Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Surprise, Surprise, Surprise, City Approves Cycle Tracks

To the surprise of no one Calgary City Council has approved downtown cycle tracks, albeit in a slim 8-7 vote. So let's examine some of what happened and some of the outcomes from that debate and vote.

First and let's be fair, the Mayor and I do not see eye-to-eye on a number of issues. In this matter 'His Purpleness' acted like the school yard bully. Showing up at meetings on Committees where he usually doesn't sit, interrupting the agenda to push his position and using his messenger, the Ward 8 Councillor to run errands for him. All the while playing to his urban hipster crowd led by Chris Turner and others. Wooley fits nicely into that space having worked for Chris Turner and the Green Party in the previous Calgary Centre by-election. Where the Mayor voted was of no surprise to this scribe.

Next, let's look at the 'Inner-City Four; Farrell (Ward 7), Wooley (Ward 8), Carra (Ward 9) and Pincott (Ward 11). No surprises here, they look to 'His Purpleness' for their marching orders and away they go, representing the views of their constituents, not likely.

Then we have the fiscal conservative Councillors; Sutherland (Ward 1), Magliocca (Ward  2), Stevenson (Ward 3), Chu (Ward 4). Jones (Ward 5). Colley-Urguhart (Ward 13) and Demong (Ward 14). City Administration did not make a strong enough case for this group to vote in favour. A number of issues came into play but mostly Administration could not adequately answer questions around the cost. These folks represented the views of their voting public who did not support the expense and the plan for separated cycle tracks in the downtown core.

The foregoing was easy to explain, now let's look at the supposed anomalies.

Keating (Ward 12); Not really a surprise 'His Purpleness' brought him in line with the promised public transportation plan for the SE. This will be enough for Keating to support the Mayor on most projects for the foreseeable future. His support has no other explanation since voters in Ward 12 do not appear to support the decision to spend tax dollars on separated cycle tracks in the downtown. Their concern is getting to work, parking when they get there and having a Councillor vote prudently on any City expenditure. That did not happen with this vote. If Ward 12 voters feel differently than I expressed please let me know.

Pootmans (Ward 6); Lest we not be surprised by his support for 'His Purpleness', Pootmans tries to show himself to be a fiscal conservative, the representation people in Ward 6 expect and believed they voted for, but the reality is Pootmans could very easily become a member of the 'Inner-City Four' when it comes to his voting record. He was one of the Councilors who dabbled with a ban on shark fin soup prior to the last election. A move that wasted tax dollars, pitted Council against Chinatown and was very much outside of any municipal jurisdiction. The attempted shark fin soup ban was led by Pincott and Farrell, blindly supported by Carra and Pootmans. Wooley was not at Council at the time. Again, if Ward 6 voters feel differently than I suggest please let me know.

Chabot (Ward 10); This is the only so-called surprise and the vote needed to get the cycle track programme in place. Chabot has been the Councillor most informed and ready for Council Meetings. He has always displayed himself to be a fiscal conservative. What happened?

Chabot has aspirations for the Mayor's chair once 'His Purpleness' rides off into the sunset to Harvard or the U of T to tell us how to be better urban citizens.

In this case, I believe Chabot made a significant political misstep. He appears to have abandoned his fiscal conservative principles in favour of an attempt to garner support from the urban hipster crowd. He must have been torn since his apparent change of heart seems to have come at Transportation Committee prior to yesterday's Council vote. In fact, for several months his staff have been posting on Facebook mentions that they will enjoy the cycle tracks well in advance of Chabot's vote.

Bottom line, this flip/flop may come back to haunt Chabot in the next election, time will tell.

Last evening I was bombarded by the Bike Calgary crowd for having had the audacity to help Chinatown in their opposition to the 1st Street SE cycle track. That's partly why I'm writing this today. They suggested we were conspiracy theorists and nay-sayers. I want to go on the record to say that the folks in Chinatown passionately love their space and this battle was not taken on without serious and thoughtful consideration for the impact on all Calgarians. Do not disregard Chinatown in the future when decisions like the cycle track and its impacts are discussed. This is a particular warning to the Councillor supposedly responsible for Chinatown.

The next steps are not so clear.

We are waiting for accurate costs for the cycle track network. We also want to see the criteria for measuring success or failure during the one-year trial.

I wonder what Bike Calgary thinks that criteria should be.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Nenshi Fiddles While Calgary Burns

I'm in Playa del Carmen, watching what's going on in Calgary from the tragedy of the useless killings of the University students to the death of the young man test driving a motorcycle.

The murders will play out in the media and cause untold misery to all of the families involved and for that, having lost my 7 year old grandson last March, I am so terribly sorry.

The death of the young man on the motorcycle raises a number of questions in my mind, currently somewhat fuzzy from tequila and cerveza.

I have to write this, asking for comment and response because I am concerned we are going to suffer more of these incidents.


Because Council has said they will not spend the necessary funds to clean the enormous amount of gravel deposited on our streets by City crews during the winter months. All reports list a cause of the unfortunate accident as the amount of gravel on the streets where he was driving.

Here is where this is going;

The Inner-City Four, Councillors Farrell, Wooley, Carra and Pincott appear to live in a world that the vast majority of Calgarians do not. Nor do we want these folks spending our tax dollars creating this imaginary world. Albeit, they do these things at the behest of "His Purpleness", the Mayor.

Last year they wasted our time and money trying to ban shark fin soup, a ridiculous move entirely outside of their jurisdiction and in opposition to the existing laws of Canada. Nonetheless, our tax dollars were spent on this useless endeavor.

Now we have the the 'Cycle Tracks', unwanted by a large majority of Calgarians, but again being forced through Council yet again against our wills. Depending on who talks within Council or City Administration, the 'Cycle Tracks' will cost $9 million, $15 million or $22 million, not including maintenance, cleaning, snow removal, etc...

It doesn't take much thought to suggest we should use these tax dollars for the safety of the public rather than building 'Cycle Tracks' that a majority, including large numbers of people who ride bikes to work every day, do not want.

Do we need more accidents and possible deaths because of the unsafe condition of the existing streets to prove the lunacy of the 'Cycle Track' expenditure?

We know 'His Purpleness' has a problem convincing us the expenditure is a good one when he needs to show up at the Transportation Committee to try to sell the project on a trial basis.

Hell, even Stantec, the Consultant hired to sell us the 'Cycle Tracks' has written a report for the City of Vancouver saying the 'Cycle Track' project there was a failure. I have a copy of both reports for those that want to read them.

We can only trust that the majority of Council will realize we do not want our money wasted this way. Take it and clean our streets, make them safe for bike traffic as they stand, get rid of the gravel!

Calgarians are watching this vote, watching those that want to be Mayor one day, watching those who will vote to waste our tax dollars on the wishes of 'His Purpleness' and the 'Inner-City Four'.

We all get to vote again!


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Alberta PC Leadership - A 'Magical Mystery Tour'

Let me take you back in time in our lovely country called Canada; A time when British Columbia was called ‘La La Land’; A time when it was not conceivable that a woman could be the Premier of Alberta; A time far, far away, no wait, that was only a couple of years ago.

Since then, Alberta has assumed the mantle of ‘La La Land’, what with all the shenanigans that have taken place here with provincial politics. A woman did become Premier and from the beginning was under stress from her own caucus, the media and subsequently her Party. However, let’s not forget she added fuel to the fire with mishandled communications related to her personal behavior, but all in all, the Province ran rather well during her tenure from this person’s perspective.

Having said that, we are at a time, given the past few years, where we are allowed to think in more radical terms than the hum drum when it comes to politics, leaders and the future of Alberta.

So let me take you on a ‘Magical Mystery Tour’, grab your wine, pack your medical marijuana or use your free spirit to carry you along. I want you to open your mind, close your eyes and free your imagination. Are we ready? Here we go

First stop, the PC Party of Alberta, not a place for the feint of heart. The knives are out, not ready to be sheathed, recently used to destroy their old Premier, they flounder around seeking the Messiah. It’s quickly understood that no one within the caucus could possibly run, given the infighting and mistrust that exists within the Party and with Albertans in general. Outsiders being considered have all said no, are unlikely to run and/or cannot garner the support required to win.

Wait, I spoke too soon, on the horizon there appears a large man riding high in the saddle, coming towards us in a purple cloud of dust, a dark man with a toothy grin, can he be the Messiah they are looking for? We stop, consume our wine, our medical marijuana, induce our free spirit, open our imagination and seek a sign. After hours of machinations, dancing, singing, after all we are a fun group, we see a sign. A message being passed to all City Councilors at the City of Calgary advising Members an announcement will be coming in the next 7 to 10 days, they are advised to stay tuned but prepare for a major change.

Through our hallucinations, we see the future unfold as follows;

The large man with the toothy grin will announce his intention to seek the Leadership of the P C Party of Alberta. Initially, we find this to be an absurd notion, how can the Mayor of Calgary possibly become the Premier of Alberta? But we are on a ‘Magical Mystery Tour’, so we allow our senses to run away with us. The big question for the large man; Will the people of Alberta give him the adoring looks and unquestioned support the loyal citizens of Calgary afforded him these past 2 elections.

The move will free up the young man standing beside him to seek office on his own albeit at the higher level of Federal politics. Again, we are taken by the notion that the Chief of Staff of the Mayor of Calgary could possibly run for public office.

An older, wiser person on the ‘Tour’ reminds us of the Calgary Buffalo by-election in 1992 when the illustrious Rod Love, former Chief of Staff to Mayor Ralph Klein ran and came a distant 3rd against Gary Dickson. This was soon after the unfortunate death of Sheldon Chumir. It is believed that Rod is still holding onto his rear end that was handed to him by the well organized campaign. We trust this young man will fare significantly better than Mr. Love when he seeks the nomination in the Federal Riding of Calgary Centre in support of the Dauphin, JT.

Finally, we see a shorter, earnest young man with little hair encouraged by the events; He has visions of sugar plums dancing in his head. He is a fiscal conservative, holds the interest of the citizens in good stead and believes he has the ‘stuff’ to be the next Mayor of Calgary.

We begin to come out of our induced states of altered consciousness and wonder was this all a dream, what do you think?

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

My Personal Swearing-in Ceremony, October 19th, 2013

As I read about the swearing-in of the new City Councilors I am reminded of my personal swearing ceremony which I experienced on 4th Street SW during a lovely Saturday while enjoying the 4th Street BRZ Block Party.

It was a beautiful afternoon on October 19th; I was spending the day with my grandson, family and friends and took the opportunity to walk 4th Street, closed down for the Block Party.

We were walking north on 4th just passing 22nd Avenue, where we live, when I was passed by the then candidate for Ward 8, Evan Woolley, now the newly elected Councilor for Ward 8 having been sworn in last Monday.

Mr. Woolley knew I was a John Mar supporter, having worked closely with John on the flood recovery. He approached from behind and when he passed and recognized me he turned with an obvious rage in demeanor and voice and shouted, "Lovett, you f*#king piece of s*#t, you better hope I win or else!"

To say the least, I was taken aback. Hardly the expected behavior of a person seeking elected office to use such expletives and in such a public venue, we were shocked.

I requested an apology immediately and having not received said apology I feel the need to publicize the behavior because we should not be subject to this for any reason. Furthermore, I am a resident in Ward 8 and have been since moving to Calgary in 1982. I am 64 years of age and would not allow my children to behave like that.

I am still waiting for an apology, now it needs to be public.

The always patient Donn Lovett (403 402 8332. donn.lovett@gmail.com) in case Mr. Woolley has forgotten how to contact me.

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Mulroney Conservatives created and the Harper Conservatives exacerbate high drug costs for all Canadians

Successive Conservative Governments in Canada have created protections for drug company patents that have and will result in skyrocketing health-care costs in Canada. I believe everyone can agree that costs of drugs are one of the major expenses that drive the cost of health-care in Canada.

On September 4th, 1984 Brian Mulroney became the Prime Minister of Canada with the largest majority in Canadian history. In the spring of 1985 he met then US President Ronald Reagan in Quebec City, in what has come to be known as the ‘Shamrock Summit’.

The Shamrock Summit was so-named because of the Irish background of the two leaders, and due to the meeting being held on St. Patrick's Day, the event is considered a major political-cultural episode in Canada, mostly on the basis of the perceived symbolism of the summit. It was also a prelude to Mulroney's efforts to create far closer links between Canada and the United States, culminating in the 1988 Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement.

Commentator Eric Kierans observed that "The general impression you get, is that our prime minister invited his boss home for dinner." Canadian historian Jack Granatstein said that this "public display of sucking up to Reagan may have been the single most demeaning moment in the entire political history of Canada's relations with the United States."

Further adding to the controversy was Mulroney's insistence that he greet the President upon his arrival, and not Jeanne Sauvé, the then Governor General of Canada. This was perceived in the media as evidence of suspicions that Mulroney was slowly elevating the stature of his office, giving it more presidential trappings and aura.

Reagan came to the Summit with an agenda, he wanted Canada to impose patent drug legislation giving drug manufacturers more extensive protection, thereby limiting generic drug manufacturers and creating more expensive drug costs for Canadians. Reagan wanted this protection because he was being hammered in Washington by the pharmaceutical lobby to get Canada in line over a fear of the Europeans adopting what the lobbyists considered to be lax Canadian protections for their drug company clients.

The multinational drug industry was strongly opposed to compulsory licensing, despite any evidence that its economic position had been harmed. Restoration of patent protection for drugs was one of the key U.S. demands during free-trade negotiations between Canada and the United States in 1985-1987. The result was Bill C-22, which gave new drugs protection from compulsory licensing for seven to ten years.

Previously, in response to high drug prices, the Liberal Government of the day, headed by Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, amended the country's patent act in 1969 to allow for compulsory licensing to import pharmaceuticals. As a result of the legislation, by 1983 drug costs in Canada were over $200 million lower than they would otherwise have been.

For a chronological report on patent drug legislation in Canada, I refer you to; http://www.parl.gc.ca/content/lop/researchpublications/prb9946-e.htm

Now we have the Harper Conservatives announcing a free trade agreement with the European Union (EU) that everyone believes will exacerbate the high costs of drugs for all Canadians.

As explained by the media, drug companies will now receive an extra two years for their patents, "meaning lower cost generics won’t be available as early in Canada".

According to EUbusiness.com; the Council of Canadians and the Canadian Health Coalition have been urging the federal government to remove drug policies from the deal.

"The two non-governmental agencies released a poll conducted by Ipsos Reid that shows high support for a Canada-EU free trade deal were it not for the issue of pharmaceutical drug costs. It said 69 percent of Canadians opposed to a deal that would lengthen patent protections for brand name drugs," notes a 2011 report by the online magazine.

"The agencies also cited a 2011 University of Toronto study that found lengthening patent terms for drugs in Canada would increase the cost of public and private drug plans in Canada by at least $2.8 billion. The extra costs come from delaying the introduction of cheaper generic drugs by 3.5 years.”

All of the evidence suggests that the patent protection introduced by the Mulroney Conservatives and now extended by the Harper Conservatives has and will have a very negative affect on the pockets of all Canadians, but more importantly on the incomes of Middle Class and lower income Canadians.

I encourage your comments.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Ryan Alexander Lovett, by his mother, Tamara

You can take what you want to send to whomever.

Last month I attended a parents gathering at the children’s hospital where they held their yearly memorial for parents who have ‘lost’ their children. And suddenly I am looking at a picture of my happy boy and another wave of emotion starts to run over me.  Just over 3 months ago my child died in my arms. StrepA has a 50% mortality rate. I ended up on the losing side. My world was shattered. There is no vernacular to describe how I ‘feel’…except to gauge my inner/outer energy and consider whether or not to engage…sometimes I am not able to give and sometimes I am compelled to move as Ryan’s energy inspires me onwards and upwards instead of completing shutting down.  ‘Feeling’ has taken on a whole new meaning… there is no ‘letting go’…what do I do? How do I feel?
At the children’s hospital service a father spoke to the group. Last year a little boy named Hayden drowned at Sylvan Lake. This father was sharing with us his experience sometime after the accident  of how, when he was playing with his other child, he came to the awareness that we who have lost a loved one know: ‘that moment when you are not thinking/grieving over your loss’ which is then followed by instant sadness as your memory engages…however at this moment the father felt Haydon’s ‘presence’ and in his mind’s eye was shown an open door in front of him and an open door behind him…Haydon’s message to his father was simple; walking through the open door in front of you doesn’t close the door behind you.  Moving on doesn’t have to feel like you are losing all over again. I started to feel a sense of peace in that moment.
I am thankful that the father chose to share that story as it also helps to illustrate what I experience on a moment to moment basis.  The constant ‘signs’ or ‘messages’ or whatever you would call them, coincidences or serendipitous encounters, magical moments and connections, are too many to deny…Ryan was present and showing me, and the people who bore witness, that there is more to ‘reality’ than what we will allow ourselves to consider and what we are capable of denying ourselves.  I have had the human experience of losing something that was once a part of me…I didn’t know that was on my ‘list’ of things to do while visiting Earth…somehow I missed that part of the in-flight manual.  And now I was learning how to come to terms with this.
Consider how Ryan made you feel and act.  Everything I did was for him and his brother’s future …a win-win for all; building community through freedom of expression and sustainable actions. Except I have learned the hardest way that not everyone plays fair and apathy rules apathetically.   Ryan was on an adventure and knew what he was in for when he came through…and now he is a Rainbow Warrior guiding each of us.  He naturally engaged with all he met as equals and was all inclusive. And he wants me to relay the most important message of peace which will truly heal this planet:
WHEN YOU ARE FINISHED WITH THE TOILET, CLOSE THE TOILET COMPLETELY – EVERYONE – 2 things will happen:  1.   minimize poo/pee particles when flushing;   2.   close the UP/DOWN debate once and for all!  And yes folks, we had this conversation last year…he said, rightly so, that we should close the toilet completely. Then there is no question and the air doesn’t smell.  My little baby, our little buddy – see you on the other side!
There will be a pot-luck celebration in Ryan’s honour at Cliff Bungalow Community Centre Saturday June 15 from 2-4pm.  If you would like to offer up a tribute in Ryan’s name please consider the following:
1. Ryan was a 2nd year Beaver Scout at the 18th Unit.  He loved going and never missed a week! We collected bottles to fundraise for Scout activities and the Veterans Food Bank. Your support would be greatly appreciated to help continue his legacy.
2. Ryan was an artist. He spent his formative years hanging in some infamous galleries around town.  He would want you to consider supporting local galleries Art Spot, Motion Gallery, Gorilla House and Art Point.
3. Ryan was a gardener. He knew what it took to grow nutritious food although getting him to eat some of it was a challenge!  Take the time to learn about growing your own food and what is happening to the global food chain. Ryan’s good friend Mac has a dad who started Grow Calgary. Support local sustainable initiatives.
4. A friend set up the “Ryan Lovett Scholarship for Painting” at ACAD.
Blessing to each of you and thank you for being a part of our lives. 

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Calgary’s Shark Fin Bylaw 45M2012 Needs to be Abandoned

My Asian friend immigrated to Calgary 48 years ago on May 2nd to join her father. She always told everyone how much she enjoyed her City and her Community. She considered herself living in harmony all these years.

That all changed July 16th, 2012 when Council passed a motion to draft a bylaw banning the possession, distribution and consumption of shark fin and shark fin products in the City of Calgary. This was followed October 15th, 2012 with Council passing first reading of the above-noted bylaw without prior and proper consultation with the affected citizens; the Chinese Community in Calgary and Calgarians in general.  This action was in opposition to the City of Calgary policy, CS009, Engage Policy, dated May 28th, 2003.

Engage Policy Statement
The City of Calgary (Council and Administration) recognizes that decisions are improved by engaging citizens and other stakeholder groups where appropriate, and is committed to transparent and inclusive processes that are responsive and accountable, and within the Corporations ability to finance and resource.
The City of Calgary assigns a high priority to appropriately informing and involving citizens and other stakeholders early on and throughout the process, where the decision(s) impact their lives.

Why the City should abandon bylaw 45M2012.
  1. Alberta’s Municipal Government Act lists three municipal purposes: to provide good government, to provide necessary and desirable facilities and services, and to develop and maintain safe communities.  The proposed shark fin ban is related to none of these purposes and is therefore ultra vires, literally "beyond the powers".
  2. Should the City proceed and enact the ban despite lacking the jurisdiction, there is a legal precedent to overturn the bylaw.  The City of Toronto’s bylaw banning the sale and distribution of shark fins was ruled ultra vires by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in November, 2012, Eng v. Toronto (City), 2012 ONSC 6818 (CanLII). The Ontario Court reached its decision to strike down the Toronto ban without examining whether the Province of Ontario has constitutional jurisdiction over sharks.
  3. Sections 91 and 92 of the Constitution Act, 1867 divides jurisdiction over all matters between the federal and provincial governments.  The provinces are not given authority over sharks and shark fisheries; that jurisdiction rests with the federal government.  The federal government is signatory to international conventions and has enacted legislation regarding sharks and shark fisheries.  The actions of the federal government have demonstrated that it has jurisdiction to legislate over this issue and that it has not abandoned its jurisdiction, Statement from Bob Dechert, MP dated August, 2011.
  4. Canada has sustainable shark management plans in place with strong enforcement regimes to ensure that ‘finning’ does not occur in Canadian fisheries and Canadian waters.  Harvests are carefully managed to ensure conservation.  Canada maintains the first and only shark fishery in the world to be certified as sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council, Statement from Mr. Randy Kamp, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, February 11th, 2013 debate on Bill C380.
a)      The act of finning has been prohibited in Canada since 1994.
b)      In 2007, Canada released its National Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of sharks (NPOA sharks) within the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
c)      As a Party to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES), Canada has a legal obligation to prevent the import of products from shark species that are listed as endangered, MP Costas Menegakis applauds defeat of Bill C-380, March 23rd, 2013.
d)       As of July, 2012, "85% of the top 26 shark fishing nations have adopted or are adopting NPOA sharks.
  1. Many viewed the ban of shark fin soup as an attack on Chinese Culture.  All Canadians should have the right to consume a culturally important food provided it is obtained legally and from species that are not endangered. Therefore the fins must come from sharks that are harvested legally and free from the cruel practice of ‘finning’, Lawrence MacAulay, Liberal MP for Cardigan, PEI, February 11th, 2013 debate on Bill C380.
  2. China set a zero growth rate for fishing production in its territorial waters in 1999, the aim is to restore and maintain fishery resources, including shark stocks, Document from FAO; Shark Utilization in China, Shark Fishery Management and Regulation in China.
  3. Finally, the major harvest or capture of sharks is from what’s referred to as bycatch, 60% of all sharks caught are as a by-product of fishing practises such as those used in the Tuna fishery. If we are serious about shark conservation, let’s look at fishing methods, etc…

In summary,  I would like to say that the best method of thinking globally and acting locally is to support the federal government to further their efforts to promote the sustainable management and conservation of sharks through international organizations, including the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and Regional Fisheries Management bodies such as the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) and continue to use their influence in these forums to encourage shark fishing nations to follow Canada's example and prohibit the practice of shark ‘finning’.

I hereby request Calgary City Council to abandon the proposed bylaw M452012.  I want to restore the harmony to the life of my friend.

Donn Lovett
President, Donn Lovett Agency, Partner in Research on Investments and ‘pro bono’ adviser to the Coalition for Transparent and Accountable Governance (CTAG).