Looking For The Positive in Canada’s 2019 Election

I am a regular columnist for a regional Manitoba newspaper called The Carillon.  Several weeks ago a fellow writer for the paper penned his entire column about why Canadians should definitely not cast their vote for Justin Trudeau in the upcoming election. That column inspired me to attempt something different. Despite my own clear and established political preferences could I look at the major candidates and parties and find something positive to say about each of them? Canadians have consistently rated Elizabeth May of the Green Party the most ethical and trusted party leader in the country. She wants to bring more civility and collegiality across party lines to the House of Commons. I am so glad a woman is running for prime minister. It is high time Canada had an elected female prime minister especially in 2019 when every provincial leader is male. No other party takes climate change as seriously as the Greens, but they also have concrete plans for improving the lives of Canadians in areas like housing, LGBTQ rights, justice, and health care. Elizabeth May has a theology degree and the United Nations has named her one of the world’s leading environmentalists for her work as a politician, author, and environmental lawyer.
Andrew Scheer of the Conservative Party has a wealth of political experience. He was elected to the House of Commons in 2006, 2008 and 2011. He was the Speaker of the House for four years. Scheer’s party has promised $1.5 billion to buy more MRI and CT machines for medical facilities. This is important to many Canadians. As someone who rides the bus almost daily, I appreciate the Conservative initiative to provide a tax credit for folks who buy passes for public transportation. Before he entered politics Andrew Scheer worked as a waiter. I waitressed my way through university so I know few professions teach you as much about human nature. That knowledge would serve a prime minister well.

According to a recent article in the Atlantic magazine Justin Trudeau of the Liberal Party has kept 92% of his 2015 campaign promises, the most by any Canadian government in 35 years. He has instituted a carbon tax, a strategy more than 3000 economists have endorsed as an effective way to reduce carbon emissions. Under Justin Trudeau’s leadership in 2018, Canada settled more refugees than any other country in the world. Statistics Canada reports that the child poverty rate in our country has declined thanks to the child benefit instituted by the Liberal government in 2016. Justin Trudeau appointed the first gender-equal cabinet in Canada and presently the jobless rate in our country is the lowest it has been since 1976. It sounds like in many ways Justin Trudeau has done a very good job.
Jagmeet Singh’s New Democratic Party has detailed plans for instituting national pharmacare, childcare, and dental care programs. These are vital services. One has to admire the poised professional way Mr. Singh responded to racist comments he received recently while campaigning in Montreal. Mr. Singh’s autobiography Love and Courage describes how he rose above a challenging childhood to become a respected criminal lawyer and member of the Ontario legislature. In a CBC interview, Jagmeet Singh gave many examples of older male House of Commons representatives in the New Democratic Party stepping aside to allow young women to run for office and then lending these new candidates their support. This kind of change is of great importance in Canadian politics. 
Although we all have our own convictions about which leader and party would be best for Canada I think it is helpful to acknowledge that all our leaders have some positive qualities and each party has some plans and promises we can applaud. In a campaign that has sometimes been far too negative, we might do well to think of something positive we could say about each person who has made the sacrifices needed and had the strong convictions required, to run for political office. 

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15 Reasons I Am Thankful to Live in Canada

I am thankful to live in a country where………….

women get the vote quebed

Posing with statues of  female suffragettes in Quebec City

I can vote to elect my leaders

I don’t have to worry about health care costs

pride parade (1)

Marching in the Pride Parade in Steinbach. Photo credit- Grant Burr

People are free to marry the person they love

There hasn’t been a war in my lifetime

Diversity is celebrated

Window at my church

 I have the freedom to worship as I please

Women have the right to make the choice about what happens to their bodies

Capital punishment has been abolished


Waterfall in Cox’s Cove Newfoundland

There is a wealth of natural resources 

There is a good education system

prairie grasses red river bank

Prairie grasses in the park at the end of my street

There is gorgeous scenery 

We have world-renowned writers, musicians, artists and actors

We have sensible gun laws

We give parents leave to stay home with their newborns

We allow people to die with dignity

Sitting in the speaker’s chair in the House of Commons Canada

On Thanksgiving Day I am thankful to live in Canada. 

Other posts………

Thanksgiving and the Kitchen Table

Pumpkins For Sale

Giving Thanks

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Good News For Women

It’s true.
This is part 10 in my good news series. Read the others here.

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Two Little Observations From Our Trip

Here are two observations from our trip that didn’t make it into any of my blog posts about our Croatia adventure.

I wish I had a bib. I am notorious for getting food stains on my clothes. I do try to eat carefully but inevitably while I’m enjoying a meal I get a spot or two on my outfit. I was surprised when I ordered pasta in a Dubrovnik Restaurant that they brought out this lovely, huge white bib for me to wear. I could eat with gusto and without worry. Sure enough by the end of the meal, there were some spots on my bib but not on my clothes. I think I’ll need to invest in a bib of my own.

Towels can be too soft. I noticed in Croatia that towels aren’t fluffy and soft like they often are in North American hotels. They are rougher and stiffer and I kind of liked that. I think they did a better job of drying you off and kind of invigorated your skin.

Other posts………


I Had My Toes Read

Let’s Talk About My Haircut



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Five Wives

I just finished reading Five Wives by Winnipeg author Joan Thomas. I loved her book Curiosity and this new novel is equally riveting. Like Curiosity which is a mixture of fact and fiction Five Wives is based on the true story of five American missionaries killed by the Waorani people of Ecuador in 1956. The young men were camped on a beach near a Waorani village hoping to make contact with the isolated tribe and convert them to Christianity. Their first interaction was friendly, the second disastrous.

Each of the missionaries killed was married and Thomas’ book profiles the five women left behind when the men died. We are also given a deeply personal look into the daily lives of some of the missionary couples and their families prior to the killings.

Photo page from the January 30, 1956 issue of Life Magazine

Life magazine sent a photographer to Ecuador who was there when the missionaries’ bodies were found. He took haunting portraits of the five young widows and their seven children. That magazine story helped turn the five men who died into international heroes and martyrs especially in evangelical Christian circles.

Reading Joan Thomas’ book makes you realize yet again how dangerous and damaging it is to believe your religious beliefs are so superior to the beliefs of others, that you are willing to die to try to convince someone else to follow your particular spiritual path.

Photos of the five young men who died from a blog post on the Mission Aviation Fellowship website January 8, 2016

The young men who died trying to bring salvation to the Waorani were pilots and law students, philosophy graduates and linguists. One had studied architecture. And they were fathers and marriage partners. What might they have contributed to the world had they lived?

The five men’s deaths brought such notoriety to the Waorani people that it wasn’t long before lasting contact was established with them. We learn from Joan Thomas’ book that as a result of greater contact with the outside world many Waorani died because they were exposed to diseases they were not immune to. Contact eventually led to the Waorani losing most of their traditional lands to developers. Oil companies built roads running right through Waorani villages.

While the missionaries wanted to bring a “better” life to the Waorani they may actually have helped make things worse for them in many ways.

The women and children left behind after their husbands died

The Toronto Globe and Mail reviewer gave Five Wives a glowing recommendation. I would wholeheartedly agree with him. I spent two days doing virtually nothing else but reading Thomas’ beautifully written and intriguing novel.

What was most interesting to me were some of the comments by online readers of the Globe and Mail review. One said they wouldn’t even bother to read the book because it questioned the work of missionaries who in the commentators’ opinion “had done so much good for so many people.” Another said they wouldn’t read the book either because it was clear from the review it painted Christians in a bad light. Quite to the contrary one of the things that drew me to Five Wives was the sympathy Joan Thomas has for her characters. Although I was disappointed to not have been able to attend the launch of Five Wives, someone told me later that when author David Bergen was interviewing Joan about her book he asked her if she hadn’t been too easy on her characters. 

Her book does, however, make it clear there are troubling things to consider about the whole idea of missions.
Joan explains in a Winnipeg Free Press interview. “You see, for example, the evangelical church as a bloc supporting Donald Trump, and all these heinous attitudes towards those coming to the southern border. Yet at the same time, they’re sending missionaries to South America. I really wanted to investigate some of the attitudes that let people live with this kind of doublethink.”

Five Wives by Joan Thomas is one of the nominees for the Governor General’s Literary award to be presented on October 29.

Joan Thomas’ book makes people of faith think deeply about many assumptions they may have made in the past. It raises a whole host of interesting and thought-provoking questions. And besides all that it tells a fascinating and absorbing story!

Other posts……….

Is It Wrong To Die For Your Faith?

Questions After Watching The Movie Silence

Common Threads- Aboriginal Spirituality


Filed under Books, Religion

I’m The Menu

We spent the last night of our holiday in Monfalcone, Italy and a highlight of our time there was having a fabulous lunch at a restaurant called Lo Sputino.

“I’m the menu,” our waitress said.

We sat down at a sunny table outside and asked our waitress for a menu. “I’m the menu,” she said and she proceeded to describe all of the various dishes their restaurant offered. Dave and I opted to share a Caprese Salad and eggplant lasagna. eggplant lasgna monfalcone italyOur waitress was worried. Were we sure that would be enough? We assured her it would be. And it was.  It was fabulous.  Quite different than the food we’ve been having in Croatia but great. 

We left Rovinj Croatia yesterday morning. Our cycling company had arranged for a driver to take us to Trieste Airport in Monfalcone Italy. In order to get to Italy, we had to pass through the country of Slovenia. This morning we are flying to Frankfurt Germany and then on home to Canada. Five countries in just over twenty-four hours.

I’ve loved our trip but after all that country-hopping I will be glad to get home and look forward to all the exciting family, work and community activities that await us. 

Other posts……

No Christians Fed To Lions and Other Things You Might Not Know About the Colosseum

Visiting Pompei

Michelangelo’s David

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And Just Like That It’s Over

Our last day of cycling in Croatia was stellar. The weather was perfect for biking- cool and sunny. We didn’t get lost. The bikes worked great. We continued to enjoy the stunning scenery of this loveliest of places. Our cycle ended in the seaside city of Rovinj.

Dave takes a break in Rovinj as my brother-in-law Ken tries to find directions to our guest house on his phone.

With my sister in front of the Baron Gautsch Guesthouse in Rovinj

Our guest house here is called The Baron Gautsch.  It is named after a ship that sank during World War I. The Baron Gautsch was a merchant vessel that had been pressed into service by the military to transport evacuees to safer destinations. That’s what it was doing on August 13, 1914, taking refugees and the families of military personnel from Kotor to Trieste, Italy.

A mural of the sunken ship on a window in our guest house. The Baron Gautsch wreck near Rovinj is popular with divers.

Due to an error by an inexperienced second officer left in charge of the bridge, the Baron Gautsch ran into a minefield and it sank in just a few minutes. Sadly 130 people, most of them women and children, drowned. Many of the crew survived and were accused of different acts of negligence including putting themselves into the lifeboats before the passengers.

Drawing of the Baron Gautsch in the hallway of our guesthouse

After checking into our guesthouse we went for a stroll through the city. Rovinj has been inhabited for thousands of years and has been in the hands of the Romans, the Venetians, the Austrians, the Italians, the Yugoslavians and now is part of Croatia.
Rovinj is a tourist mecca and the harbour was crowded with boats. Most of them were leisure craft but we also saw some people working on repairing their fishing boats.

Dave and Ken survey Rovinj

The sea wall is crowded with restaurants advertising fresh fish and even in the ‘low season’ now in October, there were plenty of tourists walking the sea wall with us. I wrote yesterday about how every city or town in Croatia used to have a tree at its heart which served as a meeting place for residents. Sure enough, I found that tree in the centre of Rovinj. We stopped for a gelato break and sat by the seaside to people watch and enjoy our cones. Dave insisted his pistachio cone was the best.

View of Rovinj from our guesthouse balcony

We had e-mailed our friends Bruno and Caroline whose children lived in Rovinj for several months and we had dinner in a restaurant they recommended. It was a good choice. I took this photo of Dave actually walking by a wine and spirits shop in Rovinj.  He has been on a bit of a quest in Croatia to find the best brandy.  He has already tried mint, mistletoe, cherry, plum, pear and peach and really wanted to get another kind to try from this shop, but realized since it is our last day in Croatia that he wouldn’t have time to finish even a small bottle.  So he walked on by!

And just like that our bike trip is over. Tomorrow our cycling company will come to take our bikes back. Dave wondered if he shouldn’t scratch his initials into his bike somewhere since he has become quite attached to it in the last week.  

Other posts…….

Pearl Harbor – Sleeping with Torpedoes

House Barns and Gelato



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