Family Day Alberta Style

Tomorrow is Family Day in Alberta.

While we wait for Jason Kenney’s Family Day announcement extolling the virtues of the family and maybe throwing in a reference to Albertans as “people of destiny” (he hasn’t rolled out that hoary chestnut for a few months) we pause to consider how Family Day came into being.  

It was Getty, right?

Most Albertans credit Progressive Conservative premier Don Getty with the creation of Family Day. What they don’t know is he got the idea from the NDP who tabled the Mid-Winter Holiday Act a year earlier. The PCs said the Act was ridiculous (what are you going to call the third Monday in February, Karl Marx Day?), inefficient (Albertans don’t want another holiday, they want to work) and expensive (businesses will have to pay their employees overtime).

Norman Rockwell “Road Trip”

They dismissed the idea…until the following year when Getty introduced the Family Day Act.

The PCs thought it was a brilliant idea. The opposition parties supported the idea of a holiday but suggested the concept of Family Day could be expanded.

Two NDP MLAs in particular; Marie Laing and William Roberts, made some compelling suggestions:

  • Put Family Day into a broader context, one that focuses policymakers on truly supporting families by enacting legislation to eradicate unemployment and poverty (particularly for women and children); address the needs of troubled families dealing with domestic violence and the stress of caring for physically or mentally disabled family members, and provide services to facilitate healthy family functioning.
  • Use Family Day to reflect on how families, and their needs and aspirations, should be considered in all matters of social action.
  • Make Family Day more meaningful by encouraging Albertans to see all citizens as “our brothers and sisters in a … community sense” who’ll work together and support each other.  

The NDP MLAs also raised the concern that the PCs seemed to be talking about Family Day from a  “politics of nostalgia” perspective, a misguided sense of what the family looked like in the 1950s when “a dollar was a dollar and people used to watch CFL football games all the time.”  They pointed out that it was the 1990s, those days were long gone.

The PC government rejected the Opposition’s comments as “nonconstructive”, “nonpositive”, “timid”, and “fearful”.  

Premier Getty predicted Family Day would be “something that is going to…play a greater and greater role in focusing on one of the traditions, one of the foundations upon which this province is built and why it is such a great province and why we must come back to those traditions and the foundation.” (We’ll check this against Jason Kenney’s announcement tomorrow).  

Kenney’s take

Tomorrow as we listen to Jason Kenney’s Family Day bromide, we will bear in mind that actions speak louder than words.

Mr Kenney’s most significant action to date has been to pass a budget that cut support for education, healthcare, seniors, postsecondary students, persons receiving AISH and Income Support and families requiring daycare. It increased the cost of car insurance and (indirectly) property taxes, while at the same time fostered a culture of victimhood and outrage that’s driving young people out of the province; all in aid of making life more profitable for corporations.

We know who holds a special place in his heart.

May we suggest he drop the pretense and simply replace Family Day with a new stat holiday; he can call it Corporation Day.

Sources: June 19

This entry was posted in Alberta Health Care, Economy, Education and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to Family Day Alberta Style

  1. Public Servant says:

    Family Day is when you are grateful that you can claim your mother’s non-existent basement suite to defraud taxpayers.

  2. Mary-Louise Mitchell says:

    My friends rented their home to one of Don Getty’s sons in the early 1990’s. I believe he had a drug problem and did serious damage to their home. Mrs. Getty would come over to pay the bills. Perhaps Don was feeling guilty?

    • Mary-Louise, I’ve heard similar rumours. What I found interesting was reading Hansard which recorded all the reasons why the PC’s thought the NDP’s Mid-Winter Holiday was a terrible idea, only to reverse themselves a year later and decide Family Day was brilliant. Talk about hypocritical!

      • Dwayne says:

        Susan: Speaking of hypocritical, I remember how so many Albertans were upset at the Federal Liberal’s ‘sponsorship scandal’. They wanted heads to roll for something that was $100 – $250 million maximum in cost. Yet they never said anything when the Alberta PCs did far costlier debacles, such as the over $30 billion electricity deregulation debacle, I just mentioned. The Alberta PCs did many more very costly debacles. Hansard covers all of that. I remember a Malcolm Mayes political cartoon from around 2004 – 2005. It showed Jean Chretien at a media scrum, trying to justify the $250 million ‘sponsorship scandal’, and he morphs into a caricature of Ralph Klein at a media scrum trying to defend his $400 million mad cow bailout failure, and having a fit at the media and Opposition, then storming out. The UCP have also done costlier debacles than the Liberals have done in Ottawa, but again many in Alberta brush it aside.

      • Dwayne, the hypocrisy keeps building. Kenney recently commented that he’s standing by the War Room. His excuse for their pathetic performance is it’s taking them a while to get going. If this was a private sector company the board of directors would have fired the CEO and senior leadership team a long time ago; not so in this case because the board is made up of 3 UCP cabinet ministers: Doug Schweitzer, Sonya Savage and Jason Nixon. In the private sector when a company’s board fails to discipline senior management, shareholders dump its stock. We can’t do that here because the War Room is an arm of government so we’ll be stuck funding them to the tune of $30 million a year for four years whether we like it or not.
        If the NDP tried this they’d be labeled socialists or worse. But for some reason it’s OK when the UCP does it. If that isn’t hypocritical I don’t know what is.

  3. Linda Munroe says:

    Well said!

  4. Dwayne says:

    Susan: Thanks for another great blog. Long ago, I knew someone who gave a reason why Don Getty created Family Day. He said that it was so he could see his incarcerated son in jail. I don’t want to go to any speculations myself, but I remember being told that. However, it still is true today. Anything good the NDP proposes, or does, the Conservatives (like the UCP), want to lay claim as their idea. I will also admit that when Peter Lougheed stopped being premier of Alberta, the Alberta PCs took a turn for the worse. So many very costly debacles, and also they made it harder on individuals and famillies, with things like Ralph Klein’s over $30 billion electricity deregulation debacle, deregulation of other utilities, also magnifying their costs greatly, his flat tax failure, the layoff of numerous nurses and teachers, making it harder for lower income Albertans, like people on AISH, government assistance, and including many seniors to be able to make ends meet, and then creating a mega billion dollar infrastructure debt, (which is probably near the $30 billion mark), and so on. What we have the UCP doing, are very similar things, like you just mentioned. The UCP’s nearly $5 billion in corporate tax cuts, which yielded not one single hire by any corporation, costly flights that have had no tangible benefits, and other very costly debacles, are at least $15 billion, or more, by now. As oil booms have went the way of the dodo bird, as of 2014, it is individuals, and families who will suffer from the UCP’s bad policies. If you are well to do, you will not be bothered by the UCP’s very costly bad policies. Unfortunately, many Albertans will. I remember clearly how Ralph Klein behaved like a dictator. We who are old enough to remember, recall his rather bizarre support of a certain South American dictator, when the issue of private for profit auto insurance was brought up in the Legislature. Also, Ralph Klein bullied municipalities and counties, into submission if their elected officials did not support Ralph Klein and his government. Things such as privatization of liquor stores and registries in Alberta, (both being very bad moves), deregulation of utilities in Alberta, and the flat tax failure, (also very bad moves), were never brought up at the ballot box, but were rammed down our throats. The UCP are doing similar things, with different items, and are also acting like dictators, even bullying municipalities into doing their bidding. Also, the UCP never consulted anyone, one matters like prescription coverage changes, (which can risk people’s health), changing AISH payment dates from 4 business days before the end of the month, to the first day of every month, making anyone on AISH go longer on such an very small amount of money, and so on. Even how Jason Kenney became premier, and his firing of the Elections Commissioner, sure sounds like a dictatorship to me. I had 3 grandparents, two great grandparents, and other relatives, who fled oppressive governments in Eastern Europe. The UCP is making it oppressive for individuals and families in Alberta. Hansard, if I recall, was Peter Lougheed’s creation. Will the UCP try to get rid of that, to cover up their whopping blunders? I would not doubt that.

    • Dwayne, you raise many important points here, I was particularly struck by your comment at the end where you asked whether Kenney might abolish Hansard in order to avoid exposure of his government’s blunders. I hadn’t thought about that but you’re right, the UCP like the PCs before them, have created an environment in which the PostMedia newspapers are reluctant to criticize them (they’ll muster up the courage to do so if the issue is particularly egregious). Without Hansard which allows the Opposition to ask pointed questions and provide important facts when giving members statements, we’d have a tough time keeping up with what the UCP is doing.
      Controlling the media and the flow of information is something tyrants do.
      Did you notice how the UCP is using the department of Alberta Health to spread its propaganda in support of slashing the AHS budget. This is appalling because Alberta Health is supposed to be an impartial administrative body, it is not the War Room, ie another arm of the UCP propaganda machine.

      • Dwayne says:

        Susan: I’m aware of that. It’s bad what the UCP are doing to nurses, and other health care workers, (as well as teachers). It’s just like Ralph Klein has done, thinking it would help ‘balance the budget’. I’m related to nurses and teachers. An older sibling had to relocate to Texas with her soon to be husband, in the early 1990s, to work as a nurse. Is Tyler Shandro a medical professional? No. Regardless, he has a set agenda with health care in Alberta, and the UCP will do whatever they want with it, which can’t be good.

      • Dwayne says:

        Susan: Also, it’s been a given for a long time that Postmedia is associated with the Conservative parties. I recall this starting with Ralph Klein asking Rod Love to chastise any newspaper columnist who dared to criticize Ralph Klein and his PC government. It reminds me of when the Social Credit Party chastised and tried to control the media in Alberta. That backfired for the Social Credit Party. However, if I recall correctly, Ralph Klein had something to do with certain columnists fired, like Mark Lisac. We have seen The Sun (now under the Postmedia umbrella, for quite some time), endorsing and praising the Conservatives. In 2012, they were behind the Wildrose. In 2015, they were behind the Alberta PCs. The Alberta PCs $35 billion bitumen upgrader boondoggle was not front page news in th Sun, prior to the 2015 provincial election in Alberta. It was just a small narrow article, a few pages in. Also, election polls always put the Conservative parties in the lead. Then, in the Edmonton Journal, the Calgary Herald, and The Sun, there were full page ads with the UCP and Jason Kenney, being endorsed by Rosa Ambrose (comical blooper). The Sun was also endorsing Andrew Scheer, before the last federal election. In The Sun, from the vast majority of their columnists, right through to the letters people write, it’s pretty much all praise of the Conservative parties, and constantly slamming the Liberals, the NDP, and other parties. It’s also been established that Postmedia is a tool for the UCP’s War Room. Very bad.

      • Dwayne you’re so right about this. If Postmedia was doing its job it would be running a bunch of stories on Kenney’s recent comment that climate change was “obvious” and Alberta has to do its part. At first it sounded like Kenney had seen the light, but when you consider that he’s still fighting Trudeau’s carbon tax and still funding the $30M/year War Room, and letting the Public Inquiry trundle along, that sends the opposite message. And yet, not one Postmedia outlet bothered to test Kenney to see if he was sincere. I guess they don’t want to make their guy look bad.

  5. ed henderson says:

    How about “Alberta Debt Recognition Day” . We could fondly remember Alberta’s debt rising about 50 or 60 billion in 4 years.

    • Ed, the important metric here is the percentage debt to GDP. Alberta’s debt to GDP is 3.3%, the lowest of all the provinces, the next lowest is Sask at 11.5%. Under Harper Canada’s debt to GDP ratio ranged from 31.4% to 36.3%.
      Kenney is using scare tactics as an excuse to cut public services in order to move closer to the privatized conservative state that he, Harper, Reagan, Thatcher and others think is ideologically better for everyone, sadly it’s just better for the rich.
      Whenever people complain about the debt I ask them what their lives were like under the Getty government and how their lives “improved” under the Klein government. They don’t have an answer.

    • Dwayne says:

      ed henderson: Who caused that debt? It was the Alberta PCs, when they started to go astray from Peter Lougheed’s sound principles. It was not from the NDP, because the NDP were trying to fix the great mess the Alberta PCs handed them, such as badly maintained infrastructure, and so on, in only 4 years, and amidst sunken oil prices, which were present prior to the NDP taking over. Jim Prentice’s, ‘look in the mirror’ comment should offer a clue into that. Actually, it goes back further than that, when Jim Prentice was not premier, that the Alberta PCs predicted our debt would be substantial. Now, the UCP are compounding the debt.

  6. Jaundiced Eye says:

    Prosperity Through Austerity. George Orwell would be impressed.

  7. Dave says:

    Yes, Mr. Kenney hasn’t talked much about people of destiny lately has he? I guess destiny is not looking so good these days. It also seems a bit Alberta Uber Alles, which is ironic given Kenney has most of his life in other provinces. The term carpetbagger comes to mind. Unlike, some other premiers like Getty who were born elsewhere, but actually did live much of their lives here.

    Family Day does have that tinge of nostalgia about it that Conservatives seem to like. I didn’t realize the idea was borrowed as well. I always thought it arose when Mr. Getty realized he should spend more time with his family after his son got into legal trouble.

    I don’t have a problem with people focusing on their families more, but I think a lot of Conservative policies are not very family friendly, so a lot of what they say is lip service. Ironically again, our current premier doesn’t have a spouse and children so I wonder how he will spend family day. Perhaps in his mom’s basement in Calgary, which was supposedly his official residence when in fact he lived in Ottawa for a number of years.

  8. Dave, here’s JK’s Happy Family Day statement:
    “Thirty years ago, Alberta began the tradition of Family Day, a day for spending time with our families and appreciating the place they have in our lives. Since then, four other provinces have joined us in recognizing the holiday.
    “Family is the basic and most important social institution. From the families of the first Indigenous Peoples, to intrepid settlers, through war and depressions, family has kept people together and resilient. We can thank our families for many of our blessings, and for instilling strong values in us.
    “Whether in person or through technology, I encourage everyone to enjoy time together with family today.”

    No mention of people of destiny, but I wonder how many people working the Family Day Monday are doing so without the benefit of overtime pay. Workers aren’t eligible for holiday pay if the stat is not a “regular day of work”. Monday Feb 17 will not be counted as a “regular day of work” unless the employee worked 5 Mondays in the last 9 weeks. An employer who wants to avoid paying holiday pay can simply rejig the employee’s schedule to ensure he doesn’t make the “5 of 9 rule”. I know Kenney overhauled all these rules, I think, but I’m not positive, this was one of his changes.

  9. ema says:

    I contacted CBC Calgary (radio) on Saturday morning after hearing, no less than THREE times in an hour, a report that Kenney had said that the War Room was still in its “early stages”. Seriously??!!! For that we are being charged $82,000 per day, for their horrible propaganda!

    I was outraged by it, as it appeared CBC was providing a platform and promoting UCP opinions, no matter how false the report. The War Room had been widely ridiculed last week, specifically their ongoing gaffes last week, where the knuckleheads (led by failed UCP candidate Tom Olsen) had attacked the New York Times.

    I’m still waiting for a response from CBC, though they did send me two messages that someone would get back as soon as possible. I know it’s been a long weekend but the delay is unacceptable.

    • ema, good on you for holding the CBC accountable. I wholeheartedly agree with your opinion of the $30 million War Room. It’s ironic isn’t it that the UCP who advocate that public services must deliver value for taxpayers’ dollars or be privatized, aren’t the least bit fussed about the negative value we’re getting from this expensive and harebrained idea.
      The War Room is a laughing stock but Jason Kenney will never admit it because he hates to be proven wrong.

  10. carlos beca says:

    Hard to believe that Conservatives are nostalgic about the 50s and 60s when apparently there was more sense of community and when “a dollar was a dollar and people used to watch CFL football games all the time.”
    The only reason a dollar is no longer a dollar is only because of neo-conservative and neo-liberal ideology of the last 30 years. They shifted their attention to the corporations and the powerful to enrich themselves in the process and totally abandoned the regular citizen. It is not an accident that incomes have not moved in 30 years. Only politicians are surprised with how that happened.
    Unreal – first they do it and then they are nostalgic. I have no empathy for their class at all. Replace them all.

    • I agree Carlos. The political gong show in the US is instructive. Bloomberg is surging in the Democratic primaries and is viewed by many as the best candidate to take out Trump. In 2001 Bloomberg was a Democrat, then he switched to being a Republican and now he’s an independent. Trump was a Republican in 1987 and changed his party affiliation 5 times from Independence Party to Democrat, to Republican, to “no party”, to Republican. Seems to me both Bloomberg and Trump are cut from the same cloth, their only ideology is get rich and stay rich, and once you’re bored with that run for the top political post in the USA, because you can never have enough money or power.

  11. Jane Walker says:

    What a great blog, Susan!! Fabulous input from your regular followers … thank heaven. I always appreciate this as I get older and my participation in ‘things political’ becomes more benign.
    There are two things that I would like to see reinforced … the fact that corporate tax cuts were intended to result in job creation is one thing BUT the fact that it is simply reducing the revenue to the province … and preserving the public education system where our children are encouraged to develop critical thinking skills (an ongoing positive influence for parents and other adults as well).
    Do we still have that ridiculous flat tax?
    I love your blog and admire the people who regularly respond … it’s better than any therapy I could get elsewhere!
    Keep up the great work!!

  12. Jane, thank you! Your points are well taken, the corporate tax cut did not create any new jobs but certainly made it more difficult to pay for healthcare and education, which in turn reinforces the UCP’s argument that the publicly delivered healthcare and education are inferior to the same services delivered privately. What the UCP don’t say is those who deliver public services privately are allowed to pick and choose who gets the service. For example, if you’re a severe diabetic don’t expect to get to the front of the line for privately delivered hip replacement; if you’re a child with a learning disability don’t expect to be accepted into a private school. The inequity of the private sector’s ability to cherry pick is even more egregious when you consider the private sector is subsidized by public dollars collected from all tax payers, not just those rich enough to purchase private healthcare and private education.
    With respect to your question about flat tax, Notley’s progressive personal tax scheme is still in place, but I predict Kenney will go back to Klein’s flat tax as part of his re-election campaign in 2023. By then Alberta should be on its knees with no real economic recovery, inferior public healthcare and inferior public education, but hey, tell the rubes they’re better off under Kenney; they’ll believe anything, eh?

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