Separation? Not until Alberta cleans up its own backyard.

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

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

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

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

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

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

We have a provincial NDP government people! 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is the text from the letter below:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I sure hope that the polls hold true.

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The suit goes on.

While Druh Farrell may fancy herself as the Queen of Kensington, her royal status held little weight today in court. The judge appears not to have cared if the timing of the legal action is of inconvenience to Druh’s election campaign.

Farrell moved to have the suits filed against her dropped today. While the suits were combined from two into a single suit today, the legal action against Farrell continues.

The press release from representatives of the Terrigno family can be found here. 

Farrell clearly tends to feel insecure about her ability to get re-elected as it appears that this is not the first time she has tried to sway the timing of events away from election periods.

In the evidence presented against Farrell, there is a sworn statement from her associate Jeremy Sturgess where it appears that Farrell was trying to influence the timing of the Terrigno’s land redesignation application in order to avoid the application becoming an election issue as can be seen below.

Original scan of the document can be found here

Nothing more inconvenient to face during an election campaign than having to answer questions about development proposals in your ward I guess.

Today the Terrigno family saw a small victory as the effort by Farrell to have the lawsuit tossed out was quashed.

It will be interesting to see what the final ruling on this suit will be. The evidence does appear quite compelling.

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This is what defamation looks like.

Defamation — also calumny, vilification, and traducement — is the communication of a false statement that harms the reputation of an individual person, business, product, group, government, religion, or nation.[1]

Under common law, to constitute defamation, a claim must generally be false and must have been made to someone other than the person defamed

To cover my own butt, what I am writing on is still in the stages of being alleged and has yet to be proven in court.

Sworn affidavits from people close to the defendant are some pretty strong evidence though.

I wrote recently on how Druh Farrell refused to recuse herself from an issue regarding a development proposed by the Terrigno family in which it appeared that she had pecuniary interest.

There are a number of questionable actions that apparently have been done by Councilor Farrell which have led to the lawsuit against her launched by the Terrigno family.

A large part of the defamation element of the suit revolves around Farrell apparently claiming that Mike Terrigno was a member of the mafia.

While this allegation sounds sort of comical at a glance, it is very serious when it is coming from an elected official and is directed at a business family. There are few things more damaging to the reputation of a business than being seen as being criminal.

If a person is ever going to state that another person is a criminal, they had better damn well be able to prove it or there will be and there should be legal consequences. It is a gross assault on a person’s character that simply can’t be ignored.

Naheed Nenshi certainly figured this out when he found himself sued for calling a local business man and philanthropist a “Godfather” like figure. That statement alone led to Nenshi having to settle with issuing a groveling apology, retraction and eating nearly $300,000 in legal fees (which he dumped on the taxpayers for a time).

If the statements in the affidavit sworn by Jeremy Sturgess are true, Druh Farrell went well beyond Nenshi’s vague statements with Wenzel and outright stated that Mike Terrigno is “the mafia”.

Like Nenshi, Druh Farrell has an unusually close relationship with her preferred architects.Jeremy Sturgess appears to be something of a favorite for Druh. Jeremy Sturgess has a number of ties to this lawsuit but I am sticking to the defamation aspect for now.

The sworn statement of a close associate of Councilor Farrell on this issue is quite compelling. It is not like Sturgess is a friend of the Terrigno family by any means. He is just giving a sworn and likely honest statement on what he remembers Druh Farrell having said to him about Mike Terrigno.

Below, Sturgess speaks to how long he has had a professional relationship with Farrell along with a reiteration on her apparent mafia allegations about Terrigno.

The document in its entirety can be found here

Seriously, just who do these elected officials think they are?

Do people like Nenshi and Farrell even think twice about how their statements can impact innocent business people? It appears not. It does appear that the courts are taking on the task of instilling the decency and common sense into these members of city hall that they somehow are personally lacking.

If Druh Farrell was telling Sturgess that Terrigno was mafia, who else has she been telling this to? How far has this rumor spread? How much damage has it and will it do to their family business?

Elected officials are entrusted by the public on a number of levels. City councilors hold a higher degree of public profile than your average citizen. This makes it more incumbent upon them to be careful with what they say about others as their words can have a very serious impact on them.

Farrell has dumped her legal fees upon the taxpayers without hesitation as she hunkers down with this lawsuit. Hardly tax funds well spent.

It is indeed election season. I think it is pretty clear that Ward 7 desperately needs new and responsible representation. Farrell has developed far too much entrenched entitlement to properly serve her constituents and the legal fees she is wracking up are simply far too expensive.

Lets hope the usually sleepy civic electorate gets up and votes Druh Farrell out of office next month. Taxpayers deserve it.

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Do party policies matter? Yes and no.

We are in a pretty unusual political time in Alberta as the leadership race for the United Conservative Party leadership race develops. We have a brand new spanking entity that is well poised to form the next government of Alberta, yet they do not yet have a single official policy or principle.

A large poll has indicated the vast majority of Albertans would still choose this new party that has no leader and no policies over the Notley NDP if an election were held today. This of course has sent the NDP into abject terror and desperation as they try their hardest to attack the character of the interim leader of the party and even their nascent board of directors in trying to paint them as extreme on the most slim of evidence.

An odd outcome of having no policies has meant that the NDP has no simple target to fire at with the new party that has surpassed them in provincial popularity. The party can’t use a lack of policies to their advantage forever of course. Eventually an AGM will be held where members can choose their official policy and principle set. Until then though, it appears that Albertans are already pretty happy with where they sit politically.

The lack of policies has put the leadership contenders into awkward positions as well. True grassroots conservative principles generally tend to support having member driven policy rather than a top down method where policy is imposed by the leadership. Leadership contenders have the tricky balancing act of trying to define themselves with policy while not crossing the line and stepping on member’s jurisdiction. It is members, not hysteric, indignant NDP supporters on social media who will be choosing the next leader and candidates would be well served to remember that.

Jason Kenney has taken an odd strategy in refusing to take specific policy stances and insisting that he will wait until members define those policies. Doug Schweitzer has taken some very specific economic policy stands and Brian Jean is sort of sitting between the two. Time will tell which approach may be the most successful.

Getting back to the subject at hand, just how important are member driven policies? As a person who served on the provincial executive as VP of Policy with the Wildrose Party for multiple terms I have to admit that they are not nearly as important as we like to think they are.

It is critical that members drive the policy engine in general. Members need not only to feel that their input matters in party direction, they need to see it. In having members build, debate upon and select policies the party can ensure that its actions reflect the majority of the membership.

All the above being said, the leadership of the party and the caucus are not bound by the party membership in any way nor should they be.

There is an ironic contradiction in the principle of conservative member driven policy. Grassroots style ideology always stands in strong support of free voting by MLAs in the legislature. At the same time, many feel that MLAs must act in accordance with the member driven policies. What happens if an MLAs constituents want the member to vote in the legislature in a way that contradicts the policies of the membership? The leader can’t or shouldn’t whip the member to vote one way or the other. That contradicts the principle of free votes as well.

What happens if a piece of legislation hits the floor of the legislature where there is no party policy to guide the reaction of the MLAs and leadership? What happens if issues hit the news that demand that the party take a stance but again there is no specific policy on the books to deal with it?

The party and it’s caucus can’t sit handcuffed on issues while awaiting member input on every issue. This is where leadership takes place and a stance is taken. This may happen with membership consultation, or with caucus consultation or perhaps with none if time does not present itself.

Here is something that members don’t want to hear but its true. Sometimes the membership despite their best intentions simply comes up with some really shitty policies that simply will never be broadly accepted by the electorate. This is a risk with member driven policy as people with specific agendas can at times be very well spoken and very well organized in getting a policy through. Remember, one doesn’t need to sway the entire membership in order to get a policy through. A person needs only to convince the majority of the members attending an AGM and if it is getting near coffee break time, the members will often vote to accept damn near anything in order to get a break from what can be tedious policy discussions.

So what is the point of member driven policies if the party won’t always act upon them?

Policies need to be viewed from something of a higher level. The policies and principles as a whole reflect the direction and flavor of the party and while they will never cover every possible event or instance, they will give a good indication of where the party will move on those issues when they arise. The members truly are the boss and the policy set will draw people to seek nominations who share those sorts of principles. The policy set will always be there to remind the leadership just where the members want to go even if they cant follow it to the letter.

Policy development can be a minefield. It is very unlikely that any specific policy that comes from members will win an election but it is very damned possible that a stinker of a policy could lose an election. Members have to balance ideals with realism when choosing policies and that is a difficult task for any of us.

Hopefully the maiden set of UCP policies is concise yet broad. Prescriptive little policies that try to address every issue on the planet serve little purpose and only add to policy bloat. It is usually easier to add policies than it is to get rid of them and having an encyclopedia of policies only gives opponents ammunition to shoot at you with while leaving you crippled in your potential responses.

The Wildrose Party always kept their policies front and center while it was a long running joke about whether a policy book for the Progressive Conservative Party even existed as they always kept it so well hidden. With the marriage of these two groups lets hope we find a happy medium.

Policies are important but we cant let the specifics become a hill to die on. Albertans are already ready to accept the UCP even without specific policies. We need to fill that void but to remember that broad principles will do the trick. We cant ignore policies nor can we put too much emphasis on them. We will only get one kick at the cat with our founding meeting.

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Its time to get this merger done.

There are a myriad of factors that contributed to Alberta’s disastrous, accidental election of the Notley NDP. In looking at the numbers, it is clear that a split vote among right of center supporters was a huge part of the cause for the NDP victory. Wildrose supporters felt that the PC party had drifted to far to the left and were displaying a sense of entitlement that they simply could no longer vote for. PC supporters saw the Wildrose Party as an upstart that could be too far to the right and were not ready to take a chance on them. The whole repugnant business of Danielle Smith’s opportunistic and treacherous mass floor crossing to Prentice revolted voters within both parties.

Now having enjoyed a couple years under the Notley Regime, most Albertans are realizing just how much the cure was worse than the disease. Business confidence in Alberta is in utter shambles while deficits are hitting record numbers which will create a debt that will take generations to pay off. There is no doubt that the only way to ensure that the NDP do not gain a second term in office in Alberta is to create a single, unified conservative option in Alberta.

There are some stalwarts within the Wildrose Party who are opposing a merger for a number of reasons. None of them are good and I will list them.

Emotional

People invest a lot of time, money and energy into parties, particularly when they are in the building stage. I was involved with the party from when it was a one seat entity with Paul Hinman sitting in a lonely corner of the legislature. I traveled the province to often sparsely attended town hall meetings to try and build constituency associations. I sat up late at night with Jane in the office space we donated as we folded flyers for weekend drops to try and build our urban membership. I sifted through literally hundreds and hundreds of policy submissions that ranged from brilliant to insane while I sat as VP of Policy for the party and took the flak that came with filtering those into a palatable package to present to the membership at AGMs.

All of those events and efforts developed a sense of attachment or even a sense of ownership (wrongly) to the party. Wrong or not, these feelings are real and can lead to a bias against any form of significant change.

We need to set that attachment aside and look at the bigger picture. A party is nothing more than a construct, an entity. If the name changes and the layout changes it is not the end, it is an evolution. The experiences and memories remain and there will be a new entity to continue to work within which can be just as satisfying as the prior one was.

Nostalgia simply isn’t a good enough reason to hold off on this essential merger

SOCIAL

A large but often unseen benefit of political involvement is the social aspect. As we endure partisan challenges together whether through small functions or general elections, we develop friendships and relationships with each other. The part I looked forward to at AGMs was not so much the drudgery of policy development and campaign seminars as it was in getting to meet up with fellow members in a social environment. The hospitality suites are notorious but always fun.

Let’s face it, when the parties merge some people won’t migrate to the new entity and the connections will be lost. That is unfortunate but again, is not enough of a reason to oppose a merger.

Many of our current friends will join and become involved in the new party. Lets look at things with optimism. There will be a whole new pool of people to meet and honestly, they aren’t all that bad at all. In attending the PC leadership convention, I quite enjoyed myself despite hardly knowing a fraction of the number of people that I would at a Wildrose event. We really aren’t all that far apart.

THE PCs ARE STILL TOO CORRUPT/LEFT WING/ENTITLED etc.

There was a reason that the Wildrose developed and became as strong as it did. The PC party under Stelmach was bumbling and high spending. Under Redford the party was entitled and borderline corrupted. Under Prentice the arrogance was tough to bear. Throughout all of that the party was peppered with opportunistic liberals who never would be elected if they ran under the party banner where they belonged.

We worked hard to build an alternative to that Progressive Conservative mess. Why the hell should we fold back into that mire of political ugliness?

Well, to be blunt the best thing that could have happened to the PC party was the electoral devastation that they earned in 2015 (though at a terribly high price). The party had been in power for an obscene and politically unhealthy number of years. They desperately needed a humbling and a flushing and they got it.

The opportunists were the first to drop off. Sandra Jansen fled to a government seat as soon as she could. She would have joined the Social Credit Party if they had won. Others such as Hancock and Lukaszuk are fading into the background as they no longer have seats.

The liberal elements of the party from the executive are now fleeing to the Alberta Party in hopes of keeping influence while still dodging the liberal name that describes them.

The principled and conservative elements of the PC party still remain. The party always had many good people involved in it and now with the flushing of the bad elements, the party looks better than ever.

For those who think things will go too far left, may I suggest joining Randy Thorsteinson’s Reform Party. There you can unabashedly oppose things such as gay marriage and abortion while languishing in the 2% support numbers.

I know those issues are important to some people but they are electoral death and it is utterly pointless to pursue them in any party that realistically aspires to forming government.

BEING A BIG FISH IN A SMALL POND

Some folks actually prefer the party being small. They like being able to be elected into positions such as constituency president without having to deal with much if any competition for the role. They like small meetings where they can dominate and take the agenda where they like. If a merger happens, a new influx of people will be involved and some folks wont retain those constituency roles that they feel entitled too.

This is small thinking but it is all too common. Again, both parties will be better off if those people fall by the wayside. They hold up real growth and hinder the involvement of new and younger supporters.

We have to look beyond our own little bubbles and either get on board or get the hell out of the way.

GATE KEEPING FOR NOMINATIONS

Some people with both parties have put in a long time and a lot of effort to build a framework to ensure that they win the nomination in the constituency. This often is tied into that small fish in a big pond bunch as well.

I know it must feel frustrating to have put in that time and work only to find out that your aspiration for a nomination may be overwhelmed by an influx of new, ambitious folks after a party merger.

Well, suck it up. It is critical that nomination processes remain competitive. While not a guarantee, it does help ensure that the better campaigner wins the spot to represent the party in the general election. I had my ass handed to me in a nomination race a few years back. It sucked and I was bummed but the better campaigner won. If I couldn’t beat my competitor in a small local nomination race, how could I claim to be a better option to take on experienced campaigners in a general election?

One doesn’t need to give up electoral aspirations if the parties merge. It just means you may have to work a little harder. To oppose the merger in hopes of securing a personal nomination is simply small and selfish thinking.

We need to get a single entity going. We can then move on to a leadership and then develop some solid policies. No entity will be perfect and one will die of old age waiting for one to come along. The best way to maintain the integrity of a new merged party is to stay involved. Get on the executive. Take part in policy development. Get on a leadership team.

There simply are no solid reasons to oppose this merger.

To take the chance of having two conservative parties going into the election is simply not worth it. Get out and vote on the 22nd and be sure to vote for unity.

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The sad history of liberals in Alberta.

It is hardly a secret that Alberta is not a liberal friendly province. Alberta has been and remains a frontier for the ambitious and independent.  Agriculture drew courageous settlers in the late 1800s. Oil drew more in the early 1900s and high tech energy related jobs still draw people from all over the world today.

To relocate into a new environment and take a gamble on a new life takes courage. To endure and remain until you have established yourself takes dedication. In other words, since the beginning of confederation Alberta has drawn strong, independent minded people who don’t want or need big government to get in their way. To put it another way, Alberta has never really been a strong draw for liberals.

This can be seen quite clearly as the Liberal Party has languished for over a century in Alberta as a party yet cant form government.

In 1905 Alberta joined confederation and Liberal Alexander Rutherford was appointed as our first premier. Rutherford called an election later that year and established himself an elected mandate. Not too difficult to do when no opposition party system had been created or established yet. It took 12 years before Albertans organized and tossed the Liberal Party of Alberta to the electoral roadside for what has now been a century.

Had there not been a Liberal government in Ottawa in 1905, I suspect that we never would have seen a Liberal party in power in Alberta.

While the Liberals have run in 25 general elections since 1917, they have never come close to winning power in Alberta. Laurence Decore came somewhat close in 1993 by running on a platform more conservative than the Progressive Conservatives. The populist wave led by Ralph Klein beat back that effort and today despite burning through half a dozen new leaders the Liberals are as deep in the electoral toilet as ever in Alberta.

What is a dedicated liberal sort of person to do in such a situation?

Any realistic liberal (there are a few out there) knows that they will never form government under the Liberal Party banner so they need to seek other alternatives.

A liberal can doggedly keep trying under the party banner as they pursue another century in opposition.

A liberal can simply give up and go federal.

A liberal can go municipal where party allegiance isn’t always evident. That way they can campaign conservative and then govern as a liberal upon election while depending on electoral apathy in order to maintain their job.

A liberal can sneak into a conservative party and hope to turn it liberal.

To be fair though, Sanda Jansen is more of a simple opportunist than a liberal. Jansen would have been begging to join the Wildrose Party had they won the general election. Jansen only cares about residing in a government seat. The party means nothing to her.

The strategy of infiltrating and controlling the Progressive Conservative Party was a successful one for a time. From the later years of Klein’s leadership to the party’s electoral catastrophe in 2015 it was evident that the party was leaning far more to the “progressive” side and drifting away from the conservative side as liberal style entitlement scandals erupted and deficit budgets became common again.

The liberal transformation of the PCs led to the development of the Wildrose Party as an increasing number of conservatives gave up on the PC party.

Unfortunately, due to the now legendary act of treachery led by Danielle Smith and Jim Prentice, the electorate became so horrified and disgusted by both parties that they accidentally elected the Notley NDP.

Now, while the NDP “cure” is turning out to be worse than the disease, we are at least seeing some good long term outcomes here.

The liberals within the Progressive Conservative Party were by nature opportunists. Many of them jumped ship shortly after the party lost power. They had no interest in serving as an opposition party. Other liberals hung on in hopes of turning the shell of the party into a re-branded Liberal Party. Those hopes were dashed as Jason Kenney engaged conservative grassroots voters and swept into the leadership last spring.

The upside I am looking at is that the liberal element has been very effectively flushed from the PC party making the ability of creating a unified conservative party viable.

Now where do all these homeless liberals go?

Fear not. They have taken a page from the 1937 Liberal playbook when they tried to come into power under the Independent Citizen’s Association. You see, Liberals realized that they couldn’t win under their party banner so they tried to hide under a banner that stood for nothing. They banked on the electorate being so tired of openly partisan politics that they would latch on to a party that claimed to shun partisanship through being a coalition of independents thus non-partisan than ever. This coalition failed dismally and the first stealth Liberal attempt ended after the 1940 election when the coalition fell apart. If a party wont openly stand for something, they simply cant concentrate support.

Undaunted however, disaffected Liberals are confident that they can pull this off through the Alberta Party.

The Alberta Party has been around in a few incarnations since the 1980s.  In 2010 a group of liberals took over the small party and in hopes of creating the stealth liberal party they desired. Ever avoiding a solid policy stance on anything, the Alberta Party held a painfully long process that hey coined “the big listen”. The logic was that if they claimed to be always listening to Albertans that they would somehow gain broad support. In maintaining this party that wasn’t a party approach, the Alberta Party took the province by storm in the 2012 general election with a solid 1.33% of the vote.

Undaunted, they carried on. They replaced the term listen with “center”. They follow a simplistic belief that the majority of people are in this mushy world of being in the center and that they surly will engage this giant yet sleeping majority and get a firm center (liberal) government in Alberta. Fiercely battling in the 2015 general election the Alberta Party garnered a staggering 2.28% of the vote. Apparently the center was sleeping that day.

Interestingly though, some experienced liberal operatives will be moving into the Alberta Party this time now that they have lost their Progressive Conservative home. A few champagne socialists will likely pony up some contributions to the next campaign as well.

Will the rallying cry of “centrists!” lead to the first Liberal government in Alberta in over 100 years? I sincerely doubt it.

All the same, it is nothing if not interesting to see a tenacious group of people working generation after generation to sell a product that simply does not appeal to the majority and through so many ways.

We are in quite a period of political flux in Alberta right now to say the least. It will be interesting to see where all the chips land in the next couple years and where liberals will go after the Alberta Party loses another general election through running on nothing.

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Its my party & I’ll cry if I want to!

m-crying

As Jason Kenney’s leadership continues to steam along and win majorities in delegate selection meetings, the entitled old guard of the party are becoming increasingly upset.

When I saw this posting from a longtime Progressive Conservative Party member on Facebook, I really had to read it twice to ensure I was getting it right.

The depth petulant elitism in this posting was astounding. In one short Facebook ramble, this person managed to demonstrate exactly why the partisan foundation of the conservative movement in Alberta needs to be revisited and fixed.

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I will break it down.

It’s been really bothering me that every single Albertan thinks they get to have a say in this race.

Wow. Just wow. The PC Party led Alberta for 44 years and they aspire to do so again. You are damned right every Albertan wants to have a say in this race. It really says something when we see folks being bothered by the idea that Albertans at large are interested in the management of their province.

Firstly, the Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta at this level, the constituency association level, the membership level, is in fact a private party.

Um, yes it is a private party. Hate to break it to you but it is a private party that is open for all Albertans to participate in. Time to drop a little entitlement and get over that.

Each and every one of us that belongs to that private entity has purchased a membership and tries to support that association in someway either by funding, sitting on a board or volunteering.

Glad you understand that. What you don’t seem to get is that anybody may buy a membership and become just as much a member as you are and will all the same rights and privileges. Open processes are disturbing indeed.

Here are the requirements for membership. Its not a terribly exclusive club though some members such as the one who I am quoting seem to think that it is.

Membership in PC Alberta is open to residents of Alberta of at least 14 years of age. Members between the ages of 14 to 26 are also eligible to become a Progressive Conservative Youth of Alberta (PCYA) member. Upon reaching their 26th birthday, they will become regular members of PC Alberta.

Along with $10, that’s it that’s all. Yes, all Albertans may speak in this race and thousands are choosing to.

The vapid “private club” analogy falls apart on many levels but the main part is that there are essentially no barriers to membership.

Which, is I would not of allowed Jason Kenney to run it all.

Well, we can be all glad that your undemocratic view didn’t win the day.

I know it pains you to think that leadership candidates should simply be banned rather than take the chances that the unwashed members at large may select one that you don’t approve of. Too fucking bad already. Spend less time whining and more time campaigning for another candidate. Your DSM vote is worth just as much as any other member (though that clearly disturbs you).

The PCAA voted overwhelmingly to rebuild last May.

Sometimes an engine needs to be torn down before you can rebuild it. The members are getting a choice on how to deal with the means in this leadership race. Again, that pesky democratic thing.

it is my clear opinion that he should form his own party and ask people to join him there.

Glad you agree with Kenney’s plan here. Jason has to win the PC leadership first however and he is well on his way.

This is then what many of us refer to as a hostile take over.

Glad to see a vacuous posting finish with a vacuous sentence.

It is not a hostile takeover when the membership is open to all and the members get to choose. It is something of a dictatorship when members are not allowed to select leaders in such a process.

In a rather disjointed way, this entitled PC member demonstrated exactly the kind of elitist rot that has dominate the PC Party for years. Horrified at the prospect of losing in a democratic process, this person lashed out and declared the PC Party to be some sort of little personal social club in which new members and ideas must be kept at bay.

Arrogant elitism is being rejected around the world. Unwashed voters are kicking out the entitled whether in Brexit, the US election or in Alberta’s last provincial election (unfortunately our cure was as bad as our disease).

Maybe it’s time for some who want to form a little closed club to wander away and do so. They have every right to do such a thing.

I look forward to seeing this elite club present its vision to the general electorate to see how well it is accepted.

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Let’s try to play nice folks.

Over the years I have taken on many thankless and stressful tasks due to my political inclinations. I served multiple terms on the Wildrose provincial executive, often as VP policy. I volunteered on and managed long shot campaigns. I ran as cannon fodder for the Wildrose party against David Swann in Mountainview in 2012.

No political role I ever took on was more miserable, stressful and thankless than being on the committee to manage a party leadership race.

reddeer

Leadership races are among the roughest and most personal of contests in all of politics. It is an internal family battle that has potential to completely revitalize a party or to cause near permanent rifts and damage. Some of the dirtiest tricks are often used and I suspect that it is because parties are often not inclined to go public with warnings or disciplinary actions taken against candidates and teams for fear of causing damage to the institution as a whole.

In the Wildrose leadership race that led to Danielle Smith’s election as party leader, the complaints of party bias and complaints between campaign teams began even before the race was officially called. My phone virtually never stopped ringing with one team or another bitching about some petty offence (perceived or real) committed by the other side throughout the entire, interminable race.

I was selected to moderate all of the leadership debates in that race as one of the teams was convinced that the rest of the leadership committee was biased against their candidate. Ironically, that same team accused my wife and I of somehow rigging the race after they lost.

Speaking of Jane (my wife), she was the chair of the 2015 Wildrose Party leadership race that elected Brian Jean. Jane’s experience was similar to the joys endured in the 2009 race and she was again accused by some of rigging the race though nobody could ever explain exactly how she managed to do it.

No set of rules will be able to address every possible event in a race. During one of the leadership debates in Calgary, one of the teams put large campaign signs out on the roads approaching the hotel where the debate was being held. Another team set up a table selling memberships and handing out literature outside of the door to the convention room. Both teams came howling to me upon discovering the actions of the others and I was forced to tell both to fuck off, get over it and get ready for the debate (though I was a little more diplomatic about it. Not much, but a little). We didn’t have rules set up to govern placement of tables or signs outside of debates thus these terrible and egregious actions went unchecked.

That is the experience of one event on one night in a leadership race. Countless other infractions came and went throughout the course of the campaign.

Some campaigners view rules as something that have to be tested. They spend so damn much time pushing just to see how far those boundaries go and then howl when their hands inevitably get slapped. Usually the rules that were pushed have little to no impact on the outcome of the race and the time would have been immeasurably better spent on selling memberships and organizing GOTV efforts yet teams just seem obsessed at times in pursuing the most minor and petty of possible advantages.

Committees do not want to crack down on campaign teams. The accusations of bias come automatically and can turn into horror story if the committee eventually has to intervene on a campaign. In 2009 while both teams kept pushing the rules to the point where I wanted to have them all brought on a stage and spanked to keep them in order, one team in particular insisted on violating the rules despite multiple warnings. That team finally committed violations that probably should have landed them an outright disqualification but we settled for every possible sanction short of that in order to finish out the race. We had to look at the perceptions and disqualifying a candidate would simply have led to too much speculation of the race being unfair or fixed.

I have no role in the PC party in the current race but I suspect that their committee is trying to be fair and that they are enjoying the same pressures and stresses that I did in past races.

It is hardly a secret that I am supporting Jason Kenney in his bid to lead the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta. I want to see his team continue to clean up at those delegate selection meetings and I expect that they will if they keep themselves from being sidetracked by pushing the rules.

In the latest PC controversy, the Kenney team was brought to task for Kenney having been too close to a delegate selection meeting. Personally I think the punishment was too harsh for an infraction that likely didn’t impact the outcome of the meeting in any way but I also feel that the infraction was easily avoidable.

Yes, the word “near” in itself is ambiguous and yes the committee should have clarified exactly what that meant after having been asked to do so multiple times by the Kenney campaign. I suspect that the spirit of the rule essentially means being at least out of sight as members come in to vote in order to avoid any impression of voter intimidation by any candidates. There was little reason to put the exact distance to the test.

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Jason Kenney has been running a fantastic campaign so far. He has been organizing around the entire province continues to work like a man possessed to reach out to as many Albertans as possible to build support for his unity platform. He can and I expect will win the race overwhelmingly by staying on the simple strategy of working hard and staying on message. There is no sense getting mired in the small issues that can come up.

There is little doubt that the PC party executive is hostile to Kenney. Members of the committee likely are less than endeared with him either. Kenney has been leading the race despite the hindrances put into place by the party executive before it started. There is little reason to antagonize them further and potentially give them any excuses to handicap his campaign any further.

If and when Jason Kenney wins the leadership of the PC party, we can be sure that there will be plenty of sour grapes and tantrums as the old guard pouts off into the sunset. We can also rest assured that some will try to claim that the only reason Kenney won was due to infractions of the rules. There is little sense to add any credence to what will be petulant claims after the race.

We have a long few months remaining in this campaign. I look forward to watching Jason Kenney and his time winning each and every delegate selection meeting through hard work, good organization and inspiring the membership just as he has in the last few DSMs that have been held at the time of this writing.

Let’s not get distracted with the small stuff and testing the extent of the rules. It doesn’t need to be done and will only make the assumption of the leadership that much tougher when the time comes.

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The Progressive Conservative establishment selected their candidate

janse

Now that the remnants of the Progressive Conservative Party old guard have finished trying to rig their leadership race rules as tightly as possible in favor of the party status-quo (which is moribund and indebted), they have now settled on their preferred candidate.
For those who want to turn the clock back and return to the Progressive Conservative Party that held no solid principles and governed simply based on the rationale of retaining power, Sandra Jansen is the clear candidate of choice.
Through her own actions over the years, Sandra has exemplified the shallow, self-serving, opportunism that the Progressive Conservative Party had come to represent after holding power for over four decades in Alberta.
Jansen never held or shared any conservative principles with the party of her choice. Jansen is and was a Liberal through and through as she demonstrated many times over the years. Sandra was canny enough to realize that if she aspired to rise above an opposition seat in Alberta and gain a cabinet position or even the Premiership, she would have to pretend to be a conservative and gain her seat through the party that appeared to her as being an unbeatable juggernaut (at that time).

liberal liberal2
Jansen happily jumped on board with Alison Redford as Redford sold her party’s political soul to unions in order to win the party leadership (Redford later betrayed those union supporters too of course). As a loyal Redford supporter, Jansen was rewarded with a minor associate minister’s portfolio.


Even in an obscure ministerial role, Jansen could not help but let her Liberal elitism leak out as she embarrassed herself by berating electricians as being too low of form of trade to maintain political roles.
Jansen quickly scurried into hiding and let the party take care of damage control due to Sandra’s rather embittered outlook on tradespeople was exposed.

electrician
As Redford fell into disgrace, Jansen wisely kept a low profile and waited to see who the next leader to latch on to would be. That person of course was Jim Prentice. In hopes of climbing the cabinet ladder, Sandra Jansen happily sponsored what would turn out to be a disaster in the first incarnation of Bill 10.
Despite claiming to be a champion for LGTBQ kids, Sandra Jansen sponsored a bill that would force those kids to appear before a judge in court in order to form support clubs in schools if the school or board refused them. As the backlash over Sandra Jansen’s bill grew, things got more absurd as the PCs of the time said that LGTBQ kids no longer would have to appear before a judge in order to form clubs, they would simply have to get an order from the Education Minister. It was also implied that these kids could simply form clubs down the street and away from school property if need be. Gee how progressive Sandra. Would they get off property washrooms and fountains too if there were more concerns?

Sandra Jansen’s version of Bill 10 was a complete catastrophe that offended most of the province. Prentice was forced to intervene and pull the bill off the table in order to try and rework it into something palatable in the spring.
Below we can see Jansen meekly standing aside as Prentice takes over and works to clean up her mess.

jansenprent
Jansen has since claimed that her sponsorship of the bill was a terrible mistake. Hindsight helps that way. In reality, we all know that if the bill had passed in the legislature in it’s first incarnation and had Prentice not disastrously lost the general election that Sandra Jansen would happily be sitting in a cabinet seat in the Prentice government today doing what she is told and aspiring to his role in government.
A strongly principled person would never have sponsored legislation that goes against their personal principles. A person who puts ambition above principle however will do so without hesitation as we saw Jansen do.

If Sandra Jansen had what it takes to be a leader, she would have passed on sponsoring that bill or even spoke against it. Some in the PC caucus of the time did so. What other principles will Sandra Jansen set aside if she feels they will hinder her personal political path? Only time will tell.
The Progressive Conservative Party took what should have been a terribly humbling loss in the last general election. Their complacence and arrogant practices led to Alberta accidentally electing an NDP government. Despite this, the remaining old guard within the party feel that the best course of action is to bring in another leader that is weak in principles and carries the baggage of the last two leaders who left in disgrace.
The PC party has an opportunity to look ahead and re-brand with a new approach or they can elect a retread of Alison Redford who is a little less bright.

redbean

We will find out in the next few months.

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