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.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,

George Clark is discrediting rational opposition to government in Alberta

Notley’s Bill 6 was a disastrous fiasco that was dumped on Alberta’s agricultural producers with little to no consultation with stakeholders and even less respect shown to them. The carbon tax is a tax on essentially everything which will add even more pressure on Albertans who are already reeling from a recession.

Let’s face it. The Notley NDP were essentially accidentally elected by Albertans who were repulsed by the ongoing unprincipled actions of the Prentice PCs along with Danielle Smith. The Wildrose Party was under new leadership and simply did not appeal to a majority of voters at that time. We are all now experiencing some extreme buyer’s remorse in Alberta as we see just how extreme and damaging the Notley administration is.

All that being said:

THE NOTLEY GOVERNMENT WAS LEGITIMATELY ELECTED AND THEY HAVE A LEGITIMATE MANDATE TO GOVERN!!!

We have to be realistic here. Under our system, Notley very well may not call an election until 2020 should she choose to stretch it out and there is not a damn thing we can do about that!

Petitions and demonstrations showing our general ire and opposition to Notley or specific pieces of legislation are a good thing. While it may not feel like it, those demonstrations will have an effect on how the government acts in days to come.

George Clark and his petition movement are pushing something altogether different. Clark is taking advantage of frustrated Albertans and has essentially created an urban legend in which a government can be forced into binding plebiscites and possibly even unseated if the government refused to participate. Let’s be clear here. George Clark is simply peddling bullshit!

Normally I disregard the flakes such as Clark who try these sort of initiatives as they tend not to get anywhere or influence many people. Clark is different in that he has managed to collect a sizable following despite his case being completely unsound.

In the image below, Clark sounds outright nuts as he is essentially implying that he will be unseating the Notley government on February 9th through some special method he has discovered. He is apparently keeping the exact details to himself as the government may move to stop him if they figure it out. In reading his writings, he is starting to sound rather mad.

ggeorgeclark

When rational people such as our elected opposition members have refused to play into Clark’s fairy tales, he turns on them with a similar vehemence that he has displayed towards the Notley government as can be seen below where he bitches about the Wildrose MLAs not supporting his fallacy.

georgeclark

Notley will be just as much in power on February 10th as she is today. Who knows what Clark’s planned stunt will be on the steps of the legislature on February 9th. I imagine it will involve him ranting and raving about a perceived constitutional or legal loophole that simply doesn’t exist until he is removed.

These sorts of actions end up painting all who are in opposition to the Notley government as being extreme or delusional. Not only will Clark’s efforts not succeed in unseating the government, they make legitimate initiatives in opposition tot he government look like they may be coming from the same crackpot fringe as Clark’s bunch.

I don’t mean to insult all of those who are following Clark out of hope or desperation. Your average Albertan is too busy working to pay the bills (or seeking work) to be reading election and constitutional legislation in detail. The bill of goods Clark is selling sounds appealing on the surface and people are innocently jumping on board.

The next election is both around the corner and forever away. We as Albertans need to get it together and create the electoral alternative that will legitimately unseat the Notley NDP in the next general election. Whether that party will be the Wildrose, a rejuvenated PC party, a coalition of both or a whole new entity remains to be seen. Whatever the vehicle turns out to be, it will take a lot of work and a lot of realistic thought, planning and actions. Clark is providing none of those and is distracting from real and rationed efforts.

I look forward to seeing Clark’s myth busted on February 9th but am sad at the damage the initiative is causing.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,

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

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

hinman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

prasada

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

denis

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

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

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

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,

2015 Alberta Political Obituary

In not so loving memory of 11 former MLAs who ignored the will of the party members and electors that gave them their short-lived political careers.

Let their political demise serve as a reminder to aspiring opportunists.

Danielle Smith 2009-2015

Danielle Smith 2009-2015

Rob Anderson 2008-2015

Rob Anderson 2008-2015

Bruce McAllister 2012-2015

Bruce McAllister 2012-2015

Jeff Wilson 2012-2015

Jeff Wilson 2012-2015

Bruce Rowe 2012-2015

Bruce Rowe 2012-2015

Rod Fox 2012-2015

Rod Fox 2012-2015

Gary Bikman 2012-2015

Gary Bikman 2012-2015

Jason Hale 2012-2015

Jason Hale 2012-2015

Kerry Towle 2012-2015

Kerry Towle 2012-2015

Ian Donovan 2012-2015

Ian Donovan 2012-2015

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

On free assembly and bringing Taber into the current century.

There are no rights more critical than our individual ones. Infringements on individual rights have to be countered and exposed as soon as they crop up. The erosion of individual rights is almost always an incremental thing and when it happens on even a micro level as it is happening in Taber Alberta, it is a big and important issue.

Depiction of Taber Mayor, Council and Police Chief.

Depiction of Taber Mayor, Council and Police Chief.

The Mayor and police chief of the city of Taber appeared on numerous news sites whining about the ridicule and bad press that they have been getting over their ridiculous bylaws. Sorry but those imbeciles implemented a backwoods, hillbilly style local bylaw that is simply a gross violation of a number of individual rights. Did they really think that people would quietly let them get away with trying to set back individual rights in their town by centuries? I know that I and others who value civil liberties will not let this crackpot law go. The Mayor and his supporters would be well served to repeal this idiocy before it goes to the courts and is tossed out which will doubtless lead to even more ridicule of their community. Sadly, the Mayor and police chief of Taber appear to be suffering under a deficit of common sense so it will likely take the time of a court and judge to explain to these fools that their bylaw is contrary to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

In this article we see Taber Mayor Henk De Vlieger and police chief Alf Rudd pissing and moaning (oops is that a swear?) about the backlash that their primitive bylaw has generated.

While the Mayor and Chief flaccidly try to point to other jurisdictions that have bylaws against spitting and noise, they skirt over the part where their bylaw outlaws the gathering of more than 3 people if a peace officer should make the arbitrary decision that that they may disturb the peace. This is a gross violation of free assembly and simply cannot be allowed to stand.

Section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms pretty explicitly protects free assembly and association.

We are a spoiled society in that we have had these critical rights protected for a long time and many of us have forgotten how hard some people had to fight to win these rights for us. We can’t let those rights erode now.

One of the first things that any dictatorship will do is limit the right of free association and assembly. This keeps any opposition from organizing and stops visible public protest. In the days before modern communications laws banning assembly were very effective in halting things such as union organization or the organization of political movements. How could you begin to halt a dictatorship if you couldn’t gather more than three people together at any given time?

This law in Taber will be shot down. The only questions now are when and how. It is up to the sad little leadership in that backward city to determine how much more mockery they are willing to endure in protecting this legal atrocity before it is inevitably tossed out. I fully intend to be putting elements of this bylaw to the test soon if the fools in Taber won’t get rid of it soon. Do they really want me down there?

Perhaps they should ask Nenshi how much joy I can bring to a city council and Mayor when I feel they are improperly applying laws.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Leaked email demonstrates hypocritical MLA flip-flop

bikmanWildrose floorcrosser Gary Bikman never really stood out over his years in the legislature aside from the time when he wrote “shill” on a piece of paper regarding a stance taken by Speaker Zwozdesky at the time and held it up in the house. It is an ironic picture considering the shilling that Bikman is doing today.

A supporter of Bikman’s had sent an email encouraging him to cross the floor on December 10th of this year. Bikman wrote a lengthy reply and then copied the document to the entire caucus on the 11th as can be seen below.

—–Original Message—–
From: Gary Bikman [mailto:*******]
Sent: Thursday, December 11, 2014 6:37 AM
To: Bruce Rowe; Jason Hale; Shayne Saskiw; Jeff Wilson; Rod Fox; Heather Forsyth; Pat Stier; Drew Barnes; Rick Strankman; Rob Anderson; Danielle Smith; Bruce McAllister; Blake Pedersen
Cc: Dave Yager;
Subject: A recent letter encouraging crossing, & my reply

Good morning, y’all:

I hope you had a good evening of R,R&R – release, relief & relaxation – last night. It’s been a challenging two month and we’ve come through a lot together. With emphasis on “together.”

I know we’ll have an interesting discussion in caucus as we prepare for a well earned and much deserved break.

I hope you’ll take the time to read this letter (email) I received from a personal friend and fan, giving me advice he thinks I need to consider – and my reply.

During our break we need to be thinking about how we’ll prepare for the next general election. Drew, Steve & I have been discussing this and have some ideas we think can play a significant role in helping assure the desired outcome.

It’s going to take a strategic, integrated plan.

We’ll mention it briefly today in Caucus and then want to hold a full day session in Calgary on Feb 5th.

Regards,

Gary

The entire letter Gary received and his lengthy response can be downloaded from the link below.

Gary Bikman’s Letter December 11

As we all know, less than a week after penning this letter Gary Bikman joined Danielle Smith and seven other MLAs in what is now becoming Alberta’s most infamous act of political betrayal in history in crossing the floor.

Bikman has listed his excuses on his facebook page here on December 17th.

I want to clip out some quotes to highlight Bikman’s profound hypocrisy below.

Bikman Dec 11: “One party rule breeds waste, bureaucratic lard, and deeply entrenched sense of entitlement; herd mentality well, lemming-like whipped votes, where MLAs can only speak up in caucus about their constituents issues and then, in some cases they’re told by the premier or whip, and I quote, “Sit down & shut up now, (name withheld) – we’ve heard from the bible belt, now let’s do what’s best for Calgary & Edmonton.”

It appears that within a few days Bikman decided to become a lemming.

Bikman Dec 17: “But Jim Prentice has changed that. He is the right leader in the right place for the right time and I am going to spend the remainder of my career in politics (however short or long that is) to help him implement the very principles and ideas I feel Alberta so desperately needs.”

Yes, apparently Prentice changed all that in a mere six day

Bikman Dec 11 on why he must not cross: Free votes in the Legislature; the right of recall; a return to regional heath boards, with real power to save.  When abolished and merged into the central organization, Chinook Health Region was the most cost effective deliverer of health care and had the best measurable outcomes.”

None of those things were promised in the merger aside from lip service to free votes on matters of conscience which has to be seen to be believed.

Bikman Dec 11: As good as Prentice is, it’s time for that kind of fiscal accountability in Alberta and it won’t be possible to fully achieve with the system of bureaucratic bulk, deep sense of entitlement and the same team that endorsed Ed & then Alison as they misstepped us through 17 billion dollars of sustainability – rainy day – funds.

I hope I can count on your support to help a new broom get elected to sweep clean.”

I don’t recall that team that Bikman so despised having disappeared over the last week.

I think I have quoted enough. The letter is here for download if one has the stomach to read the rest of the gut wrenching hypocrisy coming from Gary Bikman mere days before he chose to abandon his constituents.

The only difference between Bikman and the other floor crossers is the lack of any recent letters laying out their hypocrisy so recently.

The bottom line as this letter clearly demonstrates is that the current lame justifications coming from the opportunistic MLAs who crossed the floor to try and save their seats are little more than hypocritical bullshit.

I look forward to seeing the “Wildrose Nine” joining the unemployment line as they go down in history as little more than hypocritical opportunists who got outplayed by an unprincipled Premier.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , ,

Stay out of my phone!

WarrantCANADIAN CHARTER OF RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS

8. Everyone has the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure.

Yesterday in a split decision the Supreme Court of Canada made a ruling that sets a terrible precedent. Police officers may now search a person’s phone with no need for a warrant. This is a gross violation of our rights to privacy and leaves all citizens potentially exposed to abuses from law enforcement officers.

Phones today are essentially personal computers that are often packed with sensitive and personal information about their owners. This ruling indicates that some of our Supreme Court justices do not understand modern phones and view them as simply communication devices for talking and texting. Giving police the authority to search our phones without a warrant is akin to letting police search through our mail and file cabinets at home based simply on any suspicion that the officer wants to cook up to justify the search.

I understand that the majority of law enforcement officers are good people who would not abuse this authority. It has to be understood though that the majority is not good enough. That is why we have charter rights and protections from unlawful search and seizure.

Just today an article was written about a violent scumbag on the Edmonton Police Service named Mike Wasylyshen who despite a criminal assault conviction and numerous other offences just got a promotion to sergeant. Wasylyshen beat a man on crutches outside of an Edmonton bar and threatened to burn the victim’s house down with family in it. Wasylyshen tasered an unconscious 16 year old boy 8 times and then beat the boy with the taser itself knocking out one of the boy’s teeth. This lowlife cop also wilfully deceived a justice of the peace to wrongfully obtain a search warrant.

Why would an officer so clearly violent and corrupt still even be a part of the service? Oh, did I mention that Mike Wasylyshen’s father used to be the Chief of the Edmonton Police Service?

Now in light of that, would you want somebody like Wasylyshen rooting through your personal information on your phone? Do you feel comfortable that the sole discretion to choose such searches lands on the shoulders of men like  Wasylyshen? I am sure he is not the only bad cop out there and the Edmonton Police Service is not the only one that protects people like him.

Of course supplicants to big government love to say “What have you got to hide?” I will say this right now, none of your G-D damned business! I shouldn’t have to explain why I don’t want somebody to arbitrarily search through my personal files, communications and pictures.

I will indulge and lay out some scenarios anyway. Do I want a cop reading my personal communications with my wife? What if it is a small town and I have communications with my mistress? Will the cop remain discreet? What if my mistress is the cop’s wife? How bad will the beating be? What if he posts the picture of me restrained while wearing lederhosen and being pummeled with handfuls of lime jello tossed by a hired gang of circus midgets wearing assorted lingerie to my facebook profile?

OK, I am making light but my point is that the number of things that a person may keep on their phone that they may want to keep private is endless. There may be sensitive business dealings or there may be things that may be considered less than moral but perfectly legal. All of these could get a person blackmailed, bankrupted or simply humiliated if in the wrong hands.

There indeed are situations where the search of a person’s phone may be required in a criminal investigation. I contend that the need is not so pressing that it has to be done on the spot based on the arbitrary choice of a police officer though. A phone can be held and the need for a search can be demonstrated to a judge as a warrant is pursued. This oversight is important!

I have seen some people saying “Well, you should password protect your phone!”. For one thing, I expect police can find and be provided means to bypass passwords. For another thing, I simply should not have to. Sure, it is wise to password protect. If I choose not to though, it does not mean I deserve to have my privacy violated. A woman shouldn’t walk in dark alleys when wearing suggestive clothing but she still does not deserve to be raped if she makes such a poor choice.

Rights get eroded most effectively in increments. This story is sliding under the radar and people need to pay attention because our rights just got eroded by a large increment here!

The only party that has spoken up on this ruling that I can find so far is the Libertarian Party of Canada. Alas, they have no MPs at this time. Contact your MP folks and demand that this erosion of our rights be corrected as soon as possible.

You may be the next person Mike Wasylyshen pulls over when he is in a bad mood.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Legitimacy of next Progressive Conservative leader already in question

ballot

The lackluster race to lead the governing Progressive Conservative Party is finally coming to an end tomorrow. Thanks to the Westminster System, the person selected by the membership of the party will essentially automatically become the Premier of the province of Alberta. Unfortunately due to a series of terrible decisions in setting up the system for the leadership election, we will never be confident of the legitimacy of whomever ends up elected in this mess.

I served on the three person committee that managed the election of Danielle Smith as leader of the Wildrose Party in 2009. I learned many lessons through the course of that race. The hardest lesson for an idealist like me was accepting that even in an internal race there are many people who are eager to stretch and break rules in order to win. While most people have personal principles that would prevent this, sadly many will do whatever they can to try and gain an edge for their team. For example, one of the teams in the Wildrose leadership race literally signed up multiple dead people as members. This was caught and internal discipline was enforced. One day I will go into more full detail about some of the stunts attempted in that race.

Because of the reality that some will try to abuse the system, some checks and balances were built into the system to try and reduce or eliminate abuses.

1. In the Wildrose Party, aside from immediate family members, all members must purchase their own membership.

This one can be tough to manage but with the checks below, one can see how bulk buying of memberships is difficult in a properly run leadership system.

The Prentice team initially denied and then admitted to buying memberships for others. While the practice of buying memberships for others is frowned upon by most, it is not technically wrong in the PC leadership election system. I will explain below why this is a huge problem.

2. In the Wildrose race, after a period of time, the membership lists of all teams were shared for the remainder of the campaign. In the PC race this is not happening.

Leadership races put a huge strain upon the resources of the party. Teams typically hold their membership sales tight until the last minute and then literally dump tens of thousands of them on the party at once to be processed. Just entering these memberships into the system alone is a Herculean task, scrutinizing the veracity of the members effectively is nearly impossible for the party itself. This is where sharing the lists with the teams is critical.

Who better to check the lists of members and how they were signed up than competing leadership teams? You can rest assured that volunteers in the different leadership teams in the Wildrose were dedicated to scrutinizing the new lists of members for discrepancies the moment that they got these lists. This is indeed how some of the small but still egregious abuses of the system came to light in the Wildrose leadership race. It was the knowledge that these lists would be shared that kept some of the unprincipled from abusing the system in any large way. They knew that if there were 50 memberships coming from the same household or if one person was signed up 6 times with slight differences in the spelling of their names that alarm bells would go off so they didn’t even try.

In refusing to share the membership lists among the teams, the PC party has invited abuse and we know it is happening. The only questions are the degree of the abuse and how it may or may not have affected the outcome of the race. We likely will never be able to find out.

3. The Wildrose invited scrutineers to be present for every aspect of the vote counting. Now to be fair, one unprincipled team actually took advantage of that for their own benefit and I will indeed write in detail about that down the road. Either way, for the most part having representatives from leadership teams present helps prevent counting abuses and such. As with the membership lists, nobody is better to police the rules in these regards than the teams themselves. The PCs are not allowing such scrutiny which is very distressing.

4. The PCs are using a telephone/internet voting system.

There are countless essays and articles about why these systems are terrible and ripe for abuse. I will let the reader google that should they want more information as my posting is getting lengthy enough.

Aside from cracking the system itself, the phone/internet system of voting also allows anonymity in voting which makes abuse terribly easy.

Let’s say for example I was an unprincipled supporter of one of the campaigns and I had deep pockets for some reason. Let’s say I have access to voters lists from elections Alberta. I could theoretically sign up hundreds or possibly thousands of people for memberships without their knowledge. All I would have to change would be the email address to send the PIN for voting to which is an option in the system. The party’s only check is that the name and address matches the electors list. With the members list reaching the party at the last minute, no physical mail would reach the unknowing new member until the race was over. Communications would come through the email address. With online voting and over the course of a couple days, one person alone could vote countless times and how would they be caught? Scrutineers wont catch it as the party is not allowing them.

The provincial Liberals, Alberta Party and federal NDP all did remote voting in their last races. The turnout for all of those races were dismal so what is the reason to go with this terrible system?

As I type this we are hearing all sorts of reports about how the system is getting overloaded and people cant get their votes in. Odd in mid-day on a weekday. One would think most prospective voters would be working.

The voting system is turning out to be a gong-show of a disaster and the voting has only been going on for a few hours now.

In light of the huge exploits I have demonstrated above, how could anybody really be sure that whoever wins the race has done so fairly? The PC party is already reeling from years of scandals and have lost the trust of many Albertans. What they needed was a leader elected to refresh the party and get off to a principled start. This is impossible now as we will never be able to be sure if that leader was legitimately elected.

Opportunity lost again.

 

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Ideas so good they have to be mandatory!

The Purple Peacock

Naheed Nenshi has a dream. In Nenshi’s utopia, Calgarians will eschew suburban living and automobiles en masse while embracing high density downtown condo living and riding bicycles or taking transit to work. Calgary will turn into some sort of North American Amsterdam and lead the world in urbanist dreams. Industrial districts will vanish along with those nasty railroads that move consumer goods. Calgary will offer food trucks, art galleries and coffee shops as main industries. Hipsters from around the world will travel to Calgary to ride bicycles and gaze upon public art created by sole sourced foreign artists.

Despite using every tool at His disposal, Nenshi’s dream so far has pretty much been an utter failure. There is one factor that is foiling Nenshi’s every move to create this beautiful fantasy city. That factor is consumer choice!

consumer

Yes, those damned unwashed Calgarians just refuse to embrace Nenshi’s dream. Citizens are voting with their wallets and moving to bedroom communities in record numbers to flee the congestion and costs that are growing under Nenshi’s high-density stewardship of Calgary. Calgarians are still refusing to jam themselves like sardines into aromatic city transit or ride bicycles to work in winter as well. The personal auto is still by far the most popular means of transportation in Calgary.

Nenshi has tried every punitive means at his disposal to try to get people out of cars. Streets are being given away for a non-existent cyclist demand and parking spaces removed as quickly as possible. City Hall is now even considering charging people to park in front of their own homes. Those damned drivers are still ignoring Nenshi’s efforts to save them from themselves.

Rather than respect the wishes of Calgarians, Nenshi wants the province to empower him to force people to give up their autos and force neighboring municipalities to plan based on His own ridiculous density targets.

Nenshi has long been begging the province to grant him additional taxation powers. Property taxes alone are inadequate to feed Nenshi’s spending lust despite constant massive annual increases. Property taxes and fees do not allow Nenshi to punish behavior he doesn’t like and direct the unwashed masses into the mold He dreams of. Nenshi wants the power to charge for auto registrations and to tax the hell out of fuel. He wants to make automotive use as expensive and unviable as possible.

Nenshi’s taxation dreams have thankfully been stymied by our provincial government and it appears that they will continue to be.

Nenshi’s city hall has been strangling development in the suburbs through bureaucratic means and he has dedicated profound energy to demonizing people who choose to live in the suburbs and those businesses that dare to service such demand. Instead of squeezing into Nenshi’s square hole however, people are simply moving away from Nenshi’s playground altogether.

Nenshi’s plan to curb the exodus of citizens and businesses from the city is even more odious than his taxation dreams. Nenshi has been pushing and making ridiculous demands for a provincially mandated Municipal Development Plan which would give Him a veto power over development plans in neighboring municipalities and impose Calgary’s density requirements upon them.

Nenshi’s unbending demands for authority over other municipalities has stunted any chance of a regional development agreement being developed. Regional planning is a good thing but it simply has to be cooperative. Rather than subject themselves to Nenshi’s dictatorial dreams, the MDs of Foothills, Wheatland and Rocky View have told Nenshi to kiss their collected asses. Okotoks and Airdrie have refused to participate and so far the provincial government has refused to intervene.

Nenshi’s pouting has gotten more vocal as he has been stamping his foot and demanding that the province step in and force those uppity neighbors to take part in his dream.

So far no provincial ministers have indulged Nenshi in His fervent demands as they pretty much know that doing so would be committing political suicide in rural constituencies.

We must remain on guard though. Nenshi is a canny political strategist and he can smell vulnerability in the Progressive Conservative Party right now. You can bet that Nenshi is pressuring the individual leadership candidates to promise a provincially forced Municipal Development Plan and it is possible that one of those candidates may foolishly commit to such a promise in hopes of securing the Purple Endorsement in both the leadership and the next provincial election.

If people wanted to live in Nenshi’s dream, they would choose to. The ever vaunted and subsidized “East Village” languishes undeveloped and suburbs remain popular. Auto sales continue in record numbers and weekend road trips remain more popular than art festivals. Nenshi will never understand and respect the reality that he is supposed to serve the will of the electorate rather than direct it. That is why Nenshi consistently resorts to the hammer rather than accommodating the needs and wants of citizens. That of course is why it is critical that we ensure that our provincial government never empowers Nenshi as he is demanding. It would be damned tough to get that toothpaste back into the tube.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Choosing the next leader of Alberta’s official opposition

crown

This upcoming leadership race for the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta will be the third one I have observed from the perspective of a Wildrose (formerly Alberta Alliance) supporter. In the last two races it was assumed (correctly) that the P.C. Party was electing the next Premier of Alberta. This time around, it is broadly assumed that the P.C. Party will be electing a person who will be serving as a seat warmer on the provincial throne until Danielle Smith can take it in the next general election. Barring a miracle, there is little that can stop the aforementioned outcome.

The mood and comments from within the Wildrose Party are indicative of how outlooks have changed. Discontent with the Progressive Conservative party’s governance of Alberta was beginning to gain some steam in the last couple years of Ralph Klein’s time as Premier. Spending was increasing dramatically and that party seemed to be losing some of it’s vision and direction. The Alberta Alliance Party had won an upset seat in the prior election along with some strong second place finishes and it was beginning to gain strength though it was still quite small on the Alberta political landscape. The Progressive Conservative Party knives came out and Ralph Klein was given a humiliating 55% support number at the 2006 PC convention which quickly ushered him out the door as Premier.

To be frank, the leadership race devastated the fledgling Alberta Alliance Party. The bulk of our supporters were discontented small c conservatives who had left the Progressive Conservatives and they now had renewed hope for change from within their former party. Our donors dried up and the office phone stopped ringing. Most had more appetite to change the leader of the PCs than take the long road of building a whole new alternative. This problem was hugely exacerbated when our leader & sole MLA Paul Hinman suggested that Alberta Alliance members should take out PC memberships and support the election of Ted Morton as leader. Paul is a truly pragmatic man and thought this approach was what was best for Alberta. It was a terribly weak position coming from an opposition party however.

By the time Ed Stelmach was elected as leader of the PC party, the Alberta Alliance was on virtual life support. Our membership numbered in the hundreds and our bank account held a few thousand dollars at best. A small surge of members returned having given up on Ted Morton’s chances and we carried on. The hope for conservative leaning change from within the PC party was dashed.

Within a few years the self-serving Progressive Conservative knives came out for Ed Stelmach and yet again we were into a leadership race in 2011. Due to Stelmach’s attacks on the energy industry, business support was getting strongly behind the newly branded Wildrose Alliance Party. Stelmach had won a decisive majority in the 2008 election but then continually lost ground to this surging new opposition. A by-election loss in Glenmore, the election of Danielle Smith and the following floor crossings by Rob Anderson, Heather Forsyth and later Guy Boutilier sent a series of shockwaves through the PC party. A coup was coming from within caucus and Stelmach stepped aside before he could be formally thrown out.

Again we saw a degree of support leave the Wildrose Party in hopes that Ted Morton or perhaps even Mar could get the PC Party back on course. The degree of loss of support within the Wildrose in 2011 was much smaller than in the 2006 election. While hindered and distracted by the PC leadership race, the Wildrose Party still continued to work and establish a strong ground presence and developed constituencies. Growth in funds and membership only slowed for the Wildrose during this PC leadership race as opposed to totally drying up as it did in 2006.

When the Progressive Conservative Party not only resoundingly rejected Ted Morton but took a hard left turn in selecting Alison Redford as their leader, support for the Wildrose Party finally solidified. A tipping point of conservative/libertarian Albertans had been reached who had given up all hope on reforming the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta. Growth within the ever evolving Wildrose Party exploded by every measure whether public opinion polling, fundraising or membership numbers. The tone changed within the party and sights were truly set on forming government.

The 2012 election proved two things resoundingly as the Redford campaign barely hung on to power. For one thing the Progressive Conservative machine was vulnerable and could indeed be replaced. The other thing learned at that time was that the Wildrose Party still needed some maturing and evolution in order to be the party to replace the PCs.

Now that the Progressive Conservative Party has tossed out Redford and are into yet another leadership race, the impact of this circumstance on the Wildrose Party couldn’t be more different than it had been in 2006 and 2011. While some folks are trying to imply that the Wildrose Party desperately hoped that Redford would remain as the Premier in order to truly sink the PC reign, that simply isn’t true.

The Wildrose Party has been growing and evolving and examining itself for years with the goal of replacing the entire government in mind, not just the leader of it. This goal has not changed a bit. As the Progressive Conservatives have ripped apart yet another of their leaders, there is no indication of any loss of Wildrose support to any budding PC leadership candidates. The removal of Redford has not led to hope that the PC party has any chance of internal changes. What the PC coup has demonstrated is that the PCs are in utter turmoil and have no clue how to save their individual, personal political fortunes. No matter who the PCs choose to lead them this time, their party is weakened fiscally, organizationally and morally. These weaknesses are now fatal for this fading party and we can feel it in the Wildrose Party.

Within days of Redford’s resignation, the Wildrose held their leader’s dinner in Calgary. 1000 people packed the house at $400 per plate and the mood was one of nothing but excitement and optimism as people knew they were watching the next elected Premier of Alberta speaking. History is being made as a 43 year old dynasty is finally coming to an end.

Politics are fickle and much can change within a couple years. As I said before though, it will take nothing less than a miracle to turn the Progressive Conservative Party around this time.

Leadership campaigns for the PC party had been traditionally funded by people wanting to curry favor with a future Premier. It will be difficult for candidates to raise the non-refundable $50,000 entry fee (such a grassroots figure), much less the hundreds of thousands required for the rest of the campaign when pretty much all political watchers know that these candidates are running to lead the opposition after the next provincial election.

Nothing can be taken for granted by the Wildrose Party of course. In seeing and feeling three of these races from within the party though, one can tell that the time for a true change of government has finally come.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,