this blog has moved to a new address:

Please update your RSS, bookmarks, and links to

Wednesday, February 28, 2007


First of all, I would just like to say that I was very glad to see The Departed emerge victorious during last weekend's Academy Awards as Best Picture and Best Director for Martin Scorsese. Well deserved.

If you've noticed a break between posts, it has everything to do with the other stuff I keep myself busy with in my other life. I'm actually the campaign manager for a campaign of which I will not mention here. Ask me on March 9.

I'm looking forward to the upcoming Spring session of the Alberta Legislature. Just as I was excited when Alberta Liberal Leader Kevin Taft announced an aggressive legislative agenda in the face of the "Conservative oppositon" as Taft called the Stelmach Tories, my good friend Duncan seems just as excited about Stelmach. It should be interesting to see how the session plays out. Rookie Premier, rookie Ministers, new dynamic within the Tory caucus. Power politics at play. Does the opposition smells blood? All-party committees? Two upcoming by-elections!

Will Alberta be raised to the level of legislative democracy shared by such beacons of democracy as the Republic of Vanuatu and the Federated States of Micronesia? We shall see.

Also, on another note, municipal politics are heating up in Edmonton as Councillors and Councillors-to-be are buying new walking shoes and warming up their campaign engines for an October 2007 election...

Yes. I've finally caved and bought a domain name.

It's just being forwarded, so still works fine.

If anything, I can just sell it in a couple months and make at least $15 bucks.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

clint had a point?

"Money is like manure. If you spread it around, it does a lot of good; but if you pile it up in one place, it stinks like hell." - Clint Murchison
How fitting...
Tax revenue and investment income lift Alberta's surplus to $7 billion

Spending unchanged from second quarter forecast
Third Quarter Fiscal Highlights
* Revenue is $36.6 billion, an increase of $1.5 billion from second quarter forecast
* Expense is $29.7 billion, a decrease of $40 million from second quarter forecast
* The surplus is forecast at $7 billion, an increase of $1.5 billion from second quarter forecast

Edmonton... Strong business profits and returns in world equity markets are bolstering the province's bottom line in 2006-07, as reported in the Government of Alberta's 2006-07 Third Quarter Fiscal Update. Revenue is now forecast to be $4.2 billion higher than budgeted, increasing the forecast surplus to $7 billion.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

mmm. gold bars.

So... some excitement in Edmonton...

[David] Suzuki said Friday in Calgary that if the premier "doesn't realize not doing anything about greenhouse gases is going to wreck the economy," he doesn't deserve to be a leader, according to a story in the Calgary Herald.

Alberta needs to ease up on oilsands development until industry catches up with more efficient ways of extracting energy, Suzuki said.

Stelmach hit back on Saturday. "Tackling the issue of greenhouse-gas reduction will require more than hot air and grandstanding."
I agree. It will take action, from our politicians like Stelmach... which we have yet to see any... Stelmach continued...
"Mr. Suzuki's comments reflect the unproductive emotional rhetoric and personal attacks that distract from efforts to find constructive solutions."
Well, I'm sure if our political leaders were actually looking for and enacting "constructive solutions" there would be much less "emotional rhetoric" floating around.

I wonder if Mr. Stelmach has seen Al Gore's now Oscar Award winning Inconvenient Truth?

Thursday, February 22, 2007

thursday update.

A couple of things...

- I presented to Alberta's Affordable Housing Task Force yesterday afternoon in Edmonton. The committee will be traveling Alberta to listen to Albertans thoughts and recommendations on how to solve the affordable housing crisis until February 28. Task force members include MLA's Len Webber (Calgary Foothills), Bruce Miller (Edmonton Glenora), and Ray Martin (Edmonton Beverly-Clareview) and Edmonton City Councillor Karen Leibovici. See here for the hearing locations and dates.

- Alberta Liberal Leader Kevin Taft delivered an alternative Speech from the Throne Tuesday night at the Royal Museum in Edmonton. Fresh from the release of Taft's new book Democracy Derailed, last nights event was a packed affair with hundereds of Albertans crowding the theatre to hear what Taft had to say. It was a positive speech and gave Taft the oppurtunity to present his team of MLA's and candidates along with a positive vision for Alberta's future. Taft also focused on the need for action to be taken on environmental issues in Alberta.

Though it will be an uphill battle for the 15 MLA caucus, Taft outlined the Alberta Liberal Caucus' legislative agenda for the upcoming Spring Session which will include a number of Bills including a Sustainable Communities Act, a Consumer Advocate Act, a Child Care Accountability and Accessibility Act, a Restriction on School Fees and Fundraising Act, and legislation that would strengthen water resource management, review gaming in Alberta, require health impact assessments for major government initiatives, and reverse laws designed to hide the results of internal audits for 15 years.

It's a very interesting twist in Alberta politics how the Alberta Liberals are attempting to turn the tables on the seemingly disorganized Stelmach Government in terms of presenting a strong and united vision for what road Alberta should take.

- Looks like Quebec is off to the polls on March 26.

- I'm off to the wild border city of Lloydminster for the day today (hopefully those rowdy Saskatchewanites won't be too much of a worry).

Friday, February 16, 2007

hot potato, hot potato.

A little less serious than my previous post, but I found this too funny not to share. Enjoy.

Happy Family Day long weekend to all those lucky Albertans out there.

To the rest of you, enjoy Monday at work. :-)

wente way off the mark.

Here's a letter that I emailed to the Globe & Mail yesterday...

Margaret Wente's column yesterday has bought, hook line and sinker, the argument from McGill Principal Heather Munroe-Blum: low tuition is bad because it doesn't help people from marginal socioeconomic groups access post-secondary, and it hurt education quality.

The argument misses the point entirely: the question is, is Education a public good or a private good? Primary and secondary schooling is an undisputed public good, and post-secondary is still something of a public good to the extent that it is still somewhat publicly funded; however, post-secondary education being privatized right under our noses in the sense that quality post-secondary is increasingly the exclusive domain of the socioeconomic elite.

Consider the popular argument that lowering tuition would represent a subsidy to wealthy students (and their families) who can already afford to attend — the heart of this argument is an admission that the elite are over-represented, which should itself be a point of serious concern. However, it also ignores the disparate reality that there are a lot of students (let's say at least the half who emerge with student debt) who struggle to make ends meet and are thus distracted from their studies.

The result is a kind of three-tiered education environment: there are those who can afford to study without financial stress, there are those who can afford to study but only under the condition of financial stress (which is a significant disadvantage), and then there in the third group are people of more than ample aptitude who have written off post-secondary out of aversion to financial stress.

Economists like to say that price sends a strong signal: so far this debate seems to have focused on the notion that high tuition is required for high quality, but the flip-side of this argument is the signal high tuition is sending to young people: 'higher learning isn't for everyone, this is just for the best of the best.' In this sense, it is a question more of values than of value: do we want to distributed advanced learning primarily among the elite, or do we want to make it accessible to all Canadians on a level financial playing field, with room for everyone who is qualified?

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

tick, tick, tick.

It looks like the Calgary Herald's new provincial affairs columnist isn't turning out to be the lapdog that his *predecessor* was:

The clock is ticking on Honest Ed's regime
The Calgary Herald
Don Braid

Is our new premier Honest Ed, Steady Ed or (as some are cruelly asking) Special Ed?

The voters don't know, but Premier Stelmach had better provide some answers soon or his drifting interlude could become a tailspin to fading polls.

So far, it's as if the province is on a blind date with Ed. After an hour he hasn't thrown up on our shoes or made a grab for the goodies. So far so good -- but is there really any chance of a lasting union?

New leaders have about three months to plant a vivid image in the minds of voters. If they fail, opponents will draw the picture for them, and it won't be pretty. Stelmach, sworn in last Dec. 14, has a month left.
Also, Paul Jackson has an predictably alarmist peice on why Premier Ed Stelmach needs to be ready just in case Stephane Dion and his scary Federal Liberals regain power in Ottawa...

Monday, February 12, 2007

dream team.

Did anyone else listen to The Current on CBC Radio One this morning? Waking up to the voices of David Suzuki and Stephen Lewis was quite a nice way to start the week on February 12, 2007.

The David Suzuki Foundation has launched a cross-Canada "If you were Prime Minister..." tour to engage Canadians on Environmental issues. The tour kicked off in St. John's, Newfoundland on February 1 and will be in Edmotnon on February 24!

Edmonton -- Saturday, Feb. 24, 2007 -- Evening Event
7:30pm -- Horowitz Theatre, University of Alberta, Students' Union Building, 8900 114 Street
Tickets: $15 regular and $10 low income
Tickets available at:
Earth's General Store: 10832 - Whyte Avenue (upstairs, above Gordon Price Music store)
Audrey's Books: 10702 Jasper Avenue
Parkland Institute website (mail-in/fax-in order form)
For more info, contact:
The Parkland Institute

Friday, February 09, 2007

the mooninites strike again...

This is clearly one of the dumbest things I've EVER heard...

Cartoon Network chief resigns following ad stunt

The head of the Cartoon Network has resigned following a recent marketing stunt that caused a bomb scare across Boston last week.

Jim Samples, the Cartoon Network's executive vice president and general manager, said Friday he felt "compelled to step down, effective immediately, in recognition of the gravity of the situation that occurred under my watch."

Dozens of electronic signs like this one, which was hung beneath an overpass in Boston, sparked the bomb scare.

u of a day of action = great success.

The February 7 Day of Action at the University of Alberta was a success with hundreds of students showing up to send a message to the University Aministration and the Provincial Tory Government about the importance of keeping education affordable!

The great speakers included Avi Lewis from the CBC's The Big Picture and Larry Booi from Public Interest Alberta! You can check out the rally and speeches on YouTube here and here.

Students were joined by a number of political folks including Liberal Advanced Education & Technology Shadow Minister Maurice Tougas (Edmonton Meadowlark) and his fellow Alberta Liberal MLA's Mo Elsalhy (Edmonton McClung), Hugh MacDonald (Edmonton Gold Bar), and Bharat Agnihotri (Edmonton Ellerslie). Alberta NDP MLA Ray Martin (Edmonton Beverly Clareview) attended along with Edmonton Strathcona Federal NDP candidate Linda Duncan and Edmonton Strathcona Provincial NDP candidate Rachel Notley.

I have to say that it was pretty cool seeing that many students show up to send a message about the need for greater affordability. Also, going out for dinner and drinks with Avi Lewis and some friends later that evening was pretty cool too.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

democracy derailed.

“With political change so rare, one-party politics has become entrenched in Alberta. The forces that drive political change in other jurisdictions – the legislature, public inquiries, interest groups, opposition parties, the media, and so on - have adapted to this reality in order to cope, or have been deliberately gutted, or have simply deteriorated to the status of a sideshow. As a result of this one-party dominance, democracy in Alberta has been pushed off the rails. It’s time to get it back on track.”
This is how Alberta Liberal Leader Kevin Taft finishes the introduction of his new book “Democracy Derailed: The Breakdown of Government Accountability in Alberta – and How to Get it Back on Track.” I’ve had the chance to read through an advanced copy of the book and I have some thoughts as it is released today.

Democracy Derailed covers a wide range of political and ethical transparency and accountability issues in Alberta’s long-time Tory-dominated political scene. Throughout the 110-page book, Kevin Taft recounts his experiences as an MLA and leader of the Official Opposition in dealing with Alberta’s democratic deficit as well as presenting positive solutions on how to make democracy better in Alberta.

The issues addressed in the book range from Alberta’s lack of whistle-blower protection for public servants and the devolution of power from the elected Legislative Assembly to the lack of power held by Alberta’s Auditor General and the irresponsible use of FOIPP legislation to block opposition research and the lack of resources allotted to Opposition Caucus Offices in Alberta compared to those allotted to the PC Members Caucus and opposition caucuses in other provinces.

One of the interesting facts that Taft highlights is the lack of power held by Alberta’s Public Accounts Committee:
“Alberta’s Public Accounts Committee can meet once a week only when the legislature is sitting, which is all of three months per year. During approximately a dozen 90-minute meetings, the committee must review the spending of 24 provincial government departments with a combined budget of $24 billion.

That’s not all. Unlike the federal Public Accounts Committee, Alberta’s Public Accounts Committee cannot submit a report to the legislature. Legislators outside of Alberta find this restriction hard to fathom. Conservative Member of Parliament John Williams said “It’s shocking. I cannot believe a government majority would use their capacity to set the rules like that.””
According to Taft, underlying many of these problems is the near merger between the Government of Alberta and the Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta (which formed government in 1971). This is problem which would occur after any political party has governed for over 30 straight years. Examples Taft uses include the appointments of partisan Tories as elections officials, the Calgary Ward 10, Kelley Charlebois, and Alberta Securities Commission scandals, the partisan nature of the Public Affairs Bureau, and the fluid movements of Rod Love and Peter Elzinga through Government, business, and the PC Party.

The book is also complemented by a website ( which includes links and pdf documents sited in the book (such as Ralph Klein’s infamous plagiarized Chile paper), along with an online interactive message board and an online quiz.

The timing of the book is probably better than Taft and the Alberta Liberals had originally planned. With new and untested Tory Premier Ed Stelmach still learning the ropes, a March/April 2007 sitting of the Legislature, and a potential Fall 2007/Spring 2008 provincial election, Democracy Derailed will hopefully raise some much needed attention and debate on some serious problems facing democracy in Alberta.

Monday, February 05, 2007

avi lewis at u of a day of action!

On February 7 from 12pm to 1pm in front of University Hall, University of Alberta students will be sending a strong and united message to the Alberta government to "Reduce the Fees." Tuition fees are preventing many Albertans from accessing the education they need. With Alberta's wealth, investment in education is the way forward.

As the U of A Board of Governors just last week raised Tuition Fees by 3.3% and Residence Rent by 10%, February 7 is the perfect opportunity to send a strong message about the affordability of post-secondary education to the Alberta government as the Premiers meet via teleconference on Feb 7 through the Council of the Federation, as the Alberta Legislature begins sitting on February 26, and as the provincial and federal governments create their 2007 budgets this spring!

Now is the time to send a strong message!

It's going to be a great time and will include:
- Speakers include:
*AVI LEWIS! from CBC's The Big Picture!
*Students' Union President Sam Power
*LHSA VP Janelle Morin
*Larry Booi from Public Interest Alberta, and more!
- FUN MUSIC, petitions, postcards!
- And a special appearance by Stephen Colbert's *ON NOTICE* BOARD!

It's going to be an exciting event, so I show up and be counted!

This event is being organized by the University of Alberta Students' Union.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

eggs with your favorite grit.

Here's a free pitch for one of my favorite MLA's...

Have Eggs With Your Favorite Grit Friends of Laurie Blakeman invite you to attend a vitally important re-election fundraiser

Bring your friends and family for a scrumptious brunch
by one of Edmonton’s most popular caterers

Bring your chequebook and bid on some fabulous items like a Peter Field ‘Chicken’ painting, a cooking class with Gail Hall, theatre subscriptions, and other fun stuff at the
Sunny-Side-Up Silent Auction

Sunday, February 11, 2007
12-3 pm
St. Andrews Centre
12720-111th Avenue
Tickets: $35.00

Tables of 8: $245.00

TICKET PURCHASES: Sarah at 886-1588 or
Deanne at 452-1338 or

Sponsored by the Friends of Laurie Blakeman

Thursday, February 01, 2007

ignignokt and err strike again!

I have to say that this is one of the greatest and most bizarre stories I've ever heard...

Two held after ad campaign triggers Boston bomb scare
POSTED: 1447 GMT (2247 HKT), February 1, 2007

BOSTON, Massachusetts (CNN) -- Authorities have arrested two men in connection with electronic light boards depicting a middle-finger-waving moon man that triggered repeated bomb scares around Boston on Wednesday and prompted the closure of bridges and a stretch of the Charles River.

Meanwhile, police and prosecutors vented their anger at Turner Broadcasting System Inc., the parent company of CNN, which said the battery-operated light boards were aimed at promoting the late-night Adult Swim cartoon "Aqua Teen Hunger Force."
We are the mooninites and our culture is advanced beyond all that you can possibly comprehend with 100% of your brain...