Agree or Disagree: Cameras on Police Officers

Agree or Disagree: Cameras on Police Officers

I sense that there will be an instant reaction to this one.

The idea of installing Cameras on Police Officers is becoming a more common thought and discussion as time goes on. Some have suggested that it would help in what is going on in Ferguson right now. As well, some have already started.

The reason? The early study’s are suggesting it is preventing crime. I’ll let you read the link above as an example.

What do you think of this idea!

1 in 5

1 in 5.

It’s been a number that has been ringing in my head this week.

1 in 5.

If you believe the statistics from the Canadian Mental Health Association,and there is no reason not too, 1in 5 Canadians suffer from some form of mental illness. Maybe it’s depression. Maybe it’s anxiety. Maybe it’s behaviour or substance abuse.

Let’s put this in perspective.

As you scroll down your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest feed, 1 in 5 people’s status could suffer from a mental illness.

Of the people that you might have an online debate with, 1 in 5 could be suffering from a mental illness.

When you are at work,1 in 5 of your colleagues could be suffering from a mental illness.

When you are at the bar or the pub, 1 in 5 of the crowd could be suffering from some sort of mental illness.

If you are a church goer, 1 in 5 people in your church could be suffering from a mental illness. This by the way, will include the pastor, the ushers and the worship band.

We were all impacted this week by the sudden death by Robin Williams. A very talented, gifted actor and comedian, with apparently from us on the outside, wax successful and rich. We were shocked to learn it was death by suicide. We expressed our condolences, reflected on his great movie’s and TV Shows and honoured his talent.

Then a blog was written by someone that angered, hurt and deeply offended many people about depression and suicide. You know who it is. I’m not going to talk about it, because it is not the point of this conversation.

There was debate about solutions, choices and options. There were also many posts about mental illness this week. Here were a couple of things that stuck with me.

The first on is that depression is not discriminatory. It can happen to any of us, no matter the social status. There were many comments about how money cannot buy you happiness. If that is your thought, then I highly suggest you educate yourself on mental illness.

The second one might make you feel uncomfortable.

It is estimated that there are approximately 3,500 death by suicides in Canada. That averages out to 9.5 a day. Let’s put this in perspective.

The day before Robin Williams passed, it was possible that up to 9 people died by suicide.

The day that Robin Williams passed, it was possible that up to 9 people died by suicide.

The day after Robin Williams passed, it was possible that up to 9 people died by suicide.

I have to ask if there was any moving tributes or thoughts about that on social media this week?

Something else. The Distress Centre reported that there was a 6-7 percent increase in calls from people considering suicide this week. On Tuesday, they reported 200 calls about considering suicide.

There could be a number of theories as to why that is. However, remember this.
The Distress Centre takes calls like this every day. 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. Including Christmas. The day before Robin Williams passed. The day of Robin Williams passing. The day after Robin Williams passing.

They will also take calls on suicide when this story becomes a distant memory.

I’m not an expert on this topic at all. I’m learning and continuing to educate myself on this issue. The main thing I’m learning is that there is lots to learn. And as much as we can tell someone to cheer up pray more, eat better, or look on the bright side of live, I’m learning this issue is much more complex.

I do think that the conversation around this needs safety, security and respect. There was a time I brought the topic in this thread and it came off very offensive. For that, I’m sorry.

However, this leads me to some questions.

I’m wondering how does topic move from something that we talk about when this happens to a person of stature to reminding people to be aware that mental illness is a real daily issue?

I’m also wondering how we help people be aware of others. How do we remind people that there is more to us than what you see? And there is power in connecting?

I also wonder how us in the blogosphere can move this topic to a respectful, kind, open, dialogue?

How does the 1 in 5 continue to resonate with us?

Agree or Disagree: The Podcast-Redford’s Resignation.

Agree or Disagree:The Podcast

Albertans woke up yesterday morning to find out that former Premier, Alison Redford, had resigned her seat from the Legislature, one day before the Auditor General’s report is released to the public. Click the above link to hear Erin Skye Kelly, Steven Britton, and I discuss the implications.

Topics include,

The reaction to the resignation and Redford
The response of the PC Party
The current status of the PC Leadership candidates
The current perception of the other parties
The initial casting of Redford the Movie


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Agree or Disagree: The Podcast-A Christian who lived in Palestine

Agree or Disagree:The Podcast

Click the above link to listen.

Steven Britton, Agatha Smykot, and I speak with Chris Dittmann Chris lived in the West Bank and has a good perspective on what is going on in Palestine.

Topics include,
Chris gives us a history of Israel-Palestine. He admits his position is viewed contentious.
His perspective on the current situation.
His time in Palestine
Some suggestions of solutions
Who is Hamas? Can you be Pro-Palestine without supporting Hamas?
Israel’s response.
The challenges of being a Christian and supporting Palestine.
The current protests and why there are incidents.
The concept of Canadian Values
How do you get educated on the issues?


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My observations of what is going on with the Israel/Palestine rallies








I’m not a person that attends rallies. The reason is that I’m not convinced that are an effective method of getting your point across.

However, within the last week, I’ve been to three rallies. They all were involving the current Israel/Palestine conflict. On Saturday in Toronto, I was walking down the street when I noticed a father and a daughter carrying an Israeli flag and a sign. I quickly turned around and followed them. I landed in Queen’s Park where a two security fences were put up. In the middle were three cops guarding the pathway in between. No one was allowed through. Turns out that it was the largest Pro-Palestinian rally in North America. On one side of the fence was the Pro-Palestinian crowd. They had speakers planned. On the other was the Pro-Israel side. They were there as a response to the Pro-Palestinian rally. The leaders of the Pro-Israel side was the Jewish Defence League. I never have seen this group before, but my first response was this would not be a group of people that I would want to anger.

As the crowd gathered for both the Pro-Palestine and Pro-Israel sides, I decided to sit in the park and observe. There were a few people with cameras observing. However the crowds got so big that I moved to the middle of the park. To my left was the Pro-Palestine group. Signs raised high and pointed directly to my right, the Pro-Israeli side. Their side of the park filled up. They had their signs pointed at the Pro-Palestine side. The anger from each side vibrated the park. It felt like a volcano was going to erupt. If the police were not there,I could not imagine what would have happened. Both sides were yelling at each other. One person tried to reason with the Pro-Israel side and was shouted at. He was called an “Arab lover”.
Organizers from the Pro-Palestinian volunteers were quickly escorting Palestinian supporters across to their side. One very large man from the Palestinian side wanted to go across to the Israel group and attack them but was held back.

In the middle was a group that was trying to bring a smile to the situation. They were a group offering Free Hugs. It was a group of younger people with funny names and titles. One name was Oz and his role was Laughter Supervisor. As sincere as that seemed, unfortunately, it wasn’t helping. As an example, one of the huggers went to a member of the Pro-Israeli side to offer a hug. The response was this

“You remember why you have the freedom to hug someone.”

I’ll explain why this didn’t work in a moment.

As the afternoon went on, the intensity and the anger continued to rise. Fortunately, there were no fist fights, but lots of insults. Which is hard to watch.

The next day, there was a Pro-Israel rally. I was curious what would happen. That rally felt peaceful. It seemed like it was a different group that came. Families, seniors and Rabbi’s. What was interesting was that there was one Pro-Palestine member that showed up. I didn’t see him, but someone mentioned this on Twitter.

The third one was last night. The Calgary for Israel rally. It was organized by Ezra Levant in response to an incident that happened between some Palestinian and Israeli’s did get into several fights in Calgary. Ezra initially tweeted out that there were “easily 2,000 people there”. I asked security there how many he saw, he told me 700. I also asked a quick member of the media and they estimated less than that. The number that came up wad 900. While there was a debate about numbers, the actual rally was peaceful and respectful. They had a security checkpoint before you came in. The only issue was there was a small group of Pro-Palestinian that were there. They had their flags and there was yelling back and forth. It was only until one of the speakers told people to leave them alone. People walked away and police covered the event like a blanket.

After watching these three rallies, reading some online conversations and listening to different perspectives. I have come up with four observations.

The first one goes back to the Free Hugs group. The reason that doesn’t work is how serious both sides are taking the issue. It is very personal and impacts in a deep way. There is a long history of loss. Not only Mothers, Fathers, brother’s, sister’s, friends and children. But ancestors and people before them. There is also the slightly small…….big issue of land.This is not something that a Free Hug and a smile can give an instant cure too. As a matter of fact, I think it came across as disrespectful. Not intentionally, but it did.

The second one is about holding up signs at each other. Observing this, I wondered what would happen if somebody dropped their sign and offered to listen. Really listen to the story your enemy has. I wondered what impact would that have on future rallies and if they can become future dialogues. I also realized that was idealistic.

The third and fourth one hits close to home.

I think Christians need to learn more about both Judaism and Muslim. I say that because of some comments I heard from the rally last night. It’s not necessarily that you will agree with the faith’s. However, you will be informed.

The final one comes is about Christianity At the Calgary for Israel rally, there were several shirts that said “Wherever Israel stands, I stand with them”. Now, I love the Jewish faith. It’s very beautiful. I myself have never been to Israel, but I have friends that have. From all accounts, it’s a beautiful country. However, I’m not comfortable with the idea that I simply need and obligated to support Israel because I’m a Christian. What I feel obligated to do is to research and give thought to the issues. If there is a place to observe and critique what both sides are doing, then I can challenge that. If there is a space where a perspective can be given, that should happen too.

As a Christian and as a human, it is sad that innocent lives have been, and continue to be lost. And as a Christian, and a human, I hope one day these rallies I observe can be more about the dialogue needed to learn from each other.

What was Ford Fest really like and why are the Ford’s so popular?

image image image image imageSome of you might be aware, but I’m in Toronto. The reason I decided to come to Toronto was because of this Mayoral Election. I am fascinated by this Mayor race. Here is the biggest city in Canada, Toronto, with the most polarizing and possibly embarrassing Mayor in the world. At least, that’s the perception anyway.

I’m coming at this not from a specific side. Yes, I have a picture with Doug Ford. But, remember, I’m from Calgary. Meeting Doug or Rob Ford is a one of those once in a life time opportunities.

I am coming at this as an observer. An observer of the candidates, their policies and who would be the best Mayor for Toronto.

So, for this one, we are specifically going to focus in Ford Fest. The reason is this event was so controversial going into today. As well as what happened at the event.

First, some background. This us the 19th annual Ford Fest. This used to be an event they held in the Ford Family backyard. However, the event became so popular, that the now use a park in Scarborough. It averages between 10,000-15,000 people a year now.

The big controversy going into today about this event was that it was a subtle…..check that…. not so subtle way to campaign. There is a bylaw in Toronto that says election literature cannot be handed out in city or public.City Councillors and the other Mayor Candidates were insistent that the bylaw officers were watching that this would not happen.

However, this did not stop two Mayoral candidates from attempting to crash the festivities.

First,it was Karen Stintz. She walked into Ford Fest with someone with her campaign team wearing a “Karen Stintz for Mayor” T-Shirt. There were reports she was booed by the crowd. I didn’t see that. When she was asked by a member of the media about if the t-shirt infringes on the rules, her answer was,

“It’s just a t-shirt”.

Second was Sarah Thomson. She came in on a white horse,her campaign team wearing “Sarah Thomson for Mayor T-Shirts”

When she was asked by the media about this her answer was,

“No candidate wants to engage Ford head on. I like circuses. If Ford wants a circus, I’ll give him a circus.”

She was also booed. As well as told by a bylaw officer to leave.

Next was a group called #queeruption. There is a dispute of how many showed up, but there were confrontations between them and Ford Nation Supporters. There were reports of comments of “It’s Adam and Eve,not Adam and Steve”

There is also a picture of a man choking a #queeruption member.

These incidents certainly didn’t dampen the festivities.The park was filled with long lineups. Lineups for actual tickets to get food. Lineups for food.Lineups for Ice Cream. And of course,the lineup for the Fords.

I was walking around when suddenly, there was a loud shout!

“Four more years, Four more years, Four more years!”

It was Doug Ford.

Now, it was not easy to get that picture of that picture. He was surrounded with many people that wanted to get a picture with him. It wasn’t aggressive, but people were assertive. There was lots of people, but I have to day Doug was very patient with everyone. Yes, I know it’s an election year and he has too. But it’s worth saying that. He was dealing with both crowds and reporters at the same time.

Next, I tried to get a photo of Rob Ford. It was tough even to see Rob Ford, let alone take a picture. From what I saw, he looked happy. Certainly, the crowd was happy to see him.

Speaking of the crowd, there was a lot of conversation on Twitter about the crowd.I saw words like scumbag, unintelligent, homophobic, and embarrassing for Toronto.
The crowd I saw was peaceful. Other then the excitement of seeing the Fords, the crowd was listening to music, patiently waiting in lines, and having polite conversations. It was a diverse crowd. Lots of families. Lots of seniors. Some younger people. I would say it seems like more of a traditional crowd.Were they all Ford Nation supporters? Probably not. There were onlookers and some there for a burger. But they were not rowdy or out of control at all.

I also had the opportunity to speak to some people about the campaign. There was one non-supporter of the Fords She had a sign calling out the “Ford Gravy Train” as she called it.

Her point was that, yes Ford Fest was not a “campaign”. And the Fords are claiming they are footing the bill for this. But are they? Are they using campaign donations as they are claiming, or is this a taxpayer expense? This also happened in 2010.

What she also said is although the candidates are better than the campaign of 2010, there is no one that she felt was really an option.

I also spoke to a couple of Ford supporters. One had a Ford for Mayor sign. I said to him, I’m from out of town and I’m curious why.

He pointed out that under the previous administration, his property taxes went up total of 15 % over 4 years. Being a senior, he simply cannot afford that. He has health problems and a tax increase simply something he cannot handle.

It’s important to note as well, he said he loves the NDP. However, he has serious concerns about Olivia Chow’s economic policy.

He also pointed out that in spite of his vote for Ford in 2010, because as he pointed out” council didn’t want him”, they basically removed him from office. So, he asked what happens if he votes for Ford and Council won’t work with him?

He also shared with me a story about City Council. The neighbourhood he lives in is a seniors neighbourhood. He called the city to get the street cleaned.It couldn’t happen because “they could not afford it”.

“But yet they could have a $12,000 party?” He asked.

The Council comment was echoed by someone filming a documentary on the election.

“When Ford was Councillor, he would respond to concerns. No other Councillors did.

As far as his past indiscretions and issues, like using drugs and reports of crime involvement, there two responses from supporters were,

“We all have skeletons in our closet”


“What he does in his personal time is his personal time”

It seems that people love Ford’s just one of us approach. He goes to as many openings and events as possible. Time or travel so not an issue. He just does it.

Two things struck me observing this event If you remove the political perspective and personal issues of the Fords, it is impressive how well they engage the city. Think about it. This is an event that started in a back yard is now in a park closely observed, and crashed by opponents. Like them or not, they are doing something right.

The second thing that struck me is my Rob Ford news feed. While I see lots of anti-Rob Ford online, I find it quite interesting that there isn’t one candidate that has caught the imagination of the voter. This is proven by the current three way tie between Ford, Olivia Chow and John Tory.

Heading back home, I heard lots of feedback about the lack of organization of the event. They ran out of food and ice cream. It was not clear which line up was for tickets, food, or ice cream. But overall,the Ford Fest did not strike me as a group of “scumbags, unintelligent, homophobic, and an embarrassment to Toronto”

It struck me as a valuable lesson in showing that the value of actually engaging the city and taking time for people is always a good place to start winning elections.

Agree or Disagree:The Podcast-A preview of Upcoming Podcasts

A preview of upcoming Podcasts. Topics include


The Liknes/O’Brien case and the impacts going forward.

The Controversy between the Edmonton Public School Board and the Edmonton Pregnancy Care Centre.

How easy is it to date in Calgary?

An early look at the Mayoral Race in Toronto.

A new segment called Who’s Wins The Internet?
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