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Thursday, November 29, 2007

ed stelmach invokes closure on bill 46.

As part of his government's priority of Accountability and Transparency for Building Tomorrow's Secure Alberta Future, Ed Stelmach has taken a hold of the reigns of democracy by invoking closure on the debate of controversial Bill 46. Official Opposition MLAs were only given four hours to debate the Bill before Stelmach shut down debate on the Bill.

Alberta Liberal MLA Laurie Blakeman:

“The Conservatives aren’t even allowing their own members to speak to it,” Blakeman says. “If you think electing a Conservative MLA will put you on the inside of government, you’re wrong. They’re shutting down their people.”

This is the first time the Stelmach government has used closure. The Klein government used closure 38 times in 14 years but it seldom used closure on more than one stage of a bill.

“Stelmach is Klein on steroids,” Blakeman says. “He’s hyper-Klein.”

The Tories introduced amendments to the Bill this week, but a group of central Alberta landowners (including Lacombe-Ponoka Green candidate Joe Anglin) responded with:
In Bill 46, including the new amendments tabled today, if a person is directly and adversely affected by a proposed project the new commission can still make any decision or issue any order without giving notice or holding a hearing if the commission is satisfied the applicant followed the rules respecting each owner of land. No one knows what the rules are in respect to each owner of land and the rules have not been made or defined. What’s troubling is, Bill 46 allows the commission to make rules and regulations that supersede legislation. In essence the new Commission will be able to make rules to circumvent legislation.

Furthermore, the public can have no confidence in Bill 46 if section 24(1) remains. Section 24(1) allows the Commission to make any decision or issue any order without giving notice or holding a hearing if the commission considers the matter urgent or for any other sufficient reason. Simply stated citizens have no right to notice or to a hearing in Bill 46. Finally, in Sec 9(4) the Commission does not have to afford an opportunity to a person to be represented by counsel.

roles and mandates.

Completely under the radar, Alberta's Department of Advanced Education and Technology released its Roles and Mandates framework document yesterday.

In the early months of 2007, in my role as Chair of the Council of Alberta University Students, I was part of the original consultations for this framework. Though I'm not that they were really 'consultations,' as no one seemed very clear as to what 'Roles and Responsibilities' (as it was then known) was supposed to accomplish, only that the Minister wanted to define them.

At the time, the new framework looked suspiciously like a makework/legacy building framework project from new-Minister Doug Horner (Roles and Mandates followed a string of Advanced Education frameworks, including from Dave Hancock's A Learning Alberta and short-term-disaster of a Minster Denis Herard's *weak* Affordability Framework).

As unsexy as 'Roles and Mandates' sounds (and probably is), I've been a little disappointed at how low under the radar the entire process has flown. If the framework is as important as CAUS' latest media release gushes, it's too bad that groups like CAUS and Public Interest Alberta's PSE Taskforce weren't more aggressive in bringing this to the media and Albertans attention (especially with a provincial election around the corner).

the daily craig chandler.

Here is your daily update on Calgary-Egmont's nominated Progressive Conservative candidate:

Globe & Mail: The Chandler Problem
FFWD: Former radio host a "huge liability"

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

gary mar, a golden parachute, and more.

A bit of a look around...

- Gary Mar has strapped on his golden parachute and is on his way to a +$230,000 taxpayer funded gig in Washington DC.

- Ed Stelmach doesn't want to meet with Calgary-Egmont nominated Progressive Conservative candidate Craig Chandler. Stelmach and his inner circle will meet on December 1st to decide whether PC members in Calgary-Egmont made a better decision than a small group of Conservative lawyers.

Concerned Christians Canada are calling it a witch hunt, but I tend to agree with Don Braid:

All this happened because local Conservatives, demoralized after Jim Dinning's leadership defeat, didn't have the will to fight off Chandler even though they saw him coming months ago.
- A number of candidate nominations happened yesterday. For the Alberta Liberals, Greg Flanagan was nominated in Calgary-Bow and Tony Vonesh in Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills. The Tories nominated Lindsay Blackett in Calgary-North West.

- Alberta's Bill 46 battle continues, pitting rural landowners versus the Stelmach Tories.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

more alberta nominations.

A whole load of candidates have been nominated in the past week. In Calgary, three Alberta Liberal candidates were nominated last night Laura Shutiak in Calgary-Fish Creek, Lori Czerwinski in Calgary-Lougheed, and John Roggeveen in Calgary-Shaw.

The saga of Craig Chandler and his victory in the Calgary-Egmont Progressive Conservative nomination continues as the constituency President is now demanding a seat at the table when Ed Stelmach and the PC Inner Circle meet to decide Chandler's fate this weekend.

In Edmonton...

Edmonton-Ellerslie - Naresh Bhardwaj was nominated as the PC candidate to take on Alberta Liberal MLA Bharat Agnihotri in the next election. Bhardwaj ran for the nominated against 1993 Edmonton-Ellerslie PC candidate Bas Roopnarine and 2001 PC candidate Sukhi Randhawa (of 'Booze for Votes' fame). In 2004, Edmonton-Ellerslie was a three-way race between Agnihotri, Tory Gurnam Dodd, and ND Marilyn Assheton-Smith.

Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood - Former Liberal/Independent/PC MLA Andrew Beniuk defeated T.J. Keil for the Tory nod. Though I was rooting for T.J. (yes, I was rooting for a Tory), I think Beniuk's name recognition might help him do decently against ND leader Brian Mason in the now merged constituency that Beniuk formerly represented.

Edmonton-Meadowlark - The Alberta Liberals have nominated Debbie Cavaliere to run for the spot of retiring MLA Maurice Tougas. Cavaliere will take on PC candidate Raj Sherman in what is sure to be a hot and probably close race. In 2004, Maurice Tougas surprised many when he defeated backbench Tory MLA Bob Maskell by a slim margin of +100 votes. Edmonton-Meadowlark was also a close race in 2001 when Maskell unseated Alberta Liberal MLA Karen Leibovici.

Edmonton-Mill Woods - The Tories have nominated Carl Benito to run against Alberta Liberal MLA Weslyn Mather. Benito ran unsuccessfully against MLA Don Massey in Edmonton-Mill Woods in 2001. Mather was elected in 2004 with a margin of +2,000 votes over Naresh Bhardwaj (who is now the nominated PC candidate in Edmonton-Ellerslie).

Other recent nominations include Robin Campbell for the Tories in West Yellowhead and Horst Schreiber for the Alberta Liberals in Battle River-Wainwright.

Click here for an up to date list of Alberta provincial election candidates.

Monday, November 26, 2007

stopping bill 46.

This ended up in my email inbox this evening...

What: A Rally of citizens concerned about the negative effects of the Government's proposed Bill 46 on peoples rights to participate in energy and utilities regulatory proceedings.

When: Tuesday, November 27, 2007 at 12:00 Noon sharp
Where: Alberta Legislature Building
10800 - 97 Ave.
Edmonton, AB

Why: Bill 46 is about to be passed into law by the Conservative Government even though it will have very dramatic negative effects on the ability of the citizens of Alberta to effectively intervene into proposed energy and utility projects that will directly affect them, their lands or the environment. There has been widespread opposition to the Bill and now is the time to show Premier Stelmach that Albertans do not want Bill 46 to be passed into law.

Who: Concerned citizens, landowners, environmentalists and social justice activists – everyone interested in fair and transparent government.

Contacts: Southern Alberta: Mike Judd, 403-627-2949
Central and Northern Alberta: Joe Anglin, 403-843-3279

trustees everywhere...

With parties nominating their candidates left, right, and centre, there are a noticeable number of former school board trustees being nominated.

Two former school board chairs have been nominated in Calgary. In Calgary-Egmont, former Calgary Catholic School District Chair Cathie Williams will be taking on Tory star candidate Craig Chandler. In Calgary-Mackay, former Calgary Board of Education chair Teresa Woo-Paw is the Tory candidate taking a run for Gary Mar’s soon to be vacated seat as Mar leaves on a taxpayer funded jet plane for the posh life in Washington DC. Another former CBE Trustee, Carole Oliver, is the Alberta Liberal candidate in Calgary-Fort. Calgary-North Hill PC candidate Kyle Fawcett is also a former CBE Trustee.

In Medicine Hat, former trustee Karen Charlton is running for the Alberta Liberals.

In Edmonton, former Catholic School Trustee Janice Sarich will carry the Tory flag against current MLA and former Public School Board Trustee Bill Bonko in Edmonton-Decore. In Edmonton-Whitemud, former Trustee Nancy Cavanaugh is mounting a campaign against Tory Health Minister Dave Hancock as the Alberta Liberal candidate. And last week in Edmonton-Meadowlark, former Catholic School District chair Debbie Cavaliere was nominated as the Alberta Liberal candidate. And according to his official candidate bio, Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview ND MLA Ray Martin is still the Edmonton Public School Board trustee for Ward D!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

a look around.

- I went to the latest Young Rutherford coffee night yesterday and enjoyed some great conversation about municipal affairs in Edmonton with Edmonton-Rutherford MLA Rick Miller and Ward 5 City Councillor Don Iveson.

- Mary Christa O'Keefe has written a great article on former Edmonton City Councillor Michael Phair in this week's VUE Weekly.

- I'm excited to see underdog T.J. Keil take on former MLA Andrew Beniuk in the the Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood PC nomination.

Andrew Beniuk has a mixed political past as he was originally elected in 1993 as an Alberta Liberal in Edmonton-Norwood (defeating then-New Democrat Leader Ray Martin). Beniuk then sat as an Independent MLA in 1995 before joining fellow social conservative Liberal MLAs Julius Yankowski and Paul Langevin in joining Ralph Klein's PC caucus in 1996.

Beniuk ran for re-election in 1997 but was defeated by Alberta Liberal Sue Olsen (Beniuk actually placed third in Edmonton-Norwood, behind Olsen and New Democrat candidate and former City Councillor Sherri McKibben). In 2001, Beniuk was also defeated in his attempt to unseat Alberta Liberal MLA Bill Bonner in Edmonton-Glengarry (now Edmonton-Decore).

is ed stelmach waffling on craig chandler?

The ongoing saga of newly nominated Calgary-Egmont Progressive Conservative candidate Craig Chandler continues as Ed Stelmach is now saying that he wants to meet with Chandler before allowing him to run for his party. This is a confusing about-turn by Stelmach, who refused to take action this August after Chandler declared that:

To those of you who have come to our great land from out of province, you need to remember that you came here to our home and we vote conservative. You came here to enjoy our economy, our natural beauty and more. This is our home and if you wish to live here, you must adapt to our rules and our voting patterns, or leave. Conservatism is our culture. Do not destroy what we have created.

You can watch Stelmach's original reaction to Chandler's comment in the video below:

And this is only the beginning in the long list of tasteless comments and declarations from Craig Chandler - just take a browse through Chandler's online homes - podcasts of the Freedom Radio Network and a webboard called Project Alberta. Yes, Chandler is a grown man who posts on a webboard.

If Stelmach is really going to refuse Chandler's candidacy, it would have made a lot more sense to have done so before Chandler overwhelmingly defeated Jonathan Denis and Rick Smith in last week's nomination in Calgary-Egmont. I'm not sure what is different about Chandler now (but I guess that's what you get when you have someone like Tom Olsen running your media machine...)

For more on the Chandler saga, see Calgary Grit's extensive post.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

edmonton city council transit challenge.

A couple of weeks ago, I became involved with the Transit Riders' Union of Edmonton. TRUE is a committee of Edmonton Transit Service riders who are currently researching and developing strategies to improve the quality of public transit in Edmonton.

Yesterday, TRUE issued a challenge to Edmonton's City Council to rely exclusively on transit for the week of November 19-25. Ward 5 Councillor Don Iveson, Ward 4 Councillor Ben Henderson, and Ward 6 Councillors Amarjeet Sohi and Dave Thiele have all accepted the challenge and will join hundreds of thousands of Edmontonians on the bus this week.

By accepting the challenge, it says a lot about these four City Councillors and their commitment to improving public transit, something that is essential in creating an efficient and manageable city as Edmonton grows.

You can read coverage of the media challenge here, here, here, and in Russian here.

Here are some pictures that I took at the media conference on the steps of Edmonton City Hall.

City Councillors Ben Henderson, Dave Thiele, and Don Iveson.

Ward 5 City Councillor Don Iveson.

Ward 6 City Councillor Amarjeet Sohi

chuck norris approved.

I thought this was fun... thanks to A for the link.


Since I first began blogging in January 2005, all sorts of interesting reactions have found their way into my email inbox. For the most part, the feedback is good (so keep on sending it). Many people disagree with me, which is fine, but the yusually remain civil about it. Even when the negative and mean-spirited stuff makes it into my email inbox I usually ignore it.

But last night I feel that someone out there crossed a line, and now I will share it with the world.

After going through the trouble of finding my facebook profile (which I feel might be somewhere on the other side of the line), this person sent me what can only be described as a less than coherent message. The message was from Mr. Brad Janzer, who, according to his facebook profile is a single male conservative Christian from Medicine Hat interested in women.

Here is Brad's contribution to Alberta's great political debate that found its way into my facebook inbox last night:

you guys are a bunch of whiny babies, get a real job and pay some taxes instead of just whining about not gettin your fair share of what other albertans have worked so hard for.
get a life you fuking loser
Putting the spirit of the message aside, I really worry about the state of political debate in Alberta when a person can't even spell the *f* word right...

Saturday, November 17, 2007

live from the edmontonians for craig chandler party!

It's 9:01 pm on Saturday November 17 and I'm blogging live from the rockin' "Edmontonians for Craig Chandler" party in Edmonton.

It's a raucous night as Craig Chandler supporters from across northern Alberta have gathered for a night of Ayn Rand-flavoured debauchery and debate! The Ezra Levant Go-Go Girls are here in force and are handing out left-over copies of the Western Standard.

The pasty-skinned young Chandleristas in the room are chanting "adapt or leave! adapt or leave!" to the cheers of the crowd!

It's rockin' and everyone in the room is anxiously awaiting the news of Craig Chandler's landslide victory in the Calgary-Egmont Progressive Conservative nomination!

9:14 pm - It looks like Craig Chandler's vision for Alberta and its voters has spawned support across Canada! Afar in the blogosphere, it looks like Derek is the new President of the newly-formed "Torontonians for Craig Chandler" chapter. I've heard that the TFCC is already planning a Craig Chandler victory parade on Church and Wellesley tomorrow morning!

9:24 pm - The crowd is on tenterhooks as Craig Chandler supporters gather around the radio waiting to hear if the next PC candidate for Calgary-Egmont has finally been nominated. If anyone has heard how it went today in Egmont, the frighteningly large (and slightly threatening) crowd of Chandleristas would really like to know!

9:32 pm - I'm wondering how rockin' the Jonathan Denis and Rick Smith Edmonton parties are. Not as frighteningly rockin' as this one me thinks...

9:49 pm - Still no results. This is starting to get boring...

9:55 pm - Good lord, they've replaced the Pat Robertson techno-remixes with old podcasts from Chandler's Freedom Radio network...

10:06 pm - Still, no results... I wonder how the Calgarians for Craig Chandler party is going?

10:21 pm - The young Chandleristas are starting to get restless. It's past their bed time and want to hear results. I wonder when Paul Wells and Warren Kinsella are going to wade in with their coverage of the night? (Even The Shotgun is silent tonight...)

10:22 pm - I've just been informed through a media source in Calgary that Craig Chandler has been nominated as the Progressive Conservative candidate in Calgary-Egmont!

Copies of the Western Standard are being thrown in the air with glee by the young Chandleristas! I am frightened!

No news on the vote breakdown, but Craig Chandler has been nominated to carry Ed Stelmach's Progressive Conservative flag in Calgary-Egmont against Alberta Liberal candidate and former Calgary Catholic School District Chair Cathie Williams.

(commissioned art work by the artist formerly known as Holtopia)

Friday, November 16, 2007

unfunded resolution in alberta?

- After a bizarre year of seemingly picking fights with the Alberta Teachers' Association, it looks like there finally might be some resolution to the long-smoldering teachers unfunded pension liability issue.

Yesterday, the Tories announced that they will be investing $6.4 billion to deal with the issue. I haven't any details of the deal, but this is a long-standing issue that has been on the mind of a lot of Albertans for a long time. Hopefully this issue will be resolved so that the government can now deal with the other critical issues facing Alberta's education system.

- I attended session in the Alberta Legislature yesterday afternoon and have two main observations...

1) It was a little rich of Ed Stelmach to praise Stephen Harper's electoral redistribution that gives Alberta five more seats in the House of Commons while at the same time 2/3's of Alberta's population is represented by under half of the seats in the Alberta Legislature.

I also noticed that Drayton Valley-Calmar Tory MLA Tony Abbott boisterously cheered the disparity when Alberta Liberal Leader Kevin Taft pointed out urban Alberta's underrepresentation in his response to Stelmach.

2) The bizarre contradictions that Ed Stelmach and disgraced Energy Minister Mel Knight continue to make regarding Auditor General Fred Dunn's allegations that the Tory Government failed to collect up to $6 Billion in royalties over the past 7 years due to mismanagement and gross incompetence.

In Question Period yesterday, it was pointed out that on November 7, Ed Stelmach told The Canadian Press that as a Minister in Ralph Klein's cabinet, he was never made aware that reports from the Department of Energy recommended that Alberta’s royalties be increased.

Here is where the contradictions begin...

Stelmach to CP: “In the time that I was around the Cabinet table…there was nothing coming to me...”

Mel Knight in the Legislature: Knight said he couldn’t release internal documents itemized by the Auditor General in his review of royalty rates because of “legislative protection with respect to some information that’s provided to the Cabinet."

How can a document both not exist and be secret at the same time?

I think Stelmach may need to get someone other than Tom Olsen to write his talking points.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

big calgary nominations on the horizon.

Following Ed Stelmach's selection as leader of the 36-year old Progressive Conservative Government in December 2006, the political landscape in urban Alberta - including Calgary - has become more competitive than it has been in years. This became clear in June 2007 after Alberta Liberal MLA Craig Cheffins was elected in Ralph Klein's former seat of Calgary-Elbow. Since then, we now see both major parties attracting and nominating some pretty impressive candidates in Calgary in their work to earn Calgarians votes.

Here are four Calgary constituencies 'to watch' with nomination races coming up...

Calgary-Currie - PGIB national president and recent Calgary Aldermanic candidate Steve Chapman is going up against former NBC report Arthur Kent for the Tory nomination in this constituency. The nominated Tory candidate will take on well-known former QR77 radio host and Alberta Liberal Deputy Leader and MLA Dave Taylor. In 2004, Dave Taylor upset former Alderman and incumbent Tory MLA Jon Lord by over 400 votes.

Calgary-Egmont - Former Calgary Catholic School Board Chair and Trustee Cathie Williams will be nominated tonight as the Alberta Liberal candidate. For the Tories PGIB Executive Director Craig Chandler, Rick Smith, and Jonathan Denis will duke it out for the nomination on November 17. My money is on Craig Chandler for the Tory nomination.

Calgary-Foothills - Michael Robinson, President and CEO of the Glenbow Museum, will be nominated tonight as the Alberta Liberal candidate. Robinson studied anthropology and law at Oxford and the University of British Columbia, and was appointed to the Order of Canada in 2005. Robinson will take on one-term Tory MLA Len Webber.

Calgary-North Hill - Former Calgary Board of Education Trustee Kyle Fawcett will go up against Paul Jackson-endorsed businessman Andrew Constantinidis. The nominated Tory candidate will take on already nominated Alberta Liberal candidate Pat Murray.

Other constituencies to keep an eye on in Calgary: Calgary-Bow, Calgary-Buffalo, Calgary-Elbow, Calgary-Fort, Calgary-Glenmore, Calgary-McCall, Calgary-Mackay, Calgary-Montrose, Calgary-Mountain View, and Calgary-Varsity.

alberta politics gets personal (and bizarre).

This past week in the Alberta Legislature has been witness to some bizarre acts.

Graham Thomson takes a good look at Ed Stelmach's bizarre attack tactics on Alberta Liberal Leader Kevin Taft earlier this week. In an uncharacteristic attack on Taft, Stelmach abandoned his "nice guy" image by deliberately misquoting a quote of Taft's from a news article on the royalties issue. This whole story seems to have less to do with Stelmach or Taft, and more to do with a lack of respect for journalists and their work. I'm still amazed that Stelmach and Tom Olsen thought they would get away with trying to pull an act like this.

My friends from the Conservative Party of Canada will surely appreciate Stelmach's second attack. Stelmach seems to have taken a page from the Jean Chretien/Paul Martin handbook by accusing the Alberta Liberals have having a hidden agenda... sigh... here is 'Honest Ed's' response to a question from Kevin Taft on accountability in the Tory Government's Annual Business Plans:

What the Liberals would like is to hoard this money, just bring it in and then dish it out to Albertans piece by piece, through his fingers, by having Albertans come on their knees, stand before him, and say, “ Oh, please, give me some of that money back,” that should go to all Albertans. That’s what the Liberal government is all about. It’s not going to happen in this province because I don’t stand for that kind of behaviour.
I think Craig Chandler will fit in just fine.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

alberta provincial candidates update.

I have updated the list of Alberta's provincially nominated candidates for the next provincial election (most likely now in Spring 2008).

On that note, there's one current Tory MLA looking for a new constituency to call home.

parkland conference.

Next weekend, the Parkland Institute will be hosting a conference on sustainable communities titled "FROM CRISIS TO HOPE: BUILDING JUST AND SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES." Guest speakers will include Patrick Bond, Paul Gunter, and Dr. Beverly Sandalack among others.

I'm not going to be able to make it to the entire conference, but I'm looking forward to making it out to Dr. Sandalack's Sunday session on 'Designing Cities: Permanence and the Public Realm.'

Monday, November 12, 2007

let's talk legislation.

Following up from the Spring Session of the Alberta Legislature and last week's beginning of the Fall Session, here are some of the pieces of legislation up for debate (some have carried over from the Spring Session).

Bill 1 — Lobbyists Act (Stelmach)
Bill 2 — Conflicts of Interest Amendment Act, 2007 (Brown)
Bill 7 — Private Vocational Schools Amendment Act, 2007 (Webber)
Bill 8* — Vital Statistics Act (VanderBurg)
Bill 9 — Tourism Levy Amendment Act, 2007 ($) (Oberg)
Bill 11 — Telecommunications Act Repeal Act (Dunford)
Bill 13 — Access to the Future Amendment Act, 2007 (Rodney)
Bill 23 — Unclaimed Personal Property and Vested Property Act ($) (Oberg)
Bill 24 — Real Estate Amendment Act, 2007 (Rogers)
Bill 31 — Mental Health Amendment Act, 2007 (Abbott)
Bill 35 — Alberta Personal Income Tax Amendment Act, 2007 (Rogers)
Bill 36 — Alberta Corporate Tax Amendment Act, 2007 (Rogers)
Bill 38 — Government Organization Amendment Act, 2007 (DeLong)
Bill 40 — Personal Directives Amendment Act, 2007 (Ady)
Bill 41 — Health Professions Statutes Amendment Act, 2007 (Hancock)
Bill 42 — Insurance Amendment Act, 2007 (Rodney)
Bill 45 — Smoke-free Places (Tobacco Reduction) Amendment Act, 2007 (Hancock)
Bill 46 — Alberta Utilities Commission Act ($) (Knight)
Bill 204 — Emblems of Alberta (Franco-Albertan Recognition) Amendment Act, 2007 / Loi modificative de 2007 sur les emblèmes de l’Alberta (reconnaissance du fait franco-albertain) (Oberle)
Bill 205 — Environmental Protection and Enhancement (Conservation and Reclamation) Bill Bill 212 — Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods Act (Johnston)
Bill 213 — Regulatory Accountability and Transparency Act (Backs)
Bill 214 — Healthy Futures Act (Blakeman)
Bill 216 — Water Protection and Conservation Statutes Amendment Act, 2007 (Swann)
Bill 218 — Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy (Repeal of Ministerial Briefing Exemption) Amendment Act, 2007 (Agnihotri)
Bill 222 — Alberta Heritage Savings Trust Fund (Tobacco Investment Elimination) Amendment Act, 2007 (R. Miller)
Bill Pr1 — CyberPol - The Global Centre for Securing Cyberspace Act (Cenaiko)
Bill Pr2 — Crest Leadership Centre Act (Marz)

Saturday, November 10, 2007

michael ritter scandal documentary.

The real story of the Michael Ritter scandal will finally be told on in a TV documentary. A documentary team has put together a 1 hour episode on Ritter and will be airing November 28th.

The documentary team culled through all of the court documents, did their own independent research and invited everyone who was involved to participate. To no one's surprise Michael Ritter and his cronies turned down the opportunity.

Here is a preview and the schedule for the documentary. The episode will also be airing on the Women's Network in the USA and the Discovery Channel in the UK and internationally.

Here's the synopsis:

EPISODE 12: The Man Without a Conscience

When Paul Hoag and his wife Susan Edwards met businessman and philanthropist Michael Ritter they were impressed with his high-flying resume, and over the course of five years the three became firm friends. So when Ritter offered Paul the job as second-in-command at his new and apparently successful company across the country, he and Susan couldn’t say no to what seemed like a golden opportunity, despite the fact that it meant leaving their family behind.

Things seemed to be going well and Paul as well as Susan, who was now the office manager, enjoyed the work with their friend in his grand new venture. But after a time, Susan became concerned that one of Ritter’s business partners was scamming him and she and Paul began to collect evidence to convince Ritter that he was being duped. However the tables were turned when it became clear that Ritter was in fact not only heavily involved in fraudulent activities himself, but his resume turned out to be founded on lies.

Ritter was just a conman whose trusted employees blew the whistle on his pyramid scheme, but not before Ritter had bilked more than $200 million dollars from unsuspecting investors and turned his back on his closest friends, leading them into bankruptcy.

The high-flying entrepreneur who loved the limelight and adulation from the public was finally convicted on two counts of massive fraud and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

vote online.

Elections Alberta has moved into the 21st century - Albertans can now register to vote online!

Friday, November 09, 2007

week one hijinks under the dome.

Continuing from my post from earlier this week, here are some of my thoughts on the first week of the 2007 fall session of the Alberta Legislature...

1) There are three Dave's (Dave, Dave, and Dave) who should be allowed to speak more often.

2) To reiterate #1, Ed Stelmach should let Dave Hancock talk for him in Question Period. It would be far less painful for everyone.

3) Alberta Liberal Leader Kevin Taft and Ed Stelmach have had some entertaining spars in the first two days over failed Energy Minister Mel Knight and the $6 Billion dollars in resource royalties that the Tories failed to collect over the past number of years. With Auditor General Fred Dunn's findings backing Taft's position, I will again reiterate #1, Stelmach should let Hancock do the talking.

4) Ken Kowalski is embarrassed about Alberta's shortest election. I'm embarrassed for Ken Kowalski (in fact, I shed a tear).

5) The Alberta Liberal Caucus has finally hired a new Caucus Communications Director in the form of Larry Johnsrude, so I'd expect some interesting communication strategy and direction coming out of the Official Opposition (direction on the communications-front has been one of the Alberta Liberal Caucus' most noticeable weaknesses in recent sessions). Watch out, Public Affair Bureau.

6) It will be interesting to see how newcomers Craig Cheffins (Alberta Liberal MLA Calgary-Elbow) and Jack Hayden (PC MLA Drumheller-Stettler) adapt in their first session.

7) There is some big debate on Bill 46 and it is spilling out into what is supposed to be safe Tory territory. Check out CFSR for more...

8) At what point do you think the newly re-elected big city mayors Stephen Mandel and Dave Bronconnier start throwing their weight around?

9) When is Gary Mar resigning his Calgary-Mackay seat to take his patronage post in Washington DC? His name is still listed on the Assembly seating plan.

10) Brian Mason continued railing against the Alberta Liberals with the approval of the Stelmach Tories. The Tories are doing their best to support the New Democrats in the Legislature in hopes that any NDP gains in Edmonton will offset Alberta Liberal gains in Calgary, once again creating a winning situation for the 36-year ruling Tories.

I actually don't mind the other three New Democrat MLAs, but Brian Mason's strategy is one of the reasons why I'd have a hard time supporting his party (his mustache is the other reason).

11) Alberta Alliance MLA Paul Hinman... yeah... so... Paul Hinman... there's no real point in writing any more on this topic...

12) I'm still waiting for Drayton Valley-Calmar Tory MLA Reverend Tony Abbott to do something crazy.

In 2005, Abbott declared that Federal Tory/Liberal MP Belinda Stronach "whored herself out for power" and then proceeded to try to get into a fist-fight with Alberta Liberal MLA Rick Miller in the hall behind the Assembly.

Abbott recently lost his bid for the Tory nomination in his own constituency, so he really has nothing to lose (and has also been rumoured to be in talks with the Wild Rose Party).

13) Looking to the future, you have no idea how much I'm looking forward to a Harry Chase-Cal Dallas showdown in Question Period after the next election.


Wednesday, November 07, 2007

my cal dallas disappointment.

With a great name like Cal Dallas, you have no idea how much I was hoping the newly nominated Red Deer-South Tory candidate would look something like this:

So, imagine my disappointment when I discovered that Cal Dallas clearly does not look like a Simpson's character (he wasn't even wearing a ten gallon hat in his Red Deer Express file photo... sigh).

Dallas is standing to the left of Victor Doerksen (which is probably where most Albertans are standing).

stelmachian bureaucratics.

Our brilliantly articulate Tory Premier Ed Stelmach has pretty much cleared up any confusion as to what the problem is with Alberta's 36-year old Tory government.

[Alberta] Liberal Leader Kevin Taft also asked Stelmach to explain why his governments refused to raise royalties until this year, despite warnings from the Energy Department that they were missing their internal targets.

"We take advice, obviously, from others," Stelmach said.

"But at the end of the day in this government the decisions are made by government, not listening to advice that may come from bureaucracies."

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

alberta's legislature needs more dave.

I have a growing list of thoughts on the start of the fall session of the Alberta Legislature that I'll post tomorrow. But until then, here is my one first thought:

1) There are three Dave's (Dave, Dave, and Dave) who should be allowed to speak more often.

alberta oil sands survey.

I meant to post this earlier, but here we go anyway...

The Policy Channel and Cambridge Strategies are conducting an Alberta Oil Sands Survey. It asks some difficult and interesting questions, and is worth filling out.

And on that note, guess who showed up in Edmonton yesterday?

Monday, November 05, 2007

ladies and gentlemen...

... please welcome Mr. Steven Dollansky to the blogosphere.

Steven is my successor at the University of Alberta Students' Union and has recently started a new blog - Six Meeting Before Lunch.

It looks like Steven has started blogging by focusing on post-secondary education issues in Alberta. Though I may disagree with him on some PSE issues, you can expect some articulate insight from Steven's new blog.

You may remember Mr. Dollansky from his previous role in the famous Soundwave-Dollansky showdown of March 2007:

Six Meetings Before Lunch is also a pretty good episode of The West Wing.

let the fall session begin!

The fall session of the Alberta Legislature begins this afternoon and it should be interesting.

With rumours of a fall election potentially starting to fade and and the potential for a spring election looking more likely, look for the parties inside and outside of the Assembly to try to capitalize on this session.

Here are some things to look forward to:

1) Ed Stelmach's Tories will be putting forward 24 Bills forward for the fall session which includes an agressive agenda on smoking-bans and speeding tickets (no legislation on royalties will make it this fall). The most controversial will no doubt be Bill 46.
Critics fear that under the premise of making the EUB more efficient, Bill 46 breaks up the EUB into two separate entities, the ERCB and AUC. The Bill then:

1. Gives the Alberta Utilities Commission the power to make orders and issue decisions without giving public notice or holding public hearings (section 9(1));

2. Gives the Alberta Utilities Commission the power to prevent landowners and consumers from making verbal representations to the Commission (section 9(4));

3. Limits the time period in which Albertans can appeal a decision or order made by the Alberta Utilities Commission to 30 days (section 29(2)).

4. Restricts the ability of landowners to hire outside legal counsel when intervening in regulatory hearings (section 9(4));

5. Corrects past misdeeds and wrongdoings by making this law retroactive to June 1 2003. Section 98(2)
If Ed Stelmach is smart, he'll let Dave Hancock do all the talking.

As well as focusing in on Bill 46, Kevin Taft's Alberta Liberals will be putting forward a legislative agenda including a comprehensive housing strategy, labour-code reforms, and water protection.

They will also keep up the pressure on Ed Stelmach and Mel Knight so the issue of the billions of dollars of resource royalties the Tories failed to collect stays on the minds of Albertans (they've also put together a fancy map showing what those billions could have been used for).

The Alberta Liberal Caucus has also hired former Edmonton Journal reporter Larry Johnsrude as their new Caucus Communications Director.

3) Watch out for Drayton Valley-Calmar Tory MLA Tony Abbott. Abbott is a standard bearer for the right-wing in the Tory caucus and was defeated in his nomination for the next election. He could be unpredictable.

4) Watch for the Wild Rose Party to try to fill the void left by Paul Hinman's one-man Alberta Alliance caucus on the right flank. Don't count on it, but maybe we'll hear something from newly elected Social Credit leader Len Skowronski.

5) Look for the issue of the Stelmach Tories Public Affairs Bureau spending spree on a $145,000 infomercial and +$200,000 taxpayer funded partisan advertising campaign to make news through question period.

alberta resource royalty showdown.

Last Tuesday, I attended CBC Edmonton's open forum on the Resource Royalties issue in Alberta. It was an interested affair with probably around 300 people piled into the auditorium at the Royal Alberta Museum.

The forum panel included the articulate Diana Gibson of the Parkland Institute, Al Hyndman from Magnus Limited, Tory House Leader Dave Hancock, and Dave Yager from HSE Integrated.

Notables in attendance included Alberta Liberal MLAs Hugh MacDonald, Harry Chase, and Bruce Miller, former Edmonton-Strathcona Green candidate Cameron Wakefield, U of A School of Business Dean Mike Percy, Federal ND candidate Linda Duncan, and New Democrat Leader Brian Mason. I think I also noticed fellow-blogger Ken Chapman in the audience.

Though the forum was geared towards the resource royalty rates, much of the debate centered around findings of the Auditor General that has shown that the Tories failed to Billions of Dollars under the current royalty regime over the past number of years.

Also, the best quote of the night has to go to Dave Hancock with his understatement of a response to Diana Gibson: "government is not a stiletto."

CBC has a great web page filled with information and media clips on the resource royalty issue - be sure to check it out. You can listen to the forum online here.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

patrick turner for mayor!

I think I'm going to write a very nice thank you card to Mr. Turner for not allowing what is quite arguably one of the nicest blocks in Edmonton (which includes my favorite bistro) to be turned into generic condos towers...

Iconic eateries dodge wrecking ball
Owner sells High Level Diner, Sugarbowl to operators at half the assessed value

Todd Babiak, The Edmonton Journal

EDMONTON - There are few corners more resonant and soulful in Edmonton than 109th Street and 88th Avenue. The commercial buffer between the university and Old Strathcona includes a bike shop, a fitness company, a travel outlet and two of the city's finest spots to eat, drink and write the great Canadian novel -- the Sugarbowl and the High Level Diner.

Read the rest...

Thursday, November 01, 2007

edmonton city council sets priorities for next 3 years.

Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel has worked with the new City Councillors to determine special initiative portfolios for the next three years. Here are the portfolios:

Karen Leibovici
Affordable Housing – Housing First
Port Alberta
World’s Fair
Stony Plain Road Revitalization

Linda Sloan
Seniors Issues
Stony Plain Road Revitalization

Kim Krushell
Port Alberta
Youth Initiatives
Winter Festival

Ron Hayter
Aboriginal Issues
North Issues
River Valley

Ed Gibbons
Alberta Avenue
Provincial MLA Relationships
North Issues
Industrial Land Strategy

Tony Caterina
Alberta Avenue
Biotech Value-added
Industrial Land Strategy

Jane Batty
The Quarters
Capital Health/Post-Secondary Relationships
World’s Fair
Biotech Value-added
Chinatown Revitalization

Ben Henderson
Public Hearing Consultation Process
The Quarters
Winter City
Chinatown Revitalization

Bryan Anderson
Sports and Recreation
Working with Administration to expedite process and approval of sports and recreation facilities
River Valley

Don Iveson
Youth Initiatives

Dave Thiele
Mayor’s Task Force on Traffic Safety

Amarjeet Sohi
Safe Edmonton/Drug Strategy