Monday, 24 March 2008

Day By Day

I have embedded the cartoon strip Day By Day, by Chris Muir at the bottom of the page. The strip is updated each day. It is a current and fresh look at American politics divided between left and right. More importantly it is about how much alike the characters are despite their politcal differences.

Friday, 21 March 2008

No More Open Spaces..Thank you Minister Morton

Hunting is a traditional form of recreation and means of adding to the larder of many Crowsnest Pass residents. With that Minister Ted Morton's proposal (Open Spaces) to create what amounted to paid hunting on private ranches met with unanimous disapproval with hunters from the Pass and province wide. The fear was we were moving to the European model that allows only those with wealth and privilege to hunt and that private landowners would be able to profit on elk herds that belong to the public.

Surprisingly the ranching and farming community was not in favour of the proposal either. This past week I attended the convention of rural municipalities (AAMDC) the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties in Edmonton. On Wednesday March 19th an emergent resolution was brought forward from the Counties of Warner and Cardston to add the AAMDC's voice to that of the Alberta Fish and Game Association denouncing the Open Spaces proposal and to lobby the province to the end of stopping the proposal. After a very good debate the members of AAMDC did pass the resolution quite handily.

Just a short time after the resolution session a bear pit session ensued with a dozen or so cabinet ministers, Ted Morton included. Answering a question from a young women the Minister of SRD announced that the portion of the policy that opened up private land to profit hunting would not go ahead. Mr. Morton showed that he does listen to Albertans and that he is the right person for this ministry.

Saturday, 15 March 2008

Coal Mining, Prostitution, and Morality

Seventy two years after the very first mines act was legislated in the United Kingdom, Crowsnest Pass earned the horrific distinction of being home to the worst coal mining disaster in Canada when the Hillcrest mine exploded, violently stealing the lives of 189 men on June 19, 1914. Mining companies, society, and governments still had not learned.

Coal mining in the UK has been carried out for centuries. In the early 19th century the industry employed over 200,000 men, women and children. In the years 1820 - 1842 there are 78 coal mining disasters listed. Disasters that killed more than 5 persons each. Nathalie Bourdenet states in this article that 4,000 people a year were killed in the mines. Many of whom, of course, are women and children. The mining industry, society, and governments had determined coal miners were a class of people undeserving of protection. Following an explosion that killed 11 young girls and 15 young boys in 1838 society finally pushed government into acting and a member of parliament, Lord Ashley, had parliament set up a royal commission to look into children's employment in the mines.

Upon the reports completion Lord Ashley, in 1842, brings a draft piece of legislation that will become the first mines act in the United Kingdom. The act was no great leap into increased mine safety. The act's primary accomplishment was to stop the employment of boys under 10 years old and females in the mine. It was, however, significant in that it created the springboard that over the next few decades would serve to increase safe mining practices. Did Lord Ashley garner support for his legislation by regaling his peers with reports of the horrifying and violent manner in which these young coal miners were being killed in order to win their support for his mines act? No. Lord Ashley appealed to their prudish sense of Victorian morality.
In the West Riding, it appears, girls are almost universally employed as trappers and hurriers, in common with boys. The girls are of all ages from 7 to 21. They commonly worked quite naked down to the waist, and are dressed- as far as they are dressed at all- in a loose pair of trousers. These are seldom whole on either sex. In many of the collieries, whom these girls serve, work perfectly naked.
Near Huddersfield the sub-commissionner examined a female child. He says, ’I could not have believed that I should have found human nature so degraded ’. Mr Holroyd, and Mr Brook, a surgeon, confessed, that although within a few miles, they could not have believed such a system of unchristian cruelty could have existed. ’Speaking of one of the girls’ , he says, ’She stood shivering before me from cold. The rug that hung about her waist was as black as coal, and saturated with water, the drippings of the roof’ .’In a pit near New Mills’ , says the sub-commissionner, ’the chain passing high up between the lgs of two girls, had worn large holes in their trousers. Any sight more disgustingly indecent or revolting can scarcely be imagined than these girls at work. No brothel can beat it’.
Lord Ashley was smart enough to know the only way to get his act passed was to count on that strong sense of Victorian morality, talking of the young women he stated ’an immoral conduct which made girls unsuitable for marriage and unfit to be mothers’. His leadership began the reversal of society's belief that coal miners were a class of people undeserving of protection.

Our country needs that type of leadership now. We all know the horrifying details of the 20 or more girls and young women viciously murdered by Robert Pickton. I am sure most are aware of young women and girls disappearing from Edmonton, only to be found murdered in some field outside that city since 1989 and the fact that charges have finally been laid against Thomas Svelka for the murder of two of them. Where is our sense of outrage? Why isn't society demanding our government establish measures to insure more of these poor young women are not preyed upon by such dangerous predators as Pickton? Why isn't our federal government swiftly moving to protect these young women and girls? Why? Because these poor young women were prostitutes. A class of people society (and obviously our federal government) has determined are undeserving of our protection.

In Vancouver sex trade workers banded together in hopes of protecting themselves with the creation of a co-op brothel. The brothel will take young women off the streets and offer them a safe controlled environment in which for them to work. The city and the province sees the benefit and should be applauded for their support. Having passed that hurdle the group needs an exemption from the federal government as brothels are illegal (while prostitution isn't). The Conservative government has said they are unlikely to give their support as is it may perpetuate the idea that prostitution is acceptable. What perverse sense of morality supports the belief that it is better young girls are violently murdered rather than act to protect them? It is long past the time that we accept the fact that prostitution has always existed will likely exist for evermore. It is time our governments implement measures for the protection of these people. Failure to do so is simply immoral! These girls deserve the same protection as any other worker. Where is these girl's Lord Ashley?

Monday, 10 March 2008

Island Lake

Whereas: We believe a diversion of Crowsnest Creek by the Canadian Pacific Railway has had a detrimental effect on Island Lake located in the west end of the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass.
Therefore be it resolved that the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass request the provincial Departments of Sustainable Resource Development and Alberta Environment together with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans conduct a study on the causes of Island Lake's degenerating health to the end of finding a solution to the rejuvenation of Island Lake.

The above resolution was passed unanimously by Council at our last meeting. After discussions with individuals in SRD and DFO I believed it was the best start to finding the solution to Island Lake's ill health. Many of us in Crowsnest Pass will be looking forward to their reply. The Hillcrest Fish and Game Association has been working for a very long time to get recognition of the problem and a solution to it. The Crowsnest Conservation Society has also expressed interest in working to a resolve on this issue. I am sure with the voices of the Fish and Game Club, and the Conservation Society, we will get the province to hear our combined concerns.

Post Script:
In my earlier post on Island Lake I stated that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans had approved the diversion of the creek. I was told that by one who would be in the know. Subsequently I found that may or may not be true. DFO may not have made the ruling on the diversion. The Alberta Department of Environment may have been the agency granting approval. Of course who approved it is not at issue. The issue is a mistake has unwittingly been made now lets get to work to correct it.

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Municipal Interest

I have to thank Alderman Bill Given of the City of Grande Prairie for alerting me to the municipal blogoshpere. I have included links to Bill's blog, as well as a councilor from Peace River, Leslie Ayre-Jaschke. The links to their blogs and the Muni Blog link should prove beneficial to those interested in municipal politics.

Calgary City council has initiated a very interesting pilot policy regarding municipal purchasing, the Sustainable Environmental and Ethical Procurement Policy. I learned of it in an editorial written by Randy Rudolph in this morning's Calgary Herald. The purchasing policy gives weight in the bidding process to environmental and ethical considerations. The bottom line is, there are good reasons to pay a higher price for goods and services to insure the protection of the environment, workers rights, and ability to earn a living wage. It is definitely a policy who's time has come. Be sure to read the editorial.

This story was clipped from the Vancouver Sun. This interesting policy the mayor of a small town in France has initiated should at least entertain everyone. Crowsnest Pass council, I am sure, will not entertain such a policy. We will let people pass on with dignity...............I hope. It should be noted the mayor is over 70 himself and is seeking re-election. Guess he hasn't learned the secret of political success. That all those residents of the graveyard are potential voters!

Thursday, 6 March 2008

Public Hearing Date Turtle Mountain Restricted Development Area

The public hearing and subsequent 2nd and 3rd reading of the landuse amendment to have the Turtle Mountain area zoned direct control will take place April 1 2008.

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Turtle Mountain Restricted Development Area

In 1903 over 70 people, living in the town of Frank, were killed in North America's Largest landslide when Turtle Mountain fell creating what is known now as the Frank Slide. Local lore says one day the mountain will fall again. Many locals have always believed that but just as many doubt that it will happen. Well upon the 100th anniversary of the slide, then premier, Ralph Klein announced he would spend over one million dollars for state of the art monitoring equipment to determine the amount of movement in the mountain and to provide a warning system to prevent such a tragedy, as happened in 1903, should the mountain fall once more.

The Alberta Energy and Utilities Board is responsible for monitoring the mountain and well over a year ago Corey Froese made a presentation to Crowsnest Pass council on the status of Turtle Mountain. Council was told that, yes, Turtle Mountain will fall again. He could not tell us when. It could be in a year. It could be in a few hundred years but it will fall. The monitioring equipment is sophisticated enough to provide weeks of advance warning of a slide. So danger to life is minimal. With the advance warning there will be more than enough time to evacuate any people in the area.

Land, of course, can not be moved and houses can only be moved with great difficulty. This prompted council to place a temporary moratorium on rezoning, subdivision and development in the potential runout area of a future slide path. The move created a great deal of angst with the residents currently living in the potential slide zone.

While council is still pushing the province for a risk assesment of the area in order that a long term plan for the area can be created council has come up with a better short term solution for those residents living in the shadow of Turtle mountain and last night passed first reading of a land use amendment creating a direct control zoning for the area. You can view a copy of the bylaw here. The land use amendment will put control of this zone in the hands of council and will allow residents to build structures such as garages, sheds, and other out buildings as well as repair or replace buildings damaged by natural or man made causes. Residents will be able to apply for new residential structures and additions to current structures. Second and third readings of the bylaw will be decided on after a public hearing on the land use amendment. The public hearing and subsequent readings of the bylaw should take place in Crowsnest Pass council chambers on March 25. With many hearings scheduled it is possible that the hearing could take place on April 1st. When I get confirmation as to the hearing date I will post it here.

Monday, 3 March 2008

Congratulations to Steady Eddie

Well its over and I am sure there are an awful lot of surprised people tonight. Not because the Conservatives won another majority but at the size of it. A landslide in an election where for the most part everyone (including me) was feeling the PC's would get a majority of around 50 seats. At this time (around 11PM) Ed has reduced his opposition to just 10 seats. Simply put its incredible. Paul Hinman has lost. Liberals down to eight and the NDP cut in half down to 2. Congratulations Premier Stelmach on winning the right to form your new government.
We are seeing continuity in the provincial government and here in Crowsnest Pass that is good news. We have established good working relationships with many cabinet ministers in the past government and those relationships will continue to help in addressing long term solutions to creating a new sustainable economy here in Crowsnest. We have been successful so far in getting progressive movement on issues that have held back the Pass for a number of years. Alberta Transportation is starting to see our concerns with Highway 3. Alberta Sustainable Resource Development has recognized our twin needs of protecting wildlife habitat and insuring we are able to acquire the land we will need for our continued growth. We will not have to start all over again getting new politicians on side with our needs here in Crowsnest. I am hopeful that Ted Morton will retain his cabinet position as Minister of SRD. He has proven to be a Minister with a passion for the difficult portfolio and has been a great ally for our concerns here in Crowsnest Pass.

Well the answer I asked in the poll has been answered. Contrary to the results of the poll, Albertans were not ready for change. Poll results: PC 6, NDP 10, Liberal 11, Green 10, Wildrose Alliance 11

Sunday, 2 March 2008

Election Eve

Well the most boring campaign in my memory has all but concluded in Alberta. The campaigning here in Crowsnest Pass has been all but non-existent and I would presume from what I am reading around the province the campaigns have been similar in most rural ridings. The thrust of the campaign was geared toward the bigger centres with most announcements being made for the benefit of urban dwellers in the large cities. I believe it is not by accident that the PC's ran quiet campaigns out in the hinterlands. The campaign strategy of the PC's is definitely geared toward keeping the people opposing the current government at home secure in the belief that while they may want change there really is no point in voting for any other party. We are going to see, I am sure, the lowest voter turnout Crowsnest Pass and our province has ever seen.

Still that is no excuse not to exercise your democratic right to vote for the party or person of your choice. It is the only way that democracy works. You have to show the politicians what you are thinking. Don't count on the research polls to speak for you. This link probably spells out the reality on polling. The link is Rick Mercer's take on research polls. Take the few minutes tomorrow to register your vote. Remember if you don't think there is anyone worth voting for you can let everyone know by going, registering, then refusing your ballot. That is the legitimate form of a protest vote.