Thursday, April 27, 2006
We are Rebuilding Afghanistan.
I have read a few of my fellow bloggers recently who have said we are "at war." Canada is not at war. (At war with whom?) I wish to dispel this myth because I believe that it takes away from the good work we are doing in Afghanistan and around the world.
Taken directly from the websites of both Foreign Affairs and the Department of National Defence (Yes I know it is lazy but I am tired):
- Canada is making important diplomatic, defence and development contributions to the stabilization and reconstruction of Afghanistan.
- Canada is in Afghanistan today at the invitation of the Afghan government.
- Canada is in Afghanistan to defend our national interests; ensure Canadian leadership in world affairs; and help Afghanistan rebuild.
- Canada's work will build on a "whole-of-government approach." This includes the deployment of a Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT), followed by subsequent Canadian military deployments.
- Task Force Afghanistan’s mission is to improve the security situation in southern Afghanistan, and play a key role in the transition from the United States (US)-led multinational coalition (known as Operation ENDURING FREEDOM) to NATO leadership (scheduled for the summer of 2006).
- Canada’s renewed military commitment in Afghanistan builds on the success of our peace-support operations to strengthen the security situation.
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
A letter was read aloud to the House on Tuesday - a letter written by Lincoln Dinning, father of Cpl. Matthew Dinning, to the Prime Minister.
Mr. Dinning was hurt by Stephen Harper's decision not to lower the flag on the Peace Tower for Pte. Robert Costall when he was killed on March 29th, and he urged the Prime Minister to reconsider his decision.
"I would suggest to you that there is no more important VIP than a Canadian soldier who gave his life in the service of his country. Please correct this wrong and show that actions speak louder than words and lower the flag next time a Canadian soldier is killed."
Mr. Dinning wrote this letter just a couple of weeks before Cpl. Matthew Dinning was killed in Afghanistan. Who could have known he would be writing this letter for his own son?
Under military policy flags are flown at half mast at a fallen soldier's active post, their home unit/base and at National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa. In addition, all army units (dependant on the Soldier's branch of service) will fly their flags at half mast until the completion of the soldier's funeral.
Canadian Flags are currently being flown at half mast at the soldiers' home bases, at DND HQ, at other bases, at Canada Post Offices in Edmonton, at Toronto City Hall, at Alberta and Saskatchewan provincial buildings and all across Canada as private business owners and citizens seek to honour the fallen as heroes and to recognize their contributions.
The Prime Minister has directed that the Flag on the Peace Tower and the Flag at our Embassy in Washington not be lowered as they have been in the past. I will join my voice with Lincoln Dinning's in asking our Prime Minister to reconsider his decision in this matter.
Sunday, April 23, 2006
- Prime Minister Stephen Harper
But he won't lower the flag on the Peace Tower for them.
Obviously this angers me.
The excuse is that Paul Martin’s Liberals "broke with tradition" and decided to lower the flags on Parliament Hill when our soldiers died during the course of duty. Our Prime Minister now feels it is better NOT to lower the flag on the Peace Tower.
Argue it how you will, but it’s not a "return to a tradition". The decision to fly our flag at half mast is governed only by the Flag Etiquette directives from Canadian Heritage, where it stipulates:
"The flag on the Peace Tower of the Parliament Building at Ottawa is flown at half-mast: on the death of a Lieutenant Governor; on the death of a Canadian Privy Councillor, a Senator, or a Member of the House of Commons; on the death of a person whom it is desired to honour.
On the death of a person whom it is desired to honour.
The flags at the Department of National Defence and other Federal Buildings will fly at half mast.
Why does our Prime Minister not desire to honour them?
Saturday, April 22, 2006
I hate waking up to the voice on the radio when the news is about more of our soldier’s killed in Afghanistan. I always hold my breath while they list the names of the fallen - waiting to see if I know any of them. This time I didn’t. But it doesn’t matter if I knew them personally or not, their lives and their sacrifice mean something to me. They are Canadians.
(Richmond Hill, Ont, stationed in Petawawa)
Bombardier Myles Mansell
(Victoria, BC, stationed in Victoria)
Lieutenant William Turner
(Toronto, Ont, stationed in Edmonton)
Corporal Randy Payne
(Lahr, West Germany, stationed in Wainwright)
Friday, April 21, 2006
Well, not just anybody's Blog of the Week - I'm Daveberta's Blog of the Week. Thanks David, I'm going to celebrate (I suppose blogging would be a good start, eh? My apologies).
Check out the distinguished Daveberta Blog of the Week Alumni here.
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
Beautiful mornings like this often leave me wondering why the fates choose me over my brother to live and enjoy the gifts of the daily world. I am not in anyway very special or particularly more deserving than he was, yet I am the one who was left to smile when the sun hits my face. Some days it seems very unfair indeed, and there is both a guilt and a sense of duty associated with it.
I realize that lately I have been keeping my blog thoughts to myself – for many reasons: they may be too politically sensitive; too personal; too controversial; too boring, or perhaps I’ve just been too busy to blog. Truth be told all sorts of things are distracting me right now: PC Leadership Politics (rumours of at least two private citizens about to announce their bids for the leadership); Constituency Politics (My AGM is tomorrow and Mark Norris cancelled at the very last minute – but not before we spent 500.00 to advertise it); Our upcoming trip to Las Vegas (and Brett and Beatrice’s wedding); PLAYOFF HOCKEY (Go Flames Go!); finishing up university projects; kids medical problems (Wesley was diagnosed with Osgood-Schlatter`s Disease); and, among other mundane things, my dear Mother’s stubbornness (If you’re reading this Mom, know I mean that with utmost love).
Like Duncan said, at times life moves past the speed of Blog. Lately it is safe to say life has been moving pretty fast. Too fast perhaps? Not as long as I can manage it all - and there's always time for Plan B!
-Narrator, Dukes of Hazzard (2005)
Friday, April 14, 2006
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
An exceprt from the Princess Bride is floating around my head today:
Grandpa [narrating]: Nothing gave Buttercup as much pleasure as ordering Westley around.
Buttercup: Farm boy, polish my horse's saddle. I want to see my face shining in it by morning.
Westley: As you wish.
It's been a couple of weeks now since Mr. Manning announced he was musing a take over of a poltical party he isn't even a member of. He stated if people wanted him to do this that they should prove to him that the support was there before he decided - perhaps a smart move, but one that has had people falling all over themselves to convince him, but apparently to no avail.
He was rumoured to be announcing his decision today - but it has passed quietly without a Throne Speech to appease the eagerly waiting masses.
I mean how much does he want people to beg? How much are we supposed to stomach while he sits up high on his pretend throne waiting for us mere peasants to prostrate ourselves repeatedly at his holy feet?
Enough already. You either want it or not, make up your mind. My Party deserves more than this. Hell, Albertan's deserve more than this.
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
Today I received (for about the 80 millionth time) the "Penny Brown" email, from someone who has sent it to me before. This email has been circulating continuously since September 2001 and must be the longest living "missing child" hoax around. Hasn’t anyone noticed that Penny is perpetually 9 years old and has been "missing for two weeks" for about five years now?
With its origins in Calgary, Alberta (circa 2001), this hoax has evolved as people pass it along – different variants and spins have localized in Texas, Australia, Ohio, Singapore and California – and in 2003 some schmuck had the wherewithal to add the term "Amber Alert" to the subject line.
Credible missing child reports supply details like a full name and birthdate, the date and place that a child has gone missing, a description of the child and the clothes they were wearing when they were last seen, and height/weight, for example. They most certainly will contain contact information for local police forces who are involved in the search.
I hate all kinds of chain letters but ones about missing (or dying) children are definitely among the worst.
A quick internet search reveals that Penny Brown is not missing, nor is she the subject of an Amber Alert. Actually we don’t even know if Penny Brown is a real person!
If you receive this email DO NOT FORWARD IT. Break the chain. By using the "Reply All" function you can let everyone know that this is a hoax and ask them NOT to forward it on as well. To quote Bryant Harper at Code Amber, they have "enough to do looking for children that are really missing."
Sunday, April 09, 2006
Private William Johnstone Milne, of the 16th Battalion Canadian Scottish Regiment (Canadian Expeditionary Force) was awarded the Victoria Cross (posthumously) for gallantry during the Battle of Vimy Ridge many years ago. Pte Milne was only 24 years old when he was killed on that fateful Easter Monday, April 9th, 1917.
The whereabouts of his grave still remain unknown.
He was born on Dec 21st 1892 far away from here, in Cambusnethan (Lanarkshire) Scotland. He moved with his family when they emigrated to Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan - where he would ultimately enlist and start the journey that ensured for him a place in my heart.
Pte Milne’s VC Citation describes his last moments as thus: "For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty in attack. On approaching the first objective, Pte. Milne observed an enemy machine gun firing on our advancing troops. Crawling on hands and knees, he succeeded in reaching the gun, killing the crew with bombs, and capturing the gun. On the line re-forming, he again located a machine gun in the support line, and stalking this second gun as he had done the first, he succeeded in putting the crew out of action and capturing the gun. His wonderful bravery and resource on these two occasions undoubtedly saved the lives of many of his comrades. Pte. Milne was killed shortly after capturing the second gun."
Among others, my unit proudly carries on our regimental colours the battle honour 'Vimy, 1917' and my thoughts (through out the years) have often come to rest with Pte Milne in particular – almost as if he were known to us; as a hero, a mentor, a friend, a brother and a comrade – we felt his spirit with us as we all pondered at some time or another what we would do if the time ever came to learn what we were made of. And we knew in our hearts that we would do the same, for as long as we were able, for as long as we were still aware of our brothers following us, for as long as love for Canada still lived in our hearts.
Because he had done so first.
It’s a courage I pray no one has ever to muster again, but one that I know with a great deal of conviction resides within the core spirit of our nation, ready to be called upon.
- Brigadier General Alexander Ross
on watching the attack on Vimy
Saturday, April 08, 2006
There are currently more Edmonton Police Officers in my neighbourhood than I suspected actually were on duty in the whole of Edmonton at this time. I counted around 12 patrol cars (with officers in them), 1 helicopter, officers in pairs walking around with dogs, and a random patrolling ambulance (and even the WEM Security officers are out walking around).
The police have set up a containment net and clearly something has gone very wrong in the short time I have been away (I just left for coffee and politics). But dogs + roaving ambulance - assault weapons = looking for a victim (imho).
I am home alone tonight; I already checked in with the homes my kids are staying at (also in neighbourhood) and everyone is fine and the doors are locked. So now the rest of the evening seems to be left for my entertainment or curiousity - with my background I can't resist. I'll let you know if I ever find out what's happened.
UPDATE: Took a quick walk over to Mac's, the guy didn't know anything. I can say that the activity is centred around Erin Place (the complex my son is sleeping over at tonight) and I up the ambulance total to two and they are removing a vehicle with a tow truck, which is odd. Police activity is starting to calm down now...
UPDATE TWO: Everyone seems to be gone now - except for the guy who "strolls" around the block once every 10 minutes holding a lunch kit. I'll sleep better tonight knowing he's still around...
Friday, April 07, 2006
Thursday, April 06, 2006
- Graham Thomson, The Edmonton Journal
"I am passionate about what I do, I enjoy it ... however, we move on and there's another big challenge ahead and I'll be equally passionate or even more passionate about that. I've been ready for the race for a long time ... all that held me back was the appropriateness. In my view, it was not appropriate to campaign with a new vision for where the province should go when we're still working on the current (government's) vision. Those circumstances have now changed."
– Dave Hancock via/for James Baxter, the Edmonton Journal
- Dave Taylor
Liberal Advanced Education Critic
Wednesday, April 05, 2006
Ty Lund (Rocky Mountain House) Minister of Infrastructure and Transportation
Gary Mar (Calgary-Mackay) Minister of International and Intergovernmental Relations
Denis Herard (Calgary-Egmont) Minister of Advanced Education
Denis Ducharme (Bonnyville-Cold Lake) Minister of Community Development
George VanderBurg (Whitecourt-Ste. Anne) Minister of Government Services
Gene Zwozdesky (Edmonton-Mill Creek) is Government House Leader
Mel Knight (Grande Prairie Smoky) is Party Whip
Advanced Education Minister Dave Hancock has resigned his cabinet position and as Government House Leader to allow him to focus on his campaign to be Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta.
It's a sad day for students' - Hancock has been an amazing Advanced Education Minister and had some great plans still for the portfolio - but he is also passionate about seeking the leadership and it's time for more Albertans to get to know him better.
Next up - Cabinet Shuffle.
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
Premier Ralph Klein outlined today in his press conference his decision to retire earlier than he had originally planned, due to the results of the Leadership Review vote at the AGM.
The Premier said that he was touched by the tremendous show of support from cacaus and from Albertans (of whom more than 800 had written to him expressing their support) and that he will stay to see his priorites for this session through to completion.
Premier Klein has decided that in Septemeber he will submit a letter to the party urging they organize and convene a Party Leadership Contest which he suspects will take place in October and November (but that timeline will be up to the Party). As soon as the successor is chosen he will then resign as Leader and as Premier.
Premier Klein said he was disappointed with the results of the vote but refused to point fingers or place any blame, saying that was not in the best interests of the Party, the government or Alberta.
He outlined his priorites as such:
- Health Care Reform
- Cancer Legacy Fund
- Intergrated Energy Policy (making sure Alberta remains an energy leader)
- Better relations with the new federal government (especially in areas of senate reform)
- Leaving Alberta in better shape that it was when he started
We are going to miss him too.
Monday, April 03, 2006
No, really. I came back to my hotel room Saturday morning and this is how I found my bathroom...
The maid had arranged neatly all of our things (there were three of us staying in the room) together on top of two outlayed face cloths. It kind of freaked me out - I've never had this happen before at any hotel I have stayed at - and I couldn't help but think that the Maid had likely touched my toothbrush AFTER she cleaned the toilet... When I casually mentioned it to the woman at the front desk when I was checking out the next day she said they do that as a service for all of their guests.
Interesting. I wonder what focus group came up with the need or desire to have thier toiletries moved into some weird (yet ordered) formation.
Oh and more AGM/Calgary pics on Flickr now.
Maybe it’s a small order of sour grapes, but it’s apparent nonetheless. Edmonton Journal Blogger Johnsrude writes:
"The weekend Conservative convention in Calgary took citizen journalism to new heights. At least three delegates blogged live from the convention floor, offering inside perspectives unavailable in the traditional media. The blog Summer Daydreams (walks_like_summerrain.blogspot.com) had the results of Friday night’s leadership vote at 11:52 p.m., eleven minutes before they were officially released.
We (that is, edmontonjournal.com) had the results and a story on our web page around 12:15 a.m. But our reporters at the convention, James Baxter and Kelly Cryderman, had heard rumours of Klein’s marginal 55.4 per cent showing long before midnight. Newspapers can’t go with rumours. Bloggers can. This is just another way blogging is changing the face of journalism."
While I will humbly resist the urge to point out that I wasn’t blogging “a rumour” (this was, after all, OUR convention) I will take issue somewhat with the tantrum aspects of “we knew it first but couldn’t say.”
Shudder to think that everything is a rumour until it is actually “officially released” to the media - as if they can be our only source of verifiable information. If “citizen journalism” really has anything to offer people it is a source of information and a perspective of issues as we see it happen and unfold - without someone else’s spin or motivations. The traditional media, despite all aspects of journalistic integrity, is not without its own biases – and everything you read (regardless of its source) should be weighed with a healthy amount of scepticism.
As my friend Quynn said this morning, with any new medium there’s always a period of adjustment and for now some see blogs in competition with the mainstream media. As well they should. I applaud the journalists who have made a leap into the blogosphere to participate in this new realm of information sharing. I just can’t help but wonder if they have missed the point.
Saturday, April 01, 2006
Well this has been a very interesting day indeed. I enjoyed Preston Manning's speech at lunch time and it was cool to meet him afterwards - he signed my copy of THINK BIG and it was captured on TV so if you saw it that was me - sadly my pictures didn't really turn out so I am including this little one here and thats it.
I didn't get a chance yesterday to blog about seeing an old friend - one of my favourite people in the world came all the way from Washington DC to cast his vote - Minister Councellor Murray Smith. So good to see Murray again. Can't wait to go visit him (was planning for July... but I have a feeling my time just became premium).
As for tonight - it is the night of Hospitality. Leadership Hospitality Suites galore... and considering what happened last night it will be interesting to see what the mood is. Our Hospitality Suite is at the Saltlik (8th Ave) starting at 10:00pm after the festivities. Click on the image for a larger invite.
Oh, and tomorrow's Q&A session has been cancelled.
I am sitting here blogging from behind the bank of free computers at the Convention, and I must say that it is interesting to watch the different pages - blogs mostly - that people are visiting. It is especially interesting to sit and watch them read through mine and see their reactions.
Coming into this AGM I predicted that we would all feel differently about our party when it was over, in one way or another, and now this has become apparent. We all have interesting paths ahead of us and as we draw lines and pick sides I hope we can remember one simple truth - we are all on the same side. When the upcoming Leadership Race is settled we all have to unite strongly behind our leader and remember that we are all friends.
The people who I have met so far that voted Yes seem pretty pleased with themselves. Smug even. But no one so far has a good reason for voting the way they did - not that I would presume to dictate how someone uses their democratic vote, but I would like to hear a good reason from someone before I leave the convention.
Our Premier told the voting public that he would leave in three and three quarter years AND THEY STILL VOTED FOR HIM. Actually, despite it all we won a majority government - a clear mandate from the people of Alberta. Then he was honest with everyone and said he was retiring and (whether or not we agree with the date) AND a LEADERSHIP RACE IS ALREADY UNDERWAY.
Now - well who knows? The headlines in the paper this morning are NOT a good start to our new era. What of all the renewal efforts that we have struggled so hard to obtain? Now, we are facing a big unknown. Let's hope we can stay united as a party and that we can still find some validity in our Leadership Race and selection - the LAST thing we need now is to head straight into a Jim Dinning Coronation.