I have put off writing for a week while my brain adjusted to the realities of the latest provincial election. In between writing this and the outcome of a very disruptive election period in Alberta was Easter. I am not a “religious” person but I am a person of faith. With that in mind I equate the vitriol and hate spewed during the election period as the same type of misinformation that the the Pharisees expressed to Pontius Pilate simply to protect their power. Religion aside, the politics of hate continue 2000 years later. April 30 is Kenney’s day of “ascension” and he will assume power over the people. That is where my concern is, he will have power “over” the people which is quite different from what politics should be about, power “for” the people.
I listened carefully to Kenney’s election promises throughout the campaign and began to realize how little the average voter understands basic civic’s. Of course a provincial government has the right to make some judgements on things like the carbon tax. I have no doubt it will go quickly but I firmly believe it will be done based on ideology rather than science. For that not to happen Kenney would have to acknowledge climate change and facing 21st century reality is not one of Kenney’s strengths. However Albertans will then get saddled with the federal formula minus the rebate four other provinces will be receiving. The UCP has come into this issue late so Albertans won’t receive the 90% rebates those provinces using the federal program. However that won’t stop Kenney by using Alberta tax dollars to lodge another legal challenge based on ideology rather than facts..
Too many Albertans who grew up when energy and oil was king chose to elect a government who believes moving us back to the 80’s will solve all of our problems. I can’t fault the electorate for that, many of those voters built this province and now want to enjoy the fruits of their labour by enjoying the planned retirement years. The idea of change is frightening. However growing up with a disability “change” is about the only constant in my life. Now I am focusing more on bridging that gap between my generation (baby-boomers) and the influencers of today (Millenials).
We see this fear of change in business. That same fear of change is embedded in the mentality of many in the upper management positions. They don’t relate the same way to the technology associated with change which makes “Shifting Gears in the New Economy” almost impossible. How do you move the economy forward while denying or avoiding the new world of a global economy. Technology represents change and too many upper management types just want to get to that retirement while avoiding as much change as possible. They did their part for change 30 years ago so now they want to just get to the retirement garden they had worked so hard preparing for.
The UCP leader, Jason Kenney, tapped into that generation and counted on their fear of change. He was able to wave the boogeyman of fear, hate and bigotry at every opportunity and tap into that by using his contempt for the truth by flaming the growing fears of Albertans. He disguise his commitment to the safety of our kids by attacking the protection that had been offered by the previous government but his commitment to his ideology speaks differently. He used the safety of the school supervised safe zones for Gay Straight Alliances (GSA’s) as bait for votes. His commitment to reverse the current piece of legislation that provides that safe zone by insisting teachers will now have to inform parents of their child’s involvement with the school GSA is the action of a man who is disconnected from the real world.
He lacks the compassion, discipline or understanding to truly appreciate what many of these kids have to deal with outside of the safety of a classroom. This safe zone that Kenney ignorantly denies while fanning the flames of hatred and bigotry just cost a Syrian immigrant family their 9 year old daughter, Amel Alshteiwi. Despite the reported support from the school and the awareness of what this wonderful young girl was enduring she still took her own life rather than face more hatred, racism and bullying she was being tormented with every day at school. Kenney’s commitment to “protecting” our children was a fishing hook aimed directly at his base.
One of his big commitments took us straight back to 2012. Kenney has vowed to counter any environmental or other groups who insist on “demonizing” the oil and energy sector. He send clear messages that he would do or spend whatever it costs by establishing a $30 million war room to counter groups like the Suzuki Foundation. Flash back to the “charity chill” he helped create when a Cabinet Minister with the federal Harper government. What the electorate fail to realize is the difference between a “non-profit” and “charitable status”. There are many small local non-profits who confront local issues but the issuance of “charitable status” is federal jurisdiction requiring a Revenue Canada charitable status number. Again vote bait for the base who don’t know the difference.
But the biggest and most threatening issue to me was how he jumped all over the federal transfer program. His repeated mantra about how unfair it is to Alberta. What Kenney never mentioned, and nobody seemed to question, was that he was part of the federal government that basically told provinces in 2009 “this is the deal, take it or leave it”. From conversations I’ve had most Albertans don’t even know, let alone understand, the transfer process. For the fiscal year 2018-2019 Alberta received $6.2 BILLION in two major categories and I’m not even going to touch the labour market transfer payments.
There are conditions and processes on how this money can be used while each provinces defines how they can use it themselves. For example, in Alberta, anything “medically” related comes out of the Federal Health Transfer fund ($4.6 billion) but anything that is considered a social program, like welfare, comes out of the Federal Social Transfer ($1.6 billion). Why is this important? In the world of disability it can make the difference of living on the street or living in a facility. Programs like the Alberta Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH) is a social program, it comes out of the social transfer and a small “pension” (about $1400 per month) goes to the individual. It is not a health program.
The funds for Persons with Developmental Disabilities (PDD) is considered a “health” program. On PDD the individual is receiving a “service”, the payment doesn’t go to the individual, it goes to the service provider. That could be a facility, a group home or a private individual that is providing a room and board situation for someone who may not be able to live independently. One of the criteria for PDD (one I don’t necessarily support) is to have the label IQ 70. I don’t put a lot of faith in IQ measurements but Kenney has committed to review that criteria and possibly remove it.
On this one I am jaded. You take that piece of criteria out of their and you open the door to move many people from PDD to AISH. It is a worthless criteria but it does guarantee you a certain level of dignified living. On AISH you are on the street with little support but on PDD you have a safe (usually) place to live with some medical support. To me that is Kenney’s most threatening commitment. It might have sounded like compassion to his base and to those retired baby-boomers who want protection for the grandkids. I’ve dealt with enough disability reality in my life time to be pessimistic enough to see this as a ploy to cut the marginalized out of service.
The short version is his fishing trip worked. He laid out enough bait to hook the vote and I am left with this feeling of “back to the future”. And now for a PAID political announcement, if you like what you are reading hit the donate button above. Life in a wheelchair is expensive and I don’t qualify for any programs, therefore donations are my life. Have a good day and, if nothing else, at least take a minute on Wikipedia and learn a little “civics”.