Sunday, 19 April 2015

I Support The Alberta Party, Reason #3

Authentic Support For GSAs


Hey everyone,

I support the Alberta Party because they take a sincere and authentic stance in support of evidence based public policy. The evidence clearly shows that school policies are more effective at creating a safe and stable learning environment when they are specific to the needs of the students. This is why broad policies which blanket all students in general are not as good as policies which specifically lay out steps to protect students who are identified as a target of bullying and abuse.

In our democracy it is incumbent upon our leaders to zealously protect the rights or all citizens; especially those who are the most easy to disagree with. So, regardless of your opinions about the issues surrounding LGBTQ rights; there is only one fair and ethical stance to take regarding Gay - Straight Alliances (GSAs) in public schools.

  • All students have the absolute right to not be discriminated against. 
  • All students have the absolute right to a safe learning environment. 


It then follows that the students who may be the hardest to love are the ones who need protection from discrimination the most; namely LGBTQ students. *

The reason why GSAs are needed in public schools is because LGBTQ students are consistently targeted by bullies. Since bullying creates fear in the students and clearly causes them harm, we need a solution to prevent it from happening. That is precisely what GSAs do. They create and foster a safe environment so that students can go to school without fear of harassment and abuse.

The Alberta Party Supports Gay-Straight Alliances


If you don't remember your school days and what it was like to get picked on here is a very vivid example of how OUT-OF-CONTROL bullying can get.




If you are inclined to disagree with me please be very mindful of the facts. LGBTQ students who are targeted by bulling have a significantly higher risk of suicide. 

A study of students (grades 7-12) found that LGBTQ students were 2 times more likely to have attempted suicide than heterosexual peers.

University of British Collumbia Study: Gay-Straight Alliances in schools reduce suicide risk for all students

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With that said; I am glad that our government now officially accepts GSAs but the reluctance of the PCs to be leaders in this regard and the ignorance of their original stance, has caused A LOT of harm! Albertans need to remember this when we go to vote in the next government of our province!

Now to be fair if this were the only reason I supported the Alberta Party it could also lead me to support the NDP and the Liberals. Afterall it was Liberal MLA Laurie Blakeman who introduced Bill 202 and brought the issue of GSAs into the public conversation. I laud those other parties for taking an authentic stance on this issue as well.

Admittedly, my argument isn't so much for the Alberta Party as it is against the Wildrose and the Progressive Conservative parties. Both of those parties have in the past failed Albertans and failed students who were the target of bullying. 

Now, I anticipate that someone will jump to defend those parties and say:

"But the PCs DO support GSAs! They just came out supporting them a few months ago!"

- The truth is that the PCs were dragged kicking and screaming into supporting GSAs. If there hadn't been such a loud public outcry they would have swept the issue under the rug and forgotten about it. This is how they are. Their actions have proven they do not really care about this issue. Their actions have proven that they just care about getting re-elected and that they will say whatever it takes to do so.

"But the WRP DOES support GSAs! They allow MLAs to vote their conscience!"

- I'm sure that there are some reasonable Wildrosers; but, I do not trust them. Although they have been getting better at biting their tongues and not saying racist, bigoted things; there are still plenty of examples of sexist tweets, racist comments, and homophobic attitudes. A quick google search will demonstrate this.

Furthermore, the WRP is unofficially the party of choice for people who are opposed to LGBTQ rights.

The other day I was talking with someone about the Alberta Party. The first question they asked me was "Do you support gay marriage?". My reply was that I support human rights. To which I received the retort "That's why I'm supporting the WRP. They don't support the gays."

Clearly the WRP is still perceived as being the party that is anti-gay and they will get the homophobic vote. I would have a lot of respect for their new leader if he would take decisive action to change this perception; but he has not. So it seems fair to assume, based on his wishy-washy stance, that he secretly endorses it.

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It is my hope; that in the sea of ideas, the tide is turning and that this kind of folksy reasoning for being bigoted will wash away. It seems that the vast majority of Albertan's see that we cannot have government endorsed bigotry and that we need policies which will equally protect the rights of all citizens.

We used to have government policies which endorsed racism (See: Reason #2 Why I support the Alberta Party) and we used to have government policies which were sexist. But we have moved on. This is called progress. It's time for some NEW ENERGY in Alberta. We are at a turning point in history and we need visionary leadership.

As scathing as I am to the WRP and the PCs there are some good ideas that the Alberta Party takes from them. Likewise there are some good ideas that they take from the Liberals and the NDP. The Alberta Party is committed to taking the best ideas from around the table and finding workable solutions that will serve ALL Albertans.

I  fully support Greg Clark, the leader of the Alberta Party and I fully endorse the Alberta Party Candidate in Red Deer NorthKrystal Kromm

Thank you!


Connect with Me on 
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& IRL (In Real Life) - lets go for coffee!

----------------------------

Krystal Kromm is the Alberta Party candidate for Red Deer North. 

Check out her website to learn about her platform!

www.AlbertaParty.ca

Like her Facebook Page.
Follow her on Twitter.





* I have friends and family members who are gay and I assure you that they are in fact very easy to love.


Tuesday, 14 April 2015

I Support The Alberta Party, Reason #2

Aboriginal Rights

This is an issue that has been sidelined in Alberta for too long! Both provincially and nationally our government has failed us in this regard!

Did you know the last Residential School in Canada shut it's doors in the mid 90's and that it wasn't until 2008 that Prime Minister Stephen Harper finally apologized for over 100 years of institutionalized racism?

If you are unaware of what a Residential School is read my blog post about them; Healing From Racism. They were truly horrible! Kids were taken away from their families and forced to live in squalor. Many kids were raped, beaten and forced to work like slaves; many kids never saw their parents again and many kids died. All this, in the name of "civilizing" the Native Culture. This makes me feel ashamed!

Many of the challenges Native People face in Alberta today stem directly from what was done to them. There is a disproportionate representation of Native People in our homeless population in Red Deer. Many problems like addictions, domestic violence and poor literacy rates can be directly linked to the racist policies of our government. Yes, the healing process will be intergenerational but we need to start now.

Side Thought: Why was I never taught about this in school?


It is time for some New Energy in Alberta. We need some new eyes on old problems. We can do better!

There is a lot of talk about "Land Rights" in Alberta. But often the conversation only extends to white farmers not to Native land owners. When the time comes to build a pipeline, a rail way or an electrical utility, Native Land Rights get lip-service, but it often ends there. Same goes for Native Communities that have environmental concerns.  

Did you know that 35 minutes from Red Deer there is a place where there are people living WITHOUT access to basic services like running water? I'm talking about Mascwacis (formerly Hobema). I have personally seen homes that do not have working water or sewer utilities! Why in this province; where we have so much wealth, do we have an entire class of citizens completely left out? 

We need compassionate and visionary leadership. We need to elect sincere MLA's who will stand up and do what is right by ALL Albertans. I see that in Greg Clark and the Alberta Party.

When I hear Greg Clark speak about "Entering into a new partnership with the Aboriginal Community" I hear a man who is passionate and who will keep his word. 

We have a long way to go and there will be no one size fits all solution, but we need to start having sincere conversations about issues like this. Alberta Party MLA's will have a free vote in the Legislature and the Alberta Party is open to grass roots collaboration on policy development. 

That means you can have a voice in this government!



Thank you!


Connect with Me on 
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& IRL (In Real Life) - lets go for coffee!



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Krystal Kromm is the Alberta Party candidate for Red Deer North. 

Check out her website to learn about her platform!

www.AlbertaParty.ca

Like her Facebook Page.
Follow her on Twitter.




Monday, 13 April 2015

I Support The Alberta Party, Reason #1

Environmental Policy

I am not anti-oil and gas but I have a strong environmental side. I am very fond of that place where all my food, water and air comes from.

I heard from the man himself, Jim Prentice that "if you are in the energy business you are in the environment business". He rightly says that Alberta has the BEST environmental standards in the world!

But let's just admit it; being the 'BEST' doesn't speak to whether or not we are actually GOOD ENOUGH! With that said, we do have some good environmental policies but we need to actually enforce them. Also, we need to stop pretending that all is well and start being honest about the environmental impacts we are having.

When I hear Greg Clark speak about the practical steps we can take to make our province more environmentally sustainable I hear that he cares about this issue and that he will actually do something about it. I also hear that he wont just toss our province off a cliff in the name of getting off our addiction to oil. 

I believe this approach is the only practical middle ground solution to the problems we face with climate change. The world must change and the world will change! Alberta can lead the way! But we need visionary leadership. I see that with Greg Clark!

Also I see a man and a party that I can work with. Its not their way or the highway, rather they are open to input and will allow their MLAs to represent the people and vote their conscience. It is because of this attitude that I am confident, that although their environmental policies are developing they can be honed into a practical framework that will serve our province well. 

I fully support the Alberta Party and I fully endorse Krystal Kromm for Red Deer North!

Thank you,



Connect with Me on G+FacebookTwitter 

& IRL (In Real Life) - lets go for coffee!

-----------------------------------------------------

Krystal Kromm is the Alberta Party candidate for Red Deer North. 

Check out her website to learn about her platform!

www.AlbertaParty.ca

Like her Facebook Page.
Follow her on Twitter.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Isaac Victor David Wieler

Hey everyone,

So I heard through the inter-tubes that today is Autism Awareness Day. My late brother Isaac Victor David Wieler was severely autistic and never spoke a word in his life. So I figured I should write a post about that.

I am the youngest of 4 kids. My two older sisters moved away from home before I can remember. Isaac was a few years older than I. 

Firstly, I want to make it clear that Isaac died a long time ago and I am past the grieving period; so please there is no need for sympathy.

Looking back it is weird to think how his developmental disability held him locked in the mind of a child as my cognitive abilities developed at a natural pace. I remember being 5 or 6 and we would play the same games. Then I remember being an early teen and he still played with small toys and I played video games. Then when I was in high school he was still fascinated by spinning tops and I was driving a car. 

It seemed normal to me but as I entered my adult life I realized that it wasn’t. Most people never have to face the challenges of having someone in their family with developmental disabilities. Most people react out of fear when they see someone like my brother, or they mock or they are impatient. 

At this point I would like to describe his situation in BLUNT detail. Isaac died in his mid 20s. The last few years of his life were truly horrendous. He would defecate in his bed. He would throw violent tantrums, keep in mind he was a 250 pound man! He would punch holes in the walls. He had a few seizures a week. He would chew on his knuckles and violently strike his own head. He couldn’t be brought out in public; so he lived in my parents basement. 

My family was stressed beyond the break point. There were people who sincerely cared who tried to help. People from various government agencies, but it was one of those situations where nothing was a win-win. They were on their own. It wasn't always that bad but over time his situation became worse and worse. 

When Isaac was about 12 years old, social services and the RCMP just showed up one day and kicked in our front door. They pepper sprayed my dad, handcuffed my brother and pried him away kicking and screaming in the back of a police cruiser. They took me too, but that is another story. They sent Isaac to Margaret House, a mental institution similar to Michener Centre, in Calgary. I was returned to my parents about 10 days later but Isaac was gone for well over a year and my parents became locked in a legal battle with the Alberta government to regain custody of their child. 

Eventually they won the court case and got Isaac back. But it wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies. There was permanent damage done, Isaac came out 100 pounds overweight and addicted to medication. Yes, that is how our Alberta government handles situations like that. 

After that my parents, rightly, never trusted the Alberta government again. Over the years many different living situations were devised from in-home supports to Alberta Hospital in Edmonton to living in Michener Centre. Nothing was a win-win. 

When people hear autism I wonder what they think? Do they see someone like Rain Man? Do they think of someone who can figure out if July 3, 1922 was a Tuesday or a Thursday, in a split second? From my experience autism is such a broad term that its use in our language can be misleading. 

Isaac was labeled severely autistic. He couldn’t speak. He rarely made eye contact. He wore his clothing inside out because the seams bothered him. He was deathly afraid of rubber bands and blowing up balloons. He was prone to throwing violent tantrums in public and after the police were compelled to handcuff him a few blocks from our house, we weren’t allowed to take him out in public anymore. 

I don’t know the answer to any of this. I wonder what the best course of action would have been. Maybe if the government had taken Isaac away as a toddler and institutionalized him at an early age and given him the professional care right from the beginning things would have been better? 

When faced with the option of living in an institution with padded cells, rubber mattresses and large men with latex gloves restraining you to change your diaper; living at home with your parents seems like the best decision. But then when the situation at home perpetually grows worse as your parents age and they become unable to work, unable to provide care and unable to mentally cope; eventually the government will intervene anyways; as they did a few times throughout Isaac’s life. The options are bleak. 

In a sense it was best for my brother to die when he did, because if were still alive today he would be a ward of the province wasting away in a padded, cell drugged into oblivion. Yes; even in this magnificent country of ours with all our wealth and prosperity, that is still the endgame for people like my brother.

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He was innocent.

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When I hear of other people going through what I went through I am filled with compassion. It is easy to retweet that it is world autism day. It is easy to write a blog. It is hard to do something that actually helps; but there is a lot that we can do to help.




Scientists and doctors have done some amazing work. There have been breakthroughs in behaviour modification. There are better medications. There are treatments available which can help. But there is always a battle for resources. All too often our political leaders count the nickels and dimes and forget about quality of life and doing the right thing. All too often our society pushes the problem out of sight so it becomes out of mind. People like my brother are often marginalized. 

Even I am guilty of this. There are so many people out there who need help and so many problems to solve which one should I pick? Should I help the autistic people like my brother or should I help the sick kids with leukaemia? Should I help the homeless woman on the streets of Red Deer or the starving family in Africa? I don’t know. 

I am not in this world to change everything, I am in this world to change something; whatever I can, hopefully for the better.

Cheers,

Connect with Me on G+FacebookTwitter 

& IRL (In Real Life) - lets go for coffee!

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Also, Alberta is about to enter a provincial election and my wife Krystal Kromm is the Alberta Party candidate for Red Deer North. 

Check out her website to learn about her platform!

www.AlbertaParty.ca

Like her Facebook Page.
Follow her on Twitter.



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