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The Misericordia – Spackle & Paint

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Last year’s flood at the Mis which closed one floor and spilled down into a few retail shops in the main lobby.

If the Legislature were in the same shape as west Edmonton’s Misericordia hospital, we’d probably have a new catalyst project for downtown, along with cranky government minister’s with leaky office ceilings. 45 years-old, built when West Edmonton Mall was still a field; the Mis was at the city’s edge, whereas its location now at 87th and 170th street, puts it in the heart of west Edmonton, easily accessible and along the Valley LRT line.

These days the Mis is known for its “leaky pipes, broken elevators, and makeshift ICUs”. A flood in mid-2013 closed a floor and spilled down into the main lobby. Labs and the ICU are subject to rain delays and snow melt. Elevators are frequently down for maintenance, and patient amenities are older than a number of adult patients.

As Edmonton media have pointed out (as have NDP and Wildrose MLAs over this legislative session), the facility was due to be replaced in 2008, until those plans were scrapped.

Fred Horne misleading Albertans over aging Misericordia, NDP says – CBC News

“I think I’ve been very open with Albertans and Edmontonians, in question period and through the media, that we’re well aware of the issues at the Misericordia,” he said.

Questions on this during question period, like most, don’t receive much of an answer, or at least one that’s of any use to west-end residents. The same goes for quotes from a health minister who may know of the issues, but might perhaps want to spend an evening in the ICU during a rain storm.

Meanwhile nothing is certain beyond more money being spent to squeeze every last bit of life out of a building on life support. And of course the question I’ll have for candidates at the first Edm-Meadowlark election forum.

What will come First?

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A pothole in the parking lot that nearly ate my care last summer. Just posting it because parking isn’t cheap. The surrounding neighbourhood of West Meadowlark has had to look into a residential parking program due to parasitic parking.
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The view out over the STARS helipad, and a couple hospital visitors.
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The television in my dad’s room at the Misericordia last year. Like me, another product of the 80s.

 

State of Democracy

EDMONTON—In findings that should disturb every politician across the country, a series of new national surveys suggest record numbers of Canadians are fed up with the state of our democracy.

Worse for elected leaders, more and more Canadians believe that politicians, regardless of their party affiliation, don’t listen to them, don’t care about the issues that really concern them and aren’t willing to act to preserve and improve our democratic institutions and traditions.

Only 17 per cent of Canadians trust Parliament and only 10 per cent trust political parties.

Read the rest @ TheStar.ca

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I can’t find myself disagreeing with the results of any of the referenced studies. Anyway, I’ve hacked out some thoughts..bit of a rant on the subject of engagement, good governance and political involvement.

 

“Neuman told the delegates that growing numbers of Canadians are disillusioned with elected officials and have now turned to supporting grassroots citizen actions, such as the last fall’s Occupy Movement, the B.C. referendum on the HST and this summer’s Quebec student protests, as a way to make their voices heard.”

 

It’s pretty simple at the end of the day:

No un-returned phone calls.

No unanswered letters.

No letters advising you “to be cautious as to how you approach future communications as your comments could be upsetting to some individuals. This could delay the decision on a new school”.

No party whips, and party leaders, and party agendas to wade through.

And no bureaucratic and political hills to climb and barriers to entry, that have been built up to the point of inaccessibility for the average person.

 

These are things that don’t exist in any successful and inclusive grassroots & community movement. And for the average person who wants to be an engaged citizen, who wants to be involved and have say – these require the strength in numbers of grassroots organization to overcome.

It’s why I joined a community league. To advocate on behalf of my community with like-minded individuals, in way we could never, ever, do on our own. It’s the reason Edmonton’s community league movement was built, to provide citizens with the ability to positively affect the growth of a city in which the voice of the individual was increasingly being drowned out.

As for other levels of government….

In the provincial legislature, my community is represented by an MLA who was thrown out of government caucus for bluntly laying out the state and management of health care in Alberta. Party came first, and a decision was made behind closed doors. against our constituency, our MLA, without any consultation. And yet their smiles were warm and friendly when they came to ask for our support in 2012.

Federally, my riding is represented by an MP who is chronically disengaged, and often unreachable. What accessibility to government and policy can there be for an individual or small-group when even a simple discussion can’t be had, or an inquiry answered?

Of course Canadians feel disengaged, unheard and detached from government. Time during the day is short, our lives are hectic, and we have little tolerance for spending precious free time talking to a wall or wading through rhetoric.

But if we want something more than a depressingly low voter turnout, policy developed in a vacuum, and partisan sniping, then folks need to find the time and fortitude to go out and demand it. It’s the only way we’re going to cultivate future leaders with the will and desire to make their time in government as demanding one them and their colleagues as possible, by initiating engagement, transparency and citizen participation from the top-down.

Thoughts on Opportunity

I joined the Alberta Party this month, a first step in helping to establish a presence for the party in my backyard, Edm-Meadowlark.  In my search for a political home, It’s also the third provincial party I’ve held a membership in.

I’ve never voted for a PC candidate, although Raj Sherman would have been the first had he not been forced to pay a price for honesty, for laying out in detail what every patient and family member who’s suffered through the mismanaged state of our public health system already knows.  Health Care is the topic of the hour, a literal life and death concern for thousands of Albertans, patients and families, and the latest highlighted chapter in a saga which has included such things as access to information, energy royalties, land-owner rights, high-voltage/high-price transmission lines, long-term savings, enough debatable policy choices to seemingly keep a caucus of opposition MLA’s and their staff busy occupied for an entire term and in the spotlight through the next election.  Instead the opposition continues to struggle to deliver a coherent, stable public message, or impact public policy, meanwhile a single Doctor, sitting as an independent in the legislature, has seemingly done more to highlight, analyze, and explain the health care debate over the last several months, than the government and three opposition parties combined have done in the last several years.

As a center-left Albertan, I’ve parked my vote in three elections.  Twice on one party, and most recently on the couch alongside 60% of my fellow eligible voters.  I’ve voted under the cloud of an almost predestined spot in Alberta’s opposition, I’ve done so expecting that while my values and beliefs wouldn’t be mirrored in Alberta’s governance, the members of the opposition would watch, analyze, lobby, and collaborate with their colleagues on each side of the Legislature to ensure Albertans receive the best in public policy. I expect the opposition to be the watch dog, the public/community and devils advocate, and that the resources afforded to them will be used for more than policy development, and rallying on the steps of the leg, but to tell us all the who, what, where, when and why of our governments actions in more than media sound-bites.  I’ve apparently expected too much.  The recent vote by our government against providing digital access to the members Public Disclosure Statements, in frustration, was a tipping point for me. Sound-bites are talk, useful in question period and a media but scrum, but ultimately cheap and easy.  Criticizing the government for a lack of transparency was easy, instead using the resources available to a party, collecting and self publishing Disclosure Statements which are publicly accessible, if not readily available, for all elected members of the legislature would have been leadership, transparency, and a public service all in one.

It’s time for change.  If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, the case study is an ongoing “battle” for a percent of a percent of eligible voters who cast a ballot.  It’s sound-bites, and ‘tactics’ that have continually failed to engage Albertans in the issues which directly affect them, that fail to provide either transparency or a meaningful opportunity for public involvement, meanwhile cooperation between parties seemingly lies somewhere in the space between political sniping, no-way-in-hell, and the hole in the hull of David Swann’s term as Liberal Leader.

As an Albertan, I want more.  From my party I want more than memories of past victories shielding the lessons to be learned from past defeats, the wants and whims of established donors hindering new initiatives, and fleeting political opportunism. From my province, I want my MLA, regardless of his/her party and place in the Leg to have a voice and a meaningful vote on public policy and legislation.  I want transparency that doesn’t involve a battle through FOIP legislation.  I want my representative to vote with his heart and head, not under the glare of the party whip.  I want cooperation and change to be cause of honest debate, not backstabbing dissension.

It’s easy to attack a party in it’s infancy, it’s also easy to recognize that the AP is opportunity, certainly a formational one that my generation has never had.  Regardless of where it’s future takes it, I’m thankful for the opportunity for my province and the efforts of those who have brought it this far.

I’m not a Liberal supporter in Blue & Gold clothing.  There’s no checklist of items to put my support behind a Liberal or NDP banner.  I’ve voted for the best option available to me in a broken, bickering, Alberta Government.  With a moderate, active voice for change, free to advocate, collaborate, and learn from the past without rose-colored glasses, free to reach out and be inclusive to all Albertans without a divisive past or ideology, finally at the table, I’m excited to see a future that doesn’t mirror a broken past on the horizon.