A well overdue thank you – for Mr. Will Munsey

Being from Alberta one must accept certain truths. The first, is that we are a unique bunch, the second is that we are more alike than we care to admit. Last May 6th 2015, I was reminded of both by a good friend, Mr. Will Munsey.

Mr. Munsey is, as he will tell you, a railroader, a farmer, a father, and – rural to my city. But he is more than that.

I met Will in our tireless, some would say fruitless, pursuit of establishing the Alberta Party as a legitimate option in Provincial politics. I left the party a year after serving as it’s Provincial Board President. Will, assumed the role and worked it amazingly. We both wanted the same thing, a centrist government – but I was frustrated by the inability of the party to consolidate support from average Albertans. I chose two years later to track that with an attempt at the PC seat in Edmonton Rutherford, he stayed on the Alberta Party Board and has ran as a candidate in two elections for them.

As I ran in May 2015 for the PC’s, Will was good enough to support me by delivering brochures in Edmonton Rutherford, easily against his disdain for the 43 year reign of that government.  That is Will, friends above party.

But, this story is not about politics. It’s about the thing we should truly care about, friendship.

The day after the good citizens of Edmonton Rutherford delivered me our well-deserved loss, something terrible happened. Our dog Murphy, of ten years, suddenly went into a complicated diabetic shock and we were faced with the inevitable choice but to have him put down.

I was devastated and in utter shock.

The election, the day before, was frankly a shot of relief. As I have mentioned before, serving politically was always an uncertain pursuit. But being the master to a mediocre hunting dog, the one that our whole family loved more than anything, was certainly who we were.

The day after the election, in total disarray and without any idea what to do, I remember calling Will – he knew I was crying – and we both ignored that, as men do. At the veterinary clinic with my wife and two daughters, all of us in disbelief and emotional ruin, I reached out. It was 2:00 in the afternoon.

Will, who was working and on a train somewhere in Alberta, had built a newly started pet cemetery on his farm in New Serepta. He was immediately supportive and invaluable. The best of friends. Will suggested that he would pick up Murphy, well after midnight, from the Vet, and make sure he would respectfully bury him on his beautiful farm. He did it without question, without payment, and certainly on top of what would have been another long day for him on the railroad. We, as a family, could go home and not be burdened with the horrible reality of dealing with the physical outcome of the day.

I am writing this tonight because I need to thank Will. He was and remains, a very important friend. I can’t ever properly thank him for his kindness. I love him and his family because, at the time, he didn’t need me to do anything – he just helped.

I can’t place where politics matter much anymore. It’s a game where sometimes people take advantage of those who can’t see past the first layer of what partisanship is. But beyond that layer, there is a place where most of us reside, and that is where we stand behind each other as friends.

Thank you Will for your support and friendship. I loved my dog, you honoured that. You are the best of Alberta.

7 Dog Years Later.

A year ago tonight, I was summarily rejected by the people of Edmonton Rutherford; caught up in the election sweep of Alberta by the Rachel Notley led NDP – benefactors of a widespread rejection of our 44 year old PC government. In my opinion, history will prove it was PC establishment arrogance that lost the election and had nothing to do with any new ideas, let alone better ones, from the NDP. But the NDP won, and for that they own the right to govern Alberta for four years. I will always be cheering for Alberta – so by extension, I will cheer for them/us. Until of course the next election.

I wasn’t ever 100% sure I wanted to be a politician. I have always wanted to drive my ideas and ideals into good governance; but the role of an elected official was always one that still freaked me out. As an independent business owner and the kind of guy who likes to call a spade a spade, it became very obvious, very fast, that running for office is no place for someone who has a strong opinion and can’t keep it to her/himself.

Frankly, seeking the nomination, the two-months of glad-handing and door-knocking, was in many ways a daily hell. I was expected to bite my lip and told to skip debates, I had my written words changed by the people behind the war-room curtain, and every day as I walked to the doors of regular Albertans, who I am sure I would have normally really enjoyed… I was called a liar, a cheat, arrogant and entitled. Not because they knew anything about me, since of course they didn’t, but because every political race needs a loser and far too many regular citizens think all politicians are assholes. Of course in 2015 our PC party, as a whole, essentially fit both descriptions.

These are not complaints. I quite sincerely found daily energy from the 150 volunteers who gave me their support in time, money and encouragement. Because of the volunteers, family and friends, it was all, almost, bearable. Perhaps like a sexual rendezvous with an exotic stranger, it may come with some exhilarating moments…. but, just as likely, it can leave you with lingering regret, a sore back and some questioning of your own judgement.

So why bother writing this piece of reflective, self-indulgent and essentially pointless piece? Well, basically because I needed to finally put the whole thing behind me. My year since May 5th, 2015, has been everything but politics. I have literally hidden in corners of rooms to avoid having to talk about my brief political experience. I am ready to finally think about what it might mean to get back involved in my community and my vision for all three levels of government. That doesn’t mean I am interested in ever going back to politics… just that I am hopeful for good governance and will be there to help find it.

I am happy to be back writing as well, and hope to publish here more regularly.

Living with Intent.

I have had one hell of a year. I have had my political ass kicked, kicked some business ass, lost my dearly beloved dog Murphy, and sadly accepted, last summer, my 21 year marriage would be best converted to a deep-friendship and lifelong partnership in parenting.

I drank too much and exercised hardly at all. I spent too much time thinking that success in boardrooms; time in airplanes and airports, closing deals, would deliver me a kind of happiness. I started taking blood pressure medication. No fucking kidding, right?

So yeah, I am happy to leave 2015 behind. But I am also deeply thankful for the lessons it gave me. I am thankful that I get to remain dear friends with a woman who shared with me more than half of her life, and who, with our two daughters, have taught me what unconditional loves means. I am thankful that I get to work with my best friends, so those hours in the boardrooms never feel like work… and finally I am thankful for the chance to build a newer version of my life, with intent and more purpose towards health and happiness.

Of course we all get that chance, every morning we open our eyes. I just might be a more stubborn, a slower learner than most of you. Come back and visit here from time-to-time; I am happily back sharing my thoughts, ideas, revelations and questions with the World from here. (Because, allegedly, living a life of intent requires me to express my intentions).


Happy New Year!






Edmonton and Uber. Each, young and confident, disruptive ideas.


What a time to be an Edmontonian. Our city is enjoying what feels like an unbeatable energy; fed by our entrepreneurialism, a new confidence of identity and our ever-present community approach to building things.

Tapping into that energy, or perhaps helping feed it, this year’s E-Town Festival successfully challenged its 1,000 attendees to “think differently.” The festival is designed to “feed the mind and heart of people who get excited by innovation, creativity and disrupting common thought.”

Peter Diamandis, one of the festival’s keynote speakers, was perhaps the most challenging: presenting mind-bending examples of disruptive and exponential ideas and organizations. Diamandis founded the X-Prize, which made commercial space travel a reality and co-founded the Singularity University, a graduate-level Silicon Valley institution studying the ability of exponentially growing technologies to transform industries and solve humanity’s grand challenges.

Peter Diamandis is not a small thinker. Neither, I hope, are Edmontonians.

Diamandis talked at length about the rapidly expanding and truly disruptive nature of car-sharing services and Uber, in particular, a ride-sharing service that I have much personal experience with. In his words, “it fits the model of an exponential organization. It is democratizing travel options for users, it uses technology to dramatically improve a broken system and it is universally loved by its users and drivers.” He challenged us to imagine our place at the forefront of the “Uberification” of many things; which means, at least to me, a community of citizens using technology to share resources, helping each other, and unleashing entrepreneurial opportunity and a new economy.

But what is the greatest enemy of innovation? It is an establishment-biased fear of the unknown and an over-reaction of regulation, where regulation is not needed.

Cities around the world are fighting ride-sharing services, instead of adapting to work with them. My own discussions with some of our politicians and bureaucrats lead me to believe that Edmonton will be no different. They will argue concerns about safety and fairness, which are of course important, but they are misguided. With each of Uber’s product levels, from private citizen-driven uberX cars, to uberTAXI or the more luxurious uberBLACK car service, I have experienced a better product, at a significantly reduced price.

Like traditional taxi services, Uber drivers go through a rigorous background check. Drivers must maintain a minimum insurance coverage, supplemented by coverage from Uber’s policy. There is also a quality standard for Uber cars, which are also mandated to be newer vehicles. Conveniently, drivers and riders need not carry cash or credit cards: fares, including gratuity, are automatically paid from the phone-based application.

The advantages don’t stop with safety, quality and convenience.

Every ride is logged and GPS tracked in real time, so, if necessary, authorities can access driver and rider whereabouts. Before getting into a car, riders can review their driver’s service record and vehicle description, provided by past customers. Riders themselves are subject to similar anonymous reviews by drivers. A system that relies on both parties to maintain their reputation within the service is a system that, in my experience, provides cleaner cars, friendlier and more helpful drivers and no hassles with payment — every time.

Finally, we must consider impaired driving. Conveniently accessing taxi service, especially when needed most, as citizens pour themselves out of bars, can be impossible. Sadly, some citizens will make the irresponsible decision to drive impaired. If greater access to convenient and cost effective driving alternatives helps with this problem, we must embrace ride-sharing as one of those alternatives.
So, Edmonton, are we really ready to “embrace innovation, creativity and disrupting common thought”?

We are about to see a fierce debate play out in our city. The taxi industry will fight ride-sharing services. They naturally want to protect their monopoly. Some establishment-thinking politicians and bureaucrats will lack the courage to change our regulations and accept a product that virtually everyone wants.

Sadly, I know people who have gotten behind the wheel because getting a taxi was difficult. I need to support this service to help end that thinking. I want to support this service because of my own positive experiences with it. Join me to think differently; we can easily split the fare with these innovative apps.

Why I am Supporting Randy Boissonnault for Edmonton Centre

For many years, I chose not to concern myself with what the rest of Canada thought about Edmonton. In my heart I knew the special nature of this community and in many ways me, my company and my family have all benefited because of it. But in the last few years, especially as a business owner who relies on a vibrant community, I chose to double-down my commitment in helping the city; because what is great about Edmonton is often misunderstood.

We are entrepreneurial builders; we are a tolerant, accepting, diverse place, and we are scrappy about helping each other succeed as opposed to tearing each other down in competition.

In Co-Chairing the original Make Something Edmonton taskforce, and as an ardent supporter of Startup Edmonton and its first board chair, I met Randy Boissonnault. Randy, shares the same passions I do for these things, but he also embodies them. He was one of our first supporters of Startup Edmonton, donating to join the Founders 50, a significant commitment to give back to the startup ecosystem exploding in Downtown Edmonton. As the founder of Literacy Without Borders and a successful entrepreneur in his own business, Randy is also a builder, a maker, a starter and a finisher.

Randy will be a great Member of Parliament for Edmonton Centre, I have little doubt about that. I have worked with him as a volunteer and my company has hired him as a business consultant. Randy is driven to results and committed to positive outcomes.

However I am supporting Randy for something more than that. When Ottawa and the rest of Canada look at Randy as an example of Edmonton’s best, we will  be proud of what they see. As Randy has said to me again and again, Canada needs more Edmonton… and I couldn’t agree more….. which is also why Edmonton Centre needs Randy Boissonnault.

The Tale of Two Leaders

Today served me a reminder of what leadership should look like. I have an ideal for leaders. It revolves around three key standards I personally wish to be judged on, and frankly for which I hope our Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson and our Premier Allison Redford to subscribe to.

Leaders should be: Humble. Authentic. Servant Leaders.

My Don Iveson Leadership Observation:

You can read an interesting post here, by Paula Simons of the Edmonton Journal, who describes how Don Iveson may have slightly let us down today at his “State of the Union” event.

I agree with Paula in how she “felt” at today’s luncheon, which was attended by a record 2200 business people. Hell, we all stood in ovation before he even spoke… his is a political victory and style which makes us all feel proud and excited for his potential (and ours as a city). A narrative everyone wants to be a part of. But also a narrative he and his whip-smart team of handlers have created for him. It was bound to let us down.

I must admit, I know Don Iveson enough to have not been surprised by his speech today. Don is possibly one of the most articulate, thoughtful and policy wonkish politicians I have had the chance to meet. Paula’s description of him as Clark Kent ,when we perhaps unfairly set him up to be our Superman, is a fantastic analogy of who he is and where he is right now in his new role. It is by no means a reason for him to be criticized; in fact if anything, it should serve as a criticism of ourselves. We want the perfect politician. Populist, great communicator, fiery style and impassioned service person. We want what we ourselves are usually not.

But, Mayor Iveson is also at an important inflection point of his career as our Mayor and hopefully something greater in the future. Don, has been successful in inspiring what Edmonton can be. He swings a big vision. For that exact reason I am hopeful and ready to give him a free pass.

Don works tirelessly to try and be the perfect politician, in a modern context. He communicates openly. He tweets personally to the average citizen; he is accessible and coined (and lives) the phrase, “politics in full sentences”. That said, I think he has created his own problem. He wants to know everything about every issue. He wants to apply his own solution to each of these.

Don has won at everything he has applied himself too. That can create a feeling of invincibility. I don’t think for a second he thinks of himself in this way. Not at all, and possibly quite the opposite. But, perhaps someone who has won on every front thinks the best way to engineer the solutions to problems is by working harder. I think Don works tirelessly this way… but I think he will also have to learn how to let others help him lead. Don may mistakenly think he can do it all… because honestly… to now, he has.

That said, because he is humble, authentic, and a servant leader… I have every faith he will adapt. I think Don will become on of our greatest mayors, and one of our city’s most successful leaders. What he may lack in instinct and charisma, will undoubtedly emerge.

My Alison Redford Leadership Observation:

I have tried to give our Premier the same benefit of the doubt. Like many Albertans, I was intrigued with her resume and her narrative; at the same time when I had given up on the Alberta PC Party. An internationally experienced human rights lawyer, our first women Premier, a young and socially progressive politician, who seemed to also be willing to be a fiscal hawk when needed. I was somewhat smitten. The timing of her narrative peaked around an election where we had a choice between something scary or something seemingly smart and safe.

What a disappointment she has been.

The Premier’s mistakes are more alarming. The reason I find them as such, are based on what Paula Simons was trying to say today about Mayor Iveson (I think), and that is one based on expectations. I think we all wanted her to be a beacon of something, and she has taken a turn for the opposite.

I have given her the benefit of the doubt. Hell, considering what’s at stake, I am tempted to still do.  By winning the PC leadership as the initial third choice, she won the leadership on an arguable technicality. After that, she won the election in the middle of a storm of political uncertainty. The Wildrose party was the favourite, until truths were revealed about cracks in their readiness to lead. Their “lake of fire” candidate and “conscience rights” stance were simply too radical for a Province which has evolved to something more complex.

But, this is all a past reality. What this Premier has done with her opportunity is more worrisome.

The Premier has betrayed this opportunity by thinking her personal narrative was bigger than the responsibility of leadership. She is the antithesis of a humble, authentic servant leader. She can’t seem to connect with those of us who have elected her. She is uncomfortable with the rural Albertan, the back-room style Edmonton establishment and a firebrand Calgary ethos. She is lacking a cohesive vision for the Province, or at least communicating one for us to latch onto. She is also clearly unable to make us see her as one of us.

Each of these things requires a commitment to mix it up with the local community leaders who embody them. The Premier, in her failure, has relied on her initial success and confused it with the real ingredients of leadership. Unlike the Edmonton Mayor, she has stopped trying. Worse, she may not know how.

She has lost the faith of her caucus, some inside her cabinet, and the trust of the public. Our Mayor, in spite of a lack of “Superman” qualities in style, has a complete council behind him and can draw an ovation from 2200 business people. Out of trust in a narrative and because he works his ass off to earn that trust.

They are quite different leaders. They both have had success fall onto their laps in a mix of serendipity and hard work. One of them, the Premier, has run out of free passes.

From here on forward, and in as little as a few days or weeks, the Premier will face a tidal wave of objectors. Even more controversies will emerge. It will seem unfair if you are only a PC loyalist and it will be schadenfreude if you are anything else.

Me personally, I will wonder how two smart, surely caring, public servants can end up on the opposite side of history.  I can only guess it comes down to this. A commitment to the principles of what I think makes a great leader.

Humble. Authentic. Servant Leader.

“Why I am supporting Don Iveson for Mayor. Don is an idea people.”

In this city, it’s common to see uncommon success stories. Frankly, that’s why I love it here. I love big thinkers, risk takers and people who suffer from delusions of optimism, ideals, progress, and prosperity.

In this City, people can challenge the odds of convention, and still build great things. This is true of business, arts, sports & culture and social enterprise.

Bill Comrie was an awe-inspiring 19-years of age when he inherited a struggling family furniture business. With the aptly named idea for a “Midnight Madness” sale, Comrie transformed an industry and created a billion dollar business legacy, here in Edmonton.

Dr. Maurice Lewis Van Vliet A lifelong academic, with no business experience, became the visionary, President and CEO of the Commonwealth Games of 1978. Driving this idea to reality because of his passion for sport and the city. Without doubt, a defining moment in our city’s coming of age as volunteers and major event hosts.

Brian Paisley a small-time theatre director with $50,000 in public funding created the Fringe Festival, the first, and still largest of it’s kind in North America. With dozens of cities copying the model. Edmonton has seen an unbelievable return on that $50,000 investment and it was a small amount of money behind someone with a creative vision and idea.

These people did not necessarily succeed because of their experience. They succeeded with their vision and an idea, and importantly because they could tap the energy of Edmonton itself. Be it Economic or Ideal. Creative or Compassionate.

In today’s Edmonton, more than I have ever seen in my life here, we are filled with potential. Not because of one generation vs. another, but because of a confidence blessed on it from an extraordinary economy, a diversifying economy and global thinking idea people.

But the City is also poised to capitalize on that potential, not from overflowing wells of age or experience, but from the endless energy and visions of an emerging new class of leaders. We know many of these people. New immigrants, university graduates, geeky policy wonks and crazily ambitious entrepreneurs. Most of them are much younger than me.  All of them are IDEA people.

Don Iveson - Idea People

Don Iveson – Idea People

This is why I am supporting Don Iveson for Mayor. Don is an idea people

I have no concerns that his business experience is limited to smaller companies; we are not hiring a business manager, we have a City Manager. Don has proven his ability to work with council and he knows that this is the lead role of a team of governors. Don will build consensus around the best idea, even if it’s not his own.

I have zero interest in play-it-safe politicians and I am ecstatic Don has the guts to chase the bigger challenge of Mayor, even at 34. People have really missed the important narrative here. In my opinion, Don had a guaranteed six-figure career as a councilor and many thought he should have served another term. But Don had the guts to take his shot and knowingly risk job security (with a young family), for the chance at making a bigger difference, based on a bigger vision for the City.

There’s no cloth from which you can simply cut out the perfect community servant. These people can be from all walks of life, ideology and experience. The good ones are action oriented and practical, yet idealistically rooted in public service. The best ones are thoughtful, personable, humble and big visionaries. Idea people.

Don is the best combination of these things, and unwilling to let anyone underestimate the City, it’s people and potential.

I’m quite cool with that; because neither am I*.

* I am proudly the current Chair of Startup Edmonton, Co-Chair of Make Something Edmonton, investor in three Edmonton startups, and Co-Founder / Co-CEO of Yardstick Software, one of Edmonton’s fastest growing knowledge-economy companies.

“…what Alison Redford taketh away….. Alison Redford giveth back?”

Well… you might say… here we go again.

Since the 2012 election, I have been somewhat of a political agnostic. My experience helping build the Alberta Party into a new moderate option for Albertans was an experience I would never give back, yet one that opened my eyes to the difficulties and challenges of partisan politics.

Let’s not go into the story on why it didn’t find greater success, as it would take a book to do it justice; but I can summarize pretty much where I feel the movement Peaked: Just prior to The selection of Alison Redford as PC Party leader. It made sense really. On paper, the Premier was the perfect blend of potential. Our first woman Premier, young, a human rights lawyer with international experience, and yet a reputation for sternness when needed.

But perhaps what Alison Redford taketh away….. Alison Redford giveth back?

After a couple years of an Alison Redford PC Government, it’s possible the conditions are emerging for the Alberta Party to be considered again as an option in the provincial political landscape? What are some of those things?

  1.  The likelihood of a Wildrose government. Danielle Smith is leading the only real organized opposition to the government, and on many issues, is looking more like a Premier than the Premier. They are beating the PC’s at their own game, raising piles of money from a very broad base of support, and they have very much softened their policy positions. The Wildrose will not make the same mistakes the next election, they did the last one.
  2.  The Alberta Liberals seem to be struggling with sustainability. Under the highly polarizing and some might say damaging ego leader Raj Sherman, it seems almost all large donors have left and so too much of the new blood needed to backfill this vacuum.
  3.  The PC Government under Alison Redford has acted erratically on many huge issues, and less than ever, we really don’t know their vision. They have tried to be everything along the political spectrum, and seemingly are beating themselves in the process. Even some bright lights in the party (yes they are there), have been dulled by the overbearing control from a Madame Premier who calls all the shots. These are the last couple years:


But… back to my point. The Alberta Party. What to do with this table scrap of the past election?

Firstly, I am happily surprised the experiment from 2009, 2010 and 2011 has somehow persisted. The retail support of the party has virtually disappeared, but as I revisited it over the last month, what I saw surprised me. Several new faces among their support and a fresh commitment to stay the course; build it responsibly, and maintain commitment for a fresh political palate. A new home for moderately minded political Albertans.

** Special shout-out to current Alberta Party President Will Munsey, who seems to personally embody almost every example of the Province. A rural farmer, who also works as a unionized train engineer; an entrepreneur who fits perfectly selling his fresh foods and plants to Urban local-food enthusiasts. Will holds a masters degree and has lived for two-decades abroad. He speaks fluent Japanese and knows a thing or two about the colourful language of hardworking Albertans as well. This man has been instrumental in holding the party up, even if just above the waterline, saving it from possibly drowning.

Candidate Greg Clark, Party President Will Munsey, Candidate Troy Millington

Candidate Greg Clark, Party President Will Munsey, Candidate Troy Millington

That said, the Alberta Party will not form the next government of Alberta and it would be a twice in a century story for them to form government in even two elections. But when I spent some time talking to each of the candidates currently running for leader of this boutique movement, I found a whole new extreme practicality. The two Calgary based candidates are similar in professional background, as computer and technology service consultants, yet they are also unique in their own approach. Yet again, as they are diverse, they also seem to typify the party in several ways. Fresh, young, new to the scene and VERY gosh-shucks idealistic.

So where am I going with this? Well I am asking myself once again, is it time to give the next chapter of this young book, another look? As I said, can the Alberta Party form the next Government, of course not. The real questions, which I WILL be asking at the only Edmonton leadership forum event, will be around how each of these men will lead the party over the next couple years to continue it’s growth?

How will they make it more sustainable, perhaps more applicable to all Albertans? When will Albertans understand the policy of the party in practical terms? How will that be developed? Finally, how will they afford to keep the lights on, or better said, how will the Party get better at the Business of Politics. Something it has prided itself on shunning… clearly a mistake if it wants to bridge itself to the mainstream.

So… I invite you to join me as I ask those tough questions of each candidate.   On Wednesday September 4th, (The Facebook event link for more information) – Edmonton will have it’s only opportunity to meet the candidates, ask them some tough questions, before you decide if you want to buy a membership, which is required to vote in this race.

A race that by many will be considered irrelevant… unless you love the challenge and risk of building something new… and some of us Albertans certainly do.

My thoughts on Heritage Days and the Diversity Ideal

Well…. sometimes more than 140 characters is required.

Twitter erupted today regarding the “whiteness” that was our Heritage Day’s Festival Judges. Four people whom I know, in their own way, to be involved in a fight for a better city, a better province and who each frankly would reject without fail any concept of inequity amongst our wonderfully diverse citizenry. These people are outspoken warriors for the Canadian ideal… either as politicians, traditional journalists or web-personality.

In the very original set of posts on the subject, someone raised the question of an all-white panel of judges for this year’s festival. Something I had noticed, but firstly dismissed, as an (IMO) attempt to find the best possible influencers to help gain even more exposure for one of our most popular festivals. I didn’t ignore for long, and chimed in with what I thought was a pretty innocuous tweet… then all hell broke loose.

Never, ever, did I (Or I think anyone else who initially raised the issue) think the issue was about the volunteers on the panel, or frankly even a nefarious intent of the festival organizers. It was simply, in my opinion, the strategy of organizers to find the most influential voices (in their opinion) to be the “celebrity judges”. I think it is THIS strategy (if it was one) that was flawed.

If we can all just park the idea that we are criticizing intent, I really believe that there is room to review the thought process.

By making diversity a priority, we open up the possibilities to different perspectives. Visible minorities have different experiences and life perspectives. Assuming that THESE four judges speak as influencers to all communities, is potentially a fallacy. Each community has influencers, they just may not be uber-tweeters, as we seemed to end up with.

By hoping for more diversity, I WAS NOT belittling any one culture or ethnicity, the judges, or the other thousands of volunteers who make this event an amazing Edmonton success story.

I just think we can  simply raising the bar even higher, in an already very tolerant and diverse city. One I really hope can have this discussion, without thinking we are attacking each other personally, but working together towards as stronger ideal.

A Father’s Letter to His Daughter

This Father’s day, I humbly share with you a letter I wrote for my oldest daughter as she graduated High School and embarked towards University, two years ago. I have said this before, and I mean it: Being a dad is the greatest reward I could ask for. Being a father, to daughters, is heavenly. I hope you enjoy these words. I feel they are applicable to both dads and daughters/sons. I love being a father.

“It’s an understatement to say that you have been the single greatest influence on my life.

18 years ago, I was preparing for the transition from unsettled and unfocused young man, to provider, father and responsible family man. Although your mom and I did all the work to bring you into this World, you have never failed to impress us with what you will do with the opportunity; and along the way you have taught me some very valuable lessons.

However, bear with me now, as I want to now share some thoughts and advice with you.

On things, purpose and hard-cover books

Who you are in this World will have less to do with what you gather through it, than what you leave behind. Don’t ever be ashamed of pursuing those things that make you happy, but trust me when I tell you that it’s very rewarding to do nice things, more than having nice things. (My secret tip: The more nice things you do, somehow the more nice things you gather. Especially friends, but also opportunities.)

This does not mean that you shouldn’t always treat yourself to rewards that are meaningful to you, and I would never skimp on travel, entertainment with great friends, fine pens, hard-cover books, rare cars or life adventures.

On presence, confidence and making an ass of yourself

Be a leader. The World is screaming out for leaders, and you have the two key ingredients necessary to be a great leader; intelligence and compassion rooted in fairness.

Look for opportunities to formulate your own opinions and enjoy the opportunity which comes in University, to challenge those opinions and debate them with others. But remember: There is nothing in an opinion that can’t be trumped by an idea. And there is no value in an idea that hasn’t be freed by an action.

The ratio of opinions to ideas then action is a lop-sided one indeed. Be the person who uses the first two, and instigates the third. Surprisingly, if you are true to the values of fairness and intelligence, people will admire and thank you for leading them.

Sometimes this will result in failure, embarrassment, financial ruin, and/or heckling from the uninformed. Don’t give a shit about that.

On love, life and family

Falling in love and being in love are completely different things. The first one can happen with a simple random glance. The second one is only confirmed after years of hard work, sacrifice and mutual respect for your partner. This is a tricky, bloody business and frankly I have no advice for you on this matter except this: if you think you’re in love, then you have to go through all the hard work to try and prove it, there is no other way to know.

I have never shared this with you directly, but you represent the break in a chain of my personal family experience. Every important decision I have made in my life, including on career, love and family, has been made with the stubborn understanding that in parenting you and your sister, I could break a chain of unhealthy parent/child relationships and role modeling in my family.

As you become the first in my childhood family and now our immediate family to enter University, I am proud of some modest success in breaking that chain. But it’s not that you are heading to university that confirms it for me, as much as the fact that we share a friendship and mutual respect with each other; and somehow surprisingly we are family as well.

As they say, you can pick your friends, but not your family; however when you are sincere friends with your family, life can be immeasurably easier.  So thank you for making the second half of my life significantly easier, and happier than the first.

So finally, congratulations on stepping from one phase of your life, to the next. Embrace university with wonder and curiosity, and please never stop taking the time to share with me what it’s like. You are living a part of my dream for me, and as much as I would have liked to be you when I was your age, I am more than happy and proud that it is you who is the first.

Now’s your chance to create your own legacy, break any chains that you would like to break, and be your own woman.

With infinite love,