Causes With Credibility

July 26, 2010 § 3 Comments

When politicians come to my door at election time and start telling me all the ills of their opposition, I immediately switch the conversation to what they will do if they get into office.

Let’s face it, if the political hopeful is talking about the party in power, I already know about them, so I don’t need someone else’s opinion.

If it’s the incumbent talking about the contenders, then they aren’t focusing on accomplishments achieved while in power and what they plan to do if returned to office.

I had much the same feeling of the non-focussed politician at my door when some American environmentalists launched the Rethink Alberta campaign recently. They want to draw attention to environmental issues surrounding the oil sands in Northeastern Alberta.

Their campaign attempts to get tourists in various parts of the world to avoid travelling to Alberta. One gets the sense from seeing the video, in particular, that there was a recent oil spill in the province or that all of Alberta is an environmental wasteland.

Give them credit for slick production capabilities, pun intended, but beyond the propaganda, I ask much the same question as I do with the politicians at my door. “So, what are your solutions?”

I am sure they’d reply that creating the campaign is their contribution. If you want to identify problems, be sure to have solutions.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I applaud environmental efforts of all kinds, whether these are community-based garbage cleanups in the spring or much larger initiatives such as cleaning up the Great Lakes. I admittedly am not the greenest person in the world, but I do attempt to do what I can at a household level to recycle, reduce and reuse. I also clean up garbage on neighbourhood walks throughout the year.

I’m also a rebel with several causes. I supported a campaign to build a swimming pool in a former community. I’ve written letters to the editor when I believed wrong had occurred. I competed for a seat on a school board. I was a union steward while employed at a newspaper.

The problem with Rethink Alberta is it is nothing more than a smear campaign against the whole province. Essentially the goal seems to be to hurt the economy in Alberta.

I would love to see cleaner forms of energy production. The fact is, however, few people in North America are doing much to reduce reliance on production from the oil sands.

Are the environmentalists taking the shot at the oil sands doing anything to clean up their own country? Are they protesting the damage the massive oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico is causing?

I created a Facebook Group to draw attention to the environmental protesters. It is called: Concerned About Environmental Issues in Canada? Clean Up Your Country First!

My hope is to create some real dialogue on the issue rather than having some people point fingers at industry and government with no reasonable solutions. Let’s face it, if there aren’t consumers for a product, the industry wouldn’t be there.

I want to see money invested in research to find solutions to cleaner forms of energy. It would be great if more people walk, car pool or take transit to work, for example.

The real answer lies in all of us caring enough to make change and challenge governments and industry to do better.

However, trying to get tourists to avoid Alberta is not the answer. In fact, it could easily backfire because most travellers tend to check out the landscape before hopping on the plane and jetting abroad.

When they open up their magazine or go online and see Mount Edith Cavell or Maligne Lake, they may want to come.

Oh and by the way, when the students from the nearby elementary school come to my door to fundraise, I make them tell me how the money is being used. Same with the hockey players looking for sponsorship.

They need to be accountable, just like the politicians coming to my door and the environmentalists trying to sway opinion.

If the environmentalists really want to gain credibility, they need to stick to the issues and the facts.

In the meantime, if you live in Alberta, you know what we have.

If you’re reading this in another part of the world, check us out. We have our issues and they need to be addressed. What place doesn’t? We also have some of the most spectacular scenery in the world. We are also very hospitable. Check us out for the real story.

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Be. Do. Have.

July 19, 2010 § 2 Comments

For most of my life, I had the first two words of these three words reversed. Do. Be. Have. A certain type of person had the things I wanted to have in life.  But in order to be that type of person, I had to first do all the things that kind of person did. That meant I had to build my life and the things around it before I would ever reach that level. To me, being the person that I wanted to be was going to take years.

Last year, those words were switched up for me. Be. Do. Have. That meant I could already be the person that I wanted to be. By being that person, it would drive my behaviour to already do the things that person does and eventually have the things that person has.

As it turns out, when you’ve lived your entire life from a ‘Do. Be. Have.’ perspective, changing that around to ‘Be. Do. Have.’ is a little trickier than just switching a couple of words around.  Learning to BE before I DO has proven to be a tough process for me.

But DOing first before I can be is not working for me. It’s keeping me in a perpetual cycle where I’m striving so hard to reach the level I want and I never quite seem to get there. Why? Because there will always be an endless list of things to do.  And in a scenario where DO comes first, it’s a stage I’ll never get passed.

The trick, I think, is in letting go of what I thought I was and accepting the fact that I already am who I want to be. I’m BEing her.

Who knew changing the order of two words could make such an impact?

Be. Do. Have.

Deja Vu All Over Again

July 6, 2010 § 1 Comment

My wife and I were visiting my Mother-in-Law and other family in Ripley, Ontario last week when I heard a thought-provoking statement that jolted me out of my seat.

They were busy sorting through some genealogical documents when Joyce’s mother came across a photo of her late brother. Gordon Berry McGuire died 66 years ago this month in World War II.

She paused and remarked, “We never learn, do we?”

Indeed, it seems the world has not progressed a lot from what one would have hoped could have ended global conflicts.

There’s been virtually ongoing unrest around the world in the interim. This has ranged from religious-based upheaval in Northern Ireland to larger scale fighting involving several nations such as the Gulf War.

Gunner McGuire, a member of the Royal Canadian Artillery, died in action on July 11, 1944 and is buried in the Canadian War Cemetery in Beny-Sur-Mer, France. He was 25.

Mickey, as he was known to his troop mates, inadvertently picked up an activated grenade, left behind by the retreating Germans. Sounds very similar to the roadside bomb casualties we hear from the ongoing Afghan war.

At times like this, I hear the words of John Forgerty’s song Deja Vu (All Over Again), produced in 2004, comparing the Iraq War with Viet Nam, chiming through my ears.

Joyce’s Uncle Gordon is laid to rest in a graveyard with more than 2,000 other fallen soldiers from Canada and other Allied countries.

He is among about 200 men who perished in World War II from Huron County alone.

In June, Canada passed the 150-mark in losses in the Afghan War. We are supposed to be withdrawing in 2011, although I suspect our military involvement will continue beyond next year. Our pullout can’t come soon enough for me.

Our role in rebuilding the war-stricken country gets lost on what seems to be almost daily news that more of our soldiers have been killed.

The most heart-wrenching stories are those where we hear the soldier is just days away from returning home from a tour of duty. They are a husband, wife, son, daughter, mother, father, or brother or sister.

For a country with a relatively small population, Canada has a glorious war history, particularly for courage in specific significant battles and for our significant participation in freeing Paris and Holland in World War II. This year also marks the 100th anniversary of the Canadian Navy.

The Dutch remember Canada fondly to this day for our soldiers’ role in returning their country to them.

In the Second World War, Canada joined forces with the Allies to defeat the Nazis. We would also take engage in the Korean War. Canada participated in the first Gulf War but declined to in the second.

Since the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbour, there is reason to suggest the Nazis and the Axis Allied countries might have attempted some kind of global domination if they’d been successful in their advances.

It’s always difficult to determine how and when Canada should be involved in conflict on the world basis since only once has our own country ever been under attack.

In the War of 1812-1814, combined forces of British and colonial Canadian residents and Native Canadians defeated intruding Americans.

Now, Canada is viewed as a world leader 143 years after confederation.

I am not here to point fingers as to who is right or wrong in disputes in other lands. Factions in those nations believe in the rightness of their respective positions.

Their arguments don’t make sense to me – but then I was brought up to value life, my own and the lives of other people. I can feature risking my life to save a loved one. It would never occur to me to list Suicide Bomber on my business card.

It still galls me when Canada enters these frays and loses lives when they are not defending our borders. I support our troops and understand that Canada is a world leader. But there is also no guaranteed end to our involvement in Afghanistan and I would not like being the one telling a family they have lost a loved one.

While our government makes decisions on what battles to engage in on the world stage, would it be right for another country to attack us because it disputed something we are doing?

What is the impact of deciding not to enter certain conflicts? We came out looking good by not joining in the Second Gulf War. Some question what the difference is between the war in Iraq and that in Afghanistan.

I am more concerned with the bigger picture – the prospect of a larger threat.

That is because Mary Black is correct. The world never seems to learn.

John Fogerty had it right, too – Deja Vu (All Over Again).

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