Posts Tagged ‘Reboot Alberta’


I’ve been watching the centrist-left leaning debate around the UCP Christmas message, shared some of my preliminary thoughts on my own site, and respected The Rev. Greenwood-Lee’s (Bishop-elect), which from the Anglican’s Via Media (middle way) path of theology taking into account the four footed stool was quick and enriching. The challenge being those who need to understand the message, sadly, would have dismissed as they do not believe in the ordination of women to senior leadership roles. But I am digressing on the points as to why I have decided to way in again as it is taking on the form of discussion of the Dominionist Christendom drive to craft a theocracy in Alberta. Which is partly true, and partly true that there are many overthinking the act (Read about the Heresy here).

See, the Via Media is an apt Latin phrase for understanding what is happening and is everyone who professes a belief in Christ or Christianity apart of this? Well, no. But there is complicity if we who are not remain silent and do not use our own learned lens to speak out when things are used to abuse. I have a rather winding road of involvement within the Christianities (yes, long term readers will understand the term as there is a multiplicity of denominations, traditions, and teachings out there with Brother Jesus at the core, but the living out is different), and have been involved with what used to be known as State Churches (that is those that were formed in the Reformation or pre-Reformation tied to political power that brought us heresy such as the Doctrine of Discovery, I also point you to the great work in refuting this heresy by Knox Presbyterian Calgary minister Rev. Mark Tremblay). It is a balance of voices and encouraging voices to become active within their expertise area, a mosaic (much like Canada is) so that there is voices/teachers that can speak into each situation with the message.

This is the challenge that happens in the divisive divide that exists currently within Alberta politics. What Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks equates to dualism, for my side to be right, the other side must be complete evil incarnate and there is no middle ground (I encourage you to explore his writings if you want to understand a bit more the concepts emerging and emergent around the dualism of Old & New Testaments and the systematic (and mostly unknown to those in the pews) anti-Semitism). Why does dualism and anti-Semitism matter? Simple, it is what is being pointed towards the usage of the Isaiah quote within the Christmas Message.

Here is the thing, as someone who has been involved in spiritual formation, confirmation, membership education, sacrament preparation, monastic orders, higher Christian education from fundamentalist to progressive, and over 20 years involved in ministry across the Christianities, sadly at this point in history one thing is true: There is a religious illiteracy amongst many. That means, they do not explore outside of what is really explore on a Sunday morning, for those that do, they will usually become involved in teaching roles, and for others leadership, but as with many non-profits, leadership does not always default to the most qualified, but rather to those with the longest tenure or donation power. Not judging this system, for each organization must live and survive (some thrive). This is to share that throwing out terms such as anti-Semitic is not helpful in the discourse of trying to show wrongdoing. For even the hyper-fundamentalist-dominionism (the perhaps 5-10% of pew sitters) are also those that will blindly support the nation state of Israel, so do not see themselves as anti-Semitic (using the Hebrew Bible-nee Old Testament-scriptures to show a deficient state, or the supremacy of Christendom feeds into dualistic anti-Semitism, a rather hard concept to understand or think through). For those that are not on the more progressive thinking scale, they can begin to understand, but will still use these terms of Old & New Testament, or even use these passages in their Lectionary Cycle that may or may not be used in such a way, yet, the way it is designed is implication.

Exploring what one can take from the Government's Christmas Meme

So even progressives may balk at the term.

And what does it leave between the 5-10% on each extreme, 80% that were simply taught that the Hebrew Scriptures pointed to Jesus as Messiah, and do not see it as wrong, or it is never even touched upon. Throwing down the Anti-Semitic label, or how wrong it is to use, what is heard by those 80%?

Some say, it should be a call to learn and change, yet we are in a flux of massive societal change, and core beliefs are the hardest to move, long lasting learnings the hardest to jettison. What is heard is a message of inhospitality. See, this is the other personal aspect to touch upon in this post, how to cultivate, and decimate the Religious Right in Canada (I point you to The Armageddon Factor by Marci McDonald to explore the origin of this force in Canada). For my own life-long political journey of a political mosaic or rather all the colours of our parties and independent rainbows, I have found that those on the extremes are very unwelcoming to the religious. Those on the left, try to find ways to push you out through screening questions (you must answer with the exact words they want, or it becomes a debate that makes them uncomfortable), for those on the right that want to tap into the Religious Right of you, you must answer with the exact words of screening questions of they act to push you out (and answers that diverge but reflect living your faith makes them uncomfortable). Politically I can function more left than socialist, but truly it is through living my faith, and wrestling to understand the story and teaching from Brother Jesus in the Christian Testament (Nee New Testament, note the Anti-Semitism/dualism from those old labels?) that brings me to understanding and exploring the research, data, and the qualitative (that is the story/narrative of those impacted) to reach my decisions. Working within the parties in-between, there is discomfort with religion, because not realizing it, their approach to religion creates a gulf that makes one who is not ready to bear the brunt of a less chaotic storm, begin to think what they were told on the Left is true. If you want to believe the “myths” then the Conservatives are where you belong.

Note, what happens, when a fully engaged conversation that begins with unpacking what terms mean, examples of the rationale of why (moving beyond the 280-character limit) and ideological screenings creates? In the extreme, two instances: an apathetic religious who chooses not to be active at all, or will simply default to what the most active will tell them which is the Christian choice is on the right (and yes in Alberta I have even heard this in left leaning churches from the church board chair)—please note this is anecdotal, and shaped by my experience in Alberta, and having travelled within Canada’s religious and political world I do note it is not this simple, or black and white outside our rusted Bible Belt of a province.

Now, what have I discovered?

One being a bit hard-headed in asserting you space in the political world does help, but it is tiring, and you will be left battered (one of the reasons of pulling back on my end). But I have also found entering the work of discipleship with religious works well:

  1. This is where a non-partisan movement can cultivate a religious mentorship/think tank almost model.
  2. Where folks from the mosaic of Canada can come together and create resources, host seminars and courses, coffee/tea klatches for discussion (borrowing from the history and present of how shift happens).
  3. Take time to share infographics to full party platforms within these circles but do it as a blind study. Removing the party brands allows for them to wrestle with their belief systems and what it means in the public realm.
  4. Take time to move individuals beyond the smokescreen issues to what truly matters in their belief system, and how it can best be worked out.
  5. Understand when engaging in discussion to know which are key topics that can activate and it may not be what you realize, there is a passion to end sex trafficking, for ending poverty yet we allow the “Dominionist” to shape the conversation, re-take the conversation.
  6. Understand that in mentoring and connection, it is important to share a common understanding framework to begin therefore it is important to cultivate a healthy belonging space for religious discussion for those that need it to engage (but also have a stream where it is not necessary).

It is simple to break the back if you will of the heresy driving politics in Alberta. It begins with connection-discipleship-discussion-belonging. Cultivating a healthy space of equipping. This is what needs to be objectively thought through with the negligent messaging of our current governance.

The question is whether or not the divided political landscape of Alberta will allow the empty prairie of the middle to be heard and actualized?


Out of coffee with a friend/mentor comes a recommendation to explore George Monbiot (2017) Out of the Wreckage: A New Politics for An Age of Crisis which encapsulates many of the thoughts around community renewal, postulates some new ones, but truly percolates what is needed in our divided times (see my reflections on Rabbi Sacks works)– that is discussion, discourse and community building. For I see this work as something that harkens back to use during a simpler time, that when Pastor Douglas was growing the CCF and Pastor Aberhart was growing the Social Credit (yes I realize there was many involved in growing/educating these movements, I am using the two historical premiers as a short hand not as an all inclusive they did it independently fallacy).

See, they had their resources, for Aberhart it was social credit, for Douglas it was the Regina Manifesto if you will. It happened a household at a time, over tea and coffee times, with friends invited for study and discourse (much like a church plant if you will, growing and learning together as healthy community has the same points of genesis). This is how I can see this book work, over a few weeks of meeting together with then each small group choosing an activism activity that has come to mind from the text.

See the source image

It is at once a political science-political economics primer couched in cultural study which is easy to read and follow. Monbiot takes the reader through the short history of the shift from Keynesian theory underlying public policy and economics to Neo-Liberalism and its affect on the worker, community and shift from collectivism to exploited independent contractor to celebrity culture as they explore alienation. The continued exploitation and redefinition of the commons, whom it is actually to benefit. The writer touches upon what this looks like in ripple effects, and how it has impacted voting.

Two quick case examples are used, Trumps win in 2016 due simply to the fact that a plausible alternative could not be demonstrated to the Labour loss in the UK in 2015 to the Tories, simply because they had produced a till receipt platform (costed to remove their “threat” as seen in the media and corporate world) but forgot the connecting narrative of Hope that voters were looking for (wonder if this can be extrapolated to the NDP loss in 2015 in Canada federally?). Also a bonus snapshot later on is looking at Bernie Sanders, and how to empower volunteers and actual talk with folks to propel movements.

Why does this matter? Whether Monbiot is writing about economic choices, the balance between corporate or state control (actually more of a balance, with each having their own sphere of influence). To exploring what democratic reform needs to look like in its simplicity (single transferable vote) to online direct civic democracy like in the Nordic countries (quite a case study of rapid feedback and impact). Yet as you wind through the democratic reform what emerges is a topic I am familiar with, the important of co-operates, interdependence of citizens; fair taxation; belonging– more pragmatically for Canada is a renewal of the Constitution Act 1982 that would see an abolishing of the provinces to empower/equip the Federal and civic governments appropriately. It reads as the need for governance being local, known, and impactful (as well as held accountable).

It is not just a book for a bookshelf. I will be using ideas within my research on community building for my 2021 writing project. For the political activist though now, who wants to affect positive change I law out a simple path.

  1. Online or within your cohort (it is covid times) establish a coffee-tea book klatch to read-discuss and activate.
  2. As we head towards municipal elections, borrow from my 2006 playbook (which I borrowed from Rt. Hon. Joe Clark in Calgary City Centre 2000) and establish healthy rainbow coalitions of teams to run for the positions in your municipal or country councils; and school boards.
  3. Ensure it is not the candidate with the most money you are voting for (especially with election donation rules changing), but the one most connected to your local communities.
  4. Leverage the network of the rainbow coalition to renew community association, non-profit, community, sport league and if you have religious members, their boards for new vitality health and working together for the best of the communities you exist in and the households that make them up.
  5. Take time to understand and discover who your neighbours are, and how different ideas of co-ops and alternative economics may benefit everyone.

Just a few thoughts to begin percolating your thoughts. Healthy community based transformation is possible, it literally begins one household at a time rejecting the concept that our governance bodies are for sale.

What’s your first step out of the wreckage and into the rebuild?

P.S. if you haven’t already Albertans check these folks out who are doing great work, Reboot Alberta,


Alberta’s public-sector spending ins the lowest in the country in proportion to our economy. We have the lowest number of people working in the public sector as a proportion of our labour force than any other province. So where is the money going and where isn’t it coming from? Alberta is technically out of…

via UCP Lie #2: Government is Spending Beyond Our Means — Reboot Alberta

Sharing the great work from our friends at Reboot Alberta, and the thoughtful Ken Chapman.


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?


We are in an era of politics where apathy and entrenchment has led to an inability to actually talk to one another if they choose one party colour over another. An era where vandalism, threats and bullying have become common place in our body politic and campaigns. Where one can live in a comfort ability of post-truth. It has led to a disengagement and-or apathy (I mean, c’mon 54-60% turn out are historic highs).

I have been politically active my whole life. We had rambunctious conversations at dinners, over the television news, and at family celebration gatherings on topics such as health care, human rights, feminism, political parties and beliefs (I will not bore you with the details of my journey in political party land where I have been everything from Reform Party to Communist Party-both federally and provincially for those fun stories of my life, and Uncle Ed’s attempt to recruit me to the SoCreds, I refer you to my book- Soul Ripples). Suffice it to say I was more about what party policies were doing to aid citizens than partisanship- though I definitely went more to the progressive-pragmatist end.

I reflect on this journey that saw me run in 2006 as I look at the picture with Jack Layton. I ran for the New Democrats federally, but how my elders responded speaks more to how party’s should function within our democracy. They are to be a function- that is something that is influenced by the members, and elected members. Not simply the automatons of a leader. It is with the former how we get Peace, Order and Good Governance. My Great Uncle Red believed I would be a good Member of Parliament, but in conservative Calgary was concerned of my orange ways. He actually took the time to figure out what it would take to get me on the ballot as a Conservative if I so chose.

Community, family, working together on goals. Having the conversations about why and what makes our country (province) a better place for all. What is the core values. How do we use academics, science and scholars in line with the human factor to come up with the best solutions. But it only happens with community and belonging.

It is bumpiest journey, and where we are at currently politically it is hard to see folks across ideology have discussions. Yet it is possible. This what I was able to be a part of with a new movement, not about a new partisan party, but about connecting citizens, education, discussion and community. It is about taking what we learn through our conversations back into our own political realms or just our own circles of influence, to continue conversations.

The simple pieces of ensuring that our constitutional promise in Canada is held. Our current provincial government doesn’t represent that, but we can get it there. We do that, by being engaged and conversing.

The simple steps build bridges across the chasms of ideological trenches. For once you have had a meal, or even a cuppa with a person and a good conversation– it is hard to paint them as other.

rebootalberta.com is a movement of discovery, learning and connecting across partisanship, and post-partisanship. Check it out–they also have a Facebook page.