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CCE in brief

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Recovering backpacker, Cornwallite at heart, political enthusiast, catalyst, writer, husband, father, community volunteer, unabashedly proud Canadian. Every hyperlink connects to something related directly or thematically to that which is highlighted.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

How #WelcomeHomeTO can help avoid this

If you live in Toronto and are interested in supporting the sponsorship and settlement of Syrian Refugees, you might be interested in this presentation by the Arab Community Centre of Toronto  (ACCT) happening December 2nd between 7:45 and 9:45 pm.

Of course, you might be interested in attending this presentation on the Syrian Refugee Crisis: Policy Options & Implications for Canada.  It's also happening December 2nd, between 7pm and 9pm.

You obviously can't do both though; they're happening at different places in town at the same time.

Competition is all well and good, but when we're looking at a national project, you want to maximize the opportunities, information and capacity for collaboration everywhere you can.  Having two related events happening at the same time is something that can and ideally should be avoided.

Did the two organizing teams know they were looking at the same time and space, and would end up competing for each other's attention?  I imagine not.

Could they have been?  Could whoever booked second have found out there was another related event happening at the same time on the same day and potentially picked a different time to book their event?

Can the people attending both events proactively share input and thoughts through a shared platform - or different platforms, but still have everything aggregated in one place?

You can see why something like the WelcomeHomeTO page at Shape My City could be useful.

Trudeau's quote

Far be it for a bafflegap like me to interpret the Prime Minister, but here's what I get from this:

The way to make good policy in Canada is to ensure it reflects the values, hopes and concerns we share as Canadians - in aggregate, which is what happens in a democracy, but also with respect to local concerns and realities.

If Team Trudeau makes all its policy choices in the same vein as they tackled the commitment to brining Syrian Refugees to Canada, we are going to see policy that better reflects Canadians as a nation and as communities.

Which is what "getting it right" looks like.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Why I'm not fond of #WelcomeRefugees

I've spent a lot of time thinking about this, so please bear with me.

Canada welcomes countless New Canadians every year.  They are mothers and fathers, entrepreneurs and tradepeople, Muslims, Hindus, people of different sexual orientations and heights and political orientations and all the rest of it.

But they are never just one of these things.  No one ever is.

It's convenient for us to think about people this way - you're either of us, or not of us - but it's not accurate.

When we use simple phrasing like this, we unconsciously tend to view people through one lens, rather than seeing them as complex human beings with multiple facets.

If a person is something we are not - a Muslim, a Refugee, a Missing/Murdered Aboriginal Woman, a Mentally Ill Person - it becomes very easy to see them as a caricature of a person and romanticize who and what they actually are, as human beings.

This concept of viewing people as more than a label has really been driven home to me of late through Stories of Ours, a one-of-a-kind story telling series founded and run by the amazing Erin Kang.

Every story teller can be labelled as one "thing" - an immigrant, a refugee, a black man, a Korean-Canadian woman - but each story paints a picture of a complex human being that experiences life through every aspect of who they are and not just through what we opt to see them as.

Many of the stories are heartbreaking.  Some of them are inspiring.  Each of them uncovers the facets of an individual and, in doing so, reveals a new thread in the human tapestry.

I love the idea of welcoming Syrian refugees to Canada, and refugees from everywhere.  To me, Canada is a global Rivendell, a place where everyone can belong, thrive and contribute.  We don't evade problems - we turn them into opportunities.

Rest assured, many of the refugees who will soon be calling Canada home have incredible gifts to share, ideas to nurture and innovations to hustle.  They may open your next favourite restaurant, or develop your next favourite digital platform, or be your next Minister of Democratic Institutions.

I believe it's important to dig deep into the hardships these individuals have experienced, but also to not look at them as pity cases.  

They are refugees now, but what they will be moving forward is neighbours, partners, friends, family.

Which is why I picked the name #WelcomeHomeTO for my community support aggregation project

This isn't just about them coming here - it's about us welcoming them, as well.  Like a new family member.  Some day, they will be doing the same thing for other new Canadians.  It's what we've always done.

There's what we offer, there's what they offer, then there's what we build together - like a potluck, with Canada being the common ground for making the soup that's more than the sum of its ingredients.

I understand the intent behind #WelcomeRefugees but really, it's about more than refugees, and it's about more than the government's plan.

It's about people.  It's about stories.

That's what Canada has always had the potential to be, and only embraces when we recognize the individual and build the country collaboratively - not the toughest or wealthiest nation, but one that demonstrates what humanity can be at its best.

Take that into consideration when reading this:

The Russian people are smart.  They don't want to be taken as rubes by anyone - not NATO, not Putin.

There will be spin, rhetoric, baiting and switching.  Don't buy it.

Now, more than ever, it's time to hold your government to account for Russia's interests, not their own egos and ambitions.

Is it a "moral crusade" to take on insurgents in someone else's civil war - and in support of a regime that might be friendly, but openly hostile to its own people?

Monday, 23 November 2015

Who said this?

Harper's Appointments: Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast

And yet the outgoing Harper government made dozens of appointments in the dying days of their administration, some of which won't even go into effect until the just elected government's mandate is over.

Some people are really upset by this.

True, it's a pretty cynical play by former Team Harper; the goal is to extend their reach beyond their electoral mandate and to hamstring the new Trudeau administration some.  Perhaps they think that, by securing the positions of these appointees, they are owed something.

It doesn't really matter.  Here's why.

Team Harper's policy made it abundantly clear how they view people - fixed-in-stone, responsive only to threatening sticks or periodically, enticing carrots.  Tough on crime was all about locking up bad people, because bad is what they were and reform (ironically) isn't possible.  Harper's steadily increasing refusal to work with anyone not answerable to him reinforced this - compromise, persuasive arguments and inspiration simply weren't in his playbook.

To him and his inner circle, these appointments are his people, and will be expected to play to his tune.

Man, they're in for a big disappointment.

Trudeau's mandate letters to his Ministers - which, consistent with the culture of open he promised, were made public - make it clear that respect for the civil service is integral to their role.

Harper was top dog, the head of the fish - and as the saying goes, il pesce puzza dalla testa.

Trudeau so far isn't about being the head - he's about being the empower-er in chief.  He doesn't want to control from the top down, he wants to grow from the grassroots up - including from within the civil service.

Harper had his strategy and is relying on his appointments to serve his interests.

Trudeau is creating a culture of respect, trusting the civil service and inspiring them with vision.

Culture eats strategy for breakfast; altruism is selfishness that plans ahead.

Too bad for Harper he never learned that lesson.  His successor will have to.

Such is the nature of social evolution, isn't it?

Sunday, 22 November 2015

World War III: Through a Mirror Darkly?

For the Ottoman front, with its Asian battlefields and global soldiers, turned Europe’s Great War into the First World War. 

A century from now, will history books (or links) talk about World War III as the summarizing title for the conflicts of our age, as the First World War was?

If so - how ironic is it that the spread of a Middle Eastern conflict into the West should be what justifies the title?

Especially considering the role the reverse played in leading to where we stand now?

So tell me - what's the difference between being a strong nation or history's actor if in the long game, we're simply stirring the pot or carrying on the same play?  That's not strength, that's short-sightedness.