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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

ignatieff to harper: quit treating westerners like they're stupid.

“Frankly,” he said, “I think it's condescending to westerners that being a so-called intellectual is some big liability. People out here are as devoted to the life of the mind, and the life of culture, as anybody else in the country. So I don't think that's going to fly. It's just stupid.
Federal Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff on western Canadians and Conservative attacks.

Ignatieff is in Edmonton for the next two days and will be speaking at a Town Hall meeting at the Santa Maria Goretti Community Centre tonight at 6:50pm. I'm planning on checking out what the serene professor has to say, so post your questions below and I may try and ask one if I get the chance.

Monday, June 29, 2009

the majority disapproves.

A new poll released by Leger Marketing shows that none of Alberta's three main political party leaders have been able to achieve majority approval ratings:

Conservative Premier Ed Stelmach's performance: - Disapprove: 40 per cent - Approve: 41 per cent - Don't know: 19 per cent

Opinion of Stelmach since last year - Worsened: 43 per cent - Stayed the same: 40 per cent - Improved: Five per cent

Liberal Leader David Swann's performance: - Disapprove: 29 per cent - Approve: 22 per cent - Don't know: 49 per cent

NDP Leader Brian Mason's performance: - Disapprove: 34 per cent - Approve: 22 per cent - Don't know: 44 per cent
The poll places Stelmach in a commanding lead of both David Swann and Brian Mason, but his high disapproval ratings shouldn't give PC supporters any reason to brag. While it appears that the Liberal or NDP leader haven't been able to gain traction in public support (which isn't a shock), I was most surprised at Stelmach's regional ratings. The poll showed approval for the Premier at 34% in Calgary, at 41% in smaller communities (down from 52% in 2008), and remaining lukewarm at 48% in Edmonton.

UPDATE: Here is the PDF with a regional breakdown and fancy charts.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

edmonton businessmen recorded strategizing about city centre airport.

Discussion about how to get Councillors "on [their] side" broadcast live over the Internet.

During the afternoon recess of Thursday's hearings on the future of the Edmonton City Centre Airport (ECCA), an interesting and revealing conversation occurred between a group of businessmen wanting to keep the ECCA open.

A longtime reader was listening to the public hearings online when a microphone, left on during the break, picked up what was believed to be a conversation between two prominent Edmonton businessmen whom had just spoke in favor of keeping the airport open. Likely without knowing that they were being broadcast over the Internet, the men began engaging in a strategy discussion (there may have also been a third person involved in the conversation).

During their broadcasted conversation, the businessmen hypothesized that there were five City Councillors who would vote to keep the ECCA open, and identified Councillors Karen Leibovici, Amarjeet Sohi, and Bryan Anderson as the most likely targets to "get on [their] side."

The conversation topic quickly turned to Councillor Leibovici, who was suggested to be coming around on account of her rumored mayoral ambitions in 2010. The businessmen didn't seem to know much about Councillor Sohi, but one of them either suggested or volunteered to "give [Anderson] a call."

While the content of this strategy session shouldn't come as a surprise to many Edmontonians, it does shine a spotlight on the backroom influence that some of our city's wealthy businessmen are trying to exert in the debate about the future of the Edmonton City Centre Airport.

Friday, June 26, 2009

we're number 92!*

*The Fraser Institute has released a survey showing that many petroleum industry executives see Manitoba as a better place to invest than Alberta (the horror!). The survey ranks Alberta as 92nd, placing the landlocked western Canadian province of 3 million people "behind China, the Philippines, and Brazil as an attractive place to invest in upstream oil and gas development."

The results of the survey are a bit misleading as they list investment jurisdictions in North America by individual province and state, while all other jurisdictions are listed by country. While the survey results are likely reflective of the oil industry's well-known dislike of Premier Ed Stelmach's changes to Alberta's resource royalty framework, the report may have shown different results had it also included actual financial investment numbers.

The survey has given Wild Rose Alliance leadership contender Danielle Smith a lot of 140-character content to work with this week.

(h/t Brian Dell)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

books, magazines, and twitter.

I’ve spent the past couple of days having a enjoyable time teaching the basics of social media to members of the book and magazine publishing communities in Edmonton and Calgary. I was impressed at how eager the members of this creative sector are to learn more about social media and online engagement. Most of the participants were already familiar with blogs and social networks like Facebook and YouTube, but many were less familiar with Twitter (even though most had heard about it).

While the publishers and writers naturally maintained a healthy dose of skepticism at the 140-character hyper-blogging network, the participants in the workshops were open minded and curious about Twitter, especially in light of the Iranian election, Doug Elniski, and Bill 44.

My time spent with these community members also allowed me to learn some of the more fascinating details about the saga of the Google Book Settlement.

When I returned to Edmonton yesterday, I was surprised to read blog posts by both Walter Schwabe (@fusedlogic) and Mack Male (@mastermaq) in response to 630CHED host Lesley Primeau’s negative comments about Twitter. I was a little confused by Primeau’s reaction, as I would have thought that her role as a radio host for a station that largely depends on listener interaction (aka callers) would be naturally interested in learning more about social media.

On the political front, DJ Kelly has written a solid blog post about the potential Elniski Effect on elected officials who use Twitter and social media. DJ raises some good questions, including whether the incident will cause political parties to discourage or increase their controls on how elected members interact with citizens online. As Alberta’s governing partisans haven’t reacted well to online social media in the past, I hope that Elniski’s tasteless comment leads to an increased mature and commonsensical approach to social media, rather than a retreat from the medium (until the party spin masters need to launch their new websites in preparation for the next election in three years).

Related link: Alberta Politics Online.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

calgary-glenmore candidate update.

Avalon Roberts was chosen as the Liberal candidate at a nomination meeting in Calgary-Glenmore this week. Over 150 Liberals are reported to have shown up to participate in the meeting, where Roberts faced off against Corey Hogan. (Matthew Naylor live-blogged the evening)

Paul Hinman has been officially nominated as the Wild Rose Alliance candidate.

A by-election to replace former MLA Ron Stevens is expected to take place in Fall 2009.

edmontonians pack city hall on food security.

I'm standing in Council Chamber at Edmonton City Hall and I don't think I've ever seen it this packed. Over 700 Edmontonians (many whom are supporters of the Greater Edmonton Alliance) have shown up to talk food security at City Council's Municipal Development Plan public hearings. This is citizenship in action.

Here are the four key amendments being discussed at the public hearing:

- Integrate local food system impact into all decisions about converting farmland.
- Ensure access to local food through a secure land supply and city-wide approaches
- Develop an agricultural areas plan, including inventory of all farmland
- Champion a food security plan by the Capital Region Board.
I'll have photos up soon.

Watch the public hearing live online.

Monday, June 22, 2009

i'm pretty sure that even don draper would find this offensive.

I really didn't want to write on this topic. It pains me that in the year 2009, I am actually writing about this.

Edmonton-Calder MLA Doug Elniski (@elniskimla) gained some unflattering notoriety today after Edmonton-Strathcona MLA Rachel Notley made public a speech that the PC backbencher posted on his now defunct blog. In the speech, which was apparently delivered to a Junior High graduating class, Elniski sounded like an MLA from a previous era as gave some pretty tasteless advice to the young women in the audience:

'Ladies, always smile when you walk into a room, there is nothing a man wants less than a woman scowling because he thinks he is going to get shit for something and has no idea what. Men are attracted to smiles, so smile don't give me that "treated equal" stuff, if you want equal it comes in little packages at Starbucks.'
I am not going to write any more on this, as I think Elniski's comment speaks for itself.

As I wrote in a previous post on the topic of social media and politicians in Alberta, it becomes mistakes like these that make it increasing difficult when trying to convince traditional old-school political thinkers of the important role that these online tools and social networks play in the 21st century. Our elected officials need to exercise some common sense and maturity if they are serious about employing online social networks in an atmosphere of positive engagement with citizens.

*The title credit goes to the Chief of Staff to the President of Daveberta, a frequenter of this blog's comment section.

a spot-on description of twitter.

“The qualities that make Twitter seem inane and half-baked are what make it so powerful.”

Harvard Law Professor Jonathan Zittrain, New York Times, June 15, 2009

just visiting (from ottawa) & royal glenora club gets economic stimulus.

Ottawa political staffer Ryan Hastman defeated Linda Blade and Cathay Wagantall to claim the Conservative candidacy in Edmonton-Strathcona. Hastman will face NDP MP Linda Duncan in the next federal election.

Also visiting Edmonton-Strathcona from Ottawa will be federal Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff, who will spend the morning of Canada Day in the 20th annual Silly Summer Parade down Whyte Avenue. Last week, Vancouver-Centre Liberal MP Hedy Fry joined federal Liberal activists in Edmonton's Pride Parade.

Across the river in Edmonton-Centre, Lewis Cardinal will announce his announce his intentions to seek the NDP nomination this week (h/t @alexabboud). Cardinal was narrowly defeated (by 184 votes) in a tight race that saw Ward 4 Councillors Jane Batty and Ben Henderson elected in the 2007 Municipal Election. In the 2008 Federal Election, Edmonton-Centre NDP candidate Donna Martyn placed third with 15% of the total vote behind Conservative MP Laurie Hawn and Liberal Jim Wachowich.

How's this for an economic stimulus package? The members-only private Royal Glenora Club will be receiving $1,000,000 in taxpayers dollars from the federal government. Annual membership fees range from $ 2,236.00 for singles aged 30-64 to $4,065 for families. While MP Laurie Hawn defended the announcement, claiming that it "will ensure that this 50-year-old facility can continue to thrive...." it is not known whether he and his wife are active members of the Club (which would cost $2,403.00 annually for couples aged 64 and over).

Friday, June 19, 2009

iclei 2009 world congress edmonton: thoughts on sustainability.

Over the past week, I have had the privileged of attending and observing many of the sessions and keynote speeches at the ICLEI 2009 World Congress in Edmonton. The conference has left me hopeful and encouraged about the opportunities for sustainability in our cities. In Canada, as in many other countries, it has become clear that municipalities are light years ahead of national, state, and provincial governments in generating innovative initiatives and strategies to improve the sustainability of our communities.

Watching, meeting, and conversing with many of the over 620 delegates has left me feel optimistic. Originating from cities across North America, Asia, Europe, and Africa, the conversations and debates I observed at this Congress didn't touch on political partisanship or ideology, but on actual ideas and direction (an increasing rarity among the national and provincial debates in Canada).

Peter NewmanTOD

During his speech to delegates on June 17, Australian scientist Peter Newman made some interesting points having to do with the current economic downturn. Newman suggested that the downturn in the world economy provides states the opportunity to create "the global green new deal." It may seem far fetched that an overly natural resource dependent jurisdiction such as Alberta would embrace new great change, but if "the future is to be smart and sustainable," as Newman suggested, Albertans should be pressuring their elected representatives not to be left behind.

While no one I spoke to at the conference suggested that the need for fossil fuels is going to disappear anytime soon, other oil producing jurisdictions are having serious debates about the ethics of their precious resources. In a conversation with a delegate from the City of Oslo in Norway, he explained some of the serious ethical debates that are taking place on a national level in his country. As Norway is also largely dependent on natural resource revenues, it seems like it and the Province of Alberta should be facing a number of the same ethical challenges.

The Norwegian pointed out that while Statoil (Norway's national oil company) had recently purchased a large amount of shares in the North American Oil Sands Corporation (a deal that is reported to be worth $2.2CND billion), the investments in Alberta's oil sands has spurned a national debate around the ethics of financial dependence on an unsustainable and environmentally damaging method of extracting oil.

BikesDensity

During our conversation, the Norwegian made an observation that as an older society, the debate around oil and dependence on non-renewable resources in his country appeared to be more mature than the relatively young debate in Alberta. Although he was quick to clarify that he wasn't making a judgment, I'm not sure he was far off the mark. While Norwegians have serious national debates about whether or not to simply leave the oil underneath the ground and live off the interest of their geographical resources, Albertans seem to get easily caught up in the staccato boom and bust cycles, all the while forgetting that we are the owners of the resource. As the owners of the resource, it is our responsibility to drive the debate.

Attending the ICLEI 2009 World Congress has taught me that while we do many things well in Edmonton, that there are many areas where we can improve. If "sustainable technologies work best at the local level of government," as Newman suggests, where do our local government's start? Referencing a recent article in the Telegraph, speaker Richard Littlemore suggested that "rebuilding our infrastructure in an intelligent way is the only chance we have."

Collaboration and information sharing is a key to rethinking and rebuilding our cities. A partnership between the World Economic Forum, the World Bank, the International Energy Agency and ICLEI has produced the Slim City initiative that provides a framework example of how this kind of collaboration can take place.

ICLEIBoris Johnson


TOD, POD, and GOD (transit oriented development, pedestrian oriented development and green oriented development) are some of the urban development strategies proposed by Newman in his speech and his book Resilient Cities: Responding to Peak Oil and Climate Change. While some North American cities already provide positive examples of TOD (which can save 50% in car use and 20% of income) and POD development, the ominous sounding GOD initiatives may be less familiar.

The German cities of Vauban and Frieburg are considered to be successful examples of how green-oriented development can produce sustainability. A car-free village powered by solar energy, mobilized by light rail transit and bicycles, and filled with space to grow food locally sounds Utopian, and it directly challenges the comfortable culture of over consumption.

Change is never easy, but the over 620 ICLEI delegates who traveled to Edmonton from around the world this past week have made me hopeful that there is at least one level of government that is prepared to rise to the challenge.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

that's a pretty big tangent...

Finance Minister Iris Evans
Following a speech to the Economic Club of Canada in Toronto, Alberta Finance Minister Iris Evans suggested to the audience that two-income parents place less importance on raising children than families that keep a parent home. Evans' then drifted even further from the topic of the economy and 'suggested a link between a lack of education and mental illness or criminal behaviour.'

"The huge failure of Canadians is not to educate the children properly and then why should we be surprised when they have mental illnesses or commit dreadful crimes?"

Alberta's Finance Minister then targeted her criticism on an even more unexpected area as she criticized funding for new police officers:

"The great tragedy in this year's budget in Alberta ... is that we put 200 more policemen, police officers, for the next two years and more Crown prosecutors, more law enforcement people," she said.

"If we had put 200 more positions in place to help parents be better parents I would have been much happier."

Only hours later, Evans apologized for her bizarre comments.

UPDATE: Is there a chance that this is simply a genius political distraction by Evans' in order to distract Albertans from the announcement that Alberta may need to borrow up to $5 billion in the coming years?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

iclei world congress 2009 edmonton: transit chart.

ICLEI

A chart used by Peter Newman in his presentation at the ICLEI 2009 World Congress in Edmonton this afternoon.

iclei world congress 2009 edmonton: day three in words.

The Concrete Cycle

Urban Strategy Expert and founder of ICLEI Jeb Brugmann talked about the concrete supply chain in China, which includes the recycling of concrete from Hong Kong to build new cities in Mainland China, rather than mining new concrete. The City of Edmonton has operated a Sustainable Aggregate Recycling Program for concrete since 1978, which saves the city around $10.4 million per year.

Pecha Kucha Edmonton 4

Mastermaq has a recap of last night's Pecha Kucha Edmonton 4. While the large audience of over 600 made the event much less intimate than previous Pecha Kucha events in Edmonton, there were some good presentations including Myron Belej and Trevor Anderson. I've been very skeptical of NextGen's mandate in the past, but if they focus on organizing events like Pecha Kucha, they stand a chance in changing my mind (not that they should focus on changing my mind).

Prius

Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel awarded the winners of a Edmonton's Zero Footprint Challenge with a brand-new Prius. As usual, the day wouldn't be complete without Scott Hennig and the Canadian Taxpayer's Federation pointing out something negative about the initiative.

Young Municipal Leaders

Thanks to Councillor Don Iveson, Mastermaq and I were invited to the meeting of ICLEIs Young Municipal Leaders, a loose group of municipal leaders within a common age range. I was encouraged to hear that the group wasn't satisfied with sitting at the 'kids table', but also recognized the perspective their age could offer and the knowledge they could gain from some of the older representatives in ICLEI.

Rather than division by age, participants saw the generational gap as key to a positive partnership in ICLEI, rather than a hierarchical relationship. I also thought it was very telling that as traditional politicians continue to discuss important issues in private low-key meetings, this group discussed the potential that online conversation through social media and wikis could have on important discourse. Very encouraging.

Participants in the Young Municipal Leaders meeting included Leduc Councillor Dominic Mishio, Deputy Lord Mayor of Adelaide Stephen Yarwood, Freiburg Councillor Sebastian Muller, Spruce Grove Councillor Jeff Acker, Melbourne Councillor Cathy Oke, Lahti Councillor Eero Vainio, former U of A Students' Union President Michael Janz, and Kelowna Councillor Angela Reid (among others).

ICLEI 2.0

You can follow the ICLEI conversation on Twitter and take a look at my photos on Flickr.

iclei world congress 2009 edmonton: day three in pictures.

Mandel PriusKey Trends

ICLEIParkallen Ecomobility

Welcome to ICLEILinda Osinchuk

YEG CIty HallStreet Performer

Boris JohnsonMyron Belej

Pecha KuchaJane Jacobs

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

iclei world congress 2009 edmonton: day two focus on eco-mobility.

If I could pick a theme for day two of the ICLEI World Congress (International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives) in Edmonton, it would be Eco-Mobility. The Global Alliance for EcoMobility describes Eco-Mobility as mobility without dependency on the private, Eco-Mobility includes a wide range means of travel, most of the presentations I attended yesterday were focused on bicycle mobility. Here are some points I picked up from yesterday's presentations:

- Edmonton is one of the most car dependent cities in North America.

- Copenhagen (Denmark) is aiming to be one of the environmental capitals of the world. Since 1995, bicycle traffic has risen by over 40% in the Danish capital city.

- In Tilburg (Netherlands) the primary focus is to remove obstacles by improving bicycling parking. There are currently 12,800 bicycle parking spots in Tilburg, with an extra 2,800 spots planned for 2010 and 2,000 spots planned for 2012. Tilburg's 2003 'Balanced Mobility' cycling plan treats all forms of mobility as equally important. Current plans are to build 1600m of bicycle networks.

- Challenges of increased bicycle mobility includes increased theft. Each year, 4,000 bicycle thefts are reported per year in Tilburg, a big problem that needs to be addressed.

- Changwon (South Korea) has a goal to increase bicycle transportation to 20% in 2020. Some Changwon businesses offer $24 per month allowance for employees using bicycle-transportation to work, and the City Bicycle Centre offers free bicycle classes to housewives.

- For Canadians who oppose increased bicycle infrastructure because of our cold winters should know that similar arguments were made in Rio De Janeiro (Brazil) about the intense heat. Heat tuned out not be one of Rio's biggest challenges: bad bike lanes led to four cycling deaths in Rio over a short number of years.

- About half of the air pollution in São Paulo (Brazil) used to come from factories, but now 90% of emissions come from motorized transport. Increase bicycle mobility is a viewed a a solution to car air pollution.

- With a population of 34,000, Koprivnica (Croatia) began promoting bicycle mobility after the end of the Cold War, when the introduction of western automobiles drastically increased local air pollution. In 2008, Koprivnica won the European Mobility Award.

- The Local Motion Eco-Mobility Project in the Edmonton community of Parkallen focused on showcasing and encouraging Eco-Mobility through pilot project improvements and Eco-Mobility education. Community education included local programs, improved bike route marking and the development of a local community map (aka, the Parkallen Field Guide).
I would also like to add how impressed I am with the (likely) hundreds of Edmontonians who have volunteered to help with the day to day operations of the ICLEI World Congress in Edmonton. They've been doing excellent work!

(As most of these points were jotted down quickly during the sessions, apologies if there are any minor inaccuracies)

warning: political fires burn faster, hotter, and more toxic than ever before.

Forgive me if I thought this sub-line on a recent GOA media release was a warning to Alberta PC supporters about the dangers of Bill 44...

Today's fires burn faster, hotter and more toxic than ever before. Preventing them has never been more important

Sunday, June 14, 2009

video: minister ray danyluk speaks to the 2009 iclei world congress.

Alberta's Minister of Municipal Affairs, Ray Danyluk, welcomed the 2009 ICLEI World Congress in Edmonton this afternoon.

iclei world congress 2009 edmonton: day one.

I attended the opening plenary session of the 2009 ICLEI World Congress in Edmonton's Shaw Conference Centre. The 628 ICLEI delegates will face a rigorous agenda over the next four days. Congress delegates have flown in from around the world, including over 100 delegates who do not speak English.

David CadmanStephen Mandel

David CadmanStephen Mandel

(The great caricatures were drawn by Roy Blumenthal)

The 2009 ICLEI World Congress opened with speeches from:
- Stephen Kabuye, ICLEI’s Vice President, Mayor of Entebbe, Uganda
- Stephen Mandel, Mayor of Edmonton
- David Cadman, Deputy Mayor of Vancouver, Canada & ICLEI President
- Ray Danyluk, Alberta's Minister of Municipal Affairs
- Bärbel Dieckmann, Chairperson, World Mayors Council on Climate
Change, Mayor of Bonn, Germany
Of all the speakers, Cadman was the most passionate. As President of ICLEI, he used his time at the podium to urge delegates to lobby their state, provincial, and national governments for serious action on sustainable development and climate change. As this year's COP15 meeting in Copenhagen approaches, the world's municipalities will play a key role in advocating for serious action on the international stage. Even though it was only the first day of the Congress, I get the distinct feeling that municipal frustration towards regional and national inaction on sustainability and climate change is a common feeling among delegates.

GOA BoothStephen Mandel

Critics may point out the irony of holding an international sustainability conference due south of Alberta's Energy Beach, but the 2009 ICLEI World Congress will give Alberta's cities an opportunity to highlight some of the innovative sustainability initiatives that are being implemented at a local level. With an increased international spotlight on Alberta's potential as an even stronger energy leader (and the irresponsible way that we are currently exploiting our resources), the Government of Alberta may feel an increased international pressure to become serious about cleaning up the way we are allowing oil companies to extract our natural resources.

For up-to-the-minute coverage of ICLEI over the next week, I will be uploading photographs on Flickr and joining the discussion on Twitter at #ICLEI. For more information on ICLEI, check out Mastermaq's Guide to ICLEI World Congress in Edmonton.

iclei comes to edmonton.

Over the next week, I will be reporting live from the 2009 ICLEI World Congress in Edmonton. ICLEI is an international association of over 1000 local governments from around the globe who are committed to sustainable development.

Mack Male has posted an excellent guide to the ICLEI World Congress that I would recommend any ICLEI-curious Edmontonian. As Mack pointed out, this is going to be an important conference as 'more than 500 mayors, councillors, and other delegates from more than 800 cities around the world will visit our city to discuss environmental sustainability.'

photo post: edmonton pride parade 2009.


City Councillors Don Iveson and Ben Henderson show off their tricycle-made-for-two.

Edmonton-Centre MLA Laurie Blakeman and Edmonton-Riverview MLA Kevin Taft.

Edmonton-Strathcona MP Linda Duncan and MLA Rachel Notley.

Edmonton-Calder MLA Doug Elniski, Edmonton-Rutherford MLA Fred Horne, and Edmonton-Glenora MLA Heather Klimchuk were the first PC MLAs to ever participate in Edmonton's Pride Parade. Klimchuk was given a unique initiation at the Pride festivities:

Edmonton Pride Parade revellers waved rainbow flags Saturday afternoon as they booed and yelled "shame" at Edmonton-Glenora MLA Heather Klimchuk, the first government minister to participate in the annual celebration.

As the Service Alberta minister spoke to a crowd of thousands at Sir Winston Churchill Square, the shouts were louder than she was.

The boos were in response to the provincial government's passage of Bill 44 nearly two weeks ago. The bill made controversial changes to Alberta's Human Rights Act by giving parents the right to take their children out of classes dealing with sexual orientation, human sexuality and religion.

Critics argued the new law put teachers in danger of facing human rights complaints and created a second tier of rights.

Friday, June 12, 2009

daveberta on air.

Tune in to Calgary's AM770 at 6:40pm tonight as I join The World Tonight's Rob Breakenridge (@RobBreakenridge) on air to discuss my recent article in Alberta Views Magazine.

june nomination blitz.

- June 16 is the date of the Conservative nomination in Edmonton-Strathcona. Linda Blade, Ryan Hastman, and Cathay Wagantall have spent the last month duking it out for the opportunity to run against NDP MP Linda Duncan.

- June 22 is the date of the Alberta Liberal nomination in Calgary-Glenmore that will see Corey Hogan and Avalon Roberts face off for the right to carry their party's banner into the upcoming by-election to replace former PC MLA Ron Stevens.

- June 23 is the date of the Wild Rose Alliance nomination meeting in Calgary-Glenmore. It looks as if outgoing leader and former Cardston-Taber-Warner MLA Paul Hinman may be the only candidate to seek the nod.

- Danielle Smith: Wild Rose Renaissance? One blogger is boldly predicting that she is "the greatest threat to the Tory dynasty in Alberta since Laurence Decore."

- Former Ontario NDP MPP, nearly interested Liberal, and now Calgary Mayoral candidate George Dadamo will soon be accepting applications for new campaign staff.

- The Alberta NDP hosted a revitalization conference in Edmonton last weekend. I am told that BC MP Nathan Cullen knocked the socks off the over 100 attendees with a rousing speech. Union orgainzer Eric Carpendale has been appointed as the NDP candidate for the upcoming Calgary-Glenmore by-election.

ralph goodale interview.

CalgaryGrit recorded this video interview with Wascana Liberal MP Ralph Goodale at the recent Liberal Party of Canada convention in Vancouver. Goodale was one of two Liberal MPs elected in Canada's three Prairie provinces in 2008 (the other being Winnipeg-South Centre MP Anita Neville).

Monday, June 08, 2009

top government and energy industry officials discuss climate and copenhagen at low-key banff conference.

You wouldn’t know it from the near complete lack of media coverage, but a low-key conference hosted by the Canada School of Energy and Environment (CSEE) brought some of Canada’s top government and energy industry officials to Banff this past weekend. The June 4th to 6th meeting focused on the upcoming Copenhagen Conference.

Thanks to a long-time daveberta.ca reader, I was able to get my digital hands on a draft copy of the conference delegate program for 'The Search for a Canada U.S. Climate Change Accord: the Road to Copenhagen and Beyond.' The delegate package lists scheduled discussions and working sessions on topics ranging from pricing carbon, modernizing Canada's electrical grid, harmonizing energy policy with the United States, and developing clean energy technology.

According to the draft program, conference attendees included:

- Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach (with his Chief of Staff Ron Glen and media spokesperson Tom Olsen also attended. Read Stelmach's speech)
- Alberta Environment Minister Rob Renner
- Saskatchewan Crown Corporations Minister Ken Cheveldayoff
- Ontario Environment Minister John Gerretsen
- Quebec Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks Minister Line Beauchamp
- Manitoba Minister of Conservation Stanley Struthers
- PEI Minister of Environment, Energy, Forestry Minister Richard Brown
- BC Environment Minister Barry Penner
- Yukon Environment Minister Elaine Taylor
- NWT Environment & Natural Resources Minister Michael Miltenberger
- Federal Environment Minister Jim Prentice

- CAPP President Dave Collyer
- Suncor President Rick George
- ATCO President & CEO Nancy Southern
- Nexen President & CEO Marvin Romanow
- Alberta CCS Development Chair Jim Carter
- TransCanada Pipeline President Hal Kvisle
- EPCOR President Don Lowry

- Alberta's Washington DC Envoy Gary Mar
- former US Ambassador to Canada David Wilkins
- University of Alberta President Indira Samarasekera
- U of A Chairman Brian Heidecker
- University of Calgary President Harvey Weingarten
- National Chief Assembly of First Nations Phil Fontaine
None of Canada's municipal leaders or members of the media were included in the list of attendees.

By organizing a conference of this size, my source pointed out, CSEE is clearly showing that it has more clout than an average academic unit. While it's positive to see such collaboration happening between government and energy officials, it would be interesting to discover who provided the impetus and funding to hold a conference like this. While its secretive nature is suspicious, I hope that conferences like this one will lead to more action than rhetoric when our representatives travel to Copenhagen in December 2009.

wrapping up the right.

Wild Rose Alliance Party activist Travis Chase has a good write up of this weekend's WRAP AGM in Calgary where three candidates declared their intentions to seek the right-wing party's leadership.

Danielle Smith's candidacy hasn't exactly been a secret (as first written about here). While she is certainly not a typical angry hard-core conservative, her roots with the Fraser Institute, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, and the editorial pages of the Calgary Herald are sure to endear the well-spoken Smith to Alberta's libertarian circles. She has yet to seek provincial office, but Calgarians may remember Smith from her brief tenure on Calgary's dysfunctional Board of Education, which was soon-after fired by then-Education Minister Lyle Oberg. Two of Smith's early endorsements include Link Byfield and Libertarian Party of Canada leader Dennis Young.

Mark Dyrholm is the National Vice-President of the Progressive Group for Independent Business (PGIB), the former vice-president of the College of Chiropractors of Alberta, and was a PGIB-endorsed candidate during Calgary's 2004 municipal election (when he ran against Ward 13 Alderman and Calgary-Glenmore PC by-election candidate Diane Colley-Urquhart). Dyrholm made an unsuccessful bid for the Calgary-Lougheed PC nomination against Dave Rodney in 2004 and is reportedly the former President of the Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills PC association. Dyrholm's Strategy/Coalition Outreach manager is the always colourful Craig Chandler.

As reported by the Calgary Herald's Renata D'Aliesio, Jeff Willerton plans to enter the contest when he raises the $10,000 candidate fee. When not picking fights at Pride Parades, Willerton has run as a Social Credit candidate in Barrhead-Westlock (2001), an Alberta Party and WRAP candidate in Airdrie-Chestermere (2004 & 2008), an Independent candidate in the Calgary-Elbow by election (2007), and contested the leadership of the Social Credit Party (1999). In 2001, Willerton sparked a short-lived public feud between Alberta Speaker Ken Kowalski and then-Athabasca MP Dave Chatters.

Also speaking at the WRAP AGM was Calgary School member and former advisor to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Professor Tom Flanagan.

bill 44 debate continues in the virtual wonderland.

Some interested debate about Bill 44 has continued over the weekend in the comment sections of this blog post from June 2nd and this blog post from June 4th.

Meanwhile, Todd Babiak wrote an interesting Bill 44 related column this weekend.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

it ain't no secret, alberta views wins 'magazine of the year.'

A big congratulations to Alberta Views Magazine for being awarded the covete Magazine of the Year at this weekend's National Magazine Awards in Toronto. Chris Turner was awarded the Gold Medal for his essay 'The Big Decision' and Raymond Biesinger earned an honourable mention for his illustration 'Ten-Year Tabulations,' both which were published in Alberta Views Magazine.

Also on the topics of magazines, make sure to read Darcy Henton's excellent feature article, 'Culture of Secrecy,' in this month's issue of Avenue Magazine.

Friday, June 05, 2009

calgary-glenmore candidate update.

PC: Alderman Diane Colley-Urquhart was acclaimed as the PC candidate last night.

Liberal: Corey Hogan is reported to have been joined by two-time candidate Avalon Roberts in a nomination contest scheduled for June 22nd.

Wildrose Alliance: Former Cardston-Taber-Warner MLA and soon-to-be former leader Paul Hinman is busy pounding the pavement and Danielle Smith and Mark Dyrholm will soon declare their intentions to contest their party leadership. The local nomination contest is scheduled for June 23rd.

Social Credit: Obscure leader of former governing party Len Skowronski is running.

NDP, Greens?

alberta hansard 2.0.

The Spring session of the Alberta Legislature by the numbers:

Number of times Twitter was mentioned: 22
Number of times Facebook was mentioned: 25
Number of times Matt Mitchke was mentioned: 3
Number of times the words 'tough times' and 'tough economic times" appeared together: 95
Number of times the word 'deficit' was used: 239
Number of times the word 'accountability' was used: 326
Number of times the word 'transparency' was used: 206
Number of times 'Northumberland' was mentioned: 4
Number of times a certain former Soviet dictator was mentioned: 7
Number of times 'Stephen Harper' was mentioned: 6
Number of times the PC Caucus was described as the most 'diverse caucus' in Canada: 21

(We should all thank the wonderful people who do such a thorough job of recording Hansard each day the Assembly is in session.)

Thursday, June 04, 2009

outrage over bill 44? nothing the summer bbq circuit can’t resolve.

They currently occupy 71 out of the 83 seats on the floor of Alberta’s Legislative Assembly, but the first Legislative session of 2009 was been a rough ride for the gigantic Progressive Conservatives caucus. While some good was accomplished during this session, it was largely overshadowed by a deficit budget, visions of Northumberland, controversial land reform legislation, and Bill 44.

Amidst the nasty hyper-partisanship that defined this Legislative Session, the current occupants of the Government benches will sleep well knowing that the hot summer months are just around the corner.

While this week’s passage of Bill 44 (which included sections allowing parents to pull their kids from classroom discussions on religion, sexuality and sexual orientation) was met with vocal opposition by many Albertans (including members of the United Church, School Trustees, the Alberta Teachers’ Association), I agree with Grant MacEwan Community College Professor Chaldeans Mensah that there will likely be no long-term political consequences for the Ed Stelmach-led PCs:
"The Tories, with all their problems, are still a formidable force."
As regular Albertans tune even further out of politics for the summer and PC MLAs return to their constituencies to host a flurry of BBQ fundraisers and Shot-Gun Started Golf Tournaments, the summer months will provide them time to mend any Bill 44 induced political strains that may have emerged among their rank and file supporters.

The debate around Bill 44 reminds me of the Bill 11 debates that occurred nine years ago (which is around the same time I began paying attention to provincial politics). While MLAs debated Bill 11 and health care privatization, thousands of Albertans from across the province spent weeks demonstrating their disapproval in front of the Legislature. Many of them vowed that Bill 11 would help end the PCs political dominance, but less than a year later they would witness the massive PC election sweep of 2001 that knocked the opposition Liberals and NDP down to a combined total of 9 MLAs.

Liberal and NDP MLAs can take some solace that they succeeded in shaking the giant PC caucus over the past four months, but opposition attacks fell far from inflicting permanent damage to the long-governing party. While the PCs stumbled through the first half of their 38th year in government, neither the Liberals nor NDP were able to convincingly present themselves as a positive alternative and viable government-in-waiting. Instead, both parties joined in with negative partisan attacks and further deep-rooted themselves in the trenches as a reactive and rump partisan opposition.

While this likely makes some Government MLAs feel optimistic about their political futures, engaged citizens outside the increasingly depopulating world of party politics should be dismayed at the damage caused by the negative and hyper-partisan ‘Ottawa-style’ politics witnessed daily during this session.

Mensah may be right in predicting Bill 44s lack of direct political consequences for the PCs, but that doesn't mean there won't be long-term consequences for democracy in Alberta. Less than 40% of Albertans participated in the March 2008 election, and as our politics continue to evolve into closed-minded and negative hyper-partisanship, those of us without a party membership card in our wallets should be asking how we can reclaim our politics and stop the turnout from dropping even lower in 2012?

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

citizen bloggers: online social media and networks provide new ways for albertans to get political.

Thanks to everyone who has emailed me over the past week with feedback on my cover feature article in this month’s issue of Alberta Views Magazine: Citizen Bloggers: Online social media and networks provide new ways for Albertans to get political. I hope people enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it (I really enjoyed writing it).

Just in case you thought this post was all about self-promotion, if you pick a copy of this month's issue of Alberta Views Magazine off the shelf, you will also have the pleasure of reading great articles by Jeremy Klaszus (the third part of his excellent Mr. Tree series – read parts one and two online), George Melnyk (on how the digital age is changing the book publishing industry), and Maurice Yacowar (on the life and hidden past of former newspaper publisher and Alberta Solicitor General Roy Farran).

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

will bill 44 lead to increased citizen engagement or cynicism?.

LindsayBlackett: is amazed at the continued fearmongering by the opposition, intelligent people who read the bill can see through it.
While Culture Minister Lindsay Blackett used his Twitter feed to deem all Albertans opposed to his Bill 44 as unintelligent, Alberta's 72 Progressive Conservative MLAs performed an Academy Award deserving reenactment of Jean Chretien's Federal Liberals by voting the Party line even after being promised a "free vote."

Outnumbered 7 to 1, Alberta's eleven opposition MLAs presented reasoned arguments last night while debating against sections of Bill 44 which would allow parents to pull their kids from classroom discussions on religion, sexuality and sexual orientation. Special kudos should be given to Edmonton-Centre MLA Laurie Blakeman, who tabled 84 letters voicing opposition from Alberta High School students and presented some of last night's most solid arguments against the controversial sections of Bill 44.

Arguably for the first time, online social media created through networks like Twitter and Facebook played a substantial role in facilitating debate opposing legislation in the Alberta Legislature. While social media has allowed Alberta citizens outside the extreme minority that populate the official partisan and political realm to engage in debate and information sharing about Bill 44, only time will tell whether this action will lead to sustained increased citizen involvement, or if the lack of response from our distant traditional institution of a Legislative Assembly will add to the already prevalent culture of cynicism and distrust of the political process in our province.

hogan's in. dadamo's out.

Corey Hogan's in.

George Dadamo's out.

DADAMO WILL NOT SEEK LIBERAL NOMINATION. INSTEAD WILL FOCUS ON LOCAL PRIORITIES

Calgary, AB - Monday, local businessman George Dadamo informed Alberta Liberal Party President Tony Sonsotta, that he will not seek the Party's nomination in the Calgary Glenmore by election. Instead, Mr. Dadamo will focus his energy on a number of local priorities, including: job creation, growing our economy, making our streets safer and standing up for families and business.

"The message I am getting from our hundreds of supporters and contributors is that Calgarians are looking for someone to stand up and fight for them on local issues, and that is exactly what I intend to do," announced Mr. Dadamo.

In the coming months, George will hold a series of public policy discussions with business and community members - starting with a Job Creation Summit on June 16th, 2009.

"So in many ways this journey is just beginning and I am calling on all Calgarians to join the conversation and get involved in this movement for change, because together we can make a great city - greater," stated Dadamo.

-30-

For More Information:

Team Dadamo
403.660.9203