Friday, 30 December 2011

Let Your Voice Be Heard

Yesterday, I saw a message come across Twitter that suggested their was a lot of Progressive Conservative party nominees running in Calgary Currie. I think having a lot of people interested in representing their neighbours is a wonderful thing. The more voices we hear during an election increases the chances for renewal in our province. This is especially true during the nomination process when members of political parties focus on defining their issues and interests. Participating in a political party at these moments is a vital way to make your voice heard.

To me, the Progressive Conservative party represents a progressive voice for the future of Alberta, one built upon the experiences of the past...both good and bad. This province has thrived for forty years because of the ability to manage the ebb and flow that exists between the public and private sectors. 

We are a province wealthy in resources and energy, within a country rich in beauty, freedom and democracy. This is our good fortune by right of citizenship. Our provincial government recognizes the importance of balancing these complementary resources (public and private) and has been responsive to this delicate balance since Lougheed and throughout our PC history. 

We are on the threshold of becoming a global leader politically, fiscally and environmentally because of the decisions made by this government and because we are open to learning from the decisions that we have made that have had less positive impact.

What does the PC Party mean to you? Tell your local candidate when he or she knocks on your door. It's the only way to help shape the party to reflect the changing province we live in. 

I believe that in the upcoming provincial election, the party that reflects the voices of Calgary Currie the best will have the chance to represent you in the Legislature.

Let your voice be heard. Make sure to vote this spring, and make sure to have your say in helping to pick a candidate for Calgary Currie on January 28th. 

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

A New Calgary, a New Alberta, and a New PC Party

Premier Redford has said "We are now going through a generational change in politics and business.We have to embrace the world in a way that we've never done."

A recent Bloomberg article noted that Calgary has the fastest growing immigrant population of any Canadian city, and will be quickly adding more as companies struggle to fill 100,000 oil industry jobs over the next eight years.

This news is not likely to surprise anyone in Calgary Currie. At St. Michael School, we have significant populations of students from Columbia, Venezuela, Sudan and the Phillipines, as well as smaller numbers of children from many, many other countries. Everyday I see families making the decision to call this city, and specifically Calgary Currie, home, in no small part because of the economic opportunities that Calgary offers in oil and gas, finance, and agriculture.

But there is another opportunity I see reflected in their faces - an opportunity to become involved in the political process of our city and province. The elections of Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi and Premier Alison Redford as leader of the PC Party points not only to the increasing multicultural nature of Calgary and Alberta, but more to the point, the gains the Progressive Conservatives have made in welcoming all Albertans.

To me, this is the moment that makes this year's election so exciting; the opportunity to be a part of a new generation reflective of our multicultural reality.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

This is meant to be a peaceful time of year, but like a lot of people I find that it takes a bit of time before I can relax and enjoy what the Holiday Season is all about.

The responsibilities of work and home need special attention during the Holiday Season, but it is always worth it.
Christmas can just roll by unless you take time to note it and its special significance.

As the Principal of a Catholic School, Christmas for me is one of the most significant dates in the Christian calendar.

But I don't think it matters what your religious or ethnic background is, this is a great time of year to reconnect with friends and family and take some time to think about what is really important in life.

For me, the priority is family.

Life is busy, and it's easy to get wrapped up in its ongoing whir.

This season I will make time to spend with my daughter, to enjoy the special bond that exists between a parent and child.

My Mother is also a special presence in my life, and my Dad has been a great inspiration throughout as well - he always told me I could do anything I wanted.

But don't get me wrong - I will still be campaigning!

After a very short break, I will be out attending functions and knocking on doors in Calgary-Currie, looking for support as I seek the PC nomination for the constituency.

That vote will be held January 28 at the Killarney Glengarry Community Centre (28 Ave and 28ST SW), so please come out and support me.

Christine Cusanelli

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

A new Alberta for a new millenium

One of the exciting things about this upcoming election season is the sense of change in the air. Under Premier Alison Redford, I see signs of a rejuvenated connection to between Albertans and their government. While this spirit is more noticeable with the PC supporters I talk to while campaigning for nomination in Calgary Currie, I have no doubt that the other parties are feeling a similar infusion of energy.

This is important, not just because it makes communities feel stronger, but because we have an upcoming generation of Albertans that need to feel included in the political process, that provincial politics is a meaningful way for them to make their voices heard. While the video below was created for an American audience, our own Albertans born after 1977 share many of the same concerns and characteristics, and like their American cousins, they are too numerous for us to ignore.

With Premier Redford, we arguably have our first Generation X provincial leader in Alberta. I too am a member of Generation X. As an educator, I am acutely aware that the so-called Millennials outnumber my generation in any given social situation. Whereas we grew up in the shadow of the baby boomers, the numerical superiority of the Millennials allow them to create their own social and cultural reference points. If we do not actively engage them in the political process, if we cannot convince them that politics can be for them and by them as well, then we risk losing them to indifference and apathy.

The party that can engage the Millennials will be the party that leads Alberta into the future.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Diversification...the new relationship between Canadian provinces and the world

Canada will relinquish $630-billion in additional GDP over the next 25 years as is estimated by the Canadian Energy Research Institute. Does shipping lower value products for other countries to gain financially continue to make sense for Canada? In Alberta, the future of oil producers and pipeline companies appears to be working in tandem with our federal and provincial governments. Together, we need to use every available asset we have to diversify.

Making access to other world markets like Asia via a West Coast pipeline must be a national priority. Access to our East Coast pipeline is also an important part of the diversification of our resources. Former Premier Lougheed has expressed support of processing more of our national raw products which he believes offers more return to the Canadian economy. This is why Premier Redford's suggestion of the government investing in a kick start of upgrades to CNRL and Northwest might make sense for Alberta. The risk would be low.  We know that bitumen is readily available, even over the long term, and unlike companies, the government can make the financial commitment to the anticipated volumes. Moreover, bitumen from more than one source is then possible and increases the likelihood of return.
So, it would seem that in light of the seemingly stalled Keystone XL Pipeline, Mr. Lougheed's point of view is very apropos. Let's throw in these ideas too: Capitalizing on existing Canadian refineries and refitting lines as well as building new lines to send and process raw bitumen into synthetic crude oil.

While Canada and the US will always be friends, it is clear that Canada is at the threshold of making a huge impact in the world. Alberta cannot make this happen alone but rather, as part of a country that is unified in using her resources effectively and in concert. If we can achieve national unity on this issue (and yes, agree that Kyoto is not for us), we can become the economic force that leads the world fecund in resources, and also, in ways of responsible reduction of emissions. This means we set the tone and agenda in Durban negotiations that can very well place us in a newly empowered position on the world stage as a country abundant in resource and highly ethical in guarding it's environment.

A respectful process is critical. Developing policies and concurrently honouring the roots of our aboriginal people, environmental groups and all stakeholders is a challenge that we must take on. We are a country resplendent in richness that can ensure high quality of life not only for ourselves and our children but, perhaps around the world.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Grade 12 Diploma Exams: Just a Point...of View

Credit is due to our Minister of Education. Thomas Lucaszuk, is stepping up in true PC style and showing Albertans what it looks like when our Government says there will be change. We will listen, we will discuss, we will make the decision that is right for Albertans. Those decisions will be pragmatic and fiscally minded, no doubt. This kind of transparency can only produce a level of ownership from stakeholders that will make our Education System a herald among jurisdictions.

I sent out a reply to our Minister tonight and thought I'd add my comments to the article in the Calgary Herald on Grade 12 Diploma Exams. Here is my FB comment in reply to our Minister's request for feedback on Standardized tests nationwide:

There is an importance to be placed on the value of diploma results to inform our practice: they offer appropriate feedback to teachers for assessing taught and learned outcomes, standardized tests allow for educators to reflect on their practice, for schools to set goals towards improvement, jurisdictions can demonstrate accountability etc...the question is the weight of the diploma and whether an exam which is worth 50% of a students' grade 12 mark is truly valid and they measure what a student has learned and are these results reliable over time. basic research elements.

What are these exams truly for? If it for accountability, then let's create exams that reflect that. We are often funded based on results and what these results show ie: class size does not impact test results at the grade 6 level=less funding for class size contingency teachers. I would argue that the standardized tests, as they are currently designed show more about measuring accountability and therefore dollars are contingent upon good results. If truly we want to measure and place value on what a child has learned, that ought to be done with an emphasis placed on formative rather summative assessment. (At this point, I accidentally pressed RETURN...of course as an educator, I was horrified that I might find a spelling mistake...and I did!)

So, now, I will create the rest of a reply in this blog. It will be brief (ish) and I'll try to keep the teacher speak to a minimum...

Currently, our children in grade 12 write a Standardized Diploma exam in each of the core subjects. It is worth 50% of their final mark. Those are some pretty interesting odds and there are few gambles in life that are worth that kind of pay out or loss. But, most importantly, are they really worth the they really measure Post Secondary preparadeness? Do they really measure what our children have learned when true learning can only be shown over time by way of siginificant concepts? As educators if we are not constantly asking ourselves "How will I know they have learned", we are missing the point. That question leads us to reflection on our practice in the classroom and helps us sharpen our teaching tools. It allows us to assess student knowledge at a given time, to differentiate for the individual and to foster engagement and interest within our students.

Todays teacher is up against some pretty steep has changed the way our children gain knowledge. Do our standardized tests reflect that? In the age of the "Google Effect" where it's no longer necessary to know historical facts, isn't it presumptuous to assume that a multiple choice test is really an important factor in discerning between the 17year old who is ready for University or not. Does anyone remember the AC/DC formula?

Now, I don't profess to know the answer as to how to measure knowledge via a set standard. But, I do believe there is a way to get closer to it than we are. I'm feeling refreshingly optimistic that with the open minded and transparent approach of our Government, we might very well be able to lead the country towards this standard. And that is not only levelling the playing field for our children who seek post secondary studies. It also gives them more choice of institutions to attend.

I'd love to hear about your views...How will I know they have learned?

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Official Announcement! November 22, 2011

A letter to our Constituents

November 27, 2011

Dear Calgary-Currie Constituent,

I would like to thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with me regarding the upcoming Provincial election. I appreciate the support and encouragement you have given me as I seek the nomination to run as the Progressive Conservative candidate for Calgary Currie. I would be honoured if you would support me at the nomination vote on January 28th, 2012 so that I may run in our next election and become your new MLA.

Albertans like you are hopeful and confident that we are at the threshold of achieving national and global recognition because of the exemplary lifestyle we possess.

While visiting your neighborhood, we've discussed that our province is rich in resources, environmental responsiveness and quality of life. At the same time, our conversations have led us to discuss the belief in the ability of our government to manage social programs and promote the private sector in a democratic, practical manner. We are truly on the verge of a historic reshaping of what stakeholders expect from their provincial leaders.

In listening to your individual stories, I have heard the need for transparency, democratic consultation, responsible spending, health care reform, as well as a serious plan to be accountable and ethical to Albertans who access health services. I believe that together, you and I can bring Premier Redford's newly laid plans to fruition.

There are two realities about politics. The first is that politicians want to fulfill the needs and requests of their constituents. The second is that our leader must be a responsible, practical decision maker who remains in touch with all stakeholders and balances services with revenues democratically. With your help, I can offer Calgary-Currie constituents a voice within the Alberta Legislature that will resonate with the issues and concerns that belong to you. Our 40 year success as a PC Party is because as Albertans, we have shaped and re-shaped our government throughout the changing times. We are at the beginning of yet another era in Alberta that will undoubtedly launch us onto the global stage. Let's do this together.

I have had the opportunity to serve as an educator for the past 16 years for Calgary Catholic School District. I received a Bacheliere en Education (B.ed) from the University of Alberta's Faculte Saint Jean. I have taught students in elementary and junior high in regular and French Immersion settings. I achieved a Master's Degree in Counselling Psychology in 1998 from the University of Gonzaga. Not long after, I realized that school administration would allow me to have an influence in ensuring that all children receive instruction that is as differentiated as they are themselves. In my work as administrator, I have been successful within the schools by listening to the needs of the community. In doing so, I have created strong relationships that have enabled me to pursue and achieve clearly laid out visions. I am a strategic leader, an agent of change, a tenacious believer in defending hopes and a maker of success stories. My interest in activities like running, cycling and swimming has led me to train for and compete in triathlons, marathons and other events to raise funds for a variety of organizations. I am an active member of St. Michael's Parish and have served in the music ministry for 7 years. I am a dedicated mother and a daughter of aging parents. I have had the privilege of advocating on behalf of my family within the school system and within our health care system. I understand the need for compassion in working with people who are searching for solutions to difficult questions.

All these experiences have led me to believe that I advocate best by listening, networking, and using proven communication and leadership skills to inquire, find answers and take action. It is because of these experiences that I can be a responsive, dedicated and effective Member of the Legislative Assembly.

Please feel free to contact me if you would like to know more about how you can become involved in my nomination campaign or if you'd like to learn more about my potential as your new MLA.

Very Sincerely,

 Christine Cusanelli 

Saturday, 26 November 2011

The Welcome from Westgate

WWW! Westgate+ Wildwood = Welcoming communities I have spent the last couple of days knocking on doors and meeting folks in the Westgate and Wildwood communities.  I had a feeling they would prove to be as amazing as the families who attend the school where I serve as a Principal since this happens to be in the same area. True to that prediction, they are the example of down to earth people who like to discuss their histories in these two longstanding neighborhoods.  I met a number of couples who are the original owners of their homes in Wildwood.  Some showed me photos of their beautiful gardens and others talked about the longstanding positive impact that our PC government has had on Alberta.  At the same time, they talked openly of their concerns about the"change" that is needed.  Nonetheless, they are committed to an openness for the change that Premier Redford has been initiating.  This has become the trademark of hope for Albertans residing in Wildwood and Westgate it seems.  Many constituents let me know that my association to the PC party as a proven professional and a women in her late 30's represents the "new face of politics". Other interesting issues and concerns about the environment and conservation of the nearby natural areas popped up in conversation.  At the same time, others told me of some of their struggles having their interests heard regarding offroading Associations.  I also listened to other challenges that some constituents faced with finding suitable placement for their aging parents in assisted living facilities.  I learned that these people are concerned not just for their own parents, but for the future of other elderly residents who may face not having a place to care for them in the not so distant future. I'm convinced that the Calgary-Currie constituents of Wildwood and Westgate are a powerful group who are not only concerned about their individual needs but also about the overall needs of all Albertans.  These communities have expressed an intelligence of current issues and the importance of pragmatic solutions.  They are a caring and so open to relationship building. I am mightily encouraged by their frankness and strong support of my nomination.  Thank you Westgate and Wildwood!  I would be honoured to have the opportunity to serve as your new MLA. I hope you will put January 28th on your calendars and be there to support me on nomination day! Posted by Christine Cusanelli at 21:36 Email This BlogThis! Share to Twitter Share to Facebook

November Blog

More thoughts from Westgate...
I was out today making my way through the community of Westgate.  This is a neighbourhood that has a wonderful connectedness.  There is a sense of people who care about and for one another.  They are the stuff that all communities should be made of.  We were invited in to sit down with people who have lived in Westgate for 20, 30, 40 years.  We met many children of parents who now live down the block from one another or were simply visiting their parents and had wonderful thoughts to share.

The pervasive message is that people are very satisfied with Alison Redford's leadership.  Westgate people are PC vets who have been around long enough to understand that our province is very much about the ebb and flow that characterizes a boom, bust province.  They expressed an understanding and interest in the need to balance a province's private sector's gains with it's public sector's needs.  These people talk about the importance of  creating the best health care access and education systems by yes, offering appropriate funding but also, by using that funding efficiently.  This, according to the Hospital Porter I spoke with means  consulting the people who work in the hospitals themselves to gain insight as to how and where money could be saved.  I spoke with a Health Region Consultant who shared her thoughts on funding in areas that would help us save over the long run by being pro-active.  She agrees with Premier Redford's focus on prevention which is less costly than treatment.  She suggested specifics such as addictions prevention and a government policy on nutrition.  She also suggested finding ways to reduce disparities for such things as aboriginal health since we know this population is growing 4-10 times faster than any other.  I also found another off roader who explained the importance of outdoor enthusiasts using natural areas ethically when driving (and carefully maintaining) motorized off roading vehicles.  He shared with me that it is important to have designated trails to preserve the environment and spoke about his belief in the principles of an organization called Treadlightly!  Treadlightly! works in partnership with others to promote and protect access for motorized vehicles while instilling an ethical responsibility in outdoor enthusiasts.  I'm curious to learn more about the balance between preservation and appreciation. How do we preserve responsibly while supporting the right to appreciate and learn about our beautiful province?
Posted by Christine Cusanelli at 19:43
Email This
Share to Twitter
Share to Facebook

Can premier's olive branch bring peace and prosperity?

Can premier's olive branch bring peace and prosperity?

When Alison Redford won the leadership, I wonder if she knew she was about to change the face of Alberta. We are now on the threshold not only of great things provincially and nationally but, globally as well. It should be sinking in, as Braid has said that we are, along with our new Premier, a province of an entirely new order.

We are Albertan...that is going to be an image painted to the rest of the world on an entirely new canvas.