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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

bob rae's guide to plagiarism.

Though I thought it was a little bizarre for Bob Rae to attack Stephen Harper over a speech that he delivered five years ago, I'm not convinced that it will actually accomplish much more for the Liberals than simply distracting the media from the Conservatives messaging for a single day.

It did, however, remind me of an article I recently read about the long-forgotten Joe Biden plagiarism fiasco of 1988. Maybe Sarah Palin will bring it up during Thursday night's Vice-Presidential debate?

edmonton-strathcona review: the candidates.

Here's a quick run down of the candidate's performances at last night's Edmonton-Strathcona all-candidates forum at the Myer Horowitz Theatre:

Rahim Jaffer, Conservative - Rahim Jaffer is a seasoned retail politician and handled himself well in the face of a fairly hostile audience. As a veteran politician having spent 11 years in Ottawa, this type of forum is clearly old hat for Jaffer.

Linda Duncan, NDP - She didn't steal the show, but Linda Duncan performed much better in last night's forum than she did in the 2006 forum at the same location. Duncan was disciplined with her reponses and was clearly on the NDP message as she took on Jaffer.

Jane Thrall, Green - Out of all the candidates, Jane Thrall impressed me the most. As a first-time candidate at her first forum, Thrall was well-spoken, succinct with her points, and was impressively clever when she wasn't sure what a Green Party policy on a specific issue was.

Claudette Roy, Liberal - Thanks for showing up. If Roy is a strong candidate, her performance at last night's forum sure didn't show it. After being nominated over a year ago, Roy
either wasn't able communicate with the audience or simply didn't have a grasp of what her party stood for. Next.

Kevan Hunter, Marxist-Leninist - If there was a Sarah Palin Award for Preparedness, it would be awarded to Kevan Hunter with distinction. At the beginning of each response, it seemed that he spent half of his allocated time trying to think of ways he could relate his responses to Marxist or Leninist theory, rather than actually answering the question.

albertans for the arts.

Albertans For The Arts - Inaugural Rally

Wednesday, October 1, 2008
6:00pm to 7 pm
Churchill Square
(Across the street from the Winspear Centre)

Facebook event

Monday, September 29, 2008

live from the edmonton-strathcona forum.

I'm sitting in a 300-400 person audience at the Edmonton-Strathcona all-candidates forum at the Myer Horowitz Theatre with Legendary Campaign Manager Chris Henderson.

It's been a generally low-key forum, but the most loaded question of the night came right off the bat as an audience member launched an abortion-taser combo question to Conservative incumbent Rahim Jaffer. In response, the best and most clever quote of the night goes to Green candidate Jane Thrall:

"I'm not sure what the Green policy is on tasers, but I can assure you that we won't use them on pregnant women."

edmonton-strathcona forum tonight.

The University of Alberta Students' Union-hosted Edmonton-Strathcona all-candidates forum 7:00 pm tonight at the Myer Horowitz Theatre is sure to be a good show.

Though there's been a sizable amount of media coverage about NDP candidate Linda Duncan's chances of knocking-off Conservative MP Rahim Jaffer, I think Duncan's chances rest more on Jack Layton's performance in Thursday night's leaders' debate than any of the local candidates debates.

As a frustrated and undecided Edmonton-Strathcona voter who can't stomach the overly negative Conservative and confusing Liberal campaigns, I've narrowed my options down to three ballot box choices on October 14:

a) Voting for Linda Duncan: There is no doubt that in 2008 Duncan is the only candidate with a shot at defeating Jaffer. Though it remains debatable how good her chances actually are.

b) Voting for Green candidate Jane Thrall: Nothing in this campaign has made me feel like any of the three main political parties have earned my vote, so the idea of supporting a non-traditional party is very appealing.

c) Spoiling my ballot: There's a strong possibility that Barack Obama could get my write-in vote.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

coup d'état in the alberta green party.

A dramatic power struggle has erupted in the Alberta Green Party between past-Lacombe-Ponoka candidate Joe Anglin and leader George Read.

From the Green Party website:

On September 27, 2008 in Morningside Alberta, a hostile and undemocratic takeover was attempted on the Green Party of Alberta. Those responsible proposed last-minute constitutional changes, a name change, and a total transfer of power to themselves.

Though I'm sure it's less dramatic than the media release makes it sound, I can't say that I'm surprised that a group like Anglin's would and could mount a take-over of the small party.

Anglin's 'agitate, agitate, agitate' style is much different than Read's low-key leadership. After leading a group of central Alberta landowners against the construction of new transmission lines, Anglin was the most successful Green candidate in the 2008 provincial election (garnering over 20% of the vote) and has supporters from across the political spectrum in his constituency. Though a power struggle may envelope the Greens in the meantime, Anglin might just be what the Greens need to get the interest and attention of voters in Alberta.

arts and environment in alberta.

- The Professional Arts Coalition of Edmonton will be hosting a discussion on Federal Arts Funding with Liberal MP Bob Rae and Senator Tommy Banks on Saturday, October 4 from 4:30 to 6:30 pm at the Old Strathcona Performing Arts Centre (8426 Gateway Blvd).

- Edmonton Chante started this weekend and will run until October 4.

- Earlier this week, the Calgary Professional Arts Alliance, which represents over 150 Calgary based arts organizations and independent artists released a statement objecting to Stephen Harper's comments about Canada's creative economy, reminding Harper of the arts in his own backyard:

In 2005, over 43,000 Calgarians were employed within Calgary’s creative industries, representing about 13.5% of the city’s total employment. In 2001, 4.1% of Canada’s workforce, or 611,000 individuals, were employed in the arts sector alone.

- Chantel Hebert raised some interesting points about Michel Rivard's video on Conservative culture funding.

- Edmonton-Centre candidate Jim Wachowich and Edmonton-Strathcona candidate Linda Duncan are the only two Alberta candidates to have been endorsed by

Saturday, September 27, 2008

culture en péril.

This video is making the rounds in reaction to the short-sighted Conservative Party attitude to arts and culture funding in Canada.

Friday, September 26, 2008

u.s. presidential debate commentary (second to second).

Check out Twitter's Election 2008 for second to second commentary.

I'll be putting in my two sense on twitter too.

auditor general needs resources to investigate highwood communications.

Alberta's Auditor General is considering an investigation into the highly PC-connected ad firm Highwood Communications. After leaving $5.3 million in unpaid bills, Highwood applied for bankruptcy protection after receiving $41.3 million in exclusive government contracts over the past 10 years.

Auditor General Fred Dunn would like to conduct an audit of the company, but is waiting on sufficient resources.

"We're considering how and when we could conduct a systems audit," said Lori Trudgeon, a spokeswoman for Dunn's office.
Ed Stelmach has refused to ask the Auditor General to investigate and has said he believes that taxpayers got "their moneys worth" from Highwood, even though many unanswered questions still remain about what happened with taxpayers money and why the bills went unpaid.

Giving the Auditor General the resources to investigate what happened to the millions of taxpayers' dollars entrusted to Highwood Communications through their exclusive government contracts is a plain and simple issue of giving Albertans the accountability, transparency, and integrity they deserve in their government. The integrity that Ed Stelmach promised Albertans.

Related posts:
September 23, 2008
September 24, 2008

Thursday, September 25, 2008

i'm sure that stephen harper would enjoy the kaleido festival.

I really don't expect there to be any taxpayer subsidized rich fancy galas at this festival, so just in case Stephen Harper has a change of heart, I'm sure that he'd be welcomed at Arts on the Ave's Kaleido Festival starting tomorrow on Edmonton's 118th Street (aka Alberta Avenue).

Kaleido! 2008 will feature a mélange of over 200 musical and performance acts, visual artists and artisans from both the professional and emerging arts. Kaleido! is a celebration of Edmonton’s arts scene. The Festival’s newest addition is a Blue Grass Pancake Breakfast featuring “Down to the Wood” Saturday morning, and an all-day family carnival. The evening boasts a wonderful concert from feature musicians and a signature lantern parade.

Sunday, Kaleido! plays host to Edmonton’s Biggest Ever Block Party - Come be a part of the community arts mosaic!! Welcome to historic Alberta Avenue and enjoy the sights and sounds as the arts work together transforming one of Edmonton’s oldest and most thriving communities!
Arts on the Ave has played a central role in transforming, revitalizing, and successfully attracting people from across Edmonton to the inner city Alberta Avenue neighbourhoods -- so check out the Kaleido Festival this weekend.

(h/t Ken Chapman via twitter)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

unanswered questions about highwood communications.

As posted yesterday, Calgary-based Highwood Communications has filed for bankruptcy protection with the Court of Queen's Bench after leaving unpaid bills totalling more than $5.3 million. Highwood, owned by long-time PC insider Barry Styles, held an exclusive government ad-buying contract between 1997 and 2007, handling $41.3 million of taxpayers' money to buy newspaper, radio, television, magazine and online ads.

Highwood's financial downfall raises some very interesting questions:

- Highwood was entrusted with millions of taxpayers' dollars to buy government ads. If Highwood didn't pay the media outlets that ran the ads, where did the money go? Highwood was being paid to place $5.3 million worth of ads and ended up with less than $2 million in assets, where did the $3.3 million go? Is there any way to get it back?

- If Highwood failed to live up to the basic terms of its contract, does the province have a legal recourse?

- Why didn’t senior Public Affairs Bureau officials properly monitor the company?

- Why did Highwood’s parent company, B.A.S. Managing and Consulting Services Ltd., also directed by Styles, receive $1.5 million from Highwood and never pay it back?

- Did the government know, or should it have known, that the company was in trouble? Highwood's Saskachewan branch was the advertising agency for several departments of the Saskatchewan government when it filed for bankruptcy in 1998, leaving liabilities of $582,000.

I agree with Paula Simons' recent article, "the government owes the people of Alberta answers." In its first Speech from the Throne in 2007, Ed Stelmach's government declared that, "Governing with integrity and transparency is the first priority of this government."

It's time that Stelmach and his 71 MLAs live up to that promise and give Albertans answers.

Background: Court Documents pertaining to Highwood Communications
Court Report of Trustee on Proposal
Creditor Package
Notice of Intention-Creditors
Minutes of the First Meeting of the Creditors

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

do the alberta pc's have an ad scammer among them? pc insider goes bankrupt after receiving $41.3 million in government contracts.

The highly connected PC ad firm Highwood Communications has filed for bankruptcy protection after leaving unpaid bills totalling more than $5.3 million...

Highwood has held the government's exclusive ad-buying contract for more than 10 years, handling $41.3 million in public money in that time. They used that cash to buy newspaper, radio, television, magazine and online ads on behalf of the government in exchange for roughly four per cent of the total amount.

Highwood's owner, Barry Styles, is a Conservative party insider and was most recently part of the creative and advertising team for Premier Ed Stelmach's spring election campaign. Before that, he produced ads for former Canadian Alliance leader Stockwell Day and worked on PC election campaigns.

Styles could not explain how his company took $6.5 million in public money last year, yet still owed so much to the media companies. ...

This is not the first time a company owned by Styles has been in such trouble. Highwood Communications Sask. went bankrupt in 1998, leaving unpaid bills totalling $582,220. At the time it went under, the company was the advertising firm of record for at least four Saskatchewan government departments. Styles said the two incidents are unrelated.

Monday, September 22, 2008

harper-watching. scheduled alberta sighting ahead.

For Edmontonians interested in getting a rare-glimpse of the Calgary-Southwest-based Conservative Party leader, Stephen Harper will be rolling through town on Thursday, **September** 25 to attend an event MCed by Edmonton-Strathcona Tory Rahim Jaffer.

bolsheviks and independent conservatives on your ballot.

The Red Menace is infiltrating the ballot box as the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) is running candidates Kevan Hunter in Edmonton- Strathcona, Peggy Morton in Edmonton-Centre, Jason Devine in Calgary-East, and André Vachon in Calgary-West.

Much like James Ford from Edmonton-Sherwood Park, other Independent Conservative candidates are popping up across Alberta. In Medicine Hat, former Conservative nomination candidate Dean Shock will be running as an Independent Conservative against official Conservative LaVar Payne. Shock's criticisms of the Conservative nomination process were echoed by M.D. of Taber Deputy Reeve Greg Sekura.

In Calgary-Northeast, Independent Conservative Roger Richard is running against official Conservative Devinder Shory. Richard's campaign kickoff shed some light on the less than savory ethnic politics that aren't just unique to Calgary-Northeast...

"We wanted to get the word out to the Caucasian public that there is an independent conservative candidate," Perry Cavanagh said in an interview. He lost the Tory nomination contest and is now managing Richard's underdog bid.

Moments later, Cavanagh said the independent's campaign has "nothing to do with race." During Richard's rally, Calgary TV host Kumar Sharma urged on supporters in both English and Punjabi.
Also, I'm not going to make too big of a deal about this, but it would be too much not to mention the grammar issues on both Ford's and Richard's websites (note: you are "Independent," not "Independant" candidates).

"we are concerned that the conservative campaign is importing republican campaign tactics and bush-style governance."

I'm glad to see that there are some citizens who are taking a stand against the negative campaigning in this federal election.

Bush campaign architect Karl Rove to address political elites in Toronto and Calgary - Group of citizens comes together to condemn the importation of Bush-style campaign tactics

CALGARY, Sept. 22 /CNW/ - A group of concerned Canadian citizens are coming together to speak out against Karl Rove's address this week in Calgary and Toronto. Partisan think tank, the Fraser Institute, is charging $5000-$7000 per table for Canadian elites to dine with and learn from the architect of George W. Bush's two controversial presidential campaigns. The Fraser Institute has long held connections to political campaigns in Canada. Tom Flanagan, former Harper campaign manager and author of Harper's Team: Behind the Scenes in the Conservative Rise to Power, is also a Senior Fellow at the Fraser Institute.

"We are concerned that the Conservative campaign is importing Republican campaign tactics and Bush-style governance," Andy McIntyre, an organizer of the citizens' group said. "Personal smears, voter fraud, bribery, blackmail and the politicization of Canada's justice system have no place in Canadian politics or our elections."

Mr. Rove will be speaking to the Fraser Institute at the Artists of the World Gallery, (514 - 11 Avenue SW, Calgary, AB) on September 24, 2008. The group of citizens will be meeting in Calgary at:

Memorial Park, West Side - 11th Avenue and 4th Street SW, Calgary, AB

6:00 PM - September 24, 2008

For further information: Andy McIntyre, (403) 998-8217 -; Mike Soron, (403) 923-8806 -

Saturday, September 20, 2008

peter goldring's misuse of taxpayers dollars?

I'm glad to see that the mainstream media has picked up this story. Still no peep from the suspiciously-silent Canadian Taxpayers Federation on this issue...

Timing of Goldring's newsletter criticized
Incumbent defends mailouts, but opposition furious about 'abuse' of funds
Darcy Henton
Saturday, September 20, 2008

EDMONTON - Edmonton East Conservative incumbent MP Peter Goldring says it's not his fault that his constituency newsletters are arriving in riding mailboxes during a federal election campaign.

photo post: jack layton campaigns in edmonton.

Protesters from the Blind Handgun Owners' Association of Canada showed up in force.

Friday, September 19, 2008

is stephen harper taking alberta for granted? absolutely.

And Albertans aren't giving him or most Conservative candidates any reason not to.

With the exception of closer races in Edmonton-Centre and Edmonton-Strathcona, it's a fair bet that Alberta's parliamentary delegation will be draped in various shades of blue after the October 14 vote. Ken Chapman has shared some interesting thoughts on Alberta's political burnout, and I can agree that after the 2006 PC leadership selection, the 2007 municipal elections, and the 2008 provincial election a lot of politically active Albertans are feeling the political overkill (I know I am...).

With the recent political past in mind, I thought it would be interesting to take a look what the Alberta numbers from the 2006 federal election and 2008 provincial election to see what they can offer.

January 2006 Federal Election - Alberta

28 seats
Liberal0 seats219,43115.3%
NDP0 seats167,56611.7%
0 seats93,9196.6%
Independent0 seats14,2611%

March 2008 Provincial Election - Alberta

PC72 seats501,02852.66%
Liberal9 seats250,86226.37%
NDP2 seats81,0438.52%
0 seats43,5634.58%
Wildrose Alliance
0 seats64,3706.77%

Though it's important to recognize the different contexts in which both these elections occurred, it is intereting to take a look at and compare the numbers.

It seems clear that Albertans were a lot more eager to elect Stephen Harper's Conservatives in 2006 than they were to elect Ed Stelmach's Progressive Conservatives in 2008. This is indicative of many things, but after 37 years in office Alberta's governing Tories aren't exactly energizing and exciting political machine of Peter Lougheed's era. The low voter turnout can be blamed on a lot of thing, but I would gather that it had more to do with institutional mediocrity and predetermined outcomes (which isn't wholly the PCs fault).

The numbers also show that many Albertans differentiate their provincial and federal political ballots, which isn't much of a surprise -- I'm one of those many Albertans (having voted federal NDP in 2006 and Alberta Liberal in 2008). I'm particularly interested to see which party takes the second place spot in Alberta on October 14. Depending on how Elizabeth May and Jack Layton perform during the October 2nd televised debate, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Greens and the NDP boost their numbers across Alberta. The Greens have a lot of potential to increase their tally in rural Alberta, where dissatisfied voters seem to have a natural gag reflex to the Liberals and NDP, as witnessed by Joe Anglin and Edwin Erickson's strong second place finishes in Lacombe-Ponoka and Drayton Valley-Calmar in the provincial election.

Also, though I'm willing to be $100 that the Liberals will not elect any MPs from Calgary, it will be interesting to see if the recent Cowtown Liberal gains in the provincial election translate into an increase in the Federal Liberal vote in Calgary-Centre, Calgary-Centre North, Calgary-Northeast, and Calgary-West (which overlap the seats held by Liberal MLAs Harry Chase, Kent Hehr, Darshan Kang, David Swann, and Dave Taylor).

alberta candidate updates.

I've added some updates to the list of 2008 candidates in Alberta...

Edmonton-East: Stephanie Laskoski has replaced Jim Jacuta as the Liberal candidate. I've met Stephanie a number of times and know that she will waste no time hitting the hustings in her epic election battle against Conservative Peter Goldring and New Democrat Ray Martin.

NDP Updates: The NDP almost have a full slate of candidates in Alberta. Calgary East – Ian Vaughn, Calgary Nose Hill - Stephanie Sundberg, Calgary Southeast – Christopher Willott, Westlock St.Paul – Della Drury.

elliott brood. rocked.

It's been a while since my last music post, so I am happy that I can mention Wednesday night's Elliott Brood show at the Pawn Shop.

There's not too many ways to put it, this amazing banjo/uke-riddled three piece alternative country band rocked the Pawn Shop. This show easily made it on my top 5 shows of 2008.

They played Calgary's Warehouse last night and have four more stops in their Western Canadian tour...

September 19, 2008 - Canmore Hotel, Canmore, AB

September 25, 2008 - The Slice, Lethbridge, AB

September 26, 2008 - The Exchange, Regina, SK

September 27, 2008 - Pyramid Cabaret, Winnipeg, MB

If you have a chance to see them, do it.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

a low-key affair.

Don Braid described it as low-key, and he was right.

The race to replace outgoing Alberta Liberal leader Kevin Taft continues to be a low-key affair as candidates Mo Elsalhy, David Swann, and Dave Taylor continue to slog away towards the December 2008 vote to lead Alberta's Official Opposition.

The candidates received a number of endorsements over the past couple weeks. Swann received a stunning endorsement from retired Lt. General Romeo Dallaire, who said of Swann:

"There are those individuals in a society that not only recognized freely their responsibilities to their fellow humans in need and less fortunate, here and beyond our borders, but there are the exceptional individuals who actually do something concrete about it, including putting their personal resources and health towards that aim. Dr. Swann is one such person and is nothing less than exemplary and a solid citizen of the world. My confidence in him is limitless."
Edmonton's Poet Laureate, E.D. Blodgett has endorsed Elsalhy and Taylor has the support of former Calgary-Elbow MLA Craig Cheffins and current Calgary-Buffalo MLA Kent Hehr. Taylor also seems to be relying on support from Federal Liberal organizers -- including his campaign manager, Corey Hogan, who ran Stéphane Dion's leadership campaign in Alberta in 2006. No word yet if Bob Rae will be stumping for Taylor.

If you're interested in hearing more from the candidates, the Alberta Teachers' Association will be hosting a forum on October 3. There will also be a candidates debate on the Sunday of the October 4-5 Alberta Liberal Convention in Edmonton.

voting is a "perk," peter goldring?

Question: Who in the 21st Century would even think of stripping a basic democratic right such as voting from any Canadian citizen?

Answer: Apparently, the Conservative Party of Canada does.

Following yesterday's the post on taxpayer-funded partisan advertising, a reader sent me this mail-out from Edmonton-East Conservative Peter Goldring (who will unfortunately not be replaced by David Emerson...).

While Canada's justice system falls short in many areas, I'm sure that there are much more effective ways to reform our criminal justice system than removing this so-called "prison perk."

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

price this.

I discovered THIS Magazine over the summer and this recent piece by Graeme McElheran is making it one of my regular reads:

It seems the Conservatives have been in power too long - in Alberta, at least. They've lost touch with their grassroots. The Reform movement that Harper and many of his cohorts were parts of - that gave rise to the current government - had a tightfisted ethos. One of its mainstays was for government to cut spending, and strict accountability for spending that could not be cut.

I wonder what Preston Manning would say about political advertisements for incumbent Conservative MPs being paid for not from Conservative party coffers, but with taxpayer funds.

The "non-partisan" Canadian Taxpayers Federation - traditionally a Liberal-bashing, Conservative-extolling lobby group with links to Manning, Reform and the Conservatives - clearly disapproves of taxpayers bearing the cost of campaign advertising. The CTF filed a formal complaint with Elections Canada over perceived Liberal indiscretions of this vein in Beaches-East York, saying a Liberal MP's pamphlet "amounts to election advertising and its cost should not be borne by the taxpayers of Canada."

In Alberta the CTF made similar comments - but alas, filed no grievance - when Conservative campaign propaganda circulated during the weeks just prior to and now following the election call.

campaign tweet.

- University of Alberta Professor David Kahane is involved in organizing a community conversation on climate change (h/t AGRDT)

- Alberta Senator and former PC MLA Elaine McCoy has some thoughts on climate change for Stephen Harper. (h/t Ken Chapman & James Curran)

- Billion dollar profits, but $1 billion is too much to protect Alberta's wetlands?

- NDP leader Jack Layton will be in Edmonton on September 20. Somewhat ironically, Layton will be speaking at the Winspear Centre -- named after Francis Winspear, who along with Preston Manning and Ted Byfield, was one of the founders of the Reform Party of Canada.

- Independent conservative James Ford versus official Conservative Tim Uppal in Edmonton-Sherwood Park. Outgoing MP Ken Epp blames the nomination process.

- Twittering leaders: @pmharper, @liberaltour, @jacklayton, @elizabethmay, @gillesduceppe.

Monday, September 15, 2008

what if no one voted on october 14?

In conversations over the past couple weeks, I've encountered a shocking amount of people who have admitted that they haven't decided whether or not they will actually vote in the October 2008 federal election. With dropping voter turnout levels becoming the norm (I'm actually surprised there aren't more mainstream media stories about this yet), an interesting question comes to mind...

What would happen if no one showed up to vote on October 14, 2008?

With Parliament dissolved and no candidate having received a mandate to join the Commons, would Governor General Michaëlle Jean take emergency powers and rule from Rideau Hall? What of the Senate? Who would General Walter Natynczyk report to? Would Stephen Harper barricade the doors of 24 Sussex Drive or would he become Canada's Leviathan? Would the ten Premiers appoint an interim-Prime Minister? Would Alberta annex Saskatchewan? The North West Territories? Would Denmark take this as a chance to invade Hans Island? Would there be anarchy in the streets? Would Canadians even notice?

In all seriousness, as unlikely a situation as it may be, what would a contingency plan for this look like?

international mlas of mystery.

Alberta's opposition parties are taking aim at the $300,000 summer travel bug caught by Alberta Tory MLAs.

$300,000 could be a bit a bit excessive, but I don't have a large problem with our elected officials traveling to international conferences (if anything, there is the off-chance that some of Alberta's Conservative MLAs might become a little more well-rounded because of it -- and that would be a better thing for everyone). Though I disagree with much of this current government's agenda, I believe that it's important to understand the realities of the increasingly global world we are living in, and we won't do that by cloistering our elected officials inside provincial borders.

As long as Ed Stelmach and Lloyd Snelgrove aren't spending their time hanging out beside the hotel pool wearing speedos and sipping mohitos (there's a mental image for the start of your week), I believe that there are a lot more obvious cases of government misspending or mismanagement that could be taken aim at.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

the state of online campaigning in 2008.

Archie McLean wrote a piece in today's Edmonton Journal on the state of local online campaigning in this election and gives shout outs to Alberta bloggers Idealistic Pragmatist -- the mastermind behind Linda Duncan's website (IP is also the Edmonton-Strathcona blogger on democraticSPACE) and Enlightened Savage.

Archie also gave a shout out to for the updated 2008 federal election candidates list -- which was just updated this morning following the nomination of Medicine Hat Conservative candidate LaVar Payne.

photo post: the first weekend of campaign 2008.

Greening the Farmers' Market. Green Party candidate David Parker was campaigning at the City Market on 104th on Saturday morning in Edmonton-Centre.

Landslide Jim? Jim Wachowich's Edmonton-Centre campaign office on the corner of 124th Street and 102 Avenue is up and running.

Paint it Orange! NDP candidate Linda Duncan is winning the sign war in my neighbourhood (so far I've only spotted one Rahim Jaffer lawn sign in the University area).

One of Rona Ambrose's campaign signs stands on a street corner near West Edmonton Mall in Edmonton-Spruce Grove. With most of Alberta's seats sitting in safe Tory territory, expect most of Alberta's Tory MPs to be spending their time campaigning in battleground Ontario.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

active citizens television.

I feel like such a socialite sometimes...

...last night I popped by ACTVs launch party at Latitude 53. If you haven't heard of it, ACTV is a not-for-profit new media initiative aimed at educating and motivating Albertans to discover and pursue sustainable living practices and promote ecological consciousness. It's a great initiative and I hope it's successful!

so much for canadians being nice.

Slate Magazine has an interesting take on our election from south of the border.

Friday, September 12, 2008

what federalism means in quebec, in alberta.

Later this month, Professor Guy Laforest will be speaking at the University of Alberta as part of the 20th Annual McDonald Constitutional Lecture from the Centre for Constitutional Studies.

Laforest is well known for his writings on Canadian constitutional issues, comparative federalism, political theory, and intellectual history in Quebec and English-speaking Canada He is also the former President of Action Démocratique du Québec.

Speaking during the middle of the federal election, I'm sure that Laforest will have some interesting things to say about the Stephen Harper-Gilles Duceppe battle for votes in Québec.

to buckdog: govern yourself accordingly.

As a blogger who has been the target of a politician's legal threats, I can sympathize with the ridiculousness of Buckdog's situation.

UPDATE: Some politicians learn from their mistakes faster than others.

early morning candidate updates.

The list of nominated federal election candidates in Alberta has been updated to include some new additions:

Edmonton-Strathcona: Jane Thrall, Green
Peace River: Liliane Maisonneuve, Liberal
: Adam Campbell, Liberal
Westlock-St. Paul: Aden Murphy, Green

UPDATE*S*: Doug James is the Liberal candidate in Calgary-Centre North. James will face off against Conservative incumbent Jim Prentice, New Democrat John Chan, Green Eric Donovan, First People's candidate Doug Dokis, and the Canadian Action Party's John Kohut.

Last week, I wrote that Alberta Sheriff Ali Haymour was seeking the NDP nomination in Edmonton-Sherwood Park. I've just been informed that Haymour has had to unfortunately decline the nomination for professional reasons. Brian LaBelle is now seeking the NDP nod in that riding in a nomination meeting set for next week. If nominated, LaBelle will face Tory Tim Uppal, Liberal Rick Szostak, and Independent James Ford.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

what's better on a thursday night than a little pecha kucha?

I joined over 300 folks at Pecha Kucha 2 in Edmonton tonight and the presentations were fascinating. Though I have reservations about the group who organized the event, I was pretty amazed at the out-of-the-box creativity and ideas about design brought forward by the presenters.

Mastermaq has a run down of the evening's events.

soldiers, tanks, and oil wells in our cities, in our streets.

A Jack Layton NDP government will make our cities, our communities, and our schools safer by getting soldiers, tanks, and oil wells off our streets.

(h/t Duncan W.)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

klein predicts a harper majority.

Former Alberta Premier Ralph Klein is predicting a Conservative Majority Government for Stephen Harper on October 14.

During the 2006 election, Peter Mackay suggested the use of "duct tape" to keep Klein from characterizing Harper as unelectable while predicting that Paul Martin would form another Liberal Minority Government.

(h/t U of A Law Blog)

elizabeth may allowed to join old white boys debate club?

If so, it's good news...

The political path has been cleared for Elizabeth May to participate in the televised leaders debates after first NDP Leader Jack Layton and minutes later Conservative Leader Stephen Harper withdrew threats to boycott.

hell hath frozen over.

A contested NDP nomination in Red Deer is not something that I imagined would happen during this election (or during my lifetime for that matter...). Farmer and Teacher Stuart Sommerville will be duking it out against recent Red Deer Mayoral candidate Matt Chapin (who was 21-years old when he faced off against Mayor Morris Flewwelling in the October 2007 election) for the September 14 nomination meeting.

The nominated candidate will face off against first-time Conservative candidate Earl Dreeshen and Liberal Garfield Marks in the riding vacated by longtime Conservative MP Bob Mills.

The list of nominated federal election candidates in Alberta will be updated as more candidates are nominated.

joe clark: "the question is not why the green party should be let in. the question is: why should the greens be kept out?"

Former Prime Minister Joe Clark has waded into the debate and is asking some pretty tough questions about why Green Party leader Elizabeth May is being left out of the televised Leaders' Debate.

Clark also made a point that I can imagine a lot of Canadians would agree on (this Canadian included):

The tone of federal politics today is the worst I can remember in my 50 years in public life. Of course, there were angry partisan differences before, but they were tumultuous exceptions to a general rule of common public purpose, even civility. By contrast, the standard today has become consistently bitter and negative - personal invective routinely displaces any serious discussion of issues or differences.

This low standard helps corrode respect for the democratic institutions in which this mean drama plays out. It comes at a bad time, because there has been a general decline in the reputation of politicians, parties, legislatures and other institutions. Cynicism grows. Candidates are hard to attract. Citizens turn away from politics - especially young people, who see nothing to attract or inspire them. That constitutes a long-term threat to the authority of the pan-Canadian political institutions that have always been essential for citizens of this diverse democracy to act positively together.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

alberta passes the torch to danny williams.

And here I was thinking there would be nothing to blog about on the second day of the election campaign...

- Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach sheepishly waded in to the Federal Election campaign yesterday, officially marking the passing of the torch to Canada's new provincial maverick: Newfoundland Premier Danny Williams. Williams and 43 of his 44 Conservative MHAs have signed on to defeat Stephen Harper's Conserative candidates in Newfoundland, a caucus loyalty somewhat reminicent of that held by former Alberta Premier Peter Lougheed.

- Speaking of Newfoundlanders, NDP leader Jack Layton landed in New-Newfoundland (aka: Fort McMurray) the North West Territories and took his message to Alberta's Tar Sands this week, citing the Harper Cabinet's decision to overturn a court ruling blocking Imperial Oil's Kearl Lake development. The development of Kearl Lake only increases the devastating problems created by current oil sands extraction techniques and the resulting tailing ponds left behind.

- On an fairly embarrassing note, Stephen Harper apologized today for a Conservative Party negative ad that showed an Atlantic Puffin pooping on Liberal leader Stéphane Dion's shoulder. Yes, contrary to the evidence before you, these are the grown men who want to govern our country.

- Shifting mediums from television to the internet, the Liberals have launched Scandalpedia -- an online wiki of Conservative scandals (I was excited to first read out about this on the DailyKos). The Conservatives hit back with Dionbook, which takes aim at Dion as well as media and bloggers who have been critical of Harper's government.

what does post-solberg medicine hat look like? (spoiler: probably really blue).

Two candidates have stepped forward to replace Medicine Hat Conservative MP Monte Solberg. Riding association President LaVar Payne and businessman Dean Shock have both declared their intentions to contest the nomination. Former Medicine Hat Alderman Darren Hirsch and current Alderman Jeremy Thompson are said to be interested in the nomination, but have not yet declared their intentions. The Conservative nomination meeting will be held on September 13.

Solberg was first elected as Medicine Hat's MP while carrying the Reform Party flag in the 1993 Federal Election and most recently served as Minister of Human Resources and Social Development. In 2006, Solberg was re-elected with 79.7% of the popular vote.

The nominated Conservative candidate will face Liberal Beverly Botter and New Democrat Wally Regeher.

warning: addictive election predictor ahead.

Hill & Knowlton's online election predictor is back.

(via Kady O'Malley via twitter)

Monday, September 08, 2008

elizabeth may should be allowed to join the leaders' debate.

The ruling group of media outlets will not allow Green Party of Canada leader Elizabeth May to join the 2008 televised Leaders Debate because of opposition from Stephen Harper and Jack Layton. Both Harper and Layton have apparently threatened not to participate in the debate if May was allowed to debate. The Conservative and NDP leaders appear to have an issue with May's support of Stéphane Dion's positions on environmental issues.

The idea that two political leaders would cut out a debate because one political leader agrees with another highlights a major flaw in the mentality of Canada's partisan political system. As admitting that someone else may have a better idea than you is a reality that millions of real Canadians have to come to grips with on a daily basis, perhaps our political leadership should not act so infallible.

Also, at what point in time did Canadians grant private media outlets (with the exception of the CBC, being public) control over deciding which political leaders voters would have access to in a nationally televised debate?

UPDATE: Jason Morris at is blogging in green to protest the media consortium's decision.

craig chandler campaigns in collingwood, ontario.

Just in time for a Federal Election, Craig Chandler has decided that it was a good time to set sail for Ontario by blazing his way into Conservative MP Helena Guergis' riding of Simcoe-Grey to do some anti-Mayoral campaigning in the Town of Collingwood (something that I can only imagine Guergis is ecstatic about -- read: sarcasm).

A right-wing talk radio host and Executive Director of the Calgary-based Progressive Group for Independent Business, Chandler fell into the national spotlight a year ago when he was dumped as the Conservative candidate in Calgary-Egmont after writing a controversial rant against new Albertans on an online webboard and getting into trouble with the Alberta Human Rights Commission. Known for his less than mainstream views, Chandler has previously run for the Reform Party in Hamilton-Mountain in 1993 and for the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada in 2003.

Now in Ontario, Chandler and PGIB affiliate David Crutcher are running a media smear campaign and mass phone attack against Collingwood Mayor Chris Carrier. According to the Collingwood Enterprise-Bulletin, PGIB has accused Carrier of being "anti-business" following the Town's decision to fine two companies who were dumping more waste into the local sewage system than local bylaws permitted. One of the two companies, Collingwood Ethanol, is connected to Chandler's father, Bruce Chandler. Ontario's Ministry of Environment has also laid 17 charges against the company.

PGIBs accusations against Mayor Carrier have confused Collingwood blogger and businessman Rick Crouch, who offered these comments:

“You must ask yourself, is it realistic or sensible for any of us to believe that a Mayor or any politician for that matter would have an “anti-business” mandate. Hardly and that’s where the hilarity in PGIB’s accusations begin and end.”
Radio Free Collingwood has also been following the story and offers a couple of posts detailing PGIBs activities in the Ontario town.

Though I'm not sure what effect, if any, Chandler's campaign could have on the Conservative campaign in the Simcoe region, I'm sure that even the thought Chandler being within 100 kilometers of battleground Ontario could make even the most seasoned Conservative veteran organizer a bit nervous.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

canadians go to the polls...

...and after weeks of exciting televised conventions, I'm really looking forward to voting for Barack Obama and change I can believe in... oh, wait...


Saturday, September 06, 2008

rich tories, poor liberals, ndp.

Elections Alberta financial statements from the March 3, 2008 election campaign now show that Ed Stelmach's Progressive Conseravtives spent a record $3 million to sustain their 37-year old majority in the Alberta Legislature (with $1.7 million sitting in their coffers).

The four opposition parties raised and spent much less than the Tories. During the campaign period the Alberta Liberals netted $440,000 in contributions and spent $650,000, the New Democrats netted $465,000 in contributions and spent $816,000, the Wild Rose Alliance netted $513,000 in contributions and spent $464,000, and the Alberta Greens netted $27,000 in contributions and spent $50,000. The 2008 campaign left both the Liberals and NDP in some pretty deep financial debt.

Though I knew it was coming, I was sad to read that my former boss, Kieran Leblanc, will be let go by the Alberta Liberals due to lack of funds. A former public education advocate, Leblanc jumped into politics before the 2001 provincial election when she sought the Edmonton-Mill Creek Liberal nomination against Bharat Agnihotri. She later joined the Liberal central campaign and became Executive Director in 2001 and saw the Liberal Party through the 2004 and 2008 election campaigns. Leblanc, who Calgary Herald columnist Don Braid described as an "excellent executive director" was a great boss and has been a great friend to me over the years. She is a passionate fighter and the Liberals will feel her loss.

The loss of Leblanc will leave the Alberta Liberals with a skeleton staff of two in the party office. With an election loss fresh in their minds and a leadership race underway, candidates Mo Eslalhy, David Swann, and Dave Taylor are going to have to figure out how to raise a lot of money to fix this sinking ship if they are serious about challenging the current Tory dynasty in the next election.

stéphane dion pre-campaigns in edmonton.

" much culture as a bowl of yogurt."
That is how Federal Liberal leader Stéphane Dion described the amount of culture in Stephen Harper's Conservative Party following recent cuts to arts and culture funding. Dion was pre-campaigning in Edmonton yesterday and made an afternoon stop at the University of Alberta. This being Alberta, I was surprised to be packed in a 250 person lecture theatre filled with Albertans wanting to catch a glimpse of a Federal Liberal (with over 200 people listening from outside). Dion gave a short and quick stump speech which focused generally on the Green Shift, which is what I expect his upcoming campaign speeches to resemble -- short and green.

The hour-long question and answer period was worth attending and included a wide-range of questions including an student affordability question from U of A Students' Union Vice-President (External) Beverly Eastham, to which Dion replied that students would be very pleased when the Liberal's released their Post-Secondary Education policy during the campaign (we shall see...). Other questions covered a broad-range of issues including Darfur, Afghanistan, climate change, affordable housing, free trade, culture funding, and education.

I found Dion's response to a question about the Athabasca/Fort McMurray oil sands a little confusing, as I believe that he suggested that the oil sands could become sustainable. I'm not a scientist, but I'm fairly sure that a heavily exploited non-renewable natural resource does not easily fall into the "sustainable" category (but Dion did promise lots of research funding for the University of Alberta to make it so...).

On a final note, I very much enjoyed the two of militant young Campus Conservatives who were handing out anti-carbon tax sheets outside the event and donning their yellow anti-Dion t-shirts (they almost fit in with the Greenpeace Stop the Tarsands campaigners, who were there in force).

Friday, September 05, 2008

alberta candidate nomination updates.

A friendly reader close to the Alberta NDP passed along these upcoming nomination candidates in Alberta. The nominations will most likely be held between next Tuesday and Sunday.

Edmonton Sherwood Park – Provincial Sheriff and recent provincial Edmonton-Castle Downs candidate Ali Haymour.

Peace River – Alternative Energy/Anti-Nuclear Activist and recent provincial Peace River candidate Adele Boucher Ryhms.

Red Deer – Farmer and Teacher Stuart Sommerville is running for the nomination to replace former candidate Kelly Bickford.

Westlock-St Paul – Catholic School system curriculum coordinator Jason Porteous.

The list of nominated federal election candidates in Alberta will be updated as these candidates are nominated next week.

a new way forward?

Alberta Liberal leadership candidate Dave Taylor announced an addition to his campaign team yesterday with the appointment of former Mount Royal College Students' Association President Jonathan MacPherson as Assistant Deputy Campaign Manager for Calgary. In his media release, Taylor described MacPherson as "an excellent spokesperson for a number of pressing issues."

In March 2007, MacPherson was less of an excellent spokesperson for his organization when he created and became the centre of a public scandal at his college:

Current Mount Royal Students' Association president Jon MacPherson, who was re-elected to a second term Sat., March 7, was punished by the MRC students' council for sending an email to U of C SU president Emily Wyatt defaming his competitor, current vice-president student life Tami Rothery.

MacPherson ended up winning the election over Rothery--his only other competitor--by 428 votes. As part of his punishment, he is required to write letters of apology to both Wyatt and U of C VP external Julie Labonte.

Wyatt said she was surprised to receive an email from MacPherson asking her to support his election campaign. She responded to the email by telling MacPherson she had to remain neutral and forwarded the email to Labonte. Somehow the email got into the hands of an MRC VP who brought it to the attention of council. Then the Calgary Herald also reported on the story.

MacPherson will also lose his spot on the MRC board of governors as well as any remaining vacation time. He cannot hold leadership positions on any external lobby groups and is required to pay a $1,000 fine to the students' association.
No word if MacPherson will be given access to a campaign email address.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

"for the economic prosperity of alberta."

During the Spring sitting of the Alberta Legislature, MLA Rachel Notley gave an interesting statement in support of Dave Taylor's amendment to Bill 7, which would oppose the introduction of the phrase "for the economic prosperity of Alberta" into Alberta's Post-Secondary Learning Act.

MS. NOTLEY: We acknowledge that within the system of post secondary education delivery is a process which relies on partnerships. It relies on partnerships historically between students, between education providers, between the community as a whole, between, in my view, business — and when I say business, I include the labour movement in that, you know, the economy as a whole — and then, of course, as I say, our community. So there is a balance that needs to be struck in the delivery of our post secondary education system and the education within the province.

My concern is that the amendment that’s being proposed here in
essence unstrikes the balance and that it rather puts in place a priority system. The first priority is, in fact, the economic interests of the province and the economic prosperity — as defined by who I’m not exactly sure, but nonetheless the economic prosperity — of the province. I have to say that I think if you were to look historically at all of the most venerable post secondary education institutions in the world, they did not premise their reputation or their service on how well they were able to contribute ultimately to the economic prosperity of the given government of a given day. Rather, they were more focused on providing a true academic opportunity and education outside of the day-to-day influences that might be brought to bear by any particular political government of the day.

A big concern that we have relates to what the impact of this change
would have on research and research initiatives in the future. Sponsored research is a type of research that occurs within the post-secondary institution that, frankly, we have some very significant concerns with. Sponsored research fundamentally compromises academic integrity in a number of cases. It can result in a skewing of the research choices, the topic choices, and the outcomes that are widely reported with respect to the research that is undertaken. [...]

We know that the roles and mandate framework actually identifies as
an objective the goal of making Alberta have the highest level of sponsored research in the country. I would suggest that that is a direction that we should not pursue and that we should change direction. I am all for, you know, considered economic development and integration in certain cases with respect to the post secondary education system where it works. I have concerns about a legislated direction that economic prosperity be the priority consideration for boards of post secondary institutions when they are considering how and where to allocate their resources.
(h/t Alberta Views Blog)