Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Overcomer - Better than 'The Blind Side'

I don't write much here anymore, this is my first posting in over a year.  But every once in a rare while I feel compelled to share my thoughts on a particular subject, this is one of those times.

My wife and I along with our soon to be six year old son went to see the newly released film 'Overcomer' on Monday August 26th.  This is simply an incredible movie, so incredible that I took it in a second time on Tuesday September 3rd with my daughter from my first marriage.

Take note of these two seemingly contradictory terms, simple and incredible, because this movie is both.  While the production and acting are top rate I doubt Overcomer will be winning any Academy or Gloden Globe Awards, unless they create a new category, Most Powerful Message.

Full disclosure now, I represent what many would consider to be this movie's target audience, I am a Christian.  But I must also acknowledge that its only in the past year that I have become much more intentional with my faith, in point of fact I turned my back on God for a long time.  Central to my faith and a big part of this story is that while I, as an individual, turned my back on God and rejected the saving grace that comes from the person of Jesus Christ, God did not turn His back on me. 

I can pretty much promise anyone going to see this movie, that they will identify with one of the characters.  For me it was the lead role of John Harrison, a history teacher and basketball coach at a Christian high school.  While John is a Christian, the way he views himself as a believer is challenged when he meets Thomas, a blind diabetic undergoing dialysis in the hospital. 

Cameron Arnett is the actor who plays Thomas, and if anyone in this movie were to deserve an Acadamy nomination, in my opinion it would be this veteran actor.  I was literally moved to tears during some of his scenes.  The first time I saw the movie I had tears rolling down my cheeks, the second time my daughter thought I was having trouble breathing when in fact I was trying to supress audible sobs. 

I found Overcomer to be an incredibly emotional movie, however there are also some wonderfully funny moments and I enjoyed some heartfelt, (and very much needed) belly laughs.  I will admit though, I laughed more on the first viewing, and wept more on the second.  The tears were not sorrowful however, they were tears of joy.  A joy that comes from receiving the most meaningful of gifts despite having done absolutely nothing to deserve it.  This movie reminded me and reinforced the beauty and joy of God's wonderful grace.

God isn't just good, God is amazing.

It would be a mistake to put this film into the feel good, beating the odds, underdog David vs Goliath pile, because Overcomer is so much more.  This movie is about life, I can think of no better way to phrase it.  And a central theme of every life is struggle, everybody struggles at one time or another.

In this film all the characters struggle, and if you've struggled with life (has anyone not) then I encourage you to go and see it.  If you're open to having your heart and soul touched, this movie has a very good chance of reaching you:

Monday, March 12, 2018

Ontario's Conservatives looking like a Multi Level Marketing scheme....

If you've ever been to a presentation for a company like Amway or Melaluca, then you likely understand the appeal of  someone like Doug Ford.  

The script is fairly simple, some guy (invariably a man) gets up in front of a room full of people hoping to get rich, and he tells them how.  He shows off his watch, dangles the fob for his Lexus or Mercedes, talks of his fabulous and exotic vacations and tells those attending, "YOU TOO", can be living this life.  

All you have to do is sign up for the Multi-Level Marketing pyramid scheme being pitched, plunk down $1,000 or so bucks and the dream is yours.  Dreams are nice.  

In politics the Doug Fords and Donald Trumps attract the same type of followers.  People see the wealth and think:  "With this guy running things, life will be good".  

The appeal isn't hard to understand, a lot of people are struggling.  The cost of living in Ontario is high, and its only getting higher.  Everything is expensive: housing, gas, groceries, heat and hydro, its all costing more and wages are not keeping up.  That means people are falling behind.  

But a Doug or a Donald, they're gonna help.  And it doesn't even cost anything, just an X on a ballot.  Taxes will drop, jobs will be so abundant that wages will strart climbing faster than inflation, the streets will be paved with gold just like in the good old days.

I get it.  Let's face it, the old ways of electing career politicians hasn't delivered the results many were hoping for.  Sure the Uber Rich keep getting wealthier no matter what brand of goverment the great unwashed select, and the cost of soap keeps going up.

Guys like Ford and Trump sell a dream.  Lower taxes, job creation, wealth for anyone willing to work for it.  But as American workers at places like Carrier are finding out, dreams and reality are quite different.  If you missed the news Carrier has let go of hundreds of workers in the past year despite Trump touting how he was going to save the jobs there.  (Story Here)

Government is complicated, its not simply like running a business, although there is a business component.  But running ministries like the public education system are not measured in profits and losses.  Police are there to enforce laws, not to deliver dividend cheques to shareholders.  

What will happen in June?  Its still too early for me to make a call, but if I was forced to make a prediction right now I'd say we're heading towards a minority situation at Queen's Park with the PCs having the most seats.

And that might not be the worst outcome.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

If Ontario's PCs really want to win, then Elliott is the obvious choice.....

Well Ontario PCs, I'm in.  I finally received my leadership voting information in today's mail and thanks to an on-line tutorial I was able to verify myself.  Now all that's left is to wait for my ballot and to exercise my digital franchise.  

Its been quite the journey.

I signed up for a party membership after the CTV hatchet job on Patrick Brown.  It was fluorescent yellow journalism at its best. My intention at that time was to vote for Christine Elliott.  But then Patrick jumped into the race and I was firmly behind his bid to take the leadership back.  

However now that he's decided to withdraw his name I find myself coming full circle and I will be making Christine Elliott my first choice.  But it wasn't easy. 

I've shared my thoughts, views and experience with many on social media, and with a limited few in person down at PC Party HQ when Patrick went before the committee charged with green lighting candidates.  And I know that many PB supporters find the prospect of supporting Christine Elliott's bid more than a little problematic given Randy Hillier's support of the former deputy leader.

I get it, its called loyalty and I admire it.  

But for what it is worth I do not think for a second that Christine Elliott had anything to do with Patrick Brown's ouster.  Did others who are now supporting her have anything to do with it?  I think that's very possible, maybe even likely.  During that conference call Patrick Brown found out who his friends were, and they were not on the phone.  

Christine Elliott wasn't on that call either.  

Politics can be dirty and messy.  In local ridings there are frequent battles among members about who will get the nomination, and its not unusual for those who lose to cry foul.  Accusations of payoffs and corruption happen in every party.  Kathleen Wynne just took the witness stand for the same type of thing with the Liberals.  But you don't see the Grits burning their own leader at the stake the way Randy did with Patrick.

I'm not going to mince words, Randy Hillier in my books is a dick wad.  But just because he's supporting Christine Elliott's candidacy, I'm not going to smear her with his crappy reputation.  Even Dick Wads like Randy have supporters, and in a hotly contested leadership race, sometimes you have to deal with Dick Wads.  Have I mentioned that I think Randy Hillier is a Dick Wad?  I have?  Oh, sorry....I'm getting older and am prone to repeating myself.  

The question for me is this.  Who has the best chance of defeating the Wynne Liberals and forming Ontario's next government?  For me the answer is a no brainer, that choice is Christine Elliott.  

My distaste for the way Patrick Brown was treated, and Toby's endorsement of Doug Ford in particular, it had me seriously considering supporting Ford Nation.  But I see Doug's path to victory being a much steeper climb.  I do think Doug could win, but I also see a number of areas where he would be vulnerable with the potential to push potential PC voters over to the NDP or even all the way back to the Wynne Liberals.

Where is Doug Ford vulnerable?  

Firstly there's the 2013 by Globe & Mail article about drug dealing, a report that involved 18 months of research.  At the time Doug said it was a smear, that same claim of "yellow journalism" was made.  But the former Toronto Councillor didn't try to clear his name by taking legal action against the Globe as Patrick is now doing with CTV.  That to me says that the reporting is almost certainly accurate.

If you haven't seen it here's the link, its still out there:  

I know some will say....Okay, hash...like so what, pot is about to be made legal anyway.  And there is a point to that.  I myself know that a hot plate and a couple stainless steel knives have uses other than meal preparation, and that a hole in a 2 litre pop bottle can lead to a severe case of the munchies.  

But criminal activity is criminal activity, and I don't think everyone is so forgiving.  Even with wacky tabacky being made legal a lot of Ontarians are still anti-weed.

Then there's the issue of women's reproductive choice.  I understand the importance of Social Conservatives within the larger PC party, and Doug's willingness to listen is commendable  Patrick Brown courted the SoCon vote and it was a big reason why he won the leadership three years ago.  But having issues like abortion, sex ed and marriage rights on the front burner during an election campaign is a good recipe for finding yourself in the opposition benches again.  

Its another vulnerability in my eyes.  Already websites like Press Progress are reporting Ford's willingness to open up these issues, and I see it as a very real threat during a province wide election. I believe that this could be the PC's achilles heel.  Here's a link to a recent story they did about Doug Ford's willingness to push the SoCon agenda:

Is Christine Elliott vulnerable?

The only potential knock I see is that she agreed to take on the role of Patient Ombudsman from the Wynne Liberals.  However given Ms Elliott's passion for health care I also see that as an asset.  In fact I think the former deputy leader will get a lot of marks from non-partisan Ontario voters for taking on the role.  

The Bottom Line

The blog posting before this one included my prediction of a second ballot victory for Doug Ford.  I'm not going to back off that opinion because I understand the appeal.  Doug Ford has a strong "everyman" Homer Simpsonesque quality that a lot of party members identify with.  My fear is that success with party members won't translate into broad based success with Ontario voters.  

That's not to say I don't think a Doug Ford led PC party couldn't still win a majority mandate, I still think its possible.  I just think it would mean having to "come up the middle" much the same way Bob Rae's NDP won their majority in 1990, with the NDP/Liberal vote splitting pretty much evenly so that PC candidates could win with 35% of the vote in a lot of ridings.  

It could happen, but I think its fraught with risks.  With Christine Elliott I don't see the PCs needing the vote to split perfectly, I think she'll easily take 44% of the popular vote and win a solid majority mandate.

Not long to wait now in any case. 

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Ontario's Progressive Conservatives - Let's Get Ready To RUMBLE!!!

Okay Ontario Conservative party members and watchers, the moment you've been waiting for is almost here.  Who will come out on top in this winner take all cage match and go on to face against Kathleen Wynne?  
  • The leader of the Liberal NWO. 
  • Ontario's Queen of Hydro, 
  • The Sultan of Corruption, 
  • The Lesbian who's a political Champion? 
Here are your contenders.

She's a former MPP and the winner of three local elections in her riding.  A former deputy party leader and most recently an appointee to the position of Patient Ombudsman by the current Wynne government.  Ladies and gentleman give it up for.....THE INSIDER!!!

Now entering the ring in the black trunks.  He's a former Toronto City Councillor and a reputed high school drug dealer.  When he's not in the political ring he keeps himself busy looking over the business his Daddy left him.  He's a big time CONSERVATIVE but a lightweight progressive who will never march in a Gay Pride anything.  Let's give a big Ontario cheer, he's DOUG THE THUG from FORD NATIOOOOOOOOOON!!!

Simmer down, simmer down.  Going into my soft falsetto voice now. 

She's the daughter of a former Prime Minister who's never been in the political ring before.  But don't be fooled folks she's no lightweight, she's raised more money than any other candidate, ringing in over $700,000 in a matter of weeks.  She's a Canadian and an American who is the only contender who is nominated in her riding, by acclimation no less....some say Patrick Brown had a hand in that but others say no.  She's on a leave of absence from her regular job because she thought it would be fun to give politics a spin.  Please keep it dignified, soft clapping only for.....THE PRINCESS!!!

And finally the rank outsider, someone so obscure she doesn't even have a Wiki page.  But don't let that fool you, she trains by ripping wind turbines out of the ground with just one hand.  She will single handily send Justin Trudeau running like a frightened little girl if he dares impose a carbon tax.  And she'll do all this while protecting Ontario students from learning anything about sex in the classroom.  Our final combatant entering the ring is, THE CHRISTIAN CRUSADER!!!

The referee for the evening will be interim leader Vic "Feel Her Up" Fedeli. Ladies I suggest you keep a close eye on his hands.  

Ahhh, that was fun.  

But now on to the serious job of trying to predict who will win this little political free for all.  Its not going to happen on a single ballot, of that I'm certain.  After that first ballot though I expect the order to be Ford with a sizable lead, followed by Elliott, Mulroney and Allen in that order.  #FordNation did yeoman's work in signing people up to memberships, he's the only candidate who had a large team ready to spring into action.

That's my prediction for the 1st ballot, barring CTV all of a sudden coming out with another poorly researched story.  

With Patrick Brown's ouster the big question is where will most of his support go, he was reportedly at about 28% according to polls.  And I think it will break down in Ford's favour....a few votes here and there for Elliot, Allen and Mulroney but nothing significant.  Patrick's supporters, I'd say the majority of them, believe that party insiders had a big hand in the way he was taken out, and I see that hurting Elliott and not Ford.

If I had to guess percentages I'd say 50% of Patrick's support will go to Ford, 25% to Elliott and 20% to Allen.  Given that Caroline Mulroney's younger brother works for CTV, that hurts her ability to attract any significant support among Brown's base in my opinion.

#FordNation workers bringing in members, and disaffected supporters of Patrick Brown will have Doug wearing the PC championship belt when its all over.

Patrick made huge inroads with Ontario's diverse Indian communities.  My gut tells me that by and large they'll be more comfortable with Elliott's politics, but I'm not so naive as to think that they all will be comfortable voting for a woman.  And then to use Stephen Harper's old dog whistle, I think "older stock" Canadians will side mostly with Ford.  

I'm predicting that Ford will have a significant lead after the first round, somewhere over 40%, and that all it will take is the support of Granic Allen's voters to put him over the top, that's where I see her votes moving for their 2nd choice.  Mulroney's undoubtedly will swing heavy to Ms. Elliott but I don't think it will be enough.  

My final ballot prediction, Ford 55% to Elliott 45%.

What happens in June?  

I'm sure the Wynne Liberal war room is planning strategy for all possible outcomes, but I'm guessing the prospect of Ford leading the PCs is as close to a dream come true as they can hope for.  Granic Allen would be their first choice I'm sure, but most Ontarians don't even attend church regularly and her chances of changing the name of the gas tax to a carbon tax, there's no hope.   I'm sure even some of her die hard supporters know it....She has no more chance than that kid who promised 3 hour lunches when he ran for class president.

Its gonna be fun to watch.