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Monday, August 20, 2007

it's cozy in there.

If you haven't already, read Sheila Pratt's column from Sunday's Edmonton Journal. It's a great article that takes Ed Stelmach to task for hiring Suncor VP Heather Kennedy as an assistant deputy minister in the Tory Governments oilsands development secretariat. Pratt hits it right on the mark:

"This stinks so badly it makes the toxic lakes on the oilsands mines smell like garden ponds. The worst is that the government doesn't seem to get the potential conflicts staring it in the face.

Something about the fox and the henhouse quickly comes to mind when the job of coming up with public policy to best manage growth around the oilsands is handed over to a current oilpatch executive, even temporarily.

Would you hire agriculture biotech giant Monsanto, purveyor of GM seeds, to run the agriculture department's crop improvement program? Or hire Greenpeace to run the environment department? No, the captains of industry and active lobbyists have their own agendas and it's not always the public agenda.


The treasury department did consult the ethics commissioner about Kennedy's appointment, which is a signal it had a few qualms. Too bad Alberta's ethics report is off limits to the public -- even though it involved a public servant.

Maybe Stelmach doesn't understand the mood in post-Klein Alberta.

People voted for him -- and against Jim Dinning -- partly because they were unhappy about the cosy relationship between business and government, because they thought the oilpatch had too much influence and they wanted a change.

Well, now they've got the oilpatch in the senior civil service.

This controversy was totally unnecessary if the government had thought for one moment about it.

There's no lack of smart people in this province to do the jobs. But there's shortage of good political judgement in Stelmach's cabinet.
Kennedy's appointment comes on the heels of another business cozy controversy in Stelmach's Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville riding. The Fort Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce attempted to organize a $300 per person fundraiser where half the funds would go to Stelmach's Constituency Association. The breaks were put on the fundraiser only after a frontpage story and editorial in the Sturgeon Creek Post called on the Chamber to halt its partisan hackery. Dave Truscott is the editor of the Sturgeon Creek Post:
"...there is a time and place for political support, and the Chamber of Commerce is not that place. As a long time member and support of the Chamber I must protest..."

" support a whole party or a candidate would be a mistake even if it were not against the bylaws. Governments and candidates come and go. The Chamber of Commerce represents something more enduring. It must be prepared to deal with whoever is in office."

"I have to add that there is also something very wrong with paying so high a fee to get the ear of our premier. This smacks very much of bribery..."
Chamber of Commerce by-laws are supposed to assure that all Chambers are apolitical, non-partisan, and are not to support any political candidates.

It looks like Ed's making Jim happy.


Anonymous said...

Ordinary Albertans don't care about this stuff. Is the economy running well? Yes. Are taxes low? Reasonably enough, although there's room for improvement. Are we making more money than we've ever been before? A resounding yes.

The collusion between business and government is not some scary evil reality that you and your leftwing freakshow friends make it out to be. Did it ever occur to you that Kennedy got the job because she's the best person in the field to do it? Her expertise, her education, her ties within the business community will help steer the province towards the pro-growth formula that has served us well since the dawn of King Ralph's reign.

Businesses get results for investors and shareholders. Its time we hold government to the same high standard by incorporating the best aspects, skill, and expertise of the private sector.

Ignore the doubting Davids, Mr. Premier.

Anonymous said...

"severly normal albertan" = severly normal member of the alberta pc party.

Anonymous said...

When one of the main columnists in the Edmonton Journal and the editor of a newspaper in Stelmach's riding are calling the Tories on BS like this, this is more than the normal Brian Mason banter from the left. Sheila Pratt is correct, there is a change in the mood of Albertans in post-Klein Alberta. It was reflected in the PC leadership race, it was reflected when the Liberals won Calgary Elbow, it has been reflected in Stelmach's sliding in the polls. Peter Lougheed should be proud because the dynasty that he once defeated has showed up again and is looking to be defeated once again. And the cycle continues...

Anonymous said...

The fundraiser is still being cohosted by the PC association, just the funds are going to the CoC and the local hospital fund. Doesn't this mean the local chamber is still breaking its own bylaws?

BR said...

Sheila Pratt is a typical Strathcona-type lefty columnist who really doesn't understand the workings of business or government and, like most columnists, should refrain from commenting on either.

I had the chance to work alongside Heather Kennedy when we were both members of the Fort McMurray Public Library board (one of Heather's MANY community volunteer positions). Anyone, including Sheila Pratt, who would have you believe that Heather Kennedy is just some corporate oil hack is sorely mistaken.

The Stelmach government has landed a gem and the taxpayers of Alberta will quickly see this once Heather gets to work.

I'll get the crow ready for Sheila and the rest of her left wing liberal buddies to eat...

Anonymous said...

Sheila Pratt, as BR argues, is NOT a real Albertan, and should only be considered a member of the radical fringe minority who, without the skills and perserverance to make it in today's red-hot Alberta economy, are forced to snipe jealously from the sidelines at those of us who have been successful. Kennedy is a fine choice. She'll serve the private sector and the people of Alberta well in pushing forward pro-business, pro-growth policies that will move our province forward.

Only a loony liberal would think that Kennedy's appointment is at all scrupulous.

Anonymous said...

This is about optics, and though it is clear that Heather Kennedy is a great lady it is still a bad decision to employ her under this arrangement.

Eddie just doesn't have a lick of political judgement.

I miss Ralph.

James L. said...

Didn't Ralph do this sorta thing often? I mean, not necessarily appointing oil execs to high-level positions in the civil service dealing directly with the oilsands (though I wouldn't be surprised)--which is a totally George Bush/Dick Cheney-style move of getting a fox to guard the henhouse--but of generally having too cosy a relationship with big business? Like skipping part of the legislative session to go fishing with oil execs.

Anyway, there are some serious lunatics in this thread. Brushing off the criticism of an "Strathcona-type" as not coming from a "REAL Albertan"?? What the hell is wrong with you people?

Anonymous said...

That's political discourse in Alberta. "Ordinary Albertans don't care about this stuff" would be laughed out of any other jurisdiction. And, yeah, BR seems to have turned into a blind partisan hack.

It doesn't matter if Kennedy is a nice lady who saves baby kittens and reads to orphans while serving meals to seniors. Nor are her qualifications really in question. It's about accountability and about what could be a conflict of interest.