Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Everybody loves to hate McMurray lately

The following is a copy of a letter I sent to the editors of the Edmonton Journal, the Calgary Herald, and the Lethbridge Herald in regards to recent stories about Fort McMurray:


As someone who was born and raised in Fort McMurray, I never thought I would see the day when my hometown could find some common ground with the city of Toronto. Yet it seems that lately Fort McMurray has become, much like Toronto, the city that everyone loves to pick on.

For years, we have dealt with governments that paid little or no attention to the physical and social infrastructure that was not growing at the same pace as our population and our economy. Now that we are on the radar screen, we often hear people in the south complain about the disproportionate amount of money being spent in our region so that the aforementioned infrastructure can try to catch up to the frantic growth. We have become accustomed to all of this.

But now it seems that jealousy has given way to some rather nasty finger pointing.

Last week, Economic Development Lethbridge made news when it complained that our local Fort McMurray radio stations would not air a series of ads they had recorded to try and encourage people to move to Lethbridge and boost their economy. Rather than focus solely on their positive attributes, these ads also took square aim at the stereotypical lifestyle, high housing prices, and perception of poor community and commercial services in Fort McMurray as reasons why people should leave our city.

Then today we read that Kate Quinn from Edmonton’s Prostitution and Awareness and Action Foundation, along with Edmonton City Councilor Michael Phair, believe that men from Fort McMurray are largely to blame for the prostitution problems in the capital city. They admit that there are no facts or figures to back up their statements, but readily assume that it is men from Fort McMurray who are "spending money wildly, looking for sex on the street".

These attitudes are not only inaccurate, but they are also very mean-spirited and counter productive for our province.

The Lethbridge ads could have projected the same message without demeaning another city, particularly one whose economic prosperity is of such great benefit to all Albertans. To sling mud at another city is in poor taste, shows desperation, and is as likely to fail as it is to succeed.

The comments coming from Edmonton regarding prostitution are also disturbingly inaccurate. Not only do they further the negative stereotype of the "Fort McMurray camp worker", they incorrectly identify the home of these supposed miscreants. Men (and women) who live, work, and pay taxes in Fort McMurray often travel south for more mainstream services such as shopping and entertainment. Those who partake in more elicit services are more likely to be single men who work in Fort McMurray, but are in fact returning "home" to points south for the weekend.

I don’t deny that Fort McMurray is facing problems as we grow, but we are not the only ones facing them. We can certainly appreciate the difficulties that other communities in our province are facing, but please stop trying to blame them on us. We have issues of our own to deal with.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Sheer brilliance

THIS column by Andrew Coyne is nothing short of sheer brilliance, and sums up exactly what this stupid quarrel between the Ottawa Press Gallery and the Prime Minister really is.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Its been a while

Sorry for the lack of recent postings folks, I know how annoying it is when blogs I read aren't updated so mea culpa.

There are a lot of stories worth commenting on, but most of what i'd say has already been said so I won't bother with the duplication this time.

There are, however, two things I want to say.

First, i've noticed that Alberta Liberal leader Kevin Taft seems a LOT more comfortable in his own skin lately. I'm not sounding any warning bells yet, but my party should perhaps start taking him and his party more seriously.

Second, i'm REALLY getting excited about the move to BC. I was out there last week, and i'll be out a few more times before the permanent move happens and it really gets harder and harder to come "home" after each trip.

That said, the "home" question is one i've struggled with lately.

Regular readers will recall a rather bitter post regarding Fort McMurray and the things I won't miss about it. I'll admit I still have days where I feel that way, but a lot of those comments stemmed from my anger at the Fort McMurray stress-induced emergency that my Dad suffered back in March.

There are still things that I won't miss about Fort McMurray... fast/stupid drivers, our ongoing infrastructure woes, a lack of progressive vision for the community, etc. But I will miss the people and the atmosphere that built this city into what it is today. That became evident when I got to play tour guide for some friends last weekend who made their first (and likely only) visit to the Oilsands Capital of the World. For all of the problems we face up here, our story remains an incredible one.

And then there's the flip side.

I am overjoyed to be moving to a place where ideas are constantly being debated by citizens who, in my mind, are far more engaged. I look forward to being in a city where any amenity you could ask for is available, and where service is not a foreign concept. And of course, there's the weather (yes it rains, but you don't have to shovel rain). The downsides, of course, will be the very slow drivers, the higher taxes, and the much stronger presence of hardcore socialism.

My stint in Victoria could prove to be a 2 year learning experience that teaches me how good we have it in Alberta, the start of a long-term residency in BC, or anything in between.

Regardless, i'm looking forward to what lies ahead.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Three things on Bourque today...

Bourque Newswatch is an essential daily visit for all Canadian news junkies like me.

He had 3 stories up today that tweaked my attention so, given my lack of other news, I thought i'd talk about them.


Excellent! As someone who will soon be moving to BC, i'm all in favour of a stronger BC Liberal Party. For those who don't know, there is no real "conservative" provincial party in British Columbia. Rather, BC politics tends to be the NDP versus the "anybody but the NDP coalition of free market supporters". Being firmly planted in the latter category, I intend to join the BC Liberals when I get out to the Island. Yes, I realize I will be working with some federal Liberals, but the potential of a strong BC not run by economic terrorists compells me to help the cause.


Tough cheese, Dalton. McGuinty spent the federal election complaining about how evil conservatives are and how much better off Ontario is under the federal Liberals. He was in part correct, to be fair... Ontario certainly received the vast majority of the government's attention, time, and money... at the expense of every other province. Now that Stephen Harper and Co. are trying to even out the playing field a little, McGuinty cries foul.

Seems to me like Dalton McGuinty's Ontario is in favour of equality, so long as they're first.


This guy's government is soon going to fall, and dramatically I think. All I can say is Thank God he didn't become CPC leader.

Monday, May 8, 2006

Of Flames and Festivals

Ok, so its been a while since I last posted. Sorry. The month of May is particularily hectic... but I promise to try and do better.

Here, then, are some more assorted observations/comments:

I was in Edmonton this past weekend and had the priviledge of attending the Sikh Federation of Edmonton's Vaisakhi celebration at the Jubilee Auditorium. As someone who has a great respect and affinity for the Sikh faith and its followers, I was honoured to have been invited by my good friend Tim Uppal. The celebrations were a great mix of song and dance, as well as recognition of the achievements of Edmonton's Sikh community. Congratulations to all participants and organizers on such a stellar event, and Happy Vaisakhi to all of my Sikh friends!

As I had indicated in earlier posts, this weekend also marked my last meeting as Northeast Regional Director with the PC Association of Alberta. Again, I salute all of my colleagues and wish them the best as they strive to guide our party through the upcoming Leadership race. And as promised, readers can look forward to some more objective posts regarding the race in the weeks to come.

Last week, Keyano College announced that my parents had been named as Keyano's "Distinguished Citizens of the Year". Its a great honour for them, and a well deserved one after so many years of tireless community support. I'm certainly proud of their achievements, and it looks like our community can share that pride!

... congratulations to the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo on the official groundbreaking of the MacDonald Island Redevelopement! When complete, this will be Alberta's largest multi-use recreational facility housing ice surfaces, field houses, a suspended running track, a full-size pool with waterslides, and (nearest to my heart) the brand new Public Library. The groundbreaking event was very well put together and the folks at City Hall are to be commended. The only regret is that certain groups who are opposed to parts of the redevelopment, including the Chamber of Commerce and a certain elected official, chose not to have any representation at this event.

Yes, I know my team lost. As sad as it is, I am now duty-bound as an Albertan to cheer for the Edmonton Oilers. Thankfully, Edmonton is playing a team from California... after that Anaheim disaster, i'll gladly cheer against the Golden State anyday.

Tuesday, May 2, 2006

Plagarizing Rick Mercer

I post this link for three reasons:

1. Michael Ignatieff is a snooty academic. I hate snooty academics.

2. A good friend of mine is a big time Ignatieff supporter and I want to get back at him for his pathetic attempt at a rhetorical partisan assault against our Softwood Lumber deal.

3. Its DAMN funny.


Its Official!


Today staff
Tuesday May 02, 2006

Fort McMurray Today — A longtime Fort McMurray company that provides heavy equipment for construction and mining has been sold to Calgary-based CEDA International Corp.CEDA bought L. Robert Enterprises, effective Sunday.

Leo Robert, who started his company in 1980, provided heavy equipment, truck repairs, welding services, equipment rentals and parts sales to a wide range of industries, including oil and gas, forestry, construction, and mining.

“It was an opportunity for growth for both CEDA and the L Robert Group,” L. Robert group of companies spokesman Blake Robert said this morning.

“We felt that it’s the time to make that move.”

The company has more than 300 employees, who will all be absorbed by the new owner. The L. Robert business will operate as a stand-alone business unit under general manager Gary Ritchie, a 14-year veteran of L. Robert Enterprises.

In terms of operations and structure nothing will change, said a news release this morning, citing L. Robert Enterprises’ “exemplary reputation for quality work and an industry-leading track record for employee safety and customer satisfaction.”

“The acquisition of L. Robert Enterprises is a perfect strategic fit for CEDA. The acquisition adds another complementary product line to our portfolio of services to the benefit of all of our customers,” Randy Boomhour, vice-president of finance and chief financial officer, told Today this morning. “CEDA is dedicated to the goal of being recognized as the premier industrial services contractor in northern Alberta,” he said.

With the acquisition of the L. Robert business, CEDA International’s employee base grows from approximately 1,800 to 2,100 employees.

This acquisition recognizes a growing customer preference to contract with larger industrial maintenance companies with a strong financial profile and a more comprehensive scale of operations to handle large projects, according to the release.

“Customers have historically rewarded both CEDA International and L. Robert for consistently delivering quality, fairly priced products and services while upholding the highest safety standards,” said the release.