Breaking down the by-election.

Jason Kenney’s win in the Calgary Lougheed by-election hardly came as a shock to anybody. The seat was a safe conservative one and Kenney’s campaign abilities are renowned.

Still, some were hoping to see some cracks and weaknesses in the Kenney steamroller which has powered through four of the five steps Jason listed in his plan to take back Alberta. Those with such hopes were bitterly disappointed last night as the results flew in (credit to Elections Alberta by the way for the speedy results with the new system).

Some of what gave the anti-Kenney folks in Alberta some hope was based on the disastrous fall legislative session. While traditionally in Alberta it is the government that is eager to end a session and go into the holidays in order to lick their wounds, this time it was the UCP scrambling for the exit. The UCP lurched from one legislative trap to another during the session and the official opposition seemed to spend more time on the defensive in question period than the government did. Icing on the cake was a pair of issues that emerged just last week with Jason Nixon and Derek Fildebrandt getting into the soup. Despite all that, hopes of cracks emerging in the Kenney armor were dashed last night as he posted a near record victory in Lougheed with 71.5% support.

With the next general election scheduled for the spring of 2019 (I think Notley will push it to 2020), any number of political happenings and changes could happen between now and then. It would be dangerous to assume that the mood among the electorate will remain as it was last night when they resoundingly rejected Phillip van der Merwe of the NDP. That said, we can still read a lot into the snapshot that the election last night provided.

THE WINNERS:

 United Conservative Party

The only party that can declare last night as a win is the United Conservative Party.

This was the first electoral test for the newly merged UCP. Some had speculated (hoped) that the merger between the Progressive Conservatives and the Wildrose Party would not translate into an automatic combined vote. Not only did the new UCP retain the combined vote from the two parties, they increased it by nearly 9%! This is huge in what it signifies and anybody trying to dismiss this is either delusional or simply spreading BS. Kenney not only kept the traditional conservative support, he increased it.

This was a hard fought campaign and nearly 72% of the constituency voted for the UCP. The campaign of fear and smear led by the Notley NDP not only failed dismally but has been defused. The NDP are many things but stupid is typically not one of them. If they continue to try to label all supporters of the UCP as being extreme and bigoted as they have been, they will be gravely insulting upwards of 3/4 of voters in suburban Calgary constituencies and likely even a higher number of people in rural constituencies.

The NDP will have to try and up their fiscal management record rather than throwing shit like aggrieved monkeys if they are to have any hope of staying in government in the next election. That means they have to play on Kenney’s turf and it is doubtful that they are capable of it.

THE LOSERS:

THE NDP

Governing parties traditionally have a tough time in by-elections. That said, despite throwing everything but the kitchen sink at Jason Kenney in the by-election the NDP support utterly collapsed.

The Notley NDP chose to run a strong candidate with Phillip van der Merwe who is a respected local doctor. This was a strategic choice as well since van der Merwe is openly gay. The NDP hoped to keep the campaign focused on social issues and perhaps draw out some extreme reactions against their candidate in hopes of playing victims.

It simply didn’t work.

Despite weeks of hard campaigning and constant hyperbole about Kenney and his supporters, the NDP support dropped by nearly half to finish with a sad 16.79%.

While nobody rational expected the NDP to win this race, this was still a huge blow to the party.

While this doesn’t guarantee a loss for the NDP in the next general election, when combined with two other by-election losses it makes it pretty clear that Albertans do indeed see the NDP as an accidental government in need of replacement.

The Green Party

The Greens are considered something of a moderate middle or acceptable left of center alternative in BC and many other jurisdictions. In Alberta, they don’t even register on the political radar.

Green Party leader Romy Tittel gathered a scant 60 votes in total for 0.55% support. This is nothing less than crushing for anybody who had any hope that the Greens were going to fill any kind of electoral void.

The Alberta Liberal Party

David Khan worked hard to gather what he could from the soft left. He was hoping that disenfranchised red tories from the PC party and perhaps some less than hard left supporters from the NDP would come his way. With the increase to the UCP vote, it looks unlikely that he pulled any traditional PC supporters. Khan may have drawn some from the NDP though and he did increase the Liberal vote share by 4.5% from the last election. Momentum is important and he gained some ground in trying to position his party as an alternative.

All the same, I suspect that the Liberals hoped to at least beat the NDP and score higher than 9.3%

The Alberta Party

The Alberta Party had a chance to represent themselves in the by-election but instead sat it out as they remained embroiled with internal turmoil. A loss with a good effort would still have looked better than their complete absence. The party’s lame excuse for not entering was that they needed to focus on the leadership race that they triggered when they pressured Greg Clark from the role. When it is considered that they haven’t drawn any contenders for that race to date, their excuse looks a tad hollow.

The Redford era Progressive Conservative strategists who flooded into the Alberta Party after the creation of the UCP have proven themselves to be the unprincipled, party destroyers that we all thought they were.

It will be at least another election cycle or two before the Alberta Party registers on the electoral horizon if ever.

Randy Thorsteinson’s Reform Party

Randy Thorsteinson was the leader of the Social Credit Party in Alberta in the 1990s. Randy later founded the Alberta Alliance Party which changed to the Wildrose Alliance and has evolved/merged into the UCP of today.

Thorsteinson is smart, works hard and is a very successful businessman. He puts his money where his mouth is as he backstops these political ventures with his own cash. This led to some very big problems with the Wildrose Party in the past that I will have to write about one of these days

The problem with Thorsteinson is that he is incapable of acting as a team player. He has to run the show and will invariably take his ball (money) and go home if he has anything less than total control of a party.

Randy’s latest creation is the Alberta Reform Party through which he ran his daughter Lauren Thorsteinson in the Calgary Lougheed by-election. Despite a well funded campaign with plenty of expensive signs and literature, Lauren finished with a lackluster 137 votes for a 1.26% showing.

The run did bring back memories of the 2007 Calgary by-election where Jane Greydanus (now Jane Morgan & yes she is my wife), ran under the Alberta Alliance banner. Randy Thorsteinson was the party president at that time and he pumped a lot of resources into the campaign. Jane finished with 456 votes for 4% which hardly threatened the powers that be but it was an important step (among so many) in our building of that movement that led to the UCP of today.

Randy has his personal, unabashedly social conservative party to play with and it will never become anything more than that.

The independents

Marilyn Burns has always specialized in representing the sour grapes in the conservative movement. She has jumped in and out of multiple provincial political parties only to organize bitter campaigns against them from the outside looking in. A common syndrome in alternative parties.

Since the UCP merger, Burns and a few other chronic malcontents have been trying to form the “Alberta Advantage Party”. By most accounts they won’t manage to get registered as a party and will likely fade away soon.

The “Alberta Advantage” bunch did combine their brainpower and resources to field a candidate as an independent. His name was Wayne Leslie and he gathered a whopping 42 votes for .39% of the vote. Truly insignificant.

Last and definitely least was Crazy Larry Heather who has run in countless elections on his platform of intolerant religious fervor and general insanity.

While clearly being touched by the gods, Larry doesn’t appear to have their support. Heather garnered a whopping 22 votes for 0.2% of the vote. That number was likely people who made errors with the voting machine.

This by-election was an excellent way to cap off a year for the UCP. After a chain of victories followed by a weak legislative session, the party is off to a bright and strong start for 2018.

Jason Kenney has been in campaign mode for over 18 months with one race after another. Kenney can now finally focus on leading and managing the UCP so that it truly can be turned into the government in waiting that Albertans want. With Kenney’s formidable work ethic and organizational skills focused on the party rather than outside campaigns, I expect that we will see a much stronger and better prepared UCP going into the next legislative session.

Another factor that made things difficult for the UCP in the fall session was a lack of legislative budget due to the last leader of the opposition having pissed it away in hopes of retaining his position. The clock is reset and this fiscal handicap will not be in play for the unified UCP in 2018. With a full research and support team in the legislature I expect we will see a stronger presence as bills are properly vetted and amendments created. Committee work should improve too.

2018 is looking like a good year for the UCP and Alberta.

 

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The Alberta Party. They’re just not ready.

It is hardly news to any that Jacob the Hurricane Huffman is miles ahead of the pack in the race to lead the Alberta Party. Jacob exploded on to the scene and has finally generated that buzz and excitement that Alberta Party claims to have wanted to generate.

New memberships have been sold and people are committing to signing Huffman’s nomination papers to ensure he is all set to go.

Fundraising has been brisk as people scramble to support this young visionary on his quest to make the Alberta Party great again. 

Alas, despite all of this hard work and preparation by Huffman it appears that the powers that be still are not actually ready to hold a leadership race as can be seen in the email below.

How is it that a party that won’t even run a candidate in a by-election can’t seem to find the time in putting together an application form with nearly a month to work on it?

With a veteran Redford organizer such as Susan Elliott at the helm, it is astounding that they can’t somehow accomplish even this simple little task.

What is keeping the Alberta Party so busy? No campaign in the by-election and no rush of candidates aside from Hurricane Huffman’s fantastic run. Can they not cobble together a basic application form? Apparently not.

Just tossing a guess out there that perhaps Team Redford should have thought a little harder before pressuring Greg Clark out of the leadership.

Thankfully, Jacob Huffman is undeterred and is marching right along with his campaign.

Get behind Jacob today! With him at the helm of the Alberta Party, there is no limit on what can be done! 

 

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Meet Alberta’s next Premier!

There is just no doubt about it. Jacob Huffman has taken the Alberta Party leadership race by storm and so far looks utterly unstoppable.

Huffman, also known as “The Hurricane” or “The Lemmy Kilmister” of Alberta politics has taken a commanding lead over all other candidates with the bold release of his platform today.

Huffman pays homage to the mushy middle nature of the Alberta Party with his brilliant insertion of the term “possible” right in the title of his platform release.

While playing to the roots of the party about nothing, Huffman also brilliantly dedicates his unabashed support for bringing about the return to power for past supporters of Alison Redford thus leaving his competitors who have beaten around this bush in the political dust.

Along with some fantastic plans for economic stimulus while still recognizing that math is indeed hard, Huffman has fleshed out a fantastic, possible plan for the Alberta Party.

The addition of a puppy picture has ensured that this will indeed be one of the strongest and most popular political platforms that Albertans have ever seen.

All polls conducted since Huffman’s meteoric arrival in the hotly contested race for the leadership of the Alberta Party have clearly indicated that his lead is so strong that his competitors can’t even been seen (or heard or named for that matter).

With scant months remaining in this race, Huffman has set the bar high for all aspiring for that coveted throne enjoyed by the Leader of the Alberta Party (though that throne was recently something of an ejection seat).

Huffman has told me: “I plan on running a fair, and solid campaign, that I’m in it to win it, and will hold people accountable to democratic principals.”

I am quite excited to have purchased a membership in the Alberta Party in anticipation of voting for this visionary young man.

Memberships can be purchased here. 

We are seeing history in the making today.

A top politician indeed.

 

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Sometimes, smaller is better.

I live in the community of Priddis Alberta. It is a small bedroom community about 10 km West of the Calgary city limits just south of the Tsuu T’ina native reserve.

We are a region more than a town. Over about 20 square kilometers there are about 2000 people in various small subdivisions, acreages and farms. There is a hamlet in the middle of it all where we have a community center, a small mall with a gas station, and a number of small businesses such as the pub and business center.

Pictured below is the Priddis curling team playing a game on Fish Creek in 1895. The rink was soon built nearby along with the community center. Winter activity has long been important here.

Aside from the community center, the true hub of the community is the modest but popular outdoor skating rink. It has been there in one form or another for well over one hundred years now.

Multiple generations have learned to skate here as it is very popular with families during the day and hockey players at night. It is a gathering place where community members can meet and establish a relationship as a true community rather than simply being a loose collection of residences.

At night after closing the pub, I often walk past the rink on the way home and see a number of young folks from the Tsuu T’ina reserve out playing informal shinny with other locals. Our communities unfortunately rarely interact directly but the rink does provide a place (aside from my pub) where people from both communities can interact and have a good time.

As a growing community we have many young families here. Our local “Priddis Panthers” hockey needed to be divided into nine teams.

The rink is funded by donors and maintained by volunteers. Whenever weather permits, volunteers are out in the wee hours flooding the ice and in summer they are repairing and painting the boards. It is a fun community activity just keeping the rink up to shape.

All that said, resources are always tight and the weather is our biggest enemy. Below I have taken a picture of the rink just today. Two weeks of warm weather have melted the ice down to the pavement and until we get some cold nights to re-flood, we will go without a functional rink.

A small Zamboni would add many many precious weeks of rink time to our community as a much thicker layer of ice can be built and maintained in much less time. Refrigeration systems can aid as well. A small used Zamboni can be found for anywhere from $20,000-$40,000. I don’t know what refrigeration costs but I suspect it is dear. We are always fundraising and may get these things eventually.

OK. I know you are thinking: “So what? Canada has hundreds of communities in the same boat.”

Well, that is my point. Outdoor rinks are a true Canadian tradition from coast to coast and there are hundreds of them. Most if all of them are always in need of more funding to keep as functional as possible. They provide healthy activity that bonds communities. What better place could there be for funding from our Canada 150 celebrations?

The Trudeau Liberals decided to spend $5.6 million dollars for a temporary rink on Parliament Hill that will last perhaps 8 weeks at tops. The public will have to book in advance to use the rink and will be barraged with a pile of rules for time and allowed activity. It should be noted that the Rideau Canal is right there and has provided public skating for over a century as well.

The reason to ignore Canadian communities while spending millions on this temporary rink is obvious. It is pure political vanity.

Justin Trudeau can never get enough opportunities to take selfies, show off his socks and do publicity stunts (as opposed to trying to run our nation).

We can rest assured that Pierre Jr. will do a grand ribbon cutting with his hair styled perfectly along with an entourage of photographers to ensure that every angle is covered. They can’t have the grimy backdrop of some small town! They must have the Parliament buildings in the background as they worship Canada’s child-king.

Ohh the “impulsive” follies will be beautiful to behold as Canada’s tax funded personal paparazzi catch Justin helping children learn to skate just after kissing their mom’s cheeks with just the right angle from the sun. Justin will surely take a gleeful tumble or two on the ice which will just happen to be perfectly photographed just as his little faux-kayak turnover was.

The cameras will make love to Justin and he will surely climax for them in return. Let’s hope it is discrete but who knows what lengths Trudeau will go to to try and distract from Morneau’s mess?

A rink that will only last a few weeks is well worth $5.6 million for such a public relations bliss as our Prime Minister is determined to be our most vain leader in history (following daddy’s footsteps closely).

If the Liberals really wanted to leave a Canada 150 legacy that was appreciated, they could have given grants of $50,000 to 112 small town rinks in Canada. They could have randomly drawn from applicants. Hell, I am sure that the rinks would all be happy to put up a plaque with a picture of and thanking Trudeau for the grant. A small price to pay and we know damn well that volunteers would make that $50,000 stretch infinitely farther than the fools in Ottawa did. The benefits would be felt for generations.

Alas, Trudeau will always think bigger is better.

If that was not the case, then why not stop giving Bombardier billions and instead give out thousands of $100,000 business startup grants? Hell, if only 10% of the startups survived we would still see more benefit and employment than we get in pissing it into Bombardier only to have them come back begging for more every year.

Yes, smaller is better indeed. Unless you are of old stock money and vanity such as those members of Canadian aristocracy such as Morneau and Trudeau. In that case, the spending can never be big enough.

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