Thursday, May 15, 2008

I'll quit procrastinating...tomorrow.

A pair of great articles by Slate on the nature of procrastination in the relm of writing (though it could frankly apply across the board) and the biggest procrastination enabler of them all, Solitaire.

As for me, my poison of choice is still Snood.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

In Memoriam - Arthur Kroeger

I was given the news by a friend late last night that Arthur Kroeger has passed away in Ottawa at the age of 75.

For those who don't know of Arthur Kroeger, he was considered by many of those who work and study in the field of Canadian public administration to be the "Dean of Deputy Ministers" and one of the exemplary public servants to come from the "golden age" of the Canadian civil service in the 1950s & 60s.

A much younger generation of those interested in
Canadian public administration (myself included) got to know Arthur Kroeger when he went by a different title - Chancellor. Not only was he the Chancellor of Carleton University from 1993 until 2002 but he was also instrumental in setting up the first undergraduate program in Canada specifically dedicated to training the next generation of public sector leaders. I was very fortunate to have been a part of the inaugural class of the Arthur Kroeger College of Public Affairs and as such we got to spend more than our fair share of time with him over the four years that we were there.

Arthur Kroeger (far left) with four of the founding members of AKCESS (Arthur Kroeger College Educational Students' Society) at our first event


This afternoon as I was reading some of the coverage of his passing, I thought back to a reception that was held about 5 years ago for students, family, and faculty in honour of our impending graduation. I was asked to give some remarks on behalf of the students and I remember making the point that so many institutions end up becoming a very expensive tombstone for some great man or woman who once upon a time left their mark on society and then departed this earth long before getting to meet any of those who would benefit from the institution to which their good name was lent. And I then remarked that we were truly blessed that not only was the exceptional Canadian public servant for whom our institution was named still with us, but that he had taken an active interest in our aspirations and enriched our educational experiance in the process.

Around that same time, Arthur Kroeger asked the Carleton University Board of Governors to allow him to serve as Chancellor one last time on the afternoon of June 12, 2003. He made this request, which was of course granted, so that he could personally present diplomas to the first cohort of students to graduate from the college that was founded to celebrate his contributions to Canada and ensure that his legacy of public service would live on.

It occurs to me today that we have a lot to live up to.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Alberta Liberals ponder future as well

Looks like the Saskatchewan Liberals aren't the only ones doing some soul searching these days...

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Giving Credit Where It Is Due

I want to somewhat belatedly congratulate International Cooperation Minister Bev Oda on this announcement last week, specifically:

-------------------

Untying food aid

The Government of Canada has changed its food aid policy to remove restrictions on sourcing food aid allowing for greater flexibility in where Canada’s food aid can be purchased. Canada will increase the untying of its food aid from 50% to 100% this year, which will open up to 100% of its food aid budget to international procurement with a special emphasis on purchasing food in developing countries. Purchases from developed countries will be limited to countries with similar policies on untying food aid. By untying restrictions on where food is purchased, Canada is promoting the development of local and regional markets and more importantly, increasing the speed, effectiveness, and efficiency of Canadian food aid.

------------------

One of the professional accomplishments that I am proudest of is the work I was able to undertake with former International Cooperation Minister Aileen Carroll back in 2005 to change Canada's food aid rules to increase untying from 10% to 50%. Though it wasn't the sexiest policy issue (certianly no 0.7), in simple terms it meant that without the Government of Canada spending an extra dollar, fewer children in the world had to go to bed hungry. Now, even fewer will.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

A Good Weekend to be a Saskatchewan Liberal

Between the over 100 people who came out to the In The Red event on Friday night (and an outstanding performance by Doll Talk and Ransom) and the three dozen or so folks who invested a beautiful Saturday to start talking about where we have been, where we are, and where we should go as a Saskatchewan Liberal Party, I am feeling for the first time in months like there is some real momentum again.

To spark some conversation, here is the front-page story in today's StarPhoenix about the renewal workshop. I will note however that though it gives a bit of the flavour of the weekend, I do think that the characterization of "Liberals may try leaning to right" (as the headline read in the Regina LeaderPost) is a gross over-simplification of the discussions that are taking place right now.

---------------------------------------------------------

Liberals discuss policy with eye to future
Provincial members examine direction after election shutout

Janet French
The StarPhoenix
Monday, May 05, 2008

The Saskatchewan Liberal Party has begun a period of introspection after party candidates were shut out for a second consecutive provincial election last November. And suggestions emerged Saturday the party could be nudging toward more right-wing ideals.

About 35 Liberals met in Saskatoon to ponder the party's next steps, including what policies it should espouse in the future, organizer Ryan Androsoff said.

"There is a debate happening in the party right now . . . as to what our values and messages should be," said Androsoff, who was the Liberal candidate in Saskatoon Northwest in the 2007 provincial election.

Former B.C. Liberal MLA Lynn Stephens was a guest speaker at the event, dispensing advice from her party's experience during the last two decades when it went from shutouts in the 1990s to taking 77 of 79 seats in B.C.'s 2001 election.

Androsoff said Stephens wasn't there to talk about policy, but advise Saskatchewan Liberals on how to organize themselves successfully.

Her advice? Know what your party's messages are and stick to them, Androsoff said. Stephens also advised party members to build social networks and avoid top-down decision making.

Androsoff wouldn't say directly whether the Saskatchewan Liberals are thinking of moving further right in the political spectrum, where the B.C. Liberals sit, but did describe himself as a "small-l Liberal" who believes in personal and economic freedoms.

He also hinted a move to the right could be beneficial for the party.

"The Sask. Party has really become NDP-like in its first six months in government, and that, I think, provides an opportunity for the Liberal Party to show some leadership far into the future," he said.

Liberals will meet several times over the next six to seven months to set goals and talk about the party's future, he said.

Although he admits the Liberals have much work ahead after their failure to make gains in the last election, Androsoff frames the party's recent political misfortunes in an optimistic light.

"We have one of those unique windows in the life of a political party where you don't have the baggage of the past and you really have a clean slate," he said.

"If people are willing to grab this moment, we have a chance to come together around a message and a set of values that we can all agree upon, and, I think, be able to able to fill an important space in the Saskatchewan political scene."

Androsoff did not know when the party's leadership race will begin -- that has yet to be announced by the Saskatchewan Liberal Association, he said.

Frank Proto has been the Liberals' interim leader since David Karwacki stepped aside in December. Karwacki made the move after the Liberals' failed to get back into the legislature.

Androsoff said although he has heard rumblings from some people who are interested in running for the Liberal leadership, none have declared publicly.

© The StarPhoenix (Saskatoon) 2008