Preparing the Garden of Privilege (edited)

“Privilege is when you think something is not a problem because it’s not a problem to you personally.”

A single jpeg with the wording "I'm only responsible for what I say and not for what you understand" surrounding a butterfly
Like election promises, we hear what’s convenient

Coming out of this (maybe) pandemic nightmare, I believe, is going to leave some unexpected “long hauler” effects on a society in general. Personally, having been through this before, albeit I was only ten years old, but with the benefit of six decades to look back on, it is easier to see patterns. 1960 was really the year when polio kids began being accepted into the community, five years after the introduction of the polio vaccine (1955). Prior to that there wasn’t much acknowledgement of disable in the community.

Prior to WW2, western Canada had primarily been an agrarian society while developing the natural resources economy. At the same time central Canada was mainly commerce and manufacturing with some natural resource in the northern parts of Ontario also extending into Quebec. Understanding the history of the wide variety of economic “restarts” Canada has experienced should provide some important lessons on “recreating” an economy when the parameters have changed so drastically in the last hundred years. The biggest difference this time around is “social media”. With five generations now eligible to vote the importance of a generational “union of thought” requires dialogue and compromise between t he numerous generations. We will just continue to slide backwards if we can’t, as a society, get past “generational shaming” to discuss “solution based” compromise.

Prior to WW2 Canada was recovering from the “Great Depression” which had created a major migration from farming towns to major urban centre. Economic changes needed to fully transition from the pre-war economy to a post-war changing labour force contributed to a growing “middle class“. The returning injured veterans were no longer content being stuck in an institute as their “reward” for their sacrifice to their country.

The services and supports needed where all in “the City” so many stayed there, in 1946 they saw no future for themselves on the farm. Returning home with war induced injuries, these same veterans were not fully prepared for the battle for independence facing the disabled of the day. They were seen as “broken”, after surviving a disabling issue (spinal cord injuries, amputees, etc), fighting for their country just to get home and find themselves being offered an upscale prison camp. It wasn’t a planned cruelty but reflected a reality of societal thought of the day, provide a nice extended care centre and house everybody there rather than restructure communities to be more inclusive.

Veterans of the day were not about to simply comply with the current conditions and accept the “warehousing” facilities disguised as “extended care” facilities of that time. What quickly became apparent was that these veterans were not going to go quietly into the night, they wanted “options” for living independently in the cities.

Veterans, and by extension, polio kids only had a 25 to 30 year life expectancy post injury. It generally wasn’t the injury that contributed to a shorter life span, it would be any infections. The advancements made in antibiotics extended the life expectancy of so many disabled while demanding communities be more inviting and thus began the development of todays. However this life expectancy was based on data from a completely era. WW1 was a very different period but this was the data the assumptions being made post WW2.

The life expectancy of WW1 injured vets was less than two year (on average) so government could, and often did on a short term basis, basically make promises knowing the clock would run out. However, with the advancements being made in healthcare (particularly with antibiotics and orthopaedics), the sheer numbers of WW2 veterans, a growing media and the emergence of peer directed care was beginning to have an affect on the politicians of the day. Antibiotics drastically changed the anticipated life span of the disabled.

The history behind “antibiotics” is young (around 1930) but the importance of antibiotics had long lasting effects. It wasn’t the trauma that shortened their life, it was infection and who were generally the first people to recognize infections in a patient, the nurse. Healthcare is a slow moving process but it is moving forward at a rapidly increasing pace. Right now, in this pandemic crisis, what we need is just some good old “common sense”. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to recognize the folly in demanding Alberta nurses take a pay cut in the midst of a health pandemic. It may sound too simple however my belief system tells me to work “collaboratively”, not dictate conditions. The last I check Alberta is still a democracy however democracy, like healthcare, requires hard work to maintain. It was this same type of political dithering that wasted the ten days with my mother trying to get me seen by the hospital. That ten days at age 3 now has me in a wheelchair at 70, thinking I’m 35 but a body telling me it’s… well considering I’ve lived almost 40 years past my “best before date” I can’t really complain.

My belief system is very important to me and should be to everyone. All of our major life decisions are based on our belief’s with many of those are more subconscious than conscience. Beliefs are your moral compass and, like any compass, true north moves so every now and then you have to adjust your beliefs to match up with current societal thinking. I do that regularly.

This sad discovery of these unfortunate unmarked graves at these residential schools really stirred up some memories while creating a huge epiphany to me. Societal compassion in the 50’s, generally, created some very fulfilling hospital environments for polio kids. Unfortunately the same couldn’t be said for residential schools. Polio kids had “privilege”, as a 5 year old what did I know about “privilege”. Nada but that was one major difference between a children’s hospital and a residential school.

I can’t just sit back, “enjoying my privilege”, while so many unmarked graves are being discovered in residential school properties. What I find even more disgusting is the feigning of surprise from so many people, in particular politicians. I grew up under the influence of the wisdom of Edgar Cayce, “The Sleeping Prophet” and the conscience of a Jiminy Cricket type character. After all his primary purpose was as a “conscience” for Pinocchio or “courage” for Dumbo. What may start off as pleasurable but end with the reality of Old Yeller. This isn’t new, Disney wasn’t wrong.

When I was first diagnosed with polio (1953, 3 years old) I spend a lot of time in Winnipeg’s King George Hospital. At that age ones mind is like a fertile field for the mulch on a garden of thought. The amount of cognitive growth in that 3 to 5 year range really lays the foundation for one’s future belief system. I don’t have a lot of clear memories from those two years but compared to the kids in the residential school system, polio kids housed in a hospital were shown something that never seemed to be mentioned with residential schools. Fifty-seven years to get an answer, yes I would be fed up as well.

We were survivors, we were shown some dignity in the hospital, a concept not even recognized in the residential school system.. Sadly, watching the Alberta UCP roll back supports for the disabled, it’s not a big jump to see Alberta sliding back to the day of institutional living, AGAIN. We are slowly sliding back to situations that created many of these issues.

AMBIVERT – a person whose personality has a balance of extrovert and introvert features

I can tell you as a survivor of polio, no vaccine is ever going to be 100% the same way a condom is never a 100% certainty that you won’t get pregnant. It was this same type of dalliance that delayed (ten days) my childhood opportunity for an earlier diagnosis but why worry others during a pandemic.

Well the tech just called to say he would be here in about ten minutes and I want to finish this. It may look like a simple thing but one can’t really He’s going to reach the cords I can’t (I know “connecting” electronics looks straight forward, and is, until you are looking at those cords from a wheelchair. So my next article, and there will be more, will be done on my new laptop. I think I’ve mentioned this but seeing this old desktop (served me well for over ten years) is like watching your first born move out. Later and stay healthy plus everybody, understand your common sense and reestablish your relationship with “critical thinking“…

I’ll be back, meanwhile I can tell you personally, as well as professionally but I read more than Kafka novels (I enjoy Kafka but his is not the only world, try some Jules Verne). Different perspectives can be good for your health and I never, nor should you, create a belief system that is so rigid it moves more into the area of propaganda. Later

Busy With Purpose

“There’s a moment where you have to choose whether to be silent or stand up” – Malala Yousafzai

I have spent the last 4 months running from pillar to post with little direction, teetering on the edge of frustration continually, constantly researching the continual flow of misinformation (in so many areas) while, in reality, accomplishing absolutely nothing. That probably qualifies me for a communication specialists job with Kenney’s Communication office. Regardless lack of purpose is not a good thing for me and after 4 months of an increased blood pressure meds (rhetorically speaking) it finally hit me, get back to doing what I’m best at, pissing people off exercising my persistence to “speak out”.

Words and history matter but both have to come with context of the experience, not by eliminating it in school curriculums. Unfortunately it is the “elders” that hold that history and the least likely to adapt to the new world of social media. Again most of my peers have email, can book a vacation, do the occasional Skype/FaceTime call, maybe check some news but that is where their interest ends. There is also a component of that generation who were half way through their career before being introduced to this technology. Jokingly referred to as the VHS generation. That is what the 80’s were about, legislate, regulate and a heavy move towards credentialism.

Like it or not we are now a technological society. One of the silver-linings growing up in a hospital before social media and limited TV (I believe Calgary had 3 stations) you have the opportunity to broaden your horizon using literature. I was 14 year old confined to a hospital bed for six month the first time I read Jacques Ellul, the concept of a technological society is not new, it was just easier to suppress prior to social media. Now is not the time to fall back on the “generation shaming” game. That’s been going on for forty years and has moved us nowhere EXCEPT creating bigger ideologic chasms and a shrinking ability to compromise.

So rather than just brood I did a “belief system” shake up and readjusted (called adaptive) my believes to make sense out of todays world. Let me be clear here, I adjusted my beliefs I didn’t go COVID crazy. However, armed with that recognition I am now (fingers crossed) better prepared to build a new sense of purpose (without purpose you die) to prepare for the nest chapter of my life. It was during this re-evaluation that an epiphany hit me. So many of my peers are starting to acknowledge the reality of aging, the COVID crisis has forced a whole generation of Canadians to reassess their own sense of mortality. Stay in place, social distancing, cohorts groups, etc are all relativity new terms in these changing times but they are not really new “concepts”. But we’ll deal with that along the way, for now…

Lost in thought and the forest

The last time I sat at this keyboard (seriously sat, not just checking cute kitty videos) I was vibrating with that adrenaline induced need for 2020 to end. Who didn’t want 2020 to end? I mean, “could it get any worse”? Apparently it could, as I found out in the back of an ambulance (nothing serious) Jan 2 and a weeks hospitalization to start 2021. That kind of planted some seeds of hopelessness unnoticed in the recesses of my mind during a pretty bleak period. Then, within a week of discharge, Calgary got hit with almost a month of -30 temperatures which just further isolation so I definitely started 2021 with a bang.

It’s taken 4 month (almost) for my pandemic fever to break and I feel like I need to get back to my “cohort” circle. I woke up this morning, had my coffee, flipped on my electronic world, saw the COVID stats, checked the weather forecast and a few newsletters I’m involved with. The same newsletters and some social media contacts that has formed part of my “stay in place” practice. The timing is perfect, so many little things coming together and I’m left feeling the way one does when finding a favourite old housecoat tucked away in the back of the closet. You can still smell the memories on it but you also realize it should go to the thrift shop.

I made a commitment in my last post about change, new look and direction. I think it is time to fulfil that commitment. As I launch myself back into the world of bloggers it is fitting that this is the last time I will be writing on this computer. It is time to say goodbye to my little iMac for years of faithful work. After ten years of many late nights (or early mornings) of caressing the keyboard of this baby, filing, building information libraries, half my life is on this computer, so many little macros I’ve created over the years. Following an increase of “Legacy System” alerts, I had to face the reality that this ten year old baby couldn’t handle the pressures of the rapidly increasing speed of social media. Everything has its limits but part of this is my own fear of letting go. If it was a fifteen year old resource, do I really need it? Time to really declutter.

So in my own little contribution back to the community I will completely clean this one off and donate it. Given the current COVID restriction here in Calgary for online learning I found an organization that is refurbishing tablets and computers for those families faced with the cost implications of devices required in a family of, say, four kids.

There’s an organization here in Calgary, Yescentres.com, that works with kids. The current pandemic has kept them very busy and one of their programs is to collect tablets, desktops etc provide is the distribution of new or used tablets/computer for families with kids having to learn from home. Again pandemic but financial hardship for many families. So this has encouraged me to get the things I really need moved from one desktop to a new laptop. My desktop, ten years of history in there, over 3500 songs in my music in there, this is almost like watching your oldest child head out for university or some form of advanced learning. It’s a little nostalgic but also cathartic. Once it’s done hopefully some young inquiring young mind can have a tool that is being deprived of so many families in this new world of online learning. And personally I think we are far from the end.

I have found my “purpose” again and that is to be continually looking at societal issues through a historical lens based on my own experiences. So the next time you hear from me, either hit delete or jump into the conversation. My next big challenge is to see how well I can get using my Jimmie Dean sausage fingers for the laptop keyboard. So, for now, this is me signing off from, what feels like, the latest of a long list of friends that left before their time, an old close favoured friend.

Later all, have a good weekend and stay healthy

Quiet For Too Long

I have been gone and thought my days of posting my thoughts were behind me. It has taken a pandemic to come to the realization that I am not ready to stop posting the garbled garbage of my thoughts yet. I thought I was ready to stop posting but didn’t want to stop writing. Now, with the newest version of the COVID19 restrictions, I continue to write daily. Winter weather isn’t conducive to wheelchair life anyway, going for a wheel in snow and -15 is not a relaxing situation, so I write. Usually I just hibernate but this year social isolation has taken on a whole new meaning. Over the years I have become use to hibernating but this year it is a way of life for a lot more people.

This year I can hibernate while using the tools available to me “social media” to maintain and encourage interactions. This is finally a situation where relationships can continue to be enjoyed without being face to face. These days I’m usually at home anyway writing or researching. And it would appear nothing brings out more fools and bizarre conspiracy theories than a good worldwide health crisis. Since I’m home most of the time writing or researching most of this crazy shit why not share some of the insights I see. So I am going to post this one as a Happy New Year post and take the steps needed for the next chapter.

For the first time and we need it

Writing and expression is kind of meaningless if you are not sharing which brings me to an important point. I am not trying to create a “monologue” but a “dialogue” so leave a comment below, share your view, let me know I’m not the only one capable of seeing through this new world of smoke and mirrors. We shouldn’t have to worry about smoke and mirrors but when you elect egos that’s what you get. They are very good with smoke and mirrors. Plus, to me, writing is like quilting to others, or a diary for some or maybe gardening for others. It is whatever their passion is and one of the things I am noticing about these COVID restrictions is how much many are learning about themselves (discovering their hidden passions).

Writing is my passion, I love writing, I love using words to create a vivid image. I enjoy “fact checking”, sifting through details in order to be an informed voice of conscience, something a lot of people are lacking these days. But people like to share their quilts, some like to share their diaries or share their gardening accomplishments with others. People don’t play to their passions just to hide them in a closet so why shouldn’t I share some of my meanderings. I mean to sit and write something, then not share it in some way is like talking to myself and you know what we say about people that talk to themselves.

After eight months of COVID19 induced isolation I realized it wasn’t the writing that I was backing away from but the subject matter. I have spend so much time writing about access I didn’t realize how long I had been beating that horse. After almost fifty years of fighting for disability rights and access just wheeling away now would result in me feeling like my whole life has been a waste of time. I have been in a forest of access issues for so long I no longer see the trees and I can’t do that. At the same time I often feel like I’m screaming into an empty valley. There is a whole world of younger access activists out there, time for me to put down the mantle and let the new kids take over. After all 45 years is a long time to beat the same horse so good luck people and with a word of caution, I remind you to keep your guard up, gains can be eroded quickly and we have a government in this province who are using the facade of the pandemic to erode rights.

There, that’s the serious crap out of the way, time to think of the future. So I am going to design a new page and just have some fun while also getting my political digs in. We are certainly in serious need of some levity in that area and, with this government there are peat fields of digging that can be done. So I am going to close this year with an “All The Best in 2021” (can’t really get worse) but also an alert. I am going to leave access issues alone and focus myself back on social justice issues.

Watching the current ruling party, the UCP, strip away rights gives me numerous skids of info to go after. I will be redesigning my site, share some stories and perhaps provide some insight into how our democracy is being stripped away. One thing the COVID crisis has shown me is how little people really pay attention to detail. As a retired policy analyst research is my retirement activity so most of my writing will be based on that. People need to pay attentions and if I can get just one person to rethink the situation, I’m happy. Think about it, what kind of responsible role modelling does a Health Minister exhibit when he drives over to a constituents home to belittle him from the landowners drive way. Ask yourself what kind of government rips up the doctors master agreement at the beginning of a health crisis and then adds insult to injury by pushing their professional association into effectively creating regulations restricting the “portability rights” enjoyed by every Canadian.

So I will speak with you in the New Year, new look, new directions less concern over hurting peoples feelings. I’m writing about something because of something the topic emoted in me, not attack you. If you decide to personalize anything I say thats on you. Be aware and don’t be overly sensitive. And keep in mind I’m looking for dialogue, not a monologue. Leave a comment, ask a question, rip a strip off me but lets create a dialogue. If all I was interested in was a monologue I find an open mike night somewhere…all the best

Return To Sender

A simple picture of me sitting in a tree with a beer in my one hand and a joint in the other circa 1981 Pigeon Lake Cabin, caption "Life in a Tree"
Life in the tree

I haven’t published anything on my site for some time and actually thought I was finished with it. I have been writing a lot but not publishing. It just seemed everything I wrote was so negative and jaded that I didn’t want to put it out there. We are surrounded with the negativity of COVID19, the madness of Trump and the continual move by the current alt-right governments popping up everywhere I really didn’t want to contribute to any more negativity. However my writing does give me a way to keep that negativity from festering in myself. I am my own sounding board and my own emotional drainage spot. So I write.

In my own province we have a government that is closer to fascism than democracy. I can’t help but feel like that we are now in the twilight of democracy. A democracy so many gave their lives for seventy-five years ago. Ironically, in todays world, we send a younger generation to foreign lands to fight for a concept they no longer really understand. I see nothing but negative social media posts over the hypocrisy of our own political leaders for those very acts. I can’t help but speak out so I am back. I can’t, in good conscience, tell others they need to speak out while silencing myself. I cannot join the ranks of the complacent because that is what is killing our system.

Most recently I came across this picture of myself. That was a time when I could climb trees and leave my crutches on the ground. This was by Pigeon Lake and I loved being up in a tree cut off from the gravity of the ground while just gazing with a blank mind at the never ending sky above me. I was an outspoken activist with a busy career. I was going to change the world. After all the Vietnam War had recently abated and we had all of this change ahead of us to overcome the privilege of those who pulled the strings at that time. And while I was looking at this picture one of my favourite songs popped into my head but I saw it in a completely different light.

I close my eyes, only for a moment, and the moment’s gone
All my dreams pass before my eyes, a curiosity
Dust in the wind
All they are is dust in the wind

While that tune floated around my head I was pulled into the thought of Kamala Harris being named Joe Biden’s running mate in the upcoming American Presidential election. The news and all of the political pundits were heralding this as the passing of the torch to the new generation. That’s when it dawned on me, I’ve been working my ass off on social media trying to do some bridge building with “that new generation” by focusing on 30 year olds, Kamal Harris is 55 years old. The generation I have been trying to reach out to is almost 30 years younger. The ones I have been reaching out to are more like that guy in the tree, they want to change the world they know at 30 but, generationally thinking, we may have a good knowledge base at 30 but the “wisdom” required to make that knowledge effective is much more apparent in a 55 year old. It took me hitting fifty to really understand that. I had the knowledge, I just didn’t have an organized tool box.

Same old song, just a drop of water in an endless sea
All we do crumbles to the ground though we refuse to see
Dust in the wind
All we are is dust in the wind
Oh, ho, ho

So I am back and I will be speaking up. The majority of my generation (the baby-boomers) have become fixed in their believes. They are still voting like it’s the 70’s, that the Lougheed Conservatives are still building the wealth of Alberta (Kenney and his UCP gang are a long shot from what Lougheed began) and still hold a grudge over a decision of Pierre Elliot Trudeau from fifty years ago (National Energy Plan). It’s over, let’s move on and keep would be fascists out of our political halls of power. Let’s not let a grudge that should have been buried two generations ago let ourselves fall into demagoguery. That is what is happening in Alberta and a few of other provinces from what I read. The tools are there in a document called the Constitution so use them rather than just whining behind a keyboard on Facebook.

Now, don’t hang on, nothing lasts forever but the earth and sky
It slips away
And all your money won’t another minute buy
Dust in the wind
All we are is dust in the wind
All we are is dust in the wind
Dust in the wind
Everything is dust in the wind
Everything is dust in the wind
The wind

I do not to be just “dust in the wind”. I do not want the work I spend my life on mean nothing and be discarded by a provincial government that appears to be completely devoid of morality. I can’t count on my generation. Their existence and comfort is based on what they help build. They are now quite happy (and justifiably so) to live off the accolades of what they helped develop. The erosion of those things mean nothing now but that leaves a whole generations of people who will never knew life before the benefits that began in the 80’s.

A generational chart covering ten generations from 1915 until 2015.  Captioned "These are the Generational breakdown of the voters.  Where do you fit in?  I can almost predict voting patterns based on which generational group you fall into.
These are the Generational breakdown of voters. Where do you fit? I can almost predict voting patterns based on which generational group you fall into.

I’ll be back…

Taking a Stand – Part 1

Calgary Protest

I have been staying quiet recently and there has been a reason for that. We are already inundated with negative news and every time I sat down to write nothing but bitterness was showing up on my screen. People didn’t need more of that so I just kept my writings to myself. One still has to get that negativity out of your system but it is not always necessary to dump it on others. For that reason I wasn’t publishing anything, I was just cleansing. However with Kenney expediting his attack on our freedoms purely for the purpose of a twisted and bitter ego I can no longer be quiet. The UCP have provided an army of misinformation soldiers. I can’t sit back watching as fifty years of civil rights advancements be undone for no other reason than the ideology of a handful. I can no longer just sit back and, for those I haven’t yet managed to alienate, well sorry but here goes.

Today is June 11, 2020 and the day of one, of which I believe will be many, Alberta wide protest taking a stand against what has become the most authoritarian Canadian government I have ever experienced in my 45+ years of voting. Today will be a day of protest province wide that will not only challenge the Constitutionality of a piece of legislation but also expose every protestor involved to the threat held in that Bill, the Critical Infrastructure Defence Act, better known as Bill 1.

Still protesting after all of these years

It seems my life has been one protest after another often protest to protect what we thought had been won in past protest. This government, which has been abusing every citizen of Alberta while hiding behind the COVID19 pandemic crisis, is stripping away every right protected under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Bill 1 is designed to keep those who oppose this government from congregating or speaking out. It’s “marketed” as a “safety precaution” against those who would stand in the way of the oil and gas industry but is deliberately devoid of specifics.

What constitutes a “Critical Infrastructure”? The way this Act is worded leaves that totally up to the politician dealing with any given issue. In my days as a government policy analyst we were reminded regularly to use “descriptive adjectives” rather than “directive verbs”. Words matter and when it comes to legislation the more ambiguous the wording the greater the latitude of application. Bill 1 not only accomplishes that but also denies many of the rights and freedoms contained in the Constitution. I have fought for, marched in protest for and completed court cases for for over FORTY years and here we are again. This isn’t advancing democracy, this is stripping freedoms.

These rights include “Fundamental Freedoms” (as per the Constitution Act 1982) Part 1, Section 2, Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Freedom of Association. “Legal Rights”, Part 1, Section 7, “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.” “Equality Rights”, Part 1, Section 15, “Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.”. And this is just a sampling.

Polio victims in protest at Downing Street, London, 24 December 1969.

I have been marching in protests since I was a teenager and it tears me apart not to be able to join in on todays march. However time does ravage the body and in todays world of social media you don’t necessarily need to be there “physically” to have your voice heard. I will do whatever and however I can when it comes to protecting the rights and freedoms I have dedicated my life to promoting gains, defining rights and continually pushing forward. I will not sit back while a “new” type of authoritarian government begins to erode those advances made in the past by moving us backwards like moving our child labour protections back to the days of 1920 rather than 2020. Bill 1 is a huge step in the erosion of rights and protests need to happen. That’s a problem itself, this is only “one step”.

Kenney has not hidden the fact that he is about building a “new” Alberta and if that means tearing down the protections we currently have he is prepared to do that. At a luncheon presentation to the Calgary Chamber of Commerce in 2018 he stated, and I quote, “You move quickly. You move with speed because speed creates its own momentum. It also makes it harder for the opponents of reform to obstruct it.” And that is exactly what he is doing in the mists of a health pandemic. This is Bill 1 and I will be tackling the Charter affects of his other corrosive legislation from healthcare to education.

Kenney and the UCP are a bigger threat to Alberta than COVID19 but so many people don’t want to leave their comfort bubble. They don’t seem to realize that there is a cost to a “free society” and that it doesn’t happen without “involvement” from the people. Speak up people, out forefathers (and for some that means our parents) gave their lives so we could have the freedoms we enjoy today. It is easier to lose them than gain them.

I may not be at the Calgary protest physically today but my thoughts and heart will be there pulsating with the energy of the newest generation of activists. I am there for them and I am there to hopefully avoid reinventing the wheel. One thing social media has shown me is how little many of todays activists know about our history.

In closing, as a polio survivor, I implore everybody to, at a minimum, wear a mask. Social distancing is impossible during a protest, the least you can do is wear a mask for health reasons in this renewed fight for rights. On the irony side of things, it was fifty years ago that the Simon and Garfunkel song “Bridge Over Troubled Waters” held the number one song position for six weeks. It’s as appropriate today as it was in 1970. Stay strong at the march…  

He Didn’t Know

Well it is Monday, a nice sunny day with a bit of a cool breeze. I thought my days of writing were behind me and that it was time to just quit. People don’t seem to want to hear. However when you look at what is going on in, not only the world, but in my own province of Alberta I realize now is not the time for silence.

We are now ruled by a Premier who is closer to fascism than democracy. Albertans have become so numb to political rhetoric that the use of the word “purge” rolls off our back like water. The idea of “purging” democratic oversight committees was a term I associate with a third world despot, not a Canadian political party with a Premier name Jason Kenney. We have left the world of democracy and now is not the time to stop speaking out.

Picture of two tables with banners above them and a single individual seated at each table.  A long line has formed in front of the table with the banner reading "Comforting Lies" while the second table is absence of anyone waiting and a dejected looking individual sitting under a banner that reads "Unpleasant Truth".  The picture is captioned "The truth may set you free however it can also alienate you".
The truth may set you free however it can also alienate you

I had made a decision a couple of weeks ago just to stop writing and keep my opinions to myself. It took a birthday phone call from my brother to realize I couldn’t do that. This brother is four years younger than me and that is important in the family dynamics here. As many of you are aware I grew up in a hospital, to my “very” young brother I was just that kid up there waving down from my room on the third floor. Siblings weren’t allowed to visit, polio kids were kept pretty isolated back then.

He was too young to realize that the regulations of the day kept me from attending community schools. It wasn’t until the late 50’s that the Alberta Education Act was amended requiring schools to start accepting kids with disabilities. He was too young to realize that I could now attend school but any regulations that required a school to be “physically” accessible didn’t happen until the National Building Code was amended in 1976 to include wheelchair accessibility. The irony there became it was law that school administration could no longer refuse admission to someone with a disability but there were no regulations stating the facility itself had to be accessible.

I was sixteen when I got home that day to find a letter from the Alberta Eugenics Board. I knew what that meant. I was on the road hitch-hiking to Vancouver before my parents got home to find that letter. He was 12 and had no idea that the Alberta Sexual Sterilization Act gave the government the ability to sterilize me regardless of my desire. To him I was simply an out of control kid who had run away. He had no idea to the extent regulations affected my ability to live a “normal” life.

By sixteen I was a Vancouver street kid living with my crutches and my wits. Those were the survival skills that had been developed in the Children’s Hospital but something a 12 year old able-bodied kid could not fathom. The Alberta Sexual Sterilization Act was finally repealed in 1972. When I returned to Alberta to attend Mount Royal College, the old college down town, he was 16.

He had no idea that for me to get a leased apartment close to the college the regulations of the day required me to have a co-signer. That was part of the world of the disabled in those days and even that was a fight. Up to that point most disabled were institutionalized so one had to fight for the right to live independently in the community. Up to the early 70’s the social regulations of the day kept us in facilities. We had to prove we were “capable” of being responsible for ourselves which also included co-signers for any kind of contract.

As long as I’ve been aware he has always had some type of job. He was working as a gas jockey part-time while finishing his high school. He had no idea that the regulations of the time allowed employer to deny me any interview let alone a job because I was “disabled”. That type of national protection for the right to work didn’t happen until the introduction of the Charter in 1982. He didn’t know.

A picture of sunset over a field of wheat reading "One of the most cowardly things ordinary people do is to shut their eyes to the facts".

He, like so many, also doesn’t like to discuss politics. So when he phoned me for my birthday I touched on my favourite subject, politics. All you have to do is look at the protested happening, not only in the States, but world wide to understand the importance of political engagement. He, like so many, sees political discussion as adversarial, not a “fact” checking discussion. So after a few low level political remarks we settled into a discussion of completely mind numbing nothing. Following the polite “well have a good birthday”, he asked why I didn’t just give up the advocacy. He was pretty sure “nothing ever changes anyway so why get involved”. Well I can’t do that, a lot has changed over the years but you have to have the historical context to see that.

A lot has changed but change can be a slow process. Inactivity and silence are not what keeps the life blood of democracy flowing. Democracy isn’t free and change can be slow. The problem is the taps of democracy can be turned off much faster than it took to get the right flow going. I can’t keep quiet and to those out there, your silence is killing people. More to come…

Breaking Point

I was sitting here last night just catching up on some news items when the alert regarding the Minneapolis riots came across my screen. I flipped on CNN to see what was going on. I wasn’t surprised, I understand the frustration that comes from years of broken promise while being told that change would happen, the life events would improve, that the days of being marginalized were behind us. It is sad when you know something like the George Floyd murder and, regardless of your belief, it was murder. Anybody who was around when the Rodney King event happened would know the potential that this powder keg could turn into a battle-zone. It has been coming and people shouldn’t be surprised.

I have a life time of being subject to “broken promises” so I am well aware of how frustration can be like a metastasizing cancer. Unfortunately this also plays right into the hands of the actual perpetuators of these atrocities. The Minnesota demonstration was repeated in other cities across America last night as well but the crux was Minneapolis.

Sadly, the actions of that bend up frustration, having reached its limits, provided the ammunition for those creating so much of this unrest. It’s frightening to think we could be going back to the Rodney King days or even worse all the way back to the times of the Kent State massacre. I fully support a persons right to protest and I can certainly understand their anger fuelled frustration, however turning a protest into a riot just hands their oppressors more tools. In Canada we can no longer sit back and say “well that’s America” when this same type of oppression is taking over our political “temples”.

Just how stupid does the Premier think Albertans are

That same level of frustration is being felt by the marginalized of Canada. COVID19 is forcing us too recognized that. The most recent report done on the appalling conditions of senior care in this country is, in my mind, a “crime against humanity” and it took the involvement of the armed forces to raise the alarm. So for our Premier, the same one who is waging a war against healthcare professionals in the midst of a pandemic, stands up in the House and make this ridiculous statement I just can be quiet anymore. At first I thought it was just a meme taking a political shot at an out of control Premier who prefers to rule through fear and intimidation until I did some “fact checking”. From the broadcasting system right in our own Legislature.

This is the man Albertans elected to protect us, check his history

And what is this Premier doing to improve issues for seniors in Alberta besides making ridiculous comments like that one above, he’s phasing out the Office of the Seniors Advocate . God forbid there should be any oversight on an issue this sensitive. Then this morning this same Premier, the one who has never been able to graduate from an accredited university, despite all of the science and medical input Kenney has decided not to extend the protections of the current public health emergency status that expires June 15. And he did that with no medical input.

At the same time his UCP party is busily attempting to push through as much legislation as possible, most of which would never survive a Charter challenge. Bill 15 effectively uses tax payer money to fund more Charter Schools while removing funds meant to provide the additional costs of education assistance for “special needs” students. Charter schools are not mandated to accept students with disabilities so back to my childhood when the only place to access education was in an institution. Bill 10, which would have given the reining Party unfettered legislative authority, is being reviewed before any further attempts to push it through the House. Bill 21 which has the potential to deprive anyone with a disability equal health services due to what is called the “complex needs”.

In two days I enter a new decade. My birthday is Sunday and, as a polio survivor, I have a lifetime of broken promises fuelling me. Over the years I have tried to be reasonable. I have overcome many obstacles in my attempt to be cooperative. I have ignored my own accomplishments in my attempt to accommodate a system that keeps telling me “change is happening”. I have spend forty years on a wide variety of committees, advisory panels, working groups, focus session, evaluation teams, etc all in the name of advancing life options for the marginalized but in particular the disabled.

When decent behaviour towards disabled people is deemed extraordinary, you need to re-evaluate how you're conditioned to treat disabled people in the first place.
Think about it

And now Kenney is stripping services to the disabled. He is removing 47,000 seniors from the Blue Cross for Seniors prescription program, he has increased barriers to the Alberta Assured Income for the Disabled, as stated above he has created barriers to education by moving more tax dollars to Charter schools, and again the list goes on. An $800 wheelchair cushion that I had qualified for but not yet received before the COVID19 crisis arose through the Alberta Aides to Daily Living has been removed from the list of equipment. I no longer qualify. And again the list goes on. I’m a senior, I’m disabled and I try to be a nice guy. There is no reward for being a “nice guy” and I’m not going to take it anymore. Those days are now behind me, now I’m pissed and people that know me prefer me when I’m not pissed (which has nothing to do with alcohol consumption). It is time to riot and my riot tool is social media so bring it on Kenney, Shandro, LaGrange, or the UCP in general. I am not going into the night quietly…

Stay tuned…

Cracks in the Mirror

I am just coming up to the end of my 9th week of the COVID19 health crisis. I had entered this period believing my days of writing were behind me and that maybe, just maybe, it was time to just give up the fight and let others take up the torch. All indications are not many people didn’t really want to get their hands to close to that flame so maybe it is not time to exit.

After almost nine weeks of isolated reflection I am starting to see cracks in the mirror. If nothing else the COVID19 crisis has forced many people to take a hard look at what is around the community (and in many cases what “isn’t” around). We are in uncertain times for our health care system (#patients4abdocs), our educational sector is under attack and we have a government that doesn’t believe in governance. I guess now is not the time to be giving up activism.

I have been doing my best to avoid as much news as possible which is very difficult when you are a news junkie. Being in the wheelchair doesn’t exactly make “jumping on a bike” and work it off on the bike paths. I can’t exactly do a bunch of home repairs on a one bedroom condo. The weather, although improving (the rain has stopped), hasn’t been all that conducive to going out for a wheel. And even if I could right now there is no place to go. Calgary starts opening up Monday May 25 and I have already booked a haircut for Thursday. A true indication of the depths of boredom is when an old time hippie activist finds the act of a haircut exciting.

When your doctors office starts calling to see if they can e-mail some “Advance Care Planning” documents so they have something on file while finding activities to keep the office busy you start to realize just how bored everyone is becoming. These are things that need to be done but during a pandemic where healthcare facilities are being hyper vigilant about patients coming in you begin to understand just how far we have moved from the old norm.

When you have spend your life in some of the seediest areas of Calgary, Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal and never really felt threatened you would think a “stay home” pandemic order would be a piece of cake. When wearing masks and “social distancing” becomes part of a new norm (BTW Quebec how did that Bill 62 work out for you) you start to think you are on the set for some old western. For the first time in my life I actually feel a tinge of trepidation when the weather does allow me some sun and fresh air time. With that said my last three foray onto the streets for fresh air have resulted into almost epic movie scenes.

Part of the first event was caught on camera by a friend. He had come by and we decided to take a walk and capture some video on how well the Beltline was adhering to social distancing. This was 4:20 on a Sunday afternoon and we were just casually wheeling down 7th Street. My buddy (for the record a Millennial, trying to close that generation gap) stopped me and asked me to wait on that side of the alleyway entry. It had to do with capturing the light of coming out of the shadow and into the sun. He ran over to the other side of the alleyway opening and waved me on. Just as I was hitting the sun all hell broke loose and I found myself wheeling into the middle of a gang shoot out in an alley way (what level of education do you need to realize any good shoot out happens either at high noon or shortly after midnight), what kind of movies are these guys watching?

Anyway I was just starting to wheel across the alleyway curb when the shooting started. Being who I am I stopped to see if I could catch the licence plate off the car the one shooter was leaning over shooting at the guy in the oncoming truck who was shooting back. I’m staring down the alleyway, maybe sixty feet away, looking for that licence plate when my buddy hollered at me (he was already about 45 feet away, always good to know someone has your back) that it sunk in. As I looked at that gun it dawned on me that maybe the licence plate wasn’t that important and all of a sudden I was back at the National Wheelchair Games hauling ass on the track course. We hung around until the cops arrived, gave our statements and, after looking around, realized in the commotion the concept of social distancing quickly became irrelevant so got the hell out of there.

Along came a week of rain so I was in no immediacy to go wheeling. Started catching a bit of the local news just to stay abreast of the pandemic lockdown. If the world is coming to an end I figure my cable will be one of the first things to go, so I’ve paid for it, I’m going to max its use. My computer is WiFi capable and there are cell towers around so I can always use my phone to create a hotspot, data charges be damned. The COVID19 stories I could handle, there was very little that surprised me.

I have a fair idea of the underbelly of social conditions out there so not a lot of surprises. Some disgust, some disappointment and, on occasion, a few tears. I’ve lost a few friends in this time so that was difficult but the reality is when you are heading for 70 years old losing friend to death is a reality, as my brother would say “suck it up princess”. I have more compassion than that but I also understand the reality of a marginalized life. I don’t live in a bubble and when you are already socially isolated by a neglected build environment you have a lot of time to reflect. Accessibility is a concept in Calgary, not a reality. As the sun reappeared and it began to warm I started putting on my mask (bright yellow with some black and white design) to go out to catch a few rays. That’s when the public ignorance really hit home.

I have modified my “social distancing” to expand it to about ten feet. When you are sitting in a wheelchair and someone sneeze in your direction it sink as it settles. That extra four feet makes a difference (at least in my mind) and so physics tells me. On two different occasions, while having a mid-day wheel, I was approached by what I refer to as “brief-case rednecks” who spit on me while blaming the “stupid virus on you cripples”. These weren’t street people, drug addicts or people down on their luck, they were young guys in nice sport coats, I believe, waiting for the day they can put their sheets and pointy hats back on.

Now there was a time in my life when I would have handled this very differently and often involved violence but, as I’ve matured, I now behave in a more civilized manner. I did what a civilized person should do and made the police aware. Regardless I am now a little hesitant about wandering around on my own. I can handle the social isolation that comes with a healthcare crisis but I detest being a prisoner to my own insecurities. That’s state is relatively new to me. I have build my life refusing to be controlled by fear or intimidated by a series of policies designed to catch the deceitful while being presented as well meaning regulations meant to help the marginalized.

However when those policies begin to generate covert support of racism, and not all racism is ethnically focused, by a government that is more than willing to support racist tones then that is not the time for me to check out. I opened this by mentioning “cracks in the mirror”. I can’t sit back anymore and simply accept there is nothing we can do about it as an excuse for the erosion of our democracy. Look in that cracked mirror and see what’s looking back. We, collectively, elected a government and Premier with too many examples of coverts racism in their closets. We stuck our heads in the BBQ pretending to turn the burger while ignoring the facts of seniors being tossed on the street. We busily grab a cold one from the cooler while MLA Drew Barnes evicts a tenant two days after the lapse of the eviction protection expired, this during a healthcare crisis where so many people have been “furloughed” (fancy regurgitation of an old military word). We holler back at the kitchen to put some condiments on the shopping list instead of taking time to research the way the Kenney government is running (or should I say ruining) Alberta right now making it the Old West again. It is not hard to verify Kenney’s thirty years of covert racist behaviour.

So look in that mirror again and say “What can I do about it?”. I would highly recommend you start by developing an understanding of those of who may be different from you. Get to know someone younger, older, of a different culture, of a different gender (regardless of how they identify), of a different socio-economic strata, COMMUNICATE, be a mentor, bring some history to the discussion. We are all PEOPLE, we all have dreams, hopes, values, aspirations, etc. But we are not communicating very well. The best thing that can come from this COVID19 crisis is a “new norm” that we all have to work on to build. Don’t let a history of divisive rhetoric being spewed by a spiteful government continue to drive wedges between us.

So, yes, I am back and I will be keeping myself busy making people aware of what is spin and what is real. Two quick things in closing, kind of a food for thought but when a online petition demanding the province reopen “golf courses” can generate almost 50,000 signatures in less than a week but one asking for support of our frontline healthcare worker flounder with just less than 500 signatures after four weeks that speaks volumes to our priorities. Think about it.

Screen shot of a Tweet from Jason Ribeiro, current Director of Strategy for the Calgary Economic Development Board reading "We cannot let the last thing the remaining members of the Greatest Generation see be the betrayal of the values and principles they fought so hard to protect.  We ignore neo-fascism at our own peril and dishonour their service"
Jason Ribeiro is the current Director of Strategy for the Calgary Economic Development Board

I want to close by acknowledging and congratulating Jason Ribeiro. I met Jason soon after my return to Calgary through social media. He is one of those generational gaps I have been working with. He is passionate about his work and will need to be in light of the current economic challenges created by the COVID19 situation. Almost a week ago he and his wife brought their first child, Matteo, into this madness. I vividly remember the birth of my son and I am always at a loss for words to describe that but congratulations Jason, now you have someone to really fight for so what you are doing today will deeply impact his future. That always changed a persons point of view.

I can’t recall at what point Jason posted the attached screen shot of his tweet but for some reason I belief it was pre-COVID19. With a new norm now on the horizon I am not sure if Jason was being prophetic or sharing a view but it turns out to be very prophetic. So I say to Jason and the economic development sector of the community, we all have to overcome our differences and build on our commonalities.

We all had a role in combatting COVID19, now we have to, collectively, have an active role in the development of “new norms” that will work for the future of the Matteo’s. Don’t let hollow promises and shiny political bobbles get in his way. My regards to your wife and hold the little one tight. Trust me, in the blink of an eye you will be attending his high school graduation.

Running On Fumes

I have just finished week 7 of the COVID19 life-style and I’m starting to run on fumes. The fight is draining out of me. I feel like I’m trapped on a carousel of an ever changing cycle of Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, five stages of grief. However just as you think you have worked through one, a new tragedy shows up and you start all over again. I’ve gone through my denial, been a little angry about it (knowing so much of this was avoidable), and just as you are about to move into the bargaining stage, bang another tragedy comes along and you are back at denial.

A small part of history, she published her work on this in 1969 but if you Google “Five stages…” you come up with an assortment of topics. They all follow the same premise but use different content as a filler. For example, “The Five Stages of Change” identify “precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance” instead of Kübler-Ross’s original “denial, anger, bargaining, depression and, finally, acceptance”. Different words, same process. Did I need to include this little historical tidbit, probably not but I look for distractions these days.

I am exhausted by all of these “false promises” (do you really believe that if the Kenney government were sincere over their revised promise to doctors they would continue to force Alberta Medical Association into a court battle in the middle of a health crisis). I’m tired of these moments of shock when another tragedy arises but, mostly, I’m tired of the artificial narratives being poured out like Jim Jones cool-aid by governments that profess to have the best interest of all citizens at heart.

This “artificial” shock by Premiers over the appalling situation at the Residence Herron senior residence just sickens me. The fact that these political leaders could “feign” such a reaction to a problem they have devised tears any faith I have in the compassion of Canadians. These same governments have been stripping away supports to our most vulnerable for well over 20 years leaving us with seniors care services that look more like a third world immigrant holding camp than a compassionate centre of care worthy of the architects that designed what we enjoy today, CANADA. The situation was atrocious, the political reaction was a lesson in professional yoyo spinning and nothing more than “vote bait”. I’ve seen better bait on the Saturday morning television show “Canadian Fisherman”.

And like any good fisherman provincial governments have been “gutting” seniors care for the past twenty-five year. I’ve been aware of that, I’ve been paying attention. To the rest of you, why did it take a health pandemic to get your attention? I have often said “your complacency is killing me” but I never realized just how much truth that statement would bare.

It wasn’t a surprise when twenty couples were given eviction notices from their previously subsidized units at a Retirement Concept Assisted Living Centre in North Vancouver four years ago. Wexford Creek, a seniors facility in Nanaimo had been owned by the Edmonton group “Good Samaritan Society” was forced to sell resulting in almost 110 layoff notices. The Good Samaritan states they hadn’t had an increase in provincial funding in eight years so had to sell to a private company before they went broke. So these provincial governments feigning surprise just doesn’t cut it, they have been busy dismantling seniors services for years and sadly few have paid attention.

It was no surprise when Vegreville Alberta gave 52 employees their lay-off notices from a privately run seniors supported living centre and then offered to hire them back at a much reduced wage. This did not keep Premier Kenney from “phasing” out the Alberta Office of the Seniors Advocate four months ago so this feigned surprise is about as genuine as a set of hemorrhoids on an Oak tree. There are too many examples to really get into and it says a lot about out current society when it takes a pandemic of this magnitude to get people to open their eyes.

Most people I know put more research time into a new car than they do over what the facility they are trusting their parents care too. I had to point out to my own family who actually owns the facility my mother is in. It is a very nice assisted living facility but the company on the brochure is actually owned by a twice removed insurance company that trades on the TSE and makes a mint off of senior living. And governments are eating this up as their way of downloading costs onto the for profit sector.

The early days of this pandemic I did nothing but respond to calls from various disabled individuals whose morning care-giver hadn’t shown up to get them dressed, out of bed and into their wheelchairs. Others whose regular day programs had shut down for the duration of the pandemic but had given the client no warning. When I contacted the Ministry responsible for these things I received the traditional bureaucratic run around “well that service is contracted out, call the agency”. No, I pay tax dollars and expect some form of accountability for those dollars, I am not here to do your job. This pandemic has just reenforce my own belief that the disabled are more of an after thought than a priority in todays society.

Over a year ago I raise my concerns with the City of Calgary for shutting down the “Voluntary Vulnerable Persons Registry”. The registry was a major tool in knowing where the most vulnerable were in the community. The answer, “the registry was no longer economically viable”. What is a life worth and what role do the disabled have in today’s society?

A single individual in a grey toned landscape with the words "Never wanted pease in my life as I do now.  Like, I am so over things that complicate my life.  I want a complete peace of mind".  Caption below picture reads "Just embers left"
Just embers left

The COVID19 related death of Ariis Knight is a testament to how little value or understanding there is. When a “policy” over rules common sense we are in trouble. When a non-verbal 40 year old cerebral palsy survivor is refused the right to have the only person there (her sister) who could act as her “voice” turned away is this really a world worth living in anymore. People have lived in their little silo’s for so long believing everything is being taken care of, well then we are just a herd of sheeple. And we have a whole political system that is growing like a patch of weeds based on our own complacency. Well not my complacency, I’m just the guy nobody wants to listen to, accepting the truth I highlight would mean moving out of their bubbles of comfort.

How much comfort do you think the population of Residence Heron enjoyed? Like I said I am running on fumes these days. I feel like the embers of that camp fire we just roasted our marshmallows over. The last few wafts of that cedar smell is refreshing and relaxing but the fire is dying. I am surrounded by kindling, I’m just not sure I have the energy to gather any more kindling and I have been unable to generate any real interest in anyone to help carry the load. The world is going to look very different after COVID19 but I have used up most of my energy pushing for change after the last epidemic, polio. I’m not sure I have the energy to reignite a new fire…

Are You Paying Attention?

Your complacency is killing me! I use to wake up in the morning looking forward to my coffee, blueberry bagel, check my news feeds and follow-up with my social media requests. I’m a news junkie, I don’t deny that but I am dealing with an increasing number of friends and relatives who don’t want to check the news anymore because of the COVID19 healthcare crisis. And although I understand I am very concerns about it. My analogy to that is being tested for cancer but then refusing to book a follow-up doctors appointment out of fear of the results. Burying our head in the sand will not make this crisis go away, in fact not knowing the preventative expectations of your community will only add to the severity of this crisis.

As I said I use to get up looking forward to my coffee, bagel, blah, blah, blah. Now I get up to e-mails of ire, Facebook comments decrying my ideology (not sure how wanting knowledge on a healthcare crisis is ideological but whatever), a Twitter feed of conspiracy theorists and the latest news showing how much the wick has been turned down on the kerosene lamp of rights. If you are not paying attention you are contributing to the crisis and every twisted political ago out there knows that. Trump isn’t the only one twisting this to his advantage, we have Premier Kenney and the UCP fascists doing the same thing.

A blank poster with the words "I want my friends to understand that "staying out of politics" or being "sick of politics" is privilege in action.  Your wealth, your race, your abilities or gender allows you a life in which you likely will not be a target of bigotry, attacks, deportation or genocide.  You don't want to get political, you don't want to fight because your life and safety are not at stake.  It is hard and exhausting to bring up the issue of oppression (aka "get political").  The fighting is tiring.  I get that.  Self-care is essential.  But if you find politics annoying and you just want everybody to be nice, please know that people are literally fighting for their lives and safety.  You might not see it but that's what privileged does".  I have caption this with "If you are looking for "cute kitty" videos you are in the wrong room.
If you are only looking for “cute kitty’ videos you are in the wrong room

I survived one pandemic already (in 1952 the polio epidemic was declared a pandemic). Polio was considered an epidemic up to its peak in 1952 when they called it a pandemic for that one year. That year there were over 57,000 reported cases with 3,145 deaths. I faced that one and due, in part, to people wanting to ignore it I went untreated for ten days before it was acknowledged that, yes, I had polio.

So I am not very patience with those who choose to turn their backs on the news. Complacency doesn’t sit well with me especially when it is used to disguise ignorance. If you don’t understand “voluntary isolation” you don’t do it, if you don’t know what “social distancing” is you don’t practice it, if you don’t know why businesses are closed you are running around looking for something that isn’t there while running the risk of picking up something unexpected, like the Coronavirus. You can limit your news but I do not have a “Google” stamp on my head, quit using me as your news source particularly if you are just going to ignore it. This isn’t shit and giggles to me.

Picture of Martin Luther King, Jt stating "In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemy, but the silence of our friends".  I have captioned it "Your silence is deafening"
Your silence is deafening

You know who else knows you are not paying attention, the ideologists pretending to be politicians. I watched Premier Kenney’s very public (optics) on the news last night patting himself on the back for the great job his government is doing fighting this pandemic. He touted the “extra” money his government is making available to fight this health crisis. He fails to mention the $100 million taken out of the nursing and doctor budget in the UCP November 2019 budget. He doesn’t mention the 47,000 seniors who will be taken off of the seniors drug plan or the $11 million cut to ambulance services. I could go on but why, people don’t seem to want details. That is substance, not optics.

I am not only a news junkie, I am also a history buff so imagine my horror when I looked at what Kenney and company had “quietly” push through the legislative process the night before. When a government with this one’s background the idea of something like Bill 10 is frightening. If you haven’t been following the news (and I know most of you haven’t) Bill 10 allows this government to do just about anything without going through the legislative process.

I have fought too hard in my lifetime for “disability rights” to sit back and let a government, whose moral compass is suspect at best, take complete control of a herd of sheeples. We have a Premier whose leadership was under investigation (Kamikaze scandal), a Health Minister who tore up the provincial agreement with doctors, the same Minister of Health who went out of his way to drive to a neighbours (2 miles away) and berate him (the “neighbour” happened to be a doctor). Then Minister Shandro finishes his month by using his “position of privilege” to by-pass the “Protection of Privacy” process to obtain the private residence phone number of another outspoken doctor. The message here was “no matter where you go I can find you” and laws be damned. #ShandroMustGo This is not democracy, it’s fascism in growth.

When Kenney gets in front of the public and rattled off a list of former Premiers worth emulating and fails to mention Peter Lougheed but includes Ernest Manning, there is something wrong with his “hero list”. Manning was the longest sitting Premier in Alberta’s history (25 years and 7 months) and in that time was never able to severe his state relationship from his church affiliation. Manning, the same Premier who felt it quite acceptable to forcibly sterilize the disabled as right up to 1971.

It was the Lougheed Conservatives that repealed that piece of legislation after decimating the Social Credit government and taking the rein of democracy in the 1971 election. Church and state were quickly separated moving Alberta into the waning era of the civil rights movement. Any politician with a wall of hero’s like that should not be given the type of carte blanche over our rights afforded through Bill 10.. Our rights are precious and hard fought for. In the last week I have had discussions with a numerous people talking about “the death of democracy“, that perhaps we should accept the idea of democracy as an old pipe dream and go back to the days of “survival of the fittest”. Let business run the province, how did that work out for the disabled seniors of the Dorval’s Residence Herron?

Does History really need repeating

Again review your history. Fascism did not happen in Germany over night. It was the Reichstag Fire Decree that opened the door for the Enabling Act. With the trumped up case of the Reichstag Fire Decree (later the person blamed was discovered to be a “patsy”) being rushed through a kangaroo court, a severely failing economy and the Enabling Act the German table was set for the rise of tyranny. These are the same conditions we are facing today in Alberta.

To give Kenney and company unfettered control would be the equivalent of throwing he whole kerosene lamp I mentioned in my opening into the lake. We already have more than amble examples of how little respect this government has for the democratic process let alone human rights, do we really want to throw fifty years of fighting for human rights away to an ego dressed up in a suit? I don’t…