Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Come On Over

Hi Everyone
This is just a post to let everyone know that I have relocated Milton Views to wordpress and will be updating there from now on. Come on over, and have a peek:  I haven't decided what to do with this blog yet- one idea I have is to make it  more creative by using it to showcase short stories, or even a longer-form novel I've got in development, but I'm totally open to suggestions.  Thanks for reading and commenting, and I hope you guys keep it up.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

"The only bad job, is not having a job-" Jim Flaherty

"The only bad job, is not having a job," Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, May, 2012.

He meant that job searchers, and the unemployed were being too picky in what they apply for. On one hand he has a point.  There is a minority of us who want that perfect job and there's nothing wrong with that.  But then there are those of us who at some point realize that search for the perfect job has to give way to the drive for cash, the feeling of self-confidence you get when you receive a well-earned pay cheque.  Perhaps that's what the Finance Minister meant by that comment.

On the other hand,  the Minister is a out of touch.  What he  has missed is that because of the higher unemployment rates, this is an employers market.  I am willing to take a retail job and have been interviewed for retail jobs in the last few months but for whatever reason I haven't got them.  My resume screams media- it's full of positions related to media  and one customer service position.  A perspective employer in a retail type of setting looks at it and wonders to themselves if I will stick around for a while, or immediately leave for the next big job.  And while it is a reasonable question to ask, it's also one of the problems faced by job hunters.

Another issue is the lack of jobs.  In Ontario things are bad and have a long way to go before recovery.  Over the last while for example I'm finding fewer jobs to apply for within my field- two so far this week.  Part of that is due to cutbacks at lot of media outlets; Rogers, CBC, and Post Media are in the process of cutting jobs. The market will soon be full of Journalists more qualified, and experienced than I.  Another part of it is the fact it is a changing industry- I can't think of many others where technology has made such a big difference. 

A third problem is the hike for Old Age Security (O.A.S.) by two years outlined in the budget .  I appreciate it had to be done, but I wonder if the consequences of the action were fully thought out.  Naturally older adults are going to be hanging onto those jobs two years longer than they would otherwise, and I can't really blame them.  But it creates a problem on the other end of the job market with again fewer jobs for the younger job searchers.   A more balanced approach would've been better; hike the O.A.S. by two years, and put something in play for those of us younger workers trying our best to get into the job market.

I am willing to relocate for the right offer. However, I wouldn't leave Ontario without a job to go to; my finances are such that if I were to make a physical move it would have to be employment first and then I move.  And I think most people if pressed are the same way.  If Flaherty expects us to relocate for employment, put the money where  your mouth is; give us a grant or a tax cut that will  make it easier for us to move around.

The world of job searching, and employment is completely different from when Jim Flaherty was first starting out.  And he would do well to remember that the next time he opens his mouth.


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Online Voting in Milton??

I'm against it. I don't think bringing in online voting will fix the voter apathy, and the extremely low voter turnout we've been experiencing lately.  I realize that's a pretty backward reaction; it is the 21st century and technology was invented to make lives easier it's only natural that it should be extended to the democratic process.

The reason people aren't engaged has more to do with politicians themselves I think.  Out of all elected representatives right now here in Milton at all levels of government  I can think of maybe five possibly seven people who I consider to really be engaged with the voters... out at events clearly present and accounted for.  These are people who will take time to listen, and take note of my concerns as a constituent.

Politicians.. mostly at upper levels tend to go in for the easier soundbite.  As a member of the press that's great- it gives us something to talk about; it feeds the 24 hour news cycle.  And often we are the ones who see the context behind the quote; or the full story instead of just the spin. The problem is as a voter, personally I like to see it all; the whole package- the policy as well as the pretty face speaking about it.  It all should matter.

Integrity ranks high on the list of qualities I look for in a politician. I haven't been seeing too much of it around these days.  Politicians have gained a reputation for lying and scandal- Dalton McGuinty constantly promising no new taxes and yet he keeps introducing them.  The various cabinet ministers in the Harper government who are either involved, or have been involved in scandals.  Locally we have a well-documented, much commented upon case of Tony Lambert and the charges he has faced. 

I grant some are expected- it is impossible for an opposition party to know exactly what they face if they're elected to govern.  And in McGuinty's case it is in some measure at least his fault for making that particular promise several times and know that in likelihood he's going to end up doing it anyway.  But still every once in a while it wouldn't hurt to keep at least one every so often just to surprise us.  If people saw some integrity; a little bit more we're doing what we said we were going to, then maybe they'd sit up and pay attention for a while.  Right now taking the McGuinty example again, it's too easy to look at him and say he breaks all the promises so why should I trust him?

 Voting is part of the Canadian experience.  I've worked as a Registration Officer at a federal election, and I remember it was late in the day when one couple comes up to register. Election officials aren't allowed to ask for proof of citizenship, which, was why I was surprised when in addition to the regular ID, one of them showed me their citizenship card.  It's important to remember that feeling of pride; that to use the old and melodramatic argument that people fight for the right to vote, people die for it.  I don't think it's too much to ask us to take 20 minutes out of our day once every 4 years to go down to our local school/community centre/church and vote.

Democracy is messy.   Should we clean it up with technology? In spots there definitely are places it could be used to make it easier. But it shouldn't be the be all, and end all for the voting process.   The lack of engagement is more due to politicians themselves I think than the people.  If they kept their promises every so often, and told the truth then maybe we wouldn't be in such a tough spot in terms of turnout.  

Monday, May 7, 2012

Stories to Watch: May 7-14

Some stories to watch this week.

1. Liberals cut OHIP Costs, freeze Doctors salaries: There are going to be changes to at least 37 OHIP fees before the end of this year.  Services affected include: Cardiology, Cataract surgery   The fee adjustment is expected to save the government millions.  I consider this ongoing because the fight over wage freeze isn't over.

2. Come On Over, the Water's Fine: Rumours are going around that Dalton McGuinty, and his government would welcome any member of the opposition should they decide to cross the floor.  Why not just call the by-election for Whitmer's seat and do it the legitimate  way?

3. Latest Ornge Developments: Former CEO Dr. Chris Mazza has said through his lawyer that he is too ill to testify at the ongoing hearings into the matter.  Reports this past weekend in the Star place Mazza in a rehab facility.  They are looking at rescheduling his appearance for sometime in June.

4. Federal Liberal Leadership: It's not for at least another 9-11 months but names being bandied about include Martha Hall-Findlay, Bob Rae, and Justin Trudeau.  How about someone fresh, and dynamic without any ties to any past Liberal leaders.  I've said it before, and I'll say it again; get some good fundamental policies, and anybody can lead the party.

Local News:

1. Public Input Sessions are being held Tuesday May 8 to discuss what will happen to the Scott, and Wilmont area parks.  Sessions begin at 6pm at the Milton Sports Centre located at the corner of Derry and Santa Maria Blvd.


Friday, May 4, 2012

Harper government: 1 year later...

The Harper Government celebrated its first anniversary on Wednesday May, 2.   I would give them a C+ on the first year; there were successes, and plenty of scandal.  There are definitely lots of ways to improve.

I am mostly satisfied with the job Stephen Harper is doing as Prime Minister. Harper is still the steady hand on the tiller.  He is going for a balanced economic course; there are plenty of free-trade deals at various stages of negotiation.  The way his government has handled the two major labour disputes (Canada Post, and Air Canada) was probably the highlight of the year.  He fulfilled the promise to end Canadian combat operations in July of last year by bringing the troops home- another highlight, because a politician that keeps his promise is a rare thing indeed.  The foreign policy of this government concerning Afghanistan, and Syria has continued creating what I would say is a uniquely Canadian identity on the world stage.

Where he could have raised his grade was the budget.  He really should've take a look at the bigger picture before raising the age from 65-67 on Old Age Security (O.A.S.).  The bigger picture is that there are many people my age, who are having trouble finding a job, and the move with O.A.S. only makes it that much tougher.  There should've been some balance applied; raise the age on O.A.S., and find a way to help private industry create more jobs for younger people.

There are a couple of other places the Harper government falls down.  We all remember Bill C-30 that gave birth to the twitter hash tag #TellVicEverything.  There were clear flaws in that legislation; if people had read and studied that bill perhaps the whole controversy could have been avoided.  Another is again the budget specifically the Environmental measures that would see the Assessment process shortened for resource projects.  I would mention it in the budget, and then create a separate piece of legislation for it, and look at reforming the whole process instead of the relative piecemeal way it was done.  Also there really should be more discussion on the consequences of these actions.

Then there are the scandals.  Peter MacKay and his chopper rescue, Bev Oda and her 5 star London hotel at our expense; and that's just the higher profile ones I know I'm forgetting a few.  The ministers in question haven't paid any consequences for their follies, and this is a second offense for  Oda.  We still haven't gotten to the bottom of both the F-35 debacle, and the Robo-Call scandals.  I wonder if these scandals are the reason right now they trail the N.D.P. by 10 points.

Whether the Harper government learns from the mistakes of its first year remains to be seen. I hope they can, because the scandals and lack of focus on the larger picture make them seem like a tired government.  One that in my books will stay at its C+ grade. 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Ford vs. the Toronto Star: There's Enough Blame to go around

This could boil down to a classic case of he said, he said.  Reporter Daniel Dale says he was taking photos for a story from public land, Rob Ford says otherwise.  The story Dale was covering is completely legit- about why Ford would want to buy land near his house to build a security fence; Ford says it was to make more of a play area for his kids.  This might even be a story I would have done but I wouldn't have done it like that.

Covering politics is about relationships.  If you've got good relationships, then you can get the stories; get the quotes you need when you need them. I can think of stories I've been able to get because I've kept good relationships with the people I cover.  If you have bad relationships your work will suffer.

The whole situation raises questions for me.  What was a Reporter with a newspaper that has a known feud (for want of a better term) going on with the Mayor doing anywhere near his house? And taking photos of the area at 7:30 in the evening? At this time of year, that time is when the lighting can be difficult, and if you don't have the proper equipment to compensate for that, or the photo editing software and patience your shots more often than not are going to be bad.

Ford's conduct in hindsight was on the extreme side.  What he probably should've done was to stay inside and call the police.  I can't blame him entirely though; the reaction was natural when you consider he had young children at home, and a history of threats against him and his family.

His reaction now of banning that particular reporter from scrums is in one way reasonable, in another extreme.  It's a reasonable instinct that when you or your family is threatened to want to protect them; it's reasonable to defend them at all costs.  But the thing about reporters is that we have a weird sense of reverse psychology; tell us to go right, we'll turn left... tell us to zig, we'll zag. If we think you're keeping something from us, then we become like the proverbial dog with a bone; we won't stop until we find out what it is.  Ford would do well to remember that before changing his media policy. 

It's courtesy to tell people you may be taking their photo; especially when private interests are concerned.  In this, Ford should be treated like anybody else, and a knock on the door wouldn't have gone amiss... it might have led to a better picture- a way of doing it without using his home.  And perhaps a quote for his story.

The Star's motives are a bit suspect to the say the least.  They have had a well-documented fight going on with Ford, and I don't think we should dismiss the possibility this may have coloured their actions here.  Even when you take this into account there is enough blame to go around.

It's going to be interesting to see how this plays out.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Oh Ontario how you frustrate me

 The title is born mostly of frustration.  I've been on the job market since late November... and let's say I've had enough bites to know that it's more likely because of job market conditions than any lack of qualifications on my part.   The fact is a lot of employers simply for whatever reason aren't hiring.

And I think it's about to get worse.  On Wednesday the announcement came down that Standard& Poors was downgrading our economic outlook, and Thursday Moody's decided to downgrade Ontario's credit.  It likely has something to do with the budget deal struck Monday, and then the budget voted on, Tuesday.

It probably is really  no more than a verdict on the provincial budget.  Specifically on the fact there is a new tax being applied when conventional wisdom shows us that business tax cuts are a better way to stimulate growth in private business.  And who runs private business? Usually people making over $500 thousand... aka those being asked to fork it over by the N.D.P.

It's a wake-up call to Dalton McGuinty that he's got to stick to his guns on the Public Sector wage freeze, and the other cost-cutting measures contained within the budget.  This may even shock him into re-thinking some of his response to the Drummond Report, and really going at it to cut spending.  At least these are the things I keep trying to tell myself.

I look at these moves as a job hunter and wonder if I'm banging my head against a brick wall trying to find a job here.  I wonder who will invest in a province that's got this enormous debt, and where the Premier is so beholden to his opposition he introduces a new tax just to keep power? Who will invest in a province where a government is constantly on the verge of collapse and the Premier let's face it, isn't exactly the most trustworthy as it comes to public money these days? Who will invest in a province  where taxes are probably going to keep going up?  Nobody, that's who.  Not a single investor will, and I can't say that I blame them.

And the worst part of is Dalton McGuinty is probably the best of the bunch.  In her deal with the Liberals N.D.P. leader Andrea Horwath showed a penchant for taxing, and spending usually associated with the party.  In doing some reading on their website the P.C.'s have some ideas, but they're vague at best;the minute they become policy ideas is the minute they become a serious threat to McGuinty.

So when did that happen? When did a leader who has regularly broken promises, whose government has been in recent years plagued by scandals involving out tax dollars become the best we can do? Probably after the last provincial election when even after nearly a year of campaigning voters still didn't know Tim Hudak that well or trust him.

Dalton McGuinty made the mess.  Now's the time to clean it up... if he doesn't then voters should do it for him by electing someone else next time out.  At least I hope that's what will happen.  If it doesn't  I'll move to Saskatchewan.