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Archive for the ‘Political and Community Affairs’ Category

So I’m knocking on doors and talking to people in Elmwood, and I’m getting questions about the policies that the Manitoba Liberals are putting forward, and that are worthy of their votes. Obviously, the Manitoba Liberals website has the most up-to-date info as policies are announced during this campaign, but I’ll put some quick bullet points here, too.

I’ve did a little organization of points, but to be honest, the policies cross over subject areas quite a bit, since good health care means a stronger economy, as well as better public safety, etc., while early child education brings the same benefits, and so on…

At some point I may expand a little on my opinions on some of these, since I believe that they are an important part of moving Manitoba forward, which is something that isn’t happening right now.

Privatization

Health Care

Environment / Climate Change

Education

Justice and Public Safety

Poverty

Economy / Taxation / Infrastructure

Language, Arts & Culture

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So I can feel it starting already, that pull, that distraction of partisan negativity that turns most of us off. Why is it that we can’t just say we disagree with the PC or NDP approach? Why is there an urge to go too far, to turn our fellow Manitobans into villains?

Brian Pallister is not Donald Trump, or even Doug Ford, and Wab Kinew is not Joseph Stalin or Pol Pot.

That’s right, you heard it here first: no one running in the current Manitoba General Election is a pile of dog crap. That I know of.

I haven’t seen any tweets from candidates that seem hateful, and I’ve never run into a politician who tried to run me down with their car or kick my children as they help me hand out brochures.

The negativity and the hate does seem to make plenty of appearances, though. It’s blatant, yet it’s insidious. Because it’s sometimes the campaigns, like the billboards and the negative video ads, but it’s also from people on social media and comment sections, a vocal group of people who seem to have been in the mire of partisan spectator sports that they have lost touch with the notion that the people on the other team are not evil monsters, but a large group of people who just have different opinions, or every so often the same opinions packaged in a different ways.

And people are so focused on which team they’re on, or more emphatically, the teams they are not on. 

I can feel that pull, though as a candidate I’m not really allowed to join the worst of the muck. But I can feel the drag on my emotions, along with that dangerous temptation to start thinking Blue is this and Orange is that and anyone who follows along with that is super bad.

I need to remind myself that many Manitobans support Pallister because they know that the NDP’s governance has put us in a bad place with how tax dollars are spent and how liabilities had been kicked down the road and are now coming back to haunt us. They don’t support Pallister because they’re stupid or evil. I don’t believe that Pallister’s way is the right way to fix the issues, due to the instability these rapid cuts are causing in his mad rush for results, and because it makes little sense to me how you can complain about spending and move toward austerity while cutting the kind of tax that does not stimulate the growth of lower and middle classes, which is where actual economic growth is found (not from the rich moving their tax savings out of Manitoba).

And obviously I don’t support giving government back to the NDP, since they have not given me any confidence that they will fix the problems they’ve been causing since 1999.

What I support is bringing new voices into the legislature, from diverse sources. And I support the ideas that are coming out of the Manitoba Liberals’ platform and plans.

But no one who wins in this election should be vilified just because of the colour of their signs. How is that better than splitting us off based on the colour of our eyes or favourite pizza toppings? (Let’s not discriminate based on pizza toppings, as my monstrous favourite happens to be Pineapple and Mushroom) Even I think that’s wrong, but I just can’t help myself.

Vote for the right person and the right party. Don’t vilify the other candidates just for asking you to consider their point of view. I will work on remembering that.

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So it’s official: I am the Liberal candidate for Elmwood for the Manitoba Provincial Election.

For those of you in Elmwood, you know that we’ve had NDP MLA Jim Maloway since the dawn of time, aside from that time when he switched spots with his federal counterpart for a few years.

Jim Maloway is very good at certain things, including poking premiers in the eye, no matter which party that premier is a part of. But I don’t think that’s gotten us very far in Elmwood; progress in Elmwood has come from other people, generally from residents in the community banding together for a good cause.

I want to see Elmwood represented in a way that involves more than protest mailouts and really big signs. I’ve always believed that an MLA is the person best positioned to bridge the gaps between all stakeholders, from the residents, to the city, and all the way to the feds.

I believe that I am the right choice to make that happen. If you would like to hear more, please email me or visit my fancy new Facebook page. Election Day is Tuesday, September 10th.

What I really need to right now is put up my own signs; I do have some, waiting to come back out and get some fresh non-garage air. If you live in Elmwood and love red and while signs, or think it’s time for a positive change from the Orange vs. Blue sniping, please email me or message me on that aforementioned fancy new Facebook Page.

For people in Manitoba who aren’t lucky enough to live in Elmwood, I want to say something about the Manitoba Liberals: we are the ones who work with everyone, who look at issues in Manitoba and bring forward solutions based on evidence, best practice, and experience from other parts of the country and the world.

We do not close down emergency rooms with no workable transition plan in place and no thought to the fallout, with a sky-is-falling approach to our budget issues. We also don’t promise to ignore the results of health care reports just because we want to stand out from some other party. We take our time to do things right, accepting that we haven’t provided consistent emergency-level care in the Capital Region and that the hospitals need change, but also knowing that cutting and slashing in a mad rush is not what anyone needs. You don’t need to break health care so you can build it back up; this isn’t a cliched movie about boot camp, it’s real life.

And we are the only party that knows the reality of what is needed for climate change. We know that we need to increase all of our efforts, from putting a fair price on carbon emissions in a way that doesn’t cripple our economy and our families, to planting trees (not necessarily on apartment balconies), and to looking at what kind of parts our province can play in both green tech and the upcoming field of climate restoration.

I think every Manitoban who watches the governance in Manitoba knows that we are on a seesaw between two ideologue parties who will never play nice together, and who spend a huge amount of their energy either attacking or undoing what the other party has done.

Political whiplash won’t get this province anywhere but straight to the back of the pack. We need moderation, conciliation, compromise, and civility. We need to stop treating people with opposing views like criminals or garbage.

And that will not happen if Manitobans keep voting for the PCs and NDP. We all know that. Voting blue or orange means telling those parties that we want more sniping and negativity and the spend-then-slash-then-spend-again seesaw.

So vote Liberal on September 10th. And if you’re in Elmwood, vote for Regan. And take a freaking sign. 🙂

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Robert-Falcon Ouellette is in the process of introducing the Indian Residential School Genocide and Reconciliation Memorial Day Act in the House of Commons. Not everyone likes this idea of having a day each year to “dredge up” or “dwell” on something that’s, you know, like, over and done with.

I’d guess that most people feel that way, actually.

And there is a wide variety of ways for naysayers to tell us why the Residential Schools Outrage doesn’t need to keep being brought up:

  • “It was a different time, and I wasn’t around for it, and we need to move on, already, jeez…”
  • “My family is from India/Russia/Paraguay/Equestria so I don’t see why it has anything to do with us or any other New Canadians”
  • “It was the churches who did it, not the government. Blame the churchies for it. (and Praise Sagan/Hitchens/The Flying Spaghetti Monster, while we’re at it)”
  • “Those aboriginals already get free money all the friggin time, man, so it’s not like they need some new form of handout and/or pat on the back”

But one of the newer ones I’ve seen, which I think is a much more clever way for someone to delude themselves, is this one:

“This was years ago, it’s in the past, and the First Peoples have not only survived, but thrived. And that’s what I choose to celebrate.”

(more…)

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So it’s really hard to resist feeling good about being Canadian.

Especially when as of this post, Canadians are second in gold medals at Sochi. But you know what makes me even happier? Knowing that these great results are due to the success of Canadian women, who happen to also be my favouritest people. Fun fact: did you know I’ve been involved pretty much exclusively in romantic relationships with Canadian women? And now they’re best in the world in the winter Olympics? So that probably means that, by relation, I must be best in the world in something.

But Canada isn’t perfect.

We have a serious problem with government interference in science, we’re in the middle of serious backslides in both environmental and foreign policy, and most worrisome, far too many Canadians are still in the midst of serious epidemics of poverty, disease, and racism.

Canada needs to be better.

I think about this quite a bit. I love Canada, but I’m always angry about things happening in my city, my province, and pretty much every other city and province. I’m angry about how it’s still okay to most people to speak down about First Nations, to be ignorant of just how much privilege most white Canadians have. And I’m angry at myself, for looking at the negative when I should be working for the positive.

Because Canada can be better.

Canada can earn the right to call itself the best nation on earth, not just rest on our laurels because we’re blessed with natural resources, economic stability, and good governance (for the most part). We need to ensure that every Canadian has the opportunities that 90% of Canadians take for granted. And we need to start working on that today, before the final medals are awarded and everyone packs up and goes home.

So here’s what I’m doing:

1. Learning more about the future. There are significant changes coming, from increased automation to environmental degradation. It’s close to impossible to plan for the future if you don’t have any idea of what’s happening next year.

2. Learning more about economics and social programs. I want to be a part of the effort to improve the economic and social health of Canadians, but I’m still not sure of what that means. There are very exciting ideas being talked about, things like Universal Basic Income, and I want to know more about them.

3. Working on my soft skills. I’m a bit of a jerk, and definitely not a political animal. So I definitely need to think about what I do, in my personal and professional life, and how I can improve my behaviour and my results.

4. Planning my eventual “triumphant return” to somethingAm I running for office? Maybe joining an organization that does stuff. Heck, maybe I’ll just run for mayor. Who knows?

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Is there really any point in talking about it?

Almost every blogger I’ve read in Manitoba who’s covered political issues had mentioned that the NDP has been up to something. Manitoba Hydro Smash-and-Grab, Public Utilities Board Gouge-and-Grab, WRHA Mad-Cow-Expansion-and-Grab, PST Change-The-Law-To-Take-More-Money-and-Grab

But what’s the point in talking about it anymore? So we keep whining about it, and then maybe if we’re “lucky” the NDP will lose and the “Progressive” Conservatives will win and we can start complaining about the upcoming Hydro Privatization-and-Switch, or the Health Care Slash-and-Switch, or the Education Blah-Blah-and-Switch

It’s gangrenous turtles all the way down, folks.

The system rewards parties who polarize. The system rewards candidates who focus on politics at the expense of leadership. And the system rewards the non-partisan bodies that help to maintain it.

So let’s change the system!

Um…

Do we really care enough to do that? To do more than write the occasional diatribe on the Free Press website, more than show up at the occasional reverse-the-decision-now-that-it’s-too-late-to-change-it rally, more than whine at McD’s or Timmies or Sals about those stupid politicians with their heads up their asses?

Not really.

You see, I know this first hand.

I have a blog. And I’ve organized those kinds of rallies more than once. And I can bitch and moan with the best of them. But I don’t think I care enough to see things through…

…because my kids are still healthy, my wife occasionally lessens the pressure of her heel on my throat, and I can still afford to spend lunch at Polo Park sampling thirteen different varieties of steamed white rice at the food court.

So what can I do to change that? What can I do to care more?

Not much. I don’t want Winnipeg to start looking like an exploding slice of Syria just so people start to give a damn.

I’ll take the complacency.

It’s like our lovely Conservative government in Ottawa. I know that Stephen Harper is destroying the Canada I’ve gotten somewhat fond of, tearing down the things that make us special, like our (almost) even-handed foreign diplomacy, our public broadcasting system, our once sacred separation of Stupidity and State.

But all I can do is bide my time and wait for him to screw this country up enough that people finally start voting Liberal again, whether or not the Liberals actually deserve their vote. (actually, this time I think they might deserve it again, but that’s another post that I probably won’t write)

I don’t even have that hope in Manitoba.

I’m worried (and I’m at about one step short of being totally convinced) that Manitoba has fallen into the trap of two parties taking turns screwing things up. The NDP know that no matter how poorly they’ve messed up the books (and I’m getting the impression that it’s as bad as I’d thought), they’ll be re-elected again once the PCs mess things up (probably with the books, too — poor books).

So the NDP raise the PST, so we get angry and vote PC. The PCs don’t end up lowering the rate, and mess up some new stuff. So then the NDP get back in and finally give into the super secret demands of the WRHA to build an 80-story Fortress of Bureaucracy that’s mostly made out of parking garage. So then the PCs take over and pour money into a Pro Skeeball Team, Arena and Condo Complex to “revitalize” Assiniboine Forest. This could go on forever, until finally we look back and say “hey, it doesn’t seem so ridiculous by comparison that the NDP thought they could just change all the laws they didn’t feel like following”.

I’m Canadian. I don’t plan on changing that, like, ever. But I don’t think of myself as a “Manitoban”. Sure, I could make idle threats about moving away, as if I have any real say in the matter (married with children, you see)… but that’s not really the issue. The issue is that I haven’t been a Manitoban for a few years now… I don’t follow local news as much as I should, I let my work deadlines get in the way of my community obligations… and I’ve given up hope that I’ll ever think of myself as a Manitoban again.

To me, that’s sad. Meanwhile, to my neighbours — who think I need to mow my lawn more often — it’s a hopeful harbinger of me finally packing up and leaving forever.

Don’t let my (reasonably justified) neighbours win. Show me that this province is still alive and kicking.

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In the wake of the terrible events in Newtown, Connecticut, there has been an outpouring of opinions and anger, but mostly grief. Obviously Winnipeg has been affected less than New England, but more than other places, with one family having lived in Winnipeg before moving to Newtown. But even if we had no connection aside from the basic feeling of love for the children in our lives, it would still have hit us hard. It did hit us hard long before we knew much about what happened at all.

But the biggest problem with the tragedy in Connecticut is the feeling of complete helplessness. You can hug your child or say a prayer, but for many people that doesn’t feel like enough. For my wife, that didn’t come anywhere close to being enough. So she decided to do something about that.

27 Acts for Newtown began as a way for my wife, Christine, to do something. She knows it won’t help the families in Connecticut, but she knows it helps her cope with the pain, and she knows that it does a little something for other people, too.

The idea is simple: commit 27 acts of kindness, one for each victim. These acts don’t have to be big, but they have to be something that you feel makes the world just that much better.

If you’re interested, you can join the Event on Facebook, or you can just start doing something kind for someone else.

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