Posts Tagged ‘NDP’


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

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

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

Think. Engage. Demand good local representation.

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

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

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

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

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

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


Many on the political discourse like to look at other countries. Yes, I can spend my time doing that with what is happening in Hong Kong, Camaroon, Sudan, Ethiopia with the Annuyak, or our neighbours to the South (and yes I realize there is also the EU, and Middle East). But I think we need to address voter apathy here, because voter apathy allows for bad economics and governmental policy. It allows false narratives that governance is like a religion, non-profit or business model…it is neither, but can be all of those things. The current Religious Right ala Social Conservatives in Alberta/Canada that lead the religious charge are a multi-faceted mosaic, mostly good hearted, but are using the Cross or the Crescent (or pick the religious symbol) as a means of stripping away the care of neighbour which underlies most if not all religious belief systems. The ethic of care surrendered in the chasing of political power, and bringing everything down to a debt-credit bank statement style budgeting, and an either-or, us-them analogy that is also perpetuated by the secular-progressive-left.

This is a post I have been struggling to right, because I am religious, I believe in the Holy Trinity, and have shaped my life on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. Politically I fall in the Red Tory to Socialist-Communist leanings, yet I am not made to feel there is a political home there due to the hate I take for my religious beliefs. 

Image may contain: one or more people and textWhile the place where a religious is welcomed does not fit with my core values of what government is supposed to do in care of citizens.  It is what has led me to affiliate with a grassroots organization Reboot Alberta, and continue talking to folks that all levels of governance are important to engage in, and at the very least cast a vote in. Get to know the candidate above the party, understand we have more than 2 parties in Canada and Alberta and discover the party that resonates with you the most. Vote for something not out of fear to stop something.

This is where this ecclectica post began, as I begin ruminating on the City of Calgary and Province of Alberta begin their cuts.

City of Calgary-

We have not learned the lessons of history. We use austerity, and front line cuts as a way to show that we are being “fiscally prudent”, but do not address the burgeoning muffin top of city managers, and the exorbent pensions for City Councillors. Instead we attack the least. This started, as I wrote in Soul Ripples, with the way the City dealt with what is now deemed child sex trafficking when I was in high school, and the ripples it created in youth homelessness, youth gangs, rise, fall and re-rise of neo-naziism, and child sex trafficking.

I was reminded of this short sightedness when dealing with the property tax department as they cancelled my TIPP program in complete violation of the contract. The City did not accept responsibility or fix it. In fact they left it to me to fix, and pay a fee to re-up in the program. Not seeing the ripples of the time it takes a person to accomplish this, and that the re-up fee is directly from my family’s grocery budget as an unexpected expense. If I hadn’t solved the issue, or had been away and missed the deadline all together getting into arrears with property taxes can have the ripple of affecting insurance and mortgages, yet City of Calgary does not care. It is CYA all the way and screw the citizen.

Image may contain: 4 people, textLook at the first wave of austerity they have unleashed? 14 new suburbs, yet cuts to Fire, EMS and Police. In Fact, we are in the midst of a rise in youth gang violence (which actually is modus operandi for the council)…so they also cut free programs like the mobile skate parks, and shutter 2 pools. Places that create safe community for our youth are chopped. The ripple effect? As history has shown us, is more lost youth to the darkness, yet City of Calgary doesn’t care. It’s a CYA to protect themselves not govern the citizens.

Hence, a ripple effect of the current Government of Alberta approach, as municipalities are a function of provincial powers, not an autonomous entity. The current government refuses to release a budget until after the Federal Election. They can use any smoke and mirrors they choose, yet it comes down to the fact they have seen the effects the Ford Government has had on the federal party in Ontario and do not want to cause the same effect here.

Yet, it has created the conversations and actions noted above. Let’s look at the beginning roll outs after the smoke and mirrors of the 5% MLA pay cut, or even before when they attack the lowest paid-but hardest working- cutting minimum wage for youth workers from $15/hr to $13/hr, and now exploring cutting servers wages the same if they serve alcohol. The tax cuts to big oil that led to over 14,000 more job losses. Yup, it is for the people (note sarcasm for those who do not have a British background).

The us-them dichotomy is ringing true as they halted work  the new school curriculum. The new curriculum which was started under the PC Government pre-2015, and continued by the NDP government. Stating that the Alberta Teachers Association and partners were not apt to do this. They stated parents… well I was engaged and spoke about things in the previous curriculum consultations. Yet, lets be real…a good reality check. Who is the best equipped to design curriculum and curriculum delivery? Do you go to the doctor with a bursting appendix and be like, yeah I know this can kill me but really can you deal with my ingrown nail? Same effect here. I have seen the majority rules parental ruin of education. Under Klein it led to no fail policies, it has created a culture within education and society where bullying is so allowable we have 9 year olds committing suicide in Calgary. How about we let those trained in lifespan development, educational theory, pedagogy, curriculum development do their work. The goal of education is a well rounded, functioning life long learner. It is designed for those meant to go on to post-secondary to achieve there, for those meant to be in the skilled trades to thrive and achieve there, and for those not in those two streams to still be life long learners and discoverers so they are able to support the next, current and elder generations. See why educational curriculum in an era of post-truth become such a whack-a-mole? If everyone completes grade 12 (which Alberta has an atrocious track record of) as engaged citizens and critical thinkers, it makes ideological populist movements harder to steal power.

The next is the over 3 million cut to the Calgary Homeless Foundation. Now, yes it is bad, and punishes the most vulnerable. Yet, I want to engage in another conversation of question asking. Why do we have organizations like the CHF? Third Party funders that get government funds and distribute to the sectors. They are funded for a full staffing structure including directors, etc (taking money out of the helping pot)- they have created another organization to own real estate that then master leases to non-profits, so the non-profits don’t build their assets to leverage for clients. The questions that should be asked is, what is the full costing going towards the sector? What changes if they third party funder is removed? What increases in funding go to agencies? What happens if we direct fund the clients? So their decisions direct funds to the agencies they choose to use? How does this transform the sector in truly investing in staff health, staff retention, and increase to front-line staff salary for good human services delivery is built on the trust of relationship.

Yet, as the cut happens, it becomes an austerity measure, another us-them battle. But what happens when we engage and ask? What happens when the marginalized do not allow themselves to be herded into a one-size fits all solution. Admitting that each situation has a myriad of reasons to the now, and takes a mosaic to heal and get to home.

This is also the failure of the debate over the Supervised Safe Consumption Sites.  Location is important. It needs to be accessible to those in need. Yet, it also needs to be controllable. What does this mean? It means that the users need to be safe, the staff need to be safe, and the predators need to be kept out. Is the Sheldon Chumir the best location for this? Location wise, yes. For the other two, no, as it is too open and easily targetted. It is akin to when they moved the safe house for child prostitutes in the early 2000’s onto the actual stroll, the kids could get safety, but the pimps and predators were ringing the bell for them the next night. Perpetuates a cycle of harm acceptance. Now however if we critically look, expand, and create safety for harm reduction then it creates space for keeping people alive, having conversations, niggling out what led to…

Which is the other piece. See it is not safe sites OR treatment. False dichotomy for twitter wanks, and sound bytes. It is both and. It is not harm reduction OR abstinence based programs. It is both and. See, human beings are tricky, some who slip into addiction need the stability of harm reduction and may shift towards abstinence, others to simply survive need a sober environment period. To discredit either is to say that person’s life has no value in our society. But if the goal of harm reduction or abstinence is simply survival then it has missed the mark.

The root of the addiction is trauma. The human system attempting to null the unspeakable pain. This is the other sound byte that annoys me speaking with front line staff. Trauma informed care is not a pass for a person to be abusive, it is understanding where behaviours come from and in the courageous safe space to have conversations around healing, and when something goes awry to be in that type of intimate healing relationship to be held to account.

But that word T-R-A-U-M-A. It is healable. It takes time, it takes trained clinicians. It takes healthy community around a person. No, it is not staying in unhealthy family or community, rather it is knowing where health is and re-planting oneself there. It takes expansion of mental health services, normalization, and giving a damn about one another. It takes the removal of labels, and seeing each other as citizens, but beyond that as a PERSON. We are not monetary transactions, we are people. The simple act of being people, is our inherent value.

The question though, is as are we going to allow this current populist belief system to continue, or are we going to critically engage and challenge what needs to happen. To firmly, accurately, and compassionately call out the false narratives and dichotomies regardless of the institution they exist in and we exist in as members?

Are we willing to truly be person first in this life?


It is something I have pondered throughout my journey. Those younger, the next and now leaders. What are we constantly teaching them? Do we teach them their inherent worth? This is more than simply words spouted towards them, it is the actions of those around us, and what the see. It is not simply do as I say, rather it is they will do as we do. So how do we act? What is the current meta narrative of our world?

In Calgary, AB 2019 a Nine-year old girl was bullied so badly in her Calgary Board of Education public school she took her own life. 2-0-1-9. The Board’s response, we investigated, nothing to see here. Bullocks. Multiple stories that may not have ended with a taken child’s life, but of the board, principals and teachers turning a blind eye. Nothing to see, don’t rock the boat. It is the anti-thesis of the WE Day movement, World Youth Day and Challenge Days. We LET BULLIES WIN!! And when it is called out, our “managers” (we have a leadership/statesperson deficit) do everything to deflect, and cover up.

But why do our children act this way?

This is a time to quote former Premier Jim Prentice:

“Albertans (and all world citizens-my add) need to take a hard look in the mirror.”

Why? We have created a world where anger and hate (white supremacist, Alt-Right, Fascists, Extremists of all stripes) are courted by political parties to gain and hold power. When in the world of social media you are censored for hate speech, it is an infringement on your rights of freedom of speech. Nope, sorry. Non-starter. Hate is hate. I don’t care if the bully has cloaked it in Conservative or Liberal rhetoric, in Sikh, Islam and Christian Theology, it is hate. It needs to be called out and shut down.

In 2019 Alberta on April 16, 2019 we showed our children bullies win. That the ends justify the means. No, this isn’t just heaping on the investigation of voter fraud (Both ongoing with Elections Alberta and the RCMP) with the UCP (United Conservative Party). The proven times of stolen/vandalized signs, the bullying of local citizens at candidate debates, and the attack/smear ads. It is also pointing out that the Government seeking re-election of the New Democratic Party which should have been campaigning on their record and their ideas, launched pre-writ drop on the low road with their own attack ads (yes it was using candidates’ own words and actions, but still negative); on the attack of Jason Kenney, which was a whistle to their own base as those that had issue with these character items of Kenney had already decided not to support him and the UCP based on that.

Both our Governing Party and the Loyal Opposition went low. The conglomerated media and social media allowed and cheered it on. Within the world of algorithms it is infinitely easy to never have to look critically at your own or another’s point of view for your feeds will only ever bring you what you believe. When the other parties attempted to raise policies of vision, and debate they were shut out and belittled (much like the other two were doing with one another). Parties like the Greens, Alberta Liberals and Alberta Party that should have elected MLA’s– the fear and anger machine of entrenched ideology within this historic voter turnout (64% officially, highest turnout since 1982) delivered us the anger machine Legislature.

That is two parties, their roles reversed. Is this peace, order and good governance as our Constitution Act, 1982 promises? Or is it a province within the stages of grieving trapped in the denial and anger phases unwilling to let go of what was, and discover what is to come and live into it, support one another in rebuilding and renewing. A statesperson or leader with a vision would cast it– unfortunately we got angry yelling middle managers quibbling over a budget line and seeing citizens only as a number, not as the person before them. Two parties, unwilling to admit that a province needs to heal, instead they stoke the anger and denial to hold to or win power. They become the bully.

Our children see that bullies win. Those that don’t lose.

It is exacerbated more in the USA under President Trump, and yes I have been around the USA a bit and have seen the divided community. It is one of the things that I am intrigued by Marianne Williamson running for President. Anyone can win in 2020, but someone entering the race to change the tone of discourse is always a good thing. I did pick up her book from our local library, Politics of Love (2019) and once read will post a reflection.

But back to Canada… we also show that there is no need to respect one another, we can belittle. Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, the Conservative Party of Canada, has shown this in Parliament’s Question Period recently where they refuse to refer to our Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, as Prime Minister, instead it is Liberal Party Leader. Sorry gents and ladies, whether you like the outcome of 2015 or not, he is the office holder and as such deserves respect for that. If anyone had done this to PM Harper when he was in Question Period the media would be all over it. Instead the base swells with pride and cheers, wears shirts and waves signs calling for our Prime Minister to be hung for treason (which shows an understanding of Canadian Law at least, for treason and cattle rustling are the only two offences that can still carry the death penalty). But hyperbolic anger theatre is the norm. Denigrating the other from personhood to hated. To a guillotine being brought to an anti-populist Premier Ford rally in Ontario.

If this is free speech, I am glad in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms Canada has Freedom of Expression, and it is time the RCMP and local police started enforcing that differential. It is all used to create this atmosphere that you vote against something, not for something. You choose lesser evils, and if you refuse the dichotomous narrative then you are an “idiot”, and will not be able to stop the other.

Any wonder why voter turn outs are so low? Yes, 64% though historic is bloody low. Any wonder why we have an increase in bullying?

Extremism exists across spectrum and theologies. It is disgusting, and needs to be called out. Not covered up, not excused, or at worse accepted. It needs to be called out, and exorcised like a demon in the Exorcist movie-pea soup and all.

But we have glimmers of hope. Thankfully. In a recent Abascus poll on the up coming Federal election, 4000 Canadians were interviewed. Yes, I realize I dislike polls and 4000 is a small sample size, but hey you work with what you got for hope. Of those questioned 40% were in support of the fifth place party in our House of Commons, the Green Party of Canada. Why is this a sign of Hope? It shows that people are thinking beyond the usual dichotomy in the Canadian mind for Federal governance of Liberal-Conservative. It also shows that the usual protest vote of Bloc Quebecois, or conscience vote of New Democrat is not resonating. Could the old parties be being rejected? Could new ones get a kick of the tires and a spin for 4 years in October? Only if conviction is held to vote for what one believes in, not out of fear against stopping something. Nothing has ever been stopped or ended by undermining or selling out one’s own inherent values.

On this too, I have to touch on the Prince Edward Island provincial election. True the projected Green government did not happen. But let’s look at it. In the waning days of the election sadly, a candidate for the Greens and their son lost their lives in a canoeing accident. All the parties ceased campaigning for the remainder of the election. Class. Hope.

On election night, all the leaders were together from what I could see from the media feeds, and hugged after the results (yes older men). It is a minority government, with the Progressive Conservative Party being the government, but the Greens are the official opposition. Hope. Something has changed. Also the PC government not joining the anger train of the mainland populist movements speaking of listening to citizens. Hope.

Listening. Hearing. Acting on behalf of another.

Things that breed hope.

Seeing others, as neighbour, as a person.

And then reflecting, even in opposition life, what matters most in the discourse? What is the ends that is truly supposed to be and do the ends really justify any means possible?

The now and future leaders learn behaviours by how their adults (parents, extended family, neighbours, elders) behave, not by what we say.

What do your actions teach?

Are you creating ripples of hate or HOPE?


As was written previously, anyone following any form of news media can see the political long knives are coming out for a blood bath in the 2019 provincial election. The UCP anger machine and NDP anger machine are in full throttle. Both are arguing over that Alberta Advantage, well, let’s take a look back from a perspective on life since the Klein era “common sense revolution”. The fact that this era normalized addiction, and no it was not because our Premier was a known alcoholic it goes deeper than that. This is not a debate about abstinence vs. harm reduction methods or safe use sites or methadone, etc…all those things work dependent on the chemical dependency. No, this is exploring how the drive to privatize normalized addiction for a province as a means of funding public services.

I note privatization, for it is the time period when registries, driver tests and liqour stores all went private. Short-term money makers, long-term impact. I still remember being in high school and knowing if the bars ever started IDing I would just have to walk into a registry with 50 bucks to get a legitimate ID with a false birthday. (There is much controversy recently with the Government taking driver testing out of private hands, but there has been many rumours and proofs that it is a necessity for road safety). Although as I moved into sober living, trust me it is a challenge as a writer or to be involved in politics alcohol free.  The privatization of liqour stores led to an explosion in neighbourhoods where literally I believe in the properties here in NE Calgary we have one in every strip mall. The more private retailers meant it was more easily accessed, and flowed more easily to all age groups.

Also saw more of a prevalence in checkstops, as drunk driving has become a plague in Alberta. Also though many excuses are given due to the ebb and flow of oil and gas and the Alberta economy for the reason behind high rates of usage, and domestic violence. But I liken these excuses to what the courts have ruled in the drunk defense for assaults and sexual assaults, it is not a get out of jail free card. We have built a province where it is acceptable to drink, where we actually don’t truly look down on the functional alcoholic that can still hold it together it is a communal reflection we need to look at in the mirror. The more alcohol used, the more money went into government coffers in “sin” taxes.

It goes hand in hand with the rise of other chemically dependent crisis whether it was crack, meth or fentanyl, all a way to dull the pain, a symptom of covering up the hidden pains as we push forward with the fallacy of the Protestant stiff upper lip cultural toxicity.

Due to the high cost of living for those below the upper-middle class cut off, what became normalized was a forced or adapted workaholicism. That is for some households it was multiple jobs for all involved to keep themselves afloat, or for one person to maybe white knuckle through recovery of another addiction to simply push forward keeping themselves busy. As the Third Way of health care wrecked havoc on things like P3’s for extended care, it meant many having to put in 3-5 years of work in a year span to simply cover the cost for their loved ones. But we grinned proudly to the world for looking at the hard working folks of Alberta.

As our infrastructure like schools, hospitals, roads and non-profits crumbled we got a “blessing” from the government. Or it is one that some have stated to me in spiritual centres, non-profits or schools (and hospitals). Proceeds from gambling. Whether it is lotteries, or casinos that non-profits can staff to reap the windfall from. It is putting out there that the responsibility of supporting things for the public good fall upon those things that can cause the most harm. It places non-profits in a position to wrestle through the ethics around taking money from what can be addiction fueled industries to fund their efforts in making a better world. For parents in a parent council, it lays out the challenge of needing to reflect on one’s own ethics and values for participation in a society’s that government has deemed simple things as computers, libraries and upkeep need to fall into fundraising initiatives and things such as Casino revenues.

Is it a blessing? Or is it simply a way to place a placebo happy sticker over an initiative that may be fun for some, but detrimentally harmful to others? A simple way to say “hey we care, look you can access this…” but not caring enough to actually direct appropriate funds. The Calgary Board of Education would scream that the loss of their ability of School Fees is why they have shortfalls, totally ignoring that Education Minister Eggen and Alberta Education had made up those shortfalls in their budgets. I could see the same screaming happening if the ability to use the addiction industries for funding were lost.

But here’s the challenge, what happens if we were to remove that funding stream and create appropriate government grants? What if we curtailed the availability of some of these forms of addiction? Would the need for services decrease? I do not know.

I do know as we head into the election, it is a discussion that needs to be had policy wise. Especially within a province in the midst of economic transition. It creates an uncertain space for many, where old industries are vanishing, new ones are coming in, cultural norms and economic norms are changing. It is a grief cycle our province is in, each of us at different points. Each point opens up a risk factor to addiction to null the pain, and if we place the onus on funding on those nulling agents, we are creating a cycle of pain that we may not escape from.

Ask questions. Discuss ideas. Think of all citizens. Create a province we can be proud of. Vote in 2019, not strategically but for what you value.

 


Ah longing for days of yore. When Alberta became “debt free”, and “King Ralph” reigned as Premier. It is amazing though what is forgotten within this reminiscing. As we gear up for probably the dirtiest and nastiest Provincial Election in 2019 between the entrenched ideologues United Conservative Party (Official Opposition, supposed government in waiting) and the New Democratic Party (the governing party); perhaps it is time for an old journo and politico to dust off the highlights of this era for the non-wealthy that we seem to have forgotten.

The entire premise of the Alberta Advantage was built on three fallacies:

  1. The market and privatization are better than government and public sector.
  2. trickle down economics works (that is the failed belief that when the wealthy are wealthier, the poorer become richer).
  3. The government costs per citizen were out of control, when in fact when the costs per capita were adjusted appropriately for inflation it was shown that costs had risen negligibly in the era of the P.C. Governance of the province.

This was the era of rapid emigration from other provinces to Alberta for “jobs” while failing to remind folks that the jobs that were growing were unskilled labour, or minimum wage jobs that required 2-3 to make ends meet and hopefully break even.

The flat tax era. This is a stepping stone many point to as needed for wealth, but were we the lowest taxed in Canada at this time? Well, let’s look at the shift that happened with the flat provincial income tax. Public Services entered the era of the “user fee”; which is essentially a government tax on services that one is not able to recoup if they fall behind a certain wage line. Such users fees introduced were for public education; public health care (ah the wonder of the monthly levy); libraries; and anything else that a fee could be attached to.

Also saw divestment from community public schools into more government funding for private and charter schools. A system created for funds to follow the child wherever they went. Sociologically the effect created a stratification between the have and have nots, but also removed the backbone of why public education creates a healthy society– that all socio-economics and cultures/religions of an area go to school together.

The de-regulation of public utilities. Following California’s idea that private industry could do utilities better than the government which is bullocks. There is no way to effectively privatize utilities for cost that would benefit the consumer, possibly if all companies were on hand at the build and owned the supply and the lines, but we are a bit beyond that. While many in urban areas (rurally is another issue) complain vehemently about the Conservative idea of the implement Carbon Tax under Premier Notley they have missed the biggest levies costing families money on their utility bills. That is all the regulatory and supply fees that have grown costs exponentially. Oh, and the grand King Ralph de-regulated even after California announced failure with the experiment.

The rise of control of public discourse. Government was wielding a big stick in this era. I remember them threatening to and pulling funding from arts programs that put on shows or plays they did not agree with. The biggest spectacle made of trying to shut down the play “Angels in America”.

But the censorship of ideas did not end there. With the rise of a more Americanized public education system (which the idea of funds following child is actually from the Democrats I believe), came the concept of the banned book list. The removal of teaching history and context with literature, and that which offended could be shunted away. Things from Dickens, Shakespeare, Twain (and yes even me) were all put away for various reasons. The updated banned literature list was released each year on the first day of “Freedom to Read Week”.

The rise of high school drop outs that rivaled developing nations. We saw during this era a full on creation of a volunteer sector to enter Schools to meet with youth for 1 hour a week who were deemed at high risk to volunteer. Why? Drop out rates where crippling, for a couple reasons:

  1. if you could not pay school fees and your child was 16 the school would “drop them out”.
  2. Unskilled labour and rig work targeted this age group for workers.

For those that believed in the Protestant-Work Ethic narrative our parents told us about getting through school on to tech school, college or university then great work. What met us was a crisis of out of control tuitions and costs that burdened Generation X and Millenials with a crushing debt before even entering the living wage career field.

Speaking of work, it was under the wonderful Klein regime that two things happened:

  1. Elimination of tiered minimum wage (used to be from 16-17 you made $4.50/hour, at 18 it went up to $5/hr).
  2. The legal age to work in the province (not talking flyer force or newspaper route, we are talking service industry) was lowered to 12 years old (yes we proudly brought back child labour).

It was also during this era that something wonderful could have happened. The government seeing the success of the Waterloo model for ending institutionalization of persons with disabilities and mental health issues and moving them with appropriate housing and supports into communities. Unfortunately due to the faux crisis the government created in the minds of Albertans, what happened was only step one–the closure of institutions; and a rapid increase of complex individuals into homeless shelters.

Oh and homelessness? It became a crisis in the “Alberta Advantage” and “Wealthy Alberta” for years there was not a year that did not go by where the government did not declare states of emergencies during winter months due to the imminent threat of loss of human life.

Alberta Works (Welfare) was also used in the austerity crisis as a weapon. There was a meta-narrative crafted that people were scamming the system to not have to work. The concept of the “lazy welfare bum”. What was not spoken of was that the rental portion of Alberta Works for a single up until 2012 was $183/month; in 2012 it was increased to $323/month (where can one rent?). This was deducted from the cheque for a single that would not exceed $700/month approximately, if they were lucky to get medical it would increase to $900. Yes, part of the system was medical covered which was nice.

It was also the era that saw the Alberta Income for the Severely Handicapped (Premier Redford, the 3rd last P.C. Premier brought in a nice raise for this monthly entitlement to up it to $1588/month). It was not until Notley’s government that much of the red tape was cut away to allow easier access. Unfortunate is that it is designed for those who should not be working, but it has built in mechanism for work to top up income.

They say there was a building boom. Yet chronic of homeless increased as the motels/hotels/trailer parks they would have lived in shut down for condos, and houses. Businesses pushed a building boom for new spaces and moved around, leaving old empty. We talk of a crisis of vacancy now, but it was always there just hidden through the constant moving around. Building was happening, but not out of necessity.

Federally and provincially, funding stopped for affordable housing for those in need. We did not plan for the fact the generation governing at this moment, and the biggest generation- the Baby Boom would be aging into seniorhood. In fact, we know how badly seniors were screwed over by the Klein government (and every government since); thanks to the bravery of whistleblower Kevin Taft’s book Shredding the Public Interest that showed how we used to care for our elders and now, well we leave them to their own devices in a lot of ways. It used to be complete coverage, now it is Blue Cross cost share plans for medical. The sad shell-game of removal of massive rights of being an elder in Alberta, and the pittance returned preyed on those that built our province in a disgusting and abusive way.

I was thankful that my Granddad was a veteran when his emphysema set in and he needed medical help. Veterans Affairs covered everything so we did not have to play these petty Alberta games. (No, I am not a Liberal schill even though those were the Chretien years, I took him to task as much as Klein, I was a working class writer).

Ah health care, with the drive being for “privatization” it was a gutting of Pastor Tommy Douglas’ dream that no family would have to go bankrupt to care for themselves. It was also premised on the idea health care is for the healthy, that is like saying life insurance is for the living. Health Care is there when we are in need, the encroachment of privatization, closure of beds, implosion of hospitals, is all being seen in repercussions today with long wait times; lack of capacity for medical whether the be physical or psychological services; continued challenges on long ER wait times, and lack of EMS. Our Aboriginal elders speak of making decisions with forethought on how it affects 7 generations down the line…Rod Love, Klein’s right hand admitted they did not have a plan, less than a generation down the line we are literally suffering on hallway gurneys as a result. The Third Way is a failure, and the fact the NDP has not acted on all the information they have from experts to correct it in this term is a failure as well.

Let us not forget our bread and butter industry. Oil & Gas. It was during the Klein era when it left the hands, as Lougheed would say of being Albertans’; and became the natural resource of the multi-nationals. Royalties were plummeted (fallacy of trickle down); and our Heritage Trust Fund, the model that Norway used and whose citizens are reaping the benefits of now, well… it did not turn out so well for us.

I love my province. Part of a democracy is the ability to challenge ideas. It is not about crushing the opponent, or a blood sport. It is about the interchange of ideas. It is about what is best for the citizen. Yes during the Klein era and after, we lost the concept of citizen, and the only people that mattered were “tax payers”; and even then not all tax payers just the 1%. It is time to reclaim out constitutional promise of Peace, Order and Good Governance. In the school yard antics of the NDP-UCP currently I do not see that. I encourage you to look to Alberta Elections site for all registered parties:

https://www.elections.ab.ca/parties-and-candidates/parties/ 

Find one that resonates with who you are. Get active, even run as a candidate. Personally for my riding I am leaning towards the Alberta Liberals or Alberta Party. But it does come down to me the strongest local candidate (yes they need to be from the area); then what the party stands for; and finally the leader. For remember, members voting on a leader is a function of a system, the actual system allows for caucus (the elected members in the Legislature) at any time to take a vote of confidence in the leader and replace them. That is why it is oh so important you look to your local candidate for credibility and character.

As we move towards an election, open yourself up to not only answering what things effect you, but all citizens of Alberta. Think globally, act locally… and vote for a better future not a re-tread of the damaging past that has left us this quagmire.

 


A host of randomness, because, well its my site and my mind lol.

NDP MLA Stephanie McLean resigns her seat, though she has been MIA by the sounds of it since the spring session. The Speaker stipulates not going forward on releasing the names of the 2 NDP MLA’s who were investigated for misconduct, a weird start to an election year for the governing party.

Kenneygate continues on Twitter with more coming out about non-disclosed/reported donations and donations in kind.

Looking at the governing party, and the supposed government in waiting, is it no wonder I am leaning towards Alberta Liberal or Alberta Party for my vote.

Two endorsements, sadly for ridings I do not live in, but if you do:

Calgary-East vote Gar Gar (Alberta Party) a tireless community builder, and investor in the next generation.

Edmonton West Henday Vote Leah McRorie (Alberta Liberal) a tireless advocate of humanity, inclusion and disability rights. She is a voice our legislature needs to ensure all Albertans are heard from.

Now a shift to pop culture. I must be one of the few Trekkies left on the planet not to see Star Trek Discovery Season 1 (it is on order from my wonderful Public Library). What i have is read the first Discover novel by David Mack, and this past Christmas Season, the two comic collections (some would say graphic novels, but for an oldster like me those were special one of stories while collections were numbered issues brought together as a trade paperback).

The first one I read was Succession. What drew me to it was my love of the Mirror Universe. For the uninitiated (or new reader to the site) the Mirror Universe is exactly what is sounds, the shadow reflection of the main Trek-verse. Instead of a Federation, it is a Terran Empire. Succession brings forth the best of the Mirror Universe in all its genocidal glory, originally was a 4 issue mini-series. The collection also had a bonus annual, that was a love story of what brought a scientist (Lt. Statmets) into Starfleet. Not wanting to give any spoilers, but it is Trek at its best.

The next was a solely Klingon adventure- the Light of Kahless. A religious-philosophical exploration of the Klingon Empire that has fallen into corruption, and what a dishonoured-minor house can do to redeem the Empire. Exploring the Klingon Monastery on Boreth, and what exaclty the reincarnation of Kahless and his light is for the Empire through main character T’Kuvma. The journey feels like a spiritual-political fable, at times reminiscent of the Star Trek: The Next Generation two-parter, Redemption; and at other times of the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episodes focused on the clone of Kahless.

Solo a Star Wars Story was fun. I know many did not like it, but it was a fun adventure-treasure hunt. What else would one expect from the younger days of Han Solo? Donald Glover as Lando is priceless. Go in looking for a fun movie and that is what you will get. Go in as an over-serious fan-boy, and yeah be bitter. I prefer to love fun.

Four episodes into the twisty-turny Netflix series, YOU. Yes, I will be nice and give the trigger warning for those who have ever been stalked this may not be for you. Why? It is the story of two stalkers, both trying to bring out who they believe the main character Beck to be. Don’t want to give any spoilers, but it is done in such a way as good writing is that you feel for the main character, being Joe (think of how Harris humanized Hannibal Lecter).

Just some meandering thoughts as we enter 2019…as for Oprah’s Greenleaf in season three, one episode in and I do hope it picks up as it has lost the pinache that made a good show.

-30- for now.


Image result for mouselandThere are many things in my social gospel journey I look to as inspiration and formation. One is the story of Mouseland (listen here). It is a simple story of how one should vote. Not political ideology or brainwashing some on the right of the political spectrum may say. Rather it is about pointing out that when it comes to voting we look at our society as a whole, and care and growth for all those we call neighbour.

The story is about Mouseland that keeps electing cats, and can’t figure out why they are always seen as “less than”. Until one brave mouse points out, perhaps it is time to vote for a mouse– that is one from the local community that gets them and will look out for them.

This is a good message moving into elections as we note the resurgence of nationalism, populism, fascism, and hate around the globe and at home.

In Ontario we see Premier Ford’s PC Government that have left behind the proud heritage of the Progressive Conservative Party, and are out to cut for retribution. Whether it means francophones shut out; refugees; children in the system losing their advocate; sexual education repealed back to the dark ages or removing human rights from gender minority groups.

In Alberta we are seeing what is beyond social conservatives digging their nails into the official opposition with their militant anti-LGBTTQ2+ rehtoric; anti-abortion; privatize healthcare and education march. An official opposition that is also pictured partying with white supremacists.

Yet we also have a governing party from the left, the NDP that covered up 2 accusations of sexual misconduct by sitting MLA’s (and yes you can disclose the accusations and investigations without outing the victim). They also have 2 MLA’s that have left caucus, one for another party after a stop in indepenence, and another as an independent. Robyn Luff from Calgary East citing bullying.

But beyond that, the party whose one of their key leaders brought Mouseland into oration so powerfully for generations… that share the story in schools…has MLA’s who are having adventures in missing the point (from Twitter w/NDP MLA Michael Connolly, and shared by NDP MLA Deborah Drever):

 

Yes a fun play on words from the black/white cats of Mouseland…yet by using “coolcats” they are now identifying with those not in it for the citizens.
Hopefully, just a misnomer, and not a sign of the drift of a once decent party.

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.


Now I have gone back and forth on taxing the churches my whole life. For me it comes down do they fulfill what their beliefs say, do no promote hatred, and are community involved is really what should allow them the privilege they have. Yes it is a privilege, and the religious communities need to remember that, it takes quite a bit to get that privilege in Canada.

And, the Roman Catholic Church has held a special part of my faith journey. I have seen welcoming parishes, and parishes that have bent over backwards to ensure belonging of all God’s Children. I love the mystery, and the sacraments, and the depth-breadth of theological and social science discourse that can happen. During my Franciscan formation there was no Ecumenical or Anglican group in the city so I fellow-shipped with the Secular Franciscan Order, have used the FCJ centre for personal retreat, and been in one parishes Lay Ministry of Praise (prayer).

But I do believe it is time for the Canadian Government to take a stand that will rile many, but I believe it is necessary. Those watching current events of the political nature in Canada have noted the fact that due to the structure of the Roman Catholic Church it is easy for the Vatican to duck responsibility on issues and to be held account for abuses. It usually allows the local diocese, and parish to take the hits while avoiding any hint of “official responsibility”. Popes will speak of personal remorse or sorrow around abuse (residential, sexual) that has happened to parishners, residential school survivors (not just Canadian, it was a format they used on other continents). The most lawyerly of answers.

Which is an affront to one of their key 7 Sacraments to stay in true good Communion with the Body of Christ. That is what was once known as the Sacrament of Confession, since Vatican II has become the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  In its essence, it is admitting a wrong one has committed and seeking out within one’s whole person to be reconciled new, and to make amends to the party harmed. What are we to do with a group that will not honour their own belief systems? Core beliefs at that? A group that’s inaction has left them from following through on monetary support to residential school survivors, and due to lack of official apology are putting the TRC process in jeopardy for our hurting nation. TRC-Truth and Reconciliation- let that set in for what the church is avoiding.

You will read and hear many reasons and rationales. Some Conservative MP’s would not support the unanimous call to action to get the Pope to Canada. They sited their conscience against a government curtailing a group’s freedom of religion (I have no issue with free votes, as I have noted I dislike and think the whipped vote is unconstitutional)…yet we need to be pragmatic when thinking of freedom of religion as halting this. What else could be avoided judicially and civilly by a religious group hiding behind this? (I think of stories around Jehovah Witness’ cover ups; and other cover ups under this guise).

What is at play is simply will the Pope, head of the Vatican State and spiritual leader of the Roman Catholic Church truly enter the sacrament of reconciliation with all victims of his church’s practice and cover up. Will the Canadian Bishops allow it on our soil?  Personally, I would love to see it happen from the throne of the Vatican as a declaration made from the infallibility position. Would it be painful for the Vatican, its dioceses, parishes and religious orders? Yes. Would many lands, buildings and monies be lost? Yes.

But here is what happens when a body is held to account and lives out the professed beliefs…think of what healing would happen within the world.

Second best, if games continue to be played…then tax them like any other business.

Further Reading:

Bishops push back

Conservative MP blocks Unanimous Call for Residential School Apology from Pope Francis

 


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.