Going Forward; My New Path

 

A year and a half ago, when I started my leadership bid, my campaign cofounders - Andrew Doherty and Laura Wiebe - and I made one promise to each other: if we could not find a better candidate, I would run.
For us, the most important thing was our Vision. As Alberta Liberals, we wanted a candidate who was more than a face for the Alberta Liberal Party. For like Rutherford and Sifton, any new leader must be willing to do more than speak for Calgary and Edmonton. A new leader should speak to the issues of Red Deer, Medicine Hat, Lethbridge and Fort Mac. A new leader needed to speak to the problems of both rural and urban Alberta. Only by building a party that could contest each of the 87 ridings could we do that.

Like Nellie McClung, Laurie Blakeman and Kent Hehr, that leader needed to have the courage to speak for Albertans who didn't have a voice. For only in finding that Courage could we as a party attack the real economic, political and social concerns of the province.

Up until three weeks ago, I was the only Liberal who was willing to talk to those very real issues. Recently, that has changed.

After a number of conversations, another Alberta Liberal who shares my Team's vision has approached us. We have decided that only through partnership can Alberta have a pragmatic, evidence based political force that can accomplish the great number of challenges that are before us.

Conseqeuntly, I will put my aspirations to the side to help build my Party and my Province. For me, it has always been about the Vision. This path, while different, does not sacrifice the intent: creating a sustainable, evidence based party who will provide the most benefit to the most people without harming the interests of the Few or the Other.
Please join me on this new Adventure. 
Yours truly,
Russell Scantlebury

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On Affordable Housing

“Nearly 130 properties managed by Capital Region Housing are under scrutiny after a broken furnace leaked and sent a family of six to hospital with symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.

‘This occurring is quite rare,’ said Greg Dewling, executive director of Capital Region Housing.

The family was allowed to return to their south Edmonton townhouse after treatment Friday. 

‘It was an older furnace,’ Dewling said. "There was a malfunction in the furnace that caused the creation of some carbon monoxide.” 

  • Subsidized homes to be inspected after CO leak sends family of 6 to hospital, By Zoe Todd, CBC News, Last Updated: Oct 22, 2016 7:58 AM MT 

Since the end of World War Two, Alberta Social Housing has been provided by organizations which are directly or indirectly controlled by the federal or provincial governments. There are many examples of developments which were started or controlled by the Canadian Mortgage Housing Corporation or various provincial agencies in Calgary and Edmonton.

However, we do have a problem: the commitment of those same governments to the area of social housing. Under Brian Mulroney and Jean Chretien, any direct federal role in the creation of housing was ended. This role has so dramatically changed that social housing became for all practical purpose an area of provincial responsibility. Consequently more than 40% of all social housing in Alberta is no provided, directly or indirectly, by the province of Alberta. This would include Capital Region Housing (CRHC) and the Calgary Housing Corporation (CHC). 

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On Public Education In Alberta

So let’s be clear: if a provincial legislature passes a Law – until such time as it is ruled unconstitutional by the relevant Court of Law – it is the responsibility of the Crown to enforce that Law. This is a simple and important principle in our system. In a country which is ruled by Laws, Laws must be followed. It seems that the Government of Rachel Notley is failing this test.

While, Education Minister David Eggen said that he had “not ruled out defunding a Christian school board that has refused to comply with legislation on gay-straight-alliances”; (Alberta education minister could defund Baptist school board defying LGBTQ law, By Andrea Huncar, CBC.ca, Last Updated: Sep 05, 2016) by asking for an inquiry and not enforcing the Alberta School Act, Minister Eggen has not enforced a change to the law made by the Prentice Government. By not acting decisively and with some speed and alacrity, Minister Eggen has shown a lack of courage and an inability to enforce the law as it is written.

With that being said, where do we go from here? I believe that the Legislature should act. It should defund any school board that isn’t in compliance with the Alberta School Act. If the Act is a symbolic demonstration of the Province’s, any school that doesn’t abide by the Act should not receive public support. If we truly believe in the Rule of Law; this is not harsh, this is what we have to do.

 

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On Alberta's Fentanyl Crisis

If you want to understand why Fentanyl has become a big issue, one has to look at the history of fighting other legal and illegal drugs including the fight against Opioids, Methamphetamines and OxyContin. About a decade ago, many opioids started appearing through illicit channels, or put another way, on “the street”. Drug syndicates were able to illegally obtain – either through synthesis or purchase – new and highly powerful addictive substances. These substances, including Methamphetamines and OxyContin, were largely derived from new medical knowledge.

At first, drug experts/analysts felt they could control the problem by making it more difficult to synthesize these very same drugs. They changed some drugs formulation, controlled precursors or actual drugs themselves. However, that didn’t work. As noted by Camille Bains of Canada Press, when the Canadian Version of Oxycontin was reformulated and the old version pulled off the shelves, addicts switched to heroin or fentanyl. (Canada’s move to control fentanyl chemicals not enough to stem crisis: expert, by Camille Bains, The Canadian Press, Published by the National Post, Sept. 1, 2016 10:49 AM ET).

Consequently, any politician who claims that there is a quick fix is probably wrong. The solving of the Opioid Addiction issue will likely require much cost and effort due to the endemic nature of the problem. The question for most of us is where to start. My solution is simple: don’t recreate the wheel & adopt solutions that already work. 

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“Impossible is Nothing” : A speech given to the 2016 Joint Red Deer Alberta Liberal Party AGM

With the recent death of Muhammad Ali, one of his more powerful quotes came to rest on my ears:

“Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they've been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It's an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It's a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.”

That quote, to me, sums up our challenge. The Alberta Liberal Party can become Government in 2019, if we accept one truth: “Impossible is nothing.” Peter Lougheed and Rachel Notley came to government because they accepted that fact.

However, they also understood another set of truths: Albertans are open-minded and, to paraphrase Anita Van Herk, Alberta is a province of mavericks. From First Nations who continue to fight for their voice, to farmers who tilled the soil to Oil Men who have built billions and billions of dollars of wealth, we are a province of unconventional and brave people.

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On Reforms to the Canada Pension Plan

Some might ask why a potential Alberta Liberal Party leadership candidate would talk about the Canada Pension Plan. Isn’t it a Federal program with Federal rules? Well, the truth is that the Constitution defines it as a provincial sphere of power. A long time ago, the provinces invited the federal government into their sphere of power. So today, for the most part, it is administered jointly. It is true that Quebec manages and administers its own program – the QPP – however, since that same program is fully exchangeable with the CPP, one could say all ten provinces work together in this one area.

Consequently, the Government of Alberta, through the Premier, works with the Federal Government and the 9 other provincial governments to make sure that the Canada Pension Plan operates well and in the best interest of all of us. We do so on a consensual basis; therefore, it is important for me to talk about it. 

When the Canada Pension Plan came into being, a few assumptions were made, consciously or not. One assumption would be that as Canadians retired, they would own their own homes. Given that Canadians owned their own home, for the most part, retired Canadians would be debt free. Consequently, the amount of money needed in retirement would be small. One would need enough money to buy groceries, pay for small maintenance and utilities. Furthermore, people didn’t live long after retirement. Famously, most people lived no more 5 to 10 years after their retirement (or turning 65) in 1966. Coupled with private sector pensions, savings and some investments, the thinking was simple: most Canadians would be okay with a small stipend.

However, in 2016, we will have to ask more of the Canada Pension Plan and there are many reasons for this. For more than a decade, we have heard the same reasons. Most Canadians don’t max out their RRSP contributions, nor do they have access to a private sector pension plans. Most Canadians don’t have an emergency fund that has the equivalent of three to six months of savings in it; at the same time, we have larger debt burdens and live pay cheque to pay cheque.

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On Vaccinations in a Free and Fair Democracy

“The right to determine what shall or shall not, be done with one’s own body, and to be free from non-consensual medical treatment, is a right deeply rooted in our common law. This right underlies the doctrine of informed consent. With very limited exceptions, every person’s body is considered inviolate, and, accordingly, every competent adult has the right to be free from unwanted medical treatment”

  • Ontario Court of Appeal decision 1991, Fleming v. Reid

 

More than 100 years of science shows that vaccines are an effective way of controlling diseases. Since 1796, human beings have been using vaccines to control any number of diseases. For in 1796, a country doctor living in Berkeley, Gloucestershire, England named Edward Jenner developed the world’s first vaccination. That vaccination was for cowpox and, to a lesser extent, smallpox.

Since their creation, though, vaccinations have been the cause of many social concerns and apprehensions that have led to much public policy debate and anxiety. Some of these fears of inoculating agents are deep-seated and some of the fear is merited. Quebec, for example, has a no-fault compensation plan. Started in 1986, it was an outcome of one’s person poor outcome with the process. Her name was Nathalie Lapierre. After she received her shot, she developed viral encephalitis that lead to severe and permanent disabilities. 

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An Open Letter to our Leadership Co-Chairs and our New Executive

2019 is a long way away, but Peter Lougheed and Rachel Notley have shown us one thing: in Alberta, a party with few seats can become Government. With Kevin Feehan and Nirmala Naidoo as co-chairs and a new executive, the Alberta Liberal Party is on the cusp of a new era.

My optimism might initially seem strange but it is founded in this province. Premiers Lougheed and Notley understood one simple thing. They knew – long before Anita Van Herk used the phrase – that Alberta is a province of mavericks. From First Nations who continue to fight for their voice, to farmers who tilled the soil to Oil Men who have built Billions and Billions of dollars of wealth, we are a province of unconventional and brave people. 

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April 30, 2016

I have a saying, it is simple: “Family First”. That saying is a reminder to me that life is not always perfect and neither am I. With that being said, I can and will be there for my family when they call. Consequently, it won’t surprise anyone that on the 14th of May, I will be attending a funeral for a family member instead of joining you at the Alberta Liberal Party AGM.

However, while my May 14th event will be cancelled, it does not mean an end to what we have started. In June, I will be back on the road and touring the province to speak about the renewal and revitalization of the Alberta Liberal Party. The same love that I learned from my parents needs to be extended to each resident of the province of Alberta.  As a province, we should cherish each resident because, in a moment, each one of us could become sick, jobless or homeless. Each one of us could be impacted by a death, disability or an infirmity. It is the responsibility of government to be there to ensure that we don’t fall through the cracks.

So as the Alberta Liberal Party AGM carries on, I hope we can all remember the vulnerable among us and what our government can do to protect them; because, that person one day might be you. Consequently, let us pitch in to rebuild the Alberta Liberal Party to protect ourselves, our family, our friends and our Alberta.

 

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What happens to Alberta when much of the World follows Chile’s lead?

“Solar power is now the cheapest source of electricity in Chile, according to Deutsche Bank AG.

That conclusion is based on the results of an energy auction in October when renewable projects offered the lowest prices and won contracts to supply 1,200 gigawatt-hours of power, Deutsche Bank analyst Vishal Shah said in a report Tuesday.

That may lead to more than 1 gigawatt of new solar capacity installed in Chile this year, Shah said. It will help the country reach a target set in 2014 by Chile’s government of having 45 percent of its installed electric capacity powered by renewable sources.”

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