Agree or Disagree: The Podcast-Danielle Smith and the WRP Crossing

Agree or Disagree: The Podcast-Danielle Smith and the WRP Crossing.

My friend Kevin Olenick has gathered some interesting people to talk about the now notorious crossing of Wildrose leader Danielle Smith and the 8 other members of the party, better known now as the Wildrose Nine.

Steven Britton is an outspoken libertarian, affiliated to no party, but a well known prior supporter of Wildrose.

Derek Fildebrandt was once the defender of the Canadian taxpayer, and now a spokesperson for the Oil Industry. While not a member of any known party, he considers himself to be politically right in general, and a facinating person to know.

Robyn Moser is one of Calgary’s brightest real estate stars. Stunning, clever and charming, she’s a staunch self proclaimed PC supporter, and one who sees Premier Prentice as a true leader.

It’s an interesting mix of people , all on the right, who have their unique outlook on Alberta politics, and by far have great unique insight on the crossing that most Albertans do NOT know and should. And more importantly, they’re the ones to know to see the story still unfolding in the backgroud.

2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 5,800 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

After the Wildrose Storm, An Assessment and Answers

Wow. What an insane past few days. An action that I did out of conscience became a firestorm that brought out the best and the worse of the political spectrum in Alberta. Even now, there’s a few detractors who are apparently still attacking me, but as I blocked the majority of them, I really haven’t read them.

So,I’m assuming you probably know the firestorm over the week. If not, just Google my name or read my resignation. It’s been an interesting week.

So…. here goes. Soooo much came out of this, that it’s a LONG BORING read. Try not to fall asleep, but I’ll give you my blessings (and that of the Flying Spaghetti monster) if you do.

WERE YOU EVER REALLY A MEMBER OF THE WILDROSE?

I’ve been a card carrying member from 2009-2014. I actually believe in Danielle Smith. I believe her to be a politician of strong character and respect her actions and work. To me, she would have made an magnificent Premier.

What I ceased to believe in is the Party in itself. The majority of the party are actually respectable everyday people, who actually care about where our province goes. But for a vocal minority like outspoken angry children who believe in a different regressive view as the way to bring Alberta back to greatness, are equally passionate in their belief as I am in mine. The problem is in ideology, their culture which is inherently opposite to what I believe to be ethical and moral , made it impossible for me to stay. I believe that this angry group has taken over the party direction, much like the minority Tea Party has done to the Republican party in the States. But in a more progressive Alberta, this bird doesn’t fly except in the sticks.

WHY DID YOU JOIN IN THE FIRST PLACE? 

The Party as a whole has a HUGE image problem. A far bigger problem is that so very few members truly understand or gets it. It’s basically being stuck in a time of movie theatre news reels in a modern age of the internet. If they couldn’t win 4 by-elections, a time when traditionally an opposing party can get a seat out of protest, in a time of near perfect hatred of the PC party, then what hope is there in a general election. The polls in 2012 proved that the Lake of Fire proved that this is a sticking point of distrust among the city populace. And for 148 people to vote away the statement and give the appearance that the Lake of Fire was sanctioned by the party entire? Deplorable and disappointing.

The WR really do need more members like myself. Yes there are the odd Indian, Chinese , black visible minority, but do you see these numbers actually growing? My brief time in WR has showed me that the purpose why I joined, to use my communication expertise that the WR COULD have been inclusive was badly needed. The revocation of the statement has made that job 100x harder, especially considering that I no longer believe in it myself.

I still believe in the need for a strong opposition. I am NOT trying to discredit and destroy the WildRose as I made my stance out of personal belief. If anything, I truly hope the party rank and file will use this unexpected firestorm to be an opportunity to reflect, and for once truly listen to those minorities (religious, sexual, etc) that their actions mistakenly spat on. Changing it to a vague ALL wasn’t the way to do so. And their concerns that it would be too difficult for Albertans to understand and would be confusing. Bulls***. It was word for word VERBATIM from Section 15 of Canada’s Charter of Rights, which has been around since 1982. Are they honestly trying to say that a statement guaranteeing the rights of citizens that has been around for 32 years is now suddenly confusing? The WR was built not just as a protest against the PC, but also as a party of hope, which is now endangered by a group dedicated to bring it back to the 1950s.

As for why an Asian, atheist, and a dad of a gay kid, thought he might best be able to bring an inclusive message? Honestly, who better? Right now, the general appearance of the average WR member is that of a right wing fringe god fearing white rural landowner. I was LITERALLY the exact opposite of that stereotypical image. If someone such as I was willing to look past the stereotype, and gave that message of welcome, then I would have been far more likely to build a dialog. There’s a classic saying, “Only Nixon could go to China” that explains it all.

WHAT ABOUT THE LAKE OF FIRE? WHY DIDN’T YOU LEAVE THEN?

Because I believed that the whole Lake of Fire was just the voice of one person. I still do. But as for why Danielle did not speak out about it, she is a true Libertarian in the definition of the word. However, thanks to the US political process, being a libertarian is now equated to be a lunatic fringe member of the Tea Party, when at the very heart of libertarianism is simply the belief that the rights of the individual matters. That’s why I didn’t leave. I would have faulted the entire party for 1 person, just as I don’t fault the entire party for a loud mouthed minority as well. What I DO fault the party is that it’s following the lead of this destructive angry group.

YOU DID THIS FOR PERSONAL GAIN, YOUR 15 MIN OF FAME, TO RUN FOR OFFICE, ETC?

Er, wha?

What gain? This was a VOLUNTEER POSITION. I posted it in a blog that maybe got 10-30 hits a week just to clarify my stance. I didn’t look for the press, they came to me. And while I was satisfied with what I said was enough, it was hacks from the fringe of WR that encouraged me to face them and speak. Personal gain? None. If anything I acquired quite a few enemies across the entire province. I’ve been attacked over and over again in the media and in talk shows. Why did I speak out anyways? Easy. If you see my statement of purpose, I see myself as a knight and a protector. The minute the word got out, I was attacked almost immediately. I will NOT abide bullies, period. If that concept is so difficult to understand, in a time that we’re actively striving to stop bullies at all aspects of life, then take a good hard look and find out why so cynical?  To not back the strength of your convictions, good, bad or misguided, is the act of a coward.

As for the 15 min of fame? For what? It serves me nothing but headaches for the last few days. I really do have better things to do than be heckled by losers all over the net. I work in a field where anonymity is treasured, not discouraged.

And really, to run as a liberal? If they actually bothered to read my resignation, they’ll see that I really don’t find the Liberal Party or the NDP party very effective. In fact, mind showing me where’s the nomination papers that I apparently prepared to run for any seat with any party for that matter? I don’t have political aspirations.

WHAT ABOUT YOUR FRIENDS IN WR?

Yes, there were way quieter ways to do this. Way more peaceful ways to do this.Yes, I know I upset quite a few. Politics is politics. I had never intended to offend my friends in WR, but neither was going to be polite about this. If they ever truly understood who I am and what I represent, then I believe my continued inclusion in their lives is probably a good thing. If they don’t, then we probably were never friends in the first place. It’s just like my friends who are religious. I don’t believe in what they do, but we have mutual respect and hopefully love.

SURROGATE FATHER?

Oh, that’s probably the best description I can give. My son, Terry, is not my son by blood or law. I was his godfather (during my catholic days) and he was named after me. His mom, my first love, is a story all told in my blog entries under “The Days Before Tomorrow”. When she divorced her husband, she had intended to get back with me and have Terry formally adopted, when things went awry and in culminated with her accidental death. He’s my son in every way that matters, and he’s presently rocking it as a chef in the US.

ABSOLUTE HATRED OF RELIGION?

Those who read the first draft, and some others who are trying to discredit me, happened to notice that the original text stated “Absolute hatred of religion” was changed to “rejection of organized religion”. Why did I change it or tone it down? Easy, a conversation with a quite polite believer in religion had simply stated that “there’s too much hate” as it is. Considering that the entire point of my resignation was because I rejected the WR anti-LGBT minority agenda, which is based in religion and hatred in itself, countering hate with hate probably isn’t the way to go. After that chat, she convinced me to at least tone it down. I’m still quite anti-organized religion, and I know people are constantly telling me why am I never promoting the good it does. Let’s put it this way… if your best friend was a great charity organizer and helped out thousands of people a year, hell, let’s make it millions, but liked to rape small children every once in awhile, would you condone such actions for the greater good? To me, why are we all following a belief created by bronze-age men trying to explain why it rained?

WHAT NOW?

Honestly, I don’t know. Anyone who knows me knows I joined the PC Party specifically only to vote AGAINST Ric McIver during the leadership vote, and that was all about the Street Church march. I don’t see a home there as they themselves have no such protections. Alberta Party actually is much closer to my philosophy over all, and after the Glenmore Rally, I actually gave my full support to Greg Clark in his run to for Calgary-Elbow. I’m not sure about that either though. As for the Liberal and NDP, my opinion hasn’t changed. I have the greatest respect for Dr. Swann, Kent Hehr, and Laurie Blakeman, but there’s very little chance of them ever taking government. The possibility to take back Opposition is also unlikely in the immediate future. However, a certain announcement by a former news reporter does have an appeal to me.

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So in the end, let the critics make their rants. Honestly, given the choice between appeasing a bunch of angry misguided people and being able to be with my friends and my son with pride, I know I made the right choice. It was a no brainer. I look forward to see what will happen in the future.

Signed, Terrence Lo

PS: My predictions – Bill 202 probably will pass, but any vote by WR is now seen as a mea culpa for the AGM as opposed to genuine concern for the LGBT. Wildrose gets slaughtered in the 2016 elections and relegated to a fringe rural party. That vocal minority uses the election loss as reason to get rid of Danielle Smith and probably bring in Rob Anderson, and the party swings far right. The party will be relegated to what the Reform Party was seen as, a fringe party with no chance of ever gaining power.

A Statement of Belief and Defense of Principle

Today, I made a small stand for what I believed in, leading to what probably was the shortest time I’ve ever held office as VP Communications for the Wild Rose Party in Calgary-Glenmore, and the end to my association with the party as well. Being the surrogate dad to a gay son, Asian, AND atheist, I was always an unusual member of the party. But a few events in the last year made me realize that I was in a place that was morally (to me) untenable. I resigned today with no reservations.

Wild Rose 2014 Resignation Letter – Click Here to Read

I’ve always seen myself as a fiscal conservative, but socially liberal. I believe in a balanced budget, responsible use of the public purse and more. But I’ve never hidden the fact that I’m a strong supporter of women’s rights, LGBTQ rights and a firm rejection of organized religion. I would suppose that would make me a moderate of sorts. I also try to emulate and follow a modern version of chivalry, whereas the highest aspirations of a person should be in service of others, and built a name in support of charity and goodwill in Calgary. I despise anyone who will not support the strength of their convictions, and I really do try to back my own acts come what may.

Until the WildRose, there really was/is no alternative to the PC Party. The Liberal and NDP parties are ineffective at best, absolutely forgettable at worse. I joined in 2009 and helped here and there and saw the party fortunes rise in the run up to 2012. In the belief of true libertarianism, where individual rights are more important than political expediency in the Lake of Fire debacle, leader Danielle Smith showed me true strength of character if not necessarily political realism. The party ended up managing to seize the jaws of defeat from total victory. But from that, a statement of equality (to atone of sorts) came from it, one that was truly inclusive. I believed I had found my place politically AND potentially ethically as well.

Even when the WildRose actually joined with the PC to vote down a bill to give LGBT youth a place to be safe, with that statement, I believed I might have been able to play a some sort of role to help shift social beliefs to create a truly inclusive party that can run Alberta responsibly. But alas, it was in the recent by-elections that I soon found myself encountering serious doubts.

At the Glenmore Inn election rally in October, I was going around talking to rank and file members to get an idea of what sort of issues they were encountering while door to door knocking. One thing they kept encountering among potential voters was doubt that the WildRose had put the Lake of Fire truly in the past. In face to face and online talks, I had spoken with other WildRose members who truly believed that any animosity of perception of racism and intolerance was over. But being a member of a sports team with gay members, and looking around at random WR events, I knew this was far from the truth. What was sad was this was confirmed as I walked around. But in those several chats, what especially disturbed me was that LGBT people were described as “uppity” and “whiners”. This wasn’t a bad joke, or even a casual careless statement. Looking at each face, it was an honest belief. Needless to say, I was actually angry, no more like pissed and furious, on TV as I was positioned to stand right behind Danielle at the rally. I was close to storming off that day, but calmed down by the end of her speech.

Happy me, and pissed off me on live tv after hearing from members that LGBT people were "uppity"

Happy me, and pissed off me on live tv after hearing from members that LGBT people were “uppity”

The more I was talking with members after the event, I was honestly horrified to see how truly clueless so many of them were about how WR was being perceived (though I admittedly was thinking more in terms of how to get the right message out to the voters AND the members). But with a useless slogan (send the PCs a message), the use of negative ads (which has proven to disenchanted voters in the US) and a surprising rise by the Alberta Party in Calgary – Foothills with a message of hope, I realized that the party might have been hijacked by the right-wing and was shifting right. I still had some hope that this might just be a bad sampling and only representative of individual opinions until this weekend.

This past weekend at the AGM, the party, either in the misguided misunderstanding that nothing LESS than the statement of equality would do after the Lake of Fire event, or out of genuine desire to swing far right, actually BACKTRACKED and voted out the 2013 statement that affirmed and protected HUMAN RIGHTS.

In that moment, the party actually went against their leader and the recommendation of the MLAs, and basically said “screw you” to groups that have never felt included, or protected adequately compared to the white, christian majority. And the sad part, the membership seems to be falling on the argument that the more generic “ALL” statement supported is more than adequate. It’s far from that. In an ideal world, where peace reigns and harmony rises upon the streets, then it would be. But not a single member can comprehend ever the fear of a LGBT or minority kid who’s been beat up by another kid who belongs to that majority. As this vote proves to many outside of the party, “All” in the context of a Wild “Lake of Fire” Rose means the same as the famous statement in Orwell’s Animal Farm: ‘All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.’

This vote confirmed to me that the misguided angry beliefs of a minority of the rank and file holds actual sway in party policy. I’ve since spoken to another notable ethnic member who confirmed a similar experience as well over years. Ideologically, I believe now that the party is swinging far right again on social issues, and as such, totally in opposition to my own beliefs. And ANY party that visibly does not protect my son, is one that has lost my support, and in fact, earned my opposition.

I’ve been asked to stay, to reconsider and try to rebuild from scratch and be a part of the culture. I can’t. I wouldn’t ever be able to face my friends and my son with any pride or self-respect. To me, to serve in WildRose while it shifts right is an act of cowardice and insults those I love and care for. But I will find a way to serve, even if it means finding some way to reform through another party, or as a voice on the sidelines.

It’s time to reassess my political direction in this province that I love and dedicated myself to better for all. Just a funny thing to mention though, I worked to get elected VP Communications because I wanted the right message about the WildRose to get across. As my first major act as VP Comm, I believe I actually did just that, by sending a farewell message to the party.

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One minor addendum. I actually did wonder briefly tonight if I should walk away quietly and not go any further. Then a particular malcontent and probably misguided fellow started to attack me relentlessly on Twitter board. I won’t mention his name, but his idea of insults are actually a badge of honour. He reminded me of the people I spoke to at the Rally… and as a result, I walk away proudly. And I won’t be silent.

(11-22-2014 Special note: There’s been a few questions that emerged over this whole tempest in a teapot. I’ve written a follow up blog piece that’s probably too long, a bit dull, but should clarify some things. You can read AFTER THE WILDROSE STORM here. )

The State of Terry 2014 – A Unique Year

(This is more of a personal musing on a life overly lived this past year. It may be of interest, it may not. But in the end, it’s an insight into the life of a quirky lover of Calgary.) Wow. As of Oct 15, I’ve spent 44 yrs. on this dusty ol’ planet of ours. 44 years where I got to see my waistline go from 0 to an astounding 48 and settle on 34. 44 yrs where I had to live with the knowledge of the lives I’ve saved, failed to, and outright lost through tragedy and simple fate. And 44 yrs to see my life evolve once more from someone who served a few to one who found a new path to help. Oh, and 44 yrs where I learned to write in overly sentimentalist terms. Ok, enough with the maudlin style of writing. Overly poetic and melodramatic, though the practice would help me get a job scripting the next Thor movie.

Struggling to keep the pants away... (with Kyle MacQuarrie, pic by Neil Zeller)

Struggling to keep the pants away… (with Kyle MacQuarrie, pic by Neil Zeller)

Now let’s see, I turned 44 last week. I’ve helped raise over $40K directly for charity in the last 18 months, and highlighted the Calgary food scene. I’ve left the Investigation business to become a Social Media Manager, and apparently a pretty decent food event creator as well. I’m well regarded in several social media circles, both locally and internationally, and even had a chance to highlight old media skills once more. More importantly, I did this all while wearing pants most of the time. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2PTLKPx4kHA In this time, I’ve come to enjoy my new position as a surrogate father to a gay son (go Terry… so proud of you) and a daughter that reminds me an awful lot of her late mom. Dragon boat paddling is still my passion in sports, though as the years go by I’ve started to see that my final years of competition are upon me as my back isn’t what it used to be. I’ve seen some great restaurants come up, and met far more interesting people. What I have found though… – I’ve definitely become an outspoken atheist. As per my prior posts, I’ve found that the ongoing hypocrisy of organized religion is a far bigger problem than a support. I’m basically burning my political future with this statement, but I would rather be known as being true to my lack of belief than to mollify the sensitivities of theists; – I have so much to learn about being a dad of a LGBT kid. I’m trying though. I’m trying. It’s amazing what that sort of insight has done to my worldview, and I refuse to ever be quiet about their rights ever again as I was during my theist days. If anyone else wants to give me some advice, I’d love to know. – For that matter, I have so much to learn about being a dad of a 19 yr old daughter. In the almost 2 years we’ve gotten back together, she’s had 1 fiance, then a husband, was pregnant, then not, and still managed to succeed in law school. And that’s before I even get to all of the little lessons I’ve been discovering about the mindset of a girl. I always wanted a daughter of my own. Now that I do, I love and cherish her indeed, but I have to admit that it’s been a heck of a roller coaster ride. – The year to come will be a critical year in terms of special plans and personal growth. If you thought YYC Burger Week and YYC Pizza Week was impressive, keep an eye out. This is LITERALLY the start. – A year since the YYC Floods, I love my home city ever more. So where is this post going? I’m really not quite sure myself right now, as when I normally write I do have a tale in mind. Did I learn anything? Probably. Was it anything useful? Probably not. But what I can say… I’m surprised by the numbers of people who I’m proud to call my friends, my family and most importantly, the travellers who follow my path and dreams along the way. For that, I thank you all. And I’ll hopefully see you all soon. Cheers.

Cheers.

Cheers.

From Terry’s PI Files : The Sleeping Baby

Newborn kids are always a bit of a nightmare for parents of any sort. There’s the crying, the diapers, the feeding, the burping, and on and on and on… it’s a chase to keep up with a tiny little carbon based machine that does nothing that burp, poops and eats.  Sure they’re cute, but the act gets old really fast. It’s no small wonder that a lot of parents, especially the parents involved in busy office jobs, bring in armies of nannies from overseas to help.

Sleeping peacefully and safely...or is he?

Sleeping peacefully and safely…or is he?

Tell me if you heard this one, a single busy mother brings in a nanny from overseas. She’s just finishing her maternity, and is understandably worried that her baby might get abused or hurt by this new stranger living in her home. She still takes a leap of faith, and lets things go on for a few weeks, and surprisingly, everything seems to go well. But soon enough, her suspicions kicks in as her young son is always dead asleep every afternoon when she gets home with no variation at all. Still, everything seems fine, 

That’s where I was brought in. She came to my office, not knowing exactly what she wanted to know. Really, all she needed was some comforting to see that her baby was being treated like gold. So, clock radio camera in hand and a few other choice items, I soon had my client’s home ready and set for an observation.

From KJBSecurity.com, a selection of Hidden Cameras Available for the home

From KJBSecurity.com, a selection of Hidden Cameras Available for the home

Camera one was in the nursery, two in the kitchen and a third in the living room, all the hot spots where you’d expect activity to occur. I would have added another in the bathtub, but privacy issues for the client and the nanny prevented that understandably.

It really didn’t take long. The following day, the camera system recording a day in the life of the busy household. There was feeding, burping, barfing, crying, giggling and more, all as expected in the main feeds from the living room and nursery. But it was the kitchen camera that was unusual. While preparing the afternoon feeding, the nanny had grabbed a droplet and poured something into the milk. It was pretty unusual behavior, and I followed up quickly by showing my client the video.

Did you know that most people only start to develop any sort of resistance to alcohol until their teens? That’s why it takes as little as a thimble full of cognac to knock out a kid. But a baby? Only a few drops of relatively odorless vodka is needed. And guess what had been added to the child’s milk every day for weeks?

Evidence in hand, the client pressed criminal charges immediately. All sorts of hi jinks came about and once the debris had settled, the nanny in question opted to return back to her home country and be banned from returning to get a suspended sentence. 

Any lesson from this? No one expects the Spanish Inquisition? Cameras save lives? There are so many things you can take from it, but all I can say is that I’m relieved that the little boy, now 5 yrs old, seems to have recovered with no ill effects.

Terry’s Old PI Files – The First Wife Stalker

One of my first cases was probably one of the simplest ones I’ve ever been involved in, but easily the most memorable.

Frustration... but who's at fault?

Frustration… but who’s at fault?

A woman walked into my office and stated that her husband was being incredibly unfaithful. There was quite a story after, but it still boiled down to infidelity and wanting proof for divorce hearings. After explaining my pricing, she opted to just put a GPS tracker on the family car, so she could always find his whereabouts.

The GPS Tracker

The GPS Tracker

That was that. I thought that would be the last of this, but it’s interesting where circumstances falls in the strangest places. About a week later, a fellow walks in and tells me about the week from hell he’d been in. You see, he was separated from his insanely jealous wife, and had started to build a life for himself. He had a new bachelor pad, social friends and more importantly, a new girlfriend. But suddenly, his soon-to-be-ex wife was showing up everywhere he and his girl went. They could be in a picnic in the woods, there she would be. A public restaurant? There the wife would be in the next booth. He even saw her trying to find him in a movie theatre during the show! Needless to say, he really wasn’t quite thrilled.

Equally Frustrated... but why?

Equally Frustrated… but why?

When he told me when the timing as well, the proverbial lightbulb magically clicked on above me. My heart kinda sank as I was absolutely sure that his wife was the lady last week, but what to do? I couldn’t explain that his wife had probably bought a GPS tracker from me. So, girding myself for possible discovery, I sat him down and explained that someone may have put a GPS tracker onto his vehicle. We went through the defense options, and in the end, he opted to buy a special Radio Frequency detector that could find such GPS devices.

All was well in the world again… or so I thought. A week passed by, and I honestly put this whole affair out of my mind. Strange how when you’re right, fate seems to always want to have a hand with the joke!

The original woman who came in, and asked for my help again! You see, the tracker had done it’s job too well, and she was always able to find her “wayward” husband. She was able to prove he was “cheating”, but then suddenly she noticed her husband started going back and forth to Edmonton. So one day, she started to follow the signal for a full day, only to find out she was following a GREYHOUND bus. She didn’t know what else to do, but we chatted for awhile after…. (what happened later is another tale)

Catch the Greyhound!

Catch the Greyhound!

Not long after, I received a phone call from the gent, who told me that he DID find a GPS device and attached it to a bus out of town. He was pretty sure that was the problem, because he had 3 days of uninterrupted peace and quiet from his wife. Needless to say, I found the whole thing amusing.

So what lesson to impart? Nothing that’s mind breaking or soul shattering, except maybe… what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. :)