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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

the media becomes media affairs.

Not to totally regurgitate an Alberta's Public Affairs Bureau media release, but this is somewhat significant news:

Edmonton... Two veteran journalists will join Premier Ed Stelmach's office in key communications roles. Premier Stelmach announced the appointment of Paul Stanway as Director of Communications and Tom Olsen as Director of Media Relations.
Tom Olsen and Paul Stanway are two well-known very predictably Conservative columnists from conservative Calgary newspapers. Olsen's brother worked as part of Ralph Klein's communications team back in the 1990's. Other than bringing in two right-wing media pundits into his inner circle, it's too early to tell how this move will turn out for Stelmach. I guess it may depend on how good of a relationship these two actually have with their soon to be former collegues.

It should also be interesting to look up what Stelmach's two new spin-doctors have written about him in the past. Google is both a wonderful and dangerous thing.

beware of global dimming.

I thought some folks would be interested in taking a look at this BBC documentary on global dimming. I found it very interesting.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

trying to be somewhat creative in the face of a seemingly overwhelming lack of anything else to blog about.

Yes, these ads. By now I'm sure most of you have heard about the Federal Conservatives attack ad's aimed at Federal Liberal leader Stephane Dion which are to be broadcast during next weeks SuperBowl.

To be clear, I'm not a fan of political attack ads, but that doesn't mean I won't give the Harper Tories credit for starting their anti-Dion campaign early. None of the major parties own the highground when it comes to negative attack ads, so it shouldn't be too much of a surprise that the Tories are running a pre-election Blitzkrieg on Dion's leadership abilities.

The Paul Martin's Federal Liberals ran negative ads in the past two elections and it looks like the Tories are trying to do the same thing to Dion that the Chretien Liberals did to Stockwell Day in 2000 (Anyone remember the Reform Alliance and their hidden agenda?).

Whether the ads will be effective or is anot nother issue. They're not the fanciest or even the damning attack ads I've seen, so It should be interesting to see the reaction that Canadian football fans give when they see the ads next weekend.

Monday, January 29, 2007

ed's back to the bible hour?

Not that I have a problem with men of faith, but I couldn't help but think of Social Credit Premiers "Bible" Bill Aberhart and Ernest Manning's Back to the Bible Radio Hour when I read about this.

Also, what happened to all those $5,000 donations? Yes, those donations.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

greens at 9%.

A new Angus-Reid poll is out and is showing the Federal Conservatives 3% ahead of the Federal Liberals. It also shows Elizabeth May's Green Party of Canada on a bit of an upswing at the expense of the Federal NDP. Here are the results compared with results from November and May, 2006:

Jan. 2007

Nov. 2006

May 2006









New Democratic Party








Bloc Québécois





I'm starting to get the hang of this "new blogger" and "new template," but feel free to drop some suggestions in my inbox if you have thoughts on how I can make this blog even better than the best blog ever it already is.

A couple of updates and thoughts...

Last week, Federal NDP leader Jack Layton swung through Edmonton. I was lucky enough to be part of a three-on-one meeting with Mr. Layton that afternoon. It was a good meeting, interesting disucussion, but he looked like he had been up since 5am (which was probably the case).

Afterwards, Layton spoke to a large group at the U of A and I think he did fairly well doing the question and answer thing. Layton's jaunt through Edmonton followed Federal Liberal leader Stephane Dion's stop at the U of A campus a week ago. I can't remember the last time Prime Minister Stephen Harper stopped by the University of Alberta...

Though my good friend may have mocked Layton's recent anti-ATM fee announcement, I actually don't think it's a bad idea (I don't think it's going to be the next election's "wedge issue," but I surely don't appreciated getting gauged $1.50 everytime I use a non-credit union ATM).

And finally, I seem to have missed the second anniversary of this blog back on January 20. Two more years! Two more years

Thursday, January 25, 2007

fancy new daveberta.

As you may have noticed, the template of this blog has changed a bit. I'm proud to announce that this blog has joined 2007 and changed over to the "new blogger." The jury is still out on the changes to blogger, but look forward to new and exciting changes to this blog in the near future (including my finishing updating the blog links on the recommended reading bar).

On another note, my life is returning to a semi-regular normality once again, so you can be sure to expect more regular posting in the forseeable future.

what not to let slip.

Though I'm sure every other blogger and their dog will or have posted this already, here is a fun leak in the Rudy Guiliani 2008 Campaign for U.S. President: a 140 page campaign plan dossier...

props to anonymotron for the link.

(via the politico)

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

budget delays...

More substantive posts coming in the near future, but here is an interesting twist...

Jan, 23 2007 - 4:20 PM

EDMONTON - Finance Minister Lyle Oberg has confirmed the new Alberta budget won't be ready until April, several weeks later than usual.

Oberg says he's putting in place a whole new budgeting process that brings the government caucus into the decision-making process.

But, the new finance minister says this is taking some extra time even though completing the budget is now his top priority.

Oberg says Albertans shouldn't expect to see any spending cuts in the new budget given that the province is facing an inflation rate of 4.5 percent, but he says they may curtail spending increases.

However, a budget arriving after the current fiscal year ends on March 31 means the legislature would have to approve interim financing until a new budget is passed.

Friday, January 19, 2007

rough waters ahead?

1. Ed Stelmach's PC Government doesn't seem to be getting the same smooth ride from the media the 13 year Ralph Klein's PC's received.

Following the cancellation of the $5,000 a ticket exclusive Tory fundraiser, there appears to be no shortage of tension coming from Stelmach's first cabinet as Health Minister Dave Hancock (Edmonton Whitemud) is being openly scolded by fellow Tories Ty Lund (Rocky Mountain House) and Treasury Board President Lloyd Snelgrove (Vermilion-Lloydminster) for talking to the media about a Province-wide smoking ban.

Alberta Liberal MLA Hugh MacDonald (Edmonton Gold Bar) has discovered that the Alberta Tories have failed to file mandatory reports to Elections Alberta since 1987. From the Edmonton Sun...

The situation involves a secret "foundation fund" the party was allowed to keep after the financial disclosure law was passed in 1978, provided it filed annual reports on transfers from it.
Deputy Electoral Officer Bill Sage told the Sun he failed to notice that the statements stopped coming.

"I was responsible for it. I was the director of financial operations at the time. It was something that escaped me and I didn't realize it until just recently."
He said Elections Alberta has requested the Tory party to provide the missing
statements, but is still waiting for them.
2.For someone who pledged to get the Government of Alberta "out of the business of business," former Tory Premier Ralph Klein sure hopped on the business bandwagon quickly as a Senior Business Advisor for Borden Ladner Gervais LLP in Calgary.

3. The salary of the chairman of Horse Racing Alberta has risen 217% in just four years. According to Alberta Liberal MLA Maurice Tougas (Edmonton Meadowlark): just four years, Horse Racing Alberta has received more than $136 million from slot machine revenue. The government estimates another $60 million could pour into HRA this year, bringing the total subsidy to almost $200 million.
4. On the federal side of things, Stephane Dion has announced the Federal Liberals massive 47 MP shadow cabinet. The Harper Conservatives are framing it as a "Blast from the Past." It should be interesting to see how the well the Federal Liberals regroup before the next election.

5. Anne McLellan has announced that she will not be seeking the Federal Liberal nomination to challenge Tory MP Laurie Hawn in Edmonton Centre. Names that I've heard being bantered around for Liberal candidates include Jim Jacuta, Randy Boissonnault, and 2006 Edmonton East candidate Nicole Martel...

Thursday, January 18, 2007

session on the horizon...

The rumour mill has rolled out February 26 as the beginning of the 2007 Spring session of the Alberta Legislature.

It's also likely that the first Bill presented by Premier Ed Stelmach's PC Government will be a pseudo-Accountability Act, which among other things would propose the creation of the long-overdue Lobbyist Registry.

The creation of a Lobbyist Registry is something that the Liberal Opposition has been strongly calling for over the past few years.

I've been fairly busy lately, but will roll out with more regular blogging in the coming weeks...

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

the money of politics in alberta.

Elections Alberta has quietly launched the new online electoral finance website.

Though the website only contains political financial contribution records dating back to 2004, it is quite an interesting read and it will save you from having to go down to the Elections Alberta office and sort through the paper copies...

Monday, January 15, 2007


I'd like to draw some quick attention to some new additions to the amazing blogroll to your right, they include the Enlightened Savage, The Prairie Wrangler, and thoughts interrupted, as well as Calgary Mountain View MLA David Swann's new blog.

Also, I'm working on some exciting template changes that are going to blow your mind!

As well, last week I attended a luncheon for Federal Liberal leader Stephane Dion at the University of Alberta's Campus St. Jean. The room was packed to the brims, Dion's speech was good, and I was impressed with his self-deprecating humour. It's always nice to see politicians who don't take themselves too seriously.

I'll be looking to see how serious Federal NDP leader Jack Layton takes himself when he jets through Edmonton later this week.

Friday, January 12, 2007

by-election nation!

It looks like there will be two and potentially three by-elections facing Albertans across Alberta in the next couple months.

On Monday, former Premier Ralph Klein has said he will resign as the MLA for Calgary Elbow (a riding he has represented since 1989). And yesterday, former Minister of Finance Shirley McClellan declared that she will resign as MLA for Drumheller-Stettler (McClellan has served as MLA since 1987 in it's previous recarnations of Chinook and Drumheller-Chinook).

McClellan's announcement comes as no surprise as she had previously declared that she would not seek re-election in the next General Election.

The surprise of the day came yesterday when it was reported that Edmonton Castle Downs PC MLA Thomas Lukaszuk may step down as MLA and run for the Conservative Party of Canada nomination in Edmonton-St. Albert. Lukaszuk would be running against former Tory MP Scott Thorkelson and former Edmonton Calder MLA Brent Rathgeber in the race to replace retiring MP John Williams.

Lukaszuk was "re-elected" in 2004 by a court-decided margin of 3 votes against Liberal Chris Kibermanis.

Three potential by-elections would provide quite the mini-election and quite the thermometer in gauging the political feelings of Albertans since Tory Premier Ed Stelmach took the throne in December.

This should be exciting!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

stelmach backs off exclusive fundraiser.

That was fast.

Within a matter of hours, Premier Ed Stelmach's PC Party both announced and cancelled an exclusive $5,000 a ticket fundraiser that would have allowed those with deep pockets to buy exclusive access to Stelmach and his top Ministers. This obviously clashes with Stelmach's finely-tuned image as a down-to-earth farmer from the Village of Andrew. Something makes me think that Stelmach's constituents in Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville would be less than impressed with the idea of an $5,000 exclusive fundraiser...

The morning began with:

For $5,000, Albertans can have exclusive chat with Stelmach
Jason Fekete, CanWest News Service; Calgary Herald
Published: Thursday, January 11, 2007

CALGARY - Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach and two top ministers came under fire Wednesday after revelations that fundraising soirees will be held next week in Calgary and Edmonton allowing Albertans to buy ''exclusive'' access to them for a minimum $5,000.

Even Alberta's ethics commissioner said he's ''not so sure it's a good thing to do,'' but conceded there's little that can be done under current legislation.

In an effort to pay off leadership campaign debts, organizers for Stelmach, provincial Health Minister Dave Hancock, provincial Finance Minister Lyle Oberg and former MLA Mark Norris - all of whom sought to succeed former premier Ralph Klein - are holding a $500-a-ticket reception in Calgary on Jan. 18.

However, there's an opportunity to attend ''a smaller, more exclusive event'' with Stelmach and ministers prior to the reception ''for a minimum donation of $5,000,'' notes the invitation to shindig.

Cheques are payable to ''True Blue,'' which appears to be an entity formed to raise money for the four politicians, who teamed up on the second ballot of the Progressive Conservative leadership election to topple favourites Jim Dinning and Ted Morton. No tax receipts will be issued on the tickets.
and this afternoon ended with:
STELMACH CANCELS $5000 Receptions
EDMONTON — Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach has cancelled two receptions where people were offered exclusive access to the new premier and his ministers for a minimum $5,000 donation to help erase Tory leadership campaign debts.

The premier held a news conference to say he was on holidays last week in Mexico and wasn’t fully aware of the details of the fundraising events planned for next week in Edmonton and Calgary.

opposition parties shuffle their teams.

The Alberta Liberals shuffled their shadow cabinet this week. Big changes include Dave Taylor's move from Advanced Education to Municipal Affairs & Housing, Mo Elsalhy's move to Justice & Attorney General, and Bruce Miller's move to Employment, Immigration & Industry.

Kevin Taft (Edmonton Riverview) - Leader
Dave Taylor (Calgary Currie) - Deputy Leader, Municipal Affairs & Housing
Laurie Blakeman (Edmonton Centre) House Leader, Health and Wellness,
Rick Miller (Edmonton Rutherford) - Treasury Board, Service Alberta and Finance, Caucus Whip
Mo Elsalhy (Edmonton McClung) - Deputy House Leader, Justice & Attorney General, Solicitor General
Bruce Miller (Edmonton Glenora) - Employment, Immigration & Industry, Deputy Whip
Weslyn Mather (Edmonton Mill Woods) - Children’s Services
David Swann (Calgary Mountain View) - Environment
Hugh MacDonald (Edmonton Gold Bar) - Energy, and Agriculture & Food
Bridget Pastoor (Lethbridge East) - Seniors and Community Supports
Bharat Agnihotri (Edmonton Ellerslie) - Tourism, Parks, Recreation & Culture
Bill Bonko (Edmonton Decore) - Sustainable Resource Development and International, Intergovernmental & Aboriginal Relations
Maurice Tougas (Edmonton Meadowlark) - Advanced Education & Technology, and Chair of the Edmonton Caucus
Harry Chase (Calgary Varsity) - Infrastructure & Transportation
Jack Flaherty (St. Albert) - Education
The NDP shuffled their caucus critics before Christmas:
Brian Mason (Edmonton Highlands-Norwood) – Leader, Treasury Board and Service Alberta, Energy, Finance and Municipal Affairs and Housing.
Ray Martin (Edmonton Beverly-Clareview) - Employment, Immigration and Industry, Health and Wellness, Infrastructure and Transportation and International, Intergovernmental and Aboriginal Relations critic areas.
David Eggen (Edmonton Calder) - Education, Agriculture and Food, Environment, Sustainable Resource Development and Tourism, Parks, Recreation and Culture.
Raj Pannu (Edmonton Strathcona) - Advanced Education and Technology, Justice and Attorney General, Children's Services and Seniors and Community Supports.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

worst blizzard in 18 years... what I heard. I'm going to take some pictures today...

Up to 10 cm of snow forecast today
Valleyview-area woman dies of exposure in late-night walk for help after car slides off remote road
Joel Kom, The Edmonton Journal
Published: Wednesday, January 10, 2007

EDMONTON - Icy roads have already claimed one life this week as much of the province braces for blizzards that could see whiteouts kick up on area highways.

Forecasters expected blizzards to be underway by this morning in Edmonton and northern parts of the province, with winds wind gusting up to 60 kilometres an hour or more.

Environment Canada said the snowfall would extend from the Grande Prairie and southern Peace regions all the way to Lloydminster, with five to 10 centimetres of new snow likely in most areas.

Friday, January 05, 2007

isn't it nice to have a government credit card?

I have a pretty good idea what would happen to me if I spent $29,000 in on a personal trip to Las Vegas on my work credit card...

Alberta's Finance Department has confirmed an aide to a former MLA has paid back $29,000 in personal expenses he charged to a government credit card, including a Las Vegas hotel bill and luggage.

Sasha Angus worked at the legislature for 3½ years as an executive assistant to former MLA and economic development minister Mark Norris.

According to a 2004 memo leaked to CBC News, when Angus left government he owed $29,000 in personal expenses he had charged to his government credit card. The memo was addressed to then Finance Minister Shirley McClellan.
And it gets even more scandalously mysterious...
CBC News has asked to see the credit card records and correspondence related to the case, but the province refused.

Alberta's Privacy Commission investigated the government's refusal and has sided with CBC News.

"All of the records should be released in the … public interest of promoting government being open and transparent in its dealing with tax dollars," said Privacy Commission spokesman Wayne Wood.

However, the Alberta government continues to block the release and has appealed the commission's stand.

The office of Alberta's auditor general also wants to see the records and wants to know why it wasn't informed about the problem.
And from the Chair of Alberta's Public Accounts Committee...
“This is an ideal opportunity for Mr Stelmach to keep his promise of transparency and release all government expenses,” said [Edmonton Gold Bar Liberal MLA] Hugh MacDonald, who is chair of the Public Accounts Committee. “The fact that the government refused to release the aide’s expense records to CBC throws their claim of openness and transparency right out the window.”

“It’s obvious this government is not learning from their mistakes – this is yet another example of lavish Tory spending,” added MacDonald. “What kind of control have we got on our spending? None!"
Other than this being a ridiculously outragous and irresponsible use of a public credit card, it got nearly no media attention. Had an Executive Assistant to a Minister in Ottawa benn caught spending $29,000 in Las Vegas, you can bet it would be all over the Alberta media...

Thursday, January 04, 2007

canadian shuffle.

Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper's first major cabinet shuffle since winning a minority government last January.

Though Prime Minister Harper denied that this move was in preparation for a Spring election, it's a little hard to believe that an election isn't on the minds of everyone in political Ottawa at the moment. It should be interesting to see how this new cabinet configuration shapes up against Liberal leader Stephane Dion's new front bench critics.

Cabinet changes included...

Rona Ambrose from Environment Minister to Intergovernmental Affairs.
John Baird: from president of the Treasury Board to Environment Minister.
Rob Nicholson: from House leader to Justice Minister and Attorney General.
Vic Toews: from Justice Minister to president of the Treasury Board.
Monte Solberg: from Immigration to Human Resources and Social Development.
Peter Van Loan: from Intergovernmental Affairs and Sport to Government House Leader and Democratic Reform minister.
Diane Finley: from Human Resources to Citizenship and Immigration.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

reforming canada's senate...

A number of things have been going on over my brief sejourn from the blogging world.

Senate Reform... Prime Minister Harper has put forward a Bill C-43: The Senate Appointments Consultations Act, Senate reform package which would allow Senators to be elected through preferential elections.

I don't oppose Senate reform, but I do have unanswered questions about some of the outcomes, mostly because I don't think many Canadians have thought about "what are the political concequences of having an elected Senate?"

I agree that the appointed Senate which Canadians currently have is an antiquated and archane method of chosing an Upper House, but it's more the consiquances of an elected Senate that I'm interested in. Reforming the Senate could completely redefine Canadian politics and has the potential to remove power from the House of Commons. Not to mention that I'm not sure the Senate as a House of Parliament will be any more effective if it became elected (*cough*a la House of Commons*cough*)

The eight year term which the Tories propose seems like a number drawn out of a hat, it's alot better than "for life" but still quite random. Will a Senator be allowed to run for re-election? Should Senators be elected through a province-wide elections or through large district elections? (Will Ontario elected 24 Senators from Toronto?)

I'm very interested to see how a move like this will effect the power of the provinces on a national scale, who will be the voice of the Provinces in Ottawa? As most proponants of Senate reform and Triple-E Senate reform would say, having an elected Senate would give the provinces a better voice in Ottawa. But would it? Would Senators displace Premiers as the voices of the Provinces in Ottawa? Would Senators be federal politicians representing their province in Ottawa or provincial politicians representing their Provincial government in Ottawa? I'm sure there are some Premiers who may not like one of the results...

Also, would political parties collect public funding from the votes their recieve from Senate elections similar to what they recieve in House of Commons elections? $1.75 per vote?

If anyone would care to take a stab at answering or if you have any other questions, pop them in the comment box...

shakin' up the alberta scene.

This great editorial from today's Calgary Herald touches on some of the same points surrounding the myths of Alberta's "new political forces" that I've talked about for some time now...

Shake up party from inside out
Brent Johner, For The Calgary Herald
Published: Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Alberta's new premier may be know affectionately as Steady Eddie in small town coffee shops, but his cabinet selections -- chosen more for their loyalty than for their brilliance -- are seen by many here in Calgary as the Special Eds.

And despite this city's willingness to give the new guy a chance, many find it hard to believe that a white, middle-aged, male and mostly rural group of conservative cabinet ministers will ever feel comfortable with urban Alberta's growth-and-change agenda.

So what's to be done?

What are the alternatives should Steady Eddie and the Special Eds turn out to be Harry Strom and the Socreds reincarnated?

At least one Calgary columnist is predicting the imminent collapse of the Alberta PCs and is calling on Ted Morton and Jim Dinning to flee with their supporters to the Alberta Alliance Party -- Alberta's newest protest party.

He's not alone. Jeffrey Simpson of the Globe and Mail is also wondering aloud if it isn't time for a new political alignment in Alberta.

Like many pundits, Simpson disdains the current opposition and looks to the formation of a new party in the event that Steady Eddie proves "too steady," boring and old-fashioned for Albertans focused on a growth-and-change agenda.

"The name 'Liberal' is just too toxic in Alberta," writes Simpson. "The desire for political change in Alberta runs not through an established political alternative but some new political force."

He's wrong, of course. But he can be forgiven for being so. Many people, professional historians included, have looked at Alberta's history and have come to exactly the same utterly incorrect conclusion.

The brilliant success of two protest parties -- the United Farmers of Alberta (1921-1935) and the Social Credit Party (1935-1971) -- blinds people to the fact that more than 20 other "new" parties have failed to gain any traction whatsoever in Alberta.

In fact, only a tiny fraction of Alberta's "new" parties have been able to elect any members to the provincial assembly and with the exception of the two just mentioned, none were able to garner enough support to form a government.

It is nearly three generations now since a new political party in Alberta has gained sufficient momentum to seize the reins of government.

Witness the spectacular lack of success now enjoyed by new parties such as the Alberta Alliance and the Alberta Greens.

A single MLA between them doesn't give much credence to the arguments put forth by new party proponents.

Even the federal Reform Party (what a monumental waste of time and energy that proved to be) has now slipped below Alberta's political horizon after failing to achieve anything more than forming the Official Opposition for a few brief years.

So much for the Manning model. So much for Simpson's "new political forces."

A much better idea, if history is to be accepted as our best instructor on this subject, is to take an existing party and remake it. That's what Peter Lougheed did. Or at least, that is what Lougheed is often credited with accomplishing.

In 1965, Lougheed inherited a failed party and a "toxic" brand. Two years later, his Progressive Conservatives formed the Official Opposition. Four years after that, they formed the government.

How did Lougheed do it? He didn't. At least, not really.

Albertans did it. Specifically, voters in Edmonton and Calgary who had been voting for Social Credit candidates for decades, brought about the government's sudden collapse.

In 1971, they decided that the Socreds were too steady, boring and old-fashioned. They looked at the dim lights and rural faces perched on the cabinet benches and decided that enough was enough.

After 36 years of one-party rule, the time had come to make a change.

So they switched to a different party -- not a new party, but an established party.

It was an enormously practical decision. Not a minute was wasted trying the reinvent the wheel.

Change came in an instant. Without warning, Albertans put a new government formed from an old party on track toward a growth-and-change agenda valued by a new generation of urban voters.

And in doing so, they permanently changed the political landscape.

Monday, January 01, 2007

a new year resolution for 2007.

Happy New Year!

In an upcoming year sure to be filled to the brim with tough political decisions (a potential Spring 2007 Federal Election, a set October 2007 Alberta Municipal Election, and a potential 2007 Provincial Election) I challenge all Canadians to be extra vigilant and use your political citizenship to its fullest.

I challenge all Canadians to buck the trend of lower political participation and to look at democracy broader than simply voting in elections. Participation in democracy is a much broader and important act than simply showing up to vote every four years (or one or two in recent years). I challenge all Canadians to live up to their citizenship and participate in our civil society.

Be an advocate.

Read and learn more about the issues facing your community, your province, your county, and your world. Use the time in between elections to learn more about and develop your opinions on issues.

Challenge the status quo. Challenge assumptions. Ask questions!

Challenge your elected representatives to do better.

Engage your friends, family, coworkers, neighbors, and classmates in discussion. Talk.

Write a letter to your School Trustee, Mayor, City Councillor, MLA, MP. Write a letter to the editor. Start a petition. Start a blog.

Join or start a community group, a discussion group, a book club, a philosopher’s café. Volunteer.

Get passionate! Get loud! Get engaged! Encourage others to get engaged!

Don’t take your Canadian citizenship for granted. Participate in your democracy to your fullest. Challenge others to participate to their fullest!

Be a leader!