Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Shuffling the Deck

Nation, the impending shuffle of Alberta's provincial cabinet is one of the worst-kept secrets in the political sphere today.

Whether it will be a dramatic overhaul (at least 10 ministries changing hands) or a tweak (less than 3), the winds of change are indeed blowing through the halls of power in the Legislature.

My Blogfather, Ken Chapman, just celebrated his 3-year anniversary as a blogger, and is hosting a discussion about what sorts of changes we can expect - or hope for - in the new cabinet. Go check it out, and throw in your 2 cents!

Ken Chapman: What Cabinet Shuffle Advice Would You Give Premier Stelmach?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Quick Thoughts

Greetings, Nation. Perhaps you've heard of me... I am "the world's most interesting man"...

... would you believe, Guy Boutilier's blogging alter-ego?

... would you believe, the last anonymous blogger standing in the long-running blood feud between the E.S. Nation and the followers of Tiny Perfect Blog?

Well, one out of 3 ain't bad. ;)

I've got some HEAVY writing to do to get you all up to speed on exactly how you should be thinking about issues over the past month (I kid, I kid), but I wanted to whet your appetites with a few quick thoughts that have occurred in the last little bit.

Thought One: No Solicitation

Nation, I'm on Twitter (aren't we all?), and I've got to admit that some of the stuff that pops up with the #ableg hashtag is just plain funny.

One of the trends I've noticed as late, though, is the blatant kissing-up that's taking place as supporters of the Wildrose Alliance try to butter up the more "conservative" of the PC caucus in Alberta. I'm waiting to see if some of these supporters are planning on proposing marriage, it's gotten so bad.

Look, the tactic is pretty simplistic, and easy to achieve. So bravo for being efficient. But come on, WAP supporters: you're the same people who completely reformed the centre-right movement in this country with the Reform Party. You know how this is going to go - and while it may potentially benefit your party in the long run to drive wedges between these "ideologically compatible" PC MLA's and the "evil" Red Tories who sit with them in caucus - all you're doing in the short term is causing problems for these same MLA's you're claiming to be so enamoured with, who have to go back into the caucus meetings and face the stares of fellow MLA's who wonder why "MLA X" is getting such nice things written about them by the leadership contenders and supporters of the Wildrose Alliance.

There's a cabinet shuffle afoot in the not-so-distant future. I wonder how these same MLA's will feel if the "right-wing unsolicited admiration society" costs them a shot at a cabinet post.

Thought Two: How NOT To Be A Responsible Opposition

I received an email recently from Dr. David Swann. Truth be told, it was a press release - Dr. Swann doesn't spend a lot of time personally emailing The Enlightened Savage (although I'd be happy to do an e-mail interview, Dr. Swann).

In the release, the Liberal leader asks of Ed "Whatcha gonna hack?". The school-yard language proves appropriate, given the rest of the message. Further into the release, he calls on Stelmach to "name which vital facilities, programs and services he'll cut to balance the books" (added emphasis mine).

First of all, I love that Dr. Swann feels, apparently, that there is no waste or inefficiency in government that can be eliminated. As a government employee myself, I feel exactly the same way - as do the 30,000 other members of AUPE who aren't out chasing down the hidden identities of bloggers.

Secondly, I really enjoy that the Leader of Her Majesty's Official Opposition is suggesting that the government is going to cut not only A vital facility, program, or service - but SEVERAL - in order to balance the books. There's nothing quite like inciting a public panic for political gain.

My favourite part of the message, though, comes at the bottom, where it reads: "Swann speculates that the following big-ticket items and vital services could be on Ed's chopping block", and then proceeds to, in his magnanimity, list off 16 items in a list that seems to be designed to stir up anger and protest in every possible corner and facet of Albertan society.

Releasing a smear-job like this is way, WAY beneath Dr. David Swann - and the person who actually composed this message, and advocated for its release, should be reminded as such.

Folks, I don't think I'm shocking anyone with the information that I am not, in fact, a member of the Alberta Liberals. That said, though, I have been quite impressed with the kind of operation they've run since Dr. Swann took over the leadership. Their communications, as a caucus and an opposition, have improved dramatically. As has the quality of their participation in the Legislature.

Garbage like THIS, though, is a throwback to the "bad old days" for the Liberals.

Dr. Swann wants Albertans to believe that he is capable of being the Premier of Alberta, tomorrow if necessary. He wants us to believe that the Alberta Liberals are ready to run the business of government - and, ergo, that they're capable of getting us out of our economic predicament.



This is a press release using juvenile language and smear tactics to throw a giant "NAH-nee-NAH-nee-BOO-boo" at the current government.

If the Liberals want us to believe they're more capable than the PC's to get us out of this mess, then where is THEIR plan? They're sending out releases suggesting what, in their estimation, the "mean-spirited and backwards Tories" are going to cut to balance the books - but what do the LIBERALS suggest we do? Where's the Liberal plan? The opposition plan? The plan of the government-in-waiting?

They're not releasing one. They're not releasing one, because they believe it's more advantageous to them, politically, to let the PC's screw up the economy, and cost thousands of Albertans their jobs, homes, and health, then it is to make suggestions outside the context of an election - when they have something to gain. They would rather let Albertans SUFFER - which they believe Albertans will do under this government - than give away their brilliant ideas, for the Tories to "steal".

In a ironic turn of phrase, considering this is the same accusation that was made by these same Liberals towards Premier Stelmach: They're more interested in protecting their OWN jobs than they are in protecting yours. Just what we should ALL hope for in our leaders.

If we can accept for a moment that math is non-partisan - we need to find $2 Billion. And, since the Liberals don't seem inclined to address their plan directly - and, since what's good for the goose is good for the gander - I'll try to address it FOR them.

"The Enlightened Savage speculates that the following tax hikes and user fees could be implemented, and the following big-ticket items and vital services could be on Dave's chopping block, under the secret Liberal plan to balance Alberta's books:"

- Provincial Sales Tax of 15% - only levied against women.
- Increase the Royalty Rate for Oil & Gas, putting a final nail in the economic coffin.
- Close both YEG and YYC airports, replacing them with a mandatory $1500 horse-and-buggy ride to Springbank airport or a new airstrip at Morinville.
- Close all the schools in Lethbridge - just because.
- Queen Elizabeth II Highway will be a toll road, with booths set up immediately North and South of Red Deer.
- Sell off all the lands in Kananaskis Country, at market value.
- Re-institute health care premiums, at $5000 per person per year.
- Double tuition at the University of Alberta
- Tax tickets to Calgary Flames games at 200% of face value.

Do any of these make sense? No. Do I have any evidence to back up these claims? No.

But I'm just a blogger.

The Liberals want the keys to the Government Porsche.

Shouldn't the "Government-in-Waiting" be held to a higher standard than a blogger?