As a public servant I have taken to paying far more attention to what is going on in government, which is likely a good thing. Most recently, with the submission of Bill C-38 to parliament, my colleagues and I, as well as much of Canada, are feeling the effects of this rapidly passing new act. I have no better way to describe this latest act than as daunting. Well over 50 pieces of legislation are being “tweaked” in this over 450 page mega document.

I’ve decided to compile a list of observations I have made and encourage Canadians who are unfamiliar with what is going on to do some research:

1. The act is enormous and broad – CON
I see it as somewhat unsettling that the government has bundled so many changes into one document with the expectation that fellow members of parliament are going to be able to fully wrap their head around it and feel comfortable with what they are approving or denying. I realize this is all part of the majority rule advantage but I strongly believe that it should have been divided into a few different bills grouping together similar legislation so that the changes could be debated more closely and thoroughly.

2. The timeline for approval is very condensed – CON
Taking into consideration the previously mentioned point about how large and broad this act is, the fact that the timelines for approval are so condensed is also alarming. Had the act been divided into sections these timelines would seem more reasonable, but it isn’t divided, and the speed at which this document is passing through readings is a little insane. This naturally makes me question how  well it is being reviewed and how fair the whole process is being run.

3. Stricter regulations for obtaining EI – PRO
How can this not be good? I think encouraging people to look for work and providing them with more resources to do so is fantastic. In the same breath, I also think that making the criteria for obtaining EI more specific is equally great in efforts to discourage the abuse of the system. I know EI is needed for many and I have no problem with helping out those who need the temporary help, but I absolutely do not like that it is being used as a regular source of income for many who can’t seem to understand the concept of working consistent jobs to sustain themselves.

4. Environmental well being is being overshadowed by the economic well being – PRO/CON
The amendments being presented in regards to environmental protection and assessments within regulatory processes are quite significant. The changes suggest that the processes are going to be accelerated and the requirements in this realm less stringent. I see this as both good and bad, as fast tracking certain economically beneficial projects can be very good for our nation, but at the expense of the environment? Will these decisions being made sound as good 5 years from now? Will the changes being made in regards to the environment be as detrimental as people are anticipating?

5. Independent regulatory departments are losing independence – CON
It appears as though more, “overriding” type authorities are being given to ministers, executives, etc. in these formerly quite independent departments. Essentially, depending on the government and individuals, higher ups could make their own decisions if they so choose to, despite the fact that it would go against the current system and be undemocratic of them to do so. Ex: an NDP government could kibosh proposed energy projects in the name of the environment or something of the sort, where as Conservative government could accelerate and over-approve them all in the name of the economy.

6. The name of the act is misleading – CON
For the Conservative government looking to get this act to pass quickly it could be very beneficial that they disguised the contents of the act by calling it “Budget Implementation”  but it distracts many Canadians from looking further into what it actually encompasses.

7. The “Budget Implementation Act” is being reviewed by the finance committee – CON
Contrary to the title of the act, there are way more items within it than those that are budget related. I have a hard time imagining what kind of expertise the finance committee is going to have when it comes to pipeline projects, environment and other non-finance related business.

8. Elimination of the role of Inspector General (CSIS) – CON
Considering this position deals with highly sensitive information and national security I don’t think it should be bundled into such a large bill and overlooked because it needs more focus and discussion than is being allotted to it. Not having the extra “check and balance” of the IG potentially means less privacy for the public and more room for error. I believe CSIS is an important agency and this position’s elimination could cause detriment.

9. OAS age of eligibility from 65 to 67 – PRO
I, contrary to many, believe this is a good thing and don’t quite understand the outrage around it. Statistics show clearly that people are living longer, which for government means paying out OAS for a longer period of time which makes it all the more expensive for them. Additionally, if people are living longer they are likely healthier implying they may be able to work longer as well. I am not sure how significantly the small increase by 2 years affects people and it isn’t a new concept as countries all over Europe increased their retirement ages to 67 years ago.

10. Increase in decision appeals – CON
Due to powers being shifted, “strict” decision timelines for projects (ex: applications submitted to the NEB) being implemented, and environmental assessment amendments there is a lot of room for companies and individuals to move to appeal them. Increasing appeals will tire resources and potentially put significant strain on our system.

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As a western Canadian who spent the majority of my youth in French school I had a much better appreciation for the French Canadian identity than many of my fellow westerners ever did. I enjoyed the once a year Carnival celebrations where we circled around troughs of ice at the cabane à sucre to get our maple syrup on a stick, ate poutine in the cafeteria all week and listened to luberjack-esque men playing French Canadian folk music. I even argued that it would be quite upsetting to see Quebec separate if ever a referendum produced that consensus from the people. Blame these sentiments partially on the fact that I love history and rich culture; in my mind having this whole other Canadian identity and second language made Canada seem all the more intriguing. I probably even, as a young and naive socialist adolescent who had yet to discover reality, liked the idea of their “hippie” protesting past.

Today, I still appreciate these things to an extent, but I have grown strongly in favour of putting Quebec in its place, and I was likely one of many who rejoiced in the fall of the Bloc Quebecois last federal election. I never understood how a separatist party was ever allowed to participate so significantly (or at all) at the federal level, but it happened, and for far too many years. I have additionally grown to dislike the fact that there is such a hate on for the west, and specifically the west’s economic strength, when that is what largely funds those in the east — it’s like me mocking my employer all day and still expecting to have a job, usually this would be unfathomable.

What really pisses me off though, is the current student protest against the $1625 tuition increase over the next 5-7 years BS that is going on. Quebec already pays some of the lowest tuition in the country, and mostly thanks to the money the west sends them. I realize education is important, and to some degree I do believe it should be more available to anyone who would like to further their education. I however don’t think it should be free, I already know how little kids I went to university with on their parent’s dime cared, I could only imagine what it would be like if the government was picking up the tab. I do agree that post secondary is pretty expensive but it is what it is. Let’s face it, we don’t live in France where we are taxed out the huzzah to offset costs of these big ticket items and at the end of the day, I don’t want to fund some asshole who thinks becoming a professional student is a good career path, especially since the government allowing him to do so affordably enables him to live off the rest of us, who actually work, for eternity.

I wasn’t from a wealthy family and my parents were not able to pay for my education so I did what many do, got loans! Oh my gawd!I think I actually appreciated the whole experience more too as I knew I was responsible for paying back the money I was borrowing and it was a constant reminder of why I needed to do well so I didn’t have to do it again, and double my expenses. On that note, what makes this whole protest even more irritating is that the current tuition rates I have seen range from $2000 to about $4000 a year for Quebec residents. 6 years ago when I started university I paid over $5000 and the increases through my 4 years there ended at my paying just over $7000 a year in 2010. In just 4 years, I saw an increase in well over what the students in Quebec are protesting against and I was already paying more than they pay for their tuition now. Don’t think I ever enjoyed the fact that my tuition increased, or that I didn’t feel some angst, I just see this whole situation in Quebec very disheartening. People who have it good, tend to find more flaws in what they have rather than appreciate it, and that sucks, especially since it is now getting even more out of control than it was in the beginning.

When protests become violent, people get injured and property gets destroyed, you really start to distract people away from what you are really there for. Heck, the fact that you are disturbing the peace and vandalizing the city just increases spending of tax payer dollars that would potentially be helpful for going towards your “outlandish” tuition fees. Seriously, get a fucking grip! Often times youth empathize with youth movements, and in general people with like views will empathize with movements they see demonstrating a fight to express and or protect those similar views they share. This protest however, from what I can see, doesn’t have many youth outside of the group in Quebec who are trying to hold on to their idea of a utopic world supporting them because we live in the real world and we know how much more difficult it is for us with the higher tuition and cost of living out west, but guess what — we managed. It’s even more disgusting that they have the gall to insult fellow students who are choosing to go to school during these protests because they actually care about getting their education.

In my view, for those Quebec students who want to run around half naked sporting body paint and chanting at people you should grab a ticket to Shambalah or some other like festival in the forest. Can greater Canada take a referendum to decide whether or not we want to kick Quebec out? I’d love to see how much tuition would cost them as an independent nation.

Is it wildly inappropriate to compile all of my dating misfortunes into a novel? I have been working on a pseudo-memoir for quite some time, focusing specifically on my life events post university graduation, however, as I write on I begin to realize the majority of what I have to write about is my colourful dating life. I guess I wouldn’t be the first person to write about their dating life or to write about dating in general, but I almost feel like it could kill my karma for years to come. Then again it isn’t always my fault the dating experiences have been all kinds of “interesting” and I’m not looking to name names within my writings, even if the characters would be identifiable for those who were present in the real life version. Maybe I should wait until I am married until I release anything? I could single handily scare away all potential suitors by airing such dirty laundry, but hey, live life without regrets right? Ha.

I wonder if people think about the consequences of what they write before they do it? I have toiled with the idea of politics in my future and and I wonder if something like this, or even a personalized blog could be detrimental to those aspirations? It seems to be common practice that anything from someone running for office’s past can come back to haunt them during a campaign. I suppose what it may come down to is which passion is greater, and whether or not at the end of the day I mind if people know about this specific realm of my life. Who knows, maybe people will relate and appreciate it?

Regardless, below is an excerpt from chapter who knows what…

Two Drink Maximum

Although I am not a huge fan of reality television, one of my guilty pleasures is watching HGTV.  In the last year or so however the pleasure has extended to also loving a little Millionaire Matchmaker from time to time. I am quite confident that I am drawn to the show simply because I find comfort in knowing there are single people out there who have far worse dating experiences than I do.

For those of you unfamiliar with the show, a ground rule that Patti sets out before setting her clients up on dates is the two drink maximum rule. I usually wouldn’t think too much into this rule going on a first date with someone because I don’t drink a lot anyway and because first dates generally don’t last long enough to get shit show wasted. Needless to say, I found myself in a first date situation where all of those preconceived assumptions went out the window.

I had been chatting with this particular gentleman, let’s call him Misfit, for quite some time on one of the many online sites I have had unfortunate experience of using. Like the beginning of most online love affairs, it appeared as though we had a great connection, especially since it seemed as though we both had a deep love for music, and better yet, good music. If you haven’t already noted, I kind of love music, and a man who also loves music to similar extents could easily have my heart. Regardless, we seemed to get along well and there was not a shortage of conversation. I was in the process of heading home after a dinner with my mom when Misfit texted me and asked if was interested in meeting up for a drink, considering I was just heading home to do nothing and it was the weekend after all, why not? I was actually alright with the idea of having good conversation over a beer or two. I should have however realized the 10pm meet up time was probably not entirely appropriate for a first date and the fact that he transited to our decided location so he didn’t have to drink and drive were warning signs.

I am a sucker for a bearded man singing a good tune full of humility. I thought I would share these lovely melodies with anyone else who may feel the same because I can’t seem to get them out of my brain!

Manchester Orchestra – Simple Math
Love this band, and this song is amazing. I think the video sort of makes it all better because it is quite clever, despite the fact that I don’t generally pay attention to music videos.

Right Away, Great Captain – I’m Not Ready to Forgive You
This is the solo project of Andy Hull from Manchester Orchestra  that I fortunately just stumbled upon. I love his voice and there is even more sincerity and emotion throughout all his solo material, I love it! Simple and beautiful.

Dan Mangan – Post War Blues
A lot of people have given this new album some flack and this song in particular but I happen to love it! Dan Managan is arguably one of the best artists I have seen live and I genuinely enjoy listening to his voice and the unique sounds he comes up with. This video is also quite clever…

The Arkells – On Paper (acoustic)
Another freaking awesome band. Although I love their “regular” stuff I also really like their acoustic versions like this gem.

Pearl Jam – The End
Often times older bands who had their peak over 10 years ago don’t release very good new material, PJ is definitely an exception for me. There are some very heart breaking songs on their Backspacer album and this one is one that I can’t stop listening to. Ahh…

Everyone who even knows me a little bit knows that I don’t particularly enjoy the suburbs. This is not to say that I think they aren’t great for certain types of people, however I am not that certain type of person. I am also only one person which doesn’t make living in the middle of nowhere in a bigger house all  by myself seem appealing. The inner city vs. suburbia debate has recently come up among my friends and I, specifically those who are half married and looking to do the next logical thing according to societal norms — up-size and move to the burbs.

I do think we are very fortunate to live in a country where we have the opportunity to live in single family homes with little plots of land but I also think that most people who seek to sprawl into the suburbs are incredibly materialistic. I know a large amount of single people, or couples without kids that live in huge houses out in the burbs, and for what? More space to accumulate junk? Access to all the finest department stores and chain restaurants? Long drives every day to and from work? Yeah, totally makes sense to me. Intentions of building a family in their 5-10 year plan makes sense, sure, but a lot can happen in that time, including a lot of expensive cab rides back to the burbs while you try to live out the last bits of your youth in inner city establishments.

Yes, some of those people likely work close to where they live, which then make them living that far more logical. It is mostly the people who work downtown though, or anywhere remotely central, who live in the abyss of suburbia that I don’t understand. To the argument of moving to the suburbs for your family, there are also many inner city and less remote neighbourhoods with much to offer for families. I also tend to enjoy the look of an established neighbourhood that has trees and homes that weren’t slapped up to fulfill the demand of the boom. Additionally, what kind of character do most of these “new builds” have? Not everyone is a character kind of person granted, but I personally don’t like living in a box that looks like everyone on the block’s box. Did I mention the fact that I don’t particularly like the idea of living next to an old landfill? Yay, your view won’t be obstructed by any construction in the next few years, but sadly because your backyard is an old dump.

I also find it entertaining that a good amount of these new neighbourhoods feature “lakes”, nothing like a man made lake to attract the Calgarian masses. I personally enjoy the natural river that runs only a few blocks from my cozy inner city apartment. Oh, and I especially enjoy the variety of establishments within walking distance that I have to choose from on any given night if I want to go out. Even though transit is well established around here, I love the fact that I can choose not to wait around for a bus or in traffic, get my cardio in and walk to and from work. The best part? I usually walk past all of the traffic.

It has been mentioned that if I wasn’t single I would probably feel differently towards the suburbs because the inner city is better for single people, and although I do agree that the suburbs would be hell for a single person with no baby buggy and golden retriever to take on weekend strolls, I don’t see myself ever wanting to live so far away from reality. My sentiments may be result of never actually living in a suburb, as I grew up in a fairly inner city neighbourhood and then just moved closer to the core as I got older, but none the less I am just not sure I understand the suburban craze. Bigger, cheaper and further away doesn’t sound like a deal to me, if I was looking for space and distance I would live on a farm and even then, when did we all feel it necessary to have bigger everything? I barely enjoy cleaning my 675 square foot apartment, let alone a 3 story 2000+ square foot single family home.

I realize it has been a few days since the results were announced and most of the excitement has somewhat simmered in respect to the Alberta Election that just occurred however I think it was one I should at least briefly touch on — blog worthy if you will. I don’t want to get to in depth or go all political here, rather share some observations I noted.

Firstly, one of my favourite things about this election is, not only did my party win, but the poll analysts had no idea the results were going to pan out the way they did. I realize analyzing polling statistics and voter sentiments leading up to the big day is a pretty normal thing and clearly some make a living off of it but I kind of like the idea that some things, even the most analyzed of things, can be unpredictable. However, considering I went into the election phase without really knowing who I wanted to vote for (between PC and Wildrose of course), it doesn’t completely surprise me that analysts couldn’t pin point where the votes were going go.

I was curious about Wildrose, being a newer party and still following conservative values, there seemed to be some relevant reasons I might want to vote for them. Although I am a humanitarian at heart and I love the idea of social programs, I don’t believe in the models that NDP or Liberal parties bring to the table. I believe in paternalistic (“social”) conservatism if you will. Regardless, the first bit of research I conducted was to figure out what the Wildrose was all about.

Right off the bat a few things I didn’t enjoy were the website, the large focus on the “Redford Files” hate campaign and the lack of interesting “campaign promises”. I realize they can’t please everyone, and they have a long list of people to try and appeal to but I felt as though she was really aiming at helping the typical married with children family models which is fine and dandy but what about single people like me? Unmarried couples? Seniors? Middle aged couples with grown children? At what expense are the tax benefits for the families going to come from?

Additionally, I also didn’t enjoy the $300 Danielle Dollars idea either. Why would you just hand out free money again? Put it towards programs, infrastructure? Anything more useful? I don’t know about you but I likely wouldn’t think too responsibly when it came to spending a “free” $300 cheque anyway, and I am sure others are the same. It would be more productive to have the government to keep it and perhaps not halt projects instead?

I wasn’t a big Allison Redford fan going into this, heck I didn’t even vote for her in the PC leadership race, but as someone who follows the party she leads I owed it to myself to look past her — something a few men hopefully did in regards to Danielle Smith and her attractiveness. Believe it or not, I had several male voters telling me they were voting Wildrose due simply to the fact that Danielle Smith was attractive, sad but true story. It didn’t take long for Danielle Smith, along with her party to become unappealing to me. Did  anyone notice how evasive she was during the entire leadership debate? Did anyone count how many times she said “fear mongering”? All of this and I haven’t even gotten to mentioning the religious fundamentalist views from a Wildrose candidate that came out later, the Human Rights Commission controversy, the global warming denial, etc.

Working the election this year was also made the experience different and somewhat nerve racking as the poll I happened to be working at had an incumbent Liberal MLA with a large senior population of voters who came in droves still apparently interested in having him represent them. Once we started counting the poll Liberals were taking the lead but only because there was a clear even divide between PC/Wildrose votes, keeping the Liberals ahead. Had the Conservatives all still been one party they would have taken the constituency as their PC/Wildrose numbers added together surpassed the number of Liberal votes. By the end of the night the constituency remained Liberal which had me somewhat alarmed when I couldn’t see the bigger picture of results until I got home after midnight. I was afraid the same divide was happening around the province and the idea of a Liberal government was worse than a Wildrose one. Needless to say, whether or not it was “strategic votes” from Liberals who were afraid to get a Wildrose government in the end, or whatever else people chalk it up to, I am glad to see the PCs take office once again.

If I want to become a “serious” blogger and/or any type of legitimate writer I realized a few things I need to address –

Over usage of “roller coaster”
I really need to stop using the analogy of a “roller coaster” every time something ended up running less than smoothly and I want to describe it without just saying it was less than smooth. I don’t generally like to use clichés but apparently I do. I also realized in the past 6 months I have used “roller coaster” to explain my life in at least 3 different blog entries, lame I know.

More punctuation
I tend to write how I talk when I am fired up about something, quickly and without breaks. I re-read some of my past entries and I get overwhelmed with the length of some sentences and no punctuation in site. Oops! I really love “—” though, which is better than no punctuation, right?

Less vlogging !
My Kony 2012 period, while short lived, was a lot of video in a short amount of time. I almost hate looking at my blog and seeing excessive amounts of video and minimal text. The vlogging final results also reinforced why I love writing more. When writing I can re-write and edit as much as I like so I don’t end up with something that is just “okay” because I don’t want to re-record a whole new video to cover up the fact that I said something incorrectly, etc. If I was a videographer or an avid YouTuber I am sure I would be able to find a solution to that and edit the videos to my heart’s content, but I’m not, and I don’t.

More consistent posts ?!
Similar to when I was a student, I am a blogging slack-ass. I definitely don’t make frequent enough posts, nor does anything I write ever seem consistent. Although I have a lot to say on a regular basis I just don’t justify sitting down to put it in words as often as I should and come time when I really want to make a new blog entry I forgot why I thought whatever it was a week ago was important enough for me to consider delving on it in a blog post.

Less contradiction !!
I realize people can contradict themselves from time to time, but I hate doing it! I find it hard for myself because as much as I am a conservative minded person politically I also have a little hippie socialist weirdo in me too. I find these realms of my inner self often clash and I can only imagine what that appears like to an outside party. I also go a personal Twitter account, much to my own chagrin.

Stay tuned for the results and get ready to be amazed?! ha ha