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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why am I on this cranky ramble?

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

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

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

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

Happy Monday by the way. ūüôā

 

Latest on Crazy George Clark’s pending kudatah.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Saint George and the NDP Dragon

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As time passes George Clark (of kudatah fame) has been becoming less and less lucid. His postings increasingly demonstrate a whole plethora of conditions from simple paranoia to a martyr complex to a distressing messiah complex.

While these observations on an individual should usually only be of concern for friends, family and mental health professionals, in George’s case it is a little bit different as he has managed to gather a sizable following of folks nearly as delusional as he is.

In years gone by folks like George wouldn’t get much farther than standing on a street corner wearing a sandwich board while¬†predicting the end of the world or some other sort of conspiracy. In today’s age the internet has given folks like Mr. Clark a much bigger street corner to rave from and it has allowed him to gather a flock of kindred souls.

While the Church of George only appeals to a tiny fraction of Albertans, that still is of concern as this adds up to a few thousand folks who are very angry, paranoid and delusional. As I wrote in a recent posting, George Clark has convinced himself and his following that he has found some odd legal loophole which will allow him to bring the Notley government down through petitioning.

Clark is planning a rally on the steps of the legislature when it opens where he claims he will bring down the government. While everybody rational knows that Clark will never bring down the government, we have to be concerned that he will manage to gather upwards of a couple thousand people on the legislature steps who are not rational. How will these people react when they learn that they have been chasing a myth? Certainly George Clark will claim that the government is corrupt and has robbed them of their hard earned kudetah. Will George and his followers simply throw up their hands and go home? In reading the writings of Clark and his followers I suspect that they wont go that easily and things could possibly go out of control no matter how much Clark keeps talking about his creepy “fight them with LOVE” lines.

Below is a series of screen caps of discussions when Clark and his following discovered that some internet URLs had been purchased by folks who don’t support the kudetah. Yes, these folks don’t even understand the internet and copyright laws at a grade 1 level yet they feel they can overthrow an elected government.

I want to keep documenting these sorts of things in hopes that people glancing at George Clark’s movement can research and see just how nuts this is. I also want it well recorded that this is a fringe group that has no connection to any formal opposition party or rational opposition group as NDP supporters are trying their very hardest to tie people to Clark’s cult.

I will start with a snap from George’s own tantrum when he discovered that the rules of the internets don’t always work in his favor. The domain wasn’t “stolen” as¬†he never owned it. Notley doesn’t¬†him anything, much less an apology.¬†He doesn’t¬†even understand how domains are purchased and retained, he sure as hell doesn’t have the capacity to find out who bought it (the WHOIS is anonymous). It gave George an opportunity to try and play victim some more though of course.

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Now, on to the reactions from George Clark’s followers.

In this post, loons speculate that it may be Rachel Notley’s husband and go on about how union members should be fired if they are found to be behind it. You cant sue them or bring charges against them but rage on. Delusional as always. I suspect that the government is less than scared of George Clark. Anybody with a few bucks on a credit card can purchase domains. No government conspiracy required.

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Here, some of Clark’s followers think the destination of the URL is not due to a purchase of a domain but is due to malware or hacking.

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In this posting, George’s crew goes on about how the world is controlled by Soros and the Rockefellers who are apparently behind this domain purchase. Another feels that this should be investigated by the FBI. I hate to break it to her, but we are still in Canada. No FBI here.¬† Soros probably owns the FBI anyway. There was a conspiracy theorist speaking on how reporting the legal purchase of a domain to the police was pointless as the government controls all the cops anyway.

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Here George Clark demonstrates that he is as ignorant of communications and trademark laws as he is with electoral ones. I wonder how many lawyers are going to have to try and explain this to him and his followers?

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There are all sorts of other ravings on George’s thread but the one below is the most telling. When frustrated by a dose of reality, Clark’s followers invariably start wandering down the path of speculation of what would happen if they simply chose to ignore laws. I fear that these answers would come pretty quickly to these folks if they decide they are above the laws created by a legally elected government. I just hope nobody gets harmed if and when they try it.

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Sadly, the passage of time only seems to be making these folks even more paranoid and delusional. They are distracting from real efforts to improve our current government and to replace the current government in the next general election (the only way they can and will be replaced).

These people are few and these people are nuts. They need to be watched though and I strongly suggest that anybody rational who has crossed paths with them should disassociate themselves as soon as possible. If and when things hit the fan on the steps of the legislature on opening day with George’s gang, the crap is going to spread far and wide and nobody wants to get smeared in that.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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You didn’t build that farm!

It has been a sad spectacle watching Notley’s NDP floundering around wondering just what the hell happened this week as the province has exploded in protests against their ham handed attempt to ram Bill 6 through the legislature with essentially no consultation with farmers.

Airdrie NDP candidate Chris Noble demonstrated the profound, arrogant ignorance of the Notley regime when it comes to agriculture in the posting below.

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Homesteaders crossed the planet with scant belongings and preparation in order to settle those 1/4 section parcels. Many of those homesteaders died of starvation and disease as they broke their backs for an entire generation to try and turn barren land into the productive agricultural land that it is today. Trees were cut by hand and rocks were picked by hand in hopes of scraping a crop from the land before long winters settled in. These people languished in literal sod huts for years while they tried to survive in Alberta only a century ago.

To have an asshole such as Chris Noble dismiss that entire history and go on his repugnant tirade about what he feels the current land is worth is nothing less than repulsive. One can see his gross attitude in looking at all land as actually being the government’s and that people using it should consider it to be a gift to big government. He feels that farmers owe a debt of gratitude to big government and should not hesitate to embrace legislation that could put their entire living and lifestyle at risk. Chris should read up on how collectivism works in agriculture. While socialism fails in most settings, the failure is most profound and proven on farms.

Shortly after¬†the screen shot of Noble’s idiocy began sweeping through twitter, his facebook page was suddenly and predictably pulled down and closed as somebody wiser than Chris likely made a frantic phone call to him.

Make no mistake though. Chris Noble reflects the view of most NDP members on agriculture.

Listening to interviews with NDP cabinet ministers in the last two days as they try to figure out just where the hell they went wrong (they remain clueless), it is almost frightening hearing how little they know about agriculture or even their own bill. The ministers cant even answer simple questions about their own legislation yet they are determined to ram it through.

The NDP sees farmers as just one more evil corporate entity to be regulated to the point of eventual unionization. Farmers represent everything the NDP despises. These people are individualists who don’t want government running their lives. These people won’t vote NDP thus the NDP doesn’t really care if they offend farmers or not (though they underestimated the degree of pushback).

Well, those folks on that “free” land built this province. Many urban folks understand this as they or their parents had initially come from farms. Notley and her gang of fools had better realize this and soon if they are going to have a hope in hell of gaining a second term in power.

I don’t hold out much hope though as the New Democratic Party of Alberta’s display of utter ignorance of our agricultural producers is nothing less than¬†shocking and despite this backlash, Notley was promising just this morning from her trip to Paris that she was going to force Bill 6 through the legislature this fall.

There should be at least an apology made by or on behalf of Noble for his repugnant statements. I won’t hold my breath though. The NDP still don’t get it.

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Oh look, another tiny group wanting to ‘unite the right’.

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They just don’t and won’t get it. It seems that every couple months we see an article written on a slow news day reporting on some person or another speaking on how they will “unite the right” in Alberta. Most often it is quotes from politically unemployed clowns such as Rob Anderson or Jonathan Denis who both have proven rather starkly to have terrible strategic instincts. I mean really, why should we seriously take political advice from people who so brilliantly destroyed their own political careers? These guys have always been self-interested and clearly they still can’t see outside of their little,¬†myopic bubbles.

This week we had an article on some group that claims to be on the way to uniting the right and is claiming to be on the way to raising $2 million towards that end already. I will believe that when I see it.

What these stooges will have to understand is that if you want to unite the PC party and the Wildrose Party (if it is even possible) you will have to court the damned members rather than push from outside!!

The article linked above speaks to these apparent “unite the right” proponents in the first part but becomes even more telling in the second half of the article. Both the Wildrose and PC parties have utterly no interest in taking this path right now and no outside group is going to force them to do so.

It is exactly this sort of small group behind closed doors that blew both parties apart when they completely bypassed the memberships of both parties and orchestrated a mass floor crossing. The fallout from that led to Jim Prentice and Danielle Smith being politically disgraced and destabilized both parties to the point where we now find ourselves with an NDP government.

Let’s be clear, the public was utterly disgusted with the deal that Prentice and Smith cut between themselves and they demonstrated that at the polls as the NDP exploded in support. There was no right split. People were just so revolted with both options on the right that they clung to what seemed like the next best organized party. They didn’t vote for policy. They voted for principle and now we all pay the price.

Despite such a recent history of the pushback that comes from backroom style merger efforts, some of these guys still insist on beating on that wall.

Last weekend I attended the Wildrose AGM and I can assure you that merging with the moribund Progressive Conservative Party is not even a tiny consideration among the membership at large. The PC Party (or brass within it anyway) tried every trick in the book from organizing the mass floor crossing to breaking their own law and calling an early election in hopes of burying the Wildrose Party. The PCs are now deeply in debt with little electoral support and nearly no fiscal support. Why on earth would Wildrose members want to take that on in a merger?

To push for a merger one has to start with courting the members and perhaps begin with donors. Perhaps a mail out to Wildrose donors asking “would you like your donations to go towards paying the debt of the PC party as they spent millions trying to destroy the Wildrose Party in the general election?” I suspect that I know what donors would respond with but that is exactly what merger proponents are asking them to do.

Patience is something else that is required here. The NDP will be clinging to power until the bitter end. If polls are low enough (and I suspect that they will be), Notley will likely cling to power for the entire five years that the system allows her to. We have a few years before the next general election and need not rush into trying to mash two groups together.

The PC party will be holding a leadership race eventually. That will be the best opportunity for them to explore the consideration of a merger. That will be a poll of their membership and their concerns should be paramount. A pro-merger candidate could test some waters.

In the mean time we will carry on as we have been. I do like how Brian Jean has been approaching things and speaking about ensuring that we get the “right” people. I am not sure if that messaging is resonating perfectly with the public but what I interpret him saying is essentially that the Wildrose door is open for principled PC supporters to get on board. The word :”right” in this context is not so much speaking to a point on the political spectrum as it is speaking to avoiding taking on the self-serving and power seeking element that was within the PC party which ultimately led to their demise. We want the good people from that party (and there were many), but do not want to assume the party’s baggage or culture of “get elected by all means possible”.

We have an opportunity for a fresh start and if we do it right, there will only be one party to take¬†what’s left¬†of the province back from the NDP in 3.5-4.5 years. We can build a principled alternative that has plans and hope rather than baggage and blind ambition.

The effort to build that alternative will have to come from the ground as well. Just the other night I was poking a stick at the PCs on twitter for what was essentially petty entertainment (yes, I was admittedly trolling). I was taken to task for it by a couple PC supporters who I do respect even if we have been on opposite ends of the field at times. It was food for thought and I really do need to lay off on poking the stick. If we want those respectable sort of people to come on with us eventually we will have to approach and treat them with respect now. Constantly shooting at their pride won’t do anybody any favors and I really have to cut it out. We do have a lot in common and with some rational actions in the next few years may be able to pull things together.

The memberships of both parties need to be courted though, not dictated to. These current “unite the right” folks will never understand that as they keep trying to force things from either the outside in or¬†the top down.

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Wildrose 2015 AGM review.

Most years when I do these AGM reviews, there are some interesting bombshells or critical items on the agenda to report on.¬†This year’s AGM while important and productive was not terribly exciting to be honest. That is fine of course. Better to be a bit dull than scandalous. This also demonstrated why there was so little to fear in letting the media into the convention to cover it. Discussion was rational and reasoned and I really see little trouble that could have surfaced from direct reporting.

This year’s venue was at the Coast Plaza conference center¬† in Calgary and entry was a reasonable $140 per person for the weekend. The sound and video systems were modest and effective. The room was adequate and the lunch was pretty good. I know that these things may seem petty to report on but they are indicative of party attitude and direction. In the 2011 AGM we used the Telus Convention Center and provided giant screens, a lightshow and a sound system worthy of a rock concert. That AGM charged $250 per person and had a dismal turnout leading to a $90,000 loss for the party. It was a celebration of Danielle Smith’s vanity at the time and we really should have been paying attention to the trend at the time. Policy was barely discussed while we were treated to a video story of the leader’s political life. In looking back at that, I am more than happy to see an AGM focussed on the nuts and bolts of the party as it should be.

Brian Jean’s speech on the Friday was well received and many people thought it was one of the best that they had seen from him. Despite that though, his support level of 78% in the leadership review made it clear that he is not as solidly supported as a leader as many party leaders have been. As a party coming from an election with an expansion of our caucus and essentially being rescued from being considered dead by many, most would have expected a review somewhere in the 90% range. I¬†think in some senses that this is a good thing. A weak but far from devastating review number could help keep Jean modest. Danielle Smith got 90% numbers and look where that led. She lost all touch with the sentiment of the party at the membership level which in part led to her idiotic and treacherous floor crossing. Brian Jean knows he has work to do in winning the membership at large and I assume he will do so. We have some years before the next election to work on this.

On Saturday morning there was a sit down Q&A on the stage with Brian Jean. To be honest, the whole thing felt contrived and Jean answered predominantly softball questions to an increasingly bored room. Such Q&A sessions are just the sort of thing that help a leader in connecting with the membership but they have to be genuine. Unless there is a microphone on the floor allowing members to pitch questions directly to the leader, it simply looks like a production.¬†It’s dull and makes one wonder if the leader can handle tough questions without warning. At the end Jean joked that it felt like an appearance on Dr. Phil. A good joke in a sense but it sort of rang too true. It was not what many of us wanted to sit through as members at such a gathering. I know Jean isn’t a fire and brimstone sort of orator and that is OK. He has to be able to manage uncontrolled communication situations though and this puffball sit-in did not instill any confidence that he is able to do so.

Policy discussions went efficiently with some healthy but limited debate. Extended debate on policies has to happen before AGMs as there simply are not enough hours in the day to split hairs on amendments and such. While some members will always express annoyance that there was not enough time for debate at the microphones, they were more than welcome to participate in policy vetting with their CAs or to take part on the policy committee that put in huge hours putting the policy and constitutional packages together. Hats off to VP Policy Tim Dyck and the members of the committee for putting all that together.

One policy that I thought could be contentious was the very first one calling for more competition in the provision of health care. The policy actually passed quite overwhelmingly and it was good to see that the party retains the courage to take on some of the tougher but essential policy stances in health.

A proposal under Education¬†to change wording to include homeschooling and use terms such as “fundamental” rather than core failed 126 to 114. The proponents were¬†very vocal though and quite visibly pissed at the failure of the resolution. Homeschooling and separate education options are clearly hot button issues for some¬†that we will have to watch closely.

A proposal to make membership in student unions optional passed easily. Entrenched left-wing student union members have predictably gone haywire on social media due to this but it really hasn’t worked many other folks up. Expansion of individual choice is always a good thing.

There had been an interesting proposal calling for the striking of a committee to try and reduce our bloated policy set to 25 key policies and present them to the members next year. I found it an intriguing concept as I had taken part in a similar exercise with the party some years ago when we greatly reduced policy bloat with a large, omnibus style policy proposal. Folks felt 25 was simply too few and the proposal failed. We should keep looking for ways to streamline the policy set though.

The two different resolutions to try and prevent floor crossing failed pretty resoundingly. There were a number of points made in discussion on it. A constitutional resolution to try and prevent crossings was quashed too. The bottom line is that the system is built to allow crossings and we need to work with it as it is. If the party is well led, crossings should be rare and not huge issues. I think the ability of the MLAs to cross helps keep the leader honest. This does not mean that the members are welcoming further floor crossing but that they apply rational thought to the policies.

The constitutional proposal that would try to bind MLAs to voting within the bounds of party policy was soundly and rightly defeated.

Most of the other constitutional proposals were housekeeping issues that passed¬†or nitpicking issues that failed. There were a few that tried to contain executive powers and add term limits and such. There is a residual distrust among the members of the central party governance and that was reflected in those proposals. The members at the AGM did express that they didn’t want to see any radical changes at this time.

One resolution passed which calls for Executive Committee members to stand for election for their positions at the first possible opportunity should they have been appointed to the positions. This addresses the issue that some EC members had been appointed to multi-year terms while never having been elected directly by the members. The EC needs the ability to appoint for vacancies and members need the ability to select so this found a good balance.

There is a group of chronic, malcontents within the party (I am sure that every party has them). I swear that these people buy memberships simply to bitch about every move of the party. I am¬†sure as hell vocally critique the party often though I hope and try to make it productive. I put in my share of time volunteering for the party and doing what I can to make it better. These malcontents whom I refer to rarely are seen when it comes to getting down to work. While some are still howling that the Executive Committee is rigged/corrupted/baseless etc. I didn’t see any of them put their names forward to run for positions. I have taken many shots at the EC but have always understood that it remains an open process that any member can run for. Many of this year’s EC positions were acclaimed because nobody else put their names forward. It really can’t be that bad if there is no lineups to replace current members. This¬†was pointed out to me by one of our MLAs at the AGM. It is a very good point and worth repeating.

To sum it up, this won’t be an AGM that will be remembered for generations. It was not a game changer and it didn’t make many headlines (banned press contributed to that). It was a good gathering that served it’s purpose and I did leave the AGM feeling optimistic about how the party is doing.

The members have it together for now. It’s time to see what our caucus can and will do in the year to come. I look forward to it.

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Wildrose 2015 AGM policy & constitutional proposals

It is no secret that I am a hard core political wonk nor is it a secret that I am a strong supporter of the Wildrose Party and have served within the party in multiple capacities. While a guy like me sees every AGM as being critical and important, some are more important than others. Due to the recent general election and the incredible disruption and internal change within the party, the 2015 AGM will be one of the most critical and formative ones that we have held in a long time. It is too bad in a bout of paranoia that the party powers that be have banned the media from the AGM!

The Wildrose Party has always prided itself in it’s transparent and open policy formulations. We used to eviscerate the Progressive Conservative Party for their hiding behind closed doors at their AGM. In doing the same thing we have unfortunately become hypocrites which is never a thing to be proud of. Rather than try to hide from or fight with the media, the party should work harder to avoid giving them fodder to chew on. Last August I wrote at length on the conservative tendency towards paranoia when it comes to the media. The media and political parties both need each other. Accept it and work with things with that understanding.

I will be attending the AGM of course. I haven’t missed one in a decade and I wont now. I will be live tweeting from there and I will be writing a full review of what I saw as I have every year for the last few years. I intend to be constructive but rest assured, I will never hesitate to be critical when it is warranted.

A party’s policy set is both important and unimportant in a way. Policies are really just a large set of the guiding principles that have been built by the membership over the course of AGMs. They often get way too specific and are very often prone to bloat as it is often easier to keep adding policies rather than clean up the old ones. The tone and direction of the party are reflected in the policy set which makes them very important. The leader and caucus are however not bound to rigidly follow the policy set nor should they be which reduces the importance of the set when it comes to actual legislation.¬†Local representation and free votes will be lost if all MLAs are suddenly bound to unthinkingly follow a policy set that may not represent changing circumstances or local needs.

Our party constitution has a number of proposals going into this AGM as well and these while often dry, are essential to the efficient and democratic management of the party.

The policy and constitutional proposals were ranked by participating constituency associations and will be presented to the membership at the AGM based on those rankings. It is impossible for the membership to review every possible proposal (some are simply not worth examining) so while imperfect, the ranking system is a good one to help us prioritize and reflect the will of the members.

I will now dig into the dry but important proposals one by one in the order they will be going to the floor. I will be adding my highly biased opinion on them and will be encouraging votes to that effect from the floor of the AGM tomorrow. I only took the top 20 or so as not all of them will be making it to the floor. This post is rambling and long enough as it is.



Ranked policy proposals Wildrose AGM 2015

21. … encourage competition and choice in the delivery of health care, keeping the focus on achieving greater efficiency and better health outcomes for patients.

This proposal ranked right at the top of the policies which is fantastic to see. Unions and other lobby groups have managed to turn our health care system into an utter sacred cow making politicians fear any form of change aside from pouring in more money.

Despite massive increases in health care spending in past decades, our waiting times and outcome are simply not improving. We have to look outside of the box in order to get the best possible health care for our buck. Every universal health system in the world that is surpassing us in outcomes for lest cost per patient (and there are dozens of them) allows a degree of private provision of services. We need to stop people from simplistically shutting down health debate when they imply that only the Canadian and American systems exist and that there is no room to change. Europe is loaded with better systems and we would be fools to keep ourselves from studying and emulating them.

The left will predictably go haywire at such proposals. Let them. We need to start the rationed discussion and as more people die on waiting lists, the public will become more receptive to changes. This policy is a great place to begin and we have 3-4 years to work on how to present that to the electorate.

38. … Conduct a thorough review of the regulations regarding electricity generation, transmission and delivery with a view towards introducing reforms to make these segments more transparent, more competitive and more efficiently regulated and administered than they currently are.

The never ending discussions on electricity deregulation. It has been fodder for rage, conspiracy theories and political ire for nearly two decades now. It is clear that consumers are not winning and it is clear that the deregulation scheme was poorly applied. While returning to full government control of electrical services is likely a poor idea, we do need to study how we can fix the mess that we made in getting government out  (somewhat). This is a good policy.

9. … prohibit spending announcements by the provincial Government during a by election period.

Notley began her legislative term with a hypocritical about face on this issue now that these announcements serve her own needs. This is a good policy. Hypocrisy always costs credibility as I spoke to in the preamble to this post.

22. … take concrete steps to eliminate the fundamental imbalance between Government revenues and expenditures through spending reductions and efficiencies.

This is fluff and bloat. It sounds nice but adds little.  Our policies in general reflect an inclination to reducing government expenditures and eliminating deficits. We can start demonstrating efficiencies in leading through example and not adding this to our policy set.

Change from:

11. … protect parent’s right to choose what school their child attends whether it be public, separate, public charter, private or homeschooling.

To:

11. … Recognize that parents are the primary decision-makers for their children and their children’s education, and protect parent’s right to choose the education their child receives whether it be through public, separate, public charter, private school or homeschooling.*

I am not sure where the proponent of this one is going but have some suspicions. I think our current policy suffices.

 

59. … Investigate the feasibility and manner in which the current Workers Compensation Board (WCB) system can be opened-up to become a transparent and competitive system with the cost and service benefits such a system could deliver in the provision of this vitally important protection of Alberta‚Äôs workers.

One thing I have consistently seen over the years in provincial politics is a near universal discontent in how our WCB is administered. I have been fortunate in never needing it and cant speak directly from experience. I don’t know if privatization is the solution here or not but it certainly is worth examination as the status-quo is not cutting it.

11. … Amend the Post-Secondary Learning Act to allow every student to choose whether or not he/she wishes to become a dues-paying member of a student association, in each year of enrollment at a post-secondary education institute.

Could almost call this “right to learn” legislation. Student’s unions are becoming increasingly expensive. The unions are often spending the funds on political initiatives rather than protecting the rights of their students (a good parallel to labor unions). Nothing provides accountability better than giving the membership choice. A great policy.

59. … gradually move public sector employee pension away from defined-benefit plans and towards defined-contribution plans.

This is a great policy and we need to work in this direction. That said, it will have to be done carefully as beneficiaries of the defined benefit plans will fight tooth and nail to keep it despite it being unsustainable. Our unfunded pension obligations on all levels of government are terrifying and we need to change this trend. The word “gradually” in the policy is a good addition.

Change from:

  1. …grant public, separate, and public charter schools more flexibility to offer specialized programs in the trades, arts, music, physical education and business while ensuring all students learn the core aspects of the standard curriculum.

To:

1. …grant public, separate, public charter schools, private schools and homeschooling more flexibility to offer or access specialized programs in the trades, arts, music, physical education and business while ensuring all students learn the core fundamental aspects of the core subjects.

No. Just making a mess here. Take it to the school boards.

26. … Investigate the creation of a Seniors and Disabled Care Allowance program that would give seniors and the disabled Albertans who require assistance for their day to day living the funding and thus the freedom to choose how they wish access that assistance.

People are healthier and happiest when at home. Initiatives that may aid in keeping people at home rather than in hospitals are important. This is worth looking into.

11. … Amend the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act to add postsecondary student associations with mandatory membership to Section 1(j) of the Act.

I think having voluntary membership will be good enough. Transparent unions will draw members.

38. … Conduct a thorough review of the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) and its regulation with a view towards introducing reforms to make it more efficient and responsive to the needs of both the industry and Albertans as well as linking its funding the activity level of the industry itself.

A review may be a good idea. It is a messy area. We have to be careful to ensure not causing further instability in the industry. I will determine my vote after hearing discussion from the floor.

The Policy and Constitution Committee strike a Member Approved Policy Restructuring Committee with the goal of subdividing the Member Approved Policy Document into two categories: a) No more than 25 overarching policies fundamental to the Party’s philosophy and priorities for future campaigning and enactment, if elected, as the next Government of Alberta

b) The remainder of the existing policies to be streamlined, and consolidated where possible into a more manageable number.

This Member Approved Policy Restructuring Committee will be tasked with consulting members and returning to the 2016 AGM with a Member Approved Policy document restructured as above for approval by the membership. This restructured document will be submitted on the deadline date for policy submissions according to the following timelines:

1) Approval of this resolution at the 2015 AGM

2) If passed, formulation of the Member Approved Policy Restructuring Committee.

3) Review at 2016 Policy Forums for CA members and other highly motivated members

4) Distribution of Restructuring Committee recommendations to CAs and solicitation of CA feedback/comments by August 2016

5) Restructuring Committee iterates the recommended document as it deems appropriate for submission to the membership at the AGM.

6) Voting by membership on the restructured document at 2016 AGM.

This is potentially great or a potential nightmare. I love the concept but question the viability. I say let’s give it a crack! If the committee doesn’t produce an acceptable product in 2016 the members can and will reject it.

16. … take control of the administration, application and interpretation of the Firearms Act with the goal of reducing paperwork and legal hurdles for gun owners in Alberta. The government should also appoint our own Chief Firearms Officer (CFO) and limit what the CFO can do on an arbitrary basis.

Todd Brown has done a great deal of work on this. This option is within provincial jurisdiction and gets some federal meddling out of our hair. I say yes.

 

26. … direct provincial health care dollars towards high quality palliative care.

No. Not saying we don’t need high quality palliative care but we don’t need a fluff policy like this pointing out that we do.

 

4. … Create an Equalization Reform Task Force to investigate the issues surrounding the

Federal Equalization Program with the objective of developing a new equalization

formula that correctly accounts for both provincial revenues and spending and thus is

fair for all Canadians and in doing so strengthens the confederation.

No. Take these issues to your MP.

17. … Allow private enterprise to compete against government essential services and receive the same grants as those provided by government monopolies.

No. I agree with the principle but this is just too vague.

9. … Pass legislation preventing MLAs from crossing directly from one caucus to another; MLAs must sit at least six months as an independent in order to consult with constituents before being eligible to join another caucus.

Absolutely not. Floor crossing is a part of the system we are in. Good leadership prevents floor crossing.

Danielle Smith and her band of fools all found themselves politically unemployed due to floor crossing. That is one of the best ways to prevent it.

The ability to cross the floor keeps party leaders in check.

9. … Pass legislation preventing MLAs from crossing from one caucus to another; MLAs must sit as independents or resign and run in a by-election even if that means their constituency is unrepresented for up to 7 months.

No. See above comments on floor crossing.

Constitutional proposals

Due to years of terrible internal leadership, a culture of mistrust has been fostered within the party between members, the leader’s office and the provincial executive. Central party meddling in nominations was brutal. In some years the provincial executive was neutered and communications were dismal.

This has led many proposals trying to limit caucus power and to strengthen the EC. The party is supposed to be run by the members and this battle is ongoing. The constitution is where all that happens.

8.3 The Leader shall be elected by the members of the Party using a preferential ballot, and must receive a majority. To be entitled to vote in a Leadership Vote a member must have been a member in good standing of the Party for the fourteen (14) days (change to) thirty (30) days immediately prior to the date of the vote.*

This one is sort of tough. Leadership races are good party builders as candidates cross the province and sell memberships. That being said, last minute members can make a mess of a race and I is tough to process them all. Just look at how Redford rented herself to unions in order to win. All in all, I like this proposal and say yes.

Change from:

‚ÄúDo you want a Leadership Vote to be called?‚ÄĚ

To:

‚ÄúDo you approve of the current Leader?‚ÄĚ with the voting options being ‚ÄúYes‚ÄĚ and ‚ÄúNo.”

Yes. The earlier way made people vote in the negative while meaning a positive. Lets keep it simple.

Change from:

Nominations shall close seventy (70) days in advance of the Annual General Meeting.”

To:

Nominations shall close thirty-five (35) days in advance of the Annual General Meeting.

Yes. We need more Executive Committee candidates and I know damn well some central party managers want to limit that.

Change period from 90 days to,

6.9.4. a Nominating Committee (if necessary), which must be created not less than one hundred twenty (120) days prior to the Annual General Meeting of the Party

As well as adding on eligibility to serve on committee:

nor are Staff or Caucus members.

8.9 In preparation for a Leadership Vote, the Executive Committee shall appoint a Leadership Rules Committee, the members of which must be members in good standing of the Party and voting members of which may not be members of the Executive Committee.

8.9.1 The Leadership Rules Committee shall establish the rules, procedures and mechanisms according to which the Leadership Vote shall be conducted (‚ÄúLeadership Selection Rules and Procedures‚ÄĚ). These must not be inconsistent with the provisions of this Constitution, but may provide for appropriate telephonic and computer technology for voting.

8.9.2. The Leadership Rules Committee will be the final authority on disputes related to the Leadership Vote and its process, but for certain offences set out in the Leadership Selection Rules and Procedures which shall be subject to an appeal to the Provincial Candidate Selection Committee.

A big YES!. We need more time to draw in good EC members and we need to get the staff and caucus members the hell out of  the process. This is the turf of the membership.

Lists of Constituency Association Officers’ names, titles, email addresses, phone numbers, and the Constituency Association they represent shall, at least once per calendar quarter, be sent in electronic form by the Party to all Officers of recognized Constituency Associations who have executed the ‚ÄėCA Board Member Code of Conduct & Confidentiality Undertaking‚Äô appended to the Wildrose Constituency Association Bylaws.

Yes and no. The central party tries to limit communications between constituency associations. This would stop that. That being said, sharing phone numbers is too much. There are some folks out there who I don’t want to hear from. Email addresses should suffice. We are at a point where folks in senior positions on CA boards should all have email.

7.17 Approved minutes of the Executive Committee meetings shall be provided simultaneously to Executive Committee members and Presidents of recognized Constituency Associations upon written request.

The party loathes providing the minutes from EC meetings despite being constitutionally bound to do so. We need to streamline this. There is nothing to hide right?

2.1 The object of Wildrose is to provide open, honest and effective government for thepeople of Alberta.

7.2. Subject to this article, the officers shall be elected by secret ballot at the Annual General Meeting of the Party for a maximum two-year term. A term automatically ends at the AGM after the member has served six (6) years on the Executive Committee or if the member has been appointed by the Executive Committee. A member may not seek election for more than one position on Executive Committee at a time. Their term of office shall commence at the close of the Annual General Meeting at which they were elected and shall conclude at the close of the Annual General Meeting where their successors are elected.

7.2.1. The terms of the President, the Vice-President-Fundraising, the Secretary, and one Provincial Director from each of the five (5) regional zones, shall be elected in conclude in odd numbered years.

7.2.2. The terms of the Vice-President-Membership, the Vice-President-Policy, the Vice- President-Communications, the Treasurer and one Provincial Director from each regional zone, shall be elected in conclude in even numbered years.

7.2.3. Provincial Directors shall be elected by members in good standing of the Party  from the regional zone in which the Director resides.

7.2.4. The Executive Committee may, with the approval of two-thirds of its members  present, and voting by secret ballot, appoint members to fill the term of office of any vacancy on the Executive Committee, provided that the person is a member in good standing and, in the case of a vacancy in a Provincial Directors position, that the person appointed shall reside in the regional zone that has the vacancy.

9.7. In accordance with the Principles and Policies of the Party, Caucus members are entitled to free votes in the Legislature, with the exception of the budget, votes of nonconfidence, and Wildrose policy and principles

11.4. The rules shall provide that any Wildrose candidate must enter into a standard contract with the Party which commits the candidate to paying the Party $100,000 in liquidated damages should the candidate be elected as a Wildrose Member of the Legislative Assembly and subsequently leave the Wildrose caucus to join another party’s caucus.

This edit gets a little messy but it is important.  The vast majority of EC members right now were appointed rather than elected. Despite two year terms,  the members should be able to vote at the first possible opportunity. The extended terms and attrition have unfortunately led to an undemocratic EC even if some of the appointees are excellently qualified.

That should cover it for now. Should be an interesting weekend.

 

 

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