Saturday, July 2, 2016

Canada Day

July 1, 2016
Kiwanis Beaver Creek Park

Ladies and gentlemen, guests and friends, on behalf of Mayor and Council welcome one and all to beautiful Kiwanis Beaver Creek Park and thank you for joining us here today on Canada’s 149th birthday. Thank you to the Kiwanis Club and Mayor Checcini for organizing this great event.

We are so fortunate to be able to freely gather here and celebrate the privilege of being Canadian. I truly do view my Canadian citizenship as a gift. One that I was fortunate enough to receive - just by virtue of being born here. My ancestors came here from Newcastle, England to work in the coal mines on Vancouver Island and make a better life for themselves and future generations. I always knew growing up that Canada was a special place and my appreciation for this gift has only increased with age. It was only recently though, when I had the privilege of attending the Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference in 2015, that I came to fully understand just how special this country really is.

Last June, over a period of two weeks I travelled across our country with a group of over 200 other leaders from every province and territory.  My team was fortunate to tour through Ontario’s Golden Horseshoe, an historic and culturally diverse region. We travelled by bus, subway, foot and air - visiting over 50 separate sites and venues across the region – learning about what makes our country tick and how Canada is well positioned to be a global leader in an ever changing and increasingly competitive globalized world. Whether it is in education, medical technology, social entrepreneurship or being at the leading edge of the green power revolution – Canada is at the fore. We truly are a progressive and innovative people.

Canada affords opportunity to natural born citizens and newcomers alike. In fact, it was mostly a migrant population from the old world, along with First Nations that built the cities and infrastructure we inhabit and use today. It is the descendants of these brave souls who now enjoy one of the greatest standards of living on earth today. We are consistently ranked as one of the top 5 countries to live in across the globe. This is something we should all be proud of - because it is communities like ours that make it so.

In an increasingly complex and unstable world, Canada is still viewed as a beacon of hope and a bastion of stability. I’ve heard it said that Canada is one of the few countries in the world where two people on completely opposite sides of the political spectrum can agree to disagree on a major issue - and still have a pint together afterwards. It is actually this very thing that makes us unique and special, our ability to respect the differences of the many peoples who inhabit this great land. And in doing so, we still find ways to achieve common goals and move our country forward.

With that ladies and gentlemen, I will leave you to appreciate the gift that we all share today - on our young nation’s birthday… the privilege of being Canadian.

Thank you for indulging me and Happy Canada Day to you all.

 Kevin Jolly


City of Trail


Monday, March 7, 2016

The Primaries ...

One of the things we must accept when living in an advanced democracy is that almost anyone can run for public office. If you are of legal age and a legal resident, absent a criminal conviction the only remaining hurdle is whether or not one has the courage to put their name on a ballot and try their luck. While political experience and formal education are both great assets that would improve anyone’s chances, they are not required to enter into a race. This holds true for Council positions at the municipal level right up to the highest offices of the land. It is somewhat of a paradox actually, in that it allows anyone who has worked hard, possesses good ideas and has a following the opportunity to lead if successful. This principal also guarantees that some people with not so great ideas, some money and the loudest voice will have that opportunity also. Add in the advent of instant publishing through social media, coupled with an angry and motivated electorate and voila – we have the 2016 American Presidential Primaries. Impossible to miss, even harder to tolerate and like an accident scene – too compelling to look away completely. As a lifelong political observer, I must say this cycle has to be the most off-putting and degenerative electoral process I have ever witnessed.

Quite obviously money plays a significant role when seeking the highest office in the most influential nation on earth and having your own billions creates a decided advantage. As a candidate you can enter the process beholden to no-one but the voting public. I would argue that this was the original intent of the framers of the US Constitution, that candidates for the office of the President would not be beholden to special interests (perhaps the Horse Ferrier’s Guild of the day). I can’t imagine though, the framers ever envisioned a time such as this where a single presidential election cycle would be fought and a billion dollars (villainous pinky to side of mouth) would be the expected and normative cost for the winner. This is however, the current state of the American presidency. It should not surprise us given the gravity of the role and the impact that US Presidents have upon the whole world that the stakes are higher than high to be sure and moneyed interests are prepared to do almost anything to protect those interests. This is why, in my view, what matters more than the independence that money can buy, is the caliber and substance of the candidate. Their bona fides must be such that if they are successful in their pursuit, they will be able to handle the job and do what is right, in spite of the whims and interests of their financial backers. This is not an entry level job and character is the chief currency of Presidents. When they speak, their words must carry meaning and intent that is unequivocal and not frequently misunderstood or unclear. The position of leader of the free world has been known to cause hair to turn grey in a matter of months and for good reason. It is about 60-70 hours a week of complex decisions and deal making. Almost all of which carry immense consequences and conflicting interests. Nations rise and fall based on the decisions and actions of US Presidents, history shows this to be true. Prudence and pensiveness should be hallmarks of the occupant of the Oval Office, not bellicosity and belligerence.

When you are the CEO of the largest economy on earth and in command of the worlds most powerful army, a propensity for reactionary and rhetorical responses would be considered liabilities by most. Enter “The Donald”. Tired of 7 years of Obama’s hope and change franchise, America stands ready to propel casino mogul and notorious real estate developer Donald Trump into arguably the most important job in the world. With only the former First Lady/Secretary of State (with legal storm clouds gathering over her head) and possibly a nutty old professor type standing in his way, this is now a statistical possibility. As other leaders from around the world wonder aloud about the possibility and some governments debate banning Donald Trump from their country - I don’t mind asking the question, “How the hell did we get here”? This feels like a one-way bus ride to crazy town. Is the world really ready for “those hands” to twitch above the nuclear button? Is this just what happens when a leadership vacuum is created? Is it the result of cultural decay over a long period of time that our cousins to the south are now ready to elect a strongman with a dictatorial bent just to right the ship? Or is this just what happens when people feel threatened? Do we instinctively seek a protector with impossible solutions who will ride in on a white horse and rescue us from ourselves? Honestly, at this point - I am vexed only with questions as to why and lay no claim to a logical reason as to how this has come to pass. But, as we draw closer each day to the possibility of a Donald vs. Hillary showdown at high noon, I fear for the future of the truth. It will surely be the greatest casualty in this epic battle of BS and regardless of the final outcome, the world will still be left with a leader we ultimately do not trust. This is the tragedy of it all.

As Winston Churchill offered, “It has been said that Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all others that have been tried”. While I don’t disagree with his sentiments, I am more inclined to adhere to the belief of American Poet, E.E. Cummings who opined that, “Democracy is a messy business”.


Friday, January 1, 2016

2015 Post Script ...

It's that time again...where we take a look back throughout the year and reflect on what happened in our world and consider what those events mean for our future. Amidst the background noise of pop culture and its sometimes captivating headlines there were many significant events that changed our world and consequently our future. I know we all see these top lists every time we click on a blog or media site and I must say, I also tire of seeing the top 5 reasons the Kardashians shouldn't be famous. I promise that my year end look back will provide more intellectual stimulation than any Kardashian story of 2015.

Locally:  Bridges...

If the year of the Sheep (according to the Chinese Zodiac) doesn't fit for you, 2015 can more aptly be named the year of the Bridge in Trail. After several years of public debate, a referendum, inter-municipal negotiations and financial strategizing - the yet to be named Pedestrian Pipe Bridge is now under construction. Watching the largest infrastructure project in Trail's history rise into the sky and across the Columbia in 2016 will be a sight to behold. It is worth mentioning that this landmark project is also being captured by the City with time lapsed video as it takes shape. A big thank you goes out to our regional partners for their contributions in this massive undertaking and also to our residents for their patience while this process played out.

As Guy Bertrand of the Trail Daily Times noted in one of his columns earlier this year, the metaphor of building bridges between communities is certainly not lost on keen political observers across our region and if year one of this municipal term is any indication of things to come, I am also quite encouraged for what we may be able to collectively accomplish over the next three years. 

I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention the final approval of the Victoria Street Bridge Lighting project which has just gone out to tender and will complete in time for the re-launch of Silver City Days in Trail this coming May.

Regionally: Wildfires …

The Wildfires of 2015 were the dominant story throughout the long days of summer across the province and throughout the Kootenay Boundary Regional District.  The community of Rock Creek felt the full effect of this tragedy. Over 30 homes were lost, along with livestock, wildlife and family pets. The devastation was hard to fathom by mere description and could only be fully understood by visiting the sight post recovery.  A scene I won’t soon forget. The Stickpin fire in Washington State, which consumed more than 20,000 hectares of forest in its wake and spreading right up to the Canada/US border, left the communities of Grand Forks and Christina Lake on the edge of evacuation for weeks.  With the help of the Red Cross, The Trail Memorial Centre was set to receive several thousand evacuees from the Boundary area. Fortunately, this next step was ultimately not required. If a silver lining can be found in a tragedy of this nature, it has to be that our emergency management systems worked exactly as planned. I can’t stress enough how well this tragic event was handled by emergency responders, decision makers and community volunteers.  They are all to be commended for their tireless efforts and professionalism as they helped our communities through this tumultuous time.

Provincial: Liquid Natural Gas or Hot Air?

On a provincial level, the big story in my opinion would have to be the non-story of LNG. The development of the Liquid Natural Gas industry in BC has been the focus of 2 provincial election campaigns and has yet to materialize in a significant way. With the slowdown in the oil patch and many workers returning to BC unemployed – a move forward for the LNG sector would be a long overdue and welcome boost to our provincial employment picture. If not now...then when?

National: Election vs. the TRC Report

While the election of a new national government after nine years is a headline grabber, it is hardly surprising. All long tenured governments eventually take on an air of invincibility and fall victim to their belief in their own infallibility and the electorate ultimately shows them the door. The Federal Liberals were no different after a decade of PM Chretien and a brief stint of Paul Martin’s small L liberal view of the future – the sponsorship scandal ultimately ended the Liberals reign of power. This is why I see the national story of the year as being the delivery of Justice Sinclair’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report (TRC) and not the election of a Liberal majority. It puts an end to the debate about the moral correctness of our Government of the day’s actions with respect to their treatment of First Nations Peoples and the deliberate effort to eradicate their culture. It happened ... and all of the horrors that came with it - fell under the banner of officially sanctioned government policy. This ugly truth must be accepted by those in power today and sincere efforts to reconcile must begin now. If you don’t know what this document is and its historical significance, I encourage you to click the link below and read at least the Executive Summary now. It is sobering.

Global: Migration & Terrorism

The global story of 2015 has to be the Syrian/Middle East mass migration into Europe and around the world. The civil war in Syria has displaced hundreds of thousands and has resulted in a mass migration of people not seen since WW2. The cultural impacts of this massive population shift will be felt most in Eastern and Western Europe where the bulk of the migrants have made their journey. Assimilation will be challenging to say the least under these circumstances. Infrastructure such as schools, hospitals, rental housing and other necessities simply do not currently exist in sufficient quantities across rural Europe to effectively absorb a population spike such as this one. This entire situation is further complicated by the ongoing threats of the radical terrorist group (ISIS) to infiltrate the waves of migrants in an effort to slip past conventional security measures and evade detection.  In the case of Canada, our federal government has agreed to take in 25,000 refugees across our nation by February of 2016. An effective screening process is a must as we undertake this humanitarian effort. The recent terror attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, CA further highlight the need for sensible security measures to protect the innocent. This (in my opinion) is and will be the moral struggle of our generation, to balance security and sensibility amid human conflict. Ultimately, It was public calls from current Premier’s, and former statesmen from across the country that led the Liberals and our newly minted Prime Minister to rethink their/his approach towards the vetting process we will employ as we offer refuge to the asylum seekers of a war torn region. I can't remember another time in recent memory when our nation's values were so challenged by the complexity of circumstances and our desire to do the right thing. The effectiveness of this screening process as undertaken will now be judged by the passage of time.


On a personal note, I certainly lay no claim to Sainthood; however with each passing year, I do try to improve in all areas of my life. Personally, professionally, health wise and in the quality of the relationships I choose to focus on. Some years prove better than others, but I always endeavor to learn from my successes and more importantly from the failures. To learn - is to live. To refuse to learn is an act of self-condemnation. In the ever increasing pace of our wired world, we must be open not only to new ideas, but also to the notion that some of our old ideas may no longer work and now belong in the discard pile. This can be a bitter pill to swallow sometimes, but a necessary part of personal growth. What was I wrong about in 2015? The answer to that question is best left to a column all of its own.

In closing, I leave you with this thought; it is impossible to start fresh in a new year if we are carrying the complaints, woes and wounds of 2015 into the next. Do yourself a favor and leave them behind as you embrace the possibilities of 2016 and move forward.

 Happy New Year!

 The Jolly Blogger

“Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors and let every New Year find you a better man”.
- Benjamin Franklin