Can-Con, Nanowrimo and the election.

Let me get this off my chest first. Literally.  While at Can-Con, someone gave me the plague.

Coughing, sneezing, enough snot to float a rowboat, achy joints… You know who you are, and you should be ashamed. Doing this to a writer on the eve of Nano!  I can’t even look down at my keyboard without my nose running, my eyes crossing from the tickle… my cat is staring at me like I’ve grown a second head!

Other than that, Can-Con was awesome. I saw wonderful people, took part in a couple of very useful workshops, and watched many a panel on business and gory stuff. And I sold FIVE copies of my debut novel, A Test of Loyalty (A Mechanicsville book)!  Five, that makes thirteen paperbacks in total.  Another fifteen and I’ll have paid to have them printed… That doesn’t sound as wonderful as it feels..

Nanowrimo (NAtional NOvel WRIting MOnth) is here and I’m working on the second book in the Mechanicsville series, Alone in the Dark. It picks up a week or so after the first book ends.

Nano is something I try to do every year, it teaches me to quiet the internal editor and just get it on the page. I call it Draft 0, as opposed to first draft, because it needs some work just to make sense. And a large part will end up being tossed out.  But editing is easier than the blank page staring at you.

Last year’s nano book was the second 1/2 of my epic fantasy, Nets to Catch the Wind.  it’s taken until mid-October this year to match the two halves and make it make sense.  So…draft one. So while I let the new book rest in December, I’ll be working on draft 2 of Nets. Moving my brain from epic fantasy to gritty YA and back again…

The Canadian Federal Election!

Well, I’m nearly done talking about it, I have been impressed with the rhetoric, with the promises, and now with the new cabinet.  I mean… a WOMAN in charge of the Status of Women ?? Natives in charge of Fisheries, and Justice?  A decorated veteran in National Defense?  He must be crazy!

But it’s my kind of crazy.  I am guardedly optimistic and hopeful of getting MY Canada back. You remember Canada, don’t you?  Peacekeepers, a haven for refugees, good/ free health care, great education, a beautiful mosaic of cultures not a morass of victim blaming and otherness….

My sweet patootie (otherwise known as former foster son, now bestie) Douglas Connors wrote an excellent introduction to our new Cabinet.  And I am stealing it for this blog.

“The Cabinet

1. Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness: Ralph Goodale

Former Minister of Finance. A man of great integrity in a portfolio requiring it as our most fundamental rights are at play. In 2006, the RCMP sunk the Liberal campaign by announcing an arguably baseless investigation into Mr Goodale. Now, he’s in charge of the RCMP.

2. Indigenous and Northern Affairs: Carolyn Bennett

A doctor and a stalwart supporter of our First Peoples. I have no doubt she authentically wants better outcomes as she is a woman of great compassion. It is an inspired choice.

3. Agriculture and Agri-Food: Lawrence MacAuley

An experienced and very capable Minister, from PEI. Has been in office since 1988. An agriculture minister from the East is an inspired choice.

4. Justice and Attorney General: Jody Wilson-Raybould

Former provincial Crown Prosecutor. She is of Aboriginal heritage. She and Carolyn Bennett, will make a very strong team with regard to an inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous women.

5. Foreign Affairs: Stéphane Dion

Another VERY inspired choice. He’s a statesman. He’s a natural diplomat. He’s shown he can put his ego aside. A just reward for the raw deal he got.

6. Public Services and Procurement: Judy Foote

This is the lady who was the Liberal point person when the harassment complaint of 2 NDP MPs came to light. She did very well during delicate and difficult circumstances. She was the head of Memorial University’s (Newfoundland and Labrador) university relations division before she entered politics.

7. Immigration and Citizenship: John MacCallum

Former Minister of National Defence who also just happens to hold a Ph.D. in Economics and has been a professor. A very earnest, thoughtful, and competent Minister. He is a very good egg. He will handle this file — and the Syrian refugee issue, with great care and compassion. Another inspired choice.

8. International Trade: Chrystia Freeland

Exceptionally competent.. frighteningly so. Of Ukrainian heritage and has degrees from Harvard and Oxford in Russian and Slavonic-related studies. Also a well-regarded financial journalist (Financial Times, Washington Post, The Economist).

9. Government House Leader: Dominic Leblanc

Son of former GG Romeo Leblanc. A party stalwart who also happens to be a very good personal friend of the Prime Minister. A very hard worker with a reputation for integrity. Also a graduate of Harvard Law.

10. Health: Jane Philpott

New to Parliament. A member of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario who has worked with Doctors Without Borders in Africa, and has worked on HIV and refugee advocacy. She defeated Harper mouthpiece Paul Calandra.

11. Treasury Board: Scott Brison

Former finance and industry critic, Parliamentary Secretary, and party leadership candidate. Very experienced, smart, and well spoken. Openly gay.

12. International Development: Marie-Claude Bibeau

New to Parliament. She holds a bachelor’s degree in economics and a graduate diploma in environmental management and is a former employee of the Canadian International Development Agency (postings in Ottawa, Montreal, Morocco and Benin).

13. Innovation, Science and Economic Development: Navdeep Bains

A proven entity, with a solid reputation, who taught part time at Ryerson University. He holds an MBA and is a certified management accountant.

14. Canadian Heritage: Mélanie Joly

New to Parliament. A former candidate for the Mayoralty in Montreal after all the turmoil. She emerged out of nowhere to place second behind Denis Coderre and became a political star. Not much of a track record in governance on which to form an assessment of competence as a minister, but on paper, is promising. She is a member of the Barreau du Québec (lawyer).

15. Finance: Bill Morneau

New to Parliament. A graduate of the London School of Economics. He’s a former head of Canada’s largest human resources firm and was a key adviser to the Ontario government on pension reform, so he will be key for expansion of the CPP (as well as to managing job creation via infrastructure spending).

16. National Revenue: Diane Lebouthillier

New to Parliament. She is a social worker from the Gaspé region who has also served as a chair of a regional municipality.

17. Families, Children, and Social Development: Jean-Yves Duclos

New to Parliament. Another graduate of London School of Economics (Ph.D.). He formerly headed the economics department at Université Laval. Recognized economics expert; has served as President of the Canadian Economic Association.

18. Environment and Climate Change: Catherine McKenna

New to Parliament. MP for Ottawa Centre who upset the NDP’s Paul Dewar in riding with largest voter turnout in the country. She is a human rights and social justice lawyer who is the co-founder of Canadian Lawyers Abroad.

19. Transport: Marc Garneau

First Canadian astronaut in space. Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering. Retired Navy Captain and former President of the Canadian Space Agency. Not sure what specific experience he would bring to the Transport file, but he will bring wisdom and rigor to Cabinet.

20. Employment, Workforce, and Labour: Maryann Mihychuk

Indigenous MP new to Parliament. Former member of the Manitoba MLA for the NDP. She is a geologist, who is well known in the mining community. A former NPDer at Labour sends an interesting message.

21. Natural Resources: Jim Carr

An oboist and trustee with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra as well as a former executive director of the Manitoba Arts Council. Former Deputy Leader of the Manitoba Liberal Party.

22. Democratic Institutions: Maryam Monsef

New to Parliament. Afghan refugee (came to Canada with her widowed mother and 2 sisters). Founder of Red Pashmina. Came 2nd in the 2014 Peterborough Mayoralty race. Nice touch that the Minister for Democratic Institutions is the person who won in Dean Del Mastro’s — he who is in jail for violating electoral law — riding.

23: Veterans Affairs: Kent Hehr

New to Parliament. MP from Calgary, quadriplegic as a result of having been shot in the neck as a bystander. A former Liberal MLA in Alberta.

24: Sport and Persons with Disabilities: Carla Qualtrough

New to Parliament. MP for Delta, BC. She is a Paralympic medalist who is a former President of the Canadian Paralympic Committee and is a human rights lawyer.

25. National Defence: Harjit Singh Sajjan

New to Parliament. MP from Vancouver. A retired member of the Canadian Armed Forces who received the Order of Military Merit for his service and a member of the Vancouver Police Department for 11 years. Highest ranking Sikh ever in our armed forces. Another inspired choice.

26. Science: Kirsty Duncan

A Liberal stalwart and a very hard worker. Always comes across as very sincere. She holds a Ph.D. in geography. She was part of the IPCC crew that won the Nobel Prize.

27. Infrastructure and Communities: Amarjeet Sohi

New to Parliament. Was thrown into jail in India in 1988 on trumped up terrorism charges and was released in 1990. Former member of Edmonton municipal council, which will likely serve him well in this position. Defeated Conservative Tim Uppal by less than 100 votes.

28. Status of Women: Patty Hajdu

New to Parliament. She holds a Masters in Public Administration. She is an expert in harm prevention, homelessness, and drug addiction with nine years as the head of the drug awareness committee of the Thunder Bay District Health Unit. She was also the head of the city’s largest homeless shelter.

29. Fisheries, Oceans, and Coast Guard: Hunter Tootoo

New to Parliament. A businessman who served as the former speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Nunavut. An inspired move to put a Northerner in such a position.

30. Small Business and Tourism: Bardish Chagger

New to Parliament. Young MP (under 40) from the Kitchener-Waterloo area who was studying nursing until she became the executive assistant to Andrew Telegdi, who represented Waterloo in Parliament from 1993 to 2008. She is a community organizer with multicultural communities.


I very much like the composition of this Cabinet: A good balance of experience and novelty; gender parity (and women put in many key roles); strong background in law, economics, and science but with a good variety of other perspectives (public health, social justice, women’s rights, sports, performing arts; great representation of diversity (racial, religious, First Peoples, sexual orientation, people with disabilities); many inspired assignments.

IMHO, this Cabinet very much better reflects the composition of Canadian society than anything in recent memory (and possibly ever).

He is showing that he truly is the first PM we’ve had who grasps the concept of the Global Village.

Very neat that PM Trudeau is taking questions immediately after the swearing in ceremony.”

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