Thursday, 18 July 2013

The Cam-burger: Edmonton Prospects need to fold their tent at Telus Field

  The Edmonton Prospects don’t deserve to play at such a high-calibre as Telus Field. Because for the second consecutive season the Prospects are ending their 46-game schedule without their coach who began the year. Sometime last week Prospect manager Cameron McMullen left the team. We’re seeing a pattern here: last mid-July John Sutherland was fired or quit — doesn’t really matter, though — leading to a mass exit of players, forcing the team to forfeit a game. They had to scrounge and recruit enough players for their remaining games. I can’t help but wonder if some of the current Prospect players might be already thinking about high-tailing it before the end of the season. 

The team is laughable. Their owner Pat Cassidy isn’t going to fire the team’s manager, Tracy Neumann because (but sshh!!! —don’t tell anyone) they’re married. Wouldn’t that be fun over a family Sunday dinner? It’s not even funny how this baseball club has been run, and speaking of baseball, they can’t even play. After Wednesday’s loss, their Western Major Baseball League record is 6-31. Interestingly, they only won six games last season. 

 The Prospects are doing more harm than good: what kind of an atmosphere have they created for their players? How are they going to recruit when they they can’t coaches? How are they helping the baseball image in Edmonton, a city pining for a credible baseball team — or, for that matter, a baseball team at all? Let’s hope there’s professional baseball in Edmonton next year so local baseball fans don’t have to put up with the Edmonton Prospects.



Wednesday, 17 July 2013

The first Edmonton election issue on disability begins ... NOW!

On Tuesday we shared the new policy the Disabled Adult Transportation wants to shift into gear Sept. 1 and have users cancel their rides two hours in advance. We received many emails and tweets from users who are very unhappy with the decision, claiming — and rightly so — their independence is being taken away. We also received an e-mail from DATS director Deanna Crozier asking for a meeting. She said she wants to explain the system wants to do more trips. But at what cost? Clearly, someone will lose out. We’ll find out more after the Monday meeting.

The very fact DATS is trying to make such a policy is another example of people with disabilities, perhaps, being too complacent. As a person with a disability, and a DATS user, I think we need to change the perception politicians and bureaucrats have. A classic example of this was how the provincial government and Alberta Health Services made sweeping changes to home care without consulting users. They felt they could do this because, after all, who would object? 

They were wrong. They awoke a sleeping giant, and the responses to the changes spoke volumes. Perhaps, then, the City of Edmonton felt they could do the same thing with this ridiculous new two-hour policy. They might have a fight on their hands. Because, as a very well-respected DATS user pointed out on the bus Tuesday, there’s a civic election in Edmonton in the fall. The new policy comes into effect Sept. 1. So, let’s make the official proclamation right now: people with disabilities in Edmonton are making the new DATS cancellation a election issue. Try steamrolling us now, folks.

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Tuesday, 16 July 2013

July 16

The July 15 Cam-burger: DATS going in reverse with new policy

The recent announcement from the Disabled Adult Transportation System about a new policy coming into effect Sept. 1 is a sad reflection in today’s society. DATS is changing their late cancel policy from 30 minutes to two hours.
The reasoning: DATS officials say they can schedule a ride for someone who cancels But two hours prior in advance? C’mon. Let’s be real. And, if you do not cancel within that two-hour time frame you get marked a no-show: even if you cancel, say, 60 minutes before your ride. And if you get three no-shows, you could be suspended from the service.

How lovely. This is an insult to the independence of people with disabilities in Edmonton. So we have questions. Does that mean if you’re working, you have to go to the boss 2 1/2 hours before you’re scheduled to go home to see if you have to work late? Does that mean you can’t go the extra mile and stay when the boss gives you a project they need done at the end of the day? Does this mean if you’re having such a good time at a social outing that you want to stay, you have to make that decision two hours in advance? Where’s the spontaneity here?

And what if you are on one of those 90-minute DATS rides, getting to your destination a half hour before you’re scheduled to return? Does this mean you only have 30 minutes at your destination because you didn’t call in the two-hour window? It is indeed most curious, considering we live in a society where we can get updated information by the second and DATS is going in reverse, asking their clients for an unreasonable amount of notice. Someone within the City of Edmonton needs to apply the brakes to this, sooner than later.


Cam 'n Eggs: A chance to be a leader

 Rona Ambrose starts her new tenure as federal health minister today and Alberta politicians and bureaucrats should be watching her every move. Ambrose has the exciting opportunity of being a wonderful role model. The timing, for Alberta, could’t be be better. To say Alberta’s health system is on shaky ground right now is putting it mildly — and is in need of someone showing them the way. Ambrose can do that.

The Spruce Grove MP was a part of prime minister Stephen Harper’s cabinet shuffle Monday and was appointed health minister. The portfolio is, indeed, a challenging one given the aging population and making sure there are enough resources to go around without taking health services away from anyone. It requires a plan, but it also takes even more compassion. And that’s where the Alberta government and Alberta Health Services failed: the recent home care changes were done, by and large, without any consultation with users. That wasn’t fair.

Because Ambrose is from Alberta, she can have an impact — even though she has federal jurisdiction. Her initiatives  can be shared provincially. This is not to say, by any means, Ambrose is a shoe-in as someone who will go down in history as a champion for government run health care. But she has a chance. And on this Alberta morning, with a very fragile health system, perhaps that is reason enough to be optimistic.
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Why the Disabled Adult Transportation System is in reverse

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Monday, 15 July 2013

Cam's Community Cause - July 14

Cam-burger: Eskimos show lack of respect

 He huffed and puffed, Kavis Reed did, during his post-game press conference Saturday, and blew the assembled media down. (Look at the end of the post and you will see yourself.) The Edmonton Eskimos dismal performance Saturday night against the B.C. Lions — a 17-3 loss — is another sign the once mighty Canadian Football League team is in a deep slide. And maybe that’s the reason I am cannot get very excited about the Esks these days.

Penalties. They were a huge reason why the Eskimos lost their second consecutive home game of the season. Eleven penalties for 103 yards. One hundred and three yards. Isn’t that more than the entire length of the football field? From unnecessary roughness infractions to roughing the passer, a somewhat disturbing trend is unfolding.  In three games the Eskimos have been penalized 41 times for 330 yards. No gold stars here.

Rick LeLacheur
Forget lack of discipline. It’s lack of respect, period. It’s a football team out of control with — for whatever reason — arrogance. But for what? Winning the Grey Cup last year? Nope. Not even posting a winning record last year with a 7-11 showing. Ever since Rick LeLacheur retired as president, I have felt a disconnect between the front office and the fans. Look at the number of good, qualified people who left the organization. Long-time vice-president of communications Dave Jamieson left the team just two weeks into the season last year. Trouble in paradise? Absolutely. Somewhere down the road the Eskimos have forgotten how well their grass-roots foundation of the franchise worked. The arrogance of the front office has spread on to the field. Kavis Reed has the daunting task of cleaning it all up — something, clearly, he should not have to do.


(Interesting note: The Eskimos removed this from their website but the CFL did not)

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Cam 'n Eggs: Why Brad Bartko is smiling

Brad Bartko
Brad Bartok is probably still smiling this morning — and so he should. Brad has an on-line radio show every Sunday evening for an hour and last night he conducted a very smart 18-minute interview with Edmonton Oiler GM Craig MacTavish. Pretty darn impressive for the Spruce Grove son who attended NAIT’s Radio and Television Arts program. 

Craig MacTavis
 But here’s what really impresses me about Brad: he isn’t just sitting in front of his computer and turning on the microphone. He’s out there making contacts. Brad went out to Oiler development camp last week in Sherwood Park and introduced himself to MacTavish. He told MacT about the show and arranged the interview. Brad asked some of the hard questions: how do you start a trade, what was it like trading Shawn Horcoff to the Dallas Stars, and is he planning to move Ales Hemsky. 

 I first met Brad several years ago and was inspired by his motivation. He has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair. But his knowledge of sports and keen mind — and a great wit — is painting him a bright, bright future. He’s already closing in on 100 radio shows giving him reason to smile even more.
Brad with Kevin Karius of Global Television


The disrespectful ways of the Edmonton Eskimos

Friday, 12 July 2013

Music has always been a big part of my life. My dad couldn't read a note of music but was a great clarinet player. Mom taught piano. I never played an instrument; yet music inspires me: I always have music on when I write.
I remember sitting around my eight-track tape deck and inviting friends over to listen to a new song. For me, it was a great way of sharing.
So welcome to Tait's Eight@8: eight of my all-time favourites from my music collection.

The keyboard sounds of Supertramp are legendary. I especially love the drums and the fine piano work in Child of Vision from the Breakfast in America album released in 1979.

Seldom does a song intro pull me in like Tumbling Dice from the Rolling Stones. I just love the first 10 seconds of the 1972 song about a gambler and women trouble. And good for Canada: Tumbling Dice was first performed Live by the Stones June 3, 1972 at the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver.

Motown, Motown, Motown. I love Motown: especially the the beats. Come See About me was released in 1964 by Diana Ross and the Supremes and always gets my feet tapping.

A music collection without Van Morrison just doesn't seem complete. He is one one my favorites. Did Ye Get Healed was released in 1987. This video shows has talented Morrison is, singing and playing the alto sax.

"You can't start a fire without a spark" has always stayed with me since I first heard Bruce Springsteen's Dancing in the Dark in 1984. It's a good reminder ... and a great song on the dance floor.

I love drums. I can really feel them in Dreams by Fleetwood Mac — from the very first beat. Dreams came out the same time I graduated from high school, 1977. The name of the song has always reminded me to follow my ...

We all need those songs when we just need to sit and think. Guitarist Will Ackerman does that for me time and time with Floyd's Ghost. Listen how the guitar and piano are simply magic.

  I had no idea who Yanni was until I saw him on television in  1990. I bought his CD, Reflection of Passion, and fell in love with The Rain Must Fall. It's one of those listen-by-yourself-songs, but can motivate.


Cam 'n Eggs: Guest blogger - healthcare aide Cheri Zische


 I am a healthcare worker whose company was granted a contract recently by Alberta Health Services.  But we were taken out of the area where I have worked in for six years.  I have worked in a facility for three years.  Now we are being moved out and another agency has been brought in.  The senior citizens I have taken care of will now new caregivers.  Not just one. All of us are being taken out.

Senior citizens  have not had a say, and their objections are falling on deaf ears.  This move is devastating to all involved. No one ever asked these folks if they wanted to give up the caregivers who have been such a large part of their lives.

Cutting our hours, or rather cutting the time we are allowed to spend with each individual, is going to spell disaster.  Yes we give meds, do personal care of all kinds, and these tasks may not require a lot of time.  But what about listening to them? As healthcare aids we give  them a voice when they think no one cares, and take  the time to really hear what they fear.  

Shame on this government for making me feel that what I do is only based dollars and cents.  And shame on this government for making Alberta senior citizens — the most special of people in our society — feel that they are not worth the dollars and cents to continue providing the care they deserve.

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.


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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.