Publisher’s Message

November 13, 2012 2:15 pm

Numerous Canadian public policy academics, public health experts and writers, including André Picard and Jeffrey Simpson at The Globe and Mail, claim that Canada’s health-care system is lagging behind other western countries. As Picard noted in a column last spring in The Globe and Mail entitled Dragging Medicare into the 21st Century: “Canadians take pride in besting the United States on the health front, but it is a hollow victory. The reality is that every other developed country has universal health care that is better, fairer and cheaper than ours. We are big on grand pronouncements such as, ‘Medicare is what defines us as Canadians.’ But we are laggards on the practical side. Canadians want care that is appropriate, timely, accessible, safe and affordable, from birth until death. Yet our system is failing on virtually all those measures. Why? For starters, we lack vision and goals. Canadian health care is a $200-billion-a-year enterprise with no clear goals and a dearth of leadership. We talk endlessly about the sustainability of Medicare but have no idea what we want to sustain.”

It is an interesting and relevant comment in these days of austerity and increased demand on the health-care system. A great Christmas gift is a book called Chronic Condition by Jeffrey Simpson that highlights the serious crisis in Canada’s health-care system and blows up the “myth” of Canada having the best system in the world. Simpson maintains that Canadians have only four options to end this growing crisis: 1. cuts in spending 2. tax increases 3. privatization and 4. reaping savings through increased efficiency. Ottawa Life Magazine begins its Health-Care Series Are We as Good as We Think We Are? in this issue with an overview of some of the serious challenges in our national Medicare system. Over the length of the series, we will look to Wendy Nicklin of Accreditation Canada and other health experts to provide readers with some insight into how Canada’s health-care system can be made more efficient and accessible for all without bankrupting the nation.

Health care should be one of the top priorities for discussion during the upcoming Liberal leadership race. It will be interesting to see which of the candidates has the courage to take on this behemoth. As Simpson notes: “Medicare is the third rail of Canadian politics. Touch it and you die. Every politician knows this truism, which is why no one wants to debate it. Privately, many of them understand that the health-care system, which costs about $200 billion a year in public and private money, cannot continue as it is — increasingly ill-adapted to an aging population with public costs growing faster than government revenues.”

The Liberal leadership candidate who addresses this issue head on may find that he/she has more support than he/she thinks. Time will tell. Be happy. Be healthy. Merry Christmas!



Letter from the Publisher

September 7, 2012 8:24 am
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Twelve years ago when we started the first Annual Top People in the Capital issue, JDS Uniphase CEO Jozef Straus was our number one pick. Remember him? Do you even remember JDS Uniphase – the Halley’s Comet of Ottawa high-tech companies? Other picks in 2000 included then Prime Minister Jean Chrétien and hometown chanteuse Alanis Morissette (still going strong). One of the people who made the list in that first year was comedian Mike MacDonald – a legend in comedy circles and every comic’s favourite comedian. This Ottawa boy is the Woody Guthrie of Comedy whose bits are repeated time and again by other comedians – the highest tribute in comedy land. A generation of stand-up comics from Canada and the United States grew their craft watching Master Mike do his thing. Saturday Night Live’s Norm MacDonald (a fellow Ottawa boy, but no relation to Mike), Jim Carrey, Angelo Tsarouchas, Russell Peters, Chris Finn, Jeremy Hotz and others will all tell you “their Mike story.”

This year, Mike is TOPs on our list again but the honour is not just for his comedy career but more for his courage in facing down the juggernaut of Hepatitis C which is destroying his liver. Mike’s story and courage in returning home to beat down this demon is truly inspiring and he does it while not losing his sense of himself or his sense of humour. Mike honours us because his love for his hometown of Ottawa is what brought him here to heal. We wish him only the best. (Be sure to read the entire 5,000-word interview with Mike MacDonald at

Our number 1 pick on our Top 25 list for 2012 is the TIPES (Thinking in Pictures Educational Services) team of Dr. Jeff Sherman, Deborah Wyatt and Jennifer Wyatt. TIPES is an Ottawa-based professional service providing affordable applied behaviour analysis (ABA) therapy, social integration, family relief services, and training courses for parents and professionals. TIPES’ success in teaching children and youth with Autism and other exceptionalities to reach their potential in a positive learning environment by using a team-based approach, individualized program planning and recreational activities is being recognized across Canada and internationally. TIPES’ costs are lower than similar government-based programs – with a great success rate!

Other picks this year include an athlete, a foodie, business people and a politician. One thing never changes. Ottawa is home to some extraordinary people!

Publisher’s Message: Canada Lives in the Centre

May 8, 2012 8:47 am

Ottawa is still a small big town. Federal politics are deeply woven into   the community and play a large part in the vibe of the city.  Politics can be a nasty business and I believe that over the past two decades the political arena has become exceptionally partisan and toxic to a point where even reasonable people will take a pass on a good political discussion.

I am one of those Canadians who lives in the middle. Prior to the Alberta election, I found myself privately cheering on Alberta Premier Alison Redford, hoping that the majority of Albertans would re-elect her rather than elect Danielle Smith (who is a kind of Sarah Palin with a brain, which is really scary). I’ve been to Alberta many times and found that Albertans have similar values as other Canadians. So why would all these Albertans vote for Danielle Smith’s extreme agenda? In the end, Redford’s Conservatives won 61 of the 87 seats up for grabs, crushing the Wildrose Party and Smith. Redford did this by appealing to the common values of the diverse, optimistic and polyglot community of people living in the province. (Sound familiar? They live in the rest of Canada too!)

In fact, Redford won using the same strategy in Alberta that Stephen Harper has deployed. Govern from the centre because the majority of Canadians live in the centre. When Stephen Harper was first elected, people seemed unsure about him. He was this serious guy who had a view of Canada that many postulated was more right-wing conservative than conservative. He was not a warm and fuzzy guy or particularly charismatic. But over time Canadians have warmed to him. They haven’t embraced the guy, but they do respect him and seem prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt on most matters of public policy.

May 2012 Issue of Ottawa Life

A big part of Prime Minister Harper’s success has been his family and in particular his wife Laureen.A former graphic designer and entrepreneur before being thrust into political life, Laureen Harper has represented Canada with class and distinction at home and abroad. In addition to  her  official duties with  the Prime Minister, Mrs. Harper works on behalf of several charities while coping with the daily demands that come with raising two teenagers. For many, her kind disposition and easy going manner have helped soften the harder image many Canadians have of her husband. This has really made a difference for Stephen Harper and it shows whenever the two appear together at public events.  Margaret Trudeau, Maureen McTeer, Mila Mulroney, Aline Chrétien and many other spouses of former Prime Minister’s evoke certain responses when their names come up in conversation.Mention Laureen Harper’s name in Ottawa and the response usually involves the descriptive that she’s funny, smart, classy, a great mom, friendly and community oriented. My favourite descriptor is that she is Stephen Harper’s “centre.”

Last but not least, I’m very excited to be presenting to you the premiere edition of OLM Live!, a unique and vibrant video product and one of OLM’s newest projects. I wholeheartedly invite you to join our Ottawa-savvy host, Sara Mendoza, in her adventures into the best that Ottawa has to offer. This edition will sharpen your sweet tooth as well as take you to the Ottawa Convention Centre for a sneak peek into a very special photo shoot. Visit to watch OLM Live! episodes and to stay up-to-date with what life has to offer in Ottawa!

Northern Lights, Spies and the Bright Light – Georgiy Mamedov – Russian Ambassador

January 31, 2012 4:00 pm
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Today, some of the most influential voices guiding the social and economic development of Canada’s North are women and the ones gracing our cover  will attend the second Northern Lights conference in Ottawa – a business and cultural showcase celebrating Canada’s North and the eastern Arctic, including the regions of Nunavut, Nunavik, Nunatsiavut and Labrador.

Northern Lights Conference

The event is a joint venture of the Labrador North Chamber of Commerce and the Baffin Regional Chamber of Commerce. Of particular interest is the Northern Ambassadors’ Forum, hosted by the Hon. Bill Rompkey, former Senator for Labrador. Five ambassadors will serve as panelists, including David Jacobson from the United States, Erik Vilstrup Lorenzen from Denmark, Else Berit Eikeland from Norway, Teppo Tauriainen from Sweden and Georgiy Mamedov of Russia. This should be a riveting session, given the interest surrounding Arctic sovereignty and issues related to the development of Arctic natural resources. It will also be one of the last opportunities to catch a glimpse of Georgiy Mamedov, the very popular Russian ambassador to Canada who is in the final year of his nine-year posting. This will be the first time Ambassador Mamedov is present at a public forum with Canadian government officials and the American ambassador since it was disclosed that a Canadian Forces soldier in Halifax was arrested and charged with supplying top secret U.S.-Canada military secrets to Russian agents in Canada, working out of the Russian Embassy in Ottawa.

Georgiy Mamedov. Photo via CBC News

Georgiy Mamedov is a well-known, recognized political and diplomatic force in international circles. Prior to his Ottawa posting in June 2003, he was a key advisor to then President Putin, the current Prime Minister, and a trusted mentor and advisor to  President Medvedev. I have interviewed Mamedov on several occasions and appreciate  his refreshingly candid responses. In 2003, I asked him about Russia’s views on the U.S. invasion of Iraq. He replied that it would prove to be a costly and disastrous tactical error that the United States would eventually come to regret. He also added that George W. Bush should listen more to Jean Chrétien, whom he viewed as a very wise man. In 2005, I asked him why Russia should expect to become part of the G-8 and a member of the international trading community if it imposed illegal trade and business practices against legitimate Western entities investing in Russia. Mamedov replied that “Russia’s first priority would be to protect natural resources in the state interest and that Russia and Russia alone would decide what natural resources were in the national interest. If BP, Petro Canada, Shell or other multinationals didn’t like it, too bad.” He noted that Canada and other Western countries are hypocrites because they do the same thing to protect their national interest so there should be no problem for them if Russia did the same. Several years later, when the Harper government moved unilaterally to protect Canada’s potash industry from falling into foreign hands, I was reminded of Mamedov’s remarks. In May 2010, I asked if Russia had any interest or claims on Canada’s Arctic territory or in the Northwest Passage. He laughed and said: “Listen… your problem is with the Danes in the eastern Arctic over that little island. Besides, we don’t have any claims against your Arctic territory. We are too busy dealing with our own Northeast Passage so Canada can relax about any such claims.” Then he added …“but the Americans have interests there, so you should be careful”… and he smiled. We are going to miss you, Mr. Mamedov.

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