Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Winds of Change

A couple of days before the federal election I was in Calgary attending an event called “Speaker’s Spotlight” when I ran into Preston Manning, former leader of the Reform party and Leader of the Opposition (1997 – 2000) in Ottawa.  He was the first speaker in a line-up of keynote presenters that included Olympians Mark Tewksbury and Debby Muir and others.  We had spent some time together when he was at Keyano College early in 2010 for The Global Address speaker series, so we had a pre-established level comfort with one another.

 “How do you feel about the potential of having Jack Layton as our next Prime Minister?” I asked.

His eyes fluttered and his brow wrinkled as he broke into a wide smile, “Well, it wouldn’t be good for you guys up in Fort McMurray that’s for sure!”

He is such a down to earth, tell-it-like-it-is, kind of fellow – reminds me of a cross between my dad and my grandfather.  I feel quite at home in his company.

The winds of change swept across our country, as an inexplicable NDP surge took hold in the last two weeks of the campaign.  In our riding, the orange candidate did absolutely nothing.  He didn’t put up a single campaign sign, respond to media queries, or do a single strain of effort to convince voters that he was a good choice.  He was a name on the ballot and that’s it.  In the end, he received more votes than the Liberal candidate who worked her tail off traversing back and forth across one of the geographically largest ridings in the country.  The surge turned into tidal wave which became a movement, and movements by their very nature are highly magnetic.  The name on the ballot next to the three letters – N D P – attracted over 4,000 votes in Fort McMurray-Athabasca.

 There were several occasions when we sat around the dinner table discussing politics and the election.  Dylan’s class participated in a video conference a couple of days ago with Liberal MP Justin Trudeau.  Not surprisingly, he came home demonstrating a particularly strong Liberal bias as we discussed things over supper.  I believe Dylan has the capacity to lead; he certainly shows a keen interest in the affairs of state and of the world.

 We announced the biggest concert in Fort McMurray history a few weeks ago, as Events Wood Buffalo inked a deal with KISS to play here on July 2nd.  The show went on sale yesterday at noon and sold out in 24 frenetic minutes.  I’m not sure whether I’m a pessimist or realist, but I was not initially convinced that we’d be able to sell the show out at all.  But in 1440 seconds I was proven unequivocally wrong.  I’m so pleased.  It’s a million dollar show and I’m relieved that all the expenses will be covered.

KISS was a big part of our youth, as I’m sure my siblings and cousins will confirm.  Keith had KISS posters on every available inch of wall space in our bedroom and dozens of records. At Halloween, the make-up designs of Gene Simmons, Peter Criss, Ace Frehley and Paul Stanley were often seen wandering through the darkened streets of Kamsack.  They were (and are) iconic figures.

Heather is down in Santa Barbara, California for an Eric Schiffman yoga workshop.  This is her first major trip on her own since Jamie and Christine got married down in Costa Rica.  I keep hearing rave reviews about her teaching abilities and finally asked for a private lesson.  It was quite something.  I enjoyed the meditative quality of the experience.  It was some much-needed Zen time after what had been a particularly stressful week of work.

 Now that the river has broken and water is flowing on the Athabasca, I’ve been able to get out and enjoy some early season fishing.  Unfortunately, our regular spot is inaccessible owing to some construction, so I’ve been relegated to a rather unproductive spot on the other side of the river.  That said, I’ve managed to catch a couple of small burbot, so I shouldn’t complain.

A majority government (see The Surge), a Royal Wedding, THE HOTTEST SHOW ON EARTH (see KISS sells out in 1440 seconds), and the death of a terrorist (see What they were remembering?) have dominated the airwaves, providing rich fodder for my blog in recent days.  The Royal Wedding post has vaulted to the top of the most read blog post list as its Google ranking was incredibly high (see The Power of Attraction).  It has been viewed (not necessarily read) by over a thousand people.

Meanwhile, the boys are enjoying the start of spring, new friends, and new exciting challenges.  Ben has developed a rich friendship with Owen, doing rotating sleepovers and visits every weekend.  I’m excited to report that Dylan had his first work experience, helping his mom Nadia at Outpost 63 last weekend, her new store serving the plant workers and the community of Fort MacKay north of the Peter Lougheed Bridge (the bridge to nowhere).

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day.  I think it’s nice that a movement has begun on Facebook for people to change their profile pics to photos of their mother.  It started a couple of days ago and is quickly picking up steam.  I chose one of my favourite pictures of Mom, sitting on the swing with Tante Georgette last summer.

Happy Mother’s day to the many mothers who receive the Wood Buffalo Update!  Enjoy your special day with careless abandon and unabashed joy!

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