…and what we’re up against

‘The houses in the cul-de-sac accross the Street have assessed values ranging from $588K to $866K (public information, available on City of Edmonton website). There is no way this should be allowed to harm their property values which they (unlike the proposed residents) have worked their entire lives to afford. There is a reason the Southwest has historically been the quietest and safest part of town to live in. Houses are expensive and thus owners do all they can to protect their investments (which leads to even higher house prices) – Get it?’

 – Most recent comment on the CTV website regarding the proposed development in Terwillegar Towne.

Get the message? If you’re rich enough to be able to afford a house worth $866,000, then you deserve a quiet and safe neighbourhood. On the other hand, if you’re a poor schmuck, you’ll have to put up with the beggars, the gangs, the drugs and the crime, and your kids will never have the chance to break out of the cycle of poverty. So let’s keep the poor in their proper place – far away from us!

What we’re supposed to be up to…

“Free those who are wrongly imprisoned;
lighten the burden of those who work for you.
Let the oppressed go free,
and remove the chains that bind people.
Share your food with the hungry,
and give shelter to the homeless.
Give clothes to those who need them,
and do not hide from relatives who need your help.

“Then your salvation will come like the dawn,
and your wounds will quickly heal.
Your godliness will lead you forward,
and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind.
Then when you call, the Lord will answer.
‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply.

“Remove the heavy yoke of oppression.
Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumors!
Feed the hungry,
and help those in trouble.
Then your light will shine out from the darkness,
and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon.
The Lord will guide you continually,
giving you water when you are dry
and restoring your strength.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like an ever-flowing spring.
Some of you will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities.
Then you will be known as a rebuilder of walls
and a restorer of homes”.

Isaiah 58:6-12, New Living Translation

Seems like God has some things he wants us to be busy with. I know I often forget this and get sidetracked on, well, more selfish stuff. So hats off to Holy Trinity Riverbend for reminding us of what’s really important!

Stereotypes, anyone?

Anderson“Sixty middle-aged men with mental illness and addiction problems in the boonies? Most of these guys smoke, and most of them can’t afford cigarettes. Where are they going to go to pick butts out of ashtrays? When they get tired of sitting in their rooms, where do they go?”

Edmonton City Councillor Bryan Anderson

(by the way, Councillor Anderson is running for re-election this coming October.

Read what he’s talking about here. And then, if you are brave enough, venture over to the Facebook page of Terwillegar Speaks, the community group that is opposed to the new development.

You know, Councillor Anderson, some might characterize your constituents in the ‘Terwillegar Speaks’ Facebook group as elitist snobs concerned to protect their pristine community from anyone who doesn’t share their prosperous upper-middle-class advantages. People with absolutely no compassion or sympathy for those less fortunate than themselves.

To which you might respond, “That’s an unhelpful stereotype”.

Uh – yes?

Kettle, meet pot.

(Oh, and by the way, Councillor Anderson, I used to live in Ulukhaktok, Northwest Territories, a community on Victoria Island in the Arctic Ocean, with no road in, where we were connected to southern Canada by two flights a week.

Terwillegar Towne, in the boonies? Give me a  break!)

Just one question for the Tory leadership candidates

Tomorrow night Alberta will have a new premier. Either Doug Horner, Alison Redford, or Gary Mar will win the second ballot in the Progressive Conservative leadership race tomorrow and, since Alberta is virtually a one-party state, will become the new leader of our province as well.

During the campaign the candidates have debated many issues, but there is just one that is dear to my heart. I would like to ask the three remaining candidates this question: ‘Gary, Alison, and Doug: which do you think is more important: NHL hockey, or enough teachers to do a good job of teaching our children?’

I have a very personal interest in this question. You see, my daughter worked very hard to get her education degree, because the only financial help I was able to afford to give her was a free place to stay. She got a small inheritance, and she worked part time, and she worked a summer job through ’til Christmas one year, taking five years to get her B.Ed. instead of four, but she came out without a student loan to pay off. She then decided to take advantage of the opportunity to teach in England and ended up working over there for two years.

My daughter decided to come back to Canada in the summer of 2010, hoping to get a teaching job here. Bad timing! Budgets were so tight and there were so many unemployed teachers around that she was not able to even get her name on a sub list here in Edmonton. And as for getting a job this Fall – forget it! School boards across Alberta were laying off a thousand teachers because of inadequate funding from the government. Consequently, she is now back in England, looking (so far unsuccessfully) for another  job over there.

Meanwhile, here in Edmonton, what does our city council think our province should be spending taxpayers’ dollars on? A brand new hockey arena! Darryl Katz (a millionaire), who owns the Edmonton Oilers (another group of millionaires), apparently thinks that he doesn’t have enough money to build this piece of private enterprise himself. So, like so many capitalists, he wants to be socialist with his costs and capitalist with his profits; he wants the city to contribute money. The city has agreed to put a total of $225 million into the project, and is asking the provincial government – the same provincial government which is apparently too poor to continue to employ the one thousand teachers it laid off this summer –  for another $100 million.

Please understand – I know it is not a simple issue of the next premier of Alberta making a straight choice between $100 million for an Edmonton arena or $100 million to put more teachers in our classrooms. I know that there are many potential projects for funding and that the issue of provincial budgeting is a huge one. But nonetheless, the idea that I might possibly be a citizen of a province that laid off a thousand teachers while giving Edmonton $100 million to build a new arena for its millionaire hockey players somehow sticks in my craw. Just as it sticks in my craw that in our province child and youth care workers (who often put their personal safety on the line) working in group homes still make about $15 an hour, while provincial cabinet ministers make $184,000 a year (one third of it tax free!).

So far, to his credit, Premier Stelmach has said ‘no’ to direct cash grants to Edmonton’s arena project, although he has mused about other ways of helping. But of course, after tomorrow night Premier Stelmach will be out of a job. So I would like to ask the three people who are contending for his job this one question: Gary, Alison, and Doug, which do you think is more important: NHL hockey, or teachers?

I would really like to know.

In a rare political announcement…

This blog enthusiastically supports Mayor Stephen Mandel in his run for a third term as mayor of Edmonton. I well-remember how delighted I was that night six years ago when I realised that Mayor Mandel had scored an upset, coming up the middle and defeating front runners Bill Smith and Robert Noce. Has he been a perfect mayor? Of course not. But he is head and shoulders above any likely opponent, and I am very pleased that he is running again.

This blog also enthusiastically supports Catherine Ripley in her bid for re-election as Public School Trustee for Ward H. I have known Catherine for over ten years, and I have found that not only is she a conscientious, hard-working person who constantly searches for new ideas and better ways of doing things, but she is also a person of genuine compassion and concern for others, a person who cares not only for ‘education’ as an issue, but also for parents and children as people and wants to find ways to make their lives better. And, to top it all off, she is a member of St. Margaret’s Anglican Church!

Finally, this blog applauds Edmonton City Councillors in their decision yesterday not to put a vote on the subject of the closure of the City Centre Airport on the ballot for next month’s municipal election. Furthermore, now is the time for the silent majority of Edmontonians, who support the consolidation of services at the International airport and the sustainable redevelopment of the city centre sight, to get out and vote for these councillors against those who would redefine City Council around a (largely irrelevant) single-issue. The campaign against the closure of the City Centre Airport has already cost Edmonton taxpayers over $100,000; let’s knock it on the head decisively in this campaign so that, finally, our city can move on.

Remember: decisions are made by those who show up! October 18th is municipal election day. Municipalities deliver a huge percentage of the government services enjoyed by Canadians. Your vote counts!