Wednesday 24 August 2011

Working in Edmonton for the next two days --Goodbye Jack

Good morning folks, I will be working in Edmonton for the next two days, after which I will be returning to the Toronto office for Friday.

On Monday morning, as I am sure that all of you have already heard, The Honorable Jack Layton passed away after a progression of an undisclosed cancer.

While many have chosen that we should clutter our mind with discussions of who should be the next leader of the NDP and what of its future as The Official Opposition and some have questioned the very future of the Social Justice Movement, these topics will look after themselves in the due course of time.

For now we Canadians should reflect on the man that passed and his personal contribution to Canada and his career of public service.  From his native Quebec where all simply call him Jack, Bon Jack, to Ryerson University where he taught Political Science, helped to shape young minds.  His move into Municipal politics in Toronto where he fought for changes for the homeless, social planning, AIDS, he served on the Council and as Deputy Mayor before he moved into Federal politics and ultimately Leader of the NDP where his contribution speaks for itself.

All of these roles that Jack played are demonstrations of what he believed our responsibilities are to our communities, to our fellow citizens.  They speak of the man and his sincere belief in his convictions and unwavering commitment to Social Justice.

There is more that I could write, but I prefer to share with you Jack's last words to Canada, to his friends.

August 20, 2011
Toronto, Ontario
Dear Friends,
Tens of thousands of Canadians have written to me in recent weeks to wish me well. I want to thank each and every one of you for your thoughtful, inspiring and often beautiful notes, cards and gifts. Your spirit and love have lit up my home, my spirit, and my determination.
Unfortunately my treatment has not worked out as I hoped. So I am giving this letter to my partner Olivia to share with you in the circumstance in which I cannot continue.
I recommend that Hull-Aylmer MP Nycole Turmel continue her work as our interim leader until a permanent successor is elected.
I recommend the party hold a leadership vote as early as possible in the New Year, on approximately the same timelines as in 2003, so that our new leader has ample time to reconsolidate our team, renew our party and our program, and move forward towards the next election.
A few additional thoughts: To other Canadians who are on journeys to defeat cancer and to live their lives, I say this: please don’t be discouraged that my own journey hasn’t gone as well as I had hoped. You must not lose your own hope. Treatments and therapies have never been better in the face of this disease. You have every reason to be optimistic, determined, and focused on the future. My only other advice is to cherish every moment with those you love at every stage of your journey, as I have done this summer.
To the members of my party: we’ve done remarkable things together in the past eight years. It has been a privilege to lead the New Democratic Party and I am most grateful for your confidence, your support, and the endless hours of volunteer commitment you have devoted to our cause. There will be those who will try to persuade you to give up our cause. But that cause is much bigger than any one leader. Answer them by recommitting with energy and determination to our work. Remember our proud history of social justice, universal health care, public pensions and making sure no one is left behind. Let’s continue to move forward. Let’s demonstrate in everything we do in the four years before us that we are ready to serve our beloved Canada as its next government.
To the members of our parliamentary caucus: I have been privileged to work with each and every one of you. Our caucus meetings were always the highlight of my week. It has been my role to ask a great deal from you. And now I am going to do so again. Canadians will be closely watching you in the months to come. Colleagues, I know you will make the tens of thousands of members of our party proud of you by demonstrating the same seamless teamwork and solidarity that has earned us the confidence of millions of Canadians in the recent election.

To my fellow Quebecers: On May 2nd, you made an historic decision. You decided that the way to replace Canada’s Conservative federal government with something better was by working together in partnership with progressive-minded Canadians across the country. You made the right decision then; it is still the right decision today; and it will be the right decision right through to the next election, when we will succeed, together. You have elected a superb team of New Democrats to Parliament. They are going to be doing remarkable things in the years to come to make this country better for us all.
To young Canadians: All my life I have worked to make things better. Hope and optimism have defined my political career, and I continue to be hopeful and optimistic about Canada. Young people have been a great source of inspiration for me. I have met and talked with so many of you about your dreams, your frustrations, and your ideas for change. More and more, you are engaging in politics because you want to change things for the better. Many of you have placed your trust in our party. As my time in political life draws to a close I want to share with you my belief in your power to change this country and this world. There are great challenges before you, from the overwhelming nature of climate change to the unfairness of an economy that excludes so many from our collective wealth, and the changes necessary to build a more inclusive and generous Canada. I believe in you. Your energy, your vision, your passion for justice are exactly what this country needs today. You need to be at the heart of our economy, our political life, and our plans for the present and the future.
And finally, to all Canadians: Canada is a great country, one of the hopes of the world. We can be a better one – a country of greater equality, justice, and opportunity. We can build a prosperous economy and a society that shares its benefits more fairly. We can look after our seniors. We can offer better futures for our children. We can do our part to save the world’s environment. We can restore our good name in the world. We can do all of these things because we finally have a party system at the national level where there are real choices; where your vote matters; where working for change can actually bring about change. In the months and years to come, New Democrats will put a compelling new alternative to you. My colleagues in our party are an impressive, committed team. Give them a careful hearing; consider the alternatives; and consider that we can be a better, fairer, more equal country by working together. Don’t let them tell you it can’t be done.
My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.
All my very best,
Jack Layton

Thursday 18 August 2011

Working in Montréal today --Security Theatre

Good morning folks,

I will be working in Montreal today.

(Surprise ending to this one)

Meanwhile in some office in Calgary by way of Winnipeg I don't know if the bespectacled and very agitated traveller in front of me in the security line will be there.

It seems that he arrived at the security line right at 6:30 for apparently what was a 6:30 flight.  Let's to the math.. Ah don't bother, we know it doesn't work.

Interesting, while in line, he phoned someone else to state (loudly) that he was in the security line, and he would see if they would just 'let him go through'.  I am not sure what he believed he meant by this, but now he has the full attention of security agent #1.

"Please hang up the phone", she politely, yet firmly directs.  "But I am late for my plane, they're boarding now!".  Now even a first year student of logic can deduce that the phone being off or on-hook has little to do with the schedule of the flight, and she repeated the directive and added that she wishes to see his boarding pass.

At this point, his agitation increased and he repeated that he was late for his plane and "they're holding it at the gate, I have to go now!".  I must state that agent #1 has a great blank stare, I do wonder if she practices it in front of a mirror.  So out is her hand, eyes staring blankly and he.... complies, out comes the boarding pass, bags on the conveyor, belt, phone.. off through the metal detector and on to agent #2.

Bleeeeeeep Weeep!  I think this guy's shoes have a depleted uranium core, I don't remember the detector ever sounding quite so.. Alarmed?  "Please take off your shoes and place in a bin", requests agent #2.  "But I am late for my plane!", exclaims the late traveller.  Hey, there's that same blank stare, seems agent #1 and #2 have the same training.  And with a heavy sigh, the shoes into the bin.

Back through the the metal detector and Bleep Bleep!  The tell tale sound of the random selection indicator.  I almost laughed at the anticipation of what I imagined could happen next.

Try to imagine now as this fellow tries to explain that the random screaming does not apply to him because he is already late, and yes, he tried to walk past agent #2!  "Put your arms out straight so that I can manually pat you down.". "BUT.." "Sir, now, or you cannot pass security.". "But.." and a stern blank stare.

Out stretch his arms, pat down, more pleading to let him go through and it was almost comical when he patted his own pants down and declared that he was clear.  Finally he relented and allowed agent #2 to perform his job and he was cleared.  Grabbed his bags and off he went running down the gate 131-145 wing of Terminal 1.  It was then that I remembered that when he was on the phone, he said something about gate 120.

So what can we learn here..

It is difficult to make your own bad planning someone else's problem?
Acting agitated and panicky is not the best way to pass a security screening?
Don't wear metal shoes in an airport?


If you are working security, don't let yourself get distracted by diversions.  Security did not ask to see my boarding pass.

Have a safe day, Enjoy security theatre.

Thursday 4 August 2011

Working in Ottawa today --Oppose Intolerance!

Good morning folks, I will be working in Ottawa today.
47 years ago, Aug 4, 1964 Civil-Rights workers Andrew Goodman 21, James Earl Chaney 21, and Michael Henry Schwerner 25, were found.  Dead, buried in an earthen dam after being missing for a month and a half.
They had been slain by the Ku Klux Klan in Philadelphia, Mississippi on the first day of freedom marches and campaigning during the 'Freedom Summer'.  Only one individual was ever convicted.  40 years after the slaying, a part time minister and member of the KKK was convicted of manslaughter.
A reminder that extremism, be it political or religious or that extremely dangerous marriage of the two inevitably leads to suppression of peoples, promotes and institutionalizes intolerance, violence and bloodshed.
Have a good day, Promote peace and harmony, embrace moderation and tolerance.  And very important, become an opposition to those that don't.