Tuesday, February 28, 2006

THIS is why...

To a lot of people in other parties, or not in politics at all, the admiration that I and many of my fellow conservatives hold for Prime Minister Stephen Harper is, well, bizarre.

The Stephen Harper that most people "know" (know being a loose term for perception delivered through most of the mainstream media) is not someone they can feel the can relate to.

To those people, I suggest you READ AND WATCH THIS story on ctv.ca.

If it doesn't sum up the Stephen Harper that i've been proud to support, i'm not sure what will.

Monday, February 27, 2006

How (not) to fail

Whether you live in a small town or a big city, and whether it is experiencing growing pains or economic or social downturn, you need to READ THIS.

Doug Griffiths is one of the smartest people sitting in our Legislature... a beacon of youthful energy and common sense.

Things like How (not) to fail are among the many reasons why, whether you're an ardent follower of Alberta politics or just someone who's concerned about our province's future, you should remember the name Doug Griffiths.

This and that

I've received a number of private comments that I haven't blogged in a while. For that I apologize... we're a little busy up here securing Canada's energy future and all.

Seriously though, i've been waiting for something big enough to warrant a rant. I have yet to stumble upon that, so instead I offer a smattering of opinions for your reading pleasure:

  • I'm VERY happy that the Provincial Government is finally going to twin Highway 63. Infrastructure Minister Lyle Oberg and our MLA Guy Boutilier have delivered on a long-standing promise and I say three cheers to them. I also tip my hat to them for an excellent tete-a-tete with some local Conservatives late last week. It was informative and beneficial for all concerned.

  • I'm not so happy, however, with some rumblings at Wood Buffalo Municipal Council surrounding a proposed project accomodation (read: camp) for construction workers who will be building the massive expansion at MacDonald Island Park. While the mental image of a stereotypical work camp in the middle of town is not appealing, I think there is a great deal of misinformation spreading around. This is NOT to be an open, free-for-all camp where any worker can bunk. It is intended only for the 250 people who will be working on the Mac Island expansion and WILL BE LOCATED on MacDonald Island, adjacent to the work site. Based on the reaction from some people, you would think that they're transferring inmates from the Bowden Institute up here. The facts are simple: There are no rental accomodations/hotels available for a sudden temporary influx of 250 workers for an in-town project. To accomodate them in out-of-town camps will add approximately $8 milllion in cost to the project. We need this expansion soon, and we need it with as little cost overrun as possible... some people seem intent on just the opposite.

  • The men lost at hockey. Big deal. Gretz picked a crappy team and it showed. Get over it. Why? Because, in case you haven't hear, WE WON IN EVERYTHING ELSE.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Misplaced blame

I'm going to start off with a disclaimer: I'm a proud Western Standard subscriber.

I subscribe not just because the magazine has a conservative viewpoint, but because it seems to be unbound by the censorship and thought-policing that plagues so much of Canada's mainstream media.

The Western Standard has been very much in the news for two articles in its two latest issues: one on the Danish cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad, and the other about Premier and Colleen Klein and speculation on the Premier's retirement date.

In the past few days, the magazine has taken much flak from people who have climbed the lately-popular "mole hill of righteous indignation". They claim that the Western Standard is a racist publication. There have been protests and certain outlets have stopped carrying the magazine.

Only in Canada, folks.

First of all, I have a hard time with this suggestion that the Western Standard is run by racists. Its publisher, Ezra Levant, is a proud member of Calgary's Jewish community... which leads one to think that he may just understand the importance of tolerance. Ezra is many things... persistent... intense... staunchly conservative... but this man is quite clearly NOT a bigot, nor does he promote such attitudes.

What people are forgetting in all of this is that the Western Standard is NOT THE SOURCE of the offending material. Rather, they are merely passing it along because of they are part of greater public debates.

Now don't get me wrong, i'm not onside with those who did produce this stuff.

I don't find cartoons mocking a religious figure who is revered by millions of faithful believers to be tasteful... that goes for Muhammad, Buddha, Vishnu, Jesus Christ, etc.

I also find referring to Mrs. Klein as "just another Indian" to be very distasteful... particularily since Mrs. Klein and the Premier have always been very supportive of me personally, even when others were not.

But, as Ezra Levant points out in a well-written blog, if people want to get at the root of the problem, they should start taking issue with the person who drew those Danish cartoons and with the supposed "friend" of the Klein's who made the reference to Mrs. Klein. And i'm obviously not the only one who thinks so, as evidenced here.

Speaking of issues, you should pick up the latest Western Standard.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Three things...

I've been busy and sick this week, so not much time to post. I did want to make a quick comment on 3 things, though:

  • Unless you live under a rock, you should by now know that the infamous cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad have been printed in the upcoming issue of the Western Standard. I had refrained from commenting on it earlier because, frankly, I didn't want to touch the subject. I was, at first, happy that Canadian media chose not to reprint the cartoons. In defending his decision to publish them, though, Western Standard Publisher Ezra Levant made some very good points. I'm now firmly undecided on the issue. Whatever peoples' stance is, I think we can all be glad that Canada's Muslim community has reacted in a relatively calm manner.

  • Who the hell cares? I mean, really. Yes, its very unfortunate that the Vice President accidentally shot a friend and we're all glad he's ok... but where does the media get off bitching that Cheney didn't tell the media soon enough. If I were out hunting and accidentally shot my friend, my first thoughts wouldn't be "geez, I should get the press release started... I wonder how we're gonna spin this"... I think they would be more along the lines of "holy crap I just shot my buddy, God let us save him". Sure, he's the Vice President of the United States... but when it comes to personal things like this I think people would do well to be reminded that he's still human and that he still drinks beer out of the same hand that you and I do.

  • Most importantly, though, a patriarch of my family was laid to rest in Sudbury today. My great uncle Rene Boucher succumbed to a long illness this past Saturday. He was a wonderful man with a fabulous sense of humour and musical talent to match. We all had the chance to see him in October when he was let out of hospital so he could be with us at my grandmother's (his sister) funeral and get once last chat with him. I'll sure miss the guitar at family reunions, but i'm sure that the jam session "upstairs" just got a whole lot more entertaining! Bon voyage mon oncle... votre repos est bien mérité!

Friday, February 10, 2006


Between coughing and weary bones I feel like i'm about 80 years old today, so today's post is going to be brief.

THIS is by far the best article i've read about the Emerson thing yet.

I'm leaving for southern Alberta tonight for a PC Alberta exec meeting tomorrow. Hopefully i'll have some news to report back from that.

Have a nice weekend!

Thursday, February 9, 2006

Silver Linings

I have been asked by many of you to share my thoughts on the appointment of my MP, Brian Jean, as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities.

While it is no secret that I have often found occaision to disagree with my MP, I really and truly see this as a good news story and am happy for Brian.

First and foremost, it is a clear signal that the new government understands the importance of our region to the national economy. In order for us to keep fuelling said national economy, we're gonna need a few things... namely Infrastructure.

Second, the Minister who Brian will work with, the Honourable Lawrence Cannon is a confidante of the Prime Minister. Presumably, this should mean a much more direct line of contact to the PMO and Privy Council as a whole.

Third, Minister Cannon is a respected and experienced parliamentarian in his own right. Being able to work closely with someone of this calibre should prove to be very valuable to Brian, helping him to learn more about the workings of official Ottawa and making him a better MP in the process.

Every MP should embrace learning and growth opportunities such as this, and i'm sure that Brian will do that and gain much from it.

Us and Everybody Else...

Its proof positive that ridgidly ideological CPC members are fast becoming our party's own worst enemy.

While the average Joe and Jane on the street are talking about Wayne Gretzky's possible involvement in Rick Tocchet's alleged gambling ring, Conservatives are still bitching about Emerson and Fortier.

This excludes the CBC, of course, who have seen fit to take the word of Karlheinz Schreiber, someone who is fighting extradition for fraud, as some kind of Holy Gospel.

Word is that Emerson pretty well had the deal on softwood lumber, but still needs to tweak it. Of course that's not the Toronto Red Star's spin on the story, but James Travers (aka Jim Travesty) is Canada's most-read Paul Martin apologist... someone obviously forgot to send him the memo about Paul losing the election.

Take a deep breath people... the world continues to turn as it should.

Tuesday, February 7, 2006

Emerson, Fortier, and the blue-winged vultures

As was expected, last night's news was dominated by the appointments of David Emerson and Michael Fortier to the federal Cabinet.

I have spent a lot of time since 9:30 yesterday morning defending Minister Emerson. I will continue to do so, and will do so cheerfully.

What people don't understand about David Emerson is that he is NOT a politician. Rather, he is someone who got into public life because he saw a problem that he wanted to try and fix from inside government (softwood lumber). Minister Emerson, although he has run under a party banner and spun the usual partisan platitudes during that time, is really not a Liberal... nor is he a Conservative. He's a pragmatist.

When I explain it to people here in Fort McMurray, I liken it to having someone like Eric Newell in Cabinet. Eric Newell was the CEO of Syncrude Canada Ltd for many years. He is a renowned philanthropist and one of the most respected non-partisan advocates on public policy issues in the country. In essence, the kind of person you want to see in government no matter what stripe they take on.

And to all the naysayers, it IS different than Belinda. Belinda Stronach joined a government that was about to be defeated and saved its parliamentary bacon. She got into public life because, like the contest that Stronach-owned Magna Corp. runs for students, she wanted to be the Prime Minister. Minister Emerson has repeatedly stated he has no leadership aspirations at all. Rather, he's in this to fix the softwood issue. (As an aside, some people suggest that Belinda got into politics to work on economic issues... compare her record on economics as a Minister to Emerson's record on softwood lumber as a Minister and that weak argument quickly goes down the toilet).

I know the complaints about Minister Emerson will continue for a while, but I suspect people will be pleasantly surprised when they see what he is capable of under a government that is more supportive of his efforts.

The situation with Michael Fortier is much trickier.

I certainly understand the rationale behind the need to have a Montreal-area Minister, and i'm not sure there are any better options (other than appointing a Minister from nowhere near Montreal)... but this one will be a lot harder to justify in the eyes of the public.

Still... if Minister Fortier can prove himself to be both a capable Minister on the Public Works file as well as a strong and effective voice for Montreal, this one may blow over too.

To me, the most disconcerting thing surrounding these appointments is the complete and total ignorance of a great many in my own party.

Standing up on this mole hill of righteous indignation seems to be en vogue at the moment, but it certainly doesn't help our cause.

We've been in opposition so long that seeing the forest for the trees is a very foreign concept to some, and its something to nip in the bud.

Do I wish Minister Emerson had run as a Conservative? Yup.

Do I wish that Minister Fortier had run, period? Yup.

But they didn't.

They DID, however, answer the call of the Right Honourable Stephen Harper to serve their country as he saw fit.

Now I don't expect the Harper naysayers to get on board with these decisions... it would be far too much to expect from people who would make a national story out of what the Harper's had for dinner.

But I DO hope that those of us who have faith in Stephen Harper to try and think a bit more pragmatically about this, and see how it'll benefit us in the long run.

Some tories are saying that this is a crucial and possibly fatal misstep on the part of a day-old government. I disagree.

I think if the naysayers want to truly discover what our party's worst enemy looks like, they need to pick up a mirror.

Monday, February 6, 2006

Thoughts on the new Cabinet...

So the new Cabinet is out and all the pundits are talking.

I'm going to throw my two cents in on a number of new Ministers, but not all (some of them are pretty natural fits with no real comment needed).

Government House Leader and Minister of Democratic Reform
Minister Nicholson is an excellent choice for the House Leader post as an experienced parliamentarian. The Democratic Reform portfolio going to an Ontarian should bode well for the success of the reform package.

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister for ACOA
My first thought is to be happy that Minister MacKay will be spending much time outside of Canada, but on such a good day even I can be positive about this man. He's an able Minister and will represent us well as a firm but fair voice on the world stage.

Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Pacific Gateway and 2010 Olympics
Like Prime Minister Harper, I have always been impressed with Minister Emerson. It has been said that he is a person who "likes the job, but doesn't like the politics". He served Canada well as Industry Minister, and will continue to serve us well as Minister of International Trade, particularily with a more supportive team behind him.

President of the Treasury Board
This department deals most directly with the public service and thus a Capital Region MP will be well suited to Treasury Board. Minister Baird is also a proven talent in Government, and will be a huge asset to the Conservative team.

Minister of Public Safety
No surprise that Minister Day is in cabinet. I personally believe that the same zero-tolerance attitude towards terrorism and rogue states that may have made him a liability as Foreign Affairs Minister will make him an exceptional Minister of Public Safety. I, for one, feel much safer under Stockwell Day than I did under Anne McLellan.

Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food
Glad to see Minister Strahl in cabinet... I would suspect Peter Milliken is as well, since it clears the way for him to be re-elected as Speaker of the House. Minister Strahl will be an excellent voice for farmers in Canada, and should preside over some very positive changes at the Canadian Wheat Board. I do have to laugh, though, as I suspect that much of what is grown in Minister Strahl's Fraser Valley riding isn't legal.

Minister of Citizenship and Immigration
I am very happy to see Minister Solberg take on this role. Some of the less well-informed in Central Canada may be bothered by the fact that this portfolio didn't go to an urban, Central Canadian MP. But let's look at facts, Alberta is becoming the destination of choice to thousands of skilled immigrants every year and it will be helpful for us to have a voice in this department. Also remember that Minister Solberg's hometown of Brooks is fast becoming a very multi-cultural community, so this file is not foreign to him (pardon the pun).

Minister of the Environment
Again, to the Central Canadian intelligentia this may be a surprise. Its important to note, though, that the Green Party consistantly does well (relatively) in Alberta. Environmental issues are front and centre in Alberta, and a strong voice such as Minister Ambrose's will serve this department well.

Minister of Natural Resources
To me, this is an important portfolio. The Natural Resources file has a great impact on Alberta and its residents. This department has not had a decent Minister since Anne McLellan held the post in the early 90s... and has not had a COMPETENT Minister since the Liberals took office. Minister Lunn is able and eager, and I believe will be a breath of fresh air for the resource community in Canada.

President of the Queen's Privy Council, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and Minister for Sport
This was the third biggest surprise of the day. Minister Chong is a very, very intelligent person and will bring much to this portfolio. It will also provide him with an exceptional opportunity to work with and learn from Prime Minister Harper, who will likely be doing a lot of the heavy lifting on the Intergovernmental Affairs file.

Minister of Public Works and Government Services
Although the appointment of Minister of Fortier will provide some challenges, having an experienced voice for Montreal was essential and the Prime Minister has obviously come to the same conclusion. Having a Quebecer as Minister of this department will also show that not all federalists are corrupted by power and influence.

Minister of National Revenue and Minister for Western Economic Diversification
I don't have much to say about this, other than i'm really REALLY happy for Carol :)


Diane Ablonczy
This is everyone's big let down. I realized that a lot of very qualified people like Rahim Jaffer, James Rajotte, Jason Kenney would not make it to cabinet simply because of size and regional issues. But I really thought Diane had everything going for her... she was a woman, an able senior critic, an experienced and respected parliamentarian... everything you look for in a Cabinet Minister. I'm not sure what the Prime Minister has planned for her, but he does owe her something big... she sure took one for the team this morning.

Jay Hill
Another experienced and loyal foot soldier, I suspect Jay Hill became victim of regionalization. I suspect that he will also be awarded something in the days to come, although i'm not sure this stings him quite as badly as it does Ms. Ablonczy.

James Moore
I thought James had a lot going for him, particularily given that he was the most high-profile Conservative elected (as a Conservative, anyway) in the Lower Mainland. I speculated that his age may have been a factor, but there are a number of other young Ministers appointed today so that likely wasn't an issue. So what cost James Moore a seat at the table? Two words... David Emerson. And as much as I like and respect James, that's a tough call to argue with. James will maintain a high profile, though, and is most likely being groomed for the next Cabinet. Time is on his side, and there are still many great things to come for him.

Sunday, February 5, 2006

The "maybes"...

There is a lot of speculation going on about who will be announced as part of Prime Minister Harper's cabinet tomorrow.

Many names are almost a given. People like Peter MacKay, Rona Ambrose, Tony Clement, Jim Flaherty, John Baird, Diane Ablonczy, and Lawrence Cannon are almost certain to obtain high-profile postings tomorrow.

But there are a lot of "maybes" out there too... i'd like to tell you about four of them.

JAMES MOORE is the MP for Port Moody-Westwood-Port Coquitlam, a suburb of Vancouver. Of the four "maybes" I talk about, James is likely the most certain. The only thing going against James may be his age (barely or not even 30). That said, he has proven himself to be a most capable and competent critic in whatever portfolio he has been assigned since his election in 2000. He is also an exceptional voice for the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. Furthermore, he definetly appeals to the more socially progressive wing of the party... one that will need some showcasing during this test-run before Canadians decide to give us a majority.

CAROL SKELTON is the MP for Saskatoon-Rosetown-Biggar and another member of the class of 2000. Carol is a favourite MP for me, and is consitantly voted one of the most hard-working MPs on the hill. She's a very intelligent woman with a warm and outgoing personality, ideally suited to a social ministry.

GARY LUNN has been the MP for Saanich-Gulf Islands, BC since 1997. Another able critic, Gary is our strongest voice from Vancouver Island. Ability and geography should work in Gary's favour in the cabinet selection.

BETTY HINTON is another MP from the class of 2000, having defeated longtime NDP MP Nelson Riis in the Kamloops area. Of my four "maybes", i'll admit Betty is the least likely to be sworn in as a Cabinet Minister tomorrow. That said, she's got a few things going for her. She's certainly one of the most capable women in caucus, and has earned the trust and respect of parliamentarians from all parties when she served as Deputy Speaker. Like Carol Skelton, Mrs. Hinton is a very friendly and warm person who would have the ability to put a human face on the cold and unfeeling workings of government.

The man is after us again.

Yet another sign of shameful eastern oppression.

No, i'm not talking about Liberals or Democrats.

I am, of course, talking about THIS.