Police brutality in Russia

Pussy Riot members whipped by police

I have not watched much of the Olympics. Partly, it’s a lack of interest but mostly it’s because I am not a TV watcher. If the Olympics did not happen, the world would carry on. As much as I admire the Olympic ideals, the event has strayed a tidy step from its roots.

That said, I don’t think anyone who takes an interest in the Olympics or does anything less than calling for a boycott of the Olympics can be so summarily categorized as a supporter of the Russian regime. You can enjoy and appreciate the Olympics while not supporting the behaviour we see in the video (see link above.) Polemics rarely settle issues and often start arguments.

The Olympics have brought a lot of attention on Russia. This plague of human rights abuses did not start in the run-up to the Olympics — it has been going on for years. The Olympics have shone a bright light of scrutiny on Russia. The picture is ugly to be sure, but awareness is the first step to a cure. The remedy will take a long time and I hope the suffering will be mitigated by some more progressive thinking.

Change — whenever it happens — would quite likely have taken much longer without the Olympics. For inspiration, look to South Africa. I remember thinking that Apartheid would never end there. With scrutiny and pressure from the international community, the seemingly impossible happened.

I admire the bravery of the protestors in Russia. Their courage is beyond compare.

Nova Scotia embraces red tide, elects Liberal government

New Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil

New Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil

Nova Scotia voters are strutting tonight like drunken revellers who feel like they are about to get lucky. I just hope that strut doesn’t turn into walk of shame in the next 4 years.

The Liberals have created high expectations, much like the NDP did in 2009, and they will be hard-pressed to meet them in this climate of cynicism. When only 56 per cent of voters turn out, that tells me that 44 per cent of the population thinks that there is so little difference between the parties that it doesn’t matter who gets elected. I would like to see a political party eschew the partisan barbs and start appealing to voters because they will make the right long-term decisions for the province, not short-term promises to get elected.

Can the Liberals govern differently than most governments in Nova Scotia have governed in the past? Should we expect different and will we get it?

The slate is clean. Prove yourselves.

Packed house on opening day

Photo by Devaan Ingraham / www.devaaningraham.com

Temptress! Sophia Smart (Fiona Kirkpatrick Parsons) turns on the charm and Richard Clod (Rob McIntyre) is sure it is against regulations in this scene from Department of Common Sense. Photo by Devaan Ingraham

As a playwright, your job is done before rehearsals begin and long before the curtain rises on a play. When it’s your first play, though, the work is never done. The cast of Department of Common Sense have put so much sweat and toil into this play that they deserve an audience to give them a little extra energy. That’s where my new role of producer comes into play because one of my responsibilities in that role is publicity.

We had great media coverage leading up to our first performance as part of the 23rd Atlantic Fringe Festival in Halifax, and I was delighted to see a packed house for the cast. It was a bit of a steam bath at DANSpace — one audience member quipped it would be great for hot yoga — but the cast persevered and delivered a great show that people enjoyed. It was hot, not as hot as the picture of Fiona Kirkpatrick Parsons (above), but still hot. Kudos to my friend Devaan Ingraham for this great production still.

We learned after the show that Stephen Cooke of The Chronicle Herald attended the play. I waited anxiously for the review — the first time a newspaper had reviewed my play — and I celebrated with a beer after I read this.

I think the cast, and our director Nick Jupp, should take another bow.

Department of Common Sense

DCS-production still-6

When I used to work in government, I would often joke about ridiculous ideas or policies needing to be vetted by the Department of Common Sense. No such department exists — unfortunately — except in my first play.

I took one of my favourite stories from my time in government and I turned it into a play. When I would go to parties and tell this story, people’s jaws would drop, but, as absurd as it was, they did believe it because governments and bureaucrats can do some pretty stupid things. Sometimes, it can be enough to make you want a stiff drink, like the character of Adele Courage above in a scene from the play.

I took that story and built a play around it. It’s a fictional tale of a straight-talking, tequila-sipping government minister who gets two whip-smart women on his staff to take on a persnickety bureaucrat in a battle of wills and wits.

It will make you shake your head in dismay, nod your head in understanding, or seethe with anger. It might make you do all three, but it is sure to make you laugh. We have a fabulous cast including Lianne Perry, Mark Adam, Fiona Kirkpatrick Parsons, Rob McIntyre, Neil Van Horne and Fiona MacKinnon. Nick Jupp did a great job as our director and had a hand in the development of the script when he acted as a dramaturge for me when I took part in the Theatre Arts Guild’s inaugural Playwrights’ Festival.

To learn more about my play, check out this link to the play’s blog or see our Facebook page.

It will be on stage for six shows during the 23rd Atlantic Fringe Festival. Check out the Atlantic Fringe and support local theatre. Hope you enjoy the show.

Are political attack ads the same as bullying?

Two thought-provoking columns (Dan Leger here and Chad Lucas here) and a cartoon today by Michael de Adder — all former colleagues — prompted a thought-provoking question from yet another former colleague.

Stephanie Domet, who is the host of CBC’s Mainstreet here in Halifax, sought the views of parents in Nova Scotia who have tried explaining to their kids the difference between political attack ads and bullying.

I haven’t tried to explain it to my youngest kids, but I think the difference is negligible or non-existent.

The difference as I see it is this. When you’re younger, you go to bed early and eat your vegetables because it’s the smart thing to do and your parents make you. If you have good parents, you don’t bully because they hold you accountable. Then, when you get older, you can stay up late and stop eating vegetables. Why? Because you’re a grown-up and nobody can make you do anything. You can also get away with this form of bullying — different, but in its very essence the same — because there is no one to hold you accountable. Or is there?

The electorate has to hold the people responsible for attack ads accountable. If you can’t do it directly, then make the people they’re designed to benefit pay the consequences.

I prefer my political arguments to be based on fact, not fear or hyperbole. I also like any characterizations of people that are based on quotes be done to fairly with the quote provided in context. This was not the case with the Justin Trudeau attack ads.

Conservative politicians would rightly cry foul if a journalist took one of their quotes out of context and by doing exactly that in their ads, they insult the intelligence of the electorate.

Hypocrisy, it seems, is to politicians as duct tape is to Red Green.