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Friday, February 24, 2006

as the race continues....

For those of you interested, I have decided to break my semi-blog of silence to inform you that Alberta PC Leadership candidate Mark Norris and his "Grassroots Leadership Group" have lauched his campaign website.

Mr. Norris was also at the Speech from the Throne on Wednesday this week (I had a nice chat his office manager).

If I have the chance this weekend, I'll post a quick recap of the SFTT.

The Public Interest Alberta PSE conference is this weekend, so mixed with other stuff, I should be sufficiently busy this weekend.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

we & i.

Well, in a moment of thought, we found ourselves thinking about the day we decided that it might be interested to write in the first person plural (or whatever Steve Smith called it after he threatened to punch us in the throat).

Fortunately for Mr. Smith (and our throat), we've decided it was once again time that "we" blogged as an "I."

So, I am back blogging tonight for the first and the last time in a bit. The upcoming forecast of daily events looks like it should be getting a little busier in the next few weeks, so the blog posts will most likely be sparce and few, if any.

Tomorrow afternoon, I will be attending the opening of the Alberta Legislature which is highlighted by the Speech from the Throne. I didn't get a chance to watch Premier Klein's Address to the Province this evening, but I hear that for the first time since about 1987, the Government of Alberta will be investing new funds into the Heritage Savings Trust Fund.

I will also be facilitating two discussion sessions at this weekend's Public Interest Alberta Post-Secondary Education Conference here in Edmonton. The sessions I will be facilitating are the Student Finance session with the lovely Clare Ard and the Rural PSE Access session with Dr. Roger Epp, Dean of the U of A Augustana Campus.

I've done quite a bit of research on student financing and rural PSE issues over the past year, so I'm very interested to hear what people have to say about the subject.

As well, the guest speakers for the weekend include Globe & Mail columnist Jeffery Simpson and Peter MacMenamin, the Deputy Secretary General of the Teacher's Union of Ireland. It looks to be an interesting weekend.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

the swiss?

Well, it looks like the temperature has risen to a balmy -10C here on the prairies...

We watched the Canada-Switzerland game this morning and all we can say is wow. Canada got wooped by SWITZERLAND! SWITZERLAND?

We didn't even know they even had an Olympic Hockey team... oh well, good for them...

Thursday, February 16, 2006

as winter jabs us in the rib...

It looks like the glorious summer of January and February 2006 is bidding us farewell...

Current forecast from the Weather Network:

Right now: -24C
With windchill: -35C

It was +8C last week. So, that's a 43C temperature change in a week.

Lord we love Alberta...

Monday, February 13, 2006

alberta - be smart and think big!

Here is part of an editorial that was in the Calgary Herald this weekend. It pretty much sums up what we've been talking about for the past couple years...

Alberta has been given a vast array of gifts -- of natural resources, of hard-working people with entrepreneurial spirit, of markets eager to do business. It has been wise enough to steward these riches well to this point. It now faces a greater challenge: to build a better future, not just for Albertans, but for Canada and the world.

Here's how to do it:

1. Start saving. In the past 30 years, only 8.6 per cent of royalties have been set aside and more than 90 per cent spent. The Heritage Fund is worth $2,500 per capita, compared with $6,000 per capita in 1991.

Now that its debt is paid off, Alberta must start a serious savings plan. Canada West suggests half of all resource revenue go to an endowment fund; whatever the percentage, it needs to be substantial.

2. Manage spending. Alberta needs to invest in a strong health-care system, education and infrastructure for cities. The cuts that were necessary to bury the debt in the 1990s are no longer needed and Albertans have said they favour reinvestment.

So do we, but with a measure of stability. The greatest obstacle these sectors face is the roller-coaster of funding they've had to contend with as the provincial government lurches between surpluses.

These areas should be funded properly over the long term; the wild and wacky splurges of the past year have to stop.

3. Think big. If Alberta spends wisely and saves for the future, there will be still be ample opportunities to leave a proud legacy. Forget prosperity cheques and vanity projects -- let's aim higher.

The Canada West Foundation thinks Alberta could lead the world in research and development in alternate forms of energy, rival Harvard with a post-secondary endowment fund, or fund a national centre of excellence in wellness.

Albertans will have other ideas, if they are challenged to be visionary.

There was a bumper sticker popular in Alberta in the 1980s that read: "Please God, let there be another oil boom. I promise not to piss it all away next time."

Albertans have been given that second chance with riches and potential that are the envy of many. It must not be wasted.
As far as university endowments are mentioned in the article, we are in the midst of writing a policy brief on North American university endowments - Harvard is the largest up around $25 Billion and Yale is second with around $15 Billion (the University of Alberta's endowment is currently sitting around half a billion - according to 2005 figures).

Endowment funds are where-it-is-at, dawg.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

buzz off and get a shotgun...

heh heh.

- Buzz Hargrove got the boot from the NDP (we can see the ads now... "this February, give Buzz the boot...").

We don't find this surprising seeing how the rift between Hargrove and the NDP has substantially grown in the past few years (we remember listening to an argument between Hargrove and then-NDP leader Alexa McDonough on CBC Radio One's As It Happens following her stepping down as leader - wow, she kept calling him "Basil" - you could have cut the tension between them with a knife).

Though were sure that his endorsing the Liberals in the last election (and his kind of endorsement of the Bloc...) had more to do with it than anything else.

If anything, we think this is a good move. Distancing the NDP from twits like Hargove and the grip of big labour (even symbolically) could help them expand their base of support.

- Second, United States Vice-President Dick Cheney shot someone with a shotgun!

Was Dick Cheney hunting people? No.

But it is slightly funny in a sick sort of way.

(Props to Anonymotron for "establishing [his] conservative credentials" by emailing us the story and gun links...)

UPDATE! Tomorrow's headlines: "Cheney caused friendly fire incident"

Saturday, February 11, 2006

canada wins gold!

Spruce Grove mogul skier Jennifer Heil has won the Gold Medal in her Olympic competition just moments ago in Turino, Italy!! Congrats!

WOO HOO! Canada rocks!

literati davebertus

For interests sake, here are the books we are in the midst of reading at the moment...

- What's the Matter with Kansas ? by Thomas Frank
- War by Gwyn Dyer
- Alberta Politics Uncovered: Taking Back our Province by Marc Lisac
- The Return of the Trojan Horse: Alberta and the New World (Dis)Order edited by Trevor W. Harrison
- Citizens Plus: Aboriginal Peoples and the Canadian State by Alan C. Cairns
- Whose North: Political Change, Political Development, and Self-Government in the Northwest Territories by Mark Dickerson
- Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution by Paul Hawken, Amoury Lovins, and L. Hunter Lovins.
- Jarhead by Anthony Swofford
- Excuse Us! Herr Schicklgruber by Clifford Chadderton.

88 dodge aries

If you haven't checked out this video, you should. It's fun!

Friday, February 10, 2006

democratic reform in alberta?

For those of you interested in democratic reform in the great province of Alberta, we are pleased to inform you that the Alberta Liberal Opposition is taking the bull by the horns and hosting a forum on this topic on Monday (February 13 from 7-9pm at the Stanley Milner Library in Edmonton).

Speakers will include Liberal leader Kevin Taft, and Craig Henschel and Shoni Field from the B.C.’s Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform.

The forum will be moderated by Edmonton McClung MLA Mo Elsalhy and attended by MLA's Hugh MacDonald, Bridget Pastoor, and Maurice Tougas.

We will be attending, so if you want to talk about democratic reform AND get a glimpse of the original daveberta...

Thursday, February 09, 2006

evans is out of the race.

Well, there are many people who will testify that Alberta's Health & Wellness Minister Iris Evans is "waaaay out there," but now, she is officially out of the Alberta PC leadership race.

To give daveberta readers an example of the "way outness" of the Sherwood Park Progressive Conservative MLA, the first time we met her, she was clinging to a plastic SIDS baby doll. Now, as weird as it was for her to be clinging to a plastic SIDS baby doll in the first place, it was at a conference dealing with international development - why she was there we still do not know (she was Minister of Children's Services at the time) - but she spoke on behalf of the Alberta Government following an terrific speech by then-Senator Doug Roche. The topic which she spoke of was just as bizarre... you guessed it... she spent her 5 minutes at a conference on international development and the third world talking about SIDS... it was really bizarre.

Not to mention the weirdness of the Tory Caucus video at the most recent Alberta Legislature Press Gallery dinner which had had Minister Evans making reference to "sausages." This is made even weirder when you understand that she typically raises (at some very inappropriate times) that she is single and looking for a man...

Not that she was a "real" contender anyway, but it looks like the Tories may have an "all-white all-penis" leadership race on their hands once Premier Ralph Klein decides to go to pasture.

martha hall findlay is "frighteningly qualified": blogging tory.

As you may now know, Martha Hall Findlay has beat us to the punch and is now the first candidate to officially enter the Liberal leadership race. Good for her! She has the guts to do what Frank McKenna, John Manley, Allan Rock, and Brian Tobin didn't!

Hall Findlay is a Toronto lawyer who ran for the Liberals in 2004 against then-Tory MP Belinda Stronach in Newmarket-Aurora.

When Stronach crossed the floor to the Liberals last May, one of our favorite blogging Tories, Steve Janke of Angry in the Great White North, had this to say about Hall Findlay:

"(May 18, 2005) Who is Martha Hall Findlay? She was the woman found run over yesterday. Forensic analysis of the evidence suggests two vehicles -- one was a Stronach Aspiration Special, outfitted with wide tread tires for extra grip in an environment of slimey and slippery power-grab politics, and the other was a Martin Desperation Wagon, the sort without doors so that anyone can just jump in as he drives by waving money and cabinet appointments.

Seriously, Ms. Findlay was the Liberal candidate for Newmarket-Aurora, ready to fight Ms. Stronach in a re-match of the 2004 election, which Belinda barely won (by a mere 689 votes).

Good thing the Liberals tossed Ms. Findlay. I've looked over her experience and skills, and I'd say she was far worse fit in the Liberal Party than Belinda Stronach was in the Conservative Party.

Read on, and you'll see what I mean."
"(May 20, 2005) On another front, Martha Hall Findlay, the frighteningly qualified Liberal candidate for Newmarket-Aurora who was pushed out when multi-millionaire Belinda Stronach came to take her job away, still has her web site up. Good for her."

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

ted morton's stumping...

Foothills-Rockyview MLA, Firewall letter signatory, and Alberta PC Leadership candidate Ted Morton spoke to a crowd of 130 people last Friday at a leadership campaign dinner in the Town of Cochrane.

Here's a bit of it from the Cochrane Times...

In what turned out to be a night that just reinforced the support of Conservatives in Foothills-Rockyview area, Morton explained his platform of ideas that he wanted people to keep in mind when it comes time to vote for the next premier of Alberta, which at the very latest, will be in 2009, but is likely to be sooner.

“There are new challenges for our new century,” he said. “They require new ideas and new leaders.”

To which he received applause and nods among the audience.

Morton’s main challenge he believes must be faced, is that Alberta receive a “fair deal” in Ottawa.

While he explained that Alberta alienation could be far in the past, with the selection of the new prime minister, Stephen Harper, as his riding is in fact, in Calgary Southwest, he said choosing him would further the process.

Yes, Albertans will feel less alienated with a nutbar like Morton as Premier... sure...

last post mentioning emerson...

...for a while at least.

- Putting the Emerson fiasco to a slight rest, we'd like to congratulate the 18% of Vancouver Kingswayites on their stunning victory. No one saw it coming.

- Michel Fortier: "I didn't run, because I didn't want to run. wow. We don't want to run either, can we become a cabinet minister and get appointed to the Senate? Talk about culture of entitlement.

- Harper's 1st cabinet is surprisingly low on the "Reformer" flavour. Only 3 of the original Reformers elected in 1993 made it to "full cabinet minister" status (including Harper, Monte Solberg, and Chuck Strahl).

- Yesterday morning we received what can only be described as the most ridiculous/hilarious piece of spam EVER. No only is it some sort of pyramid scheme, but it's detailed in our very own individual video!!! "Dear Mr. Berta"

It's quite hilarious. Make sure to keep an eye on the suggestive poses of the woman...

Unfortunately, since we originally watched the video, we've gotten about 8 emails from them wanting to know if we're buying in to their little scheme...

- Today is the one year anniversary of Premier Ralph Klein's promise to Albertans that by September 2006, Alberta will have the most affordable post-secondary tuition policy in the country.

Here's the exact quote...

"By the time post-secondary students head back in September 2006, Alberta will define a new tuition policy for the 21st century. It will be the most affordable, entrepreneurial, and affordable tuition policy in the country. We will do whatever it takes to make sure money isn't a barrier to attending Alberta's post-secondary institutions."

We have yet to see this tuition policy, but we're hoping he will stick to his promise for September 2006.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

edmonton gets the shaft...

1 Prime Minister (Stephen Harper. duh.)
1 Cabinet Minister (Jim Prentice)
3 Parliamentary Secretaries (Diane Ablonczy, Jason Kenney, Deepak Obhrai)

1 Cabinet Minister (Rona Ambrose)

Edmonton wants in?

Monday, February 06, 2006

crossing the floor faster than you can say 'cabinet minister...'

That was fast.

Even faster than crossing the floor two weeks after your constituents re-elected you... silly David Emerson... even sillier Stephen Harper...

Leave it to the blogosphere to give disgruntled people a soapbox...

For interests sake, here are some of the Vancouver Kingsway facts we posted on Mr. Smith's blog...

Election results in Vancouver Kingsway on January 23rd:

Liberal - 20,064
NDP - 15,570
CPC - 8,699
Grn - 1,301
LTN - 277
COM - 162
CAP - 143
M-L - 69

History of electoral representation in Vancouver Kingsway:

1953-58 - CCF
1958-62 - PC (Dief sweep)
1962-74 - NDP
1974-79 - Liberal
1979-88 - NDP
(dissolved from 1988-1997)
1997-2006 - Liberal

congratulations, mr. harper. its a cabinet!

Well, that was interesting...

- David Emerson crossing the floor this soon after the election has to set some sort of record. He's like Belinda Stronach, except with integrity and substance. (UPDATE: Sorry to clarify: HAD integrity).

- No Deputy Prime Minister.

- Peter Mackay in Foreign Affairs.

- Other than Stockwell Day in Public Safety and unelected Michel Fortier in Public Works, it seems like afairly moderate and predictable cabinet. Harper had to stick Day somewhere, but we still haven't figured out the logic in appoint Fortier.

- Alberta's picks are Rona Ambrose for Environment, Jim Prentice for Indian Affairs, and Monte Solberg for Citizenship and Immigration.

- As far as we can tell, they haven't announced any of the Parliamentary Secretaries, which we would assume means that they will not be members of the Privy Council (as was the case in the previous Liberal Government).

We're kind of busy right now, so we'll comment more soon... but the entire list can be found here.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

when was the last time denmark got this much attention?

We have to admit we're amazed at the destruction that has occurred after the widespread publication of the now infamous cartoons Muhammad cartoons - originally posted in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten depicting Muhammad (click here to see the cartoons) and were republished in newspapers across Europe and in New Zealand.

Last week, Syrian protesters set fire to the Danish Embassy in Damascus and then proceeded to march 4 miles to the Norwegian Embassy (what did Norway have to do with it?). As well, the Danish Embassy in Beruit, Lebanon was burnt down by angry protesters (see more pictures here). In Jakarta, Indonesia, the Danish Embassy was stormed by angry protesters. As well, the German cultural centre and the European Union offices in the Gaza Strip were also attacked.

Though we obviously don't share the anger of the protesters (we're not finding any Embassies to burn), we agree that the cartoons did lack a certain amount of taste.

We find it very very curious that spontaneous protests of any kind could happen in strong dictatorships such as Syria. Not only does the lack of security provided by the Syrian government around the Embassies suggest silent support for the protesters actions, but it also sends a strong message to the international community about Syria's committment to protecting foreign diplomats in their country.

Is this surprising? Not really.

As well, as was mentioned by a guest caller on the CBC Radio program Cross Country Checkup this afternoon, the outrage towards the Danish people signals a huge double standard among leaders in the Muslim world - many whom called upon calm following the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York and that the western world should not blame all Arabs for the attack. Why should the Danish Embassies be attacked for the work of an individual cartoon drawer? They shouldn't.

We're not sure if any of our ramblings actually makes sense, but we would like prescribe a huge dose of "chill out" to all those angered enough to go and burn down foreign Embassies in their area.

Hopefully things will "chill out" and not let this international controversy effect the beginning of next week's Olympic Games in Torino, Italy.

the pearson decade...

Props to our good friend Howard for passing along this interesting article written by Tom Kent of Policy Options Magazine and the Institute for Research on Public Policy.

The article, titled The Pearson Decade: How Defeat Fortold Victory, tells the story of how a previous Liberal dynasty fell and how it was rebuilt under the politically chaotic but productive years of Lester Pearson.

You should read it. It's quite interesting.

Saturday, February 04, 2006 vs.

This is what happens when internet search engines conspire with the Chinese government for profit...

(Since google owns blogger, we're really hoping this blog doesn't get deleted...)

(100% props to Anonymotron for passing this on to us - if we go down, we're bringing him down with us!)

Friday, February 03, 2006

leadership rules committee created...

New news on the "other leadership race!"

Yes folks, the inevitable Alberta PC Leadership race which has been unofficially "on" for over a year.

Sources close to the Alberta Legislature have informed us that the Tory establishment has struck an "ad hoc" committee to decide the rules of the race once Premier Ralph Klein retires (it is unknown if this "ad hoc" committee will resemble an "ad hoc rainbow coalition").

Members of this "ad hoc" committee include such Tory stalwarts as PC Party President Doug Graham, PC Executive Director, former MLA and MP, and former Chief of Staff to Klein, Peter Elzinga, Provincial Campaign Chair and former MLA Marvin Moore, PC VP Finance (North) Gary Campbell, PC Budget Director Harold Milavsky, and long-time party insiders Skip MacDonald, Dave Williams, Dave Cameron, and Emmanuel (Sonny) Mirth.

It is yet to be revealed what terms of reference this shady backroom group will be operating under.

dear tom olsen: part 1

In the spirit of our Letters to Paul Jackson (Part 1 & Part 2) at the Calgary Sun, here is an email we wrote to Tom Olsen of the Calgary Herald this morning...

Dear Mr. Olsen,

I would like to thank you for your interesting and insightful commentary on the heath care debate currently raging in this province.

It is your columns that continue to strengthen my belief that the need for a change in government in Alberta is needed now more than ever.

It’s not easy having a “different opinion” or a “non-Tory opinion” in Alberta (i'm assuming you’ve never had to face this problem), but columns like yours continue to strengthen my resolve. It also increases my fondness for our Opposition MLA’s, who have to put up daily with attack columns like yours.

Keep up the good work!

Cheers and Salutations,

UPDATE! We're very pleased to announce that Mr. Olsen has responded to us!

From his response, we've discovered that either: 1. He didn't read the email, or 2. he shares our sense of sarcasm.

Either way, here it is...

I will!!
Thanks for your note!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

vincent von google

It's been a busy week here in the land of daveberta!

First, we're still intrigued by Gerard Kennedy and have sent him an email urging him to think about running for the Federal Liberal leadership (it may force us to renew our lapsed membership).

Second, on Monday afternoon, we joined a couple hundered other Univeristy of Albertans in listening to a lecture by the always articulate and wonderful Stephen Lewis. This was the third time we've seen Mr. Lewis speak and he did not disappoint. He was just as moving and powerful as the first two times.

Third, we recieved our "Ralphbucks"/rebate/prosperity/screw-you-Canada cheque yesterday. Woopie! $400. Though we still think it's a pretty irresponsible way of using tax-payers dollars, we will gladly take it (we're planning to donate at least half to charity).

Fourth, yesterday, we met with the former Deputy Prime Minister of Sweden and current Swedish Ambassador to Brazil, Margareta Winberg. She was on campus speaking in the Arts building to a group of about 12 people. She was speaking Swedish at least 90% of the time, so we didn't understand most of what she had to say.

Fifth, we're now addicted to the wonderful Aqua Teen Hunger Force. We blame Henderson.

That is all. You may now continue your day.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

our very own kennedy.

Though there has been much talk about potential Liberal leadership candidates since Paul Martin's abdication on January 23rd, there has been one name that has intrigued us: Gerard Kennedy.

Though we'd never heard of Kennedy before our good friend Bart wrote about him, we must admit that so far we like what we hear.

Being a strong centre-left Ontario MPP (for Parkdale-High Park) and Provincial Minister of Education, Kennedy could off an interesting alternative to the centre-right business Liberal leadership candidates (Stronach, Brison, etc).

Here are some of the things we find appealing about him...

- He’s young (mid-40's - not a senior citizen) and bilingual.

- He was born in Manitoba, attended the Universities of Trent and Alberta.

- He founded the Edmonton Food Bank before moving on to join the Daily Bread Food Bank in Toronto. He was the Executive Director of this Food Bank for ten years.

- He placed a strong second to Dalton McGuinty in the last Ontario Liberal Leadership race.

- He could add fresh blood and energy into the leadership race.

- He was not attached to the former Martin or Chrétien regimes.

This race needs strong candidates with liberal credentials. Mr. Kennedy may just be the person to offer those credentials.

We hope he strongly considers putting his hat in to the ring.

foip this...

The FOIP Officer uses high level research and analytical skills in dealing with FOIP matters. The FOIP Officer must be detail orientated when dealing with FOIP requests, including during the assessment, interpretation and application of relevant sections. A thorough inspection of each request is required to determine what can be released, what can be withheld and what must be withheld. The FOIP Officer must ensure that all requests are evaluated on their own merit and in accordance with government regulations, policies and the framework of the FOIP Act.