Thursday, 11 July 2013

Turn Up Your CHED

When I was a teenager in the early 1970’s I loved listening to the radio more than watching television. I found my imagination could go to places I didn’t even know existed. Living in Edmonton, the AM giant was 630 CHED and I listened to it whenever I could. Heck, I even snuck my transistor radio under my pillow and listened to it when my parents thought I was fast asleep.

The announcers brought everything to life: Wes Montgomery, Al Anderson, Don Kay, Bob McCord, Bruce Bowie, Len Truenesen, Chuck Chandler, Billy Williams, Keith James and so many more. It is still a great thrill today have them as good, personal friends. Take current CHED morning man Bruce Bowie — who is like a brother to me.  We met in 1976 and our friendship keeps growing. Then, there was Eddie Keen, the former Edmonton Journal reporter who wrote editorials for CHED. I started listening to Eddie when I was 13 and he inspired me to be a newspaper reporter.

This Saturday from 1 to 5 p.m at Northlands CHED is broadcasting like they did in the 1970’s when many people in Edmonton listened. They’re calling it Retro Days and we might hear such things as …

“Right now in downtown Edmonton it’s (temperature) C. H. E. Degrees.”

“(Name) is the 630 CHED Good Guy/Gal of the day.”

•Solid Golden Weekends

•The Golden Wheel

• CHED sunspots

  • the Great Bicycle picnics.

Please send your favorite CHED memory from the 1970’s here.

To jod your memory here is a great retro page put together by Keith James

The question needs to be asked: Who is getting a big pay day because of home care changes?

In all the stories I have read, watched and listened to about Alberta’s home care cuts, I have yet to hear a question silently echoing in the back of my mind. And with health minister Fred Horne announcing Tuesday that he isn’t going to reverse Alberta Health Services’ decision to change home care providers for senior citizens in Alberta, I think the time has come to ask it: who is going to make a buck over these decisions? Who is it? And why are Albertans who are senior citizens and who have physical disabilities going through hell so someone’s bank account is padded?

AHS announced in June the number of home care providers will be reduced from 72 to 13. Large corporations such as Rivera and We Care — just to name a few — were awarded contracts when many local, including non-profits, we told “thanks, but no thanks.” I have cerebral palsy and use home care. I am part of a self-directed program and we were told in February of changes. We were also told we had to submit a proposal for funding, despite successfully running the program since 1997. And here’s the kicker: we were warned if we went to the media or contacted MLA’s our proposal could very well be disqualified. In the end, we didn’t get our funding but shared our story. Just over two weeks later AHS reversed their decision on our program and two others in Edmonton. 

I can’t help but thinking this was in the works for month. Deals were made. Contracts were signed. It would be very interesting to know who made these deals and what connection they had with the successful bidders over so many long standing providers. We may never know. But by the Gods of War: the question needs to be asked.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Home care for Alberta seniors MUST be reversed

Alberta Health Services a provincial health minister Fred Horne really should be ashamed of themselves. Horne spoke to the media Tuesday and said he has no plans of reversing  changes to home care for senior citizens. Horne says he’s facing a time-crunch. Well, Mr. Horne: make more time. Because what you are doing to the very cornerstone of this province is most disrespectful.

Home care touches me personally. I have cerebral palsy and rely on home care so I can be a member of society. When AHS announced in June they were making sweeping changes — including eliminating the self-directed program I use — we bluntly told them “no.” We started a campaign on social media and mainstream media … and we won. Three self-directed contracts were reversed. If AHS and the government did it for us, why can’t they afford the same logical way of thinking for senior citizens? What kind of an example is this for our young people in regards to respecting seniors?

Sadly, I think, this comes down to disrespect from the government. The very fact senior citizens were not consulted about changes to their care doesn’t show much respect. Seniors in Alberta needing home care are being steamrolled. What a disgraceful way to treat Alberta pioneers. They deserve to be honored for all the work they have done by getting the proper care in their golden years. That’s a way to honor them. And Mr. Horne and AHS need to re-think this. Because this is wrong.

Please email me your comments by CLICKING HERE.  We need to circle the wagons again — and make absolutely certain senior citizens in Albertans are respected the way they should.

Where has respecting our elders gone?

I ask you bear with me this morning. Because I try to make Cam ‘n Eggs upbeat, positive and motivational to get your day headed on a good start. Today, however, I cannot. Because I have concerns and several questions of how something so violent and so brazen could happen to a senior citizen in Edmonton — someone who could have been a teacher, a school bus driver, an engineer or who could have been countless other things, and someone who help build this city, this province and this happen.

How? How could an 86-year-old man was working his back yard, police believe, and was robbed and beaten? How could something happen in the bright daylight of 11 a.m. Tuesday? Clearly, there are no clear answers — and perhaps the mystery of such an attack ignites even more questions.

It is indeed interesting sociological study if we consider the world’s population is getting bigger and bigger, and rather than working with one another to help out, often, the exact opposite happens. More to the point, though, we have to ask ourselves where mutual respect has gone? Specifically, in past generations  “respecting your elders” was as common as liking something on Facebook, but now that respect for our seniors — and, in fact, each other — is clearly lacking. Perhaps we can challenge ourselves to be better. Maybe, just maybe, we can start the day off with such a thought.


                             TEXT TAIT HERE

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

A fitting tribute to a man of wonderful song

I PUT MY head outside the door of St. Joseph’s Basilica Monday just after 3 p.m after attending the funeral for Paul Lorieau. It was raining hard, and then there was a tremendous roar of thunder from the heavens, giving us a good sign: Paul had just cleared his throat before starting to sing one of his favorite songs for a performance in heaven. 

Paul was perhaps best known for singing the national anthems at Edmonton Oiler games, and it was evident Monday: several people in the jammed-packed church had Oiler jerseys. I could see how Paul touched so many lives: hockey fans, politicians such as former speaker of the Alberta legislature Ken Kowalski who said he always looked forward to Paul singing O’Canada when the house was sitting, and members of the media who always got a hearty hello from Paul in the press box.

He left us far too young at 71 when cancer took him. But the stories shared at his funeral echoed the wonderful, caring man he was who, until two weeks before his death, delivered food to Hope Mission. He was also a very committed family man. And, of course, there was music — beautiful music — from his family members in the choir and the spine-tingling piano playing from Henri Lorieau. In the end, we sang O’Canada at the end of the service without instruments, a most fitting tribute. You taught us well, my friend; you taught us well. 

Monday, 8 July 2013

Monday Motivators: Craig Styles and Andy Wigston

Sometime Sunday afternoon — perhaps around 4 p.m. — summer officially began for Craig Styles and Andy Wigston. That’s when the ice is finally cleaned at the West Edmonton Mall Ice Palace, the dressing rooms doors are closed for the last time, goodbye handshakes and hugs are exchanged, and — with one last look to make sure everything is just right — Styles and Wigston left the mall. And then their summer vacation begins. It has happened every Sunday in July for the two men since 1989. If Styles and Wigston have their way the tradition will carry on for many years to come.
Craig Styles in the middle with the red shirt

Styles is tournament chair of the Brick Invitational Super Novice Hockey Tournament. Wigston is the tournament’s director. Both employees of The Brick — Wigston is retired and Styles is vice-president of real estate — and were part of the planning process 24 years ago when Brick founder Bill Comrie wanted to start a tournament for nine and 10-year-olds. Styles and Wigston answered the bell. They have managed to produce, year after year, one of the best tournaments in North America. This year they had 14 teams playing with the Toronto Bulldogs winning Sunday’s final 3-1 over the B.C. Junior Canucks.

Andy Wigston
The tournament has seen many players go on to the National Hockey League, semi-pro and university and college hockey. Styles and Wigston are hoping many of the tournament’s alumni return next year for the 25th anniversary tournament. Styles said last week plans are in the works now for the 2014 edition. But I hope Styles and Wigston really don’t start thinking about that until, maybe, next Monday. Because after 18-hour days, countless games, attending to thousands of details, they certainly deserve a break. Well done, gentlemen.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Eskimos big gamble: game against Hamilton Tiger-Cats has many story lines

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If Edmonton Eskimo head coach Kavis Reed likes pressure, he probably can’t wait for today’s game against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Because all eyes will be on Reed — and the entire Eskimo organization. He has always been a gentleman to me over the years and he is a gem of a human being. I want to see him succeed. And so, apparently, do the Eskimos.
...Kavis Reed

Reed, in the final year of a three-year deal, was given an extension to his contract Saturday and the timing seems a bit odd. The Eskimos opened the season with a 39-18 loss against the Saskatchewan Roughriders, and they did not look good: not only did they lack offence, they seemed disorganized, and took several selfish penalties. Perhaps the most noticeable was when the Eskimos lined up the wrong way. Coaching? You decide.

Reed is an intense coach and wears his heart on his sleeve. He also loves a challenge, and maybe that’s the card Esks’ GM Ed Hervey is playing with the contract extension. You might not expect such a carrot would dangle after last
...Ed Hervey
week’s performance. Then again professional sports teams do whatever they have to to win. We’ll find out later today if the latest Eskimo gamble will pay off. It’s a huge wager placed: this could make or break the Edmonton Eskimos, both on and off the field.

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Thursday, 4 July 2013

How can someone in their own home getting home care be called a patient?

Alberta health minister Fred Horne’s comment in Thursday’s Edmonton Journal deserves debate on several levels. We applaud Horne for asking Alberta Health Services — what on God’s green earth were they thinking, anyway — to review drastic cut backs to home care. Earlier in June AHS moved to bring multi-national companies to carry out home care duties. Perhaps the thing that stung the most was how home care clients were not consulted in the process at all. (I receive home care and I have cerebral palsy.)

But we cannot uncork the bubbly and do the happy dance. If you read Horne’s quote near the end of Sarah O’Donnell’s story that should concern Albertans on home care, and people with disabilities throughout Alberta.
. “It’s a matter of dignity for patients who receive home care,” Horne said. With all due respect, how can a person with a physical disability, living in their own home, paying rent or owning their own place, be called a “patient?” I don’t get it. We are Albertans, living in the community, paying taxes, contributing in so many ways — out of the long dark shadows of instructional care — and we are still called patients. What a sad and somewhat archaic commentary on how Horne sees us.

I am a patient if I am in the hospital getting acute care. But not in my own home. I am a resident, a neighbor, and a member of a community league. I resent being called a patient in my own home. Should I ask my wife to wear a nurse’s cap now?

Until attitudes, language and action change towards people with disabilities, the fight for home care — and many other programs — is far from over. 


Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Turning shock and grief into compassion and understanding

The immediate response to a child’s small child alone in a vehicle on an afternoon in record-setting temperatures is profound grief. How could this happen in north Edmonton in temperatures soaring to 40 degrees?  We may feel an incredible sense of helplessness. And, given the past heat wave, emotions can take shapes and sizes we may not even know exist. That’s understandable. But is there any possible way we can transform those emotions into compassion and understanding for a local family going through hell right now?

There are countless questions we can ask about the situation. We will never know the answers. Such a story reaches our emotions on very personal levels. We think of the little people in our own lives and how we would feel if something happened in our own worlds.

The family and friends of the small child needs to be surrounded by the community right now. Some of those people are close family members, others are friends and others will be strangers touched by the story. These are challenging times for our city as it weeps together in this unimaginable situation. But beyond our grief we should challenges ourselves to reach out and try to help. Perhaps doing so defines being a caring citizen.

Paul Lorieau: a man of kindness and unforgettable class

Reporters are lucky people. Because we get to see the real, human side of people: up close and personal. While thousands see and hear someone from afar or on television, we get to have interactions with stars. In some cases, we even get to have dinner with them. And those are the thoughts I am having now when I think of the passing of Paul Lorieau.

Mr. Lorieau will be known best for his thundering renditions of O’Canada at Edmonton Oiler games. He always had time to say hello — whether it be on the way to sing on centre ice or on his way out of the building. When I was writing a column for the sports department of the Edmonton Journal in 2006, I saw what class Mr. Lorieau had. I wrote my column during the Stanley Cup playoffs from the media dining room at Rexall Place and tried to file it at the end of the first period.

Mr. Lorieau came up for dinner after he sang O Canada. When I was finished writing I often asked if I could join him for a cup of coffee and piece of pie as he was finishing dinner. I have cerebral palsy and use a wheelchair so when I approached his table I was sitting down. Mr. Lorieau always stood up to greet me and gave me a firm but warm handshake. We would talk about many things, especially family, before leaving the dining room for second period action.

A true gentleman with endless class is how I will always remember Paul Lorieau. My job as a reporter afforded me to see that. As a person I was so lucky to have shared time with him.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Casseroles out; cash and greetings in for Calgary

I jumped the gun earlier today. I had an idea about making casseroles for the people in Calgary effected by the floods: folks that lost their homes and people who had food go bad in their homes because fridges didn’t have any power. The Calgary Food Bank is in need of food, so I thought maybe people could ban together. Make casseroles, I thought — by the hundreds. Freeze them and then deliver them.

Thanks to my good friends Bruce and Jack set me straight. The idea would never fly, let alone go truckin’ down Highway 2. Too many health regulations. As Jack said taking a casserole over the fence to a neighbor is a whole different issue than cooking up hundreds of casseroles. And he’s right.

There’s still an opportunity to help. The best thing is cash. Then, the Food Bank can buy what they need. Their link is right here.

And if you decide to make a contribution and you add something to your gift — perhaps a few words of encouragement. Send them here and we will get them to the people of Calgary.

Twitter @camtait

Let's go! Casseroles for Calgary

Let’s get a collection of casserole recipies. All kinds. Then, we’ll put the word out for volunteers to make as many casseroles as they can by next weekend and ask them to freeze them. We’ll put the call out for a trucking company that has a refrigerated semi-trailer who will take all the casseroles for a three-hour drive south of Edmonton. Maybe, we could find some hotels that would keep the casseroles cold until they could be delivered to people who need them.

And we need a name for our project? How about Casseroles for Calgary?

Because they need help. A newspaper Monday said the Calgary Food Bank is having trouble keeping food on the shelves following the floods that hit the city two weeks ago. Not only people who lost their homes are turning to the Food Bank for help; but other Calgarians who went without power for some time. Their food in fridges has turned bad, and they need a hand.

We can ban together here. Certainly, food items are welcome at the Food Bank. But here’s a chance for us to get some home cooking to folks who could really use it. So if you would like to cook, drive, give us a name of a trucking company, suggest a few hotels in Calgary, send in a casserole recipe or help out in any way, click below.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Honor Canada Day with dignity

We’ve all done it before: when the sun rises on a day marking an anniversary of something that went horribly wrong, we — often silently — wonder if, because of the date, history will repeat itself. The folks in Edmonton probably had that very thought today — hours before darkness falls over the city and fireworks. Because this is the 12th anniversary of the Canada Day aftermath that gave this city a bad image across the country, if not North America.
...a picture from July 2, 2002

Re-hashing details of what happened after 2 a.m. July 2 where crowds grew as high as 1,200 on Edmonton’s Whyte. Ave. is pointless. Edmonton’s civic pride took a great hit, among other things. A City of Edmonton report says the police costs and some clean-up of the riot exceeded $312,000. The city had to pay for it, absolutely. But one can wonder if other services had to be paired back or even cut.
Celebrating Canada Day is a national tradition. We deserve to. We have every right to boast the maple leaf and wear red and white colors with pride. We need to. But as we do that later tonight, let’s take some pride in our cities, provinces, and of course, our country. Let’s not harm anyone or disrespect any part of our country. Perhaps if we do that we will honor the best way possible.

...fireworks in Edmonton


The view across the gravel road on past Canada Day mornings

My father's home town: Meota, Sask.: 30 km north of North Battleford
I am very fortunate to be able to picture things quite clearly in my mind’s eye. And if you don’t mind I want to share how I shared so many July 1 mornings in Meota, Sask. with my parents in their retirement home overlooking Jackfish Lake. It started with my mother making pancakes and serving them on a tick oak table. We chatted for close to an hour and drank countless cups of coffee.

...the deck where I spent hours

I wheeled myself onto a freshly-stained — Dad stained it, I think, every month. The deck was raised over the lawn where tall popular trees towered. A gravel road was right in front of the lawn where cars drove slowly. Across the road stood another bank of trees before the land took a steep dip down to the lake. We couldn’t see the shoreline from the deck, but the rest of the view certainly makes up for it.

And that’s the view I looked at for hours. Jackfish Lake is 18 kms wide: you can barely see the other side of it. My wind often got washed up in the water of the lake: on those quiet days when it looked like glass, and those times when a storm was coming in from the north, and the lake was choppy — even a little angry.
....the view we had of the lake, across the gravel road

I share such images with you in hopes Canada Day morning is filled with every person and every thing you hope to see.

Friday, 28 June 2013

Extending Friday afternoon for many decades

Friday afternoon before the July 1st long weekend is always exciting. It’s the cursor summer holidays, and perhaps the most telling sound is the laughter of children in school playgrounds today. It’s the end of the school year when so countless children — like our grandson Nicholas, who bids farewell to Grade 4. There are hundreds of Edmonton Grade 12 students who probably could use a few extra hours of sleep today since there were several graduations Thursday night.

Whether kids are starting kindergarten or graduating from university, they all have one common denominator: they are our future. They are going lead our cities, provinces and country. They are going to provide inspiration and motivation. They will, of course, need help — but that opens the doors for their family and friends to help. Every student who graduates or passes into a new chapter this afternoon needs to be celebrated.

In Canada, we celebrate the end of June with trips to the lake. Maybe the mountains. Maybe even just an afternoon trip to that special place off the beaten path for a family picnic. We will use our highways. They will be busy. Perhaps it’s a reminder to slow down, to be careful, to be alert … to drive safe. It’s a glorious Friday afternoon. Let’s make everyone has the opportunity to enjoy their full potential, starting Tuesday morning and many years beyond.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Home care worker concerned about dangerous driving conditions (PART 2 OF 2)

Just imagine the frustration. Imagine a home care worker, on a cold winter day, trying to get to their next visit to care for and to help. And their vehicle — even a four-wheel drive — breaks down because of wear and tear. Imagine how it would feel, knowing someone is depending on you, but because of a new payment structure, you’re stuck … and can’t do the thing you love to do.

Donna says that is a bigger reality than we might want to think. Donna works for WeCare and drives to and from people in the community. But Alberta Health Services re-wrote a new contract with WeCare. Donna, not her real name, says WeCare workers will no longer be compensated for the distance they drive. “We only make between $15-17 dollars an hour as caregivers. By the time we take all our expenses off our hourly wage we will be making less than minimum wage. As you can appreciate this is unacceptable and all qualified people are leaving their jobs Aug. 1.  It is impossible to run a vehicle with no money.”

She continues: “I fear for caregivers driving old, unreliable vehicles down gravel roads in the middle of a snowstorm. This is dangerous.  We will have casualties in the field.”

And that is … unimaginable.

Guest blogger Ron Plant on Rick Hansen


When I read the 4000+ word article that David Baines wrote Vancouver SUN, questioning the ‘FINANCIAL STEWARDSHIP’ of the Rick Hansen Foundation, it raised a few questions for me.

1.How many months has this man devoted to this story, and what was his motivation?
2.Why, of all the prospective targets to finger point, would you choose this topic for your swan song? Enjoy your retirement, Mr. Baines.
3.What business is it of David Baines, how the Rick Hansen Foundation is run, or what compensation Rick Hansen receives?

In my opinion, if Baines is afforded months to conspire and craft his… ummm… complaint, exposé, or whatever it is, shouldn’t the folks at the Rick Hansen Foundation be given some time to respond? That is IF they feel the need to respond at all. Why is it that after a cursory read through of one reporter’s article, some members of the public (many of whom have never read a financial statement in their lives) start throwing around words like fraud, and demanding explanations? Rick Hansen doesn’t owe me any explanation, and I dare say he likely doesn’t owe you one either.

To me, Rick Hansen is a man who has made huge strides in affecting public perception of persons with disabilities. He has given hope to generations of persons with spinal cord injuries and related disorders through significant, ongoing research fundraising efforts, and has shown a spirit of determination in the face of adversity well beyond what the average person has. You ever roll around the world in a wheelchair? Me neither.
If I have any point to make here at all, it is simply: Don’t rush to judgment. Even at 4,000 words, David Baines hasn’t given us all the facts, nor do we have any feedback from the foundation. Or does that not matter in the court of public opinion?

An unlikely hero speaks volumes

We may not have heard Jacqui Brocklebank’s name until earlier last week, but it’s a name we need to remember. Brocklebank lived in High River and had cerebral palsy. Sadly, the 33-year-old died because of the flood: and the way she died was so unselfish. More importantly, Brocklebank showed how we all can help others, and how people with disabilities aren’t always on the receiving end of getting assistance.

Brocklebank’s mother Janie Pighin tells CBC her daughter knew everyone in town. Brocklebank lived in her condo on the east side of High River, which was safe from the flooding. But she was worried about others. So she left her home, concerned about friends in trouble. It was then when Brocklebank was swept up in flood waters and died. It is tragic: words can’t even come close to describing.

Brocklebank needs to be remembered as a hero. She put the safety of others before hers. She accepted the risk of her disability, but put in behind her. She has made a profound statement of how people with disabilities help others, even in dangerous situations. And, for me, her story is something I will never forget.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Guest blogger Marie Renaud Martin on Rick Hansen


It was hard to even read the Vancouver Sun's article. We live in a country where young hockey players make more than some small countries. Yes, Rick Hansen's fund raising goal was huge and he fell short. The man went around the WORLD in a wheelchair. It makes sense that he thinks big. He made a mistake. So what?

If Rick Hansen makes hundreds of thousands, I am happy he does. He has given his adult life to raising awareness. In Alberta, our government pays volunteer appointed board members hundreds of thousands of dollars in honorariums and we don't even flinch. All about perspective. So Mr. ex-Sun writer, good for you, you can read a financial statement, point out mistakes and manipulate words. How have you positively impacted our world?


Poll: What do you think of Rick Hansen Foundation story in the Vancouver Sun

 There have been many comments about the Vancouver Sun story on the weekend where columnist David Baines questions the management of the Rick Hansen Foundation. Baines, who took a recent buy-out from the Sun, took 4,100 words to examine the foundation, specifically the 25th anniversary celebration. In his story, Baines also looks at Hansen’s compensation.

Hansen declined to be interviewed for the story. In an earlier blog I said — and I still believe — he needs to publicly respond. Many of the comments I have heard say Hansen really hasn’t done anything wrong. Perhaps Chris Minchau summed it up on Facebook best:

"I glanced through the article and my mind soon glazed over. I once had a college instructor, who said "Figures lie - and liars figure". The reporter throws out a lot of numbers, and implies wrong-doing without directly naming names. Looks like a straight up hatchet job to me, a final farewell from a mean spirited reporter, who apparently just announced his retirement. I figure when the reporter has raised even 1 percent of what the Rick Hansen Foundation has over the past 25 years, then he gets to complain!”

What do you think? Is the piece justified? Do you think Hansen is hiding from something? Or is the story so out in left field and unfair? We really want to know!


We are going to close voting Thursday. So please have your say.