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December 10, 2017
October 4, 2017

Edmonton Headlines: Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Who is Henry Mak?

Written by Jeff Samsonow

 

Let’s jump back into the election, with less than two weeks to go before election day.

We’ve had three official forums in the last couple of days, where candidates have had a chance to put forward their platform and answer questions from Edmontonians.

Up in Ward 7, public safety, problem properties and affordable housing were up at discussion. Though Northlands was mentioned by the candidates, and there was a question about who would stop police carding. Reporter Juris Graney was also livetweeting the forum. (I think the Journal has given up embedding tweets in the stories.)

Ward 8’s forum featured discussion about infill housing, transit-oriented development (TOD) and property development, which makes sense for mature neighbourhoods under a lot of pressure to add people. Oh, the livetweets are back for this story. I’m so confused.

And last night the mayoral candidates were back on stage. Well, most of them. We’re yet to get all 13 of them together at once for questions and debate. Spoiler alert: we still declare Don Iveson the winner already.

Probably the most interesting thing about the mayoral forum were questions about whether one of the candidates actually exists. Or maybe he’s a guy running for both mayor and school board. (They do appear on the same website, but only one of them has a photo.)

That fun was ended by intrepid reporter Elise Stolte’s quick work. “Edmonton Elections officials checked and said they have proof Mak exists.”

Or does he?

The school boards don’t tend to get very much coverage, so here’s an intro to people running in the Edmonton Catholic School District. You can also learn more about these candidates in videos the school district has uploaded.

Edmonton’s city council positions are full-time jobs, but that’s not the case around the entire capital region with smaller cities, towns and counties. Up in St. Albert, they’re talking about how part-time councillors still need to prepare for full-time jobs.

We know there’s a lot of stories being written about the election, and it can be a lot to keep on top of. That’s why we’ve got a handy post with links to most of the places you can find stories and information about your ward, your neighbourhood and your candidates.

Over in the Alexander First Nation, they’ve just a contentious election, where the chief was re-elected by just four votes alongside an entirely new council.


Following Edmonton’s Attack

A scene from the vigil at City Hall. photo: Twitter (@RachelNotley)

I think Edmonton writer Omar Mouallem captured Edmonton’s response to Saturday’s violence in a realistic and eloquent way. Things are still pretty normal for most and that’s the way it should be.

It is not, however, completely normal for people in our city who fear backlash. And they are probably right to have that fear, sad as that may be. Our Muslim and Somali neighbours shouldn’t have to be scared to go out into public. If you know someone who is going to harass or threaten people please call them out. Stop them. It’s going to be uncomfortable as hell to ask people you know not to be racist or spread hate, but we have to do this more. (And, let’s be clear, this kind of hateful reaction could extend to a lot of people, since racists don’t tend to differentiate or care to know the difference between a Muslim or Sikh, a Canadian-born person with dark skin and someone new to the country.)

There are a lot of stories in the news about the events of Saturday, so I won’t point you at all of them since they’ll be easy to find and are likely filling your social media streams. This includes details about the man accused in the violence, victims of the attack downtown and the people who helped, and what charges will be laid. As with other stories with breaking news, you’ll want to see on-the-record confirmations or similar reports from multiple newsrooms before you share details on social media.

The violence of the weekend will see changes to events at the downtown arena (although the Oilers playoff run and Garth Brooks concerts also got people thinking about this). It may also impact other large events, so double-check about getting to and from those for the next little while in case roads nearby are closed or blocked off.

Edmontonians came together after the violence. photo: Twitter (@DonIveson)

It was nice to see whoever wrote an editorial for the Edmonton Journal included Charlottesville’s car attack with others in recent memory. That Nazi rally was just as much terrorism as events in Europe and Edmonton’s own violence Saturday.

In the very same Postmedia newsroom, however, you have someone writing for the Edmonton Sun asking to deport refugees who aren’t found to have done anything illegal or criminal. This is the kind of “othering” that we have to be careful to watch for after violence that involves someone Muslim (or non-white). To push for something like this implies refugees are more dangerous than people born in Canada, or those with other immigration statuses. That is, of course, not true, as many of Canada’s deadliest instances of violence were committed by people born and raised here.

The killing of four RCMP officers not too far from Edmonton is just one example. Not a single refugee involved, but it did involve someone with previous history with police and proven criminal and violent actions.

Are we to deport anyone who might have been in contact with police for potential, possible nefarious ideas or plots? Even if people at the Sun and Postmedia agree with that preposterous idea, we’d be rounding up a whole lot of white people, not refugees.

The real question is why he wasn’t immediately put on track for deportation. If he espoused an extremist ideology then he stopped being a refugee.”

No, he didn’t. He was still a refugee just the same as a potential criminal, or actual convicted criminal could still be a Canadian citizen.

This sort of thing is not going to do anything but whip up xenophobia, racism, Islamophobia and hate. So, once again we break out the story we wrote back in February asking Edmonton newsrooms to maybe not do that. Even when unintentionally maligning refugees (or people who are Muslim, or black, or gay, or…) newsrooms and journalists can do a lot of damage to the psyche of a city by encouraging hate. By openly questioning the rights of people who have done nothing wrong to remain here, we’ve taken a step beyond unintentional othering.

Painting refugees as somehow more dangerous than everyone else in Canada is exactly the kind of narrative that feeds hate that results in actions like the shooting of a Quebec mosque. It breeds mistrust, anger and fear. And it’s damn shameful to see something like this published in Edmonton the day after hundreds of people stood together against hate and violence.

(It’s also possible the Sun editorial was written nationally, but that’s not identified on the post. And they still ran it locally anyway.)


Around the city

There are new questions about the consultation and decisions of Edmonton’s potential safe injection sites. The City of Edmonton isn’t alone in this decision, with provincial and federal governments holding a lot of control, but the local sites demand local input and it’s put the City under fire for the plans. This will only keep up the pressure from neighbourhoods already pushing back against the consultation process and the number of sites proposed.

Could paying for gas at the pump become the only way to pay? It might if people pushing for safety of station employees can get the change here.

Elders are reflecting on the unprecedented gathering in Edmonton.

The Healing Garden. photo: City of St. Albert

St. Albert’s healing garden is an excellent example of reconciliation, recognizing the past while attempting to form new relationships and provide space for people to learn and reflect.

Edmonton’s got a growing, if not urgent, need for an “interpreter bank“.

MacEwan University has a new recording studio and record label.

This week is Mental Illness Awareness Week and there’s a free, and quick, online test you can take to screen for depression. It’s obviously not as rigorous or thorough as a doctor or mental health practitioner could provide, but it’s worth a check if you’ve been feeling down lately. It’s also worth sharing with anyone who might want to ask themselves some questions. I did the test myself and it’s very fast and the questions are really easy to answer. If you want to talk to a professional, the Psychologists Association of Alberta has a pretty good search tool to find someone near you, or with particular issues they focus on in their practice.

October is also Disability Employment Awareness Month and too many of our neighbours with disabilities don’t have jobs or are underemployed.


Public engagement

image: Edmonton Elections

We wrap up the official ward forums this week, with Wards 9 and 10 on Wednesday night and Wards 11 and 12 on Thursday.

Wednesday

Both Ward 9 and Ward 10 forums will run 7 – 9 p.m. Ward 9 folks will be at Archbishop Joseph MacNeil Catholic and Ward 10 happens at L.Y. Cairns Junior/Senior High School.

Of course, before the forums you can meet up with political junkies and neighbourhood friends for Next Gen’s pints, politics and pizza. Ward 9 meets at the Terwillegar Recreation Centre, 5 – 6:30 p.m. and Ward 10 is at the Southgate Mall State & Main, 4:15 – 6:30 p.m. Both groups then head to the forums.

If you’re interested in the race for Edmonton Catholic School District trustee, you’ll want to check out the all-candidates event Wednesday night at 7 – 9 p.m., at the Royal Alberta Museum (the old location).

Thursday

Rounding out the forums will be Ward 11, at J. Percy Page Composite High School, and Ward 12, at Holy Family Catholic School. Both run 7 – 9 p.m.

Pints and pizza and politics is set for Ward 12, Pub 99 between 5 and 6:30 p.m., but there’s not a location for Ward 11 yet.

Also Thursday night, Ward 74 candidates for Edmonton Catholic School District will have a forum, at Good Shepherd Catholic Church.

Don’t worry, we’re not done with election forums yet! There’s one more mayoral forum, and a few more around the city for the last week of the election.

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