And so the Election race begins

Well, the Alberta election has finally been called.  I've been meaning to write this post for a few days now, knowing this day was coming, so I guess now is the time I do it.  Basically, 27 days before the election, I have absolutely zero idea which way I'm voting.  Zero.  And let me make this clear, it is not because of the fantastic quality of each party. It is exactly the opposite.

In no paticular order, we have the Conservatives, Wildrose party, Liberals, New Democrats, and the Alberta Party.  None of them scream to me as a party I want in government.  A bit about each:

The Conservatives have been ruling the province for 40 years.  While that's not necessarily a bad thing at one point they will have to lose.  Could it be this time?  Yes.  The number of questionable things the Conservatives have done int he past 2-3 years are frankly too long to list.  I could also say that about nearly every political party on the continent, so it's not worth it to go through everything.  It is my belief that the key for them will be whether or not Alison Redford can convince people that she is different enough from Ed Stelmach that there will be meaningful difference.

Now, Alison Redford is the premier of this province for one reason only.  That reason is $100 million in immediate funding for the education system.  Now, don't get me wrong, the previous leadership taking that $100 million away was not a good thing, but Alison Redford used that to her advantage and won the leadership because of it.  That is the only reason.  Now, for full disclosure, I did become a member of the tories in 2011 to vote for the leadership, and I did not vote for Alison Redford.  I did not agree with the majority of her ideas, nor did I think she was anywhere close to the best candidate in the leadership debates, which I followed, and attended the Edmonton one in person.  I do not think that she was the best person for the leadership, and I am not sure if the Conservatives can be an effective government under her leadership.

The Wildrose party under Danielle Smith makes me want to scream into a pillow.  I cannot remember a party that has beat their own chest so loudly without actually accomplishing anything.  The entire party platform seems to be "this is what the tories have been doing for 40 years and we will say the reverse of everything they are doing wrong since they have been in power for 40 years and don't know what they're doing."  I have yet to hear any policy speech or announcement from the Wildrose party that doesn't involve talking about how they they think the tories are bad and need to be voted out of office.  It seems that the Wildrose platform is so weak that their only differentiator is to attack the tories at every turn.  I don't like that.  And the problem is that even if they do have a good platform and policies that I might agree with, I wouldn't know it because it gets buried in their anti-conservative rhetoric.

The Leader of the Liberal Party is Raj Sherman.  Regardless as to how I may think about the Liberal Party, I do not want to vote for any party with Raj Sherman as the leader.  Beyond my issues with how he has handled his accusations about the health care system, he essentially went to the party that was the highest bidder after being ejected from the Conservative party.  it had nothing to do with his political leanings, but what was the best situation for Raj Sherman.  The liberal platform, while not fantastic, has some merit, but whether it is realistic or not is debatable.  But again, it is hard to tell past a leader who really does seem to have risen to his current position on one singular issue and value, and that does not bode well for that party.

The New Democrat leader is Brian Mason.  Brain Mason was my city councillor in Edmonton.  I will not vote for any party led by Brian Mason.  I'd go into more details than that, but anyone who knows how well Brian Mason did as a city councillor in Edmonton would know that I don't.  Since I can honestly say I have no idea who I am voting for in this election I am trying to be open minded about every party, but the fact remains that I will never vote for any party that Brian Mason is affiliated with, simple as that.

The Alberta Party is an interesting enigma, but they don't have anywhere close to a full slate of candidates, or the sheer literal volume of a campaign that the wildrose party has.  I know the least about them, and need to learn more sooner rather than later, I am realistic about them, and know how this election will likely go for them.  There is simply too much competition for them to thrive.

After reading what I just wrote, the one thing that remains clear that regardless of what the party is, the real problem in this provice appears to be leadership.  We simply do not have a single good, strong, charismatic leader in this province, and that is going to hurt every single party, and likely the election turnout.  I feel like I will be voting for a bad choice, no matter which party I choose to vote for.  That is unfortunate, but it is the truth.

Do not get me wrong, there are many more issues than just the leadership of the parties and how they conduct business.  There are real issues that need to be discussed, and the party that handles themselves the best on those issues will get my vote.  I'll be talking about those issues through the campaign, because they are what will drive it.  But wow, when I look at my choices today, at the start of the race, it does not look good.

27 days remain for either one party to win me over, or for one party to piss me off the least. Let the fun begin.

What a Storm

Last saturday an absolutely wicked storm blew through the Edmonton area. It was truly one of the most damaging storms I have ever seen. It was matched only by the massive storm that caused flooding few years ago. And while there was little to no rotation in the clouds, to many, the storm reminded them of Black Friday, when a Tornado touched down in the city in 1987.

The Clouds were easily the darkest I have ever seen. I had a wonderful view of the storm. I was over at a friend's condo that night. He lives in the river valley on the 7th floor of a condo building. He has a beautiful view of the river valley from which we could see the storm. The lightning was intense, and the wind was fierce. On the 7th floor balcony it was quite intense. I could feel the wind pushing me. I could see large tree limbs being pushed across the parking lots like they were pieces of paper. The first front passed by quickly.

The second front, about 45 minutes later, was not quite as windy, but it brought the rain. Easily the hardest rain I have seen in years. It came down very hard, very fast, and very large drops. Even with the patio doors closed while we were inside, we could hear the rain. That lasted for about 30 minutes. We never lost power there, but the lights flickered numerous times. While I was driving home, large portions of my trip home were dark, and without power. When I got home, it was obvious that the power had been out, probably for about 3 hours, and had just recently come on.

I did not take any really good pictures, however, many edmontonians did. Linked is the photo gallery from iNews880 of the damage that was done. Thousands of trees were destroyed, buildings damaged, the pictures really are amazing.

Once again, Twitter played a large role in this storm. There were many, many tweets during, and after the storm, pictures being relayed in real time, and first hand accounts being displayed in real time, as it was happening. This allowed coverage of the storm that simply would not have happened in the past, and is truly amazing. Also linked is Mack Male's blog where he talks more in depth about social media than I would. It's a must read.

[Read] - iNews880

[Read] - Mack Male's blog

My Letter to my MLA regarding Bill 44

For those of you living in Alberta, Bill 44 has become a very large issue.  It has the ability to limit classroom discussion about religion, sexuality, and homosexuality by requiring parents be notified before these topics are discussed in school as well as giving parents the ability to remove their children from the classroom if they do not agree with these topics.  It will also open up the ability for teachers to have human rights complaints leveled against them if these topics are brought up.  While the government claims that the “everyday Albertan” is on board with this legislation, I have not found that to be the case.  The “everyday Albertan” we have been called, seem to overwhelmingly oppose this bill.  Human rights advocates oppose it, and perhaps the biggest telltale sign, the Alberta Teachers Association also very publicly and vocally opposes this legislation.  Here is the letter that I sent to my MLA, the honorable Tony Vandermeer, as well as the honorable Ed Stelmach, Premier of Alberta.

 

Dear Mr. Vandermeer,

I am a member of your constituency, and I am a strong conservative supporter.  However, I am deeply concerned with Bill 44.  This piece of legislation is one that truly concerns me as a Canadian, an Albertan, and a human being.  This bill serves no other purpose except to cripple our education system, stunt the growth of our youth, and harm a teacher's ability to teach.

the Education curriculum, which is defined and maintain by the Government of Alberta, is largely based on though provoking subjects designed to open the eyes of our youth to new ideas, especially in the area of social studies.  So much of our human history is fuelled by religious beliefs.  From the medieval times when wars were fought over beliefs in different versions of the same god, to more recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Almost every important event in our history can be connected to religion in some way.  I know that a new Junior High social studies curriculum is being introduced soon, and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are included in the studies.  Bill 44 will cripple the social studies curriculum, because any time a teacher wishes to talk about something that might have to deal with religion, a letter will have to be sent home, and if a single parent voices concern, the teacher simply cannot talk about that subject.  How can a teacher be expected to teach well when the potential exists for virtually the entire social studies curriculum may not be teachable because of Bill 44.  A teacher will also have to tip toe around everything they do in fact teach, because as soon as religion is brought into the discussion, they risk having a human rights complaint brought against them.  Teachers should not have to teach in fear, and I am afraid that if Bill 44 passes, that will happen.  I know several teachers, and they are all terrified of Bill 44, and the consequences of it passing.

On the topic of human sexuality, I do not understand why new measures need to be implemented over what already exists.  When I was going to school, consent forms were sent home before any sex education classes, and any parent who did not want their child to learn about that, the child would be taken out of the class and given other activities to do for that period of time.  Bill 44 overly complicates this, and again further opens up the teachers to risks of human rights complaints.  What about biology classes that teach human physiology.  A parent could potentially launch a human rights complaint because their child is learning about the physical human body.

I will concede that homosexuality is a difficult issue.  Alberta is not the first jurisdiction, nor will it be the last, to deal with these issues.  I believe in equal human rights, and it is my personal belief that people who are homosexual are discriminated against because they are not always given the same basic rights that I am.  To be totally frank, the issue of homosexuality will not go away until people of my generation move into prominence, and become the decision makers in the world.  In my experience, it is the older generations who are mostly afraid of this issue, and are the ones pushing against it.  As the younger generation takes over, this issue will go away.  However, until that happens, consider this.  Teenagers commit suicide every day because they discover they are homosexual, and cannot bear the weight of the persecution, public perception, and lack of equality they are given.  Children who discover they are homosexual are scared, made fun of, and have their self esteem destroyed.  Bill 44 will further pile on to this, because as long as a single parent disagrees, a child will be unable to talk about homosexuality in a classroom.

I firmly believe that this bill will stunt the growth of the youth of this generation, because it will take away much of the thought provoking substance of the curriculum.  It is difficult enough to get the youth actively engaged in what is being taught, and if the best parts of the curriculum are taken away because one parent wishes them taken away, then the curriculum loses most of it's effect.  The subject will be bland, with no substance, and will get the youth further disconnected.  With the cultural diversity that now exists in our country, where it is not uncommon to find Christians, Catholics, Muslims, Protestants, Jewish people, and Atheists in a single classroom, as well as people who are hetero and homosexual, teaching will be nearly impossible, since there is no way to discuss a single subject without offending at least one person.

Our schools are supposed to be a haven for youth.  It is a place where our youth and teachers can talk about many subjects, some of which youth of today, especially teenagers, are not comfortable talking with their parents about.  A student should be able to trust their teacher, but if Bill 44 passes, the teacher might not be able to be the trusting figure for sensitive matters, for fear of human rights violations.

Please, vote no on Bill 44.  It is a dangerous Bill which could harm the school system of our province, our teachers, and our youth, in ways that cannot be described.  If Bill 44 passes into law, not only will I be ashamed to be a Conservative supporter, but for the first time in my 22 years, I will be ashamed to be an Albertan.

Thank you,

Tyler Hardeman

Please note that I am also sending a copy of this e-mail to Premier Stelmach.