More mixed nuts: Election debrief… Whoa…


Ha! So I blew my election predictions in every way possible: not only did the Conservative not form a minority but the NDP is not even close to be the official opposition. Some formidable parliamentarians fell to the anti-Harper sentiment, replaced by people who now have big shoes to fill. As defeated MP Paul Dewar said, there is no safe seat. But I’m still reeling from the sense that our Parliament will be diminished from the loss of the wrong people. My former boss and friend, Pierre Lemieux, a man of admirable strength and integrity, one who earned the trust and love of his constituents one intervention at a time since 2006, lost it all suddenly on Monday. I’m not one to lament the exercise of democracy, even when it doesn’t go my way. I’ve written enough polite letters  to people who thought it was all about them, in some gosh-forsaken corner or rural Canada; I’ve scrolled through enough Facebook statuses calling Canadians idiots for electing a Conservative majority the last time around to fall to the same excesses. Elections are a beautiful thing, period.

In no organized fashion, here are a few of my thoughts as we move into the next chapter of Canadian history.

And a 1. I’m not one to blame media bias for the electoral loss of the Conservatives. It was annoying enough when the defeated Liberals blamed their misfortune on Conservative campaign ads. All the major newspapers endorsed Prime Minister Harper as the best choice for Canada, to the Left’s great chagrin (and even some on the right). That said, the CBC’s giddiness toward the Liberal majority government is just a little unbecoming. Call me a realist but I never expected media to be unbiased: journalists are humans, with likes, dislikes and opinions. However, there is a certain finesse in peddling your wares in a way that at least appears balanced. Showing-off your red knickers on national radio and television is just coarse.

And a 2. Speaking of red boxers, the Public Servants who live and work in Ottawa had no love lost for their Prime Minister. Their organized strategic voting campaign and open support of the Liberals and — to a lesser extent — the NDP definitely had a powerful effect on the electoral make-up of the Ottawa area, who went from tri-colour to bright red. The Canadian Public Service is rife with with bullying, mental illness and absenteeism. It is also rife with highly skilled and highly competent men and women who came to their position through a rigorous process of promotions and contests. I have never been privy to any negotiations or backroom talks between the Conservative government and its Public Servants but it always seemed to me that — in very broad strokes inadequate for such large topic — our outgoing government was approaching the relationship with the bullying, absentee Public Service in mind, whereas the incoming Liberals approach it with the highly skilled and competent Public Servant in mind. Of course, both approaches are lacking, one for being too stern and paternalistic and the other for being too soft and coddling. The truth is that the driven, committed and public-service minded Public Servants suffer from the deadwood in the Public Service at least as much (if not more) as the taxpayers and service seekers do. The clerk responsible for my maternity leave with the twins made several mistakes that cost our family dearly, among other things putting me on maternity leave rather than short term disability when I went on bed rest and my sick days ran out. It forced me back to work when my twins were 10 months-old. While I was on maternity leave trying to straighten this shit out, my pay clerk was on a never-ending series of sick days, with no one responsible for her files. Call again Friday, maybe she’ll be there. I had to make several trips to the nearest Service Canada office to wait in line for hours with my 2-3 month-old twins to lodge a request to start my mat leave on the right day, which meant a retroactive redress calling for a administrative tribunal decision. This anecdote is not meant to pile-on Public Service employees. On the contrary, it’s to show that the people who have to cover for, redress and handle the mistakes of one colleague, presumably over and over again, also have an interest in a vibrant, productive and healthy public service. Whatever the solution to the issues with the Public Service is, it should involve the people on the inside, the hands and heads who are doing the work, interacting with colleagues and dealing with the fall-out of bullying, mental illness and absenteeism. I do hope that better labour relations between the Public Service and the government will in fact lead to a more constructive approach to Public Service reform. Although if the Ontario Liberals are any indication, as far as labour relations are concerned, the only thing being a Liberal guarantees is not being Conservative.

And a 3. The upheaval in the Conservative party brought-on by their electoral defeat has given way to an unusual candour from Conservative MPs and candidates with regard to their misfortune and what may have caused it. Over the Conservative’s three consecutive governments, much ink was spilled about the “gag order” or “muzzle” Prime Minister Harper and his PMO (Prime Minister’s Office) had presumably placed on its caucus and staff. My observation as a former staffer is that the great majority of Conservative Members and staff had a natural understanding of party discipline and didn’t need a muzzle or gag order to close ranks. The Conservatives, especially former members of the Canadian Alliance and Reform Party, have always enjoyed a confrontational rapport with the media. Get misinterpreted, quoted out of context and attributed a “hidden agenda” for long enough and you stop caring about the press. I myself ended-up on the front page of Le Devoir for attending a luncheon (paid out of my own pocket, attended on my own time) at the Parliamentary restaurant with a leadership figure from the Catholic Church, leading to suggestions of somber motives and machinations. When you get grilled aggressively by a journalist for answering the phone, you stop answering, know what I mean? All this to say, being freed from the requirements of party discipline has opened the door to candidates and staffers’ analysis of what went wrong and has been cathartic for me. When I left Pierre’s employment, I had long stopped identifying with the brand of conservatism sold by the Conservative party. As far back as the 2011 campaign, when I was campaign manager, I knew that strategically-speaking we had to avoid references to the Conservative Party and especially the leader of the Conservative Party when canvassing. We knew we could win on the strength of our candidate as long as the National Campaign didn’t screw-up too badly. We won that election handily but lost the last one in a blood bath: there was only so much ignoring our voters could handle. When I left my job, I told people that I felt loyalty towards my boss but that I couldn’t support the Conservative Party as it was and had been for a number of years. When I heard Lisa Raitt on the radio lament that the Conservatives were unable to appeal to women like her (which are, incidentally, women like me just with less children), it was like a breath of fresh air. Sentiments such as these were never expressed before, at least not in public. Defeated Finance Minister Joe Oliver said that he heard his constituents over and over again tell him how much they liked him but couldn’t support the leader of the party. I’m sure this is something that my boss’s canvassers heard over and over again in the last 6 weeks. When I was campaign manager, this type of feedback was not welcomed by the National Campaign. Same for the PMO when I was a staffer fielding hate mail from Conservative Party members (you know, those who *liked* us?) about attack ads. We were always told that they had the numbers, they had the polling, they had the donations to prove that they had it right. Just stay the course they would repeat. And maybe it was true at the time but with the gift of hindsight and my own experience, I now believe that I saw last Monday’s results coming like a train wreck in slow motion. Now that the Conservatives have received a stunning blow, I hope that something new emerges from the ashes of what used to be. I still hold firm to conservative ideals, which I believe are not mutually exclusive with intelligence, compassion and vision. I also believe in federalism, the Canadian Constitution and Parliamentary democracy. How nice would it be to have a federal Conservative Party that inspires rather than scold? Many have made hay of Justin Trudeau’s charisma but leadership is about more than steering the wheel: it’s also about giving people a reason to follow. We need to be inspired.

And a 4. Bets are now being registered to see which one of the Liberals’ lofty campaign promises — I’m not sure anyone expected to be held-up to it — are going to be shelved first. Income splitting was criticized for benefiting “wealthy families” who can afford to live off one salary. As one of Canada’s new “rich” — as defined by the Liberal platform — I would appreciate the break afforded by income splitting. Believe it or not, when you have 9 dependents, a 4% tax hike makes a difference in such luxuries as groceries and dental work. I would not bet the farm on the widespread legalization of pot coming anytime soon. I don’t think that the Liberals, even given their comfort level with deficit spending, will have quite enough money to borrow to make a dent in our infrastructure deficit. They’ll give it a good try but I don’t think it will come anywhere close to what voters are expecting. What are your bets?

And a 5. You know what? I’m actually happy we have a Liberal majority, in a way. I know that many people expressed the desire for a Liberal minority with NDP opposition to level it off. Believe me, a minority Parliament is not a healthy state in our Westminster system. It is stressful, unproductive and, because it leads to more frequent elections, costly. If Canadians wanted a Liberal government, let Canadians have a Liberal government and give it the opportunity to govern. This is Canada after all: where we have scrupulously fair elections, a functioning judicial system and just about every blessing a country an ask for.

In Rick Mercer’s words:

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Mixed Nuts: Election Day in Canada 2015


I started this post the day before the election and since I don’t have the luxury of writing as the results come in (because: bedtime) I decided to start writing Sunday night. The unfortunate colateral result is that I will be writing in light of the most recent polls as opposed to the results of the elections. If the last campaign is any indication, those will be wildly inacurate. Why?

Uno. The “Shy Tory Factor” is something that is consistently throwing pollsters out of whack. I think that this opinion piece from The Guardian is accurate and the source of much handwringing and hangover the day after conservative electoral victories. On Tuesday, before you clutter my Facebook feed with your outrage, remember that I told you so.

Dos. Three years ago, when the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) started cranking out attack ads aimed at Justin Trudeau (the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada — LPC), I was working on Parliament Hill as a writer for a local Member of Parliament. Attacks ads went after Justin Trudeau’s vacuity, lack of substance and absence of platform. As a writer, I had to write a lot of things that annoyed me, such as explaining politely to a variety of Mrs. Lalonde’s that her federal MP could not help her with her hydro bill, school bus issue or culvert. I regurgitated my Grade 5 Civics more times than I care to remember. Yet, nothing was quite as repulsive as having to reply to letters criticizing attack ads. I had to craft a reply that communicated our concerns about Justin Trudeau without wholeheatedly endorsing the more puerile aspects of the ads. Thankfully my boss was ok with it, I’m not sure how I would have dealt with having to write a cheerleading endorsement of the ads. All this to say, part of me is secretely jubilant that Justin Trudeau and his team were able to play these ads to their advantage. If it wasn’t for the part where they were so successful they might win the election, I’d be cheering for them. But my husband is packing us up and moving to Texas as I write so…

Tres. How did Justin Trudeau turn the attack ads around? It’s simple. All you have to do with attack ads is to not prove them right. The challenge is that attack ads are not made out of thin air, they are rooted in reality. The image of Stéphane Dion as a weak, dithering, out-of-touch professor came from somewhere. As did the image of Michael Ignatieff as an oppotunistic, temporary leader. Both former Liberal leaders walked right into the sterotypes the Conservative ad machine had made them out to be. Justin Trudeau defied them because he kept his cards very close to his chest. His absenteism record in the House of Common was notable but allowed him to duck more than a few potholes on the road to the campaign. His refusal to lay down a party platform ahead of the election campaign was also criticized by friends, foes and journalists alike. Yet, it gave no new ammunition to the attack ads machine, leaving it to work with Justin’s hair and Justin’s car and Justin’s former job as a drama teacher. Not only did the attack ads run out of steam and credibility, but Trudeau was able to prove them wrong. Which wasn’t hard at all.

Cuatro. Why wasn’t it hard? Because 3 years of attacking his credibility with almost nothing to go on has lowered the expectation of the public toward Trudeau to such an extent that he exceeded them just by showing-up with his pants on. (If the image of Justin Trudeau strolling on debate stage without his pants on just made your day my work here is done.)

Cinco. Faced with a negative campaign about Justin Trudeau based on image, Trudeau’s managers were able to duck most of the negative characterization of their leader by running a very tight and disciplined image campaign. It was so good, it was bad. Kelly McParland explains why in this piece. As a student of political campaigns, I can’t help but take notes. That said, if you expect elected Trudeau’s handlers to feed him freely to the Parliamentary Press Gallery,  you will be sorely disillusioned when you realize that Stephen Harper’s tight media access rules were just the warm-up. The Conservative learned partisan politics from the Chrétien Liberals.

Seis. Does this mean that Trudeau-for-Prime-Minister is a done deal? Well, by the time you read this piece, it might be. But for now, my call of a Conservative minority with a NDP opposition still stands. If you looked under the hood of elections statistics, you might be surprised to learn that many close campaigns are decided by the advance polls. It is enterily possible for a candidate to lose election night and be bolstered over the wall by advance polls results. The NDP and the Conservatives can boast of the best and brightest committed voters. The Liberal appeal is to the mushy middle, the same people who don’t vote on election day. We have seen unprecedented levels of voter participation at the advance polls and while it might point to a higher voting rate overall, my guess is that this was the result of Conservative and NDP campaigns ferrying their committed  voters to the advance polls. You know what they say about a bird in hand.

Siete. All this said, this has been an exciting election campaign and last minute swing voters might brave the cold and the waiting lines to cast their votes. I’m not sure the charm of Justin Trudeau’s inexperience will last long under the harsh light of reality. Minority governments, which is the best the Liberals can aspire to, are long, frustrating, and unproductive campaigns. Minority is not a healthy state in Canadian Parliamentary democracy.

Posting this before heading to the polls. It will be an exciting, nail-biting, evening and while worried about the spectre of a Liberal government I am also very curious to see if some dead wood will be replaced and how.

(If you wonder why I wrote my numbers in Spanish, it’s because WordPress kept indenting my numbers. Drove me nuts. I’m one of those old people who believe that machines should do strictly what they are told.)

 

 

 

Faits divers du vendredi un lundi matin


1 Une motion qui promettait de faire couler beaucoup d’encre. Chose promise, chose due. La motion 312 présentée à la Chambre des Communes par le député Stephen Woodworth demandait la création d’un comité parlementaire afin d’étudier si la définition d’« être humain » du Code criminel devrait être élargie afin d’inclure le fetus. Si vous lisez les journeaux et partuculièrement les média sociaux, vous pensez probablement que le vote de la semaine dernière était sur la criminalisation de l’avortement. En fait, la plupart de mes connections Facebook pensent que le vote de la semaine dernière était directement sur la criminalisation de l’avortement. Vous ne lirez pas cette mise-au-clair souvent mais en tant que juriste formée en bioéthique il m’importe que les débats et discussions publiques sur les enjeux de cette envergure soient définis de manière claire, précise et non-partisane. La motion 312, qui soit dit-en-passant n’a pas été acceptée, demandait une réflection sur la définition d’être humain dans le contexte du Code criminel canadien. La ministre du Statut de la femme qui a voté en faveur de la motion 312 n’a pas voté “contre l’avortement” tel que plusieurs le pensent mais en faveur d’une discussion publique sur la valeur éthique et légale du fetus. On peut avoir des opinions bien ancrées sur le sujet, mais ça ne devrait pas excuser les pires accès de démagogie et d’aveuglement volontaire. Vous êtes tous des adultes intelligents. Évidemment. Puisque vous lisez mon blogue, he, he.

2 Deux nouvelles qui m’incitent à vous donner un petit cour de procédure parlementaire et un coup d’oeuil dans le fonctionnemetn d’un bureau de député. La semaine dernière, le ministre de l’Immigration et de la citoyenneté Jason Kenney a fait la manchette lorsque son bureau a envoyé un courriel vantant le travail du gouvernement canadien dans l’avancement des droits des gais et lesbiennes sur la scène internationale. Le email en question, qui ciblait les gais et lesbiennes canadiens, a été mal reçu, les récipiendaires se demandant entre autre comment le gouvernement savait qu’ils étaient homosexuels. Ceci me ramène à la deuxième nouvelle qui était en fait la première, la motion 312 et les “pétitions” demandant à un député ou ministre de voter pour ou contre quelque chose, de faire ou de ne pas faire quelque chose, d’avancer ou d’ignorer une cause ou une autre. Lorsque vous signez une pétition en-ligne, ce que vous faites en réalité c’est envoyer une lettre formulaïque contenant votre nom et votre adresse email à un député, parfois le votre (si la “pétition” vous demande votre code postal), parfois les 308. Une véritable pétition doit être soumise à la Chambre par un député après avoir été aprouvée par le clerc des pétitions pour sa véracité et sa conformité. Lorsque vous signez une pétition en-ligne, vous envoyez votre nom et votre adresse ainsi qu’un polaroid de la cause qui vous tient à coeur à des politiciens qui sont toujours à la recherche d’un moyen de se faire connaître et d’établir un contact avec l’électorat. En d’autre mots, Jason Kenney sait que vous êtes gais et que les droits des gais vous tiennent à coeur car vous lui avez dit. Et il peut vous rejoindre car vous lui avez envoyé votre adresse courriel. La pétition que vous avez signé disait sans doute quelque chose comme “Cher Ministre Kenney, je suis gai et les droits des gais me tiennent à coeur. Voilà pourquoi… bla, bla, bla…” Vous ne vous en rapellez sans doute pas car comme 200% des gens qui envoient ce genre de lettre, vous ne l’avez pas lue.Voilà. C’est simple, non?

3 Trois jours par semaine, 5 heures par jour, c’est mon horaire de travail. C’est tout juste faisable avec une grande famille mais évidemment, on ne peut soudainement perdre 15 heures à sa semaine sans en subir les conséquences. Le pliage des vêtements propres semble être passé par la fenêtre. Ouch…

5 jours de lavage propre pour 10 personnes, ça ressemble à ça.

4 Quatre pattes, non les jumeaux ne marchent pas encore. Et c’est parfait comme ça! (Mais ce ne sera pas long).

5 Cinq  doigts bien hauts (“high five”) si vous vous êtes rendus à la fin de cet article malgré la mention d’un débat sur l’avortement et du Ministre de l’Immigration. Vous démontrez une maturité et une ouverture d’esprit notable.  Vous vous méritez une petite visite de relaxation sur You Tube pour aller rire des frasques de mon fils aîné:

Friday’s Mixed Nuts on a Saturday (scratch that, it’s Sunday)


… Because if it wasn’t late and half-baked, it would be worrisome. Gah…

1 One question Rest-of-Canadians should ask about the so-called “student unrest” in Quebec is not “Why are Quebeckers so upset over such an insignificant tuition fee increase?” but rather “Why is such an insignificant tuition fee increase causing so much upset?” Rest-of-Canadians should not underestimate Quebec’s frustration with its political class. While I have more than a few bones to pick with the Quebec protests — or at least the reasons underlying it — the fact that we still have enough humph to rise-up and protest incompetence and corruption in our political leaders gives me hope. I just wish that students would vote rather than try to fell a government from the street.

2 Two deranged killers, one thing in common: a predilection for the sewers of the Internet where one can find endless “real gore” and “real underage rape.” Many believe that porn and descriptions of sexually deviant behavior is a personal thing, victimless crimes. Until a little girl (or a Chinese student) finds herself in the wrong place at the wrong time the day the Internet no longer provides the required kick. Deviant is deviant.

3 (On a much lighter note) Three ways to wear a wig. June is “Dance Recital Month.” I used to call it “Set Your Hair on Fire Crazy Recital Month” but that was back in the days when I had three daughters in dance, in two different schools, and  none of them could do their own hair and make-up. Nowadays I have one daughter left in dance, she can do her own hair and make-up and only requires to be driven, although even that is in its dying days (counting. the. sleeps.) I took my two youngest daughters out of dance because of the oversexed undertones of the dancing culture. Think I’m making this up?

This is a dance practice outfit, sold with a straight face to children under 12
And here’s another one if you thought the first one was a fluke

My oldest daughter is doing Irish dancing where, thank goodness, it’s still mostly about the steps although I do have issues with the whole fake-hair thing. See, competitive Irish dancers are required to sport oodles of dangling ringlets. My daughter, being 1/4 Chinese, has the same bouncy ringlets traditionally seen on Chinese people… Yeah, so she wears a wig.

See? Isn’t she gorgeous?

The great thing about the wig is that it makes Awesome-Dress-Up props once the Irish dancer is done with it:

Aren’t I pretty?
See how it matches my natural hair color?
Here mom, try it!!

Just sayin’


I am lucky enough to have a wide variety of Facebook friends yielding a wide variety of status updates. I’m an easy going kind of girl. I don’t preach on Facebook, I’m more the kind who plays well with others. I use my Facebook page as my own little joke with mixed results. I come across as a bit of a clown. Which is fine until I post an update about spearmint toilet cleaner making my toilet smell like it
just went to the dentist at the same time a friend posts a very moving tribute to Holocaust victims. Both posts appear side-by-side and I look like an idiot. I avoid getting into debate or heated exchanges on Facebook because the format leads too easily to misinterpretation. It’s like email on steroids. Everybody doesn’t share my good Facebook manners unfortunately. Recently, I have been submitted to a few rants on Quebec’s protesting students. I have so far kept my resolve to remain uninvolved but please allow me to use my own little piece of Internet real estate to vent a little. I won’t cross post this entry on my Facebook page…

The province of Quebec has been in the throws of massive student protest for the last month or two (or three) in response to a government proposal to increase tuition fees by 75% over 5 years. Quebec students pay the lowest tuition fees in Canada thanks to generous subsidies from the Quebec government. Even after the tuition hike, Quebec students will only pay 17% of the value of their post-secondary education. I don’t think I’m going on too much of a limb by saying that the province of Quebec is heavily indebted and badly governed. Whereas choice among political parties span the left-right continuum in the rest of Canada, in Quebec you choose between independentist and federalist options. If you feel, as most Quebecquers do, that the federalist party needs a time-out, your only option is to vote for the independentist party. 40-odd year of sovereignty politics has left good governance in the province of Quebec in shambles, assuming it was good to start with (it wasn’t).

As I was explaining to my oldest daughter, Quebec students are well within their rights to protest the fee increase. Quebec residents may have the lowest tuition fees in the land, they also pay the highest taxes. Sure it spends more than it rakes in but I have some sympathy for those who balk at getting less bang for the same fiscal buck.

On the other hand, no matter how much wishful thinking you can squeeze, there is no such thing as a free lunch. Whether your high income tax is paying for services you are getting today or for those your parents got on credit over the last 40 years, a day of reckoning is unavoidable. You may feel it’s unfair but the money spent by your parents was also spent on you. I have great memories of growing-up attending free nature walks, free museum visits, learn in classes with 15 children and so forth. And every time I cut a $800 monthly cheque to my daycare provider, I have a moment of wistfulness for $5 $7-a-day daycare. But you can afford it or or you can’t. The Quebec government (along just every Western democracy) couldn’t.

I believe that there is room for government support of higher education as long as the numbers add up. The argument that the state has a duty to fund higher education because it leads to higher earnings leading to higher tax revenues sounds good in theory but look where it got Quebec. In spite of massive government investments in education and learning since the 70’s, it still spends way more than its highly educated citizens pay in taxes. What is lacking then from the debate on tuition fees is not arguments in favour of higher education — by now we know what they are — but a debate on the realignment of Quebec’s spending priorities. For once, I’d like to hear students chant about what they would like the government to cut in favour of funding their post-secondary education. Give it your best shot: there is plenty of inefficiencies, face-palms and head-desks in the Quebec spending portfolio. Daycares? Pensions? Healthcare? All of the above? Why not raise your parents’ taxes?

Which brings me back to my Facebook friends. If you want to post status updates about the egregiousness of raising tuition fees from lowest to lower, you should make sure that your updates are grammatically correct and do not contain too many spelling mistakes. Because it makes you look like you need a better education not a cheaper one.

Just sayin’

I haven’t worked a day in my life


Yesterday I received a call from someone at Sun News Network asking if I would give a short interview on why being a stay-at-home mom is hard work. It was to be in response to some comment made by someone about Ann Romney, the wife of Republican leadership hopeful Mitt Romney. Ann Romney stayed home to raise her five sons and all she got was this lousy t-shirt saying “I haven’t worked a day in my life”… or at least, that’s what the Democrat woman who should not be thought, perceived or otherwise considered to be tied to Barack Obama’s reelection campaign said.

In the end, the interview did not happen. The producer decided to go with the “opposite point” which I think means a stay-at-home mom who will give an interview about how she hasn’t worked a day in her life. Or maybe a working mom who thinks she has it harder than Ann Romney. Fair enough.

I found that quite funny because I am, to most people, “the opposite point.” I am on maternity leave which makes me both a working mom and a stay-at-home mom. But even on a more stricter understanding, I have seen both sides of the work-home balance. To most, I am an odd animal. Too stay-at-home for the working crowd, too working mom for the stay-at-home crowd. In the Mommy Wars, I am foe to all (although I prefer to think of myself as friend to everyone).

That whole episode about whether stay-at-home moms do real work made me laugh because when you talk to women who prefer to work outside the home, they will usually say that they need to remain engaged, stimulated, they need the challenge of work to avoid turning to mush. I stayed at home for 10 years while having my first four children. Then I went back to law school to get a Master’s degree and went to work after graduating. Now I am on maternity leave with three little ones under 3. I’m not convinced that work is a challenge compared to raising children at home. As I wrote to a Facebook friend who commented on the issue:

I used to look forward to the end of my mat leave* so I could get (a) more money, and (b) a lunch break. I guess I must have missed something.

(* I’m not looking forward to the end of my mat leave, it was just for effect.)

All mothers work hard, whether they work at home with their little ones or outside the home. What is often missed by the critics of the working mom (aren’t we all?) is that the quantity of housework doesn’t decrease because mom works outside the home. The working mom, while she doesn’t suffer the minute-by-minute aggravation of dealing with young children, has the same mothering/homemaking requirements as the stay-at-home mom. She just has a lot less time to accomplish them. This is a hard-learned lesson from being a working mom and one I will gladly share with you.

When I decided to return to school, I did so because I wanted to hit the workplace. My law degree was dated and I was coming out of a pretty rough time personally. After 10 years at home with my children, a combination of factors and people in my life — most well-meaning, others not so — had led me to believe that I was a rather lousy mother. Not cut out for this. I went back to law school and I excelled. My husband stayed home for the first year of my studies and we found an amazing caregiver for the second year and onward. Including my graduate studies, I have been working outside the home for 6 years.

What I realized was that even with an amazing husband who pulls well above his weight around the house, the job of a mother changes very little despite the time spent out of the house. I still had to cook, and clean and make sure that homework was done and that laundry was cycled. And while my children were mostly fed, clothed and up-to-date in their schoolwork (minus a few close calls), once all the basic stuff was done I had very little energy left to be a good mom. A patient mom. An upbeat mom. A listening mom. An understanding mom.

Who has it worst? Being a good mom is hard work, period. Working mom or stay-at-home mom, we all have 24h in our days. Now that I am home full-time, I can do housework, cooking and cleaning while the children are at school, between the demands of my three little ones. Now that I am no longer trying to clean-up our act during the weekends when the children are coming and going, I have more flexibility to do unimaginable things with my kids, like taking nature walks or just chatting. Moreover, I’m not nearly as grouchy when they drag dirt in. So who has it harder? It depends how you fill your 24h. Being a good mom takes time, but I know people who can do in a day what I can hardly do in a week. Work obligations compresses the time available to raise raise children and generally running the home show. In that sense, working moms have a greater challenge than stay-at-home moms. On the other hand, if it wasn’t for stay-at-home moms, how many school activities would never happen? Working moms owe a debt of gratitude to their stay-at-home colleagues who make the school/neighborhood/community world go round.

It’s not how many hours we have, it’s how we fill them.

Random Bullets


Pour mes lecteurs francophones: voici un ramassis d’articles de journaux qui ont attiré mon attention cette semaine.

Here is a random list of news articles that grabbed my attention this week: (and speaking of newspapers, these warning labels are too brilliant not to mention)

  • Wondering about the state of maturity? Of all the sound arguments in favour of delaying massive cuts to the federal public service during a fragile economic recovery, the Public Service Alliance of Canada chooses to be remembered with this one: Stephen Harper hates me. Nice one PSAC, real mature. In fact, it’s such a childish and emotionally-stunted way of spending your union fees that my 14-year-old son, upon seeing this picture, said in a commercial announcer’s voice: Introducing decreasing maturity! Ranging from toddler to man-child! Note to John Gordon, National President of PSAC: when a 14-year-old thinks you’re immature, it’s time to call your office.
  • Speaking of man-child, I hate to give a dead guy — or his grieving relatives — a hard time but for crying out loud! 8 children with 5 girlfriends at 27, two of them born of the same girl on the same year when he was 15? This guy should have been a sect leader!
  • Still wondering about the state of maturity? Read this piece about Jonathan Leblond, an inspiring young man. His victory-over-tragedy story is inspiring not only for his courage in the face of danger but for how he overcame what would have left many in shambles. I never met Jonathan in person but his path crossed mine at work. I was moved and inspired by his wisdom then, not even knowing what had happened to his family. Reading this piece made me thankful for the twists of fate that make us encounter extraordinary people through ordinary circumstances.
  • And finally, are you worried about the erosion of civil liberties and privacy in Western societies? Do you have concerns over government bills such as bill C-30 which you probably haven’t read and wouldn’t understand anyway? Me too. When Someone in government tells me that those who have nothing to hide shouldn’t worry about online privacy, I wonder “But how will I know if I have something to hide?” I bet you that Jessie Sansone didn’t know he had something to hide until he was arrested, strip-searched and had his children apprehended by Children’s Aid.  This article on the Sansone incident by John Robson should send chills up your spine. I would drop the Twittering about what may happen and start worrying about what’s already here.