Kenney repeats promise to hold a referendum on equalization.

Kenney made the promise to do this over a month ago. It really didn’t gain the traction that I would have expected at that time. It was of course pooh poohed by the usual pundits as they loftily explained that this isn’t how equalization works yadda yadda yadda. 

Our equalization system is indeed complex and it is indeed constitutionally entrenched. Equalization is often mischaracterized as being some sort of system where Alberta literally cuts a cheque directly to the federal government as well which is not the case. Equalization does however give the federal government a mechanism with which they can keep shorting Alberta on return transfer payments from revenues taken from the province and use those dollars to buy Quebec’s love. It is a system of interprovincial economic welfare and it has long stunted the natural development of our nation. 

Despite Alberta languishing in a protracted economic downturn due to the federal government essentially allowing us to have our main industry embargoed by pipeline cancelations and despite Quebec doing rather well economically lately, the federal government still milks Alberta’s economy by billions per year and gives it to Quebec where their premier is still shitting on the prospect of Alberta getting a pipeline to the East. 

It is a gross system of economic theft for political gain and it has to end at some point. 

Listen below to Jason Kenney at the 15 minute mark on this. He is pretty clear on this and I am thrilled to see this kind of political clarity from a leader for a change. 

Kenney understands that an Alberta yes vote to end equalization may still not lead to an end to equalization. Holding such a referendum sure would shine a bright light on the regional disparity and unfairness that our confederation has to offer Alberta right now though. 

While a lot can change in a short time in politics, the good money right now is on Kenney becoming Alberta’s next Premier while Trudeau unfortunately is later re elected as Canada’s Prime Minister. 

Even if Andrew Scheer miraculously finds the leadership ability to win a federal majority within the next 9 months, he has made it clear with his repugnant capitulation to the dairy cartels that his lips will remain firmly locked on the collective asses of Quebecers,

Whether Alberta is looking at Prime Minister Scheer or Trudeau, it is pretty clear that we are on our own. 

As Kenney mentioned in the interview, there is some precedent that can be applied through the Supreme Court reference on Quebec secession and with the Clarity act.

Our constitution is not written in stone. Referendums can be a valid tool in working towards constitutional change and we dearly need it. 

Alberta as a province has few tools enabling it to take on the federal government. Referendum however is a powerful one and we should apply this as soon as possible. 

Lets put equalization on the table and start a true national discussion on its merits. 

If a Alberta votes strongly to end equalization and that vote is completely rejected by the federal government, then perhaps it will be time to hold a second referendum on exactly what the Clarity Act has addressed. 

Confederation is broken right now and nothing less than a national shakeup can possibly fix this. 

Kenney’s promise of a referendum may be exactly what our province and nation needs. I am looking forward to the campaign already. 

Lush Cosmetics wants to shut down Alberta’s energy industry, but they still want our money.

I have to admit, I had never heard of Lush cosmetics until recently. I don’t wear a lot of makeup. 

Lush has been making the news on social media lately as Albertans have noticed that they have been actively campaigning against Alberta’s energy industry for years while still maintaining a number of outlets throughout the province. They want us to spend our oil money on their cosmetics but they want to shut down the source of the money. 

This is typical of so many of the ideologically driven. Leading by example is not a consideration while virtue signalling through the attack of important industries becomes a marketing hook. I am sure that the Alberta bashing serves them well in their Oregon and California outlets. It is galling however to think that these jerks are selling their product in our province while using us as a marketing whipping boy in order to sell their makeup elsewhere. 

Hey, their company is free to take whatever political stance they like. They are also free to set up shop wherever they like. 

Consumers are free to spend their dollars wherever they like. I most strongly suggest as this Christmas season hits that people do not give Lush cosmetics a single nickel and to seek out comparable products from companies that do not practice such destructive and insulting hypocrisy. 

A Lush rep responded to an inquiry just the other day and rest assured, they have no interest in backing off in their anti-Alberta stance one bit. 

There are a number of good local alternatives. I will list a few below and I invite any readers to add further links to companies in the comments. 

Lets save Lush Cosmetics from our dirty oil money.

Vote for choice.

Industry associations can provide great services for businesses at times. They can do research, lobbying and marketing on a scale which would be difficult for individual business owners. They can provide networking opportunities between fellow business owners and offer supports for business owners. 

That said, sometimes industry associations do not provide enough value to their members. In that case, the association has to either endeavor to provide a better product to its membership or fall by the wayside. Businesses can vote with their wallets and it is effective. 

I own a pub and café. For my industry, there used to be an association called the Alberta Restaurant and Foodservices Association. 

I say “used to be” because members of the ARFA made a choice 11 years ago to dissolve the association and give any remaining assets to the Alberta Hotel and Lodging Association. 

Clearly the association did not provide enough value to its members. Not enough restaurants felt it was worthwhile in taking part in the association and they left. 

The Hotel and Lodging Association provides little to no value to me and they are cheerleading for initiatives by Nenshi & Notley on their front page. Why on earth would I want to dedicate my scant business dollars to an association that wants to use them to campaign for politicians that I am opposed to in principle? 

Thankfully I have a choice.

Cattle producers in Alberta may not have that kind of choice soon. 

Agriculture has some heavy market controls that we are slowly but surely shedding for the benefit of all. The Wheat Board monopoly was finally ended. Supply Management is finally making the news and support for ending it is growing. 

Mandatory contributions to industry associations are fading but the associations are fighting this hard. 

Cattle producers in Alberta take part in what is called a refundable checkoff. For every animal they take to market, they must pay $4.50 towards associations. There is no choice in this but at least for some years now, a portion of these checkoffs has been refundable which allows producers a degree of choice and control in what their associations may or may not be doing on their behalf. 

The Alberta Beef Producers want to remove the refundable option of the checkoff. They want it to be mandatory for every producer in Alberta to pay into their association whether they actually support the actions of that association or not. Performance of the association would no longer matter as they would essentially have a gun to the head of producers. Producers could speak up but could not vote with their wallets as other business people can. 

There is a plebiscite being held right now where producers can vote on whether or not to embrace mandatory association dues. At least producers are getting that choice. 

Like most business people, cattle producers are busy folks. They only have so much time to take to go out and vote. 

It needs to be stressed how important this is. 

Folks who want to reduce individual freedoms in favor of state control are well versed in the frog in water method. They erode our freedoms little by little while most don’t even realize that it is happening. 

Initiatives such as this to erode or eliminate producer choice are dangerous and trend setting. Statists become ever more emboldened with every victory and we can rest assured that they will not simply stop here if they manage to take away the choice of cattle producers in participating with associations. 

Free association includes the freedom to not associate should one choose not to. 

Cattle producers can vote at Agriculture Financial Services Corporation offices or by mail until the Nov. 27 deadline.

While I am not a cattle producer, I understand how these things effect us all in the long run and in the broader picture. I ask those who have not already voted to go and cast their vote against removing the refundable nature of their provincial portion of the checkoff. 

The association will still remain and hopefully will do good work. Nothing ensures good work more effectively than giving stakeholders a choice in funding them. Once the choice is gone, we all will lose. 

Hats off to Premier Notley

OK, I am far from a fan of Rachel Notley and the NDP but I do believe in credit where it is due. 

Rachel Notley has used common sense and potentially put the brakes on what could have been one of the worst backroom screwings of taxpayers in Alberta history when she put the condition of a plebiscite on provincial funding for the 2026 bid. 

Hasn’t it seemed odd that despite years being spent on the Olympic file and millions of dollars spent, that the bid seems as if it was cobbled together on short notice? That is because it was!

Nenshi and a small gang of the city’s elites have had the 2026 Olympics in their sights for years. What a grand party they planned to have. Dozens of six figure salary positions can be created for friends while cocktail parties are held, ribbons are cut and trips are expensed to the taxpayers all in the name of working on the Olympic games. 

That grand self-serving dream came to a sudden grinding halt when the Notley government announced that they wouldn’t give Nenshi a penny for the Olympics without seeing an affirmative vote in a plebiscite in Calgary. 

Nenshi’s tantrum when this came down is rumored to be legendary. Hours were spent in secret city hall meetings hidden from taxpayer scrutiny where he alternated between raving and browbeating in hopes of finding a way to bypass taxpayer approval on what would have been his grandest personal vanity project to date. 

It was all to no avail. The taxpayers were going to have their say and Nenshi couldn’t stop it. 

Nenshi and gang had suddenly gone from arrogant and confident on their project to arrogant and desperate (the arrogance never goes away). How on earth would they cobble a plausible bid together in short order when they had done little aside from popping champagne corks in the confidence that they had pulled their project off. It was now time to scramble. 

Bidco was slapped together as a private organization funded with public dollars in order to maintain the ideal of secrecy that Nenshi embraces. Mary Moran was pulled from her file with Calgary Economic Development (an ineffective and expensive arm of city hall) and given a nearly $300,000 salary along with bonuses for a successful bid (the bonuses were removed quickly as the scandal began to break). Millions taxpayer’s dollars were poured into Bidco with no control aside from a mandate to get the Olympic games at any cost. 

The comedy errors has continued for months as Bidco screwed up essentially every part of building a viable bid. What can you expect? These people were appointed as Olympic cheerleaders. They are Olympic salespeople. They clearly have utterly no real fiscal sense or organizational skill. 

At the last possible minute, the collection of clowns released a grotesque bid plan of sorts in a desperate effort to stave off a shutdown of the bid by city council. While the majority of council wanted to stop this train wreck from proceeding, Nenshi had managed to browbeat enough members into supporting the bid and breathing a little more life into this underfunded, poorly planned monster. 

Now the decision is exactly where Nenshi never wanted it to be. The choice is in the hands of Calgarian taxpayers who will be voting this Tuesday. 

It has been stomach turning watching all city resources being directed to selling this bid to taxpayers. We will never know exactly what Bidco spent on what as Nenshi and gang purposely made it into a secret organization. I do hope that there is some sort of public audit of this after all is said and done though as I expect there are still a number of scandals hiding in there. 

Will Calgarians see through this sales job? Will they reject being force fed on an Olympic bid with their own dollars? 

We will find out in a few days. 

One thing we can say with confidence though is that this bid would have been rammed down the throats of taxpayers with utterly no consultation if Notley had not forced the Olympic gang to go directly to the taxpayers on it. 

For that, if possibly nothing else I thank you Premier Notley. 

Now get out there and vote NO on Tuesday folks. 

Lies, damn lies & Bidco

Mary Moran

Calgary has been exploring an Olympic bid now for a number of years. Millions have been spent only to have nothing aside from a skeleton of a plan along with some hopes and dreams to show for it. 

As the bid deadline approached. the city of Calgary spawned Bidco out of desperation in hopes of ramming through a bid plan that taxpayers may possibly accept. We have to thank Rachel Notley for putting a plebiscite condition on provincial funding or we can be assured that Nenshi and the usual elites would simply have pushed the bid through with little to no real discussion among Calgarians, 

Bidco was a farce from day one. The organization was purposely formed as a private but tax funded entity. The only reason for this was to ensure that they never have to disclose how they are spending funds through freedom of information requests. According to Mary Moran (head of Bidco), upwards of $10-$12 million has been spent in pursuit of the games to date. She can’t even give us a number better than a ballpark. These fiscal skills are reflected in the bid cobbled together last week. We don’t know how those funds were spent or in who’s pockets they went.  

Mary Moran used to lead Calgary Economic Development which is essentially a city hall agency. In her years there she has spent millions only to lead Calgary’s once thriving downtown to a shameful 27% vacancy rate. Chasing Amazon with chalk drawings on sidewalks didn’t do the trick but it was a hallmark CED sort of initiative. 

While most people in the private sector would be fired for such a lacklustre performance on such an important and expensive file, Moran was instead given leave to head Bidco for a salary of nearly $300,000 per year. 

The first Bidco scandal erupted within days when it was revealed that Moran would be getting bonuses for a successful bid on top of her already generous salary. Bidco quickly backtracked and removed the bonus provisions (as far as we know, we cant FOIP them). The damage was done right from the start though. It was clear that Bidco was anything but an impartial organization with the interests of Calgarians in mind. This was an group that was tasked to win the games at all costs and it sure shows today. 

Bidco lurched along from scandal, to bungle to leak for months. While millions were being spent, we seemed to be making utterly no progress towards a reasonable Olympic bid. With no deal struck while the plebiscite approached and with members of city council preparing to shut this disaster down, Bidco cobbled together a bid proposal literally on the 11th hour in order to drag this whole mess out. 

To call the proposed bid a train wreck would be generous. It was clearly hashed together with little thought or skill and the gaps and holes are numerous in the plan. 

Let’s be frank. The Calgary 2026 Olympic bid proposal is built on pure bullshit. Its hard to tell where to begin on this mess. 

Lets start with the expectation that an insurance company will provide them with $200 million in cost overrun coverage. This notion is utterly bizarre. The average games have a 156% cost overrun. Tokyo has managed to blow their games cost from a projected $7 billion to $25 billion and it is still growing. As Bidco has proven themselves incapable of organizing a ping pong match much less an Olympic games, they hardly instill confidence.

What company on earth would provide that coverage? Maybe with a $200 million dollar deductible. Unless an insurer can be shown to be providing this coverage, it has to be assumed that this $200 million portion of the current bid is simply bullshit. 

Lets have a look at venues. Canmore is proposed as the location for many of the Nordic events but it has not been secured. When asked of what will happen if Canmore falls through, Scott Hutcheson from Bidco simply said we will go somewhere else. That is fine and dandy but it will blow yet another hole in their shoestring budget. 

While Bidco is claiming that the ski jumping will be held in Whistler, it has been revealed that Bidco hasn’t even contacted the BC government on this, much less cut a deal. It will take tens of millions to build new jumps if a deal isn’t struck and when it is considered that Bidco is too inept to even contact potential hosts, I am not terribly confident that they will be able to secure an arrangement. 

Bidco has not secured a location for the curling events either. That means we can have no idea what the costs may be from renting, to building to renovating. It is a giant question mark and it again blows up their little budget. 

Speaking of the budget, part of the creative accounting used in order to make a minimal Olympic bid was to designate some $150 million that was already earmarked for development and improvement in Victoria Park as being Olympic funding. That helps make their numbers jive but doesn’t actually put a single dime into Olympic venues. This again leaves their budget in tatters. It was a band aid at best, outright book cooking at worst. 

The Olympic bid budget is acting under the assumption that the NHL would be participating in the games. With the addition of the NHL, ad revenues will grow dramatically along with higher demand for ticket sales. Unfortunately the NHL has not found it worth risking their players in the Olympics and they refused to participate in the last winter games. There is hardly any guarantee that they will participate in the 2026 games. To budget based on the participation of the NHL is utterly deceptive. 

Security is another distressingly laughable part of the Bidco “budget”. The initial proposal was already absurdly low at $610 million when it is considered that Vancouver spent nearly $1 billion on security years ago. With games presumably held at venues from Calgary to Canmore to Whistler it is impossible to believe that the security will cost less at all much less 40% so. 

But wait!!!

It gets better!! 

The luminaries at Bidco managed to shave well over $100 million in security costs from that initial $610 million estimate!

Either the games will be poorly secured or the budget will be blown. Likely both. 

In desperation Bidco has been coaxing former athletes among others to claim on social media that for every $1 spent by Calgary, Calgarians will be ten back in return! 

This 10x multiplier was immediately called out as the utter, fabricated bullshit that it is by economists and other learned folks but it still hasn’t stopped Bidco from trying to spread it. They are truly desperate. 

Would you believe somebody coming to your door selling investments on that basis? Bidco thinks you will. Strangely no other cities are rushing out to take advantage of this great deal. 

As of this writing, there are 11 days remaining before the plebiscite. While all recent polls show an utter lack of support among Calgarians for this broken bid, this can not be taken for granted. 

The appointed elite who stand to get great six figure jobs on the Olympic cocktail circuit are desperate and they are spending millions of tax dollars trying to sell their personal gravy train to Calgarians. Those in opposition to this fiasco don’t have such resources. 

The voting security is based on the honor system as apparently the City of Calgary is incapable of managing  a voter list (but they think they can manage the games). That means that people can vote multiple times and there is no way to track it. 

Many Olympic proponents have proven themselves willing to outright lie in order to get their games. I wouldn’t put voter fraud beyond many of them. 

That means that people have to make the time to get out and vote on this! Once by the way. I am reaching out to honest people. 

These games are a disaster in the making which will lead to generations in debt for what is in reality a two week party where half of the events are outside of city limits. 

Vote NO to 2026. Put this piece of trash in the dumpster where it belongs. 

Maybe things will be better for the 2030 bid. The city of Calgary and IOC both need heavy flushes before then. Until then though, this bizarre proposed bid packed with bullshit must be rejected. 

Spin spin spin.

Proponents of Calgary’s potential 2026 winter Olympic bid are going into full damage control mode as the secretive and loosely cobbled bid process is falling apart. 

Taxpayers were already getting pretty skeptical with the grossly understated Olympic expenses being proposed from the secret Olympic bid committee and their skepticism has evolved into outright opposition to the bid as real numbers begin to emerge. 

Nenshi and gang were counting on the provincial government to commit at least $1 billion dollars towards the Olympic games.  What they got was a subdued press conference from Joe Ceci held on a Friday afternoon where it was announced that the provincial government will contribute maximum of $700 million to the games and they attached a number of conditions. 

Aside from the 30% reduction in potential provincial funding, the tone and conditions of the funding announcement told a bigger tale as it was clear that the provincial government does not share Naheed Nenshi’s enthusiasm in spending billions of dollars on a two week party while the province remains mired in recession.

They made it clear and repeatedly that the $700 million was a MAXIMUM expenditure from the province. This is their way of saying “don’t even try to ask for more”. They also put transparency conditions upon the funding which were modeled purposely to poke at the most secretive Mayor and council in Canada. Calgarians are becoming increasingly frustrated and annoyed with a city council and administration that doesn’t trust them with information on how their own tax dollars are being spent. Clearly the Notley government doesn’t want to get dragged down in the backlash from this secretive group as an election approaches. 

Even Nenshi is having trouble polishing this Olympic turd these days and it shows in how he is starting to frame his excuse for when the Olympic bid fully falls apart under the opposition of taxpayers in the coming plebiscite. 

“I think if you’re looking at the city putting in $800 million, more than the province, that is not a good deal,” Nenshi said Monday.

Nenshi then began mumbling about some ways that spending can be cut on the games in order to make them feasible. 

Come on! We all know that the $5.3 billion dollar number is grossly low already. Vancouver cost well over $7 billion and Tokyo is now looking at a staggering $25 billion and growing for their games. Don’t bullshit us further in claiming that you can make that $5.3 billion dollar number even smaller. We would be lucky to come in at $10 billion in reality. 

Lets talk about measures of public support. 

As is usual, Nenshi has tapped the services of Stephen Carter in pushing for this multi-billion dollar pet project. A hallmark of a Carter campaign is to typically see a leading polls which all lead to the conclusion that the pollster wants to see. This was heavily and successfully utilized in Nenshi’s first mayoral campaign and we saw a taste of it last winter as a grossly weighted “engagement” was put out by the city where people had to answer about a dozen leading questions in order to register a simple no vote. 

The Olympic “yes” side is heavily funded and has experienced campaigners. Despite this, we have not seen a series of poll results released showing momentum for the games bid.

We know the polls are being done, so why are we not seeing any results? 

Its because polls are showing a broad lack of support among taxpayers for the games!

There can be no other reason. Campaigning 101 calls for using positive polls to try and build upon supportive momentum. The only reason one would not do this is if there simply isn’t enough of a support base to begin with and the momentum just can’t be built. 

The city of Calgary put out an engagement poll a couple weeks ago on their site. 

Despite the constant positive cheerleading from the city, they still can’t manage a glimmer of positive support from taxpayers as nearly 4,000 people have taken part in the process and 80% remain opposed to bidding on the Olympic games!

Olympic cheerleaders are understandably mortified by this public relations backfire. They have lamely tried to claim that their process was “hijacked” by opponents to the games. Their desperate reaction is sadly laughable. 

The only thing that the site was “hijacked” by was reality. 

People simply can’t bring themselves to support this terribly Olympic game bid while we remain in a recession. 

I posted a 24 hour poll on Twitter yesterday. It clearly will have a slanted outcome as I have been a vocal opponent of the Olympic bid and my following reflects that. All the same, I cant control who votes which way and proponents can’t be kept from voting. With an open vote such as that, 75% or so in support of my view would be expected. 

With 360 people voting in 24 hours even I was surprised as we found 91% of people opposed bidding on the games. 

Yes, in the end only one poll counts and that will be the one held on November 13. 

Right now though, it is looking very unlikely that Calgarians are willing to embrace this extremely expensive venture proposed by the Mayor and his gang. 

Expect the spin to get more desperate and shrill as proponents continue to push the games in light of dwindling support. 

It is going to be an ugly few weeks yet but it appears that Calgarians see through it. Lets just hope they make a point to get out and vote. 

A demonstration of the left view on economics.

Last night was a quiet one in my pub. Being a Thanksgiving with poor weather this isn’t surprising. That leaves me with some time to mess around on social media while working. 

As is common with me, I tweeted about something that happened during the evening in the bar as it was representative of happenings in all restaurants in our current economic climate. 

While I often post thoughts and things with the intention of stirring the pot, I really didn’t think much of the tweet I was sending out. I didn’t see it as being provocative or controversial. 

I sure didn’t anticipate the vitriolic and hysteric reaction that it was going to draw from the left. The tweet is below:

Again, the tweet really shouldn’t be that controversial. It was a simple statement on business reality. Restaurants and bars have just had an added expense due to the increase in minimum wages in Alberta. All restaurants will have to examine ways to recoup this new expense. We have limited options as business owners as many of our costs are fixed. We can cut staff hours and benefits, we can try to reduce food costs through reductions in portion sizes and we can raise prices. There is simply no choice in this matter. 

My place like most has worked with a combination of these options. Every action has a reaction. If you raise prices too high, patrons will stop coming in. If you cut staff too far, service will suffer & patrons will stop coming in. If you cut portions too deeply, patrons will take note of this as well and it can cost you some business. As many of our pub clientele are ranchers and other working folks, we have typically provided large portions for those large appetites. We have however had to make adjustments. The patron who noted the portion reduction was actually quite understanding when I explained why we did so. Your average person doesn’t dwell on these things until they see the expense directly. 

My tweet was as innocuous as stating “my rent has increased so I had to make changes to deal with that new expense”. I wasn’t delving into the whole debate on the merits of minimum wage increases and such. 

Its not like I said something like “Tommy Douglas supported eugenics!” (though he did). 

With the response from the haywire left though, you would think I did. 

Within minutes, union activist David Climenhaga jumped out of the gates with this tweet: 


He sure can read a lot into a tweet. Where was I bragging? When did I mention or blame the poor? I didn’t offend the customer at all. I simply had discourse to explain our changes in business practices. 

Apparently one shouldn’t even speak of such things as that is a poor economic reality. 

Thankfully I am wise enough not to take business advice from union activists. That is how we have managed to remain profitable in such a tight margin industry this last few years. 

Next I got this gem: 

Yes. This fellow is hoping that I go out of business for daring to point out that I had to reduce portion sizes. He would rather see me lay off 14 people than cut portion sizes. 

Thankfully, I have learned to ignore business advice from virtue signalers who insist on wearing their bicycle helmets in profile pictures. 

Seriously though, what the hell is the matter with these people? 

Then there was this fellow:

Dude? “End of days predictions?” 

I tweeted about reducing portion sizes. 

I really was scratching my head. Why were these people all going so haywire over what was a simple statement on an economic action. 

Finally I got the vapid tweet below which caused the light to come on and help me understand where these people were coming from: 

Because I am bound by reality, I truly didn’t see it. I understand what business owners make and never considered how the envious left looks at things. 

They think that we restaurant owners are making shitloads of profit. We are all swimming in money bins and can easily just cut into our mountains of profit every time the government adds an expense to our operations. 

I am surely a greedy asshole! How dare I pass on these expenses to consumers when I sit upon millions! 

Restaurant margins are notoriously low. 4% on average according to Stats Canada. That means that a medium to small restaurant usually only pays its owner about $40,000 per year. The hours are long and few places have some sort of salary on top of that. Restaurant ownership is a passion and not a way to get rich. 

The Calgary Chamber estimates that government incurred expenses will cost the average restaurant nearly $61,000 this year. On top of that is the usual increase of $17,600 bringing the total new expenses to nearly $80,000!

These new expenses are well over what the average restaurant owner makes. There is no deep pocket to reach into and peel off bills in order to pay these new expenses. There is no money tree in the back where a fresh harvest can be made. Restaurants are forced to deal with these expenses from within and they are doing so. 

One has to look at the deranged outlook of the left in order to understand why they despise and demonize business owners who are forced to deal with market realities in the only ways they can. The left is incapable of seeing economic reality. There is little hope in reasoning with them. 

Hayek said it best: “If socialists understood economics, they wouldn’t be socialists.”. 

Some of the left activists do understand that businesses have to pass expenses on down to the consumer but they sure as hell do not want to hear about it. That exposes how cost of living rises, unemployment grows and all of the benefits of minimum wage increases become short term at best. 

I am not sure which is worse. The disingenuous left who want to hide the reality that minimum wage increases do nothing to help the poor, or the fiscally illiterate left who feel that money and resources are being held back by greedy business owners in the industry. 

I will never share the outlook of the left on economics but due to the responses to my simple tweet I have gained more insight into their way of thinking. 

I guess I should thank them for that if nothing else. 

When spending tax dollars, yes we need to be selective.

Most of us were pretty skeptical right off the bat when it was claimed that Mary Moran’s role in heading the secretive tax funded Bidco would be in engaging Calgarians on considering an Olympic bid rather than pushing for one side or another in the debate.  When it was announced that she would be taking leave from her highly paid appointment as the head of Calgary Economic Development in order to lead Bidco, it was reported that she would be receiving a large bonus if taxpayers were convinced to vote in favor of an Olympic bid. The back peddling was quick and this apparent bonus was removed from her already generous compensation package. Flip flopping, secrecy and deception have already become hallmarks associated with the organized proponents of Calgary’s potential Olympic bid and it will only get worse.

All pretenses of Moran’s objectivity were shed within weeks as she pulled out all the stops in pushing Calgarians towards embracing an Olympic bid. She almost sounds hysteric as she actually invoked Brexit at one time and tried guilting a business group into supporting the games by implying that the current generation will be selfish and robbing the next generation if we refuse to embrace the Olympic bid. 

To be honest, I am hoping that Mary Moran is as effective in pushing Calgarians into accepting and Olympic bid as she has been in her role in leading Calgary Economic Development. While we see her at many functions and giving many flowery speeches, we really are not seeing any return on our efforts as downtown Calgary remains a virtual ghost town with nearly 30% vacancy in the office buildings. 

Moran got rather upset as economists along with other experts in the field exposed the proposed Olympic bid to be the absurd, low balled and poorly conceived concept that it is. Moran’s response reported in the National Post is below: 

This rather vapid justification for the spending of billions on the Olympics is distressing to say the least when one considered that it is coming from the person appointed to head Calgary Economic Development. She is essentially tossing out a shallow Keynesian case for spending in saying ‘who cares where the money is spent, as long as it is spent!’.  

People with a notion of economic acumen understand that at this stage in an extended downturn it is more incumbent upon us than ever to be selective in where we will be expending our increasingly finite public funds. 

The bottom line is that the Olympics leave little in the way of a productive legacy, they almost always come in way over budget and as has been demonstrated in Vancouver, they didn’t even significantly increase the tourist revenue in the year that they were held. The games are a one time event that really only benefit the local political elite as travel and cocktail parties become the norm for years in the buildup and end with a two week party where local taxpayers will have to pay exorbitant ticket prices to see the events. 

The estimate of the games coming in at $5.2 billion has been laughed out of consideration though Bidco is doggedly sticking to their guns on that. We will be lucky to come in at under $10 billion. 

Let’s be selective despite the council of Mary Moran and see where that money could possibly be spent with better returns. 

I will split the difference and assume that the games will come in at $7 billion. I know that this is split among multiple levels of government and that there will be some revenues (mostly coming from Albertans anyway) but it always has to be remembered that there is only one taxpayer. All of Canada will be paying for the games and Calgarians will get to pay on all three levels of government. 

Let’s look at what we can get with the expenditure of $7 billion tax dollars to help put things into perspective here. 

In light of our recent weather catastrophe

Would you rather double the Calgary snow removal budget for over 50 years….?

Or would you rather hold a two week party for Nenshi & friends?

Would you rather cut business taxes and parking rates in order to address the 30% office building vacancy in Calgary….

Or would you rather hold a two week party for Nenshi & friends?  

Would you rather build a few new hospitals or even dozens of new emergency trauma centers in Alberta….

Or would you rather hold a two week party for Nenshi & friends?

Would you rather end potholes in Calgary for the next century…

Or would you rather hold a two week party for Nenshi & friends?

Would you rather give out 7,000 seed money grants and loans to entrepreneurs who would draw investors into Alberta and employ tens of thousands….

Or would you rather hold a two week party for Nenshi & friends…

Would you like to build the entire Green line as opposed to the one cut in half due to city hall blowing the budget estimates….

Or would you like to hold a two week party for Nenshi & friends? 

The comparisons are endless as pretty much any damn expenditure is better for Albertans than pissing billions into a white elephant Olympic games. 

It is little wonder that Nenshi and his Olympic cheerleaders are working so hard to hide the real cost of the games from taxpayers. Even their grossly low balled $5.2 billion dollar figure is huge expenditure to make when our troubled economy already has so many areas of need. 

Yes, we need to be selective with where we spend our very limited tax dollars. To be frank, I think Moran should be dumped from Calgary Economic Development for this cavalier display of contempt for responsible spending. This is not a person who has the mind to bring viable enterprises to Calgary. 

Calgarians need to vote en masse to reject this whimsical waste of money not only to save today, but to send a message to city hall that they have had enough of this senseless waste of tax funds. The next generation counts on our getting our fiscal act together today. 

Or we could hold a two week party, 

Every road is different. Speed limits should reflect that.

It looks like Calgary City hall will be beginning their fall session with a discussion on a blanket lowering of speed limits in residential areas to 30Kph. I guess it is a nice distraction from the growing debacle of a potential Olympic bid. 

The usual lines are being tossed out there as pearls are clutched: “We need to protect the children!” or “its only a few more minutes a day to your commute” or my very favorite in vapid justifications for things “if it saves just one life…”. This of course tells one that the effort is being driven by emotion and ideology rather than actually being concerned with the outcome. 

There is a large segment of ideologically driven anti-auto folks on city council and particularly in city administration. They canonize pedestrians and cyclists while demonizing motorists at every possible opportunity. We have seen everything from Druh Farrell’s idiotic closures of Memorial Drive for a pedestrian festival (it was finally shut down due to public outcry over the sheer stupidity of it), to the narrowing of streets and building of bike lanes and tracks for a cyclist demand that doesn’t exist in any large numbers. Downtown parking supply is strangled leading to huge parking fees despite a 30% vacancy rate in downtown office buildings. The anti-auto efforts haven’t built a comfortable, pedestrian Nirvana in downtown Calgary. If anything, they have contributed to making the downtown into a ghost town as businesses and consumers have fled to the suburbs where they can still drive and park comfortably. 

Next on the block is a potential blanket lowering of limits. I look at this with a jaundiced eye in light of the past actions of city hall. I see this as just another way to chase down and hound those dastardly motorists who stubbornly refuse to embrace an urban hipster’s life of bicycles and public traffic. If we could just harass those motorists enough, they may change their evil ways right? 

To begin with, there is no pedestrian crisis in Calgary. Calgary is actually already one of the safest cities on the entire planet with a tiny number of pedestrian injuries and fatalities relative to population. Of course it is always good to seek to reduce that number but to set a zero goal is unrealistic and frankly idiotic. How did that plan to completely end homelessness go? Of course, proponents of these kind of plans aren’t driven by actual outcomes. They are driven by ideology and feel good goals. The only way to get to a zero pedestrian collision level would be to ban all automobiles. Not exactly realistic. 

Of those few pedestrian incidents (a couple hundred per year in a city with over a million people and most have no serious injury), most of them happen near the downtown core and on main streets rather than on residential streets. In other words, lowering residential limits will have utterly no effect on those incidents. 

All that said, there are many streets where 50kph is simply not a safe speed to travel. Many streets in the beltline are terribly narrow with vehicles parked on both sides and a 30kph limit is more than reasonable there. Many winding residential streets in suburban areas are not appropriate for 50kph limits as well due to the blind corners and narrow points.

Many many streets in residential areas can and do safely sustain travel at 50kph though and have no doubt, these are the ones that the anti-auto gang want to target. That is why they come up with plans to lower limits in a blanket way rather than picking and choosing by street and by real need. 

People need to get places and they need to do so in realistic time. We should not and do not have to justify ourselves as to why we want efficient travel. When some clown asks “Hey, whats a few minutes a day?” it has to be remembered that to a commuter that adds up to literal hours of lost life per year. We don’t want to give that up lightly. 

Not surprisingly, when the anti-auto set goes on about pedestrian safety they neglect to mention pedestrian responsibility. Many pedestrian collisions are a result of pedestrians jaywalking or crossing while drunk or distracted. That is a facet of this worth addressing but of course pedestrian education and law enforcement upon them doesn’t fit within that narrow anti-auto agenda. 

A common and often tragic pedestrian/auto incident is when a person is backed into/over. Speed limits will do utterly nothing to address this issue. Better driver education and pedestrian education is what is needed here. I swear, when people go on foot they suddenly lose all memory of what it means when those white lights come on in the back of a vehicle. I don’t care if you are legally in the right, don’t walk behind the thing at this unless you want to become a statistic. Don’t assume that the driver can see you. 

Kids are often brought up. They tug at the heartstrings and it is always most tragic when they are harmed or killed. Kids are far from being in the majority of incidents but due to their size they can often sustain some of the most grievous of injuries. Kids are kids as well. They can be tough to control and can sprint out into a street if you turn your back on them for a second. Sadly, this means we have to watch them ever more closely rather than trying to bubble wrap entire communities. 

Nenshi has a very expensive vanity project that he is pursuing right now. If he is to get those billions required for that two week party called the Olympics, he will need new revenue flows. Lowering the speed limits on streets designed for higher speeds coupled with a massive increase in speed cameras will be a great revenue generator. They can then justify it by saying they are saving children or vapidly say “If you don’t like it, don’t speed”. Not all laws are good or reasonable people. 

There is room for movement here. Yes, lower to 30 on some streets. Perhaps 40 on others. I say we could raise some to 60 if we look closely at them. When we see the usual suspects signing on with a blanket lowering in order to address a non-existent pedestrian crisis however, we have to get a little skeptical of their motives. 

Nomination minefield

Party candidate nominations are inside ball. Most people don’t have party memberships in any party and they only pay attention to candidates during an election period. Nominations occur outside of their radar until and unless there is something controversial in the race. 

Being an internal sort of race, a party nomination can and often does become heated as a political civil war can form within a constituency. No battle is more intense than one between former allies. Some constituencies never recover from nominations as divisions from dirty and personal races run too deeply for the association to come together as a functional unit after the race is over. 

Despite all that, nominations are still the best and only manner to date for parties to choose candidates with member participation. 

Nomination winners are not always those who best represent the membership of the party much less the electorate at large. A nomination race is based on who can sell the most party memberships and best get them out to vote when the time comes. Nothing more, nothing less. Successful nominees are those who can gather a group and organize them. Those groups are often based on a cultural or religious basis which gives a good base from which to draw supporters. There is nothing wrong with people organizing to win nominations in this way of course. They are using their existing strengths. It has to be kept in mind however that candidates who won in this manner were often propped up by a base that is not actually representative of the party. 

The only nominations that go trouble free tend to be uncontested ones. The only nominations that tend to go uncontested are ones in constituencies where a party likely has no chance of electing a member to the legislature. 

Right now, the United Conservative Party is the hands down favorite in most constituencies outside of Edmonton. That is why the vast majority of the nomination races have been contested and hundreds of aspiring nominees have been applying for the job. Due to the volume of applicants and the high stakes of the races, some nomination eruptions are expected and inevitable. 

Parties such as the Alberta Party have pretty much no hope of winning any seats. They are simply trying to find rational contestants to run for them in the general election thus acclamations are common and what few races there are tend to be pretty subdued. It spares them of nomination flare ups. 

The NDP have many seats in play but are a top down party that discourages open nomination races. Hell, one can’t even find information on their website directing folks in how to even apply for the job much less encouraging them. Because of this, nomination aspirants for the NDP run into the dozens rather than hundreds as with the UCP. While being terribly undemocratic, it does spare the NDP the untold grief of managing open nomination races. 

Partisan folks and media members love jumping upon nomination race issues in hopes of tearing down parties that they don’t care for. It is cheap politics but it can be effective as many folks in the public don’t understand just how little a nomination can actually represent a party as a whole. 

The latest nomination mess is a pretty striking one as an image was released of a group of men violently attacking a man on the ground. Apparently this attack was motivated by a UCP nomination race in Northeast Calgary. 

This is politics at its ugliest. No party condones or encourages these sort of actions. That won’t stop the unprincipled from trying to claim as much though. 

Northeast Calgary is a political nightmare when it comes to politics and it has a long history of dirty politics on every level. There is no sense beating around the bush, that part of the city is dominated by people of South Asian heritage and that culture comes with an acceptance of dirty political play that we are not accustomed to. Many in that part of the city view rules as things to be stretched or broken at any and every opportunity and they will do so without hesitation. They see strict adherence to party rules as a sign of weakness. This is not true of every person of South Asian decent of course but anybody claiming that this sort of political attitude is not dominant is simply being disingenuous. It will take time to shed those old attitudes but for now, it leaves NE Calgary as a political hornets nest. 

In 2011 I was on the Wildrose Party provincial executive while the nomination race in Calgary McCall was called. Four candidates vied for the position. They were Deepshikha Brar, Khalil Karbani, Braham Luddu and Grant Galpin. Astoundingly almost 6000 memberships were sold by the first three mentioned candidates within weeks. This is well beyond what is normal and we looked into things. We burned up the phone lines and literally sent people to hundreds of doors to check the veracity of these memberships. It was immediately apparent that cheating was occurring. Countless memberships had been sold to people who didn’t exist. All of the candidates aside from Grant Galpin had duplicate members in their list as they unwittingly shared lists and signed people up without their knowledge. We covered our bases carefully and did what we had to do. We disqualified the three proven cheaters. The optics were still terrible. We punted the three brown people and kept the one white one. What else could we do though? 

This was hardly unique to the Wildrose in Northeast Calgary. Alison Redford had to deal with a Calgary McCall nomination race that had nine candidates and devolved into death threats. 

Federal Liberals, the old Reform Party and the contemporary CPC still wrestle with trying to keep the scandals and cheating to a minimum in Northeast Calgary ridings. Its just a political reality in that part of the province that every party will have to deal with. 

Are nominations important? Of course they are. Should we pay attention to them? Of course we should. Should we jump up and down and try to paint entire parties when a race goes off the rails? Not if we want to be honest about things. 

There is no perfect system but this is the best we have right now. Lets not waste the hysterics on nomination races that have little to do with the attitudes of the parties as a whole and save it for the general election when they truly contest for the seats of power.