THANK YOU to the concerned and caring people of Alberta for your incredible response to the letter writing campaign. In only 5 short weeks I received hundreds and hundreds of personal letters through the mail from across the province.
THANK YOU for investing your time and effort to write and mail letters on behalf of children in Alberta.
As promised, I photocopied three stacks of these letters– one each for the Minister of Education, the Wildrose party and the PC party.
With each letter photocopied onto a single paper, the stack of pages for each politician is over 3 inches tall and weighs nearly 7 pounds. That is an incredible response of personally written and mailed letters in such a short amount of time!
Page by page I have read your words of concern – the voices of health professionals, teachers, school administrators, students, parents and grandparents who repeat the same refrain to our elected representatives, urging them to take a stand for the safety of children in this province and insisting that those responsible for directing children to sexually graphic material are no longer entrusted with any further influence or authority over our K-12 education system.
Unfortunately, not all politicians want to bear the responsibility for hearing your voices.
It has been a lot of work, time and energy going back and forth with emails, text messages and phone calls. Here is the current update on the meetings.
Update: Minister of Education
Late Thursday I received email notification from the Minister’s office that the scheduled meeting for this week was canceled. It seems the impetus for their concerns was my request to have someone accompany me to the meeting instead of going by myself. I was invited to phone the Minister’s office after the long weekend to receive further clarification.
Immediately after the long weekend, on Tuesday morning, I left voicemail messages and also sent an email. However, I have not yet heard a response. I will continue to work with the Minister’s office toward a resolution that is mutually acceptable.
Update: Brian Jean and Leela Aheer
Previously the office of Leela Aheer, Education Critic for the Wildrose, had stated she would be quite willing to arrange a meeting prior to May 31st, whether together with Minister Eggen or separately.
After many messages back and forth with MLA Aheer’s office, it now turns out that the only time being offered to me before May 31st is a 30 minute time slot this Thursday that she is not guaranteed to attend.
I have been very clear from the beginning that I will deliver the letters in-person to our elected representatives in a one hour meeting. I intend to keep that promise.
In response, I have now requested the first one hour time slot MLA Aheer has available in June. I am willing to travel to her constituency office if necessary. Given how MLA Aheer has courageously advocated on this issue in the past, I am hopeful that she will be able to find an hour in the midst of her busy schedule to listen to these important concerns.
I have also sent messages to Brian Jean’s staff requesting a meeting with him. I have not received a reply.
Update: Jason Kenney and Dave Rodney
Thank you to Jason Kenney for taking an hour out of his busy schedule to meet with me last week. Jason Kenney was attentive and responsive to our concerns. As he flipped through the binders he was especially impressed with the effort, time and expense that people from across the province put into writing and mailing personal letters. He received the binders and agreed to share them with the PC Education Critic, Dave Rodney. I have been speaking with Dave Rodney’s office to try and schedule a follow-up meeting with him as well.
Keep up the pressure
Remember: The Institute for Sexual Minority Studies and Services (iSMSS) is deeply entrenched within our K-12 education system and have regularly engaged in rhetoric to marginalize and dismiss voices of concern.
Given how readily an iSMSS Director publicly chastised radio host Danielle Smith for daring to provide an interview about the sexually graphic material the day after I published my original blog article (listen to his specific comments starting at minute 13:10), I would imagine that iSMSS is likewise also exerting tremendous pressure on our politicians to not meet together and receive our letters. These tactics of intimidation are unacceptable.
Make sure our elected representatives continue to hear from you. Insist that these one hour meetings take place in order to receive your letters and address these critical concerns.
Phone, email or make the effort to attend one of their community events so you can mention this issue in-person.
Ask them directly if they received any correspondence from iSMSS, Dr. Wells or Dr. Grace to discourage meeting with us to hear our concerns.
On behalf of the children in this province we must continue to persistently advocate for the highest standards of care, safety respect and professionalism in our K-12 education system.
Demand that each one of these elected representatives step up and ensure that the care of Alberta children in schools is a top priority, not just through their words, but also through their actions.
Education Minister David Eggen:
780 427 5010, firstname.lastname@example.org
Leader of the Official Opposition, Brian Jean:
780 427 1031, email@example.com
Wildrose Education Critic, Leela Aheer:
780 422 0315, firstname.lastname@example.org
Progressive Conservative Education Critic, Dave Rodney:
780 415 1325, email@example.com
May 24th, 4:45 p.m.: I appreciate that since publishing this blog article this morning that MLA Aheer’s office has contacted me and we have worked out a mutually agreeable solution. I have accepted the Thursday meeting with the understanding that if MLA Aheer is unable to attend because of her legislative responsibilities that I will keep the letters and arrange an alternate meeting date when I can speak with her directly. Also, if our conversation has not been resolved before she has to go to her next appointment then I will receive a follow-up meeting to continue our conversation at a later date.