Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Random thoughts from Day 1


Shameless theft of federal campaign slogans aside, it was nice to see the Premier start the campaign off on the right track with a major announcement on Health Care.

This announcement builds on the recent announcement of major investments in health sciences research in Alberta. This is clearly a priority for the Premier and our party. Given that Albertans continue to rate health care as a top concern, I suspect they'll be pleased with the PC's committment and forward-thinking on this issue.


Liberal Leader Kevin Taft today announced that he would change the resource royalty formula to go easier on natural gas producers and harder on the oilsands. We all know that Kevin Taft and the Liberals want to re-increase royalties, but this new scheme seems confusing. So confusing, in fact, that even Kevin himself admits he doesn't really know how to tweak royalties to his satisfaction.

He also suggests that the lower rates for natural gas companies would only be "until the storm passes" and that "it means going a little harder on the oilsands". These would be the same oilsands that are already in the process of renegotiating their royalties.

And what of these temporary lower rates for gas producers? Who decides when the "storm" passes? What will their rates become when said storm passes? This seems to breed uncertainty and is particularily ironic given that he announced it as part of the Liberals' "Calgary Agenda"... a city that places some importance in stability and predictability in the oil and gas business.


... Graham Thomson comes storming back with his column for Team Red in the Edmonton Journal. In a column entitled "Tories stumble out of the starting gate", Graham starts off by remarking that the Tories inadvertently created controversy by calling the election on the 3rd anniversary of the tragedy at Mayerthorpe.

Controversy, that is, in the eyes of certain media types. Real people, including the Mayor of Mayerthorpe, don't think its an issue.

Conveniently, he forgets about the disastrous start that the Liberals had. Perhaps that wasn't in the memo from the Liberal war room/phone booth.

Either way, its awfully early to be grasping at straws.


Dan Arnold over at the Calgary Grit takes a shot at the PC's internet game because a spokesperson couldn't remember the term "social networking" off the top of her head.

If I were the Liberals, I would be less worried about a spokesperson's web-savvy and more concerned about their own lacklustre website.

The election has now been on for well over 24 hours and we've seen only a minor change in the layout of the Liberal's homepage.

They're still missing info on some of their candidates. Hard to make an informed choice with no information, don't ya think?

The pictures across the top change every time the page is refreshed and don't identify the caucus members' whose photos come up on the banner. Last time I checked, candidate photos aren't on the ballot.

They seem to rely heavily on youtube videos of Kevin Taft... as if hearing Kevin speak is going to inspire voters to mark a ballot for the Liberals.

And the scheme is generally uninspiring and particularily sad since Brian Mason and the NDP have managed to come up with something MUCH better.

I, of course, am very impressed with the PC Alberta campaign website. The clean, modern look, the plethora of easily-navigable information, and the connections to the aforementioned social networking are signs that this isn't your parents' PC campaign anymore.

Incidentally, i've also been impressed with a number of individual PC candidates' websites. Namely, the websites for Rob Anderson (Airdrie-Chestermere), Wendy Andrews (Edmonton Riverview), Kyle Fawcett (Calgary North Hill), Diana McQueen (Drayton Valley-Calmar), Raj Sherman (Edmonton Meadowlark), Greg Weadick (Lethbridge West) all caught my eye for one reason or another.


  1. Stelmack announced what? His doctors idea is impossible in the short term and his healthcare premiums is a page ripped out of Paul Martin's play book. If you promise it far enough out there you can use it in the next election. Give Taft credit. The Gas sector is in rough shape and the new royalty rates are not helping them at all. Taft's idea of cutting the 'take' makes sense to me. Its not like the government needs the money. As soon as they raised the rates they paid off the teachers which raises the expectation of the public sector. I've been voting conservative all my life but I can't find one to vote for in this election.

  2. joe,
    Is Taft really "cutting the take"? He made some wishy-washy statement about temporarily reducing royalties, but making up the difference in oilsands, while admitting he didn't know how to adjust the rates to meet this objective. Given the relative contribution to royalty take now from nat gas, the increase in oilsands rates would have to be significant in order to offer a meaningful break to gas. And how long is "temporary" anyway?

    And let's remember, the current royalty rates for gas are still in place... these would be the rates that companies had for the last decade. And gas is over C$7.50/mcf... a price that would have had producers jumping for joy only a few short years ago. Some companies are hurting, granted, but there has was a lot of cost inflation allowed in the industry when times were good. Ten years ago, gas averaged $2/mcf and lower, and companies did just fine.

    In the meantime, costs are (finally) coming down, and gas prices are rising on the back of a more normal winter, and still-higher prices elsewhere in the world.

  3. Time for a ChangeFebruary 06, 2008

    Joe's right about the health care plan, even the College of Physicians and Surgeons is calling Stelmach on that promise:


  4. EVERYONE has trashed Stelmach's health care plan as unachievable.

    And, yup, using a government venue for a partisan launch was a big no-no.

    0 for 2. Better luck today!

  5. The gas business needs help but Kevin Taft is not going to provide it. Perhaps if he had a clue what he was talking about it would help.

  6. Like "glen" is any less anonymous than the "anonymous" handle.

  7. Hey Taft is the MLA in my riding. I didn't vote for him last time and won't vote for him this time. All I'm saying is that on day one he made more sense than Eddie.

    Ralf was the teflon premier, Eddie is the tar baby premier. The PCs made a huge mistake putting him in as leader, similar to what the federal liberals did with Dion.

    Dinning and Morton can express more ideas with the raising an eyebrow than Eddie can in a three hour speech.

  8. Just wondering why I can't find any mention of rural Alberta in Ed's health care training plan? I checked the press release and the backgrounder on the PC's fancy website. There is a lot of talk about Edmonton and Calgary. Multimillion dollar facilities, even specialized healthcare high schools.

    Gee, and here I thought it was rural Albertans facing the most acute shortages of doctors and nurses. Hope some of the doctors and nurses in Ed's plan to set up shop in rural communities, as it seems Ed doesn't have a plan for rural Alberta. Guess that is what happens when the PC's are trying to woo the urban centers.