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Sunday, December 30, 2007

alberta politics in 2007.

Using Alberta political measurements, 2007 was probably the most interesting year in nearly a decade. With a new Premier and shifting political winds, 2007 presented Albertans and political watchers with no shortage of entertainment and material to talk about. In no particular order, here is a short list of what Alberta politics brought forth in 2007:

Notable Ed Stelmach quotes of 2007 -

"Welcome to the Alberta Stampede"

"Mr. Suzuki's comments reflect the unproductive emotional rhetoric and personal attacks that distract from efforts to find constructive solutions."

"I wasn't aware of anybody getting a $1,000 increase"

"There's a lot of push by Quebec and Ontario to do something on interest rates, encourage the governor of the Bank of Canada to increase interest rates."

Biggest missed opportunity of 2007 - Though you'll probably hear Ed Stelmach, Alberta Liberal Leader Kevin Taft, ND leader Brian Mason, and Alberta Alliance leader Paul Hinman claim they came out on top after this debate, no political leader or party was able to capitalize on Alberta's royalty review debate. The brass ring was there for the taking and no one grabbed it before it drifted off.

Most entertaining nomination scandal of 2007 - Craig Chandler's short-lived candidacy for the Progressive Conservatives in Calgary-Egmont.

Shifting winds of 2007 - Calgary-Elbow by-election. Alberta Liberal Craig Cheffins scooped up a win in Ralph Klein's former constituency of Calgary-Elbow in June 2007.

Most ridiculous political quote of 2007 - "I'd choke our premier." Calgary-Elbow Tory by-election candidate Brian Heninger on his working relationship with Tory Premier Ed Stelmach.

Best campaign headquaters of 2007 - Calgary-Elbow PC candidate Brian Heninger.

Most impressive MLAs of 2007- There are a number of MLAs in the Alberta Legislature that have stuck out and impressed me in their performance over the course of 2007. If I have to break it down to three MLAs, the list would include Edmonton-Rutherford MLA Rick Miller, Edmonton-Centre MLA Laurie Blakeman, and Edmonton-Calder MLA David Eggen.

Biggest upset of 2007 - On October 15, 2007, underdog candidate Don Iveson surprised political watchers across Alberta by defeating high-profile Councillor Mike Nickel in Edmonton City Council's Ward 5.

Best political feature articles of 2007 - I have to give credit to Darcy Henton and Jason Markusoff of the Edmonton Journal for their two-part feature article on the ridiculous amount of partisan political patronage under Alberta's 36-year old Progressive Conservative government.

Best media website of 2007 - This one easily goes to CBC Edmonton for their comprehensive website coverage of Alberta's royalty review issue. If you want information on Alberta's royalty review, this is the website for you.

Most creative use of taxpayers dollars in 2007 -
The Alberta Energy and Utilities Board using taxpayers dollars to hire private investegators to spy on rural landowners and their lawyers.
Former Alberta Ambassador to Washington D.C. Murray Smith's $105,000 bonus for quitting 6 months before his contract was to end. The contract was signed by Ed Stelmach when he was Intergovernmental Affairs Minister.

Best political names of 2007 - This is a clear tie between Calgary-Varsity Alberta Liberal MLA Harry Chase and Red Deer-South PC candidate Cal Dallas.

Least work done by a government task force in 2007 - This was a tough one because there seemed to be many provincial government task forces struck and then forgotten in 2007. Tory MLAs Cindy Ady of Calgary-Shaw and Barry McFarland of Little Bow for their $19,000 bonus for their world on the Alberta-Idaho Task Force. It was later admitted by Premier Ed Stelmach's office that:

the task force didn't do much in the end, but they had good intentions and tried to set up meetings with their American counterparts. "Can I show you a report, an agreement, a memorandum, anything? No, I can't. It just isn't there," David Sands said.
Worst political showing of 2007 - This has to be a tie between the Alberta NDP and the Alberta Alliance in the Calgary-Elbow and Drumheller-Stettler by-elections. Brian Mason's NDP gained a stunning 3% and 1% in these two by-elections that were completely based on protesting Ed Stelmach and the state of affordable housing and the environment. Paul Hinman's Alberta Alliance placed a dismal fifth place in Drumheller-Stettler, which is arguably the most rural and conservative constituency in Alberta. Signs of things to come?

Most appropriate quote describing Alberta's political environment - "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

An issue that deserves more attention in 2008 - Democracy in Alberta. The unequal distribution of constituencies between urban and rural Alberta.

As of December 30, 2007, the two-thirds of Albertans who live in urban Alberta are represented by less than half of the seats in the Alberta Legislature. Rural Alberta, with one-third of Alberta's population holds the majority of seats in Alberta's Legislature. This isn't something that will change easily with the large majority of Ed Stelmach's cabinet ministers coming from those very same rural constituencies, but it is a clear and simple question of democracy and fair representation.

Friday, December 28, 2007

china's choking on growth.

Even if you chose not to look at China's record on human rights, there's still some pretty dirty stuff going on in the People's Republic and I'm sure all the Olympic-sized PR and spin won't even begin to touch on these issues come August 2008.

This is why I was glad to see the New York Times publish a great series of articles on China's short-term "green turn" for the 2008 Bejjing Summer Olympics, even though the outlook still looks pretty "grey" for China's water, energy, bio diversity, and air pollution crises.

They have been an interesting read over the past couple weeks and I encourage you to take a look at them before the Beijing Summer Olympics begin in August 2008.

(You may need to register (for free!) to read the articles)

Sunday, December 23, 2007

merry christmas!

I just wanted to wish all my readers a very Merry Christmas and a safe and happy holiday.

Barring something really interesting happening over the next few days, I'm going to be taking a couple days off from the blog world.

In my place, I will leave you with this Christmas classic. Enjoy!

happy holidays from kevin taft and jeanette boman.

A holiday message from Alberta Liberal Leader Kevin Taft and his wife Jeanette Boman.

Friday, December 21, 2007

calgary-montrose blues.

Does anyone want to volunteer on a Tory Constituency Association Board?

You can do it for free and lose your house in the process.

capturing alberta's hot air.

Graham Thomson had some pretty interesting columns this past Wednesday and Thursday as he interviewed Premier Ed Stelmach and Alberta Liberal Leader Kevin Taft for the year-end editions of the Edmonton Journal.

Here is Ed Stelmach presenting his expert knowledge of climate change and his government's strategy to capture it...

One Christmas present I'll give politicians in their year-enders this week is a chance to make their argument without being edited down to a 10-word quote. Here, for example, is Stelmach on the issue of climate change and Alberta's intent to store carbon dioxide emissions underground:

"There's a fair amount of research now -- there's no sense capturing it in a way that it's going to escape. So what is the appropriate geography, or geology, to capture it? So how deep do we have to go? Is it in shallow gas wells or deep gas? Deep oil? Will it make sense to capture that CO2, let's say, in the Redwater field, or do we have to pipe it to Medicine Hat? These are all questions, research that's being done today. Once those decisions are made, then the next step is to build infrastructure, because you have to pipe it to those locations. And the efficiency gains, for instance, in the Redwater fields, if you're sequestering and pressurizing the existing oil and wells, you will then draw much more production out of those wells. So there's rather than creating a new footprint someplace in the province of Alberta, drilling a new gas well, we would of course bring about much better efficiency. Because they say, about 60 per cent of the gas is still in the old wells."

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

less serious...

A little less serious comedic relief care of Cracked...

10 Things Christians and Atheists Can (And Must) Agree On

10. You'll Never Harass the Other Side Out of Existence
9. Both Sides Have Brought Good to the Table
8. Focusing on Negative Examples Makes You Stupid
7. We Tend to Exaggerate About Ourselves
6. We Tend to Exaggerate About the Other Guy
5. Your Point of View is Legitimately Offensive to Them
4. There Are Good People on Both Sides
3. In Everyday Life, You're Not That Different
2. Both Sides Really Do Believe What They're Saying.
1. You Can Do Terrible Things in the Name of Either One
(Found on Nastyboy's blog)

Monday, December 17, 2007

the chanderlistas are marshalling their armies.

Along with Craig Chandler running as an Independent candidate in Calgary-Egmont, the Chandleristas will be following their glorious leader into the battle for social conservative votes in Calgary...

Jim Blake – Running as a Wildrose Party candidate or as an Independent in the Constituency of Calgary Currie.
Sid Helishauer - As an Alberta Alliance Party candidate or an Independent in the Constituency of Airdrie Chestermere.
Harley Shouldice - As an Independent in the Constituency of Calgary North Hill.
David Crutcher – Either as an Alberta Alliance or as an Independent in the Constituency of Calgary Glenmore. David Crutcher will be delivering a message very clearly to the Deputy Premier, Ron Stevens.
Merry Christmas, Ed Stelmach?

more on public radio.

Following my December 6, 2007 post on American public radio, a daveberta reader sent in an additional list of interesting podcasts from south of the 49th...

- Left, Right and Center (KCRW Santa Monica) - American
politics...very good debate.
- le Show (KCRW Santa Monica) - Satire by Harry Shearer. The show is a bit hit and miss but the guy is a genius...
- On the Media (WNYC New York) - My very favorite...
- Washington Week with Gwen Iffel (PBS) - Great for political junkies
- Check out iTunesU, particularly the Stanford, Berkeley, Princeton and Yale sites. They have university lectures on any number of topics and many of them are brilliant...

monday nomination updates!

Couple of nomination updates...

Calgary-Egmont: Craig Chandler and the Chandleristas are marching in full force against Ed Stelmach in Calgary.

“They picked the wrong guy to push aside — they’ve underestimated me every step of the way.” Chandler also announced three of his supporters who also plan to run as independents in the next election.

This includes former Calgary Egmont association president David Crutcher, Concerned Christians Canada national chairman Jim Blake, and Chandler’s campaign manager Harley Shouldice.
Chandler also announced that he'll be launching a human rights complaint and suing the Alberta Progressive Conservatives for at least the $127,000 he spent campaigning to be their nominee.

As an independent candidate, Chandler will face former Calgary Catholic School District Chairperson and Alberta Liberal candidate Cathie Williams and the yet-to-be-chosen Tory

Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview: Former Tory MLA Tony Vandermeer will take on ND MLA Ray Martin and Alberta Liberal candidate Dawit Isaac. Vandermeer was the MLA for Edmonton-Manning from 2001 to 2004. He was recently defeated by Peter Sandhu in the Edmonton-Manning Tory nomination meeting.

Edmonton-Gold Bar: It looks like Alberta Liberal MLA Hugh MacDonald will be facing expected to be nominated ND candidate Sherry McKibben and Tory candidate David Dorward. in the next election. Sherry McKibben served one-year as a Ward 3 City Councillor from 1994 to 1995.

In 1994, McKibben was elected in a by-election after Judy Bethel was elected as Federal Liberal MP for Edmonton-East, but was defeated in the 1995 municipal election by Robert Noce (yes, Robert Noce actually defeated someone during his political career). McKibben then ran in Edmonton-Norwood in 1997 as the ND candidate but was defeated by Alberta Liberal Sue Olsen (Tory MLA Andrew Beniuk was defeated in this election. Beniuk is now a candidate for the Stelmach Tories in Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood).

Hugh MacDonald was first elected as Edmonton-Gold Bar's in 1997 after the retirement of Bettie Hewes (Hewes was the Alberta Liberal MLA for Gold Bar from 1986 to 1997). In 2004, MacDonald was re-elected with 62% of the votes and the second largest margin of victory in that election.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

brt vs. lrt in edmonton.

I got this email the other day on the topic of Edmonton City Council's recent decision to axe Bus Rapid Transit...

30 years after our community was the first in North America to build Light Rail Transit, the city ought to be commended for scrapping the Bus Rapid Transit or ‘Super Express’ plans to focus on future LRT expansion plans. Unfortunately, with an aging demographic, major growth pressures, as well as increasing concerns about our climate and looming fuel price shocks in the years ahead, even the current LRT “fast-tracking” starts to look grossly inadequate for the 21st century.

With BRT gone, and an update to the 9 year old Transportation Master Plan in the works, as well as a forthcoming 30 year growth strategy for the city headed our way, the existing HST plan needs to be drastically updated into a comprehensive, robust and aggressive LRT plan which addresses the challenges that we face. There is little known about the so-called Long Term Comprehensive Public Transportation Strategy that the city is developing now, but in addition to not reflecting the realities above, several things are abundantly clear.

First of all, the current method of studying potential LRT routes is insufficient. Each of the studies are separate from one another, disconnected in a political vacuum. With no plan for how the end system will look or operate, it’s not good enough to place the potential impacts on area residents and vehicular traffic above the long term interests of the city as whole.

Secondly, the new LRT plan must integrate the TMP with our new Municipal Development Plan which proposes three distinct scenarios. Two of them advocate status quo of unlimited sub-urban sprawl for the next 30 years. The only MDP strategy that is economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable is called, the “Compact Growth Scenario 2040”. Not only is it the best option for the city over the long-haul, but it optimizes “smart growth” with Transit Orientated Developments ala` Century Park - a platform component of several recently elected councilors.

Thirdly, the new LRT plan must be a catalyst for regional cooperation and integration. While it may not make sense to build LRT out to St. Albert, Fort Saskatchewan, Sherwood Park, Leduc, Devon, or Stony Plain immediately, planning our corridors to get there eventually does. In the meantime, we can integrate our LRT and TOD’s with regional air and rail nodes, further strengthening the Edmonton region into ‘Port Alberta’.

Finally, if we want to design and build a system which encourages a modal shift, we need to re-analyze the costs and benefits of all potential route alignments for the system as a whole. Ideally this means shifting at least one of the new lines off of the existing track, where timing and scheduling logistics could easily congest the tunnel downtown.

Currently, the north LRT alignment stops short of the Edmonton City Centre Airport. Why not finally close the ECCA and build a massive urban village supported my a NW LRT extension to St. Albert? A separate line could split and follow 97th Street north after stopping at NAIT. South of Kingsway, the two lines could merge and follow an empty corridor to 109th street and St. Joseph’s before hitting MacEwan and Grandin. From there the new line naturally goes SE via the High Level, Garneau, Whyte Avenue, and through Strathcona Junction – where the High Speed Rail could terminate. From there, existing rail corridors lead the way to Argyle and 91st south, before turning east to Lakewood and Mill woods TC via 28th ave. We would need to extend the South LRT to the International in time to close the Municipal Airport, but this could be a great first step before building lines East, West, and South West.

The next leg of the LRT system may not look like this exactly, but we’ve got to be far bolder in how we design and plan for it now. Other cities such as Denver, have invested massively to rapidly expand their LRT in the past. To maximize efficiency, each leg must run as a distinct line from one end of the city to the other, while using existing rail or natural corridors wherever possible to reduce cost, and we need a new plan in 2008 to guide it all. Where there’s a will – and enough cash - there’s a way.

As the capital city of the richest province in the wealthiest of nations, what are we waiting for?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

scattered nomination updates.

The Alberta PCs are holding their nomination meeting in Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview tonight. A Conservative bird informed me that the Tories in Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview were causing a stir a couple of months ago when they threatened to hold a "protest nomination meeting" to protest the PC party's nomination rules.

Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview should be an interesting race and is definitely in the 'one's to watch' column. With NDP MLA Ray Martin running for re-election, he will face a strong challenge from Alberta Liberal Dawit Isaac. Depending who the Tories nominate in Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview, it could get even more interesting. Martin defeated Liberal-turned-Tory MLA Julius Yankowski in 2004. Yankowski was elected as an Alberta Liberal in 1993, but quickly crossed the floor to wilt away in the Tory backbenches until 2004.

Further south, there's the question of what's going on in Calgary-Montrose. It seems that all has been quiet on the Calgary-Montrose front with no Tory nomination meeting schedules for this east Calgary constituency. With Calgary-Montrose Tory MLA Hung Pham (aka the MIA MLA) having ties to those connected with the Ward 10 scandal in the 2004 Calgary municipal election, I'm sure Pham is a caucus member that many Tory MLAs wouldn't miss being associated with. In 2004, various Calgary-Montrose Tories ended up in court after challenger Gus Barron was disqualified from the Tory nomination race.

The ND's have been nominating a flurry of candidates across the province. In the new hotbed of the New Democratic revolution, Tophie Davies will carry the NDP banner against Tory Luke Ouellette in Innisfail-Sylvan Lake. Also in the ND corner, Sidney Sadik was nominated in Edmonton-Decore. Sadik will face incumbent-Alberta Liberal MLA Bill Bonko and Tory candidate and former Catholic School Trustee Janice Sarich.

Also, it looks like the ND's are setting up to nominate an ND-sized big candidate in Edmonton-Gold Bar to take on Alberta Liberal MLA Hugh MacDonald (Janice Melnychuk?). Edmonton-Gold Bar has been one of the strongest Alberta Liberal supporting constituencies since 1986 when former Edmonton City Councillor Bettie Hewes was elected. Hewes served as MLA until 1997, when Hugh MacDonald was first elected. In 2004, MacDonald was re-elected with the second largest margin of victory in the province.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

march of the chandleristas.

Guess who's coming to dinner and bringing his friends...

Craig Chandler tells The Canadian Press that he will still run in Calgary-Egmont, while several of his supporters will run in other ridings as a protest against him being ousted.
Dan has a great post about Paul Jackson's credibility stemming from the Chandler Affair...

Also, as a supporter of democracy and freedom, this lovely email found its way into my email inbox yesterday... wow...
Thursday, January 31, 2008
Blackfoot Inn, 5940 Blackfoot Trail SE Calgary, Alberta
Cost: $120 per plate if you act now!
Call 203-3456 to book your seat(s)… seating is limited!

Dear Supporters of Democracy & Freedom,

As you know Craig Chandler won the nomination for the Alberta Progressive Conservative Party on November 17th in a fair and open election. Craig won with an overwhelming margin; the combined total of the other candidates was not even close. On November 20 th, the PC Association of Alberta (PCAA) informed Craig that his nomination would be reviewed by Premier Ed Stelmach, and the (unelected) executive of the PCAA.

On Saturday December 1st , Democracy was Denied, as Premier Stelmach and the PCAA executive decided to ignore the democratic process and give Craig Chandler the boot. What Premier Stelmach has done is a blatant attack on democracy, freedom of speech, and freedom of religion.

It seems that many Albertans are quite disturbed by all of this.

* CTV Calgary conducted a poll and released the numbers on December 4, 2007. The poll question was: " Should the Tory party pay for Craig Chandler's campaign expenses?" A majority of voters said YES.

* The Calgary Herald conducted a poll and released the numbers on December 6, 2007. The poll question was: " Did the Premier do the right thing in rejecting Craig Chandler as a Tory Candidate? " An overwhelming majority (85.6%) said NO.

Our office has been inundated with phone calls and the support from all across Canada has been massive for Craig Chandler, and the media attention has been intense.

Craig has been interviewed by CBC TV, CTV, City TV, Miracle Channel, Calgary Sun, Edmonton Sun, Edmonton Journal, FFWD, Calgary Sun, Calgary Herald, 660 News, QR77, CBC Radio, Metro News, No Apologies Radio, Freedom Radio, Globe & Mail, WMBI Radio (Chicago Illinois) and many other newspapers and radio stations across Canada. Craig will be writing his side of the situation in several guest columns in Calgary, Edmonton and nationally in the days to come.

The Alberta Progressive Conservative Party in one decision has managed to fracture conservative voters and instigated a mass exodus of voters to the Alberta Alliance Party, the Wildrose Party and even the Alberta Liberals. Social conservatives have been clearly told that there is no home for them in the Alberta Progressive Conservative Party and those who believe in democracy have been shown that the wishes of the people are irrelevant. Ed Stelmach is clearly out of touch with Albertans.

If you care about freedom of speech, freedom of religion and democracy, then you need to attend the Democracy Denied Dinner on Thursday, January 31, 2008. This is not just about Craig Chandler, but is about what we want Alberta to be. Come and meet members and candidates from the Alberta Alliance, the Wildrose Party, Independents and many from the Alberta Progressive Conservative Party who are organizing to insure that Ed Stelmach is not supported in his next leadership review.

What: Democracy Denied Dinner
Date: Thursday, January 31, 2008
Time: 5:30 PM - 6:30 PM (Wine & Cheese) - 6:30 PM - 8:00 PM (Dinner)
Where: Black Foot Inn, 5940 Blackfoot Trail SE, Calgary, Alberta
Cost For WIne & Cheese: $60 per person
Cost For Dinner: $120 per person before December 20th and $160 after
Cost For Entire Evening: $160 per person

Many of you have called our office to ask what happened and why democracy has been denied. Aside from Ed Stelmach being a weak leader, the Alberta Progressive Conservative party has become anti-family and intolerant to people of faith.

Here is the short version of what transpired on the Saturday, December 1, the day Democracy Died in Alberta .

After a 2 and 1/2 hour grill session discussing everything from residency, what property Craig owns, what companies he owns, to his faith, the 45 members of the PCAA Executive and the Premier turned their attacks to a letter written by Steve Boissoin that was initially printed in the Red Deer Advocate in 2002, and the Human Rights complaints (Provincial and Federal) that followed publication of this letter.

In relation to the Alberta Human Rights Commission complaint filed by Darren Lund, it was made clear to the party that Craig did not write the letter and the ruling from the Alberta Human Rights Commission placed responsibility with Rev. Stephen Boissoin and Concerned Christians Canada Inc (CCC), not Craig Chandler. Craig was the CEO of the CCC at the time the letter was printed, but left the organization and sold 100% of his shares in the group two years ago. There is no basis in legal precedence to link Craig to this decision; it is merely convenient for the PCAA and the media to do so.

The Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) decision illustrates that the media and others do not fully understand the process of a settlement in the mediation stage of the Commission. In the mediation stage, the complainant and the respondents have an opportunity to sit down face to face and come to a mutual understanding. Craig, representing the Freedom Radio Network (FRN) and the Concerned Christians Canada Inc (CCC), sat down and came to some agreements. The CHRC merely enforces what is agreed to by the participants. Agreements at this stage are made on the condition that no guilt or innocence is assigned to anyone and this is one of the process's most paramount principles.

Although, Craig represented the CCC and the FRN in these negotiations and agreements, the reason this complaint arose is not because of comments that originated with Craig . Craig merely wrote the apology as a former and current executive of the organizations. He was not the author of these comments. The CHRC complaint by Rob Wells almost entirely related to the letter written by Rev. Stephen Boissoin entitled "Homosexual Agenda Wicked" which was printed in the Red Deer Advocate. Stephen Boissoin was also a guest on the FRN, discussed this letter and the letter was posted on the FRN website. This letter made the national news across Canada and inasmuch as the FRN is a news talk radio program, it was important to have the letter posted as reference material.

Nowhere in the settlement can you find any comments attributed to Craig that are anti-gay. In fact gay guests have participated on two shows with no adverse publicity. You can not find one thing taken in its full context in the complaint where anti-gay statements are attributed to Craig.

Despite Craig being tarred and feathered for something he never wrote, it is important to note that freedom of the press, freedom of speech and freedom of religion are under attack relating to the letter itself and this should concern all people, not just people of faith.

Also it is a sad day when a democratically elected candidate is removed. It just clarifies that the PCAA is a top down party that cares not for what the people want.

When Craig ran for the party he felt it had become complacent and arrogant and he thought we could fight for changes from within, we were wrong.

Craig compared the PCAA to a house that had a strong foundation, a lot of character, located in a good neighbourhood, and merely needed a few renovations. However, as we have seen the foundations of the party are rotten and are structurally unsound and the house needs to be demolished and re-built.

If you care about freedom and you care about democracy, you will be at this dinner. If you are concerned about the massive shift to the left of the PCAA under the back-room rule of Ed Stelmach, then you need to vote for another party at election time. We used to be concerned about vote splitting with the PCAA, but now they have revealed to all that there is no difference between the Ed Stelmach Progressives and the Kevin Taft Liberals. As we said in the Reform Party days… "Liberal, Tory same old story".

Harley Shouldice
Campaign Manager
Committee To Elect Craig Chandler
P: 203-3456

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

ed stelmach gives ed stelmach top marks.

Ed Stelmach has given Ed Stelmach top marks for Ed Stelmach's first year as Premier of Alberta.

ritter loses appeal.

It's been a while since we've heard from Michael Ritter... from today's Edmonton Journal...


EDMONTON - Edmonton businessman Michael Ritter has lost an appeal to have his conviction dismissed for breaching bail by applying for a Belizean passport under a false name.

The 50-year-old former chief legal adviser to the Alberta legislature was sentenced in August 2006 to six months for the bail breach.

He had earlier been sentenced to 10 years for his part in a $270-million US fraud scheme that bilked more than 6,500 investors.

Last month, Ritter's lawyer argued in the Alberta Court of Appeal that the judge who convicted Ritter for the bail breach made a mistake in his analysis of the intent required.

The Crown argued Ritter knowingly applied for a passport under a false name while he was on bail knowing he had been ordered not to.

The passport would have allowed Ritter to flee Canada and avoid possible extradition to the United States on fraud and money-laundering charges.

Alberta's high court ruled Monday the trial judge was correct in assessing the evidence and that Ritter "had knowingly and intentionally" applied for a passport under a false name.
Read more about the Michael Ritter Scandal.

Monday, December 10, 2007

what will $105,000 get you?

Last week, it was revealed that Alberta's former Ambassador to Washington D.C. and Calgary-Varsity Tory MLA Murray Smith was paid $105,000 taxpayer dollars after quiting his job in Washington DC five months early. Smith has been replaced by another former Calgary-Mackay Tory MLA and Minister Gary Mar...

It has also been revealed that after trying to hide the fact, Ed Stelmach signed the 2004 contract that gave Murray Smith the $105,000 payout while Stelmach was Ralph Klein's Intergovernmental Affairs Minister.

Because Alberta's accountable and transparent Progressive Conservative Government obviously has nothing better to do with $105,000 of Albertans money, I've come up with a list to help Ed Stelmach and his Progressive Conservative crew with some ideas.

What would $105,000 buy?

- Approximately 70,000 large double-doubles at Tim Horton's.

- 39 semesters of tuition for an undergraduate Arts or Science student at the University of Alberta.

- 3.5 taxpayer funded Tory Staffer bachelor parties in Las Vegas.

- 262 $400 prosperity rebate cheques...

- 5962 copies of Stephen Colbert's new book I am America (and so can you!) on

- 1179 youth-size winter jackets from Mountain Equipment Co-op.

- +17,000 Subway sandwiches (perhaps for students at inner-city schools?).

- 21 tickets to an exclusive $5,000 per ticket reception with Tory Premier Ed Stelmach.

- +13,000 regular admission tickets to the Montreal Planetarium.

Feel free to add your suggestions...

better uses for $105,000?

The Murray Smith patronage scandal continues as Ed Stelmach has shown his true fiscal conservative credentials.

After refusing to make the contract public, it has been revealed that as Tory Intergovernmental Affairs Minister, Ed Stelmach put his signature on the 2004 sweetheart contract that gave Murray Smith (the former Tory MLA for Calgary-Varsity) a $210,500 annual salary, his car, his Washington apartment and other benefits, and $105,000 after he quit his job as Alberta's Washington Ambassador five months early.

I wonder if Gary Mar is going to get the same deal.

Tax dollars at work, folks.

Also, Tory Finance Minister Lyle Oberg will be packing it in after the next election after apparent clash with Ed Stelmach's elusive 'leadership.' Good riddance?

Saturday, December 08, 2007

dancing with the silver fox.

Apologies for the lack of posts over the past couple days. I spent all day yesterday recovering from dancing up a storm with Tom Olsen at Thursday night's Legislature Press Gallery Christmas Party...

Oberg updates coming soon!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

radio killed the video star.

Since returning to Alberta after spending most of my summer in Quebec, I have found myself near-completely obsessed with American public radio.

With the exception of the tales of Jeb Bartlett's West Wing, William Adama's Battlestar, and certain Robot Chickens I have near completely severed any regular connection that I have the television entertainment world.

Having been a loyal listener of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation since shortly after leaving the womb, I had always believed that Mother Corp was the last bastion of great public radio. But since discovering the great stories that shows from the likes of WBEZ Chicago Public Radio and New York Public Radio have to offer me (check out This American Life and Radio Lab) I am finding myself listening to these podcasts more often than our very own CBC...

Though CBC radio shows of the likes of Ideas, the Current, As it Happens, and Dispatches continue to hold special places in my heart and my listening repertoire (and can all be downloaded), I find myself driven to continue to explore what the amazing public radio south of the 49th has to offer!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

nomination updates and more...

Some nomination updates for your Wednesday afternoon reading pleasure...

- Disavowed Progressive Conservative candidate Craig Chandler is threatening to sue Ed Stelmach's PC party for:

the $127,000 he claims he spent on his campaign to secure the party's nomination in Calgary-Egmont.

And he may run for the seat in the next provincial election as either an independent or for a different party.
It looks like me like Craig Chandler is looking for is a political home to keep him warm and cozy for the holidays. Maybe these guys can help him out...

Calgary-Nose Hill - Len Borowski has been nominated to run for the Alberta Liberals against first-term incumbent Tory Neil Brown.

Edmonton-Strathcona - The PCs have nominated Hughena Gagne. I really don't know any more about Ms. Gagne than that she defeated Whyte Avenue pretty-boy Chad Blake (who demonstrated his impeccable grammar skills here). Gagne will take on already nominated ND Rachel Notley and Green Adrian Cole.

West Yellowhead - Alberta Liberal candidate Lisa Higgerty will take on PC candidate Robin Campbell. West Yellowhead has been known to hold a strong non-conservative base (see: Jasper vs. Banff). From 1989 to 1993 New Democrat Jerry Doyle held the seat. Doyle was defeated by Alberta Liberal Duco VanBinsbergen in 1993 and VanBinsbergen was defeated by Tory Ivan Strang in 1997.

Strang is not seeking re-election this time around. A local rumour has it that nominated Tory candidate Robin Campbell has a little too many NDP connections in his recent past than the local PC establishment can stomach, leaving many local Tories questioning whether they will have the time to give in the next campaign. The NDs have yet to nominate a candidate in West Yellowhead.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

the anti-hawaii.

Sometimes I really wonder why people live this far north.


Sunday, December 02, 2007

sunday: new poll

A new Leger Marketing poll has Ed Stelmach's Tories at 42% (up from 33% in the previous survey), Kevin Taft's Alberta Liberals at 21% (up from 14%), Brian Mason's New Democrats dropping to 6% (from 8%), and the Alberta Alliance at 5%.

Both the Tories and Alberta Liberals have increased support and remain the two major players, but all parties remain below their traditional levels of support, indicating that there is still a lot of work to be done in the run up to the next election. I would be very interested to see how the regional breakdowns of support in the poll flushed out (ie: Edmonton v. Calgary v. rural).

With the up and down fluctuations we've seen in the polls over the past year, it wouldn't be surprising to see support levels shift a couple more times in the run up to and during the next election.

(h/t to Ken Chapman for the news link)

everybody's third choice. one year later.

Today is the one-year anniversary of Ed Stelmach's selection as leader of Alberta's 36-year old Progressive Conservative government (and also a first-anniversary for anniversary for Stephane Dion). On December 2, 2006, Stelmach came from third place to defeat Jim Dinning and Ted Morton in the final weekend of the Alberta PC leadership selection.

Stelmach's year as Tory Premier has been the most shaky the Tories have witnessed in a long time. I could use this post to write about Ed Stelmach's Tories and their many, many missteps and missed opportunities over the past year (the Calgary-Elbow by-election, EUB spy scandal, a damning Auditor General's report, waffling on the royalty review, shutting down debate on Bill 46, taking 4 months to deal with Craig Chandler in Calgary-Egmont, the rest of the Top 10, etc), but instead, I'll wish Premier Stelmach congrats on surprsing many of us by surviving one year.

In conclusion, I will leave you with everyone's favorite theme song from the 2006 Alberta PC leadership race:

Saturday, December 01, 2007

craig chandler: judgment day.

Today is decision day for Craig Chandler.

Today, Ed Stelmach and the Alberta Progressive Conservative Association executive committee will decide the fate of the dually nominated Progressive Conservative candidate in Calgary-Egmont.

As yesterday was this blogger's Birthday (thanks, Blake), I don't think there could be a better present that Ed Stelmach and the Alberta Progressive Conservative Association executive committee could give this blogger than Craig Chandler, Progressive Conservative candidate for Calgary-Egmont.

UPDATE: Ed Stelmach has pretty much done what everyone expected he would do and rejected Craig Chandler's nomination as the PC candidate in Calgary-Egmont. It should be interesting to see what Craig Chandler's next move will be (considering he won the Calgary-Egmont nomination with the support of the large majority of Calgary-Egmont PC members).

Will Stelmach appoint his favorite candidate or let the constituency association hold another nomination meeting?