Canadian Politics…

A month ago I sat down with my Member of Parliament, the Honourable Karina Gould.  Ms. Gould is a member of the Liberal Party, and is a very nice young lady who despite knowing I did not vote for her was happy to meet with me and listen to my issues.

I should mention that I have been a Canadian citizen since the day I was born, have been eligible to vote (and have voted) in Federal, Provincial, and Municipal elections for some 26 years now.  Okay, I have missed a couple of Municipal elections, but excepting the election of Jean Chretien in 1993 (when I was living overseas) I have not missed a single Federal election.

Throughout my childhood because of my mother’s political activism I met many politicians (and future politicians).  As an adult when I was in the army and then following my army service when I was in Security I met many more.  Additionally I had not only signed petitions but I wrote letters to Members of the National Assembly (in Quebec), Members of Parliament, Prime Ministers, Presidents of the United States, and even two to successive Premieres of the Soviet Union.

It was not until the second month of my forty-fifth year that I made an appointment to sit down with my Member of Parliament to discuss issues.  To be fair, I think I started the ball rolling in the tenth month of my forty-fourth year, as Ms. Gould is a busy lady… but that is understandable.

So one bright and sunny Friday morning last month I walked in to her Riding Office to speak with her.

Mitch & Karina GouldI had met her before.  Ms. Gould had made a number of appearances at events that I was at, and we had a couple of very nice conversations.  She is really nice and easy to talk to… I suppose those are among the qualities that helped get her elected.  I told her straight out that I did not vote for her in the last election, but that I would give her and her party leader a chance to earn my vote in the next one.  I also told her that at some point I might make an appointment to speak with her… and finally I did.

We had a great conversation.  We probably spent 25 minutes speaking while her aide took notes, and while I was certainly calling her and Prime Minister Trudeau out on something that offended me, it was still a cordial and friendly meeting with respect on both sides.  If truth be told, I suspect she strongly agrees with my position, but has to toe the party line and so reserved any enthusiastic agreement she might have otherwise expressed.

I promised her I would blog about our encounter, and so I sat down to do so.  Several times in fact.  I have sat down on numerous occasions to write, and on at least three of these tries I wrote over five hundred words… and then erased them.

If you are a regular reader of my blog you will likely have noticed that it has been rather bare of late.  The professional side of me – that is, the IT Professional – has been experiencing a drastic case of Writer’s Block.  I have decided I would rather leave the page stagnant than publish the crap I have been able to write over the past few months.  A product review here, a silly commentary on the US Elections there, but not much more.  I did not even blog about the four magnificent concerts I have seen this year.

I have had no trouble writing about my meeting with The Honourable Karina Gould, Member for Burlington.

More than a decade ago I sought career advice from a man whom I still know and respect named John.  He gave me plenty of advice, some of which I followed and benefitted from, some of which I did not and have suffered for.  He is one of the people responsible for my blogging.  He told me that I should be blogging, and not just for www.MITPro.ca.  Hence MitchGarvis.com and later The World According to Mitch was born.

The other bit of advice that stuck – and which I remember although I have not always followed – is to keep the politics out of it.  I think that overall I have done a decent if not a complete job of this.  My politics – especially on many of the world’s hot-button issues – are strong and fervent, and I will gladly discuss and debate them over a beer at the pub, or better yet over a cigar.  However my days of writing political opinion pieces – as I have over the years – are for the time being behind me.

And so we come to this productive and enjoyable meeting with The Honourable Member from Burlington.  The topic was indeed one of the hot-button issues I was warned by John to avoid.  How do I write about what we discussed without once again advertising my strong political opinions in a space that should be apolitical?  Several times I sat down to write, several times I wiped my screen clear and promised to try again later.

I left the Riding Office with a Canadian flag and a pin.  I left with the promise that Ms. Gould would speak with the Prime Minister and get the answers I seek.  I left with the intent of writing strongly and learnedly of this positive meeting.  The promise and the intent remain unfulfilled… although I am patient and assume that for a freshman MP to get time with the Prime Minister may take time, and so I hope that her promise will indeed be fulfilled.

The Writer’s Block remains, and over the next few weeks I hope to break it.  I make no promises, except that if you reach out to me I will try to reply.  Have a happy Friday, and a great long Labour Day weekend.

Canadian Get Together at Microsoft TechEd 2012!

Canadian flag outside the Maritime Museum of t...

I don’t have a flag, but look for the Maple Leaf in my hat and come say hi!

(Third in the series… see http://wp.me/p1bbHH-oX for more info!)Hey fellow Canucks, Eh?!

Welcome to Orlando! It is an amazing place to be for an amazing event to be at! We are going to have an incredible time at the 20th anniversary of this amazing event.

So for all of you who have been eagerly waiting to hear where the Canadian Hookup is going to be, I have arbitrarily decided to do it at the bar at the Renaissance Orlando SeaWorld (Shuttle Bus 1 – Red Line).  It is the only hotel I know (I didn’t realize I had stayed there before, and have attended a couple of great events there.  It is also the only hotel where I have an expense account and can buy the appies for everyone coming!  If all goes well we will take the upper deck, and I will make sure we have enough tables for everyone.  However I will be there in my cowboy hat and if we can’t get the upper deck then just look for me J (If you don’t recognize me yet, just ask someone ;))

I had only gotten one other suggestion for a venue, and had to make a snap decision… because my plane was delayed (6 hours GRRRR) I couldn’t scope out other venues last night.  Sorry about that Shaun.

I am also sorry that I was expecting the Kings to win in five… I literally picked Tuesday out of a hat, otherwise I would have suggested (as someone pointed out) that we all get together to watch Game 6 tonight.  If anyone wants to do that, let’s do it on an impromptu basis.

I want everyone here to know that we are here, we are Canadian, and we are united… so if you are a Tweet-type please follow me (#MGarvis) and every time you see my posts (#CdnAtTechEd) about Team Canada please retweet it and encourage others to do so.  Right now we are about 30 people registered for tomorrow… let’s try to double or triple that by tomorrow!  So tell everyone you know – Canadians and Canadian lovers (yes they are out there!) – that they should be tweeting and blogging, and most of all joining us for drinks tomorrow at 5:30!

I Hope to see you all there!

(Third in the series… see http://wp.me/p1bbHH-oX for more info!)

Does Quebec Have a Future in Canada? Whose Call is it?

Last week the National Post (one of two national newspapers in Canada that are actually quite focused on Ontario) published a survey asking Canadians to respond to the question of whether Quebec actually deserved to remain in Canada. “Does Quebec have a future in Canada?”

Of course, if you have lived in Canada or North America you likely know that since 1976, when Quebec elected its first separatist government (the Parti Quebecois, led by Réné Levesque) there have been multiple referendums within Quebec on the issue of whether Quebec should separate from Canada. Each time the separatists lost (despite having rigged the 1995 referendum), but the question continues.

The rest of Canada, for its part, has done so much to appease the Quebec population, as well as the numerous governments of the province. Many Canadians feel that these concessions – most of which are financial, but also include language laws that make it mandatory to label products in French in every province.

As a native-born Quebecer (I was born in Montreal, and lived there for thirty years) I have always looked at the issue from the standpoint of a scared Canadian within the province who might be forced to move should Quebec separate. I have always loved Canada, am proud to be Canadian, and would never renounce that. So when I moved to Ontario in 2007 I was surprised and even offended to hear talk radio hosts talk the way they did about my native province. I was sure that they were the minority, and of course trying to rile people up for ratings. I have since realized that I was the one who was wrong.

I have asked people across the country their thoughts on this over the last five years, and a lot of them feel the same way… they would be just as happy to be rid of Quebec. They of course do not have the divided loyalties that I do, caring so much for both and knowing that the situation could improve with time, especially as the generation of young radicals who kept the separatist movement alive for so many years grew up and began to understand the economic ramifications of independence.

Sadly, I was wrong. A new generation of radical Quebec separatists took their place, and so many of the older ones did not change their feelings when they learned the economics. Separatism in Quebec may well be as strong today as it was in 1980, and that scares me. However if you couple that with the other attitudes of Quebecers – note the Black Bloc, the Student Protests, and Stanley Cup (and other hockey) riots – who seem to have no respect for anyone and have grown up with the entitlement attitude born likely of the fact that Canadian governments dating back to P.E. Trudeau have paid a king’s ransom to appease them and their parents, then you have a problem that Canadians not born in Quebec may not want to put up with for much longer.

When I read the responses to the poll yesterday I was not so shocked by the animosity that so many Canadians feel toward my native province as I once would have been… and I realized that they have a real good point. Quebec has, since my childhood, been the spoiled child of Canada, constantly threatening to take their ball and leave the field if everyone doesn’t do what they want. As a native-born Montrealer I would hate to see Quebec leave Canada, but it is time for Quebecers to realize that they are not the only ones with a say in this matter, and if they don’t work hard to change their attitudes – and the attitudes of the extremely spoiled drivers of the separatist movement – then they will find themselves put out of Canada like Fred Flinstone by his pet sabre-tooth. If Canada were to evict Quebec it would be too late to bang on the door screaming for Wilma to let him back in, it would be a permanent schism that would destroy a country – and likely not simply in two.

If it is time to rewrite Canada, then I do not know if it will be as peaceful and easy a rewrite as some may think – Alberta and British Colombia both have made noises about leaving Confederation, and I’m not sure if it would make sense for the Maritimes and Ontario to be a single country separated by a land mass larger than most of Europe.

I cannot fathom the fallout, but I do know that I think the easiest solution would be for Quebec to come to terms with remaining in Canada, but as an equal… pulling its own weight and paying its own share.  Enough with national laws that force cans of tuna sold in Calgary to be written in French, enough of having to sing the national anthem in two languages at hockey games.  I hope that Quebec learns to play nice, because if they don’t… the sum of the shattered parts of this great land will not nearly add up to the whole.

Canadian IT Pros at TechEd 2012

English: A map of Canada exhibiting its ten pr...

Our home and native land, Eh?

NEW ARTICLE WITH NEW INFO AT http://wp.me/p1bbHH-oX!

The countdown is on folks… I am really excited to be heading to Orlando in just over a month out – my flight is confirmed, my hotel is booked, and I am eager to head to my fifth consecutive TechEd (North America).

One of the highlights of every TechEd I have been to has been connecting with a lot of my fellow Canadian IT Pros (yes, for this context I include Devs in the same group).  In fact for the last couple of years, the DPE (Evangelism) team at Microsoft has coordinated a ‘soiree’ for us where we all got together, had drinks, shared stories, and got to know one another.  Last year we were in Atlanta, and they held the event in a bar atop one of the hotels, and it was a lot of fun.  I got to meet all sorts of people from across the country whom I would likely never have met.

I found out the other day that none of the Canadian DPE team are going to be with us in Orlando this year.  On the one hand it is too bad that they will not be able to connect with a lot of you from across the country, but in truth I have felt that this year they have done such a great job of getting out across the country and seeing so many of you at events, user groups, and IT Camps that it is hard to fault them for it.

With that being said, we got together and decided that we did not want the tradition to end.  So although there will be nothing ‘official’ on the agenda, we are going to get together and drink a toast to the DPE team.  The plans are not firmed up yet, but if you are a Canadian going to TechEd 2012 and are interested in getting together for a drink (and appetizers?) with the rest of the Canadian contingent, I am going to make sure that happens.

What you need to do:

  1. Send me an e-mail at the following address: TechEd2012@swmi.ca.  NOTE: If you have any other e-mail address for me, do NOT use it for this.  I am using a special group so that I can easily sort requests!  Let me know that you are interested in joining the Canadian Community Get Together at TechEd.
  2. Keep your eyes peeled for further details.  I will be sending out an e-mail most likely the week of June 4th with details about time and date.  The place will most likely be a bar in one of the hotels (I tend to favour the ones that I stay at, but will make sure it is convenient to all).
  3. If you misspell COLOUR, FLAVOUR, FAVOUR, SAVOUR, CENTRE, SERGEANT or any other word that Canadians spell properly and that Americans do not, please brush up!! There may be a quiz before you are entitled to drinks! (On the same vein, brush up on hockey, curling, and make sure you know who really won the War of 1812! Hint: It was NOT a draw!)

That’s about it… As always, this will be an informal get together, so come as you are… I promise that I will!

NEW ARTICLE WITH NEW INFO AT http://wp.me/p1bbHH-oX!

Mitch