Monday, December 31, 2007

Auld Lang Syne

Well here it is folks, my last post of 2007. I thought it was important to get to the computer and jot a few things down before our visitors (all 30 of them!) arrive for New Year's Eve celebrations.

As I sit here in my father's office at the family home in Kelowna, I can't help but think that i'm perfectly positioned for the transition to 2008.

Geographically speaking, I am almost smack in the between the world i've known for the past 18 months (Victoria) and the world i'm returning to soon (Calgary). During my time here I have often found myself torn between those two worlds, so its fitting that i've spent so much time here in the Okanagan this year.

The year has been a rather eventful one.

Trying to adjust to life in a place that's different from Alberta (and I mean REALLY different) has been a challenge. I use the word challenge because I think it denotes both the positive and negative aspects of the adjustment. Negative in that it became clear over time that, while I enjoy visiting, Vancouver Island isn't a place where I can settle down. But positive in the sense that it has crystallized a few things for me. I also leave the Island with a number of new friendships that I expect will carry on for some time to come. And, for as much as they can drive me nuts, living alongside your typical Vancouver Islander has certainly helped me better understand what drives the other side of the political spectrum.

In keeping with the theme of discovery, I was able to take my first overseas trip this year. Even though my destination, London, was less of a culture shock than other places would have been, it was still a moving experience. No matter the similarities, there was still the undeniable feeling that I was in a completely different part of the world. Those of who with experience travelling abroad know what I mean. To those of you that don't... DO. Whatever it costs you to get on that plane, its worth it to come back with a suitcase full of memories and a better perspective of the world we live in.

Politically speaking, its been quite a year. Ups and downs, left and right. You've heard it all from me through this blog so i'm not going to bother rehashing it. Why?

Because for as much as travel and politics and all that other jazz matters, sometimes it doesn't matter at all.

I say this because, for all the things that have happened this year, none were more important than events surrounding my family and friends. I watched one of the most intelligent people I know walk down the aisle with, truly, the woman he was born to be with. I have shared in the joyous news that a few more of those special people in my life will be walking down that same aisle next year. And, best of all, I found out that my little sister was going to give me a brother-in-law to terrorize AND a niece/nephew to spoil in 2008. This is what its really all about.

So what do I hope for in 2008?

Politically speaking, I obviously hope for election victories for both Premier Ed Stelmach and, should Canada go to the polls, for Prime Minister Stephen Harper. I have great respect for both of these men and their visions for the province and the nation. In the broader sense, I hope for a return to a more civil tone in the national discourse that goes on in Ottawa. I realize that no one party is guilty or innocent when it comes to the horrendous behaviour in the House of Commons, but I sure hope that the rabble rousers on all sides grow up and remember they are conducting the people's business.

In the blogosphere, I hope that more people with well-thought opinions choose to join this vast online community. I also look forward to continued interaction and the occaisional battle of wits with those who care so passionately about the future of Alberta, namely Dave, Will, Ken, Allie, Duncan, and the mysterious man from Calgary.

On the lighter side, I hope for a Royal Bank Cup for my hometown Fort McMurray Oil Barons, a Stanley Cup for the Calgary Flames, and a Super Bowl for the Seattle Seahawks. And, if the Seahawks can't have the Super Bowl... I hope that the Patriots are equally denied.

Most of all, though, I hope for good health and happiness for all my friends (that's you) for the coming year. Because, when the dust settles, that's really all that matters.

Company's here, I gotta run.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Something to think about

An interesting thought crossed my mind after reading a post from Ken Chapman today.

Ken muses about the need for a federal election in the first half of 2008. Ken, as those of you who read him will know, is no fan of the Conservative Party of Canada or Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Fair enough... Ken is certainly entitled to his opinion. While it is rare that someone in Alberta supports the Liberal Party of Canada AND PC Alberta, it is not unheard of and its well-known in federal conservative circles.

You'll recall that, a while back, I noted that Kevin Taft's extraordinary attempts to distance the provincial Liberal party from their federal cousins had the potential to do more harm than good. Duplication of volunteers, after all, could only help the Liberal cause in Alberta.

Ken's post on the need for a federal election next year got me thinking, though, about potential implications for the PC Alberta campaign.

Should Stephane Dion choose to bring down the federal government around the same time as our expected February/March election in Alberta he likely won't be doing himself any favours. He may, however, be giving his buddy Kevin Taft a hand.

Having been quite active with both the provincial and federal conservative parties in Alberta, I can tell you first hand that there are far more people who put a greater priority on the federal party than they do on the provincial party. Moreover, those who work primarily with the feds have much more access to technology and the latest campaign strategy than has been available through PC Alberta in the past.

This hasn't been an issue in recent memory. Provincial and National campaigns have occured within 6 months of each other, but they haven't overlapped in quite some time. Moreover, the days when the federal and provincial parties shared a deep-seeded organizational and structural link are no more. The greatest collusion between provincial and federal conservatives these days is at the grassroots level, where volunteers are often doing double duty.

Although there is no clear way to measure how someone with a busy schedule will prioritize their campaign volunteering, there are a few litmus tests. Specifically how much popular support does each party have, and; how much money does each party raise?

The answer to the first question is easy to find. In the 2004 Provincial Election, 417902 Albertans cast a ballot for PC Alberta for a total of 46.8% of the popular vote. In the 2006 Federal Election, 931701 Albertans cast a ballot for the Conservative Party of Canada for a total of 65.03% of the popular vote.

The second question is difficult to answer, given that there is no simple way to track party contributions provincially in Alberta. Still, though, it is pretty well-accepted that the federal conservatives have a wider donor base.

Of course, these numbers are not static. Circumstances change from day to day, nevermind election to election. Still, though, they paint the picture as best they can.

There may be some in provincial circles who may want to ignore the possibility of overlapping campaigns either because its beyond our control or because they do not support the federal party altogether. That's the wrong attitude. We have a new leader and a new message, but we NEED people to help us get that message across.

The important thing will be for the powers that be in the PC Alberta campaign to recognize this potential risk and plan for it.

Complacency is no longer an option.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Post-Christmas Roundup

Hello friends! I hope everyone had an enjoyable Christmas surrounded by family and friends.

Its been a week since I last posted and, although the provincial news cycle is slow, there are still a few things to offer comment on.


First of all, the assassination of Benazir Bhutto is an absolute tragedy and will likely have serious implications not only for Pakistan, but for the rest of the world as well.

Ken Chapman has an excellent post on this today. He nails a point that I was pondering last night. Being of a younger generation, I can't help but think that historic events have a way of repeating themselves. 9/11 is our Pearl Harbor, the Challenger disaster is our Hindenberg tragedy, and, perhaps, Benazir Bhutto is our JFK.

If nothing else, she was Pakistan's JFK.

Godspeed Ms. Bhutto... and thank you for everything you did for your homeland. May your struggle never be in vain.


This is old news, but I did want to offer my two cents on a bit of a controversy going on in Calgary Montrose.

Northeast Calgary politics are known for being divisive and controversial and Montrose is no exception. In 2004, Gus Barron was disqualified from running in Montrose's PC nomination. He subsequently sued the Montrose PC Association. Barron won the initial lawsuit before having it overturned by the Alberta Court of Appeal. The Montrose PC Association, however, was stuck paying its own legal bills. The constituency association, like every other one in the province, is made up of dedicated volunteers who selflessly offer their services to the party.

PC Alberta has refused to cover the legal bills for Calgary Montrose, totally some $180,000. Calgary Montrose is not, by any means, an affluent area. Were this to happen in another part of the city, it would just be a drop in the bucket. In Montrose, however, this is big bucks. It has gotten to the point where some people named in the original lawsuit may have to sell their homes to pay legal bills. Legal bills which stem from their work on behalf of and, some have suggested, at the direction of the party.

This is shameful and totally unacceptable.

Duplicitous double standards may have been the mark of some people who used to run PC Alberta, but we have all been led to believe that this has changed under the new regime. If the party can step in and do the right thing in Calgary Egmont, surely it can do the same in Calgary Montrose.

Anything less will be a slap in the face to each and every person who volunteers for PC Alberta.


I have often said that when Keith Brownsey predicts something, expect the opposite.

Motor mouth Brownsey is at it again this week. While Premier Stelmach talks about the possibility of an Alberta Pension Plan to supplement the greatly-depleated CPP, Brownsey suggests the Premier is fear mongering and that its "absolute nonsense to say it won't be there when young people eventually retire."

Brownsey says people of my generation have nothing to fear surrounding the future of the CPP.

That's reason enough for me to up my RRSP contributions.


Talking about the Premier and looking ahead, its nice to see that he's taking a thoughtful approach to the possibility of nuclear energy for Alberta.

The nuclear decision is a major one with myriad positive and negative aspects. Jumping into any stance would be foolhardy for the government.

People ask why i've come to like "the new guy". Clear and careful planning, as evidenced by how he's dealing with the nuclear question, is a big part of my answer.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Troops, Trains, Reporters and Writ Drops

As many of you know, i'm a staunch supporter of our Canadian Armed Forces. I always consider the difficult tasks they are presented with and extend sincere gratitude to them and their families.

During the holiday season, many people complain about the rigours of shopping, travel, and dealing with the crowds that come with both. While these are inconveniences, they pale in comparison to our brave men and women who are unable to be with their loved ones this Christmas.

This was reinforced for me this morning when, while watching Newsnet, a fellow I went to high school with came on the screen as part of the "Christmas Wishes from the Troops" series that runs on many networks at this time of year.

If you know someone who serving our country, be sure to thank them for their service over the holidays... especially if they are away from their family and friends. Consider using the Canadian Forces' Morale by Messageboard program to send your appreciation to those who proudly fly the Maple Leaf while trying to make the world a better place.

For my part, I extend sincere thanks and a hearty Merry Christmas to Captain Bill Thomey onboard the HMCS Charlottetown and everyone of the brave Soldiers, Sailors, and Airmen who are away from their loved ones this Christmas!


In other news...

This item from 630 CHED suggests that the idea of a high speed rail link between Edmonton and Calgary is gaining support with Premier Stelmach. The environmental argument is a difficult one to counter and will go a long way in helping shore up public support should it be persued.


Turning to the federal scene, there is a fascinating saga unfolding regarding collusion between CBC reporters and the Liberal Party of Canada. Stephen Taylor and Steve Janke have both done excellent work in helping to bring things to light.

One of the most intriguing bits is that Pablo Rodriguez, the Liberal MP who asked the supposed CBC-written questions, asked them in rehearsed, lawyer-precise English. In the House of Commons, Monsieur Rodriguez speaks French almost exclusively.

C'est bizarre, non?


Finally, Prime Minister Harper has called 4 byelections for the spring.

Up for grabs are Toronto Centre and Willowdale in Ontario, Vancouver Quadra in BC, and Desnethe-Missinippi-Churchill River in Saskatchewan.

I suspect the Liberals will have a lock on both the Ontario seats (and add to their internal bickering once Bob Rae gets into the House of Commons).

Vancouver Quadra, although traditionally Liberal, may be more of a fight than people expect given that the Conservative candidate, Deborah Meredith, won a hard-fought nomination against a high profile challenger. She'll also be running against Liberal Joyce Murray, whose greatest claim to fame was a single, exceptionally lacklustre term as the MLA for New Westminster in Gordon Campbell's first government.

Desnethe-Missinippi-Churchill River will be the most interesting to watch. This seat was held by Liberal Gary Merasty until he quit earlier this year. Mr. Merasty, you will remember, barely won the seat in a shroud of controversy after some exceptionally high turnouts at polls that usually see little or not votes cast at all.

Anyway, there appears to be a fight brewing between my old buddy David Orchard and Ralph Goodale. Orchard is contesting the nomination and wants to be the Liberal candidate. Ralph, meanwhile, is reportedly touting current NDP MLA Joan Beatty as a potential appointee, thus quashing Orchard's hope.

As a conservative, i'm going to enjoy watching this no matter how it plays out.

If a contested nomination goes ahead and Orchard wins it, Stephane Dion and the Liberal Party are going to have their work cut out for them in trying to tame the organic, free-range beast that is David Orchard.

If the nomination is quashed and Beatty is appointed, the Liberals will face the wrath of David Orchard and his small army of fringe activists who can't really be counted on to "do the right thing" by accepting the party's decision... particularily since Orchard delivered a sizeable chunk of votes to Dion during the leadership race. PLUS, we get to hold Beatty to account for having run and won as a provincial MLA just SIX WEEKS AGO!

Liberals are painting these byelections as a opportunity for Dion to save some face. I disagree. No one expects him to lose the Toronto seats anyway... but they also don't expect him to lose Quadra, which may happen. Add to that the drama unfolding in Northern Saskatchewan, and Stephane Dion may end up wishing he could tuck himself into his backpack and be carried away from the whole mess.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I'm packing, so read these instead ;)

Quickly, before I hop the plane tomorrow morning, I wanted to share 3 interesting reads from today's Alberta-based Canwest papers...

First is a year-end interview with Energy Minister Mel Knight, the man who so ably shows why Hugh MacDonald shouldn't pump gas, let alone be an Energy critic.

The second is an excellent piece about Canadian/Albertan greenhouse gas emissions from the Journal's business writer Gary Lamphier.

The third is a bit of a retirement piece on Lyle Oberg courtesy of Don Martin, a man who spent a great deal of the Klein era covering the Legislature and has more than a few stories to tell.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Winding down for the Holidays

Hope you all had a lovely weekend. I, admittedly, enjoyed a little too much of the Christmas spirit(s) on Saturday night... but t'is the Season, right?

I leave for Christmas Holidays with my family in Kelowna later this week. I'll still be near the computer but, given the traditional slow news cycle over the Holidays, i'm not sure how often i'll be posting.

Given that, I want to leave you with three quick items today:


I hate to keep talking about this guy and his crew but the more publicity they get, the more people realize that these guys really are lunatics.

The latest development is that he and members of his team will be running as Independents or as candidates for either the Wildrose or Alberta Alliance parties in four Calgary and area constituencies.

In addition to Craig running as an Independent in Calgary Egmont, they are:

-Jim Blake, Chandler's Communications Chair during the nomination and National Chairman of Concerned Christians Canada, will run either as an Independent or for the Wildrose Party in Calgary Currie.

-Sid Helishauer, a Chandler volunteer during the nomination and National Business Club Chair for PGIB, will run as an Independent or for the Alberta Alliance in Airdrie-Chestermere.

-Harley Shouldice, Chandler's Campaign Manager during the nomination and the Chief of Staff at PGIB, will run as an Independent in Calgary North Hill.

-David Crutcher, Chandler's GOTV Chair during the nomination and the recently ousted President of the Calgary Egmont PCs, will run as an Independent or for the Alberta Alliance in Calgary Glenmore.

These guys obviously take themselves way more seriously than anyone else does if they believe they're going to have any impact.

The fact that they can't even decide which fringe party to run for and, even more telling, the fact that the fringe parties don't seem to want to have much to do with them is a pretty clear indication that, much to their chagrin, their 15 minutes of fame is just about up.


This piece in the National Post paints a very interesting and accurate portrayal of what goes on in a political family. It also gives you a bit of insight into one of the most decent people I know.


Finally, but most importantly...

Friday, December 14, 2007

The highway

Highway 63, the main road to my hometown of Fort McMurray, is again in the news.

It hasn't been a stellar winter thus far when it comes to road safety on 63. Sadly, a number of people have lost their lives travelling to and from Fort McMurray.

The opposition and angry columnists are keen to place the blame on the provincial government for not doing enough.

Liberal Leader Kevin Taft is demanding that a clear end-date be provided with regards to the completion of Highway 63.

Edmonton Sun Columnist Neil Waugh has a lengthy missive about what he believes is a complete failure on the part of government to move the project along.

Both Neil and the Liberals have suggested that precious little work has been done on twinning the highway.

First of all, I doubt that either Kevin Taft or Neil Waugh drive Highway 63 on a regular basis. Although the last time I was on the highway was over a year ago, I remember noting great progress compared to the highway we used to know.

Let's take a look at the list of major provincial highway projects. There are 15 separate items on the wish list for Highway 63.

Admittedly, things are not moving as fast as anyone would like. Ideally, we could just plunk down a new twinned highway tomorrow. Kevin Taft and his party may think this is possible, but most Albertans know better.

Highway 63 is certainly over-taxed when it comes to the volume of traffic it serves and twinning will be an important part of improving its safety.

What scared me far more when I was a regular user of 63, though, was the reckless and careless manner in which so many drivers operated their vehicles... particularily during poor winter weather.

Highway 63 sees a far greater incidence of excessive speed, dangerous passing, and drunk driving than other highways.

To cut down on this, the police have stepped up Checkstops and patrols on 63. The provincial government has also brought on highway traffic sheriffs to help crack down on dangerous drivers.

These measures help, but more can be done. Namely, by those that drive Highway 63.

The twinning is happening, but it's a massive undertaking that will take several years. In the meantime, drivers need to take personal responsibility for their actions on the road. Its not only their lives they put at risk.

The companies who employ workers who make their living in the oilsands but make their home elsewhere also have a role to play. Make sure your employees aren't getting behind the wheel in a state unfit to drive. Provide transportation if possible, fewer vehicles with overtired or intoxicated drivers are always a good thing.

Finally, residents of Fort McMurray need to realize that, if the weather on the highway is poor, having to spend the weekend at home isn't a bad thing. Sure, it may mean missing out of that shopping trip, hockey game, or concert in Edmonton, but its not worth the risk when the roads are in bad shape. Shopping locally, watching the game on TV, or listening to your iPod won't kill you.

McMurrayites have long complained about the need for twinning Highway 63. Finally, they have been heard and are getting results as quickly as can be expected given the scope of the project.

A twinned Highway 63 is what McMurray needs.

What it does not need is duplicitous lip service from columnists eager to sell papers or opposition politicians who (falsely) think they can gain a seat in the legislature.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The power of positive-ish thinking

Its a bit of a ho-hum Wednesday, but a good friend and faithful reader forwarded me an article i'll share with you.

I pass this along to you mainly because of this stellar quote from Kevin Taft:

"Listen, in 102 years the government of Alberta has changed three times. The odds of it happening in the next election aren‘t great. But it will happen sooner or later"

Talk about an optimistic outlook, eh Kev?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

End-of-session review: A tale of two parties

With the fall sitting of the Alberta Legislature now behind us, Albertans have two distinct version of events at their disposal.

The first comes from Premier Stelmach himself.

The Premier held a news conference outlining the progress made based on the mandate letters issued to the new Ministers when they were sworn in last year. A handy pdf document details items in the mandate letters and the progress made on said files.

The document is everything you'd expect from the Premier, detailed and well-planned.

Meanwhile, the Liberal caucus have released their own version of events this past year and it, naturally, paints a much different picture.

Needless to say, a quick read of this piece proves once again that any sane, reasonably pragmatic person left the Alberta Liberals when Laurence Decore quit. I'm not going to debunk this entire left-wing leaflet, but I will be happy to take on a few items:

In addition to the usual nonsense about making Mel Knight resign, the Liberals take a shot at the government for allowing bitumen to be shipped to the United States for development.

Interesting. Perhaps they have forgotten that the new royalty framework includes a ‘bitumen-in-kind’ principle to encourage more of our resources to be upgraded in Alberta.

We all want to create more value-added industries when it comes to our oil here in Alberta, but do the Liberals think Mel can just snap his fingers and make new upgraders appear?

Interestingly, the Liberals criticize the government for not "looking for opportunities to work with our western neighbours to form an energy partnership"... yet just a few paragraphs later, slam the government for passing the Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA) through the legislature.

You'd think a party that was once referred to as the political wing of the Alberta Teachers Association would have lots to say on this, right?

Wrong. Their criticism of the department headed by Ron Liepert has a grand total of 14 words about children with special needs.

I wonder why they're so sheepish about education?

Could THIS have something to do with it?

The Liberals point out that several day cares have closed due to lack of staff because wages in this sector are low.

Fair point, maybe that's why Janis Tarchuk gave child care providers a huge shot in the arm this spring.

The Minister's mandate letter includes a line about expanding the capacity of Alberta's highway system to address growth pressures.

The Liberals say that road capacity and quality don't address growth pressures.

Really? So we should stop the twinning of Highway 63 then? Kill the ring roads in Edmonton and Calgary, perhaps? I'm sure Luke Ouellette will get right on that.

Get real.

Throughout their end-of-session critique, the Liberals are short on substantial criticism and even shorter on their proposed alternatives (almost nil).

Kevin Taft and the Liberals may have thought this thing was a good communications idea, but a closer read just shows Albertans more compelling evidence that the Liberals aren't even much of an opposition, let alone a government-in-waiting.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

One housecall the Doc won't be making anymore

I got word late on Friday night from a very reliable source that the rumours surrounding Lyle Oberg's departure were accurate.

Movement on the newswires confirms this.

The story on the wire seems to lend strength to the suggestions that Lyle wasn't really getting along terribly well with caucus, his cabinet colleagues, or the Premier. With a cabinet portfolio comes the expectation that you're going to be a team player. It would appear as though this wasn't the impression left on the Premier.

Personality issues aside, the job of an MLA and a Minister is a difficult and often thankless one. Dr. Oberg should be thanked for his nearly 15 years of public service. I'm sure the people of Strathmore-Brooks appreciated having such a forceful voice representing them in Edmonton.

The Strathmore-Brooks PC Association will likely be holding a new nomination meeting in January. It will be interesting to see who steps forward to fill the shoes of one of the most colourful politicians in the history of the Alberta Legislature.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Retirements, Redundancies, and Relocations

Rumours are starting to swirl about a possible announcement by Finance Minister Lyle Oberg that he has decided not to seek re-election in the upcoming election.

Rick Bell's column (linked above) suggests that this may be the result of the good Doctor being taken to the proverbial woodshed one too many times. Ken Chapman also takes a critical look at the member for Strathmore-Brooks in his latest post. I suspect we'll be reading more about this in the days ahead.

If it IS true that he's leaving, there could be any number of reasons. Lyle has been splitting his time between family in Brooks, family in Sherwood Park, and his duties as a Minister. That takes a toll on anyone and it could well be that he's simply choosing to get out to cut down on that strain. Of course, the woodshed argument is entirely possible, too.

One thing is for sure, Lyle doesn't have much of a poker face.

Whatever the reason for a departure may be, it'll be pretty obvious from his demeanour at this anticipated announcement.


Of all the areas of public policy that I find myself caring about, the most boring is probably issues surrounding license plates.

Ever since I was a child, i've had some bizarre interest in plates (as well as an uncanny knack for remembering people's plate numbers). I started thinking a few years ago that I can't ever remember the Alberta plate looking any different than it does now and that perhaps it was time for a change.

Imagine my joy, then, when Service Alberta Minister Lloyd Snelgrove announced that his department was going to begin a consultation on the future of the Alberta license plate.

(Hard to believe I can't get a date, I know...)

One item in the consultation, which you should all take a few minutes to do, ponders a return of the front license plate.

I think this is a colossal waste of money.

Prudish defenders of bureaucracy, though, are lining up in favour.

In a recent blog post, Graham Thomson details a speech given by Liberal MLA Mo Elsalhy during the marathon sitting of the Legislature. The post is a good reminder that Graham Thomson is the best unpaid spin machine the Liberals have, but that's another matter.

In his speech, Mr. Elsalhy justifies the need for a return to a two-plate system by explaining that places like BC have cameras that can identify a vehicle and determine if the owner is wanted for any number of things from a crime to child support arrears. This kind of a system alerts the police and allows them to stop the vehicle a little further down the road.

I actually don't think this is a particularily bad idea. And the cost of $100,000 as quoted by the Liberal member isn't at all unreasonable.

Here's the thing, though:

The camera is pointed at oncoming traffic to capture front plates in BC, right?

If we implement a similar system, couldn't we just turn the cameras the other way to capture the rear plates that we already have?

More brilliance from your Liberal "Shadow Ministers", folks.


Finally, a note about the labour shortage in Alberta.

Federal Human Resources Minister Monte Solberg, himself a top-notch Albertan, was in Calgary to speak to the Calgary Chamber of Commerce and addressed the shortage and the actions that the feds are taking to address it. His comments were obviously important and well-received, given that they got coverage in two separate stories in today's Calgary Herald here and here.

The labour shortage is something that has gone past being an issue of exceptional job security and more into a crippling burden on employers.

Alberta remains the place where the maverick, can-do, get-er-done spirit goes a long way to building a promising future. Its something I have always believed and that grows ever stronger as those who promote that kind of thinking continue to find great success in Alberta.

And so, friends, I have decided that my BC experiment will soon be drawing to a close.

By the end of January I will once again be a proud resident of the Land of the Free and the Home of the Flames: Calgary, Alberta.

Living on Vancouver Island has certainly opened my eyes to a different way of thinking and a different way of life. While I can certainly appreciate where the residents here are coming from, it just isn't for me.

I will look forward to visiting the many friends I have made here on a regular basis, and in turn look forward to hosting them in what I believe is the greatest city in Canada.

I'll admit that, over the last few years, i've been somewhat of a modern-day gypsy. There are few who know me who wouldn't say i'm a traveller at heart. I love being on the road or in the air, heading to destinations old and new to see their sights and meet their people first hand. I don't expect that spirit to change in me anytime soon.

But even the most frequent travellers always know, in their heart, where home is.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Smear jobs

Allow me to divert your attention briefly away from Alberta politics and shift it over to Ottawa, where decorum is reaching an all-time low.

Earlier this week, BC MP James Moore was accused by Irene Mathyssen of the NDP of looking at "scantily-clad women" on his laptop in the House of Commons. Further investigation has completely absolved James and made an embarrassment of Ms. Mathyssen (rightly so).

I have known James Moore for at least 5 years now. If ever there was a young parliamentarian who understands and respects the sanctity of a legislative chamber, it is he. Irene Mathyssen attempted to grandstand a misunderstanding that could have been cleared up in 2 minutes if she had done what any other reasonable human being would have done... she should be rightly ashamed.

Watching James respond to this allegation was troubling. Troubling because he was quite clearly hurt by these allegations. No matter how untrue they are, victims will still feel like victims.

It reminds me of a similar episode from a few years earlier in the Alberta Legislature, courtesy of this man.

For those who don't remember, a summary thanks to the archives of the Canadian Parliamentary Journal:

On April 28th, Hugh MacDonald (Liberal, Edmonton-Gold Bar), raised a purported question of privilege relating to a document found in the Assembly which he considered to be hate literature. He stated that he had seen the document earlier in April and had notified the Speaker, who conducted an investigation. Mr. MacDonald indicated that he and other Members of his caucus had seen it in the possession of Drew Hutton (PC, Edmonton-Glenora), on April 24th. Mr. MacDonald submitted that this constituted a contempt of the Assembly. Mr. Hutton indicated that he had received the document but found it repugnant and offensive and threw it in the trash.

In his ruling, Speaker Kowalski acknowledged the exchange of documents with Mr. MacDonald, indicating that after an investigation by the Sergeant-at-Arms it could not be determined who placed the documents in the precincts on April 15th. The Speaker indicated that Members receive “countless” documents with which they do not agree. He ruled that there was no question of privilege. The next day, Mr. Hutton raised a purported question of privilege based on the allegations contained in Mr. MacDonald's question of privilege the previous day. The Speaker ruled that “there are few allegations that can be more detrimental than one of promoting or condoning discrimination.” He found that the remarks constituted an improper obstruction to Mr. Hutton performing his parliamentary work.

I remember how angry I was when this took place. Watching Drew Hutton, whose wife and children are Jewish, being forced to explain that he is the LAST person who would be spreading hateful literature was beyond unfortunate.

Elected officials, particularily those who tend to think more in terms of headlines and sound bites, need to remember that our legislatures are still made of real people who have feelings. The odd jab is to be expected, but false character attacks are usually way over the top AND usually backfire.

It certainly backfired for Irene Mathyssen, who has now been throughly embarrassed in the national media.

Hugh MacDonald, on the other hand, is one of Kevin Taft's star "Shadow Ministers".

Way to pick 'em, Kev.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Dream team?

As it stands, PC Alberta has nominated candidates in 80 of the 83 constituencies in preparation for an expected election next year. I have done my best to keep you up to date with these nominations and, in the near future, will begin profiling some of our new candidates.

Meanwhile, over in Kevin Taft's supposedly Liberal-free Alberta Liberal party, they've got 47 nominated so far. Your average provincial Liberal will tell you that there are great people lining up to run for them and we evil tories had better be scared.

Let's take a closer look at this.

There are 80 people lined up and ready to run for my party. In the seats that we either don't hold or where the current PC MLA is retiring, almost all of them had contested nominations. Even some SITTING MLAs had challengers for the priviledge of representing our party.

The Alberta-Stephane who?-Liberal party, on the other hand, has had very few contested nominations.

A closer look reveals that, of the candidates nominated to run as Liberals, at least FIVE of them also happen to be that constituency's Liberal President. For the record, i'm referring to Calgary Shaw, Medicine Hat, Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills, Wetaskiwin-Camrose, and Little Bow.

For those of us who are active in party politics, its a common threat that the Constituency President has to run if no one else can be found to step forward. One can only wonder if this is happening in these constituencies (and others).

It will be interesting to see if the trend continues as we approach the expected election. You can be sure i'll be watching.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

One year later

About a year ago, most Alberta politicos were waking up and asking themselves "did that REALLY happen?"

Today marks the one year anniversary of Premier Stelmach's PC Leadership victory.

There are a plethora of stories looking back to that night and the year that has passed since. The Edmonton Journal seems to have done the best job with items here, here, and here.

The story in the Journal is pretty good, despite its torqued headline (perhaps Graham Thomson is looking after that these days). Some groups are skeptical and unhappy, of course (the opposition, the political academia, Craig Chandler, etc), but I think that a lot has been accomplished in this first year. Judging from the latest polling info, it appears that Albertans are also coming to appreciate the new style of leadership.

For my own reflection, I looked back at some old blog posts from the tail-end of the race.

My thoughts on the day-to-day issues that come up in Alberta are fairly well-documented here, so I won't bother rehashing them.

But if you ask me how I feel about it all now that a year has gone by, I think i'd sum it best by sharing the closing words of my post from December 4, 2006:

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.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

The other shoe drops

This just in:

Chandler quits Conservative Party

According to the brief story, Chandler has quit the party. I'm not sure if this means it was a mutual decision, an ultimatum, or something else.

As I had said earlier, there was going to be a firestorm surrounding whatever decision was made today. I suspect that to be the case in the coming days.

From the perspective of an ardent supporter of the party, I believe this was the right call.

I don't want to get into anything that could be viewed as slanderous lest this humble blogger be included in a potential lawsuit. I just simply feel that Craig was a poor fit for our party. His views and his style are welcome in parties like the Alliance, i'm sure, but I don't think they jive very well with PC Alberta.

As for the (short) string of Chandler-related resignations within the party, I wouldn't take much stock in them. These folks are like the David Orchards of the far-right... they claim to have a proper place in a political organization, but make no effort to adapt to it and leave in a huff when they don't get their way.

However this decision came about, I applaud the Premier for it. He was placed in a difficult position, under a great deal of pressure, and came up what most party members will view as the correct solution.

The biggest lesson in all of this, however, should be to the people who run the party... both full-time in the office and the elected volunteer party executive.

The Premier should not have ever had to get involved in this. Political organizations have staffs and executives who should be well-aware of potential troubles on the ground. They have a responsibility to their members and their Leader to neutralize these threats before they ever reach the level we have seen in Calgary Egmont.

This freight train should have been seen miles away. Those who had the power to stop this early on chose to be complacent.

It is a mistake they, hopefully, will not make again.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Your brief attention once more, please

Given that i've only recently revived this blog, i've tried not to post more than once in a single day. However there are a couple of things i'd like to draw to your attention and seeing how they have nothing to do with Calgary Egmont, I figured i'd avoid lumping it in with whatever my next post may bring.

First, and I meant to do this in my last post, sincere best wishes to fellow blogger Daveberta who celebrated his birthday on Friday. If you're a regular reader of this blog, you should be a regular reader of Dave's as well. Our viewpoints differ on pretty much everything, but we get along famously and, more importantly, we both have an inexplicable passion for Alberta politics.

And, as a special birthday present for Dave, i'm going to say something nice about the CBC.

There were two extraordinarily well-done pieces on The National tonight that I want to pass along in case you missed them.

The first was a mini-doc profiling some of very interesting players in the fight against AIDS in Vancouver. Given that tomorrow is World Aids Day, its timeliness is profound.

The second is the latest installment of Rex Murphy's Point of View. Not only does he nail the rationale behind the federal government's rejection of Kyoto, but he (hopefully) gets us all thinking about what really needs to happen at the upcoming UN Climate Change chinwag in Bali.

Finally, a quick note for those of you who are going to be on the prowl for news from tomorrow's PC Alberta Executive meeting as it relates to the situation in Calgary Egmont. I will make every endeavour to post whatever information I have in a timely manner. Please be aware, however, that i'm currently in Kelowna with my family and may not be at the keyboard with lightning speed. You can, of course, count on a full analysis from my point of view by day's end (unless, of course, I don't get any word about what goes down).

One down, one to go

I got word of this last night, but didn't want to post anything until I could link to it.

Kudos to the Calgary Egmont PC Association for having the fortitude to make this decision. These are the people who work day-in and day-out with our party in Calgary Egmont... they're the ones who really represent what we stand for.

Also, note the desperate spin...

"I think the board felt that perhaps I was a little too controversial at this point and they needed someone who was more neutral, as they put it, so we agreed that I should step down," said Crutcher who has defended Chandler's right to represent the party.

Newsflash: Its not really an agreement when two-thirds of the board votes to boot you out.

One down, one to go.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Heroes, Criminals, and Holy Terrors

On today's agenda...


First, and most importantly, you all need to sign this petition.

Some background:

Constable Chris Garrett was killed in Ontario in the line of duty protecting the lives of his colleagues and civilians. His fellow officers waited to apply for a medal of valour from the Governor General until the trial of his killer was finished to ensure a fair trial. His killer was convicted and the application was sent off to the GGs office. Where it was promptly denied because it was too long after his death. There is a petition circulating online for Canadians to sign to pressure the GGs office to reconsider. Please follow the link to sign the petition.

This brave Canadian deserves better than a bureaucratic runaround.


Speaking of runarounds, it seems that Karlheinz Schreiber wasn't ready to talk after all... then promptly started to answer questions.

The latest spin in this intricate web is that the deal he made with former PM Brian Mulroney was for $500,000 not $300,000 as has been so widely reported.

I suspect there will be a number of contradictions, clarifications, and re-fabrications as this saga continues to unfold.

I'll admit that i'm neither a staunch defender or critic of the former PM. But I do have to wonder why so much credibility is being given to Mr. Schreiber, a convicted criminal?


My patience is growing very thin surrounding this whole uproar in Calgary Egmont.

I understand that this debate is going to be heated with some logical arguments on both sides. What drives me nuts, though, are the radical and highly charged statements that are coming from certain individuals and organizations. Namely, Concerned Christians Canada.

Jim Blake, a spokesman for the group founded by Craig Chandler, said recently "This is not an issue of Craig Chandler being an intolerant person, it's a party that's saying we don't want people of faith in our party that are going to speak their values in any way, shape or form, even if it's not in the political forum."

What utter nonsense! People of faith are no longer welcome in PC Alberta?

I look at our caucus and I see many people of faith who are darn proud of it, too. A quick glance at PC caucus bios and you will many people who are active members of their Churches, some who have served in leadership roles within their faith community... even a Reverend!

The issue is not whether people of faith are welcome in PC Alberta. The answer to that question is a clear and resounding "yes". The issue is whether or not people who take their views to an extreme that warrants intervention from the Human Rights Commission are welcome.

The answer to that question should be clear to you, me, the PC executive, and the Premier.


Quickly before I go, one of the best lines i've heard in Alberta Question Period in a long time. It was delivered by Energy Minister Mel Knight in response to yet another accusation from Liberal Energy Critic Hugh MacDonald that Alberta is "secretly" planning to export power to the United States:

"Perhaps the member wants to climb a pole someplace and watch the
electrons. They can go both directions."

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Odds and Ends

UPDATED with results from Calgary North West!

The hotline from Calgary North West informs me that technology worker and community activist Lindsay Blackett has won a competitive race against law enforcement officer Vince Caleffi. This was the last of the big races in Calgary and, given the population of the riding, had a very impressive turnout.

Some people have suggested that the ghost of Frank Bruseker (former Liberal MLA for the riding) may yet rise and see this riding fall to the Liberals in the election. Something tells me that ain't gonna happen.


Congratulations are to be extended to Robin Campbell, winner of last night's PC nomination in the constituency of West Yellowhead.

Mr. Campbell is currently the head of the local chapter of the United Mine Workers and has been a staunch supporter of PC Alberta (and Ivan Strang) ever since the government took a stand in support of the Cheviot mine. In an interview at the time of his announcement, Campbell said "we understood that the PCs supported us and helped us keep our jobs. That goes a long way with us, and it goes a long way with me.”

Sounds to me like he's very much in touch with the people of West Yellowhead. I'm sure he'll make a fine MLA.


Finally, a few brief words about the ongoing saga in Calgary Egmont.

The PC Alberta executive, a body to which I was elected 3 times, will be meeting this weekend to decide the future of Craig Chandler as the party's candidate in Egmont. I can completely understand the position in which the executive has been placed.

My best advice to PCAA exec members is to carefully consider the ramifications of allowing someone with a history of remarks that are contradictory to the party's Statement of Principles to be a representative before and during an election.

In many ways, the horse has already left the barn when it comes to the media frenzy surrounding this story. No matter how PCAA proceeds, it will be news and will result in some very intense scrutiny. What needs to be weighed is which group we should be more concerned about accomodating... Chandler's supporters or a broad cross-section of the Alberta public who are still undecided voters?

One more thing. Speaking of Chandler's supporters, I wish this man would go away. Mr. Crutcher is not reflective of the average PC Alberta member, nor does he have much of a history in the party.

He was thrust into the spotlight when elected President of Calgary Egmont as part of a takeover attempt in the lead up to the nomination. Mr. Crutcher can huff and puff about the party and its processes all he wants, but I don't think he has much credibility in the party or amongst the general public.

Should he chose to resign if the PCAA decision isn't to his liking, I think your average Alberta Tory would welcome the move.

Monday, November 26, 2007

An update from Edmonton

Thanks to a few handy sources, I am able to tell you tonight that former Liberal and Conservative MLA Andrew Beniuk has won the PC nomination in Edmonton Highlands-Norwood over up-and-comer T.J. Keil.

T.J. is to be commended for throwing his hat into the ring and for signing up enough new members in a short period of time to make this a race.

Mr. Beniuk also deserves congratulations and good luck... he'll certainly need it going up against Brian Mason.


Briefly in other nomination news, Eugenia Leskiw won the PC nomination in Bonnyville-Cold Lake over the weekend. From the limited news sources available, I can tell you that Ms. Leskiw is a long-time teacher in the area and is very active in the Ukrainian community. If successful in the election, Ms. Leskiw will take over from retiring MLA Denis Ducharme.

Also, I will be on the lookout for info as to who won tonight's PC nomination in West Yellowhead to replace retiring MLA Ivan Strang.

Both Ducharme and Strang were top-notch MLAs who were well respected both in and out of the legislature. Their successors have big shoes to fill (quite literally in the case of Ivan Strang).

Sunday, November 25, 2007

More nomination news

Of the 5 races going on this weekend, i've managed to get conclusive info on the winners in 4 of them (everywhere except Bonnyville-Cold Lake).

In Grande Prairie-Wapiti, former MD of Greenview councillor Wayne Drysdale will carry the PC banner as MLA and former Gaming Minister Gord Graydon retires. Mr. Drysdale appears to have an impressive and well-diversified background. I'm confident he will be an excellent representative for his constituents.

In Athabasca-Redwater, businessman Jeff Johnson won the nomination (reportedly thanks to an impressive turnout at the advance polls). As I have said earlier, Jeff comes from some of the finest political stock in the province. I know that his dad, retiring Wetaskiwin-Camrose MLA LeRoy Johnson has much to be proud of and that his mom Dianne, who lost her battle with cancer last year, is looking down on him with the same pride. I look forward to meeting Jeff and watching him at work for the people of Athabasca-Redwater. Kudos also to my friend Monty Bauer who ran a supurb campaign and has every reason to finish this race with his head held high.

Edmonton-Ellerslie has chosen Naresh Bhardwaj as their candidate in the next election. Naresh was our candidate in Edmonton-Mill Woods in 2004 and ran what was probably the most above-board race against new Liberal candidate (and now MLA) Weslyn Mather. After the election, Naresh was elected to serve as the Southeast Edmonton Regional Director on the PC Executive. I wish my former executive colleague all the best as he works to unseat one-term Liberal MLA Bharat Agnihotri. Mr. Agnihotri's most notable accomplishment to date has been getting himself thrown out of the Chamber for failing to understand the rules of Parliamentary decorum.

Finally, Lethbridge West PCs have chosen former City Alderman Greg Weadick to replace Clint Dunford when he retires at the end of this term. As you know, I was rooting for friend Justin (JC) Penny in this race. His youth, enthusiasm, and unique perspective on issues would have served the people of Alberta well. I certainly hope this defeat won't dampen his enthusiasm for the party, we still need voices like his to help shape our future.

Speaking of youth and enthusiasm, let me introduce you all to T.J. Keil. T.J. is a fellow young conservative who is running in tomorrow's PC nomination in Edmonton Highlands-Norwood. This riding is, as you probably know, home to Alberta's top socialist, Brian Mason. T.J. will be facing former Liberal/PC MLA Andrew Beniuk. I have nothing against Andrew, but its time for some new blood in this party.

The fact that T.J. is showing such spirit and enthusiasm in the face of what will be one of the toughest seats for our party to win is exactly why I support his efforts 110%. Someone with the kind of drive that T.J. brings is precisely what many of our constituency associations need.

So if you or anyone you know lives in Edmonton Highlands-Norwood, grab $5 for a PC membership, head on down to the Alberta Avenue Community League Hall (9210 - 118th Avenue) anytime between 5 and 8pm, and give an aspiring MLA a chance.

And, if you do head down, say hi to Constituency President Parker Hogan... he's one of the most solid Flames fans in Edmonton.

Enjoy the Grey Cup folks... go Bombers!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Taylor crosses the line

Before I get back into the nomination business, there's something that came up earlier in the week that i'd like to address...


On Monday, Alberta-i'm-not-a-liberal-i-just-hate-Stephen-Harper-Liberal Deputy Leader and former radio blowhard Dave Taylor was leading the charge in Question Period. Rather than the usual "Mel Knight must resign" line of questioning, the Alberta-liberals?-where?-Liberals were going on about affordable housing and rent controls.

In his second supplemental question, Taylor, who sometimes fancies himself as Fort McMurray's MLA, brought a recent report on youth homelessness in Fort McMurray into his preamble. Here is the question in its entirety:

Mr. Taylor: This is so important, and the results of not having a home can be devastating. A new report on youth homelessness from the regional municipality of Wood Buffalo reveals that somehomeless youth in that area are so desperate that they are trading sexual favours for a place to sleep. Fort McMurray has beenpleading for help from the province for years to deal with growth pressures, and this, Mr. Speaker, is the government’s answer. To the Premier. No more rhetoric; no more saying you’re doing a job, because you’re not. What are you going to do right now to fix the housing problems in Fort McMurray so children don’t have to trade sex for shelter?
The Premier was at a loss for words at this outrageous statement, as was I. Naturally, I was intrigued by this highly explosive statement... and my ears always perk up when I hear "Fort McMurray" anyway, so I decided to investigate.
With little effort, I was able to find a complete copy of the report Mr. Taylor referenced HERE. The contents certainly show that things need to be done to address the issue. In yesterday's Fort McMurray Today, I was pleased to read that the process of addressing youth homelessness in Fort McMurray started long before the Comrade from Currie brought it up in the Legislature (unfortunately, the links aren't archived).
What I found most interesting was that nowhere in the report was I able to find specific reference to "sexual favours" or "trading sex for shelter".
The report does talk about a percentage of homeless youth "providing favours for a place to stay". It does not, however, define "favours" as being sexual in nature.
This is not to say that this behaviour is not occuring, but it also does not indicate that it IS occuring.
For Dave Taylor to read things into this report that are not, in fact, there is more than just typical opposition sensationalism. Its irresponsible.
If Taylor had made these claims on his radio show, there would be clear grounds to haul him in front of the CRTC or the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council to explain himself.
Sadly, Members of the Legislative Assembly are immune from prosecution based on comments made on the floor of the Legislature.
He'd better be careful, though, about what he says beyond those walls.
On the nomination front, congratulations to Mr. Verlyn Olson, the next PC MLA for Wetaskiwin-Camrose! Olson won a close race against Wynn McLean, edging him out 918 to 743.
Based on the congratulatory statements on their respective websites, it appears that both gentlemen are truly class acts and are a credit to their community and to our party.
As promised, i've done some digging on the other races coming up this weekend. The one I was able to find the most on was the hotly contested race in Grande Prairie-Wapiti to replace retiring MLA Gord Graydon.
This race has attracted an impressive slate of 5 nominees. While few of them seem to have websites, I was able to get a snippet on each of them thanks to the archives of the Grande Prairie Herald-Tribune.
Vying for this open seat are Trenton Perrott, Jack O'Toole, Wayne Drysdale, Mike Frey, and Tammy Day.
From the little one can learn from a newspaper article, i'd say these are all fine individuals. Of the 5, though, i'd go with Jack O'Toole. I've met Jack at a number of PC functions and he's always been a fine ambassador for the people of Grande Prairie-Wapiti.
Given that I have family in this riding, i'll be watching this race closely.
Finally, in nomination news, it seems that the Alberta-no-the-liberal-is-silent-Liberals are once again becoming a home for PCs who don't take losing in their own party so well.
Aside from being a former Edmonton Catholic School Trustee, Ms. Cavaliere was also recently a contestant in the PC nomination for Edmonton Meadowlark. She was in the race right up until it became clear that there was no way she could sell enough memberships to win the race, at which point she quit.
Of course, the official spin is that she didn't find the party to her taste. Interesting. I wonder if she felt the same way when she was attending PC functions or door-knocking for former MLA Bob Maskell?
Amazing what a free ride to the ballot will make a person say, isn't it?
Ms. Cavaliere will face off against emergency physician Dr. Raj Sherman... the guy who sold enough memberships to win the race she quit.
The Edmonton Meadowlark race is an open one after one-term MLA Maurice Tougas decided that he'd rather be back writing his gossip column at the Edmonton Examiner.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Nominations everywhere!

Its another busy week in the Alberta PC party as the slate of candidates for the next election is nearing completion.

Last night in Calgary Mackay, Social Worker Teresa Woo-Paw beat Community Activist Marnie Marr for the right to replace Gary Mar as the PC candidate. I, admittedly, don't know a great deal about these women personally. I checked out both their backgrounds and who was supporting whom, and came to the conclusion that I still don't know who I would have voted for. Party members had two excellent choices on their hands. Congrats to Ms. Woo-Paw on her victory, and to Ms. Marr for throwing her hat in the ring. I hope both of these exceptional women remain involved in the party for many years to come.

Tonight, PC members in Wetaskiwin-Camrose will choose their standard bearer to replace retiring MLA LeRoy Johnson. LeRoy was a very able MLA and quite possibly the nicest man ever elected to the Alberta Legislature. He has served his constituents with the highest level of honour and integrity for the past 10 years and has every reason to look back on his career with pride. In terms of candidates running to replace LeRoy, I have only been able to find out about one person running, Verlyn Olsen. Mr. Olsen seems to be an excellent candidate but, in the interests of fairness, I would have liked to hear about who else is running. I guess we'll know about any other candidates if one of them wins tonight!

Looking further down the road, we'll see contests this weekend in Athabasca-Redwater, Bonnyville-Cold Lake, Lethbridge West, Grande Prairie-Wapiti, and Edmonton Ellerslie.

Of these 5 races, there are two which I am particularily interested in.

Athabasca-Redwater was one of the constituencies I represented during my term on the PC Alberta Executive Committee. With long-time MLA Mike Cardinal set to retire, PC members will choose between Monty Bauer of Redwater, Jeff Johnson of Athabasca, or Richard Dubetz of Smoky Lake.

If I had a vote, it would go to Monty Bauer. I had the chance to talk with Monty on several occaisions during my term on the executive and was always impressed by his straight talk and sincerety. Monty is also part of a younger generation who, much like myself, grew up in PC Alberta. For someone who still qualifies as a "young guy", he sure brings a lot of historical knowledge to the table.

To be fair, I will say that I know a few people who are supporting Jeff Johnson and, after some research, I will say that he also seems to be a worthy candidate for the position. My searches for information on Mr. Dubetz haven't turned up any substantive information.

The other race i'm watching this weekend is in Lethbridge West. With Clint Dunford stepping down at the end of this term, Justin (JC) Penny and Greg Weadick are lined up to compete for the nomination. My support is 110% with JC.

JC is the kind of person we need more of in the Legislature. As another member of the under-40 crowd, he brings a much-needed perspective that has been lacking in Edmonton. He's a former student leader who understands what post-secondary students are facing today (and, more importantly, that there are institutions OUTSIDE Edmonton and Calgary). He has experience working on behalf of Albertans in Ottawa as a Senatorial Assistant. He's a committed member of our party who is well known beyond his hometown in Southern Alberta. Most importantly, he's just a damn good person who listens carefully and has a passion for helping people. If that doesn't qualify you to be an MLA, I don't know what does.

Between now and Saturday i'm going to do some digging and try and find out about some of the folks running in the other races this weekend. If you've got any info you'd like to send along, its always welcome at

Before I go, a couple items from the federal world:

-I have long been supportive of more "Blake" in conservative politics in Alberta. With that in mind, I was pleased to hear about Blake Richards, the man who will be filling Myron Thompson's shoes as the Conservative candidate in the federal riding of Wild Rose. I don't know the man, but he certainly seems to be an excellent candidate.

-Three cheers to Justice Minister Rob Nicholson for introducing measures to crack down on drugs and the despicable thugs who sell them. Naturally, this is going over like a lead balloon in parts of British Columbia (including the one in which I live). What the spineless drug-addict apologists fail to understand is that we need MORE prosecution of drug pushers, not less.

Reading this article, I was appalled to find that fewer than 1 in 7 criminals who are charged with growing pot ever see a prison. I have to pass by the results of a lax attitude towards illegal drugs every day and am continually baffled that there are so many leaders in BC communities who want to make these drugs even more available.

Its enough to drive a guy who still has some common sense right out of the province...

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The albertatory drops in

On my way back to the left coast, I made an impromptu stop in Calgary. Surely, it doesn't take much to bring me back to a city I so dearly love, but I dropped in for a very important reason.

Seven years ago at the PC AGM in Calgary, I met a young and ambitious lawyer (only a few years my senior) who had recently moved to the Stampede City from Regina. We became friends very quickly and have shared many good times as active conservatives over the years. We have been keenly aware of each other's ambitions of public service and, naturally, very supportive of them.

I am speaking of my friend Jonathan Denis who was contesting the PC Alberta nomination in Calgary Egmont. I know first hand how nerve-wracking the nomination process can be for a candidate and I wanted to be there for support and, hopefully, to celebrate.

As has been reported, Craig Chandler was the victor of the Egmont nomination. The results were, out of a total of 1670 ballots cast:

Craig Chandler - 945
Jonathan Denis - 485
Rick Smith - 227

Jonathan and his campaign team worked tirelessly in their cause and have every reason to be proud of their efforts. They spoke of a positive and inclusive vision and managed to attract a wide array of new members to our party. And, although I will not share the percentage, I was amazed at the number of people who honoured their committment to vote for Jonathan. If I had had the turnout of ID'd supporters that he did, I would be a Member of Parliament.

Much like my friend Mr. Denis, I will take the high road and congratulate Mr. Chandler on his victory. Speculation of what his candidacy will mean for our party is something that I will stay away from for the time being.

In the meantime, I tip my hat and say bravo to Jonathan for the supurb fight he put up.

Briefly in closing, I was very pleased with the results of the other nominations I was watching over the past week. Bill Donahue, Kyle Fawcett, and Arthur Kent will all get the chance to carry the PC torch in the next election. To them I also extend my sincere congratulations and look forward to watching their respective campaigns take shape.

More on the upcoming nominations tomorrow... stay tuned!

Friday, November 16, 2007

I should really get a personal odometer...

So remember how I said I wasn't going to blog for the next few days? Well the advent of wireless at your average highway-side inn has made a little more possible.

I just wanted to quickly post a thank you to everyone who offered birthday wishes today. Given that I spent the entirety of my birthday in a car between Wisconsin and Ontario, it was nice to return to Canada to so many emails, facebook messages and voicemails.

I've been on the highway since Wednesday helping a friend move from Medicine Hat to Peterborough. Its been a fun drive, thankfully free of any nasty weather or major delays... we've truly been blessed with a wonderful trip that i'll have some more reflections on when I get home.

Before I go, congratulations to Bill Donahue who will be taking on Laurie Blakeman in Edmonton Centre! It seems like the Edmonton Centre crew is really ready to get at it and I wish them nothing but success in returning a rational voice to the Capital Seat. Also, polls have been closed in Calgary North Hill for almost 2 hours. I have yet to find any news, but i'm hoping that i'll be able to congratulate Kyle Fawcett on a nomination victory in my next post!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Taft's favourite food? Crow a l'orange...

I remain relatively away from the blog... but someone forwarded this to me and I just had to share it with you (again, sans hyperlink... sorry):

The ridiculousness of Kevin Taft and the Alberta-liberals?-i-thought-they-were-extinct-Liberal caucus continues.


Also came across this piece of excellent news:

Many congratulations to the Premier, Minister Liepert and ATA President Frank Bruseker for getting this deal done. This is a win-win situation and all involved deserve a pat on the back.

Neil Waugh also gets the quote of the year from Liberal Finance Critic Rick Miller who says "this means our policy platform just got a page shorter."

That's a big problem to the supposed government in waiting, given the holes that exist in what's left of the rickety document they call a platform.

I'm looking forward to this election... wonder how many Liberal MLAs are thinking the same?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Back at the keyboard, however briefly...

Good morning friends!

My apologies for being away from the blog these past few days... real life tends to remove us from the blogosphere from time to time. Unfortunately, it will continue to do so until this weekend.

In the meantime, I leave you with a few things to chew on (sans hyperlinks... I don't know why):

Don Braid nails it re: Kevin Taft in his column in this morning's Calgary Herald. The righteous indignation of Taft and his Alberta-who's-a-liberal?-Liberal caucus is getting pretty unbelieveable. Debunking the opposition has always been a noble cause, in my opinion. If more journalists start calling the Liberals on the things they say and do, look for Graham Thomson to start spinning extra hard for the ALP.

There are also a number of PC nominations this week that I have particular interest in:

-Tomorrow night, the Edmonton Centre PC members will choose their candidate to take on drama queen extraordinaire Laurie Blakeman. Bill Donahue is my guy in this race... he's personable, articulate, and has the breadth of experience to take on the wicked witch of Rossdale.

-On Friday, the Calgary North Hill PC Association will also be choosing a candidate to replace retiring MLA Richard Magnus. North Hill is a hard-working, middle class riding that would be ably represented by Kyle Fawcett. Kyle is a fellow former PCYA member and, more recently, a Calgary school board trustee. Kyle is one of the many exciting young faces looking to shake things up at the Legislature. I hope the folks in Calgary North Hill seize that opportunity.

-Also on Friday, members in my old stomping ground of Calgary Currie will choose their weapon against Alberta-i'm-not-a-liberal-but-i-hate-Stephen-Harper-Liberal incumbent Dave Taylor. The best choice here, clearly, is Arthur Kent. The star power and credibility that Mr. Kent brings to the race are undeniable. And, given that Dave Taylor once said that he understood why some animals eat their young after speaking to me on his radio show, I look forward to his early retirement from politics.

-On Saturday, my very good friend Jonathan Denis will be vying to replace outgoing MLA Denis Herard in a hotly contested race in Calgary Egmont. I remember when Jono first came to Alberta and knew then that he was someone with a bright future in our party. Like Kyle Fawcett, Jonathan Denis is someone who will change the face and tone of the Alberta Legislature. We need more of them.

Races are also happening this weekend in Calgary Buffalo, Lethbridge East, and Livingstone-Macleod. I'm not really up to speed on the candidates in those races, but look forward to learning more about those who will be chosen to carry our torch in the next election.

Again, best of luck to Bill, Kyle, Arthur, and Jonathan. I'll have some follow-up thoughts for you in the next post on Saturday night/Sunday morning, as well as musings about more big nominations happening next week.
Good morning friends!

Apologies for my absense these past few days. Apparently, real life continues outside the blogosphere. Unfortunately, it will continue to distract me from regular postings on the blog until this weekend.

In the meantime, here are a few things to chew on (for some reason I can't insert hyperlinks, so the full URLs are included instead.

Don Braid gets it right in this morning's Calgary Herald ( Kevin Taft is full of hot air, and the media needs to start calling him on it. If this trend continues, watch for Graham Thomson to spin extra hard on behalf of the Liberal comm shop.

There are a number of very important (to me, anyway) PC nominations coming up this week...

In Edmonton Centre, i'm hoping that Bill Donahue ( will earn the right to carry the torch against incumbent Liberal Laurie Blakeman.
Good morning friends!

I apologize for my absense the past few days, life apparently does exist outside the blogosphere.

Unfortunately, real life will keep me away from regular postings on this blog until the weekend.

Until then, however, let me give you a few things to chew on:

Don Braid gets it right in this morning's Herald. Kevin Taft is full of hot air and people in the media are finally taking notice. Look for Graham Thomson to start spinning extra hard on behalf of his buddy Taft.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

New Premier. Annoying Writers. Hopeful MLAs.

Three things I want to talk about today, team:

First, many sincere congratulations to Saskatchewan's new Premier, Brad Wall! I heard Mr. Wall speak at a Sask Party youth convention 6 years ago and was very impressed by him. His ascention to the leadership of his party came as no surprise, nor did his victory last night. With Brad Wall and the Saskatchewan Party at the helm, our friends in Saskatchewan can look forward to their province playing an equally important role in the growing western economy.

Now if only we could do something about Manitoba...


Moving right along, i'm considering the notion of never reading a newspaper columnist again. I know you're probably all tired of hearing me bitch and moan about them (certain ones in particular), but it needs saying.

Once again I find myself supremely annoyed after reading Graham Thomson this morning. From his accounts, you'd believe that the entire Tory caucus scurries under their desks or out of the room whenever the great Kevin Taft or a member of his government-in-waiting starts to speak. I realize that I have my own bias, but Graham stretches the truth way out of line... even by his standards.

I'd like to find a Tory MLA who isn't as happy as I am when Energy Minister Mel Knight gets up to answer a question posed by Kevin Taft or Hugh MacDonald. I've said it before and i'll say it again... there is no one inside the Legislature better qualified to run the Department of Energy than Mel Knight, period.

Graham Thomson should consider himself very lucky that only an extraordinarily miniscule percentage of Albertans actually watch the provincial question period... otherwise, his readers might know just how full of crap he is.

Don Braid is also back at it again. In his case, though, its more journalistic cynicism rather than outright opposition spin.

This morning he is waxing on about how Premier Ed Stelmach's government is trying to "fix everything at once". How interesting. The same press gallery who complained for so many years that Ralph Klein had everything on autopilot is now complaining that we have a Premier and a government who want to get things done. You just can't win, folks.

The subject of the column doesn't really surprise or bother me. What is really starting to piss me off, though, is the tone of the column. Its a tone that has been apparent from a number of other big city columnists. Its a tone that scoffs at the fact that the Premier is "just a farmer".

Well excuse me.

I didn't realize that people who are involved in the industry that built this province in the first place aren't qualified to run the province (for the record, I KNOW that most Albertans, rural AND urban, don't feel this way).

I'd like to know just exactly what these "city slickers" think farmers do?

Farmers have to be responsible stewards of their land, often land that has been passed down through multiple generations.

Farmers have to follow very tight timelines for the seeding, tending, and harvest of their crop... AND they often have to carefully manage crop rotations.

Farmers have to ensure that their equipment is always kept in working order.

Farmers have to manage all of this with relatively scarce financial resources.

In addition, farmers are primary contributors to the lives and livelyhoods of their communities.

In my eyes, a farmer is equal parts biologist, historian, engineer, mechanic, accountant, and community activist.

If you ask me, having all these things rolled into one person more than qualifies them for the job. Shame on those who can't see past the coveralls and boots to think otherwise.


Finally, i'd like to tell you about some folks who have won PC Alberta nominations to run in the next provincial election. This is something i'll probably do on a fairly regular basis. Today I want to introduce you to two fine gentlemen running in the Capital Region.

Dave Quest is someone I had the pleasure of working with on the PC Alberta Provincial Executive Committee. He's an energetic, outside-the-box thinker who has always shown great dedication to the people of his community. As the PC candidate in Strathcona (not to be confused with Edmonton-Strathcona) he will be looking to replace the very able Rob Lougheed who is retiring. Rob was a great MLA for the area and leaves big shoes to fill, but i'm quite confident that Dave is the right man for the job.

Challenging Dave from Alberta-liberals?-where?-Liberal Party will be Jon Parsons Friel, a man who wears a sunflower on his lapel and, according to his website, is still seeking the leadership of the party.

To the north and west of Strathcona is St. Albert, where long-time PC volunteer and former city councillor Ken Allred won the nomination. Ken beat out now-former St. Albert Mayor Paul Chalifoux and community activist Frances Badrock in a hotly-contested race. Ken is a hard worker who knows the ins and outs of St. Albert better than anyone. Ken was a staunch supporter of former MLA Mary O'Neill and is well-suited to step into her former role.

Ken will be taking on Geriatric Jack Flaherty from the Liberals. A first-term MLA, Mr. Flaherty is so proud to be an Albertan that his website says that his favourite place to spend time is in another province.

That's all for now, team. Enjoy your Thursday!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Back in the country with a few things to declare...

Hello faithful readers!

After an enjoyable journey to New York i'm exhausted and happy to be back in my own bed. I had planned on photoblogging the trip, but it wasn't in the cards. Rather than give you the post-mortem here, all my photos are up on facebook. If you're on facebook and not yet one of my friends, feel free to add me.

Its been pretty busy while i've been away. Rather than go into great detail about a great many things, here's some stuff that caught my eye:

This guy, it seems, still sucks. No surprise there. Watch for these guys to keep trying to spread even more distance from these guys. Also, watch for more incredulous attempts to emphasize the supposed distance to be blown out of the water thanks to things like this.

Perhaps I will collect them and publish "How to Alienate Your Base for Dummies".

Prime Minister Harper was in my hometown of Fort McMurray on Monday! This is big news since we haven't had a Prime Minister visit since Chretien in1996. Its excellent that the PM got a chance to see the oilsands first hand and hear from community leaders. The Municipality's communications shop, though, gets low marks for allowing the Mayor's comments to be trumped by the MP's mother in the CTV story.

The Alberta Legislature is back in session and one of the two groups of socialists in the house apparently have an agenda. Should be fun watching that crumble to pieces. In addition to trying to defend their Johnny-Come-Lately position on royalties, their Energy Critic is also supposedly going to be standing up for rural Albertans with respect to Bill 46.

This is the same MLA who is also the Agriculture Critic (I didn't know they did much farming in Edmonton-Gold Bar) who tried to shame hard working farmers who get a farm fuel rebate and suggested they have their names listed on a website, similar to the way pedophiles are in some jurisdictions. Defending rural Alberta my ass...

Speaking of the Alberta-no-liberals-here-Liberal Party, it seems that someone has some pretty sour grapes about Larry Johnsrude's new gig. I've already expressed my thoughts that its sad to see Larry jump on with Gilligan and his Crew, but I respect him nonetheless.

Well Graham Thomson, his former Edmonton Journal colleague and the guy I thought would be a shoo-in for the job, has a column today that reads like something straight from the Liberal talking points file (somewhere in a deep, dark corner of the Leg. Annex).

Cheer up Graham. If you're still itching to give up the cloak of journalism and come out of the proverbial ideological closet, i'll bet these guys would hire you. Upon close examination you'll find their policies eerily similar and their electability on par with Alberta's other socialist caucus.

It's good to be home :)

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Its like they made this book just for me...

Greetings from the Big Apple!

After a long overnight journey across the sky, I have arrived in one of the greatest cities in the world.

Picture posting and photoblogging will come later... once the day is done, perhaps.

In the meantime, I see in the news that Larry Johnsrude is the new Communications Director for the Alberta Liberals.

Tories get their media hacks from the Herald and the Sun, the Liberals get theirs from the Journal... such an accurate reflection it hurts.

Seriously, i've got a lot of time for Larry. He was always objective in his coverage and really made a point of discussing a variety of interesting things on his blog. I'm sorry to see him leave the blogosphere and a bit bewildered as to why he'd sign on with the gang that couldn't shoot straight.

Nonetheless, I wish him well and look forward to the Liberal spin which he will inevidably produce and I will inevidably try to shoot down.