Posts Tagged ‘Kevin Taft’


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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“You are right. You can fire me, but you cannot tell me what to do.”

-Jesse Stone to the Town Council (Jesse Stone series)

J.S. Woodsworth was a Methodist minister, a founding member and leader of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation, a labour activist who had the literal beating scars from police to prove it. He had worked tirelessly in his life to get Canada to treat all Canadians as Brother Jesus implored us to. Yet his values of anti-war and stopping evil entered conflict within him as he sat as a MP in Canada’s Parliament when it came time to declare war on Nazi Germany.

See he was against war. More than just conscientious objection, he saw in war for a way of the 1% to get wealthier through munitions and more efficient ways to exterminate human beings manufacturing, and as a way the wealthy used the draft to cull the herds of poor they saw as taxing on the country’s system. Yet, he also believed the horrors against humanity that his fellow caucus members in the CCF reported back about Germany and their program.

So what was he to do?

On that fateful day, Woodsworth would lose his job as leader of his party and movement, and not be elected again. As he would stand on the side of saving lives of poor Canadians and voting against the war. The one vote against, while the rest of his party voted with the other parties to enter the war. It is not about whether Woodsworth’s decision for anyone else was right or wrong, he had a conviction and made a choice. In that choice, he faced the consequences.

In 1990’s Alberta Kevin Taft as a governmental employee would face a similar choice as he recorder in Shredding the Public Interest (1997) where he recounted how one party rule was not for the betterment of Albertans. As it was in shredding documents that showed the government was intentionally screwing over the elders that built the province, and it resulted in a loss of his job.

Another choice of conviction.

These are hard choices to make in life. Yet we are all faced with them. Those moments when we need to decide, is this the hill I die on? Or does this path tie to other values of mine that can lead me forward. A former co-worker once described working with me as an acquired taste, for that resiliency. There was the grand mission of trying to make my corner of the world a better place where I could follow many paths. Yet in those instances where my heart became set on what was right in a situation whether it be for a group, a person or a practice there was no shaking the ground beneath my feet…and yes in those instances it did simply become one of “you as an organization can continue on that path but it will be without me.” Sometimes I chose to end the professional relationship, other times it was chosen for me. Yet regardless of how it ended, I would leave with my head up knowing I had made a choice much like those examples that opened this reflection.

Whether it was choosing communities of full inclusion regardless of gender identity, sexuality, mental health, being differently abled or cultural origin, which was a stand I needed to take on more than one occasion in my service in religions and spirituality.

Putting sitting government’s feet to the fire as a journalist, writer, speaker, activist, and student.

Challenging the norms of an institution to hopefully re-think how they existed to be a more open space.

Even in those moments where a group would pink slip me or so radically change my job description at a public meeting that my role was publicly voted out with me in the room, receiving death threats, being black listed from press access to certain government officials, or  one community having me resign to protect my children, only to have the things we had rattled the establishment to institute slowly roll out those changes that so challenged them (essentially using my family and I as a sacrificial lamb or a scapegoat).

Remembering a famous line, I had used in many battles:

This is about right and wrong for our community. You can fire me, I was looking for a job before I came here and I will find one no matter how I leave here. But what will not change is what those you try to segregate see as the true heart of their community and what they choose.

To the current challenge of where my family worships and the challenge it places on my being. This congregation has been good and inclusive, welcoming and warm. Yet it is part of a tradition that many times knocked me around because it did not want inclusiveness or change, other congregations where literally I had to surrender my ministry because I refused to be apart of acts of segregation.

The value challenge that I can feel Woodsworth must have gone through on vote day. Which value overtakes the other?

Does the brand matter as much as the local practice?

Finding a resting place of inclusion where my kids can be who they are called to be, where the family can be active. Yet part of me, still awaits the other shoe to drop. That tiny voice in the back of my head that can it be too good to be true? A simple way station where we have been apart of many that have just not gotten it. Where words and practice did not align? Perhaps the heart is weary, and this truth has no reconciliation left.

Or perhaps…

Simply perhaps…

Sometimes the battle has ripples that are left unseen for some…and…

Perhaps those ripples outside, need to simply be experienced. Only time will tell with the shattered bridges, burnt souls, and cast aside lives…if there is enough to continue moving forward, but I do know despite the challenges life has laid before me. So yes I have made a choice, one that sits with my values.

Despite the winding roads of life’s journey, one thing will not change.

That is the central core of my faith system.

Inclusion.

And yes my journey of understanding who my neighbour is has made that simple community aspect a non-negotiable.

What are your non-negotiable? Those ones where you literally would put livelihood on the line? In one word, what is that non-negotiable value for you?