A Really Great Photo…

I know, I know, I’ve already done an article on why I voted for Rachel, but I took this really great photo at the Calgary Rally on Saturday and I had to share it.

Ta da!!

rachel bw

So, now that I’ve got your attention here are my top 10 reasons to vote for Rachel Notley’s NDP as opposed to that other guy:

  1. She followed in her dad’s footsteps. Grant Notley was a smart political leader who cared about the public good.  Kenney responded to a spiritual call from Pope John Paul II.  The Pope says contraception, abortion, homosexuality and assisted dying are evil and if they can’t be banned outright, they should be curtailed as much as possible.
  2. She’s run a scandal free campaign. Scandals cling to Kenney like dust to Pig-Pen:  the RCMP investigation into the UCP leadership race, the Kamikaze candidate, fraudulent voters, Peter Singh, the bogus Stephen Mandel robocalls, good grief Charlie Brown!
  3. None of her candidates have resigned or been disqualified because they’re white supremacists, homophobes, Islamophobes, or misogynists. Kenney on the other hand, well…if you’re elected by these people, you’re beholden to these people.
  4. She takes advice from experts and creates policies based on evidence. It’s not clear who he takes advice from but he continually trots out rehashed versions of failed  policies like the Saskatchewan Surgical Initiative which was supposed to reduce hospital wait times but was cancelled because it cost too.
  5. She wants to be Alberta’s premier. He wants to be Canada’s prime minister.
  6. She leads a political party. He leads an economic movement called the “free enterprise party”.
  7. She knows the economy and society are two sides of the same coin, he thinks governing is something you do in sequence, first the economy, then a compassionate society…assuming we don’t hit another economic speed bump…
  8. She’ll never stop supporting women, seniors, children and the vulnerable. He thinks those who can afford the best, deserve the best, the rest can wait (see #7 above).
  9. She wants to diversify the economy because the energy sector represents 24% of Alberta’s GDP, he doesn’t know what the word “diversity” means.
  10. She trusts in an intelligent and compassionate electorate. He believes if you make ‘em mad and scare ‘em bad, he’ll win.
  11. She knows it’s important to get along with those who can help you get a pipeline. He thinks yelling and threatening lawsuits will bludgeon them into submission.
  12. She’s fighting for all Albertans, he’s fighting for corporations and the top 1%.

Well, that was 12 points, not 10, but you know how it is when you start making lists.

If you haven’t voted already, look at the photo.  Rachel and her candidates have earned your support.

Posted in Politics and Government, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 15 Comments

A Guide to UCP “Conservatives”

The Peter Lougheed Progressive Conservatives parted company with the Kenney “conservatives” when Kenney created the free enterprise unity party.  Those three little words signaled the transformation of the conservative party into one that cares only about money.

With the Lougheed PCs gone the UCP turned elsewhere to fill out their ranks.

They picked up misogynists, homophobes and racists (Charles Adler calls them the knuckle draggers), the “brand name” conservatives who think the UCP is an extension of the Lougheed conservatives because they share the word “conservative” in their names, the victims who’ve bought into Kenney’s paranoid view of what’s happening in the oil patch and the me-first conservatives who think Notley has done a good job in difficult circumstances but don’t like the fact she raised their personal income taxes and implemented a carbon tax (more taxes!!).

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Free enterprise, today, tomorrow, forever

Of these, the me-first conservatives are the most troubling because they know exactly who they’re getting in bed with but are prepared to do it anyway to increase their bank accounts.

The consequences

By supporting Kenney, the me-first conservatives give the knuckle draggers license to oppress women, minorities and the LBGTQ community under the guise of free speech or whatever hokey justification they come up with.

This is a serious concern given that hate crimes are rising in Alberta.

Worry not, the UCP has a solution.  It will implement the Security Infrastructure Program which provides matching grants of up to $100,000 to install alarm systems, fencing, CCTVs, etc on buildings owned by religious and ethno-cultural groups.  The provincial SIP will be modeled on “a similar program Jason Kenney helped establish at the federal level.”

There’s just one tiny snag. If the provincial SIP program models the federal SIP program it will include a “no stacking” provision that prohibits a group that’s already received a SIP grant from applying for another one from any level of goveernment.  The federal SIP has been around since 2009 so there’s a good chance many Alberta groups that could benefit from the federal SIP have already done so.  This means they won’t be eligible for the UCP program and the UCP commitment to address hate crimes is nothing more than window dressing.

Instead of duplicating the federal SIP, provincial tax dollars would be better spent funding the NDP’s Hate Crimes Commission and Provincial Hate Crimes Unit which provide outreach, support and education to stop or reduce hate crimes instead of turning religious and ethno-cultural buildings into bunkers.

Victims

The me-first conservatives say there’s nothing more Notley could have done on the pipeline file.  They know she’s increased pipeline support across Canada from 40% to 70%.  They like her short term (production curtailment), medium term (crude by rail) and long term (pipeline) energy strategy and her plan to diversify the energy sector and the rest of the economy.

However, by throwing their support to Kenney they’re allowing his paranoid victim narrative to take root.

This is unhealthy.

Many sensible Albertans believe Canada hates us and is using the equalization formula (that Kenney helped design) to suck us dry.   They’re with Kenney when he says if Canada doesn’t put Alberta back to its rightful place as the “natural and historic” leader of the country, we’re leaving.

Before we flounce out the door, let’s put Kenney’s “Alberta’s place in Canada” argument into perspective.

In 2017 Alberta had 11.6% of Canada’s population, its share of Canada’s GDP was 15.5%.  Ontario had 38.3% of the population and 38.6% of Canada’s GDP (almost three times as much as Alberta).  Quebec had 23.2% of the population and 19.5% of Canada’s GDP.

The oil and gas sector was not the top contributing sector to Canada’s GDP.  The mining, quarrying, oil and gas extraction sector was third, surpassed by real estate, rental, leasing and manufacturing.

Given the size and heft of the competition, Notley is punching well above her weight and it’s highly unlikely that Kenney will do any better by throwing temper tantrums and filing lawsuits.

Conspiracy theories

Lastly, the me-first conservatives have let the conspiracy theorists run wild.  Yes, some Americans are donating to American NGOs which support Canadian NGOs.  But no one has connected the dots all the way back to American energy companies who are supposedly trying to kill the Canadian energy sector.  In fact, many of these companies work in both the Canadian and American energy sectors.  Kenney is asking us to believe they’d cut off their noses to spite their faces.

Conspiracies theories are the last refuge of desperate people who can’t explain a complex situation.  It is unfortunate that the me-first conservatives would perpetuate a hoax to shave a few points off their personal income tax rates.

(You’ll notice we didn’t talk about the “brand name” conservatives.  They’re oblivious to everything including the me-first conservatives).

A few last words  

Notley will govern for all Albertans, not just those in the high income tax brackets.  Her record supports her words.

Kenney’s words have created fear and loathing within Alberta.  A UCP government will exacerbate the divisions he’s created in his bid for power.

Me-first conservatives need to think carefully about their choices and ask themselves whether a few extra bucks in the bank are worth the political and social upheaval a UCP government will bring to the province.

Hopefully, when they look at their ballots they’ll take the advice of my favourite drag queen Bianca Del Rio, and say “Not today Satan.”*

*No, I’m not suggesting Kenney is Satan.  I don’t believe in Satan.  I just like the way Bianca says it. 

Posted in Economy, Energy & Natural Resources, Politics and Government, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 19 Comments

Don’t Look Away

We’re on the cusp of the election and many moderate conservatives still don’t know who they’ll support.  Will they ignore the allegations of vote tampering in the UCP leadership race and the slate of unfit candidates stacking up “25 deep” to support Jason Kenney or will they follow the lead of life long conservatives like Denny Hay, three-time Canadian Champion Saddle Bronc Rider, and support Rachel Notley.

The conservatives’ main sticking point is the economy.

Kenney says he’ll freeze spending and balance the budget in 2022/23.

Notley says Kenney’s “freeze” is actually a cut of 13-14% when you factor in inflation and population growth; she says she’ll continue to invest in public services and balance the budget one year later in 2023/24.

Notley explained her rationale at a recent rally in three little words:  Don’t look away.

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One will look away, the other won’t

She refuses to look away when 44,000 children slip back into poverty, 15,000 children have no teachers, women can’t access their legal right to choose and the LBGTQ community is marginalized.

She refuses to look away when our seniors can’t afford their meds, universal healthcare is replaced by credit card healthcare and Alberta’s GHG emissions go through the roof.

If conservatives support Kenney they must look away because he’s convinced them that “in order to be a compassionate, caring society, we must be prosperous first.”

But they’ve been duped.  Kenney is proposing a false dilemma.  He’s offering an either/or choice.  Either compassion or prosperity but not both.

Notley is offering a third alternative—compassion and prosperity with a balanced budget one year later.  There’s no need to sacrifice public services on the road to prosperity.

And that’s what this election is really about.

Moderate conservatives have a choice.  They can look away while a sketchy premier slashes public services to achieve balance in 2022/23 or they can vote with compassion and wait an extra year to balance the budget.   Is the extra year worth it?

Yes, for anyone who believes compassion is not contingent on the size of their bank account.

Anyone with the courage not to look away.

Posted in Economics, Education, Energy & Natural Resources, Environment, General Health Care, Politics and Government, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 35 Comments

The Day Jason Kenney Edited the UCP Policy Document…

The UCP policy document opens with a letter from Jason Kenney which cribs Ronald Reagan’s well known question, “Are you better off today than you were four years ago?”

Kenney’s answer is no, and he lists a number of reasons why it’s time for a change.

The “time for a change” pitch is classic political rhetoric, Kenney can be forgiven for borrowing it, however we can’t forgive him for revamping the UCP policy document from top to bottom.

When asked about the revamp, Kenney replied Pffft! It was nothing, he’d only made some minor edits, nothing substantive had changed.

Really?

Who birthed them?

Take a look at page 8 where Kenney sets out the story of how the UCP was created.

Kenney

The Leader of the Free Enterprise Party

Originally Kenney said the UCP was “born of the province-wide conservative unity movement [which] was created specifically for this purpose [of doing better than the NDP].”

Well, that’s certainly what we thought at the time, however in the revised document Kenney changed the story of who birthed them by saying the UCP was a party “born of the province-wide free enterprise unity movement, it is a broad coalition reflecting today’s Alberta that seeks to create a new Alberta Advantage.”

“Free enterprise” is an economic system not a political one, where businesses are free from government control.  Synonyms for “free enterprise” include laissez-faire economy, market economy and private enterprise.  Who birthed the UCP?  Apparently, the U of C Economics Department.

Kenney holds the pen so he can do whatever he wants, but one wonders whether the Albertans who voted to merge the Wildrose and PC parties into a united conservative party to defeat Notley’s NDP were aware they would soon be members of a group loosely organized around laissez-faire economic principles, not true blue conservative ones.

We all know what conservatism looks like, but do we, or more importantly, does Jason Kenney know what “free enterprise-ism” looks like?

The UCP policy document is no help, in fact it’s a dog’s breakfast of everything from conspiracy theories to fun with numbers (yes, math is hard).

The free enterprise party policy

A free enterprise economic system demands small government and little to no regulatory oversight.  Businesses sink or swim based on their own merits.

In fairness, the UCP policy document achieves the free enterpriser’s dream in a number of places.  It calls for a reduction of red tape so more decisions can be made without regulatory oversight, and increased privatization in education and health care, the privatization of parts of the public service, and so on.

But it also abandons the sink or swim philosophy and promises to interfere in the business sector, big time.

Picking winners and losers

The UCP outlines a number of interventions in the energy sector.

It will pressure Enbridge and TCPL to restart Northern Gateway and Energy East pipelines (who cares if the pipeline companies have committed their people and financial resources elsewhere, the government knows best).

It will adopt the “Kvisle report” which suggests the government should intervene in natural gas markets  to prop up sagging natural gas prices.  Intervention could take the form of royalty and investment credits to natural gas producers, meddling with complex commercial arrangements, becoming a shipper on a pipeline, providing financial backstops to smaller companies that can’t afford to sign up for long term shipping contracts, trying to influence pipeline tolling principles (this is dangerous given the toll impacts the company’s financial structure and credit ratings) and maybe even buying a stake in BC’s LNG plant.

The UCP doesn’t appear to understand that raising the price of natural gas will hurt the petrochemical companies it wants to support under the Petrochemical Diversification Program’s system of royalty tax credits—petrochemical companies use natural gas for feedstock, the cheaper the better.

The UCP will intervene in all NEB hearings affecting Alberta oil and gas interests;  someone should tell them that most NEB hearings have a group of producers in favour of the project and a group of producers (and sometime competitor pipelines) against it, how will the UCP decide who to support?

The UCP criticized the NDP for spending $3.7 billion on rail cars to help oil companies transport crude to market—that was interfering with the free market—but it has no problem picking winners and losers in the natural gas or petrochemicals sector;  it’s fine when it’s the UCP’s idea because the UCP is the free enterprise party…right?

Math is hard

Math is hard and statistics and accounting are even harder.

It’s unclear where UCP gets its statistics but there’s a disconnect in the stats in the old policy document and the revised version.

The old policy document reported a decline across 12 industry sectors, including a 61.3% decline in the “mining, quarrying and oil and gas extraction sector”.  The revised document deleted references to six of the original 12 industry sectors but reported the same level of decline.  Which set of statistics is wrong, the original set or the revised set?

For all its talk about balancing the budget in 2023, it’s hard to put any faith in the UCP’s claim that it will achieve balance without cutting front line services given the budget relies on a “plug” number ($48.8 billion) for operating expenses for the entire four year term and includes new UCP commitments but fails to account for inflation and population growth which is projected to increase costs by 13-14%.

The UCP says we can rely on its budget because Stokes Economics says it’s doable and Stokes advised the Saskatchewan Party in 2007 so they’re credible.  This is hardly reassuring given that the Saskatchewan Party tabled 10 budgets, six of which were deficits and resulted in hikes in the provincial sales tax and cuts in services.

Having said that I suppose we should be grateful Kenney revised the UCP policy document to say the UCP would engage a Blue Ribbon Committee “to recommend a path to balance” because neither Stokes nor the UCP have much credibility at this point.

Monsters under the bed

Question:  How many free enterprisers does it take to pull a monster out from under the bed?

Answer: None, free enterprisers don’t believe in monsters, but Jason Kenney does.

The UCP policy document reveals not one but three shadowy groups (excluding the Notley/Trudeau cabal) who are determined to bring Alberta to its knees; rest assured Kenney will sue each and every one of them.

First there’s the Vivian Krause conspiracy theory that foreign funded special interests are trying to landlock Alberta’s energy industry (even Ms Krause admits that she never tied her conspiracy back to “commercial interests”), then there’s the “well-funded special interests” attacking Alberta’s farmers and the “well-funded special interests” attacking Alberta’s forestry sector.

Kenney will roll all three sectors into his “fight back” strategy which will deploy a $30 million “war room” and millions more to pay for litigation to put these shadowy  characters in their place once and for all.  (Where’s the Green Lantern when you need him?)

The UCP policy document sets out some of the costs of the “fight back” strategy but fails to account for the time and money wasted by public servants overseeing stupid things like:

  • Setting up useless referendums to change the equalization formula
  • Trying to amend the Canadian Constitution to entrench property rights
  • Launching a public inquiry into foreign funding of anti-Alberta groups
  • Defunding Alberta charities that are anti-pipeline
  • Collecting information on anti-pipeline charities and trying to get Canada Revenue to delist them as charities
  • Trying to get energy companies to sue lord knows who for defamation
  • Fighting the Feds when Alberta “reclassifies” carriers currently under federal jurisdiction as carriers under provincial jurisdiction
  • Helping pro-pipeline First Nations sue the Feds over lack of consultation
  • Creating laws to keep foreign funding out of Alberta politics
  • Supporting a Senator’s bill (that’s federal, guys) banning foreign money from federal politics
  • Boycotting anti-pipeline banks and finding other lenders to replace them, and
  • Backing out of the $3.7B rail car deal and trying to avoid getting sued for breach of contract

To paraphrase another Ronald Reagan quote, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are ‘I am from the UCP government and I’m here to help”.

Is there no one who can save us from the UCP free enterprise party?

Oh, hello, Rachel!

Posted in Education, Energy & Natural Resources, General Health Care, Politics and Government | Tagged , , , | 23 Comments

GSAs…Here we go again

Last Thursday Mr and Ms Soapbox joined hundreds of Calgarians protesting Mr Kenney’s plan to out kids who join gay-straight alliances (GSAs) in schools.  The question on everyone’s mind was why would the man who says he’s fit to govern Alberta enact legislation that increases the risk of harm to LGBTQ2S kids?

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Getting ready to visit Doug Schweitzer

Since Mr Kenney wasn’t around to give us an answer, we gathered in front of UCP candidate Doug Schweitzer’s campaign office to see if he had anything to say.  The lights were off, there was nobody home—a fitting metaphor for Mr Schweitzer after his flip flop on this issue.

So, we turned to Mr Kenney’s statement as set out in the Alberta Hansard.

But first a little background.

History

The PC government passed Bill 10 which required schools to let students set up GSAs.  GSAs are clubs that provide a safe space for LGBTQ2S and straight kids to hang out.  They are not part of the school curriculum.  Remember that, it’s important.

The NDP were concerned that Bill 10 didn’t go far enough to protect students’ privacy and passed Bill 24 to ensure students had the right to form GSAs without fear of being outed.

Mr Kenney’s supporters, people like John Carpay, say GSAs are sex clubs which indoctrinate young people to deviant behavior and have launched a law suit to shut them down.

Notwithstanding Mr Carpay’s histrionics, Mr Kenney says he supports GSAs but (and it’s a big but) if he’s elected he’ll get rid of Bill 24 which prohibits schools from outing kids who join GSAs.

Bottom line, if Mr Kenney becomes premier, students who could benefit from belonging to a GSA will be afraid to join one, lest their teachers out them to their parents.  Mr Kenney effectively nipped GSAs in the bud.  Cunning, eh?

Kenny’s rationale

Mr Kenney says outings would be “very rare” but provides no evidence to back this up.  He says outings would only deal with “very young kids or kids with unique emotional and mental-health challenges”, this ignores the fact Bill 24 doesn’t stop schools from giving notice in these situations, all it does is ensure notification is not triggered simply because a kid joins a GSA.

Mr Kenney provided other reasons for ditching Bill 24 in a statement read on his behalf in the Legislature on Nov 15, 2017 when the Bill was under debate.

Unfortunately for Mr Kenney the arguments he raises in support of his position undermine it.

He starts by obfuscating the facts.  He pretends that voluntary membership in a school club is the same as participation in mandatory school curriculum and concludes Bill 24 violates the School Act which requires parental notification of curriculum and material which “include subject-matter that deals primarily and explicitly with religion or human sexuality”.  This assumes GSAs are mandatory courses and they deal explicitly with human sexuality.  They’re not.  They’re clubs that run bake sales, create posters, host events, invite guest speakers, and do a myriad of other things.  And—say it again with me—they are not part of the mandatory school curriculum, no notification is required and Kenney’s reference to the School Act is misleading and irrelevant.

Not content with distorting Alberta law Mr Kenney cites two global proclamations to bolster his position.

He says the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) states parents have the right to choose the kind of education given to their children.  Fine, but GSAs are clubs, they’re not part of the mandatory education curriculum so this argument doesn’t fly.

Digression:  Now that he raised it, I’d like to point out the Declaration is a precedent for other legislative changes:  it protects the right to a living wage (how about $15/hour?),  the right to create and join trade unions and the rights of mothers and children to special care (say for example, $25/day daycare?).  It also says these rights cannot be destroyed by the state (oh oh).

Mr Kenney then trots out the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1976) which says parents are free to ensure the religious and moral education of their children conforms with their own conviction.  He doesn’t mention the purpose of the International Covenant is to protect a person’s right to be free from coercion in thought, conscience and religion in the context of war, genocide, torture, and slavery.  The International Covenant does not apply to Bill 24 because kids are not coerced into joining a school club and their parents are not prevented from providing their kids with a religious and moral education that conforms to their own beliefs.  (GSAs may result in spirited discussions around the dinner table but that’s a good thing if parents want to raise kids who aren’t mindless robots).

Given Mr Kenney’s affinity for international declarations and conventions, it’s surprising (well, maybe not) that he overlooked the UNICEF Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) which states:

  • Everything a public or private institution does concerning children shall be done in the children’s best interests (it’s not in a student’s best interest to out them)
  • Children who are capable of forming their own views have the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting them (students say they don’t want to be outed)
  • Children have the right to freedom of expression, including the freedom to seek, receive and impart information of all kinds, and freedom of assembly, restricted only by a respect for the rights of others and the protection of national security, public order, public health or morals (students want to join GSAs)
  • Children have the right to legal protection against interference with their right of privacy and unlawful attacks on their honour and reputation (Bill 24 protects students’ privacy and should not be repealed)

Kenney’s only possible argument is one based on “morals” (3rd bullet), but he supports GSAs so he can’t possible consider them to be immoral, right?

The UN recognized an adult’s right to autonomy and self determination in 1948.  UNICEF recognized the same rights for children 41 years later.

Mr Kenney’s problem with Bill 24 is he’s 30 years behind the times (surprise) and still believes parental authority trumps kids’ rights to autonomy and privacy.

This is cruel considering the facts:  64% of LGBTQ2S students feel unsafe in their schools, the drop out rate for LGBTQ2S students is five times higher than straight students, LGBTQ2S students are three times more likely to attempt suicide than straight students, and one in three homeless youth in Canada are LGBTQ2S kids who are homelessness because they’ve rejected by their families.

RuPaul says

There’s only one response to Mr Kenney’s appalling performance on this file.  It comes from my favourite reality TV star RuPaul who dismisses drag queens who’ve lost the lip sync competition with a simple phrase…

…Sashay away, Mr Kenney, just sashay away.

Posted in Culture, Education, Politics and Government | Tagged , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Jason Kenney and the Pope

Is there a limitation period after which we can safely disregard a politician’s scary comments?

In 2000 Jason Kenney, then a 32 year old federal MP, gave a disturbing speech* at the St Joseph’s Community Catholic Home School Conference.  It’s disturbing because it foreshadows how Kenney will govern if he becomes Alberta’s next premier.

Brace yourselves.

The call to battle

Kenney starts by explaining how he was called to the Catholic Church at the tender age of 22.  He knew he had fight in “the Culture Wars”, an epic battle between “the culture of life” and “the culture of death” described by Pope John Paul II in the Evangelium Vitae as the moral decline caused by the legalization of contraception, abortion and euthanasian.

Kenney went to university in San Francisco—a place he says is also known as “Babylon by the Bay” or “Sodom by the Sea”—so he could better understand the forces of evil which were undermining the sanctity of human life, the sanctity of the family and the roots of order and civility in modern society.

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The man who fought the “culture of death”

He boasts about becoming the president of the pro-life society and helping to overturn the first gay spousal law in North America (thereby preventing gay men from being with their partners dying of AIDS).  The battle brought him closer to the heart of the Church.

Kenney says he resisted the call to the “political vocation” because he thought politics was intrinsically evil but changed his mind when he read what the Pope said in paragraph 64 of the Evangelium Vitae (it’s actually paragraph 90) which encourages the faithful to enter politics as an act of charity and fight for the “gospel of life.” Kenney says he felt like he’d been struck by lightning (did you catch the allusion to St Paul’s experience while on the road to Damascus) because he’d never thought of politics that way.  He ran as a federal MP in 1997 and everything that’s happened since then, including his role as co-chairman on the Parliamentary Pro-Life caucus, confirmed he was heading in the right direction.

Within a year of becoming an MP Kenney experienced first hand what the Pope described as international forces working at the heart of the UN to attack the sanctity of life and the “centrality of the nuclear family” by supporting a universal right to abortion, undermining parental authority and creating “perverse” anti-rights.  This “juggernaut” pushed the “culture of death” at UN Conventions like the Cairo Conference on Population and Development, the Beijing Conference on Women, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Habitat Convention on Housing (housing?).

Kenney said he wasn’t disposed to accept “anything that smacks of conspiracy theory” until he discovered the juggernaut’s agenda was funded by International Planned Parenthood, UNICEF, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Ford Foundation and the Pew Charitable Trust.

The Liberal government refused to send Kenney to the UN Convention in New York and he attended as an observer on his own dime by assuming a fake identity, that of a Mormon law prof because as he disingenuously explained, that was the only way he could get in.

He was shocked by the Canadian delegation which aggressively pushed an anti-family agenda and warned the audience this would lead to disastrous laws like the effort to criminalize “the reasonable use of force in disciplining children.”

Kenney encouraged the audience to fight this pernicious international agenda and accept the Pope’s call to engage in political action and become a light in this time of great darkness.

A pro-life politician would….

Kenney said under our parliamentary system 100% of the power flows through the prime minister’s or premier’s office.  A pro-life prime minister could appoint a pro-life Minister of External Affairs to send a pro-life delegation to UN Conferences and fight against the international right to abortion.  A pro-life, pro-family Justice Minister could appoint judges who’d interpret the Constitution narrowly and refrain from expanding human rights and freedoms.

He used the example of Stockwell Day to illustrate what a pro-life premier could do, noting that he and Day fought to end taxpayer funded abortions and gay adoptions.  Day also tried to protect traditional marriage by invoking the notwithstanding clause to stop same-sex marriage and to protect employers from the Vriend decision which prevents employers from firing employees because they’re gay.

Kenney closed his speech with a story about the time he was trying to get charitable status for a group advocating for chastity before marriage and a reporter asked him whether he practiced abstinence.  Kenney said the question was indiscrete and not relevant to his political duties.  The next day a newspaper headline blared “no sex please, we’re reformers.”  Kenney offered this story as a humorous anecdote about “a little crucifixion that some of us face.”  (Who but Jason Kenney would describe any experience, let alone this one, as “a little crucifixion”?)

Moral law vs civil law

In Evangelium Vitae Pope John Paul II sets out what a politician must do to ensure “the culture of life” defeats “the culture of death”.

The Pope starts with the premise that every human being has a right to life and Christians must promote and defend this right.  Contraception leads to immorality so it’s wrong right off the bat.

The Pope runs into a snag when he gets to abortion and euthanasia because the scriptures do not contain any “direct and explicit calls to protect human life at its very beginning, specifically life not yet born, and life nearing its end” (some of us might find that probative given that the scriptures are full of rules about what we can do and can not do) but never mind, the Pope says this can be “easily explained”; apparently the idea of abortion and euthanasia was completely foreign to the people who were around when the scriptures were written (they were “not touched by such temptations”) so the Pope fills in the blanks by reconfirming that abortion and euthanasia are a sin and no authority can allow or permit it.  Period.

Since abortion and euthanasia are crimes, not rights, the State cannot legally recognize them or “make them available through the free services of health-care personnel”.

Furthermore, the right to life cannot be questioned or denied by “parliamentary vote or the will of one part of the people—even if it is the majority” because the right to life is a moral law which trumps civil law and it’s a moral duty and a basic human right to refuse to take part in any injustice.

This is where Kenney the politician comes in.

The Pope says if a pro-abortion law has been passed and it’s impossible to overturn or completely abrogate, an elected official who’s made his opposition to the pro-abortion law known can support proposals that limit the harm done by such a law because this is a “legitimate and proper attempt to limit its evil aspects.”

Got that?

The Pope says it’s a moral law that abortion and euthanasia are evil.  Moral law trumps civil law.  Civil laws that are impossible to overturn or abrogate (like the decriminalization of abortion and medically assisted dying which flow from federal not provincial law) must be gutted by provincial politicians who can limit access to abortion and medically assisted dying by defunding such programs.  Anyone who engages in this behavior has the Pope’s blessing.

Is Kenney really going to defund abortions and medically assisted dying?

You bet he will.  Kenney accepted the Pope’s call to battle in the Culture Wars decades ago, the Culture Wars are still raging as we learned when Kenney and his caucus boycotted the debate on expanding the bubble zone around abortion clinics.

Albertans may think this election is about which candidate is best able to “fix the economy”, but it’s really about which candidate will implement civil laws that respect the will of the people and which candidate will implement “moral laws” dictated from on high.

One can only hope Albertans will choose wisely.

* Jason Kenney’s Speech

Posted in General Health Care, Law, Politics and Government | Tagged , , , , , , | 40 Comments

A Little Story About Character

Sometimes it’s the little stories that move us.

Last week Mr and Ms Soapbox attended a fundraiser for Rachel Notley.  It was hosted by a group of Calgary lawyers at a swanky downtown restaurant.  Lawyers, business people and representatives from the non-profit sector chatted over appetizers and wine.

During the mix-and-mingle part we talked with people who said yes times were tough, no they hadn’t seen the slump coming, yes Rachel had done a remarkable job under trying circumstances and no there’s nothing Jason Kenney could do that would make a difference (going to war with the Feds might convince his base he’s “doing something” but churning up fear and loathing is not a successful long term strategy).

At these events it’s usually Rachel, not the person who introduces her, who sticks in your mind, but this time it was slightly different.

A little story

Rachel was introduced by a soft spoken lawyer named Carsten Jensen.  Mr Jensen is a well respected litigator with an international reputation which includes a stint at the United Nations Compensation Commission in Geneva where he settled compensation claims arising from Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait.

He and Rachel have a shared history.  They both grew up in small towns in northern Alberta, both went away to university in Toronto and both became lawyers who pursued dramatically different career paths.

There’s another difference:  Mr Jensen is gay.  He said it wasn’t easy growing up gay in small-town Alberta, but he believed life would be better when he moved to the big city.  He was wrong.  His roommate threw him out when he found out Carsten was gay.  Rachel invited Carsten to move in with her, he accepted and stayed for a year.

jason-kenney-rachel-notley-sondage-chef-populaire

Who has the character to lead Alberta?

Let’s pause there to consider another little story about someone’s university days.  This one is told by Jason Kenney.

When Jason Kenney was in university in San Francisco, he campaigned to prevent gay men from visiting their partners who were hospitalized and dying of AIDS; ensuring that many who were shunned by their families would die alone.  We know this story because Mr Kenney told us about it in a speech he gave as a young federal MP.  He proudly referred to this episode as a “battle” that brought him “closer to the heart of the Church in the spiritual sense.”

When no one is watching

Coach and former basketball player John Wooden said, “…the true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.”

When no one was watching, Rachel Notley reached out to a gay friend in a time of need.  When no one was watching, Jason Kenney participated in a cruel campaign to make sure same-sex couples were deprived of the hospital visitation and bereavement rights straight couples enjoy and later described his act in words reserved for piety.

The premier of Alberta has the power to implement sweeping social policies that ease suffering and bring peace of mind to Albertans or turn their lives into unmitigated misery.

Which leader should become the next premier of Alberta?  The one who reaches out to her gay friend when no one is watching or the one who boasts about doing everything he can to ensure gay men die alone.

NOTE TO READERS: Ms Soapbox is out of town to celebrate the life of a friend.  It was while thinking about that life that she remembered the power of “little stories”.

Posted in Culture, Politics and Government | Tagged , , , | 68 Comments