Remembering ‘My Canada’

living flag 2014Even countries as multi-cultural as Canada have an identity. ‘My Canada’ is founded on certain cultural beliefs and values that serve as the cornerstone of who we are as people. In a world where social media, international news, broadcasts, movies and television brings forward the cultural values and attitudes of other countries which often collide with our own beliefs it is difficult to remain true to who we are as Canadians. It is all too easy to watch the news events and issues from around the world and take them on as our own. It is hard not to listen to the political issues in the United States and not transfer those opinions and situations as our own.

Discussions surrounding health care, education, crime that occur on the news from the United States or other countries seep their way into local discussions and news. A once independent government and economy is now influenced by discussions that may or may not have relevance to our own country. How does a country, how do people remain true to their own beliefs, values and vision for their own country? How do we stay true to My Canada?

Whether we live together in confidence and cohesion; with more faith and pride in ourselves and less self-doubt and hesitation; strong in the conviction that the destiny of Canada is to unite, not divide; sharing in cooperation, not in separation or in conflict; respecting our past and welcoming our future.
– Lester Pearson

My Canada is a nation founded on accepting diversity, valuing democracy and a strong desire that all Canadians are entitled to the freedoms afforded to us through our Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and are part of our country’s vision for a society based on human rights. The history of Canada is one where we defend the human rights of all Canadians through the creation of policies that strive towards an equal and just society. My Canada is one that recognizes the right of all global citizens to be afforded the opportunity of peace. My Canada is one that will stand-up though negotiation and dialogue in helping create and maintain world peace. In my Canada when our flag is seen locally and globally it represents a country of peacekeepers and defenders of human rights. In ‘My Canada’ we remember our veterans, our ancestors who fought hard to create a country where we recognize the human right of equality for everyone.

Remembrance 2006

On November 11th we need to remember our heroes, our ancestors who created the framework for a nation founded on respect and dignity. We need to remember what it is they fought for? We need to remember the Canada they wanted? We need to remember the ‘My Canada’ that is their legacy. A Canada of peace keepers, that is kind, generous and accepting of every citizen’s human rights no matter the race, nationality, gender or social circumstance.  I am a proud Canadian, but also a Canadian who is concerned some of our identity, our culture is being lost to a Prime Minister who does not put the safety and dignity of all Canadians, of all people into his policies. A Prime Minister who no longer represents the views of all Canadians.

Harper’s Canada is one that has created and continues to create an increasingly large gap between the wealthiest Canadians and the rest. The creation of Tax Policies that even his former finance minister believed favoured only the wealthiest of Canadians and was unfair. In Harper’s Canada, he ignores issues surrounding the human rights of women and children who are victimized and find themselves marginalized through poverty. In Harper’s Canada, he continues to ignore the issues of tax fairness by not holding companies accountable to the creation of full-time jobs for Canadians in exchange for decreased tax rates and continues to ignore the hording of capital in off-shore accounts. In Harper’s Canada he ignores the long-term effects of ignoring environmental issues related to the tar sands and ignores or silences the voices of scientists and economists who try to find alternatives to the risks and our reliance on this non-renewable resource.

Poverty Rates

In Harper’s Canada the crumbling human and physical infrastructure of Canada’s cities is ignored. In Harper’s Canada the building of communities that ensure all Canadians have the right to an education, health and fair and equal work is ignored. In Harper’s Canada he ignores the government’s responsibility for protecting the enshrined human rights of all Canadians. In Harper’s Canada fairness is no longer the reality. In Harper’s Canada we are at risk of losing all we have worked so hard to achieve as a nation. We are at-risk of losing our identity.


On November 11th when I wear my poppy, I will remember all those brave Canadians who sacrificed and continue to sacrifice so much to create ‘My Canada’. I will remember their courage, their sacrifice in order to ensure I live in a country where every individual is respected, valued and guaranteed the rights enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

I will also remember that sometimes the greatest threat to ‘My Canada’ does not come from the outside, but rather our greatest threat to our rights enshrined in our ‘Charter’ can be found right here at home.


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I Voted…Now What?

positive 1If we can learn anything from the last four year’s of Sam Katz’s tenure as Mayor of Winnipeg is that as the voters of Winnipeg we need to hold our elected officials to a higher standard than being accountable only on voting day. Our new Mayor has indicated we voted for a positive change. The vote was about much more than that. The vote is something Federal and Provincial Governments should pay attention to. It is a vote against politicians, a vote against special interest groups meddling into the policies of the city or government. It is a vote wanting our elected officials and civil servants to act in the best interests of people.

people1Robert-Falcon Ouellette received my vote on election day. I was one of  36,823 people who voted for a person who brought forth a different agenda. An agenda which was about creating an inclusive Winnipeg. An agenda that said ‘People Matter’. A Winnipeg where decisions would be about getting the information, evidence-based policies and changes rather than the political solution or what makes the press happy but more importantly what is best for the citizens of Winnipeg now and in the future. Ouellette seemed to understand we need to do something different. He offered a change. He was about building community.

favoritsThe downfall of JWL and Gord Steeves was more simple than the media wants to make it. Both campaigns were politics as usual. Each of them seemingly attracted to the left or right of the political spectrum. Their campaigns leaving people believing they wouldn’t be a Mayor of Winnipeg but rather a Mayor for developers or owing their position to a political party, ideology or special interest groups. Campaigns founded on more of the same. Voters said no to favoritism. Voters said no to politicians.

greatDavid Saunders simply told it like it is. Winnipeg’s financial situation is going to severely hamper the new administration. Voters want transparency but they also want the truth to provide hope. Winnipeggers know things are tough but they needed to see a light at the end of the tunnel. Someone that could inspire. Saunders campaign didn’t capture our hopes and dreams for a better Winnipeg. However, David Saunders offers a message to Winnipeg that we must all must pay attention to. David Saunders understands the need to hold elected officials and civil servants accountable every day not just every four years.

positiveSo what comes after the vote. We must hold Mayor Bowman to his promise of a Positive Change. That means positive thinking and positive behaviours on not only his part but by his council and public administration. It means accountable to a more transparent decision-making process. We need to hold him and council accountable for improving our downtown. We need to hold him accountable to changing the current property tax system. We need him to be a voice to finally have Manitoba; which is the last province that relies so heavily on property taxes to fund education; become the responsibility of the provincial government. We need a fairer tax system. We need the province to take their responsibility and fund education 100% and no longer create education polices that require School Boards to raise taxes on property owners to fund what clearly is every citizens shared responsibility. property taxProperty taxes can not vary from School Division to School Division. It can’t be different because of where you live. If you live in Winnipeg School Division that means 54% of your property tax bill is an education tax. Property Taxes also impede growth and the time to change this no longer relevant way of collecting taxes by school boards in order to maintain autonomy in a system that mandates curriculum, staffing levels and required services doesn’t makes sense.

We need to hold our new Mayor accountable for establishing a better public transportation system. We need to hold him and council accountable for creating safe neighbourhoods where everyone has a chance to be successful. We need to fix infrastructure. communityWe need our Mayor to build community. Help us become united rather than divided. We need a Mayor who understands the foundation for our policies need to be ensuring that every person’s human rights are realized. This will require our new mayor to build partnerships with the broad spectrum of ideas and come to a consensus of our next steps as we move forward.

We can no longer wait four years to have our voices heard. We need to have our voices heard every day to remind our Mayor, our council and our civil servants that their number one responsibility is to the people of Winnipeg. All people. We no longer want promises we want action. We want Positive Change.



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Why We Need a Change

changeDo you ever find yourself doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results? It actually doesn’t matter what the activity is, if you keep doing the same thing, the outcome will be the same.

In the classroom if my students do not understand a concept I am teaching and checking my evidence of learning shows me my students haven’t learned what I taught them, what is it that I do? I must re-teach them, but not in the same way. I need to teach them differently. I need to try a different approach. It doesn’t matter if it is the way I have always taught. It is not working, so what do I need to do to help my students learn, I need to teach them but do it differently. Find out what works. Just because what I did worked before doesn’t mean it will work now. Sometimes change is simply to stop doing what doesn’t work.

change 2

When looking at a business if I am selling a product and no one is buying the product what do I do? If I don’t change anything about my marketing strategy, perhaps the product or my approach; unless I do something different my sales, my results will not change.

Well we have an election coming up and if there is anything that can be agreed on, it is that the way we are running our city, operating as a Municipal Government must change. Simply to change the face of the Mayor will not change the way the city does business or operates.

change 3

This Tuesday I will vote for the candidate who offers that best chance for a change. I like many people remain undecided. In the past, I have made strategic votes, voting for someone to keep the person that I don’t want out. Many people vote that way, voting for the less of two evils. This time and I know it may not look that way when people examine the results but I will be casting a vote that will make a statement. The statement is simple. We need change.

I don’t want my city, my province, my country run by politics. The politics of favoritism, back room deals and special interest groups. I want to vote for someone who understands that being the Mayor, being a city councillor is a matter of civic duty and responsibility. It is about making a decision, making policies that benefit people now and in the future. It is not about garnering votes. It is not about worrying about getting re-elected.


There are two candidates who are clearly running campaigns based on political agendas, two candidates who during the debates didn’t answer questions. A candidate who talked about not raising taxes for ten years was a good thing, something to be proud of. It kind of reminds me of the person who thinks by saving $150 dollars a year by not doing the three oil changes on their car saves them money. Then when the car breaks down and needs major repairs that are no longer affordable blames the car.

The other candidate and this was hard to believe when asked about the PST increase said “It is not my place to tell the other governments how to do their job”. I couldn’t believe it. If it isn’t the Mayor’s job to stand-up for the people of Winnipeg, whose job is it? I could have respected her saying I agree or disagree with the increase and here is why? I want a mayor who will stand-up for Winnipeg. I want a Mayor who understands the way things are need to change.

These candidates are supported by special interest groups, and clearly will say what is needed or they think needs to be said in order to get elected. It is about getting votes, not making a better Winnipeg.

We need someone who helps us all look at our current problems as opportunities. This is an opportunity to look at what we are doing, where we are going and do something different, make a change. The high infrastructure costs are directly related expenses because of ignoring road repair as well as the expense of a city addicted to urban sprawl. The expense and cost of new infrastructure required to provide roads, transit, city services to communities further away from where they work. The creation of more transit routes with low ridership makes having an affordable transit system a very difficult task. We need someone who understands building walkable communities means us looking at a different way of doing things. A city with fewer cars, smaller, friendlier neighbourhoods for people to shop and live as we focus on building strong, safe, vibrant local neighbourhoods. Green Spaces, community gardens, community centres and local shops and stores that bring people together and require fewer people to be car dependent. If we want to address infrastructure costs we also need to change how we develop our city. If we keep doing things the way we are there will never be enough money to address infrastructure needs.

We need a city with corridors for public transit as we strengthen the major transportation arteries that will take people to where they need to go. Create incentives to drive less and use public transit more. We need to change the way we see our city, change the way we address this problem?

hardWe need a city that uses planning, data and information to guide decisions. A city that is transparent about why we are doing something. A city that consults with people, listens to people. We need a city where all people matter not just a select few. A city that has a plan to move us forward. This requires a change, a change in not only who, but how we do things.

differentI will vote for a change. My vote will be about doing things differently. My vote will be about being smarter and doing the right thing for people not for politics.

My vote will be for the person who puts our city, our people first.


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Putting Children First

Children of the Rope 2 Hashim Hannoon We are all connected

Children of the Rope 2
Hashim Hannoon
“We are all connected”

Children are any society’s most important resource and it is time we started to commit to the policies, practices and supports that recognize this.

Being an educator for almost 30 years has allowed me to witness the societal changes that have occurred which are creating a society where the needs of children are either forgotten or neglected. Those people who have been paying attention didn’t need the recent Child and Family Services Report about the increased number of children in care or the data about child pornography, cyberbullying, child poverty, human trafficking and educational scores that are putting the future of our children and local and global communities at-risk to know we have a problem.

Click here to read numerous articles in the Free Press in regards to “Failing Our Children”

We seem to look at the data individually rather than recognizing all of the evidence is inter-related and will require comprehensive and systematic changes to how we support children and families.. The greatest indicator of academic and positive life outcomes for people is economic status. Simply put, if you are poor the chances are you will struggle academically and in life. This is not a result of intelligence, but rather a result of a combination of factors including environment, mental stress, lack of opportunities, poverty, and hunger. Our newspapers seemly report daily about children being abused physically, mentally or sexually, murdered or missing, neglected in their homes and by the agencies entrusted to support them. Factors such as cyberbullying, child pornography, and the sexual exploitation and victimization of children is making it more difficult and more imperative we rethink how we support, educate and protect our children. The goal of creating healthy communities for children is what needs to be our mandate in not only my community but all communities.

Read “The Price of Poverty

We need to develop a more comprehensive set of policies that create a balance of supporting children, families and their communities. We need all levels of government and our local communities to become vigilant in setting and meeting our goals to support children but create environments at home, in schools and in our neighbourhoods where children are safe, valued and allowed to grow into capable citizens. This will require for us to create systems that support children and families but also we must no longer tolerate those individuals that victimize children.

We can no longer protect individual rights at the cost of societal rights and the rights of children. We need to develop the appropriate policies and broaden our judicial powers in regards to supporting and protecting children.

It is often easy to identify the problems as we read about the results of what is happening because of society ignoring children’s rights to an education, health and safety. Below I will look briefly at a few areas and propose required solutions. There will be those who say it can’t be done, but if we look at the evidence of what is happening to too many of our children, it is hoped you as well will become a voice, an advocate for the changes that must be done to improve the lives of all children.

Children in Care

The number of children in care in Manitoba is more than twice the national average.

In Manitoba, there were 18.4 children per 1,000 in foster care on Census Day in 2011 — the highest in Canada, said Trocme, pointing to information gathered by Statistics Canada. The national average is just over eight kids per 1,000. He noted the provinces with the largest aboriginal populations listed the most kids in care but Manitoba had by far the highest number.

Winnipeg Free Press

We have a system under stress. We have social workers with unmanageable caseloads as well as jurisdictional battles in regards to the care and support of Canada’s aboriginal people and children. Poor living conditions that result in poverty on Reserves across Canada have our fastest growing population group living in third world conditions.

What can be done?

  • Federal Responsibility of Aboriginal People on and off the reserve. The Federal Government needs to pay the costs of supporting and empowering First Nations People to build healthy communities. Education costs of all First Nations children need to be paid by the Federal Government whether they live on or off the reserve, including child welfare costs and supports.
  • Federal, Provincial, Municipal and First Nations having shared responsibility for funding and developing Urban Reserves that are sustainable with the long-term goal of self-sufficiency. Changes aren’t done to them but done by them with support as needed.
  • Follow and implement the recommendations of the Phoenix Sinclair Inquiry. We need trained workers, provide needed supports to assist families and communities to keep their children at home. We need to assist mothers and fathers become healthy and strong so they are able to support their children.
  • If children need to go into Foster Care the homes need to be safe and foster parents adequately trained. All agencies supporting children need to be accredited following established protocols in regards to service delivery.
  • Change the support systems based on age of the child, youth or young adult. We need to develop transition programs to support youth and young adults as they move out of care. We need to provide opportunities to teach independence and work.
  • Better and more transparent data. If we don’t look at the data in detail we won’t be able to do the targeted interventions required. We need to target our supports and interventions to make our investment work.

Crimes against Children

Creating healthy and safe environments for children to live, learn and grow in is essential if we are to ensure the long-term sustainability of our societies. Crimes against children through physical, neglect or sexual abuse will require determination and the commitment of every one to say ‘No More’.

Read: Protecting our Children – Are We Doing Enough?

What Can Be Done?

  • Education of appropriate computer use that is founded on respect of self and others.
  • Teaching young boys and girls to value each other. We must change the sexual objectification of girls and women.
  • Put an end to child pornography. We must be diligent in our pursuit of those who sell, buy and produce sexual images of children.
  • We must hold Internet Service Providers more responsible for the content on the web.
  • We must all report those individuals that are victimizing children.
  • We must change our attitude that we can’t control the content of the Internet
  • We must put an end to Human Trafficking and Sex Slavery
  • We must strengthen our support for healthier lifestyle choices. Consequences for all crimes against children especially those in regards to sexual exploitation and abuse must receive harsher punishments.

In all my years as an educator I have never had a student say to me “When I grow-up I want to be a Prostitute.” I also have never had a parent tell me they want their son or daughter to grow-up to be a prostitute. We want to ignore the data that prostitution is usually not a choice. Prostitution generally continues the marginalization of people who have already been victims. We need to change our attitude about prostitution and recognize the societal cost as well as that the majority of prostitutes began by being exploited long before the age of 18. It began when they were children. We need to support the victims of prostitution as well as support the legislation required to make it illegal to victimize women.

Ending child prostitution will require a combined effort of punishing those who are involved and make money from victimizing children but education and policies that support human rights of all children.

Child Poverty

Despite 25 years ago a commitment of government to end child poverty, it hasn’t happened. It can happen but we ignore what needs to be done. It can start by changing our tax policies.

What Can Be Done?

  • We need to increase tax credits for young families (Visit Canadians for Tax Fairness)
  • We need to create jobs – change business tax structures to encourage job creation and heavily tax money that is not re-invested into jobs or training. Provide incentives for businesses that invest in building communities.
  • Joint efforts of government and business to assist with day care and education. Universal day care program which will include increasing day care spaces in schools as well as in larger companies. Providing opportunities for day cares to be at people’s work places. Imagine if your employer had a day care where you not only worked but recognized the important role you have as a parent and you had the opportunity to have lunch and breaks with your children.
  • Business and government involved in job training initiatives which focus on people under the age of 35

We need to put people back to work. Youth unemployment is too high. Wages have not kept up with inflation. We need to develop systems that encourage people to work and be self-sufficient.


We can blame poor results in reading and math on societal issues. In the end that won’t change results. We need to accept the data and make the changes required to bring about better scores.

What Can Be Done?

  • We need to increase the time students write and read
  • We need to focus on the foundational skills of numeracy
  • We need to create safe and inclusive school environments
  • We need to collect data from a variety of sources to see if students are learning
  • Province funding education 100% allowing School Divisions to implement the mandated policies regarding class size, curriculum and supports for student services.
  • We need to create positive learning environments
  • We need all teachers to be trained in teaching numeracy and literacy
  • We need to focus on those strategies that work and stop doing those things that don’t


I can hear people thinking how much will this all cost? The question should be however, “How much will it cost if we don’t do anything?” This isn’t about ideology. This is about recognizing that children matter. This is about recognizing that as adults we all have responsibility to ensure we have healthy and strong environments for our children to flourish in. This is about recognizing we all need to advocate for children. This is about recognizing our responsibility to children and the future.

This is about recognizing that CHILDREN MATTER.

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Will an Election bring about a Better Winnipeg?

changeWith an election just over two weeks away are any of the new candidates capturing the voters hearts and minds. Conversations and promises seem mired in right or left-wing politics or paying homage to the support of special interest groups. Is it any wonder we have lost faith in a system that doesn’t seem to have a clear vision to create a better city for the people of Winnipeg. It is hard to imagine that in the next 16 days any of the candidates will capture the imagination of an increasingly disenchanted electorate. There is no doubt we need a change at City Hall and the change needs to be more than a new mayor. We need to understand the purpose of our municipal government. We need to change the way we run our city.

First of all we need to understand that City Hall is not a business. The role of the mayor, councillors and the civil service is to provide cost-effective services to assist our city in providing the infrastructure required for sustainable growth for the city and its people. The city typically has only one way to get money and that is through taxes. Those taxes can be through property taxes or money from the Provincial or Federal Government which comes from taxes.

Lately we have been using the sale of land to gain revenue. That however is the selling of an asset. You do receive revenue for the sale of the asset but once sold, the asset is gone. You can increase your revenue by the sale of the asset through increased revenue from taxes or it can increase your expenses if you need to provide services in order for the sale of the land to generate revenue. Urban Sprawl developments require increased infrastructure costs and actually cost the city money rather than generate income. So not all land sales are the same.

Research may vary but here are some key components successful cities need to have.

A Vision

What are we working towards as a city? We need to have a plan for provision of services, parks, libraries, roads, transportation.

Which Candidate has a plan? A plan we can believe in. A plan that will move our city forward.

A Leader

During his 42 years in politics, Tommy Douglas proved himself as an outstanding Canadian leader. He is largely responsible for our central banking, old age pensions, unemployment insurance, and our universal Medicare. When asked why he stayed with the NDP when he could have done better with a more powerful party, Douglas simply replied,

” I have watched politicians for the last forty years drop their principles in order to get power only to find that those who paid and controlled the party which they joined prevented them from all the things they really believed in.”

To the end of his days Tommy Douglas was true to himself, to what he stood for, and to the people he represented.

Do any of our potential candidates have the leadership we need? Are any of the prospective mayors free to make the right decision or do they owe someone a favour for their support? 

Structures and Routines

It isn’t sexy and certainly lacks the panache to get voters excited but for our Municipal Government to work we need our new mayor and council to understand process. Many people think that ‘Red Tape’ prevents growth. It can slow down the approval of a project but it is essential in order to ensure public money and public trust is safeguarded. It ensures that favoritism or perceived favoritism does not occur. The tendering of projects can actually enhance growth if it allows everyone access to development opportunities. Processes can increase creativity rather than inhibit.

When our structures are done consistently they become routine.

Do we have a candidate capable of bringing back public trust? Who will ensure we get value for our money? Will growth be planned or tainted by politics?

Change is Good

When I look at the current polls it makes me wonder if Winnipeg really wants a change. We seem to be stuck in a mindset of doing politics as usual. We sit and watch prospective candidates garner support from special interest groups from either side of the political spectrum.


Can we really get a municipal government that is independent to make the necessary decisions that are required for sound policies when their positions are owed to others.

Is there a candidate that is Independent of political wrangling? Can change occur if we keep things the same just change the person?


We have a lot to think about over the next few weeks. It will be tough to vote as we are in need of a change but it appears we will once again be run by a leadership more interested in being elected than governing our city.


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A Beacon for Hope: Canadian Human Rights Museum

silenceOn Saturday, September 27th I had my first of what will be many visits to the long-awaited opening to the public of the Canadian National Human Rights Museum. The Human Rights Museum is located where people, cultures, history and business all come together in a picturesque backdrop allowing us to better understand our journey towards a fair and just society. The view from the Tower of Hope is as awe-inspiring as is the architecture throughout the building from the limestone with the imprints of fossils from long ago embedded in this magnificent Manitoba stone. The ramps made from the shimmering alabaster from Spain which meander through all exhibits including the Tower of Hope and provide accessibility to everyone.

rampsTaking the time to relax in the ‘Garden of Contemplation’ which offers a breathtaking view of the ‘Golden Boy’ sitting atop the Manitoba Legislative Building helps one understand the care and thought put into building this beacon for Human Rights. The pools in the ‘Garden’ are encased by basalt which serve as a place for visitors to contemplate our world, the stories and possibilities which the museum brings out.

museumMoving from the darkness of the lower levels to the light offered through the over 2000 panes of glass that make up the museum. The sun shining through each unique pane of glass offers the image of a glass cloud as you walk through the museum. As magnificent as the architecture of the Museum it is not the reason it is a must visit.

The time has come where we need to re-define the world we live in. We are in a time where despite a world with endless potential we are mired in war, poverty, environmental issues and where many people’s human rights remain unrealized. A world where we have over 30 million people living as slaves. A world where the equality, dignity and freedom of too many people are compromised.

 The foundation of human rights is the notion that every person should live in equality, dignity and freedom. Towards this end, the global community recognized that it had to go far beyond simply prohibiting genocide, but instead develop a vision which protected the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of all people.

United Nations

Our local and global conversations are stuck in the all to familiar thoughts of war, economics and arguments surrounding the denials of climate change. Is it possible in a world that is blessed with the knowledge and ability to solve the world’s most complex problems will allow humanities frailties to triumph.


The hope of the Canadian Human Rights Museum is that it will start the conversations that we are so reluctant to have. The hope that we will examine our world through a different filter. A hope that we will learn from the struggles of others. A hope that the principles of Human Rights will be our foundation for moving forward to a world that is more thoughtful, a little kinder and recognizes every individual’s right to equality, dignity and freedom.


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Judge a Person by Actions Not Words

actionThere is an old adage “How do you tell when a Politician is Lying?” The answer of course is “When they move their lips.” Politicians despite being trusted by less than 10% of the people in Canada continue to make promises, not only promises they can’t and don’t keep but that they don’t believe in. People in many respects are a trusting group, as we not only want, but expect a person to be truthful. Each time someone tells us a lie, even if it is a pattern, we believe their words, when in fact we should be looking at their actions.

In life, you prove your worth through your actions, not your words.

Nishan Panwar

Lying becomes a pattern and in politics and in relationships it has often worked, at least in the short-term. People will often look at what someone is saying now, rather than their past actions. Campaigning is the art of deception. Trying to discover what it is people want to hear. After all the truth is something most of us don’t want to hear. Lying, even the little white lies, is more damaging than most of us realize. When we lie,  we deny our self the kinds of collisions with reality that are necessary to improve our life.

Whether in politics or in our personal relationships, lying brings about a loss of control. a feeling of being powerless. Lies, even during a campaign, raises expectations that will lead to disappoint, and eventually a loss of trust in the system, in the person. People, whether a politician or not, want you to listen to their words, say what they think you want to hear. Our belief in people makes us want to believe things will be different, and then, we are surprised when they do the same things they have always done.


Knowledge is the enemy of the lies. Looking at actions rather than words will help us discover the truth. Recently Prime Minister Harper said…

“We have it in our power to create a better kind of world for our children’s children than we have today. And we should.”

Stephan Harper

This is the art of being a politician. Everything he says is true. However, his words don’t represent his actions. In his words one would be led to believe he is going to make a commitment to children. A knowledge of his actions would prove that even if his words ring true, the expectation of the Prime Minister acting on his words is unlikely.

The Knowledge of his Actions

  1. High child poverty
  2. Increase gap between rich and poor
  3. Tax policies that don’t support families and children
  4. Poor record on the environment

The list could go on and on, but if we are brave enough to look, his actions on all important issues regarding the future of our children both economically and environmentally hold the evidence of the truth.

In the end, we all must expect more from our politicians and our personal relationships. Untruthfulness prevents change from happening and makes us all feel powerless. Eventually some lies are said so often people start to think they are true.

“Lower taxes for big business means more jobs”

“Going Green is too costly”

“Everyone has an equal chance to be successful”

Let’s all start having the actions of people guide us to the truth. It is knowledge that will give us the answers and as hard as it might be to hear, it the truth that will set us free.




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One Month to Go: Ranking the Candidates

electionThe vote for a new Mayor for Winnipeg is in one month. Like many people in Winnipeg I have not made a final decision on who to vote for. None of the candidates have convinced me that they can lead our beautiful city into a better future for all citizens. There are a few candidates however that under no circumstances will garner my support. Everyone has to make their own decisions on who to vote for. In a democracy it is important we vote. It is also important that we have our voices heard not only on election day but during the mandate of the next Mayor and Council. We have just experienced what happens when most of us quit paying attention. For as much as we want to lay all the blame on the politicians, some of it is attributed to an electorate that has become a little complacent, myself included.

Of the seven remaining candidates for Mayor I have totally removed four from the list.

Gord Steeves: I have tried hard to understand his policy statements and how they would move Winnipeg forward but of all the candidates I am most fearful of the future of Winnipeg if he is elected. Here is why:

  • Proposal to sell off Green Space: Public Golf Courses and Parks are some of Winnipeg’s most valuable assets. Research clearly states the importance of parks and green space for a healthy city
  • His stand on Rapid Transit and or Light Rail: I understand the cost implications but it is clear that we need to enhance our alternate public transportation options. This stand shows clearly a person who lacks the vision to move our city forward.
  • Urban Sprawl: There seems to be no real plan to stop sprawl from bankrupting our city. No vision to develop livable walking communities.
  • A Politician: It seems he looks for what to say to get a vote rather than have a clear plan and vision of what needs to happen. His flip-flop on issues don’t seem to be the result of new learnings but rather on what he sees as public opinion.
  • Lastly he doesn’t seem to have a plan for fixing City Hall. Doesn’t seem to be aware of what recommendations from the Audit need to be implemented. He wants to remove more red tape when the audits clearly indicate that was a big part of the problem.

Judy Wasylycia-Leis: To be fair she didn’t have a chance to get my vote. If you have read any of my previous posts it is politics that is getting in the way of addressing the problems and coming up with the solutions needed to move our city forward. Do you ever just get this feeling she wants to be Mayor? I wish I could get the sense she wanted to make Winnipeg a better place. She just sounds too much like a politician for my liking.

  • Politician: It is the last thing Winnipeg needs another politician. We need someone to step outside of politics and find a way to bring Winnipeg together. We don’t need right-wing or left-wing solutions. We need solutions that work based on research, not ideology.
  • Vision – Doesn’t have a clear articulated vision to move Winnipeg forward in regards to city planning, addressing the issues in the audit, as well as the serious public transportation issues plagueing our city.
  • Will keep Winnipeg divided: She is viewed as favouring the perceived left. She hasn’t been able to articulate her ideas in a way that will get us all working together.
  • On the plus side she recognizes given the City’s financial situation a tax freeze is out of the question.
  • Don’t see her being able to address the tax fairness issues that need to be resolved provincially and federally in order to get the infrastructure money needed to really impact Winnipeg.
  • She is a politician – we need a leader.

Paula Havixbeck: She has really tried to distance herself from our current Mayor and for good reason. The trouble is except since the audits she was part of the problem being a member as stated on her website: Paula currently holds several posts in the Mayor’s cabinet

  • City Hall: Without a doubt City Hall has been dysfunctional. She was not just a councillor she was in the Mayor’s cabinet.
  • The audits: Mistakes in process and huge cost overruns are without a doubt the legacy of our current Mayor and Council. Although blame can’t be put to her alone she was there and part of what happened.
  • Don’t see a vision for the city or a strong desire to implement the recommendations of the audits.

Michel Fillion: Well he is not a politician so that is a plus.

  • Have not heard one big picture or a new or visionary idea


Who is left:

Brian Bowman: Well he is on the bubble. It is hard to put my finger on it as he has said a few things that I could support but what he says seem to be words. His words just don’t seem to come from the heart. It’s like he is saying what he is told to say, not what he believes. I could be wrong, but it is just the feeling that comes over me when I listen to him talk. If you are not passionate about your direction, then you are susceptible to the politics of government.

  • Shows vision in the area of public transportation-like it or not we need to do something different.
  • Promotes development in the downtown – the negative is we need development of walkable communities in all our neighbourhoods
  • Have not heard the passion I need to hear on cleaning-up city hall, implementing the recommendations of the audit
  • Opening up Portage and Main – that is bar talk at closing time. We have at least six months of winter more lately and when it is -30 no one wants to walk across the windiest intersection. Cities like Minneapolis have made glass walkways above the streets. Besides when people go to the Jets game in the winter they are walking indoors and underground, not outside in the cold. It would be a traffic nightmare. A cross walk at the busiest intersection. Come on really….

Robert-Falcon Ouellette: Robert shows the most potential. His inexperience is showing. On instincts alone he has the most potential.

  • Needs a clearer vision for the future
  • Needs to surround himself with some strong non-political people
  • He is not a politician this is a plus
  • He wants to make a difference, but needs to adopt a more comprehensive plan
  • This is just based on a feeling but I think he wants to make a difference and could

David Sanders: He stood up to City Hall while the rest of us were still asleep. That is a big plus because even when he didn’t have to, he was working to make our city a better place. That scores big points.

  • He is the best person to restructure city hall so we can get back to running Winnipeg in an effective manner. Perhaps that is what we need right now. It is a mess and it must get cleaned up.
  • He is an Urban Planner and also understands taxation, both areas that need to be addressed. If we don’t develop a plan for our city, our communities in regards to infrastructure, sustainability, transportation and development in four years, as hard as it is to believe, Winnipeg will find itself with a larger infrastruture deficit than we do now.
  • We need to change our current tax systems. We need to start the conversation with tax payers as well as the other two levels of government.
  • My concern: He just seems to have a hard time bringing everyone together. Could be the candidate with the best qualifications and knowledge for what we need but can he bring us all on board to work together for the common good.

Without a doubt lots could change in the next month. There will be people who totally disagree with me and my thoughts and that is okay. In the end, this election is important and we must have the discussions. We must start the conversations about the big issues, the complex changes and decisions that need to be made. Change will require a committment from everyone in Winnipeg. We must open up our democracy to people again. That part is up to all of us. So someone will get my vote, that is the only thing I am 100% sure of. All of us must vote and not only vote, but vote with a vision to make our city a better place.

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The Politics of Human Rights

Canadian Human Right Museum

Canadian Human Right Museum

Friday, September 19th marks the grand opening of the Canadian National Human Rights Museum. The Human Rights Museum is located where people, cultures, history and business all come together in a picturesque backdrop allowing us to better understand our journey towards a fair and just society.

It is no wonder there is great excitement in Winnipeg surrounding the opening of the Canadian Human Rights Museum. I for one am looking forward to frequent visits in hope to gain a deeper understanding of past and current struggles in regards to our human rights. However, it isn’t always the event itself that prevents Human Rights atrocities from continuing to occur today and in the future, but it will be our ability to address the symptoms, the causes for the human rights violations. We must treat the symptoms, the causes that take people to the point where they can abuse or neglect the rights of other people. What happens to someone who takes them to a point where they can ignore the plight of others? Where they see other human beings as less deserving or as worthy as they are? How do we fall victim the untruthfulness of the propaganda our politicians use to convince Canadians to blame those people being marginalized for their poverty? If we stopped and looked at the data, the evidence we would discover the blame of increased poverty lies elsewhere.

Canada's Oliver Twist

Canada’s Oliver Twist

Politics of Human Rights

Whenever societies develop policies that create discrepancies in how people are treated, valued and their ability to access the basic human rights afforded all citizens the steps are being instilled to create a culture of blame.

Over the last number of years in Canada a number of government policies have resulted in the favouring of certain segments of the population and neglecting others. One simple example is our current governments neglect of children, families and working-age Canadians. On November 24th, 2014 it will be the 25th Anniversary of the House of Commons unanimous resolution to eliminate child poverty among Canadian children.

The cost of ignoring this issue will have long-term negative effects on education costs, health care, crime as well as the inclusion of all our people in our society. The marginalization of an increasing number of Canadians both politically and economically will continue to put a financial burden on our country today and in the future.

The Price of Poverty, March 30, 2014

Child Poverty

According to the Conference Board of Canada in regards to child poverty Canada ranks 15th out of 17 peer countries with Japan and the United States being the only countries that scored lower. There are actually more children living in poverty today than there was in 1989 when the declaration to end child poverty was agreed upon by all political parties.  The child poverty rate has far-reaching implications for the long-term health of a society. With an estimated 1 and 7 Canadians children living in poverty and in provinces like Manitoba and Saskatchewan where almost 50% of Aboriginal children live in poverty the human and financial costs are staggering.

Poverty Rates

The Conference Board of Canada recommends taking examples from other countries who are tackling the issues by a combination of social supports, education and job creation. The immediate action of changes to the tax system that supports children, single parents and families is an important first step but it must be done in a way that encourages self-sufficiency rather than dependence. A focus on ensuring every Canadian has a place to live, food to eat, education and the safety of a healthy community in which to live.

Working-Age Poverty

The Conference Board’s overarching goal is to measure quality of life in Canada and its peer countries. High rates of poverty among working-age populations indicate wasted human resources, opportunities, and public spending. As the OECD has concluded, “failure to tackle the poverty and exclusion facing millions of families and their children is not only socially reprehensible, but it will also weigh heavily on countries’ capacity to sustain economic growth in years to come.

greedOur current government’s focus on putting more money into the hands of business has not resulted in the job creation promised. according to the Conference Board of Canada 1 out of every 10 Working-Age Canadians live in poverty which is jeopardizing their well-being and the well-being of their family and children. Twenty-one per cent of children in poverty live in families where both parents work. The focus on reducing the business share of taxes has resulted in a small segment of the population getting a larger share of the pie with less obligation to be contributing to the larger society. This policy has neglected the rights of children, young people and families. The long-term cost of a poor, uneducated society that devalues individuals through socially irresponsible policies will be staggering.

Poverty is marked by increased crime, health needs, and a lack of skills and training to take part in the jobs of the future. It creates dependence rather than a culture of shared responsibility and sustainability. It creates a culture that changes our view of people. When we start to look at people as less than who we are, it becomes easier to allow the neglect and marginalization of those disadvantaged economically will lead to more Human Rights violations in our government policies and actions. The tough on crime agenda without dealing with the root causes of increased crime again continues to punish those people already marginalized. Tough on crime in combination of supporting the root causes is the solution required. Unless we seriously tackle the issue of poverty the tough on crime agenda will not only be ineffective but in the long-run cost more than the social supports required to enhance every Canadians outcomes.



Much policy discussion has centred on what to do about persistently high rates of youth unemployment. Two approaches have been adopted, in varying degrees, in OECD countries over the years; one focuses on increasing participation in schooling, and the other on active labour market programs to help youth find jobs. In addition, programs in some countries target youth experiencing homelessness, drug abuse, or crime.

Conference Board of Canada

Youth unemployment (Age 20-24) is twice a high as other age groups. The negative effect this has on emotional well-being as well as on pressures on families as they work towards helping their young adults become self-sufficient is not easy to measure. However social and economic indicators are describing devastating long-term  consequences unless policies are created to provide a more inclusive community.


Society often overlooks how government policies and actions may be in direct violation of Canadians expectations of treatment of people and specifically children. Although it may not have been the intention of government, the results of the Canadian government’s policies have resulted in a neglect of Canadian children as defined by the RCMP and supported by the findings of the Conference Board of Canada, OECD and the United Nations.

The RCMP put child abuse into 4 categories.

What is Child Abuse: RCMP Definition

The RCMP define neglect as “The failure to give due attention or care to a child resulting in serious emotional or physical harm.” With government policies resulting in increased child poverty, increased youth unemployment, working-age poverty and a failure to support Canadian families find work and provide for their children with an opportunity to be successful, one could make a case that our government is guilty of neglect of Canadian Children and the resulting social consequences and costs associated with policies that widen the gap between those that have and those that do not. This policies are not only hurting Canadian children but in violation of their human rights.

The Canadian Human Rights Museum’s galleries will be evolving and changing. The legacy of previous government policies have resulted in numerous human rights violations. Residential Schools, the Internment of Japanese Canadians, women’s rights and now the apparent disregard of our children, for our future are just a few examples.

The untruthfulness about the politics is that cutting supports to children and families will balance our budget. There is absolutely no supporting evidence of this even in the short-term. The evidence is even in the short-term there are increased health, crime and societal costs that more than off-set the apparent savings. The long-term cost to our society as indicated by the Untied Nations, OECD and economists generally is the financial burden now and in the future will negatively affect the well-being of Canadian society.

We can no longer neglect the needs of Canadian families, youth and children. Without immediate action our generation, this government, will find their place in a future gallery at the Canadian Human Rights Museum.

The Cost of Poverty

The Cost of Poverty

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Conclusion: The Real Issues Facing the Mayor

city hallOne of the largest challenges is bringing about substantive changes required is understanding the complex interrelationships between all levels of government, business and society. Bringing about change in one sector without at least building consensus amongst all of the stakeholders creates an atmosphere where rather than working together to solve a problem each of the stakeholders creates a barrier by protecting their interests rather than being solution orientated.

Current issues in Canada have resulted in job losses, increasing gap between rich and poor, politically based decisions rather than solution-based, crumbling infrastructure, increased child poverty, rising health costs, a more urbanized society, compounded by an aging population which will require specific policies to support citizens.

The increase in child poverty, the prevalence of exploitation of marginalized woman and children, ease of access to degrading images of woman and children, decreased access and influence of the majority of Canadians to our democratic system as well as a loss of the basic cultural foundations that a vibrant Canada is founded on.

Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Woman

  • A new Mayor must not only support a national Inquiry but be a voice for a national plan of action.

The research in Canada and world-wide indicates that globally the exploitation of marginalized people, especially women and children is a serious problem. The disproportion number of missing and murdered aboriginal woman is caused by the over-representation of Aboriginal men, woman and children in poverty which also denies their rights to full participation in decision-making processes. The majority of exploited individuals in Canada and globally find themselves in poverty.

Canadians are trying to have their voices heard through protests, vigils and through social media but the Canadian Government continues to turn their back on murder and exploitation of so many women. The time for action has arrived. It is more than an inquiry that is needed to address the exploitation of our vulnerable citizens but a plan of action that gets to the root of the issues that lead to so many Canadians being victimized.

The exodus of Canada’s aboriginal people from their communities which are mired in third-world like poverty and conditions as they come to cities in hope of finding a better life. In many ways Canada’s first people are experiencing the difficulties faced by refugees. They have been displaced from their home communities which is resulting in a lack of culture and a lack of connections. Once leaving the Reserve they lose their rights and status that is guaranteed under the Treaties. They lose their connection and support of the Canadian Government as well as their home community.

Aboriginal people is Winnipeg’s fastest growing population group. Without a clear plan and vision to reduce poverty, create jobs, inclusion in our political and decision-making process, with all stakeholders becoming part of the solution, I am afraid we have not been witness to the last of the human tragedies of missing and murdered aboriginal woman and children. Our Prime Minister is right what is happening is a crime. It is also a crime to stand by and do nothing as so many men, woman and children find themselves mired in poverty.

A new Mayor must not only support a national Inquiry but be a voice for a national plan of action. On this issue talk like so many of the issues where we have had Inquiries will not change what is happening. The Inquiry must include a Plan of Action with new policies and a commitment to implement the changes that will be required.

The Reduction of Poverty and Child Poverty

  • Despite job creation being outside the mandate of our next Mayor, it is essential for whoever is elected to be an advocate for reducing child poverty.

As my introduction indicates the issues surrounding poverty and child poverty are complex and require a commitment of everyone in order to bring about the required change. We can talk all we want but the real solution to poverty is jobs. Good paying jobs.

Despite the reduction of taxes and substantial increase to our wealthiest Canadians according to our most recent report from Stats Canada that over 100 000 private sector jobs have been lost. At a time where the gap between the haves and have-nots is widening, the data in regards to the unfairness of our current taxation system, as well as the untruthfulness to the rhetoric of it is business that creates jobs is clear. The current policies are not working.

The creation of jobs for Canadians will occur through a commitment to infrastructure development. Jobs will be created in areas like health-care, road repair, and development of more sustainable cities. Job creation that results in the strengthening of community will happen through the strengthening of small business, a new tax policy on Canadian Corporations and individuals that rewards investment in local communities as well as public sector jobs.

These kind of substantive changes will require someone with the courage to identify and hold accountable the current fiscal policies of the Federal and Provincial Governments that are impeding the growth of our economy. It must be noted that people must begin to understand the new dynamics of making money. No longer is it done by creating local jobs, but rather by investing in money markets, creating jobs in countries where you can pay low-wages and not be concerned with working conditions. Most CEOs earn their money through profit-sharing and stock options. A lean work force means more investors and a higher stock value despite the fact the company may only look good on paper. Unless as Canadians we understand this new reality and change our current system that rewards people for job reduction, instead of encouraging and rewarding job creation the issues of poverty and child poverty will not be addressed.

The result for a new Mayor that remains silent as a voice and a person of action will mean the Cities human infrastructure will continue to deteriorate.


In all four parts of the ‘Real Issues Facing a New Mayor’ it may appear that a new mayor of Winnipeg has their hands tied as most changes will require collaboration of all stakeholders. In a real sense a new Mayor must change culture. The culture of City Hall. A new Mayor must create a vision on a smaller scale for our city that will unite people and begin to include them in their city. A new Mayor must hold counsellors and civil servants accountable to work towards a shared vision. A new time for transparency and openness needs to be the starting place. Political promises must be replaced by the sharing of facts, by opening up our books and setting the direction to create the City of Winnipeg that people want.

What is stopping Winnipeg, Manitoba and Canada from becoming the country we all envision is the untruthfulness of the politics that are plaguing our policies. Policies are not developed based on the evidence but rather to support those that have a voice and influence of our politicians. Our decisions must be evidence-based and solution orientated. They must be more than words they must be result orientated.

Also Read:

1) The Real Issues Facing the New Mayor (Part 1)

2) Sustaintainable Growth: The Real Issues Facing the New Mayor (Part 2)

3)  The Need for A Plan: The Real Issues Facing our Next Mayor (Part 3)



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