Hello Chestermere! Can you believe it’s almost February? I’m shocked at how fast the time flies and how much can change in such a short time. This week I had the pleasure of meeting with some of our Rocky View councilors both returning and new, and it is a pleasure to know that we are surrounded on all sides by hard working and passionate people who care a great deal about the communities surrounding Chestermere and working together with our new Chestermere council. I look forward to formally meeting with the new Chestermere council as well.
It has been a quite a week in the political world. Both PC leaders, Patrick Brown in Ontario, and Jamie Baillie in Nova Scotia stepped down with in 24 hours of each other over sexual misconduct allegations. Then also within that period allegations against The Minister for Sports and Disabilities Kent Hehr were added to the list, along with Darshan Kang who still has had no investigation into the allegations laid against him for sexual misconduct last summer.
I have to tell you I am completely at a loss. I have met with many of you this past week from wing night in Delacour to the Waiting Room Café and many other places. One thing I can say is that I am glad we are having this discussion. As you know I have 2 sons and like the rest of the parents out there, we worry about our kids and their future. We worry about things like their jobs, security, and the lives they will lead once they leave us, and I can tell you this has been discussed around our kitchen counter.
I am very proud of the brave women who stepped forward, and I can’t imagine how hard that must have been. No one should have to work in conditions where they feel unsafe, or to feel isolated especially on Parliament Hill or in the Alberta Legislature where there is a lot of power and a lot of young staffers. We have to look at the culture we are living in now, and understand that we want people to feel confident to come forward. It takes guts and courage. We also need to look at what we can do to change the cycle, so that our youth learn and continue to respect each other and hold each other in the highest regard.
Things like Rona Ambrose’s Bill C-337 that mandates training for judges on sexual assault law, as the language and stereotypes around persons subjected to sexual assault needs to change. As of October 2017, a few Liberal and Independent senators were still blocking this bill from going to committee. This is about education, and it is about what once may have been acceptable may no longer be the norm. We need to know and care about what constitutes sexual harassment in the work place. It is about real and common-sense discussions and awareness. It is overwhelming I know, but we need to look at this and see what good can come from it, and in my opinion any time we can look at a situation, and change it for the better, then we should do that. This is a big deal, and the court of public opinion is strong. These victims have the right to come out, and the accused deserve their day in court as well. Let’s hope that what we gain from this knowledge surpasses the frustration we feel right now. We are an empathetic society, one would call an advanced society. That empathy needs to be part of this discussion. The “grey” areas around this is huge and we need to have proper processes in place and to keep talking about it.
A year ago we joined the country in mourning the violence against the Islamic community when a gunman opened fire on a Mosque in Quebec on January 29, 2018. We were shocked by the deadly violence, and the outpouring of sympathy was palatable. We honour those who died and those who were injured in country where we pride ourselves on freedoms, fundamental freedoms such as: freedom of conscience, freedom of religion, freedom of thought, freedom of belief, freedom of expression, freedom of the press and of other media of communication, freedom of peaceful assembly, and freedom of association.
I recently came back from a trip to India where I visited my wonderful family. I had the opportunity to lecture at a few venues and meet with some wonderful folks involved in some very interesting infrastructure ventures, and in every speech, and in every meeting, I spoke about my home, and how grateful I am to live here. When I get off the plane in Calgary, I actually put my hands on the ground for a moment. I am so proud to live in this amazing country. I attended an Eid event this week and the spiritual leader of that group, the Imam, said that they as a Muslim community have more rights here in Canada as Muslims than they do in their own counties of origin. We are all so unbelievably lucky to share this country with such amazing and diverse cultures. Any government or organization that tells you we do not care as a society about diversity is wrong. Our country and our province and as people we are all immigrants to this country, with the exception of our First Nations. Governments will make you feel like you are not accepting of New Comers, or that we are “xenophobic”. We can always do better to learn more about different cultures, but do not let governments make you feel like we don’t understand diversity. We do, and we live within that everyday, learning something new about our neighbours and building strong communities that are accessible to all people.
On a final note, I would like to send my condolences to Carol Smailes and her family who lost our dear friend Harold this week. Harold we are going to miss your big smiles and warm heart. We would also like to send our condolences to the Krieger family of Calgary. Their daughter Morghan was part of our musical theatre company out here in Chestermere and she passed away at the age of 19 on January 18, 2018. This beautiful young musician donated all her organs and has saved many lives as a result of organ donation. As always we love to here from you.