The Briefing Note 03/04/24

The Briefing Note 03/04/24

 A Note from Madame Premier's Sarah Elder
This morning someone I know shared a video of a little girl on a rollercoaster yelling "I want to get off!" and it hit a nerve.
As a small business owner, I started to notice a downturn in the economy last summer. In the same that farmers coming off a bad year of crops have eternal optimism that things will turn around and that next year will be better, many small business owners including myself are in the same position of hoping things will turn around. I'm seeing small businesses in Calgary, Edmonton and literally around the world announce their closing for very familiar reasons: the cost of rent, interest rates, inflation, the increased cost of literally everything in the face of declining sales to pay bills. It's likely all of this sounds familiar and that's because you're facing the same cost pressures at home. I see it at the grocery store where a basket of groceries seems to cost double what it did before the start of the pandemic. I know you see it and feel it too.
In 2020, 2021 and even 2022, a lot of us started to turn to Amazon not only because it was convenient but because it allowed a very important measure of safety dealing with an invisible and indiscriminate airborne virus. That along with the lure of free shipping, free returns and lower pricing compared to what small businesses can offer has led people away from main streets and to record profits for already massive retailers. Now please don't misunderstand this as being anti-big business because I'm not. I also sometimes shop on Amazon and big-box stores. But from my view as a small business on a main street, I am watching the decline of small businesses of all sorts from indoor bike parks, restaurants to small retailers just like me. And I'm also watching in realtime as these spaces are being taken over by chain fast food restaurants, vape shops and liquor stores. Again, it's not that I am anti any of these businesses but I think that communities appreciate and value a balanced variety on their main streets that offer incredibly unique spaces where their kids can sit down with a book while their parents chat and it does seem like everyone knows your name. This shouldn't be a quaint dream depicted only in a Netflix drama. But it sure looks like that's where we are headed.
But what can you do about it? Consider where and how you shop like the way we eat a nutritionally balanced meal. Make sure that supporting small businesses are a portion of your plate and that massive corporations aren't the only thing you're eating. Encourage your local politicians to use their platforms to share where they shop in the community. Go for a walk in an area that you don't normally visit and just see what's new so you can tell your friends about what you've discovered. Use your own social media platforms to share where you love to visit. Your support of small business doesn't always need to mean spending money because even just sharing what you love about your favourite small businesses with your networks can mean someone who doesn't know about that spot will discover it and maybe they will find something they love and can only get there.
I don't want to say much more about this here because I know that the affordability crisis touches each and every one of us but what small businesses don't need is for people and communities to care about small businesses and main streets only after shops close and the character of their neighbourhood changes. Care and show up before so that it doesn't happen.

What Madame Premier is Listening To

At the intersection of pop culture and foreign interference, Who Trolled Amber? is my #1 must-listen. Host Alexi Mostrous takes you on a journey of deciphering the who, what, who, when and why of the online abuse of Amber Heard during the defamation trial brought against her by her ex-husband Johnny Depp.

For my fellow parents, if you haven't heard of parent whisperer Dr. Becky Kennedy, consider this your introduction. Her insights and advice for parents of what she calls "deeply feeling kids" are things I use myself with my own kids. I've even read and own her book. She has a subscription through her platform but Kennedy shares a lot for free on Instagram and in her podcast. You won't be disappointed because she never makes you feel ashamed and shares how hard parenting is with her own kids as well.

If you haven't heard Beyonce's new album Cowboy Carter, go find it right now. My favourite songs in no particular order are Bodyguard, II Most Wanted with is a duet with Miley Cyrus and Just for Fun. And for some reason, I also can't stop listening to the song More Than a Feeling by Boston. Strange, I know but there's a reason why it's a classic.

What Madame Premier is Reading

Instagram has rolled out a major change about what you see in your feed and you probably don’t know about it but this series is the changes they’ve made and what you can do about it.

Instagram has failed to police bad actors in the political content sphere and instead of managing those complex issues, they are limiting all political content related to governments, elections and social issues. This extremely broad net captures everyone from political parties, politicians, political commentary, pundits and even Madame Premier.

Accounts that create thoughtful, responsible and accurate political content should be encouraged, not lumped in with undemocratic bad actors that seek to create and distribute mis- and dis-information.

You should be in charge of what thoughtful, accurate and thoughtfully created political content you consume. Instagram deciding for you isn’t right.

You can undo the political content limit to your account in under a minute by following the instructions in the posts here.


My reading habits have not changed since my last email but I can tell you what it's on reading list. And I'm not including links because if there's something here you want to read, please go out of your way to get it from your local book shop:

On Our Best Behavior by Elise Loehnen

Women Money Power - The Rise and Fall of Economic Equality by Josie Cox

Women in White Coats - How the First Women Doctors Change the World of Medicine by Olivia Campbell

None of the Above by Travis Alabanza

Feminism or Death by Francoise D'Eaubonne

Essential Labor - Mothering as Social Change by Angela Garbes

Housewife - Why Women Still Do It All and What To Do Instead by Lisa Selin Davis

Data Feminism by Catherine D'Ignazio and Lauren F. Klein

The Feminist Killjoy Handbook and the Radical Potential of Getting In The Way by Sara Ahmed

The Only Woman by Immy Humes

What Madame Premier is Watching

My family and I were in Vancouver last week and my kids are *finally* at the age where they don't require my constant attention which means I actually got to watch a movie. I know, right?! I watched the rom com Anyone But You. It was ok and if you haven't seen it, it's worth a try.
What I can recommend, my #1 pick actually, is Turning Point: The Bomb and the Cold War on Netflix. It's a very thorough examination of how the development of the atomic bomb changed the world. I can normally blow through a series I really love in a matter of days or weeks but this one requires your full attention so don't expect to get through it in a day.
Under the category of Things I Probably Wasn't Expecting I caught an episode of the kids show Mittens and Pants which is about a puppy named Pants and a kitten named Mittens that celebrates having different kinds of friends. My kids probably thought I had lost my mind because A PUPPY NAMED PANTS? A KITTEN CALLED MITTENS? It's joy. Pure joy.
I'm also watching the Public Inquiry into Foreign Interference on CPAC. I know, from Mittens and Pants to foreign interference. My interests run the gamut! But foreign interference in Canadian elections and our democracy is a very serious and real thing. Please watch and follow what's coming out of it.
I'm also fascinated by the federal Liberals announcing billions and billions and billions of budget money in advance of the budget next week which is a refreshing change to see them drive the media rather than responding to to it. I think that this approach will be copied by future governments of different political stripes because of the buy-in and excitement that it's creating with industry stakeholders and because Canadians are now going to expect these announcements to be real rather than just something announced on Budget Day that gets lost in the news cycle. It's refreshing to see the Liberals do something positive on the communications front.

What Madame Premier is Doing

To be honest, not much outside of Madame Premier right now. My kids go back to school after two weeks off for spring break so my focus is on preparing for that. Maybe I should share that it's my birthday this month? I'm going to be turning 41 and I'm currently deciding if I want to do anything for it. And by do anything, I mean that's with my friends. When I asked my kids what I should do, they said we should go this place that is nothing but gigantic inflatables together. So assuming I make it out of that experience alive and not immediately at the chiropractor, I might invite some friends to go to a karaoke bar with me but that remains TBD.
On April 9th I will be a panelist for an online event for Startup Canada called Women in Retail and E-Commerce. If you're interested, you can find details about it here.


Dates You Should Know

The Canadian Women in Medicine conference is happening May 23 to 25 in Halfiax this year.

March 15th is the deadline to get into the Alberta NDP leadership race.

April 16th is when we will find out the details of the next federal budget

April 22nd is the membership deadline for the Alberta NDP leadership 

June 22nd is the Alberta NDP leadership election which makes June 23rd the day a lot of people will get to kind of rest!

October 17th are municipal elections in Yukon

October 19th are municipal and provincial elections in my home province of BC and you may see me out door knocking if and when I get the chance to go back

October 21st is the date of a provincial election in New Brunswick and municipal elections in the North West Territories

October 28th is the date Saskatchewan heads to the polls for their next provincial election. It's going to be one to watch as the Saskatchewan Party goes up against a competitive NDP!

And then just weeks later, Saskatchewan will be back to vote in municipal elections on November 13th

Upcoming Events at Madame Premier


This weekend I'm hosting former Calgary mayor and current Alberta NDP leadership hopeful Naheed Nenshi at the store for a live recording of my podcast Ellected. It's the fourth one in my series of chatting with all of the candidates in the running and I'm excited and nervous about my chat with Nenshi. Excited because of the momentum around his campaign and nervous because I have some hard questions that I plan on asking. Or maybe they aren't actually hard but we'll see! All 25 spots for this episode were gone in a matter of hours which is in contrast with all of the others which took weeks to fill the spots. There are still spots available for my podcast with Jodi Calahoo Stonehouse on April 13th. It's really important to me that every single spot is taken for Jodi's podcast because her messages are just as important as the others, if not more because she's the only one with a significant focus on drought, water and climate change.

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