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

Saturday, October 10, 2015


GGCLC 2015 ...

When I was invited to apply for a spot on the 2015 Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference, I must admit that my conception of the experience was limited to having read several articles in national periodicals and a few firsthand accounts of the experience from several acquaintances. It certainly seemed to be an excellent opportunity to learn more about our country and expand on my own leadership practice. There also seemed to be elements of the experience that resembled an endurance race, conjuring up ideas in my head of a political version of “tuff mudder”. Having been fortunate enough to be selected (along with 224 others) from a countrywide competition of over 4000 applicants, I experienced this uniquely Canadian leadership challenge this past spring and I can say with confidence,  the experience greatly exceeded my expectations.

Beginning in St Johns, Newfoundland, The group first assembled at the Sheraton for 3 days of plenary sessions and lectures by notable Canadians such as Col. Chris Hadfield-Astronaut, Dominic Barton - Global Executive Director for Mckinsey Institute, Heather Monroe-Bloom - Principal of McMaster University and Wab Kinew- First Nations Teacher/Musician/Broadcaster. The theme of the 2015 Conference was Leadership and Innovation. The study tour, which lasted 17 days, spanned the entire country in scope and ended with 3 final days of report preparation and delivery in the nation’s capital. Sixteen teams covered each province and territory with the mission of finding out how Canadians are innovating to keep our country competitive in an increasingly connected and globalized world. As we set out to crisscross the country, we were charged with reporting back to His Excellency, The Governor General- David Johnston on where we were winning and how we thought Canada could improve. This was no small task and we knew it.

Our team (Ontario-2) was comprised of many different personalities from all across Canada. This diversity afforded us much opportunity for lively debate and some uniquely Canadian humor. We travelled with a military escort by plane, bus, street car, taxi and by foot – across Southern Ontario. She (Lt. Carrie Topping, DND) was our guide through the maze of speed-date like meetings we would encounter. Toronto was home to many of our stops, however we did venture throughout the golden horseshoe visiting 13 different cities. We attended over 45 different sites throughout the tour that varied widely in terms of their mission and raison d’etre. From corporations to idea labs, hospitals and homeless shelters, universities and community gardens to factories and boardrooms- they all constituted a rich playground for the exchange of ideas, debate and curiosity. Although I now know more about Canada than I did before, I am more curious than I am certain about what I still need to know about my own Canadian life. 

When the travel portion of the tour finally came to an end, our team was physically, emotionally and mentally exhausted. We averaged only 5-6 hours of sleep per night for two weeks straight. Sleeping on the bus was not uncommon as we traversed from city to city. Opportunities to call home or “plug-in” to work by remote access were limited to almost nil. Each night after reaching our newest destination, we finished our day by reflecting on our experiences as a group and making notes from the day in preparation for the assembling of our presentation to the GG. Needless to say, we were all far removed from our comfort zones and for those who were ready to learn and examine their own beliefs about what it means to be Canadian – the moment was ripe with opportunity for personal growth. We were regularly encouraged by our two fearless leaders (Greg Wright and Laurel Garven) to explore the differing viewpoints presented and to try and understand the why behind them.
Upon arrival in Ottawa we were given only three days to complete our presentation which was based on consensus decision making about content and format. With sixteen very different people, all with unique world views contributing to this effort – the experience looked quite different in many ways to all of us. We were able though to find some very common themes on our journey. The process of working through the assembling of our presentation was at times stressful, but the finished product was something we were all very proud of and confident in its relevance to our mission.

The presentations took place at the Canadian Museum of History in Ottawa over a period of two days -in front of an audience of about 300 people. Some groups sang their presentations; some gave theatrical performances and others simply gave a report on what they saw along their journey of discovery. Over the course of two days, each of the groups was given opportunity by the GG himself to defend their position once their report was given. His Excellency’s questions were pointed and went straight to the substance of the issues raised. His inquiries were seeking solutions to the challenges we brought to the fore and it was like no other test I had experienced before. You either knew your material cold and could speak intelligently on the topic you were raising - or you failed on a national stage in front of 225 future leaders of this country. This gave new meaning to the phrase “Stand and deliver” for me. His Excellency was impacted by our presentation such that he sought out our Ontario-2 group on day 2 of presentations to have lunch with us and ask a few more questions about our tour. This was of course a welcome surprise and perceived as somewhat of a reassurance that we hadn't missed the mark in our presentation.

Once it was all over and we had said our goodbyes, still missing home and the calming voice of my lovely wife Jeanne - I still chose to spend one extra day in Ottawa to just reflect upon the experience and really digest what this conference had meant for me on a personal level and better understand what I had learned. I also took the opportunity to connect with a classmate and good friend of mine from grad school and bounced ideas and observations off of him over lunch as we lazed around downtown Ottawa on a sunny but quiet Sunday afternoon. He reminded me of a key question one of our Profs (Dr. Stephen Long) at Royal Roads had repeatedly drummed into our heads during the perilous times of the financial meltdown in 2008 and that is, “So what?". Not so what as in who cares, but so what as in – so what does this mean and what have you learned? It is through this lens that I chose to frame my experience on the GGCLC.

So what did I learn? First and foremost, I learned that Canada is not just a country; it is a dream for many people around the world. As a native born Canadian this thought had rarely ever entered my mind, but it was driven home by the GG himself when he recounted a conversation with a university president from Sweden in his closing speech who stated that, “Millions of people go to bed every night around this world, dreaming about becoming Canadians. Yet, as great of a country as we are here in Sweden, you just don’t hear people saying that about us”. What we represent to the rest of the world as an advanced democracy (in spite of all of our flaws), is the hope that a population of 35 million people from diverse backgrounds, origins and ideas can peacefully and prosperously co-exist and freely pursue our individual dreams. Quite simply, our shared goals and values are what bind us together as a society and it is our differences that make us interesting.

 I also learned that we still have a long way to go in our journey as a country. Justice Sinclair’s Truth and Reconciliation Report was delivered to parliament on the week of our arrival in Ottawa and it was sobering to say the least. It made me realize that even though we welcome new Canadians from around the world to our nation daily (and we invite them to bring their cultures with them), we have a history with our own First Nation’s people that deprived them of their own culture and that account is yet to be reconciled. In my view, how we undertake to settle this historical injustice (in this generation) and move forward, will be the seminal test of our greatness as a nation. 

In closing, the overarching theme of Innovation and its necessity in modern times showed up at almost every stop we made during the tour. Whether it be advances in medicine, social policy or technological advancement and big data – the message was clear; societies that do not invest in innovation will fall behind those who do. It was clear to all of us that as leaders, it is our role to guide the innovation process in our communities, our homes and our workplaces.  This means embracing change in all of its complexity and helping to shape a better future ahead for the next generation of Canadians. Built on a platform of respectful dialogue, the mutual appreciation of our differences – actually brings us closer together as we collectively solve our societal problems and advance our shared Canadian experience.

Finally, I want to thank my GGCLC peers, all of the alumni who volunteered their time and especially my Ontario 2 teammates for their passionate participation and friendship throughout this amazing journey. We learned as much from each other as we did our hosts along the way. I also want to thank my employer Kootenay Savings for sponsoring me to attend this incredible learning adventure and most importantly my wife Jeanne for her unwavering love and support throughout this entire process.
I look forward to connecting with our Ontario 2 Team and Conference Alumni over the years to come and giving back to this uniquely Canadian experience as the opportunity may arise.

Kevin Jolly
The Jolly Blogger

*Photo taken at Rideau Hall, - Ottawa, Ont. June 4,2015




Sunday, April 12, 2015

Get Smart … or be left behind.

During the winter this year, I spent a significant amount of time researching developments in technology and the impacts those advancements are having on our society. In all realms of human activity from medical science to how we work, communicate and produce - technology is changing and will continue to change our patterns of behavior. One consistent theme woven through most of these articles or news stories has been humanity’s increasing reliance upon technology for our very existence. Developed nations have embraced technological advancements, to the point where we have great difficulty conducting our day to day lives without them. Imagine a week without your smart-phone or tablet by your side?

Modern communication (email, texting and messaging) is now prolific to a point of being a daily task that is never really “complete”. Large retailers are closing nationwide due to on-line shopping and other consumer trends. Future Shop is the best recent example. Social networks are now considered primary sources of news and in many ways - they have replaced the real life interaction of service groups and clubs that people would previously join. The average Canadian no longer hand writes anything other than their signature or a to-do list. These are fundamental shifts in human interaction that are changing the way we live. Most of these shifts have been for the greater good, some have produced negative consequences that were unintended. For those who choose not to or simply cannot keep up with these shifts – everyday life becomes more challenging to navigate. When translated into the realm of work and productivity, it becomes increasingly more difficult for those who are not tech savvy to earn wages that support a "middle class" lifestyle. The cost of living continues to rise as non-skilled wages decline and everyday necessities become harder for the under-employed to obtain. This lack of adaptation could result in an entirely new societal class born out of a form of techno-serfdom.

If you take nothing else away from this entry, please just consider the following questions:
1. What will the future of employment be like in 10 years for those who are not technologically literate?

2. What will my non-work life look like if I resist the systems that the rest of society is using?

3. What skills do I need to be productive in a society that is valuing consumption less, conservation more and knowledge as currency?

I asked myself these questions and while the answers were unsettling, the solutions on a personal level are even more elusive. How do we prepare for the jobs of the future that have not even been created yet? My personal solution is that I have resolved to be a life-time learner. Not only because it is a fulfilling pursuit, but because I am of the firm belief that it is becoming a requirement for 21st century living. Those who are not open to personal growth and cling to the “Norman Rockwell” comfy ideals of the past may find themselves as a casualty of the technology revolution. When society no longer values certain types of work, the market wages for that work begins to decline as an oversupply of workers fills the job market. We are seeing this happen in the US right now and to some degree Canada. This is the thin end of the wedge in my opinion as robotics advance and the methods of production and retail change to “self-made” products. In five years you won’t be ordering your products online from Amazon and have them delivered by drones (currently being tested in BC), you will simply buy the design or pattern online and your 3D printer will build it on your kitchen table. This type of advancement alone will radically change the factories of the world, causing immense problems for countries like China and Mexico.

What happens then when this mass of unskilled workers cannot find jobs? Some will seek refuge by moving to another location to find work. I think we can all say that we know someone who has sought opportunity and prosperity in the northern oilfields of Alberta. What will they do now if oil prices remain stagnant? Where will they go? What if California’s increasingly severe drought begins to push workers north in search of employment? I know these thoughts are not necessarily causal to each other but they are relevant to each other in that they contribute to an increasingly more competitive job market with fewer places for the unskilled. Technological skill will rule the job market as society continues to automate and our lives are increasingly managed more by applications than human interactions. The societal imperative then becomes one of increasing the collective knowledge of our population at a rate that matches the pace of innovation in technology. On a personal level, the only way to keep pace is to constantly seek new knowledge, however you can. Look forward, not backward to a time when life was easier. Find a way to create value for others with your ideas. Learn to problem solve and think critically in your current job and you will at least be in the game as the wave of change continues.

No one can accurately predict the future but we can see the trends that are emerging and proactively respond. We need to accept that change is the only constant in modern life and not fight it. Only then can we begin to adapt and evolve to the best of our natural abilities and limitations, because we truly are now living in Huxley’s Brave New World – or at least a kinder and gentler version of it known as the “Knowledge Economy”.
My mantra for dealing with this rapid change remains – “Get smart … or be left behind”.
Don’t be the modern equivalent of that person who never figured out how to set the clock on their VCR.

Kevin Jolly


Sunday, March 8, 2015

Progress & Punditry …

It’s been a while since I have put pen to paper or digit to keyboard if you will. It has certainly not been for lack of substance to write about, the early pace of this council term has in fact been quite brisk. Workloads are certainly substantial and our council group is going through the natural process of getting to know each other and how we each work as budget season provides us our first test of collective will. I am happy to report that the budgeting process is going very well. Council is working collaboratively together on common priorities to establish spending levels and this will be further reviewed at our strategic planning session set for mid-March. A common goal was agreed upon to keep any annual taxation lift in line with inflation and so far this seems imminently doable, although final figures are still a few months out.  Council decisions are being released after each meeting in a summarized format via Facebook and the City’s website which seems to be quite popular with the public and the pundits alike.

On that note, a few words about punditry and context. For the most part we have a typical media presence in our little valley with all distribution channels represented; TV, radio, online journals and of course print. We are quite lucky to still have a daily paper in our area I might add, as many other communities our size does not. Each of these media outlets works with different deadlines, formats and goals. The prime objective for all of them would have to be to accurately report the news as they see it and to also report it in a timely fashion. This is where things can get a bit tricky. The constant battle for column inches, air time and the sheer volume of information available to report necessitates that the omission of information must happen in order to make deadlines and get the “scoop” published and into the hands of the people. This is no small feat and I have nothing but admiration for those who make up the essential function of the fifth estate. They are the check and the balance against the misuse of power. The power to question - is ultimately yours, but stewarded and cared for by the press. It informs the process and enables our democracy. I would argue that today we have a reasonably balanced and respectful core of media in our region. The editorial page however is a different thing.
 To my larger point. The editorial pages as we all know exist for the expression of public opinion. There is no worse a feeling as a citizen than to have your well thought out and carefully worded masterpiece edited down to a mere shadow of its former heft. This also must happen due to space constraints. The one thing however that the editorial section does provide  -is an opportunity to respond. What matters most is that the opportunity to rebut always remains. Albeit a few days after the fact. An alternate viewpoint or some corrected information still matters. The challenge with this though is that sometimes the damage is done by the time the counter-point makes it to the reader. This is why I prefer blogging; I am my own writer, editor and publisher. Column inches are digital. I can make more, as long as you care to take the time to read them, hence my typical 3 paragraph format. Present edition notwithstanding.

It is important to remember this; you will never have ALL of the information you wish to have, or perfect circumstances under which to form your opinion.Circumstances change rapidly and information moves almost instantly in a digital world. So the one final thought I wish to leave you with is this. Facts matter... a lot. Recognize opinion for what it is, someone else’s understanding of the version of the facts available to them at the time and informed by their own beliefs and attitudes. 
The late 4 term Senator from New York, Patrick Moynihan (D) described this idea quite well when he said,"Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts". And of course we all know what Mark Twain had to say about them, -
"Facts are stubborn, but statistics are more pliable".
Kevin Jolly

Wednesday, December 31, 2014


 Year End Wrap Up 2014 …

I believe it is fair to say the year 2014 was a year of transition and growth across our region and our country. With the recent changes in local government representation being the most obvious example, some other important shifts in our culture also took place, but may not be as obvious. From my vantage point, the big local story in 2014 was the great awakening of the electorate and their increased participation in not just elections, referendums etc… but community participation in general. The turnout at local markets, community events and election debates- along with other “hands on” activities was noticeably greater in 2014. The advancement of recently formed community  groups like “West Kootenay Women in Business", the "Glenmerry Residents Association" and the newly created in 2014 “Downtown Business Group” in Trail, are all examples of this shift. The common thread which is woven through the increased community participation  and the groups mentioned has been the driving force behind them; they are all citizen led. This level of citizen engagement is key to their ongoing success and local government should be supporting these initiatives across our region. While the residents of Greater Trail have always been known for their steadfast volunteerism, we have also just come through a period where our core group of volunteers has experienced somewhat of a renewal among its ranks. The recruitment of some fresh faces has afforded our longest serving community advocates a rest and in some cases, a well-deserved and hard-earned retirement. Their service to our greater community is truly appreciated.
Along with this renewal, some other changes will likely follow. Previously successful ventures and long standing institutions may pass away. Perhaps slowly, or in some cases they may just cease to exist as their supporters seek new ways of serving their community. This too can be a healthy change, as long as we view the passing away of the old as a graduation of sorts (not simply as loss) and welcome the new institutions with as much energy and enthusiasm as we had with their predecessors. One key driver in these changes is the ever increasing and proliferating advances in technology. As they occur, it brings with them social changes, across all strata of our society. Volunteerism is but one area. Changes in how we do business, how we educate ourselves and how we communicate are all results of changes in the technology we use to navigate our daily lives. 2014 brought us new ideas like the website Ed-X, an online education website that offers free university level courses to anyone who has an internet connection. Ideas such as this are game changers for a society. Leveling the playing field, by allowing those of modest means access to world class education at no cost, is a giant leap forward for our culture in my view. As we celebrate these leaps forward, we must also keep in mind that once again, advances such as this one, will have unintended consequences.
On a more somber and sobering note, the most significant event/tragedy of the year for all Canadians (in my view) would have to be the terrorist attack in Ottawa of October 22nd, which claimed the life of Cpl. Nathan Cirrillo, Canadian Forces. It brought home the very real fact that the now almost 14 year-old War on Terror is a fight that knows no boundaries. Not only was this heinous act unprovoked and executed in a cowardly fashion, it was carried out at a location that I, along with many other Canadians - would deem sacred, our National War Memorial. This total disregard for the normal conventions of war further highlighted the fact that the battlefield in such an asymmetrical war could very well be a parking lot in a suburb, or a busy shopping mall in downtown (any city) Canada. Although this act of terror was carried out by a lone mad man, we cannot ignore the fact that his actions were ideologically driven. We learned in the worst way possible on October 22nd, that such a battle must not only be fought differently, it must also be defended against differently than any of the other conflicts in our history as a nation. This again, has the potential to change everyday life for all of us. While the odds of any one Canadian being a victim of such an attack are a statistical anomaly in the extreme, the odds of such an event changing how we live - are much greater. One only needs to look back upon the tragic events of September 11, 2001 to see the type of cultural changes that can occur as a result. Although the two attacks are not comparable in scope, what they do have in common is that they both exposed fatal flaws in our defense mechanisms. Now we must examine these gaps and rectify them without delay. 

Still, I look to our collective future with great optimism. We as Canadians are in many ways the envy of the western world and are perhaps too humble to admit it. Certainly, we have our challenges to address, but we have much more to be proud of. Canada is consistently ranked in the top five countries to live in worldwide .The Economist magazine recently conducted a study on livability and 3 of the top 10 cities in this global ranking were Canadian; Vancouver, Toronto and Calgary. What does this all mean you ask? Well, I will conclude my annual diatribe with this question that answers yours.

In spite of the challenges this generation faces (as all generations before and aft - have and must), where else would you rather be?

Happy New Year!

Kevin Jolly