Before people go off on some Calgary sized outrage like they did about hats. I want to be clear that I do not support everything the provincial government in Alberta is doing, this blog however is about the stuff I think is going well.
One: Religious Education:
Normally when I talk about David Eggen I like to remind the universe that I kicked his ass in 2008 and gave the seat back to him in 2012, today however I want to acknowledge that he has taken on a very significant challenge and is doing the right thing by ordering an inquiry into the conduct of a publically funded school that does not wish to adhere to the guidelines of his ministry, I refer, of course to the Independent Baptist Christian Education Society who run two schools in the Edmonton area.
I'm completely in favour of freedom of association, of speech and of placing the individual ahead of the state, where the line is blurred however is when a publically funded institution, such as a school board chooses to go it's own way based, in this case, on Deuteronomy quotes about who God thinks you should be able to sleep with.
The year is 2016 and as a society we have changed our definitions of what many tings mean, we did not do this by accident or by insight, this occurred because different people, with very different ideas made compelling arguments that work. Such are the ways of the school act and the Gay Straight Alliances. I suspect in ten years the GSA's will be about as cool among kids as debating club or band, but for the moment, it's got all kinds of knickers, bloomers, thongs and jockeys in a knot about what this means to our kids and the future. Frankly I think it means pretty much nothing.
It's time to just accept what is and be done with it.
If you want to have a school that does not believe in math, for example, because your ancient warrior God declared that "all a man needs is a bit of cyphering to get a fair deal in the market". Public scorn and outrage would be universal, such a school might exist, I don't know but certainly not within the public system, as long ago people recognized the importance of math and Algebra, (to the chagrin of kids everywhere) so we teach it without giving it a thought. And as a tax payer I am looking forward to the day when I can teach the Pythagorean theorem to my grandsons. If I want them to learn about religion well, that's up to their parents, not me.
In the case of the Baptist schools, Minister Eggen should expend the resources necessary to settle this issue once and for all. Religious freedom is great as long as we do not expect the public to pay for it. The Catholics might, justifiably, worry that this is the thin edge of the wedge and indeed it is, I was educated in the Catholic school system and can find no compelling personal reason why I would continue in that belief system, you might disagree and that's fine but as a friend recently stated
"Canada has no national religion, we are not a "Christian" country, we welcome all faiths, more or less equally, and people are free to bow to whatever divinity they choose"
Education should be the same, secular, based on standards with the ability to respond to the educational requests of the families. The Edmonton Catholic school board offers Delete repeated word education period. The Edmonton Public School Board has Christian, Muslim, Buddhist and I have no idea what else, and they manage to get along just fine. I can find no Catholic school program for Muslims, some girls schools yes, but nothing geared toward other religions, which is exactly the same thing as the Baptists are doing.
Minister Eggen can make his mark if he does not cave in and deals, once and for all, with the issues of religious schools, If the public system can teach all these religions, why not a Catholic program, it could be done and we could eliminate this two school board mess and save a whole bunch of money that the government can spend on something else.
Two: Sustainable "green" energy
We are not all going to be like newly minted (I was going to say child, but the guy is in his early 20's and that would be rude) MLA Horn from Stony Plain and ride our bikes everywhere; we are going to drive and play with snowmobiles and such.
Carbon taxes are wrong, but sustainable green energy could be the shot in the arm Alberta needs! By definition, cogeneration of electricity and heat is a very green idea and guess what? Fort Mac specifically and Alberta generally is awash in green power that doesn't flood valleys or go off when the sun sets, this could be our moment and I think the NDP got this one right.
By delaying the introduction of alternative energy we are really just biting off our own noses to spite our faces, lets cogeneration everything we can and make people think of Alberta as an energy superstar. This does not mean swapping your dually for a Prius, but it does mean that our internal efficiencies can rise quite dramatically. It really makes no difference if we export a molecule or an electron, except that if we are turning our gaseous molecules into electrons and being efficient about it we will have a much easier time of selling our fluid molecules. So bravo on this one, just try and get out of industries way once you decide what you are going to do.
Three: Showing up in New York.
Good on the Premier for travelling to the big apple to score some positive points on Alberta and energy. Attending a conference on climate is old hat I know, but we have a different face of Alberta now and like it or not, the NDP need successful industries to support their ever expanding social agenda. Rather than the constant battles of old rich guys against the youthful protesters who are funded by other rich old guys, let's show these folks we mean business and in the spirit of TRUE Albertans, let's rise to yet another challenge and show the world we have
1) a plan
3) Industry support.
Now the coal guys aren't real happy, but even with thermal coal, there are gasification options that look awfully green to me, It's not a question that coal is "bad" per se, let's use of our technical brain power to make it cleaner.
Now, of course if the NDP were committed to my ideas, which they probably aren't I'm guessing, the next agenda item would be nuclear power. That has the least emissions of all and is very clean, it's expensive, but it sure works in France and let's be real, if the French can do it safely, I'm pretty sure we can too.
So three thumbs up for the Provincial Government this week, the concepts are all good, lets see some action.