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Sunday, April 11, 2010

this blog has moved: please update your rss and links.

Five years and two months since this blogger blog was born, I have finally taken the big step of migrating my blog to a new home. As of yesterday afternoon, daveberta will be hosted on on a Wordpress blog. This change has been a long time coming and will be a work in progress over the upcoming weeks.

If you are currently using in your RSS feed, please update to the new RSS feed for this new site. Also, if you are linking to from your blog or website, please update the link to I will no longer be posting on this blogspot blog, so make sure to read for new posts.

A big thanks to Duncan and Adam for their technical expertise and sage advice in helping make this move a reality.

Thank You!

Friday, April 09, 2010

Thursday, April 08, 2010

video: premier ed stelmach at the university of alberta.

Premier Ed Stelmach spoke to an audience of over 300 staff and students at the University of Alberta this afternoon at an event hosted by the Campus Conservative Club. I have seen Premier Stelmach speak on a number of occasions, and though public speaking is not his gift, this afternoon was not his best performance. I have to admit that even as I was video recording the Premier's speech, my mind wandered to other things like, what should I eat for lunch this afternoon?

It was a fairly unremarkable twenty minute speech and Premier Stelmach used most of his time justifying decisions that his party has made in government over the past three years. He did make some interesting comments, including criticizing the Province of Quebec for the amount of transfer payments that they collect and their low university tuition (see the third video). The Premier also made an interesting comment made about "the previous Premier" when referring to former Premier and gameshow host Ralph Klein.

Feel free to watch the videos, and if you are able to get through the entire twenty minutes, let me know what you think.

global edmonton embargoed over budget tweets.

Many Edmontonians who use Twitter might have noticed that Global Edmonton News anchor Lynda Steele recently deleted her Twitter account @lyndasteele. Ms. Steele was an avid and engaged contributor on Twitter and I assumed that her departure was caused by a loss of interest or time management issues. It turns out that her account may have been shut down because of four 'tweets' that were sent between 3:16m and 3:17pm on Tuesday, February 9, 2010 and were related to the provincial budget that was under a media embargo until 3:20pm.

A letter written by Public Affairs Bureau Manager Lee Funke to Global Edmonton explains the repercussions:

A breach of an embargo of any kind is a breach of trust. That is has to do with subject matter that can have market implications makes it all the more serious a matter. The Government of Alberta's budget embargo rules for media are extremely permissive relative to those of the federal government and some other provinces. In exchange for this flexibility, government asks only that media agree to respect the rules of the embargo.

Global Edmonton breached that agreement. In light of the fact that this is the second budget embargo breach in three years by an Alberta media outlet, we must now consider more severe restrictions on the entire media corps for future budgets and simmer events, including a strict lockup where electronic devices are removed.
The media outlets that are given access to the budget documents before they are officially released have agreed to the embargo on reporting information. The budget is one of the most important centre pieces of a government's governing, political, legislative, and communications strategy, so it is no surprise that they would react this way towards Global Edmonton (CBC Calgary found themselves in a similar situation in 2008). Having attended each budget announcement (or the Rotunda scrums afterward) since 2003, it is a big event that government and opposition politicians, business groups, and public interest groups craft many of their main messages around.

The question is: why does this embargo breach need to result in more severe restrictions on the entire media corps? Perhaps our government placing too much importance on the budget embargo, and even the actual budget speech. Do these breaches prove that more restrictions are needed or that perhaps the Public Affairs Bureau and their political master need to examine their role as communicators with less of a focus on 'command and control' and more of an open 21st century attitude.

(For more on the role of the Public Affairs Bureau, read this exert from Kevin Taft's 1997 book Shredding the Public Interest)

col. donald ethell is alberta's new lieutenant governor.

Lieutenant Governor Norman Kwong's replacement is expected to be announced this afternoon in Ottawa:

"CALGARY - Decorated Canadian peacekeeper Col. Donald Ethell will be named Alberta’s Lieutenant Governor this afternoon.

The veteran of 14 international peacekeeping missions, including Cyprus, Lebanon, Israel and the Balkans, was leader of Canadian peacekeeping operations from 1987 until 1990. He also served as deputy force commander of multinational forces during the 1990 Persian Gulf War and went on to his final assignment in Yugoslavia before retiring in July 1993.

Col. Ethell was also deployed by the United Nations to provide reconnaissance for the Arias Peace Plan covering five Central America countries. His operational plan for the UN Force in Central America was tabled in the House of Commons.

He’s now familiar to Canadians as a defence analyst on the CBC and other media. Col. Ethell will meet with Prime Minister Stephen Harper in his Ottawa office where his appointment will be formally announced later today. 
Here is a July 2008 video interview of Col. Ethell used in the promotion of National Peacekeepers Day (h/t Joey Oberhoffner):

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

alberta politics notes 4/07/2010

- David Akin recently sat down with Liberal Senator Tommy Banks for a chat on Senate reform.
- Alberta has held Senate elections in 1989, 1998, and 2004, and is expected to hold a Senate election in the next two years to fill upcoming vacancies. Senator-in-Waiting Link Byfield has declared his intentions to seek the Wildrose Alliance nomination.
- Alberta will be getting five new federal ridings if new legislation is passed in Ottawa.
- The provincial Electoral Boundaries Commission will be starting their second round of public hearings on April 12 in Calgary.
- After originally being lukewarm to the idea of an urban riding for Grande Prairie as proposed in the Boundaries Commission's interim report, City Councillors have decided to support the two existing 'rurban' ridings of Grande Prairie-Smoky and Grande Prairie-Wapiti.
- Alberta Health Services CEO Dr. Stephen Duckett was given failing grades from employees and physicians this week. Friends of Medicare executive director David Eggen told the Edmonton Journal that the survey points to the need for new leadership: "To make a fresh start, I think it's important to make significant changes in senior leadership. This is a back-to-Australia kind of performance indicator."
- Advanced Education Minister Doug Horner caved to the wishes of the University Administrations by allowing them to increase their base tuition rates beyond what is currently allowed under Alberta's tuition policy for six programs. I wrote some background on the Universities quest for tuition hikes in November 2009.
- Premier Ed Stelmach will be speaking at the University of Alberta tomorrow at an event hosted by the campus Conservative club. The same club hosted an event with Wildrose Alliance leader Danielle Smith last month.
- From Capital Notebook, Alberta Sustainable Resource Development paid $33,963 to a company called Borat High Five Consulting Ltd. between April 2008 and October 2009. This gives me a good excuse to post my favourite Borat clip...

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

hot air.

With recent political contribution disclosures showing the PC Party holding ground, maybe the Wildrose Alliance groundswell in Calgary is just a bunch of hot air...

Monday, April 05, 2010

from the earth to the moon.

This weekend some friends and I began watching the mini-series From the Earth to the Moon. The HBO mini-series ran from April to May 1998 and focused on the Apollo program that led to the first Moon landing on July 20, 1969.

Over forty years ago, human beings developed the kind of technology that could carry three men to the Moon. It is mind-boggling to think about change in thinking that it must have taken to develop the kind of technology that could carry a man to the Moon in the 1960s. Watching the mini-series really began to put into perspective how much our society has changed because of the Apollo program. Not only did the Apollo space program beat the Communists to the Moon, but it resulted in a huge number of technological spin-offs that helped push western civilization into a new kind of reality.

Over forty years later on March 30, 2010, CERNs Large Hadron Collider successfully collided beams of protons at the highest energy levels ever seen. While these technological advancements may not be directly (or indirectly linked), it is a perfect example of the leaps that have been made since.

It is likely that within my lifetime, there will be technological changes that could completely redefine how our society functions. In a field close to the hearts and paycheques of Albertans, how would the province of Alberta if a giant technological leap occurred in the field of energy? Would Alberta be prepared for the result of new energy technology that could decrease the world's dependence on oil and natural gas?

What would Alberta look like if this happened in 2010? What would happen to the oilsands and the billions of dollars that have been spent building the infrastructure around them? According to local futurist Kevin Kuchinski, "Alberta's oil belt will be the new rust belt."

In 1905, Alberta's provincial boundaries were defined with railway access in mind. What will our next boundaries be and what will define them?

Saturday, April 03, 2010

stop the calgary-edmonton rivalry habit.

I have been meaning to write about this for a couple of weeks. The Edmonton International Airport recently launched a semi-guerilla marketing campaign to convince Edmontonians and northern Albertans to "Stop the Calgary Habit." The campaign is geared towards stopping travellers from flying on departing flights from the Calgary International Airport (where there are many more connecting flights) and depart from the Edmonton International.

When I first heard about the campaign, I pictured the messaging being conceived by a group of grey-haired baby boomer marketers whose target audience was the +65 year old couple with a time-share in Boca. When it comes to travel, and in general, I do not feel any animosity towards Calgary (or their airport and its free wireless internet), nor do I feel that there is any point to a rivalry between the two cities.

In recent conversations with some friends, the question was raised: "Why would we want to compare ourselves to Calgary?"

A big deal was made in the mid-1990s by political groups like The Edmonton Stickmen and politicians like Mayor Bill Smith about the lack of corporate headquarters in Edmonton and businesses being lost to Calgary. The hockey rivalry does not interest me and now that Premier Ralph Klein has retired to become a gameshow host, the political rivalry feels practically inexistent and pointless. From the amount of cranes in its downtown skyline, it appears that Calgary is continuing its dream of becoming the Toronto of the West. As a proud Edmontonian, I say: "they can have it."

As Calgary charts its own course, Edmonton is charting one that will be shaped by its own unique identity, strengths, and opportunities. Outsiders might be shocked to learn about the vibrant and engaged communities that our city has  (last week's GalaGuru event at the packed Latitude 53 Studio was a great example of these vibrant communities). I used to believe that I would need to move to bigger cities like Vancouver or Toronto (or even Calgary) in order to find a great job and quality of life, but I share the perspective of a growing number of younger city-dwellers who believe that Edmonton is a place to be. There is a new confidence in a younger generation that perhaps was not there when the Edmonton-Calgary rivalry was at its hottest twenty or thirty years ago.

When I fly to other cities, I fly from the Edmonton International Airport, not because of loyalty or rivalry, but because it is the closest. If Calgary International Airport is attracting important international flights and airlines, I say: "good for them. It is good for Calgary, good for Alberta, and good for Edmonton."

Thursday, April 01, 2010

rainbows and unicorns.

It probably would have been more effective if they had kept their up the tongue-in-cheek theme, but before it devolves into a fairly predicable attack ad, this April Fools Day joke from the US Republican Senate Committee is pretty entertaining.

(h/t Huffington Post)