Monday 16 April 2012

Could things go too far?

At 5.35 PM, April 16 this post had a number of names redacted at the request of those named. While their names are removed, I think you will still get the gist of gravity of the situation.


The Alberta election has been getting very heated as the Wildrose continues to be a strong opponent to the governing Progressive Conservatives.  On Twitter the #abvote hashtag stream has become a minefield of a constant barrage of attacks. The attacks on Wildrose and its' supporters are getting more and more vicious.

I've been called "homophobic"; ironic since I have a bisexual daughter. I even stated that - yet the attacks continued.  I've been called "racist"; also ironic since I'm married to a man who is part native.

In fact he too recently had an interaction with Pat Walsh. Pat was very briefly employed by the Wildrose. He has since gone back to the PC's. He was Rick Orman's co-campaign manager, is a strong supporter and very active in the current campaign.  After trying to debate issues, Pat was clearly losing ground, so he shot this out at Cory "Shouldn't you be in a tanning booth?".

Cory and I have been around long enough that we let a lot of this crap slide. When we meet with people and discuss issues, things like sexual orientation and skin color have zero impact on our perspective or how we receive their view of issues.

There comes a point though when things can be carried too far. That point is when people may be fearful for their well being. Some might say "that's crazy, something like that will never happen in Alberta".

Well, I certainly hope it won't, but posts like the following from NAME REDACTED on Facebook do put up some red flags for me. This is what a Registered nurse in Alberta has to say about Danielle Smith:

.....someone pushes her onto the LRT tracks, or she gets caught in gangland crossfire (these are my dreams, don't take them away from me)

Picture deleted.

Some have commented on Twitter I shouldn't post a pic from Facebook, that it should be private. I'm not Facebook "friends" with those mentioned here, so that leads me to believe it is public and/or they have their settings set to public. All the same, I've agreed to removed the screen snaps.

You can still however see it here and here.

She posted that on NAME (TWIT # 1)  REDACTED  page yesterday and I waited until today, to see if  NAME (TWIT # 1)  REDACTED  would do the right thing and remove the comment. She hasn't.

If your curious as to who the two people who "liked" Michelle's comment, here they are.

Picture deleted.  

It's sad, ironic and hypocritical that many of those who "claim" the Wildrose and/or its' supporters to be full of hate seem to be doing a far better job at "actually" demonstrating they are not only hateful, but also appear to be okay with physical demise of individuals.

A reader has sent me note that both Michelle and   NAME (TWIT # 1) REDACTED   can be found on Twitter as well.

NAME (TWIT # 2) REDACTED  TWITTER REDACTED  (one hosting the horrible comments)

People who "like" and perhaps share Michelle's dream of seeing Danielle Smith hit by train or bullet.


h/t to 'tuned in' readers for the tips on Twitter accounts.

Interesting reaction:

And an apology.

Thank you Pat.

And an email demand:

I am demanding that you take my name off your site. There is absolutely no context to my "like"
I think the vast majority of people would agree that a "like" on Facebook, equates to agreeing with and supporting the post you have "liked". All the same in the interest of internet peace: Demand granted.

As of this afternoon   TWIT #2 REDACTED    has changed her Facebook settings so it is no longer public. All information contained in this blog were obtained late last night and first thing the morning of April 16 when it was still publicly available.

Sunday 15 April 2012

John Barlow and the PC's, More Questions than Answers on Child Support

Last week I attended the all candidates’ forum in Okotoks for the constituency of Highwood. There were the typical questions one might expect about healthcare, education and some very specific to the local issues, like water and land use.

One of the questions though, I thought was a bit odd. I don’t have the exact wording for it as I haven’t been able to find any video or transcript coverage of the forum.  The gist of it was, ‘there are issues with “Maintenance Enforcement” what would you (candidates) do to address this’.

Now my understanding of Maintenance Enforcement is that it has made great strides in terms of collecting support payments, though probably not perfect. So I was very interested in hearing what the candidates had to say.

John Barlow, the Progressive Conservative (PC) candidate started by saying he has been hearing about this a LOT at the doors. I found this a bit odd. I’ve run three times in recent years and not once has this issue come up. I’ve also door knocked Highwood extensively in another provincial campaign and it never came up then either. All the same, I will take his word on it that this has somehow become a major issue in Highwood.

John Barlow went onto explain how child support payments can be very burdensome on those paying. He explained how if the paying parent makes more money, their payments are adjusted upwards as well. He said this can be a disincentive for people to excel or succeed in their careers. If I recall correctly he also stated there should be “caps” on the maximum that would be required to be paid by the supporting parent.

As someone who has both received and paid child support; I found his comments absolutely absurd. The intent of child support is to provide the children with financial position they would have normally benefitted from if the marriage had remained intact. We can look to the Act for the exact wording:

Objectives1. The objectives of these Guidelines are
·         (a) to establish a fair standard of support for children that ensures that they continue to benefit from the financial means of both spouses after separation;
·         (b) to reduce conflict and tension between spouses by making the calculation of child support orders more objective;
·         (c) to improve the efficiency of the legal process by giving courts and spouses guidance in setting the levels of child support orders and encouraging settlement; and
·         (d) to ensure consistent treatment of spouses and children who are in similar circumstances.

I don’t know of any parent who would deny their children any support they are able to provide. The guidelines are regularly reviewed to ensure they are in keeping with economic realities and that the children are receiving proper support. Indeed, that is exactly why it’s a sliding scale based on income. Also I’ve yet to meet anyone who has refused better paying employment or a career opportunity because it would mean paying more child support.

On April 11 asked John Barlow to expand on his comments. I reminded him on April 13. I know the candidates are busy; all the same I tried to illicit a response from him again today.  He has yet to respond.

Where does Mr. Barlow think the cap should be set? Should a parent who makes 120 K per year be paying child support at the same rate as someone making 60 K? 

I also wonder how he sees the Alberta Maintenance Enforcement Program which is Provincially administered, being involved in setting the rates, which as I understand it are Federal jurisdiction.  

Lastly, what does Premier Alison Redford think of his stance on this issue? Will this be pursued by the Progressive Conservatives? 

I will keep you posted if I ever receive a response from Mr. Barlow. 

Friday 6 April 2012

Party Policy vs Platform vs Legislation

During an election it can be challenging to know where every party stands on any given issue. What makes this even more convoluted is trying to distinguish between party policy, platform and what might one day be legislation.

Let’s start with “party policy”. Virtually every party has a “party policy document”. These are created by the members. Generally once per year a policy convention (or sometimes an AGM) is held, where members bring forth policy items. They are debated and either defeated or passed. If passed they become part of the party document. It is an ever evolving document.

For example you can see the Alberta Party member policies in detail here by selecting individual .pdfs.
The entire Wildrose Party policy document here.

I will gladly link to all parties’ member policies if they provide me a link.

The sad reality about member policy it can be very nit-picky and every person with a small voice wants to put their brand on it. Another reality is some of it will get to the “platform” level and very little of it will get to the “legislation” level.

“Platform” comes in a couple of forms. During non-election time this is best represented by the opposition caucus websites. Caucus derives their direction from member policy. They don’t necessarily take it verbatim and they are selective in what they will pursue. As elected representatives we entrust them to focus on the ones of most concern to ALL Albertans, not just the members of the party.

I can only show you a cached version of an opposition caucus website as most are either taken down or redirected to campaign sites during an election.

This brings me to the second form of “platform”; the election platform. Again this can have some basis in the member policy, but more often than not it takes into consideration all Albertans. Leaders of parties, candidates, and their advisors take a great deal of time reviewing what they are hearing from Albertans and the feedback through letters, emails and phone calls. They take the time to see what aligns with member policy and what doesn’t. And frankly, if what they are hearing doesn’t align with member policy; the member policy won’t be pursued.

The election platform is basically a promise as to what you can expect from them; should they be elected as the governing party.

"Legislation", is what actually gets put forth to be passed into law. Just by the virtue of how much scrutiny policy and platform get put through, by the time it gets to being proposed as legislation, it should be pretty solid. But not always, as we have seen here in Alberta, some flawed bills can pass. It’s incredibly tedious, but you can see legislative history in the making by reading Hansard.

Where things can be horribly skewed is by the various opposing parties (and their supporters) and perhaps inadvertently by the media; cherry pick from the member policies and claim it is part of platform and therefore will be legislated.

During an election we can and should focus on two things; the party platforms and their past legislative actions. As the saying goes; “past performance is the best indicator of future”.