I just wanted to take a second and share a moment of gratitude with you guys and gals.
I'm on the road or rather rails so much lately that its a rare morning I get to pour a cup of coffee and savour being in my house.
My morning mantra consists of the gathering of papers and flyers that have been collecting on my counter, curling up with a fuzzy blanket, my beverage and then claiming my spot on the couch.
And to be very honest The Local is always at the top, it is always my go-to read.
Without fail, every time I finish I hear a little voice in my head that says "well aren't you lucky”?
Your paper represents this town, our home so well....and I'm so proud to see the faces of so many talented and amazing people I call my friends who grace your pages. They inspire me to be a better local and remind me how grateful I am to be a part of this community.
Thank you for the time and attention you put into making these moments happen for me, you can never hear enough appreciation in life and you guys deserve some heartfelt credit for making this happen every two weeks.
Muchas Gracias, Namaste and all that jazz!
To prove their frugality, at a recent meeting of the Member Service Committee (MSC) of the legislature it was decided that MLAs should take a 5% salary cut. MLAs will now receive $127,000. Cabinet Ministers will receive $191,000.
The MSC is a group of MLAs who make decisions about their own pay, benefits, and perks. It’s dominated by government MLAs. One member of the Official Opposition is on the Committee; Rick Strankman, the Wildrose MLA from Drumheller-Stettler.
At the meeting, Strankman said if MLAs wanted to show genuine leadership why not roll back the last 30% pay raise the PC government gave to Cabinet Ministers, plus the 8% raise that was given to MLAs.
Many people don’t realize that MLAs collect tens of thousands of dollars over and above their salaries in what some refer to as postage and handling. Committee Chairs receive an extra $33,500 per year. Deputy Chairs get $16,750. (There are numerous committees in the legislature.)
Dozens of MLAs can also collect nearly $2000 a month to cover the cost of a second mortgage. When an MLA quits or retires, he or she keeps the taxpayer-funded house or condo. For some MLAs, this “benefit” can be the equivalent of a golden handshake. Additionally, MLAs receive 13% over and above their salaries in the form of a cash transfer to an RSP. Then they can collect an additional allowance of almost $5,000 that gets added to the RSP.
MLAs can expense unlimited airfare to and from Edmonton. Many can annually expense 80,000 km at 50 cents a km—$40,000. In effect, taxpayers pay for the vehicle, and at the end of the year the MLA owns it. The vehicle can be sold or given to a family member. Then each year the $40,000 allowance starts all over again. (Normally, people who receive payments for mileage buy their own car washes, oil changes, washer fluid, and the like. Not so with MLAs. They have an allowance for
The point is that a 5% pay cut to the salary portion only of an MLA pay package is not all that different than getting one of those harmless cuts that doesn’t need a Band Aid. In this case, the “healing” is definitely helped along by previous pay hikes and generous perks.
I was alarmed to hear about the Shaw proposal to bring a “free” wifi network to the Jasper townsite by installing micro transmitters on municipal infrastructure around town.
I have two major concerns with this proposal.
First, we should adhere to the precautionary principle. There is far too much uncertainty about the health impacts of electromagnetic radiation (EMF). There is a lot of evidence that EMF exposure impacts the body (not just humans) in negative ways; however, studies that show this are consistently suppressed in our capitalist society where the profit bottom line is everything.
We have enough already of the wifi signals all around us, and it worries me that public space is being bombarded in this fashion. It is becoming increasingly difficult to get away from EMF.
Second, it would be wrong to allow a private company to use public infrastructure in this fashion. Council has been ever-so-careful in the past with certain business activities on public space. We have a situation where you do not allow an ice-cream cart or a busker. Now you wish to entertain Shaw Communications on public infrastructure - permanent fixtures constantly radiating EMF that nobody would have a choice about being exposed to. This is not just a peddle-cart on summer sunshiny days! This would be quite the double standard.
Mayor and council, please just say no to this proposal. I hope that is what I will hear back from you.
I read the recent article, “Remote Cameras Under Scrutiny” with interest as I have raised concerns regarding wildlife monitoring cameras and privacy rights in the recent past.
In my opinion, there’s nothing wrong with using remote cameras to monitor grizzly bears and other important wildlife species, but there is something wrong with an organization that doesn’t respect Canadian privacy laws.
A few quick Google searches revealed some basic privacy rights around the collection of personal images. People have a right to know: Who’s watching; Why; Who has access to the images; What the images will be used for, and; How the images will be safeguarded.
If the images captured on cameras were solely for wildlife monitoring purposes, our concerns could be more easily brushed off, but, because Parks Canada has decided to pass these images on to law enforcement personnel, people are, understandably, uneasy.
From the Jasper Local article, it's difficult to discern if some of these guidelines are being followed in Jasper, but, after having recently returned from a backcountry trip, I know that the requirement of "signs in surveillance areas advising people that the area is under surveillance, who is responsible for the surveillance, and who can be contacted to answer questions or provide information," is not being fulfilled.
Collecting images for wildlife monitoring and security purposes is legitimate, but the end doesn't justify the means when the means are not properly managed. If the wildlife monitoring program is important to help fulfill Jasper National Park's mandate, Parks Canada needs to dot the i's and cross the t's on their remote camera monitoring program, and assure Canadians that our privacy is being respected and protected.