Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Coretta Scott King

Today, we lost a true visionary in her own rite - a strong compassionate woman who lived her beliefs. Coretta Scott King carried the message of nonviolence to almost every corner of the globe. She died peacefully in her sleep.
Up until her recent stroke, Scott King remained an active ambassador of peace. She led goodwill missions to many countries in Africa, Latin America, Europe and Asia. She has spoken at many of history's most massive peace and justice rallies. She served as a Women's Strike for Peace delegate to the seventeen-nation Disarmament Conference in Geneva, Switzerland in 1962. She is the first woman to deliver the class day address at Harvard, and the first woman to preach at a statutory service at St. Paul's Cathedral in London.

A life-long advocate of interracial coalitions, in 1974 Mrs. King formed a broad coalition of over 100 religious, labor, business, civil and women's rights organizations dedicated to a national policy of full employment and equal economic opportunity, as Co-Chair of the Full Employment Action Council. In 1983, she brought together more than 800 human rights organizations to form the Coalition of Conscience, sponsors of the 20th Anniversary March on Washington, until then the largest demonstration in Washington, DC. In 1987, she helped lead a national Mobilization Against Fear and Intimidation in Forsyth County, Georgia. In 1988, she re-convened the Coalition of Conscience for the 25th anniversary of the March on Washington. In preparation for the Reagan-Gorbachev talks, in 1988 she served as head of the U.S. delegation of Women for a Meaningful Summit in Athens, Greece; and in 1990, as the USSR was redefining itself, Mrs. King was co-convener of the Soviet-American Women's Summit in Washington, DC.

In 1985 Mrs. King and three of her children were arrested at the South African embassy in Washington, DC, for protesting against apartheid.

One of the most influential African-American leaders of our time, Mrs. King has received honorary doctorates from over 60 colleges and universities; has authored three books and a nationally-syndicated column; and has served on, and helped found, dozens of organizations, including the Black Leadership Forum, the National Black Coalition for Voter Participation, and the Black Leadership Roundtable.

She has dialogued with heads of state, including prime ministers and presidents; and she has put in time on picket lines with welfare rights mothers. She has met with great spiritual leaders, including Pope John Paul, the Dalai Lama, Dorothy Day, and Bishop Desmond Tutu. She has witnessed the historic handshake between Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Chairman Yassir Arafat at the signing of the Middle East Peace Accords. She has stood with Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg when he became South Africa's first democratically-elected president.
A woman of wisdom, compassion and vision, Coretta Scott King tried to make ours a better world. Let us all try to continue her work in our own way and in our own corner of the world, as on ongoing tribute to her goodness.
"Women, if the soul of the nation is to be saved, I believe that you must become its soul."
Coretta Scott King, 1927-2006

Monday, January 30, 2006

Hamas: Time to Read Up................

Is this a sign of a fashion statement, or a reflection of delusional behaviour? Either way, it sends alarm bells my way. Mr. Abu Teir, once a member of the secular Fatah movement, spent 25 years in Israeli jails, where he converted to Islam and emerged as a leader respected by his fellow prisoners. With his henna-dyed, flaming orange beard, he is one of the Islamist movement's best-known faces and is widely expected to be named to a senior cabinet post when Hamas reveals the shape of the next government. He looks like a cross between "Father Who" from the Grinch who carves the roast beast and Eugene Levy in a fake beard with a sprinkle of zaniness thrown in for good measure. Take a look at those eyes?

Democracy ruled the day. Palestinians elected a majority government, run by Hamas. Why did they? Lured by having their basic needs met while struggling in a life of poverty under a corruptive government, they voted to turf out the old and bring in the new. Gee, sounds familiar! However, I think that's as far as that comparison can go. Hamas is a recognized terrorist party. Hamas is dangerously fanatical. Hamas' intentions should be taken seriously and monitored by all. It ran their campaign focused on attacking corruption within the Palestinian Authority and on the failed peace process, and has yet to set out a definitive social agenda beyond its mantra "Islam is the solution."

According to Abu Teir, incoming Hamas government will move quickly to make Islamic sharia “a source” of law in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and will overhaul the Palestinian education system to separate boys and girls and introduce a more Islamic curriculum, a senior official in the movement said yesterday. How far will this be taken?

Mr. Abu Teir, who was No. 2 on the Hamas list of candidates for Wednesday's election, said introducing sharia — a controversial moral and legal code based on the Koran — would be the first act of the new Hamas-controlled Palestinian Legislative Council. " Sharia has a soul in it and is good for all occasions,” Mr. Abu Teir said in an interview with The Globe and Mail.

Under the Sharia law, woman must conform to many customs that promote inferiority. How they dress, who them marry, what they can study, what types of jobs they may have, whom they can communicate with.........the list is endless. The rights of women are greatly diminished under Sharia. It's not known how far Abu Teir and his fervent friends will take the customs. But, it's evident already that there is a fear permeating the middle east that life is going to change violently.

Sharia is just one example of the change. The underlying hatred and strong beliefs in fighting for what they believe is theirs? That has no end.

Robert Fulghum, the author of "All I really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten" is quoted as saying: "An examined life is no picnic." It's true. Sometimes when you take the time to examine your own edges, you find things about yourself and your life that are painful to assess.

I think you can also say............An examine issue is no picnic too. For years, I have paid half attention to the middle east furor; the complicated history of religious fevency and conflict. I read about the terrorist bombings, about the fanatical religious groups, the kidnappings, the torture. I am cognizant of the atrocities in Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Syria, the West Bank and on and on and on.......... Maybe it was just too big to get my head around it. Maybe it just seems so unresolvable. It is and it does..........still.

However, something twigged in me last week when I watched the Palestinan election news. I knew it was more than time for me to learn more about the Middle East and start asking questions. So, I've been reading and I will continue to read, despite the enormity of the problem, and despite the fact that I can't do anything about it. It's time that we all pay more attention to these Islamic terrorist groups.

My head is out of the sand. Is yours?


suicide bombings..............will peace ever be an option?

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Happy Chinese New Year

Today is Chinese New Year, which celebrates the beginning of the Year of the Dog. If you were born in
1922, 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, this is your year!

Chinese New Year starts with the New Moon on the first day of the new year and ends on the full moon 15 days later. It is
celebrated as a family affair, a time of reunion and thanksgiving. The celebration was traditionally highlighted with a religious ceremony given in honor of Heaven and Earth, the gods of the household and the family ancestors.

Here are some interesting and telling characteristics of people born under the sign of the Dog.
  • Dog individuals are the most humanitarian. Fiercely loyal to those they love, Dogs are ever ready to jump to the defense of any member of their family or friends who is being attacked by either word or deed.
  • Born with an innate sense of decency and a need for equalibrium in a chaotic world, Dogs strongly denounce injustice and wrongdoing, generously giving useful and effective advice to those around them.
  • The Dog makes a faithful, honest and courageous friend, and has a deep sense of justice. These people tend to be both magnanimous and prosperous, yet they can also be dogged, guarded, and defensive. Because they genuinely feel they know best, they can sometimes appear bossy.
  • Frequently cynical, he is feared for his sharp tongue and his acid and disagreeable remarks. He gives the impression of looking systematically for faults in everything he touches. This is because he is the world's biggest pessimist and expects nothing out of life. He prefers to live an impeccable life, a life filled with principles and dignity, always willing to be a crusader for a noble ideology.
  • Of all the animals in the Chinese Zodiac, Dogs are the least materialistic for they are unselfish individuals who care more about people than they do about money or success. It doesn't worry them to be without the material comforts. Even if they are in the money, their tastes are simple enough.
  • The loyal Dog makes a splendid captain of industry, a priest, or an educator. Whatever his career, it will have in him a spokesman whose ideas will be profound and often original.
  • Though Dogs have a reputation for not easily entrusting their affections, when they do, those friendships are for life.
  • Romantically, Dogs gives the impression of being cold fish but this appearance is misleading; it's just that they're anxious and doubt their own feelings as they do those of others
  • In love, the most salient characteristic of Dogs is their loyalty.

So what are some of the traditions and customs?
  • Shooting off firecrackers on New Year's Eve is the Chinese way of sending out the old year and welcoming in the New Year. On the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve, every door in the house, and even windows, have to be open to allow the old year to go out.
  • The entire house should be cleaned before New Year's Day.On New Year's Eve, all brooms, brushes, dusters, dust pans and other cleaning equipment are put away. Sweeping or dusting should not be done on New Year's Day for fear that good fortune will be swept away.
  • All debts had to paid by this time. Nothing should be lent on this day, as anyone who does so will be lending all the year. Back when tinder and flint were used, no one would lend them on this day or give a light to others.
  • Everyone should refrain from using foul language and bad or unlucky words. Negative terms and the word "four" (Ssu), which sounds like the word for death, are not to be uttered. Death and dying are never mentioned and ghost stories are totally taboo. References to the past year are also avoided as everything should be turned toward the New Year and a new beginning.
  • If you cry on New Year's day, you will cry all through the year. Therefore, children are tolerated and are not spanked, even though they are mischievous.
  • The first person one meets and the first words heard are significant as to what the fortunes would be for the entire year.
  • It is considered unlucky to greet anyone in their bedroom so that is why everyone, even the sick, should get dressed and sit in the living room.
  • Do not use knives or scissors on New Year's Day as this may cut off fortune.
  • While many Chinese people today may not believe in these do's and don'ts, these traditions and customs are still practiced. These traditions and customs are kept because most families realize that it is these very traditions, whether believed or not, that provide continuity with the past and provide the family with an identity.
May this year bring you prosperity and happiness. Happy New Year

Saturday, January 28, 2006

The Dandelion Has My Smile

Thich Nhat Hanh, founder of Plum Village, a Buddhist retreat village in SW France, has written over 75 spiritual books of prose, poetry and prayer. Born in Vietnam, he has lived in exile in France since the mid-60's, but travels widely as a spiritual guide and leader. I have been reading bits and pieces of his writing. I'm drawn to his accessible messages of peace, awareness and goodwill. Gotta find the time to read more of his insights.

This excerpt is taken from his book entitled, Peace is Every Step.

Enjoy and Smile.

"If a child smiles, if an adult smiles, that is very important. If in our daily lives we can smile, if we can be peaceful and happy, not only we, but everyone will profit from it. If we really know how to live, what better way to start the day than with a smile? Our smile affirms our awareness and determination to live in peace and joy. The source of a true smile is an awakened mind.

How can you remember to smile when you wake up? You might hang a reminder--such as a branch, a leaf, a painting, or some inspiring words--in your window or from the ceiling above your bed, so that you notice it when you wake up. Once you develop the practice of smiling, you may not need a reminder. You will smile as soon as you hear a bird singing or see the sunlight streaming through the window. Smiling helps you approach the day with gentleness and understanding.

When I see someone smile, I know immediately that he or she is dwelling in awareness. This half-smile, how many artists have labored to bring it to the lips of countless statues and paintings? I am sure the same smile must have been on the faces of the sculptors and painters as they worked. Can you imagine an angry painter giving birth to such a smile? Mona Lisa's smile is light, just a hint of a smile. Yet even a smile like that is enough to relax all the muscles in our face, to banish all worries and fatigue. A tiny bud of a smile on our lips nourishes awareness and calms us miraculously. It returns to us the peace we thought we had lost.

Our smile will bring happiness to us and to those around us. Even if we spend a lot of money on gifts for everyone in our family, nothing we buy could give them as much happiness as the gift of our awareness, our smile. And this precious gift costs nothing. At the end of a retreat in California, a friend wrote this poem:

I have lost my smile,
but don't worry.
The dandelion has it.

If you have lost your smile and yet are still capable of seeing that a dandelion is keeping it for you, the situation is not too bad. You still have enough mindfulness to see that the smile is there.

You only need to breathe consciously one or two times and you will recover your smile. The dandelion is one member of your community of friends. It is there, quite faithful, keeping your smile for you.

In fact, everything around you is keeping your smile for you. You don't need to feel isolated. You only have to open yourself to the support that is all around you, and in you. Like the friend who saw that her smile was being kept by the dandelion, you can breathe in awareness, and your smile will return."

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Winter Sirens

I wrote this poem last weekend after the weather went from an unusual balmy afternoon to a wind storm that brought the January cold back to the forefront. My goal was to try to "humanize" the changes.

Winter Sirens

Hypnotic Sirens of sunny complacency
Luminaries of lullabies
Basking in soft jazzy tinges of afternoon light
Luring, alluring desirous tease

Sounds of robin's sweet delight
Down-turned gazing of bashful flirtations
Singing of spring, welcoming hope
Offering surety of thought.

Open arms, providing solace
Siren's demure invitation
Saxophone melodies, whispering sweet refuge
From shivering wintry blight.

Light dims, darkness invades
Fickle façade of allure fades
Reflecting light of doubt
Shoring winds of self-distrust shout.

Shifting gusts of harking wails
Luminary high-pitched Siren's true tales
Enveloping recesses, force of gales
Tucking into unprotected creviced secrets

Cold, biting wind of change
Slapping wall shadows, marking territory
Outstretched, distorted, forcing attention
Dark night howls of apprehension.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

McKenna, Leaving on a Jet Plane

Whoa! A mere few hours have passed since the Canadian election and Paul Martin's resignation. Harper's transition team met publicly for the first time today. And already the soup pot is being stirred. Frank McKenna beat Harper to the punch and handed in his resignation as Canadian Ambassador to the United States. Rightly so. Given their differences in political leanings and beliefs, it would be impossible to develop an effective partnership between the Prime Minister and the Ambassador that would be believed by the public. Here is a copy of his letter:

"Dear Mr. Harper,

I want to extend sincere congratulations on your success in today's election.

It was a hard-fought campaign and you have received a very significant vote of confidence from the Canadian public. I know the feeling of exhilaration when the people express confidence in your leadership and vision.

It has been a great privilege for me to serve as Canada's ambassador to the United States throughout the past year. I was most grateful for your personal support and that of your party during my committee hearing on the appointment. It has also been a tremendous personal satisfaction to have been able to serve with the outstanding men and women of this embassy and consulates across the United States of America. Canadians may not fully appreciate the strength and commitment of these dedicated public servants who serve our country so proudly.

I've always placed great value on the importance of the Canada-U.S. relationship, and, in a short period of time, have learned much about how this critical link can be improved and expanded. In that regard, I would be pleased to offer my full co-operation in sharing insights on management of the many significant and crucial issues that we deal with on a daily basis.

However, I believe you would agree that the enormous value of a political appointment to this position is based on the ability to work intimately with the Canadian government. It is this perception of closeness that provides a strong platform for the Canadian ambassador to advance Canada's interest.

While I would have no difficulty working with you or your government, it would be virtually impossible to establish the appearance of total confidence and support in a jurisdiction where political ambassadorial appointees traditionally resign immediately after an election.

Consequently, it is in the best interest of our nation that I submit to you my resignation as Canada's ambassador to the United States. I would be pleased to continue to serve until such time as a replacement is named or, I could depart more expeditiously if it is your wish.

With warmest personal regards and best wishes for a productive mandate.


Frank McKenna"

Frank McKenna is a competitive political animal, with very good political instincts and timing. I bet he plays a mean game of chess. He may be saying that he hasn't decided to run for the leadership of the Federal Liberal Party. I don't believe it. He saw the writing on the wall. He has aspirations. His bags are packed and he's ready to head north....home to New Brunswick ...home to start planning for the run of his life.

See you at the Fredericton Market, Frank. I'll save you a Samosa.

Maya Angelou's Insightful Lessons

A friend shared these simple insightful life lessons from Maya Angelou with me yesterday. As I read them individually, I was taken by how true each statement is and how for the most part, Angelou had captured a depth of knowledge in a few sentences. What a gift she has.

Which one resonates with you?

"I've learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow."

"I've learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights"

"I've learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you'll miss them when they're gone from your life."

"I've learned that making a "living" is not the same thing as "making a life."

"I've learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance."

"I've learned that you shouldn't go through life with a catcher's mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw some things back."

I've learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision."

"I've learned that even when I have pains, I don't have to be one."

"I've learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back."

"I've learned that I still have a lot to learn."

"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Canadians Voted

We voted yesterday
Results are blue today
More Red, but that's OK
We voted

Harper's hands are tied behind his back
Martin truly got the sack
Light fingered Svend won't be back
We voted

Olivia and Jack can reunite
They'll share their bed everynight
Keep the nation from swinging far right
We voted

Change is in the air
But not enough to scare
The people everywhere
We voted
A minority rules the day
Makes me wonder enough to say
McKenna's on his way
We voted.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Vote Early and Vote Often

With the exception of Aboriginal women, women over the age of 21 who are Canadian citizens were granted the right to vote in federal elections in 1918. It was a hard fought battle, led by a strong willed group of women. Our right to vote should never be taken for granted. Nellie McLung played a key role in orchestrating this change in perception and law.

Born in 1873 in Grey County, Ontario, she was married on August.25, 1896 to Weslie McLung. They moved to Alberta and Nelly became very involved in politics and the movement of suffrage. In 1921 she became a liberal member of the Alberta Legislature. She lead the battle in getting women the right to vote in Manitoba and Alberta.

Nelly once said "We may yet live to see the day when women will be no longer news! And it cannot come too soon. I want to be a peaceful, happy, normal human being, pursuing my unimpeded way through life never having to stop to explain defend, or apologize for my sex." Nelly gave women a challenge to fight with her for women's rights. She was a liberal member of the Alberta legislature from 1921 to 1926 and during this period of time she fought for mother's allowance , public health and nursing services, and free medical and dental services for school children.

Emily Murphy, Nelly Mclung, Louise McKinney, Henrietta Edwards, Irene Parlby, and Judge Murphy were all part of the Persons Case and were nicknamed "The Famous Five." They petitioned the prime minister asking "Does the word ‘person' in Section 24 of the British North America Act include female ‘persons'?" The persons case was in court for a long time.

The Supreme Court of Canada finally decided in April 1928, the women were not "persons" qualified to be appointed to the Senate in Canada. They became discouraged but were not ready to give up. The Privy Council was the highest court of appeal in the British Empire, so they decided to take their case to the Privy Council. After months of consideration, the judges of the Privy Council decided the word ‘persons' does include females. The women had won their fight and women were qualified to sit in the Canadian Senate.

Today is voting day in Canada. More than any federal election in recent years, your vote will count. Exercise this right.......but only once.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

The Election Plots Thicken

Ah.........the excitement and anticipation fills the airwaves and permeates households across this vast nation. Who will win? Who will go down to defeat? Who will rise above the ashes to see the dawning of a new day? OOOOOOOOh! The agony and the ecstacy of an election that has all the trappings of a smutty steamy novel. The twist and turns of storylines as we forge ahead to the climatic ending of a winterlude loaded with intrigue................here are a few to watch unfold tomorrow.

Will Judy Sgro return to political prominence or will she be set adrift to the abyss of consultingland where she can pursue her true calling......helping Russian lap dancers settle comfortably somewhere in the Golden Horseshoe?

Will Al Gretzky, in London West, uncle to the Great One, score a big upset while he pursues his second career and personal passion for politics? Cudos to you Al for putting forth an active display of making change to the issues you talked about. More citizens need to take your lead.

Will Peter Kent, brother of "Scud Stud" Arthur, and only (former) CBC employee to ever support the Tories let alone run for them, knock off Cabinet Minister Carolyn Bennett who won by a landslide last election?

Will Anne McLellan, who only won by 721 votes last time return to Ottawa with her joie de vivre and her voice stuck on whine? Makes one pine for the good old days of Sharon Carstairs.

Will that feisty senior, King of the New Democrats, Ed Schreyer, storm ahead and land in the political fray once again?

Svend...........Hedy..........Svend...........Hedy.....eh what?
I have only one thing to say. I'm glad I'm not living in this riding.

Michael Ignatieff, Mighty cerebral Prince of the future Liberals.......what will happen to him? Will he be around to celebrate over a plate of cabbage rolls and perogies? Or will he drown his sorrows over a glass of vodka?

And Belinda...............Princess of Auto Parts..........heartbreaker of knitter Peter McKay. What will be her destiny? If she happens to win and end up in the boudoir of opposition, will she change her satin sheets again, or will she just run for cover?

Stock up on the beer and popcorn boys and girls. You won't want to leave your sofa!

The true end result of this election may not even matter to us minions who spend our time just trying to etch out a balancing act called life. But, it'll be a fun conclusion to the latest reality show. Gee, I wonder if Rupert will show up in his tie dye muscle shirt? I wish he was running. I'd vote for him in a heartbeat.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Ooooops, Your Keen Interest is Showing

Is it my imagination or are more people interested in this election than in recent ones? Maybe Canadians should go to the polls in January more often. Maybe winter is when we have more time to follow the flagellating political fellows amble across this vast and magnificent country. During the post-Christmas period, Canadians.........the ones who have to remain here to keep the fires burning while the others fly off to hot climes.........are political animals. It helps us hibernate. It fills in the gaps in between periods of Hockey Night in Canada. It gives us another topic to discuss in the Tim's line-up other than the blessed weather.

Advance polls are up 31%?
1500 students at the Unversity of New Brunswick took the time to vote on campus. Some waited two hours to cast their ballot. Amazing!

No, there doesn't seem to be the projected inertia-like ennui that everyone kept yakking about when the election was initially called. Everyone has an opinion and everyone wants to espouse it. I have had more interesting discussions about politics and this election with colleagues than I can ever remember.

So, what's the real reason? It's the drama of a scandal. It's the anticipation one feels watching a "to be continued" TV series. It's the gripping interest one has reading a mystery novel, wanting to get to the end to know who's guilty. Yup, this election has the same ingredients.

Up in the polls, down in the polls....up, down, up, down............scandal, misstep, verbal gaffe............up, down, up, down...................

Will Harperite candidates (the ones who are duct taped) gaffe out on this last weekend and flash us with their naked truth? Is Martin, flag cape and all going down in flames? Will Jack be left on the left hand side of the road? What about Olivia? Will she be able to swing her mighty left wing power and knock off a Liberal Cabinet Minister? And that Deborah Coyne, the woman who bore Trudeau's love child? Does she really have a hope in hell of defeating Layton?

What about Svend? Is the NDP shoplifter going to be elected? How about Tony Valeri.......the nice guy who stole Sheila Copps constituency. Is he really going to lose to the NDP candidate that Sheila has decided to support after all her loyal years as a Liberal? Will Duceppe and the Separatistes end up the Official Opposition? How many Tory seats in Quebec at the end of the voting day? Will Peter McKay take up knitting???

Minority, Majority, Minority, Majority,......up in the polls, down in the polls......Momentum swinging back and forth. So many unanswered questions. So many storylines that need to be tied up.

It's going to be a great ending to what would have been a very boring January.

Stay tuned............

Friday, January 20, 2006

Some Thoughts on Integrity

What kind of person are you if you have lost your integrity? What is integrity? For some reason (could it be my continuing ruminations about this upcoming election?) the word jumped out at me today and since then I have been wrestling with the concept. Of course, the more I thought about it, the more questions came to mind. It appears that "integrity" is not as concretely defined as I had expected. Why? Because it really represents several values and characteristics all rolled into one word.

Truth, justice, honesty, sincerity, self-respect, honour, veracity, reliability, respect for others, authenticity, trustworthiness, solid convictions, faith, fairness, lawful.......goodness. It is the foundational core that guides a person to live with dignity and respect. It allows us to make choices in compliance with societal and moral values especially when we are tested and confronted with a personal or professional dilemma that clashes with these values.

It is the truth that lives within us.

It is the truth that we project out to the world. Integrity is a double sided mirror. One may be able to reflect a facade of sincerity and integrity out to the world, but if it isn't anchored in truth, one cannot deny or run away from the lie felt within. Sure, you may be able to deny it for a while, but if you are living a life guided by principles, the only way to regain personal integrity is to admit wrong doing, learn from it, forgive yourself and move on.

Self-knowledge and a clear understanding of the principles of moral behaviour are crucial in developing and maintaining personal integrity. You have to know yourself, understand your own personal conflicts and have the foundational values and belief to guide you when you find yourself in a situation where your integrity is tested. This grounds you, and allows for consistency and balance in your ultimate decision. It also allows you to be able to hold steadfastly true to your commitments, whether it is for something minor like meeting a work related deadline for a project, or more substantial like being a commited friend or partner. To act with integrity is to act in a way that accurately reflects your sense of who you are; to act from motives, interests and commitments that are most deeply your own.

My thoughts thus far........... I have a feeling that this is a concept I'll be tossing around in my head for a long time.

Character, in the long run, is the decisive factor in the life of an individual and of nations alike.
Theodore Roosevelt.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Missteps, two steps, missed the whole step.

Like the Wicked Witch of the West did when Dorothy threw a pail of water on her, "Captain Canada" and the Liberals are melting away............down, down, down in the polls.......... all that is left is a puddle, a black hat and a charred broom................

It isn't happening over one reason only. The sponsorship scandal and Gomery may have opened the eyes of Canadians and forced them to consider the need for change, but so many other factors played into the demise of the House of Liberals. These factors bore fissures into their very foundation.

Martin began his leadership bid on the defence by starting up before Chretien even stepped down. By using this tactic, he drove a wedge through his own party, publicly splitting alliances, forcing colleagues to choose sides. He also surrounded himself with a crew of individuals that seemed to bow to him, and when that happens tunnel vision occurs. Consequently, when the sponsorship scandal hit the fan, he found himself leader of a Party whose house had cracks in the ceiling and uneven floors. He had no caucus solidarity to shore things up.

He then started turfing loyal Liberals whom he felt weren't loyal to him. All of a sudden, it became apparent that this man who projected himself in a confident, trustworthy manner, who had the ability to lead the country's economic future as Finance Minister, was being seen in a new light. He was hungry for power. He would step over fellow Liberals to grab the brass ring. The party came second to one man's personal vision. Still, at this point, Canadians were willing to give him a step up.

Then came the missteps.........the scandal, the childish public brow beating between two leaders, the ongoing Gomery drama and an election. It was an election that the Liberals entered feeling confident that they would come out on top with a majority. Their plan? Attack the enemy, throw out negative ads, allow them to hang themselves and stumble. No need to provide a visionary plan for the country. No need to offer any inspirational speeches that would begin to bring the country together. The Conservatives played right into it, allowing renegades to mouth off inappropriately, and showing a team of Alliance and PC's that hadn't yet merged forces. And yet, the Liberals were lucky to get out of that election alive. Subtle change was in the air.......distrust left dust marks all over the house of Liberals.

So, now we're four days away from what looks like a Conservative majority; one that would see Tories voted in across the country in every province. The fissures that started erupting before the first election turned into irreparable cracks. How did this happen?

The Liberals felt that they could run exactly the same campaign as they did 18 months ago. They may have changed their slogan, but they neglected to even alter the timelines of their negative ad attack, or their browbeating fearmongering because they were confident that the Conservatives would shoot themselves in the foot again. Wrongo! It's pretty obvious that after the last loss, Harper and crew revamped, and revitalized their gameplan with new faces and new approaches. Surprise! Quick off the mark, on the offensive, we learned of new policies, a more mellowed vision for the country from the same political party that scared us last time around.

You can't win a game just playing defence. You can't win an election without at least trying to take the lead. You can't win an election if your house isn't in order. If you have lost your sense of loyalty to your party, and you begin to feel that your personal goal is more important than the good of the party.........you just can't win. It's time for the Liberals to retreat to their battered house and do some repairs.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Melodies and Lyrics

When was the last time you heard an old song that triggered a flood of thoughts of your past? All of a sudden, you find yourself transported back to a group of friends, a particular party, a memorable point in time which then makes you wonder all the more about where those people are now, and whatever happened to so and so...... It's a trip when that occurs. You could be in the process of tackling some mundane everyday task and then all of a sudden, your thoughts are whisked away to rememberland.

What about a new tune that seemed to jump out of the speakers and grab hold of your attention? You know those songs that pierce you in a way that a thousand others never did? Was it the melody that made you want to get up and dance? Did the words somehow capture your own feelings or questions about life? Did it remind you of another song or a particular person, or was it just the perfect background music to the activity that you were pursuing?

There is no doubt in my mind that music plays a key role in shaping both my life memories and my present memory making moments. There are songs that are very meaningful just to me for various reasons. Then, there are some that I share with people I care about because our relationship or experiences together include a particular soundtrack.

Yesterday, driving to work with my family, it happened again. Jackson Browne's song, Running On Empty came on the radio. It was a huge hit in my teen years and I can't remember the last time I had heard it over the airwaves. I hadn't thought about the song in years. And yet, as soon as I heard the first couple of notes and recognized Browne's distinctive voice and sound, I perked up. Suddenly, I'm singing the words, and wondering about my high school friends with a smile on my face.

Last summer, while attending my camp reunion, the Camp Director, who was my first true mentor, with whom I remain close to, told me that whenever he hears Harry Chapin's anthem "All My Life's Circle," he thinks of me. I had introduced years ago at a Sunday chapel and had taught it to the camp. For the 20+ years that followed after I had left camp and moved on, Chapin's song continued to be sung at campfires and quiet singsongs. To be linked to a song memory made me feel linked in time to a special place and more importantly to a special person in my life. What an honour.

Songs definately add zest and vitality to our lives. Some encapsulate important times in our past, and some that are playing now help shape our thoughts and moments as we live them. A melody can trigger strong emotions. The right phrase can capture exactly what you may be thinking.

Enjoy the music in your life............and take time to enjoy the memories that arrive with the first note of a familiar tune. And never hesitate to test out your vocal chords!

Monday, January 16, 2006

Martin Luther King

The following is an excerpt from Soul Survivor by Phillip Yancey. In it, he describes the genesis of a great leader, Martin Luther King. Today is set aside as Martin Luther King Day in the United States. We all know his infamous speech, "I have a Dream." What I didn't know what how King entered the civil rights foray, and about his trepidations. Reading this excerpt made me realize how this great man who transformed thinking in America, started out as an individual with a strong faith and a belief that he could possibly make a difference with the help of God's guidance. That was his foundation.

"King had been thrust into civil rights leadership in Montgomery, Alabama, after Rosa Parks had made her brave decision not to move to the back of the bus. The black community formed a new organization to lead a bus boycott and by default chose as a compromise candidate for its leadership the new minister in town, King, who at age twenty-six looked "more like a boy than a man." Growing up in middle-class surroundings, with a kind of inherited religion from his preacher father, he hardly felt qualified to lead a great moral crusade.

As soon as King's leadership of the movement was announced, the threats from the Klan began. Not only the Klan-within days King was arrested for driving 30 miles per hour in a 25 mph zone and thrown into the Montgomery city jail. The following night King, shaken by his first jail experience, sat up in his kitchen wondering if he could take it anymore. Should he resign? It was around midnight. He felt agitated, and full of fear. A few minutes before, the phone had rung. "Nigger, we are tired of you and your mess now. And if you aren't out of this town in three days, we're going to blow your brains out, and blow up your house."

King sat staring at an untouched cup of coffee and tried to think of a way out, a way to quietly surrender leadership and resume the serene life of scholarship he had planned. In the next room lay his wife Coretta, already asleep, along with their newborn daughter Yolanda. Here is how King remembers it in a sermon he preached:

And I sat at that table thinking about that little girl and thinking about the fact that she could be taken away from me any minute. And I started thinking about a dedicated, devoted and loyal wife, who was over there asleep. . . . And I got to the point that I couldn't take it anymore. I was weak. . . .
And I discovered then that religion had to become real to me, and I had to know God for myself. And I bowed down over that cup of coffee. I never will forget it. . . . I prayed a prayer, and I prayed out loud that night. I said, "Lord, I'm down here trying to do what's right. I think I'm right. I think the cause that we represent is right. But Lord, I must confess that I'm weak now. I'm faltering. I'm losing my courage."
. . . And it seemed at that moment that I could hear an inner voice saying to me, "Martin Luther, stand up for righteousness. Stand up for justice. Stand up for truth. And lo I will be with you, even until the end of the world." . . . I heard the voice of Jesus saying still to fight on. He promised never to leave me, never to leave me alone. No never alone. No never alone. He promised never to leave me, never to leave me alone.

Three nights later, as promised, a bomb exploded on the front porch of King's home, filling the house with smoke and broken glass but injuring no one. King took it calmly: "My religious experience a few nights before had given me the strength to face it."

King drew strength from that memory at every hinge moment in his life. For him it became the bedrock of personal faith, an anointing from God for a particular task. As I read accounts of King's life, and his many references to that night, I am struck by the simplicity of the message he received: "I am with you." Those words convey an underlying theme of the Bible: the Immanuel ("God with us") presence of God. Over the next thirteen years of his career, King had other religious experiences, and many moments of crisis, but none to match what happened that night at his kitchen table. This one word sufficed."

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Random Acts of Kindness

"If you were arrested for kindness, would there be enough evidence to convict you?"

The other day, just before 9 am, I parked my car at the curb got out and proceeded to dig through my wallet for change for the parking meter. As I was just about to put the money in, a familiar looking man who was standing on the sidewalk begging for money said to me:

"Don't put your money in that parking meter, dear. You don't have to pay for parking until 9 am. Give it to me and I will put it in the meter when it needs to go in."

Was it the way he said it, so kindly and with a smile on his face that made me give him the money and some for his troubles? Yes. I trusted that he would follow through on his promise. I smiled, he smiled.......we both felt a quick connection of kindness that made me walk away with a lighter step.

A random act of kindness from a stranger.........brings buoyancy to both spirits.

Yesterday, as I was running up the steps to the front door of my office building, I noticed a young woman struggling with her new baby and with all the acoutrements that one has to lug around. My quick second assessment was that she was a bit overwhelmed with the task of getting up the steps, through two sets of doors and into the building. I stopped in my tracks, and turned to help her maneouver her way. Within that same moment, she exclaimed that her baby, only 2 months old and that this was their first time venturing downtown. She was nervous and self-conscious and all thumbs. We spoke briefly in the foyer..........me coooing over the sleeping babe, and she asking for directions, and then our encounter was over. I felt good about helping her and getting a "baby fix" (there are only two types of people in this world: Baby people and the rest of the world) and she left relieved and a little more confident to continue on with her personal business.

A random act of kindness to a stranger.........echoes through both people.

On an errand today to pick up a birthday present, I had all intentions of running into the store, blitzing the shelves and getting out of there as quickly as my feet would take me. Head down, no eye contact.........plowing through. As I rushed passed the flower section, I was bowled over by the scent of the hiacynths. Flowers are my other achilles heel. Of course, I stopped to admire the pots filled with spring, and my eyes fell on a small grouping of yellow tulips. Impulsively, I picked them up, and for 4 bucks, took them home with me. They are now sitting on my desk to admire as I write this posting. A little pick-me-up on a rainy January day. It makes me feel renewed.

A random act of kindness to yourself.............don't ever forget yourself!

Though it may seem sometimes that your kindness is not always recognized right away or appreciated, there is no doubt in my mind that every act has an impact. In fact, I think that the less it seems to be acknowledged, the more it is needed. If someone is so oblivious to an offer of kindness, that person REALLY needs a little boost.
One never knows when a simple smile, a small acknowledgement of another individual, can make a big difference.

There really is no such thing as a small act of kindness because it has a ripple effect. If it is felt, it is passed on. So, toss out a few pebbles of acknowledgement. Smile at the cashier, hark out a hearty hello to a neighbour, take the time to hold the door for someone, and if you have a hankering to buy some flowers, a glossy magazine, gosh...... or even a new Carrie Underwood CD for yourself..........Go right ahead!

Nothing bad comes from spreading and experiencing good cheer..............

"The best portion of a good man's life is his little, nameless unremembered acts of kindness and of love." William Wadsworth.

Friday, January 13, 2006

The Symphony of the Frozen Saint John River

When the howling wolfwind finally passes by
And the trees return upright to silouette the sky
You are left with a portrait of twinkling lights
Nestled in boughs covered in wintry white.

The ice grows thicker on the river below
It too is blanketed by the fresh fallen snow.
Leaving an impression that it has gone to sleep
Stopped in it's tracks, slumbering so deep.

But the river knows no sleep, as it continues to flow
Under the veneer of ice and cold and snow
It awaits for the visitors who are wide AWAKE
To alight on it's banks to hear it's lyrical quake.

What is the symphonic sound far below,
Under the veneer of ice and cold and snow?
Ancestral ghosts, their history to share
With receptive folks who are fully AWARE!

Thursday, January 12, 2006

The Man Who Walks With Dinosaurs

Stockwell Day.... Will he evolve too?

What a difference 2 weeks, a bunch of Liberal missteps and gaffes, an "evolved" Stephen Harper, another RCMP investigation and a Mike Duffy explosion can make. The Conservatives are in the lead...........double digit lead no less. Who'd a thunk it? Bring on the negative ads boys.........too bad it's a bit too late. Unless of course one of those right-wing redneck Candidates starts mouthing off like they did in the last election, which would tip the lead back to the Liberals, the Conservatives are poised to win this thing. The gaffes are NOT going to happen this time. Harper's crew purchased some duct tape and closed those embarrassing traps, I think.

Heck, Harper may even win a couple of seats in Quebec. Quel surprise!

So what happens if the Conservatives pull this one off? Will the duct-taped rednecks be free to espouse their off colour beliefs, or will they be relegated to the back of the backbench? Let's hope so. There are several well respected, perceived level headed types that will most likely take on Cabinet positions. Tony Clement, Monte Solberg, Chuck Strahl (are we seeing any female names in and around this crew??) and maybe even Peter McKay, if he can stop from falling into another blinding lovenest, will most definately be invited into the inner circle. I could live with that. Where things get all queasy and wobbly for me is when I wonder what the heck Harper will do with Stockwell Day.

Remember him? Has anyone spoken to him recently? Does he still believe that Man and Dinosaurs hung out together?

Not a darn thing in the papers about him as he quietly campaigns on the other end of the country. Stockwell Day, External Affairs Critic for the Conservative Opposition............is he pegged to become the next Minister of External Affairs? Can Harper maintain the duct tape over the mouth of Stockwell/Doris Day? The thought of this man representing our country in international boardrooms is mind boggling. Given the comments and concerns of his fellow Conservatives, I think I'm in pretty good company with respect to my concerns.

"How can anybody when their track record has been completely contrary to a building exercise, driving people apart, driving wedges, have any credibility or be believable that he can bring people together?"- Conservative MP Peter MacKay reacting to Stockwell Day's proposal to merge the Conservative and Alliance Parties, June 14th, 2001.

"Mr. Day is a past master of reducing complex arguments to bill boards... I'm not sure if he's running for Prime Minister or game show host."- Joe Clark on Stockwell Day during the 2000 leaders debate.

Stock doesn't need any help shooting himself in the foot. He's a master at that. A few neanderthal comments from the guy in the wetsuit:

"Homosexuality is a choice, in my view."- Stockwell Day on a Vancouver radio talk show, July 2000.

"Women who become pregnant through rape or incest should not qualify for government-funded abortions unless their pregnancy is life-threatening."- Stockwell Day, 1995, at an Alberta Conservative party convention.

"Homosexuality is a mental disorder that can be cured through counselling."- Stockwell Day, February of 1992, quoted in Alberta Report.

"I would expect the support of the party no matter what happens... even if I were to kill my grandmother with an axe."- Then-Alliance leader Stockwell Day, according to various MPs, June 2001.

"I want to know how many women in Alberta are physically battered and not just insulted by their husbands... If we talk insulted by their husbands, then I'm afraid that I'm guilty from time to time of abusing my wife."- Stockwell Day, 1987, disputing a poll indicating one million women had been abused physically, emotionally, sexually or economically.

Those last two comments.........were they supposed to be funny? Hardee har har har!

The front page of the Globe and Mail yesterday quoted Stephen Harper saying that he has evolved. Will Stock evolve too, or is that evolutionary process longer than the 4 year political window?

The evolution of the brain not only overshot the needs of prehistoric man, it is the only example of evolution providing a species with an organ which it does not know how to use” Arthur Koestler

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

I Got my Fix............

I almost didn't do it. I almost passed on the opportunity. It seemed too much of a burden. Who has the time, I thought. Why make my life more hectic? Havent I been griping about wanting to pare things down......to simplify my world? Why have another beanbag tossed into the juggling circle that will fight for airspace with all my other work and familial obligations? Am I nuts?

No, I'm not nuts. I'm an addict. And like any addict, I needed a fix. Except, my fix isn't purchased in a back alley. I don't have to sneak out at midnight for a drive-by acquisition. Oh no! My fix is satisfied in front of a group of people teaching. And last night, after fretting, planning, sweating, worrying, working, thinking, writing, organizing, contemplating and preparing some more, I finally had my debut teaching a University Counselling course to a bunch of wide-eyed individuals. And it was an absolute high!

I have often compared teaching/facilitating to directing a play or organizing an event. Same skills, and actually same level of satisfaction for me. But there is an added attraction to teaching. You get to encourage critical thinking, the joy of learning and the opportunity for creative interaction......all the while allowing yourself to be a recipient of those activities as well.
William Glasser, the Reality Therapy/Choice Theory guru would state that I'm fulfilling some need that I have. It's true. I do have a high need for love and belonging......being connected to people and all that. But the real need that gets fulfilled (apart from the fact that I have a need to act out) is freedom. I am free to be me.....outgoing, outrageous, enthusiastic, emotionally open! That's me. Facilitating a course, especially on a topic that is close to my heart, is one of the most "freeing" activities that I have found.

However, I don't think my approach to teaching nor my methods of encouraging open-ended discussions, sharing jokes, being receptive to sharing personal stories etc, is the norm at the University. My previous teaching challenges have been with frontline staff or at the Community College where I taught many courses and was able to provide an informal environment to learning. I had few parameters to stay within. This time around, I have entered the "hall of academia," full of history and pomp and lecturing. Not my thing! My feeling is that University hasn't changed much since I attended. It's relatively staid. Professors stand in front of the room and drone on and on, oblivious to the incessant snoring occuring in the front row. So, when I came bounding into the classroom chatting about this and that before my course started, I was intially stared at in wonder.

But..........by the time the break was to take place..........I had one chatty group on my hands surprised that an hour and a half had already slipped by.

Last night, I found my "flow" again. Despite my overzealous anxiety beforehand that was brought on by not knowing even where the classroom was ahead of time and all those kind of details, once I walked into that classroom, the "fix was on." I was in the zone as I literally brought my work experiences and counselling stories from the real world into academia. And it worked. My teaching style, which has always felt like a tailored fit for interacting with adult learners, was well received.

As I gathered my materials at the end of the evening and walked out the door towards my car, one of my new students walked along with me. When we both turned in opposite directions to carry on, she said. "It was a good class. I really enjoyed it. Thanks. Have a wonderful week."

I don't think I could've felt any higher. It was a whirling, twirling, swirling feeling of bliss. And I almost passed up the chance to experience it. Nosirrreeeee........I can handle one more beanbag in my bag of tricks. It's well worth it.

“More important than the curriculum is the question of the methods of teaching and the spirit in which the teaching is given”
Bertrand Russell

Monday, January 09, 2006

A Healthy Workplace

After a two week sojourn, I find myself back in my office, glad to be here. There's still the paperwork and the blessed red tape of bureaucracy, but today I can handle that side of things. Why? Because this is the place where I belong. I am surrounded by "emotionally present" individuals whom I spend my workdays with.
All day, in between appointments, my colleagues have dropped by to welcome me back, to share their Christmas stories and to find out how my holidays went. Genuinely interested.......having thought about me and my family. Questions about how excited my children were opening their presents, about family and friends and turkey dinners and New Year's parties.......did my husband like the present that I had given him that I had told them about? No earth shattering inquiries. Just nice friendly interested small talk that makes up a sense of comraderie.

I have also learned a lot today, just listening to others. Through some of the conversations about Christmas experiences, recent readings, perceptions on the upcoming election, new resolutions........people have opened up and shared ideas, thoughts and themselves.

A healthy workplace generates interactions and appreciation for others. There is a palpable enthusiasm that spreads, especially if one feels acknowledged and listened to. However, one has to be aware of one's attitude and how that is being projected. If one is open to interactions and new ideas......smile on your face, focused listening, expressive questioning..........your attitude shines onto others. It truly is infectious.

While the Management spends two days downstairs meeting to plan whatever they need all that time to plan for, the rest of us are investing our days working in the frontlines, supporting one another, sharing our personal stories and managing our own mission for being here. Interesting.

Maybe I should suggest to those busy Managers who are crunching numbers, looking at stats and trying to find a way to change the service delivery or some such thing that they should go back to the drawing board and read the FISH! Philosophy. But, then again..........they'd probably read it, arrange for another meeting to discuss the philosophy and then move onto the next item on their agenda.....developing their staff's workplans without input from us.

Best stay in touch with the frontlines..............

Sunday, January 08, 2006


Epiphanies. Almost everyone has them. Without them we would walk through life asleep and unaware. How amazing is it when all of a sudden, you are stopped in your tracks with a breath of realization that allows you to radiantly comprehend a piece of yourself that had been hidden from you?

Aha moments............powerful, spiritual, thought altering.

These are the blips in life that can literally take your breath away with new realization. Self-learning, overwhelmed moments of happiness, and sometimes fear..........fear that comes with the realization that perceptions have changed. .........happiness that comes with the realization that perceptions have changed..........it all depends on the circumstances.

Epiphanies. Almost everyone has them......if you are open to receiving their lessons. They can define our humanity by allowing a new window to open to a bright opportunity or way of viewing an individual that may cross your path. They almost always arrive with a basket of emotions. They can appear with a sudden rush of tears, or a sense of welcoming hope.........or even a healthy dose of cynicism.

Learning, teachable moments...........often leaving a permanent mark that allows you to see something differently. I strive for them.........look for them like a bursting shooting star on a summer night. More often than not, they sneak up on you and catch you in an "unaware" moment. They bring a smile to your face because you are caught "not looking."

A divine firefly in the dark night..........vanishing before you have time to blink........revealing a new perspective.........a new awareness............a new storyline for your life.

Epiphanies........unexpected moments that stop you in your tracks..........they can happen anytime, anywhere............with anyone you meet.

Enjoy and embrace the moments of ephiphanous learning. Share them with others, and be a part of someone else's aha moments!

Quotes from a Leader? Heaven Help Us.

Here are a few G.W. Bushisms from 2005.............and a few more from previous years that are worth contemplating and remembering..........

"[I]t's a myth to think I don't know what's going on. It's a myth to think that I'm not aware that there's opinions that don't agree with mine, because I'm fully aware of that." —George W. Bush, Philadelphia, Pa., Dec. 12, 2005

"Wow! Brazil is big." —George W. Bush, after being shown a map of Brazil by Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Brasilia, Brazil, Nov. 6, 2005

We've got a lot of rebuilding to do. First, we're going to save lives and stabilize the situation. And then we're going to help these communities rebuild. The good news is -- and it's hard for some to see it now -- that out of this chaos is going to come a fantastic Gulf Coast, like it was before. Out of the rubbles of Trent Lott's house -- he's lost his entire house -- there's going to be a fantastic house. And I'm looking forward to sitting on the porch." --George W. Bush, touring hurricane damage, Mobile, Ala., Sept. 2, 2005

"I'm looking forward to a good night's sleep on the soil of a friend." —George W. Bush, on visiting Denmark, Washington D.C., June 29, 2005

"See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda." —George W. Bush, Greece, N.Y., May 24, 2005

"It's in our country's interests to find those who would do harm to us and get them out of harm's way." —George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., April 28, 2005

"Justice ought to be fair." —George W. Bush, speaking at the White House Economic Conference, Washington, D.C., Dec. 15, 2004

"I have a record in office, as well. And all Americans have seen that record. September the 4th, 2001, I stood in the ruins of the Twin Towers. It's a day I will never forget." —George W. Bush, Marlton, New Jersey, Oct. 18, 2004

"I couldn't imagine somebody like Osama bin Laden understanding the joy of Hanukkah." —at a White House menorah lighting ceremony, Washington, D.C., Dec. 10, 2001

“We found the weapons of mass destruction. We found biological laboratories … And we'll find more weapons as time goes on. But for those who say we haven't found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they're wrong, we found them." Washington, D.C., May 30, 2003

"There's an old saying in Tennessee — I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again." —Nashville, Tenn., Sept. 17, 2002

"Too many good docs are getting out of the business. Too many OB-GYNs aren't able to practice their love with women all across this country." —Poplar Bluff, Mo., Sept. 6, 2004

"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we." —Washington, D.C., Aug. 5, 2004

Hmmmmmmmmmm.........Wow! Right some smart firecracker he is.........

Friday, January 06, 2006

Break out the Tequilla, Sheila

She's like a gnat that just won't go away, our Sheila. The former flag waving Heritage Minister, now columnist for the Toronto Sun and author of a tell-all, behind-the-scenes look at Ottawa.......the former Liberal Deputy PM who now supports the NDP candidate in her old riding, is most likely on the latest RCMP questioning list. Now that the Mounties are investigating the 4.8 million dollar dish out to an organization called Option Canada, how long will it take before Ms. Copps' role is clarified for all?

Option Canada, an offshoot of the Canadian Unity Council, appears to have been created in September 1995, in order to receive the money from the Department of Heritage just 17 days before the envelope of cash was distributed. According to various articles in francophone newspapers, circa 1997, many questions were asked about the organization, the money transaction and what it was spent on then.

It turns out, Option Canada had an executive that never met, had no financial statements filed, and no official record kept. It turns out that the money, sent in three transactions over a couple of months was set up as a subsidy so that it fell under the accounting and tendering radar. It turns out that Option Canada was merely an address with a mail slot. This story, like how many others, was published and buried while we moved onto other news stories. It was brought up in Question Period too, but it didn't lead to any investigations. Now, more than 10 years after the fact, the RCMP have decided to investigate AND announce it in the middle of the election.

When asked about the 4.8 million dollar transaction to a mail slot, the amount of which was 5 times more than legitimate organizations supporting Francophone and Acadian communities received, Ms. Copps donned one of the millions of flags that her department had distributed and stated:
"I never make excuses when I fight for my country."

Thank God we had Sheila fighting for our country during that whole referendum debacle.

Ever since the Sponsorship scandal was revealed, I have been wondering aloud how and why Chretien's "Deputy Captain Canada" hadn't been involved in the ongoing inquiry. How could the Heritage Minister who was basically given carte blanche to squander millions of dollars on flags that can't even fly, dodge the Gomery bullet? It's not like she's a quiet-as-a-mouse wallflower type. She had to have been in there like a dirty shirt.

Has her time come to be in the scandal spotlight? Will the scrum that she has recently joined turn on her? Will the NDP Candidate in Hamilton drop her support? Is there a crusty old geezer named John Crosbie having a good chuckle this morning?

Time to break out the tequilla, Sheila. You may need a swig.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

The Common Good?

This morning, I enrolled in a self-directed political science class determined to learn what was meant by "Captain Canada's" ongoing use of the term "the common good." According to Mr. Martin, the Liberals espouse it and the Conservatives aint got it. Every news clip I happened upon yesterday, Mr. "I Love Canada" dropped the concept into his speech as an attempt to smear his opponent. Problem was...........like many other Canadians, I didn't quite know what he was referring to. Granted, I was able to make a sound guess and grasp the basic premise of the catch-all phrase. However, I was still left wondering what exactly he meant by it. What did "the common good" encompass?

It stuck in my craw. Curiosity took over. Lo and behold, I hit information paydirt thanks to my old reliable friend, Herr Google. It turned out that my first year political science class also encompassed philosophy, ethics and religious teachings. Who knew??? Now, I think I have enough information and questions to be able to write a pretty darn good paper on the subject. But not today.............today I will share a synopsis, as linearly as I am able.

  • Originated over 2000 years ago, the common good is a philosophical notion found in the writings of Plato and Aristotle.
  • Thomas Aquinas elaborated on the topic extensively by reviewing Aristotle's work and expanding on it through his perception. (I invite you to use the link to access an interpretation of his Aquinas' thoughts)
  • Contemporary ethicist, John Rawls (brother of Lou, perhaps?) defined it as "certain general conditions that are equally to everyone's advantage."
  • The Catholic Church has defined it as "the sum of those conditions of social life which allow social groups and their individual members realtively thorough and ready access to their own fullfillment."

This is what I think............

The common good is the foundational social system that includes institutions, laws and a supportive environment that benefits all people. Examples? Accessible health care to all, an effective public safety system, a democratic and just political system, clean water, access to income support when needed, a clean environment, an untarnished and flourishing economic system.............etc. Given this, it's pretty darn apparent that every social problem in one way or another is connected to how well these systems and institutions are functioning.

Why then does the Liberal Party feel that they have the market cornered on the "common good?" Furthermore, havent they messed it up?
  • Accessible health care? Sure it's accessible, but we all know someone who waited way too long for a surgery or cancer tests. So many communities don't have enough doctors to meet the demands. This has been an ongoing problem for years now. Not good.
  • Effective public safety? What about the cutbacks in personnel? Are our borders patrolled effectively? Increased gang and gun culture violence in our major cities. Not good.
  • A democratic and just political system. The corruption highlight in the Gomery inquiry, to name one example. Where did Gagliano go after he was forced out of office in 2002? Dingwall? Not good.
  • An untarnished and flourishing economic system. Well, supposedly the economy is doing well, but who the heck knows?? Who can rely on the statistics that emanate out of Ottawa? Income trust investigation? Not good.

The Liberal Party has mocked the common good. Where does Martin get off paternalistically blathering on about how his party is the only party that represents Canada's values, when in fact they have done their best to tarnish the very infrastructure of our way of life? C'mon!

It's time for a change. It's time for this country's perception that the Liberal Party is Canada to change. What do the people of this country want? How much government intervention do we really need and want? What are our collective values?

I'm all for the common good, now that I know what it means, but I also think too much of a good thing is, well too much! I'm no Libertarian, but how far does the government have the right to espouse their values and definition of the common good on the Jane Q. Citizen? Does the "common good" concept strive for a "birth to death" social system whereby the individual takes no responsibility for their actions and purpose in life? Are there people out there that take advantage of the system, not assume responsibility for upholding the maintainance of the infrastructure? Where do you draw the line?

The Red Tory in me strongly believes shared infrastructure should not be dismissed outrightly because it does represent the values of community, while challenging all members to respect the choices others make in pursuing their individualism. But how does one accomodate the opinions and values of all citizens? Also, are there members of the community who carry an unequal share of the burden? For example, making employment opportunities more equal may in turn require that some sacrifice their employment chances. That doesn't seem just.

No one party has the corner market on the common good. There may be various definitions and interpretations on the concept, but all parties in this country recognize and accept the need for a social infrastructure. Captain Canada's latest smear of the Conservative Party may have backfired.

I now know whom I'm voting for......the ghost of Doug Henning.

"An era can be said to end when its basic illusions are exhausted."
Arthur Miller