Sharing a laugh?

It just goes to show that there are always a number of ways to look at things. The news media have shown this photograph within articles describing a number of serious discussions between these 2 men. The assumption seems to be that every single moment, the Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper and the President of the United States of America, Barack Obama must be talking about serious and important topics.

I see it differently. To me, this looks like a photo of 2 men sharing a laugh. In fact, thinking about what kind of joke Stephen is telling Barack puts a smile on my face. And it appears that we adults need that very badly. Evidently, children laugh on average 300 times a day and grown ups only 20.

JIM WATSON, AFP/Getty Images

Laughter researcher Robert Provine said: “Laughter is a mechanism everyone has; laughter is part of universal human vocabulary. There are thousands of languages, hundreds of thousands of dialects, but everyone speaks laughter in pretty much the same way.”

Maybe the news media has chosen not to cover the reason for the laughter in this photo because they didn’t get the joke?

Municipal Elections

I’m not sure why I like these so much. The elected positions are quite low profile, really. But the impact of these officials has a much greater impact on our day-to-day life.

There is a young man who is running for a school trustee position whose platform is perfectly in line with what I think. Now that doesn’t happen everyday in politics!

His name is Paul Hillsdon and I knew he was young from his picture, but it turns out he is really young! Some would question how wise a vote is for someone who doesn’t have children and is not an educator. I would say that both of those qualifications tend to give people too narrow a view. As a parent, you tend to focus on the problems and issues as it relates to your children. As an educator, you focus on what plagues your classroom or school. This young man is asking us to think differently, creatively and with courage. That is a platform I wish more people could find a way to adopt.

I might even watch the returns on TV this time. Seeing the electoral process addressing very local and personal issues, must have been what it was like for our founding fathers so long ago. It is the cornerstone of our democracy that has maybe been lost somewhere along the way with advent of big business politics.

3 Heroes

I like it when, at a dinner party usually, someone will ask as we linger over coffee, who are your top 3 heroes and why?

I guess you could say this is my trifecta. But, this is not a horse race. And even if it was, I wouldn’t want to put these 3 in any kind of descending order. My order will be when I became aware of their work.

Louise Arbour 2011 Chatelaine Woman of the Year nominee

Louise Arbour

I have a tattered article pulled from a Chatelaine magazine from 2000, where she was given, “woman of the year”. This was near the end of her tenure as Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda working in The Hague. It was a fantastic article where the interviewer was given a quick glance into the very important work being done at that time. It was also a brief interlude where Ms. Arbour could grant interviews before she went back home to become a justice of the Supreme Court of Canada.

Ms. Arbour is an inspiration to me for a number of reasons. She is direct, means what she says and says what she means. That can rub some people the wrong way, but she seems to ignore those distractions and strongly pursue her work, confident in her purpose. She is very clear about who is right and who is wrong, I guess being a judge will do that. She has had the courage to make tough decisions.

She has since July 2009 served as President and CEO of the International Crisis Group.

Christine Lagarde official portrait 2011

Christine Madeleine Odette Lagarde

Truth be told, I only became aware of Ms. Lagarde when she became the managing director of the International Monetary Fund earlier this year. With the high-profile nature of this position, there was a great deal of media attention, so doing additional research was easy.

Ms. Lagarde held various ministerial posts in the French government, including Minister of Economic Affairs, Finances and Industry. Prior to that Minister of Agriculture and Fishing and Minister of Trade in the government of Dominique de Villepin. Lagarde was the first woman ever to become minister of Economic Affairs of a G8 economy, and is the first woman to ever head the IMF.

However, I came to discover that she was far more than her resume. Christine Lagarde believes that women in high places are essential. Men, left to themselves, will usually make a mess of things. The 2008 financial collapse was, at least in part, she says, (in an interview with The Independent in February), driven by the aggressive, greedy, testosterone-fuelled mood of male-dominated, hi-tech trading rooms. I think she speaks about women, not to put down men, but to show differences. A well-managed future world economy will clearly need a better balance in a number of areas, the gender split just being one of them.

Alison Redford

A few weeks ago, I was driving to work listening to “The Current” with Anna Maria Tremonti and her top story was the Premier-designate of Alberta, Canada. I was not really aware of the local politics in my home province, but was completely taken aback by her ideas and proposed changes for Alberta’s future. And to top it all off, her Mother died just a few days before she was to be sworn in. The program played a clip of her Dad congratulating her on behalf of both parents. Being a parent has made me so sappy, I shed a quick tear for her. (

A few points pulled from her website biography at

  • Throughout the 1990s, Alison worked as a technical advisor on constitutional and legal reform issues in Africa for the European Union, the Commonwealth Secretariat and both the Canadian and Australian governments. Her work in Africa focused on human rights litigation, education programs and policy reform initiatives.
  • In 2005, Alison was appointed by the Secretary-General of the United Nations as one of four International Election Commissioners to administer Afghanistan’s first parliamentary elections. She also served as an advisor to the Privy Council Office on Canada’s future involvement in Afghanistan.
  • Over the course of her career, Alison has also undertaken assignments in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Namibia, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and the Philippines. Before seeking elected office in Alberta, she managed a judicial training and legal reform project for the Ministry of Justice and the Supreme People’s Court in Vietnam.

While Ms. Redford represents the most favoured long time political party in Alberta, the last Premier to hold the job didn’t last very long, at least by Alberta standards. Time will tell how kindly Ms. Redford’s ideas will be received and supported, but she claims that Alberta is changing and she represents that shift. If that happens to be the case, I am excited to watch Alberta politics evolve.