Agree or Disagree: Weapon Manufacturers can’t call themselves Christians.

This was a statement made by Pope Francis on Sunday.

He specific statement was anyone who manufacture weapons or invest in weapons are hypocrites if they call themselves Christian.

You can read the article here.

“It makes me think of … people, managers, businessmen who call themselves Christian and they manufacture weapons. That leads to a bit a distrust, doesn’t it?” he (The Pope) said to applause.

He goes on to speak about the “tragedy of the Shoah,” the Hebrew term for the holocaust.

“The great powers had the pictures of the railway lines that brought the trains to the concentration camps like Auschwitz to kill Jews, Christians, homosexuals, everybody. Why didn’t they bomb (the railway lines)?

Imagine for a moment that you were at the Pope’s message on Sunday. Would you stand up and applaud.

Do you Agree or Disagree with the Pope’s statement?

Agree or Disagree: Prison terms for Impaired Driving.

We are coming up to a Federal Election. You can tell by the Campaign promises and pledges this week.

One of them came from the Federal Conservatives. They are proposing a maximum 6 year jail sentence for those guilty of impaired driving.

You can read the article here.

Do you Agree or Disagree with this?

Agree or Disagree: Restaurants should get exemptions from minimum wages.

We have had many discussions about this.

Some of you love the idea of raising the minimum wage.

Some of you do not.

The current minimum wage is $10.20, which is one of the lowest in Canada. However, the restaurant industry is anticipating some concerns with the coming raises. As such, they want an exemption from the minimum wage.

In the story below, this is a quote from Mark von Schellwitz, who is a Restaurants Canada  spokesman, is quoted as saying this;

We have certainly heard from a number of our members over the last few weeks who are extremely concerned about surviving this increase, especially in an economic climate where they are already seeing their sales decline because of the downturn,” he said Wednesday.

“We are asking them (the NDP government) to adjust that promise and let’s take this one step at a time, one year at a time.

You can read the story here.

What the restaurants industry is looking for is the option to pay a servers who earn tips and young people who are in their first jobs less.

As a little fun fact here is the minimum wage across Canada.

Do you Agree or Disagree that the restaurant industry should get an exemption from minimum wages?

Agree ro Disagree: It’s time for Pay before you pump.

You may have heard of the tragic story this week involving Maryam Rashidi. She was a gas station attendant who was killed by a stolen truck she attempted to stop. You can read the story here.

From time to time, I get requests to do an Agree or Disagree. It’s somewhat serendipitous that this happened today as I planned to do one anyway.

However, I’m going to post her perspective. She is an ESL teacher and she is concerned about the cuts to LINC Programs.

This might be controversial, however, I think it needs to be said. Immediately, people were calling for federal laws to be changed to prevent gas & dash. However, NO ONE mentioned the concern that came to my mind first. When are new staff trained in emergency prevention and response procedures? This started with a stupid crime, but ended up being worse than it needed to be. This woman should not have died. 

My question is: did she get the proper training from her employer? Did she get an orientation & employee SOP manual before or on her first shift to read, review, and ask questions? In this industry, along with other convenience story cashiers, etc, shouldn’t this kind of training be mandatory first?!!!! Especially for new immigrants who may not be familiar with our culture or customs. 

The gas station where the attendant died, is close to my house. The attendant, a new immigrant, could have been one of my students, or one of my colleagues’ or friends’ students. 

I had not seen this perspective or questioning from news reporters yet, except just now, from CBC TV, but it only quotes the Centex president citing “policy”, not what is actually done. 

Many times, I have had students tell me that they don’t get very much in the way of proper training, especially for low-level, minimum wage jobs. Employers just assume that they already know; or will learn in on the job, over time. This is unacceptable!!! 
Especially when the Centex president says that gas theft occurs every day = then new (gas station) employees MUST be properly trained BEFORE starting their first shift! 

They could have given her an SOP manual to read, and reviewed it with her on her first shift. I would like to know if this was done???!!!! Will the owners and managers of that Centex gas station be held liable for negligence, for not training their employee? What, exactly do Alberta Employment and Labour laws say about this?. . . . Could or should Mr. Rashidi sue Centex? 

Perhaps if Maryam Rashidi would have gotten a proper employee orientation that included Emergency Response Training, a new employee handbook and SOP, etc, then hopefully she would still be alive, because she would have understood the danger in the choice of trying to stand in front of a big truck, trying to stop 2 idiots in the process of stealing less than what? $100.00 worth of gas? 

ALso, I’m asking, encouraging, pleading, and urging anyone that teaches English as an additional Language, to talk about this with their students, to help teach critical thinking & problem solving skills to new immigrants, so even if they do not receive the proper training in their entry level (& for many, their first job in Canada!!!), they will be able to make safer choices when faced with danger. 

Kevin Olenick, you have a great social media forum. Could you please discuss this? 

Yes, this crime should not have happened. Those boys did not think, and behaved horribly selfishly. 

However, this is NOT ONLY about instituting a gas & dash law. People with criminal intent, will always find a way to circumvent obstacles in committing their crime, no matter what technology is put in place to prevent that crime. 

***NOT preparing your employees properly for this kind of emergency situation, should also be considered criminally negligent!! ****

How are new immigrant employees supposed to respond well in this situation? We cannot assume that they have the same “common sense” skills that we grew up with in our society. Different cultural customs, education, traditions, etc all affect “common sense” or critical thinking/ problem solving skills. If I were suddenly plucked from Calgary and dropped into a refugee camp not far from a war zone in the Middle East, I probably wouldn’t do very well either!!!! 

And yet, our government still strips away the resources (Like slashing funding to the LINC program and other immigrant-serving programs) to help new immigrants acclimate to our culture, and is satisfied with lower level language proficiency requirements for citizenship, because they want a cheaper labour force who is willing to do all the crappy, low-paying jobs that natural-born Canadians turn their noses up at. 

Obviously I’m upset!!! I don’t want to see this happen to any of my students. This should never have happened. It could have been prevented. And that makes me very, very sad.

Do you Agree or Disagree that’s it time to pay before you pump? Or, is there a need to improve emergency training?

Or do we need to do both?

Agree or Disagree: It’s time to remove the Catholic School System.

If you missed it Friday, Luke Fevin and I were on the Ryan Jespersen Show in Edmonton. It was Faith vs Atheism.

You can listen to it 

Now, some of you might have been expecting more of a battle…..and you would have been a bit disappointed. Because we didn’t “fight”. We had more of a discussion. Part of the reason for that is this was a unique opportunity. It’s very rare that a radio show goes into something like this. So, there was some unpacking to do. There still is.

However, there was a debate.Specifically around the issue of Catholic Schools. And the question around if there is a need for a Catholic School System. Here is where I see benefit for a Catholic School System.

-There are still over 800,000 Catholics in Alberta. There would be many families that do benefit from this. There is a sense of community and connection and shared values. It is an opportunity for families to have additional education and exposure to their religion other than the home.

That being said, there are some concerns. First, how they handled the GSA issue. Many Catholic parents and families were rightly angry on how this was handled. Which, quite frankly, was poorly. Second, the idea of a specific religious school for a religion for many seems outdated. They see religion as damaging to people.

So, while Luke and I did not unpack this as much, the topic is very important to many.  I would imagine and expect Luke and I will be involved in other dialogues like this.

But do you Agree or Disagree that it is time to remove the Catholic School System?

Please be respectful in your dialogue.

Agree or Disagree: This Edmonton bus driver should be punished.

You may have saw this video.

It’s a video of an Edmonton Bus Driver tossing a kid out and pulled away.

Many were angered by this.

Then, this story came out.

It turned out that the Edmonton Bus Driver had a pretty good reason. There is a video of the kid hitting him and reports of threats. He felt he had no choice.

The Edmonton Catholic School Board apologized for asking him to be fired. However, the Bus Driver, along with the two children involved, have been suspended.

You and I may remember being on a school bus. You and I also remember some of the stuff your bus driver out up with. Fights. Yelling. Food being thrown. It is not easy to be a bus driver. There is a lot of abuse. This is not an excuse, but perhaps something to think about.

However, the other side might argue, and is mentioned in the news story, that the primary role of the bus driver is the safety of all of the kids. And although the children involved crossed the line, the bus driver is the adult here. He is expected to act like an adult. (I’ll let you interpret that.)

So, if you were in charge here, what would you want to have happen? Would you punish him with a suspension? Or, even worse, would you actually fire him?

Do you Agree or Disagree he should be punished?