I must be getting soft in my old age; I actually liked what I saw in the throne speech that kicked off the 2014 legislative session.
Further evidence: I disagree with the criticisms of both the NDP and the Wildrose party leaders, which were made following the speech.
The main problems faced by Alberta are not about balancing the budget, or how much the premier spends on plane flights, or the various definitions of debt. The main challenge our province faces is in dealing with growth.
It’s been repeated for a long time, by a variety of pundits: Alberta adds population roughly equivalent to a city the size of Red Deer, every year.
I’ll bet very few Canadians know (or care) about the Manning Networking Conference that occurred in Ottawa over the weekend. But the value of networking couldn’t have been better expressed by the agreement announced there regarding the Canada Jobs Grant.
Some important deadlines needed to be met here: the Labour Market Agreements (LMAs) that currently take federal money to fund employment training programs in the provinces all expire on March 31.
The provinces seemed to be happy with their LMA programs and probably would have quickly signed on for another round of the same. But the feds and a lot of business groups were not happy. The disconnect is most visible in Alberta and Saskatchewan, where unemployment is not the problem. Lack of skills in the labour force for the jobs available is. And for reasons not explained, LMAs haven’t been filling the gap.
Consider: 2013 was a weak year for job growth in Canada. It was the weakest since 2009, actually — and that was during the so-called Great Recession.
Frankly, I was more than a little surprised by Millard MacDonald’s comments in Wednesday’s Advocate, asserting that the links between mental illness, addictions and homelessness cannot be addressed by Housing First.
MacDonald is co-ordinator of Berachah Place, a safe zone for street people where they can spend their daytime hours keeping warm, getting a shower and their laundry done — generally getting off the streets between finding meals at other charities, and finding a bed at a shelter that night.
Berachah is an important link in the network of charities that keeps the vast majority of us from having to walk past homeless people sitting on doorsteps or sidewalks all day, asking us for handouts.
Berachah — like all the city’s shelters, mat programs, soup kitchens, clothing recyclers and (importantly) Housing First — is a part of what keeps Red Deer from having to actually confront the faces of the drug industry, mental illness and extreme family breakdown in our city.
So, how are your Olympics going so far? Has the Canadian Olympic Committee advertising convinced you that we are, indeed, Winter? On the whole, when it’s -30, I’d rather be Spring.
I am sort of partial to the Canadian Tire Official Olympic Children’s Choir singing We All Play for Canada. But the more I hear it, the more it begins to sound like the Pink Floyd song Another Brick in the Wall, or the Rolling Stones’ You Can’t Always Get What You Want.
Now that the thought has been planted in your head, I defy you not to think about it every time the ad is played on TV. Which will be often.
Just as the cost of running the Winter Games ($54 billion and rising), goes up each time around, the carping when the product falls short of the ideal also increases.
It’s too easy to say that foreigners (particularly Americans) don’t understand Canada. I’d say that to understand our culture, you just have to appreciate our brand of satire.
So American writer Gary Shteyngart has nothing to apologize for when he said that Canadian literature is too beholden to cultural granting bodies to be able to create truly original stories.
It’s not easy to be original when your livelihood ultimately depends on policy made by the prime minister’s office.
This year, we support a vibrant CanLit community; next year, maybe 10 per cent less.