Danielle Smith still trying to rewrite history with bullshit.

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The picture above was taken at the moment when Danielle Smith soundly lost the PC nomination for Highwood as the PC membership indicated their revulsion with Smith’s treachery at their local ballot box. The surprise in Smith’s expression is striking. Pretty much every political watcher in the province could see that Smith was going to lose the nomination except apparently Smith herself. That is because Danielle prefers to cloak herself in delusion and bullshit rather than face reality.

Last year, Danielle Smith began claiming that the reason she tried to destroy her former party was that she saw the election of the NDP looming and that she was heroically trying to save Albertans from it.

Brock Harrison was one of Danielle Smith’s senior staffers at that time. He masterfully called Danielle on her revisionist bullshit in this National Post piece. It is well worth reading and truly demonstrates Smith’s purposeful disconnect from reality.

I guess Danielle Smith thought that enough time had passed since she got caught spreading bullshit and she decided to start spewing again.

Few have been more eager to watch the Wildrose Party fail than Danielle Smith has. Smith is a disgraced politician who repulsed the nation with a treacherous floor-crossing that so damaged conservatives in Alberta that we elected an NDP majority for lack of more acceptable options. Smith despises seeing Brian Jean succeeding where she failed so dismally.

As soon as Jean saw some hiccups in grassroots support (constant in any party), Smith pounced and tried to widen the cracks. A blog posting from a supposed party insider (wife of a failed nomination candidate, hardly an entrenched insider) was promoted by Smith. This posting tried anecdotally to create the impression that there was a giant social conservative/libertarian split in the party that eventually drove Smith out. While libertarians and social conservatives have often clashed within the party, it is simply bullshit that this is what caused Smith to cross the floor. Danielle has decided to rewrite her own narrative from last fall though to try and claim that this is indeed why she left.

On twitter some who really were within the party called Smith out on her bullshit.

There was a terrible policy proposal that hit the floor at the 2014 AGM. It was soundly rejected by social conservatives and libertarians alike. At least Smith managed to unite the two factions that time.

That policy was slipped in with little fanfare and no promotion. Many often were critical of Smith since then in pointing out that if that damned fluffy policy was so important, why the hell didn’t Danielle Smith try to be a leader for a change and promote it?

Well, Danielle took this opportunity to create more bullshit and claim that she promoted this policy clearly in her Friday night speech as can be seen in the image below.

smithbs

Well, I guess Danielle Smith forgot one of the cardinal rules of the internets. They are forever.

The entire transcript of Danielle Smith’s Friday night speech can be found here.

In reading the speech that while Smith is rambling about “fun police” and even gives a direct plug to my blog (thanks Danielle), she never once mentions policies or even alludes to them.

Perhaps Danielle should read this speech herself so that she doesn’t get caught in the bullshit of her own making yet again.

I really would love to hear a candid accounting from Danielle Smith of what really went down in those last 4 months of 2014. I am sure that there is much that has never been revealed.

In light of Danielle Smith having been caught fabricating the facts about that period not once, but twice now, I hold out little faith in hearing anything come from her on that event that we can believe.

It really is too bad as there are probably some great lessons to be learned from that mess.

 

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Conservatives don’t need a merger, they just need good leadership.

brian

If there is one thing that conservatives in Alberta have been lacking in the last 10 years it is good leadership. From bungling Stelmach, to corrupted Redford to the unholy alliance of Prentice/Smith that managed to put Notley on the Premier’s chair, conservatives have languished under a chain of piss poor partisan leaders.

With the events seen in the last week, it looks pretty clear that conservative Albertans are going to have to wait longer to see a good leader come out of the woodwork.

The “right” in Alberta is not so much split as it is floundering in trying to find a stable banner to gather underneath. If one of the right of center parties could manage to get an inspiring leader, merger dreams would end and the majority of right of center Albertans would migrate to that party. One would think that under the gross mismanagement of Notley that a strong opposition party would manage to get it together. Alas, so far there has been no luck.

Yes, Brian Jean stepped up to the plate and took the reigns of the Wildrose Party while it was still reeling under the effects of Danielle Smith’s self serving treachery. Yes, Brian has been stellar in handling the disastrous fire in Fort McMurray. Aside from that though, Jean really hasn’t gotten far in turning the Wildrose Party into a government in waiting.

As I ranted last week, the choice to insult a visiting Premier in the legislature was a terrible one that repelled many Albertans in its lack of tact and class. Those were the actions of a party that wants to oppose rather than build and that falls squarely on the leader’s lap. It should be noted that Brian Jean was one of the MLAs who petulantly refused to stand to respectfully greet the visiting Premier. He cant blame the fallout from those tasteless actions on rogue MLAs. They were acting under his leadership and direction.

Jean’s next foolish and reactive move was his bizarre late night suspension of Derek Fildebrandt over a social media faux-pas.

Derek Fildebrandt is no homophobe and anybody knowing him will say that confidently. Even the most left wing of opponents acknowledge that while Derek made a careless error in judgement, they know damn well that he would never support anti-gay views or rhetoric. Despite that fact and despite Derek’s near immediate apology for the mistake, Jean recklessly suspended Derek from caucus.

Brian Jean is still doggedly claiming that it was the social media error that was the cause of the suspension. That is clearly utter bullshit and Jean’s refusal to explain the real rational behind the suspension is yet another example of poor leadership.

Perhaps there is a good set of reasons for the suspension of Fildebrandt from caucus. Jean would be well placed to release and explain them then because right now his actions look petty and have infuriated the grassroots of the Wildrose Party. In light of the employment outcomes for all of the floor crossers from the Wildrose Party the other year, I think it goes without saying that antagonizing the grassroots of a conservative party is never a wise course of action.

Derek Fildebrandt is one of the rougher MLAs. He plays hardball and he can be prone to theatrics. That is actually a good thing when one considers that Brian Jean can be about as animated as a turnip (as anybody who watched the last election debate can attest to). A balanced caucus has people of a few different characters.

Was the reason for the suspension pure insecurity on the part of Jean? Does he feel that his position as leader is threatened? I don’t think Jean’s leadership was threatened before last week but it sure as hell is now as the grassroots party members become annoyed.

Was the reason for the suspension because Jean felt embarrassed at a gathering of his federal compatriots while statements such as the one below were written in the Globe and Mail?

Has Mr. Jean become so accustomed to being led around by the nose by Mr. Fildebrandt that he allowed this sorry spectacle to unfold? Why doesn’t Mr. Jean simply step aside now and allow Mr. Fildebrandt to ascend to the position he so clearly lusts after?

Pretty harsh words from an editorialist and I don’t think they were based on fact. I can see how it grated on Jean though and I can see how an insecure leader would lash out to try and prove himself in light of such critique.

I don’t know the full story here I suspect but I know what I see and that is a demonstration of terrible leadership when we need it so dearly on the conservative end of the spectrum in Alberta.

I hope Jean either learns to get it together soon or steps aside because we really cant afford another term under Notley.

A good first step would be admitting error and bringing Derek Fildebrandt back into caucus.

Under good leadership, such suspensions shouldn’t be needed.

 

 

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Diplomacy counts.

I rarely use any form of tact, discretion or general diplomacy with political issues as many can attest. I speak my mind to the point of being outright offensive at times. That is due to the fact that I don’t really give a shit who I may or may not offend.

As can be seen below, I think that Katleen Wynne is a dead ringer for Orville Redenbacher and I think that pointing that out in pictures is damned hilarious.

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All that being said, I am not an elected official representing a constituency on any level of government. I am simply a blogger with strong opinions who speaks only for himself.

I have little need to be diplomatic in my words or actions. If for some bizarre reason I had Kathleen Wynne over for supper at my place one day though, I likely would not have the picture above put on display and would endeavor to forgo on expounding on my views about how she is a terrible politician who is indeed harming her province and setting a bad example across the nation. It is not that I selectively believe in these things, my views are pretty consistent. I understand however that there is a time and place to share them and even on a household level, a base degree of diplomacy can be called for.

Diplomacy is showing class and respect towards somebody when the situation calls for it even when that person and their actions are odious to you. Hell, it is easy to be diplomatic when it is towards a person you admire. That is why true diplomacy is an art that few can really master.

Diplomacy between governments and their representatives is essential whether on an international level or even down to meetings between municipalities. If you are acting as a host, you had better damn well act with class and respect. Your trade and negotiations in the future rely on it.

I am a strong supporter of the Wildrose Party. I do want to see the Wildrose form the next government of Alberta. One flaw with the party has been it’s rough edges at times which opponents point to in trying to demonstrate that the Wildrose is not the government in waiting.

That flaw was demonstrated in spades yesterday as Wynne was subjected to abuse as a guest of the legislature. Wynne was not just a guest of Notley. Wynne was a guest of the whole damn legislature and that means even opposition members are expected to provide a degree of respect. There were 364 other days when the Wildrose could have attacked Wynne’s policies.

In order to become the party that Albertan’s want to select as their next government, the Wildrose Party will have to mature into that role.

The Wildrose has been a very effective opposition. Unless the party wants to remain in opposition in perpetuity though, they had better start showing a little more decorum as they work to develop into a party that can govern.

This week’s antics have set the Wildrose back in the eyes of Albertans and it will take time and a demonstration of class going forward in order to recover from that.

Worst of all, the actions of the Wildrose party gave that loudmouth asshole Nenshi a new platform to try and bark from as he campaigns for higher office and tries to distract from the legal bill he dumped on Calgarians due to his big damned mouth. That is nearly unforgivable.

Naheed Nenshi and peacock

Act as a government in waiting guys and leave the uncouth partisan attacks to bloggers like me. We will all be better for it in the long run.

 

 

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Rachel Notley and her band of extremists go full LEAP Manifesto with Bill 20

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When the federal NDP (directly tied to the Notley NDP) embraced the extreme and insane “Leap Manifesto”, Notley tried desperately and doggedly to distance herself from the plan. Notley’s excuses rang flat at the time when one considers that provincial NDP parties are constitutionally bound to be subservient to the federal entity.

In releasing Bill 20 Notley has proven that she clearly embraces the environmental extremism of the LEAP Manifesto and is prepared to stomp on the individual rights of Albertans in order to pursue the insane goals of the document.

The contents of Bill 20 are outright terrifying as they subject us to warrantless searches even to the point of going into our computers as can be seen here:

52 In this Part, “property” includes computer hardware.

Authority to enter on land
53 For the purpose of carrying out duties under this Act and the regulations, the Minister or an officer may enter on any land, whether or not that land is enclosed.

General powers respecting inspections
54(1) For the purpose of carrying out duties under this Act and the regulations, the Minister or an officer may do all or any of the following: (a) subject to subsection (4), enter, without a warrant, at any reasonable time, the following premises for the purpose of conducting an inspection, audit or examination:

This bill is terrifying in it’s scope and arrogance. Officers are empowered to search anything and everything to the point of being able to hook up to the engine of your vehicles to test for emission issues (or whatever else they want to snoop around for).

The entire text of the bill can be found here.

The concept of such a massive carbon tax being imposed during a recession is bad enough. That Notley feels compelled to bundle all this warrantless search powers into the bill is frightening.

For those who tried to convince themselves that Notley wasn’t of the extreme end of the NDP I am afraid that this delusion has been shattered and the proof is in this bill.

Rachel Notley and her government are extreme ideologues who were accidentally elected as Albertans tried to escape a broken and corrupted PC government.

While the Notley Regime will clearly last only one term, it is clear that she will be able to do massive damage in that time period. It may take decades to recover.

 

 

 

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My name is Earl. A steer’s journey from field to plate.

When Earls restaurant chain announced that they were refusing to buy Alberta beef in favor of a Kansas supplier that has a dubious stamp of being “humane beef” from a Virginia outfit that apparently certifies for these sorts of things, I have to say I was rather stumped. Why would a restaurant chain purposely alienate the people who built them? They were started in Edmonton after all.

There is nothing that the Kansas supplier provides that Alberta does not as far as standards for humane beef go. Regulations prevent antibiotic laden meat from hitting the market and there are countless suppliers who provide non-hormone filled beef on request.

Earl’s made some weak claims that there is consumer demand for this. As a restaurant owner I have to call outright bullshit on that. In this past year, I have had all sorts of odd requests from customers but I have NEVER had a request for certified humane beef. While Earls may have a different clientele in some of their urban locations, I still find it exceedingly hard to believe that there is or ever was any significant demand for this kind of certification.

Even assuming this demand was there and growing, for Earls to claim that they couldn’t find Canadian suppliers who could produce that sort of beef is simply bullshit again. Alberta alone has thousands of producers and over 5 million cattle. With only marginal effort Earls could have brokered directly with some large local producers who would have been overjoyed to produce in whatever manner Earls likes (in fact most of them already do). I guess if they went local though, Earls would have lost the strength of their ill conceived publicity stunt.

As is my nature though, I am inclined to put things to the test.

I decided to purchase beef for my restaurant directly from a local supplier who would abide by my requests for a lack of anti-biotics in the meat, lack of growth hormones and a humane treatment throughout life up to and including processing time.

It took me about 5 minutes on google and couple phone inquiries before I found such a producer.

Meet Earl!

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The young steer pictured above resides but 10 kilometers from my restaurant. I have purchased him and named him Earl in honor of some of Alberta’s less principled restaurant owners.

Earl will be local and grass fed. Earl’s natural growth will suffice thus he will not have any hormones applied. If Earl should grow sick, he will indeed receive treatment even if that means using antibiotics if need be. It would be sick and inhuman to refuse treatment like that even if some restaurants condone such heartless cruelty. If such should happen, Earl would have to wait a minimum of 90 days before heading to the processors all the same as is Alberta regulation. No medications make it to the plate here.

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As can be seen above, I have direct access to check on Earl’s welfare at any time I please. Earl’s mom is a little on the grouchy side so I didn’t get much closer for the shot. She will be a good mom to protect him from coyotes and some of the other hazards Earl may face in grazing free range around here. They have a good relationship and am happy to have purchased a steer from such a solid family unit.

I will track and document Earl’s progress through life here until he hits the plates in my pub. We will observe holidays together and enjoy the great scenery and atmosphere just West of Calgary.

Earl and any other livestock I purchase for my restaurant will be certified humane through the “Cory Morgan certification program” which is no less credible than any organization out of Virginia.

This whole process was remarkably easy to do. I expect it would have been even easier if I needed millions of pounds of meat as producers would be clamoring to get a client who can purchase so much.

In closing, if you want good solid Alberta beef which is antibiotic free and humanely raised, just come on down to Water’s Edge Pub in Priddis (10 minutes from Calgary).

Earl needs to grow a fair bit before he is ready to grace the pub himself but we already stock beef just as humanely raised as he will be.

Now was that so hard?

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Calgary’s 12 Ave bicycle track causing nearly 1/4 million extra driving hours per year for commuters

hipbike

The numbers are starting to come in from Calgary’s controversial and expensive bicycle track experiment and they aren’t pretty. Proponents highballed numbers claiming as many as 12,000 cycle commuters per day when pushing for the tracks. They then moved the goalposts to the more realistic couple thousand per day for a baseline when the tracks went in. Despite those number crunching efforts and an extremely mild winter, the cyclist numbers simply are not that impressive. The tiny but vocal cycle lobby has been sadly trying to cherry pick numbers such as a nearly insignificant uptick in female ridership in hopes of claiming success but it is falling on deaf ears for commuters tired of languishing in traffic only to see empty cycle lanes taking up parking and laneways.

Naheed Nenshi said in a radio interview that on 12th Avenue alone the cycle track has added a 2 to 2.5 minutes for drivers to get a short 14 blocks.

While those numbers sound small at a glance, one really needs to look at the cumulative impact of these tracks and in that context they are staggering and bad.

When crunching the numbers and being generous on 12th Ave alone, we see the addition of nearly a quarter million driving hours per year in the city due to the tracks!


12th Avenue SW in Calgary moves between 15,000 and 21,000 cars on an average weekday. It is a very busy avenue on weekends too as it is a main artery. I picked the lower part of the average and used 17,000 cars per day.

In splitting the difference in Nenshi’s numbers, we get an average of 2.25 minutes of driving time per driver due to the tracks which adds up to 637.5 extra automotive hours per day on that road.

When those extra hours are applied over the course of a year, we have 232,687.5 extra hours per year that cars are running on 12 Ave SW due to the empty cycle tracks.

So much for proponent claims that these tracks would reduce traffic.

The cost of so many wasted hours cant be understated.

What kind of environmental impact is caused by an extra 232,687.5 hours of active vehicular traffic?

What does this add up to for consumers as extra fuel is purchased and extra wear and tear is imposed on vehicles due to this slow, start and stop traffic?

How about productivity? I bet if those 1/4 million hours were applied to work rather than sitting in traffic, we would see some benefits.

How about quality of life? 232,687.5 unnecessary hours are being wasted sitting in cars. What if that time was spent with family? Perhaps in the gym? Maybe simply sleeping or getting a better breakfast. Pretty much anything is better than sitting in traffic without cause.

These numbers are from just one avenue in Calgary. The cycle tracks are on many other streets and are impacting traffic there too. What kind of extra commute time numbers are we talking when all of the cycle tracks are added up? Possibly into the millions of hours.

Millions of hours of time wasted with fuel burned by Calgarians so that a handful of hipsters can use cycle tracks downtown during good weather. Is this a good trade?

Calgary has one of the best cycle path systems in North America but you wouldn’t know it to listen to the few but shrill downtown cycle lobbyists.

City council needs to look at the real and cumulative impact of these tracks downtown. They are a failure and should be removed if the interests of the majority of Calgarians are to be taken into consideration.

Of course, if the interest is an anti-auto agenda rather than that of the majority of Calgarians, we can expect these tracks to stay no matter how terrible the numbers are.

Sad when the damage and cost is considered.

 

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Calgary taxpayers give Nenshi a loan.

purplepeacock

From yesterday’s CBC article: The city is picking up the tab for Mayor Naheed Nenshi’s legal battle with developer Cal Wenzel, but he now has to fundraise in order to pay the city back.

When Nenshi found himself rightly being sued for slandering a Calgary businessman and philanthropist during a radio interview, many people were rightly concerned that taxpayers would find themselves on the hook for the legal bills.

Nenshi could have easily ended this entire mess with a simple retraction and apology years ago. That is exactly what he ended up doing in his settlement anyway. Clearly Nenshi was on the losing end of that settlement as he had to humbly apologize and didn’t get his legal fees covered.

I suspect that His Worship in his arrogance was so confident that he would come out on top in this lawsuit that he never thought twice before screaming to any and all critics that he would pay all the legal bills.

One has to wonder if Nenshi would not have dragged out this legal mess as long as he did if the city wasn’t going to backstop the legal bills for him until he could pay them back? How many employers will pay 6 figures in legal fees on a loan for employees who are in the midst of getting sued for slandering somebody and outside of their employment duties? Nice loan if you can get it.

The Canadian Taxpayer’s Federation acts as a watchdog on political spending on all levels of government. This is very important in municipal politics as there is no official opposition working to ensure that our elected servants are being responsible with our money. In doing his job at the time, Derek Fildebrandt made a request to ensure that the Mayor indeed was going to pay his own damned bills.

Fildebrandt’s inquiry set off a classic, petulant Naheed Nenshi public tantrum. Calgary’s Mayor truly does sound like a six year old when he gets upset.

Roger Kingcade with QR77 radio in Calgary did a fantastic, dramatic reading of Nenshi’s social media hissy fit which can be played at the link below.
Nenshi Vs Fildebrandt tantrum.

Nenshi sure was sensitive to the issue.

As Canada’s highest paid mayor ($216,401 per year), I guess Nenshi felt he could absorb the costs if he had to.

Now it looks like Nenshi will be asking others to pay his bills through contributions. How long that will take and how that may work on a political influence level is tough to tell at this point.

One thing that we can be sure of though is that taxpayers have tied up a bunch of capital in covering Nenshi’s legal fees until he can find a way to pay them. Will there be interest charged? Service fees? Loans typically aren’t free and I don’t see why an exception should be made for our Mayor who dug his own legal hole.

6yearold

We can doubtless look forward to more outbursts from Nenshi on this and other issues.

We must follow up on this though as no matter how hard Nenshi howls, the bill simply isn’t paid until Nenshi finds a way to pay it.

For now as usual, taxpayers remain on the hook for the cost of Nenshi’s big mouth.

I hope he has pursued insurance for future suits.

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Nobody moves! Nobody gets hurt!

Notley just couldn’t put off the sitting of the Legislative Assembly forever. Despite deferring the sitting for an extra month, the session began with a series of scandals and bungling as the inept collection of accidental MLAs tried to find their footing.

With support numbers for Notley in an outright free fall in Alberta, the NDP government has taken on the strategy of doing as little as humanly possible in the legislature in hopes of avoiding further disasters.

This desperate tactic of doing nothing is clearly evident in the vacuous Bill 1 tabled by Deron Bilous last week.

This empty waste of paper truly has to be read to be believed.

Bill 1: Promoting Job Creation and Diversification Act

Bill 1 is an utter waste of legislative resources and time. The act changes nothing and provides no less or more power to the Minister than already exists. Bill 1 is simply pointless fluff devised by the NDP brain trust to clutter the legislative session with something that they hope is harmless while they try to figure out how to escape the inevitable fallout from the pending, disaster of a budget that Ceci will have to table eventually.

This video is great. Prasad Panda masterfully leads Bilous into a corner by feeding him terms from his own bill (sort of makes one wonder who actually wrote the thing). Panda then knocks it out of the park on Bilous leaving the Minister stumbling and trying to justify this bill about nothing.

Yesterday I questioned Minister Deron Bilous about the capacity and ability of his ministry. The minister confirmed what we already thought – Bill 1 is a Bill about nothing.

It’s time for the NDP government to stop talking about jobs and start taking action and creating them!

Posted by Prasad Panda on Friday, 11 March 2016

While it is comical to watch the NDP lurching around while pretending to be a competent government, it is a dark comedy. We are sinking into a recession with record government deficit levels. If the NDP continues to mismanage the province like this, it will take generations to recover.

Lets hope that Notley’s gang of baristas and liberal arts grads find their legislative feet soon as hiding behind vapid, empty bills for fear of screwing up further is not exactly a good long term solution to anything.

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Kudatah 2016!! Notley is still in power & protesters embarrassed themselves.

Well this should pretty much spell the end of the bizarre, George Clark “Kudatah” movement. After months of bizarre claims of unseating the government through petitions, ravings about approaching the Queen and announcing a ridiculous strategy to take over the NDP in an odd press conference in a Walmart parking lot, the George Clark “kudatah” initiative hit its peak outside of the legislature yesterday.

While some of Clark’s supporters are scurrying around claiming that as many as 8000 people came out to protest the Notley government yesterday, pretty much every reputable news organization noted the turnout to be “hundreds”. Not totally insignificant but hardly indicative of a budding revolution in the province.

kudedah6

Even before the rally, Clark’s supporters were hard at work calling radio stations in hopes of drumming up support. The recording below is noteworthy of the depth of the George Clark promotional campaign.

While Clark’s supporters love to decry the elitism of folks, they really don’t do themselves any favors when they cant do simple checks on their spelling before going on public display.

kudatah5

kudatah1

kudetah7

Not being satisfied simply with incoherent and illiterate messaging, George Clark’s supporters happily provided some evidence of tasteless extremisms as they displayed swastikas, referenced a “final solution” and mimicked Nazi salutes during the protest.

kudatah

kudatah3

As predicted, George Clark and his hysteric gang are actually managing to set rational opposition to Notley back as they made collective fools of themselves at the legislature yesterday.

Clark then got some kids lined up and had them hold numbers to represent the apparent number of signatures that he has collected on a pair of petitions. In remaining consistent with his polished approach, George lined the kids up incorrectly which caused his handful of supporters to think that they had nearly half a million signatures. Upon correction, that number went down to 160k. When consideration is taken into account that it is two petitions, that number goes to about 80k. Still a sizable number of signatures but is also has to be taken into account that most of those signatures were taken under false pretenses as George Clark had claimed to folks that the petitions would lead to unseating the Notley government.

Even if George Clark had managed to gain a million signatures, the outcome would be the same. Nothing would change.

Sheila Gunn Reid with Rebel Media excellently broke down exactly why and how all of the things that George Clark claims will unseat the Notley government are simply bunk.

A new legislative session is beginning. Rational people are working to improve government within the legislature while many more are working to unseat Notley in the one and only possible way (in a general election).

George Clark wont give up. Hell, he raised over $27,000 from gullible supporters in a matter of weeks. Why would he stop now?

Lets just hope that even Clark’s supporters begin to realize that they are chasing an impossible and unreasonable goal and that they either begin to support some rational movements or simply just fade into the distance of public view.

Let George Clark be an embarrassing but passing footnote in Alberta political history.

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The Alberta Party still needs to find itself.

hipster

By-elections are a tough thing to deal with in partisan politics.  They are fickle and politically dangerous. Parties are heavily motivated to win political points with a by-election win and often dedicate massive amounts of fiscal and human resources to these snapshot elections. The campaigning essentially turns to white noise as electors are barraged with door knockers, flyers and phone calls from all parties while every street corner becomes covered with a vomit of colorful election signs that few take direct notice of. In the end, a candidate is chosen by what is usually an utterly dismal turnout of the electorate which may or may not represent the political trends of the province or even the city that the constituency is in.

All that being said, it remains crucial that political parties put their best foot forward in these by-elections. A win or even close second can be framed after the by-election as a trend and a party that loses big can and will have their noses rubbed in the loss for months or years to come whether it’s fair or not. While a by-election win does not ensure that the winning party will form the next government, it certainly does look good. A win indicates that voters are willing to accept that party in the right circumstances. A win also demonstrates that the party remains viable and well organized between general elections. These impressions are very important.

Despite the clear importance of making a mark in by-elections, the Alberta Party has chosen not to run a candidate in the upcoming Calgary Greenway by-election.

There are some bright folks within the Alberta Party. The only reason that the Alberta Party is sitting out the by-election is that they are utterly incapable of running in it. They didn’t have a candidate in Greenway in the last general election and they likely have utterly no organization on the ground in that constituency. The party bank account is likely pretty dry as well. Greenway is a suburban constituency as well. The number of hipsters in that part of Calgary is terribly low though it is well served by transit.

Alberta Party leader, Greg Clark is a genuine, smart and likeable fellow. Despite having but one seat in the legislature, Clark has managed to gain a respectable degree of press in that role (I assure you that the Wildrose was not treated so favorably when Paul Hinman was our lone MLA). Clark puts out pragmatic statements and releases on issues and he is generally respected by all who know him.

The problem is, Greg Clark is not just the leader of the Alberta Party. Greg Clark IS the Alberta Party.

In a set of by-elections in late 2014, the Alberta Party focused all of their resources on Greg Clark during the campaign. While this led to Clark to grabbing a respectable second place, Alberta Party candidates running in other constituencies came in with dismal single digit electoral showings. They simply had no volunteers or funds as it all drifted into Clark’s campaign in Elbow.

Less than a year later the Alberta Party used the exact same strategy in the general election. With the solid support base built in the previous by-election and a smartly run campaign, Clark took Calgary Elbow in an upset and became the lone MLA for Calgary Elbow. The Alberta Party has always been heavily populated by hipsters as well. Calgary Elbow contains the bulk of Calgary’s hipster demographic making it an ideal spot to focus their efforts on.

The strategy of putting all of the party eggs into one electoral basket while great for Clark, led to the Alberta Party polling a flaccid 2.28% support across the province. This has to be pretty demoralizing for the candidates and volunteers who did what they could in all of the other constituencies around the province. With 86 constituencies having been left out to dry by the party like that, it is pretty obvious why broad ground level organization has not happened throughout the province. Why work your butt off when the party will only focus on one constituency and one candidate?

The Alberta Party has long tried to be everything to everybody and this sunshine and lollypop strategy is starting to fail. The interminable “big listen” held by the party never really led to coherent policies and while the leadership put out pragmatic statements, the supporters often vocally took stances that were more along the NDP lines. The Alberta Party kept trying to call themselves centrists while their supporters kept pushing to the left. Notley’s win and Clark’s pragmatism has led to many supporters giving up the façade of centrism and simply jumping in with the NDP. Now the party is adrift to the point where they cant even battle a single by-election in their own city.

gregclark

In a bizarre demonstration of how the Alberta Party really doesn’t stand for much in a solid sort of way, Greg Clark joined with Green Party leader Janice Keeping in endorsing Laurie Blakeman as an unofficial candidate for all three parties in the 2015 election. This weird strategy backfired terribly as Blakeman soundly lost the seat that she had held for nearly 18 years.

The Alberta Party needs to define itself as being something more than simply saying “centrist” over and over again while being totally focused on one person in one constituency. If the Alberta Party can’t manage to do this within the next couple years, they very well may end up simply being a footnote in Alberta electoral history.

If and when the party determines clearly who they are and what they stand for, they will then need to reach beyond their power center in Calgary Elbow. They will need to identify voters in every constituency in Alberta (or at least a hell of a lot more of them) who share this new vision. Once identified, these people need to be organized and trained to maintain constituency associations or at least build a strong if informal social organization that can be turned into a fundraising/campaign team when election time comes.

That is a lot of work to pull off in a relatively short period of time but it must be done.

To show how it can be done, one needs only to point to a local Alberta lunatic named George Clark (no relation).

George Clark’s message is simple even if it is utterly impossible and not terribly rational. It appeals to a segment of Albertans and George Clark has capitalized on that. Clark has identified and targeted folks who believe his strategy of bullshit. Clark has then organized these people into petitioners around the province who will be bringing in petitions signed in person by upwards of 100,000 people. George Clark has also raised $27,000 and counting from gullible supporters.

Not bad considering that George Clark’s twitter account is a social media laughing stock with only a couple hundred followers. This leads to my next point for the Alberta Party:

GET OFF SOCIAL MEDIA AND GET ON THE GROUND!

A madman with proposals that have been laughed out of every rational political discussion has managed to galvanized and gather thousands of supporters in just a few months. Clark did this by travelling around the province and building ground organizations. He has not bothered with the slacktivism of twitter political engagement. If elections could be won with social media presence alone, Greg Clark would already be Alberta’s Premier.

I am not for a second suggesting that the Alberta Party needs to adopt a platform of bullshit and sell a fairy tale around the province as George Clark did. I am pointing out that the Alberta Party needs to look at the example of George Clark to see what the power of simple messaging and true ground work is.

It really was quite surprising to see that the Alberta Party is so up against the rocks that they cant run a candidate in the Calgary Greenway by-election. They really had done quite well with quite few resources. It is becoming abundantly clear though that they need to really examine themselves and come up with some new messaging and vision if they want to go beyond being a one seat wonder.

Until people really know what the Alberta Party stands for and until they see the party visible in their own neighborhoods, the Alberta Party will continue to languish in the sub-5% popular support numbers.

That is sad as they had potential

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