Ralph Klein has gone and it is time to retire Ralph's World. Thanks to all of you who have supported this venture by contributing material and through your comments. It has been fun.

Should we get another blog underway? Let me know your thoughts by e-mailing me at johnnyslow@gmail.com.

John Slow
January 1, 2007

Saturday, April 30, 2005

Understanding the Mackenzie valley pipeline will cost Alberta Taxpayers. 

John Clark
Edmonton, AB
April 30, 2005

Ralph was talking McMurray Railroad and planning MacKenzie (Hay River) rail. A champion of misdirection. Then, he says "No new McMurray railroad" but says nothing about his real target, Hay River.

The jewel in the Arctic gas lies in the ethylene to be extracted from the gas to support the plastic industry. Laws were put into Alberta natural resources which allowed the Government to strip ethylene from the gas, giving it to NOVA declaring that ethylene was not part of the “natural gas contract”.

Where the pipeline goes will dictate who gets the ethylene and how much do they get. At the table the oil and gas Exploration Company and the pipeline company with the Alberta Government looking over their shoulders like you would expect in a bad poker game.

On the other side of the table are the natives of the Mackenzie River valley who have limited sources of income. They do not want to be trapped into a deal like Albertan’s have, the lowest royalties in the world! They see themselves not as six native tribes who are land owners but as an empowered although not recognized government body. They are holding out for a larger, more reasonable cut of the profit.

As part of the bid or play, the oil/pipeline companies are saying they will need a new railroad into Hay River NWT as the existing rail does not have the capacity to move a pipeline. (Keep in mind Ralph and company looking over their shoulder and Ralph’s recent news break saying no rail road to McMurray which has nothing to do about anything; you can bet that Ralph is still looking at railroad).

Sitting at the next poker table is the USA, BC and the Alaska natives. A good old boy’s game, the USA is telling BC they can deliver the Alaska native approval for an Alaska/BC pipeline; no problem. The US will keep most the ethylene.

If this happens and it is likely it will, BC will harvest a share of the essential ethylene. My information is they (BC) are willing to accept much less of a cut of this essential than Alberta would demand from the Mackenzie line a boost for BC plastic industry.

Of course, the USA hand is showing a “give up no ethylene”.

Ethylene is turned into resin a secondary manufacturing scheme which Alberta has restricted with supply to NOVA. Most Alberta food plastic manufacturers buy their resin from the US!

A recent appearance of the Fort Simpson NWT representative on CBC telling the Federal Government to get involved is not boding well for a Mackenzie deal. I think they are asking for the Feds to couple with Alberta in building that railroad. At the heart of this is time. Just how long will it take the US to sign on BC and the Alaska Natives? Not long I’m afraid and with Harper’s messing around it will more than probably go to BC! With the competence of the Alberta Conservatives and the Federal Conservative untimely stirring for self gratitude; it is practically assured.

Uncertainty is deadly. When Dome was building Tarsuit (arctic man made island) they declared the inland transportation system was not dependable. Hence, a lot of the pipe and materials were manufactured in Korea and transported by barge into the Prudhoe area. History has a way of repeating its self!

John Clark

Child Care Ralph's way or no way at all! 

John Clark
14815 – 123 Ave
Edmonton, Alberta
April 30, 2005

The Honorable Ralph Klein,
Room 307, Legislature Building
10800 - 97th Avenue
Edmonton, Alberta
T5K 2B6


Dear Premier:

The conservative/Klein game plan playing both ends against the middle is more than apparent!

I have a letter from the Minister regarding the combining of spousal incomes to determine old age benefits. This is done she tells me because; it is the way Ottawa does it. Therefore, it is correct.

Then, we have the universal child care debacle. This time the Feds are wrong because they want the money they put forward to go directly into approved child care programs.

You have refused to participate because you want all the Ottawa money to go into General Revenues where you will not be accountable for the proper and honourable dispersing of these funds!

This, you call “Giving Albertan’s a greater choice.”

It is my thought you are so set in laundering money that you will make no move to participate in any plan on any subject where you cannot direct the rewards to your chosen few!

What is your plan on the child care funds? Build a railroad to Hay River with them telling Albertan’s “It’s good for you, my studies tell me so.”

Step up to the plate and play the game honestly for once. This is too important for you to mess around with!

John Clark

What is Harper and the Conservatives about? 

John Clark
14815 – 123 Ave
Edmonton, AB T5L 2Y7
April 30, 2005

Conservative Party of Canada
#1720 - 130 Albert Street Ottawa,
OntarioK1P 5G4
Toll free: (866) 808-8407
(613) 755-2001
Phone: (613) 755-2000

Attention:- The Honourable Stephen Harper, Leader/Conservatives.

Dear Mr. Harper:

You were the man who stood up in Parliament and declared you would send my kids into Iraq as front line American cannon fodder. You are the man who would put my family in harms way with absolutely no conscience because it suits you politically!

Certainly.while you are waxing the Canadian Forces you have heard the stories of Americans pointing loaded automatic weapons at Canadian soldiers in Bosnia because our people were trying to intervene and break up local conflicts?

Mr. Klein is at the gate, agitating, ready to support your bid to bring down the Government. Have you made a back room deal with him to help his program of turning bulk water into a commodity to it can be exported under NAFTA?

The last conservative government allowed the US to write into free trade rain fall, snow fall along with the lakes and the rivers and dug-outs. NAFTA has more thorns and heinous threats than most political documents, more than a standard declaration of war! All it takes now is the good old conservative will to put it all into play!

Did you promise Dinning and Klein a “no hassle” position on the diversion of water from the Peace River to Southern Alberta?

Did you promise Dinning and Klein federal participation in building a new railroad to Hay River in the NWT to facilitate the Mackenzie Valley pipeline?

Have you given assurances to Dinning and Klein that you would quash any ENRON like enquiries; assure them of a no hassle program to export electricity? Help him fight off Alberta electorate who will pay for this with no compensation?

Have you effectively agreed to do away the Canada as we have come to enjoy it in favour of totally independent provinces and, like Klein no plan just an overwhelming desire to push an ideal?

Do you plan on “Cleaning up” Government as did Mulroney by firing department heads at random or by any other means making these department heads report to your personal friends whom you plan to install at the head of each department? Is this your view of “keeping tight control of the bureaucrats?”

Your personal friends and contacts installed at the head of departments with your personal, unchecked, untethered set of instruction? Your ADM’s or their secretaries installed by you who have no other qualification than being hard core right wing prepared to follow the leader to Canada’s demise?

Bureaucrat professionals who have made it their life’s work to be politically professional cast aside in your plan to “shake it up and show the populace”?

We have heard much about your irate position on the advertisement program ran in PQ in a vain but well meant effort to keep Canada as a country.

Let’s hear a little about your plans; the nuts and bolts and a little less mud slinging!

John Clark

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

"Unleasing Innovation in Health Systems" Contest 

The image seen on the left is the logo being used by the Alberta Government to promote their Symposium on Health Conference which is coming up May 3rd to 5th in Calgary. The motto of the conference is "Unleashing Innovation in Health Systems".

The management and staff here at Ralph's World, admittedly not the brightest bulbs in the box, were nevertheless puzzled about how the somewhat poofy picture related to the macho motto. To us power words like "unleashing" just don't seem to go with a bunch of guys holding hands in a circle and standing in puddles of something.

Phone calls for an explanation made to the Health Minister's Office and the Public Affairs Bureau were not well received so we decided to go to you, the citizens, for your input. Here's what you need to do to participate.

Simply come up with your own unique explanation of how the logo relates to the motto. You might tell us who you think the people in the picture are. Are they new private hospital owners or simply happy healthy Albertans enjoying the fruits of Ralph's "Third Way"? You might think up a new motto or for that matter a new logo. Imagination is the key key here; "Outside the box" thinking as Premier Klein likes to call it. Once you have your ideas together e-mail them to us at johnnyslow@gmail.com. We'll publish the best here at Ralph's World. Make sure to tell us if you want your name used if we publish your entry.

For those of you who, like us, did not get a government invitation to "Unleashing Innovation in Health Systems, don't forget about the "Weighing the Evidence" conference this weekend in Calgary. You don't need to on the government A list to attend. Check out the details at www.weighingtheevidence.ca.

See you there.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Blow-up Sex Dolls 

"But let's just say you don't often see "Alberta Securities Commission" and "blow-up sex dolls" in the same sentence as we did in a front page national story last month."

These words from the Edmonton Journal’s Graham Thompson in last Wednesday’s paper prompted a flood of inquiries from anxious Ralph’s World readers.

One reader even sent in a photograph (see left) which she believes captures a team of Alberta Security Commission investigators preparing to confront an unknown Alberta firm under investigation for electrical power price manipulation. Although unclear as to the exact purpose of the blow-up sex doll she believes investigators use it to put those under investigation “at ease” and thus more likely to inadvertently “spill the beans”.

Researcher’s from Ralph’s World staff did Google the phrases “blow-up sex doll” in combination with “Alberta Securities Commission” but Google returned no hits. An e-mail has been hand-delivered to Graham Thompson asking him for clarification of which national newspaper ran this story.

We promise to keep you up-to-date on what many are calling “The Michael Jackson Caper of the North”.

Martha's Monthly Debuts 

One of our top contributors here at Ralph's world has branched out with her own weblog. Below is an introduction in their own words.

Welcome to Martha and her Monthly

Martha's Monthly was started by a small group of feminist activists in Southern Alberta. (Yes, there are feminist activists in southern Alberta!)

Using our premier's words for ordinary Albertans ("the Marthas and the Henrys") we decided to take back Martha and give her a real voice. So Martha produces a monthly email backgounder on a public policy issue in Alberta. And Martha is a feminist. She also has a sense of humour. She suggests to her readers that they take themselves more seriously and take their politicians less seriously.

If you want to join the growing revolution then read here and join the Marthas by emailing marthasmonthly@yahoo.ca

You can find their site located in Southern Alberta by clicking here.

Best of luck Martha.

Conservatives mad because their insiders didn't get into the dip! 

----- Original Message -----
From: John Clark
To: Prime Minister
Sent: Thursday, April 21, 2005 7:43 AM
Subject: Support
Email to the Honorable Paul Martin, Prime Minister of Canada

My most extreme; horrible nightmare is a Conservative Government in Ottawa backing Klein's extremes in Alberta. The general population in this province is being raped by Klein's insider schemes! Where will the teather be?

Great things have been accomplished by Liberal Governments in the past and all with a human heart at the core!

Stan Schulenburg, Senior Conservative, longest serving member etc.;my MP for years told me "Politics is all about favors, earning them and paying them back. That is essentially all politics boils down to in any party."

I am very sure in my mind that had a Conservative Government been in charge during this sponsorship fiasco, they would have taken a cut while throwing Quebec onto a critical separation path. The Conservatives were simply not capable of handling that situation!

Seeing this thing spin out of control because of the Conservative ranting breaks my heart!

Good Luck.

Prior to the provincial election Ralph's world took 8000 hits a day. Very respectable.

John Clark

John Clark,14815 - 123 Ave.,Edmonton, AB T5L 2Y7

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Ralph's Oil or nothing industry plan fails (Transportation) 

John Clark14815 - 123 Ave.,Edmonton, AB T5L 2Y7
April 13, 2005.

Honorable Ralph Klein,
Room 307
Legislative Building,
Edmonton, AB T4K 2C6

Being involved in transportation I have seen a number of security walls come into place and looked at their resulting costs and Alberta’s self inflicted weakness.

Within one Canadian company, hiring and personnel lists were gone over individually by US Agents in their office in Canada. Did they properly check and record the reference? Did the people marked down for the place of reference actually work there? Did the original security check match the new US security check?

This process took 6 months, and got the company to first base - as a company they could now cross the border as they had been doing for 50 years or more.

Line ups and delays grew at the border because of US customs detailing. Meanwhile new driving rules on hours of work were brought into effect for the drivers and companies.

Under the old system if a driver waited 2 hours to get cleared at the border he could mark that down as time off as he usually slept in his sleeper.

Now, he has to include this time in his hours of work and the waits are longer, reaching to 4 to 6 hours easily. That means the driver can drive 4 or hours less for that day and, they are paid by the mile.

An express clearance "FAST" was invented. 75 dollars was paid US, for each of the 600 drivers. They had to apply in person for their fast card, fingerprint, photo etc. Now, providing all the shippers in his van were "FAST" approved he could get into the fast lane and go through with a unit wand, no delay.

It never happened; all drivers have upscale photo-bio ID.

Delay in unloading loads became a major cost item.

On other areas, they are asked to fence their yards, add 24 hour a day security camera and live a monitor to their warehouse and yard facility. Keylock entry. In some areas this is a million dollar upgrade. Costs must be recovered!

Bottom line is many drivers are now being paid more to cross the border and the price of transportation has gone up and up and up while many trucking companies have quit the business. Prices will continue to go up.

Alberta put a program on to help Alberta shippers set up the inland port scheme which worked well. They invented Alberta Intermodel Service and, when it was sold to the CP some 44 million dollars of start up costs were never recovered from CP. Writing off start up costs is the norm I am told. They did however pay for the property in Calgary and Edmonton and some of the limited rolling stock. This allowed CP a turnkey business without the regular overhead. With no start up costs, lower rates are possible.

At heart here, industry in Alberta moved away from Trucks into "Cheap" containers. The economy and markets were built on this false economy. Now, the rail roads have troubles getting the containers between point A and point B in time and, the delays are getting longer. It may take you 6 days to get a container into their yard to go and another 6 to get it out of their yard at the other end when it arrives. The rail prices have increased.

Where the dray part of the operation (P and D from the rail yards) was costed at 3 hours on initial contracts, it is necessary for the dray people to price on 6 and 10 hour durations. (50 to 70 per hour). The CN and CP are dumping their part in pickup and delivery making it the shipper and consignee problem. Prices again shoot up. Costs are downloaded.

Now, along with the delay and higher prices the shippers look for trucks.

When the container artificial operation tanked the rates out of Alberta, many trucking companies closed their doors many more just ignored Alberta leaving the low priced US freight sit instead, going to Saskatchewan, BC and MB for their loads into the US.

Market parameters for Alberta Companies shrunk and continue to shrink!

Add to this the higher prices of power paid by Albertans and you have the mix for recession in every part of the economy except the oil patch.

Ralph's oil or nothing policy is coming home to roost.

The recent closure of Sunland Biscuits in Edmonton is only the tip of the iceberg. Higher electrical costs were a contributor but the market place wanted to do away with trans-fats in their product. This means re printing the packages. They were beat in the market place by .60 a case!

The conservatives can subsidize oil and gas with railroads free gas and power lines but they could find no way to save the only bakery west of Ontario!

On the up side:
Canada's trade with China has increased 10 fold over the last couple of years. The prediction is it will expand by a scale of 20 in the next 5 years.

Alberta. B.C. and the Feds are working to enlarge the Prince Rupert deep sea port. This has been an on again off again project for the last 2 decades. This is the deepest port in North America! Really excellent potential!

Vancouver Port cannot handle the traffic presently and cannot be improved to any extent. Much of the facility is on the Fraser River which needs constant dredging. The Dees Slough under the river highway limits the draft (depth) of vessels coming out of the Fraser with loads. (Less load)

The cost difference between Vancouver and Prince Rupert is immense. Tug boats charge close to 20,000 dollars per hour for their service. To move a big ship up the Fraser to New West Minister is a 100,000 dollar bill into the dock and an additional charge coming out!

Prince Rupert can accept the ships straight into their dock with minimal or no help from tugs! In the plans is expansion to the extreme which. In my mind is be a good thing!

Every additional "security" the US puts in place drives up the cost of doing business with the US. By comparison doing business with China becomes cheaper and cheaper without doing anything!

Alberta, BC and the Feds have been on the Rail's case about moving product. Alberta can't even get its coal moved! Markets are falling away and the established markets cannot afford the higher transportation. Some products were sold a year ago on futures market, using US dollars as the base. Their costs remain in Canadian dollars.
Their business was established on artificial transportation costs.

These companies will only survive by increasing prices to cover the increased costs!

The railroads have no clear picture of how to increase service in or out of Prince Rupert. The demands on trucks will continue to grow at an unprecedented pace. New trucking-industry allegiances will be formed and maintained with industry. The shipper/carrier culture is changing.

China is putting pressure on Taiwan; the US will want to put pressure on China; what are the Canada's chances of coming on board with the US?
Nil I would say.

Transportation is my world; I try to make a living out of it. Times are changing so fast it is hard to position.

John Clark

Premier Klein Prepares for the Queen 

A clearly excited Premier Klein today announced the first in a series of cultural projects that will be rolled out for the visit of her Majesty the Queen and Prince Phillip this May.

"While the recent budget didn't have any money clearly earmarked for the arts, we will be rolling out spending for the arts in conjunction with the Queen's visit. This way we make the taxpayer dollar do double duty. Albertans get some arty things that the lefties have been whining for and we look cultured in front of the Queen. It's the kind of "outside the box" thinking that me and my government have become famous for."

With that introduction, the Premier unveiled a pair of magnificent art deco slot machines that will be made available for the personal use of the Queen and Prince Phillip for the duration of their stay in Alberta.

"We didn't want to build fancy toilets for them like some countries do. We thought a couple of slots would be a lot more fun. We'll rig 'em so they payout at 200%. That'll make Queen and Prince feel super about been here. After they take off we'll set the payout back to 80% and donate the machines, one each, to the Edmonton and Calgary art galleries. The profits from the machines will go directly to the galleries which should keep them off our backs."

The Premier went on to say that gaming plays an ever-increasing role in his government's economic diversification strategy. He pointed out that government revenue from gaming now exceeds that produced from oil sands royalties. (Ed. - that, unlike the rest of this article, is true)

The Premier than generously donated the next three hours of his time to demonstrate the proper use of the machines for the assembled media throng.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Where is the Bloody Edmonton Journal? 

Today about seventy five folks who are upset about CBC's axing of Don Hill gathered outside the downtown Edmonton CBC studios. There were banners, bull horns, and four Provincial Opposition MLA's. There were a number of speeches from the MLAs and others plus lots of enthusiastic applause.

What wasn't there was anyone from the Edmonton Journal. You know, reporters coving the news like reporters usually do. They were invited, just like they were invited to a similar rally at the same location a couple of weeks ago. They didn't show up at that one either.

One of the MLAs who spoke was David Swann, the new Liberal member from Calgary-Mountain View. He was the Medical Officer of Health for the Palliser Health Authority who Klein fired for speaking out in favour of the Kyoto Protocol. He, like Don Hill, knows what it is like to be fired for exercising his right to free speech in Alberta. Klein had to back down and offer Swann his position back (which he didn't accept).

When is CBC going to re-hire Don Hill to his position as host of Wild Rose Forum?

Who knows. But there are a lot of people who are going to keep after the CBC until they get some answers.

But there is another very chilling thing going on. The mainstream media just are not covering this story and it's not just the Edmonton Journal, it's all the papers, radio and TV stations in the Province. Has the word come down to our Alberta media that the Don Hill firing, and particularly the topic he was exploring when he got fired are best left alone? If you wonder what the topic was, think Enron, fraud, Alberta electricity deregulation, millions lost and you'll get the picture.

Well, let's ask some people at the Edmonton Journal and see what they say. To make that easy for you the technical staff here at Ralph's World have provided the names, titles and e-mail addresses of some of the folks at the Edmonton Journal who might be able to help. They have even provided pictures to help you choose an honest face. Here's all you do.
  1. Pick out you favorite Edmonton Journal person below.
  2. Click on their e-mail address - this will start your e-mail program
  3. In the subject line of your e-mail put something like The Don Hill Affair - Where are you?
  4. Write whatever you want but at a minimum ask the following. Why has the Edmonton Journal decided not to cover the firing of Don Hill by CBC?
  5. As a favour, please cc us at johnnyslow@gmail.com so we know you care. Please!
  6. Finally, if you ever get a response back, please e-mail it to us and we'll compile a summary of what the Edmonton Journal has to say on this matter and publish it here at Ralph's World.

OK. That's it. Scroll down to pick out your favorite Edmonton Journal person and write away.

Graham Thompson

Paula Simons

Alan Kellogg

Scott McKeen

Lorne Gunter

Terry McConnell

Linda Hughes
President & Publisher

Allan Mayer (picture not available)
Editor-in Chief

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Martha’s Monthly April 2005 

Martha says “no” to the Kentucky Fried Chicken franchising of Alberta’s Child Care

Martha and Henry get a lot of junk emails and one caught their eyes for an online franchise place offering franchise opportunities for Kentucky Fried Chicken, Dunkin'Donuts, and Petland. They also found, on that American website, that there are franchise opportunities for child care centers! That's right. In the U.S., you can franchise chicken and children with only a few clicks of the mouse. Martha just felt this was wrong. Child care needs to be outside of the realm of profit. Doesn't it? Well, not according to the Alberta government.

In spite of the federal government’s $5 Billion commitment to a national child care strategy, the Alberta Government has already indicated that it will not be participating, arguing that national standards mean a “lack of choice” for parents.
The Province's Minister for Children's Services, Heather Forsyth, says that the Government would rather take its share of the money and set up its own system – one that would allow parents to spend day-care dollars where they see fit. While we wish to support parents’ choices for child care, we are concerned that Alberta’s lack of commitment to a comprehensive, regulated and public child care strategy will signal more of the same—increased privatization of child care, low wages for child care workers, lack of quality and lack of systemic accountability for Alberta’s most vulnerable.

By any objective standard, the Alberta government's provisions for child care are inadequate.
In a number of national studies Alberta's child care (particularly in the for-profit sector) has ranked among the poorest in the country. Not only has Alberta’s spending for regulated child care steadily decreased since the early 1990s, but Alberta’s allocation for regulated spaces and for each child 0-12 years has fallen to that of the lowest in Canada (Child Care Resource and Research Unit) Within the province of Alberta, the significant decline in service over a number of years may be clearly linked to a lack of accountability and self-assessment. There appears to be little needs assessment and planning in place; so that in cities such as Calgary, where the number of working families with young children has been growing rapidly, waiting lists for high quality child care programs are extensive. For example, in a recent radio interview, staff from Mt. Royal College's Child Development Centre reported that children were waiting up to two years to be admitted to their program.

While the introduction of accreditation to Alberta has been a positive move, there are a number of systemic issues that need to be addressed if that initiative is ever to be successful. The quality of care offered in many licensed child care centres remains problematic; child care operators find it difficult to hire and retain trained caregivers; salaries are low and staff turnover is typically high. Women make up 98.3% of child care workers so this is an issue for women on so many levels. One college educator told Martha that she finds it hard to recommend the career for her students when she knows she is saddling them with low pay, poor working conditions, and few opportunities for advancement.

Family Day Home Care is also in trouble. Recently, the Calgary Rocky View Child and Family Services Authority conducted a review of their Family Day Home Program. The review, begun in March 2002, was initiated in part because of concern about the steady decline in the number of approved family day homes and the high turnover of approved providers in the region following the de-regulation of family day homes in 1994. The final report noted: "Since December 1993, the number of approved homes has declined from 722 to 444, a decrease of almost 39%. In real numbers the decline in accessibility is much higher due to vigorous growth in the population of Calgary" (p.1, March, 2003). The report expressed concerns about the "growing number of private providers who are not subject to meeting any basic standards of care, nor are they connected with agencies that can offer them on-going training and support". It noted: "in the past year in Calgary, one private provider was charged with manslaughter in the death of a toddler; another was charged with aggravated assault for injuring a 21 month old girl by shaking her; and a third provider was charged with assault for pushing a child down the stairs (as reported in the Calgary Herald, May 10, 2002, June 7, 2002, October 10, 2002). Compounding these incidents was the recent finding in the “You Bet I Care Study” that over a third of Alberta agency-approved providers who were evaluated were ranked as offering only mediocre, or minimally adequate care" (p. 4).

Since that time, the situation regarding family day homes has further deteriorated—the number of agency-approved (regulated) providers has continued to decrease. The provincial decision to direct the accreditation process to family day home agencies, rather than to day home providers themselves (which is the common practice in most other jurisdictions) has meant that provincial efforts to improve quality apply to an even smaller number of home caregivers. In Alberta, the majority of day home providers are operating outside of any formal licensing or support system—a certain recipe for continuing abuse and mediocre care.

Provisions for special needs care, for rural and aboriginal child care are also extremely limited. In many other provinces there are excellent examples of innovative programs that meet families' needs in these areas; Alberta provides little in the way of support or incentives to develop them.

A number of these problems stem directly from Alberta's policy to leave the development of child care in the hands of commercial operators, thus treating the early education of children as a market commodity, and not as a public good. This focus on operating child care as a profit-making business rather than as a community service, however, has not worked and has contributed to the current mediocrity, inaccessibility and piecemeal care. Continuing present policies can only lead to more of the same--or worse--the "Kentucky Fried" franchising of child care by large-scale operators. While Colonel Sanders makes a mean piece of chicken, Martha says let’s keep child care out of the hands of the for-profit world. The federal proposals offer us an opportunity to develop community-based non-profit centres and day home programs where funding is directly invested in children, rather than into making profits that go into the pockets of corporations and their investors.

Many suggest that the national child care initiative penalizes those parents who choose to stay at home with their children, offering incentives only for working parents. However, participation in a national child care strategy need not preclude comprehensive assistance for parents who stay at home. It is Alberta policy makers who have tended to pit mothers who stay at home against those who work. We believe that a national child care strategy helps all mothers and fathers. Parents who stay at home should have access to community play groups, nursery schools, full day kindergartens, and other kinds of family support; parents who work should have access to affordable, accessible, quality care arrangements. Neither should have to scramble to find child care when needed nor worry about whether their children will be kept safe. Further, there is nothing to preclude the Province of Alberta from developing its own strategies to assist mothers and fathers who care for their children at home. The fact is that children are increasingly in the care of others. Does it not therefore make sense to endorse a strategy that is aimed at ensuring this care’s quality, accessibility and accountability?

Martha is indebted for much o
f the research and the following letter to a brand new Martha in Calgary who is concerned about the lack of public discussion on child care in Alberta. (Thanks, Irene!) If you, like her, want to see a quality, accessible, accountable system of child care in Alberta then please copy the following to Premier Klein at premier@gov.ab.ca, The Minister of Children’s Services, the Honourable Heather Forsyth calgary.fishcreek@assembly.ab.ca. Liberal opposition leader Kevin Taft at Edmonton.riverview@assembly.ab.ca, Weslyn Mather Liberal Critic for Children’s Services at Edmonton.millwoods@gov.ab.ca, New Democrat leader Brian Mason at Alison.Crawford@assembly.ab.ca, to Paul Hinman of the Alberta Alliance at cardston.taberwarner@assembly.ab.ca and back to us at marthasmonthly@yahoo.ca. Many Marthas have had good responses when they also sent the email to their own MLA. Find your MLA and contact info here. You may wish to consider sending your letter to your local paper.

Please do remember to put your name and address on the bottom of the letter.

April 8, 2005

Dear Premier Klein,

As a citizen of Alberta, I am deeply concerned about my province’s position on opting out of a National Child Care Strategy by recommending a “made in Alberta” solution.
Alberta should be taking advantage of this opportunity to work with others and to learn from the progressive work that is going on in other parts of the country and elsewhere.

Like you, we believe that parents ought to have “choice” in accessing the types of services that will best suit their family’s needs. However, we are concerned that, without adequate funding from the Province of Alberta, these choices are, in practice, extremely limited, and often force parents into impossible predicaments.

Many have suggested that the national child care initiative penalizes those parents who choose to stay at home with their children, offering incentives only for working parents. However, participation in a national child care strategy need not preclude comprehensive assistance for parents who stay at home. We believe that a national child care strategy helps all parents. Parents who stay at home should have access to community play groups, nursery schools, full-day kindergarten, and other kinds of family support. No parent should have to scramble to find childcare when it is needed nor worry about whether their children will be kept safe. Further, there is nothing to preclude the Province of Alberta from developing its own strategies to assist mothers and fathers who care for their children at home. The fact is that children are increasingly in the care of others. Does it not therefore make sense to participate in a strategy that is aimed at ensuring this care’s quality, accessibility and accountability?

Your Minister of Children’s Services, the Honourable Heather Forsyth, has talked about Alberta's "uniqueness" –sadly this uniqueness has more to do with patchwork, inaccessible and substandard care than to any other special circumstances. Given the wealth of resources available in this province, this neglect is unconscionable. Alberta needs to be held accountable for its neglect of child care and future moneys need to be directed to expanding the non-profit sector and to developing the basic infrastructure to support a quality system.

I strongly urge you, Mr. Klein, and your colleagues to rethink your position on child care and to explore more positive ways of participating in the national initiative.

Yours truly,


Edmonton Rally in Support of Don Hill 

Tuesday April 12th at 12:00 noon, a rally in support of the man at the left will be held outside of the CBC Edmonton broadcast facilities at 10061 - 102 Avenue.

Don Hill, ex-host of Wild Rose Forum, used to provide an hour a day, four of five days a week, of talk show content which provided a refreshing counter to the twenty five hours a week of right-wing commentary provided by David Rutherford and Charles Adler on commercial radio. CBC canned Don Hill claiming budget constraints and now fill that hour with gardening tips and other "feel good" material. CBC must feel that Albertans would be better off thinking about dandelions on the lawn rather than how the Province is run.

Don Hill was probably axed because he was asking some probing questions regarding corporate thieves Enron gaming the “Made in Alberta” electricity marketing system we are all blessed with. To catch up on all the details of this affair have a look at this letter to CBC President Robert Rabinovitch from a concerned Albertan.

So if you care about free speech in this Province of ours, plan to attend this rally. Speakers will include:


For further details please see www.friendsofdonhill.org and Friends of Canadian Broadcasting.

Friday, April 01, 2005

The Don Hill Affair Continued 

The picture at left is that of Don Hill, ex-host of CBC Alberta's Wild Rose Forum. What follows is another in a flood of letters written to CBC to protest his dismissal. The gnomes at Ralph's World are going to keep at this issue until the CBC either re-instates Mr. Hill or provides a credible reason as to why they will not.

You can see other postings about Don Hill's journey from host to ex-host by following links here, here, here, and here.

And here's the letter.

Mr. Robert Rabinovitch,
President & CEO,
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

Dear Mr. Rabinovitch:

If there was "newly unearthed evidence" suggesting that “Enron Corp. manipulated electricity system during deregulation’s early stages" in your province "to reap revenues of $ 45 Million in a single day" , (Edmonton Journal February 5, 2005 ) would CBC be interested?

I would think so.

And if one of the provincial companies named had, as its senior vice-president, a former Cabinet minister now touted (and campaigning) to be the next Premier of your Province, would your citizens be interested?

I would think so.

And if a radio host who had been investigating this new evidence was suddenly rendered “redundant” by the CBC, would the citizens be astounded? And, if listeners were given no word of explanation, would they be justifiably outraged -- and suspicious?

I would think so!

That is precisely the scenario in Alberta!

Don Hill, host of Alberta’s “Wild Rose Forum” phone-in program since January 2003, was in the midst of a series of programs based on startling evidence being disclosed in a court case in the State of Washington involving TransAlta, whose vice-president was Jim Dinning, “heir apparent for the premier’s job”. (See Edmonton Sun, March 20, 2005 below)

On February 28th, after his third program in the series, Don Hill was no longer on the air and not a word of explanation was given for his disappearance. Oddly enough, it took the Edmonton Sun to ask, “What happened to Don Hill? … CBC wouldn’t fire program hosts because of political heat. Would it?” the columnist asked.

For over a decade, while the very social fabric of our province was being torn apart, Albertans were bombarded from 9-12 weekdays by Global radio's 'Rush Limbaugh of the North' hosting provincial politicians and think tank 'experts' to reinforce their ideology. Meanwhile, CBC’s one-hour show hosted experts on how to grow tulips or, more appropriately, pansies!

I, for one, was totally fed up!

When Don Hill came from his flagship national programme January, 2003, it was a breath of fresh air.

He addressed topics of vital interest and importance to Albertans of all ages: environment, agriculture, water resources, healthcare, community values and above all, democratic principles. Don set a high standard of professionalism for Alberta phone-ins. Name-calling and disrespect were not allowed. His experts were always authentic and carefully chosen. Callers and guests of all viewpoints were treated with respect and courtesy. We heard voices from all ages and all walks of life in Alberta.

To fully understand how important this was to Albertans, one needs to understand the “information landscape” in our province, particularly since the Klein Government instituted unmatched ‘controls’ of information through the Public Affairs Bureau, reporting directly to the Premier, with a staff estimated to be as high as 240. ”. ("Premier Controls information with iron fist". Edmonton Journal May 15, 2004)

And government officials admit to exerting direct pressure on the media. CBC NewsReal website states that the Premier’s chief adviser, Rod Love, contacts journalists and bosses/editors directly, and“…If coverage is still not to the government’s liking, that journalist is cut off which means no access to the premier or good stories”.

Also now that corporations are allowed to own multi-media formats television, newspaper and radio often ‘ape’ each other’s reports, all the while seeking to appear totally independent of one another.

And the new branch of the Fraser Institute in Calgary has added to the imbalance and increased pressure against the CBC in Alberta.

Albertans are bombarded with “spin” in many formats. Don Hill undertook the almost impossible job of “un-spinning the spin”. He presented information, facts and figures. His guests were always of high calibre and well respected in their field of expertise.

Above all, Don’s overall knowledge was able to discount and challenge blatant untruths that only too often get aired as “facts” – even in CBC programmes – because the host is not aware of the discrepancy.

But the “breath of fresh air” has suddenly become a chill, not only in the CBC but also throughout the journalistic field in Alberta.

One question that requires an answer is: Was Don Hill’s investigative and expansive programming a positive influence in a province whose government tends to be linking its citizens more closely with President Bush and Dick Cheney than with their own national government and fellow provinces?

While opening an Alberta office in Washington this past week, Premier Klein was presumed to be speaking for all Albertans when he told reporters, “We’re great supporters of President Bush and Vice-President Cheney”. Really? During the U.S. election, a Time magazine poll showed that a majority of Albertans thought John Kerry would make a better president than George Bush, and placed Environmental issues near the top of Albertans’ list of concerns.
(Edmonton Journal Ed p.5 Mar 26, 2005)

Yet, what opportunity has been given those Albertans to hear their own voices on crucial issues on Talk Radio in their own province? A mere one hour per weekday! How else can many Albertan citizens realize that they are the‘majority’. Not the ones demanding that Alberta ’opt’ out of national healthcare and Kyoto. Not the ones seeking to build a “firewall” against our sister provinces.

Albertans are facing incredible pressures of “Separation” by politicians and the media. Polls consistently show that the majority of Albertans are proud to be Canadians and want to their province to accept its responsibilities, to ensure values of fairness and equity in their communities, Canada and the world. Yet these voices are seldom heard.

As an avid CBC listener, I find it impossible to even imagine that my publicly-owned Broadcaster could possibly ‘cave-in’ to pressures. But this action of the CBC leaves me only the two options: either the CBC executives are totally, totally out of touch with their listeners and CBC’s responsibility to the local communities; or someone has caved in to pressures from internal or external pressures – either perceived or real.

For this is not the first time a prominent journalist has suddenly disappeared, or been demoted to nighttime copy-editor. And only in Alberta could a public health physician working for a (government-appointed) Regional Health Authority be “fired” for writing an article in support of Kyoto.

For many of us, the timing on this host’s investigation, and the political sensitivity of the topics involved, leave many unanswered questions.

I would urge the CBC to reinstate Don Hill, and also provide him with at least a producer, for his hour-long show. Citizens are well aware that the new 60 Million Dollars for CBC in the Federal Budget was for ‘local programming’.

It is not too late to reinstate Don Hill. With all due respect, I would urge the CBC not ‘build on mistake’ – but ‘fix a mistake’, and let us go forward to build an even stronger and more vibrant and supportive base of CBC listeners across Alberta.

I fear that doing otherwise will permanently erode even the base that now exists in this province, and for those elsewhere who are becoming more and more aware of Don Hill’s departure.


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