Conservative unity has Rachel Notley terrified, & it should.

For the first time since the late 1990s conservative minded Albertans are unified under one political banner. Jason Kenney was the prime orchestrator of the unity movement from its inception to its conclusion with 95% merger support from the memberships of both the Progressive Conservative Party & the Wildrose Party.  Kenney demonstrated the same drive and organizational strength as he solidly took the leadership of the nascent United Conservative Party. With such a solid and proven record as a formidable campaigner and strategist, the prospect of facing off against Jason Kenney in a general election is a discomforting one for any NDP strategist who maintains any basis in political reality.

All the above being said, it is not simply Jason Kenney’s leadership alone that has the NDP and their supporters in abject terror for their political lives today. Those who follow political movements recognize that a massive, well organized movement has developed that will be difficult to stop whether Jason Kenney leads it or not. Conservatives have truly united and will now be able to focus on forming the next government with pragmatic common sense goals and policies.

The leadership race for the UCP was hard fought and with no holds barred. While it is painful to endure such races, they are indeed prequels for what the general election will look like. Whoever was going to lead us against the Notley Regime in the next election had to prove themselves to be tough and exceedingly well organized in what will be a terribly rough campaign.

Due to the nature of these races they can be very dangerous for parties. Leadership races can turn into civil wars that create rifts that never heal within the party. Opponents and detractors of united conservatives poked as hard as they could from the sidelines in hopes of fostering division within the party.

To the disappointment of Notley and her supporters, the UCP came out of the race more unified than ever.

In this picture we see three very dedicated supporters for three different leadership candidates. Dean Leask on the left passionately supported Brian Jean’s leadership bid. In the middle and wearing my best wrinkled shirt, I supported Jason Kenney. On the right and looking much more presentable is my wife Jane Morgan who stepped down from the UCP leadership committee as she strongly felt she wanted to get involved and help Doug Schweitzer on his campaign. All of us serious and committed conservative supporters and all firmly in different camps.

Now that the race is over, we are unified in our support of the UCP under Jason Kenney. Dean will still drop by my pub, Jane still lets me come to bed with her (except after times when I have indulged in taco Tuesday) and we all will be working hard together to replace the NDP government with a UCP one.

The picture is indicative of the rest of the room that night. There are some sour grapes out there. There are some folks who need a little time to embrace the party under the new leadership. All in all though, the vast majority of the membership is united and looking ahead today. Hopes for an internal implosion by some have been dashed.

The picture above is even more striking and indicative of how and why the UCP is striking fear into the left.

Along with my wife and I we see Piotr and Christina Pilarski. Both very politically active and driven couples who have worked on a number of campaigns. Until recently though, we were always on different teams. As Wildrosers and PCs we all fought tooth and nail with each other for years. That was the kind of division that led to our accidental NDP government and that division is utterly gone today. We all will be working together to defeat the NDP now.

I have attended countless Wildrose gatherings over the last ten years. Last summer I attended my very first Progressive Conservative function when I went to the PC leadership gathering. Last Sunday I went to the UCP leadership race and was thrilled to see all the political movers and shakers from both parties all in one spot. It was not a tense gathering. It was not a forced marriage. We are all pumped and excited about being on the same team. The NDP has given us cause to unite in a way that no conservative leader ever could.

Think of the resources duplicated and wasted in the last few general elections as the Wildrose and PC parties battled with all they had. Strategists, campaign managers, donors and thousands of volunteers at every level all divided and working against each other. While a tiny minority of those have chosen not to join the UCP, clearly the vast majority have stayed on.

Now imagine the campaign machine that is in the works here. All of these people, the experience and the funds united with a common cause and under the leadership of a masterful campaigner.

That is what has the NDP in a true panic. Its not just Jason Kenney’s leadership. Its the huge and dedicated organization of people now focused together on ridding Alberta of its accidental, socialist government.

Rachel Notley usually shows composure. In a tweet this morning though, she clearly lost control and her petty and belligerent tweet this morning showed the abject terror that has infected her.

Yes, the tired old fear and smear drum is being beaten and it will be in an ever more shrill way until the NDP are finally tossed soundly from the legislature of Alberta in a general election.

I guess we can’t exactly expect the NDP to campaign on their sound fiscal management or on the “social license” that they never managed to buy us with the wretched carbon tax. Fear & smear is all they have.

Thank’s to Dave Rodney stepping aside, we will get to see a micro-preview of the next campaign as a by-election will be held in Calgary Lougheed. I sort of feel sorry for the residents of that constituency as they are about to be barraged by what will be one of the largest single constituency campaign teams that the province has ever seen. Volunteers from the new UCP are chomping at the bit to work on a campaign together against the NDP and they will be coming out in the hundreds if not the thousands as the by-election is fought. No door will go without being knocked multiple times nor phones without multiple calls. Hopefully Notley calls the election before Christmas so voters can get an assured non-political break right after the campaign.

As I said in a posting yesterday, David Khan finds himself rather hooped here. He is a brand new party leader as well and he needs a seat. His hopes are slim to none in Lougheed but he will look terribly weak if he doesn’t contest it.

One possible out for Khan would be in Calgary Mountainview if David Swann steps aside. Swann has no plans to run again and leaving a year or so early won’t harm his ambitions much This would be a terrible gamble for the Alberta Liberals though as they very possibly could find themselves going from one seat in the legislature down to none if Khan can’t win in Mountainview.

If David Khan can’t win in Calgary Mountainview in a by-election though, I think it is safe to say that he can’t win anywhere. Mountainview is the closest thing that the Liberal Party has to a provincial stronghold in Alberta.

Personally, I think that Doug Schweitzer would be an ideal UCP candidate to run in Mountainview as well. What better place to send out a dynamic, young and moderate urban Calgarian UCP candidate? I am just spitballing here of course but I think it would be a great race and if he won he would be a great addition to caucus.

We are in for some exciting political times in the next few months no matter how you look at it. As a conservative I have never felt so optimistic as I am now with this new united movement. There is a mountain of work to be done before the next general election but with this giant and experienced group, I am confident that it will be well polished by the spring of 2019. Yes, Rachel has good reason to fear for her job.

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The Alberta Party. New & refreshing? Nope. Same old crap.

Well, on October 4th I predicted that Karen McPherson would be running across the floor to join the Alberta Party in a desperate gambit to save her political skin. 

I am surprised that she crossed so soon though. This makes Greg Clark look like a fool at best, or an outright liar at worst.

Greg Clark has been pitching for years that the Alberta Party is something fresh. He said that they won’t play like the old backroom boys did. Clark implied that they would grow organically rather than through opportunistic floor crossings.

Well it looks like Clark was feeding everybody a line.

Don’t just take my word for it though. Listen to Greg Clark in his own words.

The video is only a minute long and he gets right to the point.

Yes. According to Clark not so long ago, crossings would only be proper if done with open and public consultations with constituents. The was to happen before a crossing happens rather than after. This is pretty clear as Greg Clark said that constituents should be able to say if they support the crossing or not. Rather pointless to ask after the fact isn’t it?

So yes, Greg Clark has determined that a backbencher who was happily sitting with a socialist party less than a month ago is such a perfect fit with his Alberta Party that he did a 100% flip/flop on his own promise and brought her in with no public consultation whatsoever.

I understand that Greg Clark was feeling insecure in going into the next legislative session with the smallest caucus in the house. While this does make Clark’s caucus twice the size of David Khan’s caucus, it is still tiny caucus. Was this caucus growth worth the cost of Clark’s credibility? Time will tell.

We can pretty much toss out all these cute little informational videos that Greg Clark made about the Alberta Party now. We know that he will toss those promises out in a heartbeat if opportunity presents itself.

Rather sad. He seemed like one of the more principled ones in the legislature.

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By-election time.

In a surprise move, Dave Rodney has stepped aside to allow Jason Kenney to run for a seat in Calgary Lougheed.

The question now is, will Notley give a full campaign against Kenney in the by-election and risk a crushing defeat that will be viewed as a bellwether for the next general election or will she go by the old tradition of not running a candidate against a new party leader? Either way it puts Notley in a very difficult position.

Calgary Lougheed is solid conservative country and the NDP only ever came close due to a vote split in the last election. That will not be happening this time around and Lougheed is in Kenney’s stomping ground of South Calgary. No long parachute here.

This also puts the Alberta Party in a tough spot. They need to show that they are a force outside of Calgary Elbow. Can they win a seat in an area with a low concentration of hipsters?

David Khan, the new leader of the Alberta Liberals is in need of a seat as well. He really has little excuse not to contest this seat and will look weak if he doesn’t. Khan will look weak if he is soundly beaten in a by-election a year before a potential general election too.

This is going to be a fun race and I look forward to volunteering on the campaign however I can.

In Kenney’s first day as leader of the United Conservative Party he has managed to put the leaders of every other party in the province on the run. I expect a trend as we see a man preparing a government in waiting rather than maintaining an opposition.

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The worst of conspiracy theories.

There are countless conspiracy theories out there with new ones springing up every day. The internet has provided a whole new platform where theorists can bounce poorly sourced anecdotes and links to oddball sites to help reinforce their perception of reality on a subject no matter how far from reality it may actually be.

In the real world, any conspiracy involving more than a handful of people won’t last more than a few months without general exposure to the truth. People simply aren’t all that good at keeping their mouths shut. That doesn’t stop those paranoid few who have managed to convince themselves of conspiracies that involve the complicit participation of thousands and even sometimes millions of people. Conspiracy theorists aren’t always crazy or stupid. These are just a class of folks who somehow feel compelled to set aside all rational evidence on a subject and have convinced themselves that things happen due to closed groups of people (or aliens) with nefarious intent. Usually if a person is into one conspiracy theory, one can find with a few questions that the person in question is into all sorts of conspiracy theories.

Most conspiracy theories are harmless and irritating at worst. Some are even offensive. No big deal. We don’t have the right not to be offended. I usually dismiss people pushing such theories as it is pointless to try and debate them with facts and their theories are not causing any real damage. Things change when we get into medical conspiracy theories though as many of those theories are outright dangerous and may drive some ill and vulnerable people into some very poor medical choices.

I was listening to the radio and the subject of vaccination came up. The usual horde of cranks popped out of the woodwork with their usual bullshit anti-vaccination pap. These folks have convinced themselves that polio and smallpox just vanished all on their own and the only reasons that vaccination is being promoted is to control minds or make money.

While anti-vaccination kooks are damaging enough, it is the anti-cancer care kooks that piss me off even more. Often these kooks are one and the same.

The main basis of the vapid anti-cancer care conspiracy theories is that the evil empire of “big pharma” has been purposely hiding cures for cancer as it is more lucrative to treat the disease than it would be to cure it. I know that facts are wasted on anybody who really believes such bullshit, but I do want to document exactly why this very dangerous conspiracy theory is bullshit as we see some very scared and vulnerable people who have been diagnosed with cancer falling for and clinging to the idiocy of these conspiracy theorists. This is what makes conspiracy theories in this realm dangerous and repugnant in the extreme.

OK. It seems that pretty much everybody can agree that “big pharma” is greedy and only in it for profit. I can live with that. The purpose of private enterprise is indeed to make a profit. There is utterly nothing wrong with that. That fact is also the first one that blows a giant whole in the bullshit theory that “big pharma” is suppressing cancer cures.

There are thousands of pharmaceutical/biotech companies in the world and they are all trying to make a profit. What better crown could any of these companies wear than that of being the one who came up with a cure for cancer (or even one type of cancer)? If a company, small or large came up with a cure for cancer you can rest assured that their share value would immediately rise by billions of dollars. The researchers would be immortalized with world prizes and pretty much everybody at a senior level at the company could relax and retire as a multi-millionaire. Are we really to believe that thousands of companies are all holding back in order to take part in this grand conspiracy? They are willing to make small profits or even go broke before releasing a cure for cancer? That’s what cancer conspiracy theorists want us to believe.

With thousands of companies we have millions of staff and people involved in the medical field involved with cancer treatment. Are we really to believe that these millions of people are willing to let their loved ones die in order to hide a cure for cancer? Are we to believe that these millions of people are so dedicated to the conspiracy that they will die themselves of cancer before letting the cure leak out? These heartless monsters are willing to watch millions of people endure the grueling conventional treatments for cancer and still will not break away from their conspiratorial group? That’s what cancer conspiracy theorists want us to believe.

Do you really think that the millions of doctors, nurses, pharmacists and such would be suddenly unemployed if cancer were to be miraculously cured? There are huge waiting lists around the entire world for every possible kind of medical specialist. We can all rest assured that all of those professionals will still be making good money and be quite busy if they were to be suddenly placed in a cancer free world. I doubt that these millions of people are hiding the cancer cure in order to keep their current jobs. That’s what cancer conspiracy theorists want us to believe though.

There are all kinds of cancers out there with all sorts of treatments. Some have a very high survival rate with relatively minor treatments. Some have a moderate cure rate with some pretty intrusive treatments. Some have a tiny cure rate and involve horrific treatments and some at this time are simply incurable. This is why upon diagnosis of any kind of cancer that it is so damn important to ignore the cancer conspiracy cranks and find out as much as possible from true, medically trained (not bullshit naturalists) doctors who specialize in cancer before making what literally could be the most important decisions of your life.

My mother was diagnosed with a type breast cancer a few years ago. It took a radical mastectomy and chemotherapy to treat her cancer. Quite an ordeal. I am happy to report that my mother is alive and well today after having undergone treatment and am confident that she would be dead had she refused it. Not all breast cancers can be beaten but we were fortunate in that hers could.

My cousin Shawn was diagnosed with an oral cancer caused by HPV a few years ago. He fought it with all he had. Shawn underwent multiple surgeries, chemotherapy and some horrific radiation treatment that put him through agony. For a short time, it appeared that the cancer had been beaten. Unfortunately, it had metastasized and returned with a vengeance which killed him before he could reach 50.

If he could turn the clock back would Shawn have chosen to undergo those agonizing treatments only to die a couple years later? I suspect that he would have as Shawn indeed lived for and deeply loved his young family. He would fight for every possible minute to stay with them and that is exactly what he did. What a terribly difficult sort of decision to make though. These sorts of decisions happen with cancer patients every day and we can’t let these choices be clouded with bullshit conspiracy theories.

There are countless, shitbag, parasitic fake cancer treatment centers all over the world. Mexico has turned into something of a hub for these heartless pricks. I personally have known a few people now who turned to Mexican clinics for cancer treatment. The mortality rate in my anecdotal experience with those places has been 100% so far.

These ghoulish criminals prey on people when they are at their most desperate and cancer conspiracy theories are one of the most effective tools in their toolbox.

Many cancer treatment prognosis are pretty awful to behold. I can’t imagine what it must be like to be told that you will endure agony caused by radiation and chemotherapy only to have a 20% chance to live for example. Perhaps some people will choose to take the shortened life and eschew the treatment. Perhaps some will take that chance and hope to be in the 20%. I can’t think of a decision more personal or important to somebody. I can’t think of something more sick though than having that decision mired by false promises from some crooks with an “alternative” therapy who will not only kill the patient, but will empty their bank account while they are at it.

I don’t blame people for trying the alternative options especially if the diagnosis from medical doctors has been terminal. It is a desperate choice that I so far have been fortunate enough to not have to try and make. Who knows, maybe if I was diagnose with a terminal cancer I would still fall for a pitch from one of these “alternative” treatment pushers. I despise seeing crooks push false hope with those faith/herbal bullshit treatments though. These cancer victims are suffering enough already.

Some people will say “well if it’s terminal, what is to be lost in going to these alternative clinics?”. Not to be crass but what can and would be lost is money. Tens of thousands or possibly even hundreds of thousands of dollars can be spent on these witch doctors. While money may not be the most important thing on the planet, it still will be damned important to the family left behind and I would rather see cancer victims leave their money to their children than some repugnant con-artist selling a fake cure.

Go ahead. Talk about how the moon landing was fake. Rant on about how the Illuminati are controlling the planet. Hell, deny the holocaust for all I care. It’s all bullshit but you have every right to believe it. Don’t try to feed me those medical conspiracy theories and keep them the hell away from people who need to make very real and serious medical choices however. You will be causing real damage then and your theory will have gone from a crackpot notion to an assault on an innocent person’s well being. Just keep that crazy shit to yourself and let people make their decisions.

Don’t bother flooding my comment section with links to medical conspiracy shit either. I am pretty open with differing views in the commentary but will not give any time or space to that crap so there is no sense wasting your time and mine.

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I’m voting for Jason Kenney

While always leaning towards supporting Jason Kenney for leader of the United Conservative Party race, I honestly came into this whole thing as undecided. I was open to seeing who else was going to enter the race and what they were going to offer. There has been a vigorous race with a good selection of views among the candidates.

I watched multiple debates and attended the Red Deer one in person. I have read the releases from the candidates (seems like one hits my inbox every 20 minutes or so) and have  watched how they campaign on social media and on the road. I have concluded that Jason Kenney is indeed the best person to lead the United Conservative Party into the next general election in Alberta.

The most important thing to me in choosing a leader is their general ideology. One can’t select a leader based on policy specifics or they will find that eventually they can’t support anybody. There are countless issues and political responses out there. One has to choose the person who appears to best represent them when responding to issues. Kenney has consistently held conservative values and represented them while in office. While I am not totally with him socially, his respect for grassroots policy generation and action makes me comfortable in supporting him.

Some have tried to be critical of Kenney in that he won’t put out a specific policy platform. How could Kenney support grassroots policies while dictating them in the leadership? Were Kenney to document a specific set of policies right now and some policies later conflicted with what the members selected at an AGM, we would see confusion and division being sown by the usual suspects. When asked directly whether through his constant live Facebook appearances, many townhall meetings or in interviews, Kenney has never hesitated to give his own view on specific issues. He wisely won’t bind the party to those views as he respects the membership. The only way somebody could claim that they don’t know where Kenney stands on issues is if they never made an effort to listen to him.

Ralph Klein was the right man at the right time in Alberta. Unfortunately his work was eventually undone as political complacency replaced responsibility during good economic times. One of the wisest things Klein put out there was how he would find out which way the parade was going and would get in front of it. That is what Kenney is doing now.

A trait of Klein’s that Kenney demonstrates in spades is the refusal to cower, back down and apologize whenever the hysterical left has demanded so. People were literally kicking the doors of the legislature while Klein did his great cuts. Pundits and unions went off the deep end in demanding that he back down. They said Klein was committing political suicide. Klein ignored them and won an even bigger majority in his second election. The left has fabricated a scandal a week involving Kenney and are constantly making demands that he apologize on social media. Kenney is brilliantly ignoring them and not letting himself get dragged down into their mire. That takes strength as so many counsel capitulation to the frenzied left. There is little point in addressing them and none in apologizing to them.

Kenney has been bluntly up front when questioned. In a radio interview a little while ago, a prospective supporter called in and asked Kenney how homeowners could be subsidized for home upgrades. Kenney bluntly said that they won’t because we are broke. This seems like a minor incident but when one considers that 99% of political aspirants would have given a long-winded, mealy mouthed reply in hopes of being everything to everybody, the lack of hesitation shown by Kenney in saying no was refreshing and significant. I want straight answers, not ass kissing.

Some knock Kenney as being a career politician. Yes, it is nice to see people from all sorts of career backgrounds contributing in politics. In a large caucus we get get all those voices. We are looking for a political leader, should we not want somebody with a solid base of political experience? To claim that Kenney shouldn’t lead because he is a career politician is akin to disqualifying a surgeon from head surgical position because they had spent too many years in the operating room on the way up. Political leadership is one of the most complicated trades on the planet and there is no degree program for it. Experience is an asset and Kenney has decades of it.

Kenney’s experience is an asset in that the left can’t play their usual “hidden agenda” card. With decades in Ottawa and in holding multiple senior cabinet positions in government, it is rather difficult to claim that Kenney has been holding on to some hidden insane political agenda all this time and has been waiting to release it once he is finally on the Premier’s chair. Kenney has an excellent knack for planning ahead politically but I don’t think he held back while in Ottawa in anticipation of a provincial role. If Kenney had some loony, extreme agenda it would have come out while he was in Ottawa and he would have lost his seat over a decade ago.

Kenney’s experience will aid in governing as well. The painful intricacies of a large bureaucracy need careful management. While we need to cut and to cut deeply, we need to do it with precision rather than with a chainsaw. Kenney has a solid grounding in experience to know where things can be cut and where they can’t without doing more damage than good.

With so much time in office and in so many positions of responsibility, we can be confident that Kenney can handle the pressures of the job. Albertans dodged a hell of a bullet when Danielle Smith cracked and took what she thought to be an easy out from a tough job offered by Jim Prentice. If Smith couldn’t withstand the pressures of leading the opposition, imagine how she would have done as Premier.

Aside from political ideology, a person has to ask themselves who is best placed to win the next election. Since announcing his intent to lead the PC Party and negotiate a merger Kenney has proven himself and incredibly effective leader. With relentless work and in ignoring detractors, Kenney won the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party in a landslide. Kenney then led us to a merger with 95% member support. Kenney is now very well placed to win the UCP leadership and upon gaining that will be our best person to win the role of Premier.

Lets make no bones about it. Last weekend’s municipal election in Calgary was a battle of the right vs. left and the left won. While it is clear that there is a huge appetite among the electorate to get rid of left wing leaders such as Naheed Nenshi, it is also clear that they electorate won’t elect just anybody to get rid of them. Voters want to vote against Notley, but they also want to ensure that they are voting for somebody as well. We can’t take anything for granted and polls have yet again proven themselves to be about as effective as a magic 8 ball. A strong and careful campaign has to be run or we can be assured of another 4 years of devastating socialist government in Alberta.

Brian Jean seems to be a decent enough fellow. He indeed stepped up to the plate when the party was in need and took on an unenviable role despite his having some terribly challenging family events. He has for the most part done an adequate job in leading. There are three things that together make me rule him out for the leadership of the UCP.

In the next election we will be running on a campaign of austerity. That is always a tough thing to sell to people and the only way to do so is to lead by example. I am invoking Klein again here. One of the first things Klein did as Premier was to cut the salaries of all MLAs including himself. While that is a drop in the budgetary bucket, it gave him credibility when he asked others to cut their own budgets. It made people believe that Klein could indeed get things done in Edmonton. Under Brian Jean’s leadership, the relatively small caucus budget was grossly mismanaged leading to what will be a terribly underfunded opposition party going into the next legislative session. By most accounts it appears that the money was pissed away on staffers whose role was not so much to work for the party but to aid in Jean’s leadership bid. Jean has never managed to give a credible explanation otherwise. How could we trust that management if and when he gets into the Premier’s chair?

Another issue I have has been Jean’s lackluster support of unity. Jean was opposed to unity until it became clear that it was unavoidable. He then became supportive. Pragmatism is a good thing and politicians are allowed to change their mind. Jean however has been claiming that he had always been a proponent of unity and I don’t care for being fed bullshit. Just admit that the political winds changed and you changed along with it. That I can respect. Don’t try to spin me though.

Brian Jean has already had a kick at the cat in a general election and we saw how he performed. Jean was in a tough spot and did an OK job but not nearly good enough. I just don’t want to take the chance again on letting him represent conservatives in what will be such an important election. I just don’t see how he will manage to galvanize the electorate in the way we will need to.

In the last general election, I managed the campaign of one of the Wildrose candidates. It was a tough go and we were having a terrible time trying to get a feel where things were going. There was a huge appetite for change at the doors that led to a giant undecided factor in the early part of the campaign. Danielle Smith and Jim Prentice’s gross political manipulations had revolted the electorate and they desperately wanted a new option. People held on for the debate in order to make up their minds and let’s be blunt, Brian Jean was nothing less than a catastrophe on the stage.

In hopes of reinvigorating our volunteers, I had rented a projection TV, bought beer and pizza and invited everybody to take a break and watch the debate live at campaign headquarters. My horror grew as Brian Jean blandly repeated his promise not to repeat taxes over and over again with a vapid facial expression that really did make one imagine that a string was being pulled in and out of his back in order to make him speak. Ian Robinson with the Sun called Jean’s performance in the debate “ghastly” and I can’t think of a better word to describe it. You don’t hear that word too often but in this case it was perfect.

Our volunteers left the debate night more dejected than ever. In the next week at the doors it became clear that our worst nightmare was coming to pass. In being repulsed by Prentice’s arrogance and weirded out by Jean’s robotic performance the undecided voters went with Notley who at least had shown some positive energy. The rest is history.

Jean has become somewhat more animated since that debate but his style still hardly sets the world on fire. I do not want to take the chance and give this man another chance in a debate against Notley. There is simply too much to lose.

Jason Kenney isn’t perfect but he is far and away the best candidate to lead the United Conservative Party into the next general election. He has the experience, the self-control, the work ethic and the common sense that we need in order to take Alberta back. I look forward to seeing Jason winning the UCP leadership at the end of the month.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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