... Edmonton, on the world stage, and under the microscope
E LaMont Gregory MSc Oxon
... under the dome, or under the pointed hood, that is the question
the election of Amarjeet Sohi, as Mayor of Edmonton, has propelled Edmonton onto the world stage, and adds to the bewilderment as to how, Alberta's provincial government got the response to the pandemic so horribly and deadly wrong, and being on the world stage has placed politicians, the press, protectives services, the pulpit, & the people under the microscope
The Edmonton Journal/Sun (1), and this is an old story, began its post-election reporting of the 2021 municipal elections, as follows:
"Amarjeet Sohi is Edmonton’s next mayor, making him the first person of colour to lead the city. Sohi, ... will lead the most diverse council in Edmonton’s history, with eight women and four people of colour at the table of 13 ... ."
If, one does the math, there are 12 city councilors, 1 mayor, described as 'of colour', and the other 9 members of city council are, for lack of a more satisfactory explanation, colourless.
Later in the same Edmonton Journal article, in relation to the city council election in Ward Karhiio, we learn that by the term 'people of colour' in the Journal's typical high racialized community resentment genre news reporting, are "non-white".
Seven of the new councilors are women, for a total of eight including incumbent Coun. Sarah Hamilton, the most in the city’s history. With eight women and four people of colour, including mayor-elect Amarjeet Sohi, this is the most diverse council Edmontonians have elected (2).
It begs the question, can one infer from the fact that 60 women stood trial before War Crimes Tribunals between 1945 and 1949, and 21 were executed, that the Nazi regime was diverse?
Mayor-elect Sohi, offered a more thoughtful approach to the subject, when he stated that " ... diversity means people coming from different perspectives, from different lived experiences coming to the decision-making table to have those innovative and different perspectives in solving issues ... "
... protective services 1
the activity of trying to findcompletely new ideas
Edmonton City Council voted to increase the Edmonton Police Service's budget by one million, nearly 11 million less than the police service had requested. And, at the same time, the councillors decided to use some of an amount approximately equal to what they did not add to the budget the police requested, to test the feasibility of the addition of those trained in emergency mental health crisis interventions, among others, as police service responders.
That decision, surprise surprise, raised the ire of the overt version of the slightly more subtle Edmonton Journal, the Edmonton Sun, in broadcast media terms, CTV.
It should be remembered that the editors and columnists of the Journal and of the Sun, and the editors and newsreaders of CTV, are entitled to their respective opinions, when labelled clearly as such, but they are not entitled to create their own facts.
It may not be known generally that not only is the Edmonton Police Service the most costly, on a per capita basis, in Alberta, but is also the second most costly police service among the 25 largest cities in Canada as a whole (3). More on this later.
The Sun article makes the following astonishing statement, "Did anyone ask you whether you wanted to pay more taxes for blue-sky theories on homelessness and community safety versus more policing?"
There is a lot of nonsense packed into this question. First, there is no such thing as 'blue-sky theories', that phrase falls into the category of press speech, as in the creation of new words and morphosyntactic constructions, incoherency.
The concept, blue-sky thinking, however, actually exists, and by definition, is the activity of trying to find completely new ideas.
The idea of incorporating appropriately trained mental health personnel into emergency police response, for example, whether it is a 3am or any other time of the day or night, may not exist in scale to date, but it is not because people have not thought about it, and therefore, it is not 'blue-sky thinking'.
For example, the Edmonton Police have acknowledged the need for expanded response capabilities, but have stated that “Until we get other people – health, social services, ... co-ordinated and at the table, then when you call somebody at 3 o’clock in the morning, the only number you have are the police.” It should be noted that few, if any, advocate for a separate number to be called, but for a response service integrated into the current structure to address mental health crisis incidents.
The statement by the Edmonton Police is not a serious one, in fact, a forensic 'discourse analysis' of the statement reveals it to be argumentative, as opposed to narration, description or exposition.
Further, the police respondent not only held the question in disdain, but as indicated by the highly inflammatory reference to the '... when you call someone at 3 o'clock in the morning', the respondent was also directing their disdain towards the questioner. Very few people, in fact, ever call anyone at 3 o'clock in the morning for any reason, whatsoever.
Not serious, when addressing the actions of a professional organization that exists within the scope of the public trust, whose agents earn from the public purse, on average 80,000+ dollars a year, is to say that the statement was unprofessional. The question then becomes, was this response characteristic or uncharacteristic of the Edmonton Police Service.
For the sake of clarity, and as way to move the inclusion of mental health crisis intervention capabilities
Perhaps, the new council and mayor will use some of the money available to move that innovation forward, because in final analysis, we want every call for police presence to be addressed appropriately, that is, putting our best foot forward, so to speak.
The remainder of the Sun article is just more of the 'we uphold the real values' far-right gibberish that leads to children in unmarked graves by the thousands, an out of control pandemic, and Sun readers still using the 'dry cough' to express their dislike for non-Journal/Sun/CTV adherents.
... conduct unbecoming an MP
... six deplorables, now face ethics inquiries, which none of them will survive, resignations and by-elections, loom
Five smiling Saskatchewan MPs and Sen. Denise Batters pose at a protest against COVID-19 restrictions in Ottawa. While shocked Ottawa residents witness protesters brandishing Nazi and Confederate flags parade through the city's downtown core mere steps from Parliament Hill.
Pictured in the photo, from left to right, MPs Warren Steinley, Kevin Waugh, Andrew Scheer, Sen. Denise Batters, MPs Fraser Tolmie and Rosemarie Falk. (Kevin Waugh/Twitter)
The latest example is the way the Journal, Sun and CTV are reporting on the trucker anti-mandate, so-called 'freedom convoy' event, which appears to be, in part, a major fundraiser for the Medicine Hat based 'Wexit' group, albeit surreptitiously.
Perhaps, it is a sign of our times that Canadian flag waving supporters of the anti-mandate convoy, are actually funding a group of people who want the split Canada asunder, and preach hatred. And, Canadian flag clad participants in the charade, stand shoulder-to-shoulder with hate speech waving confederate flags and anti-Semitic symbols.
Interestingly, the interim Conservative opposition leader, Candice Bergen, expressed support for the mask-shunning protesters, who are engaged in a super-spreader event in the middle of a pandemic. Bergen's term in office will be short-lived, and her Marjorie Taylor-Green clone act will also end abruptly, like a candle in the wind.
GoFundMe, in response to donors who were surprised to learn that they were donating to an Alberta-based separatist group, as well as, American and European intelligence agency inquiries, have frozen the millions that the Wexit group has raised, so far, pending an investigation, it appears that the source of some of the international donations, have even reached the attention of the post-McFadden CSIS.
What role, if any, the RCMP is playing in these investigations, is a complete and utter mystery.
It should be rather obvious that GoFundMe failed its obligation of due diligence, when we learned that contrary to GoFundMe rules and regulations for setting up an account with their service, which requires that a plan be filed when that account is established, stating in detail as to how the funds will be distributed, and how one qualifies to receive the funds. These plans must, naturally, be in accordance with the stated goal of the GoFundMe account.
No such plan was in place when GoFundMe, contrary to their own rules and regulations, and relevant banking regulations, allowed the separatist group to open the account ostensibly to provide financial assistance to truck drivers who wanted to participate in the super spreader, so-called anti-vaccine mandate freedom convoy event. Simply stated, the separatist hate group took in millions with no plans to assist anyone, whatsoever, other than themselves.
This could not be possible, if there were not separatists hate pandering sympathizers within the upper echelons of the GoFundMe organization. How many other hate groups are GoFundMe helping? An understanding of the chief executives, even that derived from open-source material, of that organization, is revealing.
Returning to our primary subject matter: Why is this important? In a phrase, the mental health problems associated with LongHaul-Covid-19, are already being felt by the heath service and the Edmonton Police Service as well. The problem for the cabal of right-wing media outlets, is that those experiencing acute mental health crises are not the people for the most part that the Sun does not care about, and that is the rub.
It is difficult to draw a direct parallel between the moral equivalence expressed by the Journal/Sun/CTV media cabal's pandemic coverage, in which they flaunted the idea that they 'just wanted to show that there is two sides to the pandemic debate i.e., social distancing, mask wearing and vaccinations, on the one side, and freedom from such measures, on the other'.
The arbiter between these two schools of thought is, of course, epidemiological outcomes, which can be quantified, and thereby removed from the ethereal world of high racialized community resentment Conservative media storytelling.
While Kenney, Hinshaw and McFee bury their collective heads in the sand, the problem continues to grow. The scale of the problem has been described as nothing less than a tsunami of mental health disorders.
What does the Mayor and fire chief of St Albert, former premier Rachel Notley, Premier Jason Kenney and his junior minister of firefighting, an associate of Mayor Sohi, who was a government official in a previous administration, the chief of fire services in Edmonton, the director of the Edmonton fire training center, and the Canadian Space Agency, all have in common?
A fire in Edmonton, according to professional assessments, estimated 100,000 dollars in fire damage, and 700,000 dollars in water damage to put the fire out. If that sounds incredible, it is.
It stands to reason, that diverting a river on to a farmer's field to irrigate it, is just as likely to flood the field.
What the aforementioned list of government, fire officials and scientists have in common, is that each of them was aware that there was an alternative to causing 700,000 dollars in water damage, to extinguish a 100,000 dollar fire, when it occurred.
To lay foundation for a later discussion of how the 800,000+ dollars involved in this one fire works its way through the economy, we have to introduce another FIRE industry in Edmonton.
... Edmonton's other F.I.R.E. industry
FIRE is an acronym for the Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate industry.
The FIRE industry employs some 40,000 people locally, nearly 6% of the Edmonton labour force, and contributes just shy of $10.0 billion dollars to local economic activity, which equates to nearly 20% of Edmonton’s GDP.
Finance industry analysts speak in terms of the complimentary nature of Alberta's two main financial centers, Calgary and Edmonton, the former specializes in financing for the energy sector, while Edmonton is geared towards banking and risk management.
Edmonton has a very good balance sheet, which is a product of its core strengths, its social vitality.
Simon O’Byrne of the design firm Stantec, suggested that " ... places like Edmonton are ideally situated in a VUCA age (i.e. a time of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity). Markets seek certainty and stability. Edmonton is that place.
It has, perhaps, the best public education system on the planet.
It is a meritocracy where refugee children go to school with children that fly first class. That just doesn’t happen almost anywhere on Earth.
Edmonton is one of the most inclusionary cities. 1/3 of us was born outside of Canada. Almost 40% of Edmonton are visible minorities. 1/3 of us can speak a language other than English or French.
We have some of the best higher education institutions.
We are also an affluent region, where ¼ households makes more than $100,000 a year. Almost 80% of households spend less than 30% of their income on housing, which is an enormous competitive advantage over many coastal cities.
So why does this all matter? Because in a VUCA world, we are the model to follow. We are the safe, resilient and surest bet. We are the place you want to invest. To move to and raise a family. The place where the business climate is fertile for growth.”
... in contrast to Edmonton as an inclusive meritocracy
In contrast to the strengths of one of the most inclusive meritocracies on this planet, Edmonton is saddled with an anachronistic, divisive, and highly reactionary print and broadcast media.
A press that touts our police chief's criticism of those who dare criticize him on social media, a police chief who must depend on the grace of public cooperation to be successful. Which places McFee just one step shy of having balloon effigies of himself, wearing a diaper, parading down Jasper Avenue.
Not to mention the long overdue discussion of nepotism in Edmonton public administration.
And, now that our divisive press and media realize that the last horse they championed into the premiership, Jason Kenney, is being relegated to the ash pile of sordid pandemic response history. Our every ready print and broadcast media are trying to warm their slice of the public imagination, to a return of Rachel Notley, a wholly degenerate (lacking normal and desirable moral qualities) and highly repugnant (extremely distasteful and unacceptable) idea.
A rational press and media would call attention to this so-called freedom convoy, and at least caution as to its potential as a super-spreader event, but that would require an informative and responsible position in relation to matters of public health.
1. Joannou A., CookD., Wakefield J. 'Amarjeet Sohi is Edmonton's next mayor; record number of women elected', Edmonton Journal, 19 October, 2021.
2. Cook D., 'Edmonton election: Meet the eight new faces to serve on city council following Monday's historic vote'. Cook D., Edmonton Journal, 21 October, 2021