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Supporting Mental Health in Canada better

As you may or may not know, Ottawa and the provinces have been trying to get a new deal on healthcare reached. Initial efforts failed, although 3 Atlantic Provinces have signed separate health care agreements with the federal government since.

One of the aspects of these health care talks was the federal government offering a lot of money – $11.5-billion worth – for mental health and home care services over the next decade. There is an article in the Hill Times from yesterday from a group based out of Manitoba called the Evidence Network of Canadian Health Policy. The article basically presents the argument that Canada has not spent enough on mental health services – and should (they also link it to children’s health).

You can read their article here.

UPDATE: You can also find Evidence Network at their Facebook Page and Twitter account for more interesting reading.


Bloggers are not dead just yet.

First of all: Happy New Year 2017 to all of my readers.

Secondly, thanks to Warren for his nice shout-out to me (and to other long-time bloggers) as proof that bloggers and blogging aren’t dead, as claimed by a writer in the National Post. I don’t blog as much on my personal website here as I once did, but I’ve never thought about abandoning it. I still have a nice readership, and I still get lots of hits from government offices in QUeen’s Park and Parliament Hill.. so that alone is enough motivation to keep me going.. What I’ve found is I’ve branched out more to do more social media posts on Twitter and Facebook, but when I do blog, I make sure I link to those social media forums to bring them back to the blog.

A commentator (edit: who turns out to be my friend known online in social media circles as Aurelia Cotta) over at Warren’s discussion forum put it aptly and accurately, I think:

Blogging has also taken many different forms over the years. The current version I see most often, is a citizen having a main destination website for the his own activities, person, brand. And social media branches off that main website but brings them back to your site to get more, see more, eg. Posts with pictures, and links to your Instagram, your Pinterest, your twitter, your Snapchat, your Youtube, Vines (ok, those are gone, LOL) hell even their Facebook Live broadcast video, gets comments and reactions and replies made as videos, and yes, some long form notes they write can be posted there at their home website to bring them back to see more details, bios, stories…

Still another commentator said that you can only impart so much information in a Tweet; if you want an in-depth article or discussion, that is what bloggers do.

As for Progressive Bloggers, the big progressive blogging aggregates that is going on 12 years this year, some changes have occurred… the # of self-identified partisan blogs (such as me) has gone down. That is most pronounced of Liberal Party bloggers (who now seem to be all working in Ottawa ;))but it is true a lot of the blogs that were affiliated with partisan parties have also gone down from a decade ago. The blogs these days at Progressive Bloggers are ones that don’t identify with specific party.. but focus on issues important to them. That’s not a particularly bad thing.

The monthly and yearly #’s for Progressive Blogger hits isnt as high as Warren’s, but still enough to re-assure me that blogging is not dead – it just has evolved. I believe it won’t be disappearing any time soon.


The phony War On Christmas reaches Canada.

You’ve probably noticed over the last decade around Christmas time there is a hue and cry from conservative folks about a “War on Christmas”. They speak darkly about those apparently seeking to somehow strip the Christian roots of the holiday out of Christmas. This has been mainly taking place in the US.. but it has reached Canada too, judging from the reaction on social media to various politicians wishing folks “Happy Holidays” rather then saying “Merry Christmas”. Two such examples are Maryam Monsef getting attacked on Twitter by a Twitter account run by the Trent Conservatives, and a couple of weeks ago, in another attack that involved me, London Liberal MP Kate Young got slammed for wishing me Happy Holidays by a hostile tweeter who was obviously tracking her looking for things to go after her about (I know this because the tweet was directly to me, and the person wouldn’t have seen it without doing a search of Kate’s twitter feed, since he wasn’t a follower of mine). This clown decided to speak on my behalf by claiming Kate (and by extension the Liberals) were cow-towing to the Muslims.

I have not yet seen a call by these same folks asking for a boycott of the same-named song off of the radio during this festive season. I’m sure composer Irving Berlin and singers Bing Crosby, Andy Williams etc would be horrified to know they are practically leading the theme song for the “War on Christmas”! Anyhow.. awaiting the call for a ban on that song.. (which I suspect won’t ever come).

For the record, I’m a practicing Christian, and I have no issue saying “Happy Holidays” or receiving such wishes in place of “Merry Christmas” It’s all the same sentiment of good-will to me. There are multiple holidays at this time of year, *such as Hanukkah for those celebrating the Jewish Faith) so saying a generalized phrase to include every holiday is a good gesture of inclusiveness and good-will.

Lastly, I believe Christianity as a religion is not as flimsy as these folks believe in thinking that wishing someone “Happy Holidays” rather then “Merry Christmas” is somehow going to cause it to wilt and go away. All this is is a clumsy attempt to hide bigotry and racism behind a false cry. Unfortunately, with Trump and his band in power.. it’ll probably get worse over the next 4 years.

Its missed on a lot of these folks that by attacking others the way they do, they’re the ones taking “Christ” out of Christmas.. not those who are wishing everyone of all different faiths and creeds “Happy Holidays”.

Share is an interestingly worded survey, to say the least.

In brief.. I took this because I’m interested in electoral reform. I took this because its the tool the government is going to use to gauge user response. I encourage everyone to go and participate.

That said… some of the questions are leading to a conclusion to say the least – what we call a push-poll in the polling industry. I’m not very happy with how the government chose to frame some of the question wording.,, making the either/or choices seem like if you take 1 choice, the alternative outcome is the worst possible alternative outcome. Between that and Maryam Monsef’s performance in the House last week (which she thankfully has apologized for, but the damage is done), some of us electoral reformers in the Liberal Party are a tad uneasy these days as to whether the Liberal government is going to try and find any way possible to escape actually reforming the system if it doesn’t come to their preferred outcome – whatever that might be (some say that’s ranked ballot, some say that’s the current status quo).

For what its worth.. this is what I am according to the site after I finished answering

My democracy is diverse and inclusive

Innovators are generally among the most open to new ideas to improve the way Parliament works. Innovators tend to favour cooperation over competition when it comes to politics and to prefer governments that seek compromise with other parties. They typically support the idea of parties working together and sharing responsibility for decisions.

Innovators are commonly interested in new ways to increase diversity of Parliament. They tend to prefer that Members of Parliament, as a whole, better reflect Canada’s diverse population, which includes having more women and candidates from visible minority groups elected.

Of all the groups, Innovators are most likely to welcome having a greater diversity of ideas and political viewpoints expressed and represented in Parliament. They also tend to believe that voters should have more options or additional ways to express their choices on the ballot during an election.

Innovators are generally quite concerned about voter turnout in Canada. They are the most open to the possibility of online voting as a means to increase electoral participation. Innovators are also the most likely to support the idea of mandatory voting as they tend to see voting as a democratic duty.


Nightmares sometimes become real; the US Election being one of them.

15000188_10154667793303735_3573061945763080743_o I woke up this morning 2 days after the US Election hoping I’d dreamed a very bad dream… but alas, not to be. It appears that Clinton will end up winning the popular vote by about 1.2% (or 1.5 million votes), but simply put, there weren’t enough Democrats in the right states to put her over the top. It also is true lots of Democratic voters stayed at home as compared to 2008/12; a decision they will regret over the next 2-4 years.

Oh and yes.. my political bet prediction win streak is over. I gave my Conservative friend Trevor his free drink, but he was gracious in victory. I also owe Quito Maggi of Mainstreet Research two free dinners – one for Hillary obviously getting below 300EV’s and 1 for her shocking outright defeat. It is ironic I lost to a pollster when so many in his field as well as all of the prediction model experts in the US have a lot of egg on their faces.

On the small plus side.. I won a free gift card at the restaurant a group of us were hosting our election party at so I have some of that to help pay off 1 of Quito’s 1 of 2 dinners if he wants to come visit me.


US Election Prediction: Two bets / prediction winning streak on the line.

So unless you’re totally uninterested and don’t follow politics (which if you are, I’m not sure why you’re reading me right now) or been under a rock, you know tomorrow is the US Election. It’s been an unusual and nasty campaign, to put it mildly.

I’m just putting out there for the public record that I have 2 bets on the line for me… putting my 6 in a row prediction streak – which has involved winning more then a few free dinners and drinks, with 1 still owed to me from the Quebec general election – (Hi Lyndsay!)  also on the line.

My first bet is with a local Brantford Conservative friend/associate of mine named Trevor. That bet is fairly straightforward; I predicted Clinton wins, the Senate flips to Democratic control, and the Democrats would cut into the House Republican seat majority. He thinks Trump wins (this bet was made a couple of months ago, I might add).

My other bet is a bit more complex and was made  with Quito Maggi, the president of the polling firm Mainstreet Research about 2 weeks ago. (who has a new Ontario poll out this AM by the way that should make the Ontario Liberal government cringe a bit). This bet has 2 angles to it.  On the over/under of electoral votes, I predicted Clinton would be north of 300. He took the under.  A dinner is on the line.  The 2nd part of the bet that may or may not take effect.. if Clinton loses outright, I owe him 2 dinners.  For my part, if Clinton gets north of 400 EV, he owes me a 2nd dinner.

I am fairly confident of the 1st part of my bet.. but since the FBI and Comey decided to act like the RCMP circa 2006, even I’m fairly certain Quito is safe on the 400EV part of the bet..

Tune in tomorrow night to see if my political prediction win streak stays alive or no.



#LPCO2016 – Day 2/Completion

img_10041So the LPCO 2016 AGM has wrapped up in Niagara Falls.  Many things to talk about.. but I want to be brief.. so a few more observations:

– Niagara Falls is as usual lovely, but it remains a tourist trap when it comes to paying for stuff – even in off-season. They also have a “tourist tax” on certain things down here (ie eating out at restaurants).

– It always is a big kick to me to meet those Liberals -both high-ranking and small – who either read this blog or follow me on social media. Interesting/Amusing reactions too from some of those folks. (Disclaimer; accidentally described Louis Langlois in the tweet there as working for the PMO when he in fact works at LPC. Corrected that twice on Twitter; the second time from a nice LPCO staff member  rushing over to the desk to let me know that I was in error (who hadnt read the first correction). I was pleased to know they were reading at least some of my twitter dispatches during their media monitoring ;0 )

– Very helpful LPCO staff overall. A thank you to Braeden Caley, Marjorlaine Provost and staff for getting me media advisories, making sure the media table had power plugs, etc. Also thanks to LPCO President Tyler Banham and Director of Operations Kunal Parmar for being very positive in getting a social media/blogger person invited to cover this event.

– Speaking of media, there were not so much mainstream media here covering things on Day 2. The public forums that the media/blogs were granted access to often just had me covering them, but the Canadian Press  was there covering  the forum that Finance Minister Bill Morneau and Ruby Sahota held on the general economic situation of Canada and reported on it;  The Finance Minister’s comments about job churn and jobs continuing to be precarious for young people has caused consternation among some of the more left-wing folks online., accusing the government of making or supporting the policies (ie CETA, TPP) that will be causing the conditions Mr., Morneau describes.  That might be premature to say that; one thing they overlooked is that Minister Morneau also said the government “has to focus on preparing for it”.. indicating the Liberals aren’t intending to abandon those people, but to  try and help them.

– Congrats to Tim Louis, who was elected LPCO Southwest Regional President (that includes my riding of Brantford-Brant)

– My favorite session? “Engaging Women in Politics” which had speakers Whitby MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes, West-Nepean MP Anita Vandenbeld, and Burlington MP Karina Gould discussing the continuing efforts to get women involved in running for political office and related topics.

– The thing that stuck with me the most? Immigration Minister John Mccallum got the biggest and longest standing ovation of the weekend when he said bringing in 25 000 Syrian refugees was the right thing to do and was a very proud moment for him.




#LPCO16: Day 1 in the books

So Day 1 is in the books of the LPCO AGM here in Niagara Falls. It mostly dealt with registration and meeting old friends and making new ones;

..Once that was done however, the main event of the night was listening to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greeet delegates last night. His speech wasn’t as long as some – but here are my main observations, as I saw them:

– The Prime Minister can still fire up a crowd, particularly a room full of Liberals
– He extolled his main platform plank from the election of 2015 – helping the middle class – and chiding the Conservatives for opposing those efforts.
– I realize some in the media think he and the Liberals are wasting their time that they spent in Medicine Hat, but he publicly proclaimed the Liberals have a real shot at winning that riding. My observations is if there ever is going to be a Liberal who represents there, this would be the time when the Prime Minister’s popularity and that of the Liberal Party remain extremely high.

Day 2 commences this morning. I, as media, dont obviously get access to all the policy events and announcements, but I still have a fairly full plate of sessions to listen to; more on those later in detail, while I tweet or facebook the stuff in brief during the day.


Covering the #LPCO AGM in Niagara Falls this weekend

Thanks to the kind folks in the Liberal Party, I’ve been officially accredited as a “media” person to cover the Liberal Party of Canada (Ontario) – LPCO – annual convention that’s being held starting today and going into the weekend at Niagara Falls (being held at Fallsview Casino – first time I’ll have ever set foot in a casino of any type, believe it or not.. but it’s not my scene) .

As of this posting, I’m the only one of the social media types/bloggers that have been given media accreditation.. so unless that changes, I’ll hopefully not fill too out of place amongst the professional “ink-stained wretches”.    There aren’t as many of us bloggers (particularly Liberal bloggers) as there used to be… but we’ve also added Facebook and Twitter to our social media presence… and the LPC values the importance of social media.. so I’d like to thank the folks there for deciding to give me accreditation.

There will be a couple events of note later today: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is scheduled to arrive and speak,  and after this – there is another after party event social the delegates are invited to come and hobnob with Tyler Banham, the LPCO President, and Marco Mendicino,  the Ontario Federal Liberal Caucus Chair are hosting. (and I’ve been told I’m allowed into this.. so I’ll get to do some hobnobbing as well).

I’ll be live-tweeting as i can.. and probably Facebooking/Blogging a recap when watching the events.. so it should be interesting.




Municipal Councils opposed to Ranked Ballot on “too complicated” argument insult voters intelligence

The province of Ontario recently gave municipal and city councils the ability to reform their voting system. Thanks to Bill 181, municipalities now have the option of using ranked ballot for their local elections.  It shouldn’t come as a total surprise that there has been resistance to change. A lot of status quo politicians out there don’t want to change a voting system (First Past The Post)  that has benefitted them greatly.

The main arguments I’ve seen so far  they’re giving for not wanting to change that system though is a rather silly one: its too hard for our voters!

Brampton council voted 11-0 against the idea…Brampton councillors who responded to the Star said they voted against ranked balloting because voters might find the system too confusing.

That appears to be the rallying cry for anti-reformers everywhere.. as we have another example of that right here in Brant County:

Brant County councillors appear not eager to embrace voting changes introduced by Queen’s Park…Brant’s municipal elections review committee, made up of Mayor Ron Eddy and councillors Joan Gatward, John Peirce and Shirley Simons, is backing a a staff recommendation to keep the current voting system for at least the 2018 municipal election instead of moving to ranked ballot voting.,,Gatward, who chairs the elections review committee, thinks Brant voters would not be receptive to a new system that they would find complicated.

So apparently ranked ballot is too complicated.. yet in both of these articles, the Toronto Star and the Brant News explain in a couple of sentences how this electoral system works:

(Ranked Ballot) works by allowing voters to rank at least three top candidates (cities can opt to allow more candidates to be ranked on each ballot). The candidate who receives the least first place votes is eliminated in each round and their votes are redistributed until one candidate has a majority.

That sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it? How did the Brant News explain Ranked Ballot to its readers?

Under ranked balloting, voters pick candidates in order of preference (potentially first, second and third). The candidate with the most votes — 50 per cent plus one — wins, just as in the current system. However, if nobody meets that threshold, the candidate with the fewest first-place votes is knocked out. The second-place choices of that candidate’s supporters are added to the totals of the remaining challengers until someone has a majority.

Apparently, some municipal politicians don’t expect their voters to know how to put “1” “2” “3” beside a name on their ballot. Its an insult to the voters intelligence and quite frankly, an excuse for them to try and maintain the status quo.

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