An Open Letter to Trudeau and Mulcair- Why am I so worthless?

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(Edited to add that as of October 24th, 2015 this letter had received 93,951 views and multiple incidence of hate mail – LINK for further post.)

Dear Justin Trudeau and Thomas Mulcair,

Why am I so worthless in your eyes? For weeks I have listened to election coverage and not only do your parties make me out to be worthless, not only do your parties offer me nothing, but you want to take away the mere meagre offerings the current government gives to our family.
Dear Mr. Trudeau and Mr. Mulcair, I am a stay-at-home mom and a work-at home mom. Our family has made sacrifices in order for our children to be actually raised and cared for by their parents rather than outsourced. We have put family first yet your parties see no value in this. When the Conservative government introduced the monthly Universal Child Care Benefit cheque, and included families like ours, we felt the government acknowledged the value stay-at-home parents provided to Canadian society. When the Conservative government introduced income splitting it was again proof that stay-at-home parents were a valuable asset. The Liberal and N.D.P. governments plan to strip these programs from us, the only programs that indicate stay-at-home parents are of any worth. We, the parents that have selflessly sacrificed everything for the well being of our families are worthless in your eyes.

Dear Mr. Trudeau and Mr. Mulcair, I am about to give you a tour of our life.

Our family is a family of seven, a mother, a father, and five children ranging in age from 5 to 17. We live in Red Deer, Alberta. We live in a 3 bedroom 1250 square foot house, it wasn’t always this size as it was originally 666 square feet in size. The house we bought for land value and spent years upon years renovating and adding onto the house; sweat equity. Sweat equity that has quadrupled the price of our house. We are hard workers. Our children share rooms. Our two oldest share an 8’x12′ room, while our youngest three share a 9×9.5′ room. We live modestly and compactly and within our means. We have stayed in a small home so that we could afford for one of the parents to stay home and raise and care for our own children. We believe if we choose to become parents we also choose to take on the responsibility to raise our own children and not outsource the responsibility.

I am also a work-at home mom. There are thousands upon thousands of work-at-home parents across Canada, we are a hidden and forgotten portion of the economy. Parents who work from home are making the best effort to bring in an income while raising children at the same time. The scope of stay-at-home parents is broad: dayhomes, music teachers, dance teachers, photographers, tutors, bookkeepers, hairdressers, crafters, growers, dog groomers…and the list goes on. We have no benefits, we often do not make anywhere near minimum wage, we work late into the night when children are sleeping, and we often receive little respect from society as they think we are working for “fun” or it’s a “hobby” or it is “good to keep your hand in your career”. The fact of the matter is we are working to support our families. We are often working for a pittance yet every five or ten dollars adds up. We are hard workers. Income splitting made this worthwhile. On our personal tax return we saw how financially worthless we were even though we were trying to do the impossible and run businesses and raise our own children at the same time, yet when income splitting was allowed we had some degree of value. The Liberals and N.D.P. parties want to strip us of this tiny value we can provide our family with at tax time.

I am now going to provide you with a couple of real numbers for what a work-at-home/stay-at-home parent makes. I run two home-based businesses, one is photography and one is naturally dyed hand-knits. Every so often you closely cost a job or two to see where the profit is and the viability of continuing with a product. A few years ago I did a costing on a large wedding package that I offered, and instead of just looking at the material costs I incurred compared to the price the customers paid, I also tracked every single hour involved in completing the job. The concept was to see what I was actually making if I were working for an employer rather than being self employed. Once all the calculations were completed, material costs, shooting, retouching, meetings, etc., I had made $3.00 an hour before tax on the job. But this wasn’t an isolated event. I recently did a tracking on a knit item that is popular in response to a 50% price increase overnight in material costs from my local supplier in Alberta , this happened shortly after the announcement of increased minimum wage from the Alberta N.D.P. government. The item I sell for $7.50 wholesale, the new material costs came in at $2.25, the item takes 1.5 hours to make and package, not including prep or dyeing time (impossible to calculate, too many variables). The outcome, I am making $3.50 per hour. (As an aside, my wool now comes from P.E.I., 25% the cost of Alberta wool including shipping, and beautiful quality.) My numbers are not out to lunch, I’ve actually run costings on Canadian Etsy sellers marvelling at how cheap they are selling their wares, they too are making a pittance. There are photographers in our area charging $5.00 sitting fees, again just trying to add to the family income. They are making a pittance trying to subsidize their family’s income while raising their children. Income splitting helped us, as did the Universal Child Care Benefit cheque. The Liberals and N.D.P want to strip us of this.

In the N.D.P. and Liberal’s eyes we are just lazy and decadent because we don’t “go out to work”. We are not “hard working Canadians”; we deserve nothing. The reality is stay-at-home parents make sacrifices to make it work all in the effort to raise the best Canadians possible. Families like ours learn to cutback to live within their budgets, have savings, or work towards a better future.

A few years ago we decided that investment in a property was going to give us a better financial return than the interest rate of G.I.C.’s , R.R.S.P.’s or Savings Bonds. We crunched the numbers and decided to make it work we had to make changes. We got rid of our second vehicle, subscriptions like XM radio and extra TV channels, our landline, hockey tickets and activities. I hunted for cheaper website hosting and went with a less expensive yellow pages ad. We started going to the swimming pool that is $10.00 per family instead of $20.00, and stopped going to sit down restaurants. We cutback to be able to make an investment for our future. We are not unique. There are many families with stay-at-home parents that make sacrifices to be able to raise their own families and have a secure future. Income splitting and the Universal Child Care Benefit cheque both acknowledge that we, the stay-at-home parent and work-at-home parent have some value.

Dear Mr. Trudeau and Mr. Mulcair, have you ever thought about the other value the stay-at-home parent provides to society? Let me list a few:

1) We are the ones at the school when they need volunteers . We go on field trips, help with track meets, tie skates, help with swimming, and aid with school lunches.

2) We are the ones that will keep the children home from school when they are sick. Our kids are not infecting a whole class of children and this inevitably saves on healthcare dollars in the long run.

3) We have the time to feed our children well, we have time to cook from scratch, and some of us even grow our own food. We have the time to invest in the well being of our children and combat child obesity. Again we are lessening the strain on healthcare dollars.

4) Many of us choose to transport our children to school personally, we like the safety aspect and we have the time to do so. We are saving the school systems money allocated for busing children to and from school.

5) We do not have “latch-key” children roaming the streets and falling under bad influences . This will inevitably save on healthcare dollars plus dollars spent on the criminal system long term. I think you will find many stay-at-home parents were “latch key” kids themselves, they realize how damaging the lack of parental involvement and supervision was, how badly things could have gone, and they want better for their own children.

In closing, Dear Mr. Trudeau and Mr. Mulcair;

Could you please tell me why you think I am so worthless?

Could you please tell me why those who go out to work are the only ones that matter?

Why are you penalizing me for putting my family first?

Why are you penalizing me for making sacrifices so that I can take care of my family ?

Why is a mom who goes out to work to pay for a McMansion of more value than a mother that chooses to raise and care for her very own children?

Dear Mr. Trudeau and Mr. Mulcair, what could your parties possibly do for me other than strip me of the little I gain from any government program?

*** Edited on September 30th, 2015 to add: 

As a side note, readers may be interested to know for 7 years I worked outside the home and utilized childcare. I have seen the situation from both sides and realize just how important it is for parents to be there for their children. As a child I was a latch key kid, my mom was a teacher, at age 9 you were given the key to the house and you were on your own. It was a negative experience with lasting effects.

Our children deserve the best start to their lives, and that is spending a maximum amount of time with one of their parents. Parenting does not stop when a child enters school, if anything a child’s life becomes more complex as they age and experience outside influences. When we choose to have a child we should also be making a choice to parent our children, nurture our children and be accessible to our children. No government institution can replace the experience that a parent can give a child. If we as a society no longer value hands on parenting, we have simply turned the female population into breeders. I personally want to live in a society formed by parents, rather than one of breeders and state institutions raising our children.

*** Edited on October 1, 2015 to add a follow up link regarding a dark response to my letter:

**** Edited on October 1, 2015 to add: you know you’ve arrived when a Mulcair-Trudeau fan boy rats you out to police. Link:


Sometimes Good Things Happen – Red Deer, Alberta, Canada

A long time ago I wrote a blog post regarding the skating rink, or lack there of, in our neighborhood. Long time readers of the blog may remember how I wrote of how our little historic neighborhood, in the heart of Red Deer, had been stripped of our little outdoor rink, the resulting fuss that the community raised, the newspaper interviews, the television coverage, and in the end, the return of a snow bank rink.

Well today a wonderful thing happened. I drove past the park where the rink was last winter and believe it or not the rink was up WITH BOARDS! Now this is huge. We get our rink again and we get END BOARDS.

Woodlea skating rink on October 20, 2013. All ready for winter to come.

Woodlea skating rink on October 20, 2013. All ready for winter to come.

Now anyone reading this in a country that doesn’t succumb to snow and ice for at least six months of the year may not understand how momentous this is, but for our neighborhood this is a great thing. Our kids get to skate within blocks of home any time they wish. The boys can now play hockey and when they shoot at the goal and miss (which happens 99.999999% of the time!) the puck will hit the backboard and bounce back instead of burying itself in a snow bank never to be found. Hide and seek is a fun game but not when it involves looking for a puck in snow that is three feet deep, especially when all the direction you get from your little hockey players is “I think it went somewhere over there Mom! Or was it over there.” And trust me, an orange puck doesn’t make it any easier……..we tried that too.

woodlea skating rink

A local school group skating one afternoon at the Woodlea skating rink in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada.

Our little skating rink is great for our neighborhood, but it is also great for the schools in our area that draw students from throughout the city. Last year on several occasions I encountered different schools using this park area. They skated and tobogganed. It was great to see.

The City of Red Deer has done a great thing re-installing our rink. I was happy with the snow bank rink last year, but having actual boards is going to make for a great winter for those who love to shoot a puck.

A big “THANK YOU” to those who made the decision to return the rink to our neighborhood. We really appreciate it. It is going to be a great winter.

Ghettos, Illiteracy and Unenforced Bylaws – A Story of Red Deer, Alberta

Once upon a time, long long ago and far far away there was a beautiful kingdom……………………………………

Mackenzie Trails, Red Deer, Alberta

(Hmm, that doesn’t sound right. Lets try it again!)

One gentle and pleasant summer evening I was having a picnic at Mackenzie Ponds, a lovely natural area in Red Deer, Alberta. Our family was gathered together, watermelon was nibbled on, children played on the playground and conversation was enjoyed. The conversation turned to the topic of my blog, and more particularly the situation discussed in this piece (for those interested it was deferred for more consideration……also updated land use bylaws to come).After a little bit of talk my more recent posting, Red Deer, Alberta – Tin Can Ghetto of Canada, came up as I chatted with my mother.

tin can ghetto at the memorial centre, red deer, alberta

tin can ghetto at the memorial centre, red deer, alberta

Here is how the discussion went as we leaned against the hood of the mini van. My mother first couldn’t believe the number of RV’s parked in the Memorial Centre parking lot. Then she couldn’t believe the police’s attitude on the phone of this is why the RV’s are there and that is that. Then the conversation turned to “Do you find you always get nowhere with bylaws? I never have any luck.” My mother goes on to tell me how they have a fortress-like fence, of extreme height, between their property and their neighbor. The height does not comply with the standards set out by the City of Red Deer. They have complained to bylaws about the monstrosity and have had no follow up. And so they live in the shadow of “the wall”.

I do have to agree with her. Every call we make, bylaws or police, it is like you get a shrug back in return. Our garage gets broken into twice in two months, things stolen….shrug. You report a vehicle that was suspicious and we were treated like the criminal (by the way the vehicle WAS STOLEN). We called about a group of people who had jumped into our freshly poured 10 foot deep foundation in the middle of the night (okay, clearly trespassing, clearly dangerous, and clearly we weren’t going out there to deal with it) and no response. You get the feeling. This is probably why we haven’t called the police to tell them about the drug dealing going on around the corner from us. Here are the details if anyone cares. The deals are going down in Coronation Park, by and on the bridge and along the west side (our neighbors get to watch this from their living room window). They are doing them on foot and on bike. If the “customer” is in a car they often idle beside our house for 5-10 minutes waiting to see someone at the bottom of the block and then they drive off to do business. That’s the gig. But there is no point in calling it in because we will get nowhere.

(By the way have you seen this? It says “Below are some of the most commonly requested bylaws of The City of Red Deer:” Not ALL the bylaws, but  SOME. If you want to know ALL the bylaws you can pick up a hard copy at the City of Red Deer Legislative Services office in City Hall. Logical. We all know most bylaw infractions occur Monday to Friday during business hours, with tons of time to drive downtown, park, get the required hard copy, then report the incident. Checking it out on line is much more inconvenient………feel free to shake your head now.)

 But let’s get back to the story.

bylaw sign in the Walmart parking lot with rv's parked in the background

bylaw sign in the Walmart parking lot with rv’s camped in the background

My mother then mentions that she saw a sign regarding a city bylaw and RV’s in Wal-Mart’s parking lot in the south end. This was interesting. Okay this was VERY, VERY INTERESTING. This warranted checking out. (Okay, isn’t it interesting that I am more interested in checking out a bylaw situation than the people that are actually PAID to do it!?…….just saying!)

Okay here is the sign:

bylaw sign 1Pretty straightforward. You could argue perhaps these “campers” are illiterate….BUT……there are also pictures……so that is probably not the scenario. What the scenario is that these RV owners are blatantly defying the bylaw.

Here is a selection of images from September 2nd, 2013 of the Wal-Mart South parking lot. These are the ones taken BEFORE I went in shopping:

walmart rvs 2 walmart rvs 3 walmart rvs 6 walmart rvs 1

So I bought a steam mop, 4 packs of socks (my answer to not matching socks the night before school starts….best $20 anyone can spend!), 5 reusable drink containers, 4 litres of milk, 2 loaves of bread and a head of lettuce. I am a slow shopper (I hate shopping….okay except for art stores and hardware stores). Doesn’t this give you a great insight into my existence.

Much, much later I emerged from the store to find a darkened sky. For argument’s sake I decided to take a second tour through the “RV park” just in case I was wrong. Well….I wasn’t.

Fancy a look? Here are the pics:

walmart rvs 5 walmart rvs 4 walmart rvs 7

The vehicles were still there. Clearly parked for the night. Clearly in violation of the bylaw. However the situation becomes much more interesting when you look more closely at what is going on.

Take a peek………

dude chilling camped in walmart parking lot in red deer alberta cWay up close you see a gentleman chilling for the evening on the stoop of his RV. This is where he was spending his evening. he wasn’t in Wal-Mart shopping, he wasn’t getting ready to drive off, he is sitting on his stoop watching the patrons of Wal-Mart. Creepy. Could you imagine what would happen if I set up my tent in the middle of the Wal-Mart parking lot for the night and pulled out my lawn chair to sit and gawk at the shoppers coming and going? Same thing. (well except that I would actually be camping… a real tent…..just saying)

And then we have this picture………

walmart rvs 3 detailI have highlighted a few points of interest. First the unit is unhooked from the vehicle and up on a block as the sun sets. This unit is not being moved for the night. This unit is “camping”. Not only are they comfortably parked for at least the night, this unit is also using a Wal-Mart shopping cart as their very own personal garbage bin. This makes you wonder if this is perhaps a very permanent living situation. One would have to be occupying an area for a reasonable amount of time to come up with a solution for garbage. This RV is not parked for a shopping trip into Walmart….obviously….it has no pulling vehicle attached.

Another interesting thing about this image is it highlights the locale of the situation. This is not a hidden location. Taylor Drive runs along the west side of where the RV’s are parked. Taylor Drive will have multiple police cars drive along it day and night and yet this impromptu RV campground is conveniently not seen by the authorities. I have been to Wal-Mart when police have been tending to a shoplifting incident, yet again the RV parking is remarkably invisible. I am pretty sure on occasion bylaw and police officers shop at Wal-Mart for personal reasons and still this RV parking lot is off the radar.

On the other side of the coin, this activity is happening on Wal-Mart’s property. If they are not reporting the offense they are then condoning the offense. If Wal-Mart is not calling bylaws EVERY SINGLE NIGHT they should be held responsible for the infraction. It is their responsibility to ensure that their property conforms with bylaws, bylaws that are in place for the protection of the citizens of Red Deer. If Walmart lets this happen they are saying “who cares” about the bylaws, they are saying “who cares” about the citizens, and are in fact proving that they are just a money grabbing mega-corporation. Well they are letting this happen… there you have it. Well done Wal-Mart.

So I would like to just reminisce back to my blog post with regards to the RV’s set up in the neighborhood of Waskasoo. Perhaps that post came off as a “not in my backyard” post, but in fact it was closer to a 100+ backyards than my own (an alley width in several cases). I originally wrote the post because I saw the situation as a slippery slope; that any flat paved surface could be turned into a transient housing project. I also wrote the original post in response to the attitude that we received from the police. I am sorry there is no way they would let 50 tents set up in that parking lot, there is no way they would have let 50 bikers camp out in that parking lot, but because they were “square dancers” they turned a blind eye.

My fear of “the slippery slope” was confirmed tonight.  Any flat surface in this city can and is being turned into a transient ghetto of RV’s and NOTHING IS BEING DONE TO STOP IT………..even when there is a sign posted in the very parking lot they are using.

Happy ending? Not really. Bylaws not being enforced…..this is a problem.