Archive for the ‘Canadian Politics’ Category


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.

 

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I have been following one of my hobbies semi-closely as of late…that being politics. It is semi-closely due to the ideological entrenchments, vindictiveness, and seeking of power for power that is a bit of a turn off currently. However, that bit of a turn off is why citizens need to engage to hold these parties accountable that are acting like sandbox bullies in a pre-school.

In Ontario we are 5 months into a Doug Ford Progressive Conservative Government, and not seeing either progressive or conservative policies coming to the surface. There is MPP’s under investigation in the governing party, rumours that at least seven are about to defect (could be upwards to 14 which would sink the majority)…one already has, placing citizens she represents over party politics and the faux standing ovations her party is whipped to do. Yet that is not what has touched on me to write tonight.

Neither here in Alberta the UCP and NDP using an Alberta Party motion to curtail oil production to aid a flagging sector. Both parties claiming it is there idea…and well…that is just politics as normal sadly for third party ideas with the governing and official opposition. For decades the Liberals and Progressive Conservatives federally did it with the “conscience of Parliament” the CCF then NDP. But that is not why I am writing.

Or that the UCP continue to holds to the idea of a massive majority due to polls. Even though those same polls show numbers shrinking for the party and the leader. As well, the short term memory issue of the polls in the last 3 elections in Alberta that respectively were projecting majorities for the Wildrose, the Wildrose, and the PC. What happened for governance was PC, PC, and NDP. Sooo polling in Alberta not so good. But that is not what brought me to write.

It was a piece on the Prince Edward Island Green Party. Within the next 11 months there is to be a provincial election. The Progressive Conservatives are idle and imploding not being able to keep a leader. The governing Liberal Party has been in power 11 years, and even with a new leader is looking tired. The NDP has only ever held one seat in 1996. The Greens appear to make a break through, and possibly form a government. Yes it would historically be the first Green Party government within Canada. The major thrust being that they are not the same old tired song, but also the PEI Greens have done admirably what other Greens in Canada have not been able to do– show their whole platform with strong local candidates.

Having said that, I do think the Green Party of Canada, under Elizabeth May’s leadership could be the surprise of the 2019 federal election in October. Partly due to the introversion of the Scheer Cons, and the lost path of the Singh NDP. What it will take though is strong local riding candidates from a diverse background known in their area. It will also take getting their non-environmental policies on the table to show the strong Red Tory-Blue Grit style policy the party creates. Thus showing it as a strong centrist option to Trudeau’s Liberals. The topping on the cake for this decades old federal party would be getting key endorsements from patriarchs and matriarchs of the Progressive Conservative movement of yore: Rt. Hon. Brian Mulroney, Rt. Hon. Joe Clark, Rt. Hon. Kim Campbell. Perhaps even swing to the Liberals and see if the Rt. Hon. Paul Martin will endorse. Lastly, with the reading done in Preston Manning’s theology around social justice and environment it is highly plausible they may be able to get an endorsement by the father of Reform, the Hon. Preston Manning.

If these things could align, knowing May will be in the leaders debate it could shake up Parliament from the same old same old.

 


The Constitution Act 1982 does not speak of political parties, what it does promise is that at each level of governance Canadians are guaranteed peace, order and good governance. In fact it has been a transformational journey of our young Westminster Parliament compared to others, but we can still learn a lot from the “Mother” parliament of the UK, and other styled parliaments within the Commonwealth.

Australia Broadcasting Corporation poked fun at their system in the Fifth and Final season of Rake, that saw Cleaver Greene as a senator, and a rapid succession of Prime Ministers as the party caucus members that controlled kept cycling through to find the one that “worked”.

Canada has been seen as one of the most “party” controlled parliaments, in fact, more likely, Leader and their circle controlled. Now you can rebut and say party members elect the leader, yes, but after that what happens? What if the person in the House or Legislature is not up to the job? Do elected members have an ability to make a good change? How is the first minister chosen? We have defaulted to the leader of the party with the most seats.

Image result for turning parliament inside outAre there ideas for changing things? A multi-party work came out in 2017 that shone some lights on change: Turning Parliament Inside Out: Practical Ideas for Reforming Canada’s Democracy (Douglas & McIntyre); editors: Michael Chong, Scott Simms and Kennedy Stewart. The book was forwarded by Bob Rae, Ed Broadbent and Preston Manning. It has submissions from Members of Parliament across party lines (including Elizabeth May). For most politico it is nothing astonishing, it is a solid collection of 8 ways to give power back to elected representatives and decentralize from the leaders (and by extension PMO in governance) office. The eight essays are easy to follow, well laid out, and easy to discuss for those involved in the systems of politics and those not.

For EDA’s; and parties I would encourage reading and discussion groups on the topics. For the non-partisan, get a few friends together to read and discuss the ideas. Even better is that it can be used as a starting point for discussions on what reforms (minor to major) that need to happen.

Such things as the “official party” seat number is just a function, not a rule. How are questions taken/answered in question period? How to get more people involved as candidates? And the list can go on.

What are your thoughts on Parliamentary/Legislature reform?

What steps can happen at the local level?

What can happen within parties?

The conversation of change that threatens power can be a scary one. Mostly because it comes down to the reality that moving forward there will be those accessing power, you were not allowed access to in the same moments of your journey. Yet for constitutional health of our nation, it is a conversation that leads to action that needs to happen.

And it simply begins with talking over a cup of coffee…like so many political movements that shaped our nation and world….

One cup. One conversation.


One gets a perspective on the world when they are engaged working with those without voice to discover voice. Whether it is a certain population, community, spiritualist, sectarian or political movement… or a child. It is the little moments when kindess can be modeled and taught. It is a proven fact cited by many sources and many times over (learned while a mentor with the Alberta Mentor Foundation for Youth; and re-integration mentor with Calgary Young Offender’s Centre) that an adult committing 1 hour a week minimum in a positive way into a child/adolescent’s life can change that life for the better.

Yet too often as adults we drop the ball horribly. I am not yearning for yesteryear, but publicly there was accepted behaviours, privately–well I am glad the roof has been blown off the private abuse. BUT we still need to understand what it means to be, well, human and to be a good citizen. This is the investment, the colloquially it takes a village, for we all need to participate. Unfortunately the extremism of Right/Left political spectrum helicopter parenting/parents-rights movements have shattered this ability.

What am I speaking of?

We no longer understand the simplicity. And as a community will no longer call out and hold accountable bad behaviour, but rather will seek the most expedient method responsible for ending conflict, even (and usually does) mean removing the voice of the bullied.

If we can’t understand yes means yes, no means no in sharing toys of snacks…

In schools we tackle the “no sharing rule” or the “only sharing with those that you play with outside of school. Yet we do not address the harassment that comes with “No” for the person who brings the snack and maybe does not want to share with someone. It is the movement of independent rights, separated completely from interdependent responsibility.  Reaction is to cancel sharing, or to allow harrassment to continue until the resolution is for the afflicted to give in, or simply feel so scared not to bring something to school as a snack.

This is seen in play groups, when my child would start playing with something, and another child would want it and demand they share. Parents would say our child was mean when they would continue playing until done, then pass on. “That’s not sharing”. Yes, that is sharing, she/he did not want to play with your child, but the toy, the time was up, and passed on to the next in line. Watching your child harass the other child until they are reduced to tears or pass the toy over, or attempt to share only to have your child walk away without you saying anything teaches nothing but that the most important needs in the world are the ones of your child.

Same repeat story in the Public Libraries with technology, the card allows for x numbers of minutes for each cardholder. One child’s time is not more valuable than another, they may choose to play together (kids have a knack for finding friends adults will never see–a maybe or yes to creating a better world), but also no is a proper answer and waiting your turn is a proper answer. Child or adult harassing or shaming the one using the device is not the proper response to no or wait your turn please. Staff watching this behaviour and not interceding shows that this behaviour is acceptable and will be tolerated in public with no repercussions.

The other piece is the “teach abuser grooming behaviour for victim” where the apology is not actually acknowledging what was done was wrong (ala I am sorry you felt that way, or (insert rationale to my behaviour here) or blame the situation or purchase the “sorry you are mad at me present”.

These are behaviours in our children. If we cannot get them before adolescence to understand simple things like Yes means yes, no means no. Taking turns is sharing. You are not the only/most important individual in the world. In a community everyone has value.

HOW ARE WE TO GET THEM TO UNDERSTAND:

  1. Significant others do not owe you sex.
  2. When you ask someone out, you are not entitled to a yes…they can say no…then leave them be.
  3. Domestic violence is wrong.
  4. Emotional/verbal/spiritual harassment-abuse-manipulation is wrong
  5. Involuntary Celibates (or any other hate adjective) really is simply you are the ass no one wants to be around. It is time for self-reflection not violence (so no the van driver in Toronto and the Texas School shooter are not the victims, they are the violence bringers).

Consent is fairly simple. Yes many generations in general have struggled with it to the detriment of humanity, and harm of many persons. We are at a point in time where that needs to change, the movements have been subtle and overt to bring this change. How do I know this? Look at the resistance building to change, it is at a tipping point for a better world for our children.

The better world. That what is to be built upon the world we have for the next generation, 7 generations down.

Let old ideas melt away, new ones take root and grow fully. Learn from what is being born, and be the person.

As our village raises this generation, we need to be part of the positive tipping point.

Will you?

 

 


I was gladdened a few weeks ago when the newest affordable housing complex in Calgary broke ground that the government corrected the service provider gently on the use of terms. It was deemed by the service provider as “permanent supportive housing” yet the MLA (Member of Legislative Assembly), when announcing pointed to it as “permanent housing with supports”. Many will think this is just semantics b.s. that does not amount to anything but hair splitting. But it matters for the terms lead to the conditions which lead to the ability to create healthy communities through an interconnection of healthy interdependent citizens and their homes. It is the terms and conditions which outline the corporate and personal responsibilities for all stake holders.

Despite the long battle the City Council of Calgary had over secondary suites, and folks attempting to justify who their neighbours should be through red tape, let us be honest—we all have good or not so good neighbours—it has nothing to do with how they live (rent/own) but rather other life events that have shaped their personality. (and yes I am gladly awaiting new neighbours with secondary suites, and lane-way/mini housing). This is the hitch, and why words matter when describing housing (or as one round table for the federal government on housing in Calgary phrased it with member of Parliament (for Calgary Centre and at that time Cabinet Minister) Kent Hehr, spectrum of homes which is not just rental, but ownership).

I look to my own neighborhood. It is a mash up of group homes; long term care; seniors residence; affordable housing (which is a spectrum from near market; percentage off market to geared to income) rentals; family and friends couch surfing; shared accommodations; at one point I am sure folks residing in hotels; market rentals; condos; townhouses and houses (owned/rented).   As noted in rental there is different ways rents can be figured in; same with seniors or assisted living facilities or group homes, ½ way houses; Supportive Roommates (supported independent/interdependent living), sober housing and harm reduction (sometimes sadly becomes harm acceptance). All rolled up for singles; couples; roomies; and families (sometimes fur family allowable, sometimes not). As well, home ownership which can be straight through Canadian Mortgage; Habitat for Humanity style ownership or Affordable Homes (or perhaps another way I have not heard of yet).

These ways have a qualifying mechanism which can be as simple as credit/debt ratios to sweat equity to income levels to medical and/or care provisions. Each, depending on where they fall on the spectrum; have rules, regulations and laws that govern contractual obligations, complaint mechanisms, accountability tools, acts and levels of government that may or may not oversee, whom to seek out for conflict resolution or mediation. Essentially it lays out in computer terms for apps the terms and conditions. That is what are the rights and responsibilities for the owner/service providers/landlord/tenant/owner while building a healthy home, and when the need arises through positive or negative means—transitions out of that home to the next.

The contractual obligations before signing, while signed and at dissolution.

This is why I applaud the NDP (New Democratic Party) government in their subtle caring way for reminding us of that. In this example Permanent Supportive Housing falls under a legislative licensing act in Alberta which has a ministry; specific protocols of provision (i.e. housekeeping and/or meals); and a very specific anonymous tip line for complaints to protect the resident. This aids the tenant and the staff of the facility. For it lets the staff know their rights and responsibilities, also for the tenant, it allows their rights and responsibilities to be clearly understood and known by not only them but their circles of support (professionals paid to be in their lives, and social supports ala family, friends and chosen family).

The terms and conditions allows one when seeking a home, whether it is moving from one tenancy to the next, or into care or out of shelter to understand that what they are needing/looking/qualify for…is what is being offered by the operator and/or property.

Seek clarity, on what specifically the terms and conditions are.

More precisely, seek clarity on what this means for the rights and responsibilities of all involved in the contractual arrangement.

By knowing this. By being informed. It allows for a healthy home to flourish for the individual, couple, roomies or family…and by proxy be a healthy piece of the puzzle for the growth of healthy communities in truly living out the understanding of being and knowing neighbour.

Ty Ragan Psy.D. has worked many decades as a community builder in many styles of housing  for what many would term vulnerable populations, but are always someone’s neighbour seeking a healthy home.


It has been awhile since I have written a mass recommendation for group change theory work. The last time was Irshad Manji’s (2005) The Trouble with Islam where I encouraged groups of all stripes to read this memoir calling for transformation, and then compare/contrast it to their own journeys—that is replace Islam with whatever belief system one held and see where growth and transformation was needed no matter how regressive or progressive the system was.

There is a cancer in the city’s corridors of power. It is a cancer that is spreading…a system that is corrupt as it is incompetent.

The cancer is a toxic mix of neo-Nazism, white supremacy and a hate group that literally seeks to wipe away everything that is modern and urban, and start all over again in a primitive, Far Right nirvana that will only accept so called “Aryans”. And the organization that is supposed to be preventing this? The organization that is, instead indifferent to this spreading Cancer—or, perhaps, even secretly assisting it?

                                                                                               -(Kinsella, A Recipe for Hate,  p.241)

Today I finally completed Warren Kinsella’s (Dundurn, 2017) A Recipe for Hate is a downright masterful, mystery allegory weaving a mystery tale form the 1977-79 Portland, Maine growing Punk scene, into an allegory for our world today. Yes, I wish I could say it was simply a timepiece mystery, but Nazism and systematic hate appear to be harder to exterminate than 21st century bed bugs.

This is a book I encourage people to read. If you can only read it by yourself, fine, read and process the story. Listen to the rhythm of its soul and what it means for us today. Which character (s) resonate with you? Why? Which do not? Why not? When does this happen in your own life? What instincts may this tell you about yourself in knowing whom to trust? Who has darker secrets at play?

If you can read it in a book group even better, explore the character and system dynamics laid out. If the book group is part of a broader ideology or belief system even better. For the conversation can even deepen:

  • When is our organization like the Punk scene?
  • When do we become the organization (police, schools) that is supposed to stop the spreading cancer? Do we succeed or fail? Or are we frozen?
  • When are we the hate? Or, like the history of the skins, do we allow a segment to be co-opted by the hate?
  • What old hates still fester in community? What new ones go unsaid?

At the root, it is a well written mystery, that will keep you turning the pages. Which is what good fiction is supposed to be. I am not going to reveal many plot points outside of the broad strokes, because I want you to experience the roller coaster with unfiltered eyes.

Truly though, when you enter the story and reflect on any or all the questions, individually or better in a group conversation over coffee my hope is that it becomes the tiny ripples in the pond that change…change our trajectory at this point in history where we are secretly and quietly feeding the cancer once more. Change it to where we finally are the chemo that destroys it and the system moves to recovery and rebuilding in healthier ways.

Basically, know that hate exists. It permeates between what we have seen in the past. It exists across all ideologies and belief systems. It needs to be destroyed. Full stop. We are in this together, neighbours and family.

Let love win, and if it is only this once against systematic cancer hate…then it has won big.


Why can’t there be a big red button?

-War Doctor

           Like any good science fiction questions around the essence of us (humanity) should be brought forward. This is at the bedrock of the Doctor Who 50th anniversary movie (watch trailer here), Day of the Doctor.  It is the deepest plunging into the hardest thing to  comprehend for any person… ourselves.

As the regeneration who chose themselves undeserving of the name, but asks the question as in the clips above, the Warrior Doctor, “I am looking for the Doctor.” The one who is called to heal, to help to aid…or as Clara will note the thrum of the Tardis is a sound of hope. But this is about that corner of the mind of the Doctor, no, the heart where hope has gone out.

For it was in the 9th regeneration that the fabled time war happened. When Daleks and Time Lords went to war to end all wars. Where the rest of the universes saw the Time Lords just as evil as the Daleks who view anything outside their race as need to be exterminated, which this mini-episode Night of the Doctor expertly portrays as the Doctor must make a choice to not be apart of the war or to be apart of the solution?

The haunting begins.

Much like we make choices within our own lives at any given moment with the information available. Whether it is good, bad, horrible or indifferent. It is what is possible and probably for us at that moment. Much like moments in human history (very hard to bring 21st century morals onto situation 400 years old or 150 years old as we try to erase instead of critically teach history so the cycle can be fully broken. Just ask any abuse survivor, the story and triumph need to be spoken so that it will not be repeated, in all its darkness).

This literally becomes the story. As the device designed to end the Time War by the Doctor is AI with a conscience and brings the Doctor to begin interacting with his decision. The decision? At that moment and time in war as the Daleks are all gathered at Gallifrey—to end it all, Daleks and his people. The haunting ripples this will bring through time.

The decision driven by the motto burned into a wall by him “No More.” The war must end.

The journey forward form that choice showing the grief cycle. The short regeneration shortly after not even there. The true shock.

But the struggle between who are known as the Tenth (David Tenant) and Eleventh (Matt Smith) Doctor’s to forget this period in time. How it shapers personality. One who lives in pained regret and the other who lives to forget, to move forward.

The haunting question answered by 2.41 billion.

But with the Eleventh Doctor being 400 years out…is there another decision that can be seen?

What if that decision can be tried?

What if in your moment of darkness your future selves could stand with you and you would not have to be alone?

What if, you live in acceptance of the choice and find hope in spite of it to move forward in a better life for yourself and others?

This may seem like nothing more than a toss away sci-fi movie from the BBC. Apart of geek culture and nothing more.

Yet we live in a time of reconciliation.

A time when groups who have been oppressed and the former oppressors know that something needs to change.

But how do we get there?

Sometimes a science fiction story can show us the interior and exterior journey in a way that creates conversations that can create the space for critical discussion and active listening, that other venues cannot.

Just think of using this in a religious or political or classroom setting with the Time War as the metaphor for residential schools, Canadian Eugenic practices for those with disabilities, the destructive LGBTTQ2+ laws; the dying with dignity or abortion laws; slavery, the list can go on…

For what questions would haunt our journey where the answer 2.41 billion could just be as haunting.

But even more so.

What is the new life?

What is the regeneration that awaits each one of us?

Where does hope exist?

Do you hear the thrum of the TARDIS? Or are you blocking it out?