Friday, December 29, 2006

Hussein Executed

No matter what your view of capital punishment OR of foreign involvement in Iraq's internal affairs, the world became, in a small way, a better place at 10:05 pm Eastern Time.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Keep Those Comments Coming!

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Joyous Kwanzaa, and just general warm salutations, ES Nation.

Well, I'm about a quarter of the way through my move into a smaller, albeit more convenient, apartment. This explains the lack of new postings recently.

I wanted to thank everyone for contributing their comments to the posts thus far, and want to encourage you all to keep it up! Your remarks, whether critical of my view or supportive of it, contribute to the "enlightened" tone of discussion we're trying to set up around here. I want to let everyone know that, so long as they're expressed in a civil way and at least grammatically recognizable as english (or close to it), I welcome ALL comments, not just those in support of my position.

In fact, that brings me to my next point: I'm soliciting opinions on a few items for upcoming entries to the blog... I'd like to know what you think about any (or all) of the following 3 topics:

1. Jean Chretien's involvement in the Stephane Dion leadership of the Federal Liberals
2. Stephen Harper's Senate reform proposals
3. The political polarization of North America, and the "Left-Right" labels - what do they mean?

If you'd like to share your insights with me, while I try to get mine into something legible and suitable for publication, contact me at my email (rather than posting as a "comment" on this post). The address is amishbuggyracing (at)

Obviously, use the "@" instead of (at), just trying to keep junk mail off my account.

Thanks again for reading, ES Nation... don't worry, I'm not ignoring you, just trying to build up a good, righteous, vitriolic rant to get everyone in the New Year's spirit. :)

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Dead Minister Walking...

Rona Ambrose is toast... you know it, I know it, everyone in the media or even remotely involved in political happenings in this country knows it... the only people who won't cop to it are Rona herself, Stephen Harper, and her alleged and likely successor, Jim Prentice.

Rona is a good MP, a good politician, and a good Minister. Many of the problems she has had in the Environment portfolio aren't of her own making, and (to her credit!) she hasn't moaned about it at all, she's just stood up day after day to be crucified by the opposition, environmental groups, and the media. This mess isn't her fault, and getting a new face in the Minister's seat will give the Tories a chance to re-boot the message and try to spin it another way. Same (far from perfect) plan, different communications strategy.

The ironic part about all of this, is that she's doing a better job than the government that was in power BEFORE this one, and most of her criticism is coming on behalf of that same party.

Let's review: The Conservative have plans to set emission targets by a certain date. A date that is, admittedy, so far in the distance that even Rona herself will be nearing retirement age. But, there IS a plan, however flawed it may be.

The Liberals, during their stay in government, offered precious little other than platitudes and lip service to the issue of Greenhouse emissions. They talked about how bad they were, about how evil we all were for idling our cars in the winter, about how Greenhouse Gases kidnapped the Lindberg Baby... but they DID absolutely NOTHING, other than sign the Kyoto Accords, frame them in an office somewhere on Parliament Hill, and do absolutely JACK to meet the targets, other than pay Rick Mercer to scold us all.
Tell me to lose 10 pounds, and I'll at least know what I have to do. Reduce my emissions by 1 tonne? What's THAT going to take? So much for Chili night...

The Liberals were either so out-to-lunch on Greenhouse Gases, or thought so little of the average Canadian's grasp of environmental issues, that when they signed the Kyoto Accord, they had a group of children bring a big Santa-sack of asthma inhalers to Uncle Jean's throne, where (coincidentally) the media were all assembled, to give the inhalers to St. Jean for magically healing all of the juvenile asthma in Canada. By signing something that said Greenhouse Gases were bad. The ones that melt the ice caps. Global warming. Not smog. Not air pollutants. Not asthma. Greenhouse gases.
Of course, the media ate it up, as though children routinely walked across the nation collecting all of the asthma inhalers that are no longer needed because Botswana sold us emission credits and lugged them, in a big sack, to the Prime Minister's Office.
Happens all the time. Totally believable. Makes perfect sense. Except for one teeny, tiny little thing...

KYOTO has JACK ALL to do with AIR POLLUTION and ASTHMA. It's about Greenhouse gases and global warming, period. The Conservatives admit that global warming exists, and generally agree that it's probably, at least partially, the fault of man. So we're already doing better than American conservatives. They're introducing targets, however flawed, to reduce our greenhouse emissions, and also setting targets for air pollution. You know, the crap in the air that ACTUALLY causes Asthma?

The Conservative plan is not perfect, but it's a plan... the Liberals offered nothing but photo ops and platitudes while in power, so shame on them for pretending to be holier-than-Steve on this issue. Are the current Liberal policies on the Environment more "green" than the Tories? Perhaps... but where the Liberals offered only pretty words, the Tories actually offered us a PLAN, in less than one year. And however flawed that plan may be, it's better than nothing, which is exactly what Chretien and Martin gave us in 13 years.

- ES

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Introducing Ed Stelmach as "Fallout Boy"...

Alright... so the blogosphere and the monkeys in the print media are going crazy over the perceived lack of representation that the major centres are getting in the new cabinet.

Let's review...

Brian Mason, Alberta's own political masochist, believes it's not right that the 2 centres that provide 2/3rds of the province's population get less than a quarter of the cabinet seats.

I agree... IF that were true, it wouldn't be right. I'll even go so far as to suggest that the major centres, as they are defined legally, ARE under-represented. But to be an NDP member, let alone the LEADER, requires questionable math skills at the best of times, so let's break this down a bit...

The number of people living WITHIN CITY LIMITS of Edmonton and Calgary account for 52% of the province's population. 52% is NOT two-thirds. That 52% of Albertans is represented by 4 ministers whose constituencies are within the limits of those 2 cities, 1 in Edmonton and 3 in Calgary. Mason is right, though, that 4 ministers out of 19 is NOT representative of the populations of the cities. They're just not as badly slighted as he'd like all of us to believe.

Now, let's give Brian the benefit of the doubt, and suggest that he was talking about the Greater Calgary and Greater Edmonton Areas, and just because I'm in a giving mood, let's even grant him the questionable math that leads us to conclude that 2/3rds of all Albertans live in those areas in and around the 2 major cities. If this is the case, then there are cabinet seats for THIRTEEN MLA's who come from ridings an hour or less from one of the 2 major centres. So, if we accept at face value that 2/3rds (66%) of the population is in the GCA and GEA, we look and conclude that 13/19ths (68%) of the ministers come from either the cities or areas close enough to the cities to be counted in Mason's GCA and GEA. THAT, folks, is OVER-representation. The difference is, instead of MLA's representing high-rise condos, you've got MLA's representing the folks on the acreages near Cochrane and Strathmore. The folks who live less than an hour from the city, WORK in the city, and sleep (and vote) outside city limits. If you're going to count them in your 2/3rds, you have to count their MLA as a City-area MLA.

So, how could Ed have avoided this? What WAS he thinking?

The Alberta Alliance is making gains, and putting Ted Morton in SRD isn't going to slow them down any. They're not going to win city ridings any time soon, kids... the Alliance has their sights set on Rural Alberta. They've got one seat in the South already, and will likely pick up some more in the South... but not in any of the 4 "Calgary Area Rural" ridings that have ministers in them. They'll probably be severely slowed down in the North, just by virtue of Ed's win. So, by appointing the ministers he has, Ed has limited potential Alliance gains to 2 or 3 Southern Alberta Rural ridings.

That said, the cities (led by their pied pipers in the media) are upset over their "offensive" under-representation, despite my evidence above that they have, in fact, as much say as they should. Upset enough to vote Liberal? Maybe... Edmonton has 3 Tory seats, and one of those is a popular Red Tory and Minister (Dave Hancock), so he's not going anywhere... The other 2 Tories are going to be slaves to the war waging between Edmontonian discontent over the cabinet and the reality that a "Northern Guy" now leads the Tories. At worst, the PC's lose their 2 non-cabinet seats to the Liberals in Edmonton. At best, the maintain their 3-seat beach-head, or improve their fortunes slightly (1 or 2 seat gain) through Dave and Ed's force of will and Northern roots alone.

Calgary may lose a seat or 2 in the weaker North and downtown core to the Liberals over this perceived slight by the PC's and Ed, but the reality is that the Liberals would need to run the PERFECT campaign, and Ed would have to come out in a televised interview and say, point blank, "there aren't more Calgarians in Cabinet because we hate those bastards" for the Liberals to take more than half of Calgary.

So, in actuality, Ed may have cut off his opponents at the pass with this cabinet... although the cities are getting worked up into a self-righteous foaming rage over this, the reality is that the only things Ed needs to worry about are losing a few seats in the South to the Alliance, which may have happened no matter WHO got put into cabinet, losing a couple seats in the Liberal/NDP stronghold of Edmonton, and losing 5, at the VERY most, in Calgary.

Stelmach needs to lose over TWENTY seats to lose his majority. At most, he's going to lose 10 over this cabinet. That's a victory, however small and considering he needed to reward his supporters, which is just a fact of political life.

But some people are still going to feel under-represented in the Cabinet, not matter WHAT happens. Not enough women. Not enough minorities. How about THIS statistic? Only 9.71% of Albertans identified themselves as being of Ukrainian descent, yet ONE HUNDRED percent of the Premier is Ukrainian. SCANDAL!

Much ado abou nothing... geographically, this cabinet makes sense. Let's see if they can do their jobs, let's see what happens in the next election, THEN pass judgement on Ed's wisdom.

- ES

Friday, December 15, 2006

Cabinet Regional Break-down

Cabinet members come from constituencies in Yellow.

- ES

Cabinet Analysis

Alright, here we go... first impressions. Just for fun, everyone who is (or was) a farmer at some point is marked with an asterisk (*). (My mother being a farm girl herself, I've got nothing against farmers, they just seem to be pretty numerous in the cabinet).

* Ed Stelmach (Premier) - I don't know, pretty risky choice. :P In fairness, only time will tell with many of these selections, but there's already an undercurrent of dissatisfaction from the cities about the disproportionate rural representation at the cabinet table. The Liberals would be smart to capitalize on this, especially in Edmonton and central Calgary.

* Lloyd Snelgrove (President of the Treasury Board) - The man who controls the province's purse strings. Represents a rural, Eastern riding, 5 years experience as an MLA, plenty of committee work, will essentially be Ed's right-hand man.

* Doug Horner (Minister of Advanced Education and Technology) - Solid business and agricultural backround, from the Greater Edmonton Area. He's been a pretty solid minister in the past (Agriculture), but you can't get much more opposite from Agriculture than Advanced Ed & Technology. His varied background indicates he'll be able to adapt.

Iris Evans (Minister of Employment, Immigration and Industry) - The Greater Edmonton Area MLA has served as Minister of Health for the past 2 years, and managed not to attract many of the slings and arrows tossed towards Ralph over the Third Way debacle. She's a safe choice, although she doesn't seem to have any specific expertise in the area.

* Mel Knight (Minister of Energy) - Mel founded and ran an energy sector service company in 1970 - hopefully, he's kept up on the changes that have happened in the sector since then. He's got an extremely varied background, and previously served on the Standing Policy Committee on Energy and Sustainable Development. Safe pick.

Dave Hancock (Minister of Health and Wellness) - The highest profile of Ed's second-ballot supporters in this cabinet. Part of Dave's leadership platform was the elimination of health-care premiums, and to use tax incentives to promote healthy choices. As Minister of Health, he has a chance to champion those causes. Dave was a good candidate, and has been a good minister in the past, he should do extremely well here. The ONLY Minister from an actual Edmonton riding.

* Ray Danyluk (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing) - Ray has served for several years on the Standing Policy Committee on Agriculture and Municipal Affairs, so the Municipal Affairs portfolio should contain few surprises for him. That being said, although this riding is adjaccent to Fort McMurray, the drastic infrastructure deficits in the larger centres makes this choice questionable. No one would argue that rural municipalities are also in desperate need of roads and bridges, but this position needed to be filled by someone from a major centre. He may not screw up, but Ed could have made some political hay with this choice, and didn't.

Ron Liepert (Minister of Education) - Ron is one of 3 Calgary ministers, and his first big challenge is to come to some sort of agreement with the Calgary Catholic teachers, who are threatening to strike by March. He's a first-term MLA with a business background, and his ability (or inability) to make deals and come to compromise is going to be on display in this ministry.

Janis Tarchuk (Minister of Children's Services) - As always, this portfolio goes to a female MLA, as men are clearly unable to administer children's issues (the Y chromosome hates children, it's a scientific fact). Janis has served on basically every committee in Edmonton EXCEPT Children's Services, and would have been a better fit in Education, or TPRC (Tourism, Parks, Recreation and Culture). That said, she's been an MLA since 1997, and knows the game. This may be a "test-drive", for Ed to see if she can handle something relatively harmless before a promotion to something more high-profile.

Rob Renner (Minister of Environment) - an MLA with 13 years experience, Renner has been Minister of Municipal Affairs for the past 2 years. He will have to work closely with the freshly-minted Minister of Sustainable Resource Development (Ted Morton), so hopefully they get along. Rob's a veteran at the game, and should do fine in the Environment portfolio, provided he remembers that there are some folks in Ottawa, also elected by Albertans, who also have a thing or 2 to say about the Environment.

* George Groeneveld (Minister of Agriculture and Food) - A first-term MLA, George's rap sheet reads exactly as you'd hope the Minister of Agriculture's would. He's gotten his hands dirty, he's run the business end of things, and he's dealt with the Wheat Board. Safe pick for a ministry that much of Ed's grassroots support will be dealing with.

Lyle Oberg (Minister of Finance) - This position, by virtue of the creation of the position of President of the Treasury Board, has effectively been reduced back to "Provincial Treasurer", as has the status of its holder. Fitting, then, that this is where Ed has chosen to give Lyle his chance to earn his way back into the good graces of his caucus colleagues. Lyle will have a chance here to be a bean-counter and unofficial auditor, while ministers will not have to come to Lyle on bended knee for funding, but instead will go to Lloyd Snelgrove. I can't see Lyle doing much damage here, and it may prove to be a good place to start his political rehabilitation.

* Luke Ouellette (Minister of Infrastructure and Transportation) - Who better to be able to identify transportation needs than someone who represents a riding near Gasoline Alley? Luke did a fine job as Minister of Restructuring and Government Efficiency, and didn't make too many waves in that job. This is quite a higher profile job, though, especially considering the screaming from all corners of the province about the infrastructure deficit. He'd better get used to hearing from Mandel, Bronco, and Ray Danyluk's offices, because they're about to become his best friends, or his worst enemies.

Ron Stevens (Minister of Justice and Attorney General) - Ron keeps his portfolio, and Calgary keeps an effective minister at the cabinet table. Nothing risky whatsoever about this choice - Stevens has done the job, knows the people in the department, and knows the ins and outs of both the system and the ministry. In this case, the status quo is a good thing.

Greg Melchin (Minister of Seniors and Community Supports) - Poor Greg... Calgary's 3rd and final minister, this is the one portfolio that NOBODY wants. Nobody wants it, because Seniors complain. A lot. And loudly. They certainly have the right to do so, and some very good reasons. But Greg Melchin's new job title more accurately reads "Whipping Boy for the Seniors of Alberta". Some may view Greg's demotion a few steps down the totem pole as being based on his socially conservative views, but the more accurate reality is that he's just a victim of numbers - not every Calgary minister can be a top-10 guy. Should do well, provided he has (or quickly develops) a thick skin.

Guy Boutilier (Minister of International, Intergovernmental and Aboriginal Relations) - Sheesh, try fitting all of that on one business card. Guy's going to have a steep learning curve here, but I think he's up to it. He's going to have to get used to speaking not just as an MLA, but as minister, ESPECIALLY as relates to his Aboriginal Relations portfolio. I've met Guy, and liked him. He's taken a lot of heat lately over a completely ridiculous performance he gave, on the record, and rightly so. Hopefully, he's learned from that experience and will keep his cabinet portfolio in mind whenever he speaks in public. Would have been better back in Municipal Affairs, but we'll see if he can learn the ropes before the Liberals try to take Ottawa back from those evil Harper Tories.

Ted Morton (Minister of Sustainable Resource Development) - There were whispers that Ted would end up here due to his love of the outdoors, and sure enough, here he is. This could either be a good chance for Ted to cool his heels and prove he's an able administrator, or an environmental catastrophe in the making, given his close personal relationships with (and possible large monetary contributions to his leadership bid by) several people whose job it is to cut down as many trees as possible. If Ed knows of Ted's ties to the sawmills and keeps a leash on him, this may work out. But the conservation groups that have dealt with Ted, to absolutely no avail, since he became an MLA for an area with logging issues are going to be beside themselves over this appointment, and with good reason.

Fred Lindsay (Solicitor General and Minister of Public Security) - Oy... there are bad fits, and then there are bad fits. Fred Lindsay's entire, on-the-record, relationship with Law Enforcement and Security reads like this: "auxiliary constable with Parkland County from 1972 to 1974". Period. Harvey Cenaiko did a god job in this portfolio, and as a former cop was suited to the job. A victim of the "Urban vs. Rural" numbers game, though, this ministry loses Harvey and gets Fred Lindsay. If Fred realizes that the first step to wisdom is to admit that you know nothing, this COULD work out, in the long term. In the short-term, though, this office had better have a good Assistant Deputy Minister who's been there a while, or this could get messy.

* Hector Goudreau (Minister of Tourism, Parks, Recreation and Culture) - The re-named Community Devlopment portfolio finds itself with some castaways in the areas of film and tourism, which had been under other ministries previously. Hector looks like a close runner up fr the Agriculture ministry, so some of the haughty folks from the "Culture" portion of the portfolio are going to be somewhat miffed they're begging for dollars from a farmer. He'll have to work closely with the Minister of SRD (Ted Morton) and the Minister of Environment (Rob Renner), so hopefully the 3 get along, or can at least be professional. In my experience, rural folks can generally put hard feelings aside to get the job done, so hopefully Hector can do so for all 3 of them, as neither Rob nor Ted are exactly the farming type.

So, for the record: 8 current or former farmers in a 19-person cabinet. Not TOO bad, but of more concern is the fact that there are a total of 4 ministers from within the limits of the 2 cities that account for 52% of the provincial population. There is a real chance for the Liberals to attack the cities on this underrepresentation in the cabinet.

In the near future, I'll review Ed's campaign platform, and look at which ministers will be responsible for following up on which ideas.

As if THIS wasn't enough, there's word we may have a Federal Cabinet shuffle in the works, in advance of a possible NDP motion to cause the Federal Government to fall, and give us a spring election...

I have GOT to get me some sponsors, so I can quit my job and blog all day. These darn politicians won't give me a moment's peace. :P

- ES

We've Got A Cabinet!

Here's the official release from the Premier's Office.

Ed Stelmach (Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville)

Premier, President of Executive Council, Chair of Agenda and Priorities, Vice-Chair of Treasury Board

Lloyd Snelgrove (Vermilion-Lloydminster)

President of the Treasury Board, Minister of Service Alberta, (Minister Responsible for Personnel Administration Office)

Doug Horner (Spruce Grove-Sturgeon-St. Albert)

Minister of Advanced Education and Technology

Iris Evans (Sherwood Park)

Minister of Employment, Immigration and Industry

Mel Knight (Grande Prairie-Smoky)

Minister of Energy

Dave Hancock (Edmonton-Whitemud)

Minister of Health and Wellness, Government House Leader

Ray Danyluk (Lac La Biche-St. Paul)

Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing

Ron Liepert (Calgary-West)

Minister of Education

Janis Tarchuk (Banff-Cochrane)

Minister of Children's Services

Rob Renner (Medicine Hat)

Minister of Environment, Deputy Government House Leader

George Groeneveld (Highwood)

Minister of Agriculture and Food

Lyle Oberg (Strathmore-Brooks)

Minister of Finance

Luke Ouellette (Innisfail-Sylvan Lake)

Minister of Infrastructure and Transportation

Ron Stevens (Calgary-Glenmore )

Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Deputy Government House Leader

Greg Melchin (Calgary-North West)

Minister of Seniors and Community Supports

Guy Boutilier (Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo)

Minister of International, Intergovernmental and Aboriginal Relations

Ted Morton (Foothills-Rocky View)

Minister of Sustainable Resource Development

Fred Lindsay (Stony Plain)

Solicitor General and Minister of Public Security

Hector Goudreau (Dunvegan-Central Peace)

Minister of Tourism, Parks, Recreation and Culture

Analysis shortly.

- ES

Brace Yerself...

"Brace Yerself"... it's not just Australian foreplay anymore, it's also the advice being given both to the general public and to public sector staffers with only a few hours to go until a new cabinet is announced.

There have been some rather large changes to the structure of many of the ministries, with several being eliminated altogether and their various departments being passed around to the survivors like the credit cards from a dead man's wallet, or sponsorship contracts from a Liberal government. The department *I* work for, as an example, will continue to exist under its current administration, but there will be enough changes and shuffling that it's safe to say new business cards will be printed, en masse, very shortly around ES's office.

Yesterday, to aid in blogging efforts (AND because I'm a total techno-gheek) I picked up the newest handset from Fido, the Sony Ericsson Z710i. VERY slick, and it will allow me to update the blog remotely with more regularity, which will certainly come in handy. Also lots of cool toys and functions, but this isn't a phone blog, so if you want more info, email me at the address on my profile. :)

Now then, the podcast idea is still floating around out there, as is the potential for something more visual. As an iPod Nano owner myself, I'm curious how many people would prefer something on video as opposed to something purely audio. The hardware and logistical issues aside, it seems to me that audio podcasts are more universally consumable, but I await the verdict from the members of ES Nation. All I know for sure is, it will certainly be a LOT harder to stay anonymous on a video recording.

Another aside, it's nice to see the acceptance that I've been given from the rest of the blogosphere. I readily admit I'm new to the game (not even a MONTH yet, I don't think), but it's nice to see the props and links going up all over the web as people realize that there may, in fact, be some substance behind this oh-so-stylish Pseudo-Calgarian's political waxings. I look forward to meeting many of you in the coming months, and will be in contact if/when I'm passing through your respective necks of the woods.

As for cabinet, as I said above, only a few short hours until we get an announcement, and then I can promptly get drunk if I end up with either of my own personal "gruesome twosome" MLA's as minister - since both will no doubt be IN the cabinet, I've got better than a 1-in-10 chance. God help me.

Courtesy of the Alberta Government's Website, here is the new structure of Cabinet.


(Executive Council)

  • Maintains responsibility for policy coordination and the Public Affairs Bureau.
1. President of the Treasury Board

Minister of Service Alberta

Responsible for Personnel Administration Office

  • A Secretariat, separate from Finance, will support the Minister as Chair of Treasury Board who will be responsible for expenditure management. Includes the Office of the Controller (now in Finance), capital planning (now in Infrastructure and Transportation) and internal audit (now in Executive Council).
  • Service Alberta combines the functions of Government Services with Restructuring and Government Efficiency to better serve Albertans and provide more coordinated services within the government. The ministry will also be responsible for government vehicles and air transportation (now in Infrastructure and Transportation) and for the Personnel Administration Office.
2. Advanced Education and Technology
  • Merges the functions of the existing ministries of Advanced Education and Innovation and Science.
3. Municipal Affairs and Housing
  • Maintains functions of Municipal Affairs along with responsibility for affordable housing programs (now in Seniors and Community Supports).
  • Also responsible for libraries, community and voluntary sector services (now in Community Development).
4. Energy
  • In addition to current responsibilities, the ministry will take over responsibility for bio-fuels (now in Agriculture, Food and Rural Development).
5. Health and Wellness
  • Maintains current functions.
6. Employment, Immigration and Industry
  • The ministry will include the existing programs provided by Human Resources and Employment.
  • Takes over immigration programs (now in Human Resources and Employment; Economic Development and Advanced Education).
  • Also responsible for economic development programs (now in Economic Development), rural development (now in Agriculture Food and Rural Development) as well as the Northern Alberta Development Council.
7. Education
  • Maintains current functions.
8. Children's Services
  • Maintains current functions.
9. Environment
  • Maintains current functions.
10. Agriculture and Food
  • Maintains current functions with the exceptions of rural development which moves to Employment, Immigration and Industry, and the bio-fuels program which moves to Energy.
11. Finance
  • Maintains current functions of economic policy, revenue and development of the budget.
  • Treasury Board support and the Office of the Controller move to the newly-created Treasury Board Secretariat.
12. Infrastructure and Transportation
  • Maintains current functions with the exceptions of government vehicles and air transportation which move to Service Alberta. Responsibility for capital planning also moves to the Treasury Board Secretariat.
13. Justice and Attorney General
  • Maintains current functions.
14. Seniors and Community Supports
  • Maintains current functions, including seniors housing, with the exception of affordable housing programs which move to Municipal Affairs and Housing.
15. International, Intergovernmental and Aboriginal Relations
  • Maintains current functions of International and Intergovernmental Relations and absorbs responsibility for Alberta's international offices and trade (now in Economic Development) and Aboriginal Affairs (now in Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development).
16. Sustainable Resource Development
  • Maintains current functions.
17. Solicitor General and Public Security
  • Maintains current functions of Solicitor General and Public Security.
  • The Alberta Liquor and Gaming Commission will report to the Minister.
18. Tourism, Parks, Recreation and Culture
  • Maintains functions of the current ministry of Community Development and takes on responsibility for lottery funding programs (now in Gaming) and tourism and film programs (now in Economic Development).

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Rumours and Ideas

Hey, all... sorry for the unprecedented delay since the last post - real life has been interfering in my rigorous Blog regimen, and promises to do so for much of the next 4 to 5 days, as well. Never fear, ES Nation - you'll get your Cabinet reaction. :)

Been hearing some VERY disquieting rumours as to the identity of the next minister in charge of my own department - if, of course, that department REMAINS in its current ministry after the restructuring. I know that many Albertans view Ed Stelmach's governing style as "ho-hum", which is odd considering he's been in power for about NEGATIVE 32 hours at this point... but when you cut 4 to 6 ministries, you create a lot of chaos in the public sector as departments move, bucks begin stopping at different desks than they did before, and people get new job titles, letterhead, hours of work, and time sheets. Needless to say, a lot of people who pull paycheques from the Bank of Ralph are quite nervous about what they're due to hear on Friday morning.

Been toying with an idea in my head, and I'm looking for some feedback from you, the loyal public... what about a Podcast covering Alberta political happenings? The format, and this is VERY provisional, might involve a discussion with 3 people, neither journalists NOR politicians, but who follow politics very closely... lay people, or bloggers. You could have one dedicated right-wing nut-job, one dedicated left-wing bleeding-heart, and a centrist (read: ME) discussing the issues of the day. And I use that only as a figure of speech, because it'd likely be a once every 2 weeks or once per month kind of idea. Is this something people would actually be interested in? Or do we all get our differing viewpoints from waypoints in the Blogosphere?

I look forward to your comments... I'm not married to the idea, as it'd be a LOT of work, but if there's a demand for it, I'd be happy to do it...

- ES

Friday, December 8, 2006

Winning Ideas from the Losing Candidates

Edmonton, Alberta... home to the Premier of the Province, burial ground for the broken dreams and shattered hopes of 7 men who tried, and failed, to ascend to the throne of this Petro-Fuelled Paradise.

But, what light through yonder window breaks? It's a collection of policies from the defeated leadership contenders.

Now, I want to start off by saying this up-front: If all of these policies get introduced, it will be a NIGHTMARE for the Alberta economy. Not even WE can afford all of this. But these are the best policies that I saw come to light in the PC Leadership race. The best thing about this situation, is that UNlike a General Election, where you're accused by the Opposition of "Stealing our ideas!", all of the candidates were PC Party members, and all of these policies are PC Party policy ideas, though many of them have yet to be ratified by a policy convention. If even a FEW of these ideas get picked up and used by Premier Stelmach, Alberta will be a better place in which to live, both for our generation and the ones that follow.

Now, Ed can justifiably claim to have won a mandate from the party to move forward with his own ideas. I've purposely avoided listing them here, because this is the best of the LOSING candidates. But these are GOOD ideas, that will move Alberta forward and, as a bonus, make the PC Party quite electable in the future.

I've broken the policy ideas down into categories, and the ideas will be presented by category. I've also tried to give credit where credit is due, so the leadership contender who brought the idea forward is referenced after each point. I'm quite aware that several of these policies were brought forth by several candidates, and in those cases, I credited the first one I noticed who presented the policy.

If you've already forgotten who the candidates were, here's a quick legend:
JD - Jim Dinning
TM - Ted Morton
VD - Victor Doerksen
LO - Lyle Oberg
DH - Dave Hancock
MN - Mark Norris
GM - Gary McPherson


  • Make provisions in the current Alberta Health-Care system to include chiropractic care, physiotherapy and Traditional Chinese Medicine and other alternatives to promote and maintain good health. – GM
  • To help free up the backlog to see doctors, let minor cases and complaints be seen and treated by Nurse Practitioners. - GM
  • Eliminate health care premiums – VD
  • Create a Health innovation fund, with which to pursue new technologies to streamline the diagnosis of illness and injury, the treatments, and the promotion of good health. - VD
  • Offer tax incentives for healthy choices (gym memberships, etc.) – DH
  • Institute a province-wide smoking ban in all public places. - DH
  • Locate medi-centres near major emergency wards so that people can get the right service at the right place without long waits. This would better utilize the highly trained staff in the emergency wards to deal with genuine emergencies. – MN


  • Offer optional programs in areas such as money, credit, invention creation, investing, and entrepreneurism, to supplement the current embarrassingly slim amount of territory covered by the current mandatory “Career And Life Management” course at High School. - GM
  • Add 60,000 Post-Secondary spaces. – JD
  • Assume full control over Student Loans in Alberta. Lessen the Interest Rate (to Prime), and reduce the expected Parental Contribution. Loans will also take into account not just tuition, but the other costs associated with post-secondary, such as the real costs of books, living expenses in the major centres, etc. - JD
  • Use the Internet to provide further post-secondary learning, adding to the successes of on-line training available through Athabasca University, and the University of Phoenix (which has campuses everywhere in North America but Phoenix). – MN
  • Make the final year of post-secondary tuition free for high achievers. – MN


  • Alberta to become a GST Free Province, with the province paying the appropriate amount to Ottawa each year, but Alberta consumers not paying the tax on their purchases. – GM
  • Extend tax relief to those caring for older relatives. - VD
  • Create a $25 Billion Health Trust while we have the money to do so, to cover any unexpected costs that may come up relating to our Health system while the province is not nearly as well-off as we are currently. Protect that fund with legislation, making it illegal for any government to draw on the Trust so long as Alberta’s Budget Surplus remains over, say, $5 Million. – VD
  • Pass a "Fiscal Sustainability Act", to ensure that today’s wealth is not completely spent, leaving nothing for lean years ahead. – JD
  • Expand the Alberta Family Tax credit. – JD
  • Raise the so-called "sin taxes" (cigarettes, alcohol, and tobacco). – DH
  • Create an Alberta Pension Plan, supplementing the CPP - TM


  • Review pricing structure for water, to promote conservation – smaller users, like residences, should pay less per litre than large users, such as the oilpatch. – GM
  • Review current forestry practices, to ensure that large-scale, commercial logging is appropriate and sustainable in the areas in which it is currently being performed, without a negative impact to tourism (logging currently happens inside Kananaskis Country, for example). – GM
  • Prepare Integrated Watershed/Land Use policies. – VD
  • Institute a province-wide Blue Box recycling program. - VD
  • Follow the recommendations of the Water For Life strategy – JD


  • Regional policy conferences, to promote greater attendance and input from Party members – VD
  • Utilize computers & the internet for reviewing and voting on Party policy – VD
  • Leader of the Party and the Party president to do annual tours through the whole province, not only speaking but hopefully also LISTENING. – JD
  • Hold longer sessions of the Legislature. – JD
  • Fixed election dates - DH
  • Set term limits for Premiers – TM


  • Ensure that the "last mile" of the Alberta Supernet is finished. – JD
  • Double the funding for the Alberta Foundation for the Arts. – JD
  • Stop STUDYING the High-speed rail link between Calgary and Edmonton (for the 30th time), and start BUILDING it – as a P3. – DH
  • Fast-track the ring roads in Edmonton and Calgary – the current backlog on the projects is a running joke, and nobody in Calgary has ANY realistic hope of seeing the ring-road completed in the next 50 years – LO


  • Invest $25 Million to allow children of lower-income families to participate in organized sports – VD

  • Increase penalties for drunk driving. - DH

Now, not to say that these are the only things that need to happen in Alberta in the near future - far from it. But, they're the best ideas that were brought forward during the PC Leadership Race. And by "the best", I mean the most likely to a) make Alberta a better place for all of its residents, present and future, and b) get the PC Party re-elected, to lead Alberta and implement these policies. The other parties can have their "best policies" list. THIS is the one for the PC's, and they'd be well-advised to consider some of them - they were conceived by some of the brightest strategists and advisors in the party.

- ES

Thursday, December 7, 2006

The "Nose-In-Everyone's-Business" Crowd is Mad at Stephen

Conservative and Family Values groups are mad at Stephen Harper for the wording of the long-awaited motion to seek House permission to re-open the Same-Sex Marriage debate.

House Leader Rob Nicholson introduced the motion, which asked the House: ''to call on government to introduce legislation to restore the traditional definition of marriage without affecting civil unions and while respecting existing same-sex marriages.''

What are the upset activists mad about? The last half of the statement, of course: "without affecting civil unions and while respecting existing same-sex marriages.'' They want that period right after the words "traditional definition of marriage". Which is fine for them... they're not trying to moderate their image for the public in an effort to get re-elected. They've got their noses stuck in everyone else's business, and don't care that the rest of the country knows it, because they're convinced they're right.

The wording of this motion is as politically saavy a move as the Tories could make without outright BREAKING their election pledge to revisit the issue. The Far Right still sees it as a betrayal, but I wonder who ELSE they think is going to champion their cause in the House if not the Tories?

A woman identified as Executive Director of a coalition against abortion, whose name escapes me right now, describes the motion as a "betrayal".


If you're AGAINST abortion, shouldn't you be FOR gay marriage? I mean, not only does it open up the pool of potential adoptive couples, but, when last I checked, not a lot of gay relationships were resulting in abortions... unless, of course, your issue isn't abortion at all, but simply an effort to make sure the world is crafted to fit your exact world-view and dogma, and anyone who does something you think is wrong should be fined or put in jail or otherwise punished... so much for "judge not, lest ye be judged".

This speaks to a larger trend in politics right now, which is the attempts of vocal minorities to impose their own values onto the legal code, to codify their own morals, values and beliefs for all of society to follow. Conversion by politics, in a sense. "If we think this is wrong, it should be against the law". But, WHY is it wrong? "Because God says so!" Damn... I'd hate to see THAT phone bill...

Values-based policy is antithetical to the whole concept of conservative political thought. We all want a government with Values - honesty, integrity, etc. But the idea of government dictating religious values to the people of Canada is and SHOULD BE as repugnant and insulting to true conservatives as the blatant attempts by previous Liberal governments to impose their secular values on the entire nation (Health Care is a Canadian Value, Day Care is a Canadian Value, Voting Liberal is a Canadian Value, Bilingualism is a Canadian Value, Bashing Americans is a Canadian Value) – conservatives, by definition, believe that constituents should elect governments who represent their values, not that government should impose or indoctrinate those values into the general population. Conservatives demand by their nature that government stay OUT of the day-to-day lives of the citizenry, not that it insinuate itself and its own values into the social fabric of public and private life.

In short, Stephen Harper and the Conservatives have done the only thing they CAN do in this situation - they've kept their promise to revisit the issue, while still showing they have the flexibility to actually RESPECT the rights of the gay couples who have already been legally married, while disagreeing with the practice. They've shown they can disagree with something without making it illegal or outright nullifying contracts that have already been legally completed. This isn't just politically smart, it's the right thing to do - you can't come back 2 years after the fact and say to someone "bad news, the government just said that your wedding 2 years ago was a sham, you're not married, and you have no spousal rights".

And if the far-right, "Sticking Your Nose in Everyone Else's Business" crowd doesn't like it, they can form their own party, run in the next election, split the conservative vote, and give the country back to the Liberals, who I'm sure will be MUCH more willing to listen to disaffected right wingers about how the country should be run...

- ES

Monday, December 4, 2006

Anyone got any nails? Ed's gotta build a Cabinet...

Premier-Designate Stelmach announced today that he'll take the Oath as Premier of Alberta on Dec. 15th. He'll name a Cabinet at that time, or VERY slightly before.

So, what goes into Ed's Cabinet?

Well, first of all, it has to be said that he's gotten himself quite a bit of breathing room by taking the stance that "Cabinet is too large" during the leadership election. This gives him the ability to make whole-scale change without being accused of holding his own personal Kristallnacht against those Ministers who supported Dinning. I'd be surprised if half of the cabinet, at the end of the day, wasn't made up of Dinning supporters anyhow: There are just too many MLA's who supported Dinning to ignore them ALL.

Mark Norris WILL be in Stelmach cabinet, but he's got to win re-election as an MLA first. He certainly won't be likely to do it in the by-election in Calgary Elbow, to replace their outgoing MLA. Look for Mark to play a big role in the Cabinet after the next provincial election in a couple years.

Lyle... what to do with Lyle... you can't give him Health, because you're in favour of full, public funding, and he favours privitization of some services. The opposition would eat Lyle alive in the Legislature every day over the contradiction. Can Lyle serve in a major position? Unlikely... but WILL Lyle accept a minor Cabinet portfolio? I have my doubts... this one's hard to call.
I can tell you I sure as heck don't want him as the minister for MY particular sector of the government.

The Deputy Premier almost certainly has to come from Calgary, or the Tories risk losing more than a few votes to a Liberal party eager to capitalize on an attention-starved Calgary... Possibilities include Harvey Cenaiko, Ron Stevens, and Gary Mar. If you're betting, go with Stevens.

The Cabinet, as it is, is going to be almost completely blown up when Ed makes his announcements... he's not just shuffling deck chairs, he's going to be amalgamating ministries, moving departments from one ministry to another, creating new ministries... it all sounds simple, but take it from someone whose job it is to know who to call up the ladder - when they start moving the ladders, things get VERY complicated on the ground. Shirley McClellan has a shot at staying Minister of Finance. Everything else is up in the air. People who have proven to be capable ministers (who haven't already been mentioned) might be up for jobs, or Ed may have specific people in mind, due to their abilities, for ministries we don't even know yet will EXIST on Dec. 15th. Some of those whose past cabinet work has been notable include Iris Evans, Clint Dunford, and Heather Forsyth.

Past Cabinet experience will be helpful to Ed, but someone too associated with the "old guard" might prove a liability, so Stelmach will have to balance the 2 concerns carefully. Also needing balancing is the proportion of ministers from the North vs. the South, and also Urban vs. Rural. Any chinks in the armour that the Liberals can use to drive a wedge between Ed and voters, they will. Count on it.

And of course, the elephant in the room that nobody wants to deal with... what do you do with Ted Morton? He's got devoted followers who are party members (for now), but if you put him in too high-profile a position, you run the risk of having him embarass the province or the premier. Added to this is the fact that he's only been an MLA for 2 years. Offer something big, you risk offending long-time MLA's with more seniority (who are generally much better organized to help, or NOT help, your next leadership campaign). If you offer him something too small, you run the risk of offending him and his support, and then you may be facing him as the Leader of another party, along with his devoted followers, in 2 years time. MY guess is that we'll see Morton in the Cabinet, as something along the lines of "Minister Responsible for Democratic Renewal and Reform". A 2-year gig, one of his pet projects, and if he does the job well, you can promote him down the line and the ministry will be self-destroying - the better it does its job, the sooner it can vanish.


- ES

Sunday, December 3, 2006

Premier Stelmach - First Impressions

Haven't heard any of the speeches or anything, if any have been made - just a few impressions that flew through my head as I got word, and a quick look at the numbers.

Ed Stelmach's victory is proof positive that the democratic system of "one member, one vote" can work.

Consider: Stelmach was NOT the first choice of 65% of those who voted on Saturday. And yet, 58% of the ballots counted in the "3rd ballot" had Ed Stelmach on them. In truth, the total was likely much closer to 80%, but we'll never know exactly how many Dinning voters had Stelmach ranked as number 2. The point is: We didn't have a clear cut winner, but we have a consensus, and now we can move forward as a party, with Ed doing his damnedest to heal the deep rifts that this race has caused within the party.

We have NOT heard the last of Ted Morton, not by a longshot. He'll re-surface - but perhaps not with the PC Party, which rejected his view of Alberta overwhelmingly tonight. He could still be a force, though - consider the fact that more Albertans voted for the federal Tories in the last Federal Election than voted in the ENTIRE provincial election, all parties, combined, in 2004. Those extra 500,000 Tories and their votes could sure affect a provincial election that was won by a party boasting less than a half million votes in total, province-wide. It was personally satisfying to me, though, to see Ted finish 3rd. After dismissing Dinning this week as unable to get any more votes than the 30,000 he tallied last Saturday, Morton only drew 14,000 new votes this time, to Dinning's 21,000 new votes and Stelmach's THIRTY-FIVE THOUSAND new votes.

Dinning is done... Jim's going to be offered a position within the party, but he's had the rug pulled out from under him - much of it the doing of himself and his campaign strategists - and is going to lick his wounds outside of the public sphere. This campaign was a shining example of how to lose a job after you've already measured the office for curtains, and will be cited in countless political science courses for generations.

As for Ed Stelmach, Alberta's 13th Premier - I hope he does well. His competition at this point is limited. The biggest liability the Liberals have is their name - under any other name, Kevin Taft might be a legitimate threat. The Alberta Alliance will have a hell of a time winning in either Rural Alberta OR Northern Alberta, with Stelmach as Premier. We'll see what Morton can do with them in a couple years.

I'll review Stelmach's platform later on in the week, along with an analysis of the "best of the losing platforms", and comments on the Stephane Dion victory for the Federal Liberals.

But it's 3:15, and I am going to bed, comfortable with the knowledge that the Gestapo won't be knocking on my door tomorrow morning, demanding to know if I'm harbouring a same-sex couple. :)

- ES

p.s. Best results I've found thus far on Larry Johnsrude's blog.

Saturday, December 2, 2006

Busy Polls

Went by my own poll at around 3:00 pm to vote and must say it was quite a bit busier than I saw it last weekend. Whether that's just the time that a lot of people decided to come out this week, or a sign of things to come, I haven't the foggiest.

They were also much more thorough in checking ID this time around. Could be there were claims of fraud in the last round?

I'll be remotely posting results as I get them tonight - and as far into Sunday as I can stay conscious, if neccessary.

Also, can't help but think the election of Dion as Liberal Leader a few scant minutes ago could result in a swell of people who were undecided about whether to vote deciding to in fact come out and cast their ballots for Morton. The spectre of yet another Liberal P.M. from Quebec will no doubt be an irritating one, at best, for many Albertans who have felt, rightly or wrongly, that they've been financing the country and getting precious little say on anything for the past 20+ years. Ted's tough approach towards Ottawa plays well with those people anyway - Dion as Liberal Leader just reinforces the possibility for them a little more.

- ES

Friday, December 1, 2006

Nothing New Coming Today

Today and most of tomorrow are just a gong show for me, so don't expect anything new on the Blog today. Tomorrow, I will TRY (when not house-hunting) to post my "best policies of the defeated candidates" list. Failing that, expect it early next week.

I'll try to update tomorrow night to give running totals in as close to "real time" as I can, so check back tomorrow night (starting around 10 pm), and check back often. A little slack would be appreciated, as I'll be ducking out of a prior engagement every so often to dig for the results and get them posted. :)

- ES