Archive for the ‘Canadian Politics’ Category


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.

 

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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?


Been awhile since I have put together one of these column styles, but I believe it is time to get some fresh thoughts out there within the Canadian Social Justice Context. Since January 20, 2017 when President Trump was sworn in as President of the USA, I have noticed a downturn in the Canadian justice workers’ ability to be reflective about the state of our own nation, province, city/town/village, community and self. We like to project to the Big Bad Wolf to the South and be able to say “well its Trump.”

When truly, we have many stones to repair in Castle Le Canada.

This is some musings from the reflective time of Purim (the Hebrew Bible story of Esther) which begun at conclusion of Sabbath yesterday and concludes at sundown tonight. For the story of Esther, click here.  For those readers of regularity of this site, I encourage a reflective Lectio Divina of the text to set your spirit in a-tune-ment to see the state of your world and how it reflects in the Holy Story. 3 questions could be (one for each hearing):

  1. When have I been silent? (sit with this memory)
  2. When have I been Haman in my world?
  3. When have I found a voice like Esther?

The third is where you find the resonating with the love of the Holy Mystery to take forward. Another spiritual practice would be to rewrite the story from the hardest point of view you have: King, Esther, Mortdecai, Ex-Queen, Haman? What truths are revealed for your life?

But I digress as this is not a theology lesson, but rather a time to be eclectic and percolate some thoughts in our souls as Canadians where next steps lay for our Just Society.

Aboriginal Health Care– due to treaty and the colonial-patriarchy of reserves this falls under Federal auspices, yet any Constitutional Act 1982 student (BNA Act 1867) know that this means literal limbo for our First Nations family members as the true provider of health care is provincial. So how do we truly reconcile, move forward in the new and bury to old?  Full signing on of each specific nation as a province under the Constitution Act 1982 and Charter of Rights and Freedoms, with one step forward each nation dependent on population getting 4-8 seats in the House of Commons (not added extra, existing redistributed); and a set 10 block for all First Nations (+2 for Metis, +2 for Inuit) specifically in the senate, again redistribution, not adding.

This then can allow for both the HoC and Senate to be re-worked Constitutionally and perhaps a social charter can be designed that includes housing, health care, education, right of choice in life, death and income guarantees for every Canadian.

Which also flows into the next as #TRC has happened for our First Nations family, yet we have continued to ostracize/demonize another population whose story needs to be told- The Metis (Half-breeds).

The children of colonialism and the fur trade. The Roman Catholic Church forged a cultural community within those of mixed from Aboriginal-French. Which gave our nation Louis Riel and Garbiel Dumont, brought Manitoba into Confederation, first human rights writing in Canada, and a battle for equality. One that as a nation we never saw for this group until the 1930’s when they were finally recognized as human beings. The story of the Half-breeds on the book is much more destructive, as the British (Scottish-Irish) did not have collectivist good, and belief in conquering through inter-marriage but rather through absorbing. Which created the choice the child was either Aboriginal or white, so one culture lost completely. That is just what our history books will tell us, what is the story on the ground? That which has been silenced? We already know of the land tracts and speculators swindling them out of the land for a low price. But what other harm/trauma lies underneath that needs to be told? Held as truth? And then as a true community choosing to move forward as one?

This is why the TRC records with First Nations need to be kept in the national archive, need to be published and shared far and wide, so the story is known. It is part of us. But also part of the story is the choice to move forward as one and write a new story. This is the reconciliation piece of Truth and Reconciliation.

But this also brings down to the microcosm.

Where I have been struggling with my own Truth and Reconciliation within the United Church of Canada.The family pilgrimage for sacred community as has been written about, has brought us into a Northeast congregation of the UCC, where yes our son who is differently abled has found embrace. He is quite empathetic and a good reader of a person’s true energy, so when he goes on his own volition to join other kids you know the authenticity well.

But aiding him to walk as the weather change is making his muscles sore into the Wonderkids, and seeing the mish mash of kids: other cultures, typically and differently abled just together being kids it hit in my heart.

For it was seeing lived out today in church,  what almost 10 years ago got me fired from the United Church Congregation that I surrendered any hope of ordination to choose inclusion.

Just one of those aha moments, that when you start to unpack the day, and realizing the connections of everything…people…nature…energy…the Holy Mystery permeates all, and all is interconnected within it.

So as with the differently abled community coming into full inclusion in the microcosm, I look to the TRC at the more macro level for inclusion at the national level… and to the two national party’s choosing leaders-Conservative and NDP I ask members to look to the core of the beautiful mosaic Canada is, and to vote your conscience for a leader, and for policy that shapes your party in that unity within our diversity to move forward from troubled waters of the past both recent and historic.

Make the choice as Esther did, to find our voice, step out of the silence, and into the resounding thunder of justice, equality and belonging that resonates from the centre that is love. Out of this love, live our lives for a true difference, for a truly better world.

We are thankful for these and all the good things of life. We recognize that they are a part of our common heritage and come to us through the efforts of our brothers and sisters the world over. What we desire for ourselves, we wish for all. To this end, may we take our share in the world’s work and the world’s struggles.

An end note aside: To Bernie Van De Walle (my theology professor at Canadian Theological Seminary)-I finally fully get your comment about reading my theolgoy through the lens of Woodsworth.