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Readers Advocate

When audits work like a weapon, they’re a weapon

I’ve been active in various charities for a lot of years, in a variety of capacities from street-level volunteer to board president. Some of those charities do what some people would call “political activity.”

If you advocate for the poor and disabled, or seek changes to government policy, that’s “political activity.” The base level of democracy is to raise issues and present a case on questions upon which you and I vote. Who better to present a case, than the non-profits who work in the areas concerned?

We happen to live in an era when governments don’t like that. An effective way to get the advocacy arm of a charity to “shut the hell up” is to starve them of resources.

If you’re the federal government, you do that by tasking an arms-length agency, like the Canada Revenue Agency, to find a way to have your federal charitable licence number revoked. No licence number, no ability to issue tax-deductible charitable receipts to donors, no fundraising — no advocacy.

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To ease traffic pain, use other means

As a cyclist — and also as a motorist — there are few things I like better than fresh, new asphalt.

Especially riding, when you hit a stretch of new pavement, it feels like glass and you (almost) feel sorry for those fellow commuters who insist on riding knobby tires designed for dirt tracks, on perfectly-paved streets.

But of course, to achieve perfection, you have to tear up the imperfect. And there’s a whole lot of tearing-up going on in Red Deer right now.

When the city engaged street work on Gaetz Avenue, both north and south, closed 55th Street entirely, and restricted Taylor Drive for the entire summer, you can be forgiven if you think the flashing signs saying “Use Alternative Route” is more like a practical joke than practical advice.

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Making it all add up

Whenever the education experts (including media pundits), government bureaucrats and parents would all line up to bemoan the latest international test scores of Alberta students — and then proceed to blame the teachers for them — I would always tell myself how glad I was that my kids were safely out of school.

And then I started having grandchildren. Does this mean I have to be invested in the next round of the “new math” debate, all over again? I guess so.

Here’s a question from an international Grade 8 level math test: Find 1/3 minus 1/4.

Four possible answers below the question are presented to test whether the student knows the method to finding the answer, which is 4 minus 3 over 3 times 4 (that’s 1/12 in the old math I was taught).

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Wellness Foundation can’t deal with what kills us

Does Alberta need another arms-length or autonomous foundation, funded by a dedicated tax levy, to convince us that better lifestyle choices can lead to better health?

Apparently many of us do. An informal coalition of communities and organizations representing fully a million Albertans is asking the provincial government to create a new foundation that would fund wellness initiatives around the province.

It’s easy enough to get those kind of numbers if you ask municipalities to join your cause. It’s not like Red Deer city council, for instance, would be using any of its own money to promote this initiative. So last week’s decision to join the coalition doesn’t come with much of a downside.

Quite the opposite. The upside potential for the city is huge, considering what is spent here by the city and partner organizations dealing with the outfall of illnesses and conditions that better lifestyle choices can easily prevent.

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