Saturday, December 23, 2006

Albertatory turns 100

This is my 100th post on this blog. I only wish it wasn't prompted by this:


I suspect he'll run in a Vancouver-area riding, since that's where he lives.

God forbid he wins.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Journal Blogs

G'day all.

Sorry I haven't been blogging much lately... i'm in Kelowna for Christmas and, frankly, its a lot more fun than ranting on a computer.

That said, something has been nagging me and I feel compelled to complain about it.

Well not something, someone.

Most Alberta bloggers (even those of us who use the term "Albertan" somewhat disingenuously of late) know that the Edmonton Journal has an impressive host of columnist-written blogs on their website.

The two I read are Larry Johnsrude and Graham Thomson, mainly being they're up on political events... and Larry in particular has shown interest in Fort McMurray issues.

Now i've never been a huge fan of Graham Thomson. I find that, even after 20 years in Alberta, he often writes like a Central Canadian. I've often called into question some of his statements... particularily whenever he raves about the oratory abilities of Kevin Taft (and if you agree, you might as well stop reading because my point will be lost on you).

Lately on his blog, Graham has seemed to have a fascination with Jim Dinning, why he lost, and all of the theories that people have as to why he lost.

As exciting as that is, its time to get over it. Dinning lost, and he (and all of us who supported him) are fully aware of that. We've accepted our fate, gotten behind the man who DID win, and moved on.

Rather than trying to be an armchair historian, Graham should concentrate more on the guy who did win and what his team is up to... it is far more relevant to Albertans.

Or he could do like Larry does and diversify his blog a bit... I never tire of reading some of the great stuff he puts up.

Friday, December 15, 2006

And now you know why I don't play poker, folks.

The Premier announced his new Cabinet today and i've got some egg on my face. I managed to predict 10 of the 18 Ministers who were appointed today, but correctly matched only 3 of them with their new portfolios.

So thoughts... here we go:

Not a huge surprise to see Snelgrove in Cabinet. Although I didn't peg him directly, he was one of the "maybes" on the earlier list. His business background is likely why the Premier made him the taxpayer's watchdog (a la John Baird). The surprise here is that he's #2 in order of Cabinet precedence.

HON. DOUG HORNER (Advanced Ed/Technology)
Pegged him for a big cabinet post, so i'd like to say I was sorta close. Horner's a smart guy with a bright future. He'll do well here.

HON. IRIS EVANS (Employment, Immigration and Industry)
Was the head of Sturgeon County, arguably the site of the biggest growth Alberta will see in the next few years. Her time in Children's Services and Health have left some mixed reactions, so it'll be interesting to see what she does in this new role.

Called it! I know Mel and his work on this file... both are impeccable. Melchin was a good minister, but i'll bet there are a lot of people in the oilpatch who are smiling right now.

HON. DAVE HANCOCK (Health and Wellness)
I remember Health being a possibility for Hancock after the 2004 election but I hadn't heard much speculation on that front since. A high-profile portfolio, though... no one expected any different for Hancock.

HON. RAY DANYLUK (Municipal Affairs and Housing)
No surprise that Danyluk is at the table. I had called him for Agriculture, but this one makes sense too. He was a former Reeve of his county and his constituency of Lac La Biche-St.Paul includes the most dysfunctional municipal government in Alberta... I suspect the local boy will cure what ails them.

HON. RON LIEPERT (Education)
Completely out of left field. I had one guy telling me that this would be the reach-out to Dinning since Liepert was Dinning's #1 caucus coordinator, but I didn't believe it. I think I owe that fellow a beer. Liepert is a smart guy and should do very well in this role.

HON. JANIS TARCHUK (Children's Services)
Another surprise. Janis' name was bandied about as a possibility, but I wasn't putting a lot of stock in it. Still, she's been a highly under-utilized member of caucus... someone who speaks only when she has something intelligent to say, which is refreshing. A solid person in a tricky Ministry, should be good news for the folks in Children's Services.

HON. ROB RENNER (Environment)
Called him for cabinet, but not this portfolio. It makes sense, though, given that he's from the dryest part of the province and Water For Life is going to be a huge issue for the ministry. Seems that Rob has a habit of taking over things from Guy Boutilier... PC Youth Caucus Liason... Municipal Affairs... now Environment.

This was another one of my possible musings early on that didn't get included in my final list. George's agricultural pedigree is outstanding and, given the importance of Agriculture to southern Alberta, its not a surprise it shifted to a southerner.

This was the bombshell. Many people were hoping that Oberg wouldn't get a very senior position... not so, it seems. Oberg was touted as having the most detailed plans during the leadership race, so that may have swayed Premier Stelmach in his deliberations.

HON. LUKE OUELLETTE (Infrastructure and Transportation)
Called it! It makes perfect sense for all the reasons I outlined in the last post.

HON. RON STEVENS (Justice and Attorney General)
Called it! And, again, was the most logical choice for the job. No Deputy Premier title, but it looks like no one gets that anymore.

HON. GREG MELCHIN (Seniors and Community Supports)
I had Greg pegged to be dumped, but am glad to see I was wrong. He's a competent minister, I just figured he was too close to Dinning. The new portfolio is a demotion, no question, but Greg's conviction towards community service and helping others will likely make him an excellent minister here.

HON. GUY BOUTILIER (International, Intergovernmental and Aboriginal Affairs)
YES! I WAS WRONG! It will be interesting to see the approach Guy takes as Alberta's new Chief Diplomat and with the former department of Aboriginal Affairs. Guy staying in cabinet sends a signal from the Premier that he understands how important our Fort McMurray issues are to the rest of the province.

HON. TED MORTON (Sustainable Resource Development)
I almost had the portfolio pegged, so i'm not surprised to see him in here. What IS surprising (and what has the Morton folks fuming mad) is that he is third from the bottom on the order of precedence. This could be seen as a slap in the face and may make things a bit difficult internally with the Morton folks. It'll also be interesting to see what, if any, action "Ranger Ted" (hat tip to Chris and William) takes on the Metis Harvesting Agreement and if that'll cause any friction between him and Boutilier.

HON. FRED LINDSAY (Solicitor General and Public Safety)
I have to say this one dissapoints me. Not that I have anything against Fred Lindsay... I don't know him but i'm sure he's a good man. I just thought that Harvey Cenaiko was such a supurb Minister in this portfolio. Dumping Cenaiko was the biggest mistake made in constructing the new cabinet.

HON. HECTOR GOUDREAU (Tourism, Parks, Recreation, and Culture)
If the last one dissapointed me, this one elates me! I figured Premier Stelmach would want 2 voices from the northwest part of Alberta, but I pegged the non-Grande Prairie one to be Ivan Strang given his seniority in caucus. That said, Hector Goudreau is one of the brightest lights in the Tory caucus. Like Janis Tarchuk, he only opens his mouth when he has something intelligent to say and that is most admirable. Felicitations a mon ami Hector, un maudit bon gars!

  • I'm surprised at the lack of women in cabinet... now down to just two: Iris Evans and Janis Tarchuk. Demographic considerations must not have played highly in the Premier's deliberations. Reaction to this will be interesting to watch.
  • Two major Alberta cities, Lethbridge and Red Deer, are without cabinet representation. This will, no doubt, cause an uproar in both cities.
  • The two big cities, Edmonton and Calgary, only have 4 Ministers between them. Being a rural/suburban guy, I suspect the Premier crafted cabinet more on regional (Capital, Calgary areas) lines rather than distinguishing Edmonton and Calgary from its neighbours. This, like the Red Deer/Lethbridge thing, could cause some difficulties.
  • A lot of new faces around the table who should have some fresh ideas and energy to burn... I look forward to seeing how they do.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Out on a limb

Premier-designate Stelmach released a backgrounder explaining the new look of Alberta's ministries. The new structure reduces the size of cabinet from 24 to 18 ministers (19 including the Premier) and eliminates the Standing Policy Committees.

I like it!

The detailed backgrounders can be found here. I offer for you, now, a listing of Alberta's 19 new Cabinet posts:

1. Premier
2. President of the Treasury Board, Minister for Service Alberta
3. Advanced Education and Technology
4. Municipal Affairs and Housing
5. Energy
6. Health and Wellness
7. Employment, Immigration and Industry
8. Education
9. Children's Services
10. Environment
11. Agriculture and Food
12. Finance
13. Infrastructure and Transportation
14. Justice and Attorney General
15. Seniors and Community Supports
16. International, Intergovernmental and Aboriginal Relations
17. Sustainable Resource Development
18. Solicitor General and Public Safety
19. Tourism, Parks, Recreation and Culture

I'm also going to go out on a limb and make my final predictions for the first Stelmach cabinet. I suspect some of these will be wrong, but it's the best educated guess I can muster given what i've been able to gather from various sources and my own speculation.

Premier of Alberta
HON. ED STELMACH (Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville)
Rationale: He won the Leadership race ;)

President of the Treasury Board, Minister of Service Alberta
Rationale: Was a leadership contestant, has a solid accounting background, returns Red Deer to the Cabinet table.

Minister of Advanced Education and Technology
HON. DAVE HANCOCK (Edmonton-Whitemud)
Rationale: Backed Ed and delivered for him in his constituency. Was a strong Minister for this portfolio before he had to step down. Given that he was the "education candidate", there are probably some things he'd like to finish.

Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing
HON. ROB RENNER (Medicine Hat)
Rationale: Although he backed Dinning, so did the other MLA for the Medicine Hat area. Given the choice, Stelmach will keep the current area Minister and leave him in his current role.

Minister of Energy
HON. MEL KNIGHT (Grande Prairie-Smoky)
Rationale: Backed Ed whereas his fellow GP MLA Gord Graydon backed Dinning. Knight has a very strong background in the energy sector and is known for his work on this file across North America.

Minister of Health and Wellness
HON. IRIS EVANS (Sherwood Park)
Rationale: Backed Ed from the get-go. Likely has her picks of portfolios, but what other high-profile job would a former nurse rather have?

Minister of Employment, Immigration and Industry
HON. CLINT DUNFORD (Lethbridge West)
Rationale: Same as Renner, except the other Lethbridge MLA is a Liberal. Returns to his old portfolio with new responsibilities.

Minister of Education
HON. PEARL CALAHASEN (Lesser Slave Lake)
Rationale: Backed Ed on the 2nd ballot and delivered. Was the natural choice for Aboriginal Affairs when it was stand-alone, but now that its been lumped together with IIR it can go to a number of different people. Calahasen has a Master's Degree in Education and has likely been wanting to prove she can handle a bigger job.

Minister of Children's Services
HON. CAROL HALEY (Airdrie-Chestermere)
Rationale: Too many people have told me that she is heading to cabinet for me to discount it. Carol is well-liked by the new Premier and has been waiting patiently for a promotion for many years.

Minister of Environment
HON. TED MORTON (Foothills-Rockyview)
Rationale: This is the perfect Ministry to give to Dr. Morton. Its a high enough profile that he and his supporters won't feel like they've been shuffled off to the back, and its a department which Dr. Morton has expressed strong interest in for many years as a conservationist. His environmentally-sensitive riding in the foothills seals the deal.

Minister of Agriculture and Food
HON. RAY DANYLUK (Lac La Biche-St. Paul)
Rationale: Was home to the 2nd highest number of votes for Stelmach in Alberta. Has a solid agricultural background and is well-liked and respected around the caucus table.

Minister of Finance
HON. DOUG HORNER (Spruce Grove-Sturgeon-St. Albert)
Rationale: Backed Ed on the 2nd ballot and delivered. Has proven to be a competent Minister and has a solid understanding of Finance. The name "Horner" alone inspires confidence in Alberta.

Minister of Infrastructure and Transportation
HON. LUKE OUELLETTE (Innisfail-Sylvan Lake)
Rationale: Was the 2nd biggest name in Ed's basket at the start and is itching (and deserving) to take over a real Ministry. Is exceptionally loyal to the new Premier and represents a corridor constituency.

Minister of Justice and Attorney General
HON. RON STEVENS (Calgary Glenmore)
Rationale: Has been the biggest Calgary name bandied about. Is also one of the very few lawyers in caucus, an absolute requirement for this portfolio. Stevens will be seen as the Dinning connection to Calgary and will likely be a vital part of the team. If the Deputy Premier title remains intact, expect it to be awarded here.

Minister of Seniors and Community Supports
HON. YVONNE FRITZ (Calgary Cross)
Rationale: Supported Dinning as well, but doesn't seem to be nearing retirement as Heather Forsyth is. With only 2 Calgary women in cabinet, Fritz will be the one that Stelmach keeps. She'll also keep her relatively low-profile job.

Minister of International, Intergovernmental, and Aboriginal Relations
HON. LYLE OBERG (Strathmore-Brooks)
Rationale: A lot of people were wondering what Stelmach could give Lyle without pissing off a bunch of people... this is likely his best bet. The IIR portion seen as high-profile, but is largely caretaking, given that its the Premier who truly speaks for Alberta on important issues. Lyle can also handle the Aboriginal Affairs portion given that he was endorsed by both an Aboriginal group and the current minister of Aboriginal Affairs.

Minister of Sustainable Resource Development
HON. IVAN STRANG (West Yellowhead)
Rationale: Backed Ed. Has a keen interest in issues in the SRD portfolio given his riding. Is a solid member of caucus and has patiently awaited a deserved promotion.

Solicitor General and Minister of Public Safety
HON. HARVEY CENAIKO (Calgary Buffalo)
Rationale: Has been brilliant in this portfolio. Represents a downtown Calgary riding, exactly the people that the new Premier will have the hardest time connecting with. Is also a relatively fresh face in caucus and cabinet.

Minister of Tourism, Parks, Culture and Recreation
HON. GENE ZWOZDESKY (Edmonton Mill Creek)
Rationale: A few people say they think the Zwoz will get the boot, but i'm not sure how the new Premier can rationalize having only one minister from Edmonton-proper. This is a demotion for Zwozdesky, but to most of a portfolio which he held and excelled in before the last election.

The notable exception on this list, you may notice, is my own MLA and good friend Guy Boutilier. I would like to stress that these are my best guesses for Cabinet, not necessarily my hopes. I think it would be very unfortunate for Premier Stelmach not to have cabinet representation for the economic engine of Alberta. That said, I have simply heard from too wide a variety of people that Guy will be demoted... it was impossible to ignore in my deliberations. That said, I REALLY REALLY hope i'm wrong.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Cabinet guesses

I realize this is some pretty early speculation on the Stelmach cabinet, but speculation is what the blogosphere thrives on!

Minister: HON. RALPH KLEIN (Calgary-Elbow)
What Happens?: Premier Stelmach is the only sure thing come December 15th.

Minister: HON. PEARL CALAHASEN (Lesser Slave Lake)
What Happens?: Pearl stays in cabinet for sure... she backed Eddie on the 2nd ballot and delivered for him. Its reasonable to conclude that she'll stay in Aboriginal Affairs, too. Pearl's a smart lady (Master's Degree and all), but she's also the most logical choice in caucus for this Ministry.

Minister: HON. DENIS HERARD (Calgary-Egmont)
What Happens?: Herard is toast. A Dinning MLA who is close to retirement isn't likely to fare well in cabinet making.

Minister: HON. DOUG HORNER (Spruce Grove-Sturgeon-St. Albert)
What Happens?: Horner has a lock on keeping Hon. in front of his name. He backed Ed in the second ballot and, like just about every other Ed coalition MLA, delivered. Ed does have a lot of rural folks to reward, though, so Horner may get shuffled from Agriculture. Luckily for Ed, Minister Horner is a bright and versatile member who could be given almost any portfolio without hesitation.

Minister: HON. HEATHER FORSYTH (Calgary-Fish Creek)
What Happens?: My bet is that Forsyth is out. Given the choice between her and Yvonne Fritz as female Calgary Ministers, i'm betting he keeps Fritz.

Minister: HON. DENIS DUCHARME (Bonnyville-Cold Lake)
What Happens?: Denis has been a great member of caucus since his first election, but he's got two major things going against him: 1. He backed Dinning. 2. He's from rural NE Alberta, the Stelmach heartland. Sadly, I think Minister Ducharme will be no more.

Minister: HON. CLINT DUNFORD (Lethbridge West)
What Happens?: Lethbridge's only Government MLA stays in cabinet thanks to geography and competence. Could get shuffled, though.

Minister: HON. GENE ZWOZDESKY (Edmonton-Mill Creek)
What Happens?: The jury's out on this one. Many say that he's out because he backed Dinning and Stelmach has lots of northerners to reward. I was thinking more along the lines that he's a valuable voice from Edmonton-proper along with Hancock. Could go either way.

Minister: HON. GREG MELCHIN (Calgary-North West)
What Happens?: Stays in cabinet and keeps this job. Stelmach has to pick from a Calgary full of Dinning supporters, and Melchin is one of the most competent of them all. The industry also likes him. Look for Premier Stelmach not to ruffle too many feathers in the oilpatch.

Minister: HON. GUY BOUTILIER (Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo)
What Happens?: Guy stays in cabinet, without question... again, geography is on his side. May get shuffled from this portfolio, though. If Stelmach is uncomfortable giving Morton the Intergovernmental Affairs portfolio, this or SRD could be a good fit for the Professor.

Minister: HON. SHIRLEY MCCLELLAN (Drumheller-Stettler)
What Happens?: I think Shirley will stay in cabinet. Premier Stelmach will want to have a few experienced voices around the table and none is more experienced than Alberta's version of C.D. Howe. She'll likely lose the Deputy Premier title and possibly get shuffled from Finance, but she won't be demoted too far down the line.

Minister: HON. GORDON GRAYDON (Grande Prairie-Wapiti)
What Happens?: Minister Graydon has been competent, but his fellow northwestern MLAs who backed the new Premier will likely bump him from cabinet. Personally, Gaming is a ministry i'd like to see amalgamated with something else.

Minister: HON. GEORGE VANDERBURG (Whitecourt-Ste. Anne)
What Happens?: Same boat as Zwozdesky, but for different reasons. George VanderBurg was one of the rising stars from the Class of 2001 and the new Premier may not want to dump him, but he's also got a lot of other folks in the northwest to reward.

Minister: HON. IRIS EVANS (Sherwood Park)
What Happens?: Iris stays in cabinet and keeps her job. She was Ed's highest profile backer and delivered for him when it counted. I suspect he'll let her continue what she started in Health.

Minister: HON. MIKE CARDINAL (Athabasca-Redwater)
What Happens?: A Dinning supporter from the rural northeast and who is likely near retirement? You do the math...

Minister: HON. TY LUND (Rocky Mountain House)
What Happens?: Same fate as Herard and Cardinal, adios Ty. His replacement will be an interesting one to watch... could be a promotion for a guy like Luke Ouellette, or it could go to its former Minister, the Doc.

Minister: HON. BARRY MCFARLAND (Little Bow)
What Happens?: This quasi-Ministry gets abolished, which is a good thing. Its Minister does too, which is very unfortunate.

Minister: HON. GEORGE VANDERBURG (Whitecourt-Ste. Anne)
What Happens?: VanderBurg took this over from Vic Doerksen when he stepped down to run. If this Ministry doesn't get abolished, I suspect it'll be given back to Doerksen to give Red Deer its cabinet seat back.

Minister: HON. GARY MAR (Calgary-MacKay)
What Happens?: Gary Mar or Ron Stevens will likely get the nod as Deputy Premier and Stelmach's reach out to Calgary/Dinning man. There are a lot of arguments for keeping Mar in cabinet, but if he's not planning to run again then Stelmach may choose not to appoint him. As for the Ministry, it COULD go to Morton if the Premier thinks he'll be constructive in his former Ministry.

Minister: HON. RON STEVENS (Calgary-Glenmore)
What Happens?: There are few lawyers in caucus, so there's a pretty good chance that Stevens could keep this job and possibly get the Deputy Premier title added on. Either way, Ron Stevens may fare the best of any Dinning supporter in caucus.

Minister: HON. ROB RENNER (Medicine Hat)
What Happens?: Both Medicine Hat MLAs are gov't members, and both supported Dinning. Renner stays in cabinet, and probably keeps this job.

Minister: HON. LUKE OUELLETTE (Innisfail-Sylvan Lake)
What Happens?: This Ministry, which was a dumb idea in the first place, will thankfully be put to rest. Even better news is that Luke Ouellette, a Stelmach backer from the beginning, will finally get to put his talents to good use with what'll likely be a big promotion.

Minister: HON. YVONNE FRITZ (Calgary-Cross)
What Happens?: This is another Ministry which could be adjusted or amalgamated, but I think Fritz stays in cabinet as the female Calgary Minister rather than Heather Forsyth.

Minister: HON. HARVEY CENAIKO (Calgary-Buffalo)
What Happens?: Harvey's a new Minister, relatively new MLA, and represents downtown Calgary. Not to mention he's the most qualified person in caucus for this position. If the Ministry remains intact, expect Minister Cenaiko to as well.

Minister: HON. DAVID COUTTS (Livingstone-Macleod)
What Happens?: A capable Minister and a genuinely nice guy, without question. However, he's another one of those fellows who backed Dinning and is near retirement. He's a SW Alberta voice in cabinet, but could be shuffled out to make room in that geographic slot for Ted Morton. This is also a Ministry that Morton could fit into, given his love of the outdoors.

So based on that, i'm predicting at least 8 vacancies. Now the 24-member cabinet will be shrunk, Premier Stelmach has already indicated that. If if drops to 20, that's 4 vacancies. If that's the case, look for the following people to join cabinet:

-RAY DANYLUK (Lac La Biche-St. Paul). No question here... he delivered almost 2500 votes in his riding for Stelmach and is a pretty new face in government as a member of the Class of 2001.

-TED MORTON (Foothills-Rockyview). Obviously. He delivered most of his second place votes and still commands a large faction of conservatives in Alberta. The "what" remains to be seen, but the "if" is certain.

-DAVE HANCOCK (Edmonton-Whitemud). Another obvious. It was an absolute shame that Dave had to resign in the first place. He will naturally regain a seat at the table.

-LYLE OBERG (Strathmore-Brooks). His role remains uncertain, but not his seat at the table. He'll be a voice from the rural south that Premier Stelmach will appreciate.

Now those four are for sure, but depending on what kind of cutting and shuffling we see, there are some other names to watch for:

-MEL KNIGHT (Grande Prairie-Smoky). Grande Prairie will need a voice at the table and Knight is the natural choice since he supported Ed. That is, of course, if Graydon does get the boot.

-HECTOR GOUDREAU (Dunvegan-Central Peace). I know there's only room for so many northerners in cabinet, but Hector is one of the smartest guys in caucus and will no doubt make the short list.

-LLOYD SNELGROVE (Vermilion-Lloydminster). Lloyd's a straight-shooting, no B.S. guy who was also an original Ed backer with big results from his riding. If there's a bigger-than-I-think swath making room for Stelmach supporters, Lloyd could easily land himself on the front bench.

-IVAN STRANG (West Yellowhead). An experienced MLA, Strang could also fill one of a number of roles around the cabinet table.

So that's my best guess at this point. Comments and discussion are welcome as we await the big day on December 15th!

Monday, December 4, 2006

Wow, what a weekend!

My apologies for the delay of this post... I flew back to Victoria early Sunday morning and slept from 10am Sunday to 7:30am Monday with only 15 minute phone call in-between.

So its Premier Ed Stelmach... who would have guessed it?

First, I think kudos are due to everyone who put their hat in the race as well as their able campaign teams. It takes a lot of dedication from a lot of people to mount a leadership bid and everyone who was involved deserves a pat on the back.

I should also take some space to congratulate my candidate, Jim Dinning. Jim is someone I am proud of and was more than happy to help in whatever capacity I could. I may not have always agreed with our campaign machine, but I was ALWAYS proud to be a supporter of my friend Jim Dinning. I am naturally dissapointed that Jim won't get the chance to be Alberta Premier, because I know what an outstanding job he would have done. Still, he's a smart and talented guy who will no doubt be successful in whatever he embarks on next.

I was very glad I made the decision to go to Edmonton on Saturday. I have often described my affiliation with PC Alberta as being like a family to me... I would have had a hard time missing such an important reunion. I also had the chance to catch up with a number of friends, including:

  • My MLA Guy Boutilier who, although unhappy with my choice of candidate and his excellent results in our home riding, was in good spirits and glad to hear about how things were going in Victoria.
  • Grande Prairie-Smoky MLA Mel Knight and his wife Diana who I always seek out at any party gathering. They are both great and sincere folks who I enjoy talking to a great deal. Mel also does some great work with PNWER, which is near and dear to my heart.
  • David Paul, Editor at Town & Country and the fellow who followed me around for a day during my 2004 CPC nomination campaign in Fort McMurray-Athabasca. It was nice to catch up with him and, apparently, get some more free press from him!
  • Linda and Gary Yargeau from Innisfail-Sylvan Lake. Linda and Gary are two of my absolute favourite people in PC Alberta... they work hard and play hard, and had every reason to on Saturday as some of Ed's earliest backers.
  • Earl, Judy, and Devin Dreeshen, also from Innisfail-Sylvan Lake and also backers of Ed. They are a rural Alberta political family if ever there was one, and they're damn fine people to boot. I thought it particularily entertaining when I found out that, like me, Devin had called Dion to win the Liberal leadership.
  • Steve Smart and Bill Almdal with whom I served on the PC Alberta Executive. Steve and Bill always have some interesting insights into what's going on.
  • Les and Liza Stelmach, Ed's eldest son and daughter-in-law. I first met Les this summer at Jim Prentice's Stampede Breakfast when he came and introduced himself as, believe it or not, a reader of this blog. He definetly has his father's friendliness, sincerety, and approachability. Spotting the trend early on, I congratulated him on what I expected to be a victory for his father.
  • Daveberta was there as an observer and looked (not-surprisingly) a bit uncomfortable in a hall full of tories. Still, it was good of him to come by and say hello and, since he gave props to me on his blog, I thought I should return the favour.

I also made some new friends on Saturday night. I was happy to be able to introduce myself to Larry Johnsrude from the Edmonton Journal who writes an excellent blog on a lot of issues du jour. I also met fellow blogger A.J. Kniles... an entertaining fellow indeed!

I also need to extend a HUGE thank you to Duncan and Allie who graciously allowed me to bunk on their couch for the time between our arrival at their home and my departure for the Edmonton Airport (roughly 3:00am to 5:49am). I've said it before and i'll say it again, they are two of the best friends this humble northerner could ask for.

So now the big story... Premier Ed Stelmach.

Ed's victory on Saturday was proof-positive that hard work, determination, and a positive message are still worth something in politics after all.

Huge credit should go to his campaign team, both the original Ed backers and the coalition that came together on the second ballot. Ken Chapman does an excellent breakdown and analysis of those who really delivered for their guy. I remember at one point, Duncan and Allie (who joined the Ed coalition along with their guy Hancock) said "do you know how hard we worked this week?" To which I replied jokingly "YES! I SEE IT EVERY TIME THAT BLOODY RESULTS BOARD IS UPDATED!"

There are a lot of questions that will be answered in the coming days and weeks:

  • Who from Ed's team will get promoted to Cabinet? And at whose expense?
  • What kind of cabinet position does Ted Morton get? And who does Ed reach out to from Jim's team?
  • Just how big is cabinet going to be, anyway?
  • What role will Deputy Premier Shirley McClellan play?
  • Now that Jim is out, who will run in the Calgary-Elbow byelection to replace Premier Klein?

I look forward to seeing who makes up the Stelmach cabinet... as I suspect some under-utilized talents in caucus will finally get a chance to shine.

So what do I think about all of this?

You'll recall that I wrote a blog-post earlier entitled "I'm glad I already have a Premier". Well folks, I am indeed glad that I have a Premier.

I have a Premier who is respected by everyone and has room for everyone's opinion around his table.

I have a Premier who has a rock-solid record of delivering results for his province.

I have a Premier who attracts new people to his party not just as passers-by, but as people who are actively engaged in the affairs of the province.

I have a Premier whose hand I have proudly shaken, whose character I admire, whose party I am absolutely and unequivocally proud to be a part of, and whom I will gladly work tirelessly to re-elect.

Folks, you bet i'm glad I have a Premier.

His name is Ed.

Friday, December 1, 2006

The Final Countdown

In just over 12 hours, I will be boarding an airplane to take me back to Alberta for the most important election in 14 years for my home province.

I'm going for two reasons, both having to do with friendship:

1. I going to help with the final push for my friend Jim Dinning.

You've heard me rant about why i've supported Dinning for months now and you know why I remain unshakeably convinced that he is the best choice to lead Alberta, so i'll spare the repetition. Suffice to say, I would have felt very uneasy about staying away from such an important race for the future of a province and a party that I hold very dear... the opportunity to come to make another contribution and to witness a piece of Alberta history was one I simply could not pass up.

2. I am coming to celebrate with my friends in the PC Party of Alberta, regardless of who they've backed and regardless of who wins.

I have mentioned here before that I consider PC Alberta to be a family to me... when you've spent as much time working for and traveling across Alberta on its behalf, its hard not to. I'm coming to Edmonton to celebrate and, perhaps, to help bury some hatchets (and, regardless of who wins, you KNOW there'll be a lot of that to be done). A wise friend of mine pointed out that the last time we tried to separate blue tories and red tories, we ended up with 13 years of corrupt Liberal government. I say that not as a lecture to any one particular campaign, because its an important message for EVERYONE in our party. I have been through enough political ups and downs, upheavals, defections and rejections to know that they're not much fun and not at all constructive in the long run.

On Sunday morning, the sun will still rise and the world will still turn. To believe otherwise would be detrimental to our party, our province, and, most importantly, our friendships.

See y'all in Edmonton!

PS. Will asked an important question that I hadn't at all considered. For the record, I am NOT coming home to try and vote. I have stated clearly, frequently, and to a number of people that I am uneligible to vote because I do not currently maintain an Alberta address and have no Alberta ID. You'll see me at Dinning HQ and at the party, but not behind a ballot box.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Ask and ye shall receive

A friend of mine pointed out that I got a bit of a request from Larry Johnsrude's blog to give an update on this humble website. So here goes...

The results on Saturday came as a huge surprise to some, but not to me. Anyone who has spoken with me knows i've been talking about the strength of Morton's campaign team and Stelmach's grassroots appeal, as well as the fact that we (Dinning et al.) didn't have this wrapped up like so many in the media would have had you believe.

From what I hear, this week has taken an expectedly nasty turn. While predictable, I don't intend to join in the volleys of mud being thrown back and forth. Here's why:

I have been deeply involved in PC Alberta for a number of years at all levels. I've been to AGMs and fundraising dinners and electoral campaigns in more ridings (75 at last count) than most people in this party. I know members of this party in every corner of this province and am happy to call them acquaintances, if not friends. I know their intentions are noble and their contributions to the process are essential even if we disagree on a candidate for Premier.

The political apathy in Alberta is breathtaking and, in the case of my own hometown of Fort McMurray, embarassing. In my humble corner of the province alone, we have seen voter turnouts BELOW 40% in provincial elections and a turnout of just 477 people in last Saturday's Leadership vote.

People who support a candidate do so because they genuinely believe in what their candidate is promoting. That kind of involvement, whether we agree with their candidate or not, needs to be supported and nurtured. Our party is already skating on thin ice and anything we do to shut out or shut down involvement is detrimental to the party's future. After this whole thing is said and done, there will be some fences to be mended by whoever becomes Premier... failing to do so would do a grave disservice to our party.

Now I realize that the tone that the two leading campaigns have taken this week do not reflect what I have just said. That's unfortunate, but I suppose is to be expected given the prize at stake.

Nevertheless, I pledged in an earlier post to try and take a big-picture look at things and that is what i'll do.

In the spirit of that big-picture view, i'll tell you what has driven my support for Jim Dinning from Day One.

I'm not from Edmonton or Calgary. I have lived in both places and they are both fine cities, but they do not represent all that is Alberta. I come from a place that is far removed from our major centres by geography (among other things). The issues we face are much different.

I have seen Jim at work in my community and in other places across the province trying to get answers to the questions that people have... not questions about ideology or constitutional battles with Ottawa, but questions about things that affect them in their backyards.

I have consistently seen Jim working to find solutions to improve the standard of living and the quality of life for all Albertans regardless of where they live.

I have seen and admired his ability to speak with a gathering of farmers, a meeting of university students, or a group of CEOs and be open, confident, and comfortable with all of them.

I know of his record in government... that he is not afraid to take on difficult issues... and that he surrounds himself with the best and brightest people available to achieve positive results.

I know of his record in the private sector, where he was a supurb corporate ambassador for TransAlta and the Western Financial Group... and that, even outside the Legislature, he maintained his ties and involvement with our party.

I have faith in his abilities as a Leader to build on this province's past success and make Alberta the economic and social Leader in Canada.

Don't get me wrong, Ted Morton and Ed Stelmach bring some valuable things to the table. Ted's push for electoral reforms should be an important plank in our next campaign platform. And Ed's service in government is a model for integrity and concensus-building which all elected officials should strive to follow.

But when it comes down to who can balance the interests of all Albertans and take them forward in a strong but diplomatic fashion, there is only one person I trust.

Jim Dinning.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Two things


I have been noting over the past couple of days that the pre-vote rhetoric in the PC Leadership Race is REALLY cranking up. To be fair, I say that of all sides and have even been guilty of it myself.

Right now, it looks as though this race can be run by one of two people... Jim Dinning or Ted Morton. These two men represent different visions for Alberta and different styles of leadership. Each appeals greatly to their supporters and generally dislikes the views and supporters of the other.

What is getting lost is this: the PC Party of Alberta has remained successful for 36 years due to its ability to welcome a variety of viewpoints under our tent. It is this kind of pragmatism that has kept our party in government and, increasingly, it is what drives up the popularity of the federal Conservative Party led by Prime Minister Harper.

In fact, the Prime Minister can serve as a very good example to both Dinning and Morton when it comes to building the inclusive party that can regain some of the lost confidence of Albertans.

When the PC Party and the Canadian Alliance came together in 2003, there was animousity on both sides. Those from the Alliance side of the merger were less than thrilled that they were now under the same banner as the likes of Peter MacKay, whilst those from the PC side were equally disgruntled at being a member of the party of Rob Anders. Some of that animousity continues to this day.

The key point, though, is that these divergent viewpoints remain united under one party. And more importantly, the Leader of said party has led in a pragmatic way that has shown appeal to both sides of the divide.

The lesson that Prime Minister Harper provides should be front and centre for both Mr. Dinning and Dr. Morton. Our party and our province deserve nothing less.

As I mentioned earlier, i've also been caught up in the rhetoric trap of late. Perhaps the fact that I am not on the ground fighting the fight has given me a broader perspective on the whole thing... or perhaps i'm just in a friendly mood today. Whatever the case, i'm going to take a step back and make a pledge.

If Ted Morton wins, I won't rule out a return to Alberta. So long as I am not purged or blacklisted, I will continue to maintain my ties and offer my support and input to PC Alberta.

I would hope that, under the same conditions, those in the Morton camp would agree to the same.


I have finally heard both the Dinning and the Morton campaign songs. I will gladly concede this one. The Morton tune may not be up for any music awards, but ours is just plain awful.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

I'm kinda glad I already have a Premier

A couple of things on the Leadership Race:

FIRST, former Premier Peter Lougheed has thrown his support behind Jim Dinning. This will no doubt give encouragement to the Morton and Oberg camps, who seem to have little time for the kind of province-building that Premier Lougheed exercised back in his day. More and more, Ken Chapman's observations about the nature of this race and the future of this party are becoming clear. We can either work within the big tent that has kept us in government for so long, or we can pull some of the outer pins and tell people to go hitch their horse to another wagon.

Maybe its the fresh sea air talking, but i'm not sure this decision requires much thought. I'm sitting here in a province that is NDP-free thanks to a well-run, big-tent coalition of free enterprisers. Historically, the NDP have managed to take over when that big tent is shrunk (see 1991). Granted, there isn't nearly the opposition movement in Alberta that exists in BC... but that isn't to say it will always be so.

Even Norris agreed that our biggest potential threat is a Bronconnier-led Alberta Liberal Party. I, for one, don't think the best way to defeat him is to drive supporters towards him.

SECOND, it sounds like the Advance Polling in Edmonton was a bit of a gong show. This is hardly surprising given the organizational record and foresight of some of the higher-ups in the politboro. What is surprising, though, is the ridiculous suggestions coming from Renewing The One Party State that the lineups in Edmonton as opposed to Calgary or rural polls are somehow part of a grand Jim Dinning conspiracy to subvert democracy.

Seriously guys, give your heads a collective shake. I know how easy it is to be caught up in all of this and lose touch with reality, but there is a limit. When this is all over, regardless of who wins, I REALLY hope people will be able to look back and realize how ridiculous some of their statements have been.

ps. Life goes on over at Blake On The Coast... come say hi!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The debate

Thanks to the miracle of Shaw Digital Cable, I was able to watch last night's Alberta PC Leadership Debate via Global Edmonton.

Rick Bell's column in today's Calgary Sun sums up the night fairly well in my mind.

Beyond that, I made the following observations:

Did reasonably well. Not a knock-em-out performance, but stayed on message and used his two interjections well.

This was the first i've seen of him since the debate I went to in St. Albert. His public speaking has greatly improved. I was glad to see his son Les (a reader of this humble blog) in the audience... belated congratulations to Les and his wife Liza on the birth of their son (their first child and Ed and Marie Stelmach's first grandchild).

Came out strong. Perhaps a bit more confrontational than necessary, particularily since most of the others weren't. Dave is clearly fighting back hard against perception that he is an also-ran, and I think he may have made a bit of headway last night.

On par with what we've seen so far. He's a good man, but a bit out of his league.

I think this guy earns points every time he opens his mouth. He's smart and articulate. He's said he'll run in the next provincial election... if he does, i'll fly out to volunteer... we need more Gary McPherson's in public office.

Folksy and friendly. Just like we've had for the last 13 years.

I lump these two together because I found their performances to be quite similar. They stuck to their narrowly scripted visions. Given their histories and general demeanour, these two could have easily been noted in their high school yearbooks as "Most Likely to Pick a Fight with... anybody!" I have come to the conclusion that electing either of these two would go a long way in keeping me in British Columbia after I graduate.

Now speaking of British Columbia, i've started updating Blake On The Coast (BOTC) on a regular basis. It also has a new header which would not have been uploaded without the grace, skill, and infinite wisdom of Allie Wojtaszek. So head on over and give it a read... we're less than 3 weeks from the complete transition to BOTC!

Thursday, November 9, 2006

The beginning of the end

It seems as though the discussion thread from the last post has become a hotspot for comment, so I thought I would bring everything into a new post and deal with a couple of other issues as well.

First, re: Nuclear Plants.
Jim did NOT say that it has to go on the NE Alberta wish list. He said that its an option that should be looked into further and I agree. At a time when we are already drawing too much water from the Athabasca and wasting much of our natural gas, we need to explore every option with an open mind. I'm leery about the idea of nuclear energy, but he's right about it being something that should be looked at.

Second, re: Offer to Hancock.
As i've stated here before, I am not a paid employee of the Dinning campaign. This is the first i've heard of an offer being made to Hancock, but I think anyone who is genuinely surprised about this doesn't understand the nature of this game very well. I suspect that other teams are making overtures as well. The differences here are that a) Being the perceived front-runners, our crew has a bit more clout and b) Not all candidates wives have blogs. This is not a dirty trick. Whoever talked to Hancock didn't say "if you don't, we'll smoke you and your family out of Whitemud and lock you in a dungeon"... they just suggested it was a time sensitive offer. And all of this aside, I think everyone recognizes that Dave Hancock is one of the smartest and most ethical people in the PC Alberta caucus, and that his intelligence, competence, and the fact that he represents an Edmonton riding will ensure he remains a force in Cabinet no matter who wins.

Third, re: Anonymous posting
It seems to me that this race has attracted many in the blogosphere who are always at the ready to mouth off about the issue du jour, but are rather shy when it comes to putting their name alongside their thoughts. Admittedly, I have been guilty of this myself over on Renewing The One Party State (for those who haven't yet figured it out, I have been posting as Tory Footsoldier). I do not necessarily disagree with the right to post anonymously, but I am putting a stop to it on this blog and its comments section.

Finally, re: This Blog
Over the past few weeks, my sense of disconnection with events in Alberta has grown considerably. Concurrently, my connection with people and issues in British Columbia has grown. I am finding myself increasingly "out of the loop" with respect to Alberta issues and events of the day. Given that, I have come to the decision that I will terminate this blog after the conclusion of the Alberta PC Leadership Race. I still have some knowledge of how PC Alberta and its people operate so I will continure to blog here (however infrequently) until the race is over. Once the new Premier and his Cabinet are chosen, though, it'll be lights out for albertatory.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Good thing I moved to avoid all this, isn't it?

There's a lot of news vis a vis the leadership race that I need to catch up on. Here goes:

  1. ALANA DELONG QUITS RACE. While this doesn't seem to have surprised anyone, myself included, my reaction is somewhat mixed. Its unfortunate that Alana won't be on the ballot because it would have been nice to have a woman in the race, particularily since we have so many qualified women within the ranks of the PC Party of Alberta. It was probably a smart move on Alana's part, though, given that staying in the race would have cost her a lot of time and money for what likely would have been little in return. As a Dinning supporter, i'm pleased to see that she has chosen to join our ranks. With Alana onboard, this now means (as Daveberta's list shows) that every Calgary PC MLA with the exception of Hung Pham is backing Jim.
  2. ALBERTA ALLIANCE LEADER ENDORSES TED MORTON. This is a bizarre story. Myself and William were having a conversation about the PC Leadership with Paul Hinman this summer at the PNWER summit in Edmonton. Not surprisingly, Paul expressed a strong preference for Ted Morton to become Premier. It isn't uncommon for opposition MLAs to have a personal preference in another party's leadership race... Liberal MLA Bridget Pastoor once told me that she her heart was with Dave Hancock. It would be quite another thing, though, for Bridget to come out and endorse Hancock openly, and to encourage members of her party to buy memberships and support him. I'm not denying that cross-party membership purchases aren't happening, but Paul Hinman and the Alliance are certainly being more open and explicit about it than one would expect. Hatrock's post on renewingtheonepartystate suggests similarities between the Morton-Hinman alliance (no pun intended) and the necessity of the merger of the Canadian Alliance and PC Party of Canada. I, for one, disagree with the notion that the Alberta Alliance is as relevant a political force as Hatrock and others would have you believe. Paul Hinman is a nice fellow, but sometimes his judgement gets the better of him.
  3. POLL SHOWS VIRTUAL THREE-WAY TIE. A poll conducted by the Progressive Group for Independent Business shows that Ted Morton and Lyle Oberg are tied for first place at 17.2%, with Jim Dinning close behind at 16%. Ken Chapman does a much better job debunking this poll than I can, but there are a couple of points worth repeating. First off, i'd like to know how the PGIB obtained a complete PC Alberta membership list? I sat on the PC executive as Youth President for almost 2 years without being able to obtain a list of only the members which I represented (youth). My guess is that they put together a smattering of old lists from PGIB-friendly sources, in which case the objectivity of the sample is brought into question. Second, as Ken points out, the geographic distribution of this poll is sketchy at best. While its true that regions are not equally weighted in a one member-one vote system, the poll cannot claim to be very reflective of the mood of PC supporters across the province. Before the Mortonites get on me for dismissing the poll simply because it puts Morton ahead of Dinning, let me say this: in this race, there will be all kinds of polls that will be dismissed for all kinds of reasons by all kinds of people. The only two polls that matter are on November 25th and December 2nd, and I don't think any team (mine included) is being presumptuous about the results.
  4. LOUGHEED PREFERS DELEGATED CONVENTION. Peter Lougheed is a man whom I deeply respect and admire. On this issue, though, he's wrong. While a one member-one vote does not create the drama or suspense of a delegated convention, it is a far more democratic and a far less messy affair. Delegated conventions are more prone to manipulation by either ex-officios or organizers with a partisan stance (I speak from experience), while one member-one vote removes most of the influence from those forces. It is not a flawless system, especially given the overall lack of checks and balances in place for this particular vote, but it IS a far better way of choosing our new Premier.

Friday, October 6, 2006

A re-discovery

Stroll on over to Doug Griffiths' new website and re-discover why I remain convinced that this guy can be Premier of Alberta someday.

Thursday, October 5, 2006

Just when I thought I was done for the day

Jim has officially filed his nomination papers and announced the addition of 6 MLAs to the team.

Welcome to Greg Melchin, Ron Stevens, George VanderBurg, Wayne Cao, Janis Tarchuk, and Doug Griffiths!

These are huge additions to the team. I have worked alongside all 6 of these MLAs and let me tell you that they are VERY much in touch with their constituents. Their endorsements bode well for the campaign and for the future of Alberta under Premier Jim Dinning.

Its all happening now, isn't it?

I came out of class this afternoon to discover that there's a lot going on in the world today. I'll try to deal with the ones that stood out for me in an orderly fashion.


Ontario's slimeball Premier has lashed out at the federal government saying that they better not dare try to drag his province's auto industry kicking and screaming into the 21st century. Dalton, along with Buzzard Hargrove, has warned that the feds better not "unduly impose greenhouse-gas emission reductions on the province of Ontario at the expense of our auto sector".

So Dalton, who in the past has tried to play up an image of being Captain Canada, thinks that Ontario, hub of this country's antequated manufacturing sector, shouldn't have to play by the same rules that everyone else plays by.

Tough cheese, Dalton. If Alberta is going to go along with Minister Ambrose's plan, you had damn well be prepared to pull your weight and do the same. Its about time that Ontario did just that.


Much to the chagrin of some of my more ideologically conservative friends, I am not uniformly against organized labour. Our family owned a business that employed a number of members of both Ironworkers Local 720 and Operating Engineers Local 955. Our dealings with both these organizations were pleasant, professional, and mutually beneficial.

Additionally, I know that, while the NDP claims to speak for organized labour, individual union members in Alberta often have a variety of political viewpoints and do not necessarily support one political party en masse. Given their independence as citizens, I believe it is perfectly acceptable for them to excerise a democratic right to join a political party and have a say in its affairs.

I have an issue, though, with thousands of pre-paid memberships are being distributed to members of any organization (be it unions or otherwise) on the condition that they support a certain candidate.

This very allegation has been leveled against the campaign of Dr. Lyle Oberg in today's Edmonton Journal.

Organizations have the right to publically encourage their members to get involved in a party (as the ATA and Alberta Medical Association have done), but they cross the line when they offer free memberships to those who back their chosen candidate.

The Alberta Building Trades Council and the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades should cease the distribution of Oberg-friendly memberships and instead encourage its members to choose a candidate who best reflects their values.

The Oberg campaign also needs to do a better job of distancing themselves from these tactics. If they don't, one could wonder when we'll start to hear about the dead rising from the grave to buy memberships or Dr. Oberg being told that he isn't "Albertan" enough.

And that's a scene no one in this party wants to see.


Whoever leaked this story should be fired, along with whomever came up with the stupid idea in the first place.

Thanksgiving break is coming none too soon for the Government caucus, methinks.

Monday, October 2, 2006

This and that

A couple of things.

First, Ted Morton was in my hometown last week to release a policy on worker safety. As you all know, I am not a supporter of Dr. Morton. I am, however, happy to see him raise this issue. You can read more about it, as well as my response, here on Larry Johnsrude's blog.

Second, there are some disturbingly ill-advised comments in this article with regards to health care (hat tip to the team at renewing the one party state for bringing it up).

Saturday, September 30, 2006

If you mine it here, upgrade it here

Good morning from scenic Parksville, BC!

The BC adventure continues, and at some point in the next day or so I will sit down and reflect on it at blakeonthecoast.

In the meantime, though, it seems that things are heating up back in Alberta.

In particular, i'm really happy about Jim's latest comments regarding the upgrading of our natural resources right here in Alberta. It only stands to reason that we generate as much wealth as we can from the resources that are under our feet.

In addition to benefiting the provincial coffers, a targeted strategy to encourage Alberta-based resource refinement can also be the key to ensuring the "Alberta Advantage" is spread beyond the Highway 2 corridor.

Its our resource, we all deserve a piece of the pie.

Bravo, Jim!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

It's baaaaaaaack

After a rather long, techno-crash imposed hiatus, the albertatory is back in action online!

Most sincere and deepest thanks go out to Allie and Duncan, without whom I would not have known about the problem, nor would I have been able to fix it. Their web/blog skills are beyond compare, and they're pretty irreplaceable as friends, too.

There's a fair bit to talk about and i'm anxious to get to it, but first a pause to remember...

LeRoy Johnson, the MLA for Wetaskiwin-Camrose, is one of the truly good people in this world. He is genuine, sincere, and honest to a fault. His entire family also shares these qualities, which is why I was deeply saddened to learn that his wonderful wife Dianne lost her battle with cancer last week.

Dianne was a community leader in her own right, and just much a servant of her husband's constituents as he is. I know the good Lord will grant Dianne the rest she so richly deserves, and that He will be a source of strength for LeRoy and his family as they mourn their loss.

Godspeed Mrs. Johnson.

Now then, on with a summary of what's going on:

  • I'm trying to draw some parallels between the federal Liberal leadership race and the provincial PC leadership race. It doesn't completely work, but there are a couple of distinctions that can/have been drawn. The most obvious one is that Ed Stelmach is our Ken Dryden. Nobody has anything substantially bad to say about Ed, and he's your safest bet as a second choice. Will it translate into votes? Will it make Ed the Kingmaker? Too early to tell, but it'll be fun to watch. The other parallel i've heard is between my candidate, Jim Dinning, and Michael Ignatieff in the sense that we're both leading the first ballot with little room to grow. I don't know that I totally agree with this conclusion, but its an interesting thought nonetheless.

  • McBeath and Chapman are having a great back-and-forth about what is really driving voters away from PC Alberta. I'm not really sure if I side with one argument over the other, but its sure is fun to read.

  • I caught two absolutely hilarious sound bites from federal QP over the past couple of weeks. One was Hon. Monte Solberg who, after quoting Michael Ignatieff, said "Mr. Speaker, that was the Honourable Member from Haaaavud". The other was Hon. John Baird who, in a series of replies to hapless Liberal backbenchers, spoke of "the Honourable Member from Six Feet Under (Joe Volpe)" and the "shakedown of school children for their milk money". Damn fine political theatre indeed.

  • I, for one, like the Belinda Stronach-Tie Domi affair. I hate them both, so I can now hate them as a couple.

  • Life in BC has been an adjustment, for sure. Its a fun place to live, although I do have "Alberta moments". I'll be putting up some reflections of life on the coast soon over on my other blog.

Thanks for reading... i'll be back with more soon!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

My other family

I've been in Edmonton the past couple of days and, as luck would have it, I was able to take in the first PC Alberta Leadership Debate tonight. First, hats off to the St. Albert and Spruce Grove-Sturgeon-St. Albert PC Associations for putting together an excellent forum.

It was great to see all the candidates on stage together and i'm particularily proud of my how my guy, Mr. Jim Dinning, performed.

As far as the rest of the pack, a couple of observations:

-Victor Doerksen was far more eloquent than I expected he would.

-Gary McPherson is a very witty, charming and intelligent fellow. Slim as his chances may be, his message is an important one and he delivers it well.

-Dave Hancock doesn't seem to like Ted Morton very much.

The part that I enjoyed most about this evening, though, had absolutely nothing to do with the debate.

As many of you know, I have had the opportunity to travel far and wide within the ranks of PC Alberta. I've been to functions in every corner of the province and made some great friends along the way. Given the stellar attendance tonight, I was able to see and chat with or say hi to (however briefly) a great many of them including:

Rob Lougheed, Allie Wojtaszek, Helen Stephenson, Linda Robertson, Jordan Cleland, Alan Hallman, Grant Doyle, Linda Lo, Michael Cooper, Bill Stewart, Brent Rathgeber, Ken Chapman, Leslie Stitt, Bill Shields, Scott Hierath, Tim Shipton, Dave Broda, Evelyn Main, Jim Dinning, Mike Gladstone, Betty Ann Hicks, Dave Hancock, Lloyd Snelgrove, Luke Ouellette, Doug Horner, Rochelle Marshall, Scott Thorkelson, Alison Boychuk, Sara Katz, Wayne Cao, Tim Boston, Joan Hertz-Benkendorf... you get the idea... a LOT of people.

It was great to run into so many friends, although a bit sad knowing that i'm not going to be around some of these folks as much as I have been over the last 8 years or so.

Its corny to some, and downright pathetic to others, but PC Alberta really has become an extended family of sorts for me and they're a big part of what i'm leaving behind here in Alberta.

Its definetly an incentive to consider return at the end of my 2 1/2 years on the Island, for sure.

Friday, September 8, 2006

Alternative perspectives

I share this only for information, and give the hat tip to daveberta for coming across it.

The Tyee is fairly well-read in BC, and has some interesting stuff. Namely, THIS article about Premier Klein.

In sort-of-related commentary, Graham Thomson has an interesting bit with former Premier Peter Lougheed HERE.

Thursday, September 7, 2006

An Albertatory in BC

cross-posted from

Well here I am, a British Columbian.

Some of you are probably wondering how I can say that, given that being Albertan has been so much a part of my identity.

Well that's true, of course. And i'm still very much Albertan at heart. So why am I labelling myself as a British Columbian?

Here's why:

One of the things that drove me nuts in McMurray were people who lived there, but didn't really "live" there. You know what I mean... they didn't care what was going on, spent all their weekends and most of their money out of town, didn't get involved in anything.

I have vowed not to become one of those people while i'm here in Victoria. I may only reside on this beautiful island for a few years, but so long as i'm here, this is my home and I will treat it as such.

That being said, you can be assured that i'll have lots to say about what is going on back in Alberta. Given that, i've decided to keep my original blog, albertatory, operational for those purposes.

So that's the deal... special just for you, my loyal readers. One Blake, two blogs. Alberta stuff on albertatory, BC stuff and life in general on blakeonthecoast.

Hope you enjoy the reads!

Friday, August 25, 2006

A sobering lesson on Iran

One of the advantages of having a satellite radio is that I have news from about 15 different sources at my disposal. On the drive from Vancouver to Kelowna yesterday afternoon I decided that I had had enough music for a while and switched over to the live feed from CNN TV.

The show I tuned into is hosted by Glenn Beck and he was talking about the Iranian threat.

Its somewhat ironic because I was remarking to a friend just earlier at UBC that I was unsure about the idea of "provoking" the Iranians. I'll admit, I hadn't followed the situation that closely and was fairly ill-informed, so I welcomed the chance to listen in on this discussion about Iran.

Talk about an eye-opener.

Now, being on CNN, he was talking directly of a threat against the United States. But as their closest neighbour and an identified target of terror groups like Al-Qaeda, we need to be just as weary as our neighbours to the south.

Luckily, I stumbled upon a transcript of the show. I won't post the entire thing, but i'll provide the following lengthy excerpt (which I urge you to consider as North Americans) for your benefit:

I need you to listen and read these words very, very carefully, "The annihilation of the Zionist regime will come. Israel must be wiped off the map. And God willing, with the force of God behind it, we shall soon experience a world without the United States and Zionism", end quote. That, my friend, is a quote from the president of Iran.

So today, there`s a congressional report, it came out I think yesterday afternoon. It says we need more hard evidence on Iran. Really? I thought that last quote was pretty compelling. You know, Iran wants to vaporize us. Now, the pinheads in Washington are playing politics with it. The Republicans are saying, you`d better pay attention to this. Democrats are saying, all right, please, everybody, just calm down.

You want to know why I take the words of President Tom so seriously; while he might sound crazy, if you remember back in the 1980s, another guy sounded crazy too, when he said things like that, Ronald Reagan. Ronald Reagan sounded crazy to the Soviets when he called them an evil empire. President Tom, just like President Reagan is not bluffing when he promises his people that he will take this empire down.

You know what, look at the cover of this report, that was out. This is the congressional report. See here, is President Tom, he is standing behind a podium that says "A World Without Zionism." Now if you look here, can we bring this up? This is what`s behind him. This is a creepy hourglass, with down at the bottom, this represents the United States. It`s in pieces. You really think these guys are on the up and up?

Look, the point is, there are two kinds of people. There are the kinds of people that make threats and those who make promises. You know the difference in your own lives. If you`re a parent, and you have a kid who is misbehaving, you tell them, you better stop or you`re going to get punished.

The kid will keep misbehaving if you are the kind of parent that never lives up to your promise. You`re just making empty threats. I`m going to spank you, and then you never do. Now when you`re dealing with crazy people, they don`t make threats -- they make promises. You need to take them at their word.

The same thing applies to Iran. The United Nations, they make threats, they don`t make promise. They make threats. "Oh, you`d better stop making those nukes by the end of the month, or there`ll be sanctions." No there`s not. You know it and I know it. I guarantee you, there will be no sanctions.

But back in 1997, Osama bin Laden, he promised us. He promised us he would strike at the heart of the United States and four years later, he made good on that promise. So when President Tom promises that soon, we will experience a world without America, I`m telling you, he means it.

I also know, I`ve done enough homework on these guys to know they are a genuine threat. They`re the real reason we went to Iraq, not weapons of mass destruction, that was good, that was just a sidelight. We went there to crush the head of the snake.

I also, I don`t know, if President Tom will succeed in making his promise come true. The only way he won`t is if we wake up. But our intelligence community is afraid of it`s own shadow. But, you know what, don`t take my word for it, former CIA director, James Woolsey -- he`s here with us tonight. Am I wrong on this, Jim?

JAMES WOOLSEY, FMR. CIA DIRECTOR: No, I think the thrust of what you`re saying is on the money. You know, you`re right about Ahmadinejad. He`s like Hitler. Hitler wrote "Mein Kampf" and he said he was going to establish a 1,000-year Reich and kill all the Jews.

BECK: Right.

WOOLSEY: And people said he`s crazy, so.

BECK: Right.

WOOLSEY: It`s just talk. But it wasn`t just talk. And Ahmadinejad is waiting for the hidden imam to return from the eighth century because he thinks that will help him bring about an end to the world. This guy is really far out there, but he`s far out there in his objectives. It doesn`t mean that he`s not shrewd. Hitler was a really shrewd operator in the `30s, and this guy, you know, the Persians invented chess, and the rulers there in Iran are moving their pieces like Hezbollah and Hamas and Moqtad (ph) al Sadr in Iraq in order to protect their queen, which is their nuclear weapons program.

BECK: We could find ourselves in a position of inaction because our intelligence community -- because of what happened this Iraq -- freaked out, right? They`re afraid of their own shadow.

WOOLSEY: Well, it`s complicated. I think that they have an inclination to talk too much just to what they call controlled assets, that is spies that they`ve recruited and pay. And what they call liaison officers, that is intelligence officers, and friendly intelligence services. And that`s a pretty small share of the world. A lot of people have a reluctance to do what you were just doing, which is read what Ahmadinejad says and take him seriously. He`s got a strategic advisor, named Abase (ph) who says there are 29 sites in America and in the West, which if we take them down we`ll destroy the Anglo-Saxons. You know, there`s some very serious threats against our existing, in Iran today.

BECK: They are absolutely serious. So when you look at all of this stuff and if you were sitting there in your former position, you go into the Oval Office, and you would say what? Mr. President today you must -- fill in the blank.

WOOLSEY: Well, directors of Central Intelligence normally don`t give policy advice, and they really shouldn`t. They ought to say here`s how I see it, as distinct to, what you ought to do. But I think what`s important is that both on the Sunni side of the great divide within Islam, by Al Qaeda and the Wahabis (ph), actually, in Saudi Arabia and the on Shiite side, with Ahmadinejad and the others, there are fanatic movements that are rooted in this world`s great religion. And we haven`t figured out how to deal with theological totalitarianism. We haven`t had to face that in many years. Now, during the Cold War, the Soviets were cynics, their ideology was dead. These are not dead ideologies in what the president calls Islamic fascism. BECK: So what do we do? What would you be recommending?

WOOLSEY: We`ve got to do a bunch of things.


WOOLSEY: One is that we ought to -- I think try to make sure people understand that we`re going to have to combat this kind of ideology much more strongly than we had to deal with the soviet ideology, during the Cold War. This is real trouble because there are young men in streets of Riyadh, and Cairo and some few in Britain and maybe even a few here in the United States that are really signed on to that fanaticism. And it`s a very, very serious problem.

BECK: Sir, I --

WOOLSEY: I think we need to move away from oil.

BECK: Sir, I really only have 10 seconds. If I could get a yes or no answer from you. If we fail in destroying this, globally, do you believe it`s the end of the West?

WOOLSEY: Maybe not the end, but it would be a huge blow to us and we`re going to be struggling with this for decades.

Now i'm not saying I take everything any media outlet says as the Gospel truth, but listening to this sure gave me a wake-up call on the whole Iranian threat.

I'm going to do a little more digging on this file for my own benefit, as should you.

After hearing this, I think we all need to become a lot more informed about Iran and what they can and will do if they get the chance.

And by "we", I mean all freedom-loving people of the world... regardless of where they live... regardless of their cultural background... regardless of their religion.

I, like many, am guilty of having become complacent with regards to the situation in the Middle East. It so dominates our news cycles that many of us are de-sensitized towards the words we hear and, since we haven't seen an attack on North American soil since 9/11, we are increasingly falling back into a false sense of security.

We owe it to ourselves to wise up to this new and real threat, and we need to ensure that our Leaders deal with this threat before the threat comes over to "deal" with us.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Three random things

Good morning everyone. I spent another night in my new home in Victoria last night, off now to Kelowna this morning. As the title suggests, three random thoughts for you today:

-As you can imagine, I (like any good Canadian) enjoy watching the Liberal Party of Canada flushing itself down the crapper for all to see. One of the biggest laughs I got regarding their current state can be found HERE.

-I was thinking last week about what i'd miss about Fort McMurray. At first I thought i'd miss seeing floatplanes coming in and out of the valley, but I soon remembered that I live about 1000 feet away from one of Canada's busiest water runways (to reinforce that, two floatplanes have taken off since I started writing this.

But last night I had to run to Wal-Mart and when I came back outside I noticed how dark it was. Then I realized it.

I'm really going to miss the northern lights.

-Speaking of Wal-Mart, the reason I had to go was to get a shower curtain. Now i'd like to know what idiot thought it would make sense to sell shower curtains with no rings to attach them to a pole. I mean really. If you need a bloody shower curtain, would it not stand to reason that you'd need something to hold it up?

Monday, August 21, 2006

How do these people get elected?

I've been way too busy packing up my house to bother blogging this past week or so. Sure there have been a few issues worth commenting on, like the new entrants to the PC Alberta Leadership Race or Garth Turner's nomination race in Halton, Ontario, but I haven't really been motivated enough to sit down and type something out.

I read something last night, though, that absolutely infuriated me.

When I read, in this CBC article, that Etobicoke Centre (read: Toronto) Liberal MP Borys Wrzesnewskyj is "ashamed to be Canadian", I was absolutely beside myself.

This man, along with the other MPs on the trip, BQ MP Maria Mourani and NDP MP Peggy Nash, have repeatedly talked about "Israel's crimes against humanity" and that PM Harper is "condoning human massacres".


They've been in the Middle East for a few days and suddenly they're experts on what has gone on in the last month or so?

Honestly, its as though they believe that only one side of the story deserves to be heard and, since the tories are with Israel, they have to be against them.

What kind of weak-minded individuals make up their mind with only half (if even that much) of the facts???

William does a much more succinct and thorough job of pointing out the absurdity of the statements being made by the opposition on this trip.

I, for one, am simply agog.

I am NOT, however, embarassed to be a Canadian. If anything, I am proud that Canada has finally removed the fence post that was lodged firmly in our asses and chosen to stand with the only historically democratic nation in the Middle East.

I'm embarassed that people like Borys Wrzesnewskyj get elected to Parliament.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

A veteran retires

News from Edmonton this afternoon that longtime MP John Williams won't seek re-election. I've had the pleasure of talking with Mr. Williams on a number of occaisions and can honestly say that he's one of the good guys.

Canadians owe John Williams a heartfelt thanks for the work he has done on behalf of taxpayers for the last 13 years. I definetly consider myself to be a John Williams fan... the article below explains some of the reasons why:

St. Albert MP Williams to retire from politics (2:00 p.m.)
Published: Thursday, August 10, 2006

John Williams, the Edmonton-St. Albert Conservative MP who led the charge on the Liberal sponsorship scandal, says he is planning to retire from politics.

Williams, 59, said today he wants to leave politics to concentrate on his work with the Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption, which he helped form and chairs.

“My concern for the millions who are destitute caused me to engage parliamentarians around the world and form GOPAC,” he said in a prepared statement.

He said he will continue as MP for the remainder of his term but will not seek re-election.

Originally from Scotland, he came to Canada in 1970, originally to work at the Royal Bank before starting his own accounting firm in St. Albert.

He joined the Reform party in the late 1980s and was first elected as a Reform MP in 1993 for the federal riding of St. Albert, where he owns a 10-acre hobby farm.

He rose to national prominence as chairman of the public accounts committee, which is usually a low-key position that confines itself to arcane rules over spending of public money.

But it was under his watch that the sponsorship scandal broke, putting him in the public spotlight hammering the Liberal government over more than $100 million in taxpayers’ money that vanished to Liberal-friendly ad agencies in Quebec. The scandal is blamed in large part for Paul Martin losing the election this January to Stephen Harper’s Conservatives. Williams was re-elected by a 23,000-vote margin.

He was also an early player in talks between the splinter Reform and Alliance parties to merge with the Conservatives.

The father of two adult sons, he lost his wife of more than 20 years to cancer in 1998.

Wednesday, August 9, 2006

Another roundup

As you may have noticed, the idea of blogging from Las Vegas was a bit of a flop. It shouldn't come as much of a surprise, though... who the hell goes to Vegas to sit in their hotel room and blog?

Anyway, here's a bit of a news roundup:

  • THIS is getting ridiculous. Someone needs to step in and show these people that this is not some kind of third world country, and that we follow the law here. I'm glad to see that Justice David Marshall is trying to do that in the absence (as usual) of leadership from Ontario's provincial Liberals.

  • THIS is unfortunate. While I wouldn't brand myself as a Democrat, i've always thought of Senator Lieberman as a moderate and reasonable individual.

  • THIS is very interesting. I don't know much about Wajid Khan, but he has come across as a reasonable individual the few times i've seen him speak in the House. Its a smart move for Prime Minister Harper, though. In appointing Mr. Khan, he has chosen someone who not only comes from a Muslim background and has an exceptional understanding of the Middle East, but he also has found someone who supports our role in Afghanistan AND someone who is backing a supporter of Israel's right to defend itself for leader of his own party (Joe Volpe). Kudos to the PM, and congratulations and thanks in advance to Mr. Khan for the work he is about to undertake.

  • Speaking of the Israeli-Lebanese conflict, HERE is yet more compelling evidence that all media reports need to be taken with a grain of salt.

  • One of my favourite Liberals, Daveberta, has a post talking about the Federal Liberal leadership candidates' fundraising in Alberta. Percentages aside, I must admit that it sure is nice to have some public accountability/scrutiny for political fundraising numbers at the national level. Regardless of who wins the Alberta PC leadership, I sure hope its something we'll see more of at the provincial level in Alberta.

Wednesday, August 2, 2006

The Big D

Just when I thought I was done for the day, I strolled over to see Will at Noise From The Right. In his latest post, he asks me a fair question which i'll do my best to answer.

Before I get to that, though, there are a couple of points he makes that i'd like to touch on.

For one, there was nothing inconsistent about backing Scott Brison for Leader of the former PC Party of Canada. For those who wanted to see some fresh, bold, and conservative ideas (things like Jump Start 250 and the elimination of ACOA), Scott was clearly the right choice. Yes, we all know that he has since betrayed his conservative roots in favour of a cheap shot at power under the Liberals... I suppose none of us thought to break out the crystal ball back in 2002/03.

True, I gave Scott a hug the last time I saw him, even though to I went over to McLellans' office with the intentions of tearing a strip off of him. I reminded myself of a phrase I often repeated to my PC friends when informing them of my decision to campaign for the Alliance in the 2000 election... "friendship transcends politics." Scott is still a friend, and I think you would find that sentiment resonates with a great number of people who spent the kind of time working with Scott as I did when he was a tory. If that makes us somehow less worthy as human beings in the eyes of "principled conservatives", then so be it.

Sometimes one realizes that life is too short to hold a stupid grudge.

The second piece Will touches on is the "party establishment" within PC Alberta. I have had more than my fair share of run-ins with said establishment and would also love to see them driven from the halls of influence. The people I see as being problematic to our party, though, are not the people who have been identified as "the Calgary mafia". They are primarily based in the Capital region and have very much turned our party into a glorified partisan bureaucracy.

Rather than being his downfall, the Premier's advisors in Calgary were the people who helped shape him into the politician that so many of us loved in the early days. It was when the Premier stopped listening to the Art Smith's and the Scobey Hartley's and shifted his attention to the more career-oriented politicos in the Capital that things started to go south.

I agree with Will that there are a great many people who are content to move "at the speed of Government" who need to go, but I think that their support does not currently with either my candidate or Will's candidate.

Now that that's out of the way, the question William poses for me is "does Dinning enjoy such strong support?"

Until the votes are counted sometime in November, the best anyone can offer is an educated guess based on the opinions of people they talk to. The people I talk to here in Fort McMurray, are a mix of industry and public sector leaders, small business owners, community activists and average folks who work out at one of the plant sites. Those who follow politics at all are, by and large, behind Jim. They like his political and professional resume, and they like the fact he has been up here talking and listening to people in Wood Buffalo about the issues we face.

Is my perception that Dinning has strong support based primarily on the vibe I get here in Fort McMurray? Probably so.

But I wonder what the sentiment is in other communities outside of Edmonton and Calgary?

Aside from Dr. Oberg's sudden departure from caucus, the only story in our local paper regarding any of the PC Alberta leadership candidates occurred when Jim was in town to meet with the RHA, Keyano College, and the Mayor.

The other candidates have rarely been seen to be talking about Fort McMurray issues and, if they have, they certainly haven't been seen up here.

One can open the major papers in Edmonton or Calgary and read about what is quickly becoming an Edmonton against Calgary taint on this entire race. That may sell memberships in Edmonton and Calgary, but it does precious little to advance the real issues facing people in this province.

On his blog, Jim said recently: said all along: "I’ll be a leader for all Alberta. I won't do the Calgary vs Edmonton thing. Nor rural vs urban. Or north vs south. Others might play that games. I'm determined to be a leader for all of Alberta."

Its a sentiment I agree with and one that every leadership candidate should echo.

In talking to a number of MLAs last week (some who are and some who aren't supporting my candidate), I definetly got the feeling that caucus wants this race to heat up and start talking about serious issues rather than fighting over who has who's support or where that support comes from.

I suspect Albertans are beginning to feel the same way.

Leaving for Vegas tomorrow... can you tell i'm killing time?

Another little roundup of odds and ends for you this morning:

  • THIS is very, very good news. The fact that the sick man who did this was allowed as much freedom as he was is very disturbing, and something that I think Vic Toews will be trying to rectify that shortly.

  • THIS was a neat story to see in today's National Post. My family has known Tiger Williams for a number of years and he is every bit as humble and down to earth as the story will have you believe. It sure is nice to see him get some recognition in the oil and gas field.

  • When I commented on this story, I entirely forgot to mention some more good news that comes with it. I have been saying for a couple of years now that, with its newfound prosperity, the biggest threat to the economy of the Northwest Territories is not the climate, or a labour shortage, or anything of that nature. Rather, the biggest threat to the NWT was Ottawa. While provinces like Alberta enjoy full jurisdiction and responsibility of their natural resources and the lands on which they sit, that power does NOT currently lie with the territories. The Conservative government in Ottawa recognizes that the oil, gas, and diamonds that lie within the NWT belong to the people of the NWT and it is they who should manage the resource and reap the benefits. Bravo to whomever spearheaded this through the halls of Parliament, the NWT will be a much greater place because of it.