Getting real with homelessness

I had an unusual experience in the last few days. A homeless gentleman showed up in my pub one evening. He was friendly enough. He paid for some food and a few drinks and then hung about with some of our regulars for the evening who ended up putting him up for the night. While homeless folks are pretty common in Calgary, it is unusual in Priddis as we have little in the way to shelter them.

The next morning the fellow showed up in our coffee shop and hung about there for the day. Again, he caused no problems and bought a couple items. He is pretty rough around the edges though and made our younger staff members in the coffee shop a little uncomfortable. He then moved into the pub for the evening when it opened. He ate a pizza and then wandered off to where he had camped.

This morning the poor devil showed up at the coffee shop at 7am quite frozen and exhausted. It turns out that while he had a tent, he had no sleeping bag or blanket. He says he had heard large animals moving about in the night which is very possible as we have many cougars and black bears in the area. He was quite miserable and had barely slept.

I had tried to coax him into coming to Calgary with me yesterday to no avail. He was quite eager for a lift into the city today after his experience last night. I drove him in and dropped him off downtown today.

I had a long conversation with him on the drive. It sounds like this guy led an interesting though rough life (as I am sure is the case with many homeless). Substance abuse had taken it’s toll on him physically and while I am not a professional by any means it was pretty clear to me that while the gentleman was quite smart, he had some serious mental health issues.

This man was harmless and troubled. I very much hope he finds some help and settles in somewhere.

Now what I am getting to with this long ramble is that we have to get over this ridiculous and ongoing notion of “ending homelessness” and get more realistic in mitigating it. The man I was dealing with in this last couple few days will never be able to hold down a regular job and likely will never be able to place himself into a position where he can maintain an independent living arrangement. This man needs help mentally and fiscally and will need a degree of care to ensure that he doesn’t come to harm.

Rent controls, forcing developers to build certain housing units, secondary suites etc. and all the rest of that trash that comes from these initiatives to “end homelessness” will do nothing to aid folks like the man I met this week and the thousands of others who are in similar states yet this is exactly what these people who claim to want to end homelessness keep focussing on.

We need to realize that there are some people who will forever be transient no matter what we offer for housing. Some of these people will never kick their substance abuse nor will they somehow beat mental health issues.

Let’s work with those realities and see how we can best help these people with realistic mitigation and care options instead of pursuing expensive pie-in-the sky housing goals that will not help the people who have truly fallen through our cracks in society. I know that the authors of these countless initiatives are predominantly well meaning, but they are also blinding themselves to the true realities of some of these situations.

We need to invest more heavily in mental health facilities and yes, even have some people institutionalized at times. We also need to invest much more in temporary sheltering and substance abuse treatment. The funds wasted chasing potheads around would be well spent on this for example.

Like so many things (such as native issues), we need policy makers to work on dealing with hard realities rather than fluffy ribbon cuttings. It will make a world of difference to us all down the road.

::rant off::

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Calgary Foothills by-election will be an exciting one and critical for all parties

I should begin with explaining my two month hiatus from blogging and take advantage of the chance to plug my latest venture. Shortly after last spring’s exhausting general election, my wife Jane and I decided to treat our exhaustion with the purchase of a pub and coffee shop in Priddis. With six weeks of planning and renovations we managed to crack the doors of the pub two weeks ago and the coffee shop just last weekend. This of course has taken up nearly every minute of our time in this last couple months. We were never under any illusion that this would be some kind of easy money. So far things are going great.

Info on both can be found on the facebook page. Our main website is still under development. https://www.facebook.com/WatersEdgePub

janesNow, on to the by-election in Foothills.

The NDP will be putting everything they have into the race in order to prove that their election as government was not the accidental consequence of an electorate lashing back at the corrupted and entitled Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta. The Wildrose Party will be throwing everything they have into the race in order to prove that they are more than a rural party and that they are indeed the government in waiting. The remnants of the Progressive Conservative Party will be throwing what little they have into the race in desperate hopes that they can regain relevance in the eyes of the voters. The Alberta Party will put all they have into the race in hopes of proving that they are more than a one seat show. That will be tough as the hipster density in Northwest Calgary is far lower than that of Calgary Elbow.

Staying true to principle, the Wildrose Party is holding an open nomination race for Foothills. Nomination races are always challenging as all the contenders are on the same team and the races can become internally divisive if a party is not careful. These races are critical in letting members directly choose who will represent them in the legislature too. The ongoing gross abuse of nomination races by the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta was a large contributing factor in the collapse of their member support.

The Wildrose has two excellently qualified contenders for the nomination in Foothills and a third fellow who I admittedly don’t know much about.  Those people are Kathy McDonald, Prasad Panda and Dr. John Huang.

I won’t say much on Dr. Huang as I can’t find much information about him.

Much like last spring’s general election, this by-election will be based on principles and trust more than ideology. Both Prasad Panda and Kathy McDonald proved their principles and loyalty in their remaining loyal to and putting their all into the Wildrose Party after the Idiotic Eleven crossed the floor which led to their well deserved and mass unemployment. That dogged and determined loyalty is essential in gaining the trust and faith of the members.

When looking at the two contenders though I have to solidly endorse Prasad Panda.

Residency is important for representation. While MLAs can effectively serve without living in their constituency, they do connect best with their constituents if they actually live in the constituency. Panda has been a resident of Foothills for a long time. In a tight race, the electoral viability of the candidate is important and that edge of being local will certainly help.

The most important reason to get Prasad Panda into the legislature though is that we need some strength in there for the energy sector. With Notley’s appointment of a totally unqualified Energy Minister who is aided by an anti-energy activist as her Chief of Staff, the energy industry in Alberta is reeling. Alberta has had to rely on Premier Brad Wall to stand up for our interests while Notley tries to give veto power over Alberta’s energy development to Quebec. Alberta is in a terrifying spot under the Notley regime and we need qualified and wise voices to speak to our industry needs in the legislature.

With over 25 years as an engineer in Alberta’s energy industry, Prasad Panda is excellently qualified to address issues in the industry and to add a much needed voice of reason to our legislature on these issues. If we continue to allow Notley to run unchecked over our energy industry in these next few years the consequences will be dire for the entire province.

I strongly encourage the Wildrose Party Calgary Foothills members to vote for Prasad Panda to represent them in the nomination. Having worked with Prasad in two election campaigns, I truly can’t think of a more principled and dedicated candidate. Many a night I had to chase him from the campaign headquarters at 1am as he would not give up. He will put everything he has into representing the constituents who elect him. Truly the only fault I can attribute to Prasad is that he can be prone to overworking himself.

prasadMore info on Prasad can be found here: http://www.prasadpanda.ca/  Drop him a note. Prasad is always happy to directly interact.

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Those who rewrite history want to doom us to repeat it!

 

rev

When Danielle Smith came out and announced that she was going to write a book, I have to admit I was pretty happy to hear it. While still stinging from the betrayal and damage caused by Smith and friends last December, I truly did want to hear some insight on what was running through her head at the time. Many of us have speculated on all sorts of scenarios but a candid and full accounting of the period and the actions could have filled in some of the gaps.

It looks like my faith in Danielle Smith is yet again misplaced.

Danielle has been popping up in a number of news outlets lately and to be frank she is spreading a load of utter bullshit on the events leading up to the mass floor crossing. Historic revisionists are usually writers for the winning side in a war and they usually don’t try to start to rewrite history until at least some years have passed since the events happened.

The currently unemployed Danielle Smith and her allies clearly lost the figurative war in Alberta and only a scant few months have passed since she crossed the floor and tried to destroy the Wildrose Party behind her. Memories are still rather fresh on what the political atmosphere was at the time and it is simply ridiculous for Smith to try and rewrite history when so many people can clearly see the revisionism for what it is.

Danielle Smith’s behaviour remains bizarre. While folks can’t make sense of her actions of last December, she continues to speak and act in a manner that could almost be considered as irrational. While being essentially disgraced and on the political outside, Smith still found a podium with numerous media outlets. Smith had an opportunity to speak with humility and transparency. She could have begun the steps towards restoring her shattered political credibility. Instead of taking this course of action, Danielle Smith chose to outright fabricate the events of the recent past.

Brock Harrison was on the inside at the time and was close to Danielle over the years. He served a number of roles within the Wildrose Party including director of communications for the party and as Smith’s press secretary.

Brock had been listening to Danielle Smith’s BS in the press and he clearly had seen enough of it. Brock wrote an excellent piece countering Smith’s revisionism that appeared in the National Post.

Harrison’s piece can be read here and I strongly recommend reading it.

I am going to do some reading between the lines and may be wrong in my speculation. The first revelations of Danielle Smith’s intention to write a book came out in a twitter exchange between her and Brock. I am paraphrasing but if I recall, she said something along the lines of having found inspiration in wanting to write the account after having sat down with Brock in Edmonton. I can only guess that Harrison (like myself) was happy to hear that the Wildrose years would be documented for readers to consume and perhaps gain understanding of some events. That would explain what I would guess to be profound disappointment on Brock Harrison’s part when he found that Danielle Smith won’t even accurately relate the events of last December to the press today. In light of this, it would be very difficult to believe anything that Danielle Smith may choose to put into print with a book.

It is clear that we can’t count on Danielle Smith to help remember what happened and that is sad. The lessons to be learned from the formative years of the Wildrose Party all the way up to Smith’s departure are critical ones for party members going forward. The leadership errors and internal strife need to be exposed, studied and remembered or we will indeed be doomed to repeat some of our errors.

Once again Danielle Smith found herself with a great opportunity and once again she chose to throw it aside. An accurate accounting of the past could have helped place her in a statesman sort of role or commentator down the road. Instead, Smith chose to reduce her credibility even further.

Rather than being a teacher for the politically ambitious, Smith will simply serve as an example.

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2015 leadership & general elections are now over. What’s next for Wildrose members?

Alberta’s tumultuous year continues to be tumultuous. With the NDP gaining a solid majority in the legislature and the Wildrose Party gaining a solid mandate as official opposition, we should be able to see a degree of political stability for a couple years. It is arguable as to whether these will be good years for Alberta politically and I don’t doubt that we will be arguing that at length as time and legislation passes. The two key roles are established and solid in the legislature right now with freshly elected leaders so there should be little reason to see major turnovers in government for some time to come (though after this past year, little will surprise me).

Rachel Notley is settling in to her role as Premier and working to build a government from a rather green bunch of MLAs.

Brian Jean is embracing his role as leader of the official opposition and is signaling that he has a strong and targeted plan going forward.

caucus

The remnants of the Progressive Conservative Party are in pure survival mode as a distant third party in the legislature and have rushed to appoint Ric McIver as interim leader in order to have a speaker at their leader’s dinner in a couple days.

So with all those balls in motion, what should the grassroots membership of the Wildrose Party do now?

The first thing the party members need to do is realize that both the leadership race for the party and the 2015 Alberta general election are over. Most members realize this but in looking at social media it can be seen that some folks still don’t seem to realize that those races are done. Jean will be our leader for years to come and there is little indication that the NDP will be dissolving the legislature any time soon. The time for complaining of the leadership race or picking apart the resumes of NDP candidates is finished. It won’t change anything and we have better things to do.

Priority number one for the Wildrose Party members will be to stabilize the membership base to the manage the party effectively and with principle. Nothing proved better how strong the base of the Wildrose membership is than how quickly the members rallied after the efforts of Danielle Smith and her self-serving gang of MLAs tried to destroy the party. The leader does not make the party nor does the caucus make the party. The members make the party and when Smith and gang found themselves alone while thousands of members got to work to seek a new leader I think some folks began to really realize what the Wildrose Party is about.

The Wildrose Party is a truly member driven movement and the membership is driven by that ideal. Any other party would have fallen to pieces after having it’s own leader and the majority of the caucus abandon it. The Wildrose Party galvanized after the treachery of the leader and went on to win even more seats than Smith was ever capable of gaining. The current leader and caucus would be well served to remember this lesson in years coming.

The Wildrose Party members base flourished despite the leadership of Danielle Smith rather than because of it. Smith always chafed under the grassroots based management of the Wildrose Party and the battles between her and grassroots members were quiet but constant. One glaring example was when the leader’s office actually tried to change the party constitution to empower Smith to choose the Executive Director of the party.

Using this blog as a springboard, the efforts of Smith to grab power from the members in the 2013 AGM were exposed and heartily quashed on the convention floor by the collected membership.

The encroachment of the leader’s office into the affairs of party operations were constant and frustrating whether with things as small as choosing the location of the party office or as large as increasingly dipping into the party funds for an ever growing entourage for an insecure leader. The interference in party nominations was merciless and constant as well and caused great ire among the constituency associations.

The grassroots kept standing up and slapping Danielle Smith down when she overstepped her authority in the party. This constant push and pull led to a growing mistrust and tension between the members and the leadership over time. That was a great contributing factor in Smith’s callow departure to the Prentice PC party.

The political doldrums between elections has begun and this is when members have to get to work. The reason that the Wildrose Party membership was so abused by Danielle Smith was that we let her! We as members simply can’t let that slow creeping encroachment upon the members authority happen again.

The part of the Wildrose Party constitution that Danielle Smith and her advisors loathed is quoted below:

5. GOVERNANCE5.1. The governance of the Party shall reflect the following principles:

5.1.1. authority within the Party resides in its members.

5.1.2. The Leader and the Executive Committee are accountable to members of the Party and the Caucus.

5.1.3. the Caucus is accountable to the Party and to their constituents.

It is that portion of our constitution that saved us as a party and every active member should memorize and strive to abide by it.

When Jim Prentice scurried off into the sunset with a temper tantrum after winning, only about 20 people were in attendance during his petulant election night speech.

prenticee

The lack of supporters during an election night loss showed the true and fickle nature of the Progressive Conservative base. When things were going well for the PCs, members would gather in the hundreds at these things. As soon as things went badly, the Progressive Conservative membership headed for the hills as the leader abandoned what was left of them. While the Wildrose gathered hundreds at a Calgary meeting scant weeks after the Smith treachery, the PCs couldn’t get 30 people together on the night that they lost the election.

This is where things get important! Those fickle PC members didn’t literally vanish. Those people will be resurfacing very soon and it will be within the ranks of the Wildrose Party. There is a large element that was within the PC Party that held no personal sense of principle. Those people simply wanted to latch on to what they felt was the winning team and as we saw they held utterly no loyalty when times got tough.

Those self-serving, fickle members and staffers from the PC party are already trying to whisper in Brian Jean’s ear. You can rest assured their resumes are showing up in Wildrose inboxes already. It is critical that the Wildrose Party members stay on guard and not let these people poison the ranks of the party and lead us to the sort of top down corruption that finally killed the PC party.

Care must be taken not to reject genuine former supporters of the PC party. They had many very good people within their ranks who can and will contribute greatly to the Wildrose Party in years to come. Becoming introverted as a party will not help us. Going on a witch hunt of former PC members won’t help us.

What the members of the Wildrose Party must do is elect a strong and vigilant Executive Committee this fall that will unbendingly govern itself by the party constitution. The presence of weasels within a party is inevitable. It is through the application of the party constitution that these weasels will remain powerless within the party. It will only be through an empowered and active Executive Committee that we will keep the rot from growing within us again.

The greatest threat to the upwardly mobile Wildrose Party will not come from the PC party or the NDP, it will come from within. We have the means to isolate that threat but only if we remain active and informed as members.

We need to take a breather as the government get’s itself in order for the first time in 44 years. Jean and Notley will have their hands full exposing and cleaning up the mess and corruption left by the PC regime for some time. As has been reported, the shredders are working overtime in government offices right now.

shredders
Brian Jean has an important job to do. The best way we can help him do it is to ensure that we do our job as members. Let’s keep the lines of authority within the party defined so our leader and caucus can focus on the legislature and not worry about the operations of the party.

We can form government in four years. That is a long time in political terms however. It was more than a cliché when folks said the 2015 election was about trust. A great part of the trust lost by the PC party was the public observing the infighting and dictatorial top down abuse of the PC party membership by it’s own leadership. Let’s ensure that we don’t go down that road by keeping our members active and empowered. The time to start on that is right now.

 

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2015 Alberta Political Obituary

In not so loving memory of 11 former MLAs who ignored the will of the party members and electors that gave them their short-lived political careers.

Let their political demise serve as a reminder to aspiring opportunists.

Danielle Smith 2009-2015

Danielle Smith 2009-2015

Rob Anderson 2008-2015

Rob Anderson 2008-2015

Bruce McAllister 2012-2015

Bruce McAllister 2012-2015

Jeff Wilson 2012-2015

Jeff Wilson 2012-2015

Bruce Rowe 2012-2015

Bruce Rowe 2012-2015

Rod Fox 2012-2015

Rod Fox 2012-2015

Gary Bikman 2012-2015

Gary Bikman 2012-2015

Jason Hale 2012-2015

Jason Hale 2012-2015

Kerry Towle 2012-2015

Kerry Towle 2012-2015

Ian Donovan 2012-2015

Ian Donovan 2012-2015

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There is no right wing split in Alberta.

Though the voices are in a tiny minority, they are already becoming annoying.

Led by Danielle Smith and some other now homeless political types who found themselves politically homeless due to latching their careers to the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta, this small chorus is trying to convince people that the Wildrose Party must merge with the dying PC party to stop this perceived split in the right. I guess that laying your own political downfall at the feet of an imaginary ideological split among the province is easier on a person than accepting that one’s own political instinct was crap. It is weak rationalizing and it simply doesn’t add up.

I will lay it out in simple terms as math is hard for some!

Here are the vote gains/losses in this election compared to 2012:

Progressive Conservatives: loss of 154,357

Wildrose Party:   loss of 82,224

Liberal Party:  loss of 65,455

NDP:    gain of 476,387

In 2012 the two parties that some consider to be right wing made up 78% of the vote in Alberta when combined. In 2015 this fell to 52% of the vote.

Let those numbers sink in. There is no split of the perceived right here. This is a collapse in support of the two right of center parties.

The 2015 election was not about right and left. This election was about trust and principles and it was won by populism. The folks foolishly muttering about merging parties had better realize this or we will see an eight year term of the Notley led NDP in Alberta. People don’t want to see a merged party of one ideology or another. They simply want to see a party that they feel they can trust for a change.

I spent about 13 hours per day on one of the campaigns in Calgary for the entire election. Right from the beginning of the campaign, the feedback and feel we were getting was disconcerting to say the least. Folks would call and ask what we were seeing on the ground and the best answer I could give was “it’s really weird out there”.

The anger of the electorate at the doors was palpable. People were outraged with the Prentice PCs and disgusted with his self-serving actions whether from drawing in the Wildrose floor crossers, the wretched budget, the never ending internal scandals or I think most of all an early election call that was clearly only done to serve the party in power. People were making it more than clear that they wanted to punish the Progressive Conservatives and they wanted to do it badly.

This led us to think we should be the clear second choice for people but that wasn’t the case. While people at the doors made it clear that they didn’t want to vote for the PCs, they became quite reticent when we would ask them to support us instead. While they loathed the PC party under Prentice, they were not exactly endeared by the Wildrose Party either. Whether fair or not, we were still suffering under the hangover of the floor crossings and people simply didn’t know the new leader. At best most doors in the early part of the election appeared angry but undecided.

The debate was the turning point. People were waiting to get a clear look at who the alternatives for governing our province really were and they watched the debate closely. The contrast in the debate could not have been more clear between the leaders. Prentice came across as an arrogant weasel. Swann came off as the has been that he is. Jean came across as wooden and repetitive and Notley came across as dynamic, principled and energetic. In that 1.5 hours the minds of the electorate went NDP and it was folks from all sides of the spectrum. Not right or left.

When the election is about trust, it is a clear handicap having a brand new and unknown leader. While people do not dislike the new leader, they are not yet ready to embrace him either. Jean’s opportunity to get to know a large segment of Albertans was in that debate and to be blunt, he blew it catastrophically. Jean had been coached to stick to a simple script and to never deviate. He was coached to dodge specifics on questions by repeating a stock line and he was coached to avoid thinking on his feet. The Wildrose needs to fire that coach!

In watching that debate, even I as a hardcore, partisan Wildroser had to wonder if I could vote for a party led by this robot. One columnist best described Jean’s debate performance as “ghastly” and I think that hits it on the head. Nothing irks me faster than seeing a leader dodge questions. It makes them look untrustworthy and there was no worse time than during that debate to appear so. Even being wrong on a couple specific facts yet appearing sincere and energized would have been better for Jean in that debate.

Policy specifics meant nothing in that debate to voters. People were looking for energy and a sense of sincerity. Notley won it by all accounts.

A silver lining here is that Brian Jean’s debate performance was out of character for him. In following rallies and events Jean showed a fantastic and genuine energy and wit. When seeing Jean at other gatherings, it is tough to imagine that this is the same puppet like fellow that we observed just a few weeks ago at the debate.

Inexperience and a simply harrowing series of events in this last three months really do explain much of Jean’s appearance as a leader in the 2015 election. From a whirlwind leadership race, to the death of his son to the call of the general election Jean simply never got a moment to breath and adjust to these changes. With four years as leader of the opposition Jean now has the time and will have the resources to grow into the role that he has earned. I am confident he will do so and as Albertans get to know him, that trust will grow.

While time and genuine effort will help grow that trust that Jean and the Wildrose need, embracing the remnants of the corrupted and withering PC party through a merger would have the opposite effect. Alberta’s most despised party has now been packaged in a neat 9 seat rump and a growing and invigorated Wildrose Party would be insane to embrace the baggage and mistrust that comes with that party.

Navel gazing about a right wing split will do nothing to displace the NDP government. Notley won on trust and will only lose when a party that has gained trust shows up to challenge her.

Bear this in mind, almost every person who claims that the Wildrose and PC parties must merge now were of the same chorus of people who loudly and confidently declared the Wildrose Party as being dead last December.

Sort of says worlds about their political instincts doesn’t it?

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Party members get the final word (along with the electorate).

Voters in Alberta in general have been used and abused by our provincial government for quite some time now. Few have been democratically abused more though than the party members of the Progressive Conservatives and the Wildrose Party (pre-crossing) in the last 12 months.

The very essence of the party system is to facilitate organization and election of like minded people to office. At the core of this system is the nomination system where members will campaign and choose who will represent them in elections. This of course is the very area where the unprincipled in politics (alas there are many of them) choose to meddle the most.

The Wildrose Party under Danielle Smith’s leadership and with Rob Anderson’s constant interference was brutal in their efforts to manipulate nominations. Members in constituencies around the province were getting increasingly infuriated with the delay of nominations and arm twisting of potential candidates as they sought to get their chosen ones in. It is this sort of thing that led to member blowback against Danielle Smith and was a contributing factor to her callow departure from the leadership of the party.

andersonAnderson and Smith were truly delusional and lost in their own bubbles in thinking that the party membership would follow them when they organized their brutal act of treachery and joined the Prentice Progressive Conservatives.

The membership of the Wildrose Party was actually renewed and emboldened by the departure of Smith and her compatriots. While it hurt the party in the short term, the core is stronger and more dedicated than ever as the worst of it’s unprincipled members are now no longer with it.

Rob Anderson was the first to recognize that he was politically finished and he figured it out in rather short order. Having screwed the membership and supporters in Airdrie from both parties in two different floor crossings, Rob Anderson found himself utterly alone and despised by the membership in both the Progressive Conservatives and the Wildrose Party. Knowing he was politically finished, Anderson scurried off into the sunset to try and work on a new and less public career. Jason Hale and Bruce Rowe quietly fled the mess of their own making soon afterwards.

Danielle Smith maintained her delusion right up until the Progressive Conservative members got the chance to kick her out of office which they eagerly and overwhelmingly did. Smith’s treachery and abuse of the members who supported her led to the utter end of what had appeared to be one of the most promising political careers in Canada. Word is that Smith didn’t even attend the first Progressive Conservative constituency association meeting in person after having crossed the floor. Had she a clue how powerful the members are and how enraged they could be, perhaps she could have salvaged the nomination (though I doubt it). Smith will now fade into well earned obscurity as an odd footnote in Alberta political history.

mcallister

When livid party members tossed floor crossers Gary Bikman and Rod Fox out on their self-serving asses in nomination races along with Smith, Prentice panicked. It was clear that there was no way that Bruce McAllister was going to survive an open nomination race. The PC party jumped in and disqualified party loyalist Jamie Lall in hopes of maintaining at least one of their floor crossing trophies of prominence.

Lall_Jamie.jpg

A rightly enraged and motivated Lall entered the race for Chestermere-Rocky View as an independent candidate along with his considerable local support down there. The Progressive Conservative constituency association is now in utter disarray as the President and other board members resigned in disgust with the party actions under the guidance of Prentice.

With Lall pulling from the Progressive Conservative base and with most voters being repulsed by the actions of the floor-crossers, it is very likely that Bruce McAllister will be joining his unprincipled colleagues as a disgraced and unemployed political has-been on May the 5th.

Of the 9 MLAs who betrayed the membership of the party in December only perhaps a couple will still be employed a mere few months later. Perhaps none of them will make it through the election.

Will MLAs and party operatives learn from all of this? I doubt all of them will but I sure hope many of them will have learned a lesson here:

You can only fuck with the party membership for so long and so much before they lash back!

 

 

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Calgary urbanist extremists going out of bounds in their vitriol

It is no secret that Naheed Nenshi has been practicing a polarizing style of politics in order to try to get an ideological agenda through City Hall in Calgary. While creating opponents for himself and trying to pit different factions against each other in local politics, Nenshi has created an atmosphere that is becoming increasingly personal and toxic. While proving to be a terrible leader within council due to his inflated ego and petulant style, Nenshi has proven himself to be able to gather a small but very vocal and almost cult-like following among Calgary hipsters who are becoming increasingly distasteful and aggressive in responding to anybody who may critique the Mayor.

To make sense of much of this mess, one has to go all the way back to the multi-million dollar, ridiculous navel gazing exercise called “Imagine Calgary”. Nenshi was one of the creators of the Imagine Calgary document which reads like a surreal dream of some utopian world of art and density which is all strongly controlled by a central council. Sound extreme? Read it yourself. I have broken down many elements of it. The document speaks for itself.

Imagine Calgary is important in that if you look into it, you will see that nearly all of Nenshi’s initiatives tend to spring from it. He says so Himself:

Imagine Calgary serves as something of a bible to His more fervent of followers.

An element of Imagine Calgary that has been hitting council lately has been the “Pedestrian Strategy” as can be seen below.

imagine

Councillor Sean Chu is familiar with the ridiculous goals of Imagine Calgary and he sits on the Transportation Committee in City Hall. A presentation was made to push forward with this Imagine Calgary themed pedestrian strategy despite a lack of costing or substance to the plan. What we have is a recipe for a pointless boondoggle which may employ a number of bureaucrats and lead to even more traffic congestion in the city if this strategy is not carefully monitored and scrutinized. In doing his job, Sean Chu questioned elements of the strategy and ultimately voted against it.

chu-1

This was of course a form of blasphemy in the eyes of Imagine Calgary zealots and led to some brutal and outright offensive attacks upon Chu on social media.

In a tragic event last week, troubled teen Tyla Chipaway was killed after she was struck by a taxi when she was laying in the middle of 16 ave NE in Calgary at around 3:30 am. 

Perhaps we will never know why Tyla was laying in the middle of a main road like that at such an hour. It was a terrible loss of a person so young.

Not to let an opportunity to attack pass, blogger and noted Nenshi sycophant Mike Morrison tweeted and tried to imply that Chu’s opposition to the Imagine Calgary based pedestrian strategy somehow contributed to this accident or one’s like it.

pedes

How on earth would any pedestrian strategy possibly have prevented that tragedy? What possible motive would there be in trying to connect that accident to how Sean Chu voted in a committee?

This was political opportunism of the worst and most repugnant of sort. Note that 23 others jumped on the bandwagon to retweet Morrison’s odious tweet.

Being unrepentant Morrison carried on which whipped up even more fervor on social media which led to this:

rueby retro

The urban cycle aficionado and Nenshi supporter above actually came right out and told Sean Chu to go back where he came from. What century are we living in again? Retro indeed.

Like Morrison, this @Ruebyretro character has offered no apology for this disgusting behaviour. She has simply switched her twitter account into private and is laying low.

The bottom line is that these people are so fervent in their faith in Nenshi and the goals of Imagine Calgary that they truly feel they have done nothing wrong in attacking a political opponent like this. Taking advantage of the tragic fatality of a teen to try and score political points and sinking into blatant racism are tactics considered to be fair game by these people. Rather disturbing.

Ian Robinson wrote a column in today’s Sun that excellently points out that while Nenshi has created a lot of hype, he really has not actually accomplished much to speak of in his years as Mayor. This lack of progress does explain some of the almost desperate actions of Nenshi’s frustrated followers.

I do have to differ a bit with Ian though it that Nenshi has done one thing to change the face of Calgary. Naheed Nenshi has created the most vicious and divided civic political environment seen in a generation within Calgary. A dubious honor at best but a noteworthy accomplishment all the same.

As we see noted philanthropists and council members dragged through the mud in our city by our Mayor and his following, we really have to hang our heads in shame in having re-elected that man as our Mayor. These ongoing incidents are getting embarrassing.

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On free assembly and bringing Taber into the current century.

There are no rights more critical than our individual ones. Infringements on individual rights have to be countered and exposed as soon as they crop up. The erosion of individual rights is almost always an incremental thing and when it happens on even a micro level as it is happening in Taber Alberta, it is a big and important issue.

Depiction of Taber Mayor, Council and Police Chief.

Depiction of Taber Mayor, Council and Police Chief.

The Mayor and police chief of the city of Taber appeared on numerous news sites whining about the ridicule and bad press that they have been getting over their ridiculous bylaws. Sorry but those imbeciles implemented a backwoods, hillbilly style local bylaw that is simply a gross violation of a number of individual rights. Did they really think that people would quietly let them get away with trying to set back individual rights in their town by centuries? I know that I and others who value civil liberties will not let this crackpot law go. The Mayor and his supporters would be well served to repeal this idiocy before it goes to the courts and is tossed out which will doubtless lead to even more ridicule of their community. Sadly, the Mayor and police chief of Taber appear to be suffering under a deficit of common sense so it will likely take the time of a court and judge to explain to these fools that their bylaw is contrary to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

In this article we see Taber Mayor Henk De Vlieger and police chief Alf Rudd pissing and moaning (oops is that a swear?) about the backlash that their primitive bylaw has generated.

While the Mayor and Chief flaccidly try to point to other jurisdictions that have bylaws against spitting and noise, they skirt over the part where their bylaw outlaws the gathering of more than 3 people if a peace officer should make the arbitrary decision that that they may disturb the peace. This is a gross violation of free assembly and simply cannot be allowed to stand.

Section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms pretty explicitly protects free assembly and association.

We are a spoiled society in that we have had these critical rights protected for a long time and many of us have forgotten how hard some people had to fight to win these rights for us. We can’t let those rights erode now.

One of the first things that any dictatorship will do is limit the right of free association and assembly. This keeps any opposition from organizing and stops visible public protest. In the days before modern communications laws banning assembly were very effective in halting things such as union organization or the organization of political movements. How could you begin to halt a dictatorship if you couldn’t gather more than three people together at any given time?

This law in Taber will be shot down. The only questions now are when and how. It is up to the sad little leadership in that backward city to determine how much more mockery they are willing to endure in protecting this legal atrocity before it is inevitably tossed out. I fully intend to be putting elements of this bylaw to the test soon if the fools in Taber won’t get rid of it soon. Do they really want me down there?

Perhaps they should ask Nenshi how much joy I can bring to a city council and Mayor when I feel they are improperly applying laws.

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A victory for accountability and transparency in Calgary!

civiccamp

Personally I think partisan politics are a good thing in general for a number of reasons.

Many people think that partisan politics is a bad thing. I think that most can agree though that what is even worse than a political party in a partisan system is a hidden political party in a system that is expected to be non partisan. That is what the initial incarnation of the now defunct CivicCamp group was.

It was recently reported that CivicCamp has disbanded. That isn’t exactly true as the legally registered CivicCamp still exists and it was formed over a year ago.

What has happened is that the group that used to run Naheed Nenshi’s personal political party that wasn’t a political party have given up on the name that they purposely refused to register in order to dodge accountability.

Nenshi and some supporters formed CivicCamp prior to the 2010 civic election in Calgary. There are many advantages to having an organization of people focused on common policy goals trying to get a person elected. Without a formal party system in municipal politics however, the ever canny Nenshi formed CivicCamp which claimed to be non-partisan when it was clearly anything but.

The organization was purposely formed without being legally registered anywhere. This meant that the key people involved and the means of funding never had to be disclosed publically. That avoided the clearly sticky questions that would have come about if folks realized that this apparently non-partisan group was almost exclusively populated by Naheed Nenshi’s supporters. Official campaign financing has some pretty strict rules as well. With a group that isn’t a group however, finance questions could be dodged.

Let’s be clear. CivicCamp was a political party. “A political party is an organization of people which seeks to achieve goals common to its members through the acquisition and exercise of political power.”

After the 2010 election CivicCamp became a useful tool in promoting Nenshi’s policy initiatives and ideals to a divided council. Again, no disclosure was given on who ran this group or who funded it despite their making formal presentations to council and providing input on committee. Rather nifty politics.

In the 2013 CivicCamp went back into campaign mode. This is where the line really was crossed as this group that wasn’t a group somehow secured financing from the Calgary Foundation and then proceeded to go into full campaign mode for Nenshi and his chosen council members (an informal council political party).

While refusing to disclose their own financing until late into the election, the CivicCamp group hypocritically, selectively and relentlessly harangued candidates who were not a part of Nenshi’s slate by demanding that these candidates disclose their finances earlier than the legally required disclosure date. In one circumstance one of the CivicCamp gang even camped outside of the campaign office of one of the candidates. They were conspicuously silent on the disclosures of the Nenshi slate however even though some of them were pretty slow in releasing their backers too.

In a political move worthy of Frank Underwood, the CivicCamp group assumed control of all of the forums for mayoral and council candidates. Organizing forums is a tough and thankless task so when a group of folks raised their hands and offered to take on the task, alas few took issue with it.

In election forums, people can usually ask questions from the floor. This allows ground level concerns and issues to be presented directly to candidates and we can watch the unvarnished responses and answers from the contenders for the electoral spots. CivicCamp would have none of this however. What they did was “crowd source” among their supporters and created a set of ranked questions that would be presented to the candidates. Unsurprisingly the questions came out looking as if Naheed Nenshi’s mother (or likely his sister) wrote them. While tax increases polled high on the list of concerns of most Calgarians, somehow it didn’t even make the list of CivicCamp softballs for Nenshi. It was simply brutal and took away the whole point of open forums.

In one of the forums, Brian Pincott (hard left councillor and part of the Nenshi slate) didn’t like the moderator and complained. The CivicCamp group quickly obliged and replaced the moderator with one to Pincott’s liking of course.

Having watched this display I simply couldn’t stomach it any longer. I did a NUANS search and then formally formed and registered CivicCamp as a non-profit society. The initial group’s careful efforts to conceal themselves left them wide open for me to do so. Had they simply spent $80 and filled out a form they could have prevented that but of course that would have meant practicing the accountability and transparency that they tried to demand of some candidates in the election.

While the disbanded group is claiming that they are simply moving along because they have accomplished so much (sounds like Danielle Smith) The reality is that they simply cant do anything any longer now that I own the name. I even offered to give them the name and registration if they wanted to make things open and formal. They refused the offer which is rather telling.

To be clear here, many if not most of the people involved in that CivicCamp group were well meaning. These were not people trying to harm the city and they were volunteers. It is not like they were pocketing funds. Despite those intentions, they still were participating in an astroturfing effort that masked what was essentially a political party. I could not abide by that any longer.

There is nothing and there was nothing stopping this group from forming and operating as a registered non profit society. They just have to embrace accountability and transparency. As long as they refuse to do so though, I can hardly feel badly that their club just cant hold itself together.

Practicing accountability and transparency is more difficult than demanding others do so. It sure ads credibility when one practices these things as well as preaches them.

I do hope that the folks behind the initial CivicCamp group have learned from this.

 

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