Prairie Post (West Edition)
Motz launches surveys in advance of federal budget
Heart and Stroke goes virtual with annual canvassing campaign
Glen Motz, Member of Parliament for Medicine Hat-Cardston-Warner launched his third annual Budget surveys in an effort to bring constituents’ views to Ottawa. There are three survey streams designed to gather specific information. One for municipal leaders to better understand what communities need; one targeting business owners and the unique challenges they face; and one for individual constituents to provide input.
“Ottawa needs to hear how COVID and other policy decisions by the federal government have impacted our communities, families, workers and small businesses,” MP Motz said. “The federal Liberals are hurting hard working families, famers, energy workers and small businesses. These surveys will allow me to bring real, first-hand feedback to Ottawa – but I will need your input to do it,” he said.
The short surveys are intended to get a clear picture of how people in the riding are impacted by taxes, debt, COVID programs and policies, as well as what is needed for small businesses, families and municipalities to move forward in restoring jobs and our economy.
Residents of Medicine Hat-Cardston-Warner are encouraged to take the survey that applies to them:
Businesses – https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/Motz2021Biz
Individuals – https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/MOTZBudget2021 Or visit www.glenmotzmp.com. Municipality surveys will be emailed directly to mayors, councils and reeves to collect responses.
Notice how Albertans haven’t heard much from the NDP and Rachel Notley lately? You don’t hear anything else from the other opposition parties because they don’t exist.
We don’t hear much from those who should be standing on their orange crates — other than the obligatory protest —because well, they don’t have to say anything.
The NDP should be sending thank-you cards to the UCP for making their jobs so easy.
The UCP is that brash, loudmouthed person you get into an argument with at a social function (remember those?) or in this day and age, the fools taped on a cell phone and put onto to social media, and you just let them talk…
Besides controversial policies, they are very unlikeable. And now with only a few of them allowed to speak publicly besides Premier Jason Kenney or maybe the ‘ever-popular’ health minister Tyson Shandro, the UCP’s popularity is melting faster than a Hawaiian iceberg both publicly and internally.
If it isn’t his social media keyboard warriors going around insulting or blocking access for opponents following their political accounts, it is smug attitudes at news conferences, social media posts and the implementing of policies without considering other ramifications other than just business and revenue generation (See health care and education).
People don’t like arrogance from their politicians and rightly or wrongly, the UCP is DOA on delivering success in the area is heavily tilted towards. But, it is the attitude which make them easy targets for public and media’s venom.
Take for example this Feb. 2 social media post talking about Covid-19 conspiracy theories. While you may agree in principle with Kenney, do you really need to sit like you’re trashing someone with different ideas: “When you’re sitting in my chair, you don’t have the luxury of indulging in all of this denialism of trying to blame some globalist conspiracy, some —I think Klause Schwab is —his ideas are cockamamie and I will fight those ideas politically and democratically. But they have nothing to do with the actual challenge we are facing. That is not Klaus Schwab, it is not Justin Trudeau; it’s not the Great Reset, it’s not Q-Anon, it’s not a conspiracy. It’s just a reality. And folks for those of you who are in deep denial about this, wake up and smell the coffee, alright? Wake up and look at the real numbers here. It would be grossly irresponsible for any government of any political persuasion to allow unlimited, uncontrolled exponential growth that overwhelms our hospital capacity. When you’re implying that our response is because some socialist in Switzerland told me that he wanted to shut down businesses in Alberta, folks, give your heads a shake and please deal with reality.”
In other words: shut up, you are stupid. If you watch the video, Kenney has a smirk and smugness the whole time.
There is obvious pressure to deliver and regain pubic support with the good old stand by of oil and gas revenue’s pipeline being turned way down. Covid has deeply damaged the world’s economy and everyone is struggling, including politicians apparently in coming up with any new strategies.
After a while with so little control, you just want to get into a tight group with only the most trusted of people and try to fight your way out. The problem is that this inner circle of “Yes” people, provincial bureaucrats and Kenny inner cabinet loyalists is small. And when you only have a small pool of, ahem, wisdom to draw from, there are a lot of things you may not know or see.
The coal mining controversy is one. Were they that naive that people wouldn’t protest? They set themselves up to fail.
When you have a cool kids club and you don’t at least pretend to listen to friends or associates of the club, they turn on you. If you have ever seen the movie Mean Girls you know how ugly it can get.
This is what has happened. Kenney is in charge. Period. For media, it is very difficult now to get an interview with government workers. They have to get some sort of clearance because and then they return saying there is always “unforeseen circumstances” and won’t be able to talk.
One would assume and surmise that this is how everything is operated.
Even former Conservative media friends like Rick Bell are turning on Kenney with a series of “I’ll show you” articles criticizing Kenney’s arrogance in one column, then handpicking UCP outsiders such as Drew Barnes and Brian Jean. Bell featured Barnes in a soap box-beauty of a column talking about Barnes’ propensity for wanting a referendum on the province’s independence from Canada and his straight-up, no nonsense style about his push for it.
Bell also stood up and cheered vociferously Jean on a column the former leader of the Wildrose Party wrote for Post Media Feb. 2 in which he wrote a condescending piece which after criticizing many aspects of government and it’s protocol he even told him to get more sleep and eat better. Really?!
The UCP was an attempt to get both conservative and Conservative high flyers on the same team, no vote splitting wth the PC’s and Wildrosers. After the infamous nine Wildrosers crossed the floor including Danielle Smith, the leader, it is hard imagine that any sort of close collaboration, team unity, or cooperation could ever be achieved amongst these right wingers. Maybe if they come up with some sort of internal new democratic system…
So, if you hear muffled giggles from the folks sitting on their oversized orange crates, you will know why. What would’ve have they done different, other than the obvious non-cancellation of the Coal Policy leading to some atrocious environmental damage in the southwest, who knows? Perhaps they have nothing concrete to add or if they do as critics charge they will lead Alberta into major debt. They don’t have to say anything, the UCP is building the NDP’s popularity without Notley having to do anything. Besides, they are too busy eating popcorn watching the drama.
Sheldon Hill is known as the beekeeper for the highly popular Sweet Pure Honey business that he operates with his wife Stella Sehn.
While they sell a lot of pure honey and honey products which they sell from their base in Medicine Hat, Hill has decided to add writer to his repertoire.
The Medicine Hat resident can add title of The Smokey Beekeeper is he is now typing a blog near and dear to his heart… could be a lifesaver in fact.
In his blog, The Smokey Beekeeper (https://www.sweetpurehoney.ca/blog/ smokey-beekeeper.html) Hill wants to initiate discussion about mental health issues. It is okay to not be okay.
As someone who has a physically demanding job in beekeeping which takes him seven and a half hours away from his family in Medicine Hat. The Sweet Pure Honey hives are located near Porcupine Plains Sask, where they used to live.
Loneliness, hard difficult labour, a weak economy leading to some tough years business-wise and the fact he lost his winter job working in the oil patch has been a tough go.
It led to some suicidal thoughts midway through 2020. He pulled himself out of it. Courageously, he now wants to help others sharing the same feelings.
“I decided to write because I felt like I had something to contribute that way. I kinda felt I was at point where I could say things that maybe others wanted to say and just couldn’t do it,” explains Hill. “I see myself as a leader. To be a leader you have to lead the way and muster the courage to expose things that I have been hiding my life. A good leader is a person who is absolutely open in that sense — anybody could come to them and feel like you know them on a certain level. In order for me to say what I had to say, I had to open people up to my world.”
Hill says he has struggled with his feelings for a long time and knew he was a little different than others from an early age. He was always closing himself off and keeping troubling feelings and thoughts to himself. Baby boomers, and Generation X were taught not to talk about feelings, especially men.
He has decided to forego that way of thinking and accept consciously to himself and to those around him he had unresolved issues. He knows talking about it aids initially in the healing.
“By the time I decided to do the writing I had come to grips with it, coming to terms with it; I really don’t have that fear with telling people what’s going on in that sense,” explains Hill. “It definitely took me to hit rock bottom before I knew where I was in the situation. It was clear I had to change what I was doing in some way and just look at in a different of the way I was looking at it before.”
Mental health has meant something to him his whole life. He can’t remember when that he wasn’t thinking about issues, even as a child. He says he was “just different” than other people. He says this exposes those to a lot of hurt in life. The beekeeper says in a lot of ways, he has been preparing to share his story his whole life.
“When it was time to speak about it or open up about it, I was going to be free about it. They were going to be those understanding; there are some people are going to disapprove about this just because of the culture the way it is and (mental health effects) so many people in different ways, I am not really sure what the future vibes are with it, I am just going to roll with it for now. I am going to keep talking about it.”
2020 was turmultuous for many, including Hill. During his most troubled moments in an overall dark season emotionally and mentally, he learned of all the men taking their own lives in Medicine Hat during the summer.It was the catalyst to push him to do more to help.
He said after the suicides happened in Medicine Hat the families grieved but then started to discuss it in an open forum: either in media or in public events. Hill was inspired to do more himself.
“I started to realize yeah, these people are doing something meaningful and they are really resonating with me…they are sharing and I thought, maybe I needed to better connect with my friends and families,” explains Hill. “I knew that I could share what was going on with me.
“During that (collective) tragic event, I knew something needed to be said from a male perspective. I guess mostly I felt that I had to do something, and just thinking about the outcome of things if I don’t do something. Covid definitely brought it to bare. For me personally, in that moment the first time I was feeling suicidal in a real sense, you’re thinking that’s probably not a real good idea, but that real hopeless feeling I was stuck with at that time — I was at rock bottom. I could totally relate to what the victims were maybe were thinking. The hopelessness and feeling that your loved ones would be better off without you or just holding down whatever that sense is.”
Hill was inspired and encouraged by his family and friends to write and open up about his struggles. He valued and wanted to strengthen his bond with all of them and no longer closing himself off and thus neglecting them.
Hill was confident he could help. In reading the initial Smokey Beekeeper’s blog regarding mental health, he communicates his feelings well in a well thoughtout conversational manner. He has a lot of experience and feelings to share but also has knowledge having done a lot of reading and fact finding on a variety of mental health topics.
“Because I always have been dealing with mental health I kinda knew of the things I should be doing,” explains Hill. “I had that research and thinking so I had that right from the start. I was fortunate in that sense. Even at my deepest and darkest, I could still, and not at all times but sometimes it was so deep and and dark that it was scaring me that your brain could think, actually think that it would rationalize or take it to an end and thinking out how you are going to plan your day (to end it).
“Then there’s times where you are thinking okay you are not being rational… It was really until I opened myself up completely emotionally because as a man that isn’t something you do not only because society says so, we are so conditioned on what to do or what we are allowed to do. It is an ego thing for sure. The ridiculous part of it all is that if you open yourself up, you think I will be ridiculed. Just ridiculous thoughts that you can have, but when you are isolated, you can talk yourself into that position.”
It was baby steps for Hill in writing. He talked to many including reps from the Inner Man Project. Sweet Pure Honey helped sponsor a project which would aid the organization.
Discussion of mental health in men or in general is becoming more talking about and is less taboo than it used to be. He was really surprised that some of the people who he felt wouldn’t be receptive to the blog were very supportive and open with their own struggles. He thought that one could “peg that person but I guess they are that good at hiding how they are feeling.”
He noted they were happy in some way he could help them open up about how they were feeling.
“I do believe it is changing. It is going to take some time,” explains Hill. He says the way the generation before him reacts to mental health discussions was usually a be tougher kind of attitude. He says he was fortunate because his father would never criticize him and was supportive. “I was very lucky to have that beginning. A lot of people have been wedged into this position because they never really had (the support) or had the okay to say out loud that they may be feeling certain way. There’s always been the mentality that “I’m a man, I just got to buckle down; I got to get things done. I’m going to sacrifice myself for my family. That’s just the way it is.”
“I really want people to know there are resources available, I’m not saying I am an expert or anything but I want people to know there’s help.”
Hill points to inner man project foundation: https://www.facebook.com/theinnermanproject/; plus 24 hour support systems such as Mental Health AHS 1-888-7854294; Mental Health Help Line Alberta 1-877-303-2642 and Canada Suicide Prevention Line 1-833-456-4566 .
(In the second part of our look at Sheldon Hill next week, he describes what being a beekeeper is really like.)
For over 60 years Heart Month has been recognized in Alberta, as a caring and helpful reminder to look after your health and to raise awareness about vital information, such as the signs of heart attack. Since the Heart and Stroke Foundation was first created, the organization has had wonderful volunteers across the province, and across Canada, who have gone door-to-door to raise funds to support research.
This year, for the first time — with the current COVID-19 pandemic, the foundation is unable to connect with people on their doorsteps, so the Heart Month campaign will be all online. Southern Albertans can acquire more information or join the foundation’s Online Canvass Team by visiting heartandstroke.ca/help.
According to the foundation, 95 per cent of the funds raised are through donations, and this generosity has enabled the foundation to fund research excellence across the country. The foundation is currently funding 39 research projects in Alberta, including the work of Dr. Richard Larouche at the University of Lethbridge. “His study is focused on finding solutions to help children lead healthier lives and reduce their risk of heart disease and stroke later in life,” the foundation stated.
“It’s definitely a unique Heart Month,” said Samantha Berscht, Heart and Stroke director, Health Policy and Systems for Alberta and NWT, adding the foundation is celebrating its longevity, while pivoting its classic door-to-door campaign to a virtual campaign. “And just looking at new ways of fundraising and bringing information to Albertans about their heart health, encouraging those kinds of conversations and highlighting the work going on in this province.”
With this year’s virtual fundraising campaign underway, Berscht noted, the foundation wanted to protect its donors and volunteers. Berscht would also like to thank southern Albertans for their heart-felt generosity. “Heart and Stroke, like all other health charities in Alberta, have been affected by COVID. Our donations have been impacted and we’ve had to pivot very quickly to online activities and get creative in how we’re getting the messaging out.”
“People have been great — really receptive, understanding and still donating,” said Berscht, adding southern Albertans continue to recognize the importance of heart disease and stroke, as they still remain global killers and leading causes of death in Canada. “And working really hard, so we can continue to fund lifesaving research.”
Though there isn’t a central theme to this year’s Heart Month campaign, Berscht pointed out the message is to learn the symptoms of a heart attack and stay aware heart attacks and strokes are still medical emergencies, even during a pandemic.
“We all hear about the burden on the health care system, being careful, staying home and all those things that are still important — but, recognizing these things are still medical emergencies, knowing the signs and symptoms of heart attacks and strokes and getting there for emergency care, if you need it, is still incredibly important during a pandemic,” Berscht explained.
Berscht said Heart and Stroke started as a foundation when a group of cardiologists, business people and families went door-to-door to collect funds for heart research in 1958. “They did it in February and it actually started in Alberta.” There was no money to fund research, at the time. “So, these volunteers really took it upon themselves and completely exceeded their goal.”
According to Berscht, the funds raised were used to fund the first two cardiovascular researchers in Canada at the University of Alberta, which included the first heart transplant and pediatric work. That initial funding in the late-1950s was really what began decades of innovative and lifesaving research in the heart and stroke field.
The United Way office in downtown Lethbridge has been a hot spot over the last few weeks since it was temporarily transformed into a PPE distribution centre, thanks to the generosity of one Canadian retailer. On Wednesday, January 20, more than 60,000 face masks, 1,800 bottles of hand sanitizer, and thousands of other PPE items arrived with the purpose of helping community agencies to protect people against COVID-19.
The donation comes from Bianca Amor’s Liquidation Supercentre, which has donated more than a million masks, and tens of thousands of other PPE items to United Ways in Western Canada, including Alberta United Ways in Calgary, Edmonton, Red Deer and Lethbridge. The total value of the donation was approximately $300,000.
Amor, who started her first store in Calgary when she was just 13 years old, said that donating these items felt like the right thing to do.
“As someone who has been buying and distributing product for 20 years, I understand the efficiency of distribution,” she said. “And that’s something I really admire about the United Way – their ability to do the work and get things out to the people who need them.”
Many of the items received by United Way in Lethbridge have already made their way to over 60 charities and nonprofits across south western Alberta, many of which are providing critical services to vulnerable people and families through the pandemic.
“Making sure organizations can continue to provide frontline services safely is incredibly important, and we’re so thankful to Bianca Amor for this gift,” said United Way executive director Janelle Marietta. “It shows that this is a company that cares about the health and wellbeing of communities, and we appreciate it.”
Marietta also explained that the donation was welltimed, with many organizations facing donation shortages, and significant changes to traditional fundraisers over the past year.
“We’re all encouraged to operate our programs and services in the safest way possible,” she said. “But PPE comes at a cost, and that can be a challenge for organizations, especially smaller ones, and those who have been closed due to restrictions. It’s really great that we can help fill that gap for them, even in the short-term.”
Amor said that all recent business decisions have been made with the goal of preventing the spread of COVID-19, including implementing one-way aisles, installing plastic shields at tills, and extending store hours to reduce foot traffic and crowds. In addition, the company began ordering PPE items very early on to meet demand.
“We did everything we could to stay open following the safety protocols and making sure our employees still had jobs,” she said. “We’re doing what we can, and I think donating to people who need it in the community is one thing, but I think we can all step up a little. We’re all in this together.”