Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann statement on the BC Provincial Election

Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann issued the following statement on the results of the British Columbia provincial election:

“While many votes remain to be counted and many decisions remain to be made, I want to extend my congratulations to Premier Christy Clark for her victory last night. This has been an exciting election and I, like many Albertans, will be watching closely in the weeks ahead.

“As close neighbours and partners in Confederation, our two provinces have many shared interests – as well as points of difference. I encourage the incoming Premier to work with our government to resolve these differences to our mutual benefit, and look forward to our shared prosperity in the coming years.”

Statement: One-year anniversary of the Fort McMurray wildfire

Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann released the following statement on the one-year anniversary of the Fort McMurray wildfire:

“On this day in 2016, Albertans watched in horror as Fort McMurray was engulfed by a wildfire of apocalyptic proportions. With staggering speed, a small wildfire on the banks of Horse River quickly evolved into the ‘Beast,’ which pounced on the city shortly thereafter.

“Yet through a haze of smoke and flame, Albertans witnessed a miracle. Along a single highway, the flames beating at their backs, almost 90,000 people escaped the city. The incredible heroism of our first responders saved Fort McMurray’s vital infrastructure and thousands of lives.

“One year later, the difficult task of rebuilding continues. We must remember, however, that we need to rebuild more than homes and infrastructure – we must also work to rebuild the mental health and well-being of the residents of Fort McMurray.

“The symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder can surface suddenly or emerge long after the trauma has occurred. Today, many continue to struggle with the aftereffects of the fire.

“Albertans are strong, but the strong also suffer. It is not weakness to struggle with mental health; rather, it takes great courage to ask for help managing that struggle.

“I want to remind those who are still suffering from the devastating effects of the wildfire in Fort McMurray that they are not alone. I stand with you together with all your fellow Albertans.”

Dr. David Swann statement on Mental Health Week

Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann released the following statement to mark Mental Health Week.

“The theme for this year’s Mental Health Week is ‘Sick of Waiting: Get Loud for Mental Health.’ Across the country, Canadians are calling for earlier intervention for those in distress, and action on the long waits for mental health care.

“Mental health is a critical part of our overall health, and must be properly planned and funded in our health system. At present there are still too many barriers to treatment, and too many people are unable to afford critical counselling and psychological help.

“This is also a deep concern when discussing our management of the ongoing opiate overdose crisis, which is now claiming two lives every day and cries out for focused leadership and a coordinated plan. It is unacceptable that we have few, if any, after-hours treatment facilities, leaving few alternatives to those trying to get help after hours.

“At the end of the day, however, the stigma surrounding mental health issues remains the greatest barrier to treatment. We are all responsible for making it easier for people to reach out for help, and avoid unhealthy options like drug abuse to address the pain.

Each of us can play a critical role as we reach out to offer support and speak out for better mental health services, so those who are suffering know they are not alone and that help is available.

David Swann statement on National Day of Mourning

Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann released the following statement on the National Day of Mourning:

“Today we take the time to remember and to mourn those who have suffered injury or death while on the job.

“I am deeply saddened that this past year has seen an increase in workplace injuries over the previous. This trend simply cannot continue, especially given that many of these incidences are preventable.

“This is the second National Day of Mourning since WCB coverage was extended to farm workers and Occupational Health and Safety inspections were permitted on farms, and the first year that paid farm worker deaths were included in WCB statistics.

“While these basic legal protections were long overdue, they are no substitute for safe worksites that allow workers to do their jobs without fear of harm.

“It is my sincere hope that, by remembering the loss of these loved ones, we strengthen our commitment to building a safe work environment.

“I urge all employers and workers alike to strive to create a culture of safety. Our first priority should be ensuring the well-being of every Alberta worker, so that, at the end of the workday, they return home safe and healthy.”

David Swann statement on Earth Day

Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann released the following statement for Earth Day:

“No matter who we are, or where we live, we all depend on our planet for the air, water, and soil to give us life. We have a solemn duty not only to ourselves, but to all humanity, to preserve and protect it.

“Today the greatest threat to our planet is intensifying climate change, caused by human activity. While there has been much discussion about government’s role in combating this issue, we must remember that the true power to create lasting and meaningful change lies with us.

“When joined together, all of our individual lifestyle changes can have an enormous impact. By committing ourselves to conservation, energy efficiency, and reduced pollution and waste, we help lower the cumulative effects of human activity on the environment – and therefore the destructive consequences of climate change.

“This Earth Day, I urge every Albertan to reflect on how we can give back to the planet. The Earth, and all the life it makes possible, is precious. Let us ensure it flourishes for generations to come.”

David Swann statement on Yom HaShoah

Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann made the following statement on the floor of the Legislature for Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day:

“This coming Sunday marks Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day.

“Today we stand in the Legislature to remember the millions of Jewish women, children, and men brutally murdered by the Nazi regime. Their only crime was being what Adolf Hitler and his government hated and feared: different. Because of their religion, ethnicity, or sexual orientation, they deviated from the Nazi ideal of a pure Aryan nation, and so were exterminated.

“The full official name of Yom HaShoah translates to “Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day.”

“While we remember humanity at its darkest, and mourn those lost, we also acknowledge the incredible strength of the human spirit.

“Opposition to the Nazi regime took incredible courage. Many lost their lives. Nevertheless, resistance was widespread. Once-ordinary men and women became heroes as they fought back in countless ways. Their bravery gave others a glimmer of hope – a candle in the darkness.

“As the Holocaust fades into the past, we risk forgetting the consequences of not being vigilant against racism, hatred, and genocide in all its forms, and that we must be prepared to act when we see evidence anywhere, anytime, across our world.

“‘Never again’ is more than a hope – it’s a promise to act.

“When we say these words, we promise that we will follow the example of those who stood up and resisted, to fight to ensure that the horrors of the Holocaust are never repeated.”

David Swann statement on the 100th anniversary of Vimy Ridge

Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann made the following statement in the Legislature today to mark the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge:

“On this day, 100 years ago, a great battle of triumph and tragedy was raging on Vimy Ridge.

“I am honoured today to rise in this democratically-elected Assembly and to be able speak freely about these brave men and women, about the survivors and their families, and pay tribute to the fallen.

“Indeed, this is one of the gifts these courageous warriors gave to all of us here – not just freedom from oppression and tyranny, but the freedom to exercise our rights of self-determination and recognition of our inalienable human rights

“The price they paid was high. So many of them were killed that an entire generation was lost. Vimy Ridge remains the single bloodiest battle Canadians have ever fought, with about 3,600 lives being laid down on the fields of France.

“It was a defining moment both in terms of the Great War as well as the birthing of this great nation, Canada.

“It fills us with patriotic pride to remember the victory that was wrought on Vimy Ridge, but it also reminds us of the preciousness of life, the duty of public service, and the eternal vigilance required to protect our rights and freedoms, and the rule of law.

“Finally, I would be amiss if I did not speak about the unspeakable horror of war and the need for each of us, always and everywhere, to work to create the conditions for peace.

“The average age of Canadian soldiers in WWI was 26. The oldest was 80 and the youngest reportedly just 10 years old.

“What they were to experience in those foreign fields was unimaginable for their young minds. While many lives were lost on Vimy Ridge, many more were forever changed.

“Those who did not die had been surrounded by death and terror on a daily basis. Unrelenting physical, emotional, and spiritual trauma was their lot.

“When they returned home, they were enthusiastically welcomed by a truly grateful nation, but how could anyone who had not experienced such devastation begin to understand the effect it would have on the survivors and their families?

“This was a time when study of mental health, and particularly the lasting effects of trauma, was in its infancy. To be a ‘man’ often meant – and still means – maintaining a bravado of strength, refusing to ask for help, and suffering in silence.

“Many, if not all, of those returning from the battle field agonized under the torment of post-traumatic illness. Too often, this led to mental illness, alcoholism, drug abuse, and family violence.

“Although the guns had gone quiet, there was still a war raging in their minds, reverberating through their family members, and a different kind of peace that remained to be won.

“Our understanding of this disorder has come a long way since then, but there are hills we have yet to climb together. More needs to be done to support our brave service men, women, and families who face the devastation of war.

“We need to end the stigma, and make it clear that admitting mental illness does not make us weak. In fact, it takes incredible strength. And, bravery comes in many forms.

“And above all else, let us earnestly work in this House and in our communities to preserve the peace through respectful discourse, reducing inequality and justice for all; remembering the peace that was purchased at such a high price.”

David Swann Statement on World Health Day

Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann released the following statement to mark World Health Day:

“The theme for this year’s World Health Day is depression. All of us have a friend or family member who has struggled with this illness – or may even be in the midst of it right now. Scared of being shunned or dismissed, too often they suffer alone and in secret.

“In the past, I have spoken out about my own experience with depression, and today I encourage those with similar experiences to do the same. As well, have the courage to reach out to those showing signs of distress, and offer your support; that is what community is all about. On this World Health Day, let’s promote mental health by breaking down the stigma surrounding it, so that those who are suffering can seek help without shame.”

David Swann statement on World Water Day

Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann released the following statement in honour of World Water Day:

“Without water, earth cannot support life. This World Water Day we remind ourselves of this fact, and commit to fighting for clean water.

“Here in Alberta, I have long been an advocate for defending our water supply. In particular, our lifeblood comes out of the mountains through the Eastern Slopes, supplying southern Alberta with vital water for drinking and agriculture.

“I was pleased to see today’s government announcement of grants for watershed planning and advisory councils. However, we still lack a comprehensive, long-term plan to protect our water from careless industrial, recreational, and agricultural activities, including clearcutting and poorly managed gravel mining. Given the current challenges of climate change, this should be a priority for any responsible government. It is simply too important to ignore.”