An Ecclectica

Posted: February 21, 2021 by Ty in Current Events
Tags: , , , ,

Ah the polar vortex has lifted, and if not an official chinook arch, the other extreme of climate change has settled in where it is plus 6 celsius on Feb. 21, day 342 of C-tine as I type these words and ponder the state of my province. And wonder, where oh where did the ability of dialogue and critical thought go?

First off, a quick PSA for Albertans to educate yourselves on our Covid-19 restrictions, and how many of our neighbours are in mourning (read here). For the dualistic thinking political ideologue that wants majority party control Federally, and believe you are either Conservative or Liberal– may I point out the Parliamnets that bring the best shifts for citizens (the Constitution Act, 1982, clause of Peace, Order and Good Governance) have been robust minority parliaments, and our pandemic has been no different. I live in Alberta, and know what the Conservatives would have done federally for Canadians (nothing, sorry, neighbour, any aid we have had has come from the Federal level–heal your cognitive dissonance and pitch the anger at the right first minister, our Premier). I also hold, that we would not have seen the same response, if it had been a Liberal majority. I do think the NDP-Greens aided in guiding the response.

A few quick thinks to note on the Federal scene. The media is stoking the Liberals want an election, currently from polls it would be a dicey dice roll that may simply return the status quo of now. If they truly wanted one, it would have been in the Fall of 2020 when they were riding high at close to 50% popularity. So the theatrics of NDP Leader Singh demanding that PM Trudeau not call an election, is simply that theatrics. Yes the PM can go at any time to the Governor General to dissolve Parliament and go to the polls (or currenlty without a GG as we are, to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court), but it is also a minority Parliament, so any time a confidence vote is moved/lost on a bdget matter we go to the polls. Currently, that means the other 4 parties have much more promising to do than the governing party on us going to the polls. What I would say is that Harper & Scheer have both underestimated PM Trudeau in elections (he has a Chretien knack on the trail for connecting), and O’Toole is falling into the same trap. Personally, if the other parties trigger an election during this pandemic because they cannot work it out, I will, for the first time in my life, default to a party vote in my area. If the other parties wanted to be innovative, and truly do not think our current Prime Minister is qualified or has the confidence of the House to govern. Then use the Westminster system, put forward a motion for his resignation and for the Governing party to bring forward 3 names for the house to vote on. But alas, they won’t, because it is not about public service– it is all about power for some in the House (you can decide which, though seeing the filth spewed by Conservative MP |Gallant recently–O’Toole has quite a bit of house cleaning to do before he can say the CPC is a renewed party).

But I digress, as this year Albertans are going to the polls, not to vote on our failed populist experiment perpetuated by anger & denial, that has allowed for rampant individualism, overt racism, oh and tiki torches in the capital with Freedom March organizers sharing images of Charlotte’s nazi march in their propaganda. No, that is another piece of polarization to touch on. We head to the polls for municipal elections, this time around (and I know I say this every time around) it is important to cast an informed vote.

There will be many smoke and mirror isseus brought up to deflect from what actually is necessary. See the smoke & mirror argument coupled with polarization is being leveraged to drive even more voters away. To let apathy shrink the voter support one needs to secure the civic seat, and once secured it is very hard for an incumbent to be unseatedYou will see the polarization/dualist arguments of this candidate or that candidate being a UCP or Lefty slate candidate (which is important to pay attention to, as our polarized lens of the politically) but the deeper question is the character of the candidate. What has their actions show us and their neighbours? The next, is the gun rights (and the new office in Alberta to such), it is a deflection especially rurally, because it removes one from seeing the legislative drive to bankrupt our counties, towns, villages, hamlets and farmers. With all the government money in the O&G basket, our other biggest (and still going) economic engines of farms are being left behind (as well as technology, tourism, education, trades, arts, and the list goes on). Unforutnately it has hit rural Alberta hard, the war on doctors before and even during this pandemic is seeing doctros leaving, which is adversly affecting access to Health Care, the cultivation of division and anti-science is being seen in the rising numbers of Covid cases in an already strained rural hosptial system. The UCP government has said they will not close hospitals as Klein did, yet if there is no staff for them, they cannot function. Discussion on how to attract and retain are a community discussion. How to get the abandoned wells cleaned up, and recoup the lost corporate taxes from the oil companies that our provincial government has said is up to each county to get, or they should just give a by too. The loss of the provincial portion of paying for the RCMP, which adds more costs to the local residents. Plus, the exponential (300-500%) increase in property taxes. A smoke and mirror argument rural neighbours have been sharing is that those in urban centres are seeing the same increase, The new funding formula for public schools gives a slight funding bump to rural schools, if they can retain students but the freedom of choice in education can have private and charter schools move in to take that way, leaving a major hub of community closing (as many communities in Calgary have seen which I will touch on ideas a bit later), we are not, if we were there would be something seriously awry in our system. The question that needs to be asked deeply:

who benefits if our rural neighbours systems go bankrupt? If the hamlet, village, town and county revert back to provincial control? And why does it matter?

In urban elections I am going to come down to the Calgary level. We are already seeing the smoke & mirror B.S. (belief systems) perpetuate. The argument on rampant property tax increases, the cyclical snow removal argument, and the plebiscites (let the incumbents deflect with flouride). We elect councils to make decisions, not to run plebiscites. What will not be discussed at the civic election level, for they do not want full on citizen engagement, what scares incumbents more than anything at the civic level is voter turn out and engagement. The snow removal question is a systems issue. We need a plurality of candidates to win that are pushed to do a complete and independent systems audit of City Management. What roles are necessary? What roles are extrenous? What roles/responsibilities within management can be combined? The fallacy of zero-sum budgetting needs to be removed. It may not be the right term, but with the life that government budgets function like household budgets, it is the practice that unspent money in a budget line from one year leads to the reduction of that budget line the next year. Which truly means that there is no ability to save money. An excellent example, is snow removal, under spending one year should not mean less money the next, it should mean an emergency kitty built up for when–blizzards, Snowmageddon in Septembers, etc. so there is more money to use. As well, has anyone discussed why the city has sold off our equipment to the private sector (a sector that is contracted out for just one pass over a road for clearing, when most in the work know it takes more to do the job properly)? Who believes that when crisis hits the private sector will come in at cost or lower to do the work? We need innovative project leaders in key management roles in the city that can point to the equipment, and envision how it can be used off season, but also know you need to budget for preventative care. Who know, a robust public sector, is actually more accountable to doing the job right, than the private sector. If you have had complaints around roads improperly cleared, or the huge drifts in front of entry points of your block, watch the name on the truck, as I have found with calling in to 311 over the last several winters it is the private contractors. Same with pouring roads, there is a certain way they need to be done for longevity, the private companies that have done and redone and redone and redone 32 ave the last several years show that they are working to contract not to standards.

See what deeper conversations are needed? At the community level we have to discuss what we need from our civic taxes to create robust spaces for connection of the generations, cultivating belonging, and removing socio-economic barriers. How do we as citizens work together and use our money to create healthy community? The greatest prevention for things such as addiction, crime, gangs, racism, ableism, sexism and homophobia? These are the questions we need to engage the candidates with. Ones that are not easily answered with a Quote Tweet. Asking them to actually articulate their core values, and how those values align with the communities they are seeking to represent?

There also needs to be a serious discussion around downtown Calgary. Let’s be honest, the big companies are realizing the towers are not necessary. I can see pop up work spaces in communities (many religious groups and community halls looking for rental income on weekdays, this is a great opportunity post covid), but companies realizing the cost of real estate to have someone do something they can from a now established home office? Nope. What I can see the companies retaining- a key office or two on a top floor with 3-4 conference/meeting areas.

What does this mean? We need a way to use space that mainatains tax revenue, but also solves some other societal ills…things like homelessness, disconnect, day care, food security, and in-home supports for our most vulnerable (as well as universal design). What if the downtown core was re-imagined as multi-purpose buildings. Mixed affordable and market purchase aparments from studio to 6 bedroom (yes families need space, and htose need to be some of the key affordable mortgages). The main floors can have effective access to public washrooms, diners and coffee shops. The next floor up, community space, including playgrounds, the 3rd floor a 24 hour day care/pre-school– why? Not everyone works banker hours mate. Then the rest housing. Oh and the 24 hour day care model needs to be expanded city wide.

You can also look at some buildings that are taller and incorporate schools into them. I would also explore the idea of green energy within the buildings to diversify our grid, and vertical farming for food security. As well, part of the mix of units would need to be for our vulnerable populations- those exiting homelessnes, persons with disabilies, mental illness, and our seniors. As you can see some of the ideas for building use, many connecting points for volunteerism within the rejuvanted core (purpose and connections). As well though, each building can also have a support office, where staff are connected to the tenants who need support, and as they age in place, they are not moved from home to a manor or a lodge or longer term-extended care to palliative, rather the teams move to their homes to remove that stressor from their system. Oh and each diner that is licesned for each building– for those over 65 years old or with disabilities (PDD/AISH) are provided a free meal 3 times a day to aid in food security.

As well, our canidates need to have strong ethical and moral character. We have seen the uncontrolled sprawl in Calgary and the unhealthy impact it has had on core infrastructure, with land developers and their deep pockets to fund campaigns. With the new donation limits and PACs allowed civically and disclosure not enshirned until after the fact, we as citizens have to demand transparency. Candidates need to real time be disclosing who is donating, we need to know what machinations can happen after e-day. I would go as far to say, if a canidate isn’t doing this, community has to organize to shut them out of being platformed. Following the money for control has to be a key tenant of engagement.

A lot to take in isnt’ it? But important discussions, instead of being in anger or denial of our changing world, let’s look at the opportunities that abound…

Same within the school boards. It abhors me the disconnect on this one. How many times I hear from folks, well my kids are not in school so it does not matter, or I don’t have kids– yeah but this is the hub for our society. This is the system that prepares the next wave of support within our society. This is where character is key. Will we have Trustees willing to make the hard calls? Risk being fired by the province to stand on values? Aid in educating the citizens on the reality in the classroom or not have our educators back? A board that truly invests and believes in every student, or simply uses the non-upper class students as props when it sutis them to garner favour? I mean we have a crisis in city high schools of no space, yet we are talking about closing under utilized schools? Where is the innovative leadership? Where is the plurarity of candidates willing for the non-partisan systems audit to create a resposnive and innovative system that is needed? That will remove superintendents that refer to children with disabilities as “its” and that families should be happy with what they have (and a despicable eugenics statement). Why can’t we look at low use schools, and the need of the community to use the other space for revenue? What about looking at the empty space for high schools while we a wait more than the cycle of announced builds from the province?

It takes innovative leadership beyond quote tweets and passing an ideological purity test. It takes actual belief that every child matters. That public education is the place to cultivate belonging and connection, discovery of passions and purpose. A space where we need to have locally a robust liberal arts education with core subjects so each students passions and drive to complete schools at the graded level is there.

It ripples up to the braoder conversation of the adoption of the failed American education funding and choice movements. We need to look to the other provinces here, do private and charter schools exist? Yes. Do they receive tax money? No. Home schooling needs to be tied to the public board to ensure those students can easily go on to post-secondary if they have the passion (University, Vocational College, Tech & Trades Schools). Then we need to have the very tough discussion on merging the Separate (Catholic) and Public boards. I say tough, because when you move beyond the polarized assininess, you realize there is a deeper discussion in the divide, where we can easily get there, but the extremes need to be deplatformed. For this is about our children now, and our provicnes future.

A qucik touch on thoughts for 2023 and the key discussions that need to be had. For us to move beyond anger, hate, denial and polarizations. Here are some key observations and tough discussions, open to any party or independent candidate to adopt:

  1. We need an HST to solve a revenue issue. A simple 2% (Federally, they truly do need to raise back the GST to 7%). This would make a provincial HST 7% (5% GST + 2%).
  2. A robust and fully funded public education system.
  3. Full Universal Health Care (including disability and adaptive devices, Dental, optical, Mental Health) and Pharmacare
  4. UBI needs to be on the table.
  5. Raising the Corporate tax rate back to 14% (and tehn indexing higher rates to market share of the company, for many small businesses are incorporated so we have to understand that nuance).
  6. Investment in R&D and implementation of alternative energy sources for Canadian climates
  7. Econimic Diversification
  8. Paid sick time for the worker
  9. Affordable daycare, the idea of sliding scale from 0-$25/day dependent on income, or better yet simply free, plus a tax break for families that can or need to have an adult at home for their child (oh and we truly need this system to be 24-7, as it needs to align with the economic world it is there to support).
  10. All these things being shown to corporations that it removes these costs from the business’ bottom line so it is more profitable to do business in Alberta.
  11. The biggest discussion, as many over 45 years old are shut of the labour market due to liability, we need to have a robust, fruitful and action oriented discussion around the atrocity that is the Worker’s Compensation Board, how to dismantle it, and what to replace it with that supports employers and employees equitably (and perhaps, a more effective partnership with EI disability).True Red Tape reduction.

To have these hard conversations, we have to move beyond polarization where our side can do no wrong. We have to question within our own movements, we have to engage the scholarhsip and thinkers on the other side(s). We also need at least 3 minotirty legislatures in Alberta to get the work done for new vision and dream casting. With the current known leaders, the best Premeir for the minority in my opion is Ms. Notley, but remember we have the other parties: Alberta LiberalAlberta Party , Green Party of Alberta , Communist Party of Alberta , Wildrose Independence Party , but it still comes back to the local candidate and their character, will they share who they are and why they want to be in public service- not simply be an electoral college vote for the leader (and yes I liked what CPC MP Michael Chong’s bill on reform had federally a few years back, we need to move that provincially and federally as a beginning point).

Just some thoughts, but with your cohorts, start the important conversations and blow clear the smoke, and wipe clean the mirror.s

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