Do You Know Where Your Family Values Come From? I Do. You Should Too.

I have spent the last few months listening to my friends, family and colleagues vigorously debate the need for Christian values in our lives. They appear to have forgotten that our ancestors weren’t always Christians.

I am the equivalent of Heinz 57: In order of genetic makeup, I am Scottish, Irish,
Welsh, Norman, English, Scandinavian, Iberian, and Polynesian.

I was raised Roman Catholic back in the day when ‘Christian’ was not a global term or even a common religious descriptor: one was either a member of the Roman Catholic church, which acknowledged the Pope as its leader, or a member of one of the Protestant churches, which did not. I grew up in a town where you could be despised because your parents were immigrants who didn’t speak English or if
you were just plain, to misquote Yogi Bear, ‘not smarter than the average bear’. We reflected our adults, who, in the main, identified as Christian, and who, in the main, were so politically incorrect it would make your teeth hurt.Image result for Celtic horses

My parents were politically incorrect in many ways by today’s standards, but they welcomed ever
yone into our home, regardless of religious persuasion, and the result was some fairly lively discussions: my siblings and I learned more about the rest of the world’s religions in our living room than I have learned since. One of the more interesting was the one between the Jehovah Witness members and our father: he had the Catholic Bible and they had the King James version. He’d memorized his because it was the only book soldiers in WWII were allowed to take with them – and because it was the only book provided in the guardhouse. They compared and quoted without losing their tempers or discarding their manners: a difference in knowledge and viewpoint was seen as an opportunity to learn, not an opportunity to disparage someone for their differing view or to force your view on someone else.

I remember my father having a conversation with Patty and John, who were from Northern Ireland, and Jim, who was from Ireland (“proper”). He said “the war in Ireland is in Ireland: do not bring it into my house if you wish to remain welcome here.” Any discussion of religion remained civil: a clear proof that we don’t all have to believe the same things to be capable of discussing topics on which we differ rationally and politely.

My father was a Scottish Roman Catholic and my mother a Scottish Anglican.  The churches were not that far apart in rite or practices, but the difference in the heads of the churches (the Pope and the monarch of England, respectively) was significant enough to cause my mother to choose to convert to Catholicism to ensure unity of practice in our home. However, my father used to say ‘I want you to remember that our ancestors were not only Druids (Christianity was forced on them), but many of them worshiped the major Norse, Irish and Scottish deities, and others their tribal gods.” He often pointed out that in the British Isles and Ireland, conflicts arose far more often between tribes than between religions.

Where I grew up, some degree of familiarity with Native Canadian beliefs was common. Our parents made sure that we understood that we were to respect those beliefs despite not sharing them. Based on my ancestry, I have many more connections to the beliefs of First Nations peoples than to those of Catholicism. My grandchildren are Metis. (Metis means that they are of mixed ancestry.) Like me, they are cognizant of the values commonly attributed to Christianity but do not self-identify as Christian: they incline more to traditional beliefs, which are, if perhaps not as common, certainly as valid today as they were before the Inquisition decided that they should terrorize the rest of the planet into compliance.

When you consider it de rigueur to treat any member of the human race as if they don’t matter because they aren’t of your religion, you aren’t ‘living your truth’, you’re simply displaying your insecurity. If your faith can be diminished by the knowledge that other people do not believe as you do, you never had any.

You let the elders of all societies down when you abdicate your willingness to think for yourself. To put it bluntly, you let down every other member of the human race when you refuse to think for yourself. When you let someone else make your decisions, you are not the person that God or the Great Spirit intended you to be: you are merely a mindless puppet, and in the end you will reap what you have sown.

I was an altar girl, served mass, taught Sunday school, and was married in the church. I might be said to be “a recovering Catholic”, but I am not a Christian. That doesn’t mean that I am not a good person, a religious person, a spiritual person, or a righteous person. It means that I am balancing my history with my present and that I think for myself: I choose for myself what I believe and what I will do because of what I believe.

One of the things I believe is that my beliefs are mine: since they are mine, based in my individual conclusions and values, I have no right to force them on others. I also believe that others have no right to try to force their beliefs on me, and that we should all keep our religion out of politics.

Canada is a cultural and religious mosaic. That mosaic will be impossible to maintain unless we collectively require tolerance and its attendant civility between those who differ, whether about religion, politics or cultural practices. History has taught us this repeatedly. Unfortunately, once again, we appear to stopped listening.

In conclusion, a word to the “Christians” of the sort who wear “WWJD” bracelets while trying to force compliance with their beliefs: forcing others to behave according to your personal interpretation of his words is NOT what he would do. He was a rabbi, not an Inquisitor. His first rule of personal interaction was ‘Treat others the way you wish to be treated’ and his primary behavioural requirement was the doing of practical good, so any “Christian” trying to force their beliefs on others is clearly failing in obedience on both counts and should stop concerning themselves with others until they have their own behaviour in order.

Grace’s Rule 525: Vote or Stop Whining. Your Vote is Your Voice.

Grace had a very progressive political philosophy for a product of the WWII generation. She grew up in a house with a male feminist.  In previous posts, I have talked about how my grandfather believed this his ‘girls’ needed to be educated and knowledgeable.  A pretty radical thought for someone born in 1860’s Scotland.  She wasn’t all that far removed from the generation of women who weren’t able to vote.  Those people included her grandmothers, aunts and mother.  Voting was a sacred trust.

Grace’s rule 525 was Vote or Stop Whining and Don’t Ask for Anything.

In her words, the nature of politics is to pander to the lowest common denominator. Take from the rich and give to the poor. Better known as the Robin Hood Syndrome. The problem is that the definition of rich has changed a lot. In NDP parlance, it is anyone making more than $150,000 a year. Highly unlikely, in Manitoba, someone making $150,000 a year is paying better than 60% of their salary in taxes (income tax, sales tax, education tax, gas tax and so on).

She was always the person the local politicians feared.  You see my mother might have been one of the few people at the time that could take your speech verbatim in shorthand.  She was the only one who could read it and it caused a lot of angst when she got out that pad and pencil.

In order to get Grace’s vote, the candidate needed to be

  1. a candidate for who this wasn’t going to be a full time job. She always asked where you worked, how long you had worked there and what your contribution would be to the betterment of the planet.  You see Manitoba is part of the planet. She detested double dippers.  You know the ones.  They worked for the Federal or Provincial government, retired and are now looking to re-retire after 4 to 6 years with a better pension.  We have one of those in my riding.  She was a big fan of term limits.  She often said it prevented organization stupidity.
  2. a candidate who passed basic arithmetic. Someone more worried about spending what they have rather than getting more from those of us who already pay through the nose. There is no middle class in Manitoba.  There is only the taxed class.
  3. a candidate who understands that the government has NO money. The money they have comes from the Bank of The Taxpayers.  We, the taxpayers,          don’t have unlimited funds.  If you tax us into the poor house, there will be no money to spend and all the taxes will go unpaid.  Maybe, it is time to consider a flat income tax.  Everyone pays, let’s say 10% of gross.  No rebates.
  4. a candidate who was willing to challenge the status quo. There could be no sacred cows.  Everything must be one the table.  Processes haven’t changed in some parts of our agencies for 50 years.  It is time for change.  Change isn’t necessary bad but it is necessary.
  5. a candidate who will take the money for health care, education and other agencies out of general revenue and put them in proper cost centers. She often said the government didn’t know the real cost of anything. 85% of money for health care and education is salaries.  So the next time, you start whining about equipment, remember it is salaries or equipment but not both.
  6. a candidate who is willing to say no and not worry about their next election results. Not every special interest group is worthy of money. She grew up in an era when you did for yourself and your family. You didn’t expect others to do for you.  Her take on universal child care would frequently start a fight. I can remember her telling me, you are responsible to ensure she has what she needs.  Not the rest of the world.
  7. She would make sure that people who talked about staying away where abdicating their responsibility to the rest of us. The bottom line is VOTE.  If 100% of the eligible voters turned out, imagine:
  • Declined balloEveryvotets place first
  • PCs place second
  • MB Liberals and NDP tie for third.

What a message that would send!

She would tell you:

  • Be informed.
  • And … damn it, get off your backside, got to the polls, and vote. Silence means you agree with the minority who vote.
  • Your vote is your voice.  Silence isn’t golden when you refuse to vote.  It is an abdication of responsibility.

She would tell you that it is apathy that caused the NDP to win with about 34% of the 54% of people who voted.  That is not a majority.  It is a crime against democracy.

She is right.  Those who didn’t vote gave the NDP a mandate to stop listening, to be unaccountable, and to spend our province into a debt that my and your great great grandchildren will pay for.

Just Act On Grace’s Rule 525:  Vote.  Because …  If you don’t vote, don’t whine.  If you don’t vote, you are owed nothing.  If you don’t vote, you compromise the future of your parents, children, family and society. 

 A word of caution:  The TV series, House of Cards, is more real than you would believe.


Grace’s Rule 25: Real Veterans Need Real Support

Tomorrow will be the 3rd anniversary of my mother’s passing.  I was looking through some of her letters and thought that it made sense to talk about two of her passions.

My mother was a champion for every veteran who ever served regardless of the conflict in which they served.  She stood tall and proud with Korean Momveterans in Canada when it wasn’t politically correct to do so.  After all, Korea wasn’t a war, was it???

Grace never met a veteran that she wouldn’t walk a 1000 miles to help.  She supported the Royal Canadian Legion even after they allowed her to be treated despicably by people who have never appreciated those who serve.  Despite the treatment, my mother continued to provide services to veterans, even those who stood against the truth.

My mother had a Sheltie named Goldie.  For as much as Goldie was work, she was also a companion who provided my mother with a great deal of joy, companionship and comfort.  Goldie was a late addition to my mother’s life and not necessarily one she would have done on her own.  But once, Goldie was there, she was a complete hit.

My mother had a number of guiding principles.  Two of which were:  veterans deserve our complete and total support (she supported the Gurkha Welfare Appeal until her death) and that animals can help heal the wounded soul.  She was and still is right.

For those of you who have never stepped out of your comfort zone to walk a deserted street in a foreign country where the locals shoot at you because you wear a blue beret or helmet; walk the areas of an inner city where gangs are terrorizing our children; rush into a burning building to rescue those inside; or answer ambulance calls where it is the 25th time you have seen a death due to texting or drink. It is time to wake the hell up.

Cvet’s Pets is part of the solution.  Cvet’s Pets is a charity run by a Blue Bomber alumni Chris Cvetkovic.  The goal for the charity is to put two wounded warriors together and give them both a better life.  Cvet’s Pets volunteers work and train shelter dogs to pair with a veteran or first responders.

How cool is that?  They are the connection between those who need help with animals who need a purpose.  My mother and Goldie were that kind of match.

My mother was living alone in a small northern community where she knew everyone and no one at the same time.  She could count on the fingers of one hand those she trusted to come when she called.  Assuming she was in any condition to call.

My mother grew up on a farm. Pets just weren’t in the cards.  All the animals on the farm were working animals not ‘pets’  My mother lived alone.  Goldie added a great deal of pleasure to my mother’s life and gave her a reason to get up every day.  There was someone who was there to care and provide for.  It always amazed me that my mother was so attached to Goldie.

They help connect those who need help with those who need a purpose.

What Chris didn’t realize is that he would provide us, who were in need, of a way to honour a loved one with the perfect outlet. He helped give our desire to be charitable, our need to help our community, and our need to honour one we lost a purpose.

Cvets’ Pets has allowed us to find a way as a corporate entity to honour one of our biggest supporters in a way she would certainly approve of. Grace was a regular donator to the ASPCA and she was lifetime supporter of the Royal Canadian Legion. We are confident that she would approve of our corporate support in her name to a charity that marries two of her causes together.

We are proud to be the Title Sponsor for this year’s Cvets’ Pets Golf Tournament and we are proud to share their events on our Facebook page and Twitter account.

We also want to thank Chris for helping us, possibly more than we can express.

Support Cvet’s Pets by supporting the August 12 Golf Tournament with items of the gift bags, sponsoring a hole, or sending a team to golf.

Find Cvets’ Pets on Facebook here:

Learn more about Cvets’ Pets events here:

Open Letter to the members of the CRTC: It is time for you to go.


I blog when I have something to say and Terry Pedwell’s Canadian Press article on the CRTC touched a nerve today.

Let me quote from Terry Pedwell’s Canadian Press article, “CRTC secretary general John Traversy said the companies’ refusal to provide any supporting evidence means it cannot evaluate the strength of their arguments. And he said it undermined the authority of the regulator.

“The Commission views such actions as a direct attempt to undermine its ability to serve Canadians, as well as impair the procedural fairness owed to all participants,” Traversy said in a letter to Netflix global public policy director Corie Wright.”

Striking information from the public record. Sensorship, anyone? At a minimum, pure unadulterated stupidity.  Nothing disappears from the Internet.  Haven’t you figured that out, Mr. Traversy.

Nobody, except for a very select few, ever asked for your service on their behalf. The CRTC, just like a non-performing employee, should have been made redundant 20 years ago. Over the years, the commission has become out of touch, irrelevant, and obstructionist. The only people who benefit from the CRTC are lawyers and lobbyists.

I think Netflix and Google are in the right here. No government agency should have the right to know what type of subscription I purchase and from what legal entity. I chose a Netflix subscription.  What I watch is my choice.  If it isn’t offered, I can watch something different. Google operates the same way. Both organizations use a pull rather than a push process to get the material on the air.  If I want to watch, I go to their sites.

Satellite and cable television are a whole different ball game. They are so tightly regulated by this bunch of bureaucrats that is it almost impossible to change the satellite package to get just what you want to see rather than what is deemed culturally important. I want the same selection options on satellite or cable that I have on Netflix. If I don’t want it, don’t charge me for it.

The standard customer service response is ‘well, you can create a favourites list”. Duh! Creating a favourites list doesn’t reduce my bill or take crap off my package that I have never and will never watch. If I don’t want it, I shouldn’t have to pay for it. It is just another form of retrogressive taxation.

History is on the side of the consumer. As a regulatory agency, you have managed to mangle the telecommunications industry beyond recognition. Would I be correct in assuming that the goal of the CRTC is to mangle the video market? I think it is your goal. How presumptuous of you to take Netflix and Google out of the equation!

Here are some hints for where to better spend your time.

  1. Get rid of the Canadian content rules. It is time for Canadian content to be judged and funded based on the quality of the product rather than the percentage of the broadcast air space. If we, as a nation, are incapable of producing television and radio programs that capture the interest of Canadians, it is time to fold up our tent and get out of Dodge. We are handicapped by the subjective definition of Canadian content.  Brian  Adams vs. Bonnie Raitt. Anyone remember that disaster? If we can’t define it, get rid of it.
  2. Stay out of my business and my wallet. All the CRTC has ever done is cost me money. Some of which is discretionary but in many cases it is because the members of the CRTC make bad decisions.  When you meddle in the world of business, you cost every consumer something.  If I need your help, I’ll ask.
  3. Recommend disbanding the CRTC. Since the CRTC was created by the Liberals, your commission has been part of the anti-improvement league. If you recommended disbanding the CRTC, you would gain a lot of credibility with Canadians. Many of us don’t believe you are relevant anyway. But, you won’t do that. It would be against your self-interest.
  4. Streamline the process and butt out. Have you ever heard the term, lead, follow or get out of the way? CRTC creates problems where none exist. If you can’t or won’t disband, then get out of the way and let Canadians decide what is best for us individually.


Last comment: The next time, Mr. Lacroix and his minions from CBC come to call. Please remind him that the CBC is already paid for by Canadians. We get damned little for our money. The CBC suffers from entitlement syndrome. Just, give us the money.  We are important to Canadians. CBC should be funded like NPR in the US.  They should have to raise money through matching donations. No donation. No government funding.

In a nutshell, oversight without accountability sums up the CRTC and its members. Down to the very last member, you are Luddites. It is time to get down off your bully pulpit and get with the times.

Grace’s Rule 101: Never Take A Knife to A Gunfight

It used to sound strange when my rather polite mother used that phrase.  It was usually when something went wrong, the right tools weren’t available and the wrong people were involved.  After all if you follow the Earp brothers and their cohorts, a gunfight was usually hostile and devoid of reason.  It was unlikely that you would get close enough to see the whites of their eyes so that you could use the ‘knife’ to any great advantage.  In fact, you would be hurt whether it was a scratch or permanent.

For the rest of this blog, the knife is the tools you need, including attitude; the gunfight is the situation that you find yourself in.

Over the past several weeks, I taking a course based on a book by Simon Sinek entitled ‘Start with Why”. We have worked through a number of exercises where we identified the gunfight.  What I discovered was I was frequently leaving the knife at home.

I have been breaking rule 101 almost every day without realizing it. In fact, I was so focussed on the gunfight that I forgot to even think about the tools that I needed to get the work completed.

It is somewhat amazing when the wallop delivers a concrete message.  I just figured out what she meant.

  1. If you can see the gunfight, assess the situation (what we, in the military, call conducting a sit-rep).  It is okay if you need to do more than one assessment, but at some point you will have to make a decision that you know what you know and that is all.
  2. Determine what you need to do to address the situation.  Find 3 – 5 steps that you can take to resolve the situation.
  3. Get out of your own way and find the right tool. Occasionally, the right tool is talking to a friend, colleague or family member.  Don’t be afraid to talk.  You are thinking through your steps.
  4. Put the procrastination gene on ice and take that first step.  It will be the start of either winning or losing the fight.

After all, all of us at one time or another use the wrong tool for the wrong situation.  But, if you are willing to learn, you will eventually be select and use the right tool for the right situation.  Do the work and move on. Eventually, it will become a habit.

I hereby resolve to make sure that I am following the four steps above.????????????????????????????????????????????????????

 Thanks to the Platinum Master Mind Group.  Each of you is special and contribute to my life daily.  You rock.

Thanks to Simon and his team for the opportunity.

Grace Had Rules Before Gibbs

I was watching NCIS on the PVR when the penny dropped.  I realized that my mother had life rules very similar to Leroy Jethro Gibbs. I had forgotten about them.  I trolled around my laptop and found document that I wrote shortly after her death in 2012 to make sure that I thanked her for each of the ‘rules’. I thought that I might share them because they are really lessons from her life and they definitely had an impact on everyone who knew her. I have a very dear friend who calls her JAG and she really was.  The devil is in the details.

MomandMeRule No. 29: Only answer the question.   She taught us to only answer the question and to never volunteer information. In Grace’s philosophy, you can’t lie if you only answer the question.

The impact of that thought process is staggering.  The responsibility for information gathering shifts to the questioner rather than the person responding.  If there is follow-up required, it is up to the questioner to ask the next question. My mother would have told you that she had never told a lie.  She hadn’t.   If you didn’t ask the right question or the next question, it was not her fault. As strange as that sounds, she was and still is right.

When as children, we would ask for something. If she could not say a definite yes, she always said maybe. She never wanted to lie to anyone especially children. It was all about managing expectations. This philosophy drives people, especially my brother, up the wall.

They can always in search of the answer because the women in his life, my mother, sister, daughter and I, only just answer the question.

Have a great week.  Thank those who are in your life for their support.  Thank those who have passed.  They can still hear you.

There Are Days When You Need To Ante Up

Today is one of those days when you wish that people would answer their meeting invites.  It is tough enough to schedule a ‘day with time for everything’ without being stood up.

In short,

  • Answer the meeting invite. You can accept or reject the invitation. You can even propose a new time. Let people know that you can’t make it.
  • Make sure that you are the person that should be attending the meeting.
  • Don’t waste other people’s time or your own.

In other words, you must make time to be courteous.  If you can’t, trust can never be achieved.

If you can’t show up, ante up.