Neil Waytowich was one of the most belligerent and prolific trolls in the Canadian scroll. He spewed profanity laced vitriol at conservative politicians and journalists with energy and time that seemed limitless. He prided himself on being blocked by numerous public figures. His contribution to the often toxic environment of twitter was outstanding.
For whatever reason, Waytowich elected to do a live radio interview with Lynda Steele after having been exposed. The transformation from internet tough guy to a meek and contrite little man was striking.
Give it a listen below:
Quite the transformation eh?
Hey, I am not a sweetheart on social media either. I can be prone to profanity and prone to being an asshole just for the sake of entertaining myself. That is indeed classic trolling and I have been guilty of it.
The difference between myself and Mr. Waytowich though is that I have the balls to be like that under my own name.
I own my comments whether good or bad and deal with the consequences. I have been called all sorts of things and have gotten some pretty choice communications from folks that I have pissed off at times. I have had people try to organize boycotts of my business and I have had people demand that my social media accounts be deleted. These are consequences of both my choice to be abrasive online and to do it under my own name.
Enduring the price to pay for being outspoken online makes it difficult for me to respect pussies such as Waytowich who can only talk tough when remaining hidden. They are the online version of folks who throw bricks through the window in the night.
Some folks have reasons not to want to put their own names out there and they certainly have that right. It is hard to respect or take their postings seriously though, especially when they engage in personal attacks on others from behind their wall of anonymity.
If we want to see more civil behaviour online, we should be encouraging more folks to drop the anonymity.
The anonymous cowards offline are an even more dangerous sort of scumbag.
We saw that in spades as a collection of pussies in Portland hid their identities while they attacked journalist Andy Ngo so viciously that he was hospitalized with a brain hemorrhage.
You can bet that these assholes would never have so viciously attacked an innocent man like that had they been unmasked. Like Waytowich they would have skulked away in cowardice rather than act out when they would have to face the music for their actions.
I know it works up civil libertarians but too damn bad. In nations such as Canada and the USA, there is no reason for protesters to hide their identities. There are no death squads rounding them up in the night and no blacklists.
Lets face it, the shitbags who show up masked, with weapons and helmets at protests are seeking trouble and truly want to hurt people.
Want to see a massive reduction in violence at demonstrations? Unmask them. Like Neil, they will turn into instant pussycats.
Want to take a side in a demonstration? Well, if the demonstrators have the balls to show their faces they likely are on the side of good.
If they hide behind anonymity, they are simply cowards who want to cause damage rather than good.
The other day during the kickoff of the Global Petroleum Show, a diminutive lunatic stormed a stage, took a microphone and began incoherently ranting about the oilfield and Jason Kenney. The nutcase was quickly and correctly dragged kicking and screaming from the stage by members of the Calgary police service.
It didn’t take long for charter members of Alberta’s social media loony left to pop out of the woodwork and bizarrely try to tie the removal of this crackpot to Jason Kenney’s “war room” which is being created to counter misinformation in the oilfield
Never one to give up, when called out on the absurd tie-in to the “war room” this person then rambled about free speech which had utterly nothing to do with this.
OK lets get to it.
Free speech is the right to speak. It is the right to hold views and to put them forward.
The right stops there however and here is where the confusion comes in.
WHILE YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO FREE SPEECH, NOBODY IS OBLIGATED TO PROVIDE YOU WITH A PLATFORM WITH WHICH TO SPEW IT NOR ARE THEY OBLIGATED TO LISTEN TO IT!
The crackpot dragged off the stage the other day had and still has a right to free speech. He could speak his view and can still do so today. What he can’t do is trespass and steal a microphone from another group in order to speak. He can’t stand in the middle of a private gathering with a bullhorn and scream his views. He can’t break into your living room and shout his twisted ideals to you. This shouldn’t be too complex.
There is nothing stopping this man from renting his own venue, setting up his own sound system, gathering his own crowd of listeners and speaking until his voice box runs out. If he was stopped from doing such, his free speech indeed would be violated.
Now on to where the right often gets confused on free speech.
Private social media outlets have every right to control who participates on their platforms and what they may or may not say. You may not agree with how they choose to control these things (I know I often don’t), but these are private entities. Your free speech has not been violated if you have been kicked off Twitter or YouTube or something.
Yes some social media giants are certainly dominating the scene and most are controlling their content from a biased left point of view. Hopefully other platforms emerge over time which respect open dialogue soon. Gab was something of a letdown.
All the above said, things will change radically if and when government controls social media controls and content. This is the road that Trudeau is exploring. If and when that happens, censorship will indeed be happening and free speech will be threatened.
Finally on to that lack of obligation among people to listen to you.
If you have been blocked on Twitter by a public figure, your free speech has not been violated. They are under no obligation to listen to you. You can still speak. You can still email or snail mail their offices. You just can’t directly communicate to them from that platform. Get over it. This is an area where both the right and the left indignantly and wrongly claim their speech rights are violated at times.
Now get out there and speak freely!
Just remember that the world doesn’t owe you an audience.
All that said, its important that as many people as possible come out to Calgary city hall this Monday morning to send a message to Mayor Nenshi and his gang of inept city councilors that taxpayers have had enough!
While Alberta’s economy creeps shakily towards economic recovery, Calgary is driving business away with overnight tax increases as high as 425% on businesses!
People are losing jobs and business owners are going bankrupt. This is a true crisis.
Groups and individuals have been warning Calgary city hall for years that their spending is unsustainable. The Mayor and council ignored these voices and continued to hike spending on things such as ugly public art projects and failed vanity projects such as the 2026 Olympic bid. Now city hall is broke and the council appears paralyzed as they pretend that they didn’t see this coming.
We need people to come out in droves this Monday to drive it home to this vacuous gang of city councilors that they need to take some solid action and they need to get on it yesterday!
No more denial. No more kicking the can down the road.
There will be no quick or easy solutions to the problem that this gang of fools has created but they will continue to go nowhere until they understand the gravity of this problem. Yes, they need to get to Step 1.
Make time this Monday and come down to city hall. The business community and their hundreds of thousands of employees are counting on it.
There is no doubt about it. The earth is warming. It has been doing so since the last Ice Age. What had once been an impenetrable sheet of year round ice is now turning into a passable but seasonal ocean route from the Pacific ocean to the Atlantic ocean thanks to warmer temperatures and modern technology.
The Northwest Passage can reduce shipping distances by as much as 7000 kilometers and the route is becoming more viable every year. This of course has drawn the economic interest of pretty much every large, developed nation on earth from China to the United States.
We have laughed about the ongoing game between Canada and Denmark as they “battle” over Hans Island in the Arctic through the exchanging of flags, but this sport is going to become very serious and soon. Countries want to do much more than place flags to assert domination and sovereignty in the Arctic and Canada had best start preparing for this or expect to lose it.
When the inevitable international clash happens and Canada goes before international tribunals to try and assert Arctic sovereignty, two major questions will be asked. Can Canada even get to the high Arctic and is Canada doing anything with it?
I spent four winters working in the Arctic, predominantly in the Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk regions on the Beaufort Sea. That skunk hat came in damned handy in the brutal weather up there.
While warming is increasing access, make no mistake about it. The Arctic remains a brutal and unforgiving environment. Accessing, developing and surviving up there is a tough endeavor.
We would haul out camps in summer which would be anchored and then frozen into the sea ice for the winter. Starting in November or so we would build the ice road to the camp from North of Inuvik through the Mackenzie channels. If all went well, we would fire up the generators and move into the camp in January and could work on oil exploration until mid April.
The “Arctic Star” camp below was my winter home for many a long, dark Arctic night. The food was great but the sense of imprisonment was acute at times.
Whether at Bar C or somewhere on the Star, we always ended up lending some room to government scientists and such who needed access to the Beaufort for studies and such. While oil companies could come up with the means to get to those remote locations, government generally couldn’t. The sharing of the resources that way was a nice compromise.
In order to get even farther into the high Arctic, nuclear powered vessels are required. Canada unfortunately doesn’t have them. Russia, China and the USA do however and you can rest assured that they have been creeping around up there for decades. Canada can’t even get to the locations where these subs operate, much less police them. We bought rickety antique diesel submarines that killed our sailors just trying to cross the Atlantic. We sure as hell can’t try to send them to the Arctic.
If Canada wants to claim sovereignty in the Arctic we need to be able to get up there. Nuclear subs aren’t on the drawing board but they are essential. Seriously, how on earth could we claim parts of the earth that many other countries can access but we cant?
Energy companies will no longer provide access to even the lower Arctic islands any more. In typical Canadian fashion, we pissed around since the 1970s over getting a pipeline built to the Mackenzie Delta. Despite billions spent in exploration and thousands of wells drilled, not a drop of oil has been taken from Canada’s Arctic due to a lack of pipeline. With decades of dithering, the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline project was finally shelved after energy companies gave up. It had just become too expensive and ridiculous a proposition.
That leads on to the “use it” part of the equation when determining Arctic sovereignty.
How can Canada make a case of ownership and control of the Arctic when not only can we not get to it, but we have no plans to settle or develop it?
Like most isolated communities, the Delta towns have some very serious socioeconomic challenges to say the least. While money doesn’t solve everything, it sure as hell helps. Inuvik, Aklavik and Tuktoyaktuk were actually doing relatively well due to energy exploration up there when compared to Arctic communities without any natural resource development. People were learning trades and energy companies were contributing some great infrastructure to the communities.
A road to the South was supposed to come with the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline which would have reduced the cost of living the the Arctic dramatically for Delta communities along with providing reasonable access to larger centers. Tourism would flourish and those towns could become shipping centers along with energy capitals. Things were looking good.
Alas, we destroyed all that potential. Those communities now languish as government dependents. Like other isolated communities with little to no local economy to speak of, substance abuse and other social ills have begun to become acute. What else is there to do? What is there to look forward to?
There is essentially another Alberta worth of oil and gas sitting in the Canadian Arctic. We are fools for refusing to develop it and we can rest assured that if we don’t, some other country will do so. How could we stop them? What would our claim be? We don’t appear ready to develop it and we can’t even get to it?
Time is running out. If we don’t act we will lose control of the Arctic. I suspect that China and Russia won’t treat it with the respect that we do when they move in and start shipping and developing.
It will be tough for other nations to claim rights up there if we have flourishing coastal communities accessing and developing the resources. It will be much easier to claim sovereignty over the passage if Inuvik is a well utilized shipping port.
Despite claims from extreme environments, the reality is that demand for fossil fuels will continue to grow for decades and its use will continue to happen for generations. Let’s embrace reality for a change and develop these resources while we can. Otherwise, we will see new flags flying over the Arctic and we won’t be able to do a damn thing about it.
The amount of ignorance across Canada among the citizens with regards to the conventional energy industry and how it impacts them can be staggering at times. What can we expect when foreign funded environmental groups and public figures have been on an organized “anti-tar sands” campaign for over a decade? The effort to shut in Alberta’s oil has been coming from many fronts and keeping Canadians misinformed about their dependence on that oil has been a key part of that campaign.
I had an exchange on twitter the other day with Denny Morrison. Mr. Morrison made quite a name for himself as a Canadian speed skater over the last decade and was an Olympic medalist. He is a very talented athlete. Alas, now that he has retired from competitive skating it appears that he is trying to find a sense of purpose through online anti-oil advocacy and he isn’t very good at it.
I am not even sure how it began. Denny had inserted himself into an exchange I was having with Councilor Sean Chu over a bike lane and somehow it devolved into a debate on the evils of the combustion engine. Morrison has since blocked me and deleted most of his tweets from the exchange but I did manage to screen snap a couple gems from him that say so much.
The discussion of high gas prices in BC has been a top issue lately along with speculation of what may happen if Premier Kenney does reduce the flow of oil to BC and the rest of the country with Bill 12.
In response to the potential for increased gas prices, Mr. Morrison sent out the tweet pictured below.
OK, where to begin?
Even if somehow a spike in gas prices didn’t directly effect Denny (it would) and even if 2/3 of Vancouver didn’t drive (untrue), the profound indifference displayed by Mr. Morrison to the impacts that such a fuel hike would have on low income people who rely on filling their vehicles is striking. With an already high cost of living in the lower mainland, adding a few hundred a month in gasoline bills to a daily commuter may just break a family budget. Many folks can’t afford to live in urban Vancouver and they are forced to take a long commute daily from more distant but affordable districts. Denny doesn’t seem to care how they would have to deal with a price spike.
Getting back to Denny’s confusion as to whether or not such a hike in fuel costs would actually impact him, it appears that he doesn’t understand that he will pay for those costs whether he owns a personal vehicle or not.
What Denny & sadly a large segment of the population don’t understand is that high fuel prices impact every part of their cost of living. If you take the bus or taxis, fares will rise. If you live on the island, the already expensive ferry costs will spike. If you eat anything, food costs will rise. They don’t transport food by unicorn and farmers don’t harvest it with nuclear powered tractors. Aside from food, the cost of EVERY consumer product will rise if fuel prices rise. Even if one rides a bicycle, the cost of that will go up. They don’t ship bikes by sailboat and ride them to the store for display and sale. Taxes will rise as well as the cost of running a city or a province will rise. Look at all those gas and diesel powered government vehicles out there.
Denny didn’t stop there of course. Next he made the common but BS claim that oil is unprofitable.
Denny among many others live under the myth that oil is obsolete and only government subsidies and a conspiracy among corporations keep it alive. This is utter nonsense of course. Oil demand has done nothing but grow for the last century and it is expected to grow for decades further. Other oil jurisdictions are booming from Texas to Kazakhstan. Yes, Alberta has been having a tough go. That is not due to oil being unprofitable though. That is due to Alberta battling environmentalists and activist governments who are actively working to shut the province’s oil sector down and these efforts are being cheered by myopic dingdongs like Denny Morrison.
So if Denny Morrison is a myopic dingdong, why should I care what he thinks?
Well, dingdong or not Mr. Morrison has some public profile and a voice. People follow the words of celebrities and athletes no matter how vapid those words may sometimes be, These words need to be countered as the misinformation that they are spreading is damaging our entire country.
This is why I am looking forward to Jason Kenney’s “war room” which will be set up to defend Alberta’s industries. Legally it is time to strike back. Greenpeace lost a lawsuit for the lies it spread about a forestry company. It is time that Greenpeace and other extreme foreign funded groups got sued for their misinformation about Alberta’s industries. The passive approach that Notley took has been a failure, it is time to strike back.
While lawsuits and an information campaign will help, it will take some more tangible actions to drive the message home to Canada I fear. Its time for some short term pain for long term gain and that will mean cranking down Alberta’s oil output for a little while to teach the nation a lesson in economic reality.
Look how quickly BC Premier John Horgan panicked when presented with the possibility of an oil squeeze. Despite years of implying that BC neither wanted nor needed Alberta’s oil he went into full damage control mode when Bill 12 was proclaimed by the Kenney government. The basis of BC’s court challenge is laughable in light of the proclamations for so long that they didn’t need Alberta’s oil.
Yes. Paralyzed. Still, until that pinch is actually felt I don’t think enough people will get it.
Turning down the taps will cause a gas price spike in Ontario and Quebec as well. Perhaps their love of the Liberal government’s efforts to throttle Alberta will fade a bit when they realize that they can’t take a family vacation due to the higher costs that $3 or $4 per liter gas would bring. Alberta doesn’t supply a majority of the oil for Eastern Canada but it supplies enough that it would cause a large price spike if the oil was cut back.
In response to this, the economically illiterate typically will bleat “we will just get our oil from somewhere else!”
Well kids it just ain’t that easy.
Supply and demand is a simple economic law but it is always lost on the left.
If a province or nation suddenly approached another supplier and asked for increased shipments of product, guess what will happen? The price of the product will rise. There is no escaping it. That is not theory. It is economic law. The price spike can’t be avoided though I guess the dollars could be sent offshore. That of course would continue to cost Alberta which still remains Canada’s cash cow. Where will those precious social programs go if Alberta doesn’t keep pumping in billions more per year into confederation than it gets out as it has for decades?
Shutting in Alberta’s oil truly is one of the dumbest economic moves that Canada could possibly do yet that is exactly what is happening. Canada is sitting on a treasure of natural resources and is kicking itself in the nuts by working to shut down the production of them. This isn’t helping the environment as Canadian demand isn’t dropping. It just means that dictatorships are getting more of our money to supply us while we idiotically sit on our own pool of oil.
Some in BC yelp “We will just get our oil from Washington!”.
Again kids that won’t work. Much of Washington’s oil comes from Alberta so yeah the price will still spike.
Unfortunately the Blair King’s out there are few and far between while the Denny Morrison’s are all too common. That’s why its time to turn those taps off for awhile. Until Canadians truly feel the hit in the wallet, they just won’t get it.
The majority of Canadians have only the Canada Pension Plan and it is incumbent on them to save and invest on their own if they want a comfortable retirement.
Roughly 40% of Canadians have a workplace pension plan. Those plans vary in contribution requirements and how much (if any) contribution matching is done by the employer.
Only a tiny tiny fraction of people get to enjoy the massive pension benefits that Calgary city council members get.
On top of the incredibly generous taxpayer funded pension plan, Naheed Nenshi gets a second pension plan on top of that which is 100% taxpayer funded. Not only is Nenshi one of the highest paid mayors in Canada, he appears to be the only one who gets not one but two pensions.
His Worship however is rather well renowned for his showboating ways.
The gravy train is generous for the Mayor and council and Nenshi clearly never likes to pass up on gravy. Look at the chart below to see how much taxpayers kick in on top of the councilor contributions to their pension plan. Working folks can’t dare dream of a pension plan so generous but they get to pay for it with their ever increasing taxes in the city of Calgary.
On average, city councilors put in $1 into their pensions for every $5 that taxpayers do. Pretty sweet. Taxpayers in Calgary paid out $6.1 million in city council pension benefits over 10 years for 15 council members. Bear in mind that Mayor Nenshi likes to constantly remind us that there is utterly no room for spending cuts in city hall.
In making well over $200,000 per year plus many many benefits and a massive city councilor pension plan, lets never forget that Mayor Nenshi is getting a second pension on top of all that which is 100% funded by the taxpayers.
It takes some kind of gall to take such a gross compensation from taxpayers while commoners remain mired in a recession and then to dismiss concerns about it as showboating.
Parasites rarely concern themselves with the welfare of their hosts however.
Nenshi and some other councilors try to dodge on this issue by claiming that they are bound to follow the recommendations of the volunteer committee who puts forth recommendations on council compensation.
That dodge is nothing less than a big steaming pile of bullshit and it is rather easy to prove it wrong.
There is indeed a volunteer committee that makes recommendations on compensation. City council is under no obligation to follow those recommendations however and they can and will reject them at will.
The committee that Mr. Bowal chaired did some great research and this graphic from them shows excellently how council and mayoral compensation in Calgary measures up against other cities.
Rather stark graphic for Calgarians to see while they languish with record unemployment and constant city tax increases. No wonder His Worship gets his panties in a knot so quickly when somebody dares illustrate just how badly he and city council are milking taxpayers.
The buck stops with the mayor and city council. Despite their attempts to pretend that the responsibility lies with others, it is clear that they have full authority over their personal compensation both in salary and pensions and they are taking full advantage of that.
The bloat is repugnant when common people are tightening their belts. It has to stop.
Calling this out is not “showboating” by any means. It is being responsible and principled. Two words concepts utterly lost on Calgary’s Mayor and many council members.
Confidence is everything in the business world. A stable business environment is critical for investment in any industry. Energy projects measure their plans in years and decades rather than months. Careful long term planning and engineering is required if investment is to be committed to any major project and this sort of planning is nearly impossible when the government in power is erratic and not generally supportive of the industry. Alberta has not held investor confidence in four years now.
The collapse of energy prices certainly impacted energy development in Alberta. This is far from the first downturn however and energy companies tend to plan for the ups and downs of commodity pricing. This is why other energy jurisdictions such as Texas or even Kazakhstan are enjoying energy booms today while Alberta still languishes in a recession. Investors felt confident in those other jurisdictions while they shied away from Alberta’s sudden lurch into socialism. Who would invest developing energy in a province that just elected a governing party which traditionally opposes energy development?
I remember well when I began surveying in the oil exploration field how we would literally model projects right up to the BC border in the Chinchaga field in Northern Alberta in the 1990s. Work camps were jammed on the Alberta side and traffic was high. Meanwhile meager development happened on the West side of the border cutline as expenses were simply too high in the NDP managed British Columbia and they were mired in a union push for pipeline contractors.
Meanwhile to the East, Lloydminster excellently demonstrated the damage that NDP management can do to an energy economy. While the main street of Lloydminster is literally the border with Saskatchewan, the majority of new housing and industrial development was on the West side of town. On the eastern half were some government buildings, a few old motels and some houses that predated the NDP. Otherwise development (particularly commercial) stuck to the Alberta side where a more favorable business regime existed.
As can be seen in the picture below, the lopsided development of Lloydminster still exists today as 3/4 of the city resides West of the main street. The impact of local government on development is real and visible.
Rachel Notley had a tough task ahead of her when she formed government four years ago. She had a cabinet to fill and had a caucus with utterly no experience in the energy field. Economically the energy file is far and away the most important file in Alberta and Notley handed the ministry to Margaret McCuaig-Boyd. McCuaig-Boyd held an education degree and had utterly no energy experience. Notley chose her as energy minister simply because she was from Northern Alberta and had a better chance of being able to tell a pump jack from a radio tower than any other member of her caucus. No wonder the industry confidence was so shaken.
With the election of Jason Kenney and the United Conservative Party, the energy industry finally can have some optimism. No longer is there a government dominated by anti-energy activists and we can look forward to a mandate of economic development again rather than ideological moves towards a new economy that simply doesn’t exist yet.
It will take action rather than intent to turn Alberta’s ailing energy around. It looks very much like Kenney is ready to do so.
The passive approach to dealing with the pipeline embargo against Alberta is over. Kenney has openly stated that it is time to go to battle on this file through the courts and whatever other means he has at his disposal. While some are pooh-poohing the adversarial approach to the issue, one has to ask what the hell the appeasement approach got us? Did appointing anti-energy activists to positions within government help? Did playing footsie with Trudeau and Horgan get us :”social license”? It is time for a new approach.
It will be interesting to see Kenney’s “war room” as it develops. We desperately need to get to work in countering the misinformation about our key industry which has been spread by foreign funded activist groups which in turn supported the Notley government. It will take a lot of work to undo that damage. Striking back with legal challenges will show that we aren’t laying down any longer as well. The best defense is a good offense.
When it comes to developing investor confidence in our energy sector, the most important move will be to bring competence and experience back to the energy ministry. This is where the nuts and bolts of our industry will truly be managed and where government can make or break future development.
Kenney has a deep pool to draw from for ministers but Prasad Panda clearly stands out as the best candidate for the energy portfolio.
With nearly 30 years of direct experience as an engineer in the oilfield, Panda is more than familiar with the ins and outs of the industry. He will be able to sit down with energy leaders and talk to them one on one. Margaret McCuaig-Boyd pretty much needed a translator when speaking on energy issues. Energy leaders will find it refreshing to say the least to be able to speak to a minister in technical terms without having to try and break down what it all means to them.
Notley’s time in office has also fostered an ugly sub-industry of crony capitalism. This pretty much happens under every socialist regime. While some companies remain true to principles of free enterprise, others eagerly latch on to the party in power and become subsidy whores. They will utter whatever weasel words the Premier likes as long as they can get some state mandated protection or subsidies. It is rather sad to watch and we saw a number of companies playing in that role in the last few years.
As with any industry, the energy industry has its share of con artists and bullshitters. Those sorts will be lobbying the ministry for all they are worth as the new government finds its legs. It will be important to have a level headed and experienced energy minister in office during this critical period in order to ensure that no bad deals get cut in the rush of setting up. It will be tough to fool Panda on energy issues and with his resume in the industry he will be immune to being baffled by bullshit.
I have some first hand experience on how Prasad doesn’t take crap. I helped out in past campaigns for him and while we got along for the vast majority of the campaigns, we inevitably butted heads on some issues. In those cases Prasad quite diplomatically but sternly took me aside and made it clear who the boss was. While I certainly didn’t enjoy the dressing downs, I can’t help but respect it. I have no use for pushovers and pushovers have no place in cabinet.
Kenney only gets one shot at building his maiden cabinet and he has many tough choices. In some senses it is almost an embarrassment of riches in that he has so much caucus talent to draw from that it is tough to choose. In energy the choice is pretty clear though. With a lifetime of direct energy experience along with legislative experience as the energy critic, Prasad Panda is the ideal choice for the energy ministry. For four years cabinet picks have been based on notions such as gender balance or political favors rather than ability. Right now and with the critical portfolio of energy, ability and experience must be the only criteria and Prasad has both in spades. I look forward to seeing him guiding the recovery of our energy industry.
On Tuesday Alberta formally turned into a two party state, at least as far as elected seats go. There were 13 parties in the election and all but the NDP and UCP were decimated by the voters.
I have been involved in alternative parties for well over 20 years from when I joined the Alberta Party in the mid 90s, to forming and leading the Alberta Independence Party in 2000, to the Alberta Alliance, to Wildrose and finally ending in the UCP where for the first time in decades I find myself supporting the party in power. The seeds of the Alberta Alliance party did eventually grow into being a large part of today’s UCP but it took over a decade with many ups and downs. Alternative parties can be important and can eventually get into power but it is a tough road.
There are many reasons why people choose to join alternative parties. For some it is single issue matters as with the Marijuana Party or Green Party. For some it is formed around an individual leader. For some it is a preference of being a big fish in a small pond when it comes to management and leadership. For others it simply is a disenchantment with all of the major parties and seeking to build an entirely new alternative.
Alternative parties are important. They propose ideas and concepts that mainstream parties may not have the courage to approach. They can pressure mainstream parties by threatening to split votes in key constituencies thus will impact the actions of mainstream parties at times. Alternative parties can act as a pressure relief valve for mainstream parties as activists who insist on pushing to the extremes can be invited to leave and join a fringe party that better suits their goals. Finally, alternative parties can potentially eventually go on to form effective opposition parties or governments.
The electoral doldrums are now approaching for alternative parties. There is no time worse to try to grow your membership and raise funds than right after an election. People are tired of politics and are ready to sit back and watch the new government in action for better or for worse. With a federal election looming, it will be even that much tougher for alternative parties to manage to stay relevant.
I am going to break down all of the alternative parties with my thoughts on where they may go starting from largest to smallest.
There is no doubt that the Alberta Party is the biggest loser coming out of this election. Not only did they lose every one of the seats that they had gained from floor crossings, they lost the one and only elected seat that they had. Greg Clark had far and away been the most popular asset for the party and he was solidly turfed from his Calgary Elbow seat which he had worked so had to win and had done a very good job of representing. Their leader Stephen Mandel didn’t even come close in Edmonton McClung and the rest of their candidates landed in the low single digit levels of support. This was nothing less than a catastrophe for the party.
Since being taken over by disenchanted Green Party folks nearly 10 years ago, the Alberta Party has become the sad sack of the Alberta electoral scene with a large social media presence and a microscopic electoral one. They have spent nearly a decade pursuing a mythical middle. They felt that if they shouted “centrist” loudly enough that they would pull people from both the left and the right and win elections. So far all they have done is alienate folks from both sides and the polls show it. Like it or not, people tend to land on one side of the spectrum or another to a degree and they have little use for the mushy middle.
The Alberta Party has been plagued by bizarre strategic moves as well. In constantly refusing to run in by-elections they missed chances to build their electoral base and train themselves in campaigning. Worst of all, they let embittered refugees from the defunct Progressive Conservative Party take them over. That new element insanely pushed Greg Clark out of the leadership. This led to months of a leadership race where nobody wanted the job. Stephen Mandel was finally pulled in an placed as the new leader.
Under Mandel’s leadership the party lurched from one mess to another. The worst was when Mandel among others nearly found themselves banned from running in the election due to his not having found time to file a nomination expense report. A task that takes about 20 minutes. This hardly instilled confidence in people that the Alberta Party was ready to govern the province.
They tweeted and shouted from the sidelines and they ran many candidates. Despite this, the Alberta Party simply could not break that elusive double digit barrier and finished at 9% support.
All that said, over 150,000 Albertans voted for the Alberta Party and this can’t be dismissed. There definitely is a degree of demand for what they are proposing out there but they need to get their shit together if they are to have a hope in properly capturing it.
The Alberta Party is going to need to do some deep introspection. They will need a new leader and they need to turf the pack of Redford era weasels that they inherited from the Progressive Conservative Party. They need to quit putting out the fluffy feelgood policy statements that try to appeal to everybody. This party needs to find its ideological niche and to own it. Create a solid base and then draw people to it. More “big listens” or limp “party for everyone” statements will keep them languishing on the fringes.
The Alberta Party is the best placed party to turn itself into a contender in the next general election. Their choices in the next two years will determine if this is to happen.
It took over a century but the Liberal Party of Alberta finally went from being the first governing party in Alberta to a loss of every seat with a dismal 1% support level throughout the province.
Aside from a short resurgence in the 1990s under Lawrence Decore, the Liberal brand in Alberta has struggled since the government of Pierre Trudeau. The National Energy Program of the 1980s essentially turned the Liberal name toxic in Alberta and Trudeau’s witless son Justin is certainly not doing them any favors. Lackluster leadership and a general lack of electoral support has led to a constant decline for the party within Alberta.
David Khan is bright and personable enough, but he wasn’t capable of breathing life into the dying party in the last election. Calgary Mountainview was the last Liberal bastion in Alberta and Khan finished a distant fourth place with 5.6% support.
Hell, even I managed to pull 6.5% when I ran in Mountainview in 2008 and I was working in the Arctic for all but three days of the campaign.
I think we have finally seen the end of the Liberal Party within Alberta. Only the most masochistic of delusional optimists will be ready to take on this clunker and try to turn it viable again.
The demise of the Alberta Liberals will aid the Alberta Party though as they try to create a left of center alternative that Albertans can get behind. The anchor of the pernicious Liberal name will not hamper their efforts.
Coming in next with 0.7% support is the latest incarnation of the Alberta Independence Party.
The party under previously unknown David Bjorkman managed to become registered by running candidates in over 50% of the constituencies in Alberta. While that path to registration has existed for some time, this is the first time that a party has actually taken it successfully in order to become registered. I tried that method in 2001 and failed.
It says a great deal about the motivation behind the folks that they could pull this off. It is no small task to find 63 people willing and able to get run for the party along with paying the deposits to run and getting the requisite signatures. There is some strong organizational power lurking within that organization.
The candidate diversity was striking as well with a large contingent of aboriginal candidates and the only transgendered candidate to run in this election.
That being said, the party didn’t really set the world on fire with their results. Most of their candidates didn’t break 1% support and I think their best showing was just shy of 2%.
In leading a secessionist party into an election before I learned one simple fact that still stands today. While people will talk big about secession and will respond to polls favorably for secession, when push comes to shove at the ballot box Albertans do not want to take that leap. This is not to say that it will never happen but at this time it is clear that we are nowhere close to having a large segment of the population ready to call it quits on confederation.
I think the Alberta Independence Party is here to stay. If they put the same energy and organizational talent into the next couple years that they did in the months leading up to this election, I expect that they will start pulling some better numbers in some choice constituencies. They won’t be in contention for winning the province but they could very well play a spoiler in some seats.
If Justin Trudeau gets re-elected we can expect to see growth in the AIP as well. As we saw in the 1980s a secessionist can even win a seat in a by-election if the anger is strong enough. The anger cools quickly however.
I expect that Kenney will take a stronger stance in steps towards independence if we get such an adversarial relationship with Ottawa in the future which will defuse the efforts of the AIP.
Another hindrance for a secessionist party is that they are bound to be single issue no matter how hard they may work to develop policy. People want to vote for a government rather than an issue. Secession belongs in the land of advocacy and referendums rather than parties. The AIP can and likely will fill that advocacy role now that they are registered and can raise funds.
Next we have Derek Fildebrandt’s Freedom Conservative Party at 0.5%,
I say “Derek Fildebrandt’s” party because in reality the party simply was all about him.
I like Derek. He is bright, ambitious and has a talent for bringing issues to the forefront. That made it all the more disappointing when he managed to crater his political career with so many errors of his own making.
The Alberta First Party was languishing as an unknown registered entity with a soft-separatist stance. Getting a sitting MLA if even for a short time was a coup for the small organization and it is easy to manage something of that size. This was a big fish in a small pond scenario.
Despite Fildebrandt’s initial claims that they would not run candidates in constituencies where there was a risk of vote splitting in favor of the NDP, FCP candidates began springing up in some very vulnerable constituencies. This cut deeply into the credibility of this nascent party and took away one of the major defenses for having another right of center party in the electoral list.
It became clear that the party was dominated by members who found themselves disenchanted with the UCP for any number of reasons. While spite can certainly motivate some folks, it doesn’t draw electoral support.
The strongest showing the FCP got was 7.7% in Chestemere Strathmore where Derek was handily beaten by Leela Aheer.
I just don’t see this party going anywhere aside from being a rump on the right wing sidelines. If the UCP drifts too far left as the PCs had 10 years ago, the FCP may be revived by a personable leader and pressure the UCP from the right as the Wildrose Party had. For now I expect they will flounder.
As for Derek, I really hope he finds his path. Perhaps with a few years of time out from electoral politics he can come back with some credibility. He certainly has the potential and he is young enough.
Next is the Green Party of Alberta. To put it simply, they are left leaning and single issue despite their constant claims to be centrist and deeper.
They will always be on the scene and will always pull a small number of votes from their core supporters. If they have any impact at all, it will be to be a spoiler in some constituencies by pulling votes from the NDP.
They finished with 0.4% which is about as good as they can expect in Alberta.
Next at 0.3% is the Alberta Advantage Party under Marilyn Burns.
Burns suffers from a chronic oppositional disorder and simply likes leaving parties in order to attack them. Burns started with the Alberta Alliance, stomped away to the Wildrose group, stomped off to the wilderness and then formed her own little party.
Spite doesn’t sell and while the party remains as a registered entity, it won’t go anywhere as it stands now. Like the FCP it may morph into a viable right of center opposition party but it will need some major changes before that happens. Until then they are a non-factor being led by somebody incapable of working with others.
Communism is a vile ideology responsible for hundreds of millions of deaths around the world.
Despite that, we still have a small group of extremists openly supporting communism and they have been led by Naomi Rankin in Alberta for some years.
The communists have a registered party and managed to pull 277 votes from either ignorant extremist assholes or folks who accidentally put an X in the wrong box.
They will always be around and they will thankfully go nowhere.
Perhaps now that Anne McGrath is unemployed she will go back to her overt communist roots and take the leadership of the party. In that case these scumbags may find 400 votes throughout the province.
The Reform Party of Alberta is registered and hanging in the wings.
This rump was built by Randy Thorsteinson. Randy is like Marilyn Burns only he has the fiscal means and organizational skills to keep going. Randy went from Social Credit to Alberta Alliance to forming this party. His pattern is consistent. If he can’t lead the parade, he will stomp away and form his own. This party isn’t going anywhere.
The Pro-life Alberta Political association is what the remnants of the Social Credit Party turned itself into.
Not much needs to be said about these guys. As can be seen, they are single issue and going nowhere though they will act as a partisan filter in drawing the hysteric pro-lifers to them and getting them out of serious parties.
The Wildrose and PC parties are still registered but are essentially dead in the water.
A lot can happen in four years. Some of these parties may blossom and some may die. New parties may appear on the scene.
While they hang in the fringes, these parties play a role and can’t be fully dismissed. It is too bad that they didn’t at least get a few seats to add some diversity of voices in the legislature. Time will tell if this two party system will last or not.
Notley and the NDP do not have the interests of Albertans in mind as they govern. The NDP are dominated by extreme anti-energy ideologues and they exist to serve the needs of organized labour.
The depth of big union dominance within the NDP really needs to be laid out and understood by voters as it is sometimes forgotten. How on earth can we expect the NDP to negotiate union contracts in good faith on behalf of Albertans?
Let’s just begin with looking at the number of NDP candidates and MLAs who are in leading roles within unions.
Aside from leadership roles within unions, many other candidates are union members and mostly within the public sector. .
There is of course utterly nothing wrong with belonging to a union. Union leaders and members have every right to run for public office. The problem is in having a governing party that is dominated and overwhelmed with union influence.
There is no way that Notley’s NDP government will be able to bring spending under control when they are so beholden to public sector unions. They will cave to every union demand when “negotiating” contracts and the expenditures will continue to grow. The conflict of interest is just too much.
The NDP constitution forces a massive labor presence in the makeup of the provincial council. The party will always be controlled by big labor and will serve the interests of big labor above all other needs. The Alberta Federation of Labor and it’s 67 affiliates all have reserved places on the board of the NDP.
Excerpt from the Alberta NDP Constitution
Article VII – Provincial Council
7.01 The Provincial Council shall consist of:
(a) the Provincial Executive;
(b) two (2) members to be elected from the Party Caucus in the Legislative Assembly of Alberta;
one (1) member elected by those members of the Party caucus in the House
of Commons representing Alberta Electoral Districts.
three (3) members elected from each provincial Constituency Association,
who shall not be a Member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta;
(e) one (1) member elected from each Federal Electoral District Association within the Province of Alberta.
(f) the members of the Federal Council residing in Alberta;
(g) five (5) members from each caucus of the Party;
(h) two (2) members of the Alberta Federation of Labour; and
(i) one (1) member from each of the affiliates in Alberta.
The ties to big labor and associated PACs and third party advertisers are far too pervasive for the NDP to ever govern independently of the demands from unions.
Notley’s NDP simply can’t serve the interests of Albertans while in government. Union needs and demands from foreign groups such as the Rockefeller Foundation will always guide the path of the Alberta New Democratic party.
We have a chance to turn the tide this Tuesday. Let’s hope Albertans remove the NDP from power so we may begin on the path to balancing the budget and opening Alberta for business again.
If Notley’s NDP gets another four years in power, our great grandchildren will be paying the debt accumulated due to the oilfield shutdown and money being funneled into big labor.
The advertising during this election campaign has been overwhelming. TV, Radio, social media, billboards, newspapers… It doesn’t matter where we look we see political advertising. While this is hardly shocking during an election, it is surprising seeing the volume of advertising when it is considered that all of the parties are bound by a maximum of $2 million in expenditures during this election. While that sounds like a lot at a glance, it really doesn’t go far when a party is reaching out to an entire province. There are countless other non advertising expenses There are only two parties that have that kind of funding as well.
Third parties should indeed have the right to promote their interests during elections. Due to the cap on party spending however, some heavy regulation is required. Are these third parties actual interest groups or are they simply acting as direct arms of parties in order to bypass the spending maximums? It is pretty difficult to distinguish, particularly with the NDP and their intertwined relationship with organized labor.
I was shocked to find that the Alberta New Democratic Party actually is bound within their own constitution to have two members of the Alberta Federation of Labor on their provincial board along with one of each of the Alberta affiliates (there are 67 affiliates). That leaves the NDP provincial board utterly dominated by labor affiliates many of whom are registered as third party advertisers. The Treasurer of the NDP serves in senior positions within several registered third party advertisers. How on earth are these acting as separate entities within this election without collusion?
Other relationships are evident as well. Unfortunately the Alberta NDP is very secretive and they hide who is actually serving on their provincial board. In light of all this intertwining with third party advertisers however, one can see why they are keeping the list to themselves.
This has led me to feel that we need the Electoral Commissioner to look into this. They have the means and authority to take a closer look at just who is controlling the party and what their relationships with third party advertisers are. Collusion to bypass spending limits could be a very serious offense.
The complaint I sent is below. I do hope they find time to investigate soon.
I will be posting more on the relationships of the Alberta NDP with outside parties in the next couple days.