Archive for the ‘Alberta Election 2015’ Category


For those that have followed my winding writing career, they may recall a short-lived e-letter I published in the ealry 2000’s that covered general thoughts, politics, current events, and some short writings. So riding back from Red Deer, AB road trip with the family, and thinking of all the writing projects in my mind, this came to mind as the best format… so without further ado welcome to Ecclectica 2015 edition dear reader.

Spiritual Life April 2015:

It is astounding the liberation of the soul that came over me, as I stood before the Calgary Centre for Spiritual Living on April 19 with my son, and wife. As each of us was asked to share our thoughts around the Centre, my son, who has inspired me to ensure the love of the Cosmic Christ always comes first, scooped the mircrophone, brought his vocal spasticity under control, and very clearly said to the crowd at SAIT’s Orpheus Theatre “Thank you for welcoming me, love you.” And yes the long night of the soul for a journey of home has been found.

It is also unique as this was the month at Unity of Calgary, that the wife and I stumbled across the Metaphysical Bible Courses offered by SEE Outreach, and yes, it has invigorated our family’s historic faith story, with the new fork in the road we are following.

Alberta Votes 2015

  • Election called a year early and reveals the cracks in the 44 year dynasty of PC’s. Not the least of which being Education Minister Gordon Dirks blaming school boards for his decisions, or Premier Jim Prentice showing his sexism at the leader’s debate.
  • Greg Clarke leader of the Alberta Party released a great policy platform that I hope other parties will adopt and make a reality, a reduction of Legislature seats from 87 to 61. I would go even further and say cut them directly in half.
  • It is becoming more and more evident the major cost for the social safety net, health care and public education is the command and control bureaucratic infrastructure. So the easiest way to redirect monies to the core services needed would be to abolish the administrators and management tears between the minister and the local administrator. As well, merge seperate/charter/public schools into one public institution, and force private schools to fund themselves 100% NO PUBLIC FUNDS (oh and the same for private health care inititatives).
  • Please Alberta Liberals, Alberta Party and Green Party following this election cycle aid all citizens and MERGE into one centre-left option.
  • Remember this election has come 1 year early. It was called after poltiical backroom shenanigans that saw the Official Opposition gutted by a mass floor crossing (Yes Wildrose and PC’s why should we trust?), and a budget that put the middle, working and lower Class Albertans ability to afford to live clearly in the target sites, while allowing corporations and the wealthy to continue growing their wealth.
  • May 5, 2015 please make this the election you vote in.

Before May 5, I encourage you to gather with neighbours and friends in your living rooms and kitchens over tea and coffee and discuss the issues, and question the local candidates about what you need from an MLA.

Robert B. Parker Paperdoll

This is just an aside as I have been working at collection Robert B. Parker novels since his passing (I loved them from high school forward). And the re-read of Paperdoll was a great scene that shows how literature can normalize life. It is a scene with Spenser and Farrell (a cop) discussing Farrell’s life partner dying of AIDS. The just is beautiful, as Spenser the penultimate thug, basically lays out to Farrell what a crappy situation he is in to be loosing the one he loves.

Canada Votes 2015

Six months until voters go to the polls Federally, so I encourage you to begin meeting with your neighbours to discuss the state of our Confederation, and how to make it better (remembering the first step is always marking your X on election day).

One of the out there ideas for reform that came from a coffee klatch I was apart of is abolishing the Senate, Governor General and House of Commons altogether and replacing these federal bodies with an annual meeting of provincial and territorial leaders, the 13 gathered would need to elect a chairperson, and then through consensus craft the budget for the coming year.

Taxes: a progressive income tax would be good, increased corporate tax rates, and an simplification of tax structures. Canada Revenue knows if they owe you or you owe them. April 30 just have a bill or cheque come to one’s mail box. In regards to small business and GST, just have it collected and sent. For rebates to private citizens, just knock it off, what a wasteful bureacracy.

Harper continuing Mulroney Era sell off of Canada with this week’s fire sale of the WCB to Saudi Arabia.

Finding Joe–the Hero’s Journey

Calgary Centre for Spiritual Living’s Friday Night Happy Hour was movie night, and the movie was inspiring as it tied modern day teachers, actors, and entrepreneurs into Joseph Campbell’s teachings around the Hero’s Journey.

This brought out two thoughts on my part:

  1. I am re-entering the fun of the late 1980’s run fof Justice League International the era of “One Punch”, “Bwahahahaha”, “Blue  & Gold”, and “oreos” to name but a few. It was a team of quirks that each story cycle had something new discovered, look them up for a fun read.
  2. For my own journey and passions. Chase one’s bliss, the family is working on recreating our vision at home after a few bumpy years of forced sabbatical, and that is moving to a home that is a community hub. Which if all goes as planned will include a little living library in our front lawn, and the back yard being redeveloped as community garden, with a metaphysical bible study in the fall, and sporadic movie nights ourselves.
  3. But the second thought coupled with the Spiritual homecoming, has led to a sense of coming discernment for renewing my pastoral vows within New Thought, and which well of this stream of the river is to be drank from.

Paddington the Movie

The family road trip today that sparked this throw back, enjoyed a trip to Red Deer’s cheap cinema where I could share a piece of my childhood, Paddington Bear, with my kids with the new movie that came out. The prognosis, if you want a fun movie watch it. If you want a movie for a spiritual movie discussion night–watch it. If you want a movie for a family movie night–watch it.

The Paddington Movie is a hero’s journey to discover one’s bliss of belonging in a home and family.

A story all to familair in the West for how ofter it is not achieved. So this week dear reader, spend time discovering and following your bliss.

Spend time, living into and out of a sense of home where ever you find yourself.

-30-


It is a unique thing when one’s vocation and travel patterns intersect with familial history.  As a student, there was a drive within me not only for the academic/theoretical bent but also the practical and pragmatic. Through my monastic formation within Druidery/Buddhism/Franciscanism the practice of pilgrimage was important.

These would intersect while working on my Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts I served building ministries in the city, but also served aiding those without homes rediscovering themselves and what it meant to live in community and home. That’s right I was a humble shelter worker.

On vacations I would explore the history of Canada from coast to coast, doing outreach with those experiencing homelessness and discovering deeper truths of what it meant to be not only a Canadian, but a human being. It was in one of my earliest trips to Winnipeg, AB that I discovered the actual shelter history of Canada, through the Winnipeg Shelter that historically was a Methodist Outreach, and whose most famous lead minister/director was James Shaver Woodsworth.

I must admit this man’s pragmatic theology became a guide for my journey over the past 15 years.  He was one of the members of Canada’s Social Gospel movement; was arrested at the Winnipeg General strike and moved from Orthodox Christianity to Pantheism (although under newer definitions I would say he became Panentheist).  The minister would move from the ministry of the Methodist Church, to planting the Labour church, and his political leanings of socialism would lead him to join, aid in founding, and eventually   lead the new party dubbed the Co-Operative Commonwealth Federation. His political career would come to an end during the Parliamentary vote on Canada going to war with Nazi Germany. It was not because an evil should not be stopped, it was knowing that war as practiced in the world is not about right and wrong, it is about the profiteering of the wealthy and the culling of the poor. Woodsworth was the only Member of Parliament to vote no, it would cost him leadership of the CCF, and his seat.

But why does this man matter?

Why do I digress into travel history?

Simple, for the prophetic life of Woodsworth was shaped through service to others. It was grown out of a shelter environment. He spoke much, yet he also wrote and two of his books still ring true (once you put aside the eugenics stances of his time within): My Neighbour and Stranger at the Gates. Both works of the early 1900’s explore the work of the shelter, and the tie it has to the holistic care of a person.

The shelter debate has lost its historic centre of the narrative, for within both of Woodsworth’s books what is discovered is working with the whole person to aid them in transitioning from one point of their life to the next. Historically the Winnipeg Shelter was for new Canadians coming to settle the prairies. Now remember historically the Prairies and British Columbia were settled on mass to keep the encroachment by our neighbours to the South. Also historically it was an unfertile wasteland, which needed healthy communities for survival.

This was the role of the shelter. It was about aiding new Canadian families to prepare for the trek west, and also to build a new home. Not a house, not a subsistence existence, but a home. A home that was connected to other homes to build a community and thrive as a unit to create and grow a new society that was burgeoning that was Canada.

How did they do this?

They met the new comers where they were at. They discovered and worked to abate health needs. They worked on education, literacy, language, skills training. They looked to the communities where tracts of land were available, start up kits were given, but they also ensured that the community they were settling new families and persons into was a healthy community for them to be a part of and grow.

One just needs to look at the strong socio-cultural roots within sections of Alberta and Saskatchewan to see the effectiveness of historic housing readiness and effective placement in aiding the building of generational homes.

So as citizens this example leads to questions:

  1. What is community to you?
  2. Do you have a community around you?
  3. Do you have what you need to have a healthy life? For you? Love ones?
  4. Do you have a house or a home?
  5. Is the human right for housing or a home?

From my perspective of pilgrimage through history and country, I believe the human right is not for housing, for me it is about the human right of H-O-M-E.

The place where you belong and are safe and loved.


Ah with 29 MLA’s either resigning or running under a different party colour (thank you Wildrose Defection Fleet). And add to that the “needing a new mandate for the rough economic times ahead” jargon from Premier Prentice with the smoke & mirrors of a 5% Cabinet wage roll back, well…the air this end of winter is smelling like Election.

So it is time to shift gears in our conversations from those things under Federal Jurisdiction in the Constitution Act 1982, to those things under the auspices of the provinces. Within Alberta one of the major things is Schools. The lack of space, the “lottery” horror (c’mon I buy a house across the street from a school, I should be able to have my kids cross the road and go to that school), grading, curriculum, use/over use of technology, lack of schools, and general maintenance being on the decline as there is a shift from janitorial and cleaning to “sanitizing”.

Okay so the state is abysmal, and our lovely Education Minister Gordon Dirks won his seat in a by-election by promising his area to fast track schools, and that promise while the Ethics Commissioner cleared him of wrong doing has been back pedalled on.

So what do we know about Alberta schools funding?

Mostly through Casinos.

There is property tax where a home owner can declare Public or Seperate Board. From the Public monies public schools, charter schools and private schools (private schools receive 70% of their funding from taxes) are funded.

Thoughts are to maintain the status quo.

Move to a grade free system for marking or to move back to a more traditional school curriculum to ensure students learn the basics well, or a hybrid of something in the middle.

For funding, it does need to be funded properly, reliant on an overtaxed volunteer pool and economically strapped homes to continually fund raise is insanity. And this is my only statement on school fees: Unconstitutional.

As for bussing fees? This is only an issue because local public schools cannot handle local students. In the case of special needs students who have no choice on the school they attend it is a disgrace that families need to pay to transport.

Now as for governance of schools there are some things to think through and question candidates and parties on:

1) Should we elect school board trustees?

2) Local boards or mega boards?

3) Eliminate school boards all together and move to a streamlined administrator for each county/city that administers the budgets to local principals and empowers them and the PTA’s to deem hiring choices of staff, etc.

Now comes the touchy questions, what to do with our multiple school systems:

1) Do we strip public monies from private schools?

2) Do we continue to have both public and seperate schools? Charter Schools? Or for better use of monies do we have a plebiscite on merging these all into one streamlined public system?

Even if you do not have children, or yours have grown and left the system, our public education system a cornerstone of a healthy democracy and society. It is where children should learn to care for their community, a public school can become a soul of energy for a community, it is also, and yes this is a scary word, where children learn to value multi-culturalism, and become citizens with healthy and good values. Yes values, morals, ethics, things that aid in building a decent human being. When schools are healthy, and house holds are healthy, and they work together then our children flourish into adults that transform our society for the better.

Where do you stand with the School Question?