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August 20, 2017
July 21, 2017

Edmonton Headlines: Friday, July 21, 2017

Carding at private and public meetings

Written by Jeff Samsonow

Members of the community outside of the EPS office. photo: BLM-YEG, Facebook

We touched upon the meeting police chief Rod Knecht had called with a few select groups to discuss carding yesterday, but more stories are out today with additional details. The police chief can’t remember who he met with, but they certainly didn’t tell him to stop the practice. “I didn’t hear anybody in there say they don’t want checks anymore.

I guess that’s the difference between an invite-only meeting and a public meeting. Hundreds of Edmontonians met last weekend and appeared very much in favour of ending the practice of collecting personal information of people not connected to any crime.

Among the next steps from the meeting are another private session coming up to discuss progress on four points. “…the need for community consultation; a better definition of a street check; an overhaul of police policy involving the community; and retraining of officers and addressing the perception of street checks.”

The Edmonton Police Commission heard from some members of the community at its (public) meeting Thursday, where the board chair was going to provide an on-the-record update about a third-party review of carding.

The police chief disputes that collecting the personal information from people arbitrarily is a violation of Charter rights. He also says anyone who thinks otherwise needs to formally complain to the EPS. “…come forward and we will do a proper investigation to see if it is a violation of the charter.” This is starting to lean into victim-blaming. Police should be ready to uphold laws of the land, even if nobody in the 20,000+ annual street checks files a complaint.

This also feels like such wasted time. Time that could be spent building new community ties with so many people in Edmonton who are, or feel, targeted more often by police. Instead, we’ll see the same complaints, the same denials, the same minor changes, the same push for more change and, eventually, some more stringent rules or massive systemic changes. It’s just a question of how long the EPS, the police commission and city council want to drag this out.

The issue of carding has already been proven as racial profiling and an infringement of people’s rights. But, like so many other social and societal shifts, it’s another policy that local people on the wrong side of change are going to fight for no good reason other than to fight, even following all of the same steps that previous Failed Policy Warriors™️ attempted in efforts to thwart fairness and progress.

See you in December when the police commission has similar results as all the other studies!


The party for white dudes!

The right unites?

This weekend, members of the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta and Wildrose Party (many of whom are probably now members of both parties) will vote on whether or not to ditch those parties for a new unified conservative party. I’d like to tell you all of this is about sound government policy and forming a cohesive direction for Alberta, but it’s just about trying to win back power.

Over at the Edmonton Journal, Graham Thomson’s got a good breakdown of what’s likely to happen this weekend and what comes next in each scenario. If you’d prefer the same kind of examination in audio form, the CBC’s got you covered.

Somewhat connected, Jason Kenney’s run to lead the PC Party, subsequent (united) leadership aspirations of Brian Jean and Derek Fildebrandt and the fleeing of centrists has spawned political action committees (PACs) in Alberta. Basically, it’s a way of funding leaders, parties and party platforms outside of the new financing laws the NDP put in place as their first piece of legislation. Kenney’s partially revealed financing has tipped off the governing New Democrats that there might be a problem here.

Following earlier calls from new Liberal leader David Khan, the NDP is now considering how to reign in PACs and keep the political system as free from big-money influence as possible. While Khan’s been calling for donation and spending limits and disclosures similar to those for political parties, I think we should just ban PACs altogether. There is no reason politicians and parties need more money than current fundraising laws allow.

I mean, so far this year the largest five parties have raised more than $2-million. They’ve raised $2, 226, 874.87 to be exact. This isn’t even an election year, so you can start to imagine how much money could be raised in a four year period. We don’t need more opportunities for corporations and people looking to buy influence to get involved.


Festival news

We’ve hit another one of those summer weekends when absolutely everything is happening.

The K-Days parade will be on Jasper Avenue today. And that means the summer carnival and exhibition is back on for the next week. Taste of Edmonton is also back through next weekend.

Rust Magic is back to brighten up blank walls and dull corners of Edmonton. This is such a unique way to get more public art in Edmonton, and give us all a reason to wander and try to find all the new works. You’ll see the artists painting over the next ten days.

One of last year’s painting, by San Francisco’s anonymous BiP.

The Global Youth Fusion Celebration is a new one for Edmonton, happening today at Giovanni Caboto Park. And Edmonton Carnaval is bringing Latin flair to Old Strathcona Saturday and Sunday.

Nuit Blanche will be back next year. Sure, it’s not happening this summer, but the funding was just announced. (There is a chance there’s a Petit Nuit in September too.)


Public engagement

There’s a final summer public information session about future LRT connections between Bonnie Doon and Old Strathcona (and the downtown), at the St. Anthony District Archives and Meeting Centre, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. There’s also a survey on the LRT plans, open until August 13.

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