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 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: 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?

Agree or Disagree: Non Smoking Condos.


After a condo fires in both Edmonton AND Calgary within the last week, there are people suggesting that Condos go Non-Smoking. In both cases, a cigarette in the condo caused the fire. In Edmonton, a Cigarette in a Diaper caused the fire. In Calgary, smoking material was put in a planter pot.

Robert Noce is a corporate commercial lawyer in Edmonton. He was on the Ryan Jespersen Show yesterday suggesting it’s time for the governments to step in. You can listen to the interview here

For an apartment or condo perspective, we will go to Palo Alto California. They balk at the idea of restricting smoking. You can read their perspective here.

What do you think? Do you Agree or Disagree with Non-Smoking Condos?

Agree or Disagree: Caretakers of the mentally ill can publicly talk about their experiences.

Every once in a while, I get requests to do an Agree or Disagree. This is a request. And, it is an important topic.

There has been lots of discussion around the stigma of mental illness. It has been important. However, we haven’t had a lot of discussion around caretakers of the mentally ill.

When I was discussing this with my friend, we decided this word would be best. It covers, friends, family and professional supporters of those who are mentally ill.  So, when you are responding, think of it that way.

Here’s the background of the request. For confidentially reasons, the person who requested this will be kept anonymous.

I feel like people talking about mental health is awesome, but there is a complete lack of support for people who are caretakers/partners/children of the mentally ill. We’re not allowed to talk about our own struggles when our lives are affected by mental illness that isn’t our own.

As someone who comes from mentally ill parent(s), and who has been a partner to people with mentally illness or addiction issues, it can be excruciatingly lonely and difficult. I don’t dare open up about this stuff because it treads a line of “slander” or privacy breach. I’ve been condemned for trying to talk about my experiences and seeking support from my community/friends/family.

Where is the help for the caretakers? Are we to suffer quietly because we should respect the privacy of the mentally ill?

Especially when the mentally ill have no/little respect for us, or have been abusive?

What are your thoughts? Is there support for caretakers of the mentally ill? Can they publicly talk about their experiences? Is it a safe environment for them to speak?

Agree or Disagree: It’s time to get rid of photo radar.


You have seen them. You have probably been caught by them.

The Photo Radar.

In Edmonton as an example, they have collected over $40 million dollars in fines in 2014. That is over $9.9 million dollars more than projected.

The Edmonton Journal reports that the fines turned into a $10.9 million dollar deficit into a forecast of a $14.1 million surplus.

Now the idea is that photo radars is to prevent speeding. But, the fact is it hasn’t. There is still concerns. I’m going to let you read some thoughts from Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson. He is for photo radars. You can read his thoughts here.

However, let’s be fair and look at both sides. This is a perspective from a Calgary man who is fighting against photo radars. You can read that

What do you think? Time to get of photo radars?

Agree or Disagree: You would let your kids play American football.


Whether you like it or not,  the NFL is an extremely popular sport. Yesterday’s Super Bowl was the most watched Super Bowl in history. As a matter of fact in Canada, 8 million of us watched the game. That is twice as many people that watched the Grey Cup.

This is what this should tell you. American football is very popular. Many want to watch and many want to play it.

Note: I’m using the term American football, because many people use the term football for soccer). It’s important to clarify the difference for this discussion.

Because the question I’m asking is would you let your kids play American football.

This link is an interesting article. It’s an article from a parent wondering if they would let their kid play football.

Here’s an interesting quote from the post

Football is fun. And football means eating dirt. That’s the tradeoff. Always has been. The game is inherently dangerous, rooted in violence and physical domination, hitting and tackling, knocking your opponent on their ass before they do the same to you. Football breaks bones, shreds ligaments, ruptures internal organs. Occasionally, it kills.

And yet for just about forever, the harm has seemed manageable. Perfectly acceptable. A reasonable price to pay for both Friday Night Lights and weekend tailgating. Because bones heal, and ligaments can be fixed. Deaths are horrific, but freaky and rare. Week after week, season after season, the sport teaches life lessons, rallies communities, provides excitement and entertainment for millions, inspires military flyovers and breast cancer awareness drives. It helps define American masculinity and pays NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s $29.5 million salary. At the youth level, most players walk away from the game with fond memories and without serious, lasting harm; for parents and society alike, football’s rewards largely have outweighed its risks, so much so that even in an era of helicopter parenting and school safety zones, more than four million American children play high school and youth football.

Would you let your kids play American Football?