Tag Archives: politics

Playing footsy, or just being sensible?

The Alberta Liberal Party put forward, an albeit desperate but still clear-headed, open letter to the NDP (and assuming, the Alberta Party) to join forces as a progressive coalition.

While their intention comes off as a second chance prom date, the Liberal party is doing what progressives have been calling for over the past five years: reaching out to be bigger, stronger, and better representatives.

The NDP response was a much less welcoming and firmly planted them in the “we don’t want to share our toys” category.

The fact of the matter is that the Wildrose Alliance will be picking up seats come election season. The Progressive Conservatives are unlikely to be ousted quite yet, as they still have the star hitters running for re-election and Albertan’s still support the party. The Alberta Party may get some votes in, but not having any members south of Calgary and focusing in urban centers, where votes go to die, certainly won’t guarantee them any party status.

The Liberals, the NDP, and the WAP have strong and well liked members. While, the NDP’s two makes up for a good number of inactive and ineffective PCs, however, they number is still two. Two very hard-working, very intelligent people, but again, still two.

Two against eighty-one, and clearly it is against.

We have seen these dog fights time and time again. Electoral academics must be shaking their heads as they see the numbers dance before them, as they see potentially progressive ridings go nowhere, and keep on keepin’ on.

I am not a partisan hack, and I am a little too jaded to have believed anything positive would come out of Swann’s open letter, but somewhere, deep down inside, I cared.

The NDP may say the Lib’s stand for nothing, and have no party guidance but at least they recognize that Alberta is in trouble democratically and they reached out. For themselves, but also for Alberta.

Swallow your pride progressives, and do something that isn’t for your party brand or your personal political ideology but for the good of democracy and Alberta.

p.s. – I have to say, I took some exception to the NDP’s claim of responsibility for ridding the Alberta Legislature of the ‘third way’ discussion. I’d like to think Albertans and the many non-partisan advocacy groups involved in health care campaigns  had something to do with it too.

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Shuffling the deck, or: other assorted sinking ship references

January fifteenth 2010, Premier Stelmach did some light shuffling to his cabinet. The opposition has come up with many witty phrases remarking how this shuffle was little more than a last ditch attempt to appease right wing Progressive Conservatives to keep the PCs strangle hold on the Alberta Legislature, and while this might be true there is something to be said about the changes that were made.

Stelmach changed two visible and divisive portfolios, putting former Sustainable Resource Development Minister Ted Morton into the ministry of Finance and Enterprise and placing Gene Zwozdesky – MLA for Edmonton-Mill Creek – into the ministry of Health and Wellness. Other substantial changes included moving Iris Evans, the minister who bore the brunt of the fiscal downturn out of the Finance portfolio and into International and Intergovernmental relations, keeping Doug Horner in the Advanced Education and Technology portfolio, and moving Ron Liepert from Health and Wellness to Energy.

The shuffle was a clear shift to the right, placing some of the most vocal “fiscal conservatives,” including rookie MLA Jonathon Denis, who is a member of the ‘fiscal four’ into cabinet as Minister of Housing and Urban Affairs. Considering the province’s pledge to end homelessness by 2019, Denis has quite the challenge in front of him. A minister from Calgary, his previous right wing affiliation has come into play when meeting with student groups, including his defense of the pro-life club in last year’s University of Calgary vs. pro-life club situation. Denis is not the only conservative minister to secure an influential spot in cabinet. Every top-level position has gone to an MLA who has supported fiscally and/or socially conservative policies within the Progressive Conservative party, not to mention exhibiting extreme party loyalty.

Truthfully, it’s a fairly boring cabinet shuffle, giving truth to the phrase “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” Fiscally, Morton in cabinet is every true progressive’s nightmare come true. Morton has been vocally in favour of privatization of services, both in his education and political life, as well as in his alliance with the University of Calgary’s “Calgary School” and the now-famous Friends of Science. All told, this does not bode well for social services and those that support them in Alberta. These moves hit especially hard in light of the recent choice to make substantial cuts to disability funding in Alberta. Moving Morton to Finance also gives what might be viewed as a public blessing from Stelmach and could denote a possible incoming PC leader, an “anointed one” to replace Stelmach when he moves on.

Moving Ron Liepert out of Health and Wellness was a politically sound decision, and will likely buy some time for the Alberta government to do some work to fix up this portfolio, damaged by the administration of the H1N1 vaccine last fall. Liepert’s charm will lend itself better to the Energy portfolio, where his efforts to schmooze will go over better with multi national oil executives than it did with out of work nurses and senior care officials.

The somewhat new faces in cabinet are also Calgary and rural centric, likely in response to the threat the Wildrose Alliance poses to taking Calgary and rural seats from the PCs. This shuffle is more in response to an upstart party with one legitimately elected member in the legislature, two floor crossers, and a newly elected leader who has yet to win a seat.

The opposition has yet to take advantage of the shift to the right in Stelmach’s cabinet, nor have they capitalized on the PCs’ rewarding of party loyalists. Instead, they have shifted their attention to criticizing the Wildrose Alliance, and speculating on the threat that they pose to the PCs. It is disappointing to see Alberta’s Official Opposition bow to a party that has yet to even achieve official party status.

This shuffle does little to spell change for Alberta’s legislature and until the next provincial election, I highly doubt too much will change in the way of Alberta’s political workings. The shift to the right is not favourable in light of tight fiscal choices and a seeming de-prioritization of public services but in reality the change is little and party loyalists are party loyalists, regardless of the seats they occupy.

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Bills, bills, bills

Inspired by a CBC journalist who wrote about the many bills that were killed as Harper prorogued parliament for the second time in as many years, I couldn’t help but go to the LEGISinfo website and look for myself.

Parliament convened on the 18th of November in 2008, and was quickly prorogued on December fourth, leaving an extra long Christmas break for all members of Parliament. As it was such a short little session for our elected members, only four government bills and 52 private member bills were tabled. The four government bills passed through a first reading, but were killed, only to come back during the second session in January. The 52 private member bills were kept as they were, frozen in time until parliament could reconvene.

This is due to nifty (and somewhat convenient) law that was passed over a decade ago that allowed private member bills to carry forward from one session to the next within the same parliament – even despite proroguing. If – and now I think it is safe to say – when a parliament is prorogued due to the wisdom of the Governor General, all government bills that are killed on the spot rise again, reborn. Private member bills, however, stay kicking around in the state they were left in, to be reintroduced to the House or Senate for eventual defeat or royal assent. After the 2009 prorogation, all 52 private member bills came back, all having undergone first reading in the first session.

On to session number two. It was a busy year for the Senators and MP’s, beginning on that shiny morning of January 26th, 2009. 354 private member bills were tabled, all made it through the first reading and many were ready to come back after they were scoured by committees and layered with amendments. Only 64 government bills were tabled, though. Out of those 64, 30 received royal assent, which means more than half died on the table.

Truly, though, what does this matter to Canadians? It is not the number of bills passed or defeated; it is their content that matters. Many of them were procedural, but a few notable ones include Bill C-6: The Consumer Safety Bill, Bill C-15: The Drug Sentencing Bill; and Bill C-26: The Auto Theft Bill. All three made it to Senate and will now have to be brought back into the House then to the Senate, which will likely look remarkably different after Harper’s expected appointments.

Parliament amended the Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention Act that extended the geographic definition of Canadian arctic waters to 200 nautical miles offshore (from 100), a response to the perceived threat on Canada’s arctic sovereignty.

An “act respecting not-for-profit corporations and certain other corporations,” as stated on the LEGISinfo site, was introduced and received royal assent. This act combined three previous bills that died during the 2008 prorogation. This act was introduced to give non-profit organization greater flexibility and recognizes them separately outside the Canada Corporations Act.

There is also Bill C-8, Family Homes in Reserves and Matrimonial Interests or Rights Act. Reserve land is governed under federal law, and all acquisition or transfer of property is as well. However, the provincial government decides when a married couple divorces what the division of property will be, both real and personal. See the catch? The province cannot make decisions about reserve land, but there is no federal legislation or provisions in the Indian Act that governs the division of martial property. Essentially, those who obtain a divorce who also reside on reserves in Canada, are stuck in limbo as to the ownership of their home, their land, and any other property attained in their marriage. Even the United Nations has told Canada to get their act together. However, since this bill died on the order paper it looks like, once again, Ottawa will have to re-examine its treatment of FNMI persons in Canada.

These are only three examples of government bills that came through during the second session of parliament. It may have been short, but it sure was not sweet. Despite the potential to achieve quite a bit, many bills will have to come forward again, going through parliamentary procedure. Hopefully we will see more decisions made before the next election, or dare I say, prorogation.

Before it all went Prorogue in the House of Commons

First Session: November 18th 2008 – December 4th 2008,

Second Session: January 26th 2009 – December 30th, 2009

(Information from LEGISinfo, updated January 4th, 2010)

Private member bills:

354 tabled

354 went through first reading

23 were voted through to second reading

83 members who tabled private members bills

21 bills relating to Employment Insurance

25 bills relating to the Criminal Code

Government bills:

64 tabled

30 received royal assent

34 dead on the table, waiting to be revived

3 tabled by The Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway

3 tabled by The Minister of State

5 tabled by The Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians

3 tabled by The Minister of Health

4 tabled by The Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities

3 tabled by The Minister of Finance

6 tabled by The President of the Treasury Board

2 tabled by The Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

12 tabled by The Minister of Justice

3 tabled by The Minister of Environment

7 tabled by The Minister of Public Safety

1 tabled by The Minister of Natural Resources

2 tabled by The Minister of Industry

1 tabled by The Minister of Veterans Affairs

1 tabled by The Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism

2 tabled by The Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development

1 tabled by The Minster of Labour

1 tabled by The Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

The MP who wins for most bills tabled is MP Peter Stoffer with a grand total of 22 bills tabled.

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Our Truth and Effort

My first stab at The Meliorist’s opinion piece:

Political change in Alberta tends to reflect the open expanse of land and the spread too thin homesteads that dominate our prairie province. Pockets of individuals alienated and disaffected by the central government, afraid the brave the harsh climate they perceive. Coupled with groups of elites, people in small and shaky compartments, lifted away from the groundswell, and isolated from each other.

These past six months have seen the political landscape in Alberta shift. It may be small and it may be that only the most hard core of political pundits have followed the minutia of our political landscape, but this shift is cataclysmic in terms of Alberta politics.

With another provincial election still three years away, voters are already questioning what their elected officials are doing to reflect their voice, in the legislature and in policy decisions. Albertan’s expressing dissidence have evolved past letter writing and direct engagement with MLA’s through town halls and the like. The calls for change are progressively more vocal and more public.

Pieces of legislation, such as Bill 44, are debated in the streets, in cafés, on Twitter, blogs, and through mainstream media. Daily newspapers now have blogging added to their web content to allow their journalists to be ever more present in Alberta and ever more relevant, and these journalists are using that to express and reflect Albertan’s dissatisfaction with their governments.

The Wildrose Alliance Party, a party that few Albertans took note of a mere 4 months ago, now has over 11 000 members, a seat in the Legislature, and more media coverage for their leadership convention than the opposition parties could muster for town hall on health care.

The visible advantage the WAP has gained is in large part due to their vocal criticisms of the Stelmach-led government. While the current opposition seems content to rest on their laurels and travel the province speaking to small groups of disenchanted Albertan’s, the WAP was aggregating legions of Albertan’s frustrated with the lack of responsiveness by their MLA’s and channeling that desire to “send Ed a message.” The Glenmore by-election win was the first public clue that we are indeed in the midst of a fundamental shift in the way Albertan’s are participating in their provincial democracy.

Progressives are seeing this, and noting the advantage it presents. Split the right to strengthen the left is a historically oft-used tactic, though in Alberta, changes in government rarely go left but they do always go big.

Events like ChangeCamp, and other grassroots movements do what the WAP has done already. They bring people together and work to unite them around a common cause. For the WAP it was to “send Ed a message”, which its new leader, Danielle Smith, seems to have taken up as her personal war cry. For the progressives, the rallying cry seems still unclear.

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A Rose, Is A Rose, Is A Rose. Or Is It?

My Summer Vacation, An Essay.

By Jennifer Prosser, Features Editor, The Meliorist

Thursday September 10th, 2009. Volume 43, Issue 1

A burning and reoccurring memory plagues those of us subjected to the curriculum shortcut known as the “what I did on my summer vacation” essay. The road to hell is paved with best intentions, and this particular exercise of creative writing is the mortar.  Children glorify summer vacation the same way comic book fans glorify Joe Shuster, (unintentionally the crossover there may be greater than anyone can correlate). For two months, a ‘good childhood’ becomes a mere afterthought to actual living. Endless days stretched out with sunsets and sunrises being the only controls. Unprovoked and unrequested, creativity is valued and rewarded by both peers and adults. Intrinsically, an overwhelming sense of pride is felt after a particularly good fort is built, or a hard novel is finished or a rousing game of Red Rover ends in a hospital trip, as these things often do. It is the rush of freedom that is remembered fondly in our later years, as we wistfully and longingly look at swing sets and hula-hoops. Regardless of one’s summer responsibility level, nothing holds a candle to the never-ending freedom that is summer vacation.

As we as individuals grow and as our community grows with us, freedom begins to take on new meanings. Freedom becomes an entrenched right for many of us. It also becomes something bigger, much bigger than we often realize. So big, sometimes we cannot see it from end to end. My summer vacation was dominated by encroaching threats to this freedom. Threats to the very thing held so dearly by so many of us. Threats to an ideal many live by and die for.

This summer instead of a celebration of freedom, the chance to realize long lost days of youth, I watched as our freedoms became slowly but surely constricted within our province and our country. Ideals of universal freedom become muddied with the lines of right and wrong, and beliefs in universal truths became shaken with exposure to radically different perspectives. Everyone lives in a construction of his or her own ideals and experiences. We all draw different lines in the sand, all believing them to be in the right place and in the right sand.

The 27th sitting of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta saw major change and a forced compromise of previously made choices. Constricted by the market, Alberta could no longer carry out the multi billion dollar spending plans and instead had to content itself with a new $25 Million logo and a $2 Billion commitment to green washing, known in Alberta as Carbon Capture and Storage. It also was expecting to satisfy itself with a quiet summer and the recognition of a fundamental human right, enjoyed by every Canadian citizen. The right to have your sexual freedom both protected and recognized.

Introduced into the Legislature as Bill 44 in April of 2009 and passing third reading at approximately three am on June 2nd, 2009, this Bill included sexual orientation as a human right under the Human Rights Commission of Alberta as per the Supreme Court decision made eleven years ago, which currently overrules provincial judicial decisions in this matter. The specific amendment reads  “striking out “or family status” and substituting “, family status or sexual orientation”.

However, this inclusion came with a caveat, the enshrined right for parents to pick and chose the education their child receives through Alberta schools. Section 11 of the Humans Rights, Citizenship, and Multiculturalism Act has been amended to read: A board as defined in the School Act shall provide notice to a parent or guardian of a student where courses of study, educational programs or instructional materials, or instruction or exercises, prescribed under that Act include subject-matter that deals explicitly with religion, sexuality or sexual orientation.” This notable phrasing allows parents to pull their children out of any education program which threatens/contradicts their religious beliefs, including discussion on sexual orientation and/or sexual education. In this writers opinion, it is a clear statement of the lack of belief that Alberta Government has in protecting and accepting the right of Albertan’s to exercise the sexual orientation of their choice.

The issue many Albertans have taken with section 11 of Bill 44 is not that it enshrines the right of parents to limit and control their children education, it is that by including this section within the Human Rights Commission we are subjecting our educators to the potential of lawsuits and charges under the Human Rights Act and not under the School Board Act where they can be dealt with internally, within the K – 12 sector. While this bill only reflects the current rights of parents as enshrined within the School Act, it does perpetuate the negative stereotype of Albertan narrow-minded culture. Section Three of the Alberta School Act reads:  “All education programs offered and instructional materials used in schools must reflect the diverse nature and heritage of society in Alberta, promote understanding and respect for others and honour and respect the common values and beliefs of Albertans. For greater certainty, education programs and instructional materials referred to in subsection (1) must not promote or foster doctrines of racial or ethnic superiority or persecution, religious intolerance or persecution, social change through violent action or disobedience of laws.”

Understanding that in Alberta, many of our members of the Legislative Assembly have “family values” high on their endangered species list, section 11 shifts freedom both away from the educator, but also from the parent. Parents, while they may have more legitimacy to limit their child’s education, they also have less control in ensuring their children are being given a worldly education, one that includes discussion and education on sexual health, sexual orientation and religious content.

Freedom is to be extended to all equally; this includes the freedom of speech. The freedom to express your opinions and the freedom to use mediums such as editorials, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and a soapbox if you have one to expound on your own personal thoughts and concepts. However, the interpretation of this freedom is as controversial as you can make it and in the case of an elected official member this summer, this freedom was called into question with his misogynistic comments as published in his blog.

Voltaire infamously wrote, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”. With public officials saying nothing less in public than they would in their homes, they are doing nothing less than exercising their right to speak in public. The same right this paper presently employs; the same right many enjoy through Twitter and Facebook accounts, and the same right we are enjoy by conversing with others in public spaces. The elected Member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta in question here had previously been an active individual using social media tools to engage people far and wide. While he may tweet comments I personally find offensive, he is thinking them regardless and he was elected; mind, body and soul, to represent the people of Calder and Alberta.

The greater issue at hand is that his comments speak to a culture of narrow mindedness and ignorance. The same culture that is perpetuated within Alberta with such pieces of legislation as Bill 44. Accommodation is not equality and believing that to be true is simply laziness and unwillingness to create positive change around you. While I find this members comments offensive and sadly all too representative of the lax mindset many people have to what the true meaning of equality is, I also firmly believe he was well within his right to say it and well within his freedom to continue to blog, tweet and speak without the supervision and control of the Progressive Conservative party. A few days after this particular story leaked, a CTV poll had asked if readers/viewers believe that this member should resign. Where Alberta once had a Premier, with a rather high approval rating, who drunkenly threw loose change at residents of the Calgary Drop-In Center and now we are calling for resignation of an MLA who exercised his right in this country to voice his opinions? How fickle we have become.

Freedom is a contestable word. When does one persons freedom impact another negatively, and if so, who is in the right? These lines in the sand all nothing more than that and even as children we understood that while we may have the freedom to run amok for twelve glorious hours every day, that did not give us the freedom to destroy the community we called home.

[The full text of Bill 44 can be found on http://www.assembly.ab.ca/. Currently, this bill is slated to be given royal assent once the house rejoins session on October 24th, 2009 however many Progressive Conservative Associations have raised vocal opposition and on Edmonton, one association has been successful thus far in bringing MLA’s onside to opposing the amendments as they are currently written. ]

[Doug Elniski, the MLA in question who made the above comments on his blog post is a mere backbencher and despite the “McCain/Palin poster in his office and his Smart car, he will likely remain as such for a majority of his hopefully short political career.]

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Spit, Swallow or put it in your pocket?

Quite the week for Canadian politics….and the house is not even sitting. Impressive Harper, impressive.

Lets start at the top shall we?

“Wafergate” – Q: Who do we get to coin as “Deep Throat” in this affair? Better yet, as @kady exclaimed, what a great collision with the present CRTC/copyright discussion.

Harper makes another apology – Now, I understand using any opportunity at a podium to campaign, especially when one is in a foreign country at an international conference of world leaders…. oh wait. No, I do not understand at all. What exactly did Harper have to gain while blasting his opponent at an international conference he attended as Canada’s nation leader. Telling everyone that Igantieff doesn’t represent Canada, you do, is a little bit overkill when you are in fact, representing Canada at that very moment. Play to the strength of being Prime Minister sir, because as rumor has it, you are.

I can see that you are trying to improve the Conservatives and your own international prestige, as you seem to appreciate foreign media much more than your own press corps, but keep whining to a minimum. We don’t hear Obama reminding everyone how great he is compared to McCain, now do we?

My most favorite outcome of this little debacle is that the Liberal party did not even lift a finger and worldwide attention was on them. Using an old theater trick very well they are, the more spotlights trained on them, the better the make-up job.

Republicans for Ignatieff – Who is behind this obscure and out of the blue group? Conservative scare tactics? Maybe an aid read another e-mail wrong and thought Flanagan referenced a republican when we actually referenced, well, it was likely a republican.

Tom Flanagan casts an opinion, cites Cicero – Why not?

I think that may indeed be it, for a few hours at least.

Canada’s participation in the G8 made few headlines outside the little speech Harper so foolishly decided to make. A speech which stole any and all attention to the impact made in those meetings away from the audience. Which is too bad, given that a meeting of the top eight economic powerhouses of the whole wide world is a pretty big deal.

To hear more on the G8 meetings, CBC does a relatively decent job of covering it.

* The title for this blog was given to me by an individual wishing to remain anonymous. However, as they will read this, credit is due.

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The needle and the damage done…

Last night, the third reading of Bill 44, proposed amendments to the Human Rights Act in Alberta, passed 35 votes to 7 against in a “free vote”.

The conversation last night over Twitter and Facebook was lively and engaging, with private citizens, on both sides of the spectrum and the issue, discussing the implications this has on our province and verbally expressing their political wishes to their elected representatives. Many excellent points were raised, both for and against but with a clear majority of people, highly educated people (despite Min. Blackett’s perceptions) rallying against this Bill and against the principle of school room censure. Besides just the fast paced world of electronic discussion, letters and petitions were tabled in the house yesterday before the vote got underway, all from clearly concerned citizens (myself and @davecournoyer included) by various members of the legislature, notably Laurie Blakeman who tabled 84 separate letters against Bill 44.

Alas, it seems that it was not enough to sway those 35 members of the legislative assembly who blindly toed the party line and voted in favor of this highly unpopular bill.

Although I am clearly against the principle of Bill 44 and believe it to be bad legislation, I am more appalled at the lack of consideration members took to their electorates thoughts and desires.

To the members of the legislative assembly, please take heed. “There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than you have dreamt of in your philosophy”.

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My letter to my MLA re: Bill 44

Below is my letter recently sent to my MLA for Lethbridge West, Minister Greg Weadick and Minister Lindsay Blackett and Hon. Premier Ed Stelmach.

Minister G. Weadick,

I am writing this letter to express my concern over Bill 44, the proposed amendments to the Human Rights Act of Alberta. My concern lies with a specific section of Bill 44 as well as the overall intent and message of this Bill.

I would like to start by commending the Alberta Government for legislating sexual orientation rights within our Human Rights Act and I do see it as a substantial step forward in the right direction. This is an overdue response to the Supreme Court decision and reflects the values within Alberta’s diverse and inclusive culture.

There are several key reasons why, as a citizen of Alberta, I do not support this bill in its current format and urge you to exercise your free vote in this matter to vote against Bill 44 in its current state and work towards amending it to reflect the original intent of the change.

As a citizen of Alberta and a rather recent graduate of the Alberta Catholic School system, I see this as weak and redundant legislation, included to serve as a political statement regarding Alberta’s attitude towards ‘progressive cultural change’ but not a change in the way the Alberta School System operates.

Firstly, the inclusion of sexual orientation protection explicitly in the Alberta Human Rights Act is a reflection of a Supreme Court of Canada decision made eleven years ago. This inclusion, while in name is fundamental to reflecting the diverse and progressive culture within Alberta, does not significantly change the legal rights of same sex couples in Alberta. However, piggy backed on this inclusion is the enshrined right for parents to pick and chose the education their child receives through Alberta schools. The notable phrasing that allows parents to pull their children out of any education program, which threatens their religious beliefs, including mentions of sexual orientation in sexual education is a clear statement of the lack of belief that Alberta Government has in protecting and accepting the right of Albertan’s to exercise the sexual orientation of their choice. This is a significant cultural statement, one that has been picked up on by international and national media and quickly becoming an embarrassment and poor reflection of Alberta and people within.

Secondly, this legislation is entirely redundant, which has me wondering why the elected Government of Alberta is so interested in pursuing this bill, despite the vocal and populist opposition to it. As the people of Alberta, outside the Progressive Conservative caucus, do not look to be actively supporting this bill, it seems antithetical for the Alberta Government to insist on passing a bill with the purpose to “protect rights” already protected, and in a section of legislation which does very little in terms of change and progression.

While this bill only reflects the current rights of parents as enshrined within the School Act, it does perpetuate the negative stereotype of Alberta housing narrow-minded culture. Section Three of the Alberta School Act reads:  “All education programs offered and instructional materials used in schools must reflect the diverse nature and heritage of society in Alberta, promote understanding and respect for others and honour and respect the common values and beliefs of Albertans. For greater certainty, education programs and instructional materials referred to in subsection (1) must not promote or foster doctrines of racial or ethnic superiority or persecution, religious intolerance or persecution, social change through violent action or disobedience of laws.”

Notably, the principle of the statement is that the curriculum is to reflect the “diverse nature and heritage of society in Alberta, promote understanding and respect for others….” Parent’s already have the right to take their children from classes that they feel are inappropriate or explicitly go against their religious beliefs, and as you represent Lethbridge, a city which has a significant religious class, one that is diverse in its beliefs but similar in its faithful nature, this is a right exercised often. It is clear that parents are well aware of ability and their right to direct the nature of education their child receives. The inclusion of this right within the Human Rights Act only serves to reflect a negative and perpetuated culture of ignorance and exclusion, but gives nothing to parents that they do not already have. Indeed, it seems this Bill serves to regulate teachers and the school system further and allow less freedom of education, here in a province whose slogan is “Freedom to create, Spirit to achieve”.

Lastly, I am taken aback by the lack of consultation about this amendment, especially as many groups have come forward with strong opinions and those opinions do not seem to be taken into account. There has been a great deal of public discussion on this topic, free forums such as public media (newspapers, notably The Edmonton Journal) and web media such as blogs, twitter and Facebook have all hosted discussions on Bill 44 open to any and all. I personally have participated in several of these discussions and have been vocal about my personal opposition to Bill 44 and appreciate the level of engagement several of your caucus members have participated in.

I understand the third reading of Bill 44 will be happening this evening and I sincerely hope you take this letter into consideration when choosing your vote in this matter. I would be happy to engage you and any other elected member of the Legislature in this matter further and can be reached via e-mail at jenn.prosser@gmail.com. I have cc’ed both Min. L. Blackett and Hon. Premier E. Stelmach on this letter to express my concerns to a broad membership of the Progressive Conservative caucus. Thank you for your time and I look forward to a response.


Jennifer Prosser

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Call for Albertan’s to create and achieve (a new slogan…)

Word on the street (re: Twitter and CTV) is that Alberta’s new slogan will be “Freedom to Create. Spirit to Achieve”. This new string of words will cost taxpayers $25 million over three years to “re-brand Alberta”.

I heard this tasty tidbit a few hours ago and have been pondering since, is this truly fitting for the new Alberta? A vague and much less direct approach in comparison to the previous slogan “Alberta Advantage” which was ditched sometime after the price of oil dropped faster then Diplo’s beats, this new slogan was supposed to be more fitting to the current Alberta and the culture within. “Freedom to Create” begs some interesting interpretations. Is the AB government interested in calling attention to our incredible, although underfunded artist groups? Is Alberta looking to increase our cultural capitol instead of our resource capitol? “Spirit to Achieve” I feel much better about. Albertan’s do indeed have spirit, one watch of Question Period proves that. We are a feisty bunch and even if it takes a bit to rile us up, once were there, it sticks around (re: NEP hate, still going strong).

All in all, the new slogan means nothing to me. Which is a very bad thing. I am not inspired, I am not proud and I am not really sure what it means. I do not disagree that “Alberta Advantage” no longer suits, but if we are going to make a change, lets do it right.

“Freedom to Create. Spirit to Achieve.”

Maybe this is a joke and the slogan is actually just a advertising ploy to “create and achieve” a real slogan. Fingers crossed.

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