Archive for the ‘Canadian 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 https://rebootalberta.com/


Hugh Segal has had a long career in public service, both at the Federal Political level, Provincially, and in our Senate Chamber. He was called to the Senate much to his shock, by Prime Minister Paul Martin, a Liberal, and offered the ability in 2004 to sit as either a Progressive Conservative, Conservative, Liberal or Independent, much to his surprise, because usually up to that point vacancies in the appointed chamber were filled through partisan politics. Segal decided to adopt the new brand of the recently merged right at the time and sat as a Conservative, though in 2014 when he left, he was seeing it was not the Tory ship he remembered.

The Wynne government was not perfect nor Tory. Few governments in Canada are “Tory” anymore. Today when I use the word, I refer to Disraeli-like belief in “one nation” politics–a politics that sees as unacceptable the vast difference between those living happy, well-funded lives of travel and luxury and a sub-culture in which people are denied enough to eat, indoor plumbing, time for family, or any enjoyment at all. A Tory respects tradition and the rule of law but sees the reduction of the gap between rich and poor as essential to his or her mission. The Disraeli administration made progress around child labour laws, breaks during the working day, a full weekend off, and other amenities for workers that reduced the pain and hopelessness of poverty. This is what I refer to when I use the word “Tory”. (Segal, 2019, p. 159)

Segal’s (2019) Boot Straps Need Boots: One Tory’s Lonely Fight to End Poverty in Canada opens during his childhood in Quebec, where his toy box has gone missing and it is revealed that his father had given it to a neighbour for fire wood, and the long life journey of unpacking the idea of poverty. Of the work of community to support one another to carry one through, and the role of government. His family’s elder generation was CCF/NDP, his parents was Liberal, and through the whistle stop of Prime Minister John Diefenbaker (A Tory), a young Hugh Segal at 12 years old was converted. Why?

Image result for boot straps need bootsDiefenbaker spoke to his family’s circumstance. Even though everyone in his family supported the “natural governing order” or the incumbents in the safe seats, what is Canada’s equivalent to a British rotten burrough is a good reminder to always question the incumbents, the party, and that there is no natural governing body, but rather a coalition of citizens that need to show they are working for Peace, Order and Good Governance for all Canadians, and what that looks like at the core should be able to cast a vision, have a plan, implement and get support across parties–for opposition sometimes is about right out opposing when it is bad legislation, but on the whole, opposition should be about making governance better, more accountable and transparent.

The need to what the quote of Segal’s from the book at the time the Liberal provincial government of Kathleen Wynne had him come to pilot the Guaranteed Income project (a pilot project scraped by the incoming Doug Ford populist, in PC brand only, governance). It was one of the two interests that drove Segal’s public life. Under the PC Leader Stanfield there was a drive for using solid research and application in public policy. Segal’s writing affixes him as a true Red Tory, he stayed true to his party, in 1998 would run for leader with the party now reduced to 5th place due to the fracture of the coalition and rise of the Bloc Quebecois and Reform Party. Yet a platform to espouse the drive for the Guaranteed Basic Income Model.

A Model that lays out a pathway to prosperity for all citizens in an economic efficiency instead of the layers of government entitlements (four for seniors in Alberta, disability payments, and different income supports at a provincial level). It gears to a tax base allows for a universality of a program to ensure livability. It creates a system of hope, and replaces a system based on paranoia, and exclusion to one of inclusion, and opening up new avenues for citizens to fully participate in economic prosperity.

Aside from the memoir journey that shows his path from childhood, where at 12 years old he was encouraged to contact the leader of each party before making a decision, and sharing how it was Diefenbaker’s office that responded not with a form letter, but a letter, and speeches that centered on the questions he asked. Engagement of the youth, asking questions, seeking out the best evidenced based solutions, understanding the need for collaboration across party lines to effectively make change and positive impacts. This was seen at different points when he wrote of work in minority governments, and the shift in majority (as he was a part of Mulroney’s government)…to a return in the Senate, then stepping back and becoming principal of a college, to his work with Wynne’s government.

The echo is also seeing the unfortunate change, as collaboration dies, the ability to question one’s own movement as well as others in the discourse of ideas (the altruistic evil writers like Jonathan Sacks discourse on) to what it actually means to be a public servant. The memoir unpacks the story of a life work yet to be accomplished, and the question to the reader is, should it be? And yes it should for Canadians as a whole.

Segal, using Ontario as a case in point writes of where we are at in decision making:

Cabinet solidarity after reaching a decision is one thing; having no chance to influence the decision before it is reached is another. This goes beyond right, left or centre. This goes directly to process, inclusion,and the right of ministers to have their say. After all, their oath of allegiance is to the Crown, not the premier or his staff. (p.179).

The closing shows how one over a lifetime can have a moment that inspires to change, even in the moment it is frought with a spectrum of emotions of anger, sadness and confusion. Segal’s toy box moment was this. Anger needs to be released, or it will consume and not allow you to see beyond your own anger, for what is actually the true healthy interdependence of our communities:

I am no longer angry at my Dad. The toy box was all that he had to help a neighbour whose economic straits were even more dire than ours.  I have forgiven you, Dad. In your place at the great cab stand in heaven, I hope you will chuckle at how long it took me to admit it. My father did the right thing. We all need to do the right thing now. (Segal, p.173).

What is the right thing you need to do?

Right now…


As regular readers know I have been on quite a journey since well I turned 38, some symptoms started before, some accelerated after (there’s a memoir you can buy, and a e-book sequel). There was many cheers in my world when I was stamped healed and with high risk of relapse/recidivism if I went back to my old work. Talk about a grief-change cycle after nearly a generation in that field? So the job hunt and vocation re-invention begins.

My Long-Term Disability service provider was good setting me up with a job coach to mitigate the loss issues, learn how to do resumes for the new world, and what a new job hunts looks like. In discussions with my caseworker (my 3rd in 2 years) it was believed I would be able to qualify for EI as the 2 years on LTD would be removed to look at the ROE for the short term disability on EI. As my long term disability expired I applied. Took my papers and information into the local Service Canada office in my neighbourhood (which is 98.5% non-western European descent, so many new Canadians who need competent and qualified staff to aid system navigation, never mind just the simple fact of depression negation by having a person to talk to in the process to break up isolation in general). I spoke with the staff on hand, explaining my situation and the last time I physically worked being 2017 and they showed me to a computer to file, each time a flagged question in my mind came up in regards to the application the staff instructed me to answer for my medical would be taken into account by checking this box. At no time did they say this was an exercise in futility.

Got my Alberta ID and Service Canada account set up. Began the reporting for EI– then on February 11, 2020 I received a curt and short e-mail stating “You do not have the 630 hours necessary in the last year you are denied”. There was no recourse on the account for communication (they say there is an appeal form, but it is buried). And it took quite a bit of surfing to find the phone number to contact at which point the options given simply were electronic voices to speak what was in my e-mail…no option for a person. SO I rolled the luck dice and hit 0, back in the day it meant operator–so human. At which point an electronic voice stated “due to high call volume your call is disconnected.”

Not exactly sitting well, formulating the plans of what needs to happen for my family care in short term, in the grander system scope wanting to understand how there is a disconnect. Having spent years navigating systems in human services, and needing to have short term hard conversations to redirect applicants to appropriate services when the one they want is not appropriate.

What to do? Well, when I was having so many seizures a day I could not focus for short term medical EI I reached out to government, y’know public servants–my MP, the minister over Human Services and the PMO for help, and then follow up in ideas to aid the system to be better. 2 of the players had changed on that list over this time, and I will freely admit God rest his soul, I miss Deepak Obhrai, we did not agree politically but the man and his office knew what it meant to serve the public. Unfortunately his replacement Conservative MP Jasraj Singh Hallan does not. I outlined the situation, and information available, cause and effects, asking about appeal, but at the same time if that was not a recourse, then an explanation as to how this works so I can share it with my insurance provider and others so, other Human Services workers going down for a myriad of reasons and seeking to return are not hit with this blockade. And yes I did cc the CBC on it, for I felt it was an interesting human interest story to compliment the ripple effects of the homelessness epidemic, and opioid crisis from the helper end and how our systems may be in dysfunction.

Today I received a supportive reply from the PM’s staff; nothing from my MP (to put in perspective the message was barely finished last time when Obhrai’s staff was setting up an appointment)…and the Minister Hussen got a Service Canada employee to phone me. Though Rick was an adventure in missing the point of public service, and how to make systems run. He could not understand why anyone would expect a staff member to say do not bother applying you do not qualify, he stated clearly their role was to ensure everyone who wanted to applied and then the system would deem who was eligible, he did not get that a staff being able to simply do a quick screen and referral with someone would be beneficial and healthy for that was not the Role of Service Canada local offices. When questioned on appeal I was directed to the website to find the form and fill in to be sent to the local office, when I pointed out that the local office had no power or authority over the claim he stated that it simply went there to be then sent on to the home office. Asking if it was worth my time to appeal, he stated he could not say yes or no as that was not his role… adventures in missing the point and then we wonder why systems get bogged down, it is not by those who are seeking aid, it is by those paid to support those seeking aid unwilling either personally or via systems that make no sense, to triage and stream appropriately.

I sent a follow up letter to the Hon. Hussein in regards to the EI system and this issue:

To Hon. Hussen:
I am writing in reply to offer up a system analysis of what is not working for EI claims through Service Canada. I spoke with Rick this morning, a Service Canada agent who was unwilling to grasp the concern, and why it creates more stress in already stressful situations for individuals and families, and after decades of experience in human services I would say is a hidden contributing factor to addictions and homelessness (others in Alberta would say it is a contributing factor to domestic violence, but if your copping strategy is to beat your loved ones there is more at play than a government entitlement).
As Rick stated it is all on the crux of the computer algorithm, and this precious 630 hours in the last year worked, which is confirmed by ROE. What is missing is two fold:
1) Someone coming off a medical long term disability does not have the 630 hrs in the last year. Yes, there is a computer question about that, but it only extends the search to the next year, so at most 2 years. A LTD claim to its fullness is 2 years, plus the Short Term Disability of EI, which leaves a person over the 2 year mark. What is necessitated is this understanding in the system to go back to the last worked year based on the ROE which fails an there is no remedial process to account for that.
2) Is that Service Canada staff in the offices are not trained to triage, as Rick stated, any Service Canada staff is not there to judge, but rather to encourage and cheer lead the application and then the decision will be made down the line. Why have Service Canada offices staffed by people then? Folks seek out the personal touch to answer questions and to be honest of whether or not one should take the time to apply for EI and all the following reporting periods or what entitlements work for their situation either federal or provincial. By not taking this time to discern as staff you set up worse stressors and ripple effects, in the moment a person may be disgruntled but in the long run their time and Service Canada’s time are honoured in appropriate applications being made.
The solution is within your ministry to expect actual competent service of employees to citizens to ensure they are applying for the right services, not to be mindless cheer leaders.
Sincerely,
Dr. Ty Ragan
I admit the closing line may have been a bit more harsh, but truly if we have people working with people, they need to be empowered to discover the best outcome for the scenario, and the best outcome is not time and resources of a citizen being eaten up in a fruitless process. I also shared the information with my LTD caseworker to share with her organization, not because I was angry, but simply I wanted to ensure the appropriate information was provided to others and that a full understanding of what would be provided by Service Canada staff to citizens.
More stories to come during this season of vocation reinvention and other systems thoughts for best efficacy for citizen and monies investment.
The other issue though is a Member of Parliament legally obligated to reply to a constituent that did not.

We can debate the technicality of calling Canada a confederation or federation. Yet what is true is that we are a collection of cultures, religions, regions, and nations…some at times have wanted to be declared a distinct society, when the truth is Canada as a whole is a beautiful and distinct mosaic. Currently we are in the midst of what is being hash tagged as shut Canada down. It is beginning and centered in protests in Wet’suwet’en and the “lightning rod” media issue around pipe lines.

Is it truly about pipe lines? Or is it another instance of colonialism dictating what happens and Indigenous voices shut out? Yes and no. Not an answer any one wants to hear. In Canada, as Truth and Reconciliation was not fully actualized (we went through the motions, but didn’t do the work) we are living in dualism. It is the type of dualism, Rabbi Sacks brought out in regards to historic and emergent anti-Semitism. He pointed to the fact of creating the Us-Them dichotomy where one side has to be right and the other has to be wrong. He also pointed out this dualism historically grew anti-semitism in the Christianities for it pointed to the Hebrew Bible God as a lesser being, with the Christian Testament God being superior. Even pointing out the terms Old & New Testaments continue to perpetuate this dualism, and the ability as the Christianities became Christendom under Constantine that Christianity and Rome became all Good (US) and Judaism and the Sanhedrin became Christ Killers–all Bad (Them). He goes on then to unpack that this is being brought into the Middle Eastern political landscape through bad religion and interpretation so Anti-Semitism is taking root in Islam.

Why this matters? Are you able to see the parallels with Colonialism? Settler and First Nation? Civil and savage? The outgrowth in our own politics of the same dualism where one side has to be sacred and the other profane, one holy the other sinner. The last Federal and provincial election cycles were nothing more than mud fists with the race to the lowest common denominator…no vision casting, no dreaming, no talking of foreign and domestic policies to build healthy relations nationally and globally.

Then we wonder why we have blockades? It’s a boiling point of frustration. Sure, some of the protesters may be paid, some may not know why they are their because like sports teams, political and populist movements, there is bandwagoners that join up to be a part of something. In an increasingly isolated world, any glimmer of belonging is what one latches on too.

It is rooted in the story of Canada, passive genocide both cultural and spiritual, inter-generational trauma, reserves, lack of education, soaring suicide rates, boil water advisories, Murdered Missing Indigenous Women and Girls (rampant serial killers targeting our vulnerable and the RCMP not acting), it is `60’s scoops of children to civilize them, residential schools, it is dehumanizing them, using them to fight our wars and when they returned home not allowing them back on reserves and with their families until they were found dead on our streets, shattered languages, over seizure by child welfare, over representation in prisons, high rates of addiction…

It is a government response that was almost, but not even. Talk of repealing the Indian Act since the Trudeau Sr. era. Being able to speak into the Charter of Rights and Freedoms of the 1982 Constitution Act (which started way back when with Louis Riel and the Red River Resistance); The failed Meech Lake and Charlottetown Accords that may or may not have changed things for the better but became too highly politicized behind personalities for a true reading, stable governance, and a passionate Prime Minister on relationship building, Paul Martin, who worked with First Nations to craft the Kelowna Accord that would have radically changed the way our mosaic functions…then 10 years of a rise of old stock Christendom Dominionism that put relations back, if not in law, rather relationship, to when there was still debates if our Indigenous Brothers and Sisters are wards or humans. This was seen through the overturned by the Supreme Court of governmental re-write of environmental laws to push through oil and gas projects, and sell off Crown Land. To the end of the throwback to something new, but stumbling to find its rudder. An inquiry into MMIWG, Inquiry that came so close, but not far enough with no apologies for the flub. A Truth and Reconciliation process concluding with nothing changed or how to get the recommendations implemented. Both the “settler” and the “Indigenous” governmental bodies being discussed inside and outside for corruptions, misuse of funds and powers.

Then the pipeline through B.C.. The lightning rod. The final straw, and the protests began. Some poured over into blockades for transport routes (much like the Yellow Vest movement had done to support Oil & Gas). The forcing of the oil industry on another’s land, unseded. In another time, it could’ve created conversation and exploration as rural farmers are being left to foot the bill of abandoned wells on their land as the Alberta Government feels pity for the great corporations…but in the dualistic Canada it has created disparity, anger, and fuelled hatred. As well, as the challenge of balancing independence, interdependence, and need for economic capital within communities which is why, as in all pieces of our mosaic you cannot paint an act of some as it representing all.

If you want to state civil disobedience is wrong…then if your a woman stop voting, if your a veteran return your benefits, if your a worker give up your benefits and living wages and send your children to work–those are just a few changes for the better that came from Canadians with civil disobedience. The rule of law is thrown around, peaceful protest and gatherings are permitted under our constitution, the blockades are another matter. Yet the answer from the other side is the hammer of force via military (yes the RCMP is a military wing of our armed forces, they are infantry)…and so we see the peaceful protesters arrested and caged which does not help open up collaborative discourse for a peaceful ending, resolution, and healing.

Some have their hate released because of CN Rail saying it is going to lead to lay offs, and their stopping shipping. Yet, it has created a good smoke screen for the corporation that was coming under fire and tighter scrutiny by the Federal Government in their infrastructure up keep to stop the series of fatal derailments that have been plaguing the rails in Canada. They had been speaking of layoffs, and workers talking of strikes before this happened…so did the protests cause? Or are merely a way to build support for the poor corporation? Think, explore, listen and look.

See each other, as person not as Them to your Us.

Finally, we have all sides screaming for political change in Canada, reform of how government operates. I am not going into Prime Minister Trudeau’s seeking of the UN Security Council Seat or his International work during what is happening here. First, the misogynistic attempts by opponents and bully language makes one tune you out. He is doing what needs to happen internationally, let’s look what is happening nationally. The deputy Prime Minister (a woman), and the Premiers are being left to show what leadership looks like in our Constitution. Constitutionally the Prime Minister is within his rights to enact the War Measures Act…and the blood will run. So why not? There is legal and illegal, the War Measures Act is a sledge hammer, and a black and white tool in what is a grey area that requires a surgeon as we traverse the more ethical, what is right and wrong? Why this approach and why are we not able to see why this approach matters? Is it misogyny that does not allow one to see that this is a team/community approach? A rather decolonized approach to reconciliation? That we all need to work together to make our nation healthy and better.

For that is the challenge, when we speak of decolonizing I’m reminded of an interview question I had been asked in regards to it with an institution. I pointed out it is accessing wisdom of elders to compliment teaching and mentorship, but it is also taking the sacred teachings and medicine wheel as the lens (paradigm) we teach through. The response was well we have a class specifically on the Medicine Wheel. Ok, but to break the cycle it is doing things differently, it is not teaching one thing in isolation but showing how you take a value system and use that to craft your practice and your life. If we can apply in our learning and teachings a holistic system that honours creation including the person then we can grow a stronger, healthier nation and communities. It is an ongoing daily examin, adjusting, living and loving.

It can be done with any healthy and positive belief system that allows for healthy community. If done properly it will transform politics, governments and laws.  It is reconciliation after our truth…the way forward together. It is collectively opening up our constitution and saying, what does Canada need to look like for the next 150 years to continue to be a world leader?

There is no easy answers to where we are at now. We are living the grieving process of change. A nation–any community, is a living breathing organism, what we are seeing played out is what happens in our own body’s when change and grief happen. It is what happens when we keep repressing, ignoring warning signs and pushing forward eventually it crashes.

Are we willing to step up and look to the healthy solutions? Are we willing to silence the extremists on both sides in the healing and let the communal good move forward. Let the heart call out the b.s. (belief systems–or fertilizer, it is both). That is the crux of the matter. Will we give in to dualism, and the eventuality of altruistic evil

or

Are we strong enough as a nation, to live what we profess to believe?

 

 


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?


What’s a fin you ask? Old slang for a fiver. That’s right the Bank of Canada is seeking input on whom should replace our first Francophone Prime Minister Laurier (also the one that gets Spocked) on our five dollar bill. I have heard thoughts for Celine Dion, Louis Riel, Tommy Douglas, Ryan Reynolds, Don Cherry, Terry Fox and Agnes MacPhail. But I think there is someone that would speak to our history and current state, and become a symbol for moving forward as one nation from a mosaic of many. In one of my callings as a children and youth pastor I did a discipleship devotional series on historic Canadians, regardless of religious affiliation, that showed a Jesus character. it was a means to show the kids, youth and volunteers that character matters more than vocal protestations.

Image result for chief crowfoot

Would this not be a powerful image on our 5 dollar bill?

Within the series, I shared on one of the First Nations historic leaders in Alberta, Chief Crowfoot. His character was instrumental in the writing of Treaty 7, a treaty that was approached a bit more collaboratively historically than the other treaties, as the Canadian Government was not entering into it as a conquering nation.

Crowfoot understood the ebbs and flows of change that things like the railroad brought, the request for the North-West Mounted Police to deal with the Whiskey Traders whose trade was rapidly destroying his people. He understood the ask when Riel and Dumont wanted him to join the Batoche Rebellion, where the world was, what had changed since the Red River Resistance, and the wisdom needed to say no t the ask– to stand outside– even though his heart probably supported the cause. Such a wise and powerful leader, that he was known by Queen Victoria, and had Royal attendance at his funeral.

In our era of Truth & Reconciliation, where the truth has been told, and now as a nation of nations we need to move forward together in a common good…Crowfoot’s wisdom still is in need today. A nation that has divides based on those that do not want to see change has and is happening, a new path of being and diplomacy, not the same old story, a care for creation, an understanding that decisions made are not always about the here and now, but stretching out 7 generations for the world, and confederation we want.

It is a rallying call to unity. It is a rallying call to working together. It is showing that we are honouring all who are apart of the mosaic of Canada. The choice shows the “disaffected” west, that they are honoured, while at the same time showing that it is not just a “settler” nation.

Some may say this choice on my part is political. They may be partly right, but then, is it not time we create symbols whether financial or communal that show the best of our nation? That show that reconciliation is not only possible, but where we are at our best? In an era of ongoing ideological entrenchment, it is time to shatter the walls, flood the trenches, and tell the robust story of all within this beautiful mosaic.

Chief Crowfoot’s life and legacy is what Canada’s meta-narrative has always been about…let’s make that narrative reality. One simple change at a time.


Micah, it is not just a title of a church social justice project. Micah is a minor prophet in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament), and was a writing prophet. He is minor in that his work in the biblical library is short, but important. See Micah spans two periods within the history of Israel-Judah– the ending of the divided kingdom (Israel/Judah) and the continuation of Judah alone as Israel (and begin hypothesis about what happened to the missing tribes).

Micah’s messages are written poetically, and call upon the people to re-discover and re-new their core values. To move away from that which divided which was wanting to be that which they were not. It was the drive to have a king that led to David’s kingdom, then after his atrocities, his son, Solomon, and following him the division.

See the writings of the Prophets, like the Christian Testament Gospels, are a source of hope, and dreaming for those who know what a just world built on love, hope, faith and joy is to be. It is one we continually move away from with our fear mongering, much how the kingdom of Israel remained divided. That of not being like the other. It sowed discouragement and dissent. Seeds of discouragement are the easiest to take root in a person, community and nation because they move so insidiously quick.

Seeing any parallels with our current Federal Election? Deep entrenchments and divisions, fear mongering, hate (the antithesis of love and hope); choosing people that are “outcast/less deserving”. It is the world of the Prophets, the political. The circumstance that Micah was writing and speaking in to. It is not about stating how one should vote, rather it is about saying that one does vote, but not to stop something, not out of discouragement.

Centre yourself in gratitude and thankfulness for what Canada is, as a collective mosaic (yes there are forces in Alberta and Quebec that scream like the Southern-Northern Kingdoms for separation). What are the core values? What matters to US? Remember much of what our nation is came from folks with dreams, that cast visions, and looked to the collective good. What does it mean in a nation as vast as ours to be a healthy interdependent culture and community? Where all are cared for?

These are the challenges Micah laid out in his text, he did not speak simply of Judah or Israel, but used Israel as the linking noun for all 12 tribes. He spoke of unity, and what the core resonance was.

In the much quoted 6:8 reads:

He has told you, O man, what is good;
    and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
    and to walk humbly with your God?

-(English Standard Version)

Justice. A Just Society. What does this look like? What do we keep from our proud mosaic roots? What do we jettison (prune)? and What do we make space to flourish? It is not about becoming like our neighbour, or the globe, it is about becoming more of Canada, that many have stated the world needs more of.

It is also intriguing, because the term “humbly” can also be translated as wisely. Are they interchangeable? What is humility? It is the quiet confidence of being who you are meant to be. Wisely is the quiet confidence in applying the knowledge you have to grow out one’s values to the betterment of self, family, and community.

This election, vote humbly and wisely for Canada.

As one leader, Mr. Jagmeet Singh stated:

“have the bravery to vote for what you believe in”


Simple thoughts before our vote on October 21, 2019 for our next government of Canada. Don’t let the leader or party loyalty outshine the hustle, character and integrity of local candidates. The ballot was finalized on Sept. 30, 2019, So as gotcha politics happen because EDA’s hope that our loyalty is to leader and brand over local, we are left asking where some of these nutters and lemons came from?

They come from apathy to dig on who is local, they come from looking at local and saying that does not fit my party, so I am choosing option B instead.

Because this late in the game, leaders primping firing candidates is just political theatre, once the cameras are away the name is still on the ballot next to the party– and honestly, if they are elected under the party banner will they truly keep them out of caucus without the election run scrutiny? Highly doubtful.

Think. Engage. Demand good local representation.

As well, it is deplorable to watch those elected to other governmental levels in Canada, door knocking and flying out to other provinces in a partisan debacle.

Parachute candidates, whether in the same city or further afield, is a practice that Elections Canada needs to rule on, especially when the candidate states unequivocally they do not have an intention to move to the riding even if elected should be a disqualification.

The English Language Leaders debate on Monday reminded me of a grade school classroom playing sink the sub. In the midst, I must admit, Jagmeet Singh, leader of the New Democratic Party showed he has grown into his role as a national party leader, and as such deserves the growth he is seeing in the polls.

One comment though I heard about the debate stuck in my brain about how fall political discourse in Canada has fallen. The comment was that May and Singh had the same policy yet still argued, trying to paint the fallacy that both parties are essentially the same and a false choice. When in fact what was being shown is two parties that wanted similair outcomes but the path there was different. It is what we used to see in Canadian political debates (provincially and federally) here is the shared vision, here is the road map each party is laying out in our common identity in our diversity. Now choose. May and Singh showed what it was to be parliamentarians. To actualize the constitutional promise of Peace, Order and Good Governance.

Perhaps, the other 4 leaders will learn as well, and our electorate will engage…

To paraphrase Mr. Singh, and something I have said quite a bit, have the courage to vote for what you believe in…not out of fear.


Homogeneous and Heterogeneous are two scientific terms I remember from the early days of elementary school science class. The first being everything is alike and blends in if you will, the other being like 1000 Island Salad Dressing. The political typology is melting pot versus mosaic. In story telling to get to the former from the later it involves a device known as “Ret Conning” that is retro-fitting continuity to fit the new normal story line. Jettisoning that which does not abide. We see it through the use of terms such as Canon (which I love in Christianity as the Biblical Canon is not as set as many would like to believe, but that is a post for another time or perhaps you can track it down in the archives) of the fandom, which have become more exclusive than inclusive since geek went chic.

Image result for the milk warsY’know what is awesome: Great stories about characters that are awesome, and not sweating the small stuff on how this fits in with a,b, or c of continuity. What happens is then you don’t wind up with constant reboots (soft and hard) and the ability to have creative fun.

Now, having vented on the state of geek, let me get to the point of this post. A great collection out of DC Comics’ Young Animal brand– The Milk Wars. The Young Animal brand is where weird went to live in the DCU, titles like Shade, Mother Panic, Doom Patrol and Cave Carson has a Cybernetic Eye, not sure if they are still publishing, but the titles volumes under the brand are worth the pick up just for the fun. The weirdness connected with DC main though in the Milk Wars crossover which touched on this absurdity of reboot/ret-conn on a meta-narrative breaking the fourth wall kind of event (Wonder Wife, Batman as a Priest if you will)…and the heart of it is the Superman without the morals, but hard Capitalistic Ayn Rand values inputted– Milkman Man.

The crux is simple Lord Manga Khan (from the awesome Bwahahaah era of Justice League International) wants to buy reality, the seller wants to make it pretty and simple, homogenized if you will– the solution— Milk and the Rett-Conn Corporation. Destroy the beautiful creative mosaic that exists on a spectrum, to make it all 1950’s comic codes approved, do not be controversial, cutesies…

Well– no spoilers– but the outcome is more than spilled milk :).

But as I read the collection, and reflected on the Federal election in Canada, I saw a Image result for the milk warsparable that was speaking to more than simply the state of story telling and the comics industry. I saw a parable that spoke to our hyper-fixation on leader and party over local candidate. See we are like Ret-Conn, we are expected to drink the shady milk, and believe that every candidate is 100% their party platform (if anyone has bothered reading it in the era of tabloid gotcha politics) and because in Canada we have given so much power to the PMO that all that matters is the leader.

It leaves us in a cognitive dissonance where we vote for local representation but behave that person is not a piece of the whole, but only a paper vote used by one person. We have drank the milk and stripped our parliamentary system of what makes is so democratic. We have removed the mosaic, to homogenize behind the leader as the be all and end all.

As we set to vote on Oct. 21, 2019, first read Milk Wars, if for nothing else than just the weird fun, but also read it and ask are you voting as a before or after milk drinker?

Do you know the local candidate? If we did the local scandals of hate, misogyny, homophobia, incompetence would not be so shocking because the local members would not have let the person stand, but also they would not be polling on a leader’s coattails in our all or nothing farce of party over people. The local candidate, to borrow an analogy of St. Paul, is but one part of the body, as each member is, each has a function and a role, yet we want all candidates to function as the leader–that is the face– but what is a body if it is all face?

Look at the other pieces, your candidate may be a pinky toe, or an appendix or even a superfillous third nipple, but they are a person…push them to step outside of the “stock face” and show who they are and why the want to represent you. Also know, this outting will reveal warts, scars, halos and all… and in  a pre-milk reality, ya wanna know something?

That’s okay.

Everyone has a past, a present and a future. It is what we have done with our past, is there growth and change? Is it visible in actions not just words? Does this sound daunting? Not really, it is about meeting the candidate as what our parliamentary holds they should be, as neighbour. As a neighbour is this someone you trust to make our country a place of peace, order and good governance… a place where all citizens are taken care of, and given space to be the best they can be in glorious and beautiful interdependence that is the mosaic of our multi-cultural nation we call Canada? Are theyImage result for the milk wars a person that inspires you to dream and vote for something? Not vote to stop or fear?

It is time we stopped ret-conning our politics and politicians. It is time we expected honest conversation and transparency who they were, are and are trying to become. It is who we are when we wake up in the morning, so let’s accept it is the same with those that are called to serve publicly– the challenge is being engaged to weed out the farcical Lex Luthors’ and to have authentic, leadership.

So…

Which side of the milk cup are you voting from?


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?