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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

professor klein. zing!

It seems that our soon to be departed Premier will be sitting in a communications chair at Mount Royal College (and soon to be Mount Royal University if Jim Dinning has his way)...

I thought this was the best quote of the story...

Samantha Power, president of the University of Alberta Students Union, said the premier's presence on campus may have some positive benefit.

"It might let him see some of the problems of the post-secondary system up-front," she said. "He can see some of the effects his cuts have had over the past few years."

While it might be too late for Klein to do anything about it, she's hoping he will pass his insights on to his friends in the governing Tory party.

Monday, October 30, 2006

michael ignatieff meets daveberta.

That's right. Dr. Michael Ignatieff, MP for Etobicoke-Lakeshore had the pleasure of meeting me yesterday afternoon at a reception here in Edmonton. Overall, I think he was fairly impressed with me and my question asking abilities.

Though I wasn't anywhere near to being blown away, I was fairly impressed with Ignatieff's performance, though he is very much a podium speaker and needs to work on his non-podium speaking posture.

Like I've said before, I don't necessarily agree with all of his ideas and policies, but I do respect that they are well thought out and that he is able to defend them with academic arguments.

And of course, being the political junkie that I am, I couldn't leave the event without Chairman Ignatieff to sign one of his little red books for me...

Saturday, October 28, 2006

the weapons of mass destruction thing.

For your Saturday night watching, a great clip from Boston Legal...

(props to Sam for the linkage)

where ritter put the money.

The Edmonton Journal has a good run-down of Michael Ritter's background here titled "A free fall from grace." Interestingly, the article includes a brief list of where some of Ritter's stolen money went...

Michael Ritter stole $10.5 million US from Wall Street energy trader Dan Gordon, some of which he admits giving to various people and organizations. There is no evidence any of them knew they were receiving stolen money. Alberta Justice says it will not try to recover the money. Here's where some of the money went, according to an agreed statement of facts:

- $400,000 -- Paul Hoag, vice-president of Newport Pacific, Ritter's Edmonton-based financial services company
- $92,000 -- Newport Pacific
- $54,000 -- Lawyer Jeff Rath of Priddis
- $50,000 -- Metamorphosis Concert Society of Edmonton, the orchestra founded by former Edmonton Symphony Orchestra director Grzegorz Nowak
- $15,000 -- Pro Coro Canada, an Edmonton choral group
- $10,000 -- Leslie Green, one of Ritter's former University of Alberta professors and an associate of Newport
- $10,000 -- Banff Calgary International Writers Festival
- $5,000 -- Jeremy Carter, Ritter's former executive assistant
- $5,000 -- Juanita Amore, a former Newport lawyer
Check out the complete Michael Ritter Scandal Chronology.

ritter pleads guilty.

Michael Ritter has pleaded guilty...

Edmonton businessman pleads guilty to stealing $10.5 million
Charles Rusnell, Edmonton Journal
Published: Friday, October 27, 2006
High-profile Edmonton businessman Michael Ritter has pleaded guilty to stealing US $10.5 million and perpetuating a massive fraud scheme in the United States.

Crown and defence lawyers recommended a sentence of 10 years in prison. Judge Elizabeth Johnson of provincial court reserved her decision until Tuesday.

Ritter, Alberta’s former chief parliamentary counsel, pleaded guilty to the charges this morning.

In a 19-page statement of facts entered into provincial court as part of his plea bargain, Ritter admitted he stole US $10.5 million of the $43 million embezzled by a Wall Street energy trader and unwittingly laundered by Newport Pacific Financial Group, Ritter’s financial services company.

Ritter also admitted his role in willfully perpetuating a massive US $270-million fraud scheme that bilked more than 6,500 American investors from its base in Los Angeles.

In return for his guilty pleas, Ritter, 49, evaded extradition to California, where he faced a lengthy list of charges related to the massive fraud scheme.
On a more political note, I found this interesting:
Ritter's lawyer, Robbie Davidson, tendered 40 character reference letters from such people as former legislature Speaker David Carter and New Democrat MLA Ray Martin.
There is also more Michael Ritter coverage from around the news-world:
Globe & Mail - Alberta man pleads guilty to pair of money scams
Vancover Sun - Edmonton Businessman pleads guilty to international fraud
Edmonton Journal - The man who wasn't real


Thursday, October 26, 2006

more skeletons!

Our good friend Dr. Lyle Oberg is looking for skeletons again. This week, Oberg announced that he was going to hold a press conference while promising the media "blood" with allegations that another candidate was planning "dirty tricks" against poor old Lyle.

It turned out to be a sham. The media showed up. Oberg quickly backed off. Graham Thomson from the Edmonton Journal has a great recap of Oberg's political tactless press conference yesterday. Here is a clip of it...

Oberg overplayed his hand. He promised us “blood” on Wednesday — but then looked foolish when he said he had evidence of “misconduct” but wouldn’t reveal either the evidence or the candidate.

All he managed to do was smear the other seven campaigns while making himself once again look like a fool (remember his “I know where the skeletons are” comment in March which led to his ejection from government caucus for four months -- and he still hasn’t named any government scandals).

He should have cancelled Wednesday news conference until he could give reporters something other than innuendo.

His performance called into question his judgement.

Calling a news conference on Thursday to rehash the affair and release the document (which managed to find its way to the news media anyway on Wednesday) called into question his campaign’s desperation.

Oberg shot himself in the mouth — where his foot happened to be.
Well put, Graham.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

rocking the peace or how we didn't have a plan and learned to love the boom.

I'm back from a productive three days in Grande Prairie and Peace River!

Lots to comment on, including this from our very soon to be former Tory Premier, Ralph Klein:

Premier Ralph Klein wants projects such as new schools and roads delayed because of spiralling costs, but critics say Alberta's infrastructure needs to keep pace with rapid growth.

"Costs are escalating at 30 to 40 per cent, so my message is simply to delay," Klein said. "I know there is a screaming demand for more infrastructure but, folks, the prices are beyond belief."

After meeting with local community leaders in Grande Prairie and Peace River, I don't think it would be far off to say that a very large majority of the folks in northwestern Alberta would loudly disagree with the Premier on this.

You pay the price when you don't have a plan. In this case, it looks like a 30% to 40% cost increase...

Sunday, October 22, 2006


I'm gone to Grande Prairie and Peace River for the next couple days, so you all may have to do without me for the next half week or so. I have been able to rangle a digital camera, so my trimphant return may be accompanied by the dazzlement of my photographic artistry.

If you have the chance, check out this fun site (props to nic for the link).

Feel free to take this opportunity to use my comment box to chat amongst yourselves on any topic you see fit...

an obergized tummy tuck.

Alberta PC leadership candidate Lyle Oberg has been taking out near-daily advertizements in the Edmonton Journal. Here's a picture of one of Dr. Oberg's Ad's. I thought it was pretty funny when you look at the Ad below it...

Saturday, October 21, 2006

one week left for ritter.

As I mentioned in my previous post, it seems like it's been a while since we've all heard from our good friend Michael Ritter. But as I was pleased to discover this morning, Michael Ritter is today gracing the pages of the Edmonton Sun...

Accused multi-million dollar fraudster to learn fate next


Michael Ritter - a high-profile Edmonton businessman and Alberta's former chief parliamentary counsel - is slated to be sentenced next week, court heard yesterday.

However, it won't be known until Friday what exactly the 49-year-old financier is going to plead guilty to.

Defence lawyer Robbie Davidson appeared in provincial court on behalf of Ritter, who is in custody at the Fort Saskatchewan correctional facility, and the matter was set over for sentencing to Friday, Oct. 27. Read the rest!

Check out the entire Michael Ritter Scandal Chronology!

Friday, October 20, 2006

jim dinning is not a lawyer.

I'm really interested in going to a Ted Morton Alberta PC leadership event before the masses of Tories place their final judgment on the Group of Six + Jim Dinning.

Does anyone know of an Edmonton event Morton will be at in the near future? I'm busy this Sunday, so it will preferably have to be during the week.

Also, kudos to Ken for this humdinger:

What if the latest Dinning Dunning Myth Buster was:
"Jim Dinning is not a lawyer - neither is Michael Ritter."
Speaking of our friend Mr. Ritter... it's been quite quiet on that front lately...


Grow up.

It's more pathetic than anything else.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

dinning and the big whopper.

Though a 17-point press release titled "Whoppers about Jim Dinning," Alberta PC leadership frontrunner Jim Dinning has gone on the defensive by attacking some of the allegations facing the Tory Dauphin.

All this Jim Dinning, Jim Dinning, Jim Dinning talk is starting to make me think of another politician...

Ted Morton looks like he is attracting a youthful metrosexual crowd of supporters in Calgary.

Lyle Oberg has come out with a slick looking policy platform. Though it is the most extensive policy platform so far released by the candidates in this race, it still remains fairly vague.

And Dave Hancock is continuing his open-letter writing strategy, this time Hancock has sent an open-letter to Alberta School Trustees...

it was the blog.

Really, it was only a matter of time...

Garth Turner suspended from Tory caucus
Globe and Mail Update

Outspoken Conservative MP Garth Turner has been suspended from caucus, after a motion passed citing "confidentiality concerns" on his often-controversial daily blog.

MP Rahim Jaffer, chairman of the Tories' national caucus, made the announcement Wednesday that the suspension of Mr. Turner, who represents the Ontario riding of Halton, was the result of a unanimous vote made by both the provincial and the federal Tory caucus.

"This is something that has been culminated since Mr. Turner's election to our caucus," Mr. Jaffer said Wednesday at a press conference in Ottawa. He said the primary sources of concern were confidentiality matters and attacks on other party members posted on Mr. Turner's blog.
This just in: Garth Turner may join the Green Party of Canada?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

senator smith.

Too busy to blog much today. As a concession, I turn it over to Steve and his post on the U.S. Mid-term coming up on November 7...

Some of my favorite US Mid-term 2006 websites include...

Swing State Project
New York Times Election Site
The Caucus

Monday, October 16, 2006


I only thought this was somewhat interesting...

McPherson promises to scrap GST (12:20 p.m.)
Alberta advantage would include an end to the six-per-cent federal tax

Jason Markusoff,
Published: Monday, October 16, 2006

The “Alberta Advantage” should include an end to paying Goods and Services Tax in the province, says Conservative leadership hopeful Gary McPherson.

And even though it’s a federal sales tax, it can be done, he insisted today.

Instead of Albertans paying the six-per-cent GST at the cash register, the Alberta treasury would cover it all through additional cash transfers to Ottawa, according to McPherson’s plan.

“One of the best ways to maintain a vibrant economy in all sectors is to put more money in the pockets of consumers,” he said in a news release.
My question is: isn't this just paying Albertans contribution to the GST through Albertans taxes? So aren't Albertans still paying?

Instead of sending these tax dollars to Ottawa why not make an investment in Alberta itself? There are so many better things that the provincial government could do with that amount of taxpayers dollars. Premier Gary McPherson would be smarter to reinvest that money into Alberta's Post-Secondary Education system and fulfill the Tory Government's promise to give Alberta the most affordable tuition in Canada.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

market nihilism.

I just got back from a wonderful weekend in Red Deer and Calgary. I would just like to give a big shout out to my family who made it to my cousin's wedding on Saturday - it was great to see you all!

Everytime I head off to Calgary, I'm blown away at how fast that city is growing. It's crazy.

Other than the suburbs, it seems that Calgary may be growing "up" as well. EnCana has announced that they will be building the Bow Tower, which is not only massive, but will block out most of the Calgary Tower... (here are the before and after shots...). Following this announcement, it seems like we have a "my johnson is bigger than your johnson" competition going on between EnCana and Imperial Oil, who also want to build a big town in Calgary...

And to end the post on a relative theme, I leave you with this...

Nihilist: We believe in nothing, Lebowski. Nothing. And tomorrow we come back and we cut off your chonson.
The Dude: Excuse me?
Nihilist: I said
Nihilist: "We'll cut off your johnson"!
Nihilist: Just you think about that, Lebowski.
Nihilist: Yeah, your wiggly penis, Lebowski.
Nihilist: Yeah and maybe we stomp on it and squoosh it, Lebowski.
Though it's really not fair to compare The Dude to EnCana or Imperial Oil, I can't help but remember the pictures of all those tarped-up half-built office towers in downtown Calgary following the last oil bust and economic recession in Alberta the 1980's.

I guess the economy is a nihilist.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

leaf is a good cause.

Yesterday morning at 7:30am, I attended the 21st Annual Person's Day Breakfast put on by the Women's Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF). It was a really well attended event with what I would guess as over 200 guests.

The Guest Speaker was former Deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan and the topic was "why aren't more women running for elected office." It was a really interesting talk about the societal, cultural, and structural reasons why women can't seem to break the 20%-25% involvement in electoral politics in Canada, along with some solutions on how to change this.

Other notable folks in attendance include blogging-types Sam, Nicole Martel, Ken Chapman, and many political types including Liberal MLA's Laurie Blakeman (Edmonton Centre), Dan Backs (Edmonton Manning), Bill Bonko (Edmonton Decore), Tory MLA Dave Hancock (Edmonton Whitemud), and NDP MLA want-to-be Rachel Notley (candidate in Edmonton Strathcona). City Councillors Jane Batty, Michael Phair, Karen Leibovici, and Linda Sloan were also in attendance.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

ted morton's first mla endorsement... from a different party. Alberta Alliance leader and MLA Paul Hinman (Cardston-Taber-Warner) is endorsing Ted Morton (Foothills-Rockyview) in the Alberta PC leadership race...

Alliance brass back Morton - Morton, Alliance share aim to unite the right in Alberta


And almost as fast as Ted Morton gains an MLA endorsement, Alberta PC leadership candidate Alana DeLong (Calgary Bow) drops out of the race and endorses front-runner Jim Dinning...

That gives Jim Dinning 34 Alberta PC MLA endorsements... see the full endorsement list here.

all eyes on the yukon.

Though it is clear that Yukon electoral politics are more personality than party based, it is interesting to see the seeming decline of support for the NDP in the Yukon. Though this immediately be tied to the unfortunate situation with NDP leader Todd Hardy undergoing cancer treatment in Vancouver (hence, his inability to campaign full-time during this election period). The shift from NDP Governments (1985-1992 & 1996-2000) to Pat Duncan's Liberals (2000-2002) and then Dennis Fentie's Yukon Party Government (2002-present) is interesting. The Yukon NDP's decline from government to Official Opposition to Third Party status may signify something deeper than a mere decline in seat count.

As well, the delcine of NDP support on a federal level in the Yukon may be along the same lines. Currently represented by Liberal MP Larry Bagnell, the Yukon was represented by NDP leader Audrey McLaughlin from 1989 to 1997, and Louise Hardy from 1997 to 2000 (who is also Todd Hardy's wife).

Does this signal a political shift towards the centre and the right in the Yukon? Or is it mearly a transition back to the Yukon's traditional conservative represenatives (PC MP Erik Neilson represented the Yukon from 1957 to 1987). Or is it just me over analyzing things?

So, with the Yukon Territorial election over with, here is what the new Yukon Territorial Legislature looks like...

Yukon Party MLA's - 10

Dennis Fentie, Watson Lake (NDP MLA 1996-2002)
Brad Cathers, Lake Laberge (first elected in 2002)
Glenn Hart, Riverdale South (first elected in 2002)
Marion Horne, Pelly-Nisutlin (New MLA)
Jim Kenyon, Porter Creek North (first elected in 2002)
Archie Lang, Porter Creek Centre (first elected in 2002)*
Steve Nordick, Klondike (new MLA)
Ted Staffen, Riverdale North (first elected in 2002)
Elaine Taylor, Whitehorse West (first elected in 2002)

Yukon Liberal MLA's - 5
Arthur Mitchell, Cooperbelt (first elected in 2005)
Darius Elias, Vuntut Gwitchin (New MLA - defeated NDP MLA Lorraine Peter)
Eric Fairclough, Mayo-Tatchun (NDP MLA 1996-2006)
Don Inverarity, Porter Creek South (New MLA)
Gary McRobb, Kluane (NDP MLA 1996-2006)

Yukon NDP MLA's - 3
Todd Hardy, Whitehorse Centre (first elected in 2002)
Steve Cardiff, Mount Lorne (first elected in 2002)
John Edzerza, McIntyre-Takhin (Yukon Party MLA from 2002-2006)

*Archie Lang's twin brother, Kent Lang, was MLA for Porter Creek East from 1978-1992.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

yukon, mush!

Busy busy busy... so much going on lately... so much to comment on...

I'll save the rest for now, but most importantly, the Yukon Territorial Election is today!

My prediction...

Yukon Party - 8
Yukon Liberal - 7
Yukon NDP - 3

Premier Dennis Fentie reigns?

I was right on my predictions for the New Brunswick Provincial Election, so let's see how good my political radar is for the great white Yukon...

RESULTS at 10:20pm...


Yukon Party - 10 (40%)
Yukon Liberal - 5 (34%)
Yukon NDP - 3 (23%)


Saturday, October 07, 2006

10,000 trade unionists v. 33 mla's.

With Lyle Oberg in his new role as the now reborn Defender of the Workers, it looks like more Tory MLA's are flocking to frontrunner and Tory dauphin Mr. James Dinning.

Jim Dinning now has the support of 33 Alberta PC MLA's - Ministers Greg Melchin (Calgary North West), George VanderBurg (Whitecourt-Ste. Anne), and Ron Stevens, along with backbench Tory MLA's Janis Tarchuk (Banff-Cochrane), Doug Griffiths (Battle River-Wainwright), and Wayne Cao (Calgary Fort) are now endorsing Jim Dinning.

As much as some of my Tory friends would like to convince me otherwise, it's looking more and more like a complete and utter landslide for Jim Dinning in this race.

Here are the current Alberta PC MLA's endorsements in this race...

Total declared support:
Jim Dinning - 33 MLA's
Ed Stelmach - 7 MLA's
Mark Norris - 2 MLA's
Bob Cantwell - No Declared MLA Support
Alana DeLong - No Declared MLA Support
Victor Doerksen - No Declared MLA Support
Dave Hancock - No Declared MLA Support
Ted Morton - No Declared MLA Support
Lyle Oberg - No Declared MLA Support
Undeclared - 20 MLA's

Click here for the complete Alberta PC MLA endorsement listing...

Friday, October 06, 2006

trade unions buying tory memberships. backdoor fundraising?

This irked me... and it should probably irk the over 48,000 union members who are part of the Council.

The Alberta Building Trades Council has announced that it will be buying and selling 10,000 Alberta PC memberships for Dr. Lyle Oberg.

Assuming that by buying these memberships through a leadership camp, these organizations are only paying $5 per membership (some Alberta PC leadership camps are charging $10 per membership in order to buy a "special card" - translation: %50 donation to the leadership campaign) this money will eventually make it's way in to the coffers of the Alberta PC campaign war chest... why doesn't this bump into some sort of political contribution law?

Here are two examples:

Alberta Building Trades Council - buying 10,000 Alberta PC membership.
10,000 memberships x $5 = $50,000 political donation
10,000 memberships x $10 = $100,000 political donation (50% to the Oberg leadership campaign)

International Union of Painters and Allied Trades - plans to "give away" 2,000 Alberta PC memberships.
2,000 memberships x $5 = $10,000 political donation
2,000 memberships x $10 = $20,000 political donation (50% to a leadership campaign)

There are no laws or any sort of rules regarding what internal-partisan leadership campaigns can raise, but this must bump up in to regular Elections Alberta political contribution limits (which I believe are $15,000 annually outside election periods and $30,000 in election periods).
If not, isn't this simply a backdoor for political fundraising?

Regardless of whether this is happening in the Alberta PC’s, the Alberta Liberals, the Alberta Alliance, or the Alberta NDP - Alberta needs stronger laws regarding how political parties and leadership candidates raise money.

Don't Albertans deserve accountability and transparency?

Don't Albertans deserve to know who is lining political pockets and coffers in their province?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

jumping the margin.

I'm not going to say too much about this, but the difference between 30% of the vote and 9% of the vote is a pretty wide margin...

“We need to give voters in Alberta the faith that their vote can bring about a change,” she says, disagreeing that the Liberals have a better chance of defeating the Tories than her party does.


Yeah, so... the Yukon is having a territorial election on October 18...

It looks like an interesting show...

- Premier Dennis Fentie of the Yukon Party was elected as an Yukon NDP MLA in 1996 and 2000 before crossing the floor in 2002 to join the right-wing conservative Yukon Party. Only weeks after crossing the floor, Fentie became Leader of the Yukon Party and only months after that did he lead the Yukon Party to electoral victory. And he became Premier... (eat your heart out, Belinda Stronach ;-) ).

- Nearly half of the current Yukon Liberal Caucus crossed from the NDP... in February of 2006, NDP Leader Todd Hardy booted longtime NDP MLA's Eric Fairclough (also NDP leader from 2000 to 2002) and Gary McRobb out of the then-NDP Official Opposition Caucus.

Soon after, they both joined Arthur Mitchell's Yukon Liberals, making the Yukon Liberals the Official Opposition... only four years after the Liberals were destroyed in the 2002 election - going from 8 seats to 1 - they were now the Official Opposition.

- Former Yukon Party MLA and Justice Minister John Edzerza left the Yukon Party this year to sit as an Independent MLA. He is now running as a NDP candidate in his riding of McIntyre-Takhini.

Weird... the CBC has a great article about crossing the floor.

Here are the changes since the last election in 2002 and at dissolution...

Yukon Party - 12
Yukon NDP - 5
Yukon Liberal - 1

Yukon Party - 9
Yukon Liberal - 5
Yukon NDP - 3
Independent - 2

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

a tale of two provinces.

Last night, I attended a lecture at the posh Hotel MacDonald. It was the Eighth Annual Western Canadian History Lecture hosted by the Department of History & Classics at the University of Alberta. The two guest speakers included former Saskatchewan Premier Allan Blakeney and Dr. Ray Blake from the Saskatchewan Institute of Public Policy at the University of Regina.

The two topics of discussion were “Reflections on ‘one province:’ Alberta and Saskatchewan 101 years later” and “From Mother’s Allowance to Medicare: Reflections on Canadian Social Welfare Polices From the West.”

It was a very interesting lecture and I have some thoughts…

1. I really wish all lectures (everywhere) were podcast so that I could listen to them again later.

2. Dr. Blake’s observations on the Mackenzie King Liberals implementation of Mother’s Allowance in the 1930’s was a very interesting one.

3. Allan Blakeney spoke quite a bit about the divergence in political direction between Alberta and Saskatchewan over the past 101 years and some of the many reasons for this. Following Premier Blakeney’s speech, someone in the audience brought up a good point that the partisan political divergence between Alberta and Saskatchewan could be seen in the 1921 provincial elections which occurred in both provinces – in Alberta, Henry Wise Wood and the United Farmers of Alberta succeeded in defeating the Liberal Party. In the 1921 Saskatchewan provincial election, an Independent candidates anti-establishment movement sparked which gained over 25% of the popular vote against the incumbent Liberal Party.

One wonders what would have happened to the political culture of the west had the Independent MLA movement achieved victory at the same time an independent mirror movement achieved dominance in its sister province, Alberta.

Monday, October 02, 2006

does god vote?

Ted Morton on the Miracle Channel

"If God was voting -- does God vote? well, sort of -- God does put these people in power... If God were voting, who would He put in power?"
-- the host, introducing our next Premier, Ted Morton.
(Props to DB for the link.)

Sunday, October 01, 2006

look at all these delegates getting elected. that's what happens when you get on the ballot.

Other than still being slightly ticked off about my name mysteriously disappearing from the ballot in the Edmonton Strathcona DSM (a topic which I have a letter written that I shall send off tomorrow), I've been on and off watching the live results from the Federal Liberal leadership race this afternoon...

It's like crack. I can't stop checking it every 10 minutes...

It looks like Michael Ignatieff is solidified his lead with around 30%, with Bob Rae in second at 19%, and Gerard Kennedy and Stephane Dion fighting for third with around 17%. Ken Dryden, Joe Volpe, and Scott Brison are battling it out for fifth place...

DemocraticSPACE has some great coverage of the results...