Articles by: Dan DonovanDan Donovan
Dan Donovan is the founding Publisher of Ottawa Life Magazine, the capital’s largest and longest running (est. 1996) general interest and lifestyles magazine. His work has been featured in The Globe and Mail, Financial Post, Sun, Ottawa Citizen, Masthead Magazine and The Hill Times. He is a regular guest commentator on public policy matters on CFRA, 1310 AM and the Corus networks Charles Adler Radio Show. He is a former Vice President of Government and Public Affairs at Magna International. He served as Chief of Staff to the former federal minister of youth and labour and as Director of Publications and Communications at the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy. He is a former Director of Environment Policy at The International Chamber of Commerce in Paris, France. Dan holds degrees from both the University of Ottawa and the Université de Strasbourg (Institut d’Etudes Politique et Economie). He is a past member of the Executive Committee and the Board of the Conference of Defence Associations Institute, former member of the Board of the National Cycling Centre and a former governor of the Canada's Sports Hall of Fame. His first book, True Grits, New Grits was published by Hemlock press in 1993.

Algonquin College Offers Degrees Too!  

November 17, 2016 10:15 am
Algonquin College Offers Degrees Too!  

Photo credit: Elina Sharkova

Algonquin College promotes itself as a place to transform hopes and dreams into skills and knowledge, leading to lifelong career success. The College’s many varied and popular programs attract students from near and far. Algonquin’s teaching methodology is based on a set of core values: caring, learning, integrity and respect, and a commitment to continuously be a global leader in digitally-connected applied education and training.

Many don’t realize that Algonquin offers both college and university accredited degrees. They are approved by the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, and granted by the College in partnership with both Carleton University and the University of Ottawa. Studies take place at both Algonquin and the partnering University. The collaborative degrees are conferred by the University. The degrees granted by Algonquin College include a Bachelor of Applied Arts – Interior Design, Bachelor of Applied Business – e-Business Supply Chain Management, Bachelor of Building Science and a Bachelor of Hospitality and Tourism Management (Co-op).These areas of study and the opportunity to earn a collaborative degree is very popular with students because they provide both the academic and theoretical components of the subject matter, and a significant amount of hands-on experience.

The Bachelor of Information Technology degree is a tightly integrated, joint Carleton University and Algonquin College collaboration that offers four programs: Interactive Multimedia & Design (IMD), Information Resource Management (IRM), Network Technology (NET), and Photonics and Laser Technology (PLT). Each program offers strong practical and theory-based courses and the option of an industrial placement (Co-op) opportunity, after the second year of study.

page37_dec2016_algonquin_a602eec811_o

The Photonics and Laser Technology program offered in conjunction with Carleton University is a popular program taught at the photonics lab at Algonquin College. The photonics industry has grown immensely in the past two decades. Photonics and laser technology impacts all segments of society and industry, from the way we communicate, harness energy from the sun, manufacture things, measure things (including many important new medical instruments and laser-based therapies) and entertain ourselves with colourful displays in all sizes and shapes.

The growth of optical technology (photonics) in everything we do is inevitable and requires broadly trained professionals able to contribute to the evolution of the industry. Initially, the electronics industry was dramatically affected by the growth of photonics. However, the largest growth remains in the fibre optic and wireless communication sector where advances in technology are expanding as the sharing of information increases. Graduates may also find employment in biotech, optics, laser and space technology industries.

The National Research Council operates the Canadian Photonics Fabrication Centre (CPFC) in Ottawa. The CPFC provides a “one stop shop” for world-class engineering and manufacturing services, commercial grade prototyping and pilot-run production facilities. This had led to a sustained cluster of photonics busi-nesses and activity in the national capital region, which have further benefitted from the collaborative degree program offered at Algonquin which is one of only two colleges in Ontario offering photonics education, and related courses in the fibre optic and wireless communications field.

The Bachelor of Science in nursing degree is a joint Algonquin–University of Ottawa offering, and is one of the most reputable and popular nursing degrees in Canada. Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins says that the “overall number of nurses in Ontario has grown by about 8,000 over the past four or five years, adding that “we continue to employ many new nurses.” A job survey released from job-indexing site Indeed.com in May 2016 said that “Canada is among many developed and developing countries facing a shortage of nurses,” and the Canadian Nurses Association estimates Canada could be short as many as 60,000 nurses by 2022.

Obviously the Algonquin Bachelor of Science in nursing degree is a much needed collaborative that will provide good jobs for graduates and assist Canada in training its next generation of nurses.

Pipelines, Politics, and Policy

10:04 am
Pipelines, Politics, and Policy

In recent years in Canada, the development of new pipelines has become a hot button issue. Chris Bloomer, President, and CEO of Canadian Energy Pipeline Association makes the case for pipelines and their importance to Canada’s economic prosperity.

Proponents of pipelines in Canada often cite energy security, economic growth and jobs as factors to keep building them. Opponents raise issues of environmental impact, including the potential pollution of water, the increased likelihood of oil spills, increased carbon dioxide emissions and damage to sensitive environment ecosystems and aboriginal lands .The reality is somewhere in between. Canada is an energy exporter and companies require the ability to get this resource to market. Most agree that the alarming increase in the amount of oil being transported on trains each year in Canada is dangerous and not sustainable. Ottawa Life Magazine is presenting all sides of the pipelines debate, and in this issue we interview Chris Bloomer, President and CEO of The Canadian Energy Pipeline Association (CEPA). CEPA represents Canada’s transmission pipeline companies who operate approximately 119,000 kilometres of pipeline in Canada and 15,000 kilometres in the United States. These energy highways move approximately 1.2 billion barrels of liquid petroleum products and 5.4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas each year. CEPA members transport 97 per cent of Canada’s daily crude oil and natural gas from producing regions to markets throughout North America.

$11.5B
The amount that Canada’s
energy transmission
pipelines contributed to
our gross domestic
product in 2015.

OTTAWALIFE: What would you say are the three best arguments for building pipelines in Canada?

page33_dec2016_cepa_bloomer-chris-015_cropped

Chris Bloomer, President and CEO, CEPA

Pipelines are by far the safest and most efficient method of transportation. This is not only due to the industry wide commitments to improving safety and environmental performance, but also due to the robust regulatory environment in which pipelines are approved and operate. In 2015, the transmission pipeline delivered natural gas and liquids petroleum products with a 99.99 per cent safety record.

Market access is also of critical importance. Without more diverse and better access to markets, the Canadian economy will not achieve full value for its resources and stands to lose more than a $1 trillion in gross domestic product (GDP) over the next 25 years, and more than $270 billion in tax revenue over the same period. Transmission pipelines are the only viable option to move large quantities of oil and natural gas to new markets in a manner that emphasizes excellence in safety and environmental protection.

As we have seen with current projects, it can take years, sometime decades for pipeline projects to go through the approval process, be constructed, and to commence operations. According the International Energy Agency (IEA), world energy demand will grow by about 33 per cent between 2015 and 2040. And although the use of renewable energies is expected to increase rapidly, so will oil usage to meet this growing demand.

OTTAWALIFE: All pipelines are not the same. Some are built to carry certain types of oil but not heavier grades. What are the industry standards for what types of substances/fuels are carried in pipelines?

Pipelines in Canada must be designed, constructed and operated in accordance with the requirements of CSA standard Z662 (which Canadian Regulations adopt). When designing a pipeline the service (product) will be taken into consideration to ensure the proper calculations are used, which in-turn will dictate the material to be used, number of pump stations, and number and locations of valves.

OTTAWALIFE: Opponents to pipelines often say these projects only cause further dependency on fossil fuels as the pipelines are used to move Canadian fossil fuels to foreign markets. Is this a fair statement? If not, why?

The industry recognizes that renewables and fossil fuels must coexist to supply the world with a constant source of energy into the future. However, making the transition to a greener energy portfolio will take time, and fossil fuels will play a critical role in supporting that evolution.

Another important issue is energy poverty. According the International Energy Agency (IEA) over a billion people don’t have access to basic energy services, even in some areas of Canada.  Our country can play a significant role in helping to reduce energy poverty by sharing innovative ideas and technologies and by distributing more of our energy to global markets whether it be oil, natural gas or hydro-electric power.

OTTAWALIFE: What are the real numbers in terms of jobs created by pipeline building in Canada? Can you be specific in terms of the numbers and types of jobs created (full-time versus part-time or contract jobs etc.)?

The transmission pipeline industry is responsible for almost 34,000 full-time equivalent jobs across Canada, supporting many households.

OTTAWALIFE: What types of trades’ workers are involved in building Pipelines?

Please visit aboutpipelines.com and read the CEPA Foundation performance report. There is information about the engineering, design, construction and manufacturing companies who play a crucial role in our industry.

OTTAWALIFE: Can you explain the link between pipelines and refineries?

Oil pipelines are connected to refining infrastructure in North America and would link to the world’s refineries with access to tidewater.

OTTAWALIFE: What is the industry policy with regards to spills when they happen and sharing that information with the public?

Regulatory requirements are quite stringent when it comes to what a company must do when they have a leak on their pipeline. Incidents must be reported to the regulator who will require the company to provide details of their investigation (into the incident) once it is complete. CEPA and its member companies believe that it is important for Canadians to understand the performance history of our industry, so we have created an online searchable map that identifies the location of pipelines operated by our members, and just this past September we included incident history. Further embracing the principle of transparency, CEPA is publishing on an annual basis a report on performance, which clearly lays out where the industry is doing well and where there exists opportunities for improvement.

OTTAWALIFE: Is there an industry-wide standard and policy related to spills when they happen?

CEPA and its members are focused first and foremost on pipeline safety and the prevention of all incidents throughout the entire lifecycle of pipelines, as evidenced through CEPA Integrity First®. CEPA Integrity First® is an industry-led program established by CEPA to demonstrate commitment to continuously improving in the areas of safety, environment and socio-economics.

Integrity First® brings together some of industry’s greatest minds and most influential leaders to define, share and implement leading practices to improve performance in critical areas. The program enables CEPA’s member companies to work collectively to strengthen the pipeline industry’s performance, engagement and communications. CEPA’s members recognize that no incidents are acceptable and through adherence to Integrity First®, which is a condition for CEPA membership, they collaborate on everything related to safety and hold each other accountable to continuously improve their operating performance.

OTTAWALIFE: Are CEPA and your partners concerned about the increasing amount of fuel being transported by rail? Do you have any figures to show how pipeline construction will decrease the amount of fuel being transported by rail?

Pipelines are the most cost-effective way to transport crude oil. They require significantly less energy to operate than trucks or rail and have a much lower carbon footprint. While the move-ment of crude by rail has significantly increased and rail is one complemen-tary mode of transportation, it is not necessarily a safer mode of transportation. We view other modes of transportation, such as rail or trucks, as a complement to pipelines. Transmission pipelines in Canada transport 3.3 million barrels of oil per day — that would be equivalent to 4,200 rail cars or 15,000 tanker trucks.

 

99.999
The per cent safety record
for delivery of petroleum
products by CEPA
member companies, in 2015.
Source CEPA

Canada’s Guantanamo

November 15, 2016 9:25 am

Disgust is probably the least offensive word we can think of when it comes to describing what has happened to Adam Capay, a 23-year-old Aboriginal man who was held in solitary confinement for four years in the Thunder Bay correctional facility.

Canada is a signatory to the UN Convention Against Torture and there is an absolute prohibition against torture. Solitary confinement is considered torture. Torture is also prohibited under the Criminal Code of Canada.

In September 2015, the RCMP laid a charge in absentia against a Syrian intelligence officer named Col. George Salloum who is accused of torturing Syrian-born Ottawa resident and Canadian Maher Arar, the first-ever charge of its kind in Canada. A Canada-wide warrant and Interpol notice have been issued for his arrest. This begs the question why the RCMP has not yet issued a warrant and arrested and charged Ontario Correctional Services Minister David Orazietti and Deborah MacKay, Superintendent at Thunder Bay Jail and Karen Machado, Superintendent at Thunder Bay Correctional Centre with torture.

When the Capay solitary confinement matter was raised in the Legislature, Ontario Correctional Services Minister David Orazietti, responded by saying that: “I cannot commit to releasing any individual from segregation,” and added that: “I will not take individual action on a specific circumstance.”

It’s clear in these comments that Orazietti was probably aware that Capay had been in segregation and was therefore knowingly and willing compliant with what his officials were doing to Capay. Orazietti may have further incriminated himself by saying: “Ontario is cutting in half the number of days an inmate can spend in segregation to 15 from 30,” knowing full well that Capay had far exceeded both those amounts of time.

Orazietti and his officials are clearly in violation of the UN Convention Against Torture, in the very same way Syrian intelligence officer Col. George Salloum was a violator. The RCMP is required to enforce Canada’s federal laws and treaties. They are obligated to charge Orazietti, Deborah MacKay, Karen Machado and other perpetrators of this torture against Capay.

In Canada, 2.9 per cent of the population is Aboriginal, yet almost 29 per cent of our prison inmates are Aboriginal. An estimated seven per cent of Ontario’s 8,000 jail inmates are held in segregation for safety or disciplinary reasons. The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) has found: “alarming and systemic overuse of segregation,” with many inmates placed in solitary having mental health issues. OHRC called earlier this year for an end to segregation.

Torture is torture, no matter who the practitioner. U.S. Senator John McCain, who was tortured for five years in a North Vietnamese prison camp, has adamantly come out against the use of torture by American military and intelligence personnel.

He recognizes that the use of torture dehumanizes the torturer and delegitimizes any government that sanctions its use. Public officials complicit in torture must be held accountable. They must be charged because torture is a crime. If we do charge them, maybe, just maybe, we will make people in power who commit crimes or who are party to torture, face the consequences.

OTTAWA LIFE MAGAZINE EDITORIAL “Canada’s Guantanamo” CALLS FOR THE ARREST OF ONTARIO CORRECTIONS MINISTER DAVID ORAZIETTI AND SUPERINTENDENTS OF THUNDER BAY CORRECTIONS FACILITY DEBORAH MACKAY AND KAREN MACHADO FOR THE TORTURE OF ABORIGINAL INMATE ADAM CAPAY

November 14, 2016 12:19 pm
OTTAWA LIFE MAGAZINE  EDITORIAL “Canada’s Guantanamo” CALLS FOR THE ARREST OF ONTARIO CORRECTIONS MINISTER DAVID ORAZIETTI AND SUPERINTENDENTS OF THUNDER BAY CORRECTIONS FACILITY DEBORAH MACKAY AND KAREN MACHADO FOR THE TORTURE OF ABORIGINAL INMATE ADAM CAPAY

Disgust is probably the least offensive word we can think of when it comes to describing what has happened to Adam Capay, a 23-year-old Aboriginal man who was held in solitary confinement for four years in the Thunder Bay correctional facility.

Canada is a signatory to the UN Convention Against Torture and there is an absolute prohibition against torture. Solitary confinement is considered torture.  Torture is also prohibited under the Criminal Code of Canada.

david-o

Ontario Corrections Minister David Orazietti

In September 2015, the RCMP laid a charge in absentia against a Syrian intelligence officer named Col. George Salloum who is accused of torturing Syrian-born Ottawa resident and Canadian Maher Arar, the first-ever charge of its kind in Canada. A Canada-wide warrant and Interpol notice have been issued for his arrest. This begs the question why the RCMP has not yet issued a warrant and arrested and charged Ontario Correctional Services Minister David Orazietti and Deborah MacKay, Superintendent at Thunder Bay Jail and Karen Machado, Superintendent at Thunder Bay Correctional Centre with torture.

When the Capay solitary confinement matter was raised in the Legislature, Ontario Correctional Services Minister David Orazietti, responded by saying that: “I cannot commit to releasing any individual from segregation,” and added that: “I will not take individual action on a specific circumstance.”

It’s clear in these comments that Orazietti was probably aware that Capay had been in segregation and was therefore knowingly and willing compliant with what his officials were doing to Capay. Orazietti may have further incriminated himself by saying: “Ontario is cutting in half the number of days an inmate can spend in segregation to 15 from 30,” knowing full well that Capay had far exceeded both those amounts of time.

Orazietti and his officials are clearly  in violation of the UN Convention Against Torture, in the very same way Syrian intelligence officer Col. George Salloum was a violator. The RCMP is required to enforce Canada’s federal laws and treaties. They are obligated to charge Orazietti, Deborah MacKay, Karen Machado and other perpetrators of this torture against Capay.

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Adam Capay

In Canada, 2.9 per cent of the population is Aboriginal, yet almost 29 per cent of our prison inmates are Aboriginal. An estimated seven per cent of Ontario’s 8,000 jail inmates are held in segregation for safety or disciplinary reasons. The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) has found: “alarming and systemic overuse of segregation,” with many inmates placed in solitary having mental health issues. OHRC called earlier this year for an end to segregation.

Torture is torture, no matter who the practitioner. U.S. Senator John McCain, who was tortured for five years in a North Vietnamese prison camp, has adamantly come out against the use of torture by American military and intelligence personnel.

He recognizes that the use of torture dehumanizes the torturer and delegitimizes any government that sanctions its use. Public officials complicit in torture must be held accountable. They must be charged because torture is a crime. If we do charge them, maybe, just maybe, we will make people in power who commit crimes or who are party to torture, face the consequences.

Something is Really, Really Wrong in Ontario

September 13, 2016 3:48 pm

A creeping arrogance and sense of entitlement has seeped its way into the depths of the Government of Ontario. At a fundamental level, they do not seem to understand the value of a taxpayer’s dollar. Ontario is 315 billion dollars in debt, and is paying a billion dollars a month in interest. That is 12 billion a year not going to health care, education or other services. It is more debt, than all Canadian provinces combined. So given that context, you would think the government would be very focused on spending restraint and improving the provinces’ finances. Instead, mismanagement continues. Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk reported last December that Ontarians paid $37 billion more than necessary from 2006 to 2014 on hydro bills, and, said consumers will spend an additional $133 billion by 2032 due to global adjustment electricity fees on hydro bills. She also noted that Ontario’s electricity consumers are being charged for tens of billions of dollars due to overpriced green energy, poor government planning and shoddy service from Hydro One, and that the province’s energy ministry — which is overseeing the sell-off of Hydro One, the provincial electricity transmitter — was a mess. She asserts, “Hydro One’s customers have a power system for which reliability appears to be worsening while costs are increasing”, and said that, “more frequent power outages are happening mostly because assets aren’t being fully maintained.” More troubling, is that Hydro One is currently owed 175 million dollars because 10 percent of its customers can’t afford to pay their hydro bills on time. The government response to this was to set up another program so lower income Ontarians can apply for a hydro subsidy. Of course, more government money will be spent to administrate that system. Let’s not get into how demeaning it is for families to have to go through this process. Ontario’s push to promote wind and solar energy has proven wasteful and unnecessarily costly because the government ignored warnings from the now-defunct Ontario Power Authority, that some power plants (like a biomass-fuelled station near Thunder Bay), were prohibitively expensive. One wonders then, why Ontario Power Generation Chief Executive Tom Mitchell is the highest paid public servant in the province, for a second straight year. He earned $1.6 million in salary and benefits in 2015. In 2014, he was the leader with $1.55 million. Had Mitchell been in the private sector he would have been terminated, not rewarded. It is one thing if the taxes we pay are being used…Responsibly. But, the Wynne government is paying public servants and political hacks salaries and bonuses, that are obscene. They spent 20 million to begin setting up the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan (ORPP), and the “administration corporation”, that was supposed to run it. When they reversed-course and did not precede, they then paid an orgy of severances and bonuses to the people they hired to set it up. Neala Barton, the plan’s senior VP of communications, received $316,819, for less than 3 months’ work. Anne Slivinskas, a lawyer, was paid $341,418, for just three weeks’ work. Brian Gill, the pension plan’s CTO received $414,050, for less than two months’ work. Jennifer Brown, senior VP of operations, got $445,000, for less than three months’ work, and, (finally), CEO Mary Anne Palangio, was remunerated $465,938, for less than three months’ work. The worst: They also hired Saad Rafi and paid him $827,925 for less than three months’ work. Previously, Rafi and other PanAm Executives were paid millions in bonuses for running a taxpayer-funded game of sorts, that went 342 million dollars over budget. Why would any of them get bonuses and why would Rafi be sent from one disaster to another? Closer to home, there is the case of Constables David Weir and Daniel Montsion — who managed to beat to death Abdirahman Abdi (a man of Somalian heritage with mental health issues who was accused of groping customers in a Hintonburg café) — both are regulars on the Ontario Sunshine List. Constable Daniel Montsion made $163,251.09 in 2014 and $158,677.73 in 2015. Both officers are under investigation by the Special Investigations Unit. We deserve much better judgment, training and conduct from our police, especially when we consider what we are paying them. Why are we paying them so much? Something is very, very wrong, in Ontario.

Ottawa Vanier MP Mauril Bélanger – May A Son Of Ottawa Rest In Peace

August 19, 2016 11:16 am
Ottawa Vanier MP Mauril Bélanger – May A Son Of Ottawa Rest In Peace

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued the following statement after learning of the death of Member of Parliament Mauril Bélanger.

“I was incredibly saddened to learn today of the death of my friend and colleague Mauril Bélanger. On behalf of all Canadians, Sophie and I offer our deepest condolences to his family, friends, constituents, and many, many admirers.

“Mauril served the people of Ottawa-Vanier for over 20 years, and was a tireless advocate of francophone rights, national unity, and a fair and just society for all.

“For his efforts, Mauril was given the Commandeur de l’Ordre de la Pléïade (an order of La Francophonie), named Officer of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary, and received the l’Ordre national Grand-Croix ‘Honneur et Mérite’ from Haiti.

“Mauril held many positions in Cabinet over the years, including Deputy House Leader and Government Whip. Despite being very sick towards the end of his life, Mauril continued to serve Canadians with great dignity, courage, and strength.

“A politician universally respected by parliamentarians of all parties, he was named Honorary Speaker of the House of Commons by unanimous consent in December 2015.

“Mauril’s immense contributions to our country will be honoured and remembered. We are all the poorer for his passing.

“Goodbye my friend.”

Ottawa Life Magazine had many dealings with Mauril over the past 20 years. Mauril was a wonderfully authentic, intelligent, thoughtful and kind person. He loved public service. In March 2010 Mauril was featured on the  cover  of Ottawa Life Magazine in honour of his tireless work for the community. He appeared  as part of the series Our City Our Children which highlighted efforts being made to assist young  people and children at risk in the community. Mauril was a champion of the people and a one of the best MPs ever to represent an Ottawa riding since Confederation. He will be missed.

Prime Minister Trudeau… So Far, So Good… But Soon, The Rubber Hits Road.

July 14, 2016 3:34 pm

By all counts things are going well for Canada’s new Liberal government. Aside from Prime Minister Trudeau’s brief off-side when he unintentionally elbowed NDP MP Ruth Ellen Brosseau in Parliament, leading to a possible Oscar or “Golden Raspberry” for her and Thomas Mulcair for best performance for feigned outrage. It was a last sorry moment for Mulcair, who was earlier unceremoniously dumped as NDP leader. In contrast, interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose stole the show and surprised just about everyone with her exceptional performance and holding the government to account. Still, the Trudeau Liberals did well. They signed the Paris Climate Accord, met their target of bringing in 25,000 Syrian refugees, passed tax relief measures for middle income Canadians, passed Bill C-14, the controversial bill on assisted dying, announced a plan and process to decriminalize marijuana and outlined the methodology they will use to ensure Bill C-5, Canada’s controversial anti-terrorism law, has more Parliamentary oversight, scrutiny, review and more protection for the public.

Trudeau also met his election pledge to increase public works spending for infrastructure projects across Canada, which will significantly increase Canada’s debt in the short term. The Conservatives were upset at the plan, saying the increased spending was not required while the NDP complained it was not enough. So it appears the Trudeau Liberals landed squarely in the middle, which is where they like to swim.

However, the rubber really hits the road for the Liberals in the fall. The government swore up and down during the election in 2015 that it would follow evidence-based decision-making. The first real challenge will come when the government decides whether or not to stand behind the National Energy Board (NEB) decision to approve the Trans Mountain pipeline plan. The NEB is recommending the multi-billion dollar pipeline be constructed if 157 conditions are met, including 49 environmental requirements.

Another looming issue rests with officials at the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) who have requested and been granted a three-month extension by Environment Minister Catherine McKenna to finish the review of the detailed construction work plans and schedule by Pacific Northwest to export liquefied natural gas from Lelu Island in British Columbia. The island, near Prince Rupert, is the site of a proposed $12.4-billion export terminal.

The CEAA has expressed concerns about the project’s impact on juvenile salmon habitat on Flora Bank, a sandy area located next to Lelu Island, and has already concluded that Pacific Northwest LNG’s project would likely harm harbour porpoises and contribute to climate change.

Proponents say the export terminal could be built and operated without causing major ecological damage. However, more than 90 of the world’s leading climate change experts have signed an open letter to Trudeau and McKenna, signaling their alarm at the significant adverse effects that will be caused by a dramatic spike in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions if the Pacific Northwest LNG project gets a green light. McKenna says the decision will be based on science and evidence and Canada’s commitment to climate change.

Many First Nations and organizations like the Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition are adamantly against the project and have also warned that the project will have a devastating impact. Even if the CEAA approves it, Cabinet can override the decision. It’s a classic economy versus environment argument. The issue is whether or not there is room to swim in the middle. The Skeena Watershed Coalition has been strategically using its resources to challenge Prime Minister Trudeau to walk his talk. This poster has appeared in key locations in Ottawa in recent months. OLM was so impressed with the design of the work, we asked the artist to design the cover of this issue. We thank them for their excellent cover image.

Parliamentary Wrap-Up Session With Rona Ambrose

3:03 pm
Parliamentary Wrap-Up Session With Rona Ambrose

Attention: Rona Ambrose is not running for the Conservative leadership. However, after a stellar performance in the last Parliamentary session many wish she would. We sat down with the interim Leader of the Official Opposition to discuss the last Parliamentary session.

OTTAWA LIFE MAGAZINE: What are your observations of the new Liberal government over the last Parliamentary session?

HON. RONA AMBROSE: They have done a lot of consulting, and they still seem to be trying to find their way. Things seem a bit unorganized. I understand that it takes time to settle in. Prime Minister Trudeau didn’t come into office with much training. He was vaulted from leader of the third party to prime minister. Usually you spend time as leader of the opposition and then win an election and go into government. It’s the same for his ministers.

You have experience as a minister in government. Is there anyone who has impressed you so far or who stands out?

Minister of Health, Jane Philpott. During Question Period, she gives real answers and straightforward information. When I worked as the minister of health, opposition MPs would often come up to me and thank me for giving straight answers in Question Period or committee, and I always thought that was odd. But now being in the opposition, I see what they meant and how valuable that is. Philpott is constructive, forthright and respectful of the process.

What are your thoughts on Bill C-14? The assisted dying bill is a contentious issue, especially now that the Senate has weighed in on widening the parameters of who should be eligible.

The bill reflects a good balance. When it was brought to the House, there was, at times, emotional and passionate debate. I thought the bill was good and agreed with most of it, but I didn’t vote for it because it was an open vote and I still have some concerns. I think we need to add safeguards and provisions that address concerns raised by many in the disabled community and also for the mentally ill. It’s a very complex matter and there are so many ethical issues at stake. As for the Senate, it certainly has the authority to propose amendments but it becomes problematic when they entirely reject a bill sent to them by elected members of the House.

 The government is indicating it does not wish to be part of the F-35 consortium. Prime Minister Trudeau says the F-35 fighter jets don’t work. Comment?

The Prime Minister’s remarks about the F-35 are simply not true: they do work. Decisions on fighter jets should not be made by politicians, but by the air force. The F-35s are better for interoperability; not having them would put us out of step with our allies. The previous Conservative government supported their purchase for Canada. However, the procurement was delayed over audit, budget and oversight issues. The Hornet that the Liberals are now talking about is a good fighter jet but sole-sourcing is not the answer. The Liberals should have an open competition to see which planes to buy, but they won’t because they know if they did, the F-35 would win.

What about the debate on pipelines?

It’s interesting that Alberta’s NDP premier Rachel Notley campaigned against pipelines, and now she’s recognized they’re required and they’re safe. Now we have a Conservative premier from Saskatchewan, NDP premier from Alberta and Liberal premiers from Ontario and New Brunswick all supporting the Energy East pipeline.

There is similar debate around liquid natural gas (LNG) plants, most specifically the one proposed in B.C.’s Skeena Watershed. One hundred and thirty scientists wrote to the Prime Minister contesting the National Energy Board’s (NEB) approval of the project.

We have to trust the NEB’s process. They have made recommendations, and it will be problematic for the Liberals if they’re not going to listen to the science and evidence given to them by the appointed governmental body just because they don’t like the answer. They said decisions will be based on evidence. How can they not agree with the NEB on these issues? They are the body that decides what can happen based on all the input and the evidence.

The Conservative Party recently amended its opposition to same-sex marriage. What does that mean for the Party?

It was an important step. A large part of the Party is libertarian and they believe government should stay out of people’s lives. Then other Conservatives believe strongly in freedom and economic prosperity, and not to have their government interfere in their lives. There are also representatives from the LGBT community in the Party, so I’m very pleased and proud that the change was made.

Can you comment on the previous Conservative government’s handling of Aboriginal Affairs in Canada?

I think we did much more than we are credited for. Stephen Harper officially apologized for residential schools and initiated the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The Conservative government settled many comprehensive land claims and was also very focused on Aboriginal economic development programs that were starting to show signs of success. A significant push was made for improving the conditions and funding in education for Aboriginal children via new federal legislation. Unfortunately, that legislation, which would have injected $2-billion new dollars into education for Aboriginal children across Canada, was halted because of an internal rift within the Assembly of First Nations. This caused AFN Chief Shawn Atleo to leave. The legislation had widespread support across the country so it is sad that it did not proceed. I think it is fair to say that we (the former Conservative government) did not communicate very well in regards to the many things we did on the Aboriginal file.

You were affected personally by the Fort McMurray Fires. Are you confident the government is doing everything properly to assist the residents as they go back and rebuild?

There was a lot of support from the Alberta government and the private sector and NGOs. The federal government has also been assisting – as they should – but I will take a “wait and see” attitude as people come home from the fires and work at getting back on their feet.

Finally, many in the Conservative Party and many media pundits have suggested that you are making the Tory Leadership race tough because of your impressive performance to date as Interim Leader. Many are saying you should be allowed to run so you can stay on.

I took the job as interim leader and I am not running. I’m going to start wearing a t-shirt that says, “I’m not running.” The Conservative Party has so many great potential leaders from within politics and even some outside of politics. I’m sure we will pick a good one and then I’ll lend them as much support as I can.

Silversea: Discover The Gold Standard in Cruising

June 13, 2016 1:38 pm
Silversea: Discover The Gold Standard in Cruising

A privately owned Italian cruise line that is recognized as the gold standard in luxury cruising, Silversea’s new class of elite vessels are designed with more space for fewer guests, where travelers experience adventurous voyages to remote regions while enjoying the highest levels of personalized service. Silversea sails to the islands of Oceania, Southeast Asia, the Russian Far East, Australia’s remote Kimberley Coast, Central and South America and the exotic western coast of Africa. I recently took my 17-year-old daughter on a Silversea Caribbean cruise aboard the Silver Spirit sailing from Fort Lauderdale to Key West, Belize, Guatemala, Costa Maya Mexico and then back to Florida. Silversea sets the bar for cruising and is the company others try to emulate.

The Silver Spirit is the largest vessel in the fleet, but is still considerably smaller than ships sailing for the big-name brands. Silver Spirit proves that size does not trump quality and service. With just 270 cabins and a crew of 376, it offers one of the most favourable crew-to-guest ratios in the industry, just 1.4 passengers for each crew member. Cabins are all located in the forward section, allowing dining and entertainment facilities to be focused aft for guest comfort. Classic, elegant and luxurious are the words that come to mind when you first arrive. We shared a comfortable two bed ocean-view suite with luxuriously designed finishings including a marble-tiled and mahogany bathroom suite, two satellite televisions, a cozy sitting area, walk-in clothes closet and fully stocked refrigerator. Each cabin has butler service and the all-inclusive fares cover drinks and gratuities. Amenities include a full-service spa, salon and gym, multiple restaurants and bars, a casino and a showroom featuring live entertainment. Silversea offers free wifi to all guests (the amount of free wifi will depend on your suite category).

Panorama Lounge - Deck 9 Aft Silver Spirit - Silversea Cruises

Panorama Lounge – Deck 9 Aft Silver Spirit – Silversea Cruises

Comfortable lounge chairs were always available on all decks. We spent hours relaxing at the outdoor pool on deck nine. We never felt crowded and enjoyed an immense sense of calm in a completely stress-free environment. For passengers wanting to mix and mingle, there is plenty of opportunity to participate in group activities like bridge, bingo, team trivia and shuffleboard.

Dinners are a treat on the Silver Spirit. On casual evenings, men wear open-neck shirts and dress pants, while women opt for dresses, blouses and skirts or pantsuits. On informal nights, men bring up it a notch with jackets, though ties are optional. One night each week is set aside for formal dining so bring a suit jacket or a tux and a gown for the ladies. We enjoyed dressing up for dinner and looked forward to cocktails beforehand at the art-deco inspired Panorama lounge or outside on the pool deck. Both have a swanky, chill vibe featuring live, jazzy music from some exceptional musicians and entertainers.

La Terrazza - Deck 7 Aft Silver Spirit - Silversea Cruises

La Terrazza – Deck 7 Aft Silver Spirit – Silversea Cruises

As for the meals themselves, they are a foodie’s delight. French fine dining at the elegantly appointed 24-seat Le Champagne restaurant with a wine cellar in the centre and superb cuisine prepared in partnership with the Relais & Chateaux cooking school is on par with the finest French cuisine in the world. We enjoyed consommé with a truffle-coated scallop, shellfish with asparagus sorbet and smoked salmon with asparagus tips. (A dining fee of $40 per person is applied here, reservations are required and dress is formal business attire). Sushi at the Seishin Restaurant is incredible as well. The nine-course menu includes signature dishes like teppan grilled wagyu beef and carpaccio of king scallops with flying fish roe. The four-course meal is $30, and a nine-course meal is $40. The menu is the same every night, but changes seasonally.

Poolside on deck nine, The Grill features a wellness breakfast that offers smoothies, blended fruit and vegetable drinks, as well as a smattering of low-calorie entrées like cumin-scented egg-white omelets Florentine. It’s a great option for early morning post-workout dining. The Grill on deck 10 overlooks the pool area and serves burgers, hot dogs, grilled salmon, pasta dishes, all-in-one salads, sandwiches, wraps, barbecued steak and chicken throughout the day. At 7 p.m. it reverts into a steak and seafood restaurant where you can dine under the stars. Premium choice beef, pork, lamb chops, veal and salmon steak are grilled on hot heated lava rocks at your table. Stars, on deck seven, is an art-deco styled venue featuring cool live entertainment by South African jazz duo Helene and Garth who attracted their own following by passengers on the cruise for their exceptional talent performances. The tapas-style servings features cuisine from five continents including gorgonzola with roasted beetroot, pine nut and red wine dressing, asparagus paired with caviar cream, oysters poached in sparkling wine and sashimi wrapped in curried aioli.

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The Restaurant is a contemporary dining room with classical features and that can seat 456 passengers and serves as Silver Spirit’s main dining room, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner (you never feel like it is crowded). There’s always a great buzz in the room with the chatter and constant activity of passengers and a busy crew. Each day, the chef recommends a three-course selection and other selections could include beef filet mignon with foie gras-poached potatoes and shallot jam, a layered partridge tart with Rouennaise sauce, and wild boar ragout with porcini mushrooms, marinated short ribs one day, salmon coulibiac or Asian specialties like vegetable stir-fry, Malaysian beef curry or Thai food. For breakfasts we enjoyed La Terrazza on deck seven, where, whether we were sitting indoors or out, we felt like we were in a five-star hotel or a café in Geneva, Vienna or Paris. Offerings include a wide selection of fresh, healthy and delicious breakfast choices served on tables lined with rich white linen tablecloths, fine china and stemware. Afternoon tea is also served at La Terrazza from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. with scones, cream, delectable treats and mini sandwiches provided as a pianist entertains in this wonderfully attired room. If you’re still hungry, a room service menu is available 24 hours.

April2016_SilverSpirit_IMG_6190-450pxlThe day excursions and ports-of-call were a great addition. Key West is wonderful (read more at ottawalife.com) to just walk around and visit. The Butterfly Museum is a fascinating stop and if you feel peckish, try Caroline’s on the main street for lunch. We spent a relaxing two hours listening to a local musician troubadour on the Key West Pier, which is touristy but still fun. In Belize, we had a beach day and in Guatemala we took an eco-jungle tour and learned about local history. Our favourite jaunt was in Costa Maya Mexico, a quaint seaside beach town at the very southern part of the Mayan Riviera where we took an exhilarating three-hour segway tour before spending an afternoon snorkeling.

There was no pressure or hard sell for tours, shopping, spa treatments and art auctions, on the Silver Spirit. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Silver Spirit provides exceptional services in all these areas and hosts guest lecturers each day on different topics. Art advisor, Pasquale Iannetti, held seminars about some of the fine art available onboard including originals of Marc Chagall, Renoir, Joan Miro, Bob Dylan’s watercolours and Bert Stern’s original shots of Marilyn Monroe. Phillip Rosenthal is a diamond and gemstones expert who provides advice on best options for ports-of-call purchases, shopping taxes and related matters. Dr. Philip Martin, a guest lecturer form the University of California-Davis, gave several lectures on the history of wine making and the history of the Caribbean that were very popular with passengers.

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Each morning, passengers receive a newsletter which details daily happenings on the ship including info on the ports of call for the day. They make great souvenirs as well.

Luxury cruises have become more affordable in recent years thanks to competition and higher occupancy rates. The per diem for a comparable Silversea cruise is in the $400-600 range and most fares include an onboard spending credit of $500 to $1,500 per suite that you can use for shore excursions, Internet-access fees, surcharges in specialty restaurants, premium wines, spa treatments, or shopping. All-inclusive shouldn’t be taken literally. You’ll be charged for shore excursions, spa treatments, and additional Internet access but many items that are extras on other cruise lines, such as drinks and crew tips, are included in the fare at Silversea.

To check fares and special offers, see the cruise listings at Silversea.com.

Ottawa Police Services Crisis: The Cart Pulling the Horse

May 26, 2016 10:00 am
Ottawa Police Services Crisis: The Cart Pulling the Horse

Ottawa Life Magazine has been writing about the problems with the Ottawa Police for the past five years. In 2011, we said that Councillor and Ottawa Police Services (OPS) Board Chair Eli El-Chantiry should resign over his all too cozy relationship with then Police Chief Vern White. El-Chantiry saw no reason why he or anyone should be concerned about him socializing with the Police Chief he was supposed to be overseeing. When current Chief Charles Bordeleau was accused of allegedly interfering in a court case involving a careless driving charge against his father-in-law, El-Chantiry did nothing. His chummy, wink wink, nod nod relationship with the police management team and complete misunderstanding of his role as OPS Chair has now crossed into gross incompetence.

The OPS Board was later forced to send the case to the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) after the accusations were reported by Postmedia. When referring it for investigation, El-Chantiry said that the board was not passing judgment on what the Chief did but, acting in the interest of “openness and transparency.” He does not even seem to comprehend that the entire point of oversight is to monitor and pass judgment on a regular basis to ensure that the police are operating at the highest possible standard. Chief Bordeleau vehemently denies the accusations and El-Chantiry has further damaged the Chief’s reputation. El-Chantiry should have sent the original accusations to OIPRD and let them do their job. By not doing so, Bordeleau’s reputation has been damaged in the public eye. Bordeleau has been trying to bring change to OPS. He has a small mutinous crew of undisciplined officers on his force and continues to deal with an unacceptably high number of incidents of police misconduct by Ottawa constables, including cases of spousal abuse, driving under the influence and police improperly accessing personal data on police computers. There are also investigations underway involving 11 Ottawa police constables allegedly involved in fraudulent reporting activity. Under the current Police Services Act, Chief Bordeleau cannot terminate any of these constables. If the accusations are true, they should all be fired.

Related: Why Police Fear Evidence-Based Research.  

Ottawa Centre MPP and Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services Yasir Naqvi will soon introduce changes to reform the Police Services Act, but until then, Bordeleau must work with the current Act which is outdated and does not have the provisions to allow Police Chiefs to fire officers for criminal or inappropriate activity. The Ottawa Police Association, like most others, circle the wagons and protect their own, even when criminal behaviour is involved. This harms the good police officers and creates an environment where some police think they can commit crimes and are untouchable. In Ottawa, there have been five violent murders since January. All of them are gang and drug related. Otherwise, overall crime across the city is down. After the fifth murder, Chief Bordeleau issued an open letter asking the public to help the police. A day later, one of “Ottawa’s Finest,” Constable Paul Heffler, sent out a cowardly email to the entire force criticizing Chief Bordeleau. It was a breathtaking and insolent act of insubordination that should have resulted in his immediate termination with cause. Heffler, who has almost 30 years in policing, sent it knowing full well there was little at risk for him as he will soon retire on a fully indexed, taxpayer-subsidized fat cat pension. He actually wrote in his email that “there are few services and businesses that pay their employees $100,000 salaries and treat them like they are dime store security guards.” He raises an important point. Why are we paying police constables like him and others such high salaries, amongst the highest salaries of any public servants in Ontario, when private sector companies are available to cover these duties at one-third of the cost? If we did that, then the Ottawa Police would have the money to pay for intelligence gathering, equipment and extra resources they require to combat the serious and growing issue of gang violence in Ottawa. Instead, we have a head of Police oversight who is dumber than a bag of hammers and police constables who have become so arrogant and entitled that they now think they don’t even need to listen to the Chief of Police.

OLM Argued the Case Against Mike Duffy was Groundless Back in May

April 21, 2016 3:31 pm
OLM Argued the Case Against Mike Duffy was Groundless Back in May

Update: Today all 31 charges were dismissed against Sen. Mike Duffy. Below you can find an article Ottawa Life Magazine publisher Dan Donovan wrote last May, arguing that Duffy was being unfairly targeted by the media. Today, the judge confirmed this suspicion.

21st Century Lynching and Shakespearean Tragedy Take Centre Stage

The Mike Duffy trial is a public showcase for all the secrets and lies that are the realpolitik of the capital. Duffy has already been tried and convicted in the public eye. For theatre, he was first drawn and quartered by Canada’s national media in what can only be described as a 21st century lynching. I worked for many years on Parliament Hill as a speechwriter, legislative assistant and political staffer. The place has its own rules and more importantly, its own governing conventions. The Parliamentary press can be a self-involved and pretty sanctimonious bunch. Duffy’s trial at the Ottawa Courthouse is having the dual effect of bringing out the real story about his expenses while exposing the shallowness and callousness of the Parliamentary press and the elitism of the “pundit class” at Canada’s major broadcasters.

The national media narrative is that Senator Duffy pilfered taxpayers dollars and broke spending rules and got caught with his hand in the cookie jar. In fact, it goes further and suggests that he took the whole cookie jar…whatever that is. Even though these journalists work in the parliamentary precinct and have access to the players and procedures or conventions that govern the Senate, few, if any of them took the time to investigate or explain the conventions of the Senate related to spending. The trial is exposing much of this and shedding some new light on Senator Duffy. He, like all senators seems to have run his affairs as a senator using the vagary of Senate rules and conventions. The issue about his residency and related expenses is key. He has been consistent that he expensed these within the rules. Ironically, the Senate still refuses to release to the public several audits which show how other senators dealt with housing expenses.

The release of this information could greatly help bring clarity to the Duffy affair. If the convention was that it was ok to claim part of housing expenses in various ways and all senators did this, than Duffy has done nothing to break the rules. Duffy’s problem was that he was both popular and ambitious, which can be a deadly combo in Ottawa. He is a former award-winning and respected journalist who, for years, was one of the most popular political broadcasters in Canada. MPs from all parties and their staff would seek him out and share information or give him stories that they wouldn’t give to others. He had a great reputation, was always gracious and never betrayed anyone’s trust. People genuinely liked and trusted “Mike.” He loved Parliament and he knew “the game.”

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The evidence to date seems to indicate his Senate expense claims were not for personal enrichment but were used to pay people for tasks he was involved with as a senator. The duplicity of the press regarding their outrage and the amount of time they have spent over the expense receipts for his makeup is laughable. This, coming from the very same people that use makeup in their jobs on a daily basis, understanding that makeup is as important to a broadcast journalist as a stick is to a hockey player. It would have been far more responsible for at least one journalist covering the Duffy case to get the RCMP to explain why he was charged with bribery. Bribery requires a “bribee” and a “briber.” According to the RCMP investigator, Duffy is apparently the person accepting a bribe…yet no one was charged with giving him one.

Duffy maintains he never accepted any bribe and it appears his lawyer is making that case for him. Proportionality and fairness in broadcasting must be put back into play regarding Senator Duffy. Regardless of what you think of Mike Duffy, his rise to prominence and fall from grace are like a Shakespearian tragedy. The Shakespearian comedy in this is watching broadcasters, especially those at the CBC (who are paid with taxpayers’ money), sanctimoniously rail away at Duffy for betraying the public trust when they themselves have accepted large personal payments from private corporations to give speeches and attend conferences. Talk about a hand in the cookie jar.

Book Review: A GOOD READ! Negotiating So Everyone Wins by David C. Dingwall

April 12, 2016 5:44 pm
Book Review: A GOOD READ! Negotiating So Everyone Wins by David C. Dingwall
David C. Dingwall

David Dingwall.

David Dingwall is a lawyer and former Member of Parliament who represented the riding of Cape Breton East Richmond for 17 years between 1979 and 1997. For a time, Dingwall was the most powerful and influential minister from Atlantic Canada in the Chrétien Liberal government of the 1990s. As Minister of Health, he brought in the most progressive anti-tobacco legislation in the western world, which was widely copied in other countries. As Minister of Public Works he helped navigate some of the largest structural changes that department had seen in a generation. After an unexpected election defeat in 1997, Dingwall had to reinvent himself and set up shop as a negotiator and lobbyist. Since then, he has participated in or facilitated numerous complex negotiations in the private, public and NGO sectors and has became one of Canada’s leading experts on negotiating. During this period, he also spent a couple of years as President of the Royal Canadian Mint, where he successfully implemented a labour efficiency and business growth program that lead  to an increase in earnings of over 100 million dollars in just 18 months.

Jean Chrétien used to famously say that the Liberal way is one “where everybody wins,” and it’s a theme Dingwall embraces as he  uses real examples of the strategies and tactics that he and more than 20 of the country’s best deal-makers have used to get a deal. The book provides insight into the things that went right, and more importantly, the mistakes he and others made and the takeaway lessons. This list of deal-makers and negotiators who share their experiences in the book includes Paul Zed, Chairman of Rogers, Janice Payne, Canada’s most revered labour lawyer, former Canadian Auto Workers President Buzz Hargrove, former Ontario Premiers David Peterson and Bob Rae, Don Fehr, President of the NHL Players Association, former Conservative Transport Minister Lisa Raitt, former TD Bank President Ed Clark, Gary Corbett, former President of the Professional Institute of the Public Service and former Deputy Minister Peter Harder (who most recently led the transition team for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau).

Dingwall’s  candor about his own mishaps is refreshing and at times funny, and will make anyone who has really screwed up at some point on the job feel better. Each chapter ends with a section called TAKEAWAYS which should be required reading for law students and MBA or MPA students.  At its core, Dingwall’s book looks at negotiations though the age-old premise that “a thing can be understood by breaking down its parts and understanding how each relates to the other.” He  provides  suggestions on how to hone negotiating skills and improve capacity to get an agreement.  His description of lessons he learned from the late great Canadian lawyer, scholar and businessman Gerry Godsoe,  legendary United Mine Workers of America Union Leader Bull Marsh and fisheries expert Herb Nash are worth the price of the book alone.

The book also comes with video links to an interview Dingwall did with some of these key negotiators. David C. Dingwall, is a Cape Bretoner who now practises law in Toronto and teaches negotiation at Ryerson University.

The Lebreton Flats Fiasco and Why Melanie Joly Must Reform the NCC

March 22, 2016 12:46 pm
The Lebreton Flats Fiasco and Why Melanie Joly Must Reform the NCC

For years the National Capital Commission (NCC) has been the most inept, closed, secretive, elitist and incompetent organization in the federal government. Their tagline should be “The NCC—We Never Miss an Opportunity to Miss an Opportunity”.

The NCC board of directors has 15 members, including the chairperson and the chief executive officer (CEO). Thirteen members represent the regions across Canada. Five are from the Capital Region. They are appointed by the minister responsible for the National Capital Commission (now the Hon. Melanie Joly), with the approval of the Governor-in-Council. Their role is to oversee the corporation, ensure that the corporation’s resources are used effectively and efficiently; to monitor, evaluate and report on performance; and to foster relationships between the NCC and other levels of government and the public. In all cases they get an F.

The NCC’s continuous incompetence over decades is mind boggling. Where to start? They botched the memorial to Victims of Communism project, interfered and tried to delay Ottawa’s $1 billion light rail, against the wishes of the democratically elected Ottawa City Council. In 2011, they spent 5.2 million taxpayers’ dollars to install seven new ice chalets at a cost of $750,00 each (shacks) along the Rideau Canal which is double the value of most families homes in Canada. They messed up the so called Metcalfe Grand Boulevard plan, the King Edward Avenue redevelopment plan in the 1980s, spent decades fighting with Public Works Canada and the City of Ottawa over the development of Sparks Street, embarrassed the entire country by making a complete mess of the Millennium Celebrations in 2000, tried to unilaterally expand the Champlain Bridge against the wishes of every local city council in the region, destroyed the town of Hull in the late 1960s with the horrible development of federal buildings on the Quebec side of the Ottawa River. In 1998, Rhys Phillips, in his book Great Gaffes of the National Capital Commission said of the NCC and Hull: “what emerged from the rubble was a textbook example of the twin horrors of postwar urban renewal and late-modernist architecture. Brutalist concrete buildings encase a soulless mall that spans a bleak, six-lane street; they cruelly mock the former humanely scaled cityscape. Four thousand people were displaced. The new ‘city centre’ turns a cold shoulder to the river and the parliamentary precinct across the water.”

The NCC board members are largely unknown. One is a forest industry person, another in general management and marketing, a philosopher and the rest are all either government administrative or education management bureaucrat types. There is not one serious entrepreneur or businesses corporate executive like a Terry Matthews or Jim Balsillie. This explains the insanity of the current Lebreton Flats redevelopment proposal. NCC conditions for applying were so ridiculously secretive and onerous that only two bidders stepped up. Of these, only the Rendezvous LeBreton, 100 per cent private money proposal led by Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk is credible. The other, the LeBreton Re-Imagined by Devcore, Canderel and DLS Group (DCDLS) is not a serious bid. Their plan is built around an NHL arena and reliance on existing government incentives (whatever that means!). DCDLS does not own an NHL team and will not own one. This should disqualify them immediately from consideration. If the NCC board is dimwitted enough to proceed with the DCDLS LeBreton Re-Imagined proposal (and we know from their track record that they are foolish enough to do this) it will create the biggest white elephant in the region’s history. DCDLS is jesting in the media that they can build and then sell their rink to the competition. This is unprofessional and disrespectful to what should be a serious process. Their glib remarks about Mr. Melnyk are in poor taste to the Ottawa Senators organization who has put hundreds of millions of dollars into our economy over the past quarter century, including millions to local charities. The Rendezvous LeBreton proposal should be approved and given the fast track to proceed as soon as possible. Heritage Minister, Melanie Joly should introduce a bill to disband the NCC and set up a new agency that can better serve Canada’s capital region, of which the Mayors of Ottawa and of Gatineau should be permanent ex-officio members. The incompetence of the NCC does not serve the public interest and continues to destroy the soul of our great city.

Céad Mile Fáilte: A Hundred Thousand Welcomes

March 17, 2016 9:40 am
A view of the port city of Cobh with The Cathedral of Saint Colman in the background.

I’m of Irish descent and like millions of other Irish Canadians, the pull towards visiting my ancestral homeland has always been strong. My great great grandparents came to Canada from Waterford in County Cork in the mid-18th century at the height of the potato famine and my Irish heritage has held a strong presence in my life. The opportunity to visit last December with my son did not disappoint. Ireland is glorious in December. Cool days and colder nights, but still green and charming. I noticed a sign upon arrival in Dublin that said Céad Mile Fáilte or A hundred thousand welcomes. Hard to explain it but upon arrival, it felt like home. I rented a car and adjusted to the reality that the Irish, like their British counterparts, all drive on the wrong side of the road. It concentrates the mind and makes you forget your jet lag pretty quickly.

dubbr_phototour54We checked into the historic Shelbourne Dublin, a luxury hotel in Dublin city center, overlooking St. Stephen’s Green, Europe’s grandest garden square. This would serve as our point of departure for the next two days as we began to explore Dublin’s cultural and historic buildings. After a sumptuous breakfast in the hotel’s famous tea room, we began a 6-hour walking tour of the city through its heart, St. Stephen’s Green. Our first stop was The Little Museum of Dublin. This museum tells the story of 20th century Dublin and features over 5,000 artifacts in a collection that was entirely donated by Dubliners. It was a perfect start and served to put Ireland in context for us historically, culturally, socially and economically. A highlight of this museum was the exhibit celebrating the career, music and roots of U2. Irish humour flourishes in the place. Take a quote from Bono for example, in explaining the difference between the Irish and Americans. “In the United States, you look at the guy that lives in the mansion on the hill, and you think, you know, one day, if I work really hard, I could live in that mansion. In Ireland, people look up at the guy in the mansion on the hill and go, one day, I’m going to get that bastard.”  The Irish are cheeky and their humour and joie de vie are evident everywhere. Next up was a short walk to Trinity College, the oldest university in Ireland. Founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth 1, the 40-acre site retains some of its ancient seclusion of cobbled squares, gardens and parks. The College is famed for its great treasures including the Book of Kells, a 9th-century illuminated manuscript, the Books of Durrow and Armagh, and an early Irish harp. These are displayed in the College Treasury and The Long Hall (library) which house over 300,000 books, some dating back to its foundation.  Most of Ireland’s state-funded museums are free and very close to each other. Ireland’s Parliament building, Leinster House, can be toured weekdays. Next door is the National Library,  which features exhibits on W.B. Yeats, James Joyce, Jonathan Swift and other famous Irish writers and poets. The National Gallery,  holds the national collection of European and Irish fine art.The Archaeology Museum displays Celtic gold artefacts, including beautiful artistic necklaces called lunulas and torcs. The National Museum of Ireland, is Ireland’s premier cultural institution and home to the greatest collections of Irish material heritage, culture and natural history in the world. After 6 hours of touring we decided it was time for a “Guinness Stop” something that would become a regular occurrence on the trip. In Dublin there are hundreds of bars, pubs and restaurants that serve great beer, whiskey and food. The most renowned is the Temple Bar district. The Temple Bar pub and O’Donoghue’s are among the many great pubs of Dublin that cater to visitors and locals and serve as a musician’s paradise for live performance venues.

Temple_Bar_02We left the Temple Bar district for a stroll on Grafton Street, Dublin’s famous shopping area. Taking in the atmosphere of Christmas lights and the sounds of buskers was truly magical.We had dinner that evening at the Shelbourne Hotel’s Saddle Room Restaurant. This cozy and intimate spot  specializes in steak, oysters and seafood and has an exceptional wine list. As we dined, a light crisp, white, shining snowfall covered the streets. The snow was gone by the time we left the next morning. It was a cool brisk sunny day and we  made our towards Kilmainham Gaol, one of the largest unoccupied prisons in Europe

It has been described as the ‘Irish Bastille’. Between the year it opened in 1796 and its closure in 1924, Kilmainham Gaol witnessed some of the key moments and personalities in Ireland’s emergence as an independent nation. It is Ireland’s leading historic monument exploring the theme of nationalism. Robert Emmet and the leaders of the 1916 civil war uprising were executed here. Charles Stewart Parnell, leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party, was imprisoned here in 1881-82. The Gaol museum holds one of the finest collections of nationalist memorabilia in the country, and the exhibition displays some of Irelands most impressive objects, including an original and rare 1916 Proclamation and some items relating to Michael Collins and the circumstances of his death in 1922.For me, Kilmainham Gaol was one of the highlights of our trip to Ireland. Next up was a stop at The Porterhouse, Ireland’s first brew pub located in the Temple Bar, to drink some genuine Irish Stout. Porterhouse beers have won gold medals at the world’s most prestigious international brewing industry award (the brewing Oscars) in 1998/1999 and 2011/2012. They make their  own stouts and ales for their pubs in Dublin, Cork and other locales in Ireland and they ship to the US beer market. They also import  various beers from around the world with a keen eye on Belgium.

Gallagher’s Boxty House was next, in the heart of the Temple Bar. This is a restaurant with a strong connection with the land, culture and history of Ireland. It’s a place where people are invited to embrace the origins of the Boxty Pancake and the history of the potato in Irish cuisine and culture. Owner Padraic Gallagher is one of Ireland’s most renowned and respected experts on the potato and other Irish foods. We sampled the dumplings, corned beef, Irish stew, roasted black pudding and some Irish whiskey.

The next day we left Dublin and headed south through the rolling Irish countryside towards Cork. We stopped for lunch in the small village of Delgany, Co Wicklow to meet with Patrick Ryan at The Firehouse Bakery. Ryan is a former lawyer turned master baker. His 2011 BBC programme The Big Bread Experiment, a three-part series following a unique social experiment with one ambition — to reunite a community through bread — made him a celebrity with foodies in Britain and around the world. The wood fired oven is at the heart of everything Ryan does. Hand-crafted loaves, freshly-baked pizzas, slow-cooked meats define this award-winning artisan bakery. Ryan and his partner Laura Moore also operate a bread school in Heir Island in West Cork.

We enjoyed the next three hours driving through  the  mist and rain of the Irish heartland  arriving in Cork  (the name Corcaigh means a marsh) in the early evening. A historic seaport city, Cork began on an island in the swampy estuary of the River Lee and over several centuries expanded up the steep banks on either side. Today, the river flows through Cork City in two main channels, which explains the many crossing bridges throughout the city. We checked  into the famous 5-star Hayfield Manor Hotel. The Hayfield Manor is very welcoming and friendly property located on a hill-top estate overlooking the city. It features large luxurious and comfortable rooms with all the amenities including free wifi, beautiful grounds, a work-out room, spa and indoor heated pool. The decor is elegant and tasteful and the newly-built additions complement the older parts of the building. The Manor serves sumptuous Irish breakfasts with a variety of fresh fruit and juices. Fine dining is offered at Orchids Restaurant or you can drop into Perrotts Garden Bistro, a casual meal alternative. Head Chef Stephen Sullivan prepares contemporary Irish cuisine using the freshest ingredients from the land and sea in the Cork region.

The best way to see the city of Cork is to walk. St. Patrick’s Street and the heart of the shopping district and attractions of Cork is a twenty minute walk from Hayfield Manor. Cork offers a wealth of shops, bars, restaurants, and attractions. We spent two days exploring this historic port town whose coat of arms bears the motto ‘A Safe Harbour for Ships’. Corkonians are known as the most chatty of all the Irish. In the heart of the city, is the English Market, which is a large, gallery-type building covering an entire city block with a vaulted glass roof. First opened in 1788, the Market has undergone various changes. The market provides vegetables, fresh seafood, dairy, meats, cheeses — everything for the table. After a morning of walking around Cork it was nice to step out of the overcast mist that had engulfed the city and step into The Farmgate Café in the English Market. Committed to food grown in the Munster region, its small menu is dictated by the food stalls in the market so menu options change daily. Their lamb stew with Guinness and apple strudel hit the mark.

448px-Jameson_distillery_in_DublinCork is a foodie’s paradise and there are pubs and restaurants everywhere serving Irish comfort foods, curry, chowders, spiced beef, fish and chips and glorious desserts. Most restaurants stop serving food at 8 p.m. After that beer, wine and spirits reign until closing time. Like Dublin, you can find traditional live Irish music in venues throughout the city. Next up was a quick side trip to The Jameson Distillery in Midleton and then a visit to  Blarney Castle to take part in the ole Irish tradition of Kissing the Blarney Stone (although I still think it is a tourist thing-but it’s fun-sort of like kissing the cod in Newfoundland). Cork is a destination city for  beer and cider and you can get some of Ireland’s best cider at The Roundy’s home-made hot cider house.

After two and half days in Cork, we once again saw sunshine as we made our way south to Cobh for a guided walking tour along The Titanic Trail and  a visit to the Cobh Heritage Centre. Cobh is the port city where the Titanic left on its maiden (and last) voyage. More importantly, this small town was the port from which millions of Irish people left Ireland during the great potato famine to immigrate to North America. The rich history and tragedy of this period is well documented in The Cobh Heritage Centre. Any Canadian of Irish descent visiting Ireland should visit Cobh. I was struck by presence of The Cathedral of Saint Colman in Cobh — built by money sent back from Irish immigrants to honour the town from which they left. A  large and elaborately detailed neo-Gothic building, it prominently overlooks the harbour. The historian Emmet Larkin has called it “The most ambitious building project undertaken by the Church in nineteenth-century Ireland.” It is still imposing today. The next day we drove to the small port town of Kinsale and checked into The Old Bank Townhouse. Located in the heart of Kinsale, it is within walking distance of everything and directly across the street from the town harbour. It is an amazing heritage building (over 200-years old) that has been renovated but retains its charm. It serves hearty breakfasts, with home-made breads (from the bakery downstairs) and jams. We spent an afternoon exploring Kinsale. A popular venue is Fishy Fishy Kinsale, a ‘must do’ stop. This restaurant  has won acclaim with foodies in Ireland for its  wonderful seafood dishes made from  the freshest local catch from lobster to crab, crayfish to cod, monkfish, squid, john dory and haddock. They serve the best traditional fish & chips you will ever taste in their newly-established Fishy Fishy Chippie.  Like many restaurants in Ireland, Fishy Fishy is committed to prioritizing the core indigenous ingredients of Irish cuisine and promoting local and artisan producers.

After a day in Kinsale we headed back to Dublin and checked-in to the modern and stylishly contemporary Fitzwilliam Hotel in St Stephen’s Green, which caters to business and family travelers. After settling in we headed out to learn more about the Gaelic games. In Ireland, Gaelic games, music, dance and language are at the heart of what it is to be Irish. The two main ones are Gaelic Football & Hurling, both of which are organized by the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA). Other games organized by the GAA include Rounders and Gaelic Handball. During the late 19th century, Gaelic games in Ireland were dying out. This decline was stopped and reversed by the Gaelic Revival group. Today, Gaelic Football and Hurling are the most popular games in Ireland.

Players are boys and girls across all age groups from under 8 to under 18, and men and women of all ages. Every weekend, Club matches are played in every town and village of Ireland. The very biggest matches regularly attract attendances of over 40,000 per game. The All-Ireland Finals attract 82,500 every September to an extraordinary stadium in Dublin: Croke Park based close to city centre Dublin. The Gaelic Games have are as popular to the Irish as hockey is to Canadians. We headed back to the Fitzwilliam Hotel for dinner at the famous Michelin starred Thornton’s Restaurant. Head Chef and Proprietor Kevin Thornton is widely regarded as Ireland’s best chef. Thornton’s offers a wonderful, fine dining experience in a beautiful setting. It was a majestic way to spend our last night in Ireland.

If I was to give Ireland an Michelin rating it would certainly be three stars.

How to get there: Air Lingus

How to get around: Hertz Car rental 

About Ireland: www.discoverireland.ie , www.ireland.com

About Dublin: www.visitdublin.com

Blue Rodeo – Canada’s Band

February 22, 2016 1:55 pm
Blue Rodeo – Canada’s Band

Photo By Dustin Rabin

Canada’s Band is the only way I can describe Blue Rodeo. Since 1987, Blue Rodeo has been a fan favourite on the Ottawa (and Canadian) music scene.  They are as symbolic and important to Canada as the beaver, the maple leaf, poutine, the toque, hockey and politeness. Their music spans three decades, 14 studio albums, 4 live albums, 1 compilation set, 54 hit singles and an important part in life’s soundtrack for millions of Canadians. They sing about love and loss, the land, pain and redemption, joy, forgiveness, drinking, dancing and hope. At times they touch on politics – rarely – but when they do they have an impact. They wrote the song “Fools Like You” back in 1992 to describe Canada’s treatment of aboriginal peoples and their September 2015 song and video “Stealin’ All My Dreams” helped shake the foundations of Stephenharperdom as it concisely and angrily described the failings of the Harper government and captured people’s collective anger towards the many misgivings of the Harper regime. You know you’re in big trouble in Canada as a politician if Blue Rodeo has actually taken the time to write a song and produce a video slagging you. That’s because for three decades their songs have connected with Canadians at an intuitive level. Their presence on the Canadian music scene is prolific. Blue Rodeo are inductees in the Canadian Music Hall of Fame (2012) and received a Governor General’s Performing Arts Award in May 2014 for Lifetime Artistic Achievement, which is Canada’s highest honour in the performing arts. They are recipients of the Massey Hall Honours award which celebrates the cultural contributions of great artists and their commitment to performance at Massey Hall. According to The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, Blue Rodeo has sold in excess of four million records and won an unprecedented 11 Juno Awards, establishing themselves as one of the premier groups in Canadian music history.

For younger musicians and upcoming bands, Blue Rodeo has legendary status. Jim Cuddy and Greg Keelor are regularly referred to as Canada’s Lennon/McCartney and their songbook easily backs that claim. Blue Rodeo’s current tour landed in Ottawa on Valentine’s Day and the band gave another exemplary performance that ended with a standing ovation by the 7500 plus fans in attendance.

Ottawa Life Magazine met with Greg Keelor before the show and asked him about the song “Stealin’ All My Dreams and the timing of the release. He said “the song started out as me trying to figure out why the CBC was so “Fu—d UP” and the trail led to the PMO and then it led to what Harper was doing on a whole bunch of other things in Canada.” Keelor added that he thought the Canadian bands Hey Rosetta! and Yukon Blonde song “Land You Love” by Yukon Gold was a great protest song but that his favourite was a song called “Vote that F—ker OUT” which he said “was both true and hilarious and could apply to anyone doing a bad job in any elective office in the world when you think about it.” Keelor has a wonderful sense of humor and a subtle defiance to him that comes out in conversation. Although I don’t know it for sure, I think he may be the guy in the songs who brings the edge while Cuddy brings the melody. However they do it, it works. We get a chance to have a quick meet and greet with the rest of the band before the show and they are all genuinely pleasant. A local singer is in the room and she hands Jim Cuddy a CD of her music and asks him if he’ll listen to it, adding nervously that “I don’t think it’s that good.”

Cuddy responds – “don’t say that, I’m sure it is great.” (The CD actually is great, and she is a talented singer, but her nerves upon meeting Cuddy got the best of her).

After a high energy and melodious opening set by Toronto rocker Terra Lightfoot, Blue Rodeo took to the stage with “Trust Yourself,” followed by a series of rootsy alt-rock country hits from previous years before mixing in several new songs including “Superstar” and “Rabbit’s Foot”, both strong additions to the Blue rodeo songbook which are sure to get lots of commercial radio airtime. It wasn’t long before the fans were on their feet singing along with Cuddy and Keelor as lead guitarist Colin Cripps created his own magic with well-timed riffs and the occasional solo. Bassist Basil Donovan stayed in the background, as always, while pianist Michael Boguski was front and centre for a few solos of his own on “5 Days in May” and “Dark Angel”. A highlight of the night was the Cuddy-Keelor acoustic segment and Cuddy’s still amazing rendition of “Try”, which he has probably sang 10,000 times but still makes it sound new, and Keelor’s haunting rendition of “Dark Angel”. The finale featured Terra Lightfoot and her band along with Blue Rodeo and thousands of fans singing “Lost Together”. A magical moment for sure. It occurred to me that the reason Blue Rodeo concerts are so good is that these guys genuinely love to perform. They just love what they are doing and it shows and they seem happiest on stage when their fans are singing and dancing along. Years ago Jim Cuddy wrote a line in the hit song “Rena” that says it all: “I taught myself to play so I could be where people danced.” We’re still dancing.

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OLM Editorial: The LeBreton Flats Fiasco and Why Melanie Joly Must Reform the NCC

February 3, 2016 1:55 pm
OLM Editorial: The LeBreton Flats Fiasco and Why Melanie Joly Must Reform the NCC

A concept image for Rendevous LeBreton. 

For years the National Capital Commission (NCC) has been the most inept, closed, secretive, elitist and incompetent organization in the federal government. Their tagline should be “The NCC- We Never Miss an Opportunity to Miss an Opportunity.”

The NCC board of directors has 15 members, including the chairperson and the chief executive officer (CEO). Thirteen members represent the regions across Canada. Five are from the Capital Region. They are appointed by the minister responsible for the National Capital Commission (now the Hon. Melanie Joly), with the approval of the Governor-in-Council. Their role is to oversee the corporation, ensure that the corporation’s resources are used effectively and efficiently; to monitor, evaluate and report on performance; and to foster relationships between the NCC and other levels of government and the public. In all cases they get an F.

The NCC’s continuous incompetence over decades is mind boggling. Where to start? They botched the memorial to Victims of Communism project, interfered and tried to delay Ottawa’s $1 billion light rail, against the wishes of the democratically elected Ottawa City Council. In 2011, they spent 5.2 million taxpayers’ dollars to install seven new ice chalets at a cost of $750,00 each (shacks) along the Rideau Canal which is double the value of most families homes in Canada. They messed up the so called Metcalfe Grand Boulevard plan, the King Edward Avenue redevelopment plan in the 1980s, spent decades fighting with Public Works Canada and the City of Ottawa over the development of Sparks Street, embarrassed the entire country by making a complete mess of the Millennium Celebrations in 2000, tried to unilaterally expand the Champlain Bridge against the wishes of every local city council in the region, destroyed the town of Hull in the late 1960s with the horrible development of federal buildings on the Quebec side of the Ottawa River. In 1998, Rhys Phillips, in his book Great Gaffes of the National Capital Commission said of the NCC and Hull: “what emerged from the rubble was a textbook example of the twin horrors of postwar urban renewal and late-modernist architecture. Brutalist concrete buildings encase a soulless mall that spans a bleak, six-lane street; they cruelly mock the former humanely scaled cityscape. Four thousand people were displaced. The new ‘city centre’ turns a cold shoulder to the river and the parliamentary precinct across the water.”

IllumiNATION LeBreton

IllumiNATION LeBreton

The NCC board members are largely unknown. One is a forest industry person, another in general management and marketing, a philosopher and the rest are all either government administrative or education management bureaucrat types. There is not one serious entrepreneur or businesses corporate executive like a Terry Matthews or Jim Balsillie. This explains the insanity of the current LeBreton Flats redevelopment proposal. NCC conditions for applying were so ridiculously secretive and onerous that only two bidders stepped up. Of these, only the Rendezvous LeBreton, 100 per cent private money proposal led by Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk is credible. The other, the LeBreton Re-Imagined by Devcore, Canderel and DLS Group (DCDLS) is not a serious bid. Their plan is built around an NHL arena and reliance on existing government incentives (whatever that means!). DCDLS does not own an NHL team and will not own one. This should disqualify them immediately from consideration. If the NCC board is dimwitted enough to proceed with the DCDLS LeBreton Re-Imagined proposal (and we know from their track record that they are foolish enough to do this) it will create the biggest white elephant in the region’s history. DCDLS is jesting in the media that they can build and then sell their rink to the competition. This is unprofessional and disrespectful to what should be a serious process. Their glib remarks about Mr. Melnyk are in poor taste to the Ottawa Senators organization who has put hundreds of millions of dollars into our economy over the past quarter century, including millions to local charities. The Rendezvous LeBreton proposal should be approved and given the fast track to proceed as soon as possible. Heritage Minister, Melanie Joly should introduce a bill to disband the NCC and set up a new agency that can better serve Canada’s capital region, of which the Mayors of Ottawa and of Gatineau should be permanent ex-officio members. The incompetence of the NCC does not serve the public interest and continues to destroy the soul of our great city.

Astana Emerges: Expo 2017

January 26, 2016 1:49 pm
Astana Emerges: Expo 2017

The most important green energy Expo of the decade takes place in Astana, Kazakhstan in 2017.

Nursultan Nazarbayev President of the Republic of Kazakhstan is inviting the world to attend Expo 2017 in Astana, one of the world’s most modern and green cities.

The Expo 2017 global gathering will showcase developments from around the world in the field of green, renewable and sustainable energy. Expo 2017 will place Astana, Kazakhstan in the international spotlight for three months from June 10 to September 20, 2017. During the world-class event, Kazakhstan will host delegations from over 100 countries, and will showcase cutting-edge green energy and sustainability technologies that could provide solutions to energy issues around the world. It will draw three to five million visitors, which would make it the largest international gathering of its kind for both Kazakhstan and Central Asia.

Kazakhstan is a major producer of non-renewable energy sources, but it has been using the profits from these successful ventures to transition to a “green” economy. Expo 2017 is expected to increase foreign investment, international trade and tourism in the country and raise its international profile, making it one of the most influential states in Central Asia.

Roman Vassilenko, Chairman of the Committee for International Information, said that a key part of Expo 2017 is the Future Energy Forum.

“Future energy is one of the most universal discussions of our time, which is why we have chosen it as the central theme for Expo 2017.” The Future Energy Forum will attract the world’s leading experts in green energy, renewables, green technologies and science-related matters. Organizers hope the Future Energy Forum will be the nexus to establish cooperation between international governments, social and business structures and academic communities, including universities, academic institutes, research centers, public foundations and NGOs.

2017 President

Nursultan Nazarbayev President of the Republic of Kazakhstan

Expo 2017 will turn Astana into a showcase for the latest global developments in the energy sector and will transform it into a hub for developing alternative energy solutions across Central Asia. Vassilenko said that Kazakhstan will also use the 2017 global fair to call for increased use of renewable energy resources and “will be an important platform for innovations in renewable energy, including wind, solar and hydro power.” Organizers expect that the expo will expand Kazakhstan’s global cooperation with industrialized, developing and less developed countries. Kazak officials have a particular focus on developing nations south of the equator, hoping the Expo will trigger a new era of expanded development programs with them. President Nursultan Nazarbayev has told his officials that Expo 2017 will be “the greatest achievement at the international level since Kazakhstan’s independence.”

Expo 2017 will also bring hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue and considerable international exposure to the country and offer it the opportunity to showcase and advance the latest technological, scientific and cultural achievements in green energy on the world stage.

Canada is expected to have a strong presence in Astana. Canadian Foreign Affairs officials have been actively working with Kazakhstan on governance models for over a decade, and the Canadian Ambassador to Kazakhstan Shawn Steil is highly regarded by government and business officials in the country. In addition, the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), a highly respected Canadian think tank, has been working closely with Kazakhstan officials and using its in-house expertise and its worldwide network of practitioners to share their knowledge on some key governance issues in the country. CIGI is also a partner in the Balsillie School of International Affairs (BSIA), an institute for advanced research, education, and outreach in the fields of global governance and international public policy.

Jim Balsillie is the founder of the BSIA and is the former founder of Blackberry. He is currently the Chairman of Sustainable Development Technologies Canada (SDTC), the Canadian government’s six billion dollar cleantech fund. SDTC works to bring economically viable, clean technologies to the market. SDTC invests in globally competitive Canadian companies that produce tangible environmental benefits that make Canada’s economy more competitive. It is expected that Balsillie and Environment Minister Catherine McKenna and other senior Canadian officials will be invited to attend the global expo along with green energy stalwarts like Al Gore, Elon Musk, Laurent Fabius and many of the key participants in the 2015 Paris Climate Change agreements. Over 2.5 billion people live in close proximity to Kazakhstan, and it’s only a three-hour flight from the capital city of India, a five-hour flight from the capital of China and a three-hour flight from Moscow. In addition, there are excellent connections from North America for western visitors.

The government of Kazakhstan has allocated almost a half-billion dollars to construct the expo site and build a new generation of mass transit and roads to serve it. The expo itself will be held on 113 hectares (279.23 acres) of land at the end of Millennium Alley in the new southwest district of the city. The Millennium Alley area “combines numerous facilities of political and cultural significance for the city…close to the city’s new center.” The expo site has also attracted $1.3 billion in foreign investments for the new buildings, roads and transit systems, including a new city railway system.

2017 Logo“This includes the costs of constructing the exhibition pavilions and new hotels for visitors,” said Expo 2017 National Coordinator and Executive Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Rapil Zhoshybayev. “This will be mainly paid out of new investments. And it is in line with the average amount spent on holding other Expos around the world.” Organizers also plan to install streaming cameras throughout the expo site to broadcast the event worldwide.

“Astana will become the first digital Expo, with video cameras and Wi-Fi everywhere, so that every corner of the world with access to the Internet can see this historic event,” said Aidar Kazybayev, chairman of the Trade Committee of the Ministry of Economic Development.

“Astana will become the first digital Expo, with video cameras and Wi-Fi everywhere, so that every corner of the world with access to the Internet can see this historic event,” said Aidar Kazybayev, chairman of the Trade Committee of the Ministry of Economic Development.

And all of this effort will not go to waste after the expo is over. Venues built for the exposition will serve as longer- term investments by positioning Kazakhstan and its capital as an attractive center for future large international expositions and information presentation platforms.“Part of the exhibition facilities and platforms will be used as scientific laboratories, scientific centres and research institutes after the exhibition is held.

“We want to use the buildings erected as the expo village and the hotels in the future as (government-owned) apartment buildings. This will help resolve social issues and development of our capital,” Zhoshybayev said. Part of those facilities will be used as a new Nazarbayev University research center, which could be used to further the innovations presented at the expo.

Hosting Expo 2017 comes at a perfect time for Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan recently became a member of the World Trade Organization and that combined with Expo 2017 will exponentially increase awareness in the global community about Kazakhstan.

Kazakhstan officials hope that by helping stimulate international discussion on sustainable green energy and economies through their hosting of the world’s most important green energy expo, it will increase their presence in world affairs.

Visit the official site of the Expo.


 

Editor’s Note: In our latest print issue, we did not use the correct photo of  Nursultan Nazarbayev President of the Republic of Kazakhstan. We have corrected this error in the online version and will be publishing a correction in our next issue.

 

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