Thoughts on this Canadian Election

Saturday, April 30, 2011
So it seems that this coming Monday we will have another opportunity to traipse over to another field and cast our vote for whom we would like to govern us for another 2-3 years.

Interestingly, this election was called while we were in Vancouver, and we followed along in Southern Ontario, then Northern Alberta, and now back to the field. Because of this I've had extra time to listen to good debate on the radio, but I've been frustrated by a lack of good discussion on the radio, or television for that matter, over the issues and the party platforms. More and more its just about spin and attack and "I don't want to participate with your discussion just because..."

So here I sit, in rural Alberta (where the conservatives have ruled since Alexander the Great decided to go on holiday to India.) My vote will have little consequence, whether for the Conservatives, the Liberals, or the New Democratic Party.

After this election race, these are my conclusions.

The Conservatives

From their TV commercials I know that the Liberal leader is sleazy and un-Canadian, and so is his wife and father. Policies? What policies? FAIL.

From different Radio interviews, more than from any other party, I've heard; "We contacted the -Conservative leader, / the local Conservative party member, / the local Conservative member of parliament, who has declined to participate in this round table discussion.
FAIL. You want my vote? Then be available.

Mostly however, with the Conservatives I'm concerned with their understanding of the PMO, the Prime Ministers Office. They seem to have a more exalted sense of that office, much like the President of the United States approach. They have worked to limit press access, and seem to run a type of "My way or the highway," sort of politics. I don't like that at all.

I vote for parliament, more specifically I vote for a Member of Parliament. I don't get to vote for the leader, so I want that leader to work together with parliament to accomplish some good for this country. In fact I want him or her to be a shining example of leadership working together, SERVING the people, not creating levels of separation from them. Work with the people Canadians send to Ottawa, and at least respect the varied opinions of who we send to work with you. Your government fell because of a charge of being in Contempt of Parliament. That would land you an "F" in the "Works well with others" category.

And for Peters sake watch who you invite into your inner circle to gain influence with you. Be more careful who you give access to, in terms of unelected individuals with a nasty history. When you are caught red handed, you should resign as a matter of course out of respect for the institution and people you serve. You need to start getting this right because if you forget your position, remember 1993 when you dropped from an absolute majority of seats to only two seats. That was the worst electoral disaster in Canadian history, and it happens.

While I have voted Conservative in the past, this bunch is really making me take a second look at the other options. I don't like this flavour of bossy conservatism.

The Liberals

Not a badly run campaign, but your leader, and how you decided he would be a good choice, what was the thinking there? I know he had to rebuild the party and work elsewhere, but for a party leader who believes in the process, I'm surprised that Michael Ignatieff missed 58% of the house votes.

I also know that the Conservative strategy was to attack your party leader, like it did successfully with the previous party leader, but you failed to show me something better. Your leadership approach just hasn't inspired me to believe in you, and quite honestly your in house antics in choosing and supporting a Liberal leader doesn't fill me with confidence that you have it together enough to do a responsible job.

Honestly I'm kinda nervous that after this election you will respond with a jerky knee and replace Mr. Ignatieff with Mr. Trudeau thinking that a quick face change and a youth movement will solve all your problems. But it won't. You need to deal with the seeds planted by Mr. Chretien and how he dealt with Mr. Martin, and how they led the party. It will take a strong, building sort of a leader to dig into the foundations a bit and build up something good and worthwhile.  And that will take some time, from a good leader. But if you do it well, and with integrity, I think you'll stand a great chance down the road. Especially with a younger generation.

I have voted Liberal in the past but I'm not sure they have it in them this time to give us good leadership.

The Jack Layton Party otherwise known as The New Democratic Party

We here in Canada are reading that the polling is indicating that this third or fourth position party in federal politics is suddenly moving into a position of respect by voters and may end up forming the loyal opposition. Wow. I never saw that coming. (Which is being repeated by political pundits across the land.)

No, it isn't all about the almighty dollar and there are more things at stake here like people and how we watch out for one another. I actually agree with you.

Your leadership seems to have made a strong impact in the political realm, and what, your strongest support is coming from women and young people under the age of 35? That is some demographic to attract. Well done that.

Is this sudden shift in polling the result of young people stepping up into their place in society and voting? Is it that the Liberals and Conservatives have been so busy flinging mud at each other that you've come up the side relatively clean? I'm not sure, but the prospect of new blood in Ottawa is refreshing.

You don't seem to be in the back pockets of the unions any longer, at least since these times have been changing. And you've had some good provincial examples of strong leadership, fiscally and otherwise. Roy Romanow in Saskatchewan, and Gary Doer in Manitoba seem to have done ok by their people.

Yet you are untested, nationally at least. You haven't had to work within the pressures of leading a country or leading the loyal opposition. All we have is your track record to date, and I suppose a vision that has drawn the attention of Canada's next generation.

I have voted NDP in the past, and I might just be in a mood to see what happens to this tired, mud specked Parliament if some new faces were seen.  Of course I had great hope for the fresh faces of the Reform Party too, before they joined the Progressive Conservatives to form the Conservative Party.

Bloc Québécois

This party located only in Quebec, was born with the agenda of having Quebec separate from the rest of Canada, and now presses for Quebec interests in Ottawa.

It seemed that early in this election campaign they were doing well, however the party leader, Gilles Duceppe, has recently been frustrated by the polls showing the party to have a growing disconnect with voters.

This encourages me. Having a regional party that only represents the interests of it's own part of Canada seems to be a vision that is too narrow. I believe that the younger generations are less about actual land boundaries and more see themselves as citizens of the world. They have less and less interest in sustaining their own little country.

This is the one party I have never voted for before, simply because I don't live in Quebec and they don't run candidates elsewhere in Canada.

The Green Party

Though their leader Elizabeth May, is articulate and has some good ideas, they have yet to develop a platform that is broad enough to include the nations interests. I also don't believe they run candidates in each riding.

Although I believe I voted for them once, it was more of a frustration vote against the status quo than it was for the Green Party. Besides, I live in rural Alberta and there are no Green Party candidates here.

The great lake in The Field

The great lake in The Field

These guys won't be seeding any time soon.

Wherein I rant about a public housing waste of money and an insensitivity to the elderly

Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Today I went to check up on a couple of people from here who have moved into a beautiful brand new multi million tax dollar built care residence. I was shocked by a series of unbelievable design decisions that are clearly mistakes, that will cost a good deal more dollars to fix, if they get fixed at all. I am wondering who didn't think through the design implications for these elderly people?

It's bad enough that none of the rooms had phones hooked up before they were moved in, and for people limited in mobility and access to mobile phones, they have really been cut off from their families. They are also getting bored because the cable TV hasn't yet been hooked up. Now ok, either of these things I can justify as some early new building growing pains sort of things.

But the design fails or elder insensitivity I just shook my head at?

- Extra high ceilings and carpet less floors so now they can't hear each other when they sit and play games because their voices echo and bounce around the room so badly.

- Closets with high placed bars in them that very few can reach to hang their clothing on.

- Electronic thermostats in each room that NO ONE can figure out how to work and there are no instructions for them and even the staff can't adjust them.

- Big metal blinds on each room window that are so heavy that the elderly can't pull them up or let them down so they peek out between the slats to see outside.

- Perhaps the biggest design flaw was the meal time. In the previous place their meals were set before them at the table they sat at, awaiting their lunch. Now it's cafeteria style, and all the aged people have to get up and line up and take a tray with their hot food and drinks back to their tables and sit down to eat.
I happened to pass by one of the dinning areas as I was leaving the place and I couldn't believe it. The line threaded around the side of the room, and all but two were pushing walkers or in wheelchairs they pushed themselves, or even with crutches. How do you hold a tray in a wheelchair or holding a walker? How do you get your hot water or coffee back to the table without dumping it on yourself?

It was as if the designer had never been around anyone over 60 before.

The disappointment is that it is such a beautiful building and a great place to spend a few years, except that it seems no one was thinking. That is really frustrating. I know these people have been waiting a long time for this new place to live in because the old place was very, well, old. But at least it fit who they are, and didn't mock their limited abilities.

Ok that's enough for now. Let's see what they do to fix this.

Holy Weekend. An update.

Saturday, April 23, 2011
As one pastor said to me the other day regarding people in his church who were quite unaware of the work and planning that go into a weekend like this, he said, "They have NO idea..."

Nor should they I suppose. Because it's not done for credit or big happy smiles of appreciation, although those are nicely welcome. It's done for reasons that have to do with the arrangements we personally have made with God, who directed us to these places in the first place.

Maundy Thursday was a delight. It always is my favourite service of the year. It is simple and very relational and it welcomes us to Christs Table where we share together with Him. It presents his struggle in the garden far better than I often realize. That he, Jesus of Nazareth had his own prayers and desires, and they were not about dying on a cross. Still he laid down his own desires, for ours. Now we try to live likewise.

Friday we were in town for the community service. I had to be there early, which meant leaving the house even earlier. The morning was surprisingly good, considering there were five pastors preaching, all limited to three minutes each and two managed within that constraint. We shared in the Lords Table there as well, and I think I can say with honesty, that it was good.

Today is quiet in the field. I have a couple in for Premarital counseling, and some things to get ready for tomorrow, the first Sunday back in two weeks of traveling Canada. It will be good tomorrow. There will be food and coffee and visiting and worship and light and remembering and I'm going to talk a bit about this coming back to life thing that Jesus did, and why it is important to us. I'm also going to talk a bit about how, for some, coming back to life from the dead is already happening even now. Should be fun.

Then things should quiet down I think. At least for a day or two.

Oh and my mom is here for the weekend, and that's a nice Easter surprise.

So I think tonight Herself is roasting up a Turkey and a Ham because what else do you do for Easter when you love to cook? And I of course who love to eat, will be enjoying the mini feast too.

A most blessed and life giving Easter to you and yours this weekend,

From The Field.

Today Oh Lord

Friday, April 22, 2011
Today oh Lord, all the blood,
the pain, the violence.

The heavy cross, the falling. The beatings, the thorns piercing the skin.

Today oh Lord the scent of vinegar mixed with the smell of death.

The sounds of mocking, and the hammers pounding each nail.

Today oh Lord, the hope of redemption, the promise of life, the displacement of death.

Today Lord the love,
oh the love.

Oh the sacrifice.


Oh the memories

Thursday, April 21, 2011

BBC Radio now in iTunes

Wednesday, April 20, 2011
I know that some out there have gone to great hacking efforts to get BBC Radio to play in your iTunes, and I know this because I have searched and hacked a bit myself.

But as of this morning when I was looking for some decent classical music to play while I study, I stumbled upon BBC Radio 3 in iTunes. I dug a bit more and BBC Radio 1, 2, 3, 4, 4EXTRA, and 5Live are all there now.

So on a day when I'm having difficulty focusing my bleary eyes, this is very good news.

Photo's from grad weekend

Monday, April 18, 2011

Another milestone is reached as Hillary graduated from PRBI this weekend.

You can see the photoset here.

The world gets bigger again once you travel away from the field.

As posted by herself:

Four different beds last week.
In the past month we've passed through or visited twenty-two cities, driven more than three thousand kilometers around three Canadian provinces and one American state, and flown the same distance twice.

Yes it's good to be home.
With many new thoughts and a bigger world once again to reference from.

We're home.

Last time here?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Last time here?, originally uploaded by RandallFriesen.


Cap & Gown for Hillary - video

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Just waiting for brunch then on to grad ceremonies


Grad banquet

Friday, April 15, 2011

Grad banquet, originally uploaded by RandallFriesen.

I'm suppose to call this one "Me and the girls."



Hillary graduates

Thursday, April 14, 2011
Hillary's Graduation
So early tomorrow morning we leave to be at Hillary's graduation from college.

Another of our children achieves a significant milestone in their life. So we will celebrate with her and cheer her accomplishment and try not to embarrass her by being the proud parents that we are.

She's done well there at school. Academically surpassing anything I could achieve, (She made mincemeat of the greek and hebrew classes she took, with the class high mark) but also with getting some of the corners rubbed off.

She has done well, in life too. So tomorrow we will go and cheer her on.


Photos are up


If you want to follow along at home and want to see our photos, just head over to my photo site:

or if you prefer to see them larger, check out my:

Back for a day or two.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Well, a congregational meeting last night, a ministerial meeting this morning, a counselling time before lunch, the youth are arriving shortly and I think it's safe to declare we are back. At least for a day or two.

It was a great annual meeting we attended and then Lauralea and I headed back to the starting place for us in Aylmer, where many people caught wind that we were there and wanted a few moments with us. That was good. For the people we did connect with it seemed like we just picked up where we had left off, and it was good too. We had a emotional evening with a great aunt too, over authentic mexican food. It was hard to say good bye.

As I reflected during the flights back home, there were a number of deep, spirit connections that were food for my soul, and it seemed, good for them as well. I think they were especially helpful in discerning what I want to be when I grow up.

But as I said, we are now back in it and there are emails to return, reports to write, youth to lead, questions to be answered, stuff to be done, and hope to be found.

I'll end this post with the sense that it was a very good trip to Ontario.

Aylmer Market

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Aylmer Market, originally uploaded by RandallFriesen.
Last morning here and there's so much food I'd like to take home.

Standing on the pier at Port Bruce

Monday, April 11, 2011
And Lake Eire is angry today.

Lunch at Clarkes

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Lunch at Clarkes, originally uploaded by RandallFriesen.
Ok, memories are taking over now.


And when the owner came over to present the check he was searching his mind for some distant connection and as I communicated twentysome years since we had last eaten there he asked my name.

"Friesen," I replied.
"Who's your father?" he asked and I answered, "Reuben Friesen."
"Oh Reuben, yes of course, Reuben. It was sad when he went."

Yes it was.

Sunday morning worship

Sunday morning worship, originally uploaded by RandallFriesen.

We are at the Aylmer Evangelical Mennonite Mission Church this morning to worship with them.

This was the place 25 years ago that called us into pastoral ministry. They've done well here, we attended this weekends fourth service.

Many faces I recognize, but it's the names I struggle with. But it's so good to be here. It's a good spirit here.

May it be good where you are today too.

Meeting at The Story with Joe & Nathan

Saturday, April 09, 2011

These guys are doing some amazing work in Sarnia Ontario. Today I wandered into their inviting space and because of the Internet, they recognized me right off the hop.

They are making a difference right here and now, and the kingdom is better because of their faithfulness.

Thanks guys.
May God keep gracing your hard work.

There were two ships parked here when I went to bed last night

Friday, April 08, 2011

Or maybe parked isn't the right word, but this is the view from our hotel. To the right is a huge Cargill Terminal.


Tea with Fiona

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Fiona, originally uploaded by RandallFriesen.
Today as Lauralea and I were in the London Ontario area, we decided to follow through on an invitation we had received, to visit a reader of this space, and a friend of a friend. Our connections were created as a result of Internet connections.

Since we had a few hours and unlimited kms to put on the rental Altima, we headed out. Our confirmation phone call found her gracious and as inviting as ever.

Fiona has lived in the same house, or shall I say cottage, and community for over fifty years and has established a community of caring friends in the area. I mention her home because it was so inviting and restful. It was peaceful in a way that was active and grace giving, rather than the kind of peaceful that is simply a lack of activity. That's what my soul needed today, these days I suppose.

And her story was so hope filled. It was such good medicine for my spirit.

We drank tea together in her conservatory as she told us a bit of when she was younger and she would work on the Island of Iona, when Rev. George MacLeod himself used to be there. Wow.

Too soon we had to leave, but we've taken some of her with us. She's one of those people you hope to end up like as you age. Because life can be tough enough and it's not always an easy thing, but you make choices. Choices to move towards the cross, or choices that move you away from it.

She, as far as I could tell by the graciousness of her presence, is still moving towards the cross.

It was a very worthwhile detour.

Thanks Fiona.

More travels.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011
In eight hours I shall be rising from my bed after three hours of sleep, and will be getting to the airport for a lovely day of flights and airports, to get myself, or rather ourselves, to the opposite part of the country than we were last week. Southern Ontario to be exact. Church business meetings have me going there and because it just so happens to be our old stomping grounds, Lauralea is heading out with me.

So it's a bit of work into the weekend, and then we are taking an extra day or two to tour through the three years of memories we made there early in our life together.

Lauralea taught at Aylmer Bible School, I was the lay minister in the 400+ member Mennonite congregation, I made pizza's and insulation for a living, we had two baby girls, a year apart from each other, the Tuesday market where you could get amazing fries, walking along the beach on a calm day, or wave riding when the wind was up, the fat wet huge snowflakes, the fresh fruit, apples, peaches, strawberries, pears, and nuts, the Amish buggies, the humidity, the brick houses, the different trees, and on and on. It might be tough to get it all in, in two days.

And it's almost mystical that its 25 years since we started in ministry there, and we are heading back. I'm glad we will get a Sunday morning of worship in with them, see who they have become a bit.

So I think you'll be seeing a few pictures in this space for the next few days. At least I wouldn't be at all surprised.

"...none of the early disciples were professional educators."

Tuesday, April 05, 2011
The church in America is led by scholars. Essentially, the church is a robust school system created around a framework of lectures and discussions and study. We assume this is the way its supposed to be because this is all we have ever known. I think the scholars have done a good job, but they’ve also recreated the church in their own image. Churches are essentially schools. They look like schools with lecture halls, classrooms, cafeterias and each new church program is basically a teaching program.

The first disciples were not teachers, they were fishermen, tax collectors and at least one was a Zealot. We don’t know the occupation of the others, but Jesus did not charge educators with the great commission, he chose laborers.

An excellent piece by Donald Miller which is a subtle response to the recent back and forthing between contemporary religious authors/leaders. I think he really starts to get to the heart of things, past the scholarly sorts of responding to one another that goes on in the church - more so now that the Internet exists.

Go read the rest of it here.

The Field 360, April 2, 2011

Saturday, April 02, 2011

The dude abides still.

Want to have some fun with the old blog?

Then type this into your url address box up there:

Seems blogger is adding Dynamic Views for readers. Just add /view/ after the address and off you go.

More info here, now go give it a try.
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