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    MLA report February 15

    Hello Chestermere! I have not seen this much snow in ages! I keep thinking that the Chinook must be just around the corner, but the mountains of snow keep piling up. As pretty as it is, I can’t wait for warmer, mushier days and lots of melting snow.
    I would love to know what you think about the ban on BC wines. Our Premier said to B.C. Premier John Horgan that this is her plan to counteract his plan to restrict diluted bitumen shipments and further study oil spill risks of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. I am glad to see that the Premier is standing up to B.C, but I’m not sure that this was the best decision. Jason Kenny, the leader of the UCP Official Opposition, has suggested that all parties in Alberta come together to for an emergency debate in the house to offer their view on the stall tactics of the B.C government. We could then “unanimously call on the federal government to use one of the many legal tools at their disposal to squash B.C.’s attack on the Alberta economy.” This show of unity in our province would emphasize the need to act to the Federal government. It is time to come together and work together for the sake of the province, and Canadian prosperity.
    This week I was privileged to meet many of the amazing stakeholders who work with our most vulnerable people, spending a couple of very emotionally charged days up in the Capital. I met with Parents Empowering Parents (PEP) and spoke with founder Maralyn Benay about family centered care for our children and families faced with addictions. This amazing group, whose full year budget is just over $100,000, holds weekly meetings and has psychologists on hand to help keep families together as they navigate addictions.
    The wonderful folks at Align bring together many service providers in Alberta who help families in need, keep families together, and aid vulnerable children who are in the care of the province to keep ties to their families when they have been apprehended. I also met with the phenomenal Mary Jane James of the Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton (SACE) who literally changes lives everyday by empowering those who have suffered and survived these horrible crimes.
    The inspiring team at Metis Child and Family Services led by Don Langford help foster families and provide support groups for children who are in the care of Alberta Child and Youth Services.
    I met with many incredible people who work with children who are survivors of sexual abuse. I realize this is hard to read, and that it is difficult to comprehend, but it is imperative to understand this real evil and despicable reality. The folks that work with these munchkins are super human, and the children are real live heroes. They are resilient and phenomenal little human beings. We visited the Little Warriors BE BRAVE ranch that houses some of the most seriously vulnerable and abused children in the province. It is funded through donations and is supported by Theoren Fleury of Flames fame. They work with children and their families to heal those who could be destroyed by these horrendous acts. This impressive facility houses, treats and builds relationships with these beautiful children. I also toured the Zebra Child Protection Centre and met with CEO Bill Meade. This wonderful gentleman decided to take on the task of going after offenders and making sure that children who have been sexually assaulted have their day in court, they are prepared and protected, and that the family or caregiver is helped to cope with the unimaginable stresses of court and having to relive and retell the stories of abuse. They have created this fantastic and safe space in downtown Edmonton to bring these families in to provide psychological help, court preparation, quiet rooms, and a special toy room. They have therapy dogs on site to cuddle the children and to accompany them into the court room. Finally, I met one of my favorite people, Del Graff from the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate. Del has one of the most difficult jobs in the world. He is responsible to report on children who have died while in the care of the province. He works tirelessly to try and fix the gaps in the system so that no more children will die. This is his goal, and it certainly is mine. As the critic for Children Services I truly believe that there is nothing more important than the care of our children, and the love and support for those that are vulnerable. This was a life altering week for me, and I hope that this article, as hard as it is to write, inspires you to perhaps donate your time and or energy to these amazing groups that change the lives of these incredible survivors.
    Volunteer firefighters make up over 70% of Alberta’s firefighters. Trained to the same standards as full-time fire personnel these members of your community are always “on-call”. Since “first call” in 1992 the Langdon Fire Department has been a vital part of fire services in SE Rocky View. Home of Rocky View’s Heavy Rescue Unit and other specialized equipment, they are supported by the Langdon Volunteer Firefighters Association (LVFA) which over the years has raised over $300,000 to purchase equipment which is then donated to Rocky View County Emergency Services. I was honoured to speak this past weekend at the Fire And Ice Casino fundraiser at the Indus Rec Centre in support of the LVFA (80%) and the Langdon Outdoor Rink (20%). I also spoke at the 9th Annual Kilt Skate in honour of the birth of Sir John A. MacDonald and Canada’s Scottish heritage. Thanks to Robert Henderson and the St. Andrews Caledonian Society, Calgary’s oldest society (since 1884), for the invitation and the chance to hear “oh Canada” sung in Gaelic! As always, we love to hear from you.