Governing by form letter.

One would think that the nine opportunistic floor crossers who betrayed their constituents would at least stand up and try to explain themselves in their own words.

In thinking that, one is in for some disappointment yet again. The “Wildrose 9” have either sunk into cowardly hiding or at best have purchased ad space in local papers where they have cut and pasted a form letter with talking points from their new Progressive Conservative masters and then vanished.

It has been said many times how the treacherous, self-serving move by Danielle Smith and her handful of caucus mates has been an affront to democracy and that is utterly true. Look how poorly their constituents are now being served. The “Wildrose 9” are now nothing more than a legislative joke. They hold no leverage any longer and Prentice will not expend any more political capital on them. These short sighted fools are now to be relegated to the back benches and will only speak or communicate as ordered as we can see in the lame form letters that they obediently released.

Yes, opposition MLAs have limits on their influence at times. The nine MLAs who defected in pursuit of power used to have individual voices at least and could openly speak up for their constituents.

As can be seen in their sad little letters, the “Wildrose 9” will no longer speak for their constituents. They will bark as the trained seals that they have become and will only communicate what they have been told to by their Progressive Conservative Party superiors.

Simply sad.

haleandersonHale and Anderson changed little other than the name at the top and bottom of their assigned form letters.

Gary Bikman posted his assigned form letter on Facebook here. It is easier to read this way in the literal sense but still stomach turning in it’s callow supplication to their new communications masters.

Portions of this letter are appearing in regional papers and in digital communications from the 9 Wildrose opportunists and it gives a good indication of what to expect from these shallow MLAs in the future. They will simply follow orders.

I can’t wait to see Danielle Smith stand in the legislature to toss a scripted, puffball question to Prentice as she will be ordered to do. Will she be able to retain that standard smile of hers or will some shame be showing through?

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Leaked email demonstrates hypocritical MLA flip-flop

bikmanWildrose floorcrosser Gary Bikman never really stood out over his years in the legislature aside from the time when he wrote “shill” on a piece of paper regarding a stance taken by Speaker Zwozdesky at the time and held it up in the house. It is an ironic picture considering the shilling that Bikman is doing today.

A supporter of Bikman’s had sent an email encouraging him to cross the floor on December 10th of this year. Bikman wrote a lengthy reply and then copied the document to the entire caucus on the 11th as can be seen below.

—–Original Message—–
From: Gary Bikman [mailto:*******]
Sent: Thursday, December 11, 2014 6:37 AM
To: Bruce Rowe; Jason Hale; Shayne Saskiw; Jeff Wilson; Rod Fox; Heather Forsyth; Pat Stier; Drew Barnes; Rick Strankman; Rob Anderson; Danielle Smith; Bruce McAllister; Blake Pedersen
Cc: Dave Yager;
Subject: A recent letter encouraging crossing, & my reply

Good morning, y’all:

I hope you had a good evening of R,R&R – release, relief & relaxation – last night. It’s been a challenging two month and we’ve come through a lot together. With emphasis on “together.”

I know we’ll have an interesting discussion in caucus as we prepare for a well earned and much deserved break.

I hope you’ll take the time to read this letter (email) I received from a personal friend and fan, giving me advice he thinks I need to consider – and my reply.

During our break we need to be thinking about how we’ll prepare for the next general election. Drew, Steve & I have been discussing this and have some ideas we think can play a significant role in helping assure the desired outcome.

It’s going to take a strategic, integrated plan.

We’ll mention it briefly today in Caucus and then want to hold a full day session in Calgary on Feb 5th.

Regards,

Gary

The entire letter Gary received and his lengthy response can be downloaded from the link below.

Gary Bikman’s Letter December 11

As we all know, less than a week after penning this letter Gary Bikman joined Danielle Smith and seven other MLAs in what is now becoming Alberta’s most infamous act of political betrayal in history in crossing the floor.

Bikman has listed his excuses on his facebook page here on December 17th.

I want to clip out some quotes to highlight Bikman’s profound hypocrisy below.

Bikman Dec 11: “One party rule breeds waste, bureaucratic lard, and deeply entrenched sense of entitlement; herd mentality well, lemming-like whipped votes, where MLAs can only speak up in caucus about their constituents issues and then, in some cases they’re told by the premier or whip, and I quote, “Sit down & shut up now, (name withheld) – we’ve heard from the bible belt, now let’s do what’s best for Calgary & Edmonton.”

It appears that within a few days Bikman decided to become a lemming.

Bikman Dec 17: “But Jim Prentice has changed that. He is the right leader in the right place for the right time and I am going to spend the remainder of my career in politics (however short or long that is) to help him implement the very principles and ideas I feel Alberta so desperately needs.”

Yes, apparently Prentice changed all that in a mere six day

Bikman Dec 11 on why he must not cross: Free votes in the Legislature; the right of recall; a return to regional heath boards, with real power to save.  When abolished and merged into the central organization, Chinook Health Region was the most cost effective deliverer of health care and had the best measurable outcomes.”

None of those things were promised in the merger aside from lip service to free votes on matters of conscience which has to be seen to be believed.

Bikman Dec 11: As good as Prentice is, it’s time for that kind of fiscal accountability in Alberta and it won’t be possible to fully achieve with the system of bureaucratic bulk, deep sense of entitlement and the same team that endorsed Ed & then Alison as they misstepped us through 17 billion dollars of sustainability – rainy day – funds.

I hope I can count on your support to help a new broom get elected to sweep clean.”

I don’t recall that team that Bikman so despised having disappeared over the last week.

I think I have quoted enough. The letter is here for download if one has the stomach to read the rest of the gut wrenching hypocrisy coming from Gary Bikman mere days before he chose to abandon his constituents.

The only difference between Bikman and the other floor crossers is the lack of any recent letters laying out their hypocrisy so recently.

The bottom line as this letter clearly demonstrates is that the current lame justifications coming from the opportunistic MLAs who crossed the floor to try and save their seats are little more than hypocritical bullshit.

I look forward to seeing the “Wildrose Nine” joining the unemployment line as they go down in history as little more than hypocritical opportunists who got outplayed by an unprincipled Premier.

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Staff laid off and hit hard by Danielle Smith’s opportunism

layoff

Anybody who has spent much time around any legislative body has seen them. People, usually young, scurrying around in ill-fitting suits with lopsided ID badges who are often quite overworked and underpaid. This is the staffer-class in politics. These people are often recent poli-sci graduates or folks who got hired by the party in reward for years of hard work and volunteering. The jobs really don’t pay very well and are notoriously unstable due to political conditions.

Most staffers understand that they are always just one election away from potential unemployment. Staffers can at least prepare to a degree and take their unemployment in stride after an election.

This week’s events were unlike an election. Danielle Smith and 8 other opportunists abandoned their constituents and party members when they negotiated a secret deal and joined the party across the floor. What has been forgotten is that bevy of young staff members who were caught flat footed and now face unemployment at Christmas time.

Last night a female staffer was escorted from the offices while others had to pack her things. More of this will clearly be coming and many who haven’t been fired yet sit in frightened limbo.

Let’s be clear, the Prentice government does not want these staffers. These were loyal partisans to the Wildrose and the Progressive Conservatives don’t want them suddenly accessing their party databases. These staffers will be toast and the reduced Wildrose caucus simply doesn’t have the resources to keep them.

Not everybody is as heartless and self-serving as Danielle Smith thankfully. A fund was set up last night to at least soften the blow to these victims of political treachery and as of this posting it is over $7,000 already.

People from across the political spectrum are pitching in as even former NDP Leader Brian Mason has donated $500 along with a myriad of both smaller and larger donations.

Please consider tossing a few dollars in to help the young families hurt here. We have just witnessed a case of the worst political betrayal in Alberta history. Let’s end the year with a little Christmas magic to show that not all of us are as heartless as some of our political representatives appear to be.

 

CLICK HERE TO CONTRIBUTE

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Stay out of my phone!

WarrantCANADIAN CHARTER OF RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS

8. Everyone has the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure.

Yesterday in a split decision the Supreme Court of Canada made a ruling that sets a terrible precedent. Police officers may now search a person’s phone with no need for a warrant. This is a gross violation of our rights to privacy and leaves all citizens potentially exposed to abuses from law enforcement officers.

Phones today are essentially personal computers that are often packed with sensitive and personal information about their owners. This ruling indicates that some of our Supreme Court justices do not understand modern phones and view them as simply communication devices for talking and texting. Giving police the authority to search our phones without a warrant is akin to letting police search through our mail and file cabinets at home based simply on any suspicion that the officer wants to cook up to justify the search.

I understand that the majority of law enforcement officers are good people who would not abuse this authority. It has to be understood though that the majority is not good enough. That is why we have charter rights and protections from unlawful search and seizure.

Just today an article was written about a violent scumbag on the Edmonton Police Service named Mike Wasylyshen who despite a criminal assault conviction and numerous other offences just got a promotion to sergeant. Wasylyshen beat a man on crutches outside of an Edmonton bar and threatened to burn the victim’s house down with family in it. Wasylyshen tasered an unconscious 16 year old boy 8 times and then beat the boy with the taser itself knocking out one of the boy’s teeth. This lowlife cop also wilfully deceived a justice of the peace to wrongfully obtain a search warrant.

Why would an officer so clearly violent and corrupt still even be a part of the service? Oh, did I mention that Mike Wasylyshen’s father used to be the Chief of the Edmonton Police Service?

Now in light of that, would you want somebody like Wasylyshen rooting through your personal information on your phone? Do you feel comfortable that the sole discretion to choose such searches lands on the shoulders of men like  Wasylyshen? I am sure he is not the only bad cop out there and the Edmonton Police Service is not the only one that protects people like him.

Of course supplicants to big government love to say “What have you got to hide?” I will say this right now, none of your G-D damned business! I shouldn’t have to explain why I don’t want somebody to arbitrarily search through my personal files, communications and pictures.

I will indulge and lay out some scenarios anyway. Do I want a cop reading my personal communications with my wife? What if it is a small town and I have communications with my mistress? Will the cop remain discreet? What if my mistress is the cop’s wife? How bad will the beating be? What if he posts the picture of me restrained while wearing lederhosen and being pummeled with handfuls of lime jello tossed by a hired gang of circus midgets wearing assorted lingerie to my facebook profile?

OK, I am making light but my point is that the number of things that a person may keep on their phone that they may want to keep private is endless. There may be sensitive business dealings or there may be things that may be considered less than moral but perfectly legal. All of these could get a person blackmailed, bankrupted or simply humiliated if in the wrong hands.

There indeed are situations where the search of a person’s phone may be required in a criminal investigation. I contend that the need is not so pressing that it has to be done on the spot based on the arbitrary choice of a police officer though. A phone can be held and the need for a search can be demonstrated to a judge as a warrant is pursued. This oversight is important!

I have seen some people saying “Well, you should password protect your phone!”. For one thing, I expect police can find and be provided means to bypass passwords. For another thing, I simply should not have to. Sure, it is wise to password protect. If I choose not to though, it does not mean I deserve to have my privacy violated. A woman shouldn’t walk in dark alleys when wearing suggestive clothing but she still does not deserve to be raped if she makes such a poor choice.

Rights get eroded most effectively in increments. This story is sliding under the radar and people need to pay attention because our rights just got eroded by a large increment here!

The only party that has spoken up on this ruling that I can find so far is the Libertarian Party of Canada. Alas, they have no MPs at this time. Contact your MP folks and demand that this erosion of our rights be corrected as soon as possible.

You may be the next person Mike Wasylyshen pulls over when he is in a bad mood.

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Quit peeking over the fence!

fenceAs I have grown and matured, I have learned a few lessons (still lots of maturing and learning to go). I am going to share one thing that has greatly reduced stress in general in my life and I hope that many learn to take this one to heart.

QUIT WORRYING ABOUT WHAT OTHER PEOPLE DO!

Before school I envied the toys of others. In elementary school I got outraged thinking some kids got preferential treatment from teachers. In high school I thought it was unfair how some guys got the girl of my fancy while I did not. In my first few years in the working world I constantly stressed over which co-workers made more money than me or had what I perceived to be better positions or roles within the company.

It took me some years but I have learned to stop caring what others have or do as long as it doesn’t impact me. I must say, this has been one of the most relaxing revelations of my life.

kids

In this last week folks on both the right and the left have been acting as fools as they fret about things people do that have utterly no impact on them at all.

The debate on gay straight alliances has really brought out more intolerance than I imagined still exists. The comments on my blog post just prior to this one were disappointing to say the least. If people have different sexual orientations why do some other people care? Really, how the hell does it hurt you? Why do some folks fret and lose sleep at night because some same sex couple is happy together? Nobody is forcing you to be gay (nobody could), in fact nobody is forcing you to do anything so why so bothered?

To the indignant social conservatives who are getting ulcers over same-sex relationships I say get over it! Quit looking over the fence and quite worrying about it. People being gay isn’t impacting you a bit but your working yourself into a lather over it is bad for you. If you would just quit worrying about what others are doing, just imagine how much extra time you could dedicate to your own activities.

Now I sure as hell am not giving the left a pass here. The left loves to fret about the possessions of others despite it not impacting them at all. The left thrives on the politics of envy and they lose sleep at night wondering what in life happens outside of what their perception of “fair” is. The bitching about the lifestyles of the “rich” truly is intellectual sloth at it’s finest as of course the effort taken to get to this “rich” position is always overlooked. The contributions to society through mass taxation, philanthropy and the employment of others is overlooked as the left whines about a shiny bauble that another may have.

A new gated community is opening in Calgary and the collective short-dick whining from people over this is disgusting. Even city Councilor Gian-Carlo Carra got in on the action saying that people moving into such a community are participating in a “douche move”.

Yes, the commentary loaded with the obtuse politics of envy on this new community is sad indeed. How does it hurt you when people spend their own money choosing a gated community? Do you really think that the world will be better if all these “rich” were dragged down to your economic station in life? I assure you it has been tried many times and failed so why go this route? Look up North Korea if you don’t believe me.

Get over it and stop peeking over the fiscal fence! Either aspire to that financial status and get to work or just relax and get comfortable where you are. Berating the successful is morally worse than the supposed greed that the successful practice as it means that you want all of their possessions but are too lazy to do what it takes to get there.

Reduce the stress and quit worrying over what others have or do. It is not your concern and you are only hurting yourself in spending time on it.

Will close with the great Joe Jackson 80s ballad on the futility of envy.

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Gay Straight Alliances. Yes, we need them.

In watching the debates continue over legislation regarding gay straight alliances in schools I am seeing heels digging in for no good damn reason on this issue. These alliances are essentially social clubs for kids and it is rather unfortunate that we have hit the point where government needs to (but still won’t), legislate to protect the rights of kids to form these very important groups in schools.

Just in my lifetime we have come a long way towards a more healthy and inclusive society but in seeing some of the discussions with gay straight alliances I see we still have a long way to go.

People need to learn to try and walk a mile in the shoes of others here. Bullying in school in general can be brutally damaging to who stand out from the norm and it is even more of a problem with gay kids who are just coming to grips with who they are.

schoolFor most of my schooling I was in the public system. I did spend part of my education in an all boys English style preparatory school. I won’t single out my old school here but posted that pic from the film Scent of a Woman as my school was very similar to the one in that movie and it brought many memories back when I watched it. We however were never allowed to keep our hair that long and had to be much more discrete with our smoking.

I will get to the point here. In those types of boarding schools in the 80s (and for generations prior), bullying was literally a part of the fabric of the institutions and it was openly encouraged by the administration. The prefects were encouraged to bully non-prefects. Non-prefects were encouraged to bully the juniors and so on. This was all done in the name of tradition. The masters in the school endured the chain of bullying when they went to school so by damn we should endure it too. The intent was to toughen kids up and turn them to men. The reality was lives of utter misery with no escape for kids who didn’t fit in with the majority.

A common response from a master to any complaint of bullying was along the lines of “We are preparing you boys for Ivy League and Yale has no use for pussies!”. Kids can be ruthless an in that environment of encouragement from authority figures it was simply brutal. I remember one poor soul who got caught masturbating. His nickname immediately became “Jack” and even the masters eventually started referring to him as such. To this day I can’t even remember the kid’s real name though I do remember the hypocrisy of it all considering that 90% of us were self-abusing at any moment alone we could find. All the same, if the arrows of taunting and humiliation were pointing elsewhere we were relieved and let them keep flying.

There was one kid who went through utter hell on earth in that school and I really don’t know how he survived it. He truly was on the bottom of the pecking order for the entire school. Dean’s father was an ambassador. Due to this Dean was raised overseas by an endless series of nannies and tutors. This left Dean with utterly no social development and when he arrived at my school at the age of 15 he had the maturity level of an 8 year old in many ways.

I remember our school orientation like it was yesterday. I was among 60 terrified new kids seated in a room in this new environment wondering what life was going to be like and adjusting to the reality that we wouldn’t be home for months. The Housemaster was explaining how we had socials with an all girls school (closely monitored of course) and how dances were held.

Dean felt compelled to speak up in his unfortunately awkward and nasal voice.

Dean: “Excuse me, Mr…..”

Housemaster: “You shall address me and all masters as sir young man!”

Dean: “Yes sir. Excuse me sir, but at these socials do we have to dance with girls because I hate girls.”

The room went silent in shock initially and then of course broke out in hysteric laughter. Even in not knowing how things were in those schools yet, I was thinking to myself “This poor bugger is dead.”

I don’t think Dean was gay though perhaps he was. I think Dean gave the sort of answer one would expect of an eight year old boy. Either way, Dean never had a chance and he was immediately the school “fag” from day one.

Dean’s misery was brutal to behold. He ate alone, he had spare time alone and whenever he was in the company of others he was invariably taunted or beaten. I didn’t indulge in the abuse of Dean as he just seemed to be taking enough as it is. I didn’t stand up for him either and I was no angel. I took part in bullying many kids in order to mask my own insecurities. I just couldn’t pick on poor Dean.

Dean survived until Christmas and when flying back out to school from home I found myself seated next to Dean on the plane. Nobody was looking so I socialized with the poor guy. He showed me his prized GI Joe collection. I tried gently to explain that perhaps he may want to be more discrete with those hobbies at that school and at his age but it was lost on him. Dean had no concept on what may help him fit in a little better.

Our time on the plane passed and we got to school. Starved for a friend and after our having bonded in a way on the plane coupled with the fact that I laid off him generally at school led to Dean latching on to me. I was mortified. While I was not involved in the abuse of Dean, I couldn’t be seen hanging out with him. I soon had to rebuke him in a public way and taunted him to keep him away. The poor kid had it rough enough and had the rejection of somebody he hoped could be his friend to add to things for him.

I am still quite ashamed of my behavior to this day.

Now after that rambling I want to tie this into the importance of these gay straight alliances. These kinds of clubs bring different kids together and this is the only thing that will lead to ending the abuse and ostracism that kids deal with. Gay kids need support and kids supporting gay kids need support. With alliances, kids are united rather than divided. A person can be supportive of different kids and not feel that they have to hide and bury their heads in the sand as I did as a kid.

It is the nature of bringing different kids together that makes these alliances so important. Having religious or cultural clubs or say simply a gay group can be a fine thing but they are exclusive by nature. In an alliance kids can gain strength, get to know those who are different and learn why it simply is unacceptable to bully and abuse kids for these differences.

I was fortunate in that I landed roughly in the middle of the popularity scale at my school. Not Mr. Popular but not among the outcasts either. I took moderate bullying and found it awful. It is unimaginable how it must have been for the kids such as Dean who had no escape or social circle to join and feel a sense of belonging. By law of averages, we must have had at the very least a dozen gay kids in my school. There was no way any of them could have considered coming out, they literally would have been hounded right out of the institution. Groups such as GSAs would give a sanctuary and perhaps give cowards such as myself more guts to stand up for others.

How many damaged people have been put into society from these broken social systems? How many suicides or crises came about later in life for people due to these awful school experiences? The only beneficiaries are therapists.

Gay straight alliances are important social clubs and they infringe upon the rights of nobody. Even if a religious school has to allow these alliances, it bloody well is no infringement on their religion. They don’t have to join the clubs (but they damn well have to allow them).

It is astounding that Prentice has created this Bill 10 that essentially changes nothing. If a school or board refuses an alliance, a kid has to then appeal? A troubled young gay person has to organize and stand before a hostile board to appeal for the right to simply form a supporting club??? Kiss my ass Prentice. I can see the politics of stealing the thunder from the Liberals by legislating gay straight alliances (sad that it even has to be legislated), but to undercut with this garbage in Bill 10 is simply repugnant.

Most of us fondly look back on our school years as a period where we grew and discovered. We had stresses and we had pleasures. We made friends and we loved, lost and loved again. Many people however look back on their school years as a terrible period that still haunts them today. Everybody should be able to enjoy those formative years and it will take initiatives such as gay straight alliances in order to aid in that goal.

Things are a world better than they were at my school in 1986 but in light of the fact that we need to actually legislate supportive clubs for kids in schools it is pretty clear that we still have a way to go yet in our evolution as a society. Let’s quit pissing around with this and protect kid’s rights to form these critical alliances.

 

 

 

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