When the Wildrose agrees with the NDP and the Alberta Liberals are onside with the Alberta Party, something must be up.
Last week the PC government introduced two bills. Bill 45 imposes huge fines not just for staging an illegal strike but for talking about staging an illegal strike. Bill 46 effectively eliminates the right for public sector employees to take their contract grievances to arbitration.
What sort of province do we want Alberta to be? Are we a compassionate, caring people or do we try to keep problems hidden and let our most vulnerable citizens suffer in silence?
Reading about the deaths of so many children in our foster care system, and the associated cover up, makes me sad and angry. The story, which only came to light as a result of tireless work --and a four year legal battle-- by Edmonton Journal and Calgary Herald reporters Karen Kleiss and Darcy Henton, tells of the tragic deaths of 145 children in Alberta's foster care system from 1999 to 2009.
This is nearly triple the number reported by our provincial government.
This hasn't exactly been the best week for politics in Canada (and if there's a bigger understatement out there please let me know). The evidence before us is pretty damning: Rob Ford. Three suspended senators. Some pretty nasty and very personal exchanges in the Alberta Legislature.
It's no wonder voter turnout is at its lowest level in history and fewer people every day seem to care about politics. The question is, why has politics come to this and what can we do about it? Who are these professional politicians who run our governments?
"Alberta finds itself at a crossroads. Our ability to continue to seize the opportunities that abound here is dependent on a population that can participate fully in the economy. So is our ability to continue building a strong supportive society that’s attractive to those who are already here and that can attract those who will help build Alberta’s future. We have the resources. We have a motivated workforce. What we need is an enhanced learning system that supports all of our aspirations."
These words were written in 2006 in the Learning Alberta report, which is the last time our province had a formal strategy for post-secondary education. They're powerful words. They're accurate words. They're words I wish I had written myself.
Re: Edmonton Journal, GrahamThomson: Redford government ducking a legal broadside, October 8
“A direct apprehension of bias.”
For the non-lawyers among us that's legalese for "you can't pick and choose who you want to listen to based on what they might say." Sadly the Redford government has been caught red-handed doing just that when Court of Queen's Bench Justice Marceau ruled they broke their own rules by not allowing environmental groups to comment on oilsands projects. Regardless of your position on oilsands development, it is a fundamental principle of democracy that the people have a say.
Democracy can be a messy business, but if we don’t listen to a diverse range of viewpoints we will never improve and we will never earn the elusive 'social license' that will allow us to expand oilsands production. When Alison Redford travels the world promoting our open, transparent and strong regulations her message is undermined by her government's actions. Put another way, we can't say one thing and do another, then wonder why no one believes us.
There are two ways to fix this problem. We can listen to all perspectives on oilsands development, regardless of what people might say, or we can change the rules to limit input. Unfortunately Alison Redford has chosen the second path.
There's a funny thing about transparency; more input from more perspectives leads to better projects. If projects are worthwhile, and if they address environmental concerns, they will be approved, no matter who we allow to speak. The more input, the better the decisions.
In a democracy is that too much to ask?
It's October 2nd, 2013. Our strong energy sector has been the envy of the world ever since Greenpeace used our province as an example of responsible resource development because we've reduced our net carbon emissions every year since 2010, in spite of increased production from our oilsands. The Keystone XL pipeline is nearing completion and the Enbridge / First Nations Pipeline Corp. joint venture to build a bitumen pipeline that terminates at an upgrader on the BC coast is expected to start construction next summer.
There's a hard cap of 30 kids per class in high school, 25 in junior high and 20 in elementary school, although most schools are well under those numbers. Our healthcare system is the envy of the rest of Canada and is widely regarded as one of the best in the world. Social indicators like child poverty and suicide rates are dropping. Our universities and colleges turn out graduates ready to participate in the workforce and make a difference in a changing world.
In the wake of the new governance review study released today, we have to say that most of these conclusions have been fairly obvious for some time, but better late than never. At least the government seems to have admitted that their management has been largely ineffective, and that that huge expense of the system is not reflected in the quality of patient care and outcomes.
It’s hard to argue that the Health Care budget should be applied more directly to the front lines, since the very top heavy management that hasn’t seemed to work very well.
The party has long maintained that the governance and monitoring of health care delivery should done on a more local level and hopefully the division of the province into two regions, north and south, is a step in that direction.
Easy and seamless access to the system has also been a key part of our policy and we appreciate the acknowledgement that the current system is confusing and difficult to navigate. We liked a recent comment made by a health care official, that we have a health care system that patients have fit themselves into, rather than one that fits itself to them.
Through our Big Listens and ongoing engagement with Albertans we know that health care is at the top of their priority list. Albertans should enjoy the best quality of health care in Canada, if not the world. Our government should ensure that it is so, and do so in record time.
My mother passed away last Thursday night. I had a great deal of time to think while I watched her slip away. Mostly I thought about her, and her life. She was born during the Depression of the 30’s, lived through a world war and raised five children, three as a single parent. With just a basic education, it was tough to make ends meet, yet she looked at life and said, “I can give up or I can go on, but I have three young children that need me, so there is no choice, I have to go on.”
Right off the bat, let’s be upfront! We are thinking that if you have a chuckle you might actually read the rest of the newsletter, so here is our blatant attempt at enticing you to read further:
Justin Trudeau, Thomas Mulcair, and Stephen Harper were all on a private jet together. Stephen Harper gets an idea. He says: "I'm gonna throw this $100 bill out the window, and make one Canadian really happy."
Justin Trudeau doesn't want to be outdone, so he says: "I'll throw these two $50 bills out the window, and make two Canadians really happy."
Tom Mulcair decides to go with the flow and says: "I'll throw these 100 loonies out the window, and make 100 Canadians really happy."
At this point, the pilot comes through the door and says: "If you three don't shut up right now, I'll throw all three of you out the window, and make 32 million Canadians really, really happy."
And now, the newsletter, (for real)...
For the three months, bitumen has been leaking to the surface of pristine northern Alberta wetlands at an uncontrollable rate, and no one knows how to stop it. Alberta's Minister of the Environment, Diana McQueen, has made no public statement other than to say that our environmental regulations are tough. Our premier, who showed so much leadership during the flooding of southern Alberta is also noticeably absent. And now the leader of the official opposition is writing op. ed. pieces for the New York Times, telling Americans why Alberta's bitumen is their best option for energy.
No one in our own government, (or the official opposition), appears outraged by this massive and continuing spill. That this tragic leak has killed wildlife and polluted the traditional lands of several Metis and First Nations communities, rates no indignation.
Quite possibly, the ramifications of this spill are simply too dire for our government to consider. If it turns out that the seeping bitumen is a fundamental flaw in the injection process, rather than a one-off problem with an old well casing, it brings into question why leases were approved without the due diligence required to ensure our environment is sufficiently protected. Better, it seems, just to cross our fingers and hope the seeping stops. We've seen this lack of accountability over and over when it comes to holding industry to the standards Albertans agree are some of the best in the world.
While CNRL has apologized for what they have called "the incident," neither they nor the government has any idea when, (or how), the spill can be brought under control. In the meantime, our environment minister is nowhere to be found. Our premier continues to expound to fellow premiers and American politicians about our "world-class" regulatory process. Even our official opposition leader is spending her time writing pieces to the New York Times to convince Americans their own government is wrong about using Alberta's energy resources.
Alberta has developed many state-of-the-art energy extraction methods. However, that becomes meaningless when our political leaders ignore disasters such as the Primrose spill while preaching about standards they have no intention of enforcing.
In the marketplace, integrity means something in the long run, and Alberta's integrity is at stake. It's time to enforce the regulations based on our values to build strong communities by building a viable, responsible and sustainable economy. That cannot be done by ignoring problems.