Monday, March 24, 2008

Memo to the Calgary Flames...

Dear Flames:

Saw your 2-0 loss to the Avs tonight.

Thanks for nothing.


The Hard-Charging Edmonton Oilers

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Calgary's "Aryan Guard" - Better Than You & I Since 2006

Calgary Skinhead rally causes clash.

Author's Note:

Nation, every so often I cover a story that makes me sick to my stomach. In researching for this story, I've had to walk away from the computer several times. There will BE no links to the offensive garbage I've been reading to prep for this story - if you want to find this trash, Google it yourself. I'm not sullying my blog with links to this kind of filth.

2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:

... b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;

(Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, 1982)

This section of the CCRF gives groups like the Aryan Guard the right to think what they do, and express those thoughts publicly without fear of government reprisal provided said expression does not constitute a violation of another person's rights. This right, which my own forebears fled Germany to exercise, and whose children later returned with the Canadian Forces to protect and defend, also conveniently gives me the right to verbally tear them a new one. Which I will proceed to do... now.

The Aryan Guard, which as an organization has been around about as long as this Blog, is a group based out of Calgary, with a simple, 14-word mission statement:

"We must secure the existence of our people and a future for White children."

I couldn't agree more. Certainly, the history of North American society over the past 300 years shows that for far too long the Whites have been held down and oppressed. Who can forget the near eradication of the peaceful White settlers by those awful red-skinned savages, and their small-pox infected beaver pelts? Or the hundreds of shiploads of White slaves brought over from Ireland and Portugal to work in the cotton fields of African plantation owners? Or the abuse that Scots railroad workers suffered at the hands of their Asian bosses? Simply criminal. Thank heavens that now, at long last, we have a group willing to stand up for our oppressed race! A group that wants to get us off of the "Pale-Face Reservations", and have us take our proud place in society. A group that will fight for our right to earn equal pay for equal work. A group that makes sure nobody steals our White children and forces them to attend missionary schools, to be raped soul, mind, and body by their coloured, pagan oppressors in the name of "religious education, for their own good". As has been happening to us white people for hundreds of years.

The Aryan Guard, local heroes that they are, make the statement on their website that they "fully support The National Socialist Party of Canada and their goals". A quick run-through on the NSPC's website gives us THIS gem, on the main page:

"The attack by the corrupt political establishment in Ottawa has been driven by the B'nai Brith, The Canadian Jewish Congress, and The Simon Wiesenthal Center. The attack has been under the guise of 'human rights' by those who care nothing about REAL human rights. Their only concern is establishing a Jew-Marxist tyranny over Canada and the furtherance of Global Zionism."

B'nai Brith, The Canadian Jewish Congress, and The Simon Wiesenthal Center, by the way, are all strongly supported by our current Prime Minister, Stepher Harper. One could therefore draw from this that, in fact, the NSPC is suggesting that Stephen Harper is a part of the "corrupt political establishment", and is in fact only concerned with "establishing a Jew-Marxist tyranny" over Canada. I've got no great love for Harper (no great hate, either), but I hope that all of the radical leftists I know who refer to Harper as a closeted racist, intolerant, and borderline Nazi will consider that, if the REAL Neo-Nazis hate him, he can't be all that bad.

Many of the White Supremacist groups out there really focus on 2 primary themes...
  1. The Greatness of Adolph Hitler and the Nazis
  2. The natural superiority of the Aryan Race

Let's hit on these 2 points, one at a time.

1. The Greatness of Adolph Hitler and the Nazis

The Thousand Year Reich lasted 10 years. The Nazis were defeated, and Hitler killed himself.

WHO, pray tell, defeated the Nazis and their armies made up of superior, Aryan warriors? Armies from Canada, Britain and the United States (made up of soldiers with mongrel backgrounds), and the Red Army of Soviet Russia, made up almost entirely of inferior, Slavic peoples.

Hitler was a frustrated painter and WWI veteran, frustrated with the treatment that Germany received after her defeat in "The Great War". The Austrian national even saw his home country divided, ending the decline of the Austro-Hungarian Empire from a military and cultural superpower to a rump of small, divided and impoverished states. He needed, and found, someone to blame for this calamity: People of inferior stock and character, whose presence in the German military and social infrastructure had allowed the defeat of the genetically superior German people, whom he referred to as "Aryan". More on those Aryans later.

The Nazis were fantastic organizers. You want a rally? The Democrats put on a nice one, but it pales in comparison to a Nazi rally. Not those wishy-washy rag-tag Neo-Nazis, but the Nazis of Rudolph Hess. Likewise for message control. People think Stephen Harper controls a message well, but the PMO is a leaky rowboat compared to the Nazi controls on public messaging. They could sit in a room, and come up with fantastic plans when not faced with a time crunch. Brilliant military strategy. Sound political strategy domestically, too (although it will go down in history as some of the most heinous, evil and inhuman "policy" in the history of social governance). Let's not forget: The Nazis got themselves democratically elected by the German people. Where they, and Hitler, failed miserably was in thinking on their feet. When time became a factor, and plans needed to be made "on the fly", the Nazi braintrust made blunder after blunder, and bad decision after bad decision. Their plans for surprise invasion, made months in advance, were fantastic - but they had no idea what to do once their enemies started fighting back. They had great plans on how to conquer territory, but piss-poor plans on how to HOLD it.

There's an Iraq War comparison there that I'm disinclined to follow at this time.

The greatness of Hitler and the Nazis, then, is a logical fallacy. Because Hitler and the Nazis failed, they therefore can not be considered great - even by those who share their ideological bent. Hitler's claim that the "purging" of Germany, the "ethnic cleansing" of her social and military make-up, would result in a strong Germany made up of Aryan Germans who would rule Europe for a thousand years was emphatically wrong. Without those Jewish and ethnically impure Germans to blame, as he himself did for the defeat in World War One, where must the blame fall for Nazi Germany's defeat in World War 2? At the feet of Hitler, and his Nazi party.

They identified what they considered to be their country's weakness. They eliminated that weakness, and went to war with their ideal vision of a German Army... and lost. Either the Nazi vision was inadequate, the Nazi ideal of an army of Aryans was inadequate, the Nazi war-time leadership was inadequate, or all 3 were. Whatever the case, "greatness" can NOT be inferred from this defeat. In fact, a logical and rational observer could infer quite the opposite.

2. The natural superiority of the Aryan Race

Hitler claimed, among many other things, that the Aryan Race was genetically superior to all other races, and was therefore destined to rule Europe, and eventually the world. This is "natural selection" taken to the extreme. The claim, of course, is still echoed to this day by White Supremacist groups.

I'd be remiss if, at this point, I didn't point out that most of the members of White Supremacist groups that I've seen are not blonde (perhaps why they shave their heads). They do not have blue eyes. They're either 50 pounds underweight or 50 pounds overweight, have little or no discipline, exhibit very little in the way of rational thought, and would in fact be the first people tossed out of Hitler's army of Aryan supermen.

But let's look at these mythic Aryans...

Hitler's Aryans are a Nordic people, living mainly in Northern Central Europe. Bordered by inferior Slavs on the East and inferior Celts on the West, the Aryans are blonde-haired, blue-eyed people possessing superior mental abilities and physical strength and endurance, and also the only race that is capable of and interested in creating and maintaining a culture and civilization. These noble Aryans, therefore, are the natural rulers of Europe, and indeed the world.

The unavoidable problem with this theory lies in the genetics, linguistics and origins of the "Aryan race" itself: They're not from Northern Europe, they're from Northern India. They're predisposed towards brown or black hair, and dark eyes. You can see the closest thing to a modern "Aryan" if you look in modern Iran - which is named, incidentally, for it's "Aryan" people.

As the Aryans spread out and migrated to the North and West, they mixed with other races, and natural selection had its way with the complexion and physical characteristics of the typical Aryan settler through the generations. Darker skin colour became lighter, as the climate got cooler and the people they were encountering on their travels through these new lands were lighter of skin. Likewise with eye colour, build, etc. In truth, the average blonde-haired, blue-eyed German is as likely to be descended from Celtic stock (see Irish, Scottish) as he is from Aryan. At least the Celts are native to Europe, UNlike the Aryans.

The notion of a White, ethnically pure, Aryan people is therefore false. Further, it is foolish. Even a first-year university biology student will tell you that the best way to ensure propagation of a species is to incorporate many different genetic elements, in order to benefit from the best of all. Indeed, for this precise reason having a family tree that doesn't fork is frowned upon generally, and is really only acceptable in West Virginia and amongst European Royal Families.

White Supremacist, Aryan groups like to talk about people "going home to the country of their forebears". Of course, they generally don't phrase it quite so nicely, often preferring "go back where you came from!". One wonders, in light of the glut of scientific evidence tracing the roots of the Aryan race, if they would be so quick to return to the land of THEIR forebears... in the case of the group in Calgary, if they claim Aryan heritage, they wouldn't be trading the Rockies for the Alps - they'd be trading them for the Himalayas. And good luck in convincing the people you find there that the White Power cause is worth supporting.

Now, in fairness to the groups in question today, none of them is advocating for the systematic extermination of non-whites (unlike their Nazi heroes). However, it's worth noting that the founder of the National Socialist Party of Canada says his group "doesn't have a problem with non-white people, as long as they stay in their own homelands."

My sister-in-law was born in Calgary. She is of Filipino descent. Nobody would ever mistake her for "white". My gorgeous niece was born in Calgary, to that same sister-in-law and my EXTREMELY blonde, blue-eyed, brother (whom nobody would ever mistake for coming from ANY stock but German - which both he and I mostly do).

My niece and my sister-in-law, neither one what you would call "white", have a "homeland"... their "homeland" is right here. They were both born here. They have as much right to be here as anyone else.

And if you're talking about shipping people back to the place from whence their ethnic ancestors came, then it's time to start inflating the rafts, White Supremacists. Because, as members of our First Nations would no doubt agree, "it's a long swim back to Europe. Don't let the door hit your ass on the way out."

It's even longer to India - if you're Aryan.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Huge Endorsement for Obama

Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico, a Democratic Party heavyweight and personal friend of the Clintons, has endorsed Barack Obama for the Democratic Presidential bid.

... and just like that, there's a new front-runner for Obama's V.P. slot...

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Known Killer Holds 4 Albertans Hostage - No Response From Gov't

Nation, there is a killer out there, who strikes without warning or provocation. As we speak, this killer is holding 4 Albertans hostage, and may at any time snuff out the candle of their existence. The killer in question has taken more lives than Robert Pickton ever dreamed of - most of them babies less than 8 months old. There is a way to keep this killer at bay - but the government has, to this point, refused to do so. And so 4 Alberta families wait, for their children to die.

The killer in question is Pompe Disease, also known as "Glycogen storage disease type II". It has been found to affect somewhere in the range of 1 in 40,000 to 1 in 300,000 births. 4 Albertans have it - and are dying from it.

There is no cure for Pompe - not yet. However, just as with cancer, while there is no known CURE for the disease, there IS treatment - treatment approved by Health Canada which improves the quality of life in sufferers of the disease, and dramatically impacts the life expectancy of those treated.

In a recent study, 83 per cent of individuals treated with Myozyme were both alive and free of invasive ventilator support at 18 months of age. By comparison, only 2 per cent of individuals in an untreated historical group were even alive at 18 months.

The median age of death for those diagnosed at birth is 6 to 8 months; patients who go untreated rarely survive beyond the first year.

In 2006, Health Canada approved a drug called Myozyme for the treatment of Pompe disease. Less than a year later, the Canadian Common Drug Review issued their recommendations regarding public funding for Myozyme therapy. Their recommendation was to provide funding to treat a very small subset of Pompe patients (Infants less one year of age with Cardiomyopathy). The vast majority of Canadian Pompe sufferers, then, would have to privately fund their Myozyme treatments - treatments that extend and improve their lives, and without which they would most certainly die, likely in extreme pain. Treatments that cost $500,000 per year.

You read that right. $500,000 per year. And the CCDR has recommended that we, as Canadians, should not cover that medication, and leave those sufferers to face inevitable bankruptcy and just-as-inevitable painful death, when the money runs out.

Most of the European Union provides access to this medication for all Pompe sufferers in their countries. Yet here, in our "universal system", we have decided, to this point, to let the sufferers of this disease fend for themselves. We pay, as a society, BILLIONS every year to treat people who suffer from cancers brought on by their own lifestyle choices (lung cancer in smokers, cancer of the jaw or tongue in chewers, etc.) but won't pony up the cash to treat these people who were born with a terrible disease, through absolutely no fault of their own.

One brave young man afflicted with this disease is Trevor Pare, of Innisfail. Trevor was diagnosed as a baby, and his prognosis was not good. Defying the odds, Trevor is now 17 years old, with aspirations to attend university. He started feeling weakness in his limbs at age 14, and shortly after was put on a clinical trial for Myozyme. Although he is confined to a wheelchair, Trevor reports that he feels much better. Doctors have said that without the continued Myozyme treatments, Trevor will be dead in 3 to 6 months.

... tick, tick, tick ...

Trevor's clinical trial ends in May, and the drug is not covered by either the Federal or Provincial health departments. His family, therefore, is looking frantically for a way to afford $500,000-per-year medication, to keep their son alive. They may have to sell their personal belongings, or their home, to treat their son's illness.

In Canada.

... tick, tick, tick ...

Nation, we in this country make it own own personal point of pride to identify ourselves and our national character not by who we ARE, but rather by who were AREN'T. When people ask us what it is that differentiates us from our neighbours to the South, we hesitate, before proudly pointing to our Universal Healthcare System as proof positive that we are a caring and magnanimous society, which cares for every person within our borders. "No Canadian," we go on to say "would ever have to sell their house because their kid got sick!".

Think again.

... tick, tick, tick ...

Trevor's clinical trial will be over in 10 weeks. From the moment he stops taking Myozyme, his doctors start the countdown to his death. There is no other treatment. The disease has one treatment, it costs $500,000 per year, and neither the provincial government nor the federal government have, thus far, been willing to admit that they are responsible for the cost. Both levels of government have told the Pare family that the other is to blame. And while they dicker about who needs to be picking up the tab, the clock is ticking.

... tick, tick, tick ...

A killer waits to snuff out this life, and so many others.

A delay in acting will cost lives.

Minister Liepert? Minister Clement? Are you willing to let Trevor die while you argue about jurisdiction?

We are watching. And the clock is still ticking.

... tick, tick, tick ...

For more information on Pompe Disease, please see:

Monday, March 17, 2008

"Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona!"

That's "Happy St. Patrick's Day", for those few among you who may not be fluent in Irish Gaelic.

Indeed, this is the day of the year when Irish and faux-rish around the world get together and celebrate the Feast of St. Patrick by guzzling green beer and consuming foods that, any other day of the year, would be considered high crimes against cuisine.

All of this in order to celebrate St. Patrick, the saint noted for bringing Christianity to Ireland and supplanting the previously dominant pagan beliefs of the locals. Or, to use the colourful metaphor, he "drove the snakes out of Ireland".

Good thing, too... damned pagans and their drinking (whoops) and carrying-on, their observances of the passing of the seasons, and the cycle of the moon... they NEEDED to have their silly, superstitious ways corrected.

Incidentally (credit to daveberta), St. Patrick's Day was actually MOVED by the Vatican this year, due to a conflict with Holy Week (the week leading up to Easter).

You know... Easter. The celebration of the death and resurrection of Our Lord. Which has nothing at all to do with Ostara, the ancient pagan festival held in spring that, as a fertility rite, was signified by rabbits and eggs...


Well, at least we're over those silly pagan superstitions now.

Did you ever wonder why the date of Jesus' birth never changes (it's always December 25th), but the date of his death and resurrection change every year, sometimes varying by almost a month?

Easter, for future reference, is always the first Sunday following the first Full Moon after the Vernal Equinox.



Damned pagans. Good thing St. Paddy got rid of 'em.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Know Your Cabinet Critters: The Honourable Lindsay Blackett, Minister of Culture and Community Spirit

Nation, every once in awhile, the Blogging community puts its collective heads together and takes on a project to serve the Greater Good. The "Centre-Right Dream Team" of Alberta's political bloggers has managed to put aside raging personal animosities to bring you a look at the 5 new faces in the provincial cabinet announced Wednesday.

What raging animosities, you ask? Well, Blake makes no secret of the fact that he considers Ken Chapman a radical lefty and out-of-the-closet Dion supporter, while I can't wrap my head around how a seemingly smart guy like Duncan can continue to cheer for a joke of a hockey team like the Calgary Shames, when he LIVES in the home of God's Favourite Hockey Team - the Edmonton Oilers.

All kidding aside, though, I've really enjoyed collaborating with some of my similarly-minded brethren in the blogosphere. To go out of character for a second, I've been truly humbled by the way that these bright and politically astute and connected people have so readily accepted me - a "Johnny-come-lately" of just over a year now - into their community. I'm honoured that they consider me one of their own, and flattered that I came to mind to help with this project.
Be sure to check out Duncan's fantastic profiles of both The Honourable Alison Redford, Justice Minister and Attorney General, and The Honourable Jack Hayden, Minister of Infrastructure. Also already out is AlbertaTory's in-depth look at The Honourable Mary Anne Jablonski, Minister of Seniors and Community Supports. Forthcoming will be Ken Chapman's look at The Honourable Heather Klimchuk, Minister Responsible for Service Alberta.

The Honourable Lindsay Blackett, Minister of Culture and Community Spirit

When you think of "Alberta's culture", even if you've lived here all your life, it's hard not to snicker a little. We certainly HAVE a culture of sorts, but too often we buy into the Eastern stereotype of Albertans as hard-drinking, tobacco-chewing, pickup-driving urban cowboys who want more than anything to be Americans. Northern Texans, goes the joke.

Lindsay Blackett has been given the chance to throw that stereotype back in the face of all of those, all over our country, who perpetuate it.

"As someone who was raised in Ontario, there's a perception among a lot of people that we're a bunch of cowboys and rednecks out here, but our province has a lot more to offer than that."
- Hon. Lindsay Blackett, Minister of Culture and Community Spirit

The son of Barbadian immigrants, Lindsay Blackett graduate from Carleton University in 1983. Coming from a southern Caribbean background and attending school in Ottawa, Blackett knows plenty about both culture and capital-c Culture.

A volunteer with the Big Brother organization in the 1980's, Blackett later moved to Seattle in the mid 1990's. Seattle in the 90's - nope, no culture to be found, there. Unless you count the revitalization of popular music and the intellectual Northwestern Renaissance that took place in Seattle and Vancouver at the time. The only question that needs to be asked is, does Blackett follow culture around? Or does culture follow him?

Blackett moved to Calgary in the year 2000, pursuing Calgary's quality of life for his young family. Given that he was employed in the high-tech industrial sector at the time, Calgary's surging high-tech environment was also an incentive.

In 2004, Blackett was elected a director of the Calgary West Conservative Association (Federal). He held this position until 2006, when he stepped down amid the Anders acclamation debacle. Blackett was one of the former board members who unsuccessfully went on to sue the Conservative Party of Canada to have Anders' acclamation overturned.

By now the father of 2 young children, Lindsay's volunteer focus turned to organized sports. He was a coach with the Tuscany Soccer Association from 2003 to 2007, and has been as assistant coach with the Bow River Hockey Association since 2006. Still in the sports vein (if you can call Henry Burris an "athlete" - just kidding Lindsay, but I'm an Esks fan - you know how it is), Blackett has served as Volunteer Coordinator for the Henry Burris All-Star Weekend since 2006 (a great event that supports Big Brothers and Big Sisters in Calgary).

Blackett most recently served as President of the Canadian Progress Club's Calgary Downtown chapter.

Of note in Lindsay's electoral victory is that he won his riding of Calgary North West by a margin of 3000 votes over his nearest rival, defeating Liberal Dale D'Silva, a VERY aggressive and well-funded WAP candidate in Chris Jukes, and the leader of the Alberta Greens, George Read.

Much has been made in the media of Lindsay's status as the first black cabinet minister in Alberta's history. Blackett dismisses the attention, however, noting that he's not a black cabinet minister, but rather "a cabinet minister who happens to be black".

As the Minister of Culture and Community Spirit, Blackett has an opportunity to blaze his own trail. This brand new ministry is responsible for culture, community development, the voluntary sector, museums and heritage sites. Now, let's not fool ourselves: Lindsay Blackett is not the former curator of the Glenbow Museum (whatever happened to that guy, anyhow?). However, Blackett will be the FIRST person to tell you that. The fact that he knows what he does NOT know is the surest sign that he's an enlightened man, and one who will go to great lengths to get caught up.

Lindsay will also be the go-to guy for the "Wrathful Right", as his ministry is also responsible for a laundry list of items that make the "living, breathing stereotypes" see red: The Human Rights and Citizenship Commission; Human Rights Citizenship and Multiculturalism Fund; Foundation for the Arts; Alberta Historical Resources Foundation; Wild Rose Foundation; and Government House Foundation. Presumably, he'll also be involved in the promised efforts to redevelop the Royal Alberta Museum and attract the National Portrait Gallery.

I won't pretend to know Lindsay Blackett. I met him once, we talked for about 5 minutes, and then we each went our separate ways. But what I gleaned from that conversation, and has since been confirmed by others who know him far better than I, is that this man is a very solid and hard-working member of the community, who will be a very solid and hard-working minister. By all accounts, he is flattered and honoured to be included in the cabinet, and he's certainly going to do his best not to betray the trust that the Premier has shown in him with this appointment.

Alberta has culture. Alberta has a Minister of Culture. His name is Lindsay Blackett.

Ask him if he's a redneck. I dare you.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Deconstructing Cabinet

Well, Nation, I figured since I was one of the first to break the news of the new cabinet, I'd let everyone else have a shot at analysis first.

Or I was really tired last night... either way.

On the superficial level, the cabinet comes a lot closer to a geographical and gender balance than any cabinet in recent memory. djkelly (who will be buying me a beer in the next 2 weeks) breaks down the cabinet on this basis, and overall I'd say if one were to just look at gender and geography, the cabinet balance is good. Still nowhere near 50/50 for men and women, but Ed has to work with what the voters give him. The cabinet is still not representative of the population when it comes to melanin-content, but it's better than it was. Call it a win.

I was surprised at the ouster of Guy Boutilier. Not that Guy's been an extraordinarily effective minister, or an exceptionally loyal member of the Stelmach caucus, but I figured that Fort McMurray would still have a voice at the table, being Alberta's economic heart and all. The 21% voter turn-out rate in the riding can't have helped.

Another surprise includes the appointment of Manmeet Bhullar as a Parliamentary Assistant in the area of Advanced Education. It's curious, because when last I checked, he was still a student IN the post-secondary system. This has pros and cons, which should be self-evident. My guess is, as a rookie MLA with a "half cabinet job", Manmeet might not have the time right now to finish off that Law degree. It's going to be a nice change of pace for the people of Montrose to hear the Speaker name their riding, though. I'm sure Speaker Ken forgot there WAS a member for Calgary Montrose over the past few years.

Dave Hancock is in a tough spot... with the unfunded liability deal having been reached, he's coming into a ministry that is rife with anecdotal nightmares, which are completely contradicted by empirical evidence. You can't go anywhere in this province without hearing about how there aren't enough schools, aren't enough teachers, the ATA is keeping the bad teachers employed, there's not enough money for supplies, there's not enough funding for the arts (THAT I agree with, especially in High School - parents have to pay $200-300 in fees a year just so H.S. Bands and Choirs can afford music), students are being left by the wayside, the schools are falling apart... and yet, in the education system, the only number that truly matters is the testing - which says that Alberta's students are, arguably, the best educated in the country, and some of the best educated in the world. So which is it? Is the system hopelessly underfunded and broken, or a shining example of how a system SHOULD be run, as proven by the results? The truth is somewhere in between - Dave's going to have to think outside the box and come up with ways to free up funding within the current system. This means identifying inefficiencies - which means the ATA is going to hate Dave Hancock. I don't envy you, sir.

For reasons that Ken Chapman waxed eloquently on a few days ago, Ron Stevens is a great choice for Intergovernmental Affairs. When he speaks, as Deputy Premier, it will carry weight in negotiation with other jurisdictions and levels of government.

Will the restoration of a ministry devoted exclusively to Aboriginal Affairs get Calgary's Ring Road built? If it does, Gene Zwozdesky can run for mayor of this town, and win handily.

Ted Morton remains in Sustainable Resource Development, but is still 7th from the bottom in precedence. Methinks Ted will enjoy remaining in SRD, however he can't be happy about the fact that rookie Alison Reford and minister of Children's Services Janis Tarchuk are above him in precedence. Now Ted has a chance to oversee the release of the promised-but-way-overdue Land Use Framework. Perhaps he's still there BECAUSE the framework is so overdue? Not being seen as a threat to Stelmach any longer (Ed did pretty well in the election), if Ted gets his ducks in a row, he MAY see a promotion in about 2 years. Maybe.

Cindy Ady in Tourism, Parks and Recreation will be interesting. She was the associate minister for Tourism most recently, so she'll have a good handle on that aspect of the ministry. I expect that her Deputy Minister will likely remain in place (update: he does), as the "Parks and Recreation" part of the job are pretty complex, and require a lot of co-ordination and negotiation with Minister Morton's SRD department.

Lastly (for now), I'm thrilled to see Lindsay Blackett in the cabinet, in the new position of Minister of Culture and Community Spirit. Having had the chance to meet Lindsay shortly before the writ was dropped, I found him to be an extremely articulate gentleman with a keen understanding of the difference between politics and policy. I was happy to see him elected as MLA, and believe that he will do just fine with this portfolio. He's already being quoted in the Calgary Sun, throwing up a big "pttttht!" to the Easterners who spat out their coffee when seeing that Alberta even HAS a Minister of Culture. Good for him - he's already catching on. ;-)

I'll be joining forces with a "Dream Team" of Alberta's finest centre-right bloggers to shine a little more light on some of the new faces in this cabinet. Look for that coverage this Friday, courtesy of such blogging luminaries as:

Ken Chapman
Alberta Tory
Phendrana Drifts

... oh yeah, and that Enlightened Savage guy. ;-)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

New Cabinet Announced

Go here for details.

Come back here for analysis later tonight.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Cabinet Specifications

Nation, with the upcoming cabinet announcement, I thought I'd take a brief look at the options that Ed has in assembling this new cabinet.

Much has been made in the past few years about the demographics of cabinet, on both the provincial and federal levels. "What regions are represented? How many women are included? How many visible minorities?"

I'm not at all thrilled about this public-and-mainstream-media trend towards evaluating cabinet qualifications with a map and a headshot, but let's put that aside for now.

Premier Stelmach mused mid-election about reducing the size of cabinet to 18, from 21 (18 ministers and 3 associate ministers). In the same discussion, he suggested that there were 4 spots in that Cabinet set aside for Calgary. Considering the size of his caucus (that just sounds wrong - no more talking about Ed's huge caucus), Ed may need to consider upping the cabinet size to somewhere between 20 and 22. Any higher, and he'll run the risk of being seen as a "big government" type - not that he has a lot to worry about right now, but this will be the first "Stelmach's Team" cabinet, and he'll want to put his stamp solidly on it.

49.9% of Alberta's population is female. 14 female MLA's were elected for the PC's. If Ed appoints people based on gender instead of qualification, only 3 or 4 of those female MLA's will be excluded from cabinet. Hopefully, he won't succumb to that pressure, and will instead appoint based on qualification. The only cabinet post that is absolutely tied to gender is Children's Services, which is (obviously) a job that ONLY a woman can do - no man could possibly have any idea how to care for a child. Right? Single dads?

18.9% of Alberta's population comes from a visible ethnic minority group. 81.1% are "white folks". 10 PC MLA's come from visible minority groups, and 62 are "white folks". Again, if we're being completely politically correct, all 10 of the aforementioned MLA's get cabinet posts regardless of qualification - affirmative action at its worst. If Ed lets the statistics do the hiring for him, there's room for 3 or 4 ethnic faces in a 20-member cabinet.
Once again, I feel this is the worst possible way to choose a cabinet, and completely inappropriate in 2008. In my mind, and I believe in the Premier's mind as well, the PC Caucus is not made up of 62 white people and 10 non-whites... it's made up of 72 people. Choose the best of them for the jobs, regardless of race. After all, in the words of those much wiser than I: "There is only one race - the HUMAN race".

The Greater Calgary Area has 32.8% of Alberta's population, and elected 22 PC's.
The Greater Edmonton Area has 31.5% of the population, and elected 19 PC's.
Lethbridge and Medicine Hat combine for 4.9% of the population, having elected 5 PC's.
Fort Mac and Grande Prairie combine for 3.7% of the population, electing 3 PC's.
Rural Alberta, all those areas not included above, account for 27.1% of the population, and sent 23 PC's to caucus.

In a 20-member cabinet, built purely on percentages, you have 6 ministers from Calgary, 6 from Edmonton, 1 from Lethbridge or Medicine Hat, 1 from Fort Mac or GP, 5 from Rural Alberta and the Premier.

If we end up with a cabinet like that based on qualification, I'll be extremely pleased. If we end up with a cabinet that looks NOTHING like that, but is still built on qualifications, I'll still be happy - and so should all of you. Good governance transcends the politics of place, race or gender. However, if the cabinet looks EXACTLY like outlined above, based purely on where the MLA's are from, whether they possess ovaries, and their melanin content, then we will be doing Albertans a great disservice.

Of course, you're never going to be able to strike the perfect balance.

As I pointed out in December of 2006, Ukrainians make up only 9.71% of Alberta's population - yet the Premier is 100% Ukrainian. Obviously, then, Ukrainians are drastically over-represented.

Sitting down with the newspaper after the cabinet is announced and looking at the pictures for race, gender, and location is the lowest and laziest form of critical analysis of this new cabinet. Ultimately, the best cabinet we can hope for is one where people are appointed not due to geography, race, gender, faith, age or political favours rendered... the best cabinet would be the one where the members are appointed based purely on merit and ability from among the 72 elected PC MLA's. If that means the entire cabinet is full of old, white men from North of Red Deer, I'm willing to accept that if it means I get the best government possible.

Ed's not picking the models for the "This IS Alberta" poster, folks - he's picking from a pool of 72 elected MLA's to choose the best qualified cabinet possible. Let's give him a chance to pick the best candidates, and focus less on where they're from, or the absence of "y" chromosomes.

After all... Calgary already has representatives in the government. So, for that matter, does Edmonton. And Red Deer. And Lethbridge. They're called "MLA's". The cabinet isn't supposed to represent the perfect mix of Alberta's population density, gender make-up and ethnicity. It's supposed to run the business of government. That, ladies and gentlemen, takes qualified people, regardless of where they live or whether they pee standing up or sitting down.

Sounds ridiculous to make choices based on that kind of nonsense when you put it that way, doesn't it?

Here's hoping we see a QUALIFIED cabinet announced this week. I don't want someone appointed Minister of Health because Ed needed another female or rural minister to keep the papers happy - I want someone who can run the Health ministry. And, if you're in the emergency room, I suggest you'll probably want the same.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Jean-Luc Picard To Alberta Voters: "Engage!"

This one goes out to Four Strong Winds. Commitment made, commitment delivered. :)

I want to start off by saying that I cannot be more emphatic in my disgust with people (partisan Liberals, particularly) who are already sniping from the sidelines about Alberta's status as a "banana republic". Those same people, had THEIR chosen party won this election, would be trumpeting from the rooftops about how democracy had saved all of us from the evil Tories... so, save it. I have little interest in the partisan point of view on this issue. The issue of our democratic system, and its ridiculously low rate of participation, goes beyond petty partisan politics.

I was accused recently of being a "PC Fanboy", and the PC's won 72 seats on Monday night. As a "PC Fanboy", I should be on top of the world at that result - and yet, I'm stuck between "embarrassed" and "disheartened".

What I want to address is: what's wrong with our system, and what can we do to fix it?

The first assumption that I'm making, right off the bat, is that there's something wrong. This could be erroneous on its face. In a discussion I had with a friend this evening, the topic of voter turn-out came up, and he expressed to me his belief that the 59% of voters who didn't come out and vote expressed their tacit approval for the job the government has been doing. "Had they been disapproving of the government, they would have shown up and kicked the bastards out!" went the argument.
While I don't accept the logic of staying home to register approval, I do acknowledge it may in fact be reflective of the reality - thankfully, most Albertans don't think the same way I do, or NOTHING would get done, and everyone would be chasing my fiancee.

So, this brings up the question: IS something wrong? Or am I just thick and missing the obvious, that the people who didn't vote were, for the most part, happy with the government and saw no need to cast a ballot? We've seen voters turn-outs get lower and lower with every trip to the polls, at least provincially, since 1993. Is this an expression of satisfaction with the governance that people have been receiving? Or an indication that voters are becoming disengaged?

If it's a tacit admission of satisfaction, then our discussion is over. And what fun is that? So we'll dismiss that argument - for now - and move on to the next train of thought.

We're accepting that something is happening to disengage the voter. Now, we have to ask ourselves whether the problem lies in the system (people WANT to vote, but can't), or in the voters themselves (they don't want to vote).

Some criticism is made of the system. People say that they WANT to participate by casting a ballot, but they can't. Their work shifts don't allow it, they don't know where to vote, Elections Alberta's website crashed, they were out of the country on a trip planned weeks before the writ was dropped... Some suggestions that may alleviate some of those concerns include:
  • Allow computer voting, much as we allow people to file their taxes on-line
  • Extend polling day to 2 or 3 days
  • Fix the voter's list, so people are registered in the correct riding and poll
  • Utilize fixed election dates, so everyone knows when the next vote is being held, 4 years in advance
Quite a bit more people, however, indicate that they have no desire to get out and vote. The problem with this approach, of course, is that there's no way to know whether the 59% of voters who stayed home on March 3rd did so because they were satisfied, or did so out of protest, or were underinformed, or were lazy... there are no statistics on what kept people at home.

Some ideas that have been bandied about as possible solutions to this issue (many of which I personally think are disasters):
  • Institute Australian-style mandatory voting
  • Offer tax or other incentives for proof-of-voting
  • Allow "write-in" votes on the ballot
  • Actually put a "none of the above" box on the ballot
  • Require a series of leaders debates, including the leaders of all registered parties running more than 50 candidates.
  • Institute term limits
  • Run elections completely on equal, public funding to eliminate the "corporate" campaigning we see today
  • Eliminate the party system altogether
  • De-politicize the mechanisms of election altogether - empower Elections Alberta to hire full-time Electoral Officers whose sole job it is to recruit, interview, select and train Returning Officers and Poll Staff in the 6 months before the regularly scheduled election date.
  • Directly elect a Chief Executive (in this case, the Lt. Governor), rather than letting the British Parliamentary system figure out, irrespective of the public's wishes, who the singular de facto chief executive and head of the legislative branch of our province shall be
  • Switch from FPTP to Proportional Representation, or MMP
  • Lower the voting age to 16
  • Dramatically increase the number of seats in the Legislature, thus making the ridings smaller and the MLA's and candidates more directly responsible (and responsive) to smaller communities of people
  • Sync-up the provincial and municipal elections, to get all the voting out of the way at the same time

Nation, I don't know what the solutions are... for that matter, I don't know what the problems are. I have always been keenly interested in politics, and never for a moment have considered abstaining from casting a vote. It was drilled into me by both parents, who come from military families - and by a Social Studies teacher who came from a place where he was denied the ability to vote, because his skin was the wrong colour.

The concept that some people can be politically educated, aware of the issues, follow the race and the policies of the parties, and still choose to stay home is utterly foreign to me - I know people do it, in fact the discussion is happening on my blog right now - but I'd be lying if I said I understood it. I'm about asking questions right now.

Do people not WANT to vote? Or are people waiting to find someone whom they deem worthy of their ballot? Do we need our own "Obama Effect" here in Alberta to get these abstainers out to the polls? Do we need to make the information which people require in order to make an informed choice more readily available to them? Do we need to change the system, because they feel that their vote makes no difference?

I don't know the answer to that. Again, the concept of not voting is as foreign to me as the idea of driving through someone's home - it's the small price I pay, the minor inconvenience, for the freedoms I enjoy. It's an obligation and responsibility that I take seriously.

I will tell you this, though...

I intend to run for provincial office in 2012(ish). And I will state, unequivocally and for the record, that I would rather LOSE my run for office with a 80+% voter turn-out than WIN it with a turn-out of 40%. Being elected by 45% of 40% of eligible voters is not, in my mind, a strong mandate. ESPECIALLY as a non-incumbent - I can't even fool myself into thinking that the 60% who stay home are approving of me - I haven't done anything yet of which to approve.

However, what are the politicians supposed to do, given this turn-out? Declare the election void because a quorum wasn't reached, and run the whole thing all over? I won't be HAPPY with 45% of 40%... but if that's who comes out, and I win, I'll serve. I'll just know in my heart that 8 out of 10 people didn't express, in one of the easiest ways possible, that I had their consent to govern them. And that will bother me - a LOT.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Fallen - Where Do We Go From Here?

Nation, we all know that the 4 leaders who LOST ground last night have been sitting by their computers all day, eagerly waiting for the wisdom handed down from on high by Guru E.S. on the mountaintop.

"Help us, oh wise one!" they plea... "Tell us, what do we do now?"

No need to ask twice, fellas.

The Liberals

The Liberals are in an interesting position. They did, in fact, make gains in Calgary. And truth be told, they got nearly half of the support the Tories did, even if our current seat distribution system stuck them with a measly 9 seats. But what comes next for the Grits?

First, "It's Time..." to put Kevin Taft out to pasture. This election was put on a tee for him, and he struck out anyway. Kevin needs to retire to a sunny beach somewhere, and start work on his next book: "Not My Fault: How Idiotic Albertans Denied Me The Right To Rule Over Them, Even Though I'm A Much Smarter And Better Person Than Most Of Them".

Second, let's look into a merger. Seriously. I know that the Grits and Dippers exchanged a lot of fire over donations, but at the end of the day, they are no further apart than the extremes within the PC's - who came together in the interest of winning government (and it worked). You've got to stop vote-splitting on the left, especially if you want to have any chance of winning Edmonton back.

Third, name change. If you CAN get a merger with the NDP, go with the "Democratic Party of Alberta". Skip that if the merger doesn't go through - the Democratic Party and the New Democratic Party can't really run in the same election... Otherwise, find something else... "Progressive" would be good, but you run into the same problem with the "Progressive Conservatives". Try the Alberta Party - worked in the next province to the East.

Fourth, leadership. For now, Dave Taylor will do. Your base is in Calgary now anyway (seems weird to even type that). You, I, and everybody else in this province know who's leading you into the next election. Get him, and you've got a shot at taking Calgary, and perhaps more.

Fifth, attitude. As in, change it. The perception of your party is of a group of arrogant, holier-than-thou types. I even heard a CBC staffer expressing those sentiments - and when the CBC thinks a Liberal is arrogant, that tells you something... Both Taylor and the presumptive new Liberal leader come across as earnest and competent, rather than as oozing a sense of entitlement. Follow their lead. Hell, for that matter, follow the lead of the NDP.

Sixth, drop the democratic reform issue, for now. YES, it's important, but this soon after an election loss it sounds less like a proposal to fix something that's wrong, and more like whining and sour grapes. Let the other parties deal with it for now - don't come across as whiny or bitter. We don't like that.

Lastly, start working on your platform NOW. Look into the future, predict what the Tories are going to do, come up with something notably better, and write it down. HERE'S THE IMPORTANT PART: In the Legislature between now and 2012(ish), when those issues come up, you've got to advocate for policies somewhere in between the Tory proposals and the ones you're going to be running on. Make sure to save those best proposals for the election - that way, no one can steal them and leave you with nothing. At worst, they'll go for your middle-of-the-road proposals, which brings the mainstream closer to your idealized policy proposal. "The Tories want this, we think this is a better idea, and (after the writ is dropped) if elected we'll go as far as this... Being seen as a party of vision and ideas is how you're going to win in 2012, IF you're going to win in 2012. Being seen as the whiny opposition is how you're going to stay right where you're at.


The New Democrats have 2 seats in the Legislature, which means they have in fact lost their official party status in the house. It's no secret they were headed for a new leader even before the votes were counted - Mason basically said he didn't want the job, halfway through the campaign. They've got a steep climb back to relevance ahead - let's hope Rachel Notley is up to the task.

First, don't rush the leadership issue. We all know it's coming, so ease Notley into it. Make sure she's groomed properly, and knows the job BEFORE being thrown to the wolves. You only get one chance at a first impression - if she's seen as in over her head, that impression will stick with the voters when the next election rolls around.

Second, merger. See the Liberals for more on this.

Third, enough with the unions already. I know they're important, but - reality of donations be damned - you're seen as their puppet. When I read your policies pre-election and saw a commitment to make it "easier to join a union", I just about laughed... I can't imagine it being any easier to join a union. I've been FORCED by my employer to join 3 unions in the past 10 years, just to take a job. I think they serve a vital function, but distance yourself from them in public. Even your candidates listed their union credentials ahead of their education or experience. Less than 15% of us care about your union background, and that will NEVER CHANGE.

Fourth, keep standing up for the little guy. The renters, the hospital room horror stories - these are stories that need to be told, in the house and on the record. People expect you to hold the government to account on these social ills - make sure you do it.

Fifth, steal. From the Greens, to be specific. Nobody knows that the Greens are fiscally conservative as a party, they just assume they're all tree-huggers. Use your 2 seats to advocate for SENSIBLE environmental policy that won't bankrupt us, and you'll cut the Green Party's legs out from under them. Ethical? No. Politically savvy? You betchya.

The Wildrose Alliance

The unfortunate reality for the WAP is that they were in the wrong place at the wrong time when the election was called. They weren't caught unaware - we ALL knew the election was coming. But they were in an awkward place in their "merger" when the writ was dropped, and they never picked up any steam. What they do from this point forward makes all the difference.

First, FINISH COMING TOGETHER. From what discussion I've read on the boards, this party is still very much a study of 2 solitudes: The Wildrose ex-pats are angry that the Alliance stuck firm to its campaign plans despite the experienced campaigners on the WR side who knew it was doomed to fail, and the Alliance guys are angry that the Wildrose gang is breaking ranks, their WR-descended President quit right after the writ was dropped, and Hinman is seeing more attacks from the ex-Wildrose members. Learn from the PC's - solidarity breeds success, and failure to come together will result in nothing but misery.

Second, hammer the PC's on their most tender spots within your platform. Those would be, at this point, democratic reform and spending. Don't go through think-tanks, or press releases from economics professors, let your party leaders and future candidates make these criticisms - use YouTube and call press conferences. You've got to overcome the handicap of not having a soapbox within the Legislature, but it's not an insurmountable problem - think outside the box.

Third, resist the urge to panic. Bringing in the PGIB gang at this point to benefit from their organizational skills would be devastating to your public perception - like losing the battle, and hiring Blackwater to shore up the ranks. Get your own house in order, first. Anyone new you bring in will be seen as representing the new soul of your party - make sure they're electable. If they're not - you're not.

Fourth, get someone in the Legislature the old-fashioned way: get them to cross the floor to sit as a WAP member. It's how the Alberta Alliance got their first ever MLA. You know, and I know, who your number 1 target is. If he finds himself without a cabinet seat, he's your man, and he can be had. He's very smart politically, and not too extreme to be given SERIOUS consideration by the masses, with the right platform. He WILL be your leader in 2012, if you get your own act together first - he's too smart to jump to a losing cause.

Fifth, mentoring. You've got to brand yourselves, and the best way to do that is with popular current and former Albertan politicians of a similar philosophy to your own. Preston Manning, Deb Gray, Stephen Harper, Myron Thompson... these are your new best friends. You want them to talk about how in touch with everyday Albertans you are, and how they plan on voting for you.

The Greens

The Greens have to be disappointed with their showing... their popular vote went up by 1.83% over 2004, although when considering the fact that the environment has never been a hotter issue - literally, and figuratively - you'd think that they would be higher. This is explainable in part by their absence from the Leaders Debate... but the Greens undeniably have some problems that need to be dealt with.

First, leadership. George Read is a nice man, but isn't seen as someone who can be an effective leader for this party. He's not exceptionally gifted as an environmentalist or as a politician - he's good, but not great. You have some great organizers and politicians in your party, and there are some brilliant environmentalists who recently lost their bid to become MLA's. Put out feelers.

Second, get out the message. NOBODY knows you're a fiscally conservative party. Everyone thinks that you're going to bankrupt us as a province and shut down the oilsands overnight. YouTube, Blogs, Facebook - get out the message, independently of the National Party if you have to. We're about SUSTAINABILITY. Shout it from the rooftops - you're not getting a chance to do it in the televised debates.

Third, set up a virtual legislative assembly. No, seriously. Every bill that comes forward on the floor of the Legislature, you will have a response to - even if it has nothing to do with the environment - this will help to establish you as more than a single-issue party, and will also get the message out about your fiscal conservatism. If people go to, click on "Virtual Legislature" and see a same-day response to everything that happens in our capital, they'll believe you're serious about becoming a force. Updating the website once-a-week reeks of amatuerism.

Fourth, start looking outside your comfort zone for candidates, and start tomorrow. You want politically astute, respectable and ELECTABLE candidates who are passionate about the environment and can handle themselves in a discussion on a multitude of issues, not just one. Your candidates are your face - if that face is underqualified, students, and outcasts from the NDP, you're in trouble.

The Wise and Magnificent E.S. Has Spoken.

Wakey, Wakey...

Nation, a lot of partisan hacks are already all over the web, claiming that these results are invalid because of the low voter turn-out. They're saying that over a million voters stayed home because they had no one to BELIEVE in, and this fact invalidates the result. Well, if that's the case, then in 4 years I fully expect those holier-than-thou abstainers to run for office themselves, to give the rest of us great, unwashed sheep someone in which to believe. While the voting numbers are concerning, the fact remains that nearly a million Albertans gave enough of a damn to take the time to make their voices count - and over half of them voted for the PC's. Whether or not you like their choice, you have to respect it - it is, after all, THEIR GOVERNMENT.

Which brings me to my second point: Many people are declaring that the voters were "wrong", or "mistaken" in making their choice last night. They were "fooled" into thinking the PC's were really conservative. Or the WAP needs to re-organize, to save Albertans from themselves.

I touched on this last night, but I'll mention it again: The voters are right. Every time. They made their choice in the ballot box, and their decision is incontrovertible. Indisputable. In a democracy, the engaged citizenry decides - and, last night, they did.

While the voting system may be flawed, while the seats may be awarded ridiculously out-of-proportion to the vote totals, while MANY things are wrong with our electoral process, and need to be fixed... the people who spoke decided, and the people's decision is right. Always.

That is the very essence of democracy - the people didn't say "The PC's are truly conservative", or "Ed Stelmach is a sexy beast!", or anything of the sort. What they said was "We choose the Progressive Conservatives to govern us. We voters - who have the only opinions worth noting - choose the PC Party, and Ed Stelmach, and endorse his platform above the others presented to us... pundits, experts, and intellectual dissidents be damned."

You may not agree with their choice, but it is the most basic of democratic principles that they be allowed to make it. You can even decide that they made a mistake.

But they didn't. They never do. They made their choice, and got exactly the government they deserved.

And so did those who stayed home.

* * * * * * *

I noticed a little love from Archie over at the Journal blogs. Archie, *I'M* awake. :)

Let's get the ball rolling, and knock the rust off those political gears, Nation.

Cabinet picks?

In the form of "comments", please. :)

King Eddie?

Holy crap.

Nation, NOBODY called this... not Tory party insiders, not private pollsters, not even Blake on a caffeine rush called this. 72 seats?

In fairness, that number may change - there were several very close races, most notably in Paul Hinman's constituency, where he lost by 39 votes. So there will be re-counts. Also remarkably close: Edmonton Rutherford (PC's by 64) and Calgary McCall (Liberals by 98). Of McCall, by the way, I wrote on February 23rd:
"I am going to be very surprised if I wake up on March 4th, and Darshan Kang isn't the MLA-Elect for McCall."

This is going to be a bit of a free-form piece, so try to keep up with the sudden changes in mid-stream.

951,451 people came out on March the 3rd to vote, and the people got it right. They always do. Had they elected 83 New Democrats, they'd have been just as right. The government is representative of the will of the people, as expressed in a free and fair election. The election was held, nearly a million Albertans expressed their opinions, and the make-up of the government will reflect that. Or, come as close as our current British Parliamentary First-Past-The-Post system will allow.

It continues to be worrisome, however, that the overall voter turn-out is so low. It could be that people don't feel engaged in the process. It could be that they feel their vote doesn't count. It could be problems with the voter's list (I know I'm on there twice, which means although I voted, I also didn't vote in the other riding - that has GOT to screw up the turn-out percentage). The voter's list is hopelessly screwed up anyhow - there has GOT to be a better way to keep that thing up to date. The number of volunteer man-hours spent trying to update the local voter's list by up to 6 campaigns in each of 83 ridings is staggering - we probably could have ended homelessness with that manpower.

Where do the Greens and Wildrose Alliance go from here? You feel bad for them - even if only a single MLA for each, we need people representing their key issues of sustainability and democratic reform. Their absence from the public stage is a detriment to the meaningful discourse we as a society need to have on these issues. Does this mean that the WAP is out of the 2012 televised debate? I really believe that had Read been allowed INTO the 2008 debate, the Greens may have won a seat or 2. They had high hopes in Lacombe-Ponoka, but still lost by 5,000 votes.

The enormity of this victory may spell the end for Ted Morton in cabinet. Ed showed clearly that he could carry the province without the support of the far right - and Morton has never stopped campaigning for the Premier's job. The question, then is this: Does Morton, tossed from cabinet, cross the floor to sit as the WAP's sole MLA? In so doing, he'd essentially guarantee himself that party's leadership, and he could take a run at Ed again in 4 years.

Despite all the polls foretelling doom, the Tories (as of this writing) suffer a net loss of one seat in Calgary (gain Elbow, lose Buffalo and McCall). Of the 18 MLA's elected in Calgary for the PC's, Ed has said he'll have room for 4 in his cabinet. Cabinet was, at last count, 21 members in size. Assuming he also has 4 ministers from Edmonton, does he intend to fill the other 13 spots with rural MLA's? I've got to tell you - it won't be as understandable after a provincial election as it was after the leadership race. Paying back your supporters is one thing. But as of right now, "your supporters" aren't a handful of rural MLA's, they're the 500,000 Albertans who voted for you - most of them in the cities.

Interesting race in Montrose, where the Progressive Conservative candidate came first, and the "Progressive Conservative" candidate came second.

I hear there were quite a few theories being bandied about at PC celebrations regarding the identity of yours truly. While I cannot confirm whether or not the guesses were accurate, I'll tell you this much: There are OTHER anonymous bloggers who accidentally outed themselves this week, without even realizing it.

Is Dave Taylor the next leader of the Alberta Liberals? Or will someone else keep the chair warm waiting for Bronco to make the jump as soon as a Calgary seat comes open for a byelection?

For Rachel Notley, 2012 starts tomorrow.

Oh, I stand corrected... in fact, one of my own readers predicted this exact result earlier today.

Kirk Schmidt said...

Well, if you take into account all parties, there's 8.4 x 10^56 combinations for the Alberta benches...

If we only consider the grits, tories, dippers, rosies, and greens, there's still 2.2 x 10^55 combinations. I predict that one of those combinations will be what we see in the legislature.

... well done, Kirk.

Arthur Kent is going to go onto CHQR in the next few days and cry about how the Tory party didn't fully invest in his riding, and that's why the voter turn-out was low for him. Hey, Art: voter turn-out was low everywhere. But everyone else had volunteers working phones feverishly in their campaign offices, trying to remind people to get out and vote for them - that wasn't the party, that was local campaigns. Shaw and Fish Creek got no help from Edmonton whatsoever, and they both won. Don't blame the party, blame yourself. And get over yourself, while you're at it. Just because people know your name doesn't mean they should have to kiss your ass to keep you happy.

"Star" Liberal candidates lost in Calgary as well - notably "Don't Call Me Mike" Robinson (by 1200), Cathie Williams (by 2200) and Laura Shutiak (by 2800).

Speaking of ridings in South Calgary (a few of them come to mind): Sometimes it's nice to see unpleasant things happen to unpleasant people. I know, that kind of Schadenfreude makes me a bad person. But I don't care. The candidates in question reaped what they sowed.

To my liberal-minded readers, and those on the far right, all I can tell you is this: I feel your frustration. The consolation I can offer you is this - the PC party insiders who were sweating this result all day were not doing so because they wanted to feel important. They were doing so because they believed that Albertans might rise up and take them to task for the problems in this party. And there ARE problems, that have to be addressed. The insiders know this. The Premier knows this. Fine-tuning the royalty decision. Environmental issues. Electoral reform. Infrastructure. Inefficiencies in government resulting in unsustainable spending. The list is long.

But you know what? Despite this landslide tonight, I trust that Ed will get to work on fixing those problems.

Why, you ask?


Ed's a farmer. He knows better than anyone that the first day after a bumper harvest, you get to work on laying the foundations for a better one next year. You rest on your laurels, and you starve.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Early Returns

9:19 pm

PC's in 72
Libs in 9
NDP in 2

Shocking... just shocking. A few ridings in Calgary could still turn, including McCall... what does all this mean for Paul Hinman? Is Dave Taylor the new Leader of the Opposition?

8:36 Going off-line for about 30 minutes, nation... go to for updates.

8:35 pm

PC's in 54
Libs in 7
NDP in 3
Independent in 1 (It's Ron Leech, in Montrose)

8:28 pm

PC's in 40
Libs in 5
NDP in 1
Independent in 1 (No, it's not Egmont)

8:24 pm

PC's in 29
Libs in 3

These results MUST be coming in from the cities - the WAP is polling under 3%.

8:21 pm

Global just projected a PC majority government.

PC's in 19
Libs in 2

8:18 pm

PC's in 8
Libs in 2
NDP in 1

These are WAY too preliminary to get excited about, plus we don't know where they're coming from - if these are all Calgary ridings, the PC's are in serious trouble. If this is coming from Edmonton, Taft should be cleaning out his office...

8:16 pm

PC's in 6
Libs in 2
NDP in 1

8:13 pm

PC's in 3
Libs in 2

8:12 pm

PC's leading in 1
Libs leading in 1

The Results Are In!

And it's a Minority Liberal government... at least, according to the citizens of E.S. Nation.

According to votes in the Enlightened Savage poll, the Liberals will win 38 seats. Add 5 for the NDP, and that'll prop up your government... for now.

26 Tories make up the official opposition, along with 13 WAP MLA's and a Green.

For the REAL results... stay tuned. But I can virtually guarantee we're going to see a record low voter turn-out... especially in Calgary. Who "Got Out The Vote"? Stay tuned.

The Race For Calgary West

Peter Lougheed himself held this seat for years - Federally, this area has in the past voted for Rob Anders (although, I suspect they'll be voting for Kirk Schmidt in 2008). Despite its conservative credentials, it was captured by the Liberals for a term in the 1993 election, before returning to the fold in 1997.It is currently held by Ron Liepert, who is seeking re-election.

Made up of many older neighbourhoods and a few new ones, the local issues in Calgary West tend to be a lack of schools nearby, roads, and transit (which the city is dealing with).

The Candidates:
Ron Liepert (PC)
Beth Gignac (Lib)
Chantelle Dubois (NDP)
Bob Babcock (WAP)
James Kohut (Grn)

Ron Liepert is the former press secretary to Premier Peter Lougheed, and as such has a history of knowing the riding and its issues. Elected to his first term as MLA in 2004, Liepert is seen by many to be an effective voice for the riding. Liepert was largely responsible, as Minister of Education, for the recent resolution to the unfunded pension liability issue which has ensured labour peace with teachers for the next 5 years. He's generally regarded as the front-runner here, and with good reason.

Beth Gignac is a fiery advocate for arts and culture. The City of Calgary's Manager of Arts and Culture (I know, I had no idea we had one of those either!) is trying to close a 2,700-vote gap from the 2004 election. Although there will be some protest votes headed her way, she's in tough against a strong incumbent who sits in Cabinet. Don't bet on her to pull this off, although - if she gets out her voters, and the appetite for change in Calgary West is greater than most suggest, she's the NEXT best bet.

Chantelle Dubois is a CPR employee and teaches music in the Canadian Cadets. A graduate of the University of Lethbridge (GO PRONGHORNS!), Dubois ran here for the NDP in 2004 and pulled in 434 votes. She'll be looking to better that mark this time around.

Bob Babcock has one of the best looking websites in the entire Wildrose Alliance. A former social worker and addictions counsellor, Babcock makes his living with an oilfield snubbing service company. Refreshingly candid, Bob makes no bones about the fact that he's not going to be part of a new government: He's running to get a sensible opposition in the Legislature. The former soldier has the right idea, and if his campaign is being run with military efficiency, he may have a shot. At issue is whether he'll be able to win over the elderly voters of the riding - there are a LOT of them. As they go, so goes the riding.

James Kohut is an interesting choice for the Greens here. The outspoken advocate for electoral reform has run for office on virtually every level imaginable - while this gives him name recognition, it also makes it easy to dismiss him as a "losing candidate". Having worked in the oilsands, Kohut has seen first-hand the kind of things that go on up on the rigs, and his first-hand knowledge is useful to the Greens - I just can't see him finishing better than 4th here. He did, in fact, finish 4th in Calgary West in 2004, picking up 732 votes.


Nation... it's time.

Get out there, and make a difference.

Literally millions of volunteer hours have been spent. Millions of dollars. Millions more in "sweat equity". Promises have been made.

More than that, though, men and women have died so that you can sit there staring at your screen and debate whether or not to vote.

What it all boils down to, in the end, is that these men and women are asking for your consent to be governed. They are asking for the privilege of exercising your franchise.

Make no mistake - at the end of the day, someone will be in charge. Someone will be empowered with the mandate to make changes to your world, on behalf of all Albertans of all ages, those who voted and those who did not.

CHOOSE to participate in the selection of those people. Because whether you vote or stay home, they WILL be in charge tomorrow.

Several races in 2004 were won and lost by a few hundred votes. Some, by less than FIVE VOTES.

All you have to do is mark an "x".

If your answer is "none of the above", just write "The Enlightened Savage" on your ballot.

But don't let others choose the people who will be in power. Participate. This is the only day of the year when the man living in the million dollar home in Pump Hill and the woman living in the subsidized $400-per-month apartment have the same power. They are each "1 voter".

If they don't vote... they lose even that status.

BE the change you wish to see in the world. Cast a ballot.

Results will be posted here as they come in.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Just For Fun...

Nation, those of you who have followed this blog from the beginning know that I don't do "endorsements". Completely unscientific, barely-based-in-fact predictions, though, are another story entirely (I'm a lot like the Journal that way).

I've plugged our E.S. Nation poll results into the Hill & Knowlton Alberta Election Predictor 2008, to see what kind of Legislature we can expect if the entire province of Alberta votes the same way the members of E.S. Nation indicate they're going to.

FOURTH RUN - 10:10 pm, March 2nd

PC 28%
Lib 32%
WAP 22%
NDP 10%
Grn 8%

PC 28 seats
Lib 34 seats
WAP 14 seats
NDP 5 seats
Grn 2 seats

  • PC's and Wildrose won't formally ally at first, so Liberals form a formal parliamentary alliance with the NDP and try, but fail, to get the Greens to sign on as well. Taft is the Premier, but with the PC+WAP seat count at 42, the government can fall at any time - and likely will as soon as the PC's under new leader Ted Morton and WAP can get down to serious merger talks.
  • Tories are kicked out of the cities, except for a band from Calgary-Cross South and West to Lougheed.
  • WAP picks up a bunch of rural seats, as well as Egmont.
  • NDP still stuck in Edmonton.
  • Greens add Banff-Cochrane and Calgary-North Hill.
  • Liberals take most of North and West Calgary, several rural ridings near Edmonton, and virtually capture every urban area in the province.

Likely Result:
Province goes ape over the "Urban Minority Government" verus the "Rural Opposition" arrangement, and all hell breaks loose as the parties jockey for position.
Stelmach gone (Morton in), Hinman stays put and 2 parties eventually negotiate to form the Alberta Conservative Party, Taft on shaky ground as Bronconnier moves in as the saviour to try and finish Calgary off and earn a majority, Read stays put, Mason out (Notley in).

THIRD RUN - 3:20 pm, March 2nd

PC 21%
Lib 34%
WAP 21%
NDP 12%
Grn 9%

PC 10 seats
Lib 47 seats
WAP 16 seats
NDP 5 seats
Grn 4 seats
Ind 1 seat


  • PC's lose most of Calgary to the Liberals; hold only Cross, Hays and Shaw; lose Egmont to the WAP and North Hill to the Greens
  • NDP wins 4 seats in Edmonton as well as West Yellowhead, rest of Edm. goes Liberal except for Manning, which elects Dan Backs
  • Liberals win rural seats around Edmonton and a few in the South
  • Alliance dominates most of Eastern and North-Western Alberta
  • Greens win seats in Calgary North Hill, Banff-Cochrane, Drayton Valley-Calmar, and Foothills-Rockyview

Likely Result: Stelmach gone (PC's fold as a party, with party's right going to WAP and left to Lib), Mason gone (Notley in), Taft hears rumours of a popular mayor from Calgary thinking of coming after his job, Hinman leader of opposition, secure as main challenger for his job lost his seat to a Green, Read is lionized as a saint in Green mythology

SECOND RUN - 9:20 am, March 2nd

PC 22%
Lib 37%
WAP 22%
NDP 11%
Grn 7%

PC 10 seats
Lib 52 seats
WAP 15 seats
NDP 5 seats
Grn 1 seat


  • PC's lose most of Calgary to the Liberals; hold only Hays and Shaw; lose Egmont to the WAP
  • NDP wins 5 seats in Edmonton, rest of city goes Liberal
  • Liberals break through in rural Alberta, splitting seats with the Alliance in the North
  • Tories hold the rural buffer around Calgary
  • Greens win their first ever seat in Canada - Banff-Cochrane
Likely Result:
Stelmach gone (PC's fold as a party, with party's right going to WAP and left to Lib), Mason gone (Notley in), Taft finds his faith in humanity restored, Hinman faces challenges from incoming power-hungry ex-Tories

FIRST RUN - 11:00 pm, March 1st
PC 35%
Lib 21%
WAP 21%
NDP 14%
Grn 7%

PC 53 seats
Lib 14 seats
WAP 9 seats
NDP 7 seats
Grn nada


  • Tories lose Lacombe-Ponoka, Dunvegan-Central Peace, Innisfail-Sylvan Lake, Red Deer North, Stoney Plain, Whitecourt-Ste. Anne, Lac La Biche-St. Paul and Vermillion-Lloydminster to the WAP
  • Liberals lose Edmonton Ellerslie and Edmonton Glenora to the NDP
  • Edmonton Manning goes NDP
Likely Result:
Stelmach gone (Morton in), Taft gone (Bronco in), Mason gone (Notley in), WAP members start building a golden statue of Paul Hinman.

Your 5-and-a-half Minute Election Primer

Just a quick note... The "Flagship Policies" I list aren't necessarily the most important policies of a party, but rather the policies they are proposing that are the most identifiable as "THEIRS" - none of the other parties is proposing anything similar. Many party policies are just re-wordings of another party's idea, with a different dollar figure or time-frame attached. These "Flagship Policies" are truly unique to the party in question.

Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta

Leader: Ed Stelmach

Official Campaign Slogan: "Change That Works For Albertans"

Unofficial Campaign Slogan: "We've Done More In 14 Months Than In Ralph's Last 5 Years!"

Flagship Policies: Healthcare High Schools; Attract Foreign Workers; Implement 20-year strategic infrastructure building plan; Establish Energy Efficiency Act; Integrated Land Use Management Plan

Candidates: 83 (66 Male, 17 Female)

One Good Reason To Vote For: Alberta is the envy of the nation, economically - thanks in large part to 37 years of Tory government.

One Good Reason To Vote Against: 12 hours of excruciating pain sitting in an E.R. waiting room.

Possible Leadership Successors: Dave Hancock; Ted Morton; The Enlightened Savage.

E.S. Says: The people keep finding reasons to vote PC - usually, by looking at our neighbouring provinces. If you like the way Alberta is today, you have the PC governments of Lougheed, Getty, Klein and Stelmach to thank for much of it. We've got room to improve, though - and Ed wants you to let him keep at it. The past 14 months have been radically different than Klein's long goodbye - in a lot of very good ways. Spending is at unsustainable levels, but so is inflation. We could get away with spending like Nova Scotia only if we could get roads built for the Nova Scotia price... it's the price we pay for a hot economy.

Alberta Liberal Party

Leader: Kevin Taft

Official Campaign Slogan: "It's Time"

Unofficial Campaign Slogan: "37 Years? Are You People %&@#ing STUPID?!?"

Flagship Policies: Re-regulate Electricity Utilities; Public Pharmacare; Absolute Cap on Greenhouse Gases within 5 years; Increase Oilsands Royalty Rates; Retire the Infrastructure Debt (build everything that needs to be built - cost pegged at 8 to 10 $Billion, IF you can find workers) by 2014

Candidates: 82 (60 Male, 22 Female)

One Good Reason To Vote For: A different perspective sometimes offers previously unconsidered solutions, and the Liberals have been working on new ideas they've been waiting to implement since the end of World War I.

One Good Reason To Vote Against: If the economy goes into the toilet as result of further Royalty tinkering, how do they PAY for all these promises - that are linked directly to resource revenue?

Possible Leadership Successors: Dave Bronconnier; Dave Taylor; The Enlightened Savage's Cousin.

E.S. Says: The Liberals would be a much bigger threat to the Tories with a name change, a leader from Calgary, or both. They WILL make gains on Monday, but will they make enough gains, and hold their Edmonton turf enough, to win? The Liberals have some very good policy ideas, that should be adopted no matter who wins. However, their math makes me very nervous - further tinkering with the Royalty regime will bring enough uncertainty to the oilpatch that companies will pack up and leave - how many, no one can predict. Losing that revenue, where will we find the money to implement many of these great polices? Taft says he'll find nearly $2 Billion in inefficiencies in the current government - cutting government jobs and programs to create other government jobs and programs? Also, why is it that so many Liberal candidates look so much older than their PC counterparts? Either the PC's are investing in BoTox, or the Liberals have replaced them as the "Old Person's Party".

New Democratic Party of Alberta

Leader: Brian Mason

Official Campaign Slogan: "On Your Side"

Unofficial Campaign Slogan: "Liberal, Tory, Same Old Story..."

Flagship Policies: Public auto insurance; Hike Energy Royalties by 60%; Legislate full disclosure of donations and donation limits for all Leadership and nomination races; Cut university tuition to 1999-2000 levels

Candidates: 83 (50 Male, 33 Female)

One Good Reason To Vote For: Democratic reform platform, although not extensive enough, is a good start.

One Good Reason To Vote Against: Their own costing of their promises indicates we'll be within 2 to 3 Billion of running a deficit - if revenues go down (which I suspect they will with their proposed 60% hike in Royalties), we will be back in "Getty-berta", borrowing to pay for the essentials.

Possible Leadership Successors: Rachel Notley

E.S. Says: Mason and the NDP have provided a voice of reason and sober second thought in the mostly dogmatic tiffs between the Liberals and the Tories over what direction to take the province in... they've been like a provincial Senate. However, when looking at their website, a few things are noticeable: Firstly, their full policy document is impossible to find. As in, I'm not sure they've got one - which is a bit worrisome, 19 hours from when the polls open. Secondly, every time you DO look at a policy statement or promise, the page is 75% full of criticisms of the Liberals and Tories, with a paragraph underneath stating their own policy. This is in contrast to their record of offering constructive alternatives rather than attacking out of spite or dogmatic compulsion - and I'm not sure I like the contrast.

Wildrose Alliance Party

Leader: Paul Hinman

Official Campaign Slogan: "Today. Tomorrow. Together."

Unofficial Campaign Slogan: "We Love That Word Re-FOOOOOOOOOORM!"

Flagship Policies: Introduce competition to the Health system; Limit Premiers to two 4-year terms; Privatize Crown Corporations; Establish Alberta Provincial Police force

Candidates: 61 (54 Male, 7 Female)

One Good Reason To Vote For: In the debate, Hinman mused about refunding the past several years worth of Healthcare Premiums to Albertans... Yes, please.

One Good Reason To Vote Against: They're running on a "policies may not be exactly as shown" platform, having made it perfectly clear that the party's policies will change once they hold their first AGM, likely by June. If they're in government when those old Alberta Alliance policies get changed by the membership-at-large (which will include people of many political stripes, including some on the left - how many, no one can say), then you voted for something that they may never do... and giving a party a mandate without set policies is dangerous - since stacking an AGM to sway the governing party's policies isn't as hard as it sounds, especially if the party is new. What if you vote for them on Monday after praying to Saint Preston, and the new members and Wildrose gang jerk the party so far to the Left in June that they more closely resemble the Liberals? Can't take your vote back...

Possible Leadership Successors: Ted Morton, Lyle Oberg, Randy Thorsteinson (it's the only one left he's never led!)

E.S. Says: The electoral reform policies of this party are only going to get better once the Wildrose influence kicks in at their AGM in June - and they're badly needed. 4 years from now, if significant and sweeping changes haven't taken place in the area of electoral reform and transparency, or spending hasn`t been reigned in, these guys will be a HUGE threat to the party in power. As it stands, there's still a little too much "Alberta Alliance" in the policies for most Albertans' taste - and, of course, there's the above-mentioned issue of upcoming changes to the party's platform and policies. The truth is, electing the Wildrose Alliance to govern right now is akin to writing a blank cheque - something us Albertans are loathe to do. They deserve a soap-box in the Legislature to push the electoral reform agenda, though, and keep the government to account on frivolous spending, so I hope they win 3 to 5 seats. A little competition on the right over the next 4 years would keep the PC's from getting too comfortable, and competition breeds excellence. :)

Alberta Greens

Leader: George Read

Official Campaign Slogan: none

Unofficial Campaign Slogan: "Evolve or Die!"

Flagship Policies: Integrate rural and urban transportation hubs; high-speed rail link between Calgary and Edmonton; Paid tuition for health-care workers who agree to stay in Alberta for 7 years; Commitment to having the lowest post-secondary tuitions in Canada

Candidates: 79 (52 Male, 27 Female)

One Good Reason To Vote For: Sustainability is going to become a HUGE issue for this province, both environmentally and economically - neither the Oil NOR the fresh water NOR the forestry industry is going to last forever, at current rates of consumption. The Greens want us to start addressing that issue NOW, clean up our act and diversify our economy instead of trying to come up with some half-cocked plan after it's already too late to do anything about it.

One Good Reason To Vote Against: Our current economy is driven by Oil and Gas, and transitioning to a new base is going to leave us economically vulnerable in the short term.

Possible Leadership Successors: Fred Clemens, Mark McGillvray, David Suzuki (if he'd lower himself to a mere provincial post), Leah Lawrence (she'd be awesome, if she ever left the PC's...)

E.S. Says: We need Greens in the Legislature. Clearly, lost amid all the back-and-forth posturing is the fact that we're doing 180 kph on the autobahn, fighting over the steering wheel, but the bridge is out ahead. We either need to get off this road or we're going off the cliff - the Greens want us to turn the wheel before it's too late. Whether it's one, or two or three, we need their voices in the Leg - plus, getting an elected Green means that Albertans will actually get a chance to hear the Leader of the Alberta Greens in the next televised debate (in 4 years). For a party with perhaps the most important message of all to continue to be shut out of these debates isn't just disheartening - it's borderline irresponsible.