Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Warning: Rant Ahead

Three items I want to address today, two of which can be qualified as rants.


I said in my first election post that bloggers have a duty to hold the mainstream media to account as well our opponents. Talk about foreshadowing.

The overblown controversy about Returning Officers who have done NOTHING wrong is a prime example of the sensationalist bloodhounds in the media choosing to sell a story rather than take either facts or common decency into account.

Two media outlets specifically draw my ire.

The Edmonton Sun's Jeremy Loome wrote an article that attributes negative comments about outgoing Liberal MLA Maurice Tougas and current Liberal candidate Debbie Cavaliere to the riding's returning officer, Allie Wojtaszek. The comments referenced in the article were in fact made by me on this very blog at the tail end of a post entitled "Taylor crosses the line". The post was written on November 22nd, one day before the comments were quoted on Allie's blog.

The CBC's story in Alberta Votes 2008, though, is even more disturbing. To their credit, the text of their story is factually accurate. What bothers me, though, is that they don't hesitate to post a link to Allie's webpage. This is an invitation from the CBC to any and all to find all about this woman's family, where they live, what her children look like, etc. The photos relevant to the Liberals' character smear are already embedded in the story. A link to her personal website is entirely irrelevant and is an extremely irresponsible use of journalistic freedoms (not to mention our tax dollars).

Journalists aren't like bloggers. They are PAID to report facts and exercise their duties with great caution and responsibility. Sadly, some of them are failing on that front. What's worse is that apathetic viewers and readers may not even realize it.


Specifically, public auto insurance.

I HATE public auto insurance.

To be fair and honest, I disagree with what the government did with insurance a few years back. I think that tinkering with the system was an overly reactionary measure that prevented what would have been a natural correction in the market.

That being said, I can tell you first hand that public auto insurance is much, MUCH worse than what we have now.

I've been living in BC and had the misfortune of being an ICBC customer for almost 2 years. Let me tell you, Kevin Taft, that people in BC do NOT love their auto insurance system.

Yes, ICBC is cheaper for those who choose to accept only minimum coverage and for young drivers. That is a result of the socialist principles that drive public auto insurance. (And, before I get jumped on for being a blind ideologue, allow me to point out that public auto insurance has been introduced by socialist governments in each province that has the system.)

ICBC, however, is of no benefit for those who have had a lifetime of good driving. ICBC's good driver discount pales in comparison to what private insurers offer to their low-risk customers. My father, whose insurance DOUBLED when he and my mother moved to British Columbia, is a prime example. His grossly inflated premiums are paying to subsidize inexperienced and high-risk drivers who do not have the higher premiums that, in the private system, act as a natural deterrent for bad driving habits.

ICBC is also of no benefit to those of us who understand the value of proper insurance coverage and choose to put more than just the bare minimum on our vehicles. I can again use my father as an example... there is a vehicle in his garage that ICBC refuses to cover for its full value. I cannot fathom the rationale for refusing to cover the full value for someone with a spotless driving record over 40 years. Perhaps the system can't afford too many payouts like that.

I can actually believe that public auto insurers refuse full coverage for expensive vehicles because of the cost of payouts. ICBC is notorious for the excessive bureaucracy and denial or reduction of claims. I have yet to meet anyone here who has had a positive experience with a claim at ICBC.

And yet, Kevin Taft and Brian Mason continue to pimp public auto insurance as the solution to all our insurance woes. They even get Ralph Nader-esque interest groups to back up their assertions. We expect this kind of talk from Brian Mason... after all, public everything is a staple of the NDP. But why is Kevin Taft a proponent of public auto insurance?

My bet is that this is the issue that finally exposes him and his party for the NDP-lite that they are. Although they've managed to convince themselves that they're a reasonable alternative to the PCs, policies like this prove otherwise.

The right thing to do is to follow the Judge's orders and remove the cap on soft-tissue injuries, then re-examine the private insurance system to bring it back in line with other jurisdictions that use the private system. I'm hoping that my party can be convinced to do this.

I also know from experience, though, that the ABSOLUTELY WRONG thing to do is to listen to Kevin Taft and Brian Mason and bring in public auto insurance. It would be a reactionary and, more importantly, an irreversible mistake.


Now that the rants are out of the way, I thought I would give kudos to Daveberta and the Enlightened Savage for their ongoing series of constituency profiles.

Of particular interest to me have been Dave's profile on Edmonton Calder and E.S.'s profile on Calgary Currie... Calder because I ran GOTV for the PCs there in 2004 and Currie because I used to work for its former MLA.

The constituency with which I am most familiar, obviously, is Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo. I consider myself to be a friend of both the incumbent PC MLA and his Liberal opponent and will be watching this race with great interest. Given the importance of Fort McMurray and the Wood Buffalo region to the provincial economy, i've decided to do a similar style of profile on Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo a little further along in the campaign. Stay tuned.


  1. Other than the environment, Taft and Mason policies are making many Tory supporters nervous.

  2. BR, I actually agree with you about the Allie W. issue. Don't get me wrong, I think the fact that 34% of the ROs are Tories is a problem, not because it means they are going to act in a biased fashion, but rather because it's just another example of blatant patronage. However, I do think the media is being irresponsible in exploiting this woman's personal life (regardless of the extent to which she made it available).

    On public auto insurance, though - I definitely disagree. National groups, like the Consumer's Association of Canada, have found that Albertans pay 30% more for inferior insurance compared to residents of BC. So while I appreciate your anecdotes, I would challenge you to provide more systemic evidence to support your rants.

  3. Stay on the media. They have a tendancy to report nothing very accurately. Search out the article written about "Red Deer Students Grill Premier". There was no grilling, the questions weren't very grill like. Guess they need a story. Stay on them. I think they misrepresenting what is said by the Tories, the Libs, the NDs and the Alliance, Wildrose, whatever they are called. They have no check and only the bloggers can be a check.

  4. It's expected the Wildrose Alliance guy in Dunvegan will win, but he is anti-nuclear power. Hence the Wildrose Alliance folks lost my vote. Ed seems to be spoon feeding me pablum. Taft and Mason are similar, but Mason seems stronger, but I don't like their environment stance.

  5. There is a difference in someone who is curious in looking someone up on Google (where they have to know the name to do so) and having CBC splash a link on a national website where all sorts of CrEEpsters (CBC readers) can go and stalk them.

  6. "Kevin Taft and Brian Mason continue to PIMP public auto insurance as the solution to all our insurance woes."

    Hahahaha... great line AT.

  7. If you look at the returning officers coverage closely, you'll notice that nobody has prejudged these people, including Allie Wojtaszek. The problem isn't the individuals, it's the system. Alberta is the only place where the Premier's Office submits a list of candidates and the Chief Electoral Officer is expected to rubber stamp it. Combine that system with a submitted list rife with highly active PC members, and you've got a severe problem with optics.

    Months ago, Alberta's Chief Electoral Officer called for an end to political involvement in the recruiting and appointing of returning officers. Hmmm... Independent hiring of election officials. That sounds like a no-brainer to me.

    I believe and hope that every district returning officer will execute his or her duties honourably. But highly partisan PCs should not serve as returning officers, any more than I should (not that Ed bothered to ask me).

    On the insurance issue, I have had a number of friends who kept their BC plates for months after moving to Alberta, just because they knew they faced a jump in premiums when switching from ICBC. Alberta's rates are high, and so are the profits.