Suppor banning corporate and union donations and municipal campaign finance reform

On Tuesday June 23rd, 2015 I will move two motions to request that the Edmonton Public School Board add our voice to a chorus of other voices calling for campaign finance reform at the municipal level.
Recommendation 1) That the board grant waiver of notice of motion to consider recommendation #2 at the June 23rd Board meeting.

Recommendation 2) That the Edmonton Public School Board would write a letter supporting campaign finance reform measures that would ban corporate and union donations in municipal elections.

Recommendation 1 (if passed unanimously at the meeting) would give us the opportunity to debate recommendation 2 at the June 23rd board meeting. If Recommendation 1 does not pass unanimously, we would not have the opportunity do debate the recommendation until our next board meeting in September.
Recommendation 2)
Given that the Provincial government is proposing campaign finance reform and banning corporate and union donations in the sitting of this legislature, it would be most appropriate timing to ban corporate and union donations in municipal elections as well.
I understand that Edmonton City Council will also be voting on a similar motion with support from Mayor Iveson and Councillor Knack: (
The Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues prepared a thought paper on campaign finance reform (attachment 1) which raises important concerns about the democratic accessibility of elections:
‘The EFCL is concerned that some of our most dedicated and qualified potential public servants are getting priced out of office. It is also concerned about council members being placed in difficult situations, when the majority of the donations are coming from companies and unions that have a direct interest in decisions made by city council.’ – EFCL
Blogger Daveberta has also provided more background to this issue here:
“The NDP should not limit the ban on corporate and union donations to the provincial level, they should also ban corporate and union donations in municipal elections. The provincial legislature approves the law that governs municipal election financing, which allows corporate, union and individual donations up to $5,000 during an election year. The provincial law also allows for an odd exemption that individual municipal candidates can contribute a maximum of $10,000 to their own campaign.”
I would appreciate your support and would ask you to write your MLA: ( ) and urge them to legislate campaign finance reform for municipalities.
David Staples at the Journal had an excellent opinion piece:
Read the full report from the Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues:

Advocacy for anti-racism in the new provincial curriculum

We need the provincial government to make explicit anti-racism outcomes in the new provincial curriculum.

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Fairness and Equity for Alberta Public Schools

UPDATE MARCH 21st: The EPSB Approved my motion below unanimously and we sent a letter to the minister of education.

On Tuesday March 6th I moved the following notice of motion to be debated at our March 21st meeting.

Be it resolved that the Edmonton Public School Board advocate to the Government of Alberta to develop a framework to ensure Public schools get a fair and equitable share of schools, modernizations, portables, and capital project spending. 

  1. All schools, portables modernizations, and capital funding to Public and Catholic schools are  awarded by the provincial government.
  2. We lack transparent policy from the provincial government how schools are prioritized and awarded between different school districts.
  3. Public students and families across Alberta– especially in Edmonton– need their fair and equitable share of capital funding– especially for new schools
  4. Despite only 25% of Albertans being Catholic, the government appears to provide them an unfair and inequitable amount of school dollars, sometimes between 30-50%.
  5. Fairness and equity in transparent, defensible provincial decision-making would prevent unreasonably advantaging one group over another.
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New Schools Should be Energy Neutral

New schools should be energy neutral, public school board says

Newly constructed Alberta schools should be "net zero," Edmonton public school trustees believe — equipped to both conserve energy and generate it from renewable resources. 

On Tuesday, public school trustees approved a motion 7-to-1 to ask Alberta’s education minister to make future school construction projects energy-neutral by equipping them to generate at least as much energy as they consume.

Trustee Michael Janz, who proposed the idea, said the province should embrace more environmentally sound public buildings to avoid contributing to climate change, to dodge the risks of rising fossil fuel costs and to give students tools to learn about conservation and renewable energy.

“As stewards of our climate and our community, we need to make sure that our young people have an education that’s rich with teachers, not just energy bills,” Janz said Tuesday.

Technology has evolved to bring the cost of constructing net-zero buildings — which could use geothermal, solar and wind power — nearly on par with a conventional building, Janz said.

Trustee Ken Gibson, who is also the executive director of the Alberta Construction Association, said he’s seen studies indicating net-zero buildings can be constructed for about three-to-six per cent more money than a typical building. Achieving parity in those costs requires consumers to increase demand, and the industry will respond, he said.

Gibson also said Alberta’s construction industry likely has the expertise to do net-zero builds well.

‘We need to focus on our needs’

Although they liked the idea of building schools with a lower environmental impact, a couple of trustees questioned whether lobbying the education minister was the best approach.

Board chairwoman Michelle Draper asked whether the board should instead decide to build all future Edmonton public schools as net zero, rather than sending yet another request to a cabinet minister.

Draper said the board should save its provincial advocacy for priorities such as a new high school constructed in southeast Edmonton, without which the city’s public schools will be facing a critical space crunch for teens by 2022. The board has also been asking for help with a $768-million backlog of deferred maintenance on older schools and more in-school mental-health workers.

“We need to focus on our needs, our priorities,” said Draper, the sole trustee to vote against the motion.

Trustee Nathan Ip also questioned whether asking for higher-cost net-zero schools might affect how many school construction projects government approves, if the builds are pricier. The district has a lengthy wish list of construction projects it wants to complete.

Janz said the government is already funding solar panel installations on schools, and “are ripe for a nudge in this direction.”

The Alberta Council on Environmental Education wrote to the board in support of Janz’s proposal, saying net-zero schools have the potential to reduce the district’s carbon footprint and save money in the long run.

“We believe that Net Zero schools represent an excellent opportunity to foster student learning around energy efficiency and renewable energy, learnings that students can then take out into their community and homes,” senior education adviser Marie Tremblay wrote. “Indeed, schools are uniquely positioned to be roles models of sustainability for the communities in which they are embedded.”

Partnership in Action: EPSB Kindergarten students to receive free EPL cards!

As many readers know I’m a passionate supporter of EPL and a former 6 year Edmonton Public Library Trustee. So you can likely imagine my reaction to this exciting collaboration between EPL and EPSB!

I’m overjoyed by the fact that we are working together to improve early literacy and help even more kindergarten kids get free library cards!


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Edmonton Election Advance Voting Oct 4, 2017 — Ward F

The 2017 Edmonton municipal election is being held on Monday October 16th, 2017 from 9AM to 7PM. If you are unable to vote on the October 16th, there will be advanced voting held on Wednesday, October 4th. To find where to vote you can use the Where to vote tool available on the website. 

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What I'm hearing about Inclusion

As I started door knocking in May for my public trustee re-election campaign, one of the most frequent questions I received from teachers and parents (whether they had special needs students in their family or not) was: what do I think of changes to classroom composition?

When I decided to become a trustee candidate in 2010, I took the time to pen out my vision and values. Many of my beliefs and values surrounding public education were honed by researching for the Public School Boards’ Association of Alberta and serving as the President of the Students’ Union at the University of Alberta. Both experiences grounded my vision and values in a belief in a strong public education system guided by the wishes of the community to ensure all voices are heard and every student can succeed....

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Southwest Edmonton Needs New Public Elementary, Junior and High Schools

Southwest Edmonton Needs New Public Elementary, Junior and High Schools

Since I was first elected school trustee in 2010, advocating for the construction of new K-9 and High Schools— especially for the Southwest— has been a top priority.  However, the responsibility for allocating new schools falls solely in the hands of the Provincial Government — not the school board or the city council. This has been the case since 1994, and it is important for you to know the board of trustees are exhausting every single opportunity advocate for new schools, and to make sure public school families get their fair share. Edmonton Public school families are competing for their fair share of school construction money against not only against Calgary and other rural Alberta communities but publicly-funded Catholic and Francophone schools as well. Your voice can help....

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Hello, Bonjour, Guten Tag, Nǐ Hǎo… Second language instruction in Edmonton Public Schools

When it comes to public education, Edmontonians speak with many voices. Over the past few months of door-knocking, I’ve had thousands of conversations about everything imaginable. Overwhelmingly, people have wanted to tell me about the important relationship between their school and their community, but I’ve also heard about school fees, the future of textbooks, and everything in between!

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Strong School and Strong Communities: The New City

The New City by John Lorinc: How the Crisis of Canada’s Cities is Reshaping Our Nation

I picked up THE NEW CITY by John Lorinc about two years ago and I still find myself referencing it once or twice a month. So many fantastic books on urban and city policy are American in scope, but this book examines everything through a uniquely Canadian lens. From aging populations to immigrants to crime to transportation issues to productivity– you name it– Lorinc touches on all of the pressure points affecting our communities and makes a convincing case that the future of our nation sinks or swims with our large urban centers.

I was immediately magnitized to his focus on LEARNING CITIES and the important role that public education plays in building strong cities. His LEARNING CITIES chapter gives an excellent synopsis of pressures facing public education– English language learners, school closures, growing urban aboriginal populations, lack of local control of funding, and much more.

His writing is as enjoyable to read as it is informative...

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