On the UCP leadership race. There is no easy way to do it.

I am annoyed. I am a longtime member of the founding party and was a member of the PCs before the merger. Despite this, my registration to vote was rejected for some reason and now I have to contact the party to try and resolve this before I can vote. I was annoyed at snapping a pic of my drivers license and jumping through the hoops in order to attempt to register in the first place.

Despite my annoyance, I understand that there simply won’t be an easy way to go through this process if we want it to be fair and legitimate.

There are two big factors in a leadership race that members at large often don’t take the time to think about and those are cost and security. Its dry stuff. Having served on a leadership committee before, I know where the issues are and why the process has likely evolved into this annoying setup.

I am going to start with security.

Leadership races can be passionate and messy affairs. Some campaigns stick within the rules and some try to stretch or even break rules when they think they can get away with it. Some supporters act to stretch rules on their own thus causing embarrassment to one team or another and sometimes conspiracy theorists fabricate breaches in the rules during and after leadership race.

The most important and toughest things to do are to verify that each voter is legitimately qualified to vote, that they are who their application says they are and that they actually purchased their membership on their own.

In a past leadership race I served on the committee for, one of the teams literally sold memberships to dead people. They had bought bulk memberships using a veteran’s organization members list and submitted these to the party. I guess they figured that they could convert these veterans to their candidate later. Needless to say, some infuriated widows called the party office demanding to know why memberships had shown up in the mail for husbands who had passed away years before. Its sad but this kind of crap happens and it takes levels of security to ensure that it is kept in check.

I was on the Wildrose Party Executive committee prior to the 2012 election as well and dealt with the nomination battles. In one of our Northeast Calgary communities, the battle was rather hard fought. There were 4 candidates for the nomination. Three were of identifiable ethnic minorities and one was not. Thousands of memberships were submitted in a matter of weeks. Upon examination, it turned out that thousands of these memberships were duplicated among all three of the minority candidates. Whether we like to admit it or not, some cultures are more inclined to play some rather rough politics than others.

This put us into a terribly sticky situation as a party. What optics could look worse than disqualifying three non-white candidates in favor of a white one? We spent weeks with some people literally going door to door and confirming memberships. It was proven without doubt that all three of the candidates in question had sold memberships over and over to the same people and without their knowledge or consent. Some still cried racism when we punted them but they had little to stand on as we had made a solid case on who had broken the rules.

The more security in the system one has in races, the better the chance that the situations like those above could be avoided. That said, every level of security comes with a degree of inconvenience and cost.

Now on to cost.

We are in an unprecedented situation. The United Conservative Party is starting from scratch. The bank account began at zero. Those who have worked with parties during leadership races know that getting volunteers and donors to the party during these times can be damn near impossible as leadership candidates are all working the hell out of the feet and wallets of every possible party supporter already. That is why entrance fees were high. The bills have to be paid somehow and managing one of these races is expensive.

The most secure way to do a race is still with ballot boxes in every constituency in the province where volunteers or paid people can check the identification of every member as they come in to vote. The Progressive Conservative Party used to do races that way and it worked fairly well. The PC party of that time had literally millions of dollars that they could dedicate to this most expensive means of running a race as well. The UCP simply doesn’t have those resources. Gathering and counting all of those paper ballots securely was expensive and time consuming as well.

Another means is with mail in ballots. We did that with the Wildrose Party race that elected Danielle Smith. There were a number of security measures along with uniquely numbered ballots and multiple sealed envelopes. While is was possible that a person could fake a membership or two, to come up with the thousands of unique mailing addresses in order to get the ballots made rigging pretty much impossible. This method too was very expensive and time consuming. Cases and cases of sealed ballots were kept in secure storage and a long counting process ensued.

Now on to electronic voting as the UCP is using. It comes at a cost but I imagine that it is much cheaper than the prior two methods I listed (as least I sure hope so). Vote counting is nearly instantaneous which is nice as well. The huge challenge though as we are seeing is in the verification of the members. That is why the best that they could come up with was this registration method. though it is a bit of a pain in the arse.

Registrations still need to be confirmed by a real live person as well. That takes a lot of staff/volunteers and time. That is why there are cut off dates set. The party simply can’t cut things too close to voting day or there could be some real issues if processing isn’t complete in time.

Are there better ways? Perhaps. Maybe even probably. As it stands now though, this is what we have and it simply will have to do.

Every leadership candidate and their team agreed to the rules and the system when it was set up. It is rather disingenuous if any candidates are claiming that these timelines and regulations caught them off guard. They know the deadlines and the requirements. It was incumbent upon them to prepare their campaigns based on these things and if they couldn’t get prepared in time, it is nobodies fault but their own.

I will still grumble at all these steps. I will likely have some suggestions to avoid this sort of thing whenever the next leadership race comes along. Until then though, I will simply accept the system and do what I have to do to cast my ballot.

This race will very likely be choosing our next Premier of Alberta. There is no easy way to conduct such an important vote while ensuring security. While this system has some bugs, it will serve its purpose just fine in the end.

Technorati Tags: , ,

Notley’s NDP wants to keep the black market for pot in Alberta strong.

As we ever so slowly and painfully work towards the legalization of marijuana in Canada, provincial governments working out how pot will be sold. The Notley government unsurprisingly wants to create a network of government run (presumably unionized) retail stores throughout the province. 

This sort of ridiculous business model will do nothing to get rid of the black market for pot and will serve simply as another inefficient government run employment program for overpaid retail clerks.

It has been over 20 years and many folks in Alberta don’t remember what it was like when the government ran all retail liquor sales through the AGLC. I think we had better remind our younger citizens just how horrible the government was and will be if it gets back into the retail sales business.

To put it bluntly, ACLB retail liquor service in Alberta sucked on every possible level.

  • Hours:  10am – 5 or 6pm Closed on Sundays and all holidays.
  • Strikes: They almost felt like they were annual. Always set before summer long weekends
  • Selection: Utter crap. Perhaps 10 brands of beer. A couple dozen wines and assorted spirits. Oh, by the way they didn’t sell any cold beer.
  • Service: Utter crap. Union staff were secure and overpaid and they knew it. You entered a store, waited in a long line and were treated as a supplicant rather than a customer.
  • Availability: Utter crap. Just guessing but I think that the entire city of Calgary had perhaps 12 stores servicing it.

Bootlegging was a very real thing back in those days. When the nearly annual liquor store employee strikes came, pickup trucks streamed into BC to load with Kokanee to bring back to Alberta while they went East to Saskatchewan to get Pilsner. I remember lines wrapping around the block at liquor stores as people tried to stock up before long weekends. Those who didn’t get enough either had to pay a terrible price for offsale beer or if they were connected would buy spirits from the countless bootleggers out there.

Yes, as a minor it was tough for me to get booze in the 80s from the stores. They were diligent about IDing folks. Thanks to the handy network of bootleggers that government run stores caused the creation of however, it was dead easy to pay a few more bucks as a minor and get booze.

The bottom line is that if there is a market void due to government regulation or monopoly, the black market will happily fill it.  The black market for pot is already very well established. They won’t need to change anything. They just need to wait for Notley to screw up the retail pot system.

We can rest assured that government run stores for pot will be as bad or worse than their liquor stores were. Why on earth would we want to repeat that failed experiment (oh yeah, we need more union jobs).

With the crappy selection, service and availability that government stores will be sure to provide, the black market for pot will surely continue to thrive as dealers will be able to offer better product at better hours at a better price.

There is a real opportunity to clean up the mess that black market industries cause through legalization. If we ruin it by creating another bloated and pointless government monopoly however, there will be utterly nothing gained in this. Unregulated grow ops will continue along with the associated fire and property damage while criminal networks will still manage the larger distribution of the products.

Let private industry take care of pot. It can be regulated but left alone enough that it cuts out the black market.

Notley has enough more important things to work on anyway like learning economics and reducing our staggering debt.

Technorati Tags: , ,

How to disunite the right.

It took so much work by so many people to pull the Wildrose Party and the Progressive Conservative Party together. So many folks had to set aside old gripes. People had to swallow some pride. People had to make compromises. Despite all those tall personal orders, people put their priorities straight and got the job done. We now have a United Conservative Party that is primed to unseat the Notley regime even before getting a new leader.

Our work as a party is still far from done. While we are indeed united, we still have some sensitive spots. We still have people who’s support is tentative and we still have some old wounds. That makes the United Conservative Party vulnerable from the inside and nothing challenges internal party unity more deeply than a leadership race.

What I am getting at is based on a Facebook exchange this evening.

For those unfamiliar with me or my wife’s backgrounds, we were both founders of the Wildrose Party. We have both been on the executive of the party in multiple incarnations and have both run for the party before. We have volunteered on countless campaigns and been a part of all sorts of party efforts.

All that being said, Jane and I are still individuals and we are not always on the exact same political page. For example, I joined the PC Party well over a year ago in order to help promote Jason Kenney’s unity plan. Jane on the other hand refused to leave the Wildrose Party. We were in different parties with different views on how to best move forward yet still comfortably shared the same bed. With the formation of the UCP we are now in the same party again.

Jane was asked to serve on the UCP Leadership Election Committee and she accepted. That is why I have been uncharacteristically quiet in this leadership race so far. While Jane is her own person, we just didn’t need to bring on the headaches and inevitable complaints that would come if I had been active on one of the leadership campaigns while she was on the committee.

Yesterday Jane decided to leave the committee. It wasn’t a bitter, sour grapes sort of thing or anything like that. Jane posted her reasoning in full here. 

Along with explaining her resignation Jane intimated that she would be choosing to openly support a leadership candidate as well and would be posting that today.

Jane’s post led to a Facebook posting by a Kenny supporter who speculated that Jane was going to endorse Brian Jean. Nothing wrong with that. All part of political discourse.

It is in the response from a couple other posters where we see the dangerous, combative attitude of some pretty fervent people who truly can cause some unity issues within the party.

Trevor Norris as a rather vocal little fellow on social media. His antics have force him to mercifully put his twitter account into private mode but alas, he still prowls on Facebook.

OK, so apparently if Jane were to endorse Brian Jean, that makes me a “fucking sellout”. How nice. I guess I am obliged to control my little woman and tell her who she may or may not endorse? Demonstrates that Norris has about as much acumen with marital relationships as he does with political ones.

I have to admit, I let this irk me and responded to him. This led to him labeling me as a some sort of hypocrite. It really doesn’t make much sense.

Norris’s buddy (with a Kenney banner on his picture no less) added his thoughts while he was at it.

Hardly the first or last time I will be called such. Certainly not reflecting well on Team Kenney at this point however.

Either way, other folks popped into the conversation and Norris put his personal skills back to work.

This is where things get concerning as it appears that Trevor Norris with his badgering and belligerent insults managed to drive a long time politically active person right out of that discussion forum.

Gina Bossert had interjected essentially calling for calm. Trevor implied that she supports the “slimeball” Jean.


 

Gina debated for a little while and dejectedly finally left.

While this may seem to be a simple single incident, I am afraid that it isn’t. These little happenings are going on in all sorts of social media platforms and at gatherings such as debates.

While the majority of supporters of the leadership candidates are passionate yet respectful in their allegiances, there are some nasty and virulent ones in the minority who are causing some real damage to the party and the campaigns that they claim to support.

I don’t blame Brian Jean, Jason Kenney or Doug Schweitzer for the actions of these people. Leadership teams and candidates are busy and sure as hell don’t have time to try and crack down on every divisive wingnut who is being an asshole on social media.

We as a party have to check ourselves. We need to call out people (as I am doing now) when they become fanatical, insulting and divisive within the party before these  people can spread more internal damage.

It is OK to be critical of leadership candidates but when you start personally attacking their supporters you are creating wounds and rifts that may never heal.

There can be nothing good in calling people idiots, hypocrites and supporters of slimeballs who are not worthy of respect just because you may feel that they are supporting the wrong candidate. How in the hell do you earn converts that way? I assure you we need them.

When the general election finally comes to Alberta, I can’t think of a better way to ensure that Notley gets re-elected than by having a party full of wingnuts who insult and berate all of the undecided or those who they think support Notley. Many people supported Notley. That is why she is unfortunately our Premier right now and if you keep tossing shit at the folks who put her there, they sure as hell won’t consider coming to the UCP. Rest assured, we need that protest vote back.

We have a lot of work to do after the leadership race. We are still essentially building a new party from scratch and we sure as hell don’t need deep caustic factions within the party which will distract us from our more important goals.

There is no better time to stomp out this divisiveness than right now. Like any illness, it will spread and be tougher to cure later. Leadership teams need to look within and try to address their problem spots before they flare into catastrophes later.

As a final note, Jane endorsed Doug Schweitzer and myself I support Jason Kenney.

Norris guessed wrong on both fronts and managed to alienate many folks for no good reason.

We can’t let folks like him divide us and drive out those party workers that we will need so dearly in the days coming ahead.

 

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Is Nenshi’s Chief of staff leaking city documents for political gain?

On Friday the Globe and Mail did a detailed article on the City of Calgary’s negotiations with the Calgary Flames based on some documents that had found their way to them. 

The release of these documents certainly helps in the polarized campaign where Mayor Nenshi has been battling with the Calgary Flames group over reaching a possible deal on a new arena.

Now according to city councilor Diane Colley-Uquhart, only Chima Nkemdirim (Nenshi’s Chief of Staff) negotiated thus would have had access to these documents.

If Chima Nkemdirim did indeed leak these confidential documents to the Globe and Mail, it is very serious business. This underscores yet again how terrible the Mayor’s antagonistic relationship with Calgary businesses is.

Ken King rightly was less than amused with the leak.

In the interview, Mr. King said it was “inappropriate” for someone to leak the document. “Somebody was playing fast and loose with their ethics and I think that’s a damn shame,” he said.

So how did the Globe just happen to get these documents just before a civic election?

Diane Colley-Urquhart feels that it should go to the integrity commissioner at the very least but that would only happen well past the election.

Perhaps this leak came from elsewhere. The damage is done though and the city looks even more inept and untrustworthy.

With Nenshi’s campaign on the rocks he has been showing increasing desperation as he even dropped the race card in hopes of gaining some sort of sympathy vote.

Has the Mayoral desperation now hit the point where his team will even leak confidential city documents in hopes of aiding his campaign?

We likely won’t be able to find out for sure until after the election but this adds yet another shadow to Nenshi’s already bleak looking campaign.

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

Naheed Nenshi plays the race card.

Last night a Facebook video of Naheed Nenshi reaching out to Calgary’s Pakistani community came to my attention.

There is utterly nothing wrong with campaigning directly to identifiable groups. It is natural and politicians will always campaign strongly in areas where they have cultural ties or strengths.

The problem came when Nenshi began implying that his opponents are organizing a vote base of “haters and racists” in order to set the city back. That was pure, crass, bullshit identity politics and it is well worth calling Nenshi out on it.

Within an hour or two of tweeting links to this controversial video, it suddenly was deleted along with tweets from the originator of the video.

I asked what happened to the video and got this reply:

A message to a specific community? Um OK. So what then? Why does that mean it needs to be deleted in a rush along with all references to it?

What likely really happened was that as the video was quickly going viral on twitter, Nenshi campaigners saw the complete backfiring of this callow race baiting and asked Mashhood to pull the video ASAP.

Alas, it was too late. The video was recorded by multiple news outlets and remains out there for public consumption.

This video reeks of desperation. Nenshi is no fool but he is on the ropes politically and will try anything to keep his hold on the Mayor’s chair. This apparently includes accusing his opponents of being racists. Pathetic.

If this giant segment of racists was so active in Calgary’s political circles, how on earth did Nenshi get elected not once, but twice? The bottom line is that Nenshi is full of shit as usual and wont hesitate to take any tact to smear his opponents. Such a sad ending for what had been such a popular political figure.

Polls are indicating that people in pretty much every measurable category are beginning to reject Nenshi. That means non white folks are rejecting Nenshi too and in great numbers.

Identity politics are disgusting and they lead to the cultural divisions that we are all battling with today. From the white nationalists in Charlottesville to Nenshi and his supporters (who have demanded that white people must atone by voting for Nenshi) this gross style of politics must come to an end.

There is only a week remaining in the campaign. While multiple polls indicate that Naheed Nenshi is going to lose the election, many things can happen before then so those of us hoping for a better mayor can’t count our chickens yet.

One thing we can be sure of though is that Nenshi won’t go out with dignity. He will leave office with the same petulance and propensity for spreading bullshit that he had while sitting on the mayoral throne.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Vote for Nenshi or you are a bad white person!

Geeze I wish I was exaggerating with the the title to this posting but this really is the stance that some desperate supporters of Nenshi are taking in this civic election.

Juliet Burgess is a charter member of Calgary’s loony left. She has mostly been active with the Green Party but has popped up commenting on news items throughout social media and has been lively in activist circles.

Burgess put out the call on Facebook yesterday stating White people, this is a call to us all.” as she essentially labelled everybody who is considering voting for anybody but Nenshi to be as Trump supporters.

When questioned about this call out to white folks, Burgess doubled down on her lunacy with the statement below:

So Burgess feels that all white people are naturally racist. Yup. Just by being born, if you are white you are automatically a racist.

Hmm. What is that term to describe a person who claims that there are inherent attributes that come along with race for better or for worse…

What is it when somebody says one race or another is flawed or superior to another…

Oh yeah, ITS FUCKING RACISM!

The nutty left has sunk so deeply into their goofy identity politics that they are actually no less racist than the tiki torch carrying idiots who marched in in Charlottesville and they don’t even see it.

So yes, going forward apparently white folks are so inherently bad that they must atone themselves by voting for a non-white mayor. Anything less would be some sort of act of white supremacy I guess.

Well honkys, I say you should vote with reason and conscience rather than based on racism as Burgess would like you to.

Its OK to despise Nenshi’s terrible management of city council. Its OK to oppose his chronic arrogance. Its OK to question the massive tax hikes since he became mayor. Its OK to think he was a fool for defaming a local philanthropist only to get sued for it and lose. Its OK to be extremely concerned about how Nenshi has alienated business during such an tough economic time. Most of all its ok to vote against Nenshi if you choose to!

You are not a racist or race traitor if you are white and do not want to cast a vote for Nenshi. Its OK if you do want to vote for him for some reason as well.

This is what Nenshi’s support base looks like people. Is it any wonder that his administration has been  so bizarre and expensive?

I say set aside the advice from racists such as Burgess and vote for whoever you think is the best candidate no matter what race they may be or what race you may be.

Rather simple isn’t it?

 

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Separation? Not until Alberta cleans up its own backyard.

Ahh look at that dashing young separatist leader. I was hardly grey yet. It took another 15 years of political play before I really developed that thinning, silver mane that I now enjoy.

Yes, as some commenters on the blog like to remind folks (as if it was a secret), I founded & and led the Alberta Independence Party into the 2001 election back when I was in my 20s. We made a pretty good splash at the time but fell apart not too long after the election. I will be the first to admit that my inexperience and poor leadership choices were primary factors in the later collapse of the party. I still learned a hell of a lot during that period though and in the years since.

With the Energy East pipeline now a dead project, I am hearing many enraged Albertans calling for secession. These flare ups of separatist sentiment come about periodically and they fade away again over time. Sustained federal Liberal governments are prime contributors to provincial ire as Chretien did more to boost separatism in Alberta through the 90s than I ever could have as leader of the AIP. Trudeau Sr. brought Alberta separatism to its peak in the 80s and now Trudeau Jr. is working to fill his Daddy’s Prime Ministerial shoes in feeding western alienation in Canada.

Separatism in Alberta won’t be going anywhere far for now despite people being more than a little upset with our broken system of confederation. A more dynamic leader with a better organized movement could surely go farther than I did but it still will inevitably fail until a number of things are addressed.

Selling secession is a tough task. You are dealing with some very deep seated emotional attachments to the nation for folks. Their flirtation with separatism is often fleeting and passes as their anger fades.

The first thing that will be tough to sell is convincing somebody that Alberta would be any better managed on its own than it is right now within confederation.

We have a provincial NDP government people! 

Until we get the socialists out of Edmonton, how the hell are we supposed to claim that we would be any better off as an independent nation? We as a province have proven ourselves to be capable of electing a provincial government that is even worse than the federal one. Notley’s lip service to pipeline infrastructure development has has been token and flaccid at best. The NDPs lack of solid support for the energy industry and its lack of strong lobbying for it abroad is a large part of why pipelines are not being built.

Do you think that TransCanada’s decision to dump Energy East is solely due to Trudeau’s management of the NEB? They took into account how terrible a place Alberta is to do business in right now too.

If we were suddenly independent, that would mean Notley would be our Prime Minister (or President or whatever). Would you really like to empower the NDP that much more? Alberta truly would look like Venezuela but without the attractive weather.

In order for a serious separation movement to grow, all other options have to be tried and failed.

The provincial government needs to truly fight Ottawa and neighboring provinces with all of the powers of the courts and provincial jurisdiction that they can.

We need a provincial government that will turn off the taps to BC for awhile to teach them just how important Alberta energy products are to them. This can be done with Eastward products too. No bullshit carbon tax ideas in pursuit of a fake concept of “social license”. The government needs to truly battle the roadblocks facing our energy industry.

Danielle Smith pointed out the next important points on her show today as well.

Back in 2000 Stephen Harper along with Tom Flanagan, Ted Morton, Rainer Knopff, Andrew Crooks and Ken Boessenkool penned a letter to Alberta’s government called the “Alberta Agenda” (later called the Firewall letter). 

This letter laid out steps that the provincial government could take in order to gain more local autonomy and strengthen our position within confederation. All of the steps are within our jurisdiction as a province. We just need a government with the will and courage to implement them.

Here is the text from the letter below:

 Withdraw from the Canada Pension Plan to create an Alberta Pension Plan offering the
same benefits at lower cost while giving Alberta control over the investment fund. Pensions
are a provincial responsibility under section 94A of the Constitution Act. 1867; and the
legislation setting up the Canada Pension Plan permits a province to run its own plan, as
Quebec has done from the beginning. If Quebec can do it, why not Alberta?

Collect our own revenue from personal income tax, as we already do for corporate income
tax. Now that your government has made the historic innovation of the single-rate personal
income tax, there is no reason to have Ottawa collect our revenue. Any incremental cost of
collecting our own personal income tax would be far outweighed by the policy flexibility
that Alberta would gain, as Quebec’s experience has shown.
Start preparing now to let the contract with the RCMP run out in 2012 and create an Alberta
Provincial Police Force. Alberta is a major province. Like the other major provinces of
Ontario and Quebec, we should have our own provincial police force. We have no doubt
that Alberta can run a more efficient and effective police force than Ottawa can – one that
will not be misused as a laboratory for experiments in social engineering.

Resume provincial responsibility for health-care policy. If Ottawa objects to provincial
policy, fight in the courts. If we lose, we can afford the financial penalties that Ottawa may
try to impose under the Canada Health Act. Albertans deserve better than the long waiting
periods and technological backwardness that are rapidly coming to characterize Canadian
medicine. Alberta should also argue that each province should raise its own revenue for
health care – i.e., replace Canada Health and Social Transfer cash with tax points as Quebec
has argued for many years. Poorer provinces would continue to rely on Equalization to
ensure they have adequate revenues.

Use section 88 of the Supreme Court’s decision in the Quebec Secession Reference to force
Senate reform back onto the national agenda. Our reading of that decision is that the federal
government and other provinces must seriously consider a proposal for constitutional reform
endorsed by “a clear majority on a clear question” in a provincial referendum. You acted
decisively once before to hold a senatorial election. Now is the time to drive the issue
further.

All of these steps can be taken using the constitutional powers that Alberta now possesses. In
addition, we believe it is imperative for you to take all possible political and legal measures to
reduce the financial drain on Alberta caused by Canada’s tax-and-transfer system. The most
recent Alberta Treasury estimates are that Albertans transfer $2,600 per capita annually to other
Canadians, for a total outflow from our province approaching $8 billion a year. The same federal
politicians who accuse us of not sharing their “Canadian values” have no compunction about
appropriating our Canadian dollars to buy votes elsewhere in the country.

Mr. Premier, we acknowledge the constructive reforms that your government made in the 1990s
– balancing the budget, paying down the provincial debt, privatizing government services, getting
Albertans off welfare and into jobs, introducing a single-rate tax, pulling government out of the
business of subsidizing business, and many other beneficial changes. But no government can rest
on its laurels. An economic slowdown, and perhaps even recession, threatens North America, the
government in Ottawa will be tempted to take advantage of Alberta’s prosperity, to redistribute
income from Alberta to residents of other provinces in order to keep itself in power. It is
imperative to take the initiative, to build firewalls around Alberta, to limit the extent to which an
aggressive and hostile federal government can encroach upon legitimate provincial jurisdiction.

Once Alberta’s position is secured, only our imagination will limit the prospects for extending
the reform agenda that your government undertook eight years ago. To cite only a few examples,
lower taxes will unleash the energies of the private sector, easing conditions for Charter Schools
will help individual freedom and improve public education, and greater use of the referendum and
initiative will bring Albertans into closer touch with their own government.

The precondition for the success of this Alberta Agenda is the exercise of all our legitimate
provincial jurisdictions under the constitution of Canada. Starting to act now will secure the
future for all Albertans.

Before secession is even considered, these steps have to be implemented. As that letter broke onto the political scene at the same time the AIP took off, I can assure you I know that its proposals strongly effected our ability to grow. I don’t know how many times I heard people say “Let’s try the Alberta Agenda First. Then maybe separation.” This truth will remain today for any aspiring separatist movement.

Last but most importantly, if a movement for secession is to be successful in any way, they have to mean it!

People then and people now are openly saying “let’s threaten separation”. That’s like telling an entire table you are bluffing before raising the pot. Some say that Quebec has always simply threatened but never meant to go. Quebec came within 1% of separating in 1995 in a referendum with a 94% turnout. They were not bluffing people.

To seriously threaten secession a province needs serious support for secession and Alberta isn’t even close yet despite how vocal some are becoming.

I still contend that Canada’s system is broken. I still feel that we will one day need constitutional reform and that the only likely catalyst that could make that happen will be a province either separating or being on the verge of it. Ted Byfield used to call that notion “reconfederation” and that is where I sat when leading the AIP. I really did want out, but felt that secession could lead to negotiation a better confederation later.

Secession sounds tempting at a glance but it simply is not a viable goal or option right now. For those who truly want to get there eventually, you have to pursue the aforementioned steps before secession is even a consideration. Until then, you are simply wasting political capital.

 

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Alberta Party caucus will be growing soon.

Today some unexpected news hit Alberta.

NDP MLA Karen Mcpherson has suddenly announced that she will be leaving the NDP and will be sitting as an independent.

I am going to do some speculation that Mcpherson along with a few others will be joining Greg Clark and the Alberta Party caucus within a year.

The Alberta Party has been working the Alberta electoral scene for years but really has not been able to make much progress aside from some concentrated support in Calgary Elbow. They have been standing for nothing by trying to stand for everything by constantly claiming to stand for the “center” and it really hasn’t gotten them anywhere.

A wise move by the Alberta Party right now would be to solicit and gain as many sitting MLAs as possible in hopes of gaining some prominence before the next general election in Alberta.

While a collection of discontented back bench MLAs is not exactly an ideal caucus, it would bring a great deal more exposure and resources into the nascent movement. Every MLA brings more research budget, more question period time and more of their own following into a party that can’t electorally break double digits outside of Calgary Elbow.

To directly cross the floor into a party without a cool down period is often very heavily frowned upon. It smacks of opportunism or sour grapes and those types of floor crossers are often not elected again.

If a floor crosser wants to avoid the fate of looking self-serving, what they will do is sit for at least one legislative session as an independent. They will then claim to have consulted with their constituents and will claim that their constituents want them to sit with <insert party here>.

Mcpherson’s comments are very telling in her posting. 

In two sentences one can see how she is already positioning herself for a jump to the Alberta Party down the road:

We are missing the middle where we have more in common with each other than we are different.

In other words, already using the ad nauseam Alberta Party claim of being centrist.

I’ll be taking time to talk with my constituents about the way forward; I have the utmost respect and concern for them and I want to hear their views on the best way forward.

As expected, laying the ground work to be able to claim that her future move to the Alberta Party will be at the orders of her constituents.

Since announcing his departure from the UCP caucus, failed leadership candidate Richard Starke has been very active in attending constituency events in Vermilion-Lloydminster and documenting those actions on his facebook page.

There is utterly nothing wrong with that. This is what an MLA should be doing whether independent or with a party.

This activity is not the activity of a man who doesn’t plan to run again. Again, nothing wrong with that.

Starke is no fool by any means. He knows that winning a seat as an independent in a general election is next to impossible. One has to conclude then that he is likely  working the ground with future re-election in mind under a new party banner.  That banner will be the Alberta Party.

Rick Fraser recently left the UCP caucus to sit as an independent. He implied that the party had drifted too far from the center as he perceived it under Alison Redford.

Fraser expressly did not rule out joining another party down the road and a quote from his resignation rings rather familiar:

I will take this time to speak with my constituents before I make any further decisions

Why do I get the feeling that Mr. Fraser’s constituents will tell him to join the Alberta Party in a few months?

I suspect that Greg Clark will be working like a busy little bee in this coming legislative session. All of the MLAs will be in the same city and many lunch meetings can be arranged where terms of joining can be discussed.

Outside of Edmonton, most NDP MLAs are pretty well aware that their chances of re-election are pretty slim. The Notley government is an accidental government and with a united conservative alternative on the ballot it is looking pretty clear that the Albertan electorate will be rectifying that error in the next general election.

Calgary NDP MLAs now face the prospect of going down with the electoral ship or perhaps extending their term by jumping in with the rebranded Liberals with the Alberta Party. An opposition seat could be considered better than no seat at all. The Alberta Party is surely working hard to remind these back bench MLAs that there may be an option for them.

Some MLAs simply aren’t all that sharp and will need to cling to some sort of upwardly mobile party in hopes of maintaining their seats. They rode the wave to get a seat in the first place but don’t really have the strength to win it again without some strong party support from a party on its way up. Will these MLAs jump ship?

Where will the weak go?

We know that opportunists such as Sandra Jansen will do damn near anything to retain a spot in the legislature. I think perhaps even the Alberta Party isn’t ready to take on her vitriolic presence but you never know.

Things change fast in politics. I could indeed be barking up the wrong tree here but I strongly suspect that there is an organized move being made by the Alberta Party to try and build a caucus of floor crossers within the next year.

They can’t act too soon or it undercuts the narrative MLAs need to send out that they consulted their constituents. This fall session will provide an opportunity to organize and prepare for an announcement where a number of MLAs join at once in order to make the biggest splash possible when they change their party status.

It is getting clear that the NDP will not be forming the next government in Alberta and MLAs need to start thinking now if they plan to remain in the legislature in the next term. An election may be less than a year and a half away and setting up within a new party is a lot of work. I expect my speculation will be proven true or proven as pure fantasy within six months or so.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , ,

Dare we dream? Is Nenshi’s reign coming to an end?

Is it for real? Have Calgarians finally had enough of the belligerent, pompous man who has resided on the mayor’s chair for the last seven years?

A Mainstreet Research poll sure is compelling as it indicates that Naheed Nenshi is trailing Bill Smith by 9 points in the mayoral race. 

The poll indeed could be an outlier. Pollsters have been pretty wrong on some elections in recent years. That said, Mainstreet is a major pollster with a very good track record. The sampling of over 1000 Calgarians makes for a pretty good indication of voter intentions as well. It would be foolhardy to dismiss these numbers though Nenshi’s flagging supporters are trying of course.

If there is on single thing that people most often mention when speaking of discontent with Nenshi it is his arrogance.

The video below demonstrates one of Nenshi’s common, petulant temper tantrums when he finds himself questioned in city hall.

I don’t think there is a single incident that has led to Nenshi’s plummet in voter approval. This trend is a cumulative thing that has built up episode by episode over the years as Nenshi continually lets his arrogance get the better of him to the detriment of city management.

Nenshi’s arrogance led to his getting his ass sued when he slandered a prominent Calgary business person and philanthropist. In his arrogant confidence, Nenshi built up a giant legal bill which he dumped on the taxpayers for quite some time until he could convince enough donors to pay it for him (along with tax receipts).

Nenshi’s arrogance led to a city council becoming so dysfunctional that he actually brought in a psychologist to try and bring order to the council chambers.

Yes. Nenshi was so arrogant that it appears he believed that only mental disorders could explain why his fellow council members would not always go along with his whimsical leadership.

Nenshi’s arrogance has caused a terrible rift between himself and the business community in Calgary as he continually attacks private enterprise despite having campaigned as a pro business mayor.

Nenshi’s arrogance was outstanding when he called concerned critiques of council’s grotesquely terrible public arts spending a “lynch mob”.

Yes. The bridges are cumulatively burning behind Nenshi as his arrogance has alienated Calgarians over the years with one issue after another.

It appears that Calgarians are tired of Nenshi’s staunch, free spending allies on city council as well.

Common Sense Calgary did some polling that really raises some eyebrows. Here are the results broken down. 

Could Druh Farrell finally be going down to electoral defeat? It sure appears that she is vulnerable.

In her lapdog like following of Nenshi, she has even managed to get herself embroiled in a defamation suit just as the Mayor did. Perhaps that has been the final straw for voters in Ward 7.

In Ward 8, it appears that Nenshi’s council representative from the hipster community (Evan Wooley) is in a battle for his political life.

The main focus of Nenshi supporting leftist ire over the years has been Sean Chu. Chu has never hesitated in questioning Nenshi and it has driven Nenshi’s supporters into hysteric conniptions for years.

Despite the left rallying to try and unseat Chu, it appears that Sean is more popular with his voters than ever.

The signs are there that Calgarians are finally ready to flush Nenshi and his council allies out of office. Ever increasing taxes along with condescending arrogance have clearly soured the electorate on Nenshi’s little city council regime.

All the above being said, those numbers only matter if people get off their asses and cast a ballot.

Municipal elections traditionally have terrible turnouts and incumbents often slide to victory on electoral apathy. Answering a telephone poll is easier than going outside and spending 20 minutes to vote.

The power of incumbency cant be underestimated and only campaign teams with strong GOTV campaigns can hope to unseat the union backed Team Nenshi in council. People need not only to vote but to nag and encourage others to vote.

Calgary can become a business friendly city with reasonable spending again if voters toss out the entrenched Nenshi clan.

I sure hope that the polls hold true.

Technorati Tags: , ,

New city charters could spell fiscal disaster.

An issue that has been sliding under the radar in this municipal election has been that of the proposed new city charters.

Naheed Nenshi and other tax and spend style civic politicians have long been salivating at the prospect of gaining new powers of taxation in a city charter. Left wing politicians prefer to simply suck ever more dollars from the productive rather than take the time, effort and difficult choices required in order to balance their municipal budgets.

Thankfully, in the new proposed municipal charters there are no new taxation powers being offered. Notley jealously guards her taxation powers and doesn’t want to share them with municipal governments. This is one of the few benefits we can see from having multiple layers of left wing administrations.

While we dodged the taxation bullet in the city charters, there are still two proposals within them that cause some serious concern. The charters give municipalities the ability to run deficits, and allow municipalities to get into the finance game.

Right now under the municipal government act, municipal governments cant run deficits. Under the proposed changes, municipalities will be able to run deficits as long as they budget to pay them off over the subsequent three years. Lets not beat around the bush here. We know damned will that most of our free spending municipal politicians will run huge deficits that they will claim are short term. They will then hit the fiscal wall a few years later and come crying cap in hand to the provincial government. How that mess will be solved is anybody’s guess but you can be assured that taxpayers will be the losers in the deal as usual.

A more subtle but even more serious concern is in giving municipalities the ability to lend money to individuals and developers in order to finance housing. This could lead to an utter disaster.

I view banks as a necessary evil. They are a pain in the ass to deal with and you often feel more like a supplicant when dealing with them rather than a customer.

That said, banks simply are essential and they are good at what they do when they are left alone. The requirements for mortgage qualification are very carefully crafted to be able to service as much of the market as possible while minimizing risk of default. This can be frustrating for folks with limited capital, or poor credit when they are trying to enter the housing market but it simply is necessary. If the requirements are lightened, defaults will rise and interest will shoot up as non-defaulting mortgage holders are forced to take up the slack. In other words, the productive get punished for the actions of the irresponsible (socialism for short).

Many on the left hold a misguided notion that there is a giant pool of people out there who are would be able to responsibly maintain a mortgage if only they were given the chance to get into the market. We should overlook their poor or non-existent credit ratings. We should ignore their spotty employment history. We should set aside the need for a down payment to secure financing. If we just got these people into houses, they would do fine!

Alas, the above notion is utter bullshit. It is that kind of thinking that led to the US subprime lending disaster which caused the real estate collapse a decade ago that some regions are still trying to recover from. Backed through the government agencies of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, countless loans were given to people who simply would never qualify for mortgages otherwise.

In what should have been obvious to everybody, the whole thing collapsed as defaults exploded.

If we give municipalities the ability to lend money for housing, we can rest assured that flocks of well meaning but delusional municipal politicians will go on a lending binge to people who really should not get loans. The defaults will be inevitable and the damage will land as always on responsible home owners and taxpayers as the market artificially grows and then collapses. This is not theory people, it happens every time when government gets into the mortgage business and sets aside reasonable loan requirements.

Whether we like it or not, there simply are a great deal of people out there who are incapable of managing and maintaining a mortgage for countless reasons. Perhaps one day, these people will get there. Setting aside conventional credit requirements wont teach these folks responsibility.

I doubt that these charter proposals will become dominating issues in this civic election but I wish that they would. These are some time bombs waiting to go off on us all. I hope people corner their candidates and question them on these proposals. It may not save us from them but its worth a shot and we will know exactly who to blame when it all falls apart.

 

Technorati Tags: , ,