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August 20, 2017
May 2, 2017

Edmonton Headlines: Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Edmonton's dysfunctional school district

Written by Jeff Samsonow

Two of these people aren’t Catholic enough.

The Edmonton Catholic School District had yet another contentious day at the office. Two trustees were reprimanded by the board because of things they’ve recently said that were “against Catholic values“. One of them was removed as vice-chair in what could be the first for the board.

The examples of non-Catholicism all appear to be in support of students, including those who are LGBTQ. So, supporting students who could use more help, information or some compassion isn’t Catholic enough? Seriously, what would Jesus do?

If the Catholic school board – in Edmonton, or anywhere in Alberta – wants public education dollars this kind of attitude cannot stand. If they want to keep kids in the dark about sexual education or force them to take “religion” courses just to participate in a graduation ceremony they earned, then the school district needs to become privately funded. Public schools need to respect all students and their families, regardless of whether or not they want to believe whatever the current Catholic doctrine is.

Municipal elections are this October, and so far it sounds like only the two trustees reprimanded – Marilyn Bergstra and Patrica Grell – deserve to be re-elected. The school board is publicly-funded, open to all students, and this kind of zealous thumping of Catholicism needs to be kept out of the trustee chamber.

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Next door, the premier of Saskatchewan says his province will keep funding Catholic schools and students who attend, no matter what the courts say. This decision now winding its way through the courts could have impact in Alberta because our two provinces have similarly-funded Catholic schools that are actually part of the public education system. (Not all of the other provinces fund separate or religious-based schools.)

And, just beside Edmonton, the province’s cuts to school fees will be offset with school board fees for busing students.


Around the city

Edmonton city staff and councillors were taken to task by members of some of Edmonton’s racialized communities because it’s been six months of waiting for an anti-racism plan, and “community groups haven’t been consulted because staff haven’t actually started the work yet.”

People have a right to be upset. An (almost) all-white council won’t be able to give the right kind of direction to plans that affect so many people’s lives. And we know this is a problem that needs to be dealt with because of too many public displays of racism. The planning of the plan (really) is due to start soon, with some feedback to the next city council early next year.

Edmonton is moving faster on a decision to open safe injection clinics in neighbourhoods around the downtown. While these communities can’t be the only ones where we open safe injection sites, it’s a good place to start and I hope council doesn’t get cold feet because of some backlash.

Our city is joining the unwelcome club other cities have found themselves in with a court case that calls into question the understanding of sexual assault by judges.


Outside of Edmonton

Alberta has passed a new revenge porn law that allows people to sue those who are sharing intimate photos of them without their consent. The law extends to anyone, including teens and children, who have had photos of them shared widely against their will.

Farmers around Edmonton are among the hardest hit by the wet fall, snowy spring and the current rules of how to claim crop insurance.

The decision to close ShawTV stations in Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver means St. Albert’s city council meetings won’t be broadcast anymore.


Public engagement

City council’s Executive Committee meets today, beginning at 9:30 a.m. The agenda is online. The meeting will stream live.

City Council will continue their special meeting to discuss safe injection sites today too, at 11 a.m.

People who live near Fort Edmonton Park can check out an information session about the park’s planned enhancements, 4-8 p.m. at Fort Edmonton Park’s Blatchford Field Air Hangar.

The last open house for the City’s plans to annex parts of Leduc County goes tonight, 5-8 p.m at the Derrick Golf and Winter Club.

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