Morinville parent plans to offer Education Minister a cookie

Dear Editor

I believe our Provincial Government requires a reminder that the “Public” portion of a public school system includes all people; regardless of age, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, voting eligibility, and indeed, religion.

On Thursday, May 19, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. I will be on the steps of the Legislature Building bearing cookies made and decorated by my children to present to the Minister of Education on their behalf as a symbolic reminder that large portions of the public who our elected officials represent have no voice in government yet are indeed worthy of representation.

I will also bring 100 sealed boxes of assorted store bought cookies which is enough for each elected representative to have his or her own box for consumption. I will trust the Minister of Education to oversee distribution and they may thank him personally.

Residents of Morinville who wish to join in this public display of disapproval by providing their own cookie in the name of a child (First name and age only please) can send an e-mail to with contact information so your gift may be received for delivery.

Others both within, and outside of Morinville who may wish to be associated with this public statement can send their name to the same address and I will add it to a list to be presented to the Minister with his cookies.

Should the Minister, and through him, the caucus and assembly choose not to accept these “gifts” from the children and the public, and in so doing symbolically refute their responsibility to ALL children in the public education system, at 2 p.m. the children’s symbolic cookies will one by one be discarded and the name of the forsaken donor represented will be read aloud to the press. The sealed boxes will be donated to the food bank in the name of “The Politically Neglected Children of Morinville” also in front of any press who wish to attend.

I believe cookies are the perfect reminder for the Minister and the Provincial Government. When faced with difficult questions as to why some public school children of Morinville are not in their local public schools, and they feel they can’t answer without upsetting either a voting block or a political task master they can tell the press “Sorry, I can’t help these children; I am too busy eating my cookie”.

Thomas Kirsop
Morinville, Alberta

Editor’s note: Former Alberta Health Services head Dr. Stephen Duckett ran afoul of the public in November of 2010 for refusing to take reporters’ questions because he was eating a cookie. Duckett was subsequently released from his position.

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  1. Isn’t there a rule or something that prevents politicians from accepting ‘gifts’? Wouldn’t this just be setting the Minister of Education to look bad? Childish move, yet again…

  2. Mr. Kirsop’s actions are not childish, Melissa. They are symbolic and tie into a political reference of closed door politics and lack of transparency to the public by former President and CEO of Alberta Health Services Stephen Duckett. Mr. Kirsop is making a point. Public disclosure and Ministerial action is of the utmost importance in the issue of Public schools in Morinville. A sentiment that is shared by many.

  3. Why did Mr King not fix this problem when he was the Minister?
    Did he not have the power then?

  4. (News citation on gifts added)

    Generally the standard for gifts received in business is based on “nominal value”

    Each box of cookies was well under 5 dollars and as they are to be distributed by the Ministers office to ALL elected officials there is no favour intended or gained.

    Further, politicians as a matter of course receive gifts all the time as per this news story from the Calgary Herald.

    You are right in one thing though. If the Minister does not step up and publicly take responsibilty for ALL children in a public education system on May 19th it most certainly WILL look bad.

    Thats somewhat the point.

    Childish? well thats your opinion, you are welcome to it, and I won’t belittle it.


    Thomas Kirsop

  5. Bussing resident children out of town to receive a public inclusive education is religious segregation. It is unacceptable.

    Requiring our children to register as non-residents of another division and requiring us to forfeit our electoral rights to receive a public secular education makes a mockery of democracy. It is unacceptable.

    Requiring all public school students and parents to acknowledge and sign that Catholicism wholly permeates our children’s education without exception in our only guaranteed public school is unacceptable.

    Religious instruction is not mandatory. It is optional, as are Separate schools. There are no Separate schools in Morinville. I am pro-Public school education and I think Thomas Kirsop’s approach is excellent! The Morinville Parent Delegation has been saying ‘No Thank You’. Thomas Kirsop is saying ‘NO’.

  6. I probably should have foreseen the problem, but I didn’t. In the early ’80’s, Morinville had its own school district. It was not part of GSACRD. The Town was much smaller (pre superbase), Catholics were the majority, and no one asked me for any program other than the one provided by the Board of the day.

    Times change. Circumstances, understandings, and expectations change. We need to change.

  7. Melissa,

    MLAs can clearly accept gifts under a maximum amount. No doubt the value of a few cookies falls below a several hundred dollar threshold.

    I question whether this will make a difference but what I respect is a citizen that is taking real action with an issue he is passionate about. Our community would be a much better place if everyone did the same.

    I also like David Kings comments. Hindsight is a wonderful thing but the fact is Morinville has changed and will continue to change. We must respond to the issue now. If we dont, it will be back as the diversity of our community continues to increase.

  8. @ Melissa- what’s childish are comments like yours. If you would have come to the forum that was open to EVERYONE you may have learned a thing or two. Everyone should be educated in this issue so that you dont look like a discriminating predigest angry citizen. Saying no to letting others in the community have a proper secular school within Morinville is kinda like being a racist. I just dont get it. There is no personal gain for you weather my kids go to a public or catholic school so why so cruel?

    @Simmone- same thing…if you came to the forum that EVERYONE was invited to you would have been able to get those answers for yourself.A little education is always a good thing… We are not mean people, we do not bite or have horrible diseases.We are your neighbors, your kids friends parents, your dance teachers, your store clerks, your doctor’s,lawyer’s,soccer coaches…if we were such terrible people you would have moved out of this community along time ago.Just because we want a public school for our children does not make us bad people and i am sure you know many of us.

    What boggles my mind is that people actually think we want to “take over” the schools, “fire” all the staff.WRONG.It legally does not have to go down that way. If all goes well the staff can actually stay and continue teaching without the Catholic piece to it.


  9. Free Cookies!!! I’m in. Look, the best way to fix this problem is to overload the Namao school with kids from Morinville. Everyone who thinks is so awful to have their kids go to a Catholic school should decide what’s more important, getting to vote on a school board or a non religious education for their children? The way I see it, if you feel that strongly about the non religious benefit, then the right to vote on a school board should come second. I know the rule about having to live where you vote, but what’s more important? If there are enough people who do send their kids to Namao, the board would have no option then to fix this “HUGE” problem. It sucks, but majority wins, just ask Micheal Ignatieff!

    As well, we need to be careful how we teach our kids about respect for government and leadership. Let’s not be ignorant, or we’ll be the worse for it. Hatred breeds Hatred.


  10. Harvey;

    Just checked the e-mail, didn’t see your name there so I guess you are not “in”.

    You see it wrong. The issue isn’t about Catholocism. It’s about a PUBLIC school board that promotes one faith above and to the exclusion of all others. It’s about a PUBLIC school board that promotes that faith throughout the day, in every subject (Their words from the notice to parents on the registration form). It’s about a PUBLIC school board that acts in this manner regardless of parental consent or values in violation of the school act and the Alberta human rights act. That PUBLIC school board has said repeatedly they can not and indeed will not be responsible and indeed accomodating to any other faith outside of their own.

    Now the way I see it their views align with yours so let me help you understand why it’s wrong…

    Replace the word “Faith” in the above paragraph with any of the following words; RACE, ETHNIC ORIGIN, MALE, FEMALE, AGE, INCOME BRACKET, SEXUAL ORIENTATION.

    Bias, Segregation, and Bigotry in a public institution is not made any more “right” based on social acceptance or tolerance of the favoured party or organization.

    Political acceptance or allowance of such a standard in defference to a voting bloc also does not change the term applied or give it validity.

    Public is not just you.
    Public is not just me.
    Public is “We”

    All races,
    All ethnicities.
    All genders
    All incomes
    All Faiths (Including those of no recognized faith)

    All peoples.

    Catholocism does not now, nor has it ever had, a thing to do with it.
    Outside of the fact that in this case it was the favoured entity of the board.

    I’m still going on the 19th.


    Thomas Kirsop

  11. First off, thank you to both Thomas’ for clarifying rules on politicians receiving gifts. I apologize for not checking the facts.

    Secondly, @ Tina, I did not attend the forum because I did not feel it was worth my while. It would have been, if ‘the other side’ had attended, but they choose not to. I am sorry that my little comment made me look like a “discriminating predigest (I assume you mean prejudice) angry citizen”. I am not any one of those things. I will also clarify that I did not state in my comment that I am “saying no to letting others in the community have a proper secular school”. I’m not sure how you interpreted that at all. And my remarking about the childish move is also in reference to a letter that was given to the Town, Chamber, and published on this news site.

    The last thing I would like to state is that I wish everyone would stop assuming that those that are opposed to changing our current schools are Catholic. I AM NOT CATHOLIC. Quite the opposite, actually. I was baptised, reconciled, and confirmed in the Catholic church but abandoned that belief years ago. That doesn’t mean I don’t take value from the Catholic based things I learned about it school.

  12. Thomas,

    You did everything in your response to me except answer the question. What’s more important? That your kids get a non religious education or you not being able to vote on a school board? Your stand on the issue, if your kids still go to Morinville school, is clear. It’s obvious to me, your right to vote is more important, or is it the attention you’re getting??

  13. As I have previously stated. My children are enrolled in Namao next year.

    As I also have previously stated. As long as they must pass 4 public schools and town boundaries to recieve a public education free of bias, I’m going to keep pushing the issue.


    Thomas Kirsop

  14. Good for you, Thomas. I can not call you a hypocrite, but I will call everyone else who is bitchin about this who are not sending their kids to Namao or somewhere else hypocrites, and I know a lot of them.

  15. While this looks like a “religion” issue,it is not. It is a civil rights issue. If and when this distinction is more clearly communicated and understood, hopefully a fairer and more appropriate solution can be enacted. Equality for all.

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