Oh look, another tiny group wanting to ‘unite the right’.


They just don’t and won’t get it. It seems that every couple months we see an article written on a slow news day reporting on some person or another speaking on how they will “unite the right” in Alberta. Most often it is quotes from politically unemployed clowns such as Rob Anderson or Jonathan Denis who both have proven rather starkly to have terrible strategic instincts. I mean really, why should we seriously take political advice from people who so brilliantly destroyed their own political careers? These guys have always been self-interested and clearly they still can’t see outside of their little, myopic bubbles.

This week we had an article on some group that claims to be on the way to uniting the right and is claiming to be on the way to raising $2 million towards that end already. I will believe that when I see it.

What these stooges will have to understand is that if you want to unite the PC party and the Wildrose Party (if it is even possible) you will have to court the damned members rather than push from outside!!

The article linked above speaks to these apparent “unite the right” proponents in the first part but becomes even more telling in the second half of the article. Both the Wildrose and PC parties have utterly no interest in taking this path right now and no outside group is going to force them to do so.

It is exactly this sort of small group behind closed doors that blew both parties apart when they completely bypassed the memberships of both parties and orchestrated a mass floor crossing. The fallout from that led to Jim Prentice and Danielle Smith being politically disgraced and destabilized both parties to the point where we now find ourselves with an NDP government.

Let’s be clear, the public was utterly disgusted with the deal that Prentice and Smith cut between themselves and they demonstrated that at the polls as the NDP exploded in support. There was no right split. People were just so revolted with both options on the right that they clung to what seemed like the next best organized party. They didn’t vote for policy. They voted for principle and now we all pay the price.

Despite such a recent history of the pushback that comes from backroom style merger efforts, some of these guys still insist on beating on that wall.

Last weekend I attended the Wildrose AGM and I can assure you that merging with the moribund Progressive Conservative Party is not even a tiny consideration among the membership at large. The PC Party (or brass within it anyway) tried every trick in the book from organizing the mass floor crossing to breaking their own law and calling an early election in hopes of burying the Wildrose Party. The PCs are now deeply in debt with little electoral support and nearly no fiscal support. Why on earth would Wildrose members want to take that on in a merger?

To push for a merger one has to start with courting the members and perhaps begin with donors. Perhaps a mail out to Wildrose donors asking “would you like your donations to go towards paying the debt of the PC party as they spent millions trying to destroy the Wildrose Party in the general election?” I suspect that I know what donors would respond with but that is exactly what merger proponents are asking them to do.

Patience is something else that is required here. The NDP will be clinging to power until the bitter end. If polls are low enough (and I suspect that they will be), Notley will likely cling to power for the entire five years that the system allows her to. We have a few years before the next general election and need not rush into trying to mash two groups together.

The PC party will be holding a leadership race eventually. That will be the best opportunity for them to explore the consideration of a merger. That will be a poll of their membership and their concerns should be paramount. A pro-merger candidate could test some waters.

In the mean time we will carry on as we have been. I do like how Brian Jean has been approaching things and speaking about ensuring that we get the “right” people. I am not sure if that messaging is resonating perfectly with the public but what I interpret him saying is essentially that the Wildrose door is open for principled PC supporters to get on board. The word :”right” in this context is not so much speaking to a point on the political spectrum as it is speaking to avoiding taking on the self-serving and power seeking element that was within the PC party which ultimately led to their demise. We want the good people from that party (and there were many), but do not want to assume the party’s baggage or culture of “get elected by all means possible”.

We have an opportunity for a fresh start and if we do it right, there will only be one party to take what’s left of the province back from the NDP in 3.5-4.5 years. We can build a principled alternative that has plans and hope rather than baggage and blind ambition.

The effort to build that alternative will have to come from the ground as well. Just the other night I was poking a stick at the PCs on twitter for what was essentially petty entertainment (yes, I was admittedly trolling). I was taken to task for it by a couple PC supporters who I do respect even if we have been on opposite ends of the field at times. It was food for thought and I really do need to lay off on poking the stick. If we want those respectable sort of people to come on with us eventually we will have to approach and treat them with respect now. Constantly shooting at their pride won’t do anybody any favors and I really have to cut it out. We do have a lot in common and with some rational actions in the next few years may be able to pull things together.

The memberships of both parties need to be courted though, not dictated to. These current “unite the right” folks will never understand that as they keep trying to force things from either the outside in or the top down.

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Wildrose 2015 AGM review.

Most years when I do these AGM reviews, there are some interesting bombshells or critical items on the agenda to report on. This year’s AGM while important and productive was not terribly exciting to be honest. That is fine of course. Better to be a bit dull than scandalous. This also demonstrated why there was so little to fear in letting the media into the convention to cover it. Discussion was rational and reasoned and I really see little trouble that could have surfaced from direct reporting.

This year’s venue was at the Coast Plaza conference center  in Calgary and entry was a reasonable $140 per person for the weekend. The sound and video systems were modest and effective. The room was adequate and the lunch was pretty good. I know that these things may seem petty to report on but they are indicative of party attitude and direction. In the 2011 AGM we used the Telus Convention Center and provided giant screens, a lightshow and a sound system worthy of a rock concert. That AGM charged $250 per person and had a dismal turnout leading to a $90,000 loss for the party. It was a celebration of Danielle Smith’s vanity at the time and we really should have been paying attention to the trend at the time. Policy was barely discussed while we were treated to a video story of the leader’s political life. In looking back at that, I am more than happy to see an AGM focussed on the nuts and bolts of the party as it should be.

Brian Jean’s speech on the Friday was well received and many people thought it was one of the best that they had seen from him. Despite that though, his support level of 78% in the leadership review made it clear that he is not as solidly supported as a leader as many party leaders have been. As a party coming from an election with an expansion of our caucus and essentially being rescued from being considered dead by many, most would have expected a review somewhere in the 90% range. I think in some senses that this is a good thing. A weak but far from devastating review number could help keep Jean modest. Danielle Smith got 90% numbers and look where that led. She lost all touch with the sentiment of the party at the membership level which in part led to her idiotic and treacherous floor crossing. Brian Jean knows he has work to do in winning the membership at large and I assume he will do so. We have some years before the next election to work on this.

On Saturday morning there was a sit down Q&A on the stage with Brian Jean. To be honest, the whole thing felt contrived and Jean answered predominantly softball questions to an increasingly bored room. Such Q&A sessions are just the sort of thing that help a leader in connecting with the membership but they have to be genuine. Unless there is a microphone on the floor allowing members to pitch questions directly to the leader, it simply looks like a production. It’s dull and makes one wonder if the leader can handle tough questions without warning. At the end Jean joked that it felt like an appearance on Dr. Phil. A good joke in a sense but it sort of rang too true. It was not what many of us wanted to sit through as members at such a gathering. I know Jean isn’t a fire and brimstone sort of orator and that is OK. He has to be able to manage uncontrolled communication situations though and this puffball sit-in did not instill any confidence that he is able to do so.

Policy discussions went efficiently with some healthy but limited debate. Extended debate on policies has to happen before AGMs as there simply are not enough hours in the day to split hairs on amendments and such. While some members will always express annoyance that there was not enough time for debate at the microphones, they were more than welcome to participate in policy vetting with their CAs or to take part on the policy committee that put in huge hours putting the policy and constitutional packages together. Hats off to VP Policy Tim Dyck and the members of the committee for putting all that together.

One policy that I thought could be contentious was the very first one calling for more competition in the provision of health care. The policy actually passed quite overwhelmingly and it was good to see that the party retains the courage to take on some of the tougher but essential policy stances in health.

A proposal under Education to change wording to include homeschooling and use terms such as “fundamental” rather than core failed 126 to 114. The proponents were very vocal though and quite visibly pissed at the failure of the resolution. Homeschooling and separate education options are clearly hot button issues for some that we will have to watch closely.

A proposal to make membership in student unions optional passed easily. Entrenched left-wing student union members have predictably gone haywire on social media due to this but it really hasn’t worked many other folks up. Expansion of individual choice is always a good thing.

There had been an interesting proposal calling for the striking of a committee to try and reduce our bloated policy set to 25 key policies and present them to the members next year. I found it an intriguing concept as I had taken part in a similar exercise with the party some years ago when we greatly reduced policy bloat with a large, omnibus style policy proposal. Folks felt 25 was simply too few and the proposal failed. We should keep looking for ways to streamline the policy set though.

The two different resolutions to try and prevent floor crossing failed pretty resoundingly. There were a number of points made in discussion on it. A constitutional resolution to try and prevent crossings was quashed too. The bottom line is that the system is built to allow crossings and we need to work with it as it is. If the party is well led, crossings should be rare and not huge issues. I think the ability of the MLAs to cross helps keep the leader honest. This does not mean that the members are welcoming further floor crossing but that they apply rational thought to the policies.

The constitutional proposal that would try to bind MLAs to voting within the bounds of party policy was soundly and rightly defeated.

Most of the other constitutional proposals were housekeeping issues that passed or nitpicking issues that failed. There were a few that tried to contain executive powers and add term limits and such. There is a residual distrust among the members of the central party governance and that was reflected in those proposals. The members at the AGM did express that they didn’t want to see any radical changes at this time.

One resolution passed which calls for Executive Committee members to stand for election for their positions at the first possible opportunity should they have been appointed to the positions. This addresses the issue that some EC members had been appointed to multi-year terms while never having been elected directly by the members. The EC needs the ability to appoint for vacancies and members need the ability to select so this found a good balance.

There is a group of chronic, malcontents within the party (I am sure that every party has them). I swear that these people buy memberships simply to bitch about every move of the party. I am sure as hell vocally critique the party often though I hope and try to make it productive. I put in my share of time volunteering for the party and doing what I can to make it better. These malcontents whom I refer to rarely are seen when it comes to getting down to work. While some are still howling that the Executive Committee is rigged/corrupted/baseless etc. I didn’t see any of them put their names forward to run for positions. I have taken many shots at the EC but have always understood that it remains an open process that any member can run for. Many of this year’s EC positions were acclaimed because nobody else put their names forward. It really can’t be that bad if there is no lineups to replace current members. This was pointed out to me by one of our MLAs at the AGM. It is a very good point and worth repeating.

To sum it up, this won’t be an AGM that will be remembered for generations. It was not a game changer and it didn’t make many headlines (banned press contributed to that). It was a good gathering that served it’s purpose and I did leave the AGM feeling optimistic about how the party is doing.

The members have it together for now. It’s time to see what our caucus can and will do in the year to come. I look forward to it.

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Wildrose 2015 AGM policy & constitutional proposals

It is no secret that I am a hard core political wonk nor is it a secret that I am a strong supporter of the Wildrose Party and have served within the party in multiple capacities. While a guy like me sees every AGM as being critical and important, some are more important than others. Due to the recent general election and the incredible disruption and internal change within the party, the 2015 AGM will be one of the most critical and formative ones that we have held in a long time. It is too bad in a bout of paranoia that the party powers that be have banned the media from the AGM!

The Wildrose Party has always prided itself in it’s transparent and open policy formulations. We used to eviscerate the Progressive Conservative Party for their hiding behind closed doors at their AGM. In doing the same thing we have unfortunately become hypocrites which is never a thing to be proud of. Rather than try to hide from or fight with the media, the party should work harder to avoid giving them fodder to chew on. Last August I wrote at length on the conservative tendency towards paranoia when it comes to the media. The media and political parties both need each other. Accept it and work with things with that understanding.

I will be attending the AGM of course. I haven’t missed one in a decade and I wont now. I will be live tweeting from there and I will be writing a full review of what I saw as I have every year for the last few years. I intend to be constructive but rest assured, I will never hesitate to be critical when it is warranted.

A party’s policy set is both important and unimportant in a way. Policies are really just a large set of the guiding principles that have been built by the membership over the course of AGMs. They often get way too specific and are very often prone to bloat as it is often easier to keep adding policies rather than clean up the old ones. The tone and direction of the party are reflected in the policy set which makes them very important. The leader and caucus are however not bound to rigidly follow the policy set nor should they be which reduces the importance of the set when it comes to actual legislation. Local representation and free votes will be lost if all MLAs are suddenly bound to unthinkingly follow a policy set that may not represent changing circumstances or local needs.

Our party constitution has a number of proposals going into this AGM as well and these while often dry, are essential to the efficient and democratic management of the party.

The policy and constitutional proposals were ranked by participating constituency associations and will be presented to the membership at the AGM based on those rankings. It is impossible for the membership to review every possible proposal (some are simply not worth examining) so while imperfect, the ranking system is a good one to help us prioritize and reflect the will of the members.

I will now dig into the dry but important proposals one by one in the order they will be going to the floor. I will be adding my highly biased opinion on them and will be encouraging votes to that effect from the floor of the AGM tomorrow. I only took the top 20 or so as not all of them will be making it to the floor. This post is rambling and long enough as it is.

Ranked policy proposals Wildrose AGM 2015

21. … encourage competition and choice in the delivery of health care, keeping the focus on achieving greater efficiency and better health outcomes for patients.

This proposal ranked right at the top of the policies which is fantastic to see. Unions and other lobby groups have managed to turn our health care system into an utter sacred cow making politicians fear any form of change aside from pouring in more money.

Despite massive increases in health care spending in past decades, our waiting times and outcome are simply not improving. We have to look outside of the box in order to get the best possible health care for our buck. Every universal health system in the world that is surpassing us in outcomes for lest cost per patient (and there are dozens of them) allows a degree of private provision of services. We need to stop people from simplistically shutting down health debate when they imply that only the Canadian and American systems exist and that there is no room to change. Europe is loaded with better systems and we would be fools to keep ourselves from studying and emulating them.

The left will predictably go haywire at such proposals. Let them. We need to start the rationed discussion and as more people die on waiting lists, the public will become more receptive to changes. This policy is a great place to begin and we have 3-4 years to work on how to present that to the electorate.

38. … Conduct a thorough review of the regulations regarding electricity generation, transmission and delivery with a view towards introducing reforms to make these segments more transparent, more competitive and more efficiently regulated and administered than they currently are.

The never ending discussions on electricity deregulation. It has been fodder for rage, conspiracy theories and political ire for nearly two decades now. It is clear that consumers are not winning and it is clear that the deregulation scheme was poorly applied. While returning to full government control of electrical services is likely a poor idea, we do need to study how we can fix the mess that we made in getting government out  (somewhat). This is a good policy.

9. … prohibit spending announcements by the provincial Government during a by election period.

Notley began her legislative term with a hypocritical about face on this issue now that these announcements serve her own needs. This is a good policy. Hypocrisy always costs credibility as I spoke to in the preamble to this post.

22. … take concrete steps to eliminate the fundamental imbalance between Government revenues and expenditures through spending reductions and efficiencies.

This is fluff and bloat. It sounds nice but adds little.  Our policies in general reflect an inclination to reducing government expenditures and eliminating deficits. We can start demonstrating efficiencies in leading through example and not adding this to our policy set.

Change from:

11. … protect parent’s right to choose what school their child attends whether it be public, separate, public charter, private or homeschooling.


11. … Recognize that parents are the primary decision-makers for their children and their children’s education, and protect parent’s right to choose the education their child receives whether it be through public, separate, public charter, private school or homeschooling.*

I am not sure where the proponent of this one is going but have some suspicions. I think our current policy suffices.


59. … Investigate the feasibility and manner in which the current Workers Compensation Board (WCB) system can be opened-up to become a transparent and competitive system with the cost and service benefits such a system could deliver in the provision of this vitally important protection of Alberta’s workers.

One thing I have consistently seen over the years in provincial politics is a near universal discontent in how our WCB is administered. I have been fortunate in never needing it and cant speak directly from experience. I don’t know if privatization is the solution here or not but it certainly is worth examination as the status-quo is not cutting it.

11. … Amend the Post-Secondary Learning Act to allow every student to choose whether or not he/she wishes to become a dues-paying member of a student association, in each year of enrollment at a post-secondary education institute.

Could almost call this “right to learn” legislation. Student’s unions are becoming increasingly expensive. The unions are often spending the funds on political initiatives rather than protecting the rights of their students (a good parallel to labor unions). Nothing provides accountability better than giving the membership choice. A great policy.

59. … gradually move public sector employee pension away from defined-benefit plans and towards defined-contribution plans.

This is a great policy and we need to work in this direction. That said, it will have to be done carefully as beneficiaries of the defined benefit plans will fight tooth and nail to keep it despite it being unsustainable. Our unfunded pension obligations on all levels of government are terrifying and we need to change this trend. The word “gradually” in the policy is a good addition.

Change from:

  1. …grant public, separate, and public charter schools more flexibility to offer specialized programs in the trades, arts, music, physical education and business while ensuring all students learn the core aspects of the standard curriculum.


1. …grant public, separate, public charter schools, private schools and homeschooling more flexibility to offer or access specialized programs in the trades, arts, music, physical education and business while ensuring all students learn the core fundamental aspects of the core subjects.

No. Just making a mess here. Take it to the school boards.

26. … Investigate the creation of a Seniors and Disabled Care Allowance program that would give seniors and the disabled Albertans who require assistance for their day to day living the funding and thus the freedom to choose how they wish access that assistance.

People are healthier and happiest when at home. Initiatives that may aid in keeping people at home rather than in hospitals are important. This is worth looking into.

11. … Amend the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act to add postsecondary student associations with mandatory membership to Section 1(j) of the Act.

I think having voluntary membership will be good enough. Transparent unions will draw members.

38. … Conduct a thorough review of the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) and its regulation with a view towards introducing reforms to make it more efficient and responsive to the needs of both the industry and Albertans as well as linking its funding the activity level of the industry itself.

A review may be a good idea. It is a messy area. We have to be careful to ensure not causing further instability in the industry. I will determine my vote after hearing discussion from the floor.

The Policy and Constitution Committee strike a Member Approved Policy Restructuring Committee with the goal of subdividing the Member Approved Policy Document into two categories: a) No more than 25 overarching policies fundamental to the Party’s philosophy and priorities for future campaigning and enactment, if elected, as the next Government of Alberta

b) The remainder of the existing policies to be streamlined, and consolidated where possible into a more manageable number.

This Member Approved Policy Restructuring Committee will be tasked with consulting members and returning to the 2016 AGM with a Member Approved Policy document restructured as above for approval by the membership. This restructured document will be submitted on the deadline date for policy submissions according to the following timelines:

1) Approval of this resolution at the 2015 AGM

2) If passed, formulation of the Member Approved Policy Restructuring Committee.

3) Review at 2016 Policy Forums for CA members and other highly motivated members

4) Distribution of Restructuring Committee recommendations to CAs and solicitation of CA feedback/comments by August 2016

5) Restructuring Committee iterates the recommended document as it deems appropriate for submission to the membership at the AGM.

6) Voting by membership on the restructured document at 2016 AGM.

This is potentially great or a potential nightmare. I love the concept but question the viability. I say let’s give it a crack! If the committee doesn’t produce an acceptable product in 2016 the members can and will reject it.

16. … take control of the administration, application and interpretation of the Firearms Act with the goal of reducing paperwork and legal hurdles for gun owners in Alberta. The government should also appoint our own Chief Firearms Officer (CFO) and limit what the CFO can do on an arbitrary basis.

Todd Brown has done a great deal of work on this. This option is within provincial jurisdiction and gets some federal meddling out of our hair. I say yes.


26. … direct provincial health care dollars towards high quality palliative care.

No. Not saying we don’t need high quality palliative care but we don’t need a fluff policy like this pointing out that we do.


4. … Create an Equalization Reform Task Force to investigate the issues surrounding the

Federal Equalization Program with the objective of developing a new equalization

formula that correctly accounts for both provincial revenues and spending and thus is

fair for all Canadians and in doing so strengthens the confederation.

No. Take these issues to your MP.

17. … Allow private enterprise to compete against government essential services and receive the same grants as those provided by government monopolies.

No. I agree with the principle but this is just too vague.

9. … Pass legislation preventing MLAs from crossing directly from one caucus to another; MLAs must sit at least six months as an independent in order to consult with constituents before being eligible to join another caucus.

Absolutely not. Floor crossing is a part of the system we are in. Good leadership prevents floor crossing.

Danielle Smith and her band of fools all found themselves politically unemployed due to floor crossing. That is one of the best ways to prevent it.

The ability to cross the floor keeps party leaders in check.

9. … Pass legislation preventing MLAs from crossing from one caucus to another; MLAs must sit as independents or resign and run in a by-election even if that means their constituency is unrepresented for up to 7 months.

No. See above comments on floor crossing.

Constitutional proposals

Due to years of terrible internal leadership, a culture of mistrust has been fostered within the party between members, the leader’s office and the provincial executive. Central party meddling in nominations was brutal. In some years the provincial executive was neutered and communications were dismal.

This has led many proposals trying to limit caucus power and to strengthen the EC. The party is supposed to be run by the members and this battle is ongoing. The constitution is where all that happens.

8.3 The Leader shall be elected by the members of the Party using a preferential ballot, and must receive a majority. To be entitled to vote in a Leadership Vote a member must have been a member in good standing of the Party for the fourteen (14) days (change to) thirty (30) days immediately prior to the date of the vote.*

This one is sort of tough. Leadership races are good party builders as candidates cross the province and sell memberships. That being said, last minute members can make a mess of a race and I is tough to process them all. Just look at how Redford rented herself to unions in order to win. All in all, I like this proposal and say yes.

Change from:

“Do you want a Leadership Vote to be called?”


“Do you approve of the current Leader?” with the voting options being “Yes” and “No.”

Yes. The earlier way made people vote in the negative while meaning a positive. Lets keep it simple.

Change from:

Nominations shall close seventy (70) days in advance of the Annual General Meeting.”


Nominations shall close thirty-five (35) days in advance of the Annual General Meeting.

Yes. We need more Executive Committee candidates and I know damn well some central party managers want to limit that.

Change period from 90 days to,

6.9.4. a Nominating Committee (if necessary), which must be created not less than one hundred twenty (120) days prior to the Annual General Meeting of the Party

As well as adding on eligibility to serve on committee:

nor are Staff or Caucus members.

8.9 In preparation for a Leadership Vote, the Executive Committee shall appoint a Leadership Rules Committee, the members of which must be members in good standing of the Party and voting members of which may not be members of the Executive Committee.

8.9.1 The Leadership Rules Committee shall establish the rules, procedures and mechanisms according to which the Leadership Vote shall be conducted (“Leadership Selection Rules and Procedures”). These must not be inconsistent with the provisions of this Constitution, but may provide for appropriate telephonic and computer technology for voting.

8.9.2. The Leadership Rules Committee will be the final authority on disputes related to the Leadership Vote and its process, but for certain offences set out in the Leadership Selection Rules and Procedures which shall be subject to an appeal to the Provincial Candidate Selection Committee.

A big YES!. We need more time to draw in good EC members and we need to get the staff and caucus members the hell out of  the process. This is the turf of the membership.

Lists of Constituency Association Officers’ names, titles, email addresses, phone numbers, and the Constituency Association they represent shall, at least once per calendar quarter, be sent in electronic form by the Party to all Officers of recognized Constituency Associations who have executed the ‘CA Board Member Code of Conduct & Confidentiality Undertaking’ appended to the Wildrose Constituency Association Bylaws.

Yes and no. The central party tries to limit communications between constituency associations. This would stop that. That being said, sharing phone numbers is too much. There are some folks out there who I don’t want to hear from. Email addresses should suffice. We are at a point where folks in senior positions on CA boards should all have email.

7.17 Approved minutes of the Executive Committee meetings shall be provided simultaneously to Executive Committee members and Presidents of recognized Constituency Associations upon written request.

The party loathes providing the minutes from EC meetings despite being constitutionally bound to do so. We need to streamline this. There is nothing to hide right?

2.1 The object of Wildrose is to provide open, honest and effective government for thepeople of Alberta.

7.2. Subject to this article, the officers shall be elected by secret ballot at the Annual General Meeting of the Party for a maximum two-year term. A term automatically ends at the AGM after the member has served six (6) years on the Executive Committee or if the member has been appointed by the Executive Committee. A member may not seek election for more than one position on Executive Committee at a time. Their term of office shall commence at the close of the Annual General Meeting at which they were elected and shall conclude at the close of the Annual General Meeting where their successors are elected.

7.2.1. The terms of the President, the Vice-President-Fundraising, the Secretary, and one Provincial Director from each of the five (5) regional zones, shall be elected in conclude in odd numbered years.

7.2.2. The terms of the Vice-President-Membership, the Vice-President-Policy, the Vice- President-Communications, the Treasurer and one Provincial Director from each regional zone, shall be elected in conclude in even numbered years.

7.2.3. Provincial Directors shall be elected by members in good standing of the Party  from the regional zone in which the Director resides.

7.2.4. The Executive Committee may, with the approval of two-thirds of its members  present, and voting by secret ballot, appoint members to fill the term of office of any vacancy on the Executive Committee, provided that the person is a member in good standing and, in the case of a vacancy in a Provincial Directors position, that the person appointed shall reside in the regional zone that has the vacancy.

9.7. In accordance with the Principles and Policies of the Party, Caucus members are entitled to free votes in the Legislature, with the exception of the budget, votes of nonconfidence, and Wildrose policy and principles

11.4. The rules shall provide that any Wildrose candidate must enter into a standard contract with the Party which commits the candidate to paying the Party $100,000 in liquidated damages should the candidate be elected as a Wildrose Member of the Legislative Assembly and subsequently leave the Wildrose caucus to join another party’s caucus.

This edit gets a little messy but it is important.  The vast majority of EC members right now were appointed rather than elected. Despite two year terms,  the members should be able to vote at the first possible opportunity. The extended terms and attrition have unfortunately led to an undemocratic EC even if some of the appointees are excellently qualified.

That should cover it for now. Should be an interesting weekend.



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There is no right to be protected from being offended. Get over it!

If you feel that you have some sort of legal or moral right not to be offended may I now invite you to go fuck yourself as you are a thin skinned shallow thinking asshole who is a threat to free speech and free thought. I hope you found that offensive.

It is natural to get offended. I have been offended many times by things people have said and done and doubtless will be offended many more times before I shed my mortal coil. The difference is, I don’t scream crying to every figure of authority demanding that they intervene and protect me from offensive things as if I were some pamper wearing cretin incapable of dealing with it myself.

There is no right not to be offended. There never has been and their never should be.

The hypersensitive peckerheads who constantly demand that their feelings be protected by governments, school administrations, police or rights commissions come from all sides of the political spectrum and they are all fools.

Whether it is a religious flake complaining that they are offended by a gay pride parade, a cartoon of Mohammed, a coffee cup or some self-loathing feminist who despises men with vitriol to mask her craving to have a good hair pull and spank at times who is whining about a perceived patriarchal slant in a speech, I don’t care. Get over yourselves you idiots. It is a big bad world and this feeling of entitlement that you bear is misplaced.

Feminists and religious busybodies alike have found themselves united this week in whining about the Alberta billboard pictured below.

One dumb asshole even called the RCMP about it.



The near riots at Yale over a simple letter from a prof who rightly didn’t feel that they needed to intervene and ensure that all costumes really demonstrate this growing, sick mentality that the world needs to protect us from offense.

The girl screaming and swearing at the person in this video is an idiotic, myopic, bitch who deserves scorn. I hope that she grows beyond the emotional age of 3 years before graduation as she clearly isn’t there yet.

Yes, some may find the paragraph I typed above as being offensive. I take no issue with that. If you feel I haven’t the right to type such things though we are in for some problems.

This issue is more serious than some people realize. Comedians have been fined by human rights commissions while other folks have been dragged through the social media mud for daring to lean outside of the coddled, soft world of politically correct speech and actions. This is not a healthy trend for society and we really need to stand up against this crap.

Lenny Bruce, George Carlin and Frank Zappa all made great inroads as they used their arts purposely to offend. In doing that we forced the religious right of that time to back off in telling us what we may say or think. Their work sadly is now being reversed by a new crowd of thin skinned fools.


I would end by saying that I hoped I hadn’t offended anybody with the above posting but that would be an outright lie.

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How many times has the Wildrose Party wrongly been declared dead?

Having been a loyal activist/candidate/executive member of the Wildrose Party (previously Alberta Alliance) since 2005, I can’t count the number of times that I have heard commentators declaring the movement dead. The party was declared dead when we lost our sole seat in the 2008 general election. The party was declared dead when it won 17 seats in the 2012 election despite that being an incredible showing for a new party. The party was declared dead when it won no seats in four by-elections in the fall of 2014 despite being a very strong second in one race and being respectable in the others. Countless folks declared the party dead when Danielle Smith tried to destroy it in a still unthinkable act of political treachery in her floor crossing.


Why isn’t this party dead???? With so many learned pundits and strategists so confidently declaring the Wildrose Party as a dead entity it is astounding that the party has not curled up and gone away isn’t it?

The answer is simple. The Wildrose Party is not dead because it is held up by true grassroots support. Not the pandering bullshit term of “grassroots” that damn near every party tosses out there when campaigning. The Wildrose Party is truly held up by thousands of dedicated members who are keeping the movement together despite the best efforts of opponents of the party both within and outside of it.

To top down parties such as the Progressive Conservatives and the NDP, the very concept of a real grassroots movement is foreign to them. Their lack of recognition of this could very well be their downfall as seen in last night’s by-election in Calgary Foothills.

I have always known that the declarations of the Wildrose Party’s death were misplaced as I have taken part in building that foundation upon which the party rests. I travelled the province to some of those town hall meetings where only 5 people showed up and some would say that was a sign of mortal illness. What happened at those meeting though is that we would interact with and train those 5 people. We set the seed and those folks went out and made it grow. Through little meetings, flyer drops, door knocking and countless phone calls the movement grew constituency by constituency. These are members who feel like they are a part of the party. They feel a sense of ownership as they participated in building the party and it’s policies. These are people that will not be shaken loose in their support no matter what some fools at the senior levels of the party may do.

Danielle Smith and her caucus never really understood who put them in office or if they did, they lost sight of that. When Smith and her band of opportunistic fools crossed the floor, they really thought that the party would crumble behind them. Danielle (and many commentators) thought that she was the party. Smith and the commentators clearly could not have been more wrong. Smith’s treachery didn’t kill the grassroots, it ignited it.

The foundation of the party moved on. We got back to work. we raised funds, we held meetings and we sought a new leader. Never for a second did we think we were dead. We were hurt, and many were dejected but giving up was never a consideration.

Grassroots means that the movement remains in the bad times. I remember on the night of the 4 by election losses being at a gathering of hundreds of supporters. While disappointed, we stayed together for the night and consoled each other. Compare that with Jim Prentice on election night who despite being Premier (up to that point), could not gather more than a dozen or so for his concession tantrum. The PC support was shallow and fickle and it showed.

Local Input~ CALGARY.;  MAY 05, 2015  -- Jim Prentice speaks to a subdued room in the PC headquarters at the Metropolitan Conference Centre in Calgary  Photo Leah Hennel, Calgary Herald  (For City story by Trevor Howell) ORG XMIT: POS2015050523084501

Getting to today, that true grassroots foundation proved it’s power yet again. The by election in Calgary Foothills was critical to the party and province on many levels. Why couldn’t Notley win that seat despite holding the reins of power, having a well known candidate and literally bussing in countless union monkeys to knock on doors for her? Why did 74% of the electorate in Foothills reject the NDP? The reason is that the voters in Foothills are among the most democratically abused in Alberta. They were abandoned by Len Webber when he left to chase the brass ring of a federal seat. They were next abandoned by Jim Prentice who in one of the most cynical temper tantrums in Alberta history quit is job before the votes were even counted. The voters in Foothills wanted to see principles and real grassroots representation. That feeling can’t be transmitted in a mountain of flyers or a bus load of Teamsters. The feeling of grassroots support can only be generated by a candidate surrounded by supporters hitting doors who are genuine grassroots supporters of that movement. The enthusiasm is palpable and the vibe at the door can’t be faked.


Today the Wildrose Party sits on a foundation that is stronger than ever.

Aside from wrongly declaring the Wildrose Party dead, pundits have also been pushing three other untruths that last night’s by-election out of the water.

Some said that the Wildrose was incapable of winning an urban seat (despite having some in the past). They are clearly dead wrong.

Some said that the Wildrose must merge with the remnants of the PC party in order to win seats. They are clearly dead wrong.

Some said that the Calgary electorate genuinely wanted an NDP government and that they didn’t select Notley in a desperate protest vote in order to send a message to the corrupted PC party. They are clearly dead wrong.

Now with the Wildrose stronger than ever and in a clear position of being the government in waiting, the next challenge will approach. The opportunists from the dying PC party will be slithering over and trying to entrench themselves with the Wildrose and they must be stopped. There are and were many great folks supporting the PC party but make no mistake, that party was crammed with self-serving weasels who only supported that party with hopes of gaining power and nothing else. Those weasels will be seeking a new home and the Wildrose is poised to be the next government in Alberta. The self-serving will be drawn to the party like flies to shit and if they are not contained, those ever important grassroots will indeed finally be eroded.

I would hope and assume that the tiny but vocal movement encouraging the Wildrose Party to consider merging with the indebted and disgraced Progressive Conservative rump will finally fade away. This bunch was really just based on a handful of suddenly unemployed PC MLAs who were desperately seeking a way to get seats again (see weasel references above).


The Wildrose has utterly no need to embrace the debt and baggage of the PC Party. The worst thing that the Wildrose could gain from the PC party is their cynical power by any means attitude. It would truly bring us full circle into being the party that we were formed to replace.

As the Idiotic 11 discovered after having crossed the floor, the grassroots are not to be messed with. All 11 rightly lost their jobs and are politically finished.

The Wildrose still has a lot of work and some dangerous waters to navigate before getting another crack at a general election. If the grassroots foundation is respected though, it can be relatively smooth sailing. There can be no stronger base for a movement.

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OMG! OMG! The media is biased!!

noesThe complaints from Harper supporters have been becoming increasingly shrill as they try to imply a national media bias is trying to hold their party down. Like seagulls shrieking at a garbage dump upon disturbance, they flap up and rage in frenzied social media circles every time a negative story about Harper is published. The indignant howls of “Media Party!” fill the air. Meanwhile the Harper Conservatives continue to slump in the polls.

Newsflash: media has been biased since the first town crier reported on a local incident!

Bias whether conscious or inadvertent is natural in all reports. It can show in camera angles, the questions asked or in the stories chosen. Bear in mind though, the bias runs both ways. The Sun runs right, the CBC runs left and a myriad of other outlets sit all over the spectrum. People choosing to inform themselves can cut through the slant easily enough.

The best cure for negative media is to bypass it and reach right out to the voters. When Paul Hinman won the leadership of the Alberta Alliance (later Wildrose Alliance) there was virtually no coverage of the event aside from a Herald article that scornfully pointed out the presence of Craig Chandler. When we entered the Calgary Glenmore by-election we sat at 6% in the polls and any reports of our campaign tended to report us as an also ran fringe group at best. So how did we win despite the big bad media not giving us a fair shake? We worked our asses off door by door until we convinced enough people to support us. It really was as simple as that.

Had we sat on the sidelines and howled about how abused we were by the media, we would have been lucky to get 10% in that by-election and we sure as hell would not have won it as we did. The same can be said for the Alberta Party in Calgary Elbow. They won that seat through a massive ground game despite little general coverage.

Most of those who howl so loudly about the “media party” tend to be keyboard cowboys. They are rarely seen pounding the pavement for the party or listed high on the donor list (though there are exceptions). They do however clutter up social media greatly and often put people off as they try to play victim while not understanding why voters don’t see it that way.

Want to beat the “media party”? Put down the laptop and volunteer for your local candidate. Perhaps try to convince your party to stop being caught in scandals arrogance and hypocrisy as well. It is tough for the media to report bad things when those things don’t happen.

Screaming from the sideline will only ensure an NDP or a Liberal government. The media party cant be blamed if this happens. It is Harper’s government to lose and it’s the responsibility of his supporters to ensure that doesn’t happen. Excuses and blame don’t change outcomes. Hard work does.

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The Calgary Foothills by-election is critical for all Albertans.


People who don’t participate in partisan politics (and even some who do) often don’t know one very important aspect about the New Democratic Party:

Federal and provincial NDP parties are all the same entity!

If a person buys a membership with the Alberta NDP, they automatically become members of the federal NDP. There is no choice in this matter. Just as the NDP likes forced union membership, they like forced party membership. Individual thought and choice don’t fall within the NDP ideology.

This reality has been depressingly evident as Premier Notley has all but vanished from the political scene so that she may aid her boss, Thomas Mulcair in his regionally divisive federal campaign which is modelling Alberta as a bogeyman that must be attacked.

While federal NDP candidates continue to attack Alberta’s core industries, Notley remains in a silent cowardice. It is clear that Notley views the hierarchy of her party as being much more important than the interests of Alberta. We all should be terrified if Mulcair manages to become Prime Minister. Clearly Notley won’t stand up for us in such a situation.

The Foothills by-election will be a critical opportunity for Albertans to send a warning shot at Rachel Notley. In that by-election, we will see if the election of the NDP was a desperate move on the part of the electorate in order to get rid of the corrupted Progressive Conservative government or if Albertans really want to embrace NDP style socialism.

The Wildrose Party is fielding Prasad Panda as a candidate in the by-election versus the parachuted Bob Hawkesworth for the NDP. While Notley has appointed an incompetent Minister of Energy along with a literal anti-energy activist as her Chief of Staff, the Wildrose is providing a voice of experienced reason in Panda who has been a senior manager in the energy sector for decades.

If the voters in Calgary Foothills strongly reject the NDP in this by-election, it will tell Notley to either shape up and defend Alberta despite her federal masters or prepare for electoral defeat in the next general election. Notley is being pulled and pushed from multiple directions as a new Premier. The best direction she could be pushed from would be the electorate and that opportunity looms.

Will Notley learn to put her province before her federal party’ interests? It is hard to say. Chances are much better though that Notley will prioritize Alberta if the voters in Foothills strongly push her to do so. That makes this by-election important for all of Alberta despite it being overshadowed by a federal race.


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Just scrubbed some toilets!

OK. I understand that it is hardly headline worthy when a person scrubs toilets. Millions of folks do it every day. I need to give some background on why this is worthy of writing on.

I am a germaphobe who can think of few tasks more odious than cleaning a heavily used public washroom facility. That being said, my wife and I recently opened a pub and coffee shop in Priddis and while things are going great, we still are on a budget that requires that we do many things ourselves in order to keep staffing costs to a minimum. Among those tasks are janitorial duty which requires my getting down in there and ensuring that our clientele does not have to endure a nasty washroom. My fiscal need outweighs my loathing of such tasks.

I was in a recent discussion regarding minimum wage and I used the term “toilet scrubbers”. I did not mean that term in a derogatory way by any means. Toilets need to be cleaned and as I have pointed out, I certainly will do it at need.

All the above being said, I sincerely look forward to the day when we develop our business to the point where I can pay somebody else to clean those toilets. I will not pay a lot to a person for that task as while it is challenging to one’s sense of personal cleanliness, it is not what could be called a highly skilled art. Training if required means pointing out where the cleaning items are and asking that the bathroom not be exited until it doesn’t smell poorly any longer and no evidence of previous use can be seen.

By the numbers right now We have employed 14 people, most of whom were previously either unemployed or under-employed.

11 are women
5 are students
4 are single parents
1 AISH recipient

None of them are earning minimum wage. In fact some of them, when you factor in tips have earnings that rival those of journeyman plumbers (particularly on wing night).

We are not employing these people out of altruism. We opened this business to make money for ourselves. I am not demanding a medal for my efforts by any means. I am happy and proud that we could develop and maintain a business that employs all of those people and won’t display false modesty over it.

Now to cut to the chase. As minimum wages rise I will be doing one or more of a couple things. I will be raising prices and I will be reducing hours for staff. Tasks from toilet cleaning to waiting tables will increasingly land on my lap while my staff will enjoy less hours of work with a higher cost of living. This is not theory. This is exactly what is about to happen so who is winning here?

I just needed to get that rant out to those simplistic souls who somehow think that we can legislate everybody into prosperity. It simply doesn’t work.

These foolish “tax the rich!” chants and demands for raising minimum wage will not either help the current minimum wage earners nor hit those apparently evil fat cats who run the world. These ideals only ensure that middle earners like myself scrub more toilets while my staff cut back on their own budgets due to reduced hours while consumers see a higher cost of living.

A strong economy is the only way to increase the general standard of living and constantly attacking free enterprise will not give us that sort of economy.

My rant is now done. I have to go clean by beer lines before opening the pub.

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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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