared in our sky and now, in 2014, we have visited one. What an astounding thing humanity has accomplished all in the name of pure science. And my God, how smart must the men and women be who pulled this thing off.

And how sad that here on Earth, or at least on our little part of it in Canada, pure science is no longer encouraged. We have a government that not only abolished the Office of the National Science Advisor, but they bragged about it. In Canada, the only time you hear about scientists now is when they’re being told to shut up or they're being shut down by a government who can't even begin to understand what the scientists are talking about. 

I don't know much about science but I know this: They didn't land a spaceship on a comet using anecdotal evidence and they didn't calibrate the rate of descent using focus groups. Canadians, we get excited about pure science. Canadians, we are as passionate and as curious as anyone else. It's our government that begs to differ.