Will Alberta Education denounce collusion to silence its critics?

The following article was co-written by Donna Trimble, Executive Director of Parents for Choice in Education and Theresa Ng of Informed Albertans and will appear on both sites.

On August 23, 2017 Janet French, a reporter for the Edmonton Journal, made a discovery that website domains very similar to Parents for Choice in Education and Informed Albertans had been purchased in order to redirect to Alberta Education’s own website.

Janet French redirect of sites to AB Ed 01

Janet French redirect of sites to AB Ed 02

 

This means that if you happen to type the incorrect web address – for example, parentsforchoice.ca or informedalbertans.com or .ca instead of the correct addresses of parentchoice.ca and informedalbertans.wordpress.com – you will find yourself directed to none other than Alberta Education’s own site, specifically their “What is a GSA” webpage.

Janet French redirect of sites to AB Ed 03

 

While the online record does not display who bought these domains, it does display when they were all purchased.

That date was March 16th – just shortly after Theresa Ng published the blog post exposing how the government-funded and recommended GSA Network website was linking K-12 children to sexually graphic material, including images of people engaging in sexual acts, links to sex toys and advice to “pay for porn”.

Not surprisingly, the Alberta Education “What is a GSA” page includes a direct link to the GSA Network site.

Coincidence?

Absolutely not.

Janet French redirect of sites to AB Ed 04

Janet French redirect of sites to AB Ed 05

Collusion is an agreement between two or more parties, sometimes illegal and therefore secretive, to limit open competition by deceiving or misleading.

If a person, group or several parties conspire to silence another group by buying up online domains in order to confuse online searches and redirect traffic, this is collusion.

This is an attempt, by shadowy supporters of Alberta Education, to diminish the competition of ideas.

When this is done in a way that benefits the government and silences government critics, it crosses a line that should never be ignored in a democratic society.

Yet the Alberta Government has yet to condemn these tactics.

While no one knows the specific identity of the person who purchased the domains and set-up the redirect, there is no doubt that whoever it was supports the Alberta Government and intends to divert online audiences and suppress specific information and debate.

Both Informed Albertans and Parents for Choice in Education are parent-driven, grassroots, citizen organizations. We don’t have tons of staff and big money. We don’t have top tech experts.

We have our voice.

But now, in the province of Alberta, there are those who are deliberately attempting to silence us and the thousands of supporters who depend upon us to represent them.

We ask the Alberta Government: do you know who is colluding to silence your electorate?

Will you condemn those who are using subversive tactics to silence the voices of concerned citizens?

To the citizens of Alberta: we urge you to stand with us. Pay attention and realize that the material we provide – that so few are willing to meaningfully investigate and discuss – is important and should not be stifled.

Remember: When information and debate are being deliberately silenced, it is more important than ever to listen.

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Be aware of media manipulation: Who benefits?

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Since when did an out-of-context Facebook post from 2010 become “news”?

Answer: Whenever Kristopher Wells and his friends ask the media to do their bidding.

Tyler Duce is a candidate running for the position of school board trustee in south Edmonton.

He is promoting the engagement of parents in their children’s education through a common-sense “Families First” platform.

And unfortunately, that puts a bulls-eye on his back.

Consider the following timeline.

Dr. Kristopher Wells digs up an obscure 7-year-old, out-of-context social media post from Tyler Duce and then uses his bully pulpit of Twitter to post his typical accusations.

KW targets Tyler Duce

A CBC reporter asks Kris Wells for more details.

KW asked for interview by CBC

And suddenly – for some strange reason – a screenshot from 2010 becomes the centerpiece for “news”.

Yet most troubling of all is that the media continues to turn a blind eye to the extremist, unprofessional behavior of the very person making the accusation.

Dr. Wells – in the past 18 months alone – has used his social media to compare Christians to Nazis, share pictures of naked youth and publicly post private messages from concerned parents so they can be mocked by his Facebook friends.

He was also personally in charge of the government-recommended website that directed K-12 children to videos of people engaging in sexual acts, links to sex toys and advice to “pay for porn”.

The media response? Crickets.

How is it that a 7-year-old Facebook post taken out of context is considered “news”, but the recent endangerment of our children, the discrimination shown to people of faith and the condemnation of loving parents still entitles Dr. Wells to a position of “expert” authority in the eyes of the media (see here, here and here for just a few recent examples)?

And how is it that Dr. Wells still retains his role as an authority over K-12 children in this province – providing research, resources, doing Professional Development sessions, accessing students and instructing our next generation of teachers – all without any public apology, accountability or responsibility for his unprofessional conduct?

Why are Kris Wells and the CBC are so eager to smear Tyler Duce with something they dug up from 7 years ago?

Is it because Tyler Duce is gaining ground on the incumbent trustee who just happens to be an NDP constituency president , as well as a Ph.D. student at the University of Alberta Department of Educational Policy Studies, which is Dr. Wells’ own department?

By placing his friends in positions on school boards and elsewhere throughout our education system, Dr. Wells ensures his “expert” influence is secure and his priorities are advanced into our schools.

And when he senses his candidate is losing ground then apparently he resorts to a desperation move.

If anyone truly and genuinely cares about the safety of children then they would not ignore the 4 inch stack of personally written letters mailed from across the province demanding that those who direct children to sexually graphic material should no longer be entrusted with the care of children.

The truth is that the media does a disservice to the public when they willingly amplify obscure Facebook posts and yet ignore key issues that are actually endangering the safety of Alberta students.

So here is my call to action:

I don’t have the bullhorn of the media at my disposal like Dr. Wells does.

We need an uprising of parents, grandparents and citizens who will take a stand for what is important – especially when the media chooses not to.

Parents for Choice in Education is preparing a survey that will be distributed to school board trustee candidates.

Take 1 minute right now to sign up on the homepage of Parents for Choice in Education so that you will be added to their mailing list. Forward this message to others and ask them to do the same.

When the survey is released then you will learn where candidates stand on the important issues – especially the ones the media prefers to ignore.

Dr. Wells understands that school board trustee elections matter.

Do you?

Let’s ensure that we are informed and engaged on the issues that matter most and use our votes to elect the best possible candidates to these important roles.

Be part of a winning strategy

The following is a powerful blog post published by Donna Trimble, Executive Director of Parents for Choice in Education (PCE), which is being shared here with permission.

At this moment we stand at a crossroads in our province with a critical window of opportunity to organize and mobilize.

In order to make this vision into a reality we need an uprising of parents, grandparents and citizens in this province such that we have never seen before.

Please join together with PCE today by taking two simple actions to help make a tremendous impact.

With thanks,
Theresa

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What is needed to Win.... (6)

When parents lose rights, children are endangered.

These were words I penned in a column An Alberta Parent’s Call to Action, printed in the Calgary Herald January 18, 2016.

I haven’t told many of the story that led to this column.

I was just a few days from the final, of six, chemotherapy treatments for Stage II Breast Cancer.

I was tired.

I was wondering, after working as Executive Director for PCE since January 2015, if it was time to step down.

Was it time for a stronger, healthier Executive Director to pick up the mantle and fight where I had left off?

Was there a better person to continue our work standing against progressive curriculum like Discovery Math that was failing Alberta students? 

To demand amendments to GSA legislation to insist that parents remain the primary caregivers of at risk youth?

To defend Alberta’s legacy of funding a variety of school-choice options which save taxpayer money and provide for a competitive, healthy and excellent education system for all students?

In the midst of my deliberations, I woke one morning, turned on my computer, and witnessed NDP Education Minister Eggen at a media scrum, introducing the Guidelines for Best Practices-Creating Learning Environments that Respect Diverse Sexual Orientations, Gender Identities and Gender Expressions.

I printed and read the document, and I was shocked.

I decided then that I would muster the strength to pen one more column, and see if parents responded and whether I would continue.

The result was amazing! You did not let me or PCE down!

You all stood up and joined us at PCE and we grew by the thousands!

25, 000+ signatures were added to our petition for amendments.  Thousands attended the May 2016 Rallies in Edmonton and Calgary to Protect Children, by Upholding Parental Rights.

When I stood before the Calgary crowd of loving families at the rally, I was in the middle of my final radiation treatments.

I was strengthened by your courage, and inspired by the love you showed for your dear children.

And I knew I could continue the fight for our children and families – not standing alone, but standing together with you.

AT A CROSSROADS

We are at a crossroads. Our organization has grown beyond our manpower. And again I am asking you to rise up, stand together and help us continue the fight for our children and our families.

We need YOU.

We need an uprising of parents, grandparents and citizens in this province such that we have never seen before!

We know the attacks on parental rights and school choice will continue to intensify while elected representatives from all parties refuse to stand against an agenda that we know creates unsafe schools and hinders the long-term success of Alberta students.

If the government pushing this agenda – alongside opposition MLAs too weak to confront it –  have their way, families in the province of Alberta will be permanently weakened. This will be especially devastating for our most vulnerable youth.

Here are two actions that will take you a total of 5 minutes and help create a TREMENDOUS impact.

1. Sign up on our homepage

The United Conservative Party (UCP) leadership election and Trustee elections are quickly approaching in October, followed by nominations for new UCP MLA candidates to likely start in the spring.

We have a critical opportunity and responsibility to elect people to these positions who will uphold and defend parental rights in education.

PCE has invested in a new website with powerful database software which now allows us to organize and mobilize our supporters more effectively within specific constituencies.

Sign up on our homepage with your email and postal code so we can move beyond signing petitions, making phone calls and writing letters to politicians who choose to ignore them.

Let’s demonstrate to politicians that their very jobs depend on listening and taking meaningful action to resolve our concerns.

Time to vote out elected MLAs who have been weak on parent choice, and elect candidates that will be our voice; the voice of loving parents across this province!

Take just 2 minutes to visit our homepage and sign-up. Ask your friends and family to do the same.

Just 2 minutes, and our momentum will be unstoppable!

2. Become a monthly donor

We know you are busy and don’t have time to do the research, write the columns, meet with politicians and inform the public of all of the ways children are being failed by the education system in classrooms across the province.

Support PCE so we can continue to do the leg work for you.  Monthly donor funds will help us budget for the following three critical needs:

Advertising – Too many parents across Alberta remain unaware of the dangers their children face. Through radio, printed packages, You Tube ads, social media, billboards, etc. we hope to reach a wider audience with important key messages regarding education in Alberta

Professionally produced 1-3 minute videos and animations – These videos will help give concise descriptions of key issues to inform and engage the public in Alberta on key education issues their students face.

2-3 part-time staff members – The attacks on school choice and parent rights intensify daily. We must hire part time staff in order to effectively keep abreast of it all and respond in real-time. We need staff focused on administrative tasks, data entry, research and communications to more effectively meet all the growing needs and demands we face every day.

While PCE is tremendously grateful for one-time donations, it is difficult to rely on this funding model alone when budgeting for regular, ongoing monthly expenses.

We have crunched the numbers and set a summer goal to find $6,000 in monthly donors, ready and in place for the 2017/18 school year, in order to meet those three critical needs.

With a newsletter list and Facebook page of thousands of people this goal could be achieved if only 600 people give $10/month or 300 people gave $20/month.

We thank everyone who has helped us reach 14% of our summer fundraising goal so far.

With only 21 days left, time is running out.

If you believe in the vision and work of PCE – to support Alberta students by advocating for excellence in education through maximum parental choice – please take 3 minutes TODAY to sign up to become a monthly core donor.

Visit our DONATE page and click on the “Monthly Donation” button.

A FORCE TO BE RECKONED WITH

We face a greater battle than the one I have faced as an individual fighting cancer.

We have in government a group of individuals that is set on replacing Alberta’s loving parents with themselves.

This cannot be allowed to continue.

Left unchecked, this ideological attack will overwhelm the natural balance of our communities, destroying families and thus the foundation of free society.

Those of us on the front lines face an uphill battle every day. It is your support that provides the strength and tools for us to continue this important fight

To WIN we need to stand together and become a serious force to be reckoned with in this province. We must be courageous and forthright!

To WIN we need to elect government officials at every level, especially school board trustees and MLAs in our Legislature, who will uphold the ultimate best practice for children in Alberta, namely that “Parents – not teachers, schools, bureaucrats or activists – must remain the primary caregivers and decision makers in their children’s education.”

To WIN we need to inform more parents in Alberta – too many who remain entirely unaware of what is happening – about the erosion of parental rights in education, which is resulting in the endangerment of children.

My future does not depend upon my physical health, and neither does yours, my fellow parents.

Our future depends upon our raising healthy, intelligent, good men and women that will carry on building up the foundation of our free society. We must raise our children so they will take our place as a bulwark of protection against the historical waves of ideology which seek to weaken the foundation of a free society – and that foundation is families!

This is our time parents! We need to rise up! Our children need us! They need us NOW!

Parents must be respected as the primary caregiver and educator of their own precious children. This can only happen if we have CHOICE in EDUCATION.

Family is the foundation of a free society, and we must ensure all future elected MLAs and Trustees recognise and honor that!

We are in a fight we MUST win, for the sake or our children and the future of our nation.

If our work at Parents for Choice in Education matters to you, then please take 5 minutes and do these two simple actions TODAY:

1. Sign up on our homepage

2. Become a monthly donor for as little as $10/month by visiting our DONATE page and clicking on “Monthly Donation” 

Let’s win this war for our children and our families.

Incredibly grateful for your ongoing support,

Donna Trimble
Executive Director
Parents for Choice in Education

www.parentchoice.ca

For more information on the details of what has been and continues to be rolled out in Alberta schools go to our PCE blog HERE. You can also explore our six areas of advocacy by visiting our homepage and clicking on the area that interests you.

 

An important decision in Alberta – will you have a vote?

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At the end of July, members of both the Wildrose and PC parties will vote on whether they support unification to become the United Conservative Party.

To be eligible to vote either for or against the unity agreement you must first purchase $10 memberships in one or both of the parties prior to July 8th (Wildrose) or July 12th (PC party).

For unification to be successful, the proposed agreement must be supported by 75% of Wildrose members and over 50% of PC members.

For too many years I used to believe that my democratic responsibility simply consisted of showing up on voting day.

However, being more deeply involved in public advocacy and the political realm over the past couple of years has taught me that many critically important decisions are made prior to voting day.

By investing only $10 into an annual membership of a political party, anyone over the age of 14 has an opportunity to impact the outcome of those critically important decisions.

For example, leaders of each political party – the people who may someday become our Prime Minister or Premier – are chosen only by those who have purchased memberships to that political party.

Names of candidates on the ballot don’t just fall from the sky, but are decided through an internal members-only nomination process.

Policy wordings and priorities – including when it comes to the area of education – are often set by those who purchase memberships and make the extra effort to attend an annual general meeting.

The proposed unification of the Wildrose and PC parties is an important decision in Alberta democracy and only a few days remain to purchase membership(s) and have an opportunity to impact the outcome.

If unification is successful then those who purchased memberships will also have a vote in selecting the new leader in October, as well as the formation and ratification of new policies.

For those who want to ensure their voices are represented in this historic decision, please sign-up for membership(s) today using the links below:

Wildrose membership: www.wildrose.ca/membership

PC membership: https://www.pcalberta.org/Membership 

(*NOTE: PC members will also need to REGISTER before July 14th in order to be eligible to vote, using this website https://www.pcalberta.org/Register )

Invest 1 hour 17 minutes to be equipped and empowered

southern alberta conference on the familyI had the honour of being a guest speaker at the Southern Alberta Conference on the Family in Medicine Hat last weekend. Tremendous thanks to the organizers who provided the venue and volunteers, invited a diversity of community groups, and ensured the event was widely advertised and well-attended. The conference was a huge success!

Most appreciated is that the conference organizers recorded the presentations provided by myself, Donna Trimble, Executive Director of Parents for Choice in Education and John Carpay, President of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms.

The resulting 1 hour 17 minute You Tube video is well worth your time to watch for an excellent overview of many major challenges facing Alberta’s education system today, along with practical actions you can take to strengthen your own families and to impact the political sphere.

After you have watched this video, please share it with others, including your family, friends, MLA, school board trustees and faith community leaders you may know.

We are at a critical juncture in our province right now and need as many people as possible to be informed and engaged on these key issues and challenges. Please help spread the word!

Wildrose misrepresents Albertans on official legislature documents – why?

Open Letter to Mr Brian Jean2

June 14, 2017

Dear Brian Jean,

On June 5th, 2017 I had the honour of being introduced in the Legislative Assembly by MLA Leela Aheer, Education Critic for the Wildrose.

The purpose of my visit was to witness the tabling of the hundreds of personally written and signed letters from across the province voicing concerns about the sexually graphic material that was found on a government-funded website for K-12 children.

But unfortunately those letters were not tabled.

Despite my immediate request that MLA Leela Aheer provide a public explanation as to why she reversed her commitment at the last possible moment, I have still not received a reply.

Furthermore, based on details regarding the documents which were tabled that day, there are concerns regarding inaccuracies which now exist in the official public record of the Legislative Assembly.

Given the gravity of the original concerns regarding sexually graphic material being provided to K-12 children, and now questions regarding misrepresentation of these concerns in the public record, I appeal to you to take further action.

Inaccuracies in the public record

According to page 50 of the official record from the Legislative Assembly, here is what MLA Leela Aheer tabled instead of the 700 individual letters that were originally promised:

tabling of letters and petition names June 5, 2017

Based on the above description, there are four critical questions which must be addressed:

1. My online change.org petition includes 2, 560 names as of today, June 14th, 2017. Yet MLA Aheer claims that she tabled a list of 2, 700 names over a week ago. Where did the extra 140 names come from?

2. Why did MLA Aheer decide to withhold the actual text of the petition and submit only the list of names to the public record?

There certainly aren’t any legislative rules that deem online petition text inadmissible as a document. In fact, only 6 days prior, the official records indicate that text from a different change.org petition was officially tabled on May 30th:

tabling of text from different online petition

3. The official record states that the list of names supported an online petition “related to the Kindergarten to Grade 12 curriculum re-write”. However, that description misrepresents the primary purpose of the petition signed by these 2, 560 people.

A more accurate summary would be “an online petition requesting Hon Mr. David Eggen, Minister of Education, to ensure accountability for organizations that directed children to sexually graphic material found on a government recommended website.”

Most troubling is that without the text of the petition submitted alongside the names, this inaccuracy can never be verified by the public record. How is it that an MLA can be permitted to submit a description to an official public record on behalf of thousands of Albertans that fundamentally misrepresents their concerns?

4. The official records state that only 5 letters were tabled “expressing concern over sexually graphic material linked from the Alberta.” Unfortunately, this number represents only 0.7% of the total letters photocopied and provided to MLA Aheer that she had committed to table that day. What about the other 695 Albertans whose letters were not submitted?  On what basis were 5 deemed acceptable and the hundreds of others ignored?

Action Required

These inaccuracies are an affront to the thousands of Albertans from across the province who signed the petition and wrote and mailed personal letters because they fundamentally misrepresent their concerns.

On behalf of these citizens, I respectfully insist that you:

1. Provide specific public answers to the first three questions I have asked regarding the inaccuracies in the documents which were tabled.

2. Personally speak to MLA Aheer and ensure she provides a public explanation as to why she did not follow-through on her commitment to table all the personally written letters that were mailed from across the province. Why only 5 letters and not the other 695?

3. Rectify the public record to ensure that the numbers and summary of the petition are corrected. If possible, ensure that the text of the petition is also attached and included with the list of names.

“On Your Side”?

Recently you have launched a new website to campaign for Premier.

Does your slogan “on your side” apply to the thousands of Albertans who have had their signatures publicly mispresented in the public record? And what about the hundreds of people who invested significant time and effort to write and mail personal letters of concern, 99.3% whose voices have now been ignored and dismissed by your party?  Are you really on their side?

Why is it that you publicly supported the Wildrose being represented at the Pride Run and Walk event this past weekend, knowing this event specifically raised money to support iSMSS– the same organization which directed children to links for sex toys, BDSM and advice to pay for pornography?

Today you publicly denounced your own members for what you deemed “hateful and intolerant” comments.  Will you also publicly denounce the individuals and organizations who unapologetically provided sexually graphic material to school children?

Your website says “In the midst of unprecedented challenges facing Albertans, Brian has always had our back.”

However, the question must be asked: do you actually have the backs of thousands of citizens who are deeply concerned for the safety and care of children in schools?

If so, then I invite you to showcase your leadership capabilities and demonstrate through meaningful action that you will resolve these profoundly important questions and concerns and demonstrate your care for the safety of children in this province.

Please provide a written response prior to June 21st, addressed to the thousands of Albertans who signed the petition and wrote letters, that explains why their voices of concern are not being accurately represented and addressed by your party in our Legislative Assembly.

Your letter will be posted publicly on my blog and change.org petition in order to inform Albertans of your response.

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,
Theresa Ng, on behalf of concerned citizens across the province of Alberta

 

 

Disappointed yet grateful: A day at the Legislature

bringing binders to Legislature02

Thank you to MLA Leela Aheer for her kind words of introduction welcoming me as a guest in the Legislature this afternoon. I have included a transcript and video below:

It is also with pleasure that I am going to introduce to you Theresa and Daniel Ng. Theresa is the parent who brought our attention in the inappropriate links the provincial GSA coordinator website. Her vigilance in advocacy resulted in the links being removed from the website. I would like to congratulate Theresa for her efforts on behalf of all Albertans. We owe her a debt of gratitude for her careful attention. Later today I will be tabling the names of 2, 700 of those Albertans who stand for the protection of all children. With Theresa today is her son Daniel. I thank Theresa for bringing Daniel to remind us all in this Assembly that it is the children like him who are impacted by many of our decisions and the actions of our government. I will – I would hope that potentially the Minister will have the chance to meet with Theresa regarding her concerns. I would ask Daniel and Theresa to please stand and receive the traditional warm welcome of the Assembly.

The Tabling

While I am grateful for the kind words of public acknowledgement, I did also feel a sense of disappointment.

According to legislative protocol, five copies of any document or report are required in order to officially table them in the Assembly. Because MLA Aheer made a commitment to table the letters, my husband and I spent several hours this weekend making the requisite five copies.

Impressively, that amounted to over 3,500 sheets of paper which towered over a foot and a half tall! I couldn’t help but think about the strong visual statement that stack of paper would make when all those boxes were placed on a table in the Legislative Assembly.

However, at the last minute MLA Aheer unfortunately decided not to table the stack of personally written and mailed letters. Instead she chose to table the list of names of people who had signed my online petition – all five copies which fit into a small box.

While I appreciate that something was tabled in recognition of these widespread concerns, I was surprised and disappointed that these plans changed without any notice or explanation.

Obviously if my husband and I had known that only the petition would be tabled then we would not have invested many hours of time, as well as our own financial expense, to prepare five copies of all of those hundreds of letters.

I didn’t have a chance to touch base with MLA Aheer personally, but sent an email to her assistant later this afternoon asking that MLA Aheer provide an official written response which I could provide publicly as to why the letters were not tabled.

The fact remains that a commitment was made to table the letters and then that commitment was withdrawn with little notice or explanation. I know several people who watched the livestream this afternoon and have already expressed their disappointment that their personal letters were not officially submitted as expected, especially because the letters were so emotional and difficult to write for many people.

I can’t help but wonder:

Why is it so difficult for people’s voices to be heard?

Why are these hundreds of personal voices of concern not admissible to the public record, either through our elected representatives or the media?

I was chatting with some of the other guests in the public gallery. We were talking about what brought us there. I showed them the binders of letters and then I showed them some of the content I had found in March through the community support links which had been offered on the GSA Network website.

The people I was speaking with were appalled and shocked. When I told them that no apology had been provided and that the same people were still being entrusted with authority and influence over children in schools they couldn’t believe it.

That exchange was the most valuable part of my day because it reminded me why I will continue to do what I can to ensure that there is proper accountability. Our children deserve no less.

A summer commitment

Today is supposed to be the last day of Spring Session, meaning that MLAs will soon be heading back to their own constituencies and will not formally return to the Legislature until Fall Session, scheduled to begin October 30.

The good news is that MLAs will be attending and hosting community events throughout the summer. Brian Jean and others seeking leadership of the potential new united conservative party will be busy touring the province trying to garner support. School board trustee candidates are also starting to campaign, gearing up for October municipal elections.

I encourage you to attend events and specifically ask our elected representatives, as well as candidates seeking election, questions about education in this province. On this particular topic, ask them:

What should be done when a teacher, presenter or any person in a position of authority within our school system is discovered to be directing children to sexually graphic material, including content describing sex toys, images of nudity and videos of people engaging in sexual acts?

Indeed, any MLA/trustee who will not publicly denounce such behaviour is complicit in allowing it to continue.

We need to make education of children in this province a top priority. We need to let these politicians know that our votes depend on them taking meaningful actions to address these legitimate concerns being voiced by so many people.

No matter how many disappointments, obstacles and roadblocks, our politicians need to understand that these issues must be a top priority deserving of their time and attention.