this blog has moved to a new address:

Please update your RSS, bookmarks, and links to

Thursday, March 26, 2009

getting what you pay for.

Elections Alberta (during 2008 election campaign)... $9.4 million

Office of the Auditor General... $21.5 million
Re-branding Alberta ("Freedom to Create. Spirit to Achieve")... $25 million

UPDATE: In retrospect, perhaps this post would be better summed up as:

The $25 million public relations campaign is an exercise in spin. I am proud to be Albertan, but I wish our elected officials would not have to rely on high-priced public relations consultants as a crutch to manage Alberta's identity. I wish for an Alberta where our elected officials had the courage to lead by and defend Alberta's national and international reputation through the strength of their actions. Alberta is an incredible province, with some incredible people, but the institutional mediocrity that has crept into our democratic culture has stymied our limitless potential. Alberta in 2009 is a great place to live, but it has the potential to be so much better.


Anonymous said...

Is this a post, or a math exercise? While i understand you probably believe the rebranding is pointless, at least make the numbers relevant by pointing out the $25 million budget is over three years.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget this one: Alberta health superboard gives itself 25% raise despite deficit

Anonymous said...

"Board members of Alberta Health Services will pocket a 25 per cent pay increase after formally approving their own raise Wednesday, sparking controversy about whether the additional compensation is justified given the super-board's massive deficit.

At a meeting in Red Deer, the 15-person board unanimously finalized a raise approved by government, boosting their honoraria to $50,000 annually for the part-time job. Members also receive$750 for each board meeting.

The honorarium for chairman Ken Hughes will be $75,000 annually, plus a$1,000-per-meeting payment.

When the province set compensation for the interim board last June, members were paid $40,000 a year, while Hughes took home$60,000 to head the board that oversees Alberta's $8.5-billion health system."

b_nichol said...

Freedom to Create Spirits to Achieve.
Isn't that the moonshiners' credo?

And why not "Freedom to Achieve. Spirit to Create"
or "Freedom of Spirit. Create to Achieve"
or any other loopy, meaningless, feel-good buzzwords some marketing agency can put together for $25mil.

"It's worth more than the $25 million," said Stelmach of the rebranding. "We're protecting a $40-billion revenue stream."

How so, Ed?

Anonymous said...

Albertans don't need government to tell them what they stand for.

Bob McInnis said...

Our $260 billion gdp doesn't happen organically. It requires PR. I believe that on this one the government has spent our resources well.
There will always be naysayers about content or naysayers just b/c they don't have anything concrete to offer or naysayers b/c of partisan connections.

As for the 25% increase at Health superboard - it is for sure bad optics but I haven't found enough information to determine if it is a bad decision.

Anonymous said...

I don't agree with you often, Dave, but you're right on this one. I too am sick of all the spin in this province. It's always about spinning your way out of responsibility rather than taking action.

It's why I don't vote. Why bother? They all end up being crooks in the end.

Anonymous said...

I think that this is a humble investment in protecting our extremely high provincial GDP ($74k per capita), which leads the country and much of the western hemisphere. This is not just about Spin to Alberta's. It's about creating an image of Alberta globally that inspires investment, credibility, and tourism.

The $8M per year is a drop in the bucket. By comparison the City spends nearly $13M per year funding economic development, who themselves have an annual budget of nearly $45M

Alberta's pride in ourselves is simply a nice side-affect.

Anonymous said...

I find it hard to believe that investors will respond to such a meaningless slogan. It seems to be trying to say we are still in business. The old one was more direct, though. What I find baffling is the corporate model the government takes to running the province. If we were all shareholders of some kind of Alberta stock, I'd feel better about it, but we are not. Is the 25 million worth it? I don't know... it seems unnecessary for a political/geographic entity to market itself like a product. It makes Alberta into a commodity to be bought or sold. As an Albertan it makes me feel cheap. We are more than Wal-Mart.

Anonymous said...

Anon, what do you mean "Corporate Model". Are you suggesting a big camp-fire and kumbaya singalongs to market ourselves through word of mouth?

Anonymous said...

daveberta doesn't like it, the media don't like it. that's a surprise. they must be in tears and shock over at the premier's office....

Anonymous said...

"They all end up being crooks in the end." (Anonymous 12:20). My whole life they've been conservatives. Let's at least try voting for someone else. If we end up with more opposition MLAs and dare I say NDP MLAs specifically maybe we can hold them to task or maybe even form a minority government where we can have real accountability. I strongly urge you to consider voting next time.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Moe. When you, Larry and Curly are done smoking dope and come back to earth, maybe you'll notice that your friends in the NDP aren't exactly paragons of honesty and virtue. Who has the loosest election financing rules in the country? BC and Saskatchewan, of course, put in place by NDP governments to allow their union buddies to shovel tonnes of cash at them. Maybe you've been following the court case in BC where one of the key NDP organizers gave testimony about how the unions and the BC NDP used to coordinate advertising strategies. Of course, the Ontario Liberals and the "Coalition for Working Families" proves that Liberals aren't exactly lily-white either. Accountability, my ass.

Blogger 17845 said...

Elections Alberta -9.4million

Office of the Auditor General
-21.5 million

"Rebranding Alberta"-25 million

Being a Petrostate that spies on its own citizens, ignores public consultations or outright refuses to negotiate with the public over major decisions affecting their lives, encourages temporary foreign wage-slaves over immigration and is the only government in the Western world to change laws retroactively- Priceless

Anonymous said...

Elections Alberta $9.4 million

Office of the Auditor General $21.5 million.

Re-branding Alberta $25 million

Responsible and effective Government of the people --- Priceless

For all over things at least you have the Hertaige Savings Trust Fund *** oops sorry you don't have enough.

lesson here, you get the government you did not vote for.

Anonymous said...

The $25m over 3 year branding campaign and the city's spending on economic development is not a valid comparison. The province's primary "economic development" spending, across multiple departments, isn't included in this $25m. And if you were to include all the supplementary, supporting work for the branding that will happen inside departments, the total cost would increase substantially I bet.
A couple of points, governments do need to help position their city/state/province/country in a competitive global climate. Even investments in health, education and infrastructure are critical for private sector competitiveness. Nothing wrong with that. I'm not a huge fan of the tagline, but I don't dispute that the effort is needed. However, it would be nice if this public support was acknowledged and the companies (and people) that benefit squawk a little less about taxes (or royalties). The disingenuous whining of the big players in the oilpatch in particular is sickening.
Second, against this backdrop it is troubling (though not surprising) that the Tory government orders their MLAs to squeeze the Auditor General. The AG oversees, on behalf of all taxpayers, a budget of nearly $40 billion. "Finances are tight so we'll limit the budget of the only independent agency with a mandate to identify waste and mismanagement." Really? A few extra million would be a good investment. Even conservatives should see through this move.

rc said...

I have to admit that it's kind of cute that the PCs found $25 million bucks to burn for "rebranding" the province with a vague new slogan and whimsical watermark image. But I guess that nobody cutting the cheques for this effort learned much of anything from Manitoba's rollout of the "Spirited Energy" campaign, a few years ago....

Fact is, that it's actual policy and not bumper stickers that will drive public perception. And it's a bit odd that Ed Stelmach thinks a PR campaign is, somehow, going to insulate Alberta from the global financial calamity.

Those who can, do. Those who can't, change the drapes.