Claire Martin

Campaigning: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly – By Claire Martin

As many of you know, I ran as the Green Party of Canada candidate for North Vancouver in the last federal election. It was an incredible experience. I learned so much about our country, politics, the process of election campaigning and where my strengths could lie if I was elected.

I wanted to be the second no-bullshit MP in Canada – with (in my opinion) Elizabeth May being the first.

The promise I made to myself, to my campaign and most importantly to my constituents was that I would always be straightforward, hard working and honest. And that hasn’t changed.

So as a defeated-but-not-down former federal potential MP, I’d to like to pen this note to the morons out there that think defacing campaign material FOR ANY PARTY is an ok form of protest.


IT IS 100% NOT OK.

Campaigning is a very humbling yet rewarding way of reaching out to as many people as possible and asking “how’s your government working for you?” The answers are incredibly enlightening – and if you’re wise enough to really listen to folks – you get a true litmus on the state and soul of the community. You get to chat with everyday people on doorsteps, in shopping malls, heading home from work and on holiday. It is honestly a massive learning experience.

The most rewarding aspect is hearing from people who then say “You’ve got my vote, how can I show my support?”. The answer – during the writ period only – is “I’ll give you a sign for your lawn, or your window, or your balcony”.

It’s a visible, non-confrontational show of support.

Now, it’s not for everyone. Politics can a be a tricky subject in some households – and some chose to keep their choice private. And that too – is fine.

But when someone decides to put up a sign, that action should be respected.

Several candidates in North Vancouver have recently fallen foul to idiots out there that think defacing a sign is akin to saying “I don’t support you”, or “I don’t support this election” or whatever.

You know what – IT ISN’T.

As Jody Vance, Sarah Daniels and many of us ex-TV types will tell you – voting (and by that, I mean changing the establishment) comes by simply changing the channel. Nothing hurts a TV station/network more than falling audience numbers. And it is exactly the same in politics. Defacing a sign does little more than garner mediocre, momentary attention. Then it’s back to getting people to vote.

If you’re pissed off with the established political party in power, vote against it.

Change the channel. Don’t scrawl on the TV screen.

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Jody Vance

Bill O’Reilly – by Jody Vance


Getty Images: CBS Archive Photo

Anyone else missing David Letterman?  It’s hard to put into words how much I do.  He was my “must watch” daily.

You might assume that my motivation to write about my “Letterman Withdrawal” is Trump related, it’s not — as much as I’d love Dave to be going “no holds barred” on his nightly monologue about POTUS — today I’m missing Letterman because I’d love him to weigh in on Bill O’Reilly.

The O’Reilly Factor here (pun intended) is that the FOX News Host had been accused, by five women, of sexual harassment and – between himself personally and FOX News owner Rupert Murdoch – had paid out a reported $13m dollars in settlements.

O’Reilly kept his job.


When the story of these payouts were leaked, public outrage was significant. One woman, Wendy Walsh, a psychologist by trade and regular contributor on The O’Reilly Factor, accused the host of backtracking on a job offer after she declined to join him in his hotel suite after a dinner in 2013.

O’Reilly has denied all allegations, even while acknowledging millions in personal payouts, in the name of “protecting his family” from a media circus.  With 4 million nightly viewers, a ratings juggernaut, he didn’t blink.

O’Reilly kept his job.


Bill O’Reilly is known for his viewership of right-wing Americans who watch religiously and often believe everything he says as The Gospel.  If you’ve ever watched The O’Reilly Factor, you know that it’s anything but steeped in truth.  It’s a ratings beast and therefore a magnet for advertising money.

Enter the all-powerful advertising dollars.  A couple of weeks ago advertisers started to pull their sponsorship and spots from his show: Mercedes, BMW, Hyundai — Caldwell Banker, GlaxoSmithKline, Mitsubishi, Lexus, Bayer, and on and on.  To date more than 50 have bailed, good for them.  Proof that there is power in the ad dollar, clearly more power than a group of women accusing a famous “News” man of sexual harassment.

Early today we woke up to “several reports”, in The New York Times and from The BBC (among others), saying that “high level meetings were taking place today to plan his exit”.

O’Reilly’s lawyer, Marc Kasowitz has gone on record saying that this was all being driven by “far-left organizations bent on destroying O’Reilly for political and financial reasons”.

According to the BBC, 21st Century Fox (Fox News Parent Company) owner, Rupert Murdoch was “in favour of keeping Mr. O’Reilly in his post, while his son – James Murdoch who is the CEO of 21st CF wanted him gone.

Now the news has come down that he’s been forced out, fired.

Just released statement from 21st Century Fox:

“After a thorough and careful review of the allegations, the company and Bill O’Reilly have agreed that Bill O’Reilly will not be returning to the Fox News Channel.”

This isn’t the first scandal to hit FOX News, the top guy – Roger Ailes – was recently sacked due to his own scandal of the sexual harassment kind.  The man who built the Fox News conservative television empire lost his job.  How is it that Bill O’Reilly kept his for so long?

This is what’s really at issue.

David Letterman is by no means an angel (we all saw his mea culpa about the affair with the intern) but how he addressed his own indiscretions would certainly have given him carte blanche to throw down the facts, and hold O’Reilly’s feet to the fire.

Boy-oh-boy would I love to see Bill sit with Dave tonight.   Damn … I truly do have Letterman Withdrawl.

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Doug Murray

No Fixed Address – by Doug Murray

When I first read ‘The Four-Hour Workweek’ by Tim Ferriss, I was surprised to find much of the content strangely familiar. Don’t get me wrong. It’s a terrific book, and I highly recommend it. It gives you a completely different perspective on what your life can be, if you choose.

As I leafed through its pages, I discovered that I was already doing much of what Tim recommends. That is, living a different kind of life. One with more freedom and less work.

Let’s rewind.

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Adopt A Pet, Kristina Matisic

Adopt a Pet – by Kristina Matisic



I know, I’m a stunner, it’s hard to look away! I’m definitely a breed apart: with the teeth of a shih tzu, the front legs and long body of a basset hound, and the back legs of a beagle. What a combo! (I’m actually part Chiuhauhau and part Beagle, and almost six and a half years old.) 
My personality is a real mixed bag too. On the one hand, I’m an affectionate little snuggle bug who loves nothing more than kissing and cuddling with any human who’s handy. On the other hand, I can also be a bit of a diva and tend to almost stamp my feet if I don’t get what the attention I want and deserve! 
When I first came to the BC SPCA, I was a bit obese but since I’ve been in foster care, I’ve slimmed down quite a bit, though I still have a little way to go before reaching my ideal weight.  (Don’t we all, ladies?!) 
I also had a great deal of pain before, as my ears were badly infected.  After some medical attention, it’s getting a lot better.  But because I had to deal with this pain and people touching my ears to heal them, I’m super sensitive and have a profound dislike of having any painful area of my body touched. So, even though I’m super affectionate, it’s probably best if I don’t live with children, as they may not read my warning signs. 
I’m currently sharing a home with two other small dogs and two cats, and we all get along great, as long as we respect each other’s space.  So I’d do well with another wee pup about my size, or a dog-savvy cat, as long as they don’t get up in my business too much. 
If you do take me home, be prepared for stares: people love to check me out. Yes, I may be funny looking, but I’ll be sure to love you up and put a smile on your face every single day.  To meet me (and to see if you measure up to my standards!) please contact the SPCA today.
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Charlotte Phillips

Book Sold Separately – by Charlotte Phillips

“How Much is that Jesus in the Window?”

I actually asked a clerk this weird question today at the card store in a relatively new shopping area in my neighbourhood. She laughed, awkwardly, and blurted out, “Isn’t he cute? We’ve sold a lot of these today. He’s $14.99. See, right there on the little card that says he loves you. He comes with a book, too. Separately.”

I could barely contain myself at her earnest demeanor. I had to hold back my initial retort of, “Yes, I hear Jesus does have a Book.”

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Claire Martin

Cleanliness is next to … Happiness – by Claire Martin

Getty Images: Westend61

Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you that I’m a nutty neat freak! And to be quite honest, if they said just that, well, then they’re being quite kind.

Hello. My name is Claire Martin and I’m an obsessive-compulsive cleaner.

I have lost more than one relationship over my need to keep my floors gleaming.

One gentleman, in particular, stormed out with the words “.. and what’s with all the bloody floor-cleaning?? You could do surgery on your floors..” Personally, I was glad to see him go but also slightly bemused – he was a slob (by my standards) – and his parting jab felt, to me, like a back-handed compliment!

My flaws aside (word-play intended!!) I have often wondered why my desire to see things clean, neat and orderly exists.

As an educated, fairly well-balanced adult – I have thought long and hard about my enjoyment of cleaning (and I’m assuming that therein lies a subliminal need for therapy but let’s not go there right now!).

Needless to say, I find cleaning cathartic.

My cleaning usually involves a lot of physical work. Pulling out gear from closets, wiping down back walls and baseboards with soaps and sponges (sometimes even painting), putting everything back newly organized by colour, shape, size or season. I often reorganize furniture and I have (confessional moment here) even alphabetized a spice rack!

When all is said and done – I feel rested; complete; at one-with-the-world.

So here’s why I am a little at odds with my world right now: I’m moving. And everything I own is currently on a large, shabby (by my standards) truck heading into the BC Interior. I have actually enjoyed packing; my love of boxed orderliness was thoroughly sated. But I am now living out of a suitcase.

I have done this numerous times before – but for some reason – at this stage in my life, I find it completely disconcerting. I’m discombobulated.

So if you see me wandering around the streets of Vancouver looking vaguely lost – I’m not – but in a way – I am!

Here’s hoping everything arrives in one piece, to the correct address, on the right date and time – and I can start opening boxes and organizing. Here’s to the organization that awaits me at the other end of this adventure!


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Ed Watson

The Real Me – by Ed Watson

Getty Images: albert mollon

I had an epiphany tonight. It didn’t go down particularly well.

I was having a pleasant dinner at the local restaurant. It’s a place that’s always busy, and I’m not really sure why. The food is pretty good, but it’s not fancy or fantastic, and the restaurant’s décor is literally designed to look like the inside of a barn. I suppose it’s where many city people go when they want to have a meal in the country. I was sitting on a high-backed stool in front of beautiful piece of honey coloured Douglas Fir that’s been made into a bar. Above the bar is a valance with wine glasses hanging from it, not far from your head. It’s where they sit singles when it’s busy. Everyone else is spread out behind you at tables under the faux barn rafters. I don’t mind sitting at the bar as I can watch the hockey games and flirt with the servers. Except for tonight. Tonight there is some old guy sitting beside me who is doing a full frontal flirt with all the woman, and most of them are about a third his age. “You’re pathetic” I think, as the guy asks one of the servers about the significance of a crown she has tattooed on the back of her neck. She was making a drink for another customer and was trapped in front of him.

“She’s wearing a wedding ring and you’re OLD” I almost say out loud. But the server doesn’t seem to mind, and although I can’t make out what she’s saying, she appears to be telling him all about the tattoo. And she’s now smiling at him.

The old fellow is perhaps 60. He’s got a full head of completely gray hair that’s combed straight back. 20 years ago the hair probably started just above his eyes, now it begins much higher on his skull and that creates a pompadour effect. He has bushy eyebrows, a nose that’s somewhat aquiline and the skin around his eyes crinkles when he makes an amusing point, as he seems to be doing now as he leans over the bar towards the waitress and says something in a low conspiratorial tone. She laughs, and leaves, taking the cocktail she’s made over to another customer.

“Why don’t you hit on someone your own age, you lecherous old fart.” I think as I stuff a fork full of house salad into my mouth. I look over towards him and sneer, as I’m chomping on some arugula and lettuce.

Then it hit me.

It hit so hard and unexpectedly that I almost choked on my salad and nearly coughed a mouthful of greens all over the bar. It was a revelation as powerful and clear as anything I’ve ever experienced. I looked over to the old guy at the bar.

He is me.

He doesn’t look like me, but if he wasn’t here, I’d be the old guy flirting with the servers.

Like him, In many ways I behave and think in the same way I did in the early 1980’s. Since then I’ve known love and loss, family and fatherhood, a certain measure of celebrity, success and failure. But while experience has tempered and altered my disposition, for the most part I still think like a 25 year old. Except, my body has just entered into the undiscovered country of a sixth decade. So, I’m a 25 year old talking to you through the lips of a 60 year old. No wonder I sound so weird. I can talk the talk, but in practical terms but I’m walking the walk with a sore heel, planar fasciitis and the occasional drop toe that has me wondering if I’m developing ALS. But overall things still work. For the most part. A lot of the time. I’ll leave it at that.

At the restaurant I’ve managed to master my gag reflex and I’m now swallowing the mouthful of salad while staring at the guy next to me. It occurs to me that if he thinks the way he did when he was 25 he’s probably contemplating punching out the moron beside him (me) who’s been staring at him for the last 5 minutes.

And the server with the tattoo? She thinks like she’s still 25 too. (Although the art on her neck is at least that old, and she didn’t get it when she was 5.) She expects guys at the bar to flirt with her and has probably been serving long enough to know that flirting is harmless and it can be profitable.

To some extent we’re all young people trapped in older bodies. And we don’t know it.

The aging process takes place incrementally and our 25 year old minds don’t really notice the inexorable change. That’s why my father, shortly before he died, would sometimes get out of bed and say “What a beautiful morning. I think I’ll go for a run.” And he meant it. His body hadn’t run in 2 decades, but his mind was ready to go.

Perhaps our mental denial is what prevents us from going mad. We’re all headed for the same mortal destination. What happens then may be open to some conjecture but all of our days are numbered. As I’m pondering these esoteric and deep truths, the man beside me hands the server a wad of cash and says. “You keep it. I insist”. She thanks him, and he leaves.

I make a silent vow to start acting my age and begin focusing on being a good grandfather.

Just then the sever comes by to fill my water glass. I smile at her, while at the same time trying to prevent her from seeing a partially chewed mouthful of jambalaya.

“Bye the way” I say, quickly swallowing,

“You’re probably sick of hearing this question, but what’s the story behind that tattoo?”

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Jody Vance

Your Song, Your Playlist? – by Jody Vance

My 9 year old has discovered music, it’s the best! (thank you Santa for the iPod Shuffle)

Unlike the old days, when we would sit at the ready with pause/play/record depressed on the tape recorder and the radio on, he has unlimited options sitting before him on iTunes.

His first downloads were “Hey Jude” (The Beatles) and “Ahead By A Century” (The Tragically Hip) — I instantly felt good about my parenting skills with his choices.  Of course, being mother of the year, I introduced him to the clean versions of Eminem, Jay-Z and 50 Cent….(while impressing him and his bestie with the fact that I know all the words to the raps. cool mom) Continue Reading

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