Month: May 2017

A new vision and slogan for Edmonton needs applause – June 15 UPTAIT: 6:15 a.m.


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My Edmonton Sun June  15 column with a suggestion for a new slogan


From last week..

My friend

A song from 1978 as been playing in my head, cueing up Tuesday afternoon when official word trickled out of Edmonton City Council the City of Champions signs were not going back up on Edmonton’s outskirts.
I respect and honour the citizens we have, and their unselfish acts of helping, donating, volunteering and so many more gestures — so very kind gestures — that uplift our community to thrive.
Yet, I have never been in favour of bringing the City of Champions signs back.
For me, personally, it has changed my way of thinking.
I’ve been accused by family and friends of living in the past. Many times I’ve re-hashed the same story, over and over again, of a wonderful time in my life. “We’ve heard that 800 times before,” my wife would pipe up. “Quit living in the past.”
I did that because I wanted to re-live that moment … to, somehow, try get it.
About a year ago, a fellow Christian friend of mine — who knows my tendency to re-cycle old stories — suggested a great passage from scripture.

This city, this community, will always have champions in it.
The phrase City of Champions was coined in the 1980’s when Edmontonians were treated to unprecedented championships from our professional sports teams, Oilers, Eskimos, Trappers. Moreover, countless other amateur teams celebrated championships.
Then, the unthinkable happened: May 31, 1987. The tornado that ripped through Edmonton, causing deaths and damage. Edmontonians, true to tradition, came together like never before.
To comfort.
To support.
To love.
That profound chapter of our city’s history will be forever underscored, reminding us of what ilk of people call Edmonton home.
I am not, in any way, disrespecting that. Nor am I saying it isn’t important.
It is.
But time does march on. A great newspaper man once told me: “The key in this business is to keep re-inventing yourself.” Such a statement doesn’t just apply to professional ploys, but, alas, personal potential.
With city council’s 7-5 vote to keep the signs down is a crystal clear indication they endorse the notion of Edmonton coming up with a new slogan to embrace new times, new trends, new achievements and — do I dare suggest? — new champions.
Clinging to past times of happiness, joy and celebrations is human nature. We wish the good times in our lives would, somehow, magically last forever, and all the rough waters would never start to flow.
Life doesn’t roll that way. It changes.
So do cities … and their need to promote their new persona.

And that song from ’78?


My latest Edmonton Sun column



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The last straw … worked!

GeorgeAndrews_rdax_170x202George Andrews stood in front of me Wednesday evening, smack in the middle of Ernest’s Dining Room at NAIT before a recent awards ceremony with two straws. One in his left hand, and one in his right.
“Here,” said George, a good friend since the mid-90’s when he came to Edmonton to work for the United Way of the Capital Region. “Try this one first.”
A little background: I live with cerebral palsy and can’t hold a glass to my mouth. So, when I have a drink — even of the alcoholic variety — I require a straw to enjoy a liquid refreshment.
George handed me the straw he was clutching in his right hand. My most capable assistant Alysson, otherwise known as Mrs. Wonderful, put the straw in my bubbling champagne. I took a big sip: I was thirsty.
I got nothing … but air. George started laughing. And then, so did I.
“You thoughtI forgot, eh?” he asked. “Well, I didn’t.”
Then, he handed me the straw in his left hand. It worked, and as we sipped champagne, we reminisced.
George, now the vice-president of external relations and chief development officer at NAIT, is a big fan of Rick Hansen. When I shared with him that I covered the Man In Motion World Tour for five months between August 1986 and May 1987, he was eager to hear a few stories. One, in particular, centred around Glenn de Goeij the RCMP member who escorted Rick through Alberta. Glenn is quite the prankster. When the tour hit Edmonton, he tour crew and Glenn and his beautiful wife Kong went for dinner at the old Italian Gardens downtown.
I ordered a beer. Glenn asked for two straws for me and I thought he was being thoughtful. Think again.
Glenn poked a hole in one of them. Air! That’s all I got while Glenn bent over in laughter. And, that became standing joke for the rest of the tour.
I told George the story and forgot about it until Wednesday night. He poked a hole in my straw.
After a good visit, he put his hand on my shoulder and posed a great question: “What are friends for?”

Delivered by wheelchair express to Ric McIver

Dr. Mr. McIver:

I’m writing you today to encourage you to think about using different words when you talk about people with disabilities. It’s a common thing countless people do, and please understand: I am not criticizing.

I am making a suggestion.

I had a busy last few weeks, following the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

So I missed reading your comments in “Your Quary Park Riverbend” when you made reference to the NDP’s latest provincial budget — specifically, Albertans with disabilities. Sources are claiming you called health care for people with disabilities as “giveaways.”



I have heard frequently in hockey playoffs, when a team carelessly turned the puck over to to other team.


We also know them as fun activities for a business to garner more business: free T-shirts, hot dogs and even dream vacations come to mind.

But giveaways and health care? For Albertans with disabilities?

Let’s look at this.

Now, before I go on, I’d like to share with you I have cerebral palsy, use a wheelchair and am brushing my sixth decade as an Albertan. I’ve been able to be a husband, father, and grandfather. With supports, both for personal assistants and equipment, I have been able to support my family, and I hope to do so for many years to come.

With all due respect, sir, I don’t see them as giveaways. Rather, I see them, as well as health-related issues, I l view them as investments: because the province has invested in me, I continue to be a taxpayer.

Not a tax recipient.

Too often we view financial resources allocated to any minority group — and, there are far too many to mention — as burdens, and costs and … well, in your case, Mr. McIver, giveaways.

Now, I also appreciate and respect you are a member of the official opposition. Your very role, I think, is to raise issues and challenge them.

I understand that.

But I also encourage you to embrace every opportunity you have to promote, not only Albertans with disabilities, but every Albertan so we be the best we can … and, reach our full potential.

Using the word giveaways, in my way of thinking, shouldn’t be used.

And, if you would like to discuss this further, I’d be more than happy to meet you in person.

I get assistance from my personal assistants to get dressed. I will ensure I am dressed appropriately and, in my Mother’s words, wouldn’t want to leave anything to the imagination.

You see, I don’t believe in giveways.

All the best





Can you believe it’s been 30 years this week for Rick Hansen?

Remember this on May 22, 1987, barely an hour after he rolled into Oakridge Shopping Mall in Vancouver.



I was so very fortunate to cover Rick’s Man in Motion World Tour for four months for the Edmonton Journal.  Watch for a few memories coming right here, including a tale about a pair of Rick’s gloves.

Rick and Cam in Newfoundland in August, 1987


(You  can read more on my wonderful experiences with Rick in our book, Disabled? Hell No! I’m a Sit-Down Comic)