Political Promises, Vote Baits

“Those who don’t value their words, will never value your wishes.” 
― Amit Kalantri

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.

Comparing the Alberta transfers with the BC transfers

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”.

Our Climate, Our Earth

The United Nations Climate Summit was billed as a way to galvanize and catalyze climate action prior to the 2015 Paris meeting.  Of the over 150 world leaders that attended Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper would not.  Apparently he felt it would be more important to attend events focused on maternal and child health.  A worthy cause no doubt but what good is maternal and child health initiatives if that local third world clinic is buried under an area flooded due to extreme weather change.  Harper’s “genuine concern” over maternal and child health is questionable when you look at the restrictive nature of Canada’s funding commitment.

With the amount of world leaders attending the climate change event and speaking to the General Assembly we have a Prime Minister who only attended the free meal that evening.  Having lived through the floods in Alberta but particularly the Calgary area I think climate issues should be front and centre of this governments agenda.  It was estimated at the time to be in excess of $5 billion to make things right and that cost continues to grow.  It is also a dollar estimate which in no way reflects that devastation and tragedy caused to the people of the area.  If the Harper government is really about the economy then they really need to look at this.  This has big time effects on the economy and extreme weather is having major economic effects across Canada.

So for today, rather than just whine about it, I submit my simplistic thoughts on climate change.

The Conflict of Nature

 The warmth of the sun on the cold mountain snow,

A conflict created through which new life will grow,

This is the way of this place we call earth,

Seasonal affects to give the world worth.

Through time eternal the balance has grown,

The cycle of nature is all we have known.

 Now the vanity of man claims we can do better,

Cut down the forests, make the desert wetter.

That life giving balance that had worked for so long,

The arrogance of man will make it all wrong.

We threw off the balance that existed in nature,

By denying the fact that we are just earth’s creature.

 Terry Wiens – Jan 2005


Climate Change, what?

I’m sitting here at 11pm watching the glow of the horizon in the direction of the West Kelowna forest fires.  The aroma in the air is like a thousand camp fires are burning.  The haze blocked out the sun for part of the day until the wind changed direction.  That wind has returned which doesn’t bode well for the evacuated residence, 2500 of them, in the West Kelowna area for tomorrow morning.  Every senior in the city has been homebound all day due to air quality and since Kelowna is a retirement mecca that is a lot of people.

This time last year I was sitting in Calgary following the SECOND 100 year flood after the previous one in 2006.  That was a short 100 years.  The same is true of the massive flooding that has happened in Manitoba.  There have been 3 hundred year floods in a space of 18 years (1996, 2006 and again this year).  And according to the world of science we can expect more of these weather catastrophes as climate change progresses.  The climate change that so many people still want to ignore or deny.

Over 90% of the science community are warning of the lack of action.  Even the US Environmental Protection Agency has jumped on the band wagon warning about climate change.  And despite the increase in tornados, floods, increasing lightening related fires, increased earthquakes and tsunami alerts people continue to deny the potential of these devastating phenomena being the result of climate change.

My mind flashes back to a conversation I had last week as another helicopter buzzes by overhead to check the fires again.  This time of night they can’t water bomb due to smoke and darkness.

“Climate change doesn’t exist” he said to me.  “It’s just an anti-oil things to keep people off balance”.  The person speaking this is a very close family member who is well educated but not really knowledgable.  There is a difference.

My only response with a look of wonderment “How can you believe that?”

“Well”, he responded (and this is a well educated retired 60), “I lived in Fort McMurray long enough to recognize the truth.  This whole weather things is just the cyclical aspect of nature.”

“Cyclical aspect of nature,” I repeated.  I am dumbfounded.  “The cyclical aspect of nature is moving about five times faster than it was one hundred years ago,” I tell him.

“That’s just fear mongering put forth by those who are anti-oil,” he tells me and the conversation comes to an end.  He has no interest in facts, just ideology.

This year they are predicting the hottest summer on record for the Kelowna area and we have already broken numerous temperature records, one going back to 1955.  This is the type of weather that produces lightening storms in the evening which in turn produces more forest fires in an area already as dry as tinder.  But still the climate deniers continue to maintain it isn’t happening.

I look out my window again to see the red glow off to the north west and think about that conversation.  There are no stars because the smoke doesn’t allow the light through.  If this is what well educated people are choosing to believe then I imagine by the time the reality of knowledgable people hits them there won’t be a climate to worry about.

Just one man’s opinion.