Saturday, 24 October 2015

Book review: I Don't Do Poetry

I Don't Do Poetry (2015) is a self-published 94-page book of 42 poems composed from 2007 to 2015, by Tom Kanigan, a 70 year-old British Columbia-born Doukhobor. This is his first book.

Tom admits that while he was a good non-fiction writer, he never believed that he had any creative talent. At age 62, Tom began writing poetry in 2007. The entire book is online as a promotion.
Tom, a graduate of political science and public administration, worked in Ottawa for over 33 years in the Canadian Public Service primarily in Human Resources Management. He resides in Ottawa and winters with his wife Rose in Florida. He says that he regularly shares his poems with creative writing groups in both Florida and Canada, as well as with online writers groups. Tom is also working on a book regarding his family heritage.

Tom Kanigan's poetry is open verse, no punctuation, no structured rhyme. The widely varied 42 poems are clustered into 5 categories in the table of contents: Childhood Memories, Family and Friends, Relationships, Personal Struggles and Growth, and Social and Political commentary.

This is an easy-to-read no nonsense book about love, forgiveness, compassion, of growing up. It is about telling the truth and being genuine with one oneself, with family and the wider community. It is an unfinished journey of self-discovery, always trying to connect the head to the heart.

Tom tries hard to make amends with his alcoholic Dad whom he had a difficult relationship with him while he was still alive. He also critically looks at his roots in a small community, but with time and distance he comes to terms with them. Here is an example of the author's rediscovery of his Doukhobor Roots (2013):
Grandma taught me Life lessons
I cherish still
Toil and Peaceful Life
Loving Thy Neighbour as Thyself
Simple Fun
True Generosity
The Spirit of God
In us all. [Page 36]
About Lev N. Tolstoy (2015), the renowned Russian international writer, philosopher and peace activist, here is an excerpt:
For Tolstoy
As for the Doukhobors
Love is central to human relations
The creation of a society based on
Goodness Equality and Justice for all.
I want to know more
About this Fabulous Man [Page 25]
On the 'Politics of Fear' (2008), Tom Kanigan questions the billions spent on the war on terror. He sees the need for politicians to put an end to war and courageously lead the way with a real human agenda for the common good:
Could some be used for
Fixing Medicare
Eradicating Global Poverty
Diseases like Aids and Malaria
Global Warming and the Environment
Anger Management for us all
If we succumb to
Irrational Fears
Ignoring other Ills
Though real
Have the Terrorists won [Page 82]
Tom Kanigan's book is worth a read. It was published in 2015, and is presented in softcover and eBook formats (ISBN: 978-1-5144-1171-1 and 978-1-5144-1170-4). Available at for $15.95.

See Tom's other work:
  1. Newcomer to Poetry. August 3, 2014. — With early versions of Doukhobor Roots and Politics of Fear.
  2. Tracing My Doukhobor Heritage. July 14, 2014.
  3. Aunt Olga Ogloff — Canadian Citizen at 86. July 15, 2014.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Vote for Good Government

Cross-Canada Harperman Sing-Along
After almost 10 years in office, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Conservative government have become a political liability for many Canadian citizens at the time when the country is facing a federal election on October 19th, 2015. This dissatisfaction was highlighted with 100s of people participating in two high profile events here in Ottawa to influence votes:

Memorial March for the Victims of Harperism
I attended both events, heard the sounds of deep dissatisfaction and photographed the discord. See my 36 photos of Cross-Canada Harperman Sing-Along, and  134 photos of the Memorial March for the Victims of Harperism. See links to multimedia coverage by 7 other journalists, 1000+ photos.

It now seems that the Harper Government has managed to alienate many of its citizens with a series of scandals, paranoid behaviours and secrecy, using fear as a controlling mechanism in governing, and public embarrassment in the lack of diplomacy on the world stage — with 'no credibility with essential players'.
  • The Mike Duffy affair for improperly claiming over $90,000 of living expenses was an exercise in public deception.
  • The Conservative Senate fiascos since 2007 have brought dishonour to this Parliamentary institution. Perhaps now is the time to consider dissolving the Senate.
  • The ill-defined Bill-C51 was an overkill reaction to handling crimes, resulting in a threat to civil rights. Much of the Government's spin on terrorism and security is a hijacking tactic for votes.
  • Scientists and others have been muzzled from speaking out, resulting in a climate of fear and intimidation in the civil service.
  • Greatly cutting the budget of CBC has reduced the capacity to report accurately indepth news abroad.
  • The close of the long form Census was a reflection of the Conservative’s negative attitude towards science.
  • Closing down the Canadian Wheat Board has hurt many prairie farmers, resulting in lower prices of grain and erratic transportation schedules. 
  • Bill C-42 was an attack on citizenship, giving the power to the government to deport any citizen at its will.
  • The Auditor General exposed 'unprecedented incompetence' on the F-35 plane procurement scandal.
  • Rejection of the UN Kyoto Protocol to climate change was a slap on our commitment to clean up our environment. Climate change is a matter of human rights such as the right to life, the right to health, the right to adequate food and the right to water.
  • Shutting down parliamentary debate on important issues by using omnibus bills is a travesty of democracy.
  • The government was implicated in the 2011 Canadian federal election voter suppression scandal known as Robocall.
  • Lacking diplomacy on the world stage is not in keeping with the behaviour of a good statesmen. An example of this is Harper’s uncouth behaviour towards President Vladimir Putin of Russia. Remember that civilized people talk.
  • In November 2014, a resolution was brought before the United Nations that condemned Nazism. It was opposed by Canada, the US and Ukraine. What is the point of having Remembrance Day if nothing is remembered?
  • Militarizing Canadian society has been a cost to our stature in the world as a peace-keeping country. We need to awaken our consciousness about who we are, and what we need to do to regain our voice and leadership role for peace in the global community.
The list of missteps by the Conservative Government in Canada goes on. It is time for a change. Good government is urgently needed to meet the many human needs of our citizens and to bring civility and real democracy to the country.

On October 19th Canadians have an opportunity to go to the polls. ‘Vote for honest politicians’ advises Paul Maillet of the Center for Ethics Peace Services. Yes, stand up and be counted! Let us reclaim our country as one that is respected around the world for its honesty, good governance, universal health care, clean environment and a supporter of nonkilling peace.

  1. Harperman writer decides it’s time to go, sing out for change, by Kathryn May, Ottawa Citizen, October 3, 2015: A9.
  2. Open Letter to Canadians. Time To Re-Establish Canada As A Global Citizen For Peace, by Paul Maillet, Center for Ethics - Peace Services, Unpublished Ottawa, October 3, 2015.
  3. Steve Paikin, The Agenda, TVO. Michael Harris: Harper in the Hot Seat. YouTube, 30 minutes, 2015. 
  4. Teresa Healy and Stuart Trew (editors). The Harper Record 2008 - 2015
  5. Ed Finn (ed.). Canada after Harper: His ideology-fuelled attack on Canadian society and values, and how we can resist and create the country we want. 2015. See review by Meg Borthwick in, Oct. 8, 2015.