Archive for the ‘Alberta Politics’ Category

Control + Alt + Delete for many with computers that was how you would escape the screen freeze or blue screen of death. Then have to answer the question if you wanted to restart in safe mode. Alberta thought they were doing that when the United Conservative Party was elected to governance just over a year ago. The traversing of change, the needing to re-invent our economy, and create space for belonging for everyone had stalled many out in the change process in anger and denial.

That was preyed upon by a high centralized bully culture.

Is it the best governance? How many voters have voter remorse as our world class institutions were decimated, the world rebuked our oil and gas sector for the draconian ways we scaled back to, and diversification was cancelled. With announcements of Premier Kenney tomorrow (Monday) around diversifying our economy, one has to simply wonder is it relabeling NDP era policy as UCP to try and win back support, knowing the shenanigans’ of this government I would side on yes.

In the midst of cancel culture though, it raises the question what about governance and politics? Why do we accept shady business and almost zero accountability for actions and behaviours? Have we defaulted to our “colour” must win at all costs in striving for power and be damned the consequences to ourselves and neighbour? Data points to yes.

The ideological lock chain does not help out world, our neighbour or ourselves. It locks us into false dichotomy for solutions with no robust discussion on topics and research. It leads to school yard tattle tale gotcha moments that can deflect from the ongoing ineptitude in governance for all Albertans (insert your context here as I am sure you have examples). The rallying cry for engagement has always been the least you can do is vote.

NO! That’s not the least you can do, showing up and putting an “x” beside the party name, as you say it’s the leader not the local representative doesn’t matter—oh but it does. For when the leader with the centralized power is off base, it is the local members that need to hold them to account, and within the Westminster System have the power to replace.

Knowing the character of the person wanting to represent your party is important. Do they show up for debates and events? Do they live locally and have their kids in the public institutions? Are they a parachute candidate from somewhere else? A paper candidate or flag bearer (just letting their name stand on the ballot)… all these things are important and need to be understood, for if we move beyond gotcha, to the ability to demand better choices we begin to engage. In the last federal election the Greens and Cons played games with voters with the gotcha era pretending to fire candidates, and then election day people were shocked they were still on the ballot, once confirmed you are confirmed. Know our system, the local constituency associations need to take seriously a candidate search and are the main point of vetting for the best to represent… are they doing their job?

What if the ballots were party blind? No parties listed, just names, how would you choose your representative? You’d actually have to get to know them, and the volunteers behaviour would reflect directly on them…those that espouse ableist, rascist, queer hate, misogynistic views would be held to account. Also, knowing they could not fly under the party colours how much more seriously would the local EDA’s take the vetting? Would all parties be fielding full slates? Or would their be times if a candidate had to be of good character and active in the election period to stay on the ballot (i.e. 3 debates planned must make 2 or are deleted)…would we get a better crop (and I do believe a ranked ballot would aid the process even more).

Cancel culture when used well and targeted appropriately can bring about positive change. It needs to hyper focus on our political systems, demand better choices, push media to remove the voice of opinion from policy, and close off the options for populist-extremism on either side to be shuttered away, to create space for robust discussion of the issues, and the big questions on why and how? The voice to strip the centralized power from the First Minister’s office (Prime Minister and Premier), to re-empower the local representative, remove the party whip, and allow the local voices to come together to create consensus policy for the whole.

The least we can do is to open the conversation and share why things matter and are important, to create a space for healthy, robust debate and dialogue so that come election day, it is not an adversarial approach to save our own fragile egos that our team needs to win like some Stanley Cup play off round, but be able to say the local candidate with the best ideas is the one that was voted for and elected.

Ready to do the least for the vote?

If you’re interested in being a part of the reboot of our province, I encourage you to check out

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The days tick by

some merge into others, or vanish completely

why count one would ask?

Simply to keep a record,

but also as it progresses, one seeks out a new regulation of the daily routine

ritual that emerges

Is it about a new skill set emerging?

Or simply deep diving into the love we shut out with the daily noise

to emerge as a new person

who was meant to be,

shaking off

burning away

the hate of the past

or the niggles of reminiescience from those that raised us.

Today we celebrate the diversity that we were created in,

and use the misnomer of “phobic” but what is phobia? According to the American diagnostic tool for psychology the DSM-V it is this:

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What we are fighting is not a phobia, for a phobia through psychological intervention can be cured, or mitigated…Neigh,

what we have in our world is H-A-T-E- grown out of ignorance, unwillingness to understand diversity, prejudice, bigorty and the need for a “less than” in our world…a subset…. on this day speak in favour of:







For these things destroy fear, which is the root of hate, which is truly what is being spoken against today…

Let us celebrate the beautiful mosaic our brothers and sisters in the human family are!

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Ah, it is always humourous to me how the Christian church in the death throes of Christendom and the spinning out of the Christianities, in their last gasp of Empire fail to realize that in the story of Holy Week, they have become the Roman Empire and the Religious Oppressors that Brother Jesus lived his life of Hope and Love out against. Just looking to the neighbours to the South and the screams of “religious oppression” and the lie of “We can gather, God will heal and protect us” (and yes, I have heard on a remotely minor scale some of this echoed in Canada just not covered–though Calgary’s Street Church—ARGH!!!!–but that is a rant, not the point of this message). The control, and herd mentality that can lead to the end is sad. See being asked to distance, and do things differently is not oppression, it is saying still connect, still worship, still be community, but do it safely and differently.

I mean, read the story of Paul in the Christian Testament pre-conversation for oppression, read the histories of the early church in the Didache…then reflect, and turn back to what is actually being asked not twitter sound bites.

But I digress with my opening, for we are in hope. I have been tracking moments of hope in the world currently, of world’s collaborating, of those times idiocy is overcome, of the calling out of that which many would’ve remained silent on within their own movements. Seeing the affirmation of the person at this time as we discuss how best to move forward as a society, seeing what is wrong with some aide plans rolled out, and providing constructive feedback to leaders to improve. For those that would like to continue to reach out to government officials in Canada I guide you to the Reboot Alberta community, and their short teaching around written engagement (and yes Alberta, with our doctors walking out due to our Government’s continued and sustained attack against the medical profession at this time, this is pertinent, for their continued and sustained attack against our exceptional children in education, and for their dehumanizing attack against our most vulnerable in shelters, it is necessary), please read Ken Chapman’s post in Reboot Alberta here. As in ancient times, the personal connection to the issues raise the words importance, and hopefully during this time of isolating where contemplation can open up a heart and mind, we will see even the most ideologically entrenched break and realizing people are not numbers on  balance sheet.

But again, do I digress, or is this real world application for the time of Palm Sunday. A time of celebration in my own family, as both our children chose to engage in God’s love on this day many years ago- a year a part. In our own family tradition, it was not specific denominations that stepped up to offer God Parents, but rather across the Christianities and without label, just a focus on the “love as I have loved you” command Jesus gave in the Gospel of John. The Johannine community as I have written of earlier, was a community of collaboration, interdependence, and focus of service to affirm, lift up and create belonging for all the blessedly diverse Imageo Dei’s of their world.

This is a resounding message within Palm Sunday. Calling for change, living counter to the authoritarian regimes’, helping one another, holding them to account. And then on the day we lift up today, Empire flexed its muscles and held a military parade on one end of the city, while Jesus, humbly entered (John 12:12-19):

12The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. 13They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD!” “Blessed is the king of Israel!” 14Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, as it is written: 15″Do not be afraid, Daughter Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.” 16At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that these things had been done to him. 17Now the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word. 18Many people, because they had heard that he had performed this sign, went out to meet him. 19So the Pharisees said to one another, “See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!”

The gathering of the cast outside of society, those that the actions of government said did not matter. The ultimate demonstration of love, belonging and hope to move forward with. Yes, the powers to be continued to conspire, as we see with some mega churches refusing distancing orders, and some governments Canada thought were friends, banning exports of desperately needed supplies so they can appear in control and in power, but the light is shinning through the shadow cracks, revealing their true character and what truly matters to them—it may look like an S, but it’s not for hope from Krypton it is $$$$$.

Yet the world as a whole pushes back and our story continues.

Will this parade of new way of being together continue?

Will we continue to crack the oppressive darkness and anger that has regressed our change?

We as a world, are at our collective Palm Sunday and ready for what emerges as new birth, when our physical distancing ends and our world has an opportunity to enjoy our Rebirth…

Like a DC Comics hero, what is our core story and values that will be on the table for us to move forward together with?

What a mess the income support sector is within Alberta. It shows how all Alberta governments have missed the point on what is the purpose of these entitlements. The most recent infliction of kicking someone when they need help has happened under the socially conservative, draped in a faux cross governance of the United Conservative Party that decided to move the payment date from 3 working days before months end (where everyone had a 12 month calendar to know when this happens) to the 1st of the month. Obviously a decision made in an ideological echo chamber of folks that have never had to access things like AB Works or AISH.

See, everything when you’re low income involves lining up, you need to line up for the cost adjusted transit passes, when the monies given do not adjust for inflation for food you need to line up for food banks. You need to line up affordable housing, yes these can be paid sometimes directly from the government, but still landlords and bills expect prompt payments or fines are induced. To believe there will be understanding and late fees will not be levied is showing that government bureaucrats and MLA’s do not have to worry if they incur a late fee, constantly. As for landlords, with the RTA late fees can be variable, and an astute landlord is within their rights to issue an eviction notice (14 days, with fees accruing, plus NSF charges) when rent is missed. This is not being vindictive, this is a landlord ensuring that a late payment does not become a missed payment and not tracked properly. Late fees per day I have heard have been anywhere’s from $5 to $100…so yeah, government you are failing to provide care for citizens.

And in my journey over the last few years, those who will have read my post on EI, know that we were in a bind.  So what does this mean? A trip to the AB Works office. Same day I was declined and the staff at the Service Canada office stated that they were only there to keep the computers open for applicants. So I popped in around noon, I knew from my decades of aiding folks in getting this entitlement secured that this was not a time to join the cue. I spoke with the staff member, and asked for a simple checklist of that which I needed to bring in for application. The AB Works staff instructed first step was to come in for intake, where there is no appointments you —wait for it—line up and your name is called like waiting for a table at a restaurant, and all you need is your government issued ID, there is no checklist, there is no efficiency in the system.

Came back the next day, had the intake, was informed my partner needed to be there. But its intake so it was okay, oh and it wasn’t just ID you needed your SIN card too for each adult, and now here’s the checklist, oh you’re looking for work–let’s insult the trades and give you a list of temp agencies because anyone can swing a hammer (have you deep dove into infrastructure structural issues because we do not honour skill sets of people)…also as an intake worker they did not listen to the person in front of them, for I had pointed out my story, my resume redo, and interview skills training and that I was getting job interviews…what they did was hand me a pamphlet for a job seeking skills group… sigh… why is this attitude prevelant? Because it is allowed to be, the first order in the intake, like with Service Canada, is not the person in front of you, rather it is the ideological process, and in Alberta that process has been directive that all applicants are scammers. Considering AB Works only covers housing, utilities and food at what the government assumes it is (and for a single adult housing allowance is $323/month)…and that if you have any retirement savings all that has to be cashed out and used before you can apply (so essentially you are beyond broke when you apply)…well it is definately a scam artists dream I tell you…

And the application appointment from Feb. 13? February 28…and guess what else I was handed– a checklist…oh and did you know the direct deposit forms the banks provide are not “secure” enough for AB Works (though they are for the Canada Revenue Agency) they give you another form the bank needs to fill out and sign. The checklist also includes things like 2 months of bank statements, I get that in our world to verify costs…but what if? Oh, and if you have the family or individual medical supports, they take that card off you at application, and move you to a mail out stubb to use for medications instead while you are on the income portion, when you come off the income portion then they reinstate the card, because all of that makes sense???

Now look at the process, flip it on its ear…if we assume we are here to aid one in need a simple process that they are not scammers, as such we are not trying to waste the person’s time in need who is already doing what they can to survive, and job hunting…what about a simple process of showing up, being handed a form with a simple application where you fill in your name, ab id number, SIN, and Alberta health card, as well as all those of your dependents. Set the amount at survivable so $3,000/month for a family, and return with the direct deposit form.

Better yet, if our provincial government was serious about reducing red tape, they would work with the federal government and other provinces to create a guaranteed basic income administered through the CRA and Service Canada, so that when you’re employed it reduces if you make above a certain amount, and when laid off it kicks back up to the full amount (so for the wealthiest in our nation they would always get $25/month)

Yes, it is thinking outside the box, but it also provides the simplest, best care for citizens, reduces red tape, and maximizes investment, it is like universal health care that includes pharmacare, dental and optical.

But it takes actual leaders that see people, and not micro managers that see balance sheets, decimal points, and deficits without understanding the complexity of living, breathing communities.

I wasn’t that old, it was at a family dinner at my Nan and Granddad’s I remember. The image on the screen, the man in blue and red catching the helicopter…and yes I believed what I had seen on the spinner rack at the Mac’s stores— a man could fly. Christopher Reeve was the embodiment of hope. Superman and Clark Kent. There was a time with this meta-myth I would easily say one was born knowing who Superman was, with the advent of social media and algorithms, and those that only chase “gloomy realness” I am not so sure anymore. There has been many movies (I discount Man of Steel and Batman versus Superman), t.v. shows, cartoons, radio shows, novels, comics (monthly, weekly, comic strips, graphic novels, and collections out there)–and a host of family-Supergirl, Superboy, Bippo the Super-monkey if you will.

Yet at the core, is a hero designed by two Jewish boys. The original iteration was a villain, but by the time Action Comics #1 (1928) hit the newsstands, it was the familiar hero we know today. Superman started out fighting corporate corruption, as a voice and hero for the disenfranchised, the other. He was in PSA’s against racism, and fought the KKK. He would save the multi-verse, and fight to sexual trafficking as well in his career. My most familiar version was the post-crisis one crafted by Calgarian, John Byrne.

But I digress (can you see the fan boy coming through). What is the origin of the Man of Steel? The Man of Tomorrow? And how does it tie into the ancient wisdom stories of the Hebrew Bible and our modern world discourse around climate change today?

The Moses story was the meta-narrative used to craft the origin. Moses as the Hebrew Bible’s book of Exodus, tells us there came a crisis for the Hebrew people in the land of Egypt. Pharaoh did not know the patriarch that had settled them, and he became fearful of the nation within his walls (hearing anything about our current political climate in those words? Fear generation?). As such, Pharaoh set out on an program of genocide by eliminating all male babies of a certain age to ensure a culling. Moses’ family set Moses out in a basket on the river for a safer life, a new life, they did not know if it would work, but they hoped.

Moses was raised as an Egyptian, and upon discovering his roots, became a voice and actor of hope and emancipation for his people.

Jor-El, saw a world ending crisis coming to Krypton. He took his scientific data to the governing council that did not want to act. Did not want to create a panic in the populace. Did not want to believe that nature would conspire to rebel against their unethical dominionist ways. They laughed, they mocked, they used media to discredit him as hokey, call it a farce, fake news, fake facts, that this is all about the normal rhythms of space and their world.

Jor-el and his wife built a rocket to save their son from this self-inflicted genocide of the planet Krypton driven by ignorance. For what would have been the cost to listen? What would have been the cost to make their world and their people healthier by transitioning industries? Supporting one another? Why they would have to change the great Kryptonian ethos of “we’ve always done it this way.”

Kal-el was rocketed to earth. As he grew through puberty and his powers emerged, technology allowed for him to connect with his heritage. He grew, with the support of the core values he was raised with as Clark Kent, into a symbol of hope, and an emancipator for Earth from fear and corruption though the battle was a bit more cyclical than what the Hebrews had–wait—having read the Hebrew Bible, nope it was just as cyclical as that ancient wisdom works share with us.

Both Moses and Superman became hope. Jor-el is a symbol of what happens when we ignore science and truth because it is inconvenient, or disruptive to an echo chamber narrative we want to craft. I may not think climate change will be as catastrophic as the young are predicting, but I am no scientist. Though I have to ask, if we shift gears to a healthier relationship with creation, more of a caretaker than the strip mine dominion approach, back to the actual relationship and entrustment God gave us in Genesis 3 what is the worst that can happen? Cleaner air? Cleaner water? More equitable relationships between nations? Healthier holistic life? Being able to see and be with one another as neighbour?

If it is true and we ignore the end game is Krypton’s. Though there is another end game in the journey no one is addressing, by the voracious and bully focus of climate denial, we are doing something else. We are telling a generation of youth, our leaders now and in the future, that we did not equip them, we do not trust them, they are not valid or valued as members of society. Let that sink in. Aside from austerity measures that are harming the most vulnerable:

we through our lack of ability to discourse and change, are telling our young that they do not matter and then became outraged when their response to Gen X to the Baby Boom is the middle finger.

The question before us on planet earth is simple, who in the origin story of hope do we want to be:

The Kryptonian High Council or Jor-el?

For some, they assume separatism is a new political action in Alberta. These folks forget the historic, Western Block movement; and in the mid-1990’s the conceptual Cascadia with aspects of BC and Seattle. Right now though, it is achieving enough traction to damage our economy, and is being stoked by the rage-o-thon machine.

What is missed though, is that unlike in Quebec, where the separatist movement could almost be seen as Secular-Socialist, within Alberta we have stuck to our rusted Bible Belt (rusted in my opinion because we truly have missed the mark of the gospels, more the “holy” that avoided love in the story of the Good Samaritan, than the Samaritan). Yet this week in the Star, The Freedom Conservative Party (FCP) has announced it is reaching out to other independent minded provincial political parties for a merger. Some may remember the FCP as the party Derek Fildebrandt founded, and ran in the 2019 election after being booted from the UCP caucus– and they would be wrong.

The FCP has a longer history in Alberta than just this cycle. During a freedom of religion spat (around Mormonism) within the Social Credit Party, saw then leader Randy Thornstein resign and by 1999 the Alberta First Party had premiered to offer a more socially conservative home for Blue Tories (Dark Navy Blue Tories?) in the province. This iteration lasted until 2004, when the noir blue Tories then shifted into separatism, and founded their own Separation Party in 2004 (until 2018 and had basically reinvented the Alberta First Party, until 2013 when they shifted back to name Alberta First Party).

In 2018 they once again re-applied to elections Alberta for a name change, to the Western Freedom Party, and then another re-brand via official Elections Alberta to the Freedom Conservative Party.

Now, they are borrowing from the Wildrose Party Play book. See the Wildrose Party, many forget where this part of the UCP merger came from. We need to go back to 2003, when the Alberta First Party was re-branding, Randy Thornstein was on the move again, and this time it was to craft a provincial party, firmly identified with the entity that had replaced the Federal Reform Party, and had a new leader out of Alberta Cabinet, Stockwell Day-The Canadian Alliance. There’s was the Alberta Alliance Party. Their 2004 inaugural campaign slogan was “I blame Ralph”. By 2005 Thornstein was out as Leader, and Paul Hinnman was in, they had motions in 2006 to merge with the Social Credit party that fell apart, when a renewed vigor in the old SoCreds had them wanting to elect members.

The Wildrose Party of Alberta, disaffected with the ability of the Alberta Alliance Party to beat Ed Stelmach’s Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta, had a founding meeting in June 2007 of just shy of 60 folks in Red Deer, and applied for party status.

In January 2008, the Alberta Alliance Party, merged with the Wildrose Party- to create the Wildrose Alliance Party. In 2009 the Wildrose made some strides. In 2012, Danielle Smith was now leader, and had entered the campaign looking like her party would win– many lake of fire and other corruptions scandals would side line victory. In 2014 the party would start to see defections, first MLA Aglin sat as an independent. Then two other MLA in November 2014 crossed the floor to join the governing PC’s. In December, Smith (Leader) and and 8 other Wildrose MLA’s would cross the floor and join the Prentice led PC’s, reducing the party caucus to 5, and looking as the Wildrose was DOA for the 2015 election.

The 2015 election with Brian Jean as Leader of the Wildrose would see them catapult to Official Opposition, to Notley’s NDP Government, and the governing PC’s reduced to 10 seats. In 2017 the backroom-bully style merger politics seen at the federal level when the Conservative Party of Canada was created came to the province for the Wildrose-PC merger that created the United Conservative Party, that would form the government in 2019. Oh and the SoCreds whose internal strife created the journey of creation for the Wildrose Party, the party of governance of 60 years ago, has now been reduced to a redundant Pro-Life Party of Alberta or some such nonsense, a leader’s vanity project.

Come into December 2019, and see Brian Jones, President of the FCP stating the party would be looking for a merger with other separatist parties in the province- Alberta Advantage Party, Wexit Alberta, and Alberta Independence Party to create a unified separatist political party to appeal to voters. The question on the table if this movement unifies will it create a cycle of Separatist-Federalist party in Alberta that does not matter where it falls on the spectrum ala Quebec up until the last election?

As one can see though, splintering and unifying is normal modus operandi on this side of the political spectrum. The challenge for Albertans who are currently struggling in the grief cycle economic change brings upon one’s life and economy is to not allow movements such as this to prey upon us in the anger & denial phases of grief. For this type of ideology does more economic harm, than healing. The challenge is to limit the theatrics, and show the media it is not a story worth covering for we need to re-assert Alberta as a place for citizens, where public education and public health care are great assets for companies to come and invest, where cost of living and quality of life are in harmony, and where we look at full scopes of budgeting which involves looking at not only expenses but incomes (taxes).

Alberta’s public-sector spending ins the lowest in the country in proportion to our economy. We have the lowest number of people working in the public sector as a proportion of our labour force than any other province. So where is the money going and where isn’t it coming from? Alberta is technically out of…

via UCP Lie #2: Government is Spending Beyond Our Means — Reboot Alberta

Sharing the great work from our friends at Reboot Alberta, and the thoughtful Ken Chapman.

Many on the political discourse like to look at other countries. Yes, I can spend my time doing that with what is happening in Hong Kong, Camaroon, Sudan, Ethiopia with the Annuyak, or our neighbours to the South (and yes I realize there is also the EU, and Middle East). But I think we need to address voter apathy here, because voter apathy allows for bad economics and governmental policy. It allows false narratives that governance is like a religion, non-profit or business model…it is neither, but can be all of those things. The current Religious Right ala Social Conservatives in Alberta/Canada that lead the religious charge are a multi-faceted mosaic, mostly good hearted, but are using the Cross or the Crescent (or pick the religious symbol) as a means of stripping away the care of neighbour which underlies most if not all religious belief systems. The ethic of care surrendered in the chasing of political power, and bringing everything down to a debt-credit bank statement style budgeting, and an either-or, us-them analogy that is also perpetuated by the secular-progressive-left.

This is a post I have been struggling to right, because I am religious, I believe in the Holy Trinity, and have shaped my life on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. Politically I fall in the Red Tory to Socialist-Communist leanings, yet I am not made to feel there is a political home there due to the hate I take for my religious beliefs. 

Image may contain: one or more people and textWhile the place where a religious is welcomed does not fit with my core values of what government is supposed to do in care of citizens.  It is what has led me to affiliate with a grassroots organization Reboot Alberta, and continue talking to folks that all levels of governance are important to engage in, and at the very least cast a vote in. Get to know the candidate above the party, understand we have more than 2 parties in Canada and Alberta and discover the party that resonates with you the most. Vote for something not out of fear to stop something.

This is where this ecclectica post began, as I begin ruminating on the City of Calgary and Province of Alberta begin their cuts.

City of Calgary-

We have not learned the lessons of history. We use austerity, and front line cuts as a way to show that we are being “fiscally prudent”, but do not address the burgeoning muffin top of city managers, and the exorbent pensions for City Councillors. Instead we attack the least. This started, as I wrote in Soul Ripples, with the way the City dealt with what is now deemed child sex trafficking when I was in high school, and the ripples it created in youth homelessness, youth gangs, rise, fall and re-rise of neo-naziism, and child sex trafficking.

I was reminded of this short sightedness when dealing with the property tax department as they cancelled my TIPP program in complete violation of the contract. The City did not accept responsibility or fix it. In fact they left it to me to fix, and pay a fee to re-up in the program. Not seeing the ripples of the time it takes a person to accomplish this, and that the re-up fee is directly from my family’s grocery budget as an unexpected expense. If I hadn’t solved the issue, or had been away and missed the deadline all together getting into arrears with property taxes can have the ripple of affecting insurance and mortgages, yet City of Calgary does not care. It is CYA all the way and screw the citizen.

Image may contain: 4 people, textLook at the first wave of austerity they have unleashed? 14 new suburbs, yet cuts to Fire, EMS and Police. In Fact, we are in the midst of a rise in youth gang violence (which actually is modus operandi for the council)…so they also cut free programs like the mobile skate parks, and shutter 2 pools. Places that create safe community for our youth are chopped. The ripple effect? As history has shown us, is more lost youth to the darkness, yet City of Calgary doesn’t care. It’s a CYA to protect themselves not govern the citizens.

Hence, a ripple effect of the current Government of Alberta approach, as municipalities are a function of provincial powers, not an autonomous entity. The current government refuses to release a budget until after the Federal Election. They can use any smoke and mirrors they choose, yet it comes down to the fact they have seen the effects the Ford Government has had on the federal party in Ontario and do not want to cause the same effect here.

Yet, it has created the conversations and actions noted above. Let’s look at the beginning roll outs after the smoke and mirrors of the 5% MLA pay cut, or even before when they attack the lowest paid-but hardest working- cutting minimum wage for youth workers from $15/hr to $13/hr, and now exploring cutting servers wages the same if they serve alcohol. The tax cuts to big oil that led to over 14,000 more job losses. Yup, it is for the people (note sarcasm for those who do not have a British background).

The us-them dichotomy is ringing true as they halted work  the new school curriculum. The new curriculum which was started under the PC Government pre-2015, and continued by the NDP government. Stating that the Alberta Teachers Association and partners were not apt to do this. They stated parents… well I was engaged and spoke about things in the previous curriculum consultations. Yet, lets be real…a good reality check. Who is the best equipped to design curriculum and curriculum delivery? Do you go to the doctor with a bursting appendix and be like, yeah I know this can kill me but really can you deal with my ingrown nail? Same effect here. I have seen the majority rules parental ruin of education. Under Klein it led to no fail policies, it has created a culture within education and society where bullying is so allowable we have 9 year olds committing suicide in Calgary. How about we let those trained in lifespan development, educational theory, pedagogy, curriculum development do their work. The goal of education is a well rounded, functioning life long learner. It is designed for those meant to go on to post-secondary to achieve there, for those meant to be in the skilled trades to thrive and achieve there, and for those not in those two streams to still be life long learners and discoverers so they are able to support the next, current and elder generations. See why educational curriculum in an era of post-truth become such a whack-a-mole? If everyone completes grade 12 (which Alberta has an atrocious track record of) as engaged citizens and critical thinkers, it makes ideological populist movements harder to steal power.

The next is the over 3 million cut to the Calgary Homeless Foundation. Now, yes it is bad, and punishes the most vulnerable. Yet, I want to engage in another conversation of question asking. Why do we have organizations like the CHF? Third Party funders that get government funds and distribute to the sectors. They are funded for a full staffing structure including directors, etc (taking money out of the helping pot)- they have created another organization to own real estate that then master leases to non-profits, so the non-profits don’t build their assets to leverage for clients. The questions that should be asked is, what is the full costing going towards the sector? What changes if they third party funder is removed? What increases in funding go to agencies? What happens if we direct fund the clients? So their decisions direct funds to the agencies they choose to use? How does this transform the sector in truly investing in staff health, staff retention, and increase to front-line staff salary for good human services delivery is built on the trust of relationship.

Yet, as the cut happens, it becomes an austerity measure, another us-them battle. But what happens when we engage and ask? What happens when the marginalized do not allow themselves to be herded into a one-size fits all solution. Admitting that each situation has a myriad of reasons to the now, and takes a mosaic to heal and get to home.

This is also the failure of the debate over the Supervised Safe Consumption Sites.  Location is important. It needs to be accessible to those in need. Yet, it also needs to be controllable. What does this mean? It means that the users need to be safe, the staff need to be safe, and the predators need to be kept out. Is the Sheldon Chumir the best location for this? Location wise, yes. For the other two, no, as it is too open and easily targetted. It is akin to when they moved the safe house for child prostitutes in the early 2000’s onto the actual stroll, the kids could get safety, but the pimps and predators were ringing the bell for them the next night. Perpetuates a cycle of harm acceptance. Now however if we critically look, expand, and create safety for harm reduction then it creates space for keeping people alive, having conversations, niggling out what led to…

Which is the other piece. See it is not safe sites OR treatment. False dichotomy for twitter wanks, and sound bytes. It is both and. It is not harm reduction OR abstinence based programs. It is both and. See, human beings are tricky, some who slip into addiction need the stability of harm reduction and may shift towards abstinence, others to simply survive need a sober environment period. To discredit either is to say that person’s life has no value in our society. But if the goal of harm reduction or abstinence is simply survival then it has missed the mark.

The root of the addiction is trauma. The human system attempting to null the unspeakable pain. This is the other sound byte that annoys me speaking with front line staff. Trauma informed care is not a pass for a person to be abusive, it is understanding where behaviours come from and in the courageous safe space to have conversations around healing, and when something goes awry to be in that type of intimate healing relationship to be held to account.

But that word T-R-A-U-M-A. It is healable. It takes time, it takes trained clinicians. It takes healthy community around a person. No, it is not staying in unhealthy family or community, rather it is knowing where health is and re-planting oneself there. It takes expansion of mental health services, normalization, and giving a damn about one another. It takes the removal of labels, and seeing each other as citizens, but beyond that as a PERSON. We are not monetary transactions, we are people. The simple act of being people, is our inherent value.

The question though, is as are we going to allow this current populist belief system to continue, or are we going to critically engage and challenge what needs to happen. To firmly, accurately, and compassionately call out the false narratives and dichotomies regardless of the institution they exist in and we exist in as members?

Are we willing to truly be person first in this life?

We are in an era of politics where apathy and entrenchment has led to an inability to actually talk to one another if they choose one party colour over another. An era where vandalism, threats and bullying have become common place in our body politic and campaigns. Where one can live in a comfort ability of post-truth. It has led to a disengagement and-or apathy (I mean, c’mon 54-60% turn out are historic highs).

I have been politically active my whole life. We had rambunctious conversations at dinners, over the television news, and at family celebration gatherings on topics such as health care, human rights, feminism, political parties and beliefs (I will not bore you with the details of my journey in political party land where I have been everything from Reform Party to Communist Party-both federally and provincially for those fun stories of my life, and Uncle Ed’s attempt to recruit me to the SoCreds, I refer you to my book- Soul Ripples). Suffice it to say I was more about what party policies were doing to aid citizens than partisanship- though I definitely went more to the progressive-pragmatist end.

I reflect on this journey that saw me run in 2006 as I look at the picture with Jack Layton. I ran for the New Democrats federally, but how my elders responded speaks more to how party’s should function within our democracy. They are to be a function- that is something that is influenced by the members, and elected members. Not simply the automatons of a leader. It is with the former how we get Peace, Order and Good Governance. My Great Uncle Red believed I would be a good Member of Parliament, but in conservative Calgary was concerned of my orange ways. He actually took the time to figure out what it would take to get me on the ballot as a Conservative if I so chose.

Community, family, working together on goals. Having the conversations about why and what makes our country (province) a better place for all. What is the core values. How do we use academics, science and scholars in line with the human factor to come up with the best solutions. But it only happens with community and belonging.

It is bumpiest journey, and where we are at currently politically it is hard to see folks across ideology have discussions. Yet it is possible. This what I was able to be a part of with a new movement, not about a new partisan party, but about connecting citizens, education, discussion and community. It is about taking what we learn through our conversations back into our own political realms or just our own circles of influence, to continue conversations.

The simple pieces of ensuring that our constitutional promise in Canada is held. Our current provincial government doesn’t represent that, but we can get it there. We do that, by being engaged and conversing.

The simple steps build bridges across the chasms of ideological trenches. For once you have had a meal, or even a cuppa with a person and a good conversation– it is hard to paint them as other. is a movement of discovery, learning and connecting across partisanship, and post-partisanship. Check it out–they also have a Facebook page.

It is said Canada is a secular state. What does this mean? It probably began during the Quiet Revolution in Quebec in the early to mid-20th Century which was the assertion of the end of Christendom. What is Christendom? The one force of political religion. That is politics being draped in religious language, much like what Marx wrote out against. It brought Christianity from being a movement of those on the margins of society to the throne of the Empire, when Constantine won the throne under the cross. It held through the schism that created Orthodox and Roman Catholicism, and then the Protestant Reformation where monarchs took the power of the church for themselves from the Pope.

The Quiet Revolution in Quebec stripped political power from the church. During this time, movements like Social Credit grew out of fundamentalist Christendom, the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation was birthed out of progressive fundamentalists and activists…and by the 1960’s with the rise of Trudeaumania, a moderate-Jesuit style Catholicism was back on the scene with Pierre Trudeau as Justice Minister modernizing our laws, then as Prime Minister working towards repatriating the Constitution and moving the Bill of Rights to something governments could play with to enshrining them in the Constitution as a Charter of Rights and Freedoms (he also wanted a Social Charter that the Alberta Government killed in the need for signatories, the social charter would’ve dealt with many of the issues we are facing today). The final authority for the Charter and Constitution was no longer the Monarch, but rather the Supreme Court of Canada.

The Charter was fleshed out in consultations with churches, stake holders, citizens, First Nations and Metis. Trudeau in his philosophical ways, understood there was something intangible that bound us all, and as such this is the opening line:

Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law:

Guarantee of Rights and Freedoms

Our neighbours to the South have an enshrined separation of Church and State. In Canada we have no such thing, our social safety net more often than not begun in a church hall over coffee or tea whether it was suffrage movements, labour rights, government entitlements, public education or public health care (and remember it was a devout Roman Catholic Prime Minister, Paul Martin, who led his government to legalize marriage equality). Yes, there is atrocities within the church that came from the Christendom style movement such atrocities as Conversion Therapy; Residential Schools, by proxy the MMWIG; Lack of Women’s rights (yes, both came from the same source, but different understandings).

Yet, in the death throes of Christendom, we got the Constitution Act, 1982

Recently, the leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition gave a speech listing his values due to the Supremacy of God, and watch the Twitter eruption of how dare he. I have not heard the whole speech, many know my feeling on the corruption within the Conservative Party of Canada that goes back to the anti-members wishes merger under McKay-Harper, but moving on.

What does this mean?

If one has authentic religious beliefs, they drive and shape their life. They cannot compartmentalize them, and nor should they. We have a history in our nation of those across the religious and political spectrum working for the best for the people of Canada. It comes from a community understanding, that our individual rights come with corporate responsibility.  All on the political spectrum are guilty or religious demonetization.

One should understand where one’s values come from. In 2006 when I ran at the Candidate’s debate we were squarely asked about our religious-philosophical beliefs and how it related to the social issues of the time- marriage equality was the big one. To be cleared to be a candidate to run for the NDP I was asked to explain my standing on abortion, and explained why I was pro-choice, and what society’s responsibility was around that. The party did not like the well thought out explanation and had a hard time signing off, yet it was the answer that tied in well with my faith and politics.

Too often discourse publicly or personally of politics and religion are shunned. We want to yell our beliefs in a vacuum. We want pithy answers when asked why. We have lost the ability to debate, to craft healthy arguments and philosophical or legal discourse around issues that arise. We prefer social media yelling matches, and holier than thou stances for and against the way people come to their decisions. We also stand on this idea, that if you default to I believe this because of x,y, or z religious stance then I cannot be challenged. That too is wrong. If you raise it as a point of support, it is debatable, but we need to enter these conversations civilly. We also need to enter these conversations with the understanding the religious are grieving.

What? They are, they are in the anger and denial phase of grieving not willing to let go of the past and understanding that their voice is still valid. It is part of the same choir that has already existed, what has changed is that there is no forced vocabulary because due to social and economic pressure not everyone is in a pew. This is what creates the reactionary anger, and then allows for those to hide within their own echo chambers. Instead of reacting to the language, look what is being spoke of and if the value supported lines up.

Guess what that creates? Collaboration, which then one can say we have this core value as a nation regardless of how you came to the journey to come there. We honour our neighbours completely.

The example that this type of approach can be used with is in Alberta where the Alberta Government has stopped land acknowledgments. This comes most probably out of the heretical Doctrine of Discovery from the era of Christendom. Instead of being able to point out this is a Confession. It is pointing out we all share the land, but we know who our first neighbours were and are working towards reconciliation and a common future. The strong words there resonate with a Christian vocabulary- Confession, Reconciliation. These are concepts that are understood. It shows community.

Is Canada a secular state? Why do we need to label it. We are a multi-cultural mosaic. That includes religious beliefs. The beauty of where we are as a nation, is that religious beliefs, like any beliefs, are not static. They evolve and change over time. We help our neighbour through their anger and grief, we can get to healthier future. We answer anger with anger, hate with hate, it is like fighting a house fire with fire. It does not work. First you provide safety for the affected, then begin the suppression of the blaze. That is creating space for healthy discussion on shared values, and what brought each of us to that point.

Honouring that, and moving forward.

It is the roots of the grand tree that is Canada.

We just need to prune out the dead wood.

Yes this came out of a question I responded to on Twitter as to where all the moderate Christians are, and I pointed out tired of being yelled at by secularists and extremists, when interviewed by media not allowed voice because it is not infotainment enough.