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All In Hand

Here you'll find the sum total of Miss Vicky's Remarks thus far.

Comfort and Joy

Miss Vicky Wed Dec 24, 2008

(Thanks to pal Vish for the great pic)

Bah, humbug

Miss Vicky Tue Dec 23, 2008

I know I should be posting happy, joyous holiday wishes right now. And maybe I will, in the next few days. But I'm not feeling particularly festive at the moment. Because sometimes, Christmas sucks.

The holidays can be tough on people who have experienced various forms of loss, who have dysfunctional families, or who find themselves in dire straits, whether financially or emotionally. That undercurrent of obligatory merriness can really get to a person this time of year, especially if you have good reasons for not feeling terribly merry.

Usually my reaction is to go into a frenzy of hyper-holiday activity. I WILL have a tree! It WILL be decorated! I WILL find great gifts for my loved ones! I WILL participate in merriment wherever possible! And most of the time it works pretty well. In the past I've largely been able to gloss over whatever disappointment is niggling at me and managed to find some way to enjoy the season.

It's tough this year, though. I have plenty of things to celebrate in my life - a great partner, amazing and adorable son, and, miraculously, another wee one enroute, ETA May 12. But last week I couldn't help but feel a tad, well, crappy, when I realized that a year ago we lost our Bug. These are raw emotions; they creep up on you when you least expect it - but I guess that is always going to be the case whenever this season rolls around. I feel a little better this week having allowed myself to grieve a little. A little better for myself, that is.

Because what's really bothering me now is all the nasty stuff happening to people I care about. Like my friend pinklitva, living with a particularly awful form of cancer. Or another longtime friend Michele, who lost her mother a couple of weeks ago. Or certain people close to me who are going through the process of ending their marriages. Or friend and neighbour Andrea and her two girls, who are dealing with the sudden and unexpected loss of their much cherished husband and father, Barry (not to mention his many friends, relatives, neighbours and co-workers who are also feeling the absence of a person who was, clearly, very loved and respected). It makes my heart sick, really.

I suppose that all of this sadness should make me take stock of all the good in my life, and be thankful for it. I do, and I am. But I feel a need to be sad for a while, to acknowledge that bitter tinge that edges all of the holiday sweetness. And maybe it's time to send a virtual hug to those who are going through loss and heartbreak this holiday. Because sometimes, Christmas sucks. And it should be OK to say so.

Strike PR update

Miss Vicky Thu Dec 18, 2008

Hey, look!

Give something big this year

Miss Vicky Thu Dec 18, 2008

Our friends at Inter pares are encouraging folks to Give Something Big this year. Not big in the consumer sense of the word, but big in the impact a small gift or act can have in the struggle for social justice, equality and peace around the globe. Inter pares works with organizations around the world who promote justice in different ways - groups that work on issues as varied as violence against women, food security, refugees and displaced people's rights, peacebuilding, health, and just economies. A donation will get you 10 e-cards to send to friends and family, to let them know you're giving something big on their behalf.

There are also some ways you can help, a little closer to home.

there are two Christmas Dinners in Kitchissippi:

The annual Elvis Sighting Society's Christmas Day dinner at the Newport Restaurant (Richmond Rd. at Churchill) starts at 10am on the 25th. They're accepting donations of baked goods and unwrapped gifts (especially for older children and adults). You can also make a financial contribution at a lot of Westboro businesses - just look for the donation jar.

Monies collected are distributed to local charities. Volunteers are always welcome- please e-mail volunteer@elvissightingsociety.org or call 613- 731-3164 ext. 23.

Here in the 'burg we have our annual free Christmas dinner at the Carleton Tavern, 223 Armstrong St., right next to the Parkdale Market. The dinner is from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Christmas Day. The event is sponsored by Carleton owners the Saikaley family, and the Hintonburg Economic Development Committee. In addition to the usual holiday fare, a vegetarian meal will provided by Indian Food and Express. In addition to the great company and food, there will be music organized by Midnight Mike and the Open Stage Revue.

HEDC is seeking donations of turkeys, ham and baked goods for the dinner as well as new gifts for adults (sweaters, warm socks, mitts, gloves, hats, gift certificates, telephone cards) as well as children's gifts and pet food. Please wrap and label any gifts. For more info or if you want to help call Cheryl or Vance at 613-728-7582 or e-mail: hedc@sympatico.ca.

Knitters and crafty folks might be interested in the charity knit days organized by Wabi-Sabi - working on items to donate to the Carelton Tavern xmas dinner. You can bring your own project, start one or work on something that is available at the shop (they say the looms will be set up and ready to go). Next knit day is Sunday Dec. 21 from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. Email workshops@wabi-sabi.ca to reserve a spot.

there are plenty of other ways you can help this year - Causeway is selling holiday cards, and I am sure other local organizations have similar campaigns. Feel free to post other ideas here!

Strikes and PR

Miss Vicky Wed Dec 17, 2008

Miss Vicky has been quiet on this transit strike issue up until now. It's been kind of hard to weigh in, with so much flying back and forth in the media, none of it particularly helpful to moving us toward an end to the conflict. With so many layers of misinformation and knee-jerk reaction, especially with the Mayor trying to negotiate through the media (if you can call what he's doing negotiation, since it's more bullying than bargaining).

I'm not particularly surprised at the mayor's tactics. First of all, as a private sector entrepreneur who specializes in outsourcing (and therefore helping employers do away with the need to negotiate collectively with employees, or indeed have employees at all), he knows next to nothing about the process. Second, he desperately needs a victory. With his recent loss of face during the budget process, not to mention his impending trial, Mayor Larry desperately needs a victory. What's more, he desperately needs to show that he is actually relevant.

In a situation like this, with a completely intractable employer who seems content to wait out the strike, it is fundamental that the union get the public on its side. Stopping work isn't enough - the public needs to exert pressure on the employer to get them back to the table and to negotiate a fair and timely end to the strike... say, by accepting the mediator's suggestion to remove scheduling from the package and deal with it in a separate process.

Unfortunately, the ATU seems to be lacking a smart PR strategy. Scratch that - they seem to be lacking a PR strategy altogether. I'm assuming they have their ways to communicate with their members - they've been having regular membership meetings to update members on the situation - but they don't seem to have put any thought whatsoever into communicating with their riders. The local's website hasn't been updated in months. ATU Canada's website (which is a piece of crap, by the way) just links to news articles (and out of date ones at that). So there is no way to get their message out to a public that relies on the service and is massively affected by the shutdown. Really. Bad. Idea.

So they're relying totally on the media to get out their message. Don't get me wrong - you need a smart media campaign as well as the direct methods of communication offered here on the interwebz. But a smart media campaign means a good spokesperson as well as clear and concise messaging. Our drivers, sadly, have the blustering, oafish André Cornellier and, apparently, no sense of what a clear and concise message might be. Now André has retreated to the back rooms for the most part, in favour of the ATU's International Vice-President, but the damage, really, has been done. The strikers have come across as unsympathetic, arrogant, and unwilling to negotiate. Not so good if the goal is to get the public on your side.

On the other side of the bargaining table, the Mayor has the city website and press offices, his own blog, and his pals over at CFRA to help spread his message. OC Transpo's management uses the OC Transpo website. That's a lot of spin for the drivers to overcome.

Despite the inadequacy of their communications tactics (such as they are), they have managed to put a rest to the notion that this is about money and put the focus squarely on the root of the conflict between the city and the union - scheduling. Or more specifically, the city's proposal to eliminate rights the drivers already have in their collective agreement. But they still need to take it one further step and explain why refusing concessions is so important - especially now that the city and OC Transpo management are claiming that this is all about safety.

Fortunately, a few rank and file drivers are making up for their leadership's shortcomings by posting over at the OC Transpo livejournal community. The forum has been around for a while, and drivers have always been active in it, making it a unique place for discussion of all things Transpo - no politicos, no wonks, just drivers and riders. The drivers who post there have been great at explaining the rationale for the strike, countering some of the anti-union stuff that people post and just generally putting their point of view out there. Take this post, which gives the union's position on the scheduling issue. Or this perspective from a senior driver (not edited for language and spelling):

As someone who was working at OC when the shooting happened, I remember KPMG reccomendations that basically told OC management that it's workers were working in a poison atmosphere and reccomended changes to improve our quality of life. At this time (the only time in 27 years of driving for OC), they actually implimented a few changes to make working conditions better. Since the city has taken over the reigns, the poison is back and back with a vengence. We are now managed by a whole bunch of bean counters that have no transportation experience. They have no idea what it takes to drive a bus in a safe and reliable manner. The only concern for them is the bottom line. People skills, forget it. If any of you think they care about you, the people who actually support the system, you again , are sadly mistaken.

Running times on our routes has been cut, deadhead time has been cut, cut enough that most trippers that work the afternoon rush cannot keep their schedules, even if they drive like assholes, they cannot keep time. This translates into late buses for the public, more stress for the drivers and a workforce that has no moral whatsoever. If any of you think this will change with the new booking procedures, again, you are sadly mistaken. By interlining routes, it only takes one small traffic jam to put your bus late. This will snowball all of the way through the shift making that paticular driver late on all of the next trips he is scheduled to drive. More stress on driver, more pissed off people waiting for a bus that will be late.

Now the city wants to take away our only perk, which is our right to choose the shifts we want, ( these shifts are put together by management on a morning and afternoon basis). As a senior operator, this will not affect me that much, but look at a young driver with a young family. Now he can choose morning and afternoon shifts that will allow him,( or her), to pick shifts that will give some time with family. The new system takes all of that away. No more overtime translates into more weekend work for junior men. 13 and a half hour spread during the week translates into less quality time with family. How can this improve working conditions?

I am still contributing to this forum because there seem to be a lot of level headed people here who honestly want to know the reasons why we are on the street. It sucks for everyone, but mark my words, just because you hear a few drivers on the radio wanting to vote for this new offer, they are a very small minority at OC. We will still vote down any offer that has this new style of booking in it, we have to.

We are sorry that you all are affected by this job action, but as I stated in an earlier post, at some point in time, we have to take care of ourselves as well. Hope it's all resolved soon. My Christmas is going to suck this year as well.

ATU 279 would do well to start giving their rank and file a hand in spreading the word and countering the Mayor's spin. Start by updating your website, willya?

Ottawa Police step over the line

Miss Vicky Mon Dec 15, 2008

Again. I offer up zoom's story without comment.

For now, anyway. I'm too disgusted to be polite.

Hintonburg Kringle and other announcements

Miss Vicky Thu Dec 11, 2008

Hintonburg's annual Kringle holiday celebration takes place on Friday, December 12 from 6-8pm at the Community Centre. It's a great (and FREE) kids' event, with arts and crafts, snacks and free photos with That Guy In The Red Suit.

Tuesday is the next Hintonburg Supper Club, this time at Les Grillades, 85 Holland Ave. Dinner is at 6:30; if you want to participate in this regular gathering of neighbourhood foodies, email
supper@hintonburg.com or call (613) 798-7987.

And if you're wandering the 'hood in search of unique treasures, don't forget to check out one of the many great art shows (featuring affordable small pieces) at the Cube, Cyclelogik, Wabi-Sabi and Patrick John Mills Gallery!


Write for Rights!

Miss Vicky Wed Dec 10, 2008

Today is the 60th International Human Rights Day. To mark the occasion, Amnesty is holding a massive letter-writing campaign. Find out how you can participate here or check out the Facebook group. Add your voice to the thousands of others writing for rights and justice today.

Budget Update!

Miss Vicky Mon Dec 8, 2008

So... hours after Miss Vicky posted the call-out for child care, she got a note from Jan Harder saying that the day care spaces and other services on the chopping block were spared, thanks to an omnibus motion. The Mayor, it seems, is not pleased. Check out the Citizen piece.

Update: Apparently the Mayor does not intend to let this go... so keep up the pressure on the councillors about maintaining city services, folks!

City Budget: Child Care still at risk

Miss Vicky Mon Dec 8, 2008

Miss Vicky received an alert this afternoon from the child care community. Apparently there is still a good chance that City Council will go ahead with the cuts to child care - that's 700 subsidized spaces, folks. That's a lot of families put at risk, not to mention the jobs of child care workers. Time to get on the horn and start calling councillors. Here's the email:

There is every indication that Council will pass the proposed cut of 700 subsidized child care spaces identified in the draft budget. We have between now and the end of this week to put pressure on those Councillors we think will not support keeping these spaces:

Those who we think support us: Alex Cullen, Clive Doucet, Diane Holmes, Georges Bedard, Christine Leadman, Marianne Wilkinson, Jacque Legendre, Michel Belmare, Peggy Feltmate, Peter Hume Diane Deans (11).

Those we think do not support us: Mayor O'Brien, Doug Thompson, Glenn Brooks, Gord Hunter, Steve Derouche, Shad Qadri, Eli El Chantiry, Rick Chiarelli, Rainer Bloess, Jan Harder, Rob Jellett, Bob Monet (12).

Not sure of support: Maria McRae (1)

We hope that you and your community, parents, family and friends will help us with a phone and email campaign. This cut to subsidized spaces is only the beginning of what could be some very difficult times for child care in the City of Ottawa. It seems the majority of Councillors and the Mayor do not truly value the role of early learning and child care for the health and well being of children and families or for our City. This is your chance to make a difference - please help us by making a call or sending an email.

Below is an emap that will help you to locate and contact your councilor and a sample/script for email or a phone call to your councilor

Use eMap to find out your Councillor and ward.

Sample email: I am writing to encourage you to vote against cutting 700 subsidized child care spaces. While I understand the province is shirking its responsibility in not fully funding its share of child care, the fact remains the children that will be hurt by this kind of a cut live in our City and you have a responsibility to them. I implore you not to put our youngest citizens in the middle of a fight with the province. Instead I urge you to work with the child care community and parents to make the province do the right thing and replace their portion of the cost for child care programs. Until we can do this I encourage you to come up with the additional 48 cents per household that would be required to save all 700 subsidized child care spaces. We are the adults and our children are expecting us to work on their behalf, not use them as pawns in a political fight. Let's work together to make the province assume its responsibility instead of abandoning our youngest residents just to make a point with the province. (Regards/Name)

Phone Script:
Hello my name is ____________________________ I am calling today to urge you to vote against the cut of 700 subsidized child care spaces identified in the 2009 Draft Budget. I instead am urging you to increase the property tax by 48 cents per household per month to avoid this cut and to protect child care services for low-income children. I hope that instead of cutting these spaces you will work with constituents like myself to put pressure on the provincial government to fully fund its share of child care costs. Thank you in advance for your support.


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