Sunday, November 22, 2015

Giving Thanks, Giving Back

As I watch the groundswell of knee-jerk xenophobia following the Paris terrorist attacks, I am compelled to invoke the voice of reason. Thoreau said “It’s never too late to give up your prejudices”. The upcoming American Thanksgiving offers a perfect segue from offering thanks to giving up our prejudices.

My Thanks go back many years, first to my parents, who raised me both color-blind and agnostic, leaving me open to the available wisdom of whomever I might encounter in life’s journey. Theirs was probably the greatest gift I have ever received, and so Mom, and Dad, my most heartfelt “Thank You”.

But there are many others to whom I owe a debt of thanks…

Thanks to the Christian family who billeted me on a band trip to Abbotsford in 1965. I never properly thanked you for the lovely hardcover nonfiction book which you asked that I return someday. I never did, but that copy still graces my personal library shelves, and I think of you every time I take it down to reflect on the generosity of strangers.

Thanks too to my oldest friend, a born-again Christian who I met on my first day of college, and who, many years later told me, “Children aren’t the most important thing in life. They’re the ONLY thing…” I sometimes wish I had seen the wisdom in that a decade or two before I did, but as Thoreau said…

 Thanks to the Jewish family who sponsored me when I won an Air Cadet trip to Israel in 1967. Your hospitality was complete and unconditional, even though I was an uncouth gentile teenager who took your generosity for granted, and never properly thanked you at the time.

Thanks to the gregarious Inuit guides who showed me the ropes on northern Baffin Island in 1970. I suspect your religion was some form of animism, but you gave me the benefit of your rich experience, and gifted me a pair of sealskin mukluks which hang beside my desk to this day to remind me of the importance of human contact and support.

Thanks to the Hindu workers in the Quesnel plywood plant in 1975 who took pity on me when I was a green “fishtail” handler, and ensured I made quota each long and lonely shift on the assembly line. You kept me on time and on task when I was ready to throw in the towel.

Thanks to the many wonderful Mennonite colleagues who helped me transition from struggling classroom teacher to seasoned teacher-librarian in Abbotsford from 1978 to 1985. Your support and encouragement kept me in the game, helped me find my niche in education, and set me on the path to 26 wonderful years as an International school educator.

Thanks to the warm and generous elderly Sunni Muslim shopkeepers in the old Souqs of Tripoli who shared with me their sorrow at the travails of their country under Qaddafi.  When I found myself one of the few Caucasians in Libya after the American bombing in 1986, you ensured that I remained a welcome guest of the Jamahirya. When I think of Libya now, I think of you.

Thank you to the gentle Jain, the international school support worker whose kind nature helped me to aspire to non-violence, non-absolutism and non-possessiveness. I have mastered none of these, but I am a better person for having known you and learned even a tiny bit about your religion.

Thanks to the Shia Muslim tour guide who welcomed me to Cairo in 2000 and provided my 35 privileged international school teens with the most wonderful, open and unbiased introduction to Egyptian history, culture and customs that I could have hoped for. Because of you, my friend, I have vowed to someday bring my own children to see your wonderful country.

Thanks to the legions of warm, welcoming and caring Buddhists who bestowed “honored guest” status on me in Thailand in 1985. I learned that any small act of generosity or kindness was repaid a hundredfold over my 25 glorious years there. I returned to Canada in 2011 a calmer, gentler and, I hope, a wiser husband, father and son. Thank you Thailand, and the Buddhist people, for giving me a soulmate, a family and a whole new perspective on life.

Finally, Thanks to the Canadian First Nations community who in 2012 accepted me on equal terms as a non-native Tour Bus Driver and Guide. Your faith in my ability kept me on the path of continual learning and personal growth and your ability to still contribute to an evolving Canadian identity inspires me to see a richer future for Canada than I ever imagined.

My story is the story of Canada. As a once again proud Canadian living in a truly multicultural society led by a Prime Minister whom I can admire, respect, and perhaps in small ways emulate, I welcome refugees of any faith, color or creed to our unique nation. We are ALL guests in this land, and every new Canadian we admit further enriches and diversifies our Canadian cultural mosaic.

Thank you, refugees from the far-flung corners of the world for choosing Canada. Thank you, Canadian voters, for choosing wisely in our recent election. Thank you, the new Government of Canada, for standing up to ignorance and xenophobia and putting Canada back on the path to becoming a world leader in caring, compassion and altruism toward our fellow human beings.

Rob Rubis


Tuesday, August 18, 2015


The weekend that Stephen Harper dropped the writ to launch the longest election runup in modern history, I happened to be on the road, and as I drove the length of BC thinking about the upcoming election, it became clear to me that for the first time in my voting life, I needed to do more than just vote.
Anytown, BC. Storefront after storefront going dark - in "StephenHarpersCanada"
 Full disclosure here. I was overseas for 26 years, and during that time, I did not vote in Canadian federal elections. It was a case of feeling on the one hand, ill-informed about the issues, and on the other hand, unentitled to exercise my voting right since I had chosen to absent myself. In the '80's, it was difficult to be anything other than uninformed in first Tripoli, and then in Bangkok. English language newspapers were non-existent in Libya and rare in Bangkok, and short-wave radio offered only a smattering of international news, usually dominated by the US. So I did not vote.

I remained, throughout my 26 year absence, however, a proud, loyal and nationalistic Canadian. In the '80s, the Canadian flag on a backpack or a cap was a personal protection insurance policy in Libya and an invitation to pleasant conversation in Thailand. I wore my identity proudly, and took pains to ensure that I was never mistaken for an American. Those folks were, after all, loud-mouthed, crass and unprincipled to a fault. No way was I going to be mistake for one of them.

That was, of course, before "Lyin' Bryan" Mulroney, ravin' Rob Ford, "make-off-with-it" Mike Duffy - and, of course, our beloved "clean up corruption" Stephen Harper.

Stephen Harper managed to undo in ten years what I had spent a lifetime in building and nurturing; pride in my country, certainty in the righteousness of our place on the international stage, and confidence in the future of Canada as a leader of the industrialized world. In ten short years, Stephen Harper has turned me into a reluctant defender of Canada as a leader in international human and womens' rights, a staunch advocate for change in Canada's current stance on aboriginal issues, and an apologist for Canada as an international climate pariah. More and more, I find myself unable to justify or defend my country's stance on any any issue of relevance for the future. And although I'm going to vote in the upcoming election, I'm afraid that my one small vote isn't going to carry the weight of the conviction I feel that this man has got to go.

This makes my angry, and although I am realistic about the potential for my small act of personal political action to make a difference, it will make a difference to me. When my children ask me "What did you do in the (climate) Wars, Daddy", I will be able to say, "I did whatever I could to spread the word about what I was seeing, to open people's eyes to the results of one man's twisted vision of a strong, united Canada, and to contribute in whatever small way I could to bringing that man down.

My Twitter hashtag "StephenHarpersCanada" is the result of that decision to act. The photos I tweet show an economy at the leading edges of not just Recession, but outright Depression, a culture in rapid decline, and a civilization teetering on the brink of a final death spiral. It's not a pretty picture, but it's what I see when I finally admit to myself that the King has no Clothes.  It's time that people saw Stephen Harper reflected in the images of what he has brought this country to and took the necessary steps to remove him and replace him with someone, anyone, who will make rational decisions to guide us through the troubled times ahead.
Better Times only seen in the Rear-View mirror - In "StephenHarpersCanada"

Follow my exploration of "StephenHarpersCanada" at Or watch for posts here as election day nears. I'm neither an historian, a media analyst or a political pundit, but rather a concerned citizen who has decided that, like Peter Finch in "Network", "I'm Mad as Hell, and I'm NOT going to Take This Any More!"

A nation that runs on wheels slowing grinding to a halt - In "StephenHarpersCanada"

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Sooo Close...

Busy these days juggling a half-dozen part-time jobs so not a lot of new writing getting laid down. Mark me down as a Canadian edition of the US's 47% currently underemployed or struggling to make ends meet with  multiple part-time jobs. Recession? It's Here - and it's probably going to get worse.

Just learned though, that I have received an "Honorable Mention" in Polar Expressions' annual Short Story Contest for "The Middle Way". No money in the bank, but some vindication on the writing front. This story is a semiautobiographical snapshot from my distant past, back when my only dream was to escape the farm and see the world...

An early draft was one of the "Dreamories" in my first novel (Mai Shangri-La), but this version has been revised, expanded, reworked and wordsmithed until every word is almost right. (I guess if every word had been exactly right, we might have made it those last two steps to the money;0)

Another short story in the CBC "Canada Writes" contest upcoming. This one also semiautobiographical, and based on a very, very intense personal experience. It's called "Sheep Shot", and I think the title is spot on. More as the contest unfolds.

Polar Expressions Short Story Contest Results

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

It Ain't Over...

...Till it's over (Yogi Berra)

A quick peek at this blog would suggest it's dormant or dead, with the last posting almost a year ago now at the conclusion of my unsuccessful run for municipal election. Only the first would apply. It's been a busy year.

Since last summer, I've continued to try to at find a "niche" in this small town, but It's been a tough sell. As a former teacher with dated dated classroom experience, and with my specialty in school libraries now in little demand, it seems that that door is pretty much closed. I've applied for every likely local job that's come along in town, thinking that my experience in managing a library with 10+ staff and very healthy budgets would make me a viable candidate. So far, these efforts have been in vain. My small business in town (Princeton SmallHauls) is stuttering along, but in a classic Catch-22, is not bringing in enough cash to warrant continued advertising in the local newspapers.

Finally in the fall last year, I turned to driving, which crops up regularly in a town dependent on logging, mining, and goods delivery to town. I trained up during the fall, got my Class 1 licence in October, and began driving for the local hockey team in December. Since then, I've driven for the local hockey team (game trips and charters), for the local Community Services organization, for a South Okanagan bus line, and most recently, for a First Nations group running a tour bus to an old Gold Mine.

It's keeping me busy, but it's not paying the bills, and it's not feeding my need to express myself on topics I'm passionate about. I wrote a few letters to the editor of the local paper, but that didn't do it on either front. And that brings me back to serious writing, and the environment, which, for me, are intricately interconnected.

And so, I'm coming back to this blog. For now. It ain't over..

Monday, August 13, 2012

...and the Results.

The Town of Princeton has spoken, and it has voted resoundingly for the Status Quo.

The Mayor position has been taken with a 50% margin by a sitting Councilman, and the Councillor position with a 35% margin by a fully "local boy" over a recent returnee.

There are lots of reasons for  the results of the Councillor run. I competed with a man who has spent years in public service in the town, as both a Fireman and a Highway Rescue guy, for which I applaud him. I have had a very low profile in town (busy getting my family situated and looking for work), and would have needed to dramatically raise this to convince the townspeople to go with me rather than a known quantity. And then, some would say, I came into the race with some highfallutin' ideas about the environment, economic collapse, and the world beyond the horizon's impact on our little town. The election result clearly show that the people of the Town of Princeton are much more comfortable with the tried and true than new directions in civic politics.

Whatever the reasons, the townspeople have spoken, and I'm satisfied with the results. I look forward to being a small prick to the conscience of the incoming Council on issues my election run convinced me urgently need attention. I congratulate my opponent on running a clean and honest campaign and wish him well in his new position of responsibility to the Town of Princeton.

I'll thank my supporters through the local media, since few local people have been following this blog. Most of all, I'll move on with other interests in my life proud in the knowledge that I participated in the democratic process and helped the people of Princeton to choose rather than just to accept the directions then town will take for the next 2 1/2 years.

Signing off on "Rubis for Council" (I'll revert the blog name to its original title later this week)
With my Regards to the People of Princeton
Rob Rubis, Candidate for Councillor

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Restating the Obvious

The Issues as I see them deserves to be at the top of this blog. If you've just tuned in, click on this link to go to this earlier post. If you've browsed before and want to review a particular post, you can choose from the "Quicklinks" in blue to the right of this column.

If you're reading this post, you are in a minority among voters from Princeton, as the last recorded visit to this site from town was on August 2nd. Princeton people, by and large, appear to depend on face-to-face meetings to pass information and to debate hot issues. And that's not a bad thing. It's part of what drew me back here.

On the other hand, an almost total discounting of the power of the web as a medium of information exchange and discourse may be contributing to the downward spiral (economic, social, population) that seems to be plaguing the town at the moment. The internet, the worldwide web, and social media are all powerful driving forces in the world today,

If Princeton is going to reinvent itself as a dynamic, diverse and thriving small center of culture and economic stability, I believe greater attention needs to be give to using the powerful array of digital tools at our disposal.

If I am elected to Town Council tomorrow, this will become part of my electoral responsibility for the next 28 months. If I am NOT elected to Town Council tomorrow, bringing some of these tools to the attention of the incoming Council will become part of my personal mission for the future.

IN any case, be SURE to VOTE in Saturday's Civic Election, and then, Stay Tuned...

With Regards to the People of Princeton
Rob Rubis, Candidate for Council

Monday, July 30, 2012

Issue #4: Disaster Preparedness

This election is, at one level, being billed as a one-issue election, that issue being Healthcare, but it is much more than that. This election is taking place at a watershed moment in the history of Princeton, on several levels;
  1. The world is watching as Greece struggles with long-standing dept problem. It is likely that within the next few months, the country will slip into a full-on economic collapse and an untimely withdrawal from the Euro. If Greece collapses, Italy, Spain and even France may not be long behind and this will draw in not only the USA, but Canada. In fact, the world faces the possibility of a global recession that could rival the Great Depression.
  2. China is teetering on the brink of its own recession, and if the glut of cheap, disposable products from DVD players to food products slows significantly, all these products will suddenly become at the least more expensive, and at the worst, unobtainable for periods of time in an isolated location like Princeton.
  3. The USA is experiencing the worst drought since the Dust Bowl of the 1930's. If the corn crop fails as expected, food prices will skyrocket, and some items may become virtually unobtainable. With corn a prime ingredient in a vast array of daily use products, the effects could be devastatingly real - as early as this winter.
  4. Tension in the Arabian Peninsula continues to rise. If Israel decides to take out Iran's nuclear program, all hell will break loose, and fuel prices in Canada could skyrocket. Worse, fuel shortages could hamper timely deliveries by the fleet of 18-wheelers that Princeton depends on for everything from fuel for the local gas stations to stock for the supermarket shelves.
  5. Climate Change resulting from Global Warming threatens more severe weather events as the norm in coming years. 100 year events could easily become 20, or 5 year events. These could rival the Big Snow of 1935-36 that brought six feet of snow down on Princeton in the space of 48 hours, or the Flood of '48 that still stands as the worst regional disaster in the history of many areas of BC. Either of these events could also disrupt eighteen-wheel deliveries to Princeton for significant periods of time. Worse, these disruptions could coincide with extended grid-down power outages, or even disruptions of the natural gas supply here.
  6. Domestic and/or International terrorisim is widely expected to cause significant disruptions to global infrastructure as some time in the near future. Any or all of the above effects could result. And this could happen tomorrow...
With the above in mind, I believe it behooves the Princeton Town Council to ensure that our Disaster Preparedness is at an all-time high. When I asked at Town Hall to see the current Disaster Preparedness Plan, I was given only an edited version of the plan (for confidentiality reasons), but this one seemed to have a number of omissions and errors. The list of contact people, for example, has not been updated since before last fall's civic election. By now there should have been at least two updates to the position held by the town mayor. The question is, how many of the provisions of this plan are incomplete, incorrect, or dated. If we had full-scale disaster tomorrow, are we prepared?

If I am elected to Town Council, I assume I will have full access to all Disaster Preparedness Plans for the Town of Princeton. I will make it a priority to ensure that all such plans are up to date, that any errors or omissions are corrected, and that recommended and required Planning sessions, Tabletop exercises and full-on Disaster Exercises have been and will continue to be conducted in a timely manner.

With my Regards to the People of Princeton
Rob Rubis, Candidate for Council