Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Premier Jim Prentice has given himself a deadline

The third session of the 28th legislature will open with a throne speech Nov. 17, two weeks later than the original start date, the province announced Thursday.

A speech from the throne will set a new direction for the province, outlining its agenda and priorities. Prorogation kills any legislation left on the order paper, including a pair of controversial pension reform bills that became a flashpoint for criticism last spring. The province says it has no plans to bring the bills back before the house.

Prentice, who was sworn in as the province’s 16th premier earlier this week, will first have to run in a byelection if he’ll have a seat in the legislature when the fall sitting opens in less than two months.

To make that deadline, he has until Oct. 2 to call byelections for himself and two cabinet ministers — Stephen Mandel and Gordon Dirks — who are also without legislature seats.

A byelection race must last 28 days, followed by a legislated 10-day period that must be observed before race results are declared legal, and then another eight-day window to allow for appeals and recounts, Elections Alberta confirmed.

Asked Thursday when he plans to announce the byelections, Prentice said they will happen “imminently.”

Prentice has not indicated which riding he plans to run in, but he has said he would prefer to represent an area of northwest Calgary. That would require a sitting Progressive Conservative MLA to resign.

Mandel, appointed health minister, is expected to run in the Edmonton-Whitemud seat made vacant by Dave Hancock’s recent resignation. Dirks, the new education minister, is expected to run in Alison Redford’s former Calgary-Elbow seat.

The Tories opened nominations for both ridings this week, setting Oct. 1 as the nomination date for Calgary and Oct. 2 for Edmonton. Candidates have seven days to enter the race.

While the sitting will begin later than originally planned, Prentice said it will still last for the intended 20 days, meaning it should wrap up Dec. 18.

It remains unclear what legislation the government will tackle this fall. Prentice said Thursday that while the province will still pursue pension reforms, he hasn’t determined if fresh pension legislation could be introduced this fall.

“Anything that government does will begin anew, with a fresh start,” Prentice said.

Plans to overhaul public and private sector pension plans were met with a loud outcry from union and opposition critics during the last session. The government eventually relented by referring the bills to an all-party legislative committee for further study and consultations.

A report from the committee was due back at the start of the fall session. Prentice said that work has been suspended but added the government will consider the submissions in the future.

“I’m anxious to make sure that we look at those and that we draw whatever lessons are possible,” he said.

The province had proposed a series of changes they said would target four public sector plans’ combined unfunded liability of more than $7 billion. The changes would have replaced guaranteed cost of living adjustments with targeted ones, raised the early retirement threshold formula and would have introduced a contribution cap.

Alberta Union of Provincial Employees president Guy Smith said Thursday he was pleased the government killed the “toxic” pair of bills, calling the news a victory.

“We want to continue discussions about pensions. Obviously our goal is to have viable, sustainable pension plans for our members when they retire,” Smith said. “We’re also focusing on joint sponsorship, where we have more control over those plans without the political interference we’ve seen in the past.”

NDP Leader Brian Mason said he’s concerned about the potential for future reforms given Finance Minister Robin Campbell has been instructed by Prentice to address the competitiveness and sustainability of public pensions.

A bill that would have required developers be more transparent about condo fees also died as a result of prorogation.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Lets Go Victoria!!

I am currently in Victoria for the weekend, and it's been so far so good!!  It's so great that summer has finally arrived, and although I am studying every day, at least I get out for a couple hours and get to enjoy it!  I only have one more week left of biochemistry 300 at UBC.  So far it's gone really well - I've had 2 of 3 exams, and the final one is next Saturday evening!!

On Friday my dad met me at the ferry to pick up my backpack, and I rode the coastal route (2.5 hours) back to his house.  It was so nice to ride on the the island again, and the evenings with the sun going down is one of my favorite times to ride!  Yesterday I took a pretty chill day and just studied and went to the moss street market!  We picked up these lamb shanks which we cooked in my dad's SUN OVEN all afternoon (see above)!!  How cool is that??  Just with solar energy we were able to maintain a temperature of 300 degrees for about 4 hours!!  The meat was fall-off-the-bone delicious!

I then headed over to the track to see Marilyn run a 3km TT at a local track event.  The sun went down and it got SO cold that my friend Jess and I had watch the race from the car.  We just pulled up next to the track and rolled down our windows every lap to cheer!! I also got to see a bunch of great tri friends last night at Sharpe's bbq!  I got there just as people were starting to head out which was too bad, but at least I got to see everyone and catch up a little bit.  I'll have to be more organized the next time I come and actually plan to see people a bit better!

... just getting ready for bed and bringing my water with me (I think I have a drinking problem!)

Saturday, October 8, 2016

New Job!!

MOVING TO EDMONTON! Yes, that's right.. -40 degree winters here I come! Oh crap.. not sure what I've got myself in to haha :)  But aside from the cold winters, I am really excited about joining a research team at the University of Alberta in the field of Nutritional Epidemiology.   While volunteering in Africa I did 2 weeks research with two Nutritional Epidemiologists from Edmonton (total coincidence). Gita and Nonsi were hired as part of a diet study to do a dietary analysis in the rural Zulu communities surrounding the charity I was volunteering for.  Gita, my new boss, is an Endowed Chair in Aboriginal Health, and Professor of Aboriginal and Global Health Research at the University of Alberta, Department of Medicine.  Their main focus is studying and analyzing the diets in aboriginal communities (they have done a lot of work with the Inuit in Alaska and the Arctic) and developing countries, and connecting them to chronic disease prevalence.  I am very interested and passionate about both nutrition and health care, so to get this job offer was a dream come true! I will be moving/starting work in mid-September. 
Gita in South Africa
Gita, Nonsi and I on a hippo cruise.
 So what am I doing in the mean time?

Well.. today I woke up after 10.5 hours sleep and moved to the couch to watch some FOOD channel.  My 3 weeks summer holiday has officially begun.

Last Saturday I finished the biochem course I was taking at UBC.  Thank goodness it's over.. I swear it was making me stupider.  Some days after studying all day I would say the dumbest things.. and I started giggling a lot at things that weren't funny (kinda like I used to do everyday).  I think it must be a side-effect of doing a 6-credit (full-year) course in 6 weeks.

 I spent my first day of summer at Brohm Lake in Squamish with some friends... beer and burger and bbq equipped! I'll be sticking around BC until after the Gran Fondo on September 10th.  The Gran Fondo is a 130km road ride from Vancouver to Whistler.  2 weeks "crash training" started on Monday... so far so good! 

Oh and I'm in Victoria for 5 days.. so if you'd like to go for coffee, or a bike ride, or a run, or a beer?  I have copious amounts of free time and would probably love to see you... shoot me an email!

Friday, October 7, 2016

Blog Resurrection

Summer is coming (there have been signs!) and I’ve been surprising myself recently with my enthusiasm to swim, bike and run. For the first time in 18 months I have been enthusiastic to do workouts beyond what is required for healthy fitness. I never lost my desire to be fit; I guess I just lost my desire to “train”. That break from competitive sport took me places that have potentially shaped my future. I went to South Africa for 6 weeks and volunteered at a charity called Izulu Orphan Projects. I met amazing people during my time in South Africa, and surprisingly came home with a nutritional epidemiology research position in an Aboriginal and global health research group at the University of Alberta. The job has given me amazing opportunities to grow. I currently have one publication in press at the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, and recently traveled to the Arctic and Alaska!

In February of this year I ran my first two half marathons, two weeks apart. I didn’t exactly train properly for either, and the first one (the first half half in Vancouver) I signed up for the day before. My focus that weekend was on my medical school interview at UBC, but I still surprised myself with a comfortable 1.27 half-marathon time.

I feel very privileged to have been asked by Vega to continue on as an ambassador for 2012. I have been using their nutritional products (bars and sports drinks and protein powders) for the past 4-5 years, for sport performance, recovery, and healthy day-to-day snacks. Vega just came out with a new line of Vega Sport products. I recently received a sample box that included one of each of the new Sport products, and it has got me really excited. The new Sport products taste better than ever, and include products for pre-, during, and post-workout preparation, performance, and recovery. With the number of products that Vega has to offer, it can be overwhelming trying to understand the difference between them all, but I urge you to check out their newly designed website that does an amazing job at breaking down the products so they are easy to understand. I honestly am more excited than ever to be an ambassador for Vega because they are evolving and fine tuning and always striving to improve, which I believe is an essential component of success. I believe in the quality of the Vega products and they TASTE GOOD (yes Sharpe they do!)

I have a series of run races planned for the spring/summer of 2012 and I hope to keep updating my blog with race reports and stories of my adventures. Next weekend I am running the St. Albert 10 Miler, and then plan to run the Frank McNamara Wednesday evening cross-country run series that goes til mid-May. I have 3 half marathons on the radar for each June, July and August, and have REGISTERED for the Great White North half ironman on July 1st!!

Good to all those Canadians racing in Sydney next weekend!

Happy Easter =)

Thursday, October 6, 2016

2 races, 4 days..

On Sunday I ran a local 10-mile road race. Once again (I have to break this pattern) I signed up the weekend before, and did not do specific workouts leading into the race. I knew I was fit though, so I was hoping I could do a repeat of the First Half half marathon and hold a strong tempo pace throughout. My goal was to run consistent from start to finish, to hold my form, and to not go out too hard. Despite needing to eat my gel 10 minutes into the race, I succeeded. I tried the new Vega orange zest gel for the first time (I know your not supposed to try things for the first time in a race, but this was not exactly life or death). I have to say it’s the first time I’ve enjoyed a gel that isn’t chocolate. There were 4 girls jostling for position the whole race, and I yo-yoed between 2nd and 4th, and in the end finished in 3rd.  It’s funny - I’ve just been doing long easy runs all winter as well as strength work, and for the first time in my life I can push myself for 16+ km without breaking down physically or hitting the wall. I’m really enjoying my new ability to keep going and the strength I have.
After I finished I was on “mission recovery”. I knew I wanted to race a local cross-country race on Wednesday (my birthday). The only issue: on Monday my calves felt like rocks and I could barely walk. I try to do most of my running on trails, so to go out and run 10 miles hard on asphalt does not feel good the day after. I epsom salted like crazy though used copious amounts of muscle cream and was “okay” by Wednesday afternoon. Actually 90 minutes before the race I was more concerned about the massive vegan chocolate cupcake I had devoured coming back up, rather than the state of my legs. The girl who won the 10-miler was also racing XC so I just stuck on her shoulder right from the gun. I remember thinking at 2.5km (out of 4.5), “okay I can do this, only 2km to go,” only to come out of a trail and see that I was at the bottom of some massively steep and long dirt hill. I swore out loud (to the amusement of the guy next to me) and barely made it up the hill without walking (okay I walked a little bit :S). I finished the race in 2nd and was then very happy to head to Brewsters brew pub with some good friends for a raspberry ale and a burger with yam fries! It turned out to be a great birthday. Plus the Canucks won =)
The next races I have planned are 3 more local cross country races the next three Wednesday evenings, and then I plan to run (and maybe train better for) a half marathon on June 3rd!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

study, eat, work, eat, study, eat, run, sleep, repeat..

My life is a little bit busy right now, but that's the way I like it. I seem to function better and am happier when I barely have a moment to sit down. Maybe it's a sign I should take up meditation or reading or take a stroll on a beach and zen out a little bit, but then again that's what running does for me so at least I'm killing two birds with one stone (fitness and mental break/relaxation). Honestly, one of my favorite things is a long run listening to Rise Against on a nice sunny day.

Last weekend I ran a 15km trail/road race here in Edmonton. It was such a great morning, and the event was so much fun. It was put on by Running Room and the race organizers were SO nice, and organized. I didn't feel that I ran that well because I literally only had time for 2 runs all week (totaling 90 minutes), but I still managed to win by 10 minutes! The most unexpected reward was winning a free haircut and 90 minute acupuncture and massage! AWESOME!!

I have for the most part had to abandon swimming and biking for the summer to give myself enough time to study for the MCAT, which I will be re-writing in August. Yesterday I did get out for a 4 hour ride with a friend though, and surprisingly felt great the whole time. That was a nice feeling, because I only have time to ride once a week and I dearly miss my bike the other 6 days :(

This weekend I'll be racing the Canada Day 15km that starts downtown and loops around Hawrelak Park. I'm hoping to have the Vega reps come down to the finish as well so we can promote their amazing products among the running community in Edmonton.

My new routine involves going to the Saturday morning market every week and picking up fresh veggies and local bison. I'm making an effort to go back to the "primal" diet I love. My homemade granola, Vega smoothies and fresh local veg make it easy! I have to say Edmonton's growing on me, which is a good thing since I'll be sticking around for another year or more! woohoo!!

Sunday, September 4, 2016

My brain hurts

You know you've been studying too long when you can't remember your password to access your blog!!  Wow.

I'm sitting in Blenz trying to study, clearly unsuccessfully.  I wrote a 5.5 practice MCAT this morning though so maybe thinking I could study a few more hours today was a bit too optimistic.  The good news is that I did pretty well on the exam.  Actually I pretty much aced one section (biological sciences), but am still having difficulty finishing the physical sciences and verbal reasoning sections. I keep running out of time and it's killing me!   I only have 10 days until the exam so I am starting to freak out a little bit! I'll only do 2 more full length tests before the actual test day so I'm starting to feel the pressure.  It certainly didn't help when I checked my phone messages today and there was a message notifying me that my scheduled test date had been canceled!!  Talk about stress!  It all got sorted out though, they just moved my location from UVic to Camosun College.

So yes that means a visit to Victoria in the near future!

p.s. Blenz has the best hot chocolate EVER: melted belgian dark chocolate in steamed almond milk!! Best 5 bucks ever spent!