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.

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In a future not so far away….

In light of folks from the Pope to Muslim groups in Saskatoon calling for the illegalization of religious critique this little video is well timed.

We cant let free speech be impeded even in little increments no matter who may yowl that they are offended. People really need to get over themselves.

A short video well worth a watch on what the future may indeed be like if we keep caving to the chronically offended.

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We have to stop pandering to extremist protesters!!

To put it simply, you can’t reason with the unreasonable. There is a collection of career protesters in Canada who are determined to protest any and every possible development in the country and they will not negotiate or compromise. We are wasting resources and putting our first responders at risk as we continually try to appease this tiny but loud minority of extremists. We empowered this directionless group when we sat on our hands for months while they squatted in and destroyed our public parks across the continent as we wasted time trying to negotiate with these people during the pointless “occupy” protests. In almost every situation we eventually had to get court orders and have these squatters physically removed. Our time in negotiation was wasted and waiting for them to move on was a waste of time too. These protesters really do have nothing better to do. Gainful employment certainly isn’t a consideration for most of them.

The list is long but the latest racket is coming from Burnaby where surveys are proceeding in preparation to expand the capacity of Canada’s Transmountain Pipeline which has safely operated and transported hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil per day to the West coast since shortly after World War II. Yes folks, we have had a pipeline across the mountains for decades and the world didn’t end. Kinder Morgan isn’t even proposing a new pipeline, it is looking to expand a current one. This still drew protest from the unreasonable and the extreme and now it has led of course to arrests.

One clear sign that these protesters are the same ones who took part in the pointless “occupy” protests a few years ago is their filthy living. The hypocrisy and sense of entitlement of these pigs is astounding as they demand that the world clean up while they themselves pollute their surroundings in ways that an oilfield crew would never even consider.

camp1 camp2Above are pictures of the filthy encampment where protesters have sat about for the last few weeks. Garbage is strewn everywhere and reports of a great deal of human waste a short distance away in the trees are coming out. Again, does this sound familiar? Of course it does. This is the same group of people acting the same way they did in “occupy”.

occupoopAbove is a picture of the Burnaby Mountain encampment along with some pictures from “occupy” encampments. The only real difference is that the Burnaby bunch didn’t have as much access to fast food as they did when they were squatting in more urban areas. One reason to arrest these fools when they set up camp sooner rather than later is ironically for the protection of our environment.

Below are pictures of these folks interacting with police.

Trans Mountain 20141120 coward dolt doltline loserI took part in a protest once that came to a point where police told me that I was to either leave or be physically removed. This was after hours of police seeking compromises with me. Despite claims from hysteric professional protesters, police are not actually that eager to physically remove or arrest people. The way I avoided being dragged into a police wagon that day was agreeing to move once things got to that point. I had made my point, why subject myself and the police to the mess of dragging me around?

Why do these idiots insist on making police drag them out? What point are they making? Many of them are hoping to create an impression of police brutality. All of the RCMP officers at this protest wore uniform mounted cameras and there were dozens of private cameras filming every second. While protesters spat upon, pressed and tried to provoke police, the officers showed great restraint as usual.

tolerance

respectOne idiot protester put himself in a tree forcing police to put themselves at risk to remove him. There should be extra charges for people putting police in harms way like this.

treetwitOther stupid and failed tactics to delay work were having one dolt chain her head to a piece of concrete while another moron climbed under a jeep. These acts accomplished nothing aside from making more work and creating a hazard even to themselves.

idiot moronThese ridiculous protesters even oppose the reversal of flow in an existing line as demonstrated in “Line 9” in Ontario. Note the similar tactics of piling garbage for others to clean up and chaining themselves pointlessly to things.

line9mess line92 Trish

The right to demonstrate and protest is a vital one but there are limits and we are allowing extremists to increasingly pass reasonable limitations. The “occupy” idiocy cost taxpayers millions in extra law enforcement and cleaning up after them across the country. These endless protests against all energy projects are costing taxpayers and private industry alike millions of dollars. I would rather our police were out seeking and arresting hardened criminals rather than putting themselves at risk to move or babysit these extremists.

This is a fun game to many of these protesters. They are typically upper middle class kids who know that their Dadda will bail them out as they repeatedly get arrested. They are out having fun at the expense and risk to all.

twitsMichael Sona was just sentenced to 9 months in jail for his role in the “robocall” scandal. The judge wanted to make an example of him and rightly show that we will not tolerate infringement of the democratic process. It is time to make such examples of these protesters who insist in illegally disrupting progress and putting others at risk. These companies have jumped through all the legal hoops and done all the preliminary studies and work required for their projects. They deserve protection from these extremists.

Instead of constantly arresting and releasing these clowns with fines, perhaps it is time to give some of them real sentences. Maybe with a couple months in jail some of these kids may realize that their trust-fund doesn’t serve them well when Bubba is making eyes at them in the group showers.

There is no reasoning with these protesters. It is time to start demonstrating that we have had enough of their antics and make them understand that enough is enough.

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Wildrose & Progressive Conservative. What’s the difference?

wildpc

As the Wildrose Party has grown and matured as a party, our policies have evolved and moderated every year. We have learned from experience what is realistic and what is acceptable to Albertans and have adjusted our actions accordingly. As the policy set moves towards what some may view as a more mushy middle, some critics have questioned what differences remain between the Wildrose Party and the reigning Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta. While the policies may appear to be getting similar (can’t really find a good copy of the PC ones), the difference between the parties is still immense.

The biggest difference between the Wildrose Party and the PCs is subtle yet profound. The difference between the parties is one of both culture and of attitudes held by both the general membership and senior party members. This huge difference was laid out and exposed excellently in a blog posting by Christina Rontynen who courageously has spoken up from within the PCs.

Christina and her husband Piotr Pilarski have both been very loyal and involved members of the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta for years. Christina has now spoken up out of concern for the party that she has given so much to. In return for Christina having expressed frank concerns, she has received a letter of censure from the Party President Jim McCormick.

Letter of censure

The bottom line is that the powers that be in the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta have told a concerned member in no uncertain terms to shut the hell up. This exposes the great difference from the Wildrose  Party and sickness from within the PC Party of Alberta. Redford can’t be blamed for this attempt to gag a concerned loyal member. This missive came from the Party President who is supposed to represent the membership.

 

My wife Jane and I have both been very vocal and outspoken when we have felt that some elements within the Wildrose Party may be trying to move things in the wrong direction. We have been critical of the Wildrose Party on a number of occasions. Jane is a former Executive Director for the Wildrose and has served in a number of executive capacities while I served multiple terms on the party executive. Both Jane and I are past candidates for the party. Serving in those sorts of roles does not mean we can no longer be openly critical of the party at times as McCormick has implied in his letter to Rontynen.

Jane and I have surely made many senior members of the Wildrose Party grind their teeth when we have gotten openly cranky with the party. I have gotten more than one grumpy phone call from higher-ups in the party asking what I am up to. One thing that has never happened though is that nobody in the Wildrose Party considered for even a second to tell Jane or I to shut up!

The culture of the Wildrose Party is still one where the concerns of the membership (and Albertans) are paramount. The party is still relatively new and embraces internal critique as part of it’s growth rather than try to stifle it. Perhaps if the Wildrose Party held power for 43 years in Alberta these values and attitudes would change but for now the party is as grassroots as it gets despite taking an increasingly pragmatic approach to it’s actions.

The culture and attitude of a party can’t be captured in a policy statement. Those things can only been viewed in actions and felt within membership. Even if the Wildrose Party and the PC Party had the exact same policy set (they certainly don’t), the difference in cultures within these two parties would still set them greatly apart.

The Progressive Conservative Party acts only for the benefit of the party itself. The Wildrose Party is still dominated by the ideal of service for the benefit of the province and acts through the guidance of the party membership. That difference is and will remain tremendous no matter who may lead the Progressive Conservative Party next.

 

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People shocked with reality from reality TV star.

hillbillies

 

To all the people expressing shock and horror with the candor from one of the stars in the reality TV series Duck Dynasty this week all I can ask is: What the hell did you expect?

Did people really think that the backwoods Louisiana family depicted in the A&E series were actually longbearded hipsters with some sort of politically correct Wiccan spiritualism that embraced tolerance and a strong understanding of the world at large?

I think some people need to get out more and not just the backwoods types. The people who are demonstrating an ignorance here are the urban living self-styled “progressives” who until now enjoyed what they thought was a sanitized version of how rich hillbillies live.

I guess we sort if set up that illusion in the 60s with the show pictured below.

bevhillbillies

 

I hate to break it to the shocked urbanist reality TV voyeurs who had previously been enjoying watching the Duck Dynasty family but the family pictured above is actually a bunch of actors. The family in Duck Dynasty is for real.

I have spent a great deal of time working in the Appalachians in this last few years. As I type I am in a hotel room in rural Pennsylvania. I can assure you that what you heard coming from the fellow on Duck Dynasty is pretty tame when compared to some of the views that some backwoods locals have shared with me at times. For somebody to to hold intolerant views and to take a literal approach to the bible is actually not all that uncommon in many rural areas. Get over it folks.

It was that strange world outlook that made the family in Duck Dynasty so quaint and appealing to viewers. How dare they open their mouths with social views however!! Again folks, what the hell were you expecting?

By the way, before folks get on a high horse I have seen these attitudes from many Canadians too.

Personally I never thought much of the show. I think camouflage outfits only belong on military personnel or people actually in the act of hunting. Unlike the hyperventilating folks jumping on the condemnation bandwagon with Duck Dynasty however I am tolerant. Live and let live. I really don’t give a shit what the social views of a Louisiana hillbilly are.

What were people seeking from that show? Social and spiritual guidance? The meaning of life? Will you now move on to Pawn Stars to seek deep spiritual revelations and philosophies? I am afraid that you are in for disappointment.

Do I care that A&E has suspended the guy? No, I don’t really care about that either. They are a private company. They can hire and fire whoever they like. This is not an offense of freedom of speech. Phil Robertson is still free to hold his views and to speak them, he just no longer has A&E as a platform to promote them. I couldn’t care less if A&E takes him back either.

The only thing that has gotten me worked up is the Pollyanna “well I never!” faux-outrage from the idiots who are all pissed off about this.

If people really want to battle intolerance from bearded backwoods bigots, may I suggest that they start with the fellow below and his compatriots. The last I heard they were still executing gay folks in his mountain land. Tying your balls in a knot over the open views of a harmless reality TV star isn’t really changing anything.

muslimhillbillyOh and I may as well bust one more myth for reality TV fans. The friendly folks encountered by the guys on American Pickers (I do like that show) are staged to a degree and fictional. I can assure you from personal experience that more often than not when you approach a yard overflowing with junk and personal treasures that the homeowner is paranoid, well-armed and crazier than the proverbial shithouse rat. Sorry to break that to you but I would hate to see a person walk up to a hoarder’s door unexpectedly and learn the hard way that the person is not exactly interested in visitors or selling their stuff.

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Wildrose Party AGM 2013. The evolution continues.

wildroseI have been very involved in the Wildrose Party having joined the party while it was in it’s past incarnation as the Alberta Alliance Party which held a lone seat in the Alberta Legislature. Every year the party has learned new lessons (often in a hard way) and made changes to better reflect the needs and will of Albertans. This ability and willingness as a party to learn and evolve is what has led the party from being the tiny rump in the legislature in 2004, to serving as official opposition today, to very possibly becoming Alberta’s next government in 2016. Every year at every Annual General Meeting the party has made the changes required to better manage itself and to appeal to a broader range of Albertans. This year’s AGM was no exception to that trend.

With such explosive growth there will always come some growing pains. Last year it became evident that the party was suffering under some very serious managerial challenges on the executive level. This was rectified as members gathered in Edmonton and we had a nearly clean sweep of the Executive Committee. While policy was not on the table for alteration at last year’s AGM, discussion of our policies sure was. We took advantage of the gathering for some very frank self-evaluation which is what led to the great policy changes we made at the AGM in Red Deer this year.

Some policies we had were obsolete, some really simply made little sense (these will always build up in a policy set and need periodic flushing), and some policies were simply not acceptable to Albertans. We struck pretty much all of those this year.

The basis of the Wildrose Party is grassroots in nature. This means we are expected as a party to reflect the will of Albertans in policy and actions rather than dictate. To do that our policies must remain ever-fluid as the views of Albertans will constantly change as the social end economic environment around them does. The Wildrose Party is staying true to that principle. One needs only to look to the flaccid and almost non-existent Social Credit Party of Alberta to see what happens when a party stubbornly insists on clinging to outdated policies and principles.

I am going to start with the policies that we still had that reflected the “Alberta Agenda” otherwise known as the “Firewall Letter”. At the time when the Alberta Agenda was drafted by folks such as Stephen Harper and Ted Morton, Canada was in a period of unprecedented regional division. The Quebec Referendum of 1995 where secession was only avoided by a tiny margin was still very fresh in people’s minds and we had just come from the 2000 federal election where Jean Chretien won a strong majority through pandering to Quebec while demonizing Alberta. Albertans felt bruised, battered and defensive after that gross display of federal regionalism in electoral politics particularly in light of how successful it was.

In light of the political atmosphere 12 years ago, the Alberta Agenda made perfect sense to many (likely most) Albertans at that time. Times have changed dramatically since then though and it is quite clear that Albertans in general have little use for policies that are as potentially regionally divisive as those that stemmed from the Alberta Agenda.

While there was some debate on it, there was no contest when it came to the votes by members to strike the policies listed below from the Wildrose policy book.

Under Justice we had: “explore the feasibility of creating a provincial police force.”

The above policy is now gone for a number of reasons. To begin with, some people interpret that as a shot at the RCMP which while not perfect, is an iconic national police force that is well respected by most Albertans. It was pointed out that we as a province had just signed a 25 year contract with the RCMP for policing and we were reminded that we do have the Alberta Sheriffs. To put it simply, the policy was pointless as it stood and really, there is nothing to stop us from examining the feasibility of anything at any time. It is what we choose to act on that is important.

Under Economy: “withdraw from the Canada Pension Plan and create an Alberta Pension Plan. The Alberta Plan will offer at minimum the same benefits while giving Albertans control over the investment fund”

Personally I still don’t think that policy is all that bad. Quebec has opted out of the federal plan so it isn’t totally unprecedented. All the same, it has been difficult to explain the need for such a move to people at large and some pensioners have expressed fear that this may threaten their economic well-being. As with other policies as well, times have changed. Great improvements have been made to the management of the Canadian Pension Plan and the plan does not look like the economic dead end that it appeared to be 12 years ago. If there really is a need for a provincial plan, the proponents of it will have to make a better case to Albertans for it. For now, such a plan does not reflect the will of many Albertans thus does not belong in the policy book.

Under Democratic Reform: “propose a Constitution for Alberta, within the confines of Canadian Confederation.”

This is just a recipe for inter-jurisdictional conflict and endless time in the courts. Our federal constitution is in dire need of reform as it is when one looks at things such as the Senate scandal. Why would we want to mire things further with trying to draft a parallel constitution? When asked this, Wildrose members overwhelmingly agreed to get rid of this policy.

In writing I see that there is a gap in my notes on one policy resolution as to whether or not it had passed and I honestly can’t remember at this time. Either way, there was a resolution under economy that would have gotten rid of the policy for Alberta to provincially collect it’s own income tax and I am pretty confident that the resolution to get rid of that policy passed. I may be corrected on this though. Again like other Alberta Agenda type policies, it simply is not required, there is no demand for it and it is out of date.

Rest assured I still have a good deal of regionalistic jingoism within me as an Albertan. Until we can clean up our own act within the Alberta legislature both fiscally and democratically though, we are in no place to cast stones at federal policies right now. As a provincial party we need to remain focused on our local needs rather than getting distracted by perceived federal injustices. We will be much better placed to lecture the federal government and pursue changes from them if we form a provincial government and then lead by example through building a fiscally responsible and democratically fair Alberta first.

The Wildrose Party never really has had a large set of socially conservative policies but we certainly have managed to wear the mantle of extreme social conservatism thanks to the likes of Alan Hunsperger and a few others. We did have a couple stinkers in our policy book with that regard all the same though and we rightly cleaned them out.

One policy that caused us a great deal of grief was the one calling for the protection of “conscience rights” of healthcare professionals. This policy had always been most frustrating as it caused us untold grief as a party and it was calling for the protection of rights that are already protected under the Charter and under medical legislation. This policy was a bone tossed to hardcore pro-life folks years ago and it was well past time to get rid of it.

The move to strike that pointless policy was put forward by multiple constituency associations. In the first round of vetting the proposal to strike was supported by 95% of the room. When the move to strike the policy was brought to the floor it was overwhelmingly supported by the membership. It is now gone and never to return. I am still pissed that it was ever in our book to begin with. Lesson learned.

Another big policy problem for us on the social end was our policy on the Human Rights Commissions.

The policy used to read like this:  “amend the Human Rights Act to unequivocally protect the freedom of speech and freedom of the press and should disband the Alberta Human Rights Commission.”

I still think we should disband the Human Rights Commission as it provides nothing that a court of law doesn’t and it has been abused terribly as a way to stifle free speech with little in the way of legal controls such as presumption of innocence and rules of evidence.

People purposely used that policy to try and wrongly claim that the Wildrose Party wanted to abolish the Human Rights Act itself or opposed human rights in themselves. While this was nonsense, it led us to constantly have to explain ourselves on the distinction between the Human Rights Act and  the Human Rights Commission. This was nearly impossible to do in the heat of an election and on doorsteps. The policy simply was dragging us down right or wrong.

The drafted and overwhelmingly accepted new policy does not call for the abolition of the Human Rights Commission. The new policy does the next best thing in that it calls for changes to the rules for the commissions and explains the exact part of the act that needs reformation. The new policy is below:

amend the Human Rights Act to unequivocally protect the fundamental rights and freedoms in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms by removing section 3 of the current Act and reforming the complaint process to introduce rules of evidence, the presumption of innocence, and protection from frivolous and vexatious claims.

The new policy is a solid statement affirming the protection of human rights while setting solid targets for the reform of the current system.

Many other policies were amended, deleted and added over the weekend. Much of that was simply housekeeping and helped tidy up our policy set.

There were some contentious propositions last weekend to change the party constitution last weekend as well. For some reason, a group of folks felt that we needed to consolidate the party’s powers more solidly within the leader’s office rather than within the executive. I wrote in detail on these proposals a few months ago when they first came out.

The most offensive of these proposals was the one that would have given the leader a direct veto over the selection of the party’s executive director and in the formulation of the powers of that role. It was heartwarming to see that resolution overwhelmingly shot down by the gathered membership. The vote was not even close.

While the membership was very open to the evolution of policies to better reflect the wishes of Albertans, the membership very clearly got their backs up en masse whenever something appeared to threaten the grassroots, bottom-up nature of the party. Every one of the proposals to centralize power in the party was overwhelmingly shot down by the membership. For those who claim they can no longer see the difference between the Progressive Conservatives and the Wildrose Party, this is one of the most glaring differences.

The Wildrose Party is led by the membership and that was made crystal clear last weekend.

Last weekend’s Annual General meeting of the Wildrose Party was a success by every measure. The meeting was well organized, the staff and volunteers did an excellent job, and of course most importantly the party took great strides forward in it’s evolution as a political organization that is preparing to govern Alberta. Members left the meeting feeling upbeat and unified and the message going out to Albertans was clear in saying that we as a party are listening and will change to best represent the province’s needs and wishes. We are true to our principles and are growing up.

The policies of the party are still not perfect (they never will be), but as long as we retain our open process of policy formulation and discussions we will continue to have the best set in the province. While some who feel a strong connection to some socially conservative policies may feel excluded, they really need to swallow a dose of reality and pragmatism.

The party used to actually have a policy against gay marriage back when I joined it nearly ten years ago. My wife Jane and I both found that policy regressive, offensive and unnecessary. Jane fought against some pretty dedicated supporters of that policy but won in the end and it was removed from the party policy book. Had that dog not been removed, the party would surely still be sitting at one seat in the legislature with no hope of forming government at best or even influencing it. Instead of turning our back to the party due to policies that we didn’t like though, we got involved and used the grassroots means to change those policies. If unfettered, grassroots policy formulation will always work as the collective wisdom of the membership guides the evolution of the party.

Last year the party focused on introspection and the reform of it’s internal management. This year the party focused on the policies and perceptions of the party. Next year I expect we will be focusing on bringing the party before the electorate again. We are in for an exciting couple years as we head towards finally forming a new government in Alberta.

 

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Transparency and Accountability

civiccamp

Transparency and accountability are words that we hear constantly from politicians and advocacy groups. Despite the prolific nature of the words in politics, the principles they represent are often not practiced by those who claim to want to see more of this. The term for that is hypocrisy and brazen hypocrisy detracts terribly from the credibility of any group.

When it comes to advocacy groups, full and clear transparency will naturally lead to accountability. With this in mind, when we launched the site for the new non-profit society (CivicCamp) we ensured that all of our expenditures, income and the principle people within the group were all openly listed on the “about” page. We also registered the society with the Alberta registrar after having had a NUANS search to ensure that the name of the society was not in use. Being registered as a society provides a degree of oversight that protects the members of the society and the public in that a degree of transparency and governance is required under the Societies Act. We wanted to be clear that we are hiding nothing about ourselves.

Our launch as a society has sent a loose collection of advocates into hysterics as they feel that they were somehow entitled to the name of our society though there is no legal record indicating that they ever went through the simple process required to secure a name as a society within Alberta. The reason this collection of folks did not register as a society of course is that they did not want to undergo the mandatory transparency and accountability that would come with such registration. These individuals were quite content to keep raising money, expending money and directly lobbying our municipal government with utterly no accountability of their own (despite demanding such from electoral candidates).

Some folks are annoyed that the founding of our society has perhaps undercut this collection of folks and are saying that we have attacked a volunteer group of some sort. Well again, no such group has ever been registered. Being “volunteer” based does not absolve a group of any accountability or ensure that all of the volunteer efforts are based on altruism. How do we know this group was all volunteer? They apparently have somehow gotten a grant and some union funding. With no mechanism of controls, visible people in charge or real transparency we have only their word to rely on that that these solicited funds did not go into the pockets of any members of this group.

This group has been claiming to be unbiased and acting only in the interest of civic engagement too. That is simply and utterly untrue and is very easy to disprove. This group of people has a very distinct political agenda and it is reflected quite clearly in the document below that was presented to and which was accepted by Calgary’s city council during budget deliberations. Budget presentation letter

As can be seen in this letter, this group of folks brazenly asked for no less than a 75% property tax increase as well as wanting to dip deeply into the ideological world of socialism in having city council somehow implement a “progressive” form of utility billing. They referenced the ever kooky ImagineCalgary document in their letter as well.

Let’s be clear, there is nothing wrong with a group of people presenting their views to people on all levels of government. It is called advocacy and it is an integral part of our democracy. The problem comes when a group of people has such a strong ideological and partisan slant and then tries to present itself innocently as a as an unbiased volunteer organization facilitating election forums at election time. When this sort of disingenuous activity comes from a group of people, folks like me are forced to call bullshit.

Refusing to register as any formal sort of group allows a group to mask the accountability that comes with having the principle members listed and open to public scrutiny. When one looks at the names that pop up in association with this apparent volunteer group that I aggrieved I can understand why they would not advertise it. People like Grant Neufeld who compares people who travel by air to murderers and slave owners or Chelsea Pratchett who was deeply involved with the Occupy Calgary squatting in a city park  come up in association with this group and yes hardly add credibility to them or any sense of a lack of bias to them. I can understand why some would want to mask the involvement of these kind of people in their informal group but alas, it costs accountability and credibility when a group refuses such transparency. The names associated with this collection of people read like a who’s who of Calgary’s extreme left activists. There is nothing wrong with that but this should not be hidden.

As the saying goes: you can’t both suck and blow. Is this loose collection of people an unbiased volunteer group that just wants to facilitate electoral participation or is it a highly ideological advocacy group that wants to press for specific policies in city hall? This bunch of people has tried to be both and have tried to hide their intent through a total lack of transparency.

CivicCamp is now registered as a non-profit society with full transparency and is not pretending to be unbiased.

I have not taken away the right of a motley collection of activists to either advocate for their policies or to volunteer for election activities. They may do either. I only have taken away the mask that they had been using to try to play both sides. If these folks want to keep advocating or volunteering I say good on them! If they try to mask themselves again though I will expose them yet again.

What’s so hard about transparency? It took five of us a couple hours, a meeting, a form to fill out and $100 to register a non-profit society. I suggest that other groups aspiring to have advocacy organizations do the same. It lends credibility, adds transparency and perhaps most important of all, protects the name of your organization.

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Wildrose AGM 2013. Constitution time.

It is undeniable that the Wildrose Party has made terrific strides in the last 8 years or so within Alberta. Our provincial government has been held to account more effectively than we have seen in decades as Alberta finally has a strong opposition party in the legislature.

As the Wildrose Party continues to grow we will of course have some growing pains and internal battles to hash out.

There is an element within the Wildrose Party that sees the grassroots membership and basis of the party as a necessary evil at best. Year after year we have to fight off attempts to centralize the management of the party among a small and unaccountable group while sidelining means of member control and party accountability. The Executive Committee is the branch of the party that is to be controlled by nobody else but the membership at large and this distinction and role is critical to the entire basis and purpose of the party. This power within the Executive Committee has constantly annoyed the weasel faction within the party thus constant efforts have been made to reduce the role and strength of the Executive Committee every year.

Due to party meddling and a large number of Executive Committee resignations within the party, the Wildrose Party found itself last year after the election with a do-nothing party executive that could barely bring itself to meet more than once over the phone every couple of months.

This ineffective Executive Committee so impressed some of the powers that be within the party that they even tried to defer the party’s annual general meeting for two years so that they need not risk getting an active Executive Committee chosen by the membership. This effort was exposed though and due to this being in complete contravention of the Alberta Societies Act, an AGM was suddenly and grudgingly slapped together to at the least meet legal requirements within Alberta.

With a meeting scheduled no other information was put out to the membership at large on details for things such as Executive Committee elections. It became incumbent upon party members such as myself to blog the information that the party refused to promote and to give a platform to aspiring candidates for Executive Committee positions. Party members Rob Woronuk and others worked to hold open candidate debates so that members could get to know the candidates as again, the party refused to offer such aids to the internal democratic process for some reason.

It took a great deal of effort to pull the party kicking and screaming into adherence with it’s own constitution in leading up to the AGM.

Thanks to the efforts of many dedicated and stubborn party activists, a good AGM was held where an active and effective Executive Committee was elected in the fall of 2012 (much to the chagrin of the weasel faction).

Now with the election and retention of an effective EC within the Wildrose Party, the weasel faction has turned to a new means to try and take control from the membership within the party. At this year’s Annual General Meeting in Red Deer, the membership will be discussing changes to the constitution and policies of the party.

A few of the proposed constitutional changes coming forth this fall are nothing less than outrageous and they are clearly modeled with the intent of neutering the Executive Committee and Constituency Presidents (thus by extension the membership) in the management of the operations of the party.  The members must understand what these proposals are and vote them down en masse at the 2013 AGM to send a message to the weasel faction that we are getting really tired of this.

The full list of proposed constitutional changes can be found in the link below.

ConstitutionAGM2013

It should be noted that almost all of the offensive propositions are coming from the Cardston-Taber-Warner constituency for some reason.

RESOLUTION 16

OK the first and likely worst proposed change to the party constitution would take the power of selecting an Executive Director for the party from the Executive Committee and put it solely into the hands of the Party Leader. I will use screen snaps for this as the layout from the file makes it easier to see in an image.

resolution16I like how the statement says it: “clarifies process for selecting Executive Director”. Uh no. This resolution does far more than clarify the selection process, this resolution essentially would not only give the Leader of the party sole-authority in not only the selection of an Executive Director but it would give the Leader sole-authority in setting the terms of reference and power of the Executive Director.

Resolution 16 is ridiculous and outright dangerous if approved. There are some very good reasons why the Leader’s office is a separate division from the management of operations within the party. The role of the Leader encompasses many things but the operation of the party is actually not one of them. There is no rational reason to put the party Leader directly in control of the party operations and in having such powers over the Executive Director the Leader’s control of operations would be full and unchecked.

The Leader, Party President and Executive Director are essentially the top three folks within the party structure. If any one of the three has unchecked control on the selection of the people for either of other two roles, we will have created essentially a dictator with no reasonable check against their actions.

While we need the Executive Director to work in a productive and hopefully cooperative manner with the Leader of the Party, we simply can’t put the entire power of selection of this powerful role into the hands of the Party Leader. The membership must strike this down soundly this fall.

RESOLUTION 28

resolution28This resolution from Cardston-Taber-Warner made me scratch my head and say “wow” at such a blatant move to try and undercut grassroots organization within the party.

If one wants to start a dictatorship, one of the first things that must be done is to isolate communications and organizing capability among the masses and that is exactly what this proposal is trying to do.

I understand that some people do not want their personal information floating around out there. Having one’s name on a list as a CA President is hardly an offense to privacy and the person chooses to be in that role in the first place. We are not talking about home addresses and phone numbers here.

I expect this will be soundly rejected at the AGM but should this resolution pass I will state this here and now:

I will track down the names and email addresses of all 87 Constituency Association  Presidents within the Wildrose Party and will list them on this site along with regular updates. I have the connections, the will and the means to do this so why don’t you weasels just drop this odious suggestion now?

Why on earth would we want to stifle communications between our constituencies?

RESOLUTION 11

resolution11One would think that after having nearly gone in contravention of the Alberta Societies Act with the attempted deferral of the 2012 Wildrose Party AGM that the weasel faction would have been supportive of correcting the constitution to reflect legal requirements so such errors would not happen again. While two resolutions help clarify the obligation and needs, Cardston-Taber-Warner wants reference to and obligation of AGM timing totally removed from the constitution. I wonder which of the three resolutions will be discussed.

Those who despise member driven parties like the Wildrose Party also despise AGMs of course as this is when the collected membership can exercise their rightful control upon the direction, management and policies of the party. Of course the weasel faction wants to get constitutional obligations for AGMs removed. I expect the membership to overwhelmingly toss this one in the trashbin where it belongs.

RESOLUTION 13

 resolution13In keeping with what became a pattern, Cardston-Taber-Warner wants terribly for some reason to deeply enshrine some pretty strong unilateral appointment powers for the Leader into the party constitution.

It is critical that the Leader takes a strong guiding role in the appointment of these positions but I do not see why this has to be mandated in the constitution to be at the sole discretion of the Leader.

A good leader will be able to work cooperatively with the caucus, Executive Committee and Executive Director in filling these roles without having sole authority to do it all directly. If the Leader can’t do their job under those constraints of cooperation and compromise, then perhaps that person is not the appropriate one to be the Leader of the party.

RESOLUTION 22A

resolution22aVetting and preparing policy for presentation to the membership at an AGM is an exhausting, thankless task. I know this well as I served two terms as VP Membership with the Wildrose Party and that was while the party was considerably smaller than now.

A policy committee is a great way to get more done and to bring minds together on what is a tough and messy process. Many policies come in that are unreasonable, poorly phrased or at times outright incomprehensible. Despite this reality, the committee simply can’t be empowered to revise or comment on a proposed policy without the consent of the person or people who submitted the initial proposal.

Without this check in place in the constitution, the policy committee could theoretically change every policy submitted to them unilaterally with no consultation with the people who submitted the policy in the first place.

The policy formulation process will always be tough, time consuming and messy. There are improvements to be made.

Deleting this critical check on the power of the Policy Committee as proposed by Cardston-Taber-Warner would not be an improvement by any means.

There are some other questionable and debatable suggestions in the proposals and I expect more vigorous examination and discussion of these issues in the next few months. Policy will take me many long-winded postings but these constitutional proposals must be nipped in the bud and addressed right now.

Who are the people with Cardston-Taber-Warner who put these together? I certainly would love to see some attempted rationale for this clear effort to centralize the management of this grassroots party that we all worked so had to build.

Grassroots organization is messy and tough but it can work and it is worth it. We have to remain vigilant and keep knocking down the weasels who think that by setting aside our principles that we can get where we need to be. If we wanted to be in a party like that, we would be with the Redford Progressive Conservatives.

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A string of comments on a newspaper actually worth reading.

It is pretty well known that the comment sections of most newspapers have quickly become cesspools of vapid and belligerent ramblings from people on all sides of the political spectrum who like to hide behind the veil of anonymity. This has been sad as with this wonderful age of communication it would be good to see more real discussion from average folks on news issues. What many newspapers have been doing to address this lately is switching to a facebook commentary format (have to get around to doing that on this site). While not perfect, this at least takes away most of the wall of anonymity hiding the keyboard cowards out there and has fostered some decent discussion and counterpoints to stories.

The Calgary Herald recently reported that CUPE was working to organize flight attendants with WestJet. (CUPE is the union for federal civil servants but they will try to pad their membership in any industry)

Now the story implies that there may actually be a real chance that a union may finally be making inroads with WestJet. I say finally as pretty much every year unions salt a few staff into WestJet in order to try and fail dismally to organize in a company that has well paid and very happy employees. I wrote on this a few years ago when the Canadian Auto Workers Union made a laughable attempt to break into WestJet.

Unions despise WestJet as the company has consistently remained profitable in a sea of airlines that chronically lose money. WestJet has never made bones about the fact that it is the lack of unions that is the paramount reason that the company has been such a grand success for both it’s shareholders and employees. In the usual union manner, the unions would rather try to break in and drag WestJet down to the level of the other airlines than try to improve things at the already unionized airlines that are bleeding terribly. Socialism is indeed the equal distribution of poverty.

Now getting back to that comment section, it is worth giving the few dozen comments a read. Real employees of WestJet using their real names repeatedly and very effectively put lie to the threat of unionization within the company. Without the comment section in this case a person not familiar with the WestJet situation may have mistakenly thought that the company may actually get a union.

The internet provides us with a barrage of information. Sifting through this mass of information to find out what is true, what is exaggerated and what is outright BS can be a fulltime job. With true exchanges of views without anonymity we are seeing a great new tool in helping us find out what is really happening out there.

In light of the utter destruction of Detroit thanks to both public and private sector unions over the last few decades, getting to the truth of the costs of unionization in the modern world is more important than ever these days.

union-pigs-58792372749

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The power of social media.

While I am prone to using thousands of words in a posting to get an idea out there, Amanda Achtman managed to cut the Redford Progressive Conservatives right to the core with a catchy and funny parody video that is less than two minutes long.

In light of Redford’s plummeting support and incredible budget deficit despite such a strong local economy, many many people are wondering just what happened to the party that they used to support.

People are abandoning the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta in droves as they simply really don’t know what the party even stands for anymore. Amanda drove that home excellently in her little video and it is going viral. It is an awesome example of a small grassroots effort making a strong impression on thousands. Proper use of social media can be very politically powerful.

Improper use of social media can be politically devastating. The Redford government see’s their lack of popular presence in the social media world (due to a lack of real grassroots support) so they have hired a cadre of leftover comms staffers from other provinces in a desperate hope of swinging online views. As with most of Redford’s efforts this has been a failure and the flood of tweets and such from her paid gang is really not taken terribly seriously by most.

Never ones to let a small irritation remain small, the Progressive Conservative twitter bunch thought that the best course of action would be to collectively report Amanda Achtman’s twitter account for spamming. This in effect leads to an account being temporarily suspended while they confirm that Amanda indeed was not spamming (and she wasn’t).

The foolish effort above of course then turned Achtman into an online grassroots martyr leading to radio and television coverage of the video. At times I swear the Redford gang will cross a street just to purposely step into a pile of dog crap.

Below is a link to Amanda Achtman on the Source with Ezra Levant discussing the issue.

http://www.sunnewsnetwork.ca/video/featured/prime-time/867432237001/some-party-that-i-used-to-know/2297143795001

Good work Amanda. I hope we see more efforts such as your video from both you and others. It helps broaden political discourse for us all and as has been seen, it helps expose where the real extremists are.

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