On Wednesday this week, I was surprised to find out that Premier Alison Redford had made another provincial proposal to teachers for a framework for their contracts. The Provincial Executive Council of the Alberta Teacher's Association has sent it on to locals for consideration. This could mean we'd be entering into another province-wide agreement very shortly.
Two things from this. If it takes the Premier to get involved everytime, such as when Dave Hancock was Education Minister when then Premier Ed Stelmach pitched a 5-year and got it signed, and now with Redford superseding current Education Minister Jeff Johnson, why bother having a Minister of Education at all?
But that's not the biggest thing I get from this. The biggest thing starts from the question "where was the Alberta School Boards Association in all this?" It seems to me they had no idea this was going down at all, trustees were never informed the conversation between the PC government and the ATA was even happening, and one blogger has even wondered why the ASBA even exist in the first place.
That's not deep enough. The ASBA has other purposes, just like the ATA is not simply a bargaining entity. However, trustees don't have too many other significant duties than good interactions with their teachers. Well, okay, they give direction to the implementation of education in their area as well.
Trustees have been sidelined for years now, starting most prominently with Stelmach. When he pitched a 5-year deal, ASBA was concerned then about funding, but much worse, trustees were not given the opportunity to bargain as much for local issues. Some boards didn't even have trustees involved at all, and instead had Employer Bargaining Authorities, like the one that my Board was a part of called the School Boards Employer Bargaining Authority. That means that trustees have been removed from discussing complete contracts with their employees for over 8 years. Some trustees have never even been involved in such discussions at all.
So why do we even have elections for them if they aren't given an opportunity to represent us? Well, okay, they give direction to the implementation of education in their area as well. However, if you were to ask Education Minister Jeff Johnson, the only direction required should be "Inspiring Education". So again, why do we even elect trustees at all?
Then I recall some of the recent goings on following the latest provincial election. Evan Berger, appointed (without a competition) to a six-figure post in the Alberta Government, despite being dumped by the electorate for a Wildrose MLA in Pat Stier. A police college that was expected to go into Fort Macleod because those citizens elected a mayor that would make it happen got cancelled. It makes one wonder ... if the PCs are in government, does it matter who we elect?
We want elections to count. We want our voices heard. So we vote for trustees who we think will represent our interests best. We vote for MLAs who we believe will do the same. We vote for mayors who will work to better our communities, but aren't able to anyway because their hands are tied to the Alberta Government's purse-strings. Our elections don't count. Considering our elections come up this October, the fact that who I elect doesn't matter bothers me significantly, because I firmly believe we need trustees who are empowered, and councillors and mayors who aren't going to have to worry about the PC boot falling on them.
If we are to see this change, we need to vote for a party who will make elections count. They'll give your vote an opportunity to work. They'll give trustees, councillors and mayors the opportunity to represent our interests to the better of our community.
Do you know of a party who has made it their platform to get elections to count?
Our future is under attack, thanks to the cancellation of the police college in Fort Macleod. And the only one to see it is the Mayor of Fort Macleod.The Alberta Liberals were the first to lambast the PCs. Oddly enough, it was in defense of another party, the Wildrose. At first I thought how nice it was that the Liberal party could show respect for another party regardless of how wildly different their ideologies were. Then I realized that the Liberals missed the point.
The Wildrose are having a difficult time sticking to their tune, asking the PCs to cut excess spending, and in the same breath crying foul when they do. Even so, they are still missing the point.
The PCs are missing the point most by cancelling the building of the police college. They did it saying we had no need right now, and so rather than spend more, save the budget by cutting it. While the police chiefs of the area might say there is no need right now, they aren't looking at the big picture the province's future, which is what we need to expect the PCs to do on our behalf.
This police college could become an incredible export for our province. Law enforcement agencies from across the western provinces, or even further, should be looking to Alberta for models of great enforcement. This college would be the key to making that happen. With the creation of this college, suddenly we have diversified our market even further, easily making up for the $122 million the PCs hope to save right now.
Imagine officers of the Lethbridge police, the RCMP, the Vancouver police, and the Toronto police getting upgrades on their training in Fort Macleod. They bring business to Alberta with them. The standardized curriculum Jonathan Denis is hoping for would be so easily implemented at a centralized location. Peace officers such as the late Rod Lazenby could get the professional development they need right in our own back yard. American police officers could learn how to diffuse situations without the use of firearms.
Less reliance on oil and gas revenue means more stability in the budget. Therefore, diversifying into the field of law enforcement couldn't possibly be a bad idea.
The mayor of Fort Macleod knows this. It's why his community has injected over $4 million into the project, over twice what the Alberta government has put in so far. $4 million which the Alberta government now expects Fort Macleod to eat. This is no drop in the bucket for the town. It staked its entire future on it. Now the PC government is killing this future.
Sure, police chiefs said it's not a police-driven initiative, and seem to have supported the government's decision. I would too, if all I was concerned about was my own jurisdiction. But it's the government's responsibility to consider more.
We should demand this project be plugged back in. It's for our future's safety and economic health. Forget the optics of the PCs maligning the Livingstone-Macleod constituency twice in 1 month. Forget the optics of the PCs cutting less than a third of a percentage of the budget to make up for lost unstable revenues. Forget the optics of police chiefs supporting the Alberta government when their primary focus is their own jurisdictions.
Instead, look at what the Fort Macleod mayor saw up until a few hours ago; a future with promise.