The New Canadian Brand is Bigotry

religionpoliticsI am pissed off and embarrassed!

I find it very hard to believe that the citizens of Quebec, or Canada as a whole, want to be branded as Bigots; but that is the inevitable path of Premier Pauline Marois.  We have a serious reputation management issue here folks and it is up to us as Canadians and Global citizens to bring this to a loud and grinding halt.  I want to see the same indignation attributed to the Russian crap about Gays.  I don’t slam politicians as many are my friends.  I slam bad social policy and divisive actions that propagate hate and hate crimes.

The Quebec government is about to introduce long-awaited, controversial legislation that would restrict religious symbols in numerous places.  The Parti Quebecois government’s “Charter of Quebec Values” will prohibit public employees from donning Sikh, Jewish and Muslim head-wear or visible crucifixes in the workplace.  Bye bye doctors, teachers, leaders etc.

“It will become, I’m certain, a strong uniting element between Quebecers,” Marois said.  Yes well Hitler said the same thing.

Mayor Nenshi of Calgary says the proposal is intolerance, plain and simple.  “Not only do I think that it is an abrogation of Canadian values and ethics, I also think it’s horrible public policy,” says Nenshi. “We’re not talking about government neutrality. We are actually saying to some children because of the faith you follow there are some jobs you are not eligible for.

Hypocrisy:

 Marois said the charter will help bring Quebec together, much like Bill 101, the province’s landmark legislation aimed at protecting the French language.  In fact this proposal neither protects nor unites anything or anyone; rather it is the opposite of the preservation of culture.

Canada has always been known for its diversity and has had wonderful immigration for the marginalized historically.  We are not the melting pot of the US.  We have always prided ourselves on the fact that you can be who you are in safety and free of persecution.  Many immigrated to Quebec because they could easily build a new life with the French language.  Is it just me or is the Catholic culture threatened by this as well?

I predict greater violence and civil unrest surrounding this situation.  We already have religious centres being vandalized in the wake of 9-11 and it continues in Quebec with Mosques being vandalized.

Will we see an enormous exodus from Quebec of the very people that have made it great?  Will anyone ever ask me again (like when I lived in Texas) “Is Canada as great as they say?”

What kind of values do you want in Canada?

Please find a way to express your opinions with respect and vigor.

canadian def

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Justifying Justin

justin

You kids crack me up!

Now most of you know that I do not identify with any political party, despite my last name taken in vain daily; but rather focus on the way the media and others attempt to manipulate the consumer/voter in Canada.

A little Background:

I am of an age where I spent most of my developing years with Pierre Trudeau as Prime Minister.  In fact I met him and his boys on several occasions once we moved to Ottawa from Halifax.  I spent significant time with mother Margaret outside of the political realm as well.  Probably nothing so significant that they would remember,  but frankly the family was a presence in my life.

I have enjoyed the lighthearted warm approach that was taken by Justin (insert giggles at boxing match here).  Go Youtube! Go Youtube!

What is really amusing me right now is the obvious preparedness of the other political parties in anticipation of Justin winning the leadership position for the Liberals.  The very second he was voted in the opposition pounced with their American style Justin bashing ads.  Clearly these were ready and in hand.  So even they knew he would win.  Do you think they prepared other ads for whoever they were?

The facts:

Justin Trudeau is not the first “inexperienced” politician in Canadian History.

There is power in the ability to have Canadians listen based on great branding.

If he messes up he will be ousted just like anyone else.

He is good business (fundraising) and PR for the party.

An election is clearly on the horizon so we must not be distracted from the real issues. (Don’t get sick because you can’t afford to park and get your prescriptions)

The take away:

Political bashing is from a place of fear and weakness and Canadians are rarely fooled.

Unique campaigns win elections regardless of content.

Positivity is powerful no matter the issue.

If you have to bash someone’s hair-do in a political battle you obviously have no real argument.

I may have to change the name of this blog because it might not be funny or relevant in the near future; but it’s been fun so far.

As seen in “Show me the funny”  http://wp.me/p1deTy-7r

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Nifty Networking in 2013? Or MeetUp Mayhem?

networkingpic

Well Happy Happy New Year to you all.

I don’t know about you, but lately I’ve been getting a lot of notices that my MeetUp groups are closing.

I think folks are well intentioned, but when the group loses momentum they lose motivation to continue to pay for the group service.

It’s not just on MeetUp.com; there are a variety of these social convening tools online that people use for personal and professional purposes.

So here are some questions to ask yourself for creating a successful consistent get together:

Why make a group?

Who would you like to have as members?

How will you let people know about your group?

What will happen when you convene? i.e. what is the content?

What is the Take Away?

How will you get new members?

How will maintain the interest of existing members?

Prior to writing my Strategic Networking Course I spent the better part of 2 years going to a variety of industry groups to see what worked and what didn’t.  I found a largely aimless gathering of folks looking for something; they just didn’t know what.  The pat answer was always clients but it’s not an instant process.  If I may use an overused expression, it’s about relationships.

Networking is big business nowadays.  Everyone is looking to make money from gathering.  Lots of organizations are offering “networks”.  But they have neglected to offer advice on how to actually manage these networks.  Anyone can tell you to smile, create a great robotic elevator pitch, be minty fresh and friendly and remember to shake hands but what will you do with all of these contacts once you have gone home with the business cards; and did you even get the right cards? What is the exponential reach of these contacts?

So if you want to be a leader in your community and create great groups with lasting power, ask yourself the hard questions, create a plan and stay mindful of evolving expectations.

Good luck and see ya at the next event!

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THE Politically Correct SEASONAL GREETING…..

santa_ho_ho_ho I don’t know the author but this cracked me up.

 

 

 

 

THE Politically Correct SEASONAL GREETING…..

From me (“the wishor”) to you (“hereinafter called the wishee”)
Please accept without obligation, implied or implicit, my best
wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible,
politically correct, low stress, non-addictive, gender neutral,
celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the
most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your
choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the
religious/secular persuasions and/or traditions of others, or their
choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all.
And a financially successful, personally fulfilling and medically
uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted
calendar year 2013, but with due respect for the calendars of
choice of other cultures or sects, and having regard to the race,
creed, colour, age, physical ability, religious faith, choice of
computer platform or dietary preference of the wishee.
By accepting this greeting you are bound by these terms that:
* This greeting is subject to further clarification or withdrawal.
* This greeting is freely transferable provided that no alteration
shall be made to the original greeting and that the proprietary
rights of the wishor are acknowledged.
* This greeting implies no promise by the wishor to actually
implement any of the wishes.
* This greeting may not be enforceable in certain jurisdictions
and/or the restrictions herein may not be binding upon certain
wishees in certain jurisdictions and is revocable at the sole
discretion of the wishor.
* This greeting is warranted to perform as reasonably may be
expected within the usual application of good tidings, for a period
of one year or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting,
whichever comes first.
* The wishor warrants this greeting only for the limited replacement
of this wish or issuance of a new wish at the sole discretion of the
wishor
* Any references in this greeting to “the Lord”, “Father Christmas”,
“Our Saviour”, or any other festive figures, whether actual or
fictitious, dead or alive, shall not imply any endorsement by or
from them in respect of this
greeting, and all proprietary rights in any referenced third party
names and images are hereby acknowledged.

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Olympic Sized Social Media Meddling

Big story today about Olympic athletes being limited in what they can electronically broadcast during the course of these 2012 Summer Olympics.  Morals clause or trademark issues? You decide.

Let’s look at the guidelines.  Here’s the link.  http://tinyurl.com/3ufl9sn

Like any other contract the athletes must adhere to certain conduct and intellectual property guidelines; these are pretty standard today.  Don’t have public tantrums about rankings etc, don’t post pics of yourselves drunk celebrating the win etc.  The basic common sense rules of reputation enhancing social networking conduct.

However it’s almost like the guidelines are really a giant non-compete clause to the disadvantage of the athletes.  While I understand the idea of intellectual property law regarding logos, affiliations and partnerships, I just can’t see where a positive post containing logos, sponsors, and reflection on the day’s events would do anything but draw attention to events that are largely government sponsored.  Social media efforts are about generating revenue as well as visibility.

Shall we discuss an athlete’s brand?  There’s the website with all their achievements and media coverage and statistics and rankings and photo galleries.  Then we have the Facebook fan pages and Twitter and Pinterest.  Sponsors want athletes with great stories and good public image.

Athletes have a limited visibility window while they are in their qualifying rounds leading to their place on Olympic teams in which they can create some buzz, get some great sponsorship and maintain some continuity of image to promote their sport.  The rest of the time few know their names while their heads are down and they are deep in training.

The weird one for me is that they can’t hang out with their sponsors publically online or it’s seen as promotion or selling.  Um hello did we all forget what sponsorship is and why the athletes need it?  There is a certain amount of reciprocal publicity assumed in a sponsorship deal.   The take away for sponsors is purely a visibility issue.  Shouldn’t the sponsored athlete be lauding the efforts of the people that got them where they are today?  Without the sponsors there are no Olympics for most athletes.  It’s not just me right?

We must first remember that Olympic Athletes fall under the “amateur” category and they compete and comply to enter the Olympics.  It’s not like they rely on sponsorship to avoid living well under the poverty level in Canada after all.  It’s not like the government has consistently removed funding over the years so that Canadian Athletes are forced to train and compete elsewhere.  And it’s certainly not like private sector sponsorship should be picking up the slack where the government leaves off in order for us to maintain some respect in the global market.

Photos:  “otherwise distribute”.  Hmmmm are we against the positive impact on an athlete’s career if their photos go viral?  For goodness sake there are empty seats at some of the Olympic events thus far!

 

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USABILITY FOR CANADIAN GOVERNMENT WEBSITES

Tuesday I attended CodeFest in Ottawa.  Put on by the Treasury Board of Canada, it was an inspiration.  Yep, you heard me correctly I used a government department name and the word inspiration in the same sentence.  It was attended by a variety of web practitioners from various govt departments.

A little background info:

I’ve done contract work in most government departments since the late 80’s.  I began as a typesetter for Statistics Canada and saw the growth of desk top publishing and saw us grow out of internet by the minute.  I remember having to go get a coffee while I waited for a webpage to fully download.  Yep, I’m over 40 folks.

Over the years I have shared in the public’s frustration in traversing through the red tape and trying to get information from their web pages both internally and externally.  I hear ya people!

I specialized in Media Relations in the 90’s and as a communications writer and strategist lo these many years I have spent far too many hours in search of statistics, forms, releases, white papers, contact information and the like.  Only to end up dialing the dreaded 1-800 number to be misinformed as the operators rarely had solid navigational knowledge of the departmental websites.  I know you feel me right?

Within one department I would see all different layouts, couldn’t find anything and from one click to the next I could end up at an entirely different level of government and then the dreaded “Cannot find requested page” or “Page not available”.  Ugh!

It would be easy at this point to digress into well justified rant on the amount of tax payers’ dollars I’ve seen wasted in the last 25 years as our administrative leaders sought efficacy and continuity of image etc but we really need to move on to Tuesday at CodeFest.

Today’s industry catch phrase or “Phrazzy du Jour” if you will is…… wait for it…..

USABILITY!    TA DA!

Now, one would think that a good web developer is of course well versed and somewhat of an expert on usability.  But when you consider the sheer number of developers contributing to the layout and content of our governmental websites it only stands to reason that each one would have their own opinion on what will work to meet the needs of the customer be it internal or external.

Up until Tuesday I would have happily joined you in a bitter jaded well warranted rant on exercises in futility.  Could you in your wildest dreams ever imagine the Treasury Board of Canada being innovative, consistent and fueled by the brilliant youth of Canada?  Could this be a dream where I wandered out of Invest Ottawa, past the delicious aromas of Little Italy into an administrative utopia?

I don’t normally blog on at this length but I must tell you of this wondrous new found WETland in Canada.

We enter just after lunch into what seemed a generic dull humourlessly decorated cavern of a work space.  But wait, there were pods of people gathered in groups all sporting laptops; giant screens on the walls with Twitter feeds, code demonstrations, style guides and the like.  There was a hubbub people.  There was a buzz of anticipation and solutions.  Each pod devoted to a task and a goal.  Code was a-flyin.

As I walked around eavesdropping and asking the occasional question I noted heightened energy and an eagerness, if not an absolute thirst for ideas and solutions.  But unlike many other government events and brain storming sessions (thou shalt not committee) the answers were actually in the room!  I kid you not.

Accompanied by Robin Sauve of Bamboo Branding, we were privileged to meet and chat with fellow Nova Scotian and one of the organizers extraordinaire Laura Wesley.  She explained succinctly and with great enthusiasm the goal of easing the burden on the users/customers of government websites both internally and externally.

I interviewed a few other people from the RCMP and Industry Canada about the goals for attending CodeFest.  Their eyes were alight with an excitement not normally attributed to our pre-conceived notion of a “civil servant”.  There was confidence in the success of this unifying mission.  There was hope that the momentum would continue in the development of consistent code for all.  The tools they needed were well within their grasp and they were all excited to take this knowledge back to their offices and get down to it.

It did not have the standard flavor of an over committee’d (yes I know it’s not a word) and administered process necessary for effecting change for better access to information.  It was fresh fast thinking led by greats like Mario Bonito of Transport Canada, a charismatic leader in web development; and William Hearn of Statistics Canada.

So although I was deeply concerned that there were few representatives of government departments with greater corporate knowledge to ensure translation from the WETlands to implementation to meet the needs of the customer, I was still inspired. But that’s a content issue for the future.

This is clearly an opportunity to reduce the number of verbally abusive frustrated calls to the 1-800 lines asking poor operators where the heck to click for a contact name, an email address or a specific form.

So from this Harper’s continued adventures into that other Harper’s team effort to give us an administrative hand, I bring tales of hope, greater knowledge and a respectful faith in our younger leaders of government innovation.

Yep, I said government innovation…. And it only took 25 years.

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Wheels of Hope Role on in October

Click to Enlarge
 Seen in this photo with patient and long-time passenger Marion Holly at the time of the interview, Bruce Webster expressed a deep wish for local support of the transportation program.

Submitted
Seen in this photo with patient and long-time passenger Marion Holly at the time of the interview, Bruce Webster expressed a deep wish for local support of the transportation program. “We just have to keep it going,” he said, promising to keep driving patients to their appointments as long as there is a need.

Hope. The word brings to mind the future and things to come. For cancer patients, it’s the word that gets them up in the morning.

The Wheels of Hope campaign at the Canadian Cancer Society in Ottawa provides such hope.

Patients can be reassured that there is help getting to and from their cancer treatments at no cost to themselves. But the little known Wheels of Hope program is more than just assistance with transportation, it is, for many a lifeline.

It’s the difference between waiting for public transportation and sitting for hours while ill after treatment, and getting a friendly empathetic hand with a smile in times of deep stress. It’s the difference between getting treatment and not getting treatment.

The Society has noticed a steady incline over the last number of years in patients using the service, and is now averaging about 24 new clients a month. Research shows that over 20 per cent of Canadian Cancer Society clients would literally not get to treatment were it not for the transportation service.

The Canadian Cancer Society’s transportation program has more than 155 drivers ferrying patients to cancer treatments in the National Capital Region, driving over 118,000 km in the course of a year.

Many of the drivers are volunteering because they themselves have been touched in some way by this all-too-prevalent disease. One such volunteer driver is Bruce Webster, who has been driving since 2004. He saw a notice on a Carleton Place church notice board and was compelled to help. Bruce, like many of you, has been touched by cancer several times. His uncle died at 52, he lost his best friend in 2001, and sadly, he lost his beloved wife Pierrette in 2010 to brain cancer. Like many of the volunteer drivers, he brings a special understanding and compassion to the patients he drives.

When you meet Bruce you see a big strong guy with a warm smile and an easy laugh. He’s got a great sense of humour.

He says he’s “building up credits with the big guy upstairs” by driving those in need. “It’s hard not to connect with clients and get involved. But I never forget why I’m there, and it’s safety first, rain or shine”. He considers it a privilege and an honour to make a difference in the patients’ lives.

You can make donations to the Wheels of Hope campaign by visiting the website at http://www.cancer.ca/wheelsofhopeottawa or by calling 613-723-1744 ext 3610.

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