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Monday, April 15, 2024
Ross’s Ramblings: Sometimes not conforming to ‘norm’ is the way to go
Ross Robinson says something must be done at the old Parliament Oak site, and that people should embrace change. FILE

Swimming against the current can be a good thing, with positive results. Stay the course with me as I put my thoughts to paper after a chance incident in Niagara-on-the-Lake last week.

In the world of politics, people usually vote for candidates who agree with them on the issues of the day and who all too often people who share a similar background.

When an outlier contests an election, they swim upstream.

I think of Naheed Nenshi, who was the mayor of Calgary from 2010 to 2021. Could he have been more different, in so many ways, than the stereotypical Albertan?

Not born and grazed on the Prairies, or within sight of the magnificent and red neck Rocky Mountains. Born in Toronto, a definite “new kid on the block,” he enjoyed much political success for more than a decade, and now he is turning to provincial politics. Still sartorially resplendent in purple threads.

And Ranj Pillai, the current premier of the Yukon. He certainly does not fit the traditional image of a Whitehorse resident, but he is the leader of this Canadian territory with so much potential.

Here in NOTL, we have the determined Andrea Kaiser. She was an effective member of town council and is now working for us at the regional level. (How much more time will she have to spend on the St. Davids roundabout issue? By the way, they used to be called traffic circles.)

Being in a car going around the traffic circle in Stoney Creek or Niagara Falls was always a highlight of our visits to our grandparents in Niagara back in the 1950s. All the way from Winnipeg. This area seemed so modern and advanced.

And let’s remember Lord Mayor Art Viola, who capably led our town from 1994 to 2000. He was the first Filipino-born elected mayor in Canada and, after his mayoralty, said that in terms of friendship, he was the richest man in town.

Let’s all take a big leap back to the election of U.S. President Barack Obama. What a win for mankind and only a few decades after a Catholic had won the right to to lead the most powerful country in the world. And a young Catholic at that.

John F. Kennedy had swept in, bringing youthful vigour and pizzazz to the White House. And then it all ended so terribly, so quickly.

Obama sold his message of hope, saying, “Yes, we can.” He governed with integrity and did so much for the aspirations of Black Americans. My goodness, the stress of that job changed his hair colour in just eight years. From black to gray, but still he stayed athletic and visionary.

Which awkwardly brings me to the sad situation on King Street in our wee town. I pass the old Parliament Oak Public School building almost every day. Fading yellow bricks, dirty windows, derelict and totally inactive.

I understand a demolition permit has been issued, but let’s see some progress. Between the old public school and the old NOTL hospital and, soon, the old Upper Canada Lodge stagnation, NOTL needs a strong and authoritative kick in the pants.

Let’s get something done. We need a big shot of positive energy.

Just last week, I was delivering a birthday card to Lord Mayor Gary Zalepa. We go back many years and he has always worked hard and followed the rules.

Frankly, I was surprised when he was elected lord mayor — because in a town so dominated by grey, silver and white hair, he ran for office with a full head of curly, dark hair. But now, there are flecks of grey appearing.

Let’s get a major and visible project under way. It will do us all good. We’ll get used to the changes.

Let’s embrace change. It’s inevitable.

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