Posts Tagged ‘Conservative Party of Canada’


A compilation of random thoughts on the political landscape.

First up: Hon. Ricardo Miranda (Min. Tourism & Culture, YYC Cross MLA) and his twitter up with Airdrie UCP MLA Angela Pitt. It started with Ms. Pitt’s tweet as best as I can see pointing out Mr. Miranda calling her out on being at the Women’s Centre after being part of the UCP walk-out on Bill 9 (bubble zone legislation for pregnancy care centres that include those providing abortions).

I can see his point, I can see her point. Where is should’ve stayed is dereliction in duty of the office (not being on record for the vote). But in typical hyper-partisan fashion Mr. Miranda jumped the shark and took it to a whole other level. Where the comparison may have been able to be made about a worker crossing a picket line, then showing up to the Union Office for help to keep their job or even more high road: I hope you had a good experience at the Women’s Centre and learned why Bill 9 was important, or MLA Pitt do you care to share what you learned or heard today?

Nope. Instead it went to from Mr. Miranda:

WTH??? Yes I saw the tweet, yes I was about to respond, but thankfully those from across the political spectrum jumped on it and called it out.  It has since been deleted, and a supposed apology issued. But let’s be honest, we have honest to God Nazi’s still in this country, and a strong history of holocaust deniers (Keegstra in Red Deer anyone? or the Green Party member from Canada on trial in Europe)…where did this jump come from???

It is the dehumanizing falsity of dualistic politics. Keeping up there is only two choices NDP or UCP…we have a multitude in Alberta, and please look beyond party to your local candidate.

Point 2: If Charles Adler calls out the CPC ya know it also jumped the shark. Yes, I will admit my bias against the Conservative Party of Canada since the hostile sell out of McKay to Harper, but the image of a Haitian refugee crossing Trudeau’s tweet as a bridge into Canada with the hyperbole  and falsity of illegal entry was deplorable. Thank you Mr. Adler for holding your party to account, and using your media presence to do so.

I say falsity on the illegal entry, because the processing of refugee, immigrant and irregular entries is part of international agreements Canada has been apart of since the end of World War II to ensure what happened in the Holocaust does not happen again. Yes the system may be refined, but it is working and is simply a hot button issue and as the image projected going for the lowest possible denominator in a multi-cultural country. What I do endorse is the ending of Safe Third Country with the USA (who shares our border) which then allows us to look at a system that does not have a failed caveat within it.

Point 3: Just a fun flashback point, like going to Granddad and Nan’s for dinner. Political parties hope one does not have a historical context or understanding. They hope you have a drive for power or hatred of the “other guy” enough to dodge the tough policy questions, the questions that affect your life and your neighbours. The ability to look beyond your own household, person and context to the whole. It is why I try to look at the person running over the party, and then hope that the person can stand up to their party when needed. Sadly our system has become about leader over member and this is wrong and unconstitutional.

That is a ramble into a funny story from when I ran in 2006. The CPC candidate’s campaign manager attempted to recruit me to run for the party at the candidate’s debate. He pointed to the policy around poverty and was dumbfounded when I said no. He asked why and I bluntly pointed out, it was point one of a 7 pillar approach I aided in creating to alleviate poverty. His gobsmacked face is a fond remembrance.

Hold to history, hold to accountability. Look for change if it has happened.

Now a bit of fun:

First, as endorsed in previous elections, I do think Jeremy Nixon would make a good representative in government. I am unsure if he would break party lines with the UCP, that will be up to those in Calgary-Klein to ask him and press him on the doorsteps. Including things such as Bill 9, not just his stance but also would he have voted, but I could not let this endorsement meme pass without a comment from my comic geek side:

“Where unintentionally the UCP makes themselves Lex Luthor, and the NDP Superman…for Kryptonite was only wielded by the bad guys.

Where unintentionally the UCP makes themselves Lex Luthor and the NDP Superman…for Kryptonite was only wielded by the bad guys.


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.


A few days back I wrote about the challenge of accessing the social contract in Canada. I still stand by for accessibility we could do more to make the system easier navigated for those in distress.

But this is to thank Service Canada, Rt. Hon. Trudeau (our PM); Hon. Duclos (minister over EI) and Hon. Deepak Obhrai (MP Calgary Forest Lawn) for their response to my communication, and once the missing documentation was submitted with support the expediting of my claim.

Here are some pointers for those accessing Medical EI:

  1. There is an Employer/Employee Portion.
  2. The Employee portion is to be done online and is quite lengthy, if you are in medical need ensure you get support as there is a lot of questions to be answered.
  3. Always follow up, if you cannot reach through Service Canada, contact your MP. I found that they have release forms available to look into your claim, and it never hurts to contact the minister responsible for the issue. Use e-mail for the communications, include your phone number and address to ensure follow up and as much of your story as you are comfortable sharing.
  4. When working through any medical issues and paperwork it is helpful to have that second set of ears and hands to ensure things are followed up promptly, so ensure if you have that someone you trust the proper releases are on file with the government and public health to allow for ease of communication.

When something is resolved, thank those that aided you, but also suggest some constructive improvements. As I sent the thank you to the Parliamentarians I did point out that in a system with someone in medical distress perhaps a simpler system where the employer submits the Medical ROE and the Doctor’s certificate/letter that kick starts the claim and begins payment. A more accessible social contract for all.

That is all for now, feeling some gratitude to have a supportive work network that helped out as well with investigation because the old noggin’ ain’t what it used to be most days.


We enter a social contract in Canada when we become citizens through whatever channel that takes. In the 1970’s and 1980’s it was dubbed the “Just Society”. But the rules are simply outlined in our Constitution Act 1982, Charter of Rights and Freedoms; and Canadian Laws. Over the past two decades the party’s that have formed Government have been bending and breaking the simplest of social contracts by not preparing for the lean times or the times of medical need. They have prepped our social safety net for health, not for what they are designed for. A prime example of this is Employment Insurance (renamed from Unemployment Insurance during Chretien’s tenure as PM). During the latest economic downturn Canadians have been hard pressed to access in a timely manner, thus driving up debt loads and creating a burden of poverty cycles upon citizens who wait or are denied that which they have paid into for their working life. These payments were for us in need, and our fellow citizens—our end of the social contract with the other end being from the government for prompt pay out when necessitated.

Part of this EI process is the medical portion, for a short 15-week duration so workers do not have to fear losing everything while this percentage of income comes in to cover costs of living while medical teams figure out what next steps are. This unfortunately has not been being dispensed promptly. I have waited 15 weeks for a 15-week payment program on a medical claim that has not been answered by EI yet, I have not been able to get through the call banks (which we know 70% of calls go unanswered). Below is excerpts from an e-mail communication I sent to the Members of Parliament listed, with Hon. Duclos being the minister over EI, and Hon. Hehr being the minister over disabilities. I encourage each person who has had an unanswered EI or EI Medical claim that has gone unanswered and is providing hardship to contact these ministers and your local MP to get answers and the support our social contact is to provide.

Please Note: This is not an ideological pissing match—both federal parties that have formed governments over the last 20 years have left EI ill equipped to fulfill its obligations to the citizen. This is about renewing the contract, and the other signee-the Government, respecting their end and ensuring the contract does not remain broken.

(once I have received my EI Medical there will be an update on lapsed time so others who need to apply can try to secure credit debt accordingly).

I also want to acknowledge being brain fog, stabbing pain into brain and undiagnosed seizure disordered subsided enough today for this communication-but how I paid after dinner for it (excerpts of e-mail sent January 16, 2018 to government):

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Dear Rt. Hon. Trudeau, Hon. Duclos, Hon. Hehr, Hon. Obhrai, and Hon. Angus:

October 2, 2017. That was 15 weeks ago when my employer filed for EI Medical coverage for me as I had to leave work due to stress induced unknown seizure disorder (40 noticeable events a day—that is someone else saw it happen to me) that was triggering neurological, physiological and post-traumatic stress disorder symptomology. It is only a 15-week program, so that is 15 weeks without income into my household. I am happily partnered with my wife who has health challenges; our two children (my daughter is termed “typically developing” and my son is blessed to experience life with tri-spastic cerebral palsy, legally blind, epileptic, and ADD with a global delay). We elected as a family to have one parent remain at home to aid with our son’s appointments and specialists, so yes, my wife is a stay-at-home Mum. But it was not my family’s personal stressors that brought me to need EI Medical (or even EI for the first time in my working life).

I serve in the non-profit sector attempting to eliminate homelessness within our great nation, have worked hard my entire life in peace, human rights, and poverty reduction—which has included work within dementia wards, youth outreaches, addictions/recovery, child sex trade (now called human trafficking) elimination on the front lines, emergency shelters, life and vocational skill coaching for persons with disabilities, and community and housing first housing programs. I have also taught post-secondary students from diploma through post-doctorate work and have mentored many a practicum student… I made a conscious choice to be on the frontlines in the working class to make change for those that fall between the cracks of our society….

How and why EI will not pay out what is owed? And they are unreachable (thanks to the CBC we know that 70% of calls go unanswered) …I await a prompt and positive resolution to my filing for EI Medical 15 weeks ago with the full back pay swiftly.

 


“You have an overinflated sense of responsibility for others”

            -Dix, Psychologist (Jesse Stone series)

            I have been journeying through neurologically triggered PTSD. Let me tell you it is not a fun set of events to relive the negative of one’s life. This journey is not about bragging or self-aggrandizement. It is for the 99.9% of times my brain reboots and says you have not made a difference in the little corner of your world, I have a critically laid out path to go maybe I did, maybe I didn’t but damn it brains the heart knows I tried.  Hence the walk through the idea of how many times experts/elites, whom we have defaulted to have told me not to bother, or I am wrong and my stubborn streak has gone in the vernacular of my redneck roots, “hold my beer bud and watch this.”

I point out the default to “elites/experts” because it is the shift society has made to the idea of quantitative data only, and zero-based budgeting which makes every person, every story something that must be quantified by a statistical number and/or cash pay out. Essentially a new way of doing the old pedagogy of worthy poor, worthy citizen for aid or elevation. Which I am sorry, if you enter the trenches, bash the knuckles, bloody the soul, wipe the tears away, hold the hand of the dying, cradle the body in the last gasps of the death rattle, these are things that you will always question.

            Why?

Simple, we as people are not a statistical number, we are not a label. Our worth does not come from what we cost or save the system. Our worth comes from something very simple. Being human. Our worth is inherent because of whom we are, a human being regardless of whether it is a spiritual, religious or scientific path that brings you to that understanding.

How does that change the lens you view things through? Who are your experts/elites? Your gurus? Are they coaches? Clerics? Scientists? Ideologues? Celebrities? Who do you allow to shape your world view? Why do you allow them to shape your world view? The Stanford Experiments tried to prove why the horror of Nazism happened, and the outcome was the default for the human being to believe the man in the white coat. The expert or the elite. The one that has power. Sadly, nothing has changed except whom we give the power in our lives. We forget that behind every “white coat” there is a grass roots movement of support that has bestowed that power on them and can strip it away if we default back to the total truth that worth is inherent and we as a species are in this together interconnected through an eco-system of beautiful mystery.

My words of the struggle for a better world dreamed are throughout this site, with the oldest being found in the archives and through these meanderings you can see how even after decades simple battles for inclusion are still being battled. 31 years of my life have been given to this journey, and looking to enter the second decade of my 2/3 of life, I know the journey will continue. But it is a journey where story of the quest needs to re-emerge, where we as societies need to move beyond balance sheets, labels and metrics to understanding what/who is our neighbour. So what follows is some simple musings of issues facing us as a community:

“Don’t call me a saint, I do not want to be so easily dismissed.”

-Dorothy Day, Founder Catholic Worker’s Movement, Single Mum

 

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I encourage you to buy Warren Kinsella’s first fiction work Recipe for Hate, based around true events in the Neo-Nazi-Punk world, for those more of the non-fiction type his seminal work Web of Hate on Canada’s neo-nazi movement in Canada (it inspired me int he `90’s to fight the good fight, and take stands against elites/experts that yes this was a necessary battle)…and why this hit me is seeing the fact that my own hood actually had to have an anti-racist walk yesterday…thank you for those that turned out (my heart was willing–the body and brain decided it was a no sadly)…we are the northeast, we are the world in a few city blocks, we are better than hate, because we know what it means to love your neighbour and be neighbourly. End sermon

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I also encourage reflection for those ideological entrenched on recent Canadian political history as we prepare to repeat in Alberta. In the early 2000’s the PC Canada party was taken over by the Reform-Alliance in media mirrors of a merger vote that saw Red Tories left politically homeless. Some would say it was successful as the Harper Cons eventually won power with their first minority government in February 2006. But just reflect on that for a moment for a party trying to root out corruption, and build inclusion with our First Nations through the Kelowna Accord, lost to a party that sided with the separatists to shut down parliament and strip Canadians of our Constitutional right of Peace, Order and Good Governance. No one else may realize how it will be written by the historians, but also, I do still firmly believe Minority Parliaments are the healthiest forms of governance for our country for it forces the politicians out of ideological blinders to truly what is best for the citizens.

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The fight over Harm Reduction versus abstinence in addiction treatment is just one of the false dichotomies we attempt to foist upon the public. Each treatment resonates with certain individuals (I can just hear the Twitter-soundbite politicos gasp) for it is about understanding the person in front of you and what works for them to be healthy.

It also moves into the idea that triage/silo health care does not always work. The human being is a holistic microcosm that does need to be treated as such. Yes, some things need to be prioritized within medical treatment, but somethings are interdependent, intertwined, co-dependent or simply co-existing. Ala addiction—the use of substance or behaviour creates the label, what causes it is rooted deeper whether you cease or stop the behaviour the actual cause whether emotional, physiological, neurological, etc (or all of the above) needs to be treated or we are setting the neighbour up for failure.

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Housing. Our nation needs a strategy, I know several federal parties at certain points have had policies (as I have been part of writing groups for these parties). Yet what is missing is the fundamental of Housing First principle 1: Consumer choice. (or better yet, citizen choice). It needs to be a policy and action that looks at affordable spectrums of home ownership (types of homes-house, condo, mobile) to apartments to lodges without age restrictions to group homes to supportive housing to hotels (yes hotels, many of the chronically homeless have come to shelters because they lived in hotels that closed down, where some money could have seen these places brought up to code, and some extra monies to the owners could have curbed settling in of unsavoury elements) to name but a few. Also, the idea of rooming houses ran by seniors is also something to be looked at, or on-site living in convents/monastic communities, or in shops/warehouses, mini houses…secondary suites, laneway housing, converted garages, the list goes on and on.

Yet it takes a citizen will to force politicians to challenge city planning back to a community and citizen focus and away from money politics.

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In the case of Health Care especially in Alberta we tend to forget that we were governed by a party set on Privatization (breaking the Health Act) through the Third Way that essentially created a system for failure, never forget history or we are doomed to repeat it. On an aside stating you never voted PC, or never voted does not remove your complicity from the state of our province now, for we are all citizens that allowed a party to run our province. Whether it is oil, health care, AB works or other social safety nets, are designed for those moments in life when you need them, not for when you do not. What we have done as a society is create a shame based system so those in need avoid and costs sky rocket for the person literally comes to the precipice of disaster before access and then is in a full cycle that is harder to get out of. And yes I was forced out of a job by taking a stance publicly for universal health care.

I still firmly believe active eugenics may have stopped in Alberta, but seeing how easily the Calgary Board of Education can blame special needs students for budget short falls, how hard it is to access AISH or lack of mental health supports, that passive eugenics is still practice.

And let us not forget the closure of the horrid institutions that if proper protocol was followed would have seen transition of those folks to proper home, group home or smaller care home placements in the community…but instead say nothing but shelter beds…because…eliminating the debt.

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Calgary City Hall is looking to cut preventative programs for at risk youth and seniors while continuing the shadowy no firm numbers exploration of an Olympic bid. Makes you wonder where following the money trail would take you? Also makes you wonder in a generation with these policies how our city will be judged by the way we have treated our young and elders?

Yet this is not new practice at City Hall, for when the Child Sex trade exploded in our city in the mid-90’s what the response was—cover up, cutting vice unit budgets… hmmm…. Lip service, not actions. My high school law teacher asking me when presented with the facts about the child sex trade saying the assignment was to show what is controversial about it? My response led me to being kicked from class that day when I simply stated, “the only wanker that can’t see the controversy based on the facts is the one that goes to the pizza parlour back room in our hood and asks for the child.”

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Political party vetting when I ran in 2006 that saw the questioner unable to comprehend how I could be pro-choice on abortion without using the buzzwords. Yes I believe in a woman’s control over their own body, yes I believe in the family, and I believe we need to build a world in which every child conceived should be wanted and until that happens then this needs to be free and open to all who desire, need or want.

I also believe that the government needs to invest in a system or pre- and post- procedure counselling and healing of the holistic person. I believe we need a freer adoption service. I also believe the pre- and post-procedure aid needs to be open to the one that gave the egg, the one that gave the sperm, and those that may be affected by the ripples within the family.

But I will never say I am anti-abortion for. Yes, this is after coming from a position where an ex who was so lost in addiction made the choice to abort and her only rationale was to inflict pain on me who chose to not come second to a chemical.

I also firmly state I am pro-life with dignity. Which is why I so easily can stand and argue that medically assisted death is a necessity within our system so human life is one with dignity, for it I would not let my fur baby suffer in such a way, why would I let my loved one.

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The continual move away from city accessibility. In Calgary our at home garbage/recycle/compost system is designed for new communities with attached garages, and condos. Yet also falls short in understanding challenges of constantly carrying out buckets of compost in established neighbourhoods. The reduction in garbage pick up removing dignity of the person for those with continence challenges as their garbage output is not reduced but now the overflow is on view for the whole of their neighbours to see.

Yet with some thought, and work at a provincial wide level perhaps we could expand the recycle from house program, thus truly reducing garbage so the bi-weekly pick up can work. The expansion could shift as other provinces have done so the monies from recyclables pay for the program, thus  reducing costs to citizens. Then expand to multi-unit dwellings so it becomes cost neutral so this type of bylaw does not increase rents.

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That at the end of World War 2 my Great-Granddad Lewis who was a veteran of both wars battled for the Commonwealth to care for its veterans appropriately, and during my tenure in the world I have fought the same battle in the 21st century. This is a staunch reminder, war needs to be the last resort, and one that we enter into realizing that we need to be prepared to care for those that give some, and those that give all…also this needs to carry through to those we send out to peace keep for they enter the hell mouth as well.

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Look to the Alberta Government looking at removing age restrictions on housing stating it is a human rights issue. The realization is not understanding the complexity of the issue when it comes to congregate (condo/apartment living).

At the very least, if a person or couple have moved to a building believing it is kid free, and they chose to live there because of this a new family that moves in you are setting them up for harassment and complaints. A situation that may only end with one side or the other being evicted. Sadly, an eviction for whatever reason creates an issue on re-housing.

At the worst, you are setting up a place for predators. Sadly, those that abuse children and prey on them do not spend their life in jail. Upon release, they need to be housed, with this new legislation you are removing a housing option that keeps our communities’ safe…yet…

It is also short sighted, in that there are also many folks with the psychological predilection for children (due to trauma or neurology) that choose to work with Alberta Health to keep themselves and others safe. Using pharmaceuticals and other therapies, but also building a life that keeps them away from children as much as possible. Now comes this new bill…and…

Sound bites and twitter politics over critical thought of the best of the whole.

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That over 20 years after I got my knuckles bloody defending my op-ed piece in the Calgary Sun over a person’s right to love and marry whom they choose (and multiple thousand death threats) …both our governing and Loyal Opposition parties still distract by fighting this battle over again thus distracting from more core issues. (yes, for those doing the math, my 18th birthday was when the editorial I wrote in support of marriage equality came out). Why did I write this? I remember sitting with my Nan, when US President Bill Clinton announced he was against it, and her tears and simple statement that maybe if our world were more accepting and Christian as Jesus taught her lovely cousin would not have taken his life. So I took a stand, and took the lumps that came with it.

I am going to be blunt, when it came to clubs I was a part of in public school, the only time my parents needed to be contacted was when we were leaving the school so both sides were creating news and not holding true to the sanctity of learning, growth and discovery of the child. The only time parents were contacted about school behaviours were when they put myself or another at risk.

For those that try to blind with extremism, ideology or religion, let the war bride’s words ring in your ears. If our world was more Christian…love would win, and whom you love would not matter.

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The constant reminder that user fees are a flat tax on the working and poverty classes. A reminder that when political parties speak of the middle class, it is an innocuous term used to gain votes, but pragmatically roles out to households making over 100K a year, thus not the average Canadian.

A reminder that our natural resources do not belong to companies or politicians but to the citizens and need to be leveraged for OUR benefit above all else. That our Constitution Act 1982 does need to be re-opened, a social charter that was originally removed at the behest of Lougheed needs to be reinserted, and the division of powers in Section 91 & 92 needs to be looked at for the reality of Canada in a globalized world and things like Health Care and Education need to be in Federal jurisdiction as we are stabilized at about 30ish million people.

We need to take a serious look at the abolish of the reserve system and either incorporating into the Constitution territories of provinces for First Nations depending on population size (ala Nunavut).

We also need to realize that we only get the representation we are entitle to as Canadians, when we realize the local representative should hold the power of the vote. Party whips and Cult Leader politics are the Americanizing of our democracy to our detriment. As well, for it to work properly the elections acts need to be amended so the candidate needs to live in the electoral district at whichever level it is defined; PACS, union and corporate donations are abolished. Actually, all donations are. Each candidate must attend a set number of debates, public media must carry local candidate ads, interviews and discourses so that the public can be informed. If we really want a throw back perhaps the UFA system should be implemented in which a leader is not elected until all MP’s or MLA’s are elected (like the Constitution dictates) …but let’s take some giant baby steps first. Once the system functions the way it is laid out to, then we can look beyond a first past the post system to other voting systems.

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These thoughts continue to crop in my mind like I said as I look back on a life of work to try and build a new world, then the reboot hits and the brain lies to the heart stating that it has all been for nought.

On the grand scale still seeing the pain that exists within our world, yes it may appear as failure. Yet the failure is in stopping to raise the issue that we are all in this together.

These are musings that rest on my heart and are leading me to another pragmatic spiritual work as I look back on history of the sector I have worked in. If one spends time with the writings of J.S. Woodsworth and how his shelter functioned in Winnipeg at the turn of the 20th century, and then look at our system today you can come to a simple conclusion, all that has changed is our mats are thicker. 100+ years on, what needs to change?

We still haven’t answered the core question of his work, for we still look at the person in need, in pain, in sickness, in jail and in our homes, communities’ and lives.

The central question?

The one I have spent a life attempting to unpack, and will be the focus of my next pragmatic memoir?

Who is My Neighbour?

JS


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.


I know most people “review” books, but Tom McMillan‘s (2016, Nimbus) Not My Party: The Rise and Fall of Canadian Tories from Robert Standfield to Stephen Harper is not one for review as much as deep reflection on the course Canadian Politics has gone down. It could easily become a “partisan attack” work, by some in other parties, but they would miss the point of collective and personal self-reflection within their own context this can be used for.

The book itself at around 553 pages before foot notes is an investment, but a worthwhile investment that traces the author’s political career from the Standfield-Symons era up to the merger. He touches on service as an MP, Cabinet minister, consul to Boston, thinker…and whether or no he would accept it I believe an elder political statesman in Canada (much like Mulroney, Chretien, Martin, Broadbent, Clark and Manning amongst others are as well).

The intriguing piece for reflection though is the transformation from collective nation building, bridge building of inclusion, and the dance of holding together a spectrum of beliefs under one tent, to the drive that has happened since 2003-04 to push out those “not like us” or the us and them show down within parties that has bread into our country.

Look back historically, when policy was actually not only well crafted and well thought out, but also could be used to build conversations and dialogues. Upon my own reflections of the past, our parties have always shared the same centre of policy for the collective good in our Just Society and social contract, with flare differences dependent on the source.  Yet that evaporated post merger, and some say it is only a conservative story of the loss of this enlightened-inclusive-collective good drive.

Yet look to your own ideology, what matters more? The ideology (party loyalty) or a good policy/law/practice?

This is the beauty of McMillan’s journey and sharing. The core question to emerge, are we in our wonderful mosaic and diversity truly unified under one banner as Canadian?

Historically this has always been the story, continual building on what has come before, and for the last 10 years that halted. It is time to get back on track, but to get back on track, it is embracing the conversation, embracing the research-qualitative, quantitative, anecdotal and pragmatic–

and more importantly surrendering of labels of this is conservative, liberal or socialist— the key question that needs to be asked by the citizens:

is it good for all Canadians?

Parties are currently seeking identity through renewal, new ways to get members, new policy and leader conventions at all levels. They are seeking candidates to run..if you are on nominating committees seek a candidate that may be a bit different than the homogenized norm, to get the progressive/thoughtful flare to percolate conversation in your ranks. If you are feeling called to run, perhaps it is time to start reading those you normally don’t agree with on ideology to begin to understand the other, is still someone you are called to represent and what that needs to look like?

In Canada, we have freedom of thought and expression, but it is curbed by a responsibility to hold the collective health in that we speak (do no harm)…it is a cornerstone in building towards peace, order and good governance.

This is the reflection that struck me as a former policy wonk/writer, candidate, volunteer and activist on the political hustings. Renewal is through understanding, accountability, and seeking best for ourselves and our neighbour…

For truly someone, including yourself, is someone’s neighbour.


Ah I love to reflect on some of the greatest things Canada has ever done. And it was repatriated away from Britain to us in 1982. The Constitution Act 1982 (an update on the British North America Act 1867 which made us a nation), and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

This is not a digression in the loss of the social charter that was spear headed by then Alberta PC Premier Lougheed. No, it is a reflection on what was accomplished, and for those who are more fluent in the American Bill of Rights, for Canadians what is the key differences. I also always encourage one to read both documents that are the foundation of Canada’s systems.

The act opens:

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

Guarantee of Rights and Freedoms

One little word, God. But it is not a Judeo-Christian God, it is an anglicized affirmation of the creative force no matter how it is defined. For the charter this leads into, when one dives into the archives had all sectors of society speaking into it including and not limited to: First Nations, Churches, other religions, politicians, and justice.

It opens up the fundamental freedoms section:

Fundamental freedoms

 Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:

  • (a) freedom of conscience and religion;

  • (b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;

  • (c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and

  • (d) freedom of association.

There are freedoms spoken of, but notice that under (b) it is not speech, but rather expression. Each fundamental freedom flows into the other, and ties not into just simply an individual’s rights, but rights as they exist in the collective communities, the villages that make up Canada. The nations as well, as you go through the other rights you will note we are not about independent singular lives knowing that actions do not have ripple effects in the pond.

Much like how the nation grew, interdependence in spite of labels. Unity within our diversity (a mosaic) is what this reflects. The charter in 1982 was the culmination of work that began in Red River rebellion under the leadership of Louis Riel in 1869 displayed the first human rights bill, which was built upon under Douglas’ Saskatchewan Government, and also federally with Diefenbaker in 1960. But all these bills came out of a sense of community solidarity.

Not just the words on the paper, but the context, the intent…and sadly that is what has been missing a lot in public discourse in my nation. We gravitated to a simpler black and white system without realizing our nation has never been black and white. First Nations, English, and Francophone. Later saw Scottish and Irish fleeing English colonialism coming to Canada; loyalists from the US. Nordic country settlers into the prairies… to the 20th century and 21st century with refugees and new Canadians of all stripes.

Our identity has been forged in our differences. BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY the unity of one nation, under one law of collective rights, for the collective good. Essentially our rights exist up to the point they cause harm to the other, and then we work to welcome the differences of the other into our national fabric to make us better.

For the story of Canada is not one of revolution. It is not a story of religious battles. There are gruesome histories that need to be spoken about in truth, and in reconciliation to move forward from. But as a nation, we have always been driven by answering two questions, since the Skralings rescued the Vikings in Newfoundland…

Who is My neighbour?

And what does it mean to build a community together?

2017 we vote for City Councils and village/town leaderships in Alberta.

2019 is a federal election that currently has two parties searching for identity and leadership.

2020 in Alberta is another election where change can happen for the better.

But it is time as citizens to learn from our neighbours to the south, and what happens when you forget what made you as a people. Not the labels that divide, but what ties you together. No more into a mirror darkly.

2015 the best part of Justin Trudeau was he raised political discourse out of muck racking to a positive spin. Now though is our time to demand better. It is our time to demand political leaders running cast more than management cycles, budget sheets and sprockets–the things the bureaucracy is designed to handle.

Now is the time to demand actual leadership from each riding, from each person running, on their personal level, what is their vision for their village in the collection of villages? We want electoral reform, let’s send visionaries to Ottawa, Edmonton and City councils…not managers. Let’s elect those with heart and passion. Those that understand our national foundation within the Constitution and Charter of Rights & Freedoms.

For these beautiful documents speak to a guarantee the engaged citizens of Canada can hold to, and that is quite beautiful and simple:

Peace, Order and Good Governance.

Let’s dream no little dream. Let’s dream what is possible, and hold ourselves and our leaders to what we said we deserved.

-30-


It is funny as both the former Official Opposition, NDP, try to secure candidates for leadership, and the current Official Opposition, Conservative Party of Canada have a robustness of anglophones running to lead a bi-lingual mosaic of a nation…both decry the Liberals who are currently forming the government.

Yet…

How did Trudeau and his team win the government?

It was by changing the tone of rhetoric. Finally moving away from mudraking and playground bully sounds– to positivism. They chose a term that caught on as most Canadians, regardless of actual socio-economics latched onto as their truth “Middle Class”. It was the sound of something new, and yes there has been movement on some things, back tracking on others as what happens when new Governments begin within their first term, and their first quarter.

But this is not about whether or not I agree with Trudeau’s leadership. It is about what is missing from the public discourse in my country. We have given up expecting vision and excellence in leadership. If you have time, find the archives to listen to past leaders federal and provincial like Tommy Douglas, J.S. Woodshworth, Joe Clark, Pierre Trudeau, Robert Stanford, John Diefenbaker, Lester Pearson, William Aberhart to name but a few. Leaders that did not need soundbites. They had conviction, dreams and visions that were cast, worked on and fulfilled that created the Canada that became a benchmark for the world at large.

Then as a populace we began to accept less from our prospective leaders. And they met where we set the bar.

We have finally pushed it to a level of civility, let’s push it higher. Let’s expect our leaders to leave the sandbox and enter the podium of vision casters once more. CPC/NDP/Greens and the other 13ish available parties federally, are you listening?

Don’t choose the blusteriest person or settle– choose the one that sees the greatness that is the mosaic of Canada, the land of the Just Society, a home for all. Find the one that speaks from the heart, with conviction, and vision that excites to build forward from the foundation laid.

Your party in waiting wants to form the next government, it has to offer those steps beyond just positive politics…. so show us your vision. Show us your heart. Show us your conviction.

For the parties. Know who you are as a gathered community, and find the leader that resonates that outwards brightly, not the other way around.

So politically it is not what is your tweet or sound bite…but truly—

What is your heart for your nation?


Hmmm…So we are to trust a government that before elected cannot even communicate where to vote? hmmm…