Tag Archives: Edmonton Public School Board

The climate strikes and Alberta’s increasing isolation on climate change urgency

Albertans risk political isolation on climate change urgency

Jason Kenney Alberta Politics

Jason Kenney

While politicians like Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and Energy Minister Sonya Savage doubling down in defence of the oil and gas industry and abandoning provincial climate change initiatives, attitudes toward climate change in most of the rest of Canada could lead to Alberta to become increasingly politically isolated on this critical issue.

Two surveys released over the summer suggest there could be a deep divide between Albertans and most of the rest of Canada on the urgency of climate change crisis.

According to a survey conducted by Abacus Data in July 2019, only 27 per cent of Albertan surveyed believed that climate change is now an emergency, compared to 59 per cent in Quebec, 42 per cent in British Columbia, 39 per cent in Atlantic Canada, and 38 per cent in Ontario.

When asked about the threat of climate change, only 32 per cent of Albertans surveyed by Angus-Reid in August 2019 said that it is a very serious threat and 24 per cent said it is not really a threat at all. This is big difference from the 49 per cent in British Columbia and Quebec and 50 per cent in Ontario who told Angus-Reid that climate change is a very serious threat.

Sonya Savage

The overwhelming presence and influence that oil and gas companies hold over political discourse and media coverage in Alberta, especially over issues like oil pipelines and climate change, is not a surprise. 

When asked in the Angus-Reid survey what they believe should be the bigger priority overall for Canada for the next five to ten years, 60 per cent of Albertans said the oil and gas sector, and 31 per cent said climate change. Nationally, 52 per cent chose climate change and 34 per cent chose the oil and gas sector.

Seth Klein, who commissioned the Abacus poll, wrote on rabble.ca that “we see the highest level of support for bold action is in Quebec, while the lowest levels of support are in Alberta. Most of the country falls somewhere in between the two provinces.

Depending on the results of the October 21 federal election, just how out of step Albertans attitudes are about climate change may become an increasing focal point of provincial and federal politics. And as along as the oil sands remain the fastest growing source of carbon emissions in Canada, national attitudes toward climate change will have an increasing impact on our province.

Public School Board grants academic amnesty to Climate Strikers

Students from the Edmonton Public School Board are being granted academic amnesty if they have parental consent to attend the student-led global climate strikes on Friday, September 27, 2019. The strikes have been held over the past week in protest of climate change and the lack of action being taken against it by institutions and governments.

Michael Janz Edmonton

Michael Janz

The elected trustees of the Edmonton Public School Board voted 6-1 in favour of granting academic amnesty for students who participate in the international actions.

The motion to support the strike was tabled by trustee Michael Janz, who said in a statement that “Public education is the cornerstone of our democratic system and exists to create an engaged and educated electorate. Now, in the midst of a federal election, our young people are trying to urge us into action on a life-or-death issue deciding our future. As adults, we need to make sure that we get out of the way, and not get in the way of their engagement in real-life education.”

Education Minister Adriana LaGrange, a former Catholic School Trustee from Red Deer, took issue with the motion and denounced Janz as an “activist school board trustee.”

Students and supporters will march from MacEwan University, the University of Alberta, and Churchill Square to the main rally outside Alberta’s Legislature Building, which is set to begin at 1:30 p.m. on September 27.

Edmonton City Council declared a climate emergency

More than 450 municipal councils across Canada have voted to declare a climate emergency, but last month Edmonton became the first and so far only municipality in Alberta to declare a climate emergency.

Aaron Paquette Edmonton

Aaron Paquette

A majority of City Councillors endorsed a motion introduced by Councillor Aaron Paquette. Paquette’s motion called for the City of Edmonton declare a climate emergency and for the City administration to “provide quarterly memorandums to Council and the public, beginning in 2020, on the City of Edmonton’s climate action progress and future actions directed by Edmonton’s Energy Transition Strategy.”

Declaring a climate emergency is a political statement that serves a few purposes:

1. These motions add to the growing list of governments and organizations building a critical mass in support of taking action against climate change by making bold statements. Hundreds of municipalities and big cities, including Vancouver, Ottawa, Halifax and London (and soon, Toronto), have declared a climate emergency. Some city councils have taken further steps to investigate the potential for lawsuits against large fossil fuel corporations in response to climate change.

2. These motions act as a public declaration that cities can hold themselves accountable. The quarterly reports on the City’s climate action progress will be an important reminder of this commitment. It will be up to Councillors to ensure that the required action is being taken and that this is not simply incrementalism or bureaucratic lip-service to a critical challenge.


Note about the surveys referenced in this post:

The Abacus survey was conducted online with 2,000 Canadians aged 18 and over from July 16 to 19, 2019. The margin of error for a comparable probability-based random sample of the same size is +/- 2.1%, 19 times out of 20.  

The Angus Reid survey was conducted online from August 21 – 26 among a representative randomized sample of 1,534 Canadian adults who are members of Angus Reid Forum. For comparison purposes only, a probability sample of this size would carry a margin of error of +/- 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

NDP MLAs stood behind by-election candidate Bob Turner at a campaign event in Sept. 2014. Left to right: David Eggen, Rachel Notley, Bob Turner, and Brian Mason.

Dr. Bob Turner announces retirement, lawyer Rakhi Pancholi to seek NDP nomination in Edmonton-Whitemud

Dr. Bob Turner has announced he will not seek re-election as the MLA for Edmonton-Whitemud when the next election is called. Turner was first elected in 2015, defeating then-Progressive Conservative Health Minister Stephen Mandel by 5,628 votes in what had been a PC Party stronghold since the 1997 election.

Rakhi Pancholi NDP Edmonton Whitemud

Rakhi Pancholi

Turner’s victory in 2015 was not an anomaly in Edmonton, as the New Democratic Party swept every seat in the city and region, but it was his strong second place finish in the October 27, 2014 by-election that foreshadowed the rise of the NDP in Edmonton. The by-election was held after long-time PC MLA and former deputy premier Dave Hancock was abruptly shown the door when Jim Prentice became premier in 2014.

In a statement released earlier this week, Turner described his main goals and achievements since becoming an MLA. “From the beginning, I spoke about the need to move forward in building Nellie Carlson School, with upgrading the Misericordia Hospital and eliminating flavoured tobacco,” Turner wrote.“I’ve been proud to see all of these goals accomplished.”

A respected hematologist and oncologist at the University of Alberta Hospital and Cross Cancer Institute and Professor of Medicine and Oncology at the University of Alberta, Turner was the perfect fit for this district, which includes some of Edmonton’s most affluent neighbourhoods. His departure is not shocking, as Turner turned 70 years old this year, but his retirement does mean this could be one battleground district to watch in next year’s election.

Michael Janz Edmonton

Michael Janz

Rakhi Pancholi, a lawyer with McLennan Ross LLP, plans to seek the NDP nomination to run in Edmonton-Whitemud in the next election. Pancholi’s legal experience includes working as the staff lawyer for the Alberta School Boards Association and as a Solicitor with the Government of Alberta before joining McLennan Ross, which is known in the world of labour relations as an employer-friendly law firm.

Pancholi is the former director and adoptions coordinator for the Humane Animal Rescue Team and has volunteered with the Edmonton Community Legal Centre and the Treatment Action Campaign in Cape Town, South Africa.

Pancholi already has the support of a popular progressive elected official representing the area, Edmonton Public School Board trustee Michael Janz. It was rumoured that the NDP were courting Janz to run for the provincial nomination following his landslide re-election in October 2017. But he is now expected to endorse Pancholi in her bid to become the NDP candidate in Edmonton-Whitemud.

A date for the NDP nomination meeting has not yet been announced.

Already nominated to run in this district are United Conservative Party candidate Elisabeth Hughes and Alberta Party candidate Jonathan Dai.


NDP nomination meetings scheduled for early 2019

With an election expected to be called in spring 2019, the NDP have begun to announce what is expected to be a flurry of nomination meetings to be held in the first few months of 2019.

NDP members will select candidates in Maskwacis-Wetaskiwin on January 8, 2019, Morinville-St. Albert, Spruce Grove-Stony Plain, and Sherwood Park on January 10, 2019, Calgary-Cross on January 17, 2019, Calgary-Peigan on January 19, 2019, Edmonton-Castle Downs on January 23, 2019, Calgary-Bow, Calgary-Shaw and Highwood on January 26, 2019, Airdrie-Cochrane on January 31, 2019, Camrose and Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville on February 2, 2019, and Cypress-Medicine Hat on February 9, 2019.

Michael Janz

Edmonton Public School Trustees doing their due diligence by asking about UCP education cuts

UCP doesn’t want Albertans to talk about cuts that could come if they form government in 2019

How are we going to get our province back on course? I’m sorry to tell you, but it’s going to hurt. Will it affect you? It absolutely will,” said United Conservative Party MLA Dave Hanson, echoing similar statements from UCP activists and supporters, about the public service funding cuts that could follow if that party wins next year’s provincial election. 

In response to these types of statements, the Edmonton Public School Board did its due diligence when Trustee Michael Janz asked the board administration to prepare estimates for four potential budget scenarios in 2019:

  • No funding for enrolment growth.
  • Hiring Freeze – not permitted to staff retirements.
  • The District is faced with a three per cent decrease to the budget for the next four years.
  • The District is faced with a five per cent decrease to the budget for the next four years.

With a growing population and a large cohort of new students expected to enter the public education system in the next few years, these are exactly the kind of scenarios that Alberta parents and students should be worried about, and our elected trustees should be preparing for.

The worst-case scenario projected 932 teachers’ jobs cut in Edmonton, packed classrooms with fewer resources, with similar outcomes in cities, towns, and rural areas across the province.

Not surprisingly, the UCP did not appreciate the attention on this issue. The conservative opposition party is ahead in the polls, but they desperately don’t want to talk about the deep funding cuts to public services that could result if they attempt to balance the provincial budget while also decreasing government revenue through tax cuts.

As David Climenhaga wrote at AlbertaPolitics.ca, the UCP “was in furious damage control mode” as the elected trustees debated the results of the various budget estimate scenarios. UCP leader Jason Kenney leapt to his smartphone to Tweet a denial of the cuts and an accusation that Janz was an “NDP member of the Edmonton school board.”

That any trustee of our public education system might be inclined to favour parties that believe in proper, or at least stable, funding for public education should be no surprise. Since the 2015 election, Rachel Notley‘s New Democratic Party government avoided calls for budget austerity and instead made significant investments in public services and public infrastructure. And this break from decisions made by past governments appears to be paying off.

“Over the last decade, we’ve barely recovered from the Klein cutbacks of the 1990s,” Janz wrote in an email to his Ward F constituents in southwest Edmonton. “If we want to actually make things better for our students, staff, and families, it is time for investment, not cutbacks.”

Kenney’s latter-day fondness for former premier Ralph Klein, whose personality was loved by many Albertans and whose devastating budget cuts to front-line services are still being felt, is likely the cause of some concern. And with so much at stake, our school trustees should be asking these kinds of questions.

Janz is a particularly enthusiastic and incredibly resourceful trustee. His energizer-bunny approach to canvassing during election campaigns earned him more votes in the October 2017 election than any other candidate in Edmonton except Mayor Don Iveson (I know this from personal experience, Janz is a friend and I door-knocked with him in 2017). In the same vein, he has not been afraid tackle politically controversial topics as a trustee.

During the 2015 provincial election, then-board chair Janz joined the chairs of 6 other school boards, representing 19 boards, stepping out of their traditional role on the sidelines to make a public plea that increased student enrolment must offset by increased funding from the government. More recently, he has asked the provincial government to prioritize the construction of public schools in new neighbourhoods, raising the ire of proponents of publicly-funded Roman Catholic education.

“As a Trustee, I would not be doing my job effectively if I didn’t highlight the investment in the future of our prosperity that is an excellent public education system,” Janz wrote. “Let’s stop talking about how to make it worse, let’s start talking about how to make it better.”

School board trustees are not neutral servants of any provincial politician in Edmonton. They are elected officials and when the future of public education for students is at stake, they should not shy away from asking the tough questions, regardless of how inconvenient it might be for anyone in the Alberta Legislature.

Michael Janz

Public schools should be the priority, says trustee Michael Janz

With Finance Minister Joe Ceci scheduled to table Alberta’s budget in the Legislative Assembly on Thursday, March 22, there was plenty of activity today by advocates wanting to see big changes in provincial education.

Public schools should be the priority, says Janz

Edmonton Public School Board Trustee Michael Janz is calling on the province to prioritize the construction of public schools in new communities. Janz will introduce a motion encourging the board seek a commitment from the provincial government that ‘the first school built in any community or neighbourhood be a public school or a shared public, separate, and/or francophone board facility.’

As of September 2017, around 100,000 students were enrolled in Edmonton’s public school system, a 3.4 percent increase from the previous year. According to Janz, the board’s draft projections indicate an increase of an additional 3,000 students in the 2018-2019 school year.

The board is currently debating its Three Year Capital Plan.

3 out of 4 taxpayers say no money for elite and exclusive private schools 

Progress Alberta released a poll from Environics showing that 75 percent of Albertans agree that schools charging more than $10,000 per year in tuition should not receive public funding. According to data released by Progress Alberta in 2017, 15 private schools that charge more than $10,000 in annual tuition fees received more than $30 million in taxpayer subsidies from the Alberta government in 2015-2016.

Some school boards falling behind on protecting sexual minority students

Public Interest Alberta has released a new report on four school boards’ policies and procedures on sexual and gender minorities that points to the need for changes to protect students and their rights. “Policies should be clear, comprehensive and unequivocal in their support for LGBTQ students, staff and families. Students shouldn’t need a lawyer to make sense of their school policies, or to find out if they’re fully protected or not,” University of Alberta assistant professor Kristopher Wells told Metro Edmonton.

Photo: Edmonton Public School Trustee Michael Janz

Edmonton’s Election officially starts tomorrow.

There are only 28 days left until Edmontonians go to the polls to vote in this year’s municipal elections. Tomorrow is Nomination Day, which will see candidates line up from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm at City Hall to officially register their intentions to stand in the election. I will be at City Hall tomorrow to watch the candidates show up and snap a few photos.

The list of candidates running for City Council and School Board will become official tomorrow, but until then, here are the latest additions to the unofficial list of declared candidates running in the election:

While there will likely be candidates who submit their papers tomorrow who had not previously declared their plans to run in the election, as of tonight, it appears as though three candidates could be running unchallenged in this election.

I will update the list of candidates with links to websites and social media accounts when the official list is published by Edmonton’s Elections office.


Starting on September 25, the City of Edmonton Elections Office will be holding a series of all-candidate forums for the mayoral and city council elections. The forums will also be broadcast online.

If you are looking to get more informed about the issues in this year’s municipal election, Intervivos is hosting an “Inform Yo’self” event featuring speakers on topics like Residential Infill, Transit, Homeless and Housing, Diversity on Council, and Safe Injection Sites. The event is being held on Sept. 18, 2017 at Cartoga from 5:30pm until 8:00pm.

38 days left until Edmonton’s Municipal Election

You may have noticed election lawn signs beginning to pop up around the city – that is because there are only 38 days left until Edmontonians go to the polls to vote in this year’s municipal elections. Here are some of the latest updates to the list of candidates running in Edmonton’s municipal election for City Council, the Edmonton Public School Board and the Edmonton Catholic School District.:

  • Neil Stephens becomes the eleventh candidate to announce their intentions to run for Mayor of Edmonton.
  • Rob Bernshaw is \ running for City Council in Ward 8. He he ran in Ward 3 in the 2013 election.
  • Lenore Dilts appears to have withdrawn from the City Council race in Ward 8.
  • Neda Asadi is running for the Edmonton Public School Board in Ward H. Asadi is a community volunteer and researcher who recently completed her PhD in Educational Policy Studies at the University of Alberta. (Note: Neda Asadi is an acquaintance of mine and a former colleague of my wife. I am not involved in her election campaign but I do believe she would be an excellent addition to the Edmonton Public School Board).
  • Orville Chubb is running for for re-election as a public school board trustee in Ward C. Kurt Kronebusch is also running for election in Ward C.
  • Jeff Behrens is running for the public school board in Ward D.
  • Retired teacher Sam Filice is running for the Edmonton Public School Board in Ward E. According to his website biography, Filice taught at Jasper Place High School and then Centre High until his retirement in June 2017.
  • Marilyn Bergstra is running for re-election to the Edmonton Catholic School District in Ward 76.

If you know any other candidates who have announced their intentions to stand for Mayor, Council, or School Board and are not on this list, please send me an email at david.cournoyer@gmail.com. I will add them. Thank you!

Edmonton City Hall

55 days left until Edmonton’s municipal elections

With 55 days left until the October 16, 2017 municipal elections in Alberta, more candidates have put their names forward to run for public office. Here are some of the latest updates to the list of candidates running in Edmonton’s municipal election for City Council, the Edmonton Catholic School District and the Edmonton Public School Board.:

If you know any other candidates who have announced their intentions to stand for Mayor, Council, or School Board and are not on this list, please send me an email at david.cournoyer@gmail.com. I will add them. Thank you!

Don Iveson Mayor Edmonton 2017 election

81 days left until Edmonton’s Municipal Elections

Don Iveson officially launched his campaign for re-election as Mayor of Edmonton at an event at La Cite Francophone yesterday. Here is the video of his campaign launch speech, which is also available on his Facebook page.

It's a beautiful night to launch the re-election campaign! The one and only Julian Faid has kicked off the evening's program and we'll be live with Don's speech here at La Cité Francophone starting at 8pm.

Posted by Don Iveson for Mayor on Wednesday, July 26, 2017

With 81 days left until the October 16, 2017 municipal elections in Alberta, more candidates have put their names forward to run for public office. Here are some of the latest updates to the list of candidates running in Edmonton’s municipal election for City Council and the Edmonton Public School Board:

  • Bob Ligertwood is running for mayor. He is the owner of Naked Cyber Cafe and Expresso Bar and he previously ran for mayor in 2007 and 2010.
  • Felix Amenaghawom is running in Ward 4. Amenaghawom is an Assistant General Supervisor with the City of Edmonton.
  • Former Progressive Conservative MLA David Xiao is running for city council in Ward 5. Xiao was the MLA for Edmonton-McClung from 2008 to 2012 and served as Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Employment and Immigration. ‘Edmonton-McClung MLA David Xiao’s claimed travel expenses of nearly $35,000 last year, more than any of his Edmonton colleagues,’ the CBC reported on Jan. 22, 2013. In 2014, he was disqualified from running for the federal Conservative nomination in the Edmonton-West riding. He was defeated in the 2015 election by New Democrat Lorne Dach.
  • Glenda Williams is running for City Council in Ward 10.
  • Shelagh Dunn is running for Edmonton Public School Board in Ward C. Dunn is a psychologist who has worked as a counsellor in schools and at post-secondary institutions, and taught high school and post-secondary students about community engagement and mental health.
  • Saira Wagner is running for Edmonton Public School Board in Ward I.
  • Jeff Lee is running for the Edmonton Catholic School Board in Ward 73. He is the owner of the The Homework Centre, located in St. Gabriel School.

If you know any other candidates who have announced their intentions to stand for Mayor, Council, or School Board and are not on this list, please send me an email at david.cournoyer@gmail.com. I will add them. Thank you!

Edmonton City Hall

There are 90 days left until Edmonton’s Municipal Elections

There are 90 days left until Edmonton’s municipal elections. Here are some of the latest updates to the list of candidates running in Edmonton’s municipal election for City Council and the Edmonton Public School Board:

  • Fahad Mughal Edmonton Mayoral Election

    Fahad Mughal

    He had initially planned to run for City Council in Ward 10, but Fahad Mughal made a surprise announcement at his campaign launch on July 15 that he would instead run against Don Iveson in the Mayoral election.

  • Eli Schrader is running for election to City Council in Ward 8. Schrader is civics director with the Cloverdale Community League and a member at large of the University of Alberta alumni association.
  • Cheryl Johner is planning to seek re-election as a trustee on the Edmonton Public School Board in Ward A. Johner was first elected in 2010.
  • Joseph Luri has announced his candidacy in Edmonton Public School Board’s Ward A. Luri has been a settlement practitioner in Edmonton since 2007 and is currently a team leader for the Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers Domestic Violence Prevention Program.

If you know any other candidates who have announced their intentions to stand for Mayor, Council, or School Board and are not on this list, please send me an email at david.cournoyer@gmail.com. I will add them. Thank you!

Edmonton City Hall

102 days left until Edmonton’s Municipal Elections

There are 102 days left until the October 16, 2017 municipal elections in Edmonton. Here are some of the latest updates to the list of candidates running in Edmonton’s municipal election for City Council and the Edmonton Public School Board:

  • Martin Narsing is running for Edmonton City Council in Ward 4. Narsing’s LinkedIn page lists him as being employed as a Directional Drilling Consulting.
  • Samantha Hees is running for Edmonton City Council in Ward 10. Hees works as a Unit Clerk with Alberta Health Services.
  • Edmonton’s Poet Laureate, Ahmed “Knowmadic” Ali, is running for election to the Edmonton Public School Board in Ward A. Knowmadic serves on the Edmonton Arts Council and is the co-founder and current artistic director of Edmonton’s only spoken word collective: Breath In Poetry.
  • Leslie Marks is running for election to the Edmonton Public School Board in Ward E. She is the owner of Sunflower Yoga and Music
  • Retired educator Alene Mutala is running for the Edmonton Catholic School District in Ward 75.

If you know any other candidates who have announced their intentions to stand for Mayor, Council, or School Board and are not on this list, please send me an email at david.cournoyer@gmail.com. I will add them. Thank you!


Miranda Jimmy, a city council candidate in Ward 5, is hosting a Political Pub Night and networking event for women running in the 2017 elections. The event is free to all interested Edmontonians on Wednesday, July 26, 2017 from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the Yellowhead Brewery.
Edmonton City Hall

116 days left until Edmonton’s Municipal Elections

There are 116 days left until the October 16, 2017 municipal elections in Edmonton. Here are some of the latest updates to the list of candidates running in Edmonton’s municipal election for City Council and the Edmonton Public School Board:

  • Emerson Mayers is running for City Council in Ward 4. Mayers is a Registered Nurse and a former vice-president of United Nurses of Alberta Local 183 at Alberta Hospital Edmonton. He was a candidate for the Progressive Conservative Party in Edmonton-Strathcona in the 2012 election. He previously sought the Liberal Party nomination in Edmonton-Manning in 1997, the PC nomination in Edmonton-Manning in 2008, the PC nomination in Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood in 2012, and the PC nomination in Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview in 2015.
  • Bill Knight is running for City Council in Ward 6. Knight is the CEO of Three Knights Investments, the founder of B&B Demolition and a well-known philanthropist who has made generous donations to many charities and not-for-profit organizations in Edmonton.
  • Sim Senol is running for City Council in Ward 10. Senol is an administrator at the Centre for Teaching and Learning at the University of Alberta. She is also the President of the Parkallen Parents Association, the Treasurer of the Turkish Canadian Society, and the Chair of the Brightview Playground Development Committee.
  • Sherry Adams is running for re-election to the Edmonton Public School Board in Ward I. Adams was first elected in 2013.
  • Perry Chahal is running for for election to the Public School Board in Ward A. Chahal ran in Ward B in 2001 and 2010, Ward A in 2004, and as an Independent candidate in Alberta’s 2012 Senate nominee election.

If you know any other candidates who have announced their intentions to stand for Mayor, Council, or School Board and are not on this list, please send me an email at david.cournoyer@gmail.com. I will add them. Thank you!

Kris Andreychuk launches his campaign for Edmonton City Council in Ward 7.

Edmonton Election Update: 137 days to go.

Photo: Kris Andreychuk launches his campaign for city council in Ward 7.

We are now 137 days away from the October 2017 municipal elections in Edmonton. Here are some of the latest updates to the list of candidates running in Edmonton’s municipal election for City Council, the Edmonton Public School Board and the Edmonton Catholic School District.

Edmonton City Council

  • Kris Andreychuk launched his campaign for Edmonton City Council in Ward 7. Andreychuk is a Supervisor of Community Safety with the City of Edmonton. He was introduced and endorsed at his launch event by Ward 6 Councillor Scott McKeen. Andreychuk is challenging incumbent Councillor Tony Caterina.
  • Nafisa Bowen is running in Ward 5. Bowan works as a fundraiser for the Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation and is Vice-President Elect at the Cultural Connections Institute – The Learning Exchange.
  • Lenore Dilts is running in Ward 8.
  • Nigel Logan is running in Ward 12. Logan is the former constituency manager for Edmonton-Mill Creek MLA Denise Woollard.

Edmonton Public School Board

  • Ken Gibson is running for re-election in Ward E. Gibson served as trustee for this ward from 2004 to 2010 and again since 2013.
  • Nathan Ip is running for re-election in Ward H. He was first elected in 2013.
  • Sajida Asghar is running in Ward I.

Edmonton Catholic School District

  • Nancy Robb is running in Ward 71.
  • Dan Posa is running in Ward 72.
  • Glen Argan is running in Ward 75. Argan was the editor of the Western Catholic Reporter for nearly 30 years and ran as the Green Party candidate in Edmonton-Mill Creek in the 2008 provincial election.
  • Lisa Turchansky is running in Ward 76. She was chairperson of the St. Mary Elementary School student advisory council.

If you know any other candidates who have announced their intentions to stand for Mayor, Council, or School Board and are not on this list, please send me an email at david.cournoyer@gmail.com. I will add them. Thank you!

 

Edmonton Election Update: School Board Trustees Now Included.

We are now five months away from the October 2017 municipal elections in Edmonton. Here are some of the latest updates to the list of candidates running in Edmonton’s municipal election, now including candidates running for trustee positions on the Edmonton Public School Board and Edmonton Catholic School District.

Edmonton Public School Board

  • Former CBC reporter Trisha Estabrooks announced tonight at The Bellevue that she will run for Edmonton Public School Board in Ward D. A long-time local CBC reporter, Estabrooks is now a freelance journalist and co-host of The Broadcast, a podcast about women and politics. She is being endorsed by Ray Martin, who has served as trustee for the area since 2013 and is not seeking re-election. Local advocate and Alberta Avenue resident Adam Millie is also running in Ward D.
  • The current chairperson of the Edmonton Public School Board, Michelle Draper, is running for re-election in Ward B.
  • Former chairman Michael Janz is seeking re-election in Ward F. Janz was first elected to the public school board in 2010 and has become well-known for his public advocacy on issues such as fair and equitable funding for public schools and improving financial literacy in schools.
  • Bridget Stirling is running for re-election in Ward G. Stirlng was first elected in a 2015 by-election to replace former trustee Sarah Hoffman, who had been elected as the MLA for Edmonton-Glenora and now serves as Deputy Premier and Minister of Health.
  • Local photography business owner Mary-ann Fleming is running for election in Ward I.

Edmonton Catholic School District

  • Outspoken trustee Patricia Grell is running for re-election in Ward 71.
  • The current chairperson of the Edmonton Catholic School District, Laura Thibert, is running for re-election in Ward 77.
  • Trustee Debbie Engel is running for re-election in Ward 74. Engel was first elected to the Catholic board in 1998.
  • Trustee Larry Kowalczyk is not seeking re-election in Ward 72.

Edmonton City Council

If you know any other candidates who have announced their intentions to stand for Mayor, Council, or School Board and are not on this list, please send me an email at david.cournoyer@gmail.com. I will add them. Thank you!

Putting protection of LGBTQ students and staff back on the agenda at Alberta school boards meeting

Amid allegations of financial misspending and a lack of transparency, representatives from sixty-one elected Public, Catholic, and Francophone school boards from across Alberta will gather at the fall general meeting of the Alberta School Boards Association on November 15, 16 and 17 in Edmonton.

Michael Janz Edmonton

Michael Janz

School board representatives could face another round of debate about protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer students and staff. The Edmonton Public School Board will introduce a motion at the meeting for the ASBA to create a policy that protects all students, staff and families who identify as sexual or gender minorities.

I think tone at the top is very important, and it is important for the Alberta School Boards Association to take an active stance against the bullying and marginalization of lesbian, gay bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning students. I think this will send a very important signal across school boards that we do support inclusion, we do want to support our students,” EPSB chairperson Michael Janz told the Edmonton Sun.

The motion has been proposed as emergent by EPSB and will be introduced on the first full day of the meeting. Delegates will be asked whether it should be added to agenda and debated at the meeting.

Debate at the ASBA’s general meeting in 2012 attracted national attention when 62 percent of the delegates voted down a proposal to protect gay students and staff from discrimination, similar to a policy passed by EPSB in 2011.

David Eggen

David Eggen

One trustee at the 2012 meeting from the Pembina Hills School Division suggested if “children with a gay tendency” could hide their gayness it would be “for their own benefit.” The trustee later apologized but not before his comment became national news.

The debate around legislating the creation of Gay-Straight Alliances in Alberta schools became a major political issue in the final months of 2014 and created major rifts between social conservatives and moderate conservatives in the Wildrose and Progressive Conservative parties.

Recent debates at the Edmonton Catholic School District about creating safe environments for transgender students have degenerated into public scenes of crying and shouting. “I expect a higher standard from all elected officials here, generally in Alberta, and specifically with Edmonton Catholic,” Education Minister David Eggen said following the debates.

Mr. Eggen has directed all Alberta school boards to have a policy supporting LGBTQ students in place by March 31, 2016.  It has been reported that only 13 out of 61 school boards currently have stand alone policies protecting rights of LGBTQ students and staff.

The result of the debate about whether to adopt a policy protecting all students, staff and families who identify as sexual or gender minorities will likely set the tone for an important breakfast event being held for trustees and MLAs on the final day of the meeting. Twenty-eight NDP, Wildrose, Progressive Conservative and Liberal MLAs are scheduled to attend the breakfast, including cabinet ministers Brian Mason, Joe Ceci, and Oneil Carlier. Mr. Eggen scheduled to deliver an address at the breakfast.

What the Education Minister has to say in his address will likely depend on if Alberta’s elected school trustees choose to rise above the closed mindedness and ignorance that has dominated these debates in past years. Protecting students and staff is not optional.


Here is the motion that the EPSB plans to introduce:

That the Alberta School Boards Association support its members school boards in establishing and maintaining welcoming, inclusive, safe and healthy learning and working environments for all members of the school community, including sexual orientation and genders minority students, staff and families. This includes provision of support with policy development and related resources.

EPSB rationale for the motion:

  • Issues with regard to publicly funded education and supporting Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity students, staff and families have been in the news this year. The ASBA has been silent on these issues, both in policy and presence. It is proposed by the Committee that we take a second attempt at moving forward the 2012 Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Policy to the ASBA.
  • The Committee believes it is important for the ASBA to clearly take a policy position in support of students, staff, and families in alignment with provincial legislation and our Strategic Plan outcome to provide welcoming, inclusive, safe caring and healthy learning and work environments. Research has shown that sexual minority youth experience more bullying, harassment, alienation, and suicide ideation than do their heterosexual peers and; therefore, boards are encouraged to counter pervasive cultural biases against sexual minorities through proactive and specific policy and regulation to ensure that all sexual orientation and gender identity minority individuals are welcomed, respected, accepted and supported in all of their schools.

Previous ASBA fall general meetings have been webcast. I will post a link to the website once I have confirmed this meeting will be live streamed online.

Building a replacement school in Greater Highlands?

The crowd at Highlands School

The crowd at Highlands School

When was the last time we talked about opening a new school in the urban core, rather than closing one down?

Packed into the gym of the hundred year-old Highlands Junior High School, hundreds of school and community members heard about plans to replace three already existing schools with a brand new Kindergarden to Grade 9 school.

The provincial government has presented the Edmonton Public School Board with a funding opportunity to build a replacement school for a mature community in Edmonton’s urban core.

The school board has identified the Greater Highlands Area, the Greater Lawton Area and the Greater Westmount Area as potential areas for the new school. Only one of these areas will be selected for the first, of what could be many, replacement school.

While there remains a number of unanswered questions about the project and how it will impact the community, I am generally excited about the prospect of a new school being built in the community I call home.

While the currently existing schools – Highlands, Mount Royal and Montrose – are important community hubs, they are also old buildings facing the challenges of low-enrolment and growing maintenance costs.

Capacity and Enrolment: Capacity represents the maximum number of students that can attend the school. Enrolment represents how many students are currently attending the school.

Capacity and Enrolment: Capacity represents the maximum number of students that can attend the school. Enrolment represents how many students are currently attending the school.

If the Greater Highlands area is chosen as the spot for the new school, there is also an opportunity to coordinate with the reconstruction of 112th Avenue and 50th Street and the construction of the new Highlands Branch of the Edmonton Public Library.

Of course, it is important that a new school be accessible to all members of the Greater Highlands community, including the more ethnically diverse community living north of 118 Avenue in Montrose area. A new school in this area must recognize and be inclusive of our city’s fast-growing urban aboriginal population.

Improvements to schools are an important part of revitalizing mature neighbourhoods, as they will help attract and retain young families who want to live core communities. It’s part of building a smart city.

I look forward to further participating in the consultation process and am grateful that school board has opened up this process to the community.

The Public School Board has presented out their community consultation timeline for the project:

April 22-24, 2014 – First Public Meetings
May 20-22, 2014 – Second Public Meetings
June 19, 2014 – Final Public Meetings
June 24, 2014 – Site selection for replacement school will be presented to the School Board to Trustees

Update: This website is currently experiencing some technical difficulties with the hosting service that are preventing comments from being posted. I hope to have this resolved by the end of the day. In the meantime, please feel free to leave your comments on the daveberta.ca page on Facebook. Thanks for your patience. – Dave