Posts Tagged ‘Alberta NDP’


I am starting to think I sound like a broken record around the constitutional guarantee in Canada of “Peace, Order and Good Governance”. Many in electoral reform circles like to focus on the method of electing officials instead of the first step being unity of the citizens. As ideological entrenchments begin to outstrip collective good, Americanized fear based media mongering creeping into the Canadian narrative, we are now seeing an entrenched Urban versus Rural mindset.

I have family that lives both sides of this developing divide. Those who are in Rural Alberta, and Urban, I am an urbanite that enjoys the pace and community of the smaller centre life. Some would say the provincial collapse of the PC Dynasty is to blame, but I would point out in that dynasty neither group got effective representation as they could have had. Currently some would point to the NDP-UCP fiasco and that perpetuating the divide, I would say there is plausibility to that theory.

What is hard is that in the current discourse of society we enjoy to out shout someone, to keep our argument to 240 characters (I don’t know whether to thank Twitter for the increase or not), never give ground acknowledging someone else’s point is valid, always seek the one solution for multiplicity could not be possible and that surely there is not shared concerns. I could easily pull a conservative rural troll argument on an Urban issue to prove a point, but I will invert- Jason Kenney, his politicking on the issue aside, tweeted an Okotoks RCMP crime watch picture of thieves…was the response some decent kudos and retweets—no it was the vitriol. We all share these from our area when the police issue them, we even share them from other jurisdictions, but we have become entrenched in the belief that our concerns can’t possibly be the others.

Instead of Rural Albertans and Urban Albertans—howzabout a simple statement, We are citizens of Canada, that live in Alberta (or Albertans). In fact, I would challenge the Alberta Government to look at creating exploratory committees on issues differently (and yes this is the party of the majority, the loyal opposition, and all other elected MLA’s).

Crime is something that is a province wide concern. Rurally you have a mixture of long-term settlers; reserves and colonies (colonies being of Hutterite, Mennonite and Dukhobor), plus persons with disabilities, an aging population. What are you seeing? Oh, an urban population just spread out over more land? Amazing when we talk about who are neighbours are in context what it means. It means though more spread out where someone coming home, as my wife did 3 years ago, will notice shattered glass and a robbery to call police right away, or someone in the yard is only feet away from the house and call the police right away…it means on a large farm it may be a call to the RCMP detachment that services a county of many farms/villages/colonies/etc. with a few constables. It may be reporting what has been stolen, but not right away as you were not in that building every day and just noticed it. It could be hunters poaching animals on your land during hunting season as one of our MLA’s has been found guilty of doing. We know drug use is rampant in both settings, but we know pipelines come through smaller centres (20 years ago it used to follow the old still lines via Water Valley) and then distributes through new city subdivisions down to the core. Same issues, different complexities.

Health Care. We know the idea of population based health care. Leveraging home care so individuals can stay in their homes longer. The need for mental health supports. All these things we do by population numbers (and trust me in urban settings like Calgary we do not have capacity). Yet rurally they have the same instances per capita, yet more spread out, and continually seeing closure of facilities. No, it is not just like travelling via transit or circle road to the next quadrant to access that care or relative who has moved. In some cases it becomes hours via highway to the next level of care or housing. Urban dwellers voice concerns when families are separated due to coding systems and stressors. When quantity of life, and the number a person is, is placed over quality of life. Rurally, it can be whole counties that separate spouses due to their “code” of care. It can even be moving from one town to another, coded to one home, then one physically needs higher physical care, and even in a lower use jurisdiction when there is a two bedroom available and all the experts sign off, the powers that grant housing say NO because the codes are different. No context taken in, not quality of life looked at.

Yet whether you live in a city or rurally, you watch your elders, your children, who are in need suffer. You watch as the need for access to mental or holistic care is denied because you either live in a city where wait lists are huge, or in a rural place where the population does not allow and must travel. Travel is not always a plausibility.

Education… many factors in, we complain about cold days this winter in Calgary, but what of the same weather that literally shuts down bus routes in some areas, how many days are lost? For that time is there some technological solution to ensure all Alberta students regardless of residence receive the best education possible?

Poverty reduction—better term: Improving the affordability of life.

Caring for our seniors so their golden years can be adventuresome not fighting for survival.

See…the political system wants you to view where someone builds a life as another way to create an us-them divide. BUT WE ARE ALL IN THIS.

I propose, and it is out there now as open source policy for any party that wants to think outside the ideological box:

Committees of research and reconciliation be struck to explore these topics in real time. They need to be all party committees. But I challenge some points to really get into the flow (for the action research projects you can use a TRC model or World Café, as they allow the story up to now to be told, but then the impetus becomes on the solution moving forward as one):

  • The chair needs to live in a riding not in the setting (Rural chair needs to be from one of the 7 cities; Urban chair needs to be from rural ridings)-if a government MLA chairs one, the official opposition MLA needs to chair the other.
  • Membership needs to be made up of leading community leaders of the area; but also of some experts on the topic, and MLA’s from the various parties with no majority given to any party.
  • The reports need to grow policy recommendations for a new system that serves all Albertans (if taken federally, all Canadians, because let us be honest it is time to look at the Constitutional Division of powers and what reality of 35-40 million people need to be supported in a globalized world).
  • The role of the legislature with the tabled reports is to work with this as the premise to grow from, not to create partisan hot potatoes.

Other points to improve our democracy:

  • If the premier comes from a rural riding, deputy premier needs to be named from an urban riding, if the opposite does not exist in the governing party they must name from another sitting MLA.
  • Learn from the Yukon, if Premier is non-indigenous, Lieutenant Governor should be named from Treaty or Metis Nations or one of the Colonies as noted above in the article that make up our mosaic.
  • Amend laws for all electoral districts that one must live in the riding they are seeking to be an elected official in. Paper/parachute/write-in candidates cost our system money through vetting and printing of ballots. If a party cannot locate someone to run under their banner in said area they do not run a candidate, running a full slate is not a given.
  • Eliminate PAC donations (I would propose eliminating all donations and just provide free radio air time for the direct candidates’ campaign not the party, and have a certain number of debates set up that the person must attend unless they can document why not (i.e. Sickness).
  • Create a mechanism to encourage more independents to run by allowing Elections Alberta to issue tax receipts for their reported donations lists (if donations continue).
  • All donors’ lists must be ratified by a trained accountant and publicly posted no more than 1 week before vote time (so no fundraising last week of election-that is if donations can persist).
  • Sidebar, the federal idea of bailing out local newspapers has merit in renewing democracy if as part of the money they must carry 50% local content by local writers/photographers, and at least 1/5th of content must be to be looking at politics providing editorial space to a range of voices. Y’know what newspapers were like before conglomeration.

These are my ideas. I am what one would call “post-partisan”. I have always looked at the local candidate to conclude on my vote. Yes, I ran in 2006 for the Federal NDP, but I have also worked with the Federal PC Party and Federal Liberals, so meanderings with Greens and Communists and many other smaller parties and independent candidates. Remember parties are a functionality of our system, not how our system is designed to work so these things and others, are possible to create reform that bring us back together, united in our diversity.

A true Canadian Mosaic.

First we must see them as us, and us as them, or better yet, as neighbour, as citizen building a better future together.

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It is interesting to spend time with Kevin Taft’s new book, Oil’s Deep State, on the same week Dr. David Swann tables Bill 214 in the legislature to reign in the havoc wrecked by PACs on our democracy. For it is PAC’s in my hypothesis that continue the deep state, and create new pockets of control.

The book explores the journey of oil. It will define for you the difference between a Petrostate (when the companies create the state’s infrastructure) and a deep state (when the companies seize control of the democratic institutions- government, crown corporations, bureaucracies, media and academia). It is intriguing in the book that he touches on the shift that happens with deep state. That shift being from the resource belongs to the citizens, to the resource is an investment for business and governments need to get out of the business of being in business (the transformation of Lougheed’s citizens first approach, to the Klein Revolution).

As with any Taft work it is readable, much like a newspaper, well referenced, touches upon history and ties together the threads like a good mystery. It is a work that one can use to inform their understanding, or as many an investigative journalist will say to find the truth follow the money. And Taft did follow the money to lay out the capture of our collective good by the 1% with deep pockets. There is a look to a greener future, but also a frank look at the loss to the citizen on how much has been taken from the land and resources during this capture that lined other pockets while citizens suffered (just look to the state of education, health care and the good buzz term for Albertans, the Heritage Trust Fund) and I do not even want to open the subject of our crumbling nuts and bolts infrastructure, the high debt load carried by the average Albertan simply to keep up to the affordability of life.

It is interesting to have read this work while following the Alberta Liberal feed spear headed by grass roots, vocalized by their leader David Khan (current by-election candidate in Calgary Lougheed) and the actual legislation tabled by the party’s only sitting MLA.  Now many will say will this make a difference with one person doing this. To those I point out Laurie Blakemen’s bill on GSA’s.  Every so often there is a spark lit by opposition.  When well thought out, researched and presented creates an ember. This is an ember that all parties need to get behind to fan into flames of change for our democracy.

The Deep State of big money running our politics needs to change in Alberta (and Canada). The PAC bill is but one step, I have written previously about other steps that can be taken. Remember citizens, we are guaranteed peace, order and good governance in our nation by our Constitution Act 1982. The regulation (and hopeful removal) of PAC’s is a starting pointing of reversing the capture and deep state.

Other things need to happen, but I encourage you to contact your local MLA and/or sign the petition here to press them to support Dr. Swann’s bill. Let’s continue positive change in our province, let us show that Albertans matter by showing that we want to have our voice back in our democracy.

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It is official, the Wildrose Party and Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta have a betrothal agreement.  I am going to avoid soap boxing about allusions to the McKay-Harper merger fiasco federally that put centrists out of the party structure and those not wanting the merger unable to vote. Even though under 60% of eligible voters for each party (55-PC; 57ish-WRP) voted to give the 95% YES for both parties (and ignoring the WRP PIN issuing issues).

But the membership that did vote, much like any election the citizens that did vote, carry the mandate and form the government–or in this case the new party.

Yes it does alter the landscape politically whether or not one wants to admit it. Much like the fall of the 44 year dynasty (though I stretch that conservative control back further to Ernest Manning’s So-Creds after Aberhart’s transition, but very few historians back my opinion) fell to Rachel Notley’s NDP. We are 2ish years into a 4 year mandate for what could be another dynasty, a transitional pivot, or a course correction for Albertans where we allow our compassion, rationality and pragmatism to enter fully into our voting so we no longer elect dynasties (minority government anyone? Just for a few terms to correct much of the muck that is our money eating bureaucracy?).

But is the UCP the utopia that will accomplish this? One cannot say as they are a vote tally, and a name. What is being seen, much like the federal vote of merger is an exodus by Red Tories seeking a new political home–this federally gave bumps to Greens, Liberals and NDP, but also the formation of smaller parties like the Progressive Canadian Party as these centrists searched for political home.

That is the story of Alberta currently. The Alberta NDP is calling on them to take out a membership, so is the Alberta Party and Alberta Liberal Party (just look at the Centre Together movement that meets in Red Deer).  There is an open call, and a caution. Slow down when seeking the new home, or the first home. Really explore all options on the table. Contemplate, meet your local associations and members (for it is not just policy, but those members in your area you will be a apart of)…and simply see where you fit?  It may surprise you.  Also remember a strong party regardless of size allows members to speak into all aspects, and craft the policies that shape the party.

The landscape is re-shaping in Alberta. It is our time as Albertans to put out there we no longer want decisions made by blind ideology, rather we want solid Peace, Order and Good Governance that has citizens, not PACS-lobbyists or politicians, best interests at heart.

Begin your party search here (for those with websites simply click on the name, otherwise office contact is listed):

Alberta First Party:

Alberta Liberal Party

Alberta New Democratic Party

Alberta Party

Communist Party Alberta

Green Party of Alberta

Pro-Life Alberta Political Association (Formerly Social Credit)

United Conservative Party (UCP-PCAA & UCP-WRP)

Reform Party of Alberta

I also encourage you to keep your ears open for local Independent candidates in your riding that you resonate with to support. For every voice in the legislature matters for crafting the best social contract.

…We’re practical and generous and open and bold. We want responsible and accountable spending. At the same time we’re willing to pay fair value for efficient and effective government services, but we want to know each and every dollar is put to good use…

-Greg Clark, Alberta Party Leader excerpt from Facebook Post July 22, 2017


Dear Premier Notley:

You did the impossible, toppled a dynasty that had begun rotting from the centre out, the top down, the bottom up and the outside in. 44 years and done. Yet in the time your new Government has been in power it has been the same cycle of petty partisan politics, and not the new day we hoped for casting our votes for change.

This is an open letter to your government to refocus on Albertans in such a way that partisanship no longer matters. Business should not longer be conducted as the Tory-tatorship did it.  It needs to be open, party branding becoming irrelevant, and getting the best MLA’s regardless of party affiliation for the job.

It is not just about rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, oil economies have cycles of ups and downs, but during downs stimulus and change need to be the focus.

What does this mean? This is simply one Albertans’ perspective:

  1. Time to let the Skeletons out of the Closets, a full audit of government by an outside body. Time to clean house of cronyism, backroom deals, forced through legislation, hidden taxes (the Government calls them user fees), and bringing all laws in line with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Constitution Act 1982, and the Health Act. Yes in a far sweeping inquiry some Dippers may go down as well, but if they are not focused on the full good of Alberta then so they should.
  2. Term Limits: Hard and fast for all elected officials…that’s right MLA’s limited to 3 elected terms in their life times; and for the Civic Elections your government oversees, 2 term limits only. Time to abolish the idea of politician as a career and get it back to true public service. Oh and shrink the size of the Legislature seriously we are at least 20 MLA’s to large (MLA Greg Clarke would be great to spear head these changes)
  3. MLA Pension/Severance Packages—seriously???? Simply put, follow your party’s conscience with Raj Pannu’s votes on these issues: NO!!!! Abolish retroactively.
  4. Health care: this should be a no brainer for a NDP government with the proud history of Tommy Douglas–a true one pay system is the cheapest most efficient–time to get Alberta back on track with public health care, and stretch it to include dental and optical.  MLA David Swann would be great to take on this portfolio.
  5. Charging for parking at hospitals—this is a ridiculous fee for service that keeps low income Calgarians away from accessing care, and families financially challenged for accessing the Children’s Hospital.
  6. AB Works/AISH/Human Services—the greatest inefficiencies as it is a system designed to keep people out, not work with the person at the community level to ensure proper care for Albertans….and seriously who decided that $323/month was an appropriate rental allowance for a person on social assistance?
  7. Pay Day Loans–seriously, we still allow legalized loan sharking—a 6% rate drop is not even a start of a solution-let a Wildrose MLA Derek Fildebrandt  take on this cancer.
  8. School boards—Okay, huge bureaucracy, huge expenses on elections, and elected boards which are minimally duplicated twice in the public arena by Public and Catholic boards, then multiple fundings for private schools, etc…  Hmmm…what a quagmire? Perhaps it is time to realize that school principles can handle budgets, every child is appropriately coded, and each building has a need of a care taking staff for up keep with centralized trades people for bigger issues than that…yet what we have is schools falling apart, private schools admitting they get monies for special needs kids but direct the money away from the child to the general pool (YES HERITAGE Christian Academy Calgary I am looking at you and your admission 4 years ago at a Renfrew School Parents Recruitment Night, at least unlike the other Special Needs Private School you had enough common sense not to refer to our kids with the “R” word)…and so on… so what does all the excess bureaucracy give us? A craptacular education system, that needs to be reduced to simplicity…a few accountants in the Education Minister’s office doing money transfers to the schools to manage their finances. Abolishing all boards and folding into one local public school, oh and the tax money paid through taxes? Calgary Board of Education never collects it all—bad money management, that can be pooled. What does a localized strong public school give to a community? A central gathering point of celebration, learning and growth. As communities cycle through ages, and school attendance numbers drop do not sell off the capital, reinvigorate it with ideas for changing demographics, using different spaces for different community programs i.e. seniors clubs, social clubs, etc.
  9. Busing, lunch room fees and school fees…. seriously! Constitution Act 1982–Free Public Education—have you read it recently? And as a family with a special needs child, we have no choice in where our son goes to school, so then we get dinged for busing when I can’t take him to his local school.
  10. Utility companies—California failed with deregulation–then Klein deregulated—it is time to end this horrible experiment that punishes families financially.

Alberta is a great province to live in. But the cost of living is going through the roof, look at the high level of access of community meals, food banks, those opting out of the illegal school fees, making tough choices on paying the utility bills, internet (yes it is no longer optional in an education world that drives more to have everything online) or rent.

This is an open letter for there was hope when the Government changed…but that hope needs to be reignited…are you a Premier that will move beyond ideology to solutions that will help Albertans? Solutions that will correct decades of errors and punishments on the working classes?

Remember, the Alberta Government is not the NDP Party, it is made up of 84 MLA’s from across 5 parties currently, and it is a mixture of this wisdom that Albertans want guiding our province forward. Are you willing to actually show that Government can work for the people?

Sincerely,
Ty Ragan

A Parent, a Taxpayer, someone wondering where more money is to miraculously appear from.


So just a quick update on a story published August 1 here. Direct Energy’s second untruth has been exposed, the first being the money will bounce back directly, no that did not happen.
The second? 30 days for a  refund cheque, we are on day 30 and there is no refunds or cheques.

Eden Wallace previous post commentator never responded to verify this Direct Energy escalations department that could not be verified through their website, as well they have not responded to the bank investigation.

Just an update to the readers. At this point it would be full refund + interest for holding the money would rectify the situation and make this party happy for the impact this has had on my family.


I can already here the outcry going that is rather harsh words for the hard done by corporation that is Direct Energy, but it has been a long road to attempt to get back from them, $153 which they are refusing to return. Which may not seem like a huge amount but for a family with a special needs child and another child, that is a good chunk of our grocery budget.

This story begins on July 4 when bill payments were put forward online. To save money on bank fees I avoid the auto pays, and it also allows for when utilities fluctuate to not have to get behind on a bill.

During this round of bill payment I could swear like every month I clicked Just Energy as with the last 3 years of payments, but I do not know if it was my error or the website payment but this money went to Direct Energy Regulated Services instead (to a closed account I might add).

This error was discovered when the new Just Energy bill came to my inbox mid month and it was double what it should be, and a bit of checking revealed the error. We are now at the beginning of August and Direct Energy is incommunicado and not willing to refund the money.

Here is what is known for truth:

  1. Direct Energy did not respond to any online contact attempts to correct the error.
  2. Friday night July 29 I spoke to 4 different operators, the first 3 kept redirecting me away from “This Direct Energy to this Direct Energy Regulated Services Number” which brought me back to the same loop.
  3. 4th operator stated that any payment sent to a closed account was impossible as it would bounce right back.
  4. Pointed out this had not happened, and there has been no account for 3 years with Direct Energy (whichever one). So I once again gave closed account number, my address, postal code, city, and name. They stated I was not the account holder so they could not disclose anything to me or it would be a breach of privacy.
  5. Stated to operator that account holder was my father, we share same last name. Operator still would not budge.
  6. My father called back the following day, Direct Energy stated if there was money received in error a cheque would be processed within 30 days and sent out, but would not verify when or if this would happen. This is now to the account holder on record.
  7. Why account holder of a closed account on record does not matter in this case: (a) Direct Energy had been accepting payments from the non-account holder for years up until 3 years ago, so this would already show a breach of privacy on their part as I was getting the bills to my e-mail. (b) Just Energy took over the account 3 years ago with my signature authorizing it.  This shows Direct Energy accepted me as the account holder and as such should have simply EFT’ed the money back to my account.
  8. The Hail Mary if you will, was contacting my actual bank. The online secure contact with the details proved fruitless for their secure online answer was call their 24/7 customer line to open an investigation.
  9. Called the 24/7 line last night, and the operator was as helpful as they could be. An investigation was opened and money was credited back to my account with the caveat it would remain ONLY if DIRECT ENERGY refunded the money to the bank, otherwise they would mail me a letter out and remove the money.
  10. So there is $153 in my account sitting there that I could use for groceries, but could not take the hit of money being pulled out if Direct Energy is like Direct Energy.

So that is the story awaiting resolution, that needs to be shared so others can understand the convoluted system that exists with Alberta’s privatized/de-regulated power sector. The crime that has been perpetuated upon us, and that truly there is no mechanism in place to reclaim any monies from mega-corps.

Our family waits, to see if the money turns up, for to keep the power on I had to pay out double to Just Energy end of July which skewered quite badly our family budget, it harkens back to the Klein Days of Alberta of “Feed the Kids or pay the power”.

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It is weird on the day we honour the mass lynching of anywhere from 3 to 300 with the way showerer, Jesus of Nazareth by the oppressive powers we have a debacle of Roman Empire proportions playing out in the U.S. of A Presidential Primaries. Trump/Cruz/Clinton playing out with announcements of sex scandals, misogyny, leaked e-mails, who gets funds from whom, which party is responsible for ISIL/ISIS—and yet there is a loss of reality in that all those vying to lead are from the 1% whether they are party insiders or outsiders, using the fear speech of economics; fear speech of religion, or fear speech of whatever what is being propagated is a level of energy of hatred and fear of other.

Now I am not writing this as a Canadian to bash my neighbours to the south, in Alberta we have our own issues of fear mongering and 1% attempt at rule. The #YYCGreenway by-election that was narrowly won by Prab Gill showed signs of what is wrong with our body politic. Whether it was scandals or pseudo scandals emerging on the Wildrose Candidate around illegal pay for workers; or the Alberta Liberals running a former Wildrose Candidate who may or may not have made up membership when he was with the WRP (can’t the Grits find any Grits to run? Why always former conservatives?); I won’t even touch the almost Trumpesque views of Independent Larry Heather or the NDP candidate that had a break down not being able to handle being the party in power candidate during a debate. It was a debacle more focused on if the former PC dynasty’s life support system was going to let the party crouch along, what message would be sent to the NDP, and if the results could lead to a WRP takeover of the right?

So why this early morning ramble? Simple, there is something the electorate through the false argument of A-P-A-T-H-Y has allowed to slip out of our body politic. That is actual leadership.

We have taken this idea from the Harris/Klein “Common Sense” revolutions that destroyed the “Just Society” of Canada, the ideals of partisanship above leadership and made our party colours more important than local candidates, and the cult of party leader personality instead of local representation to lead us.

Due to this we have allowed the party mechanism to not have to put forward vision. They debate bank balances, they debate why this platform is wrong, or why this law is wrong, not functioning in the opposition benches to improve the bills and laws put forward. You know actually working for citizens?

What can change?

Simple, I actually provincially like the Alberta Party’s idea of  having to live in the actual constituency you are running in. That way you are actually connected and held accountable by neighbours.

Part of it as well, is an idea, should we elect the Premier/Prime Minister separately from the local member? What about going back to an older idea of the Great Depression in Alberta where the United Farmers would run a slate of independents and then the members of the Legislature would elect whom they wanted as the Premier. Think about that needing to be local, and then all the local candidates needing to decide who they would hold to account as the First Minister, then the cabinet having to be non-partisan multi-party with membership percentages made up of party vote percentage, and caveats to appoint independents. But also, the portfolios the ministers are given they have to show how they are qualified.

Why?

The hope would be to move beyond petty squabbling, beyond griping and fear mongering. The idea would be then that each candidate would need to cast a vision, and then work with the broader communities to shape a better governance like the Canadian Constitution Act 1982 guarantees: Peace, Order, and Good Governance.

It also makes each local race important, and opens up the possibility of a wider cross section as candidates are sought out locally based on their character and passion.

Just some Saturday morning thoughts on the state of politics and desperately wanting leaders to rise up for a change.