Nobody moves! Nobody gets hurt!

Notley just couldn’t put off the sitting of the Legislative Assembly forever. Despite deferring the sitting for an extra month, the session began with a series of scandals and bungling as the inept collection of accidental MLAs tried to find their footing.

With support numbers for Notley in an outright free fall in Alberta, the NDP government has taken on the strategy of doing as little as humanly possible in the legislature in hopes of avoiding further disasters.

This desperate tactic of doing nothing is clearly evident in the vacuous Bill 1 tabled by Deron Bilous last week.

This empty waste of paper truly has to be read to be believed.

Bill 1: Promoting Job Creation and Diversification Act

Bill 1 is an utter waste of legislative resources and time. The act changes nothing and provides no less or more power to the Minister than already exists. Bill 1 is simply pointless fluff devised by the NDP brain trust to clutter the legislative session with something that they hope is harmless while they try to figure out how to escape the inevitable fallout from the pending, disaster of a budget that Ceci will have to table eventually.

This video is great. Prasad Panda masterfully leads Bilous into a corner by feeding him terms from his own bill (sort of makes one wonder who actually wrote the thing). Panda then knocks it out of the park on Bilous leaving the Minister stumbling and trying to justify this bill about nothing.

Yesterday I questioned Minister Deron Bilous about the capacity and ability of his ministry. The minister confirmed what we already thought – Bill 1 is a Bill about nothing.

It’s time for the NDP government to stop talking about jobs and start taking action and creating them!

Posted by Prasad Panda on Friday, 11 March 2016

While it is comical to watch the NDP lurching around while pretending to be a competent government, it is a dark comedy. We are sinking into a recession with record government deficit levels. If the NDP continues to mismanage the province like this, it will take generations to recover.

Lets hope that Notley’s gang of baristas and liberal arts grads find their legislative feet soon as hiding behind vapid, empty bills for fear of screwing up further is not exactly a good long term solution to anything.

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Kudatah 2016!! Notley is still in power & protesters embarrassed themselves.

Well this should pretty much spell the end of the bizarre, George Clark “Kudatah” movement. After months of bizarre claims of unseating the government through petitions, ravings about approaching the Queen and announcing a ridiculous strategy to take over the NDP in an odd press conference in a Walmart parking lot, the George Clark “kudatah” initiative hit its peak outside of the legislature yesterday.

While some of Clark’s supporters are scurrying around claiming that as many as 8000 people came out to protest the Notley government yesterday, pretty much every reputable news organization noted the turnout to be “hundreds”. Not totally insignificant but hardly indicative of a budding revolution in the province.

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Even before the rally, Clark’s supporters were hard at work calling radio stations in hopes of drumming up support. The recording below is noteworthy of the depth of the George Clark promotional campaign.

While Clark’s supporters love to decry the elitism of folks, they really don’t do themselves any favors when they cant do simple checks on their spelling before going on public display.

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Not being satisfied simply with incoherent and illiterate messaging, George Clark’s supporters happily provided some evidence of tasteless extremisms as they displayed swastikas, referenced a “final solution” and mimicked Nazi salutes during the protest.

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As predicted, George Clark and his hysteric gang are actually managing to set rational opposition to Notley back as they made collective fools of themselves at the legislature yesterday.

Clark then got some kids lined up and had them hold numbers to represent the apparent number of signatures that he has collected on a pair of petitions. In remaining consistent with his polished approach, George lined the kids up incorrectly which caused his handful of supporters to think that they had nearly half a million signatures. Upon correction, that number went down to 160k. When consideration is taken into account that it is two petitions, that number goes to about 80k. Still a sizable number of signatures but is also has to be taken into account that most of those signatures were taken under false pretenses as George Clark had claimed to folks that the petitions would lead to unseating the Notley government.

Even if George Clark had managed to gain a million signatures, the outcome would be the same. Nothing would change.

Sheila Gunn Reid with Rebel Media excellently broke down exactly why and how all of the things that George Clark claims will unseat the Notley government are simply bunk.

A new legislative session is beginning. Rational people are working to improve government within the legislature while many more are working to unseat Notley in the one and only possible way (in a general election).

George Clark wont give up. Hell, he raised over $27,000 from gullible supporters in a matter of weeks. Why would he stop now?

Lets just hope that even Clark’s supporters begin to realize that they are chasing an impossible and unreasonable goal and that they either begin to support some rational movements or simply just fade into the distance of public view.

Let George Clark be an embarrassing but passing footnote in Alberta political history.

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The Alberta Party still needs to find itself.

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By-elections are a tough thing to deal with in partisan politics.  They are fickle and politically dangerous. Parties are heavily motivated to win political points with a by-election win and often dedicate massive amounts of fiscal and human resources to these snapshot elections. The campaigning essentially turns to white noise as electors are barraged with door knockers, flyers and phone calls from all parties while every street corner becomes covered with a vomit of colorful election signs that few take direct notice of. In the end, a candidate is chosen by what is usually an utterly dismal turnout of the electorate which may or may not represent the political trends of the province or even the city that the constituency is in.

All that being said, it remains crucial that political parties put their best foot forward in these by-elections. A win or even close second can be framed after the by-election as a trend and a party that loses big can and will have their noses rubbed in the loss for months or years to come whether it’s fair or not. While a by-election win does not ensure that the winning party will form the next government, it certainly does look good. A win indicates that voters are willing to accept that party in the right circumstances. A win also demonstrates that the party remains viable and well organized between general elections. These impressions are very important.

Despite the clear importance of making a mark in by-elections, the Alberta Party has chosen not to run a candidate in the upcoming Calgary Greenway by-election.

There are some bright folks within the Alberta Party. The only reason that the Alberta Party is sitting out the by-election is that they are utterly incapable of running in it. They didn’t have a candidate in Greenway in the last general election and they likely have utterly no organization on the ground in that constituency. The party bank account is likely pretty dry as well. Greenway is a suburban constituency as well. The number of hipsters in that part of Calgary is terribly low though it is well served by transit.

Alberta Party leader, Greg Clark is a genuine, smart and likeable fellow. Despite having but one seat in the legislature, Clark has managed to gain a respectable degree of press in that role (I assure you that the Wildrose was not treated so favorably when Paul Hinman was our lone MLA). Clark puts out pragmatic statements and releases on issues and he is generally respected by all who know him.

The problem is, Greg Clark is not just the leader of the Alberta Party. Greg Clark IS the Alberta Party.

In a set of by-elections in late 2014, the Alberta Party focused all of their resources on Greg Clark during the campaign. While this led to Clark to grabbing a respectable second place, Alberta Party candidates running in other constituencies came in with dismal single digit electoral showings. They simply had no volunteers or funds as it all drifted into Clark’s campaign in Elbow.

Less than a year later the Alberta Party used the exact same strategy in the general election. With the solid support base built in the previous by-election and a smartly run campaign, Clark took Calgary Elbow in an upset and became the lone MLA for Calgary Elbow. The Alberta Party has always been heavily populated by hipsters as well. Calgary Elbow contains the bulk of Calgary’s hipster demographic making it an ideal spot to focus their efforts on.

The strategy of putting all of the party eggs into one electoral basket while great for Clark, led to the Alberta Party polling a flaccid 2.28% support across the province. This has to be pretty demoralizing for the candidates and volunteers who did what they could in all of the other constituencies around the province. With 86 constituencies having been left out to dry by the party like that, it is pretty obvious why broad ground level organization has not happened throughout the province. Why work your butt off when the party will only focus on one constituency and one candidate?

The Alberta Party has long tried to be everything to everybody and this sunshine and lollypop strategy is starting to fail. The interminable “big listen” held by the party never really led to coherent policies and while the leadership put out pragmatic statements, the supporters often vocally took stances that were more along the NDP lines. The Alberta Party kept trying to call themselves centrists while their supporters kept pushing to the left. Notley’s win and Clark’s pragmatism has led to many supporters giving up the façade of centrism and simply jumping in with the NDP. Now the party is adrift to the point where they cant even battle a single by-election in their own city.

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In a bizarre demonstration of how the Alberta Party really doesn’t stand for much in a solid sort of way, Greg Clark joined with Green Party leader Janice Keeping in endorsing Laurie Blakeman as an unofficial candidate for all three parties in the 2015 election. This weird strategy backfired terribly as Blakeman soundly lost the seat that she had held for nearly 18 years.

The Alberta Party needs to define itself as being something more than simply saying “centrist” over and over again while being totally focused on one person in one constituency. If the Alberta Party can’t manage to do this within the next couple years, they very well may end up simply being a footnote in Alberta electoral history.

If and when the party determines clearly who they are and what they stand for, they will then need to reach beyond their power center in Calgary Elbow. They will need to identify voters in every constituency in Alberta (or at least a hell of a lot more of them) who share this new vision. Once identified, these people need to be organized and trained to maintain constituency associations or at least build a strong if informal social organization that can be turned into a fundraising/campaign team when election time comes.

That is a lot of work to pull off in a relatively short period of time but it must be done.

To show how it can be done, one needs only to point to a local Alberta lunatic named George Clark (no relation).

George Clark’s message is simple even if it is utterly impossible and not terribly rational. It appeals to a segment of Albertans and George Clark has capitalized on that. Clark has identified and targeted folks who believe his strategy of bullshit. Clark has then organized these people into petitioners around the province who will be bringing in petitions signed in person by upwards of 100,000 people. George Clark has also raised $27,000 and counting from gullible supporters.

Not bad considering that George Clark’s twitter account is a social media laughing stock with only a couple hundred followers. This leads to my next point for the Alberta Party:

GET OFF SOCIAL MEDIA AND GET ON THE GROUND!

A madman with proposals that have been laughed out of every rational political discussion has managed to galvanized and gather thousands of supporters in just a few months. Clark did this by travelling around the province and building ground organizations. He has not bothered with the slacktivism of twitter political engagement. If elections could be won with social media presence alone, Greg Clark would already be Alberta’s Premier.

I am not for a second suggesting that the Alberta Party needs to adopt a platform of bullshit and sell a fairy tale around the province as George Clark did. I am pointing out that the Alberta Party needs to look at the example of George Clark to see what the power of simple messaging and true ground work is.

It really was quite surprising to see that the Alberta Party is so up against the rocks that they cant run a candidate in the Calgary Greenway by-election. They really had done quite well with quite few resources. It is becoming abundantly clear though that they need to really examine themselves and come up with some new messaging and vision if they want to go beyond being a one seat wonder.

Until people really know what the Alberta Party stands for and until they see the party visible in their own neighborhoods, the Alberta Party will continue to languish in the sub-5% popular support numbers.

That is sad as they had potential

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Are the Trudeau Liberals preparing to try and regulate internet content?

Hedy Fry has long been known as one of the nuttier members of the federal Liberal caucus.

It isn’t surprising to hear her asking for something as stupid or as dangerous as getting government directly involved in monitoring the accuracy of things posted on the internet. Accuracy can be a subjective thing at times and yes, some stuff is outright inaccurate by any measure. It isn’t the damned government’s role to dip into this and potentially cause havoc with the fantastic, open information exchange that we enjoy today on the internet even if at times some inaccurate things make their way out there.

It is sort of ironic that Hedy Fry is proposing this when one consider that she is the nut who won national notoriety when she falsely accused the citizens of Prince George of hosting cross burnings. Accuracy has never been Hedy’s personal priority.

Don’t just take my word for it though. Listen to Hedy the Clown speaking to a committee below.

Loss of freedom is usually an incremental thing. While I make light of things, this shouldn’t be taken lightly and should be watched closely.

Well, I will post these images below and see if the Liberal accuracy police come after me down the road.

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If it saves just one life…. Bah.. Kiss my ass.

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There are many stupid arguments made about all sorts of things in the world. Without doubt though, there are few cases to be made that are more bloody damned stupid as the old “if we could save just one life….”..

This idiotic tripe gets trotted out in damned near every political debate known to man whether it is in when trying to justify bombing another nation (yeah think about that), or gun control or health care spending. Well folks, it doesn’t matter how bloody well meaning your pet cause may be because saving one life alone likely wont be a realistic baseline in funding or supporting it.

I may as well begin with one reality that so many assholes in this world don’t want to face (including me).

WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE!

Your Nana and Papa are going to die. Your Mom and Dad are going to die. Your kids are going to die. Your pet gerbil is going to die and of course no matter what you may think, eventually you are going to die.

We cant avoid death. I think that this is pretty well established though we don’t like thinking or talking about it.

We cant prevent death but we can and do want to defer it as long as possible.

The next ugliness that comes up when drifting down this cheery train of thought though is the fact that life comes at a price.

YES! SOMETIMES IT IS TOO FUCKING EXPENSIVE TO TRY AND SAVE EVERY DAMNED LIFE OUT THERE!

Really, it gets agonizing when some idiot says that money is no object when it comes to saving a life. Of course it bloody well is!

Think of this, if we spent the money to put a trained MD on a street corner in every city we would certainly defer the deaths of all sorts of people. Car accidents, heart attacks, draino drinkers and who knows what else would be able to grab some precious few extra years thanks to the fact that they had a trained medical professional within reach for every incident. So why aren’t we doing this? If it saves one life…. Oh yeah, it is too fucking expensive. So about that not being able to put a price on a life thing…

We cant medicate to save everybody. We cant put a sign up to prevent every possible accidental death. We cant label everything quite enough. We cant afford every experimental treatment and we simply cant hold everybody’s hand.

Look folks, we should do all we can to preserve life and make as last as long as possible. Reason has to be applied however. We cant save em all and there is nothing wrong (in fact there is everything right) in trying to get the best bang for our buck here.

Why am I on this cranky ramble?

Well for one, I am naturally cranky. Its simply who I am.

My main point in writing this is so that I have is quick link to point the next dickhead to who tries to use the pathetic and oh so common “if it saves just one life..” case in a discussion.

It Is simply impossible to get that rant out in 140 characters.

Not every life is really as worthy of saving as the next one too but that is a discussion for another time.

Happy Monday by the way. 🙂

 

Latest on Crazy George Clark’s pending kudatah.

George Clark declared some time ago that he would unseat Rachel Notley from government on February 8, 2016.

That date has come and past but George has no end to his excuses. He has pushed back his planned “kudatah” until March 8 now. That has given George the opportunity to raise thousands of dollars from his desperate supporters who have believed Clark’s delusion that a government can be unseated by petition.

So far, the fruits of all those thousands in donations appear to be signs such as the one pictured below which have been popping up on rural roads in Alberta.

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Clearly a refined and expensive advertising machine is coming together under the brilliant guidance of George Clark.

Despite such clear evidence that the donations are being well spent, I suspect that George is starting to feel some pressure from his donors and supporters as the date of the government takeover keeps floating around and the advertising appears to be a little less polished than expected.

That pressure looks to be making the crazy leak out of George Clark even more.

George appears to have used those dollars to expand his air war in advertising through calling in to talk radio shows with some less than coherent outbursts as can be seen below. I guess he does need money to pay those cell bills while he remains on hold.

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The video shows Clark doing an utter flipflop on his own BS. Sorry George, you have made that claim many times. Cant back out now. The internets are forever.
 

Unfortunately, George Clark’s ad communications team neglected to mention to him that he was speaking to Roger Kingkade rather than Rob Breakenridge. George seems to have lost track of the time of day as well since his call to action simply led to the spamming of Danielle Smith with text messages from his supporters rather than Kingkade.

Having all that pressure of a future Kingship over Alberta appears to be unsettling poor George.

Next George dives down the rabbit hole of international socialist conspiracy theories and his rabid followers expand on it.

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George Clark is not only going to save us all when he unseats Notley with his petitions this March, he is going to break us free from the shackles of an international socialist conspiracy while he is at it! What a guy!

Getting a little serious for a minute here though folks. Clark has a great many followers who really believe his pap and they are going to be extremely disappointed when it all falls apart on the steps of the legislature on March 8. I know that the vast majority of them will grumble and wander home harmlessly while thinking that they have been beaten by the Grand Conspiracy for now. Some however may not go so quietly. Many people have become quite emotional and really are getting pretty paranoid and worked up by George’s ongoing bullshit campaign. Lets hope these folks stay peaceful but prepare for the worst.

There is real work to be done in improving Alberta’s political landscape. George Clark’s loopy movement is distracting from and even harming serious efforts however. I do hope that the cold wash of reality that will hit him and his supporters on March 8 will get rid of them but I sadly doubt it.

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If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

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It should have been a quiet week for Rachel Notley. We are still in the post holiday doldrums and the next legislative session is still weeks away as Notley keeps deferring it in hopes of building a functional caucus. The last session was an utter disaster and I can understand why Notley wants to hide from the next one even if I don’t agree with or respect the deferral.

A cuddly press conference was scheduled for today where the latest baby born of an MLA was to be showcased. People were expected to ooh and ahh and be distracted from Notley’s dismal and  plummeting support numbers.

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Instead of riding out a quiet week though, Notley chose to open up a media shitstorm upon herself. Over the last few weeks Notley’s government has been rather thuggishly kicking journalists from Ezra Levant’s Rebel Media out of government media events.

 

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Many media personalities don’t get along. They are heavily competitive and they have views that range on all sides of the ideological spectrum. It is tough to get a media consensus on pretty much any issue. One thing that will always get the media inflamed and cause them to circle the wagons though is when the heavy hand of government drops on one of their own. Media members and other pundits were mortified as an unapologetic Notley Comms person declared that Levant is not a journalist (nor apparently are any of the staff in his organization) and that they would no longer allow journalists from his outlet into their press functions.

While many in the media have little use for Levant and they have chafed under his constant attacks on what he calls “the media party”, they still recognize him even if grudgingly as a journalist. They saw his ouster as being a threat to journalistic freedom. The slippery slope was evident and the members of the “media party” rallied and decried Notley’s move.

Notley’s communications department is hopelessly inept but even they realized that enraging the majority of the media is not a good idea. In a panic, they sought out an expert in the issue and dropped the matter onto her lap.  They had taken a small issue and made it big again.

Still ever stubborn and petty, the Notley government refused to let Rebel Media into their events until a review was conducted. In considering how long their royalty review took, that suspension of journalistic freedom could have been pretty long.

By today it looks like expert advice prevailed and Rebel Media is now allowed back into government pressers. I suspect that the advice given to Notley and Oates was along the lines of “Look you idiots, you are losing this dearly. Let them back in before it gets even worse!”

Now things are back to how they were and a review is pending. We have to now ask though, what is the problem? Why is there a review? Should there not be a problem to address before spending tax dollars to seek a solution?

The only problem that can be seen is that Levant’s Rebel Media was pissing off the government. They were not disruptive in conferences and we have seen no evidence that other web based media has been either.

The Legislature rotunda is not running out of room and pressers are not being overwhelmed with small market journalists. Again, what is the problem?

There has only been one problem and that has been the Notley government infringing on journalistic freedom. Notley created that problem and in backing off it is solved. There is nothing that needs fixing.

As funds get wasted on a review for a non-issue, I do hope that some messaging got through into the dense minds of the Notley administration. Leave the damned press alone!

Notley would be a fool to come up with some sort of strict regulatory press policy after having endured this public relations nightmare. Of course, she hasn’t proven terribly bright on these issues so far so little would surprise me.

The problem we have today is an inept government with a thin skin. They need to look within to solve that problem rather than try to stunt open coverage of their actions.

Sometimes things are best left alone. I wonder if and when the Notley government will begin to understand this simple lesson.

 

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Totally tone deaf!

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They just don’t get it. They really haven’t a bloody clue. It almost seems like they are some sort of parody group or something.

What I am speaking of is the new Alberta PAC calling itself the “Alberta Prosperity Fund”.

This is a group that apparently is working on uniting Alberta’s right. They have some interesting names popping up in association with them but their website is brutally shallow in detail. What is the extended goal? Where are these funds coming from? Who exactly is running that show?

This group is already arrogantly making demands of the established parties as we head towards a by-election in Greenway. This group is holding meetings here and there where they speak in circles of a united right yet we don’t see any of the organized players at them.

I was nothing short of flabbergasted though when I saw that they had held a meeting in Cochrane recently where they had none other than disgraced former MLA Bruce McAllister on the panel.

Are you guys really that damned stupid??!!

Does that collection of conservative minds really have such a disconnect with the public sentiment and the views of Wildrose and PC members that they would so idiotically trot out a face as inflammatory as that of Bruce McAllister when claiming to want to unite these groups?

Here is refresher for those who may have forgotten.the events of a little over a year ago.

Bruce McAllister was one of the Wildrose MLAs who stabbed the entire Wildrose Party membership in the back when they crossed the floor following Danielle Smith in hopes of taking a shortcut to the government benches. If you want to piss of essentially every member of the Wildrose Party in short order, bring one of the disgraced floor crossers to speak to them.

Prentice and his vapid gang of floor crossers didn’t just piss the Wildrose Party membership off. The Progressive Conservative Party caucus and members were rightly furious with the crossing too. Promises of protected nominations and cabinet seats for the floor crossers evaporated. When the PC membership took out their ire by wiping out the floorcrossers one by one in nominations, Prentice panicked. Prentice then kicked every Progressive Conservative party member in Chestermere in the balls when he intervened and appointed Bruce McAllister as their candidate before the membership could fire his sorry ass as they did with Smith, Fox and others.

The final rejection of Bruce McAllister came from the voters themselves in the general election. They rightly tossed McAllister to the unemployment line where he deserved to be.

Now I ask, since Bruce McAllister is despised by the Wildrose members, loathed by the Progressive Conservative members and was soundly rejected by the electorate of Alberta, what asshole in their right mind would put this kind of person front and center when supposedly trying to unite all three of these groups?

This is not a unifying effort. People like McAllister are a red flag in front of a grassroots bull. McAllister represents everything that principled party members abhor. It is difficult to find a person worse to represent unity.

If this is any indication of the sort of political instinct and judgement coming from the brain trust of the Prosperity Fund, I say no thanks. They look like all the unemployed assholes who the voters just tossed out and are trying to find a new backdoor way to get to the government benches again .

I would rather take my chances with a divided right than put the weasels back in power.

If things are going to unite in any sort if way, it will come from the bottom up. It will be members initiatives from both parties and it will take time. It will never come from a group so bloody obtuse as to highlight a person like Bruce McAllister. Will they dig Rob Anderson from the bowels of the disgraced political world next?

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Unite the right? Not so fast!

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Let’s be clear. The Notley NDP were not elected due to Alberta having a divided right. As can be seen with the historical NDP support numbers in general elections, there is room to split things over five ways before risking the election an NDP government.

What happened in the 2015 election was the result of a collective revulsion on the part of the electorate over Danielle Smith’s treachery and Jim Prentice’s repugnant and flagrantly power hungry behaviour.

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The electorate was appalled when Jim Prentice lured Smith and her followers into a mass floor crossing that spat in the faces of thousands of their former supporters. Voter disgust only increased as Prentice manipulated nominations in his own party while breaking his own party’s law for fixed election dates is what was a clear power grab.

When given the opportunity, party members showed their ire as they tossed out floor crossers at nomination meetings despite the best efforts of Prentice and Navigator to protect them. The panicked protection of Bruce McAllister’s nomination after other nomination losses only served to infuriate members and voters further as we moved towards an election with no justification.

Former Wildrose opposition leader Danielle Smith delivers a speech after losing the PC nomination to Carrie Fischer for the Highwood riding in High River, Alta on Saturday, March 28, 2015. Smith crossed the floor with 8 other Wildrose MLAs, defecting to the PC party and leaving the Wildrose with 5 seats. There were a total of 942 ballots cast for the nomination, but the exact results were not disclosed.

Former Wildrose opposition leader Danielle Smith delivers a speech after losing the PC nomination to Carrie Fischer for the Highwood riding in High River, Alta on Saturday, March 28, 2015.

People were outright disgusted with the Progressive Conservative Party and it’s leadership as the 2015 election campaign began. The Wildrose Party was still reeling from the mass defection and adjusting to a brand new leader. The taint of Smith’s self-serving actions still hung on the Wildrose Party as well whether fair or not. The Liberal Party was in shambles and the Alberta Party was still essentially unheard of by the majority of the electorate.

Desperate voters migrated to what they saw as the only familiar and principled voice in the electoral lineup. Nobody was thinking of right or left as they migrated to Notley. What people wanted to see for a change was some honesty and principles no matter what side of the electoral spectrum those principles came from. The PC principle of power for the sake of power was roundly rejected. Notley won a majority by default and we are all paying for that situation today.

The reason I am going over this is that some people are trying to simplistically claim that it is nothing more than a split on the right that got the NDP into power in Alberta and that simply is not true. If efforts to build an alternative to the Notley government do not take these facts into account, we may indeed really be working towards putting the Notley NDP back into power for another term.

We hear columnists calling for uniting the right.

We have a MPs calling for uniting the right.

We have Brian Jean calling to unite the right.

We have an American style PAC gathering notable names and raising money to unite the right.

We have basement meetings chaired by former MLAs calling for uniting the right.

Despite all of these calls to unite the right, nobody has defined what this united right is supposed to look like or how it will be formed. Are talking about a merger of the Wildrose and the PC parties? Are we talking about forming yet another whole new party? Are we talking about rebranding the Wildrose?

All of the above are considerations but it is going to take some time and a lot of deliberation to determine what course is best. Rushing into things with so many questions hanging could lead to further splintering and alienating the electorate even more.

I don’t have solid answers but I can certainly see some things that are sure to fail.

For some sort of alternative to succeed it has to be created totally in the open!

Among the many things that repelled the electorate last year, the backroom negotiations and nature of the moves by Prentice and Smith were paramount. Nobody likes secret, self-serving deals and if the public gets even a whiff of such activities in any new efforts they will head for the door in droves. It is this issue that makes me hope that the new PAC starts becoming much more transparent in its funding sources and its goals or it may be quite counterproductive,. On the surface right now it looks like many of the same old players trying to recreate the PC party simply for the sake of getting back into power again. This may indeed not be the case at all but perception in politics is indeed reality and the perception had best be improving soon.

I attended an informal gathering of conservative minded folks hosted by Wildrose MLA Derek Fildebrandt and PC MLA Mike Ellis last December. While nothing solid came from the meeting, I think it was very productive in that it got many stubborn partisans into the same room with the goal of examining where they have common ground. The complete transparency and informal nature of the gathering was of great appeal. It let us put our hackles down with no hard agenda and let many of us realize that we are closer together on things than we may think. While these sorts of gatherings don’t produce immediate, solid results, they help build the foundation we need. I hope that we see more of them. Again, patience is required here.

We need principles that run deeper than simply gaining power and raising money!

The Wildrose Party is celebrating record fundraising numbers and they should. Strong fundraising indicates a good grassroots support base. That being said, we saw rather clearly in the last election that spending alone does not win seats. The electorate doesn’t give two shits about which party or candidate raised or spent more money. They want to vote for somebody who shares common principles with them.

If the move towards an alternative can only define itself as existing for the sake of gaining power, we can rest assured that the movement will be rejected as well. The PC party in it’s last few years in government truly demonstrated that retaining power at all costs was it’s only mandate and Albertans got more than tired with that. We need something more.

We have to define just what the heck the “right” even is.

What is right? Is it just fiscal conservatism? Is it social conservatism? How much mix? While the Wildrose was being labelled as being anti-gay due to the odious “lake of fire” ravings of one of it’s former candidates, the PC Party infuriated the province with the pushing of Bill 10. So which of the parties is socially conservative and how?

PC MLA Sandra Jansen is demonstrating a social leftism which puts her on par with the NDP despite her flogging of Bill 10 only a little more than a year ago. This sort of demonstration of floating personal principles demonstrates exactly the kind of self-serving opportunism that we are all sick and tired of. Jathensen will clearly support anything if she thinks it will keep her seat. Is she right wing? Is she left wing? Does it matter? If parties somehow merged, would she really be able to share a caucus with Rick Strankman for example?

I don’t think we should see MLAs and candidates lining up and declaring themselves to be right or left and not budging based on ideological standing. If we are going to keep harping on “unite the right” though we had better settle on just what the “right” is.

The last PC budget was decidedly left wing while their social policies in the end were right wing.

I am socially very left and fiscally very right. I wont claim that Alberta has a libertarian majority but it is a significant element among voters. How will a united “right” capture that element of the electorate?

I am looking forward to seeing an alternative formed and growing to the Notley government whether it is something new or an evolution of one of the existing parties. We need to act carefully though and resist the temptation to rush here. As can be seen in the initial stats in this posting, the NDP is far from being the natural governing party of Alberta. An alternative to Notley does not need to be perfect in order to replace her government. The bar is rather low when looking at traditional NDP support in Alberta as a matter of fact.

Let’s take our time and give the NDP more rope. They will take care of much for us. We cant sit on our hands for the next 3-4 years but we don’t need to hatch a “united right” in the next few months either.

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How to remove the Notley NDP from power in Alberta!

parties

My last two postings have been dedicated to exposing Crazy George Clark’s “kudetah” movement for being the impossible dream that it is. No matter how much Clark and some of his supporters want to rail and rave about petitioning or going to the Queen with some misguided, perceived loophole in the elections act, they simply will not be unseating the legitimately and democratically elected NDP government led by Notley.

People are fearful and frustrated with the highly ideological government that Alberta accidentally elected thanks to a collective revulsion to the two right of center parties that Danielle Smith and Jim Prentice created with their gross opportunism. That has led them to seek unconventional ways to change the government and kooks like George Clark are more than happy to lead them down the garden path.

When confronted with the reality that our government will not be unseated by a petition, some of Clark’s supporters often indignantly ask “Well what are we supposed to do? Just sit around and wait for 3.5 more years??”

The answer to that is yes and no. Yes, we will have to wait 3.5 to 4.5 more years to unseat Notley. No, you do not have to nor should you just sit around and wait. In fact, if you do nothing but sit around, Notley will likely win another term.

The way to remove the Notley government from power is pretty straightforward. Notley has to lose the next election. Nothing less.

Our political system is a partisan one. Elections are not always won with the best ideas (though I wish it were so). Elections are won by parties that present those ideas in the most palatable way to the largest segment of the voting electorate. Like it or not, this means that we have to work within the partisan system. That means joining and supporting a party whether financially or with personal effort or both.

The vast majority of Albertans do not belong to political parties. That means that a tiny minority controls these parties one of which will always form government. There is nothing unfair or wrong about this. It simply means that people need to quit abdicating their role in a participatory democracy and start actually participating, even between elections.

I don’t expect a majority of Albertans to ever join political parties or participate in them. I do hope that more people do though as it really is critical to all of our well being.

One huge hurdle that people encounter when considering participating in partisan politics is simply wondering where to begin and what is involved. There really are no simple guides to getting involved or what obligations and tasks would be expected.

I joined my first political party right at the beginning of the 90s as a young, long haired guy who bought a membership from a guy named Preston Manning who was standing in a small booth at the exhibition of the Calgary Stampede promoting the Reform Party. I was thrilled with this little card that arrived in the mail but hadn’t a clue what it meant or what I could do with it. Over years attending local meetings and volunteering in campaigns I learned a great deal and have never been without one party membership or another in my wallet. I like most others went into partisan membership blindly though.

I am going to write on some of the basics of party membership in Alberta. This will be dull to those who are already familiar with party politics (and maybe dull to those who aren’t), but I would like to get a basic guide and resource out there on the interwebs for folks who may be considering getting involved with a party. This will be the closest I come to being non-biased on here.

Choose a party

This is likely the toughest step of them all. Every party of note will have a detailed web site and contact information. No party of note will hesitate to answer all of your questions quickly as they all want to grow their active membership.

Every registered party in Alberta can be found at the Elections Alberta website.

The parties vary very widely in ideology. Careful research is required but as mentioned earlier, their web presence makes it easy to get a general idea of what they stand for.

Buy a membership

How much or how little a person wants to participate in a party is totally up to the individual of course. The first step in participation is being a member.

Every party has a membership system. The cost of a membership can vary from $5 per year to $40 that I saw with one small party once. I think $10 per year is pretty much the standard these days. Most parties provide online membership sales or at least an address where a cheque could be mailed and a membership purchased.

The entitlements that come with membership vary party by party. In some parties, the leader is chosen in a one member, one vote system. That means you could vote in the next leadership election. Other parties use delegation systems but your membership will allow you to influence the delegates sent to a leaders convention through participating in local meetings. Other party members will happily explain to new members how it works. Every party has a constitution or set of bylaws that governs their operation. In those documents one can find out their limits and powers as an individual member as well.

One of the most important things that comes with a membership is the ability to participate in the selection of your local nominee for the next election. In most parties, a nomination race is held and local members can vote to select who will represent them in the next election. This is a very direct and local way to influence your local representation. Nomination races have been abused by parties and sometimes candidates are appointed by parties for reasons of either political expediency or a lack of a local organization.

Get involved with your local constituency association

In our system, constituency associations are semi-independent, organizational units that are essentially the hub for local election preparation. The associations are guided by their own bylaws which are typically set by the central party. The size and organization of constituency associations can vary from literally nothing to managing thousands of members with dozens of local directors. Larger parties will have contact information for each constituency. Smaller parties may require contacting the central party to find out who your local organizers are if indeed there are any in a formal association.

Assuming a constituency association is active, they will be holding an annual general meeting at some time or another. This is a great time to get involved as the general membership is open to attend and one can see as well as participate in the governance of their association. The first thing one should ask upon joining is when the next meeting is. Many associations hold other events as often as monthly or quarterly that are open to members as well.

A constituency association is often essentially a micro version of the central party organization. There will be a President and a number of other Vice President or directors roles. This depends on the bylaws set out by the party. These roles are usually filled at general meetings and are directly elected by the members of the constituency association. Even the largest parties often have trouble filling these roles and it is often pretty easy to get into a formal role within the association. These are great opportunities to get into the nuts and bolts of the local operation and to get a line on party activities an communications.

The prime role of constituency associations is to prepare to win the local seat for the party. This involves fundraising, local promotion and the selection of a local candidate. The foundation for a campaign team in an election will usually come from the constituency association as well. If one wants to get involved in campaigning (one of the more fun roles in politics), the constituency association is the best place to start learning and perhaps seeking a role in the upcoming campaign.

Depending on the party structure, sometimes only delegates can attend the annual general meeting of the main party. These delegates are usually selected by the constituency board and they will be responsible for representing your constituency when policy is proposed at party general meetings and can vote when the party executive is selected at the general meeting. Some parties allow all members to attend the annual general meeting and allow all to vote on these things.

Constituency associations are usually tasked with finding candidates for the coming election and with managing the nomination race for that role. Nomination races can be some of the most divisive and haywire activities within a party. Emotions can run high and factions can break out that can harm the constituency locally or even the party as a whole. When I served terms on the provincial executive with my provincial party, nothing gave me more grey hairs than the efforts to put out fires lit by rough and tumble nomination meetings. I can think of a few provincial constituency associations that are still a mess today due to ugly nomination meetings over six years ago. As with most things though, the more the merrier. If constituency associations have a lot of dedicated, rational and working members, the nomination meetings can be kept civil. It takes a lot of work.

Central party involvement

The degree of involvement with the central party that an individual can have depends on the constitution and bylaws of the party. The party operations are governed by the provincial executive. Caucus is usually somewhat independent of party governance (or should be) but should be guided by the general principles and policies of the party. The leader’s office is often something of an entity in itself as well.

The party executive is made up of a President, a Treasurer, a Secretary and then a number of other director/Vice President roles depending on the party constitution. In some parties these roles are directly elected by the members at an annual general meeting while others select their executive committee through a delegate system. Some parties will allow any member in good standing to run for an executive position while others have a different process to get nominated for those positions. It will take consultation with your local representative and reading the party constitution in order to learn the process.

The party executive oversees the constituency associations and manages the general operations of the party. Fundraising, communications and management of the membership of the party falls under the role of the executive. Setting up for an annual general meeting and the management of the policy proposals comes through the party executive as well. If one aspires to get directly involved with party management, getting a role on the provincial executive is the way to go. It is thankless and often frustrating but those roles are critical and can be exciting at times.

The roles one can take on within a party are myriad and the dedication of time and resources that an individual can put in is nearly infinite. While having a larger active membership can make party management and movement cumbersome and complex at times, it remains a better way to help ensure good policy and governance from that party.

If a person wants to make an impact in the next provincial election beyond casting a vote, joining and participating in a party is the best route to doing that. I know there are independent candidates and other types of groups that work to influence the electorate and they certainly serve a role too. Reality dictates that only organized parties will take power in an election and becoming a member in one of those parties is the important first step in having an influence on them.

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