Common sense in Canada’s election?

On May 2nd, Canadians will once again head to the polls in the fifth federal election since 2000.

By all accounts, this was a pretty unnecessary election, coming at a time when the country is still struggling to get out of the recession and get back on the road to prosperity.

But there is something even scarier for me about this election; the rise of support for the NDP in polls across the country. Whether that support will actually translate into votes at the ballot box still remains to be seen, but the fact that Canadians would consider voting for a party that has no real experience running a country and one whose platform is clearly at odds with maintaining the state of our economy makes me wonder what people are thinking.

The fact is that both the Liberals and NDP have maintained that they will need to raise taxes in order to pay down the deficit and maintain social programs. Additionally, both parties have pledged to eliminate the planned corporate tax reduction, a promise that will very likely kill jobs and reduce growth in our economy.

By eliminating corporate tax reductions you reduce the revenue businesses bring in. Without that additional revenue, these businesses have less money to put towards hiring new staff, producing more products or expanding and building their companies.

Instead, both of these parties have pledged to eliminate the planned corporate tax cut and use that money, around six billion dollars, towards funding for other programs including some to spur job creation.

But what happens the following year?

Without reduced taxes, most of these businesses will continue to pay higher costs, not only through the current tax rate (if its maintained at the same rate, should either the NDP or Liberals succeed at taking control) but also through the rising costs of fuel which are impacting everyone’s bottom line.

This may cause some of these companies to reduce investing in the economy, some of them to leave Canada for greener pastures, and many of them to close, mostly likely small businesses with limited resources.

At least with the tax cut, these businesses can continue to operate and weather the higher fuel prices, at least until they stabilize and come back to normal.

The fact is that right now what Canada needs is to maintain growth in its business sector, so that jobs can continue to be created, people can continue to spend money on products and the economy can get past the recession and start rebuilding. Neither the NDP nor Liberals are offering or can deliver this to Canadians.

In one more day, we will find out which party will the chart the course of Canada’s economy; let’s hope that its a party that isn’t interested in shipwrecks.

(Photo taken from Elections Canada website)

Return from the abyss???

It’s been a long time since I have written anything on this blog; over two years to be exact.

I won’t bother telling you why I haven’t paid more attention to this forum, given that I find these types of posts end up becoming me making another broken promise to write more often.

What I will say is that it has been a busy and tumultous two years. A lot has changed since I started this blog and in fact, since I wrote my last post.

When I wrote my last post, my son had just turned one and my wife and I were dealing with his sleep issues. For those of you wondering how he’s doing: he’s fine.

Three years old and sleeping through the night, for the most part. Now if we  could just get him fully potty trained, I would consider that a complete victory.

However, my wife and I now have a new daughter. She is four months old and probably the cutest thing I have ever seen. Of course, I am biased, but still, I’m willing to take odds. 😉 That said, now it is her sleep issues we are dealing with.

Other than that, I am also looking for a new job. I was laid off in February due to a restructuring of my organization’s PR department. The lay off came at a pretty bad time, as my wife is currently on mat leave. Fortunately, we did plan for this type of situation and I have some leeway as I search for a new job.

However, I am still in a bit of a panic, since the goal isn’t to blow through all of our savings, before I find work. So, I have been on the hunt for a new job.

Therefore, if you are reading this blog, you’ll probably hear a lot of complaints as I go through the process of securing employment. (After all, does anyone really like the stress of job hunting?)

If you have any advice for me, feel free to comment. If you know of any jobs that are open, feel free to send them to me through this forum. Better yet, if you have an open position in your organization and want to hire me, you’ve got my full attention (something my wife can’t even get! 😉 )

Wish me luck!

No rest for the weary…

At about six months of age, my son caught a chest cold. That cold rapidly became a cough and then a chest infection. Though we were finally able to rid him of his illness with some antibiotics, my wife and I didn’t realize that his cold would affect our sleep and lives from then on.

You see, during my son’s illness he was unable to breathe because his sinuses were all congested. Consequently, he would wake up several times throughout the night. My wife and I, troubled to see our poor baby so unhappy and uncomfortable, took pity on him by rocking and soothing him back to sleep.

Six months later, we find ourselves still rocking him back to sleep. He got so used to waking up and expecting mom and dad to come and cuddle and soothe him, that he hasn’t been able to sleep since without us.

Don’t get me wrong; I love my son and have no problems with giving him lots of affection, but having to go in three to four times a night and spend 20 to 40 minutes trying to get him to fall back asleep pretty much sucks.

That’s partly why it’s also taken me so long to blog. After spending half of the night in my son’s room, who wants to come back and sit on a computer trying to think up something pithy to say? I’d rather just sit and watch a movie or go down for a rousing game of PS3. And that’s  only because by the time I get out of his room, my wife has decided to call the night a bust and go to sleep herself.

Anyways, as my son has come close to his first birthday, he has started to settle down a little more, though the night wakings and demands for a cuddle from dada still go on from time to time.

That said, though, the last couple of weeks have given me some hope that he is learning to sleep by himself.  Of course, I’m not going to count my chickens just yet, especially since he just caught another cold.

So, I’m going to keep my fingers crossed and hope that this next cold won’t set him back, cause if it does, it’ll be another three months before you get my next post.

If any of you out there are still reading this blog, wish me luck. Or better yet, if you have any tips on how to get him to sleep through the night, send them to me. I’ll love you forever.

Go Barack Go!

In a little over an hour, history will be made (well about an hour according to the time on my laptop; I still haven’t been able to get wordpress to show the correct time.)

In the United States, either an African American will take the reins of government, or a woman will become second in command.

Now, I have watched the American election with a lot of interest, not so much because of the impending changes its about to bring, but more because the events and characters in it have been more entertaining than the latest adventures of Britney and Kevin.

But despite all of the rhetoric and name calling, I have to admit that (like most of the world) I want to see Barack Obama become president. For me, that’s a big change, considering that my blood runs the deep blue of Alberta conservatism.

But, the U.S. really hasn’t prospered all that much under “Dubya” and the Republicans, so it really does seem like its time for someone new–and I really can’t see that doddering old fool McCain taking power and then probably just as quickly turning it over to power hungry (and apparently dumber than Dubya) Sarah Palin.

Let’s face it, not knowing who the PM of Canada is and thinking a porn video is actually an expose of you doesn’t make me want you running the most powerful country in the world.

But, there is still an hour left before we find out who takes over the White House and, as the 2004 elections taught us, anything can happen in the good ol’ U.S. of A.

This time around though, lets hope the good guys will triumph and that the Americans will look at the remains of their country and vote for change. After all, what did they gain over the last 8 years?

Go Barack Go!

Talk is Cheap … again

Talk is Cheap, the social media “unconference” first organized by former Centennial College CC&PR program director, Gary Schlee, is back. The unconference, which will be held on November 12 at Centennial’s Centre for Creative Communications will feature a variety of speakers, all talking about the latest trends in social media.

The first time Talk is Cheap was held back in 2007, I was a student in the CC&PR program. I, along with some of my fellow classmates, helped organize the event under Gary’s direction. Despite a limited budget, our relative inexperience with event management and a pretty short timeline, it turned out to be a bigger success than we expected.

More than 160 people came out to listen to over 20 presentations by other communicators and PR professionals about their experiences using social media in public relations.

Because I was helping out during the first conference, I didn’t get a chance to attend any of the seminars. This time around, however, I will make the most of this opportunity, listening to, and hopefully learning a lot about, how I can use social media to the advantage of my organization, Markham Stouffville Hospital.

I’ll also get a chance to see what the new CC&PR class is like and perhaps have the opportunity to hear what they have to say now that Gary has retired and no longer teaching.

So, for any of you looking to get some clear, sound and professional advice about how to use social media in your everyday work, I encourage you to attend Talk is Cheap 2.0. It will very likely be a fun, interesting and informative event as well as a great chance to meet other PR professionals in Toronto.

You can register for Talk is Cheap by heading to the wiki at this link and following the directions.

The missing link…

I finally finished–well almost finished–putting up my profile on Linked In, the networking website for professionals. I first created the profile in mid February as part of a school project.

Since then, it kind of fell off my things-to-do list, mainly due to a healthy amount of procrastination. The fact is, I was never sure what I wanted to put up on my profile. As a student, I couldn’t see the value of using the site to network, since I felt that most of my contacts would be other fellow students. As a communicator, I still felt like too much of a novice–even with all of the contacts I had developed through various projects–to start randomly adding everyone I knew.

What finally prompted me to complete my profile was realizing how important it is to maintain the ties I have developed in the field of communications, especially with my former classmates.

As I found out during a recent get-together with some of them, most of them are beginning to build their own career paths as communicators. By keeping in contact with them, I am able to learn from their experiences and improve my own knowledge, especially in social media and Web 2.0 which have become so vitally important to our industry.

So, six months, 10 days and 14 hours later (give or take a couple of weeks) Joe Chawla has finally made it onto Linked In. For those of you who have been waiting for me to accept your invitations to join and become your contact, my apologies. For those of you who I have recently sent invites to, hopefully it won’t take you six months to respond back to me.

But in case it does, don’t worry … my profile will still be waiting.

Welcome to the (PR) jungle…

Whoo hoo! I have found a job! Actually, in all honesty, I have had the job since about the start of August, but between my sister-in-law’s wedding and waiting for my contracts to come in the mail, I kind of held off writing about my newfound employment.

Now that I have crossed the t’s and dotted the i’s on my contract, I can tell you that I am now one of the new Public Relations Coordinators, handling Media Relations, for Markham Stouffville Hospital. I went for an interview with the organization in mid-July, did a follow-up in late July and was offered the job near the end of the month.

I start on August 25th and will be working with two other people in handling PR for the Hospital. For me, its a great job for several reasons:

1). Markham Stouffville Hospital is a fantastic organization that serves more than 300 thousand people who reside in the communities of Markham, Stouffville and Uxbridge, as well as some residents from the Scarborough and Durham regions.

2.) As an organization MSH’s vision is to “care for its communities through partnerships and the pursuit of excellence”  and its mission is “to make every experience with them great!” These are great values because they signify the committment the organization has to its communities, not to itself. Its easy to do media relations for an organization you respect.

3). Third, in handling media relations I can make use of my broadcasting background, which I hope will give me an edge in delivering great stories about the Hospital.

4). As a PR job its a great opportunity because it’s a full-time, permanent position which means I don’t have to worry in a year or two about finding a new job.

5). Finally, it’s ten minutes away from my home, which means I don’t have to get up an hour and a half in advance to ensure I have time to get to work!

So, I am looking forward to getting started with MSH and helping to spread the word about the organization, its vision and mission, and its work within its surrounding communities.

(P.S. I will still keep writing about some of my job hunting experiences and my time at Newmarket, however, as I am sure they can still provide some value to people who are still looking for a job or internship or getting started on the job hunt.)

My big phat Indian wedding…

My sister-in-law got married this past weekend. It was a pretty lavish affair with close to 500 people coming out to celebrate her marriage.

Prior to the big day however, there was tons of things going on in preparation for her nuptials. For the past week, my wife and I have helped setup and attend numerous traditional and religious ceremonies called pujas, celebratory dinners or get-togethers and various other events with family and friends. All in all, we’re pretty exhausted.

Most Indian weddings are like this. For my own wedding, the events began a week before our marriage with my wife having to go it alone at most of the religious and traditional ceremonies (I was still in Alberta until about 3 days before my wedding day.)

Then on the day of our wedding, I was up at the crack of dawn to start getting ready. My wife, on the other hand, had been up since 3:00 a.m. She had had to get her hair and makeup done and then get dressed in her traditional Indian wedding outfit, called a langa.

Our marriage alone took over 1.5 hours, with about 300 people packing our church to see us get married. Right after that we were whisked away to perform a few more traditional ceremonies (one called a doli which symbolizes my wife leaving her parents house for mine) before finally hitting our hotel.

Then my wife had her hair and makeup lady arrive at about 4:00 p.m. to get her ready for the reception. This also included changing into another langa, different from the morning one. From the hotel we went to take pictures and then arrived at the hall at about 7:30p.m. where close to 600 people had come out to help us celebrate.

But our day didn’t end there. We had booked our honeymoon flight for 6:00 a.m. the next morning, so we had to leave our reception, check out of our hotel and then hit the airport where we took a 14 hour flight to Aruba.

Altogether it was over 24 hours before we finally managed to get some sleep.

Though this likely wasn’t the same schedule my sister-in-law went through, I have no doubt that the various events, ceremonies and get-togethers that made it such an exhausting week for us, probably tired them out even more.

But it was all worth it. The wedding went off without a hitch, my sister-in-law looked beautiful and we partied hard enough to justify all the time, expense and exhaustion the wedding cost us. If any of you have any Indian friends who are getting married and you get an invite, I encourage you to attend. You won’t be disappointed.

Now I am going to go take another nap.

To Wii or not to Wii…

About two weeks ago, my wife and I bought a Nintendo Wii. Since then we’ve wavered back and forth on whether we should keep it or return it.

For me, I’m not much of a Nintendo fan. I haven’t been for a long time. Their policy of consistently introducing brand new console systems that were completely incompatible with older systems turned me off of them.

For example, I bought the NES–with my own money, I might add–when I was about 13. Five years later, I was again spending my hard earned dollars buying the SNES and its games when they suddenly introduced the N64.

As a teenager who didn’t have a lot of money, it angered me that each time I had finally earned enough to buy one system and some of its overpriced games, Nintendo introduced another system which rendered the one I had just bought obsolete. So, I haven’t put any more dollars into Nintendo since the SNES.

For my wife, though, she’s just not much of a video game person.

She first played the Wii at her sister’s place and loved it. She liked the exercise aspect of the system (Play a round of Wii boxing with her and you’ll know what I mean.)

But she’s also happy just playing the game which comes with the Wii and not buying another one … ever. That means I either go crazy playing just Wii Sports, or I buy some new games and forget about playing them with her (which kind of renders my reasons for buying the Wii–spending time with her–useless.)

The other major issue I have with the Wii is that it just doesn’t stack up to the other console systems on the market when it comes to game quality or performance. I have played games like Medal of Honor and quite honestly, the control scheme and graphics suck.

At the same time though, the Wii does offer a pretty wide group appeal to almost everyone who plays it, which is something that most console systems can’t replicate.

So, now I’m trying to figure out, metaphorically speaking, if I should Wii or not Wii. Should I keep the system … or send it back. What do you guys think?  Give me your thoughts. (Rick, I totally expect to hear from you on this.)

(Update – I know I just posted this blog today, but it’s amazing what kind of information can come up through wordpress related to the topic you just wrote on. This article, Nintendo Gamers Were Bored Before Wii, is a perfect example of when a console maker gets a little to big for its britches.

For those of you not interested in reading the article, the gist is that Nintendo basically believes their Wii revitalized the gaming industry and helped gamers shed their “boredom” with standard consoles. Now here is what I have to say to Nintendo:

First, absolutely, sales of the Wii did very well compared to Microsoft’s XBOX and completely shattered the PS3, but at the end of the day, that was due more to the innovative gameplay and unique Wiimote controls. Once the interest in those die down–and trust me, they will–then what?

Second, its pretty common knowledge that no matter who you are and no matter what system you buy, you will eventually get bored of it. People in general have short attention spans, and gaming is no different than anything else in keeping us entertained for a short time.

Third, Nintendo needs to take a good hard look at the harsh realities of its system. Yes, the system is unique for its game style and control method, but

1. the games suck for the most part. The majority of them are dedicated to family style gaming and not to real gamers;

2. the graphics suck completely, no matter what game you play. I’m sorry, but pixellated, cartoony graphics died out with Dragon’s Lair.With the quality of the games coming out nowadays, Nintendo’s “Wii-eak” console power just doesn’t compare;

3. the controls suck if you are trying to play any game that works better with a gamepad or mouse and keyboard (the aforementioned Medal of Honor comes to mind); and finally

4. Consoles like the XBOX and PS3 may offer up standard fare for gamers, but they add to their value by providing add-ons like DVD players, Blue Ray, WIFI, etc. Nintendo’s console gives gamers no additional bang for their buck, so when the novelty of the Wii wears off then what?

I know I’m not a fan of Nintendo, so my criticism likely comes off biased, but in the end, Nintendo shouldn’t fool themselves into thinking their system is the Holy Grail for gamers. Rather, its just one more toy to play with until the next best thing comes out. At least with the PS3 and XBOX, they give gamers other features to keep them coming back, even if its not to play a game. Anyways, thanks Nintendo, you helped me make up my mind. I’m going to go get my $400 back.)

No spam please!

Wow, three posts in about a week. Definitely a first for me. Well, this post is more of an update for my readers. A while back I changed the settings on my blog because I was getting weird comments posted to it from even weirder emails/people/sources.

Turns out I was being spammed up the wazoo; and even worse than that, the spam was linking my name to material on the internet that I really don’t want to be linked to. (Think pornography)

Anyways, to get rid of it, I changed the settings to force people who wanted to leave a comment to log in. Not the best way to encourage readers to respond. Anyways, just wanted to let everyone know that’s changed and that I will continue to monitor my blog, and comments, to ensure I don’t get anymore spam.

Oh, and if you do happen to see my name linked to something inappropriate, please give me the benefit of the doubt before casting me off into pervertsville. Thanks!